Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quick Hits...

I'm still enjoying my time in the real world, but here are two stories I just had to post:

The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto: In the wake of Musharraf's decision to "take off his uniform" (finally), this is the last thing anyone hoping for peace in the Middle East wanted. While few would be surprised that it happened, (you got the sense in Bhutto's interviews that she expected it to happen sooner or later), she will most likely go down as a martyr in the truest sense. I'm not certain if there is anyone like her around to fill the void, but this can't be good for the stability of the country. As far of the US is concerned, it's just another example of the Bush Administration being associated with allies who are as best pale examples of a stable modern democracy, and at worst very shady and borderline dictatorial. But Pakistan's story hasn't been written yet.

And this guy: a married man who slept with 13 women in one week. The doctor was right in calling him a "sociopathic sex addict" because not only is he's addicted to sex, he doesn't seem to care about how his actions effect those around him. Personally, I don't understand why people like this even bother getting married in the first place.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Yule Blog

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For the guys who haven't bought gifts yet, don't sweat it: this thing just happens.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Iran's Iraqi Influence


The Iranian government has decided "at the most senior levels" to rein in the violent Shiite militias it supports in Iraq, a move reflected in a sharp decrease in sophisticated roadside bomb attacks over the past several months, according to the State Department's top official on Iraq.

Tehran's decision does not necessarily mean the flow of those weapons from Iran has stopped, but the decline in their use and in overall attacks "has to be attributed to an Iranian policy decision," David M. Satterfield, Iraq coordinator and senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in an interview.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker said that the decision, "should [Tehran] choose to corroborate it in a direct fashion," would be "a good beginning" for a fourth round of talks between Crocker and his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad. Although the mid-December date scheduled for the talks was postponed, Crocker said he expects that the parties will convene "in the next couple of weeks."

In other words: President Bush's surge is not the sole reason for the decrease in violence in Iraq. This puts the Bush Administration in an interesting position: to admit this also acknowledges a (presumed) attempt by Iran to deescalate the tensions between them and the US; to deny Iran's level of influence in this instance raises the question: "Then why the 'World War III' reference?"

As it stands, Secretary of State Robert Gates says that "the jury's still out."

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No Main Topic

  1. Jessica Simpson wasn't at the Cowboy's game, but she made her presence known.

  2. John McCain and Barack Obama move up in the polls.

  3. Once a strong point for President Bush, No Child Left Behind has turned in a political weapon for the Democrats.

  4. Injuries and lack of playmakers may have finally caught up with the Washington Wizards.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

No Main Topic

  1. The presidential wannabes give their take on executive power.
  2. Vacuuming can kill fleas. Really.
  3. The Wizards missed it by that much last night.
  4. Before the CIA was destroying tapes, they were withholding them from the 9/11 Panel.
  5. Narcissurfing and preforming Friendquests may seem like a way to acquire Blogola, but it's really a Meatball Sundae that could result in your Disintermediation. And yes, I was clueless on this myself.


Friday, December 21, 2007

(Possibly) Hillary Clinton's Biggest Problem

Eugene Robinson pretty much explains it with this story:

When the Clintons made a campaign stop at an Iowa grocery store Tuesday, Hillary's face said it all. She realized that Bill had departed from the script and wandered off to another part of the store, and cameras caught her scanning the aisles with a look of sheer terror. Bill was supposed to be at Hillary's side; instead, he was way over yonder, giving an interview to "Entertainment Tonight." What was supposed to be a controlled photo op had suddenly turned into a happening.

Spontaneity gives ulcers to campaign staffers, but the supermarket stop got much more coverage than it would have if Bill had followed the script. He ended up drawing more attention to himself than the candidate -- which is in keeping with his formal campaign speeches. On the stump, he draws big crowds and comes off as charming, eloquent and persuasive. But reporters who have tallied his words say that he talks more about himself than about his wife -- at a ratio of about 9 to 1.

Not clear enough? OK, here's more:

Does anyone think that William Jefferson Clinton would confine himself to the bland, inoffensive pronouncements we've come to expect from presidential spouses? I'd give him two weeks of ribbon-cuttings and ceremonial visits before he felt compelled -- and perhaps entitled -- to jump into policy. Clearly, the smart thing would be to give him a portfolio of his own rather than let him play hopscotch.

Yes, America...Hillary's biggest problem may center around Bill. But is has less (if anything) to do with the ordeals surrounding his impeachment (he was enjoying a 70% approval rating at the time) and more to do with his approach to being the First Spouse. Republicans dropped a brick when Hillary "dared" to get involved in Health Care when she was first lady; Bill is sure to be three times as involved in policy matters as Hillary was (he already offered to tour the world with Bush I, the guy he kicked out).

Hillary's stuck on this one. She needs Bill to remind people about the "Good Ol' Days," but she can't promise change with him vowing a virtual repeat of his presidency (as Robinson mentions, NAFTA promises to be an entertaining exchange between the two). Nor can she get the crowd to focus on her with him charming the audience.

If she can't get her husband to focus on some key points of her campaign and stop acting like they're running for "Co-President," Hillary Clinton's individuality is going to take a major hit.

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And Remember, They Only Have Six Healthy Players...

By the numbers, the Wizards are exceeding expectations for defense, rebounding and (of course) individual achievement. Right now, the only Eastern Conference fans I envy are in Boston and Orlando.

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Writer's Strike Update

I'm split on the decision to bring back The Daily Show and The Colbert Report without the writers. On one hand, the two shows are funny, informative and entertaining. On the other hand, it's essentially a betrayal of the writers.

Not to long ago, United Hollywood and had these guy's backs. But after this? Well:

The WGA reacted angrily to the announcement, saying: "Comedy Central forcing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back on the air will not give the viewers the quality shows they've come to expect."

Also of note: David Letterman (who owns his own show) is planing on making a separate deal with his writers to bring his show back. Jay Leno and Conan OBrien are coming back too, sans their writers; like Ellen Degeneres (who caught some major heat for this) their show with just be interviews and improv, no skits, sketches or monologues.

