Posts Tagged ‘ron paul

13
May
11

Roundup – Aurora Lapse of Time

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Line O’ the Day:

“For example, Pinker shows that if you put the word ‘fuckin’ in the middle of a word – for instance, if you want to say: ‘That’s fan-fuckin’-tastic!’ You have to put the word fuckin’ in a certain place in the word. It goes before a certain stressed syllable. You can’t say: ‘That’s fantast-fuckin-ic!’ – and no English speaker would ever say that. Everybody knows it. They have this rule in their brain, but nobody knows they have it. Teasing out that kind of thing is fascinating and so much more interesting than: ‘Oh my God! That person used ‘whom’ wrong…’”

– Robert Lane Greene, Interview: Robert Lane Greene on Language and the Mind [The Browser]

Best of the Best:

What Defines a Meme? [James Gleick on The Smithsonian]

For this bodiless replicator itself, Dawkins proposed a name. He called it the meme, and it became his most memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity. “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” he wrote. They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention.

The House of B Must Continue [Smoove B on The Onion]

When I was with my one true girl I did not think of children. I thought only of bringing her pleasure. My mind was focused on taking her to the four corners of the world, places filled with exotic delights that stimulate the mind and body. Once we arrived in such a place, we would walk the strange streets together, basking in the unknown sights and smells. We would bargain with the charming shopkeepers to get the best price on tokens of our love. We would feed each other delicacies made especially for us by café owners who had never before encountered two people so perfect for one another.  Later I would hit my girl doggy style on the steps of an ancient monastery whose occupants would become so inspired by our love that they would renounce their vows and worship us as gods of beauty and passion.

The Sultan of Brunei’s rotting supercar collection [Michael Sheehan via Gizmodo]

As the Minister of Finance for Brunei (until 1997) Prince Jefri controlled the revenue from oil and gas. Thanks to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Prince Jefri’s investment firm collapsed under $10 billion in debt; audits later found Jefri himself had received $14.8 billion.  Much of the money went into a private life that included five wives, 17 children and a harem of about 40 women kept in a palace next to the car collection. The women in the harem were paid up to $20,000 a week in addition to opulent shopping excursions, or trips aboard Jefri’s 180-foot yacht christened “Tits.”

Prison Rape and the Government [David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow via The New York Review of Books]

How many people are really victimized every year? Recent BJS studies using a “snapshot” technique have found that, of those incarcerated on the days the surveys were administered, about 90,000 had been abused in the previous year, but as we have argued previously,2 those numbers were also misleadingly low. Finally, in January, the Justice Department published its first plausible estimates. In 2008, it now says, more than 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails and, in the case of at least 17,100 of them, in juvenile detention. Overall, that’s almost six hundred people a day—twenty-five an hour.

Ten Years Ago: Greenspan Sees Federal Debt Paid Off By End of Decade. Today: Bernanke Doesn’t Know What a Dollar Is. [Tim Cavanaugh on Reason]

When asked by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to define the word “dollar,” Bernanke today said a buck is an equivalent of “food, and gasoline, and clothes and all the other things that are in the consumer basket.” If Bernanke here is speaking as the Fed Chairman rather than as a wooly professor of economics, his answer is untrue. When calculating inflation, the Fed uses “PCE” or “personal consumption expenditures” rather than the “CPI” or “consumer price index” used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis indicates here, PCE actually leaves out food and energy costs. So if Bernanke believes food and gas (prices for both of which are increasing sharply, you may have noticed) should be factored into the maintained value of the dollar, he should tell the other folks at the Fed next time there’s a Fed barbecue.

10 Charts About Sex [Christian Rudder on OKCupid]

If someone tweets every day, it’s 2-to-1 that they’re #ingthemselves just as often. Like the “shorter relationships” thing, this is true across all age and gender groups.

Marines’ ‘Poster Boy’ for Suicide Prevention Kills Self [Newser]

When Clay Hunt killed himself at his Houston apartment last week, he became exactly the sort of grim military statistic he’d battled so hard against. The 28-year-old had faced survivor’s guilt and battlefield trauma head on, starring in a lauded public service ad campaign that urged his comrades to get help. But ultimately, the deaths of his comrades weighed too heavily on him. “When that last one in Afghanistan went down, it just undid him,” his mom tells the Houston Chronicle.

