Saturday, January 20, 2007

 

Misplaced Priorities

It's disconcerting that, even though the Democrats are now running Congress -- and passing some fairly horrid legislation, the antics of this Republican administration is still managing to turn my stomach.

Here's a nice question for you: After an election that partly turned on a belief that Republicans were more interested in their own self-aggrandizement rather than the general welfare of the country, wouldn't you think that the administration would go out of its way to prove the opposite? Wouldn't you think that Republicans would want to show their general integrity and reassure the public that they understand the big picture?

Yes, you might think that.

Alas, you would be wrong: Over the last few weeks, the administration has cashiered several U.S. attorneys. Not for any sort of malfeasance, mind you -- just so they can pad the resumes of other GOP apparatchiks.

U.S. Sen. John Ensign, who nominated Bogden, learned about a month ago that Bogden's services no longer were needed by this administration. The senator asked for reconsideration, arguing to no avail against removing someone doing a good job. Bogden became one of at least seven federal prosecutors getting the boot for no stated reason.

The most vocal critics of the forced resignations have been California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, both Democrats, who object that the Patriot Act is being used to remove the U.S. attorneys and replace them with interim appointees without Senate confirmation. They're not defending the current Bush appointees as much as they are defending the process of checks and balances.

From what I know, there was no misconduct on the part of this career prosecutor who took charge on Sept. 10, 2001, one day before terrorism became law enforcement's priority. There was no suggestion that he was playing politics with the office.

A GOP source said Ensign was told that the decision to remove U.S. attorneys, primarily in the West, was part of a plan to "give somebody else that experience" to build up the back bench of Republicans by giving them high-profile jobs.

So, whether the previous U.S. attorneys were doing a good job was irrelevant (one got quite a scalp: She successfully prosecuted ex.-Rep. Duke Cunningham). Nope, they had to be pushed aside because, well, the days of the Bush administration are drawing to a close and a number of people need new jewels on their C.V.s. Josh Marshall's muckraking site sees even darker motives -- getting partisans in place (particularly in Arkansas) to start digging up dirt against Hillary Clinton. So far, there is no evidence of that. But, that doesn't matter. If the information given Sen. Ensign is true, that's bad enough as it is. One of Josh's readers also points out that even if the Senate objects to one of the appointments, placing a pure political appointee in the prosecutor's role can still damage the office's integrity.

And, yes, I'm fully aware that the Clinton White House pulled this kind of stuff before. But, I happened to be part of a team that slammed that White House for that behavior.

And, yes, you did read the above passage correctly: Giving further ammunition to those who think that the Patriot Act was one of the most insidious bits of legislation ever passed (either in its original form, or its 2005 revamped version), the law passed to help a president fight terrorism turns out to have a provision making it easier to fire U.S. Attorneys -- and replace them without consulting the Senate.

Yep, one man's "Patriot-ism" is another man's way of helping his political buddies enhance their future career options!

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Retro Record Moment

Papa Do Preach
As RAG once said, I don't let politics get in the way of enjoying music. Being just old enough to remember seeing the Mamas and Papas on the Ed Sullivan show as a pre-schooler, I was sad to see one of the last remaining member of the Folk-rock quartet, Denny Doherty, has just passed. When I was 14, I asked my parents for a drum set to further my ambitions to become the next Neil Peart or Elvin Jones. Instead, they presented to me on that gift-grubbing morning an acoustic guitar. Luckily, I had my memories of the Mamas and Papas to remember that you could have fun and great music without a snare drum ... or a wah-wah pedal.

Speaking of Neil Peart, I'm going to have to eventually do a thread on great Libertarian Rock songs. Anyway, below, my favorite M&P song. Enjoy!



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The Lady Is A...

....candidate for president.

So, in less than a week, two historic races for the highest office in the land have been launched. The first woman president or the first black president?

The lady -- or the tiger?

Or when all is said and done, will Democrats opt for the safer -- yet, rather good-looking, relatively young white male (who might fare well in contrast with a GOP candidate who looks like he came in from central casting)?

