Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, February 28, 2005

Happy Jihadi Goes to Lebanon

Peaceful protests in Lebanon successfuly unseat a government that is friendly to a State sponsor of terrorism.

In related news, Sobek Pundit is happy to eat crow, considering his somewhat pessimistic prediction a few days back.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Syria: "Maybe Resistance Really Is Futile"

Saddam Hussein's half-brother was turned over to Iraq. It looks like he fled to Syria after the U.S.-led invasion, although Syria denied it until they, in fact, sent him back home. The linked CNN article says he was one of the most wanted leaders of the insurgency, and that he was arrested along with 29 other formed Baath Party leaders.

I question the timing.

In other interesting Syria/Lebanon news, neither nor mention the handover. And no word on Assad's promise to withdraw Syrian forces to the Lebanese border, or on Lebanon's official decision to cooperate with UN investigators on the Hariri assassination. Instead, Syria Today limits itself to reporting Russia's deal to supply Bashar Assad with nuclear material. The top three stories on Syrian Times are about the recent Tel Aviv bombing, and two stories about how foreign countries should stop putting so much pressure on Syria, just because they assassinated a foreign leader. Interestingly, one of those stories is about Iran coming to Syria's defense.

I'd say it's pretty clear who runs the newspapers in that country.

But Syria Today actually does have a useful (although unintentionally so) story, again rife with denials that there is anything at all interesting happening in that part of the world. It quotes some bits from the State of the Union address, in which President Bush told Congress, “You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act.” I'd never heard of the thing. It's mostly declaratory in nature (you can read the 8-page document here), although it grants Bush certain powers to restrict diplomatic and economic ties with Syria. It's not a very impressive piece of legislation, although I was interested to notice it was co-sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and Dick Gephart. Don't get too impressed at their hawkishness, though. If a bill has 297 co-sponsors, two names hardly stick out. John Kerry, unsurprisingly, failed to vote.

Update: In Lebanon, the pro-Syrian government has instructed troops to prevent anti-Syria demonstrations on Monday, and demonstrators respond, "Take off, hoser." Apparently, Lebanese protestors learned English by watching "Strange Brew."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ever the Pessimists

Egypt has announced democratic reforms, about a month after Saudi Arabia had municipal elections (limited in scope as they were). Oh, and I think there were some elections in Iraq, too. And Lebanon is going to have an election in May, and for the first time in thirty years or so, it might be without the "assistance" of Syria. Plus, there were those elections in Afghanistan that all the broadcast news channels kept talking about. Even Palestine just elected a man who at least pretends he's a moderate.

None of which stopped 52% of readers (26,107 people) from voting "no" to the question, "Will steps toward democracy in Iraq and Egypt spread to other countries in the Mideast?"

Gee, you'd think they were actively rooting against democracy in the Middle East, no? I like polls. They consistently show me everything I need to know about their audience.

That's it, I'm Gonna Sue

Anyone know a good lawyer?

This is like my Kennewick Man.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sharp Rise in Arabic Students in U.S.

Story here.

Meanwhile, SobekPundit realizes that knowing Arabic no longer has the same cachet it once did, considers teaching himself Xhosa.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dean Tours the Red States


"Dean is likely to face a mixed reception in Kansas, which at 43 percent trails only Nebraska and Utah in the percentage of population registered as Republicans.

"Some local Democrats appear unconvinced.

"Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat who scored a surprising win in 2002 but is a top GOP target next year, won't appear with Dean during his two-day visit.


"Rep. Dennis Moore, the state's only congressional Democrat, is traveling out of the country and won't return until next week. A Moore spokeswoman declined to comment on Dean's trip.
"Aides to other Kansas Democrats, including state Sen. Janice Lee and Kansas City Mayor Carol Marinovich, also declined to comment on Dean's visit.
"Dean is likely to face a similar reception next week in Mississippi, where Rep. Gene Taylor, the state's only white Democrat in Congress, has been openly critical of his party's new chairman.
"...Davis noted, for example, that tickets for the rally in Lawrence sold out in less than three hours."

Yeah, I'd pay for a ticket, too, if he came here. It's hard to look away from a train wreck.

Two Important Links

Dave has an interesting critique of Fred Kaplan being a doofus concerning nuclear Iran. He also has Chewbacca singing "The Facts of Life."

Wow, I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

At the song, not Dave's opinions on Iran.


On the Superiority of the First Amendment to the Fourteenth

Our First Amendment protects freedoms of speech, of the press, and of religion. The Fourteenth prohibits States from denying their citizens the equal protection of the laws. Any lawsuit arguing discrimination or unfairness is grounded in the Equal Protection Clause, and it is a powerful tool in the hands of would-be social reformers who want to use courts to mold society to fit their particular vision. Perhaps my sneering summary has already loaded the dice, in the minds of my readers, against the Fourteenth Amendment (assuming most of you are conservatives, libertarians, or some mixture of the two). But really, my description only shows how the clause is and can be abused. This post is about why I believe the First Amendment is fundamentally the superior of the two.

In the case of U.S. v. Virginia (1996), female students sued the all-male Virginia Military Institute to make it accept women as well, and they won. Justice Scalia gave a generally lame dissent, but he said one thing that struck me as very important.

"The virtue of a democratic system with a First Amendment is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly. That system is destroyed if the smug assurances of each age are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution."

We see examples of such "smug assurances" all around us. "Gender is a construct!" the feminists cry, and their assurance is nothing if not smug, but also tends to be grounded in nothing more than unproven theory. Let's take Maureen Dowd for example. The promise of feminism is that a woman can be happy without a man, if only she has a successful career and material wealth. Ms. Dowd has certainly reached the pinnacle of her career, and yet she's so consistently miserable, and her repeated, plaintive cries make it clear that she pines for a man. The feminist promise failed her completely (not that she's about to wake up and realize that).

The First Amendment is a Constitutional guarantee, however, that as stupid and empty as the feminist promise is, government cannot stifle that promise or silence those who make it. If the First Amendment is properly applied, then the success or failure of feminism will be determined solely on the basis of its own persuasive power, as seen through the lense of experience. If, thirty years into the feminist movement, we see it has been nothing but a dismal failure, then we are better off with that knowledge, and it is for the best that the Constitution didn't allow government to step in and silence the feminists, no matter how batty their theories. The ideas simply can't support their own weight.

The Fourteenth Amendment, on the other hand, provides for the undefined, amorphous concept of "equality." If we are to rely on Equal Protection alone, it's not sufficient for the government to stay out of the way of the clash of ideas - it must take affirmative steps to modify the landscape so that certain ideas can be preserved. No longer do we see the imminent demise of those ideas which are unpersuasive, or pernicious, or counter-productive; instead, we see they take on longer life. Feminism (and note, I'm just using it as one of many possible examples) has no persuasive power, but because of the "smug assurances" of the academy, with their progressive theory du jour, it has been removed from the democratic process and written into thirty plus years of Constitutional history.

That is why the First Amendment is superior. The government should be kept out of the marketplace of ideas, not asked selectively through the Equal Protection clause to enshrine as unassailable those ideas which cannot flourish without governmental assistance.

Repost: ACLU v. The L.A. County Seal

I just found something I wrote in Ace of Spades' comments last summer, before I started blogging. I figured I'd re-post it, since it never showed up here and it saves me the trouble of thinking up something new to say.

Your comments on the separation of church and state reminded me of what's going on in L.A. now. I don't know how many of you are following this, but the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit to get Los Angeles county to change its seal, which was adopted in the early 1950s. On one side of the seal is a very small cross.

Now you might think this is a nit-picky kind of complaint, especially considering that most people never look at a county seal (seriously, do you know what yours looks like?), let alone scrutinize it, let alone declare it an unconstitutional encroachment on the separation of church and state. But I'm writing to say I'm with the ACLU on this one. Frankly, I fear an America where the government can ram religion down our throats in the name of "heritage" or "culture." Indeed, if I have any issue with the ACLU, it is that they aren't going far enough. Here are some items I'd like to see added to that lawsuit.

