Friday, September 30, 2005

American Idiot

Finally got around to watching Kinsey the other night. About all I'd heard about the movie was that there was a love scene between Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard. This was not exactly a selling point for me, as much of a fan of Sarsgaard's work as I am.

But knowing how American culture and media function (or rather, dysfunction), I had a sneaking suspicion that this sort of idiotic sensationalism was beside the entire point of the movie. And, of course, I was absolutely right. The scene in question was but a minute or so, and not gratuitously oogy to my resolutely zero (on the Kinsey scale) sensibilities. No surprise there; this country's cultural buttons are nothing if not entirely predictable and utterly mundane.

Now, I have no doubt that more culturally astute viewers have voluminous screeds in mind regarding the sexual politics and murky interpersonal relationships described in the movie. And if that is what interests you, I encourage you to seek out such critiques. For I have a political critique in mind, but not necessarily the sexual one that some might assume.

There is a scene, fairly early in the movie, in which Kinsey counsels a young couple with marital difficulties. The wife thinks she's "frigid". The husband seems to agree. Kinsey, in his bloodless, clinical fashion, asks if they've tried cunnilingus in the course of their bedroom frivolities.

After the requisite blushing and harrumphing, both husband and wife assert the notion that such an activity would cause problems with the wife's ability to conceive. Kinsey naturally assures them that that's nonsense. The husband reflexively disagrees, by way of forcing Kinsey into the position of proving a negative. ("How do you know it's not true?")

Kinsey could (and should) have quite easily replied that he himself had three children, and a rambunctious (by the standards of the day) sex life. Why he did not, I have no idea. But that's beside the point.

The point is that there is a clear line to draw here, from the puritanical misconceptions of the day over sexual mores, to the current ridiculous crap permeating Americans' understanding of even the most basic tenets of science and scientific method. Some things never change, and one of the primary things in that category is the ability of a politically-motivated elite to cynically use people's ignorance, to hornswoggle them into endorsing whatever bullshit they've chosen to foist on them at a given point in time.

Currently that bullshit is "intelligent design"; or more precisely, the notion that "both sides should be taught". There is an inherent tautology in that seemingly innocuous phrase, as if there really were two and only two sides to "the story" at hand. Such a notion completely discards centuries of established scientific inquiry and method, in the name of open-ended nonsense being presented as some sort of legitimate scholarship.

The people pushing this boobism nowadays, as well as the boobs mindlessly following it, are the same creatures who couldn't stand that Kinsey could innocently, scientifically, take the guilt -- and thus, the primary means of control -- out of sex. As such, "intelligent design" is merely a similar means to the same stupid end -- to corral a preponderance of Americans into an intellectual dead end, while the rest of the world rubbernecks at our cultural head-on collision with reality, with a combination of bemusement, pity, and contempt, while passing us by all the same.

The rest of the world already knows what we're about to find out the hard way -- the big fat dumb kid can only run so fast.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Proud To Be An American

Seriously, words fail me as I try to convey my sheer disgust and contempt for the subhumans involved in this nauseating shit:

When reading an Egyptian blog a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a bulletin board site called (NTFU), which started out as a place for people to trade amateur pornography of wives and girlfriends.

According to the site's owner, Chris Wilson, who lives in Lakeland, Fla., but hosts the site out of Amsterdam, the site was launched in August 2004 and soon became popular with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. When female soldiers started to appear in the nude on the site, the Pentagon blocked access to the site from military computers in the field, according to the New York Post.

But the story gets more twisted. Wilson said that soldiers were having trouble using their credit cards in Iraq to access the paid pornographic content on the site, so he offered them free access if they could show that they were actually soldiers. As proof, some sent in G-rated photos of traffic signs in Baghdad or of a day in the life of a soldier abroad. Others sent in what appear to be Iraqi civilians and insurgents who were killed by suicide bombs or soldiers' fire.

Now there's an entire forum on the site titled "Pictures from Iraq and Afghanistan - Gory," where these bloody photos show body parts, exploded heads and guts falling out of people. Along with the photos is a running commentary of people celebrating the kills, cracking jokes and arguing over what kind of weaponry was used to kill them. But the moderators will also step in when the talk gets too heated, and sometimes a more serious discussion about the Iraq war and its aims will break out.

Digby has been doing diligent work in trying to suss out just what weird turn our society and culture have taken, where we can just let shit like this go on, or worse yet, have military men who will defend it:

I couldn't verify whether these gory photos were taken recently in Iraq by soldiers. But the U.S. military is currently looking into the site and trying to authenticate the photos -- and take appropriate action if soldiers are involved. "We do have people who are specifically looking at that website, and I will talk to my colleagues and my bosses here and get back to you," said Staff Sgt. Don Dees, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in Baghdad.

Two people posting gory photos to the site responded to my e-mail query into their motivations for doing it.

"I access [NTFU] from my personal computer, the government computers are strictly monitored," one person wrote to me. "I would never try to use this site or anything like it on a government computer. To answer your question about posting the gory pictures on this site: What about the beheadings filmed and then put on world wide news? I have seen video of insurgents shooting American soldiers in plain day and thanking God for what they have done. I wouldn't be too concerned what I am doing on a private Web site. I'm more concerned of what my fellow soldiers and I are experiencing in combat."

Another person whose e-mail identified him as David Burke was defiant about posting gory photos and said it was a tradition of all wars.

"Yes I have posted kill photos on other forum sites," Burke wrote me in his e-mail. "The computers are military financed if not owned by the military. I think that with all the service members who are over here it was obvious that photos of dead insurgents would surface as time went on and it is not a new occurrence. There have been pics from all wars of the fighters standing over the bodies of the enemy. The insurgents are more than willing to showcase our dead and wounded so if people have issues with what's shown on this site then they need to stay away and quit bitching about things they know nothing about.

"I made it real clear in most if not all of my posts how I feel about the Iraqi people in general and that feeling has not changed a bit in my time here. I [put] a good friend of mine [in a body bag] just a week ago and that really clinched it for me and my teammates. We will always shoot first and ask no questions, period. The military brass will always try to sanitize the effects of war, no matter when or where, and yes if it was possible they would censor all media coming out of this country, pics and stories."

Disgusting, and creepy as all hell. And hey, remember Abu Ghraib? Turns out there are more bad apples:

"On their day off people would show up all the time," the sergeant continues in the HRW report. "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all U.S. soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the cook."

So let me get this straight -- was Abu Ghraib an aberration, the work of a few warped souls working in concert, unbeknownst to the rest of the entire military? Well, let's walk that one back a bit -- if it really was just a few "bad apples", which by definition means that everyone else around them realizes that it's morally repugnant and criminally indefensible, then why has it taken so long for these incidents to come out? Why has the Pentagon dragged its feet every step of the way? Why have they not been more proactive in weeding these psychopaths out of the armed forces? And why have they not been more forthcoming with relevant facts and information (not to mention why they've steadfastly resisted the release of the second -- supposedly worse -- round of Abu Ghraib photos for the public to see exactly what the hell has been going on) regarding these abuses?

Right from the very first revelations of Abu Ghraib, and now into this "war porn" shit, there is a very strange and disturbing conflation between sadistic, forced sex and extreme violence. What sort of person gets off on breaking a man's leg with a baseball bat, or forcing him to perform oral sex on fellow prisoners, or anally raping him with a glow stick?

And what sort of cultural mindset inculcates and protects that shit? What sort of jackal wears a "club Gitmo" shirt like they're fucking proud of that shit? Oh, we can all feel a little bit better because that smirking inbred baboon Lynndie England got convicted. But think about it -- the only reason she and the rest of her crew got caught is because one man stepped up. One. So again, we have to take what we're used to hearing about the discipline and moral decency of the military code of honor and ethics, and filter it through the stark fact that only one person gave enough of a shit to let the world know what the hell was going on there.

For now, obviously the military is going to take whoever they can, but if we ever get out of this mess, there needs to be a top-down re-tooling of procedural enforcement. This will not stand -- either we're better, or we're not. Being better means more than just telling everyone over and over again, it means holding yourselves to a higher code of conduct.

And if it really is just a few dozen loose screws in the machinery, then it shouldn't be such a problem to weed them out. Presumably the other 99% which maintains its moral values understands just how much these incidents embarrass and disgrace the good name of this country and its people. Either they take such things seriously or they don't. There's just no middle ground on letting Army cooks blow off steam by beating prisoners with baseball bats.

