Tuesday, February 28, 2006

While Bush Fiddles ...

The genocide taking place in the Darfur has spread to Chad.

The chaos in Darfur, the war-ravaged region in Sudan where more than 200,000 civilians have been killed, has spread across the border into Chad, deepening one of the world's worst refugee crises.

Arab gunmen from Darfur have pushed across the desert and entered Chad, stealing cattle, burning crops and killing anyone who resists. The lawlessness has driven at least 20,000 Chadians from their homes, making them refugees in their own country.

The human rights abuses in Iraq and Africa expose the Right's fraudulent claim that humanitarianism is truly part of their foreign policy analysis.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cal It By Its Name ... A Human Rights Massacre

The Washington Post details the massive violence in the days following the bombing of the Shiite Muslim Shrine.

MORE THAN 1,300 KILLED ... just in Baghdad.

The disclosure of the death tolls followed accusations by the U.S. military and later Iraqi officials that the news media had exaggerated the violence between Shiites and Sunnis over the past few days.

... most of the bloodletting came at the hands of self-styled executioners.

... faces of the dead: men shot in the mouth, men shot in the head, men covered with blood, men with bindings twisted around their necks.

Muqtada Al Sadr's fingerprints are all over much of the slaughter (though given the immensity of the slaughter I'd be surprised if the Badr Brigade and official Iraqi Security forces weren't also involved).

Call it what it was ... a human rights massacre. Will any of the Shiite leaders be held responsible?

And where were the U.S. forces while this slaughter was going on? Maintaining a "low profile" or "in the barracks" as has been suggested? Who made that call?

UPDATE: Robert Reid of the Associated Press provides an analysis of the crisis in which he discusses the role played by Muqtada Al Sadr and his private militia the Mehdi Army.

In effect, al-Sadr's followers stirred up trouble, and then took credit for stopping it.

Even the Americans, who battled al-Sadr's militia in his two major uprisings, appeared unsure how to deal with the cleric. During a press conference Saturday, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said sectarian unrest provided the government with "an opportunity to get rid of the militias."

Then Lynch suggested the time was not right for a showdown and that getting rid of the militias will take "a period of time."


Bush's approval rating drops to 34%.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bill Kristol: Don't Blame Me, It Was Poor Execution

One of the major proponent's for the Iraq War was T.V. maven and Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol. Today on Fox News, Kristol decided the better part of valor was to save his own ass and throw everyone else under the train.

BILL KRISTOL: There would not be civil war if Zarqawi had not spent the last 2 1/2 years - had ex-Saddamists with him, very skillfully going on the offensive slaughtering Shia in Karbala, now blowing up the mosque.
CHRIS WALLACE: They're there. There are going to be more mosques to blow up. What do you do about the terrorists?
KRISTOL: Kill them. Defeat them.
CHRIS WALLACE: We've been trying.
KRISTOL: We've been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.
CICI CONNELLY: I think that really begs the question then: what have we been doing over there for three-plus years? You say there hasn't been a serious effort to rid that region of the terrorists. I just wonder what secretary Rumsfeld would say in response to that or all the U.S. soldiers who have been over there all this time.
KRISTOL: Secretary Rumsfeld's plan was to draw town to 30,000 troops at the end of major activities.

What a disingenuous fuck. As he knows, Rummy didn't, in fact, draw down to 30,000. Where the fuck does Kristol think the other troops were to come from? Where the fuck was he when General Shinseki was being shown the door for suggesting more troops were needed?

This is the classic case of the historical revisionism we so often see from these wrong-headed conservatives. Kristol was laughably wrong about this "adventure." He should not be let off the hook but should be treated as the town scourge on matters of foreign policy in the future.

What are the chances the traditional meeting will continue to treat Kristol as an expert on foreign policy while continuing to treat liberals, the folks who who were right on this issue, as foreign policy know nothings?

UPDATE: As Kevin Drum more succinctly notes, Kristol's lament is similar to the swan song of the old Communists: Communism didn't fail, it was never truly implemented.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Words Vs. Actions In Iraq

Desperately searching for a silver lining to the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq, much of the traditional media is heralding statements of restraint from Iraqi religious leaders.

But these same leaders have constantly given statements that the Western media has found reassuring.

It's the actions that truly count.

This report in the New York Times shines a light on the brutal reality of the actions of the Shiite militias --- militias controlled by those same men being praised as calling for restraint.

Though many Shiite leaders denounced the anti-Sunni reprisals this week, none of them chastised the Mahdi Army or called for disbanding it.

The actions of the Iraqi police also failed to inspire hope.

The attacks, mostly by Shiite militiamen, were troubling not only because they resulted in at least 170 deaths across Iraq, but also because they showed how deeply the militias have spread inside government forces. The Iraqi police, commanded by a Shiite political party, stood by as the rampage spread.

