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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Naked Christians Flying Up 

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Hurry Rapture
Come to daddy
Come to save America
Praises be to our sky daddy
He’s the bomb that’s on the bus

Millions waiting
For the Rapture
Maxing out their credit cards
Getting ready for a slaughter
God’s a killer you can trust

Final conflict
Turn the living to the dead
Mark it on your calendar
Naked Christians flying up

Naked Christians go to heaven
You can see it in their smiles
Naked Christians into heaven
Clothing left behind in piles
Naked Christians flying up
Up above the world so high
If you’re modest, you’re in trouble
Grab your nethers when you fly

Come on Jesus
Please come quickly
We don’t want to play no more
Praise to Jesus, please come quickly
You know full well how people talk

It’s a comfort
Just our knowing
That you carry a mean sword
Heaven sent this blood starts flowing
Death to all outside the flock

Final conflict
Turn the living to the dead
Mark it on your calendar
Naked Christians flying up

Naked Christians go to heaven
You can see it in their smiles
Naked Christians into heaven
Clothing left behind in piles
Naked Christians flying up
Up above the world so high
If you’re modest, you’re in trouble
Grab your nethers when you fly

Hurry Rapture
Come to daddy
Come to save America
Praises be to our sky daddy
He’s the bomb that’s on the bus

Millions waiting
For the Rapture
Maxing out their credit cards
Getting ready for a slaughter
God’s a killer you can trust

Final conflict
Turn the living to the dead
Mark it on your calendar
Naked Christians flying up

Naked Christians go to heaven
You can see it in their smiles
Naked Christians into heaven
Clothing left behind in piles
Naked Christians flying up
Up above the world so high
If you’re modest, you’re in trouble
Grab your nethers when you fly

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Originally posted July 18th, 2005 at Mortaljive. Cross posted at Correntewire.


I needed a break from anger and sorrow, and so I flew into tomorrow...


Prophecies and Profit 

I just came across this little tidbit over at the Crack Den, via the Most Eloquent One:

"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."

Translation: The desire to get in on the federal mother of all pork troughs is filling every Ranger and Pioneer pantsuit with a gigantic hard-on. We’re so happy all the niggers got washed out and won’t be able to protest as we take over their land and homes for pennies on the dollar, and turn around and rent it back to them in the finest tradition of corporate towns and migrant worker shanties everywhere. The last thing we want is a city where constitutional protections, environmental regulations and racial and socioeconomic integration exist. Yeee-haaaaw!

I humbly submit this prediction: NOLA will be rebuilt as a pitiful, soulless reincarnation of it’s former self, replete with shantytown ghettos for the working poor, who will only be allowed to resettle in numbers sufficient to service the influx of second-home owners and corporate developers who will take over the choice real estate at the expense of the taxpayer. In time, another major city will emerge as the center of Southern Black culture, and no one but unlettered suburbanites and old school segregationists will want to visit the ersatz Creole “culture” that will stand on the grave of old New Orleans.

But what I really wanted to talk about is beyond NOLA. People started watching this disaster long before Boosh did, and there were many predictions after the extent of the damage became clear that this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and people would wake up to the nightmare that is the Assministration. But as the announcements come in relating to the rebuilding, it’s clear that no matter how people feel, the media and our masters don’t really care- the disaster is about financial opportunity for the already rich.

I was dorking around and watching Moscow on the Hudson recently, and while I’m not arguing it’s a totally serious important major film, I was struck by the innocence and happiness the characters, immigrants for the most part, showed for life in this country, even life as a minimum wage worker. I suppose it’s still true today, if you come from a war zone or place of permanent poverty and political oppression, America probably feels really good. But what about those of us raised here? How well will we take the reduction of our constitutional protections and standards of living in the name of making another millionaire a billionaire? Watching the response to the Federal ‘response’ to the NOLA crisis, I admit I’m pretty depressed.

I suppose that people have come to accept that they have to work 10-12hr days, conform politically at work, avoid critical thinking and generally ignore the actual workings of their government to stay happy suburbanites (or whatever). I suppose the material rewards are satisfying to many people who make those choices, or that they’re too tired/glazed over by TV/substance abusing to care. Despite what a lot of good people have done, and a general solid attitude of genuine caring around the blogosphere, as an African-American I have to say I’m underwhelmed by the response to the NOLA victims. I’m certainly pissed off by the coverage, as much as I’ve been able to force myself to sit through, which smacks of racism on the best days and something even worse other times. But the disconnect is what really gets me. A crisis can strike anywhere, and despite the love Boosh has for his donors, I guarantee he cares nothing for even the upper-middle class. Even when they fellate him at Republican rallies or Potemkin photo ops, the contempt he has for the ‘little’ people is glaring and obvious for anyone to behold.

Someone gave me a book called Rich Dad’s Prophecy by one of these get rich retire early advisor/authors. Not really my cup of tea, but he does point out a lot of things that those of us who live in the lefty blogosphere have been talking about for the last five years. While I personally think he’s essentially cashing in on the culture of fear that’s developed over the last five years in this country, I’m somewhat heartened to see that its jacket indicates it’s a bestseller. The rhetoric in it is strong, the writing punchy and dire, and while its historical perspective is laughable and its confidence in “American ingenuity” equally a farce, if nothing else it puts some ideas into the mainstream consciousness that really, really need to be there.

My bottom line is a gloomy one. I don’t believe America will be able to take back the government from the hands of the cronies and anti constitutionalists currently running the show. I think a combination of factors, not limited to but including apathy, ignorance, federal and consumer debt, Peak Oil, environmental change and crisis, declining international support, and religious fanaticism have doomed this nation for at least the next 20 years. And frankly, I think white Boomers will go down selfishly, protecting their own interests while taking away the last regular political options for change from the rest of us as they age and demand more and more from a decreasingly productive national economy. My only question relates to the form this Grand Decline will take: fast or slow, with more or less violence, punctuated by uprisings or accepted with resignation.

If there are any newcomers or moderate readers of this blog, let this post be my warning to you, and for everyone else let it be an electronic kick in the ass that spurs you out of your ‘box’ thinking. Traditional political solutions just won’t cut it anymore. We’ve passed that point, perhaps even well before I started paying attention, and the time for discussion and passive action has passed. Progressives need to rethink the question “what can be done,” just as moderates need to rethink the priorities and positions they’ve held for so long. I’m not saying this because I want everyone to become a radical like me, I’m saying it because I honestly believe what’s coming will force us all to make some hard choices. Quoting from that book I mentioned:

But in just a few years, this very rich country became a poor, debt-ridden bankrupt nation with a weak currency. Money has left and so have the rich. Taxes are high and the currency has collapsed. Corruption is everywhere. If the problems are not solved, real anarchy could erupt.

(p. 113)

He’s speaking about Argentina, but it is possible the same words could be written about the US in a short time. And when the rich are gone, so too goes the capital in ‘capitalism’ that makes traditional political solutions viable.

This is a new millennium, and for the first time, a truly global society. Thanks to Boosh, the rest of the world is currently laughing at us with derision, pointing to us with hatred and/or rubbing their hands with glee at the future lack of dominance we’ll have over emerging markets. There will be no Marshall Plan for us when we fall. There is no Sky Father coming to save us, and the traditional ideas of opposition parties in government have been forgotten by our not-opposing “opposition” leadership.

I’ll post later on my own radical ideas for change, and admit they are unfinished and flawed. But I want people to think about the poor fleeing NOLA, and the lack of aid they have and will continue to (not) receive. Just as Ford once told New York city to “fuck off” in a time of crisis, so too will Bush and whomever comes after him tell states and municipalities as the problems outlined above form a perfect storm of their own. Even if you’re employed, financially solvent, in good standing in your community and materially comfortable, that can change- and quickly. It doesn’t take Mother Nature for this to happen, just the awesome force of your own belief in comforting ideology and false stability. Think about the thin veneer of civilization for a moment, and ask yourself how you would respond to chaos.

I Have Seen The Future, And It is Sexy 

A couple weekends ago I went down to my neighborhood non-corporate video sto' and picked up a copy of Sin City from the rack.

Me: "I just need something to take my mind off the hurricane stuff, I've been watching it on cable all weekend. It's driving me insane."

Video Sto' Guy: "This is good. It's violent, but it's a fantasy..."

Me: "Perfect."

Maybe I'm a cornball, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The film is done in black and white (+red). This is supposed to make it look like the graphic novel, but it reminded me of film noir from the 30's and 40's.

Back then reality was black and white. The difference between good and evil was obvious. Fascists and Nazis on one side, the allies and the Reds on the other.

Then, after WWII, everything went Technicolor and reality was confusing. The Corporate Public Relations professionals started taking control of the minds of Americans, who were lost In a haze of cigarettes and Better Living Through Pill-Popping, getting fat off casseroles and imperial profits.

Read the exciting conclusion at The New and Mightier Corrente Building or at the Shysteeblog.

UPDATE (Heh, it's like "stop the presses". I've always wanted to say that.):

PS: My favorite movie of all time is also in black and white. Set in New Orleans and starring Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni and John Lurie, Down By Law is a sad and beautiful film. The opening sequence (shot by Wim Wender's old DP, Robby Muller) is an endless drive-by of the Crescent City's victorian slums with Tom Waits' "Jockey Full of Bourbon" in the background. Check it out. If it doesn't break your heart to see images of what Nawlins used to be and if you're able to stay awake through Jim Jarmusch's trademark meaningful pauses in dialogue, you'll be glad you did.

Sheehan in Philly--The Rally 

The Peace Rally last night on the lawn next to the National Constitution Center near Independence Hall ran a little late, simply because there were so many speakers trying to squeeze into the 2-hour timeframe, but it felt like it went quickly.

They said we were the largest crowd they had yet encountered on the tour, and though I'm not good at estimating that kind of thing, it seemed like there could have been 500, all told.

What I missed, having had to hoof it across the city to get there after right after work, was Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown reading the Resolution Against The War passed the day before by the Philadelphia City Council. Although she was the sponsor who introduced the resolution, it was co-sponsored by 12 other council members, including two Republicans. Here's what the website had to say about it:

"On the urging of members and friends of the Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour, the Philadelphia City Council voted today 16 to 1 for a Resolution calling on the federal government to "rapidly withdraw US troops from Iraq expeditiously." Following a Thursday morning caucus session in which Gold Star Families for Peace co-founder Celeste Zappala and other Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour members were introduced to council members..."
In addition to Cindy Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace members, other groups represented at the rally included Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out. There were a wonderfully representative group of speakers, and some singer-songwriters who played and sang beautifully. Although the crowd spanned the age range, it seemed a bit on the older side. That will certainly change when the draft comes down. And, as so often happens with political activities like this, it was way too white. If this message is to start taking root and have resonance, outreach efforts have to be made more strenuously to link to and include minorities and their advocacy groups, especially since they are the ones doing a disproportionate amount of the fighting on the ground. But enough of that. It was inspiring, and I was glad I could be there. It lacked the carnival atmosphere that attends many such gatherings, but that was okay. Members of various groups circulated through the crowd handing out flyers and stickers, and the Iraq vets were selling IVAW T-shirts (I wanted one but at $20 I just couldn't spend the cash. I'll pick one up at the DC rally.) Further up, close to the speaker's platform were places to buy buttons and tour shirts. People stretched out on the grass, dogs rolled, babies cooed, bicycles served as impromptu chairs. Many threads ran through the speeches, not the least of which were calls for impeachment and rallying for attendance at the DC anti-war mobilization next Saturday. It was a night of strong rhetoric, much stronger than I had expected.

