Interviews, Articles, Etc.
T-shirts & Swag
My Wish List (read this first)
Body and Soul
The Talent Show
Support this site:
if you buy anything at all from Powell's through this link...
...or from Amazon through this one...
...I get a small kickback.
The Bitter Shack of Resentment
Mikhaela Blake Reid
Talking Points Memo
A Tiny Revolution
News and commentary
Center for American Progress
Daily War News
Soldiers for the Truth
Working For Change
February 27, 2003
Our broadcast week ends
Blogging will be light to nonexistent until Monday. I won't be checking email much either--in fact, you're probably better off waiting to send anything until next week, if you don't want your message to get lost in the inevitable avalanche. See you in a few.
From the mailbag
As I mentioned, the wingnuts are all over the highly improbable teachers-taunting-students story. A reader points me to a talk radio host in Tennessee who is apparently planning to hold a fundraiser in which his listeners will be able to express their frustration with the French by smashing a Peugeot with a sledgehammer--god, it just makes your head hurt, doesn't it?--and who now suggests that Maine schoolteachers might be a good target for those sledgehammers as well:
"Anti war" TEACHERS IN MAINE HAVE BEEN TAUNTING AND HARASSING THEIR YOUNG STUDENTS WHOSE PARENTS ARE SHIPPING OUT TO IRAQ, TELLING THEM THAT THEIR MOMMIES AND DADDIES ARE "BAD" FOR GOING TO WAR. FORGET THE PEUGEOT, WHERE CAN WE FIND A COUPLE OF THESE NITWITS.
The version of the article this thoughtful fellow links to is from the Washington Times, and if you take the trouble to actually read it, this is what you learn:
Mr. Albanese told the Bangor Daily News that only one complaint involved classroom remarks, after the child of a Guard member became upset during a discussion of Iraq when a teaching assistant "took up the anti-war" argument.
So in other words, what we've got here is one teaching assistant who may or may not have said something vaguely critical of the war effort, and a bunch of seven year olds teasing each other.
Maybe Bill O'Reilly can bring the little tykes on his show and expose them as enemies of the state.
"You will be considered enemies of the state"
I hope MWO will forgive me the lengthy excerpt from their site, but this is extraordinary:
Bill O'Reilly - 02/26:
Hey! Great news!
The White House has lowered the terror level to "Yellow"!
Let's all get out there and par-tay!
The sound of one hand slapping a forehead
Re sponding to criticism from Democrats and to the mounting concern of state and local governments, the White House is now saying that the long delayed government spending plan for the year does not provide enough money to protect against terrorist attacks on American soil.
February 26, 2003
Once again, your cynicism is entirely justified
The liberal media conspiracy in action:
While "Donahue" does badly trail both O'Reilly and CNN's Connie Chung in the ratings, those numbers have improved in recent weeks. So much so that the program is the top-rated show on MSNBC, beating even the highly promoted "Hardball With Chris Matthews."
Actually, it is about the oil
An elaboration from Max Sawicky, for readers perplexed by the obvious:
Here are the arguments I could find...for why this war couldn't possibly be about oil.
The Rush Limbaugh transcript project is up and running. So let's get busy fact checking his ass, people. (Also: they need volunteers.)
The smell test
This doesn't come close to passing it, though the wingnuts are apparently all over it.
What I see in this article are a lot of unsubstantiated allegations. I don't see any specifics. I don't know anything more about it, but this just reeks of something getting blown up all out of proportion. You know: some teacher says something innocuous about the debate over war, and the next thing you know, the leap-before-you-look crowd has translated this into "your daddy is an evil baby killer!"
A reader asks...
It's a long piece and I've admittedly only skimmed it, which is why I've edited this entry a bit. Curious to see where he's going with this, though.
Bandwidth crisis update
As you may know, this site had a bit of a problem recently, when we went over our bandwidth limit and the hosting company, Earthlink, imposed a penalty to the tune of $3800. Happily, the people at Earthlink proved to be reasonable and willing to work with us on this, and we reached a compromise, and were supposed to have had a large piece of that penalty deposited back into the appropriate account within a few days (we had one of those direct-payment deals set up).
