Archive for September, 2007

Logic, people! LOGIC!!!

Sep 28, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics

Does the human brain not function anymore?

From Newsbusters:

(Rep.) Blackburn had been invited onto “Tucker” ostensibly to discuss MoveOn.org’s “General Betray Us” ad. But Shuster, serving as substitute host for Carlson, suddenly sandbagged Blackburn with this “gotcha” question.

SHUSTER: Let’s talk about the public trust. You represent of course a district in western Tennessee. What was the name of the last soldier from your district who was killed in Iraq?

MARSHA BLACKBURN: The name of the last soldier killed in Iraq from my district? I do not know.

SHUSTER: OK, his name was Jeremy Bohannon. He was killed August the ninth, 2007. How come you didn’t know the name?

Unfortunately, Shuster committed a technical error, and Mark Finkelstein pounces:

As it turns out, Pvt. Jeremy Bohannon — the soldier whose name Shuster attacked Blackburn for not knowing — had not, contrary to the MSNBC reporter’s claim, lived in her district.

Queue rightwinger rambling on for several hundred words about how horrible Shuster was for exposing Blackburn’s hypocrisy.

Why do I characterize it that way? Because the fact that Shuster’s research had turned up the wrong name doesn’t affect his point at all. While he had the wrong name, he certainly wasn’t corrected by Blackburn, so either way, she was wholly ignorant. If she’d provided a name that turned out to be the result of imperfect research, that would express interest in the subject of dead soldiers in her district at least. It would convey effort at trying to learn such things. Shrieking at her, “AHA, that soldier was in the district next to you!!!” would make the accuser look like an idiot.

Same here. Shuster went to find the name of a soldier and produced the wrong name through human error, not for lack of interest. Blackburn could have mitigated the damage by at least producing the name of one single soldier from her district. Just nada.

Of course, yammering about “I care deeply about the soldiers” was enough to please Finkelstein. Curiously absent from the discussion was the fact that Blackburn yammered like an idiot the entire time, differentiating “General Betray Us” from Rush Limbaugh’s “Senator Betray Us” (targeted at veteran Chuck Hagel) with “BUT MOVEON BOUGHT AN AD!!!”

The fact is that Blackburn was a pathetic know-nothing hack who was displaying faux-outrage over the Petraeus ad, and now Mark Finkelstein is foregoing all rational thought to express faux-outrage over a technical error that didn’t detract from the logic of the point being made.

Do they believe anything they say? Or are they just nuts? And how is it Republicans can get so far stalling people who get stuck trying to figure out if they’re liars or crazy people?

I don’t keep addressing the Petraeus question to prolong the controversy, but I think it’s served as a key example of how completely dishonest and desperate the rightwing has become. They’ve been exploding with bullshit and cleaning it up has proven to be a lengthy task. It’s a completely false controversy, and I’ve been attacking it on that grounds. In no way should that serve to suddenly judo-flip things and validate the controversy just because so much noise has been made about it. The fact is that Petraeus was dishonest. The implications were dangerous for the right, and the MoveOn ad was the perfect distraction. That’s only partly their fault, for nothing justifies the noise that has emanated from the right about it. They’re disgraceful hypocritical liars, and if you eliminated the rhetorical junk there’d be almost nothing to say about the ad, except that it fact-checks remarkably well and that the surge was a joke. And in every post I write about the nonsense that has resulted, I seek to push people back to that reality. Petraeus was not upfront with America. The surge was a bust. What do we do next?

-jb

UPDATE: Did Shuster really make the mistake?

But as today’s Memphis Commercial Appeal article suggests, it’s not totally clear that Shuster made a factual error. Yes, Blackburn’s office did not receive a notice from the Army, but Bohannon’s last legal address (and where he lived for a year before joining the Army) was in Blackburn’s district.

Rush Limbaugh fails to bow at the altar of the American military.

Sep 28, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

Did you hear? American soldiers are saints who cannot be criticized or vilified in any way…

…unless you’re a Republican.

Right after the phony Petraeus outrage over one general being critized for being dishonest with the American people, Limbaugh turns around and actually insults scores of soldiers, calling the 72% of soldiers who have fought in and seen the futility of this war “phony soldiers.”

Is there anybody who can actually believe a word coming from the right nowadays? Sure, there are the chickenshit Dems who cower before the bluster, afraid voters will believe it, but who actually believes it?

I mean besides the 30% of hardcore rightwingers who sit around screaming “We’ve got to fight them over there or else we’ll be fighting them here, you don’t want another 9/11 do you!?!?!?!” They’re fucking nuts, and not too many of them are actual soldiers. Most are just fat lumps of shit like Limbaugh who always have good reasons why they shouldn’t be doing any fighting, but somebody else must. Those soldiers who want the war to end aren’t phony, but a good chunk of the Republican Party are straight-up dishonest scumbags who would have no better response to that charge than to scream and cry over my language. Because they’re scumbags.

-jb

Shmonstitution!

Sep 27, 2007 in Constitution, Politics

On provisions of the Patriot act being unconstitutional, the court says:

“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law _ with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” she wrote.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield’s lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”

Why does this judge hate America?

-jb

Tim Russert, hack.

Sep 27, 2007 in Media, Politics

Somebody thought it would be a great idea to let Tim Russert pull his shtick on all the Democratic candidates at once. It’s been really amazing to me how frequently debate “moderators” have been injecting themselves into the debates. Which further illustrates the increasing misuse of the word “debate” as applied to these dog and pony shows. Anyway, Tim does what Tim does best, throw GOP talking points at Democrats. The Democrats get the famous “ticking time bomb…do we torture?” question, combined with a GOTCHA. All the Democrats disagree with the selective quote and the idea that torture should be legal, and then find out OMIGOD ITZ bIlL CLInT0n!!!

A reader at TPM points out the whole quote:

“Now, the thing that drives—that, that gives the president’s position a little edge is that every one of us can imagine the following scenario: We get lucky, we get the number three guy in al-Qaeda, and we know there’s a big bomb going off in America in three days and we know this guy knows where it is. Don’t we have the right and the responsibility to beat it out of him? But keep in mind, in 99 percent of the interrogations, you don’t know those things.

Now, it happens like even in the military regulations, in a case like that, they do have the power to use extreme force because there is an imminent threat to the United States, and then to live with the consequences. The president—they could set up a law where the president could make a finding or could guarantee a pardon or could guarantee the submission of that sort of thing ex post facto to the intelligence court, just like we do now with wire taps.

So I, I DON’T THINK THAT HARD CASE JUSTIFIES THE SWEEPING AUTHORITY FOR WATERBOARDING AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF that was sought in this legislation. And I think, you know, if that circumstance comes up—we all know what we’d do to keep our country from going through another 9/11 if we could. But to—but to claim in advance the right to do this whenever someone takes a notion to engage in conduct that plainly violates the Geneva Convention, that, I think, is a mistake.”

President Clinton imagined the “ticking time bomb” scenario only to knock it down. It’s called the Socratic method. Russert took the quote out of context to make it look like President Clinton was endorsing torture when he was doing the opposite.
- – -
Russert is a hack
.

