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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What the fuck is wrong with these people

John Tierney's favorite

The Happiest Wives

Published: February 28, 2006


This new egalitarian marriage was hailed by academics and relationship gurus as a recipe for a happier union. As wives went off to work and husbands took on new jobs at home, couples would supposedly have more in common and more to talk about. Husbands would do more "emotion work," as sociologists call it, and wives would be more fulfilled.

That was the theory tested by the Virginia sociologists, Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock, who analyzed a survey of more than 5,000 couples. Sure enough, they found that husbands' "emotion work" was crucial to wives' happiness. Having an affectionate and understanding husband was by far the most important predictor of a woman's satisfaction with her marriage.

But it turns out that an equal division of labor didn't make husbands more affectionate or wives more fulfilled. The wives working outside the home reported less satisfaction with their husbands and their marriages than did the stay-at-home wives. And among those with outside jobs, the happiest wives, regardless of the family's overall income, were the ones whose husbands brought in at least two-thirds of the money.

These male providers-in-chief were regarded fondly by even the most feminist-minded women — the ones who said they believed in dividing duties equally. In theory these wives were egalitarians, but in their own lives they preferred more traditional arrangements.

"Women today expect more help around the home and more emotional engagement from their husbands," Wilcox says. "But they still want their husbands to be providers who give them financial security and freedom."

These results, of course, are just averages. Plenty of people are happy with different arrangements — including Nock, who makes less than his wife and does the cooking at home. He says that nontraditional marriages may be a strain on many women simply because they've been forced to be social pioneers. "As society adjusts to women's new roles," he says, "women may become happier in egalitarian marriages."

But I'd bet there's a limit to egalitarianism. Consider what's happened with housework, that perpetual sore point. From the 1960's through the 80's, wives cut back on housework as husbands did more. In the 1990's, though, the equalizing trend leveled off, leaving wives still doing nearly twice as much of the work at home.

That seems terribly unfair unless you look at how men and women behave when they're living by themselves: the women do twice as much housework as the men do. Single men do less cooking and cleaning, because those jobs don't seem as important to them. They can live with unmade beds and frozen dinners.

Similarly, there's a gender gap in enthusiasm for some outside jobs. Men are much more willing to take a job that pays a premium in exchange for long hours away from home or the risk of being killed. The extra money doesn't seem as important to women.


"A woman wants equity," he says. "That's not necessarily the same as equality."

What is wrong with him and Brooks. They really like to think women as less than men.

posted by Steve @ 10:22:00 AM

10:22:00 AM

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Yeah, he IS an alleged crook

Best Friends Forever

Prosecutors Are Said to Have Eavesdropped on Kerik's Calls

Published: February 28, 2006

Bronx prosecutors investigating former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik obtained a court order to tap his cellular telephone last summer and listened to his calls for two months, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

For more than a year, the prosecutors, along with lawyers from city's Department of Investigation, have been investigating who paid for several hundred thousand dollars in renovations on Mr. Kerik's apartment in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The work on the apartment was done in late 1999 and early 2000.

Bronx prosecutors and Department of Investigation lawyers have been presenting evidence to a grand jury in the Bronx since earlier this month, and officials have said as many as 50 witnesses will testify as part of the inquiry. Grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret.

It is unclear whether the court-ordered eavesdropping developed evidence that will be presented to the panel. To get the wiretap, prosecutors would have been required to persuade a judge they had probable cause to believe that a crime was being committed.

As required by law, people who were called by Mr. Kerik on the cellphone were notified of the court-ordered eavesdropping, according to one of the people with knowledge of the case.

The offices of the Bronx district attorney, Robert Johnson, and the Department of Investigation commissioner, Rose Gill Hearn, would not comment yesterday on the eavesdropping. Both officials have also declined to discuss the investigation into the apartment and any other matters involving Mr. Kerik that have come under scrutiny.

But the authorities in New Jersey said last November that Mr. Kerik had accepted more than $200,000 in work on the apartment from a construction company accused of having ties to organized crime while he helped the company pursue business with New York City.

The New Jersey officials, lawyers for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, have been trying to revoke a license that allows the construction company, Interstate Industrial Corporation, to work at casinos in Atlantic City.

Mr. Kerik has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Yesterday, his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, reiterated his denials and repeated Mr. Kerik's position that he welcomed "a full-blown and open investigation." He added, "I want Bernie's name cleared once and for all."

Bwaaah. It will be kinda hard to run for president when your boy is facing a federal indictment for corruption and being mobbed up.

posted by Steve @ 12:32:00 AM

12:32:00 AM

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This just sucks

Shit happens

Kos points out the obvious

Why the Dubai port deal is dangerous to America
by kos
Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 09:59:56 PM PDT

I know the Bushbot and their GOP allies are now falling in line behind their president, eager to let the supremely undemocratic (and terrorist sympathizing) UAE have access to major gateways into our nation.

You see, while we're supposed to invade countries without cause, torture prisoners, surrender civil liberties, get spied on by our government -- all in the name of "national security", pesky things such as "national security" shouldn't get in the way of commerce. Especially with some of Bush's best Middle Eastern pals who are also big Osama Bin Laden pals. (Is that one or two degrees of separation?)

Yet a real counter-terrorism expert under this administration gives reasons why the deal is a bad, bad thing.

Joseph King, who headed the customs agency's anti-terrorism efforts under the Treasury Department and the new Department of Homeland Security, said national security fears are well grounded.

He said a company the size of Dubai Ports World would be able to get hundreds of visas to relocate managers and other employees to the United States. Using appeals to Muslim solidarity or threats of violence, al-Qaeda operatives could force low-level managers to provide some of those visas to al-Qaeda sympathizers, said King, who for years tracked similar efforts by organized crime to infiltrate ports in New York and New Jersey. Those sympathizers could obtain legitimate driver's licenses, work permits and mortgages that could then be used by terrorist operatives.

Dubai Ports World could also offer a simple conduit for wire transfers to terrorist operatives in the Middle East. Large wire transfers from individuals would quickly attract federal scrutiny, but such transfers, buried in the dozens of wire transfers a day from Dubai Ports World's operations in the United States to the Middle East would go undetected, King said.

But for Bush, business cronyism tops national security concerns.

posted by Steve @ 12:22:00 AM

12:22:00 AM

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Leavin' on a jet plane

I'd rather be in Kentucky

Some days Nick Kristof is clueless. Somedays not

The Soldiers Speak. Will President Bush Listen?
Published: February 28, 2006

When President Bush held a public meeting with troops by satellite last fall, they were miraculously upbeat. And all along, unrepentant hawks (most of whom have never been to Iraq) have insisted that journalists are misreporting Iraq and that most soldiers are gung-ho about their mission.

Hogwash! A new poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq — and soon.

The poll is the first of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, "How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?"

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw "immediately."

That's one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even the American troops on the ground don't buy into it — and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale.

While the White House emphasizes the threat from non-Iraqi terrorists, only 26 percent of the U.S. troops say that the insurgency would end if those foreign fighters could be kept out. A plurality believes that the insurgency is made up overwhelmingly of discontented Iraqi Sunnis.

So what would it take to win in Iraq? Maybe that was the single most depressing finding in this poll.

By a two-to-one ratio, the troops said that "to control the insurgency we need to double the level of ground troops and bombing missions." And since there is zero chance of that happening, a majority of troops seemed to be saying that they believe this war to be unwinnable.

No shit. Soldiers say upbeat things to keep their families from worrying and to avoid hassles with command.

But from Kos diaries, letters to Stars and Stripes and the rest, they want to go home and end the war.

posted by Steve @ 12:13:00 AM

12:13:00 AM

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The disgrace of Major League Baseball

Buck O'Neil

O'Neil not going to Cooperstown

The Kansas City Star

Buck O’Neil was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on this morning, preventing him from the same honor he helped so many others receive as the Negro Leagues’ greatest ambassador.

