May 27, 2004

May 26, 2004

Forget the New Humans, I'd Be Worried About Those New Trees!

Jibbenainosay points to evidence that the energy industry may (advertently or not) be advancing the cause of human freak-evolution.

However, if as the article avers "particulates adhere to tree leaves," and those particulates cause genetic aberrations, I would lay good odds that once deciduous trees achieve sentience, they're gonna come looking for us ...

... plus, what about the anti-evolutionary argument? That these so-called genetic aberrations are merely the illusions of sick atheistic minds twisted by the Dark One's ministrations into seeing chimeras where none exist ought but for the demons torturing their twisted little souls ...

Oh, You Gullible Kentuckians

Yes, the Confidence Man absents himself for a bit and now returns with a bit of regionalist bias wrapped around a bitter pill of nasty xenophobic nougat gone most foul:

"At first I was reluctant, but he said 'you'll be fine...put this on.' And I did."

May 24, 2004

Providence Don't Fire No Blank Cartridges

Swarms of locusts -- plagues from the Nile -- winds that destroy towns -- darkness in the land. The Jibbenainosay knows how to read these signs, America: do you remember? When the land is destroyed by God, it is a sign of his disfavor with our temporal governing body.

May 16, 2004

The New Humans

In the spirit of The Confidence Man's earlier immediately proven prediction that the Right would cry "homosexuals in the Army cause torture" in respose to the Rumsfeld Abuse Scandal, I propose that the Filthy Energy Cabal's response to this will be that more mutations means we evolve more quickly as humans: light speed to the Ubermensch, Mr. Cheney!

May 14, 2004

Wet Your Whistle

Wow. The Confidence Man had no idea that there were such large sums available to whistle-blowers against medical-education and promotion abuses.

$24.6 million would certainly be sufficient temptation for the Confidence Man to turn in his former employers.

Mind Your N's and Q's

Via the Progress Report, The Confidence Man reads that "The Office of Management and Budget's official request to Congress for $25 billion in additional fiscal 2005 funds for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan" contained a small typo: "funds would be 'available October 1, 2005.' That would be a full year later than the Pentagon wants."

M-hm. Maybe we should scan through that doc to make sure that none of those pesky little lower-case q's were "accidentally" changed to n's ...

May 13, 2004

On the Effects of Torture on Academics

Jibbenainosay would like to think that he knows a little something about abuse and disfigurement on the frontier. He was, therefore, appalled to see, in the recent TIME magazine issue covering the "Iraq Prisoner Abuse Scandal," the assertion by Reed College associate professor Darius Rejali that, because they were mostly from West Virginia, the soldiers involved in the scandal couldn't have designed the torture and abuse tactics seen in the photos and so must have been instructed.

So perhaps cosmopolite political scientists, who tend not to see Appalachia as a source of anything other than "the gentle music of the hill people," should look more closely at this assumption. 1) Is there no internet in West Virginia? 2) these people are in the MILITARY, which means they're a little more cosmopolitan with regard to the whole killing, torture, etc. question than most of us, and most importantly 3) Appalachia: home of the Lynch mob, folks. Genital-focused torture? Exposure of a racialized other? Hoods, wires, leashes, sex games? Sounds mighty familiar. Dr. Rejali tells us these are Brazilian tactics. Which only goes to show that when torture is concerned, even normally open-minded, thoughtful academics can lose their cool.

As an aside, Jibbenainosay is concerned about his many friends in the military. If the Commander in Chief cannot protect enlisted men--and especially MPs!--from "private" contractors or from Military Intelligence, what are you to do? And it appears that the chain of command doesn't exist anymore -- your decisions to kill people on the battlefield are your own, not the Department of Defense's, since nobody there can or will be held responsible for them.

May 06, 2004

Accuracy vs Precision

Well! That was fast!

Just this morning, we were expostulating on the ugly eventuality that the right-wing moron squads would start blaming the American abuses at Abu Ghraib on gays in the military. We just didn't figure it would happen this fast.

Via the ever-vigilant Quiddity at uggabugga, as the French say, voila!

Urgh. Michael Medved. What a loathsome toad.

TQM: TOTAL Quality Management

... and we do mean total:

[...] air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, made a tape recording that day describing the events, but the tape was destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it [...] it was later destroyed by an F.A.A. quality-assurance manager, who crushed the cassette in his hand, cut the tape into little pieces and dropped them in different trash cans around the building [...]

Live From the Antistate

As we mentioned before, part of the overriding strategy in Iraq is the establishment of an Antistate.

Abuse of prisoners by US military and contractors is certainly one fallout from that strategy.

Abuse of subordinates by US military and contractors is another:

The commander of a Bay Area National Guard unit is accused of taking nude photos of female subordinates in a shower at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison[.]

On the other hand, it's comforting to see that the US military is in the vanguard of psychopharmacological interventionism:

Morale was so bad that a combat stress management team prescribed the antidepressants Prozac and Paxil to troops, soldiers said.

The Confidence Man is tempted to query whether the US Army is able to buy its drugs cut-rate from canada, but that's a topic for another day ...

Look Out!

The Confidence Man has another Dire Prediction: as the photos released of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib by US military and contractors become more and more graphic, we will start to see the far-right press and pundits start to revive the "this is why we shouldn't allow gays in the military" argument.

Watch for it. Probably by early next week.

