Friday, June 23, 2006

Call Me Skeptical, But...

...This is Team Bush who we're dealing with, and they'll never let ANYTHING get in the way of slinging more than a little political mud. I think it's a fishing expedition...

Besides, THEIR metaphor--it's supposedly a harpoon--isn't any less troubling when you think about it...
Tenets of Twitnut Mythology

I mean, they really ARE like juveniles, continuing to insist that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy WMD's exist...and stamping their feet, and huffing about in anger when confronted with reality:

The United States government abandoned the search for unconventional weapons in Iraq long ago. But Dave Gaubatz has never given up.

Mr. Gaubatz, an earnest, Arabic-speaking investigator who spent the first months of the war as an Air Force civilian in southern Iraq, has said he has identified four sites where residents said chemical weapons were buried in concrete bunkers.

The sites were never searched, he said, and he is not going to let anyone forget it.

"I just don't want the weapons to fall into the wrong hands," Mr. Gaubatz, of Denton, Tex., said.

Your Pravda-on-the-Hudson may have given Judith Miller a golden parachute...but they just couldn't get rid of that Judith Miller smell wafting through the newsroom.

The appropriately named Mr. Gaubatz(shit-insane) is given a pass by "the press" re: Arabic based on a single, year long course. that standard, I'm trilingual.

Meanwhile, Abu Gonzales is hailing the arrest of seven men in Miami who supposedly we're part of a "deadly, dastardly plot to..." blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago...except they didn't have weapons, explosives, or transportation. But hey, why let THAT get in the way of a good old fashioned dose of fearmongering?

And, finally, in Iraq, things are going so well that the government declared a state of emergency in Baghdad while, in in 3rd largest city, Mosul, at least 25 people were executed gangland style. And I haven't seen much news of late re: freshly painted schools in the region...

Of course, one can look at the glass being half full or half empty. I guess the news from Mosul shows just how good things are in New Orleans. It only took five gangland murders to bring out the National Guard and State Police.

Does anyone know if the schools there have recently been repainted?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cheney Admits It: He's Darth Vader

He also says he likes crushing Golden Retriever puppies with his bare hands and snacking on them...

OK, so I made up the part about the least I hope I did. Anyway, here's more than a USDA Recommended Daily Allowance of nonsense from Mr. Five-Deferments Doofus.

The bottom line, though, is that neither he nor his nominal chimp-boss have the first clue when it comes to achieving victory--or even some of "peace with honor" in Iraq. The former is now impossible, the latter much the same--their "plan," if you want to dignify it with the term, is money to Halliburton, blood and guts--literally--from the military. Yeah, that's a REAL winner...

I saw that I coincidently channeled one of Marshall's points with a post below. Between that and certified batshit rabid/insane Ann Coulter's hag-like shrieks, I think insisting on a genuine plan of action is good politics AND good policy.

Because it's painfully clear that the GOP HAS NO PLAN. And that's NOT good policy...or good politics.
Nut House

h/t Cursor

Interesting how loonies come in all varieties and persuasions. A little more frightening is when you stop and think that a good deal of political support is derived from people trying to turn Armageddon into a self-fulfilling prophesy:

For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.

Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a far different vision. As mayor of Tehran in 2004, he spent millions on improvements to make the city more welcoming for the return of a Muslim messiah known as the Mahdi, according to a recent report by the American Foreign Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

To the majority of Shiites, the Mahdi was the last of the prophet Muhammad's true heirs, his 12 righteous descendants chosen by God to lead the faithful.

Ahmadinejad hopes to welcome the Mahdi to Tehran within two years.

Conversely, some Jewish groups in Jerusalem hope to clear the path for their own messiah by rebuilding a temple on a site now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines.

Artisans have re-created priestly robes of white linen, gem-studded breastplates, silver trumpets and solid-gold menorahs to be used in the Holy Temple — along with two 6½-ton marble cornerstones for the building's foundation.

Then there is Clyde Lott, a Mississippi revivalist preacher and cattle rancher. He is trying to raise a unique herd of red heifers to satisfy an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers: the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer for purification rituals needed to pave the way for the messiah.

I guess they've got sort of a cavilier attitude towards their kids and/or grandkids, who'd be reaping what these nuts sowed.

No pun intended, but JESUS...H...CHRIST. Do we REALLY want these clowns--or the people they support (see "Miserable Failure") running things?

