31 January, 2005

Another make-over

I've been meaning to get a proper rhino up there for a while, and I think this looks pretty good, though maybe a little somber. I'll have to fiddle around with it for a bit. And I understand that this link color-scheme is a bit off and would probably look better in chintz. It's a work in progress.

25 January, 2005


Seymour Hersh, who sometime last year made my "List of People Who Fucking r0x0rs" (along with... um... I'll get back to you on this), appeared last night on the Daily Show, mostly as a result of this article in his donjon, the New Yorker. I was actually going to post about that a few days back when it appeared, but whatever weird ifreet it is that controls my blogga-whimsy aborted it, like it does with 90% of my posts.

Anyway, Sy writes mostly about the issue that Dan Keshet commented on below, viz., "What army?" As in, with what army will Bush invade Iran? Iran is obviously a far more formidable opponent than Iraq; it has a larger population, a stronger economy, has active weapons-development programs and, of course, a nuclear power program (with rumored associate nuclear weapons program). A full-scale invasion of Iran is unlikely. Hopefully, even the Bush administration has learned that much from Iraq. And it's a good guess that Iran has learned its lessons, too: no one is likely to get away with a simple, Israel-style bombing as with Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. If Iran is at all savvy, they've hidden their weapons program away quite carefully.

The American response, says Hersh, is to send in covert reconnaissance teams to definitvely identify strike sites (along with intelligence help from Pakistan). Hersh claims these teams are operating in Iran even now, ferreting out the locations of Iran's secret weapons program, so that it can be destroyed.

After that? Hersh says that force WILL be used against Iran, quoting an unnamed source:
“We’re not dealing with a set of National Security Council option papers here,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “They’ve already passed that wicket. It’s not if we’re going to do anything against Iran. They’re doing it.”
And now, enter the neoconservative fantasy, apparently wrought in the same furnace that brought us the assurances that Iraqis would greet us with garlands as liberators.
The immediate goals of the attacks would be to destroy, or at least temporarily derail, Iran’s ability to go nuclear. But there are other, equally purposeful, motives at work. The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. “Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement,” the consultant told me. “The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse”—like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said.
Huzzah. Last night Hersh repeatedly said this could go down "this summer". It'll be an interesting year, anyway.

23 January, 2005

The Wrong Summers

I typed 'summers' into Googlé to find out a bit about my overlord*+ Larry and was surprised to find the first hit was for someone called Ann Summers, who it seemed was peddling vibrators, sexy lingerie, nurse outfits and the Rampant Rabbit, in regular and deluxe models. Quoi? Not what I was expecting at all. I googled around a bit and found a fair bit of attention to Ms. Summers (who is not in fact a person, but a chain of stores) in the Guardian. Apparently the chain is doing quite well for itself (as its Google listing certainly attests to), which the Guardian attributes to its attention to female clientele.

Well, I say, this is rather a positive development. Women as consumers of sexuality instead of men? Definitely progressive. After all, men have been defining sexuality for god knows how long, and consequently confining it to the female gender, leaving themselves bereft. Women playing the part of sexual actors and men learning to become sexual objects is a welcome development. Because I suspect that our problem with "women as sexual objects" is less the construction of women as vehicles of pleasure and more the dichotomy it implies. When the equation is a little more balanced I think we'll all be able to relax about it.

Of course, I don't really have the faintest clue what I'm talking about, here, and some more knowledgable party can probably beat me all around the town on this subject.

* I go to Harvard, don't you know.

+ Don't worry, I'll get over this footnote thing soon.

21 January, 2005

Belarus vs. Turkmenistan : whose post is more outerly?

My PI (who is Russian) complains that Belarus is less deserving of being labelled an "outpost of tyranny"* than Turkmenistan. Mind you, both of them are guilty of being tyrannical - Lukashenka, dictator of Belarus, is trying to get himself appointed president-for-life,+ and concommitantly quashing political dissent. And he's admittedly something of a kook.

But Sapamurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan takes the cake. There is probably no "world leader" who can compete on the field of lunacy with this man. To start off small, he's renamed the month of January after himself and the month of April after his mother. He made it official (after turning 62) that old age doesn't begin until you're 85. He built a statue of himself in the capital which revolves on a turntable so that it always faces the sun. He's commissioned the world's largest handmade carpet. And then there's the not-so-nice stuff, like jailing his opposition, including civil society groups and environmental activists.

Of course, it might be that Condi Rice was trying to keep the list short, and Belarus was just one on a list of possible Outposts. The fact that the U.S. has been courting Niyazov for construction of the coveted trans-Caspian gas pipeline probably has little to do with it...

* Can I just point out what a truly ODD turn of phrase that is? "Outpost of tyranny"? Is Tyranny some sort of wilderness adventure group, like the Boy Scouts? "The next outpost is only three miles, boys - we'll have a great view from there! And we can stock up on GORP, as well."

+ This is a sure sign you're losing it. If you or a loved one are trying to become president-for-life, SEEK HELP NOW. It's only a phone-call away. It's not too late!

The short list

Those of you who caught Bush's inauguration speech will have realized that there's another war a-comin'. Those of you who caught Condi Rice's Senate hearing will have a pretty good idea where it's going to be. Eschewing the now-outmoded "axis of evil", Ms. Rice named six countries that she described as "outposts of tyranny". Tyranny being the enemy of freedom. Since the U.S. is now the champion knight of freedom, we're bound to whup some tyrannical ass. Here's the choices: Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma, Belarus, Iran and North Korea.

Now some of this may be a bit confusing: "Wait a minute... Burma? The same Burma ruled by the dictator Than Shwe, with whom Halliburton did business while Dick Cheney was its CEO?* That Burma? Or some other Burma...? I've been confused ever since they renamed it Myanmar..."

Or you may be wondering why Belarus got singled out, as opposed to, I don't know, some other dictatorial regime. But you would be wrong to think that; what's important is that we identify anti-American dictatorial regimes. The logic is inescapable: The United States is the friend of freedom. If you are a friend to the United States, you must also, therefore, be a friend of freedom (or introductions can be made, anyway, at the appropriate social gathering). And if you're a friend of freedom, you're obviously not its enemy, viz., a tyranny.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled - there's doings a-transpirin'.

* Including, apparently, the use of children to lay their pipeline. Fabulous.

05 January, 2005

Jon Stewart KILLS Crossfire!

Via alt hippo, we learn that CNN has decided to gently let go Tucker Carlson, and subsequently fold down Crossfire. The reason?
The bow-tied wearing conservative pundit got into a public tussle last fall with comic Jon Stewart, who has been critical of cable political programs that devolve into shoutfests.

"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein told The Associated Press.

He said all of the cable networks, including CNN, have overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues. Klein said he wants more substantive programming that is still compelling.

"I doubt that when the president sits down with his advisers they scream at him to bring him up to date on all of the issues," he said. "I don't know why we don't treat the audience with the same respect."
Needless to say, Jon Stewart gets about 400,000 brownie points for this. Fucking badass.

The original incident, if you missed it.

04 January, 2005

Al-Zarqawi Arrested

Might be just a rumor, but Kurdish news sources are reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been arrested. Keep an eye open for more...

02 January, 2005

A mighty blow

A little late, I learn that Al Pieda took not one, but two shots at Ann Coulter while she was speaking at the University of Arizona. Zack and Phil (the Al Pieda henchmen) are apparently facing assault charges, as well as $6000 in damages (the pie whacked a muslin scrim, which apparently cannot be cleaned). I think they should take up the "JESUS CHRIST IT WAS A FUCKING PIE YOU STIFF-NECKED ASS-WIPES" defense. Ought to work. If not, they can take up the "It's Ann Coulter - can you seriously tell me YOU don't want to pie her?" defense.

If you are more manganimous than I, you can donate to their defense fund. But better to donate to tsunami relief - Bob Harris has some pretty good links in that department.

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