Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Tiny House Post

Taking a break from the usual chronicling of Team Bush arrogance, stupidity, cynicism, thuggery, etc., here's a Pravda-Upon-Hudson article that focuses on small, affordable, and easily constructed houses:

A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes.

Note: The Katrina Cottage gets a mention. And every one of the structures pictured in the audio slide show looks better--and is probably built more soundly--than a FEMA trailer.

Oh--and yeah, I saw the Pravda article about NOLA today, but I'm guessing everyone stopping by has probably already looked at it. Again, it speaks volumes that this country either can't or won't fix problems RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA, but instead, insists on blowing shit up overseas...

So...I guess this isn't a break from chronicling Team Bush thuggery, arrogance, and stupidity after all...
A Second Helping of Pure Evil

Don't forget to check out Part II of the Roger Morris analysis of Rumsfeld and the Dick, appropriately entitled The Undertaker's Tally.

Citing a few paragraphs here just doesn't do proper justice. It's long, but worth reading.
Getting Better All The Time*

Why, it's doubleplusgood in Baghdad today:

Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, a spokesman for the Baghdad commander, said only 10 bodies had been reported by the morgue in the capital, compared to an average of 40 to 50 per day.

"This shows a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad," he said on Iraqi state television.

Does that mean Moussawi's a morgue-half-empty or a morgue-half-full type?

Meanwhile, things are only plusgood in Baquaba, I guess:

"Watch out for snipers," one of the soldiers said as I stepped out of the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle and stared at the deserted street.

Shops were shuttered, and mountains of trash were piled everywhere. I felt a wave of shock.

When I had walked these streets less than a year ago, the air was filled with the buzz of shoppers, vendors screaming prices and blaring car horns. Rows of stalls were filled with everything from fruits and vegetables to women's lingerie, electronic equipment and music. It was a bustling marketplace.

But now, everything is different in this city of 300,000. Baquba is a virtual ghost town where most residents stay inside most of the day for fear of being kidnapped and tortured or killed.
The Many Faces of Lincoln

Let's see--there's the reality-based, historical interpretation:

I am now through the whole of the President's evidence; and it is a singular fact, that if any one should declare the President sent the army into the midst of a settlement of Mexican people, who had never submited, by consent or by force, to the authority of Texas or of the United States, and that there, and thereby, the first blood of the war was shed, there is not one word in all the President has said, which would either admit or deny the declaration.


With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.


And then...there's the wingnut fantasy version

Greenwald explains.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

OK Democrats, Time to Get Up Off This

From First Draft:

One of the few Democrats Melancon praised was Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who as head of the Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the shortage of affordable housing in the hurricane zone and proposed a bill to shift $500 million in profits from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to build rental property.

But Melancon expressed dismay that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the housing subcommittee, has called for rewriting Louisiana's Road Home grant program for flooded-out homeowners.

Waters, who has traveled to the region five times, called the Road Home program "a joke" and suggested at a hearing last week that Congress rewrite the rules to speed the disbursement of checks. As of last week, only some 500 had been issued.

"She wants to start from scratch," Melancon said. "If you stop it right now and start anew, it will be another year" before the money flows.

Melancon, a second-term Democrat whose South Louisiana district was hit by both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has proved to be one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. He served on the House committee that investigated the response to Hurricane Katrina and was consistently critical of the Bush administration's actions and policies.


Recovery from the storm and floodwall failure must be made a national priority. And I'll keep repeating: IF YOU CAN'T FIX NEW ORLEANS, YOU DON'T STAND A CHANCE IN IRAQ. Period. End of story.
Shrub Antoinette

You know, I'd actually been wondering about this, although in my own case it was because I watched FEMA spring into action following the tornados in Florida a week or two ago.

In case anyone's wondering what the Bush Administration position is on New Orleans, that's been answered. It's: drop dead

Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency yesterday afternoon, and asked the White House to do likewise. As of right now, late Wednesday night, the response from George W. Bush is that he will present the governor a timetable for when he will "consider" declaring the New Orleans area in a state of emergency.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The scenario lacks playful guitar strumming and a birthday cake at a desert resort, but it is all too similar to what happened in early September of 2005.

Bush declared an emergency within 24 hours of a tornado which recently struck Mississippi.

Fortunately, New Orleanians are far stronger than Team Bush realizes. Indeed, the rebirth of New Orleans will stand in marked contrast to the epic failures of this administration...

