10.15.2004

John Stewart on Crossfire

Here is a torrent of a great video of John Stewart appearing on CNN's Crossfire (transcript) where Stewart basically lambasts them for being hacks instead of honest journalists. I love the last question where the crossfire guys prove Stewart's point perfectly. Stewart is fast becoming a bit of a hero.

Cheney's lesbian daughter

If you read the news you probably already know the Cheney family is livid over Kerry's mention during the debate of their lesbian daughter. It seemed perfectly harmless to me and it seems odd that when Edwards and Cheney were debating, the mention got a warm thank you from Cheney. It seems equally odd that since Cheney talked about her during the republican convention and made her a part of the presidential campaign on his own that he would get so upset over a rather innocent comment from Kerry. Maybe he's upset because he put her on the front line and all she got was a nice comment. I also find it odd that when republican call her names the Cheney family never seem to mind. So who is really using the Cheney girl for political purposes?

But you know what's really funny about the whole thing? Cheney's wife wrote a book about a lesbian love story which was published in 1981. The book must have been extremely popular because there are only two for sale on Amazon, one for $500 and one for $800. The comments there are priceless. One blogger is even posting the book on the web.

Make of it what you will

but I see a total disconnect between this units leadership and the situation on the ground...

Army Reserve platoon in Iraq has been arrested for refusing to deliver a fuel convoy consisting of broken down trucks (some can't top 40 mph) without escort.

10.14.2004

Two more reasons to dislike Bush

I was thinking about abortions the other day. A church nearby has a sign that says 80 babies a week are killed by abortion and that seemed like a low figure because that's less than two per state per week. To be such a big issue I figured there were thousadns per week or something. I guess they were using old numbers.

Reason to dislike Bush if you're a conservative:
abortions on the rise under Bush
and if you're simply a human being:
AP Story
UNITED NATIONS - The United States has refused to join 85 other heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, health care, and choice about having children.

President Bush's administration withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to "sexual rights."
Could this administration possibly be any more sexist and petty?

(Let me go on the record and state that I am 100% for women's sexual rights. Especially if I am involved with the exercise of those rights in some way. And if I may be of any assisstance in helping any women realize these rights, I pledge not shy away from my civic duty)

On Iraq

I just have to get a few things off my chest because I've heard or seen no one talk about many of them anywhere else. I'm a conservative, and this is why I could never vote for Bush. Warning: written poorly and without regard for a much needed editing.

I was against the war but not from the beginning. At first I thought we were only rattling the sabers to get Saddam to open up. That is supposed to still be true and an invasion was supposed to be the last resort, but I doubt anyone really believes that now.

The thing that turned me against the war was Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N.

Aside: I love Colin Powell. This guy is no politician or partisan hack. He was a well respected military leader who worked his way to the top. He's probably the most respected American in the world today and every bit of it is earned. I deeply regret that he doesn't want to run for president. I don't blame him, but if there's one man we need to lead us, and the world, in the war on terror it's Colin Powell. He would be the precisely right man at the right time. It's like all his life's work has culminated to this destiny but some frat boob crook got it instead. What a tragedy.

So anyway... a closer look at his presention showed it to be ... lacking. Very lacking. I realized that the only intelligence tools that I possessed were google and a brain that is good at piecing together information so maybe they knew something I didn't, but this was supposed to be our very super duper bestest information in the whole wide wide world on Saddam's weapons programs and it still didn't hold up to a magnifying glass much less the microscope it should have. As Steven Aftergood of globalsecurity.org later put it "I'd be a lot happier with one good reason that a lot of bad ones."

Then I began to examine the situation more closely and I came to the realization that it was all a smoke screen, there was no way we weren't going to invade Iraq. We had troops in place long before inspectors and it's not like they just flew over there and could fly back in a couple of days. We had built and expanded bases for the operation. We weren't flexing our muscle, we were telegraphing our intentions. There would be no turning back.

At the time we were giving lip service to inspections yet the information we were supplying them actually hampered their operations more than anything. We were sending them on wild goose chases to abandoned sites in the desert where they constantly found nothing.

Those months were frustrating as every chance to avoid confrontation seemed to be squandered by the very people who were saying they wanted to avoid war. Now let me say that I didn't care about avoiding confrontation with Saddam. He was a bad guy who the world wouldn't miss but I was against it because we didn't have the time or resources to focus on this two-bit dictator while we're in the middle of a war or terror. Want to save the Iraqi people and promote democracy? Great, I'm with you. But later. Not now. We're a little busy right now. Let's worry about ourselves right now and worry about Iraq later.