As far as how the war itself is going, well, try to look past the body counts for a second -- if you can -- and focus on a more quotidian metric. It's impossible to win over an occupied populace whose very ability to just lead an everyday life has been denied them:

And more than two years after flowers and water cascaded onto the arriving Americans, what's being thrown on Karrada's streets, and who is throwing it, has changed as well.

Mohammed, a courtly, gentle-mannered man, carefully chose the harshest word he could think of for urine.

In Karrada this summer, Mohammed and the neighborhood watched as American soldiers on patrol grew irritated at an Iraqi who had left his car in the street to run inside a store on an errand, blocking their armored convoy.

The Americans took one of the empty plastic water bottles they use to relieve themselves when on patrol, Mohammed said. When the Iraqi driver ran out to move his car, an annoyed American plunked him with the newly filled bottle and rolled on, Mohammed said.

"He started crying," Mohammed said of the Iraqi driver, humiliated in front of the neighborhood.

Mohammed, who said he had been one of the happiest people in Karrada to see the Americans when they came in April 2003, retrieved the bottle and handed it to the weeping man.

"I said, 'Give this to the Iraqi government,' " Mohammed said. " 'Tell them this is the sovereignty the Americans have brought us.' "

Urine is very haram in Islamic culture; apparently men urinate sitting down to prevent even a drop from splashing on their garments. Plus the universal masculine hang-up with outsiders punking you in front of the whole neighborhood. Think you might be a little radicalized if you were in that poor bastard's shoes, and got pegged in the head with a bottle of pee?

The breakdown in order and the dismissal of Iraq's security forces unleashed a crime wave that still lingers. Daylight kidnappings and robberies are common. Parents hire armed guards for their children's school buses. Boys and girls in middle-class neighborhoods routinely fight off strangers who attempt to shove them into the trunks or back seats of cars and take them away for ransom.

And three summers into the U.S. occupation, Kareema and her sisters and sisters-in-law cloak themselves in black and wear black gloves when they go out, a neighbor who knows them said. But these days, the neighbor said, the sisters seldom go out.

When the Americans came, they protected only a few public buildings from looters, said Nagham Emad, 23, a university student lingering in a Karrada ice cream shop, spooning up her frozen sundae slowly to put off the return to a dark, hot home.

One of the buildings was the Oil Ministry, Emad said. The others were Saddam Hussein's marble-and-gilt palaces, which the Americans took over for their offices. Now, when power outages darken the rest of Baghdad, she said, massive generators make the barricaded, highly guarded palaces of the Americans glow.

The lack of electricity, like the lack of security, remains one of the two biggest complaints among Baghdad's 6 million people.

The Americans had underestimated the problems with Iraq's infrastructure, a U.S. official in Baghdad said on condition of anonymity. A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, said a large part of Baghdad's electricity problem is that even as supply increases, it is being inexorably outstripped by demand.

And that's what the citizens of Baghdad see day after day after scorching day -- they get an average of 8 hours a day of electricity, while the liberators go 24/7. Truly I boggle at these folks that don't get why some Iraqis might not be buying into our empty rhetoric. They don't want to hear the mushmouth-in-chief babble on endlessly about "freedom" this and "democracy" that. They want lights to come on when they flip the switch. They want to have a job, and be able to go to that job without wondering if they'll make it back home. They want their kids to be able to attend those freshly repainted schools without having to worry about kidnappers and killers. Imagine that.

For the most part, they had those things under Saddam and his psychopathic mafia family. They do not have those things anymore. Happy words babbled incessantly do not change that simple fact.

As for the original war -- you know, against the fuckers that actually did 9/11 -- we're still there, fighting a Taliban insurgency that, while diminished, has adapted and is gathering strength:

In the four years since the fall of the Taliban government, there have been many moments when it appeared that the Taliban insurgency had breathed its last breath. But this year was different. The Taliban have launched a series of attacks that has raised this year's death toll - 1,200 civilians and military personnel so far - to a wartime high. Their attacks show increasing sophistication, US and Afghan officials say, and a UN report now warns that the Taliban may be receiving tactical training from jihadists returning from Iraq.

With an apparently revitalized Taliban insurgency, the American military and its NATO allies must now decide whether their strategy needs retooling, and American diplomats could have increasing difficulty convincing NATO allies to take over leadership of the Afghan counterinsurgency campaign. It could be a hard sell, indeed. Even US military commanders say it is too soon to count the Taliban out.

"I'm not ready to sign up to the fact that Taliban are crumbling," said Gen. Jason Kamiya, operational commander for the US-led Combined Forces Command, at a recent press conference at Bagram Airbase. "There still will be an enemy insurgency next spring."


Yet, US and Afghan intelligence sources suggest that the Taliban have shown recent signs of confidence - or desperation. Roadside bombings have increased 40 percent this year over last year, according to a report by the UN. These bombings have become increasingly effective, using "shaped" explosives used by Iraqi militants against US forces there, set off by sophisticated remote-control devices.

Perhaps more important, the Taliban are sticking around to fight US forces after they detonate roadside bombs, using heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and Kalashnikovs to pin down US troops and increase casualties.

When they are captured, the Taliban often carry high-tech radio equipment, and are even wearing new sneakers, all signs that the insurgents have found new financial support.

The article goes on to state that funds are coming from zakat, Muslim tithing. How much you want to bet that the majority of the mosques who are kicking upstairs to these thugs are in Pakistan, followed closely by Saudi Arabia? I bet Iraq's mosques are fifth at best.

But we are where we are, with no plan, no opposition party, a fragile economy that's about to go down the poopchute, and a governing party that couldn't care less, so long as gays can't get married and we're cracking down on porn.

Maybe Nader was right; maybe things had to get way worse before we'd come to our senses and care enough to turn it around. Let's hope it's not too late. Some of the things we're doing in our Noble Cause, that we're largely indifferent or indignant about, seem symptomatic of a larger cultural malaise. Maybe we're just intellectually flabby. Whatever the case, it's gotta end soon, or we're sunk. Talk about slouching toward Gomorrah, we're whipping feces at the city walls like a band of crazed chimps.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Killing In The Name

So if 100,000 anti-war protesters (who unfortunately allowed themselves to be infiltrated by the likes of "Free Mumia" morons and other assorted off-message shitheads) are off the conservatard radar, how about the grieving parents of genuine fallen American hero Pat Tillman?

As she pores through testimony from three previous Army investigations into the killing of her son, former football star Pat Tillman, by his fellow Army Rangers last year in Afghanistan, she hopes that a new inquiry launched in August by the Pentagon’s inspector general finally will answer the family’s questions:

Were witnesses allowed to change their testimony on key details, as alleged by one investigator? Why did internal documents on the case, such as the initial casualty report, include false information? When did top Pentagon officials know that Tillman’s death was caused by friendly fire, and why did they delay for five weeks before informing his family?

Those are all excellent questions, and it's funny that the folks that profess to be the most intense about "supporting the troops" seem to be the least intense about finding out the facts about stories like this. Do they not think that Pat Tillman deserves at least the same consideration they give their Expedition?

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.

Holy fuckin' shit. From Churchill to Chomsky; how 'bout that? No doubt Dear Leader has read neither of those people, but no matter. What's significant about Tillman reading Chomsky is that it discredits the usual conservatard tropes about Chomsky. Of course, they never read Chomsky in the first place; it would have cut into their Hannity & Colmes time.

A football star at Leland High School in San Jose and at Arizona State University, Tillman was chosen Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 1997 and selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL draft the following spring.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State and graduated summa cum laude in 3 1/2 years with a 3.84 grade point average. Ever the student, Tillman not only memorized the playbook by the time he reported for the Cardinals’ rookie camp but pointed out errors in it. He then worked on a master’s degree in history while playing professional football.

His 224 tackles in a single season (2000) are a team record, and because of team loyalty he rejected a five year, $9 million offer from the St. Louis Rams for a one-year, $512,000 contract to stay with Arizona the next year.

Moved in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman decided to give up his career, saying he wanted to fight al Qaeda and help find Osama bin Laden. He spurned the Cardinals’ offer of a three year, $3.6 million contract extension and joined the Army in June 2002 along with his brother Kevin, who was playing minor-league baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization.

Pat Tillman’s enlistment grabbed the attention of the nation — and the highest levels of the Bush administration. A personal letter from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thanking him for serving his country, now resides in a storage box, put away by Pat’s widow, Marie.

