Friday, January 13, 2006

Missed This Yesterday

...but yeah, Shrub DID use "heckuva" during his visit to NOLA. What a dumbfuck.

Steve Gilliard cited this post, the nub being that the dauphin is so out of touch no one's bothered to tell him that the expression "heckuva" is the modern equivalent of throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister.

And, of course, we were treated to pictures showing the fool on the high ground...and a mural. Thanks to Schroeder for linking to Bag News Notes.

In other words, the boy king's visit was about as useful as a French Quarter curfew...but, of course, the national media swept it all under the rug--hell, they even relegated his $4 million dollar fundraiser (again, the REAL reason for his trip) to the final paragraphs, if it was mentioned it at all.

What a bunch of tools.
Reality Television, Iraqi Style

Billmon has a post up today (huzzah!) focusing on what's apparently the new trend in Iraqi teevee: reality shows featuring the insurgency. The shows feature in-studio interviews along with grittier footage showing I.E.D. explosions, mortar attacks...and (no doubt whetting a wingnut's appetite for gore) executions.

Geez...I never thought I'd see "last throes" and "production values" juxtaposed:

Now if they were real propaganda professionals, the terrorists would have had multiple copies of some trite but catchy slogan -- "Killing the Crusaders" -- posted as the backdrop to the set, like Bush at one of his "Saving Social Security" town hall meetings. But even if the production values are still a little rough, the insurgents clearly see ratings potential in the talk show format:
Abu Munther sits sporting a black blazer and a white turtleneck, even though the ski-mask is still a mandatory part of the wardrobe, and he’s performing the role of the host of this setting. Today’s guest is Abu Ahmed from the Military Council of JAS [Jaish Ansar Al-Sunna, No. 2 Terrorist Organization in Iraq], who is underdressed for the occasion because “I didn’t know that this was going to happen,” as he apologetically explains towards the end.

Talk, however, doesn't hold that prized young-armed-male demographic. So it isn't l
The half-hour interview, interspersed with footage and commentary, ends with a customary handshake and a plug for future programming. End credits include “Pray for us” and “Copyright is reserved for any Muslim, 2005.”
ong before Abu Munther and his guest switch to the bang bang shoot 'em up:
We are shown a montage of JAS’s ‘Greatest Hits,’ which run the gamut from blowing up Humvees in Ramadi to firing-off C5K missiles in Samarra. We are shown about twenty such operations, including one in which an observation tower within a US base is blown-up in broad daylight. Abu Ahmad explains that JAS has spies operating inside US military installations. These spies are equipped with GPS navigation devices and their job is to deliver the coordinates of sensitive points within these far-flung bases to those rigging up missiles or setting-up mortar attacks. We even glimpse a scene of a man sitting down with a calculator and a notepad making preparations for just such an attack.

Then it's back to the studio for the wind up:
The half-hour interview, interspersed with footage and commentary, ends with a customary handshake and a plug for future programming. End credits include “Pray for us” and “Copyright is reserved for any Muslim, 2005.”

Now you gotta admit, that's a pretty slick piece of work -- especially for a bunch of desperate terrorists who are relentlessly being hunted down and killed by the U.S. Army and its heroic Iraqi allies in their drive to total victory. That probably explains the wardrobe problems.

Desperate as he is, Abu Zarqawi isn't going to let a rival network steal audience share so easily. According to Kazimi at Talisman Gate, he put up the first installment of his own new show the same week that the JAS version of 60 Minutes (well, 30 Minutes) debuted. I guess it must have been sweeps week.

However, being more of a Fox Network/Spike TV kind of guy, Zarqawi skips the talk show wrapper and sticks with his classic reality TV formula -- confession followed by execution:
So what did [Al Qaeda in Iraq] come up with? Their own version of Cops . . . a response to a popular version of that show being shown on the official Iraqi TV network, Al-Iraqiyya, and called “Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.”
But this time around, Zarqawi’s Omar Brigade (set-up to kill and capture members of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade) showcases a bunch of captured Badrists and has them utter their confessions on tape.

As with most reality shows, you already know how this one will end:
Abu Zemen, whose confession is shown towards the very end after we hear voice-overs from Zarqawi condemning Shias in general, lists the goals of the Badr Brigade as follows: to distribute drugs, to kill Sunnis and rape their women, and to kill Sunni university professors, doctors, and ex-officers.

The video ends with Abu Zemen being shot in the back of the head, as well as having his house blown up.

Let's see Kiefer Sutherland top that.

