Saturday, September 24, 2005

Zip For The Lone Star State

From the reports I'm reading, it looks like Hurricane Rita has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. That's good news, though apparently, it is still causing extensive damage, primarily in Beaumont, TX and other areas along the Texas/Louisiana border.

We can all only hope that Rita does not lead to more loss of life, though it has caused more flooding in New Orleans, having broken a levee just when the city was trying to get itself back together from Katrina.

All the same, it looks like there won't be any telethons to collect money for Hurricane Rita victims and there won't be anything like the fallout there was after Katrina.

But in case somebody does comes around looking for assistance for Rita's victims, here is what I will say to them (and by the way, I wonder how much dough from their outrageous salaries some of these NFL guys decided to give to help Katrina's victims while they were putting the bite on us Monday night?).

If I can help people in Louisiana, I will. But I'm not giving a dime to Texas.

Realistically, I don't know if I can earmark any donation in that way, but if it comes to that, I'll try. Also, I know this isn't the right attitude coming from a self-proclaimed Roman Catholic. However, please allow me to explain.

For starters, you know the paycheck you collect every week or two weeks? Of course you do. Have you wondered why your withholding has climbed and your compensation has shrunk? Part of the reason is that the tax laws have been rewritten and legislation ramroded through the Repug congress that gives obscenely huge tax breaks to Bushco's acolytes in the business world, many of whom reside in Texas, and the burden to make up the difference has fallen on the shoulders of people in this country who work for a living, which to my knowledge covers just about everyone else.

Also, the legislature of Texas has passed budgets chock full of tax cuts to its benefactors in business while letting the poor, including single mothers and kids, fend for themselves. If you don't want to believe me, fine. Just read Molly Ivins, Lou Dubose and Jim Hightower then. They've documented this more thoroughly than I ever could.

Here's something else: do you remember the power outage in the Northeast about a year or two ago (it didn't affect us in this area as much as it could have because a very wise individual in the Valley Forge, PA area saw that there was a major fault across the grids affecting the Northeast and rust belt states and rerouted our juice). Well, the state of Texas HAS ITS OWN POWER GRID. Am I the only one who is wondering how the hell they managed to pull that off?

I know I'm mixing apples and oranges a bit here, but this is my point. Now, thanks to Dubya's nightmare of a presidency, the state of Texas has had EVERYTHING GOING ITS WAY for the last five years or so. To me, they officially have NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for not being able to provide for their people in times of need.

Yeah, you guys - take that damn "yellow rose" of yours and stick it in a derrick somewhere. And I hope y'all know how to swim.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Down On Me

Looks like Port Arthur, TX is going to get nailed by Hurricane Rita. Pop quiz: which rock luminary hailed from there (the title of this post is a hint).

The Bulldog Manifesto posted recently about Bush's problems related to women (another hint). Since Dubya is the empty-suit-in-chief, his problems affect all of us, unfortunately.

And Molly Ivins has more on this and other departments that control public policy sabotaged by Bushco and its minions.

The Submerging President

Glub, Glub…

Dubya links the Iraq War to other acts of terrorism against our country (this is an “endless loop,” this is an “endless loop,” this is an “endless…) and blames Carter for the taking of our embassy personnel in Iran as hostages.

I already chided Carter below for that in a prior post. He didn’t have the imagination to figure out that a precedent-setting violation of international protocol would be carried out by a gang of thugs pretending to be “students.” Dubya, on the other hand, doesn’t have the imagination to properly navigate his bicycle on a highway in Scotland.

Glub, glub…

Dubya also blames Reagan for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 243 of our people. I’ll let Ronnie baby’s acolytes come to his defense on that one if they can (hey, smooth move to blame a dead guy, by the way, especially the one who ended up paving the way for your horrific presidency).

Gurgle, glub, glub…

And, last but not least, Dubya blames Clinton (boy, BIG story there!) for the horrific escapade of our Marines in Mogadishu, the ’93 World Trade Center bombings, the attack on our African embassies, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the quality of his saxophone playing on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” his total candor and lack of propriety on the “Boxers vs. Briefs” question, the color of the suit he chose to wear during his interview with Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes” after the Gennifer Flowers “story” broke, not performing an intervention on Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed attendee Henri Paul before he drove the sedan while whacked out of his head that killed everyone in Paris, the quality of deceased Beatle John Lennon’s vocals on the group’s 1994 song, “Free As A Bird,” and not calling Phillies manager Jim Fregosi and telling him not to send in Mitch Williams to pitch against Joe Carter before Carter hit the World Series-winning home run in 1993.

(That’s only a partial list, by the way.)

For the record, Clinton made sure that everyone tried in terrorist attacks on this country were convicted, except for the “Cole” bombing (good luck trying to determine a guilty party in Mogadishu, and we don’t have an extradition treaty with Yemen, and that made it harder to apprehend anyone for the “Cole” attacks under Clinton’s watch).

Gurgle, gurgle, glub, glub…

One more thing, Dubya: Your approval rating hit at around 36 percent recently, which is practically microscopic. As Cenk pointed out a week or so ago, when the Clinton impeachment farce was being played out, HIS approval rating was at about 72 percent. By doing the math, you will realize that, at the lowest point of his popularity, he was STILL twice as popular as you are now.

Gurgle, gurgle, glub, glub, glub…

Oh, you think you need some help to stay afloat? Here, catch this anvil (made of approximately the same material with the same level of denseness as your head)…


Gurgle, glub…

See ya!

"Bugsy" vs. The Guv

Even though Warren Beatty does work on behalf of traditionally liberal causes and probably is positioning himself for a career in politics, I first though he was just trying to get some “face time” on TV with this speech, but then I reconsidered when I read this line (courtesy of The Huffington Post):

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said "we don't care that much about Warren Beatty, and based on his ticket sales from the past generation, I doubt anyone else does either."
I think we can now “consider the gauntlet to be officially thrown down.” I can’t think of any self-respecting actor who would ignore a cut like that, and somehow I’m sure “The Pro” won’t either.

