Friday, October 05, 2007

Go Figure

Let's see--a drunk with a gun, not really accountable to anyone, goes and shoots someone...and this administration not only refuses to prosecute, but quietly helps the guy retain his job and even continue working in his shadowy capacity.

Sounds like I've heard this story before...

Graphic from here, with just a few minor modifications.
What's Wrong With a Little Waterboardin'?

Maximum Leader Shrub insists that it's all good, I mean legal, I mean legit...oh, nevermind.

Think about it--botched, possibly rigged elections, ramrodding through legislation at odd hours, "signing statements" averring an inherent power to flout the law...flouting the law, lying to start a war, starting a war without having a clue as to how to end it, ripping off the public treasury to levels that astonish even the most cynical, stacking the courts with idiot syncophants...and that's just for starters.

Yer Banana Republicans.
It's All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Poked in the Eye...or Shot in the Face

You've probably already seen the latest Krugman column (and some guy who calls himself Atrios linked to it) about the conservative "sense of humor," which in shorthand can be boiled down to "let's laugh at the kid in the wheelchair and call him a 'cripple' ."

And last week their humor extended to mocking a Guatemalan national whose savings were confiscated by the US Government when he tried to voluntarily return to his country.

But you just know these same people would throw the absolute mother-of-all-hissy-fits if someone so much as dared even question their "right" to mock and degrade anyone less fortunate, much less took any corrective action. Hell, civil rights legislation had hardly made it to the statutes before the "reverse discrimination" whine became their mantra...thus proving that those talking the loudest about 'being tough' are often usually the weakest.

I mean, look at the collective case of the vapors brought on by Move On's Petraeus ad. That's as close to a definitive example of wingnuttery in action. Well, that and Bill Kristol's little Freudian slip about wanting the President to "do something bad for the kids."
So, a Republican Goes into a Public Restroom...

Geez, what's the deal? It's as if to yer average male GOOPER can't take a leak outside of the house without wanting to reenact an "adult" scene from OZ.

Oh wait--it's not just outside the house...

At this point, why bother with staging a convention all the way up in Minneapolis when the Republicans could just gather together in a public men's room or local YMCA to "build a platform."

(on a slightly more serious note: you'll notice that I left disgraced Congressman Mark Foley out of the picture...well, that's because, as hypocritical as the GOP is on teh gay, gay sex is completely normal adult behavior, as is non-gay sex, or, at least in my opinion, pretty much anything that occurs between two or more consenting adults. Foley's predatory behavior was NOT gay sex, it was pederasty, and yes, a distinction should be made).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Larry Craig as Greeter, David Vitter as Keynoter...

Looks like Larry's resignation is officially off, as is his attempt to weasel out of his plea (apologies to weasels) why not put him to use come convention time?

Logo graphic from Sadly No, where Gavin's created some artwork, too.
Separated at Birth?

I guessing I'm pretty late in the game on noticing the astonishing similarity between Jonah Goldberg and Dwight Schrute, but I've just never managed to get into the American version of The Office.

Last night, though, during my surfing session, I came across a promo and was struck by the similarity...I'm also not terribly surprised that Schrute is the rough equivalent of Gareth Keenan, i.e., the resemblence to Goldberg extends to morals and ethics...

I really can detect only a single difference, in fact, between them: Schrute, at least according to the Wikipedia entry, doesn't rely on mommy for his position...
On Risk and Reclamation

Channel surfing wasn't a total waste last night as I stumbled across a report about the La Jolla sinkhole on CNN.

I'm afraid you'll have to search for a transcript (I guess search for transcripts for the Anderson Cooper show), but I distinctly remember the on-site reporter saying the affected area had been developed some sixty years ago using a variety of engineering techniques, (I also remember the term "terraced" or "terracing").

I bring this up to reiterate that it isn't just New Orleans or the Gulf Coast where you've had extensive work done to natural terrain. Hell, throw in projects like modern road systems, water and sewer/drain lines, and there's hardly a settled area that HASN'T undergone profound modification. Neither is there an area where there isn't some measure of risk.

