Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Apparently the White House has hired a new pastry chef, William Yosses. Yosses has a distinguished pedigree, having worked with some of the hottest chefs around, such as Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

But Yosses has another claim to fame: he is also the co-author of Dessert for Dummies. (h/t Chris Weigant at HuffPo)

I think it sounds like a wonderful hire. Now then: can we see about hiring the authors of "Desert for Dummies?" Oh. I guess we tried that.

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Friday afternoon man-crush

Why I Love Charles Pierce:

Is it that hard for people there to realize that the country wants out of Iraq now? It is not a "divisive issue," except in the sense that it's divided the Avignon Presidency from its nominal employers. It is no longer even a serious debate beyond the various green rooms.
From where I sit, Chuck Hagel and Russ Feingold seem to be the only two people who understand this. Certainly, none of the announced presidential candidates do. Nuance away, you Circus of the Stars, you. By next Labor Day, any position other than Out Now is going to be a non-starter.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I routinely see cars and trucks (mostly trucks) that sport license plate frames or stickers or miniature flags of the Confederacy.

How is that even remotely acceptable in 2007? Why not a bumper sticker that says "Honk if you hate black people"? Or "My child is an honor student - but also a little racist in training."

And I'm not listening to any argument that says that it's a cultural relic that doesn't mean what you think it blahblahblah. Everyone knows what it means.
Glenn Greenwald:
[I]t is now the solemn duty of every patriotic American, especially those in Congress, to refrain from voicing any objections to the decision made by the Leader and the General. We must merely ask ourselves only one question: how can we lend the greatest support possible to our Leader's glorious plans? Everything else should be cleared away quietly and peacefully from our minds.

Dick Cheney has helpfully warned us that the real problem, the real threat is not the brutal sectarian violence, into the middle of which our president wants to send 21,000 American men and women, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons. No.

The real threat is that a debate of the strategy might validate the terrorists' strategy, and make them think we don't have the stomach for the fight.

Ah, of course. I am sure that terrorists are watching "Hardball" and saying, "See? It's working!" Quick, flip over to the "Situation Room!"

One of Glenn's commenters retrieves a wonderful quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

Friday, January 19, 2007


OKay, I swear I'll stop after this. From Atrios:

Chinese, Rice
From the WaPo article on Rice's peace-making trip to the Middle East:
At one point, Rice said that the difficult circumstances in the Middle East could represent opportunity. "I don't read Chinese but I am told that the Chinese character for crisis is wei-ji, which means both danger and opportunity," she said in Riyadh. "And I think that states it very well. We'll try to maximize the opportunity."

But Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, has written on the Web site http://pinyin.info/, a guide to the Chinese language, that "a whole industry of pundits and therapists has grown up around this one grossly
inaccurate formulation." He said the character "ji" actually means "incipient moment" or a "crucial point." Thus, he said, a wei-ji "is indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry."

I cite this not to criticize Rice - this "crisistunity" interpretation for the meaning of "wei-ji" has been around for ages. I cite this because I studied Chinese at Penn, and I knew Dr. Mair, though I didn't take any classes with him. (In fact he's a key reason why I wasn't a Chinese major.)

And personally, I always translated it differently:

"Wei," means crisis or danger; "ji" means "man, are you ever fucked."

Stephen Colbert is chili. Rich Little is pudding. (Update below.)

WHCA says it didn't tell Rich Little to back off of the President and Iraq at the Correspendents' Dinner.

That's because it's not necessary. Rich Little understands what is expected of him.

Little said organizers of the event made it clear they don't want a repeat of last year's controversial appearance by Stephen Colbert, whose searing satire of President Bush and the White House press corps fell flat and apparently touched too many nerves.

"They got a lot of letters," Little said Tuesday. "I won't even mention the word 'Iraq.'"

Well, that's a relief! I was afraid we'd get the no-holds-barred, in-your-face Rich Little. Whew!

Steve Scully, the President of the WHCA, says that was never a concern, and that the WHCA had asked for no special limits.

Well of course not. That's why you call Rich Little. The money quote:

"When I called Rich Little, I said 'I want your brand of humor,'" Scully told E&P.


"Stephen Colbert is very sophisticated and if you've not seen his show you may not get it." With Little, he added, "you don't have to explain his humor."

When you have a sensitive stomach, you don't order (delicious!) vegetarian chili. Or at least you don't order it again.

