Saturday, August 26, 2006

Message in a Bottle

Guess who said this on September 11, 2001:

THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT: Hysterical overreaction against American muslims and Arab-Americans. At this point, of course, we don't know who did this, but suspicion naturally runs toward various Islamist fundamentalist groups.

. . .

Hysterical overreaction is a major danger of terrorism; yielding to it plays into the terrorists' hands. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the people who need to hear this message aren't reading [blank].

Click here for the surprising answer.

A Swift Solution to the Access Whore Problem

Any journalist who says something bad about the Bush administration takes a risk that the administration will retaliate against her by cutting her out of the loop. Because a journalist’s paycheck depends on staying in the loop, some journalists will uncritically repeat whatever the administration wants them to say, just so the administration will continue giving them more information, accurate or not. Journalists who do this are called “access whores.” This leads to some very shoddy journalism.

There is an easy solution to this problem. Instead of cowering in fear of the administration’s punishment, journalists should turn the tables. Journalists should punish the Bush administration for cutting them out of the loop. Whenever the administration fails to give journalists reliable information, journalists should retaliate by saturating the media with any crank anti-Bush story they can find. After a week of non-stop coverage in newspapers, magazines, and talking-heads shows of the Bush masturbating in a coffin story, Bush will beg to change the subject to anything else – for example, what is our actual plan in Iraq? or what are we doing to capture Osama bin Laden? – things we hear about today only in platitudes or not at all.

Some might say that reporting these crank theories is bad journalism, but is it really much worse than journalism that relies on the word of the Bush administration? Take a look at the reporting on the Miami terror plot. Journalists who trusted the administration wrote blaring headlines saying there is a group with serious plans to blow up the Sears Tower. These journalists all seem pretty silly now that we know this “serious” terrorist group was actually a group of grown men who liked to get together to pretend they were ninjas. Simply put, the biggest cranks of all are the official spokespersons for the government. That will change only when journalists stop playing right into their hands.


A lot of delusional thinking got the United States into the war in Iraq. It’s a good idea to go back and see where we went wrong so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. In that spirit, let’s explore one instance of delusional thinking by Glenn Reynolds. Here is what he said in March 2003:

This article says that Americans are likely to support the war more in response to casualties, as long as they think President Bush means to stick it out. That does seem to be what the polls are showing.

So Reynolds thinks Americans will support a war more in response to casualties “as long as they think President Bush means to stick it out,” but the article he cites says something very different. What the article actually says, as quoted by Reyonlds, is that Americans will support a war “as long as the casualties are incurred in pursuit of a mission they think is reasonable . . . [and] as long as the casualties don’t seem to be the result of carelessness or incompetence.”

If Reynolds could not see the difference in 2003, I hope real world events of the past three years help him see it now. Bush has made clear that he is willing to “stick it out.” He has said flatly that we will be in Iraq as long as he is president. Yet, contrary to Reynolds’ prediction, as more of our soldiers die, the public’s support for the war keeps falling. And support is falling for the reasons spelled out in the article Reynolds quoted but utterly failed to comprehend. After not finding any WMD’s, after finding no links to 9-11, after failing to install a liberal democracy, and after failing to install a stable, friendly regime of any kind, Americans don’t know what “the mission” is, much less do they think it is reasonable. On top of that, carelessness and incompetence are the hallmarks of the Bush administration.

Amazingly, an article that said Americans will support a war with a reasonable mission that is fought competently was twisted by Reynolds’ delusional thinking to mean that each time one of our troops dies, Americans will support the war more and more, as long as the president talks tough about sticking it out. This shows that people are susceptible to believing in NeoCon fantasies even when reality is staring them right in the face. Let’s try to keep this from happening again.

Update: Glenn Greenwald has more on Glenny Reynolds' delusional thinking.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why it would be so cool if Jon Stewart Were President

The smug and cynical Art E. Choke contends that Jon Stewart will never be president. I,on the other hand, have been calling for his candidacy long before any movie previews of this nature hit theatre screens. My reasons for supporting Jon Stewart are simple: I think he would be a very upfront president and refrain from the hollow sloganeering that defines our current political dialog. Let's take G.W. Bush as an example, whose obvious sound bytes are nightly called out for what they are on the Daily Show--a few simple phrases cleverly crafted by Carl Rove to numb the masses. And that brings up another thing. As a critical political outsider, Jon Stewart would not be a puppet of the neocons. He is capable of intelligent, independent thought. And so what if he has not posed any solutions on The Daily Show? Neither has anyone else in the political arena, and they don't even have The Daily Show to factor into their coolness quotients.

Mr. Choke also theorizes that Jon Stewart does not have a large enough following with his Daily Show audience. There are arguments for and against this. Jon Stewart's appearance as host of the Oscars was met enthusiastically from loyal fans, but baffled many who are unaccustomed to his sarcastic and sometimes blunt tone of humor. You could argue that America as a whole is not ready for Jon Stewart. But that Oscar appearane is evidence of Jon Stewart's growing popularity, which reaches beyond the base of loyal Daily Show sycophants. Few senators or governors gain this type of national exposure-- most enter the presidential primary race as obscure figures to the general public. Another fighting edge for my hero Jon Stewart.

Bottom line, I think Jon Stewart would help Washington DC step back and laugh at itself a little. And if politics are ever to become respectable to a disillusioned generation of voters, this is a necessary first step.

Jon Stewart for President

Last night, I saw a preview for a movie where a character modeled after Jon Stewart (played by Robin Williams) becomes president. Let me snuff this fantasy (I'm taling to you Queen Anne)right now. Jon Stewart will never be president.

It took Bush 62 million votes to be re-elected president. The next president will probably need more. Jon Stewart does not have that kind of fan base. No matter how much you love him, and how much all your friends love him, there is no way in hell that 62 million people have even seen his show.

More importantly, while Jon Stewart is great at making fun of our awful politicians, this does not mean he is himself a good politician. People will not vote for him. Cheer up, though, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart will be on for a long time to come.

Preacher Bob

Preacher Bob

When I first saw this guy, I thought he was going to kill me. It was 115 degrees, but he was dressed in all black. He had an intimidating mustache and beard and long hair. He was angrily screaming something indiscernible at the top of his lungs and lunging towards me. Obviously, he was a Raiders fan fulfilling his weekly crime quota.

As I got closer though, I realized he was preacher. Later, I learned he is a downtown Phoenix institution who preaches almost daily on the corner of Central and Adams. The reason he screams so loudly is that he is warning everybody that terrorist are going to attack Phoenix with a nuclear weapon (watch the video). He explained that God is angry at hypocritical pastors who are in love with money. Don’t worry, Benny, I’m sure he didn’t mean you.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cash Prize to Winner

This is Benny Hinn on the left. Dr. Evil is on the right. If any of you can prove that you have seen both of these guys in the same room at the same time, I will pay you, you guessed it, one million dollars!!! Of course, I will never have to pay anything, because they are the same freaking person. That wig is not fooling anyone Benny.

What's Wrong With This Picture?



Colbert is not going to like this

Pluto is no longer a planet. Sharing an orbit with Neptune is what did it in.