Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh, Dear God...

From the execreble* Associated Press:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The international shipping industry must take on more responsibility to protect vessels against pirate attacks and kidnappings in the dangerous waters of Somalia rather than rely on the U.S. Navy, the commander of the 5th Fleet warned on Monday.

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said the U.S.-led coalition patrolling the Gulf of Aden simply doesn't "have the resources to provide 24-hour protection" for hundreds of commercial vessels passing daily through these dangerous waters between Somalia and Yemen.

Gortney's comments come as heavily armed pirates are increasingly preying on shipping in the area. Drug smuggling and kidnappings for ransom have increased despite heavy presence of U.S. warships and patrol boats in the area.
Somebody please tell me: why the fuck do we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on a Navy that can't even do the one mission for which the Navy was created to do?

Pirates. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Pirates!? We can't even suppress the goddamn pirates and keep the shipping lanes safe anymore? Jeebus. What the fuck are they doing with all that money we spend on them? Blowing it on hookers and dope?

Okay, so now I gotta ask: is Chevron gonna be allowed to build their own fleet of battlewagons to defend their tankers against pirates because the U.S. Navy is too fucked up to do the job itself? What kind of firepower are we thinking Chevron ought to be lugging around while we continue to go about pissing away the military's power to project force? Can we sell them cruise missiles? I'm only asking because I'm kinda in the business of making things, you know, and well, I'm seeing this wealthy new buyer coming into the market soon...

Aieeiee. Goddamn it! Why the fuck do these people keep trying to make my planet into a cheap 1980's sci-fi potboiler?

* No, you fuckheads. This is what's called Fair Use. You can suck it.

At Least, Our Secretary Of State Isn't An Idiot

Debra Bowen says we ought to be using open source code in our voting machines. You know? It's refreshing to find out that the candidate to whom you gave the most money the last election actually managed to win... but it totally rocks when that candidate then goes out and does exactly the right thing after she gets into office.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"How did Nancy Pelosi screw up this badly?"

Consider this excerpt of dialogue from Animal House (1978):
D-Day: Hey, quit your blubberin'. When I get through with this baby you won't even recognize it.
Otter: Flounder, you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up - you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.
Flounder: [crying] That's easy for you to say! What am I going to tell Fred?
Otter: I'll tell you what. We'll tell Fred you were doing a great job taking care of his car, but you parked it out back last night and in the morning, it was gone. We report it to the police, D-Day takes care of the wreck, the insurance company buys your brother a new car.
Flounder: Will that work?
Otter: Hey, it's gotta work better than the truth.
Bluto: [thrusting six-pack into Flounder's hands] My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
Otter: Better listen to him, Flounder, he's in pre-med.
D-Day: [firing up blow-torch] There you go now, just leave everything to me.

The analogy writes itself.

Is the other shoe dropping for McJackelope?

Interesting news items...

1. Fannie/Freddie Subpoenaed in Probe of Possible Wrongdoing

2. McJackelope's Chief Wrangler Rick Davis Still Tied to Old Fannie/Freddie Lobbying Firm

So for those playing along at home, I guess since Rick Davis was Fannie/Freddie's main bag man on the Hill during the worst of the apparent excesses, and still makes his money with partner David Manafort from this, one would have to wonder if he's going to have to take a leave of absence to sit with a Federal Grand Jury in New York sometime in the next couple of weeks...

mojo sends

The Mother Of All Bailouts

Synthesizing the various takes from the econ bloggers I read, it seems to me like the bailout bill is A) gonna pass, B) not suck as bad as the original Paulsen "plan" did, C) at best, prevent another Great Depression from happening, and D) at worst, delay the real reforms needed to get the financial services sector functioning properly again, i.e. sensible regulations on the shadow banking system so that if it looks like a bank and quacks like a bank, by borrowing short and lending long, then it needs to be regulated like a bank: depositor insurance, limits on multiples and minimum reserves.

The optimists think the Treasury department can't possibly be as screwed up as the rest of the U.S. government, so of course, the bailout program won't be yet another episode of disaster capitalism straight out of Naomi Klein's book. The pessimists, among whom I should count myself owing to my natural tendency to be a doom-monger about economics, all seem to think that it's got to get a lot worse before the people who brought us this mess will be sufficiently discredited— some would say exsanguinated— that we can replace them all en masse with a corps of competent technocrats.

