Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday "What I Found on You Tube" Post

Embedding disabled by request, the picture above should be a giveaway. What. a. voice.
An Army of...Five to Fifteen, Depending on the Charges

I normally post a You Tube video on Saturday; I found one but it doesn't allow embedding, so I'll run the link a little later...anyway, last night I was dealing with stuff while half-watching standard Friday night MSNBC fare--a prison documentary about Pendleton Juvenile Facility in Indiana. Along with the usual prison documentary material, there was a short bit about something I'd never heard of--the "Future Soldier" program. Paraphrasing here, the guy in charge seemed particularly proud of the chance to move kids from Juvenile to the military with a minimum of interaction, if any, with the civilian world.

In other words, we're now using the youth prison system as a first-step in training the next generation of soldiers.

You know, I'm willing to give the proverbial second-chance to people, particularly juvenile offenders (within reason)...but I find the whole 'minimum interaction with the civilian world' element more than a little troubling. If their interaction here is 'minimal,' how do we expect them to represent US to the civilian world over there?

Or has this war truly instilled in our psyche a tolerance for savagery?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Carter? Or Bush the Elder?

Krugman paints a not-terribly-optimistic picture...
Ideological Bedfellows

Like the Decider, McCain apparently thinks rules are only for the little people, and not him.

Mr. Campaign Finance Reform...
The bin Laden Vote

In case you haven't figured out that wingnut "analysis" is roughly akin to normal people's "brain-stem function," Faux News provides ample evidence, first by running, then airing the results of what's got to be one of the most idiotic polls ever conceived...then evidently ensuring a winger skew in the response. I mean, c'mon: the GOP/Wingnut contingent might as well be a silent partner of Al Qaeda, having nurtured them for literally a generation...hell, yesterday I stumbled upon a picture of St. Reagan himself fawning over a visiting contingent of "freedom fighters" in the Oval Office.

Without Team Bush, bin Laden would still be just as much of a loon, but far less powerful, if not permanently dispatched to whatever circle of hell his reservation is consigned to.

Add "negative equity" to the Decider's "accomplishments:"

Not since the Depression has a larger share of Americans owed more on their homes than they are worth. With the collapse of the housing boom, nearly 8.8 million homeowners, or 10.3 percent of the total, are underwater. That is more than double the percentage just a year ago, according to a new estimate of the damage by Moody’s

That's a...heckuva job, making Herbert Hoover look good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Product Diversification

I guess "the brand" now includes fisticuffs.

Does that get me on the list, Jeffrey?
Dick Pickens

Yeah, the whole "peace through endless war" strategery is going just swell--we obviously taught the Taliban a lesson or two:

A ruthless new generation of Afghan insurgents is casting aside Taliban doctrine that opposed killing large numbers of civilians, instead using more powerful explosives and packing bombs with ball-bearings to maximize kills.

Hmmm...sure that's the lesson we wanted them to learn?

Meanwhile, in what Rumsfeld might call "Old, Old Europe," Serbians put the US Embassy to the torch in a reaction to the Bush administration's recognition of independent Kosovo or Kosova (as you prefer)...interesting, in that it sort of puts to rest the wingnut, um, concept for lack of a better word, of the global religious crusade vis-a-vis upright (rhymes with "white) Christians and the swarthy Islamic, Moohamadean horde bent on defiling teh delicate flour of Christian see, Albanian Kosovars are...mostly Muslim.
Or Maybe it's Time for the Media to Stop Acting Like a Preening Narcissus

It's apparently been so godamned long since the fourth estate has been projecting it's collective high-school mentality on the electoral process that they've forgotten they're supposed to be fucking REPORTING instead of anointing...or desecrating:

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Barack Obama, the wunderkind of US politics, has long basked in adulatory press coverage for his historic White House bid -- but a media backlash appears to be building.
A Matter of Tone?

I've mostly given up on local television news, and why not, but for whatever reason I decided to tune in last night and caught this story (along with the story just below this post)--here's the local paper's version:

Hurricane Katrina victims picketed Wednesday in front of FEMA’s Baton Rouge office to protest what they say is the U.S. government’s unfair treatment of evacuees who live in temporary trailers possibly contaminated with formaldehyde.

