Friday, October 19, 2007


I agree with Senor Adrastos that this candidate season has been, in a word, dreary. I guess you go to into an election with the candidates you have, not the ones you want...

That said, I'll note one small, but significant truth:

And yes, I'll be thinking about the kittens tomorrow.
It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

The more things change, the more they stay the, for instance, have an idiot winger (yeah, redundant, but...), anyway, have an idiot winger in the White House, and the stock market WILL drop like a rock:

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Caterpillar Inc.'s warning that the housing slump was infecting the wider economy sent U.S. stocks tumbling by the most in more than two months on Friday, in a drop that was made more unnerving as it marked the 20th anniversary of the 1987 market crash.

The Dow fell nearly 367 points after Caterpillar (CAT.N), the world's top maker of earth-moving construction and mining equipment, said the U.S. economy will be "near to, or even in, recession" next year. Several industries it serves already are in recession, it said.

The bleak comments from the economic bellwether, whose stock fell 5.3 percent, helped drag down the shares of other big manufacturers, including 3M Co. (MMM.N), and contributed to a shift from stocks to the relative safety of U.S. Treasuries.

Pathetic--they can't even do business successfully.
Um, Just Wondering, Mrs. Cheney...

Is the latest violence in Pakistan also something that does not affect "American Interests" ?

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. And callous ain't just something you get on your hand.
Attitude Problem

Hullabaloo--through her post at Campaign for America's Future--pointed to a pretty extraordinary, if depressing, 2004 NY Press essay by Mark Ames identifying spite as a major political motivation among, especially, otherwise disenfranchised white males.

If you've got the time, I really think it's worth the read. To be honest, reading it reminded me of the time I personally witnessed a conversation between a white male southerner and white male northerner about the Confederate Battle Standard (sometimes misidentified as the Stars and Bars). My southern friend averred that the flag didn't mean "fuck them" (i.e., African-Americans), but instead meant "fuck YOU" (i.e., northerners).

Well, that point can be argued till Doomsday, and while I'll link Stars and Bars or Battle Flag references, displaying it isn't my style (which is why I went for a NASCAR theme with my first picture of the day--there's plenty of "fuck you" regionalism associated with it, too). And while the article certainly doesn't make the absolute definitive argument, it sure hits a lot of points dead-on center.

Personally, I've often wondered why so goddamned many folks will pay so dearly for the dubious "privilege" of having someone to hate.

In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they're listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.


...non-millionaires who vote Republican, the so-called "Reagan Democrats," know that the country is not theirs. They are mere wage-slave fodder, so their only hope is to vote for someone who makes the very happiest people's lives a little less happy. If I'm an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I'm going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.

This explains the mystery of why Bush still has a chance of winning in November, even though most Americans acknowledge that his presidency is little more than a series of slapstick fuck-ups with apocalyptic consequences. Inspector Clouseau meets the Book of Revelations. Close to half of this country will support Bush simply to spite that part of America that it sees as most threatened by the Iraq debacle. If the empire ends up collapsing into that filthy, sizzling hellhole in the desert, if more terrorists are created to help set off dirty bombs in Manhattan or Los Angeles, our spiteful voter has a real chance of finally achieving some empowerment.

It's simple mathematics: Bring down the coastal elite and the single 40-something Ohio salesman might actually matter. And if they're not brought down, but instead remain in a constant state of indigestion over policies that could ruin them at any time? Well, that's still better than nothing.

This is why all the talk about "personal interests" is a sham. Spite voters don't care solely about their own interests, nor are they bothered by how "the left talks as if they know what everyone's best interests are," an argument you often hear from the whiney right. What bothers spiters is that the left really does know what's in their interests. If you're miserable, you don't want to be told what's best for you by someone who's correct—it's sort of like being occupied by a foreign army with good intentions. You'd rather fuck things up on your own, something you're quite good at, and bring others down with you.

Spite voting is mostly a white male phenomenon, which is why a majority of white males vote Republican. It comes from a toxic mix of thwarted expectations, cowardice and anomie that is unique to the white American male experience.

Ames concludes with an interesting, and ominous comparison, between George W. Bush, not Lyndon Johnson, but Slobodan Milosevic:

George W. Bush and Milosevic have a lot in common. Before Milosevic, the Serbs were loved by everyone in the West. But as their third-way socialist economy crumbled and they perceived a threat from local Muslim populations, Milosevic pandered to the people's darkest fears. He dragged them into what we call "wars of choice" and turned the international community against them, to the point where Serbia was the most reviled nation in Europe. He attacked the U.N. and the West as anti-Serb, and kept the country in a permanent state of war and fear and isolation. Like Bush, Milosevic destroyed his little empire almost as quickly as he assumed control of it. It took a decade and massive covert and overt Western efforts to finally get Milosevic out of power and into the dock. For many a spiteful Serb male, those years of decline, hatred and isolation were glorious years indeed.

