The Talking Lion

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sometimes I can't help but punch through walls...

Greg Saunders has a great post at The Talent Show on what Bush is did instead of being there for the people of Louisiana. He compares it to what Bush did during the attacks on September 11th, 2001 (he ran away and hid, like the macho man he is).
With that situation, of course, you could make the argument that Bush was being held back by the Secret Service or that there was enough uncertainty to make the case that traveling to New York or Washington might put the President in danger. (Besides, why rush back when Giuliani is doing a better job for him?) But this is a different matter entirely. The full potential of the levee breaks in New Orleans has been known for almost 24 hours now (3-4 days if you count the warnings over the weekend), yet the President has still been mostly M.I.A. Curious about how he's been spending his day??
Speaking to a crowd of sailors and Marines near San Diego, Bush described the Iraq war and World War II as crucial tests of American resolve in the face of evil. He also painted a grim picture of the consequences of failure, warning that Iraq could turn into an oil-rich haven for international terrorists.
. . .
The president's visit to Naval Air Station North Island was part of a White House effort to shore up support for the war. Recent polls show widespread unease over the war. An Aug. 5-7 Gallup Poll, for example, found that 54 percent of Americans thought the war was a mistake. Still, most Americans said they opposed a quick withdrawal.
And this was all after the levees broke. Thousands of people are missing or dead in what's being called one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history, but the President is still worried about his poll numbers?

Well, Greg, I have good news. Bush does have Louisiana on his mind. I have the proof thanks to CNN:
WACO, Texas (AP) -- President Bush held a video conference about Hurricane Katrina with his top advisers from his Texas ranch Wednesday and then flew over the disaster area en route back to the White House to oversee federal relief efforts.

Bush, who may visit the area later in the week, cut short his working vacation in Texas by two days -- even though aides have long contended that his duties are uninterrupted when he spends time at his ranch in nearby Crawford, which has White House-level communications capability.

...

On his way back to Washington, the president's plane, Air Force One, descended to an altitude of about 5,000 feet to allow Bush to view some of the worst hurricane damage. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that Bush was examining the destruction below from the front left side windows of the plane.

You can't make this stuff up. I bet the people whose houses, businesses and, you know, relatives are submerged are enormously comforted that the president got a chance to take it all in from a very dry 5,000 feet. Filthy motherfucker. Once again, he should be down there, at this new ground zero. As Greg said:
The news coming out of Louisiana has been growing steadily worse since last night and the country could really use a leader right now. Delaying your return to work for something as unimportant as a stump speech isn't gonna cut it.

This all of course, leaves the same taste in my mouth as when he told press that he won't speak to Cindy Sheehan because "it's also important for me to get on with my life".

Have I told you how much I love you, The Onion?

So good:
Genie Grants Scalia Strict Constructionist Interpretation Of Wish

August 31, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC—A genie freed from a battered oil lamp by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia granted the conservative jurist a strict constructionist interpretation of his wish for "a hundred billion bucks" Monday. "Sim sim salabim! Your wish is my command!" the genie proclaimed amid flashes of light and purple smoke, immediately filling the Supreme Court building with a massive herd of wild male antelopes. When Justice Scalia complained that the "bucks" had razed the U.S. Supreme Court building, trampling and killing several of his clerks and bringing traffic in the nation's capital to a standstill for hours, the genie said, "Your honor, your wish is a sacred and unalterable document whose interpretation is not subject to the whims of society and changing social context."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I mean, duh...

Mr. Art Garfunkel got caught with marijuana. Is anyone surprised? No, especially since this is the second time he was caught with it. What is funny is that CNN added this to the end of the story:
Garfunkel's hits with Paul Simon include "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Sound of Silence" and "Scarborough Fair."

Thanks CNN, that's good journalism.

Hmm. I'm speechless...

Well, not exactly. I just don't have anything new to add to what's been said today. Which usually doesn't stop me from posting, it's just I don't feel like it either. So, here are the posts I think are spectacular and wish I wrote first:

Lauren at Feministe makes a great point about a new Texas law that would charge doctors with murder for performing abortions.

The great Dr. PZ Myers has a fantastic post on yesterday's idiot pro-ID column in the Washington Post. More like Intelligent Des-owned. Am I rite?

Greg Saunders at The Talent Show has a quickie that's worth more than the 3-seconds it'll take you to read it.

Anyway. There seems to be a talk-about-music bug going around the blogs I read. And I hear that imitation is the best form of flattery, so I think I'll talk a li'l bit about teh musics.

The year is '99, the last few months before all the computers in the world were supposed to explode. I was a lowly high school sophomore from Fairfax, VA with a penchant for shitty gangsta rap (there are few things funnier/sadder than a suburban brown kid who nods his head to the tin-can bass response of his $20 boombox). I had been into Biggie and Tupac since middle school and after they were killed there was basically nothing redeeming about mainstream rap (and all I could access was what I heard on MTv, sigh).

I was in Spanish II and was talking to this kid, Chris Ballard. He had a blue front tooth. I never knew why; more importantly, I never knew how to ask him about it...I digress. One day for some reason he and I were chatting about music. I had nothing to offer. I liked...sigh...the new Ja Rule song (It's Murdaaaaaaaaaah), he was listening to demo tracks of this and that band I had never even heard of. I didn't even know what the hell a demo was. He told me about Napster.

