December 31, 2005

I... I will begin again.

Ah New Years. A holiday that you can enjoy without taking sides in the culture wars. You can drink as much as you like (or not) and it say nothing about you politically at all.

Looks like we might be spending the New Year gathering up two of every animal. Party now, for in the morning we may all be under water.

In case you need an excuss to drink right now, remember its becoming 2006 somewere in the world right now. You can check times here. Shanghai and Singapore just went over, and Jakarta and Bangkok are up next. One World. One People. One Party. Many reasons to drink.

December 30, 2005


At the heart of every good story there is an act of profound stupidity. You really have to earn a good story. Sometimes the dumb act is just leaving your house that day. Sometimes you have to try harder. This kid has a hell of a story, and he really earned it. Farris Hassan, 16, whose parents are from Iraq but who was born and raised Stateside, went all the way to Baghdad to write an essay on Iraq for a class. This kid will actually make a great reporter some day. Great reporters, who we rely on to know what goes on in places like Iraq, are a perfect combination of smart and dumb. Smart enough to write well, dumb enough to go to places like Iraq. So this kid was smart enough to get to Baghdad with some milk money and no Arabic, but dumb enough to try it. Perfect.

December 29, 2005

Slow Day

This is perhaps the slowest news day in the middle of the slowest news week of the year. Everbody is home with their families instead of out in the world, committing news. I would do a follow-up to the Anna Nichole Smith story, but really, I don't have anything to add. Speaking of home for the holidays, I'm guessing that family dinner is a little difficult for this family. This is why eveyone is doing year in review and top ten movie lists. Nothing new to talk about.

December 28, 2005

Poison Fruit

Doesn't Bush watch Law and Order? Don't you know how many headache it causes for the DA's in the second half of the show when the cops in the first half don't follow the Constitution? Via TAPPED we see that because the case against terrorist suspects involved illegal, extra-constitutional wiretaps, those cases are now in legal jeopardy. And the more rules get broken, the harder it is to make leagal terrorism cases, thus leading to more broken rules:

The reason is that the illegality of the unlawful operations winds up poisoning the operations of the normal legal process, as we're seeing today, rendering it increasingly ineffective and forcing more and more things to be pushed into the "off the books" illegal side of our policy. You can't, in the long-term, suspend due process and normal legal procedures "just a little." Once you reach a critical mass of outside-the-law activities, their scope will keep on expanding unless you reach a point where you're prepared to disavow them entirely.

The whole justice system is, at its core, about following the rules. Everybody following the rules. Tempting as it is to go outside the law, particually when the the bad guys are so bad, it always bites us in the ass. If the government starts breaking the rules, the whole system is in jeopardy. Which will in the end make us all less safe.

December 27, 2005

Bush: Pro-Bimbo

The story was good enough already, but it just got better. The Bush administration will be aiding the case of Anna Nicole Smith, she of the really big, um, hair, in her fight to inherit millions of dollars of her late, great 89 year old oil tycoon husband. The case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The issue at hand is not was the marriage a farce (Yes!) or is the whiny son of the tycoon more deserving (Um, No!) but rather a serious issue. The issue is can a Federal court rule on a will drawn up under State law and the implications for the division of ...zzz.

OK, the issues of the case are kind of dull, unless you are a lawyer groupie. But Anna Nicole Smith is going before the Supreme Court with Bush's lawyers at her side. Priceless.


Hey did you know that using Xmas as an abbreviation for Christmas is actually an old Christian usage? They used the Greek letter "Chi" which looks like an "X" as a symbol for Christ. And I though I was always being edgy and hip by using Xmas on blog posts and cards and stuff. I got this fun fact from New Donkey, you can read all about it here.

So did everybody get what they wanted for Xmas? Everybody eat too much? Who else has to work this week? And by work, I just mean "show up" I don't mean actually "work"

December 24, 2005

Tracking Santa

NORAD, whose day job is to make sure the Soviet Union isn't firing missles at us, is doing something useful for a change. They are tracking Santa's movements around the globe. Something like 457 billion dollars went into creating this system, so it's good to get some use out of it.

December 23, 2005


...The Day before the day before Christmas and Craig still had shopping to do. But if you're in need of some political stuff check out this Howard Fineman item. It does a good job laying out what's coming next. Alito, the wiretaps, Presidential power, and the GOP's future, it's all going to come together. The 2006 elections are now a fight to the death. The moment the Donkeys get control of a branch of Congress they get the power to start a real investigation of Presidential activity. A Bush Presidency with an aggressive Congressional investigation active against it is a Presidency that is over. Does anybody believe that these guys could hold up under a real investigation?

December 22, 2005


Have you seen this penguin?

Answers to the name Toga, stolen from a British zoo five days ago. Does not, in fact, make a good pet, you dumbass, so give it back right now.

Please for the sake of the parents:

As you can see, they are clearly heartbroken. So do the right thing.

December 21, 2005

Balance of Power

Dick Cheney got a chance to do the only thing the Constitution needs him do, besides ask how the President is feeling today:

The Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation to cut federal deficits by $39.7 billion on Wednesday by the narrowest of margins, 51-50, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote.

The measure, the product of a year's labors by the White House and the GOP in Congress, imposes the first restraints in nearly a decade in federal benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans.

That's right, the Vice-President gets to break ties in the Senate. Your fun fact for the day. This happens every few years. Gives Cheney a break from manipulating things fron behind the scenes. Of course, I'm pretty sure that this act of VP power is going to screw me on a personal level. We will have to see if "restraints" in the student loan program are going to lead to "restraints" in Craig's beer buget.

December 20, 2005

Modern Life

So on my way home from work, I stop at the gas station. The credit/debit system is down so everyone has to pay cash at the counter instead of just running your card at the pump. There is this big line at the counter. Everyone with a vaguely ticked look on their face. Now I'm sure that some time in the past we all paid for gas with cash and we all had to stand in line to do that. But I don't remember that time. Do you?

While we are doing random life stuff, has anybody seen a tip jar filled with water before? Was at a pizza place downtown and when my buddy tried to leave a buck he had a start when he dunked his hand in water. The counter-girl, a pretty little thing, all tats and dreads, said it was to keep people from swiping her tips. Has anybody seen that before? It must make cashing out at the end of the night a real production.


A judge has thrown out intelligent design in biology class in a Pennsylvania public school district, ruling that intelligent design is just creationism with a few trimmings. This combines nicely with the fact that all the pro-ID school board members got bounced in elections in November.

In case you're wondering the overall score in the battle of Science verse Faith is Science 13,045, Faith 33,456. Science has been scoring a lot of points as of late, but Faith racked up a big lead early in the game before science was invented. Stay tuned.

Regime Change Jeopardy

Special Insomnia Version - Thank you for playing Regime Change Jeopardy. You've spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives, not to mention jeopardized your country's reputation and standing in the world. Jeff tell him what you've won!

A Pro-Iranian Shiite Theocracy! That's right, an alliance of religious Shiite parties with close ties to Iran are winning the just-held Iraqi elections. So the big winner in all this is Iran. You know Iran, they are the county that just banned western music and is working to get nukes.

Not that WMD really worries this administration too much cause it seems we just let a good part of the brains behind the Iraq WMD program out of jail:

Meanwhile, an Iraqi lawyer said at least 24 top former officials in Saddam Hussein's regime were freed from jail without charges. They included biological and chemical weapons experts known as "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax."

Of course this all could be a big mix-up. With those names they could have just a pair of cartoon villains that were in the county at the wrong time. I mean if you go running around with the name "Mrs. Anthrax" you are pretty much going to stay in trouble all the time.

December 19, 2005

Stop Sleazy Sloganeering

More sucky sloganeering from the Prez:

"It has been effective in disrupting the enemy while safeguarding our civil liberties."

He's talking about giving the NSA the power to do wire-taps on US citizens without a warrant. Now the the first point is debatable. Even if such wire-taps did disrupt the enemy it would probably be classified. And if such wire-taps were completely useless it would certainly be classified. So really we have no way of knowing the effectiveness of the program. Other than the word of the President, but that's not worth as much as it used to be worth.