The Forgotten Fascist Roots of Humanitarian Interventionism: 100 Years of Bombing Libya [Mark Almond via Counterpunch]

The celebrations of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Italian unification in March, 2011, were overshadowed by the crisis in Libya. Coinciding with Italy’s birthday, Silvio Berlusconi’s government decided to make seven air bases available to NATO allies for the bombing of Colonel Gaddafi’s forces. By coincidence, this was one hundred years since the Italians invented aerial bombardment and initiated its practice precisely over Libya. A century later, the bomber returns to the scene of its bloody birth. Clio seems to take a perverse enjoyment in ensuring that history repeats itself, first acting as imperialism then as humanitarian intervention, without even needing to change the stage-set.

How To Free Yourself Of The Dreaded “Sketchy” Label [Drew Magary on Deadspin]

You got the sketchy label likely because one girl started talking shit about you to all her friends. And while the first and justifiable instinct is to key that girl’s car, you’re probably better off mending fences. Be friendly. Be courteous. Be helpful. Convince your accuser that you’re totally not the guy she thought you were. Then she’ll go back to her friends and be like, “Actually, I got to know him, and he’s not that bad.” It could reverse the stigma. And then, YOU HIT THAT SHIT DOGGYSTYLE.

Face Blind [Joshua Davis on Wired]

Hunn decided to see a doctor. She explained to him that she was a rapidly rising model – this should be the time of her life. It wasn’t. She was completely unable to appreciate her beauty, which had now become the centerpiece of her young life. When she should have been going out to parties and having fun, she chose to stay home. “Everyone looks the same,” she told the doctor, “so it’s hard to connect emotionally with anyone.” The doctor checked her eyes, made sure she didn’t have a tumor, and then recommended counseling for shyness.  In the summer of 2003, she traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the annual theater festival. On the third night, she saw a performer who was unusually memorable. He was a tall mime with white hair and vivid black eyebrows. She stared at him. He was the first person she felt she’d ever really seen.

Before Manny Became Manny [Sara Rimer via The New York Times]

Then he called a timeout, taking his right hand off the bat. But the umpire did not give it to him. Everyone who was there swears Manny did not have time to get his right hand back on the bat, that he swung with one hand. I can’t really say that I saw it. Maybe I was too busy taking notes. The ball went over the left-field fence and all the way to the old handball courts on the street below. It had to be more than 400 feet. His teammates and the fans were screaming: “Oh my God! Oh my God!”

Tornadoes Leave a Trail of Devastation: Nearly 300 Die in Six Southern States as City Neighborhoods and Farm Towns Are Leveled; FEMA Mobilizes for Cleanup [Wall Street Journal]

In Coaling, Ala., firefighter Reginald Epps and his wife tried to gather their three boys—ages eight, six and four—to protect them as the storm approached their home. They got the two youngest, but before they were able to get R.J., the walls of their house were sucked outward and R.J. was swept out into the storm. The parents dropped on the floor, covering their two younger boys and praying. A few minutes later, R.J. walked back into what had been their house. “I went up into the air,” the eight-year-old boy said.

Ron Paul Explains His Anti-Abortion Position [Nick Gillepsie on Reason]

Paul states that cases of unprotected sex and rape can be dealt with morning-after pills such as Plan B, which he correctly notes are not “abortion pills” but rather prevent conception from happening in the first place.  He also argues that he is against Roe v. Wade not because it legalized abortion per se but because it nationalized an issue that should be decided at the state level: ” I consider it a state-level responsibility to restrain violence against any human being.” It’s a nuanced argument for his point of view and deserves to be read in full, especially if you disagree with him on the matter (as I do).

An Essay About Osama Bin Laden’s Death, Constructed Entirely Out Of Athletes’ Tweets [Deadspin]

So we was looking 4 BIN LADEN that whole time in a Cave/moutain & this MOFO is hidden in a mansion watching the NBA playoffs! Oh hell naww! They have Bin Laden’s body. Never thought we’d see the day. Figured he would be like Hitler and commit suicide or just disappear. He ain’t gone be in rush hour 4!! Is it weird that i want to see a pic of his dead body? [W]e should start a campaign.. Hang osama’s body in time square. Then pass out darts. Anyone in?

