30 June 2006

Further adventures of a cavalier approach to the rule of law.

In the category of "yet another reason Guantanamo is an affront to human values," the Guardian (UK) is reporting that it took them 3 days to find witnesses for one detainee that the US Government claimed it couldn't locate after several months. What's most amazing about this story is that the witnesses weren't holed up in remote locations, either:
The Guardian searched for Mr Mujahid's witnesses and found them within three days. One was working for President Hamid Karzai. Another was teaching at a leading American college. The third was living in Kabul. The fourth, it turned out, was dead. Each witness said he had never been approached by the Americans
to testify in Mr Mujahid's hearing.

OK, obviously the US couldn't have called the dead man to testify, but if a newspaper can figure out the guy's dead after an extensive 3 day search, why can't the US figure it out after a few months? Holy crap. One was working for the US-installed leader.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Mujahid has spent 3 years in custody. While he may or may not be guilty -- the original complaint appears to be that Mr. Mujahid was fired from his position as a police chief for "colluding with anti-government forces" -- it's also a travesty that these witnesses, as in so many other cases, were "non-contactable" according to the military.

28 June 2006

Truly a bargain at 37.4 million pounds.

So the BBC is reporting today that the Monarchy costs about 37.4 million pounds a year. They break that cost down by telling each taxpayer that they each essentially pay 62p a year for the pleasure of maintaining the powerless figurehead and her family.

The Queen and her family are independently wealthy anyway, with Prince Charles making a reported 14 million pounds in 2005 (not bad for a guy who apparently travels extensively and plays polo). It makes you wonder how much the Queen herself is worth.

Well, as the Sex Pistols sang so many years ago, "God Save the Queen, Because Tourists Are Money..." The English monarch is worth more to England enthroned than she would be reduced to commoner, as the untold tourist dollars pour into the country to watch them changing guard at Buckingham Palace, lining the streets for perhaps a glimpse of HRH, and of course just the touristy love to soak in the mythical resonance of the monarchy itself (and interestingly enough, many of those tourists come from the US, who forcibly threw off the monarchy and all its trappings a few hundred years back).

The English monarchy survived the period of revolution and managed to make it past irrelevance to the largely safe waters of historical tourism. It's one thing to tour a palace once inhabited by a royal family deposed and beheaded long ago; it's quite another to walk through the Palace inhabited by a living -- if powerless -- monarch.

I'm not defending the monarchy, but merely the idea that the English monarchy is a cornerstone of British tourism and exists at the public expense mainly as a marketing expenditure. The king is a thing, as Hamlet would say, and like most fetishized commodities, it has an exchange value far higher than its use value.

27 June 2006

What a Rush!

Honestly, does it get any better than this?

"Rush Limbaugh Held for Having Viagra Without Prescription"

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Rush Limbaugh was detained for about 3 1/2 hours at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.


Oh my. Repeat drug offender Rush just can't get enough. He was down in the Dominican Republic with his illicit stash of sex pills, and I'm scared to speculate on any of that...ugh.

Really, in the scheme of things this offense is a joke, especially compared to his pain-med abuse -- a charge he more or less beat, proving once again that if you're going to abuse drugs it pays to be a celebrity.

I can understand how Limbaugh maybe was duped into purchasing viagra illegally, since after all I receive solicitations for V=!Ag=r@ or some such poorly spelled substitute in my email all the time.

23 June 2006

Usually they call this money laundering.

Here's really where the truth comes bubbling out like so much shit from a leaking septic tank:

Moving money from a casino-operating Indian tribe to Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition founder and professed gambling opponent, was a problem. Lobbyist Abramoff turned to his longtime friend Norquist, apparently to provide a buffer
for Reed.
The result, according to evidence gathered by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was that Norquist's Americans for Tax Relief became a conduit for more than a million dollars from the Mississippi Choctaw to Reed's operation, while Norquist, a close White House ally, took a cut. [via CNN.com]
Norquist, who famously claimed he wanted to shrink government to the size where he could "drown it in the bathtub," like most libertarians, detests government except when it works to their benefit. That is to say, he liked government without all the rules and oversight and checks and balances. Sure, libertarian theory is all about competition and free markets, but libertarian practice is all about jobbing the game through backroom deals and old-boy networks that essentially make the so-called free market a joke.

