Useless but fun. John Scalzi suggests taking your entire MP3 collection, loading it up in your jukebox software, hitting shuffle
Gary Farber has two choice words for Ralph Nader.
The United States is preparing a detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to house tens of thousands of refugees who may flee unrest in Haiti, officials in humanitarian organizations said on Wednesday.
One official said the State Department had briefed a number of non-governmental organizations on its plans to accommodate as many as 50,000 refugees in the detention facility until they could be sent back to Haiti.
The facility would not be in the same place as the prison camp being operated by the U.S. military for detainees captured in Afghanistan and being treated as enemy combatants in the “war on terrorism.”
Reuters just couldn’t, it seems, bring itself to protest against the use of such an inhumane facility to house refugees. But please note that they’re still using scare quotes around the phrase “war on terrorism.”
As a funnier man than me often says, “I don’t want to go off on a rant here, but…”
Jebus farging cripes already. Let’s look at the last 29 months:
We were hit by four attacks, hours apart, on two cities, killing over 3,000 Americans.
In response, we toppled the government of Afghanistan, and still have 10,000 soldiers there patrolling for bad guys.
We’ve pressured foreign governments from Islamabad, to Riyadh, to Damascus.
We’ve lobbed UAV-launched Hellfire missiles at a carload of terrorists in Yemen.
We invaded, occupied, and are helping completely restructure Iraq.
We’ve strengthened old military alliances, all but discarded others, and forged all-new ones.
We’ve staked out offensive bases throughout Central Asia.
Our defense budget, troop pay, number of soldiers in uniform, weapons procurement, and National Guard deployments are all way, way up.
So which goddamn part of the phrase “war on terrorism” needs quotes around it?
From the AP:
The Army has decided to cancel its Comanche helicopter program, a multibillion-dollar project to build a new-generation chopper for armed reconnaissance missions, officials said Monday.
The contractors for Comanche are Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
With about $8 billion already invested in the program, and the production line not yet started, the cancellation is one of the largest in the history of the Army. It follows the Pentagon’s decision in 2002 to cancel the Crusader artillery program — against the wishes of Army leaders.
Pentagon officials said a public announcement was planned for Monday afternoon.
Smart move. The Commanche would have been a damn fine chopper — but the need for a costly, high-tech, lightly-armed, and stealthy scout chopper died with the successes of the Global Hawk and Predator UAVs.
The California Yankee has more on the Supreme Court and that (shhh!) secret case.
The Hindustan Times gets the Iran story mostly right:
The results of the just concluded elections wonComments Off
This very funny Salon piece accurately describes life in a computer support call center. Rings very true to the experience I had ten years ago, when I took a temp job with Apple Computer in Austin right after I finished grad school.
Fair warning, you’ll have to minimize and wait for the annoying Salon commercial to get over with unless you’ve a sucker–uh, I mean, unless you have a paid subscription…
Fifty U.S. Marines were headed to Haiti on Monday to protect the American Embassy and diplomats after rebels overran Haiti’s second-largest city and began detaining supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Marines were requested after rebels threatened to attack the capital, Port-au-Prince, soon.
How many times is that now we’ve had to send in the Marines to Haiti?
An update to Saturday’s post:
Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts remain a mystery to U.S. and Pakistani forces as they crank up efforts to flush out al Qaeda and Taliban rebels hiding near Afghanistan’s eastern frontier, officials said on Monday.
U.S. military officials in Kabul have boldly predicted his capture in 2004, and Britain’s Sunday Express weekly reported that the world’s most wanted man was “boxed in” by U.S. and British special forces in the rugged Pakistani mountains along the Afghan border.
The newspaper said bin Laden was within a 10 mile by 10 mile area, being monitored by a U.S. spy satellite.
“As far as the reports of Osama bin Laden’s location, I don’t take much credence in them because if we knew where he was in Afghanistan, we would go get him and if the Pakistanis knew where he was in Pakistan they would go get him,” U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Bryan Hilferty said.
The conspiracy nuts will tell we won’t catch him until much closer to Election Day.
Today’s is Fred C. Gardner in the New York Post. Here’s a taste:
THE talking heads claim that Sen. John Kerry “owns” the Vietnam- veteran vote – because he’s one of us.
Evoking Shakespeare, he refers to us as his “Band of Brothers.” Well, he’s one of us, but he doesn’t own us, or our vote.
Not mine, anyway.
I don’t know which John Kerry to believe: John Kerry the war hero – or John Kerry the war protester.
