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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Hard Power v. Soft Power 

This newfound respect for soft power is encouraging. The Bush Administration is publicly declaring a new effort to de-alienate our allies around the world. That's good.
The effort stems from the administration's realization that progress on issues that include the Middle East peace process, stabilizing Iraq and preventing Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons is far more likely with the cooperation of allies than if the U.S. worked alone, a White House official said.
They just now came to this "realization"? Better late than never, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Jail or War 

Me - "Hey, Coerced Military Service. How's it goin' man!"

CMS - "Not bad, Tbag. You see, nobody wants a draft. So instead of forcing people to start serving, we've decided not to let anyone stop serving.'"

Me - "Yeah...I heard about that. But if you think Stop Loss Policies are groovy, you should check out what I got: Backdoor Drafts! You don't know fun til you've found military personel who have long since completed their service to this nation honorably, and tried to send them back to war...it's the coolest!"

CMS - "That's so September 10th! You're not a man til you've given a convicted criminal the choice of going to jail or going to war."

Me - "Finally, the perfect blend of the 'war on terror' and the 'war on drugs'. Those commericals that claimed smoking pot helped terrorists were hilarious, but you guys have really taken it to the next level, bro. This is the bomb!"

CMS - "I was wondering why they insisted on locking up thousands of non-violent people for having dead plants. They weren't criminals...they were future soldiers. Hell, we're only one step away from merging the prison industrial complex with the military industrial complex."

Me - "What would it be then, the Giganto Industrial Complex?!?"

CMS - "No, that would be the end of a free society."

Me - "Oh. Shit. That's a downer."

CMS - "Dude, I fucking suck."

Me - "Yeah...you do fucking suck."

UPDATE: Well. Apparently, the army won't have the guy afterall. Sighs of relief all around. At least we haven't gone that far down that path yet...


Old Ass Americans 

No...not the AARP.

I mean Americans from a really, really long time ago!

No...not George Washington. I mean people who lived on this continent before it was "discovered" by white people! GASP!
An archaeologist from the University of South Carolina on Wednesday announced radiocarbon tests that dated the first human settlement in North America to 50,000 years ago -- at least 25,000 years before other known human sites on the continent.
Pretty fascinating stuff.
Scientists and volunteers at the site in Allendale have unearthed hundreds of possible implements, many appearing to be stone chisels and tools that could have been used to skin hides, butcher meat or carve antlers, wood and ivory. The tools were fashioned from a substance called chert, a flint-like stone found in the region.
It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out. There is only evidence of humans, not remains like with our recent hobbit discovery. Pretty neat, though.

Uplifting 

Via Pandagon.

This is truly uplifting and neat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Practice for Cat Blogging 

To lighten the mood around here, I've decided to try out some cat blogging. I'm new to this whole thing of doing pictures with blogger, so bear with me if I screw it up.

As a tester, here's Speakers when he was just a wee kitten:





Hassan Dead (or how Bush is failing in the war against Islamo-facism) 

Fucking barbarians. This woman did nothing but help the Iraqi people, and they murdered her.

I didn't think I could get more disgusted. I continuously reevaluate what it is we are up against. I think this plays well into my earlier post on the 2 groups fighting us in Iraq (that post focuses on Falluja, but could apply to most of the country). The people who committed this atrocity are clearly in the Islamo-facist group, as no real friend of the Iraqi people would hurt this woman, much less ritualistically kill her.
Hassan held British, Irish and Iraqi nationality, was married to an Iraqi and had lived in Iraq for 30 years.
...
"For the past 30 years, Margaret worked tirelessly for the Iraqi people," the statement added.

"Margaret had only goodwill towards everyone. She had no prejudice against any creed. She dedicated her whole life to working for the poor and vulnerable, helping those who had no one else."
Sickened.

Combine this with the brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh, and anyone can see that these people are beyond reason. I believe in war only as a last resort. We are rightly at war with Islamo-facism.

But it highlights an important step that we have yet to take. We must fight our enemy, not anyone who looks like our enemy. Iraq has forced us into the latter situation.

The war against Islamo-facism must be selective in its targets. That is why Iraq is a mistake. Now we have both our enemy in Iraq, as demonstrated by Hassan's death and other gruesome acts of ritual violence, and people who look like our enemy. Everytime we mean to kill our enemy, and kill someone else instead, we make more of our enemy. That is the poison of Iraq and one of the myriad reasons why it is the wrong war.

To make things worse, there are insurgents in Iraq who are fighting for the freedom of their country without carrying the banner of Islamo-facism. These people fit somewhere in the middle. They are our enemy only because we made the mistake of attacking Iraq instead of attacking the terrorists. We need to find and destroy Islamo-facists wherever they are (Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, or Florida). By bogging ourselves down in Iraq, we have undercut our ability to do that while simultaneously creating a climate of anti-Americanism and providing propaganda material to Islamo-facists, playing right into the hands of the likes of Bin Laden.

Most assume, as do I, that Zarqawi is responsible for the fate of Hassan. That is why I find it absolutely unforgivable that when the Bush administration had the chance to kill Zarqawi, they didn't. Why?
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
THAT, my friends, is not taking the war on terror seriously. And THAT, my friends, is why I fear for the security of our country, our allies, and our interests abroad more with Bush and Rumsfeld still calling the shots.


Blog Roundup 

Want to get a snapshot of the hot topics on the blogs?

Click the link for the Daou report to the left.

It's a pretty good quick look-round at the major blogs: right, left, and center.