It was likely the last chance to be inducted into the Hall for the 94-year-old O’Neil, who was on the ballot with 38 other Negro Leagues players, managers and contributors. O’Neil needed to receive nine votes from a 12-person special committee that convened in Tampa, Fla., this weekend and announced its vote Monday afternoon.

Years of campaigning from friends and baseball luminaries were not enough to boost O’Neil’s career as a player, which was stellar but not Hall-worthy, according to critics of the Kansas City icon.

Supporters lauded O’Neil’s accomplishments beyond his playing days. As a player with the Kansas City Monarchs, O’Neil won two Negro Leagues batting titles. As a manager for the Monarchs, he piloted one of black baseball’s most storied franchises to five Negro Leagues pennants. As a scout for the Chicago Cubs, he discovered Lou Brock and Ernie Banks. As a coach for the Cubs, he became the first African-American on a Major League Baseball staff.

From that point on, O’Neil dedicated himself to spreading the story of the Negro Leagues. He was affable and friendly, always smiling and willing to pose for pictures. O’Neil drew in an audience with his openness and enraptured it with his stories about everything from the ills of segregation to why Negro Leagues great Satchel Paige called him Nancy.

In 1990, the museum opened and gave O’Neil a new avenue and greater audience. He still travels the country speaking to adults and children alike, fanning himself out in hopes of bringing others in.

“Without Buck,” museum spokesman Bob Kendrick said, “we aren’t here.”

O’Neil championed the Negro Leagues player forgotten after the first special election that saw nine players inducted. After Hilton Smith gained entry in 2001, the number of Negro Leaguers in the Hall of Fame was 18.

“I don’t even want to think about making it,” O’Neil said in January. “It would take too much energy, and I need to save mine for better things.

They elected two white people and a convicted criminal, but not O'Neil. People should flood MLB with letters, but the odds are this will hardly be mentioned outside sports radio and Olbermann

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 AM

12:02:00 AM

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Holden, there is a pony for you at reception

Part of Holden's new stable

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low

NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2006

(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.

The troubling results for the Bush administration come amid reminders about the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and negative assessments of how the government and the president have handled it for six months.

In a separate poll, two out of three Americans said they do not think President Bush has responded adequately to the needs of Katrina victims. Only 32 percent approve of the way President Bush is responding to those needs, a drop of 12 points from last September’s poll, taken just two weeks after the storm made landfall.
Holden is one of the First Draft bloggers and an Atrios regular who predicted that Bush would go below 40 percent, and if he did, he would get a pony.

Here is his pony

posted by Steve @ 12:00:00 AM

12:00:00 AM

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Monday, February 27, 2006

We support our troops pt 89

Don't leave if you want decent

Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer 8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.

In fact, the proposed cuts are so draconian that it seems to some that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. More realistic numbers, however, would raise doubts as to whether Bush can keep his promise to wrestle the deficit under control by the time he leaves office.

"Either the administration is proposing gutting VA health care over the next five years or it is not serious about its own budget," said Rep. Chet Edwards (news, bio, voting record) of Texas, top Democrat on the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "If the proposals aren't serious, then that would undermine the administration's argument that they intend to reduce the deficit in half over the next several years."

In fact, the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.

"Each year the budget numbers go up," said Jeff Schrade, spokesman for Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Larry Craig, R-Idaho. "Speculation beyond 2007's budget is, at this point, just speculation."

But without the cuts, Bush's plan to halve the deficit would be far more difficult to achieve. For example, just freezing the budget for veterans' medical services below $27 billion understates the deficit for 2009 by perhaps $5 billion.
No comment, other than total and complete disgust

posted by Steve @ 7:50:00 PM

7:50:00 PM

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State of the Black Union Rebroadcast: 8:30 PM EST TONIGHT

The State of the Black Union 2006

If you want to understand how black America really thinks, you can watch this from the C-SPAN site

State of the Black Union 2006: Defining the Agenda

Event Date: February 25, 2006
Location: Houston, Texas
Last Aired: February 27, 2006
Length: 4 hours, 50 minutes

Smiley Group

Akbar, Na'im - Professor, University of Florida, Psychology
Belafonte, Harry - Entertainer
Blackwell, Angela Glover - Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
Brown, Raymond - Representative, National Action Network
Bryant, Jamal-Harrison - Minister, Empowerment Temple A.M.E. (Baltimore)
Crenshaw, Kimberle Williams - President, African American Policy Forum
Dziko, Trish Millines - Executive Director, Technology Access Foundation
Farrakhan, Louis - Minister, Nation of Islam
Harris, Kamala D. - District Attorney, San Francisco, CA
Henderson, Wade - Executive Director, Leadership Conf. on Civil Rights
Jackson, Harry R. - Founder and Chairman, High Impact Leadership Coalition
Jackson-Lee, Sheila (D-TX) - U.S. Representative
Lazu, Malia - National Field Director, Institute for Policy Studies, Cities for Progress
Lowery, Joseph E. - Chairman Emeritus, Black Leadership Forum
Lynch, Shola - Filmmaker
Marsh, Victor - Graduate Student, Princeton University
Ringo, Jerome C. - Chair, National Wildlife Federation, Board of Directors
Seymore, Alvin - Survivor
Sharpton, Al - Presidential Candidate, Democratic Party
Shelton, Jim - Program Director, Gates (Bill and Melinda) Foundation, Education Division
Siegal, Max - Vice President, Zomba Records
Smiley, Tavis - Talk Show Host, PBS
Smith, Ian - Physician
Smith, Rochelle - Survivor
Watt, Melvin (D-NC) - U.S. Representative
West, Cornel - Professor, Princeton University, African-American Studies
Winters, Jackie (R) - State Senator, Oregon
Wright, Remus E. - Minister, Fountain of Praise (Houston, TX)

The afternoon session of State of the Black Union 2006 titled, "Defining the African American Agenda, Part II," focused on the State of the Black Union 2005 proposal for a covenant with black America. Panelists discussed the challenges facing the black community, ideas proposed in the book, The Covenant with Black America, and future leadership within the black community. They also talked about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast communities and the significance of poor federal response efforts to the disaster for future national policy. They also responded to questions submitted by members of the audience. The Covenant with Black America, published by Third World Press, was edited by Tavis Smiley who moderated the two panels. It outlines ten issues identified by the public: education, criminal justice system, police accountability, healthcare and well being, economic development and employment, housing and community development, participating in the democratic process, information technology, rural communities, and environmental justice. Angela Blackwell was misidentified on-screen. The event was held at St. Agnes Baptist Church, and concluded with a performance by Fred Hammond.

posted by Steve @ 6:30:00 PM

6:30:00 PM

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No clean water in Iraq

Watch out for the e-coli

This is a from a Daily Kos diary

Disturbing E-Mail I received from a Soldier in Iraq
by nyceve
Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 10:29:07 AM PDT

Brief history:

My mother was renting a summer house last year near a military base. She befriended several of the soldiers in a local restaurant. She became friends with one in particular who wanted to write to people "stateside" while in Iraq.

For obvious reasons, I will not identify where my mother was living at the time or the base this soldier was assigned to.

She told him I would love to be a pen pal so he and I have been exchanging emails for some time now. This is the first one I've received from him with any real information about what is going on in Iraq.

My reaction:

U.S. Military cannot provide our troops with drinking water?

U.S. Military cannot provide our troops with adequate plumbing facilities?

E coli in the drinking water?

How are our brave men and women of the armed forces supposed to fight the global war on terror living in these sub-standard conditions?

We know many soldiers do not have adequate body armor. Now we learn they don't have clean drinking water either.

