February 28, 2006

Big Day

Today is the day that Supreme Court watchers have been looking forward to for a long time. With two new members, they now face a critical case. Its not abortion or the NSA wiretapping or gay marriage. The critical issue today is does Anna Nicole Smith inherit her late husband's millions. She's in court today for oral arguments. I really don't understand. Add some blond bada boom and suddenly a case about probate law and State-Federal jurisdiction and suddenly everyone is paying attention. Previous Anna/SCOTUS post here.

Justice for Anna!

UPDATE: As always the best source for a write-up of red hot Supreme Court action is Dahlia Lithwick:

Kent L. Richland, arguing on Anna's behalf, is exactly the sort of silver-haired, silver-tongued guy you'd have cast in the reality show. He doesn't appear to be flapped, even when Justice Antonin Scalia wonders, just moments into his presentation of an argument far broader than the one he needs to make: "Do you want to stand on that position or do you have a lesser position? One that might cause you to win?"
It seems cruel to report that Anna Nicole then stood and exited the courtroom, leaving the building by a side door and again granting no interviews. I would love to tell you that she did something, anything, to distinguish herself from the thousands of appellants who have brought their cases into these marble walls. But the court has worked its magical spell of blandness, even upon Anna, and she is just another litigant with a probate dispute today. She has stepped into the only place in America where her breasts have no power.

February 27, 2006

Doing the Numbers

Buzz is building for Olympic romance. I've a bunch of hits over the last few days from people searching for variations of "The Flying Tomato and Sasha Cohen." I'm telling you, The Cutting Edge 2 will be a license to make money.

You can get all kinds of fun info from the folks who track my traffic, like search terms or countries of origin. Hi there, repeat visitor from Belgium. Slate has a interesting piece on the monitoring of web traffic. While monitoring my web traffic is for fun and ego, for the big media web sites, big traffic means big money.

No post of mine about numbers would be complete without linking to some bad Bush poll numbers. CBS news has him at a 34% approval rating. That means for every American who approves of Bush, there are two who don't.

MORE NUMBERS: A Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll was conducted of troops actually serving in Iraq. This numbers are stark 72% of American troops think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately. Also 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Problem Solver

Chris, over in Craigorian Chants's computational linguistics division, points me to this Michael Kinsley article on the new Prescription Drug Benefit Plan:

The hideous complexity of President Bush's prescription-drug program has reduced elderly Americans, and their child, —to tears of bewildered frustration. The multiple options when you sign up, each with its own multiple ceilings and co-payments; the second round of red tape when you actually want to acquire some pills; the ludicrously complex and arbitrary standards of eligibility, which play a cruel and pointless game of hide-and-seek as they lurch up and down the graph paper like drunks: Suddenly a mystery is solved—so, this must be what he means by "compassionate conservatism."

This is what happens when people who don't believe that government can help solve problems try to have the government solve problems. Conservatives think the government is complex and useless, so they design a drug benefit that is complex and useless. This is a basic philosophical problem. The effort is just a cynical effort to buy off seniors and enrich drug companies at the same time. There's no effort to solve the real problem. Even worse, because deep down Conservatives don't beleive in the program they make no attempt to pay for it:

What's shocking about this, more than the numbers (hundreds of billions of dollars are hard to fathom), is that Bush's drug benefit comes without even a theory about how it will be paid for. Even after nearly three decades of Republican abracadabranomics, this may be a first. A transparently phony theory at least pays tribute to the hypothesis that money doesn't grow on trees. Not even to bother coming up with a phony theory is an arrogant insult to democracy. It raises "because I said so" to a governing philosophy.

The classic Republican phony theory is, of course, supply-side economics. Every proposed tax cut from before Reagan until Bush's own has been defended on the grounds that it will pay for itself by stimulating new economic activity. This is a theory based more on faith than on evidence, but at least it's a theory.

But the good news is that seniors, who this program was aimed to make happy in the first place, are pissed. The drug benifit will hurt the GOP come November. For running commentary on the subject, check out Drug Bill Debacle.

February 26, 2006

Ohno! Ohno!

Short Track Speed skating is fun. Its the closest that roller derby will ever come to being an Olympic sport. The relay was crazy fun. Just a small note for all you future gold medal winners out there: Do not attempt to sing along with the national anthem when you're up on the podium getting your medal. It makes you look silly. Just watch the flags go up with a suitable mixture of awe and happiness on your face. You may, if you're feeling dramatic, allow a single solitary tear run down one cheek. But do not try and sing along.

I propose a new verb. "To Bode" shall now mean to fail in a dramatic yet pathetic manner after being wildly overhyped.

Next Olympics, just put the curling team on the cover of Time and Newsweek. They deserve the attention.

February 24, 2006

Yeah Friday

Once again, I did late night fake cross country skiing while watching figure skating. Is it odd that the fact that Sasha Cohen is clearly a basket case makes her no less appealing to me? Still, good job picking up the silver despite being completely in your head, you Saucy Little Minx.

