Friday, September 19, 2008

Surge Myth Flattened

Not that you're likely to hear about it, particularly from either political party (one of the more frustrating elements of this campaign has been watching Obama accept certain wingnut talking points--true, he knows more than me, but still...)--anyway, Shrub's Iraq "surge," according to studies, is all hat, no cattle:

Satellite images taken at night show heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Baghdad began emptying before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published on Friday.

In other words, the violence declined because the targets of violence had already fled--or been killed.

"By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left," geography professor John Agnew of the University of California Los Angeles, who led the study, said in a statement.

"Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was beginning," said Agnew, who studies ethnic conflict.

Some 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq, while 2 million more have sought refuge in neighboring Syria and Jordan. Previously religiously mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad became homogenized Sunni or Shi'ite Muslim enclaves.

The study, published in the journal Environment and Planning A, provides more evidence of ethnic conflict in Iraq, which peaked just before U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of about 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

The extent to which the troop build-up helped halt Iraq's slide into sectarian civil war has been debated, particularly in the United States, with supporters of the surge saying it was the main contributing factor, and others arguing it was simply one of a number of factors.

"Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved," Agnew's team wrote in their report.

Agnew's team used publicly available infrared night imagery from a weather satellite operated by the U.S. Air Force.

And most people with functioning brain cells understand that elsewhere, it's less "the surge" and more "the bribe."

Someone should ask McCain if he intends to continue the policy.
Waste Management

One thing that continues to strike me regarding to the financial crisis is the term "toxic waste" applied to what looks like will soon be, ahem, public property...

Property we'll be paying hundreds of billions--if not trillions--of dollars for. Sort of like Shrub's Mesopotamian and Afghanistan tragedies.

But protecting and restoring the Louisiana coastline and New Orleans--which would cost literally pennies on the dollars they now can't spend quickly enough--is too expensive. Unbelievable.
Rush Throws Himself a Pity Party

There really IS such a thing as "less than zero."

Booman Tribune offers a proper response.
The People V. G.W. Bush

Here's a campaign promise I can support: Charlotte Dennett, candidate for Vermont Attorney General, promises to hire Vincent Bugliosi as a special prosecutor if she's elected for the purpose of bringing charges of murder against Shrub:

"No man, even the president of the United States, is above the law," said Bugliosi.

Meanwhile, isn't it interesting that the MAJOR disaster resulting from Hurricane Ike is pretty much off the national radar screen? For that matter, Gustav's effects are still being felt, too. And the pitiful response from the government makes it clear that the Bush "philosophy" is completely unacceptable, particularly in light of his newfound appreciation of big government programs...for big finance.

Sorry to digress, but to follow on this tangent for just a bit: nobody wants a disaster, but stuff happens...and the response to stuff happening is as good a drill as anything for the kinds of attacks this administration claims they're protecting us from.

But if this is the sort of protection we can expect, i.e., Operation Stumblebum, makes you wonder just where all the money's gone.

Or maybe we've been played for suckers--willingly in the case of wingnuts, not so willingly for the rest of us--all along.
The United States of Bananaland

We hope you enjoyed your MBA president, America.

And McCain-Palin offers four more years of the same.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Privacy Versus Sunshine Laws

Glenn Greenwald, after noting that the hacking of Sarah Palin's email account was illegal, not to mention vicious and ugly, points to the irony of previously 4th amendment scoffers suddenly channeling their inner civil libertarian. That's odd enough.

But I'd also like to point out the following:

...Palin sometimes uses non-government e-mail to conduct state business. Previously disclosed e-mails indicate her administration embraced Yahoo accounts as an alternative to government e-mail, which could possibly be released to the public under Alaska's Open Records Act.

In other words, Palin's complaining about an email account being hacked that possibly was created in part to avoid compliance with open records laws.

Sort of sounds to me like a crook filing a burglary complaint over stolen goods getting pilfered.

Personally, I could not care any less about Palin's email. Greenwald provides a link, but I haven't bothered with it...because it's none of my business. However, the citizens of Alaska DO have the right to know about their governor's official correspondence, and trying to bypass open records acts is pretty cheap and cynical, if you ask me (and I won't even go into the Troopergate thing.)
Bailout--We Bail, They Get Out

Government assistance belongs to those who own the government, I guess.
"Hey Look, it's Otis. Otis Loves Us." *

So, the Rethugs think the proper person to assign to minority outreach is...George Allen.