Meet The Man Who Live-Tweeted The bin Laden Operation Unknowingly [Zero Hedge]

On Sunday, Athar found himself smack in the center of one of the year’s biggest news events. A 33-year-old IT consultant, Athar was on Twitter when the sound of a helicopter flying overhead drove him to write a series of frustrated notes. Over the next few hours, he compiled rumors and observations about an event that would soon have the world riveted: Athar tweeted the secret operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Emerson Fittipaldi’s double-engined Volkswagen Beetle [Leo Nishihata on Brazilian Jalopnik via Deadspin]

The rear suspension was a Formula Vee semi-swing axle with coil springs. Wilson Fittipaldi explained that the car had “a tremendous torque,” and was built to go sideways through the corners, because “that was the only way to set a good lap time with that car.” The most difficult part was building the Beetle was figuring how to keep the pieced together engine cool. Wilson and Divilla eventually created ducts along the car roof, which fed air captured above the raked windshield to four pipes connected to the engines. To cover all this kludge they built a very light and thin fiberglass body over a structure which protected the pilot of the suicide machine.

If Pacquiao-Mosley Was A Snoozer, Arce-Vazquez Was A Goddamn Slobberknocker [Luke O’Brien on Deadspin]

For those of you who spent $55 to watch Shane Mosley preserve his brain cells last night against Manny Pacquiao, my condolences go out to you if the main event was all you saw. Because the Jorge Arce vs. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. bout on the undercard was unreal. It oozed with subtext: Mexico vs. Puerto Rico; heavy underdog vs. champion; an aging warrior hunting for glory in a higher weight class vs. the son of boxing royalty trying to vault himself into the superstar ranks.

Peter King Will Audibly Laugh For You, Jon Stewart! [Big Daddy Drew on KSK]

Two good nuggets…

NUGGGGGGGGETS!!!!

…from my chat with (Rex Ryan)

1. “Peter, never try fucking on a pool chair if you weigh as much as I weigh.”
2. “Peter, taking a QB high is like wiping your ass blindfolded. You never know what you’re gonna dig up.”

Whimsical Remains:

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The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

10
Jan
11

Roundup – Man in a Blizzard

Line O the Day:

“By the way, I swear I did not write the following sentence.

There is this strange custom called a “Keg Stand” that all kids evidently do now.

No way! Keg… stands? WHAAA? That sounds kooky. I bet those kids do it with Ugg boots on. More stuff Peter learned with his two boys from Chugalug House:

A. These college kids belong to things called “frats,” which have strange letters hanging outside. Might be Russian.
B. Did you know they sometimes put alcohol in Jello shots? And I here I thought they were just a nice pick-me-up when you had the flu.
f. HOW DO I GET TO THE DINING HALL? THERE ARE NO ROAD SIGNS!

Think there’s a chemistry between Drew Brees and Reggie Bush?

I don’t know. For you see, chemistry is a mystery, not unlike the strange college ritual known as “boat racing,” which I’m told features no boats of any kind.”

– Big Daddy Drew, In Which Peter King Learns Of This Thing Called A “Keg Stand” [KSK]

Best of the Best:

Who is Ron Paul? [National Review]

Ron Paul speaks softly and carries Mises. The eccentric, famous, and infamous Texas congressman has a frail frame and a frailer voice. “I am not powerful, but my ideas are powerful,” he says. Everybody knows his name. Everybody talks about him. But nobody can agree as to who he is.

‘Doubling Up’ in Recession-Strained Quarters [New York Times]

As their money dwindled, Ms. Maggi and Mr. Wilson looked into shelters but discovered they would not be able to stay together as a family. It took Ms. Maggi a week to muster up the courage to ask her parents. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Ms. Maggi, who has lived on her own since she was 18, working for most of that time and putting herself through community college. The young couple, however, have come to regret their decision, even as they concede they had no other choice.

What we have here is one of the great comeback stories in the history of competitive punctuation [The National Post]

On Twitter, the home of microbloggers, the octothorpe has a new career, reborn as the “hashtag.” Tweeters use hashtags to catalogue their tweets. Someone writing about Miles Davis, for instance, will tag his name #Miles. Anyone coming after will be able to find all the tweets dealing with Miles.

Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation [The Wall Street Journal]

For seven hours on that Saturday, 20 speakers held forth on a range of seemingly dreary diversions, from “The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs” and “Personal Reflections on the English Breakfast,” to “The Draw in Test Match Cricket” and “My Relationship With Bus Routes.” Meanwhile, some of the 200 audience members—each of whom had paid £15 (about $24) for a ticket—tried not to nod off.

Why the West Rules–For Now [Ian Morris via The Daily Beast]

The main lesson to draw from all this history is that tinkering with exchange rates and legislating against outsourcing will not stop the shift of wealth and power from West to East. The great question for the next generation is not how to stop geography from working: it is how to manage the process.

Predictions Of Today From 80 Years Ago [TechDirt]

And while Abnormal Use disagrees, I actually think physicist and Nobel laureate Arthur Compton’s prediction was pretty dead on: With better communication national boundaries will gradually cease to have their present importance. Because of racial differences a world union cannot be expected within eighty years. The best adjustment that we can hope for to this certain change would seem to be the voluntary union of neighboring nations under a centralized government of continental size.

Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90 [The New York Times]

It was the Trolley Problem, however, that captured the imagination of scholars outside her discipline. In 1967, in the essay “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” she discussed, using a series of provocative examples, the moral distinctions between intended and unintended consequences, between doing and allowing, and between positive and negative duties — the duty not to inflict harm weighed against the duty to render aid.  The most arresting of her examples, offered in just a few sentences, was the ethical dilemma faced by the driver of a runaway trolley hurtling toward five track workers. By diverting the trolley to a spur where just one worker is on the track, the driver can save five lives.  Clearly, the driver should divert the trolley and kill one worker rather than five.  But what about a surgeon who could also save five lives — by killing a patient and distributing the patient’s organs to five other patients who would otherwise die? The math is the same, but here, instead of having to choose between two negative duties — the imperative not to inflict harm — as the driver does, the doctor weighs a negative duty against the positive duty of rendering aid.  By means of such problems, Ms. Foot hoped to clarify thinking about the moral issues surrounding abortion in particular, but she applied a similar approach to matters like euthanasia.

‘Crash taxes’ are growing in popularity among cash-strapped California cities [Los Angeles Times]

One more good reason to drive safely in California: If you cause an accident, you may be on the hook to pay the police and firefighters who show up to help.  At least 50 cities in the state have adopted so-called crash-tax laws allowing local governments to seek reimbursement from insurance companies for the costs of sending public emergency crews to accident scenes. The fees can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If insurers don’t pay, cities can hire collection agents to seek payment from the motorists involved.

Leading conservatives openly support a Terrorist group [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with — and expressed vocal support for — supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein’s brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a “Terrorist organization” by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.  But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives — including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend — did exactly that.

Stanford Band Performs Before, Not During [MSNBC]

During a game with Notre Dame the Band’s show was entitled “The Irish, Why Must They Fight?” Using a crucifix as a baton got them banned from the campus.

Barry Melrose Needs A Beer, And Other Observations From The Behatted And Be-Styxed Winter Classic [Katie Baker on Deadspin]

The Caps and the Penguins may be the most heated of rivals, but outside the rink there was a hockey-first jolliness to most fans’ behavior. I particularly enjoyed Caps owner Ted Leonsis’s comment: “The highlight for me was two sections filled with Caps fans and Pens fans and they looked at each other and they started chanting ‘Flyers suck.’ It’s like they bonded around something.”

Upcoming NewSouth ‘Huck Finn’ Eliminates the ‘N’ Word [Publisher’s Weekly]

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”  Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”  “This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Why 2010 Made Us Sick [Dave Barry via The Washington Post]

In other economic news, the first family, seeking to boost Gulf tourism, vacations in Panama City, where Obama, demonstrating that the water is perfectly safe despite the oil spill, plunges in for swim. Quick action by the Secret Service rescues him from the jaws of a mutant 500-pound shrimp sprouting what appear to be primitive wings. The first family hastily departs for Martha’s Vineyard to demonstrate that the water is also perfectly safe there.

