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Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Bad News 

IU's abysmal basketball season. NIT bound if they're lucky. Trying to find the good side of everything I decided that this gives the IU fans a great opportunity to objectively watch the NCAA tournament without getting hung up on an expected Indiana miricle. Also, one has the opportunity to root for SIU (#16) full force. The other good news is Missou's 5-game winning streak. I'm predicting a Standford championship with a sweet 16 defeat for St. Josephs. They may be undefeated, but their competition really sucks.
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The Big News 

As some of you may already know, Andrea is preggers! We're both very happy about it. She's at 8.5 weeks right now and puking every morning. We went to our first OBGYN checkup on Tuesday and did the ultrasound. We saw a heartbeat, but not much else. They gave us pictures, and Andrea says she can see it's shape. It looks like a sperm whale to me (no pun intended, it really does). Anyways, we've given it the temporary name of "peanut".
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Endorsement 

In case you haven't seen it before, here's a link to a great website. It's a journal written by a guy working for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He's a really good writer and pretty funny too.
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More Fisking 

Jeremy is absolutely right that a country SHOULD build a wall along its border. But when you're fighting a war (which Israel is) security trumps everything else. Mentioning the 1948 border is unrealistic. That border was an total disaster and would effectively mean the destruction of Israel. Maybe you meant the 1967 border?

Think back 4 years ago. Clinton, Arafat, and Barak staying up late negotiating in Camp David. Israel and Palestinian Territories have relative peace and lots of commerce. The standard of living for Palestinians is far greater than any of its neighboring Arab countries. Barak then offers a clear path to Palestinian Statehood along the 1967 borders. Arafat's answer was not to negotiate and comprimise, but to pull out of negotiations and start a terrorism campaign. It was a big fat F.U. to Israel and the USA. So Arafat has successfully killed thousands, impovrished his country, and stolen billions. For Israel to respond by just giving all these concessions with only the promise of more violence in return would be stupid and suicidal. The whole point of the fence/wall is to show that the peaceful solution is a better option for the PA than the violent one they currently choose.

In other words, if you play nice, we can both come out ahead. If you play dirty, you get nothing. I think when you put it in this context, the wall makes a lot of sense.

As far as concern over European opinion goes, I don't think Israel can really do much about that no matter what. I think it would be naive to expect the French & Germans to ever respect Israel and its right to defend itself.
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Mullings 

Hi all,
In typical consulting style, I went from filing my cuticles to balls-to-the-wall full throttle (excuse my French). Anyways, I have some down time this Saturday morning to post.

Amy has a great post below. Big props for referencing Andrew Sullivan, one of my favorite bloggers. My one criticism is your lack of concern over judicial activism. I think civil unions and/or same-sex marriage are an inevitable part of our future (a very good thing!), but accomplishing this by judicial fiat can actually hinder and delay the outcome (constitutional amendment). Charles Krauthammer has a very insightful editorial on the matter.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

What is Battlestar Galactica? 

According to Google Talk: Battlestar Galactica is a Go. for the gold. By a factor of Evolution. by Dr. Jonathan Shay. s Achilles in Vietnam Combat Trauma and the Adult Learner, The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and literacy. Programs; are designed to help you GET the flu: shot? the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot the flu shot...

Original question in bold. Google Talk answers after.

Of course I also asked about Vermin Supreme (a fringe Presidential contender) and here's what I was told:

"What will Vermin Supreme do" better in the future, and what it holds; for the future of the book in the Library of Congress. Classification System. The Library of Congress Classification

Use it for all of your Oracle needs!
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May I introduce you to the new Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing? 

In all the hubbub about whether we should become a more regressive society or a more open society, you may have missed the news that the Administration is considering reclassifying restaurant jobs from the service sector to the manufacturing sector.
And, no, I'm not kidding.

The Honorable John D. Dingell (D-MI) has a response. It's good.

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Barbara Jordan 

Yesterday I thought of Barbara Jordan and what she said during the Senate proceedings to impeach President Nixon: "I believe hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution." I wish that there was one person running for president now that would have the huevos to say something like that, or even one person who had 1/10 the amount of class as Barbara Jordan did.

I am tired. I am tired of hearing about "activist judges". I am tired of people trying to circumvent the judicial process to get what they want right now and it doesn't matter if it's Gavin Newsom, Marilyn Musgrave or the president himself. I don't think it's right, or even mature to completely disregard or disrespect one of the legislative branches simply because it might not rule in your favor. Besides what's the rush?

We have enough going on in this country that no one should have to campaign on a wedge issue. I do think that 43 is remembering 41 with his actions now, but the main reason 41 lost was the economy, not Ross Perot.

I want to cut myself off before I get snarky, but here are some links if anyone wants them.
The article in the Constitution that conservatives feel will force states to honor a marriage that's performed in another state against its will. (The Defense of Marriage Act exists to keep this from happening, but because of the activist judges that could find DOMA unconstitutional-it must be written into the constitution itself, so that it could only be overturned with another constitutional amendment. That was how they ended Prohibition.)
The New York Times explains that there are other provisions in Marilyn Musgrave's proposed ammendment that would also "annul" rights that already exist.
Andrew Sullivan is absolutely eloquent. He represents someone who used to be in President Bush's camp until recently.

Ok, now I'm going to not think about politics for a while because it has a negative effect on my disposition. But thanks everyone for letting me rant.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

My Thoughts on "The Wall" 

I have absolutely no problem with a soverign country building a wall within it's own borders, but the US can't go and build an wall in mexico, and take resource rich land from the mexicans.

