Manufacturing and cherry-picking supporters.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20th, 2006 by Mike

I saw former New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer speak last night about his new book Overthrow, a eagle-eye's perspective on the last 14 regime changes carried out by the United States (he's written more in depth about the coups in Guatemala and Iran).

The Q&A was mostly about the situation in Iran. He mentioned having been in Los Angeles, with its very large population of American-Iranians, talking with several immigrants and dissidents friends. I saw him on CSPAN-2 Book TV a few weeks ago, but his composure was changed last night. He looked worried as he related this new story of a large number of prominent Iranian-Americans being pulled to Washington in the past week to talk with administration and military officials, who are trying to get a sense of the reaction on the street if the President were to bomb Iran. And for kickers, how would it play out in the coffeehouses if they were to, say, drop a small tactical bunker-busting nuclear weapon on Iran?

The funny part is how much the administration believes that (a) a free, democratic, Western-and-peace loving Iran is not going to want the nuclear bomb even though backwater neighbors like Pakistan have them and (b) that us bombing a couple hundred military and scientific station is going to cause a democratic revolution, and that people will rise up against the government, instead of, ya know, rallying around it, and (c) how much they want to find a dozen or so Iranian dissents to sign off on it for accountability reasons ("We've consult with people who know Iran and found that the people there crave getting nuked…"). I can only assume it's like an episode of Sopranos, with contracts going out to whomever is willing to go public with support ("you can take 3 points on the construction of Tehran, with 5 no-work jobs and 2 no-shows"); the lack of the government being able to find a patsy only highlights how poorly this is all going to go.

WHAT THE DUKE LACROSSE RAPE CASE HAS TAUGHT ME

Posted in Rants on April 19th, 2006 by Ed

1. The media are duty-bound to refer to the accuser solely as "the stripper" (Hey viewers! Hint! Hint! Get it? Strippers are whores. They want it, and even if they don't, they have it coming.) rather than as "alleged victim", "accuser", or even "woman."

2. The old rape apologist (rapologist?) stand-bys – Why didn't she call the police? (she did) Why didn't she go to the hospital? (she did) – are no longer relevant and have been replaced by a simple "Come on, the girl is a skank" and "There is no DNA evidence." The latter is apparently a reference to some caselaw with which I am not familiar stating that it isn't really rape if you don't blow a big load all over the victim. My mistake.

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"Your honor, my dad owns a dealership."

3. Lacrosse is not a haven for bratty trust-fund fratboys who would probably be playing polo or baccarat instead if such games were competitive at the collegiate level.

4. Any public prosecutor who presses sexual assault charges in an election year is simply pandering to special interest groups – in this case, liberal feminist activists (read: lesbos) and dirty negroes (who should be thankful they're even allowed to vote in North Carolina, right?).

5. If anyone needs sympathy and protection from the overbearing justice system that is stacked against them and their interests, it is wealthy college-aged white males in former Confederate states. The courts simply cannot be trusted to treat such a marginalized underclass fairly.

6. This blog really sums it up: "It looks like the team was the victim here." These fine young men (notwithstanding the one accused rapist, Colin Finnerty, being on probation at the time of the alleged rape for having beat up a gay guy) have been forced to cancel their lacrosse season. That is, without a doubt, the biggest injustice resulting from the actions of our legal system since the good name of Officer Stacy Koon was dragged through the mud.

Thank you, mainstream media.

Drop the hacky sack! Drop it now!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18th, 2006 by Mike

It's great when the internet adds little touches to my favorite television shows. I'm thinking of the slideshows presented by the DP and costume designer for "The Sopranos" on hbo.com. Over the weekend someone told me that the 24 webpage has the resume of all their major characters posted, filling you in on some of the character's backgrounds off-air.

Since it's off the air, they get to have some fun with it. I love that, according to his online resume, the current "24" President, the cowardly, insecure and power-hungry Charles Logan, was was former House member who became the CEO of "Western Energy Coal & Reserve" (winning the "Energy CEO of the Year"), and left his energy company to become the Vice-President. Wonderful.

