Tuesday, November 30, 2004
And maybe post about how your mom was just murdered.
And maybe get charged with planning that murder with two ex-boyfriends.
And hopefully, get convicted as an adult, sentenced to jail, and anal-raped repeatedly with nightsticks by a guard named Jodie.
Monday, November 29, 2004
And I've got nothing original to say about Thanksgiving. Or the immediacy of the "Holiday" (read: commodification of Jesus' birth as coopted by heathens) Season. So here is Loudon Wainwright III, who does this sort of thing much better than I:
Suddenly It's Christmas Copyright ©1993 Snowden Music, Inc.
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Right after Hallowe'en.
Forget about Thanksgiving;
It's just a buffet in between.
There's lights and tinsel in
They're stocking up the shelves;
Santa's slaving at the North Pole
In his sweatshop full of elves.
There's got to be a build-up
To the day that Christ was born:
The halls are decked with pumpkins
And the ears of Indian corn.
Dragging through the falling leaves
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Seven weeks before the day
Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
When they say "Season's Greetings"
They mean just what they say:
It's a season, it's a marathon,
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.
Outside it's positively balmy,
In the air nary a nip;
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Unbuttoned and unzipped.
Yes, they're working overtime,
Santa's little runts;
Christmas comes but once a year
And goes on for two months.
Christmas carols in December
And November, too;
It's no wonder we're depressed
When the whole thing is through.
Finally it's January;
Let's sing "Auld Lang Syne";
But here comes another heartache,
Shaped like a Valentine.
Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
The season is upon us;
A pox, it won't go away.
It's a season, it's a marathon,
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.
No, it's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree;
It's still not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Never tell a vegetarian that they are insane. I can't impart to you the import of this simple courtesy.
Some time ago, not too far from here, when the heathens balked at the brandishing of leaden swords in favor of the talisman herbs that were so en vogue, a young boy dreamed of swatting angels with a giant kilbassa.
"Don't be tellin' me to don't go breakin' your heart!"
Billy Burrito stuffed himself into a FedEx package and was next-business-day delivered straight to hell.
"Forgive me Father for I have smoked turnips from my neighbor's garden."
The Polycedites were a peaceful bunch. A collection of smooth, unfurrowed brows of beatific beauty and uncompromised petulance. Only starvation saved their scrotum from infamy.
"Screw the patois. I will talk my own talk and walk my own dog!" Phil barked proudly at the well-spoken bean-counter.
A heated exchange ensued after which Donny swore never to bathe in the lime rickey pool without first designating a diver.
Some people can't imagine their way out of an imagineering department.
If there is a bright shining center of the universe, and we're on the planet that is farthest from, then I grew up on that planet's toilet seat.
Fred Osterizer never cared much for pastrami. Which is why there can be no doubt his suicide sent ripples throughout the delicatessen universe.
Yes. I blame it all on the French.
So there I was, not a fortnight's ride from the fort, when I was taken upon by a herd of angry and boisterous carpenters' apprentices, chirping and wailing a banshee's song of death.
The benevolent Mr. Titrocker never expected the rush of unholy lust that overcame him in the wee hours of the morn while watching a rerun of Mr. Wizard's World.
Mr. Fancipants always expected to get noticed in a crowd, but when the Slurpee machine decided to propose marriage, he knew, from experience, he was in for a long afternoon at the mall.
Lord Chamberbot and his brother Stymie set out to discover what, if anything, Prime Minister Churchill had meant by the phrase "total conviction of raspberries."
The frigid earth beneath their feet numbed their toes as well as their souls, but Harely, Cuz, and Beaner knew that the night ahead would only last as long as their remaining cube of Bublicious.
Monday, November 22, 2004
And if you happen to know the dude (or have been lucky enough to receive any of the epic-length emails chronicling the debacle), you can be sure that this won't be just any consumer report hissy fit.
So set your TiVo or gather 'round with the family to witness Futurama Home Furnishings meet the fury of a birdman scorned.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Therapy, called internet porn "a perfect delivery system if we want to have a whole generation of young addicts who will never have the drug out of their mind."
What? You're expecting me to refute this?
Arguments? Maybe you think it’s war. But how many unnecessary wars have been fought for something other than religion? Well, maybe it isn’t always at the center of the fight, but it seems to always play a significant role (see Crusades, WWII, Rwanda, the Reconquista, Darfur—ethnicity is often hopelessly entwined with religion). There are those economic, world-domination-type wars and grumpy neighbor border disputes. But borders are often drawn by politicians with disregard for ethnicity and religion, leading to the dispute (see Iraq, Kashmir, the Balkans).
And I’d argue that economics are a natural, necessary consequence of civilized society, impossible to erase short of utopia. If more than one person exists in a space with limited resources, what you’ve got is an economy. With six billion people, the problem is six billion times as complicated and six billion times as necessary an evil.
Maybe you think it’s heartless capitalism and industrial pollution that have been more destructive — the tyranny of the rich and creation of rotting inner cities or the cancers created by all the artificial crap we eat and the free radicals we surround ourselves with. But people, please. The biggest human threat is posed by the thumping radicals ready to condemn others and to die themselves for their vision of God.
