Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time to Open Up the Matrix.

When your country's leader starts thumping on his chest, proclaiming "I'm the President!" and talking about "the country's destiny," it's time to open up the Matrix:

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Does This Counts As "Standing Up?"

BAGHDAD - A battle raged in west Baghdad on Thursday after residents rose up against al-Qaida and called for U.S. military help to end random gunfire that forced people to huddle indoors and threats that kept students from final exams, a
member of the district council said.

So we can get ready to leave now, right?

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So Much For That "I Looked Into His Eyes & Saw His Soul" Nonsense

From AP (via Yahoo):

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that tests of new Russian missiles were a response to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense installations and other forces in Europe, suggesting Washington has triggered a new arms race.

In a clear reference to the United States, he harshly criticized "imperialism" in global affairs and warned that Russia will strengthen its military potential to maintain a global strategic balance.

"It wasn't us who initiated a new round of arms race," Putin said when asked about Russia's missile tests at a news conference after talks in the Kremlin with Greek President Karolos Papoulias.

Putin described Tuesday's tests of a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and a new cruise missile as part of the Russian response to the planned deployment of new U.S. military bases and missile defense sites in ex-Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe.

Looks like our next "Big Bad Enemy" is getting lined up.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cheatin' Cheetahs

And here I thought humans were the only species that had FWB. But nope.

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"The Mamba" Wants Out

What NBA news would scare Cavs Fans (who want to hold on to LeBron James for dear life) yet excite Knick Fans (who'd sell their grandma for a marque player right about now)?

Answer One would be: "James traded to New York."

Answer Two would be: "Kobe says: 'Trade me.'"

Cleveland better get on the ball an insure that LeBron has a sturdy, championship-caliber team around him or they'll see this same story in five years.

UPDATE: Guess I spoke too soon on Kobe. Looks like we won't know his real intentions until for the next season starts (by then, we'll know what the 2007-2008 roster will look like).

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Taking All The Credit

DUBAI (Reuters) - The al Qaeda-led Islamic State in Iraq group claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the downing of a U.S. helicopter that killed two soldiers in the volatile eastern province of Diyala earlier this week.

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Man Eats Dog

Put you money where your mouth is, indeed. From Reuters (via MSNBC):

LONDON - A British artist has eaten chunks of a Corgi dog, the breed favored by Queen Elizabeth II, live on radio to protest against the royal family's treatment of animals. Mark McGowan, 37, said he ate "about three bites" of the dog meat, cooked with apples, onions and seasoning, to highlight what he called Prince Philip's mistreatment of a fox during a hunt by the Queen's husband in January.

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Every Direction But the Right One.

Fred Kaplan on one of many of President Bush's guffaws at last week's press conference:

It's also time to reassess what has been the Bush administration's strongest argument for staying the course—that if we fail in Iraq, "al-Qaida will be emboldened." The argument may be true. Then again, if we keep fighting to no avail in Iraq, al-Qaida might be emboldened as well—and, the longer this futile fight goes on, and the longer they can portray us as infidel occupiers, the more resentful warriors they can rally to their cause.

By exaggerating both al-Qaida's significance and its omnipresence generally, President Bush is only helping fulfill his direst fears.

At the start of a fight, there's some strategic sense in hyping the consequences of defeat: It galvanizes the troops, builds popular support, and discourages political critics from even talking about withdrawal.

However, if it becomes clear that victory (especially victory as it was originally defined) might be impossible, and if there's little a commander or leader can do to reverse the trend, it's strategically shrewd to start lowering the stakes. In this case, the president, in his rhetoric, should start downplaying the role of al-Qaida. And he should start revving up the diplomatic machinery, so that when we do withdraw (or scale back), the move can be presented in the context of some regional security arrangement—in other words, to make it look as little as possible like a rout.

Sadly, there's little chance of that happening anytime soon. Bush's resistance to withdrawal and timetables stem from, I believe, one thing: his father's decision to withdrawal during his administration. He wants to avoid being called "weak" or "a wimp" at all costs (notice it's the one insult that isn't frequently flung in 43's direction). Unless there some way for him to come out on top politically, Bush will not announce anything resembling a pullout.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It Shouldn't Just Be About Abortion

Where are the so-called "Pro-Life" Crowd when this happens?

HUDSON OAKS, Texas - A relative found the bodies of a 23-year-old woman and her four small daughters hanging in a closet in their mobile home Tuesday morning, all of them dead but an 8-month-old, who was taken to a hospital, the sheriff said.

Sadly, it been a bad decade for Texas parents:

Texas has seen a disturbing number of child killings by mothers in recent years.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family's Houston bathtub in 2001. In 2003, Deanna Laney beat her two young sons to death with stones in East Texas, and Lisa Ann Diaz drowned her daughters in a Plano bathtub. Dena Schlosser fatally severed her 10-month-old daughter's arms with a kitchen knife in 2004.

All four of those women were found innocent by reason of insanity. Yates initially was convicted of capital murder, but it was overturned on appeal.

My question: where are the protests? The marches? The websites denouncing such actions? Why is the mantra "after you're born, you're on your own" with this crowd? If every life is precious, as they claim, some "right to life" rep should be on a news show screaming bloody murder over this type of...bloody murder.

Instead, they're busy trying to force an unemployed teenager who can barely take care of herself to have a child.

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Hit&Run: NBA Playoffs

Real quick prediction: If the Cavaliers make it to the Finals, LeBron James will become bulletproof in the ref's eyes. Like MJ and Dwayne Wade before him. I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up; all I can say is that he's the biggest star left and as long as he at least looks fiery and competitive, his team will get into the Finals.

Not to say he's better than Tim Duncan (he's not) but outside of San Antonio Duncan isn't considered a phenom. Of course if had went to Boston, he would have been considered the best center in the modern NBA (narrowly nudging Shaq).

But if the Spurs think they're going to be knocking James on his ass and getting away with it, they will be in for a shock.

Now if the Pistons make it instead, forget everything I said. :)

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Not Fade Away

As Cindy Sheehan decides to step away, the administrator of Democratic Underground wants to make clear that any attacks on her from their site was not a reflection of the majority.
I hope Ms. Sheehan comes back. I understand her frustration in the wake of the funding vote, especially considering that so many people expected the Democrats were going to do more to end this debacle known as "The Iraq War." But nothing comes easy or in the manner we envision it; usually it's something drastically different (not better or worse) or something of a mesh. I like to call it the "Wonder Years Principle."

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Addressing the "Bush is Liberal" Myth.

The crack must be good in the Washington Post op-ed room/lounge, because Richard Cohen is high like a kite:

Years ago, someone coined the term "neoliberal." I was never sure what it meant, and it has since fallen into disuse, but whatever the case, I'd like to revive (and mangle) the term and apply it -- brace yourself -- to George W. Bush. He's more liberal than you might think.