Billmon goes on to point out that the "last throes" of this insurgency might well end up in an "Ulster on steroids" scenario--hardly a success, by any rational measure. But, then again, in a world where Woof Blitzer gets as well a paying gig as he's got to spew bilious, propagandistic venom--marketed as "news"--then almost anything is possible, at least when it comes to descriptions...
The Foreign Side of Shrub's Failures

Reading around the internets this morning--and watching Countdown last night--confirmed my observation yesterday re: dipshit-in-chief (can't be spelled without "dubya"). When it comes to New Orleans, he just doesn't get it.

Well, at least the "two fools" pic is getting plenty of play...personally, I think the mural would be a more effective leader.

But, getting back to the point, Shrub keeps rolling snake eyes, both here and abroad--the press keeps reporting it, but with the odd grin that comes from having eaten a double-sized shitburger:

Turmoil in Iraq Is Part of Progress, Bush Says

Yep, that's the real headline. Next thing you know, the WaPo will dutifully note the preznit's insistance that "War is Peace."

President Bush warned Americans yesterday that they can expect to see more violence in Iraq over the next year but called this the price of progress as the country stands up its own security forces and moves toward democracy.

And here's the preznit's Iraqi security force "dream team" in action:

-- On Nov. 22, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq handed over Saddam Hussein's most lavish palace compound to the safekeeping and control of the new Iraqi army and government, in a ceremony whose intended symbolism was as impossible to ignore as the military brass band.

"The passing of this facility is a simple ceremony that vividly demonstrates the continuing progress being made by the Iraqi government and their people," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, who handed the keys to the palaces to the governor of Salahuddin province.

But in the days after American forces and the Iraqi brass band pulled out of the circular palace drive on a bluff overlooking the Tigris River, local officials now say, looters moved in, ripping out doors, air conditioners, ceiling fans and light-switch plates from some of the compound's 136 palaces, leaving little more than plaster and dangling electric wires.

The culprits are some of the same Iraqi security forces and officials to whom Americans transferred control, police and the governor say.

"Thank God we were able to save the walls from the looters, because everything else was stolen," Gov. Hamed Hamood Shekti said by telephone.

Yeah, that's Shrubleroy's vision in a nutshell--which, come to think of it, is an accurate a measure of his intellectual acumen as well. The fact that any sort of rational, thinking human being would look at Iraq and immediately come to the realization that it's a clusterfuck seems lost on Mr. Peanut-Brain, his Kool-Aid consuming underlings...and a press corpse that spends its time remarking about how stylish the Chimperor's new attire is...

Which is why, when someone like John Murtha points out the obvious, the collection of pinheads comprising Team Bush MUST jump--and jump quickly--into slime mode:

The Huffington Post has learned the Bush administration recently asked high ranking military leaders to denounce Congressman John Murtha. Congressman Murtha has called for the Bush Administration to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

The Bush Administration first attacked Rep. Murtha for his Iraq views by associating him with the filmmaker Michael Moore and Representative Jean Schmidt likened him to a coward on the floor of the House of Representatives. When those tactics backfired, Dick Cheney called Murtha "A good man, a marine, a patriot and he's taking a clear stand in an entirely legitimate discussion."

Though the White House has backed off publicly, administration officials have nevertheless recently made calls to military leaders to condemn the congressman. So far they have refused.

Rep. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal. His service has earned him the respect of the military, and made him a trusted adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents and leaders of the armed forces.

Good thing there are still a few clear thinkers at the Pentagon...because the guy at the top has pretty obviously gone bonkers (or maybe he's always been)...And, as the failures mount, I'm betting the wingnut crowd will be even more liberal (pun intended) with the feces flinging (in the other Wolcott post I referred to below--about assclown Michael Fumento--J.W. provides a perfect analysis of wingnut behavior in this regard: as things continue to spiral out of control, 'nuts fantasize ever more violently about those who didn't opt for the moron approach).

Anyway--I veered slightly off topic--when you look at it, Shrub's steered the ship of state directly into a perfect storm. I just hope I'll find a seat on one of the lifeboats...
They're Wimptastic!

James Wolcott readies, aims, fires...and scores a bulls-eye:

I would add one additional bit of evidence regarding the political retardedness of establishment Democrats.

I was traveling the cable dial this afternoon where I came upon a panel on CNBC's Kudlow & Company just as Lanny Davis, his insipid, ingratiating grin firmly in place, was saying that he hoped Democrats wouldn't "politicize" the Jack Abramoff situation but simply let the facts of the case emerge.

