Friday, April 07, 2006

Humpty Scotty

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.

Not this riverbend, but...

The Iraqi blogger is interviewed here (h/t Cursor). In reference to the picture above, doesn't this question/answer fit right in with Gulf Coast reality?

What are the realities that you feel are not reported?

Real Iraqis, the people currently suffering under a lack of security and a shortage of the most basic necessities like electricity and water, seem to have faded to the background...
Sinking to the Bottom

Coming soon: Poll numbers at whale-shit level.

As pathetic as the Democrats are in mounting an effective opposition to an administration that lies, breaks the law, and embarks on astonishingly stupid wars of aggression...well, Team Bush is managing to work harder at betraying public trust, and it's showing:

President Bush has hit new lows in public opinion for his handling of Iraq and the war on terror and for his overall job performance. Polling also shows the Republican Party surrendering its advantage on national security.

The AP-Ipsos survey is loaded with grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction — the largest percentage during the Bush presidency and up 13 points from a year ago.

"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."

Democratic leaders predicted they will seize control of one or both chambers of Congress in November. Republicans said they feared the worst unless the political landscape quickly changes.

There is more at stake than the careers of GOP lawmakers. A Democratic-led Congress could bury the last vestiges of Bush's legislative agenda and subject the administration to high-profile investigations of the Iraq war, the CIA leak case, warrantless eavesdropping and other matters.

In the past two congressional elections, Republicans gained seats on the strength of Bush's popularity and a perception among voters that the GOP was stronger on national security than Democrats.

Those advantages are gone, according to a survey of 1,003 adults conducted this week for The Associated Press by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

Well, I certainly hope "other matters" includes the criminally negligent response to last year's hurricane season.
Stonewalling Ongoing Investigation


THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of...

I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business...

Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action...

And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.


QUESTION: Did the President authorize the leak of intelligence information?

Scott McClellan: Terry, there is an ongoing legal proceeding, and our policy has been that we're not going to comment on it while it's ongoing. And that remains our policy. You will recall, if you go back to that time period that you are referencing, that we did declassify information relating to the -- in the National Intelligence Estimate, to provide that information to the public. That was provided on July 18th, I believe was the day, of 2003.

QUESTION: And since you put it in a context, is this the same information that Mr. Libby cites in his affidavit?

Scott McClellan: That's a question relating to an ongoing legal proceeding and, as you know, I can't get into commenting on that. We want to make sure that there is due process, that there is a fair trial, and that we don't do anything to jeopardize an ongoing legal proceeding.
Perception Versus Reality

Mark Folse:

[Hurricane Katrina] was not a natural disaster. It was a failure of the government to do what is promised. It failed to protect us. The last time the government failed so stupendously, they emptied the public purse into the lap of New York, and declared wars to cover for their ineptitude.

What will they do for us?

We will know tomorrow morning if the nation is still with us, or has turned their backs on us. If this crucial admission is not found prominently in the nation's great newspapers, if men and women representing Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon do not take to the well in Congress to denounce the Corps and demand an immediate response, if the President is not forced to come to the microphones to explain and apologize, we will know that we are truly on our own.

Folse links to this story from the WaPo. More here (h/t YRHT).

Meanwhile, Team Bush continues with their ever more bizarre pronouncements of power and glory on high...but in one respect, they're showing remarkable consistency: they've ignored the Gulf Coast in much the same way they've ignored the ever more hellish situation in Mesopotamia.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Like Sad Little Flowers"

In addition to his op-ed, Tim Ruppert has posted a quite poignant video shot by his wife and featuring his child. It's about ten minutes long and well worth a look. The title of this post is Tim's daughter's description of the ceiling fans inside their "soon-to-be-demolished-house."

I wonder what the reaction would be to this video among those who are "tired" of hearing about the storm and flood (the latter decidely NOT an "act of God," but a human failing that, if it had been a private entity, would've opened said entity up to all sorts of liability/tort litigation).

Seeing one family's story really does give you a perspective--multiply it by thousands of families going through much the same experience across the entire region.

And the government's up in DC, doing almost nothing.

Criminal negligence--both before and after the storm.
Cold Fusion

( + ) - =

Make that Cole fusion--well, except for the "minus the brain" part, which is my own corollary:

Late night comedian Conan O'Brian does a shtick where he has a silly computer program meld the faces of two celebrities to see what their kids would look like, only the program works to exaggerate the features of each, so that you always have a freakish result.