Fortunately, every now and then their shenanigans come to light and the public gets to see the ethical bankruptcy of these self-styled freedom lovers. Unfortunately, the public rarely takes notice and at any rate has a notoriously short attention span and is easily distracted by bread and circuses (e.g. "defense of marriage," "cut and run," etc.). New York Times columnist Paul Krugman points this out in his June 19 column (you need NYT login to see it, so the link won't work otherwise...), "Class War Politics." An excerpt:
But if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless.

It's a classic bait and switch, and yes indeed it all comes down to economics. The Times actually has been beating this drum a bit lately, and I'm surprised, mainly because the mainstream media is very gunshy when it comes to evoking the bugaboo of "class warfare." Well, guess what? The war has long since started, and the Republicans* are the ones who started it.

*That's the short statement. The long statement acknowledges that the Republicans are simply the bagmen doing the bidding of the US elite who have always used whatever means necessary to maintain their advantages, whether it be the Pinkertons, Vigilance Committees, or Politicians.

22 June 2006

A few quick words.

Sorry everyone (all three of you that is), but I've been out of it with the World Cup going on. The USA play Ghana today at 10 a.m., and if you haven't been watching, what I'm looking for is a USA win v. Ghana and Italy to beat the Czech Republic.

More importantly, today my wife and I celebrate our ninth anniversary of wedded bliss. We met here in DC in graduate school and somehow haven't deconstructed one another yet or managed to finish our doctorates. But that's all Guinness under the bridge, as they say.

We have too many books. We don't have enough.

Now the USA game is on.

UPDATE: The USA looked like a bunch of scared seventh graders going up against the ninth grade. Granted the referee was card happy (on both teams) and awarded a bullshit penalty to Ghana, but still even if it remained 1-1, the USA would be out of the cup. They wouldn't be able to define "offensive creativity" if you handed them a dictionary, and all of them today seemed unwilling to shoot the ball. You cannot score if you do not shoot. Cute passes are cute passes, but goals are goals.

20 June 2006

Water Water Everywhere.

My son and I got caught in that monumental downpour this afternoon -- not the first one, but the second one -- as we were on our way to pick up his little sister. About halfway to the park it started pouring. By the time we'd reached the park, we realized our flimsy umbrella was worthless, so I folded it up and we let the rain set the agenda.

It's like jumping in the pool; once you're wet it doesn't really matter anymore and we were indeed soaked, the clothes clinging to the skin and me wishing I'd worn a different shirt. Let's just say my love of anything in the butter food group keeps people from describing me as "chiseled."

Hustling down 19th Street, we followed the floodwaters down the hill, as they eddied up with every curb cut. These momentary pools were perfect for stomping, and I did my best Gene Kelly impersonation, much to the amusement of my son and the horror of a few innocent bystanders.

Luckily for us, the rain stopped while we were picking up the little one, so she got home good and dry, while we made it home a few soggy pounds heavier.

Fortunately it was only water weight, and that's relatively easy to take off.

16 June 2006

Splendor in the grass...

We caught the first two acts at Fort Reno last night, Diacritical and Jinxed at Twelve. We had to get the kids home before Gist started up. It was a beautiful night and I must say I enjoyed Jinxed at Twelve, even if they did have a bit of an Echo and the Bunnymen feel to them, as my wife pointed out.

