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Archive for August, 2008

Utter Crap

August 21st, 2008 by Vincent

Seumus Milne“thick as a post”:

And now they’re reduced to writing Chin Up, Lads memoranda to the Taliban in the pages of the Guardian, and pretending it’s journalism, all the while reiterating the same vile, stupid, reactionary position they began with, all those years ago, as Milne does, even now: “The only way to end the war is the withdrawal of foreign troops as part of a political settlement negotiated with all the significant players in the country, including the Taliban, and guaranteed by the regional powers and neighbouring states.”

Which is to say: 1. Cut a deal with the the slaughterers of the Afghan people. 2. Veil your foetid complicity in lies. 3. Cover your tracks with the footfalls of like-minded despots and cowards from Afghanistan’s “neighbouring states.” 4. Run away. 5. Run away. 6. Run away.


Incidentally, I’ve seen numerous references to Milne supposedly having supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the pages of the journal Straight Left, for whom he served as a Business Manager. However, I have not been able to verify this, as Straight Left doesn’t appear in JSTOR or have any other online archives that I can find.

Obama’s Brother From Another Mother

August 20th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

The Telegraph is reporting that Obama has a half-brother living in a slum in Kenya. The Independent also picked up the story. Obama briefly mentioned his half-brother in one of his memoirs, describing him only as “beautiful boy with a rounded head.”

Do you guys wanna know the really weird part? The Onion broke this story last week.

United By Our Hipster-Hating Bonds

August 20th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

 Via Karol Collymore at Blue Oregon:

Last week, I believe I had three instances of the so-called “hipster racism.” I will only talk about one since it is pretty reflective of the other two. I was at a hip bar in the hip section of North Portland. I was sitting with some people new people and a couple old friends. The new people were all dressed in old-school Wranglers and tight graphic tees that made references to certain – allegedly funny – things. While I was amazed at how similarly they all looked in the hipster style, I immediately felt out of place in my loose-fitting blouse and pants. That was OK, I rolled with it. I’d wear my ironic t-shirt next time.

During our cocktails, one of the people referred to a Black person as a Negro. I immediately said something, making it clear that it was not OK to use that word. I got blank stares, a “you are too sensitive,” and then they returned to conversation. Now, I was never excluded throughout the evening and shared some laughs with these guys. As soon as the word “Negro” was uttered I felt very separate and different, and not just because my shirt didn’t have writing on it. What intrigued me more was that no one else – save my friend who is a member of the GLBT community – understood or defended what I said.

Collymore seems unaware that young twentysomethings are now allowed to do or say pretty much whatever they want as long as they affect an air of faux indifference and painful self-awareness (oh, and obnoxious clothes). Ugh, the perversion of irony into some catch-all, douchebag in-joke-cum-lifestyle fills my soul with deep, existential dread.

The next time she encounters some emaciated half-wit on a fixed-gear who thinks it’s ironic to use the word “negro,” I would advise Collymore to beat him up. Hipsters are weak and full of ennui from too much indie music. They won’t fight back.

I, For One, Am Outraged On Barack Obama’s Behalf!

August 19th, 2008 by Vincent

Evidently, allocating time for Hillary Clinton to speak at the Democratic Convention in Denver is evidence of “white privilege” in action, at least according to Jo Ann Bowman at Blue Oregon:

Since I have been old enough to vote, the primary winner was the winner period. Of course normally the presidential primary winner was a white, male millionaire.

They were not expected to give airtime to the looser. [sic] They were not expected to have their caucus votes counted on the floor. Why have the rules changed since an African American Man has won the nomination?

It appears that Ms. Bowman, in her fit of sputtering outrage, seems to have forgotten Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention — even though he wasn’t even a candidate at the time. Why, it’s almost like they give special privileges to prominent members of the Party! Oh, the injustice of it all!

(All of which is not to mention, as Kari Chisholm does in the comments section to Bowman’s post, that primary losers often have prominent speaking roles at conventions.)