Funny = Money [The New York Times]

As Principato put it, agents were encouraged to take a hands-off approach to their clients. Principato never figured out how to do that. Where other agents went home at night to their families, Principato stayed out with his clients, at comedy clubs, in backrooms, on tour, on the sets of movies and TV shows — even flying cross-country to bail them out of jail. Several of his clients speculated affectionately that they serve as Principato’s surrogate family. Referring to past clients like ex-girlfriends, he often uses the phrase “We were together,” as in, “We were together for X number of years.” When Jonah Hill left him recently to pursue his career without management, Principato told me three or four times how well he was taking it — before admitting that in fact, it had been one of the most painful events in his recent life and that he preferred not to discuss the subject any further.

If you want to live longer, then walk faster [JAMA via io9]

Your walking speed can tell a lot about you – including your life expectancy. Amazingly, your walking speed is just as good an indicator of how long you’ll live as your health history, smoking habits, and blood pressure combined.

Why are thousands of dead birds suddenly falling from the sky? [io9]

Some of the more fanciful interpretations have put these forward as signs of the Apocalypse, undoubtedly as the first act of some macabre play of bizarre death and destruction that will end in December 2012. But there are perfectly rational explanations for all of this. Still, I’ll warn you now – the explanations might be scientific, but they’re not exactly likely, and they sure as hell aren’t elegant or logically pleasing.

Whimsical Remains:

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The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.

23
May
09

THE LAST SANE MAN ON THE TRAIN

Originally created 6/3/2007

It has become increasing clear that my own days as a rantist are long behind me, and for good reason.  I was never all that good or entertaining, and one can look back on those literary products of halcyon college years as a mix of sleeplessness, melancholy, sports-obsession, and, in the later years, alcohol and dodgeball.  Whatever their merit, I note the inadequacies of the Rant because so many others do it better and more consistently.  Case in point: AJ Daulerio over at deadspin: funny, some insightful and regular.  Kind of like a good shit.

“It’s an odd phenomenon, this fascination that men, when they first get the splotches of gray hair and other attributes of grown-up maleness, suddenly find teenage girls more appealing. Obviously, the physical attractiveness — the seemingly pristine physical attractiveness, I should say — is a major factor, but it’s also this Wonder Years-y nostalgia for that time when those girls were actually available and not these seedy objects of desire:

“DANIEL STERN V.O.: It was a time of fantastic mystery, the great unknown. We were all captains aboard this ship called Puberty, navigating its uncharted waters. Most of the time, that water was girls. I remember the first time I pawed at Becky Slater’s fancy new bra like a deranged yeti, sporting an erection that could knock down low-flying aircraft, but those days are long gone…

“You get the idea.

“On to the issue at hand: One Miss Allison Stokke, whose pole vault-body has become furious debate fodder for those for and against posting pictures of young girls showing off their athletic prowess. The ‘For’ say she’s relevant because of said prowess (and her looks) and ‘Against’ say ‘let the young, tan girl thrust herself in the air with a giant stick in a revealing outfit but DO NOT acknowledge her muscular thighs and thickset brick twister.’ (Or something to that effect.) God, it sucks to be pretty and athletic. It’s almost like having AIDS.”

The realization that there are those out there like Daulerio, in my mind, should not stop me from continuing these rants, although without quite the same juvenile vehemence that those of earlier days undertook.

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And thus there is the topic of Republican candidate for president and Congressman from Texas, Dr. Ron Paul.  I myself have no love for the republicans who have more or less completely backtracked on their promises from the 1990s, now amounting to so much rhetoric.  The government has never been bigger nor the military more bogged down in foreign entanglements.  Paul is in stark contrast to the neoconservative wing that has taken over much of the party with the battle cry, “9/11 changed everything”.  He was a former libertarian candidate for president in 1988 but returned to the Republican party.  He voted against the authorization of the use of force against Iraq.  He voted against the PATRIOT Act.  As came up in the debates, some in the party feel that he is not “one of them” and is trying to hijack the party.  He claims he is trying to bring it back to its roots, exemplified in Robert Taft and (perhaps again, only rhetorically) Ronald Reagan.    But perhaps an unusual moment, both in the context of the election itself and as a microcosm of the country in general, came in the second Republican debate when Dr. Paul had the temerity to point out that many of the United States’ actions in Arabia were partly responsible for the decision of jihadists to attack the United States–although that does not excuse those actions in the least.  Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani spoke out of turn and dismissed such notions as ludicrous, demanding that Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul refused.