The more I learn about Kerry, the more he puzzles me; the more he scares me.
He served in river-patrol craft, the Swift boats – as did I, briefly, in 1967. So I know first-hand how dangerous the missions were.
By most accounts he performed admirably – bravely.
Then he came home, denounced his service and spread tales of atrocities that never happened. In doing so, he smeared good men who deserved much better.
Now go read the rest.
Here’s your chance to listen in on bloggers discussing the Democratic primary race.
So you know it must be at Tim Blair‘s.
CNN Correspondent Kasra Naji explains why the reformers lost in Iran’s recent parliamentary election:
They lost a good deal of credibility with the Iranian public because they failed to initiate many of the reforms they had promised. One could argue that in parliament their efforts to legislate reformist bills were blocked at every turn by the hardline Guardian Council. And there is plenty of evidence to back that argument.
But at the end of the day, they failed to deliver on important issues. And in some cases when many people expected them to stand up to the hardliners’ excesses outside parliament, they proved feeble. I met a lot of people in the past few days who said to me that even if thousands of reformists had not been barred from standing in the elections, they still would not have voted for them.
Could it be the reformers lost because the most well-known ones were banned from running?
Could they have failed in their reforms because they’ve been stymied (sometimes jailed or disappeared) by the mullahs?
Could they have “proved feeble” because of Iran’s increasingly thuggish police state?
And how much more firmly could they have stood against the hardliner’s “excesses outside parliament,” when those excesses included the murder and imprisonment of the reformer’s student allies?
If you ever wonder why CNN is accused of bias, look no further than the words of their own correspondents.
UPDATE: Laurence Simon writes to CNN.
The VodkaFamily car-buying experience continues.
Last night we went to the local Jeep-Chrysler dealer to test drive the Liberty, Grand Cherokee, and the Pacifica.
One look told us everything we needed to know about the Liberty — too small to be the hauler Melissa needs. So we didn’t even ask to drive it. If the back seats need to go down just to make a trip to Sam’s Club, and you’ve got two adults in front. . . then what, the baby has to ride on the luggage rack? Bad enough the little un(?)conceived bugger will get his first sunburn at six months, riding around town in daddy’s convertible.
Melissa drove the Grand Cherokee Limited around the way, and was impressed. Nice ride, pretty damn good pick-up for a medium-size SUV (thanks to the 4.7 liter V-8), and the leather is first rate. I
From the Sunday Telegraph:
A BRITISH Sunday newspaper is claiming Osama bin Laden has been found and is surrounded by US special forces in an area of land bordering north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Sunday Express, known for its sometimes colourful scoops, claims the al-Qaeda leader has been “sighted” for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.
The paper claims he is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta. The region is said to be peopled with bin Laden supporters and the terrorist leader is estimated to also have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards with him.
The claim is attributed to “a well-placed intelligence source” in Washington, who is quoted as saying: “He (bin Laden) is boxed in.”
UPDATE: The Australian adds one more detail — “The area makes an all-out conventional military assault impossible, according to the report. ”
UPDATE: And from DeepikaGlobal:
The US has scotched reports coming out of Pakistan that its forces have captured Osama bin Laden.
”That would be news to everybody in this room. No, I haven’t heard anything — haven’t heard anything like that,” spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters at the White House here yesterday.
Asked to clarify what prompted President Pervez Musharraf to say a couple of weeks ago that Pakistani forces would have bin Laden by the year-end, the spokesman said, ”I speak for the President.
Obviously, I don’t speak for President Musharraf.” As for whether the capture of bin Landen would signal the end of the war on terrorism, McClellan said the war on terrorism would continue.
UPDATE: Read this Washington Post story to learn why you shouldn’t get too excited by today’s reports.
UPDATE: The Command Post has multiple bloggers on the story.
Today is Saturday of Mardi Gras weekend, which for my money is the best day of the year to be in New Orleans (Fat Tuesday is more for the locals). It’s also a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day in the South.
The parades are rolling on St. Charles Avenue, the sidewalks and neutral ground are clogged with ladders, coolers, jambalaya cookers and happy people. Beads are hanging from the trees and power lines, and a grand time is being had by all. Tucks is rolling right now (pun definitely intended), and tonight Endymion will be out in all its gaudy glory (it’s one to miss, in my opinion, but still).
And I’m running around Atlanta buying gift bags and other assorted wedding crap.
