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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Live at Five: The Meme

I have been tagged. Thanks, Shakes. Just what I wanted to do on a holiday weekend, think about stuff. Jeez.

Okay, here's the deal: 5 stories/things about me, 4 true, 1 false. Guess the false. I dare you.

UPDATE: The truth is out there and revealed after the fold. I will be contacting the winners shortly!

1) My best friend, Ted, and I, around the age of twelve, traveled into Manhattan from Queens to purchase tickets to see the band Squeeze at Madison Square Garden. While on line we were approached by a man who promised us better tickets without having to wait on the humongous line. We said, cool, and the man proceeded to take us to the Macy's employee entrance about a block away from the Garden. Ted went with the man, our meager savings in hand. I waited at the door. A few minutes later the man returned alone and said Ted needed more money. I handed the man the rest of my cash (incredible, I know) and the man headed back inside. About ten more minutes passed and Ted came back very much alone and without any tickets. Long story short, we wuz robbed and seriously embarrassed. TRUE! We were young, we were dumb, that's for sure.

2) I interviewed with Soon-Yi to become Woody Allen's weekend driver. It was my second interview (the first was with Woody's assistant) so I was expecting the Wood-man himself, but much to my surprise it was Soon-Yi at the office door. She was so sweet. We talked about my writing and about school, but nothing about my driving. I didn't get the job (it seems Woody hates change), but I got a Soon-Yi story out of it, so not bad. TRUE! It was quite a surprise meeting Soon-Yi and like I said she was really great.

3) One boring summer when I was around ten I got mixed up with a slightly, let's say adventurous, kid in the neighborhood. Well, this kid and I broke into his neighbor's house through an open basement window. After stealing, and consuming, a few beers from the basement fridge we headed upstairs making believe were detectives hunting down the bad guys. At one point "crazy kid" throws open a bedroom door only to find the lady of the house cowering on the far side of the bed with a pistol in hand. Next thing we know, she starts shooting. I have never ran faster in my life. The police never questioned me about the break-in and the shooting (I don't think anyone realized I was friends with this kid), but to this day I feel guilty for scaring the shit out of this poor lady. [And I blame Ted for this story seeing as how he used to leave me alone in the city during the summers while he went off to camp.]FALSE! Yup, this is it. All false and stolen from a short story I wrote many years ago. Congrats to Shakes, Jack, and Mark for getting it right.

4) I wrote a novel. I had a signed contract with a reputable literary agency (The Lazear Agency). Then the deal fell through after I couldn't pull off the re-writes. I was almost famous. TRUE! Lazear put me under contract to keep me as their own, then when I couldn't pull off what they wanted for the re-writes they let me go. Oh well.

5) TRUE! And deleted for my own safety.

Figure out the falsehood and you win a prize! And the tagging continues for the next fab five: Stickings, Fixer, X, Wayne, and Mark.

UPDATE: There really is a prize. Any book, under 35 bucks, from Simon Says dot com. Be prepared to send me a shipping address. Offer will expire as soon as this post leaves the main page has expired.

Road Trip Recap

Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with endless stories about my recent vacation through the midwest and south; I'm going to let the Mrs do it. She is now serving up her Daily Dish, road-trip style, and I encourage y'all to take a look.

WARNING: Side effects upon visiting Daily Dish include weight gain and binge-eating. Please be sure to visit on a full stomach only or keep a healthy snack on hand.

Digging a deeper hole

Let the escalation begin.
Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.
The president now has the military cover he so desperately needs. Did anybody really believe it would turn out different? Sigh.

The Los Angeles Times has more.

Not So Goode Hate

Last month, right-wing talk show host Dennis Prager whipped up a fake scandal over Congressman-elect Keith Ellison's intention to be sworn in using a Koran come January. Prager has since been reprimanded by the Holocaust Memorial Council of which he is a member but it would seem we have another willing to stir the bigotry pot. And this one's a member of Congress.

Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode (R) has made headlines after sending out a letter to constituents in which he raised fears of an influx of Muslims into the US. He also criticized his soon to be fellow Congressman, in fact Muslims in general, saying that if Americans don't wake up on immigration there will be many more Muslims elected to Congress. Never mind that Ellison isn't an immigrant to begin with but hey when your on a roll, little things like facts just get in the way.

Mr. Ellison, for his part, took it all in stride, a fact for which his to be commended. For no doubt he has already received threats of violence against himself and his family because of these hate-filled comments.

Which makes such episodes all the more appalling. These men must be aware that there are some out there who may read or hear their words and be compelled to act upon them. Should that tragic day ever arrive, which I sincerely hope it does not, we should remember the hate preached by such individuals and hold them accountable for it.

