Friday, March 31, 2006

Stupid Mr Kaloogian

Here we go again. We return back to this weeklong conservative whining about the lack of "good news" from Iraq. One future congressman took it to the next level. Howard Kaloogian, a Republican from California, published on his website a photo of Baghdad, showing a calm, peaceful, almost idyllic city, saying "We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be."

But Mr Kaloogian had a problem. The Truth Nazis at DailyKos had already swung into action, and based on investigation, common sense and a healthy mistrust of anything that ever came out of a Republican's mouth, discovered that the idyllic picture Mr Kaloogian had purportedly snapped was not really Baghdad, but Istanbul, Turkey. Ah, that explains the hand-holding woman in the picture, you say? Correct.

Then, Mr Kaloogian, who, by the way, has now been informed by Fox News that they have a news anchor position waiting for him in that organization just in case he decides to leave Congress, replaced the fake Baghdad photo on his website with a (purportedly) real one taken from a hilltop which might as well have been taken from Mars.

But this is what puzzles me. On his website, Mr Kaloogian says, "I just returned from a 10-day trip to Iraq to talk to our soldiers and Marines about their experiences in the war against terrorism." So are we to believe that even after travelling to Iraq with a camera, a crate of Dasanis, an all-consuming mistrust of the American media and a fanatical eagerness to take pictures of a calm and stable Iraq, all he could come up with was the snapshot of an Istanbul neighbourhood? What does this say about his claim of media bias then?

If Howard Kaloogian, an extremely biased pro-war Republican wannabe congressman, wasn't able to capture a single scene of calmness and stability in Iraq during the course of his travels within that country, instead, having to bolster his argument of Iraqi progress by presenting a fake photo as evidence, doesn't it basically tell us that there is no discernible progress in Iraq? That his entire argument is false? That the media isn't being biased and that its reporting accurately depicts the violence occurring over there?

Either that or Mr Kaloogian accidentally flew to Turkey instead of Iraq, took pictures of Istanbul thinking it was Baghdad, and now he cannot admit it because it would make him look like a fool. Take your pick.

Jury still out on whether praying helps gunshot victims

The results of a new study were released whose purpose was to determine whether praying for heart patients aided in their convalescence. The answer, unfortunately, turned out to be "What are you, an idiot?" In fact, a greater proportion of patients who were aware of the praying efforts being undertaken on their behalf had further medical complications. These complications were reportedly caused due to hospital staff leaving their posts in order to join the prayer team in singing devotional hymns in the lobby.

Researchers were adamant that this study was not meant to prove or disprove the existence of God. As the lead researcher emphasized, "That's a question for another time and another fake research project to delve into."

This project was funded by the Templeton Foundation, an institute whose mission involves identifying the best methods for injecting religion and superstition into science without actually appearing to do so. In that, it follows in the pioneering footsteps of the Discovery Institute which is currently engaged in the admirable task of attempting to discredit the theory of evolution by asking pertinent questions such as "if mankind did actually descend from apes, how come men don't enjoy flinging their own faeces at others as much as they used to?" The Templeton Institute has also previously allocated funding for scientific projects such as "Does reading the Bible four times a week inhibit tooth decay" and "Can conversion to Christianity be an effective tool to be abused by a daughter-beating Afghani asshole in order to obtain political asylum in a developed country governed by a fundamentalist Christian moron."

Although the research project might appear to have been a failure due to 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developing a complication, versus 52 percent of those who didn't, the Foundation is calling the exercize a success since it does not conclusively disprove the role of prayer in helping to heal gunshot victims. In order to carry out further research on that issue, the foundation has applied for additional grants from the American nutjob community.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Freedom on our terms

Bush on Iraqi freedom :

"History will prove whether I'm right. I think I'll be right because do believe freedom is universal."

Bush on the duly elected Iraqi Prime Minister :

Senior Shiite politicians said today that the American ambassador has told Shiite officials to inform the Iraqi prime minister that President Bush does not want him to remain the country's leader in the next government.

Bush on Iraqi freedom :

"I remember it wasn't all that long ago that 11 million Iraqi's went to the polls in the face of terrorist threats... and said, we want to be free... That sentiment still exists in Iraq."

Bush on the duly elected Iraqi Prime Minister :

Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc.

Fucking hypocrite. And finally,

"How can they do this?" Mr. Ubady, a spokesman for Mr Jaafari said. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

"The perception is very strong among certain Shia parties that the U.S., led by Khalilzad, is trying to unseat Jaafari," he added.

