Friday, September 21, 2007

Noted for the Record

While the insiders wax indignant and loudly proclaim their outrage and injury (while, at the same time, studiously ignoring those truly injured by their childlike conduct), Krugman reminds us that the rug could get pulled out from under us--or, if you prefer, we could find ourselves about three feet past the end of the cliff before we realize it--at any time.

You know, the "terrorist threat" is actually the convenience of a realitively high standard of living. In other words, terrorism will far pretty far off the radar screen if/when it becomes a REAL challenge to pay the mortgage note...

Just saying...
Not Over Yet

I see a juvenile judge has "effectively deni[ed]...bail" in the case of Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell. Since the case is now in juvenile court, it will become more difficult to detemine exactly what's going on, given that proceedings are closed.

Sad to say, the cynical part of me wonders if there might be more than just a bit of payback in the judge's decision, i.e., "oh yeah? well, look what we can do to you in juvee, punk."

Let's not kid ourselves--while the case certainly belonged under their jurisdiction, I can assure you that the juvenile justice system here (and probably most everywhere else these days) is no picnic.

Still, those who went to Jena yesterday made a significant, and historic statement, one to which the rest of us should pay heed--racism continues to be a BIG problem in this country, not confined merely to the actions of a couple of punk dipshits, but one that's deep-set in our communities, of justice (like among those holding offices such as Parish Attorney), and so on. WAY too often, the issue of racism, and the problems resulting from racism, are dismissed or denied by too many who think of them as being "in the past."

No, they're not. For instance, ask Gary Tyler

Hopefully you'll click on the link about Mr. Tyler and visit one of the sites...and then consider that Bell and Tyler's quest for justice is just that, a quest for...justice. They're not asking for anything more than what's FAIR. That's well worth considering, especially when you think about how many people in this nation have used far less personal injury to far more loudly proclaim not a demand for justice, but a thirst for revenge...
Nosferatuliani's Packing Heat

He was for gun control before he was against it.

I guess for an egotistical asshole like Rudy Giuliani, it's the ultimate get out of jail free card, benefit of clergy, and wanton sinner accepting the Loy-ard Jeeeesus Kr-eye-st on his deathbed all rolled into one. Just say the magic word and all will be forgiven and forgotten:

Rudy, speaking before the National Rifle Association today, offered a creative explanation for why his views have changed from ardent support for gun control as Mayor of New York to strong support for the Second Amendment as a GOP Presidential candidate.

His reason? September 11th has persuaded him that gun rights are necessary.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't own firearms, but I'm quite the 2nd Amendment purist, for all sorts of cite just one, Pandora's Box is already open. But I digress--my point is merely the Rudy, in addition to egotistical assholery, is likewise craven and churlish enough to say or do just about anything to get elected. And if that's what he'll do to get elected, you can only wonder what he'd do to maintain his--ha, I meant to write "grip," but typo-ed "grope"--Freudian slip, and an appropriate one--anyway, maintain his 'grope' on the office.

Meanwhile, it certainly looks as if the essential Rethuglican message of fear, loathing, hate and violence is getting through to some possible supporters/mouth breathers here in Louisiana.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, and speaking of churlish and craven: I saw in comments over at YRHT that Bobby Jindal, bless his little exorcised heart, haughtily deemed the entire controversy in Jena as the work of "outside agitators." Well, welcome to the early 1960's, Mr. Jindal. And I guess in contrast to your sneer towards the "outside agitators," who demonstrated peacefully, perhaps you've got some words of praise for the two young men's handiwork as reported in CNN's story: they draped nooses from the back of a pickup truck, then drove repeatedly past the peaceful demonstrators. Is that something you endorse? After all, the two young men--one of whom professed to being in the Ku Klux Klan--are local.

Just wondering.
Chicken George

You know, I'd heard this before, don't remember where, but was told that videos like this were based on Dubya's documented fear of equines.

That figures--the embodiment of the national drunk-on-a-barstool id, talking tough about all the things he's gonna do to whoever gets in his way, channeling the essence of some professional assclown like Bill O' scared...of horses.


Well, I suppose it could be worse. He hasn't--yet--declared a war on odd toed ungulates, or forced us to decide if we're either with him, or with the Equus, nor are there any shadowy audio or video tapes featuring Mr. Ed.

But I'd watch out if I were Wilbur. I'll bet there's a special cell at Guantanamo with his name on it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Such a Delicate Wittle Flower

Theater of the absurd isn't as absurd. With all that's happening around the world these days--the good, the bad, the ugly, the obscene...what really riles Shrub and his fellow mouth breathers are the hurt feelings General Petraeus suffered resulting from Move On's ad. Boy, that REALLY outraged wingnut nation. That and Ahmandinejad's upcoming visit to New York (although the latter is instructive: seems as if it's not New York, per se, that gets wingnuttia's official stamp of approval, but JUST ground zero. The rest of the city can honk off).

