Monday, September 25, 2006

Life as a BlackMan- the board game*

from wikipedia's entry:

Life as a BlackMan is a board game designed and marketed by Underground Games, Inc., a black-owned game company chaired by C.E.O. Chuck Sawyer. Unlike the Game of Life, which simulates life for upper-middle class whites, the intent of Life as a BlackMan is to depict life's struggle to get ahead from the perspective of oppressed minorities in the United States. The game is promoted as a way to teach tolerance. However, critics of the game charge that Life as a BlackMan, like Ghettopoly, only reinforces negative stereotypes of black Americans.

Object of the Game:
Players begin the game as an eighteen-year-old black male high school graduate who is ready to enter the world and build a career. After starting the game, players must make their way through a number of treacherous districts, each with its own hazards and diversions....

...Building a pile of cash and getting rich is not the goal of this game. The one and only object of the game is to stop going around in endless circles, find a good career, and attain Freedom. The first person to reach Freedom wins.
company website: (I really like their flash intro.)

*"we are, most of us,pawns in life. Our only consolation is-- the game cannot be played without us." -Georg Lukács(1885-1971)**

**No, not George Lucas.


the annoying ADD tv money guy Jim Cramer is on tv right now, talking about some fund or person called Amaranth, which I know nothing about. The sound is turned off( making Kramer a mite more bearable) and at one point the graphic at the bottom of the screen said

1.hubris does not make for an effective investing stategy, and
2.hubris was originally defined by the ancients as overbearing pride that brings on retribution.

[Greek, excessive pride, wanton violence. See ud- in Indo-European Roots.]

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Al Gore and Jessica Valenti, etc.

a childishly inappropriate collage of ann althouse, bill clinton, jessica valenti, and al grabby gore

from Paul Goyette, who (possibly) wouldn't care for the exceptionally juvenile collage above:

"Maybe our very existence isn't threatened"

Since watching An Inconvenient Truth, I've had conversations with several people about it, and one of them emailed this morning to point out that Al Gore has eight bathrooms in his house. This certainly sounds grim. It turns out the eight bathrooms factoid is a bit of a meme in the conservative blogosphere right now, apparently originating with this column by Peter Schweizer (the author of this book, naturally).

I don't have any great love for Gore (although I was impressed with An Inconvenient Truth and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet, eight bathrooms or eighty), but I was seriously disturbed by the way Schweizer, upon savaging Gore for his liberal hypocrisy, concludes that the environment must not be in crisis. The logic seems to be that if Gore really believed what he was preaching, then he would act on it, monk-like and decisive; so if not Q then not P.

here's part of the comment I left(edited for clarity):

If big Al wanted to move back to Tennessee, he had to either build his own house or buy something that was on the market. He couldn't exactly buy a 3bedroom-2bath starter home, not because he necessarily would look down his nose upon it(and how would I (or Schweizer, or anyone else) know if he would thus regard it)but because given his status and consequent security concerns, he needed to live in a house with at least x-number of feet distance from the street, etc.

Let's say he found a house that met all these requirements, and it had 8 bathrooms.

Al:hmmm. I really like this house, but eight bathrooms? The right would have a field day.

Tipper: I know, honey. We really should have some of them knocked down.

Then, presumably, the right would make fun of him for being so absurdly P.C. as to knock down his extra bathrooms.

It's not so far removed from the idea that a wealthy person is a hypocrite if he's in favor of progressive taxation.

"Did you hear that Al Gore takes all of his eligible deductions?

"Yeah. What an S.O.B.!"

thinking about Al Gore and all those darn bathrooms made me think about the bustupdustup between Ann Althouse and Jessica Valenti. I realize the connection may not seem immediately apparent; Althouse(upper left) hectoring Valenti(lower right) for not being a sufficiently true feminist for posing with Bill Clinton, a bunch of other lefty bloggers, and worst of all, her breasts. David Neiwert, of all people, has a pretty useful discussion of this.

