Friday, February 29, 2008
mariah carey's kinda scary:
OK, so I didn't just listen to Rancid on the Brooklyn drive. I bookended the trip with some WPGC and some Hot 97. And that resulted in me hearing and liking the new Mariah Carey single. It's extremely salacious; Mariah really wants you to touch her. Except it's got this classic Mariahnoia element: she threatens to hunt you down if she sees your tryst on YouTube. And there's this one line where I could swear she says she'll be up in your business "like a Wendy's interview," which made me laugh so hard I nearly clipped this old lady. But she couldn't have really said that, right?

Update: Commenter T Moore offers an alternative explanation. Mariah is referring to a "Wendy interview" -- i.e., an interrogation by radio gossip maven Wendy Williams.
--Spencer Ackerman
journey to the end:
I just got reacquainted with my old ABC No Rio friend Liz Baillie, and yesterday a compendium of her comic book My Brain Hurts arrived in the mail. I can't recommend it enough, especially if you were, um, a mid-1990s New York City punk rocker. In the span of five panels you'll find nostalgia-trip references to Munchies (remember when Camille got thrown through Munchies' plate-glass window?), Coney Island High (remember when Defiance played one of their last shows, and Stuart Schrader was the only one who still cared about them, even though I maintain they were an underrated band?) and Mike Blank chickenhawking a 13 year old dude with the promise of kamikazes (remember when he gave Lauren scabies?). It's enough to make a guy feel... extremely old.

So one thing you can use as a barometer of taste is the band t-shirts that appear in the comic. Liz is less interested in strict realism than she is in capturing a sensibility, particularly for her queer teenage protagonists: they can go to a show at the Coney, for instance, while wearing Limpwrist patches on their hoodies, even though Limpwrist didn't exist for nearly half a decade after Coney Island High closed its doors. But of all the bands that the My Brain Hurts kids enjoy -- credibility-infused mainstays like Aus-Rotten, Screeching Weasel, Choking Victim, the Subhumans and Crass -- the absence of the Band That Shall Not Speak Its Name is unmistakable. I'm talking about Rancid.

"Salvation" was a dagger to the heart of New York City punk rockers of my age. A brilliant, perfect song that was suddenly mainstream. The Constitution of punk rock dictated you couldn't like it, even though every punk-rock statute and common-law tradition demanded that you did. All of a sudden, everyone who loved Rancid's first record ("Adina's cryyyyyyyyyin'!") had to pretend they didn't like -- and, perversely, didn't listen to -- Let's Go. My freshman year, Jamie Weiss had RANCID written on his green backpack. When "Salvation" hit MTV he dutifully wrote SUCKS below it.

Lord help us when November 1995 rolled around and ...And Out Come The Wolves came out. That record is track-for-track perfect. If you don't like it, you neither like nor understand punk rock. And yet none of us allowed each other to listen to it. It was OK to be gay in punk rock, and out -- as it should be -- but if you so much as caught an earful of Rancid as background music, you kept that shit to yourself. There was practically a riot at the Coney on a Sunday that month when Lars and Brett showed up for a Blanks/Casualties show after playing Saturday Night Live the night before. (You're goddamn right I watched it, and you're goddamn right I jeered them both when Jorge invited them on stage.)

But much as it must be frightful and liberating to finally admit that you're gay, so too was it a relief to finally scream, at the top of your lungs, that Benzonatto was waiting for you on the 60 bus out of downtown Campbell or that Jenny DeMilo don't care nothing about you. This afternoon/evening I drove up to Brooklyn, and the whole way I blasted the first three Rancid records and the last two. Indestructible? Great record. Kids, don't give in to fear. Jenny DeMilo may not care nothing about you, but Rancid? They're gonna take care of you.
--Spencer Ackerman
start the fight, start the drinking:
The popped-collar fascisti are attacking Angela Valdez. Let's assemble a mob, burn their clapboard houses and instruct them that they should, indeed, fear coming east of 18th street NW.
--Spencer Ackerman
my sweet neocon:
Enough about Jacob Heilbrunn's brilliant new book They Knew They Were Right and Eli Lake's first-rate national security reportage. Let's talk about me.

Jacob and Eli filmed a BloggingHeads segment in which they moot the idea that Yglesias and I owe something to the neocons. In particular, Yglesias is the beneficiary of a sarcasm-infused style of argument and I have a morbid fascination. Matt stands on his own two, so let me take my part of it.

In the segment, Jacob makes the point that the critics of the neocons frequently fall victim to the same zealotry that the neos display. It's a great point. But the question is why. I'd submit there are two answers. First, coherent (or at least distinct) intellectual movements are more interesting to observers than random agglutinations of people who believe stuff. This has its dangers for those observers: most importantly, selection bias, the tendency to only interpret data that fits the narrative. So the movement can seem more coherent than it is as soon as you adopt the "movement" framework to describe it. The neocons can, to a point, fairly object that they've been mugged in the press by the uncertainty principle.

But only to a point, and therein lies the second part of the answer. Movements are fascinating things. But movements that lie, repeatedly and brazenly, to outsiders about being at all coherent and then impugn the motives of any and all outsiders who seek to understand them -- those are captivating things. And when those movements, to a great degree, influence decisions of war and peace -- those are irresistable things. To belabor the point, you have to add into the mix the conspiracy-theorism, the ignorance masquerading as expertise, the stunning vanity and pretention, the insistence on speaking for an entire 5800-year old culture while denying the movement has anything to do with that culture, the barely-repressed homosexuality... look, anyone who doesn't find that fascinating has a screw loose.

Owing to some freelance obligations I'm only able to read They Knew They Were Right a few pages at a time, and as a result I'm barely halfway through it. But it's obvious from watching my dear friend Eli that Jacob nailed the template. In this segment, Eli backs away from applying the term 'neocon' to himself while simultaneously reaffirming its substance and can't let Jacob make a single point about the neos without disputing it. (Maybe he does earlier in the episode, which I confess to not having watched.) That's all in the fake-intellectual tradition that Jacob perfectly documents. That tradition is bad for America, bad for Israel, bad for the Jews, bad for the world, and bad for the soul. So maybe I have a little morbid fascination.
--Spencer Ackerman
there's a war goin down between my brothers tonight:
Freshness from the Washington Independent kitchen: A $20 million liberal push, fronted by John Edwards, to tie the costs of the war to the woes of the economy.
A coalition announced Monday and called Iraq Campaign 2008 seeks to tie anxiety over the faltering economy to anxiety over the duration of the war. Part of its agenda is targeting what it calls "obstructionist" members of Congress—Democrats as well as Republicans—that don’t seek a rapid withdrawal from Iraq. The campaign has an attention-getting front-man: former presidential candidate John Edwards. The effort, however, is not without problems—not least of which is the conundrum of whether antiwar activism turns out to be counterproductive to ending a war.

"People don’t understand why we’re spending $500 billion and counting in Iraq," Edwards said in a Monday conference call, "when at the same time we’ve got 40-plus million Americans with no health care coverage, 37 million-plus living in poverty. It doesn’t make sense to them."
--Spencer Ackerman
hoist up the john b sails:
A Robert Greenwald production.
--Spencer Ackerman
Thursday, February 28, 2008
you have to fight to stay in control of the situation:
The Washington Post has a great story about how some of the Sons of Iraq, for a variety of reasons, are losing patience with the U.S. military. As much as I've criticized the program, it's obviously better to have them not shooting at U.S. troops than shooting at U.S. troops. So it's disturbing to read that after a mistaken shooting of Sons of Iraq members in Diyala, a local commander saying:
Jubouri said his 800 fighters had taken huge risks to ally with the U.S. military and faced allegations that they are "agents for the Americans."

"If there is no apology, or no compensation, or failure to produce the informers before us, we will carry arms against the Americans," Jubouri said.
More importantly, skeptics of the Sons of Iraq program have -- ahem -- warned for nearly a year that there's no way gunmen in Iraq will ever give up their weapons, and that the Sunnis do not accept not being rulers of the country. As if on cue:
In Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, concern is mounting over a U.S. proposal that calls for about 20 percent of the volunteer forces to be integrated into the nation's army and police. The rest would be provided with civilian jobs and vocational training.

