Monday, November 29, 2004

Highly annoying article in the New York Times today.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

It raises red flags with me when the ICRC and whoever received the leak at the Times have to use weasel words like "tanatamount to torture" and "amounted to torture." Something is either torture or it isn't, and it seems to me that the intention here is simply to introduce the term "torture" into the discussion of Guantanamo. The ultimate goal is simply to supply Al-Jazeera with another series of headlines to further inflame the Arab world and further undermine the democracy effort in Iraq.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Maybe it's because I'm sitting here with a knot on my head from getting hit by a chessboard (don't ask) but I was--God help me--fascinated by the story in today's Guardian, about Ozzy Osbourne's encounter with a burglar.

It's fascinating on multiple levels, not least for the many great Ozzy-isms ("drive-by sausages"; "You gain on the roundabouts and lose on the swings") or the hilarious concept of the doddering Ozzy "grappling" with an intruder. The story's even more fascinating subtext--this is the commie Guardian, remember--is that home invasions are, at root, entertaining. Unlike America with all its nasty guns, where people get shot everyday and there are stalkers and drive-by shootings, Merrie England affords the opportunity to have your home merrily invaded and your property merrily confiscated by your merrie neighbor. Universal gun control has meant for the UK a burglary rate several times that of America, and--in the iron Law of Unintended Consequences in full force--an armed robbery rate twice that of the USA.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Wonderful quote from a recent column by R. Emmett Tyrell:

At the heart of the liberal crack-up, which I first diagnosed in 1984, is the impulse to politicize everything from food to sex to happenstance -- and to moralize. The liberal of the liberal crack-up is a free-floating moralizer.

That's exactly it. For all people say that conservatives want to "impose their moral values" on the rest of us, the lefty is far more predisposed that way. There is no issue--even the weather--to which a liberal cannot attach a desperate moral imperative.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why is it that people who refuse to "judge" dictators from other countries by our standards of human rights ("We shouldn't impose our cultural norms on other societies") are the same ones who insist on judging people who lived hundreds of years ago by contemporary standards of human rights? George Washington is evil because he owned slaves, but the Islamic fundamentalists who want to reintroduce chattel slavery? Not our place to judge.

I can't resist reporting some of the hysterical reactions to yesterday's classic New York Post cover, from today's letters page.

How much did Phillip Morris pay for the front cover advertisement?

Thank you for continuing to encourage the development of cancer.
Mark Leininger, Manhattan

Your cover is a disgrace.

War is not a video game.

Actual people are losing their lives.

At least 10 U.S. soldiers died early in this battle, not to mention many innocent Iraqi civilians who hadn't left the area.

This man is not a cartoon character. He is a real man who has just been through some of the most trying moments of his life — moments that will most likely haunt him forever.

Yet, there you are exploiting him and promoting cigarettes.

It's disgusting.
John Keenan, Manhattan

The Post's cover was horrible and crude.

How could you compare our soldiers to the Marlboro Man?

We are not "kicking butt" in Iraq.

We are in an unjustified war with a people who will never allow democracy to come to their country.
Janna Passuntino, Manhattan

I was shocked to see the front page of your newspaper.

Showing a GI smoking and portraying it as being cool is disgusting, to say the least.

First of all, you are promoting smoking, even though it is a health hazard.

Secondly, our brave men and women are fighting a tough war in Iraq, and to show them as you did does not do them justice.

Maybe showing a Marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have had a more positive impact on your readers.

Smoking should be outlawed, not endorsed.
Ali Mahdi

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Sorting out the fallout from the election. I've been reading comments on lefty sites, mostly for the sheer schadenfreude of it all, but also for insight. I see a lot of this:

My eyes are still puffy from crying last night. Bush is ruining my country. I guess I'm insulated from the religious right since I live in Los Angeles. It frankly amazes me that there are people in my country who are so backward in their thinking.

One of the things that most depresses me is that I don't understand the majority of my country and how they could vote the way that they did. I love America and I was born and raised here, but I'm starting to feel as though I don't belong here, that as a liberal, progressive person I'm in an ever decreasing minority.

Statements like this explain a lot of the disconnects that make much of American life so baffling to the average liberal. They regard people who don't think like them as beneath contempt. They can't imagine that any other point of view than their own could possibly be legitimate. And they are acquainted with almost none of them:

>...it's harder for me to understand why anyone would willingly want him in office (of all the people I know, I can only count 3 or 4 as Bush supporters).

The predominant emotional states are melodrama and self-pity:

Between California secession and the fact that I ordered a Qur'an on-line right after 9/11 to help remind myself that muslim does not equal terrorist, I sooooo have an FBI file. If you don't hear from me, expect a post card from Guantanamo!

If I go overseas for vacation this winter with my American passport, I hope people will know that as a black guy, I am as big a victim and an enemy of this administration as anyone.

But then again, as a woman, I'm wondering if I'll even be allowed to vote in 4 years.

I have a feeling my Black ass might be forced to pick cotton like my ancestors.

And, most entertainingly, their beliefs are often delusional:

Personally, I think a Edwards/Clark ticket could reconnect with many of the parts of the nation that Kerry could not.

Well, that was interesting.

Of the many satisfying things that happened tonight/this morning, one of my favorites was the utter and total failure of the idiotic "Vote or Die" and "Rock the Vote" business. According to ABC News, only 18% of the so-called "new voters" voted in what was otherwise an extremly (for the USA) high-turnout election. 18 percent.

As I write, ABC, CBS, and CNN have refused to declare Bush the winner. And of course the Kerry campaign refuses to concede. And I think this is wonderful. This whole ridiculous episode, in an election where they lost the popular vote by 3-4 million, where they trail in Ohio by nearly 150,000 votes, only makes the Democratic party look like pinheads. And the networks' failure to declare for Bush makes then look even more irrelevant than they are.

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