February 26, 2007
As usual, the Academy Awards were a huge bore. Ellen was, um, okay but a bit too mellow and casual for my taste. The best catty critique of Ellen, so far:
"It appears that hosting daytime TV, in some cases, retards the part of the brain responsible for selecting eveningwear. It was a relief when Ellen changed, midway through, into a slightly more upscale, all white, Usher-esque ensemble, but her third and final outfit of the evening looked like she'd bribed it off of one of the busboys at Musso & Frank's. With bigger mutton chops, she'd have been a dead ringer for Isaac from "The Love Boat."For me, the only real highlights were Alan Arkin's upset win, Al Gore-a-mania and the Will Ferrell-Jack Black-John C. Reilly musical number:
There seemed to be a subtle social-consciousness-boosting leitmotif suggesting that the night was occupied by Jodie Foster's army, and Thesbians were this year's minority elect.
But I don't care if you're male, female, gay, straight, all or none of the above: While getting dressed to host the Oscars, ask yourself: "Can I wear this to go bowling?" If the answer is yes, then you're much too comfortable and must change."
P.S. - How fixed are these award shows? Old friends of Scorcese's, Coppola, Lucas and Spielberg, just happened to be chosen to announce the Best Director award? C'mon...
Update: For a wonderfully snarky, pictorial recap of the show, go over to fourfour and say hi.
February 23, 2007
February 19, 2007
Three climbers who tumbled off a ledge on Mount Hood were taken away in an ambulance after they hiked down much of the state's highest peak with their rescuers — and a dog who may have saved their lives.
"We're soaking wet and freezing," said one of two rescued women as she walked from a tracked snow vehicle to an ambulance...
Rescuers using an electronic locating device found the three climbers and their black Labrador, Velvet, on Monday morning in the White River Canyon, where they had holed up overnight at about 7,400 feet, officials said. The crew hiked with them down the east flank of the 11,239-foot mountain; on the way down, the climbers got into a tracked snow vehicle that took them to the ambulance.
"The dog probably saved their lives" by lying across them during the cold night, said Erik Brom, a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team. He described the wind in the canyon as "hellacious."
February 18, 2007
It ain't pretty. But it's pretty dillusional. Here's Holy Joe on February 16th:
"Even as our troops have begun to take Baghdad back step-by-step, there are many in this Congress who have nevertheless already reached a conclusion about the futility of America’s cause there, and declared their intention to put an end to this mission not with one direct attempt to cutoff funds, but step by political step. No matter what the rhetoric of this resolution, that is the reality of the moment. This non-binding measure before us is a first step toward a constitutional crisis that we can and must avoid."
And here's the reality on the ground today:
Militants struck back Sunday in their first major blow against a U.S.-led security clampdown in Baghdad with car bombings that killed at least 63 people, left scores injured and sent a grim message to officials boasting that extremist factions were on the run.Man, reality sucks.
The attacks in mostly Shiite areas — twin explosions in an open-air market that claimed 62 lives and a third blast that killed one — were a sobering reminder of the challenges confronting any effort to rattle the well-armed and well-hidden insurgents.
Instead, it was the Iraqi commanders of the security sweep feeling the sting.
The unofficial theme song for Bush supporters everywhere:
Excerpted lyrics from Tom Waits' "Lie to Me" (available on Orphans):
Let me be your baby, I know that I can
Slap me baby
Give me all of your grief
I have no use for the truth
(You got to) Lie to me baby
(You got to) Lie to me baby
(You got to) Lie to me baby
(You got to) Lie to me baby
While the Republicants shamelessly tried to argue yesterday that Democrats don't support the troops with comments like this one:
“We want a debate about Iraq that includes funding for the troops,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. “They’ve denounced the surge. The question is, are they going to fund the troops?”...they conveniently ignored the fact that it is they, the people in charge during the majority of this war, not the Democrats, who have underfunded our troops:
"After General Pace rendered inoperative the first official rationale for last Sunday’s E.F.P. (explosively formed penetrators) briefing, President Bush had to find a new explanation for his sudden focus on the Iranian explosives. That’s why he said at Wednesday’s news conference that it no longer mattered whether the Iranian government (as opposed to black marketeers or freelance thugs) had supplied these weapons to Iraqi killers. “What matters is, is that they’re there,” he said. The real point of hyping this inexact intelligence was to justify why he had to take urgent action now, no matter what the E.F.P.’s provenance: “My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we’re going to do something about it, pure and simple.”I bet our troops can't wait for war with Iran.
