Friday, May 09, 2008

When Wingnut Nerds Attack

You know, I not surprised that someone whom, as best as I can tell, seems to be sort of a Peckerwood George Will, is furiously lisping about "the rules" in seeking to "catch" a non-existent Barack Obama "gaffe" during his speech Tuesday night.

Not that I expect this sort of stuff to really gain any traction, but typical of the "tell me what it is and I'll throw rocks at it, Sheriff" crowd are types like this Jack Kelly clown, who waxes triumphantly re: Obama's very stirring--and, hey idiot, RHETORICAL allusion to former presidents who at times chose diplomacy over destruction. Duh.

And while yeah, the Soviet Union was nominally allied with the United States during World War II, it was quite apparent to all concerned that this arrangement was the ultimate marriage of convenience...and it's also apparent to anyone who's read a history book that the United States opposed the Soviets to the point of actually undertaking an unsuccessful military intervention in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, leading to a break in relations for some dozen years and rather chilly diplomatic ties thereafter (see War, Cold).

As for the Yalta and Potsdam agreements that wingers of an earlier era are so quick to condemn, well, that's again called DIPLOMACY. No, it wasn't pleasant to cede political control over territory the Soviet Union OCCUPIED, but the occupation generated its own imperatives...Kelly, from the highly advantageous position of hindsight, seems to think an immediate World War III, i.e., several million MORE casualties, was the preferred order of business.

Just as he implies that nukulur combat, toe-to-toe with the Ruskies would have been JFK's preferred option.

You know, Kelly seems to have that chickenhawk smell...I checked around, but could find no biographical info on him...but he certainly looks old enough to have ducked and dodged when it was his turn, even though, from the comfort of his easy chair, there's not a shooting war he doesn't endorse.

"I Do Not Lightly Dismiss the Dangers and the Difficulties of Challenging an Incumbent President. But These are not Ordinary Times and This is not an Ordinary Election. At Stake is not Simply the Leadership of our Party and Even Our Country. It is Our Right to the Moral Leadership of this Planet."

For those with the time, here is a long but fascinating excerpt from a forthcoming book about Robert Kennedy and the 1968 campaign. Without a doubt there are some stunning parallels to this election 40 years later...and yet, there are some odd differences. Some of these differences I can recall, although it's more like remembering them from a movie...things like airplane seats with built-in ashtrays, or big old honking land yachts like the 1968 Chrysler Newport pictured above.

Then there are things I don't remember, like political candidates NOT surrounded by security forces at all times, or traveling in a 1968 Chrysler Newport with the top down and crammed to the gills with people. I mean, geez, not even Ron Paul could get away with that--if nothing else, they'd pull him over for violating the seatbelt laws...

In addition to the book excerpt, VF has a photo slideshow that again serves to remind how fast time flies even as it measures barely a drop in the bucket...
Featuring Big Time as Grumpy

From the "you've gotta be shitting me" files--it's not enough for Dick to turn Baghdad into the mother of all hellholes...but for added perversity, he's touting a planned amusement park.

You've got to wonder--either Dick's really losing his marbles, or maybe he's so jaded that it's become a matter of just how bizarre a project he or his neo-con buddies can conjure up for the sole purpose of bilking billions of taxpayer dollars. A fucking amusement park? Geez: Cheney can't even provide electricity, plumbing, and potable water, not to mention a measure of public safety.

And that's a big-time reason why anyone with more than a few functioning brain cells (which excludes the media and most self-identified Republicans) have had it with this administration and the little boy McCain who promises more of the same.

Amusement know, Dick's just the sort of person who probably gets a perverse thrill from the destruction he's unleased in Iraq...provided, of course, he never has to put his fat ass on the firing line.
Mission Accomplished

Ever wonder what sort of person would drive miles out of their way to save a few pennies at the gas pump?

More seriously, the price of oil rose to $126 dollars a barrel, which is a double-edged sword here in the Gret Stet. Increased prices mean increased government revenue, but that's bound to be offset by the big pinch everyone's going to feel as more of their money is burned off at the gas pump.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Professional Courtesy?

