Saturday, June 29, 2002

Hohoho

I just saw Scorpions plaing an acoustic version of Winds of Change on CNN. I didn't know if I should laugh or start headbanging. To be on the safe side, I made the metal sign while chuckling.

The best part, of course, was the lead guitarist playing an acoustic Flying V. RAWK!

Thursday, June 27, 2002

J Lo In a Quality Product. No, Seriously

I know I'm two years behind the curve on this one, but I just saw The Cell tonight, and I must say, it was a visually amazing movie. And not just because it gives us sweet, skintight, Jennifer Lopez cheesecake, without the terrible pop music. It's a fantastic looking movie, and the acting and story aren't horrible either.

It comes with the Mojo recommendation, as long as you can stomach some of the more disturbing stuff.
Worst. Idea. Ever.

Ugh... (via Drudge)
Howdy Folks

Mark Steyn's latest column for the UK’s Telegraph is up. Reporting from the G8 summit in Calgary, he makes fun of European Leaders, belittles the Anti-Globalists, and watches bare asses. Good stuff as usual.
The Times, They Are A-Changing

Sometimes I forget it in the daily grind, but now that I've had some time to think about Bush's Monday speech, I'm reminded of a realization I came to immediately following September 11. I've come of age in the most pivotal era in at least 50 years, if not in human history. Not since World War II has the future of the world been so unclear.

I was a child of the 80's, and an adolescent of the 90's. I was 7 when Reagan attacked Libya. I was 11 when the Berlin wall came and bodies burned in Tiananmen Square. I was 13 when the first gulf war ended. Being an unusually curious kid, I paid close attention to these events when they were broadcast live on the TV. I saw a world changing around me, something none of the futurists, social scientists, pundits, and writers I'd been exposed to had foreseen. The Soviet Empire was dead, and a new world was coming.

After these initial events, though, the New World Order seemed to fizzle out and die. The 90's were a non-decade when it came to international affairs, at least it seemed to us. Domestic affairs ruled the day. George I lied about taxes. Bill played the sax on Arsenio. Hilary tried to nationalize Health care. Rush Limbaugh became a cultural icon, for no good reasons I could discern. The culture wars raged, and the Republicans ended the decade in control of congress. By the dawn of the new millenium, my hometown of Seattle was turned into a battlefield by the luddite anti-globalization movement.

The economic boomtimes of the 90s had treated America well. A new Isolationism seemed an increasingly appealing idea to a nation that wanted to steer clear of foreign entanglements like the Balkans, which seemed to be the only areas of conflict in an increasingly peaceful world. The little wars fought by little people in little countries didn't affect us. History was pretty much over, and America seemed content enough to stagnate. Things were looking grim.

However, there were no external threats to the United States' continued existence. All the problems of the cold war had seemed to vanish in thin air. Instead, a new 60s style radicalism seemed to be bubbling beneath the surface, ready to tear the nation down. Universities, where the best and brightest of a nation were supposed to be prepared for life, had become cauldrons of dogmatic national self-hatred. Little did we know that worries about these "threats" were insignificant and silly compared to what really lurked out in the dark.

I think my generation was hardest hit psychologically from the 9-11 attacks. We young twenty-somethings and below are the post-post-modern generation. The hippies had rebelled against everything. Generation X had rebelled against them. Us, we grew up in a bizarre culture of anti-corporate MTV. Our rebellion was packaged and marketed back at us. I knew honor student cheerleader who had more tattoos than your worst merchant marines, and could hold their liquor better. Teenage moms were so 80's to us. The collapse of western civilization had become passe by '95.

We believed in fuck all, but after 9-11 we were suddenly under attack from somebody who hated us even more than we hated ourselves. Things suddenly mattered. We were at war. There wasn't supposed to be any more wars. Our pacifist vegan ex-hippie teachers had told us so. I'm one of the few people my age who remember the cold war, who remembers what it was like to go to bed and wonder if the missiles would fly while I was sleeping, killing me and everyone I cared about. I knew horrible things like the WTC attacks could happen, but I don't think most young people my age did.