The speakers included (list leaves out a couple speakers I couldn't catch and the musicians who performed):
  • Celeste Zappala, Philadelphia, PA, a co-founder with Sheehan of Gold Star Familes for Peace, whose son Sgt. Sherwood Baker was the first PA National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II, killed in Baghdad on April 26, 2004. Celeste is an articulate, eloquent speaker with an electrifying style coming straight out of her deep pain and anger. I saw her speak before, at the union hall with Al Franken during a MoveOn-sponsored election tour in 2004, and she had us all in tears. She was easily the best and most moving speaker there last night. (I also learned that night that she and her family are neighbors of my daughter's boyfriend, and her son Dante is one of his friends. Small, small world.)
  • AFSCME District Council 47 President Tom Cronin spoke of union solidarity for the peace movement and the upcoming DC demonstration.
  • Former City Councilman Angel Ortiz, Philadelphia's most famous unlicensed driver, roused the crowd with Bush epithets and his repeated cries to "Impeach Bush!" (Not the last time that was heard that night.)
  • Bill Perry, Levittown PA, a member of Veterans for Peace and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who was a paratrooper during the Tet offensive in 1967 and 1968, spoke of the "karmic debt" he owes for what he did in Vietnam, and how the anti-war work he is doing now is part of that. He pointed the crowd to the site.
  • Rabbi Art Waskow, Philadelphia, whose cries for "Shalom! Salaam! Peace!" rang out through the crowd. (Check out his piece on Frist, here.)
  • Dante Zappala, son of Celeste and brother of Sherwood Baker, spoke about how his brother was killed (searching for WMDs), how divided the country is, and how embracing others' losses as our own is the key to finding common cause.
  • Sherie Cohen, Philadelphia, sent a message from her dad, City Councilman David Cohen reiterating support for the resolution and calling on the crowd to pressure their representatives to end the war.
  • Kellisa Stanley, Texas, whose husband at Fort Hood did a one-year tour of duty in Iraq and is scheduled for redeployment next year, said she had 2 exit strategies for the troops: "Boat. And plane." She spoke of the fear with which she lived while her husband was in Iraq, waiting with dread each day between 6 to 10 a.m., because those are the hours during which the military is allowed to deliver the news of a death to a soldier's family.
  • Patrick Resta, Philadelphia, with Iraq Veterans Against the War, served as a combat medic from February to November, 2004. His aunt and uncle were killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He wondered why a 28-yr. old friend in his platoon had to die when an explosion tore into his behicle because 1/2" sheets of plywood had been nailed into his Humvee instead of the armor that should have been there. He wondered, because as he said, there were plenty of armored Humvees---they were used to go to meetings and USO shows, but not for patrols. He talked of people dying because the paperwork needed to release them couldn't be done. He talked of his own fears and anger because he had to buy his own body armor; because he was issued a gas mask that was useless because it didn't fit; because just before going into combat he was issued a rifle he'd never held, never sighted or been able to prep.
  • Vince George, West Virginia, of Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out, talked about being an Arab-American with a brother in the National Guard who was previously in Kosovo before being orderd up to Iraq. His "fascist gangsters" remark referencing Bushco got an especially heartfelt hand from the crowd. He, too, called for impeachment, saying the next election needs 11 seats taken back from the Republicans to get it done.
  • Pat Bonner(sp?), PA, has a son in the PA National Guard who was sent to Egypt to police their elections. She wanted to know what we would think of having them come here to do the same to us. She was a firebrand, leveling war crimes charges at Bushco, and calling for revolution.
  • Lietta Ruger, Washington state, with Military Families Speak Out, has a son in law and nephew in Germany who have served extended 15-month tours of duty in Iraq and are presently under “stop loss” orders. They are scheduled to deploy to Iraq this fall. She said we must always challenge a president to define the mission before jumping into war.
  • Jeff Key, Alabama, a Marine reservist who served in Iraq in 2003, was easily the most charming and charismatic of the speakers. A friendly, almost puppy-like, young gay man, he spoke in a sweet drawl of the early idealism that led him to join the Marines, and finished up by pointing at the Liberty Bell on the other side of the street behind him, saying the first time he saw the layers of bulletproof plastic in which it was encased, he wondered where the bell was. "Then I saw it. It's kinda like America's obscured, but I know it's still there somewhere."
  • Beatriz Saldivar, Texas, a Gold Star Families for Peace member. Her nephew Daniel Torres was killed in action on February 4th, 2005 in Baygii, Iraq on his second tour of Iraq due to stop loss orders after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded and hit his unarmored Humvee. He left behind a pregnant fiancee whose baby is due this weekend.
  • U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, Philadelphia, spoke words of encouragement, and of how more and more folks are agreeing that we were miled into war with lies. He spoke of meeting Cassandra Bryan at Walter Reed hospital, where she was sent to recover after losing both legs in Iraq, and he spoke of the thousands of others severely injured.
  • And finally, Cindy Sheehan herself. She told of her initial hesitancy in becoming an activist because "I thought one person can't make a difference. Then I said, 'If I can't make a difference, at least I'll know I tried. I can look at myself in the mirror, and tell my grandchildren that I tried.'" She spoke of "Bush's insane & moronic policies", and of the Bush chickenhawks, how they wouldn't risk dying for their country when they had a chance to, but now want to send others to again do their dying for them. She spoke about their "dangerous incompetence". She talked about the reasons put forth by Bushco for the war: Freedom & Democracy ("An Islamic constitution is not a democracy that takes rights away from women, that gives power to a puppet leadership"); and Keeping America Safer ("How did it make America safer to invade a country that was no threat to us? Why are their babies more important than our babies? Katerina proved that we're more vulnerable now because of this war").

Cindy finished as volunteers circulated through the crowd with candles for a candle-lighting ceremony at the end of the night, saying that "It's not about politics, or who's a Republican or Democrat. It's about flesh and blood. It's about life and death." She talked about the tour, and how they would end up in D.C. for the anti-war march, and invited the crowd to join them there. Jeff Key played taps as he had done in Crawford, while we stood in silence, remembering the dead and maimed.

When we disbanded, I felt good about my country. It's been a long time since that happened.

Editor's note: Special thanks to Monique Frugier for the photos.

(Crossposted at the new Correntewire.)

Katrina: Our empathetic Preznit 

Modo seems to have had a religious conversion or something. Finally, she gets it... It be even more comforting to think that MoDo knows Bush is on the way down, and is starting to get in her licks now:

In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background?
(Times, A15)

Is that a question?

It would almost be worththe $49.95 to see MoDo stamping, with her stilletto heels, on ....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

So, the Republican social engineering begins. They're going to house the Katrina exiles in fucking trailers, oh, I'm sorry, mobile homes, for the couple of years it will Halliburton to make its nut by turning New Orleans into a gated community for rich fucks. Gag. The only stench worse than mud-covered dead bodies is live Republican hypocrisy.

Do The Work 

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"President Bush acts to suspend Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, thereby slashing wages to poverty levels."

Look here and here and just Google this till you can't sit still and you write letters and you make noise. For those who didn't drown in the water Bush is fashioning a length of economic chains, the better to keep the lines straight. Damn him past the provinces of God.


Hey there mister, got a job for you
Get yourself a hammer and some workin' shoes
Come down to the office, take a look around
You're gonna help to build us a brand new town

Hey there mister, there is work to be done
You'll sleep like a baby, you will rise with the sun
Carry that lumber, dig some holes
Don't get no mud on the boss's Rolls

Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work

Hey, I know that guy, back from Iraq
Lost his friend in a sniper attack
Ready to help in his community
He has fought to keep us free

In his eyes I see the desert sky
Bombs going off just like the 4th of July
Got himself a job here for the minimum wage
He ain't yet 26 but he's showin' his age

Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work

One day all the business' will open their doors
Filled with trinkets that sparkle in the happy stores
Ladies from Lafayette will wander by
Steppin' around that homeless guy

Make a movie of the moment, zoom on in
Take a look at the eyes of a veteran
There are many who washed up on the shore
Every day there are more and more

Turn the clock back, we're on the run
It's 1930 and there's work to be done
Do the work
Do the work
Let's build America
Let's do the work
Do the work
If your heart is breaking, shake it off
We're the living, let's do the work


(Author's confession: I could not stop Randy Newman from influencing this song, no matter how hard I tried his "Good Old Boys" album, along with "Sail Away" would not let me be.)

Image of homeless migrant worker from here.


Spoke on condition of anonymity because... 

he editors of our free press have decided that reporters can use anonymous sources, as long as the sources give a reason for being anonymous—giving rise to a literary micro-genre. I googled on “Spoke on condition of anonymity because” and got

1. Spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution (WaPo)

And many more at the renovated Corrente...

Red Beans & Rice Mondays 

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I received the following e-mail from a friend who lived in New Orleans, who has maintained the tradition of Red Beans & Rice Mondays for a good, long time.

I will be cooking Red Beans and Rice at the Edendale Grill on Monday, the 19th, and perhaps every Monday for a while. The purpose is to raise money to send to the Musicians Relief fund, which takes care of New Orleans musicians, and their family's, needs.

Come on down. It's a good cause. The money goes directly, without 'staff' expenses between your donation and the recipients. I had thought about doing this here at my house, but realized I could raise way more money there.

The Edendale opens at 5, but dinner will be served starting at 6, until around 10.
See you on Monday

The Edendale Grill is located in Silverlake, CA, just south of Hyperion and north of Glendale Blvd. It is in what had been a fire house for many decades. As this event will continue on consecutive Mondays, I think I have a new short-term tradition that will satisify my soul on many levels.

The vitals:

Edendale Grill
2838 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90039

(323) 666-2000 tel.
(323) 666-2442 fax.

I hope to arrive around 6:30 or 7:00. Hope to see many, many faces there, and I hope to hear some good jazz too!


Image from here.


Shehan Comes to Philly, Update 

Speaking of activism, I'll be on hand at the Peace Rally this evening. From the time I was a little kid, I was never a joiner, and I hated clubs and organizations. But Bush has lit a fire under me like I've never felt, and I want to be heard, be seen, and be a force for change beyond this kvetching I do here and elsewhere. No, not everyone is cut out to march in the streets, and no, it isn't a condition for being a real activist and a good person. But it is something I feel in my soul to be what's right for me, and I will be becoming more and more of a street-fighting progressive in the months to come, because I'm so fucking mad I can't help it.

Stolen from PA For Democracy, for folks in the Philadelphia area:

The Bring Them Home Now Tour has launched three buses from Crawford, Texas, each carrying military and Gold Star families, veterans of the Iraq War and veterans of previous wars. These buses will travel different routes across the country, converging in Washington, DC on September 21, for the United for Peace and Justice Mobilization September 24th-26th.

In Philadelphia
Friday, Sept. 16:

11:30 AM--Gold Star Families award area AFL-CIO leaders for their work to end the war. AFL-CIO Headquarters, 22 South 22nd Street. (More info: 215-945-3350 or 215-741-1980.)

5-7 PM--Rally for Peace at Independence Hall, 5th and market Sts., Philadelphia

Saturday, Sept. 17:

Noon to Evening--Camp Gold Star at Lemon Hill Park Meet with Gold Star Parents and Iraq Vets. (Latest info, call 610-832-7028)

For local info: 610-832-7028 - For tour info:

Sex! Tits! Fisting! 

Now that I have your attention, forget humor for a moment and come with me to the world of boring, serious reality.

Today I want to talk about my I’m a depressed, prone to heavy drinking slouch with no spirit for activism. Actually, I have spirit for activism in spades, just not of the traditional kind so much. Here’s a section from an entry on my favorite topic, electronic voting, from the people formerly known as Disinfopedia, now Source Watch:

"Whoever certified that code as secure should be fired," said Avi Rubin , technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report. He is one of about 900 computer scientists in the U.S., including the founder of the GNU e-democracy project (who has now abandoned it due to unresolved concerns about inherent problems of voting electronically), who has issued grave warnings about voting by computer. In India, the protest has been even more widespread, as the ruling party has proceeded with automating the electoral process uniformly nation-wide - in a democracy of over one billion people, and few resources to challenge results.

According to the Post, "Rubin analyzed portions of Diebold software source code that was mistakenly left on a public Internet site and concluded that a teenager could manufacture "smart cards" and vote several times. Further, he said, insiders could program the machine to alter election results without detection. All machines had the same password hard-wired into the code. And in some instances, it was set at 1111, a number laughably easy to hack. Because there is no paper or electronic auditing system in the machine, there would be no way to reconstruct an actual vote, Rubin said."

In October 2003, Andrew Gumbel reported in the Independent (UK) that " Next year's US presidential election may be compromised by new voting machines that computer scientists believe are unreliable, poorly programmed and prone to tampering."

"An investigation published in today's Independent reveals tens of thousands of touch screen voting machines may be less reliable than the old punchcards, which famously stalled the presidential election in Florida in 2000, leaving the whole election open to international ridicule.

If you go to the link, all the important words are hyperlinked, and there’s a nice CV of text based info on the subject as well.

This post was prompted by the good people over Raw Story and BradBlog, who drop this little bomb of an interview:

In exclusive stunning admissions to The BRAD BLOG some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a "Diebold Insider" is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc's electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" -- as well as "top government officials" -- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's main "GEM Central Tabulator" software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.

Pointing to a little-noticed "Cyber Security Alert" issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold -- who "for the time being" is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company -- is charging that Diebold's technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it.

"Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal," the insider, who we'll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The BRAD BLOG via email. "In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold's technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated."

In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a "culture of fear" had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.

The "Cyber Security Alert" from US-CERT was issued in late August of 2004 and is still available online via the US-CERT website . The alert warns that "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could [ sic: allow] a local or remote authenticated malicious user [ sic: to] modify votes."

Again, plenty of live links in the body of the text for your perusal.

Now, I’m prone to intense moments of CTism, and proudly don my chapeau de foil when I get going, usually after a couple of glasses of cheap Australian wine. But even when I’m serious, I can’t shake the feeling that something is very, very wrong with voting in this country. After all, even if most political discourse is a game, filled with rhetoric and nonsense designed to distract people from the real issues, you’d think politicians would at least care that the people they go to all that trouble to manipulate into voting for them will have those votes properly tabulated?

Well, the problem seems to me to be entirely one sided. I don’t want to reveal his name, as he was kind enough to promptly respond to my e-mail, but I had an exchange last year with one of Kerry’s “legal team” a professor at a top-ten university law school, about the OH results and other areas that were in question (at least in the minds of us following e-voting issues). He had written a nice op-ed in a leading national daily about OH, and while it was good to see this issue in print, the wording of the piece struck me as all together too timid, and basically not in anyway reflective of the seriousness of the problem or possibility it entailed for representative democracy. I said as much to him in the e-mail, and he responded that essentially, he and most members of Kerry’s team were “just learning about the problem” and didn’t really understand it very well.

There have been several bills introduced into the House relating to such ‘fixes’ as making electronic machines produce a paper trail, and other suggestions about how to increase the level of confidence people feel for computerized voting. Russ Holt has introduced at least two that I know of. Interestingly, there haven’t been any Republican co-sponors for these bills. Not that they’re into bipartisanship so much, but still, you’d think a couple of them would worry for a future day then Democrats were in power, and the system could be used against Republican interests. Yet that’s not a concern. Hmmmm.

Very simply, problems with electronic voting have become so widespread, and so well documented, that it’s an issue well beyond CT land and one that sits squarely in the mainstream. I can think of stories I’ve read, solid well researched pieces in major publications, detailing problems in CA, NC, TX, FL and of course OH. Click on the links provided so far and follow the rabbit hole, I promise you it goes very, very deep.

I have two points to make about what this means for 06. The first is that people concerned with this issue shouldn’t assume that the Republicans have a master computer hidden somewhere in Virginia that’s linked to every voting machine in the nation, and which they control with the push of a button. That may be true, but it’s probably not- a more subtle and more difficult to track method is being employed, I think. As many researchers on the issue have noted, vote tampering doesn’t have to happen everywhere, just a few strategically located precincts. One large precinct can turn the results for a whole region, and when there are a lot of votes to be tallied, it’s “more likely” that unusual results are statistical probabilities. It’s a very hard thing to do, even for computer experts and dedicated activists, to predict, observe and prove vote tampering in the areas in which it occurs- we just can’t know which the tamperers will choose.

