Friday, October 12, 2007


From Oyster, a reminder that my humble berg at times goes to great (gret?) lengths to appraise the world that, deep down, a fair number of us are abject yahoos, and that the city could just as easily be named, if Babel Fish is accurate, Cou Rouge.

After a lengthy and often emotional debate, the Metro Council rejected a resolution Wednesday calling for the acceptance into the community people from all walks of life, including people of all sexual orientations.

The largely symbolic resolution fell one vote short of the seven it needed to pass.

The resolution would have pledged to accept people of "all races, sexes, creed, colors, religions, ages, ancestries, disabilities, sexual orientations, nationalities, marital status, political affiliations and people of all walks of life."

Mayor-President Kip Holden offered the resolution, which was prepared by One Baton Rouge, a group of community leaders formed last year.

"This is a resolution that we feel will make a statement for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish," Holden told the council.

Kudos to Kip for proposing the resolution...and while I can't say I'm surprised it failed--though of course I'm disappointed--at least the vote was close, falling one short of the seven needed for passage.

So, based on deductive reasoning--for some reason the Advocate only recorded actual "no" votes, an abstention, and those literally not voting for whatever reason (including my representative, Lori Burgess--ugh)...anyway, kudos to Holden, Pat Culbertson, Joe Greco, Charles Kelly, Martha Jane Tassin, Mickey Skyring, and David Boneno. It's nice to know that y'all at least have gone on record in favor of...tolerance, something you'd think would be central to, oh, I don't know, Christian tenets.

And I hope this might help folks get an idea of just who Kip Holden is, what he's about...and who he has to deal with. I realize that some NOLA residents might have a less-than-enthusiastic opinion of our mayor, given a single comment he made in the immediate aftermath of the federal flood (based on erroneous information, by the way).

Now, I can't say I'm a good friend of the mayor's, but I've spoken to him a number of times, and can say without any hesitation that he's an outstanding leader, and someone whom I support wholeheartedly. In my experience, he's easily the best mayor this city has had in recent history (and probably ever, for that matter), and hopefully will remain mayor as long as the job appeals to him (and, for the record, his election was a single bright spot on an otherwise dreary 2004 election evening.)

In the meantime, everywhere else, we have to deal with our mouthbreathers here, too.
The Sum of its Parts

I think the evidence demonstrates that, if you mix and match Barney Fife's mentality with Deadeye Dick's shooting skills and overall sense of restraint, you get....

Blackwater: Shoot first, then claim you were fired upon.

After all, does anyone REALLY pay attention to the follow-up investigation?
Son of Sailboat Fuel--The Sequel

At least one reason why Team Bush loves them some wars so much is the almost limitless potential for graft, even when you're about as close to Bumfuck Nowhere as is humanly possible. Like in Afghanistan:

A mom-and-pop Texas company that provides security in Afghanistan is accused of overbilling the U.S. government by charging for nonexistent employees and vehicles, an American security official with close ties to the company told The Associated Press.

Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations, which does security work for the U.S. State Department arm USAID, is the latest firm to face scrutiny since private guards allegedly killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

The overbilling by USPI could add up to millions of dollars, the American security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in Kabul.

Eric Dubelier, USPI's attorney, called the official's allegations "factually incorrect." He said no one has accused the company or any of its employees of wrongdoing. He acknowledged the government is conducting an inquiry into the firm but declined to elaborate.

If anyone bothered to investigate, I'm sure there would be a few more sequels, like say, Bride of Sailboat Fuel (or is that "Bribe"): Dick Cheney's Bank Account, or The Creature From the Blackwater Lagoon. And when we DO find out just what's been going on in this administration and their policy of all-war, all-the-time, the documentary ought to be entitled Plan 9 From Batshit Insane.
Congratulations to Al Gore

Turns out he did win a share of the Nobel Peace Prize, and it's certainly deserved.

The Rude Pundit is as dead-on accurate today as always: put it another way, Gore won. Again. When the books are written, in the long-term histories of this and other countries, Al Gore will be cherished and George Bush will be crushed like so much real manure on a fake ranch. Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize does in Bush's seeming obsession with his legacy. And that's due in no small part to the smallness of Bush's thinking compared to the expansiveness of Gore's.

Ah, I was going to cite some more, but just check the whole post out if you've got the time.

Yep, Gore could've, should've, would've...but, instead (speaking of wood)...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time to Recycle a Picture From Last Month... response to Lynne Cheney basically telling the world to go fuck itself.