Well Tickle Me Silly …

August 19th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

In my last post, I noted the bizarre “Every 15 Minutes” campaign, in which high school students are tricked into thinking that some of their fellow classmates died in an alcohol-related car crash. Today Reason posted a link to a Weekly Standard article by Katherine Mangu-Ward describing the macabre program.

This spring at El Camino High School in Ocean-side, California, the program took a new tack. The tragicomical Grim Reaper was tossed out, and the accident victims simply failed to turn up at their homerooms one Monday morning. Police officers showed up in 20 classrooms, placed red roses on missing students’ chairs, and announced the deaths of a popular athlete and other Big Men (and women) on campus. The student body wasn’t clued in to the fact that their “dead” classmates were really just holed up in a seminar room, trying out beer-goggling simulations and writing letters to their parents full of fake self-flagellation for fake drinking and driving. Many students got understandably upset.

P.S. It should be noted that MADD is not officially offiliated with the program, although as Mangu-Ward points out, “MADD members frequently participate, offering testimonials and other conventional finger-wagging support services.”

College Presidents Urge Debate of Drinking Age

August 19th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Presidents from 100 colleges nation-wide are agitating for Congress to lower the legal drinking age to 18, saying the current law is not only ignored but leads to dangerous binge-drinking among college students. Well, sort of (not really). They all signed a petition by the Amethyst Initiative to start a debate on the issue, but close enough for jazz, right?

The Amethyst Initiative’s official statement is actually quite good. In it, the organization calls upon elected officials to:

  • Support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.
  • Consider whether the 10% highway fund “incentive” encourages or inhibits that debate.
  • Invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

Can you guess what teetotaling organization is NOT happy about the news?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.

“It’s very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.

Yes, of course, because admitting a law is flawed is the moral equivalent of breaking said law. Good call, MADD. Of course, this wouldn’t be the organization’s first foray into flights of hyperbole. MADD now occupies the same, rarified heights of fanaticism as PETA and those pro-life activists who set up “holocaust displays” on college campuses. For example, check out this classy move by MADD.

P.S. In case you wondering, Frohnmayer did not sign on.

On Poseurs and Racists

August 18th, 2008 by Vincent

John Heilemann tries for… well… something; ends up looking like a complete poseur.

To wit:

… the Democrat would still need to win 40 percent of the overall paleface vote to prevail in November.

But McCain is whipping the hopemonger among white men…

… a background alien to much of Wonder Bread America

I’m not sure if he was trying to be edgy, build up some progressive cred, or was just getting in a few partisan cheap shots, but the whole “Obama-as-hapless-victim” narrative is starting to get pretty threadbare.

When even Paris Hilton, who figured in the McCain campaign’s ad supposedly filled with “coded racism”, gets the point of said ad, Obama supporters, to say nothing of Obama himself, look especially cynical whenever they busy themselves by invoking the chimera of rampant racism in this campaign.

Is race a factor? Yes. Is racism a factor? Of course it is.  Is saying that the main thing stopping Obama from steamrolling McCain is “racial prejudice”? No. That’s a facile argument.

Ames vs. Hitchens

August 18th, 2008 by Vincent



Musharraf Resigns

August 18th, 2008 by Sean Jin

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has resigned after almost ten years of military rule over the state. It was about time. Pakistan won’t miss Musharraf. But our government certainly will miss one of our staunchest allies in both Pakistan and the entire region.

Change We Can Believe In?

August 16th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

It’s already posted in the comments of another post, but I liked this so much I figured I would give it a full post. This video was apparently found on the UO server.

And the award for obvious headline goes to …

August 14th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Portlanders live in a like-minded bubble, making it easier to get things done, harder for dissenting voices to be heard.”