I'm inclined to go out on a limb and say that both the pessimists and the optimists are right: we need to pass this bailout bill, because we can't wait until the next congress to do it and this is the bill that will pass this congress and be signed by this president, but sadly, it probably won't be enough to keep the economy from unraveling. I've seen rumors on the web that a run on the hedge funds is underway. If so, then there will be a lot more blood on the street.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh God... Biden Speaks...

You know, I no sooner get done with Sarah Palin, the would be vice-McJackelope, than I am confronted with video of Joe Biden opening his pie hole off-leash...

Here is the horrrrribleness...
"Part of what being a leader does is to instill confidence, is to demonstrate what he or she knows what they are talking about and to communicate with people [...] this is how we can fix this," Biden said. ""When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened...'"
You know... I hate being right all the time.

It's time like this I start thinking that maybe duct taping the veep candidate into the back of a 1980 TransAm and driving it to a small TufShed® camoflouge shelter out in the woods for the next 40 days or so is not a bad idea...

mojo sends

I am in awe...

Ladies and Gentlefreeks... I think we have found the all time emeritus leader and inaugural Hall of Fame inductee for Stoopidist Things Ever Said...

Here are the lyrics so you can sing along...
COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land- boundary that we have with- Canada. It- it's funny that a comment like that was- kind of made to- cari- I don't know, you know? Reporters-...

COURIC: Mocked?

PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah. Um...

COURIC: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials?

PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our next door neighbors are foreign countries. they're in the state that i am the executive of. And there in Russia --

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We do -- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia -- as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska, It's right over the border. It is from Alaska, that we send those out to make sure an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.
Are. You. Shitting. Me?!

Seriously, the transcript doesn't do this justice, watch the video; it's like they nominated "Flo" from the Progressive Insurance TV Ads to be VP with her "big tricked out nametag..." No, scratch that... this would be Flo's evil twin...

I am imagining things, or did she just bilge out that U.S. Intelligence/Counter-Intelleigence assets operate out of Alaska for the purpose of Russia surveillance? Yeah, I know it should come as no surprise; the only eye opening thing is that she would say something that idiotic in public.

I don't doubt for a moment that it did not occur to her that Alaska is a U.S. Intelligence Community playground until receiving her first intel briefing the other day. Now she's gots a sekritz 2.

And as for a giant Vladamir Putin Head floating across the Bering Sea and into U.S. airspace... uhh... well, okay... I'd pay to see that. However, I'd have thought that perhaps the rest of us would have noticed that by now as well. Unless perhaps only Sarah can see the giant Putin head...

But that first part was exemplary; talk about a glass jaw. If she had to eat even a tenth of the crap Bill or Hillary did in their first shots at national office, she would have just burst into flames or started speaking in tongues by now.

Perhaps I am in agreement with Biz, when he says the reason McJackelope ditched Letterman Wednesday night was because handlers called him on the special Red Phone in the Straight Talk Express... you know, the one in the glass box that says
"In Case of Vice Presidential Nominee Implosion, Break Glass"
and was instructed by the GOP Command Satellite to get his wrinkled geriatric ass out of 30 Rock and over to West 57th Street and "fix that fscking Palin interview Pronto!"

It's funny, the folks over at Comarade Joshua's Kolektiv have finally had enough and now have a story up saying, "TPM has finally gone from contempt to pity..." When Comrade Party Member Greg has to beg readers to write in just to explain what she was saying because, he, like, knows what all those words mean, but yet they still don't scan or form any coherent thought...

We agree, it's just gotten sad.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Ur-lie of the Iraq Clusterfuck

John Dean thinks Barton Gellman has found it.
During this meeting, the Post reports, Cheney turned Armey around on the war issue. Cheney did so by telling the House Majority Leader that he was giving him information that the Administration could not tell the public -- namely (according to Armey), that Iraq had the "'ability to miniaturize weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear,' which had been 'substantially refined since the first Gulf War,' and would soon result in 'packages that could be moved even by ground personnel.' In addition, Cheney linked that threat to Saddam's alleged personal ties to al Qaeda, explaining that 'we now know they have the ability to develop these weapons in a very portable fashion, and they have a delivery system in their relationship with organizations such as al Qaeda.'"