Poor General Petraeus...maybe Bush can present him with a Purple Heart for his hurt feelings...
Reading From the Same Script

h/t M.D. Filter

Well, on the one hand I suppose Trent Lott and Haley Barbour feel quite proud of themselves. To parapharase the much-missed Molly Ivins, being able to read at all in Mississippi must be like being bilingual pretty much anywhere else.

Too bad their choice of reading material leaves much to be desired--a cheap GOP "suggested phrase memo"... the political equivalent of a well-worn, dog-eared copy of Penthouse Forum, clutched closely as each furtively looks both ways before dashing to a men's room stall for a bit of "private time."

During a recent meeting with the Sun Herald, Barbour went off on what he called the "whining" in Louisiana that Mississippi got too large a share...

Lott said, "I'm not going to say anything negative about Louisiana. I feel sorry for them. But one thing they are going to have to answer for is the difference in attitude. They have complained and whined and focused on who else got what. If they would just focus on what they need, they'd be better off."
(italics mine)

Use of the term "whining" is most definitely deliberate. Gingrich put it on his list of suggested phraseology back in the day, the idea being--and sorry to use a sexist term but it's appropriate--to engage in political castration. And that's what Lott and Barbour are trying to do.

Which, when you think about it, is particularly despicable--the LAST thing the Gulf Coast needs right now is the subsuming of need to political considerations. But, then again, it's not like Haley or Trent really give a flying fuck about their constituents, or the American people. To them, death and suffering is just another opportunity to shove their snout deeper into the taxpayer trough.

And, you know, the only "whining" I've heard over the last two years has been the incessant squawk and drone among wingnuttia, who couldn't wait to bitch and holler about the "loss" of "their" tax dollars (as if they were the only ones paying taxes), yet, strngely, make no complaint about Katrina-related subsidies being granted by the silo-ful to...Biloxi casinos and Tuscaloosa condos.

And that tells you everything you need to know about the whining wingers. You know, I ought to offer them some cheese to go with their whine...cheese affixed to rat traps.
Just as You Portray Shrub as 'King George'...

...he turns around and does his drunken monkey thing again.

Think Progress posted Shrub's "Mandela is dead" gibberish. They've got another clip of him lying about his Econ grade in college...and his economic policies ("fiscally responsible with 'the people's money'"--good god. That's like Charles Manson speaking out on the innate sanctity of all life).

Here's an article about the presser with some video. And I found out from the Rude Pundit that Chimperor cited his Libby excuse in refusing to comment on the Jena 6 issue and demonstration today.

Tbogg was writing about something else, but he perfectly captured my own feelings after reading and listening:

I was embarrassed to be an American, But it went much deeper than that. Soon I was embarrassed to be man, and finally, to be a human.
The Common Touch

Here's looking down on you

This (Salon article--ad watch or sub. req.) doesn't just tell you what a sheer, undiluted-acts-like-a-spoiled-twelve-year-old-asshole our president also speaks volumes about a press corpse whose collective somnambulatory scrawlings over the last decade or so have gone a long way towards enabling the asshole-in-chief and making juvenile expressions of simian dominance "business-as-usual" at the White House. After all, they're the ones who implicity or explicity made the central issue of the 2000 in "which candidate would you most want to have a beer with?" Nice...especially when you think about how Shrub himself wouldn't deign to drink with ANY of them. Nope--they could serve him a beer...and clean up afterwards...and maybe stick around to be the butt of what his warped brain thinks is a joke.

Yeah, the goddamn tone sure was changed, alright:

Bush is a classic insecure authoritarian who imposes humiliating tests of obedience on others in order to prove his superiority and their inferiority. In 1999, according to Draper, at a meeting of economic experts at the Texas governor's mansion, Bush interrupted Rove when he joined in the discussion, saying, "Karl, hang up my jacket." In front of other aides, Bush joked repeatedly that he would fire Rove. (Laura Bush's attitude toward Rove was pointedly disdainful. She nicknamed him "Pigpen," for wallowing in dirty politics. He was staff, not family -- certainly not people like them.)

Bush's deployed his fetish for punctuality as a punitive weapon. When Colin Powell was several minutes late to a Cabinet meeting, Bush ordered that the door to the Cabinet Room be locked. Aides have been fearful of raising problems with him. In his 2004 debates with Sen. John Kerry, no one felt comfortable or confident enough to discuss with Bush the importance of his personal demeanor. Doing poorly in his first debate, he turned his anger on his communications director, Dan Bartlett, for showing him a tape afterward. When his trusted old public relations handler, Karen Hughes, tried gently to tell him, "You looked mad," he shot back, "I wasn't mad! Tell them that!"

