Sunday, April 30, 2006

Stephen Colbert Brings Too Much 'Truthiness' To The White House Correspondents' Dinner

UPDATE: YouTube has pulled the Colbert Vids because of copyright infringement. You can find Colbert's Correspondents' Dinner performance here:

Part 1

Part 2

And here's an interesting 60 Minute interview with Colbert.

The 2006 correspondents' dinner held up the long-standing tradition of poking fun at the president. This year Stephen Colbert was chosen as the topper for the event...I'm guessing the guy from Associated Press responsible for 'hiring' Colbert might now be having some second thoughts about that decision. For those of you not familiar with Colbert, he's a very funny and biting satirist who used be a 'correspondent' on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is now the host of his own spin-off show The Colbert Report. Colbert plays the role of an uninformed loud-mouthed pro-Bush talk show pundit modeled largely on Bill O'Reilly, whom Colbert affectionately refers to as 'Papa Bear'. Of course Colbert was completely in character during the correspondents dinner, you can see the full video of his performance below.

The Bush administration usually doesn't take too kindly to criticism, and that was pretty evident in the video from the pained fake smiles and chilly silence that often followed Colbert's riffs. In contrast to the happy USA today article I linked to above, you can an honest idea of the real reaction to his performance in this article from Editor and Publisher. Apparently a lot of attendees weren't too pleased. I can imagine Bush and his cronies fuming about the perfidious 'liberal media' after having to sit through Colbert's 'blistering' performance. It's great to see at least one publication captured the uncomfortable and sometimes stony reaction from the assembled guests. For a while now I've been inclined to give Colbert the edge over Jon Stewart for the title of America's greatest television satirist. After his performance last night I think Colbert has clinched it. Here's an interesting interview with Stephen Colbert talking about his show on NPR.

The man must have balls the size of watermelons to have stood in front of that audience at the White House and mercilessly lambasted the president on every level, taking some pointed shots at the cowardly media as well. Incredibly gutsy and pure genius. His video audition wasn't quite as amusing as the rest of performance, but I did get a chuckle out of the Gannon button on his podium. The Helen Thomas chase scene probably dragged on a little too long, but she definitely deserves the hat tip. Helen Thomas, who's now 86 years-old, is the ball-buster of the White House correspondents. She's the only White House correspondent who has had the guts to consistently ask Bush critical questions during his press conferences.

Here's the entire video of Stephen Colbert at the Correspondents' Dinner in three parts.

And here's a bunch of hilarious clips from The Colbert Report I found at youtube. Great show, and one of America's finest satirists. :-)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Physicists Chastise Bush Over 'Tactical' Nukes

Found this article over at the Information Clearing House. It's a letter from 13 leading physicists to G.W. Bush criticizing him for considering the use of tactical nukes to destroy underground bunkers in the planning of a future airstrike on Iran. For more background on the Iranian situation, including a link to the Seymour Hersh article that broke the news of Bush considering the use of 'tactical' nukes, you can refer to my earlier post.

By Dr. Jorge E. Hirsch

04/23/06 "ICH" -- -- Thirteen of the nation’s most prominent physicists have written a letter to President Bush, calling U.S. plans to reportedly use nuclear weapons against Iran “gravely irresponsible” and warning that such action would have “disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world.”

The physicists include five Nobel laureates, a recipient of the National Medal of Science and three past presidents of the American Physical Society, the nation’s preeminent professional society for physicists.

The letter echoes a petition signed by over 1800 physicists and scientists across the US and the world

Join Dr. Jorge E. Hirsch, Professor of Physics, UCSD To deliver the letter to President Bush Wednesday April 26, 5 PM, Lafayette Park, opposite the White House, Washington, DC

Letter to President Bush

The Honorable George W. Bush

President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President: Recent articles in the New Yorker and Washington Post report that the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran is being actively considered by Pentagon planners and by the White House. As members of the profession that brought nuclear weapons into existence, we urge you to refrain from such an action that would have grave consequences for America and for the world.