Nobody would stop Israel from defending itself by constructing a wall on its own land.

In my humble opinion, this has a lot more to do with water resources than people might think.

How did Israel make the dessert bloom? There are two very distinct views on water usage in these two countries and that can't be discounted.

If the Israeli government removed the settlements and built a wall around, say the 1949 borders, they wouldn't have Europe crying "foul" all the time.

By the way. Last I checked, 60% of Israel didn't support the settlements.




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Congratulations, We Broke the Banner! 

Upon reading our humble site today, I noticed the banner add did not have content. Earlier it provided links to near east websites, because of the political posts.

Then it switched to "Battle Star Gallactica nostalgia" links.

Now it's empty.

This goes to show, this blog is really about absolutely nothing.

...By the way, thanks to Gary's link, I know I'm 73% Dixie.


10:50 AM ET Update, Back to Israel - Palastine Links

Developing...

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Roy Moore 

I'm actually quite fond of the idea of Roy Moore running for president. (The link is a halfway decent Slate article that explains why.)
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Monday, February 23, 2004

Nader 

I think Ralph Nader is simply an ego-maniac. But he may have some company. That judge from Alabama who refused to remove the 10 commandments statue from his court is talking about running as an independant for president too! Maybe they can run/campaign together. That would be kind of cool.
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My thoughts on the Border Fence/Wall in Israel 

Apparently they're starting hearings in the International Court of Justice on Israel's separation border with the Palestinian Territories. This has that bad smell of a kangaroo court to me. I surfed over to the court's website tonight and looked at its charter. This is straight off their website:

International organizations, other collectivities and private persons are not entitled to institute proceedings before the Court.

The Court can only deal with a dispute when the States concerned have recognized its jurisdiction. This is a fundamental principle governing the settlement of international disputes, States being sovereign and free to choose the means of resolving their disputes.


So in other words, only countries may appear before the court, and only if both sides agree to it's jurisdiction beforehand. The last time I checked, the Palestinian Authority is not a country yet, and Israel did not agree to the courts authority over it.

But alas, small details such as its own charter can't stop the court from some good old fashion Israel-bashing. I mean, how presumptuous of Israel to try protect itself from terrorists. How dare they put up a fence along it's border? Who ever heard of a country with a border fence?

From what I've read, it sounds like the courts eventual ruling is inevitable. It's really a shame. It takes what could be a respectable tool of international arbitration and turns it into a politicized soapbox that can't be taken seriously.

This isn't just my opinion. The EU (on behalf of 25 member countries), Canada, the US, and the UK have all asked the court to drop the case simply because it's not their jurisdiction.

The real reason that Arafat and the PA are so pissed off about the fence is that it actually might work. While nothing is 100% bullet proof, it might do a pretty good job of preventing suicide terrorists from entering Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel would shut down it's checkpoints within the West Bank and leave the PA in charge. This could effectively neutralize the PA's blackmail of increased violence, and leave Arafat in a strategically weaker position to negotiate. THAT's why they're so pissed.

I think it's important to understand that the wall has crossings at an average of every two miles. In fact, it's much more frequent in more densely populated areas. People will still be able to cross back and forth at crossing. Commerce will continue. But they'll have a much harder time SNEAKING across. While some Palestinians will be hurt by the wall, far more will have less hassle due to the removal of interior checkpoints.

In my opinion, there is another level of irony in the whole mess. With the wall built, the PA will have to try govern rather than act like a bunch of gangsters. The corrupt leadership of the PA might not last very long in a situation where they're accountable and responsible to the public. So the wall could help bring about the liberation of Palestinians from the thugocracy that rules them. But if the court and the activists that decry the wall are successful in preventing it from being built, they are indirectly responsible for keeping Palestinians under the control of this morally corrupt regime longer. Pretty ironic.

These are my opinions but this blog is for everyone to use. I'd be interested in hearing other opinions, no matter what they are. I really do appreciate getting other viewpoints. Thank!
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Well, I don't know about Y'all, but... 

I'm 61% Dixie: A definitive Southern score!

Thanks to Angry Bear for the link.
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Climate Control 

Here's a newscast that interestingly enough hasn't shown up on any
US newsfeed or even Reuters, but leaked over to Yahoo via AFP.


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Unsafe at any speed... 

Hola.
I'm just taking a break from my people's grand mission to undermine the moral fiber of society to write about something that puzzles me.

Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy.

The only theory I have is that Ralph Nader uses running for president as a device to get the press to pay attention to him. Otherwise, why would he run as an independent this time? In 2000, the whole thing was he needed to get 5% of the vote for the Green party to be considered in future elections...Now that motivation is gone-what's the point? Even he's got to know he can't win, so is the candidacy just to further inflate his ego? To give Ani DeFranco something to talk about?

Does anyone have an answer? Does Ralph Nader just need a hobby? Is he trying to take down his evil twin Dennis Kucinich? I've pretty much ruled out tryst with someone at Fox News (or the Bush camp for that matter)-although it might make sense, I really don't want to picture it.

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RE: Video Games 

I can remember playing pong and thinking it was the coolest thing ever.
Or how about that handheld football game where you moved a red LED endlessly across a screen from right to left or vice versa?

Well, computers have become much more powerful, and the games have become more sophisticated. You expect much more from a game than you used to. The old games just won't cut it, except for some nostalgia perhaps. I'd go for a game of Gauntlet, but only if I can get some other people to go in on it with me.

