Friday, March 28, 2003

Beware: Political rant

Where does Rumsfeld get off complaining that anything is a violation of the Geneva Convention?!!? And for "humiliating" by broadcasting images of the handful of support troops the Iraqis have captured? This is the man who has presided over the holding of suspected agents of Al Qaeda in cages at Guantanamo Bay. He has also played a large role in trying to force Iraqi diplomats from their posts across the globe. Even if the Iraqi broadcasts were meant as propaganda, I wonder what the only released photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (taken at about 3AM after being denied sleep, a shower, a shave, fitting clothes, etc for days under US guard) was supposed to be.

I despise anyone even partially connected to September 11 and who otherwise use terror against any population, but there is a point at which action against these people has gone too far. And George W. Bush et al have been gleefully pushing the US and its "coalition of the willing" way beyond that limit. How do you condemn and invade a country for breaking its international treaty obligations while you have done so time and time again (Kyoto, International Criminal Court, ABM, CTBT)? The US has even willfully torpedoed a protocol that would have called for inspections on all potential global bioweapons sites. We stand for free speech and access to information. With the Justice Department secretly gathering our library records? We stand for equal opportunity but force certain people to register and even hold many of them for days without charge. W wants to "leave no child behind," but leaves the US education system in ruins from headstart to Post-Graduate Education. Is this "compassionate conservatism?" Is this even sane?

I most emphatically do not support this war. But that does not mean I don't support all the American and "Allied" troops that have been deployed. Quite the opposite. Unlike Bush, I believe that our brave soldiers should not be needlessly put in a position _where people are shooting at them and trying to kill them_. There is a big distinction to be made between supporting the troops and whether you support what they are ordered to do. Realize that the US gave its tacit approval to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds in Northern Iraq by taking absolutely no substantive steps when the news broke. The US government even continued supplying arms to the Iraqi regime (as it had for years) after Halabja was gassed! Also realize that the only times that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons) was when he was facing direct attack from outside powers. He used them on Iranian soldiers during the Iran-Iraq war and on the Kurds after they openly supported Iranian incursions. This makes me a bit wary of putting American forces in the position of invading Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a brutal despot and deserves to be overthrown, but only with a realistic battle plan and when there is a detailed and workable plan for Iraq's future.

And don't even get me started on the position W and his cronies have taken on the United Nations. If a Congressman doesn't get his way on an appropriations bill, he would be laughed out of the House and public service if he threw an equivalent tantrum and called the whole system irrelevant.

And what are we going to do if we can actually kill Saddam and his two sons? Have things turn out like Afghanistan? Karzai was pretty much forced into power by the US and nobody within his government can go anywhere in Kabul without a full US Marine guard convoy. Even then, there have been several high-profile assasinations. Beyond Kabul, forget it. I also find it interesting that American media doesn't think to mention the attempted (and US encouraged) revolt staged by northern Kurds and southern Shia in post-Gulf War Iraq. The one which Saddam brutally put down and ignored by the US. We have a great track record, don't we?


End of rant.

Sorry for my tone, but are there any sane journalists or politicians out there anymore?
Ok-- I've just been looking through a book catalogue and been amazed at a couple of titles:

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fasting"

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Sexy"

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex"

Yes, these are real titles! But of course, the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series is a gimme. How about some more nuanced oddities?

"British English as a Foreign Language"

"Think Yourself Rich: Use the Power of Your Subconscious Mind to Find True Wealth" -- "Effective techniques to have all the money you need using miracle thought-forms and the psychic money machine. Also understand how the law of infinite increase multiplies your wealth and how to charge yourself with money-magnetism. 244 pages."

"Katy Keene Swimsuit Illustrated Paper Dolls" -- "Contains 39 unique costume designs for one of America's original pin-up queens. Gradeschoolers. Hobby House Press."

Again, these are all real titles! They are from a discount book catalogue, but someone had to 1. come up with the idea, 2. spend time writing/designing it and 3. pitch it to a publisher for sale.....

Curiouser and Curiouser!
Well, Indio doesn't seem to have changed, except for the further mushrooming of tract homes.

Examples: Just heard for the umpteenth time the ad for "Monster Truck Madness" coming to the county fairgrounds in a few days.

The stewardess reminded that "smoking or using smokeless tobacco" was forbidden for the duration of the flight from LAX to Palm Springs.

Most places with muzak feature a strange mixture of Country and R&B-- I'm not sure which is more twangy.

On the plus side, I can finally get large containers of yoghurt (as opposed to only individually wrapped) and businesses stay open beyond 4 and can sell alcohol until closing.

Other than that, it has only taken me about 2 days to remember how boring it is out here. You can only stare at a beautiful sunset for so long. The research I was planning to do has been frustrated by the incompetence of most people-- "you mean you destroyed all your records having to do with your connection with a former president? --Yep."

Eh-- it's been nice waking up at 11, though. But it's still a bit of a switch to get used to being around my parents again. I'll get to them when they're not roaming around the house and reading over (more like above) my shoulder.

Until then......

Wednesday, March 26, 2003


I guess my long and involved first post has landed somewhere among the lost socks and "eaten" homework.

Oh well. I just wanted to give you a brief idea of who I was before I started posting things and you got the false impression that I was a pretty normal, sane guy. I was born in Redmond, Washington in 1979 (really!) when it was possible to live on a farm 30 miles east of Seattle.

I moved to Indio, California (aka, the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert) when I was 6 and stayed there until I graduated from Palm Desert HS and went to Dartmouth College. Well, except for the time (about a year and a half all told) when I lived in the Czech Republic-- in both the far Northeast (Bystrice nad Olsi) and Prague. I focused on Geography, Politics, and the Slavic world while at Dartmouth and graduated with a dual degree in Government (IR and Comparative) and Geography in 2001.

Since then, I've been based in Washington, DC, doing various projects from educating Congressional staffers on issues of int'l security and law to looking into the historical implications of Dwight Eisenhower on the beginning of the Cold War. I'm in kind of blah employment situation now, though, so if y'all have an opening I might fit, let me know!

Anyway, this blog is probably going to be a lot of my random ramblings, strange things I come across (lots of them), and responses to all the stuff going on.

Beware: my life imitates art. Sometimes Jackson Pollack, sometimes cubism, and sometimes charcoal. Eh—“gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.”

I know it’s a mixed metaphor, but I can’t think of a better way to mirror my life.

But since I’m back in Indio for a couple of days, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to this kind of thing. So, until next time……