I've been AWOL taking finals and visiting family but should now be around a little more. How exciting for you! Lookit -- you're literally quivering! With delight! That's totally sweet. I appreciate it.
Look for new features in the New Year. Like maybe we'll finally move to saltomortale.org (don't hold your breath). And watch the gentle bitchslap of jps3 for blogging elsewhere. But for real, watch for the introduction of The List -- Salto's meager attempt at garnering some extra hits wrapped up in an unconvincing snarky package. And we're only hours away from the start of the weekly NSFW "Monster's Disgusting Porn Corner"! Finally, BigD has offered to give us all regular pick-up tips for Asian chicks. So that'll be good.
Yeah, whatever. I know.
I'm a little sick and my ambitious New Year's Eve plan is to go to a movie. There is, however, a possibility that I can't be arsed.
There are two types of people. There is the type that might see the new Rocky movie. Then there is the type that will never see the new Rocky movie. It is an impossibility.
I fall into the latter group.
I'll just point out that this movie is really just a continuation of the boomer fantasy that they're not in fact getting really, really old. This phenomenon has many facets: the most obvious are these laughable cultural artifacts of which Rocky is a prime example. There are other more pernicious aspects of this tendency, like the enormous generational employment clogging in industry after industry that prevents post-boomers (ahem) from moving up as quickly and naturally as they should. Listen, boomers: FUCKING RETIRE.
But, on Rocky: I will find someone to disclose to me the ending of the movie. If it doesn't end with Rocky's death in the ring at the hands of a black man it's obviously rank idiocy. Also, as if any boxing commission in the country is going to let a 60 year old in the ring with a young buck.
"We will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed," the officer said.
"It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is puerile."
Local tourist guide Andreas Behmueller said it was only the British that had a fixation with Fucking.
"The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzburg," he explained. "Every American seems to care only about The Sound of Music (the 1955 film shot around Salzburg.) The occasional Japanese wants to see Hilter's birthplace in Braunay."
"But for the British, it's all about Fucking."
Guesthouse manager Augustina Lindelbauer described the village's breathtaking lakes, forests and vistas. "Yet still there is this obsession with Fucking," she said. "Just this morning I had to tell an English lady that there were no Fucking postcards."
Shameless. Absolutely shameless. A just and civilized society would sentence these assholes to emptying bedpans and changing dressings at Walter Reed hospital, not allow them to preen in a glossy mag aimed at high-end consumers. Better still, send them to Iraq to help with the wounded and maimed there. Force them to get their hands wet with blood and guts, to witness up-close the pain and suffering they advocated in safer climes. If they refuse this duty, bring back public docks and let passers-by pelt them with rotting fruit. Sociopaths like them need to be contained, not turned into Gap models. But given our criminal culture, where we slaughter countless thousands and shrug our shoulders when called on it, such promotion is inevitable. And the neocons know it. No one who promotes US state violence on behalf of corporate elites will ever be truly punished. That's the system we live in.
Among the presidential administration, members of the government, deputies of both chambers of parliament, regional heads, as well as the boards of Russia's top state corporations, four in five officials worked for the KGB, or continue to work for one or more of its successor organisations.
"Israeli officials view a fondness for Dungeons and Dragons as being indicative of a delusional mind, RPGers are out of touch with reality. "The game indicates a weak personality," one security official said. "One of the tests we do, either by asking soldiers directly or through information provided us, is to ask whether they take part in the game," he added. "If a soldier answers in the affirmative, he is sent to a professional for an evaluation, usually a psychologist." Also, a strip club."
Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, I have never met General Augusto Pinochet.
As the one regular salto reader who has met me can corroborate, I used to look exactly like that guy. Several times, friends have reported seeing me in places I've never been. There was even a guy at my law school who looked like me, and Three's Company-like hijinks ensued. A couple months ago, one of my best friends started talking to a guy and at first didn't believe that it wasn't me. Weird.
Someday, I expect that I will be arrested and convicted on the basis of evidence like the photograph above.
All in all, it's still better than looking like Dan Hedaya.
