seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy


Sometimes you just gotta let loose

Phelps Smoked Pot. So What?

I've been meaning to weigh in on this bullshit - but anything I have to say has been said better by a friend - and famous Macalester soccer announcer - Seth Benziger who pointed me at this article which discusses the hypocrisy of Kellogg's

The leader of one of the biggest groups, the Marijuana Policy Project, called Kellogg's action "hypocritical and disgusting," and said he'd never seen his membership so angry, with more than 2,300 of them signing an online petition.

"Kellogg's had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone," said Rob Kampia, the group's executive director. "To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that's safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people."

Seth also noted that many seem to get angrier when athletes use recreational drugs versus those that give them an illegal advantage in their business.

Kudos to Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart has taken it to Bill O'Reilly... and though pointing Blowhard Bill's hypocritical-ness is about as challenging as tripping a blind person, I thought this merited sharing.

Gambling the Country Away

After 8 disastrous years under a President who clearly did not possess the qualities of a successful President, it turns out that conservatives around McCain knew Palin was even less qualified to be VP than anyone else. And yet, they kept claiming to put "country first" while working to put the most ignorant VP possible into power behind the man who would have been the oldest President to take the oath.

This is bullshit. I see no reason to believe anything that comes out of the mouth of anyone related to this campaign - and I include Senator McCain. I was excited to see his gracious concession speech, but to find out how much more under qualified Palin was without McCain taking responsibility and replacing her with a qualified candidate really pushes the limit. Fuck that.

She didn't know that Africa was a continent - thought it was a country. She didn't know who was in NAFTA - hint: the NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Not a lot of countries to choose from.

Thanks to daddYman for pointing me to this Andrew Sullivan post regarding it.

No one should forget that during one of the worst financial crises in the history of this country, when we are supposedly fighting a global war on terror against those that will do anything to kill us, they wanted to put a fucking moron a feeble heartbeat away from the President, gambling that nothing would happen to this ancient man who has led a hard life. As I have said previously, if Palin had somehow reached the Presidency (bear in mind that the race was much closer until the economy collapsed in September) she would have put the final nails in the coffin that Bush turned this country into.

Country first? FUCK YOU, Senator McCain. You are clearly not the person many of us hoped you were. You have no honor. Like Colin Powell, you traded your honor. Honor is earned and honor can be thrown away. I hope you are arrogant enough not to regret your choice.

Last Page Dread

I love reading The New Republic -- until I reach the last page. Leon Wieseltier is frequently featured as their "Washington Diarist" and I generally find him to be

  1. Wrong
  2. Dumb
  3. Arrogant
  4. Incomprehensible

Not always all 4, but always at least one. Occasionally I agree. Today was interesting - the November 5, 2008 issue has his "The Ballot Blues."

But before I go into that, I should note that I don't place a lot of blame on him when I find him incomprehensible. I blame myself for not having the energy to sort out writing when the author is intentionally trying to be hard to read - which is his mission in some pieces from what I can tell.

I believe good writers make themselves easy to understand, but some brilliant writers are well worth reading even when they make themselves hard to understand. It seems like an art - but I have never found anything Leon made hard to understand worth reading. I'm sure others have.

But I found a brilliant quote in this piece

I like capitalism, but not religiously, and I feel the same way about diplomacy. I do not trust bankers to understand American values and poets to understand American interests.

True to Leon form, after writing something brilliant, he has to balance it with something moronic. He says McCain was "splendidly right about the surge, which is not a small thing; and the grudging way Obama treats the reversal in Iraq, when he treats it at all, is disgraceful."

Leon should be smart enough to realize that the surge has not brought victory in Iraq. In exchange for fewer lost lives each month, we continue to spend billions for little gain for any American (and possibly humanitarian) interest. The "success" of the surge came largely from paying our enemies not to attack us - which is to say about 10x worse than "appeasement."

So many Americans want to kill the insurgents who dared attack our liberation-bringing troops. Listening to people call into radio shows whenever Guantanamo is brought up is instructive - it doesn't matter if someone materially supported attacks on our troops or not - if they are down there, they should be executed. These same Americans love that the insurgents we didn't catch are now drawing a paycheck from the same imperial army they once attacked.

So if we caught you, we should kill you. But if you were sneaky enough, we pay you.

But let's be clear - I support paying the insurgents. We should have done it long ago. It is well worth saving American lives who never should have been in Iraq anyway - and if committed to Iraq, should have been better supported by their military and civilian commanders. But let's not pretend the surge brought about the decline of violence from unacceptable to acceptable levels. It is largely the result of intelligent policies created before the surge that should have been embraced years ago if not for the fact that the Bush Administration cared more about keeping Rumsfeld in power than putting America's needs first.

And such as it is, the surge set a number of political goals and practically none have been met. But we can ignore that because Americans are not dying - and being grievously wounded - in large enough numbers to merit media coverage when we can talk about a campaign that will never end.