In Iraq, the words are meaningless. It's the actions that have been speaking volumes.

So what's the plan for dealing with this massive problem?

On Friday, Mr. Khalilzad, speaking to reporters, did not lay out any American plan to deal with the militias, and simply said the problem would have to be solved by the four-year Iraqi government, which has yet to be formed.

In this last case, it is inaction that is doing the talking --- and what this inaction is saying is that U.S. forces are powerless to stop the sectarian militias.

Independent Iraqi Army Battalions: From 3 to 1 to ...


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Guess Who Got Gold



Or Arakawa?

69% of Americans Are Traitors

... new Gallup poll has only 31% who believe the United States is "winning" in Iraq.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thanks, Bushie

Sisyphus In Iraq

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay "Sisyphus" Khalilzad (he a long-standing member in the neocon movement) began once again to push upon the Iraqis the notion of a non-sectarian government.

Boy, it sure didn't take long for that boulder to come crashing back down.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Al Jaafari told him to butt out, and then on Wednesday, in what might be the final blow to the hopes of non-sectarianism, the Golden Dome of the 1,200 year old Askariya Mosque in Samarra was turned to rubble.

While some bright folks have expressed optimism that the bombing could cause a backlash uniting Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds against Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq, I am not one of them.

The Shiite response has been fierce and not limited. Between 29 and 75 Sunni mosques have been destroyed, at least 3 Sunni clerics have been killed and, in Basra, 11 Sunni prisoners were pulled from their cells and executed.

This massive and fierce sectarian divide was so predictable - well, that is, if anybody had bothered to listen to the liberals protesting this war before it happened. Before the war, our doubts about the evidence of WMD and the viability of nation building in Iraq were virtually ignored by the traditional meeting.

The traditional media cannot stomach admitting that we liberals were right and now portrays the pre-war opposition as having been solely driven by hatred of Bush rather than any form of rational contemplation or logical thought.

UPDATE: It appears the Sunni mosques weren't "destroyed" but were attacked with many being taken over by Shiites.

Slippin' in Uganda

On the eve of Ugandan elections, I reflect on the disappointment that seems to occur more often than not with populists who rise to power on the promise of democracy. The addictive brew of power transforms these once good leaders into manipulators of democracy.

In Uganda, we have Yoweri Museveni. He has been in power for nearly two decades. He has at times jailed his political opponents, used the military to intimidate his opposition and has made none-too-subtle threats of societal upheaval if he were to be turned out.

In the shadow of Idi Amin, Museveni was a widely admired savior. Now he has become another cult of personality surrounded by and bound to those who use their positions in the government as an avenue to personal enrichment.

The obvious answer seems to be a recognition that mature democracies must have a mechanism by which a peaceful change of leaders occurs after a limited time.

We need more Nelson Mandelas and fewer Robert Mugabes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rush's Stank!

Lloyd Grove has this to say about Rush's break-up with Daryn Kagan:

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS First the bad news: I hear that right-wing radio guy Rush Limbaugh and CNN daytime anchor Daryn Kagan — who've been dating for nearly two years — are finally kaput. The good news, of course, is that the fabulous Kagan is back on the market.

Good news? Dude ... Kagan's forever tainted in my book. YUCK!!!

Speaking of gross Red Staters ... check out this whackjob's Contract of Wifely Expectations.


Monday, February 20, 2006

President For Sale

You too can buy your own photo prop President.

Here's the latest breaking news from the AP:

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was paid $1.2 million to organize his 2002 meeting with President Bush, but denied the money came from the Malaysian government.

Mahatir either didn't know the Indian Chiefs were getting handshakes for $25,000 or maybe he expected a lil' something more for his coin.

UPDATE: Paul Kiel at the TPM Cafe has more details regarding this stinker. Kiel also links to this insightful LA TIMES report in which an anonymous former associate of Abramoff's states that Karl Rove directly worked with Abramoff to set this meeting up.

Now For Something Completely Different ...

Check out this guy's bizarre story on how he found out that his backpack had scissors sown inside the lining.


Free To Speak Stupidly ... Well, Not For Everybody

60 Minutes did a great job last night in providing full coverage of the Danish-Muhammad Cartoon Furor.

As one interviewee wisely (IMHO) stated, free speech includes the right to speak stupidly. People then have the corresponding right to respond to hate speech and offensive speech through criticism and protest (though certainly not through violence or vandalism).

Unfortunately, the Danish government, while acting properly in not interfering with the paper's free speech rights to publish the offending cartoons, has also been reluctant to criticize the cartoons and the paper that published them.

Now today, we hear that whackjob "historian" David Irving has been sentenced to three years in prison for statements of Holocaust denial. While certainly we need to be vigilant against the contra-factual and offensive statements from guys like Irving, jailing him is inconsistent with the moral imperative of Free Speech.