Religious zealots only agree on the people they hate: everyone who isn’t like them. In America, the religious right has hijacked the Republican Party, indignant that a globule of genetic material that might be manipulated into one day becoming a person would instead be used to treat actual, full-grown people with crippling diseases; hysterical over televised nipples and four-letter words heard on radio that their children learned in the first grade; or scared to death that gay men are coming to violate their rectums and destroy the meaning of their 50 percent divorce rate.
In the Cradle of Civilization, it seems the only thing most vocal Muslims can agree on is the inferiority of women, the dirtiness of their sexual desires, and killing Jews. OK, OK, there are moderates in any religion. But moderates don’t run the show.
Religion is an institution created out of fear of the unknown, greed, power, indoctrination, and --when not corrupted by these other forces -- a healthy personal choice.
The key there is "personal." I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to keep religion to themselves. Religion can be a positive force if it helps answer questions (even with what amount to comforting fantasies), provides solace, helps center your life, or offers a blueprint for how to be a good person that — for whatever reason — isn’t instinctual.
Now, I’m a skeptic. A cynical idealist. Where many Americans see the divine, I just see birds or a sunset. Where believers see synchronicity, I see randomness and coincidence. And if my agnosticism met someone else’s atheism on the street in search of differences, they might look at each other like Mary-Kate looks at Ashley: similar, confident, and thin.
I know I’m a minority in this country and not just because I’m a non-practicing Jew. A 2003 Harris poll determined that 80 percent of Americans belive in God. According to a recent Pew survey, 60 percent of Americans say that religion had a very important role in their lives and 54 percent had an “unfavorable” view of atheists. Fine. But keep that unfavorable view, and any other personal choice, to yourself.
If we disagree, and you're convinced I'm going to hell or to New Jersey or wherever, then why is that your problem? If I want to eat dirty socks or screw pastries or worship Ryan Seacrest, then I probably will be going to hell. Let me go, you judgmental, reactionary pricks.
I would never presume to preach or impose my attitudes on someone else. I might engage a good friend in spirited, spiritual conversation. But never with the intention of converting someone over to my side. That’s just presumptuous, egotistical, and stupid.
And yet, if you sift through the election results and witness the fury exploding all over Asia and Europe, it’s clear that tolerance ain’t really carrying the day.
In his last HBO show this season, Bill Maher (who’s hilarious, often dead-on correct, and yet hopelessly pompous, grating, and guilty of coddling that shrill, mindless, left-baiting twig Ann Coulter) made a solid point about the so-called “moral values” issue:
“Let’s examine what “moral values” are. Because I don’t think religion always corresponds with moral values…When we talk about values, I think of rationality in solving problems. That’s something I value. Fairness, kindness, generosity, tolerance. That’s different. When they talk about values, they’re talking about things like going to church, voting for Bush, being loyal to Jesus, praying. These are not values.”
I would agree — and even take it further. Religion undermines true morality by confusing the common sense teaching of Judeo-Christianity (just be a kind, generous person) with an endless string of arbitrary rules tainted further by orders to spread these rules to infidels and heathens like an unthinking computer virus. And so many of these rules have certainly been created by religious leaders to maintain their privileged place in society and subjugate women while they're at it (Orthodox Judaism with their segregationist, women-have-cooties doctrine as well as
Islam, that keeps their women — as Maher often says tactfully– “in the beekeeper suits”).
But I promised not to preach.
Instead, since I’m sure everyone is clamoring for it, I will let you all know how I, as a godless cynic, make my way without a guide book or scroll of divine lore. Granted, these are mostly items of luxury — stuff that poor folks in America or in developing countries can’t afford. Maybe they need religion. But they should still keep it to themselves.
So. Here, for no particular reason and in no particular order, is a partial list of things that, for me, make life worth living—or at the very least—a little more bearable. This is my list. Get
--Linguine with white clam sauce
--Love in the afternoon
--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
--Sunday afternoon football
--The NCAA men’s basketball tournament
--Softball and beer on a sunny day
--Beers with friends any day
--A great movie that makes you think, laugh, dream, or feel something
--A dumb movie that makes you joke, taunt, or tear it apart with criticism
--Improvisational music with soul
--The treatment OJ Simpson gets whenever he goes out in public
--Fireflies and crisp starry nights in the summer
--The four seconds after a snowstorm before the pristine sparkly white blanket turns into black slushy crud
--Ben & Jerry’s
--Cherry Garcia Ice Cream
--A Parent’s unconditional love
--Sinking that shot, getting that hit, dishing that pass, scoring that goal, making that catch, winning that race…
--Reading a good magazine article while taking a nice, smooth, satisfying dump
--Crafting an original, logical, deep thought
--Making the perfect argument
--A first kiss
--Watching live music played with passion
--When hard work pays off
--Doing a favor
--Beating a dead horse
--Throwing caution to the wind
--The Sopranos, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Cheers,
--MST3K, The Larry Sanders Show, the first four seasons of ER, and the first three seasons of The West Wing
--Evolution, Cosmology, and Quantum Mechanics
--Cable TV with a Digital Recording Device
--The changing seasons
--The panoramic view of a seascape or mountainside
--Playing with babies
--This quote by Edgar Varese, often spoken by Frank Zappa: “Knowledge is not wisdom; Wisdom is not truth; Truth is not beauty; Beauty is not music; Music is the best.”
