Thursday, August 31, 2006

Crumble


May 17: “[T]he first signs of decay are starting. … Subtle things, that no one else seems to notice, as they happen ever so slowly. The schools and the library and other public buildings aren’t quite as clean, quite as kept-up, as they used to be. The streets aren’t quite as clean. The potholes and the cracked sidewalks don’t get fixed as quickly, or at all. There are more houses around town that need fresh paint, more vacant retail spaces. Little things. Little degrees of difference. But they’re everywhere, when you really look. They’re the little things that indicate that salaries aren’t keeping up with inflation, that local and state governments don’t have the funds they used to. Belt-tightening everywhere. The house can go another year without paint. The City Hall can go another year, or two, without tuckpointing. We can get rid of a couple of sanitation trucks, give up a couple of salt trucks in the winter. We don’t need two toll booths onto the interstate open; one is fine. Little things that no one really notices, to stave off the rot for as long as we can. Little things that happen in communities like mine before crime starts to go up in communities that aren’t as fortunate, communities that don’t have any give in their belts to begin with. … [We] need someone to care about putting money—and attention—back into America again.”

Today: “You know how to tell when a nation is in decline? Just look at its infrastructure. A society on the rise is marked by trains that run on time and well, highways that are a pleasure to drive upon, and basic services that work well. That's not happening in the U.S. anymore. Our pal RJ Eskow details: ‘The American Society of Civil Engineers last year graded the nation "D" for its overall infrastructure conditions, estimating that it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to fix the problem.’ The U.S. is in decline, ladies and germs, and that decline has been hastened by the people in power for the past six years.”

Hastened by the war in Iraq, which was supposed to pay for itself. My governor, Mitch Daniels, who was the White House Budget Director during the run-up to the war, asserted the war would be an “affordable endeavor,” and rejected as “very, very high” the chief White House economic adviser’s estimate that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. The war has already cost us well over $200 billion.

Hasted by out-of-control wasteful government spending, with Congress having approved a record $29 billion in earmarks for 2006, including crap like $591,017,000 for eight additional C-130J aircraft, even though a “2004 report from the office of the inspector general of the Department of Defense rated the J model unsatisfactory and cited deficiencies in, among other things, its defensive systems,” and $1,300,000 for berry research in Alaska.

Hastened by tax cuts, 70% of the savings generated by which benefit the top 2% (those making $200,000 or more) of taxpayers. Bush’s tax cuts cost the government over $75 billion in revenue from those making $100,000 or more. (See chart below.)


(Click on image for larger view.)

Hasted by the increasing disparity in wealth between individuals and corporations. (See chart below, via Eric Hopp.)


“[W]ages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as ‘the golden era of profitability’.”

Additionally, corporations share significantly less of the tax revenue burden than they used to. “In 1965, individual taxpayers paid 66% of all US income taxes, and corporations paid about a third. But by 2000, the corporate share had dropped to 18%, just about half what it used to be.”


And it has fallen since. TomPaine: “The treasury department reports the federal government collected $184 billion in corporate income taxes in 2004 (up from $ 132 billion in 2003)—or just 9.6 percent of total taxes collected.”

In less than 40 years, corporations’ tax share fell from 31% to less than 10%. Meanwhile, the minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 1998, and “the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation,” even though productivity (and corporate profits) continued to rise steadily over the same period.

The average American worker is being robbed blind by a massive redistribution of wealth orchestrated by a government that leaves itself wallowing in deficits and unable to sustain the infrastructure on which those Americans depend. The nation is crumbling. If we continue down this path, forget drowning the government in a bathtub; we won’t even be able to afford the tub.

(The crosspost was enough to make a shy, bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder.)


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

See, here’s the thing…


Most people aren’t dumb. There are a lot of ignorant people, and there are certainly, especially in politics, a lot of people who like to play dumb, but most of them aren’t. And when they play dumb, what they’re really doing is treating us like we’re dumb, which is why we should always look behind the innocent façades and the claims of gosh-darn-shucks-stupidity, because when we do, we find things like the Downing Street Memo, and Dick Armitage’s signature on the PNAC letter, and George Allen’s long history with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group which was created from the mailing list of the old white supremacist White Citizens Councils and has been noted as becoming increasingly “radical and racist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the CCC as a hate group.

Asked whether Allen supports or deplores the CCC, John Reid, his communications director pleaded ignorance. "I am unaware of the group you mention or their agenda and because we have no record of the Senator having involvement with them I cannot offer you any opinion on them," Reid told me in an e-mail response.
Oops.


In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
Yeah. There’s a lot more at the link.

People like George Allen—and George Bush—aren’t fools. They just like to play us for fools. The soft bigotry of low expectations indeed.

If we learn anything from this reign of heinous miscreants, let it be that if something whiffs of shit, that’s probably because it’s emanating from someone who’s full of it.

(El crossposto!)




Recycled Cronies: Second Verse, Same as the First!


Total frigging dickhead and partisan wanker Kenneth Tomlinson, whose disgraced ousting from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting after rules violations (trying to turn PBS into a GOP mouthpiece) wasn’t seen as a bad thing by the White House, but evidence that he was fit to be appointed instead as the head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (which oversees government broadcasts to foreign countries), has now made a mockery of that post as well, by using his office to run a horse racing operation and putting a friend on the payroll. He also “repeatedly used government employees to perform personal errands and that he billed the government for more days of work than the rules permit.” What a charmer.

A spokeswoman for the White House, Emily Lawrimore, said President Bush continued to support Mr. Tomlinson’s renomination.
Of course he does.

(I am the son and the heir of a cross-post that is criminally vulgar)


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

LOL!


Fucking hell, the balls on this guy:


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease "a new type of fascism."

In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.

In remarks to several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failed efforts to appease the Adolf Hitler regime in the 1930s.

"I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.
I don’t even know what to say. It’s doubleplusgood, bitchez!

(This is what it sounds like when cross-posts cry.)




The Lowe Down


"It's so devastating, it's so sad. It looks like it happened last month. It's so depressing." — Rob Lowe on the “still decimated Ninth Ward of New Orleans.” (Lowe is there shooting a movie; he was offered Canada or New Orleans and took a pay cut to go to NOLA so he could help bring business back there.)

Aside: Does anyone else consider it the height of bitter irony that debris clean-up is still unfinished a year later, under the leadership of a president who spends his plentiful vacation time clearing brush?


(El crossposto!)




President Photo Op


Despicable:

New Orleans—On the eve of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike here, President Bush returned to the devastated region on Monday promising to continue federal assistance and, with his presidency still under the shadow of the slow response to the storm, eagerly pointed out signs of progress in reconstructing the Gulf Coast.

…In an event with echoes of his prime-time speech in Jackson Square here last September, Mr. Bush spoke in a working-class neighborhood in Biloxi against a backdrop of neatly reconstructed homes. But just a few feet away, outside the scene captured by the camera, stood gutted houses with wires dangling from ceilings. A tattered piece of crime-scene tape hung from a tree in the field where Mr. Bush spoke. A toilet sat on its side in the grass.
Via The Carpetbagger Report, here’s the reality on the ground, as opposed to the fantasyland Bush lives in where toilets in yards are an optimistic sign and unicorn piss is the magic elixir that will fix everything:

* Less than half of the city's pre-storm population of 460,000 has returned, putting the population at roughly what it was in 1880.

* Nearly a third of the trash has yet to be picked up.

* Sixty percent of homes still lack electricity.

* Seventeen percent of the buses are operational.

* Half of the physicians have left, and there is a shortage of 1,000 nurses.