Another odd fact was that they employed three guitars, one bass, and drums. I thought that was a bit of overkill on the guitar area, but their website didn't help me out any. It lists the singer as playing bass, and he was clearly playing a left-handed guitar strung upside down so he could play it right-handed (why bother, I say). The site also lists one member as a keyboardist/trombonist, neither of which was in evidence last night. So I'm assuming maybe the keyboardist/trombonist moved to bass and let the singer switch over to guitar. I don't know. I liked them, though.

Diacritical weren't bad. They had the misfortune to try out call and response lyrics on a crowd that wasn't large enough to overcome the PA even if they'd tried. It was a small early season Fort Reno crowd, and I'm not sure how well call and response ever goes over there -- people are busy eating picnic dinners and in general lounging on the grass.

15 June 2006

Fort Reno Starts Tonight.

The first Fort Reno show of summer 2006 is upon us. The bands Gist, Jinxed at Twelve, and Diacritical will be playing. Showtime 7:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It's a great local music scene and it's a great place to spot aging luminaries of the DC scene with their kids/dogs/relatives, if you're into that sort of thing.

Here's how to get there.

14 June 2006

RFC on blogger shittiness.

Is it just me, or has blogger been more shitty off and on the past few weeks? I'm getting a lot of slow responses and "Can't display the page" bs. And no, I don't need comments about how blogger has always been a piece of crap -- because I haven't really had many issues with it until recently.

Are their servers overwhelmed? It's not just my site -- it's other blogspot.com sites that are slow to load.

13 June 2006

Another reason to avoid Virginia...

It's a great lesson for all to learn that you shouldn't skip out on a restaurant bill, as now even rent-a-cops (who may or may not be real cops moonlighting) are licensed to kill for a few plates of unpaid-for pancakes.

Not surprisingly, the utterly un-independent investigation justified Carl Stowe's murder of 18 year old Aaron Brown. Stowe pursued these dangerous scofflaws into the parking lot and gunned down the kid to teach them that no waitress gets stiffed on his watch.

The "investigation" apparently found that Stowe feared for his life when, all on his own, he chased after the teenagers as they got into their car and the (admittedly) intoxicated driver tried to leave the parking lot. He must have been in imminent danger, because we all know that killing a passenger -- not the driver -- immediately stops hardened criminals intent on driving over rent-a-cops.

What a joke.

12 June 2006

There's bad and then there's just plain ugly.

If you wanted to define "Shitty Performance," you'd need look no further than the USA's play against the Czech Republic in their World Cup game. I've seen sharper office softball games. They had about two serious shots and played like a bunch of skittish children.

Convey needs to be taken out of the lineup, given a ticket to the USA, and told never to show up again. Passes both limper than linguine and to no one in particular. He was probably single-handedly responsible for breaking up at least five US attempts, including two 2nd half chances in the box in which he a) lobbed a lollipop to a Czech defender and b) centered a pass to the fabled "12th Man" (I won't even say he sent in a cross, because that would dignify it as a technically precise attempt) who obviously wasn't there. But a Czech defender was. Seriously, Arena should send him home.

Eddie Johnson was the only US player interested in shooting the ball.

The US defense was laughable from the beginning, when they failed to challenge the crosser, to the final goal, when Nedved split four defenders with a short pass that set up Rosicky's second goal.

Paul Doyle on the Guardian website said it best:
The US are fit, well-organised and play with great spirit: but they’re about as creative as a condom...

I'm not exactly sure of what he means, but it's a tremendous image.

About the only thing that will help them now is if the entire Italian team eats some bad Cannoli the night before.

When is a public service announcement a self-serving announcement?

So I rode the bus in today (the L2, possibly the most unreliable bus in the entire system. About 6 buses run down 18th Street through Adams Morgan. All but the L2 take a left onto U Street and head to points east. Only the L2 goes downtown, and that's only when it decides to show up).

At the front of the bus there was an advertisement promoting economics education with the following question (more or less): "For every $100 of food sold in a restaurant, how much does the owner get?"

The multiple choices were: $3, $5, $10, and I think $30.

