Friday, September 29, 2006

GOP Skinflints Don't Care About US Soldiers

From Cursor, a link to Vote for Vets, which produced a must-see television ad (you can get to it from their main page).

The Grand Old Perverts (well, at least Mark Foley) Skinflints, including Senators Kyl (AZ), Burns (MN), Santorum (PA)--and 49 of their colleagues--voted against a supplemental appropriation sponsored by Mary Landrieu that would've provided up to $1 billion dollars for purchasing equipment such as "helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests." (from Salon--for some reason, my day pass from yesterday is still working...good).

Hmmm...seems as if Senator Macaca (or, as Watertiger suggested the other day, Macacawitz), also opted for skinflint mode.

Actually, what's pretty amazing is that they'd even need a supplemental--the Defense Department has had roughly $2 TRILLION dollars to play with over the last five years. Maybe it's just me, but you'd figure that they could find the money for equipment SOMEWHERE, given that it's the FUCKING DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, at least officially, as opposed to the Department of Let's Throw Money at Pet Projects.

Anyway, check it out...and that's not the only instance of our government doing exactly the opposite of what it should be.
Something About This Picture Looked Wrong

And then it hit me...someone was missing:

Actually, the top photo comes courtesy of Pravda on the Hudson, along with a review/report about Bob Woodward's new book.

The report, if accurate, suggests Bob might have developed a tolerance for whatever flavor of Kool-Aid is distributed in and around the Executive Branch. Then again, it's his role in Plamegate most likely resulted in limiting Mr. Woodward's access anyway, necessitating a cold turkey withdrawal/partial recovery.

Because an addict is always an addict.

Hey, sort of like how Team Bush is addicted to lying, and absolute power...which explains their ever more hyper rhetoric...
The Iraqi Policy

Another $70 as a "down payment." Hell, Saddam Hussein is beginning to look like a fiscal conservative in comparison...or, at the very least, someone who expected something in return for outlays of public money.

Approval by a comfortable margin came despite intense partisan divisions over the course of the Iraq war, which is costing about $8 billion a month. Another infusion of money will be needed next spring...

The House-Senate compromise bill provides $378 billion for core Pentagon programs, about a 5 percent increase, though slightly less than President Bush asked for. The $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan is a down payment on war costs the White House has estimated will hit $110 billion for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.

Congress has now approved $507 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and heightened security at overseas military bases since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The war in Iraq has cost $379 billion and the conflict in Afghanistan now totals $97 billion.

And what are we getting for our $500 billion? Squat--slipshod construction (or is that "shitshod"?), a broken military, defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan...although Big Time Dick's raking in shareholder profits, and the boy chimperator haughtily announces that anyone with a reality based worldview is a second-guessing cut 'n runner.

AND, as an added bonus, the administration is too immature to even consider cleaning the mess in their OWN country along the Gulf Coast. How can anyone think they're capable of achieving whatever the modern equivalent of "peace with honor" is, much less cleaning up the mess they've made over there?

Well, what do you expect from vicious, evil idiots?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hubris and Stupidity

Laura and Shrub Jong Il

You'd think on a day when 40 torture/murder victims were found in Baghdad alone, when good buddy Bob Woodward reports that attacks against US forces occur, on average, every 15 minutes, when the NIE parts that were declassified indicate the "War on Terror" is going about as well as the Donner Party's trek to'd think Shrub would adopt, at the very least, a slightly more reflective tone (if not attitude: hell, he should be begging forgiveness from now until judgement day).

But the boy emperor instead insists all is well, while proffering a chuckleheaded smirk at the nominal (but oh so loyal) opposition:

President Bush suggested Thursday that Democrats don't have the stomach to fight the war on terror, battling back in the election-season clamor over administration intelligence showing terrorism spreading.

Hmmm...have you noticed, by the way, how a certain domestic issue (hint: the devastation of the Gulf Coast) has been swept under the proverbial rug by these assclowns?

I mean, jeez: they couldn't respond to a slow moving storm--how on earth does ANYONE think they could respond to a terror threat?
Ownership Society

One popular bit of administration rhetoric is the obnoxious references to "ownership society" in matters like health care, social security, and so on. It's a classic propaganda ploy--after all, who'd be against "owning" a particular asset? Of course, what goes unmentioned are things like economy of scale--or the proverbial "fool in the [securities or commodities] market," who becomes a victim for any number of reasons.