... on the surface, at least, the brouhaha over Jessica's boobs is just a petty bit of self-revelation from the right-wing blogosphere. Certainly, Ann Althouse displays far more about her own character -- or utter lack thereof -- than whatever wares Jessica shows us.

But there is more at stake than meets the eye, because what Althouse is up to, along with her cohorts on the pseudo-libertarian right, is actually attacking and undermining feminism and whatever gains it may have made over the years.

Neiwert tries to put it in the larger context of the right trying to pigeonhole the left. For my part, I don't know enough about Althouse's politics to offer a judgement.

I'm reminded of how many right-wing talk show hosts often ask guests whom they perceive as liberal to give an example of how their thinking differs from liberal orthodoxy, as if it is somehow incumbent upon them to

prove to the host and the audience that they're not nuts, and to
help reinforce stereotypes the audience may hold about liberalism in genral as indeed true.

But I also wondered, just in passing, if Al Gore is being attacked for having too many bathrooms because the white house does in fact see him as a meaningful threat in 2008. George Junior's recent faux-enviromentalist initiative suggests a concern about co-opting Gore. I had some more trenchant points I wanted to make about this, but I think I will post them later, since I realize the silly image above may diminish my argument if I offer it now. Some of the comments above I left at Hugo Schwyzer's weblog, where I suggested that Ann Althouse was just trying to get attention for her blog. At the time I didn't realize that she taught at Wisconsin's law school, and that the afore-mentioned blog of hers is apparently something of a big deal in legal blog circles. Still. Maybe if I pick a fight with her and play my cards just right, I will have both increased traffic and wake up one day with a big block of cheddar in bed next to me.

(and no, I don't think Al Gore behaves like that. Not even when all his bathrooms are occupied.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cheese, Pirates, sh** in space, etc

via, that's not TNH. I don't know who this lady is...)

1.via Teresa Nielsen Haden says*:

Somebody ought to Do Something about encouraging new writers, only please don’t make me read that stuff myself.”

2."things to do with cheese(UK)"

3.Tuedsay, Sep 19th: a kind of arrgh! all over the world; thanks to saurabh

4.HOUSTON — It's a junkyard out there

...and sometimes astronauts accidentally contribute to the litter. In 1965, the first American spacewalker, Ed White, lost a spare glove when he went outside for the first time. From that time on, astronauts have accidentally added some of the more unusual items to the 100,000 pieces of space trash that circle Earth.

Last July, spacewalker Piers Sellers sheepishly reported that he lost a spatula. Nicknamed "spatsat" by space junk watchers, it returns to Earth in a fireball early next month.

"It's one of these problems that is growing in seriousness," said William Ailor, director of the Center for Orbital and Re-entry Debris Studies at the Aerospace Corp. in Los Angeles. "It's really the small things that will get you."

Using radar and telescope sensors, NASA and the Air Force track objects bigger than about 4 inches. The official "box score" of that space debris as of Thursday was 9,925. But the 90,000 objects smaller than that can be as dangerous, zipping around Earth at more than 15,000 mph. They are just harder to track.

NASA has even seen debris hits of dried-up urine, toothpaste, and shaving cream _ all from space shuttle waste dumps _ in an experiment placed outside of the Russian space station Mir, said officials at the NASA orbital debris program lab. An Indonesian satellite was struck by urine and fecal matter. Now NASA doesn't dump human waste outside much anymore.

*post ammended slightly for clarity-JV

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Corinthian Leather® and other matters

