Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pipest Dream Ever

The National Review has an editorial up on the execution of Saddam Hussein. The piece ends with this ridiculous statement. From NRO:

Saddam’s trial and execution could yet be the building block of a future with hope in it for an Iraqi society and state at last free from his tyranny.

Um, Saddam's been out of circulation for over three years. The Iraqis have been out from under the thumb of his tyranny for over three years. What has happened since then? It has gotten worse every year. Why would this act change anything?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein

If you're wondering why all of the sudden it's critical to hurry up and get Saddam Hussein on the rope, it's because Eid ul-Adha starts on Sunday and by Iraqi law it is illegal to execute someone during a religious holiday. Eid ul-Adha only lasts four days so I really don't know what the problem is, they still have another 26 days to string him up.

That aside, I think Josh Marshall has written the definitive statement on this charade here.

Joe Lieberman

I took four things away from reading Joe Lieberman's op-ed in today's Washington Post.

1. Joe wants to escalate, escalate, escalate our troop level in Iraq but doesn't seem to know what they will do.

2. Joe is boring. I mean, he is really dull. I always thought that it was his voice that made him seem that way, but he writes pretty dull also.

3. Joe is a gasbag. Succinct is not in his vocabulary. I'm not sure why he thought he needed to shit this 1,109 word whale on to WAPO's editorial page. He could cut the thing in half and still said what he wanted to say, which leads us to number four. I'll sum that one up in just eleven words.

4. Joe has little if any idea what he is talking about.

Ayles Ice Shelf Collapses

This is a picture of a large portion of the Ayles Ice Shelf on the north shores of Canada breaking free. Ii amounts to 54.5% of the entire Ayles Ice shelf, or to put that in perspective, roughly the size of 11,000 football fields. The Ayles Shelf is one of only six ice shelves left in Canada. From The Age:
"This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing
remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many
thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the
onset of accelerated change ahead," [Laval University's Warwick] Vincent said

In 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss
of sea ice, he said.
It's called Global Warming. Act now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Out Of Commission

Paul Westerberg will be out of commission for at least a year after accidently stabbing himself with a screwdriver. From

Former Replacements singer Paul Westerberg may be out of action for the next year following a bizarre accident where he stabbed himself in the left hand with a screwdriver.

Westerberg was scrapping wax from a candle about a week ago when the accident occurred. The screwdriver slipped and pierced his left hand, ripping the cartilage and hurting the musician quite severely.

"He's in a cast. He's seen a couple of doctors who say he won't be able to play guitar for a year" his friend Jim Walsh posted in a blog.

Nothing to add, just passing it along.

Bitch Slapped From The Grave

Yesterday, the right spent most of the day deifying the late President Ford. Today, via an embargoed interview with Bob Woodward, Ford posthumously bitch slapped the right and their policies on Iraq. From The Washington Post:

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark. It is actually pretty funny. The right spent yesterday painting Ford as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that meme stuck pretty well in the media. Now they're going to have to live with this strong criticism. It serves them right.

Look for them to start questioning the timing of this piece, which was probably embargoed due to the tradition of past presidents not criticizing the guy currently in the chair.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Oh, That Gerald Ford Died

Think about it. Before today, unless you caught last night's news, when was the last time you thought about Gerald Ford? It has probably been awhile. Maybe you caught a back page story on one of his trips to the hospital, but that's about it.

So how in one day did a man who never collected a single vote for the presidency become a modern day Diogenes that led the nation through the darkness back from the brink? Was he an able president? Sure. Was he as MSNBC is now calling him, one of history' greatest leaders? Hardly.

He kept the seat warm, had approval ratings mostly in the mid-forties, and his "Long national nightmare" speech is a pretty good read.

So how did he get from what he was, which was the guy who just happened to be in the seat when Nixon was forced to step down, to how he is being described today. He died, no more, no less.

I really was going to let this go until I saw the bravest leader thing. It was just too over the top to ignore.

Ah, The Family Values

Remember Washingtonienne, the blog ran by Mike DeWine aide Jessica Cutler in which she described her less than virtuous lifestyle in DC? The website has long been shuttered, but lives on in the form of a lawsuit filed by Robert Steinbuch, a DeWine counsel, who didn't much like his proclivities being discussed in open public.

The AP has an update on the case here.

The Slow Agonizing Death Of Dead Trees

It's no wonder George Will is bitter about all the new mediums for information exchange. His medium is dying a slow and painful death. Consider this, the McClatchy Co. has announced it will sell the Minneapolis Star Tribune to Avista Capital Partners for $530 million.

It was all of eight years ago that McClatchy purchased the paper for $1.2 billion. McClatchy does expect to receive a future tax break from the deal pushing the proceeds from the sale to $690 million so they only lost about half of their investment. Here is the statement in their press release. From Market Watch:

"This decision will better align our portfolio for today's changing media environment," said Gary Pruitt, the company's chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

Yes, the media environment is changing, and to be honest it isn't necessarily all for the good. While I like to thumb my nose at such dinosaurs as Will, I do understand that these media sources are very valuable and I do not wish to see them go away. Somebody better start figuring out very quickly how to save them because losing the information they put into the public domain whether it be online or on dead trees will sorely hurt this country.

Nothing To See Here

Well, this is certainly one way to quell the furor over out of control CEO compensation. The SEC will reverse a July decision and let publicly traded companies go back to under-reporting the compensation of their CEOs. From the New York Times:

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move announced late on the last business day before Christmas, reversed a decision it had made in July and adopted a rule that would allow many companies to report significantly lower total compensation for top executives.

The change in the way grants of stock options are to be explained to investors is a victory for corporations that had opposed the rule when it was issued in July, and a defeat for institutional investors that had backed the S.E.C.’s original rule.

“It was a holiday present to corporate America,” Ann Yerger, the executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said yesterday. “It will certainly make the numbers look smaller in 2007 than they would otherwise have looked.”

So much for the SEC's role in inspiring investor confidence.

Full Disclosure: In an effort to comply with the SEC's new rules, which are really the old rules, I must report that my total compensation for this year was four-hundred forteen dollars and eighty-six or eighty-seven cents. I can't remember. I'll file an amended report if it was something different.

Iran And Oil

One of the things that surprised me yesterday is that very few of the peak oil alarmists, of which I am one, really latched on to Roger Stern's report on the state of Iran's oil infrastructure. According to Stern, the world's fifth largest oil exporter will cease to be an exporter within the next ten years due to oil field degradation and increased domestic usage. Much of the coverage looked at the national security angle of the report, but the fact is that this would cause almost a billion barrels of oil a year off the market.

For that reason, I think the peak oil angle is at least as important. In fact, I think they are tied together for two reasons. The former has to do with our economy, the latter has to do with theirs.

