Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One More Spell To Cast

Before I get into my comments on Game 5 between the Cavs and Wizards:
  1. In the Wizards' darkest hour, it was Butler who opened the Matrix (I just have to use a Transformers: the Movie reference).
  2. Don't mistake toughness for thuggery, Cleveland fans.
  3. Coach Mike Brown on why the Cavs lost: "We put the ball in the best player's hands and we told him to go make the play, like he has for us many times before. That's up to the referees to make the call. We're a no-excuse team." I'm sorry, but those last two sentences contradict each other. If you're a no-excuse team, then why put the lost on the refs making (or not making) the call?
  4. Butler on Lebron James, trash-talking, and his team: ""Don't judge this team from comments. LeBron made a statement: 'These guys are talkers.' But unless you hear something from the captains, which would be myself and Antawn, don't label that as the team. I'm the voice of this team and Antawn is the spiritual and emotional leader, so unless you hear it from one of us, keep it moving."

The way I've always seen the Big Three was this:

  1. Arenas is the best offensive player and clutch player.
  2. Butler is the best overall (offense and defense combined) player.
  3. Jamison is the head, heart and soul.

Butler's comments pretty much confirmed my belief. And as Wise, Wilbon and others have hinted, because Arenas has been here longer and has been clutch more often on the team Butler (and to an extent, Jamison) has deferred to him. But what I saw last night was hopefully a transition of epic proportions: Butler becoming "the Man" on the Washington Wizards.

No one on the Cavs can adequately guard him; if Cleveland tries to put James on Butler for too long James (1) will rack up fouls and (2) not have the energy to finish games since he's pretty much been coasting on D during this series (a few emphatic blocks does not a defender make). Butler is probably the only Wizard that James may be worried about.

When I saw that the Cavs were suddenly focusing their defense on Butler, I thought if he and Jamison can get hot during the same game, we can win this series. Unfortunately, Jamison had an off-night, but the guy rarely has back-to-back rough performances. If both these guys are hitting their shots, what the hell is Cleveland going to do?

I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm pretty sure Mike Brown doesn't want to have to try and answer it either. But I do know one thing: once the team decides to officially rally around Butler, and Butler decides to take a firm grip and make the Wizards his team, the Cavs are in for a whole mess of trouble.

For one night though, it was nice to see a world where that happens. Hopefully, it's a promise of more to come.

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No Main Topic

Around the Internets

  1. Mike Wise: The Wizards should win one for the "Abe-ster."

  2. Via JP: Ron Paul supporters freak the GOP out.

  3. According to daveawayfromhome, Hannah Montana is a sign that things aren't that bad.

  4. DeShawn Stevenson wears the Vick jersey.

  5. Oliver Willis on the McCain Health Care Plan: we got to pray just to make it today.


Just Sayin': Cyrus Vs Disney

As anyone who either has a teenager or even a TV knows, the non-political, non-sports story is Miley Cyrus. Namely, this picture:

But as points out, the company that writes her checks (Disney) has done it's own "tween advertising." Is Cyrus' pic any worse than this:

I just want to add that Vanity Fair pics always seem to be the center of controversies. Valerie Plame, LeBron James (I'm backing the guy on this issue) and now Miley Cyrus. Is VF really that hard up for cash?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Sayin': NBA's "Throat-Slashing" Fine

Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson was fined for the above motion ( "a menacing gesture") in Game Four.

But here's Damon Jones (around 1:05, 1:06) back in March:

Now tell, me: should Jones have been fined as well?
All I can say is this: If the Wizards win the next three games (big hurdle, I know) everything changes. The Jay-Z dissing at Love Nightclub this past Friday. James referring to himself in the third person and saying the series is over. Critics saying that James is inside the players' head. Everyone ignoring how Haywood went from a pariah last year to the best story of the team this year. All of it.
Haywood is right: just shut up and play.

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No Main Topic

  1. The Atlanta Hawks don't believe in the Bostocalypse.

  2. VA gets hit hard by tornadoes.

  3. You gotta make up for that lost income somehow.

  4. Almost 60% of the teens at that polygamist compound was either pregnant or raising children.

  5. The gas tax break is the latest thing Democrats can't agree on. What they don't seem realize is that buy arguing over an idea that was essentially John McCain's it give him (and the GOP) more clout.

  6. For the seafood lover in you.

  7. When you're a talentless (yet still moderately attractive) singer, mother of two and in need of resurrecting your train wreck of a career , where can you go? Sitcoms!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Around the Internets

  1. NBA Playoff match ups ESPN's Sports Guy would like to see.

  2. Ron Paul is still getting votes? Jinkies!

  3. American soldiers say that the praise given to Iraqi troops in the latest Basra offensive was unwarranted.

  4. John McCain thinks eBay can save our economy (Lord help us).


Friday, April 25, 2008

Pump, Pump, Pump It UP!!

Can't say I'm surprised:

Motorists, angered by soaring gasoline prices, are resorting increasingly to theft -- a trend that could worsen heading into summer driving season, a national association of fuel retailers said Thursday.

"It is getting bad. When the price of gasoline goes up, the number of drive-offs goes up," said Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, which represents about 8,000 retailers.

Drive-off means a motorist pulls up to a gas station's pump, fills the car's tank, and then speeds off without paying for the fuel.

What does surprise me is that Right Wing Media types are hyping this up, saying, "It's not safe anymore! People are coming to your homes to steal your gas! Be afraid! BOO!"

What's that? A Republican is in the White house still? Oh, OK, I guess we'll have to see how this election thing goes then.

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No Main Topic

  1. Arby's is buying Wendy's (didn't know Arby's had that kind of cash). As long as they don't make the Roy Roger's mistake, they should be fine.
  2. With the way the economy and the job market has been going, you would think that President Bush wouldn't be pushing to outsource so many federal jobs. You would think.
  3. The Boston Celtics are true road warriors this season.
  4. Wesley Snipes is sentenced.
  5. Odds are this woman is smarter than you. Just sayin'.
  6. ...A dish best served cold.
  7. So Jimmy Carter talks to militants, and he's a "traitor." The Pakistan government talks to militants and what...they're making inroads?