"The Sunnis were always the leaders of the country. Is it reasonable that they are turned into service workers and garbage collectors?" said Khalid Jiyad Abed, an Awakening leader in the city of Latifiyah and an engineer. "We had not anticipated this from the American forces. Of course we will not accept that," Abed added.
That should get people's hair on fire. Instead, we get Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, architect of the Sons of Iraq program and future Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, saying, blithely: "Overall, you will never satisfy everybody." It's attitudes like that that lead people right into the arms of al-Qaeda.
--Spencer Ackerman
banned from the roxy:
I'm trying to find out if either THFTNR or the Washington Independent is on the Air Force blog blacklist, a story broken by THFTNR friend Noah Shachtman.
--Spencer Ackerman
too much momentum this room feels like it's going to explode:
The Surge's sister band, The N** Y** T****, gets a deservedly great review over at Pop Tarts Suck Toasted. NYT's next show is on March 7 at the Tank on Church Street in Manhattan, and then rock-brother Rory (the fetching redhead on the right) takes the Velvet Lounge stage the following Saturday, March 15, for The Surge's initial deployment.

This seems like a good time to remind everyone to become The Surge's Concerned Local Citizens. E-mail us at SupportTheSurge-at-gmail-com and we'll send you our merchandise for you to vandalize your city with. Street teams are made of these.
--Spencer Ackerman
she's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake:
Wired has ten unseen Abu Ghraib photos. Don't click on them if you're not prepared to be punched in the stomach. I actually exclaimed when I saw the first one -- Wash Indy's Mike Lillis asked me if I was OK -- so, really, think before you click. Extremely NSFW.

Two things we learn: One, the thumbs-up at beaten prisoners was not just Lynddie England. Pic #2 is another soldier giving the thumbs up over a dead man. Pic #7 is perhaps the most horrifying of all: it zooms out from the infamous wired-box prisoner to show a nearby Charles Graner inspecting his fingernails.
--Spencer Ackerman
momma i'm so sorry:
There really need to be some right-wing crack dealers, who can say that they're standing on the corner awthwart history, slanging Rock.
--Spencer Ackerman
stacks so fat rubber bands can't hold em:
Paul has an excellent catch today. So about that immunity thing for telecom companies that complied President Bush's warrantless surveillance programs? The thing that the White House is demanding Congress bless? It turns out the reason why the GOP is going to the mat on it is pretty simple: campaign cash.

That is money the GOP needs needs needs. In December, House GOP leader John Boehner said his party's fundraising "sucks." And that would be about when the party raised retroactive legal approval of the telecoms and the government's flagrantly illegal behavior to the level of a first principle.

Only thing is, the telecoms just aren't letting the GOP wet its beak! From a subscription-only Roll Call story that Paul excerpts:
“It’s quite discouraging,” said one GOP leadership aide, referring to the disparity in giving from the telecommunications industry in light of the FISA debate, but also the broader lack of support for Republicans from the business community in general.

“These companies just won’t do anything,” the aide said. “Even when you have the Democrats working against their bottom line.”
So it's all about campaign contributions and not at all about national security. Good to know.
--Spencer Ackerman
irony is for suckers:

Shorter Bob Gates: No one invades Iraq 'cept us!

Shorter Turkish government: Hey, what was your line? Oh yeah -- We will stay as long as necessary and not a day more! We reject timetables, and our commanders on the ground will tell us when we can responsibly draw down our troop levels!
--Spencer Ackerman
i know it's coming when i don't see it coming:
This caught me off-guard.
Iraq's presidential council Wednesday rejected a law on the powers of local government that was approved by parliament and touted by the Bush administration as a sign of reconciliation between the country's ethnic and religious groups.

The three-man council asked that parliament reexamine the complicated and multifaceted law when it reconvenes March 18.

Some politicians said the move could jeopardize the package of political deals approved Feb. 13 to heal rifts between the country's main communities at a time of decreased sectarian violence.
--Spencer Ackerman
show you how to hustle:
Listen to The Boss:
Now, a good deal has been made out of John McCain's repudiation of talk radio yakmeister Bill Cunningham, who led off for McCain at one of his rallies with the full run of Obama sludge. But don't be distracted or fooled. This is more like an example of what the digital commerce folks refer to as 'channel conflict'. You've got your multiple distribution channels. You've got the way McCain's selling the product. Broadcast. Broad and thematic about McCain. But you've got a number of other product channels to sell through, most of them a lot grittier, but no less essential for ultimate success.

Both can work simultaneously. In fact, in the kind of campaign McCain's running, they're both essential for success (see the 2000 Republican presidential primary in South Carolina). The key is just that the channels don't cross. Because that's when the trouble starts and they can begin to undermine or even short-circuit each other. And that's what threatened to happened here.

Don't insult your intelligence or mine by pretending that John McCain's plan for this race doesn't rely on hundreds of Cunninghams -- large and small -- across the country, and the RNC and all the GOP third party groups, to be peddling this stuff nonstop for the next eight months because it's the only way John McCain have a real shot at contesting this race.
The only thing I'd add is that "plan" here should be understood loosely. McCain, for reasons of necessity, doesn't need to know anything about the anti-Obama guerrillas here. In fact, he can repudiate them without, as Josh explains, cognitive dissonance. But the high road and the low road both lead to the same place.

Or to translate Josh's analogy into terms this blog can process: McCain is Tariq Hashemi, the Cunninghams are the Islamic Army of Iraq or the 1920 Revolution Brigades and Obama is the Shiite government. Hashemi has some ties to the Sunni insurgency but prefers politics to bullets and issues the occasional denunciation of the insurgents. Given his druthers, he'd prefer his more genteel version of Sunni politics triumphs over the rabble. But both want the Shiite order overturned. And the greater the siege of the Shiite government, the better. You can forgive the Shiite government for thinking there's more collusion between Hashemi and the insurgency than there probably is. After all, the government is seeing the confluence of interests here.

Oh yeah, and the elements calling Obama's advisers anti-semites, with or without using the word? They're al-Qaeda in Iraq. And deserve the same fate.
--Spencer Ackerman
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
do you know where the power lies?:
My old friend Michael Calderone does, which is where his new Politico blog comes in. It's a shame he couldn't call it Shooting The Messenger, the title of his introductory post, since that might be the best name for a media blog I can think of. Also, wow, what a terrible caricature. Calderone doesn't look like that. If you see him on the street, ask him about Kovax.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Orlando A. Perez, 23, of Houston, died Feb. 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during dismounted operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

For more information media may contact the U.S. Army, Europe, public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-5816 or 011-49-6221-57-8934, or send an email to
--Spencer Ackerman
i don't get an answer except 0111 011 01:
Look at this: TPM frontpage editor Rachel Weiner has a personal blog! Sadly there's no Hudde-blogging (we went to the same junior high) but hopefully the flood of traffic she's about to experience (right, everyone?) will pressure her.
--Spencer Ackerman
re-up is the gang, whenever have you seen such splendor at its best:
There's a bomb going off in Tal Afar, there's a Sons of Iraq checkpoint sprayed up in Kirkuk,
--Spencer Ackerman
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
don't you try to fake me out:
Fresh out at the Washington Independent: Cliff May's crew attacks Democrats, possibly-maybe-they-deny-it-but-who-really-knows does something legally dubious, and loses their Democratic beards.
A neo-conservative but ostensibly bipartisan counterterrorism think tank has lost all its Democratic board members by running an attack ad in Democratic congressional districts through an affiliated enterprise.

The think tank, called the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is a 501(c )3—meaning it was incorporated as a non-profit and non-partisan organization, barred from political activity. Last week, it established Defense of Democracies, a 501(c )4 "non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization," that ran an advertisement urging the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s version of a bill providing retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration’s constellation of warrantless surveillance programs. The arrangement is probably legal, experts say, but the parent think tank receives several grants from the State Department—at least one is worth $487,000—for democracy-promotion programs, making its political activities questionable.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Kevin S. Mowl, 22, of Pittsford, N.Y., died Feb. 25 at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered in Baghdad, Iraq on Aug. 2, 2007, when the vehicle he was in encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis Wash.

For more information media may contact the Fort Lewis public affairs office at (253) 967-0152, (253) 967-0147 or after hours at (253) 967-0015 and ask for the public affairs officer on call.
--Spencer Ackerman
what, you trynna kick knowledge?:
I don't know anything about education. (It won't come as a surprise to readers of this blog, I wager.) So when I need to know something about, in particular, early education, I think, if only there was a blog I could consult.

Well, now there is! Introducing Early Ed Watch by New America's Sara Mead. I can feel my ignorance diminish already.
--Spencer Ackerman
say j-rawls if ya ruling hip-hop:
Speaking of Chris Hayes Chris Chris Hayes, he's just started a new Nation blog called J Street. Newest RSS addition!

