Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pointing out isn't hoping

A sub-meme of the whole "liberals caused the Iraqi problems" is the whole idea that pointing out problems with stuff in Iraq is indicative of wanting the U.S. to lose. The argument seems to be that by saying stuff is wrong we're hoping we're correct and therefore want to fail.

Never have understood this argument. I once used this example in an e-mail group:

Say you're about to go on a long car trip with a driver, oh, let's call him Beorge Gush. As you get into the car, you notice it's almost out of gas.

"Um, Beorge, we need gas."

"Quiet, I know what I'm doing!"

The trip starts. You happen to glance at the map and see that the course marked out takes you well out of the way and through a desert.

"Beorge, I think we should go another way."

"Don't interrupt me!"

So, twenty minutes later, you run out of gas in the middle of the desert. Would it then be fair for Beorge to turn to you and say, "This is YOUR fault!"?

Another example. I had a birthday last week, which turned out to be the only REALLY good day that week, due to insomnia and various other problems. Thanks to my loving wife, the birthday was excellent - so excellent that I completely forgot we were having visitors the next day and I needed to do a lot of cleaning up. The house wouldn't have been condemned by the Health Department, but still and all.

So the next morning, as the realization hits me early, I'm running along doing my best ten-minutes-per-room-straighten-up-and-make-do cleaning treatment. One of my cats manages to get under my foot (said cat, Shadow, wishes it to be known that I interfered with his important duty of twining about my ankles) and I trip, flying forearm first into a wall corner hard. I honest to God thought I had broken my arm. I had a small strawberry mark but immense swelling and tenderness in it. My wife, my family, and several things told me that yes, I could have a broken arm - hairline fracture - and urge me to go to the doctor. I haven't yet, for several reasons ranging from I hate drugs in general to I don't want to be embarrassed by going them and having nothing more than, in medical terms, a boo-boo.

My wife still thinks I may have broken my arm, and still tells me I should still go to the doctor. Does this mean she really wants my arm to be broken? Do I need to worry that she'll decide she really wants to be right and will take a hammer to my arm to BE right?

I Know Who Did It!


"...the clear causes of our failures"

by Satire News Service

Following the revelation on some blogs that critics of the Iraq War led to its many problems, several other companies have come forth and announced who was to blame for several of their errors and mistakes.

The TV networks were first to announce their recent unveiling. ABC, whose much-hyped "Emily's Reasons Why Not" was hurriedly yanked from the schedule this year, now says the problem wasn't the plot, acting, script and general lack of humor. The true problem was TvLAd5542' s (real name unknown) posting on a website, who wrote "Emily's Reasons Why Not is teh suxxor!"

Joseph Difner-Apeoat, spokesman for ABC, said "Clearly this little piece of opinion caused the massive reaction against 'Emily'. It could have succeeded but for this one violent attack on it."

NBC, whose attempted Americanization of "Coupling" was one of the network's biggest embarrassment a few years ago, has discovered that the show itself was excellent and should have been a success, 'except for the vile slanders of one David Jimson of New York, who was overheard to say in a Starbucks, "I dunno, I thought the British one was better." I ask you, what could we have done against such power?" pleaded Robert N. M. Yfault.

CBS was quick to add its own findings that several of its shows should still have been on the schedule but for the acts of people such as Janine Carlson, Luvs2WatchTV, and Ernie Rock, all of whom uttered disparaging opinions of their shows at one time or another.

The movie King Kong was also the victim of a vicious attack upon it, causing it to underperform at the box office. "We won't mention names," said a Universal spokesman, "but we have affidavits stating several people came out of the premiere saying this movie 'wasn't what I expected' and 'seemed too effect laden'. Once that rumor spread, all the marketing power we had was helpless."

Businesses outside the entertainment industry also pointed out they had found several villains responsible for some of the biggest problems. Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm that was disbanded over obstruction and enabling during the Enron scandal, now says the problem wasn't the accounting tricks, the collusion to lie and misstate profits, the paid auditors nor the actual illegality of many of their acts. All the blame rests with one Xavier Cranston, mail room employee, who would often vent about the lousy job Arthur Anderson was doing about fixing the men's room. "Once he began spreading his poison and bile, the fall was only a matter of time," read Paul Dodger.

Enron itself made a motion to call janitor Eddie "Bud" Creeger to the stand to testify of his often negative comments about the company, perhaps to show another reason for the downfall. "We have a few others we can call as well...this negativity was widespread!" says their attorney.

So it's MY Fault?

From Balloon Juice, we get a link that exposes which people are accused of causing problems in Iraq. You might have guessed...it's me.

