11.30.2007

Just a thought: Maybe we ought to put somebody else in charge

So here's a story from the LATimes, mostly about how the numbers coming out of Iraq these days, numbers reported by the Iraqi "security forces," might not be entirely - ahem - reliable, which story sort of wanders off at the end to talk about other things including (and thanks to WIIIAI for finding this) this...

In October, for example, the entire command and control system used by Iraqi security forces to communicate with headquarters was shut down for two weeks when the government failed to pay the U.S. contractor that provides the satellite communications.

For those two weeks, U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government received no reports from Iraqi forces in the field.

It'd be nice if we had somebody running things who could remember to pay the phone bill, at least.

Looking a little shaky this year

Like stuck pigs

The Rs are in full-squeal mode over being asked a question by a gay retired general at their little "debate" the other night - a general that has the temerity to offer advise to the Clinton campaign as well, no less - which, when you come to think of it, is a very Republican thing to do, and a good thing too. Squeal, I mean, not ask advice. Whenever they come out looking like goofuses - which, you may have noticed, is increasingly often - their first instinct is to blame it all on somebody else.

Now comes the always-entertaining Pat Buchanan, who charges the general with being gutless for not outing himself while still in service. Ironically, Buchanan's remark came at an event honoring some 12,000 gay service members who did...and got kicked out. But never mind that. The general should have come clean, Buchanan wails, as, presumably, any good and brave Republican would do (listening, Larry?).

Don't get me wrong. I like the rule. Not the gay rule - the question rule. If only people who already agree with them are ever allowed to ask a question of a Republican candidate from here on out, well, that pretty much guarantees they'll lose the election, which is fine by me.

11.29.2007

Blame the CNN

Fred Barnes, the predictably loony-tune editor of the loony-tune Weekly Standard, moans piteously today about the Republibacle last night, calling it "Two Hours of Humiliation" and wanting desperately to blame the whole thing on the CNN. "I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded," he mutters, but can't make that premise stand for even one more sentence. "True, the candidates occasionally contributed" comes next.

Still, Barnes gives it the old Harvard try (do all these wingnuts wind up there?), blubbering...

The most excruciating episode occurred when Cooper allowed a retired general in the audience to drone on with special pleading in favor of allowing gays in the military. This was a setup. The general had asked a question by video, then suddenly appeared in the crowd and got the mike.

Except not quite. That episode (excruciating it was) happens to be the only part of the debate I actually saw. The general didn't "suddenly appear and get the mike." Moderator Anderson Cooper announced before the general's YouTubed question ran that the general was in the audience. And after the candidates (I defer to the Rs on that term) had answered, Cooper asked the general if his question had been answered. The general said no, and explained why.

The exact same thing happened during the CNN-sponsored Democrat debate (a fiasco too - this has not been a vintage year for politics) - that time a preacher, if memory serves.

Barnes' lament sputters to an end with "a CNN-You Tube debate is not a serious forum," sniff, sniff - but some rightie bloggers (nameless here) reportedly profess outrage that the general, it turns out, is serving as an advisor to the Clinton campaign. How can a Democrat be allowed to ask a question at a Republican debate, they wail. I didn't know a person had to be a registered Republican in order to ask a Republican a question.

Anyway it turns out the general, according to himself, is.

Edit: Last YouTube-sponsored debate, I meant to say - the Democratic one - although it might have also involved CNN, I'm not sure.

If you're hot and you're young, who cares if you're pink?


The "grand-design" spiral galaxy, also called NGC 628, has perfectly symmetrical spiral arms containing clusters of young blue stars. The bright pink regions reflect huge, relatively short-lived clouds of ionized hydrogen gas radiating from hot, young stars.

(Space.com)

Stars Gone Wild.

Who knows? Might sell.

Ahhh, those year-olds today

Yunice Kotake, of San Bruno, Calif., recently purchased a Fisher-Price Knows Your Name Dora Cell Phone for her twin year-old daughters. But a few days later, she returned the play phone to a local Toys “R” Us, after she found that the girls seemed to prefer their parents’ actual phones.

“They know what a real cellphone is, and they don’t want a fake one,” Ms. Kotake said.

(NYTimes)

Probably know what a real gun is too.

Whaaaaat?

...Huckabee, when asked how Jesus would feel about the death penalty, responded, “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office”

(NYTimes)
Woohoo! I didn't watch the shindig last night but it sounds like some kinda party! What was that Huckabee guy drinking, anyway? “Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.”? Must have been something really good!

And did somebody really ask them to describe their guns?

Who had the biggest?

Surprise, surprise

WASHINGTON - Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

(AP)

What? You saw that coming? Yeah, it was pretty much a no-brainer, wasn't it.

"Although many of the centers initially had purely counterterrorism goals, for numerous reasons they have increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach," according to a Congressional Research Service report from June...

Most centers are run by state police or other law enforcement agencies. Many also have representatives from a range of other agencies, including fire and public works departments and state gambling regulators...

Arizona's center has representatives from the state's public safety, motor vehicles and liquor control departments....

And guess what.

"States are at different levels because there wasn't the preconceived game-plan on how to do this," said George Foresman, a former undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department who oversaw the awarding of startup money for many of the centers.

Right. No plan.