And no, I couldn't think of a better headline lyric.
--Spencer Ackerman
we got a love thing:
You know what Congress is missing? Some conservative Manlove. Via Chris Hayes Chris Chris Hayes. Not a joke.
--Spencer Ackerman
silence kills the revolution:
Sadr extends the ceasefire. Sadly, no reporter has as yet asked a JAMster about the lay-low, in order to get the genius quote, "Ah, Mahdi Army, we like ta party, we don't cause trouble, don't bother no-body..."
--Spencer Ackerman
i tried to ignore him and talk to the Lord, pray for him, but some fools just love to perform:
I have a friendly relationship with Noah Pollak, which is why I've left him out of out of what I've been writing about the smear of Samantha Power as an antisemite. But now he's called me "lazy and dishonest," so fuck it.

Pollak's beef is that he never actually uses the word "antisemite." And that's true, he doesn't. It's just not exculpatory, because he's spent three posts -- here, here, and here; the fourth one he links to has kind of a meta-comment on the smear at the end -- implying that she has a special animus against the Jewish state. I will not suspend disbelief on behalf of someone who traffics in innuendo. Pollak is trying to get you to believe that Power, who wrote and published her first book with the assistance of arch-Jew-hater Leon Wieseltier, is an antisemite. He's just too much of a pussy to come out and say that, because then he'd have to defend a baseless point.

He keeps on demanding that Power "explain" prior statements. But why shouldn't Pollak, allegedly a journalist, actually, you know, try to answer his own questions? Here's a simple test. Call TNR at 202-508-4444. Ask for Leon. Ask Leon Wieseltier if Samantha Power harbors any ill will toward Israel or the Jews. Or does Pollak think Leon is no real friend of the Jews? I'm sure Pollak will get right on this and report back, because Lord knows he'd never be either lazy or dishonest.

Update: It gets better! Max Boot just wrote the following:
I’ve known Power for six years and have never heard her say anything that I would construe as anti-Israel. In fact, at a December 2006 forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School at which we were both panelists, she rather forcefully dismissed a claim by a Jewish anti-Zionist in the audience who tried to equate Israeli policy with South African apartheid—a favorite trope of the hard left.
Ready to give it up and apologize to Power yet, Noah?
--Spencer Ackerman
iron like a lion in zion:
There we go!
"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel," leading Democratic presidential contender Illinois Senator Barack Obama said Sunday.

"If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we're not going to make progress," he said.

He also criticized the notion that anyone who asks tough questions about advancing the peace process or tries to secure Israel by anyway other than "just crushing the opposition" is being "soft or anti-Israel."
Now that is the sort of thing that a real friend of Israel says. Not a fair-weather fake friend who'd rather not risk angering your buddies, but the kind of friend who takes your car keys from your hand at the bar. Let's see the Rubins of the world twist his words, so we can demonstrate how little they actually care about the actually-existing state of Israel.

Update: And right on time, the New York StuermerSun [update: that really did go too far, so my apologies to the Sun] runs this vile hit piece, for which the Clintonites are happy to play their part.

Late Update
: From the Sun's editorial today:
Senator Obama, in his remarks in Ohio this week to a gathering of Jewish leaders, went a long way toward allaying any doubts that may have lingered in the community about his Israel policy and, more broadly, the spirit of goodwill and friendship that he had for American Jews. In our view, as we have made clear previously, those doubts and concerns were always ill-founded and, in fact, were being stoked by Mr. Obama's political rivals.
Half-credit here. Love that passive voice about "doubts that may have lingered in the community..." How might those doubts have gotten to the community, one wonders?
--Spencer Ackerman
whassup, whassup, whassup, re-up:
Another Arba'een bombing. Also, Turkey has invaded Iraqi Kurdistan. According to Tony Cordesman, though -- who really is a small-s serious guy -- we might still win the war, "only if tactical military victories end in ideological and political victories and in successful governance and development." You know, small things like that. Tony, come back to us!
--Spencer Ackerman
Monday, February 25, 2008
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Drew W. Weaver, 20, of St. Charles, Mo., died Feb. 21 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Media with questions about this Marine can contact the 1st Marine Division public affairs office at (760) 763-5397.
--Spencer Ackerman
i might not climb a social ladder but i can climb a schoolyard fence:
Hey look, Mattos Locos and I, several sheets to the wind at Saturday's/Sunday morning's Nouveau Riche, made Brightest Young Things. Actually, we made it for this photo, which is a much better (and more representative!) picture of me anyway, but I include this one because on the left you'll see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Colin Asher.

Today Colin won the Cushing Niles Dolbeare Media Award for his reporting on the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. His excellent piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, in the eyes of the judges, "gave a 'face' to homeless and inadequately housed people" and demonstrated "a dedication to investigative reporting and his commitment to the exposure of an overlooked housing issue."

And to think I knew him back when we hid from cops in Christmas trees and drank tequila in my mother's basement during band practice. I credit Colin with many things, but among them is forcing me to confront a worthy question I had somehow overlooked. When I told him I was becoming a journalist in 2000, during the Targum/New York Press/college days, he asked, "What's your journalism for?" I didn't have an answer, but thought: I should really be able to respond to that. I don't have a stable answer, in all honesty, but I'm reassured of the value of the Mission by having Colin alongside.
--Spencer Ackerman
i can see you but you can't see me:
Words cannot express what a brilliant idea this is. Maybe I'll steal it when We Are Blackwater gets published.
Megan: So, you're more like cockroaches or Bai Ling?
Anonymous Defense Contractor: Uh, I don't know who that is, but, okay. Basically, there's tons of us for all manner of things- everything from building planes to answering phones.
I totally don't know who Bai Ling is either! This is pretty sweet too.
Anonymous Defense Contractor: So, DOD is like American Idol -- an old idea that hasn't been updated for the future. State is more like Real World or Road Rules -- tired, old stupid bullshit full of vapid assholery. USAID is like The Next Great American Band -- they are the rock stars of the government but no one pays attention to them. Treasury is totally Rock Star INXS because [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson is so J.D. The CIA is One Shot at Love With Tila Tequila because it looks like it's gonna be hot, but once you get a couple of episodes in you want to scrub your brain with a Brillo pad. DHS is Rock Star Supernova, all doomed. ODNI [the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence, created to oversee everyone else] is a similar case. As for the NSC, well, there's got to be a reality show about retarded people, right? That would be apropos here.
--Spencer Ackerman
still i can't let go:
This made me want to cry, for real. Catherine has become Flophouse Chairwoman Emeritus. Forever she is Punk Rock Kitchen's pastry chef (she in fact guaranteed this by taking the stand mixer -- yes, yes, I know, it's hers -- but still). Her old room will become a shrine to her for as long as there is a Flophouse.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
Sorry, but this just arrived in my inbox and I felt nauseous. This memorial feature has to return. Now with new lyric.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Keisha M. Morgan, 25, of Washington, D.C., died Feb. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, of a non-combat related cause. She was assigned to the Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

The circumstances are under investigation.

For further information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
--Spencer Ackerman
r-e-u-p gang like we brothers:
Both disgusting and creative. Thanks to commenter Alex.
A suicide bomber in a wheelchair killed a top policeman and wounded two others when he blew himself up in the police operations centre in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Monday, police said.

The bomber had entered the building in Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, and asked to speak to assistant police chief Major-General Abdul-Jabbar Rabee Muttar, said Captain Luay Mohammed, an official in the Samarra police chief's office.

Major Muthanna Mohammed of Salahuddin provincial police said the bomber, in his 40s, then detonated a vest packed with explosives, killing Muttar and wounding two other policemen.
--Spencer Ackerman
never gonna give you up:
Scenes from a suicide bombing.
Some Sunnis in Dora said the Shiite pilgrims provoked Sunday's fighting by chanting, "Damn the Sunnis, the highway is now ours," as they marched through the area the previous day.

One leader of a U.S.-backed local Sunni guard force in Dora said in an interview that Iraqi soldiers stationed in the area clashed with Sunnis who went to complain to them about the taunting.

"The army forces overreacted and had a serious brawl with the local residents," said the leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Army forces started shooting randomly at locals."
--Spencer Ackerman
don't respect something that has no respect:
First they came for Zbigniew Brzezinski, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't Zbigniew Brzezinski. Then they came for Rob Malley, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't Rob Malley. Then they came for Samantha Power, and I'll cut down any motherfucker who so much as bats an eyelash in the direction of suggesting that Samantha Power is an antisemite. These people will stop at nothing until they define all of liberalism as antisemetic. Rubin used to whine about the "criminalization" of the policy debate. Well, sorry: you don't get to do that and then call anyone a hair to the left of you a Jew-hater.

