Friday, April 06, 2007

Facts, Schmacts

Dick Cheney...a man who has no relationship with his wife...or reality:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

You know, I think every last damn one of 'em: Shrub, Dick, Laura, Lynne, the kids, grandkids...every last miserable one of 'em...should be forced to spent the remainder of their days either providing assisted living services to people wounded by their arrogance...or apologizing to the family members of those who've been killed by the same.
Queen for a Day...But Just Plain Creepy Forever

The original idea for the swearing-in ceremony.

Jeez, Rachel Paulous makes Condolleezza Rice look like a populist. And Atrios is right: watch the video. "Smug" is an understatement. "Smug on an epic level" is an understatement.

What is it with wingnuts?
He's No Clint Eastwood

For added effect, load this into a separate tab or browser. It captures the tinny essence of it all.

Joe Klein follows Matthew Dowd's lead and hie-tails it off the plantation:

The three big Bush stories of 2007--the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for tawdry political reasons--precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the U.S. Attorneys).

Gee, Joe. Maybe you should have listened to those of us who've been trying since Campaign Season 2000 to impress upon people the, ahem, 'qualities' that make Smirk-Chimp UNIQUELY unsuited for the position of president...instead of playing enabler, along with plenty of your colleagues.

Thanks for finally getting a clue...six years too late.
Plus ça Change...

Missed this when it came out a couple of days ago, but here's an interview with Philip Zimbardo. Who?

The person who devised the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Q. What was your reaction when you first saw those photographs from Abu Ghraib?

A. I was shocked. But not surprised. I immediately flashed on similar pictures from the S.P.E. What particularly bothered me was that the Pentagon blamed the whole thing on a “few bad apples.” I knew from our experiment, if you put good apples into a bad situation, you’ll get bad apples.

That was why I was willing to be an expert witness for Sgt. Chip Frederick, who was ultimately sentenced to eight years for his role at Abu Ghraib. Frederick was the Army reservist who was put in charge of the night shift at Tier 1A, where detainees were abused. Frederick said, up front, “What I did was wrong, and I don’t understand why I did it.”

Q. Do you understand?

A. Yeah. The situation totally corrupted him. When his reserve unit was first assigned to guard Abu Ghraib, Frederick was exactly like one of our nice young men in the S.P.E. Three months later, he was exactly like one of our worst guards.

Note: light posting today--maybe something a little later, but I'm going to knock out a few pressing chores.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Of Orrin Bondage

If Senator Hatch can dish out garbage about Carol Lam, then maybe he should be ready to take a little bit in return.

Besides, it's not as if this is the first time anyone's suggested Orrin might be into a little BDSM on the side.
Speaking of Playing Video Games

Actually, the real picture isn't any more flattering

Froomkin via AmericaBlog:

With your pool assembled before him, POTUS grabbed the joy stick on a remote control and started sending a rover with a grab claw into the photographers, telling Jason Reed of Reuters - who was right in its path - 'You're not debris, you're still a human being.' . . . POTUS then turned his attention to your humble pool reporter, 'Rutenberg, come here,' then saying, 'Put your hand there by the claw.' LOL."

Rutenberg left out what happened next, but local reporter Tatiana Prophet of the Victorville (Calif.) Daily Press was fascinated by the conduct of the White House press corps, and wrote a story about them: "While this administration has been characterized by a ban on reporters' questions outside of a formal news conference, the media nevertheless have a familiarity with the commander-in-chief. . . .

"'Rutenberg, come over here,' Bush said to New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg. 'Put your hand up right by the claw.'

"The 'claw' was a robot arm of the Talon 3, a diminutive robot designed to disarm improvised explosive devices, which have become the biggest threat to troops involved in the Iraq War. . . .

"Rutenberg, kneeling in the desert dust, was a good sport as the president sent the robot toward him, to laughter from the soldiers and the media as well."

Nothing like a little physical abasement to keep the president in good spirits.