Adjunct to this point is that the old-fashioned, time honored methods of vote tampering are also still a concern. One needn’t fuck with electronic vote tallies if one prevents people from voting in the first place. OH is the prime example here, where in 2004 thousands of people in urban areas and on college campuses were give insufficient numbers of voting machines, resulting in long lines and probably fewer (Democratic) votes. There are also ID scams, intimidation, voter ‘tests’ and all the other tricks that have been employed for decades, mainly to keep black people from voting but I’m sure still used today for anyone leaning left. So we have to remember not to underestimate those who’d prevent democratic representation from happening. They use lots of tricks, and fruadulent tallying of e-voting is only one way that can happen.

The second point I’d like to make is about the word “moot.” As in, everything else progressive and liberals do to get a Democratic majority in 06 is a complete waste of time until we have some kind of guarantee that votes will be counted. Now, I’m not naive enough to suggest we can have 100% of the votes counted and 100% of voters who want to vote voting. Shit, I’d settle for 87% at this point, and I know we’ve never had a truly free and fair election in the history of this country. But when one reviews the long, depressing list of races in 2000. 2002, and 2004 that had very questionable results, counting methods and/or verification procedures, it becomes obvious that if something isn’t done soon, we may as all start singing Deutschland Uber Alles and be done with it.

I am honestly puzzled, frightened and confused by the lack of Democratic leadership on this issue. Truly- even the most sold out corporate DINO hack has got to worry that his seat isn’t secure enough to prevent a more sold out more corporate Republican hack from taking his place. But they don’t. I don’t know if this is because the consultants are telling them the issue “doesn’t play in Peroria” or because it really is a giant conspiracy and the “opposition” is in on the game. But whatever the reason keeping them back, Democrats are beyond the level of Chamberlinesque stupidity and naiveté for not making this a central focus.

I was just reading about the leader of Jewish quarter in Lodz during WWII, Chiam Rumkowski. You may remember him, for his policies of “saving the body by cutting off a limb” in which he worked with the Nazis, and sent off some groups of Jews to the gas chambers in the hope that the rest could be spared. None were, and he himself was shipped off on the last train. I wonder if his Nazi masters laughed as he went.

No I don’t.

I’m not going to get into “what can be done” about the machines themselves, as there are too many issues I don’t fully understand. One I do: it’s probably already too late, assuming every Republican was personally visited by God today and had a change of heart and voted in favor of Holt’s bill, to replace the currently installed voting machines with ones that could be trusted, if there is such a thing. I vote in a small town in rural WI, and we used paper, pencils and a box guarded by two old ladies who play bridge with my mom. As far as I could tell, my vote was counted and it didn’t cost much to do so. In my opinion, this system could be employed everywhere, even in initiative heavy states, simply by reducing the number of people who vote in a single location. More places to vote, fewer people voting there, and paper and pencil that everyone can use. Don’t hand me that crap about the blind or otherwise disabled not being able to vote in this system- I worked in a group home for severely disabled people long enough to know that there are ways to protect their rights and people motivated to do so. Those people can help them vote, even as the rest of us accept that there’s nothing wrong with simplicity, especially in voting. IIRC, it’s how they do it in Canada, and results are in the same night.

Crap, this post got long, so I’ll wrap it up with this: every time you open your mouth to speak of politics, to your lover, family, coworkers and friends, and most especially when you talk to a politician or their representative, BRING UP THIS ISSUE. If you don’t, all the marches and letters and e-mails in the world aren’t going to make a rat’s ass worth of difference. There is literally no other issue more important than this in 06. I welcome suggestions and comments about how best to address this problem.

One thing is clear: the Democratic leadership isn’t doing shit about it. That leaves it in our hands. Don’t give yourself a future in which you look out from behind bars waiting your turn for the torture chamber, wishing desperately that you’d gotten off your fat ass back in 2005, when the last threads of democracy were still strong enough to have prevented its death.

President Toolittletoolate Swings into action on disaster plans 

What did it take to get this man's attention? Thousands of deaths, that's what. Four years, and one election cycle, after 9/11! Unbelievable? All too believable

Disaster planning must be a "national security priority," he said, while ordering the Homeland Security Department to undertake an immediate review of emergency plans in every major American city.

"Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters and disease outbreaks or a terrorist attack, for evacuating large numbers of people in an emergency and for providing the food and water and security they would need," Bush said.
(via AP)

And notice, not a word about doing a little prevention—like protecting America's port cities from loose nukes.

Hey, what are the odds the Republicans are actually going to fund this mandate? New York is still waiting for the rest of its 9/11 money!

Fool Me Once 

According to the Grey Lady,
President Bush said three things last night that desperately needed to be said. He forthrightly acknowledged his responsibility for the egregious mishandling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He spoke clearly and candidly about race and poverty. And finally, he was clear about what would be needed to bring back the Gulf Coast and said the federal government would have to lead and pay for that effort.

Really? Let's go to the tape:

"Forthrightly acknowleg[ing] his responsibility":
I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority. And therefore, I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review, in cooperation with local counterparts, of emergency plans in every major city in America. I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina. The storm involved a massive flood, a major supply and security operation, and an evacuation order affecting more than a million people.

Translation: I didn't do it.

"Speaking clearly and candidly about race":
That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.
Translation: It was broke when I got here.

What needs to be done:
And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely.

Translation: Taxpayers as-yet unborn will pay for all this. Now who wants some free pie?

Once again, as he did after 9/11, Mr. Bush has responded to disaster with disconcerting uncertainty, then risen to the occasion later. Once again, he has delivered a speech that will reassure many Americans that he understands the enormity of the event and the demands of leadership to come.

Yes, those Americans who think we found WMD in Iraq will be reassured. Also people who think they really won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

But there are plenty of reasons for concern. After 9/11, Mr. Bush responded not only with a stirring speech at the ruins of the World Trade Center and a principled response to the Taliban in Afghanistan. He also decided to invade Iraq, and he tried to do it on the cheap - with disastrous results, for which the country continues to pay every day.

Yes, that was the only problem: we didn't spend enough money to unnecessarily and mendaciously invade a country that had not attacked us.

This time, Mr. Bush must come up with a more coherent and well-organized follow-through.

Because, you know, a more incoherent, disorganized--not to mention dishonest and callous--follow-through would be something we really don't want to think about.

Opportunity Knox 

An unindicted co-conspirator sent me this. If you're planning to head for DC for the antiwar rally on the 24th, maybe leave a little early?

Drilling would devastate one of America's last great wild places. And, contrary to claims from the pro-drilling lobby, it would do nothing to alleviate high gas prices. Oil and gas from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge wouldn't hit the market for 10 years and even then would provide less than a one-year supply! Lawmakers plan to vote in just weeks on the Budget Reconciliation Act, which is widely expected to legalize harmful oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Activists from all over the country will rally in Washington on September 20 in support of the refuge. Sign up for the rally now or send a message to your Senators and Representative in Congress. This may be our last chance to save this special place. Will you help?

The caribou will thank you.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Government Came Riding 


The storm it was a coming up the whole damn coast
It caught us with our pants down, and turned us into toast
It broke down a few levees, a thing quite unforeseen
And the waters flooded into town, they flooded New Orleans

The government was set to go, was chomping at the bit
It made itself a pot of joe and lit a cigarette
It went outside in darkness and loaded up the truck
Then stood awhile and stretched a bit, before it passed the buck

The government came riding, true heros with a plan
They made the calls that mattered, they took a manly stand
They organized the rescue teams, and put them next to cops
They proved they were so talented at staging photo ops

The President he showed up, weary from his rest
All those days in Crawford had not left him at his best
He strode into the daylight, the hero of the town
He could not hear the clapping of the floaters all face down

The President admired the work of FEMA's number one
He joked about Trent Lott's house, his moment in the sun
It's just another party for the leader of the land
New Orleans lay in ruins while George Bush struck up the band

When history is written, when all is said and done
Remember all the good things, and all the good clean fun
The city will be built again, and jazz will fill the air
And Mardi Gras will walk on by with ghosts from everywhere


(the voice I heard singing these lyrics belonged to Johnny Cash, a man eternal)

Image from here.

Crossposted at Correntewire and at Mortaljive.


Goodnight, moon 

Snarfle. Sigh. Heaves bottle under bed.

Inerrant Boy, Master of Subject-Verb Agreement! 

It looks like even Bush's speech writers are deserting the ship. Or somebody read the speech to him wrong over His earpiece:

I am speaking to you from the city of New Orleans, nearly empty, still partly underwater, and waiting for life and hope to return.
(via AP)

Because if you read the actual words, "nearly empty," "partly underwater," and "waiting for life and hope to return" all apply to the subject of the sentence—Bush himself!

So, let's fill in a little context, striking out the subordinate clause:

I am speaking to you from the city of New Orleans, [my mind, heart, and soul] nearly empty, [the polls] still partly underwater, and waiting for life and hope to return [in the form of billions of dollars for Halliburton to loot].

Say, this project is going to go on for a long time, right? Who'll take bets on the idea that Bush is going to get a big-pay, no-show job reconstructing the New New Orleans? Say, at Halliburton?

UPDATE Egad, I just plowed through the thing. Did it seem as long as it reads?

Two Hands 

Frederick Douglass said it (albeit in a different context):

Men in earnest don't fight with one hand, when they might fight with two, and a man drowning would not refuse to be saved even by a colored hand.

The Blind Begin To See, The Deaf To Hear 

Americans gather in preparation for the presidential press conference.

Bush finally sinks below 40% approval rating in 2 polls:
    1. Ipsos-AP 39% overall approval, 59% disapproval; and
    2. Newsweek 38% overall approval, 55% disapproval.
Ruy Texiera at Donkey Rising has more good news:
"Other polls report approval ratings that are exactly at 40 percent or only slightly above: Pew Research Center (40 percent in two different polls, September 6-7 and September 8-12); Zogby (41 percent); CBS News, Time/SRBI and Washington Post/ABC News (all at 42 percent). (Note that in the ABC poll, the 57 percent who disapprove of Bush’s job performance includes 45 percent who strongly disapprove, an amazing finding.)"
He concludes with a bit from E.J.Dionne that is simply heart-warming, but his own conclusion isn't bad either:
"So: the public now has a negative view of Bush’s job performance overall and in every area, including handling the war on terror, and has lost faith in Bush’s special qualities as a leader. What’s left? Not much. The bond between Bush and the American people has clearly been broken, perhaps irrevocably. An administration that was once defined in the public eye with competence and patriotism is now associated with cronyism and incompetence of the worst sort."
Too bad it took untold torment and needless deaths yet uncounted to get it through our thick skulls.

Stealthy John Roberts: So why was Bush's first choice? 

Because he enables torture, naturally!

I saw this by Nat Hentoff in (of all places) the Bucks County Courier Times print edition, but, for some reason, in, oh, the Times or anything:

[A] key decision on the president's view of his powers as commander in chief, Judge Roberts joined with two of his colleagues in the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld; the ruling gave this and succeeding presidents the unreviewable power to bypass civilian courts -- and previous due-process protections of our military courts -- in the treatment of prisoners suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan has been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for three years. He is now being put before a military commission (a process invented by the Bush administration), which prevents Hamdan from being in the room during crucial parts of the hearing. In addition, his attorney cannot see secret evidence against Hamdan. Moreover, the presiding officer can admit previous evidence extracted by torture. Most crucially, the final appeal is only to President Bush or his designee.

As Emily Bazelon -- a legal issues writer for Slate and contributing editor to Yale's Legal Affairs magazine -- emphasizes: "Roberts signed on to a blank-check grant of power to the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections."

Yet in Rasul et al v. Bush, the Supreme Court, in a 6-to-3 vote (with Sandra Day O'Connor in the majority) ruled on June 28, 2004, that noncitizens detained in Guantanamo Bay are entitled to due process before a neutral official body. However, in addition to the Bush military commissions denying the basic elements of due process, Hamdan's appeal brief to the Supreme Court by Georgetown University law professor Neil Katyal makes this telling point:

New York Times reporter Neil Lewis disclosed on Aug. 1, 2005, that some of the military prosecutors involved in Hamdan's proceedings were so concerned at its lack of fairness that they charged "the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants (including Hamdan) would be 'handpicked' to ensure that all would be convicted."

In deciding this case, Judge Roberts also accepted "without reservation" the government's argument that strips U.S. detainees of the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners, which this country had ratified.

Jonathan Freiman, an expert appellate attorney involved in this case and a senior fellow at Yale Law School, points out that in this part of the ruling, Roberts disregarded "the plain text of the Constitution's Supremacy clause, which unambiguously states 'all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.'"
Keep in mind, adds Freiman, the Geneva Conventions are a treaty that "binds this nation to the rest of the civilized world."

It's not surprising, therefore, that Yale Law School professor Oona Hathaway, a former clerk to Justice O'Connor, whom Roberts would replace, told The New York Times on July 24, 2005, that the elevation of Roberts "could recenter the court" in the direction of unchecked presidential powers.

The Hamdan decision goes far beyond the specific case itself. It also encompasses the abuses of prisoners, such as torture, beyond Guantanamo Bay -- ongoing crimes that Congress so far has refused to fully investigate up the chain of command.
(via Decatur Daily Democrat)

So much for all that crap about deference and humility and precedent and all that.

Roberts is a made man. I don't care how cute his kids are.

Say, wasn't Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that case that Roberts had not yet decided in Bush's favor, at the same time Bush was interviewing him for a job? Of course it was. Why then didn't Roberts recuse himself? The question answers itself, doesn't it?

