Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Yes, he really said this. Perhaps what he really meant was that to forestall the realization that he has sent 2,000 of our sons and daughters to die in vain, we need for more of our sons and daughters to die in vain so that the realization that they died in vain will finally occur when someone else is President.
Now, tell me -- isn't it just like a drunken ass-wipe of a rich frat boy to do a little swagger-step while he sends his paid thugs to "kick your ass" as retribution for... well, really, to impress his buddies?
But those "paid thugs" are nothing of the sort. They're our kids, kids who signed up to serve their country, kids who believed in a noble cause, or maybe kids who were looking to get an education, see the world, or learn a skill and get ahead in life.
And junior is sending them to their deaths. Junior is sending them to kill men, women and children -- because that's what happens when you try to fight this kind of war -- for no better reason than to show up his old man.
Easy! Look for the administration to start bandying the combined figure -- the number of American troops killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq -- about. It's more than 2,000. (According to Scott McClellan, it's over 2,200.)
2,000 Americans killed? Hell, it's 2,200! And y'all missed it!
Is that a great strategy or what?
(No, no... compared to all their other strategies, I mean. Really! Think about it! No, seriously... We're grading on a curve here...)
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Turkey, cappicola, and provolone on whole-wheat sourdough with fresh pesto, green leaf lettuce, and tomato. Yowza! The interplay of the flavors was just right, with nothing overpowering anything else.
Sorry... That whole Fitzgerald thing was making me hungry.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Fine. All the other blogs -- most of which have an actual audience -- either do a "Friday random 10" or "cat blogging" or both. Since neither of the cats is cooperating at the moment, here's a Random 10 list:
- Fire - Jimi Hendrix
- Mr. Moonlight - Beatles
- Second Hand News - Fleetwood Mac
- Tattoo - The Who
- Halley Came to Jackson - Mary Chapin Carpenter
- Lover Man - Billie Holiday
- Lyin' Eyes - The Eagles
- I Wanna Be Your Man - Beatles
- Take It Back - Cream
- What a Bringdown - Cream
Friday, September 23, 2005
In fact, Billy directed the administrator of his trust to dump his shares of HCA, that company that his dad and brother and some other guy founded. And -- I'm sure this is just a coincidence -- his directive to dump those shares came just a few weeks before HCA had some bad news to report, news that resulted in those shares of HCA stock to be worth considerably less.
I'm sure Bill had no advance knowledge of any of this, of course. And I'm sure that Congress, having suffered through the investigation of Bill Clinton over the Whitewater affair (in which the Clintons actually lost money), isn't going to subject Bill to any unnecessary unpleasantness just because this happens to look a little (OK, a lot) like insider trading. Cause, you know, you gotta be fair to the guy. He's a Republican, after all.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
WTNT63 KNHC 212146
HURRICANE RITA TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
545 PM CDT WED SEP 21 2005
...RITA BECOMES THE FIFTH MOST
INTENSE HURRICANE ON RECORD...
DROPSONDE DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE
UNIT RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT AT 416 PM CDT
...2116Z...INDICATED THE CENTRAL PRESSURE
HAS FALLEN TO 904 MB...OR 26.69 INCHES.
THIS MAKES RITA THE FIFTH MOST INTENSE
HURRICANE IN TERMS OF PRESSURE IN THE
RITA CURRENTLY RANKS BEHIND HURRICANE
GILBERT IN 1988 WITH 888 MB...
THE 1935 LABOR DAY HURRICANE WITH 892 MB...
HURRICANE ALLEN IN 1980 WITH 899 MB...
AND HURRICANE KATRINA LAST MONTH WITH 902 MB.
So we've two of the five most powerful Atlantic hurricanes, in terms of pressure, this year!
Sure, it's probably just coincidence. Time for Guitar George to put out a few more disclaimers.
Friday, September 02, 2005
And what does this Lawyer Extraordinaire have to say about the disaster unfolding in New Orleans? Well, first, he blames the victims, telling CNN that "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." Brown failed to mention that approximately 100,000 New Orleans residents don't have cars and had no way to leave town. Nor does he mention the stranded tourists, who were booted out of their hotel only to find that... there was no way to get out of town!
