Just passing this along for the record here.

Boxer to Rice:
“Now, the issue is who pays the price. Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families. And I just want to bring us back to that fact.”


Listen...what's that enormous slurping sound?

FEMA was unable to fully support the accuracy and completeness of certain unpaid obligations, and accounts payable, and the related effects on net position, if any, prior to the completion of DHS’s 2006 PAR. These unpaid obligations, as reported in the accompanying DHS balance sheet as of September 30, 2006, were $22.3 Billion or 46% of DHS consolidated unexpended appropriations at September 30, 2006. [emphasis mine]

To give some idea of proportionality, in fiscal year 2005 the entire Grants and Training (formerly know as State and Local Government Preparedness, a/k/a grants to get working radios for NYC firemen and protection for bridges, tunnels, chemical plants and nuclear facilities) was only $171 million.

So, follow me here, FEMA has lost and/or failed to account for a sum of money that is almost half of DHS’s entire budget and 130 times greater than the amount of money that the Department of Homeland Security is willing to spend to secure the homeland.

And, alas, much much more. (Firedoglake)

Oh oh. No more prayers answered in Indiana.

“I don’t really like having a pre-approved prayer because it doesn’t allow us the freedom of speech we deserve,” said Rep. Mike Ripley, a Republican from Monroe. “Some people believe to have your prayers answered you have to invoke Jesus Christ, and that can’t be done now.”


That "democracy" stuff, that's for those Iraqi dudes.

"Do you believe as Commander in Chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do," 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley asks Bush in the short clip uploaded to the CBS News web site Friday night.

"I think I've got, in this situation, I do, yeah," Bush said.

"Now I fully understand they will," Bush continued, "they could try to stop me from doing it, but, uh, I've made my decision and we're going forward.


But did it cure the headache, is the thing.

A woman who was admitted to hospital with a migraine had her stay extended when a TV fell on her head.


Controversy equalizes the foolish and the wise, and the fools know it.*

School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a "credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented," that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an "opposing view."

(Seattle PI)

*And no, not me - Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Because if Big Pharma profits go down the terrorists win.

'If this bill is presented to the president, he will veto it,' [White House mouthpiece Tony Snowjob] said Friday."
The evil bill in question requires the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare participants.

Yeah, like those codgers need a break or something.

(Shakespeare's Sister)

Here's an idea: why don't we get somebody who knows?

"I think one of the reasons you keep hearing about Iran is because we keep finding their stuff in Iraq," [Gen. Peter] Pace said.

I don't know, it's just a thought.

And anyway, I am happy somebody's thinking. Don't get me wrong about that.


Laugh and the world says whaaaaat?

CHICAGO—Scientists have long been labeled as overly serious, narrowly focused individuals who don't have time for fun. But two University of Chicago atomic physicists proved that even the most buttoned-down professionals are capable of enjoying a good laugh every now and then. Last week, Drs. Marcus Hurley and Thom Fredericks unveiled what they are calling their "most hilarious work to date": an oversize novelty atom that measures "a ridiculously huge" 8.2 x 10-10 meters in diameter.

(The Onion)

More from the Secretary of...

"no expert on military matters"

...wait...Defense. Defense? Am I reading that right?


Oh oh.


Mr. Gates said he would “pass the message to the president,” but that Mr. Bush is confident that he has the authority to do what he said he would do. Besides, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Bush is willing to take unpopular actions “because he has a longer view.”

738 days longer, in fact.

No, wait...

My fellow Americans, we live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. We see mindless attacks on all the great institutions which have been created by free civilizations in the last 500 years. Even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed....

If, when the chips are down, the world's most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.

...that's not DOOFUS. That's Nixon's Cambodia speech, April 30, 1970.

Whew. For a minute there....

(And thanks to the Sideshow.)


Don't see much of that anymore.

Dr. S at Suburban Guerilla asks "Where's the pep?" over Bushco's escalation.

There used to be a breakfast cereal called Pep. Mercifully, it seems to have disappeared too.