These applets are close to the real thing but are really re-writes of the original games. There's an underground movement to retrieve the actual programs stored in the arcade games (the ROM) into files. The game programs are then run in a PC emulator. The project / program is called MAME, for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.

It's really the original game program, to the point that the program expects you to put quarters in. The PC emulates this and you have to push F1, and then F2 to hit the 1-player button.

Here's what Google has to say about MAME, and if you need ROMS, you know where to get them....

BTW, my latest game addictions include Halo (for the PC!) and Warcraft III. Both are multiplayer games with incredible graphics. I think multiplayer is the wave of the future for all video games, as playing vs an AI will never quite give as good an experience as a human player.
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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Video Games 

So I found this site with applets that emulate Atari 2600 games. I tried a few out last night. I must have logged in 1000's of hours as a kid on my Atari. I frickin' LOVED those games.

So I played each game about 5 minutes and got totally bored with each one. I can't figure out why these piece-o-crap games were so appealing to me back in the day. I mean, they really suck. I feel kind of dissillusioned.
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Back to my favorite topic... 

Here's a link to an editorial piece that pretty much sums up my viewpoint on current events you know where...
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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I know kung fu 

This ROCKS

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Condo Crazy my *** 

As reported in USA Today, condo sales are "booming"

This was not our experience last year- not one single offer.

Probably for the best though.

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Oh, you mean that 6th Amendment! 

Noted without comment:

WASHINGTON - A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites), alleging the Justice Department (news - web sites) interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism.

---snip---

The government now admits it failed to turn over evidence during the trial that might have assisted the defense, including an allegation from an imprisoned drug gang leader who claimed the government's key witness made up his story.

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Luke Says: Leggo my Eggo! 


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Monday, February 16, 2004

Book Review 

I just finished Made in America, Bill Bryson's Informal History of the English Language in the United States.

It was a pretty entertaining and easy read. Different than what I usually read, but it came highly recommended. Basically the author tries to explain how American English ended up so different than the proper Brittish English. This is actually something I've wondered about a few times before. What I figured out is that BOTH versions evolved from a "common anscestor" (please don't read further if you're a strict creationist). In fact, a lot of what seams like American slang is actually closer to the original than what we speak today (think about Appalatian dialects).

The book is really 1 part linguistics, 1 part history, and 1 part funny anecdotes. My biggest criticism is that certain parts were so full of anecdotes, that any central point the author was trying to make was lost amid all the stories.

For any of you that love random factoids to impress your friends with, this book is a must. Example: The term Jumbo comes from what was the largest known elephant in captivity at its time; an elephant named Jumbo belonging to the Barnum and Baily Circus. It name came from "mumbo jumbo" a term for an African Witch Doctor.

Happy Readings.
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Cool Links for Monday 

Star Wars Diarama

New Video Game
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Friday, February 13, 2004

Got Gas? 

This nytimes article about hydrogen and the limited stores of oil had me worried. I'd been reading alot about how hydrogen is cleaner (and my very basic chemistry background makes that much clear), but the switch from gas to hydrogen talk I'd seen so far missed something: how do you make the hydrogen? Mostly by burning oil or coal. Doh!

But then this article came in, also from nytimes, which made me feel all warm & fuzzy again, probably from drinking my future fuel.

(if nytimes asks you to sign in, don't be afraid, it's a free subscription)

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Attack of the clones 

This image could be a reality soon:

Mini Me (Verne J. Troyer) and Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) star in New Line Cinema’s comedy


They've made embryos of humans through cloning
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Battleship Galactica 

Holy cow. I didn't know there was a new Battlestart Galactica. I don't remember much about the original except for Appolo and Starbuck, and the big martian-dog.

Here's the noslagia infusion I'm looking forward to. Although I'm also scared of becoming a pitiful has-been who has no idea how unhip he is. I.E. the guy who camps out for 48 hours to be the first in line for the Styx reunion tour...
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Battlestar Galactica 

If you hadn't watched Battlestar Galactica last year, you missed a pretty good miniseries.

They clearly left the plot hanging, and I kept checking back to see if a new regular series would follow up- but nothing showed up on the schedule.

This just in: they are indeed planning a 13-episode season.

rock on.
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Happy Valentine's day, in advance 

Hearts
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Hearts
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Thursday, February 12, 2004

What I might get Andrea for Valentines... 

Choice #1

Choice #2

Choice #3

Choice #4

Choice #5

So many choices, I just don't know. I guess it's the thought that counts though right?
Happy V-day all.
BTW, Pieces is a first class movie. It's one I'll never forget.
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Never Mind the Bullocks 

Here's the Sex Pistols


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How cute 

Bollocks!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Lather, rinse, repeat 

What is it about February-March that always feels so humdrum?

Things are slowing down.

Well, they seem to be unless I think about it more.

I'm doing stuff all the time- traveling to visit relatives, then
others come visit us, seeing friends, doing stuff on the weekends...

I'm still working late and logging in on the weekends.
I'm still taking calls at all hours (3:55 AM today)

Maybe I'm what's slowing down.


Instead of working all day, I stopped and did a few other things:

I took a walk in lieu of eating lunch at my desk- I was
surprised & pleased to see a clear blue sky & feel
relatively warm (32F vs 10)

I puttered with my 401K online (Q: Will I be able to retire at 60? A: probably not)
Must be something wrong with the calculations. Note to self: check this again

I bought an accessory to my new toy (flash ram key fob: 256 megabytes of pure love)


What's going on this week? It's so quiet.