--The Golden Rule
--Real Rock N Roll
--Skating the Stanley Cup on home ice
--Playing in a band
--Tailgating before a game
--The art of conversation
--The Doughy Eyes of Katie Holmes
--The mischievous smile of Cameron Diaz
--The legs of Tina Turner
--The ass of Jennifer Lopez
--The voice of Joni Mitchell
--The chest of Jennifer Love Hewitt
--The Perkiness of Jennifer Love Hewitt Banished and locked in Planet Krypton’s “Phantom Zone” for eternity
--Home grown buds
--“The Far Side”
--Old school Mad Magazine
--The current state of Bob Sagat’s career
--Martin Broduer, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, John Madden, and John Maclean
--Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet, Joe Klecko, Lance Mehl, Wesley Walker, Al Toon, and Mickey Schuler
--The Bill of Rights and all other Constitutional freedoms
--The Law of Averages
--A Toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese
--A counter stool at the local diner with an omelet, a large OJ, and a newspaper
--A school/work snow day
--Long, pointless lists
Friday, November 19, 2004
Yeah, that's not Hezbollah, the new hot skiffle group from Surrey, but the Lebanese terrorist group responsible for the U.S. Marine barracks and U.S. embassy bombings in the 80s, not to mention countless incursions, suicide bombings, and missile attacks against Israel.
The money quote from that meeting, as televised on Arab television:
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's Ronald Stone, a member of the delegation,
thanked Hezbollah for its "good will" toward the American people and said, "As
an elder of our church, I'd like to say that according to my recent experience,
relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings
and dialogue with Jewish leaders."
Think that might get you fired from your church job, too?
[A recent study] found that 62 percent of workers are sneaking out of their
cubicles because of stress, personal reasons, family issues, and something
called entitlement mentality. Rick, a healthy 30-year-old who worked in
pharmaceutical advertising until he quit last year to go to grad school, is a
perfect example of the last category. "I had five sick days a year," he says,
"and shit if I wasn't going to use them."
Rick (who recommends setting your alarm to go off just before you call the
office for that realistically raspy effect) says he and his overworked
colleagues would simply "conveniently come down with colds" in December.
"Sometimes," he says, "I just needed a day on the couch."
Those days are often hard-won. When Rick was working as a sales representative
for a major New York recruiting firm, a job he describes as a "Dickensian
workhouse," asking for time off was treated as a sign of weakness. "If you
brought up things like vacation, they'd as you, 'Do you really want to work
here?'" he says. "Or they'd point to another guy who hadn't taken a day off
in two years."
4. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Bob Dylan
3. The Final Cut [entire album], Pink Floyd
2. War, Edwin Starr
1. Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
Honorable Mention: Life During Wartime by The Talking Heads, Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones, Masters of War by Bob Dylan, My Father’s Gun by Elton John, Goodnight Saigon by Billy Joel, Political Science by Randy Newman, and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
And dear Condi, with her bulletproof hair helmet and repressed school mistress sexiness, sternly warned the country that Saddam was actively pursuing nuclear weapons and we couldn't hesitate even a smidge because "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
God bless her sweet heart and her colorful use of metaphor.
But either she was too grossly incompetent to notice the severe misgivings of her staff, or she was being willfully deceitful, kowtowing to the pre-ordained, pre-9/11 marching orders established by Puppet Master Cheney and Big Dick Rumsfeld.
And either Colin was hoodwinked or he trashed an even more illustrious and promising career in the service of ends that not only don't justify their means, but appear not to have any ends at all.
So bring me back to 2003, baby. At least then I was happily as clueless as these two jokers.
Tue, 11 Mar 2003 22:35:46 -0800 (PST)
So, the man who once played a militant soviet in the fourth grade play (well at least your single line reading gave that impression) is clearly not in favor of war. I certainly hope this doesn’t throw you in the untenable “just say no to war” position favored by Hollywood pinheads like Sheryl Crow and Richard Gere.
Which isn’t to say that I’m in favor of war. War sucks. People die who shouldn’t, it eats resources better used more constructively, it exhibits the absolute worst in human nature before, during and in it’s aftermath. Often causes more problems than it solves—much like the burn tactics (you are well acquainted with) wild land firefighters sometimes employ that (literally) blow up in their faces. That war only serves itself is a nice pithy aphorism, but a student of history (or even one who lifted his drooling chin from his desk during random screams of “pillbox!” in Mr. Swenson’s 12th grade Am Hist class) might concede that some wars are a necessary evil.
Say what you will of those who wave flags and offer the company line about “defending freedom from tyranny” and protecting American interests from those who would destroy us, but isn’t there some truth behind the hawk rhetoric? I’m cynical enough (still) to believe that any large endeavor, certainly wars, and likely anything entered by the U.S. government in foreign diplomacy is rooted in some way in money. War is notoriously profitable, and it’s more than a little fishy that many members of Team Bush have profited immensely from the last Gulf shindig. And a quick, successful war never hurt anyone’s reelection campaign even in a recession. But I’m also convinced that the single greatest impetus and driving force for this one is our own defense.
And if it isn’t really the true impetus (who can honestly say their vantage point offers them a clear line-of-sight on the driver of this crazy, infinitely complex bus to hell?), then I’m convinced it’s at least a legitimate justification.