Darn right! But if the administration has warned about these weapons twice in the past 18 months (and had known “that they’re there,” we now know, since 2003), why is Mr. Bush just stepping up to that job at this late date? Embarrassingly enough, The Washington Post reported on its front page last Monday — the same front page with news of the Baghdad E.F.P. briefing — that there is now a shortfall of “thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs.” Worse, the full armor upgrade “is not scheduled to be completed until this summer.” So Mr. Bush’s idea of doing something about it, “pure and simple” is itself a lie, since he is doing something about it only after he has knowingly sent a new round of underarmored American troops into battle. "
February 16, 2007
February 15, 2007
"No matter how many times his plans have failed, you have to give his latest Iraq plan a chance to work. It's sort of like having your mom insist that you hire your just-released-from-prison pyromaniac brother to work in your fireworks factory. See, just because he burned down three houses and two giant warehouses doesn't mean he'll do it again. Give him a chance."There's more and it gets ugly. And, once again, it's NSFW if you read it out loud...
February 14, 2007
February 13, 2007
Representative Jerrold Nadler, of New York's 8th Congressional District (my 'hood, The Fightin' 8th!) had this to say today on the floor of the House:
Madame Speaker, I rise to support this resolution and to call upon my colleagues to make a commitment to protect our troops and to bring them home as quickly and safely as possible.
The Iraq War is President Bush's war. The President deceived the American people and Members of Congress when he made the case for war. Every reason we were given for invading Iraq was false. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Not there. Saddam Hussein working hand-in-glove with Al Qaeda? Not true. And the more information that leaks out, the more apparent it becomes that these were not mistakes, but deliberate lies.
I ask you: if the President had gone to the American people and said we must invade a country that poses no imminent threat to us, and sacrifice thousands of lives in order to create a democratic government in Iraq, would we have assented? I think not.
And as the President now says to us that we should continue indefinitely to expend American blood and treasure to support one side in a sectarian civil war, should Congress continue to consent? I think not.
We need to say "Enough already!" Enough with the lies, and the deceit and the evasions! Enough with the useless bloodshed. We must protect our troops and ensure their safety while they are in Iraq. But we must not send more troops there to intervene in a civil war whose outcome we cannot determine. And we should set a swift timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq, and let the contending Iraqi factions know that we will not continue to expend American blood and treasure to referee their civil war. Only if faced with the reality of imminent withdrawal of American troops might the Iraqis strike a deal with each other, and end the civil war.
We know that the Administration has botched the handling of this war; they stood by as Baghdad was looted, they failed to guard ammunition depots, they disbanded the Iraqi army, they crippled the government by firing all the competent civil servants in the name of de-Baathification. And they wasted countless billions of dollars on private contractors and on G-d only-knows-what, with no accounting.
And all this while they continue to deny resources to the real war on the terrorists. They let Osama bin Laden escape. They allowed the Taliban to recover and reconquer. They allow our ports to remain unprotected from uninspected shipping containers. And they let loose nuclear materials remain unaccounted for, waiting to be smuggled to Al Qaeda to be made into nuclear weapons.
And why does the President want more troops in Iraq? To expand our role from fighting Sunni insurgents to fighting the Shiite militias too. Of course, when we attack the Shiite militias, they will respond by shifting their targets from Sunnis to American troops. American casualties will skyrocket, and we will be fighting two insurgencies instead of one.
I believe the President has no real plan other than not to "lose Iraq" on his watch, and to hand over the whole mess to his successor two years from now. He will ignore anything Congress does that doesn't have the force of law.
That is why this resolution must be only the first step.
In the Supplemental Budget we will consider next month, we should exercise the only real power we have - the Congressional power of the purse. We will not cut off the funds, and leave our troops defenseless before the enemy, as the demagogues would imply, but we should limit the use of the funds we provide to protecting the troops while they are in Iraq and to withdrawing them on a timetable mandated in the law. We should provide funds to rebuild the army and to raise our readiness levels, for diplomatic conferences in case there is any possibility of negotiating an end to the Iraqi civil war, and for economic reconstruction assistance, but above all, we must use the power of the purse to mandate a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq.