Or finally, at the end of the day, will the American public just say, "History can wait: Who's the best person, whether man, woman, black or Martian to lead the country in uncertain times?"

By the way, it's easy to see exactly how much oxygen Hillary and Obama suck out of the atmosphere: Yesterday, a certain individual announced his own presidential exploratory committee: In other circumstances , he would be considered to have perfect credentials to run -- and win the Democratic nomination president: He's a governor of a Southwestern "purple" state; accomplished in both official and unofficial foreign diplomacy; he's of Latino heritage.

But what -- i.e. who -- is everyone talking about today? Who will everyone be talking about tomorrow? It won't be the governor of New Mexico. It won't be the senator from Kansas (though those two gentlemen may be able to use previously-scheduled "This Week" interviews to help soak in some reflected media rays).

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Friday, January 19, 2007

 

Open Thread

It's Friday. You know what that means!

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A Jew, an Arab and A Black Guy walk into a blog...

It's rare that I get to do a two-fer shout-out, but here's one.

My New York Post colleague Max Gross also freelances for the Forward, one of the oldest publications focusing on the Jewish community. In the latest issue, he has an article on Dean Obeidallah, the Palestinian-Italian comic I've gotten to know over the last year. (Dean and I "closed" the Laughing Liberall/Laughing With The Enemy show in August. Though I don't usually hawk liberal enterprises, the LL guys and gals were nice enough to include some of my act in Laughing Liberally DVD, so if you're interested, you can purchase it here.

Max writes about Dean's new project: He's the creator and producer of "The Watch List" which highlights Arab- and Muslim American comics. It's accessible on Comedy Central's "Motherload" broadband site.

Max and I attended the launch party for the "Watch List" a couple weeks back. Anyway, good article by Max -- and go check out the "Watch List" videos, when you get a chance. Oh, and yeah, buy the DVD too. I might even get a few shekels out of it, if enough are sold!

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Razing the Barclays

I have serious concerns about constructing a huge sports and residential complex in downtown Brooklyn. However, I don't want to address the merits of the project right here. Instead, I want to point to one of the most devastating ledes I've ever read in a newspaper. Courtesy of the local Brooklyn Papers:
The future home for the Brooklyn Nets will be emblazoned with the corporate logo of a British bank that was founded on the slave trade, collaborated with the Nazis and did business with South Africa’s apartheid government.
Unfair? Biased? Inaccurate? Inflammatory?

One of, if not all, of those adjectives may apply to the piece. However, on a pure rhetorical level, that lede is one of the finest bits of propagandistic journalism to come along in some time!

Slavery, the Holocaust AND apartheid! Can't get a better troika than that (oh, and the paper's editorial section chimes in too)!

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Pick the NFL Playoff Winners - Final Results

In our first annual "Pick the NFL Playoff Winners" contest, with two points for each correct pick in the Divisional Playoffs, the results are shown below (Wild Card results + Divisional Playoff results = Total):

Bugg: 3 points + 6 points = 9 points
Robert A. George: 3 pts. + 2 pts. = 5 points
EdMcGon: 2 pts. + 2 points = 4 points
David Stefanini: 1 pt. + 2 pts. = 3 points

None of us will get the points for the AFC Champion this week, since none of us had Indy or New England. I can also safely say none of us will get the Super Bowl champion either, since we all had AFC teams winning it all.

Since I am dead in the water, and Robert and David cannot get enough points with their remaining picks, BUGG IS THE WINNER!

Congratulations Bugg!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

 

Michael Bloomberg -- Republican?

It's been a while since I wrote on local New York politics. So, let's take note of Michael Bloomberg.

Given the bulk of his "State of the City" speech Wednesday, one could almost be led to believe that the mayor really is planning on running for president -- as a Republican!!! What else are we to think when he actually champions tax cuts and education reform that starts moving perilously close to the land of vouchers?