Bush the bad Dad 

So, Bush is going to have billions at Halliburton "folks" in Louisiana.

Reminds me of the kind of drunk Dad who rolls in, trashes the house, gropes the sitter, starts screaming abuse, and then crashes in front of a blasting TV while Mom and the kids hide out upstairs.

And in the morning he goes out and buys a whole lot of expensive gifts you don't really like to make up for it.

And acts like nothing's happened.

Momma told me not to come... 

From Counterpunch comes a story authored by Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, who were in New Orelans attending an EMS conference at the time of Hurricane Katrina's arrival. Trapped in town for days, they at one point organized and made for the New Orleans Bridge, having been assured by local police that buses awaited them on the other side...

As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions.

Let the games begin.



Atrios points us to a discussion by Matt Yglesias over at Tapped, that like a lot of “mainstream” stuff I read, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

But in the back and forth about Hillary, and the war as an issue the dems should or shouldn’t ‘run on,’ I found myself having this thought. Bear with me as I get a little less cynical and think strategically.

First off, Hackett proved that with the right candidates, Dems can win (or come damn close to it) even in the Reddest zones of the country. And seeing as how this is OH we’re talking about, who even knows that he lost....but I’ll shelve that thinking for a moment. The point is that loud, angry, tough and pro-soldier/anti-war is a solid combination, one that will likely work in 06.

Now we have Katrina in the mix, and while that’s a crisis that ‘only’ affects poor black people, it’s still the case that people aren’t so happy to see an entire American city lost like Atlantis. That anger isn’t going to go away, however muted or buried under fresh seasons of American Idol it may become. The anger won’t go away because the bill for it will arrive right around the time that the teevee has caused most Americans’ eyes to glaze over with aspic-sugary layers of HDTV happiness. And while Joe Six Pack may not know what that bill is, he will know the bill that comes in the form of reduced unemployment benefits, higher real taxation, no medical coverage, floundering schools for his kids, and every other state or federal service that is cut to feed the twin horrors of Bush’s war to enrich Halliburton and the Disaster that funded Brown & Root. There’s that $4/gal gas thing too,. Which impacts those really unimportant things like food, AC/heating costs, getting to work, etc.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that for once, the political landscape will be so heavily in our favor as to be almost impossible for Bush’s opposition to lose. Note I say “opposition” and not “democrats.” The Democratic Party has yet to show that it’s an opposition party, beyond a few lonely voices in the CBC and the excellent Dr. Dean. But there’s still time for that to change. Whatever language Yglesias is accustomed to probably isn’t going to be helpful, that is, the language of Hillary and Lieberman and other insider types who love sucking 9-time loser consultant cock. Plain language, language filled with anger, passion, heck, even old fashioned patriotism, that cuts through the nonstop lies upon which at this point even the Dittoheads are choking.

I always said the man they feared most was Dean. And I always wondered why they tried to stick the angry label on him, what’s wrong with a little anger? I’ve since realized that it’s the one thing they can’t counter effectively, the thing they’re most afraid of, the thing that even the sheeple-murkin can relate to and enjoy. The thing that cuts through their happy-shiny-feel-good cowboy schtick, and keeps a base active and motivated.

If the dems where smart, and yes, I know most of the aren’t, they’d do a couple of things nonstop from now until 06.

-Get angry.
-Stay angry.
-Talk in plain, blunt terms about why they are angry.
-Use words like “lie,” and “cheat” and “steal” and “kill.” preferably in the same sentence as “rove” and “bush.” over and over and over.
-Drop the congressional ball and stand at the side of the field. Let the rethugs pass whatever they want, set up whichever crony they can find, hold all the dog-and-pony show hearings they’d like. Stay on message. “This nomination is a farce, because the nominee is a crony and a liar.” “This bill is nothing more than more money for Halliburton, which has already cheated American taxpayers out of $2.5Billion in a war based on lies.” Hold up a piece of proof while doing so.

And most importantly, don’t shy away from the camera. Call the Timmehs and Needras of the world “liars” to their faces- let them disprove it, mock them as they try. Put on a good show! And look like you’re having fun while doing it.

The Republicans have brought back fascism. To many, it looks mean and manly and fun and sexy all at the same time. But most people are also starting to feel a personal cost to this kind of game in government. It’s time to make our stand, the moon and stars are aligned, and what I’m proposing won’t require Americans to change from their conditioning from the last six years very much. As a product, it’ll feel new and fresh. As a strategy, it will entice new supporters to come out for the Democrats and old ones to get happy, active and confident again. Wins all around.

No, I don’t think any Dem of note will read this, follow it as advice, or care that I wrote it. But I felt like saying it.

The Pledge of All Litigants 

Image hosted by


I pledge forbearance
To the clothtacular stars & stripes
Of the Omnivorous States of Plutocracy Heights
And to the lock-step Republicans
With cash in hands
Der obere Vater gewährt Wünsche*
With Liberty and Justice for people who can afford such perks


Now, class, let's turn to page 61 and find out why Adam liked the Velociraptors best...


Crossposted at Mortaljive.

Image of Über Pater from here.


*"The Upper Father Grants Wishes"


His Mooney, Mooney Face* 

Apologies to* XTC

Book Alert: Chris Mooney, much like the Ross Ice Shelf, has embarked on a world tour. Well, at least a book tour. chris mooney

Leah wrote about Chris recently here, and covered his new book, The Republican War on Science, she wrote here, and got Corrente a mention on his website, no less.

He interviewed on the BBC 2 weeks ago, and impressed me so much I did some research on him and remarked on it here. Now he will be on Terry Gross' Fresh Air today, on those NPR/Public Radio stations that carry her show.

This is what Chris has to say about the impending interview:

"My interview with Terry Gross is slated to air tomorrow (Sept 15th). It appears that it will be paired with at least some commentary from GOP science policy spokesman Robert Walker. That should be interesting; I doubt Walker will be writing a love letter to the book."
Interesting at the very least.

As usual, the audio of the interview will be made available later today on the website linked here. As good a reason as any to keep supporting NPR and your local public radio.

Photo from Mooney website, taken by Saheli.

Operation Poll Number Prop Commencing 

You know there are times when you really have to hand it to the Bush White House. They'll do and say absolutely anything to save their political bacon. Anything. They'll betray their own values, conservatism, fiscal responsibility, everything that they supposedly hold dear -- all to save their own asses.

Anyway, let's go ahead and recap the situation: Your administration has just badly bungled the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster to the tune of (probably) more than a thousand dead. Predictably, poll numbers are dropping fast, nearing Nixonian low points. This president is likely to go down as the least popular on average since Herbert Hoover. Heck, I suspect Jimmy Carter was more popular probably on average than this guy has been.

So, here's your administration's "solution" to this political problem: Propose an enormous aid package to rebuild the Gulf Coast -- estimates I'm hearing now are on the order of $200B in addition to the $60B you've already appropriated. Look at that number again, folks. That's $260B more borrowed to pay for these projects. And you've hemmed your opponents in politically by doing this. Any criticism can be portrayed as unpatriotic and even (get this) "racist" (and I assure you it will be).

What will be the consequences of this "solution?": A deficit that will soon be consuming so much of our annual outlays that there will be no room for funding anything. This will lead to a deficit problem like we've never seen before I suspect. And then W will hand off this fiscal disaster to his successor and head off into the sunset.

Now, folks, don't get me wrong. I think this sort of program sounds like a good idea. I would just suggest that we actually figure out a way to actually pay for it. How about you? Why don't we roll back W's tax cuts and actually raise taxes on the rich folks a bit? If we did that, then we could afford this.

And who will benefit from this enormous aid package? Eventually, of course, the people of the Gulf Coast but the real winners will be the president's corporate cronies. Halliburton will be rolling in dough.

It'll cost two or three times as much as it would if we'd actually follow federal bidding guidelines but, hey, who wants to do that? Why, when you can enrich your corporate contributors, would you ever do that?

The sheer mendacity and amoral political opportunism behind this thing is absolutely amazing.

I really don't know what else to say. I'm at a loss.

Listening to the Trees 

Here’s some reading that will piss you off, if you care about things like money and fairness in government contracts and the rights of a sovereign people:

Similarly, a United Nations sanctioned audit concluded that about half of the $5 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds could not be accounted for because of poor financial controls, according to the "Development Fund of Iraq-Report of Factual Findings in connection with Disbursements from January 1, 2004 to 28 June 2004, by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, in September 2004

Until the summer of 2004, the CPA refused to release the names of companies that were awarded contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. Although information was available about US funded contracts, there was no public information available about companies paid with Iraqi money. In August 2004, information was finally made available for contracts valued at more than $5 million. But to this day, no details have been released about contracts worth less than $5 million.

An analysis of the data released in August 2004, showed that the CPA had awarded 85% of the contracts to US and UK firms. By contrast, Iraqi companies received a mere 2% of the contracts paid for with Iraqi funds.

and of course, the money quote:
But the fact remains that Halliburton received 60% of all contracts paid for with Iraqi money, even after it was proven time and time again that its projects involved fraud on every front, from paying over $6 million in kickbacks to a Kuwaiti contractor; to charging for three times as many meals as the company actually served to soldiers; to spending millions on laundry and monogrammed towels; to running up costs by driving empty trucks back and forth across Iraq; to leasing overpriced vehicles from Kuwaiti purchasing offices.

So the fact that the same people who brought you a ‘reconstructed’ iraq are going to bring you New New Orleans is very comforting, I’m sure. Especially to this young man.

Freedom isn't free. 21 just yesterday. Was once religious, no longer believe. God wouldn't allow such pain. The war is against religion, must stop it to defend the country. Almost in tears. Knee blown out. Chest. Scar. Fighting for brothers. Fighting with brothers. No one understands. honor. repeat. honor. Fighting for country. Captured. Razor. No air support when needed. Politics. Will fight for country. Children. Killed. Honor. Freedom. Fighting for country. No one understands. 14 months. Honor. Brothers. Dude, have a beer. Tag some pussy. Children. Backpacks. Ammunition. Fought for country, for freedom. Will end up in hell.

Some days, there just doesn’t seem to be anything to say to this hell we’re all living in. And I feel guilty even whining, I’m not the 21 year old in the bar going crazy or the starving Iraqi family watching billions meant for them get spent on the fat asses in the green zone.

But eventually, the party has to come to an end, right? Right?

Knowing that, the Fed is engaging in self-delusion when it relies on a measured-paced interest-rate policy to deal with a runaway debt bubble sourced globally. For the Fed, the debt bubble is already too big to burst. The only option is to keep feeding it, albeit at a slower pace. The measured-pace interest-rate policy is merely an attempt to slow the bubble's rate of expansion, not to stop it, much less to burst it. But a measured-paced interest-rate policy will not slow the economy enough for a soft landing. It will only prolong the bubble for a bigger bang at the end.

I'm going outside, where I will listen to the sound of the trees growing and the birds singing. It's something, and I need to clear the angry buzzing in my head.

"The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Wrecks The World" 

Goodnight, moon 

I can't wait for Bush's speech tomorrow; I like gymnastics, and I'm hoping to Bush execute the Rovian Death Spiral.

NOTE Minor color and format tweaks here at the renovated Mighty Corrente Building based on your feedback, including one especially for alert reader pansypoo.

And so to bed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

So why pay $49.95 to the Times when there's WaPo 

Froomkin, once more... Is "lays the smackdown" the right expression? Again, how is it that Froomkin is still at large, walking the streets? Why hasn't he had an "accident," or been the target of a Republican slime operation? Could it be the worms are finally turning?

puzzling exchange between Bush and reporters in Bush's afternoon photo op.

"Asked about Mr. Brown's resignation after he toured a school in Mississippi on Monday afternoon, Mr. Bush declined to comment. He told reporters, 'Maybe you know something we don't know.'

"He pointedly brushed off questions about how Mr. Brown and the administration had handled the storm, saying 'don't ask me again' about the subject."

But, Stevenson writes: "Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, later told reporters aboard Air Force One on the trip back to Washington that Mr. Bush was informed on Monday morning of Mr. Brown's resignation but was not sure when asked about it whether the decision had been made public."

Several reporters and bloggers jumped on Bush's statement as an admission of ignorance -- and therefore as a symptom of his detachment. But in fact, it was more a symptom of his duplicity.
(via WaPo)

I guess Froomkin isn't looking for many dinner invitations from the Kewl Kidz ...

Some questions for Inerrant Boy 

The Amazin' Froomkin (how is it even possible that the man is still at large) has some rather pointed questions for Dear Leader:

Bush hasn't taken more than a few questions at a time from the press corps in almost three and a half months -- since May 31.

But even in his short press availabilities, it would be worth trying to get meaningful answers about his state of mind. Because how he personally feels about the crisis and whether or not he shares the concerns of so many Americans is turning into a key issue. And ducking those sorts of questions is harder.

So here are some questions that might be more fruitful than others:
  • Sir, what were your personal feelings when you first grasped the enormity of what had happened along the Gulf Coast? And about when was that?
  • Sir, apparently many African Americans believe that the federal government was slow in rescuing people stranded in New Orleans because many of those people were black and poor. I know you've denied that was the case, but do you understand why they might feel that way?


  • Sir, you've said countless times that you don't govern based on the polls. But can you explain the polls? You are not a popular president anymore. How do you think that happened?
  • Sir, it is increasingly said that you operate in a bubble, sealing yourself away from dissenting voices, and on those rare occasions that people tell you bad news, you yell at them. Doesn't that make it harder for you to make intelligent decisions?

(via WaPo)

Hard to add to that... Then again, readers?

Taking responsibility 

We already saw Bush flawlessly execute The Incredible Triple Weasel:

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.
(via back)

And at the time, alert reader acorn asked us to give a "reasonable" example of what Bush could have said. The Democratic governor of Louisiana shows acorn how it's done:

"We all know that there were failures at every level of government: state, federal and local. At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again. The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility," Blanco told lawmakers in a special meeting of the Louisiana Legislature.
(via AP)

No verbal gymastics, no weaselingl

Four little words: "The buck stops here."

