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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Just Give

After 911 and Banda Aceh it is easy to tell yourself that you've given all you can, or that you don't know what carity to trust- or at least it was easy for me. Now comes the news, (via Michelle Malkin here) that the UN is going to offer help and 8-10 other governments are offering help as well. So it is easy to think the government(s) will take of it, or at least it was easy for me to tell myself all those things.

“I’m sort of tapped out,” I told myself over and over every time a blog mentioned giving to help the victims of Katrina. I told myself that many times. Then I went over to sometimes UPC guest-blogger Eric’s site, and found this:

Think about it for a second from my chair… (I’m not whining but) I’m almost 40 years old…. Here is the sum total of all my worldly possessions: 4 pairs of shorts, 5 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, 4 pairs of underwear, 1 pair of blue jeans, a box of family pictures, 2 flashlights, a piece of trench art my grandfather brought back from WWI and my father’s hammer. (Hey, it means a lot to me!) That’s it. Everything else is gone. And BTW, I’m unemployed.

I tell you that not to whine but to let you see the tree thru the forest. Multiply my situation by about a million. Stop and think about that… A million people homeless and unemployed.

If you’re a blogger then (by near definition) you’re a self proclaimed talented person. Prove it. They’ll be plenty of time for punditry and pontification next month… In the mean time there is work to be done. Figure out how to help the victims.

which is from this post by Paul at Wizbang.

Okay so I want to help. You had me at four pairs of underwear… you had me at four pairs of underwear. Then you always think “how much?” right? Well, Paul solved that one for me with this.

Every natural disaster I send the Red Cross my standard $100 donation. I have no idea how to get money from them. It is a grant or a loan?

Okay so I’ll drop a $100.00. It ain’t much but if everybody did it things would add up. But who to give it to? Eric says:

There’s not much I can do except give money, and fortunately, Glenn Reynolds made it easier by providing lots of links to the various charities. I decided to give to Catholic Charities, because I worked with them years ago in San Francisco (at the peak of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s), and they were great. I’m not Catholic, but I was impressed because they didn’t proselytize, and they didn’t judge anyone. On top of that, they didn’t have the lavish offices and big salaries which some of the other, more media-savvy charities have. New Orleans is a heavily Catholic city, so I figured my money would go farther if I gave through Catholic Charities.

Not that I’m trying to convince anyone to use Catholic Charities, mind you.

Just GIVE.

So Catholic Charities got my dough. Not that I’m trying to convince anyone to use Catholic Charities, mind you.

Just GIVE.

UPDATE: Captain's Quarters is also recommending Catholic Charities, which I think says quite a lot.

Another UPDATE: Click here for a huge Instapundit round-up, or here or here for Technorati info.

Kauai Photoblogging 6: Shark blogging

My wife called her sister on Sunday and my brother in law (I'll call him Brolaw from now on) told my wife it was a perfect day to take some pictures of sharks. Not only was it calm and sunny- his cousin had seen two sharks while spear fishing in a channel near Brolaw's house.

I loaded gear and kids into the car, dropped the family off at a keiki-beach (a beach that's safe for little kids) and followed Brolaw out into the water. He's wearing diving fins and a good snorkel and mask, and the line trailing from him leads to a small buoy to mark his location on the surface. It can also act as a flotation device. He also has a long spear gun which uses rubber bands to shoot the spears, though you can't really see it in the picture.
Here is some nice coral I saw about halfway, (maybe 100 yards) to the channel. Nice to see living vibrant coral heads like this, yeah?

When we reached the channel I took this shot of nearby land, to give an idea of how far out we were.
That red buoy is attached to Brolaw, who is hunting below. (Actually not hunting at this point, but trying to find the shark hole.)
This is a cropped magnified version of the photo above. Look carefully at the far left of the picture. That speck is a surfer. You can click on any of these photos to enlarge them.

Brolaw surfaced and waved me over.
"Okay, you see that hole?"
"That's where the sharks usually come out of- maybe they're asleep or something. I'm going to go under that way and chase them up through the hole. You stay here and take pictures when they come up."
"Are you F*#*NG crazy?" I didn't say that, though. I mean I was already out there- instead I said-
The picture above is Brolaw diving to get into the other entrance to the room the hole exits out of... AND-

No sharks. Brolaw is pissed. (I, however, am not.)

I'm thinking I'll be pretty happy taking pictures of sea slugs like the one above, as opposed to an 8 foot tiger shark and his 4 foot little buddy. Brolaw says "I'll poke his favorite kind of fish and when he smells 'em he'll come, guaranteed." Pretty amazing how deep Brolaw dives and how long he stays under, btw. He doesn't pressurize his ears by holding his nose and blowing, either. He's just used to it.

It took about 10 minutes for him to find and kill this fish. I can't remember what it is called. It is good eating though, I mean for humans, as well as sharks. It was a brain shot that entered just above one eye and came out of the other eye. He tied it to the buoy.

And we waited like half an hour. I took a ton of fish shots, but you've seen plenty of those in the other Kauai photoblogs... No sharks... Ain't that just how it is? Just like a puppy or a young daughter, sharks don't perform on cue. Anyway we headed back in, which took a while because we were fighting the current.

A neat coral formation on the way in.

That's the brain shot I talked about. The hole on top was made by the spear penetrating. The white bright gooey mass below is the actual eye, which popped out due to pressure, I suppose.

Sorry folks, no sharks this time. Hopefully (really?) I'll get some shark shots next time.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Iraqi Draft Constitution Angers all the Right People

The Iraqi Draft Constitution was approved by parliament, but not everybody is happy-

The Sunnis mainly object to provisions allowing the creation of a semi-autonomous regional zones in the Shia south, which they say will splinter Iraq and allow Iran to establish a foothold.

The Sunnis have also called on the document to uphold Iraq’s “Arab identity” - a demand rejected by the Kurds - and opposed its ban on the Ba’ath party. Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, said they would join Sunnis in opposing the draft, even though they said the document’s ban on former Ba’athists was too weak.

Beautiful! The Shias are pissed because the Sunnis are getting too much of what they want, and the Sunnis are pissed because the Shias are getting too much of what they want, and the Kurds are not getting screwed over. And now, because there is a referendum coming, the people will be allowed to VOTE- AGAIN!!! on how their country will be ruled.

I know any glass can be called empty; a person can look at a glass that is 9/10ths full and demand the glass be shattered because it is 1/10th empty. Hell, a glass so full that the liquid is actually ABOVE the rim, held there by water tension alone, can somehow be called empty if a liberal decides it is so… But hearing who is pissed, and about what, brings me a lot of joy and hope for Iraq. I hope some of the liberals in the blogosphere feel the same.

Watching Iraq take baby steps, or take one step forward and two steps back, or make many missteps, or step in the wrong direction, or follow in the wrong footsteps- yet continually, somehow, move towards democracy, I think of a butt-ugly caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

Notice that the transformative steps aren’t pretty.

Storyblogging Carnival XXVI is now up...

Click here
Click here.

These guys are currently publishing my novel CLOWN in excerpts... Here's the editor's comment on my latest:

Comment: Chapters 18, 19, in which Clown Decides to Suicide Himself, and Make it Look like Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation. [Long live the Atredies House! But seriously, folks. Check this quote out: "I swear each and every cell in my body hated being tied to my soul." This guy's got an interesting, and I have to say, captivating, writing style. Give it a chance.] The stats: 2,831 words, rated R.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

By far the best post of the day ever.

The Instapundit pisses me off.

I wrote this on Tuesday. Today (Thursday) he links to this. Mine was better! Mine was FIRST!


