Thursday, December 09, 2004

Death of Dimebag Darrell

This is pretty awful - shot to death while performing.

L-Hack is a big metal fan, and was just week, singing the praises of Pantera.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Celebrating questionable historic figures

My liberal friend is correct in questioning some jerks reverence for Robert E. Lee but he is remarkably silent when people who share his views hold some terrible people in high regard and I'm not talking about people who have been dead for 150 years but people who have a direct impact in very recent times.

Fidel Castro
Lets look at how some academics, international organizations, and celebrities view this scumbag.

The March/April 2002 issue of the prestigious magazine Foreign Policy contained a book review by Castro, described him as "the president of Cuba". President Castro, I like to see those Cuban exit poles.

Professor, activist, and author Howard Zinn "Castro’s Cuba, has no bloody record of suppression." This guy must be living in cave with his eyes shut and his fingers in his ears.

In 1988, the WHO presented Fidel Castro with its Health for All award in recognition of Cuba reaching all the WHO health goals set for developing countries to achieve by 2000. I'm happy to say Fidel has conquered Cuba's obesity problem.

At a Sundance Film Festival filmmaker Oliver Stone said that Fidel Castro is "warm and bright" and "a very moral man." Stone described him as "one of the Earth’s wisest people" at the Berlin Film Festival. Stone could use Castro in a remake of natural born killers.

Robert Redford met with Castro and screened the movie Motorcycle Diaries (a loving story about Che Guevara) for Guevara’s relatives, whose widow called it excellent. Screening a movie about a terrorist for a dictator I can't even come up with a smart ass comment for this one.

Jack Nicholson has called Castro "a genius." Apparently Jack "can't handle the truth".

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg visited Cuba and met with Castro in November and dined with the dictator until the early morning hours. Spielberg announced that his dinner with Castro "was the eight most important hours of my life." His wife must be thrilled at this statement.

Filmmaker Saul Landau, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker who produced four separate documentaries on Castro's Cuba for PBS and CBS, including a 1974 CBS documentary with Dan Rather. Dan Rather, nah too easy.

Model Naomi Campbell declared that Castro was "a source of inspiration to the world." "I'm so nervous and flustered because I can't believe I have met him. He said that seeing us in person was very spiritual," Campbell recounted of her 1999 visit to Cuba with fellow model Kate Moss, according to the Toronto Star. These models were so nervous they threw up which made their after meal vomiting unnecessary.

Other Hollywood celebrities who have visited Cuba and Castro include Spike Lee, Sidney Pollac, Woody Harrelson, Chevy Chase, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Costner, Harry Belafonte and Ted Turner. Most of these dipshits would never step foot in a red state for fear of oppression but Cuba's okay.

American media moguls, including the president of CBS TV, the head of MTV and the editor of Vanity Fair, visited Cuba in 2001. Sadly for these executives the North Korean ski season started late that year.

"For the sixth time, President Fidel Castro has met with U.S. university students and professors from more than 239 higher education institutions taking part in the Semester at Sea academic program"
Wow a summer conference in Cuba complete with sun, sand and suppression.

Now lets move on to Yasser Arafat
Professional embarrassment Jimmy Carter in an op-ed piece for the NYT remarked on Arafat’s "boldness" and "clarity of purpose." I think Carter is now more senile than Reagan of course Reagan has been dead for 6 months but Carter seems more out of it than RR.

Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University portrayed Yasser Arafat’s call for jihad as a social initiative comparable to starting a literacy campaign or a fight against AIDS. I suppose sending your illiterates out to blow themselves up will raise your literacy rates.

Yasser Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. I believe these clowns gave Hitler a life time achievement award for population control.

At its New York headquarters, the United Nations lowered its flag to half-mast, to honor Yasser Arafat. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "deeply moved" by Arafat’s passing. Kofi really needs to feel "deeply moved" by the passing a large kidney stone.

In his 1997 book The New War, John Kerry referred to Yasser Arafat as a statesman. Kerry nuanced his position on Arafat by saying he only referred to YA as a statesman before saying he wasn't and then remined everybody he was in Vietnam.

