31 January 2007

Molly Ivins, 1944 - 2007

The classy columnist from Texas has passed away. She was 62.

Clinton, Obama, and Richardson

Over the last couple of weeks Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have announced the formations of presidential exploratory committees as they begin their quests for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Each brings alot to the table. First and foremost is the fact that their name is not George W. Bush.

Even today, 22 whole months before we elect a new president, polling shows that 58% of American voters just want the Bush presidency to be over. And therein lays a tremendous opportunity for the Democrats. If they play their cards right.

At first blush, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama just don't fit the bill. Don't get me wrong. They are both much better choices for America than the folks running on the Republican side - and I think each of them has a good chance of winning. But they have a bit of baggage that I think will work against them come summer and autumn of 2008.

I really do believe Hillary would make a superb president. But, fair or not, her negatives with the American public are too high. If she were to win, we'd be in for another four years of the most divisive politics the country has ever seen. (And they're pretty damn divisive now.) The Republicans will spend their every minute trying to bring her down. After 16 years (8 with Clinton and 8 with Bush) I don't think the American psyche could handle another 4 to 8 years of that type of gridlock governance.

The junior senator from New York should keep working in the Senate. Majority Leader, maybe? Or, if a Democrat wins the White House, Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court?

Food for thought.

Sen. Obama is another story. It seems he would be the guy who could bring a much needed calming to the poisonous political waters. He has the amazing ability to bring the two extreme sides of each political party to the table. That ability to compromise is exactly what the United States needs at this point in its history. We need a president who is willing to tell his partisan base that they need to take a back seat for a while so that members of both parties can come together and focus on righting the tremendous wrongs President Bush has inflicted (and that's a tall order for whoever wins the presidency in 2008).

Iraq, the overall international fight against terrorism, and restoring America's reputation around the globe - not to mention putting our debt-ridden financial house in order - will all need to be put front and center in the next administration.

And therein, I think, lays the problem with Sen. Obama. Should he win his party's nomination next year he will go into the general election with only four years in the Senate under his belt.

I know, I know...George W. Bush had only 6 years in one of the weakest governor's offices in the country before becoming president. But look where that has led us. (Of course, Mr. Bush had failed at just about everything he had done up to that point. But that's an essay for another day.)

Normally this lack of experience wouldn't necessarily keep a candidate from winning a general election; and I think the junior senator from Illinois would surround himself with strong, competent, and able people. But the question remains...will American voters be willing to take a chance - in this day and age - with another novice.

Gov. Richardson has the resume. He was a staff member on the Senate foreign relations committee in the 70s, was elected to Congress in the 80s, and in the 90s served as President Clinton's United Nations ambassador and Energy Secretary. Moreover, he met with the North Koreans in 1994 and won the release of a U.S. helicopter pilot, and earlier this year he negotiated the release of U.S. journalist Paul Solopek from the Sudan. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

On paper Richardson is the real deal. And, like Clinton and Obama, would make a superb president. But there are allegations of womanizing (although to a lesser extent that Mr. Clinton's) and of embelleshing his record as college baseball player (I could care less, but today's tabloid-esque 24-hour news media plays shit like that to the hilt).

If my Democratic primary ballot were to list only these three candidates (Clinton, Obama, Richardson), I'd have a hard time coming to a decision. Each candidate brings some definate strengths to the table. Each, however, also brings weaknesses that the Republican Party will pounce on 24/7 up to (and beyond) Election Day 2008.

(Obviously they won't be the only names on the ballot. Edwards, Dodd, Vilsack, and Biden - who is announcing his candidacy today - will have their names listed. But for the purposes of this post I focused on the three announced candidacies from last week.)

And so today - one whole year before the first nominating elections take place - I would like to officially throw my support behind another possible candidate. An elder-statesman who has the reputation needed to repair our global relationships. A candidate who can run the ultimate "I told you so" campaign. A man who, I believe, will have many Americans wishing he had been in the White House over the last eight years.

The man who won the national popular vote in 2000.

Former Vice-President Al Gore.

"Run, Al, Run" - Tim Dickinson outlines why Gore should run here.

Waste & Fraud In Iraq

An audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, shows $300 billion of taxpayer money going down the drain as waste and fraud abound in the war torn country.

Among the waste:

$43.8 million, paid by the U.S. State Department to contractor DynCorp International for a police residential camp in the Baghdad Adnan Palace. But the ground has stood empty for months.

$36.4 million for armored vehicles, body armor, and communications equipment that can’t be accounted for.

$4.2 million for 20 VIP trailers and an Olympic-size pool, all ordered by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior but never authorized by the U.S.

And that apparently only skims of the surface of Bowen's audit report.

The administration of George W. Bush: Incompetent beyond definition.

Pure '90s

Your song of the day is the epitome of early 90's dance club schlock. "Keep Warm" by Jinny.

30 January 2007

How Low Can You Go

Janice Scott-Blanton, author of a book called "My Husband is on the Down Low and I Know About It," a fictional account of her husband's homosexual affairs, is suing the makers of the Academy Award winning movie "Brokeback Mountain."

Blanton alleges there are "over 50 substantial similarities between the two bodies of work."

According to Amazon.com, Blanton's novel was first published on 20 March 2005.

Someone should inform Ms. Blanton - and her lawyers - that "Brokeback Mountain" was a short story written by Annie Proulx before it was adapted into a movie.

It was first published in a magazine called The New Yorker.

In 1997.

Is America Ready...

...for another four years with a Bush in the White House?