Well Eve,
My life here is verry different than I ever wxpected to be living that is for sure. I dont even know where to start. I also dont want you to feel bad for me when I tell you some of this stuff. First of all we hardly ever have hot water. That is when we still have water because they have to truck all of our water in from the local villages. Next the septic system here is set up for about half of the people that use it. That leads to the weak link which happens to be in the bathroom that is in my section of the berthing. You know what that means. That means that when she is full the overflow comes up our sinks and spreads poo all over the floor. Also with the water they test it and every time it comes up with ecoli. They had three kinds of bottled water here for us and two of the three kinds have bacteria in them. The last thing that bugs me about this place is there is all kinds of mold on the walls where we sleep. There is mold right next to my head throught the whole night.

The whole civil war thing is not affecting us yet except for the mail. We cannot go and get the mail because of that crap.

I am sorry that I am rambeling but I have to cut myself off right now I could go on all night long!!!!

Given the circumstances I think that we have pretty high spirits!!!

I will write later
Your Friend in Iraq,

There's nothing I can add.

In spite of everything, he writes their spirits are high. Makes you want to weep.

Can you imagine George Bush living with shit all over the floor?

The whole miserable situation speaks for itself.

posted by Steve @ 6:04:00 PM

6:04:00 PM

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Oh my God, I agree with this guy

That's right, I'm looking at you

I am in shock. An article about blogging in which I don't have to make snarky remarks.

Blog Epitaphs? Get Me Rewrite!
Rumors of Blogs' Demise Are Exaggerated,
But a Lot Less Obsession Would Be Healthy
February 27, 2006

Maybe you've heard: Blogs are a vanishing fad -- this year's digital Pet Rock. Or a business bubble about to pop. Or a sucker's bet for new-media fame seekers.

Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers' dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can't get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate's Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was "somewhere between nil and negative." From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross's name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.

Reports of blogging's demise are bosh, but if we're lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.

My bet: Within a couple of years blogging will be a term thrown around loosely -- and sometimes inaccurately -- to describe a style and rhythm of writing, as well as the tools to publish that writing. This is already happening: One of the chief problems with some chronicles of blogging's demise is their confusion about definitions, a confusion that's mirrored in efforts to measure blogs' popularity or to say anything that can apply to bloggers as a group.

Take Gallup's poll. Beyond flat to declining blog traffic, it found just 9% of Internet users read blogs frequently, 11% do so occasionally, 13% rarely bother, and 66% never do. And "reading blogs" ranked last in a list of 13 common Internet activities, below things like emailing, checking news and weather, and shopping.

So, the real world things I do come before reading? No shit.

But I wonder if people realize what blogs are. I think a lot of people read them and have no idea that they have a specific name. Daily Candy and Wonkette and Gawker are no different than Page Six or Lucky and there isn't that segregation between the two.

My feeling that a lot of people read things which bloggers consider blogs and have no idea that they are specifically blogs.

posted by Steve @ 5:49:00 PM

5:49:00 PM

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Damn that integrity

Wouldn't touch it with a ten foot poll

Bah Hummer

Indie rockers reject big money from the king of gas guzzlers
By Otis Hart
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Thermals, a rambunctious rock band from Portland, Ore., were en route between gigs last year when they got a phone call from their label, Sub Pop. Hummer wanted to pay them $50,000 for the right to use their song "It's Trivia" in a commercial.

Portland, Ore., trio The Thermals turned down a $50,000 licensing deal from Hummer.

Trans Am, an electronic rock band from Washington, spurned $180,000 in ad money from Hummer.

"We thought about it for about 15 seconds, maybe," lead singer Hutch Harris said.

They said no.

The post-punk band LiLiPUT, who broke up more than 20 years ago, could have pocketed $50,000 for "Heidi's Head" after making close to nothing during their five-year existence. But they, too, said no.

"At least I can sleep without nightmares," Marlene Marder reasoned.


Lyle Hysen runs Bank Robber Music, a licensing group that pitches songs to film, television and advertisement companies. He's gotten his clients featured in shows like "Six Feet Under" and "The L Word" and in car ads by Volkswagen and Jaguar.

Hummer, however, has been a nonstarter.

"My standard line is you guys will play a hundred million gigs before you see this amount of money," Hysen said. "Usually they come back with, 'We'll do anything BUT Hummer.'"

"It's not about the money," Manley said. "It's the principle."

While multi-platinum artists like Talking Heads and Smashing Pumpkins have declined, more of the "thanks-but-no-thanks" crowd are musicians who would benefit greatly by the exposure that accompanies a national ad campaign, like electronic artists Caribou and Four Tet, or acid-bluesmen the Soledad Brothers.

"It had to be the worst product you could give a song to," Harris said. "It was a really easy decision. How could we go on after soundtracking Hummer? It's just so evil."


Lance Jensen, president of the advertising agency Modernista, is the creative mind behind the Hummer campaign, and has seen firsthand what prime-time, 30-second spots can do for unheard artists — six years ago, he used cult-folk hero Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" in a Volkswagen commercial, which single-handedly triggered a Drake renaissance and probably led to what we now call "yup-rock" (polite indie rock for the upwardly mobile).


Jensen's Modernista has produced some of the most innovative car commercials ever. They avoid pitchmen — hell, they avoid people most of the time — and focus on visual spectacle. And a big part of attracting eyeballs is giving people a sound that will turn their heads.

Unfortunately for Hummer, many artists aren't listening.

Getting music into ads has been a lifesaver for established musicians like Sting and Paul McCartney. These people are doing more than passing up a fat paycheck by having integrity, but national exposure which could lead to much more money, maybe even a hit record.

This is no small decision.

posted by Steve @ 5:31:00 PM

5:31:00 PM

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Slacking to ignominy

Rollin' down the river

I wouldn't reach back to beat up on Bode Miller again, but this is just brilliant and needs to be read.

The President and Mr. Miller

Bode Miller was the perfect candidate for the packaged American Hero, a good-lucking lad who played the rebel to perfection for the image-makers, and ran with the hype and the credit card ads to the 2006 Olympics. Miller was a portable symbol of American lone rangers, the guy who did it his way and reached for the gold. Except he didn't reach. He turned up hollow and empty and unwilling to sacrifice. He skiied off the course, and he skiied off the story-line.

Just as the Bridge to Nowhere is the perfect metaphor for rudderless national leader of the Republican Party, so the ski bum Bode Miller and his devil-may-care attitude toward spectacular failure on the world stage makes a fine stand-in for the President of the United States.

Compare the scorecards. Downhill, Combined, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom ... 5th, Disqualified, Did Not Finish, 6th, Did Not Finish. Spygate, Iraq, Katrina, Torture, Port Security. Or pick your own issues, any issues. No medals, folks - just ignominy and embarassment before the world. What Bode Miller is to Olympic triumph, George Bush is to Presidential history, flopping off the slick course of national politics like James Buchanan in Team USA spandex.

Of course, it's one thing to be an over-hyped, overweight slalom slacker hanging out till all hours in the bars of Turin, letting down your sponsors, your teammates, and your fans. To me, athletes never really let their countries down - that nationalistic stuff is just for T-shirt sales. The Olympic movement is about as idealistic as the Nike advertising budget. In the end, Bode Miller really disgraced no one but himself. His stupid little episode will fade, and his moment on the public stage is nearly at an end. George Bush's incredible failure will be with us for many, many years. Increasingly isolated (if that's possible) and with his dream team riddled by buckshot and scandal, our national ski bum has the country on the icy, dangerous downhill towards disaster.

George Bush in the flight suit on that carrier was Bode Miller in the Nike ads before the Olympics, all image and promise. No substance and sacrifice, no guts and inner fire. Here's what Mr. Miller told the (obviously angry) team at NBC Sports:

"The expectations were other people's. I'm comfortable with what I've accomplished, including at the Olympics ... I wanted to have fun here, to enjoy the Olympic experience, not be holed up in a closet and not ever leave your room. I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level ... I just did it my way. I'm not a martyr, and I'm not a do-gooder. I just want to go out and rock. And man, I rocked here."

