Progressive Programmer

Progressive Politics or idle geek banter. What's on my mind when I'm irked, intrigued, bored or up too late.

Location: Michigan, United States


Ruining Country for Political Cover Fascinating Stuff.

Tim Russert worries me these days. It's ok with me if politics is interesting to him--it must be or he wouldn't have the job he has, which is to act non-partisan while questioning a panel that is heavily tilted to the right, lobbing softballs at Republican guests, berating Democratic Presidential Nominees, and the like.

But this is just silly:
But it’s going to be quite interesting to see how this all plays out with the court. There are some people in the White House that feel, very strongly, they prefer to have a controversial Supreme Court nominee to get the debate in the country back on moral values, cultural values and off of Katrina, Iraq and Tom DeLay.

So, it plays several different ways. It’s going to be fascinating.

To Timmy, it's fascinating to see Bush use a Supreme Court nomination to throw off the scent. As a distraction. As a payoff to the nutty Right. Placing someone in a lifetime appointment isn't a time for deep and thoughtful consideration, it's a time to cover your ass and the giant, stinking, criminal ass of your party leadership.

But to Timmy, this is not a problem. This is cool stuff to be watched with breath fully-baited. This is a time to marvel at the political machinations of the Republican way of governing: Power = Everything. Making government work can be left to the Democrats if and when they win some elections.

Until then, gather power. Usurp what you can. Feed the rich. Fuck the poor. Bend every rule. Take corporate payoffs. Give political paybacks. Bow to lobbyists. Lie to win, win to lie. Cut corporate taxes. Soft money, hard money, get more donations! Lather, rinse, repeat. Nominate the unskilled but loyal. Fire the sensible. Government is not for the people, it is of, by, and for the powerful! All the while, distract, distract, distract. Don't let them stand and stare while you and your cronies take to the cookie jar with a backhoe and a dumptruck. That money is yours, you and your donors deserve it every dime you can get, cuz you earned it!!

Given the lengthy streak of success we have for nominees emanating from this administration, we can expect only the worst. We have no reason whatsoever to expect anything else.

I'm starting to wonder if the Republicans don't have their shoelace wrapped around the accelerator in a giant game of chicken with an oncoming tank. Maybe they think they better squeeze every last dime out of the the American Worker and foreign banks before we all wise up and vote them out so the Democrats can clean up their shit? Maybe they think that the more harm they do, the faster the American people will come around. Maybe they think the more they tip the economic justice system to the wealthy over the poor, the fewer votes they will eventually get. The American people do have to come around eventually, don't they?

I wonder if the Republicans wish they had tied their shoes a little tighter when they mounted this puppy. Because they still have to live here too, even if there isn't a Democrat to swoop in and save the day.

Colin Powell was once quoted (wrongly) as having used the Pottery Barn Rule to describe the consequences associated with an invasion of Iraq, where if we broke it, we bought it. But the Republicans do it gleefully. There rule is more the Sid Vicious rule : Yeah, we broke it. You watched us break it. You voted us back into office to break it some more. Now fuck off.

Loyalty and political cover above all else. Fascinating to Tim, disgusting to me.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Lying lying lemmings

Like their Dear Leader, when something upsets or worries a wingnut, they just take to makin' stuff right the hell up. Funny thing is that they're so wacky, you can tell when it's a wingnut trying to put words in the mouts of a liberal/progressive.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Hunter Kills

I know you hate me, and anyone else who dares disturb the thin strands of alternate reality in which George W. Bush is an intellectual giant, Saddam really was responsible for 9/11, the economy is getting better by the minute, and we capture the most very important members of al Qaeda on a weekly basis.

Sometimes, even a wingnut inspires something in us. Too bad the wingnuts are so damned nutty they inspire brilliant rants that showcase the hypocrisy and lunacy that run so rampant on the right.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Whose line is it anyway?

Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly. We must stop giving the appearance that our foreign policy is formulated by the Unabomber.

Lots of goodies here as well.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Army: Peddling Snuff Pics for Porn is A-OK

AMERICAblog notes that the Army Criminal Investigation Command in Iraq can't determine a few basic facts.

Schmuckountability is spreading from the Administration to our Armed Services like wildfire. It's a top-down, bubbling-over sort of nastiness that only a full pullout seems likely to curtail. The kind of nastiness John Kerry talked about after returning from Viet Nam:

The Country doesn't know it yet, but it's created a monster.

A monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history.

Putting young soldiers and weekend warriors into a war-zone creates enough problems. Actively ignoring treaties and conventions that are the law of our land and our friends and enemies alike exacerbates the problem. But openly killing investigations into something with the evidence neatly collected, including names, photographs, dates, login names (and most-likely IP addresses) is like a chocolate-faced child pointing at a white-gloved friend as the true culprit in the Great Cookie Robbery.

It's insulting. And it's disingenuous.

It is merely the open acknowledgment by the Army's leadership that taking these pictures--don't trouble yourself by going to the site, take my word when I say that these pictures are beyond anything Hollywood has ever, ever put on film-- is ok. That members of the Army taking these pictures of men killed by our country's representatives is ok. That making these pictures publicly available in exchange for access to masturbation materials is just Jim-Dandy with Uncle Sam and the American People themselves.

I support our men and women in combat. I pray for their safety and I wish for their safe and speedy return. But the leadership that fails to reprimand such behavior and quash it immediately is a truly hypocritical lot. Bush speaks of spreading democracy, but our troops spread the ugly horror of war as though it were a coupon. They treat it as sport. They pose with their kills and get to see naked women in return.

Not only that, but there are numerous pictures of female soldiers "spreading" democracy as well. With their names, ranks, units and faces. A clearer argument against women in combat has rarely been put forth. And what of the "conservative" supporters of war? Didn't Bush just this week begin a new War on Porn? Odd that an intersection of the War on Terrorism and the War on Porn would present itself so quickly after the announcment of such a useful initiative.

One must wonder if the keeper of the site would accept pictures of American Dead as payment as well? Or, perhaps it's only our culture that likes to mix charred human remains and an exploded head with its tits and ass.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

DeLay gets an invite from DeCourts

DeLay indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

I'm smiling and dancing and singing and such. Question is: How long until the House can change ethics rules so he can keep his leadership position?

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


$2.50/Gallon=good. $4.00/Gallon=bad.

Leave it to the genuinely incomparable Billmon to dig up another quote from the archives, that, when juxtaposed with a recent quote, is guaranteed to make you ill.

The oil companies have conspired to keep gas prices artificially high by limiting the refinery capacity in our fair land.

The government has worked dilligently to keep the price artificially low, by refusing to tax the stuff at higher rates, and spending many many billions of dollars keeping the region providing it kinda-sorta-maybe on our side so long as we turn our head when they support terrorism and suppress the rights of their people (were the costs passed to us directly through a gasoline tax, rather than indirectly through income and other taxes).

Well, we see where that gets us.

Reduction in refining capacity coupled with artificially low prices have conspired to put us in a real pickle. We hit some massive bumps in the road w/ Katrina & Rita effectively halving the refining capacity of our nation for a month. We have other countries, including Canada and Venezuela promising to help us out. Boost capacity. Pump faster [I swear, this country can talk anyone into pumping faster.]

The artificially low prices masked the real cost of oil, and thus gasoline and jet fuel, meaning we all took it for granted and didn't care how much we used. The result is that we have become the most energy-hungry, horsepower-lovin' sumbitches the world over.

Why make cars more efficient, when oil is cheap again? Hallelujah! Why buy more efficient cars, when oil is still cheap? Sweet Jesus! Why build more refineries, when we're swimming in supply as it is, good Lord! Why let our citizens know how much their oil really costs, when they're having such a sinfully-good time usin' all that stuff? Lord ha'mercy! Why push for cleaner-burning fuels, when they're too expensive to be practical? Praise Allah! Why worry about global-warming, when the weathers fine, and oil is so cheap?

The difference between the Bush stance on energy in 2001, and Bush's most recent paupers plea for conservation from its citizens, is Demand and his two side-bitches, Katrina and Rita. This terrifying trio have caused a ripple. But if Bush is out there preaching conservation, we should look at it as a tsunami.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Peace kicks War's ass

The Anti-War movement in this country now outweighs the Pro-War movement by a ratio of 200 to 1. Yes. I said, "a ratio of 200 to 1".

Ain't statistics fun?

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

If a hundred-thousand people march in the woods...

...and the media isn't there to cover it, did Bush really not illegally invade Iraq?

Uh oh... somebody caught a picture after all.

