The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Friday, April 30, 2004
Idle Daydreams

Imagine: A UMass Amherst pendejo student at an Arizona Cardinals game (via NGD, who's got the goods; also The Galvin Opinion).

Curiously, the Daily Collegian's web site seems to be down. Oddly enough!

Update: Heh. Perhaps he could use this. (Yes, I know I'm being vicious and petty. But just this once, I'm making an exception. See SF Chronicle.)

Update 2: And Ted Rall again proves why he's a "loathsome human being."

Posted 4:25 PM by Tony

The Effectiveness of 'Insurgents'

Jason discusses the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of Iraqi insurgents. Plus, he has the best two-word characterization of Michael Moore that I've read to date.

Posted 4:20 PM by Tony

Industry Shutdown

Well, there's goes the porn industry (via SF Chronicle)

An adult-movie actress known as Jessica Dee was identified as the third performer to test positive for HIV in an outbreak that has mostly shut down the porn industry.

Dee had sex with five men who were later placed on a voluntary quarantine list, after the first HIV case was announced April 12, said Sharon Mitchell, executive director of the nonprofit Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which screens performers for sexually transmitted diseases.

In all, 53 people were listed for quarantine, and dozens of producers in the nation's multibillion-dollar porn industry have halted production until more tests are conducted for the virus that causes AIDS.

"This is not over," said Mitchell, who confirmed the actress' stage name in Friday's The New York Times.

The outbreak began after a performer with the stage name Darren James apparently contracted HIV while filming unprotected sex scenes in Brazil. He returned to the United States and apparently infected Lara Roxx during film shoots, Mitchell said.

Oddly, I can't help but wonder what this will do to the economy of the San Fernando Valley, porn capital of the US (via MSNBC):

The adult film industry includes about 200 companies employing about 6,000 workers, of which 1,200 are actors, according to Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

It’s estimated that as many as 11,000 videos are made each year. Estimates on the economic power of the industry vary from $4.4 billion to as much as $10 billion.

Posted 9:18 AM by Tony

Pipes In Wrong Places

Apparently, a diesel pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners ruptured, spilling 60,000 gallons of refined diesel into a wildlife preserve here in the Bay Area (via SF Chronicle):

A rupture in a pipeline spilled up to 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel in one of San Francisco Bay's most sensitive wildlife marshes, just south of Fairfield, authorities said Thursday.

Cleanup crews descended upon Suisun Marsh in a battle to stem the contamination, which affected up to 25 acres of the 55,000-acre marsh in Solano County.

Kinder Morgan has its own statement on the incident.

On the positive side, the refined diesel that was spilled evaporates fairly quickly, especially given the hot temperatures over this past week.

Here's my question, all jokes aside: Why is there a diesel pipeline going through a wildlife sanctuary?

I'm sure I'm not the only one asking this.

Posted 8:44 AM by Tony

Thursday, April 29, 2004
Imaginary Girlfriends

Professor Cowen has found a new manifestation of the knowledge-based economy, as it were.

Frankly, I'm not sure that this is amenable to outsourcing, as he suggests (via NY Times; also at Contra Costa Times):

[Bassab] Pradhan [at Infosys Technologies], who is Indian educated, disagrees with critics who say that Indian-trained workers lack creative ability. When outsourcing fails, he said, it is typically because "less disciplined" businesses try to farm out projects that are not properly defined.

And really, what's less properly defined than an imaginary relationship?

Posted 9:07 AM by Tony

Hussein's Leftovers

Okay, after reading this New York Times, it gets harder to believe that what's happening in Fallujah (which, incidentally, was a Baathist stronghold) was spontaneous (also in International Herald Tribune; Houston Chronicle):

A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad.

The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq.

[ . . . ]

The seven-page "Special Analysis" was written under Defense Intelligence Agency guidance by the Joint Intelligence Task Force, which includes officers and analysts from across the civilian and military espionage community. It is not known whether it represents a fully formed consensus or whether there might be dissenting assessments.

Officials who have read the study said it concludes that in Falluja, which is currently encircled by the Marines, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 hard-core insurgents, including members of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard who melted away under the American-led offensive, are receiving tactical guidance and inspiration from these former intelligence operatives. "We know the M-14 is operating in Falluja and Ramadi," said one senior administration official, speaking about another rebellious Sunni Muslim city nearby.

[ . . . ]

The report says that under Mr. Hussein, M-14 was responsible for "hijackings, assassinations and explosives," and that its officers are responsible for "the majority of attacks" today. In one detailed section, it describes how M-14 organized "Tiger Groups" of 15 to 20 volunteers trained in explosives and small-arms who would organize and carry out bombings, including suicide attacks.

It cites an attack in the first week of April 2003, when a suicide bomber killed three American special operations soldiers near the Haditha Dam. The dam had been captured to prevent Iraqi forces from blowing it up A civilian vehicle approached a checkpoint, and a pregnant woman stepped out and began screaming, the military said in a statement issued after the attack. When the soldiers approached, the woman and the vehicle detonated. The new intelligence report quotes captured M-14 officers as saying that the woman who carried out the suicide attack was a colonel in their organization.

A pregnant woman blowing herself up? What sort of organizational culture is that? I'm starting to think that the sooner this M-14 organization is burned out, the better off Iraq will be.

Well, at least the news is not all bad (via New York Times; also SF Chronicle):

Reports from inside Najaf said the growing anger of residents there against Mr. Sadr and his men, who have sown a pattern of lawlessness since their uprising in the city began this month, had taken a startling new turn, with a shadowy group killing at least five militiamen on Sunday and Monday.

Those reports, from residents who reached relatives in Baghdad by telephone, said the killers called themselves the Thulfiqar Army, after a two-bladed sword that Shiite tradition says was used by the patron saint of Shia, Imam Ali, the martyred son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. The group distributed leaflets in Najaf threatening to kill members of Mr. Sadr's Mahdi Army unless they fled Najaf immediately, according to accounts.

One Najaf resident said some of Mr. Sadr's militiamen were shedding the black clothing that has been their signature. The same resident said that he knew of two killings of Mahdi Army members on Sunday and that three others had been killed later on Sunday or Monday.

Update: Ralph Peters suggests in the New York Post that the CPA is getting the order wrong: respect for the rule of law, and then democracy.

Posted 8:46 AM by Tony

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Korean Teletubbies

Via the Chosun Ilbo, here's a shot of the Uri Party, a personality cult for party that supports President Roh Moo-hyun:

They look familiar, somehow.

As you can tell, I'm not a big fan of these guys - the Marmot can explain.

He also points out some more jackassery from Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun. My own prior posts on him are here and here.

Posted 5:46 PM by Tony

A Great Night Of "Journalism"

Someone at ABC News definitely needs to be smacked upside the head. Here is what you can expect this Friday, which coincidentally, I'm sure, starts off sweeps week.

First, there's a reality show-style view of adoption on 20/20 (via 20/20):

In a unique television event, Barbara Walters documents a young birth mother's journey as she selects who, among five anxious couples vying for a child of their own, will become parents to her child.

Marvelous - I was under the impression that news department was in the business of news, not "unique television event[s]." Even the adoption agency that participated in this piece was surprised (via Fox News):

A very personal, intimate process was made to look like a reality-show contest [in the 20/20 teaser], with prospective parents dubbed "winners" and "losers."

[ . . . ]

Jennifer Marando, co-director of A Child's Waiting (search) adoption agency in Akron, Ohio, which participated in the show, says she and her sister and co-director, Crissy Kolarik, were completely disheartened by the teasers.

"We didn't go into this to outrage anyone," she says.

"We chose to participate in order to educate people on open adoption. But it's not an educational piece at this point - it's an entertainment piece made into a reality-show theme."