Well, on the bright side, at least you're more or less open and upfront when it comes to admitting you're psychotic. I'll keep that in mind.
On Notice

I really wish someone would call out wingnuttia on their utter faux concern for "the Iraqi people," particularly when every day it's clear as a goddamned bell that they couldn't be LESS concerned about them:

Two women died here on Tuesday when their white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire from guards for a private security company, just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq...

Two witnesses said they heard a single shot first, which apparently punctured the Oldsmobile’s radiator, spilling coolant onto the street about 50 yards from where the convoy was parked. As the car continued rolling, the guards opened up with a barrage of sustained automatic fire. The car finally came to a stop about 10 yards from the convoy at a point that, three hours later, was marked by blood stains, broken glass and tufts of brown hair.

The plumbing shop employee said the convoy moved out right away, without checking to see what damage had been done or to offer medical help.

The Oldsmobile was towed to a nearby police station.

The priest and relatives near the scene identified the driver as Maruni Uhanees, 59, and the dead passenger as Jeniva Jalal, 30.

As twilight set in, family members gathered beside the car in a dirt alley outside the police station, staring at the blood and hair on the inside of the windshield.

A brother-in-law of the driver, Hrair Vartanian, said Ms. Uhanees was the mother of three grown daughters. As he spoke, one daughter arrived and looked at the blood stains, crying softly.

h/t WIIIAI and Attaturk.

Well, wingnuts, there's your triumph right there--two Armenian Christian women killed in cold blood by "private security contractors." In other words, you've managed to make things even worse in Iraq than they were under Saddam Hussein, and he made making things even worse something awfully goddamned difficult to attain.
Congratulations, you shits.
Our Fate is Your Fate: An Ongoing Series

It's not just the heat:

LONDON (Reuters) - Greenhouse gases are making the earth's atmosphere wetter and stickier, which may lead to more powerful hurricanes, hotter temperatures and heavier rainfall in tropical regions, British researchers reported on Wednesday...

"It is another piece of the puzzle that climate change is happening and we are influencing it," said Nathan Gillet, a climate researcher at the University of East Anglia.

Human emissions of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that trap heat in the atmosphere are widely blamed for changes in the climate. Scientists say average global temperatures will rise by 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, causing droughts, floods and violent storms.

Warmer air can hold more water vapor.

"It has been predicted for a long time that humidity would increase with greenhouse gas increases," said Gillet, who led the study.

While I can't say I like it, I can deal with heat and humidity far more easily than I can deal with cold and dry, but that's just me...
No Noble Deed Goes Unpunished

The Two Dicks

They really will try to jerk the chain of pretty much anyone not in the inner circle:

The Bush administration sent these guys to fight for 729 days instead of 730 days, because had they been sent for 730 days they'd have gotten education benefits.

Then they'll turn around and insist that Scooter Libby "has been punished enough."
If Everyone Helps Just a Little, a Lot Can be Accomplished

Per Scout's request, please consider doing whatever you can, no matter how small it may seem, for the Joseph family, who've lost their house for the second time. After almost completing a post-flood rebuild in Holy Cross, the structure succumbed to an arson fire set under circumstances that would try the faith and patience of anyone, but particularly someone who's already been through so much.

Now, it's not like I'm in the big leagues, blogging-wise, but I hope every little bit helps.
Just a Mirage

William S. Lind:

The fact that some Sunni tribes have turned on al Qaeda does not mean they like us. It just means we have for the moment become the #2 enemy instead of #1, or perhaps #3, with the Shiites ranking ahead of us. Some think the Sunnis are just getting whatever they can from us as they prepare for another, more bitter round of the Sunni vs. Shiite civil war.

But the biggest reason for saying "not so fast" is that the reduction of violence in Anbar does not necessary point toward the rise of a state in the now-stateless region of Mesopotamia. As I have argued repeatedly in this column and elsewhere, we can only win in Iraq if a new state emerges there. Far from pointing toward that, our new working relationship with some Sunni sheiks points away from it.

The sheiks represent local, feudal power, not a state. We are working with them precisely because there is no Iraqi state to work with (the Maliki government is a polite fiction). From a practical standpoint, there is nothing else we can do to get any results. But our alliances with Sunni sheiks in effect represents our acceptance, de facto if not de jure, of the reality that there is no state.

The sheiks, we must recognize, do not accept the Shiite puppet government in Baghdad (nothing illustrates its puppet nature better than its inability to expel Blackwater) or its armed forces, which are mostly Shiite militias who get government paychecks. The Baghdad government recognizes this fact. A story in the October 1 Cleveland Plain Dealer quotes Prime Minister al-Maliki's United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite) as condemning

"authorizing the (Sunni tribal) groups to conduct security acts away from the jurisdiction of the government and without its knowledge."