I know I spent a good 30 mins scouring the internets for a wider shot. ThinkProgress does my dirty work for me.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Honey, where did I leave that 2 Trillion Dollars?

So, Greenspan has loose lips, telling everyone but Bush (who wouldn't listen) that the deficit is out of control.

Meanwhile, back in the States...

So, MSNBC's Tom Curry notes that tax breaks are making it harder for congress to make ends meet in the wake of Iraq & Katrina.

Meanwhile, back in the Jungle...

Note to Greenspan: Don't say that too loudly, China and Japan might be listening, and Bush needs to borrow $400 billion or so next year to kill people in Iraq and pay millionaires and put luxury condos in the 109th ward (renamed to something cooler than that old-world "9th Ward" after all the black folk are priced out of the market and the government-funded Operation Stilts lifts the entire area to 15 feet above Lake Pontchartrain)

And, how is it that Curry can write an entire article about tax breaks making GAO guys drool, without mentioning the $3.7 Trillion in tax cuts Bush holds to as though they were his ticket out of serving in Nam?!?! He even suggests the convenience of taking away the three tax breaks most Americans can actually understand and take advantage of :
Consider this as a thought experiment: if hurricane recovery ends up costing the Treasury $235 billion, all of it could be paid for by Americans giving up just for one year three tax breaks: the tax-free status of employers’ contributions for their workers’ medical insurance premiums, the deductibility of home mortgage interest, and the $1,000-per-child tax credit for each child under age 17.

Now, he's not exactly advocating this step. But why mention it? Why not mention that you could pay for Katrina 3 times over if Bush were contemplating the same laws of physics as the rest of the brain-toting masses? If Bush were willing to agree that the scenery has changed, that he is a pragmatist, and that, unfortunately, not even he and J-dogg can keep the deficit from ballooning out of control absent greater revenue, then maybe the American people would be understanding. Are there really that many supply-siders out there (outside the beltline and Texas) that would revolt? Why would there be after the last 5 years? Certainly there are no supply-siders out there takin' home less than 50k after-taxes. If there are, someone needs to reeducate them.

Bush is at 38% approval as it is. He might as well try to make sense now that he's made such a giant pile of shit. Hell, I bet it might even impress people. I know I'm not holding my breath.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Ye Olde Blogrolle Update

Added Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World today, cuz, you know.

Also latched onto the mouthful "Approaching an Independent Voice and Mind.", which was too long for my sidebar and wound up as "Just B Independent". Some hilarious post titles, regular updates, and I'm returning the favor.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Mediata Americanata and Limbaughanus Hannitidiotus

Beasts thought extinct for the last 4 years are being spotted on a regular basis. I'm speaking, of course, of Mediata Americanata. These once vicious beasts are known to dine most heartily on scandal, but forced experimental mutation prior to the 2000 election caused them to go numb with Biasophobia, allowing a formerly balanced ecosystem to shift wildly from its natural state.

As signs of an all-but-lost species' recovery waft past the White House, the EPA is expected to redact much of its upcoming report on the subject, choosing language more friendly to the political leanings of current leadership. Scientists warn this could allow the Limbaughanus Hannitidiotus to push back against the recovery of the Mediata, once again ensuring our citizenry can maintain its shift-sustaining ignorance of current events, leaving the ecological pendulum dangling dangerously to the right.

Since the Mediata crave meals of blood and scandal more than all else--save their fondness of scavenging for flesh from the carcasses of wounded politicians--the gods worshipped by Limbaughanus Hannitidiotus run the danger of catalyzing their own flock's demise, leaving giant feasts within reach of the resurgent Mediata population's gaping maw.

Just two scandals were enough to mitigate the rise of the Limbaughanus Hannitidiotus--at the expense of the Limbaughanus' chief competitor, the Mooreabolis Algoritia--as the Mediata dined on the scandalous feasts provided by Clenis Arkansata in the late 1990s. But those two scandals pale when compared to the growing list of delicacies offered up by the Limbaughanus' chosen god: Bush, his apostles the Neocons, and their ruthless minions, known commonly as the GOP.

Unfortunately for the Mediata, they suffer from an undesirable trait that makes them virtually incapable of sustaining multiple trains of thought. If the number of scandals grows so large as to offer them a number of desirable meals, they tend to convulse in confusion, curl into a fetal position and drop into a spontaneous hibernation that can last an entire election cycle.

Were the Mediata to find suitable purchase in just one of the major meals available, the Limbaughanus Hannitidiotus may be forced to choose an option anathema to their core belief system. Limbaughanus' only choice would be to sacrifice their love of their own god, Bush, and call his work itself blasphemous. This could spawn an immaculately conceived scandal that would feed the Mediata for years, enabling Limbaughanus to retreat and regroup, establish a new survival strategy, and consider a tentative truce with another competitor, Kosicus Maherius Frankenicia.

Limbaughanus would likely return to sustainable numbers, while Kosicus Maherius populations would rise. Eventually the population ratio would be such that Mediata could no longer feast purely on Limbaughanus scandals, but would also dine on scandals erupting from the Kosicus Maherius species.

Ironic, that to guarantee its long-term survival, the Limbaughanus would need to forgo short-term dominance. Experts don't believe the Limbaughanus to be genetically capable of such forethought. Considering the well-being of their own future generations is an ability the Limbaughanus lost several generations ago. Scientists now expect the Limbaughanus to continue to dominate in the short-term, before their own god hastens their eventual extinction.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Home team no longer at 4 person advantage

Had some family in town for the last week, so posting has been slim.

If you're lucky, you've been reading billmon and The Poor Man this last 10 days or so. If not, do so.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


The Next mAnn Coulter

Um. Wow.

UNC--A school not far from my adopted home state--has a winner of an article on their hands.

I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.

I don’t care if they’re being inconvenienced. I don’t care if it seems as though their rights are being violated.

I care about my life. I care about the lives of my family and friends.

And I care about the lives of the Arabs and Arab Americans I’m privileged to know and study with.

They’re some of the brightest, kindest people I’ve ever met.

That's quite an attention-getter, Jillian. Such contrasting statements.

Racial profiling is a subject that even some staunch liberal voices have gotten behind. But I don't think any of them openly sanctioned rape. Perhaps she's just a little worked up, and will calm down a tad as she continues.

Four years and two days ago, we stood somewhere between apathy and ignorance. Sure, there were heinous acts of terrorism being committed in far-away lands, and sure, there was always the threat that some psychopath might do something.

No, four years and two days ago the Bush Administration stood somewhere between apathy and ignorance (they prefer to stand closer to ignorance, as apathy seems a bit sloth-ish, and sloth is a deadly sin, remember). The Clinton Administration had laid the Bin Laden situation on the table for them in plain english. But chasing Bin Laden wasn't going to spend hundreds of billion dollars on a missile defense system that didn't work, and it wasn't going to get back at Saddam for trying to kill W's daddy. Hell, the morning of 9/11, I assumed it was Bin Laden right away. And all I had was a fucking Newsweek subscription and an affinity for NPR.

After all, we’re the generation of Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber and Columbine. The news was littered with coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nerve gas on Japanese subways and terror in the Balkans.

But those attacks weren’t in the same buildings we toured on our eighth-grade class trips.

They didn’t kill 3,000 of our relatives.

They weren’t in our face.

How are you stupid? Let us count the ways...

Let's start with the fact that not only might an 8th grade class tour the Oklahoma City Federal building, a whole school full of kids toured Columbine High every damned day! Are you just plagiarizing sentences from other works that sound cool, without considering the context laid out in your preceding paragraphs? Cuz I'm sure people will be accused of quoting you out of context, but hell, if they keep the context you're even worse off!

They didn't kill 3000 of our relatives? They weren't in our face? I would think that the aggrieved in Oklahoma and Colorado might take offense at your comment. They might think McVeigh and Harris were in our face, and I should think the total number of dead--to those aggrieved--doesn't matter nearly as much as how the loss of just one can hit home.

So Bushie waged war on ’em. He set out to knock the evil off its axis, and we’re still there, duking it out.

Did you see that? She didn't do it blatantly, but she managed to glom Iraq and Afghanistan into one big lump, along with all of the would-be-terrorists she is encouraging us to actively violate in our airport terminals.

Ugh, the volume at which one must have to yell "IRAQ DID NOT ATTACK US" must be equivalent 12 on the Spinal Tap scale. She didn't do it blatantly, but Bush has it so ingrained in the minds of his supporters, they are no longer capable of separating what is happening in Iraq from what happened in Afghanistan.

And for good reason. You can debate a lot of things about post-9/11 foreign policy, but one thing you can’t debate is that taking out terrorists — or blatant human-rights violators — is a good thing.