So, we can soon look forward to the following campaign “stump” speeches:

BUGSY (channeling “Bulworth”): “Hey, you know, what can I say? I just love being at this gala dinner with the Weinstein brothers and George Soros. It does my heart good as I hear the rattle of your jewelry and the tinkling of the glass of your champagne flutes. But I gotta tell ya’, we gotta do more for the blacks, even though I just don’t care about them if they won’t give me money. I mean, my people are smart – they always make sure I can make time for all the rich Jews. Hey, Meyer, how do I get this hit called off on me, anyway? I promise I won’t rap any more.”

THE GUV (channeling the same role he’s played a hundred or more times): “Zees ess teepecaal voor uh lee-baa-ral! Hee eees saaaa-keeengg ahhp tu zeee tee-chaaaz ahhn zee naaa-siiis uuu-neee-ahhns! Ahhnn heee neee-vaah haad tuu grope aahh vooo-man tuu get ahh date eee-thaaah! Noow ess zaa time fuuuh mee to kees maah bal-ging triceps!”
(I hope I got Arnold’s translation right, though I should admit that I do have experience deciphering the communication of people who are functionally illiterate.)

I respect Beatty for a lot of reasons, including "Reds," having the unmitigated gall to make a visually nauseating movie like "Dick Tracy," and standing by the dying Elia Kazan when he received his honorary achievement Oscar a couple of years ago (while Nick Nolte self-righteously sat there and stared…two things: 1) When Nolte contributes something more meaningful than the occasional solid acting performance mixed in with a bunch of tabloid headlines on a par approximate with Kazan’s body of work, I’ll give him his due; 2) Kazan made a terrible mistake by naming some names to the HUAC in the 50s, but I’d like to know what Nick “Feet Of Clay” Nolte would have done when faced with the choice Kazan had, which was to dime out your friends and keep working, or clam up and possibly lose everything.). Of course, Kazan got Beatty’s career started with “Splendor In The Grass,” but the fact that Beatty remembered that says something about him, I think.

Actually, I wouldn’t get too worked up about a campaign of Ahh-nold versus Warren. Now, Annette Bening against Maria Shriver (maybe even including a “Winner Take All” steel cage wrestling match)…THAT would be interesting :- ).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bucks County, PA's Big Mouth "Speaks"

I try really hard to avoid J.D. Mullane, a metro columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times, but unfortunately, the paper does a good job of putting his column in a strategic location where it is almost impossible to avoid it.

I have many problems with him, chief of which is that he is a Repug cheerleader of utterly bald-faced partisanship. I should point out, though, that he has written some fine columns about Bucks County people, places and history. He should stick to that subject matter, but as you can read below, he actually tries to comment about matters about which he does not know nearly as much as he thinks he does.

"So, Warmonger, When Do You Enlist?" (today’s column title)

Last week, I attended Cindy Sheehan's "Bring Them Home Now!" tour at the George School campus and found that it was a yawner, dulled by a litany of Vietnam-war era anti-war bromides.
This is typical for Mullane. He gives us no insight into who spoke or attended or any information about the tour - I'll acknowledge, though, that I didn't read an earlier column in which he may have gotten into that. And by the way, the "bromides" are timely again - some of them - because of Bushco's greed, arrogance, and stupidity.

Just to digress briefly – when U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick won the election last year, Mullane dutifully followed him around for a couple of columns and reported on every single little thing that he did, obviously awed by him true to lap dog form. Yep, Mullane sure is objective all right.

This observation sent anti-warriors to the PCs to bang out e-mails ripping me a new foxhole into which they would dearly love to see me dropped, ideally in the middle of the Sunni Triangle.
A play for pity: typical. “Oh, help me, I’m a persecuted, misunderstood conservative.” And people with your sympathies NEVER do this sort of thing also, do they? Please.

Lookee here:

"If you believe America is worth dying for, why don't you enlist, grab a rifle and fight? That's the challenge that every pro-war person should be given. If you are too old, send your kid, or your sister..."

And here:

"If America is worth dying for in the case of the Iraq war, why aren't you over there fighting right now? And do you encourage your family members and friends to enlist?"

It's a legit question, especially for pro-war pols, press pundits, and the loudmouth at the end of the bar.
And how exactly again are you different from them anyway?

In fact, it's a question that war supporters shouldn't dodge. Why be Clintonesque on a crucial issue like Iraq?
True to form, Mullane has to find a way to insult a minimum of four Democrats per column, or else he feels like he isn't doing his job. I think he meets that quota in this one.

So let me tell you how it is with me.

When Jimmy Carter was president, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. This was 1979-1980, terrible years for America. Communist expansionism. Hostages in Iran. Double-digit inflation. "Malaise."
That's two Dems so far - actually, he's right about 1980: Reagan was elected, and John Lennon was murdered. And the Communists continue to remain a threat to peace in our time, as we know :- )

I could do the same trite exercise for Ronnie Baby and Dubya, J.D. Iran-Contra. Marines killed in Lebanon bombing (243). Brutal early ‘80s recession. 9/11. Iraq War II. Enron.

Carter did have problems as a President, though – I’ll have to admit that. But since he was a Democrat, he didn’t get any credit for accomplishments either, including the Panama Canal Treaty or the Camp David Accords.

Many thought the United States was through.
"Many?" As in who, exactly? Oh, I guess you mean your fellow travelers at "Moving America Forward" and "Free Republic." Oh, I see now.

Carter, a bit of a wimp, copped an awkward tough guy act and ordered me and every other 19-year-old male in the country to register for a military draft pool, which had been in a deep freeze since the protest days of Vietnam. No big deal to me.
By the way, J.D., did you know that this "wimp" had the second-longest career in military service with the Navy behind Ike among all presidents from 1950-2000?