First of all, we have to ask ourselves is it more important to stop Iran from becoming a state with nuclear power than the rest of the world paying for oil in the $120-$150 a barrel range? Secondly, is an Iran with nuclear power more or less dangerous than an Iran with no viable economy?

These are tough questions to answer, no doubt. And of course I'm talking about nuclear energy, not weapons. That certainly changes the equation.

Gerald Ford Has Died

I'm not going to get into this very much, I've already seen more Ford retrospectives than I would ever care to see and it's barely past five in the morning. I'm sure you will have the opportunity to do the same.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Here Come The Mercenaries

A little over a year ago, I wrote that there were only three possibilities for seriously increasing the number of troops in Iraq. From Me:

I can only come up with three ways to accomplish this given that our military is becoming increasingly battle weary. The first is obviously to have a draft. Not gonna happen with presidential approval ratings in the thirties. Members of Congress like being members of Congress and approving a draft puts you in the fast lane out of town. The second is recruit foreigners to replenish our ranks. Bad idea, leads to a clusterfuck of a military. The third, and in my opinion the best option is to play a high stakes game of chicken with the UN. Tell them to give us 150,000 troops next month or we are going home.

The first option was never politically viable, and given the current realities, the third isn't either. The Pentagon is, however now considering the second. From the Boston Globe:

The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

This is a bad idea. First of all, there are not going to be any overseas recruiting centers opened. Plain and simply put, those places could only be called one thing, targets. No, the only road this is going to lead to is the conscription of illegal aliens already in this country.

Social Security

One of the great mysteries of life to me is how in the world did Jeff Sessions become a powerful member of the republican Senate. so you can imagine the groan I let out when I saw that he had an Op-Ed in today's Washington Post about Social Security. I thought to myself, "Oh God, what is this huckleberry going to propose?"

Much to my surprise, it's is actually a pretty good plan which doesn't affect the current Social Security program, and instead adds an additional savings plan. From the Washington Post:

Under legislation I will be introducing in the next Congress, an individual personal retirement account -- called a PLUS Account (for Portable, Lifelong Universal Savings Accounts) -- would be established for every American at birth and would be endowed with a $1,000 contribution from the federal government. This money could be placed in a limited number of investment funds similar to those offered by the TSP program, with the parents of each newborn choosing their preferred funds. Parents and grandparents also would be allowed to contribute up to $5,000 annually to these accounts. Without any additional contributions, and given a reasonable rate of return, the initial $1,000 endowment would be worth $50,000 to $100,000 when each individual reached age 65.

But the real impact of PLUS accounts would be that, beginning in 2009, 1 percent of every worker's paycheck would be automatically deposited into his own account for the first $100,000 earned annually, with his employer required to match this 1 percent contribution. Worker contributions would be made pretax while employer contributions would be tax-deductible. Both workers and their employers would have the option of contributing more.

Funds contributed to PLUS accounts would be the legal property of each account holder, but they could not be touched until age 65. Any funds remaining when an individual died could be passed on to a spouse, children, grandchildren or anyone of the holder's choosing (including a favorite charity). Account assets would be protected from creditors and would not be considered in determining eligibility for any federally funded benefits or in calculating estate tax liability. Finally, my plan would simply serve as a supplement to the Social Security system, not altering the program in any way.

The devil is, of course, in the details and I'm not really sure that this couldn't simply be accomplished by a few alterations in the regulations concerning IRAs but it is good to see that some republicans have at least learned an important lesson about Social Security. It isn't broken, stop trying to fix it.

The Iraqi Economy

Every week or so I hear on the local radio station an "Operation Update" from a Captain Marcus Fisk on how things are going in Iraq from a guy who is in Iraq. It's one of those propaganda type things the military does to keep up public support for their operations.

I found his report this morning a little strange. In it, he spent the majority of his time parroting the writings of Larry Kudrow from last week's Newsweek. Why does a guy in Iraq have to read Newsweek to tell us about all the great things happening right outside his door?

If you're unfamiliar with Kudrow's last column, he basically went on and on about how great the economy is in Iraq. That's not quite true. From this week's Newsweek:

A recent study by economist Colin Rowat at the University of Birmingham revealed that if you factor out foreign aid, Iraq's GNP is actually $27 billion less than it should be because of the war.

In fairness to Kudrow, he did write that foreign aid is propping up the Iraqi economy, but to say thing are booming when their stand alone GNP is short $27 billion is ridiculous.

The Tiny Men

Wow, Bill Kristol actually said something I agree with on Iraq. The only difference is that he thinks it is a good idea, while I think it is going to be a disaster. From DKos:

Forcasting the president's plan for Iraq, Kristol adds, "I think [Bush] will say 'We can win. We have to win. We're going to increase troop levels as part of a new strategy for the sake of victory.' And, so, it will not be a short term surge."

Yep, we're going to do this, and as with almost every escalation in every war, it will not be ratcheted back anytime soon. There will always be one more hump we have to get over and when we clear it we will just find another larger hump on the other side. Whatever surge we do, those guys aren't coming home anytime soon. I mean that quite literally. The only way to do this is to extend tours of duty. We simply do not possess enough ground combat troops.

As for guys running for president in 2008 who think this the the bestest poniest plan in the world, John McCain had this silly shit to say in today's Washington Post. From the Post:

A leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination, McCain has been one of the few and among the most vocal politicians pressing for more troops in Iraq. "We left Vietnam, it was over, we just had to heal the wounds of war. We leave this place . . . and they'll follow us home," he said on a news show recently. "So there's a great deal more at stake."

This is just plain and simple crap. How exactly are they going to get here, John? Are they going to load up that huge armada which comprises the Iraqi navy? Perhaps they will come flying over in their non-existant air force. No, no, I know. They are all going to pile in their old jeeps, drive east and wait for the next Ice Age so they can drive across the land bridge from eastern Russia to Alaska. I can't believe anyone takes this fool seriously as a presidential candidate.

See Juan Cole's Top Ten myths about Iraq (#8) for a further debunking of this.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas Poem

Hi everyone. Posting will obviously be light for the next few days as I fill my holiday obligations. So, I'll leave you with a poem written a few years ago by the fabulous Daria O'Neill of Portland.

All the world loves a movie, but in quiet dissention
A colorful creature of just two dimensions

Went creeping and crawling down Lehoya Way
When the sun had gone down and the sky had turned gray

And knelt in a graveyard by a flower-strewn tomb,
Crying and cooing in the cool dusky gloom

A little sketched hand ‘round it’s mouth cupped the thing
And lips to the turf gave a singing-song sing,

“Mr Geisel,” it whispered, “Nine years you’ve been gone
Some things since that time have gone horribly wrong.

Drugged-out ravers in tall stripey hats
Besmoiling the trademark you made for the Cat.