It hasn't happened yet.
Hope it's just working its way through the bureaucracy more slowly than expected; otherwise, I may have to start rattling the tip jar again. We shall see. (Any of our friends from Earthlink out there reading this?)
Outrage overload, cont'd.
You've seen those "if you take drugs you support terror" ads, of course.
Well, if you support the administration's particular version of a war on terror, this is the sort of thing you support:
Bernadette Devlin McCaliskey, the world-renowned Irish civil rights leader was refused entry into the United States of Ashcroft. At Chicago's O'Hare, she was told that she presented a danger and wouldn't be permitted to step foot on American soil. She begged them to recheck their computer. She insisted there had to be a mistake. She told them she came in peace. They said that Tony Blair's British government had told them by fax a different story. They said she was a risk. Yes, this is the same Devlin who at 21 became the youngest MP elected to Parliament. Deported.
And then there's this:
Last week, Eugene Angelopoulos arrived at JFK enroute to New York University, where he had been invited to speak at a conference on Philosophy and Politics. The Greek academic was instead detained at the airport, shackled and interrogated. He was asked to explain his views about an American war on Iraq, and immigration officials demanded to know if he was "anti-American." Ultimately, he found his way back to Athens, but his NYU stint was not to be, and he was shaken to the core.
And then there's the case of the nationalized Canadian citizen who was deported "back" to his homeland of Syria and has not been heard from since.
Is this the America you want to live in?
Maybe you don't care, because you figure you're a good, law-abiding, patriotic, white-skinned American citizen, and it's never going to affect you. In which case, you will most certainly get the country you deserve.
Strange, though, how so many self-identified libertarians seem unfazed by things like this. Too busy giving toy guns to kids in Harlem, I guess.
Update: here's a Canadian citizen who was deported to India.
Sad to say, if you're dark skinned and Canadian, you might want to avoid travelling through American airports.
I am speechless.
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is proposing to exempt the Pentagon's controversial missile defense system from operational testing legally required of every new weapons system in order to deploy it by 2004.
Story here (warning: incredibly annoying LA Times login procedure).
Not from the Onion
This is an actual story in today's IMDB:
Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino have been added to the cast of madcap comedy Stuck On You - where Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon play twins conjoined at the head. In the flick, one of the twins has a burning passion to get into show business and drags his reluctant sibling along. Cher is also in the movie, where she'll play a TV star who works with the twins, taking them trick-or-treating in once scene where the co-joined twins wear an octopus costume. The film, to be made by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, will not make fun of the disabled, stress the brothers - also responsible for the controversial Gwyneth Paltrow flick Shallow Hal. According to reports, the production team is also currently auditioning young actors with very big ears for a part in the flick.
...the Virtual March on Washington is today.
Thoughts on some television programs I have recently watched
I liked the first season of "24" quite a lot, even toward the end when it started getting completely silly. But this season, it just seems tedious. Maybe it's just the real-time format, too hard to sustain over the long run, but it seems like all we've had lately is people being semi-tortured as other people shout "Where's the bomb? Where's the bomb?" Maybe it's just too close to the anxieties of daily life right now--the ongoing plot, if you don't follow the show, involves terrorists with a nuclear bomb planning to destroy Los Angeles. Somehow this just isn't quite as much escapist fun as last season's more personal family-in-danger plotline. And the sub-plots grow increasingly annoying, particularly Kim's continuing Perils-of-Pauline adventures.
Speaking of Real Time, and how's that for a segue, I finally watched a bit of the new Bill Maher show. Can't say I'm sold on it, though I can't quite put my finger on the specific reason. An hour without commercials may just be too much for that format to sustain, even if broken up by comedians and craaaaazy interludes with Chris Rock. My wife said it best: if I just want to sit around for an hour on Friday night listening to people argue about politics, I can go out with my friends, and then at least I can take part in the conversation. (Speaking of arguing about politics with my friends, I see that my pal Ted Rall is going to be on next week; I'm sure he'll liven up the proceedings somewhat, in his own inimitable fashion.)
