Friday, March 23, 2007

It Was You, Fredo

But no, you didn't break my heart. I expected it from a dunce like you.

Not even a cursory 'thank you for your service.' More articles about Team Bush's betrayal of the very people who could've helped them the most in salvaging something out of the Mother of all Clusterdisasterfucks.

Team Bush: Not Just Wrong...Really Evil and Stupid, Too.
Another Modest Proposal


If Shrub likes the Guantanamo Military Prison so goddamned much, maybe HE should host it...personally.
Pledge Week

I realize that it would've been inappropriate--and, in fact, virtually impossible--for Al Gore to stoop down to Jim Inhofe's putrid, pathetic, needs-to-be-measured-with-a-nanometer-stick level earlier this week...particularly the ridiculous "pledge" Inhofe managed to cough up in much the same manner that a cat rids itself of a hairball (apologies to cats everywhere for the comparison).

But hey, I'm just a humble blogger...well, I'm also literate, more or less, which kind of sets me apart from the Senator, but nonetheless, I'd like to see if "Maybe the Dumbest Senator of Them All" might swear to/sign a few pledges that I PROPOSE, starting with, well, how about the one he had his staff write up for Gore (along with an admission that global warming is real)?

I didn't think so.

For that matter, I wonder if Inhofe would admit that evolution is an excellent theory for explaining the diversity of life forms on the fact, I'll even compromise and admit that, no, he personally hasn't much evolving himself (maybe just enough to keep the knuckle-walking from being embarrassingly obvious). Then maybe he can come around to signing off on the idea that torture is not only evil, and wrong, but just plain stupid.

Finally, given his conservative leanings, let's see him promise to make his career in government LIMITED by foregoing re-election. And, also being conservative, I'd like to see him pledge to not take a single penny of his PUBLIC pension.

No, I didn't think so either. But at least we know that, while perhaps to stupid to know or understand the term, Inhofe is a textbook hypocrite.
"President MBA"

Link from The Sideshow.

Here's your MBA president speaking about "brand loyalty" back in the day:

In 1967, the Yale Daily News exposed the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity's penchant for branding pledges with red hot wire hangers. The New York Times picked up the story, which featured a former president of the frat, one George W. Bush, dismissing the resulting "insignificant" wound as "only a cigarette burn" that leaves "no scarring mark, physically or mentally." So, Bush's first quote in the national press was a defense of torture.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gonzales To US Attorney: "I Said, 'Read The Cue Card'"

Add "micromanage" to the list of things Team Bush has a selective affinity towards:

The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.
From the Country that Gave You "The Friedman Unit"

Introducing...the A.C.O.E. Foot

Alright, even Greg says, "Look, I’m not arguing his conclusions, or that the Corpse is responsible or any of that." (that said, Greg also has given plenty of reasons why he won't be buying van Heerden a beer any time this century)...but, while I'm not getting my hopes up, yet another report outlining what actually happened in New Orleans can't hurt:

Decades of mistakes -- some as basic as not knowing the elevation of New Orleans -- led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to believe its levees and floodwalls would protect the city from a storm as strong as Hurricane Katrina, a report released Wednesday concludes.

The corps used obsolete research to design flood-control structures that were built too low and improperly maintained, a group of engineers and storm researchers called Team Louisiana said in its 475-page report. The report was commissioned by the state Department of Transportation and Development.

The system was intended to be strong enough to handle a Category 3 hurricane like Katrina, which devastated New Orleans when levees broke.

Two major studies last year looked at the engineering problems that caused the 2005 breaches, but the new study also closely examines whether the problems could have been foreseen when the flood-control system was created.

The report said the errors date to the original plans in 1965, which relied on land height measurements from 1929. Because the city had sunk over the years, the plans called for levees that were 1 to 2 feet too low.

"This mistake was locked in" for continuing construction by a policy adopted in 1985, even though scientists knew how fast New Orleans was sinking, the report said. By the time Katrina hit, the levees were as much as 5 feet too low.

The report also said the corps never used a storm surge model released in 1979 by the National Hurricane Center. "If they had, they would have realized that their levee system wasn't high enough for a Category 3 storm at all," said team leader Ivor van Heerden, a Louisiana State University professor, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center and a corps critic.

Additionally, he said the corps ignored its own models that suggested that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a navigation channel completed in the early 1960s, would funnel storm surge into St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans.
I Think We All Understand...

...Prime Minister Clark's expression.