The second part of the slogan is just wrong. Flat out wrong. This program has removed a fundamental right from Americans. To wire-tap a US citizen, you need a warrant from a judge. That's a pretty basic right. And now it's gone by Presidential decree. No law was passed, no court has ruled. The President just got up one morning, yawned, signed something without reading it and presto! A large hole just got carved out of the US justice system. Now you can say the threat we face is so evil we have to dump our rights only to save ourselves. But don't pretend that everything is A-OK as you start to put Amendments to Constitution into the shredder.

December 18, 2005

All Hail!

Bono named Time's Person of the Year. Along with some guy with a computer company who gave away alot of money with his wife. But the important thing is that Bono is Time's person of the year. I am now going to start a movement to have Bono elected President of the World.

Oh Man

John Spencer has died. He played Leo McGarry, the heart and soul of the West Wing. I really can't imagine the show without him.

G0 SEE Syriana

Syriana is a great, intriguing film. Its about politics and business, lawyers and money and CIA agents and intrigue, but really its about oil. Just like there are a million reason given as to why we are in Iraq, but really its about oil. The movie is operating on about five different levels. Kind of like real life.

This is a complex movie, complex like Middle East politics is complex, I'm tempted to try and outline the plot here, but one, its two complicated and I don't have all day and two, I don't want to spoil anything. But pay attention when you go see this. Drink coffee before hand. But not enough to have to go to the bathroom half way through. This is the kind of movie that you need to own on DVD because repeat viewing are vital just to understand everything that is going on.

So to sum up: Oil, Coffee, Syriana, Go See.

December 16, 2005


Civil rights on today's agenda. First, the renewal of the Patriot Act has been blocked in the Senate today. Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who was the only guy to vote against the act in the days after 9/11, made like the Henry Fonda character in 12 Angry Men and got 46 senators on board, which seems like enough to block the bill with a filibuster. Feingold was greatly helped in his efforts by revelations that Bush had the National Security Agency eavesdropping without warrants on people inside the United States. The Patriot was a bill, passed with the two towers still burning, that granted all kinds of new powers to the Feds. These Feds have done all they can to convince me that they shouldn't be trusted with any more power.

The important thing to know is that for all the talk of US soldiers "defending freedom" against the terrorists, terrorists will never take our freedom. Only we can do that. Unlike say Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, Osama will never be a threat to take over our government or conquer our nation. All he and his kind can do is set off a bomb. The loss of freedom, the loss of rights comes from our own fears. Terrorists are only a threat to our lives. It is our own government that is a threat to our freedom.

December 15, 2005


The GOP Congress has gotten involved in the "War On Christmas." Some fake law to protect Christmas from a fake attack. John Dingle a crusty old (Elected to the House 50 years!) Dem from Michigan has come up with the best reply ever:

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House

No bills were passed ‘bout which Fox News could grouse;

Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,

So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;

Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,

While visions of school and home danced in their heads;

In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,

Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;

Americans feared we were on a fast track to…well…

Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;

A fabrication straight from the mouth of O’Reilly

We can pretend that Christmas is under attack

Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;

Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger

Wake up Congress, they’re in no danger!

This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,

From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes…even Costco;

What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,

When this is the season to unite us with joy

At Christmas time we’re taught to unite,

We don’t need a made-up reason to fight

So on O’Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;

You should just sit back, relax…have a few egg nogs!

‘Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch

With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?

So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,

A merry Christmas to all,

and to Bill O’Reilly…Happy Holidays

All hail, John Dingell!

Last Hu-Ra

Election day in Iraq today. This is the last "Yee-Ha" moment that the Bush administration is going to be able to produce in Iraq. The last "milestone." The last "victory." The Saddam trial will drag on for years, decades even. There is a long list of crimes and eveyone will want a shot. The next election will not take place for four years. This is America's chance to declare victory and get out. Otherwise, we will be back to daily car bombs and 2.35 soldiers killed each day and that will go on forever...

December 14, 2005


Bush speech today:

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," Bush said during his fourth and final speech before Thursday's vote for Iraq's parliament. "As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that."

"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision," the president said. "Saddam was a threat and the American people, and the world is better off because he is no longer in power."

This is just crazy talk. Bush says that the intelligence was wrong. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Yet Bush still maintains that Iraq was a threat and we are better off with the war. But there was no threat. WMD was the threat. Without WMD Saddam didn't have the power to threaten anybody. Bush can't say that the intelligence was wrong and that the war was right. It just doesn't work. If I think about this any more my head is going to explode.

December 13, 2005

Porno Tax

Ah the Italian political system, the gift that keeps on giving. The same Country that brought you the porn star serving as an MP now brings you this:

Italy's cash-strapped government has decided to hike taxes on one of the country's few vibrant industries, pornography, to help rein in the burgeoning budget deficit, government sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The "porno-tax", which imposes an additional levy of 25 percent on all income from pornography, is contained in a package of amendments to the 2006 budget to presented in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday or Wednesday, the sources said.

Now, will this tax result in an overall decrease in porn consumption? Or is demand for porn inflexible, thus resulting in increased tax revenue? Why is porn the only vibrant Italian industry? Why not food, suites or sports cars? How is porn defined? Why am I asking serious policy questions about a story I linked to just to amuse and titillate?

Make War on War

All you media savvy Craigorian Chant readers have surely noticed the made-up controversy about X-Mas that has be rolling through the air as of late. Basically Foxnews and their fellow travelers have taken the fact that some stores now say "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas" adds up to some kind of WAR ON CHRISTMAS! Personally, I think that a holiday season that starts in mid-November and ends with Orthodox Christmas on January 7 needs an inclusive greeting like "Happy Holidays." Add in some controversies over nativity scenes on public property and you have an issue to distract people from the War and the fact that their company is eliminating their pension. Sam Seder, Air America guy, went on CNN and gave the issue the attention it deserved:

PHILLIPS: Let's start with the holiday card. What do you think, Sam?

SEDER: Listen, as far as the war on Christmas goes, I feel like we should be waging a war on Christmas. I mean, I believe that Christmas, it's almost proven that Christmas has nuclear weapons, can be an imminent threat to this country, that they have operative ties with terrorists and I believe that we should sacrifice thousands of American lives in pursuit of this war on Christmas. And hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

PHILLIPS: Is it a war on Christmas, a war Christians, a war on over-political correctness or just a lot of people with way too much time on their hands?

SEDER: I would say probably, if I was to be serious about it, too much time on their hands, but I'd like to get back to the operational ties between Santa Claus and al Qaeda.

PHILLIPS: I don't think that exists. Bob? Help me out here.

SEDER: We have intelligence, we have intelligence.

PHILLIPS: You have intel. Where exactly does your intel come from?

SEDER: Well, we have tortured an elf

December 12, 2005

Death in the Afternoon

Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to spare Tookie Williams, which means come 12:01 tonight, the State of California is going to kill Tookie. I really can't say if this the wrong choice. The man murdered four people and in the end is there anything that can make up for that? Tookie did plenty later in life, but really how do you make up for murder?

The way we balance death is a strange and flighty thing. Bush today said that he estimated that 30,000 Iraqis have died in the War. Bush considers this a price worth paying to bring "freedom" to the Middle East.

Human life means everything and so it means nothing. Tookie Williams can't pay for four deaths with anything other than his own life. His "good works" don't seem to balance the scales, but "Freedom" seems to weigh more that 30,000 lives. If Tookie Williams had overthrown a dictator and had to shoot four innocent people with a shotgun to do it, we would pin a medal on him. Social work, mentoring, writing a book don't seem to be enough.

So how much good does one man have to do to overcome four murders? And how many deaths have to occur before "Freedom" is no longer worth it.

December 10, 2005

Soccer Saturday

Now for some completely irony free enthusiasum for World Cup Soccer. The drawing of groups for next year's World Cup was held yesterday. Check out the homepage. Click on "Relive the Draw." It has this cool little animation which shows the different countries going to each group. The United States has drawn the "Group of Death." Don't you love a tournament that has a "Group of Death." What that means is the US is in a group with former Champion Italy and the Czech Republic (Currently number 2 in the world) along with Ghana. Top two advance, so the US has got to knock off a world powerhouse to advance. The toughest group in the tournament. Good luck gentlemen.