The statement went on: "We demand that the American administration stop this adventure, which is rejected by all the sons of the people and its national political powers."

Rightly, the ruling Shiites fear that what we are actually creating is new Sunni militias, which will fight the Shiite militias.

Finally, as if all this did not throw enough cold water on any notion that we are winning, just as the Marines are ramping down our war with the Iraqi Sunnis, in Anbar, the U.S. Army is ramping up a war with the Shiite population. Almost every day we read about another raid on the Shiite, all too often one where we have called in airstrikes on populated Shiite neighborhoods. A story in the October 6 Plain Dealer, U.S. raid north of Baghdad kills 25," was typical:

An Iraqi army official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. aircraft bombed the neighborhood repeatedly and he claimed civilians, including seven children, were among those killed...

The town's top official said u.s. forces targeted areas built up by the locals to protect their Shiite neighborhoods against attacks by al-Qaida gunmen.

If we have not enjoyed fighting the 20% of the Iraqi population that is Sunni, how much pleasure will we find in fighting the 60% that is Shiite? Of course, an American attack on Iran will only intensify our war with Iraq's Shiites.

So no, we are not winning in Iraq. The only meaningful definition of "winning" is seeing the re-emergence of a real Iraqi state, and by that standard we are no closer to victory than we ever were. Nor can I see anything on the horizon that could move us closer to such a victory, other than a complete American withdrawal, which begins to look as unlikely under Hillary as under George. All we see on the horizon of Anbar province, sadly, is another mirage.
Wingnut Healthcare

It's amazing to think how barely two years ago the 'nuts were all atwitter, ready to move heaven and earth REGARDLESS of cost when it was Terry Schiavo...who we now know suffered from severe, incurable brain damage that no amount of money could repair.

You'd think that being so thoroughly discredited in the Schiavo matter would permanently disqualify these loons from consideration when it comes to health care issues...but there they go again, screeching, bitching, hollering, and otherwise making fools of themselves, demanding that a family go bankrupt to pay for health care. Yet yer slack-jawed media plays along, ensuring space for the latest Stormtrooper insanity, though interestingly, providing no addional "balance" (say for example, providing time to advocates of a single payer system).

But I digress: my point is simply that, just like you don't GO to quack physicians when you're sick, you can't take seriously ANY point of view advocated by quacks when it comes to health care POLICY. And if the Terry Schiavo case didn't prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that yer wingnut position on health care equals the lunatic position on health care, than it's impossible to prove ANYTHING beyond the shadow of a doubt.

And if that's the case, we might as well turn to a heavy dose of Daffy, because that might be the only thing that'll help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

She Hasn't Started Singing...Yet

I'm not a betting person, and if I was, I still wouldn't bet against Piyush...but this can't be considered particularly good news for Camp Jindal, despite their protestations to the contrary (that they "expect" a runoff):

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Republican Bobby Jindal still has a strong lead in the governor's race, but it is unclear whether he can win on Oct. 20 without a runoff, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll by Southeastern Louisiana University's Social Sciences Research Center gave Jindal, a congressman from Kenner, 46 percent of the support of registered voters, followed by state Sen. Walter Boasso with 10 percent, New Orleans-area businessman John Georges with 9 percent and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell with just under 6 percent.

Campbell and Boasso are Democrats, while Georges is running as an independent.

But the poll found that 29 percent of the voters surveyed either were undecided or refused to voice a preference, which pollster Kurt Corbello called surprising with only a few days left before the election.

When the undecided "leaners" were counted, Jindal came up with slightly less than 50 percent, followed by Boasso with 11 percent, Georges with 11 percent and Campbell with 6 percent. Under that calculation, 22 percent were either undecided or refused to state their preference.

So, while the Jindal Camp insists they aren't counting any chickens before they hatch, there's always the possibility that a few birds long since out of the shell might be coming home to roost. Regardless of what they claim, in a runoff, all bets are off...
So, Missy, You Think YOU'VE Got it Bad?

You just have to scrub floors all day...thank your lucky stars you aren't REALLY slaving away, like...a Congressman:

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), 61, one of those who announced he’s packing it in, said that the Democrats’ new five-day workweek made traveling back home that much more difficult.

The poor dear...especially with air travel being what it is these days. Worse still, the pay is only $165,000 a year...a pittance, really.

Unless you're trying to insure your kids.
Missionary Position

Sweet Home Alabama--Meet Gary Aldridge, just the latest in a long line of GOP hypocrites--well, like Blogenfreude says, it's probably safe to assume he was tied, no pun intended, to the GOP.