And here's what happened in Iraq while the president twiddled his joy stick.
And Then He Built a Fort in the Backyard

I swear, there's a literal pathology to wingnuts that I don't understand, won't ever understand, and don't want to understand. It's almost as if they're perpetually on the cusp between juvenile and adolescent, alternately playing video games, reading comic books, nose-picking, mastubating furiously to whatever porn they've manage to scrounge up...and occasionally making snide remarks about their perceived inferiors:

Don't you just love these meatheads having the gall to criticize the behavior of the military in circumstances that would make them foul their trousers in the first five seconds? I had expected the criticism's of Blair,and wrote about it earlier, but he's a politician and that's part of the game. To actually blame the sailors for surviving is unbelievable to me.

The rightwing is filled with these flatulent armchair warriors, ready to condemn everyone from intrepid reporters to the professional military for cowardice when they are captured by the enemy and fail to behave in what they consider a properly Rambo-esque manner. They seem to think these people should die rather than be taken alive or some other such puerile nonsense...

These are empty, cruel little boys and girls with serious deficiencies in their characters. They are lost souls, walking this earth without ever learning the meaning of decency, empathy or morality. I suppose this is understandable on some level. The only "lives" they truly value exist only in a womb or a petrie dish. And apparently that's because these wingnuts relate to them --- they are just about as fully human as frozen blastocysts themselves.
Things Fall Apart

Our Crumbling Foundation
Fifty-nine years ago this week — on April 3, 1948 — President Truman signed the legislation establishing the Marshall Plan, which contributed so much to the rebuilding of postwar Europe. Now, more than half a century later, the U.S. can’t even rebuild New Orleans.

It doesn’t seem able to build much of anything, really. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. infrastructure is in sad shape, and it would take more than a trillion and a half dollars over a five-year period to bring it back to a reasonably adequate condition.

If there’s a less sexy story floating around, I can’t find it. It certainly can’t compete with the Sanjaya Malakar saga, or with the claim by Keith Richards that he snorted his dad’s ashes with “a little bit of blow.”

But, as we learned with New Orleans, there are consequences to neglecting the infrastructure. Just a little over a year ago, a dam in Hawaii gave way, unleashing a wave 70 feet high and 200 yards wide. It swept away virtually everything in its path, including cars, houses and trees. Seven people drowned.

On the day after Christmas in Portland, Ore., a sinkhole opened up like something from a science fiction movie and swallowed a 25-ton sewer- repair truck. Authorities blamed the sinkhole on the collapse of aging underground pipes.

Blackouts, school buildings in advanced states of disrepair, decrepit highway and railroad bridges — the American infrastructure is growing increasingly old and obsolete. In addition to being an invitation to tragedy, this is a problem that is putting Americans at a disadvantage in the ever more competitive global economy.

Felix Rohatyn, the investment banker who helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s, has been prominent among those trying to sound the infrastructure alarm. Along with former Senator Warren Rudman, he has been criticizing the government’s unwillingness to invest adequately in public transportation systems, water projects, dams, schools, the electrical grid, and so on.

He recently told a House committee that Congress should begin a major effort to rebuild the American infrastructure “before it is too late.”

“Since the beginning of the republic,” he said, “transportation, infrastructure and education have played a central role in advancing the American economy, whether it was the canals in upstate New York, or the railroads that linked our heartland to our industrial centers; whether it was the opening of education to average Americans by land grant colleges and the G.I. bill, making education basic to American life; or whether it was the interstate highway system that ultimately connected all regions of the nation.

“This did not happen by chance, but was the result of major investments financed by the federal and state governments over the last century and a half. ... We need to make similar investments now.”

Politics and ideology are the main reasons that government has turned away from public investment over the past several years. Zealots marching under the banner of small government have been remarkably effective in thwarting efforts to raise taxes or borrow substantial sums for the kind of public investment that has always been essential to a dynamic economy.