Fuck. You know, let's put away the childish nicknames for two seconds and be 100% serious here -- Bush and Rumsfeld and the rest of them are unqualified even to carry the jockstrap of a loyal, intelligent man like Pat Tillman. Okay? Pure and simple, folks. I think about some wannabe cowboy, fucking ofay Yalie flunkie like George W. Bush even mentioning the name of someone like Tillman, and it makes me sick to my stomach. He doesn't have the goddamned right, you know?

Tillman’s death came at a sensitive time for the Bush administration — just a week before the Army’s abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq became public and sparked a huge scandal. The Pentagon immediately announced that Tillman had died heroically in combat with the enemy, and President Bush hailed him as “an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror.”

His killing was widely reported by the media, including conservative commentators such as Ann Coulter, who called him “an American original — virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” His May 3, 2004, memorial in San Jose drew 3,500 people and was nationally televised.

Not until five weeks later, as Tillman’s battalion was returning home, did officials inform the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by his fellow soldiers.

According to testimony, the first investigation was initiated less than 24 hours after Tillman’s death by an officer in the same Ranger battalion. His report, delivered May 4, 2004, determined that soldiers involved in the incident had committed “gross negligence” and should be appropriately disciplined. The officer became a key witness in the subsequent investigation. For reasons that are not clear, the officer’s investigation was taken over by a higher ranking commander. That officer’s findings, delivered the next month, called for less severe discipline.

The parents, protesting that many questions were left unanswered, found a sympathetic ear in McCain, who Mary Tillman later said was greatly admired by her son. Tillman was well known in Arizona because of his success there as a college and pro football player. McCain began to press the Pentagon on the family’s behalf, and a third probe finally was authorized. Its report was delivered in January.

The military is saying little publicly about the Tillman case. Most Army personnel who were involved in the Tillman incident or the investigations declined to comment publicly when contacted by The Chronicle. The inspector general’s press office also declined to comment, saying only that the new probe is openended.

Yeah. "Openended". Translation: we need more time to get our story straight, and finish redacting the incriminating documents.

This is disgusting. Not only did they knowingly cover up the circumstances of Tillman's death, but Bush and the Pentagon -- with full knowledge of this, we should assume -- went ahead and used him as a prop for their stupid little misadventure in Iraq. The fact that Tillman specifically wanted Afghanistan, and considered Iraq a diversion form the real mission, just seals it.

Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat’s even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan — a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, “Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.”

Baer, who served with Tillman for more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, told one anecdote that took place during the March 2003 invasion as the Rangers moved up through southern Iraq.

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

There's your prop, motherfuckers -- how do you like him now? Me, I wouldn't change my opinion of Pat Tillman even if it had turned out he was a Bush-booster. I wouldn't understand it, but I remember very well how he conducted himself on and off the field in the NFL. That doesn't seem like much at first blush, but when you consider that the league is littered with greedy malcontents who milk their contracts and disrespect their fans, Pat Tillman's attitude was truly exemplary. I knew perfectly well who he was long before he joined the Rangers -- a stand-up guy who played every play like it was his last, and was loyal to his team to a fault.

Bush's America is not terribly unlike the chronically dysfunctional, poorly-coached Arizona Cardinals team that Pat Tillman stuck it out for. It's time to change coaches, and let there be no doubt that Pat Tillman -- who exhibited more character and courage in his brief life than the likes of George W. Bush and his lackeys can even comprehend -- would want it that way.

If we had a functioning opposition party, they would seize upon these facts, help the Tillmans find out the truth about what happened to their son, and make that their goal -- if not their slogan -- for '06 and '08: Do it for Pat.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Wind Beneath My Cheeks

Since they had already committed their resources, hoping for a Cat 5 barnstormer, the esteemed tools of the corporate media not only made sure to stay through the flooded streets and downed power lines of the slightly-petered-out Category 3 Rita, but they went ahead and aired their special hurricane specials Saturday morning and Saturday night.

Of course, this allowed to not even have to pretend to pay scant attention to the 100,000 or so American citizens who marched en masse on their nation's capital, to protest a policy built on misdirection and obfuscation, and apparently maintained on happy thought and finger-crossing. Way to go, guys. Nicely done.

As if that wasn't enough (and by God, dontcha think it oughta be), it seems that Himself's hands-on Helpy Helperton trip to the front lines in Texas got squashed, not only 'cause he'd be in the way of people who were actually doing something useful, but because the weather wasn't grim enough anymore:

Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

You know, I think it's time we were all united on referring to this entrenching implement as a spade. Bush is as clueless as they come, clearly. He seriously thinks that people were pissed because he wasn't in New Orleans shakin' hands and huggin' black folks. It does not even occur to him that people just figured that maybe, maybe, he'd be slightly more useful pulling the levers of power back in Warshington, than playing grab-ass with John McCain in Arizona and shilling what's left of his Medicare scam in San Diego.

This is your do-nothing moron, values voters. The rest of us are going to make sure you suck on it for the next three years, and send you trudging back to your caves once and for all. We refuse to surrender what's left of this country to your retard gay-marriage paranoia and creationism bullshit. Put that in your Bible and smoke it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Role Models

Kate Moss doesn't owe me an apology, nor does she owe you one. Her "fans" -- if indeed there are any -- aren't entitled to an apology either; if they didn't know what they were getting into they're as stupid as they probably are emaciated.

Kate Moss owes her 2-year-old daughter an apology, and that's about it. I'm pretty libertarian on the subject of drugs -- I don't think that putting users in prison accrues any societal benefit; if anything, it has the potential of turning a harmless idiot into a vengeful, violent criminal. However, despite the Never Never Land that showbiz confers upon its inhabitants, you have to draw that line once you have kids, and put away your own childish things.

And Kate Moss, with her indulgences and partying, with her loser heroin-addled (by his own admission) boyfriend, is doing her child a disservice. So save your crocodile tears, you anorexic skank, and start being a fucking mother, while your child's still a little too young to understand what a self-absorbed moron you are.

Rafael Palmeiro, on the other hand, is a gutless asshole, who has inexcusably lied to his fans, his teammates, and the people of this country. I haven't watched baseball in years, but even I know that between the juiced balls and the juiced athletes, MLB is giving the people what they want -- more home run balls to fight in the stands over.

I don't give a shit about steroids. I assume that most athletes are on them to some extent, even if just for the recuperative effects. What pisses me off about Palmeiro -- apart from his lying and sanctimonious finger-pointing at Congress earlier this year -- is his utter lack of restraint in throwing teammate Miguel Tejada under the bus to cover his own tracks.

The Orioles have terminated Palmeiro's contract, and now every potential teammate knows exactly what kind of team guy Raffi is. Time to hang up the spikes, chump. Nobody respects you anymore, and that's just as bad as being caught red-handed shooting up with Jose Canseco in the john.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Say Hello To My Li'l Friend

Jeb Bush must be tapping into his daughter's stash.

Last week, after “more than an hour of solemn ceremony” swearing in Rep. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as House speaker, Gov. Jeb Bush stepped to the podium to tell “a short story about ‘unleashing Chang,’ his ‘mystical warrior’ friend.”

Below, courtesy of the Gainesville Sun, are Bush’s words, “spoken before hundreds of lawmakers and politicians”:

“Chang is a mystical warrior. Chang is somebody who believes in conservative principles, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism, believes in moral values that underpin a free society.

“I rely on Chang with great regularity in my public life. He has been by my side and sometimes I let him down. But Chang, this mystical warrior, has never let me down.”

Bush then unsheathed a golden sword and gave it to Rubio as a gift.

‘’I'm going to bestow to you the sword of a great conservative warrior,'’ he said, as the crowd roared.

Okay, for one, why does it take an hour of ritual navel-gazing to swear in the speaker for the House from America's Wang? But yeah, the obvious -- what the fuck is Jeb Bush huffing, modeling cement laced with spray paint and insecticide?

Remember when everyone guffawed at Hillary for her pretending to communicate with Eleanor Roosevelt, or whatever that was? Wanna bet that this doesn't get 1/100th the coverage?

Hell, and all this time I figured Jeb for the only halfway intelligent Bush brother. But that motherfucker's crazy. These weirdos and their invisible friends, I swear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Voices In Their Heads

Within hours of Bill Clinton's televised perfidy, breaching the levees of George Bush's stupidity with a flood of fiscal common sense, the usual suspects were manning the fortifications of the crumbling castle of crony capitalist pseudo-conservatism.

