Archive for January 4th, 2007

Um.

Underwater hockey.

Why?

1 comment January 4th, 2007 at 11:46pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

Okay, Now I KNOW They’re Lying

Today’s NYT:

The White House declined Wednesday to criticize the conduct of the execution of Saddam Hussein, even as State Department officials and military leaders in Baghdad raised questions about the timing of the hanging and the way the condemned dictator was taunted by Shiite guards as he stood on the gallows.

Spokesmen for President Bush said he had not seen the video of the execution Saturday, and Mr. Bush himself refused to answer questions about it. Appearing in the Rose Garden with his cabinet to talk about a balanced budget, the president turned his back and walked away when a reporter called out to ask whether he believed that the hanging had been handled appropriately.

Seriously, does anyone expect us to believe Dubya didn’t watch the execution he’s been obsessing over for the last 15+ years? Give me a break. He watched it over and over again in big-screen, hi-def slo-mo, snarfing down pretzels and pork rinds and whooping it up with his mouth full.

The circumstances surrounding the hanging have prompted public demonstrations among Mr. Hussein’s Sunni loyalists in Iraq and outrage around the world. Yet, while Bush administration officials said in quiet background conversations that they agreed that the execution was bungled, the White House insisted in public on Wednesday that the president was concentrating on the future of Iraq and that he was content to leave the investigation to the Iraqis.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is, this is a guy who killed hundreds of thousands of people and received justice,” said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. Mr. Snow said too much attention had been paid to “the last two minutes” of Mr. Hussein’s life and not enough to the previous 69 years.

Um, Mr. Tony? I think you may be missing the point just a wee tiny bit. This is about the legitimacy and credibility of both the American and Iraqi governments. When the highest-possible-profile execution is carried out in an unprofessional, sectarian manner by a ski-masked death squad, it sends the worst possible message to the Sunni Islamic world, and indeed to everyone who is not a Shi’ite extremist.

Not only that, but as others have noted, the spectacle achieved the impossible by making Saddam look almost noble. When the condemned is orders of magnitude more dignified than the executioners (or the witnesses), you have an image problem.

5 comments January 4th, 2007 at 04:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,Politics,Wankers

“Surge” Purged?

From McClatchy, by way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin:

President Bush plans to order extra U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a new push to secure Baghdad, but in smaller numbers than previously reported, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The president, who is completing a lengthy review of Iraq policy, is considering dispatching three to four U.S. combat brigades to Iraq, or no more than 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, the officials said. Bush is expected to announce his decision next week.

(…)

“Instead of a surge, it is a bump,” said a State Department official. He spoke on condition of anonymity, because Bush hasn’t yet unveiled details of what the White House is calling a “new way forward” in Iraq.

Bush had been considering proposals to send a much larger contingent into Baghdad – as many as 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers and Marines.

I give it a day or two before they deny having ever considered a “surge”.

Only problem is, any tabloid or gossip reader (not me!) can tell you that “bump” is just not very manly. Might I humbly suggest calling it “The Bulge”, or maybe “The Package”?

2 comments January 4th, 2007 at 03:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,Politics,Wankers,War

More Keith Ellison!

Would it be churlish and uncivil of me to note that Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison sounds a helluva lot more Christian than all the so-called Christians of the Right?

Somewhere in Minneapolis or Jackson or Baltimore, somewhere in America today, there is a young couple that is feeling vulnerable. Maybe one has been laid off due to outsourcing, and maybe, the other is working for something close to a minimum wage. They probably have no medical benefits. Today real income is lower for the typical family than in 2000, while the incomes of the wealthiest families have grown significantly. Things are tough for working people, but in America, we often turn to our faith in tough times.

When our couple shows up for worship service, probably on a Sunday, there is no doubt that the preacher will tell them of God’s unyielding love. “God loves you.” But the next thing the preacher tells them is crucial – not only to the young couple, but to us all. The next message from the preacher may help to shape, not only the next election results, but the political landscape of the nation.

Will the preacher tell our young couple, “God loves you – but only you and people like you?” Or will the preacher say “God loves you and you must love your neighbors of all colors, cultures, or faiths as yourselves”? One message will lead to be a stinginess of spirit, an exclusion of the “undeserving”, and the other will lead to a generosity of spirit and inclusion of all.