ESPN: "woman gets 2.75 million for house and 4 acres from arlington, texas city council"
I've never been inside Texas Stadium in Irving, but it looks perfectly serviceable to me from the outside. Someone once said there's a hole in the roof because that way God can watch the Cowboys. You would think something like that would have been sufficient to keep them in Irving, but for some reason Arlington voters decided some time ago that they would raise the funds to build a new stadium to lure them away. Now as some of you already know, Irving is a little closer to Dallas than Fort Worth, but Arlington is roughly half-way between the two. You'd think the city of Dallas should be able to muscle billionaire owner Jerry Jones into staying put( or even going back to the Cotton Bowl®, located as it is in Dallas proper), by threatening to take away his right to call them the Dallas Cowboys, a municipality turning the tables for once on a sports franchise. I know, you're thinking-- intellectual property rights run amuck: maybe that city in Spain would sue Daimler-Chrysler® for retroactive royalties on all those Cordobas they built in the 70s, and Paris, France could sue Paris, Texas, and the French government could sue Versailles, Kentucky, the principality of Monaco could sue GM®(almost forgot...), the remaining Ottowa indians could sue the Canadian government, Shakespeare's heirs could sue several million people(and Bacon's heirs could then sue them, and...)

rrrich corinthian leather...mmm
Maybe we would then have to severely curtail the scope of IP law altogether. 3rd world farmers wouldn't worry about giving back genetically-modified seeds to western corporations and fewer Africans would die of AIDS. Maybe. But it would stifle innovation®, that's what the brochures say. Also maybe. But wouldn't innovation also become a lot less expensive? It's far more important that Universal Music Group® should be able to sue myspace® and youtube®, so get your priorities in order.

See also: NASA's orbital debris program,
the Air Force's space surveillance,

note: all copyrighted and trademarked material described or otherwise alluded to in this post probably belongs to somebody.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ann Richards

image:Ann Richards on bike from the Texas state library archive, b&w photo
from the Texas state library archives*.

from Liz Smith's Salon piece on Ann Richards:

I recall now a glorious moment onstage at the St. James Theatre when Ann and I appeared as "cowgirls" in a musical number for the Broadway benefit to help the Women's Health Initiative of the Actors' Fund. We came out in ridiculous garb with huge brown felt chaps, hats, boots, the works. We were later castigated by the New York Times critic as women who could neither sing nor dance. What did they know? Ann and I thought we had done great imitating Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance performing "I'm an Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande." In our patter I blamed Ann for George W. Bush's rise and her failure to stop him. She said, "That's not funny, Liz!" and shot me with her cap pistol.
She had been in and out of M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston and they had pronounced her cancer gone. But even the mighty, the feisty and the brilliant Ann couldn't come back from this terrible illness. She left this world only blocks from the big white mansion in Austin where she had been such a successful and unusual governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995. The combination of Karl Rove and George Bush put her out of office in 1995. She became a famous speaker and fundraiser for the Democrats but refused to run again herself. Many people urged her to try for the presidency, but Ann said she needed to make some money. "I don't want to end up living in a trailer parked in my daughter's driveway in Austin."
Only recently when I asked Ann her point of view about granting some kind of amnesty to illegal Latins in the United States, she just laughed: "They better grant them some way to stay here because otherwise our hospitals and nursing homes will never have the staff to take care of all of us who are growing older. The people caring for me at Anderson are almost all Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and they are simply wonderful."

I realize this may sound strange, but when I heard about Ann Richard's death the first thing I thought of was of a car I once owned, an'85 Olds 98. I sold the car in 1998(as it so happens) to Carmax, and apparently they turned around and sold it at auction, never transferring the title. I know this because in '99 I got a letter from a wrecking yard in Phoenix telling me that they were going to sell "my" Oldsmobile if I didn't come and pay the fees owed on it by such-and-such a date.(The letter was postmarked that same date. Is this in fact legal, or just one of those things businesses know they can get away with doing to poor people? I wonder. )

Anyway: I found myself wondering if the car was still out there somewhere, and if the owner wondered about the Ann Richards bumper sticker from her '94 reelection campaign, and maybe was sitting in traffic in Phoenix or Tuscon or somewhere when the car radio mentioned her passing. I'm guessing the car's already been crushed and this didn't occur-- but who knows? It was running o.k. when I sold it. I recall, dimly, that the sticker didn't even mention 1994, just "Ann Richards: Texas governor", in blue and white. Now she is also timeless.

