December 2006

2006 12 31
Two comments on the execution of Saddam Hussein


1. Dude, if you can fuck up the trial of Saddam Hussein — Saddam Hussein, the butcher of Baghdad, whose crimes are legion, and very well-documented — then there is really nothing on God’s green earth that you can’t fuck up.

2. While disappointed with many features of the trial, I applaud the Bush administration’s vigorous defence of the principle that heads of state are legally responsible for actions they, and their underlings, take while in power. Let’s see where that one takes us, shall we?


Nada (0)

2006 12 31
Happy New Year


Posted by in: Odds and ends

Happy New Year.


Howls of outrage (2)

2006 12 24
How would Jesus drive?


Posted by in: Pictures we took


How would Jesus drive?, originally uploaded by Chris and Yoon.

Spotted at Union Square


Nada (0)

2006 12 13
Letters to the editor


Posted by in: Odds and ends

A simple piece on a pigeon cull turns into something unexpectedly funny in the comments section.

Via, of course.


Howls of outrage (2)

2006 12 13
Bait Cars


Posted by in: Odds and ends

Sounds like fun!:

Aside from being a high-tech way to nab thieves, bait cars provide a rare look at the initial moments of a common crime. Most of the time, it’s not that exciting, officers said, because most interceptions take place within about two minutes and most arrests within four.

But not always. In one Loudoun incident that has become infamous among area police departments, a man stole a bait vehicle and was able to drive it from Leesburg to Southeast Washington because of technical difficulties. Police eventually got the suspect, minutes after the camera caught him smoking crack and masturbating. He had spent part of his ride urinating in a soda can, then drinking his urine to try to quell a case of the hiccups. He also vomited twice.

I always pull over before I try that particular hiccup cure.


Howls of outrage (2)

2006 12 11
Show Thursday


Posted by in: Music

I’m off to Ottawa, city of ice and sleet, on Thursday, or I would be attending this:

Thursday, December 14 at 9:00pm

Yoon’s E-String Band

Yoon Choi – voice and toy piano
Jacob Sacks – melodica
Khabu Doug Young – ukulele
Thomas Morgan – guitar
Vinnie Sperrazza – percussion

Perch Cafe
365 5th Ave (between 5th and 6th Street)
F train or R train to 4th Ave /9th St

$5


Howls of outrage (2)

2006 12 11
Trailer Park Boys


Posted by in: Pop Culture, Television

The Dagger Aleph is right: The Trailer Park Boys is pretty funny. She’s put up a clip on her site illustrating its virtues. It’s very much worth watching, but if you’re at work you might wait until you get home.


A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2006 12 10
Foreign policy elites ponder Iraq


The short format of this little forum really doesn’t allow much room for the contributors to develop their ideas. I gather, however, from what little they do say that a more expansive format wouldn’t have helped much. For me, it’s useful mainly as a way of documenting a) how bad a job the NYT opinion page does of representing a real range of foreign policy opinion; b) how truly fucked Iraq and the U.S.’s Iraq policy is now.

I’ve been too busy to take a close look at events or much commentary recently, but in the last week or so I’ve been coming to terms with the likelihood that the U.S. really is going to be forced out of Iraq, in a bloody, chaotic, and humiliating retreat. I hadn’t been able to accept that before. I could see a civil war coming a long way off, but not that the U.S. would be forced into a large-scale retreat. But consider: Any progress will lead to a renewal of larger ambition; any setback will be considered a further reason to dig in and stay. And so it will go until a mass uprising basically blows the whole thing to shit and the U.S. has to fight its way out of the country.


Howls of outrage (4)

2006 12 07
From me to you


Posted by in: Odds and ends

I just know you’ll love it.


Howls of outrage (3)

2006 12 07
Polls


I have a little bet with myself that the Iraq Study Group Report doesn’t contain a single reference to opinion polls in Iraq that indicate the majority of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave. Unfortunately, I’m just too busy right now with end-of-term madness to confirm that hunch. In the comments section of Upyernoz’s blog someone notes that the Study Group consulted Iraqi lawmakers, which is nice. But I’m interested in opinion polls, not consultations with elites, or even vague gestures at Iraqi public opinion.

Anyone know if I’m right?


Howls of outrage (4)

2006 12 03
The Lyrebird


Posted by in: Odds and ends

This is old, but if you haven’t seen this video of a Lyrebird in action, you really should.


Howls of outrage (9)

2006 12 02
Dion


I’m a little rusty on my Canadian politics, but I’ve always had a fairly positive impression of St�phane Dion, who just won the federal Liberal Party leadership race. I never especially liked Ignatieff, who was long favoured to win the race, so this result is gratifying. Also, Dion is a total geek, an intellectual, professor type with little in the way of conventional political charisma, and so I applaud this win as an important step in the Geek Takeover of the world.


Howls of outrage (3)

2006 12 02
Coalition of the grudging


Jacob Weisberg calls for a “coalition of the grudging” – NATO, plus perhaps Jordan and Turkey – to bail out the U.S. in Iraq. Weisberg is absolutely right that lots of other countries have an interest in seeing Iraq avoid a complete collapse into civil war. But his plan is a non-starter, and he should know it. Everybody knows at this point that the Bush administration would never give up real control of any outside effort in Iraq. Or if it did, it would only be long enough for things to get back on track, at which point it would be back to trying to use Iraq to project American power to advance American interests. There is simply no way that other countries or institutions are going to pour blood and money into the project of advancing American hegemony. We’ve been here before: The U.N. was originally in Iraq, and I think the lesson was lost on no one that it paid dearly in lives for, essentially, the chance to provide a very thin veneer of legitimacy to the botched conquest of one country by another. This is the way that U.S. has structured the strategic dilemma here, and it’s very hard to see how it could restructure it at this point.

At any rate, notice that the interests of the relevant countries are complex, as always. No one wants Iraq to stay a mess or do worse for its own sake. But here’s something else that must be figuring into everyone’s calculations: The more badly the U.S. gets burned in Iraq, the less likely it is to pull this shit on anyone else in the future. Unfortunately, the U.S. isn’t the only country in the world that looks to see other countries punished or deterred by policies it doesn’t like. These countries also have an interest in making sure that every subsequent major U.S. foreign policy decision for years to come is made with Iraq firmly in mind.

Since the situation in Iraq is already so bad that the coalition of the grudging would likely fail anyway, and since success would inevitably bring with it a) a renewal of the U.S.’s original ambitions for the war, and b) a mitigation of the deterrence effect thus far achieved by the U.S.’s failure in Iraq . . . well, how likely is this?

I also note that Weisberg doesn’t mention international opinion polling to gauge what the support for such a plan might be like. If he had done so, and reflected on the fact that most of the countries in the proposed coalition are democracies, he might well have spared us this foolish column. (In Canada, support for the mission in Afghanistan is shaky. How plausible, then, to think that Canadians will be happy to lend soldiers to fight and die in these circumstances?)

Next plan, please.


Howls of outrage (4)