Being the grandson of a war hero and the son of a World War II GI, my attitude is probably that of working and middle-class Americans: If you are called to service, you serve. Just like those before you.
As I've pointed out before, I am the son of a World War II GI also, for what it's worth. Also, notice how Mullane plays the “class” card, though, in other columns, he has railed against the Dems for doing that.

Meanwhile, you get on with business at home.

I went to register at the post office but first had to get past a group of anti-war activists who had set up a pamphlet-laden table outside.
This is totally within their rights if they have received a permit to do so.

There was a hippie-type dude with a ponytail, bitterly recalling his Vietnam experiences.
See, this is where I have to explain again. Mullane reduces anyone from "the left" to nothing but caricature. God forbid he should give these people any depth or bother to learn about them, or else they would seem real and credible or – gulp – possibly even correct. I would assume that this person is a veteran, but because he is a "hippie-type dude," Mullane can't possibly give that guy that level of respect.

As an example of Mullane’s “reporting,” he and fellow metro columnist Kate Fratti were assigned to cover the Repug National Hatefest in NYC last year. Mullane wrote about how he was spat upon and verbally abused by unkempt, bad-mannered and filthy demonstrators, whereas Fratti actually went to the trouble to talk to these people, learn more about them, and try to understand their position.

An old guy in a huge straw sun hat talked to me about the "100th Monkey" theory of social change.

Monkey what?
Oh, ha clever you are, JD!

War solves nothing, he said.

What about the Revolution? What about World War II? I asked.

The hippie dude and the straw hat guy couldn't decide.
What powerful, in-depth analysis, JD! Your inquisitive journalistic instincts were doubtless absent again on this occasion. By the way, this is all a setup to a bigger "slam" coming later, as further evidence of Mullane's supposed cleverness.

Actually, J.D. (assuming you will ever actually read this, and I admit there isn’t much chance of that), there’s a link on this page to a guy named W.D. Ehrhart under “Great Writers.” He’s a Vietnam veteran who has written some great stuff about his experiences. Why don’t you check him out when you take a break from watching Fox and listening to Flush Lim-Bore?

As they jaw-jawed this, I went in and registered. I was on my lunch break. Unlike some people, I had a time card to punch.
And how do you know "the hippie dude and straw hat guy" didn't have jobs themselves? Are you clairvoyant now also?

My attitude remains the same as it was at 19. If called, I'll serve - even at 44.

Meanwhile, I get on with my business at home.

As for my kids, they can decide for themselves.
Assuming the politicians don't try to bring back the draft, which they may try to do now because your boy Dubya has depleted our forces so badly because of his illegal war and abuse of our Guard forces.

But at ages 5, 4, and 3, we are still working on tying shoelaces and eating at the table without food dropping on the floor.

But why ask me, an obscure columnist?

Why not ask the congressional leaders who control national policy and war funding
Get ready for the slam.

Has anyone queried Sen. Hillary Clinton to see if she’s encouraged daughter Chelsea to enlist? Sen. Clinton voted for the war and is a hawk on Iraq.
There’s a difference between “supporting the war,” and “being a ‘hawk’ on it,” but I don’t expect you to point that out because it wouldn’t suit your Democrat-smearing purposes, would it?

How about Sen. John Kerry? He voted for the war, too. Has he encouraged his daughters, Vanessa and Alexandra, to pick up machine guns and help out in Fallujah?

Ask them. My guess is that you’ll get a lot of dodgey jaw-jaw.
Bravo, J.D.! Well played indeed, and you even met your quota of “attacked Democrats per column.” You effectively blur the line between those who stupidly supported Dubya because they actually believed him and thought he knew what he was doing (Clinton and Kerry) and those who rabidly cheered and shouted for war (Dubya and his administration, any red-state Repug and many blue state ones, etc.).

As far as I’m concerned, you’re a charter member of the right-wing fourth-estate freak show, posing as the journalistic equivalent of the dog-faced boy. May you someday be rudely awakened to your culpability for practicing your dark art.

The Stain Of Sin

You have to register to read this.

I’m kind of fumbling for words at the moment, believe it or not. I had a feeling this was coming, but it’s still a shock.

I saw one name I recognized in this story, though this person is not accused of any wrongdoing.

As far as I am concerned (as well as a great many others), what these priests are accused of doing constitutes a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and if found guilty, they should be sentenced to hard time (and good luck in the joint if you get sent up for that – remember John Geoghan?).

Another thing – to me, none of this is attributable to homosexual behavior. This is a disgusting, sick perversion of a hetero instinct. If all of the accused priests were gay, they would merely date each other and that would be the end of it.

I don’t see how we need any further reason to not eliminate the celibacy requirement for the priesthood at this point and let priests marry (as well as ordaining women). However, we are talking about the Roman Catholic Church, which is the oldest bureaucracy in the world. The celibacy requirement is, after all, tied to the Church’s ownership of any property accrued by the priest over the time of his ministry. I know St. Paul said something that could be interpreted as justification for celibacy, but, in my readings of the gospels, I’ve never read anything from Our Lord about it.

Also, I’ve hammered Lynne Abraham in the past, but she’s dead-on correct on this one. How convenient for the Church that it hushed up the problem for so long that the accused priests can now escape prosecution since the statute of limitations on the crime has expired. I would expect such legal maneuvering from Nicky Scarfo or John Gotti, not the Catholic Church.

And what is the reaction from “my shepherd,” metaphorically speaking? To issue some carefully worded apology and send out their pit bull of an attorney, William R. Sasso, to attack everyone in sight.

At this point, should anyone seriously wonder why attendance at Church on Sunday and collections are down?