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Game 3: Wiz vs. Cavs

Here are some stories and links to peep before the game gets too heavy:

  1. Caron Butler shaves his head to show his new focus (and he's not the only one with a hair change).
  2. Wizznutzz talk about hard fouls.
  3. Take a look at the Wizards locker room.
  4. Wizards fans have their marching orders.
  5. And slightly off-topic: The Mystics beat the stuffing out some "fat, out of shape, always the last to get picked as a child, wanna-be basketball players claimed one morning on their talk show that they could beat any women's professional basketball team in a game!!!"

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A General Promotion

This just in:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gen. David Petraeus, the four-star general whose led troops in Iraq for the past year, has been tapped to become the next commander of U.S. Central Command, according to officials familiar with the decision.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Navy Adm. William Fallon, who abruptly stepped down in March after a magazine reported that he was at odds with President Bush over Iran policy. Fallon said the report, while not true, had become a distraction.

I guess if this goes through, John McCain won't have to worry about not knowing what Petraeus does anymore.

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Heads She Wins, Tails He Looses

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 20 hours, Sen. Hillary Clinton has won the Pennsylvania Primary. But as the Great Orange One himself has stated, the margin of victory is not substantial enough to support her most consistent argument: that she is better equipped to beat GOP candidate-to-be John McCain in the general presidential election.

Of course, instead of focusing on that, or the fact that her funds are running low, or that Sen. Obama still has a relatively comfortable lead, the media would rather focus on the growing non-story of why can't Obama "crush" her. And because of that, a difference of 9.38 (or is it 8.6 now?) becomes a difference of 10 instead of a difference of 9, because now the statement can become, "Hillary won by double-digits!"

Why is this a non-story? Because simply, it's not a hard question to answer: Clinton will not quit her campaign as long as
  1. She has money;
  2. She has her base (made up of blue-collar workers, women and older citizens);
  3. Her husband and top advisers still back her up.

Every state Clinton wins is important and significant. Every one she looses? Well, they weren't crucial; besides, she knew she was going to lose it anyway.

With that mindset, and the three components keeping her in the race, there is little doubt that this primary is going to the Democratic Convention. Which means more Calvinball...err, Clintonball, from the Democratic Party's most famous female fighter.

UPDATE: JP breaks down this stupid "He can't put her away" argument as only he can. But I still believe that if you factor in the three components, the reasons become clear.

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No Main Topic

  1. If you have a choice to use any movie as a basis for criminal activity, why choose Weekend at Bernie's?

  2. 80's Israeli spy finally captured.

  3. Spurs eclipse the Suns.

  4. China's weapons deal with Zimbabwe may not happen.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here's Reality: Barack Obama Won't Win Over Everyone

As Dana Milbank points out, Sen. Obama's general positives do not translate into absolute love. To point:

If Hillary Clinton wins Tuesday's Democratic presidential primary -- and polls forecast that she will do just that -- it will be because of white, working-class voters like the Norgrens. Yet the blue-collar voters poised to keep Clinton's candidacy alive are also the reason she is losing the national race to Obama: Though still in charge here, they have lost control of the Democratic Party to the wealthy and better-educated.

The biggest problem here is that it appears that blue-collar voters seem to equate "better-educated" to "wealthy," or rather (the word no one wants to say in this context) elitism. We have a real problem in this country when having a an education level above high school or college is frowned upon.

As E.J. Dionne points out, Obama is hard to least in the traditional sense:

At its most exciting moments, Obama's campaign has been compared to the great crusades for change in our country's history. His appeal to African Americans and the young of all races has led enthusiasts to see his effort as the reincarnation of Robert F. Kennedy's brief, glorious and tragic 1968 run for the presidency.

But when Obama falls into the long pauses he is sometimes given to in debate, the wordy answers he periodically offers to questions, or the visible impatience he exhibits toward the less-elevating aspects of politics, he seems far more the law review editor, the professor, the classic good-government guy whose reach to society's hard-pressed is limited.

Occasionally, these very different Obamas show up at the same time. More precisely, the same words can be heard as ratifying either version of his story, depending on the assumptions a listener brings to them.

I submit that the reason Obama baffles and frustrates so many people -people, who I might add, have most likely not gone to his (or Clinton's or McCain's for that matter) website or called his campaign for information or clarification - is because they are looking at the surface and on the surface they simply see a black man. But even moreso, they see a black man that does not fit the normal stereotypes of black people that they are familiar with.

Dionne would prefer to use analogies to politicians, but that only reinforces the core of Milbank's story: that the average voter does not look at candidates through the prism of politics. Maybe I'm just not politically savvy enough, but I image voters comparing Obama to the likes of Will Smith, Michael Jordan and the black guy who lives in their neighborhood as opposed to JFK, Dukakis, Adlai Stevenson.

Honestly, how many prominent black politicians exist that don't give the connotation of race when they are mentioned or seen? Other than Condi Rice (who mentions race as much as she mentions the economy) there really isn't anyone; for better or for worse, being a black politician and being connected with Civil Rights issues go hand-and-hand.

For many voters who would normally vote Democratic but are struggling with Obama, this is all just too much in-your-face. It wasn't too long ago when there weren't African-Americans as police officers, governors, or even on TV with their own shows. Sadly, these voters will never see Obama as a person but as a black man (much like those voters who will always see Clinton as a white woman). They don't care about his policies, his voting record or his endorsements. They do care about anything negative that comes his way, because with each negative story it gives them more validation for being so hesitant and resistant in supporting (and liking) him.

Than again, no candidate since George Washington has been universally loved (even if his "campaign" was relatively short).

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No Main Topic

  1. The Cavs pile on the Wizards, and James was definitely a factor.

  2. The people in Baghdad are still looking for the bare necessities.

  3. An earth-friendly hotel? Cool.

  4. In hockey: the Caps show that Washington teams do have some resilience.

  5. More threats from the current #2 al Qaeda guy.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cleveland Coronation

Jitters. Calls. LeBron. Size. Homecourt.

That's how Game 2 of the Wiz and Cavs were decided.

The entire Washington team has jitters from the offset. It's the only way I can explain how a team who ranks in the Top Ten in free throw shooting did so poorly from the line tonight.

And as if on cue, the missed free throws, combined with the early shaky shooting, appeared to give the refs enough of an excuse to not give the Wizards the benefit of the doubt on a number of questionable calls. The game was essentially determined when Haywood received a Flagrant Two for his hard foul on James. The message? "Knock LeBron down and we'll kicking you out." And if you don't think James did his part to influence the refs, than you don't know basketball.