Second, you can then watch a roll-call of American war dead on Nightline, the timing of which, we are assured, has nothing to do with ratings (via Washington Post, by way of Instapundit):

In its announcement yesterday, ABC News said the program was its way of paying tribute to the dead. And "Nightline" executive producer Leroy Sievers called it the program's way to "remind our viewers -- whether they agree with the war or not -- that beyond the casualty numbers, these men and women are serving in Iraq in our names, and that those who have been killed have names and faces."

That is good to know because otherwise we might be left thinking that Friday's broadcast, which ABC will simulcast on its Jumbotron in New York's Times Square, is a cheap, content-free stunt designed to tug at our heartstrings and bag a big number on the second night of the May ratings race.

Koppel, also in the announcement, acknowledged that Memorial Day might have been "the most logical occasion" to do the program. Ya think?

"But we felt that the impact would actually be greater on a day when the entire nation is not focused on war dead," he said.

Ah yes, and, of course, Memorial Day falls outside the May sweeps, when viewer levels are used by the networks to set advertising rates. Memorial Day is also traditionally a day of very low television viewing. He forgot to mention that stuff.

Sievers and others we spoke with at ABC News insisted they did not realize that the May sweeps start tomorrow.

Additionally, he told Poynter Online yesterday that the idea came out of a brainstorming session and Koppel was all for it, as was the management of ABC News. Imagine, nobody at ABC News stopped to think that telecasting this thing on the second night of the May sweeps might appear like an unseemly sweeps ratings grab.

Who'd have thought that the only people in broadcast TV with no awareness of ratings sweeps periods all work at ABC News? I mean, what are the odds, really?

ABC may be well served by the following remarks:

When we began taking our journalism more lightly, people began taking us less seriously[.] . . . I have no problem whatsoever with entertainers and comedians pretending to be journalists; my problem is with journalists pretending to be entertainers[.]

The above remarks were made April 20, 2004, by Ted Koppel, host of Nightline (via Reuters/Hollywood Reporter). How about that.

What are they smoking over there?

Posted 2:29 PM by Tony

Flying The Canadian Skies

This Globe and Mail story falls into the "what the eff is this?" category:

Two CF-18 fighter planes [Canadian purchase of US F-18 Hornet] escorted an Air Canada jet as it landed here Tuesday after a threat.

Officials were tight-lipped about the type of threat that prompted the two fighter jets from CFB Comox to scramble and intercept the Boeing 767 [Flight 109] as it flew to Vancouver from Toronto.

"The emergency landing took place as a result of an unspecified threat," Cpl. Peter Thiessen of the RCMP told a news conference.

[ . . . ]

This is a routine air sovereignty operation," said Capt. Dave Muralt of Norad.

He would not confirm how many times such an operation has taken place in Canadian skies, although he said fighter jets escorted a plane into Whitehorse on Sept. 11 and another Air India plane off the East Coast in 2002.

It's a little odd that the one of the previous escorts was on 9/11. While I don't know about the 2002 Air India incident, my brain immediately connects the words "Air India" and "Canada" to Flight 182 (see Globe and Mail). The whole thing raises mental flags.

Here's a couple more: What in the world is a "routine air sovreignty operation," and since when are fighter escorts of passenger airliners "routine"?

Update: According to the CBC, the escort was a reaction to an e-mail threat. Doesn't answer the question of what a "routine air sovreignty operation" is, though.

Posted 1:07 PM by Tony

Lindy Hop Hazards

Went dancing last night. Let me just say that being elbowed in the eyeball hurts like hell.

Posted 8:25 AM by Tony

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Thanks To The Guard

According to the SF Chronicle, the state National Guard will hand over security of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Guard has been on 24-hour duty there since November 2001.


Posted 7:30 PM by Tony


I always feel guilty about deconstructing a Heather Mallick column - it's akin to grenade fishing in terms of the challenge involved (see prior posts here, here, here, and here). The columns are always so delightfully incoherent.

Her latest one is no different, excoriating mercenaries, religion, and of course oil companies. How oil companies have anything to do with what happened to Fallujah seems a bit odd, but there it is. So let's take a look at the column, and what Mallick asserts there:

Conclusion - The Blackwater personnel are not human.

Granted, this is more an implied assertion than an explicit one. At the beginning of her column, she stated that she was initially "horrified," which suggests a human reaction to something that happens to other humans. Later on, she writes:

My human feelings changed once I studied the Fallujah bridge scene with more care. [7 paragraphs later] Thinking versus feeling: I think I shall no longer give a damn about the fate of mercenaries.

I think it reasonable to conclude that she no longer considers Blackwater employees not just non-military, but also non-human.

Conclusion - It's really Halliburton's fault.

Mallick apparently bases her conclusion on the Halliburton's involvement in Iraqi reconstruction, and an assertion that:

At least three of the four Americans in their shallow grave had worked for Halliburton, the biggest private contractor in Iraq. [emphasis added]

I'm not going to reach the former assertion, which has already been debunked, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out.

Instead, Mallick's reasoning is based on an allleged former association. "Had" means that whatever happened, happened in the past. It seems rather unreasonable to attribute guilt based on former associations - based on that reasoning, all of Mallick's former employers should be blamed every time her column is printed in the Globe and Mail.

Conclusion - Blackwater personnel lied about speaking Farsi.

What? First of all, the relevance of this seems rather questionable. The US is in Iraq, a majority of which is Arabic (via CIA Factbook). Arabic people, as might be expected, speak Arabic. Farsi is a Persian language, spoken in Iran (see CIA Factbook). So, where's the relevance? Her claims that "Americans are the most ineducable people on Earth" (from 1999), and that "[s]mart people have become a cult in the U.S." (from 2003) sound rather hollowly, given this dazzling display of erudition.

Second, this is an assertion without any proof. Does she have any knowledge that Blackwater personnel wrote down that they knew Farsi, with the knowledge that they had no such ability? My guess is probably not, and her assertion comes mighty close to slander.

Conclusion - Soldiers are cannon fodder.

Mallick's conclusion that regular soldiers are cannon fodder is consistent with a column (complete column, plus fisking, at blackbloc) last year in which she wrote:

Plus it is hard to worry about people dying when they have applied for a job where a willingness to die is the main qualification. Now that soldiers aren't expected to snuff it, I don't know what defines a good soldier anymore.

Her use of "cannon fodder" suggests that soldiers (especially American soldiers) are unskilled and fit to do nothing more than stand up and die. Let's examine that. US Army basic training lasts for 9 weeks. Advanced Infantry Training takes another 14 weeks. Similarly, Marine Corps boot camp is 13 weeks, followed by a 52-day period of infantry training. So that's approximately six months before anyone even gets assigned to a unit.

Now, I've never been in the military, but this hardly seems like unskilled labor that requires nothing more than getting shot. Ms. Mallick's aspersions hardly seem justified.

Conclusion - Blackwater personnel deserve no sympathy, given the nature of their employment.

Here's the meat of Mallick's objection. Mallick first objects to the pay received by American contractors, using the example of a former Green Beret earning 1000 dollars per day. Assume that's true for a second. Right now, I would imagine that the demand for highly skilled military (or quasi-military) personnel outstrips the supply, as the Christian Science Monitor points out:

From Iraq to the Horn of Africa, the 49,000-strong [US Special Operations Command] is spearheading a global campaign against terrorists and the hunt for "high value targets" like Osama bin Laden. As a result, over the past year the elite force - including Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and Civil Affairs, Navy SEALs, and Air Force Special Tactics - has seen its biggest deployment ever. In Iraq, US Special Operations Forces (SOF) controlled operations in two-thirds of the country. Some 100 Special Forces teams took part, compared with 85 to 90 in Vietnam, says Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, commander of Army special operations.

[ . . . ]

The strains have required SOCOM to step up the pace of rotations. For example, a recent surge in the deployment of Navy SEALs - from 25 percent to 34 percent of the force - means that SEALs now spend six months abroad every 18 months rather than every two years. "I worry about sustaining the force as we move through these multiple marathons," says Navy Capt. Robert Harward, who commanded SOF forces in Afghanistan and southern Iraq.