Despite what Sully's reader thinks, I highly doubt (HIGHLY DOUBT!) that the people of the United States want to see the name "Bush" on a presidential ballot again anytime soon.


Quote of the Day:
Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president.
-Weekly Standard editor - and GOP mouth piece - Bill Kristol...on 5 March 2003.

27 January 2007

"Postcards From California"

The new album from 54 Seconds is finished and the Austin based group has posted the first single on their MySpace page. It's called "Dirty Little Secret" and can be heard by clicking here and selecting the third track listed on the right.

"Little Mosque on the Prarie"

Earlier this month NPR interviewed the creator of "Little Mosque on the Prarie," a new Canadian sitcom about about a group of Muslims living in a prairie town in the Saskatchewan provence of Canada, and the liberal imam who quits his job as a big city lawyer to take over their tiny mosque - which is run out of a small parish hall.

The first episode is brilliant. You can see it in four parts on YouTube. In the mean time here is a great scene from that episode:

Carter the Hawk?

Quote of the Day:
I believe the Soviets saw a very different Jimmy Carter than did most Americans by 1980, different and more hostile and threatening...[he] would provide a strong foundation for Ronald Reagan to build upon.
-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was the national intelligence officer for the Soviet Union in the Carter White House, in his 1996 book "From the Shadows."

Hawkish praise for the one-term Democrat from a life-long Republican.


The President's job approval last week stood at 28%, according to a NY Times/CBS News poll. Only Jimmy Carter (in 1979) and Richard Nixon (in 1974) scored lower numbers.

Mr. Bush's approval may have ticked up a point or two following his State of the Union address, but I expect the overall dip will continue into the spring.

Gay Rams

A new study shows that 8% of rams prefer sexual relations with other rams.

26 January 2007

Plamegate Continues

Newsweek: Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett have been subpoenaed in the Valerie Plame/CIA-leak trial against Scooter Libby.

13,880 Days

My buddy Gil celebrates his 38th this weekend.

This one is for you, mi amigo...

25 January 2007

What a Dick

In his interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday the Vice-President proved once again how out of touch this administration really is. They continue to stand firm on the lies that led us into Iraq; and they would rather drive America off a cliff than admit they need to make significant strategy changes in Iraq and the overall fight against international terror.

Later in the interview, Blitzer shouldn't have backed down on the question of Mary Cheney's pregnancy. Dick Cheney is the number two figure in an administration that fights tooth and nail to turn back the clock on all the gay and lesbian community have fought for (including Mary during her days as the public relations manager for gay and lesbian outreach at Coors Brewing Company).

So, questions to the Vice-President regarding his blantant hypocrisy on this matter are fully warranted.

See Dick go bat shit here:

24 January 2007

No 2008 Bid For Kerry

Sen. John Kerry (Democrat-MA), his party's nominee for president in 2004, will announce this afternoon that he will not seek that nomination again in 2008.

Good decision, Senator.

Had you won two years ago you would have been a good president. But you ran a weak campaign and lost against an incumbent you should have beat handily. Thank you for sparing us a repeat performance.

Dick Goes Bat Shit

CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Vice-President Cheney today. It seems Dick went totally bat shit. Transcript here.


The President got off to a nice start in his State of the Union speech last night when he acknowledged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But then, as in everything he does, he drove off a cliff. This was his worst SOTU speech yet.

Rather than put the most important issue of the day front and center, he relegated Iraq to the middle of the speech and had the gall to tell the new Democratic congress, "Whatever you voted for, you didn't vote for failure."

Excuse me?

Why yes, you are indeed correct, Mr. President. We voted AGAINST failure. Yours. Plain and simple. You have failed at every level on this war in Iraq, and by extension - and more importantly - the greater war against international terrorism. So, with respect, don't preach to us about failure.

For the most part, the rest of the speech was an incoherent laundry list of legislation the administration may or may not get around to drafting. The "heros" section at the end seemed out of place and, again, incoherent in the overall context of his speech.

The President concluded his remarks with one of those "the state of our union is strong" statements. That is something President Clinton or the first President Bush could have said. But not this president. Not now.

...vs. Competence

In the official opposition response to the President's State of the Union address, Sen. Jim Webb (Democrat-VA) beat Bush to a pulp. His remarks were the perfect blend of Democratic domestic ideals (economic populism) and old style Truman/Kennedy-like hawkishness (foreign policy competence). The Senator personified everything the nation needed in 2004, but didn't get in John Kerry or George W. Bush.

Some key highlights from Webb's speech:
...this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

[Military men and women] serve and have served...because we love our country...we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff...We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable ­and predicted ­disarray that has followed.
I know he just won his Senate seat, and I am aware that he may not be as liberal as I'd like on many social issues I hold near and dear, but if the Democrats were smart enough to draft Sen. Webb for president next year, I'd be all over it.

23 January 2007

Rove Bombshell

The defense counsel in the Scooter Libby/CIA-leak trial delivered a massive blow to the White House today, blaming White House adviser Karl Rove for the leak that outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. According to various reports, the opening statement by Libby's defense attorneys included the reading of a note, written by Vice-President Cheney, that said:
Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.
And to that mighty morsel the fact that MSNBC is reporting that Mr. Cheney is way more involved in this whole affair than previously thought.

Glad to see this back in the news. I always knew Cheney and Rove were behind this. If there is any justice they'll be indicted on charges soon and forced to resign.

Then again, the word "justice" takes on a whole new meaning under the administration of George W. Bush.

Mark Wahlberg Gets Overdue Oscar Nod

More on this year's Oscar nominations a little later, but for now...