Did the political fires burn themselves out?

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Sunday, February 08, 2004

On to Israel... 

I'm going to try cut down on the politics, but bear with me, I really want to write this one.

A couple false statements were made about Israel before, I'll tackle them one at a time.

False Statement #1: Israel is a Theocracy
Israel, in fact, is a Socialist Democracy. Any citizen can fully partake in all facets of Israeli life and culture. In fact, religious discrimination is quite illigal there. Their civil laws are quite similar to those of America. I am aware of only one law in Israel that favors Jews. It's the Law of Return that basically grants immediate citizenship to any Jewish immigrant, while non-Jews usually wait 5 years for citizenship. This law was one of the first passed in the country in 1948. It was a kind of social engineering to encourage Jewish immigration.
A country that has Muslims and Christians sitting on the Kenneset (Israel's parliment) and serving in its army, includes Arabic as one of it's official languages, and has no restrictions on the religion one can practice can harly be called a theocracy.

False Statement #2: "Israel is a Colonial Power"
The answer to this must start with history. Israel was ruled for centuries by the Ottoman Empire. When it collapsed in the 1920's, the British took control of it. In 1948 under UN auspices, 2 countries were formed. An Jewish one and an Arab one. Both populations had been indigenous to the area for centuries, however a recent influx of Jews from Europe escaping the Holocaust brought the issue to a point imbalance. Arab countries immediately invaded and declared war on Israel after the UN partition. Jordan took over the West Bank and Egypt took over Gaza, denying these populations to the self-determination that the UN plan called for. In the ensuing years, Israel was attacked in 1956, 1967, and 1973.

In that third war, in 1967, Israel kicked out the Jordania and Egyptian armies out of the Palestinian land.
While there are, no doubt, messianic types that believed in some kind of manifest destiny with the land, this was ultimately a strategic decision, made to secure Israel. At it's most narrow point, it was only 9 miles wide. It was extremely vulnerable to attack, and if they stuck to the existing borders, their luck would have eventually run out at some point. The country had already lost thousands of lives trying to defend it's 1948 borders.

The "Colonial" accusation is usually made in reference to the settlements made after 1967. These settlements went hand in hand with Israel's policy of redefining the borders. This may have been objectionable to the residents of Ramallah and Hebron. But getting run over by Arab tanks was also objectionable to Israelis. Most Israelis never wanted to control these people, but what other choice did they have. If it's a question of survival, most people will do whatever they must to keep others from killing them.

Now that Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq are much less likely to attack Israel with national armies, Israel find itself unable to hand the land back to any kink of legitimate non-terrorist government. They imported Arafat to lead the PA in 1993 and in 2000, it looked as if peace was a few steps away. Israel made an offer to hand over all the land and gradually provide soveirnty to Palestine. Doesn't sound too colonial to me...

Arafat walked away and began a campaign of terror. To the powers that feed Arafat (Iran, Iraq), peace was an unacceptable solution. They preferred a war to destroy Israel rather that peace for the Palestinians. So now there is no responsible partner for peace for Israel to hand the land to.

I know Israeli's pretty well and I follow Israel's domestic politics closely. I can tell you, most Israelis would give anything to live in peace with their neighbors. They have not desire to control other people. Most Israelis are also smart enough to realize that walking away from the West Bank will do nothing to quelle the Arabs desire to destroy Israel. In fact, it would only convince them that they're closer to succeeding in destroying Israel.

Israel is hardly "colonial". It's a bunch of normal people doing their best to stop a collection of Theocracies and repressive regimes who are bent on it's destruction.
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Bizzare Dreams and Bad CD's 

Kate, you dream is truly weird. I'm sure my dreams would be equally odd, but unfortunately I never remember them.

Gary, I found your analogy to a crappy CD interesting. But I'm suspicious of any theory that assigns wholesale moral rectitude to any political party. I think most politicians are cut from the same clothe and aren't really that different from eachother.

A better explanation is that it would have been politically unexpedient to vote against the resolution at the time. However, now it is to their political advantage to say they opposed it. I think this is a more "elegant" and more plausible theory.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

This is who I'm voting for... 

Click!
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Friday, February 06, 2004

Did David Hasselhoff help end the cold war? 

Now I'm finally posting something! I've been really busy, but I promise to write more.

Thought you might want to find out if its true....


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I have a lot to say on how the war was sold. I'll save that for a future post. But let me just give Gary more credit for digging up some great quotes. Here are some more.

Eli,

You are right - those are some good quotes. You know what the difference is between those and the ones I posted? The fact is that major Dems who may have voted for the Iraq war resolution now have indicated that they regret that fact and knowing what they know now, would act differently. The Administration has not.

It’s kind of like this: Lets say that a cool kid in my class (lets call him George), recommends a new CD (called The War) that is coming out by a band (the band is called The Neocons) that he thinks may be good. This being the days before Kazza there is no way to listen to it without buying it first. Now I don’t get along with George all that well, cause he beat up one of my friends a couple of years ago, but I agree to buy a copy of the CD on his recommendation. I mean after all, he told me that if you listen real careful to track three you can hear the lead singer say ‘fuck’ and we all know how much that pisses off the folks.

After I get the CD and take a listen I quickly realize that the music sucks. And I mean, big time. What makes the whole thing worse is the fact that I find out that the local CD store (Halliburton Disks) was giving George and his best friend Dick $2 for every copy of the CD a kid from school bought. So now I’m stuck with a bad CD based on a recommendation from someone who lied about it. And George doesn’t care, because it wasn’t his money and it’s too late now anyway.