In America today, we are encouraged to believe in the myth of scarcity – that there just isn’t enough – of anything. But in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, who the Muslims call Isa, found himself preaching to 5000 (not including the women by the way) at dinner time, and there didn’t appear to be enough food. The disciples said that there were only five barley loaves and two fish. We just have to send them away hungry. We simply don’t have enough. But Jesus took the loaves and the fish and started sharing food. There was enough for everyone. There was more than enough. What was perceived as scarcity was illusory as long as there was sharing, and not hoarding.

(…)

If scarcity is a myth, then poverty is not necessary. America need not have 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. It is a choice. Hunger is a choice. Exclusion of the stranger, the immigrant, or the darker other is a choice.

We can choose generosity.

(…)

We live in a society which says that there is enough for a tax break for the wealthy but not enough for an increase in the minimum wage or for national health care. There is enough for subsidies to oil and coal companies but not for families who are struggling to afford child care or a college education. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We need a politics of generosity based on the reality of abundance as opposed to a politics of not-enough. The richest 1 percent of the nation, on average, owns 190 times as much as a typical household. The child poverty rate in the United States is the highest of 16 other industrialized nations. Employers are shifting health insurance costs onto workers. Not only are fewer employees receiving health insurance through their employers, but those who still do are paying more for it.

Recently, I have become the focus of some criticism for my use of the Qu’ran for my ceremonial swearing in. Let me be clear, I am going to be sworn into office like all members of Congress. I am going to swear to uphold the United States Constitution. We seem to have lost the political vision of our founding document — a vision of inclusion, tolerance and generosity.

I’m not sure it’s quite as simple or easy as Mr. Ellison says, but I have no doubt that we can and should be doing a lot more than we’re doing now. The passage I bolded is an excellent example of the Republicans’ skewed priorities, and what they choose to squander this country’s abundance on. And that’s without even mentioning the ongoing cost of the war and occupation in Iraq, which is probably enough to wipe out poverty all by itself.

But I guess since he’s a Muslim, our Christian nation doesn’t have to listen to him. Hell, I’m sure I’m objectively pro-terrorist just for saying “What the Muslim said!” Oh well, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time.

UPDATE: There’s quite the lively debate in the comments after Ellison’s piece. There are some truly creepy xenophobes and bigots there (as well as some I-got-mine-fuck-you conservatarians), but they’re getting their asses kicked pretty handily by the sane people.

3 comments January 4th, 2007 at 02:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics

Media Notes: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Kind of an up-and-down day for Howie…

The Good:

One of the perks of being president–a Republican president, at least–is that, besides a nice white mansion with a chef and your very own armed forces, you get to write for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page.

(…)

And what issue has the president decided to put his muscle behind? Let’s examine the words of George W. Bush:

“One important message I took away from the election is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to slip into legislation billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects that have never been reviewed or voted on by Congress….

“…It’s time Congress give the president a line-item veto. And today I will announce my own proposal to end this dead-of-the-night process and substantially cut the earmarks passed each year.”

Let me get this straight. After six years of a Republican Congress earmarking truckloads of pork for home districts, much of it for Bridge-to-Nowhere projects, Bush has suddenly decided–the day before the Democrats take control–that earmarking is an outrage?

How convenient.

It’s still a good idea to make it harder for lawmakers to slip costly goodies into bills. But when has Bush exhibited much concern for the inner workings of Congress? Whenever he’s been asked about the Foley scandal or Tom DeLay’s problems, the White House line has always been, that’s a congressional matter.

I think narrative is the key here. Not only does this approach gloss over the failings of the Republican Congress, but it also reinforces the “tax-and-spend liberals” meme. Republicans didn’t need controls on their spending, because they’re Fiscally Disciplined Small-Government Grown-Ups who would only spend your hard-earned tax dollars on inportant things like fighting Terror or stimulating the economy. Democrats, on the other hand, are like spoiled little children who want to spend money on every shiny little trinket dangled in front of them, and must be reined in by their Wise Daddy. To admit that Republicans are the ones throwing money away would blow this story all to hell.

The Bad:

I’m not linking to this Glenn Reynolds post because he mentions me saying that many journalists now admit they misjudged Jerry Ford three decades ago. (Well, maybe a little.) But he makes a point that is starting to get some online traction:

“They said nice things about Reagan after he died, too, despite hating him in office, and they’re already gearing up to do the same thing with George H.W. Bush, who was treated quite unfairly during his term. It’s as if the only good Republican President is a dead Republican President.”