Then again, maybe he was a Tory.
Free Republic and Red State--Wingnuttia's Stormtroopers

Again, I don't like dropping the rhetorical nukulur bomb, but there's simply no more accurate a description after reading these articles. Malkin is practically spitting out the moral equivalent of "rootless cosmopolitan" with the sort of glee that in an earlier time resulted in shattered store windows and "don't buy from Jews" the beginning.

And I think we all know how slippery a slope it became before it ended.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

$40 Billion for Casino Subsidies

Shrub's Gulf Coast "Protection Plan"

Oh sure, they call it a "$40 billion dollar buyout" program, but let's not kid ourselves. This is Team Bush--the most blatant, brazen gang of goddamned crooks to control the Executive Branch since at least the Harding administration, and something tells me Warren had nothing on these vicious assclowns...I mean, shit, he didn't start a vanity war (and then fuck said vanity war up disastrously).

No, this proposed $40 billion--with a "b" billion--program is little more than a massive subsidy, not unlike the tax breaks contributing to the construction of luxury condos in Tuscaloosa, hardly an area of dire need following either the storm or flood.

By the way, that kind of money would go a long way towards funding genuine coastal repair, restoration, and protection from future events...and, funny, but there's only silence emanating from the whining classes who can't express their negative opinions loudly enough when it's merely perceived that--horrors--poor people and/or African American people might be the beneficiaries of any federal outlay. But I guess Jesus imprints his stigmata of approval on a gambling house, um, I mean, gaming resort.

WWJB? What would Jesus bet?
Back When the Poor Knew Their Place...and How to Behave

"It's so hard to get good help these days...that isn't illegal."

Paul Krugman explains how modernday wingnuttia--which he tastefully refers to as "movement conservative"--really wants to bring back the 19th century, and wouldn't be averse to a lynching or two or a few thousand if it weren't against the law, along with all them "hate crimes."

Danged libruls:

Paul Krugman: Sure. We can trace what happened to U.S. politics over the forty years that followed the Sixties, Even as the Republican Party moved to the right, even as it became increasing the policy of economic relief, it continued to win elections. In fact, for awhile, it was clearly the dominant party in U.S. politics, and really embarrassingly, almost.

It's very simple. Southern whites started voting Republican. You can look for other things. There were some other factors going on. There was some other shift in the voting behavior of other groups. But overwhelmingly, it's just that thing. And if you ask, what changed, the answer, of course, is the civil rights movement. The deal with the devil that the New Deal made, where it basically accepted segregation as the price of Southern support, came apart in the Sixties. Instead of something that was put to the side, race became a key way in which the right was able to attract voters who were, in many cases, voting against their economic interests.

Anything else fades into insignificance. I was really surprised, for example, to find that the story you hear all the time -- that the Democrats were punished for having been right about Vietnam, basically, that they lost their credibility on national security -- really doesn't show up as an important determinant of voting. If you look at the values issues, those have a tendency to melt away once you take account of the race factor. It's just really very much about race.

BuzzFlash: If you listen to someone like Rush Limbaugh or Grover Norquist talk, and most of the radical right-wingers, FDR's the devil incarnate. The New Deal was simply the downfall of America to them. On the other hand, after a stock market crash of catastrophic proportions led to a national depression, we see Roosevelt elected. In essence, you could argue that Roosevelt saved capitalism. And yet the right wing dismisses him as some sort of radical person who destroyed the country by implementing these programs that had saved America from perhaps going to some sort of radical economic experiment -- the Russian model, or perhaps another model. How could that happen, that a guy who basically saved capitalism is now that the scourge of the radical right movement?

Paul Krugman: Well, what Roosevelt wrought was actually bad for you if you were in the top 1% or top 10% of income distribution. It is actually true that the rich got poorer as a result of the New Deal.

BuzzFlash: Or less rich.

Paul Krugman: That's right -- less rich, if you prefer that. At the time, many of them did not appreciate that Roosevelt was maybe hurting their fortunes but saving their heads. As the memory of the crisis fades into the past, people just start to say why should I be paying taxes to support social insurance that I'm never going to need? And, not everybody who's rich takes that attitude, but enough of them do to basically fund their movement.

It is amazing how not just the memory of what Roosevelt accomplished, but what followed, has been expunged. Again and again I've seen statements like, well, the U.S. economy has never been as successful as it was before the New Deal, and it was successful under Reagan, but it was terrible in between them. People completely miss the thirty-year era of incredible prosperity after World War II. The greatest equalization that ever took place in the United States was, in fact, followed by the greatest economic boom that ever took place in the United States. But it has really gone away.