1. There should be no mention, in any government document, of the words Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Tuesday and Friday are named after pagan Teutonic German religious figure, Wednesday from "Woden's day (i.e. Odin)" and Thursday is named for the Norse god Thor. The other three are named for celestial bodies and the Greco-Roman deities associated with them: the Sun, the Moon, and Saturn. I don't want the government using my tax dollars to propogate religious notions about which deities/celestial bodies we worship. For basically the same reason, government should not be allowed to acknowledge the months of July or August, which were inserted by Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar in connection with their deification in Roman mythology. And we should probably not mention the planets at all.

2. Government should ban the use of certain religiously loaded terms in schools. These terms include "erotic" (after Eros), "panpipes" (after the demi-god Pan), "Venice" or "venereal disease" (from Venus, Roman goddess of love), "Athens" (from Athena, patron of the city of that name), any word ending in "-ology" (from the Greek word "logos," which is theologically loaded in Christianity), "praise" (the name Muhammad means "praised one," or "he who is praised"), or any reference to oil or grease (the name Christ means "annointed," as with oil). We don't need government telling our kids what to think about these clearly religious topics.

3. All government employees who go bald on top of their head should be required to wear a government-issued toupee. The bald spot is far too reminiscent of the Catholic tonsure, and the bald area may be suspiciously close to the area covered by a yarmulka. We don't need government slyly endorsing Catholicism or Judaism that way.

I'm working on a petition for like-minded citizens to sign. I hope you'll help me out with my campaign. And if you have more ideas about government oppression, let me know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lebanese Prime Minister to Step Down

I found the story on Yahoo News. When I looked for it again two hours later, it was buried in their archives, so I guess they don't care very much. But in response to pressure at home and abroad, Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami made a conditional offer to resign. Karami is pro-Syria, so this is quite the victory for the Lebanese independence movement.

Other than from Bush, Syria is feeling the heat from France, Jordan and Egypt.

So What?

I've done a series of posts on the situation in Lebanon without garnering any comments, and I wonder if in part that's because few Americans know or care about the reasons for the tensions there. I suspect that much of the interest I've seen in the blogosphere is due to the fact that one of the actors - Syria - is already on the U.S. hit list, and so we just assume that anything Syria is forced to do must be a good thing.

The primary reason why the fate of Lebanon should interest Americans is suggested in the quote by Walid Jumblaat to the effect that there is a spark of Democracy, palpable in middle eastern countries such as Lebanon and Egypt. Consider also the editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star, "Democracy Comes Knocking in Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine." If true (and there are good reasons to believe it is true), then our Iraqi experiment has already started having success, and we can reasonably expect to see further clamor for democratic freedoms in a traditionally tyrannical region. For that reason, we ought to keep a close eye on what anti-Syria groups in Lebanon are saying, and whether or not they are successful at meaningful change without violence.

A secondary reason is that Syria might view its waning position in the region as an indication that it's time to stop playing the "Taunt America" game. Already they're playing a dangerous game of alliances with Iran - if they find themselves increasingly isolated, with strong European pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Syria is more likely to decide that discretion is the better part of valor than if they feel nice and secure.

From an-Nahar (I don't see a place for a perma-link). The word by the chair says "government," and the words above the destroyed cars say "assassination of al-Hariri."


Scene: Sobek's bedroom. Sobek is sitting at his desk, doing his homework. Sobek's Wife is just off-stage, bathing their son.

Wife: Oh, by the way, you're sister called. She said your mom's surgery went fine.

Sobek: Her WHAT!?!?

Wife (enters the room): So you didn't know either. I thought you knew, and just didn't tell me.

Sobek: My family never tells me anything. Like when Alisa got engaged and I found out three months later.

Wife: Well anyway, the surgery went fine.

Son (enters and points at Sobek's computer): Song?

Sobek (knows he wants to hear his favorite song, which is, quite inexplicably, Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Right Round." Strobes and colored lights flash as the Sobek family dances).

Sobek (sits back down): I can't believe no one told me my own mother was having surgery. Oh well. At least now I don't feel so bad that I didn't tell them about my knee surgery.

(Exuent all).

Shadow Art

While checking Sitemeter to see which of the Illuminati are keeping track of me today, I came across this blog (I found the premise behind this post especially interesting), which has a link to this guy. Check out the video with the clamps.

Also, it looks like Tina Fey has a blog. And it turns out she's a conservative law student. Huh. I never would have guessed. She makes some good points here.

A Mystery Explained?

Something about the whole Syria/Lebanon thing has been bothering me. When hunting for clues in a homicide, naturally you have to ask who stands to gain from the death. Some Syrians (unsurprisingly) pointed at Israel. I've been trying to figure out how that doesn't make sense.

Since the blast killed Rafiq Hariri, world attention has focused on Lebanon much more sharply than before, with the effect of strengthening international pressure for Damascus to pull troops out of Lebanon. Damascus, therefore, gains nothing, loses much, and there's no obvious correlative gain. Why, then, would Bashar Assad choose to kill Hariri?

Maybe it was just plain stupidity.

"The elder Assad was a tactical genius, even if his rule ultimately failed (he never regained the Golan Heights, never came close to destroying Israel, and rode Syria's economy and culture into the ground). The younger Assad combines strategic blindness with tactical ineptitude.
"Mr. Assad's response – pretending to denounce the murder, putting a relative in charge of the intelligence services, purchasing SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, and announcing a mutual defense pact with Tehran – points to his cluelessness about the trouble he has stirred up for himself."

Update: Via Vodka Pundit:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

And Vodka Pundit adds:

"The speaker, Walid Jumlatt, was up until quite recently a major purveyor of anti-American Arabist conspiracy theorizing, which makes his current stance and statements all the more exhilirating. If we can reach people who used to say stuff like this, there's more than hope: there's fundamental progress."

I don't think I can go as far as Vodka Pundit goes. True, the statements on the other side of his link are pretty crazy anti-American rants. But his Jumlatt quote emphasizes the (obviously important) actions of the Iraqi voters, without expressly or impliedly giving credit to America. Clearly we see fundamental progress in terms of a belief in the transformative power of democracy, but not in America's reputation in that region. For what that's worth.

Update: Lebanon's Daily Star looks like it prefers anti-Syria headlines, but the Syria Times focuses its reporting on a Lebanese politician who rebuffed British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and bascially called for other nations to butt out. Syria Today doesn't have anything to say about Lebanon on today's home page. It doesn't look like a popular topic in Syria.

The "Who Do You Think You Are?" Quiz

Frank J stopped cleaning his pistol long enough to come up with the following quiz. You can find his answers here.

1. Who the hell do you think you are?

I am Sobek Pundit, son of Neith, a crocodile-headed Egyptian deity responsible for devouring people who piss me off. I was worshipped mostly in the Faiyum region of Egypt, but since that gig kind of died down, I'm now worshipped in the blogosphere. Also, I'm studying law, to pass the time between devourings.

2. So, other than blogging, what's your job? Do you work at some fast food joint, dumbass?

I make silly photoshops of Mr. Potato Head and read. Mostly I read law, but I read classic literature to keep my snob-factor up.

3. Do you have like any experience in journalism, idiot?

I started undergrad as a journalism major, and then realized my ability to think critically disqualified me for the job. Other than that, I wrote a feature for my High School paper about paintballing. I was censored for using the word "hell."

4. Do you even read newspapers?

I like Garfield. That is one fat kitty.

5. Do you watch any other news than FOX News propaganda, you ignorant fool?

If I had a TV, I would only watch PBS (again, for snobbishness reasons). Also, the Simpsons. Does the Simpsons count as news?

6. I bet you're some moron talk radio listener too, huh?

Occasionally. My favorite is Neal Boortz. He is a vicious S.O.B.

7. So, do you get a fax from the GOP each day for what to say, you @#$% Republican parrot?

No, the Republican Party communicates with me, as per my instructions, by writing coded messages on papyrus, delivered by a kid in an Ibis-headed mask who I call "Thoth."