The Senate Ethics Committee doesn't see anything wrong with Vitty's whoremongering.
Soft on Terror

So much for the all out war on seems THAT highway has a major intersection with Nuance Alley:

...the man being honored by 500 fellow Cuban Americans at a sold-out gala was Luis Posada Carriles, the former CIA operative wanted in Venezuela on terrorism charges and under a deportation order for illegally entering the United States three years ago.

It's not as if the rest of the world doesn't notice this double standard...
Blast Wall, Gated Community...What's the Diff?

Well, I suppose this does offer some insight into the particularly twisted wingnut brain of Max Boot.
Desperately Seeking Sister Souljah

"You sure "wide" is the correct word?"

From First Draft...

Thanks for choosing slash and burn as your preferred method of egress, Senator Clinton. I think I'm beginning to see why so many Rethugs have a certain grudging admiration for you...
Disappointing But Unfortunately Not Surprising

Shrub the deadbeat president has pretty much ignored southwest Louisiana which was devastated by Hurricane Rita. Via the Daily Kingfish is this photo essay from MyDD.

A few weeks ago Bush marked the anniversary of a tornado devastating a small Kansas community by giving a commencement speech and praising the rebuilding efforts...and good for them. Now imagine hundreds of tornados, not just one, arriving at the same time, flattening not just one small town, but an entire region. That was Hurricane Rita...that was Hurricane Katrina with the added horror of poorly built floodwalls and levees failing in New Orleans.

And George Bush's reaction turn his back on it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

So, Where's the Money Going, Then?

I keep wondering when someone will point out the anomoly of the US Military budget being at an all time high both in real dollars and as a percentage of GDP...yet soldiers have to live in barracks that are, to put it bluntly, shitholes, equipment is out of date, they have to worry about being electrocuted in the shower when on deployment...oh, and the military budget doesn't even cover the cost of war, which is dealt with in "supplemental" appropriations.

Yet no one seems to give a hot damn.

Does anyone really think we could actually win a war if we can't properly equip, house, and otherwise care for our soldiers in spite of having the sort of budgetary leeway that King Midas would envy?
"American Values"--Coach Buzzcut's 'Interpretation'

Just as there are caucasians who don't mind racial equality as long as it's predicated on white supremecy, so it goes with those who spew rhetorical bile at the mere thought of any disrespect towards the American flag, except for when they're too busy defiling someone else's:

TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- A high school student says he may file a lawsuit against a physical education teacher who took a Mexican flag he had brought for Cinco de Mayo and put it in the garbage...

Camelo said he was changing into gym clothes at Minico High School in Rupert when Straatman told him, "Give me the flag."

"I said, 'What's the problem?'" Camelo, speaking in Spanish, told The Times-News of Twin Falls. "He said, 'The problem is that we are in the United States and not in Mexico.' He grabbed it from me. He threw the flag in the garbage can."

Camelo said that Straatman told him the flag would be returned at the end of the school day, but that Straatman taunted him instead.

"I asked, 'Where is my flag?'" Camelo said. "He said, 'What, the U.S. flag?' I said, 'No, the one for Mexico.' But he wouldn't give it to me."

Camelo said he then took the undamaged flag out of the garbage. He said he's been contacted by the American Civil Liberties Union and is considering a lawsuit against Straatman.

Camelo and others brought Mexican flags to the south-central Idaho school to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the May 5 recognition of Mexico's victory over the French army on that day in 1862. About a third of the student body is Hispanic.

Now, I'll be fair: Straatman--as Bill Hicks said about Officer Koon, is life too fucking weird or what?--anyway, Straatman says it's a misunderstanding based at least in part on a language barrier, that he confiscated it in the interest of safety, and that the can was the only storage place available...well, that last one's a bit of a stretch--no suitable a school? Hmmm...color me more than a little skeptical on THAT point.

OK, I still want to presume the innocence of Mr. Straatman, but nonetheless it appears that this could well be yet another example of the kind of cultural bigotry that demands respect for our values while at best demonstrating depraved indifference if not downright hostility towards others...
"It's Those 'Fast-Twitch' Muscles of His"

Sadly, I won't be surprised if the next dungbombs emanating from Camp Clinton, wingnuttia, and/or the media furies will be things like, "well, [Obama's] an instinctually good politician" or "he's got great natural ability" "but can he really 'manage' the nuts and bolts business of being president?" or other similar, highly insulting, and, yes, RACIST tripe I usually read or hear in sports journalism reports on black athletes.