Free music! Free songs! I got on my family's shitty computer and downloaded Napster. Of course the first things I downloaded were Rage - Guerrila Radio and DMX - Party Up. Sigh. But Napster had a great feature where you could look at the libraries of the people you were downloading from. "Blue_Zebra2342 likes this song I like, maybe I'll like this other song he has by this band I've never heard." And I traveled those libraries for a few months, mostly downloading shit like P.O.D. (sigh) and 311 (not as bad, but they need to stop putting out records). Then I stumbled upon Operation Ivy.

I downloaded Unity by Operation Ivy. I had no idea of what war they wanted to stop or anything else they were talking about. But the music fucking touched me. I fell in love with punk rock, and Napster allowed me to gorge on these new fucking awesome sounds. Fucken. I downloaded everything I could get my digital hands on that sounded like it could be punk. I could throw away shitty music and keep the good stuff. I could, without spending a cent or depending on VJs or DJs, build and hone my musical taste.

I transformed from a kid who was obsessed with basketball and desperately wanted Air Jordans, into someone who was essentially freed from being told what to like by corporate higher-ups in charge of mainstream media. I mean, to a large extent, thats not true (are any of us truly free from them?) but I felt liberated.

Hmmm. This is all a tad self-indulgent (hmmm, I've said "a tad" twice now, does anyone still say that phrase anymore?). Whatever. Let me just end this by thanking Napster and Operation Ivy for my musical rebirth. I would also like to thank Radiohead but that's a story for another time, kids.

Monday, August 29, 2005

DOD is a bunch of jerks...

Ok. A high level civillian contracting official in the Army Corp. of Engineers has been removed from her job.
Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, commander of the Army Corps, told Bunnatine H. Greenhouse last month that she was being removed from the senior executive service, the top rank of civilian government employees, because of poor performance reviews.

Poor performance reviews. Ok. That sounds like a legitimate reason to release someone. If she's doing their job poorly, she should go, right? Who is this Greenhouse lady anyway?

Apparently she is a high ranking civillian who is in charge of contracts and she didn't play ball. And in this administration, if you don't play ball (see: bend over and say thank you after), you're are taken out.
Greenhouse came to prominence last year when she went public with her concerns over the volume of Iraq-related work given to Halliburton by the Corps without competition. The Houston-based oil services giant already had a competitively awarded contract to provide logistics support for the military in the Middle East and was awarded a no-bid contract to repair Iraq oil fields on the eve of the war there in 2003.

Greenhouse complained internally about that contract. Last fall she started giving interviews to national publications. And in June she testified before a Democrat-sponsored Capitol Hill event on contracting in Iraq.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, Greenhouse said at the Democratic forum.

She said the independence of the Corps' contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. "I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong."


And there you have it, the real reason she is being demoted. The Pentagon when asked about the event has remained mute. And of course, the desicion is being appealled.

Greenhouse's attorney, Michael D. Kohn, appealed the decision Friday in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying it broke an earlier commitment to suspend the demotion until a "sufficient record" was available to address her allegations.

The Army said last October that it would refer her complaints to the Defense Department's inspector general. The failure to abide by the agreement and the circumstances of the removal "are the hallmark of illegal retaliation," Kohn wrote to Rumsfeld. He said the review Strock cited to justify his action "was conducted by the very subjects" of Greenhouse's allegations, including the general.


So yeah, the appeals are being heard by the same people that want her gone. I'm surprised the DOD waited this long to axe her, perhaps they're thinking about new contracts and can't afford pesky do-gooders with a penchant for blowing the whistle on every wrong thing they do.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Motherfucking Lynksys

Buy a vowel, you motherfucker Lynksys (shh, for the purposes of this post there is no "i" in lynksys). Basically I havent had the internets for all of this week (thanks to a malfuntioning wireless card and shitty tech support(at least, being Indian, I'm used to the thick accented english)).

I have posts to write (Scalpel Kinch awaits fingers ever-ready to respond (with paragraphs and paragraphs that usually completely miss the effing point, but hey, (s)he's a sweetheart) to my response to his/her response, I'm sure). Let's get started shall we?


Oh wait. I have to enjoy my last weekend before classes. I'll post in a second, hold your horses.

(what(are (we (doing (algerbra (here))))))?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First Day of Classes

For U.Va. and maybe some other places, today marks the beginning of the fall semester. Those of you who are returning to the classroom for the first time since May should check out Eric Cunningham's column in today's Cav Daily

It is awesome and hilarious, as usual.

Also, Cav Daily comics are pretty strong today. Silly Pocahontas, she thought it was just herpes...

The real number of Iraq casualties

The number everyone is throwing out there is 1,800. But that's just the number of soldiers who die in Iraq. There are over 6,000 others who die ont the way to or at a German military hospital after being wounded in Iraq, according to this story:

There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The educated rumor is that the actual death toll is in excess of 7,000. Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded, this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 1,400+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources In addition to the evident falsification of the death rolls, at least 5,500 American military personnel have deserted, most in Ireland but more have escaped to Canada and other European countries, none of whom are inclined to cooperate with vengeful American authorities. (See TBR News of 18 February for full coverage on the mass desertions) This means that of the 158,000 U.S. military shipped to Iraq, 26,000 either deserted, were killed or seriously wounded. The DoD lists currently being very quietly circulated indicate almost 9,000 dead, over 16,000 seriously wounded and a large number of suicides, forced hospitalization for ongoing drug usage and sales, murder of Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers , rapes, courts martial and so on.

There's really not much you can say other than this is another example of the Bush administration blatantly misleading the American people. Ted Rall's comic gets at the heart of how inapproriate and disrespectful it is to make that distinction between dying in Iraq and dying somehwere else after being shot in Iraq.

