Who's Sorry Now?

On November 30, 2005, I received an email from Senator Hillary Clinton that appeared to be an attempt to appease both supporters and opponents of the Iraq war. Upon reading this latest example of the Clintonese desire to have one's cake and eat it too, I felt compelled to respond:

Dear Ms. Clinton,

After reading your message, I am still left with some simple questions:

1. Are you sorry that you voted for "the resolution to authorize the Administration to use force in Iraq"--a resolution which actually only authorized the President to "defend the national security of the United States," and "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq"? A resolution that said nothing about launching a first strike, a belligerent attack, or a Declaration of War--the first two being what Bush committed against Iraq; the third being the only way those first two can be authorized under the Constitution? You "take responsibility" for your vote, but do you regret voting the way you did? You say that "if Congress had been asked, based on what we know now, we never would have agreed" "to give the President authority to use force against Iraq"; but does that "we" include you? Are you a member of Congress who would have voted differently? Are you now against the war and for the peace? Are you sorry for your vote?

2. Do you honestly expect me to believe that you took "the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a U.N. resolution and will seek to avoid war, if at all possible"? You believed that, even though he staffed his cabinet with people who urged your husband to launch a full-scale attack against Iraq back in 1998? Did you really think Bush was not going to use that authorization as an excuse to start his war, even though millions of people around the world were astute enough to protest the war before it began, based on that very same suspicion? Did you really not notice all the various authors, officials, and ordinary citizens who questioned the Administration's claims before, during, and after the beginning of the war? Would you still take George W. Bush at his word now? Are you sorry for your vote?

3. Doesn't "a plan for finishing this war with success and honor" sound an awful lot like Nixon's plan to seek "peace with honor" during the Vietnam war--a war that he continued and expanded throughout his entire first term, even though he campaigned on ending the war in 1968? Would Nixon have ended that war if people had not protested it every single day while he was in office? Will Bush ever end this war if people don't protest it as long as American troops are still in Iraq? Is the solution for Bush to have him act more like Nixon? Isn't Bush already just as criminal as Nixon, having waged an illegal war on another nation in violation of the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Constitution? Can such an illegal war ever have "honor"? Are you sorry for your vote?

4. Suppose Bush did have an "adequate plan" for invading and conquering Iraq: would that make the war any less illegal? Suppose Bush did have a "strategy for success" in Iraq: would that somehow justify the deaths of 2000 Americans and 30,000 Iraqis? Would that change how he and his staff lied to the people of America and the world about Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Would that be enough of an excuse for the lies that implied Iraq was somehow behind the crimes of September 11, 2001? Would that be enough to forgive the lie that Iraq was somehow an "imminent" threat to the United States? Instead of begging for a "plan" from Mr. Bush, shouldn't Senators like yourself be designing articles of Impeachment for him for breaking the law by violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, when he took part in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by lying to the people of this country to justify his war against Iraq (it being a conspiracy because more than one person in his administration publicly agreed to spread those lies, and it being fraud because those same people knew they did not have adequate proof to back up their accusations yet insisted they were true anyway)? Are you going to hope that Bush comes to his senses eventually, or are you going to work to fulfill the wishes of 52% of the American public and 67% of your own party and get American troops out of Iraq before the end of 2006, if not sooner? Are you finally sorry for your vote?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reply.


Christopher Flaherty

The Cabinet of Captain Eo

Mr. Jackson, Mr. Cesare; Mr. Cesare, Mr. Jackson

All rights reserved to whoever took these pictures first; this is just a parody; don't sue me; fair use; yadda, yadda, yadda.

Dark Days and Lessons Learned

In his 2005 State of the Union address, George W. Bush proposed a drastic alteration of Social Security, one of the many programs that cemented Franklin D. Roosevelt's place in history as one of the United States' better Presidents. Twice within the same speech, Bush quoted Franklin Roosevelt: once in the context of "protecting" citizens from terrorism, and once in the context of "spread[ing] the peace that freedom brings." Obviously, Bush feels that FDR is a President to be emulated, and that perhaps if he could attain the same popularity that FDR attained, Bush could eliminate programs nearly as easily as FDR established them. By quoting Roosevelt in this speech, Bush obviously wants to convey the impression that FDR would favor the proposed changes in Social Security if he was alive today. The problem is that the very same speeches which Bush quoted from show that Roosevelt was not only diametrically opposed to transferring more power to corporations, and clearly saw government--not markets--as the answer to avoiding financial catastrophes, but also that Roosevelt was unambiguously opposed to aggressive war, no matter who the aggressor was.

The first phrase that Bush quoted was indirect: "We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy - and chief among them is freedom from fear." The more historically aware will instantly recognize freedom from fear as one of the "Four Freedoms" FDR made famous in his 1941 State of the Union address, the other three being freedom of speech, freedom to worship, and freedom from want. Immediately after quoting this phrase, Bush once again invoked September 11, 2001, the latest in a long line of invocations that he has been making ever since that day occurred: "In the three and a half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. ... Our Nation, working with allies and friends, has also confronted the enemy abroad, with measures that are determined, successful, and continuing." Bush went on to say, "Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home." Clearly, Bush is continuing to perpetuate the lie that Iraq was somehow connected with September 11, or that fighting in Iraq is connected to fighting the people involved with September 11, and that these fights will sustain Americans' "freedom from fear." What Bush did not mention (aside from Iraq having nothing to do with September 11) was that in the very speech where Roosevelt mentioned the freedom from fear--indeed, in the very same sentence--FDR specifically described that freedom as the right to be free of the fear of aggressive war:

The fourth [freedom] is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.

"No nation," including the United States. Obviously, Bush's $200 billion and counting appropriated for the war in Iraq would not meet any standard for "a world-wide reduction of armaments." Indeed, in the very same week as Bush's speech, it was reported that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had sent a letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in January asking for a revival of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program--"bunker-buster" nuclear weapons that would put any nation "in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor anywhere in the world"--as direct an opposition to the spirit of Roosevelt's fourth freedom as one could get.

The second quote of Franklin Roosevelt was actually a quote of a quote. In concluding the address where Bush invited Congress to "fix Social Security" and prevent it from "collapsing," Bush cited a portion of one of FDR's speeches that seemed to indicate that change was not only inevitable, but desirable:

As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream - until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream - until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream - until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence.
In the first place, Roosevelt himself was quoting Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy, a British poet who wrote Ode in 1874, from which the above stanzas come. Less often mentioned are these other stanzas:

And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample a kingdom down.
Whether or not Bush knew he was quoting a poem that talks of the trampling of an empire is anyone's guess. What is even more outrageous is the complete removal of the context in which Roosevelt quoted O'Shaughnessy's words in the first place, in FDR's second Inaugural address in 1937.