But this is quite understandable; it's what lawyers do. They fight for their clients, their employers. Brown's boss is... George W. Bush, the guy seen strumming a guitar in California while thousands of people in New Orleans, their mouths and noses straining to find any remaining air pocket as their homes filled with water, were gasping their last breaths.
And what else did Brown have to say? Well, even as television reporters on the scene described the horrific conditions at the Convention Center and the Superdome, Brown was assuring us that all was well, that food and water deliveries were being made, that law and order were being restored. Never mind all those reports from the people who were there; never mind all the bodies piling up. And pay no attention to this poor soul:
Michael D. Brown: Worst lawyer joke. Ever.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Over in the convention center, where thousands of people were told to seek shelter, there is no food, no water, no relief from the stifling heat. A frustrated group of refugees finally broke through the doors of the food court, where they discovered palettes of food and drink.
So what's the big concern for our friends on the right side of the aisle? Looters. Here's a sampling of blog entries from the right:
BARKING MOONBAT EWS -- Shoot To Kill
ANKLE BITING PUNDITS -- The Bleeping Looters - Shoot Em
BOORTZ -- Should we shoot to kill looters?
Now, here's the thing -- this is a tragedy of incomprehensible proportions. Some unknown number of people were trapped in their homes and apartments after Katrina passed, when they had reason to believe they were safe, as the breached 17th Street Canal began to empty the contents of Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans. We should be concerned for them.
Some unknown number of people are trapped in their homes, safe from the flood waters, but without fresh water, without food, without electricity, without the means to travel. Some of them are sick, some will become sick. Some have alredy died because their medicine ran out or the oxygen tanks were empty; others will die. We should be concerned for them.
Hundreds of thousands of residents of New Orleans were able to evacuate when the call came. Most of them, when they return -- if they return -- will find their houses uninhabitable, ruined by the flood waters, contaminated by sewage and sludge and God-knows-what. We should be concerned for them.
Some unknown number of tourists were trapped in New Orleans, booted out of their hotels, and sent to the Super Dome or the Convention Center to fend for themselves, to attempt to survive among the tens of thousands of other refugees struggling to cope with the lack of food and water and toilet facilities. We should be concerned for them all.
And yes, there were looters, some who foraged for the necessities of life, and others who saw an opportunity to steal that which they might not otherwise have been able to obtain. And what were they going to do with their newly acquired bounty? Wade through the sludge to return to their flooded homes? Park their fancy new television on their porch and wait weeks or even months for the electricity to be turned back on?
A funny thing happens to a town -- any town -- when there's no law enforcement. The lawless run amok. There were criminals in New Orleans before the flood and during the flood. But law enforcement was rendered powereless. There was no way to patrol the streets, no way to communicate with one another, no way to know where they were needed. And the criminal element, never known for its cerebral capacity, was smart enough to know that they could do what they wanted.
But rather than offer mindless remedies such as "shoot them all," shouldn't we be wondering why New Orleans wasn't immediately flooded with National Guard soldiers? Shouldn't we wonder why the President didn't immediately muster every available resource? Shouldn't we wonder why it wasn't until September 1, five days after the start of this tragedy, that the first food drops were made?
And there's plenty more to wonder about in the coming weeks, months, and years. Why weren't the warnings heeded? Why were flood protection funds slashed? What in the world did George Bush mean when he said "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" when, in fact, everyone anticipated the breach of the levees?
But you know, right now our thoughts and prayers should be with the victims of the storm, whether in Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama or Florida. "Shoot them all" may have a nice sound to those who like that sort of thing, but it's not much comfort to the victims.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Uh... George? "Hands-On" doesn't mean you grab the nearest toy and play with it.