Chapters 18, 19, in which Clown Decides to Suicide Himself, and Make it Look like Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation

This is kind of difficult to write about, really. I’m feeling sort of scatterbrained and my heart is beating really quick just thinking about it. Weird.

Back to that morning. Well, okay, first: Like I said I know how to deal with regular dorky depression. But when I woke up the morning after the day I decided to kill somebody, and knew that the resolve to kill someone was gone like every other resolution I ever made, I was pierced by something far beyond my experience.

I swear each and every cell in my body hated being tied to my soul. If you ever imagined that the sunlight coming into your room is revolted when it bounces off your face, and screams as it enters into your head through your pupil, than you have an idea of what I felt. I felt it would have been better if I never existed because then I couldn‘t be blamed for wasting my existence.

If you know what I felt like then you’ve probably tried to off yourself like I did that morning. Or maybe you are just stronger than I am.

People talk a lot about their suffering, but only certain people. The average whining woman on Ricki Lake is not exactly a role model of strength and perseverance. The strong ones don’t talk about it at all, I think, so you never know if what you’re dealing with is common or special.

Maybe you feel like I felt that morning all the time; and you just grit your teeth (until somebody comes by and then you don’t even grit them because you don’t want to show how bad you feel) and bear it. I still don’t know if I’m just weak or if I felt worse than most people ordinarily feel.

Anyway, I was never so bad as that morning. In college I read the Apologia by Plato. It is a story, or a report, about Socrates’ trial for corrupting the youth of Athens. In it Socrates talks about fear of death being useless, because such fear assumes we know what death is when we don’t. I’d forgotten The Apologia so completely that I’d forgotten I’d forgotten it. And then I wake up and after ten minutes I’m thinking:

“Like Socrates said, there is no reason to fear death because you don’t know what it is. Don’t be willfully ignorant and pretend you’re scared when you don’t even know if you should be scared or not. Just kill yourself, dude. It is okay.”

And that made absolutely perfect sense to me. It was kind of like that smoking thing. Given some good motivation you can convince yourself of any damn thing.

But there was the life insurance to think of so I wanted to kill myself in way that could look like an accident. Very important. The very least I could do is help Mom out money wise, you know? Obviously I could have thrown myself in front of a bus since I had imagined doing it so many times.

But what if you don’t die? What if you’re just this paraplegic who can’t even kill himself now? Then my parents would end up taking care of me. They’d have to fly to Seattle and rent hotel rooms and catch cabs to the hospital every morning and pay huge hospital bills. Wouldn’t THAT be great?

And I really didn’t want to make a scene or anything. I mean you’re going to make a scene if you kill yourself, to some extent, no matter what. If you throw yourself out into the ocean a bunch of people are going to be sent out to find your body. If you jump in front of a bus you stop traffic and cause a lot of people to be late for work and some poor bastard has to do something with your carcass. Someone would have to mop you up for God‘s sake. If you’re slick and throw yourself off a cliff into an ocean when no one is looking and you time it right so that your body gets carried out to sea then the very people you don’t want to suffer, your family, suffer the most because they never know for sure if you’re really dead. Even if I secretly mailed my mom a note, she would NOT believe it unless it was pinned to a body, you know? Besides, she would tell the insurance company.

So I figured the best way to kill yourself without inconveniencing others is to hang yourself. But then I wanted it to look like an accident. Finally I decided to set it up so it looked like auto-erotic-asphyxiation. Say it three times quick out loud. I dare you. I dare you to say it three times quick out loud if you’re on a bus!

What gave me the actual idea is I remembered a painting of some guy masturbating while he’s garroted by a halo’d figure with a coat hanger. It is an original painting on the wall of a coffee shop on the Ave. called Tulip’s. I think the painting is supposed to say society and or Christianity uses guilt to make a dude feel guilty for masturbating. I think the garrote is a coat hanger as a mommy dearest reference, like as if to say:

The people who are supposed to be supporting and loving us are ruining our good time.

That painting cracks me up.

I don’t have any nudie magazines or auto-erotic equipment and I had a SHITLOAD of journals with no mention of this self strangulation stuff in any of them. So the question was, how do you convince a cop you were stroking and accidentally choking rather than trying to be dying?

Answer? Internet. My first search turned up 200 plus sites dedicated, DEDICATED, to auto-erotic-asphyxiation. I printed out a few pictures from these sites, how-to sort of pictures, and spread them on the floor.

But I didn’t have any rope. Here’s the weirdest part of that entire morning, I think. I had the energy to walk all the way to the Ave. to buy rope. I mean once I decided to kill myself I got out of bed no problem. This time I wasn’t playing a game with myself, I was going to do it, so I didn’t have to keep fighting the depression. The depression was plain gone. I showered, groomed and all, got nicely dressed, and was just about to open the door to go to the store (as opposed to down the hall to shower) when it hit me that I didn’t feel that bad, so maybe I didn’t have to go through with it.

I almost passed out. The fatigue and self-hate hit me so hard that I actually went to my knees in my doorway. I didn’t want anybody to see me so I crawled backwards until I was inside. I managed to shut the door while I was lying on the floor. I lay there for about ten minutes, absorbing the fact that I was really going to die in probably less than an hour. Once I got back up I started, just started, to think about changing my mind again, and I felt it coming again, as real, more real, than a slap in the face.

It would be one more failure on top of all the others, and I’d already passed my limit. There are things worse than death and that feeling was one of them.

At least it was for me. Like I said, maybe you’re one of these super strong people who would just go on with his or her day. Not me, boss. I only wish I was.

Chapter 19. Rope.

I sort of went into a trance on my way to the store to buy rope. When what’s actually happening to you is so weird that you can’t believe it, even as you make it happen, well then you’re probably already in a trance state. If not, then you’ll definitely fall into one. As I walked down the street the world shifted and melted and slithered to move around me. The sidewalk was a long treadmill.

A raven dive bombed me at one point. This has happened to me seven separate times in my life. The six times before I hadn’t realized a bird was bombing me until the shit actually hit my bare head, (twice), face (once and you better believe THAT sucked), shirt (thrice) and shoe (once).

This time, for the first time, I saw the guano coming towards me and I was able to sidestep it. It was surreal in the way the word surreal actually means. Surreal means ‘super real,’ (not ‘weird,’ which is what most people seem to think it means) and I saw everything with wonderful clarity.

The world moved around me in slow motion as the rope found its way to me.

I watched myself as I walked to the Dollar Store nearest my apartment. I was a regular there. Socks, light bulbs, paper, candles, incense, all your hygienic needs, tools, electronics, everything can be found in the dollar store if you just happen to go there while it is in stock. And there is always some kind of rope.

I bought 30 feet of 2000 lb. test ‘trailer hitch’ rope. Total cost- 1 dollar. Sweet deal. The Korean lady who owns the place was familiar enough with me to give me a smile. That was very nice. I’d never noticed that her bottom row of teeth was near perfectly straight across, nor that her canines were unusually sharp. That woman has a way with a toothbrush. Rope in hand, I walked home, wondering how it would feel around my neck.

It was yellow nylon, about as thick as my index finger. It felt rough in my hands and I wasn’t looking forward to feeling it scratch my neck before I died. You wouldn’t think I’d care about that petty little amount of pain but I did. I wanted the last moments to be right. At that point I thought I had it made. With the decision made and rope purchased I assumed I’d be able to stay in trance mode all the way through. I’d watch myself, from my position twenty feet back and ten feet behind, as I dangled and died. But hanging yourself is actually kind of technical.

