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September 22, 2007

mere profiteering apparently not enough for blackwater

Compare and contrast.

The first Iraq story I read this morning was of how private security contractor Blackwater USA resumed its services in Iraq, in spite of the hot water it has found itself with the Iraqi authorities.  But we thought that the Iraqis had banned Blackwater or something?  Well...

It was not clear if the resumption of convoys was a signal of some political compromise between the State Department and the Iraqi government, which had demanded that the United States drop Blackwater as its protector, or whether it simply meant that American officials felt they could not afford to remain grounded.

So the State Department is solidly behind Blackwater -- either it brokered some kind of truce, or it is using Blackwater's services in contravention of the desires of the Iraqis.

The fourth Iraq story that I read this morning was of how private security contractor Blackwater USA is under investigation for smuggling guns to insurgents.  And not investigation by the Iraqis, no:

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press.

Not that I'm saying that Blackwater's apparent crimes are an indictment of the entire U.S. occupation of Iraq -- that's not the kind of logic we use around these parts.  Blackwater would not be a "symptom"; it would be an "isolated incident".  The only time a "isolated incident" is emblematic of a larger trend is when the "isolated incident" is committed by MoveOn.org.

But the State Department can't find anyone else in the Green Zone who knows how to point a gun, and those diplomats need protecting.  You fight the war with the private security contractors you have, not the private security contractors you wish you had.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:08 AM

September 21, 2007

the unlucky rhymes of petraeus

So what basically happened is that an advocacy group took out an ad attacking the credibility of the latest model of the Bush Administration water-carrier, and feelings got so hurt that the Senate passed a resolution condemning feelings-hurting.

That's the way I would put it.  However, this is the way that TV's Keith Olbermann would put it, which is a large reason why there is no "Countdown With Titivil".  (Other reasons: insecurity, complacency, inability to refrain calling motherfuckers "motherfuckers".)  This latest Special Comment, as Olbermann calls it, is equally as useful as a concise summary of the issues at play in the MoveOn/Petraeus matrix as it is as a supplement to your outrage, as your outrage should be plenty outrageous as it is -- if not, read more and better.

It's tempting to cut and paste the whole thing.  But, then again, I'm not paying myself by the word.  Briefly, this is why Gen. Petraeus is fair game:

Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, you [i.e., President Bush] shanghaied a military man [i.e., General Petraeus] as your personal spokesman and now you’re complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?

The "running away from the mike" refers to a gratuitous shot taken by the president at the end of a presser yesterday, complaining that Democrats are bad people because they didn't riot in the streets over the MoveOn ad.  Of which gratuitous shot specifically Olbermann says:

Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?  The Republican Hamstringing of Captain Max Cleland and lying about Lieutenant John Kerry met with your approval?  But a shot at General Petraeus, about whom you conveniently ignore it was you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack, merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?

And then comes the money:

And in pimping General David Petraeus and in the violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against for 220 years, you have tried to blur the gleaming radioactive demarcation between the military and the political, and to portray your party as the one associated with the military, and your opponents as the ones somehow antithetical to it.

Which is naturally par for the course w/r/t this current administration.  It's just noteworthy that, as a tactic, it is feckless, amoral and impossible to unwittingly perpetrate.

And as long as the President has shoved his general into the playing field, MoveOn is right -- in providing political cover for the administration and its useless occupation, Gen. Petraeus is a disgrace to his uniform, and to the military.

The U.S. Senate can condemn me all they want and my opinion will persist.  And if anyone wants to question my integrity, I promise that I will not hide behind whatever uniform I may be wearing.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:30 AM

September 20, 2007

r.i.p. timesselect

Everyone's all excited that the New York Times has dropped its unpopular TimesSelect program, whereby a paywall was built, separating we casual websurfers from the NYT's archives and opinion columns.  The excitement is caused by a) support of the argument that "content wants to be free" (or at least ad- and search-supported), and b) lack of much else to be excited by.

But we here are also excited, because this insidious paywall also imprisoned any news story run by the NYT older than seven days, making it impractical to link it around these parts for your reference.  The NYT is the paper we read; the NYT is the paper we would have preferred to link.  Now we may, which will mean a precipitous fall-off of links to whichever random American newspaper we would dig up.

To commemorate, I'm linking probably the finest cocktail recipe I know, and I'm throwing in for free a shout-out to Capt. Dave Berson, mentioned in the recipe, who is a fine man.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:47 PM

September 19, 2007

would you pull the trigger on taser boy?

One of the benefits of spending yesterday driving the Little Dog back and forth to the vet is that I had plenty of time to listen to the talk radio, and was witness to the outrage (nay! Outrage!) marshaled over the news of that unfortunate questioner of Sen. John Kerry, whom we shall name "Taser Boy".  The Radio Left was pretty bent out of shape, what with Taser Boy having his civil rights violated, and Sen. Kerry not jumping off the dais to take on the scumbag cops himself.  It was a Sad Sad Day, or some such.

I know that as a left-leaning individual (with a blog!), I'm supposed to take my marching orders from the echo chamber and add my two cents about the sadness of the day or whatever.  But, I must say, after just hearing the audio from the tape of the incident, Taser Boy seems like a colossal tool.  I don't like his manners, and I question his motivation.  (And he does a reasonably good impression of being methed out.)  And looking over the c.v. of Taser Boy, I don't think that I'm backing off at all from my initial impression that he is a colossal tool.

Of course, being a colossal tool is not a valid reason to be tasered, but I'm not sure how much indignation I want to expend over the tasering of a colossal tool.