You also can’t debate that of the 19 hijackers on those planes, all 19 were Arab.

And you can’t debate that while most Arabs are not terrorists, sadly, most terrorists are indeed Arab.

Given this combination, I want some kind of security.

No, Jillian, YOU can't debate that taking out terrorists is a good thing. The sane among us can debate it so long as Bush mixes the bombing of suspected terrorists with the bombing of innocents. So long as Bush intentionally misleads us into wars in countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, we can debate what Bush calls a mission to defeat the terrorists (which he called a war to disarm Saddam before he called a mission to defeat the terrorists--in no way is this to be construed as a flip-flop or any such nonsense).

It is the next two sentences that are the only two in your piece that make sense. It is those two sentences that connect your sick commentary to a legitimate discussion of the merits and mis-steps that come from racial profiling. Had your piece been more descriptive and less argumentative on these two points, you might have gotten away with it.

We all want security. The sane among us just choose to debate whether guaranteeing that security requires the killing of innocent civilians--in countries that didn't attack us--for reasons that are deliberately muddied by the very leaders claiming our security requires it.

Done in a professional, conscientious manner, racial profiling is more likely to get the bad guys than accosting my 12-year-old pipsqueak of a brother on his way to summer camp.

When asked if she had a boyfriend, Ann Coulter once said that any time she had a need for physical intimacy, she would simply walk through an airport’s security checkpoint.

I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else.

What part of stripping someone naked and searching his or her cavities coincides with a professional and conscientious approach to anything? What part of being searched like that could be mistaken for being "sexed up"? Perhaps in your perverted mind, or in your dormroom, that sort of thing is all fun 'n' stuff, but everywhere else in reality it's pretty frickin' nasty.

The mAnn Coulter reference is a sick namedrop. Like a John Waters movie, intended to shock for the sake of shock. Unfortunately, the sentence you picked is apt for your topic, and just as is your take on the topic, fucked up.

And Arab students at UNC don’t seem to think that’s such a bad idea.

“(Racial profiling) really doesn’t bother me,” said Sherief Khaki, a first-generation Egyptian-American and representative of the UNC-CH Arabic Club.

“So a couple of hours are wasted. Big deal.”

Said Muhammad Salameh, a junior biology major: “I can accept it, even if I don’t like it. I don’t want to die.”

Professor Nasser Isleem, a man for whom I have complete and utter respect after merely two weeks of sitting in his Arabic 101 class, said, “Let them search.”

“It depends on how I’m stopped, but if it is done in a professional manner … ”

Then he nodded.

“There were Muslims in those buildings, too.”

Something tells me it's not just everyone quoting your article that is wrapping a little contextual liberties around a quotation or two. Oops, I was right. That's pretty twisted. But hey, if you're that good at taking things wildly out of context to further your worldview, I'm sure the RNC has a slot ready-made for you.

Some people say that racial profiling will make terrorism a self-fulfilling prophecy, or that it’s somehow unfair to designate certain individuals as being more likely to commit an act of terror than another.

They’re wrong.

If 19 blond-haired, blue-eyed, Caucasian Jews had plowed into the World Trade Center with two jumbo jets, I would demand to be interrogated every time I browsed

After each interrogation, I would offer the official a cup of joe, then heartedly thank him for his efforts. And I would not be any more inclined to blow up innocent civilians as a result of it.

This is like a rich person wondering why a poor one doesn't pull themself out of the gutter, claiming that if they were poor, they would do something about it. It's self-aggrandizing and condescending to say that you would be a better person in a shitty situation when you know full well you could never be in that situation. It's insulting. It's pandering to your base and I'm about sick of people pandering to their beloved base to the detriment of everyone else, i.e. the majority.

Neither would Sherief Khaki. Or Muhammad Salameh. Or Nasser Isleem.

Nearly every Arab American I’ve spoken with has done nothing but condemn the evil that was done just four years ago, and at least tacitly recognize that some profiling is necessary.

I have enough confidence in my country’s imperfect but steadfast law enforcement systems to carry out such profiling the way it should be done: in a professional and thorough manner, without going down the slippery slope of pointless and disrespectful encroachment on the livelihood or decorum of everyday Arabs and Arab Americans.

Methinks you failed to mention that whole "sexed up", Arab anal grab-bag meme when you paraphrased these bright, kind individuals. Oh, yeah, you did do that.

And while you have confidence in your country's "imperfect and steadfast law enforcement systems" to professionally and thoroughly sodomize your fellow citizens, you're disregarding some of that whole Declaration of Independence thingy, and maybe a bit of that one U.S. Constitution thingamabob. The Declaration lists a number of things that used to piss them off and made them want to part ways with the Monarchy, and the 4th amendment of the Constitution happens to deal with unlawful searches, I seem to recall.

"Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety", was what Ben Franklin had to say. But like most Bush supporters, you likely prefer "God helps them that help themselves", which Franklin also said. After all, that's the deified comment that rings true to everyone that subscribes to the GOP Mindset, though it goes against Jesus' teachings and was never in the Bible.

But that's what you're willing to do here, Jillian. Except the essential liberties you're sacrificing are those of someone else. Unless you improve the way you substantiate the argument you're putting forth without pandering to the sickest of our citizenry, you really will have a place out there as the next mAnn Coulter.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

How do you spell "Bad For America"?

There are a few appropriate alternatives:

Unfortunately, combining the two in both houses of congress and the executive branch results in an orgie of stupidity on so many levels it will be studied, diaried, diagrammed and denounced for centuries, assuming the country can survive the economic and environmental disaster these morons seem determined to leave as their legacy.

I bring you : "The Cruel Tutelage of bonddad". I would say, "bonddad is the shizzle", but I'm not good at pulling off phrases ending in "izzle". So I'll just say, "bonddad is da bomb." It's just unfortunate he has to expend so much energy writing about how economically stupid our current leadership really is.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Wee Wee Gate?

Pee Pee-Gate?

I don't know what to call it, but I'm laughing.

Apparently a lot of other countries think this is more than a joke.

I suppose I can't blame them. If it was a question of protocol, then perhaps Condie is the one to ask. But in the wake of the slow response to Katrina, and Bush's absolute refusal to listen to the pleas of other nations at the UN, maybe the other countries have been pleading to the wrong people? Maybe Bush really, truly, just doesn't know what to do next, when to do it, or what is going on in the world outside that bubble.

Considering Bush's insistence on John Bolton as our representative at the UN, and the fierce resistance to that nomination before, during, and after the nomination process (which resulted in Bush circumventing the process and naming him as a recess appointment), I should think other members of the UN have more than a right to ask, "Who is running the USA, anyway? Does Bush even comprehend what the Bolton nomination means?".

LeakGate? (this one's taken by Rove)

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Bush is Sowwee, needs to go Pee Pee

On Tuesday, Bush squirmed and squinted and pursed his lips through a statement where he accepted responsibility for the Federal Government's snail like response to Katrina.

The result of all those dead people that might have been saved is poll numbers Clinton never even had nightmares about.

Perhaps if Condie Rice could have been there to give him permission to do something about Katrina, this all wouldn't have been such a giant, deadly mess.

Bush isn't just in a Bubble, he's trapped in some sort of mother/son fantasy camp where he's the most powerful kid in the world and he has to say "Mother, May I?" before he takes any action. Unfortunately, when Bush's playtime mother and his 3 uncles Rove, Cheney and Rummy aren't nearby, people die.

And, as if Bush's lopsided economic actions weren't enough, Katrina's economic toll is starting to be tallied. Good thing Bush stepped in to allow Halliburton to undercut prevailing wages... wouldn't want that company goin' broke, not w/ Dick Cheney's retirement at stake.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Commander-in-Hissy Fits

As I am reading Howard Fineman this morning, I'm struck by the phrase:

Katrina's winds have unspun the spin of the Bush machine, particularly the crucial idea that he is a commanding commander in chief.

Hmm. Commanding?

He can't utter a sentence without mispronouncing a word, doubling back, or stammering. He sits in a chair, reading, when we are attacked. He leaps out of his chair like a frightened boy or purses his lips and grinds his teeth in annoyance during debates. He goes around the country from city to city insisting that rows of his carefully-selected audience be forced to sit behind him as a metaphorical backdrop of support, whether they actually support it matters not. His own staff doesn't like to give him bad news for fear of him having a cow right then and there! W. isn't commanding, he's just the arguably-elected Commander-in-Chief.

I wish the Press would stop telling us what people's perceptions are of W. He's popular? He's commanding? Please.