Chief amongst the orcs of Helms Deep was something calling itself The Conservative Voice, who through injudicious editing and stratospheric bullshit-to-reality ratio, is just begging for a thorough fisking.

And just because I was so mean to Clenis back in the '90s, but I miss him terribly now, I'm gonna step up and defend him against these mendacious punks.

Key political opponents say that President Bush is oblivious or insensitive to racism and poverry [sic], or worse.

That is gutter politics.

They are demagogues.

Right. "Key political opponents say". Um, has this asshole checked the polls lately? (No, of course not; these highly principled beasts are impervious to the shifting sands of public opinion.) The "poverry" rate has grown, reg'lar Americans' purchsing power has stalled thanks to exploding gas prices and stagnant real wages, and the message has been driven home with a vengeance in Bush country -- which, after all, is the most fiscally vulnerable area to begin with.

That's the wondrous joke of it all -- if you're a wealthy businessman, these guys are doing exactly what you're paying them to do, otherwise, you're just a complete schnook who let yourself get hosed for a couple of bullshit social issues. Enjoy your enhanced "poverry" level.

BUT, President Bush does seem oblivious to the menace posed by the Machiavelli of secular extremism, Bill Clinton.

The man who skillfully resurrected his political career after he lost a gubernatorial reelection race by ostentatiously attending televised church services regularly in Arkansas carrying the biggest Bible he could find.

The man who shamelessly lied to the world about the sinful nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and pretended that he was in a state of grace by going to Holy Communion in a Roman Catholic Church in South Africa on a televised Palm Sunday service.

Oh please. Every damned politician in this benighted asylum of a country has to go through the motions because, as Matt Taibbi once so excellently put it, Americans have an affection for boobism, for leading the intellectual lives of farm animals. Bush is a good Christian like Paris Hilton is Mother Teresa.

The man who was impeached, but not removed from office, because no Democrat Senator has ever voted to remove a fellow Democrat from the White House and there were enough Democrat Senators to preclude a two-thirds vote.

Yes, and? Objectively, what The Voice is imparting here is that Republicans didn't have the goddamned sense to come to their senses when it counted most -- when it came time to keep the punishment proportionate to the "crime".

Now, we all know that it wasn't about the sex, but the lying. Right. Gotcha. Unless it's lying about things that matter, right, O Serious Thinkers?

The man who made sure that the Ten Commandments were cast out of courthouses by appointing two secular extremists--Justices Ginsburg and Breyer--to cast the fourth and fifth votes for the purpose.

How exactly are Ginsburg and Breyer "secular extremists", especially when noted commie atheist Orrin Hatch says he suggested both Breyer and Ginsburg to Clinton? Either Hatch is padding his cred, or The Voice is emanating from a sphincter.

The ungrateful man who did not hesitate to falsely charge that President Bush and his administration had "an emergency plan that works" only for "middle-class people up."

The former President is a talented liar who is loathe [sic] to criticize blacks or women, whom he expects to carry the day for Hillary and him in 2008.

So he implictly targeted the former head of FEMA, Michael Brown, a white Republican male who had leaned far forward in the case of Hurricane Katrina and successfully dealt with hurricane disasters for years (until Louisiana's unique combination of corruption, incompetence, crime and political rivalry caught up with it).

Note: There were shooters and looters in New Orleans, but no shooting and little looting in Mississippi.

Do tell. No shooting, little looting, any lynching? Whatever the case, The Voice (which is way beyond shrill by this point) pads Drownie's thin résumé even more than Drownie himself did. How many hurricane disasters for how many years? Florida doesn't count; Jeb gets what Jeb wants. Drownie's not even on Jeb's radar.

Put it this way -- Florida got hit hard by four hurricanes in four weeks in the summer of 2004. How often did Mike Brown's name come up before, during, or after all that?

Referring to his own administration and his FEMA director, the former President related this revisionist history:

"When James Lee Witt ran FEMA, because he had been both a local official and a federal official, he was always there early, and we always thought about that.

"But both of us came out of environments with a disproportionate number of poor people."

Even Joe Scarborough, a die-hard Bush Leaguer, has openly praised James Lee Witt, and compared Mike Brown very unfavorably to Witt. Again, is this retard paying attention to what some of his own people are saying? The facts are that Witt had experience in the field, and handled his FEMA duties competently; Brown was forced to resign from the horsie club because the judges were on the take.

Was Clinton indulging in a bit of class warfare? You betchum. Is it high time someone did, given Bush's complete disregard for the first 72 hours of the Katrina emergency? Hell yeah. Truth hurts.

On Sunday, September 18, 2005, former President Clinton went on ABC and NBC to Bush bash.

In an interview on the ABC News program "This Week," former President Clinton told his former subordinate, George Stephanopoulos, that class divisions were to blame: "It's like when they issued the evacuation order. That affects poor people differently. A lot of them in New Orleans didn't have cars. A lot of them who had cars had kinfolk they had to take care of. They didn't have cars, so they couldn't take them out."

The former President put it this way: "This is a matter of public policy. And whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the 80's; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy."

The ungrateful former President's malevolent message: President Bush's tax cuts are at fault for the debacle. Not lack of proper local preparation, a Mayor who waited to order mandatory evacuation after President Bush urged him to do and then left hundreds of buses parked and empty instead of using them for the purpose, and a Governor who passed on President Bush's offer to have the federal government take control and then kept the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army out of New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina had passed and the people in the unsupplied Superdome refuge needed their assistance.

Nonsense. Clinton's message was that not only did Bush dick around when the shit was about to hit the fan, but his policies made a bad problem worse. A third of the Louisiana National Guard's personnel and equipment is in the other Gulf, chasing shadows around al-Anbar. FEMA is top-heavy with useless toadies and donors. Instead of "director", the head of FEMA might as well be called a "ranger" or a "pioneer", whichever is ranked higher I suppose.

Despite President Bush's graciousness and the tradition that former Presidents not criticize or mute criticism of their siccessors[sic], former President Clinton has often been critical of his successor.

And on Sunday he passionately repeated many of those criticisms in discussing the invasion of Iraq, the growing federal deficit and other issues.

The Clintons are constantly in campaign mode. Not President Bush, who has been inadvertently helping the Clintons, who would appoint more ACLU types to the United States Supreme Court to strike "under God" from "The Pledge of Allegiance" and "In God We Trust" from American's currency and complete the separation of church and state that would have been anathema to the Founders and Framers, who never intended their respect for the private right of conscience to be expanded to keep America from acknowledging God and supporting religion generally.

Ah, so the Clintons, and not Bush, are "constantly in campaign mode". What a crock of shit. Half of Bush's month-long power nap was taken up by fundraising stops and cheerleading sessions.

And the implication that the "Founders and Framers" had anything to do with "under God" or "In God We Trust" is so laughably easy to debunk, you have to wonder why this moron brought it up at all. Could it be that he has no idea that those phrases were foisted on us in the 1950's by the freakin' Knights of Columbus? Indeed, it could be; the moron hasn't gotten much else right, has he?

The former President's latest effort to undermine consumer confidence before Hillary runs for relection to the United States Senate in 2006 and for President in 2008:

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

"We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."

The former President can contribute his share of the tax cuts to the United States Treasury, and more, whenever he wants.

Yes, he can. But nice dodge, while you're at it, bub. Note how The Voice doesn't bother to even address the factuality -- the shit-scary factuality -- of what Clinton said. We're up to our eyeballs in debt to countries who are jockeying for position on the world stage. And we've squandered our goodwill. The rest of the world isn't just tired of the Bushies, they're sick of us because these assholes got back in. They figure that if we're that fucking dumb, that we'd put Chimpco back in power after getting a big whiff of their corruption and incompetence, there's just no reasoning with us anymore. We're little kids, distracted by the bright, shiny objects, pretending that "intelligent design" is a principled scientific debate, rather than a purely political scam.

We're 4% of the world, consuming 25% of its resources. That is an unsustainable paradigm to begin with, even if the oil was in our backyard and everyone liked us. But for morons like The Voice, it's all Clenis' fault once again.

As I've duly noted before (and several readers have backed me up on this assertion), I hold no brief for Clinton -- indeed, I savagely and consistently criticized him while he was in office. I had very little patience for his oleaginous insincerities. But he has recast himself remarkably as an elder statesman, counter to the late-night frat-house rap-session atmosphere that was supposedly cultivated during his terms in office. (Not that there's anything wrong with that in my book; if there's one job that is not 8 to 5, it's running the country.) Remember how we were told that "the adults were in charge" when Chimpco took over? Well, you tell me -- which one looks like a diffident adolescent fuck-up right now, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush?