LeBron James is the only player the Wizards can't guard straight-up. Double-teaming him leaves his shaky cast open, but the team has enough shooter to still make teams pay. And now, the refs have basically taking away the hard foul from the Wizards' list of options. In other words: unless the refs lighten up in when the series moves to the Verizon Center, James has become untouchable.

There was a sequence between the end of the 2nd Quarter and the middle of the 3rd Quarter where Cleveland just went big. The Wizards just simply couldn't match-up (James and Delonte West were the Cavs backcourt versus Arenas and Daniels for the Wiz) and honestly didn't look prepared to deal with it.

It's no secret that bench players play better at home. At the fact that this is a playoff series, and you get a 7th or 8th Man who becomes Scottie Pippen. But as the Wizards are learning, a true test of your bench is how they preform on the road.

Sure there were other factors (bad rotations, missed boards) but those five things stuck out to me.

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Of Course Cleveland's Complaining About Getting Fouled

It's a Start...

From the WashPost:

JERUSALEM, April 21 -- The radical Islamist movement Hamas is prepared to accept Israel as a neighbor as long as the Palestinian people approve the terms for peace, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said Monday following a trip to the region that included seven hours of controversial negotiations with the group.

Carter, the most prominent Westerner to publicly talk with Hamas, secured that agreement even as the group rejected his proposal for a unilateral, month-long cease-fire. Hamas, which has vowed to destroy Israel, also declined to meet with an Israeli deputy prime minister who has said he is interested in holding face-to-face talks on the fate of a kidnapped Israeli soldier.

Like I said, just give it a chance. If Hamas ends up trying to trick/back stab a person like Carter, then yeah, it'll be awhile before any US political figure should take them seriously again.

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On Shall Rise, The Other Shall Fall...

So LeBron James gets popped in the lip and slapped on the noggin and all of a sudden he's Kobe Bryant. Wait a minute: even Kobe (who's way better than James) doesn't get treated that well. Maybe it's because Kobe's emulating Michael Jordan Version 2 (after his post-baseball comeback) and not Michael Jordan Version 1 (the first three rings).

See, with MJV2, Jordan drove to the basket, had pull-up jumpers, the fade-away, and post ups. MJV1: 98% slasher, but a damn good one. The key difference is James is bigger so he's not going to be knocked down too easily. But that's his game; no more no less. Don't be fooled when James hits the occasional 3-pointer; he's only the 206th best guy from that range.

We all know that the Wizards aren't the Bad Boy Pistons, but they ain't the Chris Webber Kings either. They are good enough offensively to score on the Cavs, and just good enough defensively to stop any Cavs player not named LeBron James.

In other words: if they play man-to-man D for three straight quarters, than double James in the fourth like he's wearing Tag Body spray while he hapless teammates (who had been up til now gone through the experience of having every shot contested) try to overcome the crunch-time pressure of making key shots, the Wizards can win tonight's game...and the series.

I don't want to hear about Arenas' injury; if he's able to play it doesn't matter.

Star Players get hard fouls...and the ones who can tough it out and survive become Super Stars. Players who go to the paint will get hit more often then jump shooters (one of the reason guys like Reggie Miller lasted so long). So James has to decide if he wants to be Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter.

Or maybe he should just go back to high school, where I'm sure they'll be more lenient.

Until he can man up, I don't want to hear any "LeBron's tough enough" talk.

The guy who knocked his lip? Andre Blatche? This dude was the damn chest. And he's still playing basketball. So don't talk to me about tough.

James is a star player, and an incredible force in the lane. So he will be hit. Constantly. If he can't take it, he better pray to God that Detroit and Boston self-destruct and somehow, someway, the soft Dallas Mavericks make it to the Finals. Because that is the only way he's going to avoid any hard fouls.

(P.S.: don't get me started on the tit-for-tat Cavs hyping their own "optimist" to try and counter ours.)

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Around the Internets

  1. Shorter OW: crabs in the barrel, 2008-style.

  2. Before I do anything resembling a Wizards recap, check this (good) one out.

  3. Good Lord, is Mitt Romney dumb.

  4. John McCain makes up a new demographic: Forgotten Americans. With a positive, complimentary label like that, I'm sure his latest campaign tour will be heavily attended.

  5. Hey guys: don't act so needy around women.

  6. Jesus; I wish this was a joke.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Around the Internets

  1. How can "conservative intellectuals" call themselves "intellectuals" when they can't use Goggle?

  2. What did the Cobert Report think of the ABC Debate?

  3. Even at 54, Jackie Chan is too damn fast for the movie camera.

  4. What John McCain doesn't know may kill us.

  5. Nicknames athletes probably wish they didn't have.


Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?

The guy who brought you Supersize Me (Morgan Spurlock) tries to answer that question:

When Spurlock learns that he and his wife are expecting a baby, he decides that he wants the child to grow up in a safer world than we know today, so he takes it upon himself to track down the most dangerous man on Earth, Osama bin Laden. Spurlock hops on a plane and flies to the Middle East in search of his quarry, making stops in Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as he keeps an eye peeled for the head of Al Qaeda. When he isn't playing sleuth, Spurlock interviews people representing all walks of life, ranging from Orthodox Israeli enclaves and a mosque operated by rabidly anti-American Muslims to political moderates and ordinary folks at the supermarket, quizzing them about the nature of post-9/11 conflict and the need for peace.


Can a King Beat a Team of Wizards?

Pradamaster says no way. Michael Wilbon (taking time from his TV gigs) agrees with that sentiment.

Bottom line: we know what the Wizards will bring. They haven't really shuffled their roster that much over the years. The reason some fans have been pissed at GM Ernie Grunfeld (not making splashy or panicky trades) has proven to be a key ingredient in making a perennial playoff contender.

We have three All-Stars. At least two bonafide clutch players (Jamison and Arenas) and two potential ones (Stevenson and Butler). We have size (imagine a lineup of Haywood, Blatche/Songalia, Jamison, Butler, and Arenas) and speed (Arenas, Daniels, Young). We have a waaaay better coach. Our guys are, for the most part, recovering from their injuries.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, don't really know who they are. As others have mentioned, there's little firepower beyond James and Big Z. Unlike the Wizard's coach, Cavs coach Mike Brown hasn't been able to juggle injuries that well. And that's not a good position to be in when you're going up against a team that you've pretty much owned in the playoffs.