Have you seen the Simpsons episode where a bunch of the kids are stuck on a desert island, and one of them says, “I’m so hungry, I could eat at Arbys!”? Well, I’m jonesing for NOLA so bad right now, I just had lunch at Copeland’s.
I think I’m going to go kill half a case of Abita Turbodog right now…
Steve here. Will remains missing, presumed drunk.
Stephen Bainbridge has your Friday Recipe this week.
Do not — I repeat, do not — miss it.
*The first two make the last one redundant.
A huge thanks to Will Collier for subbing for me this week. It’s a damn shame, almost, that he’s starting his own blog after the honeymoon — he’ll be missed around here.
Meantime, I’m not stupid enough to delete his VP-authoring privileges. Will’s welcome to post whenever he likes. Until, that is, the ungrateful bastard gets his own blog going. Then the wretch is on his own.
I kid, of course. Mostly.
Busy here with family stuff, and extra-busy today putting together a spreadsheet. Melissa is in the market for a new car, and we have the list narrowed down to seven serious candidates. Eight, if you include the Chrysler Crossfire. It’s pretty much a coupe version of the 2003 Mercedes SLK 230, but with prettier sheet metal. On the other hand, its 7.6 cubic feet of cargo space makes it a bit impractical for Melissa’s needs.
We need a baby/grocery/Home Depot hauler, so we’ve been putting all the details into Excel. Don’t laugh — we selected our honeymoon package based on a spreadsheet. OK, laugh really hard. We don’t mind.
The candidates are, in order of “prettiness”:
1. Chrysler Pacifica.
2. Dodge Magnum.
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee.
4. Jeep Liberty.
5. Chevy Trailblazer.
6. Ford Explorer.
7. Dodge Durango.
Test driving begins tonight — although we’ll have to wait a month before trying out the Hemi-powered Magnum R/T. Shame, really — it’s a contender. The crash ratings on the Grand Cherokee, Trailblazer, and Exploder leave me less than impressed. And the new Durango looks too much like a minivan. We also thought about the GMC Envoy XUV, but it makes the Durango look pretty. And it’s several thou more expensive than any of the others.
And, sad to say, the Liberty is probably too small. Which leaves us with MOPAR’s Pacifica or Magnum as the top two choices.
So far, that is. If you own or have driven any of these seven cars, drop me a note in the Drinks and let me know what you think.
UPDATE: I don’t think the Pacifica counts as a minivan, otherwise it wouldn’t be on the list. It’s more like a wagon with some SUVness added on.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Please don’t recommend any foreign cars. It’s not that we don’t buy imports — we do! — it’s that Melissa’s job gets her some very nice discounts with DaimlerChrysler domestic, Ford, and GM.
ONE MO’ UPDATE: We will not be purchasing, looking at, considering, or even in any way having random thoughts about minivans.
I think this’ll do it for my guest turn as a VodkaPundit. I’d like to thank everybody who read along and commented in this week, and particularly thank Steve for so graciously sharing his site and readership with me.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t offer hosannas in the general directions of James Joyner, Mark Hasty, Pejman, and everybody else who linked over to my posts this week, with special thanks to the Oracle Of Blog Mountain, who favored me with not one, but two certified Instalanches.
As Steve predicted (miserable slimy blog-pusher that he is), I’m now hooked, and I’ll be re-starting my old site as a shiny new blog starting in April. I’ll pass along the word to your snarky neighborhood bartender once it’s officially up and running.
Thanks again, y’all have a fun Mardi Gras weekend…
According to Fox News, Ralph Nutter is going to officially announce this weekend that he’ll run for President as an independent. I wonder how many disenchanted Dean Dongs will vote for him in November?
Oh, and that “HA-Ha!” sound you hear isn’t Nelson Muntz, it’s Karl Rove…
Somebody in Colorado, go beat on Martini Boy’s door and make sure he isn’t dead.
If I have to miss Mardi Gras this year because of wedding crap (uh, I mean, yes dear, of course I’d rather be here to meet with the photographer), the least he can do is take a couple of Advil and make an appearance…
Sean Connery is participating in an anti-ChiCom protest in Taiwan. Good for Sir Sean.
Apropos of very little, wouldn’t it be great if Hollywood were to make a James Bond movie starring Connery, playing Bond as an older man? If done the right way (i.e. emphasize the character instead of gadgets and stuff blowing up, I’m not talking “Never Say Never Again, Again” here), it’d be a great career-capper for Connery, something like Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.”
Never happen, of course…