*And she didn't look half as ridiculous as either Kerry or Junior doing a Harley photo-op.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BBC news: now with 12 per cent more goats

image: bbc goat and deb lafave
photo of debra lafave via;
goat courtesy bbc

1. "goat-free roads made me speed"

A Swiss man caught speeding on a Canadian highway has blamed his actions on the absence of goats on the roads. The man was caught driving at 161 km/h (100mph) in a 100 km/h (60mph) zone.

A traffic officer's notes said the Swiss driver had said he was taking advantage "of the ability to go faster without risking hitting a goat".

Canadian police spokesman Joel Doiron said he had never found a goat on the highways of eastern Ontario in his 20 years of service. "Nobody's ever used the lack of goats here as an excuse for speeding," Mr Doiron told the AFP news agency."I've never been to Switzerland, but I guess there must be a lot of goats there," he said.
I guess so.

2. Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal. The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.

"When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up". Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case."They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi. "We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

No word about how the goat feels about this. A cross-cultural observation. Well, a question: if this were a likely consequence for the supposed epidemic of high school teachers having sex with their teen-aged students, would it prove a more effective deterent than jail time and court-appointed counseling?

3. Somewhat more seriously, Pharmed' goats seek drug licence

"Down on the "pharm": The goats of Massachusetts"

Imagine you could get life-saving medicines from milking a common farmyard animal.

That idea moves a step closer to becoming a reality this week, as the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) considers the final stages of an application to license a natural human protein extracted from the milk of goats.

To license is to restrict, as in to patent. They want to patent a natural human protein? Scientific innovation and the intellectual property rights are poor bedfellows, maybe even more so than Mr Alifi and the missus.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Experiment(s) in terror

the "full-sized" version is here. I know the president said he read The Stranger this summer along with "three Shakespeares", but I think he just watched television-- and I'll bet he got his idea regarding the UK "dangerous liquids" scare from the Sierra Mist people.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9.10 and 3/4

I decided to check my comments after watching the nightly news.(On NBC tonight. I'm Katied out. She warned me on her debut last Tuesday that Limbaugh would be on 2 days later and I skidaddled. Well that, and she described freedom of speech as a privilege, apropo of her introducing CBS News's new nightly editorial foofaraw.)

NBC dutifully reported that nothing whatsoever is going on, anywhere in the world, besides 9.11 commemorations. Did the other networks report anything different? Fox probably had a little more footage of Junior hugging people than their competitors did, but I'm guessing that's it. I think I might be more a more patriotic person if I avoided TV news altogether. Look, don't get me wrong-- I really don't see myself as a curmudgeon, nor do I place particular value in the curmudgeonly approach to life. All the same, I tire very quickly of corporate TV whores, the politicians included, climbing all over each other trying to outdo one another in subtly telling us what kind of ideological import we should be ingesting viz 9.11, and precisely how to swallow it. And how lucky we are to be spoon-fed said lessons.

I am not altogether averse to sentiment, per se, just the false and cheap kind. I do like this image, for example, taken by photographer Don Nixon in 1999:


9.10 and a half

abc/disney/"constitutional crisis" image via

You already know, in all likelihood, about the fuss about the Disney/ABC miniseries, "The Path to 9/11", part 1 of which aired last night.

Tim Grieve in Salon's War Room writes:

"...there was also a new scene in which the actor playing Richard Clarke suggests that Clinton was not distracted by the Lewsinky affair. And then there was the world-gone-mad portrayal of a TV correspondent, reporting from the midst of riotous chaos overseas that Clinton's critics in Congress were claiming that he launched missiles in the direction of bin Laden as a "Wag the Dog" ploy. In our eyes, at least, that short clip brought home pretty well the ridiculousness of the Republicans' focus in the late 1990s and the fallacy of choosing an inadequate president based on a trumped-up notion of restoring "honesty and integrity" to the White House."

The main point of contention has been that the series attempts to smear the Clinton administration as hindered by a preoccupation with bureaucratic protocols and unwilling to go after Bin Laden in the '90s, including the assertion that Albright once held up a clandestine attack on Bin Laden by insisting that the Pakistani government be informed first. Given that the series has been touted as being based on the 9/11 Comission's report, it's awfully difficult to argue for "poetic license" when the report details no such thing. Moreover, if you're going to say your dramatization is based on the 9/11 report, you are effectively telling your audience that the details you offer aren't poetic licence at all, but part of the record.

