Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blog Neglect

I've been extremely busy at work and with the wife (a teacher) and the kids at home for Spring Break.

I'll be out of town - Vegas Baby, Yeah - until Sunday. I hope to get back to 2 to 3 posts a day next Monday.

Have a fun Spring Break ---- I am.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lucky Picks LSU, Goes 4 for 4


Lucky has deservedly moved into first place after being the only participant to pick the LSU uppset over Duke and the only one to go 4 for 4 on the night.

57 Lucky (Conn.)
55 Bloominator Jr. (Conn.)
52 The Neighbor (Conn.)
49 Macswain (Duke)
48 Bearshaft (Duke) *****
48 Webhub (Conn.)
48 Beatrix (Conn.)
47 Psycho (Duke)
47 Rickster (Conn.)
46 Coffee Man (Duke) *****
46 Bloominator (Conn.) *****
42 ykwia (Conn.) *****
34 AggieLuv (Conn.) *****

***** means that participant cannot pass at least two other players and has been eliminated from any chance of placing either first or second.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Back to the Tourney!

4 great games tonight.

There's alot of speculation about LSU offing Duke. Don't believe it.

West Virginia has the best shot at an upset against Texas. Believe it.

Memphis gets upstart Bradley. Memphis will win a tight one.

THE GAME OF THE NIGHT is the finale pitting UCLA vs. Gonzaga. UCLA will win on a big play in the last 30 seconds.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Flowers to the Wake

I received a nice e-mail from a Spc. Flowers at Centcom the other day requesting I link to their website. Now I don't know if it was spam or an e-mail sent after an actual review of my blog. In any event, I googled Flowers and it turns out that he is part of a military program designed to address blogs critical of the military and to feed good news to others.

McNorton, Gehlen and Flowers seem to think there’s enough good news. In fact, they spend their days feeding stories of good news from Iraq and Afghanistan to military blogs such as MilTracker, formerly known as Camp Katrina, a site dedicated to telling the “good news about the U.S. military.”

The team also ask bloggers to link back to the CENTCOM web site, and when they run across incorrect or incomplete information in a blog entry, they provide a correction or more information. “We don’t go in there and get into a debate,” said McNorton. And they don’t go in to police the content of blogs. But they do report OPSEC (operational security) violations.

So here's my question to Spc. Flowers ... why does the military lie to us over and over again?

We heard the bogus leak that Zawahiri was killed in the Pakistani airstrike that actually killed numerous civilians including women and children (reminding me also of the premature reports of the death of Chemical Ali) and we heard the laughably low number of deaths being spun by General Casey in the days after the bombing of the Golden Mosque (lower even than the spin coming from Al Jafari out of a necessity to protect his benefactor Muqtada Al Sadr).

But today two fresh stories of the military's propensity to lie are making the rounds.

The New York Times has the latest on the military's lies and cover-up regarding the death of Pat Tillman. It's an odious tale that deserves a full reading. Here's the money quote from Tillman's grief ridden father:

All I asked for is what happened to my son, and it has been lie after lie after lie.

Then there's the latest uncovered lie which involves the possible slaughter of 15 unarmed Iraqis on November 19, 2005. The military initially reported the deaths as being the result of an insurgent's bomb. Yet, this view was contradicted by eyewitness accounts that the dead were, in fact, killed by American gunfire. These accounts were followed up by Time magazine and there are reports of a video of the aftermath. Only now - when confronted by a mountain of evidence - does the military change its story. The initial account was wrong and, the military claims, the deaths were the result of American gunfire but as "collateral damage" and not intentionally so.

But the MO always remains the same --- lie first then only give up portions of the truth once you are forced to concede.

It's sad and disappointing that as American citizens we have to wonder when, if ever, the military can be believed.

So Spc. Flowers, if you are truly interested in ending disinformation, might I suggest you spend less time fretting about lil liberal blogs and more time preventing the lies being spewed from the mouths of your bosses.

But then again, we both know you can't do that.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


46 The Neighbor (Conn.)
46 Bloominator Jr. (Conn.)
45 Lucky (Conn.)
43 Macswain (Duke)
42 Bearshaft (Duke)
42 Webhub (Conn.)
41 Psycho (Duke)
41 Rickster (Conn.)
40 Coffee Man (Duke)
40 Bloominator (Conn.)
39 Beatrix (Conn.)
36 ykwia (Conn.)
34 AggieLuv (Conn.)