More from The Heretik, Cenk Uygur, NY Times, and a scathing op-ed from WaPo.

(Another one for the cabinet over at The Xsociate Files)

State of the Day for Dummies

How to read this post:
  • Step One: Read article
  • Step Two: Hold breath, read comments to article
  • Step Three: Keep holding, read more bile
  • Step Four: Breathe
  • Step Five: Shower
  • Step Six: Insert half-assed comment: "So much for the season of good cheer." OR "I dare them to say that shit to a Democrat like Jim Webb."
  • Step Seven: Link, pass on

Friday, December 22, 2006

A tale of two headlines

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino came out today to remind the press that it was their duty to print a positive story* about the all the work the president will be doing over the holidays. There will be meetings, there will be mulling, but there won't be any decided.
Bush plans to meet with the National Security Council on Thursday for "further consultations" about Iraq, said Perino.

"I would not consider that to be a decisional meeting," she said.
As the president mulls, people die. What a mess this presidency has become. Train. Wreck.

*though this Reuters reporter did manage to end his/her "hard work" story on a liberal pleasing note:
But as his helicopter landed in a field near the medical center, a house across the street displayed signs saying, "Bush lied, Innocents died" and "Peace on Earth."
Peace on Earth, indeed.

Friday Boyfriend & Girlfriend Blogging

TIMMY! and Butters sittin' in a tree..

Myth Busting

Awesome (though I do wish they had let her go after they filmed her).
A Japanese research team has succeeded in filming a giant squid live -- possibly for the first time -- and says the elusive creatures may be more plentiful than previously believed, a researcher said Friday.
CNN has the video as well.

Escalation and the PNAC

With all the talk of a possible "surge" in Iraq and the deployment of more ships to the Gulf as a show of force against Iran, now seems most appropriate to once again remind everyone of who the real policy makers are in the Bush administration.

(An obliging tip of the hat to my brother-in-law, who like many of us, is frightened of what the new year will bring)

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Best DJ Evah

That's right kids, for the second year in a row, our own DJ Ted has been voted the best of the best from the Bay Area. Big, big props to ya, Ted.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about and want to hear what the "Best DJ" spins and speaks about, today would be a great day to start. Every Friday Ted does a live show called "480 Minutes." The show today will be a remote broadcast from the Midwest (Roscoe, IL.) and it will run from from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Pacific, 10 a.m. Eastern, and 9 a.m. in the Central Time Zone. You can listen to BAGeL Radio on iTunes (just launch iTunes, go to the Radio section, then look for BAGeL Radio under the Alt/Modern Rock category) and on Live365. Or just click on the BAGeL Radio graphic at the top of the page for more. It's that easy.

Also, be sure to check out the BAGeL Radio blog. There you will find numerous ways to get in touch with Ted. You can talk music or even request a song. Mention that you came from State of the Day and he may even play your musical request on the air (well, through the Internets). Plus at the BAGeL Radio blog you will find Ted's "2006 Best Of" lists so you can catch-up to all the music the kids are listening to these days (Silversun Pickups is my personal new fav). The BAGeL Radio blog: it's one stop shopping for all your musical needs.

Again, congrats, Ted.

Listen more, because you can't always talk about politics.

Dead Ender

Don't stop believing, Condi. Don't stop believing.
"I don't think it's a matter of money," Rice said. "Along the way there have been plenty of markers that show that this is a country that is worth the investment, because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor you will have a very different kind of Middle East." [emphasis dreamily mine]
La de da de da more.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pee in my pants frightening

Today the Pentagon confirmed the rumors.
The United States and Britain will begin moving additional warships and strike aircraft into the Persian Gulf region in a display of military resolve toward Iran that will come as the United Nations continues to debate possible sanctions against the country, Pentagon and military officials said Wednesday. [...]

Senior American officers said the increase in naval power should not be viewed as preparations for any offensive strike against Iran. But they acknowledged that the ability to hit Iran would be increased and that Iranian leaders might well call the growing presence provocative.
The problem with sending belligerent signals to Iran is that as the rhetoric gets more heated, as the brink comes rushing fast, George W. Bush has proven he is willing to take the United States right up to the line and then cross over. If Bush starts threatening Iran you can be sure he will follow through, broken army or not, and that is just terrifying. Pee in my pants frightening. What ever the administration's agenda (most likely oil), what ever the stated excuse (a generational battle between extremists and moderates, wev), the elections have passed and the administration is ready to follow through on the rest of their Middle East destabilizing neo-con plan. This story should be front page news.

