"I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I've just finished my milk." - Moss, The IT Crowd

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thought for the Day

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Friday Palate Cleanser

Some fun stuff for Friday:

Kitty Jesus. (No disrespect to Jesus intended; I think he'd find this funny too.)

The worst restaurant in the world. (I can only aspire to write scathing reviews this well.)

Fug Madness 2011, Bjork Bracket: Lady Gaga vs. Nicki Minaj. (Also browse the comments.)

The joy of crazy religious pamphlets. (I have a Seventh Day Adventist tract this guy would appreciate.)

Thought for the Day

"Some people are born bullshit artists, others learn to become bullshit artists, but if you fall into neither category and have ambitions in that direction, you may need my bullshit generating software."
- Richard E. Quandt

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Enough to make your head spin

As someone who opposed invading Afghanistan and invading Iraq, and who now opposes the United States' current participation in Libya's civil war, I have been forcefully reminded in recent days of the old adage about how politics makes strange bedfellows.

I remember the commentators and politicians who were all too eager to stifle debate by throwing around words like "treason"and "comfort to the enemy" to describe anyone who didn't unreservedly support wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the obvious, logical response to an elegantly simple and extraordinarily devastating terrorist plot executed by a non-state actor (Al Qaeda). In some quarters, using support for these wars as patriotism litmus tests continues on. Never mind that the nation of Afghanistan never flew planes into the World Trade Center (and that Pakistan has provided safe haven to Al Qaeda just as much as Afghanistan ever did), or that Iraq and Saddam Hussein didn't even have demonstrable ties to Al Qaeda.

But it's a new dawn, a new day, and a new President. And now that the President dropping bombs is a Democrat, it seems like many of the same people who were happy to beat the drums for war in Afghanistan and Iraq have suddenly discovered the following: (a) wars cost a lot; (b) wars are very hard to end once you start, especially if you have no clear criteria for victory; (c) using advanced weaponry does not guarantee a swift and tidy outcome; (d) involving yourself as a foreign actor on one side of a domestic war can result in unintended consequences for decades to come; and (e) the longer a war goes on, the more people die.

Thought for the Day

"The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word 'war,' therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist."
- George Orwell, 1984

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thought for the Day

"I don't know the meaning of the word 'impossible.' Or 'ill-advised.'"
 - Gus Hedges, Drop the Dead Donkey

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When is regime change not regime change?

In his speech last night, President Obama stated that the U.S. had "a responsibility to act" as "an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom." Leaving aside the self-congratulatory nonsense about the U.S. behaving as an advocate for human freedom around the world, let's accept this premise.

Obama goes on to say that, "I made it clear that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power." We worked with the U.N. to get a no-fly zone authorized, we have not acted alone, etc. We will "support the aspirations of the Libyan people." Apparently, we are going to provide logistical support to the rebels, help with jamming Qaddafi's communications, and "pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people."

Yet in the same speech, Obama states that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to see the U.S. mired in another Middle Eastern land war - that would be why I was against the U.S. initiating a no-fly zone in Libya in the first place. But it raises the question: if regime change is not the goal of the NATO military mission, then what is?

Thought for the Day

"As our international power and interests surge, it would seem reasonable that our commitment to republican principles would surge. These commitments appear inconvenient. They are meant to be. War is a serious matter, and presidents and particularly Congresses should be inconvenienced on the road to war."
- George Friedman

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crime and Punishment

Which do you consider more heinous: breaking an oath and revealing national secrets because you believe the greater good depends on it, or committing cold-blooded murder?

Leaking the Pentagon Papers was the former. The massacre at My Lai was the latter.

Delivering classified materials to Wikileaks was the former. Killing unarmed Afghan civilians and staging the murder scene to make the killings appear "justifiable" was the latter.

Reasonable people can certainly argue about whether Daniel Ellsberg's leaking the Pentagon Papers or Bradley Manning's leaking diplomatic cables was justifiable as a moral duty or contemptible as a breach of national security. However, it would be an extraordinary stretch to argue that these leaks constitute a greater crime than premeditated murder of unarmed civilians in a war zone.

Thought for the Day

"The fact that HAMP was an embarrassment appears to have led to the bizarre conclusion that the remedy is better modification theater."
- Naked Capitalism