It's yet another example of how far this White House has gone in normalizing behavior that we've been raised to associate with third-world countries where democracy has never successfully taken root and the rule of law is unknown. At most points in our history the idea that an Attorney General could stay in office after having overseen such an effort would be unthinkable. The most telling part of this episode is that they're not even really denying the wrongdoing. They're ignoring the point or at least pleading 'no contest' and saying it's okay.

Yes, true...but this is par for the course in Texas, which is as much Bananaland as Lone Star. Consider: Tom DeLay. John Cornyn. Kay Bailey Hutchison. George W. Bush...and, recall, Big Dick himself had to change his official state of residency--from Texas back to Wyoming--when he lifted himself up by his jackboots and added his name to the ticket.

Like I said yesterday, they get away with that shit over there...but I doubt seriously the rest of the country wants to make Texas their governing model.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just Trying to Help Out...

See here, here, and here.
"Even a Colony of Bats"

From the AP:

The Veterans Affairs' vast network of 1,400 health clinics and hospitals is beset by maintenance problems such as mold, leaking roofs and even a colony of bats, an internal review says.'re sure, right? Not a flying monkey?
Tony, Try the Crow

Sometimes words have a way of catching up with you.

Note: My guess is that in addition to the ridiculous "but...this is different" argument we're hearing, we'll eventually hear Snow, et al issue some sort of stirring defense of the Clenis, sure to be seconded by the punditry, who will nod their heads and, in hushed, august intonations, tell us all that "of course" executive privilege is a necessary and proper concept...


And, for the record, I thought it was bullshit when Clinton sank his fangs into it, too.

Re: Bill Clinton...regardless of the circumstances, i.e., impeachment was and remains a crock, or, in retrospect, sure, he was a goddamned genius compared to the present occupant of the office, etc., etc., I remember thinking two things at the time--first, he must be in mighty deep to pull THAT out of the bag 'o tricks, and second, I'd once read something by Hunter Thompson re: Nixon and executive privilege. I've since searched in vain for the exact quote, but the Thompson piece was in the midst of the political death watch, and he basically dismissed the concept of "executive privilege" as a desperate attempt to claim some vestigial "divine right of [the sovereign]."

I agree--in all THREE cases--Nixon's, Clinton's, and Shrub's.

Of course, the question, then, is just what Chimperor is hiding...because if he wasn't hiding something, he wouldn't be so goddamned desperate...
And Then He Threatened to Hold His Breath Until He Turned Blue...

I think TPM is right: Shrub's blusterbus is a classic bluff. Deep down, he's got nothing ("finest public servants"??? Rove and Miers? That's like saying Jimmy Swaggert was a "devoted and loyal husband").

No, the White House knows damn well what's going on, and while it's not technically a violation of law (heavy emphasis on technicality here), it is most definitely crude, crass...indeed, something that the term "Bush league" applies to quite well. This is the sort of shit that might fly in Texas, where they don't know better, but the United States has standards.

Hey, David Broder: THIS is 'trashing the place.' Karl Rove subsumed EVERYTHING, including the unique position of US Attorneys, to base, crude 'politics.' No, in a very technical sense, it's not illegal. But that doesn't mean it's not wrong. And they know it.

Oh, and I think it's not a bad time to point out that, once this Texas-sized stink finishes wafting through the halls of government, it might be prudent to investigate where else the NATIONAL interest has been crumpled up and thrown out in favor of a narrow POLITICAL interest. Two supersized cases are

Mesopotamia, and

New Orleans.

As to the latter, well, Team Shrub claimed one scalp--Kathleen Blanco's--even as they've directed their minions to prop up useful idiots like C. Ray and Dollar Bill. As to the former, well, maybe it's just me, and maybe this is why I'll never be a politician, but I couldn't fathom having one person killed in pursuit of political glory, much less play Shrub's ultimate game of stupid: making the ridiculous claim of 'progress' after unleashing the biggest shitstorm of this generation.

If/when this comes out, I think a LOT of people will be forced to confront their own "Good German" tendencies. It won't be pretty.

Oh, finally: I saw Scout-Prime's "challenge" after I got home last night (I play tennis in a local adult league...I got beat, um, badly. Oh well. I'm doing this for the much-needed exercise)...anyway, it turns out there's a gap in the DOJ document dump...even more ironic, the gap is...18 days. Someone was channeling the ghost of Rose Woods.

I wonder who it could be...

You know, some experts think the clumsiness of the original 18 and a half minute gap was indicative of Tricky Dick's handiwork. Hmm...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oh...[Sigh]...Goddamnit, Again

From Suspect Device.