Replace Olympics and Olympic with Presidency and Presidential, and how far are you really from the life and times of George W. Bush - who, after all, can always say he got to party and socialize on the Presidential level after a life partying and socializing on the silver spoon circuit.

Bode Miller is right. He is not a martyr. And he has absolutely nothing in common with the American men and women who are dying in our name in the streets of Iraqi cities as the Bush-triggered civil war rages. He has nothing in common with the 2,500 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is nothing like the young Americans in military hospitals in Germany and Maryland and Texas and elsewhere, kids missing limbs and suffering paralysis and blindness, young people who time and time again tell the politicians and reporters who come around their beds: "I just want to get back to my unit."

Bode Miller is just another selfish American, another potent symbol of our self-satisfied society, but at least he doesn't ask more from others than he is willing to contribute himself. His failure is his own.

George Bush's failure is ours.

UPDATE: I have apparently offended Mr. Miller's "Bodelicious" fans by comparing him (favorably) to the President of the U.S. Here's a sample of the mail I'm getting: "I wanted to remind you - George W. Bush did not achieve anything, while Bode Miller has achieved a lot." I love this medium! (Oh, and for all you Bode defenders - nice how he treated his hometown newspaper columnist).

posted by Steve @ 2:33:00 AM

2:33:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Yah think?

No shit

Kristol: “We Have Not Had A Serious Three-Year Effort To Fight A War In Iraq”

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, one the staunches defenders of the administration’s policy in Iraq, said the war in Iraq was not a “serious effort.”


BILL KRISTOL: There would not be civil war if Zarqawi had not spent the last 2 1/2 years – had ex-Saddamists with him, very skillfully going on the offensive slaughtering Shia in Karbala, now blowing up the mosque.

CHRIS WALLACE: They’re there. There are going to be more mosques to blow up. What do you do about the terrorists?

KRISTOL: Kill them. Defeat them.

CHRIS WALLACE: We’ve been trying.

KRISTOL: We’ve been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.

CICI CONNELLY: I think that really begs the question then: what have we been doing over there for three-plus years? You say there hasn’t been a serious effort to rid that region of the terrorists. I just wonder what secretary Rumsfeld would say in response to that or all the U.S. soldiers who have been over there all this time.

KRISTOL: Secretary Rumsfeld’s plan was to draw town to 30,000 troops at the end of major activities.

Essentially, Kristol claims the Iraq war — which he was sure would be a smashing success — isn’t working out because Donald Rumsfeld is Michael Moore.

Another question: Mr. Kristol, if the administration’s policy in Iraq the last three years has not been a “serious effort” why have you spent the last three years defending it?

I agree completely .

The whole war has been halfassed from day one. From the way the CPA was hired to the misuse of the Guard and Reserve, to the reliance on exiles who had no real standing in Iraq

Yep, not serious at all.

Except for him

posted by Steve @ 2:15:00 AM

2:15:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Pay your share, Wal Mart

Sorry, not for Wal Mart

Wal-Mart Chief Makes Plea to States on Health Care Costs

Published: February 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — With Wal-Mart Stores under mounting pressure to spend more on employee health insurance, the company's chief executive on Sunday urged the nation's governors not to pass legislation that would burden the giant retailer, and pledged to work with the governors to move workers off state Medicaid rolls.

The executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., said that state bills aimed at improving Wal-Mart's benefits "may score short-term political points, but they won't solve America's health care challenges."

Mr. Scott said that Wal-Mart's health plans were "not perfect" but that the company was committed to improving the health care system by expanding its benefits and by opening low-cost medical clinics for workers and the public in its stores.

Trying to broaden a debate over employer health care plans that has focused heavily on Wal-Mart, Mr. Scott said: "At the end of the day, this is not about me. It is not about Wal-Mart. And it is not about you. It is about all of us and what we can do to keep this country great."

The speech, given at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association here, was directed at an increasingly important constituency for Wal-Mart: state leaders who have veto power over legislation aimed at forcing Wal-Mart to spend more on health care.

More than 20 states have introduced such legislation this year, and even though few of the bills have a serious chance of becoming law, according to state leaders, their very existence underscores how big a political problem health care has become for Wal-Mart.

In a bit of political theater, Mr. Scott pledged to travel to any governor's office to discuss health care, offering to lend the company's legendary technology expertise to help manage the cost of benefits.

"The only thing I ask," he said, in an apparent jab at various proposed health care bills, "is that we talk about real solutions to the health care challenges facing working families."


Christine Gregoire, the Democratic governor of Washington, said that 20 percent of Wal-Mart workers in her state received public health care assistance. After Mr. Scott's speech, she said that this was "a problem that he has to solve."

Wal Mart is the largest modern American corporaton to not provide benefits to their workers. The Walton family are bilionaires. There is no excuse for this.

posted by Steve @ 1:23:00 AM

1:23:00 AM

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Volunteer, chickenhawks

See, Bush recruit a volunteer. I heard
he contributed some cash

Dear Steve,

Grassroots supporters like you are the strength of our Party. It was you who re-elected President Bush, and you who made possible our Republican majorities. The key to making history in these critical midterm elections is simple: volunteers like you going door-to-door, talking to your neighbors, and getting out the vote.

We're now ramping up our 2006 Volunteer program, and we need your help. Will you sign up as a GOP Volunteer in 2006? And will you ask five friends to join you as GOP Volunteers?

The election is still eight months away - but building on the lessons of 2002 and 2004, we are already establishing an aggressive and technologically superior grassroots effort to keep Republicans working for a safer America and put the Democrats on defense in the bluest of the blue states. Recruit five new people to join the GOP Team, and we'll make victory a reality.

The days of campaigns run from the top down from headquarters are over. By volunteering today at, you'll get the tools you need to start building support in your neighborhood, from recruiting 5 of your friends, to correcting biased media through letters to the editor and blogs, to organizing your own parties and campaign events, to many more new volunteer tools we'll be unveiling throughout the year. As a GOP Volunteer, we'll connect you to volunteer opportunities at the local level, in elections that matter to you.

There is no one better to carry the Republican message to your community than you. As Republicans, we can't rely on the mainstream media to get out the truth and we don't have well-funded labor unions and outside groups pouring in millions to fund "grassroots" in the final days of an election. That's why we need you.

With so much at stake in 2006, will you help lay the groundwork for victory by recruiting 5 volunteers?


Black folks better wake up.

This bullshit about having a foot in both camps is fantasy.

The reality is that we have one party which runs on white supremacy and one which doesn't. So trying to join the party which runs on the subjugation of black people is not the way to progress.

I believe Ken Mehlman is honest in his attempt to get black voters. The problem is that he's a man alone. Most of his party is still running against black people. You don't have to love the Dems to know the GOP is dedicated to vilifying blacks and latinos while reaching out for their votes.

Want to know if this is true?

See if they support bills to allow felons to vote in states where they can't.

You know, the kind of voters Rita Cosby thinks the Dems are hunting for. I guess being a cheap Nancy Grace imitator isn't enough. Dressing and looking cheap is extra.

You know, I never thought Nancy Grace could have virtues other than a relentenless pursuit of the "guilty". I guess not hating black people on the spot is another.

As long as middle class blacks pretend the GOP wants them, the longer the attacks on black people will continue. Look at who they run for them: cowards.

Tavis Smiley had his yearly forum yesterday and he invited the negro Republicans. Blackwell accepted and then cancelled, HUD secretary Alphonso Jackson cancelled, while staying in the same hotel as Smiley. Steele turned him down.