First of all I’m no sailor nor was I ever a boy scout. It isn’t easy to tie a noose. I spent over an hour on the internet learning how to tie one and practicing until I was able to get one right. It’s one of those things I always wanted to learn anyway. That got me to thinking, for just a minute, about all the other stuff I always wanted to learn. I wanted to learn Italian so I could read Dante the right way. I always wanted to know how to swing dance, too. But I didn’t want to stay alive to learn those things. Thinking about them made me feel more like a failure for not having learned them already, so it actually helped me to want to kill myself. I had to prepare the scene.

I cleaned up a bit, wanting things to be presentable. But I didn’t make things spotless because I didn’t want the place to look prepared. I undressed, feeling very self conscious until I realized I’d be long dead by the time they found my body. I tied one end of the rope to a rafter above my bed, then tossed the rest a few rafters down and tied a noose for myself. I got a chair and stood up and tried the noose on for size, snugged it tight, then took it off and went back to the rafter above my bed. I untied the knot there and took in some slack and retied it and then I went back to the chair and tried the noose on again and found that it was just about right.

I knew from my research that most people who die of autoerotic asphyxiation die from strangulation, but a small percentage die of broken necks from when the furniture they balance themselves on suddenly tips. You only need a few inches of slack and the correct angle to snap your neck. I made the noose tight in the right place behind my neck. I bent my knees, took a very deep breath, jumped up, jerked my knees up to my chest, and then jammed my feet back down onto the chair so fast my neck never even felt the slightest tug.

I very distinctly, carefully enunciated the word:
I took another deep breath and jumped again, pulled my knees up and lost my nerve again and ended up standing on the chair breathing very heavily and again said:

It would have been funny to me if I wasn’t trying so damn hard. There were two more failures to add to my list. I figured if I stood there jumping up and down failing to kill myself enough times I’d eventually get tired and miss the chair anyway. So the third time I jumped I kicked it out of the way and as I fell back my feet had no chair to stand upon and I heard my neck POP and a blinding pain went into my head from the top of my neck.

Then I was on the floor. One hundred cents isn’t a lot to pay for ten yards of rope. It broke. The pop I heard and the pain I felt from my neck were nothing more than the equivalent of when a person cracks their knuckles. It was a toughie.

My neck was sore. It hurt, but not too bad. I was having difficulty breathing and couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t know what to think, or if I should think. I didn’t feel anything, really, except the expectation that something was going to happen. I’m not sure how long I lay there without moving or thinking or feeling. I know it was less than an hour and more than ten minutes but that’s about as near as I can narrow it down.

What got me moving was the idea that I might be dead of a broken neck and not know it. I pinched myself on the nipple, where it hurts the most (I knew because my older sister used to bully me by pinching me there) and it hurt. That was kind of nice so I pinched myself nine or ten more times. I figured out, finally, that it was hard to breathe because the noose was tight across my throat. I yanked the noose over my head. Getting it off was hard. It was damned tight.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to happen. I still felt exactly as I felt the moment before I jumped up off the chair that last time: that something big was going to happen. It was the same feeling I’d had outside of the museum right before that girl screamed. Just like then, nothing happened. But I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I’d moved just enough to pinch myself and get rid of the noose, but that was it. I was still on the floor, on my side, naked, in a fetal-ish position. I waited for something to happen and nothing did.

In the movie Pulp Fiction, after the kid jumps out of the bathroom and unloads his revolver at Samuel L. Jackson and Vinny Barbarino from less than ten yards away, missing with all six shots, they end up having an argument over whether or not the misses constitute a miracle. (After they kill the kid.) I wondered that about the rope and decided it broke because I’m cheap. I couldn’t think of anything else to think about.

Meditation, once you’re good at it, is supposed to be like what I did. Just having an empty mind. I’d tried to do that a few times before and never could do it. But after I thought about the rope I couldn’t think of anything else so I just lay there and existed without thinking or feeling anything. If anything, I was waiting for something to happen.

I waited for something to happen for about an hour and nothing happened so I got up. I sat on the edge of my bed and realized that I did not want to die and did not want to give up being a poet and that it was either me or somebody else. I was going to have to kill somebody. I decided there were people in this world less worthy to live than me.

I decided that since it was an either/or situation, killing one person, one fucked up, horrible, rotten person, would not be an immoral act. It would be self defense.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Maureen Dowd Anally Probes, Angers Cow

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has angrily denied claims she anally probed thousands of cows over the last few years. Said Dowd:

“Not only have I not done that, I haven’t even been involved with the Times’ investigation of Mad Cow Disease and the Bush administration's cover-up of the disease to help the beef lobby.”

But when this reporter gave Dowd a transcript of her own words from a question and answer session after a speech she gave at last month’s Benefit for Urine as Artist at MOMA, Dowd could only stutter. The transcript is below:

the way these investigations, go... We look for guilt, we seek cover-ups. So who benefits, and we ask where the money goes. Take, uh, mad cow, for example. It might seem like a small story, and yeah we’re going anal, but what if something small is repeated thousands of times? We probe them. And we do it thousands of times. And yeah, they get angry, they get furious. But that’s what they do. More important, that’s what I do.

Dowd did not deny making the statement.

(this post was inspired by Michelle Malkins Dowdification of Dowd, here.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Army Retention Numbers Are the Real Story

Army Retention Numbers Are the Real Story

By Harkonnendog

Earlier today the The Blogfather linked to a Ralph Peters piece implying the Army would meet its yearly recruitment goals:

Locked in a difficult war, the U.S. Army is exceeding its re-enlistment and first-time enlistment goals. Has anybody mentioned that to you?

Remember last spring, when the Army’s recruitment efforts fell short for a few months? The media’s glee would have made you confuse the New York Times and Air America.

When the Army attempted to explain that enlistments are cyclical and numbers dip at certain times of the year, the media ignored it. All that mattered was the wonderful news that the Army couldn’t find enough soldiers. We were warned, in oh-so-solemn tones, that our military was headed for a train wreck.

Now, as the fiscal year nears an end, the Army’s numbers look great.

But even The Blogfather makes mistakes, and he backtracked later, linking the UPC’s very own Fester, (congratulations!) later on, who showed:

The math and statements just do not add up here.

and provided some possible reasons for the errors. Fester was right. (Of course. UPC! UPC!) This article from the American Forces Press Service includes the following paragraphs:

across-the-board recruiting successes in June and July may not be enough to make up for springtime slumps when the services, particularly the Army, tally up their year-end recruiting numbers. “Success for the year is still going to be a challenge,” he said.

In fact it is just about impossible for them to meet those year-end goals. The successes of June and July are really noteworthy only for not adding to the year-end shortfalls. Having written that, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees when looking at these numbers. From the same source, we learn that retention is a completely different story:

Active-duty retention during July remained high, with all services meeting or exceeding their overall retention goals for the month, and expected to meet their goals for the fiscal year.

This is fantastic news, and should really be the lead of any story dealing with recruitment and/or retention. A trained veteran is much more effective than a new recruit. The MSM loves to compare Iraq to Vietnam- one wonders what the retenion rates in Vietnam were. This essay:

By Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr.
North American Newspaper Alliance
Armed Forces Journal, 7 June, 1971

gives an idea of the morale and retention rates in Vietnam:

If 45% of his sailors shipped over after their first enlistment, Admiral Zumwalt would be all smiles. With only 13% doing so, he is growing sideburns to enhance the Navy’s appeal to youth.

Among the Army’s volunteer (non-draftee) soldiers on their first hitch, the figures are much the same: less than 14% re-up.