You know what, lets just send Jeb Bush over to Iraq. Looks like he'll be the only person America will be happy to hand over a democratic Iraq to.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How to win the war in Iraq Bush-style

President Bush is miffed at the American media. And rightly so too. The evil conglomerate of American newspapers, television networks and online news outlets is turning out to be the shadowy figure behind the scenes responsible for the rapid descent of Iraq into a civil war. The reasoning behind this is so flawless, only someone who is not the president of the US or one of his conservative minions could fail to grasp the beauty of its logic. The president's treatise is that the war in Iraq has already been won by coalition troops. Iraq is blossoming into a prosperous and healthy democracy. However, it is the American media who is guilty of an irresponsible and abject failure in heralding this great American victory and communicating it to an anxious citizenry back home.

The president spent all of last week vociferously elaborating this point through news conferences and press releases. Ironic, considering that he was relaying his message about the untrustworthiness and incompetence of the media, through the media. But his point was that the real reason behind the American public's disenchantment with the Iraq war has less to do with America's performance in that war and more to do with the public's perception of that performance. Now, many people have been placing the blame for the Iraqi debacle squarely on insufficient troop numbers on the ground in Iraq. And since military recruitment numbers have been going down, the only way this problem could have been solved was by reinstating the mandatory military draft. You know, that hallowed American practice of the 60's where they used to grab babies from their cribs and place them in foxholes. But now we know it's not really the troop level we need to be worried about. It's the reporter level in Iraq that is the problem. Insufficient journalists on the ground to cover all the good news that is not making it's way across the Atlantic, is what's behind the cherrypicked bad press coverage of the recent spurt of violence in Iraq. Due to a lack of manpower, reporters will only publish the interesting stories. Stories of violence and gore. Not stories of humanity and kindness and progress. At least, that's the treatise.

As the president informed us, the US is lacking journalists who will venture into terrorist infested neighbourhoods outside the Baghdad green zone in order to relay back all the cute happy cuddly news that cannot, in the words of conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, be effectively ascertained merely by standing on a hotel balcony and peering through binoculars. Far too much good news that is trying to make its way through the swirling smoke hovering above Iraqi streets after an IED explosion, has been lost due to uncooperative and cowardly reporters who will merely give it a passing glance as they hungrily snap pictures of smoldering cars and charred bodies. In fact, it is only a select few of that profession who will bother to look past all the charnel-house scenes prevalent in big cities such as Baghdad, Fallujah and Najaf and engage in some good old-fashioned field-journalism in the smaller villages and towns where Iraqis in possession of their heads still outnumber those who don't.

So this is my recommendation to President Bush. Forget about increasing troop levels. Hell, send all the troops back home. 'Cause they've already accomplished what they set out to do. Saddam Hussain is gone and Iraq has been handed over to the bloodthirsty religious militia. Which was the plan in the first place. Now it's time to put the press to work and institute a mandatory draft for journalists. It is time for the media to step in and finish off the mission by feeding the American people lies and half-truths, by painting a picture of Iraqi Valhalla where smiling Sunni insurgents lay down their weapons and lovingly place flowers in the hair of their Shia brethren as they sit together on a grassy meadow with a picnic basket, holding hands and watching the sun set in the west. We need more reporters in Iraq who will selectively sift through all the useless chaff of explosions, beheadings and lootings in order to find the hard-to-obtain grains of happiness. We need someone who, when faced with an image of bodies rotting in a gutter, will actually look past all that grimness and pessimism and capture the innocent delight of little children as they play with those corpses, exuding a joy that can only be attributed to living in a Saddam-free Iraq.

And having a mandatory journalist draft would also allow those conservative columnists who, uptil now, had been shackled in their whoring for the White House by concerns for their own life. Concerns that disallowed them from being any more proactive than watching CNN and screaming at the lack of good news on it. These people would now be able to take matters into their own hands and be footsoldiers in the war against bad truthful press by marching to the battlefront and engaging in some patriotic misreporting. And that's what America needs right now, not more soldiers in Iraq who would actually keep the peace, but more American media outlets that would broadcast an illusion of peace.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Awwwww" moment of the day

The ACLU as everyone knows, stands for the "American Civil Liberties Union". Which basically means, that it is an institution whose objective is to protect civil rights and liberties of the individual. So how do you react when a right-wing website calling itself Stop the ACLU pens a blogpost decrying the execution of an Afghan Muslim who's being sentenced to death for committing the sin of converting to Christianity?

"Awwwwww, how cute", you go. "Stop the ACLU is actually defending people's civil rights", you say. "Come here, Stop the ACLU, let me pat your head", you say. "My, how you've grown, welcome to the world of adults. Now sit tight while we explain to you where babies come from and how your body's gonna change in the coming months as you begin to bleed outta strange places."