And what do you think Bush will do when he's put out to pasture? You think he'll even pretend to do anything good for the poor and downtrodden of the world? You think he'll do one goddamned thing that's not meant to line his pockets, or the pockets of his benefators? You think he remembers what his favorite political philosopher said that the love of money was the root of?

If Bush spends his retirement doing anything besides keeping a seat warm for the Carlyle Groups of the world, I'll be damned surprised. And the Conservatard Voices of the world will squawk themselves hoarse singing their usual hymns to the supposedly free market.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Touched By A Yokel

I don't recommend much in the way of television; most of it sucks, and of the stuff that's good (The Daily Show, several FX shows, and most of HBO), most of the people who are going to watch those shows already know about them.

But NBC, of all places, has a worthy opener to its decent American Office. Check out My Name Is Earl. If you like Jason Lee from Kevin Smith's movies, and/or you like the classic Raising Arizona, then give Earl a shot.

It's the only way we'll finally be rid of these retarded Sorting Out The Stars' Sock Drawers While They Dance With Their Dogs shows.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Last Throe Update

With much of the month's news thus far being swept up by Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war has sort of floated under the radar. But in the week after 9/11 (which also seemed curiously dowplayed, even with the ridiculous, underpopulated propaganda walk), hundreds of people were killed by a spate of bombing all over Iraq.

As always, Juan Cole keeps his eye on the ball. On 9/11 he had this to say:

Bush has given us the worst of all possible worlds-- a half-finished job against al-Qaeda, an Iraqi imbroglio that could still explode into civil or even regional war-- and which serves as an al-Qaeda recruiting tool--, a government starved for funds, an enormous windfall for the rich at the expense of the middle class (which saw average wages actually fall recently), and an inability to respond effectively to a major urban catastrophe.

Four years after September 11, al-Qaeda's leadership should have been behind bars or dead. Four years after September 11, Afghanistan should have been stabilized. Four years after September 11, the government should have been ready to save lives in an urban disaster.

Bush recently started likening his poorly conceived and misnamed "war on terror" to World War II.

What his handlers have forgotten is how long World War II lasted for the United States.

Four years.

In four years, Roosevelt and allies defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In four years, Bush hasn't managed even to corner Bin Laden and a few hundred scruffy terrorists; or to extract himself from the deserts of Iraq; or to put the government's finances in good order so that it can deal with crises like Katrina.

Four years. I think about the victims of 9/11, and now 7/7. We have let you down.

He's absolutely right, and nobody in the co-opted corporate media will ever say it quite like this, even if Bush tumbles another 10% in the polls. But the fact is, Bush has had four full years now to get bin Laden, and instead he's gotten us mired in this tar baby. Meanwhile, bin Laden gets a highly-publicized "close call" every six months or so, as Pakistani forces storm this or that village in darkest Buttfuckistan.

If you didn't know better, you might start to think that bin Laden is worth more to these guys by remaining at large. Indeed, he may be. It's not terribly unlikely that Musharraf's government would be overthrown by either popular revolt or military coup, were bin Laden to be captured. But of course they can never say that. You can't handle the truth.

Back to Iraq. Prof. Cole had a rather pithy analogy for our current Iraqi prospects:


Sistani has a great deal of moral authority, but you really worry whether he might be a level three levee facing a level five hurricane.

Ouch. Yes, between that and the bizarre British assault on the Basra jail to break out two of their commandos, the Iraqis are just getting more and more restive. Freedom is not marching; it's alternating between enforcing medieval dress codes and strapping itself with Semtex and luring day laborers to their doom.

Hope the moron's git-tar lessons are coming along swimmingly.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Katrina seems to have provided perfect cover to do away with the Posse Comitatus law.

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday urged the Pentagon to review laws that limit the use of U.S. troops to restore order after a disasters like Hurricane Katrina or a terror attack.

"The only entity in the United States that has the personnel, the equipment, the training and the logistical capacity to lend support to the National Guard and other state entities in an emergency of this scale is the Department of Defense," Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a letter released by his office.

He said the hurricane was followed by looting and disorder, partly because state and local authorities were unable to cope with the crisis, which he described as the "greatest natural disaster to hit the United States in a century."


"The president should not have to worry about misperceptions by the public based on outdated wording that does not accurately describe what the armed forces may be doing in a particular emergency," Warner said.

Warner named the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits troops from doing domestic law enforcement in most cases, as well as laws that require the federal government to pay for National Guard deployments, even while they remain under the command and control of the states.

Gen. Peter Pace, designated as the next chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week also called for the laws to be examined to ensure the military could be engaged as effectively as possible.

Some believe rigid interpretations of the 1878 law, enacted during the post-Civil War reconstruction period, may have slowed down deployment of active-duty troops after the storm. Others argue there are exceptions to the law, and it can be waived by the president.

There's not an even a doubt in my mind -- the next attack here (or possibly even against one of our allies), and we're looking at martial law for a while.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Nobody's Fault But Mine

The latest scientific estimates about the causes and effects of global warming are largely choir-preaching, because they're from scientists, who are only valuable to self-styled conservatives when they've been rented by Exxon or Philip Morris.

The number of hurricanes in the most powerful categories — like Katrina and Andrew — has increased sharply over the past few decades, according to a new analysis sure to stir debate over whether global warming is worsening these deadly storms.

While studies have not found an overall increase in tropical systems worldwide, the number of storms reaching categories 4 and 5 grew from about 11 per year in the 1970s to 18 per year since 1990, according to a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Peter J. Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology said it's the warm water vapor from the oceans that drives tropical storms, and as the water gets warmer the amount of evaporation increases, providing more fuel for the tempests. Between 1970 and 2004 the average sea surface temperature in the tropics rose nearly 1°F.

Co-author Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said the researchers can't say rising sea-surface temperatures caused Hurricane Katrina. But their study shows the potential for more Katrina-like events to occur, he said.

Without something concrete, I tend to waffle toward agnosticism on the subject of global warming. The earth has cycles and rhythms that do not at all conform to our systems of perceiving and measuring time. We haven't been recording and analyzing this data very long, relatively speaking.

Also scientists, even apolitical ones, are not entirely immune from the academic pressures inherent in their fields of discipline. Research in myriad areas is constantly undertaken, and even less-than-successful results may end up getting published in vague fashion, just so that the next time the scientist's university comes up for a grant or a donation, there's one more thing to point to.

Frequently this takes the form of rather more benign idiocies -- one week eggs and salt are good for you, the next week they're the devil's playthings. My rough guesstimate is that they, like most foodstuffs, are good in moderation. (We just have no concept of that word anymore, in practically any conceivable area of discipline.) The problem for the professional scientist is that such an estimation takes no time, costs no money, and kills no mice. Bored, broke scientists end up getting rented by political whackos like the "Discovery Institute", which is neither of those things, trying to convince morons that Noah had dinosaurs on his ark.

So let's just say that while global warming certainly sounds plausible, even likely, I am not part of the crowd which murmurs in unison that Bush enviro policies "caused" Hurricane Katrina through systematic benign neglect.

But let's play devil's advocate here. Let's say that the signs pointed to by all the evidence is real, factual, and very clearly delineated. Let's say that global warming is very real, and is directly caused by America's overdependence on automobiles and fossil fuels. How is this Bush's fault?

First of all, Clinton/Gore are the ones who initially halted CAFE standards in the 90's. The automakers convinced them that their competitive edge could only be maintained by starting the SUV trend amongst soccer moms. So Clinton/Gore capitulated on fuel efficiency standards.

Then you have the Kyoto Protocol, which was voted down 95-0 during the Clinton administration. I don't know offhand who abstained, and it's really not important -- the fact is that it got squashed across the board, and not just by Republicans. The reason for that is that it imposes much harsher standards on more industrialized countries than it does on burgeoning polluters like Brazil and India. People can debate the "fairness" of it all they want; the fact is that US representatives are there to see to the interests of US citizens, not Brazilians. Implementing Kyoto as is would cost a lot more American jobs, and kill off what's left of the American manufacturing sector.

But finally, the place to assess the lion's share of the blame is with Americans. Not only do we insist on driving and commuting, but we persist in doing it in gargantuan fuck-you-mobiles. Yes, I know you drive a Prius, and I myself commute in a lowly Honda Accord. But in the aggregate, the SUV marketing ploy worked a bit too well, to where people who didn't even want them were getting them just out of self-defense.