December 9, 2005

Just For Fun

While I was driving through Texas and Oaklahoma on my return trip from Redlands, I was listening to these guys on the radio talk about Rita Cosby (who hosts the show "Live and Direct with Rita Cosby" on MSNBC). Basically they were slamming her because they thought she was a bad journalist.

I knew of her and have listen to a minute or so of her program while flipping channels every so often. But the other night I watched a good 20 mins. of her show. And I must agree with those radio guys: She is the most talentless woman on TV. She's such an awful anchor. Words just can't describe how much she sucks. Please turn on her show (9pm EST) and be sure to give it at leas 15-20 minutes. If you only watch for a couple, you won't get the full effect and thus won't concur with my assessment. She has such bad timing, she talks too slow, her interviews are awkward and she has a horrible voice.

Also, I don't know why, but I'm so f***ing sick of John Lennon. I'm not quite sure why. I can tolerate all the Elvis crap, but the whole John Lennon thing just bugs me. Why? He didn't do anything wrong. He was a good person. I'm just so sick of the coverage. Yeah, yeah, he got shot, he was Beatle, give peace a chance, yada, yada, yada. Why do I feel this way?


Brand spanking new high speed internet connection makes me happy. The complete inability to find anything that I want to blog about. I was going to complain about having to scrape frost off my windshield this week to get to work, but with a massive snowstorm clobbering the rest of the country, it seems a little petty.

Anybody got anything?

December 8, 2005

Word of Mouth

So it turns out that Layer Cake has turned into a huge hit on DVD. And it's all because of me:

No recent film has so outperformed its theatrical box office as Layer Cake. No other film has even come close. The $20 million in American DVD rentals that the film earned is about nine times its theatrical box office in this country. What happened?

Layer Cake is a phenomenon that we're likely to see more of in the future, the word-of-mouth DVD hit.

Well, me and a whole bunch of other people just like me who saw it and passed on a good recommendation. Of course, most people can just pass on a recommendation to two or three people over lunch, while I, with the massive power of my blog behind me, can reach 300% to 400% more people that. I'll try not to let the power go to my head. Check out the rest of Slate on Layer Cake.

HTML Links

All y'all....... Go here to get "schooled" on links.

Word to all of your mothers.

(Snowing in St. Louis, off early from work---life is good at the DOD)

December 7, 2005

Some Things are Just Not Right

For Example:

Coca-Cola will launch a coffee-infused soft drink called Coca-Cola Blak.

An attempt has begun to draft Mel Gibson to run against Arnold in the primary next year.

Bush's evaluation of Iraq.

December 6, 2005


It really does grab your attention, doesn't it? There's just something in the lower regions of our brains that can't help it. So when giving a chance to sex up the growing mass of GOP scandals, I'm going to jump on it. Hotline has some details about Brent Wikes, a lobbyist with ties to the late, great Duke Cunningham.

According to the U-T, Wilkes also "ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in" DC -- "first in the Watergate Hotel and then" in a Capitol Hill hotel.

Come again? A "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?

Talk about raising more questions, including:

-- Why does a lobbyist need a "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?

-- Who uses those bedrooms and for what?

Good gawd, they are talking about sex here! Who was having the sex!? And with Whom!? Which is a question sure to draw the attention of people where bribery and misappropration of defense funds wouldn't. And the involvement of the Watergate Hotel is just a cherry on top.

On a related note, why does the Victoria Secret "Fashion" show get so much attention? I mean, in a world over-run with pretty girls in their underwear or less, (I would link, but this is a family blog) Why does this particular collection of pretty girls in their underwear get so much attention? I don't wonder why girls in their underwear, just why these girls and this underwear.

December 5, 2005

Hard Hard Hard

So the story to read this morning seems to be this WaPost story with the headline:

Democrats Find Iraq Alternative Is Elusive: Party's Elite Differ on How to Shift U.S. Policy.

Which is all about the Donkey's having trouble coming up with an alternative plan to Bush on Iraq.

Take this quote from the guy I wish was running US foreign Policy right now:

"I'm not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy," said former U.N. ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, who was widely considered the leading candidate to be secretary of state if Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) had won the presidency last year. "It's not something you can expect in a situation that is moving this fast and has the level of detail you're looking for."

Personally I think that this is diplomatic talk (Very diplomatic guy, Richard Holbrooke) for "Bush screwed up Iraq so badly, its hard to come up with a plan to solve it." The Dems are in an impossible spot. They can and do offer all kinds of really good ideas on Iraq. The best idea was, of course, don't invade Iraq, but there were others. Just to start:

Bring enough troops to secure the country.
Plan for the rebuilding of the country.
Don't disban the Iraq army.

Of course, Bush won't take these ideas, things get screwed up in Iraq, and then the poor Donkey FP big thinkers keep having to come up with solutions to worse and worse problems. Solutions that are ignored and that wouldn't be needed if some of their good ideas were followed in the first place.

December 2, 2005

I'm a Uniter

In an effort to get Tyler and Laura to come together, I present a death penalty policy so horrific that they can both condemn it. Singapore just hanged, hanged! an Australian man for drug smuggling. He was caught at the airport with 14 ounces of heroin. This is taking the war on drugs to a whole new god-awful level. Holding 0.53 ounces of heroin draws a mandatory death penalty in Singapore. Singapore has executed more than 100 people for drug-related offenses since 1999. In 2003 a man was executed for trying to carry 2 pounds of pot into the Country. A death penalty for pot!

Fish Story

A popular floating Sushi Restaurant is sinking into the Sacramento River. Samurai Sushi's newest feature will be dinner that swims directly to your table. The freshest fish possible.

December 1, 2005

"I keep a blue flag hanging out my back side, but only on the left side, yeah that's the Crip side!"

Here's an article on "Tookie" that shares my sentiments:

Crediting Williams for denouncing gangs is sort of like praising tobacco companies for their anti-smoking campaigns.

Should Schwarzenegger grant clemency? Delgadillo said: "I think the justice system has done its job and a jury of his peers found him guilty." (In plain talk: No clemency.)

Also, check out the author's audio opinion here

Refreshing. Not like Sierra Mist soda, but refreshing nonetheless!


December 1 is world AIDS day. AIDS has killed 25 million people worldwide. AIDS has faded as an issue in the United States as new drugs have come online that now makes it possible for people to live with the disease. AIDS in America is kind of like background noise, just one reason given among many for you to use a condom.

But these drugs are too expensive for the third world and the AIDS infection rate boggles the mind. 38% of Swaziland is HIV positive. Think about the demographics of that. You get AIDS in your late teens or early twenties. Without treatment, that means that instead of being a productive schoolteacher, construction worker or office worker in your late 30's or early 40's you will be dead. While means some of the countries in Sub-Sahara Africa will cease to exist in another generation.

Do what you can to help. Data is my recommended site, both for information and action.

Fun With Banners

Wonkette (Who is a dirty, dirty girl, whose blog I try and stay away from cause of its moral depravity) has a great series of pictures which tells you all you need to know about Bush's "Major" speeches on Iraq.

November 30, 2005

Same Old Same Old

It seems I keep putting the same post over and over again. Bush gave a "major" speech on Iraq today, but he's full of it, Iraq sucks and we are all going to die. Or something similar. For some reason the Washington conventional wisdom seems to be that today's speech was setting the stage for troop withdraws next year. The best example of this I can find comes from Mr Howard Fineman who is pretty much Washington conventional wisdom personified:

With his new “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” the president isn’t really aiming for “victory” in the conventional sense. Nothing is “conventional” in a war against Islamist terrorists, and Iraq will remain a breeding ground for them regardless. Rather, Bush’s goal is to begin a draw down of our troops before next year’s Congressional elections. To do that, he needs the Dec. 15 election in Iraq to go well, with Sunni participation. Then the troop reductions can begin.

The weak “cut and run.” This president, nudged by Karl Rove, will trim and tiptoe. That way, White House advisors hope Bush can pay homage to the Cheney neocon vision and save his presidency at the same time.