What was so maddening was watching our "leaders" lie every single day in order to promote this thing they said they didn't want and they even blamed the other guy for.

The war itself was based on Saddam's supposed failure to disarm. Every day we'd hear how those 10,000 liters of anthrax that he never accounted for "threatened the world". But here's a little reality, folks. Saddam's chemical and biological weapons had a shelf life that was usually measured in months, weeks, or even days, not in years. None of the weapons that were "unaccounted for" were a menace to us. It takes a lot of technology and know-how to make these weapons stable over time and Saddam never was any good at it before sanctions and there's most certainly no way he could have became so after sanctions were in place and 95% of his capabilities were destroyed in 1998. No, that's like saying a homeless man is a business threat to Warren Buffet. Maybe in some crazy alternate universe but not the one you and I inhabit. Ok, not the one I live in anyway, I don't know about you.

The whole illogic of this war is what bugs me. We were going to war on the basis of U.N. resolutions that we couldn't prove had been violated. The U.N. was deemed "irrelevant" but the rules it had in place that could benefit us were said to be very relevant. I'm not a fan of the U.N. but if you're going to use them as a reason to do what you're trying to do then you have to play by their rules and at every step we were trying our best to undermine those rules while at the same time harping about the importance of a select few of them.

As an example of more illogic is the war resolution itself. It gave Bush the right to use military force but it never gave him the right to invade and occupy the country. I'm sure the lawyers could outargue me on that but the resolution gave the President to use the military to do two things: defend U.S. national security against the threat posed by Iraq and enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions with Iraq. It said nothing of emptying the treasury on a bloody occupation. Maybe that's implied in "military action" but not for me. "Military action" is taking out a few targets. Invasion and occupation is much more serious.

Another aside: the lawyers might want to take a look at the definition of "national security" to see if it justifies an invasion of a soverign nation.

First off, even if Iraq did have weapons during this time that doesn't mean he was a threat to our national security. "Seen in the light of 9-11", as the president likes to say, it may mean there's a chance, but it's far from a certainty. "Seen in the light of 9-11" or not some of our best allies could well be seen as much more of a threat. Pakistan has a top scientist who "went into retirement" in 2001 only to turn around and sell nukes to anyone who wanted them until later "discovered". It's painfully obvious that his "retirement" was only a way for the Pakistani government to deny their equally obvious association with his acitivities. When he got caught he was left to rot in prison for the rest of his life pardoned with the full public support of the Bush administration. (this is the A. Q. Kahn nuke smuggling network that Bush keeps mentioning in the debates as having such wonderful success disrupting)

Back to Iraq... the resolution gave Bush the authority to enforce UNSC resolutions and protect our national security, but it said nothing of invasion and occupation. "Protecting national security" never starts with a massive long term invasion/occupation. We may do it to Grenada or something but not on a large scale. A good litmus test for protecting national security is that operations should always first be attempted without costing more than doing nothing.

Let's expand on that. With Iraq, for example, if we did nothing, the worst case scenario is that Saddam would pass chemical weapons to terrorists. There are several points to note about this. One, we didn't know if he even had chemical weapons. Two, it wasn't clear if Saddam was even on a friendly basis with terrorists. Three, even if he were it's not likely he would trust them with chemical weapons. Four, there are dozens of mechanisms in place to prevent an attack even if terrorists acquired them. Five, chemical weapon attacks are extremely difficult to carry out (remember the sarin attacks in the Japanese subway). I don't believe our actions were in our own interest given these requirements.

If Bush were reading this he would say that I'm trusting a madman with the security of the United States. On the contrary, I'm simply saying that a massive invasion was not warranted over remote possibilities. I believe we could have used smarter and cheaper military action to rid ourselves of this imagined menace. Namely, I think we should have sent inspectors in with a vengence. If Saddam denied access to a certain facility, bomb it to smithereens. If he acted up in some other way, bomb him until he changed his mind. Saddam was never the madman they make him out to be. Evil maybe, but not totally mad. He always caved in when he saw his options running out. During the first gulf war he signed the cease fire. He didn't stand to fight until death during the invasion, he ran. Self preservation was always his top priority, not vengence.

It could have been handled in a much smarter way. Now we're stuck there for years, spending billions that we don't even have. This country should never tie it's own hands the way we did with Iraq, to do so during a worldwide campaign against terror is not only foolish but borderline treasonous. In fact, I think this was the plan all along.