Why are they afraid to appear before a room full of black people?

posted by Steve @ 12:53:00 AM

12:53:00 AM

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Medicine Show Carney Act Plays On

How people with no other marketable skills made money before the Internet

Jen here. Over the past 48 hours or so, I received the following three emails in my InBox, and many others like them, which I thoughtfully shared with Gilly.

First I got this:

Tue. Feb. 28th:
Tue. Feb. 28, 7:30-10:00 am
Marriott Marquis, Wilder Room, 46th B'way
Wayne Reuvers, CEO, LiveTechnology
Michael Elling, Principal, Information Velocity Partners
Michael Christian Shimbo,CEO, Concert
Shen Tong, CEO, VFinity

IP TV is a broad term for the next wave of TV Internet convergence. What does it mean if TV has the same interactivity as the Internet or that it uses the same pipes? The answer is a lot more than entertainment or interactive TV. It is a whole new way of doing business for everything from Advertising - think of AdSense for all mediums but with streamed and visual ads - to music and business tracking of TV assets and appearances. And more..... As IP TV ripples through the business world, it has the power to transform it in surprising ways. Advertising, communications, management, medicine, small business and end users will all experience a shift in their landscape. This event opens up a new world of possiblities for the next Internet Revolution.
Networking Breakfast 7:30-8:30am Presentations: 8:30-10:00am

Networking Breakfast 7:30-8:30am
Presentations: 8:30-10:00am

REGISTER: no link for you!
$50 members - $60 non-members in advance
Individual $155 (6 Free Credits) Corporate $350 (12 FREE assignable credits)

Special Offer to Attend Collaborative Communications Summit
CCS 2006 Mon-Tue. Feb. 27-28
SAVE $100: SPECIAL OFFER FOR IBREAKFAST $349 You can't afford to miss this event if your company is involved in Visual Communications, Web Conferencing, VOIP, Instant Messaging, Real Time Presence-aware Collaboration Tools and Services, Knowledge Management Team Collaboration Tools, and Mobile Collaboration Tools. Network with decision makers and leaders in the industry. We will feature many social gatherings during the show where you can build revenue and customers, develop leads, and meet potential strategic partners.
February 27-28, 2006 Marriot Marquis Times Square

That very same day, I got this:

Dear Friends of Location One:

the talk scheduled for tonight, Wednesday February 22nd at 7pm
has been P O S T P O N E D to

Wednesday MARCH 22nd at 7pm

Please mark your calendars

** Folksonomies and the Mental Habits of Classification **

Clay Shirky writes about Economics & Culture, Media & Community, Open Source
and teaches at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program.
Join his mailing list at (link deleted)

26 Greene Street
New York NY 10013

******************** L O C A T I O N O N E is a not-for-profit organization devoted to convergence between visual, performing and digital arts in a time of rapidly changing technology. We invite artists from different disciplines and from different countries to work in our studios. We ask them to experiment with the new technologies of artistic creation, interaction and delivery. We urge them to collaborate in creating new works and give them virtual Internet spaces and physical gallery space to exhibit the results. Our goals are to foster the creation of new work, new forms of expression, and new capabilities in artists, and to advance new awareness in all those we reach.

Now, I really have nothing against Clay. Gilly has more to say on that particular subject, so I'll let him chop in his comments when he gets a chance. However, suffice it to say that I don't have a particularly high opinion of ITP or similar programs. Their mantra really does seem to be "you too can get a programmer's salary and throw around bullshit technical terms without ever having to learn any of that icky programming math or other scary things." I'll say more on that later. In the interim, let me share one other email that I got:

PC Forum 2006
March 12 to 14
La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, CA

Dear Jen:

If you still want to meet the executives, technologists and venture capitalists that are changing the way our lives are lived and our businesses are managed - register today for PC Forum 2006, March 12 to 14

They're your peers - the thinkers and doers - and they're packing their bags for the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. In this inspirational setting, they'll be exploring this year's conference theme,

Erosion of Power: Users in Charge.

Industry thought leader Esther Dyson moderates all the sessions, guiding a headline cast of speakers. With unrivaled breadth and depth, the discussions will focus on topics such as search and online marketing, today's security threats and the user's role in ensuring security online and offline, the role of IT and of employers in bringing informed consumer choice to health care, and the business models of a variety of start-ups that hope to empower users. Our high-level audience will be asking questions all along: Will individuals rise to the opportunities and take the control offered them? Do users really want choice, or just good advice? Can "spyware" (or behavioral targeting if you prefer) help in this regard?

So, join the conversation, meet the players and add your voice to this year's PC Forum (it's our 29th!) by registering today. We hope to see you in a few short weeks for the industry's most provocative and useful conference.

Daphne Kis
Executive Producer

Leaders from companies large and small will be in attendance; among them are:

Accel Partners
Ask Jeeves
America Online
Benchmark Capital
BBN Technologies
Cisco Systems
US Dept of Homeland Security
Healthline Network
Kalinda Software
Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers
LG Electronics
Oak Technology Partners
Pando Networks
Primavera Systems
Real Networks
Ricoh Innovations
Scripps Network
Visual Information Technologies
Vulcan Capital
WPP Group

(I dropped this note to Gilly along with this email) FWIW: La Costa Spa is one of THE MOST EXPENSIVE SPAS ON EARTH. Literally Rock Star stuff. You would literally start having to look at stuff in private resorts in Thailand or Hawaii to get pricier. ... . I priced out a week there, and BEFORE services, it would run about 3K for the MINIMUM setup. Without treatments. Just a nice room and food.

So much for the whole "power to the people" thing--like I would spend that kind of money to listen to John Perry Barlow (old hippie) [ED NOTE: not that I have anything agains old hippies but he doesn't know shit about real technology] bloviate anyway.


Gilly replied for me to post:

We get e-mail.

If you ever wondered why there is a digital divide, look no further.

You have an industry run by people with the common sense of .......small children trying to influence a business which has largely moved past them. In an era of consildation, these folks are still selling the same bullshit that they were 10 years ago. They claim to be trend makers, but come on, they are more isolated than ever.

Back then, people told me writers simply didn't matter. Well, blogs are the revenge of the writer. We dominate the online world because we can create interesting content without any roadblocks. People still can't figure out what's going on. We're moving so fast no one can figure out what will be next. Yet these people will take the money of the clueless and try to prove they're still hip.

After all that Gilly and I have seen in the past 15 years or so in the new media industry, we are both astonished that there are still people who can sell the idea that ideas alone will sell. I have met hundreds of people who got conned into leaving potentially lucrative degrees in real industries to go pursue expensive degrees in "user interface design" (without any art, psychology, or industrial design instruction), "community forecasting" (without any background again in psychology, statistics, or similar hard fields) or (perhaps most damaging of all) "business model prediction" (without any background in economics, statistics, or business management).

An acquaintance of mine had an arts background, and suddenly finding herself approaching middle age without a firm career, she enrolled in ITP. The result? Yes, she can bullshit her way into consulting gigs. I have chains of emails that she forwards to friends asking for tips on how to ace the interview on whatever gig she's up for next. At the end of the day though, she almost always gets cut eventually--because she ADAMANTLY refuses to look in the mirror, inhale, and say to herself: I am not a programmer. We have stopped talking over this in the past. She waves around some 18-month ITP certificate like it means something, when I know she she doesn't even have basic CSS or Java skills.

In the meantime, self-proclaimed "experts in online culture" keep acting like Pied Pipers and leading the desperate, the unqualified, and those grasping at straws down various primrose paths and get others to invest in the results of their ideas. In other words, they get one group of folks to build castles in the air, and con others to rent space in them.