The comparisons are obvious even as they are inapt. WWII was justified and necessary. Any arguments? Maybe we went overboard firebombing civilian populations (more people died in Dresden than any one place at any one time in the history of the planet) and vaporizing Hiroshima. And given those atrocities, it’s hard to argue much for round two in Nagasaki. Especially in this part of the world and considering that from what I’ve read, Truman didn’t have a clue what he was about to do, or indeed, had done immediately after the fact (referring in his address to the nation and his private journal that the bombed civilian centers of industry were “military targets”). Maybe we would have had (and continued to have) a bit more moral authority if we weren’t the only country on the planet to detonate an atomic bomb, without warning, on two populated cities. And maybe it was myopic to insist on an unconditional surrender from a nation to which that term was anathema, when all we eventually got was a negotiated peace years later. But that’s another rambling screed entirely.
And yet, (and damned if this next quote won’t short-circuit my whole argument in light of it’s original, facile musical employment) we didn’t start the fire. WW dos had this fella named Hitler intent on systematically exterminating a race of people and conquering the planet. In retrospect, such a quaint notion reeks of something worthy only of a D-grade GI Joe storyline (post Zartan, the shape shifting Aussie, and circa the time of the serpent faced Emperor guy made of Attila the Hun’s DNA when the TV show and Hasbro started to dictate the book’s storylines—to its severe detriment). But, yeah, Hitler was completely nuts. And all he had was the largest, fiercest army known to man.
Saddam has a broken down crew of unmotivated recruits and the remnants of his strong Republican guard. But the thing is, a maniac these days doesn’t need endless columns of Panzer tanks and the Luftwaffe. Even Cobra Commander knew that a nuclear device (or one that could somehow control the weather) was enough to cow the world.
So, in a suggestion from my previous blabbering, we need to fight the wars we can win before they metastasize into something a little hairier. You know, like North Korea and Iran.
Brinkmanship is a game that can only be played by those who’ve got themselves a convincing brink.
You could argue that Saddam is well contained with the eyes of the world firmly on his country and opinion strongly and almost unanimously against his regime, albeit if not America’s unilateral plans to jam 12,000 lb bombs up his ass.
I repudiate all such notions that this is Gulf War II. This is simply the endgame of the same war begun by Poppa Bush in 1991. Saddam never acceded to the conditions of the ceasefire and has brazenly continued to advance his WMD programs. Can’t really blame him, really. He was dumbfounded that he was still in power—a power that rests entirely in his ability to kill his enemies, scare the rest of the population and eventually to possess those Ws of MD that will grant him a de facto seat at the world diplomacy table.
9/11 has only made more immediate all of the clear and present dangers that we’ve willfully ignored for years in favor of the dot com good life and (un)reality television while occasionally lobbing cruise missiles at empty tents in the Afghan dessert.
And yeah, while American military intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in the movies, I still trust the raw data being consumed by the big brains in high places. Are you crass enough, cynical enough to believe that anyone, even someone as simple-minded as GWB (the president, not the Hudson River crossing), would send his country to war just for his Texas oil interests? There are too many respectable players in this game for that to be the only true stake. I mean, Nixon was a conniving, egomaniacal rat bastard motherfucker who had lots of despicable reasons for churning bodies all over Vietnam and Cambodia, but can anyone argue that he didn’t see communism in S.E. Asia as a genuine threat? Can even you, in retrospect really say that while the cost was severe on so many fronts actual and psychological, that the Cold War in all of it’s pockmarked ignominy (and dare I say, success?) wasn’t a legitimate reaction to a legitimate threat? Again, I digress therefore I am.
Back to Saddam.
He’s gotta go. I follow the Bush camp’s philosophy that this isn’t about disarmament, but regime change. There is no way to prove he doesn’t have these weapons. You can’t prove a negative. And you can’t find evidence of something in a country the size of Iraq. Not with five guys and a humvie. Not with all the time to obfuscate and shove things under deep rugs. I can’t tell you how easy it was to vanish something as fundamental to my life as rolling papers in an apartment the size of your Shadowlawn Drive bathtub, much less a little bit of VX nerve gas and anthrax in a vast dessert.
Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better. I’m more concerned with the precedent this sets in the eyes of the world than anything. America: the aggressor. But it’s hard, if not impossible to convince people of the virtue of this war beforehand. I’m sure Europe was just as cautious and thumb-twiddling in the months and years while Adolph was passing curious laws and passing out yellow stars, hanging out on the border near the Sudetenland and then eventually re-districting downtown Warsaw.
In some people’s eyes America has always been a bullying aggressor. You can’t imagine my frustration dealing with the well-educated, seemingly intelligent Namibian chucklehead who couldn’t see the difference between American “oppressive” economic foreign policy and a crack terrorist attack on U.S. soil using commercial aircraft.
She sees American capitalism and exploitive forays into developing nations as pure evil. OK. There is much inequity in the world. The have-nots suffer greatly when Americans institute tariffs to protect American farmers and similar such measures. We place sanctions on unfriendly governments to get them in line and only end up hurting their innocent citizens. We support dictators and shady regimes when convenient and attempt to topple them when we can to replace them with friendlier dictators and sunnier shady regimes. Arrogance is never welcome in polite society.