I just started working on a movie script about a budding love affair between a uptight figure skater and a layed back snowboarder, set against the backdrop of the Olympics. I'm calling it The Cutting Edge 2.

Ashutosh, official former roommate of Craigorian Chant, wishes to education everyone on US-India relations. Bush is going to India in March. You can read about policy here and the security of the trip here.

Something I noticed about the new wave of Iraq violence: US troops are staying out of it.

Thousands of untested, U.S.-trained Iraqi police and troops blocked roads across Baghdad and surrounding regions as U.S. patrols, widely resented by both sides, kept a low profile.

Wouldn't leaving lower our troops profile even more? Why are they even there if they are "widely resented by both sides" and can't do any good?

Here come the weekend!

February 23, 2006

Reap it Part 2

What do you have in the basket, little girl?


Where are you going, little girl?


The Al-Askariya Shiite mosque was blown up in Iraq on Tuesday. That's an extremely important Shiite holy site. That has triggered massive violence accross the nation. The phrase "could trigger a civil war" is showing up more and more. I think what we are seeing in Iraq is a creeping civil war. There will not be a declaration or a Fort Sumter moment. Just more and more violence till suddenly we are cooked.

Reap It

The whirlwind, that is. The interesting truth about this port is that Bush own tactics are what's biting him on this issue. As Jess points out the Dubai owned company would not be handling security. That would continue to be handled by the coast guard and other US government people. They would be handling 'operations,' i.e. loading and unloading ships in the ports. You can also make the case that we should engage, and not shut out, Middle Eastern countries. These are good but subtle points. But Bush has spent the last four year sucking all the subtle distinctions out the debate over terrorism. Up till now Bush has considered everything other than the harshest of measure to be soft on terrorism. Any call for restraint with regard to civil liberties, torture, diplomacy, or really dumb military invasions has been branded appeasement and cowards that will kill us all. So now that Bush is trying to argue for a subtle, less harsh policy, all his supporters are breaking with him. From Daily Kos:

After years of pumping their fawning admirers full of terror and working as hard as they can to blur the distinction between regimes in the Middle East that had nothing to do with 9/11 and the people who did, the Bush Administration shouldn't be surprised that their supporters are unwilling or unable to objectively whip out the analytical razor-blade and expertly split hairs between a nation with direct links to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, and a company owned by that nation's government.

Faced with that self created dilemma, the comically feeble Bush Administration talking point is that the everyday terrorist sympathizer will think better of us if we help further enrich a handful of obscenely wealthy oil Sheiks? Here's an idea for improving our image in the Arab World: Stop torturing Muslims. But either way, it's doubtful the zombie mob that Bush and Rove have spent the last five years shocking back to life care what the citizens of Muslim nations think about the United States.

February 22, 2006

Ways to Make a Million

You could go in with your buddies at the meat packing plant and buy some lotto tickets and get lucky. 365 million lucky But really that's the easy way.

Or if you really wanted to earn it, you and your buddies get together and devise an complex plan to impersonate some cops, take a bank manager hostage, and make off with $43.5 million. Actually, that's 25 million pounds but any way you figure it your a millionaire. Sure the cops are on your ass, but at least you don't have to depend on luck.


It's really too bad that whenever I'm in the gym trying to use the cross-country ski thing, Olympic cross-country skiing is never on the bank of 10 TV's my gym comes with. Now that would be inspirational. Instead last night it was figure skating.

I've decided that watching skiers and snowboarders crash is a lot more fun than watching figure skaters crash. I think it's because the former get helmets. Also, the latter seem just so damn fragile, both physically and emotionally. But the flying tomato was right - Sasha Cohen, worth crushing on.

I'm fascinated with the different names that snowboarders and skaters call their spins. The flying tomato does a "1080" or a "720". Cohen does a "triple" or a "double." Why is it that the "hey man" world of 'boarders use geometry and the ice diva's jumps sound like special hamburger orders? I'll have a Triple Lutz, extra cheese. Why do I get the feeling that Cohen is the one who pays attention in math class, while the tomato is more of the hamburger expert.

This is the last Cheney shoots a guy in a face link I'm putting up (today) Al Franken jokes.

February 21, 2006

A real Thing

At first I though that is controversy over port security was those things. You know, something that could be ignored. But now it become one of those things. Things that start to matter. Basic facts of the case: The US government approved last week a UAE government-controlled maritime management firm Dubai Ports World to run ports in New York and New Jersey; Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, and New Orleans. After 9/11, US shipping ports have gotten lots of attention for their lax security. Controversy is now breaking out all over the place.

Now the UAE (United Arab Emerites) is one of those countries, like Saudi Arabia, that's officially an ally but seems to produce a lot of terrorist recruits and terrorist money. At first I though this controversy was kind of a xenophobic thing. (A thing I could ignore) The dirty Arabs are coming. But I'm now thinking this might me something there. Here are some fun UAE facts. My favorite is The UAE government was one of three in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. That same government now owns port security at 6 major US port. Not a good idea, policy-wise.

