Monday, January 29, 2007
WMDs: If only We'd Known
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have for you a Your Thoughts Exactly exclusive that explains everything from 2003 onward and validates the previously nonsensical neo-conservative foreign policy. What we did not know is that Messrs. Rumsfield, Rice, and Wolfowitz were privy to secret information about the nature of the threat emanating out of the Middle East that, unbeknownst to the general population, threatened the very existence of the Untied States, the West, and sweet Freedom herself. I am talking, of course, about WMDs.
The genius of the Bush Administration is that they were able to hint at the true threat the whole time while throwing Congress, several foreign nations, and the majority of the press and the public off the trail. They all had us convinced that Saddam was secretly hiding and building Weapons of Mass Destruction. This was the primary justification given for invading
Now in response to this assertion, one could say something like “gee Dick, Saddam had no access to highly enriched uranium in ’03, you really think that would he would have been able to get some so quickly when he was an international pariah?” Or alternatively “Wow Dick, you mean the
You see, a drunken Saddam let loose a slip of the tongue about his plan to secret US ally Kim Jong Il, the Bush Administration has known the real meaning behind WMDs. What those of us in the know, like a certain Taylor James Peterson, have long feared: War-Mongering Monkey Dolphins.
You see, ever since the dawn of man, over seven thousand years ago, we have been able to dominate nature in every way possible, from domesticating the horse and dog to controlling the weather. (You think Katrina was an accident?) Yet there always existed the potential for two animals to team up through mating to form some sort of super-hybrid capable of dethroning man from his rightful perch as supreme guardian of of Earth. Monkeys and Dolphins have long been seen by political scientists as two of the largest threats (along with peacocks.) Monkey-Dolphin hybrids combine the prehensile tales and opposable thumbs of primates with the large brains, superior vision, and echolocation ability of dolphins. Thankfully, with one confined to the Oceans, and the other to the Jungles, monkeys and dolphins never got the chance to procreate, except for in extremely rare cases when a monkey would grab a dolphin out of the water, rape it, and throw it back in. The only possible opportunity for such a threat to emerge was from a human backed cross-breeding program.
Enter Saddam Hussein. An avid physical anthropologist with an interest in marine biology before his secondary career as a Ba’athist Party strongman/psychopath, the former dictator knew that the only way to stave off eventual overthrow and seizure of his oil by the U.S. was to gain a strategic advantage through the development new military technology that would raise the cost of invasion beyond what the U.S. would be willing to accept. With acquiring nuclear weapons out of the picture, Saddam, turned to the simpler and more cost-effective solution of cross-breeding.
What is the real danger posed by Monkey-Dolphins and why did the
First, it’s important to note that Saddam had proven that he would use WMDs before, on his own people, the Kurds, the Iranians. While the rest of the world has shown remarkable restraint, avoiding unleashing the terror of nuclear or biological weapons (standard WWII and Vietnam exceptions apply,) in the hands of a lunatic like Hussein, Monkey-Dolphins in all their poop-throwing, blow-hole fucking madness could be used to wreak havoc on Hussein’s enemies from Tehran to Tel Aviv. Plus with their aquatic capabilities, Monkey-Dolphins could be used to strike the fair shores of the US of A. In a matter of seconds,
Second, we need to look at the potentiality of WMDs in the post 9/11 world. Thus far in the 21st Century, we have moved away from state on state conflict; terms like asymmetric warfare, or transnational conflict have entered the general lexicon of international studies. Globalization and loose borders have made it easier for information and contraband to get between insurgent groups. The sheer power of weaponry in this day and age means that in the hands of a few sick-minded heathen jihadist freaks, one monkey-dolphin would be one too many.
Third, what of the unspoken possibility that brings about everyone’s worst nightmare?
We do not know what level of control any human being will be able to maintain over any Monkey-Dolphin hybrid. Assuming that the intelligence levels of the Monkey-Dolphins fall somewhere between the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica and Sloth from The Goonies, we could be looking at a race of people with the exact same mental capabilities as us. Perhaps even greater.