But I didn't really hear that in the speech. Of course I was taking a shower through most of it this morning, so I may have missed parts, but Bush did say something along the lines of:

We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

Now it seems pretty hard for the President to claim "complete victory" and start to pull troops out. I think that might be a rhetorical bridge too far. My guess is that the Bush team is trying to drop some hints about troop withdrawal to buy some time with the GOP and the media while Bush still beats the "no retreat, no surrender" drum. Not that they can do anything with that time except dig the hole a little bit deeper.

November 29, 2005

Death on a Tuesday

Not to bring down the mood, but Ohio just executed the 999th person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. The 1000th should happen this week.

Also, Stan "Tookie" Williams has been in the news a lot, as the Governator considers granting one of the founders of the Crips street gang clemency. Tookie stands convicted of four murders, but has turned it around in prison, working against gangs, writing childrens books and generally making himself more useful to society alive than dead.

So the question is: what is the death penalty for? If it about deterrence, Williams shouldn't die, because then the message that we send is turn your life around and die anyway. If it's about closure, by which we really mean revenge, then Williams needs to die. Four people are dead, they have families, and the families need Williams to die. We always overpersonalize crime in this country. Its not the families of the dead vs the accused, its society vs the accused. So the real question should be “Is society better off with Stan Williams dead or alive, not will some victims feel better with him dead. I think a pretty good case has been made that we are better off, as a society, with Williams alive.

So now it's up to society, in the form of a bodybuilder turned actor turned Governor to decide if this man lives or dies.

MORE: Slate has a really interesting story up. It appears that there is very clear evidence that Texas executed an innocent man. That fact alone should bring the death penalty to a screeching halt. The article also makes the point that the death penalty is extremely expensive. New Jersey has spent 250 million dollars on its death penalty system and hasn't managed to kill anyone. Personally, I think this is the best way to implement the death penalty. Give out death sentences, the families get "closure" but then make the process so hard and expensive that no one ever gets killed. The real problem with the Texas death penalty is that it’s relatively easy to kill people. Give me the New Jersey (and Californian) system. Lots of closure, no wrongful executions.

November 28, 2005

Going Down

Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of taking bribes and tax evasion and has resigned from the US House of representatives. I think he will be remembered as one of the first to fall, but by no means the last. Word is that my Congressman-at-my-last address John Doolittle (Great name, eh) is under investigation as well as a whole slew of others.

You know, it not too late to file. Anybody want to run for Congress? Openings now available. More opening all the time.

November 27, 2005

Personal Note

Do not try and set up a new apartment the weekend after Thanksgiving. I've had to make three trips to Target and it's ridiculously crowed each time. And it not like I realize that I need an organizer for my silverware till I get that box open...

November 25, 2005

Mr. Miyagi, RIP

Pat Morita has died. The Karate Kid was a key part of my childhood. We would spend hours just quoting back Mr Miyagi lines. Still do, come to think of it:

Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: I guess so.
Miyagi: [sighs] Daniel-san, must talk. Man walk on road. Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk down middle, sooner or later, get squished
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Same here. You karate do "yes," or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so,"
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I'm ready.
Miyagi: Karate come from China, sixteenth century, called te, "hand." Hundred year later, Miyagi ancestor bring to Okinawa, call *kara*-te, "empty hand."
Daniel: I thought it came from Buddhist temples and stuff like that.
Miyagi: You too much TV
Daniel: Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.
Daniel: Ever catch one?
Miyagi: Not yet.
Miyagi: Wax on... wax off. Wax on... wax off.

All the lines can be found here.

Day After Thanksgiving Open Thread

M&M's: Danger to society or harmless treat?

Wal-Mart Bargins: Worth fighting over?

Does any other family put peas in the stuffing, or is that just my brother-in-laws family?

What is the difference between a sweet patatoh and a yam, anyway?


November 23, 2005

Mixed Message

Wait, I thought the official company line from the Bush administration was "No Retreat, No Surrender" How is it that now the Pentagon is talking about pulling troops out:

Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.

Constant violence and massive car bombs in Iraq don't surprise us any more, so really there will be no "surprises" in Iraq to stop this. The real trick for the Bush-backers will be to call the actual withdrawal "heroic" while still bashing everyone who called for a withdrawal "cowardly."

Duty Calls

John Kerry just served jury duty. He was elected foreman, so it turns out he is electable. Seems he made a good impression:

"I just found him to be a knowledgeable, normal person," said Cynthia Lovell, a nurse and registered Republican who says she now regrets voting for President Bush in last year's election.

If only we could have recreated the experience of serving jury duty with John Kerry for a few million swing voters, we could have swung the election.

One year after the election

November 2004:

November 2005:

November 22, 2005

Poll Check

A lot of ink gets spilled about elected officials "rising above politics" and "doing the right thing" despite the polls. JFK's Profiles in Courage was all about unpopular but correct political choices made by US Senators. I admit to being a sucker, from time to time, for someone who will just do what he believes, polls be damned.

We now have someone who is doing just that and the results turn out to be scary as hell: Dick Cheney.

John Dickerson makes the case that the fact that Dick Cheney isn't running for President in 2008 and thus doesn't have to worry about the polls is letting Cheney run wild:

Just because Cheney lacks a personal political ambition doesn't mean he's lacked a personal ideological agenda. He has been able to pursue that agenda without compromise. He followed his determined ideas for strengthening the executive branch and America's place in the world with no fear of political damage. Since he didn't need Congress or the press as much as he might have if he were a potential candidate, Cheney dismissed them almost the minute he came back to Washington. His energy task force operated in secret and told no one about its operations. Congress and outside groups sued to gain access and lost. When it came time for war, he stepped up his calls for executive authority, endorsing detention and interrogation policies that became the focus of international condemnation. His overly dire predictions about Saddam Hussein's weapons and optimistic ones about the progress of the Iraq war undermined his credibility.

Some really bad stuff can come from a guy who doesn't worry about voters. That's why we have a basic principal that democracy is better than dictatorship. The President has given a few speeches on the matter himself. Voters, as a general rule, will punish bad behavior. No accountability leads to...well...torture:

Despite his lowered standing, Bush knows he can keep using Cheney for unpopular assignments because in theory, his approval ratings can drop to zero and Cheney won't balk. So, Cheney has taken up opposition to John McCain's amendment that would restrict "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of American military prisoners. The president can't argue the case directly, and he certainly can't argue it in public, so he lets Cheney do his dirty work for him.

November 21, 2005

No Way Out

Bush had some trouble getting off a stage during his China trip yesterday. Seems he was trying to exit stage left through a locked door. Good lord he looked silly:

You can check out the video here. Putting a line in here about an "exit strategy" is really just too easy. But I'll do it anyway.

Boy the President sure could use an exit strategy, couldn't he?

November 20, 2005

Run Away

"Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."
John F. Kennedy

"I didn't advocate invasion, I wasn't asked."
Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary on THIS WEEK, this morning.

November 18, 2005

A Stir

So Rep. John Murtha a conservative, pro-military Democrat from Pennsylvania has gotten everyone fired-up over his call to pull US forces out of Iraq in six months. Murtha is no SF liberal. He's a Vietnam vet and voted for the war. I think he's a little ahead of things, including most other democrats in Congress, but my guess is that a whole lot of people will be joining Murtha in the next year.

November 17, 2005


So I saw Cheney attacking war critics on my TV this morning and all I could think was "even his tie is crooked” Seriously, isn't there someone there to straighten his tie? I mean he's the Vice President and he's about to smear some opponents on national TV. Not being straight with the American people, not having a straight tie, it’s a visual metaphor.

Also a further sign that Republicans are just unhip. But today’s real evidence that conservatives are unhip is the band The Right Brothers, who are attempting to get their single "Bush was Right" on MTV. Sample lyrics:

Freedom in Afghanistan, say goodbye Taliban
Free elections in Iraq, Saddam Hussein locked up
Osama’s staying underground, Al Qaida now is finding out
America won’t turn and run once the fighting has begun

Don’t you know that all this means…
Bush was right! Bush was right!

Sad really. Elections can go either way, and conservatives have all kind power, but they will never be cool.

November 16, 2005

A Scandal...