We want to eat our cake and still have it; our sense of sheer entitlement to have it all, as many ways as we like, has never abated. You would think that fighting a war at least in part for access to scarce oil reserves would serve as a signal to conserve, but if anything, the opposite consumption paradigm runs full-tilt, in the face of all logic and common sense.

And Bush knows this full well. Of course he's a toady to the despoilers and polluters and the extraction industry; he's never pretended otherwise. But even if he were the next Theodore Roosevelt, we wouldn't let him be that. We want our toys, and we want to pretend that there are no externalities. Conservation is for suckers.

So if Bush caused Katrina, then we caused it as well, through selfishness, through inattention, through a me-me-me attitude toward our consumption pattern and our interconnectedness with the rest of the world.

The chickens are coming home to roost soon enough. While we've been holding our dicks bringing the gifts of fractious theocracy and ethnic strife to Iraq, China has been both encircling us and economically enslaving us. They have oil extraction contracts around the world, by cultivating relationships with countries we either can't deal with (Sudan, Iran, Venezuela) or friends who are sending signals that they're kinda sick of our shit (Canada). They have done all this while simultaneously amassing a hedge fund out of our T-bills. They will consolidate their resources for the next few years, and then there will be some sort of overture on their part over the re-incorporation of Taiwan.

And then we will be faced with a horrendous choice -- honoring our commitment to defend Taiwan, or honoring our commitment to our own citizens to provide a stable economy.

I have a feeling that they'll have to pry our Hummers from our cold, dead hands.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mock The Vote

BradBlog has a stunner for you -- a Diebold employee coming clean about the voting hijinks last year, from those wonderful electronic machines we just had to fucking have:

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."

The alert, assessed to be of "MEDIUM" risk on the US-CERT security bulletin, goes on to add that there is "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing."

Definitely check out the whole thing, because it's never going to get covered on the network media. It's shit like this that makes me want to go back to just not voting. And as much as we all dump on the apathetic Americans who refuse to get motivated and involved in their political process, as long Diebold and the Bushies get away with this shit, the apathetic folks have a point.

Bush Family Values

I'm not sure offhand how many kids John Ellis "Call me Jeb, neighborino!" Bush has, but can any of them stay out of trouble?

The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.

John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.

Heh indeedy. Drunk and disorderly, jes' like Uncle Shithead. And it's not as if Junior's own siblings haven't been role models for this sort of behavior:

Noelle Bush, the governor's daughter, was arrested in January 2002 and accused of trying to pass a fraudulent prescription at a pharmacy to obtain the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. She completed a drug rehabilitation program in August 2003 and a judge dismissed the drug charges against her.

That's not the entire story, not at all. Noelle Bush also was caught shoplifting in 1995, and was caught with crack cocaine while in rehab. Love how they try to gentrify her though, as if she were just another suburban hausfrau with a little Xanax jones. She's a longtime abuser of street as well as prescription drugs, and the only reason she hasn't done hard time is because of her last name. Too bad the hundreds of thousands of misbegotten souls currently doing time for picayune drug offenses don't have that kinda luck.

And for some reason, Pravda also left out entirely oldest Jeb son George Prescott (a.k.a. "P") Bush, who did a lawn job on a girlfriend's yard at 4AM, and got into an altercation with her father. Check out the details on P, Noelle, and the rest of that vile clan in my seminal Bush family post Top Ten Scions Of The Bush Dynasty, and be sure to float Pravda a reminder that they're downplaying some relevant facts here.

All The Preznit's Friends

As much as we hammer on the corporate network "mainstream" media -- which really just functions as a mechanism for the elites to speak to each other and rile us up with various buzzwords -- we have to give some measure of props to NBC's Brian Williams for his Daily Nightly blog. Williams is doing yeoman's work from the DMZ of post-hurricane New Orleans.

Williams' dispatch after the preznit's weird little speech the other night, in which Bush merely emphasized that he is a hack to the end, contained this little gem:

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

What kind of banana republic bullshit is this? This is of a piece with the infamous levee construction that appeared just in time for His Incompetency's Problem Solvin' helicopter tour, and was gone the next day when Mary Landrieu flew over it by herself.

This is despicable, to jerk around with people's hopes and lives in such a fashion. They think they have power back on -- perhaps the backbone of normalcy in modern America -- and it turns out it's just for show.

As was the speech itself. So Bush's big plan is to throw money at Nawlins for reconstruction. Where will all of this money come from? Certainly not from the rich; Paris Hilton will not have to worry her stupid little head for one second about where her next $10,000 teacup chihuahua will come from.

And we all know where the money will go, too. Halliburton. Bechtel. Crony Joe Allbaugh's clients. Even that weaselly shitbird "Pat" Robertson has his slimy hands in our pockets. There's nothing, no measure of human misery, these guys can't turn a buck off of. And don't count on them to give the taxpayers a break out of, you know, "patriotism" or anything like that.

And to add insult to injury, that useless, treasonous cocksucker Rove is running the show. Figures. One thing's for sure -- he'll make sure the right palms get greased, that the preferred "donors" get to root their snouts furthest into this boondoggle.

Meanwhile, we'll see what all this does to what's left of the economy, and the housing bubble. As transport costs for goods inevitably rise, and gas prices hold around $3.00 per gallon, and people's earning and purchasing power stagnates, consumer confidence will decline, the housing bubble will begin to deflate, and the Chinese will start to get nervous and feel like pulling some of their T-bill investments.

And then we're fucked.

It is impossible to over-emphasize the extent to which this area is under government occupation, and portions of it under government-enforced lockdown. Police cars rule the streets. They (along with Humvees, ambulances, fire apparatus, FEMA trucks and all official-looking SUVs) are generally not stopped at checkpoints and roadblocks. All other vehicles are subject to long lines and snap judgments and must PROVE they have vital business inside the vast roped-off regions here. If we did not have the services of an off-duty law enforcement officer, we could not do our jobs in the course of a work day and get back in time to put together the broadcast and get on the air. As we are about to do.

Well, at least the media are allowed access after all. That's vital. But the sooner the citizens of New Orleans are allowed to get on with their lives, instead of living under martial law, the better.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Survivor Update

Why is this stupid fucking show still on? Who's watching this crap, anyway? Didn't this thing jump the shark back around Ross and Rachel's fifth breakup?

Oh yeah, the update. It still sucks. The only reason there are still any of these moronic contrived "reality" shows on the air is because they're much cheaper to produce than something that requires writers and actors. That still doesn't explain how anyone could sit through it. It's about as entertaining as watching flies fuck.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Listening to the introductory overtures to the confirmation hearings for John Roberts is to be immersed in the contrasting obsessions of how the main American political sects relate to the Constitution.

The right approaches every comma with the utmost reverence, asserting full-tilt that great men like Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin meant exactly and only what they said. This strange assumption essentially means that these intelligent, innovative people suddenly took leave of their senses and decided that human achievement and intellectual development had peaked in 1787.

In many ways, that's not an entirely unfounded assertion. Have you ever watched Street Smarts?

And from the left, Roe v. Wade is some sort of totemistic catch-all for reducing a complicated set of social mores and jurisprudential principles. One might start to think that the most pressing issue we face as a nation is ensuring the absolute right for thirteen-year-old girls to get abortions without parental consent, though they have not a single other right accrued to persons of majority age, like voting, driving -- or indeed, agreeing to any other medical procedure. In fact, if that girl were to, say, steal a car to get to the clinic to get that procedure without her parents' knowledge, and get in a wreck and kill someone along the way, there is every chance that the parents would be held legally liable for damage. Does that make sense to you?

In the meantime, far more important rights such as the Fourth Amendment -- which directly affects the entire population -- go unmentioned while they get gutted like a trophy fish. You wanna right to privacy, look at your Fourth Amendment. The War On Some Drugs has rendered it all but non-existent -- the cops could get the wrong house number, kick your door down, and accidentally shoot you in a drug raid. Too bad, so sad.

Or look at how eminent domain just got twisted like a corporate pretzel. Your house could get yanked for a strip mall now, not just a freeway or a school. Corporate developers are licking their chops over the recent Kelo decision.

Call me crazy, but I'm a lot more concerned about those issues, than whether teenagers get rights they're really not emotionally equipped (hence the foundation of statutory rape laws) to handle. Yet I've heard nothing of the sort from my dear DiFi thus far.