It's a absolutely terrible idea politics-wise. The Bush administration is getting attacked from both the left and the right on this. Normal allies, like right-wing radio guys and GOP Congressmen are breaking with the administration on this.

Bush is sticking to his guns on this. He said he would veto any bill to hold up the agreement. Now Bush has yet to veto a single bill in five years. His Dad vetoed 44 in just four. Now Bush is going finally bring out the big gun of political maneuvers in order to make sure that the United Arab Emerites is put in charge of port security. My guess is that Bush is going to cave. Too much heat and too low a poll number. Bush is going to need every political marker he has on keeping the NSA and Abramoff affairs from blowing up. He's going to change course. Just you wait.

Asked and Answered

Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari angrily dismissed on Tuesday U.S. warnings to shun sectarianism in the country's new government, saying Iraqis would not accept interference in their affairs.

Aye, there's the rub. We are supporting the new Iraqi government with a massive amount of blood and money. But if we really are supporting "democracy" does that mean we have to support this new government when it embraces sectarianism and civil war? Are we obligated to pay for the stupidity of a government that we helped create? Can we really just wash our hands of this whole mess?

February 20, 2006

Getting Out

This is interesting:

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned Iraqi politicians Monday they risk a loss of American support if they do not establish a genuine national unity government, saying the United States will not invest its resources in institutions run by sectarians.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad delivered his blunt warning during a rare press conference after signs that talks on a new government following the December elections were not going well because of sharp differences among the country's Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political parties.

Failure to establish a unity government that includes a strong role for Sunni Arabs would fail to undermine the Sunni-dominated insurgency and throw into question U.S. plans for a phased withdrawal of the 138,000 American troops here.

The Shiite and Kurds have felt empowered to freeze out the Sunni, knowing that US troops will protect them when the Sunni turn to violence. This is a move to take away that safety blanket and force a hard political choice on the Shiite and Kurds. Now it could turn out they can't unify with the Sunni (or each other) Which means some form of civil war. Which is a war the US Ambassador just said we won't fight.

Presidents' Day

It is always a comfort to me that despite the spin of the moment George W Bush is going to get judged in the history books. Today's talk of Mount Rushmore and Presidential Greatness reminds me that Bush will never get on Mount Rushmore, nor will he ever appear in the same sentence as "Presidential Greatness" in the history books. Same paragraph. Same book.

February 19, 2006

Mere urd Danmark

Erin of Denmark (Not to be confussed with Erin of Oahu or the other Erins who read/comment here) has some more to add:

The Jyllandsposten has done some investigating and uncovered four companies which have agreements with countries in the middle east to boycott Israel in exchange for contracts allowing them to import Danish goods. One of these is Arla, the milk-product giant who took the biggest beating in the arab boycott due to the cartoon issue. In Arla's defense, the company only agreed not to produce any goods in Israel and any goods that would be delivered to these arab countries would be on ships that would not dock in Israel. Arla still imports its goods to Israel, just on separate boats, I guess. This type of boycotting business is apparently illegal in the US, so no US company can sign any of these type of agreements. Anyway, that story just broke this morning (front page of the sunday edition) so I haven't found any reports in english on it from any other news source.

And as for corrections: apparently the Danish government hasn't *denied* muslims the right to build a mosque, they just haven't been allowed to build one *yet*. I guess this means that when Denmark now will be pressured into allowing the building of the mosque, they can claim that they weren't forced into it, it's just that the correct forms were finally correctly filled in or something. And my guess that the JP was read by only 300,000 people was a little low, according to statistics 600,000 people read it. But it *is* the most widely read paper (that isn't free), they send out 150,000 copies a day. Sounds like only a few people, but the total population of Denmark is only 5.2 million. So it's a big paper.

February 18, 2006


A couple of questions of Etiquette. If you are shot by someone is it really necessary to apologies to the person who shot you?

Also when two girls are making out in a bar, how much are you allowed to stare? I maintain that certain amount of staring is called for, particularly if some feeling up is involved. However, I do believe that whipping out your cell phone-camera should be considered rude.

February 17, 2006

Kidding on the Square

"America remaining obsessed, fascinated, appalled, by what is being called 'Dick Cheney Shot A Guy In The Face-Gate.'" --Jon Stewart

"If this story gets any bigger, pretty soon they're going to have to tell the president." --David Letterman

"After Whittington had a heart attack, Cheney said, "You big baby. I get those all the time. Walk it off." --Jay Leno

"But here is the sad part -- before the trip Donald Rumsfeld had denied the guy's request for body armor." --David Letterman

"You can understand why this lawyer fellow let his guard down, because if you're out hunting with a politician, you think, 'If I'm going to get it, it's going to be in the back.'" --Craig Ferguson

More jokes here.