As history has proven, subjugating people with free will can be difficult at times, although by no means impossible. And continuing to do so is proving more and more difficult, taking more and more out of us. Look at the relative area of control the West had in 1900: major empires controlling swaths of land. Complete control of resources.
Nowadays? Sure we have economic clout and military dominance. But the gap is closing all the time between us and the rest of the world. It’s a struggle just to keep our heads above water, in our rightful place as leaders of the world. And the last thing we need is people getting their hands on some military technology that will make it more difficult to tell them what to do.
Moreover, the Monkey-Dolphins themselves pose a huge threat to us. Who knows what kind of culture or ideas they could spread in an area of the world that seems fed up with the West and capitalism. Plus their superior diving skills would make adept at exploring for underwater oil deposits. Also, as (both) their habitats would likely be threatened by climate change, they would not look too kindly on the
With a full understanding of the threat posed, Your Thoughts Exactly hereby retracts all past statements degrading the Iraq War as dumb, ill-planned, irresponsible, evil, moronic, or illegal. We hereby re-affirm our complete faith in our executive branch. We will return to burying our heads in the sand, and leave the tough decisions in your extremely capable hands.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Damn White People
The first two MCs that came up on ITunes for me this morning were KRS-One and Chuck D, so I guess I may as well speak about what a terrible racist I am.
After writing my endorsement of Barack Obama for the blog last Saturday, I took a nap, then went down to Clark Street Alehouse for a friend’s birthday party. Upon walking in I noticed two things. First, there were a solid amount of good looking women complete with engagement rings, which not only depressed me because I was unlikely to hook up with them, but also frayed my corneas and depressed me again based on the lack of funds in my bank account to spend on such a crappy rock. After recovering from this depressive wave, I notice for the second time this weekend that I had ended up at a bar with only white people.
Ok well the bouncer was black. And over the course of the night I was able to spot one other black guy and an Asian dude. But still, I was in Crackerland. And hey I guess it’s cool to roll with your own right?
I do believe in the melting pot
The bottom line is, I should never be in a situation where there is only one race of people in a bar in a major city in the
I was talking about this with Breezy Boo (my African-American sister) last year; she said that is was natural for groups of people to “hang with their own.” I guess that is true. While I grew up in an extremely multi-cultural neighborhood, my parents’ decision to send me to private schools with mostly all white kids limited my exposure to families and friends of different ethnicities.
I guess it is “natural,” for me to not be friends with very many black people because I haven’t interacted with as many as I have white people in my lifetime. And when people “hang with their own,” they develop different cultures and backgrounds, which lead to an increased divide between groups. Increased divide in racial subcultures means that people have to expose themselves to unfamiliar situations to bridge gaps.
Well, people don’t like uncomfortable situations. Most people are self-conscious and don’t like being in situations where they stand out, or where their differences are noticeable. No wonder all the black people avoided the bar last Saturday. This isn't the America I want though...But what can I do? Any Suggestions?
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Preceding Me in the Office of President should be,..
My fellow Illinoisan? Barack Obama!
That’s right, the Marmaniac endorsement is already in for the 2008 election. And why not? After all it’s only 21 months away.
The readiness of candidates to declare themselves candidates proves that George W will add to his distinguished resume the title of being the lamest duck of all time. Democrats, fresh off their victory in November are chomping at the bit to put their names out there in hopes of carrying forward momentum. Personally, I think this is a bit dumb; Howard Dean should have taught everyone that there is no point in peaking six months before everyone votes, that just give the other pols a target to aim at before Iowans and New Hampshirens go to decide our candidates. That’s how we end up with John Kerry. Gross.
Hilary and Barack, however, have such name recognition (and in the case of Hilary, have been taking shit for so many years,) that they can probably transcend the traditional American pattern of infatuation followed by backlash. So we may actually have ourselves a real primary in ’08, where all elections matter and the majority of voters don’t end up feeling disenfranchised.
Barack is a good liberal; the only policies of his that I do not agree with are his reluctance to free trade and his opposing gay marriage (although he does support civil unions and voted against the constitutional amendment.) But that’s not why I’m voting for him.