And then there's Da Ali G Show, which had me literally doubled over with laughter. I can't remember the last time a tv show had me laughing so hard that tears ran down my face. I'm not even going to try to explain it. Just watch it.
...by all the people who take the time to write in and denounce me. And always amused by the completely puzzled tone, as if the writers have stumbled across an alien artifiact whose purpose and meaning is completely beyond anything they have ever previously encountered. You'd think, reading some of these notes, that American public opinion is utterly unambiguous regarding the war--that my cartoon and/or blog are the only places these people see any hint whatsoever of an alternate viewpoint, and that viewpoint simply makes no sense whatseoever! How can I be against the war? Don't I realize that Saddam Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, and all the rest of the usual propagandistic talking points regurgitated as if they are the writer's own special unique insights?
Speaking of which, it seems there was a bit of a tempest in the blogosphere recently about unpleasant email. As someone who's been dealing with this for quite a lot longer than the average blogger, all I can say is this: there's a great deal of wisdom to the old saying about kitchens, and withstanding the heat therein. (And, a parenthetical note to any right-wingers new to this game of public feedback, who are foolish enough to believe that the crazy email they receive discredits the opposition: don't forget, your side's crazies include the fundies and the racists and the gay-bashers and the types who worry about Jewish Bankers and the Zionist Occupational Government. I'll match you and raise you and walk home with the pot, hands down, believe me.)
February 25, 2003
A local report from Idaho, on the Very Important Bong Crackdown:
Seventeen owners and employees of so-called "head shops" in Idaho and eastern Oregon were arrested and accused of offering to sell drug paraphernalia to undercover agents.
If you've ever lived in a small town, you know how hard it can be to find work. A lot of the time, you have to take what you can get, and be grateful for it. Chances are, at least some of the arrested employees were just people who thought they were lucky to find jobs, in Pocatello, Idaho and eastern Oregon, jobs in legitimate businesses with storefronts and cash registers and tax payments and so on--it's not as if these people were muling dope across the border, for chrissakes. They were probably working for minimum wage, maybe a little bit over, happy to have found any sort of job in what one suspects is not the liveliest local economy to be found in this vast land of ours--and now thanks to this mind numbingly moronic administration, they're facing prison time and huge fines. And you hope that the justice system is lenient with them, but who the hell knows? Maybe they end up before the wrong Republican judge in backwoods Idaho, and it's three years on the taxpayer dime.
This is such bullshit.
I don't really care much about inter-blog squabbles, but I think this post by Patrick Nielsen Hayden transcends its inspiration:
The estimable Calpundit says ìMy sense from reading the anti-war left is that they donít really take the danger of terrorism and unstable states seriously.î
There's more, and he's right. I believe Patrick is a neighbor of mine, and where we live, this wasn't all some exciting tv show. It was something we lived through, and then lived with, for months.
A pause while your host indulges his geekdom
We're losing Farscape--and it's being replaced with this?
I can't find a transcript...
...but I've got a reader who says that Rumsfeld called 9/11 a "blessing in disguise" at his briefing this morning.
Anybody got a link?
Update: this is from a week or so ago, but seems to be the same thought.
I met with the Sultan of Oman in a tent a month or two I suppose after the September 11th period. He said something that just struck me. He said, Mr. Secretary, I hate to even say this but it may be that September 11th was a blessing in disguise. I said why? In what way? He said because the weapons today are very dangerous and so powerful and can kill not 3,000 but 30,000 or 300,000 human beings. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the wakeup call for the world, that they will recognize that this new century [inaudible] and the difference in the threats we face today from the threats we faced before.
Diplomacy, American style
"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."
But there were twenty college Republicans out the other day protesting in support of the war
Virtual march on Washington
On February 26th, every Senate office will receive a call every minute from a constituent, as they receive a simultaneous flood of faxes and e-mail. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country will send the collective message: Don't Attack Iraq. Every Senate switchboard will be lit up throughout the day with our message -- a powerful reminder of the breadth and depth of opposition to a war in Iraq. And on that day, "antiwar rooms" in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles will highlight the day's progress for the national media, while local media can visit the "antiwar room" online to monitor this constituent march throughout the day.
