Archive for December 6th, 2006

How Quaint.

John actually thinks that Cheneys are subject to mere laws. Foolish mortal; has he already forgotten that this is the same family that can shoot people in the face with impunity?

But he is right that it would suck to be a gay commoner in VA.

(hat tip to vicki at DL Lousville)

December 6th, 2006 at 11:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics

Iraq Stalling Group

Okay, I’m admittedly way late to the ISG Party, but I have to work. And then I have to recuperate from work. So others have probably said everything I have to say, but I might as well get my observations out of my system anyway. They’re bullet points because I’m all corporate.

1) Atrios is entirely correct in that even if the ISG plan is the most brilliant plan ever (which it’s not) and would transform Iraq into an America-loving secular democracy in six months if followed in its entirety… it will never be followed in its entirety. Bush will simply implement the parts of it that fit in with what he already wanted to do anyway. And, I might add, when it all inevitably falls apart, he will then place all the blame on them (tell me again why anyone would ever want to be a part of this group?). At least they tried to cover their asses by saying that the plan had to be implemented in its entirety, but who’s gonna remember that when everything blows up? Okay, blows up more.

2) Some of the recommendations bring to mind the old saying, “Hope is not a plan.” Negotiate with Iran and Syria to get them to help us out? Tell the Iraqi government to make “substantial progress” on reconciliation and security or we’ll pull the plug?

3) Um, 70-80,000 is still an awful lot of troops. And if the Iraqi troops and police aren’t up to snuff (inconceivable!), the remaining troops will be even more vulnerable than they are now. Realistically, I can see Bush pretending to agree to this and then stalling and dragging his feet to ensure that it becomes his successor’s problem. Which, of course, has been his plan ever since it became clear that Iraq wasn’t going to spontaneously morph into a model democracy all by itself.

4) Some telling tidbits:

o Bush saying he’s not looking for a “graceful exit.” (When has he ever?)

o “While the panel was careful to modulate its wording to avoid phrases and rigid timelines that might alienate the White House…” (How pathetic is it that they have to sugarcoat the report so the leader of the free world won’t petulantly dismiss it?)

o The commission also abandoned the definition of “victory in Iraq” that President Bush laid out as his own strategy a year ago, and its report did not embrace the White House’s early aspiration that Iraq might be transformed into a democracy at any time in the near future. “We want to stay current,” Mr. Hamilton said briskly when asked about that decision. (Ouch.)

o Their findings left Washington awash in speculation over whether Mr. Bush, who thanked the members for their work and, in a private meeting, did nothing to push back against their findings, would embark on a huge reversal in policy. To do so would represent a[n] admission that three and a half years of strategy had failed, and that Mr. Bush’s repeated assurances to the American people that “absolutely, we’re winning” were based more on optimism than realism. His national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, has said that the president would announce a major change of course in “weeks, not months,” but given no hint how extensive it would be. (Try to imagine the worst choice possible, and that’s what Bush will announce.)

I don’t have high hopes. Even if implemented in its entirety, I don’t think the plan would help a whole lot. And the odds of it being implemented in its entirety are roughly equal to the odds of Bush admitting error. This is not a coincidence.

5 comments December 6th, 2006 at 08:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,War

Night Of The Living Dems

Michael Temchine/The New York Times

I know I watch too many horror movies, but it really looks like something awful and badwrong is about to happen here.

5 comments December 6th, 2006 at 07:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Favorites,Weirdness

Copper Lining

Remember, back about six months before 9/11, when the Taliban blew up those two giant standing Buddha statues? That was a ghastly, horrible, tragic thing, but apparently there was a tiny bit of good that came out of it, in that the destruction inadvertently opened the way to some fruitful archaeological research:

A continuing paradox is that the destruction of the Buddhas has in a way aided archaeologists in their investigations. For example, carbon dating of fragments of the plaster surface of the Buddhas was able to pinpoint the construction of the smaller one to 507, and the larger one to 554. Previous estimates had varied over 200 years.

The Buddhas were only roughly carved in the rock, which was then covered in a mud plaster mixed with straw and horsehair molded to depict the folds of their robes and then painted in bright colors. Workers have recovered nearly 3,000 pieces of the surface plaster, some with traces of paint, as well as the wooden pegs and rope that were laid across the bodies to hold the plaster to the statue. The dryness of Afghanistan’s climate and the depth of the niches helped protect the statues and preserve the wood and rope.

The larger Buddha was painted carmine red and the smaller one was multicolored, Mr. Melzl said.

The most exciting find, he added, was a reliquary containing three clay beads, a leaf, clay seals and parts of a Buddhist text written on bark. The reliquary is thought to have been placed on the chest of the larger Buddha and plastered over at the time of construction.


One cave… so blackened by soot from camp fires that the Taliban and looters passed it by, has revealed fine paintings of tiny animals – a lion and a wild boar, a monkey, an ox and a griffin – rare in Buddhist art, but characteristic of Bamiyan, which combines Indian, Iranian and Gandharan influences.


The Chinese monk Xuan Zang visited Bamiyan in 632 and described not only the two big standing Buddhas, but also a temple some distance from the royal palace that housed a reclining Buddha about 1,000 feet long. Most experts believe it lay above ground and was long ago destroyed.

But two archaeologists, Zemaryalai Tarzi of Afghanistan and Kazuya Yamauchi of Japan, are busy digging in the hope of finding its foundations. Mr. Tarzi, who excavated a Buddhist monastery this year, may have also found the wall of the royal citadel that could lead the way to the third Buddha. He plans to return next year to continue digging.

(I’ve probably watched entirely too many bad Sci-Fi movies, because all I can think about is how bad it would be if the Chrysler Buddha suddenly came to life and started killing people…)

There’s also some talk about restoring the Buddhas, but given the hefty price tag and the country’s many more urgent needs, it’s not likely to happen. And the even-more-expensive “$64 million sound-and-laser show starting in 2009 that would project Buddha images at Bamiyan” idea just sounds stupid.

2 comments December 6th, 2006 at 06:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Science

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Space aliens from Vega? Why, that would make them…

Larry Weald returned home yesterday to a scene of chaos in his refrigerator.

“It was as if someone had taken a scalpel to the takeout box,” Weald said of his mutilated order of steamed tofu. Neighboring containers of soy sauce and low-calorie dressing were unharassed.

Police investigation of the refrigerator uncovered heightened levels of radiation. “My pocket sandwiches had fully cooked in the freezer compartment,” Weald said.

“Whatever did this must have come through the walls,” said Weald.

Police confirm that Weald’s security system, deadbolt, and chain lock functioned perfectly throughout the night of the mutilation.

Efforts to conduct video surveillance at the crime scene have been frustrated by darkness inside the refrigerator.

However, NASA researchers believe that the tofu mutilators’ origin may be otherworldly.

“There have been increased reports of crop circles in soybean fields, and of UFO sightings near the star Vega,” a NASA source revealed.

Investigators say that Weald’s is the strangest kitchen incursion since the Beef-Stock Mutilations of 1979, which claimed over 150 Nebraskan bouillon cubes.

I had no idea there was this much specialization among mutilator aliens.

3 comments December 6th, 2006 at 07:13am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

#1 search result for PIMP CLOWN.

Only search result for “that’s a fluffy dog”.

5 comments December 6th, 2006 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

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