Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bankruptcy . . . again

While Matt gets tedious sometimes, I still read him every day.

Mok notes that red states have far higher bankruptcy rates than do blue ones and adduces this as evidence that the GOP is once again screwing its constituents over. That's true, but I think it misses the larger point. The red states have higher bankruptcy rates because they elect Republicans who pass creditor-friendly laws at the state level. The more creditor-friendly the laws become, the more incentive lenders have to offer loans to bad credit risks. The more loans made to bad credit risks, the higher the bankruptcy rate gets.

[. . .]

This elaborates on what I was saying the other day.

Conspiracy theories

Everybody's on about Blondie's post about a 9/11 conspiracy.

[. . .]

Well I don't know what happened but I am inclined to not believe a word of the official story because it's just ridiculous and insults my intelligence. Found this article today and I think you should read it if you are interested in 9/11 . . .

Let's just say that while the article illustrates some great investigative work through the public domain, I don't buy it. Let me say, in qualification, that I was an assistant to the maintenance supervisor for 2 years in a B-52 squadron and another year at DFW International Airport.

The article is thought-provoking, but the backup is thin, especially the:

In fact, if one looks very closely at the diameter versus width of the tire that was found at the Pentagon, this is the type of tire used for carrier based and general rear wheels of smaller military planes . . .

Examining scale in pictures is notoriously inaccurate. Examining destroyed jet engine parts via photgraphs is also inaccurate. I saw the jerky video frames of the aircraft striking the Pentagon and there is no doubt (the distinctive 'Boeing nose'), from my experienced eye, that it was a commercial aircraft of Boeing manufacture. Sorry, guys. Admirable research work, but no dice that it was a military aircraft. If it bore any resemblance to a military aircraft it would be the KC-135, the military version of the Boeing 707.

Now, if you want to go into who was behind enabling the terrorists to accomplish their goals, I'll get into a debate, but this argument holds no water. I'd like Bush to swing as much as anyone and if there is legitimate evidence that would implicate the administration in the 9/11 attacks, I would love see it in the light of day. But going at it from this angle is probably a waste of time.

And just another technical note: The A-3 and 737 were not the only aircraft fitted with the JT8(x) series engines.

Also: if it were a military aircraft or missile, where did the civilians go who were supposedly on the commercial jet? They are still missing.

Saturday Cattle Dog Blogging

Another pic of the Princess when she was about 6 months old.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dealing with the Devil

Or the Axis of Evil, as it were:

WASHINGTON Mar 11, 2005 — The Bush administration will support European diplomatic efforts to end Iran's purported nuclear weapons ambitions by offering modest economic incentives to the Tehran regime. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

So, after the Iranians gave Bush the finger, it's all right to offer them incentives. Why, just last week we were contemplating 'surgical strikes' on their nuke facilities. What happened to that, huh, Chimpy? Sniff . . . sniff . . . is that the stench of hypocrisy I smell?

Full faith and credit

Next time you hear some trained Bush monkey echo Bush talking points and claim that the Social Security trustfund is stocked with nothing but a bunch of worthless “IOU’s,” pull out a $20 bill like this one:

[. . .]

So, in essence, what the Bush monkeys and Bush himself are saying is that you just can’t count on the “full faith and credit of the United States.”

[. . .]
- Hesiod at The American Street.

You have to read this.


Blondie has a good one (her link's fucked up so I gave you the main page. scroll down). 32 rules for being a good Republican:

1. You have to believe that the nation's 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but that today's gas prices, the fifteen year high in unemployment, the unprecedented federal deficits (largest in history), the increasing inflation, lack of jobs, increased poverty, increased insurance costs, and all the deaths in Iraq are all Bill Clinton's fault.

[. . .]

The Bright Side of the Proposed Bankruptcy Law


SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Prosecutors seeking access to Michael Jackson’s financial records told the judge in his child molestation trial Friday that the singer may be “on the precipice of bankruptcy.”

Any of you want to attend a huge yard sale and estate liquidation at the Neverland Ranch? After all, there's NO excuse for anyone to file for bankruptcy anymore, especially for the high and mighty who have all those lovely trinkets to sell!

If it wasn't for mis-information, wouldn't be no information at all...