...Isn't really a scandal until Bob Woodward gets involved. TPM has the details. Bob Woodward is now officially a part of the CIA leak case.

In non-Woodward involved scandal, it turns out a bunch of oil excutives were, in-fact part of Dick Cheney's energy task force:

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

Who exactly was part of Cheney's energy task force has been an issues that has dogged this administration from the start of it's first term. They really should have just admited that oil company officials were part of the task force, take the hit for being corporate tools and moved on. But now we have a bunch of CEO's who have lied to Congress, Cheney was hiding things, again and this will get out of control.

November 15, 2005

Fun With Numbers

In the latest bad poll numbers for Bush from Gallup there is this little gem:

People polled rated Bill Clinton as more honest than George W. Bush by a margin of 48%-36%. Clinton beats Bush by 12% in honesty. Honesty is the central selling point of the whole Bush presidency. "Ya he's dumb, but at least he's honest." "Ya his policies are bad, but at least he's honest." "The war has gone badly, but at least he's honest." Take away his honesty and he's got nothing.

I'm of the rather firm belief that the longer we have to look Bush in action the worse he looks. Three more years of this stuff. This weeks is another trip abroad for Bush and everybody just hopes he doesn't do any more damage. That the watch-word for the next three years. "No more damage."

November 14, 2005


I watched like 3 hours of Sunday political shows yesterday. Of course, I was always doing something else at the same time. Things like laundry or eating or whatever. So it was more like background noise for my Sunday. So really the only thing that I came away with is that the Queen of Jordan is just amazing beautiful. I mean wow. It's a real pity that her country has to be bombed by terrorists for her to pop up on my radar. But the important lesson here is that the Queen Rania of Jordon is really hot. By the way, does anyone know if there's a law against pointing out that the Queen is hot in Jordon? Am I now in danger of having something chopped off if I travel to Jordon?

November 12, 2005

Redemption Song

Don't ever give up trying after a setback. You can always try and get back up. The former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori is attempting to return to the Presidency of his Country. Now he has suffered a bit of a set-back. His government collapsed in 2000 following corruption and human rights abuse charges. That might deter some but not Fujimori. The fact that he will be arrested if he sets foot back in Peru and is even now fighting extradition from next-door Chile might overwhelm some people, but not Fujimori. So I don't want to hear to excuses on the setbacks you faced in your life. If Alberto Fujimori can keep trying, then damn it, so can you.

November 11, 2005

Con Job

So Bush is once again pushing back against critics of the war in Iraq. You know, the 55% percent of the public that now believe that we were mislead into this war. The basic line seems to be a lot of people believed that Saddam was a threat before the war so nobody can complain now. Really what the Bush administration wants is credit for being good liars before the war. A con man's defense can't be that people believed him before he was caught. If Bush lied us into war, then it doesn't matter how many people believed him or if it was a convincing lie. He lied.

November 10, 2005

Quote of the Day

Don Imus: Now why don't you just answer my question. Would you like [President Bush] to come to Arizona and cut some campaign commercials for you and run them on all those TV stations in Phoenix and Tucson and Flagstaff and Prescott, and all?

Rep. J.D. Hayworth : In a word, no. Not at this time.

Thanks to Slate.

The President is becoming ratioactive. Touch him and you become a former-Congressman. Bush can now threaten to come visit you in your district if you don't vote for his bill.

November 9, 2005

More! More!

Kwame Kilpatrick, the self declared "Hip-Hop" Mayor of Detroit got re-elected, despite a scandal-wrecked first term that included getting his family a luxury's SUV on the City's dime.

The Democratic Mayor of St. Paul, who endorsed Bush in the 2004 election, got beat 2-1 by a Democrat who, well, didn't.

El Dorado Hills voted against becoming a city, which is a huge surprise. Locals almost always want more control of their issues. I wonder what was the argument was to oppose cityhood.

The entire pro-intelligent design school board was dumped in favor of a pro-evolution slate.

And finally proving that a lot of politics is just showing up, both LINESVILLE, Pa. and HILLSDALE, Mich. have new 18 year-old Mayors. Remeber, we are all ruled by people who said "What the hell, let's run for Mayor."

Result Oriented

The votes are in and there are certainly some results here. Every single California ballot measure lost. Most by huge margins. The redistricting measure, which I considered the only worthwhile measure in the whole bunch is losing 60%-40%. All of the Arnold - backed initives have gone down, which doesn't speak well to the prospects for the Govinator. I get the feeling that the space-time rift that has led to an Bodybuilder/Bad actor to be in charge of our State will soon close.

Democrats won governor races in both Virginia and New Jersey and the pundits are taking this as a sign the GOP is in trouble. I, of course, agree.

The surf chick story does not have a have a happy ending. Donna Fry lost 46%-54% to a former Police Chief in her race for the Mayor of San Diego. All I can say is:


In local news, measure I received an overwhelming no vote, mainly on the strength of a last minute Craigorian Chant endorsement.

November 8, 2005

Election Day Voter Guide

Back by overwhelming popular demand. (OK, two people asked for it, but that's a large percentage of my readership) A handy guide to the propositions now before the good people of California (or at least the ones that show up and vote.

Prop 73 This one mandates a waiting period and parental notification for a minor seeking abortion. This is supposed to be an abortion restriction even pro-choice voters can embrace. You may want abortion to be legal but at least we can all agree that a minor has to notify her parents. Of course, this is mandating a Leave it to Beaver kind of world. If it's ok for a minor to tell her parents, then she will, regardless of the law, and for situations where its not safe for her to tell her parents, then it's really not safe and this law will only make things worse. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 74 This one increases the time that a teacher needs to teach in order to get tenure. Personally I think you can tell a teacher is bad or good in two years and not five. What this really amounts to is the Govinator trying to give the teacher's union a kick in the groin because of all the trouble they caused him. I say why try and make teacher's lives harder? The Chant recommends No.

Prop 75 Restricts unions so that they have to get permission from individual members in order to use union dues for political purposes. Fine, sounds reasonable, till you consider that the corporations don't need shareholder permission to spend money on politics. Doesn't make for a very level playing field. This is an effort to hurt unions because they have been doing too good a job of opposing the Govinator's agenda. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 76 Spending limits for the State budget. California has a screwed up State budget situation. This situation is mainly the fault of propositions that were approved in the past. Limits on taxes, spending mandates, a super-majority to pass a budget and so on. So here comes still yet more proposition to mess with the budget process. This one limits spending and in a dumb "only what we spent last year" way. There is a great article from TAP on Colorado's experience with a similar measure. Short version - when the schools and roads start to fall apart, this measure is going to start to look pretty stupid. The Chant recommends no.

Prop 77 Redistricting. This is the interesting one. Currently the legislature draws the boundaries for the district from which they are elected. They are drawn in such a way as to be overwhelmingly partisan in one direction or the other. Thus, not one race in California for the State Ledge or U.S. Congress are competitive. No seat change hands and no incumbents lose their job. Prop 77 is designed to take redistricting away from the Legislator and gives it to a panel of retired judges. The hope is that they would draw more competitive districts. Now the Govinator is very much in favor of this, but it should be a good idea anyway. Some are worried that this is all a ploy to increase GOP power in the State. But I doubt, given the rather overwhelming partisan advantage the Dems currently have in California, that the Donkeys will lose control of the State anytime soon. And more competitive seat will be a tremendous boost to the running of the State government. If you can lose your job, you do a better job. The Chant recommends Yes.

Prop 78 and 79. Prescription Drug discounts. Both of these measures claim to decrease the price of drugs. Of course, 78 is sponsored by the drug companies, so they make the discount program voluntary. The drug companies can end it at any time. Its a limited time promotional offer, not a law. If you really want cheaper drugs go with the measure backed by consumer groups. That would be 79. The Chant recommends no on 78 and yes on 79.

Prop 80 Electrical Reregulation. Because electrical deregulation worked so well for the State. It brought higher rates, rolling blackouts and the current Movie Star/Govener. That said, I'm really not sure if this is they way to fix it. Its a long and complicated law and I don't want to read it. And I shouldn't have to. Seriously, this is why we need a Legislature, with staff, research and public hearings. That's the way to take on something as complex as energy regulation. The Chant recommends No.