This is just awful all the way around. All we can do is pray for healing and forgiveness, if it is possible somehow, and try to lend support any way we can. Some understanding and change on the part of my church would help also, but regarding the change part, I’m honestly not holding my breath.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Illusion Of Legitimacy

(note to anonymous commenters: lots of name calling here)...

In this week’s issue of Time, Adam Zagorin, a staff correspondent, posed ten questions to new Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he arrived in New York when Bush was lobbying the U.N. to try and stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, as described by the magazine (the “ten questions” segment is a recurring feature for the magazine, for anyone who doesn’t know this…one week they posed ten questions to Al Franken, one week it was Newt Gingrich, etc. Last week, they posed ten questions to John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, which was actually interesting I thought).

(By the way, concerning the nuclear issue…given Bushco’s arrogant incompetence, I don’t trust them to assume that they actually know what they’re talking about on this issue. I think Bushco is trying to create another “tempest in a teapot” like it did with Iraq ultimately. However, I certainly don’t trust Iran either, and you’re about to find out more from me on that.)

Anyway, here is the first question from Zagorin and the first answer from Ahmadinejad.

Q: Some Americans claim you helped hold them captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran more than 25 years ago. You have said that you did not participate, but if you had a chance to speak to those former hostages now, what would you say?

A: What is important is to think about the real root causes of those events. It’s not important who those students were. What was important was that it was an outcry of our repressed people. We cannot be happy when we see others suffer. But you see, sometimes, in order to gain your rights, you have to do certain things.

“It’s not important who those 'students' were,” huh?

You arrogant little bastard!

Our embassy personnel were doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to harm you and your fellow thugs (and by the way, contrary to what Zagorin said in his softball question, I believe that you WERE there based on what I’ve read from other sources that I consider to be more reliable than this one). While our people were being held for 444 days, you and your pals circulated some rumors that our embassy people were spies. Of course, you’re not repeating that now because, like you did then, you know that that’s full of crap.

So you were mad at the Shah huh? I don’t blame you for that, because he was a mean, decadent guy, and Jimmy Carter should have realized you clowns would do something like what you did when he allowed the Shah to be treated at a U.S. medical facility. However, Carter had the same luck with that as he did with just about everything else in his presidency, unfortunately. Regardless, that’s no excuse for lawlessness on anyone’s part.

Speaking of Carter…hey, that sure was a genius move by you guys and Khomeni to undercut Carter and help Reagan, wasn’t it? You sure got a better deal, didn’t you? He played you guys like saps by supporting Hussein in your war against you in the '80s (of course, you also went along in the “arms for hostages” deal, so I’ll admit that you got a measure of revenge).

I don’t know if this has occurred to you or not, but do you realize that, when you and your countrymen illegally took our people hostage, you unleashed a cycle of violence and reprisals in your area of the world that is still going on (including the current war in Iraq, and the sickest aspect of it is that it ultimately is working to your benefit, which, in Bush’s stupidity, he didn’t foresee)?

“Mr. President” (a ceremonial title as far as I’m concerned, because the mullahs will always have the real power in your country), don’t pretend to be such a cultured, civilized individual. Your country still supports terrorism and probably always will (the REAL bin Laden connection was with you all along, not Hussein). However, because Iran is formidable economically and militarily (and since we’re going the way of the old Soviet Union in terms of being overcommitted militarily overseas), you must be treated with kid gloves and not receive the treatment you deserve (this may come as a shock, but I actually somewhat agreed with Bush’s “axis of evil” statement, but what galled me was the fact that he stupidly said it the way he did and gave aid and comfort to our enemies for propaganda purposes).

Besides, is it really better for your people in Iran now with the mullahs in power as opposed to the way it was under the Shah? Or is that a question you can even seriously answer lest you fear for your life?

Take your smug, sarcastic little butt and put it on the first plane out of here, and since we’re such an “evil” nation, don’t bother to ever come back. You’re a coward and a criminal, and because you helped kick-start the Reagan presidency and the conservative ascendancy (which, admittedly, probably would have happened anyway), you’re an idiot as well.

Here We Go Again

Let's just hope and pray...

Make sure there are plenty of reporters to cover the looting (maybe it will hit Crawford and nail's Bush's ranch and Larry Mattlage's property).

Wednesday Roundup

Atrios and Think Progress introduced us to Jeb Bush’s imaginary conservative, sword-wielding pal “Chang” yesterday (yes, I’m serious)…Armando at The Daily Kos informs us that Max Baucus of Montana is going to vote for confirming John Roberts, and thus whipsaw Harry Reid for his courageous stand (and even Pat Leahy of Vermont is caving…yeesh!)....Kos and Atrios both report today on Bill Frist’s insider trading (hey “Senator HCA,” do you know where I can get a few shares of Amalgamated Greed, Deceit and Hypocrisy?).

Also, Atrios and Media Matters present this choice item from the one and only Bill O’Reilly (addressing any lefty bloggers out there)…

…most Americans loathe these people. They loathe them. And they are very loathe-able. These creepy, little website people are just, I mean, it makes my stomach turn. And that's the truth. I don't like the right-winger nuts either. But the left-wingers have reached new lows.
Oh, bless your pointy little head, Bill. Can you please send me some more copies of, “The O’Reilly Factor For Kids,” by the way? I need them for my cat’s litterbox. Thanks ever so much.

And John Edwards (echoing Armando) reminds us why supporting Roberts is a mistake (Specter has already gone on record as saying he supports him, and I'm not even going to waste my time with "one of the greatest minds of the 13th century," as Tom Ferrick of the Inquirer refers to him).

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the most important judge on the most important court in our country, responsible for protecting and upholding the rights and freedoms outlined in our Constitution. I have carefully reviewed Judge John Roberts' testimony and listened to him give unsubstantial, boilerplate answers and avoid answering even the most basic questions about his own views today.