Sometimes the reason is plain old fraud:

In a tightknit neighborhood, where people’s social lives often revolve around their churches, Beulah Penn and her daughter, Sharon, were well-connected and trusted. Beulah Penn was a lay minister in a local church; her daughter, Sharon Penn, dressed hair.

Using these connections, according to a recent lawsuit, the two women and another relative in Indianapolis perpetrated one of the largest mortgage frauds in American history, victimizing dozens of local residents and, according to sources with knowledge of the accusations, at least $40 million in fraudulent loans — perhaps even twice that amount.

“Looking back, maybe it sounded too good to be true, but everyone knew them, and my friends went to church with them, people I been knowing for 10 years,” said Timothy Jacobs, a 29-year-old worker in a fiber-optics factory who discovered recently that he owed $200,000 on two houses in Indiana. “They said they’d be responsible for everything. Now everyone’s probably going to end up filing for bankruptcy.” ...

Martinsville, a small Piedmont city of 14,925, once known for its Nascar track and its thriving textile mills, has lost both population and its economic base since the mills and furniture industries moved overseas in the 1990’s. Small older houses and often empty businesses cluster in the center of town, with larger, more expensive developments — like the ones the Penns moved to — on the fringes.

The median household income is about half the state average. Mr. Jacobs, who was out of work for nine months after a mill closed, said he and his friends saw the real estate venture as a chance to get back on their feet after setbacks. “Now we don’t know what to do,” he said.

I wonder if Team Bush will proffer a few pious pronouncements of the variety uttered when it became apparent that Enron was spiraling downward faster than an airplane on final approach to Baghdad...nah, probably not: Enron was a special case, thanks to the ties that somehow didn't bind Lay/Skilling/Fastow fraud to this administration like an albatross wired to one's neck. But this sort of stuff IS telling.

In a world envisioned by Team Bush, it wouldn't just be your savings that might/could be swindled: it could be your retirement or your health care funds, too. And, c'mon--if the swindler didn't get caught, do you think this administration would give a hot damn?

Hell, they'd probably solicit a campaign contribution.
Media Needle's Latest Film Noir

With a pre-Katrina New Orleans as the setting. Above is only one of Morse's panels--the rest of the story is well worth the visit.
From the People Who Brought You This

Comes this:

A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."

"This is the most essential civil security project in the country -- and it's a failure," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. "The Baghdad police academy is a disaster."

Bowen's office plans to release a 21-page report Thursday detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Even in a $21 billion reconstruction effort that has been marred by cases of corruption and fraud, failures in training and housing Iraq's security forces are particularly significant because of their effect on what the U.S. military has called its primary mission here: to prepare Iraqi police and soldiers so that Americans can depart.

Federal investigators said the inspector general's findings raise serious questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to exercise effective oversight over the Baghdad Police College or reconstruction programs across Iraq, despite charging taxpayers management fees of at least 4.5 percent of total project costs. The Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that it has initiated a wide-ranging investigation of the police academy project.

The report serves as the latest indictment of Parsons Corp., the U.S. construction giant that was awarded about $1 billion for a variety of reconstruction projects across Iraq. After chronicling previous Parsons failures to properly build health clinics, prisons and hospitals, Bowen said he now plans to conduct an audit of every Parsons project.

"The truth needs to be told about what we didn't get for our dollar from Parsons," Bowen said.

A spokeswoman for Parsons said the company had not seen the inspector general's report.

Here's Parsons' website--a search for "Iraq" turns up 97 documents. Parsons has also done work in the US (another search indicates some sort of construction project associated with Armstrong Airport in NOLA...hmmm).

Ah, the joys of corporate welfare, at least for the shareholders and the board...the latter whom, if there was any justice in this world, would be forced to live in the Iraqi police barracks until they were properly fixed.
From Habeas Corpus to Skeletons in the Closet

A big, sarcastic "thanks" to all the Senators and Representatives who voted against perhaps THE most important concept ever conceived to ensure limited government. Way to go, folks.

You know, at least the skeleton pictured above has a SPINE.

(and, of course, a genuine thanks to those who voted against this pathetic piece of legislation).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Scout and Greg Peters both point to this unbelievable example of hubris/ugliness:

A company that contracts with State Farm Insurance Co. is suing two former employees who are helping a prominent attorney build cases against the insurer for denying claims after Hurricane Katrina.

E.A. Renfroe & Company, a Birmingham, Ala.-based insurance adjusting firm, alleges in its lawsuit that Cori and Kerri Rigsby broke the law when they turned over reams of internal State Farm records to attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

The Rigsbys, sisters who were assigned by Renfroe to help adjust claims for State Farm, claim the documents show that the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer manipulated engineers' reports on storm-damaged homes so that policyholders' claims could be denied.

