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Saturday, May 05, 2007

I'm thinking it's a bit too late for this...

AP: Activists Want Chimp Declared a 'Person'

[h/t anonymous photoshopper]

Liberating Paris

The title of this post might suggest that I am referring to Socialist Segolene Royal's warning of violence and brutality that would befall France should her opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, win Sunday's presidential election.

If you thought I meant that, you'd be wrong.
Paris Hilton, her long blond hair tied back in a ponytail and oversized sunglasses shading her eyes, pulled up to L.A. traffic court near downtown Friday more than 15 minutes late for her probation violation hearing.

It was perhaps a moment when being prompt would have proved more fashionable.

Two hours later, Hilton departed with a 45-day jail sentence and a verbal comeuppance from the judge, who told her the time had come to take responsibility for her own actions. She has until June 5 to report to Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood to serve her time or risk a total of 90 days behind bars.
There is a debate going on right now about how deserving she was of such a harsh sentence. Some say it doesn't fit the crime while others are of the opinion that perhaps now faced with the consequences of her actions will wipe the perpetual smirk from her multi-million dollar visage.

The burning question? When is "The Simple Life: Lockdown" coming to E!?

Meme has more.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Culling the Herd

The prospective presidential pachyderm parade was the talk of the blogs yesterday and there was definitely a prevailing theme during the debate: don't mention Bush. While there were numerous invocations of former president Ronald Reagan, only once was Bush mentioned, and only then was it about how the candidates would be different from the current White House occupant.

One way they are trying to differentiate themselves from Bush is in combating terrorism, an area in which the Bush administration has been rather delinquent despite recent attempts to blame all the ills of Iraq on Al-Qaeda. John McCain gave a rather creepy tirade about following Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell. But the award for the most asinine anti-terror policy goes to Mitt Romney. According to Mitt, Bin Laden doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things because there will always be someone to take his place. I tend to agree with that sentiment but I think it down plays his importance in the terms of closure for the victims of his violence. But then there was Mitt's claim that this war is about the efforts of a whole horde of organizations bent on causing the collapse of moderate Islamic governments and the establishment of a modern day caliphate in the Middle East. No mention of Iran though, guess he forget they're the latest boogeyman de jour.

Such ignorance of the intricacies of the geopolitical landscape is only matched by the Bush administration's similar lack of vision. If this is the best the GOP has to offer, more tough-guyism lacking any basis in reality, we may find ourselves longing for the good old days of Bush II.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Free Pundit

Note to John McCain: We get it, you're an "energetic" seventy-year-old man.

Quick Post McGraw: The Sausage-Fest Edition


Spreads like butter...

...though I prefer cream cheese, the lox spread variety, with my non-stop "480 Minutes" of IndieRockNoisePop. Ted's new music today includes:
Get Him Eat Him, Hallelujah The Hills, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Girl In A Coma, Acute, Palomar, The Clientele, Through The Sparks, Elliott Smith (new 24-song posthumous release), The Electric Soft Parade, Cat-A-Tac, Matt Lutz, The Teeth, Eloise, The Boggs, Pop Levi, The Phoenix Foundation, Midnight Movies, Shapes And Sizes, Ray's Vast Basement, Great Northern, and Volunteer Pioneer.
As usual the show starts at 9:00 A.M. Pacific and, of course, that's noon for us East Coasters. Enjoy!

And P.S., Internet radio still need saving. Serious, serious, saving. See the BAGeL Radio blog for more info on how you can help!

Opening The Files: 04/04/07

The Misadventures of Commander Guy Cody

The graphic in this post comes to us by way of Guav DNA and is the perfect manifestation of how our Space cadet-in-chief has been acting lately. In addition to the "All Al-Qaeda, All the Time" song and dance, he also donned his "Veto Man" cape for only the second time this week and word has it he'll do it once more.

Anyone else notice a pattern? First it was no to stem cell research which could lead to life saving treatments. Then it was no to withdrawing our troops from Iraq, thus sparing them possible death and dismemberment abroad. Now it's no to expanding hate crimes protections.

For someone who keeps proclaiming his number one job is protecting Americans, he sure has a funny way of showing it.

Eugene Robinson says that Bush is laying the fog of war on a bit thick.

Don Q. Blogger notes that when the going gets tough, the Bushies go with what worked so often before. Too bad no one's buying this time round.

Alex Blagg has some other ways to describe this President.

Mike Luckovich on our stamp happy pappy.

And Mark Fiore on the one and only mission that Bush has been able to accomplish.

