I don't mean to be, you know, bitchy or anything...

...but how many coats of paint do those schools have by now?
WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — President Bush’s new Iraq strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000 American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing together the last parts of the initiative.

Am I imagining this, or have I been reading about painting schools for about four years? They must have at least two coats by now. Or maybe it's just they've got some really slow painters on the job. Or maybe it's the only thing they can think of to do.

Oh, wait. Clean streets. Right.

Think ahead?

Christian Science Monitor asks...
If Iraq fragments, what's Plan B?

Uhhhhhhh. You mean, like...
As President Bush readies a new strategy for Iraq, some experts in Washington are looking beyond the question of US troop levels to what might happen if worst-case scenarios come true. Call it Plan B: How the United States might handle Iraq's partition.

Right. I was afraid of that.
"If I was working for George Bush, I would want somebody to be thinking hard about this, sort of preparing the groundwork," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign-policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Oh. I get it. It's a joke.

For a minute there....

Not even just a rinse?

DETROIT - Don't clean your kids in the washing machine. Don't dry your cell phone in the microwave. And be sure not to read the phone book while driving. Those are among the winning entries in this year's Wacky Warning Label Contest, run by an anti-lawsuit group.

Well there goes another good idea.

Doesn't sound so astonishing to me.

Consumer groups prepare to assail rumored Bush candidate to head Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist Michael Baroody. “It’s sort of astonishing that the administration would pick someone from a regulated industry,” says Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America.

(Carpetbagger Report)

Sounds more like par, doesn't it?

And anyway you don't need no "product safety," ya wimps.

I can already hear the jabberbimbos sputtering.

The NYT reported that hostility towards the United States is so strong now, Saddam, who was not a popular Arab figure before, “appears to have been virtually cleansed of his past.”

“Suddenly we forgot that he was a dictator and that he killed thousands of people,” said Roula Haddad, 33, a Lebanese Christian. “All our hatred for him suddenly turned into sympathy, sympathy with someone who was treated unjustly by an occupation force and its collaborators.”

(Carpetbagger Report)

In a puddle somewhere south of Vermont.

Thirty minutes south of Vermont, in fact, along the Connecticut River in western Massacusetts, January 6. Accuweather tells me it's 64º, the warmest day of the week but not by much. The forecast shows highs declining to 32 on Wednesday, then back up to 38 the next day.

And in the puddle the green things are getting pretty confused.

Echidne on Rehnquist.

The most disturbing part of it isn't that Rehnquist was given this much power while drugged and deluded, it was that even though the press knew about the racial thuggery and there were persistent rumors of serious psychological problems, they covered it up year after year. The people who pretend to be the last and best hope of democracy covered up for a seriously incapacitated Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The same people who studiously reported every single lie that the Republican establishment cooked up* about even the most minor players in the Carter and Clinton administrations and the Democratic side of the congress couldn’t be bothered to follow up on why and Associate Justice who was made the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was plainly mentally ill.

Echidne of the Snakes.

Dig the hole deeper, and pour more money in.

Taking a different view, other officers have argued for sending more troops while stepping up economic efforts, the better to apply the military’s new counterinsurgency doctrine.

Right. The "different view" differs from the one Bushco's been marketing for a while now (time just flies right by, doesn't it?), training Iraqis so they can "step up" while we "step down." But that was back in the days when we were weren't, oh what the hell, were "staying the course" instead of "surging." Which we're not doing now, but a whole lot of people think we might. Unless, of course, we don't.

Luckily the one guy who understands this - OK, the one guy outside the bunker - is Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has just been made - I know you're never gonna believe this but take my word for it, it's true...

Wait. Let the New York Times say it.
The selection of Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus to serve as the senior American commander in Iraq signals an important turn in United States strategy.

That's it! Senior American commander in Iraq! What did I say about lucky, huh?

American forces can be expected to take up positions in neighborhoods throughout the capital instead of limiting themselves to conducting patrols from large, fortified bases in and around the city.

Instead of training the Iraq police so much, we're gonna be the Iraq police.

And dig the hole deeper. And pour more money in.


The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck--so it's up to us. You and me.