I'm going to add a section to my roll soon with some more of these "meta-blogs" for my own benefit...you can take advantage of them as well.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Falluja 

I wrote a post a few days ago about possible positive news from Falluja. I stand by that post, but with the positive comes the negative.

Do NOT click here if you don't want to see what war looks like, which you won't if you get all of your info from mainstream U.S. media.


Propaganda 

No...not on our side of the pond.

This time we're writing terrorist propaganda in Iraq.

I hope this guy wasn't following orders when he shot a wounded prisoner in the head who was quite clearly out of combat and "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way." I don't think he was, but after Abu Ghraib, what do you think the average Iraqi is going to think?

UPDATE: Oh, and flying terror suspects to countries that use torture can be added to this class of activities as well. Under domestic U.S. law, we have a term for people who are complicit in such crimes. That word is "guilty."

Perle in Hot Water 

Richard Perle...the man who brought you our undying faith in Ahmed Chalabi, is accused in a lawsuit of defrauding a company while sitting as a director.

Color me fucking shocked.

If you think this is some nickel and dime shit, think again:
Chicago, IL, October 29, 2004 - Hollinger International Inc. (NYSE:HLR) (“the Company”) today announced that the Special Committee of its Board of Directors (“the Special Committee”) has filed a Second Amended Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (“the Court”) on behalf of the Company in its lawsuit against certain directors and former directors and officers, as well as the Company’s controlling shareholder and its affiliated companies. The total amount of damages sought in this Second Amended Complaint is approximately $542 million, which includes pre-judgment interest of $117 million.
I don't understand why I am continually expected to listen to crooks and liars. It plagues me that this guy is still around Washington, stinking up the policy pond.


Democratic Navel-gazing 

Of all the recent posts on blogs throughout the left side of the blogosphere with the thesis "what do we do now?", this is my favorite so far.

Oil independence, anyone?

The Manhattan Project 

Atrios's guest-poster Hecate proposes a Manhattan Project, but for oil independence:
Of course, what we really need, and won't get with this administration, is a Manhattan project to get this country off of oil. It would improve our foreign relations, our environment, and our economy. Properly done, a Manhattan project would create jobs and new technologies that would allow us to stop polluting and still maintain our economy.
I need to think about this for a while, but it could be a damn good idea. He also makes the obvious point that entrenched oil industry figures in both this administration and Congress make this a moot point for the next 4 (and likely more) years.

But this might be the kind of massive policy proposal that could be something for Democrats to run on for the next few election cycles. Think the New Deal for oil independence. Not only is it a good idea practically, but it taps into the history of the Democratic party in a way that supporting gay rights (though admirable) does not.

And if my libertarian friends have a problem with this (gee, I wonder who I'm talking about), I'd like to hear them. This seems like one of the things that only the federal government could accomplish. Assuming any resulting technology is not made a government monopoly, however, I don't see how this would inappropriately increase government power at the federal level (though it would, of course, increase spending).

Criticisms?

UPDATE: And if the Dems decide to grow balls and play rough (which I think they must), this also opens up some great dirty politics and fear-mongering opportunities. Just send the whole country to read this.

Or if they're feeling charitable, there are other, less alarmist sources for information on peak oil. Oh...my bad, that's scary and alarmist, too. ;)

Powell Out? 

Powell has lost alot of the massive respect I had for him during Bush's first term. But as between him staying in the cabinet and forcing some sanity on those people (and consequently losing the rest of the respect I have for him) and his leaving the cabinet and giving the crazies the trifecta of VP, Sec Def, and Sec State, I think I would choose the former.

But alas, Powell deserves a rest as much as anyone on this planet, I imagine. So I can't say I blame him for leaving.

I wasn't pleased with him for towing the line in so many instances. But then again, that's his job. The man has truly dedicated his life to serving this country. He would have gone down in history as the author of the most important doctrine on war of this era, I believe, had he not allowed himself to be complicit in its violation about a decade after he penned it.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

"Researchers" have found Atlantis/Tourism dollars 

Well...mystery solved...nothing to see here.

You see, an "American researcher" proclaims "we have definitely found the acropolis of Atlantis." Well, thank you Robert Sarmast for solving that little mystery.
Sarmast, 38, is an architect by training from Los Angeles.
Hmmm...what do the local experts think of this?
The chief government archaeologist of Cyprus, Pavlos Flourentzos, reacted with skepticism, telling The Associated Press: "More proof is necessary."
But what does an archaeologist know about uncovering lost civilizations that your average "architect by training" doesn't? Nothing. But I'll tell you what an "architect by training" (and New Age nancy by trade) knows about that most "real" archaeologists probably don't: big money, baby!
Sarmast said his expedition had cost about $250,000. The funds came from public donations to his US-based company "First Source Enterprise," which is devoted to the project, sales of his book "The Discovery of Atlantis," and the Cypriot Tourist Organization, which donated $60,000.

He said the book, published in September 2003, said Atlantis was in the east Mediterranean and his latest sonars confirmed it.
Wait, you mean this wasn't a standard, university or state sponsored archeaological expedition?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure "First Source Enterprise" is an upstanding legal entity and all that. And I'm not saying that private sector science isn't a good thing. But we all know that anything "private sector" has a goal, and that the goal is to make money. Now when the profits roll in because you cure a disease, have at it. But when the goal is tourism dollars and kooky New Age book sales, I think your credibility is wearing a bit thin. Like Alexandra Kerry at Cannes thin.

So why do I give a shit whether this guy discovered Atlantis or not? Hell, maybe he did. I just don't understand how, with all the exciting stuff going on in science right now, the CNN.com science section is running this totally inconclusive hack job.

As you were.

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