8. Why do you and your blogger friends want to silence and fire everyone who disagrees with you, fascist?

I don't want to silence them. I prefer when they make noise, so I can find and devour them.

9. Are you completely ignorant of other countries, or do you actually own a passport?


10. Have you even been to another country, you dumb hick?

Does Egypt count? Also, Canada, Italy, Mexico, and a nightmarish layover in Austria.

11. If you're so keen on the war, why haven't you signed up, chickenhawk?

The U.S. armed forces don't make helmets that fit a crocodile's head.

12. Do you have any idea of the horrors of war? Have you ever reached into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face?

Not as such, no, but I did help Isis gather the scattered parts of her husband, Osiris. Let me tell you, by the time I found his severed head at the bottom of the Nile, it had been water-logged for days. "Pile of goo" doesn't even come close to describing what that was like. I told Isis to hook up with someone else, but no, she stuck with Osiris. Whatever.

13. Have you ever reached into any pile of goo?


14. Once again, who the hell do you think you are?!

I am Sobek Pundit, son of Neith. I'm ready to get my snack on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Unpopulist has some stats from a recent poll, asking who America supports to run in '08. He is quite pleased with the fact that Al Gore has 20% support (second to Hillary, with 30).

"I have to be honest with you, I hadn't even begun to allow myself to contemplate a Gore '08 run. But now that I'm thinking about it, thinking about it feels pretty good."

Perfectly understandable. And I know the feeling well - it's the feeling you get when you realize your party is a virtual shoe-in for the Presidency for the next century, because the opposition has gone completely crazy. Exhibit A: Howard Dean for DNC chief. Exhibits B and C: widespread support for Clinton and Gore.

But there's a problem here, and most Republicans recognize it to one degree or another. It's the problem Bill Ardolino and The Unabrewer (who has more links) refer to when they threaten to leave the coalition that election Dubya. Consider:

"The concept of a 'wasted vote' means little to me, as I’m beginning to feel I’m wasting my vote anyway when choosing between a Democrat who spends too much money or a Republican who spends too much money."

It's hard to disagree with that. Of course, it's all a matter of priorities, and people like Bill and Joe R. seem to have hopped aboard the Bush bandwagon because they rank "Not Getting Blown to Smithereens" a notch or two higher than "Fiscal Responsibility." If the Dems seem content with Deaning themselves into irrelevance, the "Not Getting Blown to Smithereens" issue gets taken off the table, because only serious candidates will be on the wrong side of it, and Fiscal Responsibility takes its turn in the spotlight. And of course, Bush has been roundly criticized for his spending like - well, like a Democrat - so the issue has that much more immediacy, should the Dems continue to go the way of the Dodo.

In this light, I had a conversation with a friend who wants to see a serious Democratic party because it forces Republicans to compromise. I completely agree with the sentiment. I don't want Republicans spending us into the ground any more than I want Dems doing it. So compromise is good.

But what if the only option is to compromise with lunatics? What kind of compromise is that? We've seen how well it works to compromise with the mentally unstable in North Korea - it gets us nowhere, because the guy on the other side of the table doesn't seem to get the whole "we're bigger than you, but we'd rather talk about our problems that smash you like a bug" concept. Barbara Boxer's idea of compromise seems to be her staying right where she is while conservatives abandon their principles and convert to liberalism. What kind of compromise is that? Why should voters expect Republicans to yield to the psychotic ravings of oversized children is pantsuits?

Again, I don't mean to trash on the idea of compromise, because I think it's vital. Irresponsible spending hurts the nation regardless of who writes the check. But Republicans fast-tracked certain bits of legislation by physically preventing Democratic committee members from participating in drafting bills. I want to smack them upside the head for that. On the other hand, does America really benefit from letting a barking moonbat into Committee to waste everyone's time spouting fevered conspiracy theories in front of cameras, when they're supposed to be discussing an energy bill (for example)? What is the use in compromise, if the other side doesn't seem to get that concept?

Where the Downer Ending Rules

Dave has an interesting discussion about movies that need a bad ending. The Unabrewer says in the comments that Minority Report "totally wimped out" at the end, and I agree. But in order to sound more intellectual, I'll discuss why that is in the context of two plays by Bertolt Brecht, "Der Jasager" and "Der Neinsager."

Brecht wrote a play that centers on a moral dilemma. A small town needs medicine or many will die. A small group of people travels through the mountains to get to a city where medicine can be found. A boy in the group has a bad heart, and the group realizes they can't carry him through the narrow mountain passes. They must either turn around - in which case the boy will live, but many in the town will die - or leave the boy to die of exposure. The boy chooses death, the group throws him off a cliff, and continues on its journey.

People read Brecht's play and complained about the ending. So Brecht "re-wrote" it with the boy living, and everyone is happy. But in the second play, Brecht cheats. The whole "town needs medicine" part is left out - it's just a group of people going for a walk in the mountains. The ending is happy, but at the expense of the moral dilemma that made the first play worth reading in the first place.

That said, I recommend the following movies be re-made to reflect the subtleties of my analysis:
- Luke Skywalker defeats the Emperor, then gets on the phone to the rebels and calls off the attack. Luke then orders the completion of the Death Star, and goes on a drunken spree throughout the galaxy blowing up planets that "look at him funny."
- In Tron, the Mom trips over the power cable and all the computer memory is irrevocably lost.
- In Aliens, Carter Burke should successfully persuade the marines that the "substantial dollar value" attached to the facility is, indeed, a persuasive factor. Weyland Yutani successfully concludes a peace treaty with the Aliens, who promise not to invade earth, in exchange for weapons-grade plutonium that they promise to use for their power plants.
- At the ending of the original The Blob, instead of freezing the Blob, it should be forced to make a heart-wrenching decision about which of its asexually-produced spores lives, and which one dies.

(Updated to avoid being compared to the New York Times).

I've been wrong before...

"One week after the brutal slaying of former Premier Rafik Hariri, as tens of thousands of protesters chanted "Syria out" as they marched from the scene of Hariri's death to Martyrs Square in central Beirut, Syrian President Bashar Assad was indicating his willingness to withdraw his troops from Lebanon, in line with the Taif Accord."

"After meeting with Assad, Arab League chief Amr Moussa declared Assad's determination to start the withdrawal process."

From the Daily Star. Meanwhile, the article makes it look like the Lebanese government is not as willing to accomodate the protestors as Bashar Assad is.

Also from the Daily Star, Bush and Chirac both call for Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon, and it looks like Syrians, too, want Syria out.

Update: ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that more than one hundred thousand protestors hit the streets in Beirut. That's more impressive than CNN's original "several thousand."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lebanon; or Much Ado About ...

From, yesterday:

Syrian Cabinet minister Boutheina Shaaban told CNN from Damascus the assassination was "deeply against the interests of Syria." And she appeared to suggest the United States had some involvement.
"I don't like to point the finger at anyone," she said, " ... but we see it as part of destabilizing the entire region in the name of bringing democracy and freedom."
"There are some people who are trying to hijack this terrible act of terrorism ... for their own political purposes," she said. "Even when they said Syria is morally responsible ... it's equivalent to saying the United States is morally responsible for 9/11. This is terrorism ... and nobody is immune to terrorism anymore."
Shaaban said the assassination was an act "targeting the unity of Lebanon, the stability of Syria and the relations of Syria and Lebanon and the entire world."
"We see who has an interest in destabilizing the region, and it is not Syria," she said.

She then went into a fifteen-minute rant about the Joooooooos.

I made an optimistic comment here, and Hans Bricks also has an interestingly-titled post here. Arthur Chrenkoff has a run-down that you've probably already seen, since Instapundit linked it yesterday, and it, too, has some conspiracy theories about Americans and Joooooooos. His sources say the assassination of Rafiq Hariri was probably not a suicide bombing, but more likely involved a bomb buried under the pavement. The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star has a column titled "Syria has a unique opportunity to fulfill the course of history," namely by getting out of Lebanon as quickly as possible.