Take, for example, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This is the guy who is allegedly going around Iraq decapitating any Americans he can get his hands on. He is our public enemy #1. Persona na grata. Yet, before the war we knew precisely where he was living. He was living under the no fly zone in northern Iraq and the military was pressuring the White House to wipe him out. And what happened? I'm sure you know. Bush defended freedom against evil wouldn't allow it because he was afraid it would hurt our argument for invading Iraq.

Another example. We went to Iraq to disarm Saddam of any NBC (nuke-chem-bio) weapons didn't we? Yet during the invasion we never secured the facilities that we were told housed these weapons. The Al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility outside Iraq was looted after the invasion. Kids were outside playing with contaminated material! This site was full of nuke material that was sealed by the U.N. after the first gulf war. It was just recently determined that a bunch of it seems to be missing.

Nonproliferation, that means making sure bad stuff doesn't fall into the hands of the wrong people. That's what this war was fought for yet that is possibly what this war caused to happen. Nonproliferation, that's what Bush says we went to war over, yet when Joe Wilson said something the president didn't like, someone in the White House broke federal law and released the identity of Wilson's wife who worked for the CIA on nonproliferation. She was forced to retire and her networks of informatns were blown. There is a traitor in this administration but no one seems to care. It seems politics, to this administration, are much more important than our lives.

There were about four people in Iraq who could theoretically pose a threat to the United States. Saddam, his two sons, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. If Bush wqasn't so impatient he would have found out that the list was only one name long; al-Zarqawi. And if he had our interests at heart rather than his own, Zarqawi would have been killed with a safe push of a button in a jet in early 2003 and our military would not be tied somewhere we never needed to be in the first place.

What most people don't realize is that military units are usually only rated for one active duty rotation in a warzone roughly every 5 years because after returning it takes so long to decompress and replace men and equipment and train them all to go back out that anything quicker only results in less effectiveness. What we have done in Iraq has done more to weaken our military and national security than arguably anything anyone else could do to us.

The question is, how could we get Afghanistan so right and Iraq so wrong? The answer is politics. This was a politcal war from the beginning and anyone who says the White House isn't micromanaging operations in Iraq is deluded. That's why it keeps getting worse and will continue to do so as long as we have a man in the White House who values himself over the country.

That is why I was and continue to be against this war. At least partially. It's such a huge subject that I know I probably left out about 90 things that I will think of later but that's it for now. My opinions haven't changed since before the war began.

William Gibson is blogging again

William Gibson, who's writing is the namesake of this blog, has dusted off the keyboard and began blogging again.

Debate audio

Torrentocracy has the third presidential debate online for, if, you know, you have trouble sleeping at night or something.

A wise man said:

"People who are willing to rely on the government to keep them safe are pretty much standing on Darwin's mat, pounding on the door, screaming, 'Take me, take me!'"
-- Carl Jacobs, Alt.Sysadmin.Recovery


10.13.2004

Master Debaters

(updating this post as the debate continues devolves...)

I think maybe taping his side of the debate at a different framerate because Bush is, like, in slow motion or something. Either that or those 'ludes of Jenna's that Bush dropped before the debate are really paying off. He's, like, mellow, man, reeaal mellow. He's not even slurring his words like a drunk frat boy like he was at the last debate. But it's a facade because he's getting excited too easily, and repeating the same thing over and over. I don't know why he thinks insulting Ted Kennedy and Massachusetts is supposed to score him points.

I'm sick of this "sancticy of marriage" crap. I'm not for gay marriage but I'm against using the Constitution to discriminate against a group of people. If Bush were worried about the "sancticy of marriage" he needs to do something about the 50% divorce rate in this country. Personally, if I see a gay couple walking down the street I could care less if they're wearing rings on their fingers.

The mention of "activist judges" is just as lame. Sure some judges make poor decisions but Bush's plan is to load the courts with activist judges that he agrees with. There's no gain in that. And when it comes to gay marriage the judges are only interpreting their states' Constitutions and deciding that it's unconstutional to discriminate.
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What was that laugh Bush just did when asked about health care? It was like the most evil sounding laugh I've ever heard. A slow, deep, raspy, devilish "heh heh heh". That was seriously freaky. It was like a 400 year old ghost with the flu. Was Bush momentarily possessed by one of satan's minions? We'll have to go to the instant replay on that one.

