Monday, November 14, 2005

The Unintentional Irony of Christopher Hitchens

On Monday, November 7th Christopher Hitchens, author for Slate and Vanity Fair, wrote this article supporting intervention in Sudan. ( Mr. Hitchens is in a rare class with me. I disagree with almost everything he writes yet I somehow look forward to reading his articles. He’s an advocate of the decision to invade Iraq and a defender of unilateralism. Still, he makes his case with a thoughtful logic and careful reasoning I have to applaud even if I think every single conclusion he reaches is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Honestly though, on the rare occasions where I agree with him I smile a little inside, or I would were the matters of slightly less gravity. The Sudan is no exception.

For those who wish to skip to the meat of Mr. Hitchen’s article, I’ll sum up the situation. There’s a slow motion genocide going on in Sudan and everyone in the international community is sitting back and watching. Oh, there are some negotiations going on, but that’s just buying time for the strongmen to finish their work. He supports intervention in Sudan to save the victims, even if it must be unilateral. Lest anyone think I’m a complete “dove,” I agree.

The sad irony of the mater is, because of decisions made by this administration, decisions Mr. Hitchens supported, and I presume still supports, we’re not in a position where we can intervene in Sudan. In case anyone missed it, we’re already occupying two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) on top of bases in 144 countries and territories around the world we need to man. Beyond that we need to maintain a sufficient garrison to defend ourselves in the event of an attack. In short, the war in Iraq, has exhausted our excess man power. Think about it, if we had sufficient active-duty military, why would we be using reservists in Iraq? (,13190,Galloway_012204,00.html) Militarily we’re over extended, even intellectual conservatives acknowledge this. (

Beyond that, there’s a simple reality. War costs money. The debt and the deficit are both at record highs and growing. Iraq has cost us $200 billion and counting. ( Financially, we’re over extended.

The sad truth is, we don’t have the bodies or the money to stop the genocide in Sudan that Mr. Hitchens wants us to stop because we’re fighting a war in Iraq Mr. Hitchens wants us to fight. He seems to forget that even the U.S. must face the horrors of opportunity costs and part of the opportunity cost for Iraq was that innocents must die in Sudan.

But the point is not that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. That’s moot. We’re there now, that debate is over. It was the wrong decision and now we need to deal. The point is, when we again have the opportunity to invade another country without clear, present, and immediate danger to the lives of American or the lives of innocent people, and one day we will, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t. As the Sudan shows, the cost may be higher than we expect.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


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"Congressman Delay, the Joker called. He says that if your done with the laundering he wants his smile back."

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I breathed a slight sigh of relief Thursday when I heard the Harriet Miers withdrew from consideration for a Associate Judgeship on the Supreme Court. ( The process was actually painful to watch, at least in part because the public attacks were actually accurate. She really was unqualified for the position. ( Sadly, this wasn’t the real reason she was under attack, that just happened to be a convenient bill of good.

For a party headed by a man who doesn’t like litmus tests, Miers came under attack for failing on abortion. ( Her 1989 promises ( and reassurances of James Dobson of Focus on the Family ( weren’t enough to quell the attacks. Then came the revelation of her 1993 comments (€510POL20051026d.html) which made it look like she could actually separate her religion from the law. Cue the evil music and another round of conservative attacks. Maybe she wasn’t such a bad choice after all. But in the end, she withdrew only one day after this. Coincidence?

Of course the real looser here is Justice Sandra Day “I Wanna Retire” O’Connor. ( Poor woman.

But the big question is, does this mean Bush might actually forward Roberto “Torture’s Okay” Gonzalez? Now that would be fun! Pro-abortion and not wholly opposed to affirmative action to piss off the right and pro-torture to piss off the left. ( If this happens, get the pop corn ready, it should be a good, if short, show.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

And who cares anyway?

Recently, while surfing through the internet hunting down easily referenced and reliable information to complete my entry "Does George Bush Care About Black People?" I came acros this article from the Village Voice. ( The substance of the article was like dozens I'd skimmed that evening. What caught me though, was the first comment on the bottom of the page. "What is it with all the celeb's. You think because you make a few movies, sing a few songs, make a few million, that your opinion on world affairs matters?" - Posted by: Waldo VA

Let's start with the obvious. Here's a man sharing a view in a public medium, a man who, to my knowledge, hasn't made any movies, sung any songs (out side of his shower or the occasional karaoke bar), or made any millions, comeplaining bcause someone has shared his opinion on a public medium. Cue Alanic Morissette "Isn't is ironic?"

I wonder what Mr. Waldo would do if he were giving 15 minutes of fame and his own television appearance? My guess is he'd make some strong statements, but of course he'd agree with them.

Here's the thing, we live in a society that offers, nay guarantees, free expression and the free exchange of ideas, ( even when those ideas are unpopular. That means that a celebrity has not only the right, but the responsibility to advocate for the positions they believe in.

