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july 2002

silent leges inter arma - m. tullius cicero, pro milone ii e

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eSaturday, December 14, 2002 08:12 p.m.

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eWednesday, November 6, 2002 03:02 p.m.

republicans sweep mid-term elections. the country and world are royally fucked.

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eWednesday, August 7, 2002 05:01 p.m.

reading the washington times is like descending into a bizzaro world of issues that no one outside its circulation really knows, understands, or cares about. for example, today the paper devoted both an editorial and a cartoon to the pentagon and its reluctance to use special forces- an issue that somehow failed to make the front section of any other papers recently.

even more interesting is an editorial raving against s.u.v.s, particularly the ford excursion, the largest beast of them all, a model being phased out by ford next year. the times laments how the "moan and groan chorus headquartered in new york city" thought the excursion was socially irresponsible. it rails against environmentalism for about a page, but nowhere does it mention that ford is withdrawing the model on its own initiative and not as part of any regulatory action. yes, it seems the free market they espouse actually accomplished something, albeit something they're not proud of. ultimately, they assert "it is consumers and the economy, as always, who lose". but the withdrawl of the excursion fell prey to the economy, and its death-knell was at the hands of limited consumer spending. it was a product consumers did not want, and could not afford to maintain, however unbelievable that is to the times. not only this, but the times attempts to justify the environmental-friendliness of the excursion!

its big v-10 ran so cleanly, in fact, that the truck qualified under federal regulations as a low emissions Vehicle (l.e.v.), producing a planet-friendly 43 percent less smog-forming effluvia than the law demanded. the excursion was also designed to be 80 percent recyclable at the end of its life cycle.
this point beside, and the fact that the vast majority of the times' subscribers couldn't define "effluvia" for their lives, it's also true that the excursion consumed oceans of gas. imagine the environmental damage resulting from the oil demand. ooh, and let's not forget the fact that this goliath of a vehicle was perhaps the most unsafe object to roam the road since the invention of the wheel. i suspect it could probably roll over several average cars in one fell swoop and its driver could insouciantly continue down the freeway to the nearest wal-mart.

the paper destroys its entire argument for the low-emissions capability of the excursion by stating:

since the only way to reduce C02 output is by burning less fuel
but...a few paragraphs up it was almighty technology that was the saviour of truck-kind!

but i lack the time or patience to dismember that pile of trash editorial currently. let's move on to this dandy of a piece by a former n.s.c. member who asserts that cuba, brazil, and venezuela will form the "new axis of evil". just how many combinations of such axes the lurid conservative press can engender is beyond even "fuzzy math". let's see about this one:

visiting iran last year. mr. castro said: "iran and cuba can bring america to its knees," while chavez expressed his admiration for saddam hussein during a visit to iraq
of course, we're supposed to take this as evidence that castro and chavez are inherently evil (though apparently this is self evident, as they're left-leaning). it's facile to see, however, that these are political stunts with no more hint of actual policy intent than president bush's congenial visit to the rescued pennsylvania miners last week which will ultimately result in no regulatory provisions on mine safety.
the new axis is still preventable, but if the pro-castro candidate is elected president of brazil, the results could include a radical regime in brazil re-establishing its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, developing close links to state sponsors of terrorism such as cuba, iraq and iran, and participating in the destabilization of fragile neighboring democracies. This could lead to 300 million people in six countries coming under the control of radical anti-u.s. regimes and the possibility that thousands of newly indoctrinated terrorists might try to attack the united states, the administration in washington seems to be paying little attention.
okay, i'll admit one thing in this rant is truthful, and that's the administration's reluctance to study or understand any international issue of note other than those which involve bombing impoverished third world villages. the rest...well...is quite obviously flawed. terrorists based in brazil, venezuela and cuba? they hardly have the religious zealousy of islamic fundamentalists necessary to carry out suicide attacks. and, obviously, the election of a quasi-socialist president of brazil will not inherently lead to a "radical new regime" intent on developing biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons. da silva, the "radical" is accused of heading a council of various rogues and, of course, terrorists, and the columnist portrays him as a virtual neo-hussein.

if latin american sentiment toward the u.s. is such a concern, the u.s. should be investigating the roots of the issue and attempting to amoritise relations. ms. menges, the author, asserts the u.s. should encourage "pro-democracy" parties, akin to the intervention the u.s. has undertaken in latin america since the 1850s to support its economic interests. ms. menges continues the trend by citing with alarm that da silva may default on brazilian debt, causing economic catastrophe for latin america, and "vulnerability for democracies". yet, the debt latin american nations are beholden to has done nothing but snare their economic engines and bring about the current crises in argentina and brazil.

the right is attempting to use the "threat from the south" allied with the enemy du temps, the terrorists, to justify a continually unjust and flawed policy of u.s. intervention in latin american politics. when will el norte learn?

