Friday, August 18, 2006

Wake Up Call

The view, more or less, from my office

If you haven't seen Mark's latest post over at After the Levees, by all means check it out. He links to this article from CNN/Fortune that points to a fact often overlooked by those who insist on belittling Louisiana even as they drive around in gas-hog automobiles:

On one level, the tepid response to what may be the nation's biggest environmental problem is inexplicable. Originally the petroleum industry located its refineries and plants in Louisiana to take advantage of the nearby oil and gas platforms, but it expanded their scope because the state, for better and worse, is one of the few that welcomes petrochemicals.

If the coastal environment became unsustainable, I don't know what other state would accept these facilities," says David Pursell, an analyst at Pickering Energy Partners, an investment-research group in Houston. "In Massachusetts, people are fighting wind farms."

Since 1978 the United States has not erected a single new oil refinery; all growth in capacity has come from adding on to existing plants, including those in Louisiana. The political impossibility of recreating the state's huge petrochemical complex elsewhere is rarely noted in the glib dicta, heard occasionally from economists, that the coast should not be rebuilt.

Americans in the other 49 states, in Pursell's view, should be "crossing their fingers" that Louisiana "will continue to be able to host these places."

And that will depend on whether the Louisiana coastline exists tomorrow in something like its present configuration.

To be honest, I can't say I'm thrilled by the industry--on some days, the air honestly stinks, probably as much as it does in Houston or Los Angeles--and no one will ever confuse a refinery with a scenic highway, despite what must be the most ironic road name in the country...but hosting the petrochemical industry (and supplying the raw material) is ONE of the resources the Gret Stet provides the rest of the country...and the rest of the country should be damned grateful.

You know, it won't take a WAR--a war that's doing NOTHING besides draining the army, depleting the treasury, and killing the wrong people, by the way--to fix things. All it would take is a committment: to honor an implicit obligation as defined by the Constitution, by statutory law, and by court decisions--a federal government obligation to protect its citizens and their property.

Besides, at least in New Orleans, they're actually AT FAULT. If you think legal responsibility is still a relevant concept, there's no other conclusion you can draw.
Centcom's Henhouse Guard Dog

Staff Sergeant Wuterich will probably see his civil suit against John Murtha thrown out of court, but as for the rest of his unit, and the criminal charges they possibly face, well...

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the new top Marine general in U.S. Central Command, is due to decide on whether charges are warranted, officials said this week.

Abb1 reminds us who General Mattis is:

General: It's 'fun to shoot some people'

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego, California.

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

And people wonder why we're losing the war...
Is This Guy Interviewing...

...for a high-level position in the GOP? Or, at the very least, some sort of associate gig with Swift Prick John O'Neill?

A high-level military investigation into the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha last November has uncovered instances in which American marines involved in the episode appear to have destroyed or withheld evidence, according to two Defense Department officials briefed on the case...

The investigation found that an official company logbook of the unit involved had been tampered with and that an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone the day of the killings was not given to investigators until Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, intervened, the officials said.

The report, based on an investigation by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, does not directly accuse marines of attempting a cover-up, but it does describe several suspicious incidents, according to the Defense Department officials.

It says that the logbook, which was meant to be a daily record of major incidents the marines’ company encountered, had all the pages missing for Nov. 19, the day of the killings, and that those portions had not been found, the officials said.

No conclusions are drawn about who may have tampered with the log. But the report says that Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the leader of the squad involved in the killings, was on duty at the unit’s operations center, where the logbook was kept, shortly after the killings occurred, the officials said.

Neal A. Puckett, a lawyer for Sergeant Wuterich, was unavailable to comment.

Wuterich, the alleged evidence destroyer (and hey, let's give him some presumption of innocence, as is his right under the Constitution)--anyway, Wuterich is the one suing John Murtha, alleging defamation based on Murtha making the Haditha massacre public. I think the odds of the case NOT getting thrown out just went from "slim and none" to just plain "none."

And Wuterich sounds like the kind of person the GOP would LOVE to have as a member.
Double Wide Cross

Crooked...just like our federal government.