A character I’ve learned from my showbiz-news mailer
Might be played soon big-screen-style by Tool Time’s Tim Taylor.

Presumably not coked-up, car-crashing in jailer
Cashing in Home Improvement rerun checks for bailer

That’s no matter, for the reason I’ve come to disturb
Your eternal rest, which is so much deserved

Was I knew you would issue a posthumous bellow
If you knew what they’d done to your green grouchy fellow.

”And the tiny bright creature proceeded to murmur
As it finished, the ground grew abruptly unfirmer

The earth shook and quivered, the topsoil burst loose
And in a great roar like the bray of a moose

Who’s just drunk a vat of moose-maddening juice
From the grave sprang the doctor, whose last name was Seuss.

Nine years under had left him a corpsy-heart stiller
Blue-tinged and flesh-frayed like an extra from Thriller

A post-mortem figure to give the heart quivers
He still looked more pleasant than a living Joan Rivers.

He looked down at the confidante crouched at his knee
Who was Cindy Lou Who, now aged forty-three.

“You’ve done right to rouse me,” he growled at the old Who,
“Now we’re off to Universal—flippety-floo!”

Down Hollywood 101 lurched the dead author grim,
Turning onto the boulevard called Lankershim.

And as car screeched and swerved round the zombie and tot,
They turned right onto Universal Studios lot.

Meanwhile, unawares, in a large meeting room
A gaggle of producers uninformed of their doom

Met glasses and clinked, joyous voices all raised
“Fifty-five point one million in only three days!

The eighth-biggest weekend gross of all time!”
When in through the door, drenched in earth, leaves and slime

Burst the good deceased doctor, filled with rage inch to inch
And he screamed “What the hell have you done with my Grinch?

”The producers all gaped at the horrible sight
Each clung to the other with all of their might

Till one squeaked out, voice choked up with fright
“Your wife Audrey assured us that it was alright!

”Seuss coughed up a rat with a noise most ungroovy
And spat “Fools, my problem is not with the movie.

I don’t care that Grinch flashbacks were your main objective
Or that he was played by that one pet detective.

I don’t mind big Who breasts as a cheap eye-gaze vector,
I don’t mind the narration by Hannibal Lector.

That the Whos looked like rats is not what made my heart soured
(though they saved on the makeup when dressing Clint Howard)

Background songs by Faith Hill bothered me not one wee,
Didn’t mind that Jim’s Grinch talked like Sean Connery.

What I mind,” hissed the doctor, leaping up on the table,
“Was the way you all crapped on the point of my fable.

‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store’?‘
Maybe Christmas,’ he thought ‘meant a little bit more’?

Well, great goodness me,” Seuss deadly deadpanned
,Just what part of that did you not understand?

You’re selling Grinch T-shirts, Grinch video games,
Gloves, sleds and masks bear the Grinch face and name,

You’re selling Grinch vases and those Grinch snow-globe things,
Lunchboxes, backpacks, Grinch napkin rings,

Ornaments, beanbags, Grinch wrapping paper,
Grinch candles that smell and Grinch candles that taper.

That Christmas not be commercial was the point of the book!
And now I must cut off your heads with this hook.”

And with that, Dr Seuss, the distinguished demised
Unsheathed his bewildering Christmas surprise,

A device called the Choppy-Top Grinder 2X,
Designed for dismembering smug movie execs.

Seuss sawed through skull one with a gleeful carouse
While screaming “That one’s for making Blues Brothers 2000!”

Producer number two made a dash for the door
Soon his arms and his legs were in piles on the floor.

Red blood filled the air in a crimson sideshow
Crowed Seuss, “That’s for greenlighting Gus Van Sant’s Psycho!

The bisecting of the third, the next scene will take us
As it was his pitch to make Viva Rock Vegas.

Number four hit the floor as he cried “Mamma mia!”
Rocky and Bullwinkle, live-action, had been his idea.

And so it went on, with chip-chopping and blood
Till the room was knee-deep in a body-part flood

And just one lone producer, within Choppy-Top reach
Who was about to become the first blood-bellied sneetch

Choking his pleas through the dead colleague’s stench
He cried out “Don’t blame us! We were bought by the French!

First Seagram’s own us,” choked the lad, face vermillion,
“But this June we were bought off for thirty-four billion

By French company Vevendi! So do not my brain pinch,
The Germans own Kermit, the French own the Grinch!”

Undead Seuss gave a frown, this news was most vexing,
The Choppy-Top Grinder stopped grindy-two-X-ing,

With a groan it wound down with its blades, wheels and cogs
Sighed Seuss, “Well, I’m off then, to kill snail-sucking frogs.”

And he reached in the pocket of his severed-legs pants
To get a cell phone to charter a plane flight to France.

As the final exec swooned in coworker brain juice
Cindy Lou tapped the bone-exposed kneecap of Seuss.

And whispered “Hey Doc, if you’re done with this caper,
They’re printing The Lorax on unrecycled paper.”

And the moral of the tale, be you Opie, Grinch or Who,
Don’t Fuck with the Doc, or the Doc will Fuck you.

Suck on that yule log.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh No!

Over at The Poorman Institute, where The Editors has running for the White House under the Connecticut For Lieberman party, something troubling has happened. The Editors has left the party and formed his (their?) own separate radical militant? centrist movement.

This will have untold political consequences for centrists everywhere, and the fallout will be radioactive. My gravest fear is that this will lead to ethical cleansing taking shape in the form of centralian violence. Watch the video. The tone is, to say the least, "serious."

Happy Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

As I sit here peering off into the predawn mist, I'd like to give a shout out to all my Pagan comrades in the War on Christmas who celebrate the winter solstice. The unconquered Sun will return.

And as always, remember to have a better than average end of the year annual events time period. May whatever gift giving fiasco you celebrate be fruitful.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Abizaid Looks Over Cliff, Decides Not To Jump

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid probably has had as good a look as anybody at what Bush plans to do when he finally announces his change in course and apparently he wants nothing do do with it. He has submitted his resignation. From the LA Times:

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq.

Abizaid has been the primary architect of U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since becoming head of the U.S. Central Command more than three years ago. He has strenuously resisted calls to increase troop levels to quell rising violence in Baghdad, arguing it would increase Iraqi dependence on Americans.

But a growing number of current and former officers have embraced the idea, some of whom have briefed President Bush as part of his monthlong review of Iraq policy, and the White House is believed to be considering the move.

"If you're going to change the strategy, in fairness to [Abizaid], let him go," said a former senior Pentagon official who has worked closely with the general. "He's given it all he's got, in terms of personal sacrifice."

Yes indeed, in fairness to Abizaid, don't push him over the cliff.