So, are the times a'changin'? Maybe, but I think probably not. At least, not without some further stimulus than the death of Rafiq Hariri. Lebanese opposition groups have long been opposed to the Syrian occupation, but the occupation is and will be governed by Syria, not Lebanon. Nothing important to that calculus has changed over the past week. It is true that the opposition is vocal, is motivated, is multi-cultural, -ethnic and -religious, but that has always been true, and the opposition is a very minor segment of the population.

I'm not trying to crap all over hopes for an independent (and therefore, I would hope, more Westernized) Lebanon. I'm just saying there must be some other ingredient added to the mix of the links I've provided. A U.S.-led invasion of Syria would likely do the trick. Solid evidence of Syrian involvement in Hariri's death might do the trick. But until we get that new ingredient, I don't see the current "peaceful intifada" going anywhere.

SobekPundit Denies Rumors That He Has Arrested bin Laden

Having recently received a coveted Instalanche, I'm now shooting for even bigger game - the Drudge-o-lanche. And since I see he's prominently featuring a piece about Iran's denial that they have arrested Osama bin Laden, I would like to take this opportunity to squelch any and all rumors that I have incarcerated the terrorist mastermind in my Louisiana home. If you see any stories suggesting otherwise, feel free to disregard them.

In other news, the elusive pundit still refuses to comment on wide-spread gossip about whether or not he has "really spectacular tits."

Update: While working on a post about Lebanon, I was consulting some of my intelligence captures (I tap foreign communications lines as a hobby) and came across something you might find interesting. It seems bloggers weren't the only ones surprised by rumors of a hinted bin Laden capture:

[First voice]...almost fell over. What is this? I thought we were cool, Homed!
[Second voice] Well I don't know where the rumors came from, but we have obviously not arrested you. It must be a Jew trick.
[First voice] It'd better be. When I read that, I just about spit my margarita all over the ... [transmission garbled].
[First voice] ... camel had the sweetest ... [transmission garbled]. 'Baby got hump,' you know what I'm saying?
[laughter, transmission garbled].
[Second voice] Of course Kos is an idiot. But as long as he's so useful, we're going to keep sending the checks...

The tape goes on for several more minutes, but it's mostly just a discussion about the hockey season getting cancelled.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


In the Guns n' Roses hit "Sweet Child of Mine," the last time Axl Rose sings the word "child," he holds it for fifteen notes.

The more you know.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Ben & Jerry's Honors Michael Moore

Idea stolen from Mellow Drama

Idea stolen from Kronology

Other possibilities that are too long to stick in a Photoshop while maintaining legibility (mostly stolen from Kronology):
Bowling for Beer Belly
Dude, Where's My Belt Buckle?
Roger and Me and a Bucket of Chicken and Three Pizzas, a Pint of Gravy, and Two Blocks of Cheese

Daddy Long Legs

The scene: SobekPundit's bedroom, evening, as the Pundit and his wife are preparing for bed.

Wife (gestures): Oh my gosh, kill that thing.

Sobek (looks at the ceiling): Where? Oh that? It's just a daddy long legs.

Wife: I don't care what it is, I want you to kill it.

(Sobek thinks for a moment, then grabs a piece of paper off his desk and stands on a chair. It is apparent that Sobek is trying to capture the arachnid, rather than kill it).

Wife: What are you doing? Just kill it!

Sobek: You can't kill daddy long legs, and more than you can kill ladybugs.

Wife (unconvinced): I killed one the other day.

Sobek (dismayed): You can't kill daddy long legs. They don't bother anyone. They're like mockingbirds. It's a sin to kill a mockingbird, because they don't bother anybody.

Wife: If that thing falls on our bed, or gets away, you are in so much trouble.

(Sobek has maneuvered the daddy long legs on to the paper, but the spooked bug immediately starts running all over the place, and quickly falls to the floor).

Wife: It's on the floor! Get it! Get it!

Sobek: Go get me a cup or something.

Wife: I told you to just kill it. If you take it outside, it'll just find its way back in somehow.

(Sobek doubts this. There isn't a lot of room in a daddy long legs for a brain, so they probably don't waste space remembering long-distance geography or harboring grudges. He repeatedly scoops the now-panicked daddy long legs onto the paper, but it keeps crawling off, or onto Sobek's hands, and falling back down).

Sobek: Just go get me a cup.

Wife (leaving to get a cup): If you lose that thing...

Sobek (realizing his sexual privileges are at stake): Hurry!

(Wife returns, Sobek quickly gets the bug into the cup, caps the cup with the paper, and exits. We hear off-stage that Sobek leaves through the front door for maybe thirty seconds, then comes back in. Wife is still fretting, and intently scanning the walls and ceiling for signs of other invaders. Sobek returns).

Sobek: You'll be happy to know that I left the daddy long legs on the other side of the street, that I put the cup in the dishwasher, the paper in the trash, and I washed my hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Wife: Thanks. (Kisses Sobek).

Sobek: I can't believe you wanted me to kill a daddy long legs. They're like ladybugs ... you're not supposed to kill them.

1. Is Sobek right?
2. Even if he is right, should his wife be angry with him for the next several days?
3. Does the wife have the right to coat every surface in the home with an inch and a half of Raid?
4. Is Sobek a big wuss, or was his fascination with the extraordinarily delicate and graceful legs of the arachnid indicative of a sensitive - but masculine - side? When considering number 4, keep in mind that Sobek actually takes pleasure from the deaths of mosquitoes, and thinks PETA is a bunch of lunatics.

Lawrence Summers; or, They Put Lucifer in Charge at Harvard

If I were a doctor, I would be a surgeon. The way my mind works, I want to actually see a problem, physically manipulate it solve that problem, and be done with it, so I would rather open up someone's chest and stitch up a hole than give them drugs and monitor subjective statements of reactions over the next several months.

Even pharmacology, however, is closely connected with objectively-verifiable, tangible results, it just works on a microscopic level. So I would rather do pharm than psych. Psych is to pharm as pharm is to surgery - to an even greater degree, you have to diagnose the problem and track and efforts to fix it based on subjective interpretations and little hard, tangible evidence.

With that in mind, I find the Lawrence Summers saga very disturbing. In case you haven't heard, the Harvard Dean speculated out loud that maybe there are more men in hard sciences because men are more naturally attuned to hard science. Unsurprisingly, the PC world freaked out, and is still freaking out, according to this CNN report, in spite of a series of apologies (no apologies from Ward Churchill, however. The blogosphere reaction (from what I've seen) has been predictable - one half thinks Summers needs to be skinned alive and thrown into the ocean, another half complains about PC thugs run amok. VodkaPundit has two indispensable quotes from George Will, the latter showing a female professor getting offended by the gender stereotype, and reacting in perfect alignment with a gender stereotype:

"MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins. . . 'felt I was going to be sick. My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow.' And, 'I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.' She said that if she had not bolted from the room, 'I would've either blacked out or thrown up.'"

You're a credit to womanhood, Dr. Hopkins.

And Cokie and Steven Roberts wrote a column, outraged by Summers' stereotyping, that apparently sought to express outrage at the stereotype by claiming - that girls are smarter than boys? An odd approach, to be sure.

I started this post off by discussing the fine points of surgery versus pharmacology. On a very macroscopic and obvious level, men are different from women. If you haven't figured that out for yourself, I'm sure there are plenty of anatomy text books or adult web sites that can help you out. No one can deny these differences, and no one really does.

We are different on a microscopic level as well. When I was in elementary human anatomy class in undergrad, I preferred the gross anatomy portion much more than the microscopic stuff, including the hormone stuff. Gross anatomy is tangible, real, immediate. You can see for yourself if the femur isn't working properly because it's broken in half, and you can see for yourself why muscle A has to insert at a given point on bone B. At the hormonal level, you can't see any of it. It can be objectively verified that men and women, at the microscopic level, are different (ovaries simply don't do what testicles do - that should be clear enough).