When Britney Spears comes out in support of Bush ( that's great, even though I dissagree with her. I may say she has no business supporting a man who's running partly on the sanctity of marriage. ( I may attack here on substance of her work, ( or lack thereof. I may attack her judgement. ( I might just make fun of her. ( But she has the right to speak her mind.

The major media, particularly cable news, has far too much time on their schedule and they love to cover celebrities because it brings ratings. ( Naturally, when Martin Sheen speaks, CNN listens. ( The fact that these people also have the money to buy ads ( I'm sure only further infuriates their opponents.

The thing is celebrities have a wider, more powerful platform from which to speak than people like Waldo and that's the thing that annoys them. I don't think that argument would have the appeal the "who do these people think they are" argument does, so naturally he covers his motives with misdirection. It sees to me to be a simple case of media envy.

Celebrity opinion is probably more valued than it should be, but the thing is, that's not a problem with the celebrities. When given a platform in a society with free and open expression, people should share their ideas and opinions. It's up to the listeners to determine if those opinions are worth more than anyone else's. Here's a hint, they're ussually not.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Racism making strides in Toledo

I’m not normally one to use profanity, at least not in print, but I have to make an exception for this post starting with: What the fuck?

For those not familiar with the story, here’s a basic run down. A neo-nazi group called the National Socialist Movement, or NSM, had plans to march in Toledo, Ohio in, what they claimed was protest of black gangs targeting local whites. They were met by a larger group of locals protesting their presence. Before the march could even begin the count-protest started throwing stuff at the NSM protesters and the situation escalated eventually degenerating into a riot. (

Where to begin with this one.

Okay, first off, as much as the police deserve credit for containing the riot, which they did very successfully, city officials deserve some blame for creating the situation. While all Americans have the right of free assembly and free speak, the Supreme Court long ago determined that free isn’t quite free. That’s why we can have laws against things like inciting to riot. City officials also have the right to establish march routes and rally sites. Knowing full well that a racist group was going to march through their city they allowed a situation to develop that, where it to have happened in a different section, say one further from the gang population they were protesting, would have been an incident involving fewer than a hundred people rather than the thousands it became. I’ve been in several marches and rallies in New York City and it’s common fair for them to occur far from the locations the organizers intended. In all fairness, it’s Toledo, Ohio, protests simply aren’t that common there. With all honesty, a lack of recognition and mismanagement of a potentially volatile situation simply isn’t all that surprising.

Now, on to the NSM. What exactly they thought they were doing marching through a predominantly black area in protest of gang violence I don’t understand. On their face, their actions were inflammatory and destructive. I’m also adding in pointless if their stated goal was their goal. Maybe someone can explain to me how a march and a rally can get gangs to throw up their hands and stop attacking people, but I doubt it. Maybe they hoped to draw attention to the issue, more likely they meant to exacerbate it and draw in members. If so they did a bang up job.

The counter protesters were, perhaps the most atrocious. Members of the International Socialist Organization and the One People’s Project distributing items to the crowd to throw at the marchers and police goes beyond inappropriate to simply disgusting. This is the United States and everyone has the right to speak and be heard, even white supremacist racist assholes like the NSM. They speak their minds, you speak yours and democracy flourishes. Start throwing shit and behaving like animals and rights that people fought and died to ensure start to erode. That’s the reason why there are limits on free speech and free assembly, because idiots like these can’t use them responsibly.

Finally, on to the rioters. The most remarkable thing is I’m sure some people actually ask “what were they thinking.” Hint, they’re a rioting mob, they weren’t thinking. Mobs don’t think, they break stuff, beat people up and try to migrate, they don’t have goals. Still, to everyone in Toledo that participated in the riot, I want to thank you, with dripping sarcasm and more than a little anger, for furthering the cause of racists everywhere. Thanks to each and every one of you, next time the NSM chooses to march, maybe they’ll have a few more members.

So bravo to everyone for causing massive property damage and fucking it all up. Thank you to the city and the protesters and the counter-protesters and especially the rioters. I guess living in a civil society was getting a bit boring for you.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Does George Bush care about black people?

I’m pretty sure everyone remembers rapper Kanye West’s declaration that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on Friday, September 2nd during a live television benefit for the survivors of hurricane Katrina ( If you live of the west coast you probably heard about this a bit late since the “liberal media” cut the feed until they could regain control and stifle the anti-Bush sentiment. Anyway, the question to me isn’t whether this was appropriate, that’s a question for accountants. If Kanye West’s tirade cause more people to give more money, then it was appropriate, if not, it was inappropriate. The event was, after all, to raise money for the disaster victims. However, the thing that interests me is, was he correct?