But seriously, do you think Stop the ACLU would have cared as much if it were an Aghan Muslim who'd turned to atheism and been sentenced for that crime? Hell, forget Stop the ACLU, you think anyone in this country would have cared? Would Michelle Malkin have scampered off to attend a rally in his defense? You think President Bush would have exerted political pressure on the Afghan government to release him if the guy had been a vegan Budhhist who drank his own urine? Fuck no. Which is why it's so goddamned cute to see all these right-wing hypocrites all dancing around waving their hands in the air making a huge fucking deal about Abdul Rahman.

Now, I've got nothing against Mr Rahman, in fact, he has my full and unquestioning sympathy and in my opinion, any government that has a clause in its constitution that says religious conversion is punishable by death is a government comprised of fascists. But what do you think is actually going on today in Afghanistan anyways? Rahman's probably just one of thousands of people whose rights are being violated in that country which is basically still being ruled by religious clerics, if you believe media reports. But Rahman has one thing going for him. The only difference between him and the others is that he's being executed for conversion to Christianity. He gets all the media attention because he's an elite soldier in this great motherfucking religious war. And that's why protecting his civil liberties is so fucking important to Malkin, to Bush, to Stop the ACLU and every other right-wing asshole who never raised a single voice of protest when their own government was torturing and executing innocent Muslim prisoners in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. So it's not about civil rights and liberty and freedom as they want you to believe, it's about a Muslim government killing a converted Christian.

And that's the "Awwww" moment of the day. Enjoy your fucking weekend.

Update : I think this picture from the Save Abdul Rahman rally explains the right-wing attitude better than anything else.

Dear faceless shithead behind the stupid-ass signboard, the difference between you and the ACLU is that the ACLU fights for civil rights regardless of the religion of the victim it is representing.

Another blog post on the same site titled "Could I be more American right now", says :

"On the way back to the office, I swung by McDonald's, and now I'm chowing on a Quarter Pounder meal that cost $5 and was served to me in, literally, 15 seconds. This is why we fight, folks."

Indeed. And that's what Abdul Rahman is fighting for as well. The opportunity to chew on a McDonald's burger a mere 15 seconds after he orders it.

Advani to use form-changing Rath for Yatra

BJP leader L.K Advani, who will be embarking on a National Integration Yatra to protest the Varanasi bombings, has said that he will be using a state-of-the-art chameleonic Rath that would be able to change its appearance at will.

Mr Advani, in a press conference, said that due to his stature as a prominent leader of the country, it was imperative for him to do all he could to protect his own well-being during the Yatra even as he set out on an expedition that is sure to endanger others'. Since the Yatra would be passing through numerous territories hostile to him and his ideology, he would be taking the precaution of driving a Rath that would be able to change its appearance according to the ethnicity of the neighbourhood it would be passing through.

While moving through a Muslim-dominated area, the Rath would be able to borrow a page from Mr Advani's politics and assume the shape of a Crescent in order not to incur the wrath of its residents. In case the Yatra were to strike camp in a Naxal infested forest, the Rath would promptly change its color to red and modify its shape to resemble a hammer and sickle. And even though the itinerary currently does not include a detour through Pakistan, the Rath is fully capable of featuring Mohammed Ali Jinnah's smiling visage on its side if the occasion were to demand it. Only after the Rath reaches the safety of its final Hindu-populated destination of Varanasi would it assume its original form as Lord Rama's war-chariot by turning into an air-conditioned Mazda bus, equipped with an internet connection and a DVD player.

The Rath would also be featuring bullet-proof glass windows in order to disallow Mr Advani from reflexively shooting at Muslim protesters who are sure to line the streets, demonstrating against the Yatra as it passes by.

Congress and Communist party leaders are calling the Yatra a political gimmick designed to instigate communal unrest within the country, saying that they will be organizing their own Rath Yatra in protest, featuring a state-of-the-art Rath that would be powered by human muscle due to ideological constraints.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is Jesus an introvert?

Sometimes it so happens that you read two things one right after the other and have a brainstorm. For example, take this incredibly accurate article about introverts (via Jabberwock), and then this story (via Pharyngula) where some churchgoing folk in Alabama observed that Hurricane Katrina had buckled their church's dry wall into an image, which, to their pious eyes, appeared to bear a pretty striking resemblance to their crucified Lord and Savior. The article further goes on to say that numerous people, after touching this dry-wall, were healed of their ailments, most prominently a guy who got his kidneys healed and a woman whose eyesight underwent significant improvement.