Shmuel Rosner of Ha'aretz profiles Power about the rising tide of extremist, unrepresentative American Jews calling everyone associated with Obama an antisemite. She replies:
But she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about: She doesn't claim that the NIE is correct, but rather that the international community is using it to fend off Bush on the Iranian issue. And lest there be any doubt: "I do not underestimate the threat that is Iran." Her objective - Obama's objective - is "to neutralize Iran."
Happy now, you assholes? Do you have the precious "clarification" you've demanded from a woman who has forgotten more about geopolitics than you'll ever know? Of course they'll never be satisfied, because this game is rigged. Not a single question from them is asked in earnest, in good faith or in the spirit of open inquiry. That's why the response from liberals must be swift, decisive and overwhelming exposure of the smear. They will not stop at calling Barack Obama an antisemite. They will call you an antisemite, whether or not you are Jewish.

Update: Oh, look here too. Look what AIPAC says!
"Senators Clinton, Obama, McCain and Governor Huckabee have demonstrated their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," AIPAC president Howard Friedman wrote to NEWSWEEK. (AIPAC says all three senators have strong congressional voting records on issues important to the U.S.-Israel relationship.)
Do you know what that means, Rubin et al (and that includes the Clintonites)? That means it's time for you to shut the fuck up.
--Spencer Ackerman
i don't gotta clap at em:
My two sons will be named Omar and Kenard. They will have to learn to live in harmony.
--Spencer Ackerman
Sunday, February 24, 2008
now i smile like a proud dad watching his only son that made it:
The New York Times recognizes the game-changer that is TPM. Even prints two photos of the Flower Station, in which you can see the backs of such famous reporters as Paul Kiel and Eric Kleefeld. The dude in the red shirt? Psychokiller Ben Craw. I don't see Rachel Weiner, Sargent Slaughter or Andrew Golis in there, which is unfortunate.

Meanwhile, Sig Gissler is acting a bitch:
Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, said in an e-mail message that online articles are eligible for the awards, but they must have been published on a weekly or daily newspaper’s Web site.

“A freestanding Web site does not qualify,” he said.
The gates must be crashed!
--Spencer Ackerman
It's them re-up gang rollers yeah you know us:
Shiite pilgrims slaughtered. We do not have to wait until the end of the surge to see the end of the surge.
--Spencer Ackerman
so fucking special:
I truly did not know that Jeff was recording this.
Also, Rock Band drumming? Hard. Somehow harder than actual drumming.
--Spencer Ackerman
hypnotize minds:
For NATO to be strong, cohesive and active, the President must give it consistent direction: on the alliance’s purpose; on Europe’s need to invest more in defense capabilities; and, when necessary, in military conflict.

To be relied upon when they are needed, our allies must be respected when they are not.

We have partners, not satellites. Our goal is a fellowship of strong, not weak, nations. And this requires both more American consultation and more American leadership. The United States needs its European allies, as well as friends in other regions, to help us with security challenges as they arise. For our allies, sharing the enormous opportunities of Eurasia also means sharing the burdens and risks of sustaining the peace. The support of friends allows America to reserve its power and will for the vital interests we share.
George Bush said that! In 1999! I came across this November 1999 speech while writing my forthcoming Obama piece, in order to demonstrate the point that you can't really rely on what a candidate says for predicting how s/he'll behave in office.
--Spencer Ackerman
that's when i reach for my revolver:
Ralph Nader to hop into the race. After all, there's not a dime's worth of a difference between a candidate promising tax cuts, pushing more health risk onto individuals, a re-invigoration of George Bush's campaign to dominate the world through military force, and an industry-friendly approach to environmental issues and his rival who's promising substantial socialization of medical risk, a 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, and end to the war in Iraq (and to the mindset that led to war!), universal preschool, etc. Well, sure, there's judicial appointments -- abortion, gay rights, etc. -- and some small fry stuff about whether or not the NSA will have unrestrained surveillance powers. But basically it's just the same two corporate clones running on virtually identical platforms.
--Spencer Ackerman
Saturday, February 23, 2008
UPS is hiring:
When John Judis clears his throat, he shows up half the journalists in the country. But when he puts his back into it? Damn.
Looming over all of American history--but particularly the country's formative years--is the Biblical figure of Adam, the only person, according to the West's major religions, to have lived unburdened by what came before him. As literary critic R.W.B. Lewis wrote in 1955, in his wonderful book The American Adam, early generations of Americans became captivated by the idea that they could create a future without reference to the past. The revolutionaries who fought for America's independence saw themselves as breaking not only with the Old World but with history itself. "The case and circumstances of America present themselves as in the beginning of a world," Thomas Paine wrote in 1792. Thomas Jefferson believed the new nation should regularly renew itself, arguing that, if necessary, "[t]he tree of liberty must be refreshed ... with the blood of patriots and tyrants." But, as Lewis explains, it was after the War of 1812--after the United States had finally cut loose from Great Britain and other foreign entanglements--that the notion of a country unbound from the constraints of history really began to take root. Democratic Review--the magazine of a nineteenth-century progressive movement known as Young America--captured this sentiment in 1839, when it editorialized, "[O]ur national birth was the beginning of a new history ... which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only."
The piece is about Obama. It's kind of, um, comprehensive.
--Spencer Ackerman
i got that work:
Did you know there's another Clipse mixtape this year? That's right -- "Got Snow?" for 31 Degreez. It's a couple tracks that appear on We Got It For Cheap 3 but waaaaaaay more that don't. I just put it on for the first time. Don't know where you can DL it, as I got mine (for cheap!) from Mixtape Kings.

Update: Holy shit. "Grindin' Part 2" featuring NORE and -- wait for it -- Baby & LOL Wayne.

Update: Wow. Pusha: "It shames me to no end/ to feed poison to those who could very well be my kin/ But when there's demand/ someone will supply/ So I feed them their needs and at the same time cry/ Yes, it pains me to seem them need this/ all of 'em lost souls, and I'm their Jesus/ It was regretted, sympathy to the streets/ I see no pain for their fix when their kids couldn't it/ and with this in mind, I still didn't quit/ and that's how I know that I ain't shit." Wow.
--Spencer Ackerman
they want some more:
The Big Bear Cafe cult doesn't need my help to corrupt the minds of DC youth -- j/k! It's a good coffee shop! -- but this is awesome.
Via Cecily.
--Spencer Ackerman
someone is lying:
This just landed in my inbox from Mike McConnell and Michael Mukasey.

“As stated in the joint letter from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence dated February 22, the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community have been working assiduously to mitigate the effects of the uncertainty caused by the failure to enact long-term modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. We learned last night after sending this letter that, as a result of these efforts, new surveillances under existing directives issued pursuant to the Protect America Act will resume, at least for now. We appreciate the willingness of our private partners to cooperate despite the uncertainty. Unfortunately, the delay resulting from this discussion impaired our ability to cover foreign intelligence targets, which resulted in missed intelligence information. In addition, although our private partners are cooperating for the time being, they have expressed understandable misgivings about doing so in light of the on-going uncertainty and have indicated that they may well discontinue cooperation if the uncertainty persists. Even with the cooperation of these private partners under existing directives, our ability to gather information concerning the intentions and planning of terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets will continue to degrade because we have lost tools provided by the Protect America Act that enable us to adjust to changing circumstances. Other intelligence tools simply cannot replace these Protect America Act authorities. The bipartisan Senate bill contains these authorities, as well as liability protection for those companies who answered their country’s call in the aftermath of September 11. We hope that the House will pass this bill soon and end the continuing problems the Intelligence Community faces in carrying out its mission to protect the country."
Notice they can't even bring themselves to say "telecommunications companies." It's been nearly a week since the Protect America Act expired and, miraculously, I'm still alive. But for how long?
--Spencer Ackerman
you got the touch:
Sick of hearing about Rock Band already? You shouldn't be. It's as much fun as everyone says. Courtesy of CatAn's bf, The Commitment Scheme ran through a powerful RB repertoire. "Vasoline," "Cherub Rock," and... I kind of don't remember the rest. We didn't do "Wave of Mutilation" as I had anticipated, but on the way over from Galaxy Hut we warmed up by belting out a rendition of Live's "Lightning Crashes" when it came on the radio.

Amanda was kind enough to let Capps and me crash at her (extremely nice and grown-up) house. I repaid her by puking on her neighbor's doorstep. Sorry!
--Spencer Ackerman
who you foolin now:
Published yesterday evening at the Washington Independent while I was off playing Rock Band: Jerry Nadler tells me that DOJ's Steve Bradbury is a liar.
A prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee called a senior Justice Department official a liar in an exclusive interview with The Washington Independent. The congressman urged the official to resign over an apparent falsehood about waterboarding and proceeded to urge the prosecution of President George W. Bush and former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales for "violat[ing] the law with impunity."