For a smokin' good take on Bush's campaign of lyin' like a rug, go read The Progress Report.
With White House privatization plans seemingly locked in a tailspin, conservatives are winding up their mighty howitzer of misinformation with one goal in mind: confusing Americans about the fundamental choices regarding retirement security. Some of their claims are so outlandish that a rebuttal seems unnecessary – take the new study blaming Social Security for hastening the decline of marriage, or President Bush's claim yesterday that private accounts would "provide a safety net for future retirees." Others have the potential to seriously mislead Americans about the president's plans. Below are five seriously specious claims to watch out for:

You got a mouse. Use it.

The gospel of the rich and powerful

Joe Conason nails "compassionate conservatives" and "good christians" to the cross wall over their continuing assault on our way of life such as bankruptcy laws, Social Security, health care, minimum wage, freedom of speech, little things like that.
Watching the behavior of Republican politicians during the past several days, we are learning the true meaning of "compassionate conservatism." Not the public-relations version promoted by George W. Bush and his party propaganda apparatus, but the core philosophy enunciated by the deep thinkers of the religious right.

Appalling as these policies may be, however, they are in no sense inconsistent with the cosmology of the religious right, which melds laissez-faire economics with fundamentalist orthodoxy. Underlying these conservative attacks on the poor by professing Christians is a worldview that dates back to earlier centuries, when the church defended privilege and declared that the wealthy and powerful were God's elect. From that perspective, minimum wages, subsidized health care, and other such laws and regulations only corrupt the poor, who must earn charity by their temporal and spiritual submission.

If these ideas sound a bit old-fashioned -- or even primitive -- be assured that they represent the latest thinking on the evangelical far right, which is where "compassionate conservatism" originated. Guided by the most literal interpretation of Old Testament law, the preachers who have influenced the President are determined to undermine every modern protection enjoyed by poor and working-class Americans. Let's hope they draw the line at bringing back public whippings and debt slavery.

Thanks, Joe. I prefer to enjoy my hair shirt and whipping in private.

'Bama Brush-Off

Two minor good news posts in a row! Is the world as I know it coming to an end? Well, hardly, but our Snake-Oil-Salesman-in-Chief is getting less than the reception he wants in one of the reddest-necked states. That's a good thing. From The Carpetbagger Report.
When Bush swings through Montgomery today to discuss his controversial plan to revamp Social Security, only one, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Anniston, has confirmed plans to attend.

Representatives for most of the other six Republicans in the delegation cited a crush of business during an exceptionally busy week in Washington. But Carl Grafton, a political scientist at Auburn University Montgomery, where Bush will speak, said lawmakers also have no reason to cozy up to the president on a potentially toxic issue such as Social Security reform.

You know things are going poorly for Bush's Social Security scheme when Republicans in Alabama give the president the brush off.

These are the kind of lawmakers whom the White House probably expects to support anything Bush wants by virtue of Bush wanting it. And now, some of them don't even want to be on the stage with the president when he's talking about his signature domestic policy goal.

Those 'Bama pols have to face something Bush doesn't: Re-election in '06. They have a big electorate that lives for them green checks every 3rd of the month, and they don't want to be tarred with the brush of supporting The Evil Dr. Bush's Travelling Salvation Show. Even for a taste of poison Snake Oil.

I think I'd find some "crushing business" to keep me away too, like the grand opening of a pizza parlor or having to try out some new fishing line.

Good News (Maybe) on ANWR

It's unusual to find something that might be good news about Bush's campaign to open ANWR to oil exploration, drilling, tire tracks in thawing tundra, confused caribou, etc., but this article by Jim Hightower might qualify. Via AlterNet.
But, in a gusher of political irony, guess what? The oil giants have little interest in drilling there! Even a Bush advisor on this issue confided that "No oil company really cares about ANWR," adding that "If the government gave them the [drilling] leases for free they wouldn't take them." Indeed, Chevron Texaco, BP, and ConocoPhillips have so little interest in ANWR that they have withdrawn from Arctic Power, the chief lobbying front behind Bush's push to open the refuge.

Why the corporate disinterest? Because, unlike George, companies have to base their decisions at least partially on reality, and the geological reality is that ANWR doesn't hold enough oil to make private investment there worthwhile. Only one actual test of the refuge's oil potential has been done – a secret test by Chevron Texaco and BP, two of the giants that have now backed away from Bush's ANWR scheme. If it had real production potential, these profit-seekers would be lobbying hard to get in there.