The sisters resigned from Renfroe after telling a State Farm supervisor in June that they were cooperating with Scruggs, who calls them "whistleblowers." The Rigsbys also turned over copies of the documents to state and federal authorities.

State Farm and Renfroe sound to me like the kind of people that'd run you over in their car...then try to charge you for the gasoline...and the damage to the front grille.
With Liberty and Torture...

...for anyone they declare to be an enemy combatant.

We've descended down an awfully long flight of stairs from the words of Emma Lazarus.

From Hullabaloo:

Most of the attention in the press has focused on subsection (i) of the definition, which would designate as an UEC any "person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces)." And that subsection is, indeed, broad, and fairly indeterminate, depending on how "materially supported hostilities" is interpreted (something that the Administration apparently could do without much or any judicial review).

But the really breathtaking subsection is subsection (ii), which would provide that UEC is defined to include any person "who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense."

Read literally, this means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to "hostilities" at all.

And here's Pravda on the Hudson's "report."
Maybe the Deer's Name was Khartoum

Karma catches up with you, Senator.

Salon's ad-based view is actually working for me today:

A former college football teammate of Sen. George Allen's has confirmed details of a controversial hunting trip in the early 1970s, during which Allen is alleged to have placed a severed deer head in a mailbox that he believed to be owned by a black family.

On Sunday, Salon reported that Ken Shelton, a former teammate of Allen's who works as a radiologist in North Carolina, claimed that Allen asked after a hunting trip for directions to a neighborhood populated by black residents. Shelton said Allen then drove him and another teammate, Billy Lanahan, to the area and put the severed head of a deer they had killed into a mailbox.

George Beam, a nuclear engineering company manager who lives outside Lynchburg, Va., now says he can confirm parts of that story. Beam, who played football with Allen, said he remembers Lanahan, who is now deceased, describing the hunting trip with Allen and Shelton.

"We were sitting around drinking beer," Beam said in an interview Wednesday morning, recalling the conversation with Lanahan. "Billy said, 'George and Kenny and I went hunting, and we decided at some time to cut off this deer head and stick it in a mailbox.'"

Beam said he does not remember Lanahan saying that the incident was racially motivated. He also said Lanahan did not specify who had the idea to put the deer head in the mailbox.

In a press appearance Monday, Allen dismissed Shelton's claims as "absolutely false," "pure fabrication" and "nonsense," according to the Washington Post.

Beam said he was motivated to speak to a reporter about his memory because of recent attacks against Shelton's integrity by people close to the Allen campaign, a group that includes several former teammates. "I knew Kenny Shelton, and his reputation in my opinion is irreproachable," Beam said Wednesday morning, adding that he had not spoken to Shelton in decades.

Lanahan died this year at the age of 53. His aunt, Martha Belle Chisholm, told Salon last week that Lanahan's family owned land near Bumpass, Va., about 50 miles east of the University of Virginia campus, where Allen played football in college. Chisholm said she remembered Lanahan speaking highly of Allen.

Beam played as a quarterback and a wide receiver on the University of Virginia football team during the 1972, '73 and '74 seasons. Beam said he lived with Lanahan between 1971 and 1973. Beam described himself as a political independent who leans "more Republican than anything," and has not yet decided whether to vote for Allen in November.

In the Post Wednesday, Chris LaCivita, a consultant for the Allen campaign, suggested that Shelton had fabricated the deer head story because a similar incident had been reported in North Carolina in January. Shelton said he had never heard of the North Carolina report, and called LaCivita's allegation ridiculous.

More stories like this, and the Senator's political career might be sleeping with Luca Brasi...and the fishes.
Their Master's Voice
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The Agonist (h/t Cursor) offers an additional explanation for Shrub's "comma/let-the-victims-of-my-war-of-choice-eat-(yellow) cake" crack...emphasis on crack, as in "crackpots:"

A lot of people have been slamming Bush for his comment that Iraq is "just a comma" [1]. As an e-mail correspondent pointed out, this is another case where Bush is using code words to speak directly to his Christian right base.

The phrase is: "Never put a period where God has put a comma." Which is to say - it ain't over yet, and God may well make it better. So Iraq's bad, but if we trust in God, he'll make it better.

This is the thing about Bush - he is constantly littering his speeches with code words and phrases meant for the religious right. Other people don't hear them, but they do, and most of the time it allows Bush both to say what those who aren't evangelical or born again want to hear, while still reassuring the religious right wants to hear...