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

Thursday, May 03, 2007

An exorcism

O.K., I confess. I am watching Keith Olbermann's pre-game to the GOP presidential debate. I'm loving the fact that Keith is, well, being Keith and that his audience tonight potentially has a ton of usually loyal FOX News fans. Across Red America heads are spinning as they listen to Keith berate their Commander Guy. And Keith's not alone. Read this GOP-on-the-ropes spin those tender-eared Republicans had to hear:
Howard Fineman: [T]he problem here is that the old conservative coalition, which was built by Ronald Reagan, in who's building we are, and really perfected, if not over-perfected, by George W. Bush, is now falling apart. It's falling apart on defense It's falling apart on government, because George Bush has been a big government conservative so a lot of them dislike him for that, and a lot of evangelical Christians don't find any of these candidates to their liking. So those three parts of the conservative movement have fallen apart before our eyes and with it the Republican party over Iraq.
Ouch. MSNBC's not going to win over many FOX viewers with insight like that. This GOP debate night* is turning out to be more fun than I thought it would be.

*I will not be watching the actual debate however. The two-tuner DVR is full-up on Thursday's. Earl, Office, Survivor, Scrubs, CSI easily beat a bunch of sorry looking grumpy old men for my viewing dollar.

Reports of my capitulation have been greatly exaggerated

This morning, WaPo reported that the Democrats had backed down from their calls for a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. But the Dems say "Nuh uh".

So who to believe? Did WaPo flub the lede or is this a case of the Democrats trying to refute a disparaging but unfortunately accurate headline?

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

The "Times" they are a changin'

First the New York Times opts out of dinning with power and now they hire an editor who's willing to speak truth to them. This is good news. I'm guessing Miller time is officially over.

[h/t ThinkP]

Outlaw Hate Crimes Now

Petition text:
Dear Senator,

I urge you to vote for the Hate Crimes Prevention Act to send a message that anti-gay violence will not be tolerated in the United States.

The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 1105) provides important backup where state and local authorities cannot or will not act. It would make violent crimes prosecutable as hate crimes when the victim is targeted because of his or her gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

It's up to you to capitalize on momentum created by the House of Representatives. Don't be distracted by bogus criticism from the Far Right that the legislation will "gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda." The law is clear that it targets only violent crimes.
Sign the petition here.

Update: Shakes has more.

Quick Post McGraw: The Boo! Edition

Al-Qaeda Card

Commander Guy vs. The Pursemen

Well it looks as though the Democrats will be backing down on Iraq if this WaPo article is to be believed. They will still press for benchmarks for the Iraqi government but the the timeline is dead in the water. And those benchmarks are pretty much floaters as well since they won't have any teeth to them (i.e. consequences for failing to meet them). Heck, even if they did, The Decider Commander Guy would just ignore them since he deems anything from Congress to be nothing but "advisory" in nature.

I don't know where things will go from here but I do know that the Dems need to keep pressure on the White House if they truly are "committed to ending this war" as Speaker Pelosi claims. For my money (and everyone else's), I'm leaning toward the "short-leash" strategy favored by the likes of Jack Murtha whereby Congress piecemeals out funding. Say they fund the war through the end of September, when the results of the surge are supposedly going to become available. If things aren't going well, change how future funds will be doled out. Make Bush work for his war allowance in other words.

And if Bush doesn't like it, tough titty. If he starts shouting "You can't do that, you have to give it all to me right now!" all the while stomping his feet and holding his breath until he turns blue in the face, Congress should send him a nicely worded letter (not unlike the one he sent along with his veto) reminding him that they are the ones in charge of appropriating monies. Whose the one being unconstitutional now Mr. Commander Guy?

It's about time Mom and Dad start being strict with Junior. Then again, maybe the Amazing Commander Guy will just go the route advocated by some of his more extreme supporters.

As always, Meme has the roundup of other reactions.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

'A certain level of violence'

This morning, President Bush spoke of what is it we hope to bring to the people of Iraq. (Via Richard)
Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve.
Leaving aside the grammatical faux pas, such a statement redefines chutzpah in a whole new way coming less then 24 hours after a State Department official seemed to be saying that the increased violence in Iraq is actually a good thing.

We claimed to want to bring democracy but now we can't even guarantee normalcy.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Food For Thought

An encounter with a sea urchin and other musings about dinner last night. And, yes, I am whoring my girlfriend's blog. If I can't whore her, then whom can I whore?

Aid and Comfort

The Washington Post is reporting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem during the Help Iraq Conference in Egypt this week.

This then begs the obvious question: Will the right now call Rice a traitor and a terrorist sympathizer? Cue the crickets.

Update: Think Progress and the Carpetbagger add their two cents.

I, Spy

This has been lost in the shouting match between Congress and President Bush over the war in Iraq but I feel it deserves some attention.