Instead of worrying about what some redneck idiot thinks about Robert E. Lee notice your party's "elites" heaping praise on evil, brutal despots.

John Edwards Update

About a month ago, I posted a questionabout John Edwards future, with his Senate term coming to an end.

Looks like we have a potential answer.

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

The UNC law school is courting U.S. Sen. John Edwards, hoping that Edwards will consider teaching now that his campaigning days and his Senate career are ending.

What this means for the long-term future is anyone's guess, but an academic career is basically national political suicide, given the Right's insane distrust and hatred for anyone associated with "mainstream" higher education.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Celebrating questionable historical figures

It's not just Robert E. Lee.

There are people in American history that we have a difficult time dealing with - they're fascinating, and they are representative of some unique American trait, but they're flawed.

Al Capone
Jesse James
John Dillinger
Bonnie and Clyde
John Brown
William Sherman

The list goes do we resolve a conflicted relationship with these people?

More nonsense

When I asked for someone to explain the difference between John Walker Lindh and Robert E. Lee, I'll admit some hyperbole on my part, but this is a real gem!

You have stood to pontificate on a subject about which you have demonstrably zero knowledge, to the detriment of your students and readers who will take your professorship as an automatic stamp of credibility. In that way, you perpetuate half-truths and outright fiction as if they are fact. Your position, Sir, should be to uncover truth using scientific method, not to obfuscate it by regurgitating propaganda.

ad hominem attack - the new rhetorical salvo of the Right.

The Radical Republicans of Lincoln's day were very left leaning liberals, much the same as a significant component of today's party of Democrats. The Constitution of the United States (plural) of America was an obstacle to them. They did not want to, nor did Lincoln ultimately, uphold that Constitution. They saw it as an Al Goresque "living document". It should be very profitable to play poker with a liberal, then or now.

The Confederacy believed in the government that had been created and handed down by the Founders. Their own Constitution of the Confederate States (definitely plural) of America was a duplication of the original work with some clarifications and a few minor additions...

In his First Inaugural Address, Lincoln states, "I take the official oath today with no mental reservations, and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules." Of course, this was on March 4, 1861, one month after the Confederate States adopted a constitution and 16 days after the inauguration of Jefferson Davis.

"You, on the other hand, believe that the Confederate States (definitely plural) of America equate to the Taliban. Sir, if a=b=c, then a=c. If, then, the CSA equalled the government of the Founders as shown above, and the CSA equal the Taliban, then the government of our Founders equals the Taliban. Of course the statement fails.

That reality makes General Lee an American Patriot, and it puts you dangerously close to treason yourself. There is, then, little wonder that you would defend Lindh since his vindication also appears to be your own."

The adoption of the language of the US Constitution, even it is mostly verbatim, does NOT automatically equate the CSA with the United States.

Look closely at this statement:

Article 22
The dignity, life, property, rights, residence, and occupation of the individual are inviolate, except in cases sanctioned by law.

What a wonderful Constitutional statement - a clear exposition of the individual's rights. Certainly, this must come from a Western democracy.

Too bad it's from the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Or how about this one:

Article 5
All citizens are equal before the law.

It's practically Section 1 of the 14th Amendment - of course, it's from the Constitution of Libya, so I'd have to wonder how close the language is to the principle.

The point is, a Constitution doesn't define a government - it's defined by its actions. The CSA was formed on flawed principles, the rejection of the results of a democratic election. Under ratification, the Southern states accepted the rules for Presidential election. Their candidate didn't win, so they quit.

Essentially, the political elites of the South paid lip service to the US Constitution, so why should the adoption of the language automatically mean acceptance of the principles? It would be a more valid argument if the federal government had moved against Southern states, but they didn't. Even if you adopt the position that the Constitution is a contract between states and the federal government, there was no breach.

As for Lee, he led an insurrection. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment uses that specific word - "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." To whom was he a "Patriot"?