Consider the training that a Special Forces soldier is required to undergo. Matt is better able to address this, but according to the same CS Monitor article, only 550 people graduate from that training per year. Given the low supply and the need for those personnel, 1000 per day does not seem all that outrageous.

Second, Mallick seems to object to paid soldiery on the grounds that such people have no loyalty to anything other than the paycheck. However, it should be noted that people often choose a profession, and a particular job on the basis of more than monetary considerations. For example, I entertain doubts that Mallick would accept employment at the National Review. Security jobs seem no different to me, in terms of the motivation involved (see Fox News). It's only the nature of the job that differs.

Third, she objects to the private contractors on the ground that they are unpoliced. She may actually have a point here, as Phil Carter discusses in Salon.

Mallick appears to use the term "mercenary" in the colloquial sense, rather than in any legal sense (see Phil Carter in Findlaw). Rather, she uses the term in the sense of "a private individual who engages in combat on behalf of a government without being part of that government." The basis for Mallick's opprobrium is a bit unclear. Are private individuals acting in an armed capacity incapable of serving honorably or well? One wonders if she also carries the same disdain for the French Foreign Legion or the British Brigade of Gurkhas, both of which are composed of private individuals under contract to foreign governments.

Mallick's column therefore suffers from numerous deficiencies. I, for one, would hardly expect otherwise, where the topic is America, and the author has a long-standing hatred of Americans, opined that smart Americans are a rarity, and judges a nation by its magazines.

Update: Colby Cosh answers Mallick's question, "What poem does a modern mercenary recite?"

And here's another example of private American citizens under contract to a foreign power. Those darned Eagle Squadron mercenaries.

Posted 6:37 PM by Tony

30K And Going...

The Spirit of America challenge has raised almost 30,000 dollars so far. Incredible.

Donate, if you can - the cause is worthy.

Posted 10:17 AM by Tony

New (To Me) Blog Pointer

Just stumbled across Tomas Kohl's blog. He's from the Czech Republic. He provides a different geographical perspective, in terms of blogging, than what I'm normally used to, i.e., American/Canadian/Orient (or East Asia, depending on your inclinations).

He's not enamored with the Republic's upcoming entry into the EU. I don't know how the Czechs will fare, but I certainly hope it won't be a case of trading one yoke for another, as some Hungarians seemed to think:

(found last year via, natch, Instapundit)

Posted 9:43 AM by Tony

Monday, April 26, 2004
If Iraq = Bush's Vietnam, Then Does Fallujah = The Press' Tet?

In August 2002, I was in Hue, Vietnam (partial map here). I was traveling with a college friend - we had both finished the bar exam, and decided to do some touristy stuff together. I remember the day quite clearly - it was what I call "90/90 weather," that is, 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and 90 percent humidity.

We had just hung out at a place called the DMZ Cafe, which, while we were there, featured the sounds of Credence Clearwater Revival wafting across the patio. We crossed over to go visit the old imperial palace, which was a walled city within a larger walled city, which, in turn, was separated from the rest of Hue by a moat.

Walking through the palace grounds, we noticed that there were grass-filled rectangles, where there should have been buildings. There were quite a few of these blank areas, which outnumbered the areas where buildings still stood. Signs in front of these empty spaces noted that the building that should have been there had been destroyed during the Tet Offensive.

I got to thinking about this recently in light of Ted Kennedy's remark that "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam." (via CNN). While I have my doubts about the comparison, it seems to me that Fallujah is turning into the press' Tet.

The Tet Offensive was a military loss for the Vietnamese Communists. However, the American public saw it as a loss, given the press coverage at the time.

I found a 1978 article from the Air University Review that looks at, in the context of reviewing Peter Braestrup's Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington .

Many of the criticisms of the press then seem just as valid now. Some examples, quoted from the 1978 article:

Misconception: The offensive was a victory for Hanoi. The press corps, it is now clear, was stunned by the initial Tet attacks, many of which occurred in Saigon. When the allies met some initial reverses, the press reacted by emphasizing the enemy's successes. As the weeks wore on and military intelligence clearly indicated defeat for the insurgents, the press still interpreted the offensive as a "psychological victory" for the Vietcong/ North Vietnamese Army, who "held the initiative," "decide who lives and who dies... which planes land and which ones don't," who were unconcerned with losses, and could "take and hold any area they chose." There was little objective analysis of the many enemy failures or of the severe toll that allied counterblows exacted from the enemy.

Misconception: The sapper raid on the American embassy, the fighting in Hue, and the siege of Khe Sanh typified the war. In fact, these engagements were not typical, but exceptional. Scores of press reports, however, identified these battles as microcosms of the war because they were visible, tangible, and conventional. The reassertion of government control throughout South Vietnam by American and GVN troops was virtually ignored.

Flaw: There was no willingness to admit error or correct erroneous reporting after the fact. The classic example was the Associated Press's continued assertion that sappers had entered the U.S. Embassy building in Saigon more than twelve hours after it was clear the attack had been repulsed on the grounds.

Flaw: In their commentary on events in Vietnam, reporters "projected" to the American public their own opinions and fears based on incomplete data and their own inclinations.

Sound familiar?

Arnaud de Borchgrave, who covered the Tet Offensive for Newsweek, points out that media misconceptions led to a gradual unraveling of American resolve (via UPI, also at Washington Times):

As South Vietnamese troops fought Vietcong remnants in Cholon, the predominantly Chinese twin city of Saigon, reporters, sipping drinks in the rooftop bar of the Caravelle Hotel, watched the fireworks 2 miles away. America's most trusted newsman, CBS' Walter Cronkite, appeared for a standup piece with distant fires as a backdrop. Donning helmet, Cronkite declared the war lost. It was this now famous television news piece that persuaded President Johnson six weeks later, on March 31, not to run. His ratings had plummeted from 80 percent when he assumed the presidency upon Kennedy's death to 30 percent after Tet. His handling of the war dropped to 20 percent, his credibility shot to pieces.

Until Tet, a majority of Americans agreed with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson that failure was not an option. It was Kennedy who changed the status of U.S. military personnel from advisers to South Vietnamese troops to full-fledged fighting men. By the time of Kennedy's assassination in Nov. 22, 1963, 16,500 U.S. troops had been committed to the war. Johnson escalated all the way to 542,000. But defeat became an option when Johnson decided the war was unwinnable and that he would lose his bid for the presidency in November 1968. Hanoi thus turned military defeat into a priceless geopolitical victory.

With the Vietcong wiped out in the Tet offensive, North Vietnamese regulars moved south down the Ho Chi Minh trails through Laos and Cambodia to continue the war. Even Giap admitted in his memoirs that news media reporting of the war and the anti-war demonstrations that ensued in America surprised him. Instead of negotiating what he called a conditional surrender, Giap said they would now go the limit because America's resolve was weakening and the possibility of complete victory was within Hanoi's grasp.

I don't know if Iraq is the same as Vietnam Seems to me, however, that the press in Iraq is subject to precisely the same institutional weaknesses it suffered from 26 years ago.

As a final thought, Kennedy should really watch his one-liners, as they have a tendency to backfire. He'd be well-advised to consider his 1988 "Where was George?" gave rise to the immediate rejoinder of "dry, sober, and at home with his wife," as PJ O'Rourke noted (via RightWing News).

Posted 3:42 PM by Tony

Dead Man Walking

Looks like Israel has a fix on Hamas' new leader (via Fox News):

Israeli military officials said Monday they believe Mahmoud Zahar, a surgeon and prominent Hamas hard-liner, is the new leader of the Islamic militant group in the Gaza Strip.

[ . . . ]

Hamas has refused to identify the man chosen to replace Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader who was killed in an Israeli airstrike April 17.