That this is counterproductive in a post-20th-century world should be as obvious as the sun rising in the morning. There is a reason why countries like China and India are racing like mad to develop their infrastructure and educational capacity.

“A modern economy needs a modern platform, and that’s the infrastructure,” Mr. Rohatyn said in an interview. “It has been shown that the productivity of an economy is related to the quality of its infrastructure. For example, if you don’t have enough schools to teach your kids, or your kids are taught in schools that have holes in the ceilings, that are dilapidated, they’re not going to be as educated and as competitive in a world economy as they need to be.”

Mr. Rohatyn and Mr. Rudman are co-chairmen of the Commission on Public Infrastructure at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They believe that failing to move quickly to address the nation’s infrastructure needs — through the establishment of a national trust fund, for example, or a federal capital budget — could lead to long-term disaster.

But words like trust fund and long-term and infrastructure find it very difficult to elbow their way into the nation’s consciousness. We may have to wait for another New Orleans before beginning to take this seriously.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Knee Deep and Sinking Fast

Reading the latest nonsense spewing forth from the nominal leader of this nation made me realize just how deep of a hole we're in: this guy couldn't successfully extricate himself from a super-sized pile of elephant dung, much less Operation Continue the Tragedy Because Shrub's Ego MUST Be Salved. Geez.

Read the whole pathetic speech here.
One for the Road

A day after chiding Congress for being on "Spring Break," the Vacationer-in-Chief is off to Crawford--that is to say, Spring Break in Hell--for a couple days. Guess he needs regular refreshers in what to expect for eternity...shit, he's so goddamned dense he'd probably love Hell-as-Crawford. Eternal Damnation for Shrubusto would probably be something like perpetuity as the lowest ranking busboy/dishwasher at a four-star Parisian restaurant: "Garcon!"

Anyway, before taking off for his Spastic-Texastic holiday, he offered yet another demonstration of his willingness to work with Congress. A recess appointment:

President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress where Democrats had derailed Fox's nomination.

What a little pissy-pants.
"Water Dissolving, and Water Removing"

If it's not one thing, it's another:

According to some long-term projections, the mountain snows that feed the Colorado River will melt faster and evaporate in greater amounts with rising global temperatures, providing stress to the waterway even without drought. This year, the spring runoff is expected to be about half its long-term average. In only one year of the last seven, 2005, has the runoff been above average.

Everywhere in the West, along the Colorado and other rivers, as officials search for water to fill current and future needs, tempers are flaring among competing water users, old rivalries are hardening and some states are waging legal fights.

In one of the most acrimonious disputes, Montana filed a suit in February at the United States Supreme Court accusing Wyoming of taking more than its fair share of water from the Tongue and Powder Rivers, north-flowing tributaries of the Yellowstone River that supply water for farms and wells in both states.

Preparing for worst-case outcomes, the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico in the upper basin and California, Arizona and Nevada in the lower basin — and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the river, are considering plans that lay out what to do if the river cannot meet the demand for water, a prospect that some experts predict will occur in about five years.

“What you are hearing about global warming, explosive growth — combine with a real push to set aside extra water for environmental purpose — means you got a perfect situation for a major tug-of-war contest,” said Sid Wilson, the general manager of the Central Arizona Project, which brings Colorado River water to the Phoenix area.

New scientific evidence suggests that periodic long, severe droughts have become the norm in the Colorado River basin, undermining calculations of how much water the river can be expected to provide and intensifying pressures to find new solutions or sources.

The effects of the drought can be seen at Lake Mead in Nevada, where a drop in the water level left docks hanging from newly formed cliffs, and a marina surrounded by dry land. Upriver at Lake Powell, which is at its lowest level since spring 1973, receding waters have exposed miles of mud in the side canyons leading to the Glen Canyon Dam.

I wonder if the small but vocal minority of people--and professional lardheads--(h/t Drambala) advocating the throwing away of New Orleans are likewise ready to chuck the West. Or will attitudes suddenly change when their own ox is getting gored?

