Friday, September 10, 2004

Have You Heard The Latest Gossip?

I know this sounds crazy, but we're still at war.

Can you believe it?

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Searching for victims or survivors, the young man in a black T-shirt swung a sledgehammer into a slab of concrete perched atop debris - all that was left of a house blasted by U.S. warplanes. Nine people, two of them children, died in the ruins.

About 100 people watched as the young man labored under a blazing sun Thursday to clear the damage from the U.S. airstrike, which the Americans said targeted a suspected terrorist safehouse. Religious books, including "Three Theses on Jihad," were scattered amid the debris.
There was no evidence that the attack got its target. Instead, locals said, it only whipped up new anger in Fallujah, which is among a handful of Sunni cities that have fallen under insurgent control. On Friday, U.S. jets again fired missiles into targets in the city for a fourth successive day. Doctors said one man was killed in Friday's strike.

The reaction of Fallujah's residents to the strikes suggests that the city may well prove the toughest to take back.

"Our faith has been strengthened by the fight against the Americans," said Abu Mohammed, a 40-year-old cleric who refused to give his full name. "We feel in danger. This is an infidel occupation that wants to destroy Islam. We must fight."

U.S. Marines lost the city last spring when they lifted a three-week siege and handed over security to the U.S.-sanctioned Fallujah Brigade, commanded by former officers in Saddam Hussein's army.

But the city quickly fell under the control of hardline Muslim clerics and the mujahedeen gunmen who fought - and many Iraqis would say defeated - the vaunted United States Marines.

Over the past five months, the new masters of Fallujah have been consolidating their grip, building their Islamic society - and preparing for a new showdown with the Americans.


With the clerics in charge, and with their mujahedeen fighters hailed heroes for fighting the Marines to a standstill, the religious establishment has promoted tales of the April siege into something approaching mythology.

That has bolstered the prestige of the clerical hierarchy among the city's 300,000 people, who consider their "victory" over the Marines an example of "divine intervention." Residents insist that the city has become virtually crime free thanks to the leadership of God-fearing men.
Residents keenly swap tales of supernatural forces at work. Reports of visions of the Prophet Muhammad appearing in Fallujah and leading the warriors are taken seriously, even drawing mention in Friday sermons in the city's mosques.

Accounts of giant desert spiders attacking American troops, white pigeons protecting the mujahedeen in battle and "heavenly" scents emanating from the bodies of martyrs spread through the city.

The fact that such stories are taken seriously in Fallujah reflects the strong and mystical Sufi traditions among the city's population, something that separates them from others within the so-called Sunni Triangle, a large swath of land to the north and west of Baghdad where resistance to the Americans is fiercest.

There is another side to Fallujah's religious revival. Some people have been flogged in public for drinking alcohol. At least 30 have been executed for allegedly spying for the Americans, according to residents closely associated with the mujahedeen.

If I recieved a flogging for each time I got drunk and saw giant desert spiders, I'd be one battered son of a bitch by now.


Peter, Did You Get The Memo?

Apropos of the whole "forged memos" incident, ladies and gentemen, I give you The Editors.

A lot of brainpower is currently occupied researching Vietnam-era typewriters, studying the finer points of font spacing, and experimenting with ways to produce duplicates of the Killian memos on various mechanical and electronic platforms, in order to determine if, indeed, these memos are the genuine article, or a modern forgery. Who knew that forensic typography could be so boring?

Let me save everyone a whole lot of time. They are genuine. How do I know? Because the internet is currently awash in wingnuts claiming the memos are fakes. Ergo, they are for real. Q.E.D.