The group's leaders in Gaza have been in hiding since the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was assassinated by Israel on March 22. Israel has said the group's entire leadership is marked for death.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of homicide bombings that have killed more than 300 Israelis in the past 3 1/2 years.

I'm just wondering how long it will take before this new guy eats a missile.

Posted 12:42 PM by Tony

Saturday, April 24, 2004
Showing The Colors

There's a rather interesting piece in the Joongang Ilbo, arguing that an identifiable American expat culture simply does not exist in Korea, outside of military bases:

Foreigners are out every weekend playing cricket, rugby, soccer, ultimate frisbee ? heck, they've got fully functioning leagues. But who's organizing Sunday afternoon softball games? Who is importing Milwaukee's Best to cook the bratwurst? Who is staging Steinbeck and strumming Springsteen covers in Itaewon? That's right, no one. We're too busy telling people we're Canadian.

It's an unfortunate fact that there is an unspoken shame attached to being an American abroad. The fashionable stance to take, espcially for young expats, is that we reject America and all its imperialistic connotations. Regardless of personal beliefs, our public personas often prevent Americans from finding each other and creating that common bond, that forum of support, that appreciation for tradition, that community.

I can hardly say whether or not this is true. When I lived in Korea, I always stayed with relatives, and never really immersed myself in the expat culture. It's an interesting perspective nonetheless.

But, importing Milwaukee's Best? There has to be a better choice.

Posted 8:54 PM by Tony

Only Sorta Soulless

I was just watching a rerun of Angel, and heard the following line:

But you were a blood-sucking soulless demon; they're lawyers.

I'm not sure whether to feel flattered or insulted by that.

Posted 8:24 PM by Tony

Friday, April 23, 2004
The Google Bomb Explodes!

I mentioned this earlier.

Now, go Google "waffles."

Please excuse me - I have to go somewhere and laugh now.

Posted 5:58 PM by Tony

Snipers And Ambulances

Now, the above are words one normally doesn't expect associated with each other. Jo Wilding, who has apparently been working in Fallujah, has is outraged about snipers, in an April 13 essay:

Snipers are causing not just carnage but also the paralysis of the ambulance and evacuation services. The biggest hospital after the main one was bombed is in US territory and cut off from the clinic by snipers. The ambulance has been repaired four times after bullet damage. Bodies are lying in the streets because no one can go to collect them without being shot.

[ . . . ]

Azzam is driving, Ahmed in the middle directing him and me by the window, the visible foreigner, the passport. Something scatters across my hand, simultaneous with the crashing of a bullet through the ambulance, some plastic part dislodged, flying through the window.

We stop, turn off the siren, keep the blue light flashing, wait, eyes on the silhouettes of men in US marine uniforms on the corners of the buildings. Several shots come. We duck, get as low as possible and I can see tiny red lights whipping past the window, past my head. Some, it’s hard to tell, are hitting the ambulance I start singing. What else do you do when someone’s shooting at you? A tyre bursts with an enormous noise and a jerk of the vehicle.

I’m outraged. We’re trying to get to a woman who’s giving birth without any medical attention, without electricity, in a city under siege, in a clearly marked ambulance, and you’re shooting at us. How dare you?

How dare you?

A serious charge, worthy of serious consideration.

This April 12 Yahoo!/AP story may provide a clue:

Sunni insurgents are smuggling weapons and fighters into Fallujah in aid convoys and ambulances, making it difficult for U.S. troops to stem the flow of weapons, Marines said Monday.

On Monday alone, U.S. troops in Fallujah uncovered anti-aircraft guns buried in a load of humanitarian aid and saw an ambulance pull up to two shot insurgents and take away their weapons — leaving the casualties lying there.

[ . . . ]

But rebels have been exploiting the relative calm to smuggle in the supplies they will need if fighting resumes, Marines say. Inside the city, insurgents have been using ambulances to transport weapons between neighborhoods, Marine Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said.

On Monday, Marines shot and killed two insurgents seen setting up a machine gun near their position, Byrne said. An ambulance wheeled up, and a man got out to collect the machine gun, leaving the men, he said. The ambulance man also was shot and killed.

Or, April 8 LA Times story, relating an air strike on a mosque:

Marines said the decision to call in airpower was made after they found that insurgents had hidden weapons and fighters in the back of an ambulance. The U.S. had permitted the ambulance to carry away at least half a dozen fighters killed in the gun battle around the mosque site.

So it basically comes to separate eyewitness accounts, although of separate incidents. Is it a question of "somebody's lying"? Not necessarily. However, the latter stories may explain Ms. Wilding's experience.

For more on the Fallujah/sniper thing , see LA Times (reprinted in Contra Costa Times, Boston Globe, Seattle Times).

Posted 4:06 PM by Tony

Fund Raising

I got a positive response on my last picture essay, so thought I'd give it another go.

As some of you know, there's a fundraising marathon to help raise, through the Spirit of America, money for various civil reconstruction projects in Iraq. Right now, there are three teams of bloggers trying to fan support.

I'm throwing my support to the Liberty Alliance, and I swear that neither the promise of boobie shots nor the blog tool goodies having anything to do with it. I just think it's for an excellent cause - winning the "hearts and minds" battle over there:

I donated because I wanted to answer this question:

(via University of Minnesota war poster collection

When you get right down to it, the conflict is not simply:

(via US Navy Historical Center)

We need to realize that:

(via Canadian War Poster Collection, McGill University)

Now, I've always thought this fits, even if at a metaphorical rather than literal level:

(via Dean Esmay; also Northwestern University WWII Poster Collection)

Though, living in the Bay Area, I've seen people forget that they're rooting for their countrymen to be killed:

(via Allah)

What the Marines in Iraq are trying to do is to expand the marketplace of ideas, and provide an alternate source to al-Jazeera, much as Voice of America broadcast to behind the Iron Curtain to provide an alternative source to Communist-controlled news. If the Marines are successful, then al-Jazeera and their ilk won't be the only ones on the air:

(via Kittleson Collection, Minneapolis Public Library)

So, donate, if you can, and:

(via Kittleson Collection, Minneapolis Public Library)

You can then answer this question:

(via Philadelphia Print Shop)

With this:

Rather than being a miserable failure:

(via Cox & Forkum)

On another note, it occurs to me, that given the current oil-for-food scandal (see MSNBC), some thing change very little:

(via Snapshots of the Past (see headline on enlarged version to see what I mean))

Thanks for the pointer to Gennie:

(via War Poster Collection, University of Washington)

Posted 2:48 PM by Tony

A Gentle Jog To Canadian Memory

I remember reading a Heather Mallick column in which she derided President Bush for encouraging Canada to develop its military. For those of you not in the know, the Canadian Forces are severely underfunded, and has troubles with manpower and maintenance (see Globe and Mail comment).

One of its members, Romeo Dallaire, was commanded the UN forces in Rwanda during the genocides (see CBC profile). His experiences should really be a wakeup call for Canada.

Otherwise, this World War II-era poster may prove to be less true than it used to:

(via New Hampshire State Library)

Posted 12:19 PM by Tony

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Earth Day

So today's Earth Day. I have no problem with environmentalism - my problem is with environmentalists. So, of course, I cherish the irony of seeing the square in front of City Hall carpeted in trash after an Earth Day celebration.

This being California, and Arnold Schwarzenegger being governor, I suppose some protest was in order (via SF Chronicle):

A group of environmentalists is urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to "abandon his Hummer and go hybrid" for Earth Day today.

I found the headline the most amusing aspect of the whole story:

Environmentalists call on Schwarzenegger to abandon Hummer

And of course, there was this:

"The Hummer's tagline is 'Like Nothing Else,'" added Daniel Becker of the Sierra Club.

Heh. Somehow, I doubt this headline will come true, in whichever sense of the word you care to take it.

