Monday, June 28, 2004

Back From Vacation , A Few Random Thoughts

I've been off for a week or so, visiting the family, so here are a few random thoughts:

Michael Moore is #1 at the box office, which is the first time a documentary has ever come in first. Granted, his competition (White Chicks"?) wasn't too fierce, but his screen average, $27,558, is fucking phenomenal. Bush/Cheney should be sweating.

I consider myself well informed. I check Google news, Drudge, and Yahoo news daily to get the headlines, as well as several bloggers who comment frequently on the news. My family doesn't; when one of them would ask me something, whether something obscure or if I could find it on the Internet, I would usually reply, "Sure, I could google it," and be looked at with blank stares.

I am not in any way say I'm somehow smarter or more well informed than my family, but it made me think. I get probably 90% of my news from the Internet. Almost all of the "revelations" from Michael Moore's movie I have read before, and have seen them fact checked and debated over the Internet. For people who don't use the Internet, some of these things would be quite new.

Also, since I don't have cable, watching cable news made me realize that certain stories that the blogosphere couldn't give two shits about are featured quite prominately on TV news. The prime example is the Scott Peterson trial. When I watched FOX News on Saturday night, at least fifteen minutes were devoted to the two most obnoxious, loud-mouthed lawyers debating the minutiae of the case. I am at a total loss for how this particular murder case ever got national attention.

One last thing. In Rapid City, South Dakota (where I was staying), everybody who had a flag had it at half-mast. Unless these people were really big fans of Ray Charles, I assume they are still mourning Ronald Reagan. Christ, the guy died three weeks ago; was he that popular? Maybe Michael Moore should be sweating.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Somethiing Old . . .

I used to have a blog on a different site, which coincidentally enough, was called pantherpundit. Since my account is about to die, I thought I'd transfer one bizare piece I once wrote on it:



I have no idea why this popped up in my head, but here it goes:

What if Superman decided to marry Lois Lane and start a family? Let us approach this scientifically. For instance, how many chromosomes does Superman have? Having an extra chromosome causes a great deal of problems in humans.

Then again, maybe their DNA is compatible enough and they would produce something like a mule. Mules, of course, are the offspring of a donkey and a horse. After going to this site, I learned that a lot of what my high school biology teacher taught me about mules was incorrect. Mules can be male or female (he claimed they were always female). Also, he claimed mules are always sterile. That was closer, but actually, according to www.lovelongears.com, "A VERY few (about 1 in 1 million) mare mules have had foals, but these are VERY, very rare," which is helpful, in case you're too stupid to realize that one in a million is "VERY, very rare."

I'll get back to Superman in a second, but damn it, this is science! Did you also know that a dolphin and a (probably not a real big) whale can mate and produce a wolphin? Or that a tiger and a lion can mate and produce (depending on the genders of the parents) either a liger or a tigon? BTW, those ligers (male lion, female tiger) look meaner than shit, and, "on their hind legs, [they] stand approximately 12 feet tall," making them "possibly the largest cat in the world."

So maybe Superman and Lois Lane might decide to get married but not to have children. But how do we know that Superman's sperm cells can't shoot lasers through the wall of a condom, thereby--

Ah, my meds are finally taking effect. What the hell was I writing about? Oh, Lord.


Well, I'm off my meds now, so get ready for more insanity!

Friday, June 18, 2004

The Lone Voice in the Wilderness

Roy Edroso asks, "Why do so many conservatives get invited to liberal parties?" For example:

I was the recent lone conservative at dinner with seven Bush-loathing liberals, who respect me even while not understanding my views, and this topic came up, America and Christianity. Since President Bush was outvoted seven to one over dinner, who were his supporters and why?

I explained that the U.S. was a Christian country, by numbers, as your author states, and by the Judeo-Christian humanistic view of individual freedoms, and that W was a Christian, even if of the born-again variety. The diners had never quite thought of this, and were stopped for a while, although momentum kept them loathing nonetheless.


Maybe I can help. Most of these conservatives are writing from New York or California, where conservatives are subject to curfews and are forced to drink out of designated water fountains. It is truly amazing that this repressed minority has been able to elect Ronald Reagan, Rudy Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I invite them all to where I live, in Texas. Here, when we aren't shooting our guns, slapping our bibles, or telling our women to get in the kitchen (if they know what's good for them), we like to invite one of our liberal sociology majoring friends from Austin to one of our barbecues and have him shock us into silence when he spouts some nonsense such as a woman should have the right to choose. When that wears off, we go get our guns and give him a five minute head start.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Neo-Scientist

I caught a little Rush Limbaugh yesterday while driving around. He was waxing about how, when looking out on the ocean during the storm, the moon came out over the horizon and reflected on the ocean. Rush described it as sublime, and mused there was no way man could create a spectacle such as that.

For a second there, I thought the old guy was going to meditate on the beauty of nature, like some modern talk radio Wordsworth. But, no, it was a segue into a political rant. Rush argued that because man couldn't create such a beautiful moon reflection as he saw the other night, there is no way he could create such environmental problems such as global warming (I'm not kidding, that's what he said).

While Rush is an idiot, there is a disturbing trend to use pseudo-science to achieve political ends. The obvious example is Creationism. I once read a book that argued that evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, in that it was impossible for life to go from simpler forms to more complex forms because of entropy. How exactly a fetus develops into a human being was conveniently left out, because that would reveal the author had no fucking clue what he was talking about. My brother, who has a PhD in physics, has told me stories of conversations of where someone read somewhere that either the Big Bang has been disproven or that the earth is only 10,000 years old.