It's some kind of Attack of the Clones, as far as I can tell. There seems to be fifteen or twenty people behind this Wave of Looting, since they seem to show up in all the clips. And odder still is the fact that these people keep stealing the same items! The Snickers guy, for example, always carts off a bunch of boxes of candy, always the same candy, always stacked the same way. The same is true of the Pampers lady, the Waving Woman, the White Stuff Guy, and everyone else.
And it's not just the looters who seem to all look the same. CNN also shows, almost continually, clips of people being rescued from rooftops. There's the two men, one of whom waves a white flag at a passing helicopter. Then there's the basket with the two children. Then it's a basket with one boy, followed by two guys on a rooftop, a basket with two children, the basket with one boy, the guy waving the white flag, etc.
But most of all it's the looting, non-stop rotation of those same four clips of people who are most likely homeless now illegaly removing merchandise from a flooded store. Clearly, the looting is the most important aspect of this disaster, far outshadowing the incredible human toll, the loss of tens of thousands of homes, the fact that hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents won't be able to return home -- if they still have a home -- for at least one month. Never mind all that; just keep your eye on the Pampers gal and the White Stuff guy. That's where the real story is. Well, that and all the looting.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Anyway, Robertson is concerned that Mr. Chavez, who has been somewhat unhappy with the Bush administration's attempts to remove him from office, might decide to sell us a little less of his country's natural resources. And so Pat Robertson said "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability." (See here, here, and here.) Mr. Robertson failed to indicate how his position differed from that of Mohamed Atta, who used a similar argument to launch a series of suicide attacks on September 11, 2001.
God, when reached for comment, shrugged sadly and passed out photographs of the tablet on which the Sixth Commandment is inscribed.
Monday, August 08, 2005
I guess I'm just confused here. After a month of strategically placed leaks that spread the word about Bush's plans to decrease troop levels in Iraq next year, we now hear that the Pentagon actually plans to increase troop levels before the scheduled October 15 vote on the constitution.
So let me get this straight... they're going to send a couple of thousand additional troops to Iraq just before they take a couple of thousand troops out of Iraq?
Yeah, that's about right.
U.S. may raise Iraq troop level before any cuts
Thursday, June 16, 2005
'When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.'
- It's worth noting that these actions were specifically authorized by the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield.
- It's worth noting that the policy permitting torture was deemed legal by the man who now occupies the post of Attorney General, Anthony Gonzalez.
- It's worth noting that the Geneva Convention, to which we are a signatory, specifically prohibits torture.
- It's worth noting that President Bush has attempted to justify the invasion of Iraq by noting that we put an end to the "torture rooms."
It seems absurd that anyone needs to stand up and say "Torture is bad. Period." It seems absurd that anyone has to stand up and say "Bad things done by bad people are just as bad when done by good people."
It seems absurd that the best defense of our policy is that we don't torture nearly as many people as those bad guys; we don't kill nearly as many prisoners as those bad guys; we don't have nearly as many prisoners -- whether innocent or guilty we'll never know, since they don't ever get a trial -- locked up "in perpetuity" as those bad guys.
I don't even know why we're having this argument. Over two hundred years ago, a group of brave Americans fought the British over some of these same issues. They felt so strongly about them that they refused to ratify the Constitution until certain principles -- what came to be known as the Bill of Rights -- were added to the Constitution. Things like due process; the right to confront your accuser; the prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment.
It seems absurd that in America, my America, people who stand up to say that they believe in the Constitution, that they believe in the Bill of Rights, or simply that they believe in basic human rights, should be castigated.
It seems absurd, but it's happening.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
The Pro-Lynching Senators
The Senate, for many decades, killed each and every anti-lynching bill sent to it from the House. Yesterday, at long last, the Senate finally expressed its remorse at this shameful past. Well, most of the Senate. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana introduced Senate Resolution 39, a resolution apologizing to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation. Most of her fellow Senators signed on as co-sponsors. But a select few Senators opposed the resolution and refused to allow the usual roll-call vote, which would have put them on record as having opposed it. Those pro-lynching Senators too cowarardly to admit their pro-lynching stance are:
- Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
- Robert Bennett (R-UT)
- Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Michael Crapo (R-ID)
- Michael Enzi (R-WY)
- Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
- Judd Gregg (R-NH)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Trent Lott (R-MS)
- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Richard Shelby (R-AL)
- John Sununu (R-NH)
- Craig Thomas (R-WY)
- George Voinovich (R-OH)
It's funny how the folks behind some of the most dastardly deeds on the planet crave their anonymity. The members of the Ku Klux Klan wear robes and masks; the hostage-taking terrorists in Iraq and other places wear scarves. And Senators? Well, some of them just thrive on secrecy.