The New York Times and Glenn Greenwald have more.

Quick Flick Pick

Last night the isolated, delusional, paranoid president took center stage on Scarborough Country. As the president goes it alone with respect to his escalation strategy in Iraq, the panel, led by rah rah conservative Joe, turns the conversation to impeachment. Watch the clip, then go shopping, and make the president proud.

This edition of Quick Flick Pick is graciously hosted by Crooks & Liars.

How fuckin' convenient

With all the talk lately about a conflict between the president and his top military brass over escalating the number of troops currently in Iraq, today we conveniently get these two wire stories to help the president's side of the escalation argument along. Like Bush's political campaigns, where rooms are filled with like-minded people, if these soldiers were cherry picked and used as spin fodder for these headlines then the White House has sunk to an all new low.
No soldier present said U.S. forces should be brought home, and none said current troop levels were adequate, as some commanders have argued.
Amazing. Not one dissenting opinion.

A rhetorical caveat

Did Bush blink?
Apart from any increase in Iraq, Bush said the military's overall size should be increased to relieve the heavy strain on U.S. troops, reversing the previous position of his administration during Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon tenure. Bush also said a troop surge in Iraq would have to be for a specific mission.

His remarks appeared intended to address doubts voiced by prominent military officials who worry that sending more troops to Iraq would be ineffective and put more demands on an already-stretched U.S. military.

"There's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before, you know, I agree on that strategy," the president said. [emphasis me]
So we have a caveat. The same caveat we have heard from the Pentagon brass. Does this mean Bush has turned away from the idea of a "surge" in troops? On last night's Hardball, Chris Matthews seemed to think so. He latched onto Bush's caveat as clear proof that the president is backing down from the surge idea. So, now we are all supposed to take a deep breath and sit back, secure in the knowledge that the president has stepped away from the neo-con cliff. If only we could trust what the president says. How long before the president announces that he has looked into the eyes of his new defense secretary and has been assured that there is a "specific mission that can be accomplished" and he is ready to agree on the new escalation strategy? It's only a matter of time, but in the meantime we'll be fed a steady diet of the "reasonable president" rhetorical spin.

The WaPo has more.

Sitemeter Snapshot

State of the Day: It's not just for tree huggin' hippies anymore. Welcome, Condi.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Countering escalation

American Prospect. Surging to Disaster. Everything you need to know about the really dumb, dumb, dumb, idea of sending more troops into Iraq. Just go, don't question why.

Clearing the way for escalation

When you disagree with the president... retirement becomes the new way forward. This from CNN:
A shuffle of top American generals in Iraq is likely to accompany the shift in U.S. policy that President Bush is considering.

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to go ahead with a retirement that is months overdue, according to the U.S. Central Command.

And the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, has indicated in recent months that he also may not stay much longer than the end of this year.

Since they have opposed sending more troops to Iraq, their departures could make it easier for Bush and his new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to switch course in the troubled campaign, where they are considering a short-term surge in forces. [emphasis me]
Just as the Iraq war was a foregone conclusion long before 2003, the escalation of 2007 is a foregone conclusion as well. This "surge" debate is simply window-dressing fancied up with "short-term" spin.

UPDATE: The LA Times has more.

The ISG aftermath

Politically speaking, can't it be said the White House's reaction to the Iraq Study Group's report has been a complete and utter failure? They chose to embraced the "new way forward" slogan and go out on an elaborate listening tour, all the while knowing that they would continue to stay the course just under a new and bolder name. But in opening up the decision making process they have opened up a can of worms: leaks, delays, back-stabbing, public support in the toilet, a shaken and defensive "I will not be rushed" president, Tony Snow having to defend the process, and the president, day after day after day. Not the smoothest sailing for the boys at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but then again, politically speaking, these folks -- Karl Rove -- have been off their political game for a while now.

Nomo Rights For You, Mr. Roboto

Religious right in uproar over robo rights.

WASHINGTON (XF) - In the wake of reports from the UK that robots, should they ever become a reality, may be afforded some of the same rights as humans has some on the religious right seething, The Xsociate Files has learned. Particularly troubling says Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, are claims that robots may be allowed to marry.

"I don't really like the idea of robots marrying," Mr. Dobson said, "Unless we create them with male and female parts, much the same way God created Adam and Eve, then I wouldn't have a problem it. But for two unisex robots to marry each other would be unnatural."

Mr. Dobson said that his organization is already lobbying Congress to enact legislation that would prevent rights from being given to robots yet to be created. Outgoing Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was particularly adamant that Congress act now before the issue became critical.

