Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The C-Word

Palmer's last quip in the previous thread reminds me of something that happened recently. I was out on the town with Demo and B-Spot, as well as a comely female friend of ours (who shall remain nameless). We were just drinking away and laughing at some joke and then the C-word popped out, not sure who said it (ok it might have been me). Oops. It caused a little awkwardness, nothing we didn't all work out cause we're great friends and have known each other for years.

Anyway, it got me thinking, Shakespeare asked "what's in a name?" but I'm wondering now, "what's in a word?" I know that women seem to see it as the ultimate insult if a male uses it, but I have heard women use that word to describe each other. I also realize that the social meanings of words depend to a large extent on which gender utters it; maybe it shouldn't be that way, but c'est la vie.

Do any of you have any interesting "C-word" stories to share? Please, everyone - lets all treat this as a challenge to see how much social sensitivity we can maintain.

INTERESTING FACT: Here's an interesting fact from the Wikipedia entry for the C-word: "In British English c**t is considered a foul and insulting word used more often by a man about (or towards) another man, implying that the named person is extremely obnoxious and malicious."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Is Condaleeza Rice Sexy?

If so, in what way? If not, why not? Is she trying too hard? The French actually like her, which is interesting.

What do the females have to say?

Deprioritizing Politics

Lately the 3 remaining archmagi of Cyberpols have been considering making the blog more social in the effort to raise the anemic traffic since, say, its inception. This will mean making it, first and foremost, a place for freinds, and second, a place for fun discussion, and lastly a place for boring stuff like Politics. As always sex is open season on all 3 fronts.

I'd like to know how the community (all 8 of you) feels about this. I for one, am all for it. Who's with me?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Quantum Computing

Since bspot posted a link to an Onion story that seemed real at first, I'm posting a link to a story that seems like an Onion but is apparently real.

"Quantum computer solves problem without running"

If anyone can explain this to me, I will shine their shoes with my raggedy-ass underwear.

"All out civil war, could it be a good thing?"

Fox New's "Your World with Cavuto" is running a segment titled "All-out Civil War in Iraq: Could it Be a Good Thing?"

Isn't that scary?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Confirmation of the "dragnet" nature of domestic surveillance

When the history of this administration is written in some future far off enough to appear objective, I am increasingly convinced what will stand out is its repeated willingness--nay compulsion--to spin to outright lies any negative criticism.

To wit: the nature of the domestic surveillance, as to whether it is specifically targeted towards individuals with "probable cause" (although not probable enough to go before the FISA court to ask for a warrant) or is more of a dragnet effort, scooping vast amounts of information to look for keywords and patterns. When the existence of the program was first made public at the end of 2005, several technology savvy commentators speculated that the main reason that the Bush administration had avoided applying for FISA warrants is that as it was dragnet style espionage, there was no possibility to apply for warrants. This coupled with the disappearance of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative as an official program with the high probablity that it had gone "black" as its key technical elements and personel were still in place made the "dragnet" nature all the more likely.

But then in an orchestrated attempt to rally support, McClellan, Cheney, Bush, and the former NSA director Hayden all hit the media circuit, denying that the program was anything more than targeted espionage of "probable" targets. James Risen's new book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration begins to document the "dragnet" nature of the warrantless spying.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hamas Calls For "Giant Summit" With All Israelis

There's been far too little discussion on this blog about the conflict in the Middle East. Luckily, it appears there will soon be no conflict left to discuss.

Click here.


Treasury Secretary Once Headed Firm from Dubai Deal

From Yahoo

"Treasury Secretary John Snow said he had no knowledge that the company he once headed, London-based CSX Corp., had sold its global port assets to Dubai Ports World for $1.15 billion in 2004 -- the year after Snow left to join the administration."

Shi'ite, Meet Fan

Temple of the Mahdi gets blown up in Samarra. Its pretty much the holiest shrine for the Shi'ites.

NYT reports Baghdad overrun with militants and dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked.

More analysis of this apocalyptic day from Juan Cole.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Earmarking - Get out the Q-Tips

Republicans like to talk small government while they spend big, bigger than the Dems under Clinton ever did. Bush and his congress have been squandering $$$ at Lyndon Johnson levels - but for guns and favors, not guns and butter. His latest $2.77 trillion fantasy is no exception.