The 15,000 wounded number is not talked about enough as it is, and it's almost like the message is if you're just shot in Iraq and survive, your not worthy enough to be acknowledged. Or, at least, the fact that you were wounded and survive should not be a cause for concern among the American people, because after all, you did survive.

But also, I think we need to consider how many Americans killed in Iraq is too much? What about when 10,000 Americans are killed? Will that be enough to make Americans call for soemthing to be done?

Regardless, the Bush administration continues to pretend that everything is a-ok. Meanwhile, the American people are beginning to snap out of it. Bush's approval rating has fallen to 36 percent and more and more Republicans are speaking out against the war, with Chuck Hagel from Nebraska being the latest to do so (story). It's enough to give me hope that maybe the American people aren't as dumb as Karl Rove thinks they are, and the Orwellian tactics of the Bush administration will be something that future generation look back on in disgust.

The shit hit the fan long ago. It's just only recently that the American public realized that it was being sprayed onto them.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Yeah. If you like righteous fury...

You should probably read this great post by Ross (not Rossle) of ThisSpaceForRent. It's about this dipshit, Ben Shapiro over at townhall.org whining all over the place about being called a chickenhawk. Here's the beginning of his Ross' post:
Ben Shapiro, You're a Goddamned Pussy. A lying sack of powderpuff shit who spends several thousand wasted minutes shitting your pants, trying to justify your cowardice. Your refusal to serve in the military during a war you support enthusastically, and your desperate attempts to make this cowardly decision sound like patriotism make you a wretched, venal coward of the worst sort, but that's fine, you're only emulating your beloved president.

And it only gets better. I mean, nothing makes me smile more than furious swear-sodden polemic that is so fucking right.

I hate Fairfax, VA...

I don't really, but I've been home (in Fairfax) and it's the most boring place on earth. That's right. On. Earth.

While I was home I stumbled across an interesting
piece on the IB program in the Washington Post. I myself am a recipient of the the IB Diploma (short for International Baccalaureate, it's kind of like a harder, writing-intensive AP program, but all your classes are IB; go here for more info on the program).

The story is on how the introduction of the program has benifited schools with largely minority populations:
"The biggest benefit of IB to Mount Vernon High School is that now minority students have the same opportunities for an excellent high school education as the white students from more affluent homes," said Calhoon, recently retired and helping another struggling IB school near her home in Beaufort, S.C. "Any student who wants to excel can do so."

It's a great program and did an excellent job preparing me for college courses. The workload is tough but it made my 1st year at Pitt that much easier. However the program is not without its critics.

Here's one bright bulb:
Some say IB does not align with some of the college courses for which it, like the much larger Advanced Placement program, was designed to substitute. Others say it puts too much emphasis on international understanding. One Fairfax County parent went so far as to say IB "promotes socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism and moral relativism while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty."

Sigh. I wish I was at this meeting so I could laughed loudly in the face of this concerned parent.

I feel sorry for every teacher that had to deal with that parent complaining that the book that was assigned was too pinko-feminist. I especially feel sorry for the science teacher who has to waste their time defending the teaching of evolution to this schmuck's kid.

They don't pay teachers enough as it is.

Radical environmentalism?...sigh...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hahaha...YES!

Apparently the Washington Post reads The Talking Lion!
Democrats Feel Heat From Left On Roberts
Groups Say Fight Should Be Stronger

Major liberal groups accused Democratic senators yesterday of showing too little stomach for opposing John G. Roberts Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination, saying newly released documents indicate he is much more conservative than many people first thought.

The response was quick and pointed, as two key senators unleashed their sharpest criticisms yet of Roberts and sought to assure activists that the battle is far from over.

They don't credit me specifically, of course... but like jazz its the notes they don't play, as it were.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

John Roberts...

Now, I consider myself to be a Democrat despite my party doing nothing but shaming my choice to be affiliated with them. But sometimes I read the news and say to myself, "Arun, perhaps the D's aren't for you, maybe you should resign yourself to some marginal third party, because your 2nd party loves to marginalize itself." Then I think, "Mmm. I think I'll have some toast and margarine.."

The Dems have totally unofficially thrown in the the towel on the fight to keep John Roberts off the SCOTUS.

Democrats have decided that unless there is an unexpected development in the weeks ahead, they will not launch a major fight to block the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr., according to legislators, Senate aides and party strategists.

Proving that the Washington Post has a sense of humor:

Although they expect to subject President Bush's nominee to tough questioning at confirmation hearings next month, members of the minority party said they do not plan to marshal any concerted campaign against Roberts because they have concluded that he is likely to get at least 70 votes -- enough to overrule parliamentary tactics such as a filibuster that could block the
nominee.

"No one's planning all-out warfare," said a Senate Democratic aide closely involved in caucus strategy on Roberts. For now, the aide said, Democratic strategy is to make it clear Roberts is subject to fair scrutiny while avoiding a pointless conflagration that could backfire on the
party. "We're going to come out of this looking dignified and will show we took the constitutional process seriously," the aide said.

Really. Tough. Questions... sigh. We're not going to look dignified, you assholes, we're going to look like wimps. There is a time to show opposition even when the fight is unwinnable, damn it. And for the record, there is no way wussing out on fighting Roberts will do any more damage than the Dems are doing to themselves.
The Democrats' decision to hold their fire -- less a formal strategy than an emerging consensus -- has allowed conservatives to husband their resources for future battles. Progress for America, a political group working closely with the White House, had planned to spend $18 million to promote the confirmation of Roberts but now may spend less than half that, according to Republican aides.