I don't know why President Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is we have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped now.

Read it all. She's right.


The people's house no more.

WASHINGTON - The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.

Counting the cost of Bushco's war.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Jan 3 (IPS) - On New Year's Eve, the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq passed 3,000. By Tuesday, the death toll had reached 3,004 -- 31 more than died in the Sep. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

But the number of injured has far outstripped the dead, with the Veterans Administration reporting that more than 150,000 veterans of the Iraq war are receiving disability benefits.

Read that again. "...more than 150,000 veterans of the Iraq war are receiving disability benefits."

And here's one of the answers to those morons who seem to feel 3,000 deaths is no big deal compared to the numbers killed at Antietam or in Normandy or on Iwo. In the Civil War nearly every soldier seriously wounded died. In WWII deaths from wounds were far more common than they are today. Even through the Vietnam era an explosion violent enough to tear off an arm or leg usually, if not always, resulted in death. But since the introduction of body armor - and better medical practices - that's no longer the case. Body armor saves lives. And that's good. But it in no way negates the cost.
"I walk into the operating room and the general surgeons are doing their work and there is the body of this Navy SEAL, which is a physical specimen to behold," he told IPS. "And his abdomen is open, they're exploring both intestines. He's missing both legs below the knee, one arm is blown off, he's got incisions on his thighs to relieve the pressure on the parts of the legs that are hopefully gonna survive and there's genital injuries, and you just want to cry."

Support the troops. Bring them home. Don't send more.

McCain says he's willing to "pay the price" if "surge" idea is wrong...

"Well, as you know, I harbor ambitions for the presidency, but there's nothing more important than our nation's security," McCain responded. "I have to do what I believe is right and what I know is right."

"And if I pay a price for that and it's a misjudgment, that's a price I'd willingly pay," McCain added.

...by, I don't know, just hanging around in the Senate forever, I guess.

Some other guys will probably pay by getting blown up.

Poor John.

Did they say "bang bang"?

According to the Border Patrol, an unknown number of gunmen attacked the site in the state's West Desert Region around 11 p.m....

The Border Patrol will not say whether shots were fired.

(12 News)

Yeah, well, it worked for Lincoln but...

ABC News' Martha Raddatz Reports: ABC News has learned that the president intends to nominate Admiral William J. Fallon to replace General John Abizaid at Central Command. The announcement is expected next week, before the president gives his Iraq strategy speech, according to US officials.

Officials also tell ABC that the replacement as MNF-I commander in Iraq (replacing Gen. George Casey) will be LTG David Petraeus. Though Casey was originally staying in position till June, he is expected to leave earlier than expected probably in the next few months.

“The president wants a clean sweep” an official told ABC News.

...I'm not getting my hopes up here just yet.

What Lincoln wound up with was some guys who kicked ass. What DOOFUS is after is some guys to kiss it.

Support NASA!

Spiiderweb™ explains why.

Who cares if they go to Mars?

Heckuva job, Linton

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Thursday dismissed the chief of the country's nuclear weapons program because of security breakdowns at Los Alamos National Laboratory and other facilities.

Linton Brooks said he would leave in two to three weeks as head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a post he held since July 2002.


DOOFUS joined a quartet or something? What have I been missing here?

DOOFUS met with Germany's Merkel the other day, talked about Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and...
Madam Chancellor had a good idea to convene the Quartet, which I agreed to. I think the Quartet ought to meet at an appropriate time.

Ummmmm, OK. How does the third Tuesday of the month sound?

Russian rocket hits Wyoming? Ho hum.

"A spent Russian booster rocket re-entered the atmosphere Thursday over Colorado and Wyoming, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said. NORAD spokesman Sean Kelly said the agency was trying to confirm a report that a piece of the rocket may have hit the ground near Riverton, Wyoming, at about 6 a.m."


The American eagle may be coming off the endangered list, but it still needs an eye exam.

From the ever-vigilant Whatever it is I'm Against it:
Bush’s signing statement giving himself the power to open anyone’s mail without a warrant – “especially,” in the words of the statement, “if they contain free samples of gum, candy or other taste treats” – is not exactly a surprise, given his record. But almost more worrisome than Bush’s people reading our mail is the failure of anyone in Congress to read this statement, which was issued 15 days before anyone noticed.