As most should already know, Roosevelt was elected to his first term in 1932 in the middle of the Great Depression, when--among other things--a staggering 25% of the American workforce was unemployed, thousands of banks across the country were failing, and millions of people who had never been so poor before were suddenly poverty-stricken. FDR won 57% of the popular vote that year, campaigning on a platform that advocated--most simply--"relief, recovery, and reform," the cornerstones of his "New Deal" for the American people. One of the many agencies created during FDR's ambitious first term, as part of this New Deal to combat poverty, was the Social Security Administration, established in 1935 to generate a federally-funded source of income for the retired and the disabled, among others. The creation of this and other programs no doubt contributed to FDR's re-election in 1936, when he received over 60% of the popular vote.

In Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 Inaugural address, he famously said that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," and then some:

Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failures and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. . . . Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow-men. Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be values only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit, and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.
In his Inaugural address of 1937, FDR continued to skewer the idea that people's financial fates should be left to chance (i.e., left to what is now generally called "the market"), or that government involvement in those matters should be at a minimum:

Instinctively we recognized a deeper need-the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. . . . To do this we knew that we must find practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish men. We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster. . . . we have begun to bring private autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public's government. The legend that they were invincible--above and beyond the processes of a democracy--has been shattered. They have been challenged and beaten. . . . We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays. . . . This new understanding undermines the old admiration of worldly success as such. We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life. . . . For these reasons I am justified in believing that the greatest change we have witnessed has been the change in the moral climate of America. Among men of good will, science and democracy together offer an ever-richer life and ever-larger satisfaction to the individual. With this change in our moral climate and our rediscovered ability to improve our economic order, we have set our feet upon the road of enduring progress. Shall we pause now and turn our back upon the road that lies ahead? Shall we call this the promised land? Or, shall we continue on our way? For "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth."
In this context, Roosevelt is clearly not arguing for the inevitability of change, but rather showing that the country has a choice of either going forward or backward, and that the forward path is the one where "unscrupulous money changers stand indicted" and "rejected," "the mad chase of evanescent profits" and "the falsity of material wealth" are abandoned, "blind economic forces and blindly selfish men" are both controlled, "economic epidemics" are mastered by "democratic government," "private autocratic powers" are properly subdued, "challenged and beaten" by "the public's government," and where "science and democracy" line "the road of enduring progress."

FDR stated in no uncertain terms that government is the only force that has the power to prevent a decent standard of living from being ruined by unrestrained capitalism, and that the only way to live without fear is to live in a world where arms do not proliferate. A far, far cry from Bush, whose idea of people having "dignity and peace of mind in their retirement" is to "fix Social Security" so that "a set portion of the money you earn" "can only go into a conservative mix of bonds and stock funds"--the very same "winds of chance" FDR warned against--and whose idea of freedom from fear is a world that contains more variants of "weapons of mass destruction." Have those "dark days" of the Depression and World War II been worth their cost, if Bush's proposals completely ignore the lessons learned and summarized during Franklin Roosevelt's terms in office? Like O'Shaughnessy's poem, whether Bush knew of the lessons taught within the speeches he quoted is anyone's guess. You, dear reader, on the other hand, now know different.

Christopher Flaherty
February 5, 2005

Lies, Lies, Lies!

I'm not going to mince words with this: If George W. Bush goes ahead with his premeditated plan to wage war against Iraq, he will prove himself to be a war criminal who is every bit as deserving of trial and conviction as Saddam Hussein. Both Bush and Hussein are unelected heads of state; both are responsible for many deaths and human rights violations; and, if Bush's ultimatum is carried out, both will be guilty of starting an unnecessary war with another country. Of course there are differences. For example, we know for a fact that Bush has several thousand weapons of mass destruction at his disposal; with Hussein, it's only an allegation.

In his address to the nation on March 17, 2003, Bush spelled out his rationale for launching an aggressive war against Iraq. Though he managed to avoid using the word "war" itself in defining what the U.S. was about to commence (instead calling it a "military conflict"--how nice and generic), he could not avoid revealing his spurious, illegal, and altogether questionable excuses for carrying a war out. To wit:

"The Iraqi regime has . . . uniformly defied Security Council resolutions . . ." How many resolutions has the U.S. defied? How many has Israel defied? Isn't this a double-standard?

"Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged . . ." Didn't the U.S. install some spies on the U.N. Inspections team back in 1998? Wasn't the U.S. using the intelligence gathered by the inspectors for its own gain before sharing it with the rest of the U.N.? According to former U.N. Weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the answer is yes. From War On Iraq by William Rivers Pitt with Scott Ritter (2002: Context Books), pp. 55-56: "Richard Butler [the second head of the U.N. Special Commission to inspect weapons in Iraq] allowed several programs--most importantly, a signals intelligence program I designed and ran from 1996 to 1998--to be taken over by the CIA for the sole purpose of spying on Saddam. This was wrong and I said so on numerous occasions. Richard Butler's refusal to terminate that relationship was one of the main reasons I resigned in 1998."

"Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again . . ." What about the missiles that were bulldozed in front of the U.N. weapons inspectors? Wasn't that an example of peaceful disarmament? Shouldn't we try to work towards more disarmament by peaceful means, instead of going to war and insuring that disarmament is abandoned altogether?

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Where is this evidence? U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998 said that Iraq's ability to create chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons had been totally eradicated. Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei this year have both said they have no evidence that Iraq now possesses any such weapons. The latest alleged evidence of Iraq's seeking material for nuclear weapons was found by the I.A.E.A. to be a complete forgery--a forgery supplied by the U.S.. In the absence of any credible evidence, shouldn't Bush's statement be considered false?

"This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people." Again, Iraq did this with our consent! This in no way excuses it, but it is hypocritical at best for the U.S. to condemn Iraq today for things which were done with total approval by the U.S. at the time. The U.S. gave monetary and material aid to Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran--aid which continued even after Iraq used chemical weapons on the battlefield; and the U.S. mostly looked the other way when Iraq used chemical weapons against the Kurds in its own borders soon after the war with Iran ended. To call these actions objectionable now, without also referring to U.S. acceptance of those actions at the time, overlooks U.S. complicity in endorsing and strengthening Hussein in the first place.