The western drought underscores an important point about the need to be, ironically enough, conservative, when considering the long-term effects of global warming. Morons like Jim Inhofe are actually the radicals, perfectly happy to make us all test subjects in an experiment that isn't going on in a lab, but in the actual environment. New Orleans was a clarion call...but the ramifications will be felt all over, and in all sorts of ways.

Oh, and of course the title of this post is a line from Once in a Lifetime by the Talking Heads. What a great excuse to embed a You Tube video

And how about some Shakespeare, too, while we're at it?

Full fathom five thy Father lies,
Of his bones are Corrall made:
Those are pearles that were his eies,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a Sea-change
Into something rich & strange
Sea-Nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Harke now I heare them, ding-dong, bell.
When Pipsqueak Pashas Attack

Actually, what I find truly sad and pathetic about "Mahmoud's Magnanimous Gesture"© is that, as petty, putrid, and despicable as it was to detain the British sailors in the first place...and as cynical a show-trial-followed-by-mercy-and-deliverance today's rhetoric is--"On the occasion of the birthday of the great prophet (Muhammad) ... and for the occasion of the passing of Christ, I say the Islamic Republic government and the Iranian people--with all powers and legal right to put the soldiers on trial--forgave those 15," he said, referring to the Muslim prophet's birthday on March 30 and the Easter holiday.

"This pardon is a gift to the British people," he said.

I'll bet Scooter Libby wishes he were a British sailor in Iran right now...anyway, I've digressed again--my point is that despite the epic levels of petty cynicism, Ahmadinejad's managed to pull off something from this stunt Team Bush shows no capacity for--he managed to weasel his way into an approximate gesture of mercy...right down to his request that Britain "not punish" the crew.

Contrast Ahmadinejad's statements with our government's responses to Maher Arar. Or Khalid El-Masri...and others.

And...sigh...but, just to insure against nattering wingnuttia--here are a couple of today's latest examples--this post in no way implies an endorsement of the Iranian president. You'd think the picture would suffice, but wingnuts require explaination...often very slowly, and repeatedly.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Bush Calls Democrats "Irresponsible" on Iraq"

You know, people who say "now watch this drive" might want to think twice before accusing others of being irresponsible.
Target Spotting

Maybe the graphic image above will answer the question, "But why would anyone want to live in a hurricane zone?" can certainly ask a LOT of people. I'd say, based on the data, the MAJORITY of people. Judge for yourself.

The entire region in the bull's eyes will have to brace themselves--soon. It might be a bumpy ride.

The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season should be "very active," with nine hurricanes and a good chance that at least one major hurricane will hit the U.S. coast, a top researcher said Tuesday.

Forecaster William Gray said he expects 17 named storms in all this year, five of them major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coast this year: 74 percent, compared with the average of 52 percent over the past century, he said.

Now, will the wingnuts blame the victims if, say, it's Palm Beach that gets leveled? What if it's New York City? Actually, I'd bet they WOULD blame the victims if it was Washington, DC...DC has some significant similarities to NOLA.

In addition to blaming the victims, will they insist on not waiving the matching funds provision of the Stafford Act? Is that what's really meant by "compassionate conservativism"?, i.e., a big, fat, F.U.?

Lord knows I actually don't wish a disaster, particularly one as massive as the flood of New Orleans and Hurricanes of 2005 to befall anyone. But reality is reality.

And we can either live united, as a nation, willing to help if, god-forbid, the worst occurs...or we can isolate ever further into our little bubbles, hoping our number doesn't come up, and that the end result doesn't affect our cable tv and gasoline prices too much...oh, while blaming the majority of the country that lives along the coast.

Our choice.
But Seriously, Folks

OK, I'll admit that when I began reading Matt's latest post, my first thought was of the old Steve Martin special joke for "plumbing convention attendees."

But Matt, who prefaces with fair warning that most of the text is aimed at engineers, comes to a conclusion any lay person can understand: pipes installed in/with the new pumps in New Orleans are too thin for even normal operating pressures expected. And burst pipes=pump failure.

