Saturday, February 02, 2008

Satuday "What I Found On You Tube" Post

I think the Meters are a good fit for today--just got back from the local Mardi Gras parade...gee, it's starting to get, well, kind of big: I remember when it wasn't much more than a couple of pickup trucks and the lawnmower brigade.

It's still not New Orleans, though.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Just One Word


Given the choice between cuddling up with a Washington lobbyist and a potted plant, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney chose fake foliage over a real Beltway insider...

Chairman of the Washington lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide, [Ron] Kaufman and his role in the campaign were thrown into the spotlight on Jan. 17 when the AP reporter challenged Romney's assertion during a news conference in a Columbia, S.C., Staples office supply store that "I don't have lobbyists running my campaign."

The reporter asked whether that meant Kaufman, his regular travel companion, was merely "a potted plant."

After 10 days off the charter, Kaufman returned to the plane this week. The plant, he said, was a fake he took from his hotel on Friday morning.

"Barreling Into Recession"

The whole essay is worth reading, but the intro has a reminder of just how leaden the Shrub-Cheney touch is:

It's hard even to remember -- now that the price of a barrel of crude oil has hit the $100 mark and still hovers around $91 -- that, in the week after September 11, 2001, oil was still under $20 a barrel.
Shrub's Favorite Journalist

Finally, a member of the fourth estate publicly acting dumber than the decider himself. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets a medal of freedom out of it.
Almost FEMA-Like in Competency

Heckuva Job:

Rebuilding failures by one of the most heavily criticized companies working in Iraq, the American construction giant Parsons, were much more widespread than previously disclosed and touched on nearly every aspect of the company’s operation in the country, according to a report released Monday by a federal oversight agency...

...the new report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent federal agency, examined nearly 200 Parsons construction projects contained in 11 major "job orders" paid for in a huge rebuilding contract. There were also three other nonconstruction orders. The total cost of the work to the United States was $365 million.

But, not to worry--some of the projects are being taken over by...The Army Corps of Engineers.

You can't make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, more people are evidently unaware of the astonishing success of the surge, generating a statement from Ambassador Crocker that displays an equivalent know, if it wasn't so tragically deadly, you could liken it to the old joke about economists--when presented with real world data that contradicts the economic model...the proper response is to deny reality.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hanging Over ALL of US

You know, as horrible as the problem is in New Orleans, something tells me the crisis in mental health care isn't just limited to the Crescent City, and that additional catastrophes might well be just one disaster away, natural or otherwise almost anywhere you go in this country.

After all, it's not like there's a whole lot of profit in such enterprises--well, unless you secure a cost-plus government contract--and so I'd guess that mental health care/clinics have been pretty much stripped to bare bones, despite the fact that such facilities, and their quality, speak volumes about, well, just exactly how civilized we actually are...

Oh, and slightly off-topic, but not really, I see, also from First Draft, that Alphonso Jackson is, you guessed it, blaming the victims in the subprime mortgage crisis, showing, as I noted in comments, at least some consistency in wingnuttia: they blamed the victims of the federal flood in New Orleans, and are now doing the same to those drowning in a sea of red ink...
It Means More Than Just Slapping on a Car Magnet

Army suicide rates are up--way up:

As many as 121 soldiers committed suicide in 2007, an increase of some 20 percent over 2006, according to preliminary figures released Thursday.

The number who tried to commit suicide or injured themselves for some other reason jumped six-fold in the last several years — from 350 in 2002 to about 2,100 incidents last year.

As so many have noted, soldiers are NOT disposable items...
A Wingnut "Two Thirds"

Let's see--according to Shrub, there is "no doubt" among the terrorists about the efficacy of the surge...and you'd have to be a commie or, worse, an atheist, to question it in the American press...but it seems that the surge's success is perceived to be a bit more limited by the filthy wogs the Iraqi people.

