Thursday, March 31, 2005
Like so many stories that are told in the media, I don’t know why anyone cares about this. Is it a surprise that he hates the paparazzi? What did they ever do for him (except kill his ex-wife, to whom he was constantly compared unfavorably)? They plague him and his children night and day, following them around, digging up embarrassing secrets.
The worst thing they ever did to him was publish this transcript of a conversation he had with his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles. If you’ve forgotten about this famous bit of dialog you have to check it out. It’s hilarious. Here’s my favorite bit (and I am NOT making this up):
Charles: What about me? The trouble is I need you several times a week.
Camilla: Mmmm, so do I. I need you all the week. All the time.
Charles: Oh. God. I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!
Camilla: (laughing) What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers?
Camilla: Oh, You're going to come back as a pair of knickers.
Charles: Or, God forbid a Tampax. Just my luck! (Laughs)
Camilla: You are a complete idiot (Laughs) Oh, what a wonderful idea.
Charles: My luck to be chucked down the lavatory and go on and on forever swirling round on the top, never going down.
Camilla: (Laughing) Oh, Darling!
Prince Albert has taken over the regency of Monaco because his ailing father is unable to exercise his royal functions, the palace says.
He can no longer “exercise his royal functions”? Is that a fancy way to say that he is no longer able to crap in his gold-plated toilet? What other royal functions does the prince of Monaco have? All the dude does is sit back, count his money, and pray that his daughters don’t get knocked up by their bodyguards anymore.
The story continues:
A royal commission, the Council of the Crown, decided that it was difficult for Rainier to "exercise his high functions," the statement from the palace said.
"From now, the regency is assured by His Serene Highness Prince Albert," the statement said.
Isn’t “His Serene Highness Prince Albert” a bit too much title for a guy who’s in charge of a city that is less than two square miles in size and has a population of about 32,000? It’s like using the title “His Dread Sovereign Royal High Emperor Charlie Roberts” for the mayor of Tooele.
Why is this a news story? What impact has this guy ever had on the world? The headline to the story should read like this: “The Lucky Schlub who Married Grace Kelly is Really Sick,” because the fact that he married Grace Kelly is the only interesting thing about him.
To hell with all royalty! Off with their heads!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Wars have started over soccer matches before, and wouldn’t it solve a lot of problems for the world if this kerfuffle escalated into a no-holds-barred free for all between North Korea and Iran? Maybe we should help the Iranians get nukes just so the playing field will be even.
A few years ago I went backpacking in Capital Reef (this was before my house was beset by wailing babies and backpacking came to an abrupt crash-test style halt). We got a permit and trudged into the trackless wilderness where we pitched our tents (or would have, if any of us had thought to bring a tent. All we had were sleeping bags). The landscape closely resembled that of the desert planet Arrakis (also known as Dune). It was hot and windy, and the only water we had was what we brought with us.
There was one camper, however, who didn’t bring any water. The only liquid he had packed in was a couple bottles of O’doul’s, and whatever moisture he could suck out of his Cheese Wranglers.
Who was this madman? INFDL’s own Tommy.
And now you know. . . the rest of the story.
1) “Probe faults Annan”
2) “Annan cleared over oil-for-food”
Both headlines are technically correct. The probe did find fault with Annan, but he was also cleared of direct criminal involvement in the oil-for-food scandal. Despite this technical accuracy, however, it is clear that each news outlet gave the story their own little spin right in the headline.
The difference is that the Washington Times holds itself out as a partisan conservative newspaper while the BBC pretends to hold to the journalistic tradition of impartiality. Libs bitch a lot about the right wing media, (Fox News, talk radio, the blogosphere and publications like the Washington Times) and they like mutter darkly about how these news outlets are part of the “vast right wing conspiracy.” But the fact is there can be no conspiracy when the parties involved make their intentions perfectly clear. When a person tunes into Rush Limbaugh or reads the Washington Times they know exactly what they are getting. Conservatives aren’t trying to hide who they are.
It is the liberal media that pretends to be impartial. It is CBS, ABC and the BBC that hold themselves out as unbiased reporters of straight news, and yet if you give their stories even the slightest probing it becomes clear that they are spinning merrily away.
The idea of the unbiased press is a relatively new one. It was born in the twentieth century. Before that there were Democratic papers and there were Republican papers (or Whig, Bull Moose, Federalist, Know Nothing etc.) and they billed themselves as such. Today, as the liberal bias of the mainstream media becomes more naked and the right wing press proliferates, I sometimes wonder if we aren’t headed back to the good old days.
By the way: “Probe faults Annan,” was the Washington Times, and, “Annan cleared over oil-for-food,” was, of course, the BBC.
We had crossed paths with a group of Navajo kids and thier guide a few times in Bullet. They seemed worn down and disoriented (read: dehydrated). The guide, a white guy in his forties, told us he knew that uper Bullet had no water in it and told us to plan accordingly. That didn't seem right for this time of year, but we packed some extra water anyway. On the way up to the base of the difficult portion, we noticed their party was fractured and spread out over about a half mile of the canyon while the leader and a few kids went up ahead to look for suitable camping. There was none and the entire group ended up flailing high up in Bullet in pitch-black night with something nasty bearing down.
I have good night-navigation skills with years of foolish night scrambling under my belt, so I offered to guide them out the canyon. We were in the middle of the exposed section with a member of our party (Jess) suffering from a bad ankle sprain from three days previous, so the prospect of climbing out or down with ice on the rocks was out of the question, and boy was that guy wrong about the water situation. It was flowing in excess.
The leader had set up tents on an exposed shelf a hundred feet off the canyon floor and said they were camping. I thought a tricky night exit with kids might be better than an exposed bivuac in a possibly disasterous storm. He chose the latter after showing me what he thought was the exit of the canyon; a hard dog-leg left off the main canyon and over a treacherous flowing waterfall that he had tried to climb. This thing (5.7 or 5.8 with eight kids?) could kill, at which point they'd be wandering on Cedar Mesa in the wrong direction without access to water.