I watched some 10 minutes of the show last night, tuning in at random. It was a sequence about the capture of Ramzi Yousef, the guy responsible for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Shortly after a team of American and Pakistani forces capture him, there's a scene in which an American operative is sitting next to him in the back seat of a Landcruiser as it's driving away from the arrest scene, and the American guy asks Yousef:

"so who's been backing you, Ramzi? Saddam? Come on, we know you didn't have the resources to pull this off by yourself!"

Where do I even start? Steering the audience to that old lie? Hell, that's a gimme. First, I assume, perhaps foolishly, that US intelligence operatives would be trained to not introduce suggestions to a subject being interrogated, as it will simply give him an idea of what you want him to say, and irrespective of what actually occurred, he may then decide to tell you what you want to hear so you will have corrupted your own interrogation.* Second, I don't think a US intelligence guy is supposed to question a high-level suspect, even informally, in front of the two Pakistani military guys (in the front seats of the Landcruiser in this scene). Wasn't that the whole point of smearing Albright in the first place, that you don't necessarily want the Pakistani military to know everything our guys know?

[also see "the path to iraq" a dandy set of links, also thanks to Tim Grieve.]

*The reason why torture doesn't work, apart from moral and diplomatic considerations.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

do you remember the British new wave?

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was not in fact Albert Finney's first film as it is often billed, but he was still a young (23 or 24) and comparatively unknown actor when he made this. I've been meaning to post this on a Sunday morning for a while.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I forget from where I nabbed this

ass-kicking cat says what?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

some items of note

1.from the Mahablog:
Last night[i.e. 9.5.2006-JV] ABC’s Brian Ross reported that Osama bin Laden has been offered sanctuary in Pakistan. This morning ABC and other news sources are denying this report. You can watch the video of Brian Ross’s original report here. You can draw your own conclusions about who got to whom.
2. a fairly trivial article in Salon:

"Beyoncé Knowles, freedom fighter":Why "booty popping" will do to Islamic fundamentalism what rock 'n' roll did to Stalinism

the superficial B.S. of this piece really cheesed me. I may discuss this article at greater length in a subsequent post.

3.NYTimes: The story of Casa Susana, a transvestite safe-house from the 1960s:

Decades later, when Robert Swope, a gentle punk rocker turned furniture dealer, came across their pictures — a hundred or so snapshots and three photo albums in a box at the 26th Street flea market in Manhattan — he knew nothing about their stories, or Casa Susanna, beyond the obvious: here was a group of men dressed as women, beautiful and homely, posing with gravity, happiness and in some cases outright joy. They were playing cards, eating dinner, having a laugh. They didn’t look campy, like drag queens vamping it up as Diana Ross or Cher; they looked like small-town parishioners, like the lady next door, or your aunt in Connecticut.

Mr. Swope was stunned by the pictures and moved by the mysterious world they revealed. He and his partner, Michel Hurst, gathered them into a book, “Casa Susanna,” which was published by Powerhouse Books in 2005 and reissued last spring
it was only after the book’s publication that Mr. Swope and Mr. Hurst began to learn the story of Casa Susanna, first called the Chevalier d’Eon resort, for an infamous 18th-century cross-dresser and spy, and only in recent months, as they have begun working on a screenplay about the place, that they have come to know some of its survivors.
Robert Hill, a doctoral candidate in the American studies program at the University of Michigan who is completing his dissertation on heterosexual transvestism in post-World War II America, came across Mr. Swope and Mr. Hurst’s book by accident in a Borders last year, reached out to them through their publisher, and sketched in many of the details.