So lets consider three possible scenarios, the first of which assumes that the churchgoing folk are correct in their assumption that the dry-wall is actually a manifestation of Jesus Christ who has temporarily taken up residence in the church. Based on these facts, let us try and construct a psychological profile of the guy. Why would Mr Christ, if he really wished to make his presence felt to all mankind, turn to such a low-key location such as this bombed out church, that too, in Shitholeville, Alabama? 'Cause if I were Jesus, and I were to decide, fuck this, I've had it with this godforsaken shadowy life where some atheistic fools are even beginning to question my very existence. "Father, I'll be right back, I'm just gonna step into the spotlight for a second, let me know if you need anything from the grocery", I would call out to God as I leave my heavenly abode and walk on to the heavenly escalator that would take me down to earth.

And I sure-as-hell, pardon my French, wouldn't choose the Triumph Learning and Worship Center for Life in Saraland, Alabama to be the site of my miracle. No, sir. Not some crummy old dry-wall in a crummy old town. You know what would be a great miracle instead, one that would capture the hearts and minds of the faithful and cause non-believers to shit their pants in fear and join the Republican Party? I would turn the entire Statue of Liberty into my crucifixion. And instead of holding the torch I would just give the world the finger. They've had it coming for a while. And rather than make 'em take a Greyhound bus to Saraland Alabama (I don't even know if Greyhound does Alabama) to get healed after touching the dry-wall, I would just make 'em take the elevator to Lady Liberty's thorn-covered head and offer a simple prayer. Wouldn't that allow me to heal many more people at a time? Surely there are a lot more sick people in Manhattan and the Tri-state area than there are in Saraland, Alabama? 'Cause if I had the power to heal people and I didn't, what would that make me? A callous cruel bastard, that's what. Why would anyone even pray to me then?

But apparently Jesus isn't entering Lady Liberty's copper body. Instead, he's down south in Saraland, Alabama, sitting in a fucking dry-wall which probably smells like a sewer too 'cause of the hurricane. And the only scientific explanation behind Jesus' strangely antisocial behavior is that he's actually an introvert. He doesn't prefer to be in the limelight. He is only comfortable among a small group of men, mostly his friends, and has to take a couple of hours off for every hour he has to turn "on" in order to interact socially as he performs miracles.

Either that, or the entire story is bogus, it's a scam pulled off by the Triumph Learning and Worship Center for Life in Saraland, Alabama in order to extort cash from the gullible fools that comprise the citizenry in that neck of the woods.

The third and final scenario is one that I would very much hope for. Namely, that dry-wall has miraculous curative properties and that touching it can cure maladies as diverse as kidney failure and a poor eyesight. Hey, maybe it could even be the elusive AIDS medicine we've been looking for all this time. Or it could be that other elusive drug, the functionally impeccable erection inducer that never ever leads to a 4 hour erection, not even in the rarest of rare cases that might require you to go to a doctor and explain why you were taking an erection inducer in the first place. It might be too soon to celebrate, but hell, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If you didn't hear anything, that was the sound of Glenn Reynolds not making a point

That strange little man Glenn Reynolds with his strangely popular blog Instapundit writes a characteristically inane post which seemingly doesn't make any point at all. As is expected, every right wing-blogger and his uncle have linked to this post 'cause there's a general consensus among the rubes that if Reynolds writes a post, even if it's just a list of winning numbers for the Oklahoma State lottery, it is worthy enough to be linked. So anyways, Reynolds points to this post by someone calling himself Proud Kaffir at who says that the media shouldn't compare the Iraq war to Vietnam because not enough soldiers are dying in Iraq to merit the comparison.

You know how you sometimes go to a theater to watch a movie with your buddies and when its done and finished and you leave the movie theater saying, fuck what an amazing movie, the plot was superb and all, but I just can't figure out why the hero killed his partner towards the end. And then your buddies look at you like you're retarded and gently, in a manner befitting the occasion, ask you if you understood the plot at all?

Someday hopefully soon, there will be a day in the life of Proud Kaffir when he will understand the plot. Till then, I will take up the onerous task of explaining it to him. See, Proud Kaffir, whenever we, the anti-war brigade, speak of Iraq being a quagmire like Vietnam, we say it strictly in terms of the literal meaning of the word quagmire, which is a word used metaphorically to describe military campaigns characterized by small hope of victory, poorly-defined objectives and/or no clear exit strategy. I lifted it right from Wikipedia. You may look it up at your own leisure. So you see, Mr Proud Kaffir, the Iraq-Vietnam comparison has nothing to do with the number of lives lost in those wars. It is a matter of both wars being prolonged conflicts, both having being waged unnecessarily with little or no planning having gone into their culmination. Please let me know when this nugget of logic permeates to your brain. That way, through some quick mathematical calculation, I will be able to estimate the thickness of your skull.