With revenue rolling in because of the still-booming NY real estate market, Bloomberg announced a $1 billion package of property and sales tax cuts. It's only a 5 percent cut -- $750 million for one year, plus a $400 "rebate" for the third year in a row. But considering that the centerpiece for Bloomberg's first budget in 2002 was an 18.5 percent property tax increase, this is a marked improvement.

However, as Manhattan Institute scholar Nicole Gelinas points out, this is still not enough:
Bloomberg proposes only a one-year cut. He said yesterday, "It would be great if we can extend this in the years to come, but we can't know that we'll be as fortunate in the future with our revenues and expenses so right now it would not be fiscally sensible to commit to doing so."

Due to this caveat, while homeowners will no doubt put their savings to good use, New York's economy won't benefit from this cut as much as it could.

Why? Commercial-property investors and their tenants, as well as rental-property investors, will still have to budget new projects or renovations using the higher tax rate, since there's no guarantee the savings won't vanish next year.

If Bloomberg is set on property-tax cuts, he'd do better to at least enact a permanent tax cut - and then pledge to keep spending permanently in line to pay for it. But what the city's property-tax structure really needs is complete reform - rental-property owners and condo residents, for example, now pay far more than their fair share of property taxes, pushing costs up for free-market tenants and owners alike.

And in fact, to spur private investment in the city's economy, an income-tax cut would be better than a property-tax cut. A permanent cut in the city's top 3.6 percent income-tax rate, even a modest one, would have two positive effects.

First, it would encourage the creation of the new jobs the city constantly needs. Second, it would reduce New York's dangerous dependence on volatile tax revenue from Wall Streeters. These traders and others directly provide more than a fifth of city in- come-tax cash - but their incomes tend to fluctuate from year to year, creating wild swings in the city's annual surpluses and deficits.

As Nicole says -- make the tax cuts permanent. Whether commercial property or a single-family dwelling, it becomes very difficult to get people to come to NY to raise a family -- if there's not greater year-to-year tax relief. Why would someone move to New York if they knew that the odds were that they'd be facing a de farcto taxe hike, the following year?

Meanwhile, Bloomberg did even better for his ongoing school reform -- including accountability standards for principals, revising tenure eligibility for teachers (yep, that wailing howl you just heard was the city teachers union.

But most significantly, Bloomberg wants to:

overhaul a decades-old school funding system that, solely for political reasons, rewards some schools over others. You wont believe this, but today, funding gaps between comparable schools can top $1 million, or $2,000 per student, year after year.

That's not right and we're going to fix it.

Starting in September, we're going to fund students instead of schools, basing our investment on the number of students enrolled, and their particular needs. The goal is equitable funding among our schools and ensuring that each school has what it needs to teach its students.

The possible implications for this could be huge.

Tying funding formulas to students rather than schools has been a goal of school voucher advocates for years. As the New York Sun notes, Bloomberg's plan opens the door to a school choice/voucher discussion:
If the money is going to follow a student, why not let it follow him or her right into a private independent or parochial school?

So far the mayor and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, have opposed school vouchers, while enthusiastically backing charter schools. But the change they are proposing could one day allow a mayor and schools chancellor who succeed them — perhaps emboldened by the disappointing record of only incremental improvement within the public monopoly system, even under capable management — to try vouchers. Or at least it could give them a wedge for opening up the issue in Albany.

In liberal New York, Bloomberg undoubtedly can't be as candid as he might wish to be. However, one can't ignore the fact that the cumaulative impact of all of the changes that the mayor and his school chancellor have been making over the years -- accountabilty, more freedom for principals and now this revised funding formula -- is to take apart the schlerotic parts of the public school system and insert something that is far more child- and parent-centered.

Right now it is taking the principles of charter schools and making it system-based. A few years down the line, however, and we could be looking at voucher pilot programs in the Big Apple.

Oh, as for my observation above that one can only "almost" believe that this combination of tax cuts and education reform means Bloomberg is thinking of running for president as a real Republican, be advised that he also devoted a significant part of his speech to his favorite inter-state concern -- "illegal" guns!

C'est la vie.