Of course, some people like Norquist or Marvin Olasky, are saying I want things back to the way they were before Teddy Roosevelt. So Norquist doesn't just want to undo the New Deal, he wants to undo the progressive era, too. And someone like Marvin Olasky, who's actually the originator of "compassionate conservatism," is a guy who says we really need to go back to the nineteenth century, when there was no public assistance to the poor. The only way they could get it was through faith-based organizations, which made sure they were morally upright before they could get any aid. It's amazing, but people on the right just really wish that the twentieth century had never happened.

BuzzFlash: Well, Paul, a wonderful book. And it's great -- beyond your columns. How you find the time to do all this is amazing, but this is new material, and wonderful for a liberal-progressive to read. Your historical context and personal reflections are, I think, very reinforcing to all of us. Thanks a lot, and best of luck as the book launches.

Paul Krugman: And as we speak, by the way, it just flashed up on my computer screen here that Bush just vetoed SCHIP.
And Their Fast Twitch Muscles Make Them Superior Athletes...

It takes a third eye to see truth the way John Tanner does...

Move over, Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis. Make room for...John Tanner, Head of the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice:

This past weekend, Tanner showcased his own analytical skills, telling an audience that voter ID requirements actually disproportionately affect whites.

Tanner explained that "primarily elderly persons" are the ones affected by such laws, but "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first." So anything that "disproportionately impacts the elderly, has the opposite impact on minorities," he added. "Just the math is such as that."

Tanner went on to note that cocaine makes minorities unafraid of bullets and intent of ravishing white female flesh, something he also attributed to "the math," as well as other "known facts about them which you can look up," like a fondness for watermelons and dancing to banjo music, before concluding with unintelligable mumbling about "organs of generation."
"Champagne (of beers) Wishes and Fishstick Dreams"

A $45,000 dollar de Luxe mansion...with commercial property out back.

You know, if shrieking wingnuttia really thinks $50,000 a year for a family of six is more than enough, then they shouldn't have the slightest concern about a steeply progressive income tax...which could all sorts of things, including universal health care.

And then maybe Robin Leach would really be envious of someone living in a small wood frame in Bozeman...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Introducing the New Coalition of the Willing

I'll be expecting the usual wingnut barking and braying to commence, presumably with snide references to bad teeth and lousy food...
Lying: A GOP Tradition

From "I am not a crook" to "this government does not torture people."
New and Improved, With the Christie Todd Whitman Seal of Approval

Like Ground Zero air in an aerosol can...

Here's a product your former EPA director can really sink her fangs into:

Walter E. Friedel’s plans to waterproof the tile floors of his hot tub room using Stand ’n Seal, a do-it-yourself product sold at his local Home Depot, promised to be a quick weekend project, one he could wrap up in time to catch the Giants football game on a Sunday afternoon...

But instead of watching football that afternoon, Dr. Friedel, a 63-year-old physician, ended up being rushed to the hospital, where he would spend four days in intensive care, gasping for air, his lungs chemically inflamed...

Before Dr. Friedel bought Stand ’n Seal, at least 80 people had been sickened using it, two of them fatally.

But even then, with the threat well-documented, the manufacturer, retailer and the commission had failed to remove the hazard from the shelves.

The task of getting dangerous products out of consumers’ reach is perhaps the most pressing challenge the Consumer Product Safety Commission faces in this era of surging recalls, particularly of products from China. It is an essential part of the agency’s mission, because premarket testing is not required for consumer products in the United States.

Nancy A. Nord, the commission’s acting chairwoman, said the agency was proud of its record of moving rapidly and forcefully to pull hazardous products off the market.

“The point is to get the recall out there, to get the consumer informed of what’s happening and then try to get the product out of consumers’ hands,” Ms. Nord said in testimony to a House panel in September. “I think a recall process works very well.”

But the Stand ’n Seal case is a powerful illustration of the commission’s failure to fully live up to its mission.

Court documents show that, as the case unfolded, the product’s maker, BRTT, appeared at times to be more concerned with protecting its bottom line than with taking steps to ensure that the hazard was removed. That meant that hazardous cans of Stand ’n Seal remained on the shelves for more than a year after the 2005 recall.

And the product that BRTT initially rushed to put in its place — and which Dr. Friedel and others bought — contained the same chemical that had apparently caused injuries in the first place, the company and Home Depot now acknowledge.

Ah, the beauty of the self-correcting free market. It only took two years, two deaths, and 80 instances of sickness to acknowledge the problem.
Conservative Orthodoxy Epitomized

Krugman makes the case, and closes in a way that gives me a good excuse to link to one of my favorite songs:

Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: "Well, how did we get here?" They may tell themselves: "This is not my beautiful Right." They may ask themselves: "My God, what have we done?"

But their movement is the same as it ever was. And Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.