The answer, according to the ad, is $5, or 5% of sales. I was intrigued by that because it's an average, and you can make averages lie like crazy depending on what you want to average in. So I checked the website listed on the ad, econ4u.com, and man was I disappointed. I expected resources and studies and, well, content. What I found was a few other quizzes and repeated appeals for funds for the group behind the site, First Jobs Institute, whose site looks almost identical to the econ4u.com site.

In fact, it's just as pathetic and useless as the econ4u.com site. Apparently, they're trying to make some sort of connection between people's first jobs and their later success. It's unintentionally hilarious. For instance, their featured profiles include Jack Schuessler, the current CEO of Wendy's, whose first job was "loading boxes." So all you box jockeys out there remember that each of you can be CEO one day. Except they hire about 100,000 box jockeys for every CEO out there.

Nothing against Jack, but seriously pretty much everyone has had a crap job as a first (or 2nd or 3rd) job. I was a waiter. My friends were generally fast food employees or chain retailer "associates." What in the hell does my first job have to do with economics education (except in the general sense that I got educated pretty quickly that I didn't want to do that the rest of my life)?

More importantly, if you're that concerned with the admittedly backward state of economics education in the United States of America, how about doing a little something on your website to counteract the woeful ignorance you see all around you? How about a link to some economic theorists like my favorite Karl Marx or every libertarian's dream date, Friedrich Hayek? Or John Maynard Keynes?

There's nothing of any educational value whatsoever on their website, yet they want my money to help them promote economic awareness? I might as well throw my money at some scheme to build personal webpages for the Amish.

09 June 2006

Dead.

Well al-Zarqawi finally bit it big time. It's hard to tell this early on what sort of effect his death will have on the insurgency in Iraq, which to me at least has seemed pretty amorphous and includes international terrorists, local power grabbers, anti-occupation nationalists, etc., none of whom are fighting for the same goals. Obviously, killing or capturing a leader is very important for at least morale purposes and often for strategic purposes as well.

Make no mistake, the dude was a nasty evil man, a bitter failure who had nothing going for him until the US invaded Iraq and somehow he became a prominent leader of a group whose main claim to fame was killing hostages. Not exactly the heroic stuff of, say, the French Resistance in WWII.

Interestingly, his death led Bush to come as close as he's ever come to admitting he lied about the Iraq / al-Qaeda links in the prelude to the Iraq Boondoggle:
"Through his every action, he sought to defeat America and our coalition partners and turn Iraq into a safe haven from which Al Qaeda could wage its war," Bush said.
Perhaps in savoring this victory, Mr. Bush allowed himself an unguarded moment. Not even Bush, though, is optimistic that Zarqawi's death will diminish the insurgency, saying, "We can expect the terrorists and insurgents to carry on without him." I suppose that's the voice of experience talking, long after the flight suit has been stowed away and the asinine swagger of "Bring them on" has quietly been transformed into his father's "stay the course".

It would be nice, however, if in this statement, like in nearly everything else he's ever said, Bush would be wrong. It'd be great if Zarqawi's loser division would pack it up and go back to their day jobs, whatever the hell they may be. And maybe a few will. However, I'm willing to bet Zarqawi was a symptom and not a cause. His death is unlikely to crush the insurgency in the same way as Che Guevara's did in Bolivia. It's also fairly unlikely that Zarqawi's image will appear on as many t-shirts.

08 June 2006

Whose values are we talking about?

Bush is trying to save his immigration policy ass, insisting that immigrants assimilate. As if that hasn't happened with every immigrant community thus far, excepting perhaps the Amish. Here's a brief snippet of the miserable failure's speech:
"One aspect of making sure we have an immigration system that works, that's orderly and fair, is to actively reach out and help people assimilate into our country," Bush said. "That means to learn the values and history and language of America."