In brackets is the team each has picked to win it all.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


37 Lucky
34 The Neighbor
34 Bearshaft
34 Bloominator Jr.
34 Webhub
33 Macswain
33 Psycho
33 Rickster
32 Coffee Man
32 Bloominator
31 Beatrix
28 ykwia
26 AggieLuv

Friday, March 17, 2006


25 Lucky
23 Macswain
23 Beatrix
23 Rickster
22 Coffee Man
22 Webhub
22 Bloominator
22 Bloominator Jr.
22 Bearshaft
22 The Neighbor
21 Psycho
20 AggieLuv
18 ykwia

Lucky Surges Ahead


Here's the latest:

19 Lucky
18 Macswain
18 Beatrix
18 Coffee Man
17 Webhub
17 Bloominator
17 Rickster
17 Bloominator Jr.
16 Bearshaft
16 Psycho
16 AggieLuv
16 The Neighbor

Beatrix Stumbles! March Madness Update


First-day leader, Beatrix, took it on the chin this AM, getting only one of four correct. To be fair, NOBODY picked Northwestern State to beat Iowa).

Things have tightened up. Here's the latest:

15 Macswain
15 Beatrix
15 Webhub
15 Lucky
14 Coffee Man
14 Bloominator
13 Rickster
13 Bloominator Jr.
12 Bearshaft
12 Psycho
12 AggieLuv
12 The Neighbor

March Madness Standings


14 Beatrix
13 Webhub
12 Macswain
12 Lucky
11 Bearshaft
11 Coffee Man
11 Rickster
11 Bloominator
11 Bloominator Jr.
10 Psycho
10 AggieLuv
10 The Neighbor

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pullback In Iraq Underway For 2006 Elections

With the credible reports of more than a thousand killed in the days following the bombing of the Golden Mosque and the reprisal attacks in Sadr City followed by more than 85 execution style killings in 30 hours, I've been wondering, where are the U.S. troops?

Apparently, they have done little, at least in Baghdad, to intervene in this bloodshed. Instead, I've heard reports of the U.S. maintaining a "low profile."

In fact, I believe this is indicative of a partial pullback. A plan that has been rumored for awhile which decreases the use of ground troops in favor of heavier reliance on an air war to battle the insurgency. Tristero at Hulllabaloo has an excellent breakdown of the U.S.'s shift to an Air War in Iraq.

Of course, the problems with conducting a counterinsurgency with "precision" airstrikes is that they often result in unintended civilian deaths that often include children.

But policy isn't being driven by what's in the humanitarian interests of Iraqis, it has everything to do, in my opinion, with the 2006 elections.

That means Bush must get these numbers down regardless of how many Iraqis will die and without having to acknowledge a retreat. It appears to be working. American deaths have dropped from approximately 2 a day before the bombing of the Golden Mosque to 1 a day in the few weeks since then.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Playstation 3 Won't Drop This Spring

The release date is being pushed back to November.

Who could have predicted that .... Oh yeah ... I did!

In other nerd news, a friend of mine turned me on to live365 as a great source for internet radio.

I've been loving it ... listening to Radio Free Glenside right now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Claude Allen - Thrill Seeker

You gotta love this guy!

Claude Allen, the former head of Domestic Policy in the Bush White House, gets arrested and is charged with "refund theft," and not just once but on 25 different occasions.

Now the guy makes $161,000 and is lined up to make much more - probably millions - after he completes his government fieldwork and goes into the private sector; a private sector which generously rewards those who served Republican interests while in government.

So he couldn't have been jacking this stuff for the money. It had to be the rush. Jeebus ... "Some purchases were as little as $2.50."

He was probably thinking that skydiving is for pussies, take some real risks. Or maybe its just a case of another repressed social conservative.

SPEAKING OF STUPID FED TRICKS: What's up with the Federal Prosecutors in the Moussaoui sentencing trial coaching witnesses? Don't they have a jury just itching to off the guy. Why do something stupid that puts the case at risk?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Fragile "Worldview" Of A Liberal Hawk

Okay, I'm just getting started on reading George Packer's book The Assassin's Gate (I admit I'm about 3 months behind all the cool kids on this one).