There have always been charlatans who have dressed up their bogus theories with pseudo-science. As science gets more complicated, it's harder for the layman to know what the truth is. My biggest problem,however, is the tendency to decry facts you don't like with: "Oh, it's that liberal media," and go on living in a shell.

BTW, I certainly don't think every damn thing scientists say is correct and we must believe it as if it came down from Mt. Sinai (for instance, I think a lot of the global warming scare talk is based on a) lack of reliable historic data, and b) computer models). I'm ranting about Rush and his legions who discredit science when it doesn't fit their worldviews, and when they do it in a ridiculous manner.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Realpolitick!

I've been reading Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy for the past week. I recommend it highly. Though Henry has a tendency to repeat himself every couple of pages (a good editor could have made this a great book), it is a useful introduction to the history of Europe in the last 300 or so years, a very good analysis of WWI and WWII (at least from the diplomatic standpoint), and a great treatise on the global politics of the past 50 years.

Kissinger's analysis of American foreign policy is pretty interesting. He says because we have no real threats on our borders (at least until the Soviets developed nuclear weapons) and we've had an excellent track of democracy, we tend to be extremely idealistic in our foreign affairs. He isn't, of course, talking about the 19th century, since in the War of 1812 we tried to conquer Canada, or the Mexican War, where we took half of their country away, and we sure as hell weren't nice to the Indians. But we eventually reached our middle period, where we had no threats and two oceans between any potential adversaries. We could afford to be idealists.

A quick aside: the Civil War left a huge scar on this country and is the war in which the most Americans lost their lives (some half a million dead out of population of about 30 million). I bring this up because Europe learned nothing from our horrible war. They thought (based on the Franco-Prussian war) that war was bloody but quick. One of the main reasons that the assassination of an Archduke led to 7 million dead people was that the European leaders believed that who mobilized first would win, so that when one country did mobilize, that ended the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

I guess that wasn't a real quick aside. Anyway, Wilson decided WWI would be the war to end all wars. His centerpiece was the League of Nations, which he couldn't get Congress to agree to, and was even more impotent than the U.N.

But we didn't lose our idealism. We signed the Kellogg-Briand Treaty that outlawed war. Unfortunately, that didn't stop Hitler.

Oh, back to my point. I don't think we should have ever got into Vietnam, and I don't think we should have got into Iraq. Why? As much as I love democracy, I am not convinced it is exportable. Our fearless leader once said as much.

On the other hand, as stupid our policy in Vietnam was, I understand we couldn't just get out and let the communists take over. It would have made our geopolitical situation intolerable. Likewise, while the U.S. claims we will hand over control to the Iraqis, no one thinks (aside from the editors of NRO) that means the troops are coming home.

I am a bit torn. I am totally on the realpoltick side. I am very cynical, but I use idealistic arguments to make a point. What some of the cool kids said was that this would pressure the other countries of the Middle East to be more democratic, or at least, less anti-American. Of course, it would help if our ally didn't decide to bulldoze people's houses.

Anyway, the argument ran that a democracy in Iraq would make some of the other countries around it abandon tyranny and adopt pro-American democracy. It might work, or more likely, the fucking country will disenagrate into civil war.

I'm sorry, this post went too long. Because this was turning into a Den Beste post, I'll end with a parody of him:

(4,000 words which display a broad range of knowledge spanning a number of subjects, combined with smart analysis and interesting insights, leading up to-)

It is then impossible to escape the conclusion that we must invoke NATO's Article V and conduct a global war against France.

(Sound of thousands of readers interested by preceding technical discussion simultaneously going "Wait- what the fuck?")

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another dissatisfied Customer

Former General Anthony Zinni has penned a book with the help of none other than Tom Clancy decrying the Bush administration (via Kevin Drum). I haven't read the book, but as a conservative who cannot stand Bush, I wonder how long he can just claim all these people who worked under him are just "disgruntled ex-employees" (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and hell, even though he still works for him, Colin Powell).

The excuse is wearing thin. These aren't a bunch of leftover career government liberals out to destroy Bush. They are conservatives who think he is incompetent and disengaged. I realized that when Bush admitted he doesn't read newspapers, but gets briefed on what's written by his aides. (though I admit, keeping up with Luann's love life might require some help). But I don't trust a President who gets his news spoon-fed to him and requires free speech zones (how fucking Orwellian is that?) at his public appearances to really know what the hell he's doing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Our War President

Warbloggers increasingly claim that no matter how far right Bush goes, they will vote for him because he is our best defense against terrorism (as in we will all be reciting the Koran if Kerry is elected). I believe this is bullshit, but what do I know? However, two items have come to my attention in the past week that show Bush isn't the brightest bulb when it comes to protecting us from evil. To wit:

The first has to do with Abu Musab Zarqawi, the mastermind behind the beheading of Nick Berg. It turns out, the U.S. knew this bastard was in Iraq and had opportunities to kill him, but the Bush White House scuttled proposals to do so because they were afraid it would undermine their crusade to topple Saddam. You should read the entire article, but the important parts are:

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council. . .

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq. . >

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.


I guess, in the neo-con's skewed world view, it was more important to keep the illusion that Saddam had a close relationship with al-Qaida than to actually do anything about al-Qaida. So for this brilliant policy we have a decapitated American, a broken country on the verge of civil war, and a situation in the Middle East that will take thirty years to rectify. I am sure glad the adults are back in charge now.

Well, look at the time! I'll have to post about how Bush's stupid diplomacy has made the madcap regime of North Korea even more dangerous next time.