The demonstration was prompted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement last week that it would step up its efforts to move evacuees out of trailers because tests found high levels of formaldehyde in some of the temporary homes.

Several residents of FEMA’s Renaissance Village trailer park near Baker said the agency offered Feb. 14 to move them into a hotel room for 30 days.

Charlette McGee, a Katrina victim who recently moved out of a trailer and still advocates on behalf of current FEMA tenants, said many people have refused the hotel rooms because they see them as a step down from trailers, even if those trailers are potentially unhealthy.

"In a hotel, there’s no kitchen or refrigerator," she said. "There’s no sense of community. We want to go back to our normal way of living before Katrina."

Fair enough, and if you saw the video without sound, a normal reaction would likely be, "ok," and that's about it...but I couldn't help but notice the barely--and I mean thread-bare barely--disguised contempt in the tone of the local anchorperson. You could almost hear the expression "lazy n******" seeping through.

Well, that...or, since I'm feeling in a slightly generous mood, maybe it was the very idea that ANYONE would, god forbid, not be either working or "consuming" at Wal-Mart or McDonalds, but instead, exercising a fundamental American right to assemble peaceably and present their grievences. And it's not like they have no grievences to present. Hell, these people were abandoned by their country--the richest nation that's existed in human history. Abandoned.
Skipping the Picture

Because there's nothing even remotely amusing about this:

The FBI is now investigating possible wrongdoing by Shreveport police after a woman brought in for a DWI test ended up bloodied and bruised.

She refused to take the breathalyzer, and repeatedly tried to leave the room, saying she wanted to make a phone call.

After the officer handcuffed the woman, she fell face first to the floor. A short time later, the officer turned off a video camera in the room.

He says he did it to bring the woman to another part of the jail to book her. When the camera eventually comes back on, it shows the woman bleeding heavily.

Counterpunch linked to a You Tube clip from Shreveport television news.

Pretty scary. First, despite my political beliefs, I don't instantly and always side with people being arrested. I have no idea of the circumstances and cause, and think it's appropriate that such matters be dealt with in open court.

But there's no way that this woman's injuries were solely the result of falling on the floor, and she is clearly NOT posing ANY threat to the officer. Is she being annoying? Perhaps, although from my point of view, I don't think it's any worse that what the police might encounter here in Baton Rouge on a football Saturday night. And that's certainly NOT grounds for being beaten to a pulp.

What sort of country are we becoming?
Science Thursday

Yesterday's lunar eclipse was a wash for me--full overcast in Red Stick, and rain today--but I took a couple of shots from here and here and combined them as a sort of consolation.

YRHT links to a slightly more eclectic collection of science photos.
Rathergate Redux?

I dunno, but something about the McCain allegations doesn't pass the smell test. And, sorry that I don't have the link (well, not that I'd be directing loads of traffic anyway), but I saw somewhere that this apparently was all the bait Sean Hannity needed to take the hook. Tbogg notes that HindRocket's on board...I suppose later we'll see what Rush Lamebone has to say.

For a "scandal," it seems awfully weak, and allows McCain to play the ultimate wingnut fantasy: victim of the librul media (does it get any more librul than the New York Times, especially now that Dan Rather's been cashiered?). The Politico's headline is about how the McCain camp vows to "go to war" with Pravda-Upon-Hudson, i.e., a sure-fire way to connect with the wingers on a gutteral level (the only level they understand)...

I've also seen a fair amount of "is it a smear?" material, at least on the internet media this morning. How convenient.

Now, I'm not saying McCain was cynical to the point that he orchestrated this himself, but...just yesterday (also at Tbogg) I came across this:

[McCain's] MO is this: Get the story out -- even if it's a negative story. Get it out first, with the spin you want, with the details you want and without the details you don't want.

McCain did it with the Keating Five, and with the story of the failure of his first marriage (Cindy is his second wife). So what you recall after the humble, honest interview, is not that McCain did favors for savings and loan failure Charlie Keating, or that he cheated on his wife, but instead what an upfront, righteous guy he is.