Paul’s parts in the second Republican debate.  Paul states his position on foreign policy at about 5:10 and Guiliani responds at about 6:10

Libertarian blogs, like LewRockwell.com, praised the moment as someone finally standing up for the truth on a national stage, characterizing Guiliani’s response as misinformed and malicious.  However most of the mainstream press took the Guiliani angle, noting that Paul seemed to suggest the United States “invited” the attacks (which is not correct; one of the moderators asked that in a question but Paul responded with the idea that the United States’ foreign policy helps provoke such attacks, and to ignore this “blowback” is to do so at one’s own risk).  In Time magazine, commentator Joe Klein took it as a win for the former Mayor, painting Paul to be somewhat of a kooky buffoon:

“And then there’s the libertarian Congressman Ron Paul who seems like your uncle the bartender who has a Big Theory about everything: some of his ideas are brilliant, others weird. He rates a mention because his singular moment of weirdness–proposing that al-Qaeda attacked on Sept. 11 because the U.S. had been messing around in the Middle East, bombing Iraq–offered Giuliani a historic slam dunk. ‘That’s an extraordinary statement,’ he jumped in when Paul finished, ‘… that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.’  There was explosive applause from the audience. But Giuliani was having a good debate even before he reduced Paul to history.”

The 9/11 Commission’s own words on the subject:

Though novel for its open endorsement of indiscriminate killing, Bin Ladin’s 1998 declaration was only the latest in the long series of his public and private calls since 1992 that singled out the United States for attack.

In August 1996, Bin Ladin had issued his own self-styled fatwa calling on Muslims to drive American soldiers out of Saudi Arabia. The long, disjointed document condemned the Saudi monarchy for allowing the presence of an army of infidels in a land with the sites most sacred to Islam [emphasis added], and celebrated recent suicide bombings of American military facilities in the Kingdom. It praised the 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines, the 1992 bombing in Aden, and especially the 1993 firefight in Somalia after which the United States “left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.”3

Bin Ladin said in his ABC interview that he and his followers had been preparing in Somalia for another long struggle, like that against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but “the United States rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace.” Citing the Soviet army’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as proof that a ragged army of dedicated Muslims could overcome a superpower, he told the interviewer: “We are certain that we shall-with the grace of Allah-prevail over the Americans.” He went on to warn that “If the present injustice continues . . . , it will inevitably move the battle to American soil.”

Many Americans have wondered, “Why do ‘they’ hate us?” Some also ask, “What can we do to stop these attacks?”

Bin Ladin and al Qaeda have given answers to both these questions. To the first, they say that America had attacked Islam; America is responsible for all conflicts involving Muslims. Thus Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims, and when the Philippine government fights ethnic Muslims in its southern islands. America is also held responsible for the governments of Muslim countries, derided by al Qaeda as “your agents.” Bin Ladin has stated flatly, “Our fight against these governments is not separate from our fight against you.”14 These charges found a ready audience among millions of Arabs and Muslims angry at the United States because of issues ranging from Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers. [emphasis added]

Bin Ladin’s grievance with the United States may have started in reaction to specific U.S. policies but it quickly became far deeper. [emphasis added] To the second question, what America could do, al Qaeda’s answer was that America should abandon the Middle East, convert to Islam, and end the immorality and godlessness of its society and culture: “It is saddening to tell you that you are the worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind.” If the United States did not comply, it would be at war with the Islamic nation, a nation that al Qaeda’s leaders said “desires death more than you desire life.”

The commission is most certainly right that Bin Laden will not merely be swayed by an American withdrawal from the region, and would likewise claim it as a victory.  Obviously then, Bin Ladin himself, as well as his close followers, must be captured or destroyed, or at the very least neutralized outside American borders–something that is not being helped by the American incursion into Iraq.  However it is important to note the very real and probable possibility that bin Ladin was encouraged to become a violent radical by U.S. policies; his pathology became increasingly worse, not in reaction to continued policy, but to the United States in general.  Moreover, in the emphasized portion one can note that the 9/11 Commission noted that bin Ladin’s message, as virulent and deranged as it had become, found an audience because of U.S. policies concerning “Iraq to Palestine to America’s support for their countries’ repressive rulers”.  And yet Paul’s suggestion of this kind of idea during the debate was met by Guiliani’s bizarre assertion that he had never heard it previous to that occasion.