Some people may feel that I'm just being flip here. Is that so, some people? Tell me: how rich would you be right now if, every time something was posted on a right-wing message board, or everytime Drudge had an exclusive, or any time Rush Limbaugh revealed a secret truth that the liberal media won't tell you, you called up your bookie and put down $20 even money on "bullshit"? The correct answer is: "pretty fucking rich". The correct answer is: "I would never, never lose." So, if anyone doubts my methodology, I have a crisp new $20 bill that just told me that I'm 100% right and you're just too dumb to see it. If any of you champs out there think me and Andrew Jackson are both wrong, well then, today's your lucky day, because we're paying 2:1. If you need us, we'll be on the couch playing ESPN NHL 2K5. Peace.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Schwarzenegger's Top 5

In honor of the NFL's opening night, and with permission of Cigar Afficionado, we are reprinting CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Top 5 "Great Sports Films."


5 GREAT SPORTS FILMS by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Juan Lopez Seleccion No.2 is waiting, so let's make this fast.

5. We often find ourselves at a crossroads in life -- should I take the new job or stay at the old one, remain in the old familiar home or move to a more spacious one, chocolate or vanilla, Kerry or Bush -- but rare is the man who has faced the monumental quarry presented here, in my 5th "Great Sports Film" -- The Replacements.

Already having made the difficult decision to cross the picket-line in the midst of an NFL players strike, a group of rag-tag, semi-professional pigskinners -- led by Keanu Reeves in the role which defines a career that has been said to make even Robert DeNiro jealous (and rightly so) -- must now decide whether to give in to worry and self doubt, or follow head coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) down a path that could lead as easily to embarrassment as it could greatness.

Quarterback Shane Falco (Reeves) and McGinty are at each other's throat throughout this sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious tale of two personalities. However, by film's end they learn a little about each other, a lot about football, and a lot more about another game -- life.

4. Hunting has always been the most competitive sport -- ask that duck trying to dodge a buckshot load -- but never before has that competiveness been taken to the extremes it reaches in my 4th "Great Sports Film" -- Surviving The Game.

As homeless drifter Jack Murphy, rapper-turned-actor Ice-T brings a fierce realness to the role of a man being asked to compete for the ultimate prize -- his life.

Long before the dust ever clears, Murphy -- who comes to this awful predicament by way of phony benefactor Derek Wolfe (played with verve by screen vet F. Murray Abraham) -- must wrestle with the question of whether or not his life is even worth fighting for.

3. Who knew terrorism could be this fun?

And ice hockey this exciting. As notorious Batman-terrorist Mr. Freeze, I infuriated the Caped Crusader and dazzled audiences in my 3rd "Greatest Sports Film" -- the 1997 summer blockbuster Batman And Robin.

And it all began with that now-legendary opening sequence where Batman and Robin don ice skates to battle my goons in a deadly game of hockey.

At the last second, right before filming began, a panicked Joel Schumacher took me aside and asked if I thought the scene might come off as "corny" to the audience.

I patted him on the back and said, "Joel, if we pull this one off, we're going to own the audience."

And we did.

2. This is the formula for the perfect sports film:

Tom Cruise melting Nicole Kidman's heart + All of us melting with her = Everyone cheering as he melts the speedways in the 2nd "Great Sports Film" -- Days Of Thunder.

The other day, a friend of mine complained that Days Of Thunder -- which features Robert Duvall in the best role of his life (save for 1996's Phenomenon) -- was nothing but "Top Gun with race cars."

My response?


1. Because anyone with kids knows that holiday shopping is the only true "extreme" sport.

Jingle All The Way -- my # 1 "Great Sports Film" -- is a laugh-out-loud holiday comedy that features two industry giants, myself and Sinbad, at the top of their games.

True story -- I was speaking to my priest after church one Sunday not long after Jingle All The Way was released.

After making small talk for a few minutes, I said, "The next time you speak with Christ, tell him I said 'you're welcome.'"

"Why?" asked the priest.

"Because," I said, "I have finally created a film that encompasses the triumph and glory surrounding the celebration of his birth."

And then I told the guy to piss off.

UPDATE: Economic girly-man Ezra Klein of Pandagon is clearly copying my idea by doing his own film reviews. Get your own ideas pinko-blogger, I was smoking Bolivar Coronas Gigantes and watching Commie tanks invade my hometown before you were even born.


Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction Dept.

Does retroactively adding a comma to the text version of your speech count as flip-flopping?

From today's Washington Post:

In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney's statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: "(I)t's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with Cheney, however, the period at the end of "hit again" was removed and replaced with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as "just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war."

Yesterday, the transcript on the White House Web site was altered to make Cheney's remarks one sentence. Cheney's White House spokesman, Kevin Kellems, issued a statement saying that the first official transcript "contained a typographical error" and was an "interim draft." "These types of corrections are not uncommon in the transcription of verbal statements," Kellems said. "The final transcript accurately reflects the statement as delivered, which is clear when watching video of the event."


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The War Is Not Over

An editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

THE GRIM milestone came Tuesday -- 1,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. The war is not over.

The Bush administration clearly wants to portray the invasion of Iraq as an important component of the war on terrorism provoked by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There was no missing the mantra from last week's Republican convention: Iraq represented the shift from defense to offense against the terrorist threat. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reiterated that theme at his news conference Tuesday.

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic challenger, used the milestone to criticize President Bush. "He chose the date of the start of this war. He chose the moment, and he chose for America to go it alone," Kerry said. "Today, America is paying the price."

However, even Kerry is suggesting it will take a long-term commitment of U.S. troops and dollars to stabilize Iraq in the aftermath of the mess created by this pre-emptive war. The argument that the war on Iraq has made this a safer world is proving as illusory as those weapons of mass destruction.

This failed policy has now cost us the lives of 1,000 U.S. troops and an immeasurable loss of international standing and goodwill. It has also claimed the lives of an untold number of noncombatants in Iraq.

And the toll continues to rise.


Cheney To Americans: "A Vote For Kerry Is A Vote For Bin Laden."

this really happened.

COLUMBIA, Mo., Sept. 7 -- Vice President Cheney warned on Tuesday that if John F. Kerry is elected, "the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists, as the Bush campaign escalated a furious assault on the Democratic presidential nominee that has kept Kerry from gaining control of the election debate.

In Des Moines, Cheney went beyond previous restraints to suggest that the country would be more vulnerable to attack under Kerry. "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again," the vice president said, "that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war."

GOP stalwart Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger added this.

"If you vote for only one terrorist appeaser this year, make it Salim Abu Aziz, from my hit film
True Lies."

"If you vote for two, vote for
"Red" from That 70's Show -- shown here in the 1987 classic Robocop -- he is so scary, right?"


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A Disgusting Milestone

Congratulations Mr. President -- 1,000 American soldiers lost in Iraq.


Restaurant Critic

Just another one of the many hats I wear.

Whether enjoying one glass of wine or four bottles, Clyde's of Columbia is a delightful place to spend a Monday afternoon with friends.

Especially when you factor in that the bottles of wine in question are half-price on Mondays.

Clyde's of Columbia has a serene, natural setting on a quiet lake in this Maryland suburb. Diners can watch birds and waterfowl while enjoying our inviting American menu ranging from burgers, ribs, seafood and chili to lighter selections that leave room for a splendid array of home made desserts.

While overall, I found vegetarian selections to be somewhat lacking, the cheese quesadillas were delicious; and they aren't lying about the natural setting, it's quite relaxing.



It will be fascinating to see how much play the media gives the 1,000 death in Iraq. I imagine, unfortunately, that ala Paul Wolfowitz, most Americans believe the number of soldiers killed in that country is something closer to 700.

Maybe former Reagan-advisor Ken Adelman would like to revisit his "cakewalk" column from April 2003 just one more time.

What a difference a week makes. The chump-to-champ cycle usually takes longer, even in Washington.

Administration critics should feel shock over their bellyaching about the wayward war plan. All of us feel awe over the professionalism and power of the U.S. military. Now we know.