Candor is the McCain trademark, but what the journalists who slobber over the senator fail to realize is that the candor is premeditated and polished. John McCain shoots from the hip -- but only after carefully rehearsing the battle plan, to be sure he won't get shot himself.

Again, I'm not implying that this was orchestrated, but I won't be surprised at all if the McCain camp manages to concoct enough chicken salad out of the chicken shit that at least a few wingnuts hop on board (there's NO accounting for THEIR taste). And, as with Rathergate, if there are a few not-quite-right details when this eventually plays out, it might well do for the Straight-Talk what it did for the Decider in '04: keep the media just off-balance enough...

And while I doubt it would be THE decisive factor, every little bit helps...and don't think the Rethugs don't know that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Speculating on the Wingnut Attack Strategery

Hullabaloo thinks the initial charge that they'll try to make stick is "cult," with maybe some naive, silly, and vapid "feminine" charges thrown in for good measure...of course, the media will carry wingnut water like it's pure gold.
That said, Obama's handled the Clinton attack so far. Maybe it'll be sort of like a spring training for him...
Dick...Cheney, a Man of Simple Tastes

If there's any shooting going on, he wants to be in on it.
The "Realists"

So, Mr. Straight Talk's displaying his forked tongue, and the only real question will be how much of a free ride the media gives him, both in airing his crap allegations and in denigrating any Obama response. Because, after all, the media's got a forked tongue, too.

I mean, cmon: any sane, rational fourth estate would've already consigned Straight Talk to history's dustbin after exercises in extreme stupidity like his stroll through the Baghdad market (not to mention his endorsement of a one hundred year occupation--or longer--which at present rates would only cost us about about 12-15 TRILLION dollars, 100,000 dead, and 6 million wounded...well, at least as long as the surge "keeps working" and the army doesn't collapse.)

And then there's Joe, Johnny Mac's trusty sidekick:

Lieberman likes expressions of American power. A few years ago, I was in a movie theatre in Washington when I noticed Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, a few seats down. The film was "Behind Enemy Lines," in which Owen Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down in Bosnia. Whenever the American military scored an onscreen hit, Lieberman pumped his fist and said, "Yeah!" and "All right!"

So...Reaganesque. That is to say that, like Reagan, there's a certain confusion of movies with reality...
Bottom Feeders

Ari Fleischer--the Ratfish

Hullabaloo and Greenwald are right--if/when Barack Obama becomes the presumptive nominee, the wingnut shitstorm will reach Cat 5 strength:

So the question isn't whether Obama will be relentlessly pelted by the sprawling appendages of the Right-wing edifice and its media allies with the most grotesque, bottom-feeding, substance-free, personality-based attacks. Of course he will be -- ones as ugly as, if not uglier than, anything we've seen yet...

After all, two of the most establishment journalists, Mark Halperin and John Harris, themselves confessed that our media covers our elections as a "Freak Show" and, worse, a low-life, right-wing dirtmonger like Matt Drudge is the most influential individual in setting their agenda and ruling their world. There are obviously hordes of people, regardless of ideology, yearning for an end to the Limbaugh/Drudge/ Chris-Matthews/Karl-Rove/Time Magazine petty, vapid dirt-mongering that infects and shapes our politics. Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen -- there are a lot of extremely formidable obstacles in the way -- but it's hard to argue with those who see that as a critical priority.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The All New, Fully Loaded, 2008 FEMA

Heckuva job:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency misspent millions of dollars it received from selling used travel trailers, government investigators have found.

Instead of buying more trailers -- as allowed under the law -- FEMA used more than $13 million toward fully loaded sport utility vehicles, travel expenses and purchase card accounts, according to a draft report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general obtained by The Associated Press. The report is to be released Friday.

During its three-month review last summer, the inspector general found that FEMA used some of the proceeds from trailer sales for tree-removal services, agency decals and banners and global positioning systems.