Aside from the hilarious non sequitur definition that allows Bush to define "actively reach out and help people assimilate into our country" as "to learn the values and history and language of America" (yes, to assimilate can mean to learn the values etc., but it puts the onus on the learner, i.e. the immigrant, whereas his first clause puts the onus on the U.S. immigration system), Bush is really treading on some dangerous ground here.

I mean, do we really want immigrants learning U.S. values as Bush understands them? What are these values? Many people might say hard work, or the "puritan work ethic," is a core value, but certainly that's not in Bush's values toolbox. Or how about duty. Is duty an American value? Well, it might be for some, but Bush's National Guard history kind of puts the kibosh on that...How about honesty. Um, not really one of Bush's priorities. Fairplay? Wrong again.

Here's what a recent immigrant might learn about American values by emulating our President:
  1. Perception is more important than reality.
  2. Lie. If caught, blame the people who caught you.
  3. No morals should get in the way of getting what you want.

I suppose those are good values to learn in today's America. It's certainly Bush's way, and he made it all the way to President.

07 June 2006

Rearguard actions against reality.

I'm getting pretty damned sick of this whole "Activist Judges" and "Activist Courts" bullshit that the right wing continues to spew every time they disagree with a court decision. What the hell does it mean to be an "Activist Judge" anyway? In 2000, when the election headed to the Supreme Court, you can bet everything and then some that if Gore's argument had prevailed the Supreme Court would have been full of "Activist Judges." The Right Wing would have stepped up their calls for assassination or early demise of some of the justices.

Apparently, for the Right, an activist judge is any judge who believes that everyone has equal rights. It was those horrible activist judges who handed down "Brown v. Board of Education" back in 1954, and the more mainstream right wingers have had to swallow hard and pretend they like that decision as half a century has shown them and their beliefs up as the dinosaurs that they are.

Tony Snow, the current Bush shill, had the audacity to equate the gay marriage ban with civil rights legislation. Shameful. Under the Bush regime, excluding segments of the population from access to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is now considered the same as struggling for those rights.

I often reject progress narratives, but in this case I do see a bit of the dialectic at work, and it works toward full coverage of rights: child labor is now pretty much outlawed, colored and white only signs have come down, women have more access to more fields than they've had in the past, etc.

Conservatives are always on the losing end of history. Always.

06 June 2006

Thrills! Chills! Coming to you this summer, from BushCo Entertainment!

Predictably, in order to escape the doldrums of poor polling results and the lack of any solutions to the quagmire in Iraq, rising fuel prices, or actually finding Osama bin Laden, the Bush Administration and its Congressional cronies have turned to what it expects to be summer blockbusters: Assault on Marriage II: The Rising Tide of Stinking Homosexuals, Don't Burn That Flag IV: The Phantom Menace, and Guess Who's Bringing Their Estate Tax Repeal to Dinner.

Assault on Marriage II features a truly horrifying plot twist, in which two men get married, not only causing the wrath of God to descend upon New England -- instantly incinerating everything except the Bush compound in Kennebunkport -- but also leading heterosexual couples to decide not to get married because they don't want people to think they're "queer." Western civilization appears to be doomed, until Pat Robertson and James Dobson come riding to the rescue. Despite the carnage and strong language, no actual judges were assassinated during the filming.

Don't Burn That Flag IV, like most sequels to sequels to sequels, is looking a little creaky. Sure, back in the mid 1980's when it burst onto the scene, people wanted to see it just so they weren't left out of office water cooler discussions. This retread tries to breathe new life into the franchise by having the NSA build anti-flag burning zombie robots in their top secret labs. These robots work fine for a while, choking long-hairs before they can set zippo to stars and stripes, but things go awry when the zombie robots interpret their programming to understand flag desecration as including gaudy tasteless apparel:


It's a cliffhanger of course, setting us up for Don't Burn That Flag V, which I think has Rocky Balboa in his American Flag trunks defeating the zombies.