Why is it so hard for Bush to say that?

Open your minds, open the door! 

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And yet I live...

When rules come up against reality, reality often finds humans to go up against the rules. We are reality. Make it happen. Save a life. Give. Open one more door than you might have. Give one more dollar. Turn your head away one less time. No, we don't get a break much these days. Breaks are over for awhile.


Via Atrios.


Crossposted at Mortaljive.


There And Back Again, Again 

Best line E.J. Dionne has ever written (emphasis mine):
Bush was, indeed, skilled in identifying enemies and rallying a nation already disposed to action. He failed to realize after Sept. 11 that it was not we who were lucky to have him as a leader, but he who was lucky to be president of a great country that understood the importance of standing together in the face of a grave foreign threat.
Indeed we did. But instead of being grateful to all of us for the ninety-plus percent of support we offered him, despite the deeply questionable way in which he attained the Presidency, this President and this presidency treated the citizenry of this democratic republic as a passive audience who should be grateful for the fine show, almost pageant-like, of supposed toughness and leadership they thought was all they owed to us, while we owed to them, in addition to eternal gratitude, total acceptance of anything and everything they wished to do, no questions to be asked, tolerated, and surely never answered. Not even how it was that 9/11 had happened.

If you haven't yet read Dionne's whole column, it's here.

For a fascinating gloss on our relentless quest to bring accountability to the shameless incompetence and corruption of this administration, don't miss Mark Schmitt's discussion at TMPCafe:
I think of Rove as looking at past presidencies and seeing them as weakened because they worried too much about consequences that didn't really matter, such as the judgment of history or short-term popularity. Bush 41 thought that he had to do something about the deficit, or there would be consequences. So he got drawn into the Andrews Air Force Base budget summit, which earned him a fight within his own party. But Rove recognizes that there's a lot you can get away with if you just act like you can get away with it, especially if you raise the stakes, and as a result he moves with much greater freedom. It seems to me that part of their genius is they've gotten rid of much of the "you just can't do that" mentality of politics, and stripped everything down to the bare essence of what they can get away with."
The whole post is a must-read, especially if we on the liberal/left are to succeed in taking advantage of this presidency's initial stumble in handling "Katrina," and hold them to account for the way they handle it's aftermath, not in some abstract manner, not by polls, but by convincing vast swathes of voters across the country that there is a better way to conduct democratic governance.

Julia and Sisyphus Shrugged are so excellent, so dead-on, with a style so crisp, edgy and pithy, it's sometimes difficult to link as often as I want to. Post-Katrina, her moral passion reaches the sublime. Go there and just start scrolling, and be sure not to miss this post or this one.

In a similar vein as that last post of Jullia's, don't miss Lance Mannion on what's behind the media's oddly variant takes on George W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton.

The Poor Man is playing with those Power Tools again, need I say more? Just click here.

As I warned you here, we're devoting ourselves in a series of posts to hyping Chris Mooney's just published, "THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE," except it's so good you can't really hype it. In subsequent posts we'll discuss why we think this book is so critical to organizing a cohesive movement to change control of congress in 2006, and why you'll want to read it, why you must read it, and why we all need to work to make the book a best-seller.

For now, I can report that Mooney has received a rave in Salon, and as fervent a pan at the NY Post, both require registration but both are worth a read.

Henry I. Miller, a physician and a Fellow at the Hoover Institute who established and headed the Office of Bio-Technology in the FDA from 1997 to 1994, is the attack-dog for the radical right, and his Post review is every bit as tiresome, sophomoric, and polemical as he unjustly claims Chris Mooney is being in his book.

In fact, the review fits the mold of argumentation that Mooney shows is common to much right-wing Republican rhetoric. Mooney's fundamental integrity is questioned, the evidence for which turns out to be the central thesis of his book, to wit, that though the left is not without sin in attempting to use and thereby abusing science, what has happened on the right, in the body of the Republican Party is something wholly other.
But Mooney's denials that there have been equivalent misdemeanors by the political left are wholly unconvincing. Like many critics of the Bush administration, he seems to have experienced an overnight epiphany about the importance of defensible science policy, and this raises doubt about his sincerity.
First, what Chris Mooney elucidates in his book are hardly misdemeanors, and second, after admitting exactly such minor criticisms of the Bush administration, Dr. Miller asserts that both President Clinton and Vice-President Gore were manic manipulators of the field of science in pursuit of their political goals:
Never has American government been burdened with such politically motivated, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-business, anti-social eco-babble as during the Clinton-Gore years.
In defense of that fulsome indictment, Miller offers no names, no examples, no specific incidents. Granted, this is a short review, but where, pray tell, if America suffered through eight years of such felonious folly, is the book about the "Democrat War On Science?"

Oh, and just in case you're overly impressed by that M.D and "Fellow" after Mr. Miller's name, here's an interesting discussion from The National Review online, circa June, 2004, about Al Gore's sanity, which I found genuinely revelatory:
It is now clear that Al Gore is insane," John Podhoretz wrote in his New York Post column last week, after Gore's recent anti-Bush administration tirades. "I don't mean that his policy ideas are insane, though many of them are. I mean that based on his behavior, conduct, mien and tone over the past two days, there is every reason to believe that Albert Gore Jr., desperately needs help. I think he needs medication, and I think that if he is already on medication, his doctors need to adjust it or change it entirely."

John is not a physician, but he's half right. Al Gore appears to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not treatable with medications.

Consider the diagnostic criteria for this malady:

"A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," as indicated by the following:

"a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)." Gore demonstrated his grandiosity repeatedly. Who can forget his notorious claim that he had been responsible for creating the Internet?
Ah, the precision of science and medicine; actually that screed fails as art, as writing, and most of it fails as fact.

We're not the only bloggers excited about this book; here's Amanda at Pandagon, Kevin Drum Henry at Crooked Timber.

Worth looking at, the webpage for the book, and here it is at Amazon.

Gimme That Old Time Supernatural Murder 

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I saw God and Jesus
Walking into town
Both of them were packing
Both of them did frown

They were on a mission
To kill the sodomites
They stood outside The Puckered Hole
And then began to shout:

"What you boys are doing
With your penises just ain't right
A suckin' and a fuckin'
Morning, noon and night

It's time we put a stop to this
And for that we have a scheme:
Let's kill the elderly and poor
In evil New Orleans"

Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
He sure casts a nasty stone

It's really just a test of faith
When a Christian baby dies
Or when daddy gets his head blown off
Fighting those Arabian bad guys

But when a liberal or queer
Or mad abortionist
Is taken from this life of ours
You know that God is pissed

Nature is a bastard
And God's a bachelor plus
And if you're poor, too bad for you
Wave to Mary on the bus

Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
He sure casts a nasty stone

I saw God and Jesus
Walking into town
Both of them were packing
Both of them did frown

They were on a mission
To kill the sodomites
They stood outside The Puckered Hole
And then began to shout:

"What you boys are doing
With your penises just ain't right
A suckin' and a fuckin'
Morning, noon and night

It's time we put a stop to this
And for that we have a scheme:
Let's kill the elderly and poor
In evil New Orleans"

Drown them! Break them!
Shake them up and bake them!
Leave them in the water
So the meat falls off the bone
Glory unto Jesus
He sure casts a nasty stone
He sure casts a nasty stone


Image of enlightened Pat Robertson from here.


Crossposted at Mortaljive.


The NYT is Charging. Wow! I Don't Care. 

As usual, other people have beaten me to this story from Editor and Publisher. So I'm not only a poor speller, I'm slow. Sue me. But I just have to chime in on this one, for no other purpose than tossing in my hat in the game to Correctly Predict the Downfall of the Traditional Media. In this race we don't get ponies, but the sweet satisfaction of being right is almost enough.

I've been hearing about it for a while, but it seems the official date has been announced:

By Jay DeFoore

Published: September 13, 2005 1:40 PM ET

NEW YORK Come Monday, Sept. 19, fans of New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and David Brooks will have to break out their credit cards. Sept. 19 is the launch date of TimesSelect, a new subscription service designed to diversify the newspaper's revenue stream beyond traditional Web site advertising.

The popular Op-Ed columnists are the main selling point behind the $49.95 a year subscription. (The service will be free for the paper's home delivery subscribers). The paper's news, features, editorials, and analysis will remain free, as will interactive graphics, multimedia, and video.

It's a strong possibility that the rest of the paper ("news, features, editorials, and analysis") could eventually become a service for fee as well. I'm no bean counter, but if they make any money off The Shrill One and MoDo in the first couple of quarters, I can see the pointy heads screaming to gate off the rest of the Grey Lady's linens.

The good folks at E&P, again beating me out of bed, also note that:

Early response in the blogosphere was not positive. One popular blogger, John Aravosis at Americablog, predicted what many fans of Times' columnist might do: "People will still get copies of the articles, they'll still email them around the Net, some Web sites will still republish the entire articles illegally, and we'll end up linking to those sites instead of the New York Times (it ain't illegal to link)."

He added, commenting on "free" falling: "If the Times' idea catches on, this really could be the beginning of the end of the current state of Internet news."

(And no, I'm not dating nor do I have any designs on John. Really.)

I'm going to violently disagree with everyone who can't imagine life without the Old Grey Ho on their virtual morning doorstep. For a couple of reasons, but mainly for the fact that only recently, for the first time in over three years I registered there, and then only because I was desperate to find a link to something I knew I'd read elsewhere but failed to bookmark (it proved a waste of time in the end).

I'm not arguing in favor of being an uninformed cretin. Nor do I believe that the NYT is a politically slanted, worthless, irresponsible, error-prone, rhetorical, unsubstantiated rumor mill and shill for the socially shallow and self-segregating elite who like to read their own words in a major publication every morning. But I do know that the good people on the Internet, people like you, dear reader, have beaten the NYT to the punch more times than I can count, to my direct benefit.

It's early and I'm new to this live-linky thing, but off the top of my head, I can make the following list of stories and info that the web has discussed and explored in depth before the NYT: Jeff Gannon, Bush's DD-214, Iraq's lack of WMD, the number of Iraqi dead, Hugo Chavez's epic struggle with someone who doesn't want him in office, why Hybrid is the greatest band of all time....that's probably enough for now. I could take up a dissertation's worth of space "proving" this point, but I'm going to be lazy this morning (I do have work for pay to do soon, forgive me) and just go with my gut that in the above cases, a search would easily locate a blog or indy source that dates coverage on these stories days or weeks before the Times.

Switching gears, everyone remembers Salon? I was really unhappy when Tom decided to take the Daou Report over there, while happy for him personally. Because like a lot of radical internet junkies, I simply won't be bothered with even a "free day pass" and whatever cookies and spyware go with that to read what I can get, albeit with slightly more effort, without such trickery elsewhere. I remember a recent discussion of Old-Timers from the Well, who sounded much like disillusioned Vietnam vets who'd left the VFW due to the influx of Bush loving morons from the AFL. What was once only to be found at Salon can now be found everywhere and for free, and as they Old Timers pointed out, paying for it was basically now only for the purpose of 'keeping out the riff raff.' One person noted that the Well currently has ~4K members, while Kos' boards get ~100K...daily.

There's also the issue of comment boards and rogue posting to consider. How many of us have come upon, yea, even posted ourselves, a story onto the boards which is later posted as a main page story on this or that blog? While it's always a concern (the recent SCOTUS case relating to blogs especially) that boards will become the "responsibility" of site authors, for now, it's still safe to cut and paste relevant sections from anywhere and let the rest of the world decide if they want to go to that site and pay, register, whatever. Free news on the internet isn't going to die until this changes. John's right to note that.

But I simply refuse to believe in something I think ultimately motivates the NTY and staff: that the Internet can be made to conform to "traditional" business models. They can tax it, regulate it, restrict it, redirect it, and otherwise make it a dangerous place for the conformist and citizen concerned with certain types of status, but what they can't do is stop that kid in Finland from posting what he wants. Just as they can't make me decide that paying for MoDo is a good use of my cash. Time and time again, information has actually lived up to the cliche "it wants to be free." While some free things have (almost) gone away, a motivated person can still skirt the law and acquire information without pay, usually with a few software modifications and some careful routing.

It's telling that they chose to put their Op-Ed people behind bars first. Hmmmm. Could it be because they know that in one sense, that's the only "original" content they have? That anyone with access to AFP, the AP and their local fishwrap basically can get the "news" without them? Or could it be because they understand their only power, a waning one at that, comes from the Celebrity Status of their heavy hitters? Perhaps this is why Judy "I'm Fucking Right" Miller is still such a cause for the editors. Mystique baby, myth and mystique. It surely can't be for her looks...

Anyway, as I said at the title: I don't care if they charge for some, all, or editions that fall on days that end in "y." I have other ideas about why avoiding the Times is actually good for one's mental health, but I'll let others comment upon that. In the end, what comes to mind is the little cartoon I once saw about the new and old media. A bunch of moss-munching brontosauruses standing together looking up in the sky, as a giant, earth-shattering meteor comes hurling down from the heavens.

The dinosaurs each wore the name of a major publication, "NYT," "CBS" etc. The meteor was labeled "the internet."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I ought to be trying to chew off a limb from Stealthy John Roberts right now, but I'm tired. All those people throwing champagne glasses into the fireplace up in the library of The Mighty Corrente Building, night after night... It keeps me tired.

But seriously. Haven't we learned never to give Bush the benefit of the doubt? That when we do, it's always worse than we ever imagined could be possible?