* Six of the nine hospitals remain closed.

* Sixty-six percent of public schools have reopened.

* A 40 percent hike in rental rates, disproportionately affecting black and low-income families.

* A 300 percent increase in the suicide rate.

Get with the program, Bush, you fucking nitwit.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


Monday, August 28, 2006

One side effect…


…of trying to destroy the federal government (or, you know, just “get[ting] it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub”) is that you also destroy the public’s faith in the government—and, imagine this, those who govern.

Their confidence shaken by Katrina, most Americans don't believe the nation is ready for another major disaster, a new AP-Ipsos poll finds.

…Fifty-seven percent in the poll said they felt at least somewhat strongly the country was ill-prepared — up from 44 percent in the days after the storm slammed ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. Just one in three Americans polled believe Bush did a good job with Katrina, down from 46 percent a year ago.

33%. Heckuva job, Bushie.

(Don't you, cross-post about me...)





Gore: Democracy is under attack


In Edinburgh to promote An Inconvenient Truth, Gore minced no words: “In my country and others around the world democracy is under attack.”

"There's a feeling in the US on the part of many that the way democracy operates today is very different from the system we learned about in school."

He said that democracy, which he described as a "conversation", was now "more controlled and centralised", and that the most important role of the media was to facilitate democracy.

Gore said American politicians were spending their time raising funds at small gatherings and cocktail parties because, "the only thing that matters in American politics now is having enough money to put 30-second commercials on air to persuade the voters to elect or re-elect you."
Gore added that the internet offers “the promise of recreating a meritocracy of ideas.” Let it be as you say, sir.

Also, when Gore was asked the recently popular question of whether Bush is stupid, he replied, “I don't think he's unintelligent at all. He's incurious ... there's a puzzling lack of curiosity,” proving once again that he is not only a scholar, but a gentleman. Because if I had been subjected to repeated charges that I was “too brainy” and “too wonky” and “too professorial” and all that shit like he was by the media in 2000, only to have them ask six long years later whether Bush is stupid, I would have screamed, “Fuck youuuuuuuu, assholes!” just before my head exploded.

(I'm a little bit cross-post, and a little bit rock and roll.)




Katrina One Year Later


Over at Shakespeare's Sister, I've got a round-up of all the bloggers recognizing the one-year anniversary of Katrina. Stop by and take a look if you have the chance.


Friday, August 25, 2006

No Wonder I'm Losing My Hair



I'm closing on my new home and moving on Monday. My life is currently packed away in small boxes. I'm trying to get a couch delivered, and my building and the delivery company are refusing to compromise on times. I went to a wake last night, and I'm going to a wedding tonight. I just had to run an errand for one of our directors that's apparently too good to go to Kinko's, and when I emerged from picking up his posters, my car was gone. So was the truck that was blocking the sign stating that the metered space I was in is a tow zone on street cleaning Fridays. It cost me $160 and two hours to get my car out of impound, and when I walked to my car, there was a $50 ticket on it for a street cleaning violation.

Then, upon returning, the director notices a barely perceptible line on the poster; he wants it reprinted. He calls Kinko's and asks while I'm at lunch if they'll do it. Sure, they've got the file, all he has to do is email them the name of the poster. He gets the email address, has the name of the poster... and asks me to handle it.

I'm so fucking seriously glad I'm leaving early today.

Anyway, like I said, the big move is on Monday. Shakespeare's Sister has kindly agreed to fill in for me while I'm without computer, so be polite little boys and girls. I'll see you all sometime next week! If my head doesn't explode.




Name That Cult Movie- The Answering


Here there be answers!

1. "What is this, a freak-out?"- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Hey, this version had anachronisms in it, too! Uttered by the apparently pretty hip Violet Beauregarde.

2. "Well, again, I didn't mean to throw a damper. Believe me that's the last thing I'd like to throw. I don't want to throw anything at all really. But when folks are horribly mutilated, I feel it's my job to tell others. We take our horrible mutilations seriously up in these parts."

"I'm sure you do. Honey, the Ranger's just doing his job."

"Of course he is. I'm sorry Ranger Brad. I guess all this talk of horrible mutilation has me on edge."

"That's all right Dr. Armstrong. This horrible mutilation has a whole lot of people on a whole lot of edges."- The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: I was surprised to see all the love for this movie! This was an indie '04 film that spoofed B-flicks of the 1950's, and they did an amazing job. If you have an affection for movies like this, I highly recommend renting it.

3. "As the cars roar into Pennsylvania, the cradle of liberty, it seems apparent that our citizens are staying off the streets, which may make scoring particularly difficult, even with this year's rule changes. To recap those revisions: women are still worth 10 points more than men in all age brackets, but teenagers now rack up 40 points, and toddlers under 12 now rate a big 70 points. The big score: anyone, any sex, over 75 years old has been upped to 100 points."- Death Race 2000: Directed by the late, great Paul Bartel. It's the year 2000, and the mysterious "Mr. President" has created the Transcontinental Road race to keep his starving proles distracted. In this high speed car race, you're rewarded not only for time and speed, but also for how many pedestrians you take out along the way. The future of Spike TV.

4. "Daddy! You have got to come and get me... I'm at Betty's Bakery and we've got homicidal baked goods after us!"- The Gingerdead Man: Killer gingerbread man movie. Uh, don't waste your time. Gary Busey's the only thing this movie has going for it, and he's in it all of two minutes.

5. "How you doing back there, Ivan?"

(In Russian) "If I still had legs, I'd kick your ass!"

"Could you hold this guy for a while? He is so negative."- Hellboy: Okay, so it was a big, dumb Hollywood 'splosions movie with a lot of problems. But it was a big, dumb Hollywood 'splosions movie with a lot of problems that was also a hell of a lot of fun. Ron Perlman simply can do no wrong.

6. "She disintegrated perfectly, but never reappeared."

"Where's she gone?"

"Into space... a stream of cat atoms... It'd be funny if life weren't so sacred."- The Fly: The original, with Vincent Price, bitches! I'm really tempted to start using this quote around pro-life zealots, just to be annoying.

7. (reading)"Iterociter incorporating planetary generator. Iterociter with voltarator. With astroscope."

"Here's something my wife could use in the house. An 'iterociter incorporating an electron sorter.'"

"Oh, she'd probably gain 20 pounds while it did all the work for her."- This Island Earth: God, I love sexist 50's sci-fi dialogue. A classic on its own, made into a double classic when it was the subject of the barbs in MST3K: The Movie. Rent either one, or both! I particularly liked Ryan's observation in comments:
What's not mentioned is that the interociter is powered by the sexual tension between lead scientist Cal and his assistant Joe.
Heh.

8. "No one wishes to see a man dance!"- Orgy of the Dead: How very, very, hetero. Ed Wood's "nekkid ladies dancing" masterpiece, made even more wonderful by the incoherent (and probably drunk) presence of Criswell as... The Emperor! The Mummy! The Wolfman! Beefcake! Cheesecake! Lounge music! Oh, my cup runneth over.

9. "Flag on the moon, how did it get there?"- The Beast of Yucca Flats: Wow... deep. Everyone's pal, Tor Johnson (Tor!), "plays" a brilliant scientist turned into a rampaging monster by nuclear radiation, who beats everyone up. Written and directed by Coleman Francis, who is well known and feared by fans of MST3K.

10. "You sucked out her brains?"

"Yeah. Right through her mouth."

"Is she dead?"

