Calling Coyotes by Cross-Country Communication in all Counties

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Random Music Blogging

I read an article on MSN claiming to list great anti-love songs, and it is a really bad and stupid list. Def Leppard? Kelly Clarkson? The Dixie Chicks? WTF?

The whole article doesn't rise to the level of requiring a response, but I like music, so I'm going to list eight songs that I think are better anti-love songs than the ones listed in the article.

The Talking Heads: "I'm Not In Love"
I'm referring to the live version of this in particular. The instrument-vocal interplay on the chorus is incredible. "(DA-DA)I can answer your questions(DA-DA)/if you won't(DA-DA) twist what I say(DA-DA)/please respect my opinion(DA-DA)/they will be respected some(DA-DA) day/but I (DA)don't (DA)need (DA)love/there will come a day when we (DA)don't (DA)need (DA)love/I believe that we (DA)don't (DA)need (DA)lo-ooove..."

The Beatles: "Sexy Sadie"
This song is Lennon at his contempt-ful best. From the dissonant piano to the unexpected changes in Lennon's voice and the parrot-like backing vocals, this song is absolutely a cloaked Dylan-esque put-down of the subject's appeal to others: "One sunny day the world was waiting for a lover/She came along to turn on everyone./Sexy Sadie, she's the greatest, of them all./Sexy Sadie, how did you know/the world was waiting just for you." You can substitute Marilyn Monroe (though she was long dead when the song was written), Pamela Anderson, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, or any everyday arrogant "desirable" person for "Sadie," although the rumor is that the song is actually a metaphor for John's disillusionment with some guru. (And yes, this is the same guy who wrote "All You Need is Love.")

Bob Dylan: "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)"
Now this is a real Dylan put-down. Dylan and his army corp brass country band go at it with a restrained enthusiasm, as Dylan sings circles around his (ex-)lover. "You say you got some other/kind of lover, and yes I believe you do./You say my kisses, are not like his/well this time I'm not gonna tell you, why that is/I'm just gonna let you pass/Yes and I'll go last/and time will tell/who has fell/and whose been left behind/when you go your way and I go mine."

Cream: "Strange Brew"
One of Cream's psychedelic blues classics. In case the title doesn't tip you off, the lyrics make it clear enough the song is (metaphorically?) about having a witch seeking your love "She's a witch of trouble in electric blue/In her own mad mind she's in love with you--with you/now what you gonna do/Strange brew, kill what's inside of you."

The Beatles: "Think For Yourself"
George Harrison's call for self-reliance before love in the form of a 2-and-a-half minute pop song from Rubber Soul. "I've got a word or two/To say about the things that you do./You're telling all those lies/About the good things that we can have/If we close our eyes./Do what you want to do/And go where you're going to/Think for yourself/'Cause I won't be there with you." Another anti-love song is the other Harrisong from this album, "If I Needed Someone."

The Beatles: "Girl"
The predecessor of "Sexy Sadie." Its a little too unsubtle, and the deep breaths before the chorus are pointless/pretentious, but it differs by viewing love as a tragedy. "When I think of all the times I've tried so hard to leave her/She will turn to me and start to cry/And she promises the earth to me/And I believe her/After all this time I don't know why."

Simon & Garfunkel: "I Am a Rock"
This could qualify as one of the greatest put-ons foisted upon an unsuspecting audience in the history of folk-rock. You have a song with a quiet intro that breaks into anthemic guitar playing, with a spirited duet. And what are the lyrics? "Don't talk of love/But I've heard the words before./Its sleeping in my memory/I wont disturb the slumber of feelings that have died./If I never loved I never would have cried./I am a rock! I am an island!" Too bad irony didn't exist back in 1966.

Roxy Music: "Love is the Drug"
Kids, don't do drugs.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eagles Watch and Random Stuff: - Some athletes are Sundance kids

From an article noting NFL players at the Sundance Film Festival:

Stallworth and Brian Westbrook are working Main Street under the cover of floating snow. Along the way, they encounter Christian Slater, one of the Baldwin brothers and Regina King.

As gawkers swarm, Stallworth fields party invites, poses for photos and generally yuks it up with inquiring Hollywood types.

"I've always wanted to be in the NFL, but I've always wanted to act, too" Stallworth explains. "It's a really, really big dream of mine."

"Donté's a fool," kids Westbrook, who isn't as amused by the gawkers. A sweet middle-aged lady creeps up.

"Excuse me," she says sheepishly. "Who are you?"

"Michael Jackson," Westbrook replies. The lady is confused, but covers her bet by snapping a few photos.