Based on everything I have seen and read from Judge Roberts' work in the Reagan Administration, his past opinions, and his most recent testimony, I wanted you to be the first to know that I must oppose his nomination to be our country's Chief Justice.

I do so because we do know the views and positions he took prior to the recent hearings. Judge Roberts opposed efforts to remedy discrimination on the basis of sex and race. He opposed measures to protect voting rights. He denigrated the right to privacy and a woman's right to choose. He wanted to allow Congress to strip away courts' jurisdiction over controversial subjects.

Although he has presented himself as a supporter of judicial restraint, I do not see enough evidence that Judge Roberts would show restraint when his own political commitments are at stake. In light of his past positions, I believe he had an affirmative obligation to make the case to those who might confirm him that he repudiates the positions that he had previously advocated in his professional career. He made a choice and refused to meet that obligation. I cannot support someone who I am not convinced will preserve the liberties and freedoms that are enshrined in our Constitution and our laws.

Please join me in fighting for the principles and values that each of us cherish. Contact your Senators and tell them to vote no on Judge Roberts' nomination.

Update 1: Regarding Katrina, can you say whitewash?

Update 2: Molly Ivins brings us a bunch of stories we should have heard about, but didn't.

Update 3: David Sirota is really shrill with this one, but guess what? He's right (again), and so is Cenk.

The Power Of A Poet

Sharon Olds, as far as I’m concerned, performed a great service against those that “carouse and make wassail,” as that Shakespeare guy said in Hamlet awhile back, using language in her letter, especially near the end, of which only a literary mind could conceive (courtesy of The Nation and The Huffington Post).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Repugs Having Sex, Part 2

Welcome to "Doomsy After Dark" (I've just put on my ascot and I'm posting with a very dry martini immediately to my left after having just underlined key passages in "Tropic Of Cancer," by Henry Miller).

So, with the Gulf Coast reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and a pending hurricane gathering strength in the Gulf and bearing down on Louisiana again (but just remember, the science of global warming is “unproven” according to Bushco, even as polar bears learn how to apply sunscreen), and Iraq tilting towards an Iranian-style theocracy and the animal al Zarqawi effectively running an entire province (and Osama bin Forgotten...remember him?), and our economy stagnating and working families having “the ground chipped out from under them” in all directions, what do you think our esteemed government has defined as a perilous new threat? No, not influence peddling and its own internal corruption

That’s right. Porn!

As reported from the Washington Post and accessible from this link, the FBI is looking for help to perform this hard, penetrating, and long-lasting assignment (OK, I’ll stop). And what’s even more ridiculous and not humorous in any way at all is the fact that, apparently, child porn isn’t even the focus of their efforts. They’re going after adult stuff which, more often than not, is consensual.

The story also mentioned that Bushco (in the form of AG Gonzales) will give this the same emphasis that Edwin Meese of the Reagan Administration gave it in the ‘80s (anything that recalls Ed Meese causes a seismic reaction on the disgust-o-meter for yours truly, by the way…I’ll save my rant on Meese for another time).

Well, at least this gives me the excuse to trot out this golden oldie (which further amplifies the hypocrisy of this entire position, as far as I’m concerned).

Update: And of course, why stop at just adult-oriented porn from which the media sultans are making a ton of dough and don't really want to do anything about anyway, appearances notwithstanding? Why not just start carving up movies that are synonymous with our culture, for better or worse, that contain anything that could be objectionable to some fundamentalist tightass?

I can just hear Robert DeNiro yelling at Joe Pesci now in the "new" version of "Raging Bull"..."Did you have connubial relations with my wife?"

Two Down, One To Go

Prior to Sept 11, 2001, FEMA (under the direction of James Lee Witt) identified the three largest disasters facing the US as follows:

1. A terrorist act on New York City
2. A major hurricane in New Orleans
3. A major earthquake in San Francisco

Well, since we have experienced two of these three events now, I thought it best to brush up on the history of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and its aftermath in an effort to figure out how FEMA and state and local agencies should respond. This links to a Wikipedia article on the earthquake (bless this site for its wealth of information), this provides additional background, and finally, this links to a related article from Ch. 5 News, which I guess is a local area station.

Aside from the 1906 quake, one also hit in 1989. I remember it took place during the “Bay Area World Series,” oddly enough, between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics (I still remember the look on announcer Tim McCarver’s face as the stadium started to shake; hey, I’d be scared too).

I’m quite sure that mayor Gavin Newsom and (hopefully) “The Governator” are working on this right now if they haven’t done so already, but maybe some suggestions on my end would help a bit. I should note that I have not yet visited this glorious city, but hopefully I will be able to oneday. I also haven’t found anything yet from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Joan Ryan regarding preparedness for an earthquake or other disaster, but I will keep looking.

What I found is that the event in 1906 is referred to as “the San Francisco earthquake and fire,” since the quake itself, which registered an unbelievable 8.25 on the Richter scale and unleashed tremors that could be felt as far north as Oregon and as far east as central Nevada, lasted for only a minute. But the fires that were created from broken gas lines igniting structures that probably were made more of wood at that time, as opposed to the steel-reiniforced concrete like we have now, were, for the most part (as well as man-made acts of vandalism in an effort to get the insurance companies to pay for rebuilding) more responsible for the massive ruin of the city and surrounding area.

I also have to admit that I was a bit amused by this note (not for the destruction to the area, but because of the “history repeating itself” quality of the quotation, reminiscent of Republican Louisiana Representative Richard Baker’s remark about God fixing the “public housing problem” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina):

In 1906, the destruction of Chinatown by fire was considered a great blessing of the Earthquake. Many felt it should have burned long before. Said the Overland Monthly, "Fire has reclaimed to civilization and cleanliness the Chinese ghetto, and no Chinatown will be permitted in the borders of the city.... it seems as though a divine wisdom directed the range of the seismic horror and the range of the fire god. Wisely, the worst was cleared away with the best." Chinatown in Hunters Point? by Ralph Henn
I wonder if there were any stories in the papers at that time concerning wide-scale Chinese looting?