I don't dispute that Robert Lee was a great American soldier prior to the Civil War, and he remains a great military figure, regardless of allegiance, but he made a bad choice. Warts and all, he's still a part of American history, but his actions and the actions of Southern political elites are indefensible if you accept the US Constitution in its current form. That one word says it all : insurrection.

This is where the difficult part comes in: how do we celebrate a piece of our history that isn't quite defensible?

Have your cake and eat it too

From The New Republic: "Bush has not increased the size of the U.S. military since September 11--despite repeated calls from hawks in his own party--in part because, given his massive tax cuts, he simply cannot afford to. "

I'm not the only one...

From the Dec. 2nd Washington Post:

"A high-ranking business executive who is familiar with Kerik's tenure as police commissioner and as head trainer of Iraqi police recruits expressed shock at his selection, and said Kerik is not an accomplished manager. 'Management just simply isn't his strong suit,' the executive said. "

Moron on Raleigh Radio

As I was driving to work this morning, the morning team on a local radio station was talking about this article in the News and Observer, about the renaming of Airport Road in Chapel Hill to Martin Luther King Blvd.

What started as a civil conversation about the impact on business owners degenerated into one those idiotic rants by xenophobic Southern conservatives about how in the name of equality, why we don't have streets named after Robert E. Lee, or Barry Manilow (who this particular disc jockey seems to associate with gay pride).

Once he sets up this straw man about how we have to rename every street for some group, in the name of equality, the cost is so detrimental to businesses that we shouldn't do it at all. The bigger issue is "equality", this moron says, followed by some caller talking about how black people can do x, but white people can't do y.

While I agree that renaming streets, however good in principle, isn't the best thing for business owners, and probably shouldn't be done unless the government or someone can compensate business owners for new stationary, advertisements, etc...

Look around you idiots - it's not like there aren't things around here named after white people. The City of Raleigh, Wake County, the State of North Carolina...all named after white people.

Second of all, there are places named after Robert E. Lee: Lee Highway in Virginia, Leesburg, VA, Washington and Lee his home state. Harvey Milk has stuff named after him in San Francisco - an elementary school, a city rec center, Cesar Chavez in Berkeley, General James O'Hara in Pennsylvania, all historic figures relevant to their place.

Martin Luther King was a national figure, important outside of Atlanta.

"So was Robert E. Lee!", rednecks would argue.

I think you're forgetting one thing - Robert E. Lee was an insurrectionist, the leader of an armed rebellion against the United States of America, in support of the atrocious institution of slavery. Explain to me how he is any different than John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. The fact that he holds any place of reverence in American history is disgusting.

It would be different if he was a figure in a foreign country that merged to form the United States - I could understand how people would want to honor his legacy. The Confederate States of America was a violent separatist movement that took up arms against our government, and this gets celebrated as "heritage"!

Why not have "Al-Zarqawi Avenue" or "Osama Bin Ladin Lane"? Even better yet, let's celebrate a divisive white American that took up arms against our goverment - be the first person to own a home on "Timothy McVeigh Trail"!

Confederate "soldiers" are no different than any of these people, fighting for divisive ideology.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The "Evil Empire" - A Force of Good for Baseball Teams and Fans

From the NY Times

"The Yankees would like to void Giambi's contract, or at the least convert it into a nonguaranteed contract. But they continue to face serious roadblocks, not the least of which is the fact that all they have to go on is a newspaper report about Giambi's testimony before a federal grand jury in San Francisco."

If there is one force in baseball that can set this steroid nonsense straight, it is George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees. Don Fehr and that disgusting players' union will fight tooth and nail against any contract invalidation for steroid use, and if it's Selig vs. Fehr...well, I think me versus Mike Tyson is more competitive.

Enter the NY Yankees - the wealthy franchise in US professional sports and with the toughest owner in the business. Steinbrenner has the financial resources and the tenacity to beat Fehr and the players' union on this steroid issue, and for baseball fans everywhere, he should. If Jason Giambi was under contract to the Pittsburgh Pirates, what could Kevin McClatchy do about it? Absolutely nothing. Small-market franchise, not a lot of money or publicity, and the Pirates would have to live with the fraud that Giambi and his agent inflicted on the team.