See. I mean, we should be unleashing unshirted hell on these people to show the American populace that the Democrats have something to fight about. All they've seen is capitulation after capitulation.

"But, Arun, we can show them that in our super tough questions during the confirmation!", says unnamed Democratic aide.
Democrats said that instead of mounting a headlong assault on Roberts, they plan to use the hearings and the surrounding attention by the news media to remind voters of their party's values, including the protection of rights for individual Americans. The plan calls for emphasizing rights beyond abortion in an effort to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate.


No one. I repeat. NO. ONE. is going to give a shit about the hearings if they already know that the Democrats have given up. If there is no story, the questions in the hearings (barring revelations that Roberts is a puppy-sodomizer) won't make front-page ink and NO ONE WILL CARE! The only values you'll remind the public about is that D's scare away from fights that are tough.

Democratic silence is not, by itself, a guarantee of support. The opposition to the failed nomination of Robert H. Bork in 1987 was evident from the start, but protests of Clarence Thomas in 1991 were slow to build. In early August 1991, a month after President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas, no senator had yet announced opposition.

Pointing out the obvious: Bork, not in the Supreme Court. Thomas, member of the Supreme Court, to my continual dismay.

I know anything I say on my tiny-ass blo..,er, magazine will do nothing to change the mind of anyone in the DNC or on the Hill. But even though I know that, it's not stopping me from agitating for change via this site (and my various other political activities).

In conclusion, STAND UP FOR IDEALS OF THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED YOU, YOU FUCKING CHUMPS.

Holy hell...

Gas is friggin' expensive.

I mean, I thought the whole idea of invading Iraq was to extract their black stuff.

I guess the mark-ups in gasoline has been necesitated by the wide-spread systematic overcharging by the dutiful folks at Halliburton.

pwnt.

Fucking Liberal Hippie Anti-War Protestors...

They don't know anything about what it means to be a true American. There are United States military out there on the ground doing the best they can and these treasonous elitist liberal bastards try to do everything in their power to make their lives difficult and put them in more danger. They don't even support the troops that are fighting the war, how can anybody take their pleas seriously?

Yeah. Not really.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a fallen American soldier. Cindy Sheehan wants some answers from the president. Cindy Sheehan doesn't plan to leave Crawford, TX until she gets to speak with the commander-in-chief. Her protest has helped ignite a struggling anti-war movement, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Still, that hasn't stopped some "patriotic" Texans from being disrespectful and obnoxious. And I quote,

More than 150 flag-waving marchers made their way toward Sheehan's camp to show their support for the war. Also, a lone demonstrator drove a pickup blaring country music with a large American flag flying from its bed. A sign on his door read: "Texas Is Bush Country."

That's just great. The mother of a man who gave his life for his country is getting harrassed by some redneck in a truck. I love this country.

But I mean, I guess I can't blame the guy. It must be hard for people like him to wrap their head around the idea that military members and their family would oppose the war. It actually complicates the issue of who is truly "patriotic" and contradicts the talking points that the Bush adminsitration has been throwing out since the reelection campaign. And nobody wants to live in a complicated world. It's easier just to ignore things that conflict your simplisitic worldview.

This article, publsihed Monday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, details wo the protestors are, why they are there, and what they hope to accomplish. Basically,

We have now in Crawford an invaluable collection of ordinary Americans who can speak a plain and irrefutable truth about the reality of the Iraq War. If the President, and the rest of America, had the patience for these stories, we might find the capacity to stop this unending tragedy.


Patience. Is that too much to ask? I sure hope not.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Is it just me...

...or does this shit make you claw out your eyes too?
Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in College Park, Md., said the "Christian community is experiencing a new unity around the moral values that we share because of common faith." Jackson, who is black, said that appointing judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution is advantageous to blacks. "If justice matters to anybody in America, it matters to minorities and to people who have historically been at the bottom of the barrel" who will not have "to deal with a maverick judge changing the law at the last minute."

Since when has conservatives, on the bench or elsewhere, done one positive thing for African-Americans or any other minority in this fucking country?

Never, thats when.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

WMD found in Iraq...

US forces have uncovered a chemical weapons plant in Iraq:
U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical-weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday.

Monday's early morning raid found 11 precursor agents, "some of them quite dangerous by themselves," a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said in Baghdad.

Combined, the chemicals would yield an agent capable of "lingering hazards" for those exposed to it, Boylan said. The likely targets would have been "coalition and Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi civilians," in part owing to the difficulty anyone deploying the chemicals would have had in keeping the agents from spreading out over a wide area, he said.

So we were justified in invading after all?

Nope, these weapons are being made by members of the insurgency the invasion created.

Awesome, huh? Just when you think that the worst possible results of our monumentally fucking up Iraq would be 50 civillian deaths every two days, the insurgents are making chemical weapons!

It's a good thing that we found these, but who can say at how many other locations these things are being made. I mean, how vulnerable do you want our troops to be?
They already aren't outfitted with the strongest armor available, now they have to worry about dying horrible deaths at the hands of chemical weapons.

We are the champions.

Something We Can All Agree With...

This has got to rank up there with the stupidest decisions in the history of the federal judicial system. I mean, we're talking Plessy v. Ferguson stupid. Here's what we got:

A district judge has ruled that key components of Virginia's drunken driving laws are unconstitutional, citing a decades-old U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The state law presumes that someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher is intoxicated, denying their right to a presumption of innocence, Judge Ian O'Flaherty ruled in dismissing charges against at least two alleged drunken drivers last month...