(laughs) "Of course she's dead... what, are you kidding?"- Brain Damage: A sick little horror flick with a great sense of humor that's also a ton of fun. A worm-like parasite named "Aylmer" escapes from an elderly couple that is keeping it trapped in the bathtub, and hitches a ride with dopey Rick. Rick, needless to say, isn't amused, until he gets a hit of the hallucinogenic, euphoric drug that Aylmer injects directly into his brain. Nuttiness (and gore) ensues! Adding to the fun (and insanity) is that Aylmer is voiced by the "Cool Ghoul," Zacherley! Well worth a rental, especially since it was recently released in a slick special edition DVD.

Thanks for playing! Now, let's all go to the lobby... let's all go to the lobby... let's all go to the lobby, and get ourselves a treat!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Name That Cult Movie Game!



My goodness gracious me, I haven't done one of these in a long time. Here we go; leave your guesses in comments. Remember, every time you cheat with the IMDB, a snow baby gets diaper rash!

1. "What is this, a freak-out?"

2. "Well, again, I didn't mean to throw a damper. Believe me that's the last thing I'd like to throw. I don't want to throw anything at all really. But when folks are horribly mutilated, I feel it's my job to tell others. We take our horrible mutilations seriously up in these parts."

"I'm sure you do. Honey, the Ranger's just doing his job."

"Of course he is. I'm sorry Ranger Brad. I guess all this talk of horrible mutilation has me on edge."

"That's all right Dr. Armstrong. This horrible mutilation has a whole lot of people on a whole lot of edges."

3. "As the cars roar into Pennsylvania, the cradle of liberty, it seems apparent that our citizens are staying off the streets, which may make scoring particularly difficult, even with this year's rule changes. To recap those revisions: women are still worth 10 points more than men in all age brackets, but teenagers now rack up 40 points, and toddlers under 12 now rate a big 70 points. The big score: anyone, any sex, over 75 years old has been upped to 100 points."

4. "Daddy! You have got to come and get me... I'm at Betty's Bakery and we've got homicidal baked goods after us!"

5. "How you doing back there, Ivan?"

(In Russian) "If I still had legs, I'd kick your ass!"

"Could you hold this guy for a while? He is so negative."

6. "She disintegrated perfectly, but never reappeared."

"Where's she gone?"

"Into space... a stream of cat atoms... It'd be funny if life weren't so sacred."

7. (reading)"Iterociter incorporating planetary generator. Iterociter with voltarator. With astroscope."

"Here's something my wife could use in the house. An 'iterociter incorporating an electron sorter.'"

"Oh, she'd probably gain 20 pounds while it did all the work for her."

8. "No one wishes to see a man dance!"

9. "Flag on the moon, how did it get there?"

10. "You sucked out her brains?"

"Yeah. Right through her mouth."

"Is she dead?"

(laughs) "Of course she's dead... what, are you kidding?"




How About if We All Just Seal Ourselves in Plastic?


Would satisfy you sex hating, fetus worshipping, "I'll tell you what you can and can't do with your body" hysterical wingnuts? Because the end of this article just makes me insane.

FDA Eases Limits on Morning-After Pill

Attention wingnuts. This is GOOD news.
WASHINGTON - Women may buy the morning-after pill without a prescription — but only with proof they're 18 or older, federal health officials decided Thursday. The Food and Drug Administration ruling culminated a contentious three-year effort to ease access to the emergency contraceptive.

Girls 17 and younger still will need a doctor's note to buy the pills, called Plan B, the FDA told manufacturer Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The compromise decision is a partial victory for women's advocacy and medical groups which say eliminating sales restrictions could cut in half the nation's 3 million annual unplanned pregnancies. Opponents have argued that wider access could increase promiscuity.
Of course, increasing promiscuity. It's always about people fucking. This should be one of those rare instances where both sides of the debate are in agreement. Is it really that difficult for these "opponents" to understand that increasing access to birth control will actually reduce the number of abortions?

But no, that's not good enough. It's never good enough. They will not be happy until sex ceases. No one, anywhere, can touch anyone ever again, unless it's for the purpose of making bebbuhs. And I'm sure they're working on that one, too.
But opponent Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said Plan B's wider availability could give women a false sense of security, since it isn't as effective as regular birth control. Wright also worries that adult men who have sex with minor girls could force the pills upon them.
What is it with these wingnuts that they always have to go to the most extreme, bizarre scenario when they are opposing something? As if, without the pill, sexual deviance doesn't exist. As if "adult men who have sex with minor girls forcing the pills upon them" is somehow worse than the man forcing himself upon them. Here's another hysterical reaction:
Drs. Galson and Woodcock both said in their own depositions and public statements that scientific considerations drove their decisions. One memorandum that has since been made public states that Dr. Woodcock told agency employees that she feared that Plan B could take on “ ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults.”
I can't believe these lunatics are actually taken seriously when decisions are made that can affect the lives and health of others.




Stupid Science Types and their Degrees...


Screw you guys. I didn't wanna be a stupid planet anyway.

Pluto demoted
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn't — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

[...]

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.
What, just 'cause the guy runs a little crooked? Pluto always was the Little Planet that Could, and now they're forcing him off the kickball field. Sounds to me like they just changed the rules to force out the little guy. Buncha bullies.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cindy Sheehan Should Have Hidden in the Trunk


I knew I should have done a little more digging on Rockey Vaccarella when I read about his little meeting with Bush mentioned in my post below. Hey, whaddaya know? President Folksy McEveryman's meeting with this Katrina victim has just a little Stink O' the Rove on it. (Apologies in advance for the big blockquotes)
The good news is that CNN seems to have finally stop obsessing over John Mark Karr. Instead, they've found a new soap opera to go ga-ga over, Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella, who drove his FEMA trailer from his home in ravaged St. Bernard Parish to Washington with "the hope" of convincing President Bush to meet with him.

You can see why TV loves this story (the guy's named 'Rockey,' for cryin' out loud!), because to those who pay casual attention, i.e., the vast majority of viewers, the parallels to another news story are striking.

It was exactly one year ago that the headlines were all about Bush, on another lengthy vacation in Crawford, refusing to meet with an average American who was devastated by a tragedy -- Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. It was a publicity bloodbath, and it rolled right into the horrors of Katrina and a seemingly indifferent White House, beginning the long slide in Bush's approval rating.

Now comes Rockey, a plain-talking character who lost it all in Katrina, who nearly died in the hurricane, forced to hang onto a rope for four hours (some of that was captured on film), and now wants to government to do more for Katrina victims. And what a difference a year makes -- not only did Bush, not in Crawford but hard at work in the White House, meet with this "average American," but check out the glowing praise our president received in return.
Uh, you might want to do this on an empty stomach.
CNN's RICK SANCHEZ: I don't know if you were watching a couple days ago, but you might remember that we talked to a man named Rockey Vaccarella. I got a lot of phone calls on this interview. He's a Katrina victim who was driving to the White House with a FEMA trailer. And he seemed to strike a nerve with people. He's there now. He's actually been invited inside. He wanted to go and met with the president. Well, guess what, the president has decided to meet with him. Last night he met with Donald Powell (ph), the government's point man for rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Told him just what he and his family went through during Katrina.

[...]

Here's so here's what Rockey told the nation just now on TV:

You know, it's really amazing when a small man like me from St. Bernard Parish can meet the President of the United States. The President is a people person. I knew that from the beginning. I was confident that I could meet President Bush.

And my mission was very simple. I wanted to thank President Bush for the millions of FEMA trailers that were brought down there. They gave roofs over people's head. People had the chance to have baths, air condition. We have TV, we have toiletry, we have things that are necessities that we can live upon.