As has been long documented. But I’d be willing to let him moderate a GOP debate to see how HAWD-HITTIN’ he is…or whether he might, *gasp*, throw softball questions with no follow-ups!

-jb

Why can’t Democrats stop the war?

Sep 26, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

To put it precisely:

The Democrats in Congress could end the war by refusing to pass any further funding bills for the military. The executive branch could do whatever it wanted with the residual military funding that was still in the pipeline. They could bring the troops home, or desert the troops in the field. It would be Bush’s choice. The problem is that most people (Democrats in Congress included) are convinced that Bush is crazy enough to actually harm the troops, rather than accept personal defeat.

If there is a single person in America who doesn’t believe Bush would let the troops rot and point the finger at Democrats, they’ve certainly failed to speak up. Everybody knows he would, yet everybody knows this would not be the media narrative. President Bush and 40+ Republican zealots in the Senate hold all the responsibility here. 100%. I’m open to theories that might knock a percent or two off that, but I haven’t heard any.

-jb

UPDATE: Republicans still own this war, but there’s a case to be made for trying anyway-

Oh? You say you’ll be accused of “not supporting the troops”? Was your tongue cut out of your mouth? The Dems were elected to be leaders and take the heat, and end the war, not to whine about expected attack ads. Yes, the attacks will come but they’re not kryptonite. You can counter that it’s not exactly “supporting the troops” to fund their being shot and blown up in a pointless civil war whose outcome does not concern us. If you can’t rebut the attacks you don’t belong in politics.

Yes, but there are at least 20+ chickenshit Democrats in the Senate who just melted like candles over the “General Betrayus,” unable to admit the simple fact that Petraeus did indeed, by being loyal to Bush, betray the American people. And those Democrats should face primary challenges. But the Republicans still own this war.

This’ll piss off the people it’s aimed at.

Sep 25, 2007 in Culture, Politics

I’m not responsible for the America spoken of here. Republican Drama Queens wishing they could vote for George W. again and who deal in mock outrage (the Petraeus ad) though…begin yer teeth gnashing!


Rufus Wainwright, “Going to a Town.”

-jb

Gone.

Sep 25, 2007 in Uncategorized

Business trip.  Be back in a few.

-mg

YES!!

Sep 24, 2007 in Energy

The Nuclear* Regulatory Commission has received their first applications to build a civilian reactor in thirty years.

-mg

*pronounced new-que-lar in Texas

Oh, Lordy.

Sep 24, 2007 in Iran, teh gay

Ahmadinejad says that Iran has no homosexuals. None that he knows about, anyway. If he did they’d be hanged.

-mg

Lotsa smokers.

Sep 24, 2007 in Uncategorized

A lot of people smoke:

Though I wouldn’t have guessed it, approximately one out of four men in the US smoke. I smoked cigs a little bit in college but feeling ill a majority of the day never quite appealed to me so I was able to quit without any effort. My appreciation for fine ales remains strong until this day. You only get one pair of lungs. Your liver, on the other hand, is regenerative!

-mg

Don’t look too hard.

Sep 24, 2007 in Economy, Housing Bubble

From today’s Clusterfuck Nation:

It appears that Fed Chairman Bernanke’s interest rate cut was designed mostly to help bail out the big banks, which are in desperate need of cheap loan money to cover the losses that they are suffering from not being able to unload tons of worthless mortgage-backed-securities. Secondarily, the Fed governors might hope that their lowered rates would soften the blow of re-sets on millions of adjustable-rate mortgages — but mortgage rates have de-coupled from Fed rates, so that may just be whistling past the graveyard. The next two months will see a much bigger wave of re-sets than months previous, and the re-setters themselves have to figure in some idea of real inflation if they don’t intend to lose money on those contracts — and whoever these parties are at the re-set end, after years of slicing, dicing, re-bundling and re-selling, they are not liable to be in a charity business of buying houses for people at a loss to themselves in interest rate differentials. So, bottom line again, those poor shlubs who signed “creative” mortgages are going to get re-set upward pretty steeply whatever the Federal Reserve does. The political fallout from folks getting tossed out of repossessed houses is sure to get worse.

With mountains of mortgage resets still on the way there still seems to be an endless supply of Bloomberg, CNBC, and ill-informed blogger pundits calmly assuring us that the worst is over and that we need not pay attention to those predicting any further market mayhem. As if the largest credit run-up in history is going to play out in a cool six months. How they come to the conclusions they do is beyond me.

So, yeah, things aren’t doing that bad – that is – if you don’t look that far. Wheat, corn, oil, soybeans, gold, oil, basically, any commodity that truly matters, are closing at historic highs. Tomorrow, the Conference Board is going to be releasing it’s consumer-confidence index along with some fresh existing-homes sales data. Both of which are forecast to be crummy. Thursday brings second-quarter GDP growth data and figures on new home sales (already revised downward). Finally, the Commerce Department will be releasing reports regarding personal income, spending and saving for August. Despite the fact that all of the above metrics are going to come in looking as shabby as a Chinese motorcycle, Bloomberg is going to have at least one commentator this week that loudly proclaims “we’ve seen the worst!”

-mg

This is how you jump the shark.

Sep 24, 2007 in Culture

From an interview with Zoe Bell, stuntwoman extraordinaire, star of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, and mega-babe:

And I think oftentimes I forget that Quentin is Quentin Tarantino, you know. I was definitely nervous about letting him down. More than just embarrassing myself in front of the masses, which occurred to me a little bit later, I was like, “God, I don’t want to be the person to fuck up a Tarantino movie.” I didn’t want to be anything less than what Tarantino’s standard is and I didn’t know if I had that.

He basically turned to me and was like, “Zoe, I’m Quentin Tarantino. I don’t make bad decisions and you’re my decision, so get over it.” Umm… Fair call. What are you going to do, fight Quentin Tarantino on moviemaking?

That would explain a lot of his recent bad decisions. Tarantino needs somebody to fight with him over his recent attempts at moviemaking. Kill Bill Vol. 1 was cotton candy, Vol. 2 was a pretentious-yet-scant fucking bore, and Death Proof was 30 minutes of movie stretched into 90, and then stretched into 120 for DVD release. The critics are still lapping him up for some reason, but after his career has spiralled downwards they’ll be saying they saw it coming.

BTW, all comparisons to Bush’s bubble and pro-Iraq war hawks pretending to have been critics all along are…completely valid.

-jb

Lawrence Tribe blathers and spouts irrelevancies.

Sep 23, 2007 in Politics

Regarding the ballot initiative to let Republicans get some of California’s electoral votes even if the Democrat wins the state (while no such thing is planned in Texas):

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and one of the nation’s pre-eminent constitutional scholars, believes the initiative is blatantly unconstitutional. “Entirely apart from the politics,” he said, “this clearly violates Article II of the Constitution, which very explicitly requires that the electors for president be selected ‘in such manner as the Legislature’ of the state directs.”

He’s apparently not heard the standard GOP response to accusations of unconstitutionality: “Whatever!” Wake up, Tribe! The Constitution is so 1776. Hello, it’s 2007!

-jb

Bush saves children by denying them health care.

Sep 23, 2007 in Politics

On his veto threat:

“Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point.”