That’s the difference.
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While everyone else was involved in the world, I slept 

Seeing as how I am now trying to study world politics more because all of you have shamed me by your smarts, I will tell you about a dream I had last night instead. I was on a tour bus heading somewhere and some French people were sitting behind me. I was trying to translate for them because the tour guide was speaking English. For some reason the guide said "hot dog" and I had no idea how to say it in French. There was another guy beside them speaking German and he started yelling at me for my attempt to translate hot dog. I started screaming "if I say it looks like a f***ing sausage then it looks like a f***ing sausage." Next thing I remember is that I was wading in a pool of dishwater with dirty dishes floating around. I was trying to clean them but I kept dropping them back in the dirty dish water. There was some type of function going on around me with a lot of people and they were beginning to leave and they wanted their coats and what not (I was supposed to handle those as well apparently). Somebody jumped in with me and the pool turned into carpet and he broke a glass that shattered absolutely everywhere. Everyone was getting pieces of broken glass in their feet. I started to pick it all up and all of a sudden I decided that it wasn't my problem and I left only to run into the French people again who started berating me for losing their stuff. Wowsa, huh?
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new website finally up 

Hey guys:

just wanted to let you know I just launched a new website for my company, Bierly Technology Solutions.

here's the link www.bierly.net
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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Backer and Betterer 

Hi all,
Finally got busy at work and have been busy for 2 days. I'm posting more foreign affairs/politics, so please bear with me:

Gary, I'm glad your mother escaped harm's way on 9/11. That shit is truly scary. My cousins in Istanbul were in one of the Synagouges that were bombed recently. They luckily were not hurt. I have 2nd cousins in Paris that hide their religious identity out of fear. And as you all know I have tons of family in Israel, who are unbelievably thick-skinned despite the daily threat to their lives. The point of these examples is explain why the threat of Islamist racism is very real to me. In addition, the nexis between Arab dictatorships and Islamist fanaticism is morbidly clear to me too. The repressive regimes have created an environment where such radical movements end up having widespread appeal. I believe the only way for these movements to be stopped is by having freedom in these countries. That's my viewpoint in a nutshell. A lot of people believe the US is partially responsible for propping up these repressive dictatorships. I think that's all the more reason for us to fix these mistakes of the past.

Gary is right on when he says reasonable people can disagree on the cost/benefit of the Iraq war. I guess we can only count on time to show if we made a wise move or not.

I have a lot to say on how the war was sold. I'll save that for a future post. But let me just give Gary more credit for digging up some great quotes. Here are some more.

Elana,
You call the country where I was born and of which I'm a citizen a "Theocracy" and a "Colonial Power". And you "object to it's existence". Sat here for 10 minutes wondering what to write. My first reaction is total anger. Maybe I obect to your existence too. Next reaction: Confusion. How can you matter of factly state things that are just plain wrong? But, I think you're a compassionate person at heart that above all values equality and justice. With that in mind, I think I can persuade you to change your opinion on Israel (maybe just a little bit). I'll save that diatribe for this weekend. It's late and I'm going to sleep now.

Sorry no funny website links. But I thought Amy's were awesome...
Goodnight.

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I'll take Pop Culture for 500, Alex 

Hi all,

I must admit that I saw this and it made me a little sad:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20040205/music_nm/music_grammys_cuba_dc&e=1&ncid=

They've already been to Carnegie Hall...

Sorry for playing possum on the political debate, but I'm not quite ready to jump into the frey. I do love to watch-and when someone hits a nerve I might jump in. (Hint: "It's the enconomy...")

Eli, I had no idea you and Andrea bought a second place, that's great news!

Gary, I don't have an answer about whether crazy people like singing about ghosts, but I do know that a Daniel Johnston mural caused quite a ruckus down here about a month ago. Baja Fresh was going to distroy it and enough people protested that BF will pay an extra $50 grand to keep it up.

Here's the mural:
http://www.hihowareyou.com/muralpics.htm

It's right across the street from UT.

Hope all is well up North,
Amy
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Retort 

Okay, there is a lot to go through on this post and parse. Given that I have actual real work to do as well, I will try and take this in small doses, kind of like having a Tootsie Pop. Eventually I hope to get to the tasty center of the argument. Bear with me…

You forgot to mention 3,000 dead on Sept. 11. But I've noticed that that fact has dropped out of the textbook for many.

While I won’t say what I really want to about this, as my language wouldn’t be suitable for a family blog I will say that none of us have forgotten anything. My mother had a meeting at the Pentagon on the day of the attacks in the section that was hit. Luckily it was later in the day, but still. I will also add, that the international situation that most of us are concerned about is the Iraq war and as a result I want to make one thing very, very clear: Iraq had absolutely no involvement with the attacks of 9/11. None. At all.

Look, all the chaos things you mention above are aweful outcomes of conflict, but by focusing on them, one fails to see the forest due to the tree in front of you. Conservative estimates have Saddam's regime responsible for the death of 1,000,000 of his own citizens during his reign. That's 40,000 a year, murdered. By stopping his regime, one could argue we have ALREADY saved 40,000 potential victims.