1800 of our fellow physicists have joined in a petition opposing new US nuclear weapons policies that open the door to the use of nuclear weapons in situations such as Iran's. These policies represent a "radical departure from the past", in the words of Linton Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration director. Indeed, since the end of World War II, US policy has considered nuclear weapons "weapons of last resort", to be used only when the very survival of the nation or of an allied nation was at stake, or at most in cases of extreme military necessity. Instead, the new US nuclear weapons policies have significantly lowered the threshold for the potential use of nuclear weapons, as clearly evidenced by the fact that they are being considered as another tool in the toolbox to destroy underground installations that are "too deep" to be destroyed by conventional weapons. This is a major and dangerous shift in the rationale for nuclear weapons. In the words of the late Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his efforts to prevent nuclear war, "the danger of this policy can hardly be over-emphasized". Nuclear weapons are unique among weapons of mass destruction: they unleash the enormous energy stored in the tiny nucleus of an atom, an energy that is a million times larger than that stored in the rest of the atom. The nuclear explosion releases an immense amount of blast energy and thermal and nuclear radiation, with deadly immediate and delayed effects on the human body. Over 100,000 human beings died in the Hiroshima blast, and nuclear weapons in today's arsenals have a total yield of over 200,000 Hiroshima bombs.

Using or even merely threatening to use a nuclear weapon preemptively against a nonnuclear adversary tells the 182 non-nuclear-weapon countries signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that their adherence to the treaty offers them no protection against a nuclear attack by a nuclear nation. Many are thus likely to abandon the treaty, and the nuclear non-proliferation framework will be damaged even further than it already has, with disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world.

There are no sharp lines between small "tactical" nuclear weapons and large ones, nor between nuclear weapons targeting facilities and those targeting armies or cities. Nuclear weapons have not been used for 60 years. Once the US uses a nuclear weapon again, it will heighten the probability that others will too. In a world with many more nuclear nations and no longer a "taboo" against the use of nuclear weapons, there will be a greatly enhanced risk that regional conflicts could expand into global nuclear war, with the potential to destroy our civilization.

It is gravely irresponsible for the U.S. as the greatest superpower to consider courses of action that could eventually lead to the widespread destruction of life on the planet. We urge you to announce publicly that the U.S. is taking the nuclear option off the table in the case of all nonnuclear adversaries, present or future, and we urge the American people to make their voices heard on this matter.


Philip Anderson, Michael Fisher, David Gross, Jorge Hirsch, Leo Kadanoff, Joel Lebowitz, Anthony Leggett, Eugen Merzbacher, Douglas Osheroff, Andrew Sessler George Trilling, Frank Wilczek, Edward Witten

The Liberal Candidates

Here's an interesting post at Cerebrus on the ages of the various candidates running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Executive summary: Age doesn't matter.

Who do I think has the best shot at the leadership? Of course it's way too early to tell- we haven't even seen any of these candidates actively campaigning for the leadership yet. But I'll unwisely stick my neck out and venture some unwarranted predictions. So here's the list:

Scott Brison
Gerard Kennedy
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Martha Hall Findlay
Stephane Dion
Carolyn Bennett
Bob Rae
Michael Ignatieff
Joe Volpe
Ken Dryden

Let me scratch off those I don't think have a prayer:

Scott Brison
Gerard Kennedy
Stephane Dion
Carolyn Bennett
Bob Rae
Michael Ignatieff
Ken Dryden

So out of these folk here's my predictions.

First of all it's far from certain who's going to win. All of the above candidates do have a legitimate shot at winning the race.

Ignatieff will be among the top three candidates come convention time. If I were a bookmaker I would probably be giving him the best odds at winning the race, maybe a 25% chance. If he's to win the leadership though he's going to have to pick up support from left and right of the party. If he can 'walk the line' and shine at the same time he'll be the one to beat. At this point I'm really not sure if he's up for it though.

I'm guessing Dion will probably be rated as the second most likely to win by most. And I'm pretty sure some pundits would rank him as the favorite in the race. Personally I think his chances are overrated. First of all, I don't think support for the Liberals' is going to pick up significantly in Quebec by the time of the next election. Why have a Quebec candidate when the party is unlikely to gain many new seats there? The last two leaders of the party, Chretien and Martin, were Quebecers and they couldn't gain support in the province- why would Stephane Dion, who is hated by nationalistic Quebecers, have any better chance of making headway in the province? If Ignatieff's campaign completely falls apart then Dion will stand a better chance. Both candidates have a similar brainy academic left-of-center appeal about them, and I only expect one to be among the couple of candidates.

Out of these three:

Ken Dryden
Scott Brison
Carolyn Bennett

Only one of these three, if any, will be among the top three or so candidates during the convention. It really depends of their performance. IMO Brison is the best politician out of the three, Dryden and Bennett are fine and respectable but bland. Bland isn't necessarily a career ending quality in Canadian politics, but even hosers aren't immune from charm and a little more personality would definitely improve their chances. Why do I clump them all together? They are all Martinite Liberals on the right of the party. I don't expect this faction to fare all that well during the convention.