This is the sort of idiot we're inflicted with, the perfect representative of the Beltway Democrat who cautions against politicizing anything remotely political for fear it might give David Broder a spot of indigestion. Imagine what the Newt Gingrich of the early nineties would have done if he had had something like this handed to him on a platter--he wouldn't have sent it back to the kitchen. He would have worked it for everything it was worth, and more. But Beltway weenies are too timid and prissy to exploit a golden opportunity. Everyone knows the Abramoff scandal has "Republican" stencilled on every side of it and if you won't/can't use it to jump all over the Republican Party and the DeLay machine, what the hell are you even doing in the Democratic Party? As more details surface, the Abramoff cesspool is going to make the K-Street crowd and their Republicans on retainer look even worse than they do now, and here's Davis waving the white cocktail napkin of surrender and urging preemptive pullback. Beltway Dems like Davis and the DLC crowd don't want to politicize the Iraq war, or the Alito hearings, or the Katrina clusterfuck, or the NSA spying scandal; they shy away from every prospective fight and prevent any ongoing debate or controversy from gaining traction. Just as Jack Murtha's bombshell was gaining momentum, in droops Joe Lieberman to back up the president with a gift-wrapped testimonial. Yes, I know Lanny Davis is not an elected official but he was representing the Democratic side along with Harold Ford against John Fund of WSJ and Arizona congressman Jeff Flake (R). Given how Davis was fawning over Flake (who was making mild reformist noises about the need to clean house)--saying that he wished he could vote for someone so bright and sensible--and how Ford was prudently urging us to stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was more of a barbershop quartet than a doubles match. Kudlow, of course, couldn't have been more pleased by the civility and consensus shown by the fab four. Lanny Davis and Harold Ford were his kind of Democrats--reasonable, moderate, mainstream, and completely housebroken. They were good little guests.

And scroll down a bit to read him dismissing some dingbat named Michael Fumento faster than a Gret Stet judge on the take.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Groveling God-Boy

Laff--when it comes to dollars, Pat Robertson can't spin fast enough or jump high enough:

Evangelist Pat Robertson apologized in a Wednesday letter for saying that the major stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was divine retribution for "dividing God's land."

The apology -- offered in a letter to Sharon's son, Omri -- followed a threat by Israel to exclude Robertson from a proposed $50 million Christian heritage site in northern Israel.

"My zeal, my love of Israel and my concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness," Robertson wrote.

Pat Robertson is about one imaginary head slap away from pulling an Oral Roberts.
Please Read

Saw a reference to this at Greenwald's own site and Suspect Device:

Republican Sermons About Civility

The missus can cry all she wants. I'm not impressed.

And an extra thanks to Greenwald--alas, I often find myself so caught up in the various stories of the day that my perspective lapses. I'm glad he reminded me just how low the GOP assclowns will stoop in order to cling to power. And their media lapdogs eat it all up.
Uphill--Kind of Like at Gallipoli

These three posts I came across today form a decent triad in explaining the difficulty faced by progressives these days and the overall weakness of the Democratic Party...which, as we know, has spent the better part of the last quarter century or so giving short shrift to its (progressive) base.

First, Jane Hamsher:

It is remarkably frustrating to blog the Alito hearings, feel the righteous indignation of people in the comments sections all over the blogosphere that the supreme court is in danger of making a major lurch to the extreme right with the potential appointment of a bigoted, sexist, entitled, slavering chickenhawk like Alito, and see it reflected nowhere in the traditional media.

Every time it feels like some momentum is being gained, CNN blows it all away with the sweep of a facile headline. Pick up a paper or turn on cable news and on cue they are parroting all the GOP's talking points -- Alito's a moderate, he'll keep an "open mind" on abortion, and oh the poor frumpy sobbing wife.

How does the GOP keep them all in such abject subservience? An article from the Knight-Ridder news service shows the extremely organized pressure they bring to bear on anyone who deviates from their party message...

Hamsher then notes the kneejerk reactions from true assholes like John Cornyn, Jon Kyl, and Jeffrey N. Wasserstein--none of whom I'll bet actually READ the Knight Ritter story, much less the Alito opinions themselves. Hamsher concludes by linking to Peter Daou (also found via Atrios), who offers analysis and conjecture:

Within days of the warrantless domestic spying story breaking, I wrote a cynical piece titled The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade). It seemed clear that the lack of coordination between the netroots and the Democratic leadership, coupled with the media’s equivocation and obfuscation, would lead to another potentially impeachable offense fading and "blending into a long string of administration scandals."

Looking at the contours of previous scandals, I ventured this prediction: "Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on."

And like clockwork, we get this from CNN: Poll finds U.S. split over eavesdropping, not to mention this from Rasmussen. (One of the rare benefits of a second Bush term is that the patterns of media and political behavior that have led us to this point are more easily discerned.)...