Want to keep up with the strike from the writer's POV? Try this site.

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No Main Topic

  1. Gary Payton wants in on all the Boston Goodness (specifically with the Celtics). On paper it looks OK, but there's has to be a chemistry factor to consider, right?

  2. Another day, another suicide bomber in Iraq.

  3. Movies for the Scrooge in your family.

  4. Holiday shoppers are going wild for Wii.

  5. You'd be amazed what you'd find in a new pair of sneakers.

  6. Bill Richardson argues that his experience as an ambassador gives him an edge.
  7. Rats!
  8. If you're pregnant or no someone who is, you need to know the myths.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Around the Internets

  1. Why did the chicken cross the road? Let's ask the presidential candidates!

  2. Mitt Romney actually said that his Dad marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I can't believe this guy. You know how the conservatives and neoconservatives painted John Kerry as a lying flip-flopper, even though is wasn't true? Well, if that's the case, Romney is obviously the Bizarro Kerry because he is a lying flip-flopper.

  3. Think Progress cover Rep. Wexler's quest for Executive Branch accountability.

  4. From TPMuckracker: Sen. Majority Leader Reid ain't gonna let President Bush sneak any appointments during the break.

  5. Michael Wilbon on Wiz Coach Eddie Jordan and his determination to get the team back on track.


Mourning in the NBA

As someone who was a Georgetown fan (before I went to Maryland) I was also a big fan of the centers the John Thompson churned out. So it's kinda sad to hear that Alonzo Mourning may have to call it quits.

Here's a guy who -between the likes of Ewing and Mutombo- was once considered to be the last of the Great Hoya Centers to have the opportunity to win a NBA Championship Ring. Ewing was a better scorer; Mutombo was a better defensive player. Both were bigger/taller. If anything, 'Zo won on the energy/passion scale, but it was that energy and passion that contributed to many early exits on his Miami teams (but it was mostly Pat Riley's fault).

Nevertheless, the guy persevered. And two seasons ago, he finally got his prize. It may not have come the way he wanted (in a reserve role playing Shaq's backup) but I don't think it matters once you actually get that gold around your finger. And now, even after getting that ring, he hasn't let up. Some players are prone to mailing it in after reaching the mountain top; Mourning is the type who looks for another mountain.

I hope he comes back, if for anything to finish the season. In a League where the best big men rarely want to even go near the paint, we need more 'Zos.

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Jessica Alba is transforming into Keri Russell right in front of our eyes. I wouldn't have recognized her if not for the caption.
This means no more action films and silly comedies. She'll be in a Jodie Foster/Meg Ryan-like "Strong Mom Fighting for Her Family" movie in no time. And going by the look on Cash Warren's face, he wouldn't have it any other way.
OK, I'm kidding. She looks fine. But her "single lady roles" are OVA.

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Studying Abroad...

In an update of a story about how 59% of al Qaeda terrorists entering Iraq are either from Libya or Saudi Arabia, we learn that those being recruited aren't dummies:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most al Qaeda fighters in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia and Libya and many are university-aged students, said a study released on Wednesday by researchers at the U.S. Army's West Point military academy.

The study was based on 606 personnel records collected by al Qaeda in Iraq and captured by coalition troops in October. It includes data on fighters who entered Iraq, largely through Syria, between August 2006 and August 2007...


...According to the study, the average age of the 606 fighters who entered over that one-year period was 24-25. One was 15 years old.

Young, educated and not a big fan of the United States or her policies. How did they get there? Here's a quick refresher:

The officials added that, based on the captured documents and other intelligence, they believe that the Sinjar cell that was raided in September was responsible for the smuggling of foreign fighters along a stretch of the border from Qaim, in Anbar, almost to the border with Turkey, a length of nearly 200 miles. They said that was why they were confident that the cell was responsible for such a large portion of the incoming foreign fighters.

American military and diplomatic officials who discussed the flow of fighters from Saudi Arabia were careful to draw a distinction between the Saudi government and the charities and individuals who they said encouraged young Saudi men to fight in Iraq. After United States officials put pressure on Saudi leaders in the summer, the Saudi government took some steps that have begun to curb the flow of fighters, the officials said.

We also get a motive for the Saudi government's foot dragging:

Yet the senior American military officials said they also believed that Saudi citizens provided the majority of financing for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. “They don’t want to see the Shias come to dominate in Iraq,” one American official said.

Back to the Reuters story: what do the military officials have to say about the younger, smarter terrorists being raised? It's a mix of concern and sage advice.

"The incitement of a new generation of jihadis to join the fight in Iraq, or plan operations elsewhere, is one of the most worrisome aspects of the ongoing fight in Iraq," they wrote.

"The United States should not confuse gains against al-Qa'ida's Iraqi franchises as fundamental blows against the organization outside of Iraq. So long as al-Qa'ida is able to attract hundreds of young men to join its ranks, it will remain a serious threat to global security."

Remember those words the next time President Bush claims that progress has been made.

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The Sports Guy Ranks Arenas...

...and he puts him at the 27th most valuable player, right before Detriot's Chauncey Billups. Here's his take:

Here's where you have to love the "Trade Value" game: Who turns down a Billups-Arenas swap, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld or Pistons GM Joe Dumars?

The answer? Both would turn it down even though it's a fairly logical trade for both teams. Detroit increases its ceiling as a team (right now, it's second round and out) and gets a blue-chip scorer and gate attraction to keep up with LeBron in the Central; Washington gets an unselfish winner who makes everyone else better and gives it stability for once. That's a nice trade. In the end, Joe Dumars would flinch well before Ernie Grunfeld did -- he'd worry about Gilbert's impending free agency, he'd worry about going over the luxury tax and wrecking his salary structure this summer, and he'd definitely worry about Gilbert's knee problems and the curious way the Wizards came together as a team as soon as Gilbert went away. Ernie would flinch only because of the age difference (four years) and the local ramifications of
dealing the most popular Wizard/Bullet in 30 years. Either way, a fun argument.