And the most recent major ruling, with the most potential to damage our system, may be this one handed down just last week by a federal appeals court:

In a victory for the Bush administration, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that the government can continue to hold indefinitely an American accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb."

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to reverse a judge's order that the government either charge or free Jose Padilla, who has been in custody for more than three years.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al-Qaida, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

Look, if there's evidence showing that Padilla intended to do what he supposedly plotted to do, then present it. Present it in a secret tribunal, if it's relevant sensitive info that could tip our hand.

But to abrogate the right to due process -- the backbone of our judicial system -- on the say-so of the executive branch is what they do in banana republics. This is fucking stupid; either charge the guy already or let him go if you got nothing on him.

Then again, maybe Bush feels this gives him an actual bit of kinship with Lincoln. You be the judge -- or, perhaps Luttig will, since coincidentally or not, his name has been in the hopper for a prospective SCOTUS nomination for some time. And he hates Roe, for starters; pretty much any curb to authoritarianism or religious nannyism, for that matter.

This Survey USA poll confirms what everyone already knows about the pro-life/pro-choice demographics. The attempt to gut Roe v. Wade along the "states' rights" argument should be a non-starter; either abortion is legal or it isn't. Women in Utah have the same rights as women in New York, do they not?

I haven't heard a single leading Democrat frame this argument in such obvious terms, and for the life of me, I have no idea why they're not doing it. Such a tack might enable them to get on with more pressing subjects. It's nice that they all know how to make it look and sound like they're doing something, but it'd be even nicer if they did something.

So strap in for an exciting week or so of esoteric minutiae like "original intent" and "stare decisis" and "penumbra", and keep in mind that the main goal for the people who selected Roberts is that he fill the Rehnquist role for the next thirty years or so.

Which makes me hope that the teenage daughters of the values voters get a nice visit from the stork soon. Payback's a bitch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

He'll Always Be #2 To Us

You know, we keep alluding to the notion that George W. Bush behaves like a spoiled child, but does he have to keep helping us?

Here's the actual Reuters caption, which is just unintentionally hi-larious:

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war.

That's right, folks. Strong, capable, competent leadership -- just as soon as he pinches a loaf. Jesus Christ, what the fuck is wrong with this fucking guy? You can arrange for a break any time, for any reason; why on earth would you write a note to one of your subordinates elaborating specifically on the need to go potty?

He wants all the decorum and pomp and circumstance when he's in the spotlight, but soon as he gets off the porch -- no matter where he goes -- he's at the fucking feed store shootin' the shit with Gomer and Cooter. It's only a matter of time before he starts scratching his nuts at press conferences.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

And The Winner Of The Blame Game Is....

Awful large of the Boy Blunder to fess up to dropping the ball, a mere two weeks after he showed us all that he plays git-tar the same way he preznits -- he mugs and fakes his way through it.

I'm sure his faithful window-licker base thinks it's the George Washington myth all over again, unable to lie about chopping down the cherry tree. At least we can assume that Washington apocryphally told the truth because he had character, not because he had Tweety Matthews leading the brigade of 800 cable news wonks halfway up his ass with a microscope, documenting every lie and nervous twitch, every jot and tittle, every nuanced catch-phrase repeated ad nauseam.

No doubt Harvard figgers he dodged hisself a bullet by ending the blame game. But objectively, his admission basically puts the onus on him now to explain why he and his minions first had to spend two weeks disparaging all the critics before admitting what the entire world saw and knew full well by August 29th.

Ol' Blackwater, Keep On Rollin'

Blackwater mercenaries have been re-deployed from their current mission of securing Iraq's theocracy to secure order in New Orleans. Hijinks are practically guaranteed to ensue.

Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force. Several mercenaries we spoke with said they had served in Iraq on the personal security details of the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer and the former US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte.

"This is a totally new thing to have guys like us working CONUS (Continental United States)," a heavily armed Blackwater mercenary told us as we stood on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. "We're much better equipped to deal with the situation in Iraq."

"CONUS". Love it. This raises some issues that have been on my mind since about when the Abu Ghraib scandal first went public last May. There were quite a few reports at the time that private contractors had been heavily involved in interrogation sessions, some of which resulted in fatalities.

In general principle, the privatization of combat functions for the military is kind of a scary thing anyway. Remember, the military theoretically is beholden to -- and speaks for -- the American citizenry. The mercenary is not; there is no accountability. In fact, that's why they're being used more and more -- it's much easier to flush their wrongdoings down the memory hole.

So why exactly are mercenaries being deputized and empowered with shoot-to-kill orders? Is this some sort of end-run around Posse Comitatus?

Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago.

What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments.

Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees.

As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons. This despite Police Commissioner Eddie Compass' claim that "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons."

It's somewhat frightening to think about just what kind of powers certain corporations are allowed to exert over supposedly free, independent American citizens. At this point though, it's the intellectual equivalent of shutting the barn door long after the horse has gone down the road. Most prisons across the country are run by private contractors like Wackenhut and Unicor. Certain aspects of military ops have been getting privatized for years now; companies like Blackwater, Titan, and CACI are generally started up by ex-special ops guys in the first place.

The reason why they leave for the private sector is obvious -- more money. But you have to consider the upside for the government here to outsource cerain military functions. Less accountability. Less scrutiny. Easier to cover tracks. Less chance of internal whistleblowers. And it's all on the "black budget" -- only certain members of Congress are fully apprised of the specifics, and the public will never know the full extent of this.

This is a perfect example of the very real danger of allowing corporate interests to literally have the power to make life-or-death decisions for people.

Officially, Blackwater says it forces are in New Orleans to "join the Hurricane Relief Effort." A statement on the company's website, dated September 1, advertises airlift services, security services and crowd control. The company, according to news reports, has since begun taking private contracts to guard hotels, businesses and other properties. But what has not been publicly acknowledged is the claim, made to us by 2 Blackwater mercenaries, that they are actually engaged in general law enforcement activities including "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals."

That raises a key question: under what authority are Blackwater's men operating? A spokesperson for the Homeland Security Department, Russ Knocke, told the Washington Post he knows of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security. "We believe we've got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety." he said.

But in an hour-long conversation with several Blackwater mercenaries, we heard a different story. The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force. We encountered the Blackwater forces as we walked through the streets of the largely deserted French Quarter. We were talking with 2 New York Police officers when an unmarked car without license plates sped up next to us and stopped. Inside were 3 men, dressed in khaki uniforms, flak jackets and wielding automatic weapons. "Y'all know where the Blackwater guys are?" they asked. One of the police officers responded, "There are a bunch of them around here," and pointed down the road.


"When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?,'" said one of the Blackwater men. He was wearing his company ID around his neck in a carrying case with the phrase "Operation Iraqi Freedom" printed on it. After bragging about how he drives around Iraq in a "State Department issued level 5, explosion proof BMW," he said he was "just trying to get back to Kirkuk (in the north of Iraq) where the real action is." Later we overheard him on his cell phone complaining that Blackwater was only paying $350 a day plus per diem. That is much less than the men make serving in more dangerous conditions in Iraq. Two men we spoke with said they plan on returning to Iraq in October. But, as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations."

That can't be good.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Bunker Mentality

This article in the upcoming Newsweek gives the required overview of what went wrong in disaster response to Hurricane Katrina. But the part I found most interesting was in the beginning of the article. Sheds a lot of light on what passes for the decision-making process around there.

It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS.


The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night.


President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.


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.

Perfect. Just what you expect from the supposedly supple, corporate efficiency that we were all promised this administration would be run with. Jesus, what is he, five years old? After 9/11, Bush got his wish, and his mandate. He had free rein to do what he wanted to truly reform the security structure of this country, and he chose to fold FEMA into a much larger clusterfuck bureaucracy, and then stock it with his useless toadies.

Then when things go south, he doesn't wanna hear about it. Tough shit, Hopalong.

Dan Froomkin has more:

Mike Allen writes in Time: "Longtime Bush watchers say they are not shocked that he missed his moment -- one of his most trusted confidants calls him 'a better third- and fourth-quarter player,' who focuses and delivers when he sees the stakes. What surprised them was that he still appeared to be stutter-stepping in the second week of the crisis, struggling to make up for past lapses instead of taking control with a grand gesture. Just as Katrina exposed the lurking problems of race and poverty, it also revealed the limitations of Bush's rigid, top-down approach to the presidency. . . .

"Bush's bubble has grown more hermetic in the second term, they say, with fewer people willing or able to bring him bad news -- or tell him when he's wrong. Bush has never been adroit about this. A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. 'The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me,' the aide recalled about a session during the first term. 'Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, "All right. I understand. Good job." He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom.' . . .