The news today makes me think that it would be worthwhile melding Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon to see if the result looked like W. Because George W. Bush faces the weight of a long Asian land war gone badly wrong, just as Johnson did. And he faces the charges of high-level corruption and illegal wiretapping that dogged Richard Nixon. He has become both "Mah feller Amurcans" Bush and "tricky Georgie." W. has survived all this relatively well, given the dreadful facts of it.

Unlike Johnson, he does not operate a hated draft, but depends on gung-ho volunteers (some of whom are a little too gung-ho and have made a lot of unnecessary trouble in Iraq by shooting a lot of people for DWI, Driving While Iraqi). The volunteers' families and friends are not clamoring for an end to the war with the fervor that those of the draftees did in the 1960s and early 1970s. Johnson was in the end defeated by powerful challenges from within his own party, which caused him not to seek another term. Bush faced no such challenge in '04. His party has gone along with him. Of course, Tom DeLay is not exactly a paragon of virtue. The corruption of the party itself, which has few Robert F. Kennedys, has abetted Bush's continued dominance and free ride for his crimes.

Nixon faced an FBI willing to leak to the press to get him, a Supreme Court willing to order him to turn over tapes of his conversations, and a Democratic Congress willing to impeach him (well, a lot of Republicans were willing to, by the end, too). It is pretty clear that Scalia, Thomas and Alito would have all voted against making Nixon turn over his tapes, and maybe Roberts, as well. It is a different court, one that is willing to show deference to the imperial presidency, as Rehnquist openly admitted before he went out. Bush's party dominates both houses of congress, as well. The Senate Intelligence Committee under Pat Robertson has dragged its feet in investigating Bush administration crimes. The only strike against Bush is that the FBI still has a good deal of independence and has every reason to want to hold administration officials accountable for leaking Plame's name, since ruining undercover agents' careers can get them and their family's killed. It is mainly the FBI and an independent prosecutor (the appointment of which Bush resisted) that have shown integrity with regard to the Bush scandals, whether the AIPAC spying affair or Libbygate. (People call it Plamegate, but it is Libby who is the scandal here).

YRHT has more than once made the explicit comparison between the two Texans (Shrub & Lyndon), and I doubt anyone these days doesn't consider the similarities between Tricky Dick and Greasy George (though, to be fair, Dick wasn't nearly as stupid).

THAT Dick actually had a number of staunch defenders back in the day--indeed, even after the tapes revealed criminal activity, there were still a few rats dedicated to the sinking (or slinking) ship--and I'm willing to bet that Karl Rove was one of them. But the public was quite fed up with claims of "executive privilege." They might have voted for the guy, but their vote was not an endorsement of criminal activity.

I'm pretty sure all but the most rabid of pissers-on-the-Constitution were aware of that then, and should be aware of that today. Which is why Shrub clings to the war rationale for his illegal activities despite explict evidence and logical inferences pointing not to any desire for "protecting Americans" but sheer balls-to-the-wall, I'm-king-not-president-damnit sputterings from the dauphin.

Thank heavens, though, it looks like it's not going to work. I think the public is getting pretty sick and tired: Iraq is a quagmire, bin Laden's still a fugitive, the Gulf Coast is still a mess, Al Qaeda is stronger than it was BEFORE Team Bush launched Operation-We're-Actually-the-Keystone-Cops, etc.

To be fair, I'd also guess a fair bit of public dissatisfaction with Team Bush is not necessarily in their strategery, but their execution. Well, one step at a time, I suppose...


Kind of lays bare any claims from Team Bush re: concern for WMD, or stopping terrorists, or pretty much anything except that their entire agenda since day one has been greedily sopping up the public gravy with whatever they can grab with their grubby little fingers:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case, THE NEW YORK SUN reports Thursday.

Remember, Valerie Plame was working--as far as we can tell, with some degree of effectiveness--to counter proliferation of unconventional weapons. Way to go, Shrub.

FDL has more.

You know, it takes a lot of "hard work" to be that incompetent--I mean, shit, I guess most folks are now aware of the rather, ahem, lax hiring practices within DHS...and let's not forget the entire Katrina/Rita debacle: the assclowns in charge have volumes of resources that would make King Midas look like a piker, but were too goddamned stupid to effectively organize anything but Brownie's dinner plans.

And Iraq? Operation Daily Body Count, full speed ahead.

Team Bush is so incompetent, I think the otherwise pitiful Democratic Party might actually have a chance this November...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Speak of the Devil


Apologies--sometimes things really do get busy over here, and today was one of those days. I'm just finally catching up...