On the legislative side, Cunningham's "rate card" for bribes, Rove's $1 million pimping of the President, and Alaska's $223 million bridge to nowhere are the latest examples of a giveaway Congress out of control. Since 1998, both the number of earmarks and the number D.C. lobbying firms have tripled.

Arianna's article reviews how sane Democrats and sane Republicans (at least on this issue) are working together to try and stop the practice of earmarks without resorting to the draconian line-item veto.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Intelligence fixed around the policy

Go to OutragedModerates.org and read up on the materials they received from their FIOA request. Notes from Stephen Cambone's meeting with Rumsfeld on 9/11 confirm the assertions of both the Downing Street Memos and Richard Clarke's book that 9/11 was used as a pretext to implement the radical foreign policy agenda of the neocons.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm Not Racist Because I Don't Like BBQ Ribs

Not too long ago black Americans and people of color in general, were subject to tremendous hardship and enormous stigma as a result of segregation. Avoiding the evils of segregation is simple. People should never be treated differently because of their race. Sadly this simple rule remains beyond the understanding of many people.

Let’s look at a simple example. Imagine a segregated BBQ rib joint in the old south. Imagine a black family that tries to have lunch at such a “white” restaurant. As was often the case in those days, the poor family is arrested and thrown out of the restaurant or into prison.

Now, a southern racist is talking trash with some of his friends and says, “I am one hundred percent white, I haven’t got any black blood in me, and thank God I can eat at that lunch counter.” He then states that, “it would be impractical if blacks were allowed to eat with whites.” However, says the good ‘ol boy, “I am not racist because I don’t like BBQ and I would never eat at that place anyway.”

Would we believe him? Somehow I don’t think so. I think that a reasonable person would say that his belief in superior rights based on racial heritage is racism per se. However, this argument is exactly analogous to Doug’s racist views of the “right of return” and the de facto apartheid that exists in Israel. Doug brags that his racial purity grants him an unconditional right to immigrate to Israel. He is strongly supportive of this racial preference because it benefits him. However, he would deny the right of return to people who’s right is not grounded on racial purity, but rather on their historical and familial connection with the land. In his self-delusion, he argues that his support for what is on its face a racist policy is not racist because, “I would never want to go live there.” In effect, Doug behaves just as the racist who supports a segregated restaurant but claims that he is not racist because he doesn’t like BBQ ribs and would never go to that restaurant anyway.

Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and the other social evils which eat away at society are caused by a germ or arrogance. Those who fall prey to these evils lack vigilance and fail to keep asking themselves, “Am I asking for more than I deserve?” For example, Doug is perfectly happy to criticize interest groups other than his own, or to use racial or ethnic slurs and innuendo for rhetorical effect. However, he strongly believes that his racial group should be able to play by different rules. He can make reference to another’s religious or racial background and intimate that their beliefs are somehow the simple outgrowth of racial factors, but clearly he rejects the same argument going the other direction. He can refer to a Christian who disagrees with him as a “Paladin,” to at once signal to other racists that this person is “the other” and should be spurned, and to intimate that the person’s views are the outgrowth of their religious or cultural background and not the product of rational thought. However, were his opponent to refer to Doug as a “Talmud scholar,” he would cry “anti-Semitism.” This is the basic problem; Doug’s profound sense of racial superiority affects his very ability to reason. He is incapable of putting himself in another’s shoes. For example, he has yet to apologize for the straw-man in black-face posting he made earlier this week. He apparently doesn’t understand why intimating that Arabs or Islamic peoples in general speak in pigeon-English, spout racial hatred and reason like animals is offensive. I hope for the sake of our country and of the world in general that bigots like Doug are the exception rather than the rule.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New Abu Ghraib images broadcast

You can only see a few of the less offensive photos here on the BBC website. They should all be in the public domain. There must have been a FOIA request, what's takin' so long?

