Sunday, August 29, 2004

Iran-Contra Part Deu

Everyone knows its cool to be retro and party like its 1986. I'm over here with my Voltron, you're over there imagining you're that chick in Flashdance, and those guys in the Pentagon are breaking laws and making back-ally deals that involve everyone's favorite theocractic Middle Eastern state. No not Afganistan, Iran! Now, maybe no one noticed when all those guys from Iran-Contra were given their jobs back. Hey thats cool, who read the news anyway? As long as they don't fuck things up too bad yeah?

Oops.

This is one of those conspiracies that makes people believe the crazy ones. I don't quite get it all yet, but it all involves the neoconservatives in the pentagon, the war in Iraq, Iran, Isreal, Italian foreign intelligence service (wtf?), the forged documents that were used as evidence to show Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger, and the outing of a CIA agent. Anyway, go read this article from the Washingtom Monthly, and here from mid-east expert Juan Cole.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Evenhanded Backhand

Some people are upset that Matt Yeglesias got angry, said some very harsh objectively true statements, and gave out a call to arms.

First of all Matt is a very well tempered blogger, and it is one of his goals to remain so. He is reasoned and civil to the point of agrivation. Secondly, everyone has their breaking point, and Matts just happened to be now. It took a lot to get there. What was it that broke the cammels back? A coordinated campain of black propaganda designed to undermine the candidate he's chosen to support fronted by a group of liars and run the presidents campain staff. This is something to be upset about. Even people on the other side can be upset about this, expecially veterans like John McCain. This is NOT normal politics. It shouldn't be like this.

The things Matt said about Bush are true. He has promoted criminals to high government positions; people involved in Iran-Contra. He obviously supports the adds. If McCain can come out and condemn them so can Bush. The truth hurts. Guess what Republicans, your candidate is an asshole. He's been a terrible president, and this rediculous ad campain is coming back to bite him in the ass. Listen. Can you hear? I'm playing the worlds smallest violin for you.

Lets get to the heart of the matter: conservative are upset that Bush isn't getting away with his usual Bullshit. Bemoaning the blowback as overly partisan and undemocratic is the icing on your double decker turd cake that's been baking for the last ten years. The reason boat has sailed. DLC Democrats were so bipartisan some of them were Republicans. But the Republicans shut them out. They berated and bullied and yelled on TV, radio, and in print. Now you want reason in the face of growing Democratic power? Tough shit. We don't have to listen anymore. As they've made perfectly clear time and time again the ruling party and administration don't deserve to be in power. No amount of reasoned debate is going to change that.

Also I'd like to say that its a rediculous idea that just because someone doesn't want to debate or argue an obvious point they're somehow beyond all hope. Its unreasonable to argue everything. Only philosophers argue everything. The evidence on the swift boat guys is out, and paraded around in print. We don't need to debate anymore. Its done. I don't want to have to have a debate about the nature of gravity everytime I trip. It's O.K. to accept somethings a priori. It is now a proven fact that the swift boat dudes for bush are liars. Therefore, I don't have to debate their bullshit anymore. Bush put people - like Poindexter, and Abrams from Iran-Contra - into his government. Therefore he's given criminals high paying government jobs. Whining that liberals aren't being evenhanded enough is just insulting. Saying that is just going to make someone more angry.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Trying To Stay Regular

I want to start updating a lot more. I'm gonna post on something thats been worming away in my brain for the past few days later this afternoon. Also due is a review for The Village.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Like A Fucking rhino In A China Shop

The US is the fucking rhino. The Shrine of Ali Hussain is one big china cup full of boiling hot anger juice. There's shelling, and they're dropping bombs. BOMBS. I don't care if they're laser guided or placed gently on a target with little notes saying. "Sorry we're bombing your holy monument. <3 BFF US Army." No one is going to care once shit gets broken. Yeah the Sadrists are assholes for using the mosque as a fort. But we're doing exactly what they want. They WANT us to incinerate the place. No one is going to care who was there first or who started it. Or rather they will care. They'll be martyrs. People will be carying Sadr's portrait around the country while the hundreds of outraged Shiits with guns flood around them shoot things until they're not moving anymore. If Sadr is killed and/or the Mosque is damaged you might as well call in the choppers. There won't be anything to do except massacer everyone, and no one should even be thinking about planning that right now. But I'm sure we'll see a Headline "US Plans To Shoot on Site In Case of An Uprising." The accompaning story will reveal a memo from the Justice Department to the Pentagon on the legalities of killing large amounts of people when they're really fucking mad at you. And now Iran is getting in on the act - well even more in on the act.