OSU Basketball

Last night I finally got to see the big man, Greg Oden, in person. He is truly a man among boys. He didn't have his best game, and for some reason he was not only wearing a brace on his left hand, but also had his right hand taped up, but he still dominated, scoring 18 and altering numerous shots.

The player that continues to amaze me though is Mike Conley. I'd only seen him play once when he was in high school and I figured he was just a throw-in to land Oden. He is most certainly not. In fact, I think he might be as a freshman one of the top five, or at least top ten, point guards in the country. He can simply take anyone off the dribble and he finishes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The al-Sadr Drumbeat Heats Up

The Pentagon now gets into the act, calling al-Sadr the most Dangerous man in Iraq, even worse than al Qaeda. From CNN:

Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as "the most dangerous accelerant" of the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq for nearly a year, according to a Pentagon report.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias jumped 22 percent from mid-August to mid-November, and Iraqi civilians suffered the bulk of casualties, according to the quarterly report released on Monday.

The problem is that while al-Sadr can easily escalate the violence, I'm not sure he can quell it and taking him out will certainly blow the lid off Iraq. He must be negotiated with, but he won't and things will get worse.

Sam Brownback: No Judge Should Know A Gay

Here is another jackass that thinks he has a shot at being president, no chance. His views are so warped and out of the mainstream that he simply has no chance. From the New York Times:

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who blocked the confirmation of a woman to the federal bench because she attended a same-sex commitment ceremony for the daughter of her long-time neighbors, says he will now allow a vote on the nomination.

Mr. Brownback, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said in a recent interview that when the Senate returned in January, he would allow a vote on Janet Neff, a 61-year-old Michigan state judge, who was nominated to a Federal District Court seat.

So what, now just knowing one of teh gays is enough to keep you off the federal bench? And it's not like Brownback has reversed his views on the matter. He tried to cut a deal that would have Neff promise to recuse herself from any cases involving teh gays in exchange for him releasing the hold, until he found out, yes someone had to tell him, that it was tantamount to a quid pro quo and therefore infringed on the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution.

Brownback said he will still vote against her. You see, in his world know a gay is enough to disqualify you from public service. I suppose he will ask Dick Cheney to resign post-haste.

To Surge Or Not To Surge

How bad a plan is the White House's favored "surge" policy for quelling the violence in Iraq. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is unanimously against it, that's right, unanimously. From The Washington Post:

But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.

Judging by these comments, it sounds like the White House has no plan whatsoever with what we are going to do with the extra troops, although I still think they are being sent in to get al-Sadr. Both ideas however show a lack of forward thinking. As with every aspect of this war so far, the surge idea simply leaves you asking, "Then what?"

More of the same, that's what. It's strange, every time we add a few more temporary troops, the troop level never seems to return to the previous level. It is a slow burn escalation that is rapidly leading the Army to the breaking point. We are eventually going to have to have a draft, or leave, or degrade our Army to the point where it is no longer a capable fighting force. Those are our options. It's not hard to decide which option the Decider will pick, it's the last one.

The problem is that at this point we need outside help, and we're not going to get it. Too many nations are enjoying seeing us get our nose bloodied. It is kind of like when the neighborhood bully gets tied to the flagpole and everybody gets a free shot. It will not stop until that bully has a come to Jesus moment, and I don't think the guy we have in the White House has that in him. So we'll get more of the same, with occasional bouts of even dumber until this guys leaves the White House.

His limo got egged as he went to the White House, he'll be lucky if it isn't rocks and bottle as he leaves.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Mookie

Larry Johnson, a former CIA agent and global security expert, has a new post up over at his excellent site No Quarter confirming what I wrote last Friday. We're definitely going after the Mookie. What an impending disaster.


Did our November elections start a trend in the battle to get the nitwits out of power. Maybe. Iran's own nitwit in chief was strongly rebuked in last Friday's elections. From the Guardian:

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of Iran faced electoral embarrassment today after the apparent failure of his supporters to win control of key local councils and block the political comeback of his most powerful opponent.

Early results from last Friday's election suggested that his Sweet Scent of Service coalition had won just three out of 15 seats on the symbolically important Tehran city council, foiling Mr Ahmadinejad's plan to oust the mayor and replace him with an ally.

The outcome appeared to be mirrored elsewhere, with councils throughout Iran returning a majority of reformists and moderate fundamentalists opposed to Mr Ahmadinejad.

Compounding his setback was the success of Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential pragmatist and fierce critic of the president's radical policies. Mr Rafsanjani - whom Mr Ahmadinejad defeated in last year's presidential election - received the most votes in elections to the experts' assembly, a clerical body empowered to appoint and remove Iran's supreme leader. By contrast, Ayatollah Mohammed-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, Mr Ahmadinejad's presumed spiritual mentor, came sixth.

Good, it's about time the sensibles started winning, although I'm not entirely sure this election was about reform as much as it was about their terrible economy. It is important to note that the Supreme Leader of Iran urged his followers to vote for Rafsanjani as a way to consolidate his power. Yazdi and Ahmadinejad had been trying to take over the Council of Experts, presumably to grab the real power in Iran, that of the Supreme Leader.

Found via Kevin Drum who added this snarky line, "I guess last week's Holocaust denial conference, an obvious attempt to rally his base, didn't work. I hear that strategy has been having lots of trouble lately."

Do They Offer Thirty Year Jumbos?

Larry Kudrow brings us the "good news" from Iraq, something I'm sure we'll be hearing trumpeted on every wingnut site for days to come. I particularly like this part. From Newsweek:

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London.

There is obviously a bad bomb joke in there just begging to get out, but aside from that, why is Kudrow surprised that in a country with roughly ten percent of its population displaced, home sales are brisk? And I have to tell you, it's not much of a surprise that construction is doing well in a country where everything is pretty much blown to shit either.


There is a piece in today's New York Times that exemplifies the clusterfuck the Iraq war has become due to following the Rumsfeld doctrine of war, that is, making shit up as you go along. Donald Vance, an American who was working as a contractor in Iraq noticed laws were being broken at the firm where he was working.

It wasn't just run of the mill fraud either, these guys were dealing arms to the insurgency so he did what I would hope every American would do, he contacted the FBI. The FBI then, in turn informed the military who raided the company. Vance was swept up in the raid as the Army didn't know he was an informant. That's understandable, what happened next isn't. From the NYT:

She [Pentagon Spokewoman First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso] said officials did not reach Mr. Vance’s contact at the F.B.I. until he had been in custody for three weeks. Even so, she said, officials determined that he “posed a threat” and decided to continue holding him. He was released two months later, Lieutenant Fracasso said, based on a “subsequent re-examination of his case,” and his stated plans to leave Iraq.