Sucks to be Louisiana, really sucks to be New Orleans. Sucks the most, as it has for the past year and a half, and as it will for the indefinite future, to be poor in New Orleans. Sorry, guys. I hear nice things about Memphis.

OK, in his defense, at least he points to a story I saw last weekend or so that suggests the East Coast isn't so safe either...specifically New York, but you can apply its findings up and down the seaboard...or at least those parts of the seaboard that lean Democratic as long as this current administration is in power. But it's still in parts astonishing, a little infuriating, and more than frustrating to have to keep going over this again...and again...and again.

No, reconstructing New Orleans won't be easy. Yes, there are risks to living along the Gulf Coast. Yes, for far too long public officials have ignored not only the inherent risks, but additional risks resulting from development, industrialization, ill-advised management schemes from previous eras...and the realization that global warming has, well, global consequences.

Yes, there are challenges. But it's not an impossible task. And it sure as hell is a better investment of resources than the true insanity going on in Iraq, where lives and money are being wasted on a scale as unimaginable as the federal disaster down in NOLA, as well as the natural disasters of Katrina and Rita (yep, that's right, I used the "W" word...hey, come to think of it, you can't spell "wasted" WITHOUT Dubya).

Oh, and I'll even agree with Sifu--a great wall is almost certainly the wrong idea. But at least it's a starting point. And, right now, even discussing a concept that's likely to be rejected is better than, well, doing nothing at all. Hell, maybe out of the discussions, oh, I don't know, a policy could be hammered out. And, once agreed upon, maybe it could even be implemented.

After all, this region isn't a charity case--it's an area of strategic importance, and an economic engine. It's also part of America. We've helped generate the nation's wealth. We've paid our taxes. We've fought--and died--in this country's wars.

And, what happened to New Orleans can happen elsewhere. It could be a hurricane on the Gulf or Atlantic Coast (or, with, ahem, global warming, increased threats from West Coast hurricanes). It could be a lahar in the Pacific Northwest...or an earthquake, either along the well known fault system in the West Coast...or the less well known, but perhaps even more deadly deep fault system in the Midwest (Sifu: Memphis would likely be leveled, so I think New Orleanians will pass on your recommendation). Tornados can hit almost anywhere. Los Angeles might not have been leveled--yet--by an earthquake, but what will happen if there's a problem with the (already inadequate) water supply? I hear dying of thirst really sucks.

Oh, and I'm still surprised at how quickly memory fades when it comes to floods.

Do you really want your government, your insurance companies, and your fellow citizens to turn their back on you in the event of bad luck...or, worse still, poor maintenance by the government of their own public works projects?

Sucks to be [...]? OK...

You know, if this was a small country with limited resources, I could ALMOST understand that sort of attitude. Almost. But this is the USA. Our wealth makes King Midas look like chump change. Sucks to be [...]...actually, I think people using that language ought to be pretty careful...because pretty much every spot in the country is one disaster away from Sucks to be...

Do we really want to treat the country as little more than a throw-away/disposable?
"Freedom" Hoodie

From AmericaBlog, a link to a WaPo article about a VERY good dramatic reenactment, or, if you prefer, guerrilla theater piece, no pun intended. A group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans thought they'd give the Washington DC public a taste of what their--and our--tax dollars have been paying for.

If you've got the time, be sure to click on the video report, which really gives you an idea of what "freedom" means in context of Team Bush, um, policy.

Also, what's both funny and infuriating is the response to this about a whole new meaning to "without a clue:"

"Way off the hook," said a man on his way to work.

Motorists halted for the strangely alert, cautious, crouching column. Men and women in the workaday uniforms of trench coats and business suits got tangled in the advance. While explanatory fliers were handed out, not everybody got the message.

"I don't know what they're doing, but they're in everybody's way," said Janet Ruck, a career counselor in Washington. Upon hearing an explanation, she said, "So they were intentionally getting in people's way. I don't think that people have lost touch or forgotten [about the war]. I don't think this is the way to get people to connect."

"At first I was scared," said Maria Rave, a restaurant owner from Maine who saw the platoon reenact visions of a sniper attack, near the Smithsonian Castle.

No, it's not 'way off the hook.' It's your tax dollars at work.
Designer Bloodbath

Part of Shrub's Middle East® collection

Patrick Cockburn:

Four years after the US and British troops invaded Iraq the country is drenched in blood and its people full of fear. Iraqis often have a look of half-suppressed panic in their eyes as they tell how violent death had touched them and their families again and again.

