"The Artist Formerly Found In Music Stores"

The music industry is apoplectic. Prince has negotiated a deal to give away pre-release copies of his next CD, Planet Earth, for free. In fact, he's going to distribute them through the a UK newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, a plan of which one music retail exec observed:
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday.
Now an artist like Prince, who owns the rights to everything he produces these days, certainly has the freedom, not to mention the clout, to do whatever he wants with his material. And whichever major label he uses for distribution should just be damn glad that they even get to ride the Prince gravy train. So what motivation does the industry have to threaten the purple one. Well...greed is certainly a factor, but perhaps the desire to send a message to other artists is the bigger motivation.

Consider that, unlike any other industry save for Big Oil, the music industry is in complete control of the production chain, from creation through final sale, and any effort to put control back in the hands of the artists is a grave threat. Look at the industry's battle against peer-to-peer. Think it's all about piracy eroding industry profits? Think again. The wholesale assault on peer-to-peer is about shutting down a distribution technology that would free artists from the major labels. And so Prince's attempt to wet his fan's appetites doesn't threaten the industry because they might loose a few sales. It threatens them because it might become a model for advertising--a mechanism of visibility--that the industry doesn't control--Promotion without payola.


The iWedge

Cupertino, CA (f-A-ke. P.) -


In preparation for tomorrow's official launch of the highly anticipated iPhone, Apple today announced a second revolutionary Internet appliance...the iWedge! Designed to help maximize Apple's profits, the iWedge will assist Apple sales personnel with the difficult task of prying open customer's wallets. Got a potential buyer who's reluctant to fork over $500 for a crippled device that can't even speak WiFi without activation? The iWedge is the answer!

AT&T, Apple's iPhone partner, has already announced plans to purchase 10,000 iWedges for their US stores--an extra measure of persuasion for potential iPhone customers who may be reluctant to fork over thousands of dollars in contract fees. In fact Joey "Tire Iron" Morelli, head of AT&T Customer Relations, expects that the iWedge will be very useful for dealing those pesky support questions like, "How come this brick won't use my existing SIM card?" or "$1000 a year?! For your lousy data network? Are you f*ckin' nuts?!"

(Apple and AT&T make no recommendations nor guarantees of 'fitness for a specific purpose' with respect to the iWedge. For use by trained Morelli Fami-...uh...Apple personnel only. Patent pending.)

UPDATED 2007/06/29 11:04 AM:

And here are the top 10 technical reasons you should stay away from the iBrick.


The Inspiration Pond

Kvatch is still on hiatus, even though he did break down yesterday (6/19) to post these tidbits. So keep checking back for all the excellent posts from Blognonymous' guests, The Station Agent and BHFRIK. And remember, if you've got a great post that needs some additional attention, we're adding trackbacks daily. Just send an email to kvkopf AT GeeMale-dot-COM.


Happy 25th Blade Runner

Sure...it wasn't faithful to Philip K. Dick's original. Sure...The Matrix gave it a run for its money--when you're talking the greatest SciFi movie of all time. Sure...there was no CGI, but it didn't matter then, and it still doesn't.

Blade Runner is still the best. Happy 25th! Ridley, Harrison, Vangelis, you all outdid yourselves.

Stoodints Rite Boosh An Lettur

This story should warm the hearts of my friends in leftyness. Scholars Urge Bush to Ban Use of Torture is the headline.

The Presidential Scholars are the brightest of the bright chosen from graduating High School Students. This years crop of Scholars decided to use the opportunity of meeting the President to pass him a note about America's treatment of detainees. Kids these days... always passing notes out of turn!

Now these kids are highly intelligent, so you have to figure they dumbed down the note to Bush's level. Thus, the snarky title to this post! Which by the way is not based upon my perception of the students, but rather my impression of the President. I can almost see the letter, written in crayon on a piece of torn paper bag... "Deer Mr. Presdent. Pleeze stop tortring teh terrists. We Heart U!"

Well, to be honest I'm not any good at making a letter dumb enough for the President to understand. And I'm certain the letter the students gave the President would be a testament to their intelligence and cogent logic. To this years class of Presidential Scholars I say well done.


We Need a CEO President like We Need Judith Miller Writing Articles

Disgraced war mongering journalist Judith Miller's back and this time it's personal. At least its personal for the commenters on her blog. Brutal treatment for Judith. Nice work commenters.

I don't know why I expect so much from the media. Right now CNN is seriously doing a segment for their In the Money weekend show about the advantages of having a CEO president. Someone like... Mike Bloomberg! No mention of the fact that Bush, the man with the MBA from Harvard Business school ran in 2000 as "The CEO President." Their expert guest was Harvard Professor of Business Administration Richard Tedlow who didn't mention the fact that our current CEO President with the 26% approval rating came from his college. In fact, neither President Bush nor fellow former CEO, Vice President Dick Cheney were mentioned at all.

Speaking of Cheney, William Kristol went on Fox News Sunday and effortlessly defended the move of the real CEO President to secede from the executive branch.

Kvatch said it in 2006, Kill Your Cable.


You Owe $516,348

The Government is using creative accounting practices to hide multi trillions of dollars in debt according to Dennis Cauchon with USA Today. The entire liability for each U.S. household on the accumulated debt is $516,348.