What's really behind the Bushites' insistence on drilling in a wildlife refuge is nothing but their reactionary, knee-jerk laissez-faire ideology. They hate the idea that the public can protect any piece of nature from corporate intrusion – even if the corporations don't choose to intrude. ANWR is a case of their ideological loopiness.

You see, Georgie, not every oil company can succeed by throwing away their investors' money in stupid schemes inspired by moronic management like all of of yours did. They don't quite have your connections. They have to actually provide petroleum products at a profit, not just spend money people gave them to kiss your dad's ass.

More thoughts . . .

From the Dog:

[. . .]

Anyway, to the topic at hand (not that our coming up with memes de jours will solve ANYTHING-- after the bankruptcy fiasco, I am convinced that OUR OWN PARTY IS THE PROBLEM, and should really be re-built from the bottom up and/or replaced with something like a "Labour Party" or a "Liberal Party" or the "Whig Party" or something that is about good governance and not about personal aggrandizement, celebrity worship, and whoring to big donors; but I digress...)...

[. . .]


[. . .]

I don’t know about you, but I invested time, energy, and money into the Democratic Party during the last election, and I’m not getting much of a return on my investment. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling like the party to whom I’ve been loyal for my entire life is giving me the finger.

The confirmations of Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales, and Michael Chertoff … the slow response to broaching voting accountability legislation … the passage of a measure to limit class-action lawsuits … the bankruptcy bill … the constant move toward the center … and on and on and on. I complain about the idiocy of the Dems almost as much as I do the Republicans, and I’m starting to get more than a little pissed off.

[. . .]

I'd have to agree. You?

We interrupt this program

for a Public Service Message:

Thanks to FDL.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


From Disappearingink at RUFNKM:

[. . .]

The same with these columnists. Our brains want to see them there, just because they've been there before, and they match well with other things in our brain. But should newspapers really pay people to say what they think about something they don't really know much about? Especially when any semi-literate bag-of-bones (say, me) can set up a blog and express his opinion for the world to hear?

No, they shouldn't. Newspapers already accept op-eds from experts on certain issues. They should do that exclusively. Get rid of these hacks. Let them set up their own blogs and find something useful to do in the world. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

An interesting post.

Arrivederci Baghdad

Via WTF:

ROME, March 9 -- U.S. military officials in Iraq had approved an Italian intelligence officer's mission to free a kidnapped journalist and were expecting their arrival at Baghdad's airport on Friday when U.S. soldiers opened fire on the Italians at a checkpoint, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday.

[. . .]

The prime minister's remarks, building on a statement Tuesday by Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, showed that his government is determined to challenge the U.S. version of the Italian's death, which has strained relations between the two countries.

[. . .]

How long before Berlusconi feels the pressure and the Eye-talians pull out of Iraq? I give it six months.

PS: Blogger sucks monkey ass today!

Another question

Doesn't Congress have anything more important to do than drag a couple overpaid prima donnas before them to talk about steroids, let alone go through the effort of serving subpoenas?

You're my bitch base

So, who is really getting fucked by this bankruptcy bill? Via Atrios:

Bankruptcy filing rank, by households per filing:

Utah 1
Tennessee 2
Georgia 3
Nevada 4
Indiana 5
Alabama 6
Arkansas 7
Ohio 8
Mississippi 9
Idaho 10

What the Jesuslanders don't get is that Bush will drop 'em like a bad habit when his true base starts making demands. Hmmm . . . So these are the people 'taking advantage' of bankruptcy protection? Ain't these the same people who bitch loudest about the liberals and their 'handouts'? Ain't these the same people who complain the most about 'government entitlements'? Ain't these the same people who bitch their tax money is going to 'the government welfate state' when it's my taxes supporting their infrastructure? While I know far more honest people will be hurt than those who are 'taking advantage', I can't help thinking 'good for ya's'. You're the assholes who gave the Repubs their 'mandate' and you're the ones who are getting it hardest and dryest from your boy. Now take it like the 'real men' you are. And watch me buy your double-wide at the foreclosure sale for ten cents on the dollar and rent it back to ya.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

The Prophecy Of Oil

Slow news days aren't slow, really, but they do let us catch up on stuff that happens slow enough we don't have to jump out of the way. William Rivers Pitt in Truthout:
Oil infuses virtually every aspect of our civilization. It is the basis of the global economy. It is the inescapable ingredient that creates, supports and sustains the Western world as we know it.