Thanks to John Aravosis for assembling the list.
Monday, May 16, 2005
I don't ever forget the phenomenon, but the definition of the acronym (IOKIYAR) simply refused to take up residence in my long-term memory. So here's something from Goldfish Don't Bounce on the subject: IOKIYAR. It includes a bonus link to Digby, which I'll leave out. We should check back in two, four, and six years to see if anyone has decided to hold Republicans to the same standards as Democrats. Holding of the breath is not advised.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Friday, February 04, 2005
Friday, January 21, 2005
Four More Years
This little Iraqi girl was sitting in a car one moment, perhaps sleeping, as her parents drove at night through the streets of Tal Afar. Perhaps she was jolted awake by the warning shots; perhaps the sound of gun fire is common in Iraq, and is a signal that the driver should drive faster. Insurgents? Americans? Bandits? Who knows. But stopping to find out too often results in death. Her father chose to drive on, perhaps unaware that an American roadblock lay ahead.
We don't know what she was thinking in the next instant as dozens of small explosions shook the bodies of her parents, sending bits of their flesh and bone flying though the car, ending their lives and drenching everything and everyone in their blood. We know that her terror was caused not by some ideological extremist, but by American soldiers, acting as the avenging hand of George W. Bush.
We can leave it to this little girl to tell us, in twenty years or so, whether America's "War on Terror" was worth the lives of her parents. We can leave it to her sons and daughters, in thirty or forty years, to tell us whether they will seek vengeance for the death of their grandparents. And we can only wonder if the Bush administration's sixth or seventh rationale for going to war against Iraq will prove to be the one this little girl can live with. We can only wonder.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Donald Luskin is an Idiot
The only thing better than being clueless is being blatantly clueless, in full public view. Such is the fate of one Donald Luskin, a Contributing Editor for National Review Online.
Luskin actually has the temerity to inform us that there will be a Social Security crisis arriving in just five short years. The crux of this crisis? We, the Working Schlubs of America (and I define "working schlub" as anyone who gets paid for what they do, rather than what stocks they own) will be loaning the government less and less money, starting in 2009. This will force the government to turn to the capital markets to find the funds it needs to avoid charging the wealthy of America their fair share of the bill.
You have to love Republicans. These are the folks who, back in 1983, raised the taxes of the Working Schlubs of America (we'll just call them the WSA from now on) by a whopping 54 percent. (The “combined” rate for Social Security went from 8.05 percent to 12.4 percent.) It was all done at the behest of one Alan Greenspan, and it was done to (.... drum roll!) Save Social Security!
The idea was simple. Since Social Security faced a potential revenue shortfall when the Baby Boomers started to retire, why not start saving for that day in advance? And it worked. As of this writing, the Social Security Trust Fund has an accumulated surplus of almost two trillion dollars. And that surplus grows every day, since the WSA is tossing over $100 billion per year into the fund more than the current crop of retirees is taking out.Are you still with me? Here's the main point: Social Security has a ton of "surplus" money in its account, and it gets more every day. Now, here's the twist to all of this: most of this money, at least as a percentage of earnings, comes from the poorer ranks of the WSA, folks like the burger flippers at McDonalds or the grumpy folks folding sale items at your local discount department store. Now, you may be tempted to take issue with me on this. "Dude! Everyone pays Social Security tax!" you might say. And you would be almost correct. You see, only the WSA pay Social Security tax, for one thing. That rich guy hanging out on his yacht, lighting cigars with $100 bills, gets all his income from dividends. He doesn't pay a dime in Social Security tax.