At that point, I knew he was irrational and could not be trusted. My plan was to get on top of this shit before the storm if possible, get up in the wee hours and get to the Kane gulch ranger station to call out a search. We cleared the crazy stuff and dropped our packs when the blizzard started. It dumped for a good three hours--six inches. It must have been positively Himalayan up on that cliff. I awoke early to get the ball rolling, and much to my dismay, there they were, clomping up the river at five in the morning. This clown, rather than wait it out, had his kids climb down that face and up several waterfalls over ice and snow. He was lucky no one died.
After our exit, I stopped by the ranger station to let them know what had happened. As it turned out, the leader called out a search and rescue on his satelite phone (correct course of action) at about 4 AM but cancelled it at about 4:30. As we conversed with the ranger, she was answering satalite calls about another party from the same Navajo youth group who had gotten hung up by the storm in Fish and Owl creeks. They chose the right course of action and decided to chill out until the ice melted (possibly up to two days).
As we all at INFDL know, the desert can whip up some crazy shit. We are all lucky that we had leaders who were smart as they showed us through the desert and mountains of Utah when we were kids, even if we did get exposed to some heavy metals.
Update: I shal post some pix of the amazing ruins and paintings of Grand Gulch shortly.
Howard Dean will next month visit Australia. And you know something? You know something? Not only is he going to Noosa Heads, he’s going to Andamooka and Werribee and the Bungle Bungles and Shepparton and Yass! He’s going to Camperdown and Kiama and Naracoorte! And he’s going to Wallaroo and Tennant Creek and Ulla Dulla and Albury! And then he’s going to Canberra. To take back Parliament House! YEEEAAARGH!!
I don't care what anyone says, the Dean Scream will always be funny.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
In the first place, it tried to portray Frenchmen as badasses. The movie had 18th century powder-wigged aristocrats flying around in absurd kung-fu fashion delivering death blows with wild abandon. I know you gotta suspend disbelief but, jeeze.
Secondly, the plot of the movie centers on a mysterious wolf-like beast that is mauling peasants across the countryside (it seemed to particularly enjoy chewing on buxom young ladies). A French zoologist (who is surprisingly good at kicking asses) is sent to help capture it and at the end of the movie he discovers the secret of the beast: It is a lion in a scary costume.
I did not make that up. The beast really is a lion in a scary costume. With all that said, however, I still have to admit that I kind of liked the movie.
Also in movie news, I came across this statement in a Rotten Tomatoes-posted review of the upcoming flick, Sin City (a movie that, I must admit, I am breathlessly awaiting):
Rodriguez's determination to keep Miller's shadow world black & white, with only the occasional splash of color, is most likely what saved Sin City from an NC-17 rating. Had the film been color, there would be no more gruesome a movie. Limbs chopped off, hatchets in crotches, decapitated heads, hungry canines feasting on living humans, bare hands ripping off male genitalia, scenes of torture that would do Abu Gharib proud . . .
Oh yeah, because we all know that a naked pyramid is about the same as a hatchet in the crotch.
Monday, March 28, 2005
As if the republican cause wasn’t up to its neck in filth already. The republicans have been indiscriminately (and sometimes discriminately) murdering people across Britain for decades, and suddenly the death of one unlucky IRA thug at the hands of other IRA thugs sullies the cause? I’m sorry, but it is impossible to “sully” something that is already as dirty as Irish republicanism. It’s like taking a poop in an outhouse. Sure, there’s another dump down there, but is the outhouse really any dirtier as a whole? (Unless it was Brig who took the dump, in which case the outhouse would actually be much filthier.)
His statement is all the more rich considering the fact that he almost certainly knows exactly who killed McCartney (the IRA offered to murder the murders after all, so they presumably know who they are) and he could hand them over to the constabulary today if he wanted to.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
With that said, let me just mention a few of the ways my mortal coil may be used after I have shuffled it off.
First of all, I really like Hunter S. Thompson’s plan to be cremated and shot out of a cannon. In fact, I would like to do it for myself with only one minor change: I want to be shot out of a cannon without being cremated first. Just cram me in with the ramrod and let ‘er rip over the Pacific.
Also, I think it would be fun to use my corpse for practical jokes. Some well-to-do jokester could purchases my lifeless tabernacle of clay and then use it to frighten the living crap out of his friends. Imagine sneaking my dead body into your buddy’s bed with a rat stuffed in my mouth and a bullet hole in my forehead. I could have a note in my stiff hand that says something like, “You’re next you rat! Love, the Mob.” You could hide in the closet and giggling while he faints in terror.
I could alternatively be used as an extra in a horror film, or I could star in a remake of “Weekend and Bernie’s.”
I could also be made into Soylent Green and get eaten on an episode of Fear Factor.
Because of my body’s natural greasiness, I would make a great industrial lubricant.
In short, I will not go gentle into that good night. I want my death to mean something!
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
However, Reagan was anything but an adherent of realism. While it is true he did nothing to challenge the status quo of the Middle East in his day, he was without question an idealist when it came to tackling Communism. When he went to Berlin and issued his famous challenge to the Russians to tear down this wall, he was poking the eye of every realist in the West.
He did it in other ways as well. The arms race, his support of the Afghan resistance and his efforts to keep oil prices down (in order to prevent the Russians from earning much money on their chief export) were all actions predicated on his belief that the Soviet economy had been worn out by years of communism, and that with a few punches to the nutsack the bear would collapse and clutch its groin in agony. All of this was well outside of the realist foreign policy that had been forged by Nixon and Kissinger. And Reagan, like Bush, was regarded as a war monger and a simpleton because of his belief that the world could change, and that he could be the one to change it.
What makes Bush and Reagan kindred spirits is their mutual recognition that reality is not static. Empires rise and fall, gods are abandoned and new powers rise up. They both realized that the United States is potentially a powerful agent of change, that this country can use its power to shape a better reality for the world. What Reagan did to the Commies, Bush is doing to the Islamo-fascists. They are each idealists, though in different spheres.