But now, I wanted to remind the President that the job's not done, and he knows that. And I just don't want the government and President Bush to forget about us. And I just wish the President could have another term in Washington.
Hwarf. A direct injection of mom and apple pie. Just warms the cockles of your heart, doesn't it? And there's nothing like hot cockles.

Well, if all of this sounds just a little too perfect to you, and you're suspicious that there might be just a little bit more to this story than meets the eye... well, you're not the only one.
This guy is a symbol of the misery that so many people in Louisiana and Mississippi? If we didn't know any better, this couldn't have been more of home run for Bush if the whole thing had been set up by Karl Rove.

Hmmmmm...

In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.

And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999. We don't have a good link, but here (via Nexis) is part of his bio that ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct. 15, 1999:

ROCKEY VACCARELLA
PERSONAL
Republican
35. Born in New Orleans. Grew up in Arabi and Chalmette. Lived 11 years in
Meraux.
Married, two children.
Graduated from Chalmette High, 1982. Attended St. Bernard Community
College.
Director of operations, Lundy Enterprises, as manager of 31 Pizza Hut
restaurants and 450 employees. Former general restaurant manager of Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits on East Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.

And in fact, Vaccarella seemed very confident that he would be meeting with Bush when he left home, to the point where he had a date scheduled and everything:

Dinner with the President is planned for the evening of August 22nd.
Not to minimize what this guy went through or what he lost, but this whole thing stinks to high heaven. I'm sure if a busload of angry Katrina victims had hopped on a bus and driven to Washington, they would have found themselves sitting outside in the elements like Cindy Sheehan.

Of course, not a bleat about this from the MSM. And I can pretty much guarantee there won't be. Your media: Taking everything concerning the president at face value.

(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to Steven.)




Bush Visits New Orleans, Farts Around



Whoops... it's the one year anniversary of the Katrina tragedy. Spike Lee has a documentary out that's getting a lot of buzz. And Bush has all but ignored the Gulf Coast. What to do? Why, it's time for a pandering, insulting flyover, of course!

Bush: Katrina Recovery Will Take Time

(Of course, it might take less time if some work was being done, but whatever.)
WASHINGTON - President Bush cautioned against placing too much importance on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's Gulf Coast strike, saying a long, sustained rebuilding effort is still needed.
Yeah, we wouldn't want to actually consider the implications of what happened and take a good, hard look at what's actually been done for the victims, would we? After all, isn't a date just a number?
"It's a time to remember that people suffered and it's a time to recommit ourselves to helping them," Bush said Wednesday. "But I also want people to remember that a one-year anniversary is just that, because it's going to require a long time to help these people rebuild."
Seriously, if anyone can tell me what the fuck he means with that sentence, please let me know.
A day earlier, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast coordinator, Don Powell, said $44 billion has been spent to get the still-battered region back on its feet. A far larger sum — more than $110 billion — has been designated for the massive rebuilding project. Of that money, approximately $17 billion will help rebuild an estimated 204,000 homes in Louisiana and Mississippi.
And every single penny has been put to good use.

What next? A situation like this that could cause the prez to look worse than usual calls for something special... something Rovian... of course! A photo op!
Bush spoke on the South Lawn of the White House after meeting in the Oval Office with a New Orleans-area man who lost his home in the storm. Rockey Vaccarella, 41, of Meraux in St. Bernard Parish, has been traveling the Gulf Coast region to mark the Katrina anniversary.
I'm going to assume that this man wouldn't be as critical as, say, Cindy Sheehan. Kudos to him for trying to talk some sense to Prezint Blinky McDistracted; as we all know, he's not an easy man to meet or talk to when he thinks you might not be on his side.
Released Wednesday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, D-Nev., the report asserted that "thousands of families are still waiting" for FEMA trailers and that a significant proportion of money that FEMA has spent there "has been waste, fraud and abuse."

"The Republican Congress didn't enact needed housing money for homeowners in Louisiana until June, 10 months after Katrina - and the money has still failed to reach these homeowners," it said.

For his part, Bush promised to continue working to make sure the federal government's efforts in the rebuilding effort are efficient.

"I told Rockey the first obligation of the federal government is to write a check big enough to help the people down there," Bush said. "And I told him that to the extent that there's still bureaucratic hurdles, and the need for the federal government to help eradicate those hurdles, we want to do that."
Ah, a big 'ol check. Brilliant. Kind of like just handing out $2000 debit cards. And Democrats are supposedly the ones that "throw money at problems?"
Bush is spending two days in the Gulf region next week to mark the anniversary. He will be in Mississippi on Monday, to have lunch with community leaders, walk through a neighborhood, and deliver a speech on the rebuilding effort, before traveling to New Orleans, where he was scheduled to have dinner with state and local official and spend the night. On Tuesday, Bush is attending a service of prayer and remembrance, conducting a roundtable discussion on an effort headed by first lady Laura Bush to restock Gulf Coast libraries. He also will give a speech and visit with local residents, Perino said.
A nice stroll through a neighborhood, dinner, and fixing up libraries. What a guy. You know what would impress me more? If he spent the night in one of those FEMA trailers. And filling the libraries with books is a nice idea and all, but what about the schools? Who's going to be visiting a library if they don't have somewhere to live? I hope they'll have some cots in the stacks.

Meanwhile, back at the reality ranch:
The job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of fraud and price gouging. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing. Important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed. And little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans.
Color me shocked. And what about paying attention to threats "before they fully materialize?"
LEVEES: The federal government hasn't broken any promises with regard to flood protection — mostly because it has assiduously avoided making any.

White House Katrina recovery czar Donald Powell has said that the administration intends to wait for the completion of a $20 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, due in December 2007, before it decides whether to enhance the flood protection system in southern Louisiana enough to resist a Category 5 hurricane.

A preliminary draft of the study released in July was widely criticized because it omitted five projects that state officials say should be started right away. At the same time, it focused on a massive levee that would stretch hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast while paying only lip service to the critical task of shoring up the state's vanishing wetlands, which provide a natural barrier to hurricane flooding.
Well, we can wait until the end of 2007. There probably won't be any hurricanes until then.

Shakes and I talked recently, and both of us were saying that we thought the Katrina tragedy would be the undoing for Bush. The gross incompetence, the horror that increased daily, the blatant disdain for the victims, and the complete ignoring of the situation should have been the tolling bell for the Bush Presidency. Somehow, he managed to survive.

Now, one year later, the disdain and ignoring continues. Bush would desperately love for Americans to consider the anniversary of this black eye to be unimportant; not a milestone, but a beginning. However, it only proves that the Bush Administration didn't give a good goddamn about the people on the Gulf Coast then, and one year later, they still have little concern for the welfare of the victims.

New Orleans is still drowning.




I Promise No "Pet Goat" Jokes


Are you ready for this? I don't think you're ready for this. Put the coffee down.

A Humbled Presidency: Bush Tries a More Thoughtful Approach
Maybe it was the influence of his wife, Laura, a former librarian, or his mother, Barbara, a longtime promoter of literacy. Or perhaps he was just eager to dispel his image as an intellectual lightweight. But President Bush now wants it known that he is a man of letters.
A man of letters? Heh.... heh, heh. You mean, these?