I’m voting for Barack because I have realized something that Anand Shah told me six years ago, the President doesn’t really do much. What the President does is act as the face of the
And as much as I believe it is time for the
Bush is a representative of entitlement, of our parents’ generation which for all their progress at our age, has left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Our executive should inspire trust, and be an embodiment of
Obama represents a projection of
Bush’s greatest failure is the total erosion of American moral superiority gained from fighting fascism and communism. What better way to get it back then by reminding everyone of how
A pretty face isn’t all you need for the Presidency. And ObamaNation won’t cure all of the
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Dear Premier George Walker Bush,
Do you feel something on your back? Some incredible burden that keeps you from getting exactly where you want to go? That crushing sensation is known in most circles as checks and balances. That’s right, they are back.
You don’t seem to understand how to react to this new found problem. On some issues, such as the Iraq War, you have pretended to come up with a new policy while simply recycling old talking points and lame assertions that attempt to link Al Qaeda to
On other issues, you seemingly just give up. As if moved by a higher power, you have changed your mind on the legality of domestic warrantless wiretapping. Maybe the day off in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King gave you a chance to reflect on the values that he stood and gave his life for, which caused you to have a change of heart and realize that protecting the freedom of the citizens of America meant sacrificing some level of security. Or perhaps you just didn’t want to deal with those mean old Democrats probing into the nitty gritty details of just which nursing homes you had bugged.
You even had to dig through your bedroom to find your Dad’s favorite veto pen, the one he gave you at the beginning of your second term. You hadn’t had much practice issuing veto orders, so you looked over Article II of the Constitution one more time, just to make sure you had the rules down. After all, the Democrats had passed some pretty insane laws in their first week on the job, such as raising the minimum wage by less than a dollar in real terms and giving all that money for stem-cell research. What will those crazies do next?
At times I’m sure you feel like getting on Air Force One, flying off to some small island and camping out until the worst was over. But you still have two years left before you get to spend all your days at the ranch. Sucks to say, but you are still my President. As a citizen of my country, how can I advise you to act in this time of struggle?
First, learn from your predecessor. Bill Clinton was able to function quite ably as President with an opposition Congress.
Second, wake the fuck up. You have to realize that whatever paradigm through which you view international relations is inherently flawed. It has led to no less than the collapse of American credibility in the international political regime. It is an unequivocal disaster. Fire everyone in the State and Defense departments. Go hire people from DIFFERENT backgrounds. Bring in a liberal, a realist, a neo-con, and a post-modernist segment to your diplomatic community. Throw them all in a room, let them fight it out, and demand compromise. Discourage uniformity and dogmatism. Understand that the world is a complicated place and more importantly, a chaotic place. X does not always lead to Y.
Will you do either of these things? Likely not. Instead you will whimper to the finish in the passive-aggressive manner of a spoiled brat who is used to getting his way, but now finds himself actually facing adversity. Which is exactly what you are.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Thanks to the wondrous instrument that is my iPod, as well as a few crucial links from your number one DJ savior Trackstar the DJ, I have reengaged myself with one of my truest loves: rap music. I haven’t blogged about hip-hop in quite some time; wait I haven’t blogged about anything in quite sometime. Anyways here are my thoughts on hip-hop as we enter 2007.
The two most talked about news items in the last month within the greater Hip-Hop u’mmah are Nas’ newest album title (Hip Hop is Dead,) and a scholarly/useless identification of a new hip-hop sub-genre entitled “Crack rap,” or music glorifying selling drugs. Let’s deal with Nasir first.
To quote DJ Trackstar, (no known association with Trackstar the DJ) “Nas was trying to start a conversation about the current state of rap music.” As someone who has gradually learned about hip-hop in the last fifteen years, since I first heard (and liked) “Knockin’ the Boots” by the Candyman and “The Choice is Yours” by Black Sheep, I do not agree with what Nas’ assertion. Hip-Hop is alive and well.
The argument for the decline of rap music from your average white kid or hip-hop legend goes as such: The average talent of MCs on the hip-hop charts is constantly trending downward due to the industry’s rapid commercialization throughout my lifetime. Hip-Hop “on the radio,” is now, like all other forms of pop music, subject to the manipulative business tactics of record labels and media conglomerates, based on marketing data on which types of songs or which faces/stories will sell best to the general public. Talent as an MC or DJ doesn’t get you where it used to. More importantly, hip-hop no longer acts as a mechanism for empowering the African-American community, through representing current issues and struggles of black youth. Worse, hip-hop has become obsessed with materialism and violence which negatively affect impressionable youth by de-prioritizing empowerment and ignore hip-hop’s role as an educating and cautionary force.