Sean Adds: Good stuff, Noah. I should clarify my statements, though. In no way could you equate Carter or Clinton's blunders in "Realism" with what I believe were realist policies from the Reagan team. Carter (a disgrace to the presidency overall IMHO) sat on an air-hose while the Khomeini regime knocked the Shah out of power, creating the modern Caliphate in Iran. The aftershock of this epic misjudgment was felt dearly by America on 9/11. He had insiders actually telling him that the Mullahs would be a force for human rights and equality in the region-- an idea that evaporated when we watched the embassy and hostages get taken.
Clintonian realism was most effectively exposed with his idea of legitimizing Yassir Arrafat, effectively granting a vehicle for immense graft and torture to a tyrant. These were mistakes of a supposedly realistic view-- that the reason for the mess in the Middle East is that we never properly included them.
Reagan, in my view, had more pressing issues at hand when he was in the hot seat. The threat from Communism at that point in history can not be overstated. Imagine if the Soviets had stuck around for just a few years more. The current pace of technological advancement (Moore's law, or whatever you choose to call it) didn't really come to fruition until the early 90's. But with the massive revolution in information and military technology upon us, isn't it comforting that we don't have the largest organized slaughtering machine ever devised pointing thousands of nukes at us?
Reagan is a man whose legacy is greater than what you see. He didn't guide us through the apocalypse, he made certain that it never happened. To achieve that, he (and others before him) made some nasty bedfellows in Latin America. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua etc., resistance to Marxism was presided over by some pretty rough characters. It seems to me that Reagans' idealism was tempered by ugly realities in those situations. His hand was forced by the bloodiest regime in history.
Have we all forgotten the unmitigated disaster that is Iraq/Afghanistan? Do "100,000 civilian deaths" or "Abu Graib" ring a bell? How about the "Modern Crusades"? Forgive me for pointing out that the Crusades never involved a power that would remove replace tyranny with guarantees of personal freedom and self-governance. And there-in lies the point: the left (and media) just can't shake the hangover from years of the wrong-headed foreign policy "Realism" that infected all of the modern Presidencies including (and I'm about to piss off a few people here at INFDL) Reagan and excluding the current chief.
The left and certain portions of the right have, in their limited lexicon, no word for truly humanitarian use of force. Such actions run against an entire lifetime of assumptions. Realpolitikers would have us believe that despot-removal serves no national interest and that we may just as well serve our purposes like we have in the past: preach "stability", extract what ever interest we have and get the fuck out. This thinking is just as counterproductive as the knee-jerk anti-power stance that we are all too familiar with.
So what's the solution when you and your friends have been embarrassed by reality? Act as if it never happened. Make it disappear. I have recently spoken to many of the people who I have sparred with about our new world attitude over the last few years, and I must say it seems as if their whole body of knowledge, their entire political experience, stops somewhere between the Iraqi vote and the fall of Syria in Lebanon. The ideas simply stop. Mind you that these are people with encyclopedic knowledge of American atrocities in Central America. They can site, one by one, the many unsavory characters that had found a place by our side during the communist years. They know, in stunning detail, the names of corporations and business people and their imperialistic protocols. They know of the many revolutions of common people world-wide, but they know nothing of the current revolution happening before us in the Middle East.
Why is this? Have they heard of the internet? Or did they simply turn off their modems when they saw their precious prejudices evaporate before their very eyes? It seems to be happening right now in the media. Iraq? Yesterday's news... Micheal Jackson's dick? Now that's revolutionary.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Friday, March 18, 2005
The White House has blunted criticism by pointing to recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East as evidence that the underpinnings for the U.S. invasion were on the mark.
Those dastardly Republicans! Their plan is to kill the anti-war movement by succeeding in the war! Is there nothing to which they will not stoop! It gets worse:
"(The movement) was on the verge of taking off again a couple of months ago around the inauguration, but then the Iraqi elections confused the picture, " said Stephen Zunes, a political science professor at the University of San Francisco and an expert on both social movements and Middle Eastern politics. "It is pretty moribund now."
The Iraqi elections confused the picture? No, Zunie my friend, the Iraqi elections clarified the picture. Somehow I don’t find myself weeping for the moribund peace-movement, especially in light of the fact that it is dying because the war is being won in spectacular style.
The most fascinating tidbit in the story, however, is the following:
MoveOn.org Executive Director Eli Pariser told liberal-leaning media critic Norman Solomon recently that the group "is seeing a broad difference of opinion among our members on how quickly the U.S. should get out of Iraq. As a grassroots-directed organization, we won't be taking any opinion which a large portion of our members disagree with."
Wow, even MoveOn.org can no longer bring itself to oppose the war! A “large portion” of their members doesn’t want to cut and run! This is astonishing news.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam’s Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or sending a bunch of child-sex fiends to man UN operations in the Congo. And the Central African Republic. And Sierra Leone, and Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, Kosovo, and pretty much everywhere else. All of which happened without the UN fetishists running around shrieking hysterically. Why should America be the only country not to enjoy an uproarious joke at the UN’s expense?
The U.N. has been pissing away its moral authority for decades and is close to dying of dehydration. Bolton is the cold drink of water it needs.
In recent days the evidence has mounted at an accelerated pace. A few weeks ago, for example, he couldn’t remember the name of Barack Obama and he kept referring to the freshman senator as “Osama,” apparently mistaking him for the popular terrorist leader.
In a column in NRO today, Byron York recounts Kennedy’s mental breakdown at a moveon.org event:
Kennedy . . . referred to Barbara Boxer as Barbara Mikulski. He referred to William Myers, the Bush judicial nominee, as William Morris. And he kept telling the crowd to "speak truth to justice," apparently confusing that with the more common liberal exhortation to "speak truth to power."
We understand the Barbara Mikulski slip up. After all, Kennedy has always been a frisky young man at heart and Senator Mikulski is quite a dish. Apparently she weighs heavily on his romantic mind.
Case in point: I hadn't talked to Noah since he moved back from San Fran. I got to see Tommay from time to time. It was also rare for me to see Brig. Now we have a place to air our ideas and smack each other around a bit. I friggin love it.
I hope y'all are having as much damned fun as me (although I've been too busy as of late to say much). So let me get to the point: we decided that the most important factor in our blog's future success is in not what we say, but what we wear. That's right, we've decided that while we blog a few regulations should be addressed.