Which brings me to the Alito hearings, a perfect instance for the left's triangle to change conventional wisdom, to shape public opinion. But rather than a Democratic triumph, the Alito hearings have thrown the dichotomy between the netroots and the Democratic leadership into even starker relief, illustrating the profound dysfunction of the left’s triangle. As well, the depth and breadth of media complicity and the obliviousness of so many Democrats to it, is alarming. From the choreography of Specter and Alito creating the "open mind on abortion" soundbite that media outlets dutifully ran with, to the Sen. Graham/Mrs. Alito tear-fest that should have prompted Dems to slam the Republicans for bringing the Judge's wife to tears but instead turned into another Dem-bashing occasion, to the complete failure of the Democratic leadership to create the appropriate tone of outrage (in soundbite form), the chronic breakdown of the establishment and media sides of the left's triangle is apparent.

This, then, is the reality: progressive bloggers and online activists -- positioned on the front lines of a cold civil war -- face a thankless and daunting task: battle the Bush administration and its legions of online and offline apologists, battle the so-called “liberal” media and its tireless weaving of pro-GOP narratives, battle the ineffectual Democratic leadership, and battle the demoralization and frustration that comes with a long, steep uphill struggle.

Check out Daou's post for his opinion on how progressives could've worked the Alito nomination--and I'll note that all he's suggestion is opting for strategies routinely used by the GOP itself (anyone who thinks the right isn't constantly playing politics is simply batshit insane).

Digby ties it all together, slamming both the wingnuts for their mendacity AND the Democrats for allowing themselves to be attacked as "chickenshits":

It pays to keep in mind that the 1994 Republicans didn't put out their "Contract On America" until six weeks before the election. They've pretended that it won them the election but that's a joke. (They did use bogus polling to give that impression.) What won that election was relentless criticism over the course of many months leading up to it. They built upon a reserve of discontent about a slow economic recovery by placing the blame for everything squarely on the "liberals" and the Democratic party. Their "positive" agenda was just gilding the lilly...

Here's a rather amusing example of GOP think on this from a commenter, who offered it up apparently without irony:
allow me to explain why the Abramoff scandal, like so many others before it, will prove to be more devestating to the Dems then it could possibly be to the GOP, much less conservatives...

Americans are already starting to realize that if a "loyal opposition" cannot even do its job of defeating the party in powers' corruption and misgovernance (examples of which are legion, apparently), then how can we possibly entrust them with the real job of governing the nation?

Rather, American voters will know they would be wiser to turn to the Republican Party, which has made some partisan, ideological and hubristic missteps, yes - even engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior it would seem. All those sins, yes, but still the GOP is not so grossly incompetent or lacking in power that it would allow what it has done over the past few years to pass, if it had been the Democrats who had done it.

Truly, the Dems attack the Abramoff scandal at their peril.

Well, it takes either remarkable gumption--or true stupidity--to believe a massive GOP corruption scandal will somehow end up hurting the Democrats...BUT, with a compliant press corpse (e.g., Blitzer, Woof), it certainly becomes easier...and easier still when every person in a position of leadership, with the exception of Howard Dean, plays shrinking violet every time a professional asshole like John Cornyn engages in verbal flatulence.

Alas, Dean is undergoing what Jerome Doolittle aptly referred to as "Permafuck" during the 2004 election cycle...but again, I have a feeling that folks like John Murtha are a little more in tune with public opinion than the preening ninnies of wingnuttia--who, these days, are the embodiment of the inside-the-beltway culture they railed about...until they took THEIR seats at the trough.

Payback is a bitch. And I'm still hoping a nice cold dish of revenge is about to get served--perhaps in subpeona or indictment form, or maybe at the polls...I guess we'll see come November.
Pleasantly Surprised, and Not Surprised at All

One small bit of good news is that the rally at Jackson Square at least got a bit of coverage from NPR, although they focused on participation by Catholic schoolgirls (I guess John Derbyshire will be, ahem, busy for a while--sorry to gross you out)...but ANY coverage is better than none at all.

However, as I expected, Shrubleroy showed ZERO class and even less wit, reprising his initial, lame little post 9/11 mantra (anyone remember "travel to the moon and shop till you drop to defeat terrorists"?) and slathering on more reminiscences of his partyin' fool daze...

A while back, I wrote up something about my first visit to post-Katrina NOLA. I worried that folks who hit only the tourist areas (which is what I did) would fail to notice the large swaths of city that look like the aftermath of a saturation bombing campaign...well, one tourist, Dubya Bush, vacation-boy-in-chief, apparently did just that:

"I will tell you, the contrast between when I was last here and today is pretty dramatic," Bush said. "From when I first came here to today, New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to visit."

As if he can recall anything after the booze and coke took hold.

Bubble boy even had to get a lesson in reality this morning from Andrew Card (not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer either):

"I had to manage his expectations this morning, because while there has great progress, there continues to be great need indescribable need," Card said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Bob Herbert, on a slightly different topic, wrote this morning that "The country has set the bar so low for the performance of George W. Bush as president that it is effectively on the ground." Herbert was focusing on the lunacy of the illegal wiretaps, which, as best as I can tell, are illegal for the sole reason that filling out forms 'n stuff is just too hard. Must be all them big werds like "Please explain your reasons for seeking a wiretap."