Packer, as most surely remember, was one of the "Liberal Hawks" who supported the invaision of Iraq (Packer's definition of a Liberal Hawk and distinguishing that creature from other liberals is a jumble --- but that's for another post).

What strikes me as odd in the early part of the book is this statement explaining how he shifted from being "dovish" after the Gulf War in 1991.

Still the footage of grateful Kuwaitis waving at columns of American troops streaming through the liberated capital knocked something ajar in my worldview. American soldiers were the heroes.

I immediately recalled the first-hand description of the same event given by Anthony Swofford in Jarhead.

One morning we receive a call over the radio that our battalion is in queue for the victory lap through Kuwait City ....

Our convoy rambles through the outskirts of the city, through the poor neighborhoods, where olive-skinned and overweight mothers clutch babies to their large breasts and with one hand wave Kuwaiti and American flags. Their homes are made of stone and held together, it seems through the creative manipulation of plywood and nails. The only Kuwaitis we see are these women and young children. they chant, "USA, USA," and we wave, occasionally a jarhead jumps from his truck and hugs a woman or child while one of his buddies snaps a picture. These must also have been the neighborhoods of the expatriate workers, the workers from the PI and Malaysia and India and Egypt working for cheap with limited human rights, the people whose population, before the invaision, had nearly matched that of the nationals. These Kuwaiti women with their children aren't the ones we fought for: we fought for the oil-landed families living in the palaces deep with gold, shaded by tall and courtly palm trees. These flag waving women are just like us, these women are our mothers, and those children dirty at the mouth with skinned and bloody knees, they are us and our sisters and our neighborhood friends.

Our convoy is not allowed to drive farther than this ghetto. We're turned around by MPs, stationed at checkpoints preventing us from entering the actual city, from driving through the neighborhoods where in the homes, the palaces, I imagine women and men are busy making lists of the assets and property stolen or vandalized during the Iraqi occupation, while they lived in five-star hotels in Cairo and London and Riyadh.

We turn around and pass the same women and children from earlier, and I assume they've been placed there by the Kuwaiti and U.S. governments, handed the flags, and told to stand in their gravel yards at certain hours while the U.S. troops pass, and smile and wave your flags and act happy for your freedom. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe during the occupation they stowed the U.S. flags in their kitchen cupboards, waiting for this glorious day.

In the run up to the latest Iraq war, the Liberal Hawks left a bad taste in my mouth. They chided other liberals and not on the substance of our arguments. Instead, they helped portray us as naive or simply consumed by irrational Bush hatred. Now I don't specifically recall if Packer engaged in such antics. Still it strikes me as strange that this man who is supposed to be this great and serious thinker could have his "worldview" set "ajar" by an event that may have been more theater than reality.

And it isn't like serious people don't know that the U.S. gamed other stories to support that war, e.g. the throwing-babies-from-incubators story.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mississippi - Less Damage, More Federal Aid

This should warm the hearts of Democrats - your tax money is being disproportionately sent to Mississippi as opposed to Louisiana because the former has Republican leadership and the latter Democratic.

The Washington Post has the story buried within this report.

This is the most divisive and partisan federal government that has existed in our lifetime.

Democrats need to wake the fuck up and realize there is no working with this group.

Only 3 More Days ...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

WaPo Deconstructs Body Count Controversy

Wow! Rummy and General Casey must be in shock. They've been used to using direct attacks on the media to chase it off of a story.

No more.

Tomorrow on page 1, the Washington Post has a lengthy follow-up on the body count controversy.

... and The Post has compiled a lot of evidence of a cover up.

Here's one nugget:

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari denied the account, saying Shiite-Sunni violence had claimed 379 lives in the week following the attack on the shrine. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander in Iraq, called The Post's report exaggerated and inaccurate. An e-mail sent to U.S. military officials this week seeking updated casualty figures went unanswered.

But during the past week, various government ministries declined to give a breakdown of the 379 total, or said they were unable to, and several inconsistencies in their accounts appeared to call the government's tally into question.

But read the whole thing.

We Don't Do Body Counts!

Alternatively titled ... "The Death of Humanitarianism."

The latest strategy of the Bush Administration in Iraq is not to confront the reality on the ground, but to simply engage in a large-scale PR campaign claiming the reported violence is "exaggerated," blame the media for mentioning the phrase "civil war" and to argue things are actually going pretty well. To this end, we have seen, over the last few days, press conferences by General Casey and Rummy and we saw General Pace appearing on the Sunday shows.

