Friday, March 31, 2006

Multimedia Friday

A/C until the fuel runs out.

I came across this fun site where you can produce your own global warming SUV ad, and even enter a contest (if you want) where I guess the winner gets her or his spot aired on teevee...however, as you might expect, some entries aren't exactly going for the gold: they're going for broke. Enjoy.

Update: See more here...and this one, well...

Further Update: more here and here. LOL.

And here's another.
Yeah, Like Medieval Surgeons

Theodoric of York: Well, I'll do everything humanly possible. Unfortunately, we barbers aren't gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.

Condi admits "mistakes were made, but...:"

The U.S. diplomat met loud anti-war protests in the streets and skeptical questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq at a foreign policy salon Friday, including one about whether Washington had learned from its "mistakes over the past three years."

Rice replied that leaders would be "brain-dead" if they did not absorb the lessons of their times.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," Rice told an audience gathered by the British foreign policy think tank Chatham House. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged will be, did you make the right strategic decisions."...

Saddam "wasn't going anywhere without military intervention," she said.

And, funny enough, the last sentence contains the grain of truth so lacking in Team Bush's medieval barber approach: Saddam "wasn't going anywhere." That's right. Prior to 2003, the United States military, in conjunction with our allies, had the Iraqi dictator tightly boxed. North and South Iraq were designated no-fly zones (not that the pitiful remnants of the Iraqi "air force" was capable of much of anything--hell, the few planes were literally buried in the desert). The northern Kurdish region was a de facto independent nation, prevented from overt declaration only because of diplomatic necessity. US military ships patrolled the Persian Gulf. US military planes based in the region enforced the no-fly areas and ran recon mission (as well as the more than occasional bombing or strafing sortie). Any ambitions Hussein had of greater territorial acquisition were effectively neutralized.

But Team Bush demanded bloodletting. Well, they certainly got it--20,000 US casualties and counting. Iraqi deaths are swept under the "collateral damage" rug. Osama bin Laden, when not reflecting on his unbelievable good fortune, is probably laughing his head off: the world's reigning superpower is getting beat back in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And the leadership is first, too stupid to figure out what to do next, second, too stubborn to recognize their failure, and third, so cynical, vicious, and utterly incompetent that their only tactic at this point is to foist blame on the embedded media and marginalized anti-war movement.

With strategery like that, is it any wonder they botched the recovery effort after Katrina and Rita? (and shit, Rice couldn't even be bothered to reschedule her shopping spree).

Come to think of it, medieval barbers at least TRIED.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Actual Good News

I'm sure everyone stopping by here has already heard that kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll was released by her captors today--I can only imagine the elation her family and friends must feel to know she's safe.

But, wouldn't you know it, the wingnut crowd is all in a tizzy, apparently because she's either not sufficiently bloodthirsty with revenge fantasies, or worse, they now lack another excuse to slake their own bloodthirsty fantasies. And of course they took pains to deride Ms. Carroll for, quite sensibly, dressing modestly and wearing a hajib (which twin idiots Bernard McGuirk and Charles McCord misidentified as a "burka").

Hey, idiots: first, Carroll probably dressed this way before her kidnapping in order to be as inconspicuous as possible. It's not like Iraq is all that safe for ANYONE these days, particularly westerners. And her captors most likely provided her with similar clothing--after all, it's not like they were going to take her shopping, dingbats.

As for conspiracy "theories" as to her somehow being complicit in her own kidnapping? That speaks volumes: people who think this are truly batshit insane.
Ignoring the GOOD NEWS about New Orleans

Oyster took his camera out last weekend to put a rest to myths about the so-called snail's-pace of NOLA recovery, which inspired me to steal his idea with a few pilfered pics of my own reminded me of my own photo odysseys throughout the city recently. I've decided to post some of these photos here as a way of agreeing with YRHT that it's really a matter of perspective, and that the left-wing MSM©, with their shrill, zealous hatred of dear leader, wants nothing more than to falsely deride his glorious progress in restoring, indeed, improving the Crescent City above and beyond the wildest imaginations of those ungrateful dark skinned people who, despite ample warning and free airplane tickets to Cancun, chose to stay put during the flood resulting from poor levee/floodwall design and construction storm/Act of God that no one could have forseen (even though dear leader was vacationing from his vacation and couldn't be bothered for four days fully prepared to lead the rescue and recovery effort).

Um, sorry, wrong of the staffers made a mistake. Rest assured--the person responsible for this mistake has been sacked.

Skyline--from the I-10 Bonnett Carre Spillway Bridge

Canal Street, going towards the river.