But, this is Fineman, so he gets a jab against the Democrats--and a pro-Hillary-nomination comment--to close the piece. I'm still struggling to meet Democrats that are actually pro-Hillary. I think Republicans want her to be the nominee because they will beat her silly in the general, so perhaps Fineman is carrying their water here, as usual.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Mike Brown Renounces own schmuckountability

Embattled and sucky FEMA director Michael Brown has stepped down, disappointing noone. No word on whether his FEMA experience will assist him in reestablishing his career as a horse lawyer.

Meanwhile, the President muddies the murky water about what he knew and when he knew it:
No, what I was referring to is this. When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, whew. There was a sense of relaxation, and that's what I was referring to. And I, myself, thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people, probably over the airways, say, the bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to.

People said, whew. I heard this on NPR, and think it was more of a "sshew". But either way, Super-Prez was relaxed. He calmed down. And probably, somewhere in this country on some radio station in the sky, probably someone said the bullet has been dodged, though if anyone in your administration had picked up a paper--and had the guts to tell you what they saw--you might have felt otherwise.

Then, Bush tried to rebuild the levees around his cloak of schmuckountability:
And I know there's been a lot of second-guessing. I can assure you I'm not interested in that. What I'm interested in is solving problems. And there will be time to take a step back and to take a sober look at what went right and what didn't go right. There's a lot of information floating around that will be analyzed in an objective way, and that's important. And it's important for the people of this country to understand that all of us want to learn lessons. If there were to be a biological attack of some kind, we've got to make sure we understand the lessons learned to be able to deal with catastrophe

Did he just admit that he's drinking again? I guess not. He was speaking figuratively, I think. But why bring up the biological attack? Have to drop that terra' word in this quote somewhere, I guess.
It is preposterous to claim that the engagement in Iraq meant there wasn't enough troops here, just pure and simple.

No, Mr. President, it's preposterous to claim that asking the question is preposterous. When 57% (80 thousand) of our troops in Iraq are National Guard members that signed up--like Super-Prez before he shirked his responsibility and practiced his alcoholism--to guard the country and help in just such situations, how can he say that 80 thousand of the Guard fighting and dying in Iraq has nothing to do with their stateside readiness?

My guess is that it's because he doesn't even know how many are over there.

Why would I say he wouldn't know? Because, you have scared your own advisors into drawing straws to see who has to deliver bad news. The grown ups keep that knowledge to themselves for fear of Super-Prez pitching a hissy in the oval.

Super-Prez also repeated some of his robo-speak lines:
The troop levels in Iraq will be decided by commanders on the ground. One, we're going to -- our mission is to defeat the terrorists, is to win

Really, can somebody tell me when our mission became simply to defeat the terrorists? I forget. I thought we were trying to win hearts and, I mean find WMD... er, I mean unseat Saddam... er, I mean establish a democracy in the heart of the... er, fuckitigiveup.

But hey, there's a bright side to all this. Michael Brown is the first known Republican to renounce his own schmuckountability, and hold himself accountable for FEMA's fuckups. Congrats, Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job.

Could you help Super-Prez find some similar wisdom? Please?

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

How many?

How many photo-ops does it take to get to the center of a battered New Orleans? Owl says, "For Sir Sleeps-a-lot Bush, many. Many many many."

He must not have a speech on Iraq to give tomorrow.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


The destruction of New Orleans : You will read this

And you will be frightened : From Amanda at Pandagon

I was, anyway.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Newsweek - 'How Bush Blew It'

Evan Thomas, writing for Newsweek, has a lengthy article now available via MSNBC that goes into the story behind Bush, Blanco, Nagin, and what the hell took so long to get people help after Katrina moved through.

It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States
The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

Well, no wonder Bush never changes course. No wonder he doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. Not only will he not read the papers, he won't stand for anyone delivering him bad news. Even senior aides don't like to have to do it.

The story chronicles the timeline.

Nagin gets his wits scared out of him by a weather forecast on Saturday, and orders a city-wide evacuation.

By Monday, they begin to think that Katrina has somehow spared them the worst, until they realize the levees have given way and that Lake Pontchartrain is rolling in. The first FEMA rep seen that day tries to contact Washington, and is reduced to repeating, "You don't understand" into one of the few working phones.

8pm Monday has Governor Blanco talking to Bush:
At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

8pm on Monday. But, of course, Bush had important things to tend to:
There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

And there you have it. When it came down to realizing the gravity of the situation. When he was told by the Governor herself that, "We need everything you've got". When it came to making a choice or giving an order that could hurry the cogs in the giant federal machine to begin preventing needless deaths, George W. Bush, super-president to many conservatives, savior of the judiciary, liberator of Iraq, rubble-stander in chief after 9/11, when it came time to save people on the Gulf Coast by doing something only he had the authority to do... he went to bed.

This delay, and all of the delays that followed it, would prove costly. Indeed to some, fatal.

This might have been fine had Bush's fondness of cronyism not led him to populate the top ranks of FEMA with inexperienced campaign workers and slow-witted Horse Association Lawyers.
Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat. (Now a consultant, Allbaugh was down on the Gulf Coast last week looking for contracts for his private clients.) Allbaugh replaced himself with his college buddy Mike Brown, whose last private-sector job (omitted from his official resume) had been supervising horse-show judges for the International Arabian Horse Association. After praising Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of job"), Bush last week removed him from honchoing the Katrina relief operation. He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands. (emphasis mine)

So one Bush crony quit when his position was no longer cabinet-level. As he quit, crony #1 gives his job to crony #2, who doesn't know jack about running an emergency, fluffs his resume, and omits legitimate portions of his resume because they are hopelessly underwhelming. Then crony #1 swoops back in from lobbying and contracts in Iraq to try and get some of the pork that is going to start flying all around the Gulf Coast.

Isn't that special. I'm sure they all consider themselves schmuckountable for every bit of it, but maybe, juuuuuust maybe, there is a combination of Republican and Democratic lawmakers with enough of a spine to stand up and do something about it. Because when cronyism kills, you have to start pointing fingers at the guy who's guilty of the cronyism.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Schmuckountability - Deficit Spending


Bush, and republican Presidents in general (during my lifetime) are very fond of spending other people's money, especially when it tends to end up lining the pockets of their friends. Borrowing to grow their pet-portions of government while complaining of government's costly girth. Cutting taxes while increasing spending, and claiming that putting money in the pockets of the rich will eventually put money in the pockets of the poor. Nonsense, of course. Widening the gap between poor and rich seems to be the mantra of their collective conservative subconscious.

And for this, I declare Bush Jr, Bush Sr, and Ronald Reagan fully schmuckountable.

They always have an excuse today, of course. And they know that they won't be in office when the hell finally comes to get paid. What's more, they likely suspect that when a Democrat comes to power (disregarding the nonsense of a Permanent Majority they sometimes eschew) that they, the great GUP (Grown-Ups-Party), will somehow be able to blame the other side of the aisle for causing the budgetary disaster. That, as usual, it will be a democrat left to pick up the piggy bank and sit there for hours with a nearly empty tube of crazy glue, sniffing the fumes of the last few viable, putrid methods for restoring our country's fiscal sanity.

And for this, I declare Bush Jr, Bush Sr, and Ronald Reagan fully schmuckountable for this eventual hell.

In the wake of Katrina, giant numbers continue to be bandied about. $11 billion. Nay, $52 billion. Nonsense, $200 billion. Alas and alac (the 2 lost Baldwin Brothers) $300 billion!! That's equal to about 3/4 of the GDP of Australia.

That isn't an expensive natural disaster. It's a bottomless feeding trough for government contractors and bureaucrats drooling over McMansions and stepping-stone jobs they can use to catapault into even cushier gigs as lobbyists in the giant, feeding-trough-in-the-sky of Washington D.C. And for this reason, you can expect every Bush-lovin' Republican Senator and Congressman to chorus in the same refrain... raising taxes now would be a disaster for the economy.

"Huh?", you say.

"I thought you said this was going to cost $300 billion?", you gasp. "We're $500 billion in the red for '05 already, shouldn't we stop the bleeding???"

"As a fraction of GDP, the deficit is not very large, historically speaking", will be the general form of their response. Which may be true. But that's not the reason the Republicans are all schmuckountable. They're schmuckountable because of the National Debt. The National Debt is the sum total of all of our deficits and our surpluses, lumped into a giant pile of IOUs to our own citizens, folks in other countries, and other nations.

That's running about 27k per citizen right now. I know that I don't have 27k lying around and I sure as hell know my wife and two kids don't either. But Republicans don't see this as an issue. Bush brags about cutting the deficit in half in five years but glosses over the tricky accounting and divergent assumptions he used to make the claim.