From here on out, when blogging, it is very important to wear leg warmers of a neutral seasonal color. Also, on cold spring mornings, we here at INFDL shall don a nice Baclava made of round-knit wool (softer on delicate skin). We also, when the weather permits, shall enjoy a modest Boat-neck blouse with crab-catcher bottoms (for freedom of movement and a natural ball-cooling effect). That is all, you may now proceed with blogging, albeit with more flare.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
You see, those foolish brown Iraqis just don't realize that when they all showed up to vote on the 30th of January, they were really voting against their right to be slaughtered by evil despots.
Damn the Americans and their hegemonic desire to end tyranny. Don't those cowboys see that by offering the masses the right to steer their own government, they are actually suppressing indigenous people's right to be raped en-masse?
Don't think for a minute that this will all go unpunished. For the crimes against humanity that the U.S. has committed, the peace movement will put Uncle Sam on stilts... And hold up a signs reminding us of that presidents' last name means "hair-pie" (clever alliteration)....And don't forget the corporate pig masks (always a crowd favorite)... And the BusHitler T's... And bets of all, the post-protest rim-job from the cute Women's Studies major that caught your eye on State and 6th.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I like to complain about the time a dentist put one of those “rubber dams” on my mouth and then disappeared for an hour and forty five minutes while my tongue dried out and shriveled up to the size of a bunny turd. I got revenge by playing with the little tray of instruments (I vacuumed out my boogers and used the little water gun to spray various items in the office.) Now my complaint seems pathetic.
I haven’t been to the dentist in about four years and I don’t know if I’ll ever go again.
Monday, March 14, 2005
The Europeans have been refusing to crackdown on Hezbollah for years, and now they’re getting bitten by the rabid dog they have fed for so long. If the Euros had joined the United States in our attempts to smother the terrorist organization the demonstrations would no doubt have been smaller and the prospect of peace and freedom in Lebanon would be even brighter. Instead, they refused even to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Still, today 800,000 Lebanese took to the streets to protest the presence of Syrian power in Lebanon. They were not there because of intimidation; they were there in spite of it. The movement for freedom has snowballed.
European-style appeasement is a system that buys short term stability at the price of long term freedom (and stability). If the recent demonstrations in Lebanon show one thing, it is that the likes of Hezbollah should not be accommodated and their crimes should not be winked at. They should never have been allowed to grow so powerful. By failing to take any action against Hezbollah Europe helped build the forces of tyranny it now purports to oppose. Lebanon would be much better of if Syrian-sponsored terrorist groups has never been coddled.
The Bush Doctrine, (“kick the asses that need to get kicked”) is much more productive.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Shiite and Kurdish politicians refined plans to form a coalition government that officials said includes an agreement not to turn the country into an Islamic state...Kurds and alliance officials said both sides agreed that Iraq would not become an Islamic state, a desire also expressed by the country's most powerful Shiite cleric - Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani...The Kurds won 75 seats in the 275-member National Assembly during Jan. 30 elections. The alliance won 140 seats and needs Kurdish support to assemble the two-thirds majority to elect a president, who will then give a mandate to the prime minister...Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader who is slated to become Iraq's next president.You know, this is really no suprise at all. Simple logic follows: the Shiites, for almost 2 full years now, have carefully and correctly reasoned that any sectarian-related reprisals on their part against Sunnis in response to the innumerable terrorist massacres committed against Shiites would easily spiral into sectarian civil war--Shiites vs. Sunnis, and very bloody. Shiites of course know that this civil war is precisely the goal of the Zarqawis, and they respond to these Zarqawi provocations by very defiantly (and heroically) pressing forward to build their future and eschewing any action that could spark that civil war. So, after all of this effort on the part of the majority Shiites to avoid a sectarian civil war, even in the face of 2 years of Sunni-terrorist butchery, the Shiites are then expected to form an Islamic state patterned after Shia law, provoking a massive Sunni backlash that would most definitely lead to civil war? Riiiiiiiiight. Sistani and most Shiites understand this very clearly. And is there anybody more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than Sistani, after keeping an entire Shiite population calm amid all the turbulence and murder of the past 2 years, and then encouraging those he represents to become part of the democratic process? If he doesn't get it, then there really is no shame left in Stokholm.
You know, what do these Ivy Leaguer talking heads get paid so much money to do anyway? They don't even know DICK. They are constantly and pompously mispredicting. They've been consistently wrong at every point along this road. Example: The same week that Lebanon showed the world what was happening in the middle-east, these twats (and no, I did not misspell that) were focusing their attention on a recently announced ACLU suit that would take Donald Rumsfeld to court for Abu Ghraib. I mean, does it ever get more pathetically good-for-nothing than that, especially in the face of what is happening right now in the M.E.? And these do-nothings wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars to become that unaccomplished? Sad. I went to BYFU and I think more clearly than they do (yes, this is indeed true). But nowdays in the era of the internet, it really doesn't matter if you go to school at all to be able to discuss these matters competently. It actually becomes a liability to one's objective education to attend these high priced "re-education camps" in the first place.
Sean Adds: Truly prophetic, Tommay. Ali Al Sistani for the Nobel Peace Prize! It'll never happen because the Nobel clowns prefer despots who slaughter their own, like Arafat. BTW, exactly how did Arafat earn TEN BILLION DOLLARS? Seriously, Sistani deserves it more than anybody on Earth seeing as he has (with the help of the Marines) almost single-handedly kept Iraq from sliding into sectarian slaughter.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Friday, March 11, 2005
This is not the amazing part of the story. The amazing part is this sentence: “Fries, or ‘frites,’ are a national snack in Holland and Belgium, where they are deep-fried in oil and then salted and eaten with mayonnaise and chopped onions.”
So the Dutch are dippin’ their fries in mayonnaise and we’re still the fattest nation on the earth? How did that happen?
. . . Oh yeah, chili cheese fries.
This country has survived two world wars, the Cold War and the Carter Administration, but can America withstand the onslaught of spectacularly unfunny jokes that will result from this ruling? I’m not sure it can.