Yes, my questioning of Bush's actions in post-war Iraq has caused the mission to be in danger of failing. It was inevitable...after all, when I questioned the pre-war intelligence pre-war, I was already sowing the seeds of disaster. They just bloomed as I pointed out mistakes Bush and co. made/were making. The flowers of defeat are so powerful, the aroma has enticed and swayed people like Bill Kristol and William F. Buckley. And you thought burnt garlic permeated!

It's amazing how much power I have. I mean, the lack of body armor for soldiers, the now clear lack of postwar planning by the Bush Admin, Rumsfeld's refusal to bring in more troops when asked, the Abu Gharib scandal and its impact on our image in Iraq, the Sunni-Shiite violence and death squads and all that...

...and it all comes down to me. I did it.

So if you're reading this now, and want to blast me for my right opinions and thoughts on the war, just remember how powerful I am - and be careful.

(Edited to show that Balloon Juice isn't doing the accusing)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

David Irving

You may have already heard about David Irving's case. The synopsis is that David Irving is a Holocaust denier - he believes/believed Jews were not killed in the usual claimed amount during World War 2; claimed that the gas chambers at Auschwitz were built after the war, by the Poles, to match the "fantasies" of survivors; that Hitler never had any idea at all about the Holocaust...pretty much the rants of the unshaven man in the subway handing out blurry Xeroxes on some theory spoken by a guy in a nice suit. (Change guy to gal and you get Ann Coulter, by the way.)

Okay, so Irving's got issues. Should he be put in jail for his opinions?

In Austria, the answer is yes.

Let's be frank up front - I have little sympathy for this man and less respect for his ideas. He's a loathsome little screecher. Perhaps the best argument I have for belittling him is when he was called a Holocaust denier in print, in a book by Deborah Lipstadt, he sued her for libel...in Britain. This is because the libel laws in Britain mean the accused must prove what they said was correct, which is a vast difference from the laws in America, where the burden of proof rests with the accuser to show the statements are incorrect. James Frey would be dead over there, if someone chose to sue him for his fictional biography. (Of course, Frey would be dead over here as well, but at least over there he may be able to get some sightseeing in.)

So Irving sues Lipstadt, which means Lipstadt not only has to prove that Irving denies the Holocaust, which is pretty evident, she has to show that he's wrong in doing so. And Justice Grey finds for Lipstadt, calling Irving "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist". You can call that a rather big loss.

He's scum.

But he's been arrested for comments he made in 1989, under a law passed in 1992, if the AP story is correct. I mean, beyond the whole concept of the freedom of speech ideal, there's the disquieting thought of being nailed for something you did that was completely legal at the time. (There is a good chance there was a law in 1989 making denying the Holocaust illegal; it's a fairly prevalent law in Europe...but he pled guilty to a law passed since his "crime", which seems odd.) He's been sentenced to three years in jail for having an opinion in public. He now says he believes the Holocaust DID happen (way to hold to ideals there!) and that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz. It's like when people over here in the United States find God after they're convicted; he just happened to find an open history book.

As Glenn Greenwald says, this decision has been met with universal condemnation over in America, leading him to posit there are values that all Americans agree on. I do think that's true mostly - most people who condemn idiots like Fred Phelps don't want him in jail for his beliefs, just out of their particular community. I myself go with the saying "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" - tell people the facts about both sides of an argument (and not in the pathetic "balanced" style - don't parrot one group's completely wrong statements as gospel truth) and let everyone see where the evidence lies.

Of course, you DO have the people who say that disagreement with Bush's policies are treason and should be responded to with imprisonment, a la Michael Reagan's ""Howard Dean should be arrested and hung for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" On a lesser note is the idea that people who disagree with Bush are liberal - people like Andrew Sullivan and, recently, William Buckley. So imprisonment, nah...but condemnation for not being lockstep is fine.

Not nearly as bad as imprisonment and not nearly what it should be.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Once More Into the Retch, Dear Friends!

Yes, I know, it's a Hell of a way to start a Saturday, but I thought I'd link to another Ann Assault. Here's the "best" line from it:

"Or is NATO -- like the conventions of civilized behavior, personal hygiene and grooming -- inapplicable when Muslims are involved?"

This is the person many conservatives hold as a foremost thinker, making an insult that is basically a schoolyard taunt by the kid who aced an "Increase Your Word Power" quiz and thinks he's a genius. I mean, even her diehard fans can't think this morsel contains any wit, "biting insight" (a usual defense of people who like her, breaking down to 'threat/slur/rumor/death wish/hyperbole/lie spoken in big words'), or anything close to debate. It's an insult, plain and simple, and it's uttered by a woman held in esteem as a great thinker, a woman invited to conservatives conferences as the keynote speaker, a woman who is, in short, a leading figure in conservative thought nowadays. It's like the Democrats inviting Louis Farrakhan to come on up at the DNC meeting and speak some words of wisdom about the Jews.