". . . it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda." There is no evidence of any significant ties between the Iraqi government and al Qaeda. Ever since the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush and his staff have been looking for some kind of link between those events and Iraq, and no link has turned up--because no link exists. None of those hijackers were from Iraq. Osama Bin Laden is not from Iraq. Neither the CIA nor the FBI believes that the Iraqi government had anything to do with those attacks or al Qaeda, and it makes no sense that a secular Arab state would give money and arms to an extreme Islamic fundamentalist group to begin with. In the absence of any credible evidence, this statement regarding al Qaeda must also be considered false.

". . . using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions . . ." Again, there is no evidence that Iraq currently possesses any of these weapons in the first place. The U.N. inspectors whose mission it is to look for these things have not found any evidence of their existence. And again, it makes no sense for Iraq to give such weapons to a group which might, in turn, use them on an Iraqi government it regards as being run by "infidels." This is a hypothetical threat based on insufficient evidence.

"Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq." A 296-133 margin in the House and a 77-23 margin in the Senate hardly seems overwhelming. And, strictly reading the text of HJRES 114, the President is only authorized to "defend the national security of the United States," (my emphasis) and "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." The resolution says nothing about launching a first strike, a belligerent attack, or a Declaration of War--the first two being what Bush is planning against Iraq; the third being the only way those first two can be authorized under the Constitution.

"America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully." If the U.S. truly wanted to resolve this issue peacefully, it would not have been preparing for war ever since last August. A peaceful resolution would allow the U.N. inspectors to continue inspecting. A peaceful resolution would involve dialogue with the U.N. and its member nations. A peaceful resolution does not entail drafting proposals that allow triggers for unilateral military action. A peaceful resolution does not entail giving false and unverified information to the U.N.. And a peaceful resolution does not entail doing an end-run around the U.N. and starting a war in defiance of its own charter. This statement is plainly false.

"Under Resolutions 678 and 687 -- both still in effect -- the United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction." From Against War With Iraq by members of The Center for Constitutional Rights (2003: Seven Stories Press), pp. 33-35: "The original intent and purpose of the resolution [678] was achieved many years ago: ousting Iraq from Kuwait. It cannot be used to go beyond its original purpose. After the [Gulf War] ended, the Security Council in April 1991 passed Resolution 687 recognizing the cease-fire, directing Iraq to surrender all weapons of mass destruction, and creating the inspection regime, UNSCOM, to effect compliance. The current Bush administration is now trying to use the prior resolution, 678, as a justification for its planned use of force. Yet, Resolution 678 clearly gives no authority to any country to enforce the subsequent resolution, 687. That decision would clearly need to be made by the Security Council . . . In summary, despite the history of U.N. resolutions about Iraq, no authority exists on which the United States could legally base a military attack." Another false statement from Bush.

"Yet, some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq." Obviously referring to France, this statement is another untruth, as any casual glance at a newspaper would show. France never threatened to veto "any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq." France did threaten to veto "any new UN resolution authorising force against Iraq" (Herald Sun, Australia, March 15, 2003). As it says on the Voice Of America's own web site: "France led an opposition bloc that was opposed to the immediate use of force and wanted to give Iraq more time to disarm." And, as French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said: "While the inspectors are saying there is a chance to obtain the disarmament of Iraq through inspections, the international community, the Security Council, should continue to work this way and not change the logic, not put itself in the logic of war . . . You cannot accuse France of not obeying the rule of (resolution) 1441. You cannot give a misleading interpretation of the French position as we have seen lately in the British press." You can now add the White House to that group.

"Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing." U.N. Charter, Chapter 1, Article 2, Paragraph 3: "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered." Paragraph 4: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." This is blatant defiance of the founding laws of the United Nations. Breaking the law and starting a war is no solution to any conflict, regardless of what Hussein has or hasn't done.

"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight . . . If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you." How in the hell will the 800 cruise missiles that are to be fired at Iraq within the first 48 hours of battle be able to distinguish "lawless men" from innocent civilians? How will the bombs dropped from B-52's be able to make the distinction? How will the 20-ton "Multiple Ordnance Air Burst"/"Mother Of All Bombs" tell the difference?

"It is not too late for the Iraqi military to act with honor and protect your country by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction." Number one: What weapons of mass destruction? Where is the evidence? Number two: How peaceful can this entry possibly be if it is being led by the barrel of a gun?

"Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders.'" How ironic is it that Bush, who in this very speech has announced his intentions to break international law and attack another nation, thereby becoming a war criminal himself, only moments later admonishes others not to commit war crimes on their own? How ironic is it for him to tell others not to use weapons of mass destruction, when he himself has approved the use of those same sorts of weapons against Iraq (e.g. "U.S. WARNS IRAQ: WE'LL NUKE YOU" New York Post, December 11, 2002)? And how ironic for him to tell Iraqi soldiers not to use the Nuremberg defense? If the U.S. is ever placed on trial for starting a war, will its soldiers use that same defense, I wonder?

". . . the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war . . ." Again, this is false. The French, Germans, Russians, Chinese, dozens of other governments, and millions of ordinary people throughout the world and throughout the United States do not believe that all peaceful options have been exhausted.

"Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear." What is the U.S. attempting to do with Iraq? If the U.S. attacks Iraq, wouldn't the U.S. be attempting to shift its people's attention with panic, and weaken their resolve with fear? Isn't that exactly what the U.S. is trying to achieve with its enormous show of force?

"In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest." The CIA has said that Iraq is not a current threat to the United States, and the only circumstances where Iraq would try to attack the U.S. would be if Hussein felt the very existence of his regime or the country of Iraq was at stake. With that in mind, how can Bush say a threat exists now based on a hypothetical threat several years down the line, whose motive is at odds with Bush's own intelligence? If the only way Hussein is guaranteed to attack is if he feels he has nothing left to lose, why give him the opportunity by actively planning to force him from power? Why pursue the one method which your own intelligence says will cause him to do the very things you say you're trying to prevent?

"Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations -- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide." In other words, if criminals are going to defy the U.N. Charter, then I too will become a criminal, rather than live by the law. Preposterous! Responding to an attack after an enemy has struck is self-defense: it says so in the U.N. Charter, Chapter 7, Article 51: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security." Defense is permitted. What is not permitted is an armed attack! (See Article 1, Chapter 2, P. 3-4 above!) Attacking a nation first based on an imagined threat is not self-defense; it is homicide.

"Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent." True, especially when the violence is coming from an alleged "free nation" in the first place.

I now understand why Bush has been such a vocal opponent against the International Criminal Court. He probably knew that he would somehow become one of the first people to be indicted.

By Christopher Flaherty
March 19, 2003

God damn, that DJ made my day

Our DJ's better than all these bands
-- Run-D.M.C., "Rock Box," Run-D.M.C. 1984

Run-D.M.C. first said a deejay could be a band
-- Public Enemy "Bring The Noise," It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, 1988

From the very beginning, Run-D.M.C. knew where their DJ stood, and it didn't take long for other groups to acknowledge his influence. J-a-y were the letters of his name, and if you were alive in New York City in the 1980's, then you heard his beats whether you knew him or not. It just was not possible to escape the rhythm of "Sucker M.C.'s," and the rapid-fire scratching underneath D.M.C.'s rhymes in the song ("I'm D.M.C. in the place to be / I go to St. John's University") showed that a DJ could do more than just lay down the music for the rappers. He proved that a DJ was an equal to the rappers, and he kept proving it throughout a string of rap milestones: "Rock Box," "King of Rock," "Peter Piper," "It's Tricky," "My Adidas," "Walk This Way," "You Be Illin'," "Run's House," and "Mary, Mary" all showcased his talent to an ever-widening audience. Hell, even "Christmas In Hollis" struck down limits when it showed that scratching could enhance even holiday music. Run-D.M.C. echoed that feeling of invincibility in "Peter Piper," the first track off the first rap album to go platinum on the Billboard charts: "Jam Master Jay's making out our sound / The turntables might wobble but they don't fall down."

In retrospect, it's unfortunately ironic that Run-D.M.C. sang, in "King of Rock," "Every jam we play, we break two needles / There's three of us but we're not the Beatles." Ironic because instead of being a crude joke referring to John Lennon's murder, the lyric was a mistake by Run who thought there had only been three Beatles to begin with. Ironic because those two groups now share the heartbreak of having one of their members shot and killed for truly senseless reasons (as if there could ever be reasons that would make sense for that sort of thing). Ironic because Jason Mizell's death stings every bit as much as John Lennon's. Ironic because Run-D.M.C. was every bit as influential to rap music as the Beatles were to rock music. Ironic because even Public Enemy's Chuck D. said "Run-D.M.C. is like the Beatles to me," and "These are our Beatles," after news of Jay's murder became public, crystallizing a thought which so many people might not have fully realized until now, the moment having just passed us all by.

It wouldn't be unfair to say that nearly every DJ today owes some debt to Jay's style. Hurricane, Terminator X, Q-Bert, Fatboy Slim, Mix Master Mike, and so many others all might not be here if Jay hadn't been there first. He was an innovator when he became king of the crossfader, helping to establish the sound of a genre of music that will tragically now outlive him. Fortunately, there is a simple method to make sure his memory doesn't perish as well:

So when asked who's the best, y'all should say:
"Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay"

Christopher Flaherty
November 2, 2002


Headline in the October 21, 2001, edition of the Washington Post: "CIA Told to Do 'Whatever Necessary' to Kill Bin Laden." So, we're now officially in the business of assassinating suspected criminals, instead of apprehending them and trying them in a court of law so that they can be convicted and sentenced. How, I ask you, does this make us any better than the fiends who killed all those people on September 11? I'm sure those terrorists had their reasons--as warped as they must have been--for committing their murders. What's our excuse? That our reasons are better than theirs? Isn't the United States supposed to be such a better place because it's run by the rules of law and due process, and because we don't just execute people in the street? How does it make us any better if our objective is to just kill people outright? I say that if the U.S. could put genuine Nazis on trial after World War II, it can certainly put bin Laden on trial here and now. The International Criminal Court is looking more and more like an idea whose time has definitely come. Too bad the attitude of the U.S. seems to be both "My way or the highway" (a.k.a., "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists"), and "Court? We don't need no stinkin' court."

Bush, Inarticulate As Usual

For whatever inexplicable reason, George W. Bush seems to be near incapable of saying anything that is truly inspirational in the wake of the truly awful events of September 11, 2001. I know some people will probably feel offended at my continuing criticism even during these critical times, but it is exactly these types of situations which require people to be especially aware of government actions, because it is during emergencies when people can become most susceptible to radical actions by governments--actions which may not always benefit the people those governments represent. And, if it seems like the person acting now as Commander-In-Chief is being less than articulate at a time when articulation and precision in a speech may be more crucial than before, then I feel as compelled to point that out now as I would if nothing had ever happened on that terrible day. In this way, I am going about my normal business, which is something everyone from the Resident to the Mayor has been encouraging me to do. Otherwise ... well, otherwise we'd have a city and a country where dissent is forbidden, and that's not what the United States is all about, is it? (This show ain't called "Free New York" for nothin' after all.)

With that in mind, I give you some words from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, like other Presidents, had his faults, but still managed to effectively crystallize his thoughts when faced with a similarly tragic day some sixty years ago:

The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation. ... Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
-- FDR, December 8, 1941


According to Noam Chomsky, "the term 'rogue state' has two uses: a propagandistic use, applied to assorted enemies, and a literal use that applies to states that do not regard themselves as bound by international norms."1 Typically, the propagandistic use applies to nations such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, such as in a recent news article referring to "'the threat' posed by Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which Washington calls 'rogue states.'"2 Lately, however, the United States has been acting very much in the literal sense of the term, as witnessed by the increasing number of international agreements in which the country will not participate. Such as:

The United States frequently insists that it needs to abstain from these international agreements in order to defend itself against "the threat" of so-called "rogue states" like the ones mentioned above. But, when the richest and most heavily-armed country in the world refuses to abide by restrictions on racial discrimination, pollution production, land mines, germ warfare, gun-running, missile-building, and a court to try "the world's most heinous crimes against humanity," 14 isn't it the United States which has become, in the words of Senator Joseph Lieberman, "a renegade nation"?15 Isn't that a synonym for "rogue state"? Why not refer to the United States as a "rogue state" in the press, since even members of its own government think the term rightly applies, and since the U.S. even sides with some of those other so-called "rogue states" in their opposition to the above agreements?