"The result is a kind of echo chamber in which good news can prevail over bad -- even when there is a surfeit of evidence to the contrary. For example, a source tells Time that four days after Katrina struck, Bush himself briefed his father and former President Clinton in a way that left too rosy an impression of the progress made. 'It bore no resemblance to what was actually happening,' said someone familiar with the presentation."

You know, we keep referring to this useless asshole as "Dear Cheerleader", but the more we find out about how things get done around there, the less such an appellation looks like mere snarky polemic, and more like the cold hard truth.

So what's the big fourth-quarter comeback plan for the strutting, stammering cowboy quarterback?

Allen has an exclusive look at the administration's "three-part comeback plan."

Part one: "Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later."

Part two: "Don't look back."

Part three: "Develop a new set of goals to announce after Katrina fades. Advisers are proceeding with plans to gin up base-conservative voters for next year's congressional midterm elections with a platform that probably will be focused around tax reform."

Nice, huh? Just throw money at the rubes -- money we don't have anymore because somebody flushed the fuckin' surplus we had just five years back -- and they'll forget and forgive. It may even work -- the red states just seem temperamentally inclined to let this moron run wild with their lives.

New Orleans will rise again; Halliburton will see to it. Oh, it'll be a Disneyfied, gentrified shell of itself; the mostly black and poor hurricane diaspora simply won't have enough money to return. They might be better off not returning. It looks like it's going to be a toxic mess for some time:

Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, a US government official has told The Independent on Sunday. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.

In an exclusive interview, Hugh Kaufman, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health.

The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analysed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work.


Few people are better qualified to judge the extent of the problem. Mr Kaufman, who has been with the EPA since it was founded 35 years ago, helped to set up its hazardous waste programme. After serving as chief investigator to the EPA's ombudsman, he is now senior policy analyst in its Office of Solid Wastes and Emergency Response. He said the clean-up needed to be "the most massive public works exercise ever done", adding: "It will take 10 years to get everything up and running and safe."

Mr Kaufman claimed the Bush administration was playing down the need for a clean-up: the EPA has not been included in the core White House group tackling the crisis. "Its budget has been cut and inept political hacks have been put in key positions," Mr Kaufman said. "All the money for emergency response has gone to buy guns and cowboys - which don't do anything when a hurricane hits. We were less prepared for this than we would have been on 10 September 2001."

He said the water being pumped out of the city was not being tested for pollution and would damage Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river, and endanger people using it downstream.

Huh. And yet all we see and hear from this simpering ninny zipping around acting preznitential is what a great multi-tasker/problem solver he really is:

QUESTION: Mr. President, does the federal government need the authority to come in earlier, or even in advance of a storm that threatening?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that's one of the interesting issues that Congress needs to take a look at. And it's really important that as we take a step back and learn lessons, that we are in a position to adequately answer the question, are we prepared for major catastrophes, that the system is such that we're able to work closely together and that --

QUESTION: Do you recommend that Congress consider allowing the federal government to act more quickly?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think it's very important for Congress to take a good, close look at what went on, what didn't go on, and come up with a series of recommendations. And my attitude is, is that we need to learn everything we possibly can; we need to make sure that this country is knitted up as well as it can be, in order to deal with significant problems and disasters. Meantime, we've got to keep moving forward.

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

You know, Harvard, "I don't know" takes much less time to say. I realize it's tough to think and speak extemporaneously when you just want shake hands and look like you're doin' somethin', but shit.

Anyway, Harvard's final sentence there ought to give one pause. What happened along the Gulf Coast could be considered to have been a very generous rehearsal for disaster preparedness.

Ask yourself two very simple questions:
  1. Do you think it is likely or very likely that the U.S. will experience another terrorist attack some time in the next three years?

  2. Based on the actions and responses from the Bush administration to the predictable destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, how do you feel about this team's capabilities in the field of disaster preparation and emergency management?

Keep in mind that Bush clearly doesn't even know what the federal government's powers are to supersede state and local authorities in the event of a catastrophe. (I don't know either, but I'm guessing that the point of federalizing these things is to have someone at the top who can delegate to everyone else.)

Here's more of Mister Man smacking his spoon on the high chair and kicking his feet when someone asks him a question he don't wike:

QUESTION: Mr. President, there is a belief that we've been hearing for two weeks now on the ground that FEMA let the people here on the ground down. And perhaps, in turn, if you look at the evidence of what it's done to your popularity, FEMA let you down. Do you think that your management style of sort of relying on the advice that you got in this particular scenario let you down? And do you think that plays at all ...

PRESIDENT BUSH: Look, there will be plenty of time to play the blame game. That's what you're trying to do.

QUESTION: No, I'm trying to ...

PRESIDENT BUSH: You're trying to say somebody is at fault. Look -- and I want to know. I want to know exactly what went on and how it went on. And we'll continually assess inside my administration. I sent Mike Chertoff down here to make an assessment of how best to do the job. He made a decision; I accepted his decision. But we're moving on. We're going to solve these problems. And there will be ample time for people to look back and see the facts.

Hee hee. Bush doesn't seem to realize that the media really have treated his gang with kid gloves, even in the midst of all the mal-fee-ance. Consider some of the rotten things this gang has gotten away with, relatively unscathed, where Clinton nearly got thrown out of office for getting his pole smoked a few times.

As NBC's Brian Williams acknowledged the other day, it's been because the media had collectively, consciously or not, decided to go easy on these guys for the sake of the country's ability to get going again after 9/11. This is understandable, though they let it go on for far too long, and I think they're finally starting to get that.

But regardless, Bush again does not seem to get just how much of a pass he's gotten from them. They have cheerfully regurgitated his babbling nonsense as if it were rhetorical genius, reported uncritically his factually false talking points, and let his minions get away with all sorts of anonymous falsehoods, without ever burning a source, no matter how treacherous. They've even put up with his stupid demeaning frat-boy nicknames as if they were some sort of badge of honor.

But the American corporate media are a herd, to say the least, and the momentum has shifted. They seem to be deciding that they've hit a wall with the fake hickisms and forced jocularity. Juxtaposing floating corpses and slumped-over grannies with a know-nothing buffoon dicking around while a city goes under can do that to you.

Every one of Bush's boilerplate responses demonstrates more and more that he's not only not worthy of their adulation, he's not even worthy of their (or our) respect:

QUESTION: Did they misinform you when you said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees?

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

Of course, there were plans in case the levee had been breached. There was a sense of relaxation in the moment, a critical moment. And thank you for giving me a chance to clarify that.

QUESTION: Mr. President, where were you when you realized the severity of the storm?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I was -- I knew that a big storm was coming on Monday, so I spoke to the country on Monday* morning about it. I said, there's a big storm coming. I had pre-signed emergency declarations in anticipation of a big storm coming.

QUESTION: Mr. President ...

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- which is, by the way, extraordinary. Most emergencies the President signs after the storm has hit. It's a rare occasion for the President to anticipate the severity of a storm and sign the documentation prior to the storm hitting. So, in other words, we anticipated a serious storm coming. But as the man's question said, basically implied, wasn't there a moment where everybody said, well, gosh, we dodged the bullet, and yet the bullet hadn't been dodged.

Yeah yeah, we get it already, chump. Blame game, dodged a bullet, blame game, dodged a bullet. We just want the facts because we're problem solvers. Blabbidy blah-blah. I keep hearing this "dodged a bullet" meme, that "lots of people said so". Okay. Name one. Then, assuming that even one name can be dug up, suppose he explains how all the Monday morning papers with banner headlines and full-page photographs proclaiming "devastation" and "catastrophe" escaped the attention of Le Dauphin and the idiots who advise him.

Suppose he explains why Condi Rice is catching Broadway shows and buying thousands of dollars worth of shoes four days after everyone knew that the "bullet" hadn't really been "dodged". Suppose he explains why Dick Cheney stayed holed up in Wyoming that entire week, cancelling his appointed trip to the Alberta oil fields only at the last minute, on Friday, to high-tail it back to Washington at long last.

This administration has a lot to answer for. Bush seems not recognize that, or understand why, which only underscores just how out-of-touch he is. Mike Brown's resignation only slows the bleeding. And if the librul media really have finally decided to stop carrying George W. Bush's water for him, he's toast. There's just too much more stuff waiting to be unearthed. He may actually know that much in the back of his mind, hence the bunker mentality.