The next time I complain about the lack of a spell checker in Wordpad (which will be soon) you can remind me of this.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Right. You may have seen it before. It's been floating around the emails for years. But it just arrived in my mail again this morning, probably for some reason (see above). The pedigree of the research cited is undetermined. But hey, it's the thought that counts.

On spelling

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Received in a much-forwarded email.


Whoa! Snowjob!

However, he [Tony Snowjob] did take a shot at the media's coverage of Saddam, hitting "at least among the American press, the fascination with the final moments and the relatively less description of the first 69 years."


I think the strategy here must be to just say stuff so incredibly, awesomely ridiculous that people will just throw up their hands and walk away, not pay attention any more. What else could it be?

Wait! A war I've missed?

Next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas should shake up the format war. The NYTimes reports that Warner Brothers will announce the Total HD disc that can store both Blu-ray and HD-DVD content.


Damn. Now I'll have to wait for it to come out on DVD. Or Blu-ray. Or Total. something. whatever.

Nobody's perfect.

"The single thing that we have done wrong, and we are striving extremely hard to improve on, is killing innocent civilians," Brig. Richard E. Nugee, chief spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said at a news conference.

In Afghanistan, that would be, the single thing done wrong.
Still, Nugee said, NATO forces had killed far fewer civilians than the Taliban had.

"There is absolutely no comparison to be made," he said. "The Taliban are killing significant numbers of their own people and showing no remorse at all."

So there.

Stat downgrades "surge" to "bump."

The president, who is completing a lengthy review of Iraq policy, is considering dispatching three to four U.S. combat brigades to Iraq, or no more than 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, the officials said. Bush is expected to announce his decision next week.

Typically, a combat brigade comprises about 3,500 combat troops and more than 1,000 support personnel.

"Instead of a surge, it is a bump," said a State Department official.


So there, that's not so bad, is it Bunky?

If it gets any smaller it'll be a jiggle.

DOOFUS wants to read your snail.

The presidential signing statement strikes again. Congress passes a law that expressly forbids the government from searching Americans' mail without a court's approval, and Bush reacts by quietly nixing it.

Don't worry, Bush says the government will only intercept your mail under "exigent circumstances."
(Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker.com)

And Roberts thinks his pay is a "constitutional crisis"?
Amendment IV - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So why say it then?

...it goes without saying I want to wish everybody and their family a happy and a healthy new year
...said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Caucus chairman, anyway, at a Democratic Party press conference the other day.

But Cindy Sheehan, the terrifying peacenik mommy who's been raising a ruckus about Iraq for a while, knew what needed saying and got right on with it.
"We're here to let the Democrats know that the grass roots and the anti-war movement elected them to create change," declared Sheehan.

(Raw Story)

Begging the question whether it was the "grass roots and the anti-war movement" that elected all those Ds to Congress, Sheehan's point sticks. The Ds are where they are because a lot of voters want some things in Washington changed.

As far as I'm concerned Emanuel and his D buddies can say what goes without saying all they want, as long as they get what needs doing done.

And good for you, Cindy Sheehan, good for you.

Creepy! But not so hot, school board's attorney says.

MSNBC Jan. 2, 2007 - The pictures posted on MySpace.com looked like the latest installment of "Girls Gone Wild." In them, cheerleaders from McKinney North High School in Texas exhibited all variety of bawdy behavior. One shot showed a bikini-clad girl sharing a bottle of booze with a friend. Another featured a cheerleader and several other girls in risqué poses offering glimpses of their panties. But the most infamous photo of all was taken in a Condoms To Go store. Five smiling cheerleaders dressed in uniform posed with large candles shaped like penises. At least one of them appeared to be simulating fellatio. "It would be an overstatement to describe any of the photographs as pornographic, but it would be an understatement to describe them as harmless high jinks," wrote Harold Jones, a lawyer hired by the school district to investigate the incident. "Quite frankly, I personally found it 'creepy'."

Scandal ensues in Dallas bedroom suburb.

