Archive for April, 2008

Lie lie lie, lie lie lie
April 26, 2008

Maybe it’s just because I grew up in a spiritual wasteland of heretics and secularists, but I didn’t even know we had a National Day of Prayer.

Now Morbo comes down pretty hard on the idea of a National Day of Prayer, but I’m a little more ambivalent. After all, it’s not just a holiday for theists; us hellbound folks can get in on the fun, too! For example, you could go out with your friends and family to see the movie Expelled, and learn about how scientists discriminate against and marginalize bullshit, thus provoking genocide. Or you can rock out to some Bad Religion (see above) which is a good thing to do on pretty much any day. Or, if you really feel like begging for the assistance of a powerful, indifferent being that probably doesn’t actually exist, you can try contacting your college’s financial aid office.

As for me, I’m going to smoothly integrate work and deliciously ironic play by observing my National Day of Prayer by studying for my upcoming final on the Enlightenment.

Like The Manchurian Candidate, but stupider
April 25, 2008

A lot has been made of the rank hypocrisy of this Krauthammer column in the blogs today, but Tom Barnett accidentally sheds light on what’s truly insane about this column in a completely unrelated post.

McCain would scare me on many levels, but a Dem prez plus strengthened Dem majorities in both houses? Yikes, that’s got Smoot-Hawley written all over it, and that would be significantly more damaging to world stability than even nuking Iran–I kid you not. [Emphasis mine]

Yep, that’s right. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are more destructive than nuclear weapons. Based on this Wikipedia article about the death toll of Hiroshima, that means that if a Democrat gets elected this year, that would kill over 200,000 people. Comparing that to other world leaders, Augusto Pinochet only managed to put 200,000 people in “situations of extreme trauma.” That includes murders, but it’s not all murders.

So in other words, it is the position of what I’d say is a not insignificant minority of Republicans that whether or not Obama ever high-fived Ayers or whatever is a relevant question because there’s a chance that Obama, as president, would condone or even commit acts of unspeakable violence against his own country.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for someone to explain to me how people who actually believe that are any less insane than 9/11 truthers.

Respect my authoritah
April 24, 2008

Based on this exchange between the FBI Director Mueller and Reps. Wexler and Cohen, you would think that the FBI basically what authority it has to police other federal agencies. But that’s not true at all! They actually have a very simple process for investigating other federal agencies.

Step 1: A federal agency (let’s say, the CIA) commits a crime (let’s say, tortures the shit out of people).

Step 2: FBI immediately cuts of all ties with the activities of that other agency!

Step 3: Break for lunch. Tuna subs in the Hoover building cafeteria today. Yum!

Step 4: Go through the proper protocol. Nobody’s exactly sure what that means because the FBI keeps it classified, but trustworthy sources have said that it indicates a divining rod, a magic eight ball, a deck of cards and two cups connected by a lot of yarn.

Step 5: Conduct a series of sophisticated experiments to determine if torturing the shit out of people is illegal. Results: inconclusive!

Step 6: Smoke break.

Step 7: Consult the Justice Department. Results: inconclusive!

Step 8: Good job, everyone! Justice has been served. Go to a congressional hearing to collect your reward.

Embedded in Jesusland
April 24, 2008

Matt Taibbi goes undercover in Hagee’s church so you don’t have to. So what’s it like in there?

Ridiculously weird.

The whole thing is worth reading to take in all of the hilarity/sheer terror, but here’s the moral at the end of the story:

By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.

Exactly. Look, religion isn’t a rational thing – it’s a limited surrender to the irrational and unknowable. That’s not a curse from the depths of cold atheist reptile heart, it’s just true. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith. And if people have no problem with making that leap, cool. But Hagee’s church and radical religion in general are all about taking that leap a lot further and letting it demolish the ability to think critically about things. Because people who can’t do that are a lot more pliable and easy to dominate.

This is the kind of mindset that the Enlightenment was supposed to get rid of. It’s downright medieval.

Your voting bloc’s incredibly stupid name
April 24, 2008

Looks like those white, working-class women who make up a large part of Hillary Clinton’s base finally have their own stupid name. “Wal-Mart Women.” Great.

Listen, people who are sort of like me: We need to start working on picking out our dumb name right now before David Broder does it for us. I don’t want to get stuck with “iPod Males” or some crap. How does everyone feel about, “Dinosaur Slayers?” Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

Pennsylvania: WTF?
April 23, 2008

For those of you who woke up this morning with a searing headache, mild nausea, and a general feeling of, “What the hell was that?” regarding the last several weeks of news coverage, look to my column today in NYULocal for an explanation of what the fuck.

In other campaign news, holy crap yes!

Predictions for Tonight
April 22, 2008

Hillary Clinton will beat Barack Obama by 5-10 points. Whereas a few weeks ago, such a small margin would have been considered an astonishing upset for Obama, during a rally today, Barack Obama will cough loudly. The media will jump on this, Hillary Clinton will jump on this and John McCain’s grinning face will appear on camera five minutes later to repeat what Clinton just said verbatim. Obama’s objectively pro-disease (not entirely untrue)! Hillary Clinton waxes nostalgic about nights out on the porch in Scranton drinking Nyquil with her grandfather and watching the big football game. Then she’ll do like fifteen shots just to prove she can take it.

It turns out, not a single real human being will actually give a shit, and Obama will still be beaten by 5-10 points. But now it will be considered a major victory for Hillary Clinton because of Obama’s horrible gaffe, now known as coughgate.

Meanwhile, nobody will notice the continuing revelations about John McCain’s ethical problems. McCain, puzzled by this, will hold a press conference in which he declares his intention to invade Vermont, just to see if he can get away with it. The conference will go completely uncovered.

Pennsylvania Primary Day!
April 22, 2008

I totally forgot that was today until this morning’s newspaper kindly reminded me, giving me a strange mixture of relief and nausea. Relief, because it’s one more state I’m not going to have to read about for a solid month before their primary, and nausea because the Pennsylvania Primary is kind of like a bad hangover the morning after primary season would normally have ended. The whole “bitter” mess didn’t do a whole lot to detract from that perception.

In that spirit, here are two news items that you’re going to hear absolutely nothing about today:

The Bush administration has been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to manipulate the American media for years. The DC press corp, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to give a shit.

Speaking of hangovers, Guantanamo detainees are alleging that they were drugged as part of their interrogation. I’m torn here – disgusting intrusion on their human rights, small step up from being waterboarded, or both?*

Check out the special cameo in that article!

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of “mind-altering substances” on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or “profound” psychological damage. U.S. law “does not preclude any and all use of drugs,” Yoo wrote in the memo. He declined to comment for this article.

Well that’s okay. Maybe the Pentagon has another marionette WaPo could interview about this.

*Unless they were being drugged and waterboarded, which is likely. But think about how depressing it is that when this news broke, a reasonable reaction was, “Well, it’s not quite as bad as some of the other shit they’ve been doing over there.”

Like a big bacchanalia for IR nerds
April 21, 2008

Yo, check it: Exactly a week from now, I’m going to be attending not one, but two NYU events with former US Senators discussing foreign policy and national security. The first one, called the Cohen-Nunn dialogues, is going to feature former Senators William Cohen and Sam Nunn, Mayor Bloomberg, and former Homeland Security DepSec Admiral James Loy.

The second one, a couple hours later, is going to feature CHUCK HAGEL.

So my question to you, fine readers, is this: If there are Q&A sessions for these events (and I’m willing to be there will be, especially for the Hagel one), what questions should I go ask them? I’ve got my own ideas, but if anyone suggests questions I like more, I’ll go with those ones instead.

Bill Kristol is wrong about everything, Part ?
April 21, 2008

I tried to write a takedown of Bill Kristol’s Passover special, I really did. But every single time I tried reading a paragraph of it, my eyes lost focused or rolled so far back in my head it hurt.

There’s just nothing to be outraged about here. It’s just too … fucking … dumb. It transcends normal human conceptions of vapidity, hence the infinity sign in the title.

UPDATE: Apparently the infinity sign didn’t show up in the title. Question mark works too, though. As in: WTF, Bill Kristol?

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