If I had infinite hours in the day:
Some straighter-than-usual talk from General Vines. A good article by Eric Schmitt:
Iraq Facing Hurdles, U.S. General Warns : Lt. Gen. John R. Vines of the Army warned... that "the ability of the [Iraqi] ministries to support [troops], to pay them, to resupply them, provide them with water, ammunition, spare parts and weapons is not as advanced"... other important ministries, like oil and electricity, must also strengthen their operations for the security forces to succeed - and for Iraq to prosper politically and economically. "The reason it's important to look at areas like governance and infrastructure is because oil is the lifeblood of Iraq," said General Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. "If they don't produce enough income to support their security forces, members of those forces could turn to ulterior purposes and could become militias or armed gangs."... General Vines cited a string of notable successes... the building of the Iraqi security forces.... But he also warned of potential trouble in the weeks and months ahead, as Sunni Arabs look to a Shiite-dominated government for signs that their voices and needs will be addressed.... [H]e lamented that the balloting broke down largely along religious and ethnic lines.... "There was enormous enthusiasm for the election. But it must be a government by and for Iraqis, not sects. I don't think we can know that yet."... "If competent commanders were to be replaced by those whose main qualification is an allegiance to a sect, that would be of concern to us."...
The original Battlestar Galactica was so bad I find it hard to believe that the new version can be any good at all. But now Cowen Tyler has been assimilated:
Marginal Revolution: Battlestar Galactica : I've started watching this excellent show on DVD since my return from Buenos Aires. Firefly fans should apply. Chalk up another one for The Golden Age of TV. Addendum: I am told the new episodes start tomorrow night at 10 p.m..
The MinuteMan succumbs to Friday Cat Blogging:
JustOneMinute: Friday Cat Blogging : This story about how the entire feline family tree was recreated from mitochondrial DNA and fossil records scores very high on the Cool Scale.
Max Sawicky succumbs to Tuesday Supernatural Cat Blogging. Aslan is not a tame lion:
MaxSpeak, You Listen!: TUESDAY SUPERNATURAL
CAT BLOGGING : We took the little one to see Narnia last night. O.K., I wanted to see it too. I told you before I luv the medieval Armageddon stuff. The story is completely predictable. Like King Kong, you know pretty much what's going to happen. The acting is excellent. It really saves the picture. Maybe the lion should get nominated for best actor. I'd put one of those beavers up against Tom Cruise any day. And you don't want to get caught in a dark alley with Tilda Swinton, unless it's for, you know . . .
Some sick jokes:
War and Piece: 'Comedy, Congressional GOP style. Ellen Miller writes: "Dennis Hastert is making the House take a refresher course on ethics rules.Guess who the instructor is? That would be "Representative #1" from the Abramoff plea agreement, a.k.a Bob Ney."'
http://vegacura.blogspot.com/2006/01/you-mean-we-can-clone-him.html Vegacura: You mean we can clone him? 'Heh. Indeed. "What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs," his friend Grover Norquist told National Journal in 1995. "Then this becomes a different town."'
http://thinkprogress.org/2006/01/06/matthews-delay/ "Chris Matthews, just now, on Tom DeLay's lifestyle: 'You have one guy Tom DeLay who lives in some sort of 20th floor apartment way down on Route 95, nothing special at all -- I mean really lives basically, like a regular middle class person. He doesn't live well at all.'" vs: "As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fund-raising, he lived like one, too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants, all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire. Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests. Public documents reviewed by the Associated Press tell the story: At least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two." Sounds like an extremely basic livestyle.