As Chomsky has said, "The criteria are fairly clear: a 'rogue state' is not simply a criminal state, but one that defies the orders of the powerful -- who are, of course, exempt."16

You, of course, now know better.


1. Noam Chomsky, Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, 2000 (South End Press: Cambridge, MA) p. 1
2. Ron Popeski, "US to Press Ahead with Anti-Missile Shield," Reuters, 3:02 PM ET, July 26, 2001
3. John Diamond, "U.S. hopes to kill language in germ treaty," Chicago Tribune, July 25, 2001
4. Dafna Linzer, "189 Nations Agree Small Arms Plan," Associated Press, 2:47 PM ET, July 21, 2001
5. Darryl Fears and Alan Sipress, "U.S. Warns It May Skip Conference On Racism," Washington Post, July 27, 2001, p. A01
6. Popeski, op. cit.
7. Carol Giacomo, "Rice Insists U.S. Committed to International Role," Reuters, 4:14 PM ET, July 29, 2001
8. Patrick Connole, "Lieberman Says Bush Made U.S. Climate 'Renegade,'" 9:35 PM ET, July 17, 2001
9. William Drozdiak, "U.S. Left Out of Warming Treaty," Washington Post, July 24, 2001, p. A01
10. Jim Wilson, ed., "Fast Track To A Space Laser," Popular Mechanics, July 2001, p. 15
11. "Powell: Bush won't send global court pact to Senate," Reuters, 7:34 PM ET, February 14 2001
12. "121 nations sign historic land mine treaty," CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/04/landmine.wrap/, December 4, 1997, Web posted at: 10:03 p.m. EST (0303 GMT)
13. "100+ nations sign historic land mine ban," CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/03/landmine.conference/, December 3, 1997, Web posted at: 2:35 p.m. EST (1935 GMT)
14. "Netherlands Ratifies International Criminal Court," Reuters, 6:39 PM ET, July 17, 2001
15. Connole, op. cit.
16. Chomsky, op. cit. p. 30


The mess between Al Gore and George W. Bush would never have occurred if the Electoral College had been abolished and Instant Runoff Voting had been established in time for the 2000 elections. Those are, I think, two necessary components among many others for elections to be considered truly fair in the future. A complete list of reforms might look something like this:

Any other ideas? I'm listening!


Why vote for Nader? Just look at his platform. Just look at his running mate, Winona LaDuke. Just look at his party, the Greens. Oh, but you think a vote for Nader is a wasted vote? Maybe Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray) put it best at the Super Rally Nader had at Madison Square Garden (for a sellout crowd of 15,000, by the way) on October 13, 2000:

"You tell the candidate you're going to vote for to come to my face and say my vote is a wasted vote. I don't think anyone who would say that should be in charge."

'Nuff said.


Since many of you will be viewing this during the Independence Day holiday, I thought I'd supply some interesting quotes from some interesting Americans for you to think about on this 4th of July and beyond:

"...the gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire; both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."
-- George Washington, 1783

"Britain will never be our friend till we are her master."
-- John Adams

"I fancy it must be the quantity of animal food eaten by the English which renders their character insusceptible to civilization."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1785

"...the savage tribes on our Western frontier ought to be regarded as our natural enemies..."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"This country with its constitution belongs to those who live in it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they shall exercise their constitutional rights of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."
-- Abraham Lincoln

"What has miserable, inefficient Mexico...to do with the great mission of peopling the New World with a noble race?"
-- Walt Whitman

"It is very certain that the strong British race which has now overrun much of this continent, must also overrun [Texas], and Mexico and Oregon also, and it will in the course of ages be of small import by what particular occasions and methods it was done."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"...the most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages..."
-- Theodore Roosevelt

"Dear me, think of it, N-----s speaking French."
-- William Jennings Bryan, regarding Haiti, during his term as Secretary of State to Woodrow Wilson

"If George Washington didn't get independence for this country nonviolently, and Patrick Henry didn't come up with a nonviolent statement, and you taught me to look upon them as patriots and heroes, then it's time for you to realize that I have studied your books well."
-- Malcolm X, March 12, 1964

"Marijuana will be legal some day, because the many law students who now smoke pot will someday become Congressmen and legalize it in order to protect themselves."
-- Lenny Bruce, 1965

"ALWAYS CREATE ART AND DESTROY PROPERTY. Become a work of art. Art is the only thing worth dying for."
-- Abbie Hoffman, 1968

"(expletive deleted) Of course, I am not dumb and I will never forget when I heard about this (adjective deleted) forced entry and bugging. I thought, what in the hell is this? What is the matter with these people? Are they crazy? I thought they were nuts! A prank! But it wasn't! It wasn't very funny."
-- Richard Nixon, February 28, 1973

"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes."
-- Ronald Reagan, apparently unaware that he was being taped, 1984

"People don't like the system. As mentioned earlier, 95% of Americans think corporations should lower their profits to benefit their workers and the communities they do business in, 70% think businesses have too much power, and more than 80% think that working people don't have enough say in what goes on, that the economic system is inherently unfair, and that the government basically isn't functioning, because it's working for the rich."
-- Noam Chomsky, 1998

"Jesus Christ, the schmucks we've had for Presidents!"
-- Groucho Marx, ca. 1973


The acquittal of the above four police officers on all charges related to their killing of Amadou Diallo--from Second Degree Murder to Reckless Endangerment--is extremely distressing and disturbing. It makes me ashamed to be white, ashamed to be a New Yorker, and ashamed to be a human being. To paraphrase Jesse Jackson, "You know this wouldn't have happened if it was a white boy in Westchester." The unanimous verdict must mean one of three things. Either:

And the Mayor, the Governor, the Police Commissioner, and the head of the P.B.A. deserve nothing but my contempt for their continued support of these killer cops. Anyone who would support these men and allow them to continue working for the police department after this cannot be trusted by the citizens of the City of New York. The mission of the police is "To Protect And Serve," not Suspect And Kill.

Sadness Is A World With No Peanuts

I assume all of you have already heard that Charles Schulz died this past Saturday night (February 12, 2000) at the age of 77.