After being passed over for his brilliant work in "The Basketball Diaries" and especially "Boogie Nights," Mark Wahlberg finally received recognition from the Motion Picture Academy this morning, receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in "The Departed."

Other quick notes: Although it was shut out of the Best Picture category, Paul Greengrass was nominated for his direction of "United 93." "Dreamgirls" leads the pack with 8 nominations but didn't make the cut for Best Picture. And the Supporting Actress category looks to be another tough one to predict this year, as three of the nominees (Adriana Barraza, Abigail Breslin, and Rinko Kikuchi) are new comers who many have never heard of.

21 January 2007


In Devner for work until Tuesday. I'll return to the blogosphere then.

19 January 2007

Beating the Clock

With 42 hours remaining on the 100-hour clock, the U.S. House of Representatives reached their goal of passing six major pieces of legislation that had faltered during the previous Republican-led Congress.

-Enact more of the 9/11 Commission recommendations: 299-128

-Increase the minimum wage: 315-116

-Expand stem cell research: 253-174

-Enable Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices: 255-170

-Cut Student Loan interest rates: 356-71

-End big oil subsidies and invest in new energy: 264-163

Now, knowing that the current House split is 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans, you can see by the numbers above that the six bills passed with Republican support. In same cases that support was overwhelming, in others not so much. But either way, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have proven that the Democrats can lead on a bipartisan level.

Oh sure, things will get tight from here on out; and these bills still have to go to the Senate and then on to the President (who is sure to veto at least one or two), But this 100-hour legislation finally breaks the gridlock of the previous lackluster Congress.

From Bad To Worse

It's a full year before the first nominating contests are held for the 2008 presidential election and the TV ads have already started.

The first one is a doozy. It discusses the Iraq War escalation while giving a brief history on how Sen. John McCain (Republican-AZ) sold his soul to the devil:

18 January 2007

"Was I just a fool...or was the pleasure pain"

While I'm on this guitar rock kick, here is the single I named the best of 1989..."Almost Hear You Sigh" by the Rolling Stones.

Although it only managed to peak at #50 on the U.S. singles chart, at the time of its release this was arguably the best Stones track since "Waiting On a Friend."

It's one of those "lost gems." Most people don't remember the song, but when they hear it they love it.


17 January 2007

And speaking of little pricks...

While all of the chatter out there in the blogosphere focuses on President Bush's interview with Scott Pelley this past Sunday on "60 Minutes," I was more impressed with Jim Lehrer's conversation with Little Boy George on last night's PBS NewsHour.

It was SO refreshing to see a journalist actually ask the President some truly tough questions. Some key examples:
Mr. President, do you have a feeling of personal failure about Iraq right now?

But to be very direct about it, Mr. President, you had a few years here and you've been in charge. And you've made a lot of decisions; you've made a lot of judgments about things and they haven't worked. And so now you've made a new one. So why should anybody expect the new ones to work when the prior ones did not?

Is there a little bit of a broken egg problem here, Mr. President, that there is instability and there is violence in Iraq - sectarian violence, Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and now the United States helped create the broken egg and now says, okay, Iraqis, it's your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don't do it quickly and you don't do it well, then we'll get the hell out.

Well, Mr. President, how can there then be a strategy based on trying to attain success if even more people are going to die - Americans as well as Iraqis?

But when - but when, Mr. President, does the skepticism and the criticism become so heavy and so prevalent that it becomes a factor? In other words, simply put, how in the world does any president of the United States run a war without the support of a majority of the American people and a majority of the Congress of the United States, no matter what the ins and outs are?
The transcript of the interview is here. As of yet, I can't find the video. But once I do I will post it. Georgie Boy squirms and giggles, and at times you just want to smack the smirk right off his face.

"You might feel a little prick..."

A doctors union in Romania is up in arms following a civil trial in which Dr. Naum Ciomu was ordered to pay $200,000 to 36 year-old patient Nelu Radonescu.

Dr. Cioumu's offense? During surgery to correct a testicular malformation he suddenly lost his temper, grabbed a scalpel, sliced off Mr. Radonescu's penis, slammed it on the operating table and chopped it into small pieces.

Following the verdict, a doctors union VP said:
Ciomu's case is a dangerous precedent for all Romanian doctors. In the future doctors may have to think very carefully about what work they undertake.
Because...you know...we wouldn't want doctors paying attention during any sort of surgery, let alone delicate surgery!

The union VP concluded:
I urge doctors to only accept cases where they cannot make mistakes.
Mistakes? It's not like the scapal slipped! The doctor got pissy and then purposefully took his stress out on a man's manhood!

Frankly, $200,000 isn't enough. $2 billion isn't enough. I'd want Dr. Cioumu's penis hacked off. And then have it chopped, diced, and sliced.

In a blender.

While he watched.

Kiss Ass Rock & Roll

I'm on a guitar rock kick. Here are two classics for your HumpDay...

"Finish What Ya Started" by Van Halen

"Holy Water" by Bad Company

16 January 2007


Quote of the Day:
...this extremely unpopular president comes before [the American people] to announce that he's expanding the really unpopular war. And if that's not enough he has the quavering look of a degenerate gambler begging his wife, half cockily half desperately, for one more chance.
-Josh Marshall, commenting on the President's notable slide in public approval since announcing an escalation in the Iraq War.


The severe cold snap that has descended upon California has destroyed 75% of this year's citrus crop, according to California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura.

Her Majesty, the Queen

Helen Mirren takes the Best Actress prize at last night's Golden Globes for her potrayal of "The Queen."

