Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Too Good to Pass Up

Via Balloon Juice, from the "Bashing Celebrities Feels Sooooo Good" Department:

Madonna getting upset with her daughter for dressing too slutty is like Mr. T getting upset with his son for pitying too many fools. I think there was a period in Madonna’s life where all she wore was spaghetti pasta and condoms.

Read the full post.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cuz It's The Final Countdown

Welly, Welly, Welly. We're down to the final 5 week stretch for Project Make-Babytime. And none too soon, as the wife is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Ankles, neck, back, neck and back, you name it - this kid's a behemoth. Anyways, say hello to Slogger 2.0:

Friday, February 23, 2007

A great article today in the Times profiling Gov. Bill Richardson. Read it. I have to say, this guy's got probably more overall experience (local/state, foreign policy, domestic) than any other candidate on either side of the aisle. He's very slick, and just seems to have a knack for getting things done while keeping animosity towards him to a minimum. The latter quality is going to be useful come 2009 - Congress is starting to look more and more like Iraq with all of the sects, tribes, and blood feuds.

It's too bad the Ob-ilary juggernaut will most likely doom his chances, I would have liked to see him run in a general election. He gives the Dems a good voice in the South, and the blue states are all going blue anyways so he can't cause any damage there.

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this interview between Gen. William Odom and Hugh Hewitt. The entire thing is absolutely fascinating. I have to admit, I came away from this very enamored of Gen. Odom. His candor, obvious intelligence, and manner of speaking all reinforce for me the basic belief that (at least in regards to the armed services) the country is in good hands. If America is producing soldiers like this (including Gen. Petraeus, our current commander in Iraq), then at least we can consider their types to be a buffer to a President seemingly intent on displaying the size of his cojones (even if said cojones are in the process of being snipped).

Side note: Petraeus is an extremely intelligent and able commander with a real grasp of the techniques and strategies needed to fight an entrenched insurgency. He just so happens to be trapped in an unwinnable situation - on the home front trapped between the intense partisan bickering. And on the actual war front, at all costs he must maintain morale (i.e., not admit outright that we're failing) and balance that with the need to appear connected with the reality of the situation (i.e., recognize the fact that we're failing). We could have really used his abilities back in 2003-2005 (when his talents could have actually made a difference).

I almost forgot to mention this, in the linked interview check out Hewitt's final attempt to get in the last word. Check this out:

H: Last question, General, do you believe you could be wrong about all this?

WO: Of course.

HH: I thought…I knew as a professional you’d say that. Thank you for your time, General William Odom, and for your service.

WO: Okay, right. Bye.

End of interview.

Hewitt dribbles around..with time running out...he throws up a desperation fadeaway from halfcourt...and scores!! Final score: D.C Partisan Hacks - 3, Appeasing Freedom Haters - 0. That was a close one, I sure am glad that he just saved America.

Does he think this kind of "gotcha" moment is actually productive? Does he actually believe that his views could be wrong (especially after just getting those views skewered by an ACTUAL military officer)?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Our Man In Baghdad

A Sunni woman reports that she was raped by member of the Iraqi National Police (Shiite-dominated, BTW). Once again, the country is torn along sectarian lines - Shiites are disbelieving and Sunnis outraged (I'm presuming the Hatfields and McCoys are not happy about the situation either). Certainly, this is a moment calling for tact, understanding, and above all a desire to not inflame the situation any further. Enter Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki wearing Iraq-style kid gloves. His solution:

  1. Call for a thorough investigation.
  2. End said investigation after a couple of hours.
  3. Denounce Sunni rape victim as liar, issue arrest warrants against her.
  4. Reward (!) 3 Shiite officers accused of being rapists:
    Only hours later, however, Mr. Maliki reversed himself. His office released a second statement after midnight, that one calling the woman a liar and a wanted criminal and going on to praise the officers involved.
    “It has been shown after medical examinations that the woman had not been subjected to any sexual attack whatsoever, and that there are three outstanding arrest warrants against her issued by security agencies,” said the second statement. “After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded.”
  5. Using steps 1-4 as a template, create Western style democracy free from sectarian and ethnic tensions.
This is the man we're depending on to stabilize Iraq. I'll freely admit that this woman could be lying (she was initially detained on suspicion of providing aid to insurgents). But is this really the best way to go about handling the situation? Couldn't he wait a few days or a week, let the Iraqi wheels of injustice spin for a bit, let the bribes and tribal blood feuds die down, then denounce her?? What about a little something called damage control?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If A Civil Liberty Falls In Cuba.....