Shaima, a 29-year-old artist, proudly displays her latest work in progress. White streaks stand out against a bright, burnt orange background -- an abstract painting that she says signifies the reality of life in Baghdad for the last five years.

"I am trying to show scattered body parts flying around," she says...

Dressed in a sleek gray shirt and spiked heels, Shaima looks like she belongs at an art gallery in Paris, not a run-down studio with no power in Baghdad.

Her art used to be as lively as her persona, but since the U.S.-led war began, she only expresses tragedy. It's the reality inside her, the death and destruction she has witnessed firsthand.

"Ruins of a city, a memory of a city only," the artist says as she describes what she sees when she looks at the streets of Baghdad. "I only see it full of sorrow -- the city that had such a busy past -- but now it's just a memory."

But hey, it's not like wingnuts actually, you know, cared about "the Iraqi people," except as a useful prop to push their deranged fantasies.
The Divine Right of Chickenshit

From First Draft...

To be fair, it appears the decision to dismiss is based on sound legal, um, principles, despite the justified outrage.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval ruled that the Flood Control Act of 1928 provides immunity to the corps and other federal agencies involved in building flood projects. He relied on 1986 and 2001 Supreme Court rulings that found the law "provides immunity where, as here, a flood control project fails to control floodwaters because of the failure of the flood control project itself."

Duval, however, issued a stinging condemnation of the corps and its actions in building the city's hurricane protection system.

"Here, the court must apply this broad immunity based upon the facts of this case," Duval said. "Often, when the King can do no wrong, his subjects suffer the consequences. Such is the case here."

"This story -- 50 years in the making -- is heart-wrenching," Duval, an appointee of President Clinton, said in his 46-page ruling. "Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the corps' own calculations."

Duval's decision leaves the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board and Orleans Levee District as defendants in the lawsuit.

I'm not a lawyer--Dangerblond is, and I'm sure Kim can provide better analysis, but I've gotta believe that some sort of immunity will eventually apply to NOSWB and OLD too, leaving an Act of Congress as the only avenue of relief (i.e., Road Home or equivalents) least regarding levee failures on "flood control projects." According to the article, Judge Duval IS allowing action against the ACOE for MRGO defects because it's NOT a flood control project, but a navigation canal. Additionally, a case is pending in the US Court of Federal Claims regarding MRGO and its effect on property values in St. Bernard.

Anyway...again, I don't know the law, but I guess this is either ultimtely a question of sovereign immunity, or maybe some sort of statutory immunity that as best as I can tell is based on the same...which might be "the way things are," but sure as hell makes me think of the line, "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The New "New Nixon and New JFK"

From Jeffrey, a Matt Taibbi article well worth reading, while Cockburn and St. Clair team up at Counterpunch to assess the triumph of The Institution/System: McCain vs. Hillary, the winner inheriting "the mess in Iraq and an economy in recession."

Makes you wonder just how much the Rethuglicans really want the prize. I've got a not-very-good feeling that "44" will go down in history as this generation's Jimmy Carter.
United States of Hypoxia

A different sort of bountiful harvest:

...a new government report says that nine states in the Mississippi River Basin contribute most of the nutrients in the northern Gulf of Mexico that threaten the viability of the nation's largest and most productive fisheries.

The U.S. Geological Survey report examined factors contributing to excessive levels of nutrients in the Mississippi River that create areas of hypoxia -- low oxygen levels -- resulting in the large dead zone that forms off Louisiana's coast every summer. The zone kills bottom-dwelling organisms in the Gulf...

Midwest farms were named as the major culprits in another study released Tuesday by Yale University concerning high carbon dioxide levels in some portions of the Mississippi River. The report said that Midwestern farms sent water into the Mississippi equal to the size of five Connecticut Rivers during the past 50 years. The higher water levels are responsible for the increases in carbon dioxide levels, the Yale report said.

"It's like the discovery of a new large river being piped out of the Corn Belt," said Pete Raymond, lead author of the study and associate professor of ecosystem ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Researchers said the carbon dioxide is changing the chemistry of the river's water and is a threat to marine life.