Think Arenas has forgotten the "you're a [punk] if you miss those free throws?" Think Butler doesn't recall watching James cut through the defense like a controlling mother through self-esteem? Think Stevenson has forgotten an offseason of fans and critics alike wondering aloud, "Why did we get this guy? He barely scored in the playoffs last year."

Think James doesn't realize that he doesn't have Larry Hughes around to defend the smaller guys, hit an open shot and telegraph Eddie Jordan's plays to his teammates?

Anyone thinking this rivalry is just a watered-down, Eastern Conference version of those Lakers-Kings battles in the early 2000's better think again. This is more like the Knicks-Heat if know, where both sides won critical games.

Like Doc Holiday said in Tombstone, the Wizards aren't looking for revenge...they want a "reckoning."

Charles Barkley was right about it not being a good idea to piss people off before the game; he just had the wrong team.

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"Where's Your Pieces of Flair, Barack?"

On a night of completely horrid debate questions, this had to be the worst:

MR. GIBSON: And Senator Obama, I want to do one more question, which goes to the basic issue of electability. And it is a question raised by a voter in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a woman by the name of Nash McCabe. Take a look.

NASH MCCABE (Latrobe, Pennsylvania): (From videotape.) Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't.

MR. GIBSON: Just to add to that, I noticed you put one on yesterday. But -- you've talked about this before, but it comes up again and again when we talk to voters. And as you may know, it is all over the Internet. And it's something of a theme that Senators Clinton and McCain's advisers agree could give you a major vulnerability if you're the candidate in November. How do you convince Democrats that this would not be a vulnerability?

SENATOR OBAMA: Well, look, I revere the American flag, and I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country. This is -- I would not be standing here if it wasn't for this country.

And I've said this -- again, there's no other country in which my story is even possible; somebody who was born to a teenage mom, raised by a single mother and grandparents from small towns in Kansas, you know, who was able to get an education and rise to the point where I can run for the highest office in the land. I could not help but love this country for all that it's given me.

And so what I've tried to do is to show my patriotism by how I treat veterans when I'm working in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee; by making sure that I'm speaking forcefully about how we need to bring this war in Iraq to a close, because I think it is not serving our national security well and it's not serving our military families and our troops well; talking about how we need to restore a sense of economic fairness to this country because that's what this country has always been about, is providing upward mobility and ladders to opportunity for all Americans. That's what I love about this country. And so I will continue to fight for those issues.

And I am absolutely confident that during the general election that when I'm in a debate with John McCain, people are not going to be questioning my patriotism, they are going to be questioning how can you make people's lives a little bit better.

And let me just make one last point on this issue of the flag pin. As you noted, I wore one yesterday when a veteran handed it to me, who himself was disabled and works on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I'm commander in chief, which is going to be figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we actually make our economy better for the American people.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen...the issue is not, "Can Obama make inroads in the War on Terror?" or "Can Obama resolve America's immigration concerns?" or "Can Obama improve how tensions between various groups both domestically and abroad?" No the burning question, according to Charlie Gibson and Nash McCabe, is "Where's Your Pieces of Flair, Barack?"


Yes, this is what we've come to: we've gone from discussing substantive issues that affect the very lives of every man, woman and child in this country to emulating a cult movie.

Obviously, American need to stop worrying about war, the economy, jobs and all that other stuff and be more like Brian from Chotchkie's.

Now go get your flair.

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Picture This: Jen Sorensen

The political cartoonist warns us to watch out for knee-jerkers.

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Joe Scarborough vs. Someone With a Brain & Spine

I originally saw a mention of this from Oliver Willis' site: HuffPost has a video of MSNBC (and former GOP Congressman) Joe Scarborough trying to bully the ever-astute Rachael Maddow, and she was having none of it.

The result? Well, according to MSNBC:

"Joe didn't walk off. He chose not to participate in the final couple of minutes of the discussion because he felt the conversation didn't fit his role as a political analyst."

Whatever. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to cut her off and prevent her from countering his weak talking points with reality: in this case, the reality that John McCain (and to an extent, Hillary Clinton) has not faced the "Six Degrees of Association" that Barack Obama has faced.

Scarborough theory that only new politicians should face such scrutiny is absurd; with enough connections and money you can cover up enough dirty laundry to get you elected, and then all you have to do is create an image of a good statesman. McCain has never been pressed on why he divorced his wife and favor for someone with the wealth to help boost his political career. No one's brought up the Keating Five. No one's inquired why he's changed from Episcopalian to Baptist.

Just because such questions haven't been raised (either recently or at all) doesn't mean that there hasn't been any new revelations or developments. Being around a long time is no excuse for being granted a free ride.

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No Main Topic

  1. South Korea's president (finally) extends an olive branch to North Korea.

  2. Sen. Clinton can't crack the superdelegates.

  3. Video Game consoles are selling like hotcakes.

  4. Bank of America: No loans for you!

  5. Britney Spears needs to pay her lawyers (for what, I don't know).

  6. Yesterday, the Pope met with some victims of "priest abuse." Despite what some people may say about the guy because of his past, this was a big move (as was his acknowledgement of racism, education and other religions).


Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back...

That's pretty much the consensus from the liberal blogosphere. Whether your preference is Daily Kos, Perrspectives, or Democratic Underground, the feeling is mutual: ABC used the debate to slam Sen. Barack Obama.

Think Progress has audio confirming that one of the moderaters, George Stephanopoulos , essentially used questions from Fox News own Sean Hannity.

From what I can tell, it took almost an hour before any questions relating to the issues of the day were raised. Before that is was question after question about Obama's associations with a variety of characters.

I'm curious as to why such links (big and small) wasn't a concern when George W. Bush was running for president, or during his re-election campaign. How about his father's ties to the bin Laden family? Or his own ties to James Bath?

I don't see how this "Six Degrees of Barack Obama" is relevant to fixing the economy, resolving the Iraq occupation, preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear adversary, keeping Russia from regressing, addressing immigration, making Social Security solvent, solving the housing crisis, restoring habeas corpus, and a host of other things.

What it does end up doing is giving the viewing audience the impression that Obama's sometimes razor-thin affiliations are more important than the issues mentioned above.

And sadly, it also confirms that other than Hillary Clinton and (assuming he gets the Democratic nomination) Sen. John McCain, Obama will also be up against everything the corporate-owned media can throw at him.