What is this, nostalgia day or something?

And you thought it didn't rock in the 50s, huh?

Oh yeah. I bet you did.

OK, so I feel a little bit better now.

In Minnesota, the temperature dropped to 24 below zero around dawn Friday in Hallock, in the state's northwestern corner, the National Weather Service said. Winds up to 25 mph made it feel closer to 40 below zero in much of western Minnesota.

Sorta puts the 10º high they're forecasting here for Tuesday in perspective. Still, 10 sounds a whole lot chillier than the 40ish temps we've been seeing in these parts so far. I guess that'll teach me not to put off the oil change.

The good news is it'll give me an excuse to wear my big new winter jacket, which I practically stole last year (the price was marked down 80%) from a store that couldn't unload it, it being warm here last winter too.

And anyway, by next Tuesday there'll be only 9 weeks left until Spring.

New! Improved! Much, much longer! Surge™!

It was over before it began. What, miss that? Yeah me too.

But here at HuffPo Adam Green tracks the trajectory...
Between November 19 and November 22, there was a series of leaks by "senior officials" to the press - linking a possible "surge" to the concept of "short-term."

"Short-term surge," reported the New York Times and MSNBC. "Short period," reported the Washington Post. "Temporary surge," reported the Christian Science Monitor. ABC's Jonathan Karl even reported a "temporary surge of no more than 60 days."

Up...and down.
On January 9, in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, McCain wrote: "The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces."

And. Plop.
On January 10, hours before Bush's big speech, the New York Times reported, "Mr. Snow last night said that the president would not be using the word 'surge' in his speech, adding that it implied what he called a 'rush hour' approach to a serious policy."

Indeed. Whaddaya mean, "rush"? "Two or three years" is the last we've heard from the new(est) US operational commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.

DOOFUS runs out the clock.

All that glitters ain't.



Anyone who wants to talk knowledgably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone." It’s like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?

(Working for Change)

YAME Seattle Bureau buried...or, well, snowed upon at least.

This just in.

What, you can't take your squirrels on a plane?

A man was caught after he tried to make his way through Hong Kong airport with a crocodile, six snakes, 11 flying squirrels and 46 turtles and tortoises in his case.

Not even if they're flying squirrels?

Rice nails the Bushco problem in Iraq.

"We cannot afford to fail."

And she's right. No matter how many things get blown up, no matter how many die, they can't afford to fail.

And that's what last night's speech was about. By claiming the most extreme option on Iraq the DOOFUS nailed down his right to say forever "it would have worked if you'd only done it my way." The mistake he "admitted to" was not having done that sooner.

Because whatever goes wrong from here on in will be the Iraqis' fault, the terrorists' fault, the UN's fault, the Congress' fault, the Democrats' fault - or your fault, Bunky, for being such a wuss.

Count on it.

Next time you hear the blabberbimbos blubber...

...about somebody attacking one of our embassies somewhere you might want to remember this...
Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. forces in Iraq raided Iran's consulate in the northern city of Arbil and detained five staff members, a state-run Iranian news service said.

They're sort of part of the family in fact.

In comments overheard on an open microphone between morning television interviews, including one with Fox, [Condi Rice] said: "My Fox guys, I love every single one of them."

(Reuters via Raw)

Ooops, guess they were just mopes after all.

The US air strike on Somalia failed to kill any of the three top al-Qaida members accused of terror attacks in east Africa.

A senior US official said today that Sunday night’s attack had killed between eight and 10 “al-Qaida affiliates” near the southern tip of Somalia.


But not just any mopes. Affiliated mopes. There's a difference.

(That would be a good name for a blog, wouldn't it? Affiliated Mopes?)

Faith-based war.

Pressed on why he thought this strategy would succeed where previous efforts had failed, Mr. Bush shot back: “Because it has to.”

Has to?
“I said to Maliki this has to work or you’re out,” the president told the Congressional leaders, according to two officials who were in the room.



A lot of wishful thinking and a very funny smell.

