Heard of Rev. Sun Myung Moon? Right-wing media financier, charismatic religious leader, messiah…ok, so he’s probably not that last one. Though, of course, he claims to be. He also sponsors a “tear down the cross” campaign, urging Christian churches to remove crosses from their churches because Christ has failed and Moon is the second coming.
Did I mention that he’s poured billions into the uniformly Christian right-wing media? Yeah. You can watch him being crowned the “king of peace” in our capital building here. Weird shit. Remember, this is the guy who mandates that his followers clean themselves up after sex with a “holy handkerchief” that should never be washed. Also, you have to keep a picture of Rev. Moon beside the bed to keep a watch over you during such acts.
So remember, Washington Times = unwashed sex cloth.
Does this actually sound like a good idea to anyone? I didn’t think so.
Good Intentions Corrupted: The Oil for Food Scandal And the Threat to the U.N.
by Mark Califano and Jeffrey Meyer
After reading this book, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to read the entire Independent Inquiry Committee report. This book is fairly brief summary of the findings of the U.N.’s independent investigation into the oil-for-food scandal. In it’s roughly 250 pages you get a picture of what has to be the worst management and oversight job ever. You’re confronted with tales of missed opportunities, corruption, and negligence on page after page.
It’s hard to be surprised that Iraq attempted to circumvent the sanctions and corrupt the oil-for-food program. We all know the horror stories of that regime and corruption is nothing next to them. They seemed to have tried what you’d expect: bribe top officials (i.e. the Secretary General, though they appear to have failed), “surcharges” on oil contracts, kickbacks on humanitarian contracts, smuggled oil, sketchy oil allocations to important people, etc. Iraq succeeded at all of those and it’s not surprising. However, the scale at which they succeeded and the scale of the failure of oversight is remarkable. Top officials literally refused to do their job. Officials like Benon Sevan, the director of the program. He was receiving oil allocations from Iraq on the side, while essentially refusing to investigate charges of kickbacks and illegal surcharges. It’s absolutely pathetic. The 661 committee, the committee set up to oversee the program (notable members being France, Russia, and the U.S.), failed miserably as well. Russia stonewalled most oversight and restrictions on Iraq, probably due to state energy companies being the biggest buyers of Iraqi oil. The U.S. and Britain made some noises, but even they were more concerned with looking out for “dual-use” goods than actually overseeing the program. Describing one remarkable incident, the authors detail how the U.S. seems to have essentially turned a blind eye to oil smuggling by Iraq to Jordan.
As I said, failure at every level. The book wraps up with a list of recommendations, some of which, according to Paul Volcker’s introduction, have been implemented. Several key players in the scandal have been indicted. So, there is hope. Califano and Meyer make an admittedly dry subject interesting and easy to understand, thankfully. The book moves quickly enough and has just the right amount of detail to allow to understand the issues, but not get lost in them. No small task considering the subject matter. This is for all intents the definitive account of the oil-for-food scandal. It’s not pretty and it presents great challenges to the U.N. I can only hope they’re met.
I’m not an activist. I readily admit this. So, this may not carry much weight, but in any case: this is pointless. Can anyone actually give me an example of war that was stopped by protests? Don’t tell me Vietnam; people hated the protesters more than the damn war. I suspect the same thing is true now, to some extent. The war is going poorly and the premises have dissolved, so public opinion has turned against it.
Seriously, do these protests do anything more than give the idiots on TV an opportunity to ridicule the lunatic fringe and celebrities such protests inevitably attract?
Random fact 1:
Whatever part of the brain we use to gage a person’s age based on outward appearance is completely broken for me. Anyone from my age to mid-30s is in a broad “older than me” category. Beats me.
Random fact 2:
Norway has declared iTunes illegal. That seems silly.
Random fact 3:
How could it all go so wrong:
The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma”, the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.
The text, which opens with the line “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised”, calls for anyone caught evangelising to be imprisoned. It advises: “The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilise its weakness.”
The document, shown to The Sunday Telegraph by human rights groups, may have been produced by a state-sponsored Buddhist group, but with the tacit approval of the military junta. The regime has denied authorship of the document – which also calls for teenagers to be prevented from wearing Western clothes – but has made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents.