We must use the power the people have entrusted to us. The best way to protect our troops is to withdraw them from the middle of a civil war they cannot win, and that is not our fight.
I know that, if we withdraw the troops, the civil war may continue and could get worse. But this is probably inevitable, no matter how long our troops remain. And if the Iraqis must fight a civil war, I would rather they fight it without 20,000 more Americans dying.
Yes, the blindness of the Administration is largely to blame for starting the civil war in Iraq, but we cannot end it. Only the Iraqis can settle their civil war. We can only make it worse, and waste our blood and treasure pointlessly.
So let us pass this resolution, and then let us lead this country out of the morass in Iraq, so that we can devote our resources to protecting ourselves from the terrorists and to improving the lives of our people.
February 12, 2007
Jeez, what the hell were they thinking?!?
(Click anywhere above for more)
My wife and I watched Obama on 60 Minutes last night and we couldn't have been more impressed with his cleanliness and articulateness. But seriously, if you missed the interview, you can watch it over here. I actually think, despite the stupidity of many Americans, that he has a shot -- and if not Prez this time out, how 'bout a Gore/Obama ticket? (I'm thinking that would make for a nice 16 year plan.)
As a result, thousands of Americans and Iranians may have just been condemned to death:
Source: Juan Cole
This NYT article depends on unnamed USG sources who alleged that 25 percent of US military deaths and woundings in Iraq in October-December of 2006 were from explosively formed penetrator bombs fashioned in Iran and given to Shiite militias:"In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say."This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.--and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in "East Baghdad" and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops...
February 10, 2007
It may be too late to save Jim Samples' job, but you can help save Boston from those nasty little Mooninite devices! Click the pic below, listen to the soothing sounds of Boston's "More Than a Feeling" at high speed and destroy the Lite Brite creations before they taunt you by shouting things like "Lobsta Roll," "Bill Buckna" and "Chowda"!!!
February 09, 2007
"Come on guys, you all know you smell like boogers. Come over here and smell like sugar."
I had no idea that boogers smelled.
From Rising Hegemon:
"If you're like me, and I know I am, you'll never remember where you were when you found out Anna Nicole Smith died. In fact, soon you will likely forget she died, or even lived. Though, I'm sure that no CNN viewer will ever forgive the network for their insane coverage of her death, it was as manic as their coverage of Henry Kissinger's death. Oh, sorry, wishes got ahead of reality there. Hours and hours of consecutive coverage on the death of a person that, if you're like me, had absolutely no effect upon your life or culture, other than being the perfect vapid reflection of it.Apparently the only person with a sense of proportion at CNN is Jack Cafferty:
As another half-dozen American soldiers died, almost unmentioned, as another hundred million went down the rat-hole of inevitable failure; CNN was there to comfort us as a nation, to allow us to feel our palpable sense of non-loss. Never has so much been made over something so little. I'm just glad that Wolf Blitzer was there to tell me that I am shocked and dismayed. Larry King was on to dot-dot-dot her life and eulogize her in a manner befitting a Pope.
In fact, thanks to CNN, I know that being shocked and dismayed is akin to deep feelings of annoyance. Because during the non-stop coverage of the event I was pretty sure that I was incredibly annoyed throughout. But no, Wolf told me that I was shocked and dismayed. I await Chris Matthews breathless malaprops during the "modest" State Funeral.
Why I haven't been so shocked since Charo or Rockwell died.
I shudder to think what CNN will be like when Carrot-Top leaves our mortal coil.
Um, Wikipedia informs me that both Charo and Rockwell are still alive, though I still don't know who is watchin' the latter, perhaps the IRS?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, we're going to -- updating our viewers coming up shortly on...
CAFFERTY: I can't wait for that.
BLITZER: ... the mysterious circumstances surrounding that, Jack. Thank you.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force vs. 24
Update: Well this is messed up. It looks like Jack "won" after all:
The head of the Cartoon Network resigned Friday following a marketing stunt that caused a security scare in Boston.
The announcement about Jim Samples resigning was made in an internal memo sent to Cartoon Network staffers.
In a statement to employees, Samples said he regrets the stir that the stunt caused.
"It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages," Samples said.
Samples said he felt "compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch."
A replacement for Samples, who had been with the company for 13 years, was not immediately announced.