Finally, Guess Who's Bringing Their Estate Tax Repeal to Dinner pairs George Bush and Dennis Hastert as two uneasy partners (think Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, or more likely Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte) who must rely on their common bonds to destroy the dastardly plot of the liberals in Congress (since only two or three liberals were actually found in Congress, they had to use actors) to keep the Estate Tax on the books. As usual, the heroes discover that there's more to the plot than meets the eye: the liberals are controlled by none other than the preserved brain of Joseph Stalin, who hopes to rewrite the Estate Tax code so that it affects more than 2.1% of dead Americans. In this Sci-Fi thriller, the Estate Tax causes all of Iowa to lay fallow, as family farms (the few that don't belong to ADM and such) go under; meanwhile, every mom and pop restaurant closes down under the onerous burden of having accumulated a few million dollars...

Unfortunately, BushCo studios will have to tailor their marketing scheme to deal with the severely diminished core demographic of people who might be potentially affected by the brain of Stalin's nefarious plot: since 2000, the number of estates filing taxes has fallen from 123,600 to 63,800 -- and the Post reports that of that 63,800, "only a small fraction of those will actually be taxed." So how do you scare up support?

They've already laid the groundwork by continually referring to it as the "Death Tax," as if everyone were taxed for dying -- thereby making the core demographic include, well, everyone.

Oh, we're in for a long, hot summer.

05 June 2006

The worst thing imaginable... (by G.W. Bush)

Forget high fuel costs.
Forget stagnant wages.
Forget international terrorism.
Forget Iraq.
Forget my poll numbers.

Have you forgotten those yet? Heck, you will, because I have a humdinger of a threat sitting right here on our front porch, or, heh, heh, hanging out around the backdoor, if you know what I mean...heh.

Yeah, family instability is an important cause of unstable families, and I want to make sure fewer families can be created. Or what I mean is all you single mothers and fathers and especially you grandparents raising kids are nothing but homosexuals promoting your agenda, because we all know you can't get kids if you aren't marriagified.

And I don't govern by polls, so forget that.

As I said, "Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," just as ages of experience have taught us that it is abomination to interracialfy your blood. The Bible itself says that. Sure it does. Sons of Ham and all that -- it means Blacks were meant by God himself to be slaves forever and ever. Amen.

Not that I'm saying all you colored folk are in danger...no we've moved on as a society so no racism ever exists ever, especially not in the Republican Party. Unless maybe you're a homosexual Black man. Then we still hate you. But it's for your own good. Because there's a saying where I come from, "sometimes you love something and set it free, and then sometimes you eat dinner." I'm not really sure where that comes from, but it means that you have to be tough sometimes. You have to talk straight, even if people don't like it and your poll numbers go down. But forget poll numbers. They have nothing to do with this Gay Marriage thing.

Gawd, it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Gay. Marriage. If we don't ban this attack on family stability, well, we let the terra-ists win. That guy, Obama or Osama, sitting in his cave somewhere is laughing at us for allowing Adam and Steve to sashay on down the aisle. Well, not on my watch. I say, bring it on, all you terrorist loving homosexual marrying types.

Good night and God bless.
G.W. Bush

04 June 2006

Nothing of importance, really.

So the death of yet another Grateful Dead keyboardist (the number is at 4) got me thinking about my favorite all-star dead rock n roller bands. It's getting harder though, since we're reaching a time where some rock stars are dying of natural causes rather than the usual drug overdoses, suicides, and vehicular accidents. Or mysterious gardening accidents.

So here's my top band:

1. Joe Strummer
2. Brian Jones
3. John Entwistle
4. Keith Moon

Sure, there's bound to be someone pissed off that I left out Frank Zappa, but so be it. You can't argue with Keith Moon. Sorry. No other drummer comes close except maybe John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, but it's really not very close. Moon and Entwistle are pure geniuses.