Or maybe I just heard it wrong.
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I've heard that the moderator is Bush's golf buddy. Judging from the hard questions given Kerry and the softballs thrown at Bush, I guess it's true.
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Kerry is starting to bug me. He never screws up. His brain actually seems to work and he doesn't vapor lock and stare at the camera like a deer caught in the headlights like Bush often does. On one hand you'd think a president should have the capacity to power coherent abstract thought processes but on the other hand we know both these twist are crooks so it's sort of reassuring to have a dumb one rather than a smart one. Who would you want managing your money? Don Corelone or Fredo?
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Did Bush have a stroke or something? The whole left side of his face seems to be heading south for the winter.

Uh, hold on, Kerry's up again, time for my nap...
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Well, you can pretty much kiss Special Forces good-bye because Kerry wants to double the number of SpecOps. The problem is that this will take a lean and mean fighting force and replace it with a monster beaurocracy and the training standards will have to be taken way down to fill the ranks. They tried it with the SEALs, didn't work. They tried it with Delta Force, didn't work. But I'm not so worried, I don't think the military will let it happen. The people with power in the military are spic and span Generals and Admirals and they're suspicious of those dirty long haired warriors.
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Kerry lost the assault weapons question but not because Bush beat him, he beat himself. Bush was just towing the old NRA line but Kerry argued for the ban by saying it would make cops safer. He obviously doesn't understand the ban. If he did, would he change his mind? Who knows. Congress won't vote for it again anyway so I doubt it matters.
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"God wants everyone to be free, and that's what guides my foreign policy" (I hope I quoted that right)

This, unfortunately, sounds a lot like some of the talk of the interventionists that got us into the Philippines at the turn of the century.

Pre-debate spectator prep

Before watching the presidential debate tonight, take a moment to head over to the website of U.S. Representative Ron Paul (the only man in congress who follows the Constitution and the only fiscially conservative conservative in D.C.) and read Not Yours To Give by Davy Crockett.

Then, while watching the debate tonight count how many billions of dollars the candidates promise to hand out and ask yourself what gives them the right and how their spending fits under the Constitution.

10.12.2004

Prehistoric pr0n

Here is a gallery is dirty images that were recorded on cave walls and carved in stone by prehistoric swingin' humans. It's in Spanish, but really needs no translation.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
(ViaBoingBoing)

No doubt it's from working with aliens...

(from today's Secrecy News)
ILLNESSES AT NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY TO BE PROBED

Employees of the National Security Agency seem to have a disproportionately high incidence of illnesses, prompting Congress to seek a study of the matter.

"The [defense authorization] conferees are concerned with continued reports of work related illnesses among the National Security Agency (NSA) employees at Fort Meade, Maryland. The conferees direct the Secretary of Defense to undertake an epidemiological study and health hazard evaluation related to NSA buildings at Fort
Meade."

See the report language from the 2005 Defense Authorization Act here:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2004/hr4200conf.html#nsasick
One assumes that Mulder and Scully will be investigating...

10.11.2004

SNL Presidential Debate

Here is a torrent file for the 38MB avi video of Saturday Night Live's skit on the second Presidential debate. Again, if you need a bittorrent client, I recommend Azureus, still the only java app that was ever worth a damn.

10.10.2004

Random Blog Links

More blogs that have been randomly linked here via the Blogger searchbar...

Nazyah-Emulsion of feelings!
[ beertrackGo ]
Samartrip
What the hell am I doing here?
Carole's Clutter - Nashville Sept2004
Alfarrábio
The MUSC Tiger
:: next 12 exits ::
Urpppp
Segunda em Sampa
Alisher Navoi - "Pearls from the Ocean"
Movie review for those who care
Retorica e Persuasao
Hermo - A Transcontinental Betta
Writing Desk of The Scribe
Syl's Heaven of Tranquility
life goes on

The real Kerry quote

Everyone's up in arms about what Kerry said recently:
"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."
But, and damn the Bush campaign for making me defend Kerry because I really don't like him but the Bush campaign have been such incredibe liars that I end up doing it, here's the complete quote:

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."
So he thinks we need to defeat terrorism to the point they're not a threat. Sounds rational to me. We can't completely defeat "terrorism" because it's a tactic and it's not an army, a group, or anything tangible. It's like the "war on drugs", you can't eradicate drugs, but you can beat them down to a minimum and you can beat them to where they aren't a dire danger like in, say, Columbia. You can beat al-qaeda because they're a group, but you can't beat terror because it's just a way of doing things. To me, Kerry's quote sounds like common sense on what a victory will look like with terror being beaten as much as possible and becoming a small problem instead of the huge one it is today.

This is a shining example of the need for first sources. Most people will only read the first sentence but if you're interested in the truth never believe anything unless you get the original and complete source and make up your own mind about it. Don't fully believe anything without the original source, and that includes anything I say.

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