I can't say that I didn't see this coming. When I first heard that he had cancer in November, I assumed that he was nearing the end of the road. But I didn't think it would be this quick, this sudden. Even though he ended Peanuts on his own--and even that end was premature to all concerned--he still made me and others feel that there was much more life left in him. Sure, a life without daily Peanuts, but a life where Peanuts still had a chance to appear here and there, on TV or elsewhere, for those few more stories which only illness prevented from becoming strips on paper. But now that chance is gone for good.

And when I looked at that very last strip, having already seen the news and knowing that there would now never ever be another one, I looked around at the other comics surrounding it, and only then cringed at the realization of what was lost. What other strip on that page had the capacity to express so much about doom, doubt, despair, and depression on the pretext of telling it all through the eyes of children? In what other strip could so much be written about love, even though true love is almost never achieved within it? What other strip could take a single gag about kicking a football and turn it into an annual event for close to 50 years?

Like Krazy Kat, Peanuts has had a longevity other artists could only dream of. Like Orwell, the vocabulary of its characters has become ingrained in everyday speech. And like Disney, Schulz has created icons of art and animation which will undoubtedly last long after his departure. I know of no other comic which combined all those aspects so successfully, and so genuinely; its widespread appeal not based on crass marketing, but on the love of one man's vision, which--despite its corporate backing--remained surprisingly undiluted.

So it will remain, since Schulz has always said that the strip will die when he does. And, as fate would have it, they both died on the same day. It feels like an end Charlie Brown would have appreciated. With that in mind, I mourn the loss not of what might still have occurred, but of what I no longer have: a voice that has been with me in the background of my entire life, which has now been replaced by silence. I don't envy those who will never know that voice in the future.

"My throat feels like I've swallowed a hockey stick!"
-- Charlie Brown, ca. 1970

Or, they're run by monkeys; you pick. I don't say this because of any problems with an account; I've never had a hotmail account, nor do I intend to have one. I say this because of my recent correspondence with them about a complaint which they claimed I sent. As it turns out, I never sent the complaint they specified, but it was like pulling teeth to get them to admit it.

Remember that the grammar in Hotmail's messages is the same as it was when I first received them.

First they said on 12/5/99:

Hello chrisf,

Thank you for your message to MSN Hotmail.

Regarding your inquiry , we're unable to take action against this member as you didn't supply us with a copy of the questionable message or you didn't supply us with the full message header. We specifically need the IP address from which the message originated.

Please send an unedited copy of the message to abuse@hotmail.com.

Please consult the Help associated with your e-mail program to determine how to view complete header information.

We'll investigate this member as soon as we receive this information.


MSN Hotmail Customer Support

My reply on the same day:

This is odd, because I don't have any record of having sent that particular complaint to you.

Lately (since November), I've been sending all my spam to "spamrecycle@ChooseYourMail.com" in addition to other agencies; and I've also been inserting "SPAM ENCLOSED NY:" in the subject of all my complaints. The copy of the message you sent me is lacking both of those features.

Could you possibly send me a copy the message you received, with the full headers? I want to verify that it was actually sent from my computer before I do anything else.


Christopher Flaherty

Hotmail's reply on 12/6/99 (all grammar is the same as the original):

Hello chrisf,

Thank you for writing to MSN Hotmail Support .

Regarding your inquiry , here are the message you've send to us:

(Here was a copy of the spam which they said I complained about; but, as in their original email to me, Hotmail did not include the headers like I asked.)

Please send us the full message header for us to verify the account .


MSN Hotmail Customer Support

My reply to that:

Thank you for your grammatically interesting reply.

If that is indeed the full amount of headers for the message you received, then I did not send it. As you can probably see in this very message, my mail program inserts "X-Sender" and "X-Mailer" headers (among others) which identify both myself and my mail program. Since the headers in the original message you sent to me do not include the above identifiers, I can only conclude that it was not sent by me in the first place.

I probably would have complained about it anyway, had I received it; but nonetheless, it seems as if someone is complaining in my name without my permission, and camoflauging their headers effectively to the point where no one can tell where that message came from.

Now then, if those are *not* the full headers (and something tells me it might not be), would you please do me the favor of finding the rest of the headers for that message and sending them to me? Then perhaps we can put this matter to rest.

Christopher Flaherty

Hotmail's puzzling reply:

Hello chrisf,

Thank you for writing to MSN Hotmail Support.

This is in response to your complaint regarding unsolicited mail you've received . Unfortunately, Hotmail cannot provide the information you seek. In order to respect the privacy of our members and those with whom they correspond, Hotmail does not disclose e-mail messages or addresses, except when served with a subpoena, court order, or other legal process.


MSN Hotmail Customer Support

My annoyed response:

Excuse me?

Look, all I did was ask you to provide the same information you're asking from me: the FULL headers to the message you're referencing--a message which you say I sent to you, and which I don't recognize as having sent to you. How is it violating anyone's privacy if I'm asking to see the headers of a message which you claim I sent to you?

Now, if you would please have the courtesy to send me a copy of my alleged complaint WITH THE FULL HEADERS, then I can verify for certain whether I sent it to you or not! Already this is very suspicious, since I have no record of that particular complaint in my files; but I would like to examine the COMPLETE message myself before I make any final conclusions.

You are not helping me by dodging my request with bureaucratic explanations, and you are only confirming my worst opinions of Microsoft as a result.

Thank you.

Christopher Flaherty

And now, Hotmail's final reply, which was obviously written by someone who has extensive knowledge of the English language:

Hello chrisf,

Thank you for writing to MSN Hotmail Support

We are sorry for the inconvenience you’ve experienced. But with regards to the letter we have received someone is forging your address. In this matter , we 're going to look with this matter.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you, and we thank for your patience and continued support.

We look forward to hear from you again, and we thank you for your patience and continued support.

We apologize for this problem and we assure you that we're doing our best to make sure that it never happens again.


MSN Hotmail Customer Support

Makes you want to run right out and buy some more of that Microsoft stock, don't it?