The inconsistency in the treatment between the Danish cartoon publishers and the Irving statements is striking and almost certain to fuel further cries of double standards in the Muslim world.

The Muslims who have turned to violence and vandalism deserve to be criticized and should face criminal charges for their acts. Those Muslims and others who have peacefully protested and criticized deserve greater recognition. The current Danish and Austrian governments deserve criticism - one for its reluctance to denounce patently offensive speech and the other for failing to properly recognize the price for free speech is freedom for all, including the idiots like Irving.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cheney Won't Answer Question - How Much Did You Drink?

Today on Meet the Idiot, the Idiot asked Cheney Spokesperson Mary Matalin whether Cheney "literally" had one beer on the day he blasted a man in the face. True to form, Matalin went into overdrive on spin but failed to answer the question.

Did the oh-so-prosecutorial Pumpkinhead follow-up? Of course not. He wasn't interviewing a Democrat.

Editors & Publishers also has the following:

NBC News called the vice president’s office for comment four times Tuesday and Wednesday, it disclosed today, and asked whether the vice president or anyone in the hunting party had consumed any alcohol on Saturday prior to the accident. In an e-mail statement Wednesday to NBC News, the vice president’s press secretary referred NBC News to the Kenedy County Sheriff’s Department report on the incident, which said it did not believe alcohol use was a factor in the shooting.

Of course, the Barney Fifes in Kenedy County apparently did no investigation regarding alcohol use until Monday when they first asked Whittington about it. (On a bizarre sidenote, Matalin claims the Deputy who was prevented from seeing the VP on Saturday was done so for reasons of "National Security").

The E&P article also confirms a fact I thought I saw elsewhere --- Cheney fixed himself a cocktail after the accident. Who would do that? Only two answers come to mind - an Alki or a person who is looking to cover-up alcohol use before the accident.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Zen Comix nails it.

... and if you aren't reading Zen Comix regularly, you really should.

You can also find his shit featured regularly at one of my favorite sites - Comments from Left Field.

Condi's Venezuelan Democracy: Only Her Vote Counts

After working to inflame the cartoon controversy, Condi Rice is now apparently on the war path against the popularly supported and democratically elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

"The international community has just got to be much more active in supporting and defending the Venezuelan people," Rice said.

This is an amazing statement that reeks of arrogance. Rice is proposing the international community protect the Venezuelan people by working to actively undercut the person the Venezuelan people chose to lead; a person chosen via elections verified as legitimate by credible international observers. In effect, Rice is calling the Venezuelan people dumb fucks who need protection from themselves.

But, let's be clear, Rice no more cares about the majority of Venezuelans than she cares about what Michael Moore had for breakfast. The Bush's administration's policy in Latin America and the Caribbean is not about democracy or humanitarianism, it's about protecting the economic interests of international and American corporations and those foreign elites whose interests are intermingled with the corporatists.

The majority of Venezuelans understand they have a better chance of reaping some benefit from their oil reserves with Chavez than under anything Rice and Bush would ever prpose or support.

Britt Hume - Hack

I know this is an obvious point and I'm a couple of days late, but I'm still astounded by Hume's complete inability to ask the obvious follow-up questions.

When Cheney got out his desired statement that he is authorized to declassify national security information, how the hell does Hume miss the obvious follow-up:

Did you declassify Valerie Plame's identity?

Hume asked the question about alcohol but in a way that allowed Cheney to spin the "I had a beer at lunch" line. Does that mean "only one" beer or did he have a beer and then five more or a cup of beer that was being refilled repeatedly. Knowing Cheney's penchant for parsing language to an excrutiating degree, was it too hard for Hume to ask:

How much alcohol did you consume on Saturday?

Then follow-up until you had a precise answer.

CNN's Jack Cafferty got it right. Hume interviewing Cheney is like Bonnie interviewing Clyde.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Barney Fife Meets Cheney

ABC has posted the police report in PDF format. It really gives quite some insight into how the Barney Fifes of the world defer to the rich and powerful.

Even after the bizarre 14 hour delay, it doesn't appear that Cheney or anyone was asked about alcohol. Yet, the hunting accident form the police are required to fill out requires a determination as to whether alcohol was involved.

Cheney the Anti-Elitist? Not Exactly

Cheney took to the air yesterday and coincidentally he and all the usual Republican hacks had the same talking point --- this issue is more about the elitist D.C. press pool being angry that a Corpus Christi newspaper got the story first.

With Whittington's condition improving, the hillarity is apparently back on.

Cheney's cry of elitism is a gas. Let's remember that here we're dealing with a guy who hunts quail by chauffered car. He has an outfitter locate the lil' birds for him and flush them from the brush. He uses an open choke 28 gauge shotgun and, even then, he apparently isn't a very good shot.

