Last SOTU-related item, I promise. This one is Arianna Huffington’s excellent little write-up from Monday of what she was wishing to hear: the President calling on America to actually do something about our foreign-oil addiction. No such luck, of course.
Archive for January, 2003
A new teacher at a Florida high school has been fired for giving ninth-grade students a demonstration of proper condom use.
Michael Kinsley offers up his own analysis of dubya’s state of the union address, charging that it is morally unserious to offer up sincere-sounding arguments that fall apart upon close inspection.
E.J. Dionne, Jr., has a nice column that ran Monday, before the State of the Union Address, talking about Bush’s having hardened the lines of partisanship dividing him from Democrats, and questioning whether he would be able to pull off his increasingly ambitious foreign and domestic agendas over the next two years. Food for thought.
Michael T. Klare has written a nice analysis of the U.S. government’s real reasons for going to war with Iraq. Bottom line: The stated reasons are a joke. The real reason is a desire to maintain U.S. hegemony by controlling the flow of oil from the Middle East. You can disagree with Klare’s conclusion, but in that case you’re going to have to deal with his supporting arguments. Good luck.
Whenever I read Harper’s I always find myself vowing to get a subscription, and then I never do. I suck that way, I guess. In the meantime, though, the December Harper’s Index, brought to my attention by Janus, contains some fun factoids. Like: Number of times George W. Bush has said Osama bin Laden’s name in public since July 8 : 0. And how about this: Rank of Israel and Turkey among nations in violation of the largest number of U.N. Security Council resolutions : 1, 2. Sweet.
From the Village Voice’s Richard Goldstein comes this excellent write up of the railroading currently being inflicted on one of my personal heroes: Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman. This pisses me off bigtime.
So I didn’t play the Official State of the Union Address Drinking Game last night. In fact, I didn’t even bother Tivo-ing the thing so I could watch the commercials. But I did catch some soundbites on NPR this morning, including a nice example of him saying “nucular.” And in reading through the full text I was struck by a few key phrases that, to my mind, cut both ways. Like this one: “Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world.” Yeah, and in the 21st century a certain cadre of western oilmen has done the same thing. Also this part: “International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape… If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.” And what of the folks using these exact same techniques in places like Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan, to whom we’ve taken to turning over our prisoners, along with lists of questions we’d like answered? The world is a simple place for dubya, and that works in his favor when delivering speeches intended for the similarly simple-minded. But there remains that subtext of arrogance, the slap in the face for those who would question his authoritah. All in all, though, I have to give dubya credit: It was a well-done (which is to say, a frightening) performance. The Washington Post has a nice roundup of other views. Update: Foreign Policy in Focus has a really nice point-by-point clarification of the reality underlying many of dubya’s State of the Union statements.
It seems members from the Congolese Liberation Movement are seeking the strike fear in the opposition and have resorted to Cannabilism as a method of intimidating their opposition. Do you prefer your Pygmy with or without salt?
Seeking to shield itself from the negative public image it has garnered by profiting from the hacking, wheezing deaths of millions, cigarette giant Philip Morris changed its name yesterday. The new name, “Altria,” was chosen to convey the healthful, noble pursuit of the highest ideals possible, or, in other words, the exact opposite of what the company actually does. A new logo was also chosen, and appropriately, the firm went with a fuzzy, pixellated square reminiscent of nothing so much as the obscuring technology used in courtroom TV to conceal the identity of testifying criminals. Cool.
An interesting story, from Hiro, about an officer in the Israeli military who was censured and transferred to another assignment after he acknowledged having withheld intelligence information in order to prevent an attack that he said would have harmed innocent Palestinian civilians. Expect not to see this story on your local news if you live stateside.
In honor of our current Role Model in Chief’s time at Yale, we bring you the 2003 edition of the State of the Union Address Drinking Game. Thanks to Janus for the link.
Geov Parrish has written an interesting piece that looks at the growing anti-war movement in the U.S., and asks what effect, if any, it is likely to have on a political ruling class that has grown increasingly deaf to the will of the people, as distinct from the will of corporate and institutional campaign contributors. He tries to put a silver lining on the analysis, holding out the prospect that a sufficiently annoyed populace could convince Bush that war will be bad for his re-election (excuse me, I guess that would have to be election) prospects, but I think he’s just whistling past the graveyard. Today’s Democratic party, to my mind at least, is more part of the problem than part of the solution. This country is so overdue for real political reform.
My favorite columnist scored again this week, this time with a piece that started off making merry with the whole Rangel-calls-for-draft, conservatives-resist story, and went on to make what is actually quite a good suggestion: That we send draft-age kids overseas to see the world.
I missed this story the other day, but then saw a mention of it in the letters to the editor of my local paper: Richard Reeves talking about how dubya has personal issues with Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein. For me, this really is the scariest thing about our current not-quite-elected leader: the way he comes off as not-quite-whole, embittered by the lack of respect he receives, both abroad and at home, from people who see him as nothing more than the simpleton tool of corrupt manipulators, unable to understand, much less control, the forces around him.
Threatening to bring a touch of class to a body that has become characterized by base thuggery and entertainment crafted to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Jerry Springer has let on that he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Which is fine, I guess, but I’m only going to watch if I get to see Hillary Clinton in a hair-pulling catfight with Diane Feinstein.
It’s getting too damn easy… Bush gave an “economic stimulus” speech in the warehouse of a giant shipping company, surrounded by boxes, which you couldn’t see on TV, because of a giant canvas backdrop painted to look like stacks of boxes with “Made in he USA” stamped on them. Only a few actual boxes from the warehouse were visible, posed in front of the podium, with small splotches of brown tape used to cover the words “Made in China”.
You may have heard of a company named Clonaid, which claims to have cloned several babies (and that humans were orriginally created by Aliens … but that’s a seperate issue). Now a Florida judge in there has ordered the CEO of Clonaid to answer questions about the existence of the “Eve” (the first hypothetical cloned child) to determine if he should appoint a guardian to care for it — which is ammusing since there’s no evidence that Florida has any jurisdiction in the matter. Also amusing: the VP of Clonaid claims he is “unaware of how Clonaid is funded, whether it has a board of directors, if and where it holds any bank accounts, and where its cloning labs are located.“
As many of you allready know, there are a lot of stupid people out there — but I never realized just how bad the problem was. Staff members of “Yahoo Travel” say that lots of people are searching for vacation packages in places like “Mordor” and “Rivendell” — not realizing they are make believe.