Now the open question is whether our psychological anatomy is different, as well. It's not really a field that interests me, for the reasons I stated at the beginning. Psychological anatomy can't be determined through dissection and cataloguing, and a microscope and slides won't help you. Any documentation, like diagnosing psychological problems, must be done through painstaking evaluation of subjective statements over a long period of time.

And as Lawrence Summers just demonstrated, no one is allowed to do that.

The very idea that I might be psychologically different from a woman is anathema to the Academy. "Gender is a cultural construct!" is the mantra, and woe to the man who dares defy it. Obviously gender isn't a cultural construct on the macroscopic level; obviously it's not a cultural construct on the microscopic or hormonal level. So the mantra must refer to the psychological level - and no one is allowed to even ask questions about that level. Assertions are fine, as Cokie and Steven Roberts demonstrate, so long as the assertions line up on the correct side of American politics. But since when is respectable science based on nothing more than assertion?

I'm not trying to evaluate the substance of what Summers said. Maybe it's true, and maybe it isn't true, that men are better than women at hard sciences. I haven't read the sociology, and I don't care to read it, and I don't have the training to evaluate the sociology if I did read it. But I find it eminently objectionable that leftist dogma forbids those who are interested from questioning feminist holy writ.

Back to Normal

Okay, I'm all done scandal-mongering. Curiously enough, I got two Insta-links from the same, recycled Photoshop, maybe three trolls, and one e-mail from a less-than-well-wisher. It seems that if you want some serious traffic, the trick is to make fun of Instapundit. That's all well and good, but I'm not about to turn this into the "Photoshopping Instapundit" blog, so I'm heading back to my boring old routine.

But first, a few items of business.

Mr. Snitch was enterprising enough to send me a link, perhaps in the hopes of surfing some Insta-traffic. Nothing wrong with that, that I can see. I laughed at this and this. I think my Insta-traffic is mostly gone, but I'll be checking in once in a while.

"Harmless" sent me the following, quoted in its entirety (and slightly edited): "saw your link at Glenn's--more 2nd rate bulls**t and raised much after the fact to let us know you are still busy being a funny guy..Now take a look at what is happening to the nation and make more funny jokes--nothing personal."

Okay, now I feel terrible. As long as anything bad is happening to the nation, I shouldn't make jokes. That was immature of me. In my defense, my second-rate, ahem, stuff was raised last October.

Clifford Grout e-mailed to check up on my New Orleans bona fides. In the interest of full disclosure, my profile says my location is New Orleans, not that I'm from here. And more specifically, I'm in Metairie, but how many people know where that is? And thank you, Clifford, for the restaurant recommendations. On a student's salary (i.e. nothing) I might not be able to follow up, but I'll see what I can do.

I'd also like to point out the comparative reactions to my photoshops. When Rusty Shackleford joked about Atrios being gay (and I kind of jumped on his traffic wave), Atrios kind of shrugged it off, but his readers went absolutely berserk. It was amazing. It was enough to make Fat Kid blush, and Fat Kid is pretty filthy. But when I joked about Glenn being a former midget stripped (and Slublog (linked above) is now saying he was a former Village Person), he laughed and sent a massive wave of traffic. It seems that one side of the political aisle is strung more tightly than the other.

On a technical note, for some reason the image quality of photoshopped pictures changes between my Photoshop-like program and when I actually post them on the blog. On my Andrew Sullivan picture, the head and neck were seamless, but now that the picture is up, the quality is terrible.

I'd like to thank all the Instapundit readers who more than doubled my life-time traffic in a single day, but none of them are here, and not likely to return. Thanks to all of you who were here before the spike. You know who you are. But now it's time to get back to trenchant political commentary and Mr. Potato Head in humerous guises.

Update: I forgot to mention, The Man has another Photoshop/caption contest. I have an entry, but I think The Man has me beat on this one. That wacky Jared...

Thursday, February 17, 2005


The Blogosphere was shocked today when Andrew Sullivan was "outed" as a married heterosexual! Sullivan declined to comment on a scandalous photo of himself in Larry Flynt's Hustler Club, wearing a wedding ring.


Okay, I'll be honest with you. There's nothing shocking about this picture. Disturbing, sure. But not really shocking.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Given that Goldstien seems insistent on throwing me traffic beyond my wildest dreams, I may as well dig up this old nugget, originally posted back in October (follow the link for the back story), at the request of Cameron Woods.

At first, I assumed that the scandal only went as far as uncovering popular columnist James Lileks (center) as the former leader of the Munchkinland Chippendales. But then I noticed that the guy on the far left looked familiar...

Could it possibly be that The Blogfather was formerly a midget stripper?

Update: Glenn's wife reacts: "You look good as a stripper!" I guess as long as she's cool with it...

Update: In case you're new to SobekPundit, let me direct you to some posts I think worked out particularly well.

John Kerry Stuff:
Here, here, here, and here.

Miscellaneous/I'm a Big Geek:
Here, here, here (the second one; not the first one), here, here, here, here, here (not many people got this when I originally posted it, but what the heck), here, and here.

The Harrowing, Untold Tale of the Canary Islands:
Here. Updated here.

Leon Trotsky in Modern Movies:
Here, here and here.

The Complete Mr. Potato Head Round-Up:
Original here; my work here, here, here, here and here.

Update: Welcome Insta-readers. I hope you enjoy the site. I'd also like to let you know that Dave from Garfield Ridge is my premiere source of information on Department of Defense and the impending monkey invasion. The Man takes care of my caption and photoshop contest needs. Liberal Larry is the most under-rated liberal conspiracy theorist in the entire blogosphere. Are You Conservative? satisfies my need for pop quizzes. Hans Bricks recently promised to stop sucking. Nick Kronos may be the most under-appreciated analyst I've seen. Brian B used to have a blog, but now it's more of a place for him to discuss his new baby. Average Joe also has a new baby, which inspired me to type a lengthy post about poop. Fat Kid helped me develop the Iraqi version of a Drudge Siren. Rusty Shackleford doesn't know how to spell my name, and it fills me with murderous rage. Patton doesn't post often enough, and he's not the guy from Faith No More (or so he says). If you don't know Jeff, you're beyond help. Dan recently found the truth about Atrios and Oliver Willis. Jennifer is my fashion maven. Unpopulist is so confusing, I have to assume he's smarter than me. John from Wuzzadem makes me wish I were funny.

Misleading Headline of the Day

It's misleading because you just naturally assume it's about Kos.

Michael Jackson Mystery Illness

Michael Jackson fell mysteriously ill on the way to the court today. I don't really care, but I had to introduce Michele's post calling for speculation on the nature of the illness. This isn't exactly on-topic, but I don't care.

Treacher's tombstone
Unabrewer's tombstone

Make your own

This is Just Wierd

Dave has a link to video from the Conan O'Brien show, with guests Dan Castellaneta and Harry Shearer from The Simpsons. The do a bunch of voices, and seeing them come out of actual human mouths is a little hard to process.

Also, I see Dave has been officially endorsed by Billy Dee "Lando Calrissian" Williams. That's quite an honor.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Earlier today I linked Rusty Shackleford, who said he had found lefty blogger Atrios' gay personal ad. Because I thought it was funny at the time, I linked the story, although in retrospect I must admit I was maybe being a little irresponsible.

But then I remembered a picture of Atrios I had seen during the DNC Convention, and suddenly the pieces started to fit...

That mysterious half-smile, the unflattering yet arousing red light... Wonder what's got his attention so captivated...

Update: Now that I've been linked by both Rusty and Jeff from Protein Wisdom, I should note that I have no reason, other than a certain suggestive personal ad, to believe that Atrios is gay. If you plan on shrieking hysterically in my comments, try to keep that in mind.

Also, Jeff tells me I've earned the right to post the Citizen Journalist logo on my sidebar. I'll display it with pride.

A Day Late, But...

It's a day late and kinda sloppy, but I was busy yesterday, and I don't want to put more time into a Photoshop than is justified by the comedic premise.