YRHT, WetBankGuide and Scout linked to this story from the online Pic:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency classified a joint venture with headquarters in California and Texas as a local outfit in both Louisiana and Mississippi this year when the agency awarded travel trailer contracts that were supposed to benefit small local firms, records show.

The contractual process, which according to FEMA guidelines was explicitly designed to favor companies from areas directly hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, led to four deals of up to $100 million each for PRI/DJI Inc., a joint venture that the federal contracting register lists as a San Diego company. That is because PRI is a minority-owned firm based in California, while DJI is shorthand for Del-Jen Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fluor Corp. of Irving, Texas.

And they say Louisiana politicians are supposedly crooked. Compared to Team Bush, the Gret Stet is a MODEL for clean government. THEY, on the other hand, are genuinely approaching the level of Joseph Mobutu.
Still Crazy After All These Years

If the flooding and virtual abandonment of New Orleans last year didn't hammer home the message that this country STILL hasn't managed to come to grips with our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural heritage, then I don't know what will...that said, here are a couple more examples of how far off we all still when dealing with racial matters:

The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”
________________________________ has just posted a video of Tramm Hudson -- a Republican who's frontrunner in the race for the House seat of Senate candidate Katherine Harris -- saying this:

"I grew up In Alabama, and I understand, and I know this from my own experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know to swim."

Of course, Messrs. Young and Hudson subsequently joined the Mel Gibson/Trent Lott Hairshirt Club for Men and apologized (I think Senator George Allen has an open invitation). But I think these stories underscore how long the road ahead is...and how little progress has been made thus far.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How Freaking Difficult Can It Be to Just Get a Damn Warrant?

It's called "DOING YOUR JOB," nitwits.

You've probably seen that District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor did the right thing and "ruled...that the government's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate end to it."

The sound you might be hearing in the wake of this decision is a whole lotta wailing and gnashing of teeth from the twitnuts, who seem to think the "hard"-est paperwork.


I've asked this (rhetorical) question before...but it's worth asking again, because it seems to have gotten lost amid all the hyperbole and hot air:

What's the problem with getting a warrant?

Hell, first, we're talking for the most part about FISA warrants anyway, which allow UP TO THREE DAYS DELAY in even applying for the goddamned thing...though, at this point, I wish someone would flat out point out the obvious: if the assclowns running the show AREN'T able to obtain warrants BEFORE THE FACT, FISA or regular, well, that pretty much means they HAVEN'T BEEN DOING THEIR JOBS.

If they ARE, in fact, ever vigilant in their investigations, then they SHOULD have a pretty good idea of who they need to go after AND they SHOULDN'T have any problem providing the probable cause required for a regular warrant (and I think the standards are REDUCED for a FISA warrant).

But this debate isn't really about warrants, FISA or regular. It's about a group of overgrown adolescents who DEMAND the "right" to break the law. Terrorism? They don't give a damn about it, except as a tool to use in political campaigns.

Which is all the more reason to throw the bastards out of office...
Paging FBI Special Agent Max Berman

TPM notes the latest CNN/CSM article about Jill Carroll. I read the same article earler, and was struck by an FBI agent apparently being quite miffed that Carroll's father chose NOT to follow his advice when being interviewed on television:

"The FBI wanted the father -- him -- to shake his fist, in essence; to go on TV and address the men who held Jill as murderers and thugs."

Instead, Carroll's father took a far less combative tone.

Marshall seems to hedge his bets in the post; however, when I read the article this morning, something about the tenor and tone of the FBI agent resonated with me...

Oh, yeah, that's right: wasn't there some sort of "professional negotiator" character in the comedy Best in Show? There sure was: Max Berman, and it turns out his "success rate" wasn't all that good...unless you think "they ALL end up jumping" is "success."

Berman demonstrates his "technique" in one scene, and his actual words are in the picture above (click to enlarge).