Then, Glenn Reynolds, being smarter (one would assume) than the Proud Kaffir, omits any mention of the Vietnam comparison in his link to the post, instead, making another, even more irrelevant point. He provides us with some figures of the number of casualties during the reigns of the past 4 presidents of the United States and shows us that George W Bush didn't kill as many American soldiers during his presidency as the media believes. And he ends his post with the statement

"You'd think this would get more attention."

Why should this get more attention? What point is he making exactly? That since a lesser number of soldiers died during Bush's regime, that makes the Iraq war okay? Again, let me explain the point to Glenn. We, the anti-war brigade, are not opposing this war merely because it is killing American soldiers. We are opposing it because we feel that this war has been waged on fundamentally flawed grounds and false pretenses. So, Mr Reynolds, please, please, I beg of you, the next time you link to someone, at least have a coherent reason for doing so. And a point would also be a nice thing to have.

HHS warns Americans to get ready for mercury poisoning epidemic

After warning Americans about the imminent bird flu pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has gone one step further and warned of a mercury poisoning epidemic that is expected to follow shortly thereafter.

Mr Leavitt, correctly recognizing that Americans needed to be educated about safety precautions to follow while battling out a full fledged onslaught of the dreaded bird flu virus, recently encouraged Americans to store extra cans of tuna under their beds that would act as emergency rations. Mr Leavitt's advice was, "When you go to the store and buy three cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed." Tuna, which is a food high in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and toxic mercury, is expected to cause a widespread epidemic of mercury poisoning after its indiscriminate consumption during the bird flu pandemic.

Seafood has recently been discovered to contain increasingly deleterious levels of mercury, tunafish, which the EPA has warned not to consume more than twice a week, being one of the worst offenders. Mercury that is belched into the atmosphere due to coal power plants then returns to the oceans through precipitation and dry deposit, where it is devoured greedily by irresponsible residents of the deep. Although the Bush administration has done more to reduce the amount of mercury being emitted into the atmosphere by removing all governmental regulations that would require power plant companies to do so, consumption of seafood more than twice a week still poses significant health risks, especially for pregnant women.

Mercury poisoning symptoms include increasingly nervous and irrational behavior, ultimately leading to dementia and zombification where the desire to feed on human brains overcomes every other natural urge. However, in spite of the health risks associated with its consumption, tuna would still remain Americans' only food source in case of a bird flu pandemic, chicken and beef being contaminated with the virus and vegetables not being delicious enough for an emergency.

HHS Secretary Leavitt has advised Americans to ride out the imminent mercury poisoned zombie epidemic in their own basements by keeping an extra shotgun under their beds close to the cans of tuna. In an emergency, the shotgun could also be used on one's own self in case the advent of self-zombification were to be detected in time.

In other news, the hugely publicized Operation "Swat Iraqi Farmer", or as it was known in the mainstream media, Operation Swarmer, was a complete success after American soldiers managed to get over their disappointment at failing to catch a single insurgent leader or having to fire a single shot by sampling native Iraqi delicacies such as freshly baked bread.

Friday, March 17, 2006


The more I read stuff by this guy, the more I experience an overpowering desire to always be on this guy's side of an argument, whichever side that may be. I guess that's the mark of a great debater. Luckily till now, it's always been that way. I have a suggestion though. Whenever he scatters his comments hither and thither all over the blogosphere, he should try to archive them on his own blog as well because he might be the first blogger whose comments are as, if not more relevant than his blogposts.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Birth control funds to be diverted towards building more prisons instead

The Missouri House today voted to ban state funding of contraceptives for low-income women, instead, transferring those funds to the Missouri Department of Corrections, which is in charge of building and maintaining the state's prisons. The money saved by allowing poor women to have unprotected sex and giving birth to unwanted babies will now be spent on housing those babies after they have attained adulthood and committed various acts of felony. (via RawStory)

Speaking about the proposal, Republican Rep. Susan Phillips said, "If the destitute cannot afford to have kids, they should stop fornicating. Although I know it can be difficult to stay celibate if you are unemployed and have lots of idle time on your hands."

However, social workers in the Kansas City area are concerned about the possible fallout due to the passage of the law. "More unwanted pregnancies in low-income women will lead to even more crowding at Kansas City Chiefs football games. And we all know that cheering conditions in Arrowhead stadium are already quite stifling."

The Missouri Department of Corrections applauded the passing of the proposal. "Missouri is facing a dire shortage of prisoners due to its rapidly declining crime rate", said a department spokesman. "Already, St Louis has dropped from being no.2 in the list of America's most crime-ridden cities to no.4. Unless something is done to increase the number of criminals in the state, we are all gonna be laid off. So it is a good move on the part of the state to allow more poor people to have kids who will be raised in squalid conditions and eventually turn to a life of crime."