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eWednesday, August 7, 2002 09:08 a.m.

update on argentina: argentines have been reduced to groveling for jobs on t.v.

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eTuesday, August 6, 2002 04:46 p.m.

what the hell have we done to argentina!?

from a washington post article:

word spread fast through the vast urban slums ringing rosario. there was food on the freeway -- and it was still alive.

a cattle truck had overturned near this rusting industrial city, spilling 22 head of prime angus beef across the wind-swept highway. some were dead. most were injured. a few were fine.

a mob moved out from las flores, a shantytown of trash heaps and metal shacks boiling over with refugees from the financial collapse of what was once latin america's wealthiest nation. within minutes, 600 hungry residents arrived on the scene, wielding machetes and carving knives. suddenly, according to accounts from some of those present on that march day, a cry went up.

"kill the cows!" someone yelled. "take what you can!"

cattle company workers attempting a salvage operation backed off. and the slaughter began. the scent of blood, death and fresh meat filled the highway. cows bellowed as they were sloppily diced by groups of men, women and children. fights broke out for pieces of flesh in bloody tugs of war.

"i looked around at people dragging off cow legs, heads and organs, and I couldn't believe my eyes," said alberto banrel, 43, who worked on construction jobs until last january, when the bottom fell out of the economy after argentina suffered the world's largest debt default ever and a massive currency devaluation.

"and yet there I was, with my own bloody knife and piece of meat," banrel said. "i felt like we had become a pack of wild animals . . . like piranhas on the discovery channel. our situation has turned us into this."


"there is not enough trash to go around for everyone," said banrel, one of the participants in the cattle massacre. if banrel finds enough discarded plastic bottles and aluminum cans -- about 300 -- he can make about a day. but the pickings are slim because competition is fierce. The misery villages, as shantytowns such as las flores are called, are becoming overcrowded with the arrival of people fleeing desperate rural areas where starvation has set in. his family of three -- his wife is pregnant with their second child -- had been surviving on a bowl of watery soup and a piece of bread each day. he earned at least to a week last year working construction.

the article is filled with more such stories. the situation that's developed is amazing...the world has never before seen such a plunge in standard of living.

it would be overly simplistic to ascribe the crisis to the economic puppet-stringing that tends to define u.s. foreign policy. however, that's not entirely the case. corruption, tax evasion, and a generally introspectively prevaricatious society are equally to blame.

how can international banks, though, continue to scam the country after reading something like the above? how can the u.s. and other well-endowed states not offer aid? is argentina destined to be another ignored banana republic, only to be bombed or invaded when the inevitable marxist revolutionaries stir up trouble?

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eMonday, August 5, 2002 10:27 a.m.

due to the increasing economic malaise in south america, local economies are increasingly looking to brazil as a beacon of stability and prosperity. once proud and elitist argentina has acknowledged the need for cooperation, and even deference with brazil. in a new york times article, one argentine stated "we would rather not be anyone's satellite, but there is far less opposition to our being a star in the brazilian flag than a star in the american flag." it's an outlook that has been gaining considerable strength as growing resentment with the united states over economic policies accused of causing the economic meltdown causes argentines to look elsewhere for leadership.

with uruguay now encountering financial problems similar to those previously experienced in argentina, the need for south american cooperation, with brazil as a leading model and advocate, is a case which has grown strong. yet a truly equitable union is needed to ensure the strength of south america. one of the primary factors of the european union's success was its multipolarity. the primary partners, france and germany, were more or less equal in influence and economic strength (although germany is now somewhat more advanced in this regard). a south america led solely by brazil could amount in a backlash should brazil prove too arrogant, or even if the brazilian economy is inflicted with problems. south america needs contingency economies and power centres- a diversification of influence -to ensure the continent is not susceptible to the crippling effects of one country's downfall. at the same time, it needs a unified currency and continental support systems for economies which are floundering. this will not only guarantee stability, but the independence of the continent from i.m.f. and world bank loans as well as u.s. and e.u. economic policy.