Yes, it is a fun argument. And it's not like Arenas isn't talking about trades and player's value himself. But Simmons missed one key factor: Arenas is more than popular; he's "The Man" in DC. Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler may be team captains, but they weren't playing the role of Captain Clutch last season, and they weren't commanding double-teams on a regular basis. Regardless of how well they are doing now, they need him (as last night proves). It's his team.

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No Main Topic

  1. Britney Spears didn't know that her 16-year-old sister was preggers. Surprise!

  2. Rudy 9iu11ani gives up on New Hampshire and Iowa.

  3. Bollywoood is making its move...

  4. Curt Schilling wants Roger Clemings to cut the crap.

  5. Like the American victims of Hurricane Katrina, Iraqi refugees just can't go back home.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Does Four Minutes Make That Much Difference?

Yes DC, there is a Santa Claus...and he's given us a new Brendan Haywood. But don't tell the Wizards' resident 7-footer that:

To hear Haywood explain it, he is averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 56.2 percent because he is on the court more -- averaging a career-high 26.6 minutes per game -- and has been asked to carry a larger load than at any time during his first six seasons.

"There's nothing I've done differently," Haywood said. "I have always had a business approach to my work ethic and I've always worked hard during the offseason. . . . It's just always good to know that you are the guy and you don't have to worry about your spot being taken if you have two bad games. Knowing that I'm basically the five-man and I have that spot to myself right now and I don't have to worry about sharing with anybody, that definitely helps me out a lot."

There is no question that Haywood's performance and attitude have drastically improved since last season when he split time as a starter with Etan Thomas and averaged 6.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 block in 22.6 minutes.

By averaging 4 more mpg, Haywood's averages in points, rebounds and blocks shot up by 3.9, 1.8 and 0.7 respectively. But I think (as Haywood himself says) it has more to do with his status on the team as the definitive center than his actual playing time.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Like Nixon With a Bible (*More* Red Flags)

Wow. More on Mike Huckabee.

After seeing his "Vote for Me If You Love Jesus"ad (and Ron Paul's hilarious response), I have to say that a Huckabee Administration would no doubt merge Church and State in a way unheard of during the George W. Bush Administration.

And to give you an ever clearer picture of how, PERRspectives has not one, but two "Top Ten" lists on Huckabee's more extreme views/quotes, including:

Huckabee Enables the Politically-Motivated Parole of Repeat Rapist/Murderer
Huckabee Offers Faith-Based Pardons
Huckabee Proclaims His Theology Degree a Unique Qualification to Fight Terrorism
Huckabee Vows to Take Nation Back for Christ

Huckabee Declares Culture War in 1998 Book
Huckabee Declares Women Should Graciously Submit to Their Husbands
Huckabee Predicts Victory over Islam at the End of Times
Huckabee Boasts About Theology Degree He Doesn't Have
Huckabee Destroys His State Computer Records - and Church Sermons
Huckabee Offers Clemency to Repeat DWI Offender (and GOP Donor)

The only other person I can think of who has been able to make people overlook his true nature with a cordial manner and soft-spoken words is Isiah Thomas, the man who ruined the Toronto Raptors, the Indians Pacers, the CBA and is now currently taking a chainsaw to the New York Knicks...all while smiling that innocent smile.

But Huckabee sounds worse, way worse: it's like he's Nixon with a Bible.

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Mike Huckabee's Red Flag

I don't exactly believe in a person being punished for the actions or another family member, but you have to question Mike Huckabee's parenting skills when you hear stories like this.

Now what does this say about Huckabee as a potential president? Well, in regards to his son's actions, not much...but if Huckabee did go to great lengths to cover up Junior's trespasses, who's to say he wouldn't do that if he fucks up during his first term in office? One quick call to the FBI, CIA or Justice Department and...viola! Problem ignored and averted!

Things like this are what some people call "Red Flags."

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  1. The National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda receives a pledge from MD Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
  2. Ashley Tisdale (of "The Suite Life" and "High School Musical") on her new nose.
  3. Russia fuels Iran; Bush bites his tongue.
  4. Jessica Simpson gets blamed for Cowboys' Tony Romo's poor performance.
  5. In Italy, you can't name your kid Friday.
  6. A review of Mary J. Blige's new album.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Somthing to Smile About

I missed "The Dark Knight" trailer when I went to see "I Am Legend" recently (which was pretty good BTW) , but now that I've seen looks like director Christopher Nolan and actor Heath Ledger have come through with this incarnation of the Joker.

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Getting Racial In Iowa

OK, seriously: what the hell does OJ Simpson have to do with Barack Obama or John Edwards? Sure, Obama is black and so is OJ. Sure, Edwards talks about socio-economic disparities -in has occasionally mentioned such disparities in race- and OJ is relatively well-off financially (or as well as one could be after avoiding a guilty charge for double-murder).

But really; are the people in Iowa so caught up in race, are they so detached on how a majority of black people (and not just those in California) felt about OJ, that they think they need either Edwards or Obama to make some kind of "I won't let black people off the hook" pledge?

Or is it just that the guy who asked it is in the minority, and he's a little screwy?

Oh, and Obama: Harold Ford did not lose because of his race, but he did lose because of the racist feelings that still infect his home state.

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No Main Topic

  1. Can all 5 million of Virginia's drivers get their licenses without a hitch?

  2. Go, Will Smith, Go!

  3. As the strike continues, the writers take their cause up with web start-ups.

  4. Turkey makes their presence felt in northern Iraq.

  5. Bostocalypse.

  6. In MD: the mayor of Annapolis isn't happy with the court's decision on giving retired police and firefighters more pension.


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Butterfly Effect

Tom Tomorrow has a funny cartoon on the initial neo-conservative reaction to the latest NIE report on Iran.

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"The Man in the Iron Mask"

Crooks and Liars has a great post on Don Siegelman, who is essentially a political prisoner:

In the final installment of Dan Abrams’ Bush League Justice which looks at the infuriating case of Don Siegelman. A credible Democratic rival to Republican Rob Riley’s race for the governorship of Alabama, it appears that Karl Rove pulled strings with the DoJ to have Siegelman charged not once, but twice, with corruption and using loyal Republican US Attorneys and judges (some of whom actually worked on Riley’s campaign and refused to recuse themselves), convicted and imprisoned Don Siegelman on shaky evidence and even now prevent Don from speaking to anyone.