The Eason Jordan Scandal: The Only Summary You Need

John from WuzzaDem has a post to catch you up if you missed out on the Eason Jordan flap. It will save you time if you were busy having a baby or something.

And if you agree with Paul's statement that "the 'civil-rights' movement has outlived its usefulness," you'll enjoy this post at Wizbang.

And other Wizbang posts wonder (along with many others) why liberals are so upset that Jeff Gannon is gay. I've wondered that myself. Why do liberals hate gays so much? Rusty Shackleford has a million links, including a link to Atrios' gay personal ad that got him a slew of comments from lefties.

Cameron points out that the required stupidity level to be a teacher just got bumped up a notch. Follow his link.

VodkaPundit has a story about unintended consequences in a California taxation system. Heh.

Fat Kid has a photoshop contest. What, does he think I have nothing better to do than Photoshop all day? Crap, the pressure's on now. I'm thinking I'll do something potato-oriented...

Public Service Announcement for Louisiana Drivers

Hey, Louisiana drivers. You know how sometimes you'll be driving along, and you'll hear this loud siren behind you, and a funny-looking vehicle with bright, flashing lights comes into your view? If it looks like a truck with a big box instead of a bed, then that's called an "ambulance." And those bright, flashing lights and loud siren are an ambulance's way of saying, "hey, I really, really need to get past you, so if you'd kindly pull over, that would be peachy." And I know you're probably thinking, "but I, too, have to get where I'm going. Who does this ambulance think he is, assuming wherever he's going is more important than where I'm going?" Well the answer to that is, there is either someone in the back of the ambulance who may die if you don't pull over, or else the ambulance is on the way to pick up someone who might die if you don't pull over.

For those of you who already knew that, I apologize for wasting your time. But it seems like no one in Louisiana knew it, so I thought I'd spread it around.

I was in a long line of cars this morning, and I heard a siren, so I immediately pulled over when I saw the ambulance behind me. Louisiana drivers apparently interpreted my pulling over as an invitation for them to drive past me and continue to ignore the siren. God help me if I ever get in an accident around here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

What's Better than Taking First Place in a Caption Contest?

Taking first and second place.


Also, here's a t-shirt I think Ace would enjoy.

Also, if you are dating someone, don't click this link. But if you are either married or not dating, go for it. Dave has changed his background color to pink. I assume it's in honor of Valentine's Day, rather than to send some other message that I have not yet deciphered. But I'm working on it...

Also, Liberal Larry has a sophisticated break-down of the North Korea issue. Sample:

In 1994, it came to President Bill Clinton's attention that North Korea was
pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Knowing that a show of strength would earn
the North Koreans' respect, he sent Jimmy Carter to negotiate. Using his vast
experience in appeasing the Soviets, Iron Balls Carter quickly persuaded North
Korea to abandon their nuclear ambitions. In return for scrapping their nuclear
weapons programs, the U.S. would provide them with the means to build nuclear
weapons, along with millions of dollars in humanitarian aid so they wouldn't
have to divert any resources from their nuclear weapons programs in order to
feed the people. He further convinced North Korea that should they ever break
their promise and continue their nuclear weapons programs, neither side should
acknowledge it.

Then along comes Bush, messing with the status quo. My only problem with Larry's analysis is that he relies in part on an article by Bill Kristol, who, as I've previously documented, is a male stripper.

When Can Zealous Advocacy Bite You in the Butt?

Louisiana insurance commissioner Bob Odom just got criminal charges against him dropped. He was accused of bad stuff, including bribery, theft, money laundering and false tax returns. Good news for Odom, right?

I wonder - and this is all probably purely academic - if that's not something of a pyrrhic victory. The charges were dropped, not because Odom didn't do the things of which he was accused, but because the judge ruled the prosecutor took too long to go to trial. So now Odom can say quite truthfully that he's never been convicted of misusing his elected office, but that's a bit of a distortion, because of the reason he wasn't convicted. His lawyer, of course, had a duty of zealous advocacy, including the duty to get charges dropped rather than go to trial and clear his name, and as a result of that duty, Odom's name is by no means clear (at least not in the eyes of people who read newspapers).

I say again, this is probably purely academic, because I live in Louisiana. Everyone down here just assumes that if he was elected, he probably belongs in jail for any number of things. Being corrupt as a UN peace-keeper doesn't necessarily count against you in this state. The list of examples is simply too long to bother with. It's just a fact of political life.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Triumph(s) of the Blogosphere

Presented for your consideration:

This week, CNN News executive Eason Jordan resigned after telling people at a news conference that U.S. soldiers in Iraq have been deliberately targeting reporters. When asked for proof, evidence, or anything at all to back up his claim, he came up with nothing. Now I suspect he's looking at the lecture circuit, where he will be received with accolades at most universities as a martyr of the vast right-wing brownshirt agenda.

This is a triumph of the right-wing blogosphere because the Mainstream Media, of course, didn't really want to report the Eason Jordan story, but bloggers (and talk radio, I assume) kept the story alive long enough in spite of the MSM's blackout.

Also this week, left-wing bloggers brought down that monolith of conservative reporting, Jeff Gannon, prompting Ace to come up with the top ten conservatice reactions to the "story." Ace is proving to be a bit hysterical on the issue, composing elegaic poems in Gannon's honor, and generally brooding over the issue. You can find more on this burning issue, courtesy of Bill from INDC, here and here.

This is a triumph of the left-wing blogosphere, because they apparently think that there's someone out there in the world, other than Jeff Gannon and Ace of Spades, who cares about Jeff Gannon.

The main theme among conservative commentators seems to be this: Jeff Gannon is a nobody, and so nobody cares that he was "brought down," although it is somewhat ironic that Leftists have been crowing about outing Gannon as a homosexual (a decidedly curious thing to crow about, unless you think there's something wrong with homosexuality, which the Left ostensibly does not). But Eason Jordan is a somebody, and his head goes on the trophy wall right next to Dan Rather, and therefore conservatives rule and lefties are big doody-heads.

The one thing I have not seen discussed anywhere, and yet it immediately struck me as the most important part of the Gannon story, is the serious breach of protocol in Gannon's choice of pseudonyms. You see, Gannon is the villain in the old Legend of Zelda video games - the archetypal bad guy. It would be like picking Vader, or Lucifer, or "The Red Guy from Tron" as your last name. As all conservatives and muck-raking liberals know, conservatives are pure evil. But for goodness' sakes, we aren't supposed to be that obvious! Bush may be Hitler, but that doesn't mean conservatives are supposed to give away the whole plot! Who does this Jeff Gannon think he is, tipping the conservative hand like that?

All of which makes me think he's really a liberal plant, pretending to be a conservative. He probably thought, "when I get burned, I'd better have a really sinister-sounding last name. Who was that pig-looking guy at the end of Zelda?"

Friday, February 11, 2005

A SobekPundit Landmark

Today I got my 10,000th unique daily hit. I don't know who it was, but the person followed a link from Dave at Garfield Ridge, so thanks, Dave, for the contribution.

To celebrate this obviously special occasion, I'm preparing a photoshop that will accurately memorialize its importance. Coming soon. Stay on the edge of your seats...

Okay, it took way too long to do this, and it doesn't look all that great. So I guess it's kind of an anti-landmark. But whatever. I'm not getting paid to do this.

Update: Crud, I just saw it as seen on the blog by you, the viewers, and it looks even worse. In higher definition you can see rock patterns on Mr. Potato Head's face, and on the blog, the picture is shrunk down so it just looks gray.

I'm just not having a good blogging week. We'll pretend this whole week, Sobek was on vacation, and the few posts you've seen were done by his retarded younger brother, Andrew, who is in Russia, freezing his butt off like a sucker.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I Seem to Have Hit a Dry Spell

If my posting has gotten a little sparse these days, blame the mainstream media. I rely on reporters to tell me the stories that get me riled up enough to write long, scathing tirades, but the media hasn't been doing its job these days. Let's review:

North Korea has nuclear weapons. While true, this is certainly not news. Nicholas Kristof has a column claiming that the North Korea situation is all America's fault. This is also not news.