It's bad enough that it took three weeks to confirm with the FBI that he was working with them, but to hold him for two additional months is pretty egregious, and as bad as that is, they also held him an additional eighteen days after the "subsequent re-examination of his case" where it was decided he wasn't a threat.

These are the consequences for taking long standing procedures for treating detainees and simply throwing them out the window for whatever whims Rumsfeld on any given day. It's a good thing he's gone and I wish Vance all the best on the lawsuit he is planning to file against him.

Jealous Much?

Apparently George Will feels like his toes were stepped on by us winning Time's Man Of The Year. From Think Progress:

WILL: It’s about narcissism, which is why a mirror is absolutely perfect. So much of what is done on the web is people getting on there and writing their diaries as though everyone ought to care about everyone’s inner turmoils. I mean it’s extraordinary.

His words alone do not paint the full picture. Go watch the video, he is clearly fully disgusted by the fact that anyone in the traditional media would give bloggers the time of day. Well, I've got news for him. He is biting the hand that feeds him.

Newspapers are dying on the vine. They're just hemorrhaging readership, and if there is one group of people propping them up, it's bloggers. If it wasn't for bloggers commenting on the stories they publish, and driving readers to their online versions they'd be in even worse shape. Perhaps Will should ask his editor, Fred Hiatt, why he chose to run his own editorial about Iraq in today's paper rather than yesterday's Sunday edition. It's simple, Monday stories now carry more weight due to blogging.

In the money demographic, aged 25-54 only about half of Americans read a newspaper daily, so the thirteen percent that read blogs everyday represent about twenty-six percent of their readership, and the large blogs have as large a readership as a large newspaper does. They need us if they are going to survive.

We need them to, it's not like we do much actual reporting. We get our material from them, but as blogs mature that might change, and Will and the others might just be completely marginalized.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wasted Effort

Well, my shameless pandering for Time's Man Of The Year paid off, I won. So did you, unless you died this year in some God forsaken hell hole. Group fucking hug. Hooray for fucking everything! We are all so super fucking cool!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Viva Wallonia!

This is pretty damn funny. A television station in Belgium caused a major stir in the country after airing a fake news story claiming that the country had been split into two separate countries and that the king had fled the country. From MSNBC:

A commission of the Francophone parliament was set on Thursday to view RTBF’s footage which included interviews with real politicians, scenes of flag-waving Flemish crowds and reports that the king had fled the country.

RTBF shocked viewers in a country keenly aware of its linguistic and political differences. Only much later during the mock documentary did a subtitle reveal that the reports were fictional.

Belgian media reported foreign correspondents had called the prime minister’s office to confirm the news while some embassies warned their governments of developments.

I would have loved to have been there to see it.

The Mookie: Updated

As we await Bush's new pony plan for "victory" in Iraq, there have been some leaks and or trial balloons released giving me a pretty good idea for what Bush is actually going to do. In other words, Iraq is about to get a hell of a lot bloodier.

We're gonna go after Muqtada al-Sadr.

I started coming around to this line of thinking when Cheney was summoned to Saudi Arabia and al-Sadr's chief Shia rival, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was summoned to Washington for a White House visit. The extra troops are also a good hint, but Pete Schoomaker's quote in McClatchy seals it for me. From McClatchy:

A possible short-term surge of as many as 40,000 more American troops to try to secure Baghdad, along with a permanent increase in the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, which are badly strained by deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military commanders look warily at a surge, saying that even 20,000 more soldiers and Marines may not be available and wouldn't necessarily help reduce Iraq's violence.

"We would not surge without a purpose," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, said Thursday. "And that purpose should be measurable."

Measurable, huh. I'd say. It will measurably bloody that's for sure. We're talking about street to street urban warfare the likes of which some warned about before the invasion, but never really materialized because Saddam's soldiers didn't have the loyalty that al-Sadr's do. And we're going to be going into their turf against fighters who have had several month's to hone their skills with unassociated others taking pot shots at us. I not saying we won't get al-Sadr, we probably will. It is just going to come at a heavy price.

It's no wonder Bush is waiting until after the holidays to announce his latest pony plan.

After the holiday's, you are going to here al-Sadr's name mentioned by every single White House operative in every single interview. That's the last signal.

And for what? So Iran's biggest Shia ally in Southern Iraq will now hold all the cards, which they will. Call it the mega-Iran strategy.

No, so George Bush can put another head on the wall. Just like with the deck of cards or Saddam or Saddam's kids, they measure progress with "gets" like some damn talk show booking agent. Right now, al-Sadr is their fucking Oprah. Why? Because he has the most recognizable name in America. That is how this administration measures progress, the big "gets."

Sure, al-Sadr is part of the problem, but he is part of the problem because we are there. And what are we going to do after we get him and nothing changes except that al-Hakim will rush in to fill the power void giving Iran greater sway in Iraq than they already have. We're hitching our wagon to the wrong horse and in the end nothing will have changed except for a respite in the sectarian violence while they turn their attention to us.

We should at least ask Iran to knock it off with the nukes in exchange for their new found bounty. Then at least some good could come out of it.

For the record, I think this is the wrong approach. Al-Sadr is the only man in southern Iraq keeping from basically turning into a protectorate of Iran. I still think a soft partition is the only way out and we're going to have to walk because all the ponies are dead.

Update: Maybe it has already started. From Iraqslogger via TPM Muckraker:

A mysterious psychological operations campaign is underway in Iraq, with Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army as its target. In recent days, Baghdad residents report receiving phone calls that caller ID show to be originating from outside Iraq. When the phone is answered, the listener hears a recorded message from an anonymous man speaking formal Arabic. He condemns the Mahdi Army and describes how it destroys Iraqi infrastructure, including electricity. Baghdad residents are afraid to discuss details of the message over phone lines, believing them to be monitored.

Hmm...Who could be making those Robo calls?

Who You Gonna Call? Bao Xishun!

When two dolphins swallowed plastic in a Chinese zoo, they knew just what to do. They called up the world's tallest man, Bao Xishum, who could easily reach into the dolphin's stomachs and retrieve the plastic. I'm suspecting the plastic was put there by the freaking stingrays.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The US Mint has issued new regulations that authorize fines of up to $10,000 for melting down US coins. This is in reaction to pennies and nickles being currently worth more for their metal content than their face value.

That is pretty understandable, but there is a rather strange regulation thrown in as well. You can no longer leave the country with more than $5 in change. I don't know what that is about or why the amount was set at five dollars.


The jackasses over at Fox News are speculating over whether or not Senator Tim Johnson can be ruled incapacitated and replaced by South Dakota's republican Governor. From Think Progress:

KILMEADE: Steve, remember we were down this road before? If something happens that Johnson can’t continue, 50-50 with Dick Cheney breaking the tie.