And finally we have these two:

Gerard Kennedy
Bob Rae

The traditional social welfare left. Gerard Kennedy could have as easily joined the NDP as the Liberals, and of course Bob Rae is the former head of the Ontario NDP. While I haven't seen much of Kennedy myself, I've only heard good things about him. He's apparently charismatic and articulate, and has won lots of Kudos as Ontario's Education minister. Kennedy has to be everyones favorite dark horse candidate, and my guess is he'll garner more support than Rae does in the end. One of these two will have to be removed from the picture early on. My bet is Rae will step down first and will do something unexpected like throw his support behind Ignatieff or Dion, not Kennedy.

Rumsfeld Directly Linked to the Torture of Guantanamo Detainee

Recently it has been reported that US secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was directly involved in the torture of a Guantanamo detainee. Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident? Yeah right.

By the way, the picture above is the work of the controversial Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff. His work isn't exactly subtle or for the faint of heart...which probably makes him a pretty effective political cartoonist in the era of Bush the lesser.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Iraq: The Unseen War

Recently came across this Salon article from Sept.2005 about photos from Iraq that are too graphic for the mainstream American press. Needless to say some of the pictures are quite disturbing.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pirates and Emperors

What happens when Schoolhouse Rock meets subversive anti-Imperial politics?

And for those who are curious where the creator got the title from.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Polish Engineering

Another fine example of Polish engineering.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Beginning to Talk About the Israeli Lobby

Here's a link to one of the few well-written blog posts on the reluctance of the American left to talk about the Israeli lobby by the Canadian blogger liberal catnip.

Finally the American left is beginning to openly discuss and do some real soul searching on their unqualified support for Israel. If there's a US attack on Iran, and I expect that there will be one before the end of Bush's second term, look for a real loss of support for hawkish Israeli policy on the American left. The disastrous policies of the Bush admin just maybe the thing that breaks the power of the Israeli lobby on American mid-east policy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hungry for placenta? Tom Cruise says 'YES!'

I not too big on inane celebrity gossip, but this is one was too juicy to pass up ;-)

In a recent interview with GQ magazine Tom Cruise revealed he's going to eat the placenta of the baby he's having with Katie Holmes.
"I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there."

Hmmm, I have the feeling this isn't going help to correct his growing image as a massive nutjob. Let's see, a cultish devotion to Scientology, a hatred of psychiatry, manic behavior in public, and now a placenta eating advocate. I don't think Cruise is going to be getting many scripts for playing the 'everyman' type of role anytime soon. I can definitely see some 'character' roles opening up for him though.

The Independent actually just posted a pretty lengthy article on the merits of placenta eating. Apparently, there's actually quite a few websites out there advocating placenta consumption for it's nutritional and supposedly positive ritualistic aspects. Some claim that placentophagy can help stave off postpartum depression. You can find some interesting placenta recipes here. This one article talks about other uses of placenta, such as for ritualistic burial or even placenta art:
Yes, you can make art out of it. Generally mothers talk about placenta prints. After the birth you take a piece of paper and lay the placenta on it. If it is fresh you can let the blood and amniotic fluid leave the print or others choose to use paints to add color. Now what? Well, hang your framed art or store it for safekeeping.

While I don't think I'll be purchasing a placenta print anytime soon, it does seem to be a bit of a waste to throw away what was once such a valuable organ. One interesting argument in favour of human placentophagy was that it's the only form of meat you don't have to kill or harm anything to consume. Interesting point. Perhaps there's a market for placenta consumption among the moral Veggies out there?

Think that the price of oil is going down anytime soon? Think again.

Here's an interesting post I found over on Jim Sinclair's Mineset website. Since I can't link directly the post I've pasted it below. In only a few sentences it manages to make it abundantly clear that the price of oil isn't going to decline anytime soon...despite what some analysts would you have you believe.

Dear Jim,

To summarize a couple key points I got from the wise and experienced Larry Jeddeloh (, a MUST HAVE service for those that can afford it) of the Institutional Strategist. Maybe you cannot afford NOT to get it.

1. Several more wars in the Middle East are happening as the battle for control of 4/5th of the world’s light sweet crude continues.

2. Shia occupies the great majority of the land where this crude oil exists and Sunnis run the countries where most of it exists. On Shia-occupied land Sunnis are making a whole lot of money.

Now some of your and my points

3. The Shia, Sunnis and Kurds, as well as smaller groups in the region, all fear annihilation at the hands of one another. There will be no mixed group governments that last.