This is NOT a natural disaster in the making: it's a manufactured disaster...just like the one in August and September of 2005.
Either Way, This is Bad

A lot of the big blogs have already commented on this WaPo story that goes into more detail on the Niger yellowcake nonsense. My own .000002 cents worth?

They either deliberately lied, or were duped...or maybe Shrub himself lied when he claimed, "fool me...won't get fooled again."

Because, like with other elements of the house-of-cards policy that crafted Operation Iraqi Nightmare Without End, the whole Niger connection had, to paraphrase one Major T.J. "King" Kong, "more holes in [it] than a horse trader's mule," as did most of the other cards that have now toppled over...if only the mess were as simple to pick up.

I suppose opinion in Wingnuttiastan ranged from the naive to the cynical, depending on the relative level of what constitutes something approaching intelligence for them...but, as others and myself have said previously, the sincerety of a particular belief really didn't matter to them, because, well, the end was OF COURSE going to justify the means, and interim-President Chalabi was going to rule over a grateful nation of little Arab consumers...perhaps some would occasionally need, ahem, forceful lessons in "civilized behavior," (the old "white man's burden") but mostly it was to be a happy place...missionaries taping pay-per-view "specials" from Ur...the very first Wal-Mart Souk...and, of course, endless lectures on wingnut superiority from so-called smart guys like Dick Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

Oh, and how could I forget? A change in name from Firdos Square to George W. Bush Plaza...with a hideously ugly statue of Shrub to boot. Poppy never had anything like that.

Ah, the world was their oyster...back in 2002. Now that shit has met fan, the mad scramble of trying to hold together the pieces until 2009 would be comical if not so tragic. Of course, with the media pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of yer GOP, that becomes a slightly easier task...except for the fact that the public is no longer buying it.

Because stupidity, lies and bullshit aren't a particularly successful set of policy tools, especially in the long run. Even the most casual of observers can see through that.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Final Cat Update--Rest in Peace, Buddy

Hope for the best, expect the's probably good I kept thinking that. Because someone found the body today. They were nice enough to call, and very sympathetic. In fact, they lost a dog (hit by a car) the same night my cat went missing.

OK, so call me a wimp, but I'll be perfectly honest: I've shed a tear or two--or more--for the past couple of hours...even as I think that hey, at least I've got closure. In fact, what's really been maddening over the last couple of days is...not knowing what happened.

Anyway--he was just around the corner, in a small courtyard that's enclosed by a three-foot picket fence. I'd actually looked around there--or so I thought--but must not have been thorough enough. Or maybe he got there later. Regardless, he sure picked a pretty place to lie down for the final time. In fact, the courtyard is just a house down from this landmark, and the owners of the house/courtyard graciously offered to let me bury him there. Which is somewhat fitting: maybe I'm anthropomorphizing too much, but it always seemed to me that he took exceptional delight in the local flora.

Well, Rest in Peace, Little Man. I sure do miss you...

Back tomorrow.
April Foogle

OK, I was in a cynical mood last week...I guess it's not a Googlespiracy after all.

h/t Jeffrey.

Oh--and if anyone's interested, a cat update: took another look for him today at yesterday's possible location. No luck. Sorry that's taking up so much of my time, but hey, if I didn't care, I wouldn't have adopted him. Anyway, thanks for being patient with me. I'm gonna keep looking for another week or so, but again, I'm not holding out much hope. We'll see.
The Ultimate Going Out of Business Sale

John McCain's certainly earned his ridicule, re: the trip to Baghdad...but I think Lindsay Graham's delight over the incredibly low prices--"five rugs for five bucks"--actually takes the crass cake.

Yeah, Senator: five rugs for five bucks...and over 3,000 US soldiers' lives. Plus the soldiers who've been wounded. Plus the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who've been killed.

Plus the hundreds of billions of dollars...and the loss of our international reputation.

Some bargain.