And the fact that their lunacy is eerily reflected like a dead calm pool on the other side of the god persuasion should itself make any sane person realize that these folks have gone off the deep end.
What We Need

What We've Got

Now, maybe you can add the name "C. Ray" to the bottom picture too, but I can't think of better examples of GOP incompence then the twin disasters overseas and at home. Oh sure, the New York Times can huff, snort, and haughtily admonish--with some justification--Ray Nagin and other local officials for their "whims and foot-dragging," took 10 months to get a committment from the feds, who are LIABLE for the vast majority of the damage in the first place. The Louisiana Recovery Administration was rejected, as was an initial "wish list"--roundly criticized for being "greedy," as if, one, our elected representatives shouldn't strongly advocate for their constituents, and two, the dredge buckets of money dumped in the coffers of Halliburton and others since 2001 somehow constitutes "fiscal responsibility." Oh, and three: as so many others point out, things like equitable, timely settlement of insurance claims have become both Labyrinthian and Sisyphean in scope.

Meanwhile, over there, some quick math tells me that the average cost of Operation- GOP-Executive/Legislative-Blather-and-Bluster is roughly two dead, sixteen wounded (US soldiers)...and around $240 million dollars...a day (btw: that doesn't include the other war we're losing in Asia). Which I guess shows more than anything else the lengths to which these twits will go to get re-elected.

Yeah, they'll do just about anything...except formulate a plan. And I'll toss that out as one suggestion for putting the GOP on the defensive this fall. Keep asking them, over and over, with as much or little respect as you want, but demand an answer: WHAT...IS...THE...PLAN?

If they think the costs overseas--and the cutting and running at home--are acceptable, then they should be forced on the record with their position--and hammered over the head ad nauseum for it. If not, then they need to be forced on the record with whatever position they DO have. And, to beat the dead horse one more time, and maybe kick it a bit, too, we should emphasize that we will not accept cheerleading in place of leading. Pompous declarations of "ultimate victory in the war on terror" are just more greenhouse gases. Empty promises of Gulf Coast restoration--or, worse, pious rantings about "corrupt local officials" excusing both a general national committment AND a specific national liability--are at the very least grounds for throwing the bums out, if not criminal prosecution. THEY control the national government. It's time they acted like it, instead of like irresponsible teenagers with the keys to daddy's sports car...and his platinum AmEx in their pockets.

The public deserves more than blather, bluster, and bloviating.
Sure is Hot Outside, Ain't It...

The increase in temperatures is the result of human activity...and not just the hot air emanating from the halls of Congress, where once again the GOP confuses cheerleading with leading (they could put on a show: Cheerleaders in Charge).

But I digress:

The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer.

The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia."

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is running a fever and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.

The report was requested in November by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New York, to address naysayers who question whether global warming is a major threat.

Last year, when the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, launched an investigation of three climate scientists, Boehlert said Barton should try to learn from scientists, not intimidate them.

The Bush administration also has maintained that the threat is not severe enough to warrant new pollution controls that the White House says would have cost 5 million Americans their jobs.

Climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes had concluded the Northern Hemisphere was the warmest it has been in 2,000 years. Their research was known as the "hockey-stick" graphic because it compared the sharp curve of the hockey blade to the recent uptick in temperatures and the stick's long shaft to centuries of previous climate stability.

What does it mean? Well, for one it demonstrates that Joe Barton, if pressed, would probably torture his own grandkids if it'd win him a few extra votes. More seriously, Schroeder's got a good post up illustrating an uncertain, but potentially unpleasant future for the region--that is to say, the United States of America.

Because we're not just talking about the Gulf Coast. This is a global condition, with global ramifications. If traditional climactic patterns are disrupted, well, it's not just gonna be a goddamned shame. And aside from the real possibility for human catastrophe, which I realize doesn't bother the twitnuts unless they're personally affected (and I do mean personally--they don't give a hoot in hell beyond their own generation)--but aside from that...if you think business and global trade WON'T be affected, well, let's talk, because maybe I can interest you in some "oceanside" condos.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ups and Downs in the Crescent City

Most of y'all have probably seen or read about this NY Times story detailing the mental and psychological challenges facing city residents. Short version: if you live in the midst of devastation, it's gonna affect you--which is something yer beyond your average twitnut's rudimentary comprehension, both here in America and overseas in places like Iraq...or Afghanistan.