Anyway, I guess everyone's seen or heard about Tweety and DeLay getting all kissy-faced with each other...and, combined with the other big blog postings/publishing, I think it's quite instructive, particularly in light of Bug Boy's continued embrace of the Religious Right--which, to recycle the old cliche, is NEITHER.

I mean, c'mon. Some of the wingnut waxing about the passion of the Bug Boy is truly sickening. When you add in general matters of politics infused with what can only be described as the utter bastardization of Christianity then I think it's high time the wingnuts were called on their bullshit.

They ARE NOT Christians. So I won't dignify them with such a descriptive.

If I remember right, Lenin appropriated the term "bolshevik" solely on the basis of a parlimentary maneuver (the Wikipedia link says, "Lenin's supporters narrowly defeated Martov's supporters on the question of party membership. Neither Lenin nor Martov had a firm majority throughout the Congress as delegates left or switched sides.") Claiming a "belief" in Christ, whatever "Christ" is supposed to mean to these charlatans, doesn't make it so. Instead, they are insulting hundreds of millions of genuine Christians around the world with a bizarre mix and match of greed, violence, misogyny, elitism, etc.

Look at what they've accomplished with their so-called religion: Operation Enduring Misery, the loss of New Orleans (including any number of outright lies--here's one, for example that Da' Po' Blog has reminded about several times in regards to the relief efforts). They've lied about the cost of the Medicare Drug plan, about the effects of the tax fact, I'd defy anyone to come up with an instance where these so-called "Christians" HAVEN'T lied. Indeed, a central component of their "theology" is predicated upon their being predatory assholes, followed by a lightning fast "admission of sin," which, combined with a stated "belief" in Christ, results in instant forgiveness and further license to rape, pillage, steal, name it. Rinse, repeat. And keep playing upon people's hopes and fears while raking up dollars and power like so many leaves in autumn.

In their own way, they've attempted to steal Christianity from genuine Christians in the same way that bin Laden and his band of lunatics has tried to steal Islam from genuine Muslims.

We shouldn't let them get away with it.

Back tomorrow. Hopefully things will be a little quieter.
Busy Here

Actually working today...that happens sometimes. Back in a bit.
Throw Him Something, Mistah

Not King of Carnival

...and we won't even make the twins flash...Scout suggests we make a point with Team Shrub by sending the boy-king our old beads. If you take a picture of the package, it will be posted at First Draft (not that Shrub knows anything about the draft, mind you).

Hmmm...I don't have a digital camera, but maybe I can go grab a disposable and get a picture in. As for beads...yes, that's easily done: I've literally got a seven-year supply--but I'm keeping my Zulu beads, thank you. Team Shrub can make do without any medallions.

That's the best suggestion I've heard since the 1980's, when two friends of mine came up with a performance art piece they called "Cologne for the Contras." Brut preferred.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006



I'll add my small voice--Scout at First Draft has a post up underscoring the crisis facing the city and region--other bloggers big and small have also been sounding the call:

The Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that another $6 Billion is needed to rebuild the levees for the NOLA area. Here’s a breakdown…
But more than $3 billion in improvements are needed to bring Algiers, eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward, West Jefferson and most of Jefferson Parish's east bank, St. Charles Parish, Belle Chasse and Lower Coast Algiers to the appropriate protection levels. And $3 billion more would be needed for Plaquemines Parish.

Donald Powell who is Bush’s point man on Katrina reconstruction has said Bush is making no promises regarding the needed $6 billion. The decision will be made this week or next. Powell indicated that Plaquemines Parish is on the chopping block as few people live there. This would be a disaster eventually for NOLA as Plaquemines with its wetlands is a natural buffer to the city. But there is no guarantee that the $3 billion for NOLA metro area will be forthcoming either.

Without levee protection residents and business will not return. It is that simple. This is a crucial time for NOLA which one could make a case has been lying out there for some time and known to the administration. One Republican Senator said the following…
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the announcement confirmed his warnings since November that Washington is "stonewalling" and seeking "way too little money" for levee repairs.

Stonewall indeed. No doubt Bush is counting on the fact that people have lost interest and are not paying attention. In such an environment the Denny Hastert's of Washington are free in their "questioning the wisdom of rebuilding the low-lying city." BUT a commitment to levee protection and wetland restoration can save New Orleans. As coastal scientist Roy Dokka, who helped develop part of the information that was the used for the revised levee cost, said...
"It's a dangerous place to live, but we can live here with the right protection," Dokka said. "It's important that people understand that. This isn't going away."