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Give Peace a Chance.

I can't say I remember the last time I saw such a stunning contrast in the same publication.

First we have Mahmoud al-Zahar, who has praised ex-president Jimmy Carter for trying to find some common ground between Israel and Hamas.

GAZA -- President Jimmy Carter's sensible plan to visit the Hamas leadership this week brings honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acts as if a few alterations here and there would make the hideous straitjacket of apartheid fit better. While Rice persuades Israeli occupation forces to cut a few dozen meaningless roadblocks from among the more than 500 West Bank control points, these forces simultaneously choke off fuel supplies to Gaza; blockade its 1.5 million people; approve illegal housing projects on West Bank land; and attack Gaza City with F-16s, killing men, women and children. Sadly, this is "business as usual" for
the Palestinians...

al-Zahar's biggest flaw in his argument is that he's associating the state of Israel with being criminal. Considering the history of Israel, as well as that of Hamas, there are enough accusations for all sides. Annexing Jerusalem is probably the most controversial and difficult of al-Zahar's conditions for peace; and honestly, considering that the Jewish people consider Jerusalem to be more holy than than Muslim people, I don't believe that Israel is obligated to give it up.

However, none of this excuses the WashPost from outright attacking al-Zahar:

ON THE OPPOSITE page today we publish an article by the "foreign minister" of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Zahar, that drips with hatred for Israel, and with praise for former president Jimmy Carter. We believe Mr. Zahar's words are worth publishing because they provide some clarity about the group he helps to lead, a group that Mr. Carter contends is worthy of being included in the Middle East peace process. Mr. Carter himself is holding what appears to be a series of meetings with Hamas leaders during a tour of the Middle East. He met one militant in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Tuesday and was reportedly planning to meet Mr. Zahar in Cairo today before traveling to Damascus for an appointment with Khaled Meshal, Hamas's top leader...

I'm not sure if the WashPost Editorial Board even read the article. It writes that al-Zahar's piece was "dripping with hatred for Israel," trying to make a connection between the country and the Jewish people. But if that's true, then why did he write that "Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people?"

Also this sentence pretty much conveys al-Zahar's feelings:

Judaism -- which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam -- has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.

On the sruface it may seem like a harsh statement, but look at the words his uses to describe the corruption: Zionism, nationalism and apartheid. These aren't words you associate with a religion as much as a state or country. Al-Zahar's statement is the equivalent of accusing the Religious Right for corrupting Christianity, with the notable exception that the RR hasn't created their own nation and/or run other religious groups and sect out of it (yet). To al-Zahar, the problem isn't the Jewish people; it's the territory they occupy. As I mentioned before, Jews rank the Holy Land #1, and Muslims rank it #3, but that's still a high ranking. This isn't like Rwanda or Darfur; it's a land dispute.

This is an argument that has existed for generations (who owns claim to Jerusalem?) and the most current resolution isn't something he approves of. From a historical perspective, that's rational. From a political perspective, al-Zahar is just going to have to deal with reality. Again, I don't think Israel should hand over Jerusalem, but they (and the Post) should not dismiss a political leader as a terrorist, especially when both sides of the conflict have blood on their hands.

What Jimmy Carter has done would have probably gotten a political official from Israel or Hamas killed. Until tensions lower to the point where these factions feel more comfortable conversing than fighting, people like Jimmy Carter will be necessary to bridge the gap.

Let's give Carter's effort the benefit of the doubt. Let's give peace a chance.

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No Main Topic

  1. Wizards lose to Orlando, but is doesn't affect their standing.

  2. Yankee Nation crushes Red Sox Nation.

  3. Lethal injection is A-OK with the Supreme Court.

  4. New X-Files movie!

  5. Another (sad) day in Gaza.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gas or Dinner? You Decide!

Even with President Bush's admirable gift to needy nations, we still have to focus on issues here. Namely that Bush's occupation of Iraq, combined with tax cuts and turning a blind eye to the free markets (unless when they need a bailout) has resulted in too many Americans (and other nations) having to make choices that they shouldn't have to make:

The idea of turning farms into fuel plants seemed, for a time, like one of the answers to high global oil prices and supply worries. That strategy seemed to reach a high point last year when Congress mandated a fivefold increase in the use of biofuels.

But now a reaction is building against policies in the United States and Europe to promote ethanol and similar fuels, with political leaders from poor countries contending that these fuels are driving up food prices and starving poor people. Biofuels are fast becoming a new flash point in global diplomacy, putting pressure on Western politicians to reconsider their policies, even as they argue that biofuels are only one factor in the seemingly inexorable rise in food prices.

In some countries, the higher prices are leading to riots, political instability and growing worries about feeding the poorest people. Food riots contributed to the dismissal of Haiti’s prime minister last week, and leaders in some other countries are nervously trying to calm anxious consumers...

...According to the World Bank, global food prices have increased by 83 percent in the last three years. Rice, a staple food for nearly half the world’s population, has been a particular focus of concern in recent weeks, with spiraling prices prompting several countries to impose drastic limits on exports as they try to protect domestic consumers.

While grocery prices in the United States increased about 5 percent over all in the last year, some essential items like eggs and milk have jumped far more. The federal government is expected to release new data on domestic food prices Wednesday, with notable increases expected.

War for oil? Meh. Wait until people starting fighting for food and water.

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Around the Internets

  1. Tavis Smiley's ego problems. Jesus, what's with his obsession with having Obama "kiss the ring?"

  2. Crazy like a fox, indeed.

  3. Wu-chess, m-f'ers.

  4. John McCain wasn't always 'Captain Tax Cut."

  5. One out of 33 homeowners will not have a house in the next 24 months.


Sicker Than Your Average...

And some people called Michael Moore socialist (and worse) for his movie about the crummy American Health Care system (SiCKO).

It turns out that (once again) he was on the money for raising concerns:

The Institute of Medicine report - "Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce" - estimates that there is only one physician certified in geriatrics for every 2,500 older Americans and that turnover among nurse aides averages 71 percent annually.

In California, the situation is even more dire. Although the institute's study focused on the national picture, a state legislative report estimated there is only one geriatrician for every 4,000 Californians 65 and older.

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Clearly, The Surge Is Working...Part 2

Why else would soldiers in Iraq be leaving?

BAGHDAD — A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.

The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing.