And to that, I say we are still the best and go fuck yourselves. Capitalist industrialization under democracy, while problematic is still the best system going. The world will always have problems. There were shitloads of problems long before America existed. I seem to recall some of them that even predate Billy Joel’s history lesson ditty. I know virtually jack shit about economics, but it seems that the way out of some of this inequity is to further expand this system, not for us to ignore the world and keep our products and markets to ourselves. Make more haves and continue to work and improving the lot of the have-nots. Don’t get all pissy if your country hasn’t produced anything of value to the world, ever. Or in the case of France, since the Renaissance.
And I don’t have any answers for America’s tendency to suck up the world’s resources while developing countries wallow in poverty. Or our hypocritical political endorsements. But I’m pretty sure it’s not gonna be the U.S. sounding a full retreat from world markets and politics. I’m convinced the world needs a superpower at the moment. And I’m pretty sure that our default setting has always been isolationist. Everyone please just shut up, take care of yourselves (like we did) and let me watch “American Idol.” But the world is too small and integrated these days. We need to be more careful whose toes we are stepping on and whose girlfriends we steal with a wink and a smile.
And the hell with all that. Point is, you’ve mapped out the worst-case scenario. People had similar concerns about Afghanistan, and while not a perfect coup by any measurement, it wasn’t Armageddon either. What if the brief surgical bombing campaign cripples the air defenses and command and control capacity in the predicted matter of days, Special Forces (no doubt already in country) take out other major obstacles for the lightening tactics expected from the north and south, most Iraqi GI Mustafas quickly surrender to join the new America-led occupying police forces, Saddam’s generals aren’t crazy enough to carry out default orders to use chemical weapons, Sharon somehow is restrained from retaliating for the 4 SCUDs that eventually impact somewhere in Tel Aviv causing causalities, Baghdad quickly surrenders amid rumors of Saddam’s death or defection rather than face months of siege and starvation, Saddam attempts to flee the country and is eventually apprehended by Syrian authorities that falsely promised him a safe exile, massive amounts of chemical and biological agents are confiscated and a burgeoning nuclear program snuffed, the country is split into 5 equal sovereignties that will fight among themselves for decades after the U.S. pulls out but under the careful eye of a new U.N. peacekeeping force stocked heavily with U.S. manpower after we promise to never, ever do something like this again without permission? Or until the next time we really, really have to.
In it’s entirety, it’s an unlikely scenario. (And in several incidences, patently wrongheaded) But clearly as unlikely as any worst-case scenario playing out to form. Or as unlikely as the 1999 Rams coming out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl followed by the equally unlikely 2000 Ravens and the (did this really happen?) 2001 Tom Brady-led New England Patriots.
And all of this might be easier for me to endorse since I certainly ain’t gonna be deployed in a forward position in the Iraqi dessert with friendly fire zipping past my cowardly head. And I don’t know anyone currently in the military. But my friends and family are currently in harm’s way—even if it’s harm from an ominous distance. And so am I, as a walking and talking American target in S.E. Asia.
Anyway, and fuck all if my opinions are any more valid than Richard Gere’s, that gerbil-stuffing shampoo-head. I apologize after the fact for my party-crashing discourse whose genesis is twofold: Fold one is that the well educated, opinionated and conversant American couple I worked with has vamoosed for a teaching gig in the lovely neighboring country of Burma (Myanmar) run by a delightfully ruthless, stifling, drug-running military junta. Leaving me with two friendly Canadians who, sadly, are 21-year old high school grads and not nearly as stimulating in the talking department. Not even about hockey, if you can believe it. It’s not their fault, of course, (or yours), but in a world that like pointillist painting, makes less and less sense the closer I look at it, I need to bounce ideas off of someone or something a little more pliant. (This metaphor is hopelessly muddled, but then this is singularly appropriate to my state of mind) And the second fold concerns my recent obsessive reading of HST’s “Fear and Loathing in America,” which I picked up on my last trip to Bangkok (on your recommendation if I recall correctly) and it has kindled a heretofore unknown yen for prolonged and turgid correspondence.
Still wondering what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding,
Sun, 9 Mar 2003 22:54:33 -0800 (PST)
Oh, I'm convinced there will be a war, too. It's simply not a good idea to pull out your dick, wave it around for a year and then put it back in your boxers. (Unless you're Pee-Wee Herman and fella, enough is enough.) Any compromise short of war would be viewed as an empty threat by the U.S. and cripple any further use of war as a necessary dimplomatic cudgel.
I'm not convinced nation-building through war is the greatest avenue, either. But we don't have this option with N. Korea and Iran. They've already got (at least some) nuclear capability, and in the case of the nutjob running Pyongang(sp?), enough conventional weapons to level most of Seoul.
One of the first rules of war is to fight only the battles you can win. We "won" in Afghanistan almost without fighting. Iraq should be decisive, if only costly (see below). Iran and NK are going to be much more sensitive and difficult problems.
It's funny, but reading the local papers here, I can't help but think that Kim Jung Il is completely bonkers to be provoking America like he is. But then again, he's been backed into a corner by GWB's Axis o' Evil speech so maybe insanity is a logical reaction.