For those who aren’t clear, the following is a good, if opinionated, time line of events involving the Katrina disaster. ( It clearly shows that Bush, even though he was on vacation, was doing some work here and there. He spoke to Secretary Chertoff, ate some cake with Senator McCain (R-Az), peddled his Medicare plan, and that was all in one day. Maybe that’s why he couldn’t react, he was too busy playing guitar. After all a photo op with a country singer is so much more important than people dying.

Honestly though, Bush has never been the bastion of quick action during times of disaster. Need we recall September 11th when he sat reading “My Pet Goat” in a Flordia class room while people in New York were burning in the Twin Towers. ( There have been some bright spots from time to time. For example, when hurricane Frances struck Florida in 2004 Bush declared the state a national disaster area that day. ( However, the area stuck by hurricane Frances was 79% white and far more affluent than New Orleans. On top of that his brother is the governor and a presidential hopeful. (

But the big question to me isn’t whether Bush was slow to respond to New Orleans, it’s why. The fact is Dubya had lots potential motives to not care. New Orleans is predominantly black, but it’s also poor. ( Beyond that it also voted for Kerry in 2004. ( So maybe he’s not a racist. After all, he seems pretty comfortable with Secretary of State Rice, and everyone knows that no racist has black friends. ( Besides, its not like he’s every ignored the plight of black people in need of assistance ( even after the United Nations begged him to send in troops. ( Okay, so maybe he has. But, come on, the rebels were Muslims. (

Let’s be fair though. I mean those weren’t U.S. citizens and we all know how Bush feels about nation building. ( Well, at least when the nation is short on oil reserves and dictators that tried to kill his father. ( When it comes to domestic issues whether it’s speaking to the NAACP ( or backing affirmative action ( he sends a strong message.

The other side of the argument is that Bush has appointed a record number of minorities. ( How much does that mean? Hard to say. Either he’s race blind or he loves tokens.

The one thing that’s oddly clear is that voting patterns didn’t seem to effect anything. Mississippi voted solidly for Bush both times ( and They were hit hard as well, losing lives and property. While it is true that Bush did stop there before New Orleans, it wasn’t until the people have plenty of time to languish in the devastation. And I though Bush was loyal to his friends. Just because the poor of Mississippi like Bush doesn’t mean Bush likes the poor of Mississippi.
When it comes to the poor, Bush has demonstrated great care. He’s sending jobs to China ( and has increased their tax burden ( not to mention the effect he’s had on unemployment. ( bref3) The amount he cares is amazing... amazingly small.

So does George Bush care about black people? The jury’s still out. With the generally inverse relationship of melanin to wealth in the United States, it’s hard to tell which was his primary motive for disinterest. If it was race, there were certainly a lot of white people that paid the price as well. ( But as his mother explained just after Katrina “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.” ( With an attitude like that, how can anyone possibly figure out where junior could have picked up any racist or classist notions from?

Monday, October 10, 2005

One nation under Who?

Just recently the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their ruling that the inclusion of God in the pledge of allegiance violated the firth amendment right to freedom of religion. This will, I’m sure, start yet another round of barking and yelping about the horrors of judicial activism. No doubt someone will once again declare that "The biggest threat facing America today is the out-of-control judges…" ( My thoughts of this overblown "threat" were best summed up by John Stewart of the Daily Show who quipped, "…most notably 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Osama Bin Laden." I guess it’s easier to truly fear this threat if you believe 9/11 was the result of "...the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America." ( (I posted a link to the apology to be nice. :) )

Before anyone joins them, I want everyone to stand up and place their right hand over the heart and recite the following words:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nations under the Horned Beast and Gaia the Mother Goddess, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

If you’re Jewish, Christian, or Islamic that probably felt a little uncomfortable... ever think that might be the way your fellow Pagan nationalists feel? How about Atheists while were at it? The single word God is the most offensive and divisive word in the pledge simply because it forces millions of people to show deference to a being they don’t believe in to demonstrate respect for a country they very much do believe in.

But wait... Isn't "God" is a neutral, unaligned term not affiliated with any religion. Then why capitalize it? How about changing it to something truly neutral, like nation under whatever gods or goddesses you choose to believe in? Of course that doesn’t really have the same religions fervor, does it?

Freedom of religion was designed to protect government from religion and religion from government. Both are needed. When government starts taking sides for one religion, it's only a matter of time before it takes sides against others. Witness the oppression and expulsion of the puritans from England ( and or the witch trails of Salem ( A fair and equal society respects the rights of minorities as much as it respects the rights of majorities. That means that the beliefs of all religious groups must be equally represented, or equally ignored, personally I prefer ignored.
Respecting all religions is a monumental task with some serious potential negatives. Imagine the boy sitting next to your daughter in homeroom offering his heartfelt prayers to his lord Lucifer at 9 AM every morning. If she can pray to Jesus, why can't he can pray to his god?

Of course, we could just embrace God, march in lock step and cry out "God with us." It’s a pretty hot slogan and looks fabulous on a belt buckle even if it did have more followers in the original German, (