When the madness of September 11 arrived, everyone suddenly realized the world wasn't the happy place they thought it was. America had been attacked in a catastrophic manner, and despite everything we were told to expect from our education system, we had done nothing to provoke it. Flags flew in a manner that hadn't been seen in at least 30 years. Patriotism suddenly moved from the least hip thing possible, to being tolerated in almost all places. The world was a dangerous place, and foreign affairs mattered. There was a war on, and even most whacked-out Naderites realized this was a fight against vile, intolerant, religious extremists intent on killing us all.

Great forces are now at work, and future history is being decided. The political map of the Middle East will be permanently redrawn within the next two years. Every time Bush gives a major policy speech, history is being made. Dubya's no Churchill in the speech department, but what the president says in these strange times is important. The next time you think about the war, think about the big picture. What is the world really going to look like in 5 years? In 10?

I've got a kid sister who's 16. The Soviet Union is an obscure historical side note to her. By the time she finishes college, the world will be drastically altered. I've also got a 2 year old niece. To her, the current war is going to be ancient history. She'll live in a world I can't predict, with all kinds of new threats and opportunities. I guess that's what makes life interesting.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Human Behavior, Explained Once and For All

I think Vodkapundit Stephen Green gets it perfectly right on his Rant Of Righteousness regarding the recent 9th Circuit Court decision about the pledge of allegiance. Everyone involved in this case should be dressed in nun outfits and dropped in the middle of Mormon country. That'll teach the sumbitches to take things so seriously…

Now, to celebrate Green's General Theory of Human Interaction, I have beer to drink.
Radio Free Turkmenistan

Porphyrogenitus over at Ranting Screeds links to this STRATFOR article on the possibility of a non-violent regime change in Turkmenistan, Supported by the US and Europe. Turkmenistan's President, Saparmurad Niyazov created a tyrannical, Stalinist dictatorship after the collapse of the USSR, and has used brutal methods to remain in control. Before the war in Afghanistan, the US made deals with him to gain access to Turkmen Bases.

Working with such a man was a distastful, but necessary move. But now that we don't need him any more, it looks like we're gonna back the opposition to get rid of him. Good.

Of interest to Chomskyites ass-lickers, Turkmenistan is important for any oil coming out of the Caspian, but Niyazov is all-for pipeline building. How long do you think it'll take for Noam to start defending ol' uncle Sap?
The Decline and Impending Fall of MSNBC

I'm a news junkie. I spend countless hours flipping through the 10 or so news stations my cable service provides. I'm the only person I know who gets drunk and tunes into C-Span at two in the morning. For a man such as myself, cable news has been the only alternative to incoherent Dan Rather rambling or idiotic network "news magazines," in which "news" means the latest heartwarming sick-three-legged-dog-walks-cross-country-to-find-his-family story. There's a mess of these all-news stations, but the three biggies are FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC.

Now, FOX is transparently biased to the right. Sometimes the newscasters admit this bias, other times, they stick to their "Fair and Balanced" line of crap. Memo to Rupert, you ain't fooling nobody. I used to watch FOX quite a bit, but I've mellowed from my more reactionary youth, so the constant bias usually just irritates me. Bill O'Reily, FOX's ratings baby, is a dirty populist demagogue, and I hate dirty populist demagogues. Plus he has a very punchable face. Picking up Geraldo didn't help the network in my opinion either. Neil Cavuto is the only FOX on-air personality I like.

CNN has been completely unwatchable since the end of the Gulf War, and is a wholly owned subsidary of the left. It tries to hide its bias, but it's obvious to anyone. Whether it's the constant verbal felatio given to Clinton throughout his tenure, or the never-ending, monotonous, Larry King interviews, CNN blows baboons. What can be expected from the creation of a man who married a Vietcong blowjob machine, and put his worthless fucking Braves on 50 channels? Havana Ted and Hanoi Jane are truly traitorous pieces of filth, and the network they gave birth to shows it. In the world of CNN, the US and Israel are always wrong, and anyone to the right of Teddy Kennedy is a jackbooted thug.

And any network that gives Paul Begala a full-time job deserves to be destroyed. I can see Carville, sure he's evil, but he's wiley. Begala is just a whiney little bitch. Jihadable offense if you ask me. Fucking infidels.

Now, when it comes to my personal viewing preferences, I've been watching MSNBC pretty consistently for a couple of years now. I like Tim Russert and Chris Matthews, even though they sometimes irritate me. Their normal news staff are far less irritating than the amateurish staffs of FOX and CNN. It always seemed to me that MSNBC's editorial bias was far less than either of the other two networks. Their guest choices always seemed more balanced: choosing opposing guests that are both smart, rather than one smart one and one dumb one to suit your political agenda.