UPDATE: I appeared this morning on local public radio station, WNYC's Brian Lehrer show, discussing Bloomberg's tax cuts. Listen to liberal pundit Andrea Batista Schlesinger who is on right before me, as I respond to a few of her comments.

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Mr. Lack-of-Deeds Goes to Town

Madscribe Ranting:
Now that the media glimmer has died down, the leftist news and opinion site Counterpunch has posted another anti-Obama article to throw water in the faces of uncritical liberals. While the Senator from Illinois/Hawaii/Indonesia may be too liberal for American Conservative types, apparently he is too conservative for the hard core left. In other words, maybe homeboy got his Clintonesque Triangulation down pat?

Meanwhile, the circus pulls into town as the left-of-Right Reverend Al Sharpton, along with other verifiers of cultural authenticity, have Sen. B.H.O. (not to be confused with BTO, BO, or HBO) in their sights. How dare this young upstart steal media focus from the usual suspects of the mainstream media!! And RAG's moderate cohort at NPR's News and Notes Roundtable, the erstwhile linguist John McWhorter, is now singing the praises of the Junior Senator from the Land of Lincoln after getting b-slapped for critical comments by black conservative women and others who will throw their ideological panties on the stage whenever Barak the Knife shows those pearly whites.

Finally, if Bill Clinton was actually the first Black President, and Obama is a black Bill Clinton, wouldn't the grammatical law of a double negative resolving to a positive statement mean that Obama would just be another white president?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

 

Brownback On Iraq

On the Senate floor, the Kansas senator weighed in today after his recent trip. He has a unique perspective:

We all wish the situation was better, but I am particularly disappointed. I’ve had a long-term interest in Iraq. When I first served in the United States Senate, first came to the Senate in 1996, I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and chaired the Middle East subcommittee that held some of the first hearings on what to do about Saddam Hussein’s regime.

I carried the Iraq Liberation Act on the floor of the Senate that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, I helped get the initial $100 million for the Iraqi National Congress top help organize the opposition to Saddam Hussein.

I attended the first INC meeting, the Iraqi National Congress meeting, with Senator Bob Kerry of Nebraska, and we both went to New York City to meet with the opposition about what to do about Saddam Hussein. I attended the first INC meeting in London. I have been committed to a free, safe and secure Iraq from the very beginning.

But during my meetings last week I found less reason for optimism. Sunni leaders blame everything on the Shi'a. Shi'a leaders, likewise, blame everything on the Sunnis. The Kurdish leadership pointed out that the Sunni and Shi'a only meet when the Kurds call the meeting.

All of this suggests that at the present time, the United States cares more about a peaceful Iraq than the Iraqis do. If that is the case, it is difficult to understand why more U.S. troops would make a difference.

One other bright spot I would talk about during my time in Iraq, as I previously noted, was my visit to the northern part of the country, the Kurdish region. Here, the security situation is stable and business is booming. Some number of people are moving out of Iraq, moving into the northern Iraq into the Kurdish region.

Kurds are demonstrating what is possible for the rest of Iraq when the violence recedes. Kurds are pragmatic; they are worried about committing Kurdish forces to Baghdad. I even asked Brazani, would he commit Kurdish forces for the peace in Baghdad? He declined to do so at that time, of actual Kurdish forces. They don’t want to get caught in the middle of the sectarian fight. If Iraqi Kurds feel this way, why should we feel any different?

Simply put, the Iraqis have to resolve these sectarian differences; we cannot do it for them. This does not mean we should pull out of Iraq and leave behind a security vacuum or a safe haven for terrorists. I do not support that alternative.

It does mean that there must be bipartisan agreement for our military commitment on Iraq. We cannot fight a war with the support of only one political party. And it does mean that the parties in Iraq--Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds--must get to a political agreement, to a political equilibrium.

I think most people agree that a cut and run strategy does not serve our interest at all, nor those of the world, nor those of the region, nor those of the Iraqi people. So I invite my colleagues, all around, particularly on the other side of the aisle, to indicate what level of commitment they can support.