So, I watched the first hour of Barbara Walters' interview with the infamous Monica Lewinsky. And you know what? Even though I saw one news article which said 20% of the people who responded to a poll think less of her now than before the interview, I personally now think more of her. Why? Because she now seems like the only honest person in this entire sorry tale. I mean, here's Barbara Walters asking her: "Why on earth didn't you just take that dress to the dry cleaners?" and Lewinsky's answer is: "Because it was funny!" She admitted that she enjoyed the sex, she didn't seem to hide how she felt about the whole affair (didn't think I could avoid a pun there), and she appeared to be completely in control of what she wanted out of her relationship with Bill Clinton. And I now have even less respect for Linda Tripp, who now appears to have been sympathetic to Lewinsky only to the extent that it would provide material for her book--even goading Lewinsky into reviving the affair after Monica had already decided it was over. Is that low, or what? And what about everyone else? Bill denied that anything happened from the beginning; Hillary won't even discuss it; Ken Starr and all the Republicans in the House and the Senate look like assholes for taking legal action over something that was essentially no one else's business; and the Democrats all look like assholes for defending the President by saying he's such a nice guy, and yet totally ignoring how he blatantly bombed Iraq and murdered civilians (something which is still going on, by the way) in order to distract Congress from the impeachment process. In other words, everyone else besides Monica looks like a complete dick in comparison, and Monica transforms herself into a poster girl for a generation. MONICA LEWINSKY FOR PRESIDENT!

So now he's impeached. I hope everyone's happy. Personally, I don't care what happens to President Clinton anymore. I don't care if he gets convicted, censured, rebuked, thrown out, assassinated--I just don't care. Go ahead and resign--or don't. Will it really matter? The funny thing is: I was actually leaning towards plain old censure up until this past Wednesday--the day when Clinton decided to bomb Iraq into oblivion in a last-ditch effort to simultaneously postpone a vote on impeachment and raise his standing in the polls. Do you really think it's just a coincidence that the bombing stopped only after the House was done voting on impeachment? I think it's incredibly disgraceful that Clinton would resort to out-and-out murder just to save his own political ass--and yet that wasn't impeachable. No, the Congress would never dare to remove a man from office because he actually killed people in the name of politics. But lying about a blowjob? Oh, that's inexcusable! What bullshit, I say. And for that reason, I no longer have any sympathy left for the man-- or most of Congress for that matter. THROW THEM ALL OUT, HEAD FIRST. Then, maybe I'll be happy.

Maybe all this Impeachment business has gone too far. Having read the Ken Starr Report, and having sifted through a bunch of the assorted evidence used to write it, I come away from it rather underwhelmed. So the President is about to be impeached for getting a blowjob and having lied about getting a blowjob? I find it a little more than disturbing that all the other crap he's gotten away with--e.g., NAFTA, GATT, the CDA, MFN with China, the Defense of Marriage Act, the gutting of welfare, the expansion of the death penalty, etc. (though Congress deserves its share of blame too for passing most of this shit in the first place)--is considered above reproach, even though it affects the lives of millions of people in and out of this country. But this, a matter that affects four people at the most--this is the stuff of which impeachment is made? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what I said about lying and perjury and impeachment earlier in the year, but it seems as if the crimes on trial are very low in my opinion. If the people in Congress actually held people accountable for things that mattered, as opposed to things that are mostly inconsequential, then maybe I'd have more confidence in the entire process. As of now, I'm so annoyed that I'd much prefer if everyone from the top down in the government was replaced overnight. In the meantime, enjoy this little haiku I wrote which sums up the essence of the whole report in about the time it takes to . . . oh, insert your own cigar or dress joke here.

So North Korea shoots a missile into the sea of Japan. It passes right through Japanese air space, I hear. Maybe the US will have to take "action" of some kind, I hear. But say, how did Japan find out about this missile in the first place? Why, they were first notified by the US military, of course. Now I'm sure most people would think there's nothing out of the ordinary here: the US notices the missile and then lets Japan know about it. But isn't it just a little suspicious that Japan didn't know about it first? Doesn't there seem to be a steady stream of stories in the news about how bad a place North Korea is, just like there was about other countries in the days leading up to US military actions against Panama, Iraq, and Haiti, respectively? (True, North Korea isn't a great place to live and has a particularly repressive government; my point is us Americans hear a lot more bad things about North Korea than about, say, El Salvador, for instance.) Far be it from me to suspect the Department of Defense from planting any stories in the news, but I still can't get that whole Gulf of Tonkin thing out of my head. And what's one of the countries the US always mentions in its "two war" strategy? Is the US planning to put all or half of that strategy in gear anytime soon? I don't know for sure, but this is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

This is entirely different from all the other thoughts which have occupied this space recently, in that I have nothing bad to say this time. In fact, I feel quite good about asking you to visit something completely different I've been working on: The Highly Unofficial alt.fan.dr-pepper FAQ. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: almost everything you ever wanted to know about Dr Pepper, but were afraid to ask. See? I don't have to complain about things all the time.

I'm really getting sick of the shitty way the New York City Subway is being run. I'm tired of walking into hot humid stations that smell of piss and are overrun with rats the size of kosher salamis. I'm tired of having to hold my breath every time one of those diesel work trains rumbles through a station, belching out smoke which asphyxiates anyone unlucky enough to be in its path. I'm tired of getting on a train which ends up being rerouted off its line despite there not being any notices displayed that a diversion will be taking place. And is any of this going to improve when the MTA starts offering unlimited rides this summer (1998)? I certainly hope so--otherwise we're in for hell of a ride.

Did Monica Lewinsky give Bill Clinton a blowjob (or two)? Did Bill Clinton come on her dress? Did they have phone sex together? Did Bill Clinton lie about it under oath? Did he or Vernon Jordan ask Lewinsky to lie about it under oath? Is Bill Clinton participating in a cover-up? Should he be impeached or resign if these allegations can be proven to be true? My opinions, in order: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Visit the Washington Post and Yahoo's special section for the best sources of information on this extraordinarily comical turn of events.
P.S.: You think Clinton's going to step up his timetable with regards to the U.S.'s next military strike on Iraq in order to distract people from all this? Does a President come on the dress? . . .