The Air Force is slightly, but not much, better off: 16% of its first-termers stay on.

For all services, the combined retention rate this past year is about half what it was in 1966, and the lowest since the bad times of similar low morale and national disenchantment after Korea.

That’s a bit of a strawman argument, obviously, but those against the Iraq war compare it to Vietnam, so it seems appropriate. It is especially appropriate when you consider this, again from the American Forces Information Service:

A continuing problem confronting recruiters is that adults who influence young people’s decision to join the military - parents, teachers, coaches and others - are 9 to 10 percent less likely than in the past to recommend military service. As a result, Carr said, recruitment efforts are increasingly addressing not just potential recruits, but also their influencers, many whose only exposure to the military is based on what they see on television or in the movies.

(emphasis mine)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Best Post of the Day Ever???

Maybe. Wretchard is at it again. He and I think similarly, which is a great compliment to me. But we think unequally. My brain houses a bunch of grapes in a barrel, and, with a great act of will, I can occasionally crush and press and ferment and make a decent table wine of them.

Wretchard effortlessly takes the same grapes and make Cognac. On a daily basis.


Anywhere, click here to read his post. As usual, I have nothing to add. He says it all, all the anxiety I felt but did not express about this particular issue. Plus he adds a historical parallel that matches just about pefectly. (sob) He makes me feel like a fuggin' slob. I'm Glibert Grape's younger brother and Wretchard's the Baron's mentat. Bastard!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Saddam Hussein's support of terrorists

is proven beyond reasonable doubt, beyond ALL DOUBT, right here at this link. Click!. The connection to Al Queda specifically is also very strong. Of course most liberals will never click on the link, since they wish to believe Saddam never supported terrorism.

This is one of those cases which illustrate that modern liberalism is more akin to a religious faith than a political ideology.

Sceptic to a Christian: What are all those dinosaur bones if you don't believe in evolution?
Dumb Christian: Uh... Der... God put them there to test my faith.

Sceptic to a dumb liberal: What about all this evidence linking Saddam and terrorists?
Dumb liberal: Uh, Der... that's all manufactured by the neocon conspiracy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cindy Sheehan is good for Bush, and good for the war effort.

If you support the war in Iraq Cindy Sheehan is your unwitting ally.

This post at Politics from Left to Right sums up the left’s perception of Sheehan. Two excerpts:

Sheehan is an impassioned defender of her point of view. She has lost a son and while a lot of others don’t think that gives her moral authority of any sort, it does. It’s foolish to argue otherwise. Cindy Sheehan is not behaving logically. She is protesting. And she has a right to do so.

Cindy Sheehan is now a Lefty Cause Celeb and the spectacle that’s being created around her detracts from her message, just as the religious fervor surrounding Schiavo detracted from that cause. Sheehan has a more powerful message, too. It’s not cluttered up by worries about how you life may end or whether your family will honor your final wishes. It’s the heart rendering sound of a mother grieving. And if she can continue to deliver it in her clear sad voice, that message — why did my son die? — could resonate a lot further than her new-found supporters might think.

That’s the perception of the anti-war left, (also called the left nowadays), but the right thinks of Cindy Sheehan differently. We think of her own words.

We think of this:

Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation and this world were betrayed by George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agendas after 9/11.

And this:

And the other thing I want him to tell me is ‘just what was the noble cause Casey died for?’ Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We’re not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism,” she exclaimed.

In short, Sheehan blames The Jews and the Oil Interests for the war in Iraq and wants to end terrorism by rewarding terrorists. (It wouldn’t work, for the record. Islamic terrorists don’t want the US out of Muslim lands- they want the US to become a Muslim land. They don’t want Israelis out of Palestine, they want all The Jews out of Israel.) According to some, the fact that her son died means Sheehan is right. Or, at minimum, she has unimpeachable moral authority.

But the right is familiar with, and has long rejected this tactic. This is the same argument that says men can’t be against abortion because we can’t get pregnant. “You can’t walk in my over-stuffed shoes so you can’t judge! My body is mine!” It says whites can’t be against affirmative action because they aren’t black. “You never wore the shackles of slavery so you can’t know how it feels! So shut it!” It says noboby can be against raising medicare benefits unless they are on medicare. “Grandma eats dogfood because she can’t pay for her pills and human food! You don’t know how bad it is ‘cause you aren’t old you greedy bastard! Silencio!!!” Et cetera. This is a strong tactic, and it worked for quite a while, but it doesn’t anymore. Even Sheehan’s powerful plea- “My son died and you don’t know how tragic that is so you don’t know war!” doesn’t quite work. The right, having identified it as a new variation on an old theme, just rejects it out of hand.

But this only innoculates the right against Cindy Sheehan, which hardly makes her a friend of those who support the war in Iraq. (The right already supports the war anyway.) The question is the effect Cindy Sheehan has on moderates and the left.

The following excerpt is from Hardball via MSNBC:

MATTHEWS: All right. If your son had been killed in Afghanistan, would you have a different feeling?

SHEEHAN: I don’t think so, Chris, because I believe that Afghanistan is almost the same thing. We’re fighting terrorism. Or terrorists, we’re saying. But they’re not contained in a country. This is an ideology and not an enemy. And we know that Iraq, Iraq had no terrorism. They were no threat to the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: But Afghanistan was harboring, the Taliban was harboring al-Qaida which is the group that attacked us on 9/11.

SHEEHAN: Well then we should have gone after al-Qaida and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan.

This puts Sheehan squarely in Michael Moore’s corner. Moderates, and the moderate left, disagree with her on Afghanistan, and are divided on Israel, while the radical left applauds her all the more. Cindy Sheehan therefore consolidates the right while she divides the left. Worse yet, (assuming you are against the war in Iraq) she is THE symbol of war protest. You are drawn to her or driven away by her. Her views on Afghanistan and Israel mean more people will be driven away from her, and thus from protesting against the war in Iraq. She’s selling the Big Mac, and a lot of people might want that, but to get her Big Mac you have to buy escargot fries (thinks Afghanistan is the same as Iraq) and a nice warm cup of whale shit (blame the Jews, er, neocons, and Israel for terrorism).

Most people will pass, even if they think a Big Mac is pretty tasty.

Holy crap Wretcard is on a roll...

Click here and just keep reading and reading and reading. This guy should be writing Op-Ed's for the NYTimes etc. Well, maybe he's too good for that. The Ney York Times should be begging him to write Op-Ed's for them. Put it that way.

Friday, August 12, 2005


The Jamie Gorelick, 911 Commission, Mohammed Atta scandal. If you don’t know the story you should, and everybody soon will. It is complicated and involved, so here is a simplifying chronological timeline of events cut and pasted from across the vast reaches of the universe, er, internet:

Jamie Gorelick worked in the Justice Department during Clinton’s presidency. During that time she created and reinforced a policy creating a wall between the CIA and FBI regarding anti-terrorist intelligence. Or, as Wikipedia puts it:

…in 1995, she (Gorelick) was the number two person at the Justice Department. Gorelick essentially decreed that, because terrorism was to be tried as any other crime, and information between organizations cannot be disseminated during investigations, a “wall” was set up…

(The following 3 bullet-ins are from this article at National Review Online. I’m quoting because I can’t say it any better..)

* In 1999, the Pentagon established an intelligence unit called Able Danger, assigned to seek out and identify al-Qaeda cells and members for U.S. Special Operations Command. This group reportedly used data mining from open sources.