We need to come together in Congress and as a nation on a strategy that will make real progress in Iraq and gain as much support as possible from the American people. Only a broadly supported, bipartisan strategy will allow us to remain in Iraq for the length of time necessary to ensure regional stability and the defeat the terrorists. And that is our object.

Consider it reflections of an Iraq hawk (with italicized emphases added).

UPDATE: After a visit, another GOP Senator expresses skepticism over Iraq, given the refusal of government to address Shiite militia. But, wait!! Prime Minister Maliki announces a round-up of 400 of the Sh'ia usual suspects.

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2006 All-Ed Team

If John Madden can do it, why not me?

So what does it take to get on my team? Much like Madden, I like attitude and a good work ethic. But I also like success. Stats don't hurt either.

Without further ado, here is the first annual "All-Ed Team".

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady, Patriots.
Most people would take Peyton Manning. While I have great respect for Manning, I want a winner at quarterback. I want a guy who can put the team on his own shoulders and carry them if necessary. While Manning is capable of doing that, I want the best man for the job.

I limited my search to guys who threw over 500 passes this season (sorry Phil Rivers) and guys whose teams made the playoffs (sorry Carson Palmer). These are the guys whose teams relied on them to win a lot, and they did. Then I came up with my own statistic: team wins per pass attempts. In other words, the biggest contribution was made to team wins every time these guys put the ball in the air.

The winner? Tom Brady, with .023 wins per pass attempt. Manning was second with .021.

Considering Brady came into this season without his favorite receiver (Deion Branch, who went to Seattle), it is amazing that
his stats only dropped a little from last year, but still remained quite respectable. Brady achieved just as many wins as Manning while throwing to no-names like Reche Caldwell and Ben Watson.

RUNNING BACKS: LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, and Frank Gore, 49ers
Tomlinson is a no-brainer. I won't beat the dead horse with why I picked him. There are plenty of articles out there if you don't know why.

Gore will require a bit of defending. For running backs with over 200 carries, Gore led them all in average yards per carry, with 5.4 yards. Considering he did this on a mediocre/bad team like the 49ers makes this accomplishment even more impressive. By comparison, LT only averaged 5.2 yards/carry on the awesome Chargers.

Anyone who watched Gore this year will tell you: this guy is special. He reminds me a lot of Marshall Faulk when Faulk was in his prime.

So why not Steven Jackson (Rams) or Larry Johnson (Chiefs)?

Jackson did not impress me as much as Gore did, mostly because the Rams had a much better passing game than the 49ers, so teams did not stack the line on Jackson like they did with Gore.

As for Johnson, the Chiefs over-utilized him, leading to his big numbers.

FULLBACKS: Lorenzo Neal, Chargers
I want the guy who helped Tomlinson put up those audacious numbers. Too many times this year during Charger games, I watched replays of great Tomlinson runs which included a great block by Neal.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Marvin Harrison, Colts, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals
I don't want guys like Terrell Owens on my team. I want guys like Marvin Harrison, who quietly put up the big numbers (95 catches for 1366 yards and 12 touchdowns) without glorifying themselves.

Speaking of not glorifying themselves, while Chad Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards (1369 yards), T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the Bengals in receptions (90) and receiving touchdowns (9), in spite of the fact that "Housh" missed the first two games of the season with an injury.

TIGHT END: Antonio Gates, Chargers
Aside from the fact Gates was the blocking tight end for the best running back in the NFL, just look at his receving numbers against the other tight ends:

Receptions: 71 versus 89 for Kellen Winslow of the Browns (Gates was 4th in this category)
Receiving Yards: 924 versus 900 for Tony Gonzalez of the Chiefs (Gates was 1st)
Receiving Touchdowns: 9 versus 8 for Alge Crumpler of the Falcons (Gates was 1st)

Gates is the best tight end in the game, period.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Washington Redskins
Why do you think Joe Gibbs wants to come back next year? Because he knows he has the first piece of a championship team in place with the best offensive line in the NFL.

There are certainly better individual blockers on other teams. But as a unit, there are none better overall than the Redskins.

