Archive for September, 2006

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NIE Again

September 27, 2006

I hate to write about the National Intelligence Estimate again, but I think there are a couple of further points to be made.

1. Nothing that got declassified yesterday negates what was leaked to the NY Times over the weekend: invading Iraq has increased our risk of terrorist attack. President Bush claimed the leakers – and the Times – wanted to “confuse” the American people by cherry-picking the bit about the invasion creating more terrorist threat than it solved. But today, after his administration has had a chance to do their own cherry-picking, I see no contradictory statements in the document. So there it stands: invading Iraq has increased our threat of terrorist attack, not reduced it, as he continually claims. The next time you hear “the world is safer with Saddam Hussein out of power,” you’ll know with complete certainty that it’s total bullshit.

2. The bit about jihadists being “emboldened” if we’re perceived to fail in Iraq versus them being “demoralized” if we succeed is an entirely different point that has no bearing on item number one above. I say this because both points can be totally true or totally false. They never contradict each other. See how that works? It can be true that invading Iraq has increased the terrorist threat and that being perceived to have failed in Iraq may embolden jihadists. So if you should hear that being bandied about as some kind of response to point number one above, you’ll know to counter with: “that’s got nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq increasing, not reducing, our risk of terrorist attacks.”

3. Still, it’s an interesting point, that thing about succeeding and failing, emboldening and demoralizing. Let’s suppose that it’s true. We “lose” in Iraq and jihadists get riled up and bomb an embassy or blow up a train. Definitely bad news. On the other hand, we “win” and they shake their fists at the sky and cook up somewhat less ambitious plans. Sounds good to me. But here’s the thing I wonder about. How does knowing this equation actually help us win? I think it’s clear to everyone outside the Bush administration that our current course of action is not making things better. And it’s been three years. So what can be done differently? Bush has no suggestions. He wants more of the same. And if that’s not a recipe for “losing,” I don’t know what is.

Update: I just thought of another:

4. Saying that we are not yet safer but will be later is an intersting idea. I am not at all sure that I buy it, and at any rate it’s totally and completely at odds with what Bush has been saying: that we are safer, present tense. A similar point might be made that we aren’t safer, but that invading was still the right thing to do. That’s another interesting point that I don’t buy. It doesn’t change the fact that Bush is lying to us about his policy’s impact on our current safety, but at least it’s intellectualy honest and admits the truth of the NIE document.

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It’s A Drinking Liberally Reminder Form Letter

September 26, 2006

Dear (recipient),

Please join the members of the Milwaukee chapter of Drinking Liberally at our next gathering at Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior Street in Bay View on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, from 7 pm onward.

Please don’t hesitate to reply with any questions or concerns. We look forward to your presence.

Sincerely,
(Insert host here) and the rest of your Drinking Liberally Milwaukee team

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This Doesn’t Mean What It Says

September 25, 2006

A classified intelligence report concludes that the Iraq war has worsened the terrorist threat to the United States, U.S. officials told CNN Sunday.

Some intelligence officials have said as much in the past, but the newly revealed document is the first formal report on global trends in terrorism by the National Intelligence Estimate, which is put out by the National Intelligence Council.

CNN.com

All you need to know is: this doesn’t mean what it says. That’s what Republicans are going to tell you, anyway. They’ll engage in wordy arguments to make it seem like the opposite is true; they’ll likely call into question the competence, fairness and patriotism of the report writers and those who draw attention to it. But the bottom line is: it just doesn’t mean what you think it means. If you deviate from this, the terrorists will win.

In other news, up is the new down and black has recently been discovered to be white.

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War On Islam?

September 25, 2006

So I was listening to the radio the other day about the pope and how his recent comments about Islam pissed off some Muslims. Yawn. Muslims somewhere always seem to be pissed off about something these days. Big deal. What the pope said sounded kind of stupid to me (if the leader of a faith marred by hundreds of years of barbarism calling out another faith for being barbaric isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is) but so what? Methinks everyone needs to grow a thicker skin and in the words of Rodney King, “just get along.”

But I’ll tell you what did trouble me. Several of the callers seemed to think that we were at war with Islam. No, not “seemed to”; they stated it explicitly and chastised the rest of us for not understanding the situation.

Listen, I realize it’s a mid-level intellectual exercise to make a distinction between being at war with small a global network of Islamic extremists as opposed to the many millions of Muslims throughout the world, but this was NP motherfuckin’ R! I expect these folks to know the difference!

But maybe it’s me who doesn’t understand. Maybe our country really is at war with Islam and we’re just not admitting it in our political rhetoric.

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This is NOT a cappuccino!

September 21, 2006



This is NOT a cappuccino!

Originally uploaded by scottfeldstein.

Twice now I have ordered a cappuccino and received what can only be described as a latte. There was a quarter inch of foam on this before it settled, but I think everyone can agree that this does NOT fit the 1/3 espresso 1/3 steamed milk 1/3 foam formula of a proper cappuccino. Note the difference here and here.

I may be trailer trash in every other respect, but I am a coffee snob. I don’t deny it.

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FYI

September 21, 2006

When in the men’s room, do not address anyone as “pussycat.”

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Hot Tube Amps, Bumble Bees and Lullabies

September 20, 2006

It is delightful, in fact, that music they make digitally with computers sounds like it was crafted from hot tube amps, bumble bees and lullabies. A totally other source of (rather perverse) delight comes from knowing that the group is from Nashville, Tennessee, the capital of country music.

I’ve had their just-released album The Colors In The Wheel infinite looping in my car for several days now. It’s wonderful. Try it.

PS. Annette, Kip and Tony: next time you’re going to be in Milwaukee or Madison, drop me a line. I can’t introduce you to all the hip music people in town, but I can hook you up with a cream puff, a bratwurst and a Spotted Cow. Seriously.

– me on both the blog and in an iTunes review

Every now and again I’d think about the part where I invited them to contact me and wondered about the odds of that actually happening. Well, wonder no more. Neither Kip, Annette or Tony contacted me personally, but the sister of one of them (who prefers to remain anonymous on my blog) did!

Hello, Scott!I know it is weird that a stranger is writing you, but I noticed your comments on my brother’s (Tony Miracle from Venus Hum) album on iTunes and thought I would let you know that Venus Hum will be playing in Chicago on September 29th. I live in Chicago and I am trying to get as many people as possible to come see them so they will come and play here often. I know Chicago is a good 1 1/2 hours from Milwaukee, but as I have driven up there for a concert, I figured others may do the same, who knows? Depends on one’s sense of adventure or, perhaps, the condition of one’s car.

Anyway, you should grab your friends and make the trek down to Chi-town. The concert starts at 10 p.m. and I think maybe Venus Hum is opening, but I don’t know for sure. For more information, scroll down to September 29 on this calendar.

http://www.schubas.com/calendar.aspx

By the way, you have a lovely blog. Very entertaining!

Cheers!

Fun! Unfortunately I will be unable to attend. I’m heading out of town that day to spend the weekend in northern Wisconsin. Rats! I guess there’s always next time. But you could go, dear reader! Anyone in the Chicago/Milwaukee area who likes great music should see these guys. Tickets are $8 ($10 at the door).