Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday "What I Found on You Tube" Post

Rudie he can't fail...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Expert Analysis

So the spin from the Spinning Chimp himself is that the latest meltdown in the hellhole that was formerly Iraq is actually a "defining moment"--no doubt part of their "successful" strategy to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein, electricity, and indoor plumbing.

And Shrub should know, given his history of august pronouncements--(pictures were inspired by a post on this website)

Another Science Post

Yes, my inner geek finds this fascinating:

For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words "Mary had a little lamb" on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison's invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades.

The 10-second recording of a singer crooning the folk song "Au Clair de la Lune" was discovered earlier this month in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. It was made, the researchers say, on April 9, 1860, on a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. But the phonautograph recording, or phonautogram, was made playable -- converted from squiggles on paper to sound -- by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.
Meet the Press

At the tail end of this post from Hullabaloo is the following:

A responsible media would be churning out story after story about the breathtaking state of lawlessness inside the White House, viewing it in historical context and talking about the pall they've cast over our nation.

Unfortunately, at just the time in our history when a responsible press corps is most needed, the epitome of our Fourth Estate is...Tim Russert. And that's enough to depress anyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well, He's Certainly No Marshall Dillon

So much for the Nouri's 72-hour line-in-the-sand ultimatum:

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias -- who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade -- would not stop at mere insurrection.

The surge must be succeeding beyond anyone's wildest imagination.
An Armchair General in the Thick of It


What is so deranged about the Kagans and O'Hanlons and the like is that they don't perceive themselves as "war cheerleaders" at all. They have convinced themselves that they are the real warriors, doing the actual fighting. Here's what Fred Kagan said at the AEI event:
It will be some time before the Iraqi Security Forces are able to ensure the security of the country against Al Qaeda, particularly to ensure that Al Qaeda is not able to establish safe havens anywhere in the country That will be some time. And we've got some fighting ahead of us.

"We've got some fighting ahead of us," says this brave, swaggering war hero. Then, towards the end of his presentation, with Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack waiting for their turn to shower us all with their brilliant Iraq expertise, Kagan said that he wanted to make one last point "before I turn it over to my brothers from Brookings." They're brothers in combat.

His war buddy alongside him in the trenches, Mike O'Hanlon, then proclaimed them all -- "Fred and Ken" -- to be "Lombardis of this war," after the football coach Vince Lombardi, renown for his will to win: "they stuck with it, and they persevered through difficult times," tough guy O'Hanlon bellowed. They're really as obscene and self-deluded as they are ignorant and continuously wrong.
Wingnut Welfare Private Sector Efficiency

You've probably seen Jude's post about this at First Draft already...about all I'll add is consider how sociopathic a mindset it takes to, on the one hand, drop $300 million down like pocket change on this bit of wingnut welfare while at the same time whining about "wasteful" spending on things like children's health insurance...or veteran's care...or even military pay raises.

Wingnuts never admit it, but the plain fact is that they're NOT in favor of less government spending. They're only in favor of less government spending on things like education, health care, internal improvements, and other investments in America. They're just fine with spending hundreds of millions of dollars on what really amounts to wingnut paper pushing.
Another Public Tantrum From President Pissy-Pants

As recent events make it clear just how wafer thin the veneer of "the surge was successful" really was and is, and as we're STILL in a stuck without a single option that could be remotely described as good, the boy-president wasted no time in...lashing out at Congress while surrounded by a military he presumably regards as personal toy soldiers.

Unbelievable--even more amazing, the media reports this with a straight face, as if Shrub has ANY credibility. Jeez--I'm convinced that the Bush administration could serve them shit sandwiches in the White House press room, and they'd wolf them down without once commenting on the taste.

You know, it's easy to get caught up in the ever more rapid news cycle, but (h/t Dangerblond) if you want to gain a real perspective on just how badly things have become in Mesopotamia, take a good look at this Frontline series...and then read the recent Iraq news. And then consider that millions of Iraqis don't just read about this, but have to live through it every day...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And War Really IS Peace...

I takes Soviet Union-style media contortionism to somehow twist this out:

Pentagon Says New Iraq Fighting Arises From Surge's Success

Must be that "catastrophic success" Shrub spoke about a while back.
Wednesday Science Blogging

Degu Gothic

Yet another example where the old saying about humans still having, evolutionary speaking, "one hand in the tree," might be giving us a little TOO much credit...instead, you could make the argument that we aren't much more than rodents with shoes:

Degus are highly social, intelligent rodents native to the highlands of Chile. They adorn the openings of their burrows with piles of sticks and stones, have bubbly personalities and like to play games.

But in a laboratory setting, degus can do much more than play hide-and-seek, according to a study in the online journal Plos One ( They can learn to use tools.