I remember when wingnuttia was all atwitter about--gasp--disaster VICTIMS "misspending" emergency funds (as if wingnuts should decide what's an appropriate purchase). Funny how they don't squawk even a little bit when it's an agency headed by one of their own...
Your Tax Dollars at Work

Mr. Straight Talk Express on how to play with house money.
Mission Accomplished

Oil closes at over $100 a barrel, which means that, finally, Shrub figured out how to make money in the oil business.

Interestingly, this might well be an unintentional instance of "compassionate conservativism" in action: the Gret Stet benefits from high oil prices, regardless of whether they're a function of the market or a consequence of idiotic foreign and energy policies (to be fair, there's probably a mix and match of all that...and more). In a similar vein, you probably saw the story in Pravda-Upon-Hudson about how foreclosed homes have become de facto homeless shelters.

Who knew they cared so much?
Team Bush: They Like to Watch

TPM accurately describes it as the Kafka Court (in other SCOTUS news, they--also unsurprisingly--sided with insurance companies re: the Federal Flood)...

You know, what's really shocking about these stories isn't that Team Bush or the Supremes are a bunch of egotistical, lying's that the public isn't outraged by them literally spitting in our eye (and then demanding our tax dollars). Not only do we not have standing compared to big insurance, we don't even have an expectation of privacy...and large swaths of the public don't seem to give a shit.

I dunno...maybe this IS the government we deserve...
The Decider Speaks

Re: Castro resigning:

"The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty."

This from the administraion that created the internment camps at Guantanamo.

Who says irony is dead?

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Will We Waterboard Next?

Alright Elsie, confess and we'll make it easy on you...

Talk about a slippery slope, from the worst of the worst, to the developmentally disabled to use as a business motivation tool and now we find out that freaking downer cattle are being subjected to waterboarding prior to, even worse, being put in the the market for human consumption. (from YRHT)

Only in a Bush administration...
Knowing This Administration...

...they'd have FEMA take care of this, based on their stellar record:

Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.

The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.
Bill Kristol's Burden

And then Bill lamented the difficulty of finding good, legal, documented, and affordable help these days:

Reading Kristol and other writers he assembles at the Weekly Standard is another of my embarrassing pleasures. I often get a glimpse of the mentality of Kipling, the thinker whose loftiest thoughts include the "white man’s burden" and the long recessional into the twilight in the defense of civilization and Empire. Sometimes it’s a glimpse of the Proper World, a view of European men in stiff white linens sitting on a veranda and discussing the Great Questions of the Day as they are served tea from a shining silver service by some dark-skinned houseboy. Or perhaps it’s the noble gallantry of the Light Brigade charging off to certain death. Or the humorous rough-and-tumble of Tommy Atkins, the soldier...

Kristol and Kipling are alas so much alike. But they differ in one fundamental respect. Kipling was a conservative, but he was not a party man. Kristol is little but a creature of his party...Kipling at least offered us poetry, but as Orwell noted, it was "good bad poetry."
Simply Stated

Krugman's right: poverty is poison.

L. B. J. declared his "War on Poverty" 44 years ago. Contrary to cynical legend, there actually was a large reduction in poverty over the next few years, especially among children, who saw their poverty rate fall from 23 percent in 1963 to 14 percent in 1969.

But progress stalled thereafter: American politics shifted to the right, attention shifted from the suffering of the poor to the alleged abuses of welfare queens driving Cadillacs, and the fight against poverty was largely abandoned.

In 2006, 17.4 percent of children in America lived below the poverty line, substantially more than in 1969. And even this measure probably understates the true depth of many children’s misery.

Living in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being cut off from the larger society. But the distance between the poor and the rest of us is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because most American incomes have risen in real terms while the official poverty line has not. To be poor in America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child’s brain.

America’s failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially among children, should provoke a lot of soul-searching. Unfortunately, what it often seems to provoke instead is great creativity in making excuses.

Some of these excuses take the form of assertions that America’s poor really aren’t all that poor -- a claim that always has me wondering whether those making it watched any TV during Hurricane Katrina, or for that matter have ever looked around them while visiting a major American city.