After 9-11, MSNBC was great. They had all the best analysis, all the best discussions, all the best interviews. And they even got rid of Geraldo, and anyone who know me knows I just can't stand Geraldo. But things started going wrong. It started with Dr. Bob "video games cause violence" Arnot, on the scene in Afghanistan. Next came Christian-right blowhard Alan Keyes getting his own show, allowing him to lecture dumb college students he invites on for debates. And then they replaced the lovely Chris Jansing in the morning with a stupid and ugly team of New York radio talk show hosts.

However, I could have lived with all these changes, since MSNBC is still less maddening than the alternatives, but now they've gone too far. Yes, on July 15, one of America's great shit-for-brains returns to television. Yes, after backing Nader in 2000, the once mighty Phil Donohue is returning to television with his own show. The only good television Donohue ever produced was when Ayn Rand, not long before her death, would come on and take his ass to the cleaners. My mom was a big Phil fan in the mid 80's, so summer break between kindergarden and first grade, I watched a lot of the bastard (mom was stay-at-home). Rand came on several times, and although I wasn't sure who this crazy old lady was, I sure liked watching her embarrass Phil and his entire audience. It wasn't till I was almost done with college that I understood why.

But Ayn Rand is dead, and without her I don't know who will shut Donohue up. It's an intolerable situation, and I don't see any alternatives for my TV news fix. Right now I'm considering just saying screw it and watching China Central TV's channel that the cable service added. Sure it's propaganda, but its foreign propaganda, so maybe it won't be so domestically partisan in its news coverage. Whatever I do, I'm almost certainly going to watch a lot less MSNBC.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

More Brazilian Badness?

In connection with my previous post on South America, here's an Agence France-Presse article on an attack on Rio de Janeiro's City Hall yesterday. Here's the Associated Press version.
Powell Being a Team Player?

This article from the Times of India, and others I'm sure, has Colin Powell essentially restating what bush said, even if he doesn't sound happy about. I have hope that Powell will be a good soldier, and not undermine the administration's efforts, now that an anti-Yassir policy has finally been laid down.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Is South America in Serious Trouble?

William Quick of Daily Pundit links to an Economist article about a looming financial crisis in Brazil, on the heels of Argentina's financial meltdown. Richard Jahnke's excellent El Sur links to a Financial Times article covering similar material. The gist of both articles is that Brazil faces a collapse of investor confidence, after a large devaluation of the Real, and a rapidly sinking stock market. The country's credit outlook has been downgraded and foreign investors seem to be getting the hell out of dodge. Both articles voice the fear that Brazil will default on its debts, following Argentina into economic turmoil.

More troubling than these economic problems, however, is the political fallout that accompanies it. The left will probably gain control of the Brazilian government in upcoming elections. Anti-capitalists thrive in chaotic situations like this, and one thing that won't help Brazil is massive taxes and even greater deficit spending to support social spending. They won't be able to solve the problem.

So what do we get when we look at the situation though my much beloved Yeatsian circular history method? Well, if things in Brazil follow Argentina's example, we'll have nations facing stifling foreign debt, extreamly high unemployment, hyperinflation (Brazil doesn't have this problem yet) a center-left political class unable to effectively service increasing unredeemable debt. I can only foresee this ending with a violent reactionary right vs. radical left struggle as the current mainstream becomes more and more discredited. Either way, Gulags or Goosesteps, such a scenario can only end badly.

I hope I'm overreacting to the situation, as there are several differences between the Argentine and Brazilian crises, most notable Brazil's floating exchange rate compared with Argentina's disastrous dollar-pegged currency. But, the danger is real (and the danger from instability in Argentina and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela is bad enough without Brazil joining them), and, unfortunately, our attention is focused on the war against Al Qaeda style terrorists. My fear is that five years from now, after Al Qaeda has been defanged, and the newly democratic Iraq and Iran join the free world, we'll wake up to find nasty things brewing down south.
Bush's Speech

Summary: No Palestinian statehood without an end to terror and a democratically elected, Yassir-free government. Sounds about right to me.