I've also got a feeling the Cheney's "picnic" is a little different than the ones the Macswain family goes on. We don't have anyone serving us Jacima Salad under the "ancient oak" on a 50 acre private ranch. Instead, we battle the masses at the local park for our small island of free grass. We have to flick away the insects, make, pack and unpack our own food, pick off the dirt that gets on our deviled eggs (though, I must say, Mrs. Macswain makes a helluva a deviled egg using chopped olives and curry powder) and fend of the inevitable soccer balls that ceaselessly attack our drinks (and, unlike Katharine Armstrong, we're not lying when we say we're drinking Dr. Pepper).

We don't have an ambulance and doctor that follow us to the far corners of the country. Most importantly, we certainly will not be afforded a 14 hour waiting period by the police if we are ever involved in any accident that seriously injures someone.

So please ... Dick ... spare us the phony crocodile tears against elitism.

To Die For

Oliver catches the irony of sending thousands of Americans to die so that Moqtada Al Sadr can become one of, if not the most powerful person in Iraq.

The New York Times story (which Oliver links) details Al Sadr's incredible play for power. Somebody needs to tell Lesley Stahl that she missed the boat with the Chalabi rebirth story --- it is the Islamic Fundamentalists who we've enabled and emboldened in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Of course, there's also the continuing evidence of Death Squad activity to consider. The righties tell us we shouldn't be expecting to get any George Washingtons, but they failed to tell us to expect new Saddam's, just with an extreme religious twist that the chicks are sure to love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney: "I Swear Officer, I Only Had One."

Dick Cheney - he of the multiple DUIIs - admits he drank before he shot Whittington.

BUT he claims he only had one beer hours before.

Stranger and stranger.

More Evidence of Election Fraud in Haiti

Smashed Ballot Boxes Found in Haiti Dump.

Associated Press reporters saw hundreds of empty ballot boxes, at least one vote tally sheet and several empty bags — numbered and signed by the heads of polling stations — strewn across the fly-infested dump five miles north of Port-au-Prince.

The UN spokesman David Wimhurst has been saying there was no evidence of fraud. Astonishingly, we now have a complete contradiction that undercuts the UN's credibility:

Wimhurst said the ballots could have come from any of nine polling stations across the country that were ransacked on election day, forcing officials to throw out up to 35,000 votes. At least one voting center was destroyed by people tired of waiting in line, while others were destroyed by political factions, he said.

This is a much different pictuire than the one portrayed in the American media of a mostly peaceful election.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

When It Stops Being Funny

The initial spin regarding Harry Whitington's injuries were that they were superficial.

I've now heard that 10 or more of the birdshot will not be removed from his body.

Now there's this --- the BBC is reporting that Whittington has suffered a minor heart attack and is being moved back into intensive care. The report adds:

[A hospital spokesperson] said there had been an irregularity in the heartbeat of the 78-year-old, caused by a pellet lodged in his heart.

Let's hope for Mr. Whittington's speedy recovery.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Election Fraud in Haiti

Prior to the election in Haiti, we became aware of the despicable efforts by McCain's IRI (acting as a shadow agent for the Bush administration) in trying to subvert true democracy and up end the popular Lavallas party of Preval. We also learned the U.S. backed cronies running the elections were doing everything possible to minimize the Lavallas vote by placing polling stations in locations inconvenient to Lavallas voters. On election day, we saw long lines, delayed openings and stations that did not open.

It should come as no surprise that evidence of possible election fraud is now rising.

The New York Times has a piece detailing some of the evidence of possible fraud.

The peace that had prevailed in this troubled country began to unravel Sunday, when the Provisional Electoral Council failed to release final vote counts, and incomplete results suggested that Mr. Préval would not win more than 50 percent. The results contradicted unofficial vote samples taken by the Organization of American States and the National Democratic Institute.

People on the street began asking questions about the estimated 147,000 ballots that had been voided by electoral authorities as illegible and about the estimated 85,000 blank ballots in the net total of valid votes. If those votes had not been included in the total, election observers estimate, Mr. Préval would have slightly more than 51 percent of the vote.

Even more troubling questions have been raised about the missing tabulation sheets.

Anybody whoever thought McCain was sincere about campaign finance reform should be made aware of his role in Haiti's "democracy."

Poacher Cheney

Apparently Cheney was hunting illegally.

Too funny.

"Had You Been Drinking?"

Somebody finally asks the right questions: When were the local law enforcement officers notified and what did their investigation reveal?

CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports Texas authorities are complaining that the Secret Service barred them from speaking to Cheney after the incident. Kenedy County Texas Sheriffs Lt. Juan Guzman said deputies first learned of the shooting when an ambulance was called.

But the Secret Service told a different story, saying agents had informed the local sheriff of the shooting about an hour after it happened and that the vice president had been interviewed about the accident by local authorities on Sunday morning, CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante reports.

