Friday, June 20, 2008

When He Was Fab

John McCain for president...because the 1980s require leadership.
Political Calculus

I'm trying to quickly post this before Blogger's "scheduled outage" in just a couple of minutes...maybe I'll post an update later.

Yeah, I'm disappointed by Obama's position/cave-in on the warrantless wiretapping...on the other hand, I can see the thought processes, both sincere and cynical, that went into it.

And I'll leave it at that until Blogger resumes.

Update: to expand just a bit on "thought processes, both sincere and cynical..."--I doubt anyone thinks or otherwise expects worthless wingnuts to change their tune (I really like that term, which I found at Alicublog)--anyway, wingnuts will continue to push the idea that "Obama is [name your favorite flavor of 'anti-American']" which is of course code for "he's black." On the other hand, maybe they think a few fence-sitters can be convinced with this sort of vote...and, whether we like it or not, very, VERY few people seem to be all that worried about civil liberties these days. Sigh. To be honest, I don't know how to convince American citizens to be concerned about this egregious violation of our rights...short of Baghdad-style house-to-house searches with Chris Hansen providing play-by-play. So maybe the Obama brain-trust figured it wouldn't hurt too much to play to the 'nuts on this one issue...and, c'mon, it's not like I'll be running into Johnny Mac's arms as a result.
How Many More Lessons Will It Take?

Sorry to keep using such a cliche of an image, but it fits. The Bush administration has had three years since the New Orleans flood, but instead of doing something, they've pissed away unfathomable amounts of money on their pipedream in Mesopotamia while utterly ignoring the possibility of additional disasters right here in the US...a direct result of ignoring crumbling infrastructure:

The sprawling network of levees -- built over many years to protect the Upper Mississippi basin from the sort of disastrous flooding that has claimed homes, lives, and millions of acres of farmland this past week -- was never designed to withstand the magnitude of a 500-year flood.

And so towns like Gulfport, Ill., and La Grange, Mo., have watched as waters spilled over the tops of levees that were supposed to keep them dry.

The flooding has raised questions about the adequacy of the patchwork system -- in which little information is known about where levees exist, who maintains them, and what their condition is -- even as towns downstream hurry to fortify their own levees in preparation for the cresting floodwaters still moving south...

Already, the flood seems likely to equal or exceed the 1993 floods that wreaked havoc in these states, taking 48 lives and causing more than $20 billion in damage. On Thursday, President Bush was expected to tour flooded Iowa counties.

The news of so many levees overtopping or breaching can come as a shock to residents who felt safe behind their walls.

But experts say it's hardly surprising, especially given the low standards to which most levees are built.

To qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program, structures simply need to be behind a levee built to a so-called 100-year standard, meaning there is a 1 percent chance in any given year that a flood will rise above the levee. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, levees for ocean flooding are built to a 10,000-year standard, and inland levees are designed at least to a 250-year standard and usually in excess of 1,250 years.

"Around the world, the 100-year standard is a joke," says John Barry, author of "Rising Tide," his book about the Mississippi River flood of 1927, and a member of a flood control authority that oversees six levee districts in metropolitan New Orleans. "We invest on the cheap."

The wealthiest country in recorded history, but "we invest on the cheap." Speaks volumes, and not in a good way.

At the center of the debate is whether we want the government to work for us...or for a bunch of crass greedmongers. You know, this shouldn't be much of a newsflash, but it's not like government will magically go away, no matter what sort of ludicrous fantasy wingnuts conjure.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

John McCain Reveals the "Secret Weapon" With Which He'll Fight bin Laden

And it sure as hell ain't no arugula.
Dick Likes to Listen (In)

And the Democratic Congress caves when it comes to our privacy. Geez.

You know, this is only tangentially related, but yesterday I had a small yet nonetheless annoying wake up call on just how far we've regressed as a civil society: I've been bicycling a bit in a long-overdue effort to get in better shape...surprisingly, downtown Baton Rouge is an excellent place to ride. After most people decamp (via SUV) to their surburban McMansions, you've got good roads, low traffic, and pleasant views. Anyway, I'm no showboat, nor am I a bat out of hell on the roads...which is why a Louisiana State Trooper, annoyed that I had the nerve to get in HIS way on HIS road (for the record, Third St. at the Capitol itself) ORDERED me to the sidewalk via his onboard loudspeaker. Not because I was breaking the law, or hot-dogging and impeding traffic, but because he was in a big hurry to...well, I'm not sure, because he continued southbound on Lafayette St. at a leisurely pace.

Now, last I checked, I have as much right to the road as anyone. Despite this, I keep an eye out for cars and do everything I can to not be a hassle to them. And, you know, I even want to give the police as much respect as anyone. Sure, it's not an easy job...but when a cop behaves like, well, an asshole, it's hard not to think of him as anything but...especially when he either doesn't know the law or doesn't care. Just sayin.