Capt. Logan Veath, a company commander in the 25th Infantry Division, pleaded with the Iraqi major who was leading his troops away from the Sadr City fight, urging him to return to the front.

“If you turn around and go back up the street those soldiers will follow you,” Captain Veath said. “If you tuck tail and cowardly run away they will follow up that way, too.”

Captain Veath’s pleas failed, and senior American and Iraqi commanders mounted an urgent effort to regain the lost ground. An elite Iraqi unit was rushed in and with the support of the Americans began to fight its way north.

This episode was a blow to the American effort to push the Iraqis into the lead in the struggle to wrest control of parts of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army militia and what Americans and Iraqis say are Iranian-backed groups.

I'm thinking that Iraqi soldier would be more prone to fighting if they were the main group fighting for their country.

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Rest the Veterans/Run the Youngins

The Wizards are taking a precautionary approach to tonight's game against the Orlando Magic, which is a good thing, mainly because:
  1. A win or a loss will not affect Washington's standings;
  2. Orlando has been slumping; and
  3. The Cleveland Cavaliers have decided, for the most part, to also take things slow.

The biggest reason for the Wizards to be careful is because (as the story says) they want to be as healthy as possible when facing the one-man band in Cleveland. Sure, LeBron James has even less help now then he did last season (or even the season before that) but he's good enough to single-handily win at least two games. And no, I don't think he'll be motivated by DeShawn Stevenson's comments.

With that all said, the best strategy for tonight's game is to just let the young players run the court. I wouldn't play the vets any more than 15 minutes apiece. Sure the Wiz may loose, but no one knows what's going to happen over the course of these playoffs and it's a very real possibility that the team could loose another key player. If that happens, the team would benefit from exposing the younger players to a little "pre-playoff" atmosphere (I'm sure with a coach like Van Gundy, Orlando will play their butts off).

Of course, with Nick Young's offensive skills, Andre Blatche's length and Dominic McGuire's defensive intensity, they may just pull off a victory. The Magic, as good as they are, is basically one good big man and a bunch of shooters.

Anyway, three things lead to playoff success: playing real defense (everyone talks about this ad nausea), having a real offensive set (even the Pick-N-Roll can get you into the Finals) and staying healthy (which has made or broken the Spurs for the entire Duncan Era). The Wizards definitely have the offense, and their defense has been way better than when Eddie Jordan first started coaching the team. But staying healthy may be the difference between going to the Eastern Conference Finals and losing in five games in Round One.

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No Main Topic

  1. The LA Lakers claim the West' #1 spot.

  2. Baby bottles of death...maybe.

  3. Pseudo-star Ashlee Simpson is preggers.

  4. Pope-mania!

  5. Should we be surprised that celebrities have been going after their nannies?

  6. Michelle Obama works her magic on Stephen Colbert.

  7. Tiger Woods has knee surgery, won't be available to win anything for about a month.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sure, Blame the Liquor

Around the Internets

  1. Of course the Cavs didn't win under suspicious circumstances. No way! It's not like they have a superstar the League is desperate to put in the NBA Finals for ratings or anything.

  2. I've seen my fair share of fake craigslist ads, but this is crazy.

  3. Alicia Keys: Hip-Hop conspiracy theorist (I knew I liked her for a reason).

  4. Eugene Robinson on those "Elitist Democrats."

  5. John McCain doesn't know what General Petraeus' role is concerning the War on Terror.


One Small Diamond In a Sea of Garbage

Neveretheless, I gotta give credit where credit is due:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered the release of $200 million in emergency aid to help countries where the soaring cost of basic food has spurred riots and instability.

The money, to be drawn down from a food reserve, will address food needs in Africa and elsewhere, the White House said.

The announcement follows an appeal to the international community by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

"The international community must fill the at least a $500 million food gap identified by the U.N.'s World Food Programme to meet emergency needs," he said. "Governments should be able to come up with this assistance and come up with it now."

The United States is the world's largest provider of food aid, delivering more than $2.1 billion in food aid to 78 countries last year, the White House said in a statement.

I've said before that Bush's biggest accomplishment was his tax cuts (they didn't benefit everyone, but rich people sure liked them) His second biggest accomplishment is giving aid like in this story.

Sadly, these are the only two real successes of his presidency (I don't count winning elections as an accomplishment).

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R.I.P.: John A. Wheeler

The guy who labeled the black hole...the black hole. Scientists and Star Trek fans everywhere are mourning.

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No Main Topic

  1. Sen. McCain joins Sen. Clinton in attacking Sen. Obama.

  2. Just another (sad) day in Iraq.

  3. The Golden State Warriors regret that they will not be able to attend the 2008 NBAPlayoffs.

  4. For you last-minute-tax-filers: don't forget about the rebate checks (aka: Bush's bribe).

  5. Kate Hudson wants to make out more.

  6. "Mass consolidation?" Don't be silly; what gave you that idea?


Monday, April 14, 2008

Hearts & Minds: The Surge Is Wanking!

To go along with the President's 28% approval rating:

WASHINGTON - Eight out of 10 Arabs have an unfavorable view of the United States and only six percent believe the U.S. troop build-up in Iraq in the last year has worked, said a poll of six Arab countries released on Monday.

The poll by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, also found most Arabs did not see U.S. foe Iran as a threat and they sympathized more with Hamas in the Palestinian Territories than U.S.-backed Fatah.

"There is a growing mistrust and lack of confidence in the United States," said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor in charge of the annual poll.

The survey canvassed the opinions of about 4,000 people over the past month in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. It has a margin of error of about 1.6 percent.

Of those polled, 83 percent had an unfavorable view of the United States and 70 percent had no confidence in the superpower.

So here's my question to Sen. John McCain, since he's the candidate most likely to continue the Bush Administration's foreign policy(and since Chris "We're His Base" Matthews will be drooling over him tomorrow): how can you keep up such a strong support for the occupation of Iraq and the Bush Doctrine knowing 83 of the Arab world are not big fans of America right now?

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Thank You, Keya Morgan

You may never hear of this person again, but know here that he's the man who helped Marilyn Monroe keep some dignity (yeah, I understand that she's dead).

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So Much For Being Bitter

A Pennsylvania newspaper endorses Sen. Barack Obama after he makes his "bitter" gaffe.