But on the plus side, she got to take an easy shot at an easy target. Good job, Ann.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Image, victim in bad shape

from Satire News Service

Vice President Cheney, while on a quail hunting trip, accidentally shot his image and the ratings of the Republican Party in the face, as well as Harry Whittington, a major donor to the Republican party. Within seconds after the misfire, image consultants and Karl Rove were notified and raced to the scene, almost beating the ambulance and medical personnel. The prognosis was not good.

"This will be a tough thing for him to get over," said Harley Gamie. "The damage looked bad from here, and we will have to exert all our efforts just to keep the situation stable. The slightest slip and things go will downhill and take a turn for the worse, inflicting possibly fatal damage. Oh, how's Harry, by the way?"

The White House was notified of the incident soon after the image consultants were and there was a conference on how to handle this. The end result was, as one person in the White House put it, "Cheney, YOU shot the guy, YOU tell people about it." Cheney, famed far and wide for his openness and non-secrecy, immediately let the word be known that nothing really important had happened.

Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the property and a witness to the image incident, was designated as the liaison to the press on Sunday, a mere eighteen hours or so after the possible accidental manslaughter. In a totally unrelated coincidence, Karl Rove had been on the phone with her ninety minutes after the shooting "exchanging biscuit recipes," claims Armstrong. So far, Mrs. Armstrong has been just as forthcoming and open as the Vice President has been, mainly saying, "Hmmm?"

The Republican party seemed at a loss on how to handle this emergency. At first, they said it was Mr. Whittington's fault for not calling attention to himself and going on a hunt with a sixty-seven year old man in the first place. They also hinted that perhaps, in spite of all the donation to the Republican Party, Mr. Whittington may have been influenced by Democrats to get himself shot for a cheap and easy political point. "It would be just like them," said an anonymous press release.

This policy of blame the victim, seen to great effect in the Katrina aftermath, surprisingly failed to work here and left the consultants scrambling for a new escape hole. One idea was to gather people who had been shot by similar ammo and shotguns to show that the injuries weren't really that big a deal. Borrowing from the "snowflake babies" label, this group would have been called the "Pellet People". The idea was dropped when no one stepped forward to join the club.

The NRA offered its own campaign, built around the idea that, hey, these things happen. This motion was tabled.

Another idea was to retroactively make the terror alert for Mrs. Armstrong's ranch "red" for that hunting weekend and saying that the Vice President thought he saw a terrorist. This plan met with great enthusiasm until it was realized that the White House press corps, even today, had a better than fifty percent chance of catching this lie.

It was finally decided that in return for Mr. Whittington taking the blame for the whole incident, President Bush would push through a tax break just for him.

Democrats were quick to leap on this incident, claiming if THEY had shot someone accidentally, they would have called the ambulance first and their health care plan would have taken care of the bill, but they wouldn't have shot anyone since their gun control laws would have stopped such a tragedy.

In related news, the quail Mr. Cheney missed in this incident has been placed on the Terrorist Watch List. He is considered feathered and dangerous, and is probably Muslim, according to eyewitness descriptions.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blogroll Note

Chris C. Mooney's blog has been merged into Science Blogs for a little while now, and I just updated it over there. He hasn't been dropped.

Ann Here We Go Again!

Ann Coulter, leader of the race to the bottom in debate, has moved a few more lengths out in front. She's going down in history as the woman who could sprint all the time in this marathon of lowering standards.

Let's not waste time throwing pies of logic at her (the ony kind of pies that should be thrown) nor redefine futility by pointing out that if any on the left had said these things my e-mailbox would have been flooded by condemnations and calls for banning (to their credit, some of the rightward blogs have been busy condemning Ann as well - follow the above link to Donkelphant, and he'll link you to Right Wing Nuthouse's collection of links - however, more below) and since it's Sunday and I feel like crap and didn't sleep well last night, I don't want to once again try to move the ocean with a spoon and say that her comments add nothing to any form of debate besides a razor-spitting raspberry.

Let's just skip all that. Those who find her witty, intelligent, and reasoned won't believe any argument I could make.