the instrument which now needs to lead the effort for a strong and unified south america is mer.co.sur., the economic federation of brazil, argentina, uruguay, and paraguay. paraguay is the least developed of the economies and should receive immediate assistance from brazil as well as argentina and uruguay when they recover. this will provide the remainder of the continent with the aspiration of joining the union. chile should be immediately included in order to take advantage of its resources and developed economy. a unified south american economic entity will not begin to operate to a necessary degree of strength with chile, the region's most developed and equitable nation, excluded.

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eFriday, August 2, 2002 06:24 p.m.

katherine harris is at it again.

in a nutshell:

"she doesn't know election law," said bob poe, head of the florida democratic party. "she couldn't even resign properly."
even the most adamant conservative should be able to see through the superfluity of mascara to the ignorant delusion of this psychotic.

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eFriday, August 2, 2002 10:20 a.m.

the new york times today featured a journal piece on south africa's small but slowly growing black elite. the new elite still face obstacles to parity with whites in terms of social acceptance, but generally, the wealthy blacks have comingled with the former ruling class. while this highlights the landmark change in race relations, it may mark the beginnings of class discrimination. while the economy stagnates and the rand plunges due to the condition of world markets, many black south africans who have not managed to join the upper ranks of society have been continually disadvantaged, still living in the townships they were herded into during apartheid. one member of the new black elite puts this into perspective:

"we're making more and more money, but so many people are left behind," said abu nayiluma, 35, who opened the city's first black music store last year and plans to open the first sit-down restaurant to specialize in african dishes in coming months. "i go home with the beemer and the c.d. player and five grand in my pocket and my old friends are unemployed or just struggling to make ends meet," said mr. nayiluma, who owns two b.m.w.s and lives in a predominantly white neighbourhood. "it's hard, you know?"
hard for whom? him to feel the guilt? it's amazing the effect wealth so often has on individuals, making them indifferent.
"but for me, the cars, the cell phones and the holidays are also some kind of celebration of achievement," he added. "it's a message to say, `look, this is possible.' "
...although not quite so possible for most south african blacks. the fact remains, poverty is rampant while the surface prosperity shimmers. the black elite has the same qualms about sharing power with the less well endowed that the whites did prior to the end of apartheid.

if south africa truly desires to be a model for the continent, it should find ways to promote social mobility among the less advantaged. promoting entrepreneurship, especially in the form of localised financial institutions, would be an important aspect of this promotion. so would more heavily taxing those who luxuriate at country clubs, in order to establish a social safety net. south africa must demonstrate that a formerly tension-ridden state can not only be successful when racially integrated, but when its marginalised poor are given greater opportunities to advance as well. fostering new businesses and a strong middle class will allow south africa to independently and paradigmatically prosper.

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eFriday, August 2, 2002 09:32 a.m.

as the senate foreign relations committee continues the debate on a potential preemptive military strike in iraq, saddam hussein has co-opted u.s. militarism by declaring he may yet allow u.n. weapons inspectors into the country. of course, such is probably a ploy, as it was during the previous inspection, but it will ultimately buy saddam time and erode the legitimacy of any potential u.s. action in the near future.

not that this means the u.s. won't ultimately attempt to justify striking iraq soon. but the u.s. may try to seek new targets. next week's agenda for the senate foreign relations committee:

  • should we lob i.c.b.m.s at tehran?
  • north korea is bluffin'. shall we slaughter its starving citizens?
  • the french question: them naysayers must be hiding osama
  • it's time to kill some damn bolsheviks
  • micronesia...aw, hell, we can't think of a reason other than to add counties to hawaii

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eThursday, August 1, 2002 02:35 p.m.