Abandonment is NOT a solution.
Yet Another Reason to Haul His Sorry Ass to Jail

Not that you really NEED more reasons, but here's another example of the sort of ugly, incompetent viciousness that defines Team Bush:

Louisiana was shortchanged in funding for a pilot program to build so-called Katrina Cottages as a disaster-housing alternative, the investigative arm of Congress concluded.

The Government Accountability Office, in a report issued earlier this week, said the state could have received almost double the $74.5 million it has been slated had the agency overseeing the program used a more fair formula.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency in December awarded $388 million that Congress authorized for disaster-housing alternatives to travel trailers and mobile homes.

Mississippi received $281.3 million or 73 percent of the award for two projects.

Louisiana got the $74.5 million to fund one project. The rest of the money went to Alabama and Texas.

There's absolutely NO reason for states to compete for federal resources. That's ridiculous. But Mr. Decider-in-Chief has CHOSEN to ignore the region. His half-assed crumb tossing is criminal negligence, which follows on the criminal negligence in not addressing the deteriorating levees in New Orleans.

The truth is that he can't be bothered with trifles like...the American people, because he's busily engaged in constructing grandiloquent paeans of congratulatory self-comparison to Abraham Lincoln if not God Almighty, basking in the delusion that somehow his destruction of civil society in Iraq and criminal negligence in the United States constitutes "being presidential."


Contrast his bland bureaucratese about New Orleans--oh, it's so complicate...forms to fill out...with yet another example of how even the law can't get in Team Bush's way if they really, really want to do torture people. Or compare their half-assed, sorry response along the Gulf Coast with Shrub's mad dash to DC when it was Terry Schiavo...a cynical attempt to throw a wingnuttia a bone to gnaw on.

I really believe the vast majority of American people find Team Bush's actions despicable and appalling--yet the media always manages to find time to uncritically present the most insane rantings from the Ed Rogers/Ann Coulter crowd, as if they represent anything more than a small minority of craven, vicious lunatics. It's gotta make you wonder.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sofa, Chairs, and TV of Mass Destruction

The picture above is evidently the weapons cache of the Liberty City Seven--remember them? They're the diabolical geniuses (the leader of the group, Narseal Batiste, has a Louisiana connection--I think his father is from, correction, make that Bunkie)...anyway, this was a group of diabolical geniuses who were "preparing" to blow up the Sears Tower...except that they lacked, um, a realistic plan, explosives, a means to transport explosives...hell, for that matter they lacked money for local bus fare in Liberty City (a low rent suburb of Miami...Florida, only about 1500 miles from Chicago).

Batiste, you may recall, also expressed to an informant his interest in uniforms and shoes--because all good diabolical geniuses need to accessorize with the latest fashions and gear.

And even though there's no mention of it in the record, I'm convinced that Batiste was actively seeking theme music as well, which is probably why Abu Gonzales made such a big deal out of his arrest.

I'm just surprised they didn't withhold his bottle of activator.
"Well I Don't Think It's Quite Fair to Condemn a Whole Program Because of a Single Slip Up Sir" *

New details emerge about the most recent Blackwater, um, "episode" in Baghdad:

¶A deadly cascade of events began when a single bullet apparently fired by a Blackwater guard killed an Iraqi man whose weight probably remained on the accelerator and propelled the car forward as the passenger, the man’s mother, clutched him and screamed.

¶The car continued to roll toward the convoy, which responded with an intense barrage of gunfire in several directions, striking Iraqis who were desperately trying to flee.

¶Minutes after that shooting stopped, a Blackwater convoy — possibly the same one — moved north from the square and opened fire on another line of traffic a few hundred yards away, in a previously unreported separate shooting, investigators and several witnesses say.

Oh, and it wasn't 11 deaths--it was 17, with 24 others wounded. But I guess it's good to know that wingnuttia won't let some forty more casualties (update: I meant to say "foreign, i.e., Iraqi civilian casualties") get in the way of the mess they're actively making in Mesopotamia.
Because Free Market Health Care...Isn't Free

Sorry kid--you're gonna have to heal yourself...

I guess to one George W. Bush, sick and dying kids can't get in the way of a 'principled stand...' but when even Bobby Jindal's against you (despite his no-show for the Congressional vote), it might be worth examining said principles. Just sayin'.
And The "Winner" Is...