President Bush is a criminal. For over five years he broke the law. It's that simple. Every time he reauthorization his warrantless wiretapping program he was committing a felony. Even after it was discovered, he continued. The only reason he was not immediately impeached and rendered to authorities is because he was able to fearmonger enough people into questioning whether or not he had in fact committed a crime. Having a compliant Republican Congress fully willing to cover-up his actions didn't hurt either.

But now the Bushies are scared. The Democrats control Congress and are not shy about exercising their oversight authority, as the numerous hearings on Capitol Hill demonstrate. So the Bushies are hoping that while everyone's attention is on Iraq, they can scare up enough votes to absolve themselves of criminality.

My friend The Heretik has the highlights of Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell's trip before the Senate Intelligence Committee where he cryptically argues that Bush still has the power to authorize warrantless surveillance and yet at the same time they are seeking to amend FISA to allow what they already claim authority to be able to do. Needless to say the panel members remain skeptical, as well they should.

As the NY Times opines: "Mr. Bush long ago lost all credibility in the area where this law lies: at the fulcrum of the balance between national security and civil liberties."

It's long past time we balanced the scale to give due concern to both.

Update: Meme roundup.

(One for the archives at The Xsociate Files)

Learning from the Master and Commander

The Bush administration likes the trot out the President's dual role as Commander-in-Chief whenever it helps their argument for why Dubya has the final say, particularly when it pertains to the war in Iraq or the all encompassing war on terror.

Bush was in full spin mode last night trying to explain why he carried out his veto threat on a bill that would set a timetable for withdrawing troops. He had the audacity to proclaim that the Democrat's plan is a "prescription for chaos and confusion". A rather nonsensical description, especially when you consider that the Bushies' man in Iraq is doing his best to help fill such a prescription already. (h/t Shaun)
Iraq’s prime minister has created an entity within his government that U.S. and Iraqi military officials say is being used as a smokescreen to hide an extreme Shiite agenda that is worsening the country’s sectarian divide.

The “Office of the Commander in Chief” has the power to overrule other government ministries, according to U.S. military and intelligence sources.

Those sources say the 24-member office is abusing its power, increasingly overriding decisions made by the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior and potentially undermining the entire U.S. effort in Iraq...

Ali Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government, would not respond directly to questions about what authority the Office exercises within the Iraqi government. He denied allegations that the prime minister's advisers were trying to push a Shiite agenda.

However, a senior Iraqi army officer disagreed. The officer, who is seeking help from the senior U.S. command, said: "The Office is not supposed to be taking charge like this. It's overstepping its role as an advisory office. It's not a healthy thing to have. It's people with no power who want to have power."
Remind you of anyone?

On a somewhat related note, in addition to yesterday being Mission Accomplished and Law Day, it was also Loyalty Day. Indeed a trifecta of irony if ever there was one.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Bush is talking like Churchill, but it's an empty act. He's a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. He's stalling, hoping for a miracle that will save him and his bungled war. But the end is coming. The only question is how many more people will have to die before it does." - Gary Kamiya,, a worthy read re the GOP and their defeatist charge.

Coming Soon

(h/t SpinDentist for inspiration)

(A bit of photoshoppery goodness from The Xsociate Files)

Happy Mission Accomplished Day!

Not sure if I'll have time to post today, work has been crazy busy, but I at least wanted to wish you all a happy Mission Accomplished Day. Thankfully, all our troops are home safe and sound. Thankfully, a democracy has be born in Iraq with the help of shock and awe. Thankfully, we haven't wasted over a half-a-trillion dollars pulling this whole awesome war thing off. And thankfully, the world is a safer place today than yesterday. Now get out there and enjoy your freedom!

Delegating Justice

Fate is not without its sense of irony. So it was, that on the same day President Bush commemorated Law Day, the top story should be the further erosion of the independence of the Justice Department. Murray Waas reports that not only was Attorney General Gonzales involved in the US attorney purges, but also delegated his authority to hire and fire anyone to his woefully inexperienced but well connected subordinates.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department...

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.
The whole piece deserves a read, but as one official who talked to Waas said, the reason such actions are so verboten is because they "posed a serious threat to the integrity of the criminal-justice system." Funny how the same can be said of the Bush administration and the rule of law.

Update: Another must read post from Scarecrow.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Still Lapping Up the White House Spin

AP: Bush will work with Democrats on Iraq

See, the president is a reasonable guy. The Associated Press tell us so. He is willing to work with the Democrats. The Associated Press tell us so. And besides, it's not the president's fault that this veto will come to pass. He had made his position "very clear" and it's the Democrats who "chose to ignore" his clearly stated will. Of course, the will of the American people, as reflected in the spending bill, has been clearly stated as well, but that doesn't come into play because we are all still living in a pre-veto mentality.