Patrick O'Connor, president of the northern Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the decision "undermines the efforts of the police and prosecutors to enforce the DWI laws, puts drunk drivers back behind the
wheel and potentially denies justice to victims of drunk drivers."

O'Flaherty declined to comment; rulings in District Court are made orally so there is no written ruling outlining his rationale.

Del. David Albo, a defense lawyer, said he sees no difference between a presumption of intoxication at 0.08 and a presumption of speeding at 80 miles per hour.

"So far not a single judge in Virginia has ruled the same way," he said. "It's just one judge."



Yeah, let's make it as difficult as possible to catch people driving drunk. Registering a .08 isn't enough evidence to prove that someone was intoxicated. You can drive drunk as many times as you want, and not worry about having to go to jail until they bring up those manslaughter charges after you hit another car and kill someone. Fantastic.

These are the kind of judicial activists people should be concerned about. As if drunk drivers aren't enough of a problem in this country (According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes - an average of one almost every half-hour. See more statistics here), this jerkface has to make it harder than ever to make drunk drivers face the consequences.

I mean, it could be worse. He could be one of those judges that help gay people get married. Ewwwwwwww.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Whatever, She Totally Likes It

On the main page of washingtonpost.com, I just found this all-too appropriate headline linking to the lead story:

Timing for Pullout From Iraq Remains Unclear

I can just see it now: Back in late 2002 and early 2003 Bush was bragging to his friends about how he's going to fuck this bitch Iraq and they all warned him that he should use a condom. But Georgie Boy was a little too cocky, and told them all to go to hell. He figured he has superb control and could totally bail out of there when he was ready to climax. Besides, condoms are for pussies (no pun intended); any real man keeps it natural. There was no need to think about taking precautions and plan what would happen in case something went wrong, Dubya's got it all under control.

So that fateful night finally came, and things started out really well. She was totally into Bush, screaming "Liberate Me!" at the top of her lungs. It turned out that our commander-in-chief didn't know what he was getting himself into, and after a while, he totally lost it. He had no idea what he was doing anymore and completely lost his composure. The bitch wanted it to end as soon as possible, but Bush was in over his head. There was no way he was going to pull out when he wanted too, and he was stuck with the prospect of knocking this chick up and having to deal with her and her problems for the next few years down the road. All he was looking for was a good freedom fuck, and now he has to deal with all of this.

Don't let this happen to you kids. Use a condom. And also, don't invade other nations when you don't have any semblence of an exit strategy...

Pragmatism at it's Finest

So, it's easy to talk about how things suck down there in Africa. Most recently, it's been Sudan and Niger that have been hit pretty hard. Spreading awareness about the situation is one thing, but actually coming up with some ideas that will help solve some problems -- now that's something to write home about.

WashPost, please tell the people:

HUMANITARIAN crises are seldom just humanitarian: Almost always, the malnutrition and the misery have political causes. The brutal wars in Sudan and Congo account for those countries' appalling civilian death tolls. Political repression explains the hunger in North Korea and Zimbabwe. Even the HIV pandemic reflects the failure of politicians to challenge gender inequality and sexual taboos.

Niger's food crisis has its own political dimension. The government has been criticized for playing down the crisis -- it speaks of a food shortage rather than a famine -- and for resisting calls to distribute free food. International financial institutions, which urged a value-added tax on food and imposed budget controls that discouraged the government from maintaining emergency food stocks, also deserve some of the blame. Even so, Niger's crisis is less political than many. This landlocked country of about 11 million is a democracy. There is no war going on there. Some 2.5 million people need emergency assistance because of natural disasters more than politics: a swarm of locusts that ate much of the millet harvest, followed by a drought.

Usually, natural disasters attract a generous response. The tsunami last Christmas was a prime example, and earthquakes and hurricanes generally prompt individuals and their governments to open their wallets -- or at least to pledge generously, even if they don't always deliver. But Niger has not even been that fortunate. As early as last November, the government and the U.N. World Food Program appealed for mergency food aid and money; only Luxembourg responded. The United Nations followed up with a second appeal in March and a third in May. Only recently has the money begun to come.


Okay, so what should we do? how can we actually help these people in the future?

If Niger's largely unpolitical emergency cannot trigger prompt sympathy, it's time to rethink the way relief is organized. The world depends on an ad hoc, pass-the-hat system; there's no standing ability to respond quickly when the first signs of disaster appear. This raises the cost of action. In the Sudanese province of Darfur last year, donors didn't provide enough relief before the onset of the rainy season, so part of their belated assistance had to be airlifted into the region at enormous expense. Similarly in Niger, the United Nations estimates that saving a life would have cost a dollar of aid back in November but may cost $80 or more now.

To avoid this waste of cash and lives, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has proposed an emergency fund of $500 million from which to finance rapid response to future famines. In the wake of the oil-for-food scandal, the onus is on the United Nations to show that it can manage that sort of money without corruption; perhaps it cannot. But whichever institutional home one favors for it, the idea of a global famine fund makes sense.



Hmm, that actually sounds like a good idea. A pool of relief money that is ready to dole out when a crisis develops. That might actually make some sort of difference down there.

I understand the difficulty of determining what exactly should be certified as a real crisis, but I believe that figuring out crisis status will be a lot easier and take a lot less time than raising lots of money after the fact. If we're looking to save lives and help improve the way these people are living, I think this plan makes a lot of sense.