Should we be attacked in the first 10 months of an Obama administration - in an attack planned from Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, we will undoubtedly find many blaming Obama despite the fact it was Bush who refused to honor his pledge to hunt down bin Laden. But this is the nature of politics - never let facts get in the way of your predisposed notions.

Bleak Day

Maybe it is a rainy day that is affecting my mood. Maybe cuz I had to ride the bus after biking for the last 2 months to work. But I'm feeling down.

I watched some of the Olympics last night. I've had my fill for a few years. As a lover of sports, I found myself pretty turned off at the modern Olympics. I saw some volleyball matches (US beating Cuba), a few floor routines from the Chinese gymnasts, and a couple of swimming races.

While I enjoyed the sports I saw (handpicked by NBC for whatever reason they want), I was utterly dismayed at a lengthy infomercial promoting China. It seemed like it was done by the China Dept Tourism rather than NBC. They probably collaborated on it.

I don't want to be another naysayer focusing on all the problems of China rather than the Olympics, but I find it hard to watch an event held in China, promoted by Exxon Mobil, when the two represent much of what is wrong with the world rather than what the Olympics are supposed to promote.

But so it goes. And China should be celebrated for bringing so many people out of poverty in such a short time. Of course, it will give many of them cancer in the coming years due to the massive pollution it creates continuously. But to see NBC salivating at the chance to collaborate with another government ("Wow, distributing Chinese propaganda is different from distributing American gov propaganda!") rather than actually fulfill the ostensible purpose of the media, which is to search for the friggin' truth and tell people about it.

But whatever.

So Russia has invaded Georgia. Well, I guess it has stopped now? I dunno. I haven't really been following it. I'm taking a break from learning such things and reading fiction for a little while. Well - literary fiction to be clear. I mean, who the hell isn't reading fiction at this point? Can anyone really believe what Bush has done? That the Vice President is not welcome at the Republican National Convention and Bush bragged about being the #1 polluter last month? Fiction cannot compare to reality. Maybe it never could.

What I want to hear is how Russia invading Georgia is different from U.S. invading Iraq. Or, owing to the fact that Georgia is actually bordering Russia whereas Iraq is literally on the other side of the planet from us, how does their Georgia invasion differ from our invasion of Panama 20 years ago?

I'm making a moral equivalence because I continue to trust our own deeply flawed gov more than the Russian Putin-stan setup. But nonetheless - how do the invasions compare?

Fucking Gitmo

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.


While he was held at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base, Akhtiar said, "When I had a dispute with the interrogator, when I asked, 'What is my crime?' the soldiers who took me back to my cell would throw me down the stairs."

He is hardly an isolated instance. Looks like we will only be attempting to prosecute less than 10% of those we held at Guantanamo. Not because we have too many liberals whining about how we treated them, but because we sent a bunch of farmers and goat herders to be tortured while the Bush Administration claimed they were the worst of the worst.

As for the torture policies - who came up with that? Was it anyone who had any experience in gaining intelligence? No. From what is emerging, it sounds like the green light for torture came from a bunch of idiot lawyers led by idiot-extraordinaire Gonzalez who have never been on a battlefield, much less dealt with interrogations. But they may have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express once or twice and they have seen 24, so they were pretty sure it was the smart thing to do. Those who led the interrogations of the Iraqis following the Gulf War were horrified but mostly have had to protest from outside the Administration cuz no one likes a party pooper in Washington - some details here.

I know, I know. You are tired of reading about the Bush Administration and what our government is doing. You are just waiting until he gets out of office. And probably, if you run into someone who thinks the Bush Admin is doing a good job mostly, you just ignore them rather than challenging them too much.

Well fuck that. I'm sick and tired of hearing how soldiers protect our freedoms. They have. But mostly it has been citizens and groups like the ACLU and even NRA, no matter how much you hate either one. And citizens who are too busy to know what their government is up to should move to China where you do not have the burden of living in a free society.

McClatchy newspapers have done an incredible story on Guantanamo Bay and what really happened there. That is what the above quote comes from. Diane Rehm recently did two incredible shows on Gitmo - one on Prosecuting detainees and one on detaining terrorism suspects.

Finally, the March/April issue of Mother Jones has a great series of articles on how the U.S. came to be a country that officially embraced torture (while actually torturing the definition of torture).

What a sad day for America. And it has not come because our troops failed. We have failed. The citizens of the United States have refused to improve upon the country we inherited. How have we progressed in the last 20 years?

For the last hundred years, the U.S. has made impressive gains. Women's suffrage, civil rights, social freedoms, and a modest improvement toward achieving equal status for gays. We have a long way to go on all of those issues, and our foreign policy over the entire history of this country has never been as enlightened as we pretend.

Nonetheless, I cannot think of a worse Presidential Administration, where the country gave up so much and lost so much. We have not gained riches while allowing the government to do what it pleases without oversight. In fact, our economy is falling apart.

True, we have had no terrorist attacks in the past 5 years. But Bush's policies have bankrupted the country financially and morally. Killing more troops in a bullshit war than died in 9/11. And maiming enough others to account for 100 9/11s. We have no moral high ground as Bush brags about being the world's top polluter (which isn't even true for fuck's sake). What a day for America.