Maybe he'll show up driving the General Lee.
Um, Gramps Forgot to Take His Meds...Again

And now he's babbling on and making no sense whatsoever:

McCAIN: An oil rig off of the Louisiana coast. It survived hurricanes. It is safe, it is sound, and to somehow --

And by the way, on that oil rig -- and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this story -- you look down, and there’s fish everywhere! There’s fish everywhere! Yeah, the fish love to be around those rigs. So not only can it be helpful for energy, it can be helpful for some pretty good meals as well. […]

As far as China and Cuba are concerned, we continue to hear that there is negotiations or conversations or -- I’m not exactly sure what the state of play is, but it’s not a healthy thing, obviously.

This follows on the heels of the Senator's senior moment with regards to Spain's Prime Minister and geographic location.

Maybe it's just me, but this makes the prospect of Palin being a hearbeat away all the more frightening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When in Doubt, IOKIYAR Edition

For reasons that will become glaringly apparent, let's NOT post a picture, much does anyone want to bet that, should the present economic crisis really balloon out of control, the Rethug noise machine will blame it on...


Just a prediction, worth about .000000000002 cents...but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Sad to say, the CLENIS DID put himself in position to be blamed, what with his triangulation/Rethuglican-Lite strategery and all.
The Invisible Man Codpiece

Not coming to a theater--or anywhere else--near you.
Another Fine Example of "Mission Accomplished"

...brought to you courtesy of Team Bush. We can sadly but certainly expect more bombings like this--or worse--given our more than nominal military presence in the region.

Meanwhile, here on the home front, Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast residents continue to learn, in the worst way possible, that when their government squanders resources on ridiculous (but, for firms like Halliburton, lucrative) overseas misadventures, correspondingly less resources are available to mitigate the effects of REAL dangers.

To repeat something for the umpteenth time, how on earth can people think Bush--or McCain--could "protect" the public from terrorism when they obviously can't protect against or or effectively respond to something awful but predictable like a hurricane?
And Yea, Verily, Journalists Will Worship at HIS Feet...

And they will call HIM "Drudge," and issue forth proclamations to wit "Drudge doth rule the world thine and mine," and approvingly quoteth wingnut tools the likes of Timothy Griffith.

And then they will go forth and wank furiously under the covers. Or should I say "wanketh?"
McCain: I Have Many Negro Worker Friends...

Like this guy--Dobbs...Jeeves...or whatever his name is.

From Rising Hegemon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hatred is a Luxury

A luxury we can ill-afford at ANY time, but especially at the present time.
New Details Emerge About Sarah Palin

1. Can't run a large company, but

2. CAN read a teleprompter, and

3. Appears to lie compulsively.
Building a Bridge to the 19th Century

Hey, who would've figured that a so-called 'businessman,'with a history of failures and shady dealings--and who only made money on a sweetheart deal in a licensed monopoly--would manage to fuck things up this badly? I mean, gee.

Let's see: two wars, neither one of which can be termed "victory" by anyone with functional brain cells...and now we've got nuclear Pakistan vowing to fire on any US troops or planes they deem as across a pretty ill-defined border...then we've got the financial meltdown (The good news: gasoline will be below $3.00 a gallon. The bad news: no one will have $3.00)...oh, and then there's the matter of Hurricane Ike's aftermath, bungled as only Team Bush can (or Team McCain could), off the national radar screen, maybe because it's not as much fun for Rick Santorum or Phil Gramm to blame white victims:

for some, the wait for a return to normalcy could be days. For others, it could be weeks.

"A good bath would be nice: have the fire department swing by and spray us down," said Carlos Silliman, 48, as he sat on a picnic bench in front of his Galveston Island home, where 18 inches of water flooded his garage and ruined a freezer full of venison. "I'm ready to have a cold beer and read the paper."

For most, such luxuries are far beyond the horizon. Many service stations have no gasoline, and some major highways remain under water. More than 30,000 evacuees are still living in nearly 300 public shelters, and roughly 2 million people in Texas alone are without power.

Ike's survivors have already walked for miles and waited for hours at supply distribution centers, gobbling up all that was offered: 1 million bottles of water, 1 million meals and 600,000 pounds of ice in just the first 36 hours after the storm passed.

It's not enough, and those dispatching truck after truck to distribution centers around the city know it. One such center north of Houston drew 10,000 people Monday in search of food and water.


Officials on the barrier island said it could be months before the city of Galveston reopens. The main gas and a primary electric transmission line to the island were severely damaged by Ike, which also tore at the wharves in the city's port. Officials warned that mosquito-borne diseases could begin to spread after one elderly man was airlifted to a hospital covered with hundreds of bites.

"Galveston can no longer safely accommodate its population," City Manager Steve LeBlanc said. "Quite frankly, we are reaching a health crisis for people who remain on the island."

