July 30, 2007
The producer of So You Think You Can Dance had to apologize (?!?!) for this:
Here's a thought: Why not create a law that says people who watch these shows and complain about so-called unpatriotic dances should ONLY be allowed to vote on these shows and should be banned from actual voting booths -- because obviously they are too fucking stupid to make informed decisions about the fate of this once-great nation.
Today's tasty treat is from a tribute album that shouldn't work but does: Radiodread by the Easy Star All-Stars. Tribute albums are always an iffy proposition. Novelty tribute albums are even iffier. But somehow, transforming Radiohead songs into Reggae works beautifully (not 100% of the time but I think you'll find most of this CD very enjoyable).* To listen/download Kirsty Rock's version of "Paranoid Android," click the CD cover above, mon.
*Here's one reason why it makes sense and works so well...
July 27, 2007
July 26, 2007
After two ginormous missteps (Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers), Joel and Ethan Coen are back with an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, starring Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Barry Corbin and Stephen Root. Here's how it's described by it's distributors:
"...the film simultaneously strips down the American crime drama and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines."It sure looks like a humdinger:
(Click to watch the trailer)
July 25, 2007
July 24, 2007
I'm back but I'm afraid posting will be light due to jet lag and all the catching up I have to do from only missing two days of work. Sheesh.
I was able to watch the Democratic/YouTube Debate last night on the plane (modern technology, gotta love it). Overall, I think we have a decent bunch of candidates -- certainly any of them would be better than the Republican robot candidates, even the completely unhinged Gravel. Hillary still grates on me and she's a hypocrite about the war in Iraq so it's going to be hard for me to vote for her if she gets the nod. I thought Barack did a good job but I think he's got an uphill battle to get the nomination (both his experience and race, unfortunately, will be factors). I have to admit, I was most impressed with John Edwards. If we are looking at electability, he may be our best bet. I think his contrition about supporting the war has been impressive and I think he truly cares about healthcare, poverty and education. Plus, he had the best candidate YouTube video of the night:
I'll be back when I come up for air...
July 19, 2007
"…We have people up there in Congress with the brain of a 2-year-old who don't know what they are doing, they don't experience it. I challenge the president or anyone who has us for 15 months to ride alongside me. I'll do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day. I'll do 15 more months. They don't even have to pay me extra." - Spc. Gabriel VassellReady George?
July 18, 2007
The Democrats force a serious debate about the failed war in Iraq and the fate of our soldiers and, as usual, the Republicants treat the whole thing like a joke ("I bet I can stay up longer than they can." - Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.). Mary Landrieu, D-La., schools her colleagues:
(Click to watch)
Digby has a great take on the Republicans' "Three Stooges Strategery."
July 17, 2007
July 16, 2007
Every Monday (if I'm around -- I'll be out of town next week), I'll be posting an mp3 of a song that I hold near and dear. The thought behind this is to share my musical tastes and promote artists who probably will never make it into Jann Wenner's exclusive circle jerk. It is not an attempt to screw record companies (well, what's left of them). Hopefully some of you will be encouraged to support the artists who make these wonderful songs. Here goes...
For the first mp3 monday, I've chosen Lene Lovich's "New Toy" in honor of my wife's new iPhone. Lene was born in Detroit, Michigan to a British mother and Serbian father but moved to Hull, England when her father became mentally ill. She was signed to the legendary Stiff Records in 1978 and is probably best known for her song "Lucky Number" and her cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now."
"New Toy" originally appeared on Lene's EP of the same name and can now be found on her greatest hits CD. The ridiculously catchy track was written by none other than Thomas "She Blinded Me with Science" Dolby who was a member of her touring band at the time. To hear it, click on Lene's pic above. Play it LOUD!
July 14, 2007
July 13, 2007
Confession: My wife and I enjoy any movie that features talking animals, especially talking dogs (and yes, we even enjoyed parts of Dr. Doolittle II. I know...). So, needless to say, we are thrilled about the new, live-action version of the classic cartoon, Underdog. There's only one problem (and the trailer neglects to point this out): The movie features Jim Belushi. We are not paying money to go see Jim Belushi. And yet, how does one resist the strange powers of a talking dog...
(Click to watch the Jim Belushi-free trailer)
And how can you resist a movie who's tagline is, "One nation...Under dog"?!?!?