One would figure, that on the four-year "mission accomplished" anniversary, the press would have learned to stop lapping up the president's spin. One would figure.

No Necessarily the News

News org partners with parody mag.

WASHINGTON (XF) - In the wake of reports that Fox News ran a story that turned out to be from a satirical website, owner Rupert Murdoch has announced that Fox will officially be partnering with long running parody magazine The Onion. In a statement released to the press, Murdoch explained the reason for the merger.

"Viewers already expect a certain amount of fiction in our news reporting, so it only made sense to give them more of what they are looking for," the statement reads.

It has also been confirmed that Fox's parent company, News Corp., will launch an as yet unnamed channel showcasing the up-to-the-minute reporting their flagship channel is known best for.

(A snark from the mind behind The Xsociate Files)

Opening The Files: 04/30/07

April Foolers

Former CIA Director George Tenet sat down with 60 Minutes last night to give a preview of his new tell-all book in which he blasts the Bush administration for everything from failing to heeds warnings about Al-Qaeda in the summer of 2001 to rushing to war with Iraq without really thinking about whether or not it was a good idea to do so.

Trying to preemptively refute some of those claims, Condi Rice took to the Sunday morning show circuit. Let's just say her performance wasn't very convincing. She decided not to go with the Alberto Gonzales defense of not recalling the warnings and instead seemed to be suggesting that we didn't have ample cause to go after Bin Laden prior to 9/11. So much for those embassy bombings in Africa or the attack on the USS Cole. Then again, maybe they were the reason we had to take out the not so imminent threat of Saddam. Lord knows none of the other rationales stuck around for long, unlike our troops.

Arianna Huffington says that while it may be too late for Tenet, there is still time for others to do the right thing.

Shorter Maha: What happens in Condi's mind, stays in Condi's mind.

Digby says it's unfair to claim that there wasn't any substantial debate about whether to go to war since President Bush spoke with his most trusted war advisers.

The Heretik teaches us about four faced facts and imminences. Or something.

Tenet laments that his "slam dunk" comment was taken out of context but Paul Abrams says this explanation is even more damning.

Michael Linn Jones says watching Tenet speak out is like watching the retrieval of a sea anchor of truth. It's long past time we hang it around the necks of those in the Bush administration.

And for those interested, a slightly nauseated Oliver Willis notes that Condi also has a book due out. Rejected titles included "Bush Trough" and "Steamy Rice".

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

As the U.S. Surges, Maliki Purges

When George W. Bush stood before the American people to announce his new way forward in Iraq, otherwise known as "the surge," he stated the following as one of the differences as to why this surge is not like the others that came before:
This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
The president went on to quote Prime Minister Maliki directly:
Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."
So, a large part of the surge's success was predicated on the prime minister and his new heavy-handed approach with his own base. From the start it was pretty clear, for those of us who did not believe in ponies, that such reliance on Maliki was foolish, if not deadly. Today, the Washington Post reports that despite the president's assurances that this time things would be different, like a drunken, cheating husband asking for another chance, it turns out things are not so different after all:
A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.

Although some of the officers appear to have been fired for legitimate reasons, such as poor performance or corruption, several were considered to be among the better Iraqi officers in the field. The dismissals have angered U.S. and Iraqi leaders who say the Shiite-led government is sabotaging the military to achieve sectarian goals.
If this coordinated, sectarian, military purge does not prove, once and for all, that the United States is being played the fool by Maliki (and his true master, al-Sadr) then I do not know what will.

Update: Speaking of being played the fool:
Five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq over the weekend, raising the number of American troops killed this month to over 100 and making April one of the deadliest of the war for U.S. forces.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Less Than Great Expectations

My esteemed colleague Creature flagged this briefly yesterday but the news deserves a fuller airing. It would seem that just like the Strategy for Victory and a New Way Forward plans before it, The Surge is now just as defunct. They've lowered the bar yet again, not only putting off an assessment of how well the surge is working until September but also scaling back their expectations of what the Iraqi government is able to accomplish. But what is this, you might be saying, weren't we told ad infinitum by proponents that we should give this plan a chance to work because it would give the Iraqi government the "breathing room" it needed to come to a political reconciliation? For anyone who believed that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Face it. Just like with most of what we are told about the war, the surge was a lie from the start. It was never meant to bring about progress, it was merely a delaying tactic. Another in an endless series of kick the bullet riddled can down the road a ways.

And those few successes that did happen have crumbled like so many other failed business ventures George Bush has been at the helm of.

I would say that we should expect more from our leaders. But with this bunch, that's one expectation too far.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)

Truth in Comics

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