Aarrgghh. The stupid, it burns me.

The Ugly:
(I can’t really blame Howie for this, he’s just the messenger)

Finally, I got an NBC press release about Matt Lauer’s 10th anniversary that contained this sentence:
“On Friday, ‘Today’ will take a look back at the highlights of Lauer’s ten-year career as co-anchor including his big-name, newsmaker interviews with President George W. Bush, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Amber Frey.”

Amber Frey? Scott Peterson’s ex-mistress? Does she really belong in such august company?

Oy.

January 4th, 2007 at 11:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

If Only She Were 10 Years Older…

President Bush has certainly set the bar almost impossibly high for just the right mix of pampered, petulant self-absorption and blithe incompetence, which naturally gives me much cause for concern that we will be able to find a suitable successor who would not be a fatal shock to the American system.

After an extensive search process, I believe I may have located an ideal replacement:

Two nightclubs known as Club Paris will no longer be associated with their namesake — Paris Hilton, according to the club’s owner.

Fred Khalilian said he “fired” the hotel heiress because she has failed to attend scheduled appearances at the location in downtown Orlando. The troubles started two years ago when Hilton showed up six hours late for the grand opening, Khalilian said.
“She’s created a circus for herself,” he said. “It’s all about: How has she screwed up now?”

Khalilian does not want to change the name of the Orlando club, or one opened in Jacksonville last year, because he said the name is so well known. Instead of Club Paris representing Hilton, it will stand for the city, Khalilian said.

She’s perfect! The country wouldn’t even miss a beat! She even carries a little dog around with her!

Sadly, she does not meet the minimum age requirement to run for president, so a Constitutional amendment may be required.

Hey, how old is K-Fed?

January 4th, 2007 at 10:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Politics,Wankers

ALL Your Communications Are Belong To Us

The Bush administration apparently realizes they missed a spot:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans’ mail without a judge’s warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a “signing statement” that declared his right to open people’s mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush’s move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

“Despite the President’s statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people’s mail without a warrant,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

“The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

“The danger is they’re reading Americans’ mail,” she said.

“You have to be concerned,” agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush’s claim. “It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known.”

A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, “It’s something we’re going to look into.”

Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court’s approval.

Yet in his statement Bush said he will “construe” an exception, “which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent … with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”

Bush cited as examples the need to “protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”

White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore denied Bush was claiming any new authority.

“In certain circumstances – such as with the proverbial ‘ticking bomb’ – the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches,” she said.

Bush, however, cited “exigent circumstances” which could refer to an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency.

Critics point out the administration could quickly get a warrant from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to search targeted mail, and the Postal Service could block delivery in the meantime.

But the Bush White House appears to be taking no chances on a judge saying no while a terror attack is looming, national security experts agreed.

Martin said that Bush is “using the same legal reasoning to justify warrantless opening of domestic mail” as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.

Arrrgh. There they go again. Bush apparently can’t stand the thought that someone, somewhere might be saying something he doesn’t know about. And our descent towards police-state totalitarianism just gets steeper and creepier.

In my happy fantasy dream world, the president’s authority to make signing statements is repudiated by the Supreme Court, and the president is then impeached and convicted for his multiple violations of the laws he tried to exempt himself from. I’m also filthy rich, invulnerable, and irresistible to women.

UPDATE/ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

o Snail mail seems a bit inconsistent with the “ticking time bomb” scenario, no? Not inconceivable, but pretty unlikely.

o I didn’t see any mention of the eavesdropping being limited to mail to or from a foreign country – indeed, all the references were to “domestic mail,” so the scope is a lot broader than what the administration claims to be doing with regard to wiretapping.

o As an NYT op-ed or LTE pointed out a while back, if there aren’t enough translators to handle the volume of mail and phone conversations to be spied on, then this is transparently not about preventing terrorism, unless the Bushies are stupid enough to think that Arab-speaking terrorists would talk to each other in English for our convenience (okay, I’ll concede that one).

o I would like to add the following to my happy fantasy dream world: A professional-quality 20-megapixel thought-controlled eye camera, with a zoom lens that can instantly go from ultra-wide fisheye to ultrasupermegazoom (so much for wearing glasses). Also, it would have to be wireless so I wouldn’t have to stick USB cables up my nose.

January 4th, 2007 at 07:43am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Favorites,Politics,Wankers


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