At a political strategy meeting in May 2004, when Matthew Dowd and Rove explained to him that he was not likely to win in a Reagan-like landslide, as Bush had imagined, he lashed out at Rove: "KARL!" Rove, according to Draper, was Bush's "favorite punching bag," and the president often threw futile and meaningless questions at him, and shouted, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."

Those around him have learned how to manipulate him through the art of flattery. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld played Bush like a Stradivarius, exploiting his grandiosity. "Rumsfeld would later tell his lieutenants that if you wanted the president's support for an initiative, it was always best to frame it as a 'Big New Thing.'" Other aides played on Bush's self-conception as "the Decider." "To sell him on an idea," writes Draper, "aides were now learning, the best approach was to tell the president, This is going to be a really tough decision." But flattery always requires deference. Every morning, Josh Bolten, the chief of staff, greets Bush with the same words: "Thank you for the privilege of serving today."

Yet, even as Bush demands this sort of craven fealty, he is--as might be expected--so maddeningly, goddamned insecure that a professional ratfucker like Don Rumsfeld can play him like a pipe organ in a cathedral. No wonder the last six plus years have seen the most dimwitted, lurching executive policies ever.

And King George expects us to clean up for him once his term's up...while he exists in comfortable retirement on the public dole.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Royal Papal Brush Off

Ah, diplomacy:

Rice Denied Audience with Pope
Disagreements over foreign policy behind refusal. US Secretary of State requested meeting in August. Told that Benedict XVI was "on holiday".
The latest request was made during the summer. The US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice indicated to the Vatican that she urgently needed to meet Benedict XVI. She was on her way back into the viper’s nest of the Middle East and it would have been no bad thing to meet her counterparts with the credentials of a papal audience. Ms Rice had hoped that the audience could be fixed for early August at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence, when Benedict XVI returned from Lorenzago in the Dolomites, but she was told the Pope was on holiday. She insisted but to no avail. Vatican diplomats were adamant and "Benedict XVI is on holiday" continued to be the official reply.

As far as we know, Ms Rice was able to discuss the Middle East, and Lebanon in particular, during a telephone conversation with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. In early August, the Vatican secretary of state was on a visit to America for the annual meeting of the Knights of Columbus in Nashville. But the failure to arrange a meeting between Benedict XVI and Ms Rice has taken on a significance perhaps beyond the intentions of the Holy See. It has been seen as confirming the divergence of views on the Bush administration’s Middle East initiatives and growing friction on Iraq and relations with Iran. The Vatican believes that the United States may be taking too lightly the issue of guarantees for religious minorities in the new Iraqi constitution and has said so to the government in Baghdad. In reply, it was told that threats and violence against Christians are no more severe than those experienced by other minorities. The Americans were also approached but they replied that troops were unable to maintain full control of the territory and had difficulty in protecting non-Muslims.

Some 'on holidays' are evidently more 'on holiday' than others...
"Did Ye Say 'An' a Keg o' Rum?'"

According to this site, today's the day it's appropriate to say "a village in Texas be missin' its idiot."
Just For One Day

Kudos to David Bowie, who made a substantial donation to the legal fund for the Jena 6:

The British rocker's donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund was announced by the NAACP as thousands of protesters were expected to march through Jena on Thursday in defense of Mychal Bell and five other teens. The group has become known as the Jena Six.

"There is clearly a separate and unequal judicial process going on in the town of Jena," Bowie said Tuesday in an e-mail statement. "A donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund is my small gesture indicating my belief that a wrongful charge and sentence should be prevented."

"...Now Authorized to use Physical Force"

OK, so the robo-ization of the armed forces may not be a reality, but the privitization sure is. Now, perhaps wingnuttia considers this to be more efficient, or cheaper, or somehow better...I guess they're entitled to their opinion. As for myself, well, I just hope that they don't decide to farm out the whole military thing, because the articles make it pretty clear that Blackwater's strategy re: this incident--or tragedy, if you actually have an iota of concern for humanity in general--anyway, it looks like their strategy is to basically say 'fuck you.' And, given that they're armed to the teeth, it's not like anyone or anything--short of the US military--can really do much of anything.

Sure, the Iraqi government can whine all they want, and maybe someone will offer them a little cheese to go with it. But the government has no real authority. Power, as the saying goes, derives from the barrel of a gun in Mesopotamia these days, and private security forces outnumber everyone except the US Military. And if you really think about it, that's a pretty scary thing. After all, who's going to test the limits of their authority?

