Friday, April 30, 2004

CBS, ABC Join Axis of Evil: Irresponsible Reporting in Time of War

If you haven't seen the pictures documenting American sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners, there is one thing you can be certain of: the entire Arab world has!

While the American response has been overwhelmingly apologetic, I found some gems that best underscore the spirit of compassionate conservatism.

Dear CBS,

Why in God's name would you choose to air such a story at this time? This is something our country didn't need to know now. Everyone in this country is hanging on for dear life to support the troops, and you have taken all our faith in goodness away. How many more reports can we watch like this before support fades?

We are losing our fight with other countries to support us, and now you have just sealed it. ... We've just lost the goal of helping anyone over there because of this show, and God help us. You are no better then those who did these horrible acts. Your reports are bringing down this country.

--Betsy Berra

We really don't know how those prisoners are behaving.... There's a line between heinous war crimes and maintaining discipline.

--Zeenithia Davis, whose husband is allegedly among the soldiers responsible

[The alleged abuses of prisoners were] stupid, kid things — pranks... And what the [Iraqis] do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, does that apply to everybody or just us?

--Terrie England

In other news, ABC's Nightline will not be aired tonight, at least not on any affiliate stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The company has stated that tonight's scheduled program--40 minutes devoted solely to the names and pictures of American soldiers killed in Iraq--"appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." Instead, the company will be airing an alternative piece explaining how freedom of information is a threat to the homeland, and that large corporate conglomerates are in a unique position to decide what should not be viewed by the American public.

Losing the War in Iraq

"It's not a good sign when, a year into an occupation, the occupying army sends for more tanks."

--Paul Krugman

"If you want a hint of how much trouble the U.S. is in, consider that these two gentlemen are still clinging to the hope that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq."

--Bob Herbert

Thursday, April 29, 2004

March for Women's Lives Rally

I'm sorry to say that I was unable to attend the March For Women's Lives last Sunday, although I did attend the after party which spontaneously erupted when Overlord took the stage in Arlington, VA, around midnight Monday morning. Guest speakers included my spindly corpse propped against the soft bias of low expectations as we christened hour four of live musical entertainment at The Royal Lee Bar and Grill.

Click to watch C-SPAN coverage of the March for Women's Lives Rally like I did.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Hellarity

This week the Bush administration appointed their former top UN diplomat, John Negroponte, as the new US ambassador to Iraq. The appointment was detailed on the website of the Coalition Provisional Authority, including a cropped picture of Negroponte speaking before one of the world's greatest anti-war works of art--Pablo Picasso's Guernica. The photo dates from February 5th, 2003, when Negroponte and Secretary of State Colin Powell were dispatched to make the case for war in Iraq, including Powell's now-famous, Iraq-definitely-has-weapons of mass destruction speech. Particularly interesting are reports that the painting was covered before the conference under dubious pretense; the fact that this shot was somehow managed and now appears on the provisional government's website suggests a comic conspiracy of the highest order.

(Of special note: a FOX News microphone in the foreground; Negroponte's sinister countenance. Priceless.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Very Next Person To Hold My Hand Can Have Me

Overlord plays two shows this Sunday: WMUC radio at the University of Maryland; and the Royal Lee, in Arlington, Va.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Letter to the Editor: Bush Eliminates Overtime

This letter will probably appear in tomorrow's Metro.

This week the Bush administration will introduce new rules making millions of workers ineligible for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week. After nine-months of public pressure, Bush scrapped his initial plans and introduced revisions exempting police, firefighters, and other first responders from the cuts. Now the administration is selling the cuts as an "extension" to this sector of the workforce, with several newspapers suggesting a policy-reversal. This is not an honest characterization of the new rules, under which many of us will lose our overtime rights.

Monday, April 19, 2004


In spite of a flawed dinner strategy, I was happy to support America's new manufacturing sector. President Bush had truly demonstrated his commitment to making sure that every American who wants work can find a job. Unwilling to ignore the export of manufacturing jobs to the unregulated havens of the third-world, the president vowed to create more manufacturing jobs at home. This began with 2004's famous Economic Report of the President, which asked the hard question, "What is Manufacturing, Anyway?"; and continued with exhaustive scientific inquiries into the qualitative difference between a fuel-injector and a big mac. The findings confirmed what everyone in the administration already suspected: Americans still make big macs. And because the government had subsidized the export of real manufacturing to other nations, the report rightly notes that "the definition of what constitutes manufacturing is far from clear."

Millions of new manufacturing jobs could be generated instantaneously, if only we as Americans were prepared to let go of our outdated ideas about high-wages and good benefits, and embrace a new epoch of "productive flexibility." Unions are an anachronism--appropriate at one time, perhaps, but no longer needed in a post-industrial economy in which all antagonisms between corporations and their employees have been transcended, under the guiding principle of not thinking critically, and that success "is an attitude!"

