Friday, March 02, 2007

Postage Stamps of Mass Destruction?

Switzerland invaded Liechtenstein last night...but, maybe because it doesn't have any oil...or maybe because the Swiss actually have a government run by adults...they brought the troops home.

Could be a lesson there for Dick and George...but I doubt it: they're probably still snickering about Ann Coulter's latest screechowl impersonation.

Hmmm...I wonder if Malkin and Bill Donohue will throw another hissy fit?
Socipathy as Public Policy

Poster Boy and Ideological Inspiration for Today's GOP

Sorry for the slow posting. It's been a surprisingly busy Friday over here; however I was able to take a break and read this disturbing piece by Matt Taibbi. Taibbi underscores what is for me a very troubling social condition:

a society whose economy is based on high-tech defense spending will first tend to gravitate inexorably toward high-tech defense solutions to policy problems, and then over time will raise whole generations instilled with an implicit belief in and enthusiasm for such lunacies as the "surgical strike."

This conclusion is reached after revealing and analyzing an equally troubling email he was sent by Chuck Spinney, a former Pentagon bureaucrat who blew the whistle on absurdities like $700 dollar ashtrays and whatnot. The email was allegedly written by a soldier expressing an astonishing level of glee when it comes to killing people.

Well...I don't know if the email is real or not. To be honest, I don't really care, because it's NOT the soldier I want to focus general, I'd expect that some soldiers might well get a kick out of killing people (just like their C.O.'s), some might not.

What's definitely the case, however, is that a number of people, generally wingnuts and their fellow travelers, consistently manifest a degree of astounding sociopathic behavior, and take a (no pun intended) perverse pride in doing so. This starts at the top, by the way: I think most of us have heard about how Shrub treated small animals as a child (or how former Majority Leader Frist treated cats when he wasn't such a child). And it doesn't JUST end up supporting lunatic wars overseas. I don't doubt for a second that the vicious dismissal of New Orleans by the wingnut faction is part and parcel to what Taibbi describes, the flip side of the coin that treats human beings as so many statistics...or worse.

By the way, this sort of behavior is most definitely reinforced by the corporate media, who've relentlessly promoted professional assholes like Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, etc. This then feeds into GOP attack dog politics, which the media then reports on, resulting in a more or less perpetual cycle, the social and political equivalent of a trained-to-fight pit bull.

In a previous era, this would be described accurately as fascism, and one would hope be dismissed as fundamentally anti-American. These days, I'm forced to wonder whether or not anyone even cares that the GOP has adopted these un-American tactics as a central element of their political program...
"OK, Cut! Bring on the Stunt Raghead"

If you're looking for a scapegoat, you can't do any better than "the number three leader of...[insert evildoer's org. name here]"

Hell, why not go all out? Put him in a red shirt, and maybe Dick can play Dr. McCoy. Sheez.

Actually, Cheney HAS tried to spin this pathetic little exercise...well, I guess it's important to throw some red meat to the mouth breathers every once in a while:

One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is to be number three in the al Qaeda organization, because a lot of them are now dead or in custody.

Not that it's made any difference.

No, I guess the whole sorry exercise is just this years version of the old terror swatch/color code. Remember that? Funny how that sort of fizzled out like flat Coke® as soon as the election was safely stolen in the bag, eh?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Show Us That You Care, George

More presidential piffle:

"The federal government still knows you exist."

Well, gee, thanks a fuck of a lot. Considering we still pay our taxes...and still send soldiers off to die in your wars, that's real asshole.

"I fully understand that there are frustrations, and I want to know the frustrations," Bush said while sitting down to lunch with city leaders. "To the extent we can help, we'll help."

Hmmm...another "to the extent" the federal government blah blah blah, tripe/nonsense statement. Hey, dick--and Dick Big Time, if you're bothering to paraphrase Hyman Roth, the money never made it to the island.

That's why you were being rebuked, even if you never mentioned it. Because you continue to lie and bullshit your way around the region, hoping a photo-op can cover up not just a lack of committment, but an utter abandonment.

"To the extent..." To paraphrase another movie line, I didn't know they stacked shit that high.

And to the rest of the country--beware. What's happened to New Orleans can--and might well--happen to you. Don't say you weren't warned.
Dylan Interprets Seuss

Whoever did this really has the style down cold. And what a good way to introduce a kid to either one...

Well, we all know that already, but before these two items get lost among the internets' tubes, they're worth a look:


Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted a quote on military readiness from candidate George W. Bush in 2000:

So let’s get something straight right now. To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.

Hours later, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) reminded Bush again on the House floor...