Who wants to risk it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Post That Almost Photoshopped Itself

Seeing this headline over at CNN

Reminded me of Watertiger's post "Nosferudi"...

He sure is a "worst nightmare"

I hope Dependable Renegade doesn't mind me downloading her original pictures and making some slight modifications.
Putting Jena on the Map

The other day Jude Toche over at First Draft put it very aptly when he described Jena as being in "Cracker Louisiana, not Cajun Louisiana," and maybe the picture above gives you a little more of an idea of just where the town is located--not quite north or east enough to be considered part of the ARK-LA-MISS (the eastern counterpoint to the ARK-LA-TEX), but certainly above the dividing line of Alexandria.

To be truthful, I'm FAR more familiar with, oh, I don't know, New York City, Chicago, or Madison than with this part of my own state, but that's how it goes down here. About all I even knew about Jena until recently was that it was the location of the juvenile hall from hell--a place so bad, even by the pretty lax standards down here, that it was eventually shut down (a friend of mine who's a lawyer was part of the legal team that exposed the horrors).

Anyway--that might be one reason why I haven't posted, um, anything about the Jena 6, although...there really is no bad. Well, it might be too little too late, but today the local paper ran a couple of stories about the upcoming march that are worth reading. This one is a fairly decent synopsis and this has some reaction to the event from Jena residents.

What's sad is that it had to come to this in the first place. Indeed, the entire series of events leading up to Thursday's march is a pretty clear indication that racism isn't something that took time to resolve, but a very serious, ongoing problem that we've not even come to grips with.

And it's not just a problem in parts of Louisiana--at the very least it's nationwide, and a more than good case could be made that it crosses borders, too.
Conventional Wisdom...Inside the Beltway Edition

Our panel of experts...

Greenwald examines the strange phenomenon of how the will of the people is filtered through lizard-brained punditry various "serious" opinionists to become what I guess you could call will-of-the-people-product (like a food-product, but not quite as tasty or nutritious).

Side Note: I felt bad using lizards in the picture as a metaphor for the lizard brained punditocracy. Apologies to the various anoles, for whom I actually have quite a bit of respect: they are always welcome to come hang out on my porch and avail themselves of the free, all-you-can-eat insect buffet.
Mr. Vice President, Go Pound Sand

Few things illustrate the limitless Rethuglican capacity for agressive ignorance and utter bullshit than Dick's latest confirmation that his moniker is well suited:

The controversy over’s ad in The New York Times entered its second week yesterday as Vice President Dick Cheney joined the fray. Mr. Cheney, defending Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in Iraq and the object of MoveOn’s ad, said:

"The attacks on him by in ad space provided at subsidized rates in The New York Times last week were an outrage."

Dick's "outraged." Well, Dick, to quote the moustache of understanding, suck on this:

A new study estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since Bush and Cheney chose to invade.

In other words, you seem to be rather selective, if not deliberate, as to the moment you twist your panties into a knot, then declare discomfort, if not chafing.

And that's what this generation of Rethuglicans does ABOVE ALL ELSE, with more than a dollop of media assistance (unless your definition of "dollop" is the equivalent of "tanker load." Then, with just a dollop of media assistance). They froth at the mouth over absolute nonsense, hoping to fan the flames of fang-bared hatred among the lunatic fringe they call their "base." Between this and the straight up credulity they get from their media syncophants (e.g., watch the deference with which they treat, say, Bill Donohue), the braying cacaphony virtually REQUIRES sane individuals to simply plead for calm...whereupon ANY questioning of the lunacy itself is consigned to the dustbin. Rinse, repeat, and the REAL crime--needlessly causing death and destruction on an epic scale over there, carelessly and incompetently ignoring real needs right here--likewise gets only superficial examination at best...and even then the "responsible" media goes out of its way to set a place at the table for genuine nuts--the kind of folks who'd murder their own grandmothers because, after all, the elderly are a waste of are kids.

And Move On is dangerous...because it believes in free speech.

Gimme a goddamned break.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Must See and Must Read

And to think Ms. Douchemook, pictured below, would literally throw all these kids and their parents away. Unbelievable.

Link to the article. Link to the slide slow.

One of the most common images in children’s art is the house: a square, topped by a pointy roof, outfitted with doors and windows.

So Karla Leopold, an art therapist from California, was intrigued when she noticed that for many of the young victims of Hurricane Katrina, the house had morphed into a triangle.

