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March 9, 2007

a consideration of hammers, and generals catching up

I missed this item earlier this week.  In an interview with "Democracy Now", General Wes Clark alleges that he was in the same room with a memo describing the Bush Department of Defense's plans to start/win seven wars in five years.  This happened prior to the invasion of Iraq, which, of course, was allegedly not a predetermined outcome and was rather a response to Iraqi belligerence or death ray development or some damn thing.

I know, it's just a bit of hearsay, and if this is the first you're hearing about Bush's peculiar form of Manifest Destiny then you should tell Rush Limbaugh I said hi, but there is a concept contained therein that I find a revelation:

I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.

I'm sure I've heard this bit of wisdom before, but it's nice to come across it again, so I can hammer it into my wrinkled, over-taxed brain.  It really does aptly describe the criminal shortsightedness of recent foreign policy misadventures.  And I'd like to add to this concept that "the only tool we have is a hammer" is somewhat a fallacy.  It's more accurate to say that, "Out of a well-appointed and bountiful toolchest, the hammer is the only tool we wish to use."  And the reliance on "the hammer" is where the malice comes in, as far as your various high crimes and misdemeanors are concerned.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:45 PM

lawrence wright

I haven't read his book or seen his play, but I'm going to recommend his interview.  His name is Lawrence Wright, and, among many other things, he has written a book entitled "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9-11", which he has adapted into a one-man play, "My Trip To Al Qaeda", which I would like to see, presuming that he does not switch back-and-forth into funny characters.

The interview discusses the exegesis of his book/play, and his views on relevant topics, like this:

I'm upset!  I'm upset with the state of American intelligence.  I think it's inexcusable.  We've added an entire new tier of bureaucracy -- the directorate of intelligence.  We've created a whole new Department of Homeland Security.  Has either of those things made us safer?  No.  Have they added to the vital store of intelligence?  No.  What would do that?  It's skilled people on the ground.  That's where we've failed.  So bureaucracy is not going to save us.

No, it's not a very funny interview, but it's informative, so let's all eat our vegetables.  And let's wonder at the fact that a journalist can lap our foreign policy and intelligence officials with respect to understanding the situation.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:36 PM

nostalgia is a virus, yes?

Would it be icky if I said that I'm tempted by the Genesis reunion tour?  Oh yes, and the Police tour, too.  Though Genesis moreso.

The answer is, yes, it is icky.  It's icky in that way that our elders seeing the Beach Boys for the twenty-eighth time is icky.  And let's not even mention the Eagles, or they'll try to charge me three hundred dollars.  It is icky, but the temptation persists.

I figure if I can openly admit this twisted nostalgia, then it will free its icy hold on our free time and our discretionary income, and we can all move on and spend our time on more useful things, like learning that second or third language, or building Adirondack chairs.

Failing that...  Fucking "Abacab", dude.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:42 AM

March 8, 2007

we all don't watch glenn beck

While composing the couple posts I've thrown up concerning Glenn Beck, there's been a pretty big question stumping me that I didn't voice.  Namely, how did this pasty lumpy dude get to be so popular?  A year or so ago, Beck had the name recognition of a Bob Lonsberry, then all of a sudden Headline News hires him for a nightly show.  His only discernable talent seems to be speaking unadulterated thoughts, free on any interference by his superego.  Why are all the kids watching this tool?

Happily, the answer is that, largely, the kids are not watching this tool.  In fact, if you check the Nielsen's for last Monday and Tuesday, you'll see that the parents and grandparents of the kids are also not watching this tool.

So, yes, this is nothing but a nyah-nyah.  Hopefully, Beck will soon join Dennis Miller as a conservative idol/utter broadcast failure.

(To be fair, my Nielsen's come in at exactly zero, so whatever moral superiority I pretend to have over Beck is mitigated by the fact that he has a TV show and I don't.  I'll try to still get out of bed in the morning.)

Posted by mrbrent at 12:45 PM

a very rare discussion of circumcision

At the risk of irking [REDACTED], I found this Yahoo! headline curious:
• Male circumcision may boost HIV risk for women

So then, is the risk boosted for women who circumcise men, or is it more that the risk is boosted for women who undergo male circumcision?

And hell, even if you aren't all snarky and go right for the intended meaning, I'm still scratching my head a bit.  So, sure, the clearer version of the headline would be "Male circumcision may boost HIV transmission incidence to women", or maybe something a little less wordy, but let's ask the question raised -- how does male circumcision affect the risk of HIV transmission to other fellas?  I know it's a family website and all, but the circumcised member knows no gender, as far as the whole tab a/slot b thing goes.

I just mostly like the verb "boost" being used in conjunction with "risk".  It makes risk seem that much more pleasant.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:14 AM

March 7, 2007

marvel comics no longer loves america

Yahoo! does not care for your cultural consumption habits.  That is why they have splashed this story, about the death of a certain comic book character, on the Yahoo! front page.  Yes, I do read the comic books.  One thing that comic books have in common with other forms of literature is that, when you read them, events unfold sequentially.  As you turn each page, you don't know what's going to happen in the story.