The tumbling of the Berlin Wall was the product of a peculiar convergence of events. The Soviet empire was collapsing. The Soviet president was a singular man, Mikhail Gorbachev, who actively pushed for reform and Westernization (which he hoped would avert collapse but in fact accelerated it). Meanwhile, indigenous democratic movements were fomenting within the empire (Lech Walesa's Solidarity in Poland, Václav Havel's Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, the perpetual secessionists in the Baltics). Detente, black markets, and jam-free broadcasts had whetted an appetite for Western ways. The nations suffering a generation of Soviet rule—especially the Baltics, East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia—had longer traditions of democracy, capitalism, and European cosmopolitanism. Finally, their anti-Soviet sentiments were blooming in a bipolar world; repulsion toward Moscow translated very easily into attraction toward America. When the wall came down in '89 and the Soviet Union itself imploded two years later, the adoption (or resumption) of Western-style democracy was natural; emissaries from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the CIA, McDonald's, and all the rest were, at least initially, most welcome.
What's missing? In explaining the fall of the Soviet Union and its influence, Kaplan doesn't even make a passing reference to Reagan, and not even to the Pope, both of which certainly had more to do with the fall of the Soviet Union than Walesa and Havel, and Reagan certainly had more to do with the fall of the Soviet Union than Gorbachev, a man who did have enough sense not to go down with the sinking ship.
Now let's look at the aspiring democracies of the Middle East. The nations in question—mainly Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt (with noises rustling in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia)—are not joined by a common empire or target of revolt. There is no Gorbachev among them, in any case. Nor are there signs of Walesas or Havels. These countries never experienced a Reformation and thus have no Western traditions. And their rebellions are festering in a world that offers many models beyond communism or capitalism, some of them notably hostile to both.
Kaplan's view of history is simply incredible (it denies that the U.S., at least when led by a Republican who is willing to clearly distinguish between democracy and tyranny, impacts for good foreign affairs), but it does explain why he will be on the wrong side of history (even though we know that he hopes with all his heart that he is wrong) about the Middle East. I actually get from Kaplan's article the sense that he hopes that the people in Beirut, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Iran fail, at least until there is an explanation for their success that doesn't sound in the Iraqi elections. His opening paragraph is an attempt to belittle those who have taken a Lebanese opposition leader's statement that: "Something is happening, the Berlin Wall is falling, we can see it." And then we get Kaplan's explanation of why this is different--there is no Gorbachev (and to be fair, a little bit more).
Some on the left are beginning to be worried by the successes of Bush's policy (and as Sean pointed out earlier, they were intended). For an example, check out former Clinton aide, Nancy Soderberg's interview on the Daily Show. You should watch it, but here is one good exchange:
Stewart: Do you think that the people of Lebanon would have had, sort of, the courage of their conviction, having not seen--not only the invasion but the election which followed? It's almost as though that the Iraqi election has emboldened this crazy--something's going on over there. I'm smelling something.. . . .
Soderberg: I think partly what's going on is the country next door, Syria, has been controlling them for decades, and they [the Syrians] were dumb enough to blow up the former prime minister of Lebanon in Beirut, and they're--people are sort of sick of that, and saying, "Wait a minute, that's a stretch too far." So part of what's going on is they're just protesting that. But I think there is a wave of change going on, and if we can help ride it though the second term of the Bush administration, more power to them.
Soderberg: The truth always helps in these things, I have to say. But I think that there is also going on in the Middle East peace process--they may well have a chance to do a historic deal with the Palestinians and the Israelis. These guys could really pull off a whole--
Stewart: This could be unbelievable!
Soderberg:---series of Nobel Peace Prizes here, which--it may well work. I think that, um, it's--
Stewart: [buries head in hands] Oh my God! [audience laughter] He's got, you know, here's--
Soderberg: It's scary for Democrats, I have to say.
I'm not holding my breath that there will be a general acceptance of Bush's positive impact on democracy in the Middle East--Kaplan's article illustrates the unwillingness to accept that sort of fact. But I will happily agree that the current developments in the Middle East are very scary for Democrats.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
You were way ahead of the curve. You were willing to stand up to the nearly overwhelming peer pressure that only classic rock (and some metal) was cool. You made me listen to Chris Ledoux and though I can't say that I fully embraced your enthusiasm for this country star, I do mourn with you today. Chris Ledoux, "who had more influence on modern country than even his legions of hard-core fans would reflect," lost his fight with liver cancer.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I now listen to different bad bands.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I really wanted to like the movie. After all, it is the sequel to Get Shorty, one of the great comedies of all times. Of course, I knew going into the theater that Be Cool had a different writer and director than Get Shorty and that Dennis Farina would not be in the film. I should have paid greater heed to these warnings.
I knew also that the critics had savaged it (30% on the Tomatometer), but I still wasn’t worried. I figured that the critics were probably measuring Be Cool against Get Shorty rather than against films in general. It could fall well short of the Get Shorty standard and still be a pretty good movie.
Be Cool tried waaaay to hard to be cool. At the same time, the whole thing was incredibly contrived and I felt like I was on a Bataan death march from one plot point to the next. The movie was about the music world but the music in it is dreadful. Also, the bits with Aerosmith were excruciating to watch (no offense Sean), especially when Chili Palmer gives Steven Tyler the pointless speech about how the song “Sweet Emotion” is not about the sweetness of rock n’ roll, but the sweetness of being a new father. I nearly threw up in my popcorn.
Also, I’ve never seen a movie that was so in-your-face about being a sequel. The first lines of the movie are Chili Palmer saying how much he hates sequels, and constant pointless references are made to Get Shorty.
I’ve never seen such awful product placement either. Did I actually see tough guy Harvey Kietel sipping a Jamba Juice? Impossible!
Half way through I had to pee and I didn’t regret my trip to the bathroom in the slightest. In fact, I took the time to pop a zit on my nose. I thought it better to spend my time looking at the oozing sore on my face rather than the oozing sore on the screen.