"Patriot air defense systems"? Dude, you can't stop roadside bombs and RPGs with Patriot missiles. Reassuring our friends and allies? Of, exactly, what?

Another carrier group I can sort of understand: more bombs over Baghdad is what that means. Or, of course, Tehran. The DOOFUS had to sneak that old nasty Iran in there. Just mentioning. That's all.

Well maybe that's where the "strategy" comes in, Iran, because the rest was all tactics as far as I can see. Move out of the big forts into, well, smaller forts. Get rid of all those pesky rules. Share the oil revenues, after Big Oil gets its 75%. And - here's my personal fave - stiffen the Iraqis spines.

No, no, I'm not off on a long rant here. There are plenty of other people to do that - I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the show. Although, now that I think of it, before we send more billions for "reconstruction" would it be fair to ask where the other billions went? Or is that a secret, like the bunker visitor logs (a note from e)?

Oh no, there are plenty of other things to worry about this morning. Like, why is it 14º out there? Has it turned into winter or something, all of a sudden? (It snowed here Tuesday night, BTW, but before I could get outside to take a picture it had all melted away.)

And Canadian coins. What's with the Canadian coins? Spy passports, now that makes sense, but spy coins? Oh that's low.


Blowing off Afghanistan?

"The gains we have made over the past few years are mostly gone," said a bearded Special Operations officer, fresh in from advising Afghan army units in battle with 600 to 700 well-equipped Taliban fighters.

(Washington Monthly)

OK maybe she thinks I'm crazy, I don't know.

But hey. Seemed like a fair question to me. She was wearing a name badge that said "Beauty Advisor." So what if I'm already too beautiful to help, I can't help that. It's not my fault.

And it was 30 bucks at the grocery store today, what's up with that? Sure I bought some sparegrass and a really small pie - a little excessive there, I guess - but still.

Meanwhile I've been reading the blogs. It's sort of like watching a train wreck in slow motion, with effects. Michael "Savage" calls Nancy Pelosi a weasel, a harridan, and a lying little witch (Media Matters); some anchorbimbette at Faux calls Teddy Kennedy a "hostile enemy" (Think Progress); a wacko named Dinesh D'Souza blames 9/11 on Hollywood and "the nonprofit sector" and their ilk (Firedoglake); the DOOFUS plans to stamp his little feet and tell us we can't take his car keys away. Which we had better do. And soon.

It's a strawberry-rhubarb pie. So at least that's good.

"Some people think we're nuts."

NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters Life!) - Home renovators looking to bring life to the smallest room in their home now have the chance -- with a toilet that doubles as an aquarium.
I don't know. Somehow this puts me in mind of a conversation I had once with a stewardess, about a half century ago (that would be right after they invented the wing but before they discovered fire), who told me - the stew did - about an older woman on one of her flights one day who went into the aircraft's toilet then re-emerged to complain the window had no blind.

I wonder if the fish tank comes with a cover.

Because we may have shot him.

Al-Qaida chief in Somalia may be dead

Or then again he may have been just some poor mope out for a walk. But what kind of headline would that make - "US guns down poor mope"? Naww, won't work. Let's go with "Al-Qaida chief." Sounds more like something John Wayne might do.

When all else fails, 9/11.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said Monday that Bush "understands there is a lot of public anxiety" about the war. On the other hand, he said that Americans "don't want another Sept. 11" type of terrorist attack and that it is wiser to confront terrorists overseas in Iraq and other battlegrounds rather than in the United States.


"Americans" can just go drink the Kool-Aid pop some Prozac.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to spread the 9/11 joy, DOOFUS puts US troops on the ground in Somalia, dispatches stealth fighters to South Korea, attempts to torpedo Iranian oil industry (thereby making Iran's claim to need nuclear energy all the more plausible, seems to me). If little wars are good, big wars are to die for. "Go massive," DRummy said. Might need 9/12, 13, and 14 too.

And does anybody remember Afghanistan?

Kennedy stands up.