DOOCY: That’s right, and you know, in the state of South Dakota, I understand there is the issue of incapacitation. It’s not spelled out in the state law, at the state level. However, the secretary of state of South Dakota says there would be a precedent at the federal level. Is that how you understand it as well Megan?

FOX ANCHOR: Yeah, indeed, there’s a big laundry list that they would have to go through in order to determine that he is incapacitated. It’s something that, ironically enough, might be weighed in on by his advisers. In other words, Sen. Harry Reid, the incoming majority leader, and Chuck Schumer, may advise him on whether he should declare his incapacity, if in fact he’s in a position where he can declare it or not. And so, we’ll have to see what happens in terms of, you know, what exactly his condition is and who’s going to weigh in on whether it should be declared an incapacitation or whether that’s just clear from the facts.

Okay, first of all, Strom Thurmond was incapacitated the last ten years of his career in the Senate. But more importantly, if we are going to talk about precedent let's look at the most relevant case. From ABC News:

In 1969, another South Dakota senator, Karl Mundt, a Republican, suffered a stroke while in office. Mundt continued to serve until the end of his term in January 1973, although he was unable to attend Senate sessions and was stripped of his committee assignments by the Senate Republican Conference in 1972.

Johnson holds the same seat that Mundt did and by all available evidence, was clearly incapacitated and finished his term. It is entirely too early to tell if Johnson will return to the Senate, and for that matter if he even wants to. These kind of events are obviously life changing.

But as far as having him declared incapacitated by anyone outside of the state of South Dakota, forget about it. And lets face it, even if he is a vegetable, he'd still be a smarter Senator than James Inhofe.

Israel Admits Having Nukes

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted on German TV that Israel has nuclear weapons. Was it intentional or a slip of the tongue or a little bit of both? Whatever it was it puts an end to the silliest international ruse ever, Israel's policy of ambiguity over whether or not they possessed such weapons.

This does however put billions of dollars in aid from the US in jeopardy because it puts Israel on the wrong side of some federal laws that prohibit aid to proliferating countries. That is, of course, in theory. As many politicians have found out in the past, you fuck with AIPAC and AIPAC fucks with you. It's a quickest way to ensure your next trip to Capital Hill involves visitor's lines.

Dead Lead

When I read this stories like this one, I don't just want to scream, I want to physically hurt someone. The Bush administration is considering rolling back environmental laws to allow once again the use of leaded gasoline.

Seriously, I'm not making this up. From the AP:

The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.

The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant, claiming that concentrations of lead in the air have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 2 1/2 decades. Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.

But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, called on the agency to "renounce this dangerous proposal immediately," because lead, a highly toxic element, can cause severe nerve damage, especially in children.

You know, I would have never guessed the population of fucktards in this country was great enough to fill the upper levels of the federal government to promote this much fucktardery.

When I read things like this, it sort of makes me hope we don't pull out of Iraq. I know some of you may think that this line of thinking makes no sense and that our soldiers will die for no reason, but there is a greater purpose at work here. Their lives will not be paid in vain, their lives will assure that these fucktards never ever in their lifetime get a chance to run the government again. It's not about Iraq, it's about the fucking planet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holy Shit! There Is A Fucking War!

According to Josh Marshall, upon emerging from the Pentagon President Bush spoke to reporters and had this to say. From TPM:

"I thank these men who wear our uniform for a very candid and fruitful discussion about how to secure this country and how to win a war that we now find ourselves in."

Jesus fucking Christ, we're now in a war? How the hell did that happen?

And this is the guy they think is going to give some amazing Churchwellian speech to rally the American people to reverse lagging support for the war. He'd better have one of those square things in the back of his jacket from the debates in 2004 that is the size of fucking car. Not gonna happen!

Ciro Wins

Run-off elections often get lost in the shuffle, but last night while you were sleeping Ciro Rodriguez knocked off Henry Bonilla in the Texas-23 US House District to become the thirty-first Democratic pick-up for the 110th Congress (Counting Bernie Sanders seat).

I didn't expect Rodriguez to win, but in the end it wasn't even close.

It Stuck

It's kind of funny how some stories have to sort of bounce around for a while before they stick. On November 29th, I wrote that Nawaf Obaid's op-ed in that day's Washington Post was a warning that Saudi Arabia would back the Sunnis in Iraq. Obaid's op-ed mostly received yawns.

Today, the New York Times runs virtually the same story and it's like, holy fucking shit! The fucking Saudis are going to back the fucking Sunnis!

It's weird how that works.

I'm Not Saying He's A Gold Digger

Evil Knievel is suing Kanye West over West's latest video. In it West recreates Knievel's famous jump over the Grand Canyon and Knievel claiming it is trademark infringement.

Who knew you trademark jackassery.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jeff Greenfield

Commentator Jeff Greenfield recently had some curious things to say about Barack Obama's attire on CNN. He went on for quite a while but I'll cut to the meatier part of it. From Talking Points Memo:

But, in the case of Obama, he may be walking around with a sartorial time bomb. Ask yourself, is there any other major public figure who dresses the way he does? Why, yes. It is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, unlike most of his predecessors, seems to have skipped through enough copies of "GQ" to find the jacket-and-no-tie look agreeable.

And maybe that's not the comparison a possible presidential contender really wants to evoke.


GREENFIELD: Now, it is one thing to have a last name that sounds like Osama and a middle name, Hussein, that is probably less than helpful. But an outfit that reminds people of a charter member of the axis of evil, why, this could leave his presidential hopes hanging by a thread. Or is that threads? -- Wolf.

A lot of people have been pushing the Osama and Hussein meme for a couple of weeks now. What the hell, might as well throw in that the crazy Iranian doesn't wear a tie as well.

What we have here is a collective groan, and that groan is the sound, and indeed the smell, of a collection of people from both sides of the aisle sitting in their own piss. It's because the guy is a winner, and pretty much everybody who has already thrown their name in the ring for the Oval Office are not. Expect more of this shit, though I doubt it will work. Not on this guy, not this time.

Monday, December 11, 2006


While these things are hardly scientific, ABC News has a poll up asking who you would vote for if the 2008 presidential election were held today. As expected, laughable candidate Duncan "Lemon Chicken" Hunter is running 20th out of twenty candidates listed. No Go Joe Biden is currently 10th, running quite a bit behind "Other." Barack Obama leads.

Fighting Them There So We Can Bring Them Here

This ought to make the wingnuts heads explode. There is a push for the United States to accept more Iraqi refugees. From The Boston Globe:

Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration, said that while the Bush administration does not think resettlement is needed for most refugees, its policy could rapidly change.

"It is quite possible that we will in time decide that because of vulnerabilities of certain populations that resettlement is the right option," Sauerbrey said. While acknowledging that the administration originally set a quota of no more than 500 Iraqi refugees, she said the president has the legal authority to admit 20,000 additional refugees.

