December 26th, 2006


Then say it, asshole!

Hi, everyone! I bet some of you chumps actually have to work today. Well, me too. Chump.

Christmas was...well, if you read my last few posts, you know how Christmas was, but I suppose it could have been worse. Although sitting around speculating how Christmas could have been worse is probably a sign that it couldn't have been much worse. Still and all, I got one (1) good present, in the form of a truly bad-ass western shirt, that I plan on wearing during my sure-to-be-awesome trip back to Chicago on New Year's weekend, and I got to talk to some very good friends on the phone, and I had a very lovely conversation with Li'l' Duce. So not bad, taken for what it was.

In the meantime, the gang at Town Hall -- or, specifically, self-described "musclehead revolutionary" Kevin McCullough -- has been working hard to make this the dumbest right-wing Christmas ever, with a little piece called...Why Iraq Is A Success.

And why is Iraq a success, despite civil war, massive corruption, a dysfunctional government, a destroyed infrastructure, and tens of thousands of deaths? Why, the economy, of course! Just like the willfully blind Stalinists who claimed that, despite the dysfunctional murder factory that was the Soviet Union under Uncle Joe, everything was fine because, like, at least the capitalist roader bosses weren't in charge, dimwits like McCullough ( there anyone else dumb enough to make this argument?) seem to think that despite the fact that Iraq is a cesspool of violence and hate, everything is swell, because cell phone companies are making lots of money. Let's take a look at this jaw-dropping display of rationalization!

The nation and economy known as the new Iraq is succeeding, and those who dispute this are simply lying.

We'll learn more about simple lying as the article proceeds, so stay tuned.

Call it whatever you'd like - a quagmire, a country torn by violence, the next Vietnam, etc. - but it is dishonest to say is that this nation is not a success.

I'd like to call it all those things, thanks. But hey, call it all of them, and it's still a success! Somehow!

Government corruption, uncontrolled militias, and (as the drive-by media likes to remind us) daily attacks using improvised exploding devices

It's the media's fault for reporting the daily bombings. If they didn't report them, they'd still blow up, but no one would know, and, uh, that would, uh, be better, because it just would.

but it is not an economy going under.

Bright side! Bright side!

Take yourself back to the days following 9.11. Do you remember the near stand still our economy experienced? The airline industry down for days and the markets went into the tank. I can only surmise that similar bumps in our economic stability would be felt if we were seeing radicals crossing the borders from our neighbors (and who knows - they probably are), and decided once here they would blow up policemen, military check-points, and the passing civilians on a daily basis.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but in comparing Iraq's economy to our own after 9/11, doesn't that sort of put us in the position of the 9/11 hijackers?

Despite the violence the economic growth in Iraq is defying all expectations by nearly any observer. Want proof? The leading cell phone company Iraqna is set to take in nearly $520 million in revenues in 2006. That follows a record year in 2005 of $333 million. The leading export of Iraq is producing nearly $41 billion in revenues. In 2004 there were only 8,000 registered companies with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - today there are over 34,000.

So, hey, hundreds of thousands of civilians have died, there's no power and water half the time in half the country, the two leading religious sects are almost in open warfare, GIs die almost every day, the level of corruption within US-led sectors is greater than at any time in American history, people from civilians to journalists to soldiers are afraid to leave their homes, and even the President of the United States says we aren't winning the war, but at least some rich people are making money! All those emergency calls from kidnap victims and people caught in terror bombings is really paying off for the cell phone company!

While we in the U.S. are thrilled to hear about GDP (gross domestic product) coming in at around 4% (so much so that it begins to bring down our national debt faster than expected), imagine enjoying Iraq's GDP growth of 13% in 2006. Which followed a record year in 2005 of 17%.

Which is entirely predictable -- and, many have argued, actually an underperformance -- for a country in transition from state socialism to market capitalism.

In addition the Iraqi government has slashed the income tax rates from 45% to just around 15%. That has resulted in the average Iraqi family being able to develop long term nest-eggs (we call them IRAs).