And your letter explained the logistical difficulty of fighting this war as well. It is obvious to almost everyone that Saddam will hole up in Bahgdad using the Iraqi people as involuntary hostages to a U.S. seige that could become a bloodbath at best and a PR nightmare at worst. Bad PR, being the euphemism for ramptant anti-Americanism and exceeded terrorist recruitment quotas throughout the world.
But do you think this is worth the risk? I'm glad that you don't sound so sure. Anyone who professes clarity on the matter is, to me, a very scary person. There is no way to predict any outcome of such a complicated mess. I mean, even for the most informed insider, it's impossible to predict the outcome of NFL games, much less seasons and Superbowls. Even if you could forecast the military results of this war, there is no way to guage fallout concerning the larger concerns for our safety as Americans in an unbalanced and itchy world.
In this case of Iraq, we should easily win the war. It's just a matter of the cost. In U.S. lives, in non-military Iraqi lives, in billions of dollars for the invasion, billions and billions (forgive me, Carl Sagan) more for the occupation and reconstruction, in anti-American sentiment, and in unachieved goals if Saddam were to likely escape like Senor Bin Shithead. Or cornered, and like you said, more liable to push whatever WMD button he's got.
And then comparing this cost to the impossible to forecast hindsight we wouldn't have if Saddam went on biz as usual and a bomb just happened to find it's way to some blind cleric in Jersey City and his cousin's backpack on the top of the Empire State building, prior to a blinding explosion that peels the paint off of the upper west side and gives the residents of Soho a permanent orange afro.
But then again, what do I know?
I remember having some optimism about this war.
What? You don't believe me, do you? Well, you might be right, because as a life-long NY Jets fan, I have a reserve of cynicism rivaled only by Iraq's untapped oil reserves. But I thought it might be educational (for me, mostly) to re-visit a series of email exchanges I conducted with a journalist buddy of mine who had recently gotten back from covering the prewar buildup in Iraq for the Arizona Republic. (And who is now a brand-new father with a son whose name is curiously similar to his dog, but who deserves hearty congratulations nonetheless)
They are long. And ranting. But there is something of at least nostalgic value in remembering what it was like before all of those well-perched misgivings slid into shithole we now call Iraq.
Thu, 6 Mar 2003 21:22:28 -0800 (PST)
Hey, welcome back Ye Olde Jew in Dangerous Places.
I was reading a little bit of your War Spring Training reporting, and I could definitely relate to the anti-American sentiments of...well, just about everyone who isn't American or Thai. When I go to a touristy beach around here, any conversation I strike up with any non-local turns into an anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-imperialist, anti American hegemony, anti-me screed. Just last weekend, some friends and I were verbally bludgeoned by a Brit chick and her Namibian friend.
Now, I'm no war-hawk (and my muddled opinions on the current situation appear below), but as someone who was in the Lincoln Tunnel when a 727 smacked into one of the buildings not far from my apartment and whose cousin was disintegrated in that building's collapse and whose friends lost friends and family, when someone insists on referring to that event as "simply a tragedy," I'm almost at a loss to contain my fury. No, Miss British twit, this was a well-orchestrated, precision ATTACK carried out with ruthless success. And shit if we can just sit around and wait for something worse...
And when someone from AFRICA of all places criticizes my country's "brand of democracy" I'm wondering how jolly good things are going in the land of genocidal warlords, crippling corruption, famine and AIDS.
But, I digress. What are your (unedited) thoughts on the matter. You taking sides? Or are you resigned to the holy-fuck-world-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket posture I tend to adopt most often? Inquiring minds want to know.
As for me, the more I read about it, the more confused I get. One second, I'm thinking, damn, we really need to get rid of this guy, shit is gonna get worse before it gets better anyway, and if we leave Saddam alone there is too much risk he will disseminate weapons to some other really bad people who don't like us too much. Or Israel.
All it takes is one chemical attack or dirty bomb in NYC and the world's economy circles the toilet. Do we wait until thousands of Americans die before we do something? An unpopular decision isn't always a wrong decision and blah, blah Armageddoncakes.
And then I'm thinking that much of the world don't like us too much, and is it a good idea to kill innocent people and become a preemptive aggressor against a Muslim nation that will polarize even more nutcases to strap on explosives or whatever? And war is never a really good thing if it can be avoided. What allows us to value the potential death of American lives over the certain death of Iraqi lives?
And maybe Saddam is contained--he would risk anihilation if he's caught using or passing a nuke. The bigger battle is one to change the hearts and minds of large groups of people and I'm not sure aggression is the right answer.
And then again, the only thing extremist fuckheads understand is violence. A threat not backed with force is an empty threat.
So I'm realistically resigned to the fact that the ball is rolling downhill and unlikely to stop short of war. Still, a little piece of me is hopeful that we are simply posturing ourselves (with the legitimate intention to fight if necessary) just short of war to prove that we aren't kidding about disarmament. Send the carriers, planes, high-tech toys, troops and everything. Then hope he backs the fuck down and lets us run all over his country looking for stuff without firing a shot.
That's really the only way to find weapons short of destroying his country and taking it over. Too many places to hide the shit.
But the problem isn't just Iraq. It's Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Israel & Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Al Qaida, and every disaffected Arab youth in the world with nothing but blood memory and hatred to motivate him in this life.
So, how's the weather in sunny Arizona these days?