Yet even as oil gives generously with one hand, it takes grievously with the other. Even if the petroleum industry is correct and there remain trillions of barrels to be plumbed, that oil is located for the most part in some of the most dangerous and unstable places on the planet. That danger and instability has been created, in no small part, by the fact that oil can be found there.

Oil revenues fund global terrorism. Oil resources motivate wars, and more wars, and more wars. This is the sharp other edge of the sword; if the petroleum industry is correct and oil can be found and drilled for generations to come, that means generations to come will be required to share the death and destruction we endure today in the grubbing for oil. There is no escaping this.

Only a maniac would hope for the immediate collapse of the petroleum paradigm and the social, economic and military chaos that would ensue. If all the oil in the world disappeared tomorrow morning, millions of people would be dead by sundown, and billions more would follow soon after into the grave. None but the purest of psychopath would look forward to a catastrophe of this magnitude.

Something, however, must be done. If the 'Peak Oil' theory is an accurate prediction of the imminent future, something must be done. If 'Peak Oil' is only a myth, something must still be done. One way or the other, this paradigm is going to destroy itself, and it will take a monstrous number of people with it.

Like it or not, we're stuck with the petroleum-based world we created in a time when it seemed simple and good. We're stuck until the better brains amongst us can come up with something, unhindered and unfettered by politicians and oil companies.

Me? I'm going to go out and bolt-on that 200MPG carburetor....

Fascism in Fifteen Parts

I just found this series of articles by David Niewert of Orcinus. It's two years old but probably a good primer in how the state of affairs in our country has come to be. I haven't read it all yet as it will take several sessions, but I'm going to make the attempt. Join me.

Irony marches on

Bush with the Romanian president:

"Iran . . . is a non-transparent society . . ."

Who was on the Dickster's Energy Task Force again?

Also, Bush is bandying U.N. resolutions around again, with regard to Syria this time ("Syria must abide by 1559"). We'll be attacking shortly.

Stretched thin

No, this time it's not the U.S. military, it's me. I've been realizing over the past couple weeks that I have a lot of commitments, some that have to be dealt with sooner than others.

One is the book I've been writing over at creativity. That's fallen by the wayside and I'd like to get it finished because it's next up in line after Technocracy, the 8th in my epic series of pulp drivel whose publishing deadline is rapidly approaching. I'm starting to get serious hate mail from my regular readers, who've been waiting since November '03 for the next episode. I still have a little more work to do there before it gets shipped off.

Also, there's The Fixer & Gordon which I've let suffer, the contributing I do over at The Seventh Cross, and the administration of this blog, which is taking more and more time thanks to the increased traffic (thank you all who come by here and I'm not complaining). Then, most importantly, there's the reduction of quality time I'm spending with Mrs. F and the Princess thanks to all these commitments. Never mind work (my real job of keeping the cars in my section of Long Island's North Shore running).

So, I'm trying to figure out what to do. Since my books mean income, those naturally take priority. Though I've tried, blogging and writing just aren't working for me. I know others can do it, but I've found I can't. My brain goes to completely different places and it's a walking and chewing gum thing for me. My blogging will be reduced in the coming weeks, that's a given. How much is still a matter of consideration. Whether it'll be a complete hiatus for a couple months until the work on my books is done, or just a once in a while thing, I don't know yet. I'm also debating having a guest blogger until my hiatus is over, but that's for further, private, discussions between Gord, KR, and me. If someone is interested in filling in temporarily, email me and I'll take it into consideration. I'll still be doing the 'behind the scenes' work here regardless.

So that's it. Nothing Earth-shaking, just that you'll be seeing a little less of me here over the next couple months. No great loss really, I know y'all like Gord and KR better than me anyway. Ha!

Shock and Awe

Bubba's got a great post up that I meant to link to the other day:

I thought "shock and awe" was just a clever tagline dreamed up by Rumsfeld's PR people. In fact, it is the title of a 1996 report to the Pentagon on "achieving rapid dominance."