HA HA HA HA HA. Remember how we talked about lying? Well, here's Kevin McCullough actually trying to convince us that thanks to the awesome new tax policies in Iraq, the average citizen, in between getting his arms blown off, is actually investing money in IRAs.

Gasoline is only .56 cents a gallon. It wouldn't be that high except that Iraq decided to payoff some of its debt to the World Bank and are using energy profits to do so.

Nice subject-verb agreement there, musclehead. Also: "I bought myself a new yacht! I would have bought a bigger one, but I decided to pay off some of my debt to the IRS, and am using my capital gains profits to do so."

In addition much of the formerly centralized organization of the economy has been turned over to private sector endeavors and while some government sectors have seen a spike in unemployment, private sector unemployment is hovering around 30%. (High to you and me, but still better than in the Saddam era.)

Back to some completely 100% unalloyed bullshit: overall unemployment is in fact much, MUCH higher than it was under Saddam Hussein, because most people were employed by the government back then. Now, thanks to the blundering moves of Paul Bremer in disbanding the police and military and banning all Ba'athists from state employment, combined with the massive number of foreign workers being brought in under the "Year Zero" policy of American corporations, Iraq's unemployment rate is massively higher in total, which is part of the reason for the rapid growth of the insurgency. Phrasing it the way McCullough does is a lie of omission, pure and simple.

There will be many who will read this latest round of good news and dismiss it out of hand. But thinking people will understand that this growth did not happen in a vacuum.

As opposed to, say, trumpeting some utterly mild economic indicators in a vacuum, as if they weren't occurring in a county utterly ravaged.

Those who still disagree will argue that their freedom was not worth the cost in the numbers of lost American lives. And they do so dishonestly - knowing that we've lost fewer lives in the Global War on Terror than in any other armed conflict America has fought in (based on the numbers of American citizens and the percentage serving during war time).

Even without the equivocation of the parenthetical aside, this is absurd. He's arguing that losing 4000 Americans in a totally pointless, failed war is far preferable than losing more in wars that we won or that acheived something.

Iraq will succeed. The terrorists will fail. And the longer the arm of freedom can reach, the more both statements will be proven true. And in an economic sense - we need no greater proof.

flavored with age

Ito bits

- I finally got around to seeing The Venture Brothers. The first season was pretty good, but the second season plays like someone rooted around in my subconscious for a couple of years, picked out the best geek jokes and character moments, and made them into a TV show. Nicely done, people I've never heard of!

- There's pretty much no one at my office today, and there's no one at any of the other companies or offices I have to deal with, either. So you people better be entertaining. Don't force me to do another poll.

- Not many things are as satistfying, or disgusting, as loosing a big hunk of food that has gotten stuck in your teeth.

- Speaking of disgusting, I have a horrible toothache. Not having any insurance, I'm not sure what to do about this other than grimacing all day until I look like Fat Joker.

- Speaking of Fat Joker, wait until you see this Gotham City Neighborhoodie. Seriously, people. I am the sexiest geek on two continents*.

- Speaking of sexy geeks, sorry, folks. I tried to take some pictures of myself in the hideous sweater-vest that was one of only two presents I received yesterday, but in exactly none of them did I look like anything less than a monstrosity. There's only so much humiliation I'm prepared to share with you people.

- I'm going back to not making New Year's resolutions. I avoided doing it for many years, because I thought it was arbitrary, and imposing those kinds of artificial deadlines on yourself seemed like a prescription for self-made disaster. Which, once I actually started making New Year's resolutions, turned out to be exactly right. I am setting myself one goal for 2007, which is to enter it drunk. I think that's gonna be an easy one to pull off.

*: Asia and Antarctica.

Game on!

I actually don't have a lot of confidence that I'll be entertained today, so here's a game.

Over the weekend, I was tinkering around with my Top Ten Albums list, for every year since I was born. And it occurred to me that I have a lot of crappily named albums in my collection. So here's today's assignment: Please list:

- The worst (actual) album titles you've ever heard


- The best (actual) album titles you've ever heard.

These should have nothing to do with the actual quality of the music or the bad; just the name of the record. GO!