"I have fled twice in the past year," said Kassim Naji Salaman, a burly driver in dirty brown robes, as he stood beside his petrol tanker outside the town of Khanaqin in central Iraq this week-end. "I and my family used to live in Baghdad but we ran for our lives when my uncle and nephew were killed and we moved into a house in the village of Kanaan in Diyala." Mr Salaman hoped he and his family, all Sunni, would be safer in a Sunni district. But almost everywhere in Iraq is dangerous. "Militiamen kidnapped my brother Natik, who used to drive this tanker, and forced him into the boot of their car," he continued. "When they took him out they shot him in the head and left his body beside the road. I am frightened of going back to Kanaan where my family are refugees because the militiamen would kill me as well."...

The invasion four years ago failed. It overthrew Saddam but did nothing more, It destabilized the Middle East. It tore apart Iraq. It was meant to show the world that the US was the world's only super power that could do what it wanted. In fact it demonstrated that the US was weaker than the world supposed. The longer the US refuses to admit failure the longer the war will go on.

In fact, it's so bad that the old saw "if it bleeds, it leads" no longer really applies--there'd better be buckets of blood:

To get on the news, or the front page of the newspapers nowadays, a lot of people have to die. I would say the current figure is 60 or 70; and it certainly wouldn't be the lead.

This is not because editors do not care; it is because it happens so often it scarcely seems like news.
Speaks Volumes, On So Many Levels

Consider--your government thinks this person is a good lawyer

But not this person

No wonder things are so seriously screwed up. And might well get even worse.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Success Story

In other news, Bush claims success in ridding this house of a particularly bothersome fly.

Here's Pravda's report on the 4th Anniversary of the onset of hostilities. If you're even more into the surreal, try the White House's web site, and go back to 2003.

Here's some information in graphic form.

Then there's Patrick Cockburn, if you prefer reality-based analysis:

Four years ago, in the middle of the US invasion, I drove safely from Arbil in northern Iraq to Baghdad. There were heaps of discarded weapons beside the road, and long lines of former Iraqi soldiers walking home. Signs of battle were few, aside from the hulks of burned-out tanks, but they all seemed to have been hit by US aircraft after their crews had fled.

If I tried to make the same journey today, I would be killed or kidnapped long before I reached Baghdad. Kurdish ministers in the Iraqi government dare not travel by road between the capital and their homeland. Three bodyguards of the Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, were ambushed and killed when they tried to do so a month ago.

Tony Blair and George Bush still occasionally imply that the picture of Iraq as a war-torn hell is an exaggeration by the media. They suggest, though not as forcibly as they did a couple of years ago, that parts of the country are relatively peaceful. Nothing could be more untrue...

People in Baghdad used to say that under Saddam Hussein, life was fairly safe if you kept out of politics. This was true of crime: during the war of 1991 I was once stranded in the semi-desert between Baghdad and Mosul when my car broke down, because the petrol in the tank had been watered down. I travelled on to Mosul, hitching lifts from farmers without any threat to my safety. If I did that today, I would be stopped and probably murdered at one of the official or unofficial checkpoints on the road.

You know, the traditional 4th anniversary gift is flowers, but I'm guessing that Iraqis are likely no more in the mood to offer some now then they were back in 2003, when we invaded, not for their sake, but for George W. Bush's.
Hey, I Know! We Could Have a Show Trial!

About the only thing he didn't confess to was loving Big Brother:

Waleed bin Attash, a suspected key al-Qaida operative, confessed to plotting the bombings of the USS Cole and two U.S. embassies in Africa, according to a Pentagon transcript of a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba...

"I participated in the buying or purchasing of the explosives," bin Attash said when asked what his role was in the attacks. "I put together the plan for the operation a year and a half prior to the operation, buying the boat and recruiting the members that did the operation."

Joe Stalin would be proud.

Interestingly, though, the brother of one of the Cole's victims isn't playing along--good for him:

"It's good that this guy wants to confess, although I have questions about the veracity of his claims," said Jamal Gunn, 26, of Virginia Beach, Va., whose brother, Cherone Gunn, was killed aboard the Cole.

I wonder if the wingnut noise machine will come out in force--maybe they'll get all worked up over his name...

Don’t Cry for Reagan
As the Bush administration sinks deeper into its multiple quagmires, the personality cult the G.O.P. once built around President Bush has given way to nostalgia for the good old days. The current cover of Time magazine shows a weeping Ronald Reagan, and declares that Republicans “need to reclaim the Reagan legacy.”