So, why should it be any different with Roberts? (Don't forget that when Roberts was in Reagan's Solicitor General's office, under Ken Starr of blessed memory, that he was a political appointee. That means that all of the claims of privilege are horseshit. In fact, horse-they-rode-in-on shit. So, um, could it be there's some reason why the Republicans won't release the Reagan papers? I mean, release the ones that Bush's lawyers haven't lost or censored....

Ministry of silly polls 

Over at the renovated Mighty Corrente Building, What's your favorite example of Dear Leader's Verbal Gymastics? Besides the The Incredible Triple Weasel, I mean...

Remember—vote early and often!

NOTE Thanks to alert readers Tinfoil Hat Boy and Nick.

Hey, Brownie's replacement is the duct tape guy! 

I kid you not!

If President George W. Bush thought appointment of new Federal Emergency Management Agency director David Paulison would end criticism of the agency’s questionable leadership he could find that thought buried under a mountain of duct tape.

Many career FEMA professionals consider Paulison a laughing stock because of his role in the “great duct tape controversy” of 2003.

It was then that Paulison, as director of FEMA’s preparedness division, recommended that Americans stock up on “plastic sheeting and duct tape” to prepare themselves for a possible biological, chemical or nuclear attack by terrorists.

Medical experts, emergency professionals and terrorism experts ridiculed Paulison’s suggestions as “absurd” and “useless,” saying such precautions would be useless and would also give Americans a false sense of security.

Nonetheless, sales of duct tape and plastic sheeting soared for the next few days.
(via Capitol Hill Blue)

Yes, history repeats itself. The first time as black farce; the second time as ... black farce.

But shouldn't it be duck tape?

As in duck pit?

As in lame duck pit?

But did they say "Mother, may I?" with sugar on top? 

Apparently, the Republicans all love that new movie about penguins 

(via the Times.)

Wouldn't lemmings be more appropriate?

NO Property Records NOT All Lost 

If you're running for your life, remembering to grab the deed to your house is rightly way down the priority list. And, it was said, the official government documents were stored in a basement and feared lost. Much dark suspicion has been rumbling about these matters. A bit of good news, which needs more publicity:

(via the entirely Pulitzer-worthy Times-Pickayune:)
Most of the property records in the basement of Orleans Parish Civil District Court are salvageable from flood waters and may be ready to use within the next few weeks, Custodian of Notorial Records Stephen Bruno said Monday.

Stored in the courthouse basement, which took on nearly a foot of water during Hurricane Katrina, moisture was the biggest enemy to property records. Abstractors -- those who conduct the title searches that must take place before a real estate transaction closes -- should have access to them within the next few weeks, Bruno said.

The records include titles, mortgages, conveyances, liens, wills and other documents.

Munters, the Swedish records restoration company hired to preserve the nearly 12 million pages of titles, liens, mortgages and other records, is putting the documents in freeze containers to dry out, Bruno said.
This is only the records for Orleans Parish, but that is the heart of the old lowtown. And Munters is one of the best in the business, so somebody there is on the ball. Yes, the best thing to do with papers which have gotten wet is to freeze them.

When Bush "takes responsibility," always look for the weasel words 

AP's editors help the Preznit out by writing the headline—except that the headline doesn't match what Bush actually said:

Bush Takes Full Responsiblity for Katrina Blunders
(via AP)

Interesting, if true. But read on:

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

Omigod! Bush just executed an incredible triple weasel—flawlessly!

Just look at those weasel words: (1)"To the extent," (2) "fully," and (3) "right"! What a performance! That man can spin! If I were on the judge's panel, I'd give it a 9.0, except I'd have to take off a couple tenths on style, for the ears, that narrowness between the eyes, and that weird lump on his back...

And kudos to the AP editors for helping Him out with that "fully" in the headline, that's not actually part of His remarks...

Of course, Bush and the Republicans believe that the Federal government's "job" is to hold still so they can drown it (back); trashed so it can't function (back). So by those standards, Bush can feel a great deal of pride in the "job" He's done...

The Bad Magician Takes Tea With Babs 

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Tea comes from books, which grow out of the heads of corpses. The fine weathered print is dried and placed in the folds of silences, then rolled onto vast, Korean slabs. Many children gather to watch the merchants trade their fingers for the cognizant herbs: they are drinking you as you drink them. A bell rings: Babs has farted in her tub, as per her routine. It is time for The Bad Magician to convert a few hours into steam, hot iron and mordant honey. The bell rings again, and off he goes.

Deep inside the compound, a rhino woman stamps her hooves against the tile floor, shattering her veins. The Bad Magician manifests in the dead air: he plays shadow puppets in the blind spot as the flood waters of The Big Easy break the Bush Family levee, spilling onto the floor, bleeding uphill and up the stairs. The smell offends god. Babs, finished with her bath, tweaks her beard and scrunches her face into that of a giant rat, tapping her hollow yellow fangs lightly against the mirror. Her gut descended, she rump-waddles towards the kitchen. The Bad Magician smells a very large rat.

"Tea?" says The Bad Magician to the gray-skinned rodent as she sprays her head with plastic cheese. "Tea, indeed," says Babs. The waters of New Orleans splash upwards in funnels, scale model twisters of the toxic juice propel the refreshment into their cups. Babs smiles and drops a turd onto one of her shoes. The pace quickens: sugar is eaten, biscuits are crumbled and forgotten, the tea is consumed until Babs catches a whiff of her own rotting insides, looks at The Bad Magician and tsk, tsk, tsks the Dark Inn Keeper. Trouble arrives stoned when the tongues split into differing factions. More trouble when Babs cuts open her rat stomach and out jumps the young George W. Bush, cradling a dead frog beneath his chin. "Tea?" asks The Bad Magician? "No," answers the beady-eyed boy, but the tea careened in a wild flight of air and arc, raining down and soaking the memory of George--the lights flicker, demons confess, and more rhinos trash the kitchen. Jesus called, sends his regrets, maybe some other time, does enjoy a nice tea now and again.

The waters recede, light pours in like razors, Babs devolves into a puddle of foam and tree stumps. The young George cuts his heart out and gives it to his mother. She spits it out. Sirens wail and gunshots are heard. The Bad Magician enjoys a good tea now and again, but takes advantage of an insect deity and clicks his way to Fargo, where the nights are already cold. Babs rolls over and vomits up hush puppys and beer, and is still. George wants mommy to be better. Be better, mommy. He will go out that day and cut a doctor. Bush opens his eyes and finds his teeth have become long and yellow, and his speech is hard to read. Karl Rove congeals on a plate as George asks where Babs has gone off to. He suspects his father has had her murdered.

Rove snaps his fingers. George blinks, stumbles, hits his head on the sink. Blood pools in the sink, turns black, hisses at George. A new day dawns.


Image of rat's paw from here.


Brother Can You Spare Your Mind? 

Recently, a bunch of us got into it over on the comment boards at a favorite "gay" blog of mine, Americablog. Here's a comment made by one of the site's authors, a man I respect greatly and who I believe represents some of what's best in Blogtopia (whatever, Skippy).

Hold their noses? Sorry, I don't plan protests with wingnuts. And anyone who thinks this protest is about US imperialism in Cuba and Haiti (Haiti? We fucking saved Haiti) is a wingnut in my book. And worse, anyone who would join forces with ANSWER to do this protest is simply nuts. I'm not marching with the Che brigade, sorry - it's time we grew up as a party, we need to get rid of those with no backbone, but we also need to stop letting the kooks run our protests.

Get mad at me, fine, but that ain't my politics.
John Aravosis | 09.04.05 - 3:35 pm | #

Now, leaving aside the issues addressed in the original post and comments following, I want to point out a couple of ideas I had at the time. First off: even for those of us who are news junkies, as John obviously is (and a better man than I, for I believe he not only blogs, but works for pay at a full time job!), it's really, really hard for us to keep track of all the dead, dying and oppressed people around the globe. Which is fair: it's a big globe and people are very small and numerous. But I can't help but wonder, is it really that simple? Or is it the case that we're well, conditioned to care more about certain kinds of people? certain, fish-belly colored people in suits for example, who are very well represented on that shiny talking box in the living room?

In the spirit of combatting the impact of the HappyShinyTeeVee people in their war to keep you racist and stupid, and in helping out those folks who are currently experiencing Bush's form of "help," I want to direct your attention to this fine blog, where a fellow Hyde Parker has been doing an excellent round up of news and events on that poor, pitiable island known as Voodooland to most, and Haiti to some. To prove I'm really a happy, well adjusted person, here's some good news from that site:

by cntodd:
I just received the following e-mail 5 minutes ago from one of the Haiti lists I am on:

On Friday, September 9, American journalist Kevin Pina was arrested in Haiti, because he insisted on filming a search at the church of political prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. A Haitian journalist, Jean Ristil, was arrested because he photographed Pina's arrest. Both spent the weekend in prison (articles about their arrests are below).

Thanks to a mobilization in Haiti, the US and throughout the world, pressure was put on the Haitian government to stop this political persecution. Thanks to attorney Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, who represented Pina and Ristil, Judge Jean Paul Peres has released both journalists, with no further charges against them. Ristil was released early Monday, Pina was subjected to 3 and 1/2 hours of interrogation, and released just after 5 PM Haiti time.

I'm not sure if it's the lawyers, public outcry, bloggers or some combination, but it's good to know that at least this one time, journalists didn't have to get shot or imprisioned for bringing us the truth about Bush's policies. That's right, count me in the group that considers Haiti Bush's "little Iraq," where no matter which darkie is positied to be in charge, it's really Washington calling (for?) the shots.

The other point I wanted to make is about blogging itself. Now, before you slap your hand over your head and cry, "For Bloggity Blog's sake, not again!" I'll keep it simple. Because I think it's a pretty powerful point in itself. John at Americablog got a pretty serious smackdown from his readers over the issues brought up by the post itself, and a lot of knowledge got spread around really quickly. I've seen the same thing happen at most major blogs, from Eschaton to Gilly, DU to the Smirking Chimp. But what's so powerful, and so wonderful, and so amazingly liberal is the self-correcting nature of the blogoshpere when employed with reader comment sections. I'm not a newbie, and I suspect most of you reading aren't either, but I'm still and constantly amazed by what I learn from the comments. Not only "true facts," or even news before it breaks the 'mainstream' level of the big blogs, but, as John's own misstep demonstrates, how people are thinking and what the boundaries of those thoughts are, and thus the limits of the progressive media's reach.

Knowing that is both terrifying and inspirational to me.

Perhaps this is why so few of the major Right wing blogs have such comment boards. Andy 'Bareback' Sullivan and The Cornerites, are you listening?

Ma! Syria's Lookin' At Me! 

Just so you know:
"I can do more than one thing at one time," the president assured Monday on the first of two planned visits this week to the Gulf Coast."
Whew! I was worried for a minute there. You see, what with all this disaster on the Gulf Coast---and now pressure from Iraq to attack Syria, and Americans reconsidering the wisdom of tying up all our money and manpower over there and thinking maybe a partial withdrawal might not be such a bad idea---with all this going on, Bush is getting a tad skittish.

No! he screeches, I can do more than one thing at a time (though previous experience might cast doubt on even the assertion that he can do one thing at a time):
"It is preposterous to claim that the engagement in Iraq meant there wasn't enough troops here, just pure and simple."
Simply preposterous. Did he learn that word at Yale? But he goes on with this poignant plea:
"By the time I'm finished (being) president, I hope you'll realize that the government can do more than one thing at one time and individuals in the government can," Bush told reporters Monday as he wrapped up a tour of New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss. "If I'm focusing on the hurricane, I've got the capacity to focus on foreign policy and vice versa."
Focus. That's the ticket. It's just a matter of finding the right optometrist. In the meantime, our ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, is pushing for either an outright attack on Syria, or another round of buffoonery with the United Nations. Can never have too many wars. Especially when the polls are looking so dire.

Kick Out The Jams 

Saturday, September 24, 2005
Operation Ceasefire
The Washington Monument
Constitution Avenue and 15th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.



More info: Operation Ceasefire


Monday, September 12, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

What does F.E.M.A. stand for? Take the poll at the renovated Mighty Corrente Building.

UPDATE I've added some additional proposals from alert reader Anonymous (acorn, can it be you?!?!).

So remember! Vote early and often!

Republican Wars 

No, this is not another discussion of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the WOT, or about the several lunatic decisions taken by the DOD under Bush regarding tactical nuclear weapons, the so-called bunker busters, or as the Washington Post reported over the weekend, about their preemptive use.

All that is bad enough on its own. But underlying that narrowly expansive go-it-alone foreign policy are the Republican wars here at home.

Interestingly, it's been the right wing of American politics itself, which let us face it, is who the current Republican party represents most consistently, that was the first to use the term "war" to address societal conflicts. (Johnson's War on Poverty, though controversial, did not declare war on anything that any group of Americans actively supported) The most current obvious example, the often used term "the culture wars," but the term "war" has also been used by the right to describe what they claim to perceive as attacks on their values, hence the war against Christians, against people of faith, against religion in the public square, against the free market, against moral values, and on and on.

There's no real contradiction here; from Newt Gingrich in his days as the sage of after hours Special Orders on C-Span, to apostate liberals like Charles Krauthammer and Mickey Kaus, to media analysts like Brent Bozell to conservative media stars like Ann Coulter to everyone at The Corner to the multiple strategists of the RNC to columnists like Michael Barone, John Leo, and the new-to-the-party John Tierney, to all the multiple representatives of the Christian right, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, et al, the charge has always been that it was they who were forced into an attack mode by a ruthless, powerful coalition of elitist liberals who control the universities, the press, and much of government bureaucracy (see state and federal employee unions).

Whether or not any of these people believe their own "bull" on this subject, their attempts to argue there exists a coherent left/liberal/Democratic movement, coordinated and institutionalized, that is constantly on the political attack in order to preserve a secular, internationalized, multi-culti America, have been shown by various writers, journalists (though fewer of those) and academics, to be pitifully lacking in evidence or credibility, despite the Herculean efforts of David Horowitz.