Everything must be done to drive this event into the popular imagination. Dick Cheney is reckless. Dick Cheney has poor judgement. Dick Cheney can't be trusted with deadly stuff. For some reason birdshot seems to make the case better than WMD. At this point I don't care. I will take what I can get. Think I'm overreacting? Michelle Cottle makes a great case for overkill:

In an even more poetic vein, the events in question fit perfectly into the grand literary tradition of the hero's tragic flaw. For Cheney, as with so many kings through the ages, this is obviously arrogance. The man cannot stand the idea that he should in any way be accountable for anything to anyone--much less the weak, sniveling, unwashed mass of voters he ostensibly serves. (As if the notion of Cheney serving anyone isn't laugh-out-loud funny.) Seriously. The man could be caught on film slow roasting babies over a burning, swastika-adorned crucifix and he would simply shrug, sneer, and growl something about national security and the unitary executive theory.

With W. the fatal flaw is harder to pinpoint, if only because there are so many options to choose from. But the inestimable Ryan Lizza makes a compelling case that W.'s incuriosity and cluelessness are the defining characteristics highlighted by this little episode, and I'm inclined to agree. One can only assume that W. was too busy on the Stairmaster or out looking for some brush to clear in Rock Creek Park to be bothered with whatever trouble Cheney might be getting into out on the ranch.
But just because a scandal doesn't bring down an administration doesn't mean it isn't instructive or illuminating--not to mention absolutely worthy of media overkill. Some times a hunting accident is just a hunting accident. Other times, it is the perfect metaphor for why the nation's leadership is such a disaster.

February 16, 2006


Have you been ever walking down the street or been in some other public place and hear a conversation? Something funny or wierd or profound and not intended for you, but soooo worth hearing? I had one of those a couple of weeks ago. It went like this:

Guy: Your boyfriend can be a real jerk.
Girl: Ya, but I'm 22 and he's 42, so he must be doing something right.

There is a great web page called Overheard in New York which is a collection of these little snippets of conversation. There's some really great stuff in there.

So what have you overheard? Post it in comments.

Fortune and Glory

There's a good story in New York magazine on the hierarchy of blogs. Basically there are a few super-popular blogs, the A-list, who get all the hits and money, some smaller blogs, the B-list which get a share of popularity and $. Then there is the great big mass of C-list blogs, toiling away, waiting for there big break. (That would be this blog, but we do have occational dilutions of being on the B-list) The best way to break into the top ranks seem to be either 1. Get there first or 2. Blog about who Paris Hilton is sleeping with. Gawker which does gossip, pulls in somewhere between one and two million a year in ad money. Despite the temptation, I will remain a high-minded place for discussing the issues of the day. And West Wing cast members in bikinis. And the Vice President shooting someone in the face.

February 15, 2006

The Quest for Beans

Does anybody know where you can get beans for a beanbag? My beanbag, a family heirloom passed down over the generations, is looking a little tired these days. Needs a few more beans so it can once again provide the slothfull comfort it once did. But I can't find a store that sells beanbag beans. I've been in Michael's and a fabric store, but no joy. Any Ideas?

Can't Argue

I guess there are some advantages to being a loose cannon:

Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.


They attributed the shift to last week's closed briefings given by top administration officials to the full House and Senate intelligence committees, and to private appeals to wavering GOP senators by officials, including Vice President Cheney. "It's been a full-court press," said a top Senate Republican aide who asked to speak only on background -- as did several others for this story -- because of the classified nature of the intelligence committees' work.

I guess members of Congress can no longer say no to Cheney because he will shoot them if they do. Seriously, are GOP Senators going to just lay down and take it? Don't they realise this administration is weak? That they need some distance from them?

February 14, 2006

Friendly Fire

I was going to do something serious on retirement and Social Security or Hamas but the Vice-President of the United States shot a guy in the face. With a gun. I can't let this go. There's something for everyone in this story.

For you conspiracy nuts out there please note that it took the White House 22 hours to tell anyone about the shooting. I can only assume that they were coming up with and rejecting plans to either dispose of the body and/or make it look like someone else did the shooting.

For you history buffs out there please note that Cheney is the second Vice-President to shoot someone while in office. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Burr was later tried and acquitted of treason in a plan to carve out an Empire in North America with Burr as its leader. So Cheney is not, historically speaking, the most evil Vice-President ever.

For political junkies, you can delight in the pathetic spin coming from the White House. The two best lines of spin: We were too busy treating the victim to let anybody know and getting shot in the face, not that bad.

And absolutely everyone can have fun with what the Daily Show can do with this. Video Here.

February 13, 2006

Olympic Fun

Every four years I suddenly rediscover that speed skater have gigantic legs. I always forget and its always a surprise when I watch the first race.

Magic bandana. So there's this goofy looking kid with the unlikely nick-name of the "flying tomato." But when he puts a American flag bandana over his face like a desperado he starts looking like a real bad-ass. Also, he gains the ability to fly. Its a magic bandana.