I-10, between Canal and Orleans Blvds.

Central Business District--Superdome in lower right hand corner.

As you can clearly see, New Orleans is doubleplusgood. And I hear the sugar ration's been increased to a half kilo a month.
Vertebrate Watch

Medal of Freedom, with Spine and Noose Insignia

Joseph Wilson, confirmed vertebrate and bipedalist:

Ambassador Joe Wilson spoke at Florida State University Monday night and pulled no punches, to put it lightly.

Some selected quotes:

Condoleeza Rice needs to stop globe-trotting in her knee high boots and start doing her job and building a coalition

Seeing as she [Rice] was the National Security Advisor, the person whose job it is to keep track of the nuclear threats against the United States, for her not to know about these reports that were sitting in her very own office files says to me that she is either A) incompetent, B) disingenous, or C) and this is the most likely in my opinion....simply a bald faced liar.

When the Democrats take control of congress, their first order of business needs to be crushing the neoconservativers out of power in every foreign policy arena. Drive a damn stake through the heart of every single one of them, whatever it takes. They have been wrong, fundamentally wrong, on every...single....position they have ever taken. They have not been right about one single thing

The neocons need to be forced back into the dark holes from which they crawled. They are nothing but parasites who serve nobody and nothing but themselves who are using the Republican Party as a serving host

It still amazes me when I still see that drunk Bill Kristol on tv every week still spewing the same nonsense he was spewing 3 years ago

Zalmay Khalilzad? I'd like to punch him right in the face. I've never seen met him and I'd prefer never to see his face but yeah. He has never been right about one thing in 20 years. He is simply another neoconservative that has gotten every single thing wrong.

Wolfowitz did his best to destroy the Department of Defense so I guess it's time for him to go destroy the World Bank and he's got a willing partner in John Bolton who has taken it upon himself to destroy the United Nations, an organization that, since its' inception, the U.S. has benefitted from as much or more so than it has given.

I was flying to Florida the other day and seated next to me was Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, and I thought "ya know Wayne, I've finally come around to your way of thinking. I agree, I think every single person in this nation should be armed with a protect us from these assholes you keep in power." I didn't actually say that....because that would have been rude.

You know when they first started trying to come up with a way to discredit me, which we now know started in March of 2003, they went through the old standbys. 'He's had 3 wives, he's a womanizer, he's done drugs.' But then they realized they couldn't use those because I've never actually denied them. I mean I'm the first to admit that, unlike Ken Mehlman and David Dreier, I really like women. Beyond that, going to UC-Santa Barbara in the late 60's, if you weren't smoking pot it was you who was the weird one.

So since they couldn't discredit me as being a womanizer, a druggie, or partisan (since I had handwritten notes from George's dad thanking me for my brave service in saving American lives in Baghdad), they decided to go after the last thing they had, my wife Valerie. Ann Coulter and others came up with the crap that Joe coudln't get a job on his own, he needed his wife to find one for him because "he's a wussy man". Well, when I thought about it, I wasn't really all that surprised hearing it from Ann. Afterall, she is a rather manly woman.

I hear Ann going around exalting Joseph McCarthy. I recently read a book by Owen Lattimore called Ordeal by Slander in which he details the way in which McCarthy smeared him and attempted to destroy his life and the battle for his freedom that ensued. I wish Ann would read that book and see who she is using as a hero. Joseph McCarthy was a Nazi sympathizer who tried to destroy the lives of innocent people through a political witchhunt. That is who these people like Ann Coulter support. Remember that. Ann Coulter and her ilk are not only someone you would not want at your dining room table, they're people I wouldn't even allow in my home

Rep. Ed Markey said the other night that in the last 6 years of the Clinton Administration, the Republican controlled congress issued over 5,000 subpoenas during investigations of the Clinton Administration. In the first 6 years of the Bush administration? Five. Five subpoenas. I think we've got a lot of catching up to do when we take control next year

I'm glad I'm not a 1st amendment lawyer so I can't really go into what Judith Miller did or did not do right or wrong but I do know this much. Scooter Libby is such a coward that he let this woman sit in jail for months because he was too scared to tell her she could testify. Scooter Libby is a despicable coward of a human being.....just absolutely despicable and vile.

You know, I've lived in somewhere around 15 dictatorships in my life, negotiated and threatened dictators in Africa and the middle east right to their faces. Given that, it's really kind of hard for me to take seriously a trio of clowns named Dick, Karl, and Scooter. I mean, c'mon.