Let's explore WHY she has so many followers. In the above mentioned Right Wing Nuthouse link, you will see that there is the inevitable comparison to left wing comments, which is fair to some degree, although I disagree with the idea that comments at the Coretta Scott King funeral are the same thing. (At most, you've got a case of wrong place and time, and I think Rev. Lowery's comments were at the wrong place and time. Jimmy Carter's I don't have a problem with for two reasons - the King's WERE wiretapped, and everyone should know both parties did it. Just because history may shine a mirror into current acts, it doesn't magically wipe out the people at fault in the beginning. But to say the comments at the funereal are similar to Ann's is saying that arguing in a church is the equivalent to making death threats and using the term "ragheads" in a public forum as a joke.) But look at the comments and you see people defending her. Look at the other blogs listed, and you will find people defending her comments there as well.

Some defend them as her right to talk. No problem there. I've never said she should be banned - I've often said I wish she could tell the truth and not go so over the top, but never ban her.

Some people say the left is just as bad, so what's the problem? The problem, shared on both sides, is that if you condemn egregious remarks on the other side, but not the same style of remarks on your side, you're a hypocrite and should be judged as unworthy for debate. You have no standards, you only have sides. However, in today's world, you're more likely to get a radio or TV gig and get a rabid fan base.

And some people say that Ann can make these remarks because she's right. Here's the real issue.

I'm reading several books on arguing and logic, and one of them - "Truth, Knowledge or Just Plain Bull", by Bernard M. Patten - states it clearly in the introduction. "The Simple Truth Ain't Simple". Later on, it gets even more plain:

"Because there are no simple answers, a simple answer is likely to be wrong."

But that's not what people want to hear nowadays. Many people would rather swallow what the leaders of one party say and accept it as truth handed down from Sinai. And the leaders, especially the ones currently in office, make the "truth" even easier to swallow by saying, "It's our side and the wrong side". Why think about it? It's easy! We're right and they're wrong.

Ann does make it easy. There's no thought to much of her invective. It's all riffs on the major key of "They're wrong and evil" with some minor trills in the key of "Look at how much better we are". A simple tune, easy to whistle while you vote and hum while you look at blogs that agree with your side. People want it that way. Why struggle to understand something complex and deep when there's this ready made, easy bake answer over here, just waiting for you to turn off your brain.

And you know you're right, you can call the other side "ragheads" and rue never taking a shot at Bill Clinton. 'cause that's easy - they're wrong, and deserve any and all evil we can wish upon them.

And since they're evil and we're right, there's no need to actually listen to them or question our acts. No! Wanting it to be easy never means having to wonder about your side.

So, maybe Ann's appealing to the people out there who just don't want to wonder about things. And she's got a lot of followers.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

TH-th-th-th-th-th-that's NOT all folks!

As the riots over the Muhammad cartoons continue, we find out some more.

Andrew Sullivan give us a link that shows these cartoons causing more violence than Acme did to the Road Runner were printed in Egypt - a Muslim country - some time ago, and there were no riots nor protests then. This tells us that apparently not every single Muslim feels the need to throw rocks and light fires, in the much lighter way that not all Christians felt the need to protest "The Book of Daniel". It's only those who refuse to admit any other view than theirs has validity that get so offended. It also raises the interesting question of why U.S. papers, for the most part, are refusing to print these cartoons, given that they've printed other images offensive to some Christians without any qualms - remember that painting of Mary in elephant dung and Piss Christ? Fear of fanning the flames of anti-Americanism, fear of being accused of putting the troops in danger...there could be some good reasons, but I'd like to see the answers to see if they match the good reasons.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Drawing that Launched a Thousand Stones (and lit some matches)

My first thought on hearing all the condemnation, stoning and arson over the Muhammad cartoons was "Damn! We need to have more Muslim critics out there." Think of how many bad movies could be avoided if people set fire to the theaters and stoned the producers! And TV - no more Xerox copies of other hits! Music...well, let me just say this: K-Fed would be hiding. It reminds me of the Doonesbury cartoons back when the Ayatollah issued a death call for Salman Rushdie. "For Joan Collins, death!" "Oh, a PAN, Peter! That's going to hurt!"

But seriously...

The mark of a true zealot lies in the humor. If someone can laugh at anything said about the other side, and can't laugh at anything said about their side, this is the kind of person that ruins Thanksgiving dinners and is saying "And one MORE thing..." two days later. The Muslims currently going nuts over these cartoon fit in perfectly with the humor acid test. Here's some examples of cartoons the Arab press has printed, with no condemnation I heard of. So...extreme examples against the Jews are hunky dory, and the mostly innocuous ones from the Danes aren't? And there are some points in the cartoons - the one with Muhammad in a bomb turban should make someone think, "Is that the image people have of us?" rather than "Is that AN IMAGE?"