The Bush administration is pressuring Iran on their nuclear program. This is also not news. Neither is the Iranian response, which consists of fiery rhetoric (literally). In other "news," the capital of Iran is Tehran, and Grand Ayatollah Khomeni is still dead, and burning in Hell.

Some British royals are doing something or other. This is not news, nor is the fact that I don't care what British royals are doing. Hey, at least this story doesn't involve Nazi insignia. is running a poll right now that shows 72% of readers don't care about this story.

Hackers are targeting computer systems in Alaska. While I suppose the specifics of the story might be news, nobody cares about Alaska unless they can use it to scare people about the Bush administration, and hackers are always targeting something or other, so this, too, is not news.

The Michael Jackson trial took a stunning turn when ... okay, I confess, nothing about this story is news.

Lawyers are terrorists. Yeah, we know. Or at least, they are willing to help terrorists, so long as they can charge by the hour. Not news.

Earthquake in Arkansas! It's a 4.2? Please. Bill Clinton wrestling himself into jogging shorts was bigger seizmic news. The writer of this story gets so bored with the lack of actual news that he or she has to mention that there once was a 7.5 earthquake in Missouri, in 1811 or 1812. Yippee.

The Pope is still alive. Look, perhaps I should be a little less cavalier about the health of the spiritual leader of a substantial portion of the Earth's population, but the man is old, and his health has been off-and-on for a while now, so this isn't really news. In a related story, reporters were able to confirm that he is Catholic.

Saudis voted in an historic election! Hey, that sounds good, right? It's a little odd, though, that the story uses the phrase "absolute monarchy" in the present tense. I don't mean to crap all over the (male) Saudis and their new-found boundless political freedom, but I would be more enthusiastic if the vote meant anything.

Have I made my point yet? I can mention that Israeli and Palestinian politicians are working on a cease-fire agreement they came to, but given that Palestinian hard-liner groups say the cease-fire doesn't apply to them, it's not really news. Also, Democrat leaders are threatening Dems who cooperate with the White House. Let me try to come up with a teaser for this one: "Dems Criticize the President for his Partisanship, Act Like Hypocritical Jackanapes." But of course, that's not really news.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire Already Broken?

As most or all of you know, Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed a cease-fire agreement today, after a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. I didn't report this because I was too busy to get to the computer, but also because verbal agreements between Israel and Palestine seem to be worth the paper they are printed on. That's not to say I had no hope - quite the opposite - but that I had little more than hope.

Punditry is an interesting thing. I suspect most people listen to talk radio or watch cable news because they want to know what's going to happen. It's not so much about what already has happened, except to the extent that past occurences assist in future prognostications. Blog hits, here and elsewhere, climbed enormously right before the elections, and I think most of it had to do with very anxious people wanting to know what would happen, and they looked to the augurs of our time. We're like gypsies gazing into the crystal ball. We're more respectable than that, because we claim to build our case on rigorous analysis or what-not, but we're probably no more accurate than the carnival gypsy.

But people get anxious about the future, and it's interesting to see what happens when they do. When conservative bloggers said they thought Kerry would win, their commenters freaked out, gave all sorts of reasons the blogger must be wrong, defended Bush passionately, or somberly admitted that they, too, feared the worst. There really was nothing there to assail, because all the blogger was doing was guessing.

Well, it's not just guessing. Some of it is an attempt at persuasion, and some of it is simply "rallying the troops," the kind of thing I saw most often at Daily Kos and the like. But of the two main questions, I think "what will happen?" is more pressing than "what should happen?" and when the pundit tries to answer the first, a thoughtful reader will realize that it's just guess-work. We're cyber-gypsies.

So tonight a friend mentioned the cease-fire and asked me whether I thought it would hold up. Regardless of the answer, it looks like an important event. People have fretted about whether Mahmoud Abbas would act like the moderate he made himself out to be before he was elected to succeed Arafat, and some conservatives have flat-out stated he would not be. And yet here is Abbas, meeting with and shaking the hand of Ariel Sharon. Consider this short summary:

"Sharon said Israel will cease its military operations in all locations in return for Palestinians' ending violence against Israelis."

Abbas committed himself to that? Well, the pessimist in me points out that Arafat made similar promises, and he either didn't have the power to bring about such a result, or he never intended such a result, or possibly both. But still, the optimist in me says it's important, symbolically, yes?

And Sharon's side of the deal is important as well. I haven't wasted too many tears for the dead Palestinian murderers, but Israel tends to retaliate indiscriminately, and I do think it's a tragedy when Palestinian bystanders are killed or injured. So Sharon's committment, if it is anything more than empty words, are very important.

And here's another tidbit that looks promising:

"Jordan and Egypt, meanwhile, announced their governments would reinstate ambassadors to Israel after a four-year withdrawal, embassy officials said."

Egypt's Anwar Sadat tried to make peace with Israel, and he got assassinated by an Egyptian for it. Now it looks like both Egypt and Jordan - again, assuming this is more than just empty flourishes - are willing to dial down the anti-Israel rhetoric. Let's hope for the best.

But on the opposite side of the coin, consider this, via my sister. Not much in the way of details there, but the headline at least says the cease-fire has already been breached. Has it really? All we know is that some Palestinians made an unsuccessful attempt to hurt Israelis. If they were Hamas, then the story means nothing, because Hamas never promised to abide by the agreement in the first place. It either shows that Abbas can't restrain the Palestinians in question, or that he didn't want to.

So, having set out some of the relevant facts, do I think the cease-fire agreement will hold? The safe money is on "NO." That's simply the conclusion of history repeating itself, as well as recognition of the fact that peace will put a lot of homicidal people in positions of power out of work. I strongly doubt that Abbas, whatever his sincerity may be, can successfully restrain every Palestinian terrorist who wants to go out in a blaze of glory.

But I still hope. I sincerely do. The message of the Iraq elections was widely received. Let's hope Palestine was watching.

A Question

How many hits can I get in one day without posting a single word?

Answer: 63, as of 8:23 p.m. local time. But that's with a little help from Cameron, who is helping me out during my Mardi Gras absence, as well as winning haiku contests. Congratulations, and here's your reciprocation link.

I planned on going to watch the biggest parade today (Krewe of Rex, for those of you who know about Mardi Gras parades), but we got out of the house thirty minutes later than planned, and all the roads were blocked off, so we couldn't get to where we wanted to go. We had to settle for a much crappier - but accessible - parade, and I was in such a foul mood by then, due to the stupid New Orleans streets and the stupid people blocking traffic and the stupid universe, that I didn't enjoy the parade I actually did see. But I caught some cool beads for the kidd-o, and a cup thrown by David Vitter.

You might not recognize Vitter's name, but he's the Republican who just took the open U.S. Senate seat down here, thus becoming the first Republican Senator from Louisiana since Reconstruction. So I guess my David Vitter cup is sorta cool, but Vitter is certainly no Gene Simmons. And speaking of, who here thinks Gene would make a good Congressman?

At any rate, something resembling normal posting will resume whenever I feel like it. I am one hundred and sixty-one hits away from breaking 10,000, and so I may as well keep pushing this drivel until I hit the magic number. Links from better blogs than mine are much appreciated.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Happy Mardi Blog!

While most of America is unaware, or at best faintly aware, New Orleans is celebrating Mardi Gras. Do you know what that means? It means that I have no classes Monday or Tuesday. And it means I just got beads from this guy:

I wanna rock and roll all night/ And read SobekPundit every day!

That, my friends, would be Gene Simmons. The same Gene Simmons who threw me my now-coveted Gene Simmons beads. (They look just like regular Mardi Gras beads, but they were thrown by Gene Simmons, which makes them inherently much cooler than ordinary beads).

For the record, I also asked him to stick out his tongue, but he didn't oblige. I'll assume it's because he didn't hear me.