[T]he US has the largest percentage of its citizens imprisoned of all countries in the world, including China. One of every 32 US adults is behind bars, on probation or on parole. ... According to the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College in London, the US has 700,000 more of its citizens incarcerated than China, a country with a population four to five times larger than that of the US, and 1,330,000 more people in prison than crime-ridden Russia. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. The American incarceration rate is seven times higher than that of European countries. Either America is the land of criminals, or something is seriously wrong with the criminal justice (sic) system in "the land of the free."
"Covering the time period from 1955 to 1978, more than 700 artists and 30 styles of music are mapped in currents flowing from left-to-right. For each performer, the length of time that he/she remained a major hit maker is provided. The overlapping streams allow you to compare the longevity and influence of multiple artists for the same time period. The birth and genealogy of each stylistic category is presented, along with an estimation of its share of total record sales."
“The use of the distorted phrases is insulting to the Chinese and Chinese-Americans, and gives the impression that they are a group that is substandard to English-speaking people,” says the Asian-American Journalists Association. But Rosie’s rep thinks they just don’t get it: “I certainly hope that one day they will be able to grasp her humor.”
I think it would be very funny if Rosie ate a three pound tub of steaming shit. She may not see the humor in it, but I hope that she does someday. Because it would be hilarious.
"I'm looking forward to continuing my deliberations with the military. There's no question we've got to make sure that the State Department and the Defense Department are -- the efforts and their recommendations are closely coordinated so that when I do speak to the American people, they will know that I've listened to all aspects of government, and that the way forward is the way forward to achieve our objective: to succeed in Iraq. And success is a country that governs, defends itself, that is a free society, that serves as an ally in this war on terror."
Is it just me, or is Bush actually getting stupider by the day? Lately he's just been babbling incoherently.
Iraqi insurgents weigh in on the Iraq Study Group Report:
BAGHDAD, 7 Dec 2006 (IRIN) - Insurgents and militias in Iraq on Thursday welcomed the recommendations made in a report by the Iraq Study Group that indicated that US policy in Iraq was not working and that its troops should be pulled out earlier than current projections suggest.
“The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been one of our foremost demands since 2004. The presence of foreign troops in our country is the reason why we continue to fight, resulting in the killing of thousands of Iraqis,” said Abu Baker, a member of Sunni insurgent group Jeyshi Muhammad (Muhammad’s Army) who declined to give his full name. ...
“The occupation in Iraq is unacceptable to every Muslim fighter group and the Iraqi resistance believes that the country can only be governed by Iraqis without interference by US soldiers or politicians,” Abu Baker said.
“This report just makes us stronger in our beliefs and reinforces our view that the best choice to be taken by the United States is to leave Iraq soon,” he added.
However, insurgents also say that their own government is failing to address Iraq’s deteriorating situation and that giving amnesty to selected armed groups would only provoke others to revolt.
“They [the government] do not want to find a solution. The only thing we ask is the withdrawal of US troops and that is the only thing they refuse to do. The result of that can be seen in Iraq today,” Abu Baker said.
Al-Qa’eda representatives in Iraq have long called for US troops to leave the country and see their continued presence as a direct cause of the increasing bloodshed there.
“No Muslim country should close their eyes over this occupation that is destroying the country. The occupation is not popular with us Iraqis and that is why you can see an increase in the numbers of Iraqis who have turned into fighters against the US occupation,” said Abu Ahmed, who claimed to be a member of al-Qa’eda in Iraq and declined to give his full name.
“They have to return to their country to look after their problems because for sure all Iraqi groups can unite to govern the country. But as long as they keep occupying our country, we are going to fight and the results could get much worse for them,” Ali Kashrum, a member of the Mahdi Army, said.
“The report paints a clear picture of the situation in the country and... we expect that now the US can wake up and follow the report’s advice and leave Iraq as soon as possible,” Kashrum added.
Seems like the insurgents and the American people are basically on the same page on whether or not we should stay or go.
Milbank says that Lawrence Eagleburger "certainly did not mean that the president had fallen off the wagon." But what else can this mean?
Minutes after the Iraq Study Group placed an improvised explosive device beneath the Bush administration's Iraq policy yesterday, panel member Lawrence Eagleburger was asked how President Bush reacted to the recommendations.