I doubt this would ever happen, but more pressure will be applied to the US by our regional allies as they get stuck dealing with the refugee problem which should pass ten percent of the total population of Iraq in 2007 at the current rate of fleeing.

Dollar Bills

Nothing goes more to prove that all politics is local than the re-election of William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson to the US House of Representatives. Jefferson is under investigation for receiving bribes and was found to have $90,000 hidden in frozen food packages in his freezer.

How can voters send a guy like this back to Congress? Well, I'll tell you. The people of Jefferson Parish want to put one of their people into that seat. The candidate they backed in the November 7th primary didn't make it into the run-off. So, knowing that Jefferson's time in DC will most likely be cut short either by the Department of Justice or the House Ethics Committee they voted him back in to wait for an open special election which will be easier for them to win.

Wildly popular Jefferson Parish Sheriff Henry Lee led the effort and if you are unfamiliar the Louisiana's parish system, the sheriff is the most powerful person in each parish, answering only to the voters. Lee has held the spot for twenty some odd years. He has since even bragged about suppressing the votes for Karen Carter saying he told the white voters of the parish to vote for Jefferson or stay home.

The Jefferson Parish voters are reportedly interested in running state Senator Derrick Shepard when

Back In Town

Well, I made it back from Florida in one piece which given some of the vacations I've taken is a good thing indeed. The weather wasn't the most cooperative and spoiled our viewing of the shuttle launch and a fishing trip we had planned, but compared to Ohio's below freezing weather, I'll take it every day of the week.

A lot happened when I was gone and I'm still playing catch-up. Pinochet is dead, so there is one less asshole in the world. That's a good thing and I'll comment more on that later. I caught some of Bush and Blair's joint presser last week, and it is just unbelievable how big a buffoon Bush comes across as when he takes Q & A. We were actually laughing at his performance.

I did pick up The Iraq Study Group Report yesterday at the airport and I'll probably finish it tonight. Speaking of picking books up at the airport, on the way down I read The Last Templar. It was a pretty decent read, but the best part is that there is a new bookstore in the airport that buys the books they sell back so I read it on the way down and traded it in on the way back for the ISG report.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


In reading David Broder's column on all the glorious compromise in the report, I really got the impression that these guys were planning a class reunion rather than an end to the bloodshed in Iraq. Consider this quote from the Post:

"We went over the recommendations word by word until everyone was satisfied," Simpson said. "No one was trying to sneak anything in, and no one was laying traps. It was a very powerful experience."

Not like back in the day like when Vernon Jordan sent away to the printers that our prom colors were orange and fuchsia (I'm not sure fuschia existed as a color back then), or the time when we sent away for our class shirts with everybody's name on it and Lee Hamilton put dickhead in parenthesis after James Bakers name (This actually happened at my high school).


Anyway, I'm off to Florida and will be offline.

The Iraq Study Group

Well, obviously the big news story today is the release of the Iraq Study Group. On the surface it is pretty much what I expected. With so many people throwing out the need to add twenty to thirty thousand more troops, you know it was leaked from this report. Those people aren't that smart.

Everyone knew that there would also be a regional engagement part of the plan, and of course it's bi-partisan so there has to be a clap harder component. Will these things work? Probably not, We've still got a petulant child calling the shots.

It is actually coming out in hard cover, so while I'm on vacation maybe I'll see if I can find it. Then again, maybe I'll just spend the next five days eating, drinking, and going to strip clubs. Probably will be the latter.

Update: Jesus, the thing is only 160 pages, I might be able to do both.

Tracy Sabetta: Idiot

This is the reason that I refuse to vote for virtually every initiative or constitutional amendment I find on the ballot. The general public should not be in the business of making laws because usually you end up with unintended consequences due to the fact that these are always advanced by zealots who can't see past their own vision of right and wrong. From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Tracy Sabetta, head of the SmokeFree Ohio campaign, was on the phone much of Tuesday as word spread about the truck-driving provision. SmokeFree Ohio wrote the law passed by Ohio voters last month.

Sabetta said the intent is to protect employees in vehicles used by more than one person, even if different drivers use a vehicle at different times.

But Sabetta noted that enforcement is based on complaints.

"I don't think we'll see health inspectors climbing into the truck to issue a citation," she said.

Listen honey, you passed your little law, but you have zero say in how its intent is interpreted, nor how it is enforced. It is what it is. The courts and the cops get to decide that, and I doubt they give damn number one what you think.

Just so everybody knows, I'm not writing this out of bitterness because I smoke, I live in a city with smoking laws already so it really doesn't effect me. No, what peeves me here is the arrogance, though probably unintended, in thinking that if your group works to pass a law, then you somehow assume ownership of that law. Kind of like in the Spring with Ken Blackwell's TEL amendment. While it said what it said, Blackwell was telling us he meant something different. Doesn't work that way.


Apparently something other than the turkey got basted at the Cheney family Thanksgiving. Avid cock avoider Mary Cheney is pregnant. From the Washington Post:

Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay daughter, is pregnant. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, said a source close to the couple.

Ecstatic this holiday season, sad the next after leaving the tot with Dick to do some Black Friday shopping, only to return to find little more than well picked through bones.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


OK, this is pretty off topic for what I usually write about, but lately I've been hearing a lot of commercials for tire places that offer nitrogen inflation. Being the natural skeptic that I am, my first reaction was to say, "What kind of bullshit scam is this?"

Last night I looked into it and there appears to be something to it. Inflating your tires with nitrogen causes the tire to run 20% cooler than regular air giving you up to 26% more life on your tires, and the inflation generally runs around $5 a tire. Would have never guessed it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Alternate Reality

Living in an alternate universe must be catchy at the White House. From Reuters:

"Despite the support of a strong bipartisan majority of senators, Ambassador Bolton's confirmation was blocked by a Democrat filibuster, and this is a clear example of the breakdown in the Senate confirmation process," [White House Spokeswoman Dana] Perino said.

Umm, that never happened. Lincoln Chafee nixed him in committee. At least Reuters didn't challenge Perino's revision of history, we wouldn't want any truth getting out to the people in America. Best just to play stenographer.

The Company You Keep

Is George Bush the worst president ever? I happen to think so but lets take a look at what the historians think. From The Editor And Publisher:

Five op-eds in Sunday's Washington Post may set off an intriguing debate, pro and con. On the front page of the Post's Outlook section, famed Columbia University historian Eric Foner proposes George W. Bush as the worst president in our history -- and author Douglas Brinkley disagrees, but very slightly: He thinks Bush only ranks as poorly as Herbert Hoover.

Another historian, David Greenberg, believes that only Nixon was worst. Meanwhile, Michael Lind pegs Bush at #5 --from the bottom. But Vincent J. Cannato, a historian at the University of Massachusetts, cautions: "Today's pronouncements that Bush is the 'worst president ever' are too often ideology masquerading as history."