No one is arguing that Saddam was a Nice Man. The argument is simply that the cost of intervention is greater than the good that was obtained. I would argue that the cost (i.e. money that we don’t have, American and allied lives that could have been saved and goodwill amongst the international community that has now been lost) is greater than the benefit that was achieved. Reasonable people can and do disagree about this. All that said I would have been much more supportive if the war had been sold as a humanitarian intervention and planned accordingly. Instead we were sold a bill of goods about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Lets not forget some of the following memorable lines:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. "
Dick Cheney, Vice President
Speech to VFW National Convention
8/26/2002

"The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."
Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From Press
12/4/2002

"I am not eager to send young Americans into harm’s way in Iraq, or to see innocent people killed or hurt in military operations. Given all of the facts and circumstances known to us, however, I am convinced that if we wait, a threat will continue to materialize in Iraq that could cause incalculable damage to world peace in general, and to the United States in particular."
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Letter to Future of Freedom Foundation
3/1/2003

"Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that [Saddam] has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Dick Cheney, Vice President
Meet The Press
3/16/2003

"You bet we're concerned [concerned that those weapons might have been shipped out of the country]about it. And one of the reasons it's important is because the nexus between terrorist states with weapons of mass destruction ... and terrorist groups -- networks -- is a critical link. And the thought that ... some of those materials could leave the country and [get] in the hands of terrorist networks would be a very unhappy prospect. So it is important to us to see that that doesn't happen."
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Conference
4/9/2003


"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition
9/8/2002

There are via The Whiskey Bar. They have quite a few more as well.

Of course, really my favorite is this:
DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still — PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
George W. Bush, President
Diane Sawyer Interviews President Bush.
12/16/2003

So there you go, money wasted and lives lost and the President doesn't think that there is a difference between hard facts and desires. I desire a Porche, does that mean I should get the speeding ticket now?


Not to mention a WMD program that was a loose cannon.

Or, you know, not. One bottle of ricin in Kurdish controlled territory does not a WMD make. And check out the Post story here. Over to the right you can see a sample of some the scary, scary drawings that Iraq had cooked up for their weapons of mass destruction related program activities.

David Kay's recent press discussions clearly support this assesment.

Or, you know, not squared. Check out this graph from the Times:

"David A. Kay, who led the government's efforts to find evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs until he resigned on Friday, said the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies did not realize that Iraqi scientists had presented ambitious but fanciful weapons programs to Mr. Hussein and had then used the money for other purposes."

".... After [about 1998], Dr. Kay said, Iraqi scientists realized they could go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans for weapons programs, and receive approval and large amounts of money. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability, he said, was largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state."

Via CalPundit.

Stopping this dangerous and evil regime was a good thing. I think that people can be so blinded by their hatred of GWB, that they are unable to admit this plain thruth;

Evil? Yes! Dangerous? No! See above…no weapons, no involvement in 9/11 and I sure as hell don’t remember a massive Iraqi armada off the coast ready to invade.

that the overall outcome has been pretty successful so far. Losing 500 soldiers is aweful, but if we tried this in 1991, it would have been 5,000 soldiers by now. I think we should praise our military for the amazing lack of lives lost thus far.

I’m sure the military will be more than happy to have your application then. You’re not too old, in good shape and don’t have any children. I’m sure that Andrea can adjust to life on base and you’d even get to be an officer. Unless of course it’s just okay for other people to put their lives on the line for lies?

Not that the deserter would know anything about putting his life on the line.

So basically I think the world is a MUCH better place with Saddam gone and the Taliban out of commision. I'm sure the Iraqis and Afganis think so. I just found a poll that says 70% of Iraqi are positive about their future. I can't find a poll of Afganis, but I think it would be belittling them to suggest that they prefer tyranny and poverty to freedom and opportunity.

Me thinks that you maybe overstate the milk and honey aspects of all of this. Afghans have been less than happy with some U.S. reactions and indeed some refugees are saying "I want to go back to my country, but I don't think conditions are right, do you?", large parts of the country are being called ““inaccessible”…because the threat from "Taliban insurgents" has made large parts of the Pashtun areas in the south and east…” And of course there is the "large and lucrative opium harvest this year."

And of course don't forget that "Gun-Barrel Democracy Has Failed Time and Again" and has a success rate of "of less than 3%"

More later...back to work now...
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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

defense of statement, part 1 

Eli-
My objection to Sharon in particular is due to his past promotion of the Jewish settlements which he is now being forced (thankfully) to order dismantled due to international pressure. But I object to Isreal's existence for several reasons, particularly its existence as a theocracy and a colonial power. I don't think the same principle by which I condemn the relationship between church and state in Iran, Pakistan, Burma, and Alabama qualifies me as an anti-semite - if so, I know an awful lot of self-hating Jews, including my step-sister, step-grandfather, and the rabbi who married my mother and step-father.

As a citizen of a country which only partially escaped political and religious oppression from England in 1952 and has yet to be fully liberated, I see too many similarities between the lives of everyday Palestinians (NOT Arafat, whom I despise nearly as much as you seem to) and those of my grandparents, who fled to Dublin from Antrim in the early 1920s because the creation of the (nominally) Free State of Ireland in the south resulted in such tremendous crackdowns on Catholics and speakers of the Irish language of any religion that leaving their families was preferable to raising children as colonial subjects in the land where they were born. Like many Irish people, I regret the perception of our conflicts as religious when they are entirely matters of colonial power struggles. As my cousin Shane says- "if they [(mainly protestant) descendents of scottish and english planters] consider themselves irish, than they should be happy to be part of a united ireland (we'd be happy to have them); if they feel so damn british, they can move to britain."