I never thought I'd see the day when a farcical comedy might well have been inspiration for a tactical decision in the midst of an enormously stressful crisis...but, then again, I thought this administration would be more the caretaker variety, considering the results from the 2000 "election."
NOLA on My Mind

Well, I know what I'm doing next weekend, and I'm sure looking forward to it--finally getting to meet or even just listen to a large number of people whose work I really enjoy will be something...

Meanwhile, to stay on the subject of NOLA and the Gulf Coast: if you haven't checked out the online Pic's coverage of When the Levees Broke, I'd encourage you to do so (I sent the link to a friend, who tells me it doesn't work, but you can also hit the main page and link from there). My own .00000002 cents' worth, reduced in value even further because, well, I haven't seen the movie yet:

I don't expect Spike Lee to make an "unbiased" movie because one, I don't think such a thing's possible, and two, if it was it'd probably turn out to be pretty damn boring. That said, it seems as if a LOT of the more critical comments take issue with Lee's focus on the Lower 9th Ward at the expense of Lakeview, Gentilly, and NOLA East, and so on. Hmmm...ok. Like I said, I haven't seen the movie--yet. But that still sounds an awful lot like taking umbrage at being asked to step to the back of the proverbial bus. Lower 9th residents probably have plenty of experience with the general concept, and perhaps they can offer advice on how to deal.

(That said, it seems New Orleans is often unfairly stereotyped as being solely black/African American, which isn't true. People who live there, or folks like myself who visit know it's multi-ethnic and, sort of like ALL major cities these days. It's the give and take between and among ALL city residents that make it, well, World Class).

Anyway, maybe Spike Lee will spread the focus if he continues with the project (he's indicated a desire to do so). Or maybe someone else will do so. Or...maybe a visit to the Rising Tide conference could offer a perspective that isn't totally focused on the Lower 9th, given that I don't think too many bloggers either on the panels or attending live in that part of the city (if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me).

OK, I feel like I might be spinning myself into a hole here, so to try to get out before digging too deeper, I'll just note that there are probably as many perspectives on the flood as there are citizens (or former citizens) of the city--and the more we can listen to and learn from, the better. Our strength is in diversity and in numbers (in contrast, the government's monolithic position of "blame everyone else" is their weakness--THEY FAILED, THEY KNOW IT, and so they try to pass the buck).

Oh--by the way--while this government twiddles its thumbs and otherwise ignores the Gulf (of Mexico) Coast (NOT JUST New Orleans--some people have the highly mistaken impression that affected areas in Mississippi and Alabama are roaring back to life, which isn't true by a long shot)--anyway, while our government twiddles and fiddles HERE AT HOME, they're looking to get in on the rebuilding Lebanon. YRHT and World Class New Orleans have more on that, but good heavens...I half expect Team Shrub to next announce they've decided to purchase, at great discount, a bridge connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Or maybe they'll just try to shoplift it.
Less Denial--or Defiance--of Reality, and More Sheer Incomprehension Thereof


On the same day the New York Times reports both on the dramatic increase in the number of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq (doubled since January) AND the fact that at least some "senior administration officials" are admitting that grand experiment in Iraqi suffrage was just so much, um, Macaca (“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy...”--so much for the purple finger brigade, Congressman Jindal), well, Shrub evidently thinks things are just dandy...or maybe he doesn't...because, quite honestly, he's no longer making ANY sense whatsoever.

On the one hand, he implicitly endorses staying the course, deriding those who he claims--falsely--want to "cut and run," but then he turns around and proffers his own simplistic version of Ken Mehlman's no doubt focus grouped slogan "adapt and win."

Referring to the disruption of the plot in Britain, he said, “And so we’ve got to use new tactics, new efforts, new assets to protect ourselves against an enemy that will strike us at any moment.”

Then he denounced law enforcement as a tactic...despite the fact that the British "plot," if there even WAS one, was stymied precisely BY "law enforcement," which included measures taken to ensure compliance with the English law relating to individual civil liberties.

You know, it's really sad and pathetic, actually. Almost anywhere else, the "debate" would be over whether the pResident is totally wacko, without hope of redemption, or just in need of a lengthy stay at a mental facility. Alas, in the United States, Shrub's ignorance might well be strength.