George Orwell once said that "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." What I did was not extraordinary. It's the environment in which we act that makes this truth-telling event revolutionary. There's something very wrong with this picture. What is wrong with this picture that we are even having this discussion.

Brief Guide to GOP Communication

We're making great progress in Iraq.

Senator Leahy and I had a frank exchange of views.

Vaffanculo Peace be with you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Second Thought

Maybe Orange is the new black--and plenty Rethug Bigshots might have to get used to it.

Jeffrey found this Matt Taibbi profile of Abramoff in Rolling Stone. Geez. Jack's been a hack since grade school...
Shrub: It's Saddam's Fault

Desperately looking to shirk blame for Operation Enduring Clusterfuck Seeking to justify his preemptive war policy in Iraq, Shrubleroy insisted that the nascent civil war and increasing-by-the-hour chaos in Mesopotamia is because of...Saddam Hussein:

President Bush said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein, not continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence that is threatening the formation of a democratic government.

In his third speech this month to bolster public support for the war, Mr. Bush worked to counter critics who say the U.S. presence in the war-torn nation is fueling the insurgency. Mr. Bush said that Saddam was a tyrant and used violence to exacerbate sectarian divisions to keep himself in power, and that as a result, deep tensions persist to this day.

The boy-king then claimed to have startling proof of other nefarious deeds perpetrated by the Butcher of Baghdad.

The Grassy Knoll, Nov. 22, 1963

Ford's Theater, April 14, 1865

North Atlantic Ocean, April 15, 1912

Amazingly, these photos also EXONERATE Dick Cheney, who has, according to the pResident, "an absolutely airtight alabi. There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that not only is Saddam Hussein responsible for these dastardly acts, but that Vice-President Cheney was in no way involved."

Sources close to the Vice President confirm that Cheney's alabi relies on his being in "a secure, undisclosed location" during the times in question, and that anyone who questions this can "go fuck themselves." The Vice President is also believed to have recently purchased large quantities of shotgun shells.
Introducing the Jack Abramoff Line

Prison stripes are, for Abramoff, the new black.
Maybe the Box of Rocks Should Run

Add "geographically challenged" to Howard Kaloogian's "qualifications." Well, that or "just plain stupid." Or maybe "born liar."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Singing Like a Canary

Scooter did it.

Looks like Rove decided that forever being labeled a stoolie, or Bush's "bird brain" is preferable to becoming a prison punk:

Karl Rove, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and special adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been providing information to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the ongoing CIA leak investigation, sources close to the investigation say.

According to several Pentagon sources close to Rove and others familiar with the inquiry, Bush's senior adviser tipped off Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to information that led to the recent "discovery" of 250 pages of missing email from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney...

According to one source close to the case, Rove is providing information on deleted emails, erased hard drives and other types of obstruction by staff and other officials in the Vice President's office. Pentagon sources close to Rove confirmed this account.

None would name the staffers and/or officials whom Rove is providing information about. They did, however, explain that the White House computer system has "real time backup" servers and that while emails were deleted from computers, they were still retrievable from the backup system. By providing the dates and recipient information of the deleted emails, sources say, Rove was able to chart a path for Fitzgerald directly into the office of the Vice President.

Hmmm...if I remember right, the last one to not cut a deal in situations like this...ends up holding the bag.

Wonder if Dick's busy cleaning his shotgun...
Baghdad Burning

Is certainly apt. Check out Riverbend's latest:

I looked over at the commotion near the morgue.

There were dozens of people- mostly men- standing around in a bleak group. Some of them smoked cigarettes, others leaned on cars or pick-up trucks... Their expressions varied- grief, horror, resignation. On some faces, there was an anxious look of combined dread and anticipation. It’s a very specific look, one you will find only outside the Baghdad morgue. The eyes are wide and bloodshot, as if searching for something, the brow is furrowed, the jaw is set and the mouth is a thin frown. It’s a look that tells you they are walking into the morgue, where the bodies lay in rows, and that they pray they do not find what they are looking for.

The cousin sighed heavily and told us to open a couple of windows and lock the doors- he was going to check the morgue. A month before, his wife’s uncle had been taken away from a mosque during prayer- they’ve yet to find him. Every two days, someone from the family goes to the morgue to see if his body was brought in. “Pray I don’t find him… or rather... I just- we hate the uncertainty.” My cousin sighed heavily and got out of the car. I said a silent prayer as he crossed the street and disappeared into the crowd.