Apparently the special treatment afforded Dick in Kenedy County not only includes interviewing him the day after he shot someone but also reeling in Lt. Guzman's initial statements to the press.

Haiti: Who's Cooking Salmon?

The latest reports on the Haitian election do not sound good. The U.N. apparently fired on a crowd of Preval supporters, killing at least one.

After initial reports of exit polls and early counts made it sound like Preval was victorious by more than the "50% plus one" necessary to avoid a runoff, his percentage has gradually declined with the latest report having Preval with 48.7% of the vote --- an amazingly fortuitous number for those trying to undercut Preval.

Given the pre-election and election day shenanigans that may have disenfranchised Preval voters disproportinately, the latest reports are bringing rising claims of fraud. There are claims of tally sheets disappearing and, in fact, tally sheets with vote tabulations have been found dumped in the garbage. Disputes have erupted on the election council with claims that the head of the council was acting unilaterally and without participation of other council members. The UN is also reporting that "Doors were removed from the tabulation center to prevent electoral council lawyers huddling in private."

Approximately 6% of the ballots cast have been declared invalid. More amazing is that another 4% of the ballots have been counted as containing no vote. Are we really to believe that 1 in 20 voters made the effort to get to the poll and then did not vote on this race?

Who's cooking salmon?

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Dick Cheney to the rescue. He found a way to distract us from the Jack 'Off/Bush story.

That Harry Whittington sure is a team player ... taking the birdshot and all.

Of course, it's Whittington's fault:

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

Drip ...


The first Abramoff-Bush picture is out.

Apparently when the White House said there were no "records" of Abramoff being at the White House during this meeting, they were parsing words to mean photos (Abramoff says there's one with him and the Prez) taken by their own photographer are NOT "records."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Republicans Continue To Show Their Respect For Coretta Scott King

At the CPAC Convention (a huge Republican shindig taking place now in D.C.), Ann Coulter gave a speech stating the following:

Coulter on Muslims: "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'" (This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation.)

Coulter on killing Bill Clinton: (Responding to a question from a Catholic University student about her biggest moral or ethical dilemna) "There was one time I had a shot at Clinton. I thought 'Ann, that's not going to help your career.'"

Coulter on the Holocaust: "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and the NY Times have made submissions."

Coulter on the Supreme Court: "If we find out someone [referring to a terrorist] is going to attack the Supreme Court next week, can't we tell Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalito?"

Seen out in the hallway right after Coulter's speeech, Bill Frist was asked about her statements. Frist stated: "I wasn't there so I better not comment."

It's part of the Right's new rules of decorum. You should only disavow racist comments or hate speech made (publicly) in your presence.

Via AMERICAblog.

A Room With A View

Here's the view from Macswain International Headquarters.

Scapegoats Gone Wild!

Typically, Republicans who fuck up know the game ... take the hit, don't point upward and you and probably your family will continue to bask in the Republican's subsidization through corporate largesse.

Yet, the machine has holes. If a fallguy becomes too toxic, it becomes extremely difficult to assure him of the back-end payoff. Such appears to be the case with Michael "Heckuva Job" Brownie. He's realized that any positions he now obtains are being unusually scrutinized and that his future potential was about to take another ass-whoopin' at the hands of a new and massive effort by Senate Republicans to publicly scapegoat him beyond all repair. That was not part of the deal.

So now he's starting to talk ... first, by revealing that the Bush Administration's claim that it was surprised to learn of the NOLA levee breaks on Tuesday. Not so says Brownie, the White House knew of the breaks on early Monday. Further, he says they did nothing because Chertoff/Bush made disaster relief the step-child of the Homeland Security Department. OUCH!!!

Then we have 28 year CIA veteran Paul Pillar who - now that he's left the agency - is free to defend it without fear of retribution from his politically appointed boss. He is the scapegoat that cannot be controlled because he trult believed in his mission and isn't interested ion political payoffs. He points out the following:

Policymakers ... employed a "cherry-picking" approach that selected pieces of raw intelligence that seemed most favorable to its WMD claims and the charge of a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The White House ignored intelligence reports that said Iraq was not fertile ground for democracy and warned of a long, difficult turbulent post-invasion period that would require a Marshall Plan-type effort to restore the country's economy despite its abundant oil reserves.

Reports also predicted an occupying force would be a target of resentment and attacks including guerrilla warfare.

As to the Republican led Senate Panels that looked into the bad prewar intel, Pillar says "the method of investigation used by the panels -- essentially, asking analysts whether their arms had been twisted -- would have caught only the crudest attempts at politicization." Does anyone other than the most biased righty partisans doubt that?