Every year the Buffalo Beast does this and it’s hilarious. Fifty most loathsome people in America for 2006:
40. Alex Jones
Charges: A blustery schizoid moron who makes everyone near him look like an ass just for not punching him when they have the chance. False prophet of the lunatic fringe’s lunatic fringe, Jones has crafted a paranoid alternate reality incorporating every cockamamie conspiracy ever conceived, from the “murder” of Princess Di to “Atlantis was an inside job.” It’s all done by the Freemasons or the Bilderbergers, or something like that; politicians and world leaders who meet and perform secret satanic rituals, as if that would be worse than the things they really do in the light of day. Question authority, kids, but question raving maniacs too. We wouldn’t be surprised if Jones actually works for the Feds as an agent provocateur to make the left look stupid. Lord knows it worked on those “Loose Change” douchebags.
Exhibit A: The ultimate proof that Jones is full of shit is that he’s still alive.
Sentence: Abducted via black helicopter and detained indefinitely in secret FEMA internment camp where men in black ski masks insert microchips into his brain, just as he secretly wishes.
38. Carlos Mencia
Charges: A German-Honduran who pretends to be Mexican so he can engage in jovial slurs about “beaners” and “wetbacks.” Repeatedly says “what?” and “no, I’m serious!” during his stand up routines, as if his audience is blown away by his tiresome retreading of age-old ethnic and gender clichés and his bellowing one-note delivery. Imagines himself to be some kind of envelope-pushing genius despite the fact that his entire body of work is a series of variations on the hackneyed “white guys do this, black guys do this” routine that has launched a thousand careers in stand-up mediocrity. What’s that you say, Carlos? Asians can’t drive? Gee, we’ve never heard that before. A well-known joke thief, Mencia can’t even write his own shitty, hackneyed material.
Exhibit A: Actual name is Ned Holness.
Sentence: Deported to Mexico.
25. Deepak Chopra
Charges: Widely regarded by new age simpletons to be a font of wisdom, Chopra peddles a chutney-flavored weak anthropic principle based on the usual dippy claptrap about “universal energy” and a profoundly erroneous extrapolation of quantum physics. An accused plagiarist and sexual harasser, Chopra entreats his readers to abandon their silly religious traditions—and adopt his. Pitching a watered-down Hinduism as some perfect union of science and spirituality while supporting Intelligent Design and purporting to “prove” the existence of an afterlife, Chopra’s work proves only one thing: he’s just another mystical moron providing a psychic security blanket to soft-skulled suckers.
Exhibit A: Suggested a Middle East Disney World and Iraqi Nickelodeon to mollify their rage.
Sentence: Five years shoveling actual bullshit.
And you can’t leave out the worst:
1. John McCain
Charges: The most consistently mischaracterized politician in the country, even McCain’s most nakedly self-serving machinations are universally hailed as the bold moves of an independent maverick who really, really, like, cares, man. By virtue of his five-year stay at the Hanoi Hilton and a completely ineffectual campaign finance reform bill (which was itself only PR damage control for his long-forgotten role in the Keating Five), McCain has so successfully snowed America the he could go around kicking puppies all day and he’d be applauded for his authenticity. In reality, McCain is as phony as slimeballs come, having reversed his positions on Roe v. Wade, Bush’s tax cuts, the gay marriage amendment and Jerry Falwell in the last year alone, while the mainstream press looked away and whistled nonchalantly. Keeps changing the number of additional troops he thinks should be sent to Iraq, in hopes of extending the disaster beyond the next presidential election, so his decorated veteran status will still be relevant.
Exhibit A: “I hated the gooks, and I will hate them for as long as I live.”
Sentence: Back to the bamboo cage.
So, I was watching the Saints – Eagles game last Saturday. During the course of the game they showed a shot of a crowd member wearing an obscene t-shirt. I remember thinking, did that really say “Fuck da Eagles?” It was on screen for no more than a second, if that, and I wasn’t sure if it actually said fuck on the shirt. I promptly forgot about the incident. The same cannot be said for others:
The January 13 FOX broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, which included a camera view of a fan with an obscene word on her shirt, is now the subject of calls for the Federal Communications Commission to enforce indecency laws — and to ignore what one watchdog group calls a “fake apology” from the network.
American Family Association spokesperson Cindy Roberts says network television has chosen, once again, to pull a surprise on families viewing prime time programming. “What’s bad about that,” she notes, “is you’re sitting around the television having family time with your children, not expecting to see anything profane or inappropriate, and there it is.”
It was on for, like, a second. Is a random glimpse of a swear word on a t-shirt really something to get in a huff about? Sheesh.
Both the American Family Association and the Parents Television Council are calling on their members to file viewer complaints with the FCC over its airing of profanity during the recent FOX NFL broadcast. In fact, the Council feels FOX owes the game’s sponsors a refund of their advertising dollars due to the incident, and the group is calling on the network to pay up.
Well, the Council appears to be composed of morons, doesn’t it?
Obligatory YouTube video here.