Posted 4:46 PM by Tony

Bite Me

I hadn't heard much about the Van Helsing movie, but I figure it'll be pretty good. After all, how can you go wrong with hot chick vampires? (via Maxim)

See also here. No guarantees on viewability-whilst-at-work.

Sorry, no acerb political stuff today - been busy as heck and all I can think about is sleep.

Posted 4:37 PM by Tony

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Battle Of The Loudspeakers

Via LT Smash, a possibly apocryphal scene:

Ramadi, Iraq, minaret loudspeaker, unknown voice:

This is the day you die, come forward and we will kill you in name of Jihad [.]

Ramadi, Iraq, Marine Corps loudspeaker, weapons company commander:

Come out and fight you goddamn pussys and fight us in the streets like ****ing men!

Internet, soap box, miserable failure:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.

Now, tell me, which one would you care to bet on? I'll take the USMC every single time, thank you very much.

Posted 6:47 PM by Tony

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Unintended Consequences

So there's some speculation that Yasir Arafat wished to "send a message to the United States (via Arutz Sheva - Israel National News):

The United States has determined that Yasser Arafat approved a terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy convoy in which three Americans were killed in 2003. Middle East Newsline reports in the name of U.S. diplomatic sources that an American investigation into the Gaza bombing last October indicated Arafat's clear role.

The sources said that Arafat did not draft or approve the details of the attack, but rather agreed to a proposal relayed by one of his high-level aides for the Palestinians to "send a message" to the United States. The idea for the attack came at a time when some Fatah officials complained that American policy towards the PA and the Arabs was unfair.

Message received (via CNN):

Bush also embraced Sharon's position that Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to a new Palestinian state but not to Israel.

Sharon's government proposes a "disengagement" plan that includes a provision for Israel to pull out all Jewish settlements and troops from Gaza and all but six blocs of Jewish settlements from the West Bank.

Is it just me, or is Arafat the world's worst mailman?

Posted 12:10 PM by Tony

21st Century Laurel & Hardy

Dawn's got proof.

Posted 9:52 AM by Tony

Monday, April 19, 2004
Comparisons, Anyone?

This made me laugh my ass off (from Sydney Morning Herald, via LGF):

Muslims across Spain are lobbying the Catholic church in Cordoba to make a symbolic gesture of reconciliation between faiths by allowing them to pray in the city's cathedral.

Cordoba's Renaissance-era cathedral sits in the centre of a 10th century mosque complex, and local Muslims want to be allowed to pray there again. They have appealed to the Vatican to intercede on their behalf.

As a Catholic, I'm hoping that the Pope's reply is something along the lines of:

"Sure, once Jews and Christians are allowed to conduct services at the Dome of the Rock."

By the way, how's the Danegeld y'all paid working out? I'm curious.

Posted 3:57 PM by Tony

Friday, April 16, 2004
Working The Angles

Let's not kid ourselves about the objectivity of al-Jazeera.

The station refused to broadcast the last moments of an Italian hostage, Fabria Quattrochi, who before he was executed (via Sydney Morning Herald, via Tim Blair; also Blackfive):

The Italian hostage executed in Iraq tried to tear off his hood seconds before he was shot dead and screamed: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies."

Yet, at the same time, this station has no problem airing videos of captured Americans, as it did last year, or is it did today. That ticks me off. Which is why I donated to Spirit of America to help the Marines create an alternative.

It's not much of a marketplace of ideas when there's only one seller in that market.

Posted 6:22 PM by Tony

Loons Of A Feather

. . . flock together. Or at least, there's an attempt at it (via SF Chronicle):

The independent presidential candidate [Ralph Nader] sent an open letter to Moore on Friday pleading with him to support Nader's third-party candidacy, as Moore did in 2000.

"Ok Michael, you've had your realpolitik fling with ex-General Wesley Clark," Nader writes. "Your endorsed presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries has withdrawn. It is time for you to come home, to join your buddies and resume your only genuine role which is that of defiance and resistance."

I've written about Moore before (here, here, and here). I don't know why, but this article really just amuses the heck out of me.

Posted 4:14 PM by Tony

Art Appreciation Friday

There's a Pierre et Gilles exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art until May 16.

One of their works is 'Asian Venus' (via Korea Times):

Asian Venus

Very Botticelli, but a tad weird.

More in the Korea Herald - it's worth a read.

Posted 9:22 AM by Tony

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Dawn and Eric shows their mad marketing skills, using this Kerry poster generator at Wizbang to create a new John Kerry poster.

Here's my take:

Naturally, I found some much better ones after I did mine, in the Kerry Sloganator gallery:

Kama Sutra
Do as he says

Mm, waffles!

Posted 9:02 AM by Tony

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Now, It's Time To Talk?

Okay, so Moqtada Sadr wants to talk (via Washington Post):

But Sadr also said in the interview that he remained open to negotiations, and the cleric dispatched an envoy to Baghdad Wednesday to offer proposals for a peaceful resolution.

The timing wasn't affected by this, I'm sure:

About 2,500 troops from the U.S. Army's 1st, 2nd and 25th Infantry divisions were assembling on the outskirts of Najaf, the military said Tuesday. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military's deputy director of operations in Baghdad, said Tuesday that the troops had orders to capture or kill Sadr and "to eliminate the final elements of Moqtada al-Sadr influence down there."

In Iraq's other flashpoint city, Fallujah, about 35 miles west of Baghdad, sporadic fighting interrupted an uneasy five-day ceasefire between insurgents and U.S. Marines.

(To see why Sadr is wanted, see this Q&A in the Washington Post)

Might I suggest the following in response to Sadr's request for terms?

No terms except an unconditional surrender can be accepted.
I propose to move immediately upon your works.

Update: So much for the truce in Fallujah (via Globe and Mail):

A day earlier, Marines came under two heavy ambushes, the best coordinated and largest guerrilla operations in days, said Capt. James Edge. Two Marines were killed Tuesday and two Monday, the military announced.

"I think they are absolutely taking advantage" of the truce, said Lieutenant-Colonel Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, deployed on the southern side of the city.

A force of 20 insurgents attacked a Marine position in a residential neighborhood, then damaged an armored vehicle that came to support it, Edge said.

A fierce battle followed to extract the vehicle as F-15s overhead fired on gunmen. Early Wednesday, A-130 gunships fired on a row of buildings in the area from which ambushes have repeatedly been launched, Capt. Edge said.

Outside the city, an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter — used to ferry special operations soldiers and large enough to carry 38 troops plus a crew of six — was hit by ground fire early Tuesday. A Marine team that came to secure it was ambushed and suffered casualties.

The Marines called a halt to offensive operations on Friday to allow negotiations between U.S.-allied Iraqis and Fallujah representatives in an attempt to ease the violence. Gunmen in the city called a cease-fire Sunday. But Marines have been responding to guerrilla fire — and striking gunmen who appear about to attack.

Posted 9:07 AM by Tony

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
A Curious Coincidence

I saw this story in the Washington Post, and the name caught my eye:

Those attacks on convoy routes, which U.S. forces were using for the first time, revealed a previously unseen degree of coordination among insurgent groups, said Army Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, the commander of a brigade-size task force now assembling for possible combat operations against the forces of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr in or near the holy city of Najaf.

I had just finished reading Iron Soldiers, a book about the 1st Armored Division in Iraq during the first Gulf War. A Captain Dana Pittard is one of the people featured in that book.

Odd coincidence, that.

Posted 9:03 PM by Tony

Are You Sure This Wasn't In Kyoto?

Canada is a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol. Conrad points out a seeming contradiction. Unless it indicates why Chretien (spit) wants to prevent global warming?

Perhaps it's time to dust off War Plan Red and go save the baby seals.

Of course, some of the numbers may have to be adjusted downward:

1935 Canadian army: 95,576 (est.)
2004 Canadian army: 35,000*

* Apologies to any Canadian readers, but seriously, this is ridiculous.