There's more.

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Why I Like Wikipedia:

Because it allows people to cut through the fat of things like the Mitchell Report and tell people what they want to know: which baseball players were mentioned, and in what context.

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Putting a Spell On Me...

Awsome. Totally, completely awesome.

I know the team didn't want to focus on beating the Heat in regards to streaks and the like, but I still remember that playoff matchup when Miami beat them with Shaq&Wade, w/out Shaq, w/out Wade and w/out either. So to beat this team, with their two star players is monumental.

Sure, Shaq's going through some personal stuff (and if rumors are true, so is Wade) but it's not like the Wiz players don't have personal live with ups or downs. So, we can't use that as an excuse.

Coach Eddie Jordan's version of the Princeton Offense was running as well as it has been all season, as evidenced by the shared scoring load (five players in double figures) and open looks that players like DeShawn Stevenson got (is Pat Riley even using his scouts anymore?).

I mean, even Charley Rosen gives the Wiz props.

What I did notice was this: the Wiz held the Heat to 91pts. In the team's last four wins, they've held their opponents to 88, 89, 86 and 97 points. For a team known for defense, that's terrible. But for the Wizards -a team known for filling the basket- that's pretty damn good.

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No Main Topic

  1. More fallout from the Bush Administration: "US factory prices have risen at their highest rate in 34 years, raising inflation fears at a time of interest rate cuts to help the wider economy."

  2. Another 2007 Top Ten: Best and Worst Movie Trailers.

  3. In DC: a bike officer was hit by a limo.

  4. The legacy of Jack Kent Cooke.

  5. A look at how the immigration debate is impacting Hispanics. Hint: they're not happy.

  6. Scientists in South Korea have designed glow-in-the-dark cats. Really.

  7. Madonna is one of a few new inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  8. A new highway between Vietnam and China could literally and socially bring them together.

  9. Looks like no team was spared from the Mitchell Report. Fortunately, football, NASCAR and basketball are currently more popular sports.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

"You'll end up in pink underwear on the chain gang."

This is one way to get a message across:

PHOENIX - A sheriff known for housing inmates in old military tents has a new idea — a chain gang of drunken driving convicts wearing pink shirts and performing burials of people who died of alcohol abuse.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he wants the chain gang to act as a deterrent to potential drunken drivers. He has already used the color pink on inmates — he issued them pink underwear.

"Maybe this will warn people — knock it off, don't drink and drive," Arpaio said. "You'll end up in pink underwear on the chain gang."

On Tuesday, 15 county jail inmates cleaned up a busy east city street while wearing the shirts, which say "Sheriff D.U.I. Chain Gang" on the back and "Clean(ing) and Sober" on the front.

Inmate Michael McDaniel, who is serving a four-month sentence for aggravated DUI and driving on a suspended license, said he volunteered for the chain gang to get out of the jail tents.

"It's good to get out of the tents and be in the public," the 30-year-old Glendale resident said.

"Hopefully it keeps someone from drinking and driving."

McDaniel said he found his attire "a little embarrassing."

"I don't like the color pink, but I can live with it," he said.

It's not water boarding, but I'm sure it will get the desired effect.

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Not Letting Up

Britain's new Prime Minister is holding firm with regards to Iran:

LONDON (AP) — Sanctions against Iran are still necessary despite an assessment from U.S. intelligence claiming Tehran has abandoned its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Thursday.

Brown, who has pushed for stronger sanctions to target Iran's oil and gas industries, said the Iranian regime has not offered a full explanation of why it is enriching uranium.

The United States and allies have long claimed Iran's nuclear program is a cover for the development of nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it is seeking to generate electricity, but Brown said the regime had offered little proof.

"If Iran is enriching uranium or seeking to do so, in a context where it has no real programs for civil nuclear power, there is a question mark over what motive ... and over the purpose of what the enrichment of uranium could, in a very short period of time, lead to," Brown told a parliamentary committee.

"The world is right to insist by sanctions that Iran comes back into line," Brown said.

I'm not sure how exactly Iran can prove to Brown that nothing shady is going on (is Brown willing to go to Iran himself to check things out?), but I think that as long as the weapon of choice is sanctions, Brown is on the right track. This option worked with Iraq (as we found out when we got there) and the latest NIE report has confirmed that Iran is not the big threat President Bush and Co. made it out to be. That said, Iran should not be ignored, especially with a leader who says things like the Holocaust never happened.

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Will This Picture Become Reality?

If you've worked for the Bush Administration, there's a good chance that you'll need a lawyer when you leave. Just ask these guys:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to hold two top aides to President Bush in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate in its probe of fired federal prosecutors.

On a largely party-line vote of 11-7, the Democratic-led panel sent contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to the full Senate for consideration.

The question remains: will the Democrats keep pushing once Bush and the GOP start to fight back?

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Maybe It Was That Attempt to Create a Dictatorship...

Well, surprise, surprise! More than half of Pakistanis want President Musharraf to not only take off his uniform, but to just take off:

The first comprehensive public opinion poll conducted in Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency last month has found that 67 percent of Pakistanis want him to resign immediately and that 70 percent say his government does not deserve re-election.

The poll suggests that Mr. Musharraf will have to engage in substantial vote rigging to have the government of his choice win national elections on Jan. 8.

And that's not all folks. In case you're wondering how this impacts the US:

The survey also calls into question the view in the United States of Mr. Musharraf as a leader who can effectively rule Pakistan and deliver in the campaign against terrorism. And it suggests that civil unrest could erupt if Mr. Musharraf were to win the election.

Also, the poll says that the people aren't found of the US-based idea of Musharraf and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. But wait, there's more! Punchline:

The poll was conducted by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group based in Washington that is affiliated with the Republican Party and promotes democracy abroad. The results were provided to The New York Times before their release on Thursday.