4. As you and I have both pointed out in the past, the pipeline systems in Iraq and in Saudi Arabia are very vulnerable. Larry also makes this point.

5. As we have been mentioning for years, the demand for oil in China, Brazil, India and other emerging countries will continue for many years. Now that the growth genie is out of the bottle governments are under tremendous pressure to continue the growth and provide higher standards of living for their people.

In China it means revolution if it does not occur. In India, Brazil and elsewhere it means loss of power for the ruling political class and the stopping of their income from the public trough and corruption.

6. Last time I checked wars never did anything other than increase the debt and budget deficits of the countries involved in them.

Monty Guild
Guild Investment Management, Inc.
23805 Stuart Ranch Road, Suite 105
Malibu, CA 90265
Phone (310)456-8100
FAX (310)456-8093


This is what you get when you piss off enough geeks. Go to google, type in failure and choose the I feel lucky option.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Seymour Hersh: Bush is on a Messianic Mission to 'Save Iran'

Despite the soothing assurances that the conflict has been exaggerated, the current tensions between the US and Iran just keep on mounting. The Iranians have been unyielding and unapologetic about their nuclear development, and President Ahmadenijad keeps on delivering inflamatory speeches in which he proclaims Iran's readiness to beat back any potential US attack. At the same time he's been raising the ire of Israel and the 'West' by talking about wiping it off the world map and expressing doubts about the Holocaust.

Presumably, Ahmadenijad thinks he's calling the Bush administration's bluff. After all the US military is bogged down in the grinding guerilla war and anarchy that has engulfed Iraq, and there's little sign of the situation improving. Add to this their commitments in Afghanistan and it's not hard to see that the US military apparatus has it's hand full. On top of that, the most reliable analyses are that Iran is probably several years away from developing any sort of nuclear weapon. In light of these factors, is the US military really willing and able to carry out a campaign against Iran at the present time? Ahmadinejad seems to be betting that the answer is no. When you can 'get away with it', why not increase tensions and 'stand up' to US pressure? Conflict with the US will likely strengthen the hold of the conservative forces that Ahmadinejad supports. Arguably, the increased tensions between the US and Iran following the Iraq invasion led to Ahmadinejad's election in the first place. Why not foment the clash that feeds the theocracy while the Goliath is paralyzed? It might sound like a 'clever' strategy, but maybe it's time for Mr. Ahmadinejad to reconsider that approach.

Recently the New Yorker published the latest eye-popping piece of investigative journalism from Seymour Hersh. Sy Hersh is the renowned journalist who was the first to expose the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, as well as the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Hersh's controversial article claims that the Bush White House has drawn up plans to launch a sustained bombing campaign, combined with covert operations, in order to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity and weaken its government. The ultimate goal of these military plans is to neutralize the Iranian threat by 'freeing' Iran from its oppressive theocracy. Hersh's article is based on interviews with several unnamed high level sources within the White House, military, and congress. Some of the sources describe Bush as 'Messianic' about the coming military campaign against Iran. One of the more shocking allegations is that the White House's extensive military strategizing has even included the possibility of using nuclear weapons to destroy some of Iran's underground military facilities. Predictably, the Bush administration has repudiated the article, calling Hersh's work 'ill informed' and 'wild speculation'.

Here's a link to a Wolf Blitzer interview of Sy Hersh (you need a Windows Media Player to view the video). Blitzer more or less gets Sy to give an 'executive summary' of the article. Here's a link to the transcript of the interview if you can't view the video.

US military folk in the know have seconded Hersh's sentiments on the situation. Here's a link to a CNN interview with former US Airforce Col Sam Gardiner. In it he expresses his opinion that an attack on Iran is likely, as well as describing how extensive a US bombing campaign would 'have to be'. In an article from June of last year, the former marine officer and Iraqi weapons inspector Scott Ritter claimed that clandestine US operations against Iran were already underway. Hersh himself reported about the existence of US-led covert operations in Iran over a year ago.

All of this definitely doesn't sound like promising news for the doves out there. I've heard some postulate that the Hersh 'leak' is just part of some elaborate head fake on the part of the administration. Get Hersh to report that the attack is imminent and Iran will start to capitulate to US demands out of desperation. While this doesn't sound totally implausible, I'm inclined to give Hersh much more credit than that in terms of verifying the legitimacy of his sources. The wide variety of his sources reporting different but converging information also makes a 'faked leak' seem unlikely. Finally, what Hersh reports appears to be completely in line with the Bush administration's previous track record. After all that has happened does anyone doubt that Bush and his cronies are not capable of carrying out this attack? This administration has shown an eagerness to use military force to achieve their objectives. I wouldn't bet on them not using their favorite tool in Iran.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.