How often do discussions in the mainstream media of George W. Bush begin with, “Today the president, a pathological liar, gave a speech…”? Or, “George W. Bush, who more than any other president has utilized that favorite Nazi propaganda technique, the Big Lie…”? How often does the man have to come out and calculatedly state the precise opposite of the truth in an attempt to cancel it out before every purportedly intelligent American heeds Harry Reid’s words?

Whatever George Bush says, believe the opposite.”

It’s really really strange to me sometimes that Bush claims to believe in God. If I lie, I have only other people and my conscience to judge me, as well as karma to deal with. But this guy believes that one day he’s going to be judged at the pearly gates. If he ain’t kneeling at his bed every night pleading for forgiveness for every rotten untruth he spoke that day, what exactly is his plan for avoiding that eternal lake of fire?

-jb

*sigh*

Sep 22, 2007 in Uncategorized

If Detroit can’t sell you a hybrid sedan then no one will, goddammit!

 A Bush administration official apologized Thursday for a newsletter sent to thousands of government employees that encouraged them to consider fuel-efficient vehicles built by Japanese automakers.  …

The list from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy did not include any vehicles from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler LLC. All the cars were made by Japanese or South Korean automakers.  …

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said department officials “should focus upon their mission of ensuring food and drugs are safe, and providing health care to our children, rather than issuing inaccurate advice that appears to endorse foreign made products.”

The list didn’t include any vehicles from Detroit because they don’t make any hybrid vehicles.

Being at the mercy of unreasonable fools is a situation we’ve all found ourselves in.  I’ve been in the workforce long enough to know that Joe Ellis, the Health and Human Services Department’s assistant secretary did the only thing he could do; endure the stupidity, begrudgingly make the apology, and show up to work the next day like nothing happened.

-mg

Repulicans, meet your candidate.

Sep 22, 2007 in Uncategorized

Republicans can’t wait to vote for this guy:

Vote Dame Edna 2008.

-mg

Baby, you’re on your own with this one.

Sep 22, 2007 in War on Terra

Today:

BOSTON – Troopers arrested an MIT student at gunpoint Friday after she walked into Logan International Airport wearing a computer circuit board and wiring on her sweatshirt. Authorities call it a fake bomb; she called it art.

I’ve not seen a picture, but there was this:

She wore the white circuit board on her chest over a black hooded sweatshirt, Pare said at a news conference. The battery-powered rectangular device had nine flashing lights, and Simpson had Play-Doh in her hands, he said.

Comparisons are made to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force debacle, but that was some serious stupidity on the part of police officers, scared by a frickin’ glowing picture of a Mooninite (I guess their primitive Earth brains couldn’t understand the awesomeness of moon technology). This chick walked into an airport strapped up with circuitry holding Play-doh. She simply had to have known the Play-doh was intended to mimic C4 explosive, there’s no other conceivable reason to have it.

Sugar, you’re a dumbass. You did it to yourself. Just you. You and no one else.

-jb

Petraeus is holy because he serves the right master.

Sep 21, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics

As we know, as soon as Republicans see anybody from the military speaking out against Bush, it’s game on! Via Glenn Greenwald, Jonah Goldberg approvingly posted this letter about Wesley Clark on NRO:

- Generals are ambitious in the same way that wolverines are aggressive. It’s their defining trait. A few years ago, the Army Command and Staff College ask during an informal survey “Would your division’s commanding general throw his own mother under a bus if it would get him promoted?” 60% of the majors and colonels replied “Not only yes, hell yes!” I know that running for President pretty much demands a nauseating degree of ambition but this kind of hyper-careerism can’t be healthy, in my opinion.

- Generals are dull. I don’t mean this in the cant-tell-a-good-joke kind of way. I mean the anti-intellectual, zero-curiousity, hasn’t-read-a-real-book-in-years kind of dull. Wesley Clark obviously had (and still probably has) no freakin’ idea who Michael Moore is or what he stands for. All he knows is that Moore is famous and other Democrats like him. Hell, Clark doesn’t even know anything about CAPPS II, the system he was supposedly advocating as a board member! I could go and on on this theme. Take it from me, most generals are as sharp as a bowling ball and Clark is no exception.

- Generals are arrogant. Generals truly believe that they are completely right 100% of the time and woe to those underlings who demonstrate that this isn’t so. This trait is what makes generals so dangerous. They will ignore sound advice and do the stupidest things imaginable, all because “Well, I’m a general, dammit, I know what I’m doing and. . . ugh, what was the question again?” Generals can be damn near unreasonable when they get their minds made up and it’s almost impossible to get them to see an alternative way of doing things. Scary stuff to see in the flesh. Hopefully I’ll never have to experience the Wes Clark brand of hubris.

- Generals are dishonest. This is a tricky charge to throw out, but it’s the sad truth. I’ve seen more out-and-out lies from general officers than any other people in the military. In a weird way, they are just like professional politicians in this regard. They act like the main character from “Memento”, they can’t remember a @#$% thing they said or wrote older than 15 minutes ago. If it wasn’t so frustrating, it might be funny. Once again, just compare anything Clark says now to anything that came out of his mouth one year ago. Weird, huh?

Petraeus is Bush’s mouthpiece. If Petraeus were not, he’d be fired, and it would be okay to call him disgustingly ambitious, dull, arrogant and dishonest. The replacement would become Bush’s holy angel and thus above criticism.

The “Betray-us” flap only illustrated how desperate Republicans were for something to get self-righteous about, until 22 Democrat Senators caved in and justified their petty stupid noise.

-jb

Bush isn’t qualified to handle Iraq.

Sep 21, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

Well, he was never qualified to be President in the first place, but his weaknesses turn Iraq into Kryptonite for him, Sidney Blumenthal says:

Bush’s unyielding personality would have been best suited to the endless trench warfare of World War I, as a true compatriot of the disastrous British Gen. Douglas Haig. His mind is geared toward a static battlefield. For low-intensity warfare, such as in Iraq, “an authoritarian cast of mind would be a crippling disability,” wrote British expert Norman F. Dixon in his classic work, “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence.” “For such ‘warfare,’ tact, flexibility, imagination and ‘open minds,’ the very antithesis of authoritarian traits, would seem to be necessary if not sufficient.”

There are many words to describe Bush’s shocking ineptitude and his many failures. With Iraq, one damning word floats to the top: useless. He’s a pair of wings on a bicycle. He’s never understood the country he went to war with, and he’s been able to contribute almost nothing worthwhile in four years to the waging of it. When he has an effect, it’s to bungle things even more. His one big idea, the adding of an extra 30,000 troops to turn a drastically undersized army into badly undersized army, has been a flop. There’s an argument that if he can merely keep things at a stalemate for the remainder of his term, it’s better than we could expect to hope from him. Utterly unfit for the job, he’s best consigned to the role of the old whore cheerleading the local dive’s baseball team.

-jb

C –

Sep 20, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

For some unknown reason, Republicans often fancy themselves as being especially gifted in the realm of fiscal wisdom but time and again reality presents us with a completely different picture. Many wingers offering their views in the comments sections of this blog have proven to be strangers to even the most basic economic principles. In fact, our own President, a failed entrepreneur, frequently views himself as being quite the opposite.