No word yet on who owns movie rights.

More than one way to rig a vote.

The New York Times reports...
A laboratory that has tested most of the nation’s electronic voting systems has been temporarily barred from approving new machines after federal officials found that it was not following its quality-control procedures and could not document that it was conducting all the required tests.

But the money quote comes three graphs down.
The commission acted last summer, but the problem was not disclosed then. Officials at the commission and Ciber confirmed the action in recent interviews.

So what is it, just too hard to run fair elections now? Just too much work? Too expensive? Too embarassing?

And what else did folks not know before they went to the polls in November?


DOOFUS to wave shiny object at SOTU, shout "Look here!"

Al Hubbard, chairman of the National Economic Council, who is co-ordinating White House energy policy, has also raised expectations. In a speech at De Pauw University he predicted “headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.”
"In every one of his previous State of the Union addresses, Bush has promised to push America towards energy independence, notes Think Progress, yet "as of September 2006, 70 percent of oil consumed in the United States came from foreign sources, up from 58 percent in 2000."

Taking out the bananas.

I mentioned nearly a month ago buying a few "no gas" bananas only to discover they require a gas - ethylene - to "ripen properly." Bananas can be, apparently, "home ripened" by sealing them in a plastic bag with apples, which emit ethylene naturally.

Well I didn't, and mine did anyway, eventually (possibly because I keep them in the same basket I keep "regular" bananas in?). They haven't become grocery-store yellow but they've changed from green to a sort of dull, brownish yellow and they feel about the right consistency, so I ate one this morning. And it was delicious. Noticeably better than the bananas I usually buy.

Surely this is not a very scientific test - not scientific at all, in fact - and a whole lot of other factors may be involved. but the results are encouraging enough I might try the apples-in-the-bag trick one day.

Meanwhile I have work to do today so I'm off to get it done.

A whole lot of people have had a crack at this.

Comparing casualties in Iraq to World War II, the Associated Press asks...
Why So Many Upset by Iraq Death Toll?

And I was going to leave it alone myself, but it's been bugging me. A question that stupid deserves a whole lot of stupid answers, so here's my contribution.

You can not endlessly flog the painful deaths of 9/11 and expect a like number of US deaths in a fraudulent, pointless war, no matter how cleverly concealed, to go unremarked. You can not celebrate, year after year, with fly-over bombast, the deaths of 9/11 and expect the deaths of US soldiers to go unremembered. And in particular, you can not hide the returning caskets and "support the troops."

From Corrente: Adam & Eve pardoned, long nightmare ends.

“I got the idea from hearing all those wise men and women on television speaking about Gerald Ford’s presidential pardon of The Five O’Clock Shadow,” said Lord God in an interview with Larry King...



Where's Dave Barry when you need him?

The Sideshow takes note of a "Drum Major Institute for Public Policy" which, despite all apparent odds, turns out to be a real place.

And that'd be a pretty good name for a rock band, wouldn't it?

PS: Dave Barry's here.

South of the border.

...the Mexico City couple didn't bring their children to El Alberto, hundreds of miles from the nearest entry point into the United States, to head to Texas or California. Like the other middle-class urbanites in the group, they had paid $14 to have the migrant experience without the three days in the desert, without the fear, and, well, without the border. They were in the Mezquital Valley for a local eco-park's Caminata Nocturna, a faux crossing that is two parts haunted hayride, one part nature walk, and one part team-building activity, with a sprinkle of indigenous folklore thrown in for good measure. And after a brief moonlit respite on the bank of the Río Tula, they had to jump into the brambles when the sirens and flashing lights came down on them.


Is it just me, or does this have a little tinge of ghoulishness about it?

Master Sergeant Robert Ellis told an American newspaper he had checked Saddam's health twice a day, with orders to do whatever was needed to keep him alive. "That was my job: to keep him alive and healthy, so they could kill him at a later date," he said in an interview with the St Louis Post-Dispatch published on Sunday.


When you start putting GPS in glasses let me know. Until then leave me alone.

MIAMI -- Global Positioning System technology is turning up in more and more devices, like watches and cellphones.

But a Miami company has used the technology to develop shoes that can be located anywhere in the world.