The other name for this is dog whistle politics. When you blow a dog whistle humans can't hear it, but the dogs sure can. It's a pitch higher than humans can hear. When you speak in code like this, most of the time the only people who hear and understand what you just said are the intended group, who have an understanding of the world and a use of words that is not shared by the majority of the population. So it allows you to send out two messages at once - one pitched for the majority of Americans, the other pitched for a subgroup. This goes on all the time, and usually it isn't caught - most people don't hear it, and the media is made up of people who can't make the connections because they don't belong to these subgroups. So they can't point out the subtext either.

It's very effective, and it's one reason why Bush still has his hard core of support - he's constantly reassuring them, at a pitch the rest of us can't hear.

That said, I think dogs are a good bit smarter, to be perfectly honest.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fish Gotta Swim, Bird Gotta Fly...
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And rat gotta desert the sinking ship:

The war in Iraq has not made the world safer from terror, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has told CNN, saying he stands by statements on the subject he makes in his new book, "In the Line of Fire."

In the book, Musharraf -- a key ally who is often portrayed as being in complete agreement with U.S. President George W. Bush on the war on terror and other issues -- writes he never supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"I stand by it, absolutely," Musharraf told CNN's "The Situation Room." Asked whether he disagreed with Bush, he said, "I've stated whatever I had to ... it [the war] has made the world a more dangerous place."...

Musharraf would not be drawn into a debate over Bush's comments last week to CNN that he would send U.S. forces into Pakistan if he had credible information that Osama bin Laden was there, instead of letting Pakistan handle the situation itself.

"It's a very sensitive issue," he said. "We should not be discussing how and who is to deliver the blow, but whenever we locate him, we have to deal with him. And let's leave it at that and let's not get into the sensitivities of who and how it will be done."

Musharraf bristled when asked why the United States could operate in neighboring Afghanistan but not Pakistan.

"Please don't compare Pakistan with Afghanistan," he said. I understand what WIIIAI really meant.

And I'll hand it to Musharraf--unlike a certain preznut, he's not stupid, that's for sure.
Administration Also Insists Gasoline Makes "Excellent" Fire Extinguisher
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AmericaBlog posted a .pdf outlining the major points of the NIE. Short version: the deep macaca that is Iraq is fueling the fire/fanning the flames of international terrorism.

Given that OUR options in Iraq range from awful to even worse, I think that constitutes a pretty major victory...that we've literally GIVEN them--on a silver platter*.

The Bush Administration--enabling terrorism since January of 2001.

*if Senator George Allen is reading this, he can substitute the more appropriate--for him--expression "in spades" for "silver platter."
Pay No Attention to the Liar Behind the Curtain
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The education preznut/administration lends a whole new meaning to "the dog ate my homework report," written by NOAA, and suggesting that global warming might (duh) play a part in spawning killer storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:

The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday...

Nature said weather experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — part of the Commerce Department — in February set up a seven-member panel to prepare a consensus report on the views of agency scientists about global warming and hurricanes.

According to Nature, a draft of the statement said that warming may be having an effect.

In May, when the report was expected to be released, panel chair Ants Leetmaa received an e-mail from a Commerce official saying the report needed to be made less technical and was not to be released, Nature reported.

Needed to be made "less technical" is, I guess, the new euphamism for "lie your asses off."

A series of studies over the past year or so have shown an increase in the power of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a strengthening that many storm experts say is tied to rising sea-surface temperatures.

Just two weeks ago, researchers said that most of the increase in ocean temperature that feeds more intense hurricanes is a result of human-induced global warming, a study one researcher said "closes the loop" between climate change and powerful storms like Katrina...

The possibility of global warming affecting hurricanes is politically sensitive because the administration has resisted proposals to restrict release of gases that can cause warming conditions.
Same Old Dog, Same Old, Tired "Tricks"
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Just wait till he starts begging...

Shrub went into used war salesman mode today for purposes of promoting his late model Operation Enduring Clusterfuck Iraq lemon--in the face of overwhelming evidence of its, well, to coin a potential Bushism, "clusterfuckedness:"

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday said it is naive and a mistake to think that the war with Iraq has worsened terrorism, as a key portion of a national intelligence assessment by his own administration suggests.

Because, after all, who you gonna believe: him, or your reality-based, lyin' eyes?

(sorry I'm off to such a late start today--had to go to an off-site seminar).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Geaux NOLA

And not just the Saints--Scout at First Draft pointed to this must read post from Da Po' Blog.