Asked if Missouri already having passed an anti-gay marriage amendment would help fill up the state's prisons instead of having to rely on low-income babies, the spokesman replied, "We don't really have a lot of gay people here in Missouri, most of them turn homosexual only after entering our prison system. So we really need those poor people to breed like rabbits."

In other news, President Bush reiterated his support for pre-emptive warfare, saying that next time, he will be declaring war before his approval ratings go down, not afterwards.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Democrats seek to raise President Bush's poll numbers through greater ineptitude of their own

The Democratic party, setting aside policy differences with President Bush, has vowed to help him fight his battle against poor approval ratings by assuming a deliberate aura of extreme incompetence that transcends even his own.

Party spokesman Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), in a press conference said, "We need President Bush who, by the way, is a great kisser, to forget about all those polls that show that Americans aren't too crazy about the job he's been doing, and instead, focus on more important issues such as the war on terror. In order to achieve this, Democrats are willing to cast aside partisan politics and raise the president's poll numbers by assuming the mantle of ineptitude and detached nonchalance that would make his own ineptitude and detached nonchalance pale in comparison."

The Democratic plan to improve President Bush's poll numbers is a two-stage program. The first stage which is close to completion, involves berating the president publicly for illegally spying on Americans without a warrant. The second stage involves refusing to support a resolution sponsored by Sen Russ Feingold (D-Wis), which would censure the president for committing this act of illegality. These apparently contradictory actions of the Democratic party would achieve its ultimate objective of appearing to be hypocritical, unprincipled and a party that wouldn't be averse to selling it's own mother to the highest bidder in order to garner a few extra votes, all charges previously levelled by the same party against President Bush and the GOP.

Republicans are ecstatic and are embracing the Democrats' entry into the mainstream of beltway irrelevance and moral corruption. Rep Tom Delay (R-TX), in a welcoming banquet thrown for anti-censure Democrats at his Texas ranch, said, "This collapse of the Democratic spine sends a strong signal to terrorists around the world that America has succeeded in firmly putting down every internal opposition to the war in Iraq and giving the president total control over all three branches of the government. The establishment of a single-party authoritarian dictatorship in this country will no doubt be conducive to the unrestricted spread of democracy in the Middle-East."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Driving over the homeless

Salman Khan and I were driving around the city of Bombay in the dark. It had been a hectic day. Salman had killed terrorists, verbally jousted with his girlfriend's father, and just a few hours earlier, capped it all off with a romantic song and dance routine in Shivaji Park. Now his day was almost over and I, as his reliable sidekick, was accompanying him in his car as we made our way back home to catch some hours of sleep before we had to get up in the morning and do it all over again. I was nodding off in the passenger seat.

Suddenly Salman stopped at a traffic light and stared at the road ahead. "Fuck man, it's all dug up. The road's a nasty mess."
I stared too. He was right.
"It's gonna take a couple of grand off the value of my car", he said.
"I guess so", I replied. "But whatchu gonna do"?

Salman looked left and right. "I'm gonna drive over the sidewalk", he finally said. "The sidewalk is alright".
Even in the dark, I could make out bodies lying prostate on the sidewalk.
"There are people sleeping out there, Salman", I said.
"So what?" he asked me.
"I don't know if you've been following the news, but they made it illegal to drive over the homeless", I said.
"What?" Salman was astounded. "You mean to say that they took away my God-given freedom to drive indiscriminately over the bodies of people sleeping on the sidewalk?"
"Well, yes, the government did pass a law that forbids doing just that", I said.
"But that doesn't make any sense. It's just one of those bureaucratic regulations that help no one", said Salman.
"It will help the sleeping homeless who otherwise would have had to be killed under your wheels", I said.
"But the homeless shouldn't be sleeping there in the first place", said Salman. "Why is the government getting involved in controlling the choices people make about their own lives? The homeless know that if they sleep on the sidewalk, they could get run over by people like me. If these people are such idiots, maybe the government shouldn't even allow them to vote."

"They are sleeping on the sidewalk because they have nowhere else to go", I said.
"Stop stop, you're bleeding all over my new sneakers. I think it's your heart", said Salman. "Anyways, I don't think imposing new regulations is the answer. If there's one thing India doesn't need, it's more bureaucracy".
"I hate regulations as much as you do", I said. "However, some regulations are essential for maintaining law and order. Some are necessary to prevent the weak in society from being taken advantage of by the strong."