Your tax dollars at work
Okay, with an imminent war in Iraq and an ongoing threat of terrorism, what's the best use of limited Justice Department resources right now?
Apparently John Ashcroft believes it is the pursuit of bongs.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of the Western District of Pennsylvania today announced the indictment of 27 individuals on charges of trafficking in illegal drug paraphernalia. The charges, contained in 17 separate indictments, are the culmination of a nationwide investigation code-named "Operation Pipe Dreams," and include 10 indictments against national distributors of drug paraphernalia and seven indictments involving businesses located in Western Pennsylvania.
Yeah, that's worth the effort. I swear, this administration gets stupider by the minute.
...Krugman nails it:
Consider the astonishing fact that Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, appears unwilling to cast his U.N. Security Council vote in America's favor. Given Mexico's close economic ties to the United States, and Mr. Fox's onetime personal relationship with Mr. Bush, Mexico should have been more or less automatically in America's column. But the Mexican president feels betrayed. He took the politically risky step of aligning himself closely with Mr. Bush ó a boost to Republican efforts to woo Hispanic voters ó in return for promised reforms that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants. The administration never acted on those reforms, and Mr. Fox is in no mood to do Mr. Bush any more favors.
These people don't keep their promises. They can't be trusted. Why is this so hard for some people to understand?
Unscientific poll watch, AOL edition
Haven't seen this one myself, but a reader on AOL reports that a poll question greeted him when he signed on this morning: "Is it unpatriotic to protest the war?"
Goddamn them. Seriously. I am so goddamn sick of this shit. I am sick of having to have this conversation. I am sick of these "do you still beat your wife?" questions.
On the bright side, the answer so far was overwhelmingly "no." But still. How about rephrasing it: "Is it unpatriotic to suppress dissent?" You don't see that question in online polls very often, do you?
February 24, 2003
Just call me Mister Cheerful
Fascinating, if horrifying, article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine, about the security state Americans could find ourselves living in before long. I'd like to think that this is just the sort of journalistic chicken little-ism we saw with Y2K, but it's disturbingly plausible.
More good news
From the New York Times:
The possibility of war with Iraq could unleash acts of anti-American violence in the United States or overseas by individual extremists who do not belong to Al Qaeda or other Middle Eastern terrorist groups but sympathize with their grievances, intelligence and law enforcement officials say.
The Lysistrata Project
From a reader:
In case you are not up to date on this, on March 3, 2003, hundreds of performances of Aristophanes' bawdy comedy will be presented as a "worldwide act of theatrical dissent." The Lysistrata Project was the brain child of a few theater people in NYC, but has grown beyond the wildest dreams of its initiators since its inception in January. At 10:00 am on February 24, the total was up to 681 readings in 41 countries, but every day another few readings have been added to the list here . In addition to performances in every state of the USA, readings are scheduled in Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Jerusalem, Beirut, Buenos Aires, and Damascus, Syria. There are four separate groups rehearsing for performances in my own small city of Syracuse, New York. For those who are unfamiliar with the play, the women of Athens and other Greek city-states stop a war by agreeing to withhold sex from their men until they sign a truce. Lysistrata is so ancient and so explicitly bawdy that translators and playwrights have generated many versions over the years. The Lysistrata Project site includes links to over a dozen scripts, including re-tellings suitable for elementary or high school students. The Lysistrata Project is one more reminder that creative people all over the world are raising their voices in protest against Bush's imminent war against Iraq.
But of course
Washington - There was only one problem with President George W. Bush's claim Thursday that the nation's top economists forecast substantial economic growth if Congress passed the president's tax cut: The forecast with that conclusion doesn't exist.