Well, looks like any genuine focus on rebuilding the Gulf Coast is...too hard as well. Instead, it's just more photo-ops...and fundraisers. Like I noted this morning, the REAL reason for this trip is an RNC fundraiser in Palm Beach. The NOLA and Mississippi stops simply allow them to foist the Air Force One bill on the taxpayers.

Well, sooner or later, reality is gonna catch up with these clowns--I hope...
Waiting and Watching

The big blogs are all focused on Scalito-- and the Missus's kleenex moment--for the most part (a few have taken note of Kate O'Beirnes horrid little screed of a book, while Tbogg channels Jonah Goldberg)...As for me, I'm hoping to hear a few reports about this morning's rally in Jackson Square and Shrubusto's "no, really, I DO care" visit to the Gulf Coast (fittingly, he gives the game away--the REAL trip is to a Florida fundraiser, i.e., the Gulf Coast visit is merely window dressing/a cheap way to charge taxpayers for using Air Force One).

You know, I think I have my own modest proposal: For EVERY dollar spent in Iraq, an equal amount should be spent on Gulf Coast recovery...looks like right now that's $233 billion...and counting. Any assclown who balks at such an expenditure should be required to explain their position--preferably in public, ideally before an assembly of people who either live in the affected areas, or have been displaced. I'd be particularly interested in seeing Shrub's response.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Apres Le Deluge...

I've been reading some interesting things regarding the latest news on the NOLA rebuilding plan, both from the Pic (hat tip to YRHT)--more here--and Scout Prime, currently posting at First Draft:

The main author of the plan, Joseph Canizaro, says the commission will propose that the city should discourage homeowners from rebuilding in the hardest-hit areas, but will not forbid them from doing so.

Scout refers us to two BBC stories--in the first, the sadly appropriate description "nuked" is used to describe hard hit areas of the city. We are also directed to this profile of Canizaro...well, I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised, but it's likewise never fun to be troubled by a resume like his--although it warmed me just a bit to see this from the Pic:

Harvey Bender, point[ed] his finger at members of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission and accus[ed] Joseph Canizaro, the urban planning committee chairman and a prominent New Orleans developer, of plotting to take land from people.

"I don't know you, but Mr. Canizaro, I hate you," Bender said. "You've been in the background scheming to take our land."

Another resident, Caroline Parker, said: "I don't think it's right that you take our properties. Over my dead body."


To be fair, there's an awful lot of stuff being floated (no pun intended)--green space, light rail, industrial zones--something tells me Shrub's visit tomorrow will be heavy on VERY general promises (i.e., things he can easily back away from without so much as a whimper from the national press corpse). And, c'mon, some of the proposals, at first glance, give me almost a Christmas-like feeling (particularly when light rail is brought up--yes! yes! yes!).

However, it's good that Scout is warning us about Canizaro--and, by extension, the feds themselves, because, well, I don't trust the bastards. Even as Shrub goes on the charm offensive--emphasis on "offensive"--tomorrow, the GOP's attempting to play politics by launching a recall drive against Blanco. Don't think for a second these are unrelated. Blanco is getting Swift Pirogue'd. The end result of their conniving could well be exactly what true lovers of NOLA fear--and genuine creeps like the GOP desire--New Disneyleans...a GOP New Disneyleans (with all that it entails).

So, let the debate begin--and, even as the city NEEDS--and NEEDS RIGHT NOW--essential repairs--a good, LONG discussion about things like neighborhoods IS a good thing.

Cat 5 storm protection, restoration of coastal wetlands, levee repair/reconstruction, and like improvements CAN AND SHOULD BEGIN IMMEDIATELY--there's nothing to debate about THAT. But neighborhoods, individual property holders, and even tenants shouldn't be forced into a bullshit deal.

And bullshit deals, almost invariably, get pushed through quickly by bullshit artists.

Given that the government is being run by the Picassos of bullshit artists, I think it'd be wise to hold off before signing off on anything they propose.
What They Mean When They Say "The Economy's Looking Up"

They mean it'll be easier then ever to afford more hired help:

Wall Street bonuses are expected to have hit a record $21.5 billion in 2005 from $18.6 billion in 2004 as investment banks reaped record earnings, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said Wednesday.

Last year's bonuses beat the record of $19.5 billion set in 2000 at the peak of the equities boom, Hevesi said during a conference call with reporters.

Booming merger and underwriting activity, as well as a stock market rebound, helped revenues rise by almost 50 percent in the first three quarters of last year.