MIT's OpenCourseWare: Setting knowledge free.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is embarked on a project to publish all that institution's course materials on the web, under Creative Commons license, by the end of this year. A large number of courses are already available. Look.

These aren't "online classes." They don't include access to MIT staff, earn credits or grades. But as study guides they should prove invaluable to a whole lot of people and the generous Creative Commons license (Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike) allows using the materials as building blocks in other projects.

An American History course I downloaded consisted of a syllabus and reading list, assignments (write two papers), and list of collateral materials. Other courses include lecture notes and video lectures; some may require special software. Graduate as well as undergraduate courses are in the mix.

It's an important new resource - with more on the way - and an all-too-rare exception to the current trend toward making information property.

Good on you, MIT.


Santorum to think.

Now if that's not news, I don't know what is.

Santorum is Ricky ("Rooster") Santorum, the former congresscritter from Pennsylvania, and what he's planning to think about are all those creepy, scary things that hide in his closet when the lights go out - he knows they're in there - or, to put it in a somewhat thinkier way...
"threats posed to America and the West from a growing array of anti-Western forces that are increasingly casting a shadow over our future and violating religious liberty around the world," according to a statement from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he will be a senior fellow.

Which sounds a lot better, doesn't it?

Of course "violating religious liberty" is a pretty popular pastime hereabouts, so Ricky's gonna have to think real, real hard. But I'm sure he'll get something thought of before too long.

Why can't they do things at the right time like we do? Is it so hard?

I mean, look. I get home from work about noon wanting to catch all the hot news from the Macworld show today - I'm more interested in the software than the hardware this year but the hardware is always fun to gape at, isn't it? - and of course there's no news yet because they're having the stupid show in San Francisco. And San Francisco is on the west coast. And on the west coast they do everything three hours late.

Come on. I can understand this kind of thing from some place like London. or Prague. You know, foreign. But California? What's with them? Do they have to be so weird?

Let's move it along out there.

Update: Yeah, well (see the comments here), I've tried the Circus Ponies and they're OK but there's another note-organizing product I like better, and I don't really have all that much interest in either (or in the "mind-organizing software," fat chance there). I'm not an organizing kind of guy. And what with Stickies and Google Notebook and a new note-taking addition to Mail, promised for Leopard, the ponies are pretty much a non-starter here.

The new iPhone looks cool and will likely, I'm guessing, achieve iPod-like success, and the "Apple TV" box would be nifty too if I cared to buy myself a big TV, which I don't. I was hoping for more in the software line, myself - I'm expecting some software to turn up in the not too distant future, unannounced. I have a couple of things that sorely need updating. And I'm guessing we won't have to wait until next January to see Leopard (the next major upgrade to OS X).

I went to the east-coast version of Macworld a few times when it was held in Boston. It's great fun - lots of glitzy gizmos and excited people. Reality recedes. So you have to wait a day or two for the world to come back into focus, and then look again.

Gigabucks for war, but safe cargo "undue economic burden."

“Airplane passengers must be assured that any cargo on a passenger jet will not pose a terrorist threat,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who now leads the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “But we must achieve these goals in an efficient manner to allow for the free flow of commerce without placing undue economic burdens on importers or bringing air traffic to a standstill.”

Seaports? Fergidaboutem. In Miami the other day they blew up a box of sprinkler parts destined for a cruise ship because it tested positive for C4 (so did the ship sail with a broken sprinkler system then? Who knows?), which pretty much tells you how shaped up we are in that department.

Cutting taxes is why God gave us plastic, after all.

"The last thing we need to do is to be raising taxes in this country, and 'pay-go' is the first step toward raising taxes," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.


Am I just hallucinating here or was it the R's who always used to yammer about running the government like people managed their personal budgets, not overspending means, yada yada yada? Guess they've changed their minds. Or maybe they never meant it to begin with. Or maybe it's just too early in the morning, I don't know.

Whatever, raising taxes is probably not exactly absolutely the very last thing we should do. I can think of one or two things we should maybe not do more.