I'm sure some would respond to this by saying we have to do everything we can because this terrorist threat is the worst threat we have ever faced. Even if you accept this judgment (which is utter bullshit and demonstrates the wretched knowledge of history most Americans exhibit), consider what Bush has done. From the McClatchy investigation:

A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.

The radicals were quick to exploit the flaws in the U.S. detention system.

Soldiers, guards or interrogators at the U.S. bases at Bagram or Kandahar in Afghanistan had abused many of the detainees, and they arrived at Guantanamo enraged at America.

The Taliban and al Qaida leaders in the cells around them were ready to preach their firebrand interpretation of Islam and the need to wage jihad, Islamic holy war, against the West. Guantanamo became a school for jihad, complete with a council of elders who issued fatwas, binding religious instructions, to the other detainees.

In a funny movie called Canadian Bacon, Michael Moore is in a bar when they hear on the news that Canada has taken some Americans hostage. He says: "Gentlemen, there is time to think, and there is a time to act. And this, is no time to think." Nailed it.

New Yorker Obama Cartoon


People are upset at a satirical cover on the New Yorker magazine. This seems like much more of a 24-hour media phenomenon than anything. Talking heads need something to gush about and apparently it is hot enough in all the TV studios for them to have lost all sense of humor.

I liked the damn cover. I thought it was well done and satirical. But for those who did not like it, I think Jon Stewart offered the absolute best answer to the cover the Obama campaign could have given.

Obama's campaign seems to have morphed into a rather average Democratic Party affair. He has jettisoned the idea of doing things differently (mostly - he has still refused to take money from lobbyists). But I remain convinced he is the best hope for our sad government.

It's (not) Over! Hillary's Ego Expands; Threatens Universe

Never assume you cannot get more annoyed at a Clinton. I thought Andrew Sullivan summed it up:

The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton.

Hillary's supporters rail on a sexist media. Maybe some are sexist, but I wonder how many of them have given her a pass on her slash-and-burn strategy long after it was clear she could not win. I cannot imagine the cries of sexism if the roles were reversed and Obama - a black man - had the temerity to attempt, over and over again, to derail the campaign of the first woman nominated to run for President and demanded to be #2 on the ticket just cuz.

Oil Grandstanding

(or how I stopped caring about the profits of oil companies)

Every time I hear someone (usually liberals, bless their hearts) blame oil company profits for the high cost of oil, I want to rip the wings off a butterfly. Politicians love grandstanding on it - grilling these execs as though it will reduce the price at the pump.

Meanwhile, conservatives are trying to blame environmentalists for the lack of spare refining capacity - but I don't see any of those Republicans moving downwind of one (even with the enviro regs we have pushed over their objections).

High oil prices hurt. It is like burning yourself on the stove. Short term pain for long term gain. You learn a lesson. In the larger sense, Americans need to learn to be more efficient with fossil fuels. We could have learned it decades ago, but we chose to be irresponsible instead, hoping that prices would always stay low - which may be as naive as hoping Republicans won't hit on you in the bathroom.

Back to the point - oil prices are high because there is a fixed amount and LOTS of people want it. It takes a decade to really increase the supply on the market, which means when demand suddenly accelerates, the cost must go up (to make sure what is available goes only to those who really want to pay for it).

Executive pay has nothing to do with it. Oil companies are making insane profits. If they were forced to lower prices, we would see shortages. How pissed off would you be when rolling up to empty gas stations? Want to drive another 10 miles to find a gas station with gas?

There is another factor - one I am pissed I do not see enough taking seriously. The cost of oil has doubled in Euros but quadrupled in dollars. This is because the dollar has dropped significantly in value. The Bush Administration has thoroughly trashed this country - and the Republican nominee (McCain) admits he knows nothing about the economy.

Great. And he'll probably be elected because he wants to put women back in their place, encouraging the government to make decisions about their body if they become pregnant. And the people that elect him will continue bitching about tax-and-spend liberals while chickenhawk Republicans borrow to fight stupid wars around the planet and liberals bitch about oil companies.

iTunes is Horrible

I just wanted to briefly remind everyone that iTunes is a singularly horrible piece of junk. I was reminded of this recently when I was asked to once again upgrade iTunes by downloading the entire new application. Most programs (which is to say pretty much all of them) upgrade by sending you patches.

This avoids the hassle of downloading large files that take far longer to install than any other software you own. But no, iTunes - in a giant F-U to anyone on dialup - forces you to download the whole damn program to get those bug fixes and new features you will never use unless you own the rip-off iPhone.

So then you reinstall it and you find that shortcuts you put in your shortcut bar for iTunes no longer work and you have to set up a new shortcut. Funny how no other program I have ever used has this problem.

I almost forgot - if you get a corrupted podcast downloaded (as seems to happen frequently with Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me from MPR), there appears to be no way to force it to download a corrected version.

Apple: Do you intentionally do everything wrong as part of some grander message from Fuhrer Jobs?

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