I recently (legally) downloaded Stakes is High, by De La Soul, which is a great underground album partially responsible for launching the New York “conscious rap,” scene of the late 90s. The claims of De La in 1996 were exactly the same as Nas in 2006: Hip-Hop is obsessed with materialism and violence, people need to focus more on positivity. Here is one quote from the title track
I'm sick of bitches shakin' asses
I'm sick of talkin' about blunts
Sick of Versace glasses
Sick of slang
Sick of half-ass awards shows
Sick of name brand clothes
Sick of R&B bitches over bullshit tracks
Cocaine and crack
What albums/artists could De La Soul have been referring to in 1996? The last three years had seen the Hip-Hop charts dominated by Snoop, Dr. Dre, and 2pac on the West Coast and Biggie and company on the East coast. Nas, Jay-Z, and Outkast were on their way to superstardom, releasing their most critically acclaimed albums in this span. The underground offered Wu-Tang at the absolute height of their powers, as well as A Tribe Called Quest and many other legendary groups. It is generally looked back on by present day hip-hop fans as the greatest period in Hip-Hop’s history. Yet the criticisms that precluded the death of Hip-Hop in ’06 were there then.
Why? What has changed in 2006 that makes Hip-Hop dead as opposed to 1996?
Two major changes come to mind. First, like everything else Hip-Hop has been greatly influenced by the dawning of the digital age. If you are looking for new hip-hop, you aren’t limited to what is being played on the radio or MTV. You can download whatever album you want, be it the new Lil’ Wayne or Organized Konfusion’s first album. Online review databases as well as hip-hop message boards and websites make it much easier to build a common consensus as to what is a classic album and to specifically target and tailor one’s tastes. Moreover, the form that the online community takes,with its combination of amateurism and anonymity, makes it difficult to endorse new albums or artists for fear of backlash from the ever fickle mind of collective humanity. It is VERY difficult to take a stand against the collective in hip-hop, a community of fans who are stunningly obsessed with conformity in terms of dress, attitude, and projected personality. (A rapper is supposed to look and act a certain way, and have a very limited set of priorities.) Thus classic rap albums are not deemed classic until two or three years after their release, they have to be tested by the collective hip-hop/cool obsessed first, before everyone collectively gets the balls to label an album classic. Such an attitude is one reason behind the “current hip-hop always sucks” attitude that prevails to this day. Thus De La can complain about the state of rap in 1996, a year that saw the release of the now classic Reasonable Doubt, All Eyez on Me, Muddy Waters, Dr. Octagon, ATLiens, Ironman, E. 1999 Eternal, etc.
Of course professional coverage of hip-hop in music magazines or cultural magazines is no better than that of the general community. Most major music publications haven’t yet moved beyond having their rock critics review rap albums. Why this is I don’t know; you wouldn’t have your hockey expert comment on how to throw a curveball. Occasionally, someone magazine like the New Yorker or Slate will attempt to throw their two cents in on hip-hop; unfortunately they usually end up embarrassing themselves. The New Yorker wrote an article in their December 11th issue on the new found prevelance of referencing selling crack in rap music, a theme which has only been around since, oh 1988. Evidently my mole in the game Slick Rubin (no relation to Trackstar the DJ,) told me that the New Yorker was actually taking its cue from a term that was coming up in blogs about hip-hop.
So to sum up, the two major trends of hip-hop criticism are to 1) make sure you don’t praise anything too much and 2) make up sub-genres that make no sense in an attempt to pretending like you staying on top of what’s new.
To me, the problem isn’t so much with the music itself, but rather, how the whole hip-hop community: rappers, MCs, record companies, critics, and fans view themselves. I believe this to be driven mainly by how the hip-hop community is struggling to deal with its own success, like any 18-24 (or in my case, 25+) old kid coming into its own (20 years from the first multi-platinum album Raising Hell.) Part of this has to do with certain values that rap music has embraced (gangsterism and the glorification of dying young.) Part of this has to do with the fact that the hip-hop community is itself full of young people, and young people are irresponsible.