As to Palestinians doing as they please, the periodic impositions of curfews and travel restrictions that keep people from going to work, the targeting of entire families for arrest for the actions of a single person and the wholesale destruction of homes - occasionally with the residents inside - hardly signs of freedom.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Political Rebuttle 

Elana,
I copied your post below and included my remarks in italics:

Cluster bombs that look like food drops, opium production up 400%, 56 dead Kurds in one day, complete chaos in Afghanistan outside of Kabul, Iraq is so dangerous the UN, Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders have pulled out, nearly 500 dead American soldiers - working at Ft. Myer, I see the funeral processions into Arlington National Cemetary several times a day, not one of them attended by Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld - and oh yeah, where's Osama?

You forgot to mention 3,000 dead on Sept. 11. But I've noticed that that fact has dropped out of the textbook for many. Look, all the chaos things you mention above are aweful outcomes of conflict, but by focusing on them, one fails to see the forest due to the tree in front of you. Conservative estimates have Saddam's regime responsible for the death of 1,000,000 of his own citizens during his reign. That's 40,000 a year, murdered. By stopping his regime, one could argue we have ALREADY saved 40,000 potential victims. Not to mention a WMD program that was a loose cannon. David Kay's recent press discussions clearly support this assesment. Stopping this dangerous and evil regime was a good thing. I think that people can be so blinded by their hatred of GWB, that they are unable to admit this plain thruth; that the overall outcome has been pretty successful so far. Losing 500 soldiers is aweful, but if we tried this in 1991, it would have been 5,000 soldiers by now. I think we should praise our military for the amazing lack of lives lost thus far. So basically I think the world is a MUCH better place with Saddam gone and the Taliban out of commision. I'm sure the Iraqis and Afganis think so. I just found a poll that says 70% of Iraqi are positive about their future. I can't find a poll of Afganis, but I think it would be belittling them to suggest that they prefer tyranny and poverty to freedom and opportunity.

Dissatisfaction is rampant on military installations. The soldiers I see every day enlisted to defend our country and don't mind being asked to help free people from oppression. They just want competent commanders, sufficient troops to do the job right, and clear goals, none of which Bush has provided. And they think he's an ass for saying the war is over.

Well under Clinton, military budgets shrunk to about $250 Billion. In addition they were prevented from being effective by a leader who was completely ineffective in his duties as Commander in Chief. Throwing a cruise missile into the desert and grounding special ops was not a way to help military morale. GWB has brought it back to pre-Clinton levels (inflation adjusted) of $400B. He's also increasing military pay by 7% this year. So I find an accusation that the current administration is neglecting the military's needs as suspect. If anything, he's made meeting their needs one of his top priorities.

I don't mind a policy of regime change (if anything it hasn't been applied widely enough), but I do mind being lied to and I mind that this administration picks only bad guys who attack other people, with no thought of those who commit equally heinous crimes against their own citizens unless they threaten America like North Korea has (Mugabe, the Sauds, China's PRC elite, Emomali Rahmonov, Sharon).

Well, this comment really depresses me. I try to not take it personally, but to group Ariel Sharon together with these other creeps is just plain wrong and scary. It's scary because it shows that people are buying into anti-Israel and anti-Semetic propaganda. Ariel Sharon is a democraticaly elected leader of a free country where people of all religions are free to practice their faiths, vote, own land, and do as they please. Israel is a country that is governed by law and independent courts. His "counterpart" in the PA is a dictator who has stolen over $1Billion of funds directed to his people. Who sends terrorists to blow up women and children in busses. Where the laws state that non-muslims can't own land, vote, or be a member of the governing council. Where the punishment for homosexuality is death. He's basically a mafia king who's made off with Billions in internatinal assistance and has kept his country in shambles. If your looking for who's killed more Palestinians, look to Syria, Jordan and Arafat. All have killed way more Palestinians than Israel has. If your looking for where Palestinians have the most freedom, it's in Israel. Definitely not in the West Bank. If your looking for where Palestinians are not allowed to attend school, it's in Lebanon, not Israel. Sorry to go off, but this issue is near and dear to me. Please let me know what on earth makes you think that Sharon should be grouped together with these other creeps???


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Disgruntled Truckers Gone Wild...Next On Fox!!! 

John Marshall is reporting on a possible suspect for the ricin found in the Senate office buildings...and the answer is...*drum roll*...disgruntled truckers.
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Casper the Friendly Ghost 

So I was driving out to my parents house last night to house sit while they are away on vacation and I popped an old Daniel Johnston CD in. I had forgotten that he did a song on Casper. That got me thinking and I recalled the fact that Wesley Willis had done a song called "Casper the Homosexual Friendly Ghost."

Does anyone know of more songs about Casper? And are they all by people with mental illnesses? I'm thinking of starting a little collection. If you know any more, email me: gtucker at mizzou dot com
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FCC 

Jeremy- in all seriousness (and I wasn't serious in my last few posts)

The FCC should already have the funds and the mandate to investigate this (Someone correct me if I'm wrong!) They're just doing their job.

And frankly I feel that they should look into this. It might have been a mistake (although I doubt it) and perhaps a layer more than intended came off Janet's outfit. Even if that was the case, it was a risky stunt (not to mention crass), and Janet / Justin and their sponsors should pay for the end result.

I can't find any numbers on the web right now, but I know that aircraft and bombs are incredibly expensive. It has to be a drop in the bucket compared to an investigation.