Specifically, degus have been trained to reach through a fence, grab hold of a tiny rake and pull their favorite food, half a peeled sunflower seed, close enough to reach with their mouths. After two months of practice, researchers say, the degus can move the rake as smoothly and efficiently as croupiers in any Las Vegas casino.

Nothing on whether they manage to bully their way into the presidency then lie a country into an unwinnable war...but maybe that just means we humans aren't quite as advanced as we think...
Strictly Business, Nothing Personal

Compassionate Conservativism, an ongoing series:

Eight years ago, [Debbie] Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.

Two years after the accident, Shank and her husband, Jim, were awarded about $1 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company involved in the crash. After legal fees were paid, $417,000 was placed in a trust to pay for Debbie Shank's long-term care.

Wal-Mart had paid out about $470,000 for Shank's medical expenses and later sued for the same amount. However, the court ruled it can only recoup what is left in the family's trust.

The Shanks didn't notice in the fine print of Wal-Mart's health plan policy that the company has the right to recoup medical expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit...

The family's attorney, Maurice Graham, said he informed Wal-Mart about the settlement and believed the Shanks would be allowed to keep the money.

"We assumed after three years, they [Wal-Mart] had made a decision to let Debbie Shank use this money for what it was intended to," Graham said.

The Shanks lost their suit to Wal-Mart. Last summer, the couple appealed the ruling -- but also lost it. One week later, their son was killed in Iraq.

"They are quite within their rights. But I just wonder if they need it that bad," Jim Shank said.

In 2007, the retail giant reported net sales in the third quarter of $90 billion.

Legal or not, CNN asked Wal-Mart why the company pursued the money.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, who called Debbie Shank's case "unbelievably sad," replied in a statement: "Wal-Mart's plan is bound by very specific rules. ... We wish it could be more flexible in Mrs. Shank's case since her circumstances are clearly extraordinary, but this is done out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan."

The family's situation is so dire that last year Jim Shank divorced Debbie, so she could receive more money from Medicaid.

Jim Shank, 54, is recovering from prostate cancer, works two jobs and struggles to pay the bills. He's afraid he won't be able to send their youngest son to college and pay for his and Debbie's care.

"Who needs the money more? A disabled lady in a wheelchair with no future, whatsoever, or does Wal-Mart need $90 billion, plus $200,000?" he asked.

The family's attorney agrees.

"The recovery that Debbie Shank made was recovery for future lost earnings, for her pain and suffering," Graham said.

"She'll never be able to work again. Never have a relationship with her husband or children again. The damage she recovered was for much more than just medical expenses."

Graham said he believes Wal-Mart should be entitled to only about $100,000. Right now, about $277,000 remains in the trust -- far short of the $470,000 Wal-Mart wants back.

Refusing to give up the fight, the Shanks appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But just last week, the high court said it would not hear the case.

Graham said the Shanks have exhausted all their resources and there's nothing more they can do but go on with their lives...

Jim Shank said he's disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case -- not for the sake of his family -- but for those who might face similar circumstances.

For now, he said the family will figure out a way to get by and "do the best we can for Debbie."

"Luckily, she's oblivious to everything," he said. "We don't tell her
what's going on because it will just upset her."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Making the Deal

Original here, and I guess I'll send some of my double-digit traffic Atrios' way, where I saw the story.
Running a Fever

And yes, I'm aware that this has been quite the long winter for a lot of people (it's even been a little colder than usual here in the Gret Stet), but I'm sure anyone stopping by knows the difference between weather and climate. Anyway, here's yet another warning sign that we can heed...or ignore.

The sad thing is I'm certain the costs of heeding right now are surprisingly low, and indeed, might well be the basis of a growth industry...but wingnuts don't understand the concept of investing, only spending. Well, as the saying goes, you can pay now, or pay later...and if you wait, it ain't gonna be cheap.
Dick's Off His Meds Again

Shouldn't ANY communication with Dick be prefaced by making it very clear to him that he's easily one of the most despised individuals on the planet, right up there with his good buddy Osama? And it's not like he hasn't earned it--the mix and match of pure evil, pure stupid, and pure incompetence, combined with Junior's nominal occupation of the throne, is as close to a perfect political shitstorm as there ever was. Cheney shouldn't be held in any sort of awe, or even feared: he's a vicious, incompetent, well, dick.

He'd better pray there's no afterlife as he reaches the end of his earthly span. The ninth circle would almost qualify as a political pardon.
At Last--A Black Candidate Who's "Acceptable" to the GOP and the Media

Meet Clayton Bigsby.
End Game?