See what happens during a three-day holiday with little going on and you need to make a deadline? Why, oh why did Mr. Cohen make such an accusation?

But consider this: An overriding principle of conservatism is to limit the role and influence of the federal government. Nowhere is this truer than in education. For instance, there was a time when no group of Republicans could convene without passing a resolution calling for the abolition of the Education Department and turning the building -- I am extrapolating here -- into a museum of

I don't think you can use the size of the federal government as a standard for liberalism. The federal government grew under Reagan and Nixon, and neither were liberal. I think the argument can be made that government is bound to grow a little with each president, but it is up to that particular administration to keep that growth as minimal and cost-effective as possible. So forgive me for not accepting the "size of federal government" as a sign that Bush is liberal.

Cohen's second example?

I am not suggesting that any of these appointees -- including Bush's former White House counsel, Harriet Miers -- are what is pejoratively known as affirmative action hires. I am suggesting, though, that Bush has not only diversified his Cabinet and staff but obviously got enormous satisfaction in doing so. You only have to listen to Bush talk about the virtues of immigration -- another liberal sentiment -- or his frequent mention of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" to appreciate that the
president is a sentimental softie, what was once dismissively called a "mushy-headed liberal."

So because of Rice and Gonzales, Bush is diverse. What Cohen misses is that diversity is not just about skin color, but one's culture and ethnicity. It's one thing to appoint and black or Latino person who was raised in a predominately white society and claim that you're being diverse in you're hiring. It's another thing to have a minority who grew up in an area where their race/ethnicity was prevalent.

The last example of Bush's "neoliberlism?" How about Iraq?

Allow me to make the case that this is also true when it comes to Iraq. I acknowledge that the war is a catastrophic mistake and was incompetently managed. But if you don't think it was waged on behalf of oil or empire, then one reason for our involvement was an attempt to do some good -- rid the world of a really bad guy and make life better for Iraqis and others in the region. This "liberal" intent may have left Dick Cheney cold and found Don Rumsfeld indifferent, but it appealed to Bush and it showed in his rhetoric and body language. Contrast it to the position of the so-called foreign policy realists, exemplified by the first President Bush and his trusted foreign policy sidekick, Brent Scowcroft.

So because Bush claimed that the Iraqi invasion/occupation was to get rid of Saddam and free the Iraqi people from his tyrannical reign, he should be deemed a liberal. Nonsense. If I remember Bush's pre-invasion speech correctly, he said "My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." Reads like "free it's people" was second to disarmament. And "disarm Iraq" and "defend the world from grave danger" has to allude to the first stump-speech reason for going in: Weapons of Mass Destruction. So in reality, only 1/3 of Bush's reasoning had to do with "freedom;" the majority was related to his crappy, fixed intelligence. Also, if Bush was so big on saving people, explain his environmental record. Explain his stance on Darfur. "Saving" or "freeing" people is gravy on his warmongering mashed potatoes, and Cohen just seems to slop it up. It's this type of lame re-writing of history that makes me wonder certain people got their jobs.

Cohen's conclusion seems to imply that the failure in Iraq is the failure of liberalism. I beg to differ. The failure in Iraq is due to the arrogance and ignorance of the Bush Administration.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Unaccounted Casualties of the "War on Terror."

Here's a simple reason for wanting the troops back until our government (which includes the White House, Congress and the US Military) can come up with a viable, intelligent, and realistic plan of attack in regards to terrorism:

"The brave men and women overseas could be doing more valuable things back here at home."

What is one of those things? How about raising their children to be productive members of society?

Because otherwise, God only knows what could happen:

CALUMET CITY, Ill. - A man beat his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son to death after she left the boy in his care while she was deployed to Iraq, police said.

A judge denied bond on Saturday for Donell Parker, 23, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cameron Smith. Parker was charged Friday, a day after the boy was found dead in his bed in a suburb south of Chicago.

Judge Frank Castiglione said at Saturday’s bail hearing that Parker showed a “wanton disrespect for human life.” Prosecutors told the court the boy suffered multiple rib fractures, damaged internal organs and swelling around his brain.

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The Wild Wild...Middle East.

Bang Bang:

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.

Occurrences like these are bound to happen when a fake cowboy is running the country. And when we think we can outsource wars and be successful. The longer we stay over there, the more Iraq becomes the American Wild West.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

No Main Topic

1. Season Finale Showdown: I was waiting to hear from others about LOST's season finale before I threw in my 2-cents. I'll probably post my thoughts on my MySpace blog instead. Suffice it to say that the LOST season finale was way better than either Heroes or Smallville.

2. Ya Gots to Chill: I know some people (namely those who bother to vote this past November who probably wouldn't have under normal circumstances) are pissed, but ya'll need to calm down. Believe me, as a Redskins fan I know what happens when people fly off the handle when one plan doesn't pan out they way they want. This is not the time for panic moves. But don't get me wrong; you have a right to be upset. Just channel it into something productive.

3. Extreme Lawn Care: A guy who shot a teen for being on his lawn gets a life sentence.

4. A De-Crowning: I'm not sure LaBron was fouled last night in the Pistons-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Game 2, and even if he was, such a call should not determine a playoff game (and if recent precedent holds, it hasn't). This is all part of the growing process, people. No one should expect him to become Michael Jordan so quickly (especially with his questionable defense).

5. Pump Up the Volume: A guy who runs a Mobil gas station has closed down in protest.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Battle of the Bands

Now that kos is back, he's wasting no time. Which is good. But this caught my eye:

Apparently, the topic of bands "selling out" has become one of the hottest topics in the blogosphere. Really, I'm not quite sure why people care if their favorite bands make money. The calculation is easy -- the more money they make, the more likely they are to stay together making the music their fans love so much. If they've got to slave away in obscurity for some quixotic quest for "keeping it real", then chances are they won't be making that great music for long.

Same goes for your favorite bloggers too, btw.

First: what artist or group hasn't been accused of selling out?

Second: is he referring to a particular genre (like modern rock) or any music group (pop, alt rock, heavy metal, rap hip-hop,R&B)? Because if it's the later, the "more money means the group stays together" theory doesn't hold water; R&B groups alone are infamous for breaking up over petty crap that has nothing to do with getting a paycheck (Destiny's Child? Hello?) Even if the chatter is about the "traditional band," a.k.a "where everyone in the group plays an instrument" there's still the potential for disharmony that has nothing to do with cash: the keyboard guy is jealous of the bass player; the drummer wants more solos, everyone wants to take turns being the lead singer; and of course groupies/fans.

Third: To equate "keeping it real" to not "making great music" is kind of a stretch. Rather, staying underground just hurts your chances of getting your music out in the mainstream. But with the Internet, who gives a Carebear? You can set up your own site (or use places like Blogger, You Tube or MySpace) and a good chunk of the PR side without begging some exec to listen to your demo tape. Some of the best music I've ever heard -from any genre- has been off the radar because they don't have some suit telling them "what the people want." But then again, the underground musicians I know have other means of income and don't rely on their bands/music to make them gobs of money: in other words, they make music because the like making music.