"His reaction was, 'Where's my drink?' " the former secretary of state cracked after the commission's White House visit and Capitol Hill news conference. Reaching for his own cola, Eagleburger continued: "He was a little loaded. It was early in the morning, too, you know."
I almost never visit right-wing/fascist blogs, because they creep me out too much. However, on occasion, I do check out The Daou Report just to get a taste of what kind of silliness the wingnuts have to offer. My favorite quote that I found there today is from Tammy Bruce:
The Dems being in control of Congress is the equivalent of the U.S. standing naked and bent-over in the middle of some fetid worm-filled swamp in South America.
She really hits the nail on the head there, doesn't she?
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — U.S. criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the U.S. military and are using overseas deployments to spread tentacles around the globe, according to the FBI.
FBI gang investigator Jennifer Simon said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes this week that gang members have been documented on or near U.S. military bases in Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Iraq.
“It’s no secret that gang members are prevalent in the armed forces, including internationally,” Simon said, adding that the FBI is preparing to release a report on gangs in the military.
Soldiers are reluctant to talk openly about gang problems. However, Spc. Bautista Kylock, 21, of the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment in Vilseck, Germany, said last week that there are gang members within his unit.
Kylock blamed recent violence around Vilseck on soldiers affiliated with the Crips and Bloods street gangs.
Scott Barfield, a former Defense Department gang detective at 2nd Cav’s last duty station, Fort Lewis, Wash., told the Sun-Times earlier this year that he had identified more than 300 soldiers at the base as gang members.
“I think that’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
There are no official statistics on gang membership in the military, but some experts have estimated that 1 percent to 2 percent of the U.S. military are gang members, Simon said. That compares with just 0.02 percent of the U.S. population believed to be gang members, she wrote.
“Gang membership in the U.S. armed forces is disproportional to the U.S. population,” she added.
Jim Kouri, vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote recently that, in addition to the Gangster Disciples, other Chicago gangs such as the Latin Kings and Vice Lords have infiltrated the military along with neo-Nazi groups.
BUSH: In all due respect, I've been saying it a lot. I understand how tough it is. And I've been telling the American people how tough it is. And they know how tough it is. And the fundamental question is, do we have a plan to achieve our objective. Are we willing to change as the enemy has changed? And what the Baker-Hamilton study has done is it shows good ideas as to how to go forward. What our Pentagon is doing is figuring out ways to go forward, all aiming to achieve our objective.
Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die [ed. note--what?]. I understand there's sectarian violence. I also understand that we're hunting down al Qaeda on a regular basis and we're bringing them to justice. I understand how hard our troops are working. I know how brave the men and women who wear the uniform are, and therefore, they'll have the full support of this government. I understand what long deployments mean to wives and husbands, and mothers and fathers, particularly as we come into a holiday season. I understand. And I have made it abundantly clear how tough it is.
I also believe we're going to succeed. I believe we'll prevail. Not only do I know how important it is to prevail, I believe we will prevail. I understand how hard it is to prevail. But I also want the American people to understand that if we were to fail -- and one way to assure failure is just to quit, is not to adjust, and say it's just not worth it -- if we were to fail, that failed policy will come to hurt generations of Americans in the future.
So, no, I appreciate your question. As you can tell, I feel strongly about making sure you understand that I understand it's tough. But I want you to know, sir, that I believe we'll prevail. I know we have to adjust to prevail, but I wouldn't have our troops in harm's way if I didn't believe that, one, it was important, and, two, we'll succeed. Thank you.
WG: Ah, finally someone Asian. I was wondering why there were no Japanese here tonight. Me: Excuse me. Do you think we all look the same? WG: Well, no. You're Japanese, right? I know you are not Korean and you don't look Hmong. Maybe Chinese. Me: Oh, so you are saying you know my ethnicity better than I do?! WG: Well, no. But I try to learn how to tell the difference between Asians. Me: You should really stop talking before you put your foot deeper and deeper into your mouth. WG: No, no, I'm not trying to be rude. I find that my Asian friends and people I meet like it when people like me can tell the difference. Me: Really, your foot just went deeper into your mouth. WG: I mean to be friendly. I mean, people appreciate it when I ask. Me: I don't appreciate it. WG: Okay, maybe I said it wrong. I meant... Me (interrupting): Just stop.