February 08, 2007
That would be our government, led by this guy:
who then gave a medal to this guy:
who's responsible for losing at least $8.8 billion of it.
Please tell me that impeachment proceedings will be beginning shortly.
(For a great summary of Bush's impeachable offenses, go here.)
February 07, 2007
February 06, 2007
Judi, 52, insisted that when her hubby takes the plunge, she won't mind playing second fiddle to his political ambitions - and she revealed the famously tough-as-nails former mayor's sensitive side.Unless, of course, by change you mean annulling your first marriage to your second cousin in order to change partners then divorce your second wife (and mother of your two children) in order to change partners so you can shack up with the divorced nurse you were having an affair with.
"I've always liked strong, macho men, and Rudy - I'm not saying this because he's my husband - is one of the smartest people on the planet," gushed the former Judith Nathan to Harper's Bazaar in editions due out Feb. 20.
"What people don't know is that Rudy's a very, very romantic guy. We love watching 'Sleepless in Seattle.' Can you imagine my big testosterone-factor husband doing that?"
Describing Rudy, a former federal prosecutor, as "the Energizer Bunny with no rechargeable batteries," Judi said, "One of the most remarkable things about my husband, who sleeps three or four hours a night, is his energy level and stamina.
"I truly believe that one of the keys to a successful marriage is not trying to change your partner..."
February 05, 2007
via The Huffington Post:
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got very different receptions from the crowd at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting, where all of the party's presidential candidates spoke.ANYBODY but Hillary (and get this: Nader is threatening to run in '08 if "panderer and flatterer" Hillary is the Democratic nominee).
Obama and the crowd exchanged "I love you"s and other endearments as he took the stage. And through the whole of his speech, the audience chanted, "You can do it!"
Clinton's welcome was not just less enthusiastic, but hostile -- and though there seemed to be almost as many Clinton placards as there were people in the room, catcalls drowned out any roars of approval from her cheering section as she began to speak. In reaction to a claim that she had been a tough critic of the war, someone in the crowd shouted, "NOT!'' Code Pink protesters repeatedly interrupted her, yelling, "Stop funding war!'' and one Army vet kept calling, "How about bringing them home, Hillary?'' Definitely, the applause at the end of her address was much louder than when she'd started - which, as her campaign sees it, is how all of America will react once they get to know her. Unless, you know, they already did that.
February 04, 2007
February 03, 2007
Maureen Dowd (rightly, I'm afraid) concludes there's No Way Out of Iraq:
In the 2004 National Intelligence Estimate, civil war was a worst-case scenario. In the 2007 one, Iraq has zoomed past civil war to hell: “The Intelligence Community judges that the term ‘civil war’ does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence.”
As John McLaughlin, the former acting director of central intelligence, told The Times’s Mark Mazzetti: “Civil war is checkers. This is chess.”
Far from Dick Cheney’s claim of “enormous successes” and Gen. George Casey’s claim of “slow progress,” the report shows that any path the U.S. takes in Iraq could lead to a river of blood. It says that in the absence of any strong Sunni and Shiite leaders who can control their groups, prospects are dim for a cohesive government, much less a democracy.
If the violence gets worse, the report concludes, three sulfurous possibilities loom: chaos leading to partition, the emergence of a Shiite strongman, or anarchy “mixing extreme ethnosectarian violence with debilitating intragroup clashes.”
So after four years of war, we get to choose between chaos, another Saddam or anarchy. Good work, W. And at such bargain prices; the administration is breaking the record for the military budget, asking for $100 billion or so for Iraq and Afghanistan this year and more than $140 billion for 2008...
It’s official. We’re in a cycle of violence so complex and awful that withdrawing American troops will make it worse and keeping American troops there may also make it worse.
February 02, 2007
Not a lot was made of the fact that The Man Who Would Be King failed to mention Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding of the gulf even once during his most recent State of the Union address (except in the magical world of Blogland and the alternative media of course).