With ninety or so days remaining this year, there's a slight chance I might have to adjust things, but I'm pretty sure we've got a winner in the 2007 Expression that Defines Our Times.

Third Runner Up:

Leave Britney Alone!
Certainly an outstanding effort and a source of inspiration for others imploring the same for everyone from General Petraeus to Bill Belicheck. In any other year perhaps a champion, but this year's competition was exceptionally strong.

Second Runner Up:

Don't Tase Me, Bro!
Not exactly "We Shall Overcome" or "The Whole World is Watching," but possibly of practical value for anyone going to a public event these days. Andrew Meyer's general attitude cost him a lot of points, though.

First Runner Up:

Man-DEL-a is dead.
Points for sheer drama as well as an astonishing fealty to Star Trek©: TOS principles of speech and diction patterns (Man-DEL-ah); however, the factual incorrectness and sheer batshit weirdness in timing and delivery worked against President Bones McShrub. Shrub almost got a second nomination thanks to the testimony of Erik Prince who uncannily channeled the "to the extent that [the federal government/Blackwater/the Mayberry Machiavellis/the Texass Mafia] is responsible..." line, but that's actually from 2005...

Which means that our "Champion" is...[drumroll, rim shot]

Don't Deport My Wife

Yes, that's right--while soldiers like Eduardo Gonzalez and Emmanuel Woko put their lives on the line for the United States, a souless bureaucracy and pinheaded climate of hostility among certain sympathizers with wingnuttery means their wives and perhaps children stand a decent chance of being deported. It's the Team Bush way of saying "thank you for your service," and, obviously, not much of a prize...but certainly an excellent example of wingnut philosophy in practice.

Um, congratulations...I guess.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Your Modern World

You know, it's kind of appropriate that on a day when Shrub, via Perino, admits he doesn't give a flying Cheney about sick kids, Pravda reports on something Bush's "base" presumably finds much more essential--the latest accessories for your multimillion dollar yacht:

One bauble that more yacht buyers are asking for is a helicopter. Of course, that means adding a pilot and a mechanic to the yacht’s crew, but for the people who buy these yachts, that is hardly a concern.

"..hardly a concern." Just like the health of low-income children.

But you know, there's a part of me that curious about what Senator Larry Craig might have done to customize HIS yacht...
Under the Rug and Behind the Curtain

Afghanistan -- the other white meat Team Bush Operation Stumblebum:

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked to its highest level since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, with an Associated Press count of insurgency-related deaths this year surpassing the 5,000 mark and a U.N. report finding that attacks have risen by 20 percent.

A new U.N. report found that while 76 percent of all suicide bombings in the country have targeted international and Afghan security forces, 143 civilians were killed by those bombs through August. The report, released in New York last week, also found that Afghanistan has averaged 550 violent incidents per month this year, up from 425 last year.

An AP count of insurgency-related deaths, meanwhile, reached 5,086 so far this year, the most deaths in Afghanistan since the invasion to topple the Taliban. The AP counted some 4,000 deaths in 2006, based on reports from Western and Afghan officials.

The AP tally counts more than 3,500 militants among the dead, but also more than 650 civilians killed either by militant violence or U.S. or NATO attacks. Almost 180 international soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year, including 85 Americans, a record pace. Last year, about 90 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan.

Heckuva Job...
Short Attention Span Political Theater

Just playing through...

What I find really infuriating about these posts from Kevin Drum and Engram is the almost out-loud assumption that Iraqis possess an attention span roughly similar to their own when contemplating Iraqi deaths. The span seems to be around one month.

I suppose it's nominally better than, say, Shrub or Erik Prince, who can't be bothered at all, petulant expressions of non-regret aside...but I don't think I'm stepping out on a limb in suggesting that Iraqis themselves might view their collective tragedy through a different lens, one that doesn't fade on quite so quick a time frame.

Sad to say, it seems that the same dismissal of death as merely a monthly statistic is also becoming somewhat routine when noting military deaths. In fact, it's sadly ironic that victims of this totally insane war are forgotten far more quickly than the 9/11 victims, who continue to be exploited by professional ghouls like Rudy Guiliani. Recent casualties fall off the radar screen with such haste that it's not unreasonable to think of the war fetishists as pornographic in their psycopathic obsessions, forever needing new, fresh victims to satisfy their very creepy blood lust.