The Post story continues, "Armey has asked: "Did Dick Cheney ... purposely tell me things he knew to be untrue?" His answer: "I seriously feel that may be the case...Had I known or believed then what I believe now, I would have publicly opposed [the war] resolution right to the bitter end, and I believe I might have stopped it from happening."

In short, it was this lie that sealed the nation's fate, and sent us to war in Iraq. By lying to such an influential figure in Congress, Cheney not only may have changed the course of history, but also corrupted the separation of powers with their inherent checks and balances.
Apparently, Fourthbranch spun out a yarn for Armey about Saddam Hussein provisioning his army of Al Qaeda devil robots with suitcase nukes— and Armey bought it hook, line and sinker. Can we please charge President Cheney with high crimes and misdemeanors now?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Da, da, comrade... pass the borscht.

I for one welcome our new state-capitalist neo-Leninist overlords, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to state for the record, that— as a dirty fucking hippie Leftist blogger— I may prove to be useful to their plans by helping them convince the proles to continue toiling away in their underground sugar mines.

Otherwise, I'm rendered utterly unspeechified by this:
SEC intends to temporarily ban short selling, but it's not clear if the commission has approved the move. Cox is briefing congressional leaders. Separately, the government is seeking congressional authority to buy distressed assets.
Of all the stupidest possible things to do, I never would have guessed they'd reach in the bag for this one. Who are these alien shitfiends, and what are they doing on my PLANET?

Ariirghhghrhhghgh!!!!!!!! The shrill. I feel it taking over my brain. Must control myself. Must find whiskey. It's only 10:00am PDT. How will I survive this dark night?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And now something completely different...

Kevin Carey at the American Prospect pens an insightful piece on how the Dems have squandered Education as a political issue. Along the way, he offers a concise primer on the issues of American education and the sorry condition of the political argument. I strongly recommend you check it out. This stood out to me:

American public education does a much better job than many of its conservative critics claim. The idea that present-day schools represent a huge decline from previous decades is a myth; overall student achievement has improved and is improving still. At the same time, public schools are plagued by a number of major shortcomings, most rooted in the underlying structure and history of the system, which has always been unusually local in character, funding, and governance.

Local control means that poor students receive far fewer resources than their wealthy peers and that every district makes its own decisions about what students need to learn. Because schools are government-supported and free to attend, they generally have little competition or external accountability. Historically, this has led schools in environments lacking strong economic, social, and political institutions (the District of Columbia's public schools are an infamous example) to collapse into total dysfunction. Well-off students generally do okay in this system, because their schools have more resources and whatever they don't get from their teachers is made up for at home. Low-income and minority students, by contrast--the children whom Democrats should be ideologically and politically most interested in serving--tend to fare far worse. In many distressed communities, drop-out and illiteracy rates are sky-high.

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Even Uglier Side to the Foreclosure Crisis...

You know, eight years ago I would have seen this story and would have thought "You-Are-Shitting-Me!"

Now? It's just another day partying like it's 1799.

I'll save you the click through... GOP operatives are going to compile lists of foreclosed homes in largely minority neighborhoods in one particularly swing district of Michigan -- itself a so-called "swing state" -- in order to challenge mainly black voters.

The minor premise of this hideous little enthymeme being that if their home has been foreclosed, they no longer live there and can't vote in the district. But the major premise is a barely disguised push to disenfranchise an entire class of people; not racially, but economically, even if the financial status tends to track racially in places.

Only white property owners should be voting, apparently.

At first, reading this I thought, this can't possibly be an isolated thing, even as my eyes were tracking to this next section of story...
Vote suppression: Not an isolated effort

Carabelli is not the only Republican Party official to suggest the targeting of foreclosed voters. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County (around the city of Columbus) and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

Hebert, the voting-rights lawyer, sees a connection between Priesse’s remarks and Carabelli’s plans.

“At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.