It's debatable I suppose, but I'm sure that's not the group you want to be associated with.

Give Em Hell Harry

It looks like Harry Reid will work to quash one of my fears about the next couple of years. From The Chicago Sun-Times:

Sen. Harry Reid, leading the Senate's new Democratic majority, is framing next year's schedule in a way that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for President Bush to give recess appointments to nominees blocked for confirmation.

Reid's schedule limits Senate recesses to one week. Recess appointments usually are made only when Congress has been out of session for at least 10 days. That may kill any consideration of trying to seat federal appeals court judges whose nominations had been stalled even in the Republican-controlled Senate. The downside may be a rebellion by senators if their breaks are held to one week.

The Senate might not get anything meaningful done next year, but at least they are going to show up for work and put an end to recess appointments.

Standing Up

We've heard all too often from President George Bush that we will stand down in Iraq once the Iraqi army stands up. How's that going? From the LA Times:

Instead, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's 9th Mechanized Division and their American trainers had walked into a deadly ambush Friday. From upper-story apartments, insurgents stopped the soldiers' advance with grenades and shoulder-fired rockets. Others launched coordinated mortar strikes, hitting one of two nearby Iraqi field posts.

By the time the 11-hour battle was over, one Iraqi soldier had been killed and six others wounded, including one who shot himself in the foot. A U.S. soldier was also wounded and, according to American troops interviewed, additional casualties were averted only because U.S. Apache attack helicopters were called in and American trainers shot their way out of the ambush.

"Fear took over" among the Iraqis, Staff Sgt. Michael Baxter said.

"They refused to move. We were yelling at them to move," he said. "I grabbed one guy and shoved him into a building. I was saying, 'God get me out of this, because these guys are going to get me killed.' "

The offensive was initially billed by U.S. officials in Baghdad as an Iraqi-led success and a case study in support of the Pentagon's increasing reliance on using American troops as military advisors as a way to shift security responsibilities to Iraqi soldiers.

Keep in mind that the Iraqi 9th Mechanized Division is considered the best trained and equipped division in the their army. The article even goes on to state that this division likely won't even fight against the Shia, as they are mainly compromised of Shia themselves. They can only even be used against the Sunni.

Also consider that these aren't even the guys Duncan Hunter has talked about deploying to Baghdad. The guys Hunter is talking about are at no where near this level of readiness.

Blogger Screwed-Up Today

Blogger isn't working completely today, so no links right now.

Bolton Bolting

John Bolton has resigned as ambassador to the UN. Bolton, who will never be able to be confirmed by the Senate, will step down when his term expires in January.

I'm guessing that the timing of this is so Bush can push through a recess appointment over the holidays.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent takedown of Tom Friedman and the rest of the stay the course crowd today here. It is must read material.

I'd only like to add one thing. The guys that Greenwald is talking about collectively share a trait with someone you know. It's that chump that you invite to every poker game you play because he never ever folds. You know the guy, he plays every hand to the end hoping to get wired into a nuts hand even when his cards are shit. He rarely, if ever does.

The same thing goes for all the Friedmans on Iraq, only even worse, we're only getting one card to try to make the hand, and that one card isn't even coming every deal, but rather every third. We're down $350 billion but they'll keep playing the game searching for ponies that will never come.

Changing The Course

The US State Department is floating the idea of ending the reconciliation attempt with the Sunni insurgency calling it the 80% solution because Sunnis represent 20% of the population. It's a bad idea opposed by nearly everybody including our current ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, our military leaders, and all of our allies in the region.

It would probably lead to the slaughter of several thousands of Sunnis, which of course should get the Princess of Foggy Bottom a Nobel Peace Prize.

One thing I found wildly amusing in the Washington Post article about this proposal were the word of grade A dipshit Steven Hadley. From the Post:

"There is a real sense of urgency, but there is not a sense of panic," Hadley told reporters on board Air Force One. "I think probably it's going to be weeks rather than months. It's going to be when the president is comfortable."

Bullshit. When this report drops on Wednesday, the administration is going to go batshit crazy. This administration is built solely around controlling the 24 hour news cycle. It is their greatest character flaw. It is why they skip around from crisis to crisis without ever implementing proper policy to solve anything. A lot of this is due to pure incompetence, but some of their incompetence comes from being enslaved to looking good in the 24 news cycle.
It creates a merry-go-round of retardation.

And with next Wednesday, the butcher's bill comes due. The administration will in no way be able to control any 24 hr news cycle from the time the ISG report drops until they do something, anything, to show they are changing course, and we're not talking about glossy pamphlets this time, but an actual change in policy.

This is, unfortunately, where the true danger lies. Who knows which nitwit will be the last one to get the president's ear before he freaks out about all the people around him running around with their hair on fire. One thing is for sure about whichever direction we are going to take in this war. It won't be long thought out by rational people, it will be knee jerk, and with knee jerk nine times out of ten, you get the wrong policy.

Looking For Votes In All The Wrong Places

Let me start first of all by saying that I don't dislike Joe Biden. I agree with him on probably 90% of things. I just think that he's nuts if he thinks he is ever going to be president of the United States, not Duncan Hunter nuts mind you, but nuts all the same.

A couple of days ago, I wondered aloud where Joe thought he was going to find his constituency, outside of bankers that is. Well, apparently Joe thinks he has found them. Unfortunately for Joe, their turnout for the Democratic primary is most likely suspect at best. From the Wilmington Star:

Biden told the crowd he needs the GOP and its supporters to put Nov. 7 behind them. "American needs - I need - the Republican Party to get back up," he said. "Not a single change in direction can be done without a bipartisan consensus in this country."

Biden knew it was a Republican audience, but said he wasn't surprised people lingered and listened.

"I don't find a lot of difference between Republicans and Democrats right now," Biden said.

People know the nation is "in a pretty deep hole domestically" and want to know what lawmakers and politicians are going to do about it, Biden said.

But South Carolina holds a partisan primary, notes Don Fowler, former Democratic National Committee co-chairman. "If you're running in a Democratic primary, why give your best shot to Republicans," Fowler said.

It is true that South Carolina holds an open primary that allows crossover voting, but if Joe thinks South Carolina republicans are going to cross over to vote for him, he is indeed nuts.

With the recent primary schedule, and even the tweaked one of 2008, South Carolina is the kick-off state for republicans running for president. Karl Rove most recently knew it, which was why he didn't sweat McCain in Iowa or New Hampshire. But when it came to South Carolina, the long knives came out. It might be the most crucial state in shaping who gets to be the republican nominee.

South Carolinians know this and aren't going to cross over to vote for Joe. Looks like he is wasting his time.