And I could go into how numerous politicians have been accused of "selling out", and how this is viewed so differently by people, but since the subject was music and not politics, I'll stop here.

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Don't Let the Door Hit You On the Way Out (the Wolfowitz Mix)

The guy who (helped) kicked former Iraq strategist and comb-licker Paul Wolfowitz out of the World Bank has some parting shots.

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Hillary Pushes for Action in New Orleans

Hillary Clinton on rebuilding New Orleans:

"What you do need is action, action supported by our federal government but driven right here in New Orleans and in the surrounding parishes by people who understand the reality on the ground, action that leads to real, measurable improvements, not six months from now, not a year from now, but right now."

To bad for us the country is being run by timetable-phobic posers who'd rather look and sound good than actually doing something to clean up a natural disaster that's almost two years old.

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Lott's Whiplash

Now that his insurance claim has been rejected, Republican Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott has decided to fight back.

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Much Ado About Nothin'

Guess what's happened since Great Britain has allowed homosexuals to serve? Not a damn thing.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Harry Reid Power-move

The Senate Majority Leader has special plans for the summer to prevent President Bush from making any more special recess appointments.

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Just 142 Years Too Late...

A story on how modern medcine could have saved Abraham Lincoln (among other famous dead people).

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Actually, the Exact Opposite of "Day Care."

I wouldn't call a business "day care" if someone ends up dead:

A day care worker was being held Saturday in the death of a 2-year-old boy who had his hands bound and his mouth covered with masking tape, police said.

The boy, who had been on life support, died late Thursday, Officer Jason Willingham said. Vicki Leigh Chiles was being held without bail on a complaint of first-degree murder.

She was the only worker at the facility at the time, looking after eight children ages 7 and younger, Willingham said.

And people wonder why it's so hard to set up day care centers. People like this have no business being near children, let alone working at a job where they are required to look after them.


"Sicko" Is Making an Impact

The early reviews show that Micahel's Moore's new film Sicko will be powerful, witty and emotional. But since that's only a fragment of information regarding the film, it's better to just go to his homepage to see what I'm talking about.

If the Bush Adminsitration was trying to discredit this guy by investigating him, they did a terrible job. But then again, it's pretty much par for the course for this group, right?

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Around the Internets

Oliver Willis some VA gunshop just don't get it.

daveawayfromhome reviews John Dean's book.

Media Matters notes David Broder's puzzling inability to see anything clearly with those Beltway Insider shades.

ThinkProgress: according to at least one conservative writer, Bush's "Plan B" if Iraq fails is to attack Iran and then replace Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

A Month To Lie...

Washington Post Ed Board on President Bush

IT DOESN'T much matter whether President Bush was the one who phoned Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's hospital room before the Wednesday Night Ambush in 2004. It matters enormously, however, whether the president was willing to have his White House aides try to strong-arm the gravely ill attorney general into overruling the Justice Department's legal views. It matters enormously whether the president, once that mission failed, was willing nonetheless to proceed with a program whose legality had been called into question by the Justice Department. That is why Mr. Bush's response to questions about the program yesterday was so inadequate.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Mr. Bush told reporters at a news conference with departing British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "It's a very sensitive program. I will tell you that, one, the program is necessary to protect the American people, and it's still necessary because there's still an enemy that wants to do us harm."

No one is asking Mr. Bush to talk about classified information, and no one is discounting the terrorist threat. But there is a serious question here about how far Mr. Bush went to pressure his lawyers to implement his view of the law. There is an even more serious question about the president's willingness, that effort having failed, to go beyond the bounds of what his own Justice Department found permissible.

ThinkProgress has a clip of Bush's dismissal and his attempt to shield himself with the threat of future terrorist attacks. One diarist from DailyKos suggests that Bush's statements can be used to remove him.

For me, this represents the Catch-22 of dealing with the corruptness of this Administration: do you investigate "All Things Iraq," which President Bush claims we need to be more patient on, or do you go after other things (wiretapping, fired US Attorneys, etc.) which always seems to be defended with the phrase "national security?"

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The Streets Are Watching...

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were among the Hip-Hop celebrities being watched by the New York City Police Department during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Most of the celebrities had participated in a protest of the RNC.

I guess Chris Rock was right after all:

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A 10-Month-Year Old Kid With a Gun

You heard me:

Someday, Howard David Ludwig's Firearm Owner's Identification Card will be stored in a box with his first pair of shoes and perhaps a lock of his baby hair.

That's because the card was issued when Howard, nicknamed Bubba, was just 10 months old. It lists his height (2 feet, 3 inches) and weight (20 pounds) but doesn't note he's yet to learn how to walk.

With some exceptions, FOID cards are required of any Illinois residents purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition within the state.

The card wasn't a mistake. Bubba's father, a columnist for The (Tinley Park) Daily Southtown who is also named Howard Ludwig, paid the $5 fee and filled out the application.

Not only does this expose a ridiculously loose gun policy, but a potential danger to the country's security. What's to stop the next Trench coat Mafia or homegrown terrorist from getting an FIOD card?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

They Got Next...Unfortunately

From ESPN's Page 2: 8 types of guys you don't want to play pickup hoops with.

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Protecting Us From Ourselves, I Suppose

Senators from both sides of the aisle have asked for 9-11 report that the inspector general issued. However:

The CIA has spent more than 20 months weighing requests under the Freedom of Information Act for its internal investigation of the attacks but has yet to release any portion of it.

The agency is the only federal office involved in counterterrorism operations that has not made at least a version of its internal 9/11 investigation public.

A new piece of legislation may change things. It's been six damn years and this type of stonewalling crap has gotten tired.

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Basic NBA Instinct

Bill Simmons on the stupid NBA rule about leaving the bench:

Let's say you're one of the best seven players on the Phoenix Suns. You love Nash -- he's your emotional leader, your meal ticket to the Finals, the ideal teammate and someone who makes you happy to play basketball every day for a living. He's killing himself to win a championship. His nose was split open in Game 1. His back bothers him to the point that he has to lie down on the sidelines during breaks. He's battling a real cheap-shot artist (Bruce Bowen) who's trying to shove and trip him on every play. But he keeps coming and coming, and eventually everyone follows suit. Just as things were falling apart in Game 4 and you were staring at the end of your season, he willed you back into the game and saved the day.

Suddenly, he gets body-checked into a press table for no real reason on an especially cheap play. You're standing 20 feet away. Instinctively, you run a few steps toward the guy who did it -- after all, your meal ticket is lying on the court in a crumpled heap -- before remembering that you can't leave your bench. So you go back and watch everything else unfold from there. Twenty-four hours later, you get suspended for Game 5 because your instincts as a teammate kicked in for 1.7 seconds.