So if the Republicans are all schmuckountable on the National Debt, who the hell is actually going to be held accountable?

You. Me. Everyone. Our children and grandchildren. Some Democrat that manages to get the keys to the White House or lead a retaking of one of the houses and realizes that prudence and common sense mean raising taxes is the only option.

Raise taxes? Republicans will decry it as the death knell of the US Economy (like they did when Clinton raised taxes--which was followed by the amazing economic expansion Bush was given as a starting point). And it is at that point they will be on the downslope of the schmuckountability path, where they point out that the blame-game is the digging up of old wounds, and that dealing with the problems we have of the present are more important than pointing fingers for problems birthed years before.

Bush and his friends don't make mistakes. They don't admit failure. And they don't raise taxes. And for these three reasons, they help to guarantee they will remain schmuckountable on our deficit spending until the Party of the Grown Ups takes back our government.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Bush cronyism still flying high

Iago, from Aladdin (he was the bird) said Oh there's a big surprise. I think I'm gonna have a heart attack and die...from that surprise. Look at this, look at this, I'm so ticked off that I'm MOLTING

Ya, that sums it up.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Bush inspires new word - Schmuckountability!

Now is not the time for the blame game. We keep hearing those words from Republicans of every stripe with regards to Katrina's aftermath.

I argued several days ago, that Brown and Chertoff should be fired now, rather than later. Prior to that, Rep Brad Miller D-NC had predicted exactly the tactic the Republicans would take. Maybe I missed the memo, but Miller's taking note of this approach finally made me realize it was what we had been seeing all along.

Preach personal responsibility, but do not practice it. Follow the Republican mindset of "I got mine you shoulda got yours", which itself is an ode to personal responsibility. But when that responsibility involves admitting an error or taking blame, push it off until tomorrow. Procrastinate. Delay.

And then, at some phantom moment in time, flip the logic to letting sleeping dogs lie. Let bygones be bygones. Let's not dig up those old topics, we've got enough problems today. Only for that phantom moment do you actually allow someone to question you.

Which brings me to my new, Bush-inspired word.

  1. Liable to being called to account but refusing to accept the responsibility until one is ready; answerable, but unwilling to answer until convenient
  2. That can be explained were it not the responsibility of a schmuck: an inexplicably unaccountable hypocritical state

schmuc-kount-a-bil-i-ty or schmuc-kount-a-ble-ness n.
schmuc-kount-a-bly adv.

n : responsibility to someone or for some activity, without ever allowing for evaluation, or determination, of successfully meeting said responsibility, or into reasons behind a failure to meet said responsibility

Bush feels he is accountable to no one.

We know better. He's schmuckountable. He's partially schmuckountable for 9/11. He's schmuckountable for Iraq. He's schmuckountable for our job-less recovery. He's schmuckountable for the massive debts he's building up for your grandchildren to pay for. And he's sure as hell schmuckountable for the Katrina aftermath.

All of these topics are important. Katrina is the latest, and may be the deadliest in the end, but do not forget the others. We can't let the administration push their accountability down the road forever. They've been schmuckountable long enough.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Ye Olde Blogrolle addition

I like the logo : THE LIBERAL AVENGER.

Actually, I read several things over there, including this (awww, the keyboard commandos and the YellowElephants get to wear fake dog tags cuz they're chickenhawks to the last) and this (ya, a crescent. Those bastards?), but after reading this post I just had to make the add.

Just doin' my part to help infuriate whatever pair of "rightwing blogosphere nutjobs" might be interested in such things.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

'ism's, in my opinion, are not good

I did have a test today. That wasn't bullshit. It was on European Socialism. After all, I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists and it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car. Not that I condone fascism, or any 'ism' for that matter. 'ism's, in my opinion, are not good. - Ferris Bueller

Ferris has a point. If we're not one of the people practicing a certain philosophy, then why should we care? But, when that philosophy rises to power and attempts to remake society in its image, much to the detriment of all of those not practicing the philosophy, even impugning and demeaning those that refuse to, we must care.

George W. Bush has several 'ism' problems.

This is the one we all agree on. Terrorism is a serious threat to the safety of our nation and our way of life. But not only because we could all be killed by someone that infiltrates our borders to do us harm, or strikes us while we are abroad. Also because terrorism can be used as a rallying cry by our leaders, and as a distraction from their less-obvious policies.

Bush uses terrorism as a hammer. He uses it as a blunt excuse to ram policy down our throat. He used it to push us into an unnecessary war for phantom reasons that continue to evolve. He invokes its name--and related phrases like "9/11" and "national security"--as though he gets points for doing so.

But he does get points. In some ways, terrorism got Bush reelected. Bush/Cheney was able to turn terrorism into a single-issue vote-getter. Tell the voter that a vote for the other guy will mean that a terrorist will kill them. You'll be surprised how many votes you can pull in. No matter that you didn't push through a single policy that actually helps the Americans you are trying to scare.

Bush has recently come out for the cause of "Intelligent Design". This is the most recent mask put on the theory of Creationism. The theory states that life exhibits complexity that is so vast, certain types of organic formations preclude the possibility of evolution, and therefore lend themselves as evidence of "design".

It is as though they went to Calculus II and realized that Calculus II was so difficult for them to comprehend, that, surely, an invisible being of incredible intelligence must have invented it.

True. Two dead guys. Newton and Leibnitz. Both are currently invisible but were quite intelligent.

I believe in God. Most humans believe in a god of some form. But the problem with creationism is not that it hints at a God (without actually mentioning the Judeo-Christian version by name). It is that it ignores science. It disregards thousands of studies and thousands of scientists and lays its own unprovable theory atop their work. It dares science to prove a negative. Its "respected" proponents number in the single digits.

Bush coming out to say that he thinks both the ID theory and Evolution should be taught together, as though they are both "theories"--on equal planes of plausibility--is bad for science. To make this point, one can investigate the Invisible Pink Unicorn or the Pastafarians of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism for reasoning on the foolishness of such an assertion.

Bush and his ilk already avoid or ignore vast areas of science. Economic theory. Global warming. The affects of arsenic and mercury. Even sociology is a foreign textbook to his Administration. Imposing faith in the face of science insults us all, whether we share the faith or not.

I think this has always been there, but the aftermath of hurricane Katrina has brought it back to the forefront of our national discourse. I wrote:
New Orleans, as much as any city, represents distinctly American Culture. A melting-pot of language, music and revelry unlike any other. But it is desperately poor. Over 50% of the children in the state live below the poverty level. But no matter. Mostly black folk down there. They shouldn't have lived there in the first place. They should have gotten out while they had the chance. It's their own fault.

Many Republicans have stated crassly that those that "chose to ignore" mandatory evacuations as Katrina approached were themselves to blame for their plight. This is a one-two punch of racism and elitism. None of them can fathom the concept of not being able to gas up and leave town at the drop of a hat. They don't understand that people can't, won't, or even FEAR to leave their own homes. But this Katrina victim-blaming is such a perfect example of racism mingling with the Republican "I got mine you shoulda got yours" mindset its almost painful to think about.

Bush's brother Jeb, in Florida, helped purge thousands of felons, mostly-black, from the voter rolls in his state leading up to the 2000 election. The problem was that the list was so erroneous that thousands of innocent people, and thousands more that had their rights reinstated prior to moving to Florida (and thus had the right to vote without question) were also purged. The purge was allowed to stand even after Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush were made aware of these errors.

Had these black voters been allowed to cast their ballots... well, suffice to say that differences would abound, but we are where we are.

I would wager one guess, though. That Al Gore would have been willing to meet with the NAACP both before AND after he was elected. Not Georgie. He has to be just racist enough to get elected, and just considerate enough to appoint minorities to high posts in his cabinet. But those appointments have more to do with another 'ism' than they have to do with refuting this one.

"Some call you the elite. I call you my base", Bush once said. White tie around his neck. Polished silver on tablecloths. Raised dining platform. He was speaking to a room of similarly-dressed men and finely-dressed women. How right he is.

Bush's brand of economics favors the wealthy and then leaves the Republican mindset to the rest. After all, if rich people got rich, why can't everyone else? I got mine you shoulda got yours.

For Bush, he was born into it. He didn't do a damned thing his entire life except abandon the National Guard, run off to college and fail upwards. It never mattered to him whether he did well or not. He didn't need to. Daddy, and Daddy's friends, would bail his ass out. And they did.