Posted 8:32 PM by Tony

There's Never A Bad Time For This

Apparently, the Miss USA contest was yesterday. And here's the winner:

Shandi Finnessey
(via Yahoo!/Reuters)

And I'd just like to point out (via Yahoo!/Reuters):

Finnessey, a statuesque 5-foot-11 blonde from St. Louis, wrote a book called "The Furrtails," as part of her aim to integrate mentally retarded children into regular classrooms. She has a master's degree in counseling and also plays piano and violin.

At a party following the event, Fennessey described her social life as "totally single and looking."

A Republican, she told Reuters she would use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq (news - web sites). "What needed to be done had to be done," she said.

[emphasis added]

First the Mox, and now Miss USA - compared to the blondes on the other side, the ol' VRWC is doing pretty well.

Posted 8:11 PM by Tony

Monday, April 12, 2004
Da (Google)Bomb

Gennie, as you may have noticed, is having some fun. I certainly would hate it, though if some miserable failure decided to steal her waffles, though.*

Blackfive joins in on the waffles fun.**

Sorry, blogging is going to be light for a while. You know it's busy when working on weekends is no longer exceptional. *grin*
* And, no, motivation for posting today wasn't the threat of de-linkage. *snort*

** Hat tip to Blackfive for the heads up on the video to the Boogie Pimps remake of Somebody to Love.

Posted 9:09 PM by Tony

Friday, April 09, 2004
Does This Count As A Reason?

Found this Yahoo!/AP story via LGF:

Muslims on Long Island signed a petition saying "we must not bomb mosques" in Iraq [], while worshippers and clerics at Friday prayers around the United States worried that the war is getting out of control.

After their weekly service at the Islamic Center of Long Island, 200 worshippers signed a petition to President Bush[]. It not only condemned military actions at mosques, but urged the president to "bring home our boys and girls."

The prominent, New York-area mosque was one of many where American Muslims were talking about the situation in Iraq on Friday. Over the past week, the conflict there has increased significantly — with heavy fighting around a mosque compound in Fallujah that was hit with a U.S. missile and bomb.

U.S. military officials have said insurgents were using the mosque as a base of operations, making it a legitimate target under international rules of armed engagement.

Copies of the Westbury petition — written Thursday night by Ghazi Khankan, regional director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations ["CAIR"] — will be sent to 150 other mosques in the New York City area for more signatures.

[emphasis added]

But that's not the whole story (via Washington Post):

As the Marines fought their way into Fallujah, [Lt. Col. Brennan] Byrne and other officers said, about 40 armed men opened fire on the Americans with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from a bunker at the Abdelaziz Samarrai mosque. Four Marines in a Humvee several blocks away were wounded.

After ground attacks failed to flush out the fighters, Marine officers at different command posts in the city debated how to respond. After a few hours of discussion, they decided to order an airstrike.

An AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter fired a rocket at the mosque compound, and an F-16 fighter jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on the site, military officials said. They said the bomb and rocket destroyed part of a wall surrounding the mosque but not the mosque itself. The Marines said in a statement that one insurgent was killed in the attack.

[emphasis added]

So there's RPG fire coming from a mosque, and several Marines have already been wounded. And only after several hours of discussion do the Marines finally decide to bomb the mosque.

Sympathy meter's not exactly pegging here.

Of course, CAIR has its own credibility problems.

Posted 3:24 PM by Tony

On The Wild Side

Last year, I pointed out a series by SF Chronicle reporter John Koopman, detailing his experiences with the 3/4 Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom (here, here, and here).

Well, I just saw a new story with his byline today, about the bondage scene in San Francisco. I guess he got assigned to a new beat (yes, pun intended):

It's Wednesday night and they're on their way to Bondage A Go Go. They sometimes do their bondage thing in private, sometimes in local dungeons. Each venue has pros and cons. Bondage A Go Go is not a sex club. It's a great place to be watched.

[ . . . ]

Most everyone is nice and extremely polite. One man spent a half hour snapping a rubber band on his girlfriend's nearly naked torso, leaving angry red welts all over. As they left, the dungeon master opened the door for them and said, "Have a nice night." The man smiled and said, "Thanks very much. See you next time."

The bondage room is nearly soundproof, which means the sounds of spanking and slapping are all the more pronounced. There's a lot of leather wear; it sometimes smells like a new shoe in there.

Quite the change in assignments, I think.

And no, I'm not planning to check it out. So get your minds out of the gutter. *grin*

Posted 3:00 PM by Tony

Thursday, April 08, 2004
And I Thought My Day Sucked

Found A View From A Broad, by a female soldier in Iraq (found via LT Smash). Some of it, such as yesterday's post, makes for hair-raising reading:

We started out on the roofs, looking for snipers. But RPGs and mortar fire forced us down and as we retreated, the shooters started hitting the building more often because they were walking their weapons closer. Eventually, our safe area was reduced to just one hallway in a central building.

[ . . . ]

We faced a force of four to five hundred rebels, with mortars, RPGs and various handheld weapons. There were four US soldiers---myself and the other people in my team----about twenty coalition soldiers, and thirty or so scared British and Aussie expats, including the British governor. The coalition soldiers had a couple tank/hybrid vehicles, but they didn’t have much ammo for them. By midnight, everyone was running out. We kept impressing this on Higher, and they just couldn’t get that through their heads. What the fuck good are they? We are running out of ammo. We will be over-run if light hits this place in the morning and finds us still here.

[ . . . ]

More than that, it was the concrete reality that you were going to die. I felt that a few times yesterday, last night, and this morning. Escape attempt after attempt fell through, and those mortars started hitting the grounds, the gate, the vehicles. The enemy sent word that when darkness fell, they were going to over-run the compound and exterminate everyone there. The whole Iraqi security force just up and quit. One guy claimed that his mother had had a heart attack and he had to go home. I heard that on the radio myself. It’s the dog-ate-my-schoolwork excuse as applied to battle.

[ . . . ]

[The governor] wanted to negotiate or whatever. With people like this? I’m sorry, but Sadr just has that Jim Jones glint in his eye, except with well-armed followers. Furthermore, they’re a lot more hostile than Jones’ followers were, too. I kept thinking that we were going to have a Fallujah repeat on our hands, except perhaps they weren’t going to wait till we were dead. And I didn’t want my brother to go through that. I mean, I’d have been dead. If it looked really bad, I’m sure I could have saved some rounds, and even then, it would have had to have to be they’re-on-the-other-side-of-the-door-with-an-RPG-and-there’s-five-people-left-bad.

Go read the rest.

Posted 6:02 PM by Tony

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Quote Of The Day

The reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger's (I love writing that!) suggestion that the California legislature be a part-time legislature (via SF Chronicle):

"If you make it part-time, I think you will get a group of people that are even less focused on real public policy," said Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, a Democrat from Pittsburg. "The difficulty now is, these issues are too complicated, and there is no time to get into the meat of issues. A part-time Legislature is not going to solve that problem."

Yes, thank God we have a full time legislature devoted to "real public policy" such as:

Extending "last call" hours in San Francisco
Urging the California Building Standards Commission to incorporate feng shui principles
Failing to pass a state budget on time since 1986
Engaging, as Assemblywoman Oropeza did, in childish antics

Now, could someone remind me again of the advantage of a full-time legislature?

Posted 5:51 PM by Tony

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Someone Needs To Retake Free Speech 101

Michael Friedman, as I mentioned before, started up a letter writing campaign directed at the Daily Kos's advertisers, in response to Kos's execrable comments concerning the four Americans killed in Falluja.

One result of this has been that several of Kos's advertisers dropped their advertisements. One person decided to take out an advertisement. That person is Jeff Seemann, running for United States Representative, 16th Congressional District, consisting of the counties of Ashland, Wayne, Stark, and Medina in Ohio.