For a local angle I'm also adding a recommendation of No for Measure I in Amador County. Its a non-binding resolution asking if we want more Indian Casinos in Amador County. I'm of the rather firm opinion that one casino is enough.

Polls are open now and close at 8:00 pm. Post-game to follow.

November 7, 2005


Trying to wake up this Monday morning? Let's check out some exciting headlines! That should wake you up. Election tomorrow! Yawn. Lobbyist Connected to Gangland Murder. Interesting, I’m starting to perk up. Ok, how about Cruise Ship Attacked by Pirates! That’s pretty exciting. Pirates are always interesting. Carolina Panthers Cheerleaders Arrested! They got in a bar brawl! They were having sex in the bathroom! With each other! All-right now I’m awake. Bring on the day!

November 6, 2005

Speaking of Corruption and France...

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 came out on October 18th. Commissioned by Prof. Dr J. Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau, this a quite a detailed look at corruption on a national scale based on research by 10 national and international institutions organizations. You could probably spend hours reading and following all the links in the report!

-- The TI Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, drawing on corruption-related data in expert surveys carried out by a variety of reputable institutions. It reflects the views of business people and analysts from around the world, including experts who are locals in the countries evaluated.

--The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector and defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain.

Read the FAQs here

One detail that may stand out to the Chant readers is that France ( a favorite country of most of this site’s frequent visitors) is more corrupt than the United States. Thats right, France! Yes its close but France IS more corrupt than America.. Its funny because there are factions in America that think France is such a stellar, fantastic county what with their passivist-no-Wal-Mart-anti-American beliefs. Yet they suck more than America, at least as far as corruption is concerned.

A good part of the world and many Americans themselves view the US as an immoral, pseudo imperialist, bully who rolls into town, beats down native peoples and imposes its globalist/military/cultural ways on everyone. They don’t like us and they don’t like our polices. America has made mistakes. But other countries are just as naughty if not more so and are often down right criminal.

In reality, its France that’s more corrupt and therefore LESS moral than the United States. I believe you can interpret the corruption list as viewing those countries towards the top more as moral, and those countries towards the bottom as less moral.

It makes sense right? I mean if you take bribes, commit extortion, lie, engage in Enron like accounting practices you can’t really be said to be a moral government can you? Certainly there exists good and bad people in the governments of all countries, but the proportions vary considerably.

Now lets return to France. Let me point out that France “hates freedom.” That’s right, you read correctly. I actually said it, oh yes, read it again to make sure. They don’t have the religious freedom we in America have. The French despise this expression so much, like Craig mentioned in his post, that the actually passed a law against it in an attempt to “preserve French secular traditions from Muslim fundamentalism.“ Shockingly intolerant is it not?

So in fact France is just as bad, and often worse than the USA, and the two are far less corrupt than all the countries in Africa.

The ill-founded war in Iraq doesn’t make America as corrupt as, say, Chad. And an administration that opposes gay marriage isn’t immoral because its just a belief with equally valid sides; some people think gay marriage is immoral, but stealing money, extorting people, regardless, are for sure forms of corruption.

W., Karl Rove, leaking CIA agents names is certainly scandalous, but remember, we have a far higher percentage of competent officials that keep our government running smoothly. Many African officials commit numerous crimes on a frequent basis that don't get as much press because they're not the world super power.

Imperialist European nations can’t be responsible for EVERY thing wrong on that continent, but thus far, no African Bill Cosby has stepped up to speak the truth.

Lets address the African issue brought up by the CPI. First lets look at some content of the report regarding wealth:

Wealth does not determine progress against corruption

Wealth is not a prerequisite for successful control of corruption. New long-term analysis of the CPI carried out by Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff shows that the perception of corruption has decreased significantly in lower-income countries such as Estonia, Colombia and Bulgaria over the past decade. In the case of higher-income countries such as Canada and Ireland, however, there has been a marked increase in the perception of corruption over the past ten years, showing that even wealthy, high-scoring countries must work to maintain a climate of integrity. Similarly, the responsibility in the fight against corruption does not fall solely on lower-income countries. Wealthier countries, apart from facing numerous corruption cases within their own borders, must share the burden by ensuring that their companies are not involved in corrupt practices abroad. Offenders must be prosecuted and debarred from public bidding. The opportunity for ensuring sustainable progress also lies in the hands of the World Trade Organization, which needs to actively promote transparency and anti-corruption in global trade.

The lessons are clear: risk factors such as government secrecy, inappropriate influence of elite groups and distorted political finance apply to both wealthy and poorer countries, and no rich country is immune to the scourge of corruption.

Transparency International urges the following actions: By lower-income countries * Increase resources and political will for anti-corruption efforts. * Enable greater public access to information about budgets, revenue and expenditure

Hmmm. It doesn’t say anything about giving Africa money as a way to ease corruption.

--According to Transparency International, the African state (Chad) is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom.

--Africa is the most corrupt continent in the world, --The watchdog organisation says that out of 44 African nations covered in its 2005 corruption perceptions index, 31 of them scored less than three —“a sign of rampant corruption” — on a scale of zero to 10. --But the main responsibility for change is among Africa’s ruling elites, he says. “The prime changes have to happen in Africa itself but it does seem to be getting worse.” --“The country is marked by political instability, human rights abuses and weak press freedom,” the body says. --When countries improve governance and reduce corruption, they reap a“development dividend” that, according to the World Bank Institute, can include improved child mortality rates, higher per capita income and greater literacy.

Now the goal of Live 8 was to

“...double aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa...”

But will this help? Over a $100 billion has been given to Africa since the early 1970s and look how much that has helped.

And here is an excerpt from make poverty history, website which is linked to a Live 8 website:

Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised to provide the extra money needed to meet the internationally agreed poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion per year and must be delivered now. Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7% of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.

Here we go with the money thing again even though we know that hasn’t helped much in the past.

The site does acknowledge that the way aid is distributed needs to be changed:

However, without far-reaching changes in how aid is delivered, it won't achieve maximum benefits. Aid needs to focus better on poor people's needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic health care and education...Aid should support poor countries' and communities' own plans and paths out of poverty.

But what is the plan for how to implement these changes? They just talk about throwing money at the problem with no set strategy.

The site does mention corruption, but it doesn’t place the appropriate blame. It just talks about how poor people suffer but not who (African governments themselves) is primarily responsible:

Corruption is an issue which affects both rich and poor countries, but it is the poorest people who suffer most from it. Poor people in developing countries expect the aid and debt relief received by their government to be spent in ways which actually improve their lives. Similarly, taxpayers in rich countries expect finance to poorer countries to be spent on fighting poverty. MPH believes corruption must be tackled in order to make poverty history,
and that a number of actions, by both developing countries and rich countries, will help to fight corruption.

“A number of actions”? What does that mean? Where is the talk about how African governments are the most corrupt in the world and how they’re incompetence is crippling their people?

You won’t see any talk about that because this site isn’t interested in laying out all the facts, they want their agenda implemented and don’t want to face certain truths.

Debt relief doesn’t make a country wealthy, but it also doesn’t help end corruption which is Africa’s biggest problem.

Thirty years from now are we going to be saying the same things about Africa? Is it still going to be in retched poverty, corrupt beyond any nation in the western world?

Most likely.

November 5, 2005

Profound Questions

I'm surrounded by obsessive compulsive people. All kinds of leftover Halloween candy laying around this week. For some reason people have the compulsion to separate them into different categories. Snickers bars in one pile, the jolly ranchers in another and so on. What makes people do that? Are they driven to bring order out of chaos? Is this the one thing that they can control?

I heard an ad for the new David Grey album. One of the selling points was that the album was #1 in England. The thing is I sort of assume that the Album is good because it’s popular in England. Why is that? If an album was #1 in Japan I wouldn't think it was good. But for some reason I just assume that England has good musical tastes. Why is that?

November 4, 2005

Le Riot

The French have been having nightly riots in Paris. Mostly Muslim youths have been tearing things up but good and things seem to be spreading to other area. Now I have been accused of being a French-loving liberal by some. (I’m looking at you Lackey!) Hey, now that I think about it, Chris is literally a French-loving liberal. Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to bash the French a bit.