Allow me to switch into conspiracy mode for a moment. If Iran does get involved we could see an instintainious expantion of the war to include Iran. I am of the opionion that the neocons are crazy enough to do just about anything at this point. They're probably also really pissed about Iran feeding them disinformation through Chalabi. I think its safe to say that these guys can hold a grudge. And this only surfaced about 4 months ago. So on the off chance that something happens and there's an uprising and Iran interviens, I don't think the neocons will waste any oportunity to try and turn it around and push back. Hard. Not only will the troops have to hold their ground, but they'll have to advance into Iran. There's barely enough troops to maintain order in Bagdad. So it might come down to just bombing whatever the fuck we feel like, and if we happen to hit Iran's nuclear facilities, well shucks, we just got lucky. Oh and a draft asap. This is a god damn nightmare.

Postapalluza

Here in lies several threads that I need to vent on. Now. Before my brain tries to crawl out my nose and goes site-seeing in Central America. So what might have been 3 posts or so will be one. One very angry incoherent post full of spelling errors that I'm not going to correct.

  • Switf Boat Assholes
This is a bunch of guys who are pissed off that Kerry protested the war after he came back from killing a bunch of guys, getting shot at, and rescuing his crew mates. But you wouldn't know that from their ad. The exact phrasology they're using is gramaticly true. They're calling Kerry disshonest and unfit, because of all the horribley true things he said about what was going on in Vietnam when he came back and joined the anti war movement. But thats not the litteral truth one percives on a cold screening of the ad. It sounds like they're questioning Kerry's actual record. It sounds like they're calling him a coward and a liar for saying he killed a bunch of guys, got shot at, and saved some of his crew mates.

Oh is THAT how it came across? Goodness... It was an accident! I swear!

Its all bullshit. All of it. And they deserve every amount of derision you can muster up (if you're not completely exausted already). They couldn't come out and be forethright with their actual grievence, because well, people would start throwing things at them. I mean lets face it, Veitnam was fucked up. We killed a LOT of Vietnamese. Sometimes for no particular reason. We generally call things of that nature "War Crimes". And the fact that Kerry could then come back and join the antiwar movement and help bring the war crimes being comitted in Vietnam into the spotlight is yet another feather in his cap. The Swift Boat Verterans don't deserve to be involved in the political conversation. No more time needs to be wasted wading through this bullshit. It comes down to this: Kerry released all his records. They've been through the bullshit factory already and came out clean. If you have a problem with Kerry's record you need to take it up with the Navy. Medals aren't tootsie rolls. They are not handed out to fat kids dress like pirates or spiderman for festive treats on the hollidays. When say Kerry is lying about his record, what your really saying is the Navy is lying. Or your saying I don't like his politics and am trying fling around as much poo as I can and hope it sticks to something. Pick one. I don't care which.

  • Bush and His Record
This one is a little shorter. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with what Bush did to avoid service for Vietnam. Lots of people avoided service. My Dad went on a similar corse. He knew his number was going to get him drafted, he was in school, and he was very keen on not going to Nam. If he had gone, I might not be here. But you never know. Anyway, he joined the army and signed up to be an MP. And it all worked out. He got to travel around the country a bit, served his time, got money for school, got out when his time was up, and went back to school. But he did NOT want to go. He seriously considered going to Canada to avoid being drafted. So no problem. You don't have to be a big military hero to be president. In fact its one of the good things about the office. But he won't admit that what he did was skipping out of combat. He trys to play off being in the Texas AIR national guard is all manly and heroic. Charlie don't serf George. So not only is he bullshiting his way out of service, but he's also bullshiting about how honorable and true his band of brothers moment really was. All he had to do was say, "Vietnam was fucked up. I didn't want to go and die for no reason." I can accept that. If he wanted to be couragous AND not serve he should have been with his fellow students burning his draft card. But he didn't do that either. He was playing the system trying to weasle out of the duty he was assigned after being bumped to the front of a long waiting list. He was staying in a rented house with his buddies and makng sure the commies weren't tampering with the beer suply. So Bush no longer gets a pass on Vietnam. Kerry: Served in combat and did the right thing after he came back by supporting the antiwar movement. Bush: Assigned to Texas Air National Guard, specificly stated that he did NOT want to go into combat, and then hoodwinked the system and went off to spend the next few decades doing nothing in particular.