Not Steinbrenner. There's also a self-serving reason to do this. Many people (myself included), believe that Barry Bonds is the greatest player in the history of baseball, even better than Babe Ruth. I don't want to pass judgment on Bonds quite yet, but if Steinbrenner breaks the players union, Peter MacGowan may get the courage to go after Barry Bonds and make him answer the steroid rumors. If Bonds as a fraud, the title of "greatest player ever" remains with a Yankee.

It's not just MacGowan, maybe every owner will follow Steinbrenner's example and run all those players out of baseball.

This may also be the crack in the union that small-market teams need. Quite frankly, I could care less about what free-market advocates say on this topic - baseball needs a salary cap. Look at where out of control salaries have got the NHL - hey, players, I hope you're enjoying Europe because hockey in America is as good as dead. Now, look at the NFL, salary cap, league parity, great television ratings, high stadium attendance. Loved nationally, not regionally. Every sports league should seek to be more like the NFL, and a salary cap is the kind of thing that bring MLB back to the popularity it enjoyed a few decades ago.

Bernard Kerik - More than he can chew?

Fred Kaplan writes in Slate:

"Finally, as for Kerik's ability to run a bureaucratic monstrosity that consists of 22 federal agencies, again, there's not much there there.

There are about 40,000 employees of the NYPD, police officers, detectives and support staff. There are 183,000 employees of the DHS, and a budget of close to $34 billion. It's so new, they need direction, vision, strategy, someone to integrate the mix of people that have just come together.

I'm sure he would be an excellent operations director, heck, he might even be a good FBI director, but I think the Department of Homeland Security is out of his league.

Brainwashing 101

I watched Brainwashing 101 last night, which you can download here. Recently I've taken a great interest in this topic, since as a Ph.D student in Public Administration, I'll likely teach undergraduate political science at some point in my career and I'm concerned about injecting bias into the classroom.

First, I have to commend Mr. Maloney for recognizing that political discussion is a relevant topic for political science and some philosophy courses. As common sensical as one may believe this is, there are people that want politics kept out of even political science. I try very hard not to inject MY viewpoint into the classroom, but in an analysis of public policy, I can't imagine how far you can get without saying something along the lines of : "conservatives favor x, while liberals favor y". Of course, that's not a license to pass a value judgment on either perspective, but to point out the arguments and counterarguments for each is a valid discussion topic.

With these examples cited in the film, I'm not so sure they're an indictment of conservative values as much as an attack on free speech. In defense of college administrators, they've adopted a viewpoint of "cover-my-behind", and let's face it, liberals have been more litigious and outspoken about supposed "hate speech" and "offensive rhetoric".

I am opposed to censorship in any form, and the handling of the incident at Cal Poly was unacceptable. Of course, my support for free speech extends to people like Nicholas DeGenova, whom Mr. Maloney cites as a problem with today's campuses in the beginning of his film.

It's a funny film, done in a Michael Moore-esque style, but the arguments are flawed. At one point, I think one the students from Tennessee says something along the lines of free speech being protected, except for conservative speech. If you want more conservative viewpoints, and believe they are being abridged, that's something anyone should get behind - liberal or conservative. If you want more conservative viewpoints, and you want to silence people like the Bucknell economist, or even DeGenova, then all you're trying to do is invert the current power structure while maintaining limits on speech. That's nonsense.

One more thing, for students that gripe about being assigned summer readings like "Nickeled and Dimed" or "Fast Food Nation", get over it. I have to read a lot of stuff I don't particularly agree with. I read it because it forces me to:

1. Think critically.
2. Understand my field.

Besides, I can never dismiss all of it, there's always some good valid logic in the stuff I don't agree with, just like there's always some nonsense in the stuff I do agree with.

Read these books to formulate a critique if you want - compare it to another book on the same topic - but if you moan about having to read it, you're closing your mind off. Faith, believes, ideas - they only mean something if they're tested in the face of evidence.