Reading the article was yet another outrage alert spike...which is why I'm glad I took a look at Harry Shearer's latest before calling it a day: not only did it make me smile, it gave me hope--THIS is genuine New Orleans:

On the other side of town, an anonymously named "Grocery" is open late, with local artisan breads among its eclectic fare. Most of them were labeled as to variety, but one set of loaves, interesting inside its cellophane, was unlabeled. I took it to the manager-cashier, and asked him, "what kind of bread is this?" He gave me the perfect New Orleans, post-K answer: "What kind would you like it to be?"
Darth Cheney

"Shrub Shitkicker, I am your father...and your puppet master."

Damn, I was out last night and missed The Dark Side, which ran last night on Frontline. Oh well. The website is interesting enough, and I might kill some time Thursday squinting at the very small screen when it becomes available for online viewing.

You might want to take a look at producer Michael Kirk's online chat at the WaPo site today. Included is this now-quaint notion in light of shills like Judith Miller taking fourth estate employment:

Clearly some of the CIA officers who spoke to us wanted the opportunity to tell their side of the story. We of course didn't just provide them a forum--it is our responsibility to measure what they said against the public record, the documents being acquired by government agencies and prosecutors and other, off the record interviews we conducted. We regret that the Office of the Vice President would not help us understand their position by talking to us with equal openness.

Too bad the government (see my last post yesterday) prefers running things like a traveling gun salesman working out of his car trunk...
"Let's See...The Enemy of the Enemy of the Enemy...Once We've Trained Them... my friend? Or...hell, it's hard work."

H/T First Draft

Geez, Team Bush makes the Keystone Cops look like Mossad:

A few weeks before he died, a depressed Spc. Patrick Ryan McCaffrey called his father from Iraq and told him that he had just been fired upon by the Iraqi troops he was helping to train.

"They were on night patrol, and they had been fired upon by what they thought were 12 insurgents. They killed several of them, and three surrendered," said Bob McCaffrey on Tuesday in a phone interview with The Chronicle. "Some of the dead ones were part of the group that they had been training for a week, and the survivors were also part of that group."

McCaffrey said that his 34-year-old son notified his commanding officer but "was told to keep his mouth shut." A month later, on June 22, 2004, his son was dead. The Army said his unit was ambushed by enemy forces on a patrol near Balad, Iraq.

On Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said that the Army's Criminal Investigation Command has concluded that McCaffrey, from Tracy, and 2nd Lt. Andre Demetrius Tyson, 33, of Riverside, were killed by Iraqi soldiers who were patrolling alongside the U.S. soldiers.

"It's god-awful," said Bob McCaffrey, a Redding rancher and Army veteran. "It underlies the lie of this whole situation in Iraq. It's all to me a pack of lies."

Army Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman, the soldiers' commander at the time, and three other field officers are expected to brief Nadia McCaffrey, the mother of Patrick McCaffrey, today at her home in Tracy.

"I have a lot of questions to ask him," Nadia McCaffrey said Tuesday night.

The delegation is believed to have briefed Tyson family members Tuesday in Southern California...

There have been past reports of Iraqi soldiers and police switching sides -- such as Sunni troops joining insurgents in Fallujah in November 2004, or Shiite troops joining insurgents loyal to renegade cleric Moqtada al Sadr during his uprising earlier that year.

Kalev Sepp, assistant professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, said the problem was especially pronounced early in the conflict, around the time McCaffrey was killed.

"During the early part of the coalition occupation of Iraq, in the rush to quickly train so-called security forces -- civil defense corps and local militias and local police -- almost no vetting was done of personnel that were being recruited or brought through the training," said Sepp, whose multiple trips to Iraq have included working with U.S. forces training the Iraqi troops.

"Many insurgents deliberately joined these local forces to receive training and equipment and weapons from the Americans and then would immediately turn around and use them against the Americans," he said.

Sepp also noted it wasn't very surprising for news of the alleged killing to have taken so long to have come out, because in the early stages of the war casualties were often reported with minimal information -- such as the kind of weapon used in the attack -- and did not include information on who might have been responsible for the killing.

"In June of '04 ... things were so chaotic that there wasn't a clear reporting system," he said.

