Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"



by John at 11/28/2006 08:05:00 PM

What's that sound? That's the sound of James Baker banging his head against his desk after he realized that he just spent eight months chairing the Iraq Study Group, trying to come up with ways to cover Dubya's ass and preserve the Bush legacy, when the idiot son wasn't going to listen to him anyway.
"There's one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete," [President Bush] said in a speech setting the stage for high-stakes meetings with the Iraqi prime minister later this week. "We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren."


by John at 11/28/2006 07:57:00 PM

What's that sound? The sound of me banging my head against the wall.
Leahy, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, voted against the Military Commissions Act and denounced its habeas provisions in especially harsh terms. But there are no signs that the new Democratic majority will take on habeas corpus anytime soon. Few Democratic politicians seem enthusiastic about proposing legislation that will principally benefit accused Al Qaeda terrorists, and, in the unlikely event that Democrats passed such a bill, it would face a certain veto from President Bush. The Supreme Court—not Congress—is likely to be the only hope for a change in the law. "This is definitely not going to be the first thing out of the box for us," one Democratic Senate staffer said. "We make fun of Specter, but we’re basically leaving it up to the Courts, too."

That's the final paragraph in a long New Yorker article about how Arlen Specter killed Habeus Corpus. Dammit.


the situation in Iraq

by John at 11/27/2006 03:02:00 PM

Annan: Iraqis 'almost' in civil war

"Asked by reporters at the U.N. if Iraq is in a civil war now, Annan replied, 'I think given the developments on the ground, unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation, we could be there. In fact we are almost there.'"


the McCain plan1

by John at 11/21/2006 01:34:00 PM

This is the McCain plan (really, it's his plan, even though the Pentagon is studying it right now, and some people think Baker's Iraq Study Group2 will recommend something similar). Send a couple tens-of-thousands of extra soldiers to Iraq to quiet things down.

I'm not a military strategist, nor do I know anything about "Arab psychology" (or other such racist bullshit). But you know what I would do if 20,000 extra soldiers showed up in Iraq if I was a militia leader? Tell my men to go home and wait it out. When the G.I.s leave, I'd tell them to grab their guns and go back to war.

On the other hand, 20,000 extra soldiers is nothing. A 1999 Pentagon war game said that we would need 400,000 troops to pacify Iraq (a number curiously close to the number former General Shinseki said we would need back in 2003) - and that assumed that a civil war was not already underway. So maybe my men would just keep fighting, but now in a even more target rich environment.

What am I getting at? The same thing I have been saying for a long time. There is no military way out of the Iraq debacle. We should just come home. The Democrats' plan to start a phased withdrawal (that's pronounced "orderly retreat") in four to six months isn't bad, but really, why wait? Nothing substantial is going to change between now and March, unless it is for the worse. Start the retreat as soon as possible.


1. They should call it that. If he really believes in it, he should own it. If it works, make him President in 2008. If it doesn't (and it won't) they should tattoo it on his forehead.

2. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have an Iraq Study Group before we went to war?


watch out, Baby Greedo...

by John at 11/18/2006 08:14:00 PM

...because Baby Han Solo shoots first!


More odd Elias photos starting here.

Despite being a nerd and scifi geek for most of my life, I had never been to a scifi convention before today, when Wendy, Elias, and I went to Philcon 2006. Elias was cosplaying Han Solo - Wendy made the spats, Corellian Bloodstripes, and the black BDU vest. I made the gun, belt, and holster (but Wendy sewed the parts together). He got a few pretty good comments - the geekiest one was "Look, a tiny human in a Han Solo costume." The "con" (as they say) was okay. We are going back tomorrow for a little bit more.

At Charles Stross' talk, John Scalzi sat right behind me. Only at first, I wasn't sure it was John Scalzi, because the only picture I have seen of him is on a book jacket. Anyway, I wanted to tell him that I had started reading his new book, The Ghost Brigades, last night and I had finished more than half of it in one sitting because it was so good. Only, first I had to make sure it was John Scalzi because I didn't want to look like an idiot if it wasn't. So, I tried to look for his name badge while pretending to scan the door for "someone I was expecting". Unfortunately, he was wearing his badge on his lower jacket pocket and I couldn't see it well enough to read his name. After a few more tries (I was cool like a spy, though. I was always looking at the door and never made eye contact with him) I was able to read his name and it was Scalzi. However, by this point Stross had started to talk and I didn't want to interrupt, so I just listened to the talk and planned for later. After the talk, I got up and turned around, but Scalzi got up and stepped away at the same time to talk to a group of his friends. So I dropped the whole thing and went to find Wendy and Baby Han.



by John at 11/16/2006 08:50:00 AM

I recently found out that TBS is playing reruns of NewsRadio, which may be my favorite sitcom of the 1990s, at least until the brilliant Phil Hartman got killed. And now I remember that the series finale was, perhaps, the worst series finale ever. Nonetheless, I had forgotten how great the show was until TiVo helpfully recorded an episode for me. Thanks TiVo!

From now until you are otherwise notified, the blog description will always be a quote from Bill McNeal.


a journey of a thousand steps...

by John at 11/08/2006 01:14:00 PM

...begins with the first one. And our journey out of Iraq begins with the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.