* Approximately August or September 2000, Able Danger identified an al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn. An intelligence official and Rep. Curt Weldon claim that the AD unit identified Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, and included a photo of Atta. (Weldon claims that he has spoken to four persons involved with the program.) At least two of those men were pilots on the hijacked flights.

* Able Danger analysts recommended the information be passed on to the FBI so that the cell could be rounded up. Accounts in Government Security News, the New York Times, and the Associated Press indicate that Pentagon lawyers decided that anyone holding a green card (as it was believed the cell members did) had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. Thus, the information Able Danger had gathered could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded. This is in keeping with “the wall” philosophy and policy established in 1995 by Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, in which intelligence and law enforcement were directed to go beyond what the law requires to keep intelligence-gathering and criminal law enforcement separated.

September 11, 2001-
No need to explain the importance of this date, obviously.

LATE 2002

In late 2002, then Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle appointed Gorelick to serve as a commissioner on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The commission’s job was to figure out why US intelligence agencies didn’t know about and prevent 911.

October, 2003
A group briefed at least 4 members of the 911 commission staff, including its director Phillip Zelikow, about Able Danger when they visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in October 2003. The group giving the briefing EXPLICITLY mentioned Mr. Atta as a member of an Al Qaeda cell in the United States. (A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenber, will later deny Atta was mentioned at this briefing, but one of the intelligence agents at the briefing specifically remembers mentioning Atta by name, and Felzenber will later be proven a liar. Just keep reading.) Source- New York Times article.

July 12, 2004
A member of the US military urges the commission to include the fact that the military knew of Atta’s cell, wanted it rolled up, but was blocked by Gorelick’s wall, 10 days before the commission publishes its report. (Al Felzenberg, will try to deny this meeting happened, but will be caught in the lie, and admit it did happen later. Sourced below, just keep reading.)

July 22, 2004
Via Wikipedia, again:

The Commission’s final report was a very lengthy book, based on extensive interviews and testimony, but its primary conclusion was that the failures of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation permitted the terrorist attacks to occur and that had these agencies acted more wisely and more aggressively, the attacks could potentially have been prevented.

The commision DID NOT MENTION that Able Danger wanted the FBI to round up Atta’s terrorist cell BEFORE 911, nor that Gorelick’s “wall” was a big part of the reason it didn’t happen.

August 9th, 2005
The New York Times breaks the story:

In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military’s Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

The recommendation was rejected and the information was not shared, they said, apparently at least in part because Mr. Atta, and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas. Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Mr. Weldon and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

Here’s where things get juicier. We’ve already got Gorelick, who should never have been on the commission in the first place, on the commission. We’ve already got evidence that Gorelick was a principle reason for the failure of intelligence agencies to stop 911- and the fact that that was NOT INCLUDED in the commission’s report. But we’ve also got this, from the same article:

A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow, the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Mr. Felzenberg said the briefers did not mention Mr. Atta’s name.

This screams coverup, right? Plausible deniablility, anyone? Anyone? Bueller? But it gets worse for Mr. Felzenber.

August 11, 2005
Again from the New York Times

The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission’s staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

In short, the commission knew. They knew Atta had been identified. They knew the military tried to pass the information to the FBI so the FBI could take out Atta’s cell, a YEAR BEFORE 911. Rather than investigate, they chose to bury the information. When asked about it, they lied to try to cover their lie of omission. This commission was a complete failure. We need a new 911 commission, and we need a commission to investigate the original commission.

Believe it or not the above truly is the short version. The LONG, EXCELLENT version is here at Captain’s Quarters. When you get to where that link takes you you’ll find a series of links. They are in chronological order, starting at the top post and ending at the bottom. It is kind of cool because you get to read that story as it was written, as it broke. The above is really just a summary of that set of links.

(Written, by the way, without permission of the Captain. I'll email him to inform him. Not sure of the blogger ethics involved in this situation.)

Michael Yon on the radio! Whoaaa- ohhhhhh On the radio!

The following is cut and pasted from Pundit Review. Click here to visit the site.

Michael Yon's reporting is THE most compelling coming out of Iraq and it is our honor to bring his fresh insight and analysis to WRKO.

People here in the US are woefully ignorant of the situation in Iraq and Michael will bring it to us, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are not looking for Pollyanna BS saying everything is great. We just want perspective in our coverage. Nobody provides that like Michael Yon.

Michael will be on live from Mosul, Iraq this Sunday evening at 9pm EST. You can stream the show live at WRKO and you can call us toll-free with questions at 877-469-4322.

Check our post on Michael titled Revaluing The Yon

About Pundit Review Radio

Pundit Review Radio is where the old media meets the new. Each week we highlight the work of the most influencial bloggers and citizen journalists on Boston's talk leader, WRKO. Recent guests have included Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, Don Luskin of PoorandStupid, James Taranto, Hugh Hewitt, Scott Johnson from Powerline, LaShawn Barber, Patterico, Blackfive and Matt Margolis from Blogs for Bush. Let your readers know about our show and check us out!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Quickie Ebert idiocy-

This is from Ebert's review of Broken Flowers:

Third woman, Carmen (Jessica Lange), protected by her ambiguous assistant (Chloe Sevigny). Carmen is an "animal communicator," who talks to people's pets on their behalf. The movie doesn't take cheap shots at this occupation, but suggests Carmen may be the real thing. "Is he saying something?" Don asks, as Carmen converses with her cat. Carmen: "He says you have a hidden agenda."

The movie doesn't take cheap shots at this occupation...

Occupation? HAHAHA. Good think Ebert is out there, holding the line on defending the poor, ernest animal communicators. After all, that lady charging money to read the mind of your gerbil may be "the real thing."

Why do I read Ebert? Is it, at this point, just a kind of masochistic guilty pleasure? No. He still has moments of truth. From the same review:

No actor is better than Bill Murray as doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while not doing it.

To be more precise, no actor is better than Bill Murray as apathetic, and creating empathy in the audience while being apathetic. But kudos to Ebert for having something approaching a clue.

Kevin Spacey did apathy wonderfully as Lester Burnham in American Beauty, but I think Murray does it better. The Apathetic Protagonist is not exactly an unusual character, though. Jack Nicholson did pretty well in About Schmidt. The good thing about the Apathetic Protagoninst is he's at bottom when we meet him, so his stories (they're always guys, it seems) always start depressing and end up kind of uplifting.

Two posts of the day about Iraq.

The first is by Michael Yon. An excerpt:

Every day, the Deuce Four launches dozens of combat missions in Mosul. Recently, a patrol was heading downtown, and its tasks included meeting with Iraqi police. I asked to go along. The Battalion Commander led the patrol, which also included two Strykers led by LT Sean Keneally from Charlie Company.

As the ramp on our Stryker began to close, I inserted earplugs, pulled a fire-retardant hood over my head, put on my helmet and buckled the chin strap, then pulled the ballistic goggles over my eyes.

Flash burns from bombs are deadly. I’ve seen it many times: anything exposed is fried in an instant. Skin and flesh just peel off. The super-hot flashes also melt contact lenses to eyeballs before people can blink. Years ago, when I was a jumpmaster, I remember sticking my face outside the aircraft to check surroundings, and my eyelids slapped and flopped in the torrent. That was only about hurricane force winds. The blast in an explosion opens the eyelids, fusing the melted contacts to the eyeballs. Smart soldiers don’t wear contacts in combat, but others often do.

As the excerpt shows, Michael Yon is in the thick of things in Iraq. His blog posts, unlike the majority of MSM articles about Iraq, are not second or third hand reports inspired by insurgent-paid material shown on Al Jazeera. Yon’s posts are a good way to get an idea of the nature of warfare in Iraq, from an American perspective. Click here to go to his site, Michael Yon: Online Magazine.