But the success of hip-hop and the way in which the music brings together all types of people present an opportunity, to unify members of our u’mmah into a political force. We have the opportunity express the positive shared values of hip-hop music, especially freedom and empowerment at a time when both are under attack from our own leaders. In the late 80s, early 90s, hip-hop felt like a movement, but with limited potential to influence the direction of the country. Now, hip-hop needs to realize it has much greater potential in terms of redefining the values and identity of the
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
No, what I'm getting at is that it somehow seems so fitting for this war. That the Iraqi prime minister, assuredly filled with anger and hatred for his former dictator, took such pleasure and haste in killing him shows what Iraq has become. It isn't surprising, maybe, that the UN wanted no part of it. Everyone wants to get out of Iraq, and it alternately makes me disgusted and happy:
Poll numbers in April '04 showed that 77% of the public supported Bush and his war. Polls now show that just about 77% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war. So that means about 54% of the American public has changed their minds. The consensus? Bush told us that we'd be hailed as liberators! And he told us that Saddam had WMDs! We've been lied to! We've been had! This much is true. Isn't this why we elect representatives? Aren't they supposed to get to the truth of the matter? YTE has never been shy about our greatness, but apparently it's true- we do know better than the politicians.
Because I know that all three of us, at least, were never convinced. I'm guessing that whoever's reading this counted themselves as the 23% who were against it from the start. I've actually switched into the other 23% at various points, because as Marmar would say, I'm a hater. But no, it wasn't purely just so I could be a non-conformist. It was because, (and bonus points for quote identification) "you can't play god and then wash your hands of the things you've done." But that's not what I'm thinking anymore. I say, let's cut and run. Let's let democracy lose, and have freedom stagnate, unrung, in the land of Iraq. Let's implode a country by allowing a civil war that we started, to take its course. Oh wait, is that not a very convincing argument?
But the thing is, in order to leave Iraq, don't we have to be prepared to accept those consequences? Maybe, and maybe not. No matter how many times you say "there's no civil war", doesn't make it true. I don't think deep-seated religious strife and cyclical violence can be cured through daily affirmations. What Saddam's execution at the hands of mostly Shiite handlers represents (even though I won't confess to knowing Al-Maliki's actual motives) is that US forces are now accomplishing nothing over there, and in fact are no longer even the focal point for what happens in Iraq from now on.
There are millions of Iraqi people at risk, and to say we should get out and leave them to the monsters goes counter to something I really do believe- that American lives are not worth more than any other human lives. To publish 3,000 American soldier's deaths as a milestone but then throw out a number like 600,000 Iraqi deaths as if it's an attendance statistic is, well, frankly, American. But to stand in the middle of a fight that you have no control over is stupid. (and arguably also American) We're supposed to learn from our mistakes, and our history. Iraq's future may be democratic, but I don't think it'll be at the end of an M-16's barrel. It didn't work in Vietnam, it didn't work in Korea. In fact we have a much better track record at installing dictators (as our last commenter pointed out) than we do of removing them.
So what, exactly, am I recommending? Our friend David came up with a good idea (yes, he still has them semi-annually). Let's give it one try at doing it right. Send in twice as many troops as we have now; even if that means unifying the Sunnis and Shiites through sheer martial law (and perhaps even through mutual struggle against the US). If they're still hell-bent on destroying each other, then we really are just standing in the way.
But that isn't going to happen, because that's an even more unpopular decision than staying OR leaving. So leave it to us to suggest the impossible and then criticize everyone when they don't do as we say. And I'm certainly not willing to sign up for that, so it smacks of hypocrisy as well. So I vote we get out, and simply prepare ourselves for the consequences. And Vietnam (although there was no sectarian or racist division there) even showed us that it can succeed despite our bungling, so it may be possible that Iraq has a way out in the absence of US forces, so we can tell ourselves that it will work out in the end. That's what Bush says to himself as he falls asleep every night.