But Bush's policies don't make it easier for everyone else to get rich, they make it impossible for the wealthy to ever stop being rich. Repealling the pejorative 'death tax'" is not going to help ease the poverty in New Orleans or anywhere else. But to Bush that doesn't matter. His priorities are what they are.

Once you're rich, Bush will give you a hand. Until then, I got mine you shoulda got yours.

Many have been pointing to the World Bank, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Ambassador to Iraq, and others in the Bush Administration as evidence of cronyism gone haywire. But not until Arabian Horse Lawyer Michael Brown was forced to step back from his duties (but not resign) as head of FEMA 10 days into the tragically-bungled Katrina aftermath did Bush seem to flinch to any criticism.

But, Bush doesn't understand a world where cronyism is a detriment. He has never been on the losing end of a cronyism transaction. Because of his elite upbringing, the only cronyism he ever encountered benefited him. He never lost a job to a lesser-qualified candidate. He was the lesser-qualified candidate.

This is a problem for the rest of us, as many of us have been screaming, because cronyism favors the less-favorable. It favors the unqualified. The familiar over the capable.

Did Condoleezza Rice deserve to be Secretary of State after her lies and half-truths? Why is Alberto Gonzalez our attorney fucking general, when he penned the arguments for torturous tactics and called binding treaties quaint? Does Rumsfeld deserve to stay after deliberately slimming the army or getting bogged down in Iraq (not to mention agreeing to the torture strategy blessed by Gonzalez!)?

Bush likes to have his friends all around him. The more loyal the better. If you are loyal to Bush, you can not be fired. Only those that betray him are dismissed or even admonished. No matter whether you are responsible for thousands of lost lives or you hump his mother's leg, so long as you keep your mouth shut about all the no-good Bush is up to (and how incapable Bush himself really is) you will be fine, and you will be promoted. Bush has always failed upwards, and he's just passing along the mojo.

It is this 'ism' I fear most. This is the 'ism' that I think Bush dreams of. Being elected is "hard work" for Bush. It is a nuisance. He looks down on the voters, and frankly can't relate to them. It would be a lot easier for him to be in a dictatorship, so long as he's the dictator. Isn't that sweet.

fascism: A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

Let's see here. Centralization of authority: check. Under a dictator: still wishing. Stringent socioeconomic controls: check and check and check and check. Suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship: check, check and, super-recently, check. Belligerent nationalism: check check. Racism: check.

Not all 'ism's are bad. Prisms are nice. Organisms are good. I'm fond of Liberalism. But Bush's 'ism's are harming America. Not just in terms of policy, but in rhetoric. Those that ardently support Bush are forgetting much of what I still believe America stands for. And those that follow him blindly are pushing away from America. Pushing towards the scariest 'ism' of all.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Short, powerful flash animation on Katrina response

Visit kos diarist Lestatdelc's diary on the topic, or go directly to the page from which it was borne.

Like I said, short and powerful.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


George W. Bush's Katrina Thought-Process Flowchart

As I look back on that last 10 days, I continue to wonder, "What the hell was W. thinking?"

I give you my thoughts on that matter. Available in both jpg and png for your viewing disgust.

[Update 1 - Click the image for a larger view. Once that opens, (in IE) hover your mouse over the image and wait until an X hovers in the lower-right of the image. Click this X and the image will be shown full-size. Or, just rt-click, save locally, and zoom away]

[Update 2 - A hearty welcome to those coming in from The Poor Man Institute. Kossacks can also comment in the diary where I cross-posted the flowcharts]



Visit the ThinkProgress timeline for more evidence of the stomach churning ineptitude.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Fire them now

Waiting until tomorrow to look inward at an organization while lives are at stake today is irresponsible and reprehensible.

When someone is running a coffee shop on a Saturday and they're doing a poor job, the line might stretch out the door and result in some lost customers, missed orders, people don't get to work on time. You'll look back and assess what went wrong so that next saturday you can do a better job, but it doesn't make any sense to replace the manager at 2pm Saturday. I can buy that.

Now imagine your coffee shop is Homeland Security and your Saturday is the weeks-long effort to rescue stranded people from Katrina's aftermath before they die of starvation and dehydration.

When someone is running the Department of Homeland Security and they're doing a poor job, people don't just end up getting to work late or get a triple-foam instead of Colombian instead of a cafe mocha.

People die.

You can't wait to look back in a week or a month. If people are fucking up and the result is people dying, you don't wait to replace them, you do it right the hell now.

Waiting and looking back and realizing the errors that were made will only point out the errors that were preventable had you acted more-quickly to replace the incompetents in your midst.

Bloggers are realizing this, and some in the media seem to be as well.

It's high-time Bush realized this. It's high-time Republicans called for the heads of Brown and Chertoff both. Replace them with talent and experience instead of croneyism and campaign conribution payback positions.

Failing to do so will undoubtedly cost the lives of more than it already has.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


No, I do not obsess over Olbermann...

Though he keeps popping up in these pages. This is because he seems to be one of the few faces on TV that refuse to let people put Party over Country and get away with it.

Note how he eviscerates the Administration re: Katrina aftermath. And they deserve every word.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Labor Day - GOP celebrates by stomping on it

Labor Day was not intended for this.

It was intended to appease labor. It was intended to help get Grover Cleveland reelected (it failed). But over time, it was looked at as a reminder, that just as we thank our veterans on Memorial Day, without labor this country could not be.

Bill Frist might disagree.

Bill Frist worked the system this year to pass a bankruptcy bill (joined by some aisle-crossers well-deserving of rebuke) that wiped out some of the gains labor had made over the last century. Frist and his minions would that you be sentenced to pay for the rest of your life in the event of catastrophic injury that forces bankruptcy. No matter that 50% of bankruptcies result from medical bills. You got sick. You can't pay. And now, you can't declare bankruptcy to be absolved of that debt. Too bad. Get a 2nd job.

Nevermind that one of the reasons we have these laws was the abolition of debtor's prisons. Frist wanted the prisons back without the electricity bill. And the Credit Companies don't want anyone to escape, especially the high-risk people they continue to push offers to.

And now Frist, with deplorable timing that makes one ill at the thought, wants to repeal the "Death Tax". Which is not a death tax at all. It's an Estate Tax that helps ensure the likes of Paris Hilton don't get to inherit the world without giving the feds a couple bucks. What's wrong with that?

Nevermind that it will have the awquard side-effect of gutting charitable organizations at a time when they're doing extraordinary good.

I often argue that The Federal Government is a giant insurance company--It protects you from invasion, guarantees your loans, helps you when you're out-of-work, picks you up during the aftermath of a *cough*natural disaster*cough*--, and the more material things you have, and the easier you have it, the more you should have to pay. Seems fair. The nicer car you drive, the more the insurance company charges you for that insurance. I think we can all agree Ms. Hilton could spare a few dollars of her inheritance.

7 years since a raise in the minimum wage. 5 years of raises for Congress. Nice how that works.

Rick Santorum put an amendment into a minimum wage bill this year that would modify overtime pay requirements--Rather than everything over 40 hours/wk deserving overtime pay, he thought it made more sense if everything over 80 hours for a 2 wk period deserved overtime. Can you imagine the 69 hour work wks being dished out? An employer could simultaneously avoid both overtime and health benefits. A WalMart dream. Now this guy wants your vote for President. Gee thanks, Buddy.

Bush, and the rest of his inept administration, have chosen to celebrate labor by ignoring sizable numbers of the workforce as it teetered near death on the gulf coast this past week. There were WWII memorials and fundraisers. Guitar picking and cake-eating. Shoe sales and broadway plays. There was press conference after press conference assuring everything that could be done was being done. Cheney finally shuffled back into the office late this week.

See, Bush doesn't "get" labor. How could he? He's been failing upwards since birth. No one that takes 5 week working vacations "gets" labor. No one that breaks Ronald Reagan's vacation record for 8 years... in under 5... "gets" labor.

Bush's tax cuts, just as Al Gore harped in 2000, overwhelmingly favored the rich. Bush has successfully steadied our economy after 9/11, but he has done so in slow motion and with no beneficial effect on labor. Unemployment is down, but workforce participation is down as well. bonddad at DailyKos has documented this more than once. Fewer people even consider themselves part of the work force. The economy has grown, but real wages have actually gone down.

CEO salaries, on the other hand, are shattering previous records of CEO/worker salary ratios. Up from 301-to-1 in 2001, they are now 431-to-1. I know CEOs can make or break a company, but so can labor. Is a CEO really *worth* 431 employees? But under Bush you see which one makes out.