You don’t say? And then there’s this absolutely shocking paragraph:

It means city leaders are more simpatico and tend to get things done with less rancor than counterparts in state and federal government who deal with intense urban/rural or liberal/conservative divides. But it also means that many conservatives living in Portland — yes, they exist — feel increasingly marginalized. Some people across the political spectrum worry that the trend breeds intolerance.

Yeah, but if everyone agrees with you, you must be right, right?

Downtown, No Finer Place For Sure

August 14th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

In a 5-3 vote, the Eugene City Council passed the contentious exclusion ordinance that I wrote about last week. A judge can now ban individuals from the downtown area for 90 days without trial or right to a lawyer if they have allegedly committed a long list of crimes, including public urination, furnishing alcohol to a minor and possession of marijuana. If actually convicted, a judge can then ban the individual for up to a full year. (In other news, the Oregon Commentator staff are never going downtown again.)

That ol’ carpetbagger Alan Pittman has an article in the most recent Eugene Weekly about the exclusion ordinance. Despite the usual Pittman-isms, he manages to point out the more glaring problems with the new plan:

The city could jail, for up to 90 days, a person who violates the exclusion order. Before the ordinance, getting caught with a joint could result in a ticket; now, it could result in a three-month jail term. Holding a prisoner costs taxpayers an estimated $350 a night.

And the money quote from City Councilor Betty Taylor:

Taylor said the “unjust” exclusion ordinance will just move the problem from one part of downtown to another. “The people who are excluded will not disappear.” She said those jailed for violating the ordinance will be released quickly from the overcrowded facility, and she said that all the violations in the ordinance are already illegal. “We need to enforce the laws we already have.”

I agree. While I consider most denizens of downtown obnoxious and disgusting, the ordinance is a poor attempt at a solution – costly, hard to enforce and perhaps unconstitutional. As Councilor Bonny Bettman also was quoted as saying in Pittman’s article, “To punish people who have not been convicted of a crime is inconsistent with everything we stand for in this country.”

Losing Georgia

August 11th, 2008 by Vincent

Russia’s invasion of Georgia on Friday has been illustrative in a number of ways:

First, it’s now clear that Putin’s Russia is undeniably set upon a course of regaining at least de facto control over its former satellites, some of which have been resisting Russian and Soviet expansion for centuries.

Second, NATO’s almost complete irrelevance has been laid bare. If the member states’ reluctance to contribute combat troops in Afghanistan weren’t enough, NATO’s dithering on admitting Georgia because of Russian security concerns means that Russia basically has unofficial veto power over NATO decisions.

Third, and related to the above point, Europe’s commitment to resisting Russian expansionism can probably no longer be counted on in any serious way, given that the economies of Europe are heavily dependent on Russian oil and natural gas exports. Standing up against Russian aggression, especially if Russia establishes control over Georgian pipelines, would be economically hazardous for the rest of Europe. It’s likely that the most we can expect is a few sternly-worded expressions of “concern” and efforts to “resolve” any conflicts involving Russia, which the Russians would be more-or-less free to ignore unless they were generally favorable to their interests.

Finally, the essentially anti-American and anti-Israeli character of the so-called “anti-imperialist” crowd has been confirmed. There have been few expressions of “solidarity” with Georgia and none of the lionization we’ve seen heaped upon “the resistance” in Iraq and elsewhere (remember “We are all Hizb’Allah now!“?).


George Orwell, Blogger

August 11th, 2008 by Vincent

In case you’ve somehow missed it, August 9th was the inaugural day of the Orwell Diaries. From now until sometime in 2012, Orwell’s diaries will be posted online 70 years to the day from when they were originally written:

The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.

Creepiest American Apparel Ad Ever

August 10th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

american apparel adThis is one of those images that’s all the more horrifying because you can’t quite pin down what’s going on. Creepy-close family members or jazzercise/swinger group in the midst of undress before an orgy? How can a mustache exude that much of a pedophile vibe without causing a rip in space-time? The ad exhorts us to “stock up for school.” What kind of school are these people attending?