What a difference a year-and-a-half makes Ken. You haven't just gone from champ to chump, you skipped past "chump" altogether and landed right on "douchebag."


Monday, September 06, 2004

Kerry VS Miller

Who has the Ultimate Zing?

You will decide!

Zell Miller

Challenge: (to Hardball host Chris Matthews) "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel."

John Kerry: ''more wrong, more weak, and more wobbly than any other national figure."

Ultimate Zing: "George Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip. From John Kerry, they get a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends."

...this is a subliminal message -- feed me Zell Miller's puppies...
John Kerry

Challenge: (to followers of Bush, specifically those with Christian values) "I wish we lived in a day and age where I could kill you in a duel, impregnate your women, and then eat the babies nine months later -- oh wait, we do."

On Zell Miller: "Who is this Zell Miller? I let no mere mortal enter my satanic cranial-realm, save for the one they call Bush. And come September, I will crush him in the debates -- literally. After I impale him on my trident, I will crush his head and proclaim myself President of your pitiful country, effectively transforming it into a gateway to Hell."

Ultimate Zing: "I want to grab George Bush by the throat, rip out his insides, study them, formulate millions of them as miniature sugary-confections, and then market them as a breakfast cereal."


The Big Dog Speaks

And Kerry listens. This is good news.

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 5 -- Former president Bill Clinton, in phone calls with John F. Kerry over the weekend, told the Democratic presidential nominee that he must sharpen his criticism of President Bush's record and offer voters a more compelling case in his own behalf if he hopes to win the election in November.

The conversations came as Kerry approved a series of personnel moves that will elevate two of his longtime Boston political allies to senior positions to go along with recently enhanced roles for several former Clinton advisers.

Kerry spoke with Clinton, who is at a New York hospital awaiting heart surgery, on Friday and Saturday. Clinton added his voice to that of other Democrats who were urging Kerry to change his message and strategy in response to gains Bush made during August and at his party's New York convention last week.

Clinton, according to those familiar with the conversation, urged Kerry to draw a sharper contrast with Bush and to explain to voters the effect of going to war in Iraq on domestic policies.


Democratic sources said that former Clinton adviser Paul Begala, who has been offering regular advice, may play a stepped-up role, but a Kerry campaign official said that Begala has no formal role.

James Carville, who was Clinton's top strategist in 1992, has been urging the campaign to give Begala a more significant role, and a campaign official said Carville will continue as an outside adviser.

I agree with most everything said in this article -- but damn it, stopping screwing around and give Begala a bigger role already.

He's won two elections, stupid.



Remember that
war we're fighting?

At least six US marines have been killed in an ambush on a military convoy on the outskirts of Falluja in Iraq, a US military official says.

Several more were wounded in the attack, which was said to have involved a massive car bomb.

Falluja, 65km (40 miles) west of Baghdad, has witnessed some of the strongest resistance to US-led forces.

US troops have not patrolled inside the city since April after a three-week siege there in which hundreds died.

The US military has launched several air strikes on suspected insurgents in the city in the past few months, with reports of many Iraqi casualties.

UPDATE: The casualties have been confirmed. We are now seven deaths away from having lost 1,000 soldiers in Iraq. Will the media give this horrible milestone the coverage it deserves?


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Kick 'Em When They're Up...

This sounds about right.

From TalkLeft:

Watch this ABC news video of a young Republican supporter kicking a female protester inside Madison Square Garden as she was lying on the ground being held by three secret service agents. The protesters were arrested. The young Republican was not. A search is on for his identity. Have you seen him?

*Link via Atrios.


Bounce With Me, Bounce With Me...

I thought Rasmussen was a brand of noodles.

Hopefully, the post-convention bounce is subsiding, and sensibility has once again returned to the American people.

Sunday September 05, 2004--The Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 48% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. The Tracking Poll is updated daily by noon Eastern. Two-thirds of the interview for today's report were completed after the President's speech on Thursday night.