The article gets more unusual from there. It's a really funny article.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Thoughts on Saving Iraq

Before writing my ideas, I want to note someone who forsaw exactly what the most important issue for Iraq's future would be before the magnitude of the problem became clear. Stephen Biddle wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, "Seeing Baghdad, Thinking Saigon," that was published shortly before the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque. From his article:
But if the debate in Washington is Vietnam redux, the war in Iraq is not. The current struggle is not a Maoist "people's war" of national liberation; it is a communal civil war with very different dynamics. Although it is being fought at low intensity for now, it could easily escalate if Americans and Iraqis make the wrong choices.

Rapid democratization, meanwhile, could be positively harmful in Iraq. In a Maoist people's war, empowering the population via the ballot box undermines the insurgents' case that the regime is illegitimate and facilitates nonviolent resolution of the inequalities that fuel the conflict. In a communal civil war, however, rapid democratization can further polarize already antagonistic sectarian groups[...]

The biggest problem with treating Iraq like Vietnam is Iraqization -- the main component of the current U.S. military strategy. In a people's war, handing the fighting off to local forces makes sense because it undermines the nationalist component of insurgent resistance, improves the quality of local intelligence, and boosts troop strength. But in a communal civil war, it throws gasoline on the fire. Iraq's Sunnis perceive the "national" army and police force as a Shiite-Kurdish militia on steroids. And they have a point: in a communal conflict, the only effective units are the ones that do not intermingle communal enemies[...]

The central challenge for Iraq's future is the sectarian conflict of today. The two major overt forces in this conflict are the Shia militias, primarily the Badr Brigade and Mahdi Army, and the Sunni terrorists, who are less unified. Their strategy is to kill or force out Iraqis of the other group. The terrorists seek to accomplish this by bombings of Shia communities or mosques. The militias operate by kidnapping and killing Sunnis, or ordering Sunnis to leave Shiite-majority neighborhoods under threat of death. The attacks on public institutions such as universities and hospitals can be mistaken as tangential to these goals, but are actually integral in driving out an educated middle-class that is opposed to sectarianism and are respected people in their communities.

The major covert forces in this conflict are Shia-subverted police and military forces that engage in kidnappings; Muqtada Al-Sadr and his political connections in the Iraqi government; and Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, leader of the Badr Brigade and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The political groups control 65 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament. There are no major ties between the Sunni terrorists and the government or major figures so far. For this reason, the Sunni groups have been targeted with impunity, and represent a relatively minor long-term threat. If they evolve into something like the Shiite militias, then they will be a major threat and the country will be about to enter civil war as the violence goes from sectarian terrorist attacks to intercommunal warfare.

My proposal is simple, and its success or failure is dependent on two factors. The first factor is the competency of the US military to execute the plan, and the second factor is whether the Iraqi public wants to prevent a war. Beyond that, political factors, such as Bush being a coward and Congress being composed of self-centered ninnies, hinder the chances of this proposal ever being put in action. However, if the US military is capable of carrying out the plan, this will be the last major military action the US will have to undertake in Iraq, one way or another.

What needs to be done in Iraq is to illegitimize by US military fiat the SCIRI for being a terrorist group, and do the same to the Sadr-controlled groups. Then declare that every member of these group and associated militias will have one day to turn themselves in to the US military. If they do not do so, the US military will be given orders to find them and kill them on sight. This applies to every member, from the average militia member to Al-Hakim and Al-Sadr.

One argument against this strategy is that this will push the Shiites into outright revolt against the Americans. The counter-argument to that is that if that is true it will only cause a revolt because the Shiite political forces are not interested in stopping the sectarian violence, in which case they shouldn't be running the country in the first place. If there is not sufficient political support for ending the sectarian violence among the Shiites, then Iraq is fucked regardless, and we have no chance of saving it. However, I think beyond the religious supremacists, the majority of Iraqis think that the killing is horrific and will be happy to see everyone perpetrating the violence lying dead by the side of a road. If that is the case, once it becomes clear the US is serious about exterminating them, those who really care about Iraq's future will tell the US military everyone involved with the militias, and there will be nowhere for them to hide. If the country is worse off six months after beginning the plan than it is now, the plan isn't going to work, and there was never enough American military strength or Iraqi resolve to end the violence to have a chance of saving Iraq. At that point I'd recommend pulling forces out, and it hardly matters what is done afterwards, because nothing short of a massive relocation of the population in all parts of the country and implementation of an India-Pakistan-type partition will have any better chance of saving things. Also, partition is a viable plan to stop the sectarian violence if all the groups are completely relocated into separate nations, but in the long-term it will cause more instability and conflict than a unified Iraq would, on every issue from resources to boundaries to international relations.

And to the assholes who say I only think this is a good plan because the Iraqis are Arabs in a different country, fuck off. If what's happening in Iraq was occurring in my home state, I'd hope the US military would kill every one of those responsible with extreme prejudice. If the Iraqis don't want to eliminate the thugs, murderers, and associated religious demagogues, then nothing is going to work because the nation would be completely insane.