So, having rested and presumably re-supplied, Muqtada Al-Sadr's militia flexed its muscles today in what any rational analysis (thus, excluding the US media) would consider an ominous sign and further proof that Team Bush's Iraq "policy" has consisted of fracturing the country, killing tens of thousands of Iraqis when not humiliating or insulting them, and forcing millions more into exile, as prelude to what's bound to be an exceedingly ugly civil war. But, not being content with mere passive facilitation of the upcoming conflict, Team Bush has armed the erstwhile Sunni insurgency to the teeth, in addition to paying them...all in an attempt to keep the band-aid attached to the gaping, gushing wound long enough to pass it on to the next administration.

Wow--that really IS hard work.

Of course, on the flip side, I keep having to remind myself that Bush's wingnut base is probably incapable of locating Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or even the Middle East on a map...and, if we actually had a media composed of journalists, as opposed to simpering sacks of shit like Tim Russert, such ignorance would be gut-laughed right out of any semblence of political viability. But instead, we're treated to the specter of "Obama: just how black and angry is he, REALLY?"

You know, Team Bush--and his media idiotwhores--really have managed to drive the car a long way down Stupid Lane. I'm beginning to wonder...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Trying to Redefine the Foot Race

This amounts to grasping at straws on the part of the Clinton campaign, particularly given that I remember Hillary herself suggesting after the Gore travesty that maybe we oughta deservedly chunk the Electoral College into the proverbial dustbin as a ridiculous artifact of history.

For what it's worth, I can't think of another issue on which I agreed so wholeheartedly with Ms. Clinton. And, at the time I considered it a very courageous stance on her part. The Electoral College, and the whole Rube Goldberg nominating process, are as ridiculous as the three fifths clause...about the only thing to come out of such an anachronism is continued inequality of votes, which contribute to the preservation of power for various yahoos, lunatics, and local poo-bahs. I guess it also provides a minor economic bump every four years, and then there's a rather small number of political scientists generating temporary employment out of the whole mess.

It's long since time to dump both the Electoral College and the ridiculous nominating process--have either a national, or, at the very least, series of maybe four regional primaries, followed by a general election based on VOTES (what the hell is "popular" vote anyway, besides an obscenely undemocratic description of the electorate). If you want to preserve tradition, help the rebuilding of New Orleans...
Body Language

Shrub shrugs. You know, he can knit his brow and blather as much as he wants, but something I've noticed about the Chimperor for a long time is that his body language invariably gives the game away. Watch him at a press conference--when he dissembles, it's a virtual certainty that he'll cast his gaze downwards while shaking his head.

His shrug speaks volumes--it's his reaction to 4,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq. It's the flip side of Dick Big Time's "so?" when asked about the the American public's opposition to their Operation Enduring Clusterfuck. It's the reaction of someone who doesn't give the slightest shit about the nightmare he's unleashed, because, after all, in less than a year it won't be his problem. Indeed he and the crowd he slithers with will work overtime ("hard work") to blame his successor for "failing" after such a phenomenally "successful" surge.

It's the reaction of someone who, at heart, is a juvenile...someone who just doesn't get it.
World Tour

Lon Cheney John McCain and his "wingman" Quasimojoe.
The Double-Wide of Manufactured Crises

Kristol's latest spew is just one of a series of wingnut measures attempting to define the election downward until "choice" becomes something gutteral, or beneath logic.

And it's not like they haven't had a history of this sort of behavior, from the Southern Strategy to "strapping young bucks buying T-Bones with their Food Stamps" to Philadelphia, Mississippi to Cadillac driving welfare queens to Willie Horton...with the odd detour or two depending on particular circumstances.

Indeed, Reverend Wright--a United States Marine--has managed to land the at the very top perch of a particular wingnut's list of "n******s" (see Greenwald's penultimate post)--I'm surprised said winger didn't include Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, but 'nuts having a hissy fit aren't exactly cool-headed...forty years ago no doubt the list would've included Muhammed Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr., and perhaps a reference to the late Malcolm X and how he should be blamed for his own assassination. But the point here is that this is merely another version of Swift Boating, in this case reaching for the smelling salts and loudly sighing/falling on the fainting couch over a non-issue.

If Reverend Wright were white, it would all be alright. Anyone trying to argue otherwise is blowing smoke, and ultimately making a racist appeal. Period. End of story. And far from being the wrong time to examine race in America, now is as good a time as ever. Because the real fact is that wingers like Kristol, in insisting that "now's not the time" are in reality asserting that "it will never be the time," and are instead hoping to maintain THEIR policy of denial and cover-up of a significant issue...and if they can keep THAT from being discussed, imagine what else they can push aside with a "not now" wave of the hand...issues like a disastrous war...or a city surviving despite being actively abandoned by the federal government (a majority black city, by the way).

Now IS the time. And they don't have a defense for their racism...which is why they're so desperately trying to avoid the subject, even as they make it a pillar of their effort to defeat Barack Obama.