Guy and dolls.

FERNDALE, Mich. (AP) - A man who has a history of smashing windows to indulge his fetish for female mannequins could draw a long prison term for his latest arrest. Ronald A. Dotson, 39, of Detroit faces up to life in prison if convicted of a charge of attempted breaking and entering at a cleaning-supply company in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.

The "decency" of Gerry Ford.

When asked during his vice-presidential confirmation hearings about whether he would grant Nixon a pardon should he need one, Ford replied: "I don't think the public would stand for it."

[In a press conference after the pardon, Ford claimed that he hadn’t promised “I said in answer to that hypothetical question, I did not say I wouldn't. I simply said that under the way the question was phrased, the American people would object.” At the same press conference he seemed to forget the nine words when he said “I must say that the decision has created more antagonism than I anticipated.”]

(Balkinization - with thanks to Skippy)

And now that Gerry Ford's name has come up, isn't it amusing how the Rs are all huggy woowoo about "forgiveness"?

Yeah, and somehow I think we're in for more of that.

First a plan, then a plan, then another plan plan.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 — President Bush began 2006 assuring the country that he had a “strategy for victory in Iraq.” He ended the year closeted with his war cabinet on his ranch trying to devise a new strategy, because the existing one had collapsed.,,,

In interviews in Washington and Baghdad, senior officials said the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department...failed to take seriously warnings, including some from its own ambassador in Baghdad, that sectarian violence could rip the country apart and turn Mr. Bush’s promise to “clear, hold and build” Iraqi neighborhoods and towns into an empty slogan.

Whatever form the new strategy takes, it seems almost certain to include a “surge” in forces, something that General Casey insisted earlier this year he did not need and which might even be counterproductive....

“What I want to hear from you is how we’re going to win,” [Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine commandant] quoted the president as warning his commanders, “not how we’re going to leave.”
"In one of its most sobering conclusions, the Iraq Study Group found that a "surge" of 15,000 more U.S. soldiers in Baghdad during the summer did little good, because the operations did not change the conditions that encourage sectarian warfare," writes the San Jose Mercury News' Frank Davies in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.


"Sicko math"

I'm noting the comment by Athenae at First Draft on what she calls the "sicko math" practiced by denizens of the "conservative" web site Free Republic in trying to somehow rationalize away the loss of 3000 US troops lost in Iraq. Example:
Philadelphia Pennsylvania lost over 400 people just this year through crime. The liberal strongholds in the U.S. are far more dangerous than Iraq when you check out the number of dead each year.

There are about 1.5 million people living in Philadelphia, about 10% that number - 150,000 - of US troops in Iraq. On a per capita basis 400 deaths in Philadelphia would equate to 40 US soldiers killed in Iraq annually. Reuters is reporting this evening about 113 US troop deaths - nearly three times that number - in just December of this year.

And of course the Freepers' callous calculations take no notice of Iraqi deaths at all. Iraqi government officials report 16,273 Iraqi deaths by violence in 2006. Coincidentally US population is about 10 times greater than Iraq's. So not even all the examples Athenae cites put together - even throwing in the flu, as one Freeper tries to do - approaches the carnage in Iraq.

Attempting to mask the disaster in Iraq by pretending to show anyone in Iraq is somehow "safer" that Americans are in the US, on any basis, is pathetically wrong. And shame on anyone who plays that ugly game.

What you missed last night if you weren't in Burlington, Vermont.

There was something for everyone: Slinky dancers in Contois, a Taize Prayer for World Peace, Old Time music at the College Street Congregational Church following the hot chili supper there, a hand-bell ensemble, Circus Smirkus, poetry slams and banjo playing and printmaking. Two fireworks shoot-offs were scheduled, the Vermont Youth Orchestra was at the Flynn Center and a drums and dragons parade snaked along the Marketplace to City Hall Park. And there was food, plenty of food. Amir's Kebab Stand had a line. It advertised: "New Fries. New. Eat them you'll want more of them."

(Burlington Free Press)

Pink taxis! So that's what women want!