As to the war & taxes, neither of which I'm happy about, I'll do what I did last election: vote against Bush.

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Good to know our spend happy government isn't planning on stopping soon. 

I, for one, think spending a bunch of money investigating whether or not America saw one boob is worth spending money on while we are going through a cut tax and spend induced money crisis. Not to mention that there's a freaking war going on.

The FCC wins my "Get Your Head Out of Your Ass" Award for the day.

Here's a link to help the FCC


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Monday, February 02, 2004

RE: Superbowl Halftime Show Wrap-Up  

Regarding JJ&JT: (whom I don't like either)

How can those two bozos claim it was an accident?

Being Tivo-enabled, I was able to replay it a few(dozen) times- it was clearly on purpose.

I for one am outraged that I had to see that live and over so many replays (in slow motion no less!), and I'm glad my son was asleep at the time. Who knows what kind of thoughts that could generate in a 6 month old? I'm very glad they're going to investigate it.

I nominate this post as post of the week.

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Thinking Geek 

While I would never actually inlcude "2.0" in my child's name,
I would consider putting it on a T-shirt and then putting the T-shirt on the kid-
it's like body paint vs a tattoo- you can remove the thing when you get tired of it.

ThinkGeek.com used to have one of these but it's out of stock.
Fortunately there are other geek shirts to choose from:

Some are arriving at our house this week.





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Le Sigh 

Eli,
I hadn't heard about your grandfather, please accept my sympathy.

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, perhaps I can clarify a few items: I am neither for or against government spending in general. As with anything in life there are good ways to go about it and bad ways.

Giving The Stars and Stripes some cash so that they can publish a newspaper for soldiers in a war zone? Good way!

Giving drug companies a huge shareholder bonus while lying about the cost in order to get the bill passed (and don't forget having political allies try and bribe a Congressman)? Bad way!

Iraq a disaster? You bet ya! 526 soldiers dead. That's nearly 2 a day. 2 people who won't see their wives, children or parents ever again. War profiteering by the VP's old company. A nation on the brink of civil war.

Afghanistan going well? Not really! And don't forget the "Hearts and Minds" attempt to get along with locals.

General dissatisfation or problems at home? How about a probe into intelligence failures? Or maybe a budget deficit of over 1/2 TRILLION dollars brought on by reckless tax cuts? Or the recent ARG poll showing over 50% of people disapproving of Bush's handling of the economy? And don't forget the fact that we may very well have a housing bubble going on? Or the fact that if the Fed even hints that interest rates may rise the market takes a dive like Greg Louganis?

And by the way, we don't live in Dupont Circle...I wish we could afford that. We suffer through Columbia Heights (signature quote from local resident: "The crime isn't nearly as bad as the Crack Wars of the 80's.")
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Eli thinks we can afford to live in Dupont Circle? 

Cluster bombs that look like food drops, opium production up 400%, 56 dead Kurds in one day, complete chaos in Afghanistan outside of Kabul, Iraq is so dangerous the UN, Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders have pulled out, nearly 500 dead American soldiers - working at Ft. Myer, I see the funeral processions into Arlington National Cemetary several times a day, not one of them attended by Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld - and oh yeah, where's Osama?

Dissatisfaction is rampant on military installations. The soldiers I see every day enlisted to defend our country and don't mind being asked to help free people from oppression. They just want competent commanders, sufficient troops to do the job right, and clear goals, none of which Bush has provided. And they think he's an ass for saying the war is over.

I don't mind a policy of regime change (if anything it hasn't been applied widely enough), but I do mind being lied to and I mind that this administration picks only bad guys who attack other people, with no thought of those who commit equally heinous crimes against their own citizens unless they threaten America like North Korea has (Mugabe, the Sauds, China's PRC elite, Emomali Rahmonov, Sharon).
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Sunday, February 01, 2004

Nerds Acting Like Nerds 

Some jack-ass has given nerds a bad name.

By naming his son, "version 2.0" he's sentenced his son to daily beatings years to come.
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Post of the Week 

Anyone is more than welcome to award awards. This is a free form forum. But, I'll go ahead and award the post of the week to Elana for the picture of her bosses' post-it note. That was trully classic.
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Superbowl Halftime Show Wrap-Up 

Started out with Jessica Simpson. I'm not really sure what she was doing, but she didn't really do anything. Then it was Janet Jackson ("JJ"). JJ basically sucks. I've never been able to figure her appeal out. I mean I'm way over caring about what's hip or not, but regardless; she still just sucks. Up next was Nelly and P.Diddy. This was an improvement over JJ, but they seamed to be quite unrehearsed. I realize the halftime show is all lip-synching, but you should still at least pretend to be singing. I guess they figured that it doesn't matter anymore. Then P.Diddy nearly falls in a near collision with a dancer. Kid Rock was up next. I've always had a soft spot for Kid Rock. His over-campiness and "patriotic" visual themes are entertaining. His set was pretty short though. I think they should have had more Kid Rock. Then they brought back JJ. God Dammit. It's not like young kids like her. Old people don't like her. Who the hell likes JJ??? Justin Timberlake comes out for a final song/duet with JJ. Why wont she just go away? The halftime theme was "choose". I'm not sure how that related to the music or anything else. It left me somewhat confused when they kept on saying "choose". It must have been some hippy-dippy feel good message. Not sure. Anyways, that was halftime. Pretty Yawnable.
Later, Eli.

Update: Apparently I missed JJ "exposing" herself "accidentally".
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