"2000 was the peak of the greatest boom in our modern history. It was a remarkable time, so this is very good news," Hevesi said...

Hevesi said the average bonus in 2005 was $125,500 -- or $25,000 more than in 2000...

Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Paulson received a compensation package worth about $38 million -- 21 percent more than the year before -- while Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO John Mack got $11.5 million for his five months of service in fiscal 2005, although the board offered to pay him an annual bonus of $28 million.

Compare to Ian's list of 2006's hot entry level jobs--11 of which pay less than $23,000, i.e., chump change by Wall Street standards. And while "butler/maid/valet" isn't listed, plenty of jobs that ARE on the list are basically the short-term rental version thereof. And, if you REALLY want to talk "short term," there's always...the army--where even the bumped up death benefit would barely cover a week's pay for someone like Paulson.

But we're not supposed to talk about social class here in 'merika.

Tbogg has something to add to the IQ debate recently discussed by a few big bloggers:

A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender. The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man replies "150" and the robot makes conversation about global warming factors, quantum mechanics, spirituality, biomimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nano-technology, and sexual proclivities..

Very impressed, the customer thinks, "This is really cool," and decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man responds, "about a 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time about football, NASCAR, baseball, supermodels, favorite fast foods, guns, and women's breasts.

Really impressed, the man decides to give the robot one more test. He heads out the door and returns. The robot serves him and asks, "What's your IQ?" The man replies, "Er . . . 50 . . . I think." And the robot says... real slowly ..............

"So.............. ya gonna vote for Bush again?"

Since the storm, my opinion of NOLA's paper has changed markedly for the better. Here's one reason why:

First, [Bush] can expressly commit to a Category 5 storm protection system. While reconstruction czar Donald Powell said in December that the federal government is committed to "building the best levee system known in the world," the issue of Category 5 protection is merely a study item at this point.

The question of how to protect South Louisiana from the most ferocious storms may need study; the question of whether to do so does not.

That is not to diminish the significance of the administration's plan to spend $3.1 billion to add height to levees that had eroded over time, armor some levees with concrete and stone, close off three canals at Lake Pontchartrain and add pumping stations at those spots. Once complete, those steps should make greater New Orleans safer than it was before Katrina.

Yet, Congress in December refused to approve the $300 million needed to build the pumping stations and armor levee walls. Louisiana's congressional delegation hopes to get quick approval in a few weeks, and they need President Bush's help to make that happen.

A top-notch hurricane protection system must be accompanied by aggressive efforts to rebuild our coastal marshes. To pay for a $14 billion restoration plan, Louisianians have been pleading with Congress for years for a share of revenues from oil and gas drilling off our shore. So far, the state has only managed to get a fraction of the necessary money, and not from offshore revenues. President Bush's influence could help move Congress to act.

Levees and coastal restoration, while vital, are but one piece of the puzzle of reconstruction. Hanging almost as heavily over the heads of so many residents is how to avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. If there are massive foreclosures, hundreds of salvageable homes will die of decay. So will the once-vibrant neighborhoods around them.

Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Richard Baker has a plan to avoid that painful outcome, and President Bush's support is crucial to its passage.

The Baker legislation creates the Louisiana Recovery Corp., which would use government bonds to buy flooded homes, help the owners pay off their debt and recover some of their equity, then bundle pieces of property and sell them off for redevelopment.

The administration has been concerned about the program's cost. But there are limits on the corporation's debt, and the sale of properties would generate cash to pay off its obligations. Moreover, the renewal of neighborhoods would fuel the region's recovery.

Rebuilding greater New Orleans and its levees will be expensive, but this region is vital to the economy and culture of this nation. Besides, Katrina wasn't just a natural disaster; the federal government is also partly culpable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led us to believe we were safer than we were. Now we're left to beg for help to rebuild what should never have been lost.

When President Bush stood in Jackson Square during those dark September days, he promised to "do what it takes . . . stay as long as it takes" to rebuild this community. "There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans," he said.

He is right. There is no way on earth to imagine this nation without the bounty of our waters, our land and our people. But the only way to save this cultural and economic treasure is for President Bush to make sure the nation helps us rebuild safely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Playing Politics

Given the up-is-down political reality these days, perhaps it's not all that surprising to see Shrub accuse Democrats of 'playing politics' in regards to Iraq:

President George W. Bush denounced some critics of the Iraq war as irresponsible on Tuesday and called for an election-year debate that "brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries."

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush made clear he was girding for battle with Democrats in the run-up to the mid-term congressional election in November, when he will try to keep the U.S. Congress in the hands of his Republican Party.

"There is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate and it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas," Bush told the veterans organisation.

What a piece of shit/work. There's not a shred of evidence indicating Shrub War was EVER about anything BUT politics. Duh.