Think about how dumb this is. What kind of league penalizes someone for reacting like a good teammate after his franchise player just got decked? Imagine you're playing pickup at a park, you're leading a game 10-3, your buddy is driving for the winning layup, and some stranger clotheslines your buddy from behind and knocks him into the metal pole. Do you react? Do you take a couple of steps toward him? I bet you do. For the NBA to pretend it can create a fairy-tale league in which these reactions can be removed from somebody's DNA -- almost like a chemical castration -- I mean, how stupid is that?

That's the NBA in a nutshell: they want to market the individual physical talents of players, yet keep their individual personalities (which, ironically, make their playmaking all the more entertaining) in check to the point that they're basically athletic robots. In other words: 450 players who play like LaBron but act like Tim Duncan. Yippee-ki-yay.

Alas, as Simmons has stated, it's the rule and until it's changed NBA players and fans have to live with it.

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"Nothing but Iraq is on the agenda."

Looks like the US and Iran will finally get together. Personally, I've had enough with the saber-rattling.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let's Get Ready To Gambllllllllllllllllle!

Maryland is one step closer to having slots.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Jerry Falwell

In light of his death, I wanted to make the following comments: to religious conservatives, he was a champion. To progressives of various faiths (or non-faiths), he was a hate-mongering fraud. The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle. There is no doubt that he was instrumental in Reagan's ascension to the presidency, as well as that of George W. Bush. However, blaming gay people and pro-choice advocates for causing 9-11 didn't exactly endure him to the mainstream.

Despite his religious titles, he will be known publicly as more of a political figure. And in that regard, it won't be long until another figure takes his place.

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Even Ashcroft Was Iffy on Wiretapping

From the AP, via Yahoo!: "President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program was so questionable that a top Justice Department official refused for a time to reauthorize it, sparking a standoff with top White House officials that culminated at the bedside of an ailing attorney general, a Senate panel was told Tuesday."

Doesn't that sound like a scene from "Clear and Present Danger?"

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Utterly Useless

Alberto Gonzales Remembers Something

James Dobson Envokes Malclom X

James Dobson of Focus on the Family met with President Bush to talk about how Christian conservatives can help Bush with his Iraq message.

On his radio show, Dobson decided to make his case:

Later in his broadcast, during a discussion about Iran with author and self-proclaimed “prophecy expert” Joel Rosenberg, Dobson drew a parallel between current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Adolf Hitler.

“The world looked at Hitler and just didn't believe him and tried to appease him the way we're hearing in Washington today,” Dobson remarked. “You know, the President seems to me does understand this, as I told you from that meeting I had with him the other day, but even there it feels like somebody ought to be standing up and saying, ‘We are being threatened and we are going to meet this with force -- whatever's necessary.’”

Dobson continued, “Some of our listeners might not like that but I tell you, if we didn't stand up to Hitler, we'd be speaking German today.”

"Whatever's necessary?" Like "by any means necessary?" Comparing Ahmedinejad to Hitler is expected (if you want to make someone look bad, who else would you compare them to?) but I'm surprised Dobson paraphrased a militant Muslim activist (and to a lessor extent, a play).

Of course, let's be clear here: Malcolm X was referring to race relations and civil rights, while Dobson is referring to the borderline genocide of a culture he doesn't understand.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

"The Takeover" Revisited

In the midst of his John-Locke-like-comeback, Gilbert Arenas vows to be a better defensive player.

Note to Gil: as long as you're making stops during the last four minutes of each quarter, you're be considered a defensive dynamo.

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Picture This: Tom Toles

Chicago Bulls Fans Aren't Exactly Hopeful

"On Sunday, nobody should even show up in this stadium," said one fan who left in disgust. I watched that game last night: talk about having your soul ripped out. See the full story on ESPN.


The Divorce Rate Gets "Groovy" Again

The divorce rate has fallen to 1970 levels. However:

Some experts say relationships are as unstable as ever — and divorces are down primarily because more couples live together without marrying. Other researchers have documented what they call “the divorce divide,” contending that divorce rates are indeed falling substantively among college-educated couples but not among less-affluent, less-educated couples.

“Families with two earners with good jobs have seen an improvement in their standard of living, which leads to less tension at home and lower probability of divorce,” said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

America’s divorce rate began climbing in the late 1960s and skyrocketed during the ’70s and early ’80s, as virtually every state adopted no-fault divorce laws. The rate peaked at 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981.

For me, the divorce rate has always been something I note whenever people talk about the proverbial "sanctity of marriage" thing. It's hard to talk about how sacred it is when one in five adults have had a divorce.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Tries To Answer Simple Questions...and Fails

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came before the House today to testify on the US attorney firings. Even though many Republicans decided to ask different questions (many dealing only with their state/district) that had nothing to do with the hiring and firing of US attorneys, some House members stayed on track. Here's a sample:

Keeping in mind that the House is more...exteme...then the Senate, things got testy at times. The thing that stood out to me was that Gonzales couldn't answer the very first question posed to him: "who made the list?" In fact, Gonzales couldn't answer (or remember) alot of things.

Reminded me of a certain movie where the guy getting peppered with questions turned out to be, at best, relatively useless...

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The Everglades Redemption

I think the title says it all: "Prison guards accused of forcing inmates to lick toilets."

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

LOST: Ben Linus Revealed

Random thoughts on tonight's episode:

All I can say is "wow." Ben is either in tune with a supernatural force on the Island, or he is a certifiable, insane megalomaniac.

According to the TVWoP crowd, there was someone in the chair. Spooky.

I'm still not sure what convinced Ben to betray the Dharma group. Was it his cruddy father? The fact he felt that he didn't fit in? Did anyone else get a "Trench coat Mafia" feeling when he participated in the gassing?

I think Jack's a jerk for not telling someone else about Juliet's/Ben's scheme. I mean, it's not like Rose or Sayid would've squealed, right?

So I guess the big question is: who are the "Hostiles?"

I'm also curious as to what Jack's "counterattack" plan is. If I'm not mistaken, they've lost alot of their weapons to the Others, and (including) Jack there's been a history of Losties aligning themselves with the so-called "enemy."

Seriously, though: Ben makes Sylar from "Heroes" and Lionel Luther from "Smallville" look like Mr. Rogers. Yikes.

And to end on a comic note: how funny was it when Locke was beating the Russian Vodka out of Mikhail, and Ben was asking for help but Tom's all, "I'm drinking my morning coffee, here!" Priceless.

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President Bush Gets Stumped By the Queen of England

Queen-E, at the toast: "I wonder whether I should start this toast by saying, 'When I was here in 1776.' "

Bush: "Your Majesty, I can't top that one."

This was after Bush said Queen-E has been a ceremonial guest since 1776 (which he quickly changed to 1976). Remember, this is how Bush acts around allies.

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Cleaning Up the Wizards: One Good Scrubbing

After having a little time to reflect on the Wizard's regular and post-season, let me wrap up my pre-draft thoughts on who the team can afford to keep, and who could be shown the door.

