Friday, August 31, 2007

Making Progress

I guess this road crew, while not perfect, "met a number of benchmarks."
In Bushworld, the Flip Side of "Fuzzy Math" is "Just Plain Stupid"

The Glenn Becks of this world cluck ever more ignorantly about New Orleans--oh, for those wishing a refresher, M.D. Filter reprises a post summarizing his research into the dollar amounts, which include flood insurance adjustments--anyway, the wingnut green eye-shade set clucks away, but averts their eyes--if not buries their collective heads in the sand--when it comes to the Great Mesopotamian money burn off. I linked to the latest investigation of this epic cash waste by Matt Taibbi last week, and today Cursor notes a video summary narrated by the writer.

Now, to be sure, Beck and his ilk posess the kind of taste that approves of construction literally full of shit: that's THEIR style. I'd like to think the American people, on the other hand, expect something a little less, um, shitty in exchange for their hard earned tax dollars.

Oh--and a Tiny Revolution interviews Taibbi, for those looking for some background.
Days of Whine and Cheetos

Starring Glenn Beck

h/t Suspect Device

I keep reminding myself that the Glenn Beck constituency is shrinking faster than David Vitter's Little Davey after Larry Flynt's phone call; still, it's infuriating that he continues to get time, if only on cable, to wax ignorantly.

Indeed, the only real whiners in this entire post-not-so-natural-disaster period are the Glenn Becks of this world, who uncorked their epic levels of stupid crap swill even while the floodwaters rose, and haven't ceased since.

And their enablers--the CNN's, the Fox Noise's, and so on--are equally culpable. Giving Beck broadcast space is like handing greasy rags and a lighter to a serial arsonist. Or schoolbus keys to a stinking, falling down drunk.

Beck's the literal embodiment of what I mean when referring yesterday to a media "dead zone," so rhetorically intoxicated, so verbally polluted that life itself is instinctively repulsed, and flees using whatever means available.
NOLA Nation

So says Paul Krugman. About the only thing I'd add is that Shrub once again proves that his "base" is the fat cats who've profited obscenely from his obscene wars, and his economically obscene subsidies. Heckuva job.

August 31, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Katrina All the Time
Two years ago today, Americans watched in horror as a great city drowned, and wondered what had happened to their country. Where was FEMA? Where was the National Guard? Why wasn’t the government of the world’s richest, most powerful nation coming to the aid of its own citizens?

What we mostly saw on TV was the nightmarish scene at the Superdome, but things were even worse at the New Orleans convention center, where thousands were stranded without food or water. The levees were breached Monday morning -- but as late as Thursday evening, The Washington Post reported, the convention center "still had no visible government presence," while "corpses lay out in the open among wailing babies and other refugees."

Meanwhile, federal officials were oblivious. "We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy," declared Michael Chertoff, the secretary for Homeland Security, on Wednesday. When asked the next day about the situation at the convention center, he dismissed the reports as "a rumor" or "someone’s anecdotal version."

Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federal money set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actually been spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive the requirement that local governments put up matching funds for recovery projects -- an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases have literally been washed away.

On the other hand, generous investment tax breaks, supposedly designed to spur recovery in the disaster area, have been used to build luxury condominiums near the University of Alabama’s football stadium in Tuscaloosa, 200 miles inland.

But why should we be surprised by any of this? The Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina -- the mixture of neglect of those in need, obliviousness to their plight, and self-congratulation in the face of abject failure -- has become standard operating procedure. These days, it’s Katrina all the time.

Consider the White House reaction to new Census data on income, poverty and health insurance. By any normal standard, this week’s report was a devastating indictment of the administration’s policies. After all, last year the administration insisted that the economy was booming -- and whined that it wasn’t getting enough credit. What the data show, however, is that 2006, while a good year for the wealthy, brought only a slight decline in the poverty rate and a modest rise in median income, with most Americans still considerably worse off than they were before President Bush took office.

Most disturbing of all, the number of Americans without health insurance jumped. At this point, there are 47 million uninsured people in this country, 8.5 million more than there were in 2000. Mr. Bush may think that being uninsured is no big deal -- "you just go to an emergency room" -- but the reality is that if you’re uninsured every illness is a catastrophe, your own private Katrina.

Yet the White House press release on the report declared that President Bush was "pleased" with the new numbers. Heckuva job, economy!

Mr. Bush’s only concession that something might be amiss was to say that "challenges remain in reducing the number of uninsured Americans" -- a statement reminiscent of Emperor Hirohito’s famous admission, in his surrender broadcast, that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage." And Mr. Bush’s solution -- more tax cuts, of course -- has about as much relevance to the real needs of the uninsured as subsidies for luxury condos in Tuscaloosa have to the needs of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward.