"Yeah, I AM pretty strong". He flexed his biceps for me.
"I meant strong in terms of your influence in society", I said.
He stopped flexing. "But regulations only add to the bureaucratic red tape", said Salman. "A much better solution would be to allow these people to sue me AFTER I run them over."
"How would that help the people you ran over?", I asked.
"Well, once people begin to sue me, the benefits of running people over would be outweighed by the cost of defending lawsuits filed against me and I would probably get over that habit", said Salman. "That's how the free market works".
I spotted the loophole in his reasoning.
"But it could be years till your civil case even appears in court", I said.

Salman was looking at himself in the car mirror. "Is that a hair growing on my chest?", he asked.
I inspected his freshly shaven skin. "No, it's just a shadow", I said.
Salman breathed a sigh of relief. "What were you saying?", he asked.
"I said it could be years till you see the inside of a court", I said, "Plus with all the people suing each other, the backlog's gonna increase".

"Precisely. Which is why legislative regulations are what we need to enact, not bureaucratic ones", he asserted. "People should be able to sue each other freely. The government should stay out of the suing business."
"But what about all the people who will be lining the rubber of your wheels by the time these regulations come into effect?" I was skeptical of his claims.
"Well, too bad for 'em. As I said, they should be intelligent and refrain from sleeping on the sidewalk".

I noticed that the argument had begun to go around in circles.

"You know, there's an easier solution", I said. "Instead of driving over those people, you could just take a different route that would avoid turning their bodies into a mass of bloody pulp."
"That's an inefficient use of my time and resources", yelled Salman. "I cannot afford to do that. And neither can this country".
"Ok, in that case, let me out", I said. I stepped out of the car.
"See you later, commie", spat Salman through his window.
"Ok, and hey, don't forget to wear your shirt tomorrow", I said. "It's gonna be a cold day."
"Fuck the cold", he said, as he revved up his car and drove into the sea of bodies. I turned around to walk to the bus stop. The cries of anguish behind me signalled the triumph of deregulation.

Update : Mercatus with a less frivolous take on the matter.

Update2 : Since Salman basically flouted the no-homeless-killing-by-running-them-over regulation, it cannot be called as the triumph of deregulation. However, since he was ultimately prosecuted, the entire incident could be termed a triumph of regulation.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

Protesters rally against killings in anti-Bush protest

Protesters throughout India took to the streets today to rally against the killing of three Indians in an anti-Bush protest. In a massive demonstration in New Delhi, protesters sported banners saying "Down with Bush, the murderer of Iraqis and anti-Bush protesters" as they expressed their disapproval at the man responsible for the murder of people holding him responsible for the murder of thousands. These protests later ended with the killing of ten more protesters as police moved in to control the mob. Further protests are planned for tomorrow to protest against the killings in the protests against the killings in the anti-Bush protests.

Elsewhere, security was tight in Pakistan where the President was supposed to visit after his trip to India. Speaking about concerns for the safety of the president and his entourage, Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, a senior Interior Ministry official said, "We have made foolproof arrangements for the safe stay of President Bush." He added, "It means that even if the president were to try and assasinate himself, he would fail."

To celebrate President Bush's visit to the country, the Pakistani city of Lahore combined anti-Bush flag-burning festivities with anti-Danish cartoon demonstrations. "We have activities suitable for the entire infidel-hating family all under one roof", said a spokesman for the city governing council. "You hate America, we have a flammable George Bush effigy. You hate Denmark, we give you a personalized Danish cartoonist fatwa declaration to sign and frame on your wall. You hate your Christian neighbour, we give you a poodle with dysentery that will shit all over his lawn".

As night fell, UPI reported four men standing on a busy street in Lahore with a sign reading "Boycott all goods from Denmark." They were however soon surrounded by a dozen police within minutes and taken away in a pickup truck that, ironically, was manufactured in Denmark.

Blame the scheduler

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his calm way gave President Bush the finger for not visiting the Taj Mahal during his visit to India (via WTF).
To the First Lady, Mr Singh said, "I am truly sorry the president is not taking you to Taj Mahal this time. I hope he will be less of a pussy about hobnobbing with the natives more chivalrous next time you are here."

As is his habit, the President blamed someone else for the lapse in judgement.
"Look, if I were the scheduler, perhaps I'd be doing things differently," he said. "But you want me doing one thing. I'll be the president, we've got the scheduler being the scheduler."

Maybe it would be better for the country and the world if he were to take over scheduling duties and his scheduler were to take over as the president. Regardless of who his scheduler is.