The boy who would be king also stomped on about pledges of $13 billion dollars in reconstruction aid promised--but, to date, not delivered--by other countries. Gee, Dub--maybe they won't pony up because 1) lately, reconstruction of Iraq has been pretty much tabled, even by yourself, and 2) some $9 billion dollars has simply been lost, which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same story of your business life (but on steroids).

Geez. And, come Thursday, he'll be heading to NOLA, where I don't doubt he'll be promising the moon and stars on a silver platter--the press will dutifully report this, and won't bother to follow up when it turns out to be so much bullshit packed around lies, packed around even more bullshit.

Oh, and for the tinfoil crowd, here's an interesting link--looks like the wire is back--or maybe it never left. Well, at least he managed to get some 250 words out without barking out "let me finish" to no one in particular...

Sorry for not noticing this until now, but via The Sideshow, here's an interesting take on Bush's "I can do it 'cause I'm the preznit, damnit" defense of his illegal wiretaps:

Saddam Hussein's defense against his indictment by an ad hoc Iraqi tribunal is simply that has the head of the state he had unlimited power to defend the state. That enemies of the state did not have legal protection, and therefore he cannot be charged for what he did during that time.

I always thought there was quite a bit of Saddam in Dubya...

Attaturk, describing the current occupant of the White House, is concise:

Grant and Harding's Administrations have always set the gold standard of out and out theft, but neither of them were involved other than appointing and trusting the crooks -- they were simply grossly incompetent. Nixon has set the standard for personal malfeasance of a President through his own actions; Buchanan and Pierce have always been standard bearers for not just watching as disasters came, but helping to strike the match. Polk has always been the clear example the nation had for starting and fighting illegal wars -- poor LBJ always coming in second even in the bad stuff.

Well, in George Bush we have managed to have a confluence of events. We have the incompetent detachment of a Grant & Harding; the malevolence of a Nixon; the pettiness of Buchanan & Pierce; and the war mongering of Polk all in one smirking little package.

Oh how fortunate are we to live in such historical times?

In a subsequent post, he adds the following salient point:

Chimperor Disgustus and his minions are lying sacks of shit who couldn't manage a vending machine let alone a war.

Very insightful, if you ask me.
Must Be the Drugs and Booze...

Or something, because Shrubleroy's clearly delusional:

President George W. Bush, facing a mounting U.S. death toll in Iraq, predicted on Tuesday more tough fighting in 2006 but said there would be "more progress toward victory."

Bush, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said progress would come in Iraq's political process, reconstruction and the battle against insurgents during the year.

"We will see more tough fighting and we will see more sacrifice in 2006 because the enemies of freedom continue to sow violence and destruction. We'll also see more progress toward victory," Bush said.

He defined victory as a time when insurgents no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when Iraqi security forces can provide safety for their citizens on their own and when Iraq is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.

Bush is trying to convince skeptical Americans that his strategy for Iraq will work even as the U.S. death toll increases nearly three years since the invasion to oust President Saddam Hussein.

He has faced a barrage of criticism over his handling of Iraq. The week Paul Bremer, the senior diplomat who administered Iraq for a year after Saddam was toppled, said his call for a big expansion of troops there in 2004 was rejected.

In the overall war on terrorism, which the president says includes Iraq as its central front, Bush said: "Like generations before us we have faced setbacks on the path to victory, yet we will fight this war with resolve and without wavering."

A suicide attack inside Iraq's Interior Ministry compound killed 28 people on Monday, which followed one of the bloodiest days in months, when attacks killed 120 people.

In one of the worst weekends for the U.S. military since the invasion, a U.S. helicopter crashed in Iraq, killing all 12 people on board, and five Marines died in the west of the country.

Bush has refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, which now number about 153,000 personnel, but says American forces can pull out when Iraqi forces take over security.

More than 2,200 Americans and some 30,000 Iraqis have been killed in the Iraq war.

Hmmm..."we have faced setbacks on the path to victory, yet we will fight this war with resolve and without wavering." That reminds me of folks I used to know up north who'd adopt the "we" reference when talking about the football team--as if watching the game on teevee somehow secured them a spot on the roster.

Then again, it's not the first time chickenhawks like Shrub--and, evidently, his SCOTUS nominee Scalito--gave themselves medals of valor even as they played shrinking violet. Hullabaloo has more:

The only political aspirants among those three groups who failed to meet the test of their generation were the chickenhawks. And our problem today is that they are the ones in charge of the government as we face a national security threat. These unfulfilled men still have something to prove.