I have little hope that Paul will even be elected as the Republican candidate, and even less that he would be elected president (I myself don’t agree with him in terms of immigration).  But how can every other candidate, both Democrat and Republican, seem to ignore this reasoning or have the courage to at least suggest it in public, even though they could quote directly from the government’s own commission report?

Then there are other candidates who somehow believe (as noted in the Fox News Interviews below) that the First Gulf War did nothing but foster support in the Muslim world (Duncan Hunter says that in the clip below at about 1:45 mark), when bin Ladin himself has said otherwise.  Moreover, one could look at the United States’ interaction with bin Ladin’s own mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  Should that not have do nothing but cultivate good will?  It is true that the United States did help save Kuwait from Saddam Hussein but few care to remember that the U.S. also supported Hussein in attacking another Muslim country, Iran, in a much longer (9 years) and bloodier war with an estimated 500,000 Iranian casualties and 375,000 Iraqi casualties.  It also included the use of chemical weapons against Iran.

So what does the United States get in a second tier candidate who has the rocks to stand up for the truth?  The U.S. gets to see the last sane man on the train get thrown off by the supposed conductors.  Not to detract anything from Dr. Paul himself, but one can only wonder if he had the charisma and debating skills of Bill Clinton.

Ron Paul is apparently Bill Maher’s new hero

Ron Paul at the first Republican debate

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dr. Paul on The Daily Show

Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein on 19 December20 December 1983. Rumsfeld visited again on 24 March 1984; the same day the UN released a report that Iraq had used mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. The NY Times reported from Baghdad on 29 March 1984, that “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name.”

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Standing in line at the supermarket, People Magazine tells us that Jennifer Anniston has signed on to write a tell-all about her relationship with Missouri’s own Brad Pitt.  This includes, apparently, how Pitt told her of his affair with Angelina Jolie.  The best vote is for Pitt showing her a video of him reaming a shrieking Jolie as he goes “Now watch here as I go balls deep.”

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The Bush Administration cannot properly fight wars, cannot protect the Bill of Rights and apparently is a shark for large meatpacking companies.  “The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease [mad cow], which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.   Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.  The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.”  A problem of who is in charge of the department?  Or a problem of why the department has the power to regulate the test in the first place?

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New three-D movies sound absolutely terrifying.

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The new Congress is struggling to hammer out a trade policy, a sort of contradiction in terms that mainly denotes policy that will “protect jobs” (while sacrificing possible new jobs associated with the greater trade) while obtaining some benefits for exporters.  The government attempting to regulate trade is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it becomes a powerful tool for special interests, whether they be companies, unions or anti-globalization adherents.  Whether it is free trade or technology or innovation (as the mad cow example above demonstrates), certain parties will be injured in the trade.  But the only way to prevent this so-called “injury” is to prevent the voluntary transactions which supposedly bring it about; i.e., there is no aggression against the “injured” party, only a decision to no longer transact business with them.

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Possibly the most unsettling proposition about the Iraq War is the alternate universe case: assume that the Iraq War had progressed much better for the United States.  Iraq becomes a functioning, if still dangerous place (no more dangerous than say, Israel).  It is largely peaceful, functioning society with some remnants of strife.  In this alternate universe case, however, the reasons, the means and lack Weapons of Mass Destruction are all still present.  In this alternate universe, were these lies and half-truths told before the war still reprehensible?  Would any politicians be criticizing the war (either Democrat or Republican)?  Is the fraud presented to the American public still fraud if the outcome of the fraudulent actions is drastically different?  As the Ron Paul-Rudy Guiliani standoff made clear, even in the present course of events of an Iraq devolved into civil war, many politicians are still reluctant (or outright refuse) to acknowledge the false pretenses for the war.  This is not to mention the motives of those that orchestrated and conducted the 9/11 attacks.  These events bear witness that the truth as it operates in the world, even if it is represented in something like the Rumsfield-Saddam film, is sadly a matter of perception.




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