Next up: Curling! Check out this red hot on-ice action:

It was tied 3-3 in the fifth when Fenson curled around a guarding stone, knocked Norway out of the scoring area and left three American rocks closest to the middle. That's three points. Norway closed to 6-5 with two in the sixth and was setting up for a big score in the seventh when U.S. vice skip Shawn Rojeski executed a perfect three-stone takeout.

"We had tried the same thing the previous throw and just missed it," Rojeski said. "John came down and gave me a little fire-upper."

Rojeski hit one guard stone into another and the second knocked a Norwegian rock right out of the middle of the target. A small section in the crowd started chanting "USA!" giving the team its first real taste of the Olympics.

Ten Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You

February 12, 2006

Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight

Dick Cheney has accidentally shot a guy while out hunting. You can pretty much make up your own metaphor from here. What makes this ok to joke about is that is seems the victim is going to be ok, as well as being a millionaire lawyer. I think now see how Cheney will go down in history, at least as far as the late night comics go.

The Tyranny of Small Places

Via Political Animal comes a fascinating look at the strange little City of Vernon. About four miles from downtown LA, its about five square miles, almost entirely industrial and commercial development. Almost all the residents (93!) are city employees and thier families. There hasn't been a contested election since 1980. When some new people tried to move to town and run for office, the city disconnected their power and the police force evicted the newcomers from their home. If this was a five square mile island is the Caribbean we would rightly call it a dictatorship. But these folks are getting away with this crap in the middle of LA.

February 11, 2006


First picture of Bush and Jack Abramoff have surfaced. Alas its not the money shot of them shaking hands or Abramoff handing Bush a check. Its Bush shaking hands with a tribal chairman with Abramoff in the background. Still, it puts them in the same room and renders White House efforts to erase Abramoff Soviet-Style even more laughable.

February 10, 2006

Now Open

So I remain a sucker for the Parade of Nation part of the Olympic Games opening ceremonies. You have to sit through like two hours of interpretive dance to get there, but that what the alcohol is for. (hic) There is just something about seeing Team Moldavia walk into that stadium. They don't stand a chance in hell and Moldova is so poor a local Italian village has taken up a collection to help cover the team's costs. But damn it they are there and representing their Country and having the time of their lives and I love it.

Our Intrepid Reporter Checks In

Craigorian Chant's Danish burea (That would be be Erin C) checks in with this report on the Danes, Muslims and the Cartoons.

Whew, where do i begin with Denmark? First you must understand that with the creation of the EU, Danes have become increasingly worried that they will lose their national identity. People already think that Denmark is the capital of Sweden and Germany has invaded it at least once almost every 50 years (and for some reason, after each war, including WWI, Germany ended up with MORE Danish land rather than less). Danes have become increasingly protective of their "danishness". So during the past 25 years or so the surge in refuges from arab countries have made Danes increasingly nervous because these immigrants have often not seamlessly integrated into Danish society. Not that Danes make it easy, they will fight to the death to
insure that you have the same rights as the next person, but if you break tradition, beware! But for many arabs who came to Denmark for political or religious freedom, the idea of conforming seems contrary to that goal. They will happily learn Danish, get whatever job they can, and be a productive member of society, but they won't give up their religion or dress. And this bothers many Danes, who view this as a rejection of their hospitality. So just as in France, there has been rising resentment on both sides. A political party has been formed whose sole purpose is to prevent the building of any mosques in Denmark. They have been remarkably successful. Honestly, the way California treats Mexican migrant laborers is better than Denmark's current attitude toward arab immigrants. There is a contract you have to sign when you apply for residency (residency! not citizenship!) where you promise to raise your child according to Danish standards, in Danish schools, with Danish as a primary language. Because Denmark is concerned about your child's well-being, your child's name must be on the state approved list of baby names UNLESS you can prove that the name you are giving your child is a common name from your homeland. (I don't think Craig is on the list, but Cornelius is, who do you think will get teased at school?) Oh yes, and the current slang term for Danish-Arab is "Mohammedane".

Now, add to this the declining number of people who read Jyllands-Posten (the newspaper in question) and you may begin to see what happened.

The JP wanted to start a lively debate regarding the current Islamaphobia,
so they asked all the famous cartoonists to draw Mohammed. And then they published them in September or October. (We don't get that newspaper because it's...well, it's the Washington Post to the New York Times, most of the time, it's full of crap.) Apparently it takes a while for people to get upset around here. Anyway, in Denmark at least there was a lot of discussion about the cartoons. At the time both Thomas and I thought, well, that's a dumb thing to do, but there didn't seem to be a lot of outcry from Danish muslims. And suddenly there is.