Keep in mind that Yon is there entirely on his own dime. He has a whole series of posts on the fighting in Mosul, and if, like me, you read and dig them all, and learn quite a lot, you might toss him some loot via the PayPal button. (I gave him $50.00 bucks. Who will top me???)

The second post of the day is by Eric at Classical Values. Also about Iraq, it deals with the Iraq/Iran war, its genesis and its lessons. I won’t excerpt from it, as I’m hoping Eric will agree to post the whole thing here at the UPC. But it is an excellent read.

Like Yon’s post, it talks about something the MSM cannot or will not talk about. With all the talking heads and paid consultants and professional writers and editors and contributors and XXXers the MSM remains pretty much useless when it comes to Iraq. It is almost like MSMers have agreed to only discuss what other MSMers discuss- to AVOID rather than ATTEMPT to present different ideas or perspecitves.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Britain's Civil War?

There’s been talk about a civil war in Iraq. A sort of hot and cold civil war, fought through assassination and intimidation. The new lefty meme of the moment is that Bush wants to pull the troops out TOO SOON, leaving the Iraqis in a lurch. The Shi’ites will try to transform Iraq into New Iran, the Kurds will try to turn it into Kurdistan, and those poor Sunnis, (who really weren’t that bad, I mean women had rights under Saddam!) will be stuck in the middle. Ridiculous anti-Bush memes aside, Iraq has NEEDED a civil war for decades. Sunnis have been assassinating, torturing, and starving to death non-Sunni Iraqis for quite a while.

Iraq now has a chance not to be ruled by a sociopath strongman backed by a dominant minority. If the Shi’ites would rather fight a civil war than go back to the days of Saddam I can hardly blame them. If the Sunnis would rather fight than bow to an Ayatollah kudos to them. If the Kurds would rather create a fortress Kurdistan than be ruled by an Ayatollah or Hussein or Insane by another name I congratulate them.

Of course Bush has offered another way. It is up to peace loving Iraqis to stop the cycle of violence- to realize a civil war in Iraq can’t be won except by not fighting, most likely, since it is the kind of fire that grows on flame- the hotter it gets the more it grows. Democracy is there, if the non-asshole Iraqis can control the asshole Iraqis long enough to establish it.

Britain, on the other hand, may HAVE to fight such a civil war.

The Independent warns that

Intelligence chiefs are warning Tony Blair that Britain faces a full-blown Islamist insurgency, sustained by thousands of young Muslim men with military training now resident in this country.

The grim possibility that the two London attacks were not simply a sporadic terror campaign is being discussed at the highest levels in Whitehall. Fears of a third strike remain high this weekend, based on concrete evidence supplied by an intercepted text message and the interrogation of a terror suspect being held outside Britain, say US reports.

As police and the security services work to prevent another cell murdering civilians, attention is focusing on the pool of migrants to this country from the Horn of Africa and central Asia. MI5 is working to an estimate that more than 10,000 young men from these regions have had at least basic training in light weapons and military explosives.

Even though the vast majority had come to Britain to escape the lawlessness of their homelands, the source added, there remained an alarmingly large pool of trained men who could be lured into violent action here.

What would, what could lure them? Click here to read a Sunday Times article that shows EXACTLY what type of group lures “at-risk” Muslims into becoming terrorists.
An excerpt:

A Sunday Times reporter spent two months as a recruit inside the Saviour Sect to reveal for the first time how the extremist group promotes hatred of “non-believers” and encourages its followers to commit acts of violence including suicide bombings.

The reporter witnessed one of the sect’s leading figures, Sheikh Omar Brooks, telling a young audience, including children, that it was the duty of Muslims to be terrorists and boasting, just days before the July 7 attacks, that he wanted to die as a suicide bomber.

After the attacks that claimed 52 lives, another key figure, Zachariah, justified them by saying that the victims were not “innocent” people because they did not abide by strict Islamic laws.

Scary stuff.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Oakland Raider DVD reviews: One Plunkett, one Marinovich.

Oakland Raider football fans suffer in August. The new season is so tantalizingly close, the last so terribly distant. At work we use our offices’ high speed connections to visit Raidernews.com five to ten times a day, hoping for yet another glimpse of some un-drafted free agent running a drill. (Is that CWood’s elbow on the bottom left corner of that pic?!? Could it be?!? Should I email all my friends and ask?) At home we watch our Raider game DVD-Rs, which we converted from our old tapes, which we bought from some dude on the net 5 years ago because we wore out our even older tapes seven years ago, to revisit old games. Last week I watched all three Super Bowl victories, reveling in Tatum’s behelmeting, King’s 80 yard touchdown catch, and Squirek’s interception.

Imagine my joy, then, at discovering Netflix had, (wait for it) 2 Raider highlight reels I’d never seen!!! YES!!!

They are:

NFL: History of the Oakland Raiders (2 Disc Series) and NFL Team Highlights: The Story of the 2002 Oakland Raiders

NFL Team Highlights: The Story of the 2002 Oakland Raiders is Todd Marinovich. It is Jay Schroeder. It is Marc Wilson. I was more than disappointed, I was infuriated. I can only imagine Al Michaels was asked to write the narration and choose the highlights- only someone as incompetent and Raider-hating could have produced this foul mediocrity. I’ve already wasted more electrons writing this meager paragraph than the damn thing deserves. (I know you’ll still order and watch it and I don’t blame you, by the way. I would.)

NFL: History of the Oakland Raiders (2 Disc Series), on the other hand, is Stabler, Plunkett, and Gannon, all rolled into one. I cannot recommend it enough. A complete breakdown of both discs follows.

Disc 1 has 10 Chapters.


If you’re a 2nd or 3rd generation Raider fan like me you might have heard Grandpa talk about watching the Raiders play HOME games at Candlestick Park, or reminisce about Yuell field. Chapter one describes those early, pre-Davis days. Funny and very interesting. Did you know the Raiders exist today because the then-owner of the Bills provided $400,000 dollars which kept the Raiders, and the AFL, solvent?


Talks about the early core of players, from Otto to Flores to Clem Daniels, and about the hiring of 33 year old Al Davis. Talks about Davis’s philosophy and inspiration. Davis was a huge fan of the Yankees, “who personified… power, the home run, and intimidation and fear.” Also he liked the Dodgers, who “represented speed, and the ability to take chances, and pioneer, in professional sports.” I had no idea that Davis crafted his image of a great organization by taking the best of two baseball organizations.

Also Davis gives a great explanation of the vertical game, and the targeting of “misfit” players is discussed. Davis’ defensive theory holds 1. with pressure 2. diversification of defense and 3. utilization of bump and run corners- all to disrupt the flow of the offense.


Davis took a leave of absence from the Raiders in order to merge the NFL and AFL. New head coach John Rauch brought in new players, including Upshaw, Willie Brown, and Darryl Lamonica, and The Mad Bomber. Biletnikoff, it turns out, was a deep threat in the mid-60’s. I had no idea. 4 seasons after being the worst team in football, the Raiders would face the Packers in Super Bowl 2.

The next season’s Heidi game is discussed. I’d heard of that of course, but what I didn’t know was that, in the AFC championship game that same year, the Raiders were down by 4, and on the New York 12 yard line with just 2 minutes left, when Lamonica lost his grip during a pass attempt, resulting in a backwards pass; a fumble that was picked up by the Jets and led to them winning. Namath would guarantee victory in the Super Bowl, and win, becoming a legend. But hell, we should have been there.