Monday, November 15, 2004
Hmmm...These are the same people that worked to ensure that Bush could claim the credit for not allowing another terrorist attack on US soil. When the new all-Bush team (of newly trained 4th graders, perhaps?) takes over our most crucial means of sifting through foreign terrorist threats, we should all feel much safer, no?
Isn't it interesting that no one at the CIA seems to support anything the Bush administration is doing to fight terrorism? Isn't it interesting that career non-partisan patriots like Richard Clarke and former anonymous author Michael Scheuer write scathing books and quit their posts to denounce the stupidty of our current leadership?
Jesus. And all I wanted to write tonight was a list of songs about screwing. But then there's W., running this country with the confidence and competence of Jets coach Herman Edwards running the 2-minute drill.
Inspired by Nick Hornby, I wil offer here a list of top five songs in a given category. Your mission, should you likely choose to ignore it, will be to top my top five with five better tunes of your own. Judging will be arbitrary and obvious. Category definitions are strickly enforced (Sex does not mean love). Winner receives a shiny new donkey.
And now, with only this bit of further ado (and some more just 'cuz I like typing ado) is My All-Time, Top Five Best Songs About the Act of Sex:
5. I Have Been In You, Frank Zappa
4. Rock Steady, Aretha Franklin
3. Brown Sugar, The Rolling Stones
2. You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC
1. Sqeezebox, The Who
Saturday, November 13, 2004
After Sept. 11, 2001, I had faith that Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld and maybe even Dick Cheney belonged in that group of super-thinkers. Or, at the very least, they had access to better information than I did to help steer our president on the right course.
All this, of course, was before it became clear that Bush's cabal only used information to support their pre-determined course of action. Iraq was on the menu not long after The Supreme Republican Court handed Bush the presidency. And even if they made the wrong decisions based on good intentions, it would be damn hard to congratulate them for flawless execution of the plan. (Or for bothering to create a plan to begin with) Even brilliant conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan made this argument in his reluctant, tepid endorsement of John Kerry before the election.
Maybe this last statement doesn't jive with your take on things. Maybe you didn't read Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, (advertised proudly on the White House web site) in which Cheney and friends were revealed by their own words on 9/12/01 as Iraq hawks flying in the face of the logical winds that blew toward Afghanistan and Al Qaida. Maybe you think you can't make an omelet without breaking a few hundred thousand Arab skulls--er, eggs.
But some things should be indisputable. Which makes this election all the more disturbing. In his Nov. 8 NY Times column, Bob Herbert wrote:
I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the
election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International
Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of
President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion. [boldface mine]
This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.
The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."
So my question is this: When so many people are clearly not in possession of the facts, who is to blame? President Bush, who is still making rosy statements about the democratic wonderland that is Iraq and smearing any dissent as anti-American propaganda that provides aid and comfort to the enemy? The Democrats, led by John Kerry (remember him?) who have been ineffectual in forging a coherent message of opposition? The media, that treat politics like a game of strategy and zingers to be parrotted back to the people--with complete disregard for the concept that facts are by their nature, subject to empirical evidence and that lies can actually be called lies?
Nah. I blame stupid Americans. The kind that made Home Improvement the number one TV show for, like five years. The kind that weren't convinced that an NFL Hall of Famer who bleeds all over a double-murder site and his car and his home amounts to substantial evidence of his guilt. The kind that don't think invading Muslim countries might, just might, make a few more desperate religious folks a wee bit more homicidally angry at us.
Here's hoping they don't get what they deserve.
But then, maybe you'd be a little upset, too, if your peoples' Moses wandered for 40 years in the desert, made it to The Promised Land, and then--because he got more than a little high on all the fame of being a revolutionary wanderer--refused any reasonable deal, continued to sanction and sponsor terrorism, and ultimately decided to set up a corrupt camp for himself, virtually declaring: "Let my people go to hell!"
Not like any Palestinian would see it this way. But then, they are probably as blinded by celebrity as so many eulogy-writers in the American press, who rightfully admire Arafat's success in focusing world attention the Palestinian cause while shamefully understating or ignoring his methods.
Except for folks like Thomas Friedman in the NY Times (registration needed--but just go to bugmenot) and this Boston Globe Op-Ed by Jeff Jacoby that spells things out nicely.