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the film is well worth the $10.00 ticket price. Mirren is superb in this role, and if there is any justice she'll make it to the finish line at the Academy Awards next month.

My original review can be read here.

Who Knew...

...that last night's Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, Sacha Baron Cohen (aka "Borat"), was so damn handsome?!?

15 January 2007

Plan A?

From Warren P. Strobel, a reporter for McClatchey Newspapers:
Aboard her plane, [Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice also told reporters that the United States would not abandon Iraq even if Bush's latest plan fails.
"We're not pulling the plug on Iraq," she said. "I think we'll worry about making Plan A work for now. And obviously, if it doesn't, then you know, we're not going to say, oh my goodness, that didn't work, there's nothing that can be done."
Plan A??

Isn't this, like, Plan Q ?

George & His Three Little Friends

From last night's "60 Minutes" interview:
Scott Pelley: How can you escalate the war when so many people in this country seem to be against it?

George W. Bush: Uh, I, uh, I'm going to have to keep explaining. That's why I'm doing this interview with you. Uh, Scott, uh, sometimes you're the commander-in-chief, sometimes you're the educator-in-chief, and a lot of times you're both when it comes to war.
Someone ought to send George to the White House nurses office.

Commander-in-Chief, the Decider, and now "Educator-in-Chief?" Forget for a moment that this comes from a guy who is proud to have graduated college with a "C" average...

It seems poor George is suffering from multiple personality disorder.

The Bigger Johnson

Shocker, I know...but it seems the President lied to the American people last week when he said the coming troop escalation was all about fighting the insurgency in Iraq (with a "Q").

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at NATO this morning that the new troops are being sent to fight Iran (with an "N").

The Guardian newspaper says Gates' remarks have fuelled speculation that Mr. Bush "is softening up the American public for possible action against Tehran."

The number of troops in Iraq isn't enough to win the war there, and the incompetent American President wants to send additional troops to Iran?!?

So, basically it boils down to this: Hundreds - perhaps thousands - more American soldiers will lose their lives so that George W. Bush can prove he has a bigger Johnson than Lyndon Johnson (and from various reports, Johnson was quite blessed in that department).

Memo to George: Mr. President, Johnson may have had his johnson, but you sir are just a big dick.

14 January 2007

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled...

On Friday night Brent and I joined our friend Teddy and his roommate Josh for dinner at Chow (superb comfort food) and a couple of beers at the Pilsner Inn, where the jukebox was playing some old time rock and roll.

Instead of the regular circuit club dance hits, it was refreshing to hear such artists as AC/DC and Journey being played.

Teddy, Brent, Josh, and I started talking about some of our favorite rock bands and memorable concerts (Prince, Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, 1998!!), and in the course of our conversation I began to think of some blasts from the past that I hadn't heard since God was a boy.

And so, these songs are for the guys. Had a blast Friday night and hope you can make it up to the city again soon.

"A Girl Like You" by the Smithereens

"Only Love" by the BoDeans

"Have A Drink On Me" by AC/DC

"Boogie With Stu" by Led Zeppelin

The Streets of San Francisco

31 December: Members of the Yale University Baker's Dozen a cappella singing group are kicked, slugged, and assaulted after singing the national anthem at New Year's Eve party in San Francisco's Richmond District. One of the victims required 4 hours of reconstructive surgery when he returned to the East coast on New Year's Day.

The SF Police Department have dropped the ball on the investigation and a battle royale is on between the SFPD, the singers' and their lawyers, the office of Mayor Gavin Newsom, and the lawyers of the alleged attackers - who include the sons of some "prominent San Franciscans."

10 January: LaShuan Harris is found "not guilty" of first-degree murder charges in the drowning deaths of her three little boys (aged 6, 2, and 1). Harris said "God told her" to take the boys to the San Francisco Bay, strip them of their clothing, and throw them in the chilly waters.

Instead, the jury found Harris guilty of secondary assault charges.

Two of the three boys remain in the bay. Searchers have given up on ever find their remains.

14 January: Two men are shot and killed in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood. This double murder takes place just two days after a woman's charred body was found on a boat ramp at Candlestick Point.


Yet, despite these three horrible crimes, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom defends his two vetos of legislation passed by the city's Board of Supervisors that would greatly increase police foot patrols around the city. (The Board over-rode both vetos.)

Moreover, Newsom refuses to acknowledge the non-binding ballot measure, passed overwhelmingly by San Francisco voters the past November, that urged him to make a monthly appearance before the Board of Supervisors (ie: city council) to answer their questions (similar to the British tradition of the Prime Minister taking questions from Parliament). These appearances would force the Mayor to defend his veto decisions for the public record, not to mention explain his police department's lackluster investigation into the Baker's Dozen incident.

Uhh...memo to Mr. Newsom: You're up for re-election this November (should you chose to run again). You started strong, naming opponents to key city posts and giving gay and lesbian couples equal protection under the Constitution of the United States. But make no mistake...this gay voter will weigh all the facts on all the issues. And if the crime rate within the city limits, which is already way too high these first two weeks of the year, continues to climb unchecked...well...the buck stops with you my friend.

Don't take our votes for granted because you stepped up to the plate in a big way a few years back. My vote for or against you will be based on the overall picture: What you did in 2004, as well what you do in 2007.

12 January 2007

The "Rush" to Justice

Quote of the Day:
A bill to designate the United States courthouse located at 555 Independence Street, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as the "Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. United States Courthouse".
-The title of U.S. Senate bill S.247, offered on the chamber floor yesterday in honor of the radio talk show hosts father.