Michael Roston, a former University of Iowa alum who now writes for the Huff Post, shows how Republican Numera Uno over-estimates his own abilities:

In a Thursday morning morning press conference at the White House, the President engaged in a little bit of grade inflation about his academic record.

“You need to talk to economists,” he answered when asked if there was a risk of recession in the US economy. “I think I got a B in Econ 101. I got an A however in keeping taxes low, and being fiscally responsible with the people’s money.”

President Bush as an undergraduate at Yale did not in fact receive a grade of B in his economics course. Bush received a grade that would correspond with a C-.

I got a B+ in Econ 101. So I guess that makes me smarter than the President. Nyah!

-mg

Well, that removes all doubt.

Sep 20, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Constitution, National Security, Politics

The GOP simply opposes habeus corpus.

WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly rejected legislation on Wednesday that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.

The 56-43 vote fell four shy of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. It was a blow for human rights groups that say a current ban on habeas corpus petitions could lead to the indefinite detention of individuals wrongfully suspected of terrorism.

President Bush and conservative Republicans counter that the ban, enacted last year, was necessary to stem the tide of legal protests flooding civilian courts.

Of course. Let’s streamline the whole legal system. If we just eliminated all the appeals, lawyers, judges, trials, and hell, even detentions, we could sort problems lickety-split. If you’re accused of terrorism, U.S. citizen or not, instant execution. Sure, it involves a little clean-up time, but only if you use bullets. Just give our law enforcement officials nice little cyanide syringes (ala this episode of Star Trek: TNG) and they can get home in time for supper.

But yes, anyway, the GOP says no on habeus corpus and the Bill of Rights. They’ve made their position painstakingly clear, year after year, so debating where they stand is pointless anymore. The only question for a person to ask themselves is, “Do I also agree with abolishing the 800 yr old cornerstone of our Republic and our liberty?” That should make one’s choices in the voting booth extraordinarily clear.

-jb

The wrong way to throw money at a problem.

Sep 19, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Iraq

Smug talk from the wingers about redrawing the Iraq map into three distinct ethnic enclaves might come to fruition, but not because of any of their designs:

In Baghdad alone, nearly a million people have fled their homes.

Last month saw the sharpest rise so far in the numbers of Iraqis forced to abandon their homes – 71.1%.

The forced migration raises questions about claims from the Bush administration that the civilian protection plan at the core of its war strategy is making Iraq safer for Iraqis.

Instead, data compiled by Red Crescent staff and volunteers in Iraq’s 18 provinces suggests many Iraqis have failed to find real safety or sustainable living conditions after being forced to leave their homes. Some families have been uprooted twice or even three times in search of safety, affordable housing, functioning water and electricity, adequate schools, and jobs.

Is it safe to assume that Iraqi citizens want to live in neighborhoods with at least electricity and running water? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that the billions of tax dollars we’re pumping into KBR and Halliburton remedy these issues?

We have a moral obligation to provide a stable environment in which Iraqi civilians and their families can carry out activities of daily living. Only when regular citizens can call a place home will they have a vested interest in their neighborhoods and therefore a reason to be concerned about local issues like crime and violence. But if the water or lights don’t even turn on, why bother? Because the guy who was responsible for the work is nine time zones away and doesn’t give a shit whether it works or not.

After the invasion, American firms were handed no-bid contracts regardless of the cost or whether or not local companies were willing and able to do the work. Granted, the projects that they volunteered for were far from modest but at this point in time it is obvious that they are unable to complete the task which was their charge. I say take the money we have now and start accepting bids from local Iraqi contractors. At least then the locals will have a sense of ownership and pride in their own works. A sense of ownership will also foster broader of community networks that are established when local vendors, companies and entrepreneurs serve local citizen consumers.

-mg

Sweet!

Sep 19, 2007 in Media

Bless his hybrid car loving heart, Rupert Murdoch might axe the subscription charge for WSJ online.

-mg

What? There’s money to be made in authoritarianism?

Sep 19, 2007 in Corporate shenanigans, Politics

China has 1.3 billion people to monitor and control. That means a lot of sales in surveillance gear. No problem, sez America’s corporations, some of which are China’s, simply incorporated over here. Harold Meyerson examines the implications:

Capitalism is global now; democracy is not. We are moving toward one unified world market that is home to democratic and authoritarian systems alike. The Chinese model of Leninist capitalism poses a systemic challenge to the democratic capitalism that the West espouses. It promises continuing power and greatly increased wealth to the ruling elites of developing nations. Which means that America must disenthrall itself from one of its most cherished myths: that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand, that the spread of markets inevitably means the coming of democracy. That was a key argument that proponents of extending permanent favored trade status to China made during the 1990s. In fact, the creation of the Chinese-American economic entity that followed — in effect, moving our manufacturing belt from the Midwest to Shenzhen — has demonstrated the opposite. Leading American companies such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have acquiesced in Chinese Internet censorship. China’s nonexistent standards of product safety — the direct consequence of its absence of democracy — became our standards, too.

And now, some of Wall Street’s smoothest operators are investing directly in China’s suppression of speech, worship and the right to assemble. It would be nice if the United States developed some regulations or enacted some laws that discouraged our financial institutions from promoting a Leninist mega-state. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) is looking into the matter, but he hasn’t received any encouragement from the White House. Asked about the hedge funds’ activities, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, “It’s not appropriate to interfere in the private decisions of Americans to invest in legally incorporated firms.”

If it comes down to a choice in the Bush White House between capitalism and democracy, or even capitalism and our national interest, the smart money’s on capitalism.

I’ve always believed that the free market does open up avenues for freedom in places it didn’t exist before. Strong consumers have a better chance at becoming strong citizens. Unfortunately, China has forged new ground in transitioning from a bankrupt communist state into a modern and profitable fascist one. The limits of capitalism are now drawn in higher relief, and the lesson is harsh: it can be turned into a vehicle of oppression with dizzying alacrity. Hitler was a pioneer of authoritarianism and corporate profitability; America has watched corporations assume a position of power stronger than or equivalent to the government; China has turned them into its own Stasi.

Where does that put us? On the eve of a world revolution in state/corporate power that will leave nowhere to run? Or on the brink of freedom, seeing the monster in front of us and rejecting it?

-jb

Big government to the rescue! Coke snortin’ edition.

Sep 18, 2007 in Economy, Housing Bubble

I noted here how Bush said that he would offer little salve for the wounds of those bludgeoned by faltering housing markets.  Especially the damage sustained by “speculators”.  Salvation has come not in the form of fool-hardy bailout schemes but a 50 bp Fed rate cut.  Things aren’t as rosy as they may seem, however:

The Fed’s action comes at a cost. It will cement a perception that the Fed cuts rates in response to market crises and so encourage speculation. It also risks the Fed’s credibility as an inflation fighter. In its statement the Fed says that “it will continue to monitor inflation developments carefully”. The Fed had better hope that bond investors and wage negotiators trust it.

One of the greatest dangers is that loose monetary policy undermines the integrity of the dollar. The US trade deficit is financed by foreign investors who are willing to hold US bonds and assets, and if they fear that inflation will destroy their value, they will sell. The 50bp cut turns a dollar rout from very unlikely to just about possible.

