Friday, December 05, 2008

Sick Day

Sorry to beg off, but I'm feeling about as lousy as it gets--aches, pains, chills.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Time to Pack Away the Prop

Maybe they can recycle it in a few years for the suckers.
Tossing His Salad, Um, Hat Into the Ring
From 2Millionth Web Log

TPM says Vitty's going to try to hold on to
Maybe It's Actually a 'War is Peace' Award
From 2Millionth Web Log

Pastor Rick Warren: Well, the Peace Award was not about peace in domestic -- or foreign policy.

Sort of like screwing for chastity...
Cheeto Presidency

I'm a little busy this morning, so this is what I posted at First Draft:

I know that pretzels are more Shrub's speed, but hear me out as I make the case for the Cheeto as the apt metaphor for this administration.

You start with that most native of cereals, corn...and then you process it, puff it full of air and god knows what else, extrude it through what must be some sort of Frankenstein monster of a machine, and top it off with a West Texas sized dusting of powdered cheese food product.

Calories don't get any emptier than that.

As this administration stumbles to an end that's so James Buchananesque in the mess that it leaves for its successor, it's opted for the very Rovian (and I hear Rove is playing his part) tactic of spin, spin, spin (or spin, baby, spin, if you prefer.) A series of exit-interviews are underway, a final attempt from Team Bush to convince the public that eight years of pure bullshit is actually tasty Shinola--mmmm--a floor wax AND a dessert topping. No, really!

Except...there's just no way of hiding the innate shallowness of the little man. As I've said before, a perfect storm of New England blue blood arrogance and ugly Redneck aggressive ignorance. The kind of person, who, charged with making critical decisions during an severe economic crisis, focuses like a laser on...Ben Bernanke's tan socks.

Years ago, Shrub was tagged the Texas Souffle, another case of empty calories and mostly puffed air--but to me that implies, if not actual sweetness, a lightness that's incompatible with a legacy of torture, the stovepiping of intelligence to suit bloody, ugly aims, the subversion of the constitution, and a casual cruelty mixed with sheer incompetence when it came to actually governing. No, souffle is both too forgiving...and perhaps even too substantial.

I nominate the Cheeto. Salty, empty, dusty. The very essence of junk food, for the very essence of a junk presidency.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Feeling Very Vice-Presidential
From 2Millionth Web Log

Sorry for the slow post Wednesday. I was feeling a bit under the weather and am at home...that said, I WAS feeling well enough to take care of some long overdue shredding of paper waste, as you can see above (actual shredder, although the document is merely simulated.)

A number of years ago, I was a genuine identity theft victim, and let me tell you, it's no fun: by the time I realized what happened, my "debt" was being held by a collection agency...they wouldn't even tell me what it was until, with the help of a lawyer friend, I threatened to sue them. And, for years, I was perhaps the only sentient citizen of the United States who couldn't get a credit card.

So...I shred pretty much ANYTHING that has my name, address, and/or account number. And I'd encourage everyone else to do the same. I'm also thinking of buying a chimnea just to be even safer. usual, I got behind on this ongoing project...and the bags, boxes, and piles got WAY out of control. Finally, at this late date, I've become dedicated to correcting this.

Funny enough, I'm going to bet that the outgoing administration, particularly Fourth Branch, might well be working overtime with the shredders themselves. What a coincidence.

So, to keep myself company, I've been trying to imagine what Dick might say--between gutteral yet unintelligible grunts. Everything from "I appreciate your apology, Harry...but don't let it happen again," to "why don't you go fuck yourself, Senator Leahy" to my personal favorite, "I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it would incriminate me." Oh, and a few others.

Tigger's reaction has been a mix and match of fear, loathing, and a bit of anxiety, so I think I've got it pretty close.

Catch up with y'all tomorrow.
General Kristol Declares Victory in Iraq--Correction to Follow
From 2Millionth Web Log

I expect Bill will be putting in for a Medal of Freedom, if not Honor, before too long. Because I'm sure he feels entitled.
Rugged Individualism
From 2Millionth Web Log

Several posts/threads today, beginning with Athenae's, touch at least in part on mythology that's at the core of wingnut 'philosophy.' The posts at First Draft, Pandagon, and Hullabaloo focus on racist code and false piety; I'd like to note a few things about phony individualism...starting with the fact that, no matter HOW rural you are in this country, once you hop in the F-150, Ram, or Silverado, and head down to the local Exxon/Mobil, BP, Sunoco, Texaco, etc., (as often as not these days combined with a 7-Eleven, Circle-K, Taco Bell, and, here in Loosiana, video poker), you're no longer going solo. You've stepped right up to the global marketplace, with ALL that it entails.

In fact, you don't even have to hop in the truck--if your home is wired for electricity, you're already a participant.

Many of these rugged individualists have also benefited from significant government subsidies throughout their lives, from free primary public education (and heavily subsidized secondary public education) to tax breaks (or more) if they own property...government also makes significant internal improvements that enhance the value of property (if not water and sewer, then expansion of the electrical grid.)

The truth is that the United States, like it or not, is a mature and complex nation state. The idea that somehow everything would be "better" with "smaller government" is sheer nonsense and in fact is itself code for "keep the minorities in their place."

Smaller government is particularly nonsensical when you're discussing multi-trillion dollar bailouts.