We can all agree that the cops with the tasers are shitty cops and should probably face some criminal charges.  But before we martyrize Taser Boy and put his face on a stamp, let's keep in mind that Taser Boy is a colossal tool, who should be relegated to the dust heap of history before VH1 gives him a series.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:12 PM

September 18, 2007

talk to the hand, but say please

Well, I spent all the day away from the world because our Little Dog has this intruiging malady they call "kennel cough", which sounds all cute and everything but basically is a canine form of consumption, which as you recall, was the lethal bane of many a depressed person back in the 19th century.  So, the Little Dog is going to be okay, at the cost of a working day and other costs that it would be awkward to speak of.

So, as I check in for the brief "whot happened while I was gone" spin around the Intenets, I see, in the Yahoo! Newz-U-Kan-Uze headline box, the following:

• Democrats won't temper their approach on Iraq legislation

And now I know that the world is safe, and the status quo is all status-y and quo-y.  Because the copy editors at Yahoo! (perhaps following the lead of those at the A.P., though I ain't wasting two minutes of my life to find out), realize that the burning question is not whether the Democrats will use their Congressional majority to effect change, but rather if those hempity pinko Dems are done with their social experiment of "accountability" and will return to the line, and get busy towing.  (Toe-ing?)

I may be tacking into the snarky, but the tone of this crappy headline is entirely valid.  Everyone remembers the first six years of the younger, idioter Bush presidency, when journalists everywhere were primarily concerned over whether the Republican majority would "temper their approach".

When it comes to matters of polity that could possibly affect the world, manners first!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:44 PM

September 17, 2007

real american mothers love wars

The FOX television network (not to be confused with Fox News, the Dow Jones or any of Rupert Murdoch's eleventy hundred other media properties) identified a thrilling new public enemy number one last night during its dullish telecast of the Emmy's -- Sally Field.

After winning the Emmy for some damn thing that matters not really at all, and shouting out to the "mothers of the world", Ms. Field began a sentence with, "If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any god-" at which point the sound dropped and the cameras cut to a very interesting static shot of the ceiling.  No, I was not watching the TV myself, but someone in my household was (the Little Dog?), and the abruptness of the audio-drop made me turn and see if the TV had finally died.  What Ms. Field had said during the brief ceiling interlude was, "...-damned wars in the first place."

So, yes, a non-Fox News arm of News Corp. censored Sally Field on national television.

You may think that the words of Sally Field are harmless in the context of our national contretemps, but if you do, you should have a little more pansy-ass koolaid, because I bet all that pansy-ass thinking is making you thirsty.  Sally Field was not making a mere political statement.  She was speaking against wars.  What is more American than wars?  Especially wars that look easy on paper, but then stretch out for years?  What is more American than that?

It then follows that Sally Field was poisoning America's gathered celebrois-sie with distilled anti-Americanism, and it's only a shame that the Fox security didn't swoop upon her like a pack of winged-wolverines and drag her directly to Guantanamo, where she can share the glories of her Emmy with all the other enemy combatants -- indefinitely and without benefit of counsel.

The courage and bravery shown by FOX -- a lone patriot in a country that mistakenly believes that "free speech" extends to saying what you want -- should be a example to us all.  Air horns are not as cheap as, oh, a Ho Ho, say, but how can we put a price on bla-bla-bla-bla-I'm-not-listening-to-you?

In fact, the actions of FOX are such that I would not question their masculinity, oh no.  Nor would I ask them outside.  Nor would I "knock their dick in the dirt".  Not if I were you.  If you did, they might cut your mike, and then what would you do?

(BTW, if you don't like the Sally Field, then I recommend you watch the first "Smokey and the Bandit", which is the motion picture in which the ur-Sally Field resides.  That is some good Sally Field.  If you don't like Sally Field, then you just haven't realized that you like Sally Field yet.)

Posted by mrbrent at 10:51 AM

sorry, furries

I was invited to the event that I'm about to reference, but I did not intend.  "I'm going to be in a car, on my way to Pennsylvania."  The event was scheduled for last Friday, so, as it turns out, I was not lying, though I might have otherwise.

The event was at a modest art gallery in Brooklyn -- a gathering of Furries, as they are known, posing for photographers/artists, amid an exhibition of portraits of these Furrries.  And the big reason that I was not going to be in attendance is that the Furries, they skeeve me out. 

I felt bad, as the dude that gave me the invite is a nice enough dude, and I didn't want to throw my "No Furries, not ever" rule in his face.  But still, no Furries, not ever.  I'm not trying to be prudish, as I'm a strict adherent to the "consenting adults/whatever floats boats" doctrine, so it is my own moral failing that I consider the Furries a 21st Century identity virus.  The aspect of nearly-anonymous sex while wearing an animal suit reminds me of a portable two-way teddy-bear gloryhole, which I am erasing from my mind as I type.

But!  Turns out I am wrong again, which means that it is a "day".  Turns out old buddy Virgil did attend, and my mistake was explained to him:

I've been hearing about this subculture for years now, usually in the context of people who have sex while wearing fur suits, but I'd talked to Jay enough to find out that the sex Furries (who I believe are known as Plushies) are actually a smaller subset of the greater Furry culture, so I went, confident that I would not wind up being molested by a giant racoon.

So it is actually the Plushies that make my gorge rise, while the Furries are just people -- just like you and me -- who spend inexplicable amounts of time and money trying to give themselves heat stroke -- just like you and me!

I apologize for my error, and hopefully the next time Furries congregate to get photographed I won't be driving to Pennsylvania.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:18 AM