"We must enact laws now," Mr. Santorum said during a recent luncheon, "Otherwise what is to stop someone from marrying their toaster or their laptop?"

Critics, however, say that the need for such legislation is far from imperative and may in fact be harmful.

"How do you think people will react when they learn the truth about President Bush?" one analyst is quoted as saying.

(A snark from the mind behind The Xsociate Files)

Opening The Files: 12/20/06

Fixin' to Blow a Fuse

So it would appear that not only are the Bushies thinking of overloading the surge protector but also upping the voltage and adding a few outlets to our already overworked fusebox (not to mention our electric bill). I'm just dreading the day when this sucker finally blows, because all hell is going to break loose.

Will Bunch as a much needed Christmas gift for America. A shame it may already be too late.

Billmon is back from a long hiatus and says that it's looking increasingly likely the Bushies are opting for the "total war" strategy. BooMan says it might be time to choose something (or someone) else.

Josh Marshall wonders if this "surge" would better be described as a "ratchet". Knowing the Bushies, my money's on the latter.

Blue Girl noticed something about the Joint Chiefs that may explain why they don't like the idea of a "surge" in Iraq. Too bad it's not a trait shared with their Commander-in-Chief.

Robert Scheer wonders what they're smoking in the White House. Dubya Doobage perhaps?

And finally, The Rude One tells us what is really "dick"-tating this "surge".

(Another one for the cabinet over at The Xsociate Files)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gunboat Diplomacy

A few weeks back ABC News reported that as part of our "new way forward" in Iraq the president and the pentagon were considering "taking steps to curb Iranian interference in Iraq." Today, despite all the talk about The Decider not yet deciding a thing, there are plans for a new way forward. This nugget from NBC News:
The U.S. Central Command is aggressively planning a naval buildup in the Persian Gulf, including the addition of a second aircraft carrier, in response to a series of aggressive actions by Iran, U.S. military officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

The officials pointed to Iran's interference in Iraq — including its support for Shiite militants and shipments of improvised explosive devices into the country — recent military naval exercises in the Gulf, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The attempt at "gunboat diplomacy" is in its final planning stages. Although it has not been approved yet, it appears likely the increase in U.S. warships into the Gulf could come as early as January, the officials said.
Don't be fooled. The president has already decided. To George Bush "a change in Iraq" means a new, even bigger, war.

Read more.

Exit...Stage Left

For anyone who grew up during the last half century, the name Hanna-Barbera still brings to mind the joys of being a child. The cartoons produced by the duo of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera literally brought laughter to millions and helped inspire generations of cartoonists and artists. I myself grew up watching reruns of such classics as The Flintstones and Yogi Bear. And though I may have become an adult, my love for cartoons hasn't diminished and indeed probably never will.

Joe Barbera, who passed away yesterday at the age of 95, helped keep the kid in me alive.

Thanks, Joe. You will be missed.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

A war inside

If escalation in Iraq is inevitable, then this Pentagon report is the groundwork meant to point a finger at a target.
Armed militiamen affiliated with radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr pose the gravest danger to the security and stability of Iraq, surpassing Sunni Arab insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists, a new Defense Department report to Congress says.

The finding represents the military's strongest characterization of the danger posed by Sadr and is among the conclusions of a quarterly report to Congress that chronicles the instability in Iraq and record level of sectarian violence.
Choosing to take Sadr and his militia on my yet be the biggest miscalculation of the war so far [and that's saying a lot], though it seems this time the boys in uniform are holding their ground.
The chiefs have taken a firm stand [against the White House and escalation], the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.
But for all the leaks and the escalation talk the White House is eager to point out that "which way Bush is leaning remains unclear." And all that talk about the president leaning toward escalation, while probably true -- seeing as how the president never wants to be out mavericked -- may really be people trying to "litigate preferred options through the press." And if I had to guess who is "litigating the escalation option through the press" it would be the vice president and his neo-con pals. A bunch that has never met a soldier they weren't willing to sacrifice.

The Iraqi violence at an all time high story is from The Los Angeles Times and the Joint Chiefs with a backbone story comes courtesy of The Washington Post.

UPDATE: Move along, nothing to see here, nothing new from the White House. Tony Snow calls today's WaPo story bollocks.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Already Has

"Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come." - newly sworn in US Defense Secretary Robert Gate staying on script at a ceremony at the Pentagon. [emphasis mine]

I may not know much, but this I do know: Iraq is already a calamity, that is already haunting our nation, that has already destroyed our credibility and has clearly inspired enough new terrorists to endanger Americans for decades to come.