The question is whether any of this will change when Mr. Bush leaves office.

There’s a powerful political faction in this country that’s determined to draw exactly the wrong lesson from the Katrina debacle -- namely, that the government always fails when it attempts to help people in need, so it shouldn’t even try. "I don’t want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system," says Mitt Romney, as if the Bush administration’s practice of appointing incompetent cronies to key positions and refusing to hold them accountable no matter how badly they perform -- did I mention that Mr. Chertoff still has his job? -- were the way government always works.

And I’m not sure that faction is losing the argument. The thing about conservative governance is that it can succeed by failing: when conservative politicians mess up, they foster a cynicism about government that may actually help their cause.

Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point. The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Saving David's "Little Davey"

Blogenfreude shows how you can help, with a bonus clip explaining men's room etiquette, Senior Senator from Idaho style.
Coke Can of Mass Destruction

I guess I forgot about this story this morning...and it looks like everyone else has too, in light of the release of the Larry Craig interrogation...but earlier today CNN's main page featured the breathless red banner announcing the ultimate wingnut fantasy...the equivalent of Larry Craig stumbling upon the largest public restroom in the country, with nary a cop for miles...yes, it was, at last, and better than any Christmas they dare did dream...the...weapons...of...mass...destruction. After all, CNN said so, in big white letters surrounded by banner red, the universal signal of doom, dread...the kind of thing that has a permanently basement bound 'nut, at long last, twitching, tingling, and wiping Cheeto dusted fingers on unwashed pant legs.

Too bad it all turned out to be so much pixil dust:

U.N. weapons inspectors discovered a potentially hazardous chemical warfare agent that was taken from an Iraqi chemical weapons facility 11 years ago and mistakenly stored in their offices in the heart of midtown Manhattan all that time, officials said Thursday.

The material, identified in inventory files as phosgene — a chemical substance used in World War I weapons — was discovered Aug. 24. It was only identified on Wednesday because it was marked simply with an inventory number, and officials had to check the many records in their vast archives, said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the U.N. inspection agency...

Buchanan said the phosgene was in liquid form, suspended in oil, in a soda-can-sized container that was sealed in a plastic bag.

Records indicated the material was from a 1996 excavation of the bombed-out research and development building at Iraq's main chemical weapons facility at Muthana, near Samarra. The entire facility was extensively bombed during the 1991 Gulf War, Buchanan said.

So, when all is said and done, with at least tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of thousands more shattered, millions displaced, the casus belli ultima is...a Coke Can's worth of phosgene, already in custody.

Nonetheless, this is instructive, at least in terms of the supposed "librul" CNN: for a good bit of this morning, they proved themselves embarrassingly ready as ever to sing the chorus line for Wingnut Fantasia, much as David Gregory perhaps a little TOO eagerly acceded to the role of Pip for Karl Rove's Gladys Knight. Your librul media, ladies and gentlemen.

But note that professional loons like Brent Bozell STILL claim "librul bias", using ever more absurd arguments, which, come to think of it, mirror the ever more absurd arguments made by "family values" politicians like Bob Allen or Larry Craig...or the ever more absurd arguments made by Team Bush in pushing the Surge.

Is there a limity to lunacy? Well, let's hope so...
Soltz: "Complete and Total Meltdown"

Bookending the failure of this Administration to even BEGIN a genuine program to rebuild the Gulf Coast is the nearly complete breakdown of their Mesopotamian fantasy on all fronts, including our military itself:

The president, in losing control of the war in Iraq and clinging to what he wants to see, and not the reality, now has nearly a full-scale revolt in his own military that just isn't willing to go along for the ride anymore.

And I'll repeat for what seems like the 2millionth time: if this administration can't fix the Gulf Coast, how can anyone short of utter delusion think there's a chance in turning around the mother of all clusterfucks in Iraq. It's simply not going to happen, not even at the hundreds-of-dollars-to-dimes ratio of spending that they and their diminishing wingnut supports are throwing away over there versus here with demented zeal, matched only by their similar willingness to play with lives as if they were toys.

You really have to wonder just how much denial it takes for them to get a decent night's sleep...
Mythbusting, NOLA

Last night Harry Shearer, part-time New Orleans resident ("I split my time between here and Los Angeles") did what IMHO was a pretty good job of summarizing the situation in New Orleans in the limited amount of airtime available on Countdown. You can view/listen to him here, the other link has the full transcript:

SHEARER: You pointed to the absence of any mention of New Orleans in the president‘s State of the Union. I would mention that there is an absence in Nancy Pelosi‘s speech after the Democrats won control. No mention of it there either. It has been a non-priority for both parties at the national level despite the bipartisan efforts of the Louisiana Congressional delegation to move this along...