Instapundit, USS Clueless, Daily Pundit, and Fierce Highway all have some initial thoughts on implications of the speech.
More links from Strategypage

Fucktards...
Showin 'em What For

Ian over at Fierce Highway gives a more detailed reponse to the Iraq Invasion article I linked to below. He says everything I should have, so go read it.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Hulk, er, Smash? Or Something...



I just love Photoshop Phrydays!
Gaming Goodness

Also found on Strategypage, this article from Ha'aretz on an Israeli wargame simulation covering Israel's reaction to an American invasion of Iraq. Interesting stuff, and a happy ending, at least where Arafat and Saddam are concerned.
The Cost of War

Via Strategypage, this article from Fortune magazine discusses the (mostly negative) consequences of the coming invasion of Iraq. It also nicely encapsulates most of the issues that have been covered in the past several months regarding operation foot-up-Saddam's-ass.
On US Military Support to Southeast Asia

I'm again using the latest issue of Foreign Affairs as my springboard to a post. In this case I'm looking at Is Southeast Asia the Second Front? by John Gershman of the Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) think tank. The full article is available on FPIF's website.

Now FPIF seems to be a member of the left-wing / pacifism / pro-unilateralism / pro-UN school, with other articles (by other authors) lambasting the US for bailing on the International Criminal Court, planning to attack Iraq, support for Israel, and a number of other. Gersham, though, brings up several important points regarding the War on Terror in Southeast Asia.

First and foremost, he reminds us that Islam in the region, even political Islam, is incredibly diverse. What passes for Islamist rebellions in most of the area looks like Abu-Sayef: petty bandits with very few hard links to Al-Qaeda, raising funds through extortion, ransom, and piracy. He also points out the possible dangers of forming alliances of convenience, which could turn into longer-term alliances, with oppressive and tyrannical governments. And the failure of many southeast asian governments, and abuses by their militaries, only pushes more people into militant Islam.

Gersham's conclusions is that military help to these countries, aside from minor naval and border assistance, is futile in controlling Islamist terrorists, and possibly morally repugnant as it could strengthen oppressive regimes or stifle young developing democracies. Instead, we should invest in developing local democracy though non-military means, such as debt reduction and helping to prop-up local social safety nets ensuring human right and freedom for the people of Southeast Asia. As Grisham puts it in his conclusion:
…the Bush administration should support economic policies that promote broad-based growth, even if these policies diverge from the wholesale liberalization typically advocated foreign affairs. by Washington. Targeted foreign aid can also play a limited role in poverty reduction in the worst regions and help support social safety nets. An even more valuable step would be to reconsider U.S. policies that have been an obstacle to expanding growth, such as opposition to debt reduction.
Now, it's true we all want freedom, liberty, and economic stability for the people of Southeast Asia, but our current national priority is in preventing terrorists from destroying our cities, not in making sure impoverished third-world nations have a functioning welfare state. All I've ever seen "social safety nets" do is create permanent underclasses. As for debt reduction, how can we ensure the same leaders who screwed up their economies are going to do a better job next time? Even if these measures weren't destined for failure from the get-go (which they are), economic reform is one of those big giant socio-political thingamagigs that Marxists are so fond of, and that take years and years to show results.

For the short term, strengthening military and intelligence ties with Southeast Asian nations is the only way to put pressure on dangerous Islamist groups that currently exist, and to deter the formation of new ones. I'd hate to support oppressive regimes, but when it comes to a choice between backing the greedy general or letting Al-Qaeda upset already destabilized third world nations, all the while organizing attacks on Honolulu, I'll chose the generalisimo every time.

In his essay, Gersham makes a point of the criminal nature of Islamist groups in this area, but I'd like to remind everyone that before the Jihadists entered the scene, Chechnya's rebellion was headed by the same types of bandit groups. The borders in this region are porous, and controlling the flow of dangerous individuals depends on having well trained military and police forces. Afghanistan is increasingly inhospitable to these violent Islamists, the despotic regimes of the middle-east want nothing to do with them, so where do you think they'll head next? Training local forces is the best way to keep the pressure on these groups as they begin to infiltrate the Muslim nations of Southeast Asia.

Gersham does remind us, however, that we need to pay attention to who we choose as our allies in this, but his blanket dismissing of military aid is foolish.