This ignorance is matched in domestic matters, as Blake Haney noted yesterday.

A while back, I recall seeing a picture at PGR: a bumper sticker featuring dim-bulb-in-chief with the caption, "Fixed Iraq, now I'll Fix New Orleans." Maybe that should be phrased a little differently:

If they can't--or won't--fix New Orleans, how can they POSSIBLY fix Iraq?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Few Genes Short of a Full Chromosome

Well, Shrub...and Senator Allen can at least take some measure of comfort in knowing that science might have figured out WHY they're, well, in a word, stupid:

Scientists believe they have found a key gene that helped the human brain evolve from our chimp-like ancestors. In just a few million years, one area of the human genome seems to have evolved about 70 times faster than the rest of our genetic code. It appears to have a role in a rapid tripling of the size of the brain's crucial cerebral cortex, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Nature.

I dunno...maybe their skepticism re: evolution is based more in personal experience than they've heretofore let on...
Your Nonsense Terror Color Code du Jour:

Today's hue (and cry)--hand cream and matches.

I think Samuel L. Jackson might have something to say about "getting those motherf*$&#*g claustrophobes off this motherf*$&#*g plane.

Oh--and according to some small blogger who calls himself Atrios, the London terror plot is looking more and more like the one earlier this summer in Florida...more "aspirational than operational."

Wake me up when the FAUX news special, "Your Shadow, and Its Possible Connection to Al Qaeda" is over, please.
Morons United

Humid Haney links to readers' reactions re: CNN/Fortune's article about New Orleans.

Four words: Blinkered, philistine, pig ignorance.

Oh, and on the subject of ignorance--Senator Landrieu takes a giant leap backwards on the evolutionary scale and reiterates her support for Joe Loserman.

Dim Bulb

I think it's finally dawned on the dim-bulb-in-chief that the flowers, the candy, and the kisses might not be forthcoming:

President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday...

“I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of Iraq generally — that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to sap our budget,” said one person who attended the meeting. “The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success.”

More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended.

To quote Donald Rumsfeld--my goodness.

They really ARE clueless as a confirmed wife-beater who doesn't understand why his victim doesn't appreciate the "hard work of administering discipline."

And it would be laughable, except that, just as in the case of spousal abuse, there's nothing funny at all about the ongoing, totally senseless tragedy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Red-State Syndrome

Where flooded NOLA cars go...

Sorry for such a late start, but things got busy today for me--without trying to delve into the details TOO much, I'm peripherally involved with something that had my colleagues even busier over the past week or so...when Microsoft Security Updates crash headfirst into SAP server clusters.

...bad things happen, man...bad things...


Catching up with the internets, I noticed this story about insurance companies & Katrina. With a bit of searching, I was able to come across the entire 13 page decision (.pdf)

Well, just because I think asshole insurance adjustors deserve a special circle in hell that's all-their-own doesn't mean I'm automatically going to bring out the skewers, although the link above to the news story is awfully the insurance companies, the poor dears (and yes, that last sentence is slathered in sarcasm). In fact, a close read of the article and opinion show the judge had some degree of sympathy for the plantiffs. He even increased the amount of the settlement--from pathetic to puny (and probably less than a single year's premium)...but what really struck me was the degree of trust the plantiff's their AGENT, who advised AGAINST purchasing flood insurance, but offered NO reason why.


Now, it's true that a quick search of the plantiff address on indicates "moderate to low" risk of flooding...but the flip side of the coin is the location of the property--roughly 500 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the plantiffs had a general comprehension of policy exclusions AND a very good understanding as to the recent history of Gulf hurricanes.

But they chose to go with the advice of a sales person, who's most definitely NOT an expert...

And that got me thinking about first, the South, but then the country, or at least that part defined as "red state America." There seems to be an affinity towards the sales pitch (witness the electoral success of the used-war salesman in chief, at least in 2004). In some of "red state America," the affinity towards the sales pitch seems to be balanced by an equal or even greater HOSTILITY towards, well, intelligence, logic, sound judgement, what have you. Smart people--and smart decisions--lose out in favor of sales people and sales pitches.