Sunday, April 18, 2004


By the time I finished my meal I was thoroughly disgusted. I thought maybe the double-cheeseburger or the quarter-pounder with cheese would have been a better choice. It definitely would have been a better value, considering that I can only afford McDonald's once or twice a year. The only good thing about it all was that I got to drink root beer. But then I started worrying about diabetes, which runs in my family. When you spend a lot of time alone you can't help but become a kind of hypochondriac. I kept imagining limbs jettisoning themselves from my body. I have a pretty vivid imagination, especially when it comes to diabetes-related health complications.

It was Friday night and I didn't have any plans. When you are under-employed all day like I am, the last thing you want to do on Friday night is have plans. My only serious commitment was making sure nobody knew I was home. There was additional 9/11 commission testimony I was dying to see, in particular Richard Clarke. For me, on a Friday night is the height of indulgence. I had already watched Condoleezza Rice several times, and judged her harshly. For one thing, she was constantly smiling. Condoleezza Rice is an attractive woman, but for anyone to smile that much indicates to me that she's working for the wrong side. Of course, I don't mean that in a partisan way. I mean when Satan took her to the parapet of the temple and told her that she could have all the kingdoms of the world if only she would bow down and worship him, she submitted her application for National Security Adviser. I'm not suggesting that George Bush is the devil. I'm saying Mr. Cheney has no business at that height with his heart condition.

I got pretty depressed over my dinner. But then these were depressing times. The government had sold everyone a real bill of goods on the whole going to war idea. They hoped it would be a cure to the Vietnam syndrome. The Vietnam syndrome was where everyone figured out what a scam war is, and how eager governments are to get their people killed for political reasons. So, for a long time America was afflicted with the Vietnam syndrome, which was really just a variety of good sense. It was the policy planners who called it a syndrome, because it obstructed a military solution to international problems. For many years a lot of energy was invested in curing the syndrome, and getting Americans back to a place where they would support actions that put their families in harm's way for the benefit of others. This has been the function of war through history--to maintain or expand positions of privilege for the decision-makers at the expense people who aren't the decision-makers. Of course, no war has ever been sold in such explicit terms. At the Nuremberg trials, Gustave Gilbert, an intelligence officer, interviewed Nazi officer Hermann Goering on effectively selling a war:

Goering: Why, of course the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference: In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Goering: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Today's Headlines

Bob Woodward's new book, The Plan of Attack, hits the shelves this week, following close on the heels of last November's offering, Bush at War. The newest volume pursues further the President's claim that after 9/11 everything changed, including his shorts.

Additional chapters include:

  • The Question of Religious Fundamentalism: Can It Work Here?

  • Intelligence Failures: Saddam Proves "Not Such A Bad Guy" After All

  • Bush Looks Forward: Will Cuts In Adult-Literacy Programs Be His Undoing?
  • Thursday, April 15, 2004


    Things were going terribly in Iraq, but much worse for me at McDonald's. I couldn't figure out what I wanted. Not only that, there was nobody in line. I had to look like a jackass for an interminable period. Finally, I ordered Chicken McNuggets, specifically because of mad cow disease. This was my special night out, after all. I wasn't about to have it ruined by worrying over the avian flu.

    I sat in the corner with my back to the wall, like the time I lost my virginity. I was oppressed by the sun. It was shining directly on my meal. I would have moved but I didn't want to want to give up my station. It was a prime vantage point over the whole place. The reason why I wanted a prime vantage point was so I could assess any employment opportunities, should they arise. Only I couldn't see too many employment opportunities on account that the goddam sun was shining all over my food. I would have put my sunglasses back on but I had already eaten a fry; I had laid my glasses on the napkins because I didn't want them to touch the table. Finally I discovered that by using the condensation from my soda I could clean my hands and emerge from this impossible quandary. But that was only much later, after the ice had started to melt.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004


    I'm really pretty lousy on the whole war thing. I know I've got the wrong attitude, but I don't care. First of all, war is dangerous. People get killed doing that shit. Look at Iraq. It's like a war over there. The administration calls it a 'robust insurgency.' Either way, Dick Cheney doesn't need me running around with rifle, getting shot at for Halliburton. Actually, that's exactly what he needs. Checks from Halliburton don't write themselves, after all. My question is: What do I have in common with Dick Cheney? This guy made over a million dollars last year, and he wants to me to run into Falluja with a rifle? I would have more in common with the people trying to kill me--and by that I don't mean Dick Cheney.