[. . .]

Jawbone of an ass

WTF? I thought the Saudis were Bush butt-buddies? Seems that Bush is Bandar's bitch. First, we pull American troops out of the Kingdom and now oil prices are heading upward again. I thought we had some leverage?

[. . .]

Oil prices held close to $55 a barrel, within sight of all-time highs, as late wintry blasts in the United States reignited demand and a tumbling dollar drew more investors into energy markets.

U.S. light crude for April rose 2 cents to $54.61, nearing the record high of $55.67 hit in October last year. Rising oil prices have raised concerns that higher energy costs will pinch corporate profits and curb consumer spending.

[. . .]

So I ask again? Who's in charge around here? Bandar or Bush?

Sturm und Drang, was macht nichts

From Melanie:

[. . .]

Let me say a few things that should be blindingly obvious by now. Europe was not bamboozled by Bush/Condi's charm offensive last month. If anyone had any reason to doubt his "sincerity" (whatever the hell that means) as a multilaterist/internationalist, that little moment has gone down in flames. Bolton's appointment to the UN is a massive "Fuck you" to the rest of the planet. What Bolton doesn't understand is that the world's view of the US has undergone a substantial revision since we completely screwed up our little middle-eastern adventure. We are now nothing more than a bully with nothing left to back it up and everybody knows it. Have a wonderful time at the United Nations, Mr. Gutless Wonder Bolton. And you are one of the prime movers who got us here, loudmouth.

I love it when she's pissed.

Morning thoughts

Pilfered from Champollion at Rising Hegemon:

The minimum wage bill is hung up in the Senate where there is no agreement in sight to raise the minimum wage over $5.15 an hour.

WASHINGTON - The Senate defeated dueling proposals Monday to raise the $5.15-an-hour minimum wage — one backed by organized labor, the other salted with pro-business provisions — in a day of skirmishing that reflected Republican gains in last fall's elections.

And remember, the Republicans have also made it easier for employers to allow comp time in lieu of time-and-a-half when an employee goes over 40 hours in a workweek.

We are so third world. Cue up Lee Greenwood, please.

Indeed. After 4 more years of Bush, all America will be known for is cheap labor and bad government. I guess it's a way to solve the immigration problems. The illegals will look somewhere else for better-paying employment opportunities.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

American Wahabbis

From Mother Jones, an alternative lens for viewing the Ten Commandments cases.
In the United States as in the Middle East, the core of this Puritanism stems from a nostalgia for an imaginary past – in our case, a belief that the U.S. was a wonderful place when it was peopled mostly by pioneers who came from good northern European stock, who knew right from wrong, and weren't afraid to back up their beliefs with a gun, or by going to war, if they needed to.

Yeah, like slavery and them pesky blanket-asses, huh?
The founding fathers, of course, had a very different vision. They had seen the damage caused by the arcane disputes which triggered the religious wars of the seventeenth century. They preferred the ideas of the secular enlightenment, which instead of forcing men to accept the religious interpretations of other men, provided the space and security for each man to seek God in his own way.
Good article. Go read.


What do you get for pretending the danger's not real
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes
Now things are really what they seem
No, this is no bad dream. - Sheep, Pink Floyd

Keeping and bearing

I'm not one for firearms. I never felt the need to own one after I left the military. I don't hunt. Just never felt like shooting anything that didn't pose a threat to me, and I have a soft spot for animals. I don't condemn hunting, I got friends who do, religiously. They enjoy it, more power to 'em. I'll go target shooting with friends once in a while, just to assure myself I ain't lost it (qualified marksman consistently in the military, even got a ribbon, with oak leaf cluster and star device, for it), but I never felt the need to own a gun.

Until now.

More below the fold . . .

Letter From Canuckistan

Thank goodness (sometimes) for slow news days. As I sit here with my fingers in my ears waiting for something truly earth-shattering (it could happen, under this administration) to come across my wires, occasionally I run across a jewel to share with you. This letter to Condiliezza appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. Thanks to 42.
I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.

Such control-freak antics may work in the virtual one-party state that now prevails in Washington. But in Canada we have a residual belief that politicians should be subject to a few checks and balances, an idea that your country once espoused before the days of empire.