And it gets worse. You see, only the portion of your income below the cut-off (most of us define this as "everything") is taxed for Social Security purposes. This year, the cut-off point is $90,000. After that, you get a 12.4 percent tax cut.
Here's another way to look at it: If you made $87,900 in 2004 (that was the cut-off that year), you were taxed at the rate of 12.4 percent. (This is the combined rate. If you work for a company, they pay half and you pay half, but if you work for yourself, you pay the full amount. But it’s not employers are being charitable; their contribution comes out of the money they’d have otherwise have paid you.) Your total contribution: $11,075. Now, if you made $175,800, you were taxed at the rate of 6.2 percent. Your total contribution: $11075, the same as the Working Schlub making half as much. So the more you make, the lower your effective tax rate is. (If you make $12,000 per year, you actually pay more in Social Security tax than you do in Federal Income tax!)Let's add the final wrinkle: the federal accounting system. All those billions in surplus Social Security payments don't go into any kind of special bank account. They get dumped directly into the government's General Fund where, like any cash the government can get its hands on, it gets spent. The actual cash that was extracted from your paycheck is replaced by a government IOU. Even though the government is actually borrowing this money to spend, it doesn't include it in the annual Surplus/Deficit figures. This actually comes in handy for the party in power, since it makes the government's balance of payments look better than it actually is. For example, the announced deficit for fiscal year 2003 was $375 billion, but that included $155 billion borrowed from Social Security and $5 billion from other retirement programs. The actual deficit for 2003? $536 billion. Click here for the Congressional Budget Office's data. Read Table 1, and look for the column labeled "On Budget."
I apologize for making you sit through all that, but it's a complicated issue. And the mere fact that it's complicated lets people like Donald Luskin publish idiotic statements. Remember him? He's the one who warned of the Social Security crisis that was set to begin in 2009. And the nature of that crisis? The annual Social Security surplus starts to shrink. The amount of money that the WSA will be pumping into the fund in 2009 will still be far beyond the amount being paid to retirees, but it won't be quite as far beyond as it was in 2008.
Are you blinking yet? This is the same as if your favorite restaurant declared that, starting in 2009, they'd no longer give you four times as much food as you could eat, but would instead give you only three times as much food as you could eat.
Yes, Donald, the free ride is almost over. Starting in 2018, we members of the WSA are going to start demanding our due. We will present the government with those IOUs and demand that it make good. And we are fully aware that folks like you, who may finally have to pay their fair share, will cry foul. But here's the thing: those multi-trillion-dollar tax cuts that George Bush gave your friends? They came at my expense. I never made it into those stratospheric tax brackets, the ones that were slashed time and again. I've been paying Social Security taxes on the first and last dime I've made ever since I started to work. Those were my tax dollars that helped run the government, my tax dollars that covered for your corporate buddies who moved their headquarters to a post office box in the Bahamas. You've had your fun at my expense, and now you're upset because it's time to pay the piper.
You'll have to forgive my lack of remorse over the discomfort it will cause you to have to repay my loan. As my daughter would say, too frickin' bad!
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Sandra Shows Up George
News Item: Sandra Bullock donates $1 million to the tsunami relief effort. (She also donated $1 million following 9/11.)
News Item: President George W. Bush, multi-millionaire, son of a multi-millionaire, donates $10,000 to the tsunami relief fund. That's fully 1 percent of Bullock's contribution. Also of interest is the fact that Mr. Bush only donated after several days of questions from the press regarding his charitable intentions.
It's funny how the folks who push private charity and advocate cutting back on federal philanthropy also turn out to be the stingiest.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Humanity Hanging on a Cross of Iron
Digby recycled this quote over on Hullabaloo. This is a case where there can be no improvement over the original, and I like having this quote handy:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."
--Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech
The issue actually runs quite a bit deeper than this, but I like the way Ike said it. It distills the entire issue into a few easy-to-understand sentences.