And mythology is for people who can't handle reality.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

George W. Nixon

The comparisons begin.
Our Fate is Your Fate

Although one major difference is that the auto industry wasn't victim of poorly built floodwalls and levees. Still...
No Need for an Intel Budget...
From 2Millionth Web Log

...Kentucky's Homeland Security Office chooses to rely on foreknowledge.

From First Draft.
Political Devolution
From 2Millionth Web Log



Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That's why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama's relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.

And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come. There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes.

I'd only add that trying to reason or compromise with them is almost impossible--now, Obama might be able to pull it off--if anyone can it would be him--but I'm skeptical. We'll see, I guess.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Keeping Up Appearanes

FEMA stays true to its reputation:

A 30-mile scar of debris along the Texas coast stands as a festering testament to what state and local officials say is FEMA's sluggish response to the 2008 hurricane season.

Two and a half months after Hurricane Ike blasted the shoreline, alligators and snakes crawl over vast piles of shattered building materials, lawn furniture, trees, boats, tanks of butane and other hazardous substances, thousands of animal carcasses, perhaps even the corpses of people killed by the storm.

State and local officials complain that the removal of the filth has gone almost nowhere because FEMA red tape has held up both the cleanup work and the release of the millions of dollars that Chambers County says it needs to pay for the project.

Heckuva job.
Icebergs, Schmeisbergs...
From 2Millionth Web Log

Full steam ahead for the SS Shrub Mother of All Trainwrecks (mixing some metaphors):

More than three years ago, bank regulators "proposed new guidelines for banks writing risky loans," and looking over the proposals -- "banks would have been required to increase efforts to verify that buyers actually had jobs and could afford houses," and "regulators proposed a cap on risky mortgages so a string of defaults wouldn't be crippling" -- it's easy to see how regulations could have prevented the worst.

The Bush administration, in other words, was told what it had to do to prevent a disaster. Instead, it eventually issued a "Guidance on Nontraditional Mortgages," which was little more than a list of suggestions, and left the dangerous practices in place.

Yglesias' summary was spot-on: "Bush was specifically and repeatedly warned about the need to take regulatory action to avoid a financial system meltdown, and chose to ignore those warnings because he's a really bad president. Thanks to his indifference, incompetence, or perhaps malice, millions of people will wind up losing their jobs and suffering dire consequences."

Bush's record when it comes to disregarding warnings is right up there on the list of his most humiliating failures, isn't it? When warned that bin Laden is "determined to strike" inside the United States, the president humored the intelligence official and told him, "You've covered your ass, now." When warned that a hurricane was poised to destroy New Orleans, the president was satisfied that FEMA would handle the crisis. When warned about a looming financial crisis, Bush's White House paid more attention to the banks that told the president not to worry.

It's quite a track record.
The Delphic Pud
From 2Millionth Web Log

Trying to distill the essence of George W. Bush's particular shallowness is, well, hard instead, I'll just cite some direct quotes and let you, the reader, come to your own conclusions:

"I'm sorry [the financial crisis is] happening, of course. Obviously I don't like the idea of people losing jobs, or being worried about their 401(k)s. On the other hand, the American people got to know that we will safeguard the system. I mean, we're in. And if we need to be in more, we will."


"A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein...That's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."


Asked if he would have ordered the U.S.-led invasion if intelligence reports had accurately indicated that Saddam did not have the weapons, Bush replied: "You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate."


"I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so" before he became president.


"It is hard for the average citizen to understand how frozen the system became and how over-leveraged the system became," Bush said. "And so what we're watching is the de-leveraging of our financial markets, which is obviously affecting the growth of the economy."


"This economy will recover," Bush said in the interview conducted last Wednesday at the Camp David, Md., presidential retreat. "And when it recovers, many of the assets backed by the government now will be redeemed, and we will — could conceivably — make money off of some of the holdings."

Later in the interview, he said: "I can't guarantee that we'll get all our money back, but it's conceivable we could."

Too bad we can't get the last eight years back.
Eurasia is the Enemy. Eurasia has always been the Enemy.

Patrick Cockburn makes a point that I've wondered about with regards to the larger GWOT:

Pakistan was always the real base for al-Qa’ida. It was the Pakistani ISI military intelligence which fostered and partly directed the Taliban before 2001 and revived it afterwards. It is Pakistan which has sustained the Islamic Jihadi fighters in Kashmir where half the Indian army is tied down. Yet the Bush administration in its folly allied itself to General Pervez Musharaf and the Pakistani army post 9/11 ensuring that Jihadi groups always had a base.

Not only has the Bush administration allied itself with Pakistan, but it has maintained our existing--and rather strong--alliances with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. To be sure, some might say that pure pragmatism REQUIRES the maintenance of these allliances...but again, that underscores the lunacy of the very concept of the war.

We're allied with the enemy, while combat--in Iraq and Afghanistan--is mostly a meaningless sideshow, albeit one that's tragic, deadly, awful, horrific, and ongoing, ridiculous declarations of victory notwithstanding.

Of course, a REAL war would be even MORE horrific, and would entail some genuine sacrifice on our part...sacrifice I doubt most could even fathom, much less deal with.

And if last week's events haven't made it clear that the Bush-style GWOT--like so many other Bush-style policies/actions, etc.--isn't as dismal a failure as, well, pretty much every other endeavor Shrub tried before falling into high office, then I don't what it will take to make it clear.