I've already set my list of who ranks where, and I started with those most valuable to the team. Now for those the team could do without.

50/50 PLAYERS:

Etan Thomas is active and energetic, but not consistently productive. He's one of the few holdovers from the Michael Jordan Era, but that shouldn't be the reason he's expendable. No, the reason the team doesn't really need him is because he style of play doesn't fit the Princeton Offense. The PO requires a big man who can pass and make a 12-to-15-foot shot with regularity. That's just not Thomas. And that could be overlooked if not for the fact that he's only 6'10", which in even this center-lite League is problematic (especially in the post-season). His career stats are good for a backup but not a starter.

Mike Hall hasn't played much. Meaning, "like two games." So he doesn't seem to be part of the team's long-term plans.

Calvin Booth's best years were his early ones (when he was being juggled between Washington and Dallas). Sadly he hasn't come close to that since. He's more a of scoring big man who can defend than a defending big man who can score, which means he needs to be on the floor more than your average third center option. He good for practice sessions, and he can run the floor, but he's not exactly a key component for a playoff team.


And then we come to Brendan Haywood. Despite wanting to be a starter, his career stats are anything but (in fact they look eerily similar to Thomas'). This guy is 7-feet and has never averaged more than 7 boards for a season. He could average .600 from the field if he didn't try to take so many ill-advised fade away shots and did more center-type scoring moves. He doesn't get along with the coach or his center counterpart (Thomas) and most of the team has admitted that it's a distraction. You can expect him to be an All-Star for only ten games a season, average for about twenty, and for the rest he's either a non-factor or being outmatched by a 6'9" guy. His hands are just as bad as Etan, but at least Etan doesn't give up on a play if he's not part of the offense. The best things Haywood has going for him is that he's still young, his contract is relatively cheap, and someone somewhere is bound to take a chance on a 7-footer. But he doesn't fit in with Eddie Jordan's schemes, he's far from a fan favorite (his actions and attitude during this last playoff series will not be forgotten) and he's starting to affect team morale.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Night of the Living Fred

And Now It's Time To Say Goodbye To All Our Company...

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Tell that to Walt Disney; because Hamas militants are using a Mickey Mouse look-alike (named Farfour) to promote an Islamic "New World Order."

A sample:

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," Farfour squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is titled, "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."
Let's hope there aren't any cartoons in the works.

UPDATE: It's been cancelled. The lesson is: don't screw around with Disney!

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Around the Internets

1. jurassicpork believes that the Chuck E. Cheese approach will work on President Bush's desire to stay in Iraq forever (i.e., until he leaves office).
2. daveawayfromhome dreams about the "good ol' days" when we actually had no problem making a sacrifice during wartime.
Someday, TV and newspaper pundits will make as much sense as these guys...someday.

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"O" Boy!

Oprah Winfrey is backing Barack Obama.

She told Larry King:

"I think that what he stands for, what he has proved that he can stand for, what he has shown was worth me going out on a limb for...and I haven't done it in the past because I haven't felt that anybody — I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say, 'I believe in this person.' "

So what's the "Oprah Effect?" According to Alex S. Jones, the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University:

"If you see that she has a lot of fans who are not necessarily going to vote for Barack Obama, you have to calculate that she may take a commercial hit...Oprah is very credible. I would say that this endorsement is about as important of one as you could have right now."

Considering that this is the woman who influences what the everywoman may want to read, and that she had a mimi-showdown with the beef industry, expect this news to resonate with Obama fence-riders as well as Oprah fans.

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Dead End Kids

It's not easy being a child in a war zone:

LONDON - The chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster than anywhere else in the world since 1990, according to a report released Tuesday, which placed the country last in its child survival rankings.

One in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching their fifth birthday in 2005, according to the report by Save the Children, which said Iraq ranked last because it had made the least progress toward improving child survival rates.

One more reason to end this mess as soon as possible.

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Change Your Passwords

What are the ten most commonly used passwords? Well:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. blink182
  10. (whatever your name is)

I'm surprised that "blink182" is so high (are they really that popular?). And "monkey?" I guess it's cause it's six characters. But those first three should be automatically banned from use.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Worries and Warnings

Gen. Petraeus is worried:

"We can never sink to the level of the enemy," Petraeus said by video link from Baghdad. "We have done that at times in theater and it has cost us enormously" — referring specifically to the torture and humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility west of Baghdad.

Petraeus said he was drafting a memo that would closer examine issues of battlefield ethics and ways pre-empt possible problems, adding that he was "greatly concerned by the results" of a Pentagon report last week by a special mental health advisory team assessing forces serving in Iraq.

"So the first step is that we've got... make sure that folks remember that that's a foundation for our moral compass... anything we do that violates that is done at considerable peril," he said.

And the White House is warning:

The White House warning came on a day when 25 people were killed near Ramadi in two suicide bombings police blamed on al Qaeda. They were the latest in a string of big car bombings across Iraq in recent weeks that have killed hundreds despite a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad and outlying areas.

"We are getting to the point now with the Baghdad security plan where there is going to be real engagement in tougher neighborhoods and you're likely to see escalating levels of casualties," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

"We've known that, been saying it all along. We're getting into some of the grittiest security operations."
Of course, redeployment could resolve some of the worries, and reduce the need for warnings.

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Spider-Man 3: A Sticky Web

While critics have all but slammed the movie, financially it has made history. The complaints are familiar with movies headed past the first sequel: too long, too many characters, not enough development, it's the same story in a different wrapper.

But on the heals that LOST will finally define how long it will last, I know understand the hostility towards the Wall Crawler: nobody knows how many sequels will be made, and not knowing is disturbing to many critics. Some don't want to keep going to see the same franchise, others fear that the characters they know and admire will be eventually destroyed on film (ala "Batman and Robin") and would rather it die now while it's still "on stop" than to take the proverbial nose-dive.

That being said, I think this review best captures what viewers can expect from the latest installment. Here's part of their conclusion:

How to step into adulthood without being a jerk? That's just one of the questions Raimi, who co-wrote the script with his brother, Ivan Raimi, and with Alvin Sargent, riffs on here. "Spider-Man 3" is overloaded with the usual special effects, all but one of which are easily forgotten: There's simply very little that's particularly new or exciting about Spidey's swinging between and around skyscrapers while assorted baddies try to cut him down. And "Spider-Man 3," like the two pictures that preceded it, suffers from an overall lack of cohesiveness: The picture is entertaining enough as you're watching it, but afterward, the picture still feels like a bunch of events strung together, more than a rich, fluid whole.