The French have a monumentally bad immigration policy. Immensely bad. Endanger the Republic bad. The French do nothing to assimilate immigrants who come to their country. Unlike American “culture” which is a mash-up of everything under the sun, the French have a very clear notion of what French language and culture should be and that notion doesn’t let in newcomers. Muslim girls in French schools are banned from wearing headscarves, for example. The result is a complete ghettoization of immigrants in French cities. And Ghettoes, as everybody knows, are places of peace and safety, where young people are bound to turn out ok. If France is going to have immigration, and they need to have immigration, they really need to let these people in all the way. Or else these riots are just the start.

This ends our critic of the French. On a related subject, those French girls sure are cute.

November 3, 2005

Corruption Update

While I've linked to plenty of stories about the Delay and Scooter indictments, the real mother of all GOP scandals revolves around a guy named Jack Abramoff. He's a super-lobbyist with all kinds of connections to the highest levels of the conservative movement and the GOP. He's the guy that got things done. Who has Senior White House Staff and Congressional Chairmen and cabinet secretaries on speed dial. He is also deeply, amazingly and completely corrupt. Already under indictment in Florida for business dealings there, he is now at the center of a scandal to bilk Indian tribes over gambling. Basically the scam worked like this: Abramoff promised to help a tribe that already had gambling to prevent other tribes from opening casinos. He would do this with his contacts at Department of Interior (which oversees Indian Affairs) and by getting Christian Conservative groups fired up against gambling. In exchange the tribe with the existing casino gives millions of dollars to conservative groups that work with Abramoff. You can read all the dirty dealings in Salon. This is good old fashion political corruption pay for play with the added fun of conservative Christian groups fighting one casino on behalf of another.

November 1, 2005

Clever Boy

In an earlier post, I speculated that Harry Reid had kind of goofed by suggesting Harriet Miers for SCOTUS and that he should be acting like he suggested the nomination to Bush as a clever ploy to jam Bush up. In the light of today's activities, I have to say that Reid is a tactical genius who clearly had the Miers nomination all planned out. Senate democrats called a special secret session to discuss WMD and Iraq, invoking some national security procedures to bring all Senate business to a screeching halt. This is a great move on so many levels. It gets the story off the new SCOTUS nomination and back on administration screw-ups. It jams up the GOP on Capital Hill. And it is a great sign of the Donkeys fighting back despite a lack of real power. So clearly, Reid is a clever, clever man.


Who the hell put Halloween on a Monday. One little party and I'm a wreck for Tuesday. Now I'm all grumpy. Of course, not as grumpy as the President of Iran who declared that he want to wipe Israel off the map. Now that's grumpy.

Also I'm getting more grumpy the more I learn about Samuel Alito. Think Progress has all the bad news. This is really not a guy we want on the Supreme Court.

I'm going back to bed.

October 31, 2005

Your Halloween Message of Hope

Hope everyone is having a good time for Halloween. Any good ideas for costumes?

I would like to take this opportunity to say that no child has ever been poisoned by Halloween candy. This is one of those urban legends that has just grown completely out of control. Check out the invaluable Snopes for all kinds of info on tracking this one down. So no child should miss out on way too much sugar because of the fear of getting a razor blade in an apple. Who gives out apples anyway?

Back when my sister and I were trick-or-treating my dad would very carefully inspect all the candy we had scored. He would then confiscate anything that was "suspect." I now know that was just an excuse to swipe the best bits for himself. So beware of people trying to protect you. Really they're just trying to steal your candy.

Ding Ding Ding

Well if it's Monday it must be time a new Supreme Court Justice. Today's lucky contestant on Wheel of Justice is Samuel Alito, a conservative white male Circuit Court of Appeals judge, which is type of judge the GOP has in large supply. No stealth nominee here, this guys been making rulings for 15 years. Very conservative, so everyone knows what part they are going to play. Conservative boost and Liberals bash. Fight on. (That's the bell before the round starts in the title)

October 30, 2005

Buddy, That's a Cliff Coming Up

The headline for today is After Upheavals, President Seeks to Steady Course. Bush isn't going to "clean house" or "change course" or do anything to signal that he will be doing anything different:

After weeks of political turmoil, capped by the indictment of a senior administration official, President Bush will try to give his second term a fresh start by naming a new conservative nominee to the Supreme Court and intensifying his drive to cut government spending, White House officials and other Republicans said.

But he appears to see little need for the wholesale housecleaning that previous administrations tried in times of upheaval to rebuild credibility, those officials said.

The administration's goal, they said, is to reassure its divided and demoralized conservative base, chalk up a few victories on Capitol Hill and set the stage for a more robust comeback next year after months of experiencing one misstep and setback after another.

Good luck with this. We will have to wait and see who Bush picks next for SCOTUS and I assume that sooner or later he will get someone on the Court, but the rest of his legislative agenda is dead. No one in Congress wants to line up with the guy with a 39% approval rating. The tax cuts of the first term were fun to vote for, But what Bush wants now is spending cuts. Cuts hurt. They are not popular and could cost a Congressman his job. Social Security reform is dead. Do they have anything left. Administrations now can't go on the air to talk about their "agenda" because they will have to spend all there time talking about Scooter. So good luck. Full steam ahead.

October 28, 2005

All I want for Fitzmas...

Is a Scooter. Today is Fitzmas, the day special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's office hands down indictments in the CIA leak case. Now what I really wanted is the head of Karl Rove, which doesn't seem to be in today's package. But Rove doesn't seem to be cleared either. But still, the top aid of the most powerful VP in history is a pretty nice package. Let's take this Scooter for a ride, shall we?

(Opening joke ripped off the Stephanie Miller Show via Erin)

Update: Read the actually indictment here. Any lawyer's out there? I will be piecing it all together soon.

October 27, 2005

On the Inside

Paul Begala, who knows a little bit about the subject, has written a hell of a post over at TPMCafe about what it's like to be on the inside of a White House under siege. Those poor bastards:

And so they wait. And they sniff the royal throne. They tell the Beloved Leader he's the victim of a partisan plot (although how the Bush CIA, which referred the Plame case for prosecution, became ground zero of Democratic liberalism escapes me). They assure him all is well. But all is not well. People are looking over their shoulders. The smart ones have stopped taking notes in meetings. The very smart ones have stopped using email for all but the most pedestrian communications. And the smartest ones have already obtained outside counsel.

When a White House is under siege, no one wants to talk to anyone. Literally, anything you say can and will be used against you. When you're in a meeting and you see one of your colleagues taking notes, you start to wonder how long it will be before you're interrogated based on her notes. Maybe she's doodling. Or maybe she's digging your grave. The mind tries to focus on the task at hand, but the grand jury is never far from your thoughts.

This is going to bring the work of the White House to a griding halt. And because I hate pretty much everything that this White House is working at, I'm real broken up about it.

Hey Hey Hey Goodbye

Harriet Miers is out. She has withdrawn her nomination. See ya. So long. Bye-Bye. I guess the White House couldn't take the heat. Now I should really be worried about who Bush is going to appoint in her place, but for now let's just dwell on the embarrassing political defeat that the President has been handed. My, that was an embarrassing political defeat that the President was just handed, wasn't it? Conservatives must really be feeling their oats today. This nomination was defeated from the right. The left just gave her a little push here, a little trip there. They sure didn't catch her when she fell. But the conservatives were what did her in. Prepare yourself for some conservative overreach. Bush is in a tight spot. Low poll numbers mean he can't pick a real hard-right judge and start a real brawl, but conservatives would be happy to shiv any more mushy picks for the bench. Oh, and let's not forget the special prosecutor is coming.

October 26, 2005

See It

This a map showing the location of US fatalities in Iraq by hometown. It comes from this invaluable web site. Sometimes just the number isn't enough. You have to see it. The numbers, the geography, the simply, horrible math that every day we stay in Iraq it mean 2 more dots at this map.