The newspaper has apologized for the fuss, but stands by it's right to freedom of speech (which is a very strong freedom in Denmark, you can say just about anything to anyone at any time). The point that has been made by a lot of Danish arab journalists is that the countries who are fussing the most are the ones who do not have freedom of speech and have a government controlled press. The government of Denmark can do nothing to the newspaper. The company that has been boycotted all over the arab world can do nothing to the newspaper. The publication of politically incorrect cartoons in a newspaper read by MAYBE 300,000 has gotten a reaction way out
of proportion to the incident.

As a person who comes from a country whose flag gets torched all the time and who constantly finds herself having to explain America's foreign policy to everyone I meet, I find myself surprised at how upset Danes are getting over the reaction of the middle-east. But I'm used to being universally disliked and mistrusted for being an American, Danes are used to everyone loving them. Or not even realizing they are a country. For them it is a shock and they have no idea how to solve this problem. Like the JP should fire the culture editor, or he should resign or retire. The prime minister and the queen could keep talking about how disappointed they are with the newspaper to print such blatantly inflammatory cartoons. The parliament could lift the ban on mosque building and finally let muslims build an adequate mosque in Copenhagen (hey, maybe they could have two!). But I don't think they will. Danes are very stubborn people, and when they feel their rights are threatened they will not give in; currently they are viewing this as a show down on freedom of press. So expect very little.

But if I could reach out to all the Danes who are currently worried about how much the world hates them, I would tell them, "fear not, my friends, next week we Americans will do something far worse to take the burden of infamy from your shoulders!" At least we can count of that!

And on a related note: how ironic it is that Syria, Libya, et. al are calling for a UN resolution regarding freedom and respect for religion? I say we pass the damn thing just for the look on their faces when we slap them with a whateverthehellyoucallthem for statements made against Judaism.
Heh heh heh.

The world-wide power of Craigorian Chant, at your fingertips.

February 9, 2006


So team Bush has concluded that their poor poll numbers reflect a general lack of fear in the American population. So Bush gave a speech today where he revealed the details of a foiled terror plot from four years ago, said the words "9/11" a lot and the word "terror" a lot more and generally tried to scare the crap out of people.

I have a new theory of the Bush administration: Terror is the MacGuffin of the Bush administration. MacGuffin is a great word I just learned. A MacGuffin is a plot device in a movie. It is central to and drives the plot, but really doesn't amount to anything on its own. My favorite example is the the silver case in Ronin. All kinds of mayhem and double-cross are waged over the case, but we never learn what's inside the case. Other good examples of MacGuffin's are the "letters of transit" in Casablanca and the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. These objects drive the plot, but really, in the end, they don't amount to anything. Terror is same for Bush. Everything revolves around terror. Everything they do that is controversial is done to "keep us safe from terror." Every world leader Bush meets with, they talk about terror. Bush used the word terror 97 times in his speech today. The whole "plot" of the Bush administration is "terror"

But it turns out the briefcase is empty. This administration isn't spending any money on fighting terrorism. Kevin Drum:

Anyone who has experience with a big bureaucracy knows that budget authority is the #1 indicator of what their organization's real priorities are. That's especially true in the federal government, where spin is a way of life and hard spending plans are virtually the only way to figure out what the boss considers really important.

So if that's the case, just how seriously does the Bush administration take the future threat from global terrorism? The answer, judging from its recently released Quadrennial Defense Review, is not very. To be sure, it contains lots of fine words about "long wars" and post-9/11 priorities, but when you look at where the money is going, virtually nothing has changed. As far as the 2006 QDR is concerned, we're not fighting al-Qaeda, we're still fighting the Cold War.

The real way to show priorities is to spend money on them. All our money is going to weapon systems that do us no good in a "war on terror." Bush has this magic silver case called "terror" that he claims is the center of everything. But there's nothing in the case. MacGuffin.

February 8, 2006

All is Right

In the world. U2 wins at the Grammys, completely upstaging Mariah Carey.

No Longer Funny

Islamic protests over cartoons published in Demark have now turned deadly. The original fuss was kicked up over charges of blasphemy. Its a violation of Islam to picture the Mohammed, which these cartoons did. Protests are happening all over, and several European Embassies in the Middle East have been attacked. All of the deaths have occurred in Afghanistan when protesters tried to storm NATO bases. My guess is that this really isn't about cartoons. You do not try and storm a US base shouting "Death to America" over Danish cartoons. I think every bit of anti-western hatred, local disputes and ever rabble rouser wanting to make a name for themselves is getting caught up in this.

February 7, 2006

Truth to Power

Coretta Scott King's funeral was today. Making some headlines was Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery who put a condemnation of the Iraq war and a call for aid to the poor in his speech. There were four Presidents in the audience, including the current one. That would be the one who launched the Iraq war and who's latest budget cuts aid to the poor. So pretty gutsy move by the Reverend Lowery.

February 6, 2006

Will No One Rid Me of this Troublesome Congressman?