Have a nice bowl of pudding instead.

Update: As was pointed out by Tom Tomorrow, this is nothing new, nor is it unique to Republicans.

In 1998, the headliner was Ray Romano, whose opener was that he said he knew nothing about politics, so they offered to double his fee. (Heh heh.) Given what Bill Clinton was in the midst of at the time, it's understandable that Bill and Hillary weren't eager to expose themselves to the slings and arrows of, say, Dennis Miller.

To paraphrase Chris Rock: I'm not saying I would have picked Rich Little, but I understand why they did.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The team that scores the most points will probably win...

Perhaps Coni has a future in sports announcing, because she dropped this gem during her trip to Berlin...

"There is no doubt there could be a very important effect on the entire region if we are able to make progress on Middle East peace," Rice said.

"the entire region" was referring to the Middle East.

On a side note, she also remarked that Mamoud Abbas showed "great athletisicm" and that she felt the Israelis "played the game the right way."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Let me say this about that...

Last year's headliner at the Annual White House Correspondents' Dinner was Stephen Colbert. He delivered one of the most devastating, brilliantly satirical speeches that I have ever seen. In a very unreceptive room, Colbert delivered it fearlessly, never flinching, never resorting to "saver" lines. It was a performance that deserves to be remembered and replayed for years, and I think as the context becomes more apparent with the passage of time, it will come to be regarded as even more remarkable.

The President and his retinue were obviously not thrilled to have to sit, tight lipped and tight-assed, through Colbert's schtick. It was a major embarrassment to the White House, and by extension, to the White House Correspondents' Association. Woe unto them if that should happen again.

So who should they get to follow Colbert's act? Evidently, the answer is... Rich Little.

And that feels about right.

Don't fund the troops - easier said than done?

Much of the talk on the left right now is that the Dems in Congress should step up and cut off funding for the troops, or at the very least to the new troops sent as part of the surge. Just about everything I've read posits that the Dems could in fact shut down funding and that the only reason they likely won't do so is because they're scared of being labeled "against the troops."

I don't get that line of argument. First, I'm sure there is indeed some political fear about being labeled against the troops, I buy that part. But the other aspect of it would seem to be that the Dems couldn't make that happen if they wanted to. One possible way would be to pass a funding bill that cut funding dramatically or didn't include funding for new troops. But they don't have the supermajority needed to break up a filibuster. And they don't have the supermajority needed to overturn a veto (although using the veto in this case would be tricky and may not apply). And they probably don't even have the votes in the Senate to do that, given the non-voting status of one Senator currently and the fact that at least one Dem would not agree with that strategy (as is their right as a duly elected official, whether we agree or not).

So their other option would be to passively cut off funding, simply don't pass any more extensions of funding to the troops in Iraq. I think that approach lacks support not just for the "political fear" reasoning, but also because to bluntly cut off funding for troops already in the field is a wildly over-reaching mechanism, one that seems unwise and which seems to me to fly in the face of Constitutional division of powers (yes, Bush has violated these divisions repeatedly, but two wrongs...). I would not support my representatives if they went in that direction.

Better oversight, especially of prisoner abuse, sure. Resolutions and public pressure to begin re-deployment, absolutely. Resistance to approving any action against other countries, barring new attacks and/or circumstances, agreed. But to sit back and literally not pass any further funding for troops in the field, which seems to be the only viable way for the Dems to actually use funding to oppose the war, simply doesn't seem appropriate to me.

We can disagree on approaches to the war all day, but my main point is that railing about the Dems cutting off funding probably isn't terribly valid, when one thinks about it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Operation Boobjob?

Condi gives us a new term to replace escalation and surge (h/t BarbinMD at DKos):

Hagel: I think this speech, given last night by this President, represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out.

Rice: I think that I don't see it and the President doesn't see it as an escalation. What he sees...

Hagel: Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation? Would you call it a decrease? And billions of dollars more?