The 2006 version of the "Hogs" were fifth in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempted, with .040. The Colts led the NFL with .026. However, the Colts were 18th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (110.1), while the Redskins were fourth with 138.5.

The Falcons led the NFL in rushing yards per game with 183.7, but they were also 31st in sacks allowed per attempt (.112).

Why not San Diego's offensive line? While the Chargers were second in rushing yards per game (161.1), they were also 11th in sacks allowed per attempt with .060.

KICKER: Robbie Gould, Bears
You have to love a kicker from the "Windy City" who leads all NFL kickers in scoring.

PUNTER: Brian Moorman, Bills
One of the better accuracy punters in the NFL.

KICK RETURNER: Justin Miller, Jets
If you want to know why the Jets made it to the playoffs, look no further than Justin Miller, who gave the Jets offense a short field to work on with his 28.3 yard kick return average. This was when he didn't take it all the way for a touchdown, which he did twice last season.

When you consider Miller did this while starting at cornerback for the Jets, that makes his dominant kick returning even more impressive.

PUNT RETURNER: Devin Hester, Bears
This was a close one between Hester and Pacman Jones of the Titans. They both had three touchdown returns. They both averaged over 12 yards per return.

The edge went to Hester with 11 returns of greater than 20 yards, versus 6 for Jones. Add in the fact that Jones is a showboat, and Hester wins running away.

OVERALL DEFENSE: Baltimore Ravens
I was going to name individual defensive players, and I will, but as I looked over the numbers, I could not get away from Baltimore. There were Ravens all over the defensive stats in every category.

Defensive sacks? Second in the NFL with 60, just one behind San Diego.

Run defense? Second in the NFL with 75.9 yards per game allowed, behind only Minnesota with 61.6. The Ravens also allowed only 3.3 yards per carry, second only to Minnesota with 2.8 yards per carry. However, the only reason Minnesota ranked so highly was because teams did not bother to run on them: Minnesota ranked 31st in passing yards allowed per game.

Pass defense? The Ravens were 6th with 188.2 yards allowed per game. The five teams ranked ahead of them had the following ranking in run defense (meaning teams did NOT have to pass on them as much): 25th (Oakland), 32nd (Indianapolis), 23rd (New Orleans), 11th (Carolina), and 8th (Miami). Realistically, the Ravens ranked 3rd in pass defense, with only 11 passing yards allowed total more than Carolina (3011 to 3000).

Interceptions? Baltimore was first with 28.

Add in the fact the Ravens play defense with an attitude, and it is hard for me to name an "All Ed" defense without them. Just add the following players to the Ravens defense, and you can stop anyone.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Aaron Kampman, Packers
There was not much good to say about the Packers this year, but Aaron Kampman was their best defensive end since Reggie White. With 15.5 sacks and 89 tackles, Kampman was a dominating defensive end.

LINEBACKERS: Zach Thomas, Dolphins, and DeMeco Ryans, Texans
Sorry, no love here for Shawne "Mr. Steroid" Merriman. Let him prove he can get 17 sacks without the juice, and we'll talk. Until then, let's give some love to the guys who do it without much help from their teammates.

Zach Thomas has always been a monster in the middle, and this year was no exception. He led the NFL with 165 total tackles (103 solo tackles) while defensing 10 passes.

On the other hand, DeMeco Ryans was a solo tackle monster, leading the NFL with 125. Just imagine how good Houston would be if they had another player making tackles?

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Champ Bailey, Broncos, and Asante Samuel, Patriots
When teams realized they could not exclusively throw to Darrent Williams (God rest his soul) side of the Denver defense, they learned a painful lesson: Champ Bailey is still a shutdown corner. With 10 picks, Bailey showed why he is the best corner in the NFL.

When you watch the Patriots play, the name you will inevitably hear on pass defense is Asante Samuel. The Patriots seem to find ways to get Samuel into position to make plays, and he does. Whether it is interceptions (10), tackles (64), or passes defensed (14), Samuel is all over the pass defense for the Patriots.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

 

Some Alarming News...