But "Spider-Man 3" is a vast improvement on the last picture in the franchise -- in which the chemistry between M.J. and Peter was barely an afterthought -- and it's a deeper, richer picture than even the first "Spider-Man." Raimi and his co-writers have taken care to give the relationships between the characters more tangible contours than in the last picture, and the actors give better performances as a result. Dunst has more sparkle here, and Maguire draws some surprising creepiness out of his usual boy-next-door demeanor. Of all the actors here, though, Franco is the one who has improved with each successive picture: As a young man battling his own dark side, he brings smudgy layers of depth to a character that might otherwise be a cartoon. In one sequence, a verbal face-off with Peter, his left eye droops in a sinister, lazy appraisal of his sometime best friend; the moment suggests that Franco might have more to show us than most of his roles have required of him.

"Spider-Man 3" doesn't have the operatic dazzle of the first X-Men picture, or the
mournfully poetic quality of the often, and inexplicably, maligned
"Superman Returns." But Raimi at least manages to make it both huge and human. He also pulls off one of the most beautiful special effects I've ever seen, in any movie, a testament to the ways in which CGI, used right, can actually humanize a film. After Flint Marko -- a criminal who's done all the wrong things for the right reasons -- steps into that whirling particle-physics blender, he's no longer himself: He's a mound of sand, a one-man desert, and before our eyes he tries to re-form himself into some semblance of the man he used to be. As he tries to stand, rivers of sand run from his muscles. His contours take shape, fall away, and then stubbornly rebuild themselves: He's a piece of sculptural poetry, a song of being and becoming, a living, moving Henry Moore statue.

Now I hope that helps anyone sitting on the fence.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

MAC vs. PC (comic book style)

Staring Superman, Batman and Spider-man (there are more with just Supes and Spidey, go check 'em out!).

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FoxNews Takes al-Qaida For a Spin

That al-Qaida (or al-Qaeda if you prefer) tape I mentioned yesterday? Well, FoxNews has already started spinning it's message.

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No Main Topic

1. Too Little, Too Late: From survivors to family members, people agree that college was the worst place for Seung Hui Cho to be.

2. A More Convincing Actor, By Far: If Fred Thompson and John McCain are so similar, why does Thompson get all the conservative love?

3. Someone Needs to Check the Polls: Is it really just the anti-war groups pushing the Democrats, or the majority of the American people.

4. Get Some Help, Man: The Utah Jazz win, and once again a T-Mac-lead team can't make it out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

5. Thou Shalt Not Snort: The Vatican hands down its very first drug conviction.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

"Listen to the Words..."

Usually that phrase ends with either "al-Qaida" or "Osama bin Laden." It's a phrase frequently used by Republicans who still support President Bush strategy in Iraq. The message is more or less, "the enemy says Iraq is central on the War On Terror, so we should subcribe to the same premise."

Well, here are some other things al-Qaida has recently said:

"This bill [the one Democrats passed that Bush said would give 'timetables for surrender'] will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap."

"We ask Allah that they (U.S. troops) only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."

"Al-Qaida is not merely for the benefit of Muslims. That's why I want blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world."

So al-Qaida's #2 wants American soldiers to stay in Iraq so they can kill at least 200,000 of them, and they want all minorities, regardless of national origin and religion, to partake in an uprising.

A question for the "We Gotta Listen to al-Qaida" Crowd: should we take heed of these messages as well?

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Bill O'Reilly Lies Some More

In a sense, he can't be helped; it's much easier to make your critics look like lapdogs than to do some actual research. Anyway, Media Matters has debunked his little "George Soros funds everyone who criticizes me" argument and now they delve into O'Reilly's reaction to the Indiana University study (which discribes O'Reilly as being frequently "derogatory").


Really, Is It That Serious?

You can get a gun pretty easy in this country, but have a license plate that says "MPEACHW?" Well, that's outright dangerous (at least if you're in South Dakota).

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As I Run a Mile With a Racist

I agree with Logan Murphy of C&L: when racists and bigots go unchecked on the air-and-radiowaves, than candidates who aren't white men are eventually forced to acquire more sercurity.

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Taking Its Toll

From the WashPost:

More than one-third of U.S. soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.

In addition, about two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. "Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect," the Army report stated.

About 10 percent of the 1,767 troops in the official survey -- conducted in Iraq last fall -- reported that they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or needlessly damaging their possessions.

Army researchers "looked under every rock, and what they found was not always easy to look at," said S. Ward Casscells, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. The report noted that the troops' statements are at odds with the "soldier's rules" promulgated by the Army, which forbid the torture of enemy prisoners and state that civilians must be treated humanely.

I personally don't think it's the soldiers fault that they are beginning to feel this way. Their mission is constantly changing, not to mention unclear. They are forced to extend their tour. They are occupying a country that doesn't want them there. They don't have the proper body armor, and now may not even be allowed to blog their feelings and frustrations.

In other words: sooner or later, somethings gonna have to give.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

"Crouch"ing Tiger Decides to Hide the Dragon

As the latest member from the Bush Administration leaves to "spend time with the family," J. D. Crouch has a warning of sorts for who think that the president may change his mind:

Crouch, who has been President Bush's deputy national security adviser for more than two years, said the president never will be swayed by opposition to the war. Instead, Crouch said, Bush will use his resolve to help convince a broad section of Americans that it's important to be in Iraq.

Two questions: what "broad section" will he be addressing, and how will he convince them?

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WashPost Quickie

Thursday, May 03, 2007

You've Got Mail? Hand It Over!

From CNN:

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman issued a subpoena Wednesday to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in an attempt to get e-mails that President Bush's top political adviser sent regarding last year's firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Gonzales will have to appear before the committee if the Department of Justice does not respond to the subpoena for Karl Rove's e-mails by May 15.

Justice Department Spokesman Dean Boyd said the department had received the subpoena and was reviewing it.

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In Boston, This Is a Crime.

Anyone think that ESPN's Sports Guy will forgive New England Patriots QB Tom Brady for wearing a Yankees cap? The Boston Herald sure noticed.

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Pre-Emptive Crimes = Bad/Pre-Emptive War = Good

ThinkProgress has this post on the conservative effort to sabotage the new Hate Crimes Act where House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says:

I’ve got to tell you, I really don’t understand it. We’re going to put into place a federal law that says, not only will we punish you for the crime that you actually commit — the physical crime that you commit — but we’re also going to charge you with a crime that if we think that you were thinking bad things about this person before you committed a crime.

I just — I just really don’t understand it. I’ve been opposed to this for a long time and I remain opposed to it.

I mean, it’s a crime on what people were thinking when they were committing an act of violence. How do you walk into court and make a case for a crime because someone was thinking something bad. I just think it takes us down a path that is very scary.

Yeah, that's kind of like starting a war with a country because you think they're bad, or because you think they have weapons (but you don't have solid proof).

Someone needs to ask Mr. Boehner why the pre-emptive strike on Iraq was the right thing to do, but to preform pre-emptive strike on criminals (which this act doesn't do, BTW) is so gosh-darn wrong.