Let me note that for almost 10 years I was an online project manager, and I watched the title and the industry slide downhill. I know enough about programming to know that I am not one. I have friends and exes who are in fact very high quality programmers; they get paid big bucks for cleaning up the mountains of bullshit left behind by folks who think are.

Let me also note that the hucksters are never around when the shit really hits the fan. I have helped run the WWWAC List for over ten years now, on and off. Over the years it has become a sort of group therapy/safehouse/advice column/emergency tech help desk for people building online content. You never see the Idea Peddlers on our board, because like faith healers on TV, they never have any real answers about things like what to do when your company folds without paying you, or what to do when you have a medical emergency and no health insurance because you got conned into an equity-only gig. The hucksters NEVER put forth plans for anything resembling a freelancers union, basic negotiating skills, or anything like that. And, as a result, they look down on any grassroots reality-based discussion group that does.

I remember the days when I got moronic business cards from people with titles like "Chief Marketing Mantis" and "Interactive Code Ninja." Our Medicine Show Preachers still can be seen sharing the travelling show bill with folks like this, while people like my friend who has run his own online design and identity branding company since 1985 (he did CD-ROMS back then) get looked down upon for not going public, operating past their expenses, or pretending to be rock stars.

Sorry, had to get that out.

Gilly, feel free to add what you want. Everyone else, comment away.

First, let me say up front, I have nothing but disdain for Clay Shirky and here's why. He was telling me how poor his Hunter College students were, and I told them many of them just chose to spend their money in different ways. And he sneered at me with a line like "I don't trust you". From that day on, I realized he was an asshole. And conescending as all hell. A pure bullshit artist.

He didn't know those people and they were my neighbors.

I consider ITP an embarassment to my alma mater, NYU. The school has excellent programs in journalism, graphic arts, math, even computer science. ITP is a horrid joke. It teaches buzzword bullshit.

My point about writers is this: back in the 90's, people thought it would be all about video. Well, with some exceptions like Crooks and Liars, it's not. It's a written medium and needs to be seen in those terms.

The problem with people like Dyson and Barlow is that they have no useful information on how the day to day internet works. They sell dreams and bullshit.

How do you think that they all missed blogging? Because they didn't see any potential in it.

These people say people power like the communists say people's republic. They're corporate hucksters and their goal is to make money for the people who pay them.

But the most important thing to understand is that the internet has passed them by. They're hunting for new ideas after pushing a sea of bad ones in the past. They are largely responsible for creating an image of dillitants and ass clowns.

Jen and I were discussing eBay today. Now, a lot of people rely on it, but I find it way too risky for most things. And this was one of the companies these people pushed while Google swam under the radar.

The fact is that most everything these people backed failed and failed badly. But people see what they want to and hear what they want to, even if it's bullshit.

posted by Jenonymous @ 3:51:00 PM

3:51:00 PM

The News Blog home page

People pay for this?

Maharishi Ayurveda spa, Bad Ems, Germany
The health centre boasts more than 10,000
satisfied customers

Destination detox

By Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Germany

There is nothing, it seems, that European women would rather spend a great deal of money on than getting away from it all at a spa or health farm and as correspondent Caroline Wyatt discovers, the bill is often as painful as the rather intrusive treatments.

The brochure had a photo of a luxurious hotel, and all the buzzwords: revitalising, rejuvenating.

A detox. Well, I was not sure about a detox.

I like to tox, and I think my liver and kidneys do an admirable job, considering the challenges.

Apparently, the Maharishi Ayurveda spa offered daily full-body massages, with hot oil dribbled over the entire body, rubbed in by two people simultaneously.

I booked straightaway.

The name Maharishi rang a vague bell, but I could not think why.

The brochure had a picture of the man himself - the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - an Indian with a serene other-worldly expression and a long white beard.

I began to suspect all might not be quite what I expected when the health check questionnaire arrived from the spa a few days later.

It seemed utterly fixated on matters of a deeply personal nature. Namely my digestion.

More specifically, the exit.

How often? What did it look like? Colour? Consistency?

The questions were all of an equally personal nature.

I discovered that many Germans were rather obsessed with these matters when I worked as a geriatric nurse in Munich in my early 20s, and to my horror found out why German toilets had ledges.

So that each production could be examined in detail.

Spas have caused me some trouble in my life.

Jen asked me, a long time ago, about going to a day spa.

My reply was simple: I'm a guy. Which means no.

It didn't go over well. But then, neither did my devotion to sports.

Of course, my soon to be nine year old niece likes spas as well. When I asked her about spas, she detailed the treatments they did, like mud baths and cucumbers on the eyes. And of course, since she and Jen are both quite girly, she plans on going to a spa one day.

When I mentioned that I saw a spa for kids on TV, my niece thought she was coming to New York to go for a spa treatment. When her mother said no, being that's she's not nine yet, she sulked around the house. So I had to explain that the spa was in Illinois, which she understood.

So spas have been a source of discomfort in my life.

posted by Steve @ 2:20:00 PM

2:20:00 PM

The News Blog home page

What do you mean, prepare?

Dude, get me an oat soda

Only Medal For Bode Is Fool's Gold

By Sally Jenkins
Sunday, February 26, 2006; Page E01

SESTRIERE, Italy For weeks now Nike has advised us to "Join Bode." Join him where? At the bar? That's one place you might find Bode Miller after the Turin Games, unless he's in his motor home, finding new ways to duck all that pressure he put on himself.

Miller is the biggest disappointment in the Winter Olympics, not because of the way he skied the mountain, but the way he acted at the bottom of it. The fact that he didn't win a medal at these Games, going 0 for 5 in the Alpine events, is beside the point. It's not the winning, it's the trying. The point is that he acted like he didn't try, and didn't care. Failing is forgivable. Getting fatter on beer while you're here is not.

If there has been a weaker performance by an American athlete on the international stage than that of Miller, I'm hard-pressed to think of one. To hear Miller tell it, he spent more time in Sestriere's nightclubs than he did in actual competition, which amounted to less than eight minutes. Miller's final Olympic event, the slalom, lasted all of 16 seconds. He bulled out of the start house, did a couple of quick scrimshaw turns, and promptly straddled a gate.

But, but we need a hero to sell shit with.
BODE MILLER: He's the biggest bust in Olympic history

Gwen Knapp

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sestriere, Italy -- Bode Miller got it right a long time ago. He said he might not come to these Olympics, and he never really did.

The phrases Miller heard most in the Turin Games were "Did Not Finish'' and whatever means "last call'' in Italian.

He skidded to the side of the slalom course Saturday after straddling an early gate in his first run, and his Alpine misadventure was over. Miller completed just two of his five races here, taking a fifth place and a sixth.

The messy snow on the slalom course upended a lot of good skiers, but Miller looked sloppy and uncertain on the first inch out of the starting gate. He followed a route off the hill that allowed him to avoid reporters at the bottom, but an Associated Press reporter eventually found him and then filed an account loaded with obnoxious, defensive bunk.

"I just did it my way. I'm not a martyr, and I'm not a do-gooder. I just want to go out and rock. And man, I rocked here,'' Miller was quoted by Jim Litke as saying. "... It's been an awesome two weeks. I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."

Yeah, I got to hang out in Turin.

Maybe he should have caught a Juventus game. It would have required more effort than he showed on the slopes.

I love the naivety of these reporters.

Why did he go along with the hype?


So what does he do whne it gets too much? Revert to being a ski bum.

What did he think came with money? Privacy? You think Lance Johnson Armstrong wanted people in his marriage? Well, that's what he got. You want to be a famous athlete, you got to deal with the outcome of fame. And with hype comes expectations. You don't want the hype, don't feed the expectations.