Even more amazing is that they consider themselves civilized in comparison to the Middle Eastern "savages" who they're trying to "uplift and Christianize." Go figure.
Blackwater: No, Really, It's Not What You Think

If it's dead, it's VC Haji...

OK, where to begin? Erik Prince's arrogant, Shrubian-style damage control is as good a point as any:

"To the extent there was loss of innocent life, let me be clear that I consider that tragic"

I could not care any less, so lets get the standard-issue, generic, sorta regret it statement out of the way...and quit bothering me.

Well, that's the diplomatic translation. One could easily make the case that Prince really meant "fuck you, pay me you pricks, and shove your questions up your ass."

Prince said there has been a "rush to judgment based on inaccurate information."

He disputed a congressional report's finding that Blackwater is an out-of-control outfit that's indifferent to Iraqi civilian casualties. And he maintained that his guards were responding to hostile fire when they engaged in a Sept. 16 shootout while protecting a U.S. convoy. At least 11 Iraqis died as a result of that incident. Prince's contention about the nature of the gunfire exchange is hotly disputed by witnesses and the Iraqi government, and the incident remains under U.S. and Iraqi investigation.

To be honest, part of me's surprised the son-of-a-bitch didn't immediately demand a resolution from the full House and Senate offering apolgies for disrupting his busy schedule...and, sad to say, part of me thinks the vertebral-challenged Democrats might well join their jellyfish GOP colleagues in endorsing such a statement "on behalf of the management."

That said, you can still find the odd vertebra on Capitol Hill:

The Democratic staff of the House committee issued a scathing 15-page report on the company's conduct Monday, portraying the company as unchecked by the State Department.

Among the report's most serious charges was that Blackwater contractors sought to cover up a June 2005 shooting of an Iraqi man and the company paid -- with State Department approval -- the families of others inadvertently killed by its guards.

Blackwater has had to fire 122 guards -- one-seventh of the personnel it has in Iraq -- over the past three years for problems ranging from misuse of weapons, alcohol and drug violations, inappropriate conduct, and violent behavior, the committee report said.

...but it remains to be seen if anything remotely approaching an evolutionary trend can begin:

Blackwater has earned more than $1 billion from federal contracts since 2001, when it had less than $1 million in government work. Overall, the State Department paid Blackwater more than $832 million between 2004 and 2006 for security work, according to the report.

Blackwater bills the U.S. government $1,222 per day for a single "protective security specialist," the report says. That works out to $445,891 on an annual basis, far higher than it would cost the military to provide the same service.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, What Did You Think of the Play?

Is the bloody glass half full or half empty? Fool him...won't get fooled again.

Spinning like a goddamned Battling Top, Team Bush insists that 988 confirmed civilian deaths last month in Iraq is glorious news of the smashing success--emphasis on smash--of the surge.

And I guess if you ignore the heaping helping of shit in a shit sandwich, it really doesn't taste like shit at all.

Speaking of shit sandwich, here's more on what $1 billion dollars worth of contracts to "private security firms" gets you...enjoy.
"...So Iraqis Wouldn't 'Try to Get Killed to Set Up Their Family Financially.' "

Just when you think batshit insanity couldn't get more, um, batshit insane, Condoleezza Rice's State Department manages to up the ante with a scenario that must have been conjured forth by Tim Russert.

Nonetheless, the fact that the State Department actually considers this a reasonable theory indicates exactly how deeply Team Bush has managed to destroy civil society over there...and exactly how thoroughly creepy this administration is.

Need more proof? Well, here's a NON-photoshopped picture of Bush administration official Debra Cagan, complete with iron cross accessory, although I also think Debra bears an uncanny resemblence to this, minus the sense of humor.
It's Fun to Stay Inside the Beltway (repeat)

The Village People of Punditry.

"Those children not assigned to the showers can see Dr. Mengele now."

I try to avoid moving into Goodwin's Law territory, but when a mangy, rabid little skunk like Bill Kristol drops the bar this low the comparison is apt.

First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the President’s willing to do something bad for the kids.