The debt accumulated in fiscal year 2006 was over $1.2 trillion in reality, but was reported after creative accounting to be only $248 billion. That represents an accumulated debt owed on the federal budget for each household of $11,434 for 2006 alone.

If corporations or professional accountants were to use the methods which the federal government uses, they would be tossed in the pokey for defrauding their investors. Of course we know that there was a revolving door between corporations and the agencies in government that oversaw those agencies under the Republican rule of Washington D.C., so maybe that explains how these creative accounting practices came to be the rule of thumb on federal budgetary matters.

But this is all going to turn around, because Kvatch reports that since the Democrats have taken control of Congress, the President is bound and determined to stand against wasteful government spending.

But we are where we are, which is a whole lot worse off than where we were when Bush was selected in 2000. So if your household would pay just $31,000 for the next 75 years (and every other household in the nation follows suit) we pay off all the debt accumulated to this point.

I have an even better idea. Charge each Republican household about $93k per year for the next 75 years and make them pay... literally pay... for the budgetary disaster the Republican Congress and Bush foisted on America.


Blessed Are The Courteous...

Fashiongirl wants you to know that il Papa and the Holy See are very concerned about what you're doing on the road, and they're not going to let you get away with it any more.

"I bring you 15 -- [CRASH] -- 10...10 Commandments!"

To Deport Or Not To Deport: Why Is There A Question?

ABC reports on the plight of one Yaderlin Jimenez. Yaderlin illegally entered America from the Dominican Republic in 2001. She married Alex Jimenez in 2004. Alex petitioned Big Brother to give his wife a green card which, unfortunately, brought her to the attention of the hostile eye of Sauron.

Why does the story of Yaderlin deserve any more attention than hundreds of others facing deportation, separation from children and families and uncertain futures in a land thousands of miles from home? Because Alex is one of the two soldiers whose unit was attacked and is now missing in Iraq. A third member of his unit was also captured and later found dead near the Tigris river.

That's right... the government is working to deport the wife of a soldier missing in Iraq. It would be bad enough if the couple were just dealing with Alex being in Iraq and having to go through this domestic nightmare. Can you imagine our soldiers having to worry about dodging IED's in the broiling heat surrounded by misery and death on a biblical scale... and having to worry and fret about your wife's immigration status. I wonder how many soldiers have been killed or wounded from being all distracted by thoughts on legal proceedings at home, rather than concentrating on surviving the hell hole they find themselves in.

Frankly, it is preposterous! Any spouse of a member of the U.S. military should be automatically given full citizenship, out of hand, end of story. And at the ceremony they should be thanked for contributing to this nation with a loved one in uniform. Give Yaderlin a freaking medal, not a court date... Lets hear the right wing freaky koolaid drinkers try to raise hell about that!


Kvatch Kvetches - The Comedy Central Host's Graveyard

Nope... I'm not really back, but a couple of interesting items caught my attention.

Network television is the storied 'elephant's graveyard' of cable's best news/satire/talk hosts, and the latest elephant to decide on suicide may be Jon Stewart. NBC's courting him you see, and if you think that this is a sign that he's made it, just think back on that horrible day that Bill Maher took Politically Incorrect to ABC. The show was never the same again, and Maher had to return to cable to get his edge, and his credibility, back.

And speaking of cable... How much do you fork over to Comcast, Time-Warner, whomever, per month? Well this poor lady added it up and came up with $2021.52! That's a lot of money for a hundred channels that you don't watch. In fact, the ROI on cable is crap! I pay $24 for my Netflix subscription and $30 for my DSL (that's about $650 a year) and I get along just fine--thank you very much.

Weapons Insectors Insepcting Nothing May Stop Soon

It's slowly starting to sink in that those weapons of mass destruction we went to war in Iraq (illegally) over just aren't in that country. The inspectors were sent out of Iraq before the invasion and have never returned, though a U.S.-led team under a separate mandate found in 2004 that Saddam destroyed all his weapons of mass destruction in 1992.

Problem is, the inspectors are still being paid $10 million a year of Iraqi oil money to keep the team together in absentia. That money could be better embezzled by corrupt American contractors, thank you very much!

The U.S. and Britain are trying to end the inspector's mandate, but Russia's not playing ball. They hate us.

There's still plenty of work to for weapons inspectors, however. North Korea has invited the IAEA in to take a look around.

So, we're not going to just invade this time? Okay, but Hans Blix is going to be so pissed.

By the way, Blix has a suggestion for how we can get Iran to stop enriching uranium. It's cute.

And about that invasion we pulled in '03, Bob Woodward says that the media, himself included, should have been more inquisitive about all that. Thanks Bob!


Learning From Nuremberg... To Defend Torture

I hate it when people on either side of the political divide bring out the the heavy handed Nazi label. Tossing that label out there just stops debate. You can not expect the other side to listen or respond intelligently after being tarred with that label. For example, Rush Limbaugh long ago gave up any hope of holding an intelligent conversation with any self respecting feminist, by repeatedly invoking the appellation of feminazi.

But by golly, you can not ignore the eerie echoes from the practices of the Nazi's in regards to their interrogation of prisoners, and this administrations allowances for detainees interrogation in the so called war on terror.

Andrew Sullivan has the document proof that the same techniques which led to death penalty convictions from the Nuremberg trials have been authorized by President Bush. In fact the name for these techniques are identical in translation from German to English... they and we both calling it "enhanced interrogation" rather than torture.

In fact the Germans banned techniques which the Bush administration has allowed, because the methods were too harsh. Also the internal controls on who could be tortured were explicit, with each case being taken to regional commanders who authorized the ill treatment of the detainee. It seems that the Bush administration just told everybody the gloves were off, and many detainees around the world were abused by low level grunts with no oversight from the chain of command.

Not only that, but the legal justifications currently being given for enhanced interrogation in the so called war on terror are exactly echoed by the defense in the Nuremberg trials. Then as now, the people being tortured were not covered by the Geneva conventions as they were not uniformed combatants, the enhanced interrogations had to be conducted in order to save lives (the Nazi's had their own ticking time bombs), and so on.

I find it entirely unacceptable that the people leading this nation in a global struggle of freedom and democracy against intolerance and extremism have taken their cues from the monsters of history. It is appalling that the lessons the Bush administration have learned from the Nuremberg trials are the most effective arguments to use in a torture defense.


Surge is a Scam; We're Staying the Course

The Bush Administration rolled into the November 2006 election behind the slogan "Stay the Course". Then the Republican Party got crushed in the election so completely that even the Bush administration couldn't deny that change must come. Bush summarily fired Defense Secretary Donald F. Rumsfeld the next day. Bush ruined his Christmas season gathering together the mighty Baker/Hamilton Comission to figure this whole Iraq thing out. And, when they finally unleashed their comprehensive bipartisan solution...

Bush picked out one sentence and ran with it.

The Surge was born.

During the massively frustrating appropriations debate, Bush and the Republicans told us that we needed to support the "new policy" until we could hear from General Petreaus himself if the Surge was working. Wait until September. Talk surfaced of the Republicans in Congress breaking with Bush in September when Petreaus announced the obvious. This talk quickly coalesced and became the conventional wisdom.

Last week, a reporter asked General Petreaus how he thought the Surge was going. He said that he wanted the surge to go on at least until December. He told another reporter two weeks ago that the surge could not be evaluated because the surge doesn't even start until all the troops arrive in Iraq.

On her show Friday, Rachel Maddow explained that in '04 and '05 between 160,000 and 180,000 coalition forces occupied Iraq. Today, with the surge finally fully underway, we have 177,000 coalition troops in Iraq. In other words, the surge did nothing but replace the troops from countries that have pulled some or all of their troops out of Iraq with American troops.

There is no surge. All we are doing is staying the course.

Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.


Locking Up Americans is Their Business and Business is Good

Colin Powell added fuel to the ongoing debate over Guantanamo last week when he said he would close the facility right away if it were up to him.

But what about all the domestic mini-Guantanamos?

Ever hear of the Corrections Corporation of America? Me neither, until today.

Their representative no-showed a hearing in Sacramento yesterday where a state committee probed the practice of CCA moving California citizens incarcerated in their private prisons to other states.

8,000 prisoners will soon be moved involuntarily out of state to alleviate overcrowded prisons. 400 prisoners previously voluntarily decided to accept offers to move to less crowded prisons with more cable channels and the promises of "all night parties" in Tennessee and Arizona.

CCA, according to Wikipedia, is the fifth largest prison system in America behind the federal government and three states. Business is good. In fact their stock price just doubled.

Not only do these guys run prisons, they also got their foot in the door of the judicial system. CCA's executive vice president and general counsel and former aide to former Senate Majority leader Dr. Bill Frist, Gus Puryear IV landed a nomination today to be a federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Like many of the other major Republican privatizing schemes, it's not really working out. The company's been around since the beginning of the drug war which has to be some kind of incredible coincidence.

RELATED: "Children without a Country: Maryam Remains in Texas Jail" by Greg Moses, The Electronic Intifada.

Future Headlines - The Party of Fiscal Responsibility

(It's late and I'm tired--not really recharged quite yet, but I just couldn't pass on this one.)









Doing Your Cousin: Still Not Good For The Gene Pool

Newsflash... Having a closed door community of polygamist crossbreeding fundamentalist freakazoids may lead to unpleasant medical complications. Whoever could have imagined?!

Hildale Utah and Colorado City Arizona are twin border cities. About half of the worlds known cases of fumarase deficiency are from that area. The townsfolk thought it was the drinking water, but Dr. Theodore Tarby called the kinfolk together to tell them that the disorder is caused by cousin marriage.

You may recall hearing of this community last summer when the FBI placed Warren Jeffs on it's most wanted list for being an accessory to rape by arranging the marriage of a 14 year old girl to her 19 year old cousin, against the girls wishes. Jeffs was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints until his arrest.

Between 75 and 80% of the population in the bordertowns area are blood relatives of one of two men who founded the break away sect in the area in the early 30's. This is an example of family values run amok.

There is no proof of this in the MSNBC article I linked to, but let me close this post with one final observation. I'd be willing to bet that this town is among the reddest of Republican areas in the entire nation. Just sayin'...

Audited and Still Asking For More

In a report that garnered very little attention save a few posts in Blogtopia, The Blotter reported the other day that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are skeptical of an initiative by the FBI to beef up their data collection capabilities. According to the report, plans are to bring together a huge assortment of databases compiled by the FBI and other federal agencies. There is also talk of using what is being called "predictive" analysis, whereby a template for what could be a terrorist's activities is cross referenced with those in the amalgamated database. You may recall that similar templates were said to have been used by the NSA.

Civil liberties groups are rightly concerned about the potential for abuse of this new program. And their concerns are not without merit when you consider that the Bureau hasn't exactly been completely meticulous in following guidelines put in place to help safeguard those liberties.
An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.

The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews.
I am often struck by the sheer audacity of the Bushies to lobby Congress to expand their authority in a given area at the same time we learn that they can't seem to follow the rules under the authority they do have. And they expect us to believe they'll do a better job with more?

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)

The Surge Dirge Part Deux

Once again, we are being treated to the obvious: the surge just isn't working.
Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.
Yesterday, a Shiite shrine in Samarra that was bombed in early 2006 was hit again. Some are speculating who carried it out but regardless, it is only likely to increase the chances of reprisal attacks spiraling out of control. Makes you wonder if the weapons we just forked over to the Sunnis will be used to exact revenge for the retribution inflicted following the shrine bombing.

But not to worry, folks. It's still far to early to call the surge a failure, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid say. We gotta give the surge time to take hold. Heck, we're still waiting for the full surge force to get into place. So just sit tight and we'll see what Gen. Petreaus has to say about the surge come September.

Oh, about that.
A September progress report on the U.S. troop increase in Iraq that President George W. Bush called an important moment for his war strategy is unlikely to be a "pivotal" assessment, officials now say.

Amid unrelenting bloodshed in Iraq and scant signs of progress by the Iraqi government in meeting political benchmarks, the White House sought to temper expectations of rapid strides resulting from a security crackdown begun at the start of this year.
Perhaps the Bushies will just use a different set of metrics to measure progress. Of course, the only metrics that really matter are the ones that "venerable" FOX News personalities like Bill O'Reilly think "don't mean anything".

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)


Giuliani's Commitments, Is This A Joke?

Yesterday Rudy Giuliani unveiled his "Twelve Commitments to the American People". People who are familiar with Giuliani's previous record on commitments could be easily spotted because they were rolling around on the floor holding their sides and laughing.

Well Giuliani just had to take us there, so let us examine the path already travelled by Giuliani in order to understand the possible path he would lead us down, regarding commitment. This is a sordid tale, and one that many of you may be familiar with, but as we consider this history let us keep in mind that Giuliani is the one giving us the commitments these days. I'm not just doing this for the sake of slamming Giuliani for no apparent reason.

What do we suppose Giuliani's second cousin, Regina Peruggi,would say about his record on commitments. They were married in 1968, had a trial separation in 1976 were legally separated in 1982, followed by a legal divorce later that year. Coincidentally, Giuliani started dating Donna Hanover in 1982. I'm certain however that their relationship was entirely platonic until the divorce with Peruggi was finalized... because we all know how strong Giuliani is when it comes to commitments. The Catholic church granted Giuliani an annulment on his first marriage which led to Giuliani's next notable commitment.

In 1984 Giuliani married Hanover. 2 children and 16 years later, Giuliani was busted in a extra marital affair with Judith Nathan. Giuliani then famously called a press conference and announced that he was separating with Hanover, before even letting her know of this arrangement. Hanover should have seen the handwriting on the wall though, because she got mixed up with Giuliani when he was previously committed to Peruggi, and he had been caught carrying on with an extra marital affair with a staff member in the late 90's. The resultant divorce was ugly, and was finalized in 2002.

Giuliani is now committed to Judith Nathan, having married her in 2003. With his record on commitment however, one can only wonder how long this relationship will last. Probably not long after the next naughty hottie with a bit of ambition manages to get Rudy alone... but that is entirely speculation on my part! Speculation informed by his past behavior, but still speculation none the less.

I could get into the familial commitment between children and parents regarding Giuliani, but I think the point has been made sufficiently. Giuliani giving us his commitments really should be great material for the late night comedians.

And He Parted the Red States

Adam's Been A Naughty Boy

Cognitorex turns us on to this gem...

From Apples to Apples: Adam's now dust!

The man who plays Adam in a video aired at the Creationist Museum has led a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a clothing line that promotes free love.

He owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat, where he has been pictured, smiling alongside a drag queen brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo. The Web site (how yummy is this?) allows users to post explicit stories and photos.

Burning Bridges

If roads are often called the arteries of a nation, then bridges would be the shunts that connect those arteries and help keep that society's commerce and prosperity flowing. This maxim would certainly be true in the case of Baghdad, Iraq. Bisected by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, bridges not only allow passage between neighborhoods divided by those mighty tributaries but are vital to the security plan being implemented by US forces.

Now those arteries are under siege, with three consecutive bombings in as many days. While there are many routes through which traffic can be detoured, I turn you to Larry Johnson for why these bombings could have serious implications for the viability of the surge.
Beyond the inconvenience factor, we must recognize that the destruction of bridges can produce the defacto isolation of U.S. outposts and bases. If a U.S. unit is attacked and requires reinforcements, the loss of these bridges increase the difficulty of the U.S. Quick Reaction Force reaching the scene in a timely manner. Moreover, with fewer alternate routes available, insurgents can anticipate where to hit a responding American force. In fact, an attack on an outpost could be a feint intended to provoke a U.S. reaction and give the insurgents the opportunity to ambush the inbound soldiers.
Indeed, as Ian Welsh points out this would be a classic example of anti-insurgency strategy. Only in this case our forces are the ones on the receiving end.

The arteries of Baghdad are being severed. And I fear no amount of white blood cells in the form of US soldiers will be enough to stop the hemorrhaging.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)

Shorter Dennis Miller:


Side Effects May Include...

Tripping through the intertubes can be so edumacational. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but one of the causes for high level hilarity in my household is when a drug commercial on T.V. starts listing the possible side effects of the drug being advertised. The voice over tries to be so happy as they calmly and soothingly tell the viewer that the drug being used to clear up some silly condition may also cause incontinence, nose bleeds, sudden drooling... etc etc etc... My wife and I invariably continue the side effect warning complete with soothing voice and smiling countenance long after the commercial has ended.

Well today I checked into Is that legal and read a post from Eric who thought one of the side effects from his medication was noteworthy in that it caused "inappropriate happiness". However reading the other side effects of the drug in question proved even more entertaining:
headache, dizziness, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, inappropriate happiness, extreme changes in mood, changes in personality, bulging eyes, acne, thin fragile skin, red or purple blotches or lines under the skin, slowed healing of cuts and bruises, increased hair growth, changes in the way fat is spread around the body, extreme tiredness, weak muscles, irregular or absent menstrual periods, decreased sexual desire, heartburn, increased sweating.
I am no doctor, nor do I play one on T.V., so I'm not ashamed to admit to being confused as to how the same drug may or may not cause "extreme tiredness" and or "difficulty falling asleep". I imagine the tortured soul who is unfortunate enough to have these two side effects concurrently barely making it to the bed before passing into deep slumber, only to suddenly startle awake several minutes later, then collapsing back into bed in a deep sleep... only to repeat the process through out the night.

BUT!... the side effects mentioned above are just the non lethal ones. The website continues:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

vision problems. eye pain redness or tearing, sore throat fever chills cough or other signs of infection, seizures, depression, loss of contact with reality, confusion, muscle twitching or tightening, shaking of the hands that you cannot control, numbness burning or tingling in the face arms legs feet or hands, upset stomach, vomiting, lightheadedness, irregular heartbeat, sudden weight gain, shortness of breath especially during the night, dry hacking cough, swelling or pain in the stomach, swelling of the eyes face lips tongue throat arms hands feet ankles or lower legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing, rash, hives, itching.
My gawd man! Are you being prescribed arsenic here?! First off, how is someone supposed to call their doctor if they have lost "contact with reality"? Lets just hope your imaginary friend is an M.D.!

It can cause "sudden weight gain" combined with "changes in ways fat is spread around the body". Which means you might gain 20 pounds, lose that pot belly, and have a spare tire around your ankles! Or something like that I guess.

Just to wrap up let me acknowledge that maybe this is standard fare when it comes to drug warnings online, and my initial impression is a bit overblown. But reading that particular list of side effects has given me some great ammunition for the next time my wife and I are dueling each other with a continued list of possible side effects from a T.V. commercial.

Huckster Huckabee

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been in the headlines more and more in recent weeks. It started with last week's ruling by a military panel to toss charges against detainees there and when former Secretary of State Colin Powell again criticized it this weekend.

On Sunday's Late Edition, GOP presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee responded to Powell's claims about Gitmo. During the course of his argument he said that most state prisoners would "love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo." Several bloggers have taken the governor to task for his remarks but I wanted to focus on another bit of rhetoric that is sure to increase in frequency as demands to close the prison mount.

Any time the topic of closing Gitmo comes up, the go-to excuse for why we can not do so is always that if we were to release the detainees currently held there, they would simply rejoin the fight against the US and our allies. This is yet another strawman since no one to my knowledge is advocating that we simply release the detainees, only that they be brought under the purview of the criminal justice system. But nevertheless, Huckabee stuck to the "they'll come back to get us" narrative.
But I’ll tell you, if we let somebody out and it turns out that they come and fly an airliner into one of our skyscrapers, we’re going to be asking, how come we didn’t stop them? We had them detained.
What is never said is that we have in fact released hundreds of detainees from Gitmo throughout its duration. In many cases those same individuals were subsequently released by their home governments. They clearly are not concerned about those men "flying airliners into skyscrapers", yet this fear of what they "may" do is enough for the likes of Gov. Huckabee to say we should essentially keep them locked away forever without charge or trial.

If this is Huckabee's idea of what justice should be like, I'd hate to see the prisons in Arkansas.

Update: Digby reminds us of how "tough" Huckabee was on crime.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)

Confidence Men

Just some quick thoughts on two developments today, both ostensibly involving confidence.

The first regards the no-confidence vote against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Cut to the chase, the vote failed. Well, the vote itself didn't fail rather the vote to vote on the bill failed but the message is nonetheless the same. This has both good and bad connotations for the Democrats. For starters, it is just goes to show that no matter how much they may piss and moan about how they've lost confidence in Gonzo, when it comes time to to put their votes where their rhetoric is, most of the GOPers in Congress will always side with Dubya. The downside for the Dems is that after a slew of votes seen acquiescing to the Bush administration in several areas, this vote will only mean more disenfranchised Americans who see a legislature increasingly behind the times. Regardless of the fact that the only way Gonzo will ever be removed from office is at the behest of Bush and this vote would have been yet another non-binding resolution he would undoubtedly have ignored, the impact will be the same for those already at odds with the Dem leadership.

But while Congress may have failed to pass a vote of no-confidence against Gonzo, the judiciary issued a clear rebuke of one of this amnesic AG's most controversial legacies. Today an appeals court ruled that the administration did not have standing to hold a Qatari man as an "enemy combatant", the only one known to be held under that status inside the US. Many are analyzing what implications this ruling may have but I for one am thankful that not all of the branches of government have been co-opted by the ideological drive to further entrench some of the more egregious affronts to the rule of law.

Meme roundups on Gonzo here and the ruling here.


(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)


For Your Consideration: Blogger Burnout.

Kvatch is taking a bit of a vacation from the blogosphere due to a drain on his blogging batteries. I can almost hear his inner Scotty exclaiming "I'm giving her all she's got Captain!" just as the batteries reach critical. Kvatch has asked some of us to keep the place going, so I thought I'd beat out a post on blogger burnout. It somehow seems appropriate as without blogger burnout I would not be bashing out this particular post in the first place. Odd... I think I've just described my own blogging temporal distortion!

Kvatch posts on a regular basis regarding issues which you don't see get much, if any, play in the wider blogosphere. This style is much more difficult than running to MSNBC or CNN, grabbing the headline from the politics section and letting fly with blogging wisdom. Kvatch has to dig around in the nether reaches of the intertubes, looking for those news nuggets that will interest his readers but are not interesting enough to get the blaring headlines. In the words of President Bush, "it's tough work!"

To top it all off, there comes the sense after slogging along day after day that nothing is really going to change. How many times must one raise the alarm, sound the charge, lay down the logic, and generally scream from the rooftop before we see results? For example Alberto Gonzales may not be fit to be a cub scout den leader, but no matter how horrible he looks after all the hearings, no matter how many tree's are killed to make the paper for the reams of editorials pointing to his manifest inability to lead the DOJ, no matter what outrage is expressed where ever it is expressed... Abu G. still remains in office because of our dunderheaded President. It can seem so freaking futile!

There are moments where it all does seem worth while. Last years mid term elections were validation for all the rants since the 04 election. The fruits of the election are manifest daily with hearings and votes which never would have come to pass without Democratic control of Congress.

But it is understandable when one of our own finally bows out of the fray for a bit of a breather. I used the occassion of my wedding and honey moon last year to bow out for a month... well past my return to normal life following the festivities. We would much rather miss Kvatch in the early summer of 07 than mid campaign next year. So we wish him a relaxing time away from the fray, and look forward to his return, batteries recharged and bringing insight to stuff which we otherwise may not ever hear about.

Whose Side are We on this Week Again?

Some months ago, there was talk of what was coined the 80% solution, whereby the US would essentially back the dominant Shiite population in suppressing the Sunni minority which makes up most of the insurgency. Then we learned by way of Sy Hersh that the Bushies' concerns had shifted to counteracting the growing influence of Iran. This new regional strategy involved supporting various Sunni fundamentalist groups. Some of them even had ties to or at least were not antipathy to Al-Qaeda.

Now we are getting the assistance of the Sunni insurgents to help root out Al-Qaeda for us. WaPo reported on this over the weekend and The NY Times followed up on it this morning. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out some of the risks involved in such alliances of convenience.
[C]ritics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop drawdown increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves.
Speaking of which. (WaPo again)
A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.
Throw into the mix that we are also apparently getting help from Sudan with spying on the insurgency at the same time we are condemning their actions in Darfur and it's gotten to the point that distinguishing friend from foe is enough to make one's head hurt in the attempt. Imagine how soldiers on the ground must feel.

More from Carpetbagger and Maha.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 06/11/07

The Amphibious One as I like to call my host here has his Kvetching roundups he does from time to time. I on the other hand like Opening The Files to bring readers a sampling of what's making news in the blogosphere with my own unique commentary thrown in for some flavor. Here now is this week's OTF for all you frogs and frogettes.


Correcting Mistakes vs. Making New Ones

This AM, the blogs are alight with discussion about two appearances on Sunday's talk show circuit. First was former Secretary of State Colin Powell who among other things endorsed closing the detention facility at Gitmo and restoring the writ of habeas corpus. Many will no doubt agree with him that correcting these two blots on our record will go a long way toward repairing some of the damage done to our reputation and image in the world. Powell was also coy about who he'd like to see elected as next president.

Of course if Joe "Cheney Lite" Lieberman has any say in the matter, whoever that is will have a lot more on their plate of problems to deal with. Holy Joe says we should bomb the heck out of Iran if they keep meddling in Iraq. Perhaps if Joe would take a moment to remove the VP's hand from his posterior he might realize that smashing the China Shop next door might not be the best way to fix the Pottery Barn we are currently trying to glue back together.

J. Kingston Pierce wonders if Powell's avoidance of a party preference is a sign that this once loyal Bushie now realizes such fidelity comes at great cost.

The Talking Dog says Powell's unsolicited advice will probably have about as much impact as it did when he was still with the administration.

Jeff Huber says that regardless of whether the Bushies truly intend to drawdown and "go long" in Iraq, the Cheneyites are pushing hard for the "long bomb" in Iran.

Jane Hamsher writes a letter.

Carpetbagger wonders if Joe was one of the "crazies" we were warned about. Cernig says there are enough Little Eichmanns Ahmadinejads on both sides.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files and State of the Day)


Dropping Anchor Before the Captain Jumps Ship

In recent weeks, we've been treated to a new narrative for the war in Iraq. Many bloggers and pundits set about the task of explaining how the Korean model analogy just does not fit the dynamic of what is currently taking place there. Nonetheless, the Bushies seem adamant that we will be in Iraq for some time to come. But what shape that presence will take remains to be seen.

From WaPo:
U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a "post-occupation" troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years.

This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages. It is based on officials' assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose...

Even as they focus on the realities in Iraq, officials here are also keeping an eye on Washington politics. Despite the talk in the U.S. capital that Petraeus has only until September to stabilize the situation in Iraq, some officers here are quietly suggesting that they really may have until Jan. 20, 2009 -- when President Bush leaves office -- to put the smaller, revised force in place. They doubt that Bush will pull the plug on the war or that Congress will ultimately force his hand.
Does make you wonder whatever happened to "they'll follow us home" doesn't it? Personally, I have no doubts that Bush would start to bring troops home prior to his departure if it meant salvaging some of this legacy. Perhaps the surge is in fact geared toward that goal. Increase the number of troops by just enough and for long enough that everyone forgets what the old numbers use to look like. It may sound like a cheap trick to pull but what will stand out in the minds of most Americans will be the scenes of soldiers being greeted by their loved ones on tarmacs across the nation. It will be feel good time for the lame duck and any GOPer within spitting distance is bound to get some runoff.

But it won't be feel good time for all, certainly not the soldiers still stationed there. Their war will still go on, only now they are left with fewer men and resources with which to fight it. And I also think this move to a decreased but long term presence is a way of anchoring the next president's legacy to his. No leader wants to be the one to "lose" a war. Bush's failure to end to his will be a shackle that drags down the next person to take over in 2009. Should that be a Democrat, all the better they be blamed for the aftermath.

(Getting stretched a little thin with X-posts at The Xsociate Files, State of the Day, and All Spin Zone)

At Least He Didn't Call Him Benny

Greetings to all lily pad patrons. I am The Xsociate and Kvatch has graciously offered me the chance to fill in for him while he recharges. So I hope you all enjoy my sometimes serious and sometimes snarky take on the news and politics of the day.


With Paris-a-palooza looking as though it could be finally dying down some, I'd like to turn our attention to another spoiled oligarch whose decision making processes could have a far greater impact than a drunk Hilton behind the wheel.

I am of course speaking of President Bush. He is currently doing a bit of globe trotting, having attended the G8 Summit and making a layover at the Vatican this weekend. Anyway, Russia is currently in a bit of a tizzy over the pending placement of missile defense batteries in various European countries. To try to allay the concerns of his soul-eyed Russian counterpart, President Bush had this to say.
My message will be Vladimir — I call him Vladimir — you shouldn't fear a missile defense system.
Now we know Bush has at best a fleeting relationship with the English language so it's not surprising that the above audio comes across as "Vlademer". Making ones name sound like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon does not strike me as the best way to calm rising tensions.

Well, Dubya has now made what some are calling a Holy Gaffe by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" rather than the usual "Holiness". But with this president's proclivity for making up pet names for his associates, we should all just be thankful he chose to abstain from some of his more colorful colloquialism.

(Getting stretched a little thin with X-posts at The Xsociate Files, State of the Day, and All Spin Zone)


Kvatch Says: Read This!


Kvatch Battery

On May 26th Blognonymous passed its second anniversary, a fact which I chose not to post about because lately I've found blogging on a daily basis to be increasingly difficult. It's not that there's a dearth of things to write about, but rather that I'm not finding anything interesting to say.

I always promised myself that I'd never let Blognonymous become just a rehash of the daily news--that if I didn't have some unique perspective to offer, something funny to say, that I wouldn't post at all. So...is Blognonymous going dark? I hope not, but frankly my blogging batteries need to recharge, and thus I think that I'm going to have to take a little break, and shift my creative energies elsewhere.

In the meantime, I'd like to make you an offer. Blognoymous gets about 200 visits a day of which about half is search engine traffic. For better or worse, I have a knack for crafting titles that bring in the clicks. So here's the deal: Until my blogging muse returns, think of my humble abode as the biggest open trackback in history. Got a topic you're just burning to generate some additional buzz for? Email me and I'll link to it. Think you can out-kvetch Kvatch? Be a guest poster and give it a try.

With luck, my muse will return, and I'll be back in no time.

Thanks for reading.


UPDATED 2007/06/08 1:10 pm

SadButTrue points out that it may not be obvious how to contact me. My profile is linked to the picture of me in the banner. Just click it, or you can email me at [kvkopf AT GeeMale.com] (you know what to do with that).


On The Environment, Democrats To Finish A Republican Job

4 years! For 4 god-damned years California has waited through Bu$hCo delays, administration stonewalling, and EPA dissembling. Every lawsuit that has made it through the court system has ended with a ruling in favor of states that want to regulate their own air quality. With the 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the administration can no longer legally prevent California from putting in place our landmark controls on C02 emissions, and the EPA has been instructed to grant California its exemption. So...just when you think that we're finally going to see some movement on clean air standards... A couple of Democratic f*cks move to finish the job for the GOP.

And who are these "Republican-lite" ass-wipes? Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), a long time friend of Big Auto, and Rick Boucher (D-WV) who together control the committee and sub-committee that write environmental regulations for the House. And what do they want to do? First, they intend to amend the Clean Air Act so that states no longer have the authority to set their own emissions standards, even with an EPA exemption. Second, they intend to take away the EPA's power--affirmed by Massachusetts v. EPA--to set climate rules and vest that power...well...nowhere.

In other words, they plan to f*ck high-population, poor air-quality states on the East and West coasts in order to prevent economic losses in their own states. Way to go guys. Taking that whole party unity thing seriously I see. Just goes to show that money is the motivator, regardless of your party.


Seriously...Terrorist Attacks Are A Good Thing

And in the, "...you just can't make this sh*t up department," we have Dennis Milligan the newly elected chair of the Arkansas Republican Party:
At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]...
Let me get this straight: You're an advocate for attacks? Get all those leftists and GOP apostates in line, huh?
...the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.
Ah! So you think that more attacks on Bush's watch will convince us that the loss of civil rights, constitutional violations, billions wasted, and an imperial presidency were all worth it?

Are you sure you're from the same state that produced Bill Clinton?


The iPhone Is Doomed - Here's Why

So now we have the release date. On June 29th, Apple will release the gadget that should be the coolest thing since the original iPod...but isn't. And ironically it's not the iPhone's fault. Nope! Apple has entered into a deal with AT&T that will make the iPhone the greatest "also-ran" of Internet-enabled gadgets ever brought to market.

"But why Kvatch? Why are you so down on the iPhone?"

Well my friends, let me tell you...it breaks my heart. You see, the iPhone is the device I've waited for all my short life. It's the perfect synthesis of the two gadgets that this frog really wants in one perfectly designed "lust until you bust" package: My digital assistant and my digital music player. The fact that the iPhone can also make calls is a bonus...I guess. But I wouldn't really use it for that because what I really want is that beautiful, high-resolution screen; that "now it's vertical...whoops...now it's horizontal" switching. I want that video/music player that also happens to be my calendar, my email, my stock watcher, and my Internet browser. I want WiFi and Bluetooth. I want all of those really cool Apple widgets that make PalmOS look like cuneiform on a stone tablet.

But alas, it is not to be. Because what I don't want is a mandatory f*cking 2-year service agreement with AT&T. I don't give a sh*t about making calls, and I don't want to switch from my current provider (T-Mobile). So sorry Apple. The iPhone may be the coolest thing since sliced bread, but I don't think that you're gonna sell as many as you hope, and the sad thing is that it could have been so sweet.


I'd Like A Rebate From King Coal

A recent Associated Press report examines the distribution of carbon emissions on a state by state basis. It's a pretty sobering read, and not surprisingly states that use coal to generate most of their electricity are the biggest polluters. Though many of these states are eager to point out that they...
...are providing electricity to customers beyond their borders, including Californians. Wyoming is the largest exporter of energy to other states, Gov. Dave Freudenthal told The Associated Press.
Unfortunately for Gov. Freudenthal, correcting for energy exports, Wyoming would have to use less than 1/12 of all energy it produces for its per capita emissions to approach those of it's next door neighbor, Idaho, and the governor admits that it's not the case.

Moreover, such unsupported assertions are really just a dodge. California uses very little energy from coal and has reduced it's carbon footprint per capita by 11% from 1990 to 2003. And how exactly does that happen? Through the use of higher cost, lower emissions sources like natural gas, hydro-electric, and nuclear. So in essence, residents of our nation's most populous state are providing a sort of "carbon subsidy" that supports the staggering emissions and cheap electricity enjoyed by the residents of states like Wyoming (highest emissions per capita) and Texas (highest carbon emissions period).

Maybe I should get some sort of rebate on my higher rates. Think Bu$hCo could help me with that?


Should Have Called It "Ogle Street View"

Have you tried the search engine giant's latest spin of their mapping technology, Google Street View? If not, then you're in for a nasty surprise. This technology uses high-resolution photographs to give you detailed street level views of a number of cities around the US, and the results are both voyeuristic and disturbing.

Google claims that it's all perfectly legal since the technology doesn't show anything that cannot already be seen from the street. Of course, most people on the street don't have 4x zoom eyeballs. So one wonders what exactly makes Google think that they're on solid legal footing here?

A person who peers into your windows is trespassing and usually violating local "criminal surveillance" (aka. "peeping-tom") laws. A photographer armed with telephoto lens, trying to catch you in an unguarded moment, may also be violating anti-stalking laws such as we have here in California. Enterprising individuals will almost certainly use Street View to produce mashups that...say...assign apartment numbers to windows or add people's names to buildings.

Hell...the detail on the photograph of my block is so good that I can tell that it was photographed in early spring, at about 9:00 in the morning, on a weekend, and had our shutters not been closed you could have caught the Frogette and I having breakfast.

Let the privacy violations begin!


GOP Good News Friday