Fortunately, there are some folks, working more or less in the mainstream, who do give a damn about the victims of Katrina, among them the folks behind Boston Legal and Elvis Costello. Click the following two pics to watch Alan Shore (played by James Spader) defend a doctor accused of murder for euthanizing five Katrina patients who were dying of dehydration and Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint perform "Broken Promise Land" from their DVD Hot As A Pistol, Keen As A Blade:
February 01, 2007
We've lost one of the great ones. Here's Molly Ivins' last column entitled Stand Up Against the Surge:
The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever. People have done dumber things. What were they thinking when they bought into the Bay of Pigs fiasco? How dumb was the Egypt-Suez war? How massively stupid was the entire war in Vietnam? Even at that, the challenge with this misbegotten adventure is that WE simply cannot let it continue.Update: The Rude Pundit has an excellent post on Ms. Ivins. NSFW if you read it outloud.
It is not a matter of whether we will lose or we are losing. We have lost. Gen. John P. Abizaid, until recently the senior commander in the Middle East, insists that the answer to our problems there is not military. "You have to internationalize the problem. You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically," he said.
His assessment is supported by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who only recommend releasing forces with a clear definition of the goals for the additional troops.
Bush's call for a "surge" or "escalation" also goes against the Iraq Study Group. Talk is that the White House has planned to do anything but what the group suggested after months of investigation and proposals based on much broader strategic implications.
About the only politician out there besides Bush actively calling for a surge is Sen. John McCain. In a recent opinion piece, he wrote: "The presence of additional coalition forces would allow the Iraqi government to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own -- impose its rule throughout the country. ... By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed." But with all due respect to the senator from Arizona, that ship has long since sailed.
A surge is not acceptable to the people in this country -- we have voted overwhelmingly against this war in polls (about 80 percent of the public is against escalation, and a recent Military Times poll shows only 38 percent of active military want more troops sent) and at the polls. We know this is wrong. The people understand, the people have the right to make this decision, and the people have the obligation to make sure our will is implemented.
Congress must work for the people in the resolution of this fiasco. Ted Kennedy's proposal to control the money and tighten oversight is a welcome first step. And if Republicans want to continue to rubber-stamp this administration's idiotic "plans" and go against the will of the people, they should be thrown out as soon as possible, to join their recent colleagues.
Anyone who wants to talk knowledgably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone." It’s like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?
As The Washington Post's review notes, Chandrasekaran's book "methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq's fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis."
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"
Well, at least Boston's police department and mayor have:
Some Guy with a Website sets the record straight:
A furious Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino vowed yesterday to throw the book at the masterminds behind a guerrilla marketing campaign gone amok that plunged the city into bomb-scare pandemonium and blew nearly $1 million in police overtime and other costs...
"This is outrageous activity to get publicity for a failing show," said Menino, referring to the battery-operated light-up ads for the Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which sparked at least nine bomb scares in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.
Menino promised to sue Turner Broadcasting Co., the Cartoon Network's parent company, and criminally prosecute Berdovsky and anyone else responsible for the devices, and to petition the FCC to pull the network's license.
Attorney General Martha Coakley was put in charge of the case and said the companies behind the promotion would be investigated. She said the felony charge of planting a hoax device could be broad enough to allow prosecution even if the stunt's sponsors did not intend a panic.
1. Attorney General Martha Coakley needs to shut up and stop using the word "hoax." There was no hoax. Hoax implies Turner Networks and the ATHF people were trying to defraud or confuse people as to what they were doing. Hoax implies they were trying to make their signs look like bombs. They weren't. They made Lite-Brite signs of a cartoon character giving the finger.
2. It bears repeating again that Turner, and especially Berdovsky, did absolutely nothing illegal. The devices were not bombs. They did not look like bombs. They were all placed in public spaces and caused no obstruction to traffic or commerce. At most, Berdovsky is guilty of littering or illegal flyering.
3. The "devices" were placed in ten cities, and have been there for over two weeks. No other city managed to freak out and commit an entire platoon of police officers to scaring their own city claiming they might be bombs. No other mayor agreed to talk to Fox News with any statement beyond "no comment" when spending the day asking if this was a "terrorist dry run."
4. There is nothing, not a single thing, remotely suggesting that Turner or the guerilla marketing firm they hired intended to cause a public disturbance. Many have claimed the signs were "like saying 'fire' in a crowded theater." Wrong. This was like taping a picture of a fire to the wall of a theater and someone freaked out and called the fire department.
5. The FCC can't pull a private cable network's license, Mayor Hyperbole McFuckwit.
(original and photoshopped photos courtesy of BoingBoing -- i guess a cartoon finger was just too hot for TV. little green man courtesy of Atrios)