I wonder why...(and that's NOT a rhetorical question).

By the way, I'm not trying to cast any particular judgement on these specific people. A thirteen page opinion is not nearly enough to go on...but to make some VERY general observations with this as sort of a hazy background, it certainly gives cause to worry. The same sort of smarmy, slimy sales shits that will take your premiums...then turn around and offer a swift kick when you're down...are not merely running insurance companies: they've thoroughly infected every element of the public sphere. Hell, they've got one of their own "running" the executive branch, at least in a nominal sense.

And a fair bit of the public seems to prefer this--the sales pitch--as opposed to a more sober assessment of reality. Now, maybe Team Shrub's lower-than-whale-shit-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean approval ratings are a hopeful sign, but for whatever reason, I'm in a pessimisitic mood today, and if come November the public once again chooses the sales pitch over reality, well...

Bad things...

Monday, August 14, 2006

...Lifts All Boats

Boyd Blundell asks why so much attention is paid to an overseas conflict while the crisis along OUR Gulf Coast gets "short shrift":

No, really. When I try to advocate for New Orleans as a priority and question why it gets short shrift in media (and blog) coverage, a few people have referred to the recent events in Israel and Lebanon as a reason. They wonder how I can expect people to focus on New Orleans given what’s going on with Israel. But isn’t it equally fair to ask Americans the opposite question: how can you be so focused on Israel with what’s going on in New Orleans?...

So why don't politically aware Americans in general recognize how important it is to understand what happened, hold those who were responsible for the mess accountable, and effectively plan for future disaster? So much more energy is spent talking about potential Israeli policy options. For example, Josh is pretty almost alone (Huff Po with Harry Shearer would be another) amongst A list bloggers in agreeing to host something like this blog and give New Orelans a platform. Yet a whole ton of bloggers were roundly criticized for not blogging sufficiently on the Lebanon crisis. Am I within my rights to chastise these other bloggers for not blogging sufficiently about New Orleans (or even Josh for never linking to us)?

I think I should be, but I'd be interested to hear why not. I don't know how to say this without offending someone, but Israel is a foreign country, while New Orleans is an Amercian city. Americans should care more about the latter, just like I should care more about my son's allergies than I do about an acquaintance's illness, even if it's more serious, and that aquaintance is an important person. We need to care more about those closest to us; they are in our care.

I think part of the problem is that it's fun to play geo-political game master with the Israel situation, while New Orleans isn't nearly as dramatic. Also, the New Orelans flood response was an unmitigated American failure, and it's just a downer to think about that too much. But when Americans ignore the ongoing mistreatment and suffering of other Americans in favor of dramatic foreign policy arguments, I think it's a form of procrastination (recall the Jewish American exception above).

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks, because I think that most people will just want the New Orelans story to go away because it's just depressing. And it is depressing. It was only when I was away that I realized how stressful just being in this city is. So I think I understand the urge, but I think it would be irresponsible to just let everyone give into it.

I don't think Blundell suggests we ignore the Middle East crisis so much as we also note the crisis RIGHT HERE. A rising tide, as they say, lifts ALL boats--but at the same time, perhaps the citizenry here should be concerned about whether our own "ship of state" is leaking and/or listing...

"The Decider" preserves his perfect record of zero for everything:

WASHINGTON - President Bush, just hours after a cease-fire took hold Monday, said Hezbollah guerillas had suffered a sound defeat at the hands of Israel in their monthlong Mideast war.

"There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon," Bush said, referring to plans for the Lebanese government, backed by an international force, to reassert control in the area that has been dominated by Hezbollah fighters.

The president also said the war was part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror, and he blamed Iran and Syria for fomenting the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

"We can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks," the president said.