I think Lance Johnson is a football player.

posted by Steve @ 8:42:00 AM

8:42:00 AM

The News Blog home page

It's Sadr's Iraq and we're just waiting to be asked to leave

He's so dreamy

Younger Clerics Showing Power in Iraq's Unrest
Published: February 26, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 25 — American officials have been repeatedly stunned and frequently thwarted in the past three years by the extraordinary power of Muslim clerics over Iraqi society. But in the sectarian violence of the past few days, that power has taken an ominous turn, as rival hard-line Shiite clerical factions have pushed each other toward more militant and anti-American stances, Iraqi and Western officials say.

Even Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the paramount Shiite cleric to whom the Americans have often looked for moderation, appears to have been outflanked by younger and more aggressive figures.

After a bomb exploded in Samarra at one of Iraq's most sacred Shiite shrines on Wednesday, many young Shiites ignored his pleas for calm, instead heeding more extreme calls and attacking Sunni mosques and killing Sunni civilians, even imams, in a crisis that has threatened to provoke open civil war.

On Saturday, Iraqi political leaders from across the spectrum joined with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in a televised show of unity to try to quell the violence. President Bush telephoned several leaders to urge them to return to talks. [Page 10.]

Earlier, as the critical moment of Friday Prayer approached, American officials and their allies were left almost helpless, hoping that Iraq's imams would step up to calm the crisis. But that hope gave way to the realization that the clerics could do as much harm as good, and for the first time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi authorities imposed a daytime curfew to keep people from attending the sermons.

"Sectarian divisions are not new, and sectarian violence is not new," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as interfering. "What is different this time is that the Shiites, in a sign that their patience is limited, reacted violently in a number of places."

The violence and new militancy has come in part from a competition among Shiite factions to be seen as the protectors of the Shiite masses. The main struggle has been between the leading factions, both backed by Iran, and their spiritual leaders.

Many of the retaliatory attacks after the bombing were led by Mahdi Army militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose anti-American crusades have turned him into a rising political power.

His main rival, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a cleric and the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or Sciri, defended the right of Shiites to respond to the bombing. He has shown a new willingness to publicly attack the American role in Iraq, once the preserve of Mr. Sadr, and he also commands a powerful militia, the Badr Organization.

"There are clerics who are very moderate and who understand what the current situation demands, and there are clerics who have political agendas and who marshal forces for their own gain," said Joost Hiltermann, the Middle East director of the International Crisis Group. "Those are the dangerous ones."

But the Americans seemed unaware of the complex and deadly rivalries among Iraq's religious factions. After being brought back to Iraq by the Americans in 2003, Mr. Khoei was stabbed to death in the Shiite holy city of Najaf by followers of Mr. Sadr. That killing led the American occupation authority to issue an arrest warrant for Mr. Sadr, which was dropped after he led two bloody uprisings in 2004 and became one of Iraq's most powerful figures.

Mr. Sadr's family has long been engaged in a rivalry with the Shiite religious establishment in Iraq, known as the Hawza. Under the rule of Saddam Hussein, Mr. Sadr's revered father, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, was one of the few clerics to openly defy the dictator. He also expressed contempt for Ayatollah Sistani and other senior clerics, calling them the "Silent Hawza" for their complacent attitude in the face of tyranny. The young Sadr claimed his father's mantle after Mr. Hussein had the elder Sadr and his two eldest sons killed in 1999

Which is why he will run Iraq. He is the one person who didn't go into exile, who's family always opposed Saddam and can talk with the authority of a survivor.

He's the one man who can prevent civil war, but the price might be a national uprising against the Americans.

Either way, the clock is running on us in Iraq.

posted by Steve @ 1:48:00 AM

1:48:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Maybe Clinton wasn't so bad

So maybe blowjobs aren't that bad

From my Clinton-hating, career military friend...
by Shadan7 [Subscribe]
Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 08:04:12 PM PDT

Just to give some sense of how the GOP is imploding, the following is from a good friend who is career military (officer corps), and a life-long Republican. I won't ID him for obvious reasons, but this is from two recent emails (nothing edited for effect). The first is from a couple of days ago:

On the war, when we went into Iraq, I simply couldn't understand it. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, or nearby, and he was the only enemy who mattered. I could see no reason to take on Iraq, at least no reason that arose from 9/11. As I told British friends at the time (I was in the UK), the invasion was certainly legal, but as for whether it was advisable, well, history would tell us that.

I think that verdict is already in. For a long time, I felt simply awful that we had done this thing, created this chaos, and that it still wasn't put right. We made that mess, and we ought to clean it up. I still feel that way in large part, but I'm beginning to think--with Iraqi Shi'ites fighting Iraqi Sunnis over the Golden Mosque bombing--that we may finally just have to throw up our hands and leave them to their civil war. I thought privately in 2003 that going into Iraq was dodgy, inasmuch as it departed significantly from the Weinberger Doctrine (Caspar Weinberger was Reagan's SecDef). Now, I view Weinberger (and Powell, his most recent exponent) as wholly vindicated. If we leave Iraq now, we must accept full responsibility for the chaos and death that will ensue; and we must never, ever do anything like that again.

If we go now, though, the whole country could easily implode. It could become a giant Somalia, with regional warlords and no central rule. If before the war Iraq was not really a terrorist training state--and I think it's clear now that it never was--certainly, after we leave, it could easily become one.

What a mess--and we made it.

And this from this morning:

It says a lot about our country that Clinton was impeached and Bush has not been. The idea that a sexual indiscretion is more significant that entering a war under false pretenses, flagrantly breaking the law on domestic surveillance, and presiding over an immense squandering of national treasure is, frankly, ludicrous. I had a rather unhealthy personal hatred of Clinton in the 1990s, primarily because he was a draft dodger who had become Commander in Chief. Every US military death in Haiti, in Somalia, in Bosnia was a moral outrage. Now, though, I'm faced with a C-in-C who also evaded meaningful service and has ordered thousands to die in a war based on a lie. Clinton balanced the budget; Bush broke i

Pretty much says it all, eh? These are the folks we need to convince to take the next step, and vote their conscience, now that they see the light of reason. I'm doing my part, and I'm reasonably sure that my friend will be voting for Dems come November. Maybe he'll persuade some others.

posted by Steve @ 1:33:00 AM

1:33:00 AM

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No one is going to save us

At least it doesn't snow in Iraq

This is from Daily Kos

by georgia10
Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:27:41 PM PDT

At his speech to the American Legion yesterday, President Bush reflected on his "forward strategy for freedom." His speech, carbon-copied from every other War on Terror speech in his collection, presents the stubborn and ill-conceived core of his National Plan For Victory In Iraq: stay the course. "Stay the course" has been the President's mantra for years now, with the slight revision that now he's admitting the course is more like a rocky road than a coasting freeway. The entire notion of "staying the course" presumes that there is some forward movement, some progress being made, a "forward strategy," as Bush puts it. But as we've been pointing out for months now, and as the American public is finally starting to realize, progress in Iraq is merely an illusion concocted by this administration. Rather than being on the course to victory (however one defines it), we've found ourselves standing still, sinking deeper and deeper into a cavity of defeat.


Democrats, on the other hand, realize that we have a moral responsibility not just to the Iraqis, but to future generations of Americans to ensure that Iraq is stabilized
. We refuse to remain paralyzed as the walls close in around us. We choose change. We choose victory. We chose to lift ourselves up from this quagmire. And just how do we propose to do so? As was reported earlier this week, Democrats are rallying behind a plan for phased redeployment. The plan, which you can read here (pdf), is exactly the type of branch we can cling to as we pull ourselves out of this situation we have been bogged under for three years now. Phased redeployment and an invigorated international effort to stabilize Iraq may be just the action needed now at our own "moment of choosing."

It is time we unclench our fists and reach out our hands. Nations of the world must unite to save Iraq. And we must lead the call, for it is only in saving it that we ensure our soldiers, our reputation, and our own safety won't sink away in the deserts of Iraq.