  • Stem Cells and religion.
I'm an athiest. I don't believe in souls, or the divine, or anything like that. So imagine this debate from my perspective. You're trying to tell me that a microscopic cluster of cells should not be destroyed for research because its the same thing as killing a person. So instead we should destroy it or let it degenerate naturally since its never going to be inceminated and brought to term. Thats what this debate sounds like. This is what it sounds like to a great many scientists who want to do research into a very promicing field but can't because they can't get money from the govermnet to experiment on something thats going to be destroyed anyway. Idiots. Explain this little story to people dying of Althimerz. Oh wait, they can't understand you because they're DYING OF ALTHIMERZ WHILE THEIR FUCKING BRAIN ROTS AWAY. IDIOTS. Explain this little story to the embryo. Oh WAIT. Its a fucking cell cluster that's too small to see with the naked eye thats going to be destroyed anyway thanks for asking. And even if these exess embryos weren't going to be destroyed my tune wouldn't change. Ask the guy who needs a new liver if he'd rather have a new liver or no liver but be secure in the knowledge that by golly no microscopic globule people will have been aniallated out of existence. Instead they'll be frozen for all eternity or maybe disintagrate out of existence natrually. If you want to argue that humanity begins at fertilaziation you've got some serious issues to work out. Lets take this to its logical conclution. All abortions would be out of the question and Illegal. Miscariges could become murder investigations. Did a pregnent mothers intentional physical activity cause the death of the embryo featus? Did someone's assault result in a miscarrage? Suits and charges could be brought on behalf of the featus/embryo. The idea that a woman's body is her own is mutually exclusive. Absolutely insane. Oh yeah and no artificial incemination. We shouldn't be creating all those extra embryos in the first place right? 5 babies at one time? (WTF is wrong with you?) And people think my conception of humanity is nihalistic. If a cluster of cells is human where is value in that? A cell has no sense of self. It don't feal hate, courage, or love. Cells can't learn and have no memory. A cell can't crawl, walk, babble, speak, or write a novel. A cell can't build a bridge, or create art, or formulate mathamatics. All these things are what humans do. Even children. Even babys. But not cells. Nor not month old featuses. Religion is going to loose this debate. Even without government funding reaserch is being done. And outside the US lots more research is being done. When the breakthroughs are made people are going to find out that they like having their Diabetis cured. They'll enjoy the new limbs and organs. Babies, children, and adults who have lives and friends and families are going to care more for each other than a cell that could someday possibly be - given enough time, money, technology and energy - what they are at this moment. Shit if an embryo is a human being then a block of marble is a sculpture. A Paper cup is a small soda. I know beliefs can be strong but your religion has no place in the physical world.

All this brings me to my next screed. Religion needs to change in the face of science. NOT the other way around. If Albert Einstein says mas can be converted into energy and that gravity warps space and time you better fucking believe it. Letting religion dictate what science can do or say puts the whole idea of science on its head. If you don't think general reletivity or quantum mechanics are common sense or pass the laugh test why bother with science at all? Well there is all that medical technology, and electricity and what not. That stuff is ok I suppose.
Religion still has not fully adjusted to being relegated to the roll of strict moralistic idealism. Wayback when there was no science religion got the whole spectrum. It dictated everything. It told you not only how to act, but how to see the world and how it worked. It was up to the people who created the great beliefs to explain the world to their adherents. If you start with a small group of core assertions about the world its easy to make shit up from there. More chairitably, there was no other way to explain our experiences. So rather than building a system around something they knew nothing about, they created meaning, purpose, and cause in their minds. But then science came along and started making all these claims that made no sense at all through the eyes of religion. Some claims were outright contradiction. So religion pushed back with stronger dogma. But dogma can't make an apple fall to the ground. Science makes emperical claims that describe what we actually experice. Religion can assert anything it wants to but has NO ability to make any kind of emperical claim. Religion begins in the mind and thats where it belongs. No doubt after tens of thousands of years it might be a hard habit to break. But its something that needs to happen and the quicker the better. I hate flossing creationists out of my board of education.


Uhng So incoherent... I need a nap.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

This Weeks Edition Of: What The Fuck Is Wrong With You

From Steve Gilliard:

Get this: the Green Card

Reality show holds up green card as bait

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Aug. 5, 2004 | Los Angeles -- A Spanish-language reality TV show is offering contestants an unusual prize: the services of immigration lawyers to guide them toward a green card for U.S. residency.

“Gana la Verde” -- “Win the Green” -- began airing daily last month on KRCA-TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles. Owner Liberman Broadcasting also airs the program on its San Diego, Houston and Dallas stations.

“People say that our show is like 'Fear Factor,' but it's different because the climax of the show involves working,” production manager Adrian Vallarino told the Los Angeles Times.

The show's winner receives a year's worth of help from attorneys to expedite the residency process, the Times reported Wednesday. There's no guarantee of a green card.

Contestants have performed stunts including gulping down live tequila worms, trapping a butter-drenched pig and jumping between two speeding 18-wheelers.

A U.S. immigration official warned against undue optimism for contestants.

“I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on the premise of a television show except to say that they are holding out false hope to people,” said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, adding that it “sounds very much like exploitation.”

The show has consistently reached an average of 1 million Hispanic households and last week was No. 2 among 18-to-49-year-old Hispanic viewers.

What the fuck? No seriously, some asshole in LA thought this up?

I mean, it's like handing out coupons to Chuck E. Cheese in Darfur. How cruel can you be? Let's not only exploit the Mexicans, let's taunt the fuckers as well.