Here's what he had to say on the issue, with my responses interspersed:

The Jeff Seemann for Congress campaign recently learned of the controversy brewing regarding

Blogs like Daily Kos are some of the best byproducts of the country we live in....a country that cherishes its' right to speak freely. Weblogs and other independent forms of expression are extremely important today because they allow for everyone?s voice to be heard.

Yes, blogs are good. They contributed to the fall of a Senator (PDF, and are currently highlighting the silly remarks of another.

However, blogs are simply one form of expression. The fact of their existence does nothing to change the existence of other forms of expression, e.g., newspapers, essays, letter writing campaigns, consumer boycotts, and the like.

Whether a blog like the Daily Kos is one of the "best byproducts" of free expression is a matter open to debate. Judgments concerning the value of particular blogs is a matter of subjective judgment, and do not lend themselves well to objective standards.

We were saddened to hear that three advertisers pulled their ads on the site because of the remarks posted on the blog. The comments may be controversial, but they are just as relevant. The ability to allow comments like those read on Daily Kos is a testament to the virtues this country was founded on, especially the right to free speech.

Let's get something clear. The right to free speech means that the government can't shut you up. The virtue of free speech means that everyone should have their say, despite the sensibilities of the government, or private citizens. These are two different concepts.

Is the government objecting to Kos? No. Which means that the virtue of free speech, not the right is at issue.

Got that? Good. Let's continue:

Our campaign has decided that because of the recent events we will step in and advertise on We have made this decision for two reasons:

1) We firmly believe in the First Amendment and everyone's right to say whatever he or she chooses on their own website.

As pointed out above, we're not talking about the right of free speech - we're talking about the policy or principles behind that right. Let's assume Seeman is talking about the virtue, not the right.

Again, Seeman is missing the mark. Has anyone said that Kos is forbidden from saying what he said? No. Instead, many bloggers, myself included, consider what he said despicable, not that he couldn't say it. Voltaire (allegedly) expressed the distinction this way: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

But Kos's exercise of free speech does not immunize him from the contempt of others. Remember, free speech means that others can point out that you're being a dolt.

Unless Seeman's vision of free speech includes suppression of other people's speech.

2) We refuse to allow our campaign to be bullied by the right wing like they bullied Kos' previous advertisers.

"Bullied"? By people speaking their minds? Boycotts are a perfectly legitimate form of protest. Remember apartheid? Anyone care for a table grape?

If salty responses and boycotts are the stuff of bullying, why, we must all be a nation of bullies, and have valued bullying since at least 1789.

We entered this campaign for Congress based on courage and the desire to stand up to the Republicans who are destroying our country with huge deficits, unjustified wars, and a blatant disregard for Americans and the challenges they face in their daily lives.

In my experience, true heroes tend to downplay their own courage. I think it's a tad tacky to trumpet one's own courage, but okay.

We understand that the decision to launch this advertising campaign will attract attention, both positive and negative. We will make no statement regarding the actual content of Kos' controversial statement, but we will always stand up for his right to dissent. Furthermore, we are campaigning to return this country to a Democratic majority in Congress and we will not allow our message to be written or altered by our opposition.

I have no problem with the fact that Kos engages in free speech. I vociferously disagree with the content, but that's my right and perogative.

I find it curious that a former journalism major and 'on-air personality' is unclear what free speech entails, but maybe it's just my own blinkered, knuckle-dragging perspective.

Update: Got the spelling wrong. It's actually "Jeff Seemann." My bad.

Posted 8:25 PM by Tony

Korean-American Babes

Found at the Chosun Ilbo, via the Marmot:

Jennifer [no last name given in article] is a U.S. citizen with a Korean mother and American father. She attended a foreigners’ school since the age of seven and speaks English fluently. Her graceful beauty has landed her spots on several cosmetics commercials and she has plans to work in the music and movie industries.

By the way, this isn't going to be a regular feature. I can't compete with Conrad or hardyandtiny - I know my limitations.

Posted 10:43 AM by Tony

Kerry On Religion

It really seems that Kerry just cannot get a break. Of course, since most of his problems emanated from his own mouth, it's a tad hard to be sympathetic (via UK Telegraph):

Last Sunday, while campaigning in Missouri, Mr Kerry preferred to miss a Catholic service rather than risk a confrontation with the formidable Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis. Archbishop Burke had publicly warned the Massachusetts senator "not to present himself for Communion" in the state of Missouri unless he dropped his support of existing abortion laws.

[ . . . ]

Archbishop Burke justified his stance on Mr Kerry by citing a "doctrinal note" published by the Vatican last year. It states that politicians have "a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to" vote for such laws.

Instead of attending Mass in St Louis, Mr Kerry opted for the city's new Northside Baptist Church, where he delivered a coruscating denunciation of President George W. Bush's failure to put his own faith into practice.

[ . . . ] The Kerry campaign has not yet disclosed its candidate's plans for Holy Week, but he may be well advised not to return to Massachusetts. Mr Kerry's local bishop in Boston, Sean O'Malley, is no more sympathetic to his views than Archbishop Burke. Without identifying his most famous parishioner by name, Bishop O'Malley has said that a Catholic politician who did not vote in Congress according to Church doctrine "should not dare to come to Communion". Ten other bishops have expressed similar opinions.

Now, if the man's pro-abortion, he's pro-abortion. Fine. But it seems a tad inconsistent to take a stand in contravention of his professed faith and then slam on the president for an alleged disconnect between faith and practice.

Kerry seems a tad sensitive on the topic, it seems (via New York Times):

Mr. Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching.

"Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner. "Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

It seems a tad inconsistent of him to ask for the identities of his critics, in light of his own refusal to name the "foreign leaders" who allegedly support him.

But perhaps consistency is a little too much to ask for?

Posted 9:38 AM by Tony

Aim For The Top!*

I mentioned the X Prize, being offered to the first private parties to launch a reusable space vehicle, a few months back. Well, our neighbors to the north are in the race as well (via Globe and Mail):

The Toronto-based entry known as the da Vinci Project plans to launch its Wildfire capsule into the stratosphere from the airport in Kindersley, a community of 5,500 southwest of Saskatoon, this summer.

The capsule is to be carried by the world's largest helium balloon to a height of 24 kilometres, where its rockets will fire, shooting the capsule up to about 120 kilometres above Earth.

If all goes well, astronaut Brian Feeney will be in space for about five minutes before he and the capsule drift back to the ground with the help of a parachute.

[ . . . ]

Wildfire's total budget is $5-[m]illion, while the Rutan, its main competitor from California, has a $25-million wallet filled by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

“It's the Canadian team with no money against the American team with unlimited resources,” said Ms. Wildman. “But they just did some test flights and had a failed landing and our testing has gone perfectly. We feel like we have the edge.”

The Canadian Arrow, the other Canadian entry in the contest, is based in London, Ont. That team hopes to make its launch this year from a barge in Lake Huron, about five kilometres offshore from Sarnia, but no date has been announced.

It's interesting that Rutan's team is spending 25 million dollars to win a 10 million dollar prize. Let's see how this all turns out.
* Props to those who can figure out where the title comes from without search engines.

Posted 9:04 AM by Tony

Falluja Roundup

The overdue (from the benefit of hindsight, at leat on my part) pacification of Falluja is underway (via Washington Post):

"This is not retribution," [Lt. Col. Brennan] Byrne [commanding 1st Battalion, 5th Marines] said. "This is not a vendetta. This is about making the city livable so that the people here to not have to live in fear of the thugs taking control of it."

Byrne said the insurgents "we're definitely waiting for us" when they entered the city. "There were men on rooftops shooting at us. . . . We got mortars fired at us all day. Last night we fought for an hour. The night before, for almost four hours.

"All we could do was watch our backs and try to respond," he said.

