The Twilight Zone

A friend of mine stopped for a heartbeat to watch the news in the locker room at the gym, yesterday, and Bush was on the TV. I don’t know if his body posture communicated his disdain or if his face registered some inchoate emotion, but some beefy stand-by pounced and said “Well, who are you voting for?” in a fairly confrontational tone.

My friend, being no dummy, and also being clad in a swimsuit, coupled with his desire not to be ensnared into a conversation about politics with some portly gym-locker-room-schooner, said “Well, y’know, I am not that knocked out with either one of them.”

And the pushy stranger said “Well, what do you think the most important issue of this election is?”

And my friend, emboldened by principle, I suppose, said “Well, it’s clearly the Iraq war.”

And Mr. Confrontational says “WRONG! It’s about the fact that ONE of these MEN IS PRO-LIFE, and the other is a BABY KILLER!”

And I don’t know exactly what my friend said to that, but whatever it was, it probably sounded something like “Sir, you are a complete assbag, and clearly out of your mind.”

Which sent this Solider of God into a heated rage, where he warned my swimsuit clad friend that he should get away from him, because he had been known to be violent, and that he was likely to strike him.

How Christ-like.

What gets me, and what has gotten to some of my very Pro-Life Catholic relatives, is that I don’t see how you could call President Bush pro-life. I mean, c’mon, who are we trying to fool, here?

If George Bush is pro-life, could he also please set out to make me poor? (I mean, more than he already has…)

One other thing

I went to the dermatologist this morning, and I don’t have cancer. I had some scary stuff going on that I was keeping mum about, but the Dr. told me that it was no big deal, just benign stuff. She did a little freezing, some cutting, some scraping, and I am on the path to Better Than Ever.

Oh, but the schools we’ve painted!

Worse and worse.

What’s the tipping point going to be? Will there be a Tet Offensive style assault on the Green Zone? Anyone remember the US Embassy Compound in Saigon being overrun?

I did notice this from the CNN article: “Rumsfeld: Violence in Iraq ‘getting worse'”

!!! You DON’T SAY, old man!!!

I remember calling him “Rumsfeld of Arabia,” last year. I think I would like to amend that, and just call him “Pangloss of Arabia” from now on.

The Inside Skinny on the “debates”

Why is the word “debates” in quotes?

Because, thanks to reader DT Interrobang, we get a link to the real truth about the coming Pre-Presidental Press Conference. (can we call it “the PPPC” from now on?)

Follow the link above to “Top 10 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About the Debates.”

“Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.”

From reader Ben comes another fascinating, if disturbing, article about Iraq. This one is from a 20-year career NCO, and it is titled, unfortunately, “Why We Can’t Win”:

When we were preparing to deploy, I told my young soldiers to beware of the “political solution.” Just when you think you have the situation on the ground in hand, someone will come along with a political directive that throws you off the tracks.

I believe that we could have won this un-Constitutional invasion of Iraq and possibly pulled off the even more un-Constitutional occupation and subjugation of this sovereign nation. It might have even been possible to foist democracy on these people who seem to have no desire, understanding or respect for such an institution. True the possibility of pulling all this off was a long shot and would have required several hundred billion dollars and even more casualties than we’ve seen to date but again it would have been possible, not realistic or necessary but possible.

Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.

First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as “terrorists, criminals and dead-enders.”

This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.

There’s (a lot) more, and it carries on with the same sunny tone.

I can’t help this feeling… I swear that I have heard this argument… somewhere… I know someone has said something like this… I just can’t recall exactly what they were talking about.

The other rising tide

This is the one that has been lapping at the back steps of our civil rights for a couple of years now…

Kevin Drum links to an essay at Obsidian Wings decrying Big Denny Hastert’s proposal to “ease up on those UN conventions against torture” for persons rounded up as “terror suspects.” What he has proposed is creating an Orwellian new set of guidelines that place the burden of proof on a prospective toturee to prevent him from being handed over by our government to countries known to torture people.

This is classic ugly-puppy kicking. (No one cares if you kick the ugly puppy, and who really cares about the rights of terror suspects? They wouldn’t have been picked up if they weren’t guilty, right? Sure, mistakes might be made, but these people are foreigners, ferchrissakes!) Red meat for the Jesus and genocide crowd and a real loser for anyone who choses to advocate against it. (John Kerry wants to protect the civil rights of TERRORISTS!)

This isn’t really news- it’s pretty much textbook autocrat stuff. The thing that gets me is what Kevin Drum suggests we do about it. To whit: “Go read the whole post. And then call your congressman.”

My cynicism valve must be stuck open today. I didn’t even glance at the phone. Call my congressman? So I can leave a message for Max Burns to pick up when he gets back from golfing with the boys from GOPAC? I should write a letter to Zell Miller? So he can write back and challenge me to a fucking DUEL? I am touched by Kevin’s dream of responsive legislators, but I guarantee you that every legislator on Capitol Hill has two form letters ready to go in MS Word- One that says “Congressman Poopstain would like to assure you, his valued constituent, that he will very carefully evaluate any legislation that the House/Senate considers and vote to keep America’s children safe from those dirty foreigners,” and one that says “Congressman Poopstain would like to assure you, his valued constituent, that he will very carefully evaluate any legislation that the House/Senate considers and vote to protect the Rights and Privileges that have made this country the shining Beacon of Hope and Freedom for the rest of the world.”

The Legislative Assistant will have an intern print the “right” version up, the Congressman’s signature will be affixed from a file and it won’t ever pass under the man in question’s nose. He’s going to be too busy returning calls from the McDonnell-Douglas guy. Trust me on this one.

Color me SHOCKED!

Roy over at Alicublog points us to more information about the further banana-republicification of the great state of Florida:

Supporters told his campaign office that when they tried to touch the screen to light up his name, the machine registered the name of an opponent. Danciu also found that 15 cartridges containing the vote totals from machines in his home precinct had disappeared on election night, delaying the result. It transpired that an election worker had taken them home, in violation of the most basicprocedures. Danciu’s lawyer, his daughter Charlotte, said some cartridges were then found to be empty, for reasons that have never been adequately explained.

Weep for democracy.

The New Music thingy

If you care about what “alternative” music has sort of morphed into- which, as far as I am aware, has no new name- you might want to check out this site. As music becomes more decentralized and the industry becomes increasingly irrelevant (when was the last time you read Spin?), I think that web music zines like this will become the conduit where folks who love music will turn to for information about what’s new and good.

Pitchfork is, in many ways, exactly what I am looking for in a music portal- they have a very egalitarian approach to who gets covered and who gets featured. Did the band put out a record in their basement, but it’s absoultely brilliant? Front and center. Did Matchbox 20 lay another giant turd on commercial radio? You’d never know it from reading Pitchfork. This is, IMHO, as it should be.

The writers there do get a little wild-eyed about bands like Animal Collective and The Fiery Furnaces, who, while they are unique, suck like a pool drain. But y’know, it’s all what you love, and someone loves those bands like I love Scratch Acid, so we’re even.