Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year, Part 2


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, may 2008 be a better year than 2007 was.
The second half of 2007 saw violence drop dramatically in Iraq, but the progress came at a high price: The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed.
Of course,
American commanders and diplomats ... say the battlefield gains against insurgents such as al-Qaida in Iraq offer only a partial picture of where the country stands as the war moves toward its five-year mark in March.
The AP doesn't note that these "American commanders and diplomats"—an apparent reference to Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus—are hand-picked Bush loyalists who can't be expected to do anything other than to toe the party line.

The AP can try to spin this story as positively as it wants, but it can't downplay this futile tragedy to 899 American families.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy New Year, Part 1


I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, December 27, 2007



Oh my God. Bhutto has been assassinated.

Justice Triumphs


I've been writing to my Congressman, Joe Courtney, about this issue for the last several weeks, and even though he assured me in an e-mail that there was absolutely nothing he could do about it, the NFL will actually show the Patriots-Giants game to all of America this Saturday evening.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement after the league announced it was reversing course. "What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever."

NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky said officials would have no further comment Wednesday.
In this somewhat surly comment, one can almost almost see the avarice dripping from the lips of Commissioner Goodell.

The truth of the matter is that the NFL already has everything it could ever want. It's got incredible tv deals with no fewer than four television networks, but apparently for the rapacious NFL, this isn't enough. No, a fifth network had to be created so that it can get squeeze even more money from ravenous fans.

It's no surprise that Chris Collinsworth (who will announce the game Saturday night with Bryant Gumbel—give me strength) stated yesterday,
"I have to tell you honestly it really surprises me and I'm kind of proud of the NFL that they stepped up and made this game available to everybody. I really thought that they would continue to use this as a major sort of power negotiating chip with what was going on in these negotiations."
Mr. Collinsworth tells more about his employer than perhaps he wished to divulge.

Anyway, after telling Congressman Courtney of my concern on this issue, he finally let me know that he was on the case and was, in fact, flexing his legislative muscles to bring the game to Connecticut. I let him know that while I appreciated his efforts, I felt he'd been less than forthright with me by indicating initially there was nothing he could do about the situation. (In fact, his insistence that "Connecticut's tens of thousands of football fans have access to the game" is pretty much verbatim a phrase I used in a message to him.) And it appears that Pat Leahy (who must be a Pats fan) and the chameleon, Arlen Spector, were really the legislative big guns that got the game televised on through-the-air channels.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pre Fan-Hitting


I'd just like to go on the record before we get a big list of cheaters from George Mitchell in a couple hours, that I don't really care what it means in terms of individual records or the accomplishments of teams that may have had steroid users on them.

I'd still like to know who was cheating for sure, but so many players who were using steroids will be left off this list, that we still can't separate the innocent from the guilty.

And with so many players using performance enhancers, on one hand it doesn't really impact what I think of players' accomplishments, but of course in history this era needs to be judged in a different way than those before and after it.

I wanted to get that on the table...if David Ortiz was a user, I won't be willing to say it tarnishes 2004, just as if Mike Mussina or Aaron Boone was a user, it doesn't mean I think the Sox should have been awarded the 2003 AL crown.

Besides, if everyone thought that, then Mr. Jason "2 homers in game 7 which went to extra innings" Giambi would have already made that case.

Let the media outrage begin! It's like early Christmas!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

No reading!


Needless to say, I'm always amused when religious fanatics get their dander up over some supposed slight, and The Golden Compass controversy is no exception.

It seems that Roman Catholic officials are
urging parents not to let children see [The Golden Compass, arguing that] it will encourage children to read the “His Dark Materials” trilogy of books by Philip Pullman.
The problem, as the authoritarians see it, isn't with the movie itself—after all, the movie has been expurgated to the point where its theme has nothing to do with the book. No, the problem is that inquisitive minds might want to know exactly what, for example, The Magisterium represents, and that can be found only if they read Pullman's opus.

Lest we forget, within the last two centuries it was against the law for slaves in the US to learn to read. The rationale was that they might become—horrors!—independent thinkers and realize that there was more to life than the commands being spouted by their masters. Some groups don't seem to have come very far from that benighted position.

This week's lowlight


Every time one thinks that our feckless leader can't demonstrate any more incompetence or mendacity than he already has, something new comes up. Such has been the case with both the recent NIE debacle and CIA destruction of evidence.

In both instances, the explanation of Gorgeous George's apparent collusion is that he simply didn't know what was going on. The destroyed videos episode is probably as emblematic as any since he's already admitted that he didn't know of their destruction until this week! It goes without saying that, given the entire Abu Ghraib incident and Congress's recent rumblings about oversight when it comes to interrogation techniques, he might have wanted to pay a little attention to such matters, but such—as he tells it—wasn't the case.

Of course, various Congressional Dems don't look too good in this either, but people like Jay Rockefeller simply don't care about salient issues. In Rockefeller's case, he's much more concerned about looking after his billions; he's apparently willing to go along with any policy that comes from the White House. In this instance, he decided to ride the wrong horse.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No Nukes, cont'd


It seems our feckless leader felt it was necessary to explain the NIE on Iran today. His explanation? He didn't know anything about it, and, anyway, it doesn't change anything. That's the GI George we've come to know and loathe: someone who's never let facts get in the way of his ideology.

Reasonable reactions to this implausible explanation can be found here and here and here.

Just another day in the Fantasyland that the Executive Branch has become.

And we've still got 412 days left of this nonsense.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Iran: No Nukes


The latest National Intelligence Estimate is out, and is it ever a whopper. The bottom line: In the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program and hadn't restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007. And what were the Bushies doing during all that time—when they knew that this was the case? Just repeatedly calling for war because of big bad Iran's weapons of mass destruction. Iran was quite clear in what it wanted: In exchange for stopping a nuclear arms program, it wanted to be let alone to develop a nuclear energy program. The Bushies, of course, would have none of it lest—to use the Secretary of State's deathless hysterical phrase—a smoking gun become a mushroom cloud.

I suppose we've all passed the point where we might expect just a smidgen of sanity from the Bushies, but this is still—as Matt Yglesias says—pretty outrageous.

Now, of course, the Bushies are turning themselves inside out trying to explain that Iran can too develop nukes, so the American public should continue to be afraid, be verrrry afraid.

I'll be interested to know how Senator Sanctimony will react to all this given his track record on the issue. On second thought, I think I can predict pretty much where he'll land.