"At first we thought it was a fluke, but we saw it repeatedly in children of all ages," said Ms. Leopold, who with a team of therapists has made nine visits to Renaissance Village here, the largest trailer park for Katrina evacuees, to work with children. "Then we realized the internal schema of these children had changed. They weren’t drawing the house as a place of safety, they were drawing the roof."

Countless articles and at least five major studies have focused on the lasting trauma experienced by Hurricane Katrina survivors, warning of anxiety, difficulty in school, even suicidal impulses. But few things illustrate the impact as effectively as the art that has come out of sessions under the large white tent that is the only community gathering spot at Renaissance Village, a gravel-covered former cow pasture with high truancy rates and little to occupy youngsters who do not know when, or if, they will return home.

Even now the children’s drawings are populated by alligators, dead birds, helicopters and rescue boats. At a session in May one 8-year-old, Brittney Barbarin, drew a swimming pool full of squiggly black lines. Asked who was in the pool, she replied, "Snakes."

You know, what's amazing is that, in spite of being told by the likes of Confederate Douchemook that their lives are worthless, the vast majority of these kids will overcome the awfully steep obstacles that have been put in their way...hell, at this point, most are already more accomplished than Douchemook ever will be, and one day we might well discover that a few of these kids are truly talented beyond any of our imaginations.

On the flip side, though, is the possibility of a far more ominous future for some of these kids. And it's not like we haven't been warned.

Just as is the case for some of the soldiers we've sent off to Iraq, where they've discovered that the Douchemooks of this world likewise consider their lives worthless.
Word of the Day

Looks like it's "douchemook." And, what, pray tell, IS a douchemook?

A douchemook, among other things, will go into deep mourning--and solicit funds for replacement of--a grill...a fucking GRILL...that tipped over during a storm. At the same time a douchemook will whine relentlessly about restoring a major city--and region--devastated by storms and a flood. A city that, BY LAW, should have been protected. A region that is VITAL to the economic well-being of this country, given that it's a major producer, refiner, and transshipment point for national energy resources and other commodities. A douchemook will christen himself as expert about geological phenomena citing nothing more than ephemera pulled from his own ass.

Douchemook, can be contagious; however, rendering oneself immune requires nothing more than a reasonable education. Some people, though, you just can't reach...

Ms. Deeply-in-Mourning-for-Her-Lost-Grill, i.e., a classic douchemook.
"A Little Insult With Your Injury Perhaps?"

Ah, a tax hike the Bush Administration can embrace--one that hits ordinary citizens the hardest:

While the Road Home program has paid out more than 50,000 grant to help hurricane-affected homeowners, many recipients may have to pay back as income tax as much as 35 percent of their grants.

Normally, the Internal Revenue Service would treat grants from the federally funded, state-run program as nontaxable gifts. But if a homeowner claimed a casualty loss from the 2005 hurricanes and later receives compensation through Road Home, the IRS considers the grant a duplication of the 2005 tax break - and it becomes taxable income the year it was received. Also, some homeowners who claimed a casualty loss - in some cases making that decision before Road Home existed - could end up in a higher tax bracket that requires them to pay more tax on all their income.

For example, accountant Jerry Schreiber said that if Social Security recipients claimed sizable casualty losses and then got large Road Home grants, they may go from not having to file a federal tax return to having to pay taxes on all their income, including their grant and pension.

It's a short article, so by all means read the whole thing if you've got a couple of minutes...and consider how quickly Congress and the administration can get off their flabby elite asses when they feel a campaign issue coming on (e.g., Terry Schiavo). Things only get "difficult and complicated" when you can't turn something into a media event...or a fundraiser.

To be fair, Landrieu and, believe it or not, Jindal, have submitted legislation to exempt grant money from taxes, but I guess there's no opportunity to turn this into a media event or fundraiser, get the picture.

And the money itself? Well, contrary to the childlike opinions of the screetching wingnut minority, it's not exactly a gift. Money in this case is simply a measure of the labor needed to restore was was broken IN VIOLATION of the law, in this case, the Flood Control Act of 1965...a law that's still on the books.
Ah, The Stench of Selective Outrage...

Gee, remember the wingnut outrage when Saxby Chambliss accused veteran Max Cleland of being an Osama Lover?

Nope, neither do I.

Meanwhile, Blackwater USA may have gotten their license temporarily revoked (let's see how long the revocation actually lasts), but don't doubt at least some of Shrub's dwindling "base" is thrilled. Not that they'd actually deign to do this sort of dirty work themselves (which is why we call them 'chickenhawks'), but the the layer of racism in this conflict is thick enough to restore the Arctic ice sheet...

Listening to their hypocritical phony concern for "the Iraqi people" is all the more infuriating in light of Blackwater's action...along with plenty of other examples.

This is closer to their reality