"I suspect he’s lying," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the chairman of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, said about Steven G. Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Nadler believes Bradbury misled the panel about the definition of waterboarding during a colloquy over the procedure’s legality.
--Spencer Ackerman
Friday, February 22, 2008
tears don't affect me, I hit em with the Tek, G, disrespect me, my potency is deadly:
Someone is wrong on the internet, and it's Susan Jacoby. Andrew Golis cuts her up like he was Dexter.
--Spencer Ackerman
castro is the color of the blood you spray on lead:
I swear this just arrived in my inbox from the Heritage Foundation. I'm cordially invited to a special screening of "Shoot Down"! What's that?
On February 24, 1996, Cuban MIGS shot down two unarmed, civilian aircraft of the Brothers-to-the-Rescue organization in international airspace. Cuba's callous disregard for human life resulted in the murder of four individuals and outraged all Americans.
That happened? Huh. What does this tell us about Cuba, anyway?
As Cuba transitions from the control of an ailing Fidel Castro to the leadership of his 76-year-old brother Raul, and as the Cuban military moves center-stage in this process, it is important to recall the nature of the Cuban regime and the dark acts for which its leaders will be held accountable in the court of history.
I was going to do this whole moral-equivalence thing, with the Raul Castro government making a movie called "Guantanamo Bay," but let's let this speak for itself.
--Spencer Ackerman
princes who adore you:
It's been a long time in the making, and it required me to lend out my Blogger account, but please welcome to the 'sphere the freshest thing going: Too Hot For NYSun!j/k!
--Spencer Ackerman
manic depression's a frustrating mess:
Moe Tkacik asks:
Isn't stress and anxiety the source of some motivation? I say this because I completely and utterly lack the ability to get stressed about shit anymore. I am fully relaxed, all the time, and the speed just makes me moreso. And while I definitely find it irritating when other people (Virgos, for instance) get unnecessarily worked up about pointless shit, I am entirely too Zen to try and impose my worldview upon them about it, and really too Zen to do much of anything anymore. If relaxed people ever got stressed out and motivated, maybe our global conflicts would be over tariffs on meditation robe exports and incense dumping legislation, but no. Hysterical fanatics govern everything.
Yeah. I've kind of got to have too much to do in order to do anything. When I have too little to do, I invent problems to solve. During a spare 20 minutes last night when my meatloaf and garlic fries were in the oven, I started worrying about my inability to fix the Flophouse's plumbing if it came to that. Luckily I remembered that I have to write a freelance piece this weekend, file for 5 p.m. today, put up an old friend at the Flophouse this weekend and go on a (since-cancelled) skiing trip. Everything was back to rush of calm like a needle inside of your arm, as the song goes.

I don't actually know what Zen is, and Moe's use of it as a capitalized adjective is unfortunate, but it doesn't sound like I would want any of that shit. The work is what matters, right? And the means to the work, even if they eat at your soul -- that's a cost of doing business, right?
--Spencer Ackerman
i'll be the one to hold the gun:
Could Feist's "I Feel It All" be any better? Why, as a matter of fact, yes. Britt Daniels from Spoon makes the impossible possible. Via CatAn, who I'm going to miss terribly.
--Spencer Ackerman
it's in the fog, it's in the mist:
Soundtrack for today's DC weather: "Wintry Grey" by Arcturus.
--Spencer Ackerman
bomb repeat bomb:
(Crossposted from the Streak.) The classic statement of U.S. soldier frustration with Iraq remains "What kind of people loot dirt?" (Captain Allen Vaught, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, to Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post.) But we might have a runner-up! This isn't about U.S. forces, but whatever. Courtesy of subscription-only IraqSlogger:
Common household appliances were transformed into potentially deadly weapons in a workshop raided by Iraqi forces in central Baghdad, according to security sources.

Iraqi police received a tip last week from a resident of the al-Andalus Square central Baghdad east of the Tigris, who said that his neighbor seemed to be unloading dozens of tank-style water heaters into his residence. ...

Last Thursday Iraqi police arrived at the residence with a warrant. Upon searching the premises, they found three water heaters packed with explosives and a further 65 open and ready to be rigged.
OK, now something Too Hot For TWI!

The first house I ever lived in outside my mother's or father's was at 20 Plum Street in New Brunswick during my freshman year in college. (It's a parking lot today.) A slum lord who referred to himself in the third person owned it -- as in, the guy would threaten my roommate Kris Walter with flourishes like, "If Kevin M**** doesn't get his money on time, people get thrown down stairs!" Part of the revenge that Liz enacted on her housemates for being bastards to her was to turn off the power before the rest of us moved out. In a fit of misdirected anger, we took revenge on the house, unscrewing water heaters and messing with the heating and the ducts. (Already Jesse Cannon and a transsexual had thrown themselves through the living room wall during parties.) So what I'm saying is that it's a thin line between college miscreant and terrorist.
--Spencer Ackerman
we blow out our mind with your truth:
Why I love working for Allison Silver:
Jounalists, it used to be said, kept their hats on indoors and put their feet on the desk, respect for authority was a trait they lacked. We hope to continue in that honorable tradition.
--Spencer Ackerman
I got the skin of a shark and I'm gonna make a muscle:
If yesterday's ABC No Rio nostalgia was the mania, the post-office workout was the crash. Yglesias I think already posted something about this when he joined, but it says something about the Way of All Flesh when I'm mouthing Screeching Weasel lyrics on an elliptical at a too-expensive gym. (Also a politically connected one. I've seen Gayle Smith and Jamal Simmons there, and rumor has it Andrew Sullivan's husband is an employee.) Yeah, consultant, you're goddamn right you hear Requiem's "Secession" coming out of my iPod buds, because I'm fucking bad ass. Now point me to the baby wipes, because I am done with this machine.

Thinking about it in the locker room, I was all, as Derya said in comments in the last post, le sigh. Then a dude came in wearing a ratty old Anti-Flag t-shirt. I said nothing.

(This really happened. I know it sounds like Leon telling Lloyd Grove that he broke his Kosher-edge at a Patti Smith show at CB's in 1976 -- in other words, bullshit -- but, unlike Leon, I could not make something like that up.)
--Spencer Ackerman
Thursday, February 21, 2008
the kids are fucking rad:
It's pretty hard to report stories about Steve Bradbury and Barack Obama when a grown-up Erica from the Schizophrenics facebook-messages you after a 13-year silence to let you know that Liz from her band is not only a comic book artist but has documented the mid-90s ABC No Rio scene that even today makes you wistful and nostalgic.

You see the sleepy-eyed girl with the black hair in this picture? That's Derya, who made me one of the mixtapes that started it all back in my freshman year of high school. By stunning punk-rock telepathy, she facebook'd me like yesterday and posted something very embarrassing on my fB page. This picture also features the infamous Caroline -- with the dog collar -- who's involved in one of my favorite ABC stories of all time, in which I miss The Pist's last-ever NYC performance and it was worth it. Colin's cousin Camille is on the far right. The skinhead girl on the left? I don't remember her name either and it's KILLING me, but she ended up writing for New York Press just after I left. Michelle Chen! She's Michelle Chen!

Right now I'm waiting for a callback from Manhattan Congressman Jerrold Nadler -- that Bradbury piece -- and I kind of want to ask him what his thoughts are on having the basement of that cafe by Columbia University used for Violent Society/Hysterics/Prozac Nation shows.

Update: Furious George! They played that show too. Everyone help George out, as he's a national punk-rock treasure. I should have included him in the New York Press post.
--Spencer Ackerman
distancing, moving farther away:
Abu Muqawama isn't a fan of the New York Sun, so obviously he's an America-hating antisemite. Funny how many of those there are in the Army! He does, however, make an exception for the Sun's arts coverage and its national-security correspondent, my homie Eli Lake. I'll take his word for it on the arts coverage and big-up the Zionist Scientist myself.

Yes, there is more to the Sun than being a self-parodic neocon-fanzine version of Der Stuermer. For instance, though Abu Mooq is a college football and soccer fan, he -- and the rest of us -- should take note of the nation's best baseball writer is the Sun's Tim Marchman. That's right: best. For instance, read Tim's Yankee spring-training-intro column:
The Yankees' three prodigies are in good hands. The team has proved it will not overwork them, manager Joe Girardi has had a hand in developing some excellent young staffs during his career, and even Steinbrenner has stressed patience and care in dealing with the inevitable ups and downs that come with young pitching. Still, as the fate of Generation K goes, it's best not to count on too much from three prospects who haven't, between them, pitched 150 major league innings in their careers.