Listen to the dunces on NPR and the reaction to the rate cut was “Hey! Hey!  The DJIA went up! That’s good, right?”  Somebody made some quick loot so all is well in the financial world.  Except that it’s not.  Dropping interest rates might give Tom Ashbrook and Wolf Blitzer reason to stroke their chins and marvel at the mystical wonders of the credit rackets but it’s tantamount to fronting a coke-head another eight-ball when he’s already in so much debt.  Sure, he’s high as a kite for a short while but after he crashes and is done licking the residue from the bottom of the bag he’s just that much more in debt and feeling more miserable than ever.

- mg

What’s not to love about Blackwater?

Sep 18, 2007 in Iraq

I know this will come as a huge surprise to some:

“We see the security firms … doing whatever they want in the streets. They (the security firms’ personnel) beat citizens and scorn them,” Baghdad resident Halim Mashkoor told AP Television News. “I ask one question: If such a thing happened in America or Britain, would the American president or American citizens accept it?”

Newspaper headlines touted the move and called for more action.

“Demands escalate to put a limit on the influence of special security companies,” the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman said on its front page.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

Those that insist that things are just fine and dandy in Iraq fail to understand how roving bands of heavily armed private militias might be perceived by the local population, let alone a foreign occupying army. And regardless of our own personal delusions, Iraqis have no doubts as to why we are there and what lengths we will go to maintain that continued presence.

Sooner or later we’re going to get run out of Iraq because ultimately, the decision as to whether or not we stay or go wont be made by fools like Bill Kristol or Hugh Hewitt. It will be made by men like Halim Mashkoor.

-mg

Grasping at straws.

Sep 17, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Election crap

The saintly John McCain comes out against free speech.  He says that MoveOn.org (a website) should be “thrown out of the country”.

I see the minority party is back to doing what they do best; hiding behind the flag and braying treason at the slightest whiff of dissent.

-mg

If chins could kill.

Sep 16, 2007 in Election crap

Bottle of Blog, back from extended holiday with two guns a-blazing, documents with disgust the type of rhetorical skills that make hot, hunky Mitt Romney the right man for the GOP nomination.

While deriding Dems for utilizing sinister “527″ groups, Romney has retained the services of Bob Perry of Houston, Texas, a man who, according to the the Washington Post, “has earned a reputation for his willingness to finance ’527′ groups.”

-mg

Politics Over Principle. Episode 12675

Sep 16, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy, Politics, Uncategorized

Alan Greenspan, in his excessively titled new book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, discusses his views on the Bush Administration’s loopy economic policy:

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan criticized President George W. Bush for following an economic agenda driven by politics instead of sound policy, with little concern for future consequences.

Soon after Bush took office, Greenspan wrote in a new book, it became evident that the Treasury secretary and White House economists would play secondary roles in decisions on taxes and other issues. In addition, officials with whom he had worked in the administration of President Gerald Ford changed after Bush brought them back to Washington, he said he found.

Even the much mythologized Reagan had the common sense to abandon his original tax cuts when faced with ballooning deficit amidst a deepening recession. And despite Republican lore of tax slashing and government entitlement curbing, Reagan ok’d a total of four tax increases between ’82 and ’84. On top of that he bailed out and later greatly expanded Social Security and was also one of the most trade protectionist American Presidents in history.

If you believe, as most Republicans now do, that lowering taxes is always the silver bullet solution for any economic dilemma, then it’s hard to admit that Reagan himself repeatedly did the opposite. So that piece of cherished conservative history must be either scrupulously rewritten or completely ignored.

-mg

Scientific polling vs. agenda-laden denial.

Sep 15, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East, Politics

The latest British study daring to use transparent scientific polling in Iraq finds that over 1 million Iraqis have died due to the Bush/GOP war:

According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million.

ORB said it drew its conclusion from responses to the question about those living under one roof: “How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?”

Based on Iraq’s estimated number of households — 4,050,597 — it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable.

There was no way to verify the number, because the government does not provide a full count of civilian deaths. Neither does the U.S. military.

Both, however, say that independent organizations greatly exaggerate estimates of civilian casualties.

ORB said its poll had a margin of error of 2.4%. According to its findings, nearly one in two households in Baghdad had lost at least one member to war- related violence, and 22% of households nationwide had suffered at least one death. It said 48% of the victims were shot to death and 20% died as a result of car bombs, with other explosions and military bombardments blamed for most of the other fatalities.

The government and military do not provide full counts and do not reveal their methodology. When leaks about their methodology come out, we find out they’re jury-rigging the numbers. And, of course, it’s the Bush administration and its military, neither disinterested. But let’s believe them, because the alternative is accepting the murderous scale of this war.

Most people who reject these numbers will do so automatically. The methodology has nothing to do with it, for most certainly didn’t take statistics or understand objective polling (though, as usual, there will be no shortage of rightwing bloggers putting on their thinking caps and acting like experts, with the usual pathetic results). I’d say it’s a good question to ask how they accounted for the less-violent Kurdish region, but I’d also say wait for an answer first. Chances are such an elementary question might have already been considered, no?

And I’d also say, what if you managed to unearth that the number was only 800,000? Or the 600,000 estimate last year (a 50% margin of error vs. 2.4%, could you really believe that)? That number was certainly too much for pro-war types to handle.

Or, rather, Republicans care little about the numbers, but share the Bush administration and military’s concern for how the numbers look to non-Kool-Aid drinkers. 1.2 million dead? A PR problem, no more.

-jb

Chickenshit Dems can only be blamed for so much.

Sep 14, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, Iraq, Politics

Most Democrats have been disappointed to read stories about overly cautious Democratic politicians who seem to be unaware that there is popular support for opposing George W. Bush’s policies. Bush is an extremely unpopular and disliked president, and the majority of the country is against him on virtually every aspect of the Iraq clusterfuck. Yes, Democrats are not always of one mind, but giving in on anything to Bush at this point is grounds for a primary challenge. Lieberman was famous (and dishonest) enough to override a primary loss, but not many Democrats will feel so secure.

Still, David Kurtz watched Bush’s speech, looked at poll numbers, and calculated what the real score is:

Given the immovable numbers, it’s all the more apparent that the target audience this week has not been voters but congressional Republicans. They are the key to President Bush being able to continue a terribly unpopular war until he leaves office. So long as they stand by him, he can maintain his grip on Iraq policy in the face of longstanding and deep public dissatisfaction.

The Democrats could march in lockstep as firmly as the Republicans to no avail. As long as the Republicans stick together and don’t fear losing office, Bush can keep it up. All they have to do is maintain 40 votes in the Senate, or if they can’t do that, prevent a veto-overriding coalition of 67.

The buck stops at the American voter. Until voters really want, en masse, to get out of Iraq, Bush can keep enacting his ego as foreign policy. And if they can’t sufficiently threaten Republican congressmen with defeat, there’s little for them to do until November 2008.

Bush seemingly assures us the choice in 2008 will be simple: end the war, or four more years of the war. It may not be so. If there is a war with Iran, a Democrat may enter office in the midst of catastrophe. Would Bush rig the game so? He’s already committed to passing on the Iraq problem to the next president, because when George W. Bush fails, somebody else bails him out. He’s lived his whole life that way, why change now? The war will continue for the next year and a half so George W. can pass the buck. It’s impossible to deny.