Fear Factor is just a bunch of actors, this is cruel as hell and disgusting on so many levels. People run across the desert to get here and people think this is a joke to air on TV? Shit. Why not bring back bear baiting? It's about as kind. Oh right, PETA would object. Mexicans being humiliated on TV for shits and grins gets no notice, but if you bait a bear, you'd go to jail.

That is really fucking twisted. I think TV producers are the slimiest people in Hollywood - if not the entire Milky Way galaxy. Except maybe the slime creatures of Tau Ceti three, but they're, you know, actually made of slime. So they get handicap points. They should be sued for extortion. Why not make a documentary show about the horrors of trying to make it through the immigration Services bureaucracy? Have the studio provide lawyers to families the producers pick for each episode. They might actually help people, and enact some change. Shit, I'd watch that. But I guess its not on the level of the boiled cabbages that serve as Fear Factor's audience. I fucking HATE Joe Rogan. Fuck you and you're lame ass shows.

Multiple Movie Extravaganza! (Spiderman 2, Napoleon Dynamite)

Well its been a great couple weeks a the theaters; for me at least. The faithful 'ol indie theater in my area has rounded up a great bunch of old flicks from the 80s. These are flicks I'd never thought I'd ever see on a big screen. Its been awesome. AND, I've squeezed in Spiderman 2 and Napoleon Dynamite. So... Lets get it on!

Spiderman 2

I thought the first Spiderman movie gave Tim Burton's Batman a serious run for its money. And I thought Spiderman 2 was even better than the first. So in my mind, Spiderman 2 is the Best. Superhero. Movie. Ever. Before I really get started let me say: I really like the Spiderman mythos; I was Spiderman for Halloween like 3 years in a row; and I think Kirsten Dunst is the bee's knees. So, grain of salt and all that.

The film is extremely well served by the return of the major talents Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Elfman, and Sam Raimi. This great set of talent is joined by one of my favorite authors Michael Chambon. With they're powers combined, they form Captain Planet. I mean Spiderman 2. If you're at all familiar with Chambon's work, you can feel his presence adding a much needed dramatic weight to the universally familiar superhero story. About 70% - 80% of the movie is focused on relationships and character. Not only in the story but in the placement of the camera. Huge sweeping shots are reserved exclusively for following Spiderman's aerial gymnastics through the city and in some spectacular special shots. It works great; keeping us focused on the characters and their reactions. It also has the pleasant effect of getting your adrenaline going during the action sequences.

Speaking of action, there' s plenty, but concentrated in a handful of extremely intense scenes. CGI integration is much better than last time around and not nearly as distracting. Raimi really works his real and CGI cameras to propel movement on the screen. The film has his unique style stamped all over it. There's one scene in particular that I love where he throws his fans a really meaty bone. It comes in the form of a shot for shot lift from one of his older cult movies, Evil Dead 2. There's all sorts of other goodies liberally scattered through out the movie. Watch for cameos from Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, and - my favorite of the film - Hal Sparks. Genius. See it!

Napoleon Dynamite

This movie is really... REALLY fucking funny. You know those movies people always quote at parties? This is one of those movies. Its infinitely imitateable. Jon Herder seriously deserves an honorary Oscar nomination. At least. Napoleon is the kind of kid who even uncool kids could rag on. The lowest of the low. The kid who tells you he went wolverine hunting with his uncle. The kind of kid who is SO annoying and SO clueless you're always hearing them say the dumbest thing you've ever heard. But you end up empathizing with him. Its crazy.

The brothers Hess have created a very detailed very quirky world for their film. It doesn't really hit you at first, but you'd have a really tough time placing this movie... in time. As far as I can tell the only modern references are a Backstreet Boys song and the music on a tape Napoleon receives later in the film. Before that its deliberately and wonderfully vague. Even the stuff about computers is questionable. Chat rooms have been around for a long time. And look at that big beige box he uses. There's plenty of style to go around, and I hope the Hess brothers go on to make other great movies after this.

Napoleon's friends and family also deserve a mention because their essential to what turns into a very triumphant story. Napoleon makes one of his only friends Pedro in the beginning of the film. They have a lot in common even though Napoleon is white and Pedro is Hispanic. There's also Napoleon's brother, Kip, who's 31, lives at home with their grandmother, and spends most of his time in chat rooms with his online honey, LaFawnduh. They're all ridiculous awkward and inept. Even Napoleon's Uncle who shows up to look after the house when Grandma is hospitalized after an ATV accident in the dessert. In fact everyone in the film is flawed in some way. Even the cool kids at Napoleon's high school. I think that’s where the film gets a lot of its power. It ditches the traditional underdog formula and deadpans everything to a ridiculous degree. So when the moment of truth finally comes it actually takes you by surprise. So in the end even losers win. And the cool kids are left in the dust because they're so cool, exclusive, and alone.