Casa Susanna was owned by Susanna herself — the court translator, otherwise known as Tito Valenti — and Valenti’s wife, Marie, who conveniently ran a wig store on Fifth Avenue and was happy to provide makeover lessons and to cook for the weekend guests. It was a place of cultivated normalcy, where Felicity, Cynthia, Gail, Fiona and the others were free to indulge their radical urges to play Scrabble in a dress, trade makeup tips or walk in heels in the light of day.

“These men had one foot in the mainstream and the other in the margins,” Mr. Hill said the other day. “I’m fascinated by that position and their paradox, which is that the strict gender roles of the time were both the source of their anxiety and pain, and also the key to escaping that pain.”

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

IWT revisited, and anchor search

I've mentioned IWT News before (also here),and now, as is my wont, I am bugging you about them yet again. If you are as frustrated with the unrelenting crappiness and general triviality of network and cable tv news as I am, you might find the news of the existence of IWT exceptionally welcome. They are trying to build an international English language TV news network from scratch, without corporate sponsorship(so send them buckets of money.). I hadn't even heard of them until Jonathan Schwarz mentioned them a last year. (A good thing too, because now I don't have to start my own television news network from scratch, something I wasn't particularly looking forward to doing as I think it would've taken up a lot of my time. Yes, I recycle my jokes. I'm thrifty and efficient.)

According to WikiPedia they've raised some 7 million bucks so far, and are trying to raise another 25 million by years' end. They're also accepting demo DVDs(by mail only) for people who would like to be hosts for them. Sadly I am neither pretty nor a journalist*, so I won't be sending 'em a DVR. But maybe you can-- who can stop you? Nobody! The deadline is September 15th, so get to DVRing. And don't forget to send them buckets of money.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

TNR follies, or how I unbecame a neoliberal

[I guess this means that I need to clean up my act too. I can no longer allow more false hosannas of praise from TallyHo77, Lucretia Cunningham or Biff Menchaca, and I guess it's over between Lori Jo Witherspoon and me, especially since my other imaginary girlfriend was getting jealous. And there wont be any guest blogging by Andrei Sacharov when I'm gone on vacation. Damn.]

I subscribed to The New Republic from 1990 until 2002, a big chunk of my life, from the age of 26 till I was nearly 40, and for the longest time I saw their writers as fine thinkers who offered models of cogitation to aspire to. I grew disenchanted with TNR in 2002 as they joined the crazy, unreflective drumbeat for war against Iraq, undoubtedly in no small part because my mother's family is from there. Maybe the "not in my backyard" phenomenon is not the noblest reason for people to become more aware, but there it is. (Like Al Gore in 1990-91, I did agree with TNR that Desert Shield/Desert Storm was a legitimate use of US force. I wasn't sure about George Senior's decision not to expand the war for Kuwait into a war against Saddam's hold on power, but I recognized that a lot of the people who supported expanding the 1991 military mission weren't doing so out of a sincere desire to liberate the people of Iraq, but were simply racist right-wing hawks, and questioning their motives made me question the validity of their reasoning, both in 1991 and later even more so in 2002-2003.)

But back to The New Republic. Sure, I always found the pompous style of their editorials off-putting, but I figured that was just one of those things you make allowances for. Perhaps ironically, I discovered the lefty blogosphere precicely because of TNR, reading the TRB byline of Andrew Sullivan in which he alsways noted that you could check out his website,, and when I finally did I saw he was even more of a reactionary with a big vocabulary than I'd previously realized. Nevertheless, back in 2002 the political blogosphere was still pretty small, and at that time he linked to Avedon Carol and Bill Scher and even Steve Baum of Ethel the Blog, and thanks to them I realized how straight-jacketed my views had become in the 90s, wowed as I was( as millions were), by Clintonian "third-way" neoliberalism, leading many of us to believe it really was the answer to all of society's woes.

Sure, there were some cracks in that vision, even before 2002. By 1998-99, when Clinton attacked that Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in the midst of the Lewinski hearings, it had grown pretty obvious that periodic airstrikes against Saddam were occurring mainly because of political expedience and it was highly unlikely that Saddam posed a threat to anyone besides the occasional pipsqueak Iraqi antigovernment group-- which neither Clinton nor the increasingly rabid republican congress were likely to care about protecting anyway. (Chalabi hardly needed protecting, ensconced in Paris or Zurich.)