Yet we cannot just blame him either. Once again, all is made possible by the continuing devotion of the GOP faithful. And I think by the time it’s November 2008, that needs to be clear in the minds of the remaining 60-70% of Americans. The chickenshit Democrat is an obstacle easily overcome. Let’s knock some sense into them or boot them out in the primaries, and Americans will only have one group to blame for Iraq in the voting booth.

-jb

Every dark cloud…

Sep 12, 2007 in Uncategorized

Call me old-fashioned and backwards but I’m from the school of thought that says that if you’re over-weight there’s a damn good chance that it has less to do with genetics and more to do with how often a person finds themselves standing in line at Old Country Buffet. I’d go even further to suggest that those standing in line at said buffet probably didn’t walk to the restaurant. Furthermore, I’d guess that if they did walk the effects of eating all of that garbage might be mitigated to some extent. But, Christ, who the hell wants to walk the three blocks to get there let alone the knee-buckling agony of having to trudge back after you’ve wolfed down a twelve pound Belgian waffle and taco pizza sandwich?

Well, tubby, you better start thinking about these things because high gas prices may make the nightmare of bi-pedal m0bility a terrifying reality:

After consuming mountains of chips, fried meat and baked goods all washed down with corn-sweetened soft drinks, overweight Americans then worry which best-selling diet book will help them see their toes again. It turns out that higher petrol prices can slim down more than the wallets of the overweight.

The ever-rising cost of filling up their cars is prompting millions of Americans to pack their own lunch and walk to the bus.

The statistics are dramatic: they show that when petrol prices have risen in the US, obesity has shown a corresponding fall of as much as 10 per cent according to a new study, A Silver Lining? The Connection between Gas Prices and Obesity.

It’s obvious what this is all about.  This is just more liberal hog-wash from the anti-knee replacement Nazis!

-mg

Eh, who cares?

Sep 12, 2007 in Iraq, Uncategorized

For all of the strident talk about the flowering of freedom and democracy in the once-again fertile lands of Mesopotamia, few seek (or give a shit about) the opinions of actual Iraqis. One would think that a news media as obsessed with polling as ours would at least take ten seconds out of the their day to ask a few working stiffs on the streets of Baghdad what their impressions were.  In their defense I will say that you probably don’t see too many regular Iraqis waiting in line at the Green Zone Starbucks so the opportunities are likely limited.  Once in a while, however, we sometimes get a brief glimpse.

And not that it matters to the Democracy in Iraq:  FUCK YEAH! bloggers but an overwhelming majority of Iraqis feel that the surge has failed them.  What really matters is how the Freepers feel things are going in Iraq.

- mg

Attempt to prove Bush’s intelligence #909234

Sep 12, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics

Robert Draper wrote a biography of Bush in the White House. The final picture wasn’t pretty, and many of Bush’s flaws were on display. This displeases the White House, because it’s not a celebratory gushing over Bush’s majesty. Still, even those who don’t completely sign on as a Bush disciple can fall into the trap of trying to pretend Bush is far smarter than he’s given credit for being. Draper’s lame attempt:

“But beyond the fact that Bush is charming and there’s this incredible loyalty that is cultivated between him and his subordinates, he has a surprising intellect. A guy who reads Cormac McCarthy isn’t a dummy.”

Just like Otto.

Bush is surprisingly intelligent, once you throw out all standards…

-jb

Lamenting the erosion of checks and balances, blah blah blah…

Sep 11, 2007 in Politics

The depth of the Bush/GOP corruption of our government’s objectivity can sometimes only be appreciated by observing the small details. From John Dean:

In the past the White House (whether occupied by Republicans or Democrats) placed tight restrictions on who could contact the Department of Justice regarding pending business. It was typically limited to only the president, the vice president, the White House chief of staff and White House counsel, who were authorized to speak with the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or the top assistant and associate attorneys general. However, in the Bush White House no less than a startling 471 White House aides are authorized to speak with 30 senior Justice Department officials.

That’s a massive change in the structure of the relationship between the White House and the Justice Department, as vile and earth-shaking as the firing of 8 attorneys for political purposes. Yet it’s these subtle details that so rarely grab the front page. They’re just quiet authorizations, silent increases in the power of faceless bureaucrats to overwhelm the system. Bush’s administration has been a master of such movements, undoubtedly enacting the vision of Karl Rove…ever in pursuit of that elusive “permanent Republican majority.”

This is how a coup happens in America. Will we thwart it next time, especially if there are not extensive reversals of all the damage done, and these practices become business-as-usual? Republicans, fear ye not the same deed done by Democrats?

-jb

Those scientists never really know for sure!

Sep 11, 2007 in Environment, Global warming, Science

Ha! They didn’t see this coming!

In just the last six days, researchers say 69,000 square miles of Arctic ice has disappeared, roughly the size of the Sunshine State.

Scientists say the rate of melting in 2007 has been unprecedented, and veteran ice researchers worry the Arctic is on track to be completely ice-free much earlier than previous research and climate models have suggested.

“If you had asked me a few years ago about how fast the Arctic would be ice free in summer, I would have said somewhere between about 2070 and the turn of the century,” said scientist Mark Serreze, polar ice expert at the NSIDC. “My view has changed. I think that an ice-free Arctic as early as 2030 is not unreasonable.”

Ooh, what’s next? 2015? They’re probably making the Arctic out to be larger than it is just so we can’t point our fingers and laugh at their tiny limited man-brains! Ah, but when New York is under water, who’ll be laughing then?

The unreliability of science. Pfft!

-jb

Petraeus’ credibility has been utterly destroyed.

Sep 10, 2007 in Iraq, Politics

I said many months ago that September would bring nothing new. Virtually anybody paying attention who wasn’t one of the mouth-breathing 29% knew the same. The “surge” was a buzzword in the form of a delay tactic. Petraeus was a highly competent man who nevertheless had a familiar choice of sticking to the White House’s story or getting sacked. There could have been no doubt what he would say come time, or at least what WH-doctored piece of toilet paper he’d sign his name to.

Petraeus was never anything more than the best man to dictate the action on the ground. Beyond that, he was pure smoke and mirrors. He couldn’t reverse bad policy. He couldn’t patch together a broken country. All he could do was provide a bulletin board for neocons to pin their wishes to, and for the press to accordingly worship. And as it turns out, doctoring the numbers to exclude vast numbers of murders aside, he could do little to stem the tide of violence in Iraq. The surge did the only thing it could have realistically been expected to do: stall, stall the press, stall Congress (Democrats, that is, most Republicans understand this is a permanent occupation).

Now Petraeus’ pre-ordained message will be expected to prolong the delaying effect of the temporary band-aid-on-a-bleeding-stump “surge” (look forward to a new catchphrase to be thrown to the press if their patience sags). April is the point where the military simply cannot sustain the numbers anymore, so Bush can reasonably expect to keep telling the “wait and see!” story til then. Of course, April will bring nothing new. Then Bush needs a mere 8-9 more months before his term is over. He’s likely to be able to ride it out through sheer belligerence. Petraeus may be worth a few more press conferences because the press will insist on taking him seriously despite the fact that few in the public care what he has to say.