In fact, Bush has entered a book-reading competition with Karl Rove, his political adviser. White House aides say the president has read 60 books so far this year (while the brainy Rove, to Bush's competitive delight, has racked up only 50).
HAHAHA! No, seriously, pull the other one.
Bush's critics aren't buying. A man who so regularly mangles the English language and seems to disdain complexity couldn't possibly be so cerebral, they argue. But portraying Bush as a voracious reader is part of an ongoing White House campaign to restore what a senior adviser calls "gravitas" to the Bush persona. He certainly needs something. Only about 34 percent of Americans approve of his job performance-and 58 percent say Bush "seems in over his head," according to Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. If nothing changes, the president could be a major liability for Republicans in November's congressional elections.

[...]

Changing these perceptions won't be easy. "A president's image is pretty much set after a few years in office, and it will be very difficult [for Bush] to quickly reverse that image with the public," says political historian Julian Zelizer of Boston University. "It's a cynical age and a cynical country, and it's a savvy public." But the White House is giving it a try. Last week provided a glimpse of Bush's new "gravitas campaign"-and illustrated why his presidency has been humbled-if not in spirit, then in Bush's grudging acknowledgment of his current limitations.
Ain't gonna happen, folks. The "Bush Image" has been carefully crafted and spoonfed to the public by Rove (who couldn't possibly be letting Bush win their little "competition," by the way); they have been hammering it into the head of America for years that Bush isn't one o' them effete, intellectual, pansy readers. It's common knowledge that Bush doesn't bother reading at work; he has briefs read to him by staff members. He's stated time and again that he doesn't read newspapers. His anti-intellectualism and resistance to learning is all too obvious. The man can't be bothered. I find it quite amusing that this story all but explicitly states, "This is all bullshit and nothing but an image makeover that they're hoping you'll fall for." I also love how junior-high all of this is... he can only be coaxed into reading by making it into a competition. Does he get a new bike if he wins?

Here's a partial list that Bush is supposedly reading. "Hamlet" and "Macbeth?" Right. No, really, pull the other one.

Steve at The Carpetbagger Report does some number crunching, and confidently states that there is no way in hell that Bush could have possibly read all of those books in the time stated. "A" for effort, Steve, but I could have told you that and saved you a lot of work. High School students have to be more or less forced to read Shakespeare; don't tell me for a second that Bush, Mister Fart Joke himself, could manage to make his way through two Shakespeare plays. Add "Cliffs Notes" after those titles, and maybe I'll believe it.

Bush has spent his entire "presidency" displaying his contempt for the written word. Don't give me this "sudden change of heart" bullshit. Instead of trying to up his poll numbers with this transparent lie, perhaps he should start fixing the messes he's created that are causing his miserable popularity polls in the first place.

Ass.

UPDATE: Steve has another take on the propaganda. It's Saddam all over again!

(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to Crooks & Liars.)


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Probably of Interest to No One but Me



But I'll post it anyway.

Chicago Polka King Dies
Chicago native Walter E. Jagiello, who recorded 110 albums as "Lil' Wally the Polka King," and who gained fame as the co-writer of the Chicago White Sox fight song, has died. He was 76.

Jagiello was a drummer and singer largely credited with creating the Chicago-style polka, characterized by a slower, more deliberate beat. He was the first musician inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame in Chicago.

He died of heart failure Thursday in Miami Beach, Fla.

"Wally was one of the great 20th Century American musicians," said Don Hedeker of the polka band the Polkaholics. "He was on par with Johnny Cash in country and Charlie Parker in jazz."

Jagiello's reign as the polka king centered on a strip of Chicago's Division Street known during the 1940s and 1950s as "Polish Broadway." At its peak, the North Side neighborhood had 50 polka clubs.

Jagiello charted in Billboard with two hits, "Polish Polka Twist" and "I Wish I Was Single Again." He sang fluently in both Polish and English. He also appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show several times.

In 1959, he co-wrote "Let's Go Go Go White Sox," the team's fight song. It was recorded by Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers with the Lil' Wally Orchestra and began to be used again last year.
This really is a shame. Chicago is still one of the big polka cities, and this definitely is a blow to the music and culture. I got to see the Lil' Wally Orchestra once at Germanfest, and I'm really glad I did. So raise your stein and toast the Polka King. Rest in peace, Lil' Wally.

If you're interested in hearing some more "modern" kick-ass polkas, I suggest these bands:

Brave Combo- The reigning kings of modern polka. They play traditional polkas, and more modern stuff, such as "The Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze Polka." They also do tons of other world music styles and tex-mex... if you're into different sounds, their CDs should be in your collection.

The Polkaholics- Chicago's very own mix of The Ramones and polka. They'll get your butt shaking but good.

Polkacide- "San Francisco's One and Only Hardcore Polka Band." The name says it all... I love these guys!

Those Darn Accordions!- Mixing rock and polka, these guys are incredible. I saw them live in NYC, and they blew my ass through the back wall! You've got to hear their version of the Laverne & Shirley theme, "Making our Dreams Come True."

Big Lou, the Accordion Princess- Lovely and talented, I absolutely adore Big Lou! Her latest album, "Dogs Playing Polka," is well worth a purchase.

The Squeegees- All the girls want the man... who can play the accordion!

There's a good start. Now get some beer, hit the dance floor, and dance your butt off. You could use the stress relief, couldn't you?

By the way, if you're one of those people that sneers at polkas, and makes accordion jokes, the next Big Bore Bus out of Good Times City is here... be on it! Because you, my friend, are no fun.




And Just To Give a Little Perspective...


...of exactly how far the bigotry shown in the post below can spread, here's a little story from Paul the Spud's neighborhood. I was so shocked when this happened, I had to call Shakespeare's Sister and tell her about it.

I was walking my dog after work in my Andersonville neighborhood. For those of you not familiar with Chicago, it's a far north side neighborhood; one of the bluest in a very blue city in a blue state. Extremely gay friendly (only the Boystown area is "more gay,"), very liberal, etc, etc. We also have a very high Latino population.

So, I'm crossing the street, and walking towards me is a Latino family; a mother, older daughter, and two very young children, one in a stroller. As we cross paths, a car passes us, going in the direction that I'm walking. The driver leans out of his window and sneers, "I see the illegal immigrants are all out today."

Yep.

There's no way he could have known if they were immigrants, or born in this country. There's no way he could have known if this family was here illegally, or if they were legal American citizens. They looked Mexican, and that was good enough for him. I figure he also felt pretty safe spewing this garbage at this family, as they didn't have any men walking with them that may have beaten his racist ass into the ground.

I should stress that this did not take place on one of the days when a large immigration rally was held in Chicago, which may have caused hightened tensions and emotions. (Not that heightened tensions and emotions would excuse this behavior.) It was just out of the blue. In a very blue neighborhood, in a very blue city, in a very blue state.

This shit is everywhere, and it's spreading.




A Uniter, Not a Divider


Spend years sowing the seeds of racial hatred, bigotry and fear, and this is what you get.
A peaceful demonstration yesterday in Riverside against a law punishing those who hire or rent to illegal immigrants was met by a larger, slur-spewing crowd that tried to drown out the protesting speakers from the other side of a police barricade.

[...]

After an hour of prayers and speeches, Rivera and the protesters headed up Scott Street, the Burlington County town's main drag, as hundreds on both sides of the street cursed, spit and shouted at them to leave and never come back.

Some in the crowd were intoxicated. Some waved Confederate flags, while others thrust their right arms up to resemble a Nazi salute. Dozens had signs calling for tighter border control.

As the protesters walked along the center line, police kept the opposing crowd on the sidewalks. When the march ended and the two groups were allowed to mingle, the verbal attacks continued.

Some claimed illegal immigrants took jobs away from citizens. Some said they were angry because some illegal immigrants pay no income taxes. For others, the matter seemed personal.