He doesn't stop.
When my wife was in law school, she had a summer internship in Nevada. While waiting in a judge's chambers for another attorney, the judge made small talk by telling my wife all about his trips to China and how much he loved the country, at one point asking my wife, "Nihow. Do you know what that means?"
What are you supposed to do in that situation? According to my wife, he was an otherwise very nice, wizened old man. Also, the courthouse was named after him. Probably wise for a young law student to just smile and nod. A bit scary to think that he had the power to send people to federal prison.
Click through and read the whole thing. It's an excellent example of the sort of thing that white folks, especially older white folks, don't perceive as offensive. Even people who see it as offensive may dismiss it as merely ignorance, and not racism. In reply, three different commenters to the post said it better than I can:
We all deal with ignorant or downright offensive people every day. But what is really maddening is not their individual actions, it's the fact that those actions reveal deeper historical structures of injustice. For many members of our society, life would be more comfortable if these structures (and the pain they produce) stayed hidden.
I also think that by stratifying types of acts as being racist vs. being just "ignorant" or "uneducated" that we make it okay for people to continue saying and behaving in offensive ways. Yes there are degrees of racist behavior that falls on a continuum and should all be examined.
It's not the vitriolic racism that's the most insidious—that we can see and deal with more easily—it's the well-intentioned white people who can often have the most lethal racism.
-- VENEZUELA - With 78 percent of the vote counted, Chavez had 61 percent while his challenger Manuel Rosales, a governor from an oil-producing province, trailed with 38 percent.
-- BRAZIL - President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was re-elected in October with 60.8 percent of the vote against 39.2 percent for Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party.
-- NICARAGUA - Daniel Ortega, former Sandinista guerrilla leader whose Marxist regime of the 1980s was plagued by a civil war fueled by the United States, won the presidency in November against conservative Eduardo Montealegre, by 38 percent to 29 percent.
-- BOLIVIA - Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism won the presidency with 54.2 percent of the vote, while former president Jorge Quiroga received 28.6 percent.
-- CHILE - Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist in a center-left coalition, became the country's first female leader after winning 53.5 percent in January's election over opposition candidate Sebastian Pinera's 46.5 percent.
-- PERU - President Alan Garcia's beat Ollanta Humala by 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent. Garcia was more centrist than his radical rival but has well-established leftist credentials.
-- ECUADOR - In November, Rafael Correa won with about 57 percent of the vote while conservative Alvaro Noboa trailed by doubled digits, according to electoral authorities.
But not everyone is talking about it. The major Rightie blogs are perhaps not-so-surprisingly silent. I did a quick and cursory (that's all I could stand, really) survey of the ones I could think of off the top of my head: ace, pajama's front page, shrieking malkin, lgf, roger l. simon, instapund, hewitt, patterico, powerline, captain's q's, nro's corner. As of the time of this post, not a word. Not even to scream about the liberal media. Even Drudge skipped it, although he may have posted something earlier and pulled it off, even though he's still got shit on there from Friday. (Anyone else notice that he had fucking UFO sightings linked on Friday? That's why he's a bastion of journalism.)
The Right is all overBritney's va-jay-jay (NSFW), though. They do love their culture war. I was going to link to the Right-wing beaver hunt at cq, ace, shrieking malkin, instapund, and any other place I found, but I just can't be bothered. You can look it up if you like, but I don't recommend it. It's not worth it.
Glenn Greenwald performed the unenviable task of reading every Tom Friedman column regarding Iraq from mid-2002 to the present. Greenwald has boiled down Friedman's argument about Iraq to its essence:
(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved. (2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result. (3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level. (4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war.
Given the above reasoning, Greenwald comes to the only logical conclusion:
Tom Friedman is a morally bankrupt narcissist whose only devotion is to the self-love of his own genius.
"Apocalypto" really is a video game, a sort of "Survivor" set in what would become the Mayan ruins as we know them today. The action is often cartoonish, and the dialogue — which is all spoken in some ancient dialect with subtitles — is often preposterous. In one scene, after what seems like the umpteenth bloody killing, one Mayan quips to another and the translation is, "He's f—-ed."
I hope it's as big a cultural trainwreck as John Travolta's Battlefield Earth.