It's sponsor? Sen. Kit Bond (Republican-MO). Even in the minority these guys can be counted on to take their eyes off the ball on things like Iraq and focus on the truly important issues of the day.

"Commander Mo"

Yesterday was history.
Who knows what there is gonna be when we meet again.
Will you smile and tell the world about me?
Can there be no doubt about me,
I was your friend.
-From the song "Sea of Smiling Faces" (1972), written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, and from the Bee Gees album "To Whom It May Concern."

Maurice Gibb, one third of the superb musical act the Bee Gees, passed away four years ago today after suffering a heart attack during surgery to correct a twisted instestine. It has been said that Maurice was the glue that held the act together. He said in an interview that it was his lot in life to act as the intermediary between the always feuding Barry and Robin.

In fact, since his death, Barry and Robin have disbanded the Bee Gees, have been bogged down in various legal battles over their song publishing library, and until recently had stopped talking.

Maurice's favorite sport was paintball. In fact he opened his own paintball supply shop in Florida called "Commander Mo's." It's still in business today.

In honor of the late Commander, here is a video tribute from YouTube.

11 January 2007

Bush Declares "Secret War" with Syria and Iran??

From Steve Clemons:
Washington intelligence, military, and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
Add to that the fact that today U.S. forces raided the Iranian Consulate in Arbil, Iraq.

Forget for a minute the very important fact that 21,500 additional troops is nowhere near enough to fight the Iraqi insurgency AND Iran and Syria. But IF the President did issue a secret executive order of war against two additional countries without the consent of Congress, then we have a tremendous and true Constitutional crisis on our hands.

The President's Speech, Part 2

What Little Boy George did last night was promise a miniscule 10% troop escalation, throw his hands on his hips and say, "Ok, that's it! You insurgents better stop, and I really mean in it this time. Mmm k?"

Last night's speech was arguably the single most important of the President's term in office. And like every aspect of his war planning, he fell short. His proposal doesn't even come close to doing what needs to be done in Iraq, and will probably prolong the conflict.

Those of us who argued against this war in 2002 did so first and foremost because it was unjustified. But we also knew that, with Bush's mind essentially made up, that he was nowhere near ready for the conflict to come. Diposing Saddam Hussein was the easy part. But the President and his administration didn't plan for the post-Saddam long run. They didn't see the insurgency coming, even though many of us were practically shouting from the rooftop of the White House that the President didn't send enough troops to fight it.

Now, we're in this quagmire.

If Mr. Bush's intent last night was to extinguish the flames of the insurgency, then he should have proposed a plan that would add at least 50,000 troops. But his plan to add 21,500 just adds fuel to that fire. And as a result George Bush has placed us in quite the quandry: If we continue to fight with minimal troop numbers, the conflict goes on essentially without end. If we leave, the insurgent terrorists - who are there only because of the President's incompetent war management - will destabilize the region as never before. Then again, getting out will mean that many more American GI's lives spared.

What to do? I have no idea. What I do know is that, last night, by not stepping up to the plate with a more robust escalation plan - or with a quick exit strategy - the President of the United States has essentially tightened the trap that holds 130,000 American troops.

He's obviously not up to the task. And, short of impeachment (which won't happen), we are heading for two years of greater disaster in Iraq.

Say it with me: The. Worst. President. Ever.

The President's Speech, Part 1

The most important (and unexpected) part of President Bush's speech last night was his willingness to start a war with Syria and Iran; his threat to "seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq."

Umm...him and who's army?

10 January 2007

George Still Doesn't Get It

I'll post my own thoughts on the President's speech tomorrow. In the mean time, as the evening draws to a close, here are a few select post-speech comments from someone who backed George W. Bush in the 2000 election, and strongly backed him as the Iraq War was getting under way, but has since lost all faith in the President's competence:
21,500 U.S. troops is once again, I fear, just enough troops to lose. The only leverage this president really has left is the looming regional war that withdrawal would bring. Yes, if we leave, the civil war will take off. And if we stay, with this level of troops, the civil war will also take off. One way, we get enmeshed in the brutal civil war in the region. One way, we get to face them another day, and perhaps benefit by setting them against each other, and destabilizing Iran. That's the awful choice this president has brought us to. Under these circumstances, I favor withdrawal, while of course, hoping that a miracle could take place. But make no mistake: a miracle is what this president needs. And a miracle is what we will now have to pray for.

He will do what he wants, of course...Even if the casualties mount, and the civil war intensifies...

To back [this plan] requires us to trust this president as a competent, deft and determined leader. Do you? Can you? At this point? After all we have seen?
-Andrew Sullivan, who now favors withdrawal.

4pm PT: Bush Speech Preview

Excerpts from tonight's scheduled speech from the President have been released by the White House. One particular line seems to stick out like a sore thumb:
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship.
Hmmm...hold on...I seem to remember something...let's see...it seemed to involve the words "mission accomplished"...and a battleship, if my memory serves me correctly...hmmm...if I could just remember what that was...

George and Geography

I don't know how I missed this Bushism from June 29th, but I did. I post it today because it really is a classic:
...it was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship.
Am I wrong in thinking that if Mr. Bush lived in New Jersey, he wouldn't be able to vote?

A Year Later

My grandmother passed away one year ago today - after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's. She is heavy on my mind this morning, and in her memory I re-print the comments I made at her memorial service this past May:
On the morning of January 10th, after my mother had called me with the news of Grandma’s passing, two things happened: 1) Chloe, my two year-old Boston Terrier, while I was still on the phone with my mother, sat at my side, whimpered, and kissed my cheek twice; and 2) A few hours later, when I was taking Chloe on her morning walk, an old, gray haired dog from across the street, who had never before given me a so much as a glance, left her owner and, despite debilitating arthritis, walked across the street, stopped in front of me, nuzzled my hand, and then walked away, looking back once before re-joining her owner (who was a bit shocked, as her dog never acted like this).