How to Hunt

OK, that's John Kerry on the left, holding his gun safely, not pointed at anyone in particular. Note his friend on the right, substantially unharmed with no gunshot wounds evident on face or chest. Also the dead game bird being held indicates that a successful hunt has occurred, apparently without mishap.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's!

Sometimes you just gotta put aside all the hatin' and say, "Won't you be my Valentine?"

Thanks to all our readers for a great 2006 so far!

--- JEW HATRED & WHITE SUPREMACY ON CYBERPOLS --- Debate on Jews and Israel shouldn't crowd other topics out.


It is worth calling attention to a comment by "Anonymous" regarding our Feb. 5 posting. It's much better first to read what's written here, to understand the context in advance. But if you want to go straight to the comment itself without knowing its context, first click this link, and then scroll all the way down until you reach the comment by "Anonymous".

This blog's Feb. 5 posting below, about which "Anonymous" made his comment, was entitled "Anti-Semitic Words by a Cyber Columnist? NO." It argued that a view expressed in an earlier posting had its roots in anti-semitism, but that the author of that earlier posting was almost certainly not anti-semitic himself. This distinction is of more wide-ranging importance than one might think (i.e., not just a point about this particular view and its author). The distinction, made in this Feb. 5 posting, is one that is central to virtually all debate about Israel, as discussed below. But first, why is the subsequent comment by "Anonymous" also so important?

As is so often the case, it may be necessary to clarify that "Anonymous" is not being branded a Jew hater or White Supremacist here. But he makes his point by citing journal articles by a highly intelligent, intellectual author, Kevin MacDonald, who is indeed an extremely Jew-hating White Supremacist man, one who probably does not actually froth at the mouth and stomp around with a shaved head and combat boots, but couches his poisonous thinking in academic, fancy-sounding prose. It is extremely useful to skim his articles, which are published in a journal called The Occidental Quarterly; and perhaps also look over the other kinds of articles by which The Occidental Quarterly has made a name for itself in ultra-rightist, racist circles. It essentially publishes intellectual fodder for neofascism. Click here for background on the OQ.

"Anonymous" offers these journal articles as supposed evidence that it is reasonable, and well warranted, to oppose many of the goals and actions taken throughout history by Jews, who are a people united by aggressive tendencies. In fact, an unintelligent reading of the articles may convince a gullible reader of exactly that. The articles are steeped in highly intellectual analysis. They mix in plenty of truths with their poison. Only careful readers, ones who know some history, who are capable of thinking critically about what they read and who can see between the lines, will recognize the speciousness of the reasoning and ultimately the deadly evil, Jew-hating conclusions it supports.

If you wish, you can review the relevant Feb. 5 and Feb. 1 postings below, or you can go straight to the comment by "Anonymous," which is the fourth comment down on the page you will reach by clicking here. Once you're there, you'll find in "Anonymous"'s comment the links to The Occidental Quarterly's poisonous articles, which, luckily (since the articles are so lengthy), have summary abstracts at the top.

In conclusion ... back to the reasons it's actually so important to distinguish between an anti-semitic person, an anti-semitic view, a view that is not anti-semitic inherently but has its roots in anti-semitism, and, finally, a view that has nothing to do with anti-semitism but is based on opposition to the policies of Israel, or of Britain, the U.N., the United States, etc...

The distinction is so critical precisely because it is so difficult to see clearly and it confounds virtually all debate on Israel. So many leftists feel vehemently that their anti-Israel views are unfairly attacked by Jews as being anti-semitic. "This is a tyranny of Political Correctness," they say. "We stand accused of hating Jews merely because we disagree with Israeli policy." Meanwhile, their accusers, usually Jewish, may be rhetorically frustrated: the leftist views they've branded anti-semitic are sometimes, indeed, merely critiques of Israeli policy, but more often that is far from the full truth. (Many Jews share highly critical views of Israeli policy. There are some who support all Israeli policies blindly, but may still recognize that opponents of these policies are not necessarily anti-semitic. When the charge of anti-semitism is, in fact, leveled, it can well be by non-extremist Jews who only consider particular types of views to be anti-semitic.)