Friday, November 12, 2004
--Cabbies who can’t make change of a $20 bill
--People who try to hail occupied & off-duty cabs
--Women who wear pantyhose with open-toe shoes
--Bad calls made even after instant replay review
--That “Men Are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus” Guy
--The US War on Drugs
--The health consequences of eating too much fat & cheese
--“Cats” (The Broadway Play)
--People who don’t watch where they’re walking
--Skeevy-looking Russian 20something businessmen in Italian vested suits with sandals, Beatles circa 1964-style mop-top hair, pointy sideburns & sunglasses on overcast days that try to talk like Charlie Sheen in “Wall Street” (OK, maybe it’s just this one guy I keep seeing on the bus)
--The terms “corporate culture” and “proactive”
--Lime green clothing
--Too much of a good thing
--Games 6 & 7 of the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Championship
--Network news anchor banter
--People who don’t tip
--NBC for mishandling and canceling “Freaks & Geeks”
Here, for no particular reason, in no particular order, are the things I most hate:
--Hillary Rodham Clinton
--Anyone appearing on MTV's Spring Break
--Al Sharpton when he's race-baiting and not just being cute
--Anyone who thinks OJ is Innocent
--All those who represented OJ in court to boost their careers and continue still, to defend him in public
--Hollywood Blockbuster "Event" Movies
--Larry King's boot-licking interview style
--The emaciated figures of Courtney Cox-Arquette and Calista Flockhart
--Anyone who thinks it's ironic for it to rain on your wedding day
--The writing on ER after the 4th season and post-Sorkin The West Wing
--The New York Yankees
--The New York Giants
--The New York Rangers
--Congressional Fat Cats
--Mark David Chapman
--Being a Jet Fan
--The Music of Yoko Ono
--Music Sung With An Excessive Hick TWANG
--Music Made Without Live Instruments
--Music Made Without SOUL
--Music Made With P. Diddy (See Above)
--Spaghetti With Ketchup
--Ketchup & Eggs
--Canned Tuna Fish
--Every SNL/Lorne Michaels-produced film other than The Blues Brothers and Wayne's World
--Crap left in the sink
--Cellophane wrappers that stick to the candy
--Paulie Shore Movies
--Beepers/Cell phones in movie theaters
--Kathie Lee Gifford
--People who speak from Ignorance
Well, I'd tell you here, but that would defeat the point of this article. I think you might need to register for the site, but that's a bunch of crap. For this and any such fascist tactics you encounter on the web (NY Times and LA Times come to mind), just head on over to Bugmenot, type in the URL of the offending site, and receive a username and password that will allow you access without providing any personal info. Storm the Bastile, baby!
Also in this week's annual Forward 50+ 1, meet the Jews that run the world. From Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Douglas Feith, and Arlen Specter to Jon Stewart and dozens of obscure communal and organizational leaders. Oh. And Madonna. Why? Um. Because she said so, I guess.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
A collection of parents reading their sons' and daughters' words before dying in Iraq, the film should be mandatory viewing for any American. Whether you believe in this war or not, whether you voted for Bush or not, whether you feel safer or not, I think we can all stand to see the human face on the true cost of our actions.
And yes, they are our actions even if you don't personally support them. The families and friends of the thousands of Iraqis who have died for every single US soldier and the fundamentalists who will exploit them aren't going to necessarily distinguish pro-war Americans from anti-war Americans or red states from blue states when they are plotting ways to kill Americans in retaliation. If you think this war hasn't raised the level of desperation, anti-American hatred, and excuses for violence against us, then you might as well think that the Jets and Giants are better off without Chad Pennington and Michael Strahan.
And yeah, war is hell. It's messy. American soldiers aren't to blame for anything that goes on over there as far as I'm concerned. And I believe that our so-called leaders, while completely deluded and dangerously incompetent, have noble (or at least not patently evil) intentions. But we owe it to ourselves, these soldiers, and their families to bear witness to the consequences.
Huh? What's that? Oh, I see. You're wondering if I'm talking about the departure of Attorney General John Ashcroft or the more permanent departure of Yasir Arafat. Does it really matter?
Both are cause for measured celebration. I mean, it's probably a little crass to equate an international terrorist and religious zealot blinded by fear and hatred and who has little regard for the future and safety of his own people...with Yasir Arafat. That crusty shitbag probably deserves a little better, right?
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Two quick samples, this first one from Miss Christina Rogers of the New York University Graduate School of Journalism:
Yes, this is just what i [sic] have been waiting for all my life. RollingBones--a new look at the same old, same old. Glad you found something to do with all the spare time aside from you know...looking for jobs and gracing the eyes of obscure jewish [sic] readers with your stylized prose. How do I comment on this mofo, yo?And from Alana Newhouse, Arts & Culture editor of the Forward:
Just what the blogosphere needed, another ranting Jew. Mazl Tov!
Well let me just say that I am touched by the outpouring of snarky support and overwhelming indifference to the chorus of raving retards that sing their own grating, O-Townesque blogging tunes. Let it be said here and now that my brand of grating, raving retardation will more closely resemble the jazz stylings of Billie Holiday or Abby Lincoln. Or maybe just sound as enjoyable as a holiday in the Lincoln Tunnel.
The point is, that you should feel welcome to dip your feet in these waters, splash some back in my face, and make farting noises with your armpits.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
See: Janis Joplin rocking on stage like a tornado earthquake of heartbreak two months before her death, Rick Danko in the train's fully loaded bar car howling in her ear with boyish drunken enthusiasm while Jerry Garcia takes a beautifully sloppy solo and declares, "Janis, I've loved you ever since I first met you." Something to see, for sure.
And there's the curiosity of how one of the Flying Burrito Brothers looks suspiciously like San Francisco Giants client services dude extraordinaire Rocky Koplik with an afro. Anyway, check it out. Just to see Janis do "Cry Baby." On a 10-point scale, it starts at 11 and just explodes from there.
But, as always, don't just take my word for it.
There are other gems of wisdom, but those are the most secure.
So if that satisfies, you really won't need to check into this blog all that often. You'll likely only get more than the recommended daily dosage of what Dan Marcus affectionately (I assume) calls Harrisonalysis: how I see the world circling the toilet bowl and whether it's gonna clog the pipes on the way down.
Feel free to join the discussion. And keep the kids away...