The problem for the Yankees is that they are counting on them. Chien-Ming Wang, Pettitte, and Mike Mussina cannot pitch this team into the playoffs alone. It's a courageous move, one fans should support, but the team truly is staking October on the kids.
In his spare time, Marchman even hunts down MP3 versions of Spitboy's True Self Revealed record. You can't front on "Isolation Burns," which I think might also be the new name for Andy Pettitte's late-career splitter. See Tim for the full story all throughout the pre-season, the season, the post-season and forever after.
--Spencer Ackerman
disappeared in the crowd, all you seen was troops:
Newness. For everyone out there who's been noticing that all the civilian intelligence agencies are run by military people, and who wonders if long-term forecasting is losing out to warfighter support as an intelligence priority, here comes some white-label, acetate-only Washington Independent truth and soul:
According to long-time observers, the militarization of the U.S. intelligence community goes further than the uniforms worn by agency leaders. Put another way, those leaders are symptoms of a more fundamental shift over the last several years. With the U.S. mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, intelligence has moved away from long-term forecasting and toward immediate support to military commanders prosecuting the wars.

"There needs to be a semi-independent voice that voices the broader strategic perspectives and is not driven by the [intelligence] demands of day," said Robert Hutchings, who chaired the National Intelligence Council from 2003 until 2005. "The worry is not that Mike Hayden and Mike McConnell happen to be military officers; it’s that the system is now skewed to current intelligence, driven by military operations. That’s leaving too little left over for strategic analysis of what’s going on more broadly. And that leads to [an echo chamber effect]: this is what’s presented to policy-makers, and it just reinforces the worldview they began with."
--Spencer Ackerman
put it together, i rock ho's, y'all roc fellas:
On Tuesday morning, John McCain was a strong GOP presidential candidate. Right now, he's a lobbyist-schtupper who's weak on terrorism and pro-lying dictator. Funny how that goes.
--Spencer Ackerman
the act we act:
Scene: a Motel 6. MIKE HUCKABEE, whose face is never seen, sits on a bed watching MSNBC. He is drinking a Diet Coke from the can. Suddenly his BlackBerry chirps. He answers.


MAN'S VOICE. Hi, Mike. It's Karl Rove.

HUCKABEE. Oh, wow. Hi, Karl!

MAN'S VOICE. Listen, man, we need to talk. You have two choices.

HUCKABEE. What do you mean, Karl?

MAN'S VOICE. You can fight on to the convention. I know people have a lot of buyers' remorse about McCain right now. Especially conservatives--


MAN'S VOICE. Let me finish. You've got a lot of support, Mike. I respect that. But consider that if you take this thing down the pike, you're still a long shot to numerically win the nomination, and you probably won't.

HUCKABEE. Yeah, we've kind of thought of that.

MAN'S VOICE. Really, don't cut me off.

HUCKABEE. I thought you were fini--

MAN'S VOICE. So all you'll do is bleed our nominee. And that's bad, Mike. That's bad for you. That'll mean that your career is done. Me and my friends, we remember shit like that. You what I'm capable of.


MAN'S VOICE. But there's another choice, Mike. you can join the ticket.

HUCKABEE. Well, look, we've thought --

MAN'S VOICE. No, listen to me for a second, Mike. you join the ticket. Maybe you guys win. McCain's an old man. He probably won't run for a second term. In fact, maybe I call John next and remind him.


MAN'S VOICE. Yeah. And if you guys lose? My guys will remember that you took one for the team. And you run in 2012. We'll be there for you. We remember stuff like this too.


MAN'S VOICE. Yeah. Think it over. I'm-a holler at you.


--Spencer Ackerman
you don't have to tell me that it's not fair:
Mitt Romney is on the couch, in his pajamas, under the covers -- he brought the covers to his couch so he could be more comfy watching TV, as he didn't sleep last night -- unshaven, smelling bad, shoveling soup-spoons-full of the Vermonster into his mouth, and thinking to himself, "Stupid jerk! If only you had stayed in the race three more mother-loving weeks! You really pulled a you-know-what this time!"
--Spencer Ackerman
you gonna burn what?:
I believe the dudes fighting at the end of this video are John Weaver and Mark Salter.
Clearly, the real culprit in the John McCain/Vicki Iseman affair is the pharmaceutical industry. Come on, he's 71!

Also, shouldn't the hed for the NYT piece have been John McCain: Deep Inside The Special Interests?
--Spencer Ackerman
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
it burns inside of me:
Rich Byrne has been promising for months now to give me a burned copy of Spitboy's excellent, impossible-to-find True Self Revealed LP, which I unfortunately lost in the 1999 unemployed-and-need-to-pay-rent record purge, otherwise known as the Vinyl Nakhba. (Luckily I recovered the Crudos/Spitboy split LP on Ebullition, a total classic.) He hasn't delivered, and he always has excuses. But I just found this Spitboy song on YouTube, complete with DIY video.

And what the hell? Adrienne Droogas joined Aus-Rotten? How did I not know that? I still have my PR blue hoodie -- I'm saving it for my grandchildren -- and it still has the red Spitboy backpatch I silkscreened when I was 17.

Update: Five minutes of YouTubing around, and oh snap. Adrienne brought Aus-Rotten to the next level.
--Spencer Ackerman
remember that in chaos lie the seeds of corruption:
Mark Lilla's essay about Jacob Heilbrunn's They Knew They Were Right is mostly wide of the mark (more when I finish the book), but I have to give Leon credit for publishing this:
Of course, there were Americans of every ideological stripe--not just members of the professional counterestablishment--who supported the war to topple Saddam. Most of them had no fantasies of restoring "national greatness," they just thought that Saddam had the weapons and that we had no better option. Fine. But even that is not the whole story. For it turned out that the liberal hawks who became so prominent after September 11, including here at The New Republic, were indeed interested in restoring "national greatness," though in a new, more left-leaning form. They have been accused of succumbing to neoconservatism themselves, but that is backwards. In retrospect, what seems to have motivated them was the desire to displace the neocons from their dominant perch in Washington by proving that liberalism could be a fighting faith at home and abroad. Clinton's intervention in Kosovo confirmed that was possible, so why not continue the march all the way to Baghdad? Why leave the promotion of human rights and democracy--not to mention the protection of dissidents such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali--to the madmen at AEI, whose domestic policies were loathsome? As Heilbrunn's pages show, though he does not quite put it this way, the temptation to beat the neocons at their own game was hard to resist--which meant, of course, that the liberal hawks also found themselves playing the old reactionary game, which is to use a foreign war to reform society at home.
--Spencer Ackerman
you let me down for the second time straight:
I have this half-baked idea to record songs with slightly rewritten lyrics, under the faux-Barthean pretext that recording mistaken lyrics as they initially sounded to a perplexed listener creates a certain jouissance. You tweak the meaning that way. Sorry, but I think this is an interesting idea and you're not going to talk me out of it. We'll see what my partner-in-Surge thinks.

For instance. I'm at my desk, deep in the exhausted haze that occurs right after you file a piece. So to wake myself up I put on Archers of Loaf's Vee Vee record, and heard Eric Bachmann sing, "Side by side with the Taliban/ cut into your face." Now, those clearly aren't the real lyrics. But dammit they should be. And with The Surge on its way to the battlefield, perhaps they will be.
--Spencer Ackerman
thanks a lot, america:
Speaking of books you've got to read, we're barely a month away from the release of the best foreign-policy volume of 2008, Heads In The Sand by Matthew Yglesias. No commentator has been as prescient for as long about the structural and political barriers to an intellectual rebirth of liberal internationalism among the foreign-policy establishment. No commentator has been as eloquent for as long at identifying the failures of Democratic foreign-policy thinking. No commentator has been as ruthless for as long at eviscerating the abject failure of conservative foreign-policy thinking.

It's important that liberalism enter the age of Obama. Clearly, something fundamental is changing on the American left. A clear symptom of this is the rise of Yglesias and (to borrow a phrase from Schlesinger) the destruction of the old order. It's true that the author is my roommate and my friend, but Heads In The Sand introduces the new liberalism to its new Neibuhr: its herald, its intellectual backbone, its wit, its ideological mailed fist.
--Spencer Ackerman
nights at the schoolyard, i found out about you:
I know Ted Leo's Living With The Living record came out like a year ago, but I haven't really listened to it very often. But I've been on a huge Chisel kick lately, so I broke out "A Bottle Of Buckie" just now. Am I crazy or did Ted totally rip off "Found Out About You" by the Gin Blossoms?