I think of these two things today because they are the type of stories that Grandma would get a kick out of.

Chloe, because I always knew that Grandma would just adore her. She’s well behaved, loves people to a fault, yet maintains an independent streak that only Grandma would truly admire.

As for the older dog who came to me that morning...well, despite the news my mother had delivered earlier, the incident with that dog kept a smile on my face that entire morning. For it’s a story we would expect to hear from Grandma. I can hear her tell it now: That dog, who never before befriended me, came over to let me know that Grandma was ok; that she was in a better place and that, after so many years in the dark, was herself again: That smiling, caring, loving woman we all missed so much.

We all have our favorite stories about Grandma. Something she said that made us laugh; a gift she bought that, to this day, still means the world to us; a song she would sing as she rocked us in her lap.

But for me...well...I will remember her dedication and kindness...those traits that – to me – defined her; the traits that made her too good for this world.

I think we’ve all been there: Times or situations when the chips were down, when life just really stunk, for whatever reason, little or small. And, without any hesitation, there was that woman – Sarah, Sally, Mom, Grandma – that wonderful, loving woman, who would be there to do whatever she could to lift you up and make life better again – no questions asked.

I could go into details but I have a hunch we’re all mulling over our own private instances in our own minds.

And I guess that is why I thought of the dog stories today. Grandma always said her best friends were the dogs and the cats she owned over the years. And when I think about it, it makes sense. Pets love unconditionally. And, at least in my own relationship with her, Grandma loved just as unconditionally.

And so, Grandma...I want to take this opportunity, as you go on to your eternal slumber, to say THANK YOU.

Thank you for being our sister, our mother, our grandmother...but, most importantly, thank you for being our friend.

Farewell, Sweet Lady.

We love you.
Miss you, Gram.

This one's for you:

Promises, Promises

From the Washington Post:
Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq.
Surely they've lost faith in any promises issued by the administration of George W. Bush.

Haven't they?

Sen. Johnson Upgraded

Update on Sen. Tim Johnson (Democrat-SD): He has been upgraded from critical to fair condition, and no longer needs a ventilator to help him breathe.

09 January 2007

The Idiot Clause

From the New Jersey state constitution:
...no idiot or insane person should enjoy the right of suffrage.
That lovely little passage was added to the state document in 1844 in order to prevent people suffering with mental illness from voting in local, state, and federal elections.

State Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, introduced a bill on Monday that would remove the language from the state constitution.

By way of a constitutional amendment.

Which voters will have to approve.

Just not the idiots.

The Escalation

MSNBC is reporting that the President's escalation of the Iraq War will consist of 20,000 troops (not 25,000 as I mentioned earlier); and they'll enter the war zone gradually.

In other words...just enough troops, deployed in slow motion, to keep us bogged down and on the losing side.

Directors Guild of America Nominations

BILL CONDON, for Dreamgirls
MARTIN SCORSESE, for The Departed

Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed that the Guild overlooked the superb work done by Paul Greengrass on United 93. The film is far and away the most important of the year. (My original review here.)

Could it be they kept Greengrass off the list because he would have steamrolled over Scorsese, who many feel is long overdue for both the DGA prize and the Oscar?

Whatever the case, Greengrass was robbed.

"Trust Me"

Quote of the Day:
...going back now some four years, who can point to even a single Bush administration decision in Iraq, either strategic or tactical, that didn't turn out to be either a bad idea or a complete disaster? Anything? One good call?

When the President goes before the people on Wednesday, he is basically saying, "trust me."
-Josh Marshall, on tomorrow night's scheduled speech by President Bush in which he is expected to announce that he will escalate the Iraq War by adding about 25,000 additional troops.

Marshall is right. Nothing the Bush team has done has gone well in Iraq. And this troop surge won't help matters. Realistically, if the President's desire is to get things under control over there, he would need to send in 100,000 additional troops.

Those of us who were against Bush's war back in 2002 argued that, if he was going to go in, he wasn't committing enough manpower to keep the peace. Today, four years and 3,000 lives later, Mr. Bush is just now coming to the realization that he didn't do what really needed to be done.

And with that realization he is going to go on television tomorrow night and offer to fix it with a band-aid. On the cheap.

At this point I would prefer that we begin pulling out of Iraq. We should have never been there to begin with. But that's not going to happen. So we ought to focus on getting it right. But with this incompetent administration calling the shots I doubt that will happen either.

Around the Globe

Last night I received an email from a reader in Neerpelt, Belgium, who was kind enough to let me know that two of the three songs I listed in yesterday's James Bond post contained bad links.

The links now work and I thank the reader for his email.

But even more than his kindness, I was actually floored that the San Francisco Journal had a reader in Belgium! That led me to go in and take a look at the site records; and when I did I was shocked even further.

In addition to the astute reader in Neerpelt, I'd like to give a hearty welcome to readers in...

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Villa Martn Arn, Argentina
Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
Paris, France
Brussels, Belgium
St. Petersberg, Russian Federation
and, Singanallur, India

Thank you for taking the time to read the musings of yours truly.

The 100 Hour Agenda

Now that the Democratic congressional majority has passed new rules on how lawmakers do business (like working an honest 5 day week, rather than the 2 day week of the previous Republican majority) and scheduled oversight hearings on the Bush administration's incompetent war planning, the Democratic leadership will begin their 100 hour agenda to present and vote on important measures the previous Republican leadership failed to act on.