Dubai - Fifty new pink coloured taxis serving women only were introduced Monday in Dubai by the Public Transport Organisation under the name "Women's Taxi". The taxis are being operated by 100 women drivers of different nationalities.

Whew. Glad somebody figured it out.

And I believe him, too.

In Taiwan, a woman sues for an injunction to stop her husband from telling her scary stories.
He would tell her stories of seeing 'figures clothed in white floating around in the orchard', of people hanging themselves, and of the discovery of human bones near the orchard....

...his daughters told the judge their father frequently traumatised their mother with his macabre tales....

In his defence, Mr Chen claimed he was only sharing work stories with his wife.

I can empathize with this poor guy. I work in a Windows lab.

I'm begging here.

A friend who knew about such things once pointed out to me I'm way beyond normally right-handed, and she was right. I can scratch my nose left-handed - OK, I miss once in a while but most of the time I can - but that's about it. So I mean it, I'm begging here.

Will whoever keeps putting those damn twisty things on the bread package left-handed please cut it out?

It's driving me nuts.

Doom, gloom, and Jesus.

Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of a terrorist attack. An identical percentage thinks it likely that a biological or nuclear weapon will be unleashed somewhere else in the world.

Seventy percent of people in the U.S. predict a major natural disaster in the country and an equal percentage expects worsening global warming. Also, 29 percent think it likely that the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq.

And 25 percent anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ.

What's left? Oh yeah.
Higher gas prices, legalized gay marriage and the possible arrival of bird flu also are seen as being in the cards.

Why not. And more.

Starting the clock running on the Ds.

Christy Hardin Smith, writing at Firedoglake:
Now that it is January, we must hold the Democratically-controlled Congress to its word that there will be some measure of oversight, some accountability, some stabilizing of this tilted mess of a ship of state. We can no longer afford to wait and hope for the best. The best is not coming from George Bush — it is high time we all accepted that fact and went to work on what needs to be done to correct all of the errors that have been committed in our names the last six years — because a correction from the Bush Administration alone will not be forthcoming. Ever.

And amen to that.

Blogger bitches about not getting a free laptop from Microsoft.

From xan at CorrenteWire.
Damn right. I’m at least as pretentious as any of those tech and photo and whateverthehell bloggers are. And on top of it I’m the one who, by sheer force of my astounding loathing of change and having a whole website dependent on another Microsoft product, has actually stuck with Windows and IE and Outlook and the rest of their crappy line, and defended them in public (well, here anyway) for lo these many years. Suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous Linux and Firefox and Mac user abuse for this sterling show of committment (as in “I should be committed to a laughing academy for continuing to use this junk.”)

Heh. Not that I would ever do anything like that.

On the other hand, if you're reading this, Steve....

Was she or was she not Vesuvius Blue?

She had lived in the airport's remote tow lot, forgotten and ignored, noticed only by the boys who, for 15 years, hurled rocks at her for sport.

Sally Jacobs of the Boston Globe gets a little bit carried away by a 1983 Porsche.

Got a long list of things not done? Is that your problem, Bunky?

Well you can match it up with this list of things folks haven't done in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle. (Some guy named Doug Beauchamp makes the definitive contribution with "Never knowingly paid for sex." Uh huh.)

Me? I've never knowingly been in Iowa.

But there was that one night in Moline....

Ten-food drifts in Denver; storm blows east.

And hopefully blows out. Keep it on your side of the Mississippi, dudes. (I love typing "Mississippi." Every time I type "Mississippi" I sing a little ditty from the 40s - "m i crooked letter crooked letter i...." They had some real lyrics in the 40s, didn't they?)

Meanwhile, it's been a disappointing weekend in Western Mass. Instead of reaching the predicted low 40s (that would be in degrees, not years) it's hovered in the high 30s, cloudily. This morning I had to scrap ice off my windshield in the rain. Actually more like brush off than scrape off - it was some pretty wimpy ice. But the good news for me, given the cost of heating oil this year, is that it's predicted to continue warmish all week, with a high of 50F forecast, as of now, for Saturday. Every week of warm now means bucks in the bank. Temporarily in the bank, of course, but still.

Remember when deregulation was going to save you money on your electric bill?