Or maybe there was a plan. Maybe the plan was to be so freakin' dumb the terrorists would never be able to figure out what we're up to. Or to be so freakin' afraid the terrorists wouldn't have to bother with the terror stuff.

Whatever, there was zero chance the government - any government - would sit on all these bright, shiny toys and a piece of legislation so ill-conceived as the so-called Patriot Act without finding a way to redefine every crime there is - hell, every form of misbehavior - as "terrorism." This is how environmentalists become terrorists - just one example. Check out the wrong book, make a phone call to the wrong person, donate to the wrong charity, you can become a terrorist too.

Of course, there's always a silver lining. Maybe in some happy and not-too-distant future we can label Republicans terrorists, and that would be a good thing right there.

God to president of Oral Roberts U: "You're fired"

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Richard Roberts told students at Oral Roberts University Wednesday that he did not want to resign as president of the scandal-plagued evangelical school, but that he did so because God insisted.

(AP)

11.28.2007

My head hurts

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The commander of U.S. prison camps in Iraq said he wants to cut the number of Iraqis in his custody by around two thirds by the end of 2008 as part of a wider counter-insurgency plan to bring down violence.

(Reuters)

So let me see if I've got this straight. We locked these guys up because they were suspected (by us) of being insurgents, and now we're going to let them out again to reduce violence? OK then!

I still don't get it.

11.27.2007

A mirror here, a mirror there, a little smoke

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to start talks aimed at reaching a full peace deal by the end of 2008.

(BBC)

You know how good those guys are at talking to each other, Dude. It's gotta work.

The longest striptease ever heats up even more

Musharraf prepares to shed army uniform

(Reuters)

Iraq, Iraq forever

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush on Monday signed a deal setting the foundation for a potential long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq, with details to be negotiated over matters that have defined the war debate at home — how many U.S. forces will stay in the country, and for how long.

The agreement between Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirms that the United States and Iraq will hash out an "enduring" relationship in military, economic and political terms. Details of that relationship will be negotiated in 2008, with a completion goal of July, when the U.S. intends to finish withdrawing the five combat brigades sent in 2007 as part of the troop buildup that has helped curb sectarian violence.

"What U.S. troops are doing, how many troops are required to do that, are bases required, which partners will join them — all these things are on the negotiating table," said Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, President Bush's adviser on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(AP)
The bottom line here: US troops will be used to prop up the puppet government. Don't believe that?

"The basic message here should be clear: Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own; that's very good news, but it won't have to stand alone," said Lute, who rarely holds televised briefings.
Yep, same General Lute, same story.

Because we're so good at propping up unpopular governments.

As long as I'm enthusing about Apple today, this just in from our Midwest Bureau

Click the image for a bigger, easier to read (yeah, I said read) view.

(Go M.)

Go Apple, oh yeah

So I've had this old iMac in the back room all summer, out of action with a bad CD drive. (Well, not completely out of action but out of CD action, which is a semi-bad thing.) I'd been meaning to take it in for repairs - it's still got a couple of months to go on its extended warrantee (Applecare) - but dreading the trip to the nearest repair place which is 20 miles away in a busy part of a nearby town, with no convenient parking at hand. And it's a heavy box to haul.

So then one day last week I think. Once in a while that happens. And what I think is, hey, Apple has a DIY program now. So I log on to the web site and sure enough, this part's covered, and I order one. That was Friday. The part arrives on Monday. (I think it was shipped overnight but it was a two-day weekend night.) Inside the box is the new part, a special tool, and an instruction book with a photo for every step.

This afternoon I do the deed. Since everything inside a flat-panel iMac is modular to begin with it's simple. Undo three case screws and four screws inside, pop the old part out and the new one in, put all the screws back in place, boot. Twenty minutes start to finish, tops.

The old part's in the box. All I have to do now is tape the box shut, yank off the mailing label to reveal the return label, and call DHL. Thanks to the Applecare, the whole thing's free.

Maybe I'm just easy to impress but that seems pretty awesome to me.

Oughta be careful tossing around those "M" words, "Mitt"

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

(Christian Science Monitor)

"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

(Article VI)

This guy "Mitt" is a dope.

(Me)

Looking out for your tax dollars...

...but not, necessarily, theirs...

From the Sacramento Bee via Cab Drollery:

In California, records show that [Medicare] auditors routinely rejected bills (up to 90%) from those rehabilitation hospitals providing services to those who'd had total knee or total hip replacements. As a result, several of those hospitals have closed or are about to.

From the NYTimes:

Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.

At least in the California case, audits were conducted by private contractors who were paid a percentage of the money they recovered.

11.26.2007

And you thought the French were wimps

Antoine di Zazzo, a Taser representative in France boasts he's been stunned more than 50 times and it didn't cause "real pain." He's also tasered France's far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and convinced French President Nicolas Sarkozy of the stun gun's benefit. Sarkozy promised to buy one for all 300,000 French policemen and gendarmes.

(TalkLeft)

Bah

I guess I bought some flavored coffee by mistake. They were out of my regular brand. I don't get it with flavored coffee. What's wrong with the flavor it already has? I like the way coffee tastes. Why would I want it to taste like whatever it is this stuff tastes like? I have no idea.

Same for potato chips.