For the record, I complied with his order until I was out of his line of sight. Not because I wanted to, but because you can bet cops like that are looking for any excuse to make things miserable...and of course they'll never have to account for their actions...just like the Bush-Cheney administration re: our right to privacy.
I Think We've Managed to Go Beyond Tragedy and into Farce...

Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater, Inc., is trying to hide behind Sharia Law in order to get what I presume is a wrongful death lawsuit dismissed (yes, it is a wrongful death claim.)

Some war on terror, eh?

Link from TPM and Rising Hegemon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Glowing Endorsement

Nuke plants here, nuke plants there, nuke plants everywhere--and who cares if they'd be a potential terrorist target?
Rising Tides and Falling Investments

Click for larger size

The graphic is from First Draft, as is Scout's superb article.

And, sorry for another slow day on the's been a busy day at work, though.
Knee Jerk

Once a snake oil salesman, always a snake oil salesman.
The Milgram Rumsfeld Experiments

It's not like we really needed any more evidence to demonstrate that Donald Rumsfeld is a deeply flawed, despicable, sadistic, miserable excuse for a human being...

But IF we did, we've got it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Noun? Check. Verb? Ditto. 9/11? Yep.

Rudy stays on message.
Well, Maybe It Explains How She Got Her 'Purple Heart'

Lessons Unlearned

It's been almost three years, but evidently the Chimperor can't be bothered with much of anything beyond navel gazing and musing about "the legacy thing:"

A levee broke in Gulfport, Illinois, sending muddy waters from the most important U.S. waterway cascading into nearby farmland and a few homes. No one was injured but authorities closed the bridge across the river to Burlington, Iowa.

Thank heavens no one was injured, but I repeat--it's been THREE YEARS since the levees failed in New Orleans. Evidently Shrub's position in regards to planning and/or implementation a program of repair and maintenance for critical infrastructure like levees is to...sit. on. his. ass.

On the flip side, his policy in Iraq isn't much better. "Success" is defined by shoveling money hand over fist to KBR and firing anyone who tries to determine just what it is they're getting paid for..."success" is also at least 50 people killed by a car bomb in Baghdad, while it's not like things are really any better in the forgotten war.

By the way--this is why Obama is correct in noting that the Grand Old Fuckup Party has ZERO business lecturing ANYONE about national security (as if their colossal failure on 9/11 isn't proof enough.)

Like I said, they hold us in contempt. They think we really ARE dumber than posts (and, to be fair, that's probably the case with their wingnut base of support)...but at a certain point, people MUST begin to think of their own least I've got to hope so...
Duct Tape and Visquine, Redux

From First Draft.

Talk about knee-jerk stupidity--it seems as if this administration's "solution" to pretty much everything is duct tape, visquine...maybe old newspapers, or a mix and match of plywood, sand and scrounged sheet metal...

They really DO hold us in a degree of contempt that's astonishing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Time to Make the Doughnuts Declare 'Mission Accomplished'

Not gonna happen...

I feel like I've heard this before, and I'm pretty sure I've heard it every summer since the war began in 2003, namely, that the violence might finally be abating...

Of course, the fact that it's the beginning of summer doesn't seem to register.

Nor does the fact that huge swaths of Iraq have been sealed away behind 25 foot high blast walls, a particularly ugly program of segregation. Nor does the fact that some four million Iraqis are now refugees...

Oh, and what counts as "good news" is a monthly death count of 532 Iraqis...and 19 Americans (15 in combat, i.e., one death every other day). Just makes you want to celebrate, don't it.

Or throw up.
A New World Record!

Scientists are forecasting the largest "dead zone" ever in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to all those who've contributed...which I'd guess is the roughly 2/3 of the country in the Mississippi/Missouri watershed.
Wingnut Welfare Queen

Poor Rudy.
Fuel Run for the Border

Gasoline is $2.54 a Tijuana:

The lower prices mean a U.S. motorist could save almost $54 filling up a two-year-old Ford F150 pickup with a 26-gallon fuel tank in Mexico.

The differential in diesel is even greater, selling at $5.04 a gallon in San Diego County and $2.20 in Tijuana.

Paul Covarrubias, 26, who lives in Chula Vista and works in construction in San Diego, crosses the border each week just to refuel his dual-cab Ford F-250 pickup.

"I fill it up with diesel in Tijuana for $60," he said. "It would be almost twice that in San Diego."

Gas is cheaper in Mexico because of a government subsidy intended to keep inflationary forces in check.

Still, international gas-buying trips don't make sense for everyone. The wait getting back into the U.S. at the border in Tijuana frequently takes longer than two hours and cars can burn about a gallon of gas for each hour they idle.

I wonder if Mexico will demand we crack down on "illegal fuelers." Or, perhaps as a gesture of compassion, they can set up a "guest gasoline purchase" quota...