July 12, 2007
While 1,000s are Sacrificing Their Lives in Iraq, Our Preznit Pals Around with the Press as if the World is Just One Big Joke
“Let me cut the ribbon … and then why don’t you all yell simultaneously — really loudly — and that way you might get noticed. I’ll listen, internalize, play like I’m going to answer the question and then smile at you and just say God, thanks, thanks for such a solid, sound question.”Yes, he really said that. And the press poodles lapped it up.
What a bunch of asses.
July 11, 2007
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerationsWhat can I say? These people truly are sick fucks.
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.
“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?’ ” Dr. Carmona said.
The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.
July 10, 2007
Michael Moore is mad as hell at CNN and Wolf Blitzer and wants an apology:
"Just apologize to the American people and to the families of the troops for not doing your job four years ago. We wouldn't be in this war if you had done your job. Come on. Just admit it. Just apologize to the American people." -- Michael Moore, live on The Situation RoomMichael was pissed because CNN just did a hatchet job on his new film, Sicko, declaring that Moore had "fudged the facts" so Moore pointed out that they did the same exact thing to him three years ago when he was promoting Fahrenheit 9/11 (of course, we all know that Moore was right about the war and he's still waiting for Wolf's apology).
Here's the entire CNN segment on Sicko:
For a line-by-line, detailed rebuttal of CNN's claims, go here.
July 09, 2007
The Police conquer New Jersey (but are nearly destroyed by Kanye West) as part of the 9-city Live Earth festival:
(Click to watch "Driven to Tears" & "Roxanne")
(Click to watch "Can't Stand Losing You")
(Click to watch "Message in a Bottle")
I think I liked Kanye better when he told the world that "George Bush doesn't care about black people".
Madonna reinvents "La Isla Bonita" with a lot of help from Eugene & Sergey of Gogol Bordello in London as part of the 9-city Live Earth festival:
(Click to watch)
Say what you want about Madonna's abilities as a singer, but you've got to admit the old girl knows how to put on a show.
July 08, 2007
"Courtesy" of The New York Times:
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.Amen.
Like many Americans, we have put off that conclusion, waiting for a sign that President Bush was seriously trying to dig the United States out of the disaster he created by invading Iraq without sufficient cause, in the face of global opposition, and without a plan to stabilize the country afterward.
At first, we believed that after destroying Iraq’s government, army, police and economic structures, the United States was obliged to try to accomplish some of the goals Mr. Bush claimed to be pursuing, chiefly building a stable, unified Iraq. When it became clear that the president had neither the vision nor the means to do that, we argued against setting a withdrawal date while there was still some chance to mitigate the chaos that would most likely follow.
While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs — after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.
The political leaders Washington has backed are incapable of putting national interests ahead of sectarian score settling. The security forces Washington has trained behave more like partisan militias. Additional military forces poured into the Baghdad region have failed to change anything.
Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation’s alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principles.
A majority of Americans reached these conclusions months ago. Even in politically polarized Washington, positions on the war no longer divide entirely on party lines. When Congress returns this week, extricating American troops from the war should be at the top of its agenda.
That conversation must be candid and focused. Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.
The administration, the Democratic-controlled Congress, the United Nations and America’s allies must try to mitigate those outcomes — and they may fail. But Americans must be equally honest about the fact that keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse. The nation needs a serious discussion, now, about how to accomplish a withdrawal and meet some of the big challenges that will arise.
The Mechanics of Withdrawal
The United States has about 160,000 troops and millions of tons of military gear inside Iraq. Getting that force out safely will be a formidable challenge. The main road south to Kuwait is notoriously vulnerable to roadside bomb attacks. Soldiers, weapons and vehicles will need to be deployed to secure bases while airlift and sealift operations are organized. Withdrawal routes will have to be guarded. The exit must be everything the invasion was not: based on reality and backed by adequate resources.
The United States should explore using Kurdish territory in the north of Iraq as a secure staging area. Being able to use bases and ports in Turkey would also make withdrawal faster and safer. Turkey has been an inconsistent ally in this war, but like other nations, it should realize that shouldering part of the burden of the aftermath is in its own interest.
Accomplishing all of this in less than six months is probably unrealistic. The political decision should be made, and the target date set, now.