Failure in Iraq has already occurred, today is about mitigating the damage already done.

Heave Ho, Ho, Ho!

Santa booted from park.

ORLANDO (XF) - The Xsociate Files has learned that after a man impersonating Santa at the Disney theme park in Florida was told by park officials to cease and desist, another man was ejected from the park for a similar offense. Only in this case the man turned out to be the real Kris Kringle.

Park officials have since apologized over the incident, saying that they were only attempting to "preserve the magic of Santa Claus" but the damage has been done. A spokes-elf for the red-suited gift giver has said that all those involved have been moved into the "Naughty" column but due to energy concerns will not be receiving the traditional lump of coal in their stockings this year.

In a related incident, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was fined by the FAA for flying in restricted airspace and confusing pilots attempting to land at LAX.

(Some snarky levity from the mind behind The Xsociate Files)

Christmas at War

While I am loathe to clutter up Creature's place with one too many videos from YouTube, the latest from Ava Lowery at Peace Takes Courage warrants an exception.

(One for the archives at The Xsociate Files)

Surge, but...

Yesterday Harry Reid gave the Bush administration an inch.
The Senate's top Democrat offered qualified support Sunday for a plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, saying it would be acceptable as part of a broader strategy to bring combat forces home by 2008.

"If the commanders on the ground said this is just for a short period of time, we'll go along with that," said Reid, D-Nev., citing a time frame such as two months to three months. But a period of 18 months to 24 months would be too long, he said. ["but" emphasis mine]
Fine, surge away. Take thousands of American lives. Take countless of Iraqi lives. Only to end up right where you started. It's immoral and I for one cannot give Harry Reid the benefit of the doubt as some in the blogosphere are doing right now. It's exactly how the Democrats capitulated in '02 and allowed this insane war to move forward in the first place. Give Bush & Cheney an inch and they will take a mile. They will escalate now and they will escalate again tomorrow. They will escalate until their term is up. There can be no more "I supported the war, but..." There can be no more "I voted to give them authority, but really didn't think they would use it." There can be no more surrender to the administration and its face-saving plans.

Read more.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Damn liberal media

Why does the media continue to report only the bad news in Iraq?

I'm sure there was a school being painted right next to the Red Crescent offices that they failed to report on.

Truth in Comics

If it's Sunday, it's Truth in Comics.

Worst of the Worst

That was how former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once characterized the men held at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For years we were told how dangerous these men were. How they were "vicious killers" who would stop at nothing to kill as many Americans as they could, even chewing through their own restraints if necessary. The need to keep them locked up seemed obvious.

But now the AP has found that of the hundreds of men transferred to various other countries, many of them were subsequently set free. How can this be you might ask? How could these countries just let these men go? Don't they know how dangerous they are, as we have been told by our leaders for the past five years?

Or is it more likely that this "worst of the worst" rhetoric was just that: a baseless attempt to demagogue the American public into accepting the establishment of a facility that has since become a blight on this country. No doubt there are some at Gitmo who would wish to see harm come to Americans. But we should not let that change who we are: a nation that stands for justice for all, even for the worst among us.

Life for those still at Gitmo will be getting harder. The warden, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, said of these men "They’re all terrorists; they’re all enemy combatants". One wonders if this is how the Admiral thinks of men like Badarzaman Badar, now a free man in Pakistan who said of his time at Guantanamo "I can't wash the three long years of pain, trouble and humiliation from my memory. [..] It is like a cancer in my mind that makes me disturbed every time I think of those terrible days."

If only the same were true for this administration.

More from Jane Hamsher, The Heretik, and Liberty Street.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Opening The Files: 12/17/06

Further into the quagmire

Despite opposition from the American people, the Iraqi people, and even his own generals, The Decider appears to be diggin' in on Iraq. It would seem that his neocon buddies have been able sell him on their final fantasy. And even though the venture is unlikely to win us any hearts and minds anytime soon, it's onward into the quicksand we go.

But don't worry. The Decider's not losing any sleep over it.

David Kurtz dispels a few myths for us. Matthew Yglesias and Atrios chime in as well.

Bob Patterson wonders if Bush's new strategy involves trying to "out crazy the crazies".

Swopa drops the snark for some straight talk about Iraq and the need for change.

Bog Geiger has this week's cartoons.

And finally, Lewis Black schools us on time and how the anticipation of "the moment" is often better then the actual moment. A choice quote: "So I say, really, when you plan to do something, just plan it. Don't do it." Perhaps President Bush should have taken this advice to heart three years ago.

(One for the archives at The Xsociate Files)