Well if you live in Illinois you can forget that one now.
ComEd rates will rise because a nine-year rate freeze is ending. Starting in 1997, rates were rolled back 20 percent and frozen as a way to ease the transition for 3.7 million residential and small-business customers to a deregulated electricity market.

Rise? Twenty-four percent. Tomorrow. Or else.
ComEd claims it could go bankrupt if it's not allowed to recover the new, higher costs of power. It says a continued rate freeze could lead to brownouts, slower repairs, layoffs and a downturn in the state's economy.

So get those Christmas lights turned off, says the Chicago Sun-Times.

Brain say "hair of the dog"? Brain disagrees.

Marshall Brain, the guy who created HowStuffWorks.com that is, disagrees. Quoted in the Boston Globe this morning, Brain says there's no known cure for a hangover but...
“Millions (of people) will be getting hangovers. You might as well know what is making you feel bad."

What's making you feel bad? Mike Royko, the legendary Chicago columnist and writer, connoisseur of ribs, member of the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame, and prominent hangover researcher (he traditionally devoted a column to his studies every January 1) had it pegged:
"Defining a hangover is simple: It is nature's way of telling you that you got drunk. I've never understood why nature goes to the bother, since millions of wives pass on the information."

Royko would agree with Brain - there's no known cure - but...
"Moaning helps. It doesn't ease the pain, but it lets you know that someone cares, even if it is only you. Moaning also lets you know that you are still alive."

So there you have it. It's a New Year, maybe you've noticed.



DOOFUS believes every life is precious, spokesbimbo says.

"The president believes that every life is precious and grieves for each one that is lost," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "He will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain."

Oh come on, Scotty, give us a break. Surely you can come up with something better than that.

55,000 now?

No reason among "hyperventilating left-liberals," NYTimes columnist claims.

In the Times' Dec. 30 issue "Globalist" columist Roger Cohen huffs...
Much of the left, in both Europe and the United States, is so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases, it seems to have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein.

Yeah, well, nice try, Roger, but "it seems" just won't cut it here. Let's have one - just one, I'm asking for here - name and citation from a leftie who's "forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein. Hyperventilating or no. Just breathing is fine with me.

As Jane Hamsher points out in her discussion of Roger's rant, here at Firedoglake, Cohen's claim picks up a popular Bushco-minion theme, "we were right to be wrong."

And more, it picks up on a rhetorical device much favored in wingnut circles - floating over-inflated, gas-filled bogeymen and hysterically shooting them down. "Liberals hate Christmas." "Liberals love illegals." "Liberals want to kill all the babies." "Liberals want to ruin your marriage." And the most bloated of all, "Liberals hate America."

Now don't get all excited here, Bunky. Don't hyperventilate. You're right if you say some of the moonbats do too. But try reading a few issues of William Kristol's Weekly Standard some day - just about every article leads off with that device. Try listening to Malkin or Coulter, O'Reilly or Limbaugh. (And no, no links. Go find them for yourself.) Oh yeah, it's a wingnut thing, alright. Wingnuts are assholes.

(See what I mean?)

For your New Year's viewing pleasure...

Yet Another Media Empire presents...
Times Square.

In Canada and Europe, squirrels smarter than trees.

Here, we're just happy when our politicians are.
"The squirrels obviously figured out a cue," Dr. Buton said.

Whatever that clue is, it allows the squirrels to adjust their reproductive rate in anticipation of available food, reports All Headline News.

Vote for an honest vote.

At BlackBoxVoting.org Bev Harris and a great many others have been working hard since 2004 to investigate and document the critical, potentially fatal flaws in the US election system. There's a detailed account of the organization's activities in the organization's online press kit here.

Now they need your help in bringing the results of their work before Congress and petitioning for reforms in the laws governing US elections. The petition, entitled "Request by Voters," is available for review in a web-page version here and in pdf form here. Read it.

And join the effort. This is a non-partisan issue, and there is none greater facing America. If our elections fail, we fail. Honest and fair elections are the bedrock of democracy.

Visit the web page or download the pdf to read the petition and follow the simple instructions included there to join the effort. Help make 2007 a happy new year for us all.