The most frightening thing you'll think about today.

But the naked parties are now fixtures among liberal students being primed to become the nation's elite.

Naked liberals!



Calling all warbloggers.

Greenwald has more.

When dopier headlines are written...

...they'll get printed in the Boston Globe.
Advocates propose sex abuse reforms

But wait!

I thought Trickshot Dick was in Pennsylvania.

(CBS 42) AUSTIN Austin police have shut down Congress Ave. from Cesar Chavez St. to 11th St. after finding between 40 and 60 dead birds around 3 a.m. along Congress Ave. between 6th and 8th Streets.

Does he have a double now? Or is he just that good?

In spirit of bipartisanship, White House willing to work with girl.

Pelosi will be considered "an equal leader in government," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters when asked how he views her.

"There are no questions of whether they sit and talk as equals," he added. "I think it's impressive that no one has any questions of whether they can work together regardless of gender."
Even if she doesn't like frogs and worms.

No back rubs, though.

Cool! Designer stun guns!

US stun gun maker Taser is unveiling a sleeker version of its controversial weapon aimed at safety and fashion conscious members of the public.

Woohoo. From now on when somebody says "she's a stunner," I'm outta there.

Was there an old plan?

Meeting American reporters over lunch at a villa in the grounds of one of Mr. Hussein’s former palaces, General Odierno was careful not to divulge details of Mr. Bush’s new war plan, which the president is expected to make public in coming days, perhaps on Wednesday.

Well, yeah, but I'm asking here.
Several other military plans since the fall of Baghdad in 2003 have faltered.

Ah. Faltered. Right.
This time, the general said, American troops would remain in the cleared areas “24/7,” to stiffen Iraqi resolve and build confidence among residents that they would be treated evenhandedly.

So. Stiffening Iraqi resolve. That's different from standing them up?
This so-called surge would constitute an abrupt about-face in American strategy, which has aimed in the past two years for a drawdown of American troops as Iraqi forces take on greater responsibility for the war.

So that'll do it then?
The new American operational commander in Iraq said Sunday that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush’s new war strategy it might take another “two or three years” for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.


The "two or three years" part is just about right. The DOOFUS's "strategy" is to do one of two things: either stall until his term ends and his successor has to pull the plug, or force the D's to drag him, kicking and screaming, away from his precious war. Then he and his cadre of blabbermonkeys will claim we would have "won" if only we'd stayed longer, not quit so soon, and blame the whole thing on Jane Fonda again. More troops die to save Dubya's ass.

Forget Pluto: it's "miserabilist" for me.

Some organization I've never heard of, the 117-year-old American Dialect Society, has anointed "plutoed," meaning demoted or devalued, as "word of the year," the BBC reports (via Raw Story).

All of which leads one on a merry clickchase through a recent (meaning just now) addition to YAME's excellent and expanding Work Avoidance directory (see sidebar), the Double-Tongued Dictionary, to an outstanding, if somewhat belated (or forward-looking, depending on your point of view) Christmas riff by the Scotsman's Paul Stokes, containing another new (to me) and oh-so-much better word, "miserabilist":
Modern Christmas has always been about consumerism. It is more consumerist today simply because we are richer. Is that a bad thing? Our Christmas is not shallow. It is a giant celebration of our success. So go on, don't let the Christians, environmentalists, and all the other miserabilists, make you feel guilty for spending time and money on your loved ones. Eat, drink and be merry. You've earned it. Merry Christmas.

And thence to another example in spiked's "Miserabilist of the Year."


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...no wait...it's a large spying device!

Mississippi ACLU executive Director Nsombi Lambright said she has concerns over privacy issues with a large spying device hovering over the city, whether a government agency or a private company runs it.

Yeah, yeah, retorts prosecutor (wouldn't ya know?) Faye Peterson...
“A defense attorney is likely to dispute anything..."