The Fight Against Terrorists
Despite President Bush’s repeated claims, Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion, which gave it new base camps, new recruits and new prestige.
This war diverted Pentagon resources from Afghanistan, where the military had a real chance to hunt down Al Qaeda’s leaders. It alienated essential allies in the war against terrorism. It drained the strength and readiness of American troops.
And it created a new front where the United States will have to continue to battle terrorist forces and enlist local allies who reject the idea of an Iraq hijacked by international terrorists. The military will need resources and bases to stanch this self- inflicted wound for the foreseeable future.
The Question of Bases
The United States could strike an agreement with the Kurds to create those bases in northeastern Iraq. Or, the Pentagon could use its bases in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, and its large naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as staging points.
There are arguments for, and against, both options. Leaving troops in Iraq might make it too easy — and too tempting — to get drawn back into the civil war and confirm suspicions that Washington’s real goal was to secure permanent bases in Iraq. Mounting attacks from other countries could endanger those nations’ governments.
The White House should make this choice after consultation with Congress and the other countries in the region, whose opinions the Bush administration has essentially ignored. The bottom line: the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat.
The Civil War
One of Mr. Bush’s arguments against withdrawal is that it would lead to civil war. That war is raging, right now, and it may take years to burn out. Iraq may fragment into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite republics, and American troops are not going to stop that from happening.
It is possible, we suppose, that announcing a firm withdrawal date might finally focus Iraq’s political leaders and neighboring governments on reality. Ideally, it could spur Iraqi politicians to take the steps toward national reconciliation that they have endlessly discussed but refused to act on.
But it is foolish to count on that, as some Democratic proponents of withdrawal have done. The administration should use whatever leverage it gains from withdrawing to press its allies and Iraq’s neighbors to help achieve a negotiated solution.
Iraq’s leaders — knowing that they can no longer rely on the Americans to guarantee their survival — might be more open to compromise, perhaps to a Bosnian-style partition, with economic resources fairly shared but with millions of Iraqis forced to relocate. That would be better than the slow-motion ethnic and religious cleansing that has contributed to driving one in seven Iraqis from their homes.
The United States military cannot solve the problem. Congress and the White House must lead an international attempt at a negotiated outcome. To start, Washington must turn to the United Nations, which Mr. Bush spurned and ridiculed as a preface to war.
The Human Crisis
There are already nearly two million Iraqi refugees, mostly in Syria and Jordan, and nearly two million more Iraqis who have been displaced within their country. Without the active cooperation of all six countries bordering Iraq — Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria — and the help of other nations, this disaster could get worse. Beyond the suffering, massive flows of refugees — some with ethnic and political resentments — could spread Iraq’s conflict far beyond Iraq’s borders.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia must share the burden of hosting refugees. Jordan and Syria, now nearly overwhelmed with refugees, need more international help. That, of course, means money. The nations of Europe and Asia have a stake and should contribute. The United States will have to pay a large share of the costs, but should also lead international efforts, perhaps a donors’ conference, to raise money for the refugee crisis.
Washington also has to mend fences with allies. There are new governments in Britain, France and Germany that did not participate in the fight over starting this war and are eager to get beyond it. But that will still require a measure of humility and a commitment to multilateral action that this administration has never shown. And, however angry they were with President Bush for creating this mess, those nations should see that they cannot walk away from the consequences. To put it baldly, terrorism and oil make it impossible to ignore.
The United States has the greatest responsibilities, including the admission of many more refugees for permanent resettlement. The most compelling obligation is to the tens of thousands of Iraqis of courage and good will — translators, embassy employees, reconstruction workers — whose lives will be in danger because they believed the promises and cooperated with the Americans.
One of the trickiest tasks will be avoiding excessive meddling in Iraq by its neighbors — America’s friends as well as its adversaries.
Just as Iran should come under international pressure to allow Shiites in southern Iraq to develop their own independent future, Washington must help persuade Sunni powers like Syria not to intervene on behalf of Sunni Iraqis. Turkey must be kept from sending troops into Kurdish territories.
For this effort to have any remote chance, Mr. Bush must drop his resistance to talking with both Iran and Syria. Britain, France, Russia, China and other nations with influence have a responsibility to help. Civil war in Iraq is a threat to everyone, especially if it spills across Iraq’s borders.