Then there was the deregulation-o-rama of Clinton's second term, with the noteable exception of the increased regulation of copyright law, the only logical consistency of the two taken together being a neoliberal investment in the ideology of corporatism. (To give TNR their due, they were against the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in '98, or so I dimly remember.)

I don't think I was even aware of the Stephen Glass business at TNR when it first came to light. Now of course, there's this business with Lee Siegel. I'm tempted to blame Martin Peretz, just because he's handy. It occurs to me that in the pre-internet era many writers may have had "ringers" writing letters on their behalf, but in those days all you had to track things like that were a postmark, as opposed to source code and IP addresses, and Siegel's sin, such as it was, was that he made TNR look foolish. It's not as if writing as an advocate on your own behalf under a pseudonym is unlawful. It just makes you look like an idiot-- if you are caught.

It's tempting to regard this embarassment for TNR as a demonstration of why neoliberalism is bankrupt, or at very least has been oversold, but that's a mite glib. Nevertheless, the central achievement of Clintonomics, the reaffirmation of progressive taxation and the resultant economic expansion and federal government surplus, wasn't really "neoliberalism" anyway, but rather a rearguard defense of traditional mainstream liberalism.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

the audio/video club

three items for a labor day weekend:

1. a new videotape of Al-Zawahiri
CNN: A new videotape has surfaced featuring Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and an American member of al Qaeda wanted by the FBI, according to a counterterrorism expert. "We invite all Americans and believers to Islam," the American says. "Decide today, because today could be your last day."
2. and a old(Jan 2006) bin Laden audiotape,
BBC:US rebuffs Bin Laden 'truce call':
Arabic TV station al-Jazeera aired the tape, later authenticated by the CIA. The message contained threats of new attacks within the US and abroad, but US security officials said they would not raise the national threat level.

It is the first time Bin Laden has been heard from since December 2004. Analysts believe the tape dates from at least 22 November as the speaker refers to reports that President Bush planned to bomb al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.
In his message, the man purported to be Bin Laden referred to the allegation of a US plan to attack al-Jazeera, calling Mr Bush "the butcher of freedom in the world".
The speaker on the tape said the reason there had not been an attack in the US since 11 September 2001 was not because of superior US security, but because the group had been engaged in activities in Iraq - and because operations in the US "need preparations".
3. Back to the present: Elanor Clift, in Newsweek:
"Expect Pre-Poll War Drums on Iran"

The same people who beat the war drums for invading Iraq are now leading the way within the administration and in the media for a preemptive strike in Iran. Crazy as it sounds with U.S. troops mired in Iraq, it could happen. “I’ve been in the camp that thinks they’re not that nuts to bomb these guys,” says Matt Bennett with Third Way, a centrist Democrat group. “But I’ve talked to a lot of senior smart Democrats who think they are that nuts.”
Apart from Clift talking about the GOP being as crazy as Bennett suggests, I don't buy any of it. Earlier this week Christiana Amanpour had a special on CNN in which one of her guests warned that an overture to conversion is a last step before Islamic fundamentalists attack, and right on cue, a Zawahiri video with the same theme pops up. As far as the OBL audio goes, we don't even know if he was alive, even in January 2006, and whether or not it was simply cobbled together from previous audiotapes, such as his previous offer of a truce. Ironically, both Bush and Zawahiri need him to appear to be alive, irrespective of the facts of the matter. And why on earth(see below) would OBL parrot GWB's talking points about how we need to fight terrorism there so they won't come over here?

and, the last bit from the BBC article:
Bin Laden offered Europe a similar pact following the Madrid train bombings of March 2004.

Correspondents say it is an attempt to frighten the public and drive a wedge between them and their governments, which say it is necessary to stay to distance in Iraq, not pull out troops. The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that in the US the
immediate political effect of the tape will probably be to boost support for President George W Bush.