Actually, it's a plane. A chopper, to be exact.
The vehicle, called Metro One, features an array of high technology and spying devices, such as a 360-degree 18x zoom color camera, video recording, a GPS inflight map, a 20-million candle searchlight and, most notably, an infrared camera that can pick up both biological and mechanical heat signals.

OK, a chopper "vehicle." And...
“We’re always talking about needing more judges, more prosecutors, more jail space, more this, more that. We don’t have the money for that, ladies and gentlemen. What we do have the money for is preventing crime. I think you’re going to be turning on the television and hearing about crimes that were about to happen being stopped,” announced SafeCity director Mark McCreery.

SafeCity? A private company all set to help stamp out crime in Jackson, Mississippi. Before it happens. The crime, that is. Not Jackson. Jackson's already happened, as I recall.

What I'm wondering is, why don't they just lock everybody up and go from there? Because you can be too free, chump, but you can never be too safe.

OK to be cynical; not OK to be flat-out dumb.

A blogger named olvlzl, writing at Echidne of the Snakes this morning, offers an interesting post concerning Barney Frank's recent speech to the National Press Club - and then tacks on this particularly mindless bit of drivel:
Too bad [Franks] comes from the party that hasn’t had any ideas for the past sixty years.

Sixty years? That'd put us back to the end of WWII, wouldn't it?

Let's see. Leaving out Harry Truman (who had a few ideas of his own), among lots of other things...
  • JFK established the Peace Corps and proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He backed an abortive invasion of Cuba and got the US into Vietnam, authorizing the use of napalm, defoliants, and free-fire zones. He funded the Apollo Project and started US astronauts on the way to the moon.
  • Johnson instituted Medicare and Medicaid, backed the Voting Rights Act, and set up the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He conducted a “War on Poverty” and disastrously escalated in Vietnam.
  • Carter’s administration saw the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaty, Salt II, and deregulation of the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries. Carter committed the US to opposing the USSR in Afghanistan and famously failed in an attempt to rescue hostages in Iran.
  • Clinton created AmeriCorps, attempted (and botched) a national health care plan, ended “welfare as we knew it,” proposed NAFTA, and initiated negotiations on GATT. And signed a whole lot of really lousy laws, helping to set the stage for the Bushco debacle.

They might not have all been good ideas - in fact, some of them were notorious stinkers - but they sure as hell were ideas. And the Democratics may have a whole lot to answer for, but saying they’ve had no ideas is neither helpful nor correct.

I don't know but I'm happy to see you anyway.

We had a situation in Scotland where staff were asked, "Is that banana on your desk active or inactive?"

Stupid consultant tricks at the National Insurance offices in Longbenton, North Tyneside.

Nawwww. It does?

Pat Robertson may be the founder of the once-powerful Christian Coalition. He may attract nearly a million viewers a day to his "700 Club" television show. But when he claims to make divine prophecies -- as he did, again, last week -- many evangelicals say he undermines the credibility of their beliefs.

Ya think?

Oh, fine. This is just what we need in the world, isn't it?

More puberty.
What’s going on? Although scientists have yet to prove definitive causes, many suspect that hormone-mimicking chemicals, obesity and stress all contribute to precocious puberty. The chemicals, often called endocrine disruptors, are of particular concern because they’re everywhere -- in food, water, personal-care products, some plastics and many consumer goods.

Hey, kids, thanks for growing up.

The blabber gap.

You've gotta admit (OK, I've got to admit, anyway) no matter it didn't actually mean squat "stay the course" was a pretty good slogan - "help the Iraqis succeed" sucks. Come on, Harry, you've got to do better than that.

Likewise "right to life" versus "choice." Everybody wants a "right to life" but what the hell does "choice" mean, anyway? Chocolate or vanilla? Pie or cake" (You don't see no broccoli there, do you?) And who can argue with "leave no child behind"?

Outside the Comedy Channel the D's just don't blabber like the R's. Somebody's going to have to work on that.

(And yes. I'm putting apostrophes with the D's and R's now because that's what Grammar Girl says and no way am I gonna argue with Grammar Girl too much.)