And for the record, I don't post this, per se, as any sort of "Eff You" to the Midwest. Instead, it's to note that there's no such thing as "those people down there," or "up there" or wherever--we are ALL part of the United States, and what affects one locale/state/region can and often does affect us ALL. Oh, to be sure, there's a part of me that wants to deliver a merry old "why-don't-you-shove-it...and-your-little-dog-too" to those whom I'll call internal isolationists, but the truth is that even if I COULD do that, it'd be like using an atom bomb to do a scalpel's work.
So Easy, Even the President of the United States Could Do It--But He Won't

You've most likely seen it already at First-Draft, but I figured it couldn't hurt to post a link. This question can and should be asked of all candidates:

Two years after Katrina and Rita and Gulf Coast schools, hospitals, police stations, roads and flood protection still lie in ruins, keeping displaced residents from returning and communities from recovering. Will you support H.R. 4048, the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, as President to rebuild community infrastructure and create job and training opportunities for residents?

I guess I'm just not up on my racist hate-speech code...I had no idea that among the mouth-breathers, "Canadian" is the new ni--, um, black.

(from Rising Hegemon)

Speaking of racism (and also from RH), this horrible story about the police killing a young woman in Ohio (and seriously wounding her infant son) should serve to remind us that 'the problems of the past' really AREN'T 'of the past,' but right here and now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

America's Flop-Sweat Mayor

And, full disclosure, I'm prone to perspire myself, so I'd usually cut the guy some slack...but Rudy really was sweating bullets during his concession speech.
Meet the New Afghanistan

Looks pretty much the same as the old, if you ask me.
Negroponte: And I Don't Beat My Wife Nearly as Much These Days

If there's such a thing as hell, John Negroponte will most certainly have the equivalent of at least a luxury suite. Hell, he's got so much blood on his hands a firehose couldn't clean them off...

Goddamned ghoul.
Rudy, Don't Take Your Love to Town

Schadenfreude, yes, but in what's amounting to a otherwise dismal election season, it's nice to watch Nosferatuliani's unlamented demise and extended swan song. Good riddance.
K-Tel Presents The State of the Union

Own it now on 8-track.

The Rude Pundit and Barry Crimmins have about as good a take on it as anyone. Overall, it was phoned-in, rehashed tripe--about what you'd expect from someone who, by any measure of qualifications, should be hawking Popeil Pocket Fishermens on late night tv as opposed to being the nominal leader of the free world.

And while I was pleasantly surprised at the mention of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, color me skeptical--talk is cheap.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Congress to Watch Trained Monkey Perform One Last Time

You'd think they'd have grown just as tired of his stale act as the rest of the country...but I guess Congress is easily amused.
How to Interrogate a Monster

Pout all you want, but there will be no waterboarding today.

There's no need to torture even the VERY WORST of criminals:

Piro says no coercive interrogation techniques, like sleep deprivation, heat, cold, loud noises, or water boarding were ever used. "It's against FBI policy, first. And wouldn't have really benefited us with someone like Saddam," Piro says.

Why not?

"I think Saddam clearly had demonstrated over his legacy that he would not respond to threats, to any type of fear-based approach," Piro explains.

Piro also noted that Saddam considered bin Laden a threat, which would come as no surprise to anyone with a few functioning brain cells, and that there were no WMD's, which is ditto...sure, Saddam wanted to obtain WMD and would've tried to...but he sure as hell couldn't manufacture them himself (the sanctions destroyed his phycial plant), leaving his only option purchasing them...probably from Dick Cheney.

Maybe that's way Shrub and Dick didn't get upset over no's like sharks not attacking lawyers: professional courtesy.

When a monster meets a monster comin' through the rye...
St. Ronald's Ghost...

Offers Mitt a timely reminder.
"I Love the Smell of Burning Hydrocarbons in the Morning"

Welcome to the Anthropocene Epoch.