Funny, but I don't recall EVER seeing a sports report suggesting that a particular black athlete might have attained his or her success by, oh, I don't know, maybe WORKING HARDER than anyone else, both mentally and physically...nope, it's always a matter of "natural" talent, just as, say, Peyton Manning's football success is attributed to "superior game management" and not at least in part because he's 6'5" and, oh, I don't know, I guess around 230 pounds (that said, I'd also guess Manning works as hard as any professional athlete to maintain his condition).

I dunno, maybe that's a good sign, in the sense that it's might be all that's left in their bag of dirty tricks--a flat out appeal to the basest of racist instincts, no pun intended, on the part of good old caucasians, who manage, without batting an eye, to maintain the ultimate contradictory position of demanding race-neutrality...provided that "neutrality" is rooted in, well, ad hoc white supremecy. Hence, the truly ridiculous notion that Obama needs to be "grateful" to the benevolent white benefactors who, in the spirit of "generosity," "allow" him to run and even take him seriously...provided he doesn't, you know, go all Jesse Jackson or Jeremiah Wright on "us".

Because then he'd be just another Kordell Stewart.

Taking a quick break from the usual I came across this interesting article while browsing:

This is the Crow Patrol of utility company Kyushu Electric Power, on the hunt for crows whose nests on electric poles have caused a string of blackouts in this city of a half-million on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

Blackouts are just one of the problems caused by an explosion in Japan’s population of crows, which have grown so numerous that they seem to compete with humans for space in this crowded nation. Communities are scrambling to find ways to relocate or reduce their crow populations, as ever larger flocks of loud, ominous birds have taken over parks and nature reserves, frightening away residents.

It is a scourge straight out of Hitchcock, and the crows here look and act the part. With wing spans up to a yard and intimidating black beaks and sharp claws, Japan’s crows are bigger, more aggressive and downright scarier than those usually seen in North America.

Attacks, though rare, do happen. Hungry crows have bloodied the faces of children while trying to steal candy from their hands. Crows have even carried away baby prairie dogs and ducklings from Tokyo zoos, city officials said.


Behind the rise, experts and officials say, has been the growing abundance of garbage, a product of Japan’s embrace of more wasteful Western lifestyles. This has created an orgy of eating for crows, which are scavengers. Some steps taken to reduce crows include putting garbage into yellow plastic bags, a color the birds supposedly cannot see through, and covering trash with fine-mesh netting, to prevent large beaks from reaching the goodies within.

Still, the crows have proven clever at foiling human efforts to control them. In Kagoshima, they are even trying to outsmart the Crow Patrol. The birds have begun building dummy nests as decoys to draw patrol members away from their real nests.

One thing I actually miss about Madison are the crows, which fortunately weren't a nuisance, but instead a mild amusement. I remember once watching one trying to walk on the frozen but thawing Lake Mendota, slipping this way and that while cawing loudly. At times I'd also watch one or more from a fifth floor office window where I worked. They'd perch at the top of a building across the street and periodically do this sort of dive bomber manuever--I guess something shiny at ground level would catch their eye.

And I hear they're pretty smart, as birds go.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Amos 'n' Andy 'n' Glenn

What an absolute embarrassment
. I realize Glenn Beck has even less than zero talent and/or taste, but this is ridiculous.

Lowest common denominator...on steriods.

Just as bad is a press corpse that doesn't even bother to call her on it.
Not Exactly Bread and Circuses

Sadly, No has more on your Hillary Clinton gas tax holiday.

To repeat with a little more emphasis something I mentioned in a previous post: I'm WILLING to spend $30--not $30 a month, or $30 a week, or a day, no $30 TOTAL, in exchange for road improvement and/or construction projects that additionally EMPLOY a fair number of "working class" people Hillary suddenly purports to care for. And while I'd personally prefer to see public transit like inter or intra-urban rail, I'll (grudgingly but willingly) compromise--in exchange for my $30, I get a pretty good deal, that is, better roads, plus more people in my community who work, spend money on goods and services, etc., which is a good thing.

Veering slightly off topic here--you know, just as the religios whackos had their day in the sun (which the rest of us know as the Dark Ages), the anti-tax zealots likewise have many examples of their preferred system, which the rest of us know as Third World or underdeveloped countries. Most have remarkably low levels of taxation and extremely "business-friendly" government policies.