Truth be told, I'll be watching the game too, assuming I get back in time from my weekly encounter with, ahem, exercise (I play in a local tennis rec-level league--not real good, mind you, but it's SOMETHING, and I definitely need it, as anyone who saw me at Rising Tide can attest). But Da Po' Boy really makes the point:

I am not so sure that a functioning Superdome is a symbol of a functioning city. If the city were functioning properly, this game would not be such a big deal. It would be expected.

Make a list of all the services a city needs to function. From health care, to police, to firefighters, to electricity, to sewerage and water, to small businesses, to infrastructure upkeep, to housing – none of them are “bouncing back.” Limping back, maybe. But no bouncing.

This Monday we will prove to the nation that we can still put on a world class show – even when we haven’t yet recovered. But the next day, will anybody be trying to prove to the city’s residents that we can put on a world class recovery? Anybody?

Let me repeat: I will be in that number. I will be distracted for a day by Jesus in cleats (“Cleatus” for short?). But it’s only one day, and I am not waiting for a savior to come down from on high to fix New Orleans. I don’t believe in Jesus in a Tyvek suit.

So, geaux NOLA--and if the Saints win, too, well, that's always a nice little bonus, my opinions about American rules football notwithstanding.
And th' Sugar Ration's Gone Up, Too!

Um, I mean the fuel prices have gone, or not.

Anyway, the mercies of Big Time Big Brother INGSOC have made their way to the nation's transportation hubs:

The new rules, which will go into effect Tuesday, allow travelers to carry liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less, as long as they all fit into a clear 1-quart plastic bag that can be screened at the security checkpoint. Drinks and other items purchased in the secure part of the airport, beyond the checkpoint, will also be allowed onto planes.

The new regulations will apply to all domestic and international flights departing from United States airports, the agency said.

The decision slightly relaxes a broad ban on liquids and gels in carry-on bags. The ban was imposed last month after British officials arrested a group of people who they said were planning to bomb airplanes flying to the United States, using liquids combined on board to form explosives.

The changes ease the “somewhat blunt measures” imposed on Aug. 10 after the arrests in Britain, said Michael Jackson, the deputy secretary of the department. He said security experts had concluded that small quantities of eye drops, lip gloss or perfume do not constitute a danger to aircraft.

How kind of them...
George Allen: "I'd Never Do Something Like That...

...and my good friends will vouch for me."

Of course, consider the source: Allen still insists "macaca" had no racial connotations either:

In an Associated Press interview Monday, Allen vehemently denied the allegations [Ken] Shelton [a former college football teammate of Allen] made in an article published Sunday in the online magazine and an AP interview Sunday night. His campaign released statements from four other ex-teammates defending Allen and rejecting Shelton's claims.

"The story and his comments and assertions in there are completely false," Allen said during an interview with AP reporters and editors. "I don't remember ever using that word and it is absolutely false that that was ever part of my vocabulary."

The Republican has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008, but questions about racial insensitivity have dogged him throughout his re-election bid against Democrat Jim Webb. Allen's use of the word "macaca" in referring to a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent in August prompted an outcry. The word denotes a genus of monkeys and, in some cultures, is considered an ethnic slur, but the senator insists he did not know that and had simply made the word up.

Shelton, a tight end and wide receiver for the Cavaliers in the early 1970s, said Allen used the N-word only around white teammates.

Shelton said the incident with the deer occurred during their college days when he, Allen and another teammate who has since died were hunting on property the third man's family owned.

Shelton said Allen asked the other teammate where black families lived in the area, then stuffed a female deer's head into the mail box of one of the homes.

"George insisted on taking the severed head, and I was a little shocked by that," Shelton said.

"This was just after the movie "The Godfather" came out with the severed horse's head in the bed," Shelton told the AP.
Shrub Shrugged

"Just a comma" equals:

Almost 3,000 US soldiers killed.
Over 20,000 US soldiers wounded.
Severe weakening of US armed forces.
Greater threat of terrorism.
$317 Billion dollars...and counting.
Debates on what constitues "acceptable" torture.
Ignoring the devastation of the US Gulf Coast by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, AND
the flooding of New Orleans due to faulty, poorly maintained levees.

And that's just for starters.

Greg Mitchell had the same thought I had--maybe he meant "coma." Well, only if he's describing himself, or his entire sorry administration, which, REPEATEDLY, makes the wrong decisions, chooses the low road, or otherwise humiliates the country.

For crying out loud, let's make the next three years the "last throes" for these assclowns.