But if there is no pressure it will go away. Bush will take a pass on funding proper levee construction. He will take the money that could save NOLA to buy another month of more insanity in Iraq. And all in our names. Please don’t let this happen.

Schroeder links to this graphic representation of where and how high the levees need to be raised.

And underscoring Scout's observation is this (h/t Cursor) article: while Team Bush hems and haws, essentially giving the finger to the city and region, they can't open the public treasury fast enough for their cronies:

After spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation's ports, borders, airports, mail and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the antiterrorism equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable or too expensive to operate.

Many of the monitoring tools - intended to detect guns, explosives, and nuclear and biological weapons - were bought during the blitz in security spending after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In its effort to create a virtual shield around America, the Department of Homeland Security now plans to spend billions of dollars more. Although some changes are being made because of technology that has emerged in the last couple of years, many of them are planned because devices currently in use have done little to improve the nation's security, according to a review of agency documents and interviews with federal officials and outside experts.

"Everyone was standing in line with their silver bullets to make us more secure after Sept. 11," said Randall J. Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and former government adviser on scientific issues. "We bought a lot of stuff off the shelf that wasn't effective."

Among the problems:

Radiation monitors at ports and borders that cannot differentiate between radiation emitted by a nuclear bomb and naturally occurring radiation from everyday material like cat litter or ceramic tile.

Air-monitoring equipment in major cities that is only marginally effective because not enough detectors were deployed and were sometimes not properly calibrated or installed. They also do not produce results for up to 36 hours - long after a biological attack would potentially infect thousands of people.

Passenger-screening equipment at airports that auditors have found is no more likely than before federal screeners took over to detect whether someone is trying to carry a weapon or a bomb aboard a plane.

Postal Service machines that test only a small percentage of mail and look for anthrax but no other biological agents.

Four and a half billion dollars (i.e., not quite as much as Hastert spends each month in lunch money)...for nothing, not to mention each month of Operation Enduring Clusterfuck, where, as Patrick Cockburn points out, the game is OVER--Iraq no longer exists...

Well, come to think of it, that must be the Bush plan for the Gulf Coast, too.

Like I said yesterday, these so-called Christians better hope like hell, no pun intended, that the god they worship doesn't actually exist...or they're in for an eternity of pain.
Hammer Nailed

Stripes or Prison Orange? Not an easy choice...

I guess everyone's already heard or read about DeLay's decision...Time had the scoop, YRHT was my original source, and the big blogs have additional angles and perspective.

For me, a couple of things stick out: first, DeLay is completely lacking in any measure of class...duh...but, I'll bet that's actually an asset both in Sugarland, and, sadly, in DC these days. Second, from Hullabaloo, there's a very telling excerpt from a link that I can't get to (I think it's subscription only anyway, but I'm getting a "page can't be displayed" error):

Conservative leaders are crafting plans to launch a public campaign to defend House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

The move follows a meeting last week among DeLay, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the chief deputy majority whip, and nearly two dozen conservative leaders, including David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute; and Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Perkins, Keene and Feulner called the meeting, according to participants.

"It was a rallying cry to our conservative community that we are under assault. We need to fight back. We're going to have a challenging year with the judicial issue bubbling up in the senate and the impact it may have on our ability to get things done," said Cantor, who said he described to the group how Democrats and liberal groups have waged a coordinated battle to raise doubts about DeLay’s conduct.

Oyster notes the "defense" is now officially a legacy matter; however, I find it instructive: the wingnut crowd, as it has for literally decades, insists it's "under assault." And being "under assault," justifies in their miniscule, mediocre minds, any and all tactics.

Which explains a lot: from Ronald Reagan glorifying the murders of Cheney, Schwerner, and Goodman, to the sheer personal viciousness in their attacks on the Clintons--well, to them, it's "mere defense." That they are far from being "under assault," and, instead, literally represent a hugely pampered constituency, doesn't even make the radar screen.

Tom DeLay thinks he's being persecuted because he likes to play golf. Seriously--read the Time article. Ha. If there was any genuine justice in the world--and if Tom REALLY had to serve some hard time as opposed to a few years at Club Fed (assuming he's convicted) he'd gain a whole new understanding of what it's like to be "under assault." Same with Scooter, Karl, Jack, Tom (Noe that is), Duke...and Dick 'n Dubya too.