This could be somehting that the general public could contribute too as well, and it would give people a chance to donate money when they are better able to instead of shelling out whatever they can when the latest crisis hits. I may be naive, but I think that the U.N. can handle such a repsonsibility and this "famine fund" could really do a lot to help things.

It's far from a cure-all, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Look I can explain...

I just want to apologize for the lack of postage this week. I mean, the lack of substantive posts from me. I'm currently trying to put together a print magazine and it takes like a buhzillion hours a day to organize. Getting ducks in rows is a bitch! Don't worry, things will get back to normal. This week was just silly.

So, yeah. Look for my resuming of tTL on Monday morning!

Thanks for your patience. Also, I'm going to try to get Pat to start posting again. So, thats good.

Sean, pick up my slack.

Hey man...

So, I hope you all remember Sean's post a few days ago about that $286b pulled-pork..., er, highway bill. Well, our fearless leader has signed that bill into law:
Three years ago, President Bush went to war against congressional pork. His official 2003 budget even featured a color photo of a wind-powered ice sled -- an example of the pet projects and alleged boondoggles he said he would no longer tolerate.

Yesterday, Bush effectively signed a cease-fire -- critics called it more like a surrender -- in his war on pork. He signed into law a $286 billion transportation measure that contains a record 6,371 pet projects inserted by members of Congress from both parties.

At a short bill-signing event in Montgomery, Ill., Bush said the new law will allow the United States to modernize highways and roads in a fiscally responsible manner. "I'm proud to be here to sign this transportation bill, because our economy depends on us having the most efficient, reliable transportation system in the world," Bush said at a Caterpillar Inc. manufacturing plant.

I mean, it's not unexpected that Bush didn't use his veto here. If you take it out of the box you can't get nearly as much on eBay. Also, Bush is a capitulating jack ass.

It seems to me that all you need to do to get him to support your legislation is give him a surreptitious wink so he thinks your advocacy has some sinister ulterior motive and he'll gladly sign on.

Talent Show beats me to it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Weekly Onion Lovefest...

The Onion continues to deliver perfect-pitch criticism of the war in Iraq and the BushCo foriegn policy in general:
'Humor In Uniform' Submissions At All-Time Low
PLEASANTVILLE, NY—Reader's Digest editors reported Monday that submissions to their "Humor In Uniform" feature have fallen off sharply since 2001. "The submissions that are trickling in are just not making me laugh," said Jackie Leo, an editor at the magazine. "I'm looking for amusing send-ups of peeling potatoes on KP duty, not another vignette about a soldier waking up screaming because he accidentally shot a pregnant Iraqi woman." Leo said she almost published one soldier's story about being financially devastated by shrinking veteran benefits "just to help him out with the $300 publication fee, but it just wasn't funny enough."

Yep. It's amazing that there is a single soldier that supports Bush after what his cronies have been doing to the Veteran's budget. Not to mention the whole backdoor-draft thing...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This is the kind of story I enjoy to read...

Because its so cool!
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Thieves tunneled nearly 300 feet to a Central Bank vault in northeastern Brazil and stole about $65 million, police said Monday, in what has been described as the biggest such robbery ever in Brazil.

The money was stolen from the Central Bank's vault in the city of Fortaleza, about 1,550 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.

The thieves built a 13-foot deep, 262-foot-long tunnel from a house near the bank to the vault, federal police said in a statement.

The elaborate tunnel had electric lights and walls reinforced with wood panels and lined with plastic sheeting, police said.

I mean, bank robberies are so cool. And ones that have elaborate executions with tunnels and vault drilling are SO COOL!

I hope they are all attractive and have great teeth like in the movies.

Bank Robbery. Crazy.

Monday, August 08, 2005

These people just can't let it go...

So Rummy has emerged from where ever BushCo has been hiding him the last few months to be a jerk all over the place. First he openly lied about the motivations of the London underground bombing:
"Some people seem confused about the motivations and intentions of terrorists and about our coalition's defense of the still young democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq," Rumsfeld said in a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

"They seem to cling to the discredited theory that the recent attacks in London and elsewhere, for example, are really in retaliation for the war in Iraq or for the so-called occupation of Afghanistan," he added. "That is nonsense."

Now this is obviously false. The bombs weren't planted to protest London getting the Olympics. The bombs were detonated as a response to British involvement in the Iraq War.

But that lie is not as bad as the next thing he says:
Rumsfeld also paid tribute to the 21 Marines killed this week in Iraq, including the 14 killed Wednesday by a single roadside bomb near the city of Haditha in western Iraq.

"Patriots, they were determined to stop the terrorists from reclaiming Iraq and from launching more attacks on our people," he said. "Our nation needed them, called on them in battle, and mourns them now in death."

Reclaiming? Iraq was previously run by a person that launched "attacks on our people"? That smells an awful lot like Donald's trying to dust off (or wax sumbliminal on) the rotting corpse that was Al'Qaeda-Iraq-9/11 talking point that helped get us into this Mess O' Potamia (my apologies, Jon) in the first place. What's more sickening is that he trots out two huge lies while paying a "tribute to the 21 Marines killed this week in Iraq".

As I said in a recent post, these people have no fucking shame.

First things first...

We at The Talking Lion do not appreciate the insults that have been slung at us from Fafblog and their slanderous tale about lions. We are looking into possible legal action, or perhaps a duel.

PISTOLS AT DAWN!

haha.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Teach The Children Well

A couple of spot-on columns in Friday's WashPost and NYT from Eugene Robinson and Paul Krugman on the politics of ignorance and the right's political strategy of winning votes by either dumbing down the nation, making up facts, or doing both.