[note: to his credit, even Diaper Dave has made an honest effort]

OLBERMANN: What do we not know about New Orleans that only a resident can tell us and how should know, Harry??

SHEARER: I think the main thing at this point is, beside the fact that New Orleans did not get destroyed by hurricane, it got destroyed by the design and construction flaws of levees that all of us paid taxes to build over the last 40 years.

The other thing I think is people somehow get the idea that people in New Orleans are whiney beggars. When you walk around the city and all of the progress that has been made, up to now, is being made by individuals who, whatever their resources, whether their own, their family, the wonderful volunteers who make us believe that there still such a place called the U.S., church groups, or every once in a while insurance companies paying off their claims, these people are doing it one store at a time, one house at a time, one bowling alley at a time. This is a city of bootstraps.

Shearer's last point continues to stick in my craw, despite my sincere belief that the vast majority of our fellow Americans are decent people who don't believe such particularly vile and toxic wingnut spew. That said, toxic wingnuttery seems to suck up attention disproportionate to its actual numbers, muddying the waters, polluting the airwaves, and creating a rhetorical dead zone. The fact that such attitudes exist is alone enough to sicken the body politic.

Oh--and before I forget: Shearer made another point, albeit in a more cynical manner--you can refer to the transcript above or catch it at his Huffington Post site: adding insult to injury for New Orleans is the fact that a massive bailout of the subprime mortgage industry is being considered (in addition to Shrub's haughty demand for another $50 billion for the Mesopotamian meat grinder), while the United States Gulf Coast--an area of vital cultural, economic, and strategic importance--is relegated to the back burner.

To call that misplaced priorities is like calling Mount Everest a good sized hill.
If Teh Sex is Gay, He Must Go Away...

...but if it's straight, stay on the committee slate...

Oyster and others have noticed a certain selective morality at play in the squared circles of wingnuttia--Larry Craig can't buy himself a friend, and I'll bet he's got at least one erstwhile "public" restroom all to himself these days, while Diaper Dave's penchant for Pampers® is evidently considered just yer normal, run-o-the-mill Senatorial fetish.

Again, um, in spite of the opportunity to create what I personally consider a new and improved Dandy Dave Diaper Service van, I really couldn't give a hoot in hell about whether our elected officials enjoy their dalliances straight, gay, floral or faunal. However, THEY adopted "values" as an "issue" upon which to run. Own petard? Check. Commence hoist.

Nonetheless, it's interesting, as YRHT points out, to witness the moral contortions among the "values" pushers. It appears there's quite the mix and match of good old fashioned homophobia and realpolitik, given who controls the respective Idaho and Gret Stet stethou, um, statehouses.

And, you know, just between you, me, the walls, and anyone within shouting distance, I recall thinking during the Clinton impeachment exercise in hypocrisy ("naughty boy") that one major factor working strongly in favor of his acquittal is that I seriously doubt a single Senator then--or now--could withstand similar scrutiny of his or her personal life. Just because you can afford hired help don't mean you ain't got dirty laundry.

Too bad THAT lesson STILL hasn't been learned by the "values" pushers...because if they ever DID manage to get that through their lizard brains, we could move on to far more important Gulf Coast recovery and figuring out how to get out of the Mesopotamian quagmire.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

By the Icons

Here's a graphic that ran in yesterday's Pravda-Upon-Hudson.

Click HERE for a larger version.
SubPrime Levee Salesman

This Pic editorial gets to the heart of the matter in the first sentence:

Nobody wants to have to compete for disaster relief.

But that is what Louisianians have had to do in the two years since Hurricane Katrina struck.

Yet, that's exactly what's been happening from pretty much the moment Chimptomaniac yawned and went to bed on August 29, 2005 without so much as a response to Kathleen Blanco's desperate plea for assistance. Indeed, the administration has played this not-so-natural disaster out as if it were a corporation soliciting bids for an assembly line or manufacturing plant, instead of engaging in actions that would be grounds for the largest class-action liability lawsuit in history, that is, if they didn't immunize themselves a priori. Creeps.

Oh, and here's more of the Mississippi non-miracle: larger federal shares per capita aren't exactly going TO the capitas (capati?), but are winding up in fat cat pockets.

And Shrub, like a damn Chimperor expecting tribute, waddles down to play politics.