Update: On my way back to work after lunch, I heard some DeLay hack-apologist on NPR describe Bug Boy as a "man of conviction." You know, I think he might be right.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Follow the (Boatloads of) Money

Here's a good interview with Jeff St. Clair of Counterpunch and author of Grand Theft Pentagon...which, sadly, ain't no video game.

Accountability? To Shrub, that just means being able to go past twenty without having to disrobe.
An Armed Society...

...shoots major donors.

Actually, and I forget if I've posted about this...while I don't personally own firearms, I like to consider myself a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment, for all sorts of reasons (in a shotgun shell nutshell, Pandora's box is already open, i.e., the guns are out there, I also don't think responsible people who own guns should be punished, etc. etc.)...

Anyway...if the NRA ever wants to expand its horizons, it looks like Iraq could make for excellent hunting grounds, no pun intended (although the result, i.e., International Rifle Association, or Iraqi Rifle Association could creat acronym confusion):

Iraq has long been awash in guns. But after the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February, sectarian tensions exploded, and more Iraqis than ever have been buying, carrying and stockpiling weapons, adding an unnerving level of firepower to Baghdad's streets.

The average price for a Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which is perfectly legal here, has jumped to $290 from $112 in the past month, according to several gun dealers. Bullets have climbed to 33 cents each from 24 cents.

Hand grenades, which are not legal but are easy to get, run $95. Pre-Samarra, they were about half that. The swiftly rising prices are one clear sign that weapon sales are hot.

Of course, the fact that Iraqis have a legacy of firearm ownership kind of puts a damper on the rather time-worn NRA argument about guns being a protection against well as the often insisted "an-armed-society-is-a-polite-society" contention. The article, by the way, concludes with the ironic "business is booming," um, in more ways than one (to be fair, the subject of the piece isn't merely about Iraqis and their guns, but about the increase in price pretty much across the board).

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a grim irony of its own plays out--and I think this might be a bit more important than a newly painted school.
Help Save Cory...

...From the maniacal clutches of "Doctor" Frist.

Note: Cory bears a remarkable resemblence to the feline in residence at my own abode--and actually, thank heavens, was not harmed in the making of the above photo...but only because he wasn't a stray in Boston during Dr. Frist's time there...
Like Fredo, But Not as Smart

"They said there was something in it for me...won't get fooled again."

This morning's foray through the internets found me comparing and contrasting. First, here's one of the big stories re: the latest example of the Fredo Corleone-like planning of Operation Enduring Clusterfuck...and it only cost us $200 million dollars:

A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.

The contract, awarded to U.S. construction giant Parsons Inc. in the flush, early days of reconstruction in Iraq, was expected to lay the foundation of a modern health care system for the country, putting quality medical care within reach of all Iraqis.

Parsons, according to the Corps, will walk away from more than 120 clinics that on average are two-thirds finished. Auditors say the project serves as a warning for other U.S. reconstruction efforts due to be completed this year...

By the end of 2006, the $18.4 billion that Washington has allocated for Iraq's reconstruction runs out. All remaining projects in the U.S. reconstruction program, including electricity, water, sewer, health care and the justice system, are due for completion. As a result, the next nine months are crunchtime for the easy-term contracts that were awarded to American contractors early on, before surging violence drove up security costs and idled workers.

Stuart Bowen, the top U.S. auditor for reconstruction, warned in a telephone interview from Washington that other reconstruction efforts may fall short like that of Parsons. "I've been consumed for a year with the fear we would run out of money to finish projects," said Bowen, the inspector general for reconstruction in Iraq.

Actually, come to think of it, Fredo might've done a BETTER job. Hell, he managed to make it to Havana without losing any of the money.

Meanwhile, the difference between reality and the administration when it comes to matters about Iraq continues to become ever more surreal. Indeed, the way things are going, I believe we might be ready for an encore:

And I bring THAT up because of the contrast--at least in my own head, since the media's doing a Team Bush-like bang up job of ignoring it: as the blood CONTINUES to gush in Mesopotamia, as the corruption continues to suck up dollars by the millions like a money hungry Dyson, the Gulf Coast, to cite Ashley and Mark, is NOT ok, and little or nothing is being done about that by this administration or the Moron Caucus in Congress.

I keep thinking about the pious rants re: Gret Stet corruption, delivered by Representatives and Senators who've literally whored themselves to the highest bidder in search of campaign dollars...then I think about the waste of lives and money in Mesopotamia...then consider the way they've IGNORED their own country.

These folks better hope there's no god, or at least no god along the lines of the classic, vengeful, Biblical Yahweh variety. Because if there is...there will be hell to pay, and it won't be a metaphor.