You know, when you don't know what you're discussing, maybe you should shut up and listen.

And this is a prime example.

Paternalism in a liberal guise is no better than it's neocon alternative.

I would ask the author the following questions:

Are you willing to serve in Iraq to help stablize it? No? Well, the US Army has been there three years and as what you're proposing will take up to a decade, are you going to join the effort?

If not, it is unfair to ask anyone else to.

What countries would volunteer to help us? Nigeria is having a nasty bout of secterian violence over cartoons. India has millions of Muslims and the war is unpopular, France and Germany can barely meet their commitments in Afghanistan.

We cannot send a force to Darfur which is effective.

So who helps us in Iraq?

You don't seem to understand. The world is invested in a US defeat in Iraq. Because that will curb our idea that we can forcibly change governments to our liking. There is no drive to save us form our own folly.

Phased redeployment?

Sure, if you mean like the retreat from Korea in 1951. But the time to walk away is long over. We will run. The quicker, the better.

The problem with this well meaning article is that it assumes we can avoid defeat in Iraq.

We cannot. No one is going to save us either. The Iraqis will kill soldiers in blue helmets just as they do in tan helmets. Too many people want to avoid the inevitable by calling for someone else to make a sacrifice they won't and see no reason to.

posted by Steve @ 1:25:00 AM

1:25:00 AM

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You know, research is a good thing

Dubai, home to smugglers

Nick Kristoff joins the "it's Arabs" crowd, which proves one thing, he's allergic to research.

The Arabs Are Coming!

Published: February 26, 2006

Let's be blunt: this fuss about ports is really about Arabs.

Port terminals have been managed, without alarm, by companies from Britain, China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. So let's look at the arguments of those who believe we should discriminate against Arabs. ...

Look, Kristof, if this is discrimination against Arabs, that's because it was Arabs who attacked us on 9/11 and still threaten us today. If Singaporeans were plotting to set off nuclear explosions in American cities, then we'd scrutinize them, too.

Even if you believe in racial profiling, you have to look beyond the profile. Senators talk about Dubai in dark tones that suggest they've never been there. Dubai is the Disneyland of the Arab world — it's the place people go to relax, to shop, to drink. It is staunchly pro-American and pro-business, and its vision of the Arab future is absolutely the opposite of Osama bin Laden's. If we want to encourage Arab modernization, we should be approving this deal — not engaging in quasi-racist scaremongering.

Critics of the deal seem to suggest that swarthy men in black turbans are going to be arriving to provide port "security" in Newark. But Dubai Ports World is run mostly by Western executives, under an American chief operating officer. Nothing is going to change on the ground in Newark.

The only problem is that the more you dig, the more you find and none of it is good.

"But the year-old mystery of the truck-bomb assassination of Hariri also has wound its way through the UAE’s port facilities. United Nations investigators tracked the assassins’ white Mitsubishi Canter Van from Japan, where it had been stolen, to the UAE, according to a Dec. 10, 2005, U.N. report.

At that time, UAE officials had been unable to track what happened to the van after its arrival in Dubai. Presumably the van was loaded onto another freighter and shipped by sea through the Suez Canal to Lebanon, but the trail had gone cold in the UAE.

Security Skills

While not spelling out the precise status of the investigation in the UAE, the Dec. 10 report said U.N. investigators had sought help from “UAE authorities to trace the movements of this vehicle, including reviewing shipping documents from the UAE and, with the assistance of the UAE authorities, attempting to locate and interview the consignees of the container in which the vehicle or its parts is believed to have been shipped.”

The UAE’s competence – or lack of it – in identifying the “consignees” or the freighter used to transport the van to Lebanon could be the key to solving the Hariri murder. This tracking ability also might demonstrate whether UAE port supervisors have the requisite skills for protecting U.S. ports from terrorist penetration."

But then you get this:

Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer Sat Feb 25, 6:12 PM ET

Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent.

The department's early objections were settled later in the government's review of the $6.8 billion deal after Dubai-owned DP World agreed to a series of security restrictions.

On Saturday, congressional leaders, the company and Bush administration officials appeared to move closer to a compromise intended to derail plans by Republicans and Democrats for legislation next week that would force a new investigation of security issues relating to the deal. Discussions underway Saturday were to continue through the weekend.

The company's surprise decision Thursday to indefinitely postpone its takeover of U.S. port operations did little to quell a political furor or appease skeptical members of Congress that the deal does not pose any increased risks to the U.S. from terrorism.

Among the proposals being discussed is a new, intensive 45-day review of the deal by the government — something the White House had refused to consider as recently as Friday.

Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said discussions among some congressional leaders centered on that issue. "It's my understanding that they are trying to build support for a deal involving a new 45-day investigation," he said.
I guess they hate Arabs, too.

Look, if a Taiwanese company was as problem-ridden as this, people would object as well. Dubai has real security issues that DHS noticed and objected to. This bigotry shit has to stop. It endangers people, like New Yorkers, who plan to break the lease if it comes to that.

posted by Steve @ 1:05:00 AM

1:05:00 AM

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Dumbass move of the week

And there are my GOP backers.
L.I. Democrat Takes On Spitzer in Governor Race

GLEN COVE, N.Y., Feb. 25 — Thomas R. Suozzi, the Nassau county executive and a self-styled renegade Democrat, announced Saturday that he was challenging Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for his party's nomination for governor, running as an underdog who will rely to an unusual degree on businesses leaders who have been sued by Mr. Spitzer and New Yorkers who dislike his tactics.

Mr. Suozzi's bid, declared at a boisterous rally in his Long Island hometown here, stands as a direct affront to the New York Democratic Party, which is behind Mr. Spitzer with rare unanimity in the hope of electing the first Democrat as governor since Mario M. Cuomo was defeated in 1994.

"This will be a tough fight: My opponent will have the vote of almost every single Democratic Party boss," Mr. Suozzi told a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters, after taking the stage to the music of U2's "Beautiful Day."


Yet it is Mr. Suozzi's support from Mr. Spitzer's enemies that could make for an especially fractious and unpredictable season up to the Democratic primary in September.

Mr. Suozzi's aides say he has amassed more than $10 million in donations and pledges so far, twice the amount of cash on hand that he announced last month, though that fund-raising estimate could not be independently verified.

Of his $5 million on hand, more than $1 million has come with the help of business leaders like Kenneth G. Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, who have been sued by the attorney general's office, according to several donors and campaign finance records. Mr. Langone is part of a suit alleging mishandling of New York Stock Exchange compensation.

Mr. Spitzer announced $19 million in cash on hand last month. Mr. Suozzi is aiming to raise $20 million to be competitive in advertising. His camp is assuming that Mr. Spitzer will ultimately have $30 million or more.

Allies of Mr. Suozzi predict that the anti-Spitzer faction will contribute millions more toward his $20 million goal. But they also said they expected to win votes from other New Yorkers who believe Mr. Spitzer has been overzealous in his prosecutions and heavy-handed in his tactics.


Political suicide, step right up and watch Tom Suozzi kill his political future.

And these New Yorkers pissed at Spitzer would be?

I cannot imagine why he would take money from GOP sources and expect to beat back Spitzer, especially people he's gone after. The local netroots will be all over him, as will the Spitzer campaign. If Lierberman is getting hammered for his actions, being in the pay of the GOP and claiming you want to clean up Albany isn't going to work in the year of the collapse. I know Schumer has been whispering in his ear, but Suozzi is literally charging a machine gun. Spitzer has a national profile and only Wall Street is pissed at him.

Those people who lost half their 401K's see him as a hero for putting those people on trial. Now here comes Tom Suozzi to talk about corruption when he's taking money from the people who stole their money.

What exactly is he thinking?

He drops out before any primary.

posted by Steve @ 12:51:00 AM

12:51:00 AM

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