...can VP Cheney just toss you down a black hole and claim it never happened??

You may remember the (false) sense of tension being generated as the Military Commisssions Act of 2006 was being debated. The noble 3 Senators - Graham, Warner, and Big Daddy McCain - were locked in an old fashioned cockfight for the soul of our great republic against the mad King George. At the last second, this noble trio pulled the USA back from the brink, saved the Republic, and most likely also got the girl. So now that everything is back to normal, how are things going on that whole detainee issue? Er..not so hot:

A divided judicial panel ruled this morning that about 400 foreign nationals who have been detained for as long as five years at a military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, do not have rights to challenge their indefinite imprisonment through the U.S. court system.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that Congress's 2006 Military Commissions Act firmly blocked detainees from trying to appeal the president's decision to hold them without charges and without any promise of release.

One more reason to actively oppose McCain in '08. His "principled" stand was actually a complete and utter capitulation, and the seeds from that poisoned plant are finally starting to bear fruit. The fact that he played it up as a victory for liberty makes it that much more disgraceful.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Straight Talk Express, Clinton-style

I just have to link to Yglesias on Clinton:

Hillary Clinton: "Some people may be running who may tell you that we don't face a real threat from terrorism. I am not one of those."
Whew. Where have all the straight shooters like Hillary been the last 6 years? Truly, if I could pick one threat facing America that's been really underreported, I would have to pick terrorism. There's been an appalling lack of interest in this subject, I would guess starting around September or October 2001.

In The Midst of War, An Unlikely Bro-mance Arose

From a biography of Ariel Sharon comes the following call to arms (a mini-Gettysburg if you will) from our Most Eloquent One:

Speaking of George Bush, with whom Sharon developed a very close relationship, Uri Dan recalls that Sharon's delicacy made him reluctant to repeat what the president had told him when they discussed Osama bin Laden. Finally he relented. And here is what the leader of the Western world, valiant warrior in the battle of cultures, promised to do to bin Laden if he caught him: "I will screw him in the ass!"
Of course, what two consenting male adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of my concern.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Big Al and Big Music == BFF

An Al Gore-Bon Jovi ticket? Despite my respect for Big Al's attention to the environment, I can't shake the feeling that Gore's desperately hoping to be recruited for another run at the Big P. I'm not completely opposed to this actually happening, I'm just not sure this sort of path to the presidency is still a possibility in today's society. I think this idea is doomed to failure, even with the immense power of the Kanye West lobby in your pocket.

Gore's apparent strategy (I'm going to take it as a given that he IS going to run at some point) is reminiscent of past candidates-in-waiting (Nelson Rockefeller, Adlai Stevenson, a half hearted attempt by LBJ in '68), who sit around waiting to snatch the nomination by means of a stampede at the convention. The only stampede in the modern era that was successful was Teddy Roosevelt's in 1908 (the fact that he declined the nomination does nothing to diminish the impact of the stampede itself, since the nomination was his for the taking).

The big difference today is that it's impossible to stampede a convention due to the 24 hour news cycle (where parties are now loathe to be perceived as not in harmony) and the decline of the party boss (who could twist arms - sometimes literally - to obtain necessary votes). Factor in the money angle (whoever has the most money/big name donors lined up is automatically perceived as a potential winner), and at the end of the day I think the later you declare the worse off you're going to be. This is especially important in the very crowded and high profile field for 2008 . Besides, Gore is probably barking up the wrong tree by appealing to the younger set - I'm not entirely convinced that the recent upticks in voter turnout (including younger demographics) aren't just due to the presence of an enormously unpopular sitting president.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Google Reader and RSS feeds

I've never been a big fan of RSS readers. RSS feeds are extremely useful (especially on non-PC type computing devices - mobile, TV, etc.) - the idea of an automatically updating stream of information delivered in one central location is very appealing. The execution of stream reader software has generally been very spotty though (IMHO). Sage was pretty interesting, but it ultimately ended up with the rest - bloating up my firefox extensions cuz I'm too lazy to remove it.
Enter Google Reader, the first feed reader software that I've actually used and didn't discard as an interesting novelty program. Labeling (which still needs some work), embedded audio streams, and especially the Quicksilver-esque keyboard shortcuts have all been executed very smartly, and I'm looking forward to using this in the future.