Next year 33 year-old John Madden took over, and Raider fans enjoyed the season of George Blanda. His 5 straight clutch-performance games made him a legend.

(On a personal note, this is the year my mom cajoled box seats from the secretary at Raider HQ. The family legend goes like so… Blanda kept making these incredible plays and the Raiders kept securing come from behind wins, and my Mom, 5’3”, never saw any of it. Everybody in the bleachers section would stand up and, though she stood on her seat, she STILL missed all the good stuff. In a fit of pique she went to Raider HQ and demanded better seats on a Monday. Better seats weren’t available. She rather vocally refused to take no for an answer. A voice from the inner office (could it have been Al Davis himself?) asked the secretary what the ruckus was about. When the secretary told him the voice said “Give her what she wants and get her the hell out of here.”

“Okay,” said the secretary, taking out a stadium seating map “where do you want to sit?”

“I want to sit there,” my mom said, pointing to a box next to the broadcasting box, “and I need four seats.”

“You can’t have- wait a moment please.” The receptionist went into the office and returned. “He says you can have four seats. The total is XXX.”

“I can’t afford that!”

“Ma’am, that’s the price.”

“That’s crazy! I want to watch the game but I can’t sell my house!”


And that’s how my parents got box seats at regular seat prices, seats they would have until the Raiders left after 1980. The last game of that season my parents and the other fans in that box unfurled a huge banner from the box which read, for all the stadium to enjoy:


and barricaded the door so that stadium security could not remove it. The banner remained until the Oakland police arrived and demanded the door be opened. End of family legend. Sorry ‘bout that.)

2 years later came the Immaculate Reception… Can I just say, for all of us- BULLSHIT! (I’d always thought the Steelers won the Super Bowl that year, but they did not. They would lose to Miami.)

Next year came the Sea of Hands game against Miami. Can I just say, for all of us, AWESOME!


Talks about the great 1970’s Raider teams, and the multiple AFC championship games the Raiders ALMOST won, starting in 1974 with the game after the Sea of Hands game, which we lost to the Steelers. (The Raiders didn’t take the Steelers seriously enough after beating the two time Super Bowl champion Dolphins.)


Then came the frozen field in Pittsburgh, which neutralized Cliffy Branch’s speed in 1975. And finally, shows how the Raiders beat Cincinatti to make sure they would play Pittsburgh in the playoffs again in 1976. They destroyed Pittsburgh 24-7 that year. In fact they beat them so thoroughly Chuck Knoll would take them to court in San Francisco. HA!!!

I didn’t know the ’76 Super Bowl ring had 24-7 on the side of it. It does. That’s how powerful the rivalry between the Raiders and the Steelers was.


The Raiders again made it to the AFC Championship game in 1977, this time by beating the Colts in the famous Ghost to the Post game. But only to get screwed by the refs, who refused to acknowledge that the Broncos fumbled on the Raider goal line. The fumble would have been returned 99 yards for a Raider touchdown. It is fun watching Al Davis talk about this game- he’s STILL pissed- he grits his teeth, he wants to smack somebody- and as he says regarding the non-fumble- “We’d a won that game- we’d a gone to the Super Bowl.” (Again, I had no idea this ever happened. I was six at the time, and my family never mentioned it. Odd. Maybe they blacked it out.)

Next comes the Holy Roller game against San Diego (hahahahhaa!).

Then Plunkett’s resurgence and the Cinderella 1980 season are shown. (This is where my football memories begin, with Lester Hayes sacking Stabler in his Oiler uniform, and with Mike Davis’ interception in the end zone in Cleveland, and with that tipped pass run for a touchdown against San Diego.)

All culminating in a 2nd Super Bowl victory.

Then comes the season culminating in a Super Bowl victory against the Redskins. Jim Plunkett says that that 1984 was the strongest Raider team he’d been a part of, btw. Interesting.


This chapter begins with Tiger Woods talking about how he is a big Raider fan. Er- whatever. There is some talk about Raider greats of the that era, including Howie Long, Marcus Allen, Mike Haynes, and Bo Jackson.


Talks about Art Shell becoming the head coach, and the brief resurgence of the Raiders while he was coach. He won coach of the year, and led us to win the AFC West with a 12-4 season in 1990, and to victory against the Bengals in the first playoff game. (let’s not talk about Buffalo). Discusses the 1988 come from behind win on Monday night football against the Broncos. We were down 24-0, but managed to force the game into overtime and then win. Shows how, in 1992, the Raiders overcame a 17 point deficit to beat the Broncos in overtime in a game the Raiders needed to win to make the playoffs. They played and beat the Broncos again the following week! (again, let’s not talk about Buffalo.) Two things you have to say for Art Shell- we won a lot when he was the coach, and we simply pwn3d the Donks.


This chapter skips over the post-Shell mid-90’s era to talk about the Gruden era- 3 AFC West championships- the Tuck game. Talks about Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Another Super Bowl attained.


Claims the Super Bowl loss is a minor blemish on a beautiful legacy, and, after watching the first nine chapters, I have to agree. Talks about today’s Raider Nation and the Black Hole denizens. Discusses Raiders in the Hall of Fame.

Now you might think that’s all. (Geeze this review is long, I almost wish it WERE all.) But that’s NOT all.

The special features section features 5-10 minute documentaries on:

John Madden

George Blanda’s miracle season

Lyle Alzado

Holy Roller

The Immaculate Reception

Sea of Hands

The Heidi Game

The Raiderettes

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll post about disc 2 of this series tomorrow. It is also the goods.


Comments are greatly appreciated, even criticism, so don't be shy. For more Harkonnendog Raider articles visit:

5. 8 Oakland Raider Predictions for 2005 6/28/2005

4. Plunkett: Best Raider QB Ever? 5/19/2005

3. And yes MORE incompetent Raider reporting! 3/17/2005

2. More incompetence from the Bay Area media 3/4/2005

1. Monte Poole and Tim Kawakami = Sad but Funny 2/24/2005

(This is generally a political blog, with occasional short stories and such. If you're conservative this is for you. If you're a lefty, or a right for that matter, you might want to take a look at the UPC, which is a group blog made up of equal parts right and left-biased pundits which I'm proud to be part of.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Clown Excerpt 3: Lunch, Spermazoa, and When It's Okay to Buy a Gun

Chapter 3. Lunch.