E. and I waited patiently for H., who was still inside the college and for L. who was in the morgue. The minutes stretched and E. and I sat silently- smalltalk seeming almost blasphemous under the circumstances. L. came out first. I watched him tensely and found myself chewing away at my lower lip, “Did he find him? Inshalla he didn’t find him…” I said to no one in particular. As he got closer to the car, he shook his head. His face was immobile and grim, but behind the grim expression, we could see relief, “He’s not there. Hamdulilah [Thank God].”

“Hamdulilah” E. and I repeated the words in unison.

WE all looked back at the morgue. Most of the cars had simple, narrow wooden coffins on top of them, in anticipation of the son or daughter or brother. One frenzied woman in a black abaya was struggling to make her way inside, two relatives holding her back. A third man was reaching up to untie the coffin tied to the top of their car.

“See that woman- they found her son. I saw them identifying him. A bullet to the head.” The woman continued to struggle, her legs suddenly buckling under her, her wails filling the afternoon, and although it was surprisingly warm that day, I pulled at my sleeves, trying to cover my suddenly cold fingers.

We continued to watch the various scenes of grief, anger, frustration and every once in a while, an almost tangible relief as someone left the morgue having not found what they dreaded most to find- eyes watery from the smell, the step slightly lighter than when they went in, having been given a temporary reprieve from the worry of claiming a loved one from the morgue…
Geology Lesson

Stolen from Inspired by this post at Daily Kos, with additional assistance from UW Milwaukee. I chose "graywacke" for the comparison--it was a difficult decision...graywacke or fool's gold?

And I genuinely regret that fine examples of rock like pyrite or graywacke will forever be placed in comparision to Shrub...on the bright side, though, it's the dauphin who's found wanting.
Sim City, Tal Afar Edition

With lifelike carbomb action.

Shrub's "model city:"

A TOWN singled out by US President George W. Bush as a success story for American and Iraqi forces in the drive to quell the insurgency was last night the scene of a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 people and wounded 20 others.

The attack, in which the bomber detonated an explosives belt amid a line of recruits outside Tamarat army base at 11.15am (7.15pm AEDT) near the town of Tal Afar, close to the Syrian border, was the deadliest single attack since a January suicide assault on police recruits in Ramadi.

"Forty people have been killed and 20 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of candidates waiting at the army recruitment centre," an Interior Ministry official said.

Mr Bush had cited Tal Afar, the scene of major joint US-Iraqi operations last year, as a model for coalition efforts to create a stable Iraq.

Maybe a journalist will ask the boy king about this at the next "informal chat."

Nah, probably not.
The Three Benedicts

See-no-evil...won't-get-fooled-again, My-goodness, henny-penny, see-no-evil...and just plain evil.

Maybe it's just two Benedicts and a Benedick, but they're still the perfect storm of frightening ignorance/incompetence and brain stem fueled arrogance:

George W. Bush and his most trusted advisers, Richard B. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, entered office determined to restore the authority of the presidency. Five years and many decisions later, they've pushed the expansion of presidential power so far that we now confront a constitutional crisis.

Relying on legal opinions from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Professor John Yoo, then working at the Justice Department, Bush has insisted that there can be no limits to the power of the commander-in-chief in time of war. More recently the president has claimed that laws relating to domestic spying and the torture of detainees do not apply to him. His interpretation has produced a devilish conundrum.

President Bush has given Commander-in-Chief Bush unlimited wartime authority. But the "war on terror" is more a metaphor than a fact. Terrorism is a method, not an ideology; terrorists are criminals, not warriors. No peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against far-flung terrorists. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution...

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, providing constitutional means to carry out surveillance, and the Intelligence Identification Protection Act, protecting the identity of undercover intelligence agents, have both been violated by an administration seeking to restore "the legitimate authority of the presidency," as Cheney puts it.

The presidency possesses no power not granted to it under the Constitution. The powers the current administration seeks in its "war on terror" are not granted under the Constitution. Indeed, they are explicitly prohibited by acts of Congress.

The Founding Fathers, who always come to mind when the Constitution is in danger, anticipated just such a possibility. Writing in the Federalist Papers, James Madison defined tyranny as the concentration of powers in one branch of the government.

"The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department," Madison wrote in Federalist 51, "consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others."

Warming to his subject, Madison continued, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition;" the interest of the office holders must "be connected with the constitutional rights of the place."

Recognizing that he was making an appeal to interest over ideals, he concluded that it "may be a reflection of human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government." "But what," Madison asked, "is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

Madison's solution to the concentration of powers that lead to tyranny relied upon either Congress or the Supreme Court to check the overreaching of a president. In our present crisis, Congress has been supine in the face of the president's grab for unconstitutional, unlimited power, and no case is working its way towards a Supreme Court judgment.

