Friday, February 20, 2004

I Thought We Wanted to get to the Bottom of 9/11

Hmm, the White House is stonewalling the investigation of 9/11:

"Feb. 18 - Faced with presidential resistance to turning over highly sensitive intelligence briefs, the commission investigating the September 11 terror attacks tried to learn the details in the documents by obtaining access to White House transcripts of interviews that senior officials gave to a prominent journalist, NEWSWEEK has learned.

The extraordinary access that top Bush administration officials gave Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward more than two years ago for his book, “Bush at War,” became a principal issue in the contentious battle between the September 11 panel and the White House over access to the President’s Daily Briefs or PDBs—the intelligence briefing report that is given to the president every morning.

Threatened with a subpoena for the documents, the White House relented somewhat last week and agreed to allow the full 10-member commission to hear a summary of key PDBs about the Al Qaeda terrorist threat that were given to Bush and before him, to President Clinton. The summary was prepared by a four-member team that was allowed to read under highly restrictive conditions hundreds of PDBs dating back to 1998.

Still, the last-minute deal, sources tell NEWSWEEK, came only after intense negotiations in which members of the federal panel repeatedly brought up the Woodward interviews as evidence of the administration’s hypocritical approach toward secrecy. How, commission officials demanded to know, could the White House deny a federal panel investigating the worst crime in U.S. history access to documents that it had already shared with a journalist?"

"But there is little doubt that Woodward got details of documents that are central to the commission’s investigation—and more than a little sensitive for the Bush White House. One intelligence document that Woodward described in a May, 2002 Washington Post story , although not in his book, is the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB given to Bush while on vacation at his ranch in Crawford. This is the day that intelligence officials briefed Bush on the prospect of an upcoming Al Qaeda attack and the prospect that terrorists might seek to hijack commercial airliners—a warning that critics have long charged should have triggered a more vigorous response from the White House. The title of the PDB, according to Woodward’s story, was more prophetic than the White House has ever acknowledged: 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.'"

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Rumsfield Fu

Rumsfield at his most lethal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Confessions of a Liberal Mind

Last Friday night, I had dinner with Caroline at Lucky Cheng's, an "interesting" restaurant in the East Village famous for its all-transsexual ensemble of waitresses. Although the restaurant only managed to garner a 9 out of 30 for food on the most recent Zagat's, I agreed to go with Caroline because I figured no one really goes there for the food anyways. It was a good thing that she called ahead and made a reservation for us since the place was packed with people waiting for tables.

After we sat down, it took me quite a while to find something that looked remotely palatable from the Asian fusion menu (I've always defined Asian fusion as Asian cuisine fused with shit). When our waitress Kasia, an Asian transsexual whose manly voice was somewhat incongruent with her voluptuous body, came to take our order, Caroline asked for a vegetarian entree but also ordered curry chicken soup. I ordered the vegetarian miso soup and quipped, "I'm usually the meat eater." To which Kasia replied, "Oh honey, I got plenty of meat if that's what you want!"

After we talked about the usual stuff, the topic turned to politics. Caroline revealed that she would probably vote for Bush come November because she is both socially and fiscally conservative. The socially conservative part seemed reasonable, so I asked her why the fiscal conservative side of her would support Bush given our looming $500 billion budget deficit. Her answer wasn't very convincing because I don't even remember what it was. Then she said she voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, which totally baffled me since Nader was the most liberal candidate and should not have appealed to Ms. College Republican President here.

I gave her some reasons that I won't be voting for the Republicans in the near future:

1. The social issues

* I'm very happy with all the gay marriages that are taking place in San Francisco right now. I think it's fucking awesome that these gay couples are finally gaining official recognition of their relationships, however brief that recognition may be. Frankly, I find it ludicrous that in this day and age we are still even debating whether gays and lesbians should be "allowed" to marry. Why shouldn't the state recognize the consensual bond between two adults in love just because of their sexual orientation? What exactly are the conservatives trying to protect by prohibiting gay marriage? The "sanctity of marriage"? I want to vomit every time I hear that argument. Is marriage as an institution really sacred if Britney Spears in a drunken stupor can get hitched in a gaudy Vegas wedding chapel and then get a quick divorce after she came to her senses? There are Hollywood stars who have had more failed marriages than I have shoes and yet no one is proposing a Constitutional amendment to limit the number of "holy" matrimonies in which a heterosexual could partake. Half of my friends, including Caroline herself, come from divorced homes. In what way would gay marriages threaten or destroy heterosexual marriages? It's not as if there is some constant for the number of marriages allowed in the universe so that an increase in homosexual marriages leads to an automatic reduction in heterosexual marriages. We heterosexuals can continue to fuck, marry and divorce as we please. What exactly is the problem here?

Should we tell this lesbian couple, who have been together for 51 years, sorry, you can't visit each other in the hospital if one of you is sick because you don't have next-of-kin visitation rights? Should we deny law-abiding citizens the 1400 federal and state legal rights (on average) that come with marriage just because some people happen to believe, however strongly, words in a book that might or might not have come from some omnipotent power that may or may not exist? I will give a damn about what the Catholic Church thinks after its priests stop molesting little kids.

What exactly is so harmful about two consenting adults taking a vow "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part"? I'm not going to have a heart attack or die from cancer and the polar ice caps won't all melt if all the gay people in Chelsea get married, which they can't as of now. There has been absolutely no evidence to suggest that children growing up in a homosexual household are any worse off than those raised in hetero households.