I also got a picture of Marissa Tomei, but it's too blurry to see anything, and she was having a conversation with people on her float rather than smiling, waving, throwing beads, or offering to come home with me and tell me what George Costanza is really like. So I don't have any Marissa Tomei beads to go with my Gene Simmons beads, but under the circumstances, I'd say I did pretty well for myself.

In order to get my readers in the true spirit of Mardi Gras, I might have to post pictures of my nipples. Just to give you all the heads-up.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Sorry for the Lack of Posting

No really, I'm very sorry. It's the beginning of the week-end, and nobody reads blogs on week-ends, right? Well, actually Amish just got Fat Kid an Instalanche, and Fat Kid sent some of the Insta-traffic my way.

1. That is extremely cool. Rather than hogging the glory, he thought of the little people. It's hard to get cooler than that.

2. Crap. All the traffic I got was to a story about me cleaning feces out of my son's hair. I didn't even have the wherewithal to post something like "Welcome Insta-readers who found from via Fat Kid! Here's a bunch of links to my funny stuff that doesn't involve poop!"

I've got a screwed-up neck that has been giving me terrible headaches, and the doctor gave me some muscle-relaxants. I went back to her after a week and told her they weren't doing anything, so she gave me something else and told me to take them twice a day, instead of monce a day with the other stuff. Now I feel like the living dead. I slept almost the whole day, and when I wasn't sleeping, I was busy staring into space. And I couldn't even muster up the energy to take advantage of a vicarious Instalanche.

To make up for some lost time, and to demonstrate something about my mental state, I'm making another of my famous Potatoshops, coming soon.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Being a Dad Makes You Do Crazy Things

I'm not talking about "murdering your children" crazy, I mean "write run-on sentences" crazy.

Average Joe has absolutely no idea. He won't know "crazy" until his baby learns how to remove his own diaper. Let me give him (and any other interested parties) a free education in crazy.

One Saturday, I had a lot of studying to do, and my wife wanted to go to a thing for church. She took our son with her so I wouldn't have to lose homework time to babysitting, and they had babysitting at the church function anyway. Win-win situation, right? (Cue ominous music...)

Two hours into the four-hour church thing, she came home. It was noon, which is our son's nap time. She figured, quite reasonably, that she could come home, put kidd-o down for a nap, go back to the church thing, and I would still be able to study without any trouble. Sounded good at the time. She leaves, I keep studying. About fifteen minutes go by, and I can still hear kidd-o moving around upstairs. I decide to go upstairs and tell him to knock it off and take a nap. I open the door. I see my son sitting on the floor, smiling quite contentedly. He isn't wearing his diaper anymore. Oh no...

He had taken off his diaper, which was full of very foul-smelling poop. Despite the smell, he had reached into the stinking pile of his own feces, pulled out several hands full, and smeared it in his hair. And on his pillow. And all over his sheets. And he looks at me, and he's just smiling. Like he's thinking, "Look dad, I've smeared poop all over everything! Aren't you proud of me?"

As I said at the beginning of this post, being a dad makes you do crazy things. The rational thing to do under these circumstances would be either to murder him and quickly flee the state, or else to close the door again, wait for my wife to come home, feign ignorance when she discovered the mess for herself, and make her clean it up. But get this: I simply picked him up, stuck him in the bathtub, and calmly - without screaming once - put his pillow-case, sheets, etc. in the washing machine.

If anyone had told me that fatherhood would involve that kind of thing, I might still be single.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Refutation Opportunity

Talk radio host Tammy Bruce ... who is ... [awkward pause] a lesbian ... interviewed Little Green Footballs' Chuck Johnson today, and she claimed that only Right Wing blogs ever demonstrate a sense of humor. That seems to be true from what little I've seen at Daily "screw them" Kos or Atrios - their idea of humor seems to be various misspellings of "Republicans" (e.g. Rethuglicans, Reichpublicans, Repukes, Reich-thug-puke-ans) - but I don't want to just assume there aren't any funny libs out there, just because Al Franken couldn't tell a joke to save his wretched life.

I think Jon Stewart is funny. Even when I disagree with the premise of his joke, if it's a funny joke I laugh. And with Jon Stewart, it's usually funny.

Then again, Stewart isn't a blogger. I'm wondering if Tammy (lesbian) Bruce was right - can any of my fifty or so readers point me to a predominantly liberal blog that is actually funny? Average Joe had a good joke the other day, but the general tenor of his blog isn't such that I'd call it a funny liberal blog.

SobekPundit: State of the Blog

Doin' fine, thanks.

For National Unity, Howard Dean is Our Man

NOTE: The following is my "weekly" (never mind that I haven't done it since right before the election) article for Dicta, the law school's student newsletter. I wrote it a week ago, but I'm posting it now because it won't appear in print until today. As always, crocodile fans get the scoop. Also note that I wrote this before Howard Dean became a virtual lock for the DNC Chairmanship.

Anyone who pays attention to politics at all knows that we as a nation have become deeply divided over the past years. Some people claim it’s all Bush’s fault, others reply, "Shut up, you dirty loser hippies!" But whatever the cause, I think it’s time for Americans to unite under a common cause, and I think the perfect method of doing that is just a scream away.

I’m referring of course to Howard Dean’s bid to chair the Democratic National Committee in the wake of Terry McAuliffe’s impressive string of dismal failures and crushing defeats. Democrats love Howard Dean because he speaks from the heart, doesn’t mince words, doesn’t flip-flop on the issues for political jockeying, and we always know exactly where he stands. Republicans love Howard Dean for pretty much the same reasons. It sounds like a win-win situation, no?

Imagine, if you will, a highly charged political rally. People are excited, bursting at the seams with anticipation. Then, a hush falls over the crowd as Howard "The Scream" Dean takes the stage, and with a mighty YEEEEAAAARRGGHHH! whips everyone within earshot into an orgiastic frenzy of democracy. Imagine how much Republicans and Democrats alike will thrill to hear his views on our baby-killing soldiers in Iraq, and how deposing Saddam was a bad thing. Imagine how people on both sides of the aisle will rejoice to hear a Democrat actually saying in public how much he hates human fetuses. Imagine how liberals and conservatives will come together in solid, unwavering agreement that the Democrats should espouse hard-core leftist principles in every major election from now until the day (God willing) that Democrats are hunted for sport.

Bill Clinton was a great politician, of course, but he was no Howard Dean. The problem with Clinton is that he spent half of the time saying moderate-sounding stuff, or quoting from the Bible, or failing to scream unintelligibly in a frothy rage. True liberals knew to ignore these moments - that they were merely for show, that they were a price to be paid to have a sexual predator and perjurer in the White House. But what if - and here I’m speaking for a dream that all Americans must share, regardless of ideology - what if Democrats could actually say what was on their minds, without fear of retribution, or ever getting votes from rational people? And Howard Dean is indubitably the man to turn that wistful "what if" into glorious reality.

I know some liberals will balk at the idea because Dean has been tainted by what can only be described as one of the most spectacular political meltdowns in human history. But that shouldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for this wild-eyed Vermonter. After all, Lincoln lost so many elections before finally becoming President that he finally had to resort to running on the Comical Beard Party ticket, and look where it got him: reviled by generations of toothless Southerners! Why couldn’t Howard Dean join that proud legacy?

Assuredly we must all agree that Bush has failed to unite this country behind a common banner. After all, if Barbara Boxer can’t be convinced to moderate her rhetoric even after the Democrats got their butts handed to them last November, how can Bush ever hope to get us all focused on a single vision (preferably a vision involving Carrot Top’s battered, unconscious body being forcibly deported to Canada)? Where Bush has failed, I firmly believe Howard Dean will - nay, must! - succeed. I hereby formally endorse Howard Dean for DNC chair.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Mr. Potato Head: Halloween Edition

What do you think, does the mustache kind of ruin the intimidation factor?

You've got the body, and I've got the brains!

"Did anyone here see the movie Tron?"
"Yes... I mean, no."

More here, here, and the original inspiration here.