Barry's back with a year-end review...

On a happier note, the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System -- an engineering marvel consisting of 47,000 miles of high-speed roads connecting 157,000 Waffle Houses. A formal ceremony is planned, but has to be canceled when Dad refuses to stop.

...which is, as usual, worth a read.

Final: The 2006 Darwin Awards

(August 2006, Brazil) August brings us a winner from Brazil, who tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving back and forth over it with a car. This technique was ineffective, so he escalated to pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer.

And more. So much more.

And lest we forget, we are sure to be reminded. As often as possible. At least for the next two years.

"It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely though a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe," said Cheney, speaking in the Capitol Rotunda where Ford's body rested in a flag-draped casket. "Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon."


Against all odds, nuggets of real information discovered.

This thanks to Christian Century and the heads-up journalism of Sam Smith at Progressive Review.
...Ellison [the Muslim representative-elect from Minnesota who raised a ruckus in certain quarters by saying he intended to take his oath on the Qur'an] would not be the first member of Congress to forgo a Bible at the swearing-in ceremony. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) took her oath in 2005 on a Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, which she borrowed from Representative Gary Ackerman (D., N.Y.) after learning a few hours earlier that the speaker of the House didn't have any Jewish holy books. . .

Also governors of Hawaii and Vermont, and four US presidents. And in point of fact...
House members are sworn in together on the House floor in a ceremony without any book, holy or otherwise. But in an unofficial ceremony, individual members reenact an oath-taking so that it can be photographed - a tradition dating from the beginning of the wide use of photography.


What a great word! Coined back in the early 50s by one Milton A. Smith, an assistant general counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce, it's meant to describe the sort of bureaucratic language that obscures any hope of understanding - or, as Smith himself put it...
"multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies."

The word survived (I'll just have to take the surviving part on faith, never having run across it myself til now), according to Michael Quinion, writing at World Wide Words, due to its "plosive consonants."

But of course you could see that right away.

(Thanks, e.)

Betting the ranch, hoping for a lucky draw, remembering Gerry Ford.

And we're not talking about betting just his own ranch here. Oh no. Yours too.

Writing at HuffPo Larry Beinhart explains in a piece called "2007 - Year of Madness."

Getting Saddam was going to be Bush's jackpot....

He used all the political capital he'd acquired from 9/11. Plus he gave up on Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Afghanistan. He told lies about why we went to war. He violated the basics of international law. He alienated our allies. If he won, all that would be forgotten and forgiven. Worth the price. Proof of his daring manliness. Success erases more sins than being born again ever will. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

But he lost.

Can he get up and walk away from the table?


He will double down, says Beinhart: the war will go on. And I think Beinhart's right. In fact I think it's been apparent for quite some time.

Even if the war remains a quagmire, death and destruction with no end in sight, Bush - personally - is better off. American service men and women, Americans who are paying the bills, Iraqis, and the rest of the world, may not be. But he's better off. Because that will force someone else to pull the plug. Bush will then maintain that had we just stuck to it, it would have succeeded eventually. He will then hire an army of payable pundits and whorish historians to churn out books and papers to say so. That's what the half billion dollar presidential library is for.

And, of course the Pardon, "healing our national nightmare" or whatever the line is now. You remember. Like Gerry Ford did.

Good old Gerry Ford.

Gerry Ford, you will recall, is the guy who pulled the plug on Vietnam, a war that has lived on in "conservative" legend as one that would have been won if we'd only gone farther and stayed longer, a war that was only lost because of "the press" and those damn tree-hugging hippies and Jane Fonda, not because it was the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place - a bad bet too. And that one was one conducted in large part by Democrats - JFK and LBJ - and the Rs have never been able to really walk away from it either. Imagine Iraq.

Which is why, I predict, the Democrats will not really stand up to the Bushies on Iraq until and unless they win the White House in '08. And even then they will only stop it, not end it, unless and until Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Rice are prosecuted. Put in the dock. Given the kind of fair trial they themselves claim to be so fond of, for their roles in this disastrous misadventure.

Forgiving and forgetting just won't cut it here. This one needs a stake through its heart.