The title of this post was my initial reaction to reading this fine example of paranoid political hyperbole from Representative Virgil "Goober" Goode, representatin' the fine state of Vah-gin-yah:

When the commentary begins in the Middle East, in no way do I want to comfort and encourage the radical Muslims who want to destroy our country and who want to wipe the so-called infidels like myself and many of you from the face of the Earth. In no way do I want to aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country. I fear that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see “In God We Trust” stricken from our money and replaced with “In Muhammad We Trust.”

Geez--you get the feeling Goode still sleeps with a light on, just in case, um, you know, because of the monsters under the bed and in the closet?
Just Once...

...I'd like to see a little truth in advertising on the damned backdrops...

So, Boy Emperor Arbusto must've decided that neglecting Afghanistan like a once shiny new toy now turned to rust might not have been such a good idea after all, particularly given that Iraq is the mother of all hellholes, while flight-forward to Iran isn't exactly generating blind obedience (despite his or the media's best efforts to fan the flames of a good-old fashioned two-minute hate).

He'd have better luck grasping onto splinters following a shipwreck.

Once again, ignorance of a region--the history, the customs, the people--is contributing to a massive policy failure. But the real problem is that I doubt wingnuttia can even understand THAT...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Clown in Chief...

...meets with his clown press corpse

Boy, they were just guffawing, yucking it up, and otherwise having a good old time (am watching the presser on C-Span 2 as I type). No, phoning it in on a level unprecedented--even from their patron St. Ronald the Nitwit Himself--doesn't send the "wrong message" to the troops in any way.

Certainly it doesn't send the wrong message for four more soldiers who won't be coming home. Too bad they had to cut it short, but, like Shrub said, a guy's gotta eat...and Robert Gates can't be kept waiting.

WIIIAI also caught the line of the day:

"I fully recognize we're not going to be able to stop all suicide bombers. I know that. But we can help secure that capital; help the Iraqis secure that capital so that people have a sense of normalcy". Normalcy with suicide bombers.

Between this pitiful example of preznutin', and other howlers--like wingnut "intellectual," in a very loose definition, Frank Gaffney, flat out lying--you've really gotta wonder. My own speculation is that Shrub himself--or the Dick behind the curtain--will have some sort of public meltdown before the 2008 election. The question will be whether or not this sort of meltdown is reported for what it is--the ultimate example of the cynicism, the sheer ineptitude mixed with greed that defines this era--or whether it will be swept under the proverbial rug. I expect yer "librul" media will opt for the latter, even as they avoid the most obvious and egregious example of this, which is, and I keep repeating it, but, why not?

If they can't fix the problems HERE, most obviously along the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, but in fact, throughout the country, how on earth can ANYONE expect them to turn the elephant shit they've made out of Iraq into anything even approaching success?
Not That I Needed Any Convincing, But...

In case you were wondering, and if you've got the time, Roger Morris, over at Tom Dispatch, has Part I of an analysis of Donald Rumsfeld and the Dick Cheney. Part II is scheduled to be released later this week.

Short version: Morris asks, how vicious, how evil, and for how long? Then, he answers: Very, unbelievably, and for a LONG TIME:

Across an age gap of almost a decade, despite the distance between charged and calm, North Shore and Casper, Princeton and Wyoming, country club Congressman and lumpen-proletarian repairman, they shared something rarely then so openly admitted on the right: an abhorrence of the liberations sweeping the 1960s, not just the right's pet scourges of bureaucracy, crime, drugs, social fragmentation, and (however suitably coded) racial integration, but the unsettling ferment of newfound freedoms and honesty, the defiance of cultural and institutional oppressions -- especially by minorities and women. They detested Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the way it seemed to advance beyond the New Deal and Progressivism at the expense of settled money and power.

Altogether it was a moment of hurtling change that many saw as ominous weakness and laxity, of new public programs for the long-excluded, which the world of Rumsfeld and Cheney imagined as "socialism." For them, the balancing regulation of long-dominant business power was nothing short of "tyranny"; the new arrangements of race and class, the myriad threats of sheer liberty in a more equitable society and economy, were menacing.

Whatever their other ties, Rumsfeld and Cheney were two of the era's visceral reactionaries in the classic sense of the term. Musing with younger aides on one of his last days in the White House, Johnson came up with a telling term for their ilk. "The haters," he called them. "They hate what they can't run any more" was the way he put it. The calamity Rumsfeld and Cheney later wrought in American foreign policy traced not only to profound ignorance and immense, careless pretense about the world at large, but in some part to a four-decade-old kindred fear and loathing at home.