But Republicans shouldn’t cry for Ronald Reagan; the truth is, he never left them. There’s no need to reclaim the Reagan legacy: Mr. Bush is what Mr. Reagan would have been given the opportunity.

In 1993 Jonathan Cohn — the author, by the way, of a terrific new book on our dysfunctional health care system — published an article in The American Prospect describing the dire state of the federal government. Changing just a few words in that article makes it read as if it were written in 2007.

Thus, Mr. Cohn described how the Interior Department had been packed with opponents of environmental protection, who “presided over a massive sell-off of federal lands to industry and developers” that “deprived the department of several billion dollars in annual revenue.” Oil leases, anyone?

Meanwhile, privatization had run amok, because “the ranks of public officials necessary to supervise contractors have been so thinned that the putative gains of contracting out have evaporated. Agencies have been left with the worst of both worlds — demoralized and disorganized public officials and unaccountable private contractors.” Holy Halliburton!

Not mentioned in Mr. Cohn’s article, but equally reminiscent of current events, was the state of the Justice Department under Ed Meese, a man who gives Alberto Gonzales and John Mitchell serious competition for the title of worst attorney general ever. The politicization of Justice got so bad that in 1988 six senior officials, all Republicans, including the deputy attorney general and the chief of the criminal division, resigned in protest.

Why is there such a strong family resemblance between the Reagan years and recent events? Mr. Reagan’s administration, like Mr. Bush’s, was run by movement conservatives — people who built their careers by serving the alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. And both cronyism and abuse of power are part of the movement conservative package.

In part this is because people whose ideology says that government is always the problem, never the solution, see no point in governing well. So they use political power to reward their friends, rather than find people who will actually do their jobs.

If expertise is irrelevant, who gets the jobs? No problem: the interlocking, lavishly financed institutions of movement conservatism, which range from K Street to Fox News, create a vast class of apparatchiks who can be counted on to be “loyal Bushies.”

The movement’s apparatchik culture, in turn, explains much of its contempt for the rule of law. Someone who has risen through the ranks of a movement that prizes political loyalty above all isn’t likely to balk at, say, using bogus claims of voter fraud to disenfranchise Democrats, or suppressing potentially damaging investigations of Republicans. As Franklin Foer of The New Republic has pointed out, in College Republican elections, dirty tricks and double crosses are considered acceptable, even praiseworthy.

Still, Mr. Reagan’s misgovernment never went as far as Mr. Bush’s. As a result, he managed to leave office with an approval rating about as high as that of Bill Clinton, who, as we now realize with the benefit of hindsight, governed very well. But the key to Reagan’s relative success, I believe, is that he was lucky in his limitations.

Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Reagan never controlled both houses of Congress — and the pre-Gingrich Republican Party still contained moderates who imposed limits on his ability to govern badly. Also, there was no Reagan-era equivalent of the rush, after 9/11, to give the Bush administration whatever it wanted in the name of fighting terrorism.

Mr. Reagan may even have been helped, perversely, by the fact that in the 1980s there were still two superpowers. This helped prevent the hubris, the delusions of grandeur, that led the Bush administration to believe that a splendid little war in Iraq was just the thing to secure its position.

But what this tells us is that Mr. Bush, not Mr. Reagan, is the true representative of what modern conservatism is all about. And it’s the movement, not just one man, that has failed.
Two of a Kind

I thought April Fools' Day was next month...I guess C. Ray and Tom DeLay are getting a head start...or maybe they just can't help being fools all the time.

Mr. Delay’s 179-page memoir is already infuriating critics who say he has never recognized his own misconduct, how his style of politics contributed to a deterioration in House standards and the degree to which his troubles consumed House Republicans in a tough election year. One critic, Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, an activist group that monitors Texas Republicans, said that in sharp contrast to the book’s title, Mr. DeLay left Congress when it appeared he would have to fight for his political survival.

“DeLay titling his new book ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ is like Jack Abramoff calling his memoirs ‘Ethics and Honesty,’ ” Mr. Angle said this week. He was referring to the jailed lobbyist who had ties to Mr. DeLay.


New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has suggested that the slow recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina -- which has prevented many black former residents from returning -- is part of a plan to change the racial makeup and political leadership of his and other cities.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what happened in New Orleans could happen anywhere," Nagin said at a dinner sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group for newspapers that target black readers. "They are studying this model of natural disasters, dispersing the community and changing the electoral process in that community."

You don't say, C. Ray...

First Draft has more, as does Adrastos and Dangerblond.