And some questions just answer themselves:

One Marine said "they shot at us from rooftops. From the streets. They shoot at you and then run and hide wherever they can. I think it's tough here. These people keep asking us why they don't have electricity, don't have water, why nothing is fixed."

Lance Cpl. Jamil Alkattan said that after the firefights, the Marines have been "going into houses to do what we had to do. We kept finding houses with guns in them that were still hot. The people tried to hide the guns or say that they had been sleeping.

"But how could they be sleeping when the sound of gunfire was so loud?"

Why some Iraqis keep underestimating our people, I'll never know.

And Mark Bowden, who wrote Blackhawk Down writes in the Opinion Journal:

[The US response] means recognizing that the gory carnival on the streets of Fallujah is not evidence of the mission's futility, nor is it something to chalk up to foreign barbarity. It was deliberate and it must be answered deliberately. The lynching of African-Americans would have ended decades earlier if authorities had rounded up and punished those participating in crimes like the one in Marion. Somalia would be a vastly different place today if the U.S. and U.N. had not backed away in horror from the shocking display in Mogadishu.

The rebels in Iraq who ambushed those American security workers in Fallujah ought to be hunted down and brought to justice, but they are not the only ones responsible. The public celebration that followed was licensed and encouraged by whatever leadership exists in Fallujah. Whether religious or secular, its insult, warning, and challenge has been broadcast around the world. It must be answered. The photographic evidence should be used to help round up those who committed these atrocities, and those who tacitly or overtly encouraged it. A suitable punishment might be some weeks of unearthing the victims of Saddam Hussein's mass graves.

Posted 8:40 AM by Tony

Bizarre Local News

This pretty much goes into the "Ewww" category (via SF Chronicle):

A Bay Point woman was jailed early Monday for allegedly biting off the lower lip of her boyfriend during a domestic dispute.

[ . . . ]

The lip could not be located [.]

Update: And for some bizarreness abroad, there's the arrest of Mr. Choe (via Chosun Ilbo):

Choe placed the body of his mother in his grocery store's refrigerator immediately following an autopsy that was performed on her following her death on Feb. 7 from bedsores.

Choe said, "The police conducted a search of my house last August on suspicion of theft, even through I had committed no crime. My mother was so shocked at the time she fell down the steps and was bedridden; she died of the bedsores she developed… I'm not holding a funeral as a protest against the police."

About this, the police said, "He isn't carrying out his duty to perform a funeral, which is a religious obligation, and his refusal to perform a funeral is making those around him uncomfortable, so we filed for a warrant."

Posted 8:27 AM by Tony

Friday, April 02, 2004
The Moral Equivalence Brigade

We now know who 3 of the 4 killed in Fallujah were (via Fort Worth Star Telegram):

Two Army veterans and a former Navy SEAL were among four American contractors killed in Fallujah, Iraq, their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets.

Family members and a spokesperson said Thursday that Jerko "Jerry" Zovko, 32, Michael Teague, 38, and Scott Helvenston, 38, died with another civilian Wednesday after they were hit by rocket-propelled grenades in a rebel ambush. The victims worked for Blackwater Security Consulting, one of five subsidiaries of North Carolina-based Blackwater USA.

[ . . . ]

Jerry Zovko was 19 when he joined the Army in 1991. He spoke five languages fluently -- English, Croatian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Tom Zovko said.

Teague of Clarksville, Tenn., was a 12-year Army veteran who earned a Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan and served in Panama and Grenada, his wife, Rhonda, said in a statement. She called her husband a "proud father, soldier and American."

[ . . . ]

Helvenston was identified by a family spokesperson who said the family would comment today. Helvenston lived in Leesburg, Fla., before joining the Navy when he was 17.

He served with the Navy SEALs for 12 years and later worked as a fitness promoter, starting a company called Amphibian Athletics. He also was an actor and stunt man for movies including G.I. Jane, according to a company Web site.

According to the Washington Post:

A Blackwater spokesman said the men were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality.

Consider that for a second.

Then consider the reactions of folks at Democratic Underground, such as this:

Death to ALL mercenaries
The beer is on me.

And this:

These swine were MERCENARIES. Paid Hessians. Murderers for hire.
They're worse than Al-Queda. At least Al-Queda is fighting for a cause.
I say "too bad, so sad, bye-bye."

And the Daily Kos:

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Conrad is right on point. Screw you, Kos.

Update: Michael Friedman gets results.

Kos has replaced his original post, wholesale, with a justification post. Aside from the silliness of the content, it's pretty lame that he erased the entire original post, pretending that it never existed. But, as the aforementioned Friedman illustrates, that's what screen shots are for.

Posted 8:24 AM by Tony

Thursday, April 01, 2004
The Chicken Bomb

I'm not sure if this is an April Fool's joke, but I pass it along (via Globe and Mail):

claim that Britain considered using live chickens in a nuclear weapon aroused skepticism Thursday, but officials insisted that it was not an April Fool's hoax.

“It's a genuine story,” said Robert Smith, head of press and publicity at The National Archives.

The archives released a secret 1957 Ministry of Defence report showing that scientists contemplated putting chickens in the casing of a plutonium landmine.

The chickens' body heat was considered a possible means of preventing the mine's mechanism from freezing.

Listing ways of extending the armed life of the landmine, the declassified document proposed “incorporating some form of heating independent of power supplies under the weapon hull in the emplacement. Chickens, with a heat output of the order of 1,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per bird per day are a possibility.”

The seven-tonne device, code named Blue Peacock, would have been detonated from a distance or by timer in the event of a retreat from invading Soviet troops, to prevent them from occupying the area.

[ . . . ]

Details of the chicken proposal feature in an April 2-Oct. 30 exhibition titled The Secret State at the National Archives in Kew, west London.
[link here]

Posted 1:52 PM by Tony

And People Mock Me For Reading Maxim

What the hell is this nonsense (via Min Jung; see also here)?

Posted 10:18 AM by Tony

Charlie McCarthy*

Found this in the Congressional Record, in a debate concerning HR 3966, which would forbid federal grants to universities that kept ROTC off campus (see how your representatives voted here:

Mr. [Christopher] COX [R-Calif.]. It is true that there are a handful of brave students at Harvard that are ROTC scholars, and it is true that Harvard is happy to cash their scholarship checks; but Harvard refuses to permit the ROTC program on campus and, therefore, the students have to go down the road to MIT, which will accept them as the gentleman knows. As a result, the discrimination against Harvard students is very real. Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal has outlined, not on their editorial page but in news articles, there is on campus a very hostile attitude toward students in uniform. That needs to be changed.

Mr. [James] MCGOVERN [D-Mass.]. I appreciate the gentleman’s answer. I would also say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when we talk about the importance of people standing up to their responsibilities during this difficult
time, I hope that there will be equal passion that will be brought to demanding that some of these Benedict Arnold companies that, quite frankly, take U.S. tax dollars and are engaged in contracts involving the reconstruction of Iraq and they do not pay U.S. taxes, I hope that there will be some accountability there.

[emphasis added]

That's funny, I didn't even see John Kerry's lips move.

Let's put the irrelevance of Mr. McGovern's remarks, which came in the middle of a debate concerning ROTC, aside. Let's put the inappropriateness at bandying about implicit charges of treason aside. Let's put Halliburton conspiracy theories aside.

What gets me is that Mr. McGovern's remarks come literally hours before a Fallujah mob murdered and mutilated employees "engaged in contracts involving the reconstruction of Iraq."

It ranks right up there with Jennie Trauschen calling the American flag "a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and represision" on September 10, 2001.
* Charlie McCarthy was the name of a ventriloquist's dummy voiced by Edgar Bergen, father of actress Candice Bergen. Way before my time, but it fits the topic of this post well.
Update: I chose the title before I saw this Maureen Dowd piece in the New York Times. Of course, I like to think that my posts are a bit more coherent than Dowd's columns, but it's embarrassing to have even this much in common with her.

Posted 7:54 AM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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