Seattle is hilly like San Francisco. 3rd Avenue is probably 100 feet higher than 2nd Avenue. I always go into the building in the morning from the 3rd Avenue side, the East side, because my bus lets out over there. For lunch I usually go out on the West, 2nd Ave. side. To get out on that side you end up going down these escalators that are in a tube that protects you from the rain. I never go up them because the tube reminds me of a urethra.
If you look at the building from the side the tube slopes down at the same angle of a urethra inside a penis that is hanging over a pair of testicles. The first time I saw it I remembered a plastic gonad and penis display I saw in 8th grade, and I can’t shake the association. Well, I guess I could get serious and shake it if I wanted to, but I don’t. Life is already boring enough.
I don’t mind getting shot out of the urethra like a spermazoa, or laughing at all the people who don’t know they’re spermazoa along with me. But I refuse to go back up that way. It would feel disgusting. I might actually feel so gross that halfway up I’d have to jump over the middle divider to get back down. Or worse, I might feel bad enough to do that but be too afraid of being embarrassed. Which would mean I would stay in the tube and go up into the scrotal area. Disgusting. Forget that.
After I was cum into the street I walked west over to 1st Ave. and a good Pho shop. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, in case you’re in a place where they don’t have it. It is very good. The dude there knows me and he doesn’t even ask me what I want any more. He kind of reminds me of the pimp/hustler from Miss Saigon, except he isn’t like that guy at all. He just reminds me of him because I want somebody to remind me of him.
After lunch I checked out this ridiculously cool store where people buy and sell and trade guns. They also have many knives. They know me there, too. They think I’m a weirdo because I always check out the guns but never buy any. I buy a knife every once in a while, expensive ones, so they’ll keep letting me in. I don’t think they would sell me a gun if I tried to buy one.
I’m not going to buy one, though. I know I’m not ready for one. My test is this:
I bring a girl home from a bar, and we get it on. Afterward her husband starts banging on my apartment door. I peek through the hole. He’s huge. He’s one of these inhumanly thick, solid steroid freaks, in the middle of a cycle. He’s going through ‘roid rage’ and I just had his woman and he’s going to beat the hell out of me. Do I pull the gun?
You can play too. Do you pull it? Don’t cheat. No calling the cops or hopping out a window. You don’t know what my apartment looks like yet, but you couldn’t hop out of a window anyway. Do you take out the gun?
I do. I know I would. If I pull it he runs or I kill him or he kills me with it. So somebody might end up dead. If I leave it in the gun safe, or wherever, I probably get beat up but I won’t freaking die. But I wouldn’t leave it in the safe.
Now you might say I have a right to pull it. But he loves this woman. His life is all about creating and having a life with her. Maybe she didn’t tell me she was married, so maybe it isn’t my fault. But take it from the other guy’s perspective. If I was him I’d want to hurt me too.
And if I was him would I want to be killed, would I deserve to be killed, for that honest impulse? Hell no. So no gun for me. I’m too much of a coward.

Monday, August 01, 2005

2 Views on Islam

The first is written by Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens. Here’s an excerpt:

Yes, some have claimed that there are verses in the Qur’an which endorse violence and fanaticism. But all that proves is that, when you quote out of context to further your own particular brand of extremism, you can choose any book on the shelf. Islam is not alone.

The message I picked up from the Qur’an was quite different. I found the light of knowledge and godliness shining from the verses and stories, linking mankind together as one family, regardless of color, status or nationality. It told me of the wondrous universal teachings of peace and unity advocated by the greatest of educators, people such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others.

Islam’s article is entitled “The Problem Is Not Too Much Islam but Too Little.” It claims Muslim terrorists are terrorists because they don’t know enough about Islam. They see through a glass darkly, as it were, because Britain doesn’t give enough money to Muslims to teach them to know Islam the way Yusuf Islam knows it.

This is an argument from authority, obviously. Yusuf Islam says he knows the true Islam, and we should therefore trust him when he claims that teaching more Islam will result in less Islamic terrorism. This, of course, is the same Yusuf Islam who said he wanted Salmon Rushdie burned alive, and that if he knew where Rushdie was he would try to contact people in order to have Rushdie killed. Don’t believe me? Here’s the releveant excerpt from the relevant Wikipedia article:

The singer has made controversial statements in the past including supporting the censorship of writer Salman Rushdie. He also seemed to endorse the fatwa against the author suggesting that Rushdie should die for his writings. Yusuf Islam said in a British television program that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing.

The singer, who adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam, made the remark during a panel discussion of British reactions to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his best-selling novel The Satanic Verses. He also said that if Mr. Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.

I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is, said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.

Okay then.

The 2nd view was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalia-born Dutch MP. Read her fascinating biography here. According to Ali:

The terrorists, and the Shari’a-based societies to which they aspire, have an entirely different philosophy. Humans are born to serve Allah through a series of obligations that are prescribed in an ancient body of writings. These edicts vary from rituals of birth and funeral rites to the most intimate details of human life; they descend to the point of absurdity in matters such as how to blow your nose, and with what foot to step into a toilet. Muslims, according to this philosophy, must kill those among them who leave the faith, and are required to be hostile to people of other religions and ways of life. This hostility requires them to murder innocent people and makes no distinction between civilians and the military. In Shari’a societies, women are made subordinate to men. They must be confined to their houses, beaten if found disobedient, forced into marriage and hidden behind the veil. The hands of thieves are cut off and capital punishment is performed in crowded public squares in front of cheering crowds. The terrorists seek to impose this way of life not only on Islamic countries, but, as Blair said, on western societies too.

At the core of this fundamental challenge to the west lies a pre-medieval figure to whom the London terrorists—along with all faithful Muslims in our modern world—look for guidance: Muhammad. All faithful Muslims believe that they must emulate this man, in principle and practical matters, under all circumstances. When trying to understand Islamic terrorism, most politicians and other commentators have avoided the core issue, which is Muhammad’s example. The west, before embarking on a battle of ideas, must attempt to understand this figure, and his presence in the daily lives and homes of faithful Muslims today.

It is apparent on reading the Koran and the traditional writings that Muhammad’s life not only provides rules for the daily lives of Muslims; it also demonstrates the means by which his values can be imposed. Muhammad himself constructed the House of Islam using military tactics that included mass killing, torture, targeted assassination, lying and the indiscriminate destruction of productive goods. This may be embarrassing to moderate Muslims, but the propaganda produced by modern terrorists constantly quotes Muhammad’s deeds and edicts to justify their actions and to call on other Muslims to support their cause.

The question is who is right? If Yusuf Islam is right then the UK should fund Islamist schools. What to do if Ali is right? Well, she says:

Muslims in Europe and across the world may be divided into roughly three groups. Firstly, there are the terrorists, who resort to violence (and their allies, the fundamentalists, who do not kill or maim, but provide terrorists with material and immaterial assistance). The second group, the reformers, are the polar opposite of the terrorists and may one day provide an intellectual counterweight to them. This group of people—although tiny, it is growing—may be characterised by its questioning of the relevance and moral soundness of Muhammad’s example. I, who was born and bred a Muslim, count myself among them. We in this group have embraced the open society as a true alternative to a society based on the laws of Muhammad—a better way to build a framework for human life.

The terrorists have far more power and resources than the reformers, but both groups vie to influence the thinking of the third group—the vast majority of Muslims. The reformers use only non-violent means to draw attention to debates over core values and the example of Muhammad. The terrorists and fundamentalists, however, use force, the threat of force, appeals to pity (“look at what the west is doing to Islam and Muslims”) and ad hominem smears. Their unwitting allies in the west defend so-called victims of Islamophobia; meanwhile, the reformers are shunned by their families and communities, and may even live under the fear of assassination. In short, the core of the debate is made taboo, and the fundamentalists attain a near-monopoly on the hearts and minds of the largest group of Muslims, the undecided.

Who are these “undecided” Muslims? They are the group to which Tony Blair refers when he says “The vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people.” They live in Edgware Road and Bradford, and in Amsterdam and Saint Denis; they are not fervent observers of every ritual of Islam but they count themselves as believers. They are immigrants and second-generation youths who have come to the west to enjoy the benefits of the open society, in which they have a vested interest. But they do not question the infallibility of Muhammad and the soundness of his moral example. They know that Muhammad calls for the slaughter of infidels; they know that the open society rightly condemns the slaughter of innocents. They are caught in a mental cramp of cognitive dissonance and it is up to the west to support the reformers in trying to ease them out of that painful contradiction. They must be engaged in a process of clear thinking on how to evaluate the moral guidance of the man whose compass they follow.

In short, Ali believes the West must, in effect, westernize Islam.

Can the West do this, and remain the West?

The 24th Story Blogging Carnival is up over at Back of the Envelope