And, I suspect because their leadership of the "conservative" movement has infected the new generation, we are seeing much of the same pathology among younger warhawks as well. This is why we hear the shrill war cries of inchoate bloodlust from these quarters every time the terrorists strike. It's a primal scream of inner confusion and self-loathing. These are people whose highest aspirations and deepest longings are wrapped up in their masculinity, and yet they are flaccid failures. They are in a state of arrested development, never having faced their fears, never becoming men, remaining boys...

And so, while they prefer ever more fanciful depictions of Mesopotamia over the truly ugly reality, they likewise continue to obsess over the 1960's...something they constantly accuse their political opponents of.

Historians are going to have a field day with these assclowns.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Modest Proposal

Thanks to King of Zembla.


Um, I'm assuming satire...(despite no "satire alert").

Oh, and if you do go ahead and click through to the link, you'll see a reference to Glenn Greenwald--thanks to Firedoglake, he's now become a more or less daily must-read. Why? Here's as good an example as any.
Dutch Treat

A Gret Stet delegation--including Gov. Blanco, and Sens. Landrieu and Vitter, are heading to Holland for some tips on flood control:

The governor was among more than 40 government, business and education leaders — including Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu — who took the trip in hopes of learning how to create levees and floodgates strong enough to withstand a storm as large as or larger than Hurricane Katrina, which overwhelmed New Orleans' flood control system.

"What I'm gathering is that we have a lot to learn on how to make levees that hold up under difficult conditions," Blanco said. "I believe it will be a very valuable trip."

Landrieu, who organized the trip, said she spoke with the Dutch ambassador to the United States after Hurricane Katrina broke New Orleans' floodwalls and levees. Landrieu said the ambassador told her about that country's flood of 1953, when 1,800 people died.

"He said, `Why don't you all come over and see what we've done since then?'" Landrieu recounted.

Katrina has been blamed for more than 1,300 deaths, the vast majority of them in Louisiana.

Holland recently completed a 50-year program to build dams, seawalls, and surge barriers designed to protect the south of the country against almost any storm.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and others have questioned whether areas of Louisiana 3 to 5 feet below sea level should be rebuilt or returned to marshland. Landrieu said coastal areas of the Netherlands are 21 feet below sea level.

The article notes Blanco won't be here on Thursday, when Shrub is scheduled for yet another round of photo-opping in NOLA (no word on whether Landrieu or Vitter will be back).
We Don't Target Journalists

Oh, I'm sure it's just another mistake--you know, fog of war and all that:

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.

The director of the film, Callum Macrae, said yesterday: "The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.

"We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali's investigation."

Dr Fadhil was asleep with his wife, their three-year-old daughter, Sarah, and seven-month-old son, Adam, when the troops forced their way in.

"They fired into the bedroom where we were sleeping, then three soldiers came in. They rolled me on to the floor and tied my hands. When I tried to ask them what they were looking for they just told me to shut up," he said.
Somewhat Stormy Monday

Been a little busy here, but I've managed to prowl around a bit on the internets in between fits and starts (lots of stuff here involves waiting...and waiting some more).

I've noticed a number of references to this lovely story about how inadequate body armor contributed--and STILL contributes--to higher death rates for those soldiers who get shot.

You'd think a $425 billion dollar budget would, oh, I don't know, actually have funds available...and maybe it's just me, but shouldn't the geniuses itching to start Son of Gulf War have THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BEFORE deploying the troops?

Then again, if I remember right, apologists for these assclowns--like William Kristol--have gone on record as supporting MORE casualties. Well, congrats, Bill: your heroes delivered.

To me, though, this story underscores just how utterly unprepared for leadership this administration is. The lack of qualification and dreadful decision making are likewise reflected in their disastrous response to Katrina--and even to 9/11 (Frank Rich, writing from behind the Times curtain, points out that the administration which couldn't be bothered to file for warrants before wiretapping didn't bother to look at intelligence from LEGAL wiretaps on SEPTEMBER 10, 2001...intelligence that made it clear something awful was about to happen.

This administration has consistently managed to fail (I believe Shrubusto himself--in a rare moment of candor--defined it when describing Iraq: catastrophic success. Indeed). Steve Gilliard has a good post up about the administration's abject failure--he traces it, correctly, to the top.

I guess my only addition would be: how can anyone be surprised? Sure, the press has opted to play the role of Monica Lewinsky to Bush's Bill Clinton since even before the 2000 election...but anyone bothering to look at Shrub's life story could come to no other conclusion except that the guy was a repeating train wreck. Why the hell would it be any different in DC (Cheney may have provided "gravitas," but gravitas ain't competence). Screw up is as screw up does--and Team Bush manages, again and again, to do the wrong thing.

Let's just hope that, once the perp walks and frogmarches REALLY get started, things aren't completely off the deep end. And WHOEVER takes over come 2009 is going to have a hell of a mess to clean.