Bob McCaffrey said that his son was assigned to assist in the training of Iraqi civil defense forces, helping them learn how to fire their weapons accurately, march in order, and clean and dismantle their weapons. He also said that his son would call him frequently on a satellite phone.

McCaffrey said that he was not surprised at all by the Army's conclusions, but angry that it took the Pentagon so long to verify his suspicions about the incident. "It does not take two years to produce investigation results," he said. "I'm sure this was known very quickly."

He said that members of his son's company told him that insurgents were offering Iraqi soldiers about $100 apiece for each American they could kill.

"Members of his unit had mentioned to me and his mother a year ago that (Iraqi civil defense forces) were responsible for the ambush or a part of it," he said. "It wasn't the first time that they had turned on them. ... We discussed it openly and freely. Some of these boys are pretty traumatized over this."

Sad to say, I'm beginning to see how it's possible, as I somewhat rhetorically asked below, for the military to put soldiers in such an exposed, isolated positions (which resulted in abduction, torture, and death for two soldiers, and the equally tragic designation "KIA" for a third). Well, you don't have any choice but to look to the top: absent ANY plan or strategic vision, they've MADE the decision, de facto or not, that soldiers are expendable.

That's not just callous--that's dumb, and, if you ask me, criminal.
Who's Your Dummy?

Billmon beat me to the punch with an appropriate graphic so I went to the archives and recycled--I called the picture above "The Decider." Turns out Ron Suskind's latest makes the same case:

This book augments the portrait of Mr. Bush as an incurious and curiously uninformed executive that Mr. Suskind earlier set out in "The Price of Loyalty" and in a series of magazine articles on the president and key aides. In "The One Percent Doctrine," he writes that Mr. Cheney's nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen), casting Mr. Bush in the puppet role of Charlie McCarthy, and cites one instance after another in which the president was not fully briefed (or had failed to read the basic paperwork) about a crucial situation.

And check out this description of Operation Enduring Clusterfuck:

[The Iraq] war, according to the author's sources who attended National Security Council briefings in 2002, was primarily waged "to make an example" of Saddam Hussein, to "create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States."

Yeah, some example we've set:

Two U.S. soldiers, missing for three days since their abduction in an insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad, were found dead, a military spokesman said Tuesday, and a top U.S. commander ordered an investigation into why the men were isolated from a larger force in such a dangerous part of Iraq.

I was thinking the same thing yesterday as I read the reports: why WERE these young men in such an isolated, vulnerable situation?

Well, one reason why is because there IS...NO...PLAN.

You've got pResident Charley McCarthy, who's sphere of influence extends to chain saw and flight-suit selection.

Then there's VP Bergen--well, let's be fair to Candice's father--VP Bergen in an alternate universe (as I recently read somewhere else, where Spock is goateed)...anyway, he has no plan either, except to keep shoveling money to Halliburton the way food was served to Mr. Creosote (disturbing image warning). Dr. Strangefeld has no plan.

They keep barking about "how great" it is that "Saddam is gone"...but they neither know, nor seem to care that his replacement might well be worse (Moqtada As-Sadr, anyone?). Sorry to beat a dead horse, but they're NOT LEADING, THEY'RE CHEERLEADING.

"Go Team, Go," won't cut it, no matter how impressive it looks when Cheney makes Shrub speak even as he's downing glasses of water and heart pills.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Nope, Nothing to See Here...Move On"

You can't spell "greed and corruption" without GOP:

After all the reports of corporate crimes and contract abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan -- including the recent revelation by Halliburton Watch that Halliburton and its KBR subsidiary knowingly exposed thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to hazardous levels of unhealthy water from the Euphrates River, including human fecal matter -- the Senate was offered an opportunity on Tuesday to restore a measure of Congressional oversight to the process by which tax dollars are distributed to private corporations and the activities of those corporations in regions of the world that are supposed to be of critical importance to the United States.

As part of the Senate debate over the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 -- the Pentagon budget -- North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan proposed a simple amendment "to establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism."

The amendment was rejected.

Fifty-two senators voted "no" -- all of them Republicans, including supposed "straight-shooters" such as Arizona's John McCain and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel.

Forty-four senators voted "yes" -- all of them Democrats, except Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chafee.