Looked at very narrowly, without historical or global context, these views seem debatable, but "reasonably debatable" That is, they seem based reasonably on current events, as seen from a certain vantage point, but devoid of any actual Jew hatred. However, anyone with a more global, historical perspective, can recognize as anti-semitic these views' over-arching misdirection, their arbitrary focus, their underlying assumptions and their origins in longstanding, Jew-hating rhetoric; not just against Israeli policy or even against Israel itself as a state, but against Jewish people because they are inherently despicable. Thus, a non-anti-semitic person who does not know the many sides to the story of the history of Palestine and Arab-Jew antagonism, may hear these views, and convey them onward, not realizing their anti-semitic roots, context, assumptions and implications.

These issues are explored somewhat in the Feb. 5 and Feb. 1 postings below, but much more thoroughly in two other places. The first is the posting on Jan. 23 (viewed by scrolling down to the Jan. 23 posting on the page you'll reach by clicking here). The second is not so much a Jan. 26 posting itself or the first few comments on it, which focus on the recent electoral victory by Hamas, but in the subsequent comments, as you scroll down. (To view these comments, scroll past the Hamas-related ones after you've clicked here.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Now Cheney is Actually Shooting People

No, really. This doctored photo aside, he really did just shoot a guy. Click on the headline.


But it's sad he missed Scalia when the two went hunting together in 2004. In addition to confirming that our V.P. is a premature shooter, this incident has to make you wonder whether the guy he shot "just knew too much." We have to hope the guy recovers and then spills the beans. Maybe he'll reveal what we've all been suspecting: that Cheney is a cyborg, sent back in time by his evil masters to annihilate all humankind.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kristof on Darfur; and on journalism by example

Today's NYT column by Nicholas Kristof about Darfur, which includes photojournalism by Darfur genocide survivors themselves, is another example of the kind of reporting that far more reporters ought to be doing, or at least aspiring to do.

This space is not about to become a mere alert service regarding good New York Times columns. But today's Kristof column, and even more so the other one by him that was posted here on Tues., Feb. 7 (see three posts below this one), are not just worth viewing because of the particular topic they cover -- though that would be enough, given their focus on US inaction in the face of the ongoing genocide in Sudan. NOTE:The Tues. Feb. 7 posting below, singing Kristof's praises, was apparently seen by the praise-ee himself; it elicited a nice thank you note.

These columns are also striking because they show so clearly what is lacking in reports by most journalists. It isn't just the descriptions of tragedy in Darfur that could and should be treated as Kristof treats them: personalizing them, humanizing them, making them more powerful and effective by weaving in the names and stories of individuals profoundly affected by the articles' topics.

That kind of journalism takes more work, and it's more expensive because it can't be done from one's desk, or through a taxi trip to a nearby press conference -- but it can and should be done far more often when it comes to any number of topics, ranging from trade policy to education reform, from Muslim anger to Mexican politics. We see plenty of vapid, one-liner quotes, but not enough real interviews, real profiles, woven into larger stories. As the Feb. 7 column below points out, it takes guts and drive for a journalist to risk life and limb, traveling into rural areas where humanitarian crises are occurring, to talk directly with the women and children themselves who survived the violence so far.

Many of the reporters who have traveled to Iraq are motivated, in part, by the fact that war coverage is a major boost to one's career (and rightly so: it boosts people's careers for good reason because it's so dangerous but valuable). Many of those reporters are also passionately motivated to help cover a war that desperately needs better coverage. Both the reporters in Iraq and the ones like Kristof who go to other dangerous areas are courageous; what's admirable about Kristof's choice to go to Darfur is that it's just not a hot-button topic in newsrooms right now. He's trying to make it so.

Again, since many Cyberpols blog followers don't have subscriptions to the New York Times and therefore can't view its Op-Ed columns, either in hard copy or online, today's Kristof column is copied for our readers' benefit, via the headline-link above or viewable in the first comment on this posting.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Soon to be Screwed Economically, or Not? WHY Not?

This article in today's Times describes the enormous leap just taken by the U.S. trade deficit. Also in the Times today is an editorial by Krugman (the dude pictured here on the left), describing the leaps and bounds by which the federal budget deficit is growing. The rapid bloating of both is due, of course, to the Administration we so love to hate and deplore.