Claims from the right about a "homosexual agenda" and gays wanting "special rights" piss me off almost as much as the "sanctity of marriage." Gays and lesbians don't want to be different from us! They want the same rights as we do! In that sense, civil union is a total cop out. Allowing homosexual couples to have some or all of the benefits of marriage only through civil unions amounts to "separate but equal." In my mind, there is no difference between banning interracial marriage and banning gay marriage. A gay person is born gay the same way I'm born Chinese. He or she should not be forced to get "cured" to appease Bible humpers just as I shouldn't get cosmetic surgery to make me more pleasing to the eyes of white supremacists. To say that a gay person should not have the right to marry another gay person because they are "sinners" is like saying I can't marry some white girl because I'm a member of the inferior mongoloid race. If anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional, then anti-gay marriage laws must surely be struck down as well.

Caroline said she believes that the ultimate purpose of marriage should be procreation. Does that mean every couple should undergo infertility testing before they are allowed to marry? (The Chinese government used to require this). Does that mean people beyond the age of fertility should be barred from marriage? Actually, while she was saying that, I thought, so it's totally fine for you to be amused and entertained by these transsexuals, but it's not ok when they are ready to settle down and want to have families like you or me? I held my tongue.

Damn, I can't believe I wrote so much just on gay marriage. I will continue this multi-part "confession" later because I need to go to bed soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2004


Read this article earlier, which started with:

"A student group at Roger Williams University is offering a new scholarship for which only white students are eligible, a move they say is designed to protest affirmative action.

The application for the $50 award requires an essay on "why you are proud of your white heritage" and a recent picture to 'confirm whiteness.'"

Fair enough. It's their money, so they should set the criteria to their liking.

"Jason Mattera, 20, who is president of the College Republicans, said the group is parodying minority scholarships.

'White kids are at a handicap,' Mattera told The Providence Journal. 'Handing out scholarships based on someone's color is absurd.'"

Ok. I disagree with him, but he does raise an issue that's worth debating.

"Mattera, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is himself is a recipient of a $5,000 scholarship open only to a minority group.

'No matter what my ethnicity is, I'm making a statement that scholarships should be given out based on merit and need,' he said."

WHAT?!?! He is of course totally entitled to his opinions, but it seems hypocritical for him to be benefitting from the "absurd" system that he is fighting against. The phrase "biting the hand that feeds you" comes to mind.

So Much to Write...

Yesterday I finally checked out an exhibition at the Internationl Center for Photography. I've always found photo exhibits more promising than paintings and sculptures just because I'm less likely to see crap. The exhibition was titled "Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self" and showcased some provocative works about race, culture and diversity through the ages in America. Overall, I was very impressed by the artworks on display.

I found the following pieces most memorable:

* An article from Life Magazine in 1941 titled "How to Tell Japs from the Chinese." It was published shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack and purported to inform its angry readers the differences between the Chinese "innocent victims...whose homeland is our staunch ally" and "Japs." The article even included pictures of a "typical" Chinese man and a Japanese man, along with astute observations such as "never has rosy cheeks" for the Chinese and "massive cheek and jaw bone" for the Japanese scribbled on the pictures. I don't think I have ever heard of China being mentioned as "our staunch ally" since I moved to this country. I guess it's that whole Communism thing. The article was so absurd that I couldn't help but laugh. We have come a long way. Or have we?

* A picture by Roz Payne (I took this picture from here) taken at a 1969 rally for the release of Huey Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. This picture evoked a strong response from me because I was shocked to see Asians doing any kind of protesting in the 60's, given our reputation as a silent and passive group that has often refused to unite and protest the common injustices we've faced. And to see these two ordinary-looking Asian/American men proudly expressing their solidarity in open defiance of authority with a group as controversial as the Panther!! The "Yellow Peril Supports Black Power" sign just made the picture all the more poignant. I need to hang a copy of this picture on my wall, if I can find it.

* A picture of a geisha surrounded by a bunch of pictures of white guys. The wall on which the pictures are hung are covered by actual personal ads posted by white guys seeking Asian women. I think I have said all that needs to be said on this topic.

* Three pictures: 1.) portrait of a middle-aged black man, who looked like an honest, decent family man, taken in 1965; 2.) picture of the same man with a sack covering his head and a noose around his neck after he was hung on suspicion of killing a white man, also taken in 1965; 3.) picture of him lying in a coffin, looking serene.

* Before and after picture of a Native American man taken in the 1800's. Before: he appeared disheveled (the word "drunk" was somewhere in the caption underneath the photo). After: ten years later, he's clean cut and looks sharp in a tuxedo ("Hard-working Christian").

After seeing the Roz Payne picture I started wondering why I never learned anything about the Black Panthers in my high school history classes, not even in AP US History. Were my teachers reluctant to expound upon the kind of subversion espoused by the Panthers? I guess a simpler explanation would be events that occurred after World War II weren't covered by the AP test.

Nice Win

I was a little worried toward the end of the first quarter when we fell behind by 5 points, but it's comforting to see us pulling out another win. 21-0 baby!!

Yet another reason to hate Cal: "Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, a Cal student in the mid-80s, was in attendance and stood up and yelled 'Go Bears!' during warmups."

Yet another reason to love our team:

Rob Little: "Powe's good because he's relentless, and he's definitely got the green light, him and Tamir, as far as the offense goes. That's tough, when you have to guard someone who has carte blanche, because they're going to touch the ball every time.''

I don't think I've ever heard of any other college athlete use "carte blanche" in a sentence.