Mark Schmitt calls for George Lakoff on the Batphone:
TPMCafe || Please, Don't Say "Lobbying Reform": Democrats and Republicans are falling over each other to introduce "lobbying reform" bills -- requiring lobbyists to disclose contacts with legislators, banning trips, etc. By the end of next week, we will have between two and four lobbying reform packages, and will enter a ridiculous debate about which bill would leave fewer loopholes. Can I take this Sunday evening calm to plead with Democrats not to go down this road. Where's George Lakoff when we need him??? Please don't reinforce the frame that this is a "lobbying scandal" and the villain a "lobbyist" named Jack Abramoff.... This is not a lobbying scandal. It's a betrayal-of-public-trust scandal. Lobbyists have no power, no influence, until a public servant gives them power. That's what DeLay and the K Street Project was all about. What they did was to set up a system by which lobbyists who proved their loyalty in various ways, such as taking DeLay and Ney on golf trips to Scotland, could be transformed from supplicants to full partners in government. Abramoff did lots of terrible things... but... every single criminal and unethical act of his was made possible by a public official. On his own, Abramoff had no power. At another time -- say, 1993 -- he would have been a joke.... [E]very time we say "lobbying reform," we reinforce the idea that it is only the lobbyist who is the wrongdoer.... [N]o one forces any legislator or staffer to accept lunches, trips, or favors from a lobbyist. And the reason not to do that is that the legislator risks surrendering some of her power, which is a public trust, to these private interests.
The Bushies use Time to say what they really always thought about Tom DeLay:
TPMCafe || Not Our Kind, Dear: By Matthew Yglesias: Via Mike Crowley, the White House political team must be off their a-game if they think this is a good way to distance Bush from Tom DeLay:
Even before DeLay's announcement that he would abdicate his leadership post, top Bush advisers tell TIME, the President's inner circle always treated DeLay as a necessary burden. He may have had an unmatched grip on the House and Washington lobbyists, but DeLay is not the kind of guy--in background and temperament--the President feels comfortable with. Of the former exterminator, a Republican close to the President's inner circle says, "They have always seen him as beneath them, more blue collar. He's seen as a useful servant, not someone you would want to vacation with."
So the President is professionally in hoc to DeLay and is closely allied with him, but on a personal level he secretly loathes the working class types on whose votes he depends? For what it's worth, DeLay's always struck me as more nouveau riche than blue collar as such. Seemed to be living pretty high on the hog in recent years, at a minimum.
Matthew Yglesias explains why Bush administration policies are always so bad:
TPMCafe || It's The Policy, Stupid: By Matthew Yglesias: Republicans are loving lobbying reform bills. Such bills allow them to seemingly get out from under the cloud of sleaze while remaining, fundamentally, in hock to corporate interests.... [Y]ou need to attack some of the substance of what K Street Republicanism has done, not just the atmospherics of the lobbying trade. After all, why is the Medicare bill so crappy? Because the GOP is run by lobbyists. Why can't we make student loans cheaper? Because the GOP is run by lobbyists. Why can't we secure chemical plants against terrorist attacks? Because the GOP is run by lobbyists. Why is the tax code so full of loopholes? Because the GOP is run by lobbyists. And so on down the line.... Or, again, why don't we have a serious energy policy? Becase the GOP is run by lobbyists. Why is our broadband internet so slow and crappy? Becase the GOP is run by lobbyists. This analysis works for about 90 percent of possible topics.
Alex Tabarrok finds Bob Geldof being a shrill unbalanced critic of agricultural protectionism:
Marginal Revolution: Must have been a Monday : [Sir] Bob Geldof is angry about European farm subidies:
The CAP is a protection racket Al Capone would look at in admiration and be proud of. Why do Europe's farmers need protection?.... Some are growing stuff through subsidy that we don't even need - then we are paying more taxes to store the stuff we don't need and more taxes to destroy the stuff we don't need. The CAP was responsible for the butter mountains and the wine lakes. These surpluses are also being shipped out to Africa and destroying local markets and economies. It is not giving people a chance to get back on their feet. The CAP should be scrapped and farmers should be open to competition. We're not a free market. There is no free trade. The CAP is anti-free trade....
The FISA Court is unhappy:
Surveillance Court Is Seeking Answers: The members of a secret federal court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases are scheduled to receive a classified briefing Monday from top Justice Department and intelligence officials about a controversial warrantless-eavesdropping program, according to sources familiar with the arrangements.... Some judges who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday said they want to know whether warrants they signed were tainted by the NSA program. Depending on the answers, the judges said they could demand some proof that wiretap applications were not improperly obtained.