So here's my question:

Why are things still okay?

Many economists warn that growing trade deficits eventually drag an economy downward - and many warn the same thing about growing budget deficits. And stock markets tend to reflect, among other things, the average view of an economy's prospects among its analysts, bankers, traders and economists. So why isn't the stock market being pulled down by the unprecedented growth in our deficits? In fact why isn't it being pulled down by the outlook for even more, accelerated deficit growth, for many years to come?

Another confusing situation: I think, though I may be wrong, that not only would one expect stock prices to go down, in anticipation of the waning fortunes of most companies when the economy slows; but one would also expect the companies themselves, even if their stock were doing fine, to begin slowing their investment in their own production, since they would be anticipating a slowdown in demand for their products as the economy loses steam. This slowing of business investment would itself help drag the economy down.

But that's not happening either.

Why are business investment and stock prices humming along fine? Is it unwarranted to worry that our friends and families and selves are heading into tough times, financially? Maybe we are. Or maybe we aren't. Someone tell me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Well . . . We're All Fucked Now

The spread of Bird Flu to Turkey last month was the first indication that the bug was out of the bag, so to speak. Now that it has been found in Nigeria, one of the world's biggest petri dishes, there's nothing stopping a human to human transmission mutation from coming to the fore. I'll ask my friend who's an expert in AIDs in Africa and ask him how long it will take . . . maybe a year . . . I guess.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Finest Work A Journalist Can Do: Kristof Does It. Times Columnist Shames Fox's Blowhard Bill O'Reilly

Nicholas D. Kristof, the New York Times columnist, is the real deal.

Bill O'Reilly, blowhard of Fox News, is a real deal too.

Good . . . and Evil.

Here on the left: A champion, activist journalist, who turns readers' attention away from our hollow, consumerist addictions to focus, for just a few moments, on things that really matter.

In the other corner: A powerful force for inanity, in an increasingly brain-dead culture (...whose view of blogs as a threat suggests we're doing something right here.)

Today's column by Kristof repeats his suggestion that O'Reilly go to Darfur and try to make himself useful for a change. It is like a stroke of jujitsu, the art of self-defense that channels an opponent's strength and weight to work against him. In this, the column is not just poking fun: O'Reilly the Ranter, whose "O'Reilly Factor" show commands a viewership in the millions, is goaded for good reason: when he reacts, which he has, his own idiotic bluster effectively has been used to help put a spotlight on the genocide unfolding every day in Darfur.

{Since Times Op-Ed columns are now subscription-based online, no longer free, Kristof's piece is copied for Cyberpols readers
in the second comment below this posting, along with the earlier columns by Kristof that first got the O'Reilly-riling roiling.}

For any unfamiliar with the columnist, it's important to know his work is typically far above this kind of partisan wrestling. He regularly offers high-quality reporting on serious issues. His columns combine important factual information with calls to action, which often turn out to have had tangible impact; he is a reporter who revisits his interviewees. The tone, even while sometimes describing terrible suffering, is still one of optimism and hope. He is a writer who can convey the personal stories of survivors of tragedy - and leave his readers inspired.

His gift is the ability to mix shame and hope, two of humankind's most powerful motivators. He belongs to a shrinking minority of genuine reporters, who still rent jeeps, hire interpreters and go

[Continued in 1st comment...]

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bungling Rulers and Pathetic Opposition, oh my.

Says Krugman in this NYT article, "We are ruled by bunglers .... Democratic electoral victories should be a sure thing. But they aren't. Why?"

Unfortunately, other than giving examples to support the "bunglers" assertion, and citing polls to support the "Democratic victories should be sure" assertion, he gets no more specific in answering the "Why?" question than to say: the Democrats' disunity, plus the media's focus on horse-race stories rather than policy issues, makes the public think Democrats are ineffective. So, therefore, he says, the Democrats should get more unified.

Anyway, the overall gist of his editorial is exactly what Pawlr said in a comment regarding one of the Alito-related postings below. It's good that Krugman is reading Pawlr's points and helping broadcast them on the NYT Op-Ed page (though that page tends to be as much a preaching-to-the-choir location as our own blog here).