"You spread germs," screamed Mary Goff, 32, a lifelong township resident. "You're ignorant, disgusting and lazy. Go somewhere else and give us back our town."


Pleasant, no? If that isn't enough to make you grit your teeth with rage and shame, take a look at the photo slideshow. Gotta love those confederate flags that always seem to pop up.

(Tip of the energy dome to Tbogg and the Poorman.)


Monday, August 21, 2006

You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Folks...


Last week, I put up a wiseass post about Bush's recent pardons, and how they all struck me as really... well.. redneck-y. I was snickering, in particular, at Bush's pardoning of a couple moonshiners. Really, how Good 'Ol Boy can you get?

Well, apparently you can go one step further.

Because as I just found out, one of the moonshiners had a small role in Deliverance.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- By granting absolution to a convicted moonshiner, George W. Bush also earned the unique distinction of becoming the first president to pardon a cast member of the 1972 Academy Award-nominated movie "Deliverance."

Randall Leece Deal of Clayton, Georgia, had a small role in the film about four Atlanta businessmen who have unpleasant encounters with locals during a North Georgia canoe trip.
No, he wasn't the "squeal like a pig" guy.




Practice What You Preach



The Blogosphere is, of course, abuzz with talk about Prezint Temper McTantrum's earlier press conference and snotty lecture. Most of the snark and debate is focusing on Dubya bluntly stating that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11:
Bush: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East. They were ...

Q: What did Iraqi have to do with that?

Bush: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q: The attacks upon the World Trade Center.

Bush: Nothing. Except for it's part of __ and nobody's ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.
... while pointing out that the Bush Administration has, of course, been linking Iraq to 9/11 since day one. (Notice how Bush gives himself some wiggle room, as no one is quoted as literally saying, "Saddam ordered the 9/11 attack.") So, in this little blowup, he reiterates that there have been no WMD's found, and denies the Iraq=9/11 connection. Not to mention the obnoxious "freedom agenda in the Middle East" crap. Infuriating, to say the least. But this is the statement that's really making me nuts:
"Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September the 11th is take threats before they fully materialize, Ken"
Take threats before they fully materialize? How dare you?

You mean like... when you're handed a briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.?" The briefing that, if proper attention was paid and the threat was taken seriously, could have stopped 9/11 in the first place?

I'm sure the victims of Katrina that are being ignored and forgotten wish you would have listened to warnings before they "fully materialized," you douche.

Ignoring threats to America: The true "legacy" of the Bush presidency.




And Now For Something Completely Different



Wow, some good news!

Jackie Chan, Chinese Director in Talks

(I don't know why they couldn't have just said Zhang's name, or "Director of Hero," but whatever.)
HONG KONG - Jackie Chan is in talks with famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou about a possible collaboration, his spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman Solon So said Chan and Zhang have held several discussions but haven't agreed on a project.

"Both parties are interested but they need to find the right script," So said.

Chan said last year he and Zhang conferred on a story set in the 1980s but wouldn't reveal details.

Zhang is known for films like "Raise the Red Lantern," "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers." One of China's most respected directors, he has won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival twice.
I first saw Jackie Chan when I was in high school when I rented Police Story. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. From the car chase through the shanty town to the scene of Jackie climbing onto the bus using his umbrella, I was completely hooked. No one did anything like this in the U.S., and for the luvva mike, he didn't use a stuntman! He paid for it too, as the "outtakes" during the end credits made all too clear. Not only that, he was funny.

I got to meet Jackie at a book signing of his autobiography, and you've never met a sweeter human being. I've worked with many celebrities at many book signings, and I've never seen someone so devoted to, and genuinely happy to meet his fans. After several years of so-so to completely awful U.S. features (when is the last time you heard an American movie star say that they hated their last movie?), it's nice to see Jackie getting back to doing movies his way.

Now let's all agree to keep Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson far, far away.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Come Kill Us, Terrorist Comrades!


Because Friday is the day for Teh Funny!

How a wingnut sees the New York Times.

(Tip of the Energy Dome to my friend Grendel.)




It's Got to be the Explanation for This!


Apparently, some prankster liberals got their hands on some Crazy Purple Racist Gas and have been spraying it all over Republicans and Corporate Shills. First we have Crazy Drunk Mel, then it's the macaca stuff, then we're told that apparently, "blacks can't swim," and now it looks like Andrew Young caught a whiff:

Wal-Mart Image Builder Resigns
The civil rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired by Wal-Mart to improve its public image, resigned from that post last night after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had “ripped off” urban communities for years, “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables.”

In the interview, published yesterday in The Los Angeles Sentinel, a weekly, Mr. Young said that Wal-Mart “should” displace mom-and-pop stores in urban neighborhoods.

“You see those are the people who have been overcharging us,” he said of the owners of the small stores, “and they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs.”

Zuh?
Mr. Young, 74, a former mayor of Atlanta and a former United States representative to the United Nations, apologized for the comments and retracted them in an interview last night. Less than an hour later, he resigned as chairman of Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group created and financed by the company to trumpet its accomplishments.

“It’s against everything I ever thought in my life,” Mr. Young said. “It never should have been said. I was speaking in the context of Atlanta, and that does not work in New York or Los Angeles.”
So... your racist comments do apply in Atlanta, but not New York or Los Angeles, huh? Seriously, just stop talking. That hole just keeps getting deeper.




He Who Ha-Ha's Last, Ha-Ha's Best



See what happens when you don't read the fine print, Dubya? (bolds mine)
PENSION LAW INCLUDES IMPORTANT PROTECTIONS FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES UNDER FEDERAL LAW

Human Rights Campaign Helps Secure Key Provisions to Assist GLBT and Other Americans

WASHINGTON — The Federal Pension Protection Act passed by Congress and signed into law today by President George W. Bush contains two key provisions that will extend important financial protections to same-sex couples and other Americans who leave their retirement savings to non-spouse beneficiaries. The bipartisan provisions in the bill are a step forward in equality and stem from a continuous effort led by the Human Rights Campaign.

“There is a large group of Americans that are left behind in traditional pension benefit models. We need to do better to keep these groups from falling through the cracks,” said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. “I am pleased that the pension reform legislation takes an important step to fill this gap by equalizing treatment in retirement savings vehicles for non-spouse beneficiaries.”

“We need to address the economic and legal barriers that affect many American families — from providing equal access to family law, to equal opportunities in the workplace. All families need to be able to plan and save for their future,” said Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.

“For gay couples and all Americans with non-spouse beneficiaries, death and taxes weren’t only certain, but also times of great and unequal financial difficulty. Today marks an important day for fairness under the law in America,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “For four years, the Human Rights Campaign worked closely with members of Congress to secure these provisions and carefully guide them through the political process. In a challenging political climate, we persevered and helped to secure critical federal protections that will make difficult times for domestic partners a little easier.”
Oh, the base is not going to like this...


(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to Pam. )




Kerplunk



So much for that little bounce. Glub...glub...glub...
The conventional wisdom was so widely believed, there hardly seemed any point to questioning it. The alleged terrorist plot would be a political boon for the Bush White House, the timing would hurt Democrats, and the story had the ability to completely reshape the last 12 weeks of the campaign cycle.

Since the story captured the nation's attention, however, seven national polls have been conducted. If there was a bump for Bush, it's hiding well.

* Zogby: the president's job approval rating dropped from 36% to 34%.

* Gallup: his approval rating fell from 40% to 37%.

* CBS News: the president's support remained flat at 36%.