However, the push-back against liberalism, against the Democratic Party, against various intitutions that only decades ago had seemed completely mainstream, like public education for instance, and social security, the conscious attempts to shred the social safety net and redefine the social contract that emerged after World War 2, that rise of a hard-right conservatism, claiming to represent the center, but on the attack against every advance of freedom, democracy, civil rights begun in the sixties, the attacks on constitutional interpretations that date back to Theodore Roosevelt and FDR, all that does lend itself to the metaphor of war.

None of this is new to anyone reading this blog. However, only one journalist I'm aware of has had the insight and the confidence and the nerve to call what this Republican Party does when it's on the attack against inconvenient facts, inconvenient counter arguments, or inconvenient people, "war."

Chris Mooney succeeds in making the metaphor stick in his just published book, "THE REPUBLICAN WAR AGAINST SCIENCE," which, if you think about it for a moment, is a startling achievement.

We were lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book; Chris, a journalist who also blogs, was generous in his outreach to bloggers, and rightly so, because it's blogtopia (a phrase coined first by skippy, the bush kangaroo) that has the power to offer an important book like this the kind of support that is axiomatic for anything written by anyone on the right.

We had intended to review the book and discuss its importance just as Katrina hit. What we have to say about Chris's book has actually expanded watching the actions and inactions these first days of September. The time finally seems right, so for the rest of the week, we'll be talking about why this is such a terrific book, how it fits into the political struggle we all feel we're engaged it heading into 2006, and how and why we must all support it and its author.

You may think you know all there is to know about this subject, and clearly there's no mystery as to whether, or even how much we liked this book, but trust me, there is gold in it for those of us who are determined to take our country back from the right-wing extremists who don't represent the American mainstream and are determined to keep us divided to further their own political interests.

HEADS UP: Chris Mooney is scheduled to appear on tonight's Daily Show; don't miss it.

Katrina: Say a prayer for the common foot soldier 

Spare a thought for his back breaking work:

Mike Brown, the subject of blistering criticism after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and overwhelmed the government's response, quit Monday as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The White House moved quickly to replace him, installing a top agency official with three decades of firefighting experience as acting director.
(via AP)

Altogether now: A-w-w-w-w!

Yes, Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown transgressed the unwritten law: So they nailed his head to the floor.

Hey, and maybe someone could tell why Bush waited 'til after the Katrina clusterfuck to appoint a FEMA director with actual experience in emergencies, as opposed to one with experience judging Arabian horses?

Back to Republican governance: It's almost like they deliberately stress government to the breaking point, and then past it. Only when it breaks, and then only if anyone notices, do they fix what they broke to begin with. That's what happened with the Army in Iraq, and that's what happened with Katrina.

The only problem is, that there are people who's lives depend on government working—and in the case of disaster, that could be any of us.

Bush and his backers have bunkers and gated communities to retreat to. We don't. So when the Republicans break the government—they can kill us.

UPDATE Rushing to leave the house, I forgot to link back to Riggsveda's post on Republican governance here. "Elect us and we'll prove it," indeed.

Hinterlands Aren't So Hinter Anymore 

Maybe it's because they're actually connected to the land they live on, more than people in cities are. That's why I've always felt that the "red" states aren't irrevocably so. (RDF is magnificent proof of this)

I've mentioned David Rossie, who writes in that area which those who live in NYCity often refer to as "upstate New York," which generally means anywhere in NY not in the city.

Courtesy of a Buzzflash link, we found this eye-poping piece by V.B. Price, a columnist for the Albuquerque Tribune. He had me at the headline, which caused an immediate rise in the number of my heartbeats per minute.
Depths of cruelty
How uncaring and brutally incompetent can right wing get?
And it only gets better from there:
The Bush administration couldn't get emergency relief to New Orleans for days after the endlessly predicted, catastrophic hurricane and flooding two weeks ago.

But close to 24 hours after the death of U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the White House, swamped in criticism over New Orleans, named John Roberts as its choice to fill Rehnquist's shoes.

In one case, planning was nonexistent, because the ruling party saw no political advantage to it. In the other, planning was meticulously precise, the political advantage being obvious to everyone.

Roberts is apparently one of those every-man-for-himself, women-and-children-last kind of Republican, the perfect judicial scissor-man to continue snipping away at the social safety net and its weakening strands of equality and freedom.

What happened in New Orleans is an unspeakable calamity of governmental carelessness, the most disgraceful consequence of decades of government-hating that anyone could have imagined.

And who's left to pick up the pieces? Certainly not the federal establishment, which is criminally useless and downright nauseating.

Who's left? Localities already heavily burdened with the sheer complexity of their back-breaking, federally dumped "unfunded mandates" covering most aspects of social life.

Who's left? Places like Albuquerque and New Mexico, which by the end of next week will be giving comfort and succor to as many as 500 Katrina refugees.

Amid the horror and fathomless disgust, New Mexico makes us all feel proud to be human beings and Americans again.

What a contrast! New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez met the first contingent of refugees arriving in Albuquerque, welcomed them and acknowledged the unprecedented enormity of their tragedy.
There's more, including an arrow that takes you to other V.P. Price columns.

Might be a thought to write to the paper, either by e or slow mail, to express your appreciation.

UPDATE: Alert reader, JayinABQ tells us in comments of a connection of interet in regards to Mr. Price.

In Other News 

Although I do have a lot to say about Katrina, I'm going to let all the rest of the blogoshpere take care of it for a while, being a day late and more than a dollar short in the excellent race to shame the mainstream media with breaking stories relating to the corruption and crisis it caused. When a story dominates the news cycle like Katrina has done, I always ask myself, "I wonder what else is going on in the world?"

hat tip to Unknownnews who found this Financial Times link:

President George W. Bush was handed a major victory on Friday in his effort to assert sweeping presidential powers in the war on terrorism as a US appeals court upheld his authority to imprison indefinitely a US citizen captured on American soil.

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Jos? Padilla, a suspected al-Qaeda operative who US officials say was planning to carry out a terrorist attack inside the US, could be detained as an ?enemy combatant? without any review by US civilian courts.

The detention of Mr Padilla has been sharply criticised by US civil liberties groups, who argue the president does not have the authority in the struggle with al-Qaeda to suspend the basic right of US citizens to a court hearing before they can be imprisoned.

But the court's ruling, written by Judge Michael Luttig, who is considered a potential Supreme Court nominee, said definitively that Mr Bush had been given such powers by the congressional declaration authorising military force following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

That resolution, the court said, provided the president all powers necessary and appropriate to protect American citizens from terrorist acts, including the power to detain committed enemies even if they are US citizens.

In the decision, the court relied heavily on a narrow Supreme Court ruling last year, which found that another American who was captured in Afghanistan, Yaser Esam Hamdi, could legally be held as an enemy combatant, though found the government had failed to follow all proper procedures for his detention. Following the ruling, Mr Hamdi was stripped of his citizenship and sent to Saudi Arabia.

The appeals court found that the same arguments gave the president the power to imprison Mr Padilla, who has been held in a military brig in South Carolina for three years, even though he was captured on US soil.

The appeals court correctly held that this case is legally indistinguishable from Hamdi, said Richard Samp, chief counsel of the Washington Legal Foundation, a conservative advocacy group. Padilla should not be exempt from detention simply because he managed to elude capture and make his way to this country.

But Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said the issue would certainly be reviewed by the Supreme Court, where several judges have already expressed concern over Mr Padilla's detention.

This is the ultimate issue, because it deals with a US citizen apprehended within the territorial limits of the United States, he said. ?The fact that the federal courts are open for business militates strongly against open-ended detention.

There's a lot to be said here, and I encourage everyone to go read the whole FT article. But to my mind, the "years" of detention part is what bothers me the most. Except for the loony leftist blogosphere and some crazy attorneys who still think the Constitution is good for more than some Republican version of two-ply toilet paper, I wonder how many Murkins understand the implications of this case.

Here's some helpful writing by a guy who tends to breathe fire on this issue:

The government has no case against Jose Padilla, a hapless Chicago gang-banger who allegedly visited Pakistan before he was arrested at O'Hare airport 3 and a half years ago. He is simply an unwitting victim of circumstance; a convenient scapegoat for eviscerating the rule of law. The Bush administration has used its extraordinary influence in the media to demagogue the case and keep him locked-away without producing one shred of evidence against him. The entire affair has been a grotesque mockery of justice. The hard-right groups that engineered this plot know exactly where the fault-lines in American jurisprudence lie; in the inalienable protections of its citizens.

Padilla became the test-case for shattering the Bill of Rights with one withering blow. It has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectation.

We've been reading stories about people getting testy with the Veep, and recklessly trying to get actual photos of Katrina victims to the public, heck- there are even obvious terrorists warning us about possible biohazard disasters.

So basically, if Dear Leader decides these folks aren't Amurkin enough, he can lock them up and tell us all to just pray for them.

Well look at me. Sneaking in a Katrina post by the back door.

Thanks to everyone here at Corrente for giving me a place share my rants. It's good to be aboard.

That Time of Year Begins, Much To Do... 

The harvest is in, except for the pumpkins. Temperatures beginning to hit the upper 30’s and low 40’s means it won’t be long before the pumpkins are due. Canning and drying and baking time. All of this means you can’t go fifty miles in any direction without seeing folks selling bread and corn (roasted or not) and squash of every kind, and root crops, jams, and…

Just a gentle reminder that harvest time has traditionally been a time to come together, share, try to make a little money for the winter, gossip, exchange thoughts and politics, usually around a pickup truck or a booth at a fair or a community potluck. And pool up and send extra to those who need it.

I guess what I’m saying is back on the old hobby horse I’ve been riding:

--Support your local food producers

--Change hearts and minds one at a time, over time, as appropriate (whether at work or play, use the right tools for the job)

--If you’ve got extra, give it to them who don’t

--Use opportunities like harvest time to organize (there’ll be plenty of time over the winter to brood alone with book)

There’s a woman I know whose friends say that she’s trying to change the world one quilting bee at a time. She says that’s the only way she knows how. That, and her homemade jam, which I always buy too much of. A gentle, loving soul who still idolizes FDR. Although she does keep a shotgun in her truck. Nothing makes her angrier than the idea that anybody is poor, cold or hungry. Lawd help the corporate fatcat-turned politico who runs into her talking about a Plan for America who hasn’t given away homemade quilts or jam. Although she has never said it, picture a woman who grew up during the depression gently but firmly holding a shotgun on Dick Cheney, while he frantically learns how to put a quilt together.

Heh. Gotta go check the still. (Personal consumption only.)

Elect Us And We'll Prove It 

(In a comment to farmer's post below, Leah says, "maybe we should made this a weekly thing we do on our own...roll back for readers what got said in the past compared to now, or in some cases hours later...". And oddly enough, I posted just such a piece on my site this morning. Here it is.)

67476-BushFrown In Paul Krugman's latest column this morning, he outlines some examples of Bush's deliberate seeding of important agencies with the kinds of destructive appointments guaranteed to bring those agencies down. Using FEMA as a starting place, he ticks them off, with examples: the EPA, FDA, CPB, and then on to the Treasury Department itself, and Homeland Security, two agencies you'd think even Bush would have a stake in preserving. He sums up at the end:
"The point is that Katrina should serve as a wakeup call, not just about FEMA, but about the executive branch as a whole. Everything I know suggests that it's in a sorry state - that an administration which doesn't treat governing seriously has created two, three, many FEMA's."
Doesn't treat governing seriously. That's the crux of it. Conservative satirist P.J. O'Rourke once cracked, "Republicans say, 'Government doesn't work. Elect us and we'll prove it.'" I would take the opposing view, and suggest that Bush has treated governing very seriously. Seriously in the sense that he is serious about destroying it as we have always known it.

3 blind miceAnd now his clusterfuck excuse for an infrastructure has made the point for O'Rourke and Krugman and me and many others, among them, William Greider. In a devastating article, "Rolling Back the 20th Century", written for The Nation back in April of 2003, Grieder described the long-term plans of the extreme right, and their yearning for the good old days of the McKinley era, the Gilded Age of robber barons, non-existent health and safety regs, and near-slave labor. Here he is, laying out the basic plan:
"§ Eliminate federal taxation of private capital, as the essential predicate for dismantling the progressive income tax. This will require a series of reform measures (one of them, repeal of the estate tax, already accomplished). Bush has proposed several others: elimination of the tax on stock dividends and establishment of new tax-sheltered personal savings accounts for the growing "investor class." Congress appears unwilling to swallow these, at least this year, but their introduction advances the education-agitation process. Future revenue would be harvested from a single-rate flat tax on wages or, better still, a stiff sales tax on consumption. Either way, labor gets taxed, but not capital. The 2003 Economic Report of the President, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, offers a primer on the advantages of a consumption tax and how it might work. Narrowing the tax base naturally encourages smaller government.

§ Gradually phase out the pension-fund retirement system as we know it, starting with Social Security privatization but moving eventually to breaking up the other large pools of retirement savings, even huge public-employee funds, and converting them into individualized accounts. Individuals will be rewarded for taking personal responsibility for their retirement with proposed "lifetime savings" accounts where capital is stored, forever tax-exempt. Unlike IRAs, which provide a tax deduction for contributions, wages are taxed upfront but permanently tax-sheltered when deposited as "lifetime" capital savings, including when the money is withdrawn and spent. Thus this new format inevitably threatens the present system, in which employers get a tax deduction for financing pension funds for their workers. The new alternative should eventually lead to repeal of the corporate tax deduction and thus relieve business enterprise of any incentive to finance pensions for employees. Everyone takes care of himself.