    McDonald's has changed dramatically since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. For one thing, there is no two-cheeseburger extra-value meal anymore. It's just not there. Now a number two is a quarter-pounder with cheese. A number three is a double-cheeseburger. They don't have the skimpy cheeseburgers with the onion shavings and the one slice of pickle anymore. They all have tomatoes and lettuce and all these vegetables on them like you're at Wendy's. I guess it's part of the whole "healthy" McDonald's scam--like the elimination of the "super-size" option (because it's too much for people to resist an unhealthy bargain when they see one). In a word, lame. The other thing that struck me was the cost. These new meals are all the same price--$4.19, with a tax that puts them around $4.50. That's outrageous for a meal which won't even reach the 2000 calorie threshold like the old super-size deals would. I never ate the supersize meals because my stomach is exceedingly small. (Think of the ratio of time Bush has spent acting as President vs. time spent clearing brush on his ranch. That small.) But that's not the point. I used to be able to eat an affordably priced two cheeseburgers with fries and not experience hunger for 36 hours. The new, healthy McDonald's did not yield a similar value, as we will soon see.

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    What I'm Talking About

    The plan for a four-hour workday.

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    Depressed After Condi, I Treat Myself to Dinner Out

    Having nothing else to do, I secured transport after work to McDonald's for my evening repast. I do not eat McDonald's nearly as much as a should, I decided on the way, since for a poor person it is a fine way to meet one's caloric goals for the weekend. The truth is that I've lost a lot of weight since Condi's testimony--I'm afraid it didn't go half as badly as I had hoped--and most of what's left to lose is bone marrow, skeletal features by now. Also, I frequently romanticize McDonald's as a source of future employment, if my faith-based trend of social climbing downward is ever going to pay off. So I go from time to time, just to invigorate my sense of purpose.

    The last time I visited McDonald's, American forces in Iraq had only recently gained control of Baghdad. Chief White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer oozed about the "unquenchable" taste of freedom, which reminded me of the daydreams I once had in 6th grade about Chicken McNuggets. It was newly warm in South Philly, and patriotism was just a sports-bra away from something I could feel genuinely good about. Tragically, my rabidly partisan hatred for our president spoiled my sharing in the experience. But nothing spoils a two-cheeseburger extra-value meal, or the solid mass it becomes in the daily Baghdad of the digestive track.

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    The Assyrian Catholics

    A little something you will never see in the American press.

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Save Your Company Millions: Outsource Your CEO

    In recent years, hundreds of U.S. companies have generated significant savings by sending high-skilled, well-paid positions to countries such as Singapore, India and the Czech Republic. The economics are clear: If a job can be done equally well somewhere else for less money, then it should be sent abroad. Our consulting firm takes this concept to the next logical step by outsourcing all the way to the top of the corporate ladder.

    Read the full article at Alternet

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    White House says Yawning Boy "Backs Bush" for President

    BBC NEWS--A teenage boy caught on TV yawning behind President Bush as he delivered a speech has come out in favour of the president in the upcoming elections.

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    The Occidental Statist

    We have not seen this level of manipulation through propaganda since Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi party.

    --Former State Department counterterrorism expert, Larry C. Johnson, referring to the Bush administration today on the Laura Flanders show, Air America [paraphrase].

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    Bush Creates New Manufacturing Sector

    Job opportunities in the American manufacturing sector are experiencing a revival this year, thanks to a new Bush administration initiative to rethink the meaning of blue-collar work.

    "The definition of a manufactured product is not straightforward," states the annual Economic Report of the President. "When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a 'service' or is it combining inputs to 'manufacture' a product?"

    Traditionally, manufacturing has been defined as anyone "engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products." But the report notes that many convenient marts and fast-food chains now possess the technology to manufacture products which previously were best attempted in industrial settings only. One example, the hi-tech McGriddles breakfast sandwich, features a McDonald's-patented syrup-infused bread-roll, which boasts real maple-syrup flavoring without the inconvenience and mess of conventional syrup applicators.

    "The McGriddle has a reputation for being capital-intensive because of its advanced assembly process," a senior-level McDonald's spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal last week. "But, ultimately, baking a controlled syrup-flavoring into the bun cuts costs when compared to the interminable handing-out of syrup packets."

    The assembly-line method of McDonald's food production seems to fit well with the Bush administration plan to reinvent a new manufacturing sector.

    "If mixing water and concentrate in a Chinese factory to produce soft drinks is classified as manufacturing," White House spokesperson Scott McClellan told reporters Tuesday, "why shouldn't the American who renders the beverage to end-users share the same benefit and prestige of a manufacturing position as his Chinese counterpart?"

    Related Stories:

    Appoint Mayor McCheese as the New Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing