Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The 2005 Global Press Freedom rankings from Freedom House are out and the US is in a six-way tie for 24th place. I'm so proud.

Of course, the worlds biggest Promoter of Democracy could never hope to rival the kind of freedom of the press enjoyed in places like Finland and, um, the Bahamas. At least not while we keep electing jokers like Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama:
Congressman slams Maher over Army remark

Associated Press Writer
Published May 23, 2005, 6:11 PM CDT

WASHINGTON -- A congressman says comedian Bill Maher's comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."
. . .

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."
. . .

"I don't want (Maher) prosecuted," Bachus said. "I want him off the air."

Numerous television stations pulled Maher's previous show, "Politically Incorrect," from the air in September 2001 after he argued terrorists weren't cowards when they slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center a week earlier.

For the record, I find Maher annoying and I don't watch his show. I also think it's in poor taste to make fun of Pvt. England, who was oxygen-deprived at birth and as a consequence was speech impaired and had trouble learning to read. A rich media guy making fun of a retarded kid who wanted to serve her country is not my idea of entertainment. If somebody's going to be charged in the Abu Ghraib scandal, it should be the people giving the orders. People like Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzalez.

But that's not the point. Being an obnoxious jerk was not a crime last time I checked. It's not a free press at all if it only provides content that is inoffensive to the sensibilities of Alabama Congressmen. The whole idea of an elected government official attempting to get a show taken off the air because he doesn't agree with its political content is deeply scary and deeply un-American. Criticizing military recruitment is "treason?" What's next,a ban on "Thought Crime?" These are dark, dark days we're living through.
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Toll Increases

I hope to get some feedback from Elwood on this. Tolls went up yesterday on the Dulles Tollroad. The tolls will be used to fund a Metrorail extension through Tysons Corner and eventually to the Dulles Airport (IAD). I guess that's why people don't like it. More to the point they are just pissed because getting quarters is hard.

Maybe more later, but a few links and a few points.

Boycott Tyson's

UPDATE (5-25)

Here's the website of the group urging boycotts of the Toll Road. If they have to take a day off of work to avoid the Toll Road, doesn't that kind of prove the State's point about the Toll Road being an important link that needs to be a funding generator for alternatives? And if they don't have to take a day off work and they can just take an alternative route to get to work, doesn't that weaken their argument that the toll increase is such a big deal?

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Count it: the best DC blog screen shot ever!! Fucking verisimilitude and ALL THAT.

This is gonna get NAAS on the DC blog scene for sure.
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From dcist.com

BEAUTIFUL. The juxtaposition and structure of that picture is more than I can take.
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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Whoops! Lost it . . .

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Chalabi: "I'm not a crook!"

The big news today is that the US government can't account for approximately $100 million in cash allegedly used in the "reconstruction" of Iraq following the March 2003 invasion. According to Matt Kelley of the AP:
became awash in billions of dollars in cash after the U.S. invasion two years ago, often with few or no controls over how that money was spent and accounted for. From the $8.8 billion provided to Iraq's interim government to millions provided to U.S. contractors, investigations have detailed a system ripe for abuse.

The latest indication of that came Wednesday when investigators released a report saying $96.6 million in cash could not be properly accounted for. The total included more than $7 million that was simply gone, according to the report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

It said $89.4 million in cash payments in south-central Iraq were made without the necessary supporting documentation, the investigation found. Indications of fraud and other wrongdoing are the subject of separate, continuing probes.

Wednesday's report accused civilian contract managers of "simply washing accounts" to try to make the books balance. Staffing shortages and the quick turnover of those responsible for the cash contributed to the problems, the report said, echoing the findings in previous reports.

Defense Department staffers are said to be frantically searching under Green Zone couches and the glove compartments of their Hummvees, as well as offshore bank accounts of various Iranian-backed terror groups including Ibrahim al_Jafaari's Dawa Party.

"I have no idea what all the fuss is about," interim Oil Minister Ahmed Chalabi told our intrepid reporter from the deck of his new 500-foot yacht, the Hammurabi. "The occupation's financial controls were much better than Jordan's have ever been."

Former Coalition Provisional Authority Jerry Bremer has said he "might have left [the money] in [his] other pants." He said he will "be sure to look for it" when he gets home.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

1st and 10

Random post about sports. You probably won't hear me talk about sports ever again, so enjoy.

For two guys who claim to be sports columnists (Bayless and Paige), a guy who hosts a morning sports talk show (Crawford) and a network (ESPN) that is devoted to sports 24-7 (well, at least when they aren't talking about NASCAR), the ubiquitous segment called on ESPN's daily Cold Pizza, 1st and 10 sure doesn't make any sense. I mean, NONE. Maybe someone can explain it to me, but here's what I've been able to figure out so far.

  1. 1st and 10 is an obvious football reference. Cold Pizza is a sports show on ESPN, so there is that, plus there is a little zebra striped official in a graphic at the bottom of the TV screen moving one end of the "chains" so yeah, football. I just wanted to establish that in case someone tried to come back and try to say, "1st and 10 doesn't refer to football"
  2. The first topic to be discussed is known as "1st and 10". The next topic is called "2nd and 10" Huh? Bayless and Paige must be so evenly matched that they didn't make any progress one way or the other.
  3. After 1st and 10, we move to 2nd and 10. I mentioned that. No progress is made, so still "10 to go". So then why did the official guy in the graphic move the "chains"? Shouldn't it be 2nd and 9, if the "chains" were moved one unit?
  4. What does the 10 have to do with anything at all? There aren't 10 questions (which is what I thought at first, although that would have meant having an 8th down, which is TRULY stooopid). Can you get a first down somehow? I don't think so.
  5. On the segment I just watched, at least 2 of the questions were about basketball, not football. Maybe they should change the segment to be basketball themed and call it "10-pointers" (keep in mind that the number 10 doesn't really have anything to do with anything) . Then for each new question, a graphic would show a basketball player shooting a "10-pointer". What is a 10-pointer? I actually think there was such a thing on that MTV Rock and Jock basketball game.

No sense. At all. In fact, it seems to be nothing but pure laziness.

How about this for a name: "4 questions. Which are sometimes about sports."

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