So, here are some of my thoughts about how San Francisco should prepare for the big one (again, for whatever my thoughts are worth):

To begin with (and I think this is critical across the country, especially in our cities), we should research, fund, and develop an emergency response wireless internet network in case communications through fiber optic cables is disrupted or destroyed. Since these cables are underground, I think it is safe to assume that this would happen in the event of a natural disaster. For individuals who do not have computer access, some sort of laminated quick reference card should be produced telling them what to do in the event of a disaster, including a location where they could go to access a wireless computer and find additional information. If they don’t take care of the card or lose it somehow, they have one chance to apply for a replacement. After that, they’re on their own.

Next, a network of shelters and gathering places (SBC Park, some neighborhood rec centers or meeting places, etc.) should be identified as locations to proceed to in the event of the disaster, stocked with food and water, basic medical supplies, and sanitation facilities of some type. I’m old enough to remember TV public service announcements that used to be on in prime time that actually provided useful information (“if this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to do such and such”) instead of generating annoying beeps and TV screens full of nothing but primary colors.

Also, a plan of transport for individuals from poor districts should be established in cooperation with local, state, and federal authorities (combining a wide assortment of vehicles, including buses, trains, and passenger vans). Coordinating transport from the beautiful Nob Hill Victorians (which probably would go up in a fire like so much kindling) poses a whole different set of challenges as opposed to crowd control and evacuation on a Friday or Saturday night from, “The Patio,” “Orphan Andy,” or “Harvey’s.”

Maybe the city could even declare one day “Disaster Drill Day” or something in preparation, as long as Katrina is still fresh in everyone’s minds. I used to work at a hospital that performed disaster drills twice a year, and it paid off a few times. Even in a situation where the ground is shaking and all manner of structures are being uprooted or destroyed (in which vehicles wouldn’t be moving anyway), it is still wise to have precautions like this in place so individuals seeking shelter would know who or what was coming to get them.

Coordinating vehicles for these tasks would be, I think, a particular challenge for San Francisco with its hilly landscape (particularly on Lombard Street), and I would think that, as a result of that, the legendary cable cars would be effectively useless for the task of transport at this time. It might be feasible, once crowds are coordinated to designated locations, to consider ferrying them over to Alcatraz in the bay until some type of order is restored (maybe part of that location could be set aside as some type of temporary disaster mangement headquarters). The Fisherman’s Wharf area would require some type of water transport to get everyone to safety also.

I hope Newsom and Ahh-nold have also taken into account timeframes and disaster conditions under which the state National Guard would be federalized to aid in evacuation, transport, and housing of anyone who lost their homes or were injured at that time. Also, health care facilities and trauma centers would have to be designated by priority based on the level of acute care that could be provided at each location as well as geographic proximity. Coordination with the federal government would also be required if military personnel were needed for rescue and maintaining law and order. Also, the state’s disaster plan should designate which fire departments from which locality should be notified to fight any fires that would result based on location to a vital strategic facility, as well as type of fire and degree to which it may be burning out of control. If past is prologue, then, as in 1906, fires would result from another earthquake.

I can’t think of any other recommendations at this time, aside from doing everything possible to keep the Golden Gate Bridge open or provide for some means to ferry people across the bay in the event that the bridge is damaged. If I do think of anything else, I’ll add to this post.

Hey, I know I’m no disaster management expert, but these are just my ideas and recommendations based on what I know. I hope they help. Besides, writing this up is already more than Mike Brown did, and he was collecting a salary.

Journos On The Run

I give Dan Rather credit for pointing out what is patently obvious these days. Announcing it is one thing, though. Doing something about it is an entirely different matter.

To me, this definitely explains, for example, The Philadelphia Inquirer's endorsement of John Roberts for Chief Justice last Sunday. The entire tone of the editorial was along the lines of, "this guy is the best we'll get, so just accept him and get him confirmed, and he's not as bad as some of the other people Bush has sent up" (I'm thinking of Miguel Estrada here, who basically sat through his hearing and said virtually nothing with this bemused look on his face, acting as if his confirmation would be but a mere formality). The last paragraph basically said point blank to write this one off and gear up for the next fight over O'Connor's replacement. Wow, what pioneering journalism!

This is where we bloggers have to come in (I don’t assume for a minute that I have the “cred” of any of the other big-hit sites…I’m just doing my thing and trying to help in my small way). We have to fill in the blanks and observe similar standards and conventions as our dear MSM cousins, though the whole point of doing this, I think, is to lend our own viewpoint to our topics as we see fit so, if at all possible, we can educate and inform and let everyone make up their own minds.

I think, collectively, we are making inroads, some more so than others. I found it curious, when reading a post from Atrios yesterday, to discover that Flush Lim-bore actually criticized Atrios and The Daily Kos by name instead of referring to them simply as “the loony left” or whatever pejorative Frank Luntz-approved term is being used this week. The fact that, to him, the face of “the enemy” is becoming clearer is a message in itself, as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, as I read what Rather said, I realized that this item, though I originally wrote it as satire, might come to fruition somehow (with the decline in standards for the profession aided in no small part by the Judy Miller saga).

Return Of "The Low Hanging Fruit"

(Referencing an appropriate quote from Bill Maher…)

You’ve got to be kidding me with this (and here is more background), along with this Wikipedia article

This is a woman who sexually humiliated Iraqi prisoners in full defiance of the Geneva Convention, doing her little “thumbs-up-happy-dance” in the process. Her boss (and lover, as it turned out) Spec. Charles Graner, ended up getting busted to the rank of private first class also. I’m not trying to let him off the hook either, but for some reason (chivalry gone absolutely nuts?), he stuck up for her last May, testifying that she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong because she was only following orders (oh, I see…the Eichmann defense) and thus got her guilty plea thrown out. She was looking at possibly 38 years in prison before Graner caved, and as it is, she is now looking at 11 years in a military stockade. But now, she’s even trying to get out of that?