Trickle Down economics. Supply-side economics. Bush still believes in this nonsense, even though Reagan--yes the "great" Ronald Reagan--even buckled and levied some taxes. But not W. Never. Not in a million years. Send money to the red cross, because the Feds sure as shit aren't paying for this hurricane relief crap. They might throw up a levee or repair a road, but no way in hell are they gonna ask someone to help shoulder the burden of a bunch a poor folks with nowhere to do the three "S"s.

Labor, to Bush, is a grunt. Labor is the type of person you send to Iraq without ever meeting them. Labor carries the bag on the course. Labor is the person whose death-notice you sign before jaunting back to Crawford for a few days. Labor is those guys in that helicopter crash in Baghdad. Labor is those guys the Secret Service spirits out of the way as you approach. Labor, frankly, is no one he understands.

On Labor Day today, as you're relaxing in your la-z boy or out for the last jaunt around the lake or, let's face it... working, you should think about your job. You should think about Bush's job. And you should think about whether he really cares about what you think. Because he already knows what he thinks about you. So does the entire GOP. Not much.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Chertoff Bush's New Top Liar?

Look, you can't trust a word any of these guys say.

Izzy at Booman Tribune points out the levee breaking back on Monday, and worsening over the course of the day.

They studied this scenario. They were warned of this scenario. They cut funding for this scenario. The scenario came. And they all stayed on vacation.

Now, they want to blame the locals. Now, they want to claim they didn't know the scenario was even possible. They did know. And they all stayed on vacation.

The Republican Noise Machine will be chock full of two things this week.

First, you will hear endless criticism of everyone NOT in the Bush Administration, especially the inner-circle. No one Bush hires has ever failed.

Second, you will hear stall-tactics anytime someone raises immediate accountability, as in, "These guys have fucked up so bad so far shouldn't they just be replaced right away?" This question is valid, and only asked usefully right away. But if it is asked, they will pull exactly what Chertoff did on MTP this morning, they will say that now is not the time to ask questions, now is the time to worry about the disaster and get some work done.

As I posted previously, Brad Miller, D-NC nailed this completely. And Chertoff either took his advice or took his orders from Rove.

Bush is an incompetent President, if for no other reason (though there are many, many other reasons) than that he hires incompetents. He promotes incompetents. The greater the incompetence, the greater the promotion. Chertoff and his Department of Homeland Antiterrorism Drills That Ignore FEMA's Original Charter Completely Despite Being Warned Against Doing So are a currently-blazing example that has resulted in loss of life.

Tragic beyond words.

Looks like they don't even know who is in charge over there. Which goes a long way toward explaining their colossal failure.

Criminal negligence.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


A Moment of Accountability

Rep Brad Miller, D-NC, deserves the credit for putting these thoughts into my head.

Here they are.

And Chertoff was just on Meet the Press playing this exact strategy to a tee. For now, say nothing. Eventually, claim it's opening old wounds and counterproductive.


The President of Jefferson Parrish in New Orleans just relayed a terrifying story of one of his emergency workers. The worker had a relative in a Nursing Home. She was able to get to the phone, and each day she would call and beg, "Are ya comin' to get me today?" He told her they were comin' on Tuesday. He told her they were comin' on Wednesday. He told her they were comin' on Thursday. He told her they were comin' on Friday. She drowned Friday night.

I'll post the transcript link if I get it.

[Update] Atrios has a partial transcript

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


GOP Priorities are Anti-American

The GOP has priorities I cannot understand.

W. stayed on vacation a few days after Katrina hit. What's a few more days out of five weeks, anyways? Couldn't hurt. As I've stated, just some black folk down there.

Bill Frist is looking to vote on repealling the estate tax on Tuesday. Congress is back in town, Katrina has distracted us all, and taxation is the only thief that can affect the super rich. Besides, the super rich are being forced to give their money to charity in order to avoid paying taxes. Best to take from those damned charities before they are able to do any good, that might make the Republican core beliefs seem anti-American.

Condolezza Rice, who, by the way, represents our nation to other heads of state in the absence of W., went to see "Spamalot" on Broadway. She also purchased several thousand dollars worth of shoes. Meanwhile, some of her fellow African Americans waded through feces-riddled, undrinkable water and died in the lawn chairs they toted to the New Orleans Convention Center.

Michael Chertoff, the head of the Homeland Security Department, has held many a press-conference, but appears to have pooch punted his duties to the local authorities. Unless they ask for help, why should Homeland Security be concerned? No word on whether electricity and the phones are back up in New Orleans, but until Michael Chertoff hears first-hand word from whoever is in charge in New Orleans, he will continue pushing his book, "How to be a Fucking Jackass, and other ways to Succeed in George Bush's Cabinet".

Dick Cheney is still on vacation.

Rehnquist is dead, though. My guess is Bush will take fewer than 4 days to respond to this.

One dead white SCJ will always be worth more to W. than 10 thousand dead black folk in a Red State. It's his chance to implant on the court his bastardized views of the world. He'll find someone that agrees with him on abortion, privacy, state's rights (especially when one can ignore state's rights in order to annoint a Bush as president), and faith-based initiatives. This person will be under 50 years of age so that he/she can ride the court, unaccountably, for decades.

These views of course have nothing to do with helping people. They have everything to do with "Jesus Saves" and "No Taxes" and "Terr'rists = Bad". They have everything to do with politicizing the supposedly-neutral court system. They have everything to do with settling disputes that can not be legislated. They have everything to do with overturning long-standing court-decisions that affect the lives of millions of Americans.

Helping people is not a motive of any Bush follower. Helping their own pocketbook is often a motive. Bankrupting the Federal Government to starve social programs is sometimes a motive. Hell, bringing on the fucking rapture is a motive of some of these people. But helping people that need help is not of their concern.

Displacing dictators in foreign countries, and then claiming it was to help the people of that country that needed help... that's good. Because it is a good reason to blow shit up and shake our big, collective American dick at those ferr'ners. But it doesn't actually help Americans.

9/11 killed 2,985 people. Katrina may have killed more than that.

But there is no one to demonize for Katrina. Katrina is a vapor. Katrina is a word used to anthropomorphise a giant wrecking ball shaped by mother nature. You can't bomb mother nature for revenge. But you sure as shit can bomb the wrong guy for revenge. Hell, you can even get reelected on it.

And that's their priority. Find someone to demonize, and it makes you look better.

Democrats want to tax you to pay for all of this war shit we're doing? Those FUCKERS! Those DEMONS! How dare they??!?!

Terrorists are in our midst! They're masquerading as Americans that read books that say bad things about W.! Those FUCKERS!

New Orleans needs help and is complaining that they haven't received it? We never got a phone call (from a place with no phones)! Those FUCKERS!

Democrats are the ones that are taxing you when you die! We have to repeal the Death Tax right away! People are dying in New Orleans and we could help them instead? Those FUCKERs! Don't they know we have rich people that might have to give to charity instead of sitting on their mountains of wealth?

Demonize us all, and what are they left to lead? Demonize us all, and what does it say about their leadership?

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

Rehnquist has passed

William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, has died.

Would that we could all pass with out children present. One hopes he is at peace.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


A New Orleans Convention Experience

In mid-April or so of this year, my manager came into my office and announced that the software conference we had requested permission to attend had been approved. This came as a big surprise. Funding for such things is uncommon in my department, so we hadn't expected approval in the least. But more surprising was that the convention was in three days.

In New Orleans.

I had never been to New Orleans before. A co-worker that also attended had been there, but never on business. My wife was 8 months pregnant at the time, so the word coming at the 11th hour felt like nothing if not inconvenient.

Originally, I felt it a strategic imperative that members of our team attend. But when confronted with the word that I had no choice, and under the home-life circumstances that I was, I looked at it with a bit of dread. Travel. Leaving my wife and young daughter. Last-minute arrangements. Too busy at work to avoid the inherent guilt of leaving for several days.

Reluctantly, but with some anticipation of a few days to learn some things about the software I work with and perhaps get a shot at blowing off some steam--steam pent up from the shutin lifestyle that being a husband of a very pregnant woman can bring on--I packed my things and boarded the plane for New Orleans International Airport.

The convention was excellent. I don't frequent such events, but I must say this one made me want to. Our hotel was nice. The software company had assistance at every turn for directions to the convention site, the other hotels where rooms were booked, Riverwalk, the Aquarium, you name it. Shortly after we checked in, my co-worker and I grabbed a bite and a beer a few doors down from our hotel on Canal Street, as we prepared to meet our other 2 co-workers to head to the convention site to look things over and get a feel for what the next few days might bring.