American Eastern European provincialism. It's sort of like NASCAR too, but with guns instead of carbureators.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And Away They Whine

"These people are going to overdose on smelling salts and phony sanctimony if they don't watch out. It's about once a week now, isn't it?


it's...another coordinated hissy kabuki designed to distract from the fact that they just upheld their 24% president's veto of a popular program to help sick children. They know it. We know it. And the republicans know it. It doesn't matter."

Noted Simply for the Record

Another card carrying liar.

Mitch McConnell holds a lifetime membership.
Family Values

Such a fine example of "Christian" morality...after all, it's not like Jeeeesus should have to insure a two-year old with a pre-existing condition.
Triple Feature of Pathetic

Last night, in order, I managed to catch Shrub's latest attempt--and failure--at more or less extemporaneous communication, Larry Craig's equally sad attempt to convince himself, his wife and the world of a lie that wouldn't fool a grade school kid, and...bit and pieces of Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner. Geez. I felt like I was one Russ Meyer or Steve Reeves movie away from the Rotten Tomatoes equivalent of hitting the cycle.

I suppose it might also be indicative of my lack of a life...true, though in my defense I need to save a few dollars after having had a superb time in NOLA this past weekend...

UPDATE: Oyster reminds us of a couple of reasons why Larry Craig deserves ZERO sympathy, namely, his ugly choice of metaphor last night and his even uglier presentation of his middle digit to Gret Steters following Katrina, Rita, and the Federal Flood.

So, Senator Craig, as far as I'm concerned, if you've opted for a diet of shit sandwiches, stop complaining about the taste.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Maybe It Was Because of an Undotted "i" and an Uncrossed "t"

Well, whatever the reason, the judge did NOT rule on the merits of the case:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a so-called "whistleblowers'" lawsuit that accuses insurance companies of overbilling the federal government for Hurricane Katrina's flood damage to Louisiana homes.

Allan Kanner, the New Orleans-based attorney who filed the suit on behalf of a group of former insurance adjusters, said U.S. District Judge Peter Beer dismissed the case on procedural grounds and didn't rule on the merits of the allegations.

Kanner's suit accuses Allstate Insurance Co., State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. and other insurers of misrepresenting claims to the National Flood Insurance Program to limit their liability for storm damage after Katrina laid waste to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast homes.

Insurers have denied inflating flood damage estimates to avoid paying more money on claims for wind damage. The companies, which say their homeowner policies cover damage from wind but not rising water, sell separate flood insurance policies that are federally subsidized.
From the Chimp Who Brought You "Bring 'Em On"

If you liked Iraq, you'll LOVE Iran.
Refresher Course

Maybe this will jog your memory...

The National Embarrassment strikes again.
Means Testing, Rethuglican-Style

See, they're not so bad off...

More undiluted creepiness oozing forth from wingnuttia...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Isn't it Just a Bit Early for a Victory Cigar?

I'm still not going to bet against him, but I guess the final days of a campaign are when the stops get pulled...and who knows what comes out:

Former state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub said Monday that U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal worked against him in a tobacco lawsuit that resulted in billions of dollars for Louisiana...

In 1996, Jindal was the Republican Foster administration’s secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals when Ieyoub, a Democrat, filed suit against tobacco companies to recoup the state’s medical costs in treating smoking-related illnesses.

Tobacco interests used affidavits sworn out by Foster and Jindal to attempt to squash Ieyoub’s lawsuit.

The tobacco interests argued in court filings that the Foster and Jindal affidavits showed Ieyoub did not have the authority to sue on behalf of the state and DHH.

The affidavits amounted to an abbreviated list of facts, including that Foster and Jindal were not consulted on the decision to sue the tobacco companies.

In January 1997, state District Judge Wilford D. Carter of Lake Charles’ 14th Judicial District ruled Ieyoub did have the authority to file suit.

By June 1997, Louisiana was one of a number of states that shared in a $370 billion settlement by tobacco companies for the financial toll of smoking on states’ Medicaid programs.

Louisiana share was an estimated $4.7 billion, much of which was sold to generate an immediate $1.2 billion in 2001.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco proposed, then backed off, plans to sell the remaining 40 percent of the settlement. The amount varies depending on the market for bonds but could exceed $1 billion.


Georges spends most of the interview claiming that Jindal is stealing all his policy ideas from Georges, but I feel like I could make the case that Georges is stealing stuff from YRHT for his campaign attacks. (Though, again, I must stress that I was obviously joking last year, whereas Georges is serious.)

Back to work over here...I might have to have another short day, post-wise, thanks to an after-hours work project...
White Man's Burden Nuance

It's "democracy" and "human rights" because...Shrub says it is.