The Lawyers Made Me Do It, Revisited

And now the serious finger-pointing begins, with everybody's Finger of Doom waggling in the direction of Sky Marshal Dienes.

Yet what strikes the Confidence Man as strange about all this is the US abandonment of the Geneva Conventions being blamed solely on Rumsfeld:

Beginning more than two years ago, Mr. Rumsfeld decided to overturn decades of previous practice by the U.S. military in its handling of detainees in foreign countries. His Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review. Abuses will take place in any prison system. But Mr. Rumsfeld's decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable.

Now, as we mentioned the other day, Rumsfeld himself is trying to wriggle out from under that onus, by claiming that "the lawyers" forced the no-Geneva-standards declaration on the Pentagon.

And again, we ask, which lawyers? At the direction of whom? For what reasons?

And -- Sky Marshal Dienes, are you insinuating that you yourself (and, perhaps, other members of the administration) were opposed to abandoning the Geneva Conventions in the "War on Terror"?

And finally, why oh why isn't anyone insisting that responsibility flow all the way up the chain of command?

Well, OK, the Confidence Man knows the answer to that last one: the media will not hold Chimpy McFlightsuit accountable as CinC until his approval numbers fall below 40%.

The Neumeier Plan

Yup, right on track with this little war against the Arachnids: looks like Sky Marshal Dienes is about to be forced to resign.

Hm. I wonder if he'll indeed be replaced by Sky Marshal Tehat Meru ...

We must meet this threat with our courage, our valor, indeed with our very lives to ensure that human civilization, not insect, dominates this galaxy now and always!

May 05, 2004

The Lawyers Made Me Do It

Josh Marshall makes the necessary maneuver of putting Rumsfeld's flop-sweat "Clintonesque" (/close sarcasm tag) presser perf from yesterday in context.

Most notably, Josh points to Rumsfeld's "I'm not a lawyer" disclaimer and his attempt to fall back on a legalistic and technical differentiation between "turture" and "abuse."

What Josh misses, however, is Rumsfeld's other deployment of the "I'm not a lawyer" argument, from the same press conference.

At another point, Rumsfeld used the same phrasing to bracket his response to a question regarding the US's suspension of Geneva Convention standards for all "enemy combatants" in the "War on Terror," from Afghanistan to Guantanamo to Iraq. Didn't this very suspension, the journalist inquired, open up the conditions to where precisely this sort of abuse could/would happen?

Rumsfeld responded with the "I'm not a lawyer" dodge, and then insisted that the question was irrelevant because "the lawyers" "insisted" that such language be included in the designation of and conditions for "enemy combatants."

Now, on the one hand, this seems to be standard-issue Rummy jiu jitsu: dodge the question with a bit of wit, mocking self-deprecation, and bureaucratic palaver.

On the other hand, however, this is about as shady and suspicious a dodge as one could imagine in response to the particular question. The "lawyers" insisted on suspending Geneva standards for "enemy combatants"? Which lawyers? Perhaps this lawyer? And, why would it have been the lawyers insisting on this?

Without wandering into tinfoil-hat territory, the Confidence Man doesn't quite know how to start answering these questions.

NB: The Confidence Man notes that Chris Hitchens has now assumed the position regarding the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Hitch, too, entirely disregards the Geneva dodge:

Either these goons were acting on someone's authority, in which case there is a layer of mid- to high-level people who think that they are not bound by the laws and codes and standing orders. Or they were acting on their own authority, in which case they are the equivalent of mutineers, deserters, or traitors in the field.

Uh, Chris? When we say the Geneva Convention doesn't apply, then we are indeed establishing a situation wherein we have "a layer of mid- to high-level people who think that they are not bound by the laws and codes and standing orders" regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners.

Gushing Metaphor Alert

A veritable tidal wave of monkey shit?

The Confidence Man has a pretty good idea of what that might possibly represent ...

May 03, 2004

Floating Metaphor Alert

Well, really, now, this could stand for just about any number of things, couldn't it?

May 01, 2004

Vivid Baseball Simile of the Year

Kenny Lofton "plays center field like bees are chasing him."

Les Iraqxpos?

Now, there has been chatter from time to time over the last several years about how Chimpy Mc Flightsuit would really, all things being equal, rather have been commissioner of baseball.

Setting aside musings on what a more placid and prosperous world we would inhabit in such a scenario, the Confidence Man is struck by the similarities between Despotic Townball Overlord-for-Life Bud Selig's maltreatment of the "Montreal" Expos and Sun-King George W. Bush's obsessive dismantling of Iraq.

Which leads to one obvious conclusion: in 2005, the Expos will be playing their home games under the Baghdad Bushdome.

Ritual Bonding

Uh-huh. The Confidence Man reads, from a little idle Googling, that Janis Karpinski, the general in charge of US-administered prisons in Iraq, "[i]n her civilian life [...] is a consultant who runs grueling executive training programs for those hoping to scale the corporate ladder."

Now, the Confidence Man has some experience in the corporate world; and also in both receiving and administering "motivational" "team-building" exercises, of both the physical "ropes course" variety and the conceptual Stanford-prison-experiment variety.

And you know what? The incriminating photos of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US military guards and contractors are really not a lot more than extensions of those corporate team-building exercises.

Or frat initiation rituals.

Cla-MAY-to, Cla-MAH-to. Let's call the whole thing off.