Sean Adds: No offence taken, Noey. I nearly blew 15 bucks on this flick yesterday, but instead saw Million Dollar Baby, which was excellent (one of Clint's finest). Thanks for the public service. Although I haven't listened to Aerosmith in years, maybe I'll throw in "Rocks" for shit 'n giggles.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Speaking of the blogosphere, it appears that the Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, who was "rescued", i.e. ransomed for $10 million, appears to be the next cause celebre for the blogs. Charles at LGF has been particularly active in this endeavor. Yeah, I guess it's not as simple as getting shot by "aimless american killers", is it? It looks to be a little more complicated than that, honey. It looks as if her $10 million ransom may have breathed some new life into the jihadist murderer's abilities. And maybe that's the reason why the Italian secret service didn't coordinate with American forces about this (but of course they are Italians, and their watches may have been set on "italian time"). Watch Mr. Charles Johnson dismantle her story here, here, here, and here. And 300 to 400 shots? Riiiiight.
PS If I do what I'm supposed to be doing as a graduate student (studying and cursing mucho), then this will be the last post from my ass this week, as I am in the middle of a shitstorm of midterms and projects (I'll probably wither in the face of all the stress and take the easy, less academically successful route--like I've done so often and eagerly in the past. "No Pain, No Pain." Right?) But my ass will be back in the land of Deseret this Friday, for a whole 9 days of spring break good tymzzz. So I'll post summore then.
Sean adds: Farewell for now, Tommay. May your journey up your ass be fruitfull and may your re-emergence in Utah be greeted by many hours and days of joy. BTW, give me a call when you get here.
I've had it with the few on the left claim to see the logic of providing freedom to the oppressed in the M.E., but provide cover for themselves in the form of the ever-present "BUT". This is really an impish attempt to be able to say "I was right" no matter which way history turns. We've all seen it in Thomas Friedman's work. He'll spend an entire article basically defending the Bush Doctrine, and then balance it all out with an unreasoned swipe at it, to give it street cred. The swipe usually has something to do with ripping shit up in a military fashion, but "losing the battle for the hearts and minds". All this really does is expose them for the nostalgic old Nutsacks that they are.
I know plenty of young people (three of them represented in this blog) who are able to grasp Bush's ideas for the region without qualification. It really isn't all that complicated. Here it is:
The Middle East (and the non-Western world in general) are subject to unrelenting oppression by their governments. This causes an entire subculture to bubble with hatred. That hatred has been redirected towards others in the form of terrorism. How do we deal with it? Do we go in and liquefy a country, call it good and go home, ala France in Algeria (or Europe in Africa in general)? No, we go in and liquefy the bad guys when needed, but we leave in our place FREEDOM. That's it. One paragraph.
You see, it's really pretty simple. And all of the left, including the "reasonable" left has been wrong this whole fucking time. I'm not going to sit here anymore and be thankful for the Friedmans of the world. He was wrong in a very fundamental way. We aren't winning the battle for the hearts and minds, FREEDOM is winning the battle for the hearts and minds.
Also, we should feel bad for them. Oh, so bad. I mean, how would you like it if the Marines were trying to kill you! I don't know if you know this about the Marines, but they are really, really, good at killing people. And when the insurgents die they think they're going to heaven. Imagine the shock when they reach the Pearly Gates.
They stroll up to St. Peter singing to themselves (to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad").
"I'll be scoring with my virgins, all the live long daaaaaaaaaay! I'm so glad I crammed a bomb up my ass, and blew myself awaaaaaaay!"
"Allah Akbar! I blew myself up . . . where are all the virgins at? You know, a lot of virgins are ugly, how are mine? Pretty hot eh?" Nudge, nudge.
"Actually, Achmed, you're not supposed to kill innocent people and you have been condemned to spend eternity with Jeanine Garafalo."
"Yes, and you must chose now. Will you spend that time listening to her comedy or engaging in carnal relations with her?"
Pray and weep Sean, pray and weep.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
I feel compelled as an antiwar activist to respond to Jessica Hanson's heartfelt plea for unity and prayer for the soldiers in Iraq (Forum, March 1). As the mother of three draft-age sons who have been persistently targeted for recruitment by the military, I have tried to imagine what I would be feeling if any one of them were in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it is simply too heart-wrenchingly painful an image to sustain, in part because it matters very much to me whether the war is right or wrong.
Though I understand the need to find meaning by those being called upon to make this horrific sacrifice, this war is not now, nor has it ever been, about fighting for our freedom. Neither is it about fighting for Iraqi freedom, or democracy in the Middle East, as is currently being touted. War has forever been, and will always be, about controlling resources. Sadly, this time my country is not on the side of a weaker nation defending itself against an aggressor, but is itself the aggressor invading and occupying a weaker oil-rich country under the timeworn, lofty and deceptive guise of, first, self-defense, and, when that was proven false, liberation.
I will pray for your soldier, Jessica, as I will pray for Iraqi insurgent soldiers. Please do not be offended, as they are all someone's loved one. I will pray that soldiers everywhere will lay down their arms so that the masters of war will be forced to resolve their differences in a more civilized manner. I will pray for enlightened societies that know their history and understand that war serves the needs of its masters, not of those doing the actual fighting. I will pray that the people of the world will find a way to share its resources in love and brotherhood. This is a value I learned in Sunday School, one that I believe in with all my liberal bleeding heart. Pray for the soldiers, yes. Unite behind the masters of war, never!
Jackie Anderson is from Price. Perhaps she lost her mind in a coal-mining accident. My rebuttal to the Tribune will surely be ignored, just like the dozens of letters and op-eds that I have sent them. Their Op-ed division is one of the worst in the country (they still even pay columnist Gwynn Dyer, the British ass-clown who last year predicted that within a year the U.S. would be forced out of Afghanistan and the Taliban would be back in power). Even the City Weekly and Deseret News will publish my shit. Here's what I gave them:
In her letter printed in Sunday's opinion section titled "Pray for the soldiers, not the masters of war", Jackie Anderson (who calls herself an anti-war activist) states that "War has forever been, and will always be about controlling resources".
Following that logic, one could say that the liberation of Europe from fascist human slaughter-camps was motivated by the "controlling of resources". What resources, might I ask, did the U.S. gain from that conflict? Cheese? Or perhaps she was referencing the Civil War. Surely the North was only interested in the South's stockpile of Cajun spices. Let's not forget the Revolutionary war either. It was, of course, the first documented case of American greed, when we selfishly forced the British out of governance. The resource gained? Our freedom.