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used demagoguery and fear to quell Americans’ demands for an end to this war. They say withdrawing will create bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. Actually, all of that has already happened — the result of this unnecessary invasion and the incompetent management of this war.
This country faces a choice. We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.
July 07, 2007
From the AP:
Bush rips Democratic lawmakers' failuresIt's time to Expose the Obstructionists. Please sign the petition.President Bush accused Democratic lawmakers on Saturday of being unable to live up to their duties, citing Congress' inability to pass legislation to fund the federal government.
"Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "This moment is a test."
The White House has said the failure of a broad immigration overhaul was proof that Democratic-controlled Capitol Hill cannot take on major issues. "We saw this with immigration, and we're seeing it with some other issues where Congress is having an inability to take on major challenges," said spokesman Tony Fratto.
The main reason the immigration measure died, however, was staunch opposition from Bush's own base — conservatives. The president could not turn around members of his own party despite weeks of intense effort...
"Democrats have a chance to prove they are for open and transparent government by working to complete each spending bill independently and on time," Bush said. "I urge Democrats in Congress to step forward now and pass these bills one at a time. "
Democratic leaders say they are behind because an emergency spending measure funding the war in Iraq came first. They also had to pass an omnibus measure cleaning up last year's appropriations mess. Then, the Republicans who then controlled Congress failed to pass into law a single spending bill for domestic agencies save the Homeland Security Department — a situation that brought little complaint from Bush.
With the Senate and House now in Democratic hands, this year's bills are producing skirmishes with the White House that also are causing delays. Almost every domestic bill already has attracted a veto threat because it exceeds Bush's proposed budget in certain areas.
July 06, 2007
Finally, someone who matters gets it 100% right. Gen. William Odom* weighs in on the Iraq War:
Every step the Democrats in Congress have taken to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has failed. Time and again, President Bush beats them into submission with charges of failing to "support the troops."(h/t AMERICAblog)
Why do the Democrats allow this to happen? Because they let the president define what "supporting the troops" means. His definition is brutally misleading. Consider what his policies are doing to the troops.
No U.S. forces have ever been compelled to stay in sustained combat conditions for as long as the Army units have in Iraq. In World War II, soldiers were considered combat-exhausted after about 180 days in the line. They were withdrawn for rest periods. Moreover, for weeks at a time, large sectors of the front were quiet, giving them time for both physical and psychological rehabilitation. During some periods of the Korean War, units had to fight steadily for fairly long periods but not for a year at a time. In Vietnam, tours were one year in length, and combat was intermittent with significant break periods.
In Iraq, combat units take over an area of operations and patrol it daily, making soldiers face the prospect of death from an IED or small arms fire or mortar fire several hours each day. Day in and day out for a full year, with only a single two-week break, they confront the prospect of death, losing limbs or eyes, or suffering other serious wounds. Although total losses in Iraq have been relatively small compared to most previous conflicts, the individual soldier is risking death or serious injury day after day for a year. The impact on the psyche accumulates, eventually producing what is now called "post-traumatic stress disorders." In other words, they are combat-exhausted to the point of losing effectiveness. The occasional willful killing of civilians in a few cases is probably indicative of such loss of effectiveness. These incidents don't seem to occur during the first half of a unit's deployment in Iraq.
After the first year, following a few months back home, these same soldiers are sent back for a second year, then a third year, and now, many are facing a fourth deployment! Little wonder more and more soldiers and veterans are psychologically disabled.
And the damage is not just to enlisted soldiers. Many officers are suffering serious post-traumatic stress disorders but are hesitant to report it – with good reason. An officer who needs psychiatric care and lets it appear on his medical records has most probably ended his career. He will be considered not sufficiently stable to lead troops. Thus officers are strongly inclined to avoid treatment and to hide their problems...
If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing President Bush to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs – on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq...
The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.
To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.
The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.
*Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
July 05, 2007
"If he continues to obstruct justice and disregard the rule of law, Congress has no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings against him."
Sign MoveOn.org's petition to make Congress force Dick Cheney to respond to its subpoenas.
UPDATE: There's another petition (and, sorry Robert Greenwald, a horrible video) over here.