Rice: I would call it, Senator, an augmentation that allows the
Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem that they have in Baghdad.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


From the Baltimore Sun, courtesy of DailyKos:

Better armor lacking for new troops in Iraq
By David Wood
Sun reporter
January 10, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The thousands of troops that President Bush is expected to order to Iraq will join the fight largely without the protection of the latest armored vehicles that withstand bomb blasts far better than the Humvees in wide use, military officers said.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Republic Party's verbal tic

Interesting post by Digby:
I hate to step on all the good feelings of brotherly and sisterly love we all feel today, but when I hear the new Minority Leader John Boehner call us the "Democrat party" in the same speech in which he is calling for civility, I can't help but wonder whether he knows what that means. You see, it actually isn't very civil at all to change the name of someone's else's political party against their will. In fact, it's universally considered rude and cretinous not to call people by the names and designations by which they wish to be called. Just a thought, in case anyone on the Republican side wonders why so many people think they are unctuous hypocrites. (Yeah, I know.)

Bonus: isn't "unctuous" a great word?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Well played, Rep. Ellison, well played

In case you missed it, Keith Ellison (D-MN) became the first Muslim elected to Congress. Then he announced that he would use a Koran to take his oath of office, unleashing a storm of teeth gnashing - especially from radio talking head Dennis Prager and Washington empty head Virgil Goode (R-VA).

Prager said this "undermined American civilization" and was analogous to allowing a neo-Nazi to be sworn in on a copy of "Mein Kampf." Rep. Goode seized on the issue to warn of an impending flood of Muslim immigration (accompanied, presumably, by plagues and pestilience).

In a brilliant move, Mr. Ellison will use a Koran in his swearing in ceremony- one previously owned by a notorious firebrand from Rep. Goode's home state.

A Mr. Thomas Jefferson.

Memo to the Demo's: Time to bring the heat

Interesting post at TomPaine.com.

All over Washington, the sage barons of the establishment media are warning Democrats not to get cocky. Don’t move too fast, they say. Don’t push a bunch of wacky, left-wing ideas. Seek compromise, give ground, hew to the center, for only there lies the greatest prize of all: the praise of David Broder and Joe Klein, the nodding approval of the Washington Post editorial page, the admiration the Beltway cognoscenti reserve for those who know their place and know whose rings they should be kissing.

Bull. What Democrats need to do is spend the next two years crushing their opponents like bugs. It’s not about mercy, it’s not about manners, it’s about three fundamental goals: limiting the damage the Bush administration can do, passing whatever legislation they can in the short term to help the American public and laying the foundation for future progressive victories.

I'm not sure I completely buy this game plan, but I like the spirit. We didn't vote last fall to send Democrats to Washington to be compliant partners for the Worst President Ever. No, that's what we voted against. What we voted for was Democrats to go in there, kick some ass, provide oversight and demand accountability.

Welcome to Ought Seven

Hi-ho, back from the hustings. Too many things to think about - dead President, dead Godfather of Soul, dead Frankenstein, dead Dictator. So I'll just pick one thing.

I have enjoyed at the year end the recounting all of the horribly inaccurate predictions made by many right wing talking heads. Unfortunately, it came in the context of the question: Why is anyone still listening to these morons? They still show up on the Op-Ed pages, and on Sunday morning TV shows. Why is there so little interest in talking to people, like Howard Dean, or James Webb, who Got It Right? I don't understand the media's fetish for the High Priests of Bad Calls.

Like Bill Kristol, who in late November 2005, said:
Pelosi's endorsement today of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq makes the House Democrats the party of defeat, the party of surrender. Bush's strong speech today means the GOP is likely to be--if Republican Congressmen just keep their nerve--the party of victory. Now it is possible that the situation in Iraq will worsen over the next year. If that happens, Bush and the GOP are in deep trouble. They would have been if Pelosi had said nothing. But it is much more likely that the situation in Iraq will stay more or less the same, or improve. In either case, Republicans will benefit from being the party of victory.

This is only one in a long line of "the internet is a fad" -type idiocies courtesy of Mr. Kristol.

Or commentator Mark Steyn, who dropped this beauty on us in mid-2005:

I think Iraq is on the wane as a domestic policy issue in the US. American troops will be there for some time, but increasingly in a supporting role to the new Iraqi forces.

My bet is that enough of the American people are made of sterner stuff, and that Democrats who continue to argue for retreat – and thus defeat - will find the anti-Iraq drum has less and less resonance. . .


Would it be so hard for the news shows to do a little research and then ask these guys what's up?

"Um, Mr. Kristol, you have an amazing track record for coming on this show and making predictions that have turned out not to be the case? I understand that you said what you believed at the time but the fact is, you were wrong, were you not? So why should your predictions continue to have any credibility? Why should we even have you on?"

(I can dream, can't I?)