So when the right talks about “slow bleed,” or tries to cover up their neglect of the military by citing the stellar performance of our soldiers, remember who’s really at fault.

And, look at what John McCain said last night:

"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."

Hmm...barely two weeks ago Barack Obama said the same thing, and the rock-throwers/noise machine got all atwitter.

Where are they now?
Update: "Maverick"-culpa...
Déjà Vu All Over Again

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there's a certain consistency in the Cheney/Shrub administration...consistent incompetence in just about everything except "awarding" money by the steam-shovel load to their political supporters. For instance, reading the latest news about war veterans shafted by Mr. Five-Deferments-in-Chief and his Lieutenant boy TANG-pilot is to be expected. Think about it: New Orleans was and is left to fend for itself, despite criminal negligence; in 2001 they likewise gave California the shaft during a fake energy crisis designed to fill campaign contributor Enron's coffers (and that money went SOMEWHERE, despite Enron's biting the dust...I wonder if they've checked Big Time's various bank accounts), also in 2001 they let out a collective yawn when told about bin Laden's plans to attack the US...the WMD snipe-hunt would be farcical if not so unbelievably tragic, they've botched the invasion of a country that not only wasn't threatening us, but a country that makes the mess in New Orleans actually look managable in contrast...

Why is anyone surprised?

My only question is whether it's a matter of stupidity or mendacity...and neither one's a pretty picture:

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I Guess the Domain Name was Available

First Draft points to Douglas Feith's bitchin' new website.
Not Cool

Last year's El Niño helped keep a lid on what was forecast to be a busy hurricane season (actually, it was the opposite, if I remember right: stronger than normal winds from the west literally sheared off storm-cloud layers).

Unfortunately, the pattern is reversing:

Forecasters warned Tuesday that a La Nina weather pattern — the nasty flip side of El Nino — is brewing, bringing with it the threat of more hurricanes for the Atlantic...

"We're seeing a shift to the La Nina, it's clearly in the data," NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said. La Nina, a cooling of the mid-Pacific equatorial region, has not officially begun because it's a process with several months with specific temperature thresholds, but the trend is obvious based on satellite and ocean measurement data, he said.

"It certainly won't be welcome news for those living off the coast right now," Lautenbacher said. But he said that doesn't mean Atlantic seaboard residents should sell their homes.

Forecasters don't know how strong this La Nina will be. However, it typically means more hurricanes in the Atlantic, fewer in the Pacific, less rain and more heat for the already drought-stricken South, and a milder spring and summer in the north, Lautenbacher said. The central plains of the United States tend be drier in the fall during La Ninas, while the Pacific Northwest tends to be wetter in the late fall and early winter.

Of course, it's impossible to know for sure what will come with a given storm season; however, if you want to look at hurricane season records from the last La Niña event (1998-2001), you can find them here.
Worse Than Flat Beer

If I to choose between Shrub, and what the cat dragged in...well, that's a nice kitty.

Grass roots activists are going to meet 7pm Wednesday at the PHRF Headquarter (1418 N. Claiborne) to orchestrate a “people’s rebuke” when President Bush visits New Orleans on Thursday...

Help build the message from below that Bush needs to hear when he visits New Orleans on Thursday: GO TO HELL!

The executive branch of the United States, for the first time in history, has basically told an American city to fuck off. It's only right to return the favor.
Earth Tones

If this was Gore's home, the wingnuts would mock him for it, too.

The wingnut noise machine is once again reaching levels normally associated with 17 year cicadas emerging from their underground burrows...I'm sure everyone stopping by here knows the reason: as Will Bunch says, "Breaking News: Al Gore Uses Electricity..."

More here, here, and at Crooks and Liars, who point out that Big Time ran up a six figure electric bill at his official residence back in 2001...that was paid for with our tax dollars.

This sort of stuff is typical, much like their screetching about those of us on the left who--gasp--actually hold investments (for the record, mine are real estate--my house--and a couple of whole life insurance policies my late father set up for me. In other words, not exactly a Wall Street playa).

Of course, IF someone like Gore actually took to--hmm, how to put it?--a lifestyle a little more earthy, these same insects would still be ear-splitting noisy, accusing him of being a "dirty hippie."

Well, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
Turn Back the Clock

Incompetence, dingbattery, stupidity...and plain old-fashioned fucktardness, thy name is GOP:

Al Qaeda: Partying Like It's 2001
If you checked out yesterday's Worldwide Threat briefing, you could be forgiven for checking your calendar to see if it was still September 10, 2001. Discussing al-Qaeda, John McConnell, the new director of national intelligence, described a metastasizing threat coming from... the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

And you can read about our smashing "success" in this Salon article (the ad view is still working for me).