She later states "I will pray for your soldier, Jessica, as I will pray for Iraqi insurgent soldiers. Please do not be offended, as they are all someone's loved one." Here the reader gets to see, in all it's hypocritical glory, the two-faced lie that is the "Peace" movement. They are against war, but pray for the terrorists who are actively trying to prevent Iraq from seeing some semblance of liberty. Jackie Anderson is praying for the guys who saw innocent people's heads off and rape women indiscriminately. She is against human suffering, but only when that suffering was "caused" by America.
My case in point: when the U.S. military went back into Fallujah last fall, as a precursor to the historic elections in January, they found the headless, armless and legless body of Margaret Hassan, the leader of CARE Iraq, which is one of the most respected humanitarian groups working in that country today. While Jackie Anderson is praying for the monsters that committed this act, she should remember that the "Iraqi insurgent soldiers" would just as soon do the same to her, and they probably don't much appreciate her advocacy.
Salt Lake City
I truly can't even believe that the anti-warriors believe the shit that comes out of their mouths. Every word is a nail in the coffin.
Over at Austin Bay's excellent blog (he's fairly fresh off a tour in Iraq), he points to another major threat from the Ragheads that conveniently went under-reported by the Neville Chamberlain Media. Iran threatened the US this week with a cut-off of oil exports to force us to our knees. Bay points to the Persian Journal website's speculation that this threat was a reference to the Straights of Hormuz. Bay notes:
The Straits of Hormuz connect the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. The Strait is a bottleneck for oil tankers. From 35% to 40% of the worlds crude oil shipments passes through Hormuz. In 1988 Joe Balkoski and I collaborated on a wargame titled Light Division: The Straits of Hormuz. 3W (World Wide Wargaming) published the game, and it is now out of print.
The game is still a useful tool for considering US, Western, and for that matter, Arab and Eastern (Japanese?) military options if Iran closes the Straits. Yes, you could see a Coalition of the Industrialized form quite quickly if Iran tries to close the Straits of Hormuz using mines, anti-ship missiles, artillery, or any suite of weapons.
I dont think Iran will try it such talk is huff and bluff.
But geography can be tantalizing and sometimes fanatics move from words to war. Perhaps a few of Tehrans more belligerent mullahs believe the US is spread thin by Iraq and cant handle closure of the Straits. These men are wrong. The US Navy isnt tied down in Iraq. Supported by naval and air forces, a Marine brigade and an Army airborne brigade can take Hormuz.
Moreover, risk-taking Iranian mullahs fascinated by the Hormuz Option had better poll of their own military commanders and get an honest assessment of morale. Revolutionary Guards attacking US forces will have a very short life expectancy and that will leave fewer thugs to oppress the populace in Tehran. The Iranian people know whats going on in the world, and the big story (one even the NY Times now appreciates) is the freedoms surge in the Middle East. Put US troops in Hormuz and presto, Free Iran has a toehold.
Threatening to choke the worlds oil pipeline is one thing the threat begets headlines, spikes oil prices, expresses a certain degree of macho bravado, why, it might even appeal to that narrow spectrum of humanity that hates SUVs more than dictators. But actually carrying out this threat is foolish politics. For the Iranian mullahs it amounts to tying their own nooses. The Straits wont choke they will.
I think one point not mentioned here is the fact that the tactical options described here are only available to us because of our proximity to Iran, made possible by the overthrow of Saddam. Bay also is wise to point out that, while the Marines and Army are quite busy in Iraq, our Navy is fully capable of obliterating any foe in or near water, anywhere. The speed with which the Navy responded to the Tsunami crisis should be a good measuring stick of its' abilities world-wide.
It should be very interesting to see how the various Despots of the Islamic world react to the sweeping changes coming to fruition in the region. We are likely to see a full range of reactions, from Egypt and Saudi Arabia's tolken democratic moments to Lebanon's thrilling demonstrations to the mad Mullah's wacky Nuke game. In the midst of so much promise, one thing is certain: things will probably get really bloody before we see a sea change over there.
Friday, March 04, 2005
If we meet our responsibilities . . . The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.
And don’t forget, the war in Iraq was “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” President Bush didn’t stumble into a positive historic shift in the Middle East. He made it happen.
(Although, since this is the Middle East we are talking about here, the fecal matter could hit the fan at any given moment.)
I hate everyone that was born in the 80's (except for chicks). I walk around here every damned day and see all these fresh people born in the 80's all looking like skaters and blink 182 bitch-asses. None of them are cool, they're all gay. And I hate them. I am way too old and sweet for this stinkhole of freshness. There is such a fucking generation gap here like you wouldn't even believe. Nobody knows anything about 80's hits and tits tv shows. It's like all of this happened all of the sudden. I don't remember it being like this a year or two ago, at all. I will be gl ad when I finally move on to a place where others are as cool as me. Peace out, Tommay
Tom humbly responds: Ah yes, BYU circa 2002. That was my low point. But I am truly humbled by your praises and alabanzas, Brigg. Especially from an email (and time) that I'd forgotten about and that has meant something to you. To all (four) readers at INFDL, we all have the power to touch lives. So reach out.
The Bekaa is strategically important to Assad because of it's position as a forward-operations area against Israel, especially as a northern flank to the Israeli occupied Golan heights. It is a vital bread-basket as well. There are numerous wineries, the Litany river and tributaries (lots of water in a relatively dry area), and countless historic and prehistoric sites. In the minds of many in Lebanon, the Bekaa is a national treasure. This is an important factor.
This move is very clearly aggressive. Rather than succumb to international pressure from the likes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Arab League in addition to the rare Euro-Anglo alliance, they have chosen the path of their own vaporization. Think of it; if Domascus pulls out entirely and hands Lebanon the keys to their own future, a military action against Syria would be seen in the eyes of the afore-mentioned groups as unilateral and aggressive. If however, as seems to be the case, Syria were to hold on to a very valuable slice of Lebanon and continue to send Jew-killers into Israel, there would be considerable support by many (though not all) for military actions against them.