HA! So the Republican Party, whose leader (President Bush) supports Mushy 1000% was part of a group who conducted a poll that concluded that Mushy's own people don't want him around anymore. I'm sure they were hoping for more...rosier news.

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The Right to...Draw Blades?

Talk about a "sharp" stance:

LONDON (Reuters) - The government said Wednesday it would ban the sale of samurai swords because the weapons had been used in a number of serious, high-profile attacks.

The Home Office said the swords would be added to the Offensive Weapons Order from April next year, meaning they could not be imported, sold or hired.

However collectors of genuine Japanese swords and those used by martial arts enthusiasts would be exempt from the ban.

"In the wrong hands, samurai swords are dangerous weapons," Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said.

"We recognize it is the cheap, easily available samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial arts enthusiasts."

I can't believe that Coaker guy actually used the "in the wrong hands" line. If he starts talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think the Men in White Coats need to come and take him to the Happy Hotel.

Something like this would not fly in the weapons-loving, gungasmic United States.

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No Main Topic

  1. Jessica Alba is preggers; deal with it. Yeah, Oliver, I know: Cash Warren is scum. But look at it this way: Alba's now a MILF, and there's always Roselyn Sanchez.
  2. President Bush doesn't want little kids to be healthy: he vetoed SCHIP again.
  3. Another day in Iraq, another bomb that kills and wounds people.
  4. It looks like Blue Shield is more interested in covering its own ass these days.
  5. Jodie Foster comes out; deal with it.
  6. Al Sharpton gets attention, but it's the type he doesn't like.
  7. This is either a reason not to take public transportation, or the background for a new Stephen King novel.
  8. Is the inclusion of reality show writers a hindrance for the WGA?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

R.I.P.: Ike Turner

The First Step Is Admitting That You Have a Problem

President Bush decided now's the time to talk about his past partnership with Liquid Courage:

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Bush spoke more candidly than ever before about his past alcohol addiction.

"I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer and wine and all that," the president disclosed Tuesday to ABC News' Martha Raddatz during an exclusive tour of the White House residence.

The president told ABC News he quit drinking over 20 years ago -- cold turkey.

"I had too much to drink one night, and the next day I didn't have any," Bush said. "The next day I decided to quit and I haven't had a drink since 1986."

"And you did it just cold turkey?" asked Raddatz.

"I'm a better man for it," Bush said.

The president said his alcohol problem wasn't severe, but said he still had a hard time quitting.

Interesting that Bush didn't think he had a "severe" problem, yet decided it was necessary to quit. Personally, I've always been skeptical of people quitting an addiction cold turkey and by themselves, because unless you open up and get support, it's just so easy to justify minor "slip-ups" and find yourself back where you started. Combine that slippery-slope with Bush's trademark stubbornness and penchant to reject criticism, and I can't imagine what a staffer would do if they ever caught this man stumbling down the hallway of the White House with a 40oz.

That being said: if he's really been sober this long, more power to him; the last thing this country needs is a drunk Bush with access to the world's most powerful army and an array of nuclear weapons.

And for those that are wondering: if the date he gives for quitting is accurate, that would put it sometime between his running for Congress and going to work for his (then President) father.

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A History of Violence

The jail in Abaetetuba, Brazil has been closed, and considering it's history, that's a good thing.

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All Around the World the Same Song

Just in case you think "the enemy" is only after America and Americans:

ALGIERS - Twin car bombs near United Nations offices and an Algerian government building killed more than a score of people yesterday in what may have been the deadliest attack here in more than a decade.

Two European diplomats in Algiers said that reports from rescue and medical workers led them to believe that 60 or more people had died. The Algerian interior minister, Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, told reporters at a news conference last evening that so far 22 had been confirmed dead.

The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility, posting a message on Islamist websites with photographs of two men it said were suicide bombers who carried out the attacks, which it said were aimed at "the Crusaders and their agents, the slaves of America and the sons of France."

Ouch. Al Qaeda doesn't even consider the people of Algeria independent-minded. Then again, it's not like the country hasn't had their problems with the group.

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No Main Topic

  1. It's time for end of year lists, so here's the 10 worst movie endings.
  2. Mike Huckabee catches up to Rudy Giuliani in the polls.
  3. You can delete queries now on
  4. George Mitchell plans to play hardball.
  5. For women, who your doctor is may determine whether or not you'll discover if you have breast cancer.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Around the Internets

  1. Eugene Robinson asks if Oprah is enough to help Obama win the presidency, and wonders whether today's America is ready for a black president.

  2. Oliver Willis calls Dana Perino on her stupidity so I don't have to.

  3. Jurassicpork: "For the CIA, the decision to resort to torture is "like flipping a switch." How convenient. How easy. How utterly monstrous."

  4. Glenn Greenwald tells us what some don't want to hear but need to: that there are Democrats in Congress who are essentially enabling the President's more questionable (and borderline illegal) actions.

  5. Think Progress provides another reason not to vote for Fred Thompson or Mike Huckabee: their denial of the danger posed by global warming.

  6. daveawayfromhome wonders why we can't choose our presidents like in the old days.

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One Group Who Could Bring Our Troops Home

The House Appropriations Committee is headed by Committee Chair Democrat Dave Obey. Not too long ago Obey's wrote a letter about stopping the war...with the all-to-familiar mantra of if they "only had the (60) votes." Now the latest version of the appropriation process doesn't really mention that, so I'm assuming Obey was referring getting final passage in the Senate. It's debatable whether or not the magical 60 is true, but it has given Democrats alot of cover when it comes to addressing one of the country's most pressing concerns.

That's not to say that Obey's Committee hasn't done anything. In fact, here's Kirstin Brost's report on what Democrats in the Appropriation Committee have done. My concern is that the Democrats in power, the ones sitting in the big chairs, haven't exactly gone out of their way to put pressure on President Bush to define America's overall foreign policy in regards to Iraq: how long the troops are going to stay; why he is constantly requesting "emergency funds" when we are in Year Four; accounting for the missing funds and weapons and equipment; and clarifying who exactly the enemy is. A simple threat (and follow through) of cutting off funds would go along way towards getting some answers.