Finally, the hardest scapegoat of all to control is the one facing a lengthy prison sentence. In that category we have Jack Abramoff (though he is probably a blended scapegoat given that he is also too toxic). Abramoff is now ratting out his former Republican benefactors given they haven't done enough to help save his ass from a stint of a decade (or more) in federal prison. He's spilling the beans on the President's laughable claim of not knowing Abramoff.

The wheels of the machine - a machine that has worked so well for Bush for quite some time - are coming off.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Did Dirty Dick Authorize the Plame Outing?

The media is starting to cover court papers which suggest Libby is claiming Cheney authorized release of classified info that led to Plame outing.

My question for the media ---- what took you so long to pursue this possibility?

Grammy Update - Best Peformances Ever

Usually, the Grammys involve slogging through three and a half hours of mediocre or stunningly bad performances for 2 or 3 good ones. Overall, this year's performances were the best I can recall. The people picked to perform had truly strong and gifted voices and were excellent musicians. Even the hip hop pieces - normally bogged down by the lack of a singer and real instruments - were successes with Jay Z teaming with Linkin Park and Kanye West pulling off a brash and over-the-top performance in which he teamed up with Jamie Fox as two brilliantly exaggerated drum majors.

The show lacked the awkward moments in which I typically delight but granted us one of the more bizarre moments in Grammy history --- Sly Stone actually showing up on stage sporting a silver jacket and blonde mohawk but with the body language of someone who was more like 91 years old than 61.

It's hard to pick a best performance - John Legend was jaw-droppingly good, Kanye blew the roof off and the Sly medley was mostly quite fun and well-performed. Paul McCartney started out with a snoozer but that served to contrast an awesome version of Helter Skelter (and what a brilliant decision to pick that as the oldie to play). I also enjoyed the combination of Herbie Hancock and Christina Aguilera on "A Song for You" (though no one can ever come close to the Donny Hathaway version - a Macswain ATF) and the NOLA closer, anchored by the under-recognized Allen Toussaint, was the right note on which to end.

The good performances went on and on - Coldplay delivered, as did Mariah Carey and the opener with the Gorillaz and Madonna was visually stunning.

Keith Urban was the biggest surprise to me ... I didn't realize the guy was such a talented guitarist. Following his acoustic performance by teaming him up on a Southern Rocker with Faith Hill's huge vocals was masterful. I have got to take a closer look at some of this guy's recordings.

The weakest performances --- the we-sound-like-ever-other-PopTry-band Sugarland (?) and the annoyingly mismatched performance by Maroon 5 and Ciara doing Sly's "Everyday People."

As to the actual award winners --- who cares? The voters are so conservative in their choices as to make the awards virtually meaningless. U2 winning for best album? Please. This year's U2 album isn't close to being one of their best and, in my opinion, isn't even one of the 10 best albums of the year.

Bono was right to tell Kanye that he would have to wait for his best album award, what he didn't tell him, is he'll have to wait probably about 15-20 years until he is surrounded by an aura of nostalgia. Only then will they give him the award over some more deserving youngster.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Grammy Night

Even though my favorite musicians are typically not nominated, I do try and catch the Grammys. I tend to root for the awkward moments but usually there will also be a couple of good performances.

Though not nominated for an award, I would like to highlight one of my favorite songs of the last year ... "Unplayed Piano" by Damian Rice & Lisa Hannigan. It's a beautiful song with a poignant message concerning the detention of Suu Kyi, the nonviolent leader of Myanmar's democratization movement.

Combining politics and art is tricky. If the music can't stand on its own or the lyrics are too preachy, the message is likely to be lost and the song easily dismissed. Rice & Hannigan's song is beautiful even without any knowledge of the subject matter. The lyrics are sufficiently subtle to be subject to many interpretations a listener mat draw. Once the subject matter is known, the images the lyrics create bring an emotive quality to the the problem of despotism that a more straightforward condemnation cannot bring.

Here are the lyrics:

Come and see me
Sing me to sleep
Come and free me
Hold me if i need to weep
Maybe it's not the season
Maybe it's not the year
Maybe there's no good reason
Why i'm locked up inside
Just cause they wanna hide me
The moon goes bright
The darker they make my night

Unplayed pianos
Are often by a window
In a room where nobody loved goes
She sits alone with her silent song
Somebody bring her home

Unplayed piano
Still holds a tune
Lock on the lid
In a stale, stale room
Maybe it's not that easy
Or maybe it's not that hard
Maybe they could release me
Let the people decide
I've got nothing to hide
I've done nothing wrong
So why have i been here so long?

Unplayed pianos
Are often by a window
In a room where nobody loved goes
She sits alone with her silent song
Somebody bring her home

Unplayed pianos
Are often by a window
In a room where nobody loved goes
She sits alone with her silent song
Somebody bring her home

Unplayed piano
Still holds a tune
Years pass by
In the changing of the moon

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

McCain/Bush Democracy

Haitians have to try and break-in to a polling station to try and vote.