The warblogger handbook
If confronted with worldwide mass protest against the war--what Jon Stewart described as possibly the largest coordinated worldwide protest in human history--either (a) ignore it completely, (b) single out the occasional goofball for excessive deconstruction, and/or (c) question the numbers extensively.
However, any time there is a pro-war protest anywhere, of any size whatsoever, link to it immediately. And there's no need to question the numbers--not that you would--since the crowd is always small enough to count every individual participant.
* * *
On a related note, Brendan O'Neill has thoughts on warblogger hubris, vis-a-vis the upcoming war:
If blogging really did lead the way in covering the war with Iraq, we would end up more ill-informed than we were during the first Gulf War of 1991. Then we had Big Media lies and US-led propaganda - today, blogging-led reportage would give us nothing but prejudice masquerading as fact, and an incestuous debate that will be as morally removed from events in the Gulf as it will be physically distant.
Half a million visitors a month and I don't even rate a mention here?
Cartoonists get no respect, I tell you.
I get information from a lot of sources, and I don't thank The New York Times or the Washington Post or The Nation every time an article inspires a cartoon idea. But this week's cartoon was inspired by several successive posts on Atrios' site, so I do feel like I should at least tip my hat in his (her?) direction.
And on the subject of Congresswoman Myrick, my editor at Creative Loafing in Charlotte, John Grooms, sends the following:
We've been reporting on her goofy, backward ideas and borderline insanity for years. Just for your entertainment, you might want to know a bit more about her. She was mayor of Charlotte in the late 80s. She claimed that she and her husband (the Ed mentioned in your cartoon) had agonized over whether she should run, and so they did what any normal couple would do: they made an altar in a sand dune at the beach and prayed and apparently got the go-ahead from God then and there. But later she still had doubts about running and, I shit you not, claimed she heard a voice telling her to run coming out of her coffeemaker.
According to John, she also ran a re-election campaign claiming to be the "morally superior" candidate, at least until Creative Loafing pulled court records proving that she had helped to break up Ed's first marriage in the usual fashion. She still won.
February 23, 2003
I missed Bill Maher's new show...
...which premiered on HBO on Friday. But I'm just awfully glad that Ann Coulter has a new, regular, weekly platform from which to denounce people like me, and probably you, as traitors. The darned liberal media just don't give her enough airtime, you know?
Update: Then again, sometimes a little sunshine can be a good thing. A reader reports:
I managed to catch Maher's new show, and I really enjoyed watching Coulter get hosed on there. She spouted off as usual, but Maher refuted her, and the audience there definitely agreed. Even my friends watching it, who are much more conservative than I, agreed she's a whackjob.
Just the facts, ma'am
Michael Ventura, in the Austin Chronicle:
Powell claimed that one photo was of a lab for chemical and biological weapons -- a "poison factory" he called it, run by "al Qaeda affiliates" in northern Iraq. Three days later reporters found their way to that camp and saw "structures that did not have plumbing and had only the limited electricity supplied by a generator" (The New York Times, Feb. 9). Can an effective laboratory (much less a factory) be managed without running water? Ask your local druggist or high school chemistry teacher.
It's all about priorities
According to Maureen Dowd this morning:
An upcoming article in The New Republic, contending that the president has not done enough, cites an American Association of Port Authorities estimate that it would cost $2 billion to make the ports secure. But since Sept. 11, only $318 million has been spent. Although Mr. Bush himself endorsed a program to screen cargo at foreign ports, his budget provides no money for it.
On the other hand, we've got $32 billion to bribe Turkey. ..
* * *
Dowd also notes:
George Bush has always mocked Washington's dependence on focus groups. Only last week, he derided mass European protests against the war, saying listening to the marchers would be like relying on focus groups to set foreign policy. (Millions of people marching in the streets of world capitals is not a sampling of opinion; it is opinion.)
I meant to link to it sooner, but August was on top of this little irony last week.
Movable Type 2.63
Dykes to Watch Out For
Get Your War On
Jack Chick Publications
Mikhaela Blake Reid
Tom the Dancing Bug
Too Much Coffee Man
Zippy the Pinhead
Other Friends of TMW