And while I'm sure some of current members of the Committee would object to such tactics, as we get closer to the presidential election I'm confident that that last question either side wants to hear is "What are you going to do about Iraq?" When someone like Colorado Senator Ken Salazar changes his mind on cutting the funding, you know a shift in policy is coming.

And today gave us another good sign: Obey appears to be pulling back on that lame deal that was essentially trading war funding for earmarks.

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No Main Topic

  1. According to police, the gunman in Colorado Springs was targeting Christians. He was stopped by the courageous security guard Jeanne Assam.

  2. Former VP and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore says that he would not serve in another administration unless it's as president (and he says he still has no plans on getting involved in the 2008 election).

  3. The Red Sox expands their empire with a new minor league team.

  4. Led Zeppelin still rocks.

  5. The Republican presidential wannabes aren't winning too many hearts and minds. Maybe it's their stance on immigration, religion, and the war. Or maybe it's their fickle base. Or maybe it's both.


Monday, December 10, 2007

No Main Topic

  1. Good Sign: An Arenas-less Wizard's team beats a Jason Kidd/Vince Carter/Richard Jefferson Nets team.

  2. Sadly, those terrible shootings at religious sites in Colorado may be connected.

  3. When it came to being translated into Spanish, the GOP debates were immigration-lite.

  4. Problems for the patients at the National Naval Medical Center.

  5. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the differences between sentencing crack-related and cocaine-related crimes may be a thing of the past.

  6. Sure, these breakfast sandwiches may taste good, but is it worth your life?

  7. The talks in Hollywood could be going better.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Mark Foley Was Only the Beginning...


A lawmaker who resigned from the board that oversees Capitol Hill pages said one parent suggested lax supervision led to "kids gone wild."

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Florida, Friday said she resigned because she was angered to learn that two pages had oral sex in public areas of the their Capitol Hill dorm. The pages were dismissed from the program, but Brown-Waite said the incident is an example of lax supervision of the teens.

"It wasn't kissing and hugging -- let me put it that way," Brown-Waite said. "It did go beyond that, there were not only a young male and female involved, but there were also observers and other page participants who were, let's say, enablers."

"This had been going on for months," she said. "Almost all of the pages knew about it."

No members of Congress were involved, Brown-Waite said.

Nevertheless, Brown-Waite (R) is blaming Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who hasn't been in charge for a year yet) for this mess instead of ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert (who was running the show since 1988). The Congresswoman should be happy Pelosi is still on her "impeachment is off the table" kick.

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Heating Things Up In Minnesota

Republican Norm Coleman has an ad containing Al Franken's "seeming contradictions on Iraq." Considering that the primaries in Minnesota haven't ended yet, it's safe to say that Coleman is a little worried about Franken's impact (and he should be; I've read Franken's book, The Truth).

Franken has been a little busy with the New York Times, but his people did manage to respond:

Immediately after the recording hit the Internet, Franken spokesman Andy Barr accused Coleman of engaging in "fundamental dishonesty," and suggested his campaign sliced and diced Franken's comments to achieve its goal of discrediting him.

"Fundamental dishonesty like we are seeing from Coleman's campaign today was a bad way to get us into this war, and it's certainly not going to get us out," said Barr. "It won't stop Al from speaking out against this war and holding Norm Coleman accountable, and it won't stop Minnesotans from voting for a new direction."

Coleman's ad aside, Franken's view of Iraq can be found here.

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Only in Texas...

I guess it's back to strip clubs for these guys:

DUNCANVILLE, Texas - The most popular address on Cedar Ridge Drive is Jim Trulock's split-level home, which has a group sex room and attracts as many as 100 people to swinger parties featuring "Naked Twister" nights.

But the festivities could soon be over. In response to neighbors' complaints, the city has outlawed sex clubs in residential areas. Citations have been issued, and search warrants may be next.

"It's crazy that they want to force their morality down our throats," said Dawn Burton, 45, a regular guest at the parties. "We're all frustrated."

So are those who complain of the noise, traffic and parking problems that occur in their otherwise quiet, upscale neighborhood every Friday and Saturday, when Trulock's home is transformed into "The Cherry Pit."

I guess it's kinda silly to not expect something like a sex party to cause "noise, traffic and parking problems;" it's like a tailgate party...only with sex instead of football. On the other hand, who wants to deal with that every weekend? And one more thing: the city has 50 places of worship; so I'm guessing it's a highly religious area. Officials are only now putting forth legislation?

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Around the Internets

  1. From C&L: penis-envy politics.

  2. Michael Wilbon thinks the Wizards may have a respectable run while Gilbert Arenas is out.

  3. From Think Progress: Sen. Whitehouse that thanks to the new FISA laws, President Bush can have the final say on what's constitutional.

  4. Gilbert Arenas talks about his injury, staying with the team, and Sean Taylor.

  5. Oliver Willis sums up the Mitt Romney speech.

  6. Jurrasicpork sees the link between US officials/politicians visit Iraq and deadly bombings; so why can't the government?

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No Main Topic

  1. President Bush writes a letter to North Korea's Kim Jong-il.

  2. Barry Bonds pleads "not guilty" to everything.

  3. In MD: St. Mary's County owes the Shah family so much.

  4. A story of underground prostitution in America.

  5. Jason Kidd Update: he says he missed the last game because of a migraine, and plans to play the next game.

  6. JetBlue embraces the 21st Century.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

*That's* Why Bush Needs More Money for Iraq...

...because $1 billion in equipment is missing there. That explains it; he's just trying to replace lost money!

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Calm Down Knick Fans

ESPN's Sports Guy explains why:

Just look at what's happened to the Blazers since they won the 1977 title. They saw a potential dynasty implode when Bill Walton's fragile feet couldn't carry them. They drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, for heaven's sake. And although they won 179 times from 1990 to '92 and made the Finals twice, they infamously self- destructed in countless close games. During Game 7 of the 2000 Western finals, they mailed in one of the mammoth choke jobs in NBA history. In this decade alone, they've suffered through the much-despised Jail Blazers era and a prolonged rebuilding project that was capped off by having Greg Oden fall into their laps, only to have his rookie season derailed before it began. Imagine if the timeline in the previous paragraph had been the Knicks'. We'd never hear the end of it. So why haven't the previous three decades of Blazer woes received as much attention as the travails of the Knicks have? Because they don't play in New York, that's why. The Knicks have the most fans, the most writers, the most people dissecting the team ... I mean, how many Blazers fans have you met in your life? Two?