How much you want to bet that things went a little easier for the wealthy?

Predictable: Pulling An Ohio In Haiti

Who couldn't see this coming: "Chaos, fraud claims mar Haiti election"

This is what happens when you let Bush's cronies run elections.

They have no respect for true democracy. Democracy is just a catch-phrase meant to be manipulated by today's more sophisticated despots.

UPDATE: Factesque is providing excellent coverage of today's election in Haiti.

Does Anyone Know The Rules Governing The NFL?

A friend of mine suggested that another bad call occurred in the Super Bowl when Seattle's Darrell Jackson caught a ball with his left foot inbounds and with his right foot first touching the end zone pylon and then landing out of bounds.

I didn't think the call was controversial, BUT my friend e-mailed me this ESPN article from John Clayton discussing some recent rule changes. The pertinent portion provides:

A player will be ruled in bounds if he touches the pylon at the goal line before going out of bounds. For example, a pass would be considered complete if one foot touches the pylon and the other foot is in bounds.

I'm not surprised that the average fan would be unaware of this rule, but the fact that the announcers, referees and even the replay officials (the play occurred within the last 2 minutes of a half) were also unaware is simply astounding.

I decided to double check the rule. First, I went to and found it only provides a summary of the Rules. I found that rather bizarre.

Second, I googled NFL and "official rule book" and found that Amazon sells a copy. Yet, as the one commenter who purchased the book states, the copy being sold is not complete but abridged and edited.

As it turns out, the NFL does not make its official rule book available to the public.

Why don't they?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Not A Civil War?

The New York Times details 800 deaths in Iraq "as a result of the insurgency."

... just in January of 2006.

In another piece, the New York Times reports on Shiite torture of Sunnis to counter Sunni violence against Shiites. Oddly, the headline to the piece refers to it as "Rough Justice." Isn't that what Saddam might've referred to what he was doing?

But this leads me to speculate about another issue. Last November - I believe - Condi went to Iraq and met with some Sunni leaders in Mosul. Two days later, U.S. forces raided a jail controlled by the Interior Ministry and found over 100 maltreated prisoners including many bearing signs of torture. A furor and widespread media coverage ensued with promises from the U.S. to investigate all Iraqi detention facilities.

A couple of weeks later another prison was inspected and more evidence of torture found. But since then, I have not heard a thing regarding the nationwide inspection of detention facilities.

What happened? There was an angry pushback by the SCIRI-controlled Interior Ministry and my suspicion is that this matter has become just another false start in the Bush Administration's bumbling attempts to bring a multi-sectarian government to Iraq.

Super Bowl XL: NOT One for the Ages

Defying my expectations, the great game I expected from this match-up never materialized. Neither team played well.

For all intents and purposes, the game turned on three big plays for Pittsburgh. The wounded duck Hines Ward caught near the goalline late in the first half. To his credit, Ward fought off Seattle Safety Michael Boulware for the ball. In my opinion, Boulware should have extended and batted it down rather than initially going for the interception.

Pittsburgh's second big play was Parker's long-TD run. It involved a great play call and another boner by Boulware. Pittsburgh caught Seattle in a nickel with the DBs loaded to Pittsburgh's left. They ran right and the blockers all did great work of picking up their assignments. This should then leave Parker one-on-one with the safety for whom their is no blocker. That was Boulware. The replays showed he simply ran himself out of the play. There was no head fake by Parker; just a huge whole where Boulware should have been. Parker does have underappreciated speed and he made Seattle pay.

The third play, of course, was the reverse option to Randle El on which he completed the touchdown pass to Ward. It's a paly that Pittsburgh has run before and Seattle knew it was coming somewhere in the game. The timing of the play call and the execution were excellent.

Seattle, for their part, never broke out of their funk. There were dropped passes, missed field goals, horrible punting and horrendous clock management at the end of both halves.

The Seahawks were also hampered by poor officiating. The calls that were particularly egregious were: (1) the offensive pass interference against Jackson in the end zone that negated a touchdown (if you want to know what offensive pass interference truly looks like, you just needed to see, Hines Ward, on a 3rd and 4, put his left arm & shoulder into a Seahawk defender, gave him a real shove and then turn right to make a first-down catch ... but there was no call there), (2) the holding call on Locks that negated a first-down catch by Stevens at the one or two (the replay showed not only the lack of holding but that the Pittsburgh defender was offsides), and (3) the personal foul on Haselbeck for the great tackle he made after throwing an interception (that's one of the most bizaree calls I've ever seen).

And there was more ... as Kevin Hench at Fox Sports details. The calls probably cost the 'Hawks, at least, 14 points. This may not have changed the game as those points would have necessarily caused Pittsbiurgh to play differently. Yet, they certainly robbed the fans of the exciting game that should have occurred.