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Dennis the Menace (To Cheney)

US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gets a little help in his quest to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

I can understand why Kucinich may think that getting rid of Cheney could help in dealing with Iraq (as well as help the Democrats and his own chances to be president), but without either more numbers or at least two heavy hitters (aka, prominent Democrats) his battle will eventually come off as self-serving as best and fruitless at worst.

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Meet the "Commander Guy"

This must be Bush's superhero alter ego...or the result of being pressured by Congress to leave Iraq.


Laker "Upgrades": Was This Ever Really a Question?

Let me be honest here: I'm not as much a fan of the Lakers as an organisation as I am of certain players (like Magic and Shaq) and their Yankees-like determination to remain not only relevant in the NBA, but dominant.

So when I wrote my little old assessment on them, I thought what I said was obvious to everyone who follows the NBA regularly. I mean, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson aren't winning with a young team. My suggestion that they trade rosters with the Heat was a half-joke, but half-serious.

So imagine my surprise to see Marc Stein talk as if nobody could have foreseen the Lakers losing as they did to the Suns, and then making some suggestions to help them out. Key quotes:

...The concern, if you want to fret, is Bryant's patience. He will be forever blamed for running Shaq off, even though Lakers owner Jerry Buss wanted to trade Shaq more than Kobe and had the biggest say in it, but arguing about that now only distracts from the pressing issue: How much longer can Bryant take mediocrity before he starts to reconsider those plans about retiring in purple and gold?

...Jackson has always been happier coaching veterans and would surely prefer more seasoned role players around Bryant...

...Trading for Brown actually did make some sense at the time because the Lakers badly needed size. Two seasons later, though, Brown remains an injury-prone underachiever ... while Caron Butler has blossomed into an All-Star forward in the East and Washington's foremost tough guy. Worse yet, with teams going smaller and smaller in today's NBA, L.A. probably could have gotten away with playing Kobe, Odom and Butler as a trio more than it might have a few years back...

Yes, Stein says that the Lakers were never a championship team...well, if that was the consensus, then why were there these "Kobe finally learning to trust his teammates" stories popping up during the season? And why didn't Stein make more of a case for the Lakers getting Jason Kidd if he could see the iceberg? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Stein didn't really start hanging with the Lakers until the playoffs. Who knows?

Anyway, he's not the only one playing GM: Charley Rosen also has some tips.

The funniest thing here is that both guys seemed to have thought that Kwame Brown was going to become some kind of star in L.A. I saw that guy "play" for four years; me and every Wizard's fan could have told Rosen and Stein that Kwame is a bench player at best (credit Ernie Grunfeld for making one of the best trades in Wizard's history).

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cleaning Up the Wizards: Bursting Bubbles

Yesterday I made my case for keeping some key Wizards on the roster. In a nutshell: Washington can win 50 games with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison, Darius Songaila and Antonio Daniels as their starting five. And for his hustle in the playoffs, I said Andre Blatche deserves another chance on the team.

So now, allow me to assess the players on the bubble: guys who play (or lack thereof) may not have been as consistent as the ones above, or as impressive, but still deserve consideration. This group includes DeShawn Stevenson, Jarvis Hayes, Donell Taylor, Roger Mason and Michael Ruffin.

Let me say this before I get started: I'm not calling for drastic changes here. As Mike Wise, Michael Wilbon and Thomas Boswell all hinted (in one way or another), blowing the team up isn't necessary. But some guys deserve more scrutiny than others.

So why are these players on the bubble? Well...

Stevenson was brought in for defense; specifically to fill the defensive void Jared Jeffries created with his departure to the Knicks. While he didn't have the "defensive stats" one would expect for a player in his role, I saw enough games to understand how he had a hand in disrupting the opposing team's offense. My concern with him was not he couldn't come through offensively in the Playoffs (he went from 11pts/game to 6pts/game which is understandable considering he didn't have as many high-percentage opportunities with Butler and Arenas out), it's that he failed to show up defensively. His job is/was to stop/slow down the opposing team's best scoring guard, which in this case was Larry Hughes (it's ridiculous to ask him to guard LaBron James). Hughes went from 14.pts/game in the regular season to 19pts/game in the playoffs. Now you tell me: would the Wizards have been better off with Stevenson trying to keep his average up, or holding Hughes average low? Let me just add that Stevenson's drop plus Hughes' rise equals a near ten-point swing in the Cavs favor.

Despite what some detractors may believe, Hayes does have "J." What he doesn't have is the right to live up to this comparison, that was made around the time he was drafted: "Mitch Richmond with defense." Now for those who don't know Mitch (who was hear for awhile until the Michael Jordan Era) this was a guy who played defense threw his offense: he was such a proficient scorer, the guy guarding him would barely have the energy to make a layup on the other end. Does that sound like Hayes to you? It doesn't to me. I see Hayes becoming more like a Glenn Rice: a very good shooter and OK "scorer" whose defense will be occasional (to say the least). Problem is, he won't led his team unless he's their best player, and Hayes is not a franchise guy by any stretch. To make matters worse, he's not the type to drive to the basket in order to get a score or foul (has he ever taken a hit going to the hoop like Daniels or Arenas?) Granted, this was his first Playoff Series and he had an unexpected role. And too his credit, he raised his game some in those four games. That's why we have to consider the regular season and the post-season.

I'm lumping Taylor and Mason together because neither received much playing time (although Mason played all four games). Among the bench players this season Mason one of the best 3-pt-shooters and he carried that over into the Playoffs. Taylor's speed on offense gave Cleveland minor fits, but more importantly it led to the most assists for a non-starter (tied with Songaila). Both guys showed the hustle and grit you need if your team plans to run 80% of the time.

Last we have Ruffin. I love his "hustle stats" and the little things he's done to keep the team in and win games this season. But I can't help but dwell on that Toronto game; the one where he inexplicably threw the ball partially in the air and it eventually became a Raptor Desperation Three that put the Wizards in an overtime game that led to their defeat. Had they one that game, would they have been playing Toronto instead? It's a very real possibility. And if that had occurred, maybe we'd be talking about the next Wizards game instead of who needs to stay and who needs to go. It's not fair that this happened to Ruffin, but in truth you have to wonder whether it could ever happen again.

Now if you're looking for me to say, "Well Player A can stay but Player B's has to go" here, don't hold you're breath. All these guys are on the bubble in my book, meaning they have a small margin of error (compared to the first set of guys) from this point on.

Next: The guys we could afford to lose...or could keep, but it's no big deal either way. And the one player who absolutely, positively, must go.

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Sometimes I Can't Believe These Guys Are Running Our Country.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) tries to compare the conflict in Iraq to a baseball rivalry. Someone call Stephanie Miller and tell her we have another entry for "Really Bad Analogies."

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Just a Little Off The Topic

Media Matters contributor Eric Boehlert has a tongue-in-cheek suggestion:

Only because it would save time and make them more efficient, I think members of the Beltway press corps should consider starting up a new reporting pool, to duplicate the one currently in place for shadowing the president; the one that boasts a rotating cast of reporters who cover his every mundane move and then share the information. Except, instead of tailing the president at each public event, this new media pool would focus exclusively on the grooming habits of leading Democrats.