Those biographies add little neat details – First Lady Martha Logan has an Standford art history degree and worked as a fundraiser, a path about as Congressional wife as you can get. And my favorite, god bless them, is that Jack Bauer studied at Berkeley. I can't describe how happy I am filling in the blanks of my previous visits with Bauer running around Telegraph Street foiling hippies' plans in real time ("Audrey listen! These are plans for a drum circle! a drum circle!" tick tock tick tock).

Three things about "24": (1) For an actor, to say one line and then have to repeat it louder and more angry must be difficult to do all the time. Considering that is more than half of Jack Bauer's lines I genuinely respect Kiefer as an actor. (2) Isn't it weird to consider that Kiefer is a brat packer? He was in Stand by Me, The Lost Boys and Young Guns. Statement: Jack Bauer versus the entirety of the 80s brat pack movie generation. Through in everyone; Anthony Michael Hall to Molly Ringwald to John Cusack. Bauer wins, hands down.

(3) As a friend pointed out, if Jack Bauer asks you to go somewhere with him, don't go. He does just fine by himself, while it's about 99% likely you are going to die (if only so they don't have to write you into the next episode).

Help from beyond the grave.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14th, 2006 by Mike

As Edward is locked in a room right now trying to finish his qualifying exams, I offer up this entry and bandwidth as a prayer to the Big Baby Jesus (aka Ol' Dirty Bastard) watching over us from the next world, to come and grant his good wishes on Ed.

Observe a moment of silence as you watch Ol' Dirty Bastard crash the Grammy awards:

The more you watch that, the more the Dirt Dog will guide Ed's political science knowledge from beyond the grave. Feel free to watch other things on youtube related to ODB, including him cashing welfare checks on MTV or the classic Got Your Money video.

On a related note, the new Ghostface Killah album, "Fishscale", is even better than the hype. Seriously, go out and find it. It may even be better than Liquid Swords as the best (non-ODB) solo Wu-Tang effort.

The money will roll right in.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13th, 2006 by Mike

If you've ever wanted to see why The New Republic can't even give away their magazine to young people (circulation down 40% in the past four years), watch the assumptions at play in this critical article about Howard Dean:

Up until recently, the DNC was the last place you'd expect to find such amateurism [at big donor money raising]. Dean's immediate predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, learned his craft from legendary House Democratic moneyman Tony Coelho in the 1980s, then went on to become "the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe," as Al Gore has claimed. McAuliffe once grappled with a 280-pound gator to seal a contribution from a Florida Indian tribe; he has passed many a "three-brunch, three-lunch day," as The Washington Post has put it, frolicking among donors. Not surprisingly, McAuliffe believed his job as DNC chairman consisted mainly of one responsibility: stockpiling money for the upcoming presidential election. And he was fabulously successful at it. In 2004 alone, McAuliffe raised roughly $350 million, helping the DNC out-raise its GOP counterpart for the first time ever…

…A big part of the problem is Dean himself. Unlike McAuliffe, Dean had little entrĂ©e into the world of big-time Democratic donors when he took over as chairman; most of the money he had raised for his presidential campaign had come from small, online contributions. Culturally, too, Dean remains the antithesis of a Washington eminence. He still resides in Vermont, and, unlike McAuliffe, who owns a home in McLean, Virginia, Dean stays at a hotel during the night or two a week he's in town. You could stake out powerbroker haunts like the Capital Grille or the Caucus Room for weeks before ever seeing him.

Can you listen to the reporter's glee with how capable the DNC is at keeping the donations running in? Alligator wrestling! Wow, look – Democrats can grab money from Indian tribes too!

Evidently the New Republic magazine is the only one left happy about the fact that Bob Shrum gets to be a gazillionaire while losing the hand-me election in 2000 and running the Vietnam culture wars in 2004. The period in which the Clinton insider crowd was "fabulously successful" at raising money was the same period in which they lost control of two, and soon to be three, branches of the government. And there are plenty of places online willing to call bullshit on this crop of democratic insiders running the party into iceberg after iceberg (next up, the "triangulation" of the privacy rights of 51% of the population).