I gotta get me some of what he's smokin'

Instapundit continues to blog in a cocaine haze. Jesus, I just can't see why such a huge section of the blog-reading populace considers him to be their primary source of news and opinion. There's really no explanation for this bizarre statement of his :

The news is that the port-deal publicity is dying down, Iraq's not in a civil war, and we need something to fill the headlines with anti-Bush stuff.

Er what? Port-deal publicity dying down? Iraq's not in a Civil war? The media's putting in extra efforts on putting out anti-Bush headlines?

Get your head out of your ass, soldier. That's an order.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Aishwarya Rai to represent Bollywood at Indo-US nuclear talks

Former Miss World and Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai has been chosen to represent Bollywood interests during negotiations on the Indo-US nuclear deal that is expected to go down this week. The deal, which would officially legitimize India's status as a nuclear power in the eyes of the US by allowing her access to nuclear fuel and technology in return for opening up her reactors to international safeguards and inspection, is expected to be signed during President Bush's visit to India.

The powerful Indian film-making lobby which has a big stake in how these negotiations turn out, will be represented by Ms Rai who, through her extensive experience in looking ravishing on screen, will be assigned the responsibility of making sure that Indian nuclear interests get a fair hearing during the discussions. Earlier, the Indian Film-makers Association had looked into the possibility of recruiting popular actor Aamir Khan as its ambassador, one of the few Indian film personalities with a modicum of recognition in the US through his groundbreaking film "Lagaan" which made it to the Oscar awards. However, Mr Khan expressed his unwillingness to hobnob with the leader of the free world, the leader of the free world, in his opinion, being an imperialist pig.

Although Ms Rai is Bollywood's foremost expert on nuclear fuel enrichment technology, her assignment during these negotiations will be more of an ambassadorial nature. She is expected to be a fiercely aggressive negotiator who, through her expressive facial expressions accompanied by intermittent coy glances through the translucent fabric of her dupatta, should be successful in persuading President Bush in not requiring India to open up all its reactors to international scrutiny, especially the fast-breeders which, Ms Rai claimed, India has a technological edge in.

A spokesman for the Indian External Affairs ministry confirmed the immense value of Ms Rai's participation in the talks. "Indian films constitute the most recognizable face of India to the outside world", said the spokesman. "Hence, it is but natural that a Bollywood emissary be present during political discussions that might usher in a great new period in Indo-US relations. Ms Rai's presence, clad in suitably traditional Indian attire such as an embroidered silk saree, will also satisfy President Bush's desire to incorporate a dose of Indian culture into his visit."

Ms Rai, on being asked for a comment, replied, "It gives me great pride to be the only Indian woman to be invited to these negotiations along with the menfolk, most of whom are either from the industrial or the research sector. My presence during these negotiations should be a slap in the face of popular belief that women are good enough to be looked upon merely as vacuous objects of beauty."

When regulations are necessary

Abi points us to this article in Wired which talks about Indians being used as guinea pigs for testing newly invented drugs. Previously, the government had regulations in place that would make it mandatory for the drug manufacturer to have tested the drug in its place of origin before it made it's way to India. Now this regulation has been withdrawn. Proponents of unrestricted deregulation would probably celebrate this move, pointing to free market dynamics and the freedom for Indians to consensually place themselves in harm's way.

This illustrates one of the biggest reservations I have about libertarianism and its unbridled application to Indian society. Its strident focus on the freedom of choice accompanied by a noticeable lack of focus on the availability of knowledge that should guide that choice. The question we have to ask here is, were these people really making a free choice when they signed up to be tested?

"Little by little, however, Kalantri began to see the problematic side of outsourced trials. "When I try to explain that a drug is experimental, that it might not work, the understanding is not there," he observes. "One woman said to me, 'What do you mean, the drug might not work? All drugs work!'"
Hospitals and doctors recruiting these human guinea pigs have no qualms about not informing them regarding the possible dangers of being tested upon. After all, it is in their best interests to keep them in the dark. More the number of patients they corral, greater is the monetary remuneration from the drug company. Also, the citizens who do allow their bodies to be a testing ground for medicine are frequently too poor to weigh their options in an educated manner. Their thinking probably is, why not go for something that the doctor says can't be all that bad, especially if there's money to be earned from it as well as free treatment for the malady they are suffering from? Isn't it therefore obvious that some kind of governmental regulation is required to make sure that patients who go for these untested methods are aware of the risks?

The way I see it, without freedom of knowledge, an unregulated free market is a virtual impossibility. Till some kind of robust framework for knowledge dissemination, especially in the rural sector, has been set up that will allow people to make all their important decisions based on hard facts, the government has to step in and enact regulations that will prohibit anyone from taking advantage of an ill-informed and financially unendowed populace. Libertarianism might be the utopian ideal, but regulation is a current necessity.