§ Withdraw the federal government from a direct role in housing, healthcare, assistance to the poor and many other long-established social priorities, first by dispersing program management to local and state governments or private operators, then by steadily paring down the federal government's financial commitment. If states choose to kill an aid program rather than pay for it themselves, that confirms that the program will not be missed. Any slack can be taken up by the private sector, philanthropy and especially religious institutions that teach social values grounded in faith.

§ Restore churches, families and private education to a more influential role in the nation's cultural life by giving them a significant new base of income--public money. When "school choice" tuitions are fully available to families, all taxpayers will be compelled to help pay for private school systems, both secular and religious, including Catholic parochial schools. As a result, public schools will likely lose some of their financial support, but their enrollments are expected to shrink anyway, as some families opt out. Although the core of Bush's "faith-based initiative" stalled in Congress, he is advancing it through new administrative rules. The voucher strategy faces many political hurdles, but the Supreme Court is out ahead, clearing away the constitutional objections.

§ Strengthen the hand of business enterprise against burdensome regulatory obligations, especially environmental protection, by introducing voluntary goals and "market-driven" solutions. These will locate the decision-making on how much progress is achievable within corporate managements rather than enforcement agencies (an approach also championed in this year's Economic Report). Down the road, when a more aggressive right-wing majority is secured for the Supreme Court, conservatives expect to throw a permanent collar around the regulatory state by enshrining a radical new constitutional doctrine. It would require government to compensate private property owners, including businesses, for new regulations that impose costs on them or injure their profitability, a formulation sure to guarantee far fewer regulations [see Greider, "The Right and US Trade Law," October 15, 2001].

§ Smash organized labor. Though unions have lost considerable influence, they remain a major obstacle to achieving the right's vision. Public-employee unions are formidable opponents on issues like privatization and school vouchers. Even the declining industrial unions still have the resources to mobilize a meaningful counterforce in politics. Above all, the labor movement embodies the progressives' instrument of power: collective action. The mobilizations of citizens in behalf of broad social demands are inimical to the right's vision of autonomous individuals, in charge of their own affairs and acting alone. Unions may be taken down by a thousand small cuts, like stripping "homeland security" workers of union protection. They will be more gravely weakened if pension funds, an enduring locus of labor power, are privatized."
In every instance outlined here, Bush has moved to make Grieder's nightmare a reality, and he has only just begun. chertoff Even now, his apologists on the right are minimizing the signifigance of the lives lost and the damage done down south, positioning Bush to arise from these ashes like the murdering phoenix he has been after every disaster his administration has overseen.

If you want to stop this man, if you want to fight back, it's crucial to expose this agenda at every turn, and to keep reminding people where their troubles are coming from, because we have seen how American amnesia has time and again aided these people in their short-term history rewrites..huns It's very easy for people to see their local infrastructures disappear and their schools collapse, and then blame local and state officials for it. But in truth, it was the Bushco plan all along to strip the states and municipalities of funds, layer on financial responsibilities that once belonged to the fed, add unfunded mandates to increase the burden, and then turn around and point to their own tax breaks and crow about getting government off our backs, all the while breaking the bank with the spiralling debt of those tax breaks, their ongoing wars, and the huge subsidies they handed out like candy to their already sinfully wealthy corporate buddies.

All of which is calculated to wipe government as we once knew it off the face of the map, and render individuals powerless and ineffectual. Welcome to the Republican machine.

My Pet Narrative 

Bu$hCo's fabulous reality swindle

Dennis Roddy:
Bush on Sept. 13, 2001: "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our No. 1 priority and we will not rest until we find him."

Bush on March 3, 2002: "And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of this mission."

On Aug. 25 -- four days before a terrorist known as Katrina attacked the Gulf Coast -- Bush delivered a speech before the VFW in Salt Lake City. Five times he invoked Sept. 11, 2001, while justifying Iraq and the overall war on terror.

Bush said: "We're not yet safe. Terrorists in foreign lands still hope to attack our country. They still hope to kill our citizens. The lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, is that we must confront threats before they fully materialize."

Doubtless that is true, but the threats must be real, not fictions. And fiction can be avoided only by not combining facts in a way that create errors such as the notion that repeatedly invoking 9/11 in the same breath as Iraq will somehow establish an equivalence between bin Laden and Saddam, or the equally fatuous idea that claiming no one could have foreseen the failure of the New Orleans levees obscures the obligation this government had to rescue people, as if establishing a fact requires mere declaration and some mild persuasion.

This talent for conflating one thing with another to create alternative truths went into full bloom as the Gulf Coast turned into a swamp and people died for lack of a coordinated rescue.

The White House and Bush's apologists, stung by criticism that federal response was lacking, went in search of everything from the political registration of the New Orleans mayor to 100 school buses swamped in a lot, to shift blame for people stranded days after the storm.

They dealt with New Orleans the same way they dealt with Iraq. Confronted with inconvenient facts, they constructed an alternative narrative. When one reality doesn't suit, they retreat to the madrassas of Fox News and talk radio.

Two conflicting realities, fact and opinion, stand like Twin Towers of unreality, a ready target for the next enemy we misjudge and the history that will someday wonder how an empire could enwrap so much of the world and not comprehend what it embraced. - zing!


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Today seems as appropriate a day as any, and perhaps more appropriate than most, to make what The Clash would call a public service announcement:

First, the Blog of Eight has expanded to the blog of Eleven. Alert readers MJS, chicagodyke, and shystee have graciously consented to help us drag George Bush back to the hellhole that spawned Him help us in our ceaseless efforts to bring a new tone to American political discourse. I'm so fucking proud I could We're very happy to welcome such fine writers.

And now we come to the reason I haven't posted a Goodnight Moon for a long while; I've had a job on the night shift.

Yes, we're throwing open the doors of the renovated Mighty Corrente Building for the first time. Here's MJS's first post (he's just returned from Louisiana).

Here are some of the features that—blogger's massive and continuing suckitude aside—make the move to a new site, and new software, a Good Thing.

Briefly, when we control our server, our software, and our content, we control our own destiny. Of course, in dreams begin responsibilities, and that means work, but it also means the power to do good: We can program the new site; it's built with CivicSpace and Drupal, and hosted at OpenSourceHost.

The renovated Mighty Corrente Building is not yet finished—there's still wiring hanging from the ceiling, the wet bar isn't fully installed, some of the glass in the greenhouses got shattered during a wild party, and so on.

But we think it's ready enough for you, alert readers, to take a look at. For a time, we'll maintain this site, and the new site, in parallel. But as soon as possible, we're going to throw away the blogspot crutch, and walk.

Readers, at the right side of the menu on the new site, you'll see a "Feedback" link. Please use it!

But be gentle. We're fragile flowers here at Corrente....

NOTE Everyone contributed to this effort. But I want to give a shout out to farmer for relentlessly butting heads with and hammering on me clarifying the requirements for the site (since no software project can proceed, let alone succeed, without a decent set of requirements); Xan for making the suggestion to look into CivicSpace; Leah for moral support (in all senses of the word "moral"); and alert readers Hobson (for layout advice) and especially Nick (for the beautiful logo).

Katrina: Republicans leave humans to drown, rescue dogs 

Some rescue peopple; some rescue dogs:

The first major airlift of dogs from the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast left Louisiana on Sunday, carrying about 80 pets to new temporary homes in California.

The Continental Airlines flight from Baton Rouge, La., was chartered for about $50,000 by Texas oil tycoon Boone Pickens and his wife, Madeleine, in a movement dubbed "Operation Pet Lift."
(via AP)

Oil baron and major Republican contributor Pickens rescued dogs.

Al Gore, of course, rescued people.

Just sayin'.

NOTE Just don't tell Santorum about a rescue flight for dogs; we don't want Ricky any more excitable than he already is.

Say, I thought Bush always wore a flight suit when landing on aircraft carriers? 

Apparently not.

But never let it be said that the Republicans don't learn from bitter experience—This time, they haven't got the carrier in the background, and they didn't hang up any banners! Nice work from the advance men. Stellar craftsmanship. Hey, I hear they've got some openings over at FEMA...

Rapture index closes up 5 on Inflation, Economy, Financial Unrest, Leadership, and Floods. 

Right, floods.


The higher the index, the closer the Rapture is.

So remember, for these guys, unlike normal people, what's bad is good.

A city destroyed and thousands dead from Katrina?

That's good, because it means the Rapture is closer!

It really is the perfect Republican alibi, isn't it? The greater the clusterfuck, the closer the Rapture.

The will of the God of your choice be done...

Katrina: Republican governance drowns in the bowl of New Orleans 

The Republican Noise Machine is cranking up the volume on yet another alibi for Bush. It's one of their favorites, and a real golden oldie. Wait for it—

Government is the problem!

They really have nothing new to say, do they? The party of ideas is all out of ideas; no wonder all the wingers are holding a ginormous cirlejerk about whether the memorial to Flight 93 is shaped like a croissant—oops, I meant an Islamic Crescent. They look at the corpses in the streets of New Orleans and have nothing to say. Nothing.

Just to get ever-so-thoughtful Republican uber-shill David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brook's latest alibi for Bubble Boy on the record:

of course we need limited but energetic government. But liberals who think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America's faith in big government.
(via Times)

Nice try, Dave. And you've got to admire the Republican Noise Machine, of which Brooks is such an important cog—they're real, um, pros. The intelligent design behind the ever-changing alibis is a masterful example of defense in depth. First, blame the locals. Didn't work. Then, blame bureaucracy. Didn't work. Then, blame Brownie, the sacrificial victim. Didn't work. Now, it's time to drop the Big One: the old Republican standby since morning again in America—blame government!

When it comes to accepting responsibility and accountability, these guys are truly at the toddler level, aren't they?

"Georgie, did you break the lamp?"

"No! I never touched it! Besides, when I touched it, it was already broken!" And so on to wearisome length.

Anyhow, to place the responsibility and accountability where it needs to be placed:

Katrina is not a failure of government. Katrina is a failure of the Republican goverance.

Of course, it does help to look at the facts. And Brooks, at least in his rhetoric, pays tribute to this Enlightenment notion. Brooks writes:

For the brutal fact is, government tends toward bureaucracy, which means elaborate paper flow but ineffective action. Government depends on planning, but planners can never really anticipate the inevitable complexity of events. And American government is inevitably divided and power is inevitably devolved.

Sounds plausible, right? But let's look at the Bush administration bureaucracy in action (from Newsweek's "Bush Blows It", back):

For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics.

People told Bush what He wanted to hear? Who knew?

Why on earth would that be?

Could it be that people, by now, have had experience with what Bush wants, and give it to him? That people know whistleblowers are fired? That scientists who want to do science are fired? That everyone who was right about Iraq troop strength (a "metric") or about WMDs (another "metric") was fired? And that everyone who was wrong was promoted? And then given the Medal of Freedom? That people know that only Bush loyalists are rewarded—and that the test of loyalty is telling Bush what he wants to hear? (That's called drinking the Kool-Aid, back)

And could it be that because Bush populated FEMA with public relations flaks (see back for the details that would be amazing if we didn't know Bush so well) we have a government in name only?

A government that (like the C.P.A. in Iraq) has been so hollowed out and infested by Republican operatives and political appointees that it can no longer function? Can no longer function except to distribute billions of taxpayer largesse to politically connected corporations?

Sorry, Dave. Katrina was "government" in the same way that "A Night at The Opera" by the Marx Brothers is opera. Except that the results—for everyone but the kind of gods who like to pull wings off flies, and the kind of people who laugh alone at night—have been anything but as funny.

Katrina was not a failure of government.

Katrina was a failure of the Republican theory of governance; the theory of governance ("government is the problem") that the Bush administration, along with a generation of Republican ideologues, believed in and put into action with great energy and determination.

Remember what Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown said, before Bush had his feet nailed to the floor under his desk back in DC? "I don't want to alarm anyone that New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That isn't happening."

"New Orleans not filling up like a bowl"? That was exactly what was happening! The blogs knew it before Brownie did! That's not a failure of government; that's a failure of Brown; that's a failure of Bush, who appointed Brown (you too, Whiney Joe); it's a failure of Bush's good friend, Allbaugh, who pimped Brown to Bush; it's a failure of the entire Bush administration, which didn't bring this fool to Bush's attention before the catastrophe happened; and it's a failure of the Republican theory of governance, since failure to react to catastrophe is exactly what you'd expect from people who believe that government is the problem and try to weaken it whenever they can (except where they can loot it).

"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Remember what Grover Norquist said? He said he wants to make government so small he can drown it in a bathtub. Well, under Bush we have a government that's large in size, but puny in performance—so I bet that's good enough for Grover.

"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Yes, Norquist, Bush, and thirty years of Republican governance have succeeded. They've won. They finally drowned the government.

Republican governance drowned in the "bowl" of New Orleans. Too hollowed out, too puny, to function. Republican governance drowned in the bowl of New Orleans, along with thousands of American dead abandoned by a government that was too hollowed out, too puny, too conflicted, too politicized, too ideological, and too in denial to rescue them.

You put people in charge of the government who want to drown it, sooner or later it's going to drown.

Now it has. It's going to up to the American people to decide whether a drowned government is the kind of government they want.

I'm betting Americans don't want a drowned government. And it's going to be up to what remains of the Democratic party to find a spine and fight and win on their behalf.

And if the Dems don't?

No more water. The fire next time.

UPDATE Thanks to The Daou Report for the link.

Katrina: Bush performance problems bring death to thousands 

The Boy in the Bubble:

How Bush blew it
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. "She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir," said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. 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 [Bush], who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

[After the 17th Street level was breeched,] Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time [that the city was in serious trouble] and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. ... Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business." ... The radio was reporting water nine feet deep at the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles streets.

The one federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters—FEMA—was dysfunctional. ... 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.

For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.

The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "Bush just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over—if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press.

Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
(via Newsweek)

Aux duck pits, citoyens!

"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - former first lady Barbara Bush - "Good Morning America" March 18, 2003


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