The only regret I have is that this loathsome, detestable person, regardless of what happens, won’t end up serving time in a bloc with Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld, who allowed her to perform her despicable acts.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Those Funny Google Guys

From a friend (thanks, D)...

1. Go to

2. Type in the word "failure"

3. DO NOT click Search

4. Click "I'm Feeling Lucky" (the tab right next to Search)


A Stroll Down Memory Lane

I found this from The Huffington Post, and I’ve read bits and pieces of it, but I’ll eventually get to the whole thing. It’s a transcript of an interview George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week” had with Clinton yesterday about a wide range of topics. I think any column featuring either of the Clintons is interesting to read whether you agree with it or not, because it shows interesting thought processes at work. There’s a lot here to digest, and I’m looking forward to digging into it.

Meanwhile (as we contrast Bill Clinton with Our High Exalted Leader, who is currently sinking like a lead balloon in the polls - his numbers actually went down after the Katrina speech), Buscho continues to be propped up by acolytes from any and all sources (and Atrios today has another interesting post, ironically titled “A Free and Independent Media,” in a similar vein).

He Knows About Pricks, Doesn’t He?

(Read whatever you want to into that title…I’m not “the thought police”.)

This story is simply unbelievable to me. I guess what is most shocking is that this lady named Debbie Sybert is apparently the only one who complained.

Suppose one of these kids had been a hemophiliac. He could have bled to death right there. What would this Rev. Arthur Michalka have done then? What purpose did that idiotic exercise serve?

Our Lord did not have his finger pricked, according to The New Testament gospels. He had his hands nailed to a cross. I’d say that was just a bit more painful than a pinprick.

As long as I’m on this subject, though, let me point something out. Most Catholics are hard-working, devout people, like hard-working, devout people of other faiths. I realize that “normal” people usually don’t do anything to merit a news headline, so it’s easy to forget that. I’m just stating that so everyone knows it the next time a Catholic screwup of one type of severity or another turns into a front-page story.

Between goofballs like this reverend and any one of a number of Repugs who proclaim themselves to be Catholics, I generally despair for my faith at times, though it makes it all the more urgent to try and put things right however I can.

"Real Time" Update

Bill Maher led off the show with a comedy bit (though I’m sure some won’t find it amusing) called “Dr. Feldman’s House of Abortions,” under the premise that, with two Supreme Court nominees coming from Bush, you’d better get your abortions now before Roe v. Wade is overturned (the jury is still out on that for me, but consider this…Roberts said, “I’m no ideologue.” Yeah, and Dubya once said he was a “compassionate conservative,” also. I didn’t trust Dubya, and I don’t trust Roberts either.).

Maher’s monologue was funny, I thought. He said to the audience, “ I know you’re exhausted from our national day of prayer. Well, just think about John Roberts for a minute. He observed an entire week of silence.” He also congratulated new mother Britney Spears, saying that, “her water broke, and it took FEMA three days to respond.”

Sen. Charles Schumer from New York appeared remotely and had a good time with everything, though admitting frustration that he couldn’t get Roberts to say much also. He said he got to the point where all he could ask Roberts about was his favorite movie, though Schumer said, “I’m glad Roberts didn’t say it was ‘The Manchurian Candidate’.” When the subject of the reconstruction of New Orleans after Katrina came up, Maher chided Schumer and the Senate for only taking an hour to screen Mike Brown’s qualifications, which is a good point, and Schumer said the Senate will screen the next FEMA head more carefully (let’s hope so). Schumer also asked a question which has always been on my mind about Bush and many of the Repugs, and that is this; why do they get into government if they profess to hate it? Maher criticized Bush for suspending prevailing wage laws in the New Orleans construction also (gee, you don’t think that was Cheney’s idea, do you?).

The panelists were Joy Behar from “The View,” former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, and conservative writer P.J. O’Rourke. When asked about the Bush’s speech about the New Orleans reconstruction, Behar said she “didn’t believe a word of it,” and Bush “sounded like an abusive husband…’I’ll change honey, I promise’.” Maher also had fun showing a video clip of Bush apologizing (or as close as he actually comes to that sort of thing) at a press conference, acting like he was trying to explain his way out of being grounded for the weekend. O’Rourke immediately chimed in with, “oh, I guess no disasters ever happened under a Democrat, huh?” and the group immediately responded that we would not have had the same nonsense with FEMA under Clinton as we did with Bush because a good person was actually running it.

At this point, I should back up and say what I think of the panelists. Thankfully, I am too busy working to actually take time to watch “The View” (what exactly is Starr Jones anyway?) so I wasn’t familiar with Behar, but she was brassy and funny, I thought, in a way that was definitely needed. I actually don’t think Willie Brown added a lot to the show, though he is an engaging presence, but he covered a lot of ground along the lines of “black people being victimized by Katrina” which had already been covered.

As for O’Rourke, it was obvious that he was just trying to needle Brown and Behar (mainly Behar), but his remarks were just plain dumb (“FEMA is an idiot construct from Jimmy Carter, I don’t know why you’re blaming Bush for Katrina because I never blamed Clinton for the weather, Democratic programs kept blacks in poverty,” etc.). However, there wasn’t the same degree of open hostility between O’Rourke and everyone else as there was between George Carlin and Jim Glassman the week before (speaking of hostility, appearing on the show next week will be British MP George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens, and this will actually be a rematch of an earlier slugfest). All the same, as I watched O’Rourke (who, in another time, wrote some truly hilarious stuff for National Lampoon), I just wanted to tell him to take his Oxford shirt, suspenders, and blue bow tie and go find his Saab and drive back to the country club for some brie and Bordeaux or something and regale his rich friends with the evil and narrow mindedness of liberals to get some sympathy, because to me, his comments indicated that he was just trying to be erudite and wasn’t ostensibly living in the real world anyway.