...from, uh, Alarming News!

The, uh, money quote: "He could have the $23 in my wallet...but not my ipod."

Glad Karol came out of the incident unscathed.

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Barack & Roll!

Kenya beat that! The freshman senator from Illinois is plunging into the '08 race:


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Another 24

Some people have an American Idol addiction. Mine is 24.

New season has begun with a bang! For those people who haven't seen the four-hour premiere, I won't spoil it here. However, there will be discussions in the Comments. Consider yourself warned.

Fayed. Assad. Curtis (it's always so cool being Jack's friend!). Nice suburban American families. Terrorists next door. Good Arabs. Bad Arabs. Walid. Sandra (outside of Twin Peaks, has there been a more dysfunctional family named Palmer?).

Just too much already!!!

One random observation: In Chloe's husband, Morris, the producers have managed to come up with a character even more annoying than Jack's daughter, Kim! Grrr....I don't need a love triangle soap opera in the middle of all these terrorist explosions.


Make war, not love!!!

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Sam's Club

Andrew Sullivan puts two and two together and comes up with a plausible rationale for a Sam Brownback candidacy: It seems that the white evangelical base has turned against the war. That's the group that has heretofore been most supportive of George W. Bush.

That's also Brownback quintessential group -- conservative on all the major social issues, but with the added twist that he happens to be a converted Catholic and has a serious interest in
African disease and poverty.

His take on these issues -- and reflecting the growing anti-war sensibilities of the evangelicals --makes him an immediate threat to Mitt Romney AND John McCain.

Interesting.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

 

Happy Birthday, MLK

Though still unfolding, your dream is enjoyed by millions -- and to a greater extent than you might have imagined in what is still a brief time since your passing.

UPDATE: Some nice video to watch and listen to, if you have the time:



UPDATE II: A nice montage of King photos with U2's "Pride (In The Name of Love)" playing as a soundtrack:

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Senate Smackdown

A rare, blunt, emotional exchange was seen on a Sunday talk show this weekend. On Meet the Press, pro-surge Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman explains why not supporting the surge is a call for defeat. Anti-surge GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel disagrees somewhat forcefully:


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

 

Ragged Thots Retro Record Review

Got 99 Problems, Plus Boxer is One
RAG's disgust below with the staccato siren of the solon of Sacramento serves as the starting point for Sunday's sonic
soirée (forgive me, I'm a student of the Agnew Academy of Alliteration). So, since I really don't have an album review for this week readied, I thought I'd highlight a great song that fits the bloviating of Boxer and her cheap shot at Secretary Rice and any woman, Republican or Democrat, that chooses not to fall in line with the shrill harpies of left-liberal feminism.

"P-Control" - Prince
Since this is Prince, the "P" actually stands for a word that would not be polite to spell out in mixed company. We'll just paraphrase Barbara Bush and say, "Rhymes with Wussie." Now, once you get past the coda's masculine bravado and the gratuitously peppered expletives, this is actually a great song about female advancement. "P-Control" was the first track off of the Munchkin of Minneapolis' 1995 album, The Gold Experience. When I first heard the CD, I thought that Symbol-Man was returning to his former greatness (he lost me after the lamp-shade video, around 1992). Unfortunately, he then dropped that triple-sized turd Emancipation on the public, and I realized we were still in the reign of Purple Pain.

Clean up the lyrics, and "P-Control" could be Condaleeza Rice's theme song! A little black girl endures the pathologies of the inner city, learns the benefit of delayed gratification versus the instant gratification of today's youth culture, and keeps her mind focused on academics until she becomes a power-broker:

Our story begins in a schoolyard
A little girl skipping rope with her friends
A tisket, a tasket, no lunch in her basket
Just school books 4 the fight she would be in

Think of this as the punk-funk version of Bill Cosby's current lectures around the country. And even though our Secretary of State is a tad too demure to sing the penultimate verse, it contains a wonderful line that would have served as a fine b-slap to Boxer, Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, and Donna Brazille ("Three sisters and a weepy-eyed white girl / driving a hog").

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