From Dwight Eisenhower's famous 1961 speech warning against the power of the military industrial complex.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Seven Deadly Sins

This is probably something I shouldn't be posting for the world to read, but what the heck...isn't the internet all about sharing inappropriate info that should never see the light of day? Here's my seven deadly sins profile. Apparently Lust is my biggest flaw, with Sloth and Pride being close behind. You can take the sin quiz here.


Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bush in Free Fall

A visualization of where Bush's personal popularity is heading. Make sure to use your cursor to throw him around like a rag-doll.

Rogers, Faber, and Yergin Discuss the World Economy

Got this link through Puplava's 'Financial Sense' webpage. It's a very interesting after dinner conversation with the famous market analysts Jim Rogers, Marc Faber, and Daniel Yergin. You can stream the video of this conversation here, it's a Dutch public programming production but the actual conversation is in English. Just click the video icon on the right side and the conversation will start after a Dutch language intro.
I have to admit I took great pleasure in seeing Faber and Rogers teach Yergin a few hard economic facts about our present age. Interestingly, Yergin is considered to be one of the foremost oil industry analysts in the world. Yergin also has a place among the mainstream economists out there that presently determine most institutional and national policies, he's one of the writers of Commanding Heights, a collection of mainstream economic wisdom on the 'global economy' which was made into a slick PBS documentary series. Seeing how he fares in this little discussion doesn't exactly boost my confidence in mainstream economists suggesting that there's no problem major problems with the US economy and there's plenty of oil for decades to come. Note that Yergin actually was expecting the price of oil to decline...not quite right. The conversation is a little old, took place 3 years ago, but its still as relevant today as ever. Definitely worth watching.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

HaHaHa America

"Enjoy Fragrant Monkey Tail, HaHaHa!"

Here's a short film that was submitted to the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, appropriately titled HaHaHa America. The description of the film on the Sundance website is 'A translated harangue from China to the US that laughs at our misteps.' Subtitled with a faux Chinese narrator, the film juxtaposes scenes of booming Chinese industry against US sloth and corporate corruption. It's pretty amusing stuff. Although, much of the film is obviously tongue-in-cheek, I don't think the 'harangue' is too distant from one a nationalistic corporate Chinese elite would deliver to the US if suddenly stricken by a bout of honesty. There's actually a lot to chew on in that video.

The world is still waking up to the fact that within a few decades Asian powers will likely dominate economically, and will not be beholden or submissive to the West. Look at the figures on world manufacturing, economic growth, manpower, science and engineering graduates, debt and savings, foreign goodwill, military commitments, and then tell me the US is going to be the world's major power half a century from now with a straight face. By the way, that picture to above isn't some scene out of Bladerunner, it's the skyline of Shanghai ;-)

Wafa Sultan: The Full Transcript Of Her Al-Jazeera Appearance

Thanks to MEMRI, by now most of us have heard of Wafa Sultan's appearance on the Al-Jazeera, in which she gave a very harsh critique of the Islam in front of millions of Arab viewers. What most English speakers don't realize is that her appearance is heavily edited by MEMRI. Virtually all of her opponent's and the moderator's comments are cut out. Not surprisingly this gives the viewer a somewhat distorted picture of the event. Here's a link to the full unedited transcript of her Al-Jazeera appearance. It'll take a bit of time to read through. It's fairly long, the material isn't exactly lightweight, and the translation can be a little awkward at times. Here's a link to the edited MEMRI transcript for the sake of comparison.

Since I don't have the time to go into detail on my thoughts about the unedited debate, I'll hold my tongue for now and give you guys a chance to comment on this first. IMO, the full debate is actually pretty interesting and worth dissecting in some detail.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Women against women's suffrage

An amusing little demonstration of America's lax educational standards.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Understanding Modern Geopolitics: A Century of Oil Wars

Some quick links, hopefully I'll get a chance to write something a little more detailed soon. Just wanted to draw your attention to F.W. Engdahl. He's written a book called A Century of War, in which he's argued for the overwhelming importance of fossil fuels in all major conflicts of the past century, the present day Iraq wars being no exception. You can get a flavour of his ideas in this article entitled A New American Century.

You can also listen to Jim Puplava interview Engdahl here. The interview starts off a little slow but Engdahl is definitely worth listening to, highly recommended.