Somebody should put every one of the Team Bush assclowns under oath, then go line by line with them through the various military budgets and supplementals, each time asking "how specifically does this assist the war effort?"

What a bunch of fucking thugs.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Little Food Poisoning With Your Fresh Seafood?

The GOP policy of global warming denial has unanticipated consequences, like the potential for bacterium to infect food supplies that traditionally have been in areas too cold to host them...of course, the same mouth breathers that deny global warming also deny evolution, and most biological sciences.

Well, maybe while they're busy mumbling their prayers, they'll get bitten by a disease carrying insect. If we're lucky.
Thank You, I'll Be Here All Week. Try the Nuance.

I wouldn't trust this assclown with a Rubik's Cube, much less the fate of the world...

On a more serious note, this underscores the problem we're facing in the Middle East and Central Asia:

Cheney and the rest of the crew at the White House can't even seem to get clear on what side they're on or even what war it is they're fighting.

That takes strategic incoherence into truly uncharted territory.

Indeed. Without so much as a basic understanding of the region, the peoples, the issues, Team Bush has mulishly (ironic, given that it's the Democratic symbol) insisted upon war with...well, nobody really knows. In fact, I doubt most Americans, including the ever crankily erratic Big Time and his juvenile "boss" Shrub, could name even a half dozen living, breathing terrorists. I likewise doubt they could name more than two very broad, very generic "organizations," if that many...and one (the "Taliban") most likely because the term's lately been in the news. Perhaps those with only a mild case of ADD could recall.

Well, that's probably nothing new: during the Cold War, I'm guessing most Americans could, at best, name the extant Soviet Premier...and that's about it. However, I'll assume most Americans must have thought their taxes went, in part, to a veritable army of people charged with the task of knowing as much as they could about the Soviets/the "enemy." Because without such an understanding, you might as well be at the level of medieval barbers discussing the "causes" and "cures" for various diseases.

Hmmm...sad to say, but it's looking more and more like the medieval barbers have taken over, just at a time when it would do us well to have a fully modern and knowledgable executive branch. About all they know how to do is bleat about "the evil ones" and recommend more blood-letting, while a gaggle of cheerleaders/rock throwers readily awaits the opportunity to chastise anyone suggesting a course that doesn't mimic the Dark Ages...not that the cheerleaders/rock throwers would ever, you know, put even their reputations, much less their lives, on the line for their Holy Roman Emperor.
Side Effects Include Ditziness

No shit, Ms. First Lady: a bomb a day IS pretty fucking discouraging, if you're human...which really makes me wonder about Big Time. Pacemaker? Bullshit: whatever Dick is, it doesn't have a pulse.

I mean, it's just goddamned amazing, in a sick, twisted way: Team Bush, five years after the fact, STILL can't resist barking "9/11" at every opportunity, expecting, and often getting, the Pavlovian response of fear, loathing, and fury. But Iraqis are supposed to just forget about the daily violence that's been our special gift to them.

Sort of like how New Orleans is supposed to forget about the flood. Because the administation can't exploit it.

Hell, maybe they should just give us all a massive dose of whatever Laura Bush is on. Because that's some whack shit.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"The Grand Canyon Effect"

Bill Quigley describes the difference between seeing the devastation of New Orleans in pictures versus seeing it in person:

Visitors to New Orleans can still stay in fine hotels and dine at great restaurants. But less than a five minute drive away lie miles of devastated neighborhoods that shock visitors. Locals call it "the Grand Canyon effect" - you know about it, you have seen it on TV, but when you see it in person it can take your breath away.
The New Gilded Age

Look, don't touch.

Matt Taibbi (h/t Library Chronicles) gets it (note especially the second paragraph):

Even if you're a traditional, Barry Goldwater conservative, the kinds of budgets that Bush has sent to the hill not only this year but this whole century are the worst-case scenario; they increase spending generally while cutting taxes and social programming. They commit taxpayers to giant subsidies of already Croseus-rich energy corporations, pharmaceutical companies and defense manufacturers while simultaneously cutting taxes on those who most directly benefit from those subsidies. Thus you're not cutting spending -- you're just cutting spending on people who actually need the money. (According to the Washington Times, which in a supremely ironic twist of fate did one of the better analyses of the budget, spending will be 1.6 percent of GDP higher in the 2008 budget than in was in 2000, while revenues will be 2.6 percent of GDP lower). This is something different from traditional conservatism and something different from big-government liberalism; this is a new kind of politics that transforms the state into a huge, ever-expanding instrument for converting private savings into corporate profit.