in another example of bang-smash militarism- "justified", jonah goldberg writes:

the gist of the disagreement between europe and america is the 'peens think they achieved lasting peace through endless conversations in swiss hotels with bottles of bubbly water and plates of runny cheese scattered about the table. americans think the reason europeans have achieved lasting peace has something to do with the fact that every time these conversations broke out into full-blown brawls, the united states marched into the room and imposed order like a parent getting the kids to stop wrestling over the remote control.

this is a profound difference in perspectives and a profound example of how history informs ideology. the europeans think their "miracle" was achieved through talk. americans think this miracle was achieved through tanks. and that is all the difference in the world.

fortunately, goldberg later admits this is an oversimplified argument, but that its foundations are firm. when later discussing the use of international organisations to augment america's "war on terrorism", goldberg quotes charles krauthammer:
american simplicity liberated europe three times in the last century. we stumbled our way around lacking gallic sophistication, liberating your country twice from the germans and all of europe once from communism.
sigh...let's start from the top.

what tanks and guns drove the european union's creation? to be sure, an atmosphere of stability had to prevail before the european community was formed. but the stability was a result of the economic destruction wrought during the second world war, not necessarily n.a.t.o. and other american military installations. unlike the u.s., european nations were more concerned with cooperating to rebuild their economies than unifying to oppose the warsaw pact.

to be sure, this was "informed by history", a history of constant continental warfare that rocked europe from the thirty years' war to the second world war. and, yes, american support to the allies was essential in ensuring the allies were victorious. as for "liberating" the continent from communism, this was a result of a collapse of the soviet system, not any decisive actions undertaken by the u.s. in fact, the u.s. was more prepared for nuclear holocaust as the final showdown between the powers, and it was certain it would emerge the victor after annihalating such locales as warsaw, prague, and budapest, the very capitals it now hails as liberated.

still, one must understand that the u.s. participated in both world wars without membership in any international organisation. such did not exist in 1917, and isolationists refused to commit the u.s. to one in the interwar period. the league of nations, ultimately inept, might have been able to bolster germany economically and financially and prematurely halt japanese expansionism and militarism with u.s. influence. of course, like always, the u.s. chose unilateralism- and the consequences of its contempt for the rest of the world manifested themselves at pearl harbour.

following the war, the u.s. realised the error of its ways and invested itself into international bodies like the u.n. and n.a.t.o. while n.a.t.o.'s avowed purpose was to provide security for the u.s., it was unprecedented in that the u.s. claimed to include western european nations as equal partners. the u.s. acknowledged that complexity was needed to provide a defence shield for itself, and that it could not afford to abandon its sphere of influence to potential soviet domination. n.a.t.o. also achieved the important function of deterring the soviet equivalent, the warsaw pact. thus, internationalism and methods other than global warfare managed to achieve global stability between the two powers. the u.n., of course, had its own far-reaching implications.

today, because such organisations as the e.u. and (theoretically) the u.n. exist, there is an international framework under which to prevent warfare. such did not exist (effectively in the case of the second war) when the u.s. was "simplistically liberating" the european continent. even if one argues the u.s. did achieve "victory" in the cold war, partnership with europe and s.e.a.t.o. was essential.

let's continue with mr. goldberg's article, though:

there are very "sophisticated" people who believe that the u.n. charter and a stack of e.u. regulations are what kept the peace for the last 50 years. and there are very "simplistic" people who think the arsenal of democracy — a.k.a. the seventh fleet, the 101st airborne, and the marine corps — had a little more to do with it. it's the difference between thinking the law keeps criminals from doing bad things and believing the sheriff keeps criminals from doing bad things.
no one believes it is e.u. regulations or u.n. charters which can bring about peace. we "sophisticates" tend to lean more toward the character of the organisations themselves. because the e.u. composes the parties that would otherwise fight against one another, there is little reason for war. grievences are more effectively solved on the floor of the european parliament. and because of the economic integration the e.u. has achieved, war between the nations would be disastrous for all members.

the u.n., of course, operates differently from the e.u. instead of being a solidified cooperative, it is essentially a forum. and especially because so few nations use it as a serious means for diplomatic communication- the u.s. in particular -its credibility wanes. the u.s. has failed to heed the example of the league of nations.

the key to peace, then, ultimately lies in the european model. continental synergies are occurring in africa, asia, and south america now as well.