Arguably, it was Chafee who cast the most courageous vote. He faces a September primary by a conservative foe who charges the Rhode Island moderate with failing to follow the party line. Of course, Chafee can counter by explaining that he did not know that, to be a good Republican, a senator must defend the freedom of corporations to provide U.S. troops with water containing fecal matter.

Well, they say patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels...though these days I'm tempted to replace "scoundrels" with "refuse," because these people are really no better than garbage.
An Army of Two...Chickenhawks

One way to get rid of that new car smell...

Leave it to Lamebone and Assrocket...can't say I'm surprised at all.

There are infectious diseases with more class than the two of them put together.

Alas, it's Menchaca and Tucker who've become two more tragic victims in this tragic and pointless war, leaving behind grieving families...if there was ANY justice in this world, Lamebone, Assrocket, and the entire contingent of chickenhawks would be [shitting themselves repeatedly] over there. Instead, to paraphrase John Murtha, they sit on their flabby asses in air-conditioned offices and convince themselves that cowardice is courage, even as they display ZERO capacity for reality as it applies to the lunatic neo-con chickenhawk fantasies in the Middle East.

Neither they--nor their chickenhawk masters in government--have a clue, much less any reasonable plan.

On the other hand, they show a capacity for being every bit as vicious and disgusting as those we charge with lacking in civilized graces:

One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques...

Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

The book also notes that Shrub's reaction to the August 6th PDB briefing was to tell the briefer, "All right. You've covered your ass, now." How "presidential"...

Then, if I remember right, he went out and played a round of golf...
Makes Me Wanna Holler

Thanks to my sister for sending me the link...enjoy.
Trying to Wash Us Away

h/t Scout Prime

You know...every damned day something comes along--indeed, today, SEVERAL things--that causes my outrage alert level to go off the scale. Let's start with this:

Ten months after Hurricane Katrina, three New Orleans firefighters who first witnessed and videotaped the breach at the 17th Street Canal came forward with their story after a Congressional investigation told them to stay silent.

At daybreak, Katrina was roaring and visibility was next to nothing. Nine firefighters were riding the storm out inside the Lake Marina Tower couldn't see much but heard plenty.

“The wind coming through back here...was like a freight train coming through there," said Captain Godron Case. "Howling; the noise it was making."

Shortly after 9 a.m., Captain Paul Hellmers, an 18-year veteran of the NOFD, said he saw something he wasn’t expecting: water rising in the back parking lot.

“I would say about 10 minutes after we saw it rising, I was pretty certain that the levee had to be breached cause it was rising at such a rate,” Hellmers said.

Hellmers grabbed his video camera and went up to a top floor stairwell. While the building swayed, he searched but couldn't see the breach until visibility cleared enough for him to zoom in a half a mile away. That’s when he found the water pouring in.

“When I saw that, I'm sure my coworkers had the same reaction.. My heart just dropped, even though I knew the levees were breached before that,” Hellmers said. “Seeing it, and just knowing the fate of the city was sealed.”

Captain Joe Fincher described the sight as “surreal.”

“You took it in and you wondered how high the water was going to be in the city,” he said. “My first instinct when we saw the levee break was this is bigger than 9-11. I thought the fatalities would be in the thousands, if not the tens of thousands, you know; it was heavy.”

“Heavy,” Fincher said, because it was their neighborhood; their homes. Just a couple of days before Katrina, he videotaped his Lakeview house for insurance purposes. But now it was filling up with 10 feet of water.

The floodwaters also destroyed the Lakeview home of Captain Case. He didn't see it happen, but he had firefighters on his crew watch from above as the water swallowed their homes.

“I guess it would have to be torture to know that you can see the water rising on your house and not being able to do anything about it,” Case said.

But as the water kept rising, the firefighters knew what their role would be: rescuers.

“Soon as we saw the water come into the parking lot I'm thinking, ‘people are going to be dying soon.’ That was my first thought,” Hellmers said.

By early afternoon when the winds calmed enough, the firemen swam out to find a boat, which still sits along in the condo parking lot wall to this day.

Capt. Case hotwired it and they made the first of many life saving trips into the neighborhood near the breach.

First, Here's Scout's question, and it's a good one: Why were they told not to talk?.

Second--whether or not it was "bigger than 9/11," this was an event that DEMANDED--and still demands--a genuine response from the national government. But the response of the government has been and remains pathetic, particularly by standards Team Bush set after 9/11.