That's not only bad government, it's bad capitalism. It makes legalized bribery and political connections more important factors than performance and competition in the corporate marketplace. Beyond that, it's just plain fucking offensive to ordinary people. It's one thing to complain about paying taxes when those taxes are buying a bag of groceries once a month for some struggling single mom in eastern Kentucky. But when your taxes are buying a yacht for some asshole who hires African eight year-olds to pick cocoa beans for two cents an hour ... I sure don't remember reading an excuse for that anywhere in the Federalist Papers.
(italics mine)

I just wish some politician would get up and say something like this, and put the wingnuts on the defensive--and there's a lot of crap they endorse, expliclity or implicitly, that's totally indefensible. They get away with their bullshit only because no one ever calls them on it.

(sort of like how they get away with blaming New Orleans, while turning a blind eye to the mess they've made in Mesopotamia).
Caveat Homeowner

Demonstrating the same mix of ignorance and arrogance that defines Team Bush's style of governance, Allstate can't even be bothered with trifles like inspecting property to determine whether or not it's been abandoned before they decide to pull the plug on homeowner policies.

I deliberately draw the parallel between the two--Allstate, and, for that matter, most other insurance companies--and yer modern GOP...Team Bush might be the burning torch that lights the path, but greed, mendacity, and for that matter plenty of good old fashioned stupid reside throughout the cabal (e.g., Tex Sensenbrenner's bankruptcy bill).

To them, Screw You Lane is a One-Way Street:

And that's one thing that I find so frustrating, and even baffling, when it comes to the viciousness with which some (thankfully, not all) Americans have evinced towards New Orleans. Aside from the maddening irony of penury (h/t Ashley Morris) towards their fellow citizens while they acquiesce in the burning of bonfires of money overseas (with ZERO chance of success), it seems as if these so-called Americans (a number of whom are also so-called Christians) are perfectly comfortable with a system awards what amounts to a certainly a breach of trust, if not an actual breach of contract.

For the record, I've got personal experience with this sort of fuck-you attitude from insurers...not my homeowners policy (yet), but from a health care plan I had back at another job. Short version: they denied a claim. I jumped through about a billion hoops without success in getting them to reverse this, so I gave up...whereupon they retroactively denied EVERY claim I'd ever made...

This was long after I'd changed employers, health plans, etc. Following up on this was like having to work a second job. About the only upside to it all was that the dollar amount, while not insubstantial, also didn't break me financially...unlike, say, a situation involving what for most people is THE major investment of their life.

But insurance companies do this--and get away with it--in no small part because they assume, often with justification, that they will have the benefit of the doubt: the government is essentially in their pocket...and these days, there's a whole horde of rock-throwers who can hardly wait until Sunday church services are over before cranking up the noise machine. But you can bet they'll be hollering even louder when their time comes...and it WILL come.

Meanwhile--oh, even Red Stick isn't immune from Allstate's decision to release Barabbas and wish us all a nice Passover:

In January, Allstate Insurance Co., as sponsor of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, stood on the field of the Superdome and told America about its desire to help rebuild Louisiana.

Policyholders, watch your mail — your notice of nonrenewal may be coming. Mine did!

As a longtime policyholder, I was surprised when I recently inquired about a new policy and was told by my agent (a close personal friend who is placed in a very awkward position) that he could not write any new policies in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Then, as I opened my mail a couple of weeks later, I received a “Notice of Non-Renewal” on an existing policy which I have had for several years (without a claim).

Well, I, for one, believe that insurers should do business in all of the state, or none of it. They are supposedly in the business of spreading risk. Instead, seems like they want to pick the places where there is little risk, and stay out of the places where there is exposure (I didn’t know Baton Rouge WAS that risky).

Sounds like a recipe for pure profit — good work if you can get it!

“Good Hands”? I seem to have gotten only one finger.
Slow Start Today

Had kind of a busy weekend (at least the weather was/is nice), and I'm just making my way around the blog-block, as it were.

In the meatime, I'll note that I hardly ever watch the Academy Awards, but decided to last night for some reason. Good to see both Al Gore and Melissa Etheridge make solid appeals to what they described as not a partisan issue, but a moral and human issue.

I also heard the announcer say that the film crew for An Inconvenient Truth was scheduled to shoot in New Orleans on...August 29, 2005. Hmmm...

And maybe it's just me, but when my first thought upon seeing a bald Jack Nicholson last night was, "what the hell is James Carville doing backstage at the Academy Awards"?

Back in a bit.