So for Yahoo! to run this story (and for Marvel Comics to publicize it), it is basically blowing the plot for anyone who may have been considering buying this comic book.  The industry jargon for this is "spoiling", and it is actually a Class B felony.  Hopefully there is a not-yet-fired US Attorney out there who can do something about this.

As long as we're spoiling, the dead character in question is Captain America.  Let's all take the day to ponder the metaphorical implications of the death of Captain America, after which we will riot.

(Actually, if you do read the comics like I do, and I won't make you admit to it in public, Captain America has been much abused in storylines over the past few months -- basically as a renegade who fights a police state and then at the last minute quits when he realizes that fighting the police state is wrong.  Basically, he's been used a strawman to implicate progressives as hurtful to society in their refusal to quit resisting.  So maybe death is not inappropriate for him, though I don't want to wish that too loudly or Matt Drudge will get mad at me.)

Posted by mrbrent at 11:33 AM

sorry, i just want to see what this feels like

Perhaps, if you live in the Northeast of these United States, you have noticed that it is cold outside.  In fact, this morning in New York, it was snowing.  Snowing!  And it's two weeks from spring!

Therefore, global warming must be some kind of scam.  Because it is not warm outside!!  And this irony is proof positive that liberals are greedy and want to destroy America!  Because of the snowing!

I am so damn smart, for lunch today I will have a genius sandwich!  Yum!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:24 AM

March 6, 2007

part of your administration is going to jail

Turns out the rumors were true.  The Libby verdict came out.  Fill the screen with guilties.

I do wish, however, that various newsmedia would stop referring to the trial as the "CIA leak trial" -- no one was charged with leaking nothing.  Obviously, there was some leaking going on, and we now have a whole lotta testimony (under oath!) to that effect.  But the trial was for obstruction of justice, perjury and lying.  Leaking the identity of one of our spies is a pretty bad crime, but, then, so is lying to the Feds and obstructing justice.

We all know that there is a big connection, but it's confusing to your average American, who is, you know, dumb.  Like those strawmen of the shrillest sort with their, "Libby didn't leak nothing!" defense.  Sadly, you big strawman dummy, Libby wasn't charged with leaking nothing.  So you're right, but, then again I'd be right if I were to respond with, "Yeah, but nothing rhymes with orange!"

Which maybe should be my standard response from now on.

So there.  My small contribution to the couple million words blogged on the Libby verdict today.  Now: onwards! upwards!

Posted by mrbrent at 5:19 PM

in other news, time passes

I'm reprinting the following linked post in its entirety.  Why?  Because it gave me a bit of a thought:
Scooter Libby verdict may be announced today

Apparently the jurors came to court dressed up today, seriously. They were in jeans before, today dress up clothes.

While I am anxiously awaiting a verdict in the Libby trial (being the kind of guy who goes in for such things), I mostly would like to point out the our 24 hours access to raw, unpasteurized news may have changed us irreparably.

Ten (twenty?) years ago, a Libby verdict, or rumors thereof, would be something you would learn about once you got home from work, from the TV news or, if you were lucky, the evening paper.  And when you finally accessed your news, you were given a couple hundred words, most of it expository in nature (i.e., "George W. Bush, who is the President of the United States of America...").  If you were interested for more detail, you would wait until the next Monday, when your copy of Time magazine arrived, in which the coverage was expanded to maybe a thousand (a whole thousand!) words.

Now, I take a coffee break, quick tap my favorite links, and learn breaking news based on attire of a jury in a courtroom in which no cameras are allowed.  If only I were a little more tech-smart, I could've learned about this largish revelation (based on the smallest of facts) on my mobile while walking from the subway.

It has been said that information wants to be free.  I think that if you check in the cell where information is locked, you will find a bunch of pillows under a blanket arranged to look like a sleeping information.  Information is not just free; there is no jail that can now hold information.

And of course, we (I, at least) are junkies, with veins so blown over the years that now we shoot information right in our eyeballs.

It is these soft ramblings that I intend to someday bore my eventual children with.  And then, of course, stories of rotary phones and TV antennae!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:03 AM

March 5, 2007

initiate bathtub drowning -- now!

Further to the immediately subsequent post, maybe the Administration is on to something.  They've stumbled upon a perpetual motion engine.

Basically, there is no failure of the Administration, whether education, health care, Katrina or care of our veterans, that the Administration will not use as evidence to support the Norquistian hypothesis that there is no function that the free market cannot perform more efficiently than the U.S. government.  Accordingly, ever glaring, shame-of-the-free world fuck-up powers their insidious argument.  No external energy applied, perpetual motion achieved, and now they can commence grinding up us non-oligarchic citizens into Soylent Green that they may live fat and happy forever!

I guess we can throw the laws of thermodynamics out the window after all.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:09 PM

when cheney finds out who did it, hoo boy!

The Vice President reacts to the Walter Reed scandal in a speech to veterans!  Not one to hide behind the denials of a spokesman (well, unless the matter at hand deals with secret meetings with polluters, leaking covered CIA WMD operatives, etc.), and keeping with his leadership position of the Political Party That Everyone Knows Is The Only Party To Support The Troops, Cheney met charges of substandard conditions for returning vets head on:
"There will be no excuses —- only action," Cheney told a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  "And the federal bureaucracy will not slow that action down."