Geez, I wonder if Satan'll even take 'em in come their time. They're so fucking evil they might wind up running the goddamned place, pushing Lucifer aside (leaving him to commiserate with Herr Kissinger).
The GOP Who Cried "Wolf"

"Oh my god! There's a TERRORIST under the bed!"

With all the "it's end of the world/no-good-dirty-Arab/Iranian, aw-hell-what's-the-dif?/defining-struggle-of-this-generation, etc. etc. etc., ad nauseum...maybe a sidebar to this helps put things into perspective:

Nearly 4,900 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in the United Stats in 2005, according the government figures.

And that's by no means a trivialization: almost 5,000 Americans killed is a sobering number. But I've yet to see John Boehner shed any crocodile tears for THESE Americans. Only SOME deaths matter to the GOP, namely, those that can be exploited for political gain.

Hell, watching the rhetoric ratchet ever upwards, I'm struck by the mix and match of doomsday scenarios, and over-the-top rhetoric, combined with an utterly juvenile perspective when it comes to actual matters of policy...and, of course, this starts at the top of the slag heap, example front and center.

I dunno--maybe it started with their sainted nitwit, in the truest sense of the term, Ronald Reagan...and the subsequent downward spiral puts fake Christians like Tom DeLay and Bill Donohue...and a certain positions of power. Yer modern media, with rare exception, acts as arbiter/enabler.

For example: debating the most monumental foreign policy fuck up since Vietnam somehow enables "our enemies" and "dispirits" our soldiers? Really? As if the daily reality of the world's reigning superpower getting bogged down in a quagmire, and LOSING to a disorganized, rag-tag insurgency DOESN'T? The pathetic specter of clearly ignorant, so called "leaders" in Congress preening and pretending we've got a snowball's chance of pulling much of ANYTHING positive out of the Mother of all Mesopotamian debacles is just as Schaller describes:

"the soft bigotry of low - and lowering - expectations."

Meanwhile, most of the working press is likewise busily engaged in fine tuning to whatever frequency turns them into whimpering idiots, dutifully swallowing hook, line, sinker, rod and reel the "let's blame Iran" lunacy/flight forward Team Bush is clinging to like so much flotsam and jetsam, hoping to salvage a portion of their sunk reputation (and forget about saving the ship).

Not too long ago, I was listening to Shrub or one of his slithering courtiers once again trot out their tired old line about having to "take action "before" [insert 'evil-doer's name here] becomes a "threat." And it hit me: jeez, if these assclowns were doctors, they'd be arguing that since there's always a chance of contracting testicular cancer, it's better to castrate every guy, RIGHT NOW--before it becomes a "threat."

Because just in favor of cancer.
The Stuff That Epic, Stumblebum Blunders Are Made Of...

The Maltese AK (from AmericaBlog):

A group involved in trafficking thousands of weapons to rebellious groups in Iraq had close connections with Malta, the Italian police said on Monday. The Italian police arrested 16 persons in the Umbrian region in Italy, breaking up a ring of arms trafficking to militiamen in Iraq.

Some of the men who were arrested by the Italian police are wealthy entrepreneurs working within the export industry and coming from Russia, Libya, China and Malta. The Italian Ministry of Defence said that the men have close links with a Libyan diplomat.

Italian police said 500,000 AK 47 rifles and ten million pieces of ammunition were traced, but no weapons were confiscated.

Investigations are underway.

Sheesh, by the time it's all over, I wouldn't be surprised if Sealand was involved in some way ("the British government has learned"...). But I'd bet Team Bush and his wingnut chorus would somehow manage to turn THAT into a catastrophe, even as they congratulated themselves for "liberating" an offshore platform sized slightly less than 6000 square feet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Let the Mud-Slingin' Begin!

And now, we're treated to a Barack O-culpa, not that it will assuage the basement-dwelling fantasists of wingnuttia:

During his first press conference as a presidential candidate at Iowa State University, Obama, discussing his opposition to the Iraq war, said the war "should have never been authorized, and should have never been waged, and on which we've now spent $400 billion, and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.''

He immediately realized he made a mistake, he later told a reporter. Even the most severe war critics in Congress have been very careful to praise U.S. troops and say nothing that could upset mourning families.