Maher, though, did make an interesting point about the town in New Orleans that stopped some of Katrina’s refugees from crossing a bridge into their neighborhood, and Maher asked Willie Brown primarily what liberals would of they saw the same crowd coming towards them, and Brown laughed and said, “they’d run like hell, but probably without guns.”

(note to anonymous commenters: I’m about to throw around some names concerning the next person who appeared on the show. If this offends you, then stop reading, because as far as I’m concerned, what I’m about to say is perfectly appropriate.)

Maher next introduced this pusillanimous, beady-eyed little toad named Dan Cenar via satellite who once served the Bush Administration and now propagandizes for Fox, and Cenar’s appearance, in five minutes, ranked almost as high as Kellyanne Conway’s on the first show of the season for the most obnoxious bit of partisan flatulence that I have had to put up with to date. Gosh, what a cornucopia of crap…he started with asking Maher, “Don’t you feel the president is now vindicated by the Iraqi elections?” and then proceeded to go into a monologue where he, as a Bush sympathizer, yet again, ties Iraq to the “war on terrorism,” and then says that they hope “Iraqi democracy will be a model for the region, since it won’t be an incubator for terrorism,” and says that, “the American people aren’t getting the entire story.” At this point, I was yelling at the T.V. and Maher, trying to get him to call this guy on all of this.

Maher, to his credit, actually did ask two good questions. The first was, “under a Gore administration, how do you think we would have gone about this, assuming 9/11 would have even happened?,” and Cenar said Gore would have gone into Afghanistan (which I agree with), but not Iraq (also correct), and thus, wouldn’t have gone “far enough” (prick). Cenar also said “we’ve ignored dictators for three decades,” though actually, Rummy didn’t ignore Hussein when we were supporting him in the 80s against Iran. Maher also asked, “What happened to the $9 billion in aid to Iraq,” and Cenar said something like it wasn’t completely accounted for because of what was going on with the war, or some such insulting nonsense, though of course Bushco made damn sure that oil ministry was secured when they first went it, so there was no confusion there.

As I watched this loathsome human being communicate this spin that fewer and fewer people believe any more, especially this BS about creating a democracy in Iraq, I thought to myself, “I’d stick a Jackson in this guy’s hand if he ever actually had the guts to say this garbage in front of Cindy Sheehan and a bunch of other moms who’d lost their kids over there, because I’d like to see them rip him apart,” One of Cenar’s statements was that, “twenty five percent of the Iraqi ruling council are women,” a conservative talking point I’d heard before, though I didn’t hear Cenar explain what would happen to women’s rights in Iraq if strict Shia law is implemented throughout the country. When Cenar signed off, Behar just sighed and said, “That was baloney,” which nailed it, I thought.

Right after Behar said that, O’Rourke immediately said, “Is that the stock Democratic answer to everything?”,” and I forget how Behar responded, but I thought, yeah, P.J., it is sometimes. And do you know why? It is because you and your conservative friends don’t actually want to have a serious dialogue on the issues but instead throw Republican-certified talking points at us from every direction, further perpetuating this “liberal vs. conservative” nonsense (and I know I play into that with the title of this site, but it’s strictly tongue in cheek, and I may communicate the whole story about it one day).

And as long as I’m back on O’Rourke, I wanted to mention something else. Why is it that every conservative always has to tell us when they became a conservative and the reason/event/circumstance that made that happen (O’Rourke did that, but I don’t recall exactly what he said). I don’t know about you, but I don’t care (Update: I know Arianna Huffington tells that story of getting put off by Pat Buchanan's speech at the '92 Repug Convention, but that's the only time I remember a liberal stating what originated their point of view). I don’t remember what caused me to be a liberal (I’m sure Molly Ivins had something to do with it), putting aside the fact that, sometimes, those are really dumb “catchall” classifications. To illustrate, let me say this; I think that if a law-abiding citizen already owns a gun, nobody has the right to take it away from them because it is their property. Does that still make me a liberal? Also, I have yet to hear a good explanation for what the Microsoft trial in the ’90s was all about (aww…Microsoft is a ruthless, predatory company that sometimes engages in unfair trade practices. How does that make them different from EVERY OTHER SUCCESSFUL CORPORATION??!!). Does that attitude make me a conservative? See what I mean?

The group discussed the fourth anniversary of September 11th, and Bill Maher (correctly, I think) pointed out that, “nothing changed,” and transitioned to this: “this crowd of prigs that doesn’t get enough sex is always trying to put it to those who do.” Joy Behar wittily chimed in with, “Who do we go after in this country, Ahmed Chalabi or Miss October?” Also, Maher found a photo of John Roberts having dinner with a friend years ago, and they were both relaxed and smiling in a casual setting in front of an entrée served to them by a waiter, and Maher said, “I think we may be about to confirm the first openly gay Supreme Court justice, because real men don’t pose with food.” Maher also discussed soon-to-be mothers in New York who were inviting guests to the delivery of the baby, to which Behar wondered, “what wine is being served with the placenta?” (eeewwww!).

In the “New Rules” segment, Maher mentioned a bald eagle that, sadly, is dying of mercury poisoning (oddly appropriate to me, given the relaxation of rules on mercury by the Repugs), and Maher said the conservatives immediately questioned the eagle’s lifestyle choices. Also, when Maher got into the sudden popularity about devil movies again, such as “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” or something like that, he said, “if you think preventing the gays from marrying is more important than the polar ice caps melting, then the boogeyman is YOU.” Well said.