Sorry, I meant did Ted Leo totally include a clever musical reference to the Gin Blossoms, perfectly appropriate for a song about a sweet reminiscence?
--Spencer Ackerman
i can breathe for the first time:
You guys have bought Still Broken, right? Alex Rossmiller's awesome-even-though-I-haven't-finished-it account of his time as an intelligence officer in Iraq? Well, if you haven't, read this interview I did with Alex over at TAP, which hopefully will convince you to throw some cash his way via Amazon.
--Spencer Ackerman
i'm from the old school, when a gat was a jammie:
I don't know if people know this, but the military, which loves acronyms, has a particularly pungent one for the Mahdi Army. Those dudes are JAM, for Jaish al-Mahdi, the Arabic name for the Sadrist militia. No word on whether they engage in subversive, disconnected sketch comedy in between death-squad operations.

Here's something I didn't know, but Tom Ricks did. The splintering of JAM has led to a surge in sub-JAM references. There's Criminal JAM, Iran JAM, and my personal favorite, JAM Classic. When Sadr decides to go intergalactic, one presumes there'll be Space JAM, which will be playfully animated.

Unfortunately, the name for a member of JAM is a JAMster. How could it not be a JAMmie? Iraq is nothing but missed opportunities.
--Spencer Ackerman
computer love:
How has no one made the Star Wars/Obama shirt that says, "We Are The Droids We've Been Looking For"?
--Spencer Ackerman
You lose:
Juan Cole rips John McCain a new one over McCain's Pakistan comments last night. As the kids say, read the whole thing. But, really, let's get into this:
[W]ill we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan, and sitting down without pre-conditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?
Obama said that if he had actionable intelligence about the whereabouts of al-Qaeda's senior leadership, who are in the tribal areas of Pakistan, he's wiping them off the face of the earth. Good to know that John McCain, who allegedly knows something about defending America in the course of advocating a war that has made America drastically less secure, would do absolutely nothing. Good to know that John McCain doesn't care that those people murdered 3,000 Americans. Good to know that John McCain doesn't think those souls demand justice. Good to know that John McCain would read an intelligence report about al-Qaeda in Pakistan planning to murder more Americans and say LOL HAI LOOK IRAN KTHXBAI.

Good to know that John McCain thinks Pervez Musharraf is a valuable ally. Good to know John McCain believes that the Pakistani security apparatus is best used when it neglects al-Qaeda, when it neglects to protect opposition candidates, and when it serves as the personal guard of Pervez Musharraf. Good to know that John McCain doesn't believe in results, he believes in satisfying a conventional wisdom that would run America into the abyss and lose the war against al-Qaeda. Good to know that the media won't treat what John McCain said for what it is: a statement of purest surrender against the people that killed 3,000 Americans and will kill many, many more if John McCain is president.

Update: Not everyone's ignoring it. Joe Klein takes McCain to task on Swampland.
--Spencer Ackerman
that girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood:
Via Dodai/Mattos Locos, a perfect explication of why The Surge exists:
After all, no bands form with the dream of being speccily rowed over by trainspotting blokes in the no-fun corner of the pub. They form to make ladies drink, dance on tables, and want to have sex with them.

On this basis, we can see that women understand rock music in a way men never will.
--Spencer Ackerman
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
screaming infidelities:
Here's something I never anticipated. The COIN crowd assembled for a Tom Ricks talk this afternoon. A friend asked me to explain emo to John Nagl. Thrown for a bit of a loop, I got kind of into the weeds: "So there was this punk band, Minor Threat? And they were awesome? And then their singer links up with the guys from his brother's band? They become this other band Embrace, which is, like, less hard but also awesome...?" Blank stare from Nagl. Ricks pipes up: "Think about the music playing in every VW commercial you've heard over the past two years." Eureka moment. It's actually not really true, but I thought: Really? Tom Ricks does this better than me, too?

I think I kind of redeemed myself at the coffee line, when I explained to Nagl the jokes made at his expense on this comment thread. The man knows a lot about counterinsurgency, but he don't know shit about no LOLcats. I thought he'd at least get the concept about being in someone's base killing their doodz, but clearly he's short-changing the ineradicable kinetic aspects of COIN.
--Spencer Ackerman
don't tell me it's not worth fighting for:
Can she hear this speech -- and wow, this is long, it's like triple encore, but still -- and not herself be inspired? She needs to drop out. She is no longer a factor in this race. He nudges toward her, but he is looking at McCain, and the country, and so is McCain. She is honorable and good, but she is in the way of history, and she needs to honorably withdraw. Peace with honor, and the rebuilding can begin.
--Spencer Ackerman
that's gangsta, you know me, i talk it cuz i live it:
I have nothing to say about this Idolator post but pass it along because of the 50 Cent picture, since I'm not going to link to the Vibe cover it's from. The reason? Notice 50's beard. Thick along the cheeks and jaw, very very light, barely-more-than-stubble mustache. That's the way I'm going these days. It works for a few reasons.

First, mustaches really are distasteful. But having a beard without a mustache is way too basement-hardcore (or TAP editor). So better to hint at the mustache than get rid of it. Second, approaching your beard like this is, in effect, a protest of the appalling hipster mustache trend. Finally, and most importantly -- as more than one friend of mine has told me, usually with disgust -- you look more like a terrorist this way.
--Spencer Ackerman
healthy body sick mind:
I go back and forth over whether this is a cheap shot. But from the Pentagon:
The Afghan government, with assistance from U.S. and international forces and nongovernmental agencies, has made great progress over the past year in providing health care to the country’s population, a U.S. Army physician posted in Afghanistan said today.

“The impact of medicine on stability (operations) cannot be underestimated,” Army Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey Johnson, the 82nd Airborne Division’s top doctor and command surgeon for Combined Joint Task Force 82’s eastern regional command, told Pentagon reporters via satellite hookup from Bagram Air Base, located north of the Afghan capital city of Kabul.
So how about getting some of that good stuff back here to 47 million people, chief? When I signed on to the Indy I had health care for the first time in a year, and it was like coming up for air.
--Spencer Ackerman
wave of mutilation:
Three shot outside a Lil Wayne show, canceling the long-anticipated (by me!) Hot Boys reunion. Does the Re-Up Gang have an alibi? My favorite Lil Wayne dis, courtesy of Malice, from We Got It For Cheap Vol. 3: "Sorry, but I don't respect who you applauding/ Lil' N**** flow, but his metaphors boring/ Don't make me turn daddy's little girl to orphan/ That would mean I'd have to kill Baby like abortion."

I hear Mark Pike would take a bullet for Weezy.
--Spencer Ackerman
fell in love by the soda machine:
Speaking of Mattos Locos, she sends along this Pitchfork piece about Marky Ramone-brand condoms. I know I'm buying some. Did you guys know Marky is also from Flatbush?
--Spencer Ackerman
Look at us, we formed a band: Part II:
Gestures/Surge side project in full effect! We are The Commitment Scheme, coming to a Rock Band platform near you. The record is called You Shall Learn Nothing and this is the cover art. In addition to Capps and myself, we feature LOLCath and Mattos Locos.
--Spencer Ackerman
don't give up the fight:
Richard Clarke, the Cassandra of counterterrorism, the man behind the unheeded Delenda plan to destroy al-Qaeda before 9/11, has a new book coming out. It's called Your Government Failed You, after his famous apology to the families of 9/11 victims before the 9/11 Commission. I was in the press box at the hearing when Clarke said those words, and it was like an emotional dam bursting. The families -- so angry, so traumatized, and feeling so disrespected -- stood up and applauded him. Clarke remains the only U.S. official ever to apologize for 9/11.

Clarke's latest book is another well-informed and scathing attack on the conduct of the so-called Global War On Terrorism. An essay based on its thesis is found in one of the best sources for terrorism information around, the CTC Sentinel, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. In a nutshell: make counterterrorism a full-spectrum fight against al-Qaeda across both civilian and military agencies of the U.S. government; get out of Iraq right now; break up the Department of Homeland Security. A taste:
To defeat the al-Qa'ida movement, it must be recognized as a cancer infecting only a small percentage of the greater body of peace-loving Muslims worldwide. While eliminating the cancer is our end objective, our more immediate goal is to keep it from spreading. Yet many of our actions aimed at capturing and killing terrorists have alienated wide swathes of the Muslim world. In short, what we have done to eliminate the cancer has served to spread it. The most important counterterrorism tools are law enforcement, intelligence and ideology. When military action is called for, we must act swiftly and decisively, but in the context of defeating al-Qa'ida, smart bombs, cruise missiles and SEAL teams must be applied like a surgeon's scalpel to prevent a counterproductive reaction among people affected by the collateral damage.
But that's no fun. Let's go waterboarding!
--Spencer Ackerman
Monday, February 18, 2008
this is really happening, happening:
It's too early to predict the beginning of the end for Musharraf, but sometimes wishful thinking provides a certain emotional comfort.
--Spencer Ackerman
you ain't made shit hot since Amerikkka's Most:
Christ, does WireTAP ever put the Plotz-Goldberg mutual-masturbation session to shame. Omar as Robin Hood? When, exactly, did he distribute his hauls to the poor? I don't think these two understand the show. And maybe, just maybe, they don't like the Sun storyline because they're the kind of reporters that David Simon disdains. The show is not laughing with you, gentlemen.