I doubt this is a deal breaker for the Senator, at least not along the lines of Joe Biden's record-setting-in-brevity-death-spiral of a campaign. But I think it's instructive nonetheless--there's a tightrope of myths that candidates must traverse, and one of the strongest, staunchest of these is that our soldiers (once upon a time, "our boys") never "die in vain."

Well, I'm not running for anything, damnit. Obama might have to genuflect to the various mythologies, but not me, and it's damn high time to face the truth. Wingnuts can howl and bay all they want, but the deaths of 3000 soldiers, the wounding of over eight times that many, and the tens of thousands--by conservative estimate--of dead Iraqis (lord knows how many Iraqis have been wounded, or how severe) IS a waste. If nothing else, on a tactical/operational level, ANYONE killed by a roadside bomb/IED while traveling in an unarmored or insufficiently armored Humvee or other conveyence is a wasted life. Soldiers killed by insurgents hiding in plain sight, passing themselves off as trainees are wasted lives. Friendly fire casualties are wasted lives...and, at this point, EVERY casualty is a waste, because, first, the sheer number of dead and wounded in exchange for, what--?--Saddam, Uday, Qasay, his half-brother and a cousin or two (and, if I remember right, a 12 or 14 year old grandkid of Saddam)--is outrageous. It's just plain dumb.

You won't even be able to claim a Pyrrhic victory from this colossal mess when all is said and done. "Young democracy?" I'd laugh, but quite honestly it's too infuriating. You display a contemptible ignorance of not only the region's history, but of your own as well. Oh, and thanks for managing to further empower both Iran AND Al-Qaeda. It takes an exceptional amount of stupidity to do that.

But the myth must persist--otherwise, we might (shudder the thought) question the "wisdom" of screwing up the Middle East/Near Asia even worse than it was before the fact. Meanwhile, entire swaths of this country are literally falling apart: the Gulf Coast might be the most obvious, visible element of this neglect, but I'll bet I could find plenty of examples across the nation. Oh, and on a daily basis, people in this country are murdered, with barely a peep from the reactionaries...except for the occasional, obnoxious snort suggesting that the victim somehow "deserved" it.

Finally, the pathetic excuse we've got for a media will vomit forth the already regurgitated crap they've been tube fed, and will call it "democracy," while engaged in smug, self-congratulatory circle jerks.

Show business for ugly people? More like for stupid people...
The "Diagnosticators"

Presumably, the "examination" of Shrub by old Ayman al-Zawahri was of the video variety...sort of like how Bill Frist "examined" Terry Schiavo.

That said, and not to defend a nutjob like al-Zawahri, but damn if his diagnosis is a lot more accurate than the cat killer's:

Al-Qaida's No. 2 said President Bush was an alcoholic and a lying gambler who wagered on Iraq and lost, according to a new audiotape released Tuesday...

"Bush suffers from an addictive personality, and was an alcoholic. I don't know his present condition ... but the one who examines his personality finds that he is addicted to two other faults — lying and gambling," al-Zawahri said in the audiotape.

Bush, who is now 60, has acknowledged he had a problem with drinking but gave up alcohol when he was 40 years old.


[Terry Schiavo] "certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

(Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin concluded that…her brain was about half of normal size when she died. …

Thogmartin says her brain was “profoundly atrophied” — and that the damage was “irreversable.” He also says, “The vision centers of her brain were dead” — meaning she was blind.)

Now, again, remember: being more accurate than Bill Frist does NOT mean you aren't a complete nutjob, okay... (um, that's for wingnut edification...not that they'd understand anyway).
Kind of an Odd Way of Demonstrating "Compassion"

It's good to see that Pravda-Upon-Hudson picked up on Dear Leader®'s decision to NOT waive provisions of the Stafford Act (h/t First Draft) requiring matching funds from the state for disaster relief.

First Draft, Dr. Morris, and Da Po Blog also provide clarification to Team Bush obfuscation re: the $110 billion dollars in aid that supposedly made it down here, that has wingnuttia all atwitter because in their warped little peabrained substitute for reality, this some sort of windfall (no pun intended)/sweepstakes. Well, I guess when you live in your parents' basements, it can be a wee bit difficult to comprehend grown-up concepts like insurance claims and/or criminally negligent liability, although it takes a pretty serious deficit of gray matter to not grasp "Bush lied, people died," which, come to think of it, sums up his domestic AND foreign policy.