In my view, their spin actually undercuts the cause of humanitarianism. This is exemplified by the dispute over the number of deaths that occurred in the days following the bombing of the Shiite Shrine in Samarra.

As most are aware, the Washington Post reported that the death toll from violence in Iraq in the days following the bombing exceeded 1,000. The Post sourced its story from "morgue officials" who said "they logged more than 1,300 dead" and the Statistics Department of the Iraqi police that "put the nationwide toll at 1,020 since Wednesday [while acknowledging] that figure was based on paperwork that is sometimes delayed before reaching police headquarters."

So did our leaders - who now claim to be championing the cause of humanitarianism in Iraq - demand accountability of those who were committing these acts? Did they lash out at the Mahdi Army, the Badr Brigade or the Iraqi Security forces who are purported to have participated or to have stood by while the violence ensued as they lashed out against Syria regarding the Hariri assassination? Did they explain why U.S. forces were either unwilling or unable to stop the violence?

Of course not. Rather than attack the perpetrators of the violence, our leaders aimed their criticism at the media. They chastised discussions about a "civil war" ignoring that both Khalilzad and Negroponte openly discussed the possibility. They claimed that the death toll was an "exaggeration" and the number was really around 220. Sadly, this number was immediately exposed as bogus when Iraqi PM Ibrahim Al Jafari decided to push his own low number of 379. Jafari's number is suspect given his history of covering for Shiite violence and since he is beholden to Muqtada Al Sadr, the prime suspect of human rights violatrions in this instance, for Jafari's position as PM.

The Washington Post then did a follow-up piece noting the challenges to the number and providing a third source - the Interior Ministry's statistics department that put the number at 1,077. The Post also reported that morgue officials "have come under pressure not to investigate the soaring number of apparent cases of execution and torture in the country." Coincidentally, the Guardian did a report on "Faik Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, [who, according to the outgoing head of the UN human rights office in Iraq] fled Iraq in fear of his life after reporting that more than 7,000 people have been killed by death squads in recent months."

The Washington Post then provided a fourth source for the number exceeding 1,000.

An international official in Baghdad who is familiar with the tabulation of the death toll said Thursday that roughly 1,000 people were killed between the day of the bombing and Monday, when the government lifted a curfew imposed to stem the violence.

The international official, who spoke on condition he not be identified further, said the figure came from morgue officials and others before the government announced a much lower toll.

He said morgue officials and others acceded to the reduced official count because they feared the militias, the death squads and the government. "They're afraid," the official said.

And The Post continues to stand by its reporting.

So do our leaders pay this evidence any heed? Demand an investigation of human rights abuses or on threats being made against those who would speak up about such things? No. Instead, we get General Casey who claims the deaths are "estimated" at 350 (notice the nice out he leaves himself) which is then echoed by Rummy.

Yet, the claims of "exaggerations" about the actual conditions in Iraq further had the whiff of bullshit when they were so closely followed by many more execution-style deaths including the death by sniper of the General in charge of security in Baghdad and reports just from today of:

The discovery of 18 dead men who had been garroted and left in or around a minibus.

The discovery of 2 dead men in East Baghdad who had been tied up and shot.

4 other men discovered strangled.

A man pulled from the trunk of a car and shot to death in the street in front of an Iraqi patrol.

The abduction of 50 workers from a security firm in Baghdad located close to the Green Zone who were taken by gunmen dressed in the uniforms of Interior Ministry commandos.

Downplaying this violence and ignoring threats against those who report it does not further the cause of humanitarianism. Acknowledging these incidents and demanding accountability from all the perpetrators of such acts is what is necessary. This is just a further chapter exposing the fact that this war never really was about humanitarianism for the Bush administration or the right at large.

From a macro prospective, one must wonder whether viable humanitarianism as a part of American foreign policy - something I and, I believe, most liberals truly believe in - has suffered a staggering blow because of this war. I believe we are once again in a 1994, post-Somalia mind frame where future humantarian efforts (like those that would have assisted Rwanda or were effective in Bosnia and Kosovo) are unlikely to be called for by our leaders or the media. Just look at the Darfur.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pop Quiz For Conservatives On Abortion

In the spirit of the unveiling of South Dakota's new state logo, I posed some questions to my rightwing, pro-life friend Jerry Pat Doberson. He was kind enough to provide candid answers.