If Madison's reliance on the ambition of other office holders has failed us, we need to look elsewhere. Can what Thomas Jefferson called the "common sense and good judgment of the American people" help us now? In the past, they have been a critical last resort when our leaders endangered the constitutional checks and balances that have made us the world's oldest democracy. But first the public must wake up to this constitutional crisis.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Deep in the Heartless Texas

Looks like Bush family values re: charitable contributions are rubbing off on the rest of the wingnut faction:

A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show...

In the late 1990s, when DeLay's influence was growing, the lawmaker depicted the USFN in a promotional letter as a nationwide, grass-roots organization. In fact, it had a tiny staff that barely registered an impact on Capitol Hill. The group appears to have served mostly as a vehicle for funneling corporate funds to DeLay's advisers and financing ads that attacked Democrats.

The group's payments to the Buckhams -- in the form of a monthly retainer as well as commissions on donations by Abramoff's clients -- overlapped briefly with Edwin Buckham's service as chief of staff to DeLay and continued during his subsequent role as DeLay's chief political adviser.

During this latter period, Buckham and his wife, Wendy, acting through their consulting firm, made monthly payments averaging $3,200-$3,400 apiece to DeLay's wife, Christine, for three of the years in which he collected money from the USFN and some other clients.

Babs's charity means pushing Neil's product; DeLay's means enriching his aides to the tune of millions. And they're the one who whined about "welfare queens?"
Good News in Graphic Form

Link. How much more good news will it take?

Mohannad al-Azawi had just finished sprinkling food in his bird cages at his pet shop in south Baghdad, when three carloads of gunmen pulled up.

In front of a crowd, he was grabbed by his shirt and driven off.

Mr. Azawi was among the few Sunni Arabs on the block, and, according to witnesses, when a Shiite friend tried to intervene, a gunman stuck a pistol to his head and said, "You want us to blow your brains out, too?"

Mr. Azawi's body was found the next morning at a sewage treatment plant. A slight man who raised nightingales, he had been hogtied, drilled with power tools and shot.

The rest of the article is simply gut wrenching. Anyone with even the most miserly amount of empathy and compassion would be moved: Azawi was neither particularly religious nor partisan. He just wanted to run his little shop (a neighbor said he "was crazy about birds").

And now he's dead, at the age of twenty-seven.

Way to go, wingnuts.
Can't Post Photos

At least once a week, Blogger is a shitty and incompetent as the Bush administration. Back in a bit--probably pictureless.
Pontius Shrublate

Corruption...he's soaking in it

William Rivers Pitt reports on hand cleansing at the White House:

Last week, George W. Bush got up before a gaggle of reporters and washed his hands of the mess in Iraq. The question of how long an American presence will remain in that country "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq," said Bush. To be fair, he isn't the only one. The entire administration appears to have become bored with the whole process.

Pitt suggests this boredom is due to Team Bush's "success" in trashing both Iraq and the United States: from such trashing fortunes are fleeced, and, as Wolcott noted last week, the gang of vicious little thugs occupying Washington DC with all the hallmarks of a classic conquest are interesting in little more than looting, rape, pillage...and hoarding what they've managed to steal.

Which means, in a sense, Mission Accomplished. They've got theirs--at our expense.

Meanwhile: here's your storm response update--another single paragraph. Lends a whole new meaning to the term "Passover."
A Small Reminder

But it was a quiet day in Colorado...

Aside from the patent absurdity of the latest retread wingnut argument re: the Iraq civil war--blame the media, claim they have a vandetta against dear leader, that they refuse to focus on "the good news" coming out of Iraq (and conveniently ignore the ever more obvious evidence--indeed, so obvious the NY Times couldn't sweep it under a rug--that Bush wanted his war the way a toddler wants his way, and was willing to stomp around and pout till he got it)...well, remind the 'nuts that for most of THIS country, 9/11 was a pretty quiet day (hey, come to think of it, November 22, 1963 was mostly quiet in Dallas).

By wingnut logic, we should've ignored 9/11, and focused on a no doubt freshly painted school in Florida

Speaking of: a no doubt freshly painted school in Mesopotamia might need a new coat of whitewash:

On Wednesday, armed insurgents burst into the classroom of Khidhir al-Mihallawi, an English teacher at Sajariyah High School, accused him of being an agent for the CIA and Israeli intelligence and beheaded him in front of his students, according to students, fellow instructors and a physician at a local hospital.

I'm sure the wingnut position is that it'll call for just a touch-up.