To protect people against international crimes like genocide and ethnic cleansing, they support new institutions like the International Criminal Court -- which, by the way, you might strongly consider using to hold accountable those committing atrocities today in Darfur, Sudan.

And these Canadians believe that the United Nations should indeed be reformed -- beginning with an agreement to get rid of the veto held by the major powers over humanitarian interventions to stop violence and predatory practices.

Gee, whatta buncha commies, eh?

Monday, March 7, 2005


NYT via Kos:

[. . .]

But the delays were only beginning. The initial misstep, as well as other previously undisclosed problems, show that the Pentagon's difficulties in shielding troops and their vehicles with armor have been far more extensive and intractable than officials have acknowledged, according to government officials, contractors and Defense Department records. In the case of body armor, the Pentagon gave a contract for thousands of the ceramic plate inserts that make the vests bulletproof to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He struggled for a year, then gave up entirely. At the same time, in shipping plates from other companies, the Army's equipment manager effectively reduced the armor's priority to the status of socks, a confidential report by the Army's inspector general shows. Some 10,000 plates were lost along the way, and the rest arrived late. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

What was that? Oh yeah fuck support the troops.

Depleted uranium

The Sister:

Let me just reiterate this one more time: things like 9/11 don’t happen in a fucking void. Our actions have consequences.

Link. [video] Warning: Very graphic.

Watching the clip, it reminds me of the Hell many of those in Japan went through for generations after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

The deficit

Ya see why I harp on this? This ain't just my idiotic ramblings. From the lips of somebody who knows something:

Warren Buffett, the world's greatest investor, yesterday launched a vitriolic attack on the US government for failing to take effective action to reduce the country's trade deficit.

[. . .]

"A country that is now aspiring to an 'ownership society will not find happiness... in a 'sharecropper's society' " But he says that just such a demeaning outcome is "where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us."

It's time for a little pain, though this Congress cringes at the mere thought of it. It's time for a tax increase, before the debt gets out of reach. It's time for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts a few years ago. We cannot sustain this pace of spending, especially using the fuzzy math (big-budget items off-budget) the Bush administration is. It's time for the White House to be brought to the bar, and it's time for the 'paleo-conservatives' to do it, if any of 'em actually exist anymore.

Link via Corrente. You really should read The Farmer's post too.


. . . You know a lot of people don't realize that the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry, was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products. Those are the people. The credit card companies have been giving money, and they have influence . . . [my emphasis]

Go read the whole post and understand how this horrible bankruptcy bill is being shoved through.

Update: 15:30:

Found this here. Thanks to Oliver Willis.


Stolen in full from Froggy:

The Republican controlled government is coming after anyone who isn't rich now, and they are making very little effort, except in how they name their bills, to hide the fact that the real war is not on terrorism, but the working class. You think I'm kidding? This is what we get because the red states are full of poor, god-fearing people who ought to be more afraid of the Republican party than any god of any religion.

ANWR . . . again

Travis has an excellent post on the shenanigans over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In their continuing attempts to ruin as much of the world as humanly possible while their guy still has office, Republicans have figured out how to avoid a filibuster on legislation allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by tacking provisions onto a budget bill . . .

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Death sentence

I commented on this Friday. Gillard goes farther.

[. . .]

This is from US training, which stresses fire and protection first and foremost. Car doesn't stop, blow it away. That's what happened in Tal Afar when the troopers from the 25th ID blew away a family. Speeding? Be a kid with a machine gun waiting for a car bomb and donkeys speed. Instead of conspiracy theories. one should be asking how many times do US troops kill Iraqis just like this. I thought driving while black was bad, now driving while Iraqi can be a death sentence.

Ah-nold: Girly-man Gubernator

James Wolcott does it again.
"[T]he Governor is so used to browbeating the press that he thought he could do the same to the California Nurses' Association (CNA), one of the most militant unions in the country, with 60,000 members and representing registered nurses at 171 health facilities throughout the state. Schwarzenegger has been trying to roll back the union's gains on nurse/ patient ratios, safety standards and kindred issues.

"On February 15, when Schwarzenegger and his platoons of body guards and flunkies trooped into a screening of Be Cool, 300 nurses demonstrated. Kelly DiGiacomo, 46 years old and 5'2", a nurse at a Kaiser hospital near Sacramento, had a ticket. She ensconced herself in the fourth row, wearing her nurse's scrubs.