You cannot understate the ability of a swollen fan base and a swollen media corps to distort the peaks and valleys of a big-market team. Just look at the 2004 Red Sox compared with the White Sox of a year later. Both last won a Series during WWI, both battled a "curse" (Babe Ruth; Black Sox) and both had generally tortured fans who never imagined their boys could ever turn it around. Yet when the big day finally arrived, Boston received significantly more attention. Why? Red Sox Nation.

Exactly. So Knicks fans should be happy they have an army of writers and reporters who give a damn and have a public platform, because their problems will go away sooner than the smaller-market teams.

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George Bush The Damaja

President Bush may be down, but not out:

President Bush called on Iran to "come clean" about the scope of its nuclear activities Wednesday, as the White House made it clear there will be no change in its policy toward Tehran despite new intelligence questioning his claims about the country's nuclear ambitions.

Traveling here for a political fundraiser, Bush indicated that he still sees Iran as a serious threat. He demanded that its leaders fully disclose details of its nuclear weapons program, which the intelligence community said Monday was shut down in the fall of 2003.

"The Iranians have a strategic choice to make," Bush told reporters. "They can come clean with the international community about the scope of their nuclear activities and fully accept" the U.S. offer to negotiate if they suspend their nuclear enrichment program -- "or they can continue on a path of isolation."

"The choice is up to the Iranian regime," the president said.

"Come Clean?" Bush went back to 1994 and pulled out the Jeru the Damaja! Well, if you're feeling lucky duck, then press your luck:

American intelligence agencies reversed their view about the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program after they obtained notes last summer from the deliberations of Iranian military officials involved in the weapons development program, senior intelligence and government officials said on Wednesday.

The notes included conversations and deliberations in which some of the military officials complained bitterly about what they termed a decision by their superiors in late 2003 to shut down a complex engineering effort to design nuclear weapons, including a warhead that could fit atop Iranian missiles.

The newly obtained notes contradicted public assertions by American intelligence officials that the nuclear weapons design effort was still active. But according to the intelligence and government officials, they give no hint of why Iran’s leadership decided to halt the covert effort.

Ultimately, the notes and deliberations were corroborated by other intelligence, the officials said, including intercepted conversations among Iranian officials, collected in recent months. It is not clear if those conversations involved the same officers and others whose deliberations were recounted in the notes, or if they included their

See, this is what "intelligence agencies" do: they gather information about other organizations and institutions. They are not supposed to take someone else's pre-conceived notions and try to make questionable data support it. The people behind this NIE report did exactly what Bush is asking for, they acquired details about Iran's nuclear programs.

So this wasn't, as the right puts it, a conspiracy to undermine Bush. In fact, to quote Jeru: "My attack is purely mental and its nature's not hate/It's meant to wake ya up out of ya brainwashed state."

This revelation puts Bush in a corner more than the NIE report itself, which is why Bush is making a near-impossible demand: that the Iranians themselves disclose what they know. Think about it for a minute; how silly is it to demand that a country you never really wanted to talk to in the first place disclose their secrets when your own staff has already documented said secrets and it's waiting on your table to be read?

One thing's pretty clear now: bombing Iran is now 456,395 on our list of options. Not to say this is happy-happy time ("Wishin he'll go away won't help the weapons stop/The skills are shot/cuz any idiot can let off a glock."), however, to keep pushing war as the only solution will no longer sell. But Bush and VP Cheney don't have to worry about all of their super-secrets being exposed:

The American officials who described the highly classified operation, which led to one of the biggest reversals in the history of American nuclear intelligence, declined to describe how the notes were obtained.

Fred Kaplan's take?

Bush should have started serious talks with Iran two years ago, for a variety of reasons. The NIE offers two additional, compelling reasons for starting them now.

First, the estimate reveals that the window of opportunity—the span of time before Iran can pose a nuclear threat—is much wider than anyone had thought. We can afford to take some risks and try out new approaches.

Second, the estimate will unavoidably, and understandably, spur many world leaders to drop all concerns about Iran and push for an end to all sanctions. This may, in turn, spur Iran's leaders to resume and step up their nuclear program while the pressure is off.

In other words: just for frontin' you got that ass whipped...

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No Main Topic

  1. Golden Compass is nothing new. There have been plenty of religiously offensive films; check it out.

  2. In Prince George's C0., MD: A doctor has been arrested for sexually assaulting patients.

  3. What are the rights of detainees in America? The Supreme Court seems stumped.

  4. In case anyone cares: it's friggin cold and icy in the DC/VA/MD metro area.

  5. Nets Point Guard Jason Kidd goes on strike.

  6. Maryland schools have not been able to turn the corner.

  7. Set your faces to drool: New Joker, new direction, new Dark Knight trailer hits IMAX. Oh yeah!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Beat the Bully Down."

That's how Wiz coach Eddie Jordan (affectionately) described the plan for the LeBron-less Cavs. And it's as apt as an analogy can get these days: Cleveland has been to Washington what the MJ/Pippen Bulls had been to the Ewing Knicks and what the Shaq/Kobe Lakers had been to the Chris Webber Kings: a constant thorn. There have been improbable clutch shots, previously unknown role players turning into stars, missed free throws, and any other thing you can imagine. Those Knicks and Kings teams never got over their respective drubbings, and eventually it went from being a battle of skills to a battle of wills.

So for Washington, the goal's simple: beat Cleveland, regardless of whether or not James is playing. Get some of that bitter taste from the last two playoff matches out of our mouths. Erase some of that "shoulda, coulda, woulda."