The ONLY reason for the pitiful reaction to Ike (and Gustav) is that the Bush Administration has managed to squander resources on an almost unfathomable level. They truly HAVE built a bridge, if not to the 19th Century, then definitely to Bananaland.

And McCain-Palin promise to extend that bridge to nowhere.
John S. McHoover

More than a passing resemblence.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Forget It, Jake. It's New Orleans, not Chinatown *

Nicolai Ouroussoff channels my sentiments exactly:

For Americans watching events unfold on television late last month, the arduous evacuation of New Orleans and the grandeur of the Olympic Games couldn’t have made for a starker contrast.

However one feels about its other policies, the Chinese government is clearly not afraid to invest in the future of its cities. The array of architecture it created for the Beijing Olympics was only part of a mosaic of roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, subway lines and other projects that have transformed a medieval city of wood and brick into a modern metropolis overnight.

Meanwhile, three full years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, much of the city remains a wasteland. As Hurricane Gustav raced toward the Gulf Coast, it became clear that the city's patchwork levee system could not guarantee the safety of its citizens. The evacuation of tens of thousands of residents was cheered as some sort of victory.

But for those with a sense of urban history, the tragedy of New Orleans is not just about governmental disregard for the welfare of the city's inhabitants. It is about a lost opportunity. All of the great challenges that confront the 21st-century city -- from class, race and environmental issues to the continuing duel between history and modernity -- are crystallized in New Orleans.

Yet the kind of visionary urban plan that could address these issues in a bold and thoughtful way has yet to materialize. Instead, some of the country’s greatest architectural minds are inventing the future in cities like Beijing, Shenzhen and Dubai, where their talents are more appreciated.

The signs pointing to this tragic turn of events were there for anyone who cared to read them. The great urban planning experiments that transformed America in the early 20th century were both triumphs of engineering and dazzling monuments to a free, mobile society. Anyone who has watched the film "Chinatown" knows the story of William Mulholland’s aqueduct, which transformed Los Angeles from a desert wasteland into a sunny paradise of trim lawns and orange groves. Less known is the story of modern New Orleans, which exists because of the system of canals, levees and pumps -- the largest in the world -- that were used to drain acres of marshland.

Our fate=Your fate.

If you've got time, definitely read the whole thing.
Think Progress: No 'Touchy Feely' for Big Time

But if you need vicious, ugly, & stupid, he's your Dick:
McCain: " 'The Fundamentals' of the Economy [are] the 'American Worker[s]' "

And he oughta know, he's hired a few of 'em.
That Can't Feel Good

All the subtletly of an anvil slamming into a skull.

Just like I don't wish natural disasters on anyone, neither do I want to see financial meltdown; however, maybe it will hammer home the fact that the upcoming election matters a great deal. It ain't American Idol, it's leadership of the free world, with all the benefits, but also all the responsibilites, that go with it.
Drill Till You Drop

From dday at Hullabalooo:

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:
Gentlemen, we’re in the middle of a near total mortgage system meltdown in this country. We have a health care system that burns 16 percent of our GDP, in which the Medicare liability alone has been estimated at $34 trillion. We’re burning $10 billion a month in Iraq.

This administration has run up $7.7 trillion in national debt, by our calculation. And there is worsening evidence every day of global warming, with worsening environmental and national security and economic ramifications. In light of those conditions, do any of you seriously contend that drilling for more oil is the number one issue facing the American people today?

(Long silent pause during which nobody answers.)

WHITEHOUSE: No, it doesn’t seem so.
Presenting 'So Much for Lessons Learned'...

Once again it seems that Team Bush is doing a heckuva job.
From Change to Small Change to Flat Broke

John McCain wants to privatize Social Security, which means the funds would be managed by geniuses like this.

Oh, and recall that not-dismissed economic advisor Phil Gramm helped make the Enron disaster a reality.

Speaking more generally, though, Social Security is not merely an "entitlement," which itself is an odious term invented by right wing sleaze mongers, who possess more than a little of the entitlement mentality themselves. Social Security is a long term investment in the United States. The ramifications of privatization would far-reaching in ways wingnuts lack the capacity to imagine (for instance: this would doubtless affect, in a negative way, the stability of United States commercial paper.) No, Krugman's correct: the wingers want to destroy Social Security BECAUSE it's a successful government program, and they're so ideologically rabid that they don't care if they destroy the lives of senior citizens, or working people who provide goods and services to senior citizens, etc. They likewise don't care if they do irreparable harm to the country's financial underpinnings. In other words, they're willing to destroy the country to make their point.

Sounds a little like the McCain campaign strategery of saying or doing anything, no matter how vile, if you think it might score you a few cheap points.