Combined with the horrible officiating throughout the playoffs, the bad officiating in the Super Bowl should be a wake up call to the NFL that they really need to clean house and get some competent officials. Can Mike Carey be cloned about 15 times or was Bush against that in the State of the Union?

Finally, I'd also like to see Michaels & Madden put out to pasture. On the Hasselbeck fumble, that was correctly overturned on replay, we had to listen to Michaels bizarre commentary about Hasselbeck being down when his elbow hit the turf. In fact, he was down when his knee hit well before his elbow. It made me wonder what sport Michaels has been watching for the last few decades?

But Madden out did Michaels when, covering for another ref boner, he claimed Roethlisberger had not committed a penalty by calling a TO after the playclock went to "0". Madden bogusly claimed that it is "0" ... then a "beat" ... only then a penalty. Wow. In effect, Madden rewrote the rule book. A new playclock that runs to "-1" now needs to be installed. Bizarre.

UPDATE: More on the Refs hack-job from the Kansas City Star.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Jeebus ... How Bad Are The New Iraqi Security Forces?

This is what Bob Woodruff stated just before the attack on the vehicle in which he was riding:

"We're on patrol with the Iraqi 9th Division," Woodruff said to the camera. "There's only one mechanized division in the entire Iraqi Army. They say the insurgents are particularly afraid of this group, and they patrol up and down the main corridor north of Baghdad."

It makes you wonder if somebody was feeding these guys a load of BS that caused them to place themselves in a position of greater risk than they should have.


The Right's Bogus Claim of No Terrorist Attacks on the U.S. Since 9/11

Go to just about any righty blog around and you are bound to run into the claim that Bush is doing a great job because there have been no terrorist attacjks against the U.S. since 9/11. Well, that's just not true.

Despite all their claims about honor the victims of terrorism, the right conveniently forgets all these terrorist attacks on Americans since 9/11:

1. The American victims of the Anthrax Killer;

2. The American Victims of Sniper;

3. The Assassination of U.S. Diplomat Lawrence Foley in front of his residence in Amman, Jordan;

4. The Americans who were killed in the Bali bombing;

5. The attacks on the American Consulates in Karachi, Pakistan (June 2002) killing 12 and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Dec 2004) killing 5;

6.The bombings at three American hotels in Amman, Jordan that killed 57 people (two of the hotels Clinton prevented from being bombed during his watch);

7. The kidnapping and execution of American Paul Johnson in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and

8. The thousands of American soldiers, contractors and other citizens killed in Iraq.

Super Bowl Bet --- Take The Hawks

The Seattle Seahawks are 4 point dogs to the Steelers. I disagree with the line and think it should be a pick 'em.

So put your cash on the Sahawks and I would also make make a moneyline bet (+160) on the Seahawks to win the game outright.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU: The Bush Funk Continues

Inadvertently, Bush's State of the Union provided two great moments for liberals.

First, Bush's boner on social security gave the Democrat's a wide-open door to provide the most memorable moment of the night, a sarcastic standing ovation. It highlighted the fact that it was Democrats who saved the country from Bush's efforts to undercut social security through privatization.

Second, the arrest of Cindy Sheehan for wearing a t-shirt that said: "2,445 Dead. How Many More?" Gave her message, and the message of the devastating costs of the war in Iraq, a thousandfold coverage beyond what those messages would have received had they left her alone. It also undercut Bush's phony claim of a desire to work with others in "good will."

As for Bush's proposals, the speech was really forgettable (Bill Sher at Liberal Oasis suggests this may have been intentional). Decrying oil dependency for the fourth or fifth year in a row, suggesting a change in our nation's health coverage without any real specifics and decrying the possibility of a manimal ("human-animal hybrid") play more like empty rhetoric than awe-inspiring idealism.

Now he's hitting the road to give speeches ... but what for?

Respect Due - Coretta Scott King

Another great civil rights leader has passed. Sadly, the Right has taken to honoring Mrs. King by trying to revise her legacy as being one that was nonpolitical.

Not true. I'll honor Mrs. King, instead, by reflecting on some of her own words.

In 2003, shortly before the Invaision of Iraq, she urged world leaders to "seek peaceful alternatives to the war with Iraq." In 2004, she returned to her plea of nonviolence stating: "Peaceful ends can only be reached through peaceful means." In 2005, she continued:

"It's as if he were writing for this period," King said in a rare public appearance on what would have been her husband's 76th birthday. "Nonviolence would work today, it would work 2,000 years from now, it would work 5,000 years from now.

"If Martin's philosophy had been lived out in Iraq, we wouldn't have bin Laden," she said.

On the Rights of Lesbian and Gay People she said:

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice," she said. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people," she said. - Reuters, March 31, 1998. More on her opposition to discrimination based on sexual orientation and equal treatment of gays and lesbians.