Well, it's small comfort, but I guess I can hope that one day while the historians scratch their heads in wonderment--how COULD we reach such heights of absuridity?--perhaps the satarists will rub their hands together in recognition that our pain is their laughter...assuming they don't have a Shrub of their own to deal with.

Geez...I hope not: one Shrub, one Poppy, and one Bar is ENOUGH punishment for a millenia or so. That, or proof that god either doesn't exist, or she's pissed as all hell.

But, I digress...

Oh, before I forget, it looks like a number of us got Joshua Clark's email requesting a link to a news/update web site that's awfully good, and to a more personal site promoting his book. You know, I really liked listening to Mr. Clark and his fellow panelists, and consider his request a pretty easy one to act on.
Carlson: "You Don't Know What it was Like in The Nam The John!"

Tucker recalls his dynamic-duo "heroic moment" from high school.

And, no, for the record, I don't believe it either...sounds like something he, no pun intended, pulled right out of his ass.
On the Other Hand...

You know, I've had as much of a laff as everyone else re: Miss Teen South Carolina's Uber Blonde moment (I mean no offense, Dangerblond)...but it's not as if Ms. Upton's the goddamned president.

Zirin on Rising Tide

You don't have to take my word that NOLA's best are Rising Tiders--Dave Zirin thinks so, too:

I was in the Big Easy as an invited speaker at a conference of NOLA bloggers called Rising Tide II. In most cities, bloggers practice a peculiar virtual cannibalism, tearing each other apart for sport. But at Rising Tide, among people young and old, black and white, I saw my first glimpse of what can be termed blogger solidarity. told me, from "the necessity of coming together after Katrina." They referred to each other in conversation by their blog names, more colorful than the mobsters in the film Goodfellas. There was Danger Blonde, MD Filter, my unflappable guide, Liprap, and Mom'n'em. (Mom'n'em is a man. The handle comes from a matriarchal New Orleans phrase. Instead of asking, "How's the family?" You say, "How's Mom'n'em?")

The bloggers represent the best of something beginning to bubble that you won't see on the nightly news, as the two-year anniversary of Katrina arrives today. Amid the horror, amid the neighborhoods that the federal government seems content to see die, there are actual people sticking it out. And they do it with gusto. As Valentine Pierce, a poet and journalist at the conference, said, "Bush's promises don't hold water. The only thing that holds water is the city."

They were also the perfect people for me to speak with to learn the ground-truth about post-Katrina New Orleans. They're not paid to write about the myriad of issues they confront - from mental health to public housing to the loan swindles to the state of art. They do it because they want everyone - those staying away, the transplants from the North, the ones who get their information from the mainstream media - who sees New Orleans as merely a symbol to know the facts: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Read more of Zirin's column here, and take a look at his website, Edge of Sports.
"Let 'em Eat Cake With Breached Icing"

Leigh noticed that even a typical Shrub gesture--distributing empty calories--can't avoid a measure of ineptitude: the wall of icing facing the camera is sagging, presumably well below the design threshold (see inset).

They can't even get THAT right.

And, last night, when a normal human being might have soberly reflected on the it-would-be-comical-if-it-weren't-so-tragic ineptitude that resulted in the deaths of over a thousand citizens, the Chimperor instead chose...ridiculous chest thumping and saber rattling, threatening the waste of even MORE lives and money...just to placate an ever shrinking group of mouth breathing lizard brains...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Get Your Hands Off Me, You Damned, Dirty Newspapers"

Larry Craig wishes to assure everyone that it's all the Idaho Stateman's fault, and that he'd never, ever, ever doing something so icky

Nope, not him. Never, never, ever, never, ever, never, never, never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever, ever ever!
Gun Country

875 million firearms is a LOT of guns, however you slice up the numbers...and most of 'em are right here in the US of A.

Makes you wonder who'd bother to rent...

The Crescent City Paradox

You know, part of me wants to dismiss outright this Douglas Brinkley op-ed, especially after the bio at the end of the piece makes no mention of his own decision to abandon the city...that said, well...I'm not a city resident, so it would be awfully self-righteous for me to complain about someone else's choice.

But while I can't say I like the entire essay, Brinkley scores some solid points in emphasizing the glaring contradiction between administration rhetoric and what can only be a deliberate lack of action. He notes further the dearth of money and willpower from Team Bush, and compares it to the, no pun intended, flood of effort on the part of volunteers throughout the nation, many of whom, he points out, gradually, frustratingly, begin to realize that inaction IS the Bush administration policy. Brinkley also gets the fact that while the not-so-natural disaster in New Orleans exposed the city's problems, those problems are NOT unique to the region, but exist throughout the country. They are the problems of urban America...and, as NOLA goes, so goes urban America. The city IS our test we can't afford to fail.