Given the indisputable truth that Petraeus’ words are reliably destined to be whatever the depraved George W. Bush wants them to be, they have no value of their own. It’s unfortunate that he declined to limit his job to the streets of Iraq. He’s chosen to sacrifice his reputation, yet seems unlikely to seek to reclaim it after the fact ala Colin Powell. He is presented with almost no option but to spend the rest of his days looking for approval from the Faux News crowd. It’s plentiful, it’s noisy, and it runs freely as long as one is dutifully loyal to the Great Leader. The right will concoct their alternative truthy histories, and hope to gain territory if Iraq ever becomes a distant memory. Petraeus has signed on to inflicting ever more dishonesty upon Americans.

What a sad fate, for all of us.

-jb

UPDATE: Whoa, Petraeus asks for another full year…again, it means nothing considering Bush clearly wants more. It’s just ballsier than I expected and somewhat difficult to imagine how the Coca Cola Surge could logistically continue past April. It’s hard to see how the Army itself will be able to hold up past then.

Gonzales still notching victories.

Sep 07, 2007 in Politics

Carol Lam threw the book at Republican Duke Cunningham and was ready to take down another Republican, Jerry Lewis. She had also taken down the feared Felix-Arrellano Tijuana drug cartel, but naturally she was targeted for removal in the U.S. Attorney partisan purge. Strangely, in her absence the investigation into Jerry Lewis is losing steam:

The U.S. attorney office in Los Angeles just can’t seem to muster the manpower needed to investigate senior Republican appropriator Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). In fact, it seems that the Justice Department is handicapping itself.

The veteran prosecutor who’d been heading up the Lewis case has been forced into retirement, The Los Angeles Daily Journal reported yesterday (not available online). It knocks the investigation, already stalled, further off course.

What’s up with that?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Emmick, 54, took early retirement in 2004 and has returned under one-year appointments since then.

However, the Justice Department declined to renew Emmick for another year, though he said he wanted to continue work on the case. He will depart at month’s end.

“I was under the impression I could continue to work as long as I liked” after taking early retirement status, Emmick said. “The (Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s) office made requests, but DOJ said three years is enough.”

The Justice Department did not respond to repeated phone calls seeking comment. Efforts to reach Lewis’ spokesman, Jim Specht, on Thursday night were unsuccessful.

Apprently things aren’t going to change until Gonzales is physically removed from the Justice Department. That supposes, however, that he hasn’t done a good job of stocking the place up with loony Pat-Robertson-educated clowns. Whatever the case, the removal of Lam was a major coup for the GOP and continues to pay off.

-jb

Justice Department comes out against Net Neutrality.

Sep 07, 2007 in Politics, The Internets

They assure us there’s nothing to worry about.

Supporters of Internet regulation have said that phone and cable companies could discriminate against certain Web site and services.

However, the agency said it will continue to monitor and enforce any anti-competitive conduct to ensure a competitive broadband marketplace.

Long story short, only a sucker could buy that line. The justice department is going to tell telecom companies they have to carry websites that don’t fit their “values”? It simply won’t happen, and anybody who thinks that corporations wouldn’t want to meddle with the web the same way they’ve meddled with every other avenue of communication is wet behind the ears. George Bush’s administration has a strong chance of coming out and ending Net Neutrality, because standard practice for them is to let corporations write the laws. It’s going to take a lot of people power to fight them, and fortunately right and left have come together to keep Net Neutrality alive. Any blogger or blogreader who doesn’t support it is a damned contemptible fool.

-jb

Arab facade.

Sep 05, 2007 in Iraq

What was I saying about Maliki being our “local Mohammedan“?

“[Maliki's] learning to be a leader. And one of my jobs as the president and his ally is to help him be that leader without being patronizing. At some point in time, if I come to the conclusion that he can’t be the leader—he’s unwilling to lead or he’s deceptive—then we’ll change course. But I haven’t come to that conclusion. As a matter of fact, his recent actions have inspired me.”

I can appreciate Bush’s honesty when it comes to his flip attitude towards pithy concerns like democracy and representative government.  If only the online devoted could be as candid.

-mg

Larry Craig plans to test nation’s attention span.

Sep 05, 2007 in Politics

Some have theorized that David Vitter got a pass from the GOP for his scandalous whore-lovin’ ways because his replacement would be selected by the Democratic governor. Such cold-heartedness…to accuse the GOP of this political calculating, I know. While such a rationale would be entirely ordinary for the GOP, I think there is another conspirator…the speed of the media news cycle, and the flittering attention span of the American public. What else has the Presidency of George W. Bush subsisted on other than the public’s capacity to forget one devastating charge as soon as the next one pops up? Unsurprisingly, other GOP politicians have decided to test their scandals, to see if they sustain beyond one news cycle.

Larry Craig is now wondering if he can outpace the media. He’s reconsidering his resignation announcement (was the announcement itself enough to deflate the murmuring?), and lawyering up to challenge the charges to which he previously pled guilty.

Anybody who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the case has likely heard the audio of Craig’s pathetic “wide stance” defense and the police officer scolding him for lying (the officer has revealed no political affiliation, but GOP hacks don’t care if he’s a Republican, see Patrick Fitzgerald or any judge who doesn’t legislate social conservatism). Anybody who’s really paid attention knows Craig has been up to bathroom antics for quite some time. I’ve said I don’t think he really should have been charged until he deliberately indicated the intent to fuck in the public bathroom, but is he going to take that to the Supreme Court? As the laws are written, Craig got busted the same as 41 other men in the same airport restroom. What’s to challenge?

Good luck finding anything in the article:

“It was a little more cut and dried a few days ago,” Smith (Craig’s spokesman) said. “There weren’t many options. He was basically going to have to step aside. Now, there’s a little more to it.”

There is? What?

“The more people take a look at the situation, there may well be second thoughts,” said (Arlen) Specter, a former prosecutor. If Craig had not pleaded guilty in August to a reduced charge and instead demanded a trial, “I believe he would have been exonerated,” Specter said.

You do? Why?

I know this is a Republican’s word against a cop’s…and that may earn some second-thoughts from the Faux News/Limbaugh crowd, but last I checked that didn’t really hold up very well in court. It seems pretty obvious that Craig knows this too, and that’s why he took the lesser charge in the first place.

Lacking any new information whatsoever, it seems that Craig merely supposes to outlast the news cycle, put on a pretense of fighting the charges (preferably stretching out the case past election day 2008, perhaps?), and trust that the folks in Idaho will re-elect him rather than vote for a Democrat. What else could he be thinking?

Well, besides internally denying his homosexual proclivities so strongly that he’s truly convinced himself he’s innocent, that is…

-jb

UPDATE: Nevermind.

Tough shit. I like to eat fish.

Sep 04, 2007 in Environment

The Brits have discovered that over-fishing curiously results in fishery depletion.  Silly liberals!  Somebody needs to tell them that there’s no such thing as a finite resource.

-mg

Generic Winger Post #782490843

Sep 04, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

Proving quite vividly why the online devoted aren’t doing a damn bit of service for their beloved party, Sister Toldjah “dissects” blogger Mike Rogers. The cutting and incisive analysis? Senator Craig isn’t the hypocrite. Uh uh! Mike Rogers is the hypocrite for expecting Senator Craig’s actions to be consistent with his words.