What I think is interesting is that up until this point, Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain mocked Obama for trying to convey a message of hope (McCain called it a platitude; Clinton talked about how Obama was thinking that the sky was going to open up with angels or something). Now, with the "bitter" gaffe, both are jumping on it as if Obama's been the Eeyore of this campaign. Ye gods.

You can see Sen. Obama's response to this silliness for yourself:

So when Obama's preacher quotes some guy from the Reagan Administration, Obama gets flamed. When Obama says people are bitter and turn to other social outlets to deal, he gets flamed. When Obama's wife talks about being happy to be an American, but doesn't say it in an approving manner, Obama get flamed.

Meanwhile, Sen. Clinton tries to equate her time as first lady as practically being Vice President (I'm betting Al Gore was just sighing a blue streak the past few weeks) and while she got burned some, no one accusing her of being an out-of-touch radical.

But at least she'd being criticized. The media has been so busy going to McCain's cookouts they barely had time for cover him continuously getting the players involved in the occupation in Iraq, the terrorists aligned with al Qaeda and the supporters of Iran all mixed up. In a strange way, his abuse of the media is worse than President Bush's.

Now when I look at these examples:
  1. A presidential candidate who calls citizens in a state bitter;
  2. A presidential candidate who greatly embellishes her time in a foreign country;
  3. A presidential candidate who can't tell the difference between our enemies, our allies, and our tenuous associates;

I can honestly say I can tell the which situation isn't a big deal, which situation requires clarification and which situation should give the American People some serious pause.

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Around the Internets

  1. Don't be fooled by Sen. McCain's image of being a maverick; he's as conservative as they come.

  2. Apparently, women (most of whom have long since left this mortal plane long ago) have sound relationship advice.

  3. Seemingly bored with Iraq, President Bush and McCain turn their obsessions toward Iran.

  4. Who could have foreseen the housing market collapse? Obviously, we lack hope.

  5. A victory for FISA legislation? About time!

  6. Who cares about his policies; Barack Obama may have smoked a cigarette!

  7. Never doubt a manly basketball team.


Days of Failures Past...

For those who doubt the Washington Wizards' chances now, please note where this team came from:

H/t: Wizznutz.

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No Main Topic

  1. Honestly; who saw this Obama endorsement coming?

  2. It's hard out there for a translator.

  3. Staying healthy is going to cost more.

  4. Elementary, my dear: "Sharp rises in the cost of milk, grain and fresh fruits and vegetables are hitting cafeterias across the country, forcing cash-strapped schools to raise prices or pinch pennies by serving more economical dishes. Some school officials on a mission to help fight childhood obesity say it's becoming harder to fill students' plates with healthy, low-fat foods."


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Even Iran Has It's Terrorism Problems

Least people fall into the Lieberman/McCain "Iran is pulling the terrorist strings" talking point:

TEHRAN, Iran - A bomb explosion in a mosque packed with hundreds of worshippers in southern Iran killed at least nine people and injured more than 100 Saturday, local media reported.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the explosion in the city of Shiraz went off as a cleric was delivering his weekly speech against extremist Wahabi beliefs and the outlawed Bahai faith.

The report said nine people were killed and 105 injured, some of them critically. The force of the explosion shook houses more than a mile away, and ambulances and firefighters were rushing to the mosque, it said. Officials urged the public to donate blood and called all nurses in the city in on duty.

A police official said a homemade bomb caused the explosion, Fars reported. It also quoted a young woman who was there as saying some 800 worshippers were inside the mosque at the time of the explosion...

...Some believe the group, known as Jundallah, is linked to al-Qaida. Jundallah, or God's Brigade, has waged a low-level insurgency in southeastern Iran.
Besides the violence in the southeast, ethnic Arab Sunni militants have been blamed for bombings in the western city of Ahvaz near the border of Iraq — including blasts in 2006 that killed nine people.

The mosque targeted is part of the Rahpouyan-e-Vesal cultural center in Shiraz, about 559 miles south of the capital, Tehran.

Fars said the mosque's cleric gives a weekly speech denouncing the Bahai faith and Wahabism — an austere brand of Sunni Islam practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia. Such speeches are not unusual in Iranian mosques.

This kinda explains why Iran is taking a part in the mess known as the Iraq occupation: they want one less enemy in the region. Of course, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily allies of the US (at least as long as Bush is in office0.

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Don't Be Mad; UPS Is Hiring...

Friday, April 11, 2008

No Main Topic

  1. No-fly zone, indeed.

  2. Big Brother will soon be able to send you text messages...for your own safety, of course.

  3. Thanks to modern science, now monkeys and rats can join cockroaches as creatures who can survive radiation.

  4. Now China hosting the Olympics may constitute a "crisis?" Where has this guy been?

  5. Sen. John McCain allegedly has a mortgage plan.

  6. Dirk Nowitzki may not be the second coming of Larry Bird, but for the most part he's clutch enough.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trying to Avoid an Involuntary Career-Change?

According to this article, then the career you should consider should be:
  1. Education
  2. Energy
  3. Environment (sector)
  4. Health Care
  5. Security

The article goes into more detail about the different jobs.

But you know what's interesting? These jobs are also highly political.

The promise of better education (affordable schooling, relevant resources) is a popular platform. Security? Does "Department of Homeland Security" mean anything? We're fighting a war, in part, to to energy resources (in this case, oil). Thanks to people like Michael Moore, universal health care has become a campaign issue. And as far as the environment, I have two words: global warming.

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What Would Neil Patrick Harris Do?

Well for starters, not use pop stars in need of a comeback as ratings boosters. Don't worry Neil, I wasn't watching that show anyway; but I will check out the new Harold & Kumar.

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It Wiz What It Wiz

Wow. Don't let anyone tell you different, Boston wanted this game because the Wizards matchup with like no other Eastern Conference team.

Don't even talk about Cleveland; does anyone honestly think that this year's squad is better than last year's. Who's their second option? Third option?

The way things look, only Detroit and Orlando (it's always a team from Florida) can keep these guys back. Washington doesn't really have and answer for Dwight Howard, and the Pistons have been though this before.

But the Celtics? Butler goes after Paul Pierce like Anakin Skywalker went after Obi Wan. Nobody on that team other than Pierce can guard Arenas. Stevenson or Mason Jr. can keep Ray Allen in check. And I trust Eddie Jordan over Doc Rivers any day. Unless Kevin Garnett becomes a force of nature, I see a very competitive series in the making.