Like I said, I may not agree with everything Brinkley wrote, but I'm glad I read it, and recommend it if you've got the time.
On Frivolous Lawsuits

Erstwhile tort reform advocate Bobby Jindal draws the line when it hurt feelings.
How Long Before We See This...

...on Faux News?

It's not like it'd be all that unusual.

Oh--and have you seen Senator Craig's endorsement of Mitt Romney? He likes Mitt's "family values."
The Vision Thing Redux

A world where every land is no man's land.

It's sort of like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, which is as suitable a metaphor for this administration as anything.

Upheaval in the Middle East and Islamic civilization could cause another world war, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was quoted as saying in an Austrian newspaper interview published on Monday.

By Team Bush standards, that's "Mission Accomplished," as is Khalilzad's assertion/admission that their plan is for a US occupation for upwards of twenty years...which is mighty easy for them to say, given that they don't plan on any occupation duty themselves. They'll leave the actual fighting to others, while they fatten themselves at the government trough...and maybe award themselves a medal or two.

Heckuva job.

Monday, August 27, 2007

This Week's Grand Old Pervert Who Made the Police Blotter

Congratulations, Larry Craig (R-ID), third from right above, for actions taken at St. Paul-Minneapolis International Airport, namely, behavior consistent with active solitication in a public restroom. Nice going.

Actually, it appears as if Craig beat his other fellow-family-values colleagues to the bust, as it were, having been arrested over two months ago...and, to be fair, he trotted out the "it was a misunderstanding" excuse (hmmm...that must be the solitication equivalent of the DWI "I had two drinks, officer" story) opposed to Representative Allen's ever more bizarro reasons for offering money AND sexual favors while in a public restroom. Still...I'm running out of space at the bottom of the picture of the pissing-boy statue, which, if I remember right, is a bit of a local tourist attraction somewhere in Belgium, no pun intended.

Funny how it's usually the loudest prudes who end up hiding their true selves...and, as I said last week when posting about yet another incident, I really DON'T CARE what two--or more--consenting adults do with each other...though yeah, I'd prefer the location to be private. I mean, sheez: just between you and me, on occasion I use public go to the bathroom. I prefer being able to do that without having to deal with a GOP Senator slaking his lust over in the next stall.
Not Just His Father's Nickname

Poppy cultivation continues at record pace in Afghanistan...I dunno, maybe that's what Shrub means by "victory."

Oh and full disclosure: I think the "drug war" is so much crap and nonsense...nonetheless, the return to opium as a cash crop for Afghan farmers speaks as much as anything to the abject failure of the Bush policy there, while the continued at-large status of Osama bin Laden is even further proof that we're being led by what amounts to Team Doofus.
Featuring Georgie Rotten and Dick Vicious

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?** Matt Taibbi reports it's more than a feeling.

Fuckers--that's really all I can say. They've got some goddamn nerve to bitch about ticky-tack levels of corruption elsewhere after their oceanic epic in Mesopotamia. Sheez: it almost makes me think Guantanamo is more an extension of their fears of getting caught and punished...though, like wingnuts everywhere, they outsource the suffering to others.
Now That You're Back in the Job Market, Alberto...

...Maybe you should seek employment more suited to your skill set:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lame Duck Flapping

Welcome to your Waterloo, Mr. Bush--not even your moronic incompetence could kill the world class city of New Orleans. But take note that the city is fighting back in spite of, not because of, any "effort" on your part...that is, if we can dignify the at-best yawning, half-asleep afterthought you and your advisors have made of Gulf Coast recovery with the word "effort."

By the way, this failure hasn't gone unnoticed throughout the country the world. It's a major reason why NOTHING you say is taken seriously.

If your "effort" in your own country is so shockingly pathetic, how can anyone expect you to honor any commitment, for instance, in Iraq.

Anyway, in honor of your too-little-too-late upcoming photo-op, here's a symbolic reminder that, while New Orleans, with the help of volunteers from around the country (for which the city is eternally grateful), has successfully undertaken the Herculean task of recovering, the city is STILL NOT OK, and you aren't helping

You know, I believe the rest of the nation understands fully that New Orleans' fate is OUR fate--as it goes, so goes the country.

And...for the record, I sure did have a wonderful time yesterday. If you want to meet NOLA's best, you'll find them at the Rising Tide Conference. Be sure to mark your calendar for next year.