2,000 Dead Soldiers

Another terrible milestone was passed in Iraq yesterday with the 2,000th American soldier killed. I think that this is an appropriate time to pause and ask ourselves, is this worth the cost in lives? If yes, then at what point does it stop being worth it? If no, then how can we best extricate ourselves?

October 25, 2005

Earth Shattering Headlines!

Dick Cheney was Scooter Libby's original source on the identity of Valerie Plame!

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff first learned about the CIA officer at the center of a leak investigation in a conversation with Cheney weeks before her identity became public in July 2003, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Notes of the conversation between chief of staff Lewis Libby and Cheney on June 12, 2003, put a spotlight on the vice president's possible role in the leak. The account also appears to run counter to Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he first learned about the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, from reporters.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor investigating the leak of Plame's identity, is said by lawyers involved in the case to be considering bringing charges against Libby for making false statements and possibly obstruction of justice.

This now puts the Vice-President in the "Chain-of-Evidence" on the leak investigation. We now have a story that starts with Cheney telling his top aid information and ends with that information leaked to a reporter and thus compromising National Security. So the next question is: Did Dick Cheney direct his most trusted staff member to reveal the idenity of a covert CIA agent in an effort to discredit that agent's husband? Well?

October 24, 2005

Pick a Pack

Bush picked Ben Bernanke, his personal accountant, to be Chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

Just kidding. Ben Bernanke is actually just who you would expect to become Chair of the Fed. Lot of degrees in economics, served on the board in the past. In policy, he seems really close to Greenspan, so it's meet the old boss, same as the new boss. And most people came out ahead under Greenspan, so I don't think that a lot of people wanted a new boss.

So I think Bush is going to get a pass on this pick so everyone, left right and center can continue to pick on poor Harriet.


It is the last day the register to vote in California for the special election. Remember, if you move (and I know my readership, and you are a very mobile group of people) Then you need to re-register. So get yourself to the local Register of Voter or DMV and fill out the card. After all, the more of you guys vote, the bigger my influence will become, and soon I will be wined and dined by the powerful and the beautiful in the hopes of getting the all-important Craigorian Chant endorsement. So my sake, if not the sake of your County and your State, get your ass registered to vote.

October 21, 2005


Who the hell smiles for their booking photo? No one smiles for their booking photo. Tom Delay never smiles anyway. It looks like a yearbook photo.

October 20, 2005

Craigorian Chant Voter Guide

A handy guide to the propositions now before the good people of California (or at least the ones that show up and vote.

Prop 73 This mandate a waiting period and parental notification for minor’s seeking abortion. This is support to be an abortion restriction even pro-choice voters can embrace. You may want abortion to be legal but at least we can all agree that a minor has to notify her parents. Of course, this is mandating a Leave it to Beaver kind of world. If it’s ok for a minor to tell her parents, then she will, regardless of the law, and for situations where it’s not safe, then it’s really not safe and this law will only make things worse. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 74 This increases the time that a teacher needs to teach in order to get tenure. Personally I think you can tell a teacher is bad or good in two years and not five. What this really amounts to is the Govinator trying to give the teacher’s union a kick in the groin because of all the trouble they caused him. I say why try and make teacher’s lives harder? The Chant recommends No.

Prop 75 Restricts unions so that they have to get permission from individual members in order to use union dues for political purposes. Fine, sounds reasonable, till you consider that the corporations don’t need shareholder permission to spend money on politics. Doesn't make for a very level playing field. This is an effort to hurt unions because they have been doing too good a job of opposing the Govinator’s agenda. The Chant recommends No.

Prop 76 Spending limits. California has a screwed up State budget situation. This situation is mainly the fault of propositions that were approved in the past. Limits on taxes, spending mandates, a super-majority to pass a budget and so on. So here comes still yet anougher proposition to mess with the budget process. This one limits spending and in a dumb “only what we spent last year” way. There is a great article from TAP on Colorado’s experience with a similar measure. Short version – when the schools and roads start to fall apart, this measure is going to start to look pretty stupid. The Chant recommends no.

Prop 77 Redistricting. This is the interesting one. Currently the legislature draws the boundaries for the district from which they are elected. They are drawn in such a way as to be overwhelmingly partisan in one direction or the other. Thus, no races in California for the State Ledge or U.S. Congress are competitive. No seat change hands and no incumbents lose their job. Prop 77 is designed to take redistricting away from the Legislator and gives it to a panel of retired judges. The hope is that they would draw more competitive districts. Now the Govinator is very much in favor of this, but it should be a good idea anyway. Some are worried that this is all a ploy to increase GOP power in the State. But I doubt, given the rather overwhelming partisan advantage the Dems currently have in California, that the Donkeys will lose control of the State anytime soon. And more competitive seat will be a tremendous boost to the running of the State government. If you can lose your job, you do a better job. The Chant recommends Yes.

Prop 78 and 79. Prescription Drug discounts. Both of these measures claim to decrease the price of drugs. Of course, 78 is sponsored by the drug companies, so they make the discount program voluntary. The drug companies can end it at any time. It’s a limited time promotional offer, not a law. If you really want cheaper drugs go with the measure backed by consumer groups. That would be 79. The Chant recommends no on 78 and yes on 79.

Prop 80 Electrical Reregulation. Because electrical deregulation worked so well for the State. It brought higher rates, rolling blackouts and the current Governor. That said, I’m really not sure if this is they way to fix it. It’s a long and complicated law and I don’t want to read it. And I shouldn’t have to. Seriously, this is why we need a Legislature, with staff, research and public hearings. That’s the way to take on something as complex as energy regulation. The Chant recommends No.

What do you think? The guild will be reissued right before election day for easy reference. If you think I’ve made a terrible mistake, speak up now and it might be corrected.

October 19, 2005

Picture of the Day

Presented without comment, because, well, what can you say to this?

New Deep Throat

So the great political mystery of the century was solved a few months back. We now know who Deep Throat was. We need a new mystery. Kevin Drum may be on to a new mystery. It appears that the prosecutor in the CIA leak case has someone on the inside:

"They have got a senior cooperating witness; someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

Kevin then connects this fact with the quotes given to the Washington Post when the story first broke back in 2003:

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," their source told them, a pretty good indication that he was genuinely upset by this whole mess. The same source confirmed the story a couple of weeks later, and I've seen subsequent blind quotes that, to my ears, sound like they may have come from the same person.

So yes: I think there's someone in the White House who was genuinely shocked by what happened and has probably cooperated with both reporters and with Fitzgerald to break open this case. But who?

So to review, we have:

1. A Major political scandal, set to take down major administration officials.
2. A secret source on the inside.
3. A source giving info to reporters, keeping the story alive.
4. A source cooperating with the prosecutor.
5. Wide-spread speculation as to the sources identity.

We have a new deep throat! Start the betting pool. Who is the noble public servant/traitor? Back when Deep Throat was revealed we got a dose of "What if there was a deep throat today?" speculation. Guess we get to find out.

October 18, 2005


It appears that in some Iraqi provinces, 99% of voters voted yes. No fair election in history ever had 99% of the people vote one way. Dog Catchers running with unopposed don't get 99%. Something is funny here.

October 17, 2005

Can you Believe...

That Sylvester Stallone is making a new Rocky movie?

That they have run out of names for hurricanes?

That a politician can admit a mistake.

That California has to go to the polls again!? A freaken special election! I'm a political junkie and even I'm saying enough. For you poor overwhelmed slobs who need help figuring out how to vote the official Craigorian Chant voter guide will be coming out later this week. I will read throught the eight (!!!) propositions and provide helpful advice. If anybody has any questions, put them up in comments or e-mail. Answers coming soon.

October 16, 2005

Sunday Morning Talk

The Iraqis got to vote again and all it cost was five more American soldiers. Initial reports look like the Constitution will pass. Official results will wait till Monday. We will see if the new Constitution will buy the country any political stability. I think that pessimism would be in order. Pessimism hasn't failed me yet when thinking about Iraq.

NY Times write-up on Judy Miller and the CIA leak case. I'm really not going to read the whole thing. Go read the people on my Perma-Links to get real analysis. Just let me know when the indictments are going to be handed down. According to Time if Rove is indicted, he's out of the White House.

Here's hoping.