if we go to war with iraq, the europeans will shudder at our belligerence as if we'd used a cheese knife on a piece of fish. they will argue that the european way and the international system can solve everything without violence. and they will simply be wrong, but sophisticatedly so.
it's very interesting how individuals so often make unjustified predictions, without a cautious analysis of the facts. both france and the united kingdom back potential military action against iraq, but when the time is right, which they do not believe is now. the europeans, being sophisticates, do ultimately realise the necessity of military intervention. but it is a final resort, not the cornerstone of their foreign policy.

the u.s. has not so much as issued an ultimatum to iraq. it failed to use the c.i.a. back partisans in 1995 who attempted a coup in several iraqi cities. the ultimate preference of military force over international procedure and intelligence operatives is far more dangerous than the assumption that all issues can be solved through nonviolent cooperation.

if the united states had not defeated japan, ruled it for about a decade, rewritten its constitution, and agreed to provide for its defense, undoubtedly japan would be more militaristic than it is today.
i wonder if it could be any more militaristic than this country, which seeks f-16s and cruise missiles as the answer to the world's problems.

goldberg makes quite an assertion. my earlier point about league of nations intervention aside, europe doesn't necessarily oppose such action, especially if combined with hefty nation-building tactics of the type the u.s. seems afraid to commit to in afghanistan. the european model, applied to the globe, does not assume every nation will be cooperative, and that some may be dangerous. conservative assumptions about european policy in this regard are fundamentally nullified.

that said, though, it does not mean the u.s. should be attacking iraq purely with its own strength, and potentially risking the remaining stability in a volatile region. the u.s. will ultimately be forced to cooperate to some degree with regional governments if it wants to achieve its goals in iraq. and god forbid, it might have to hire some brie-masticating euros to teach it how to build real nation-states again. european international cooperation and american regime change paradigms are not mutually exclusive, in this regard.

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eThursday, August 1, 2002 02:05 p.m.

three strikes for health care in the united states. congress has failed to pass prescription drug legislation to benefit seniors. the situation is even worse here in massachusetts, where tax cuts have forced lower medicare coverage- and prescription payments pharmacies refuse to honour.

both the inaction in congress, the massachusetts scenario, and the veterans' administration's new policy, which is basically to turn away any new applicants seeking care, underscore two fundamental issues- that the private sector cannot be relied upon to provide health care benefits, and that tax cuts wreak malicious harm on existing programmes.

when faced with the pharmacies' denial of coverage, massachusetts governor jane swift said "it's time for a little corporate responsibility". unfortunately, "responsibility" has never kept the darker side of capitalism from harming workers and consumers alike. all too often conservatives rely on "responsibility" as their policy- regarding corporate regulation, or social mobility. why do improverished black communities yield so few bourgeois elites? conservatives would claim it stems from their lack of responsibility- their lack of drive and resolve, rather than inherent issues with society and government. president bush has taken this policy so far as to desire denial of welfare coverage for women attending college- seemingly on the basis that such subsidisation might entail "welfare moms" to "lounge around" rather than be responsible and get two sweatshop jobs to support their families. if only women on welfare had a sense of responsibility, bush must think, they could buy their way through yale, just like me!

of course, conservatives don't think crime and terrorism stem from a lack of responsibility, but from a lack of police brutality and military bombardments.

meanwhile, senior citizens are still croaking as legislatures struggle to find funds for prescription drug costs. "the money's just not there," said one massachusetts legislator. maybe that's because republican governors have successfully lobbied to give it all away in the form of tax cuts. afterall, the "big government" behemoth was stealing "your money" and putting it into the "confusing and bloated bureaucracy". next time you're buying cheap shit at wal-mart with your "hard earned" tax cut, america, think of how many people are sick and dying due to lack of proper medical attention.

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eThursday, August 1, 2002 12:08 a.m.

"where did the posts go? for the love of god, where are they!?"

no, they were not, as one reader suggested, illegally detained by the department of homeland security. i merely archived them after i redesigned the site. they're viewable here.

and by the way, welcome to august. don't forget, canada's civic holiday, that mirthful celebration of nothing, is just around the corner. i'm sure, in canada or elsewhere, it will be used extensively as an excuse to get utterly plastered.