Don't feel sorry for him. While he should be tarred-and-feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, he will wind up working a cushy, do-nothing job for a defense contractor or hypothesizing about the wars we should fight in a conservative think tank somewhere.

This is a good day. I'm focusing on it, and trying not to think too hard about what comes next.

on the value of civil "intercourse"

by John at 11/08/2006 06:40:00 AM

(Remixed from the General)


"I feel good, and I'm not scared at all. I just feel kind of... kind of invincible... Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? "

The Democrats won the House back, and may still pick up a few more seats before it's all over. We may yet win the Senate (Tester and Webb are up, but these are going to be contested). All this despite huge Republican structural advantages (money, gerrymandering, get out the vote efforts, corporate media sympathy, vote suppression, electronic voting machines that automatically vote straight ticket Republican, etc).

Locally, Senator Rick Santorum got the boot. I guess his god decided to go with another devout Roman Catholic - maybe it was the bigotry, lying, and torture advocacy? For Congress, Admiral Joe Sestak put the beat down on "Crazy" Curt Weldon in what sounds like a WWE pay-per-view event. Incumbent governor Rendell handily defeated football hero Lynn Swann (who still gets to keep his Superbowl rings, so he has that at least). Two other suburban Philadelphia Congressional races are up for grabs (right now, it looks like one pickup for the Democrats).

Nationally, I liked the rejection of Arizona's marriage amendment and overturning the abortion ban in South Dakota. It seems the threat of being shot in the face by VP Dick Cheney wasn't enough to keep the sensible folks away from the polls there.

Bring on the Congressional subpoenas! This time, you may be required to testify under oath.

Update: For all you Mountains and Pacifics just getting out of bed - what happened where you live?


suppress the vote!

by John at 11/06/2006 08:36:00 AM

In an effort to suppress the vote (low voter turnout typically benefits Republicans), Vice President Cheney has announced that he will spend election day hunting in South Dakota. Tip for South Dakotans: On your way to the polls, stay close to the ground to reduce your chances of getting shot in the face.



by John at 11/03/2006 08:31:00 AM

This morning (on Boing Boing) I saw these beautiful slides from the Apollo era that a lucky guy found at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena. There was no Power Point or CGI in those days, so each of the slides was illustrated by hand. I imagine that kind of graphic arts skill doesn't even exist anymore. If they were mine, I would have them blown up into poster sized prints to hang all over my house.

I've always been a fan of the Apollo project, from way back when I was just a six-year-old boy. I think mostly just the rockets and spacemen and stuff like that appealed to me. As I've gotten older, the appeal has been confusing. As I learn more about it, the motivations and politics behind the program become suspect, the science and economics don't make good sense, and the meaning of the work becomes tainted. I guess what appeals to me still is the technological audacity, the planning, and the dreamers and logisticians who made it all happen.

Apollo could never happen in today's America. The people in charge have neither the will, the know-how, or the selflessness to make it happen. Their visions are smokescreens.

So anyway, those pictures started me thinking about something I read a few days ago on a thing called "saecular theory," which is a theory of history that posits that there are approximately 80 year cycles (four generations of people) of four phases each: High, Awakening, Unraveling, and Crisis. The last cycle began in 1945 (High), and will end when the current phase (Crisis) ends in another decade or so. Generally, I distrust theories of history, but this one is attractive.*

Where am I going with this? The Apollo program, along with other society wide efforts (civil rights, welfare for the poor and elderly), for good or ill, were the apotheosis of the last High (1945-1964). Now, Crisis, is the time to start building our vision of what the future should look like, just the way a vision of a progressive America was created, and the foundation laid for building it, in the 1930s. What should our children build during their High?


I'm worried that we are on the edge. The environment may not be able to support for much longer the kinds of societies we have created for the number of people who want to enjoy them. The Earth will go on without us, but we probably don't have that much time left.

My vision for recreating the way we live is for sustainable living - I'm thinking of efficient renewable energy sources, lower energy/lower consumption lifestyles, careful management of natural foodstocks, and elimination of wasteful agriculture and manufacturing. We have to learn how to live well with zero consumption of nonrenewable natural resources, and learn how to carefully exploit resources that renew on a time scale of merely years, not centuries or eons. This means, in this country at least, the razing of the suburban autopia we already love to hate, but are reluctant to do away with. We will have to reorganize around small cities with self-sufficient local infrastructure, manufacturing, and agriculture. We will have to abandon the concentration of large populations in ecologically marginal regions (good riddance, Phoenix!). This will be a huge project, but it's no bigger than the project that got us here (recall the last High, 1945-1964, which built the world we have today).

This might get us, as a culture, through in a way that keeps our values and our identities intact - changed, but intact. At least until our kids' grandchildren finally face up to the limitations of what we have designed, and rip it down to start again, because that's where the real progress is. An edifice that stands forever is not progress, it's a monument.


* Which makes it dangerous! The recommended starting point is the book The Fourth Turning. I'll have to check it out at my library.


monkey attack!

by John at 11/01/2006 11:37:00 AM

"People think I've got the power because I've got the monkeys. Nope. I've got the power because I'll let the monkeys loose."


Elias terrorizes the neighbors (click for more)

Update: Man, there ain't nothing you can't find on the internets!