Third, if you've got the time, read the WWL article again, and consider: when Team Bush and their legion of twits blames people for "living there," sure, there's plenty of good old fashioned Southern Strategy involved--which is appalling and ugly enough. But they're also poking a burnt stick into the eyes of people like these firefighters/first responders, who literally watched the inundation of their homes while risking their lives and working like hell rescuing people. That's not merely kicking folks while their down. That's spitting on heroes.

But that's just part of a day's work for the sick fucks who run the national government.

Monday, June 19, 2006

For Want of a Nail, The Shoe Was Lost...

If you've ever wondered how it's possible for a country to spend over $420 BILLION dollars on "defense" without providing adequate life-saving equipment--or for that matter, BULLETS--for soldiers, then check this out. It's a long article, but well worth reading as it juxtaposes a family's tragedy with bureaucratic inertia.

What gets scant mention is, of course, outright fraud, but I suppose in this day and age it's about as much as you can expect from the lapdog media.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is about to get another dose of martial law following the shooting deaths of five teenagers late Friday/early Saturday. Jeffrey has a final, last post up before getting waist-deep, if not neck-deep into a good cause--asking if more than the shootings prompted the governor's decision. Of course, he's just kidding...or maybe kidding on the square.
Into All Lives, Some Rain Must Fall

Suspect Device has a very good post up in response to liberal/left reaction to Blanco signing the trigger law banning abortion in the Gret Stet. If you've got a minute, take a look.

Reactions aside, it's still a horseshit law, as I noted in comments there.
GOP Waves the Bloody Shirt

Oh, wait, wrong bloody shirt...where's the one featuring the "gay, married terrorist?"

Krugman and Rich are both worth a look...and since I haven't found a link to the former thus far, I'll thank my friend for letting me peak behind the "Select" wall...and thank the same friend for not minding that I'm posting it for y'all:

Class War Politics
In case you haven't noticed, modern American politics is marked by vicious partisanship, with the great bulk of the viciousness coming from the right. It's clear that the Republican plan for the 2006 election is, once again, to question Democrats' patriotism.

But do Republican leaders truly believe that they are serious about fighting terrorism, while Democrats aren't? When the speaker of the House declares that "we in this Congress must show the same steely resolve as those men and women on United Flight 93," is that really the way he sees himself? (Dennis Hastert, Man of Steel!) Of course not.

So what's our bitter partisan divide really about? In two words: class warfare. That's the lesson of an important new book, "Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches," by Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, Keith Poole of the University of California, San Diego, and Howard Rosenthal of New York University.

"Polarized America" is a technical book written for political scientists. But it's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what's happening to America.

What the book shows, using a sophisticated analysis of Congressional votes and other data, is that for the past century, political polarization and economic inequality have moved hand in hand. Politics during the Gilded Age, an era of huge income gaps, was a nasty business — as nasty as it is today. The era of bipartisanship, which lasted for roughly a generation after World War II, corresponded to the high tide of America's middle class. That high tide began receding in the late 1970's, as middle-class incomes grew slowly at best while incomes at the top soared; and as income gaps widened, a deep partisan divide re-emerged.

Both the decline of partisanship after World War II and its return in recent decades mainly reflected the changing position of the Republican Party on economic issues.

Before the 1940's, the Republican Party relied financially on the support of a wealthy elite, and most Republican politicians firmly defended that elite's privileges. But the rich became a lot poorer during and after World War II, while the middle class prospered. And many Republicans accommodated themselves to the new situation, accepting the legitimacy and desirability of institutions that helped limit economic inequality, such as a strongly progressive tax system. (The top rate during the Eisenhower years was 91 percent.)

When the elite once again pulled away from the middle class, however, Republicans turned their back on the legacy of Dwight Eisenhower and returned to a focus on the interests of the wealthy. Tax cuts at the top — including repeal of the estate tax — became the party's highest priority.

But if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless.

Thus in 2004, President Bush basically ran as America's defender against gay married terrorists. He waited until after the election to reveal that what he really wanted to do was privatize Social Security.

Pre-New Deal G.O.P. operatives followed the same strategy. Republican politicians won elections by "waving the bloody shirt" — invoking the memory of the Civil War — long after the G.O.P. had ceased to be the party of Lincoln and become the party of robber barons instead. Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic presidential candidate, was defeated in part by a smear campaign — burning crosses and all — that exploited the heartland's prejudice against Catholics.