Compassion must mean never having to say...well, anything that makes a lick of sense.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Houston, We Have a Problem
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So take it back, now. Please.

Actually, I wonder if this is more effect than cause--a show, 24, that apparently glorifies, or at least justifies torture as an effective method of 'getting things done,' which, in a typically warped, wingnut way, probably qualifies Keifer Sutherland's character as some sort of charming rebel to them.

Full disclosure: I don't watch 24, never have, and don't really feel like starting. However, I've been more or less aware of the premise, and the New Yorker piece seems to confirm my assumptions, even as the show's creators promise that Bauer (Sutherland) is basically "damned." Ah, I'll bet wingnuttia even salivates about that in an "only the good die young sense."

So, a prime time drama that literally is premised on the proverbial ticking time bomb. Hmmm...too bad that, like so many other foundations of, ahem, for lack of a better term, wingnut "thought," this is just more empty calories, or, maybe closer to the point, mental masturbation...after all, we're dealing with people who seem stunted in a perpetual state of early adolescence, who's fetishes/fantasies stand ever more starkly in contrast to their actual, dreary, at-best suburban reality (emphasis on "sub"). In other words, the political equivalent of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, minus (and for once I'll thank them for something) the actual willingness to act.

And their leader, Shrub, is likewise stunted, emotionally and mentally, a mastubator in chief, if you will...except that HIS fetishes/fantasies get acted upon by a national security apparatus. Hence, the actual, utterly ineffectual, and stupid activities going on in Iraq, in the secret prisons where those rendered (guilty or not) find themselves, at Guantanamo, and so on become inspiration for the TV show...which, itself being fantasy, provides a backdrop/justification for violence/torture as a means of getting results...which, further perverted/warped by wingnuttia, becomes yet another reason why "libruls hate America." Which would be one thing if it was just a matter of entertainmeent...

But reality last far longer than a tv show. Long after Keifer Sutherland is merely collecting residuals, and long after Jack Bauer is relegated to the next generation's version of TV Land, the effects of the REAL toture apparatus developed by our adolescent-in-chief will be with us, if not the apparatus itself.

And that does none of us any good.
Serving Up "Fresh" and Not So Fresh Demons for U.S. Consumption
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Queen George, the New & Improved Butcher of Baghdad

I think Patrick Cockburn pretty much gets it re: the latest helping of Team Bush Kool-Aid, dutifully being lapped up and pronounced "delicious" by yer regular press corpse, despite it being over four years old...and rancid. Iran is mostly being proffered as quite the convenient scapegoat for Shrub's peckerwood Captain Ahab thing in Mesopotamia.

This latest tilt of the Middle Eastern pinball machine/meat grinder over to Team Sunni, which will, as sure as the sun rises, eventually seesaw back to Team Shiite (and then vice versa, ad nasueum), is--good god we all hope--mostly smokescreen, although Queen Shrub and King Dick make Nixon seem sane in comparison.

Still, it's not like the administration has a lot to work with:

One expert on Iraq asked me in perplexity: "Even if Bush does launch a war against Iran, where does he think it will get him? He will still be stuck in Iraq and the Iranians are not going to surrender. He will just have widened the war."

The answer to this question is probably that the anti-Iranian tilt of the Bush administration has more to do with American than Iraqi politics. A fresh demon is being presented to the US voter. Iran is portrayed as the hidden hand behind US failure in both Iraq and in Lebanon. The US media, gullible over WMD, is showing itself equally gullible over this exaggerated Iranian threat.

The Bush administration has always shown itself more interested in holding power in Washington than in Baghdad. Whatever its failures on the battlefield, the Republicans were able to retain the presidency and both Houses of Congress in 2004. Confrontation with Iran, diverting attention from the fiasco in Iraq, may be their best chance of holding the White House in 2008.

And it's not like Americans don't know enough about Iran, which has been on the radar hate-ar screen since 1979 (that whole Mossedeq thing, in contrast, is sooooo pre 9/11 and therefore irrelevent...wait, so's, nevermind). Add in the fact that Ahmandinejad really IS a nutjob, and Central Casting couldn't do any better.

Besides, any day the administration can distract attention away from its failures, not to mention its criminal behavior, is, at this point, a "good" day. They're trying to stall and run out the clock until 2009...and then, if necessary, the pardon pen will be unleashed with a fury that old Marc Rich could only dream of. Of course, yer same regular press corpse will barely bleat.