Robinson's main concern is that the policies of the Bush administration is holding this country back when it comes to education and technology. He lists the "trifecta" of restricting stem-cell research, ignoring global warming and categorizing intelligent design as an appropriate alternative to the theory of evolution. Preach, Eugene:

The much-maligned Kyoto treaty isn't the point. Treaty or no treaty, it looks as if sooner or later the world is going to have to find a way to prosper without spewing so much heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other nations are busy trying to develop technology and coping mechanisms to prepare for that day. When it comes, we'll be at or near the back of the line.

Maybe we'll line up all our obsolete SUVs along the coast to try to hold back the rising sea.

To round out the trifecta, the other day Bush reiterated his support for teaching "intelligent design" in America's schools along with evolution, as a way of exposing students to different points of view. This really borders on madness.

Intelligent design isn't a scientific theory at all; it's a matter of faith -- Creationism 2.0. Faith is a different kind of truth. Charles Darwin's landmark discovery of evolution, with a few minor modifications and additions over the years, has proved to be one of the sturdiest and most unassailable scientific theories of all time. To the extent that science can say anything is true, evolution is scientifically true. Done. Settled. As Walter Cronkite used to say, "That's the way it is."

To teach American children in science class that intelligent design is an alternative explanation of how birds, anteaters and people came to be birds, anteaters and people is simply to make American children less well educated than children elsewhere.



But I guess it's okay to give our children a poorer quality of education than other countries in this world. That's just the way politics goes sometimes. It's a dirty buisness, right? On some occasions, though, I think it gets too dirty. Like in this case, when our nation is not properly informed of the dangers of global warming and legitimate scientific theories have little credibility in our schools. That's not politics. That's poo-litics. Dirty and smelly and a huge waste.

Also, there's Krugman. Not only is he a sexy man, but he also gets at the heart of this Republican strategy of "creating doubt about inconvienent research results" and how, unofrtunately, it seems to be working. What do you have to say about it, Paul?

There are several reasons why fake research is so effective. One is that nonscientists sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between research and advocacy - if it's got numbers and charts in it, doesn't that make it science?

Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth." The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close.



Hahahahahaha, that's a good joke. Excuse me while I repeatedly walk into this brick wall. But wait, there's more:

Finally, the self-policing nature of science - scientific truth is determined by peer review, not public opinion - can be exploited by skilled purveyors of cultural resentment. Do virtually all biologists agree that Darwin was right? Well, that just shows that they're elitists who think they're smarter than the rest of us.


Exactly. Don't forget about what gary Bauer said, a moajority of Americans believe in this theory, and the opinion of a majority of Americans is far more important than the opinion of a bunch of scientists with their crazy book-learnin'. But speaking of Intelligent Design:

Some of America's most powerful politicians have a deep hatred for Darwinism. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, blamed the theory of evolution for the Columbine school shootings. But sheer political power hasn't been enough to get creationism into the school curriculum. The theory of evolution has overwhelming scientific support, and the country isn't ready - yet - to teach religious doctrine in public schools.

But what if creationists do to evolutionary theory what corporate interests did to global warming: create a widespread impression that the scientific consensus has shaky foundations?

Creationists failed when they pretended to be engaged in science, not religious indoctrination: "creation science" was too crude to fool anyone. But intelligent design, which spreads doubt about evolution without being too overtly religious, may succeed where creation science failed.



Conservatives may achieve some short term victories, but "creating a widespread impression that the scientific consensus has shaky foundations" could lead mean the future of our nation is flushed down the toilet. But that's what happens when you practice poo-litics...

Friday, August 05, 2005

I am finally back...

Moving apartments and wrestling with Comcast for internet access. That's where I've been. Posts will resume in the AM.

It turns out the Iraq War was justified after all...

... because Ayman Zawahiri is encouraging insurgent attacks there. What more evidence do you need? Al Qaeda likes the fact that terrorists in Iraq are killing Americnas, that means that we did the right thing when we went into Iraq to overthrow Saddam. End of story. Tell 'em, George:

President Bush, speaking in Crawford, Tex., said that the comments "make it clear Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war. He's saying, you know, leave. . . . People like Zawahiri have a ideology that is dark, dim, backwards. He's threatening. They have come up against a nation that will defend itself."


Oh, it's clear Dubya. Crystal clear. Iraq is only a part of the war on terror now because we invaded and apparently don't have plans of leaving anytime soon. Al Qaeda is simply using the Iraq invasion against us and it seems like its helping them get new recruits. Now our president is trying to use the fact that al Qeada is growing in strength and using the Iraq War for its own benefit as evidence that there was an Iraq-al Qaeda connection during Saddam's regime. Absolutely not. But it's good to know that we're still on the offensive in this war on terror, as Bush likes to say, because maybe one day we'll actually find and capture Zawahiri or maybe even Osama bin Laden. Maybe one day...

In the meantime we'll just have to settle for mounting American casualties in Iraq and a growing list of enemies across the globe.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mushroom Cloud Nine

It's been just about 60 years since the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and this country remains the only nation to use the terribly powerful weapon.

Most people try to justify the thousands of Japanese civilian deaths that the attack caused by claiming that the bombing hastened the end to the war. There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests that this wasn't the case, however, and the United States had other viable options.

In a recently released Harvard University Press volume drawing upon the latest Japanese sources, for instance, Professor Tsuyohsi Hasegawa concludes that the traditional “myth cannot be supported by historical facts.” By far the most important factor forcing the decision, his research indicates, was the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on August 8, 1945, just after the Hiroshima bombing.