Question No. 1: You're in a building that is being engulfed in flames. You can only escape safely by exiting through a wing on either your right and left. If you go right, you can also save a petri dish with five blastula. If you go left, you can save a two-year old girl. You can't do both. Which way do you go?

Macswain, we on the right are not idiots. We can do rithmetic and we certainly know that 5 lives are greater than 1. Please stop with the trick questions.

Question No. 2: Do you believe In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) should be legal?

Quit trying to portray us as medieval. Of course, we believe in In Vito fertilization. We just don't believe in destroying the extra eggs ... duh. We have been more than willing to stand up on this issue and preserve these poor darlings in our own freezers. Though for any of you other conservatives, I propose we lobby for legislation requiring the government to create storage facilities so as to avoid a repeat of the freezer burn slaughter that happened in my own fridge. If those whiny Iraq war vets want to see a real case of PTSD, just come over to my house.

Question No. 3 Would you deny Coreen Costello the legal right to have opted for use of the intact dilation and extraction procedure?

Hell yeah. Her increased health risk was more than offset by the chance that God could've got that baby breathing upon a natural birth. Jeebus ... Bill Frist coulda told you that and he's a doctor dontcha know.

Question No. 4 (via Oliver): Do you believe that a medical professional should be put in prison for up to five years for in any way dispensing health care to a woman if it relates to an abortion?

No. 5 years is way too soft. And where the hell is the punishment for the harlot?

Thanks to my righty friend for participating in this candid give-and-take. On my side, I do have a proposal regarding the abortion issue --- the government should lift the restrictions on the morning-after pills so that they are as cheap and as common as Smarties on Halloween.

* I saw a similar formulation of Question No. 1 somewhere on the net and can no longer find it so as to provide a proper attribution.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett --- R.I.P.

Being a life long fan of the Minnesota Twins, my greatest memories are of the Twins' World Championship seasons in 1987 and 1991.

My greatest memories are of Kirby in Game 6 of the '91 series. In one of the greatest individual performances in sports history, Kirby made a game saving catch at the wall and then, in extra innings, hit a game-winning walk-off homerun.

He was way too young to pass.

Good News Coming!!!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped below 11,000.

So I suppose we can all look forward to - for the third time - banner headlines proclaiming "DOW TOPS 11,000!"

I don't know about you, but the Dow's average growth of less than 1% a year during the Bush presidency certainly justifies the media's adulation in my book. Heh.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Don't Pick Up The Soap!

The Dukester has been sent up for an eight-year stretch.

The Ethics Comittee is still considering whether it should investigate.

Straight Talk McCain to Torturees: Suckas!!!!

One of the biggest myths being perpetuated by the media is that of John McCain being a straight talker.

It turns out the End-Of-Torture Bill McCain so proudly hailed as being a maverick move has a huge loophole. It appears not to allow prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to seek recourse in the courts.

Apparently, Lindsay Graham and Carl Levin were also involved in creating this loophole.

Kevin Drum has a shorter break down if you don't want to read the whole Washington Post piece.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The War On The Truth (Or Righties Who Love Them Some Muqtada)

A number of righties have chosen to coddle Muqtada Al Sadr by seeking to tamp down reports of the more than 1,300 killed in Baghdad since the shrine bombing.

The Washington Post has done a follow-up piece to the report of the more than 1,300 dead. The morgue officials who provided the media with the data are now coming under "pressure" for doing so.

Now we also learn that the head of the morgue in Baghdad has fled the country in fear of his life after reporting death squad activity.

The fact that there are so many on the right willing to blindly accept this cover-up says alot. These righties are not humanitarians. There humanitarianism only goes so far as it benefits Bush. Human rights abuses in Darfur and in Iraq are to be ignored or hidden if these righties feel the facts of such acts are politically damaging to Bush at home.

What a fucked up sense of priorities.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tape Shows Bush Lied About Katrina

Bush said: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

A newly released tape now shows Bush, in fact, was warned about possible levee breaches before Katrina made landfall.

Will Oprah Diss Nancy Grace?

Uh Oh ... it looks like Nancy Grace has a bit of a James Frey problem.

Will all those lovers of absolute truth - the kind of people who are huge Gracie fans - call for Nancy's head on a stick the way they did Frey's?

I doubt it.