The Bekaa is ringed by the two highest mountain ranges in Lebanon. The Syrians are sitting ducks waiting to be feathered. Why would they do this? Are they protecting something?
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Here’s my Favorite quote about President Bush from Jon Stewart:
He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.
Tom adds: I want to relay what Mr. Taranto, in Noah's linked page above, has brought to light regarding Ted Kennedy's bloated statements (from his bloated belly) about America losing the fight for hearts and minds in Iraq just 3 days before their famous landmark election; that in response to Kennedy's statements, "Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment." I've been chuckling for a good five minutes about it. Probably because it's the ultimate no-brainer joke, maybe, and that's what makes it funny. Great link, Noey.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
In response to Noah's last post about the possibility that certain people will be scrambling for ANY possible alternative explanation for the recent turn of events in the Middle East, I say: yes, full-of-shit peaceniks and Bush-haters-in-general will do just that. I mean, we've all heard some of the wild alternative explanations of "what really caused the collapse of european communism" that stupid-ass-baby-boomers-who-can't-stop-talking-about-the-fucking-60's make to discredit Reagan's contribution to communism's demise. And such it will be this time around as well; there are just way too many assholes so filled with hatred for Bush that they are incapable of understanding what is happening in the Middle East. Though I don't think any of these looney theses will hold any water (after all, these turns of events are and always have been the main Numero-Uno goal of the Bush Doctrine. WMD's were merely the legal justification to invade), we should still arm ourselves with some good shit and contribute to the defense. Here's a REAL tasty bit that gives our side the feeling of 18" manhood, and gives the Bush haters/apologists a whack of the cold spoon.
I really don't think any of these soon-to-be ludicrous cocktail party theories of "what caused this extraordinary movement in the middle-east" by complete nincompoops and wino dolts (oh I'm so glad I no longer work at fucking Sundance) will ever get any real credibility after the blogosphere is finished with them.
Oh, and does everybody just LUV how some of the mainstream media dicks, who are suddenly feeling threatened by blogs, are now trying to defame blogs as "lynch mobs". It's the same old name-calling bullshit that backed-into-a-corner leftists have always been using to stifle and squash any further debate on any matter, and walk away with the last word. Flimsy, and the blogs have finally ended that booooshit!
The stability junkies in the EU, UN and elsewhere have, as usual, missed the point. The Middle East is too stable. So, if you had to pick only one regime to topple, why not Iraq? Once you've got rid of the ruling gang, it's the West's best shot at incubating a reasonably non-insane polity. That's why the unravelling of the Middle East has to start not in the West Bank but in Baghdad.
And today he used his space in the Daily Telegraph to do some highly justified crowing:
Three years ago, those of us in favour of destabilising the Middle East didn't have to be far-sighted geniuses: it was a win/win proposition. As Sam Goldwyn said, I'm sick of the old clichés, bring me some new clichés. The old clichés - Pan-Arabism, Baathism, Islamism, Arafatism - brought us the sewer that led to September 11. The new clichés could hardly be worse. Even if the old thug-for-life had merely been replaced by a new thug-for-life, the latter would come to power in the wake of the cautionary tale of the former.
The changes in the Middle East were very much a part of the hawks plan from the beginning. We shouldn’t let the doves get away with pretending that they’re merely an unintended concequence.
This leaves opponents of the Iraq war in a tricky position . . . Not only did we set our face against a military adventure which seems, even if indirectly, to have triggered a series of potentially welcome side effects; we also stood against the wider world-view that George Bush represented. What should we say now?
It’s amazing to me that anyone on the left has enough intellectual honesty offer even so qualified an admission of Bush’s success in the Middle East. He is, after all, an epsilon semi-moron fit for no labor more complicated than scrubbing toilets (and even then, only toilets of the simpler sort). I have to tip my hat to Mr. Freedland and hope that more of his ilk will admit the obvious in the coming months.
You should read the piece, it will give you hope.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
I would now like to provide my own theory: the Russians are dicks (and no, Raymond Chandler fans, I do not mean private detectives).
Putin’s behavior of late provides ample evidence to support my theory. He has been crushing democratic institutions in his country piece by piece, he has destroyed the free press, he provided support to Saddam in the run up to the Iraq war, he backed the corrupt loser in the Ukraine, he has agreed to sell weapons to the Syrians, and now he has entered into a nuclear deal with Iran. And if that isn’t enough, today the AFP reports that the Ruskies are working on missiles that will get past the missile defense systems we are only now putting in place. Apparently they are going to make missiles that zig-zag (“serpentine Shell, serpentine!”).
Russia is a shit-hole shambles. It’s a poor country with a crumbling military and yet they have decided to pour who knows how many gazillions of rubles into slippery nuclear missiles.
And it ain’t just the leadership, poll after poll in Russia shows that a sizeable number of Russians are yearning for the days of Joseph Stalin and his murderous rule.
The way things are going it makes you wonder if we aren’t headed towards a Second Cold War sans communism, a war based not on political ideology, but a naked Russian lust for power.
Further down the page, however, the reporter explains how the UN arrived at its “relative child poverty” figures. “The figures refer to relative poverty defined as households with income per head below 50% of the national average.”
So if you were raised in a household where income per head was .001% less than the average in the United States, you were raised in poverty. This is silly and pointless measurement. If the average income in the United States was one million dollars a year, and you were raised in a household with an income of merely $999,999, then you were still raised in poverty according to the UN. On the other hand, if you are from Paraguay and the average income in your country is, say, $100 a year, and your household income is one hundred dollars and fifty two cents per annum, you are not impoverished.
The truth is that the report doesn’t measure poverty at all. All it tells us is that in the United States 22 percent of the under 18 population is living on less than the national average income. I fail to see how this is a problem.
The UN, however, sees this as a terrible crisis for the United States, and, of course, they have their usual glib solution: more social spending. This is ridiculous. The disparity between the United States and the Nordic countries praised in the report can be easily explained by the fact that in the United States (and Mexico) people tend to have more children, and thus there is less money per head than in Europe.