Just...plain...sick and ugly. What the hell's next? Another aircraft carrier moment, with Tweety and G. Gordon waxing on about Shrub or Olmert's "manly characteristics"? Well, probably not Olmert, who presumably has enough of a brain to realize that his days as Israeli Prime Minister are numbered. Besides, a rational person would see the civilian casualty count, the damaged Lebanese infrastructure, and so on, and at the very least note that war in general has no winners...

But instead the boy-emperor views this as--good god--a chance to rattle his little plastic Iran.

I haven't thought for some 15 or so years I'd relish the thought of getting older...but 2009 can't arrive soon enough.
Using Terror as a Tool

A tool with a tool...

Hoping for Fear

Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. I wrote about the subject the next day, warning that “politicians who wrap themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots.”

The response from readers was furious — fury not at the politicians but at me, for suggesting that such an outrage was even possible. “How can I say that to my young son?” demanded one angry correspondent.

I wonder what he says to his son these days.

We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Fecklessness: the administration has always pinched pennies when it comes to actually defending America against terrorist attacks. Now we learn that terrorism experts have known about the threat of liquid explosives for years, but that the Bush administration did nothing about that threat until now, and tried to divert funds from programs that might have helped protect us. “As the British terror plot was unfolding,” reports The Associated Press, “the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology.”

Cynicism: Republicans have consistently portrayed their opponents as weak on terrorism, if not actually in sympathy with the terrorists. Remember the 2002 TV ad in which Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was pictured with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Now we have Dick Cheney suggesting that voters in the Democratic primary in Connecticut were lending aid and comfort to “Al Qaeda types.” There they go again.

More fecklessness, and maybe more cynicism, too: NBC reports that there was a dispute between the British and the Americans over when to make arrests in the latest plot. Since the alleged plotters weren’t ready to go — they hadn’t purchased airline tickets, and some didn’t even have passports yet — British officials wanted to watch and wait, hoping to gather more evidence. But according to NBC, the Americans insisted on early arrests.

Suspicions that the Bush administration might have had political motives in wanting the arrests made prematurely are fed by memories of events two years ago: the Department of Homeland Security declared a terror alert just after the Democratic National Convention, shifting the spotlight away from John Kerry — and, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, blowing the cover of a mole inside Al Qaeda.

But whether or not there was something fishy about the timing of the latest terror announcement, there’s the question of whether the administration’s scare tactics will work. If current polls are any indication, Republicans are on the verge of losing control of at least one house of Congress. And “on every issue other than terrorism and homeland security,” says Newsweek about its latest poll, “the Dems win.” Can a last-minute effort to make a big splash on terror stave off electoral disaster?

Many political analysts think it will. But even on terrorism, and even after the latest news, polls give Republicans at best a slight advantage. And Democrats are finally doing what they should have done long ago: calling foul on the administration’s attempt to take partisan advantage of the terrorist threat.

It was significant both that President Bush felt obliged to defend himself against that accusation in his Saturday radio address, and that his standard defense — attacking a straw man by declaring that “there should be no disagreement about the dangers we face” — came off sounding so weak.

Above all, many Americans now understand the extent to which Mr. Bush abused the trust the nation placed in him after 9/11. Americans no longer believe that he is someone who will keep them safe, as many did even in 2004; the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in Iraq have seen to that.

All Mr. Bush and his party can do at this point is demonize their opposition. And my guess is that the public won’t go for it, that Americans are fed up with leadership that has nothing to hope for but fear itself.
Liquid Assets

Your "New and Improved" Guide to Abject Fear, Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth

I see the Brits and Americans have both lowered the terror color code today--I guess it's still greater than Hai Karate™ or Brut™, but below Nice 'n Easy™.

I wonder if/when we'll find out that this latest version of "Let's Scare the Shit Out of..." is roughly akin to the Greater Miami Terror Cell, which was quite ready to act...except they lacked, um, pretty much everything, including local bus fare.

But hey, if it improves the bottom line of the airport duty free shops, well...

(I can't wait for a black market to emerge in hair care products at various "destinations" worldwide)...

Off topic, but: it's sort of a busy day here...might be a while before I can post again)...