As he notes, the obsession with something that's more an odd story than a scandal is creepy at best. You would think political news people (reporters, pundits and bloggers) would talk about the politics of political people, not their haircuts. You would think. But sadly we leave in a world of "infotainment" which makes it easier for them to act like SNL sketch comedians one day then become astute political reporters the next.

One last thing: I think Brian Williams should be the last person to ask John Edwards about looks and grooming.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Once Again, Battle-Ready

I was wrong about Bush, he did have the balls to veto the Iraq Spending Bill on the aniversary of Mission Accomplished.

Too bad some retired generals think he's failed the military:

The President vetoed our troops and the American people. His stubborn commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq is incomprehensible. He committed our great military to a failed strategy in violation of basic principles of war. His failure to mobilize the nation to defeat world wide Islamic extremism is tragic. We deserve more from our commander-in-chief and his administration.--Maj. Gen. John Batiste, USA, Ret.

Bush can at least look forward to the fact that CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre said he couldn't sign the bill (whatever that means).

But I guess the challenge between those who support the President and those who support the Democratically-controlled Congress is this: was this bill strictly a withdrawal bill (as the WashPost suggests) or was it a spending bill with strings attached? How this thing gets defined will determines who wins this fight.

Prepare for another battle.

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Copy Cats

Cleaning Up the Wizards: Part One

As the DC Optimist puts it: "At least we aren't the Heat." Amen. Yet, sadly, changes have to be made. Yesterday I broke down where I think every current player stands. today I'll start to explain why, but before I do that some quick notes:

  1. Now's not the time for wish lists. I'm not going to go crazy an suggest some trade for Kevin Garnett or anything like that. Keep that mess for the fantasy blogs and the NBA video games.

  2. Piggybacking to #1: I'm only talking about the current players, who should stay and who should go. If they have value to someone else, then by all means trade them.

  3. Now's not the time to pull punches. The grades I gave out for the starters, the bench and the rest will factor in, but just like in school where the final exam has more weight, I'm counting Playoff Performance alot more. This may mean that some players' grades may change (for better or for worse).

No with that, let's get back to the program...


Yesterday I place players in the following categories:

UNTOUCHABLES: Gilbert Arenas, Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler

LEASE W/THE OPTION TO BUY: Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Michael Ruffin, Andre Blatche

BUBBLE PLAYERS: DeShawn Stevenson, Jarvis Hayes, Etan Thomas

50/50 PLAYERS: Donell Taylor, Mike Hall, Roger Mason, Calvin Booth

ANCHORS: Brendan Haywood

I'm making some changes based on overall Playoff Performance:

UNTOUCHABLES: Gilbert Arenas, Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler

LEASE W/THE OPTION TO BUY: Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Andre Blatche

BUBBLE PLAYERS: DeShawn Stevenson, Jarvis Hayes, Donell Taylor, Roger Mason, Michael Ruffin

50/50 PLAYERS: Etan Thomas, Mike Hall, Calvin Booth

ANCHORS: Brendan Haywood

Now for the why:

For the Untouchables, I think it should go without saying. Arenas: the team's best player, not to mention their "energy"...hit so many game winners, you'd be crazy to get rid of him...his craziest off-the-court issues weren't even made public by the press until the last season ended, which tells you that the Wizards organization and the local media has his back...was willing to just stand in the corner and shoot threes despite barely being able to walk after his injury...could have won the MVP on his stats and personality alone, if not for the injury...Jamison: a guy who understands what he is, and that doesn't include defensive dynamo, so what does he do? Maximize his talents to the fullest...the heart of this team, hands down...could average 15-and-5 easy just on chippies and broken plays...busted his ass to try and get the team just one win in this playoff series (averaged 32pts/game which was only 5pts lower than the next three top averages for the team)...Butler: the mental muscle, aka "Tuff Juice"...averaged 19pts, 7 boards, 2 steals and over 3 assists per game-in other words, "a pretty damn complete player"...even with those stats, has talked about improving his game...was seriously considering ripping off his cast and playing Games 3 and 4 until wiser heads (read coach Eddie Jordan) prevailed. In other words, these three together are good to take your team to the top of the division, and if you have some rebounders, defenders and young legs who like to run you can stay there. Even in this injury-riddled season, they squeezed out 41 wins; this is potentially a 50-win team when all the important parts are realitivily healthy.

Then there are guys we should lease with the option to buy. In other words, they compliment the Untouchables very well, but we shouldn't break the bank on them. I think the Playoffs showed that Daniels is the backcourt mate Arenas needs, even moreso than Stevenson. Daniels has the versitility that Larry Hughes displayed when he was here, with the added experience of playing on a championship team (the Spurs). And for a guy who was injured early this season, Songaila was solid in the Playoffs; his activity harassed Cleveland more than any big man, his scoring kept Thomas and Haywood planted on the bench, and his passion (I think) helped inspired the younger players. Andre Blatche proved he could play in a "must win" game, so that experiment's over. Now he has to get regular minutes and then prove he can contribute to winning a "must win" game.

So check this lineup out and tell me it can't win 50 with a competent bench: Songaila (center), Jamison (power forward), Butler (small forward), Arenas (shooting guard) and Daniels (point guard). Eddie Jordan uses the Princeton Offense so the guard and forward position are interchangeable. Songaila adds much needed scoring and passing to the middle (which is a crucial element of the Princeton Offense; it's doesn't work that well with traditional centers). What are the pluses? How does 100+pts/game, 22 dimes per game, and some of the most exciting basketball you ever seen sound? What are the minuses? They would be one injury away from being a .500 club, there's not a stopper in the bunch and rebounding would have to be a team effort or they'd get creamed on the boards. But still...with at least Blatche, a decent swingman, and another 6'4"-to-6'6" guard with handle and a nice stroke, this team wins 50 games, right? As it stands, who would stop that group from getting into the Finals? Just Chicago and Detriot, maybe?

Anyway, the bottom line is this: If you're thinking about getting rid of any of the Big Three, you better make sure you're bringing in someone who can help keep their combinded scoring average around 67pts/game. And as for the second tier: you could probably find three players who are better, but (1) would they compliment the Big Three, (2) how much would they cost, and (3) are you getting them in their prime?

Next: we move on to the players that we can afford to lose.

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Happy Anniversary

While G. W. Bush jerks around, let us remember why today is so special in American-Iraq history: tons and tons of GOP talking points.

P.S. He's in Tampa, Florida, because he didn't want to veto the bill he hates so much on the anniversary of his "Mission Accomplished" speech. Talk about cowardice. If he doesn't agree and wants the bill he asked for so badly, he should have just vetoed it as soon as possible. But that's what we get in the "Age of PR Politics".

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