So what should we do about all this? I won't offer the Democrats advice right now, except to say that tough talk on national security and affirmations of personal faith won't help: the other side will smear you anyway.

But I would like to offer some advice to my fellow pundits: face reality. There are some commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore, and flock eagerly to any politician who looks "centrist." But there isn't any center in modern American politics. And the center won't return until we have a new New Deal, and rebuild our middle class.
Why, Meemaw, Why?

Graphic courtesy of Dependable Renegade

Signing draconian anti-abortion bills WON'T curry favor with the red-meat twitnuts. They're already doing their best to tie a Katrina anchor around your neck and toss you off the lifeboat.

On the flip side, those of us who take an adult position re: abortion are profoundly disappointed in your decision. You--and the state legislature--are on record now in defining women as second-class citizens, lacking any voice in a significant matter as it relates to their health, should this horribly-but-aptly named "trigger law" get the green light from the Roberts Court.

YRHT has more.
Empty Calories

I guess you've already read this article/.pdf or the reprint over at Juan Cole's site that throws a big bucket of cold water all over any insistance from Team Bush that things are somehow improving for their defining project a/k/a Operation-It-Ain't-Just-a-River-in-Egypt. Aside from the ongoing necessity for turning official state visits into official state secrets--which, in any reality-based assessment, would be a big red flag indicating either paranoid absurdity or absolute cluster-fuck--the memo makes it awfully clear--no pun intended--that circumstances in Mesopotamia are just that: awful to an almost impossible to imagine degree.

You know, initially I was going to entitle this post something like "Would You Trust Your Car Mechanic With Open-Heart Surgery?..." but I thought that would be unfair to all the tradesmen who recognize both their skill sets AND limitations. Unfortunately, that sort of wisdom seems utterly lost on the overgrown, brats-on-steroids we've got running things...who daily cause my outrage meter to peg off-the-scale. Late last week and over the weekend, it was the latest spectacle of Karl Rove, well, behaving like he always does, mixing and matching the whininess of a spoiled three year old with chickenhawk bravado. Think Progress also documents more lunacy from Tony Snow--everything from "the press is focused too much on kidnapped American soldiers" to contradicting his administration on the Taliban. And Big Time continues to explore his inner, stubborn, lunatic old man, insisting that the in it's last throes. Has anyone checked up on the side effects of his meds?

Meanwhile, the "opposition" continues to play Berry Gordy to the public's Marvin Gaye: insisting on safe, trite material when it's freaking obvious that a change is needed...a change that's far less "radical" than these so called "leaders" think.

"Change" in this case is a relatively simple matter of putting some adults in charge. Whether you want to give Team Bush enough credit to call them an example of a self-fulfilling "Lord of the Flies" or consider them more a poorly acted version of an old Star Trek plot (albeit with horrible, and deadly consequences), the truth is that we've got an administration consisting of people who either never have grown up...or decided, for one reason or another, to explore their inner the expense of the country.

Either way, it makes meaningful debate almost impossible--particularly when the "referees," i.e., the media, have thrown in with the perpetual high-schoolers (or have their heads firmly planted up their backsides). And, worse still, high-schoolers, when they aren't given any kind of limits, are quite capable of behavior that's at best reckless, at worst, dangerous, and not just to themselves.

Two years ago, I actually had the chance to speak to candidate John Kerry for a second or so while he shook my hand. I told him he should emphasize "competence," not realizing that was Mike Dukakis', ahem, losing message in 1988...'s not like the Kerry campaign couldn't have afforded--and looked at--a copy of Roget's Thesaurus. And I continue to wonder why Democrats in general are afraid to CHALLENGE twitnuts like Team Bush, particularly when it comes to the Mesopotamian black hole on the one hand...and their twin incompetence on pressing domestic issues like Gulf Coast recovery on the other. I mean, it's not like they can even claim some sort of Midas-like golden touch--everything THEY handle turns to lead...or rust.

They're twits, for chrissakes. In other words, it shouldn't be THAT difficult to come up with a winning strategy. And I'll keep pressing for some variant on "time to put the adults in charge." Call for taking away their keys, for grounding them, etc. etc. (and make them react, preferably with juvenile rage, which has the benefit of reinforcing the point)...but above all, get them outta there before they can do more damage.