The post features a couple of the same tired narratives; librulz are hypocrites because they all call blacks against affirmative action “Uncle Toms” and they’re all Nazi’s because they insist on a rigid adherence to a strict ideological. (In such a case, calling them Leninists would be more apt but apparently most conservative bloggers didn’t make it that far in school.) Put forth as proof is a bunch of anecdotal and self-referential evidence meant to provide a smoke-screen for the simple fact that Craig privately engaged in activities he publicly derided.

What’s new here? Nothing. Republican bloggers brains are still stuck in 1997 and remain clueless as to why the Limbaugh Wurlitzer is losing them elections.

- mg

The blazing success of our Cuba policy.

Sep 04, 2007 in Politics

Andrew Sullivan’s absence from blogging is rarely appreciated. The guest bloggers are always very fine and respectable people, who put me to sleep after about two days. I was pleasantly surprised to see Steve Clemons stand up to the plate and hit a grand slam on our nation’s ultra-moronic and sadly wasteful embargo of Cuba.

To me, the embargo on Cuba has become uncontroversial. No serious person can really make the case that we’ve accomplished anything in the past 40+ years. Fidel Castro will die (or already has) a happy and somewhat well-liked dictator, having outlived four U.S. presidents. There is no rational defense of this failed policy. There is only idiotic strutting and preening regarding how “tough” one is towards Communism (while being quite productively friendly towards Vietnam and China).

Naturally, George W. Bush, being attracted to failed policies and idiotic preening like I used to be towards unstable women, decided that what our Cuba policy needed was a little more tough n’stupid. Whether he was hoping Castro would croak during his eight years so he could reap the glory, I dunno. Trying to scrape below Bush’s surface is like looking for pearls inside heads of lettuce.

Unfortunately, it’s not much of a surprise that Hillary takes a virtually identical position. Her endless triangulating is just about as dull and boorish as Bush’s endless quest to compensate for his self-replicating inadequacies. Yes, Hillary, we understand you’re a woman but you’re still “tough.” But time and time again, she takes her cues from one of the worst presidents of all time, treating his frat-boy posturing and lack of foresight as the gold standard for strength.

If Hillary’s endlessly ballyhooed experience was worth a damn, she’d be able to shred Bush’s policies and articulate a policy that is both strong and intelligent towards Cuba, one with hope of improvement. But her triangulating has never been as clever or effective as Bill’s was, and in the end she just ends up looking like another scared Democrat conceding Republican talking points without a fight.

-jb

Jesus H…

Sep 03, 2007 in Uncategorized

I have no doubts that insurance underwriters are driving the recent initiative that dictate that Sikh turbans get searched at the airport and since I work in the industry I can completely sympathize. Underwriters need to identify any and all metrics that make a risk quantifiable and if you look at the situation from that perspective it’s completely understandable. To the knee-jerk novice this situation might reek of bigotry but I’m fairly certain that it’s pure business.

From even the most rudimentary stand-point of safety; take the fuckin’ turban off. That or at least be considerate enough to let security personnel search you in some appropriate fashion.

-mg

Texas truck!

Sep 03, 2007 in Housing Bubble

I have a license to deal insurance in Texas and since it’s easily the biggest state in our region I deal with them almost exclusively. One thing that you must know about Texas; just about every SOB in that state drives at least a Ford F150 XLT or a Chevy Silverado Crew Cab. One percent of them are contractors who would actually need a vehicle like that and an even fewer number have four wheel drive capability, bed-liners, running boards, hitches or any feature one would normally associate with owning a work truck. And if paying your insurance premium on time is a reliable indicator of financial well-being then I guess a lot of Texans can’t afford them, either. Regardless, owning and commuting to work twenty miles one way in a large pickup is as Texan as loving the Alamo and drinking Shiner Bock beer so the thought of being separated from that lifestyle is unimaginable and I’ve frequently wondered what the reaction will be when the price of fueling those beasts makes owning them prohibitive to the middle-classes that most covets them. Jim Kunstler shares my concerns, apparently:

The suburban build-out is over. This will come as an agonizing surprise to many. The failure to make infinite suburbanization the permanent basis for an economy will rock our society for years to come. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men with pick-up trucks and panoplies of power tools will feel horribly cheated. I hope they don’t start an extremist political party when the re-po men come to take their trucks away.

I don’t know who people will blame when their lifestyle obsessions get them into trouble with the re-po men. I’m just glad that I learned my lesson fifteen years ago when I got my first credit card. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like having invested so much of who I was into rapidly depreciating items like cars, lawnmowers or, sadly, overvalued condos or shitty suburban tract housing. Hell, even now after some of my own personal maneuvering I’m not so sure that my own 401k is immune to the current shitstorm since a lot of mortgage-backed security chicanery is off the books. At least I don’t own a Toll Brothers, impossible to heat McMansion thirty miles from my place of business!

-mg

Disclaimer – I drive a Jeep Cherokee Sport with a 3″ lift kit and 30″ Firestone’s so don’t bother hating on me for writing an anti SUV or truck post.

Aint that cute?

Sep 03, 2007 in Uncategorized

Here’s the radiator on my Honda Elite 250 scooter:

I put my DL on top of it for scale. It’s even got it’s own little radiator fan behind it. I thought that a little 250cc four stroke would be easy to work on. Boy was I wrong. At least with my Jeep you can work on most of the components without jewelers tools. But hey, only suckers pay for shop labor, right?

My twin brother and I have always contended that a job isn’t done right and is likely jinxed unless you’ve shed blood during the repair process. Looks like today’s project will be a success:

The culprit? Shredded steel brake lines. And Lord knows when my last tetanus shot was.

-mg

Iowa Liberal’s Labor Day Fundraiser!

Sep 02, 2007 in Uncategorized

Um, lessee, I’d like a Nintendo Wii, a new car, an HDTV (preferably 1080p LCD, please), a theater sound system, and probably some money to spend on my honeypie. Mike needs booze money. If our donations don’t go over $10, I guess I’ll just spend it on booze too. Donate to nitrate21@msn.com via PayPal!

-jb

Window of opportunity.

Sep 01, 2007 in Iowa, Local

Unless Representative Steve King shows up with a bazooka, I will be attending my first gay wedding this Wednesday (but not these two). I’ll have more info after it actually happens.

Besides the occasional job interview, I only wear a suit to weddings and funerals and since I’m more or less a simple guy I’ve got only two suits. One of which I prefer over the other because it’s a custom tailored Paul Stuart that makes me look a lot more respectable than I actually am (and I don’t mind saying that I look quite dashing in it). The other is a suit I bought from Banana Republic and had fitted by the local Korean tailor (Bunsun Alterations of Iowa City). A tie, of course, has always been optional. 2007 has played out in true sitcom fashion for me. Not only have I had three friends die, two friends and my sister have all gotten married so you can imagine my dry cleaning bill! With a stroke of luck I’m hoping to end this year with a score of 4-3, weddings versus funerals, and with a bill at the cleaners well into the three figures mark I’m anxiously awaiting 2008!

-mg