"A bodyguard rushed up, and under the pretext of a possible meeting with the governor, led her to a room with a California Highway Patrol cop at the door and began to grill DiGiacomo. A few days later a CHP investigator called. DiGiacomo asked why she should be considered a threat. The investigator replied, 'Well, you were wearing a nurse's uniform.' 'Oh, sure, the international terrorist uniform,' DiGiacomo scoffed. Californians scoffed with her when they saw the news stories. At least Bush and Cheney can claim they're being targeted by hairy men from the dark side of Mecca. Here's Arnold hiding behind his goons from the woman who cares for you when you're in the hospital."

Some "tough guy", huh?

Martha's Lesson

There's been a lot of verbiage this week about Martha Stewart. As everybody knows, she just got out of the can after five months, a billion dollars richer and probably infinitely wiser. Good for her, I say. Before all this happened, I couldn't have gave a shit less about her one way or the other. I still don't, other than I think she got royally screwed by the government. Think on this:

Ms. Stewart got five months in a federal joint and five months house arrest for lying to the government about a crime that she was never charged with, a crime that arguably never occurred, over an insignificant amount of money from the sale of her own stock, that ain't a drop in the bucket compared to what Enron and others blatantly stole from everybody with administration help. What I take from that is this:

It's OK for the president and the government, cops, politicians, preachers and corporations to lie to, or steal from, you and nothing happens to them. Nothing, except maybe praise for doing their job well and being on the bandwagon of power.

However, if you lie to them without being on their IOKIYAR list, or for being an uppity broad, or for not paying enough protection money in the form of campaign contributions, you're in big trouble. It's the Amerikan way: pay up or pipe down. Or we'll knock you down.

I'm not going to even say that this is unfair, because that would just be whining. Of course it's unfair. It was engineered that way and it works well. Someday the tables will turn and I hope I'm there to grind my heel in their face. Now that's fair.


A good one from the Ghost:

[. . .]

Why is a book, possibly anywhere from twenty-five hundred to two thousand years old, of dubious and questionable authorship, with notable historical inaccuracies, inconsistent logic, unprovable positions and overt factual errors, the so-called basis of an open, democratic, scientific and technologically advanced society?

[. . .]


I seem to be on a foreign policy thing today, so lets talk about Syria's announced pullback from Lebanon. It offers hope for a people under occupation for 30 years.

BEIRUT, March 5 -President Bashar al-Assad of Syria refused on Saturday to comply with President Bush's demand that he withdraw all of his country's troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, telling the Syrian Parliament that he planned instead to order a gradual pullback to Lebanese territory near Syria's borders.

[. . .]

Bashir Assad, Syria's president, isn't the model for integrity. You know Syrian intelligence won't leave that quickly, even if the troops do. But this is a hopeful sign. So why is the White House taking such a hard line?

More below the fold . . .

The stench of hypocrisy 4

Via the King:

Suppose that Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Canada and announced that the United States was retreating from its principles of freedom since the World Trade Center attack. The United States, he might have said, has denied due process of law to some American citizens. It has established a concentration camp in Cuba. It has tortured prisoners, indeed often and in many places. It denies aliens the right to trial by jury -- indeed, it acts like the only ones who have Mr. Jefferson's inalienable rights are American citizens, and not always.

Then he says, while I'm at it, there are a lot of flaws in your democracy. You certainly don't think your Electoral College is democratic, do you? Neither is your Senate, with its disproportionate representation of smaller states. Rhode Island is as big as California? Gimme a break!

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Did he expect Putin to accept his insult and promise to do better? Did he think that the Russian people would say that it was time for the Russian leadership to shape up in response to the criticism of an American president? What good would come of his criticism? Why did he bother to make such a big deal out of it?

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Why not be rude and crude and patronizing? Why not act like an evangelical minister preaching to South American heathens? Why not act like the campus evangelist who tells Catholics that they are not Christian? Why not act like a Catholic bishop refusing the sacraments to a political candidate?


These clowns who are running the show in Washington don't have a clue about diplomacy, also witnessed last week with regard to Canada opting out of the Missile Defense Shield. We have a foreign policy run by five year olds.