So more and more and dirt is coming out on John Doolittle. (R-CA Foothills) TPM's The Daily Muck feature should just be called the Daily Doolittle (Actually, I think they already made that crack). The latest episode has Doolittle steering a 37 million dollar contract to the same defense contractor that bought off the lamentable Duke Cunningham. (R-Folsom Prison)

Now John Doolittle is a bit of a white whale for me. There are two ways he goes down. First the Duke way: In handcuffs, with lots of tears and "I'm so sorry to everyone I've hurt."

The second way is actually much more emotionally satisfying and thus, much harder to get. Somebody just has to beat this guy. Now normally, considering the type of district, contemplating the strategy of a run at Mr Doolittle goes like this:

How would you beat him?

With a stick, while he was in bed, asleep. But in an election? Noooo.

But with a new revelations coming out every day, some hope is starting to enter the picture. The sweet smell of opportunity mixed in with the stench of corruption. The next question is, who is going to do the beating?

Enter Charlie Brown. I'm not kidding. Charles D. Brown, Lt. Colonel, USAF Retired is running against Doolittle. He's been featured among Daily's Kos and Air America's Fighting Dems. You can hear to him here. All of a sudden this isn't an impossible dream. Brown says interesting things, has a compelling bio, the Donkey's are set for a good year nationally, and John Doolittle doesn't seem to realize that he might be in trouble. It will take a perfect storm to unseat Doolittle. But a perfect storm may be coming.

Tapped Out

You know I'm starting to question the truthfulness of Attorney General Gonzales. The first hint was went he began his testimony before Congress today on the NSA wiretapping issue and was not sworn in. He skipped the whole "what I tell the committee today will the truth, the whole truth...etc, etc, etc." Now, why would they do such a thing? Perhaps because his opening statement included the statement "The terrorist surveillance program is necessary, it is lawful and it respects the civil liberties we all cherish." To which I say no, no and no. Speaking of Tapped here they are demanding that the GOP Congress do something about this, for no other reason than to protect their own power:

High-minded concerns aside, you would think that members would care more about the institutional prerogatives of the Congress. After all, if the executive branch can just take money that Congress has given them and spend it in ways that violate laws Congress has passed, and then show up in hearings and just assert that Congress authorized things it plainly never did, then who cares about members of Congress? Who's going to bother to bribe them or toady up to them? Who's going to fear their wrath?

February 5, 2006

Super Duper

Any team that has a wide receiver throw a 43-yard touchdown pass on trick play deserves to win the game.

I think the commercials were dull enough this year that we can turn down the "Super Bowl of Commerials" hype a few notches. Its only been an hour and I'm trying to remember some ads. Which means that they were pretty forgettable. I liked the the Fed Ex caveman one and the Bud Light "Magic Fridge" ad.

The Dove ad about self-esteem in girls was really striking and touching and not at all what I expected in a Superbowl Ad. I have this theory that a grand conspiracy exists between the media and their Mothers to mess with the heads of women and give them screwed up ideas about their bodies. So if the small Dove Soap-sponsored corner of the media will help out, I'm all for it.

February 4, 2006

West Wing Update

So Kristin Chenoweth, who plays helium voiced media master Annabeth Schott on the West Wing, is in this months FHM magazine. I am reluctant to bring attention to this event, but I really feel obligated to cover all things related to West Wing, because the show has so little time left. So here's Kristin:

Wow. Who knew all of that was lurking under those business suits? Turns out she can sing too. CD available now.

In completely unrelated news, advertisers have been critical of Craigorian Chant for failing to attract the key male demographic. Craigorian Chant's editorial staff has announced that it is taking steps to address the problem.

Google Earth and Terrorists

If none of you have used Google Earth, you should definately check it out! It’s free! A couple months ago I spent an entire Thursday evening playing around with it (a break from my normal Thursday night routine). The program is an extremely advanced tool. And I should know! Maps, digital data and imagery is what my agency does. The remarkable thing about Google Earth is the perspective views you can create and the 3D buildings in major cities you can over lay on the imagery. It’s a fantastic visualization tool. The number of layers you can add to your views is substantial indeed---Everything from country borders to DVD rental stores and crime statistics. You can even include the “National Geographic” layer which places yellow squares on the terrain in areas where National Geographic magazine wrote articles about. Although they only appear in Africa (I assume you can get them for other places, but you’d have to upgrade to “Google Earth Plus”, which of course costs money). There’s also a list of “Tools” that allow you measure areas and distance. There’s an enormous potentential with this program (you can even add new 3D buildings to your Goolge Earth views with this program).

Which leads me to the disscussion of the use of Google Earth by terrorists. There certainly has been some concern. and some here. and some here. and some concern here. Because GE uses high resolution 1 meter (and sometimes sub meter) imagery over not only cities, but also over miltary bases and airfields in their product, there is a fear that terrorists could use GE and it’s tool set to plan attacks on US forces. And for sure, one can easily locate ingress and egress routes from military bases and use it to coordinate attacks where every they feel the need to stick it to our troops. Try it yourself. You can zoom into real close to nearly all major cities and airports.