The problem really is leaving all those talented people sitting on the sidelines: Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia...sorry but that dude from Alice in Chains doesn't make the first cut. Neither does Sid Vicious, because I want the band members actually to play, not stand on stage looking dazed, even if they are all dead.

I'm willing also to accept Cobain as a replacement for Brian Jones; he might mesh with Strummer a bit better.

02 June 2006

Kill em all, let God sort em out.

I nearly threw up my breakfast this morning when I read the letters to the editor in the Washington Post. Check out this gem, in which J.W. Smith more or less condones the slaughter in Haditha based on the well-established legal premise that the victims may have been involved:
But can we really assume that none of those killed -- excepting the small children -- had been involved in planting the bomb? If the Marines reacted to the most plausible source of the threat, don't we owe them the benefit of the doubt that those killed were involved or complicit in the murder of their fellow Marine?

While disturbing, this reasoning is useful to understand how far we as a society have come from the idea of the rule of law and due process. I'm not really aware of how possible involvement (apparently because they lived in the area?) leads to conviction and execution under our system's ideals, but certainly it's the very practice for which Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein is on trial. It's simply stunning to have someone argue that entire families -- children included, even if the letter writer seems to discount their involvement -- inside their homes needed to be exterminated as the "most plausible source of the threat."

J.W. Smith continues in this "willing executioners" style, finishing with this tidbit:
Must we continue to expect Marines to treat all people as noncombatants?
While this does not justify killing unarmed civilians, it certainly mitigates the accusation of "cold blood," which evokes the idea of emotionless action.

The answer to the question is "no," since it's obvious that even the insurgents and the marines themselves are "people," so that's nothing more than a red herring, and a really clumsy one at that. Furthermore, J.W. Smith's conclusion goes the further distance of attempting to do exactly what it claims not to do: it is an attempt to justify killing unarmed civilians by painting them as complicit with -- or perhaps active participants in -- the killing of 1 marine.

So long as we have apologists for state-sponsored murder like J.W. Smith around in significant numbers, our democracy will always be at risk, and our international moral standing will be driven deeper into the ground.

01 June 2006

I have seen the future.

Lately I've been having these blissful visions of an oil-scarce future, which by the way bear no relation to what that future would actually look like. Obviously, in an oil-scarce future, much of what we've taken for granted will no longer be possible, from plastic bottles to computers components and then some, and we'll probably be wandering around the deteriorating infrastructure of cities a la Robocop or maybe wandering the wastelands like Mad Max.

However, that's not my fantasy land, so in my idyllic future the assholes I deal with daily on my commute don't exist. No more Marylanders flying down Florida Avenue as if the future of Western civilization depended on their running that red light...No more Virginians blocking the box and then trying to roll over my bike as happened this morning.

No, in my future, all those assholes have been eaten by their neighbors in a horrific cul-de-sac Lord of the Flies barbecue.

The roads will be full of bicycles. Those funky four-seater surrey's won't be only for the boardwalk anymore. Sure, people will kill one another for their bike tires, but I push those thoughts of parts scarcity out of my mind.

I can envision riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with my family, telling my kids, "Here's the White House. I remember when we came down here to celebrate the night Bush was arrested for treason and most of his administration was thrown in jail, except for Cheney, who jumped from the roof screaming, 'Come and get me, coppers!' Then, after the trial, Bush was exiled to New Jersey. It was a great time."

I also see in that the future oil-scarcity will bring us:
  • a resurgence in the use of the human beat-box
  • vast increases in public lending library usage
  • the steam-engine renaissance, so Thomas the Tank Engine will never be scrapped
  • the de-population of inhospitable places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Florida
  • a return to sea voyages in which "before the mast" means something
  • more localized cultures
  • Viking raids
  • the collapse of ice hockey in the states south of the Mason-Dixon line
  • the re-regionalization of sports leagues, with cross country travel being prohibitively expensive
  • day baseball coming back
  • the death of the internet

Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.