If any of you readers know some enthusaistic conservatives or even radical right-wingers who you think would enjoy debating with us here, please invite them.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Anti-Semitic Words by a Cyber Columnist? NO.



Apparently, last year, Demotiki was accused of being anti-semitic for saying the protection of Israel was one motive for invading Iraq. (See Feb. 1 post below, "US Will Protect Israel from Iran)

Having that view is not necessarily anti-semitic. To be a person who holds to that view is not, necessarily, to be an anti-semitic person. In fact, the view itself, by itself, is not necessarily anti-semitic. Perhaps there are rationalizations about it that a reasonable, non-Jew-hating person could believe in. But the origins of that view, that the protection of Israeli citizens from violence is a bad thing, a view espoused by many thousands of people other than Demotiki; and the fact that its bizarre assumptions and logic have met with a broadly receptive audience across huge regions, in general, is due to a world view that has anti-semitic roots.

There is a subtle but critical distinction that has to be made here. The issue here is not the suspicion, possibly well-founded, that Israel's protection was a motive for invading Iraq. At issue is the very idea that making this point matters.

[...Continued as first comment...]

Friday, February 03, 2006

Jimmy Carter's Farsightedness

This is the transcript of a speech delivered by Jimmy Carter on television on July 15, 1979. He is trying to get Americans to understand the problem with their energy consumption. It's pretty crazy how ahead of the curve that guy was. No wonder the AMerican public got sick of him. Nothing is more irritating than someone who's right all of the time. He's a bore.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More Corruption

From the NY Times:

"A former American occupation official in Iraq is expected to plead guilty to bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and other charges in federal court on Thursday for his actions in a scheme to use sexual favors, jewelry and millions of dollars in cash to steer reconstruction work to a corrupt contractor, according to papers filed with the court."

US Will Protect Israel from Iran

There was a whole lot of hot air on this blogg last year about how protecting Israel had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq and that saying so was "anti-semetic." Needless to say the evidence was, and is, quite strong that Israel's security interests were a contributing factor to the decision to oust Sadam. As if there were any doubt about why the US is so anxious to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, the president lays it out in plain English in this article.

We are giving them $2.3 billion in military aid this year, wouldn't that allow them to defend themselves?

Tell Senators What We Think of Their Alito Votes

Want to call the Dem Senators who failed to support a filibuster? The effective way that right-wing grassroots groups lobby their representatives is not just by calling in to say "Please vote on this or that" but by threatening to abandon the politician at the next election.

Since news orgs have reported that 25 Dems voted to filibuster, I assume that means 23 or 24 Dems voted against filibustering (aren't there still around 48 or 49 Dem senators in the Senate?) Of those who voted against, 13 said they were doing so even though they planned to go against Alito's nomination in the full Senate vote. This is political cowardice at its worst.

A full list of Senators, their phone numbers, and their record on both votes re Alito -- for/against a filibuster and later for/against his actual nomination Alito -- is copied into the 1st comment here. Unfortunately the Senators' party affiliations are not given in the list, but you can figure it out with some accuracy based on the given Senator's vote re Alito's nomination, since (correct me if I'm wrong ... I may be) that vote was mostly along party lines.

Cindy Sheehan Arrested at State of Union Address Anti-War T-Shirt Not Allowed

Cindy Sheehan was invited by a member of Congress and therefore allowed to attend Bush's State of the Union address, but, as this article reports, she had the gall to wear an anti-war t-shirt.

Arriving moments before the speech began, Sheehan, whose son was a soldier killed in Iraq and who is now renowned for her vigil outside the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, was spotted by cops just a moment before Bush stepped to the podium. They ordered her to cover her t-shirt and then arrested her when she refused.She was reportedly hand-cuffed, although in the photos, it appears the cuffs may have been removed before she exited the building.

One may experience conflicting reactions as one digests this news. First, it appears such a blatantly unconstitutional trampling of free speech that it can seem amazing the police would dare do it. Is it the latest, outrageous example of our civil rights' disappearing before our eyes? However, the police in this case [...Continued as first comment...]