Similarly, Professor Herbert Bix–whose biography of Hirohito won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction–also writes in a recent article that “the Soviet factor carried greater weight in the eyes of the emperor and most military leaders.”

Many Japanese historians have long judged the Soviet declaration of war to have been the straw that broke the camels back–mainly because the Japanese military feared the Red Army more than the loss of another city by aerial bombardment. (They had already shown themselves willing to sacrifice many, many cities to conventional bombing!)

An intimately related question is whether the bomb was in any event still necessary to force a surrender before an invasion. Again, most Americans believe the answer obvious–as, of course, do many historians. However, a very substantial number also disagree with this view. One of the most respected, Stanford University Professor Barton Bernstein, judges that all things considered it seems “quite probable–indeed, far more likely than not–that Japan would have surrendered before November” (when the first landing in Japan was scheduled.)



So why did we do it?

Why was the bomb used? The conventional view, of course, is that it was to save as many lives as possible. But if this is so, several historians now ask, why did President Truman and his chief adviser Secretary of State James Byrnes make it harder for Japan to surrender? Specifically, why did they remove assurances for the Japanese emperor from the July 1945 Potsdam Proclamation warning Japan to surrender? The assurances were strongly recommended by U.S. and British military leaders, and removing them, they knew, would make it all but impossible for Japan to end the war.

A traditional theory has been that the President feared political criticism if he provided assurances to the emperor. But, other historians note, leading Republicans were for–not against–clarifying the terms to achieve a surrender, and were calling for this publicly. Moreover, American leaders always knew the emperor would be needed to order a surrender–and, of course, in the end they did agree to an understanding which allowed such assurances: Japan still has an emperor.

Hasegawa believes the assurances were taken out of the Potsdam Proclamation precisely because American leaders wanted to have the warning rejected so as to justify the bombing–and, further, that they saw the bomb as a way to end the war before Russia could join the fighting. There is other evidence suggesting that policy makers, especially Secretary of State Byrnes, wanted to use the bomb to “make the Russians more manageable in Europe”--as he told one scientist.



The tragedy that was these bombings is not talked about enough. It is a chilling example of a powerful nation taking away the lives of innocent civilians in order to bolster its status in the international power struggle. This weekend should be a time to reflect about the serious damage these bombings caused and think about how this sort of chilling realist political philosophy continues to reign supreme among Bush adminitration officials, leaving the civilians of this country less safe. Because unlike 1945, there are plenty of civilian groups around the world that can gain access to dangerous weapons and seek revenge...

Science > Bush

The greatest pseudo-scientific theory since eugenics -- intelligent design -- is receiving support from our president. Remarks to a group of reporters from texas at the White House yesterday:

"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."


I don't think I need to explain to all of you how intelligent design has no scientific merit, and is based on little more than faith in God. It may very well be true that some sort of all-powerful entity had a hand in creating the universe, or our world. The problem is that there is minimal scientific basis on which to base that claim, so there is no reason to teach it alongside evolution in the classroom.

Unfortunately for the scientific community, the educational system, and the future of our nation's children, these words will help give these anti-evolution advocates more credibility.

"With the president endorsing it, at the very least it makes Americans who have that position more respectable, for lack of a better phrase," said Gary L. Bauer, a Christian conservative leader who ran for president against Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries. "It's not some backwater view. It's a view held by the majority of Americans."


Sorry Gary, but just because a majority of Americans hold this view (which I contend is an exaggeration) doesn't make it science.That's not how we decide what is taught in school, we don't take a poll and ask people what they believe. There are experts in the different fields that do research and experiments and come to conclusions and make theories and those theorires come under scrutiny within the scientific community. Only then are these theories taught in schools and universities. That sounds like a better system than teaching what the majority of Americans believe.

Nonetheless, Intelligent Design proponents are winning the battle against science thanks to a handful of professors teaching in this country's universities. This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education goes into their stories and the reaction of the greater scientific community as a whole:

For the vast majority of scientists, evolution through natural means is as much a fact as the earth's revolution around the sun. Yet a small but vocal number of biologists, chemists, philosophers, and mathematicians are determined to change that view. They believe that an intelligent agent -- most rigorously avoid the word "God" -- has guided the earth's history, and that scientific research can prove its existence. While most scientists are quick to dismiss the idea as religion cloaked in academic jargon, advocates of the concept, known as intelligent design, are making inroads into academe, thanks to their unconventional approach, sophisticated arguments, and scholarly credentials.

Intelligent-design theory has been greeted most warmly at evangelical Christian colleges, where it is sometimes taught as a viable alternative to Darwinian evolution. Other institutions have been far less sympathetic. Although intelligent design has advocates in some science departments, no secular or mainstream college teaches it as a legitimate theory. Scientists who do support intelligent design have been relegated to teaching it as a nonscience course, as at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Advocates have also organized conferences at such universities as Baylor and Yale, and have assembled a group of more than 100 scientists to criticize Darwinian theory in full-page advertisements in national publications. The New York Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have sponsored debates on intelligent design, and three academic presses are publishing books on the subject.



Of course they're publishing books, because these kinds of books will sell. There are plenty of people out there who are desperately trying to justify their beliefs and will take anything they can get.

People have every right to believe what they want, that's part of what makes this country great. But trying to pass of a belief in God creating the world as science is dangerous. The fact that our president would be advocating such a practive is just scary.