Sorry, that's some real jaw-clenched posturing from the Man With A Robotic Heart Who Is Almost Surely Facing Indictment Unless Karma Catches Up With Him First, but his comments (while rousing!) present a bit of a logical conundrum. 

The qualifying statement that "the federal bureaucracy will not slow that action down" would tend to imply that the "action" in question will be performed by some third party -- or, more specifically, that the "action" will not be performed by the federal bureaucracy, which clearly impedes everything good and decent in the world.  So then, who exactly will be performing this "action"?  Invisible machine elves?  Perhaps the better question is: how many qualified individuals will Cheney shove to the curb so that his talentless-but-deep-pocketed donors may be shoved into these positions of "action" as rewards for loyalty?  And then, how will they perform this "action", let alone find their own asshole (with the help of a GPS and a compass)?

In reality, the administration of military hospitals undeniably is the responsibility of the bureaucracy, unless Cheney is trying to make some sneaky distinction between "administration" and "bureaucracy" (i.e., the "bureaucracy" describes everything that the "administration" is not accountable for, despite all appearances, and is probably Bill Clinton's fault anyhoo).  Discounting such projected semantics, Cheney is basically saying, "Me and my bad-ass friends will act, and me and my bad-ass friends will not slow us down."

Sorry, Mr Vice President, but you just broke the laws of physics.  May your supporters be emotionally resilient enough to withstand the attendant confusion, and may they please stay out of the engineering profession.

Considering that the Vice President's administration has enjoyed unfettered power for at least four years, one wonders if one of the "actions" being considered is "an admission of responsibility".

Posted by mrbrent at 3:23 PM

newt gingrich makes friends

I just want to throw this link up quick, and let it simmer for a while.  It's been a pretty busy news weekend, and is likely to be a busy news week, what with Walter Reed and US Attorney firings, so it may well fall through the cracks.  And frankly, it's about as incensing as anything I've seen in the past ten years, our little decade of everyday atrocity.  But here it is, via TPM: Gingrich Blames Ninth Ward Residents For Failure of Citizenship.

I guess I kinda thought that there was some ephemeral line that public figures (short of Ann Coulter, natch) would not cross.  Something, like, thou shalt not blame the drowned for not knowing how to swim, or, murderers shall not blame the murdered for dying so easily.

But if anyone should ever be held responsible for assholery of speech, I'm nominating Newt.  As far as I'm concerned, this is one problem the fat, irrelevant bastard can't present with divorce papers while in the hospital with cancer.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:23 AM

March 4, 2007

ann coulter is laughing at the bank right now

Everybody all upset because Ann Coulter decided to sell more books by calling John Edwards a faggot without calling him a faggot.  Who would have thought she would have been capable of such ill-considered and inflammatory speech?  Oh, that's right, everyone.

Coulter may be without a single redeeming value, but she has as much right to call John Edwards a faggot as we have the right to call Coulter a horse-faced bitch.  We're all playing these verbal games on the pitch of free speech, and with that comes the chance that great segments of people will get offended.  And to pretend that "offensive" somehow rises to nearly a crime produces what we like to call a "chilling effect".  So the appropriate response to an objectionable bit of speech is not sanctimony -- rather, it is more speech in retaliation to the objectionable ideas.

I guess I'm mostly responding to the chorus of How Dare She!s that resulted.  How dare she?  The same way she always dares, knuckleheads -- with an eye to publicity and increased economic opportunity.  No more moaning about the fraying civil discourse, please, and more sentiments like, "I hate Ann Coulter, in a Tim-Hardaway kind of way."

This of course begs the question of whether or not Mr. Ed's calumny rises to the level of gay-bashing -- it may, and it may not.  Personally, I say it's 2007, and if someone as mercenary and soulless and Coulter believes that the association a gay, or a non-gay, with the quality of being gay can be used as a weapon, then that becomes Exhibits R and S in the argument for her mercenary, soulless nature.  Does she hate gays?  She might, but, while that would be disgusting on her part, it certainly isn't against the law.  And did her speech hurt someone's feelings?  Probably, but, except in very extreme cases, that also is not against the law.

Let her spew.  Don't buy her books.  Hell, boycott the advertisers of television shows that let her peddle her nastiness.  But please, everyone just take a deep breath.

Tangentially, it seems that every campaign, on both sides of the spectrum, has a central plank of, "And I call on all other candidates to denounce [x]".  Which may be a sign of the times, but it's a cardboard excuse for a tenet, don't you think?  Sure, everyone wants to win, but the idea of gaining traction by backing your opponents into corners over who didn't denounce what is the baser nature of politicking that is turning an electorate barely educated enough to define the word "cynicism" into cynics.  While there may be some efficacy in hiring a sub-spokesman whose full-time beat is denouncing, and in turn calling for denouncement, assholery, it certainly doesn't leave the scent of statesmanship in its wake.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:29 AM