I have my disagreements with Dean and the dailykos.com crowd, but the idea that they aren't the big name Clinton guys isn't one of them – in fact it's kind of the point. And I think the coming democratic majority is likely to see it in a similar way.

We got the (bunker-busting) neutron bomb.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12th, 2006 by Mike

So Seymour Hersch reported in the New Yorker that the Bush team wants to use "mini"-nuclear weapons against underground Iranian targets. People seemed surprised. My question: do they not remember anything?


This newspaper graph is from October 2000

National Institute for Public Policy (pdf), "Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control" 01/2001 (italics mine):

Hardened facilities are designed to withstand conventional or nuclear weapons effects. Hardened targets built underground and deeply buried facilities are the most difficult to destroy and will influence the required number and characteristics of nuclear weapons. Tunnels and caverns, for example, can be hundreds of feet below the surface and well-protected by soil and rock. Examples of hardened and buried targets include missile silos, launch control centers, concrete aircraft shelters, deeply buried command posts, tunnels for missile storage and assembly, storage bunkers, and underground facilities for weapons research and production. (p. 5)

(that report is fun to read, with the think tank suggesting, pre 9/11, the need to keep the military flush for our upcoming military conflict with the "worse yet, a Sino-Russian alliance". Hersch points out in his article that signers of the above document are currently, among other thigns, the national-security adviser, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the Bush team.)

That report fed into the Nuclear Posture Review, a Rumsfeld signed confidential report given to Congress in March 2002 (excellent broad overview, with links to accompanying editorials, here):

"Composed of both non-nuclear systems and nuclear weapons, the strike element of the New Triad can provide greater flexibility in the design and conduct of military campaigns to defeat opponents decisively. Non-nuclear strike capabilities may be particularly useful to limit collateral damage and conflict escalation. Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack, (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapon facilities)." (p. 12-13)

I find it so weird that people are surprised when, after watching the President ask Congress for funding for the research and development of low-level nuclear weapons and the military for plans and rationales to use them against underground WMD bunkers, it gets reported that the Bush team is very interested in the idea of actually using the things they were so interested in against Iran. New Yorker:

The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

"MR. LEBOWSKI IS IN SECLUSION…"

Posted in Rants on April 11th, 2006 by Ed

I am about to go into seclusion in preparation for my first qualifying exam on Friday. For those of you who are smart enough to have avoided grad school, qualifying exams are a 9-hour ordeal in which we basically tell the tenured faculty everything we know about a particular subject. "Everything" is to be taken literally in that sentence – we are supposed to show complete and exhaustive knowledge of the subjects in question, after which we are "qualified" to teach it at the Graduate level (hence the name).

Please help me prepare a musical playlist for this event. Right now, nothing screams "9 hour exam music" so my current plan is to put Pack up the Cats on repeat play and listen to it 10 times.

For the rest of the week, I leave you in the hands of Mike and Erik. You may remember them from their most recent posts, which I believe were in 2003.

Lastly, I send myself off into the exam with the greatest words of wisdom that I have ever been given. As bar bathroom graffiti at the Empty Bottle famously told me (and many other Chicago males), "Go with God. Pee in her butt."

Well put.

Well put.

EIGHT YEAR OLDS, DUDE.

Posted in Rants on April 5th, 2006 by Ed

President Bush: "Today I'm happy to nominate a great man, Brian Doyle, as press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. He's a man of tremendous character."

Brian J. Doyle: "Thank you, Mr. President. I wish to take this opportunity to introduce myself to the people of the United States. In accordance with Megan's Law, I'm required to tell you…."

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"I also like Fall Out Boy. Send n00dz plz."

It may have taken 6 years, but the Bush Administration has finally sunk to the level of having pedophiles exposed by federal sting operations. Even Clinton never achieved this one. But we always knew it would come to this.