* Newsweek: Bush's approval rating improved to 38% from 35%.

* Fox News: the president's support remained flat at 36%.

* AP/Ipsos: his approval rating fell from 36% to 33%.

* Harris: the president's support remained flat at 34%.

In six of the seven national polls, the president's support dropped or remained the same since Americans heard about the alleged terrorist plot. In other words, the story that would obviously help Bush's standing isn't helping him at all.
The saturation point has been reached; people simply aren't falling for the hysteria anymore. Sure, people are still worried about terrorists and terrorist attacks (including us folks on the Left, although several pants-wetters insist it isn't so), apparently more than the Bush Administration (who, true to form, are more interested in protecting themselves than protecting Americans). But at this point, the only people that are in hysterics over "terrorist plots" are Conservatives that are panicking as their house of cards tumbles. And I see Michelle Malkin has groomed some guest bloggers and is keeping the Fear of Brown People fires burning:
The woman that disrupted the London-NY flight on Wednesday appeared in federal court yesterday.

The word is that she's simply crazy, and not a terrorist, although her circumstances are more than a little suspicious:
Ms. Mayo’s 31-year-old son, Josh, told reporters in Vermont that his mother was a peace activist who had been visiting a Pakistani pen pal and that she had just had a “bad time” on the flight. It is unclear how long she had been in Pakistan, but she worked as a journalist there, writing columns for the Daily Times of Pakistan, assailing the war and American political policy.

Visiting a Pakistani pen pal? That's sure odd.

Yeah, what's up with that? No real American could possibly have a friend in Pakistan! She must be a terrorist!
Also, the woman had a screwdriver in her carry-on bag.

The story seems to be that she was feeling claustrophobic and went into some sort of panic attack. But then, why did she have the screwdriver? That implies some level of thought before boarding this flight. Stay tuned for developments....
Of course, mental illness, panic or simple paranoia couldn't explain the screwdriver. It had to be a terrorist plot!

Really, this is just getting embarrassing.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bliss


Depp to Star in Burton's "Sweeny Todd"
LOS ANGELES - Johnny Depp is going from woozy buccaneer to murderous barber.

Depp is reuniting with director Tim Burton ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") to play the title role in a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd," about a 19th-century barber seeking bloody revenge over his wrongful imprisonment.
Somewhere, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have an amazing dream-viewing machine, used solely for picking through my subconscious brain to find out what new project they could create to bring me joy.

That's got to be the explanation... right? They're batting 100 so far...


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sure, Any Deity Can Appear in a Pancake or in a Stain on the Wall...


True Supreme Beings are use a little more showmanship.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is tired of being ignored.

(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to BoingBoing.)




Heee Yuck Yuck Yuck


Okay, first of all, I freely admit that this is a really cheap shot.

Here's a list of current Bush Presidential pardons. (Bolds mine.) A few highlights:
-- James Leon Adams, Simpsonville, S.C.
Offense: Selling firearms to out of state residents and falsifying firearms records; 18 U.S.C. Sections 922(b) (3), 922(m) and 924(a)

-- Tony Dale Ashworth, Winnsboro, S.C.

Offense: Unlawful transfer of a firearm; 26 U.S.C. Sections 5861(e) and 5871

-- Randall Leece Deal, Clayton, Ga.
Offense:

1. Liquor law violation; Title 26, U.S.C.

2. Liquor law violation; Title 26, U.S.C.

3. Conspiracy to violate the liquor laws, Title 26, U.S.C.

-- William Henry Eagle, Wenatchee, Wash.

Offense: Possessing an unregistered still, carrying on the business of a distiller without giving the required bond and manufacturing mash on other than lawfully qualified premises; 26 U.S.C. Sections 5601(a)(1), 5601(a)(4) and 5601(a)(7)

-- James Ernest Kinard Jr., Stuart, Fla.

Offense: Failure by a licensed firearms dealer to make appropriate entries in firearms records required to be kept by law (four counts); making false entries by a licensed firearms dealer in firearms records required to be kept by law; 18 U.S.C. Sections 922(m) and 2

-- John Louis Ribando, Le Mars, Iowa

Offense:
1. Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (marijuana); 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a) (1)

2. Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance (marijuana); importing a controlled substance (marijuana); 21 U.S.C. Sections 841(a) (1), 846, 952(a), 960(a) (1) and 963

-- Jerry Dean Walker, Newark, Del.

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a) (1)
Booze, guns, coke, pot and moonshine. (Moonshine! Good lord.) These are the pardons our president hands out.

Welcome to Hillbilly Nation, folks!

(I should point out that these aren't the only pardons that were handed out at this particular time. Bush also seemed keen to pardon a few people that were AWOL, and an embezzler or two. Hmm.)




I'm Sure it Was Just a "Joke."



Expanding on the Tbogg post that I pointed out yesterday, James Wolcott says:
No matter what height of prominence a black person reaches, conservatives will always find a way to reduce him or her to low-paid, low-status, low-skilled caricatured servitude. That's their idea of cutting black personalities down to size and putting them in their place. Whatever uniform they wear, it's still a monkey suit in the eyes and mouths of the white-makes-right contingent, which should make it no surprise that Senator George Allen, adopted son of the Confederacy, would reach back for a race-baiting jibe as his beanball pitch. It's also no surprise that George Allen would be Fred Barnes's kinda guy.

As the kids are saying these days, read the whole thing.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Well, I'll be Hornswoggled


Looks like a good old-fashioned media spanking still works. Chuck Roberts has swallowed his pride and apologized for his "Al-Qaeda Candidate" comment.

I could indulge in a little schadenfreude, but Roberts did the right thing, and I've got to give him kudos for that. There are others that have never apologized for anything they've done.

C&L hands out the hat tips, but forgot skippy, who had a hand (paw?) in this as well. Nice work, folks.




Connect the Dots... La, La, La, La


In the future, our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will look back on all of this, and wonder how we could have possibly been so stupid.

Olbermann runs down the list of fearmongering by the Bush Administration. I think it's very interesting to see how quickly the UK arrests have disappeared from the news (although they're still red, red meat for the bobbleheads), and watching the reactions of people in the airports. The news reporters were all over the airports recently, and I don't know about you, but the only reaction I heard was: "No, I'm not scared. It's annoying, but what can you do?"

It looks like we've finally reached a saturation point with Terrorist Fearmongering, and it's about time. The UK arrests resulted in a minor hiccup in Bush's approval ratings; not the several points we would usually see in this case. Cheney's usual boogeyman warnings seem to have backfired on him. And fortunately, people don't seem to be paying the slightest bit of attention to this nonsense idea that the Lieberman loss and "aiding the enemy" are connected in any way, shape or form.

While Bush continues to flap his arms and insist that we should all be scared shitless, and no doubt pissing off Scotland Yard with flapdoodle like this:
"We disrupted a terror plot, a plot where people were willing to kill innocent life to achieve political objectives," Bush said.
(Ahem. We?)
... it would appear that finally, people are beginning to wake up and realize that the people "plotting" to "achieve political objectives" are the lying bastards in the Bush Administration.

Keep circulating the truth.




I Love Chicago - #2,536 in a Series


Sure, people love to attack Gov. Blagojevich, but he's got my vote. Time and again, he really shows that he has the people of Illinois in mind.

His latest announcement? EC is going to be available over the counter, no matter what the FDA says.
CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he'll find a way to make emergency contraception available in Illinois without a prescription, prompting criticism from his opponent in the upcoming election.

Blagojevich urged the Food and Drug Administration to approve over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill in a letter sent to the agency Wednesday. If the FDA fails to act, he pledged to introduce legislation in the fall that would allow Illinois pharmacies to dispense it.