Update: In all fairness, I should say that in WireTAP 2 I mistakenly pointed to the loss of Omar's coat as foreshadowing his death. Last night Omar had the coat back.
--Spencer Ackerman
look in the windows of the soul, the eyes never lie:
Over at Abu Mooq, pinch-blogger Kip is having some fun at John Nagl's expense. Pile on!

Update: Best comment section ever. The world is not ready for LOLNAGL.
--Spencer Ackerman
i'm like a sniper, hyper off the ginseng brew:
I just interviewed George fucking McGovern. I'm not going to lie: I think that's pretty cool. McGovern, whatever his faults, was definitely Too Hot For The U.S. Senate. According to Robert Sam Anton's 1972 campaign biography, just before McGovern's 1971 attempt with Senator Mark Hatfield to de-fund the war failed, McGovern said on the Senate floor, "Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood." You can't say that shit!

And here he is in a Playboy interview with Milton Viorst:
Viorst: I suppose that Nixon would like to make the late Ho Chi Minh into the Vietnam Hitler. Are you suggesting he might be the North Vietnam George Washington?

McGovern: That's right.
And he was right! Ho was unquestionably the father of Vietnam in exactly the way Washington was the father of the United States! (Except Ho didn't have like thirty goddamn dicks.) And yet you can't say that sort of thing, because the Bill Kristols will excoriate you and the Mike O'Hanlons will tsk-tsk you. But like the Pope said to the Gdansk shipyard strikers, we need not be afraid.
--Spencer Ackerman
i turn on some music to start my day:
Read Matt "Angel" Duss on the Boston/Huckabee split. (Actually, they should totally record a split 7".) To change the tone dramatically, my memories of the first Boston record will forever be tied to those of my old, estranged friend T.J. Doherty. At the Brooklyn apartment T.J. shared in 2001 with my then-girlfriend, he drew a picture on a yellow legal pad of the back cover of the first Boston record, a shabby but defiant mess, a total A for effort. (T.J. did another one of My Bloody Valentine, which he accidentally titled, "My Bloddy Valentine.") They hung it, as was necessary, on the wall.

T.J. is a brilliant sound engineer
. When he was 13 years old, he heard a Steely Dan record, and thought it was so perfect, he had to make music that sounded as good as that. Not 15 years later, T.J. became Steely Dan's engineer. On one crazy night when he was working on a D'Angelo session, he got us into the legendary Sear Sound studios, where Lou Reed and Alex Chilton recorded. By 6 a.m. I was drumming on D'Angelo's drummer's DW set. T.J. won a Grammy for engineering Wilco's Ghost Is Born record and did a great job on Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped as well.

Last month T.J. thought he had a pimple on his face. It was a staph infection. Both his lungs have collapsed. He's fighting for his life in Hackensack Hospital in New Jersey, where he's not allowed visitors. If you believe in God, please pray for him. T.J., I love you brother, and I'm not prepared to say goodbye.
--Spencer Ackerman
alive in the land of the dead:
It's been about 36 hours since the Protect America Act expired. How much longer do we have to live?
--Spencer Ackerman
won't last long in a prison they call life:
In the midst of a Moe Tkacik post that covers your bases from Harold & Kumar to Kosovo's declaration of independence, there's a link to an AP interview with a Guantanamo interrogator. He's upset that that people think he's a torturer. In fact, he says, they just tortured a couple of people at Guantanamo and that was years ago and the people who are at Guantanamo now who were tortured were tortured before they even got to Guantanamo! Mom! Make Billy play fair!
"Everybody in the world believes that they know how we do what we do, and I have to endure it every time I turn around and somebody is making reference to waterboarding," [Paul] Rester said. He insisted that Guantanamo interrogators have had many successes using rapport-building and said that technique was the norm here.
Oh, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune! Look, I went to Guantanamo Bay in 2005. (Link? Link? Huh? No, TNR archives, fuck you.) I saw the bolts in the floor in the interrogation chamber at Camp 5 where they short-shackled the detainees. The euphemistic Schmidt-Furlow report describes interrogators putting Mohammed al-Qatani in a room so cold for so long his heart malfunctioned. Then there's the simple, unassailable truth that detaining someone indefinitely without trial is itself torture. If there's injustice here, it's not being committed against Paul Rester.

Apropos of Yglesias's portrait of me as a globe-trotting collector of national-security anecdotes -- weird, that's what my business card says -- two things. One, during my Guantanamo trip, my press handler was this very dudely dude named Justin Behrens who spent the days implying that I was a traitor who asked impertinent and unfair questions and the nights (drunken nights) bellowing into the sea breeze that I was his boy because we've been to the same Montreal strip clubs. He went on to run for Congress as a Democrat in 2006.

Two, Guantanamo Bay has a gift shop. Sure, sure, allegedly it's a NEX, the Navy's equivalent of a PX. But you can buy Camp Delta (the detention facility) souvenirs for your friends there. A stuffed iguana that has "Guantanamo Bay" stitched on his left side currently guards my desk at the Indy. I also bought $100 worth of off-color Guantanamo Bay t-shirts, out of my own pocket, for TNR staffers but they still shitcanned me. I'm trying to work out another trip through the Pentagon to cover the KSM trial, so place your t-shirt orders now. May I recommend the JDOG (Joint Detention Operations Group) shirt, which features a snarling canine, much like the kind used on Iraqi detainees after Abu Ghraib was "Gitmo-ized"? Not that we torture!
--Spencer Ackerman
If you want it, Re-Up'll make you plummet:
Another female suicide bomber. The fifth this year. Three dead in the heart of Baghdad.
--Spencer Ackerman
Sunday, February 17, 2008
i'm running down, in circles:
Later this afternoon the crew is going to see George Romero's Diary of The Dead. Early reviews suggest that the zombies all sit around with Sunny Day Real Estate records and lament Jeremy Enigk's Christianity. That's how you know they're zombies, because they're still not over a conversion that happened fifteen fucking years ago.
--Spencer Ackerman
now it's time for you and me:
The Surge needs your support.

So Rory from The N** Y*** T**** and I are The Surge. We intend to launch an all-out agit-prop campaign in preparation for our upcoming performance at Washington D.C.'s Velvet Lounge on March 15. But The Surge doesn't have enough troops for the entire country. You, my readers, can augment our overstretched force.

If you e-mail your contact information to supportthesurge-at-gmail-dot-com, we'll mail you stickers and other Surge propaganda, stuff we're in the process of creating. Spread it around your neighborhood. You will be our Concerned Local Citizens, our Awakening Councils. Readers of this blog in Iraq are especially encouraged to enlist.

No one can say The Surge isn't working.
--Spencer Ackerman
breaking rocks in the hot sun:
My America has returned when a movie like this can be made. Holy motherfucking shit. Extremely NSFW.
Via my dear friend Liz Sheridan, who once did something unspeakable in a Chuck E. Cheese. You should be reading her TV & movie blog. Pressure her to tell the Chuck E. Cheese story!
--Spencer Ackerman
kill the conscience, with lives on the line:
We had a scare in Irbil in January 2006. There were rumors of Arabs at the market near the old city. My friend Andrew's fixer got the warning through text message, and then he sent it to my fixers, and to all their friends and family. I had an interview near the area that morning. My dudes advised us to reschedule. When we ultimately went to the interview, we took a route that avoided the old city. Kurds don't trust Arabs.

Leila Fadel reports from Irbil that Iraqi Kurdistan is becoming an apartheid state:
Every three months, Munawer Fayeq Rashid goes to the Asayech, an intelligence security agency in Irbil, and hands over his identification. The Shiite Muslim Arab never goes alone. He has to bring a Kurdish sponsor to vouch for him.

Although Irbil is part of Iraq, Iraqi Arabs who move here or elsewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan have learned that they're not considered fellow Iraqis.

"They treat us like foreigners," Rashid said.

When he moved to Irbil from Baghdad, worried about the safety of his Kurdish wife and his children, Rashid had to find a Kurd who'd swear that he was a good man. Then Kurdish authorities questioned him intensely before issuing him a residency permit that's good for only three months. He must carry it with him everywhere.

"They asked every detail about me," Rashid said. "'Where do you live? Who are your relatives? Who were your neighbors in Baghdad?' But the most nerve-wracking question was: 'Are you Sunni or Shiite?'"
--Spencer Ackerman