I understand that one of the edicts - supposedly - in Islam is no images of Muhammad can be made, because that edges close to idolatry. I've heard similar arguments from some fundamentalists over here as well. I can understand that edict, and I have no problems with other people following this law. (Assuming it IS a law, since Islam seems to have more lawmakers than all the governments of the world combined, and many of them issue contradictory statements. See killing innocents and suicide bombings.) But their laws aren't mine nor the Danes. If it offends you, buddy, don't look at it and don't buy the paper and tell your buddies they shouldn't either. But torching embassies? Can we say overkill? Well, for some of the people out there we can't - they don't see any.

Anyone notice that there's no protests in the United States over the cartoons? Here, we're used to satire and humor over religion, for all the efforts of some lockbrains to deem what they hold sacred be enshrined in law. But over there, where the religion is sacrosanct and legally mandated, not so much. Some Dominionists may want to keep that in mind...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

CIA Head Revealed!


"...the truth is so much more than the facts"

by Satire News Service

James Frey, the author who was caught falsifying much of a supposed autobiography, has come forward and admitted he was the actual head of the CIA at the time of so much wrong Iraqi information. "While I'm admitting my errors in one area, I may as well go ahead and admit this one as well," Mr. Frey said. "Get it all over with."

"I don't know how Bush knew of me, but soon after the 2000 election, he came and asked me if I would mind running the CIA behind the scenes. Since my fictional autobiographical book wasn't getting accepted, I figured, sure, why not? Maybe I'd write a James Bond kinda biography instead if my addicted one never got accepted.

"But man, it was dull, and Cheney and Bush kept on asking me about Iraq and all their WMDs. Hell, for a month I thought WMD were Whole Malt Drinks and I was waiting for someone to bring some peanuts. Then I did some reading about Hussien, and what a jerk, huh?

"So I figured, well, you know, everyone KNOWS he's a jerk and a bad man. That's the truth. That truth doesn't change. So I just, you know, adjusted the facts to make the truth more true. So I just said, sure, WMD's, lots of them. I even made up those unmanned drone things after watching Star Wars, 'cause, you know, that would be too cool!"

President Bush quickly reacted to Frey's admission, calling it "unlikely" and "probably not true", although Scott McCllelan quickly reminded the press that the President often didn't speak literally.

"I was read my right to be fashionable!"

from Satire News Service

In a surprising news conference yesterday, Cindy Sheehan appeared with the two Capitol Police who had arrested her before President Bush's State of the Union address, dressed in a stunning muted gray outfit topped with a splashy red handkerchief. To the crowd's surprise, she thanked Officers Ken Blackwell and Carson Kressley for 'changing my life' and 'making me see that a T-shirt is just T-sucky'.

"Oh, honey, you know we're there for you!" smiled Carson in reply, looking natty in a policeman's cap and casual suit. "Once we saw you in the balcony in that ratty T-shirt, we knew we had to bring you down!"

Cindy says that far from being abused and rushed away, Officers Blackwell and Kressley were simply doing their sworn duty as both Capitol and fashion police. "Once they had me away from the crowd they showed me several outfits made for the sorrowful mom and activist, ones that showed that while my son died, I can still look good."

Officer Blackwell chimed in, "No blood for oil and no rags for Sheehan!"

As it turned out, the problem had been as reported - Ms. Sheehan's T-shirt that read "2245 Dead - How Many More?" But 'the problem was NOT the message - it was the way the message was delivered!' explained Kressley. "She fell into the same trap most protestors do, thinking that sandals and cutoff shirts make them more honest or something. Honey, there was SUCH a lack of tzujing there! We just had to step in and make her see that, hey, important message or not, you can still look good."

"And I do," chimed in Ms. Sheehan, to applause and camera flashes. "Wait until you see my new line of clothes, NO POLYESTER FOR PROTEST."

The Capitol Police were following their most recent job description, taken when Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was flying high, which allows them to keep the peace and 'make it better looking'. "I won't say it's been easy," sighed Ken Blackwell. "The number of times we've had to tell Ted Stevens that even though he tries to grab all the pork he can doesn't mean he has to grab the first suit on the rack, or Ted Kennedy that gin and tonics just DON'T go with plaid ties..."

"But that's what they pay us for," he smiled.

President Bush issued a statement which read, "While I still cannot listen to Ms. Sheehan's views on the war, I will say now be able to look at her and her gorgeous outfits. I cannot accept the gay lifestyle, but I certainly can accept their advice!"

The officers had to rush off when their walkie-talkies - dressed out in a plaid pattern that set off their badges - received a call of "plaid and stripes alert!"