And if that doesn't work, Blagojevich said he might issue an executive order that would circumvent legislative approval.

"The evidence is clear and overwhelming that making Plan B available over-the-counter is the right thing to do," he said in the two-page letter.
His opponent, Rep. Judy Baar Topinka (who admittedly is pretty moderate on some social issues), supports the sale of EC without a prescription, but availability is dependent on the woman's (or girl's) age.

And Jessica reminds us:
You may remember that Gov. Blagojevich has already shown support for EC by requiring pharmacists in his state to fill women’s prescriptions--even if their “conscience” doesn’t want them to. (You know, the kind of conscience that says premarital sex is for whores.)
Rock on, Blagojevich. Rock on, Chicago. Wheaties- breakfast of champions.




Good question


Double standards ahoy!


Monday, August 14, 2006

High Comedy


Wow.
NEW YORK - Tucker Carlson of MSNBC and talk-show host Jerry Springer will be among the celebrities competing on the third season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

The new season of the show — which pairs 11 competitors of sometimes dubious celebrity and varying skill with professional dancer-partners — premieres Sept. 12 (8 p.m. EDT), the network announced Monday.


Tucker Carlson.

Tucker freakin' Carlson.

On "Dancing With the Stars."

I would tune in just to see Mario Lopez... but Tucker Carlson?

Jesus, I need to buy a Tivo NOW.




"The Al Qaeda Candidate"


I'm assuming you're like me, in that you're getting pretty fucking sick of this shrill Republican talking point that first hissed between the cold, dead lips of Darth Cheney, stating people who voted for Lamont over Lieberman are somehow giving comfort and aid to the "enemies of America."

Well, CNN Headline News, anchor Chuck Roberts decided to do Cheney one better. Some might argue. Jesus. Some might argue that you're a Republican ball-licking little skidmark. The voters said "no" to Republican lite, and that's all there is to it. The British terror plot had absolutely nothing to do with the Lamont/Lieberman election. Stop pretending it did.

skippy has a suggestion.

Update: I'm glad to see that the news from the UK did nothing to boost Bush in the polls. Perhaps people aren't as easily duped as they used to be.




Satire is Dead


Mel Gibson's apology has been accepted.

By James Dobson.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Focus on the Family ministry founder James Dobson spoke in support Thursday of Mel Gibson and his film, "The Passion of the Christ," saying Gibson's drunken tirade during a traffic stop had nothing to do with "one of the finest films of this era."

[...]

Dobson said in a statement that "we certainly do not condone that racially insensitive outburst," but added "Mel has apologized profusely for the incident and there the matter should rest."

"Mel has also indicated his willingness to seek help to overcome his alcoholism, and has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness," Dobson said. "What more can he do?"

Gibson has had a troubled relationship with Jewish organizations since his violent 2004 blockbuster about the crucifixion, which some criticized for portraying Jews as responsible for Jesus' death. Supporters, including Dobson, say the movie followed the Gospel story.

"Our endorsement of it stands as originally stated. We did not believe it was anti-Semitic in 2004, and our views have not changed," Dobson said.
Those guys at The Onion had better be polishing up their resumés.

(Tip 'o the Energy Dome to August.




WTF?


All bolds are mine.

Boot Camp Cadet Dies in Florida
MIAMI - A 13-year-old cadet at a private military academy who died while camping at a state park refused food throughout the excursion, the father of two fellow cadets said Sunday.

Victor Jusino of Sunrise said his sons, ages 9 and 10, told him the boy continuously threw away food after the 33 cadets arrived early Wednesday at the Back to Basics Christian Military Academy’s Training and Leadership Corps campout.
The "Back to Basics" Christian Military Academy.

Training and Leadership campout.

O...kay.
“They described to me that he wasn’t eating. He wasn’t feeling well. His stomach was hurting him and the heat was getting to him,” Jusino said.

Other cadets gave similar accounts to WFOR-TV in Miami.

“He wasn’t eating any food,” 12-year-old Joanna Miller said. “He would ask people if they want his food or he would just throw it on the ground. When he was supposed to drink water, he didn’t want to.”
And yet, he was not removed from the "campout," he was not hospitalized, and means of feeding him such as an I.V. (not that I'm suggesting they should have given him an I.V. at the camp), were not looked into. This is just horribly sad.
Jusino said his sons told him they were given three meals a day after starting each morning with a long hike. But the boys were dehydrated, sunburned and had insect bites when he picked them up Saturday morning, he said.

“They were very dirty, their clothing was wet. They had been sleeping in wet clothes, and their hair had been cut,” Jusino said.
What the fuck was going on there? These are kids, for chrissakes.
The academy subcontracts with Fort Lauderdale-based Juvenile Military Training and Leadership Corp. The camp is run by certified National Guard drill sergeants, Browne told the paper.

In January, a 14-year-old boy died after a confrontation with guards at a Panama City boot camp for juvenile offenders operated by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Martin Lee Anderson died one day after being roughed up by guards.

His death remains under investigation. The state’s government-operated military-style boot camp system was shutdown in May.
But this wasn't a camp for juvenile offenders, this was a "Christian Military Academy," whatever the fuck that is.

Again... what the hell is going on there?

Floridians... are these "academies" something everyone knows about in your state? I'm finding it highly disturbing that this "Christian Military Academy" is government-operated. Are they funded with tax dollars? And who runs these things? And what exactly does "Back to Basics" entail?

Something is rotten in the Sunshine state.




Grrrrrr....


Okay, I realize I'm getting way too worked up over a stupid puff piece. But this is just, well, fucking stupid.

Feeling Blue, Say 'I Do'

If that headline isn't enough to make you ill...
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lonely? Feeling low? Try taking a walk -- down the aisle. Getting married enhances mental health, especially if you're depressed, according to a new U.S. study.

The benefits of marriage for the depressed are particularly dramatic, a finding that surprised the professor-student team behind the study.
Perhaps I'm reading a little too much into this, but suggesting that a depressed person look to marriage as some sort of anti-depressant seems rather irresponsible. Not to mention the fact that a divorce is one of the major causes of depression, as well as marital stress. Anyway.
The benefits of marriage for the depressed are particularly dramatic, a finding that surprised the professor-student team behind the study.

"We actually found the opposite of what we expected," said Adrianne Frech, a PhD sociology student at Ohio State University who conducted the study with Kristi Williams, an assistant professor of sociology.
Heh.
The researchers used a 3,066 person sample that measured symptoms of depression -- such as an inability to sleep, or persistent sadness -- in the same people both before and after their first marriage.

They found that depressed people experienced a much more extreme decrease in the incidence of those symptoms.

"Depressed people may be just especially in need of the intimacy, the emotional closeness and the social support that marriage can provide ... if you start out happy, you don't have as far to go," Williams said.
Well, duh.
On the other hand, if you're not depressed, marriage could have the opposite effect, Frech said.

People who were happy before getting married and end up in a marriage plagued by distance or conflict -- qualities associated with a depressed spouse -- might be better off single.

"It seems right to say that people who are not depressed are at risk, that if they marry a depressed person this could be a bad deal for them," Frech said.
Exactly. Which is why suggesting that you should just say "I do!" if you're "feeling blue," is ridiculous. Depression is a bit more complex than that.

Again, I'm probably getting way too worked up over a puff piece.

Anyway, need I mention that, with depression being such a problem in the LGBT community... and with marriage supposedly helping with depression...

Well, you see where I'm going with this.