Bolstering national security by implementing more of the 9/11 Commission recommendations (our ports are still quite vulnerable), cutting the interest rates on student loans, reducing the price of prescription drugs, overturning President Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and ending big oil subsidies are among the bills being introduced over the next few days.

Bush is likley to veto much of what comes out of the 100 hour session, but so be it. A solid line will be drawn in the proverbial sand, and on these issues it puts the Republicans in a pretty nasty spot going into the 2008 presidential cycle.

08 January 2007

America's Fascist Turn

Just when you think Fox Jazeera can't sink any lower, they hand Sean Hannity (their right-wing nutcase) his own Sunday show. Titled "Hannity's America," the show will include a weekly segment called "Enemy of the State."

Never mind that the phrase originated with the dictators of ancient Rome, today when most people hear the words "Enemy of the State" they think of Nazism and imperialism.

Thank God this guy isn't in the administration (it's bad enough he's their media mouthpiece). If he were actually in the government he'd be sending the "secret police" out to arrest his weekly enemies - anti-war activists, Democrats, gay men and women, doctors who perform abortions, and every other American who had the misfortune not to be white, middle aged, male, and ultra-Republican.

High-Octane Eye Candy

Brent and I joined Mark, Don, and Blossom for a Saturday night showing of "Casino Royale." For those of you who haven't seen it yet...it is most definately the best Bond flick in a long, long time.

After over a decade of rotating rather boring, dreadful actors in and out of the 007 roll (Timothy who? Brosnon what?), the producers brought in Daniel Craig, a rather fresh face to the American movie screen (and quite easy on the eyes, too). He brings a whole new freshness to the role - and to the franchise, which had become quite stale under Mr. Dalton and Mr. Brosnon.

The plot? It doesn't really matter. "Casino Royale" is hip, high-octane excitement and reinvigorates the James Bond brand. And Daniel Craig is the best - and sexiest - 007 yet.

Side note: The song to this film sucks! That is my one real complaint about "Casino Royale." It makes me yearn for the days when a song from a new James Bond flick was performed by a major artist and went to #1. You know...songs like these classics:

"Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings

"Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon (from "The Spy Who Loved Me")

"A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran

07 January 2007

Gratuitously Chloe

Our sweet girl, napping with her Daddy.

A Message From the Beach

1,200 Bay Area residents gathered at Ocean Beach yesterday for Brad Newsham's "Beach Impeach Project." Newsham, a local cab driver and travel writer, stretched his protesters across the sand to peacefully make their point. I would say they succeeded.

(Photo: John Montgomery, Beach Impeach Project)

06 January 2007

"Be Without You" (Moto Blanco Mix)

My favorite dance club track of 2006 is your Song of the Day this first Saturday of 2007.

"Be Without You" (Moto Blanco Mix) by Mary J. Blige:

05 January 2007

Long Overdue Course Correction?

Quote of the Day:
...it is time to bring the war to a close.
-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a letter to President Bush asking that he not increase troop levels in Iraq.

The checks, balances, and oversight of an out-of-control administration begin.

The next question is, what to do when the Decider ignores them?

You've Got Mail...and the President Is Reading It.

In one of his infamous "signing statements" - in which President Bush signs a bill into law but inserts remarks essentially saying that he is above the law and can ignore the bill where he sees fit - Mr. Bush has given himself and his government permission to open the mail of U.S. citizens without a warrant.

This is what happens when a C-student, and a man who has failed at every previous career attempt, ascends to the presidency. Mr. Bush doesn't understand the Constitution - in fact he's probably never looked at it (it's well above his reading level) - thus his trashing of the beloved document.

Taking Up Way Too Much Room on the Planet...

This idiot.

04 January 2007

America's Sauce

Perhaps the most notable eulogy from the funeral services of President Ford this week was the one given by President Carter. The two men epitomize the best in American politics; when Democrats and Republicans would fight and compromise and get things done, and then put it all aside at the end of the day and enjoy drinks and dinner together.

Ford and Carter became the best of friends following the 1976 election (in which Carter beat Ford), and the 39th President's admiration for his late friend, the 38th President, is plainly evident in the eulogy.

You can see Carter's remarks below (the last 30 seconds really got me). To paraphrase Thomas Friedman, Democrat Carter's praise and admiration of Republican Ford contains the real secret to America's sauce.

Madame Speaker

The 110th Congress took their oath of office today and in doing so my congresswoman (California's 8th congressional district) became the first woman, the first Californian, and the first San Franciscan to be elected by the House of Representatives as Speaker.

The Democrats control both houses of Congress in this new session, for the first time in 12 years, and work began almost immediately.

Many of the 'talking heads' on the cable news channels (especially MSNBC's blowhard Chris Matthews) are trying to lay Iraq at the Democrats' door now that they are the majority congressional party.

The Democrats need to fight back on this. The legislative branch of our government, as per the Constitution, can only declare war (and that was done for this war in 2002); beyond that, their hand in war planning is pretty limited. The President, in his role as Commander-in-Chief, runs the war and conducts foreign policy. This war is George W.Bush's, and only he must held responsible for its failures...and its successes.

The new Congress, with its Democratic majorities, should check the President at every turn. Hold hearings, ask questions, refuse to be railroaded by the incompetents in the White House. Mr. Bush had 6 years at the helm without any checks and balances. It's time he learned that that is not how the founding fathers envisioned things.