So, where was I from August to October? Recovering from the mother of all computer crashes, that's where. All I wanted to do was add another 8MB of RAM to my paltry 486DX-2 66MHz system; no big deal, right? So I tried it, and then Windows wouldn't open. Then directories were erased for no reason. Then my hard drive started going "clunk, clunk, clunk," and wouldn't even load DOS. So, I replaced the bad 850MB hard drive (which was a Samsung, which was a replacement of another Samsung hard drive that had 300MB of bad sectors on it) with a brand-new Western Digital 3.1 Gigbyte hard drive. However, I was still getting graphics problems, and my larger programs (like Word for Windows, Netscape, and all my internet software--not to mention Doom II) just refused to run. So, I got rid of the "EZ Bios" software (you know you're in trouble whenever anything computer-related has "EZ" in front of it) that was running the drive, and just ran it using the regular AMI Bios that came with the motherboard. But even though the BIOS setup said it was recognizing the full capacity of the hard drive, the graphics problems, etc. persisted. So, thinking that the BIOS wasn't really recognizing the 3.1 GB on the hard drive (that particular BIOS was from 7-7-94, afterall--even though I bought my system in September, 1995, damn it), I sent away for an 8-bit ISA card that was designed to let 486's with that BIOS to run large hard drives up to 9 gigabytes. I ordered 2-Day delivery and it took 3 days for me to get it (after fighting with the company to reduce my shipping charges and fighting with UPS to actually locate my package), and I quickly installed it--only to find out that didn't solve the problem either. So, I then upgraded my graphics card from a 1MB Trident (or--as Trident would be quick to point out--a card with a Trident chipset, since Trident doesn't make cards) to a 2MB Graphics Blaster, since the Trident drivers had conflicted with programs in the past. Again, no solution. So, once more, I took my computer in for a look from an expert, and they determined my motherboard, in layman's terms, had "gone south" and was never meant to operate a 66MHz chip in the first place. Well, fine, I said, I'll just upgrade the motherboard and the chip and transplant some state-of-the- art guts into my chassis. Unfortunately, the rest of the nation and the majority of the merchants in this town seem determined to prevent anyone in New York City (or at least Manhattan) from just walking into a store and getting an upgrade on the spot (especially CompUSA, who apparently couldn't sell you a motherboard and processor upgrade if their lives depended on it). Nonetheless, an engineer I know was able to recommend someplace within Manhattan, where I was able to bring in my system on a Wednesday and walk out with an upgrade to a Pentium motherboard with an Intel 200MHz MMX chip that Friday. A few software reinstallations later and BAM! Full speed ahead! Now I can finally play Duke Nukem and answer my email in peace...

Missed some episodes during the computer crash? Catch their slightly sparse summaries here

Twice, since July, 1997, I have received spam which, in one way or another, could be traced back to the "sailahead.com" domain. The first spam I received was traced back there indirectly, the second time directly --and allegedly with the full endorsement of Samsung electronics. Both times, I let the spammers know exactly what I thought about them in no uncertain terms (i.e., they SUCK). And both times, while the matters may not have been fully resolved, they did eventually come to a halt. So what am I complaining about now? A threat. Yes, apparently I've complained about the spammers so much that now they are allegedly threatening legal action if I don't stop complaining, insisting that "spamming is a protected activity under the laws of free speech." Not only that, but the spammers also had the nerve to accuse me of "inflammatory internet hacking, telephone hacking, flaming, jamming, and other illegal activities," as well as "various acts of internet terrorism," ending with the assertion that "Your acts are illegal." Oh, I see. Spamming countless hundreds of thousands of people who never asked to receive junk email in their inbox is a "protected activity," but replying to the same email and complaining about it is "internet terrorism"??? Give me a fucking break. So go ahead. Read the spam from "Bible Mysteries," the spam from "Sailahead Mall," (both of which include my individual replies to them), then read the threat from the spammers and my reply to that; then you tell me who the "internet terrorist" is. Normally I'd add some links to email addresses so you too could let the spammers know what you think of all this nonsense, but since I'm not even sure that their threat is coming from a legitimate person, I'm going to hold off until the source is either confirmed or denied--which shouldn't take long at all considering the ultra-legal tone of their message. I'll let you know what happens next.

UPDATE: It is indeed a hoax. Read this reply from sailahead.com regarding this latest spam.

NEW! Support H.R. 1748, "The Netizens Protection Act of 1997," a bill which would outlaw junk email. PERIOD.

Once upon a time, New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said that he wanted to let all rent control laws expire in New York State on June 15, 1997, if the legislature didn't adopt a plan which would have allowed the laws to expire anyway. Obviously, anyone who advocates such an asinine plan has never had to scrape together a month's rent in Manhattan--let alone hunt for an apartment here! For more sensible information, visit Tenant Net for a lively guide to everything you could possibly want to know as a tenant in New York City. (Besides, any site that includes a link to Steal This Book gets an automatic thumbs-up from us!) For more low-income housing info, visit ACORN, the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development, and learn all about what you can do to help. The New York City Rent Guidelines Board has some information also, though they're not always very tenant-friendly. Maybe it's time for me to move . . . (P.S.: The laws were renewed on June 20, 1997, with--among many other things--new limits on who can inheirit an apartment, and increased amounts by which a landlord can raise a tenant's rent. So on the one hand, the laws are still pretty much in place. On the other hand, it's now a whole lot easier to raise rents to the point where the poor won't be able to afford apartments in Manhattan for much longer. And they expire in six years, so we'll have to go through all this shit again in 2003, sigh . . .

CORPORATIONS SUCK. What else is new? But why should I feel this way? Take VIACOM, for example. Surely this can't have anything to do with MTV, and how they arbitrarily censor the music videos they play? No, not this time. No, my beef with them today lies with their problem with Star Trek web sites. Yep, apparently they don't want anyone on the internet getting too detailed about anything Trek-related, or else they consider it copyright infringement--including episode summaries! Jeez, don't they realize that their obsessed fans are what made the show so big to begin with? I now feel the same way towards FOX, for their ridiculous attitude towards Millenium and X-Files web sites. Who do they think made these shows so damn famous in the first place? Creatures from outer space??? Visit the above protest sites for background info, then email Viacom and email Fox and tell them--nicely, if possible--their so-called policies against copyright infringement suck. Then start your own web page. There's strength in numbers, you know.

GENOCIDE! Ugly word, huh? Well, that's exactly what white people have been doing to Native Americans for over 500 years, and I have now found a web site that gives you a crash course on white people's genocide against Native Americans in plain English. So now, I don't want to hear any more double talk on how the Cleveland Indians' mascot is "just a drawing," or "actually a tribute," or something that "shouldn't be taken seriously." It's racist and insulting. Of course, that isn't the only racist or insulting thing in this country (or even this city), but I pick my battles one at a time. For more stuff you never learned in school, visit "The Conspiracy Pages," and discover most, if not all, of the bad things our government and others have been up to over the years.


Read all about my letter, which was published in the New York Press on July 9, 1997.

Here you can view an op-ed I sent to the New York Times, which they never printed. Maybe I'll add an even larger essay in the future.

Return to Free New York!