However, there’s many things that can help terrorists and I think the worry is overblown.

The internet is making terrorists job much easier today: I don’t need to explain to the smarter than average C-Chant readers how that’s helping!

And think of the other things that could help terrorists as well:

--Books: Millions exists with all sorts of information about guns, military tactics, bombs, survivalist living, gureilla warfare, etc.

--Maps, almanacs, and atlases: High quality maps can help plan operations.
--Shoes: Good shoes will make your feet more comfortable and allow you move fast so that you can run into an Israeli supermarket and detinate yourself.


--Digital cameras: Take pictures of places you want to attack and enauil them to fellow terrorists.

--Ipod: allows you to listen to your choice of music on the go so you can get pumped up for your suicide mission.

Blueberries: If blueberries can help all these aliments, then they can help terrorists stay healthy for “insurgent attacks” and suicide bombings.

The BowFlex: Run faster, kill quicker, carry more ammo!

If you guys are interested in more Google Earth like applications check out the list below. I've been to all these sites, but haven't investigated them all in detail; some work and some don’t, some are in different languages, and other's you may have to pay for or aren't available yet but let me know which one you think are the best for planning terrorist attacks!

1. Hipparchus
2. Mark Pesce's WebEarth
3. Lunar Software Earthbrowser
4. SRI Terravision
5. Eingana
6. SINTEF Virtual Globe
7. Celestia
8. TerraSuite
9. GeoFusion GeoPlayer
10. ESRI ArcGlobe
11. NASA World Wind
12. EarthSLOT
13. osgPlanet
14. Erdas Imagine Virtual Delivery
15. Ping 3map
16. ESRI ArcGIS Explorer
17. Microsoft MapPoint Virtual Globe
18. GeoVirtual GeoShow3D
19. Punt

February 3, 2006

Smack Bill O'Reilly Day

Really, what day isn't a good day to smack Bill around. Clip of Keith Olbermann doing the duty here. For my money Olbermann is the best thing in TV news. No post on O'Reilly would be complete without a link to Sweet Jesus I Hate Bill O'Reilly. Do I really need to explain why?

February 2, 2006


The House Republicans picked a new Majority Leader today to replace former leader Tom Delay (R-Evil) After a initial vote where more votes were cast than member were present, things had to be redone. The GOP has settled on John Boehner (R-OH) to lead them. Not sure how to say Boehner's name or what he stands for but I'm guessing I'll hate him and everything he stands for.

Speaking of leadership, my unbridled admiration for Bono continues. He spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast:

Speaking to President Bush and members of Congress at the National Prayer Breakfast, the U2 front man said it's unjust to keep poor people from selling their goods while singing the virtues of the free market, to hold children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents and to withhold medicines that would save lives.

"God will not accept that," he said. "Mine won't. Will yours?"

Bono's speech riveted the ballroom audience that included the president and first lady and leaders from Congress, the Cabinet, the military, the clergy and countries from around the world. At every table, Bono had distributed white plastic bracelets from The ONE Campaign to fight AIDS and poverty, and Sen. Hillary Clinton was among those who wrapped it around her fingers while she listened.

UPDATE: Thanks Slate. We now know that is prononced "Bay-ner." Rhymes with "explainer" Deep down you were kind of hoping it rhymed with "stoner" didn't you?

UPDATE PART 2: I do hate him and everything he stands for.

Back in Iraq

Five US soldiers dead. Oh and the headlines about the Saddam Hussein trial now have "Chaos" in them every day.

February 1, 2006


More notes on SOTU.

Lovely little stunt by the Dems last night. Bush had a finger wagging line about the Congress failing to act on his Social Security program. The Dems gave the line a standing O like Bush had just proposed free puppies for all. Copies of the speech are given out in advance and my guess is that the applause was worked out in advance.

Everything I can't stand about the foreign affairs part of the speech, put together nicely here.

Oh, and the whole banning human/animal hybrids thing is a good way to stop some very valuable research.

Personal Experience

The best antidote to conservative policy is personal experience. I can cite a long list of "principal" conservatives who abandon their conservative principals the as soon as a personal experience teaches them different. Dick Cheney is notable absent from advocating against gay marriage. Why? His daughter is gay. Nasty old Strom Thurmond was all for regulating the alcohol industry because he lost a granddaughter to a drunk driver. The latest is pro-tort reform Trent Lot discovering that he does, in fact, love lawsuits when Katrina destroyed a house of his and the insurance company is wiggling out of paying up.

In that vane, that always attentive Chris alerts us to a program to buy your Senator an I-pod. The idea being that if we give all the 70-something Senators some experience with digital music they are much less likely to do the biding of the MPAA and RIAA and adopt measures that screw digital music users.

The major philosophical point to take from all of this is that conservatism as a philosophy is a load of bunk. Even its most ardent believer will abandon it in a heartbeat the moment reality hits them in the eyes.