McGovern Voted for Ford

Quote of the Day:
I have to tell you something I've never said before publicly. I voted for [Ford] in 1976.
-Former Senator George McGovern (Democrat-SD) on Tuesday's "Larry King Live"

McGovern was the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 1972. He lost to President Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in U.S. history: 60.7% to 37.5%, and losing every state but Massachusetts.

I'm sure it stings some of his loyal '72 supporters to find out that he turned around four years later and voted for the Republican candidate, but you know...that's what America is all about.

Isn't it?

Post Holiday Stress?

Got up yesterday and went through my regular morning routine: coffee, news, shower, feed the dog. Felt fine until I was in the car and driving to work. It started in my right hand and foot...that tingly "needles" feeling you get when a limb falls asleep. By the time I got to work that feeling had extended to the full right leg and full right arm. And I was out of it.

I left work right away, drove back home (in hindsight, probably not a good idea - but got home just fine), and contacted my doctor's office who fit me into their schedule pretty promptly.

By the time I got there the tingly feelings had left the leg and arm, but remained in the hand and foot.

Neurological tests were normal. Heart rate and blood pressure were a bit high, but according to the physicians assistant didn't warrant concern and would not be causing the feelings in my arm and leg.

At a loss, and satisfied that the "needles" had subsided a bit, the P.A. released me with instructions to take a couple of days off, and get plenty of rest. He seemed to think that my stress and anxiety levels may be the culprit.

I am feeling much better today and spent much of the morning resting and catching up on sleep. I plan to take it relatively easy today and will see how things go when I return to work tomorrow.

03 January 2007

Songs of the Year

It's a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Sayin' that I better
Shut up and sing or my life will be over
-From "Not Ready to Make Nice," written by Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robinson, and Dan Wilson

In late 2002 and early 2003, as President Bush was preparing the nation for war with Iraq, there were a small handful of us who were against such a move. In the aftermath of 9/11 we felt that America's best interests would be served by keeping our eye on the ball...by remaining in Afghanistan, continuing the hunt for Osama bin Laden (remember him, Mr. President?), and using the opportunity there to attempt to plant the seeds of democracy in the Middle East.

We were all for "taking this battle to them" so that the moderates of the region could be propped up and the radical fringe soundly defeated. Again...in Afghanistan.

Iraq had nothing (n-o-t-h-i-n-g) to do with the attacks of 9/11. Intelligence showed this. The President's own terrorism chief told him this. Yet, Mr. Bush insisted that his administration figure out a way to link Saddam Hussein with 9/11.

Based on that trumped up "evidence," the country rallied around their president. Better safe than sorry, they thought...especially if Iraq really had weapons of mass destruction. Never mind evidence to the contrary; and never mind predictions from experts who said if a war wasn't done just right, the region would fall into chaos.

It was based on that contrary evidence and based on the those experts' predictions that a small minority of Americans spoke out against going to war with Iraq. We knew this president didn't have it in him. We knew he wasn't up to the task.

Did we want to be proven wrong? Hell, yes. With all of our beings. But from the early planning stages it was evident the Bush administration wasn't ready for what was coming.

And those of us who spoke out against the coming war were scolded and scorned - even by friends and family on the same side of the political spectrum as us. "Better safe than sorry," they said; "How do you know the President is wrong?!" they insisted.

We knew.

Call it a gut hunch, call it luck, call it logical thinking. Either way, at the time we were labeled unpatriotic and were looked down upon because we weren't ready to follow our lackluster leader blindly off a cliff.

In a much celebrated case of saying what we thought about the war publicly, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made a comment about how ashamed she was that George W. Bush was from her home state of Texas. The resulting fervor was a case-study in anti-Americanism. The Dixie Chicks' songs were banned from radio airplay, their CDs were destroyed in public displays of hatred, and death threats were made.

I guess freedom of speech is only supposed to apply when you agree with a president of the Republican Party.

Fast forward to 2006. The President is bogged down in an Iraqi civil war, 3,000 American soldiers have paid the ultimate price for Bush's misguided war, and Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. (As a matter of fact he had hardly any weapons of any kind.) Those who were against the war...we saw this coming from a hundred miles away, and no one listened. Only now do large majorities of Americans realize that going to Iraq was the wrong move.

Back to the Dixie Chicks...and so when I first heard "Not Ready to Make Nice," the Dixie Chicks' first single since 2002, it was quite cathartic. How dare anyone call those of us who spoke against the President's policy unpatriotic! As an American I couldn't have been more insulted. Beat us down for exercising our right to criticize our government when we know they're wrong? That's about as un-American as you can get.

Forgive me for babbling on, but the whole thing still unsettles me. It's still a bit raw. As Ms. Maines sings in her superb song:
Sounds good.
I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything.
But I'm still waiting.
I'm sure time will heal things. We are, after all, the United States of America.

The Best Song of 2006 is "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks:

Runners-up (in no particular order):
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" by Susan Tedeschi

"Love Show" by Skye Edwards

"Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer

"Upside Down" by Jack Johnson

"Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley

02 January 2007

Still Taking Up Too Much Room on the Planet...

This messy, toxic ho!

(Photo: PerezHilton.com)

Another Inconvenient Truth

Quote of the Day:
It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.
-Warwick Vincent of Laval University, on an Arctic ice shelf the size of Manhattan that broke free last week.

Researchers suspect climate change is the cause.

Farewell, Mr. President

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman: Allow Gays to Serve

In an op-ed column in today's New York Times, General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argues that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should be repealed and that gay men and women should be allowed to serve in the military:
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
It won't happen under this president...or any other Republican president. At least not in the immediate future.