Riding to the site is an eerie feeling. The software company had procured private busses to run the attendees back and forth. The trip from the hotel was roundabout, but took you from the pseudo-niceties of Canal Street, with the polished trolley system and the occasional refined hotels, the Voodoo Marts and the bars, through side streets of seemingly empty buildings. Past abandoned dreams of former business owners. Under a giant overpass perhaps 50 feet up. And then it comes into view.

In the distance you can see apartment complexes. The well-to-dos. In another direction, what looked like an abandoned factory across a canal? A river? And then was the Convention Center.

The Convention Center was huge. Enormous. The footage on television these last few days does not put it into scope. It took nearly 90 seconds to drive past it at city bus speeds. Hall after hall. Door after door. Window after window. It whizzes by as a blur when you drive away, but as you approach it from one end, it seems reasonable. Stepping inside you realize your mind may have fooled you.

Towering ceilings of 40-60 feet. 3 escalators. A hallway as far as you can see. 3 floors of meeting rooms, auditoriums, and the most massive halls I have ever been inside. The convention had taken over the entire end of the complex. It felt like I had made the big time, lucky enough to attend such an event. The kickoff had a local band of drummers and dancers in full costume garb march from far down the hall to welcome us, New Orleans style. The men drummed and the women gyrated. Feathers flew from their headdresses.

For several days we played in New Orleans. Days were spent in the Convention Center, attending conference meetings and dining in the massive halls. Evening mixers with open bars and hors d' ouevres. Dining out with the vendor.

Nights were spent on Bourbon Street. At vendor-sponsored events and just sitting in one of the many, many, many bars. We met a female bartender that bummed cigarettes and told us all about the bar's past life as a hip hop club. We met a "worker" in a liquor store that sold $1 drafts and "three-way beads" the size of canteloupes. He was a staunch conservative that had stayed off the grid for years, gravelly voiced and walking with a limp and cane, firmly convinced that the Federal government could do more harm than good, and openly obsessed with his Nintendo 64. He was a Nintendo Man, he said, his voice worn by cigarettes and alcohol. The door to his apartment, across Bourbon street, was visible from his worn out stool

We stayed in that liquor store for over an hour. The owners made great conversation. Knew everyone. Let us use their restroom (an adventure). We talked primarily about politics and the role of government. We spoke about George Bush. We discussed, with complete civility, the pros and cons of our President. But my coarse-throated friend would have none of my opinions. He was eloquent but vague. Educated, but clearly without great means. I found it hard to leave, despite the late hour, because good debates with random people in faroff places about topics that interest me are rare in life. But we left. We thanked them up and down for the cheap beer and the great conversation, and out we went.

No doubt, others have come away from Bourbon Street similarly affected by the unique hospitality available nowhere else.

The Convention Center footage on television is disturbing. I catch glimpses of landmarks I recognize, having spent but a few days there, and feel helpless. I see the mothers and fathers with young children, and remember myself there. What if I had been there with my family? What if we couldn't have gotten out?

Did our friend with the stool and the Nintendo64 make his way there? Would he have been able to try? Did he change his mind about the federal government? Or cement his original opinion forever?

That Convention Center, the one that struck me with awe for several days... now seeing it again would strike me mute. Dread. They will clean it up, but the odorless smell of fear and death may never leave that place.

I would willingly and happily return to New Orleans and Bourbon Street, but I will never go back to that Convention Center. And I will always wonder what happened to our friend with the cheap beer, the limp, and that one-of-a-kind voice.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

The Mayor of New Orleans lashes out...

When asked what could be done, Mayor Nagin had a lot to say, including"I don't wanna see anyone do any more goddamn press conferences".

President Bush was not made aware of this. Bush followed up his cake-eating romp earlier this week with his ill-informed comments through Wednesday and Thursday, and then moved on to several combination press-conference/photo-ops in the affected areas.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention


Olbermann, Limbaugh, Sharpton and the GOP Mindset

Keith Olbermann just had an extraordinary exchange between himself and Al Sharpton.

The subject was the conditions in New Orleans, looting, and the question of where support is.

Olbermann remarked that he had heard Rush Limbaugh earlier today saying that those that were still in New Orleans deserved what they had gotten, as they had chosen to live there. Olbermann went so far as to call him, "that Limbaugh". Denouncing the inherent inconsiderate nature of such a statement.

But Sharpton made the point that struck me.

The Right, as embodied by Limbaugh, Frist, Bush, Hastert, DeLay. They would move heaven and earth to save the life of one White Woman in Florida to combat the very idea of euthanasia (which technically it was not). A woman that a decade earlier had lost her ability to so much as ask for help, much less have coherent thoughts about the quality of her own life.

And they would sit on their ass and watch as tens of thousands of poor men, women, children, babies, and elderly bake in the New Orleans heat surrounded by water, sewage, gasoline and an abandoned city, now devoid of anyone with the means to have escaped ahead of the storm.

This is the culture of life. The culture of life wants to save brain dead white women and unborn children. The culture of life wants you to watch endless non-news about the disappearance of one white teenager in Aruba. The culture of life wants you to support your nation as it kills tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians in its Quixotic quest against a non-threat. The culture of life wants a zero-tolerance for looters policy to sound authoritative as babies die of dehydration. The culture of life expects you to take care of yourself, and if you can't, then it is your own fault for getting into that situation in the first place. Fuck off. You had your shot. Station in life, where you hang your hat, and whether you have the $40 at the end of the month to pay for the overpriced gasoline to get out of that home in time is all up to you.

Always I have argued with Republican friends--the reasonable ones--that not everyone was dealt the same cards on their original Birth Day. Not everyone has been given the same gifts by God, friends, family, or luck. Always those Republican friends believe that they deserve where they have gotten in life, and that no one, including the government, should be asking for their hard-earned cash to help the less affluent. It is always the fault of the lesser-affluent themselves. Circumstances are irrelevant in all cases and constitute class warfare if the question is raised.


But that's their thing. That's how they see the world. They earned everything they got. Their parents might have given them a nudge, but nothing more. Get a fucking clue.

Bush came away from his mega vacation one day early...Wednesday. Hastert doesn't know why we should rebuild. Condie Rice went to the show on Broadway.

All of these people support the Culter of Life. But none seem to support American Culture. New Orleans, as much as any city, represents distinctly American Culture. A melting-pot of language, music and revelry unlike any other. But it is desperately poor. Over 50% of the children in the state live below the poverty level. But no matter. Mostly black folk down there. They shouldn't have lived there in the first place. They should have gotten out while they had the chance. It's their own fault.

Michael Chertoff was interviewed on NPR this afternoon. He was asked if he had heard of thousands of people at the Convention Center in New Orleans, without water or food or sanitation. Elderly dying. Little girls being raped. Mr. Chertoff was eloquent in his cluelessness. Completely unaware of what had been on the television all day long on both MSNBC and CNN. Unaware that he, at the top of the agency charged with bringing relief to the affected areas, had not been informed of something every American with a remote already knew. That the situation there was desperate. That people needed help. And that noone seemed to be providing it. The man in charge was not in charge at all, folks. It took the Bush Administration 4 years since 9/11... 4 years of chasing ghosts and old demons in Iraq to not do a fucking thing about stateside preparedness. To gut the national guard's responsiveness by sending so many of them overseas. To cut funding for the levee system that allowed Lake Ponchartrain to roll into the city. To put someone in charge of Homeland Security and FEMA that is eloquent, but so impossibly incompetent that he is incapable of establishing a staff capable of letting him know the worst of a situation so large.

Mr. Chertoff said, that he had not heard of such things. That you couldn't believe every rumor from the streets of the area. That he wasn't in a position to argue about what the NPR Reporters had witnessed.

Get the people to our staging areas, he stated, and they can get water there.

Thanks, asshole.

I almost cried last night. A little girl was with her grandfather, their late model sedan stalled in hip deep water. She was standing on what I think was the highway divider next to the car. Soaked. Crying. Her grandfather, dismayed and dazed behind her. Both of them looked at the car, but it was the begging of the young girl that got me. She couldn't have been more than 2 years older than my daughter. And there she was, in the middle of a lake that wasn't there the day before, in the middle of a city that had been destroyed, begging and pleading for the people filming her, and those they were with, to help them. They just needed a push. To higher ground.

And there she stayed, as the vehicle the camera rode in pulled away.

I'm not liberal, I'm just paying attention

[Update Friday, 10:30 EST] Welcome to those coming from kos and, also, I just noticed, from BuzzFlash.

Some of the comments on the DailyKos diary where I cross-posted this entry are well worth the read.

Support the affected however you can.