And the way the players are rolling, that should be the mentality. Jamison is proving why he should be considered a valuable piece to a playoff team. Every move Butler makes on the court screams, "You better put me in the All-Star Game!" Haywood is still playing like he gives a damn. Nick Young helps makes the bench potent. Daniels is controlling the tempo.

So if you see an opening, and it's a legit one, why not take it?

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Party Like It's 2009...

The Magnificent Bastard comes out swinging:

“I am fairly confident we’ll have [Iraq] in a good place, where we’ll be able to look back on it and say, 'That was the right decision. It was a sound decision going into Iraq,'” Cheney told us in a 40-minute White House interview.

Sounding a note of caution, the vice president said: "We've got a lot of work to do. We're sort of halfway through the surge, in a sense. We'll be going back to pre-surge levels over the course of the next year."

But Cheney said that by the middle of January 2009, it will be clear that “we have in fact achieved our objective in terms of having a self-governing Iraq that’s capable for the most part of defending themselves, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, a nation that will be a positive force in influencing the world around it in the future.”

All of that by 2009? “Yes, sir,” he replied.

So we've gone from Bush's 50-year plan to Cheney's two-and-a-half year plan in about less than seven months. Did the surge really do that much? I kinda doubt it.

And how's this for bizarre: his take on the release of the NIE report saying that Iran's nuclear advancement has been on pause since 2003? It was “the right call.” But then again, this may be cover for a future report that will strangely support everything he wants. You can never tell with Dick Cheney.

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No Main Topic

  1. Watch Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova catch food with their mouths.

  2. In Westminster, MD: A woman offered a cop $6,000 to kill her husband.

  3. Those of Wiley College hope a new movie (with Denzel) will help restore some of their former glory.

  4. The Bloods and Crips are making headway in the Maryland suburbs.

  5. An ex-teacher (who became an "ex-" for sleeping with one of her 14-yr-old students) violated her parole.

  6. In the wake of the VA Tech Tragedy, a good GPA isn't all colleges have been looking at.

  7. In a Rome court, Disney and Warner Bros. cartoon characters have been called to testify.

  8. Before his big "I'm a Mormon but That's Not So Bad" speech, Mitt Romney decides to fire his gardener.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Part Ronald Reagan, Part Richard Pryor

President Bush's verbal jujitsu today was definitely a sight to behold. This was only one of many gems:

Amazing, right? As in, "amazingly false."

In truth, it seems like the President had no idea what was going on, even if everyone was either hearing about the NIE report from him or vice versa.

And the response from the neo-conservatives who either want to attack Iran or just can't let Bush go and latch onto one of the other Republicans running for the job (man, will it be interesting to see where these guys land)? It's ranging from "this is really a problem for Congressional Democrats" to "we must stop the evil treacherous Intelligence Community!"

Like I said in the title, it's a cross between Reagan and Pryor: "There you go again, believing your lying eyes."

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No Main Topic

  1. The report that Iran stopped their nuclear program back in 2003 may have been the Little Mac uppercut to the Bush Administration's plans.

  2. Jennifer Love Hewitt fights back against those who think a Size Two is fat. Read that sentence again.

  3. Morning TV shows are slowly becoming elaborate infomercials.

  4. In DC, the people aren't happy with the "close down 23 schools" idea.

  5. With a chance to beat the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens decide to instead grab their own necks and squeeze ever so tightly.

  6. Lindsay Lohan breaks up with What's-his-face.

  7. A sperm donor paying child support? Yessir.

  8. DC is the most walkable (and maybe runnable) places in the US.

  9. Will Smith comes to Tom Cruise's defense. Really.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Twirling, Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom

It's a good thing that the Bush Administration made a big deal of military deaths in Iraq going down, because news like this makes their gloating look stupid:

WASHINGTON - Iraqis have not made enough progress toward learning to manage their security forces because they've had to divert too much attention to continued violence and sectarianism, congressional investigators said Monday.

For example, Iraqi recruits to the Army who were designated for training as logistics specialists have been diverted to combat roles, said the report by the Government Accountability Office.

The report said the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior have made some progress in the last year. The defense ministry has developed lower echelon logistics units for the military and the interior ministry has established an intelligence organization...


...The report also criticized the terminology the Pentagon uses for assessing the progress of Iraqi forces. While the Defense Department has, in multiple reports, stated that a certain number of (Iraqi) units are either "independent" or "fully independent," it is unclear how the military arrived at the determination, the report said.

It noted that in a number of reports in which the Department of Defense has asserted that a certain number of Iraqi units are independent, it has appeared to contradict itself by adding qualifiers. For example, defense officials reported in June that a certain number of units were either "in the lead" or "fully independent" — then added the forces "often do not get the support they require without substantial coalition assistance."

So in short: Instead of preforming their "designated" tasks, pretty much everyone was given a gun and told to go to the front lines... and the DOD couldn't get their story straight so Congress has no real idea what's going on.

And with security a giant question mark, one has to wonder when the Iraqi officials will ever get the cover they need to get the government on the right track.

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The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

The "enemy" would be Mitt Romney. The "enemy of my enemy" and "friend" would be Mike Huckabee/Rudy Giuliani. Crooks and Liars has the goods.

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No Main Topic

  1. Unlike Pervez Musharraf, Sudan's President decides to pardon some who's (at best) a minor threat to his country's way of life.

  2. Unlike Pervez Musharraf, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez will not be able to "abolish term limits, allow Mr. Chávez to declare states of emergency for unlimited periods and increase the state’s role in the economy, among other measures."

  3. San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan is down, but not necessarily out.

  4. GO TERPS!: They are Emerald Bowl-bound.

  5. Now that she's the (slight) underdog, Hillary Clinton gets to attack Barack Obama. The question is: will she resort to the "mudslinging" she claimed she was a victim of, or will she be more cordial (or as cordial as you can be when fighting to be the most powerful person in America)?

  6. What I just said above? Well, replace "Hillary Clinton" with "Mitt Romney" and "Barack Obama" with Mike Huckabee." But instead of "gets to attack," this is more of "forced to come clean about his religious convictions because he's afraid the GOP base is rushing to a conservative Baptists preacher."

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