Let's see how long the anti-tax zealots could stand it...and no, I don't mean doing the tourist stuff. I mean actually living in an underdeveloped country for a while...
Time to Make the Doughnuts...

Sorry for the late start--had an a.m. meeting and was a little busy.

Al Giordano lays out the drill here and I guess I should do a h/t Eschaton, you know, just because.

A long time ago I used to find the process interesting enough that it factored into my decision to major in political science (though my focus ended up being international relations). These days, it's little more than a quadrennial boost in otherwise moribund local economies while managing the lawyerly trick of speaking volumes but saying little.

Back in a bit...

Monday, May 05, 2008

To a NeoCon, is the Bucket of Blood Half Full or Half Empty?

Actually, as long as it's not THEIR blood, they don't really give a shit...

Bunch of damned chickenhawks.
Diamond Crude

So much for the penny or nickel break in price of late--oil is at $120 dollars a barrel, and $4 dollar a gallon gasoline is no longer a joke, Mr. Bush.

And the summer "driving season" hasn't yet begun.

One more thing: Hillary Clinton really displays her contempt for the voting public when she pushes for a whopping 18 cent a gallon discount...that's a pretty small drop in a pretty big bucket, and the people who'd lose their jobs as a result are precisely those whom she purports to speak for these days. No wonder the Rethuglicans want to make her one of their own.
Fantasy Lunacy Island

Unbelievable. The Bush administration, which can't fix New Orleans, which can't fix the Gulf Coast, couldn't be bothered with a plan for postwar Iraq, an administration so dedicated to shoddy privitization that American soldiers are getting electrocuted as the result of piss poor electrical engineering...wants to sink billions of dollars into some sort of "fun zone" in and around the boondoggle US Fortress Embassy.

They couldn't even build a decent structure for an Iraqi police academy.

They really do think we're suckers.
Reading the Tea Leaves

Rethuglicans sling excuses post-election much the same way they fling mud prior--throw early, often, and scattershot, hope something sticks, then turn it into the narrative. Hence, Bernie Piss-an-ant's "analysis," which is little more than spin.

Pinsonant lines up the usual excuses like little toy soldiers--low turnout, Cazayoux was the most conservative Democrat, he ran against Woody "Behold-my-Plastic-Fetus" Jenkins, it was just a special election and now he's got to win the general come November, etc. etc., excuses that, funny enough, never get trotted out when, say, a Republican takes advantage of unusual circumstances and low voter turnout to get elected (e.g., a certain Austrian-American California governator).

When Democrats win elections, some spin-dick like Pinsonant will ALWAYS play concern troll, insisting to all within earshot that one mustn't read too much into the results and that said Democrat "must be careful," lest they be labeled a "Nancy (Pelosi) boy" or worse.

And, you know what--Bernie's free to spin that, but it'd be nice if the media, for once, labeled it as the propaganda it is: Bernie's "wisdom," as far as anyone can determine, is of the "pulled from his ass", sure, Cazayoux's a conservative Democrat--duh--and Woody Jenkins is just plain batshit insane, but the fact is, all the unusual circumstances noted, that this election, like so many others over the last thirty years or so, was quite conventional, at least by the standards we've managed to sink to.

The Democratic candidates spoke about genuine issues; Republicans engaged in the black arts of fearmongering and invective. Jenkins, the GOP, and various fellow travellers conjured all the usual smears, truth be damned...and when that failed, they even resorted to illegal and fraudulent eleventh hour desperation tactics.

Again, special circumstances noted, maybe, just maybe, the public is sick and tired of the crap: self-proclaimed moralists proudly and unashamedly engaging in little more than inane mud-slinging and a time when people have real, genuine concerns. Maybe, just maybe, they've seen, from George W. Bush on down, and including the so-called "analysts" like Pinsonant, the pure political rot, the sheer cynicism, and the utter lack of concern for the larger public that lies at the essence of the GOP...and maybe they've decided enough is enough. No, that doesn't mean there's going to be a run on used VW vans in the 6th District...but it might well mean that the Rethuglican tactic of reliance on trivialities pushed like so much political crack cocaine from themselves and their operatives is beginning to wear thin for an electorate that can't afford playtime politics anymore...