But at least the Celtics are a complete team; what do the Cavaliers have other than LeBron James? Have you seen these guys when he's on the bench? What possessed them to trade away their second-best scorer for an aging, offensively-challenged rebounder? Is their anyone off their bench who could be considered a "sparkplug?" Do they honestly think they could go more than five games with any playoff team from the West?

If the Wizards don't make it (this is their best chance in the last four appearances), I'm pulling for Boston or Detroit. I'm tired of watching rock fights in the NBA Finals.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Main Topic

This Is a Friendly Reminder...

...that history can repeat itself. Meet Pierce Bush:

It's like looking into a mirror of the future, ain't it?

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Fantastic Fourth

Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan wants the Fourth spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It's entirely possible, especially after taking a peak at the current streaks for the conference.

When you factor in how many top-seeded teams are resting their key players (not the Wiz, though), it sounds like a good motivational strategy (which is what the coach claims it was).

We'll find out tonight how affective it was.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Around the Internets

  1. Eugene Robinson on the most entertaining rumor in this election race.

  2. Hollywood's lovely Latina actresses.

  3. The Troops want to come home.

  4. He may still be wary of "check and balances," but President Bush has alot of faith in checks.

  5. Out of the three presidential candidates participating in today's "How the Hell Did We Get Here, and When Can We Come Home" Hearing, Sen. Barack Obama had perhaps the best line.

  6. Giving Antawn Jamison his props.

  7. Sen. John McCain needs more memory pills...before he becomes the next Nixon.

  8. More proof that our media has been asleep at the wheel for far too long.


Fattening Drinks

No Main Topic

  1. Condoleezza Rice continues to resist calls to save the Republican Party from its base.

  2. Belly fat worse than butt fat; could lead premature death.

  3. Kansas comeback mashes Memphis in NCAA Championship.

  4. Before the MD legislative session ended last night, what was passed?

  5. Everything's bigger in Texas...even the raids.

  6. Protests may put an end to the Olympic torch relay.

  7. Can't make this up: Alan Greenspan sees a recession on the horizon, and he chooses to endorse John McCain.

  8. United Airlines + Aer Lingus = ?

  9. For babies, less sleep = more weight.

  10. In Asia, inflation is having an effect on the American economy.

  11. New stem cell process may alter the morality debate on the issue.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Eject! Eject! Eject! Eject!

Not to long ago, when this story came out I said this:

But before people start going into a frenzied "Muslims are everywhere!" mode, understand that:

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

I don't know about anyone else, but wouldn't a better comparison been between two different sects or denominations? Y'know, like the percentage of Catholics versus the percentage of Shia? Or am I completely off-base here?

Well, the good people over at Sadly, No! found someone who did "go frenzy," as in "Eject! Operation: Warfare!"

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The Generals Who Used To Be On the Ground

Oops; My Mistake

Did I say "from maverick to 'King Arthur'?" I meant to say "from maverick to prostitute."

As much as anything else, presidential campaigns are won and lost by the media narratives that rightly or wrongly come to define a candidate. In the case of Republican nominee John McCain, the seemingly unshakable narrative of the political "maverick" could not be further off the mark. At almost every turn, McCain in his eternal quest for the White House has reversed long-held positions, compromised core principles and swallowed his pride in order to curry favor with both the leading lights of the conservative movement and right-wing Republican primary voters. The untold story of campaign 2008 is simply that of John McCain's transformation from maverick to prostitute.

More here.

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American Idol: POTUS Edition

Tomorrow will be the closest America will get to having a cross-party primary debate (even if it is about one issue). As the Washington Post puts it:

When Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker travel to Capitol Hill tomorrow, they might be the ones before the microphones, but the cameras will be trained on three of their inquisitors: Sens. John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The hearings before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees promise to be as much about presidential politics as about the past six months of military and diplomatic progress in Iraq. All last summer, Washington anxiously awaited the September appearances of Petraeus, the commanding U.S. general in Iraq, and Crocker, the top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad, anticipating that their testimony could determine the political viability of continued war.

Their return engagement is eliciting no more than shrugs -- except on the political front. It has been months since Obama, McCain or Clinton appeared at a hearing, but all three contenders for the White House will take rare breaks from their campaigns to be on hand. Although the committee chairmen are loath to admit it, two relatively junior Democratic senators and one ranking Republican are likely to steal the show.

Of course, it's not the stances we're interested in; it's pretty clear where everyone stands. What's going to be key here is the delivery by the candidates (which will be affected by the time they are allotted) and the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. While I believe that the later is more important than the former, my guess is that the media will run with a "s/he didn't get alot of time did s/he?" meme when it's all said and done.

Chairpeople are already feeling the heat.

For the outsize personalities that dominate the two committees, the political preparations for the hearings have been particularly galling. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) rejected any suggestion that he move Obama up in the questioning order rather than stick to the committee's rules on seniority. "The biggest mistake we could make is politicizing this, looking at this in terms of political advantage," he said. "The American people are sick of this."

I'm curious as to how "now" events, not something that happened three months ago, is going to play with this hearing. For example: Sen. McCain says that we're "no longer staring into the abyss of defeat," without really getting into when we were actually staring into the abyss (was this two years ago? Two months? Two weeks?)

But even if you're looking at the big picture, things don't look good for the pro "stay in Iraq" crowd. For all intents and purposes, the surge has failed to curb the overall violence as well as provide the Iraqi officials the necessary breathing room to make significant political accomplishments. Soldiers are quitting. Any cease-fire in the country is due more to people like Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr than Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The media has all but decided to keep the country stupid about what's going on on a regular basis.

What's even more bizarre is how Republicans, who once welded 9/11 to the point that people believed Saddam Hussein sent the hijackers here, are now complaining about 9/11 rescue workers who still need medical attention (some of the money wasted on Iraq could be used to help these poor people).

Which of the three remaining candidates will be able to bring these issues up? I don't see McCain doing it, and Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are still juniors; their speaking time will not only come late, but may be reduced.

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No Main Topic

  1. Sen. Clinton's biggest campaign problem goes into hiding (for now).

  2. Radical elementary schools in Philadelphia dare to help kids lose weight. The nerve!

  3. Green Party members go a little too far in their protests of the Olympics.

  4. In DC: the utility company Pepco will raise it rates by 15%.

  5. New Bond Girl; some of the actress' pics can be found here.

  6. Yahoo + Microsoft = ???