Few things underscore the hypocrisy of Shrub's and wingnuttia's contention that "we're in the G.W.O.T, maaaaaaan!" than their decidedly less-than-urgent concern for anything even approaching democratic reform in such "allies" like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Egypt. Of course, one small problem with promoting democracy is that you might wind up with...democracy...and, whether we like to admit it or not, genuine democracy in the Middle East and/or Central Asia might not be nearly as amenable to U.S. interests as is the present state of affairs (minus, of course, the nightmare in Iraq, which, combined with the idiotic saber rattling and barking about Iran, has helped push the price of oil to $88 dollars a barrel, but that's a whole other story)...but I digress.

America, meet your nuance:

Last month, Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian human rights advocate, met with President Bush in Washington when he was flown there for an award granted by the National Endowment for Democracy. Mr. Kassem, the only winner from Egypt, said that Mr. Bush had spoken effusively about promoting democracy to the other recipients, but he did not address the topic when it came to Egypt.

"In comparison with my colleagues from other countries, this was the least of his interests," Mr. Kassem said.

The truth is that almost any administration could not care any less about human, civil or democratic rights in Egypt, but this administration is particularly cynical, especially when you consider things like their lofty to the point of silly rhetoric, not to mention the now mostly forgotten purple-inked fingers from the halcyon days of Rethuglian majorities in Congress, smugly raised in celebration of non-existent Iraqi "democracy."

And the uglier truth is that the whole sorry show in both Iraq and Afghanistan bear even less relationship to a global "war" on terror than the freak sideshow does to the bigtop. The fact is that if you WANT a global war on terror, the very countries Shrub WON'T invade--Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt--would HAVE to be invaded, and at a cost that would make the eternal misery expidition in Iraq look like the mother of all picnics.

And don't think we wouldn't feel it here. Wingnut nonsense about global wars that can be fought essentially for free are already as empty as semi-trailers hauling sailboat fuel, but a REAL war on terror would end the global system of trade and the energy economy as we know it. We might be looking on the days of $88 dollar a barrel oil as a time of easy-energy in comparison.

Remember--wingnuttia is TRYING to bring on the apocalypse, although I wonder if your old-fashioned Rethug business-types really want a world that's, well, not all that good for business, or pretty much anything else.
Our Fate is Your Fate, an Ongoing Series

They take your money, then cancel your policy:

GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Oct. 15 -- It is 1,200 miles from the coastline where Hurricane Katrina touched land two years ago to the neat colonial-style home here where James Gray, a retired public relations consultant, and his wife, Ann, live. But this summer, Katrina reached them, too, in the form of a cancellation letter from their home-insurance company...

In the last three years, more than three million homeowners have received letters like the Grays' as insurance companies, determined to avoid another $40 billion Katrina bill, have essentially begun to redraw the outline of the eastern United States somewhere west of the Appalachian Trail.

Public officials in Southern states from Florida to Texas have been fighting insurance carriers for years over rising rates and withdrawal of services, but officials in the Northeast have only recently joined the fray.

Companies including Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual have "nonrenewed" policies not only in hurricane-battered places like Florida and Louisiana, but in New York and other Northern states that have not seen hurricanes in years. Since last year, those three companies and others have turned down all new homeowners' insurance business in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts and the eight downstate counties of New York.

An independent insurance agents' group puts the Grays among about 50,000 residents of the New York metropolitan area -- and about one million homeowners in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states -- whose policies have been canceled since 2004. While most homeowners have been able to find coverage with other major insurers, or with smaller companies, in most cases it is at higher rates and with larger deductibles...

Betty Clark, a retired waitress living on a fixed income in a modest house where she raised her children in Eastham, Mass., on Cape Cod, said she had no idea how the tussle between insurance companies and public officials would play out. But after years of paying $742 a year, her home insurance doubled last year, to $1,440, which she would not be able to afford if not for some help from her children.

"I’ve never made a claim in all these years," she said by telephone. "And yet, here it’s possible I’ll lose my home," she said.

In other words, the insurance industry considers their "service" to be little more than facilitating the purchase of property (which requires a homeowner's policy). Claims are restricted to an unbelievably narrow criteria--and then, as often as not, are paid only AFTER the policy holder has had to threaten legal action.

Sounds like a wingnut's dream world, but more of a dystopian nightmare for any rational person.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Three Day Weekend...

Apologies for taking today off, and, as always, thanks to anyone taking the time to stop by...

As for today--and the weekend--well, I certainly had just the best time--where else?--in the most amazing city in this country, New Orleans, visiting with some friends who came in from out of town.

We managed to take in quite a bit, from the Warehouse District galleries to Willie Mae's Scotch House to Snug Harbor, along with an extended drive through Gentilly, the Lower 9th, the Lakefront, and a quick stop at Martin's Wine Cellar on the way out of town.

But I'm feeling the effects, so a little rest is in order. I'll be back tomorrow.

Until then.