“When you are comprehensively challenging people to vote,” Hebert went on, “your goals are two-fold: One is you are trying to knock people out from casting ballots; the other is to create a slowdown that will discourage others,” who see a long line and realize they can’t afford to stay and wait.
These tactics have all the subtlety of roadkill. Expect to see a major nationwide push to challenge voters and purge voter rolls based on economic standing this election, not just in the "swing states" (I have always hated that bit of political cliche) but on a national level.

A couple of days ago, Biz posted some interesting voter registration data. I expect that this is largely a push back on those data; an attempt to fend off and discourage potential Democratic voters, especially new ones, who are perhaps getting on board Obama bandwagon out of a sense of economic self-interest. This would be understandable given the Bush administration's unremitting war against the middle class in this country.

This is the same kind of thinking that leads to cuts in college aid, small business aid and anything else that might seem like an egalitarian society's attempts at governance that genuinely gives a rat's ass about the economic mobility and potential of it's population.

No, the movement Conservatives at this point, think the American century has passed, and with it, the need for a broad, prosperous middle class. The plan now is to return people to the semi-indentured servitude of the 18th century by creation of a semi-permanent underclass, and by extension a more permanent ruling caste.

How else can a New American Mercantile Empire succeed? Where else you gonna find young people you don't like or respect anyway to go fight and die for your par-value share price?

mojo sends

Friday, September 05, 2008


I see where Lynn Westmoreland (R-Neoconfederate States of America) now claims that he didn't know the word uppity is a racially loaded term.

Okay, comrades. Short, shameful confession time.

Until recently— as in earlier this year— I didn't know that "uppity" is a racially loaded term. Happily, I'm ignorant no longer, and I'm thankful that I didn't make the discovery by using it inappropriately. So, you'd think maybe I might be more sympathetic to Mr. Westmoreland and his gaffe. I'm not.

He already stepped in it once when he appeared on The Colbert Report.

I think he's bullshitting us now with his stupid claim that he didn't know that uppity is a racially loaded term. Why do I say that?

“I’ve never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense. It is important to note that the dictionary definition of ‘uppity’ is ‘affecting an air of inflated self-esteem — snobbish.’

“That’s what we meant by uppity when we used it in the mill village where I grew up,” Westmoreland said.

Um. Yeah, that would be a mill village deep in the tribal mountain territories of Neoconfederate Redneckistan. My ass, you didn't know that it was racially loaded.

I grew up in Southern California— which truly does have its own race problems, and I do not mean for them to be overlooked as I draw attention to the unresolved racial issues still plaguing the South— but the explanation for my ignorance is that I completely misunderstood the meaning of the word.

You know what I thought it meant? I mistakenly believed it was derived from the phrase acting up— to be uppity was to be "prone to acting up." As in this kind of acting up. That's what I gathered from hearing it used in context.

Until recently, I thought being "uppity" was something everyone should want to be from time to time. It never occurred to me— because I don't often hear the word used in context anymore— that I should look up the word in a dictionary, where I would have learned of its 19th century origin and its correct meaning as a synonym for arrogant or self-important. In fact, now that I know what "uppity" really means, I'm sorta disappointed— because, now I don't have a word to use as an adjective to mean "prone to acting up," and it's a shame that uppity isn't suitable for that.

Somehow, Westmoreland didn't make the mistake I did. He knew full well what the word meant when he used it. I have a hard time believing he didn't know that choosing to call a Black man and his family "uppity" instead of merely "arrogant" or "self-important" would remind everyone who heard him use that word of its 19th century origin and the racially loaded connotations he most surely intended to convey.

I'm going to be so happy if, when this election is over, we have our first Black President. I think that will go a long way toward helping racist troglodytes like Lynn Westmoreland get their heads sorted out. I'm hoping. I really hoping now.

A peek behind the curtain

Over at Edge of the American West, SEK decided to peek behind the curtain of the GOP's Sarah Palin driven Triumphalism, and take a look at a critical electoral indicator, Voter registration. The numbers are not very good news for the GOP.

Here are a few choice examples in a few Battleground States:
Colorado: 13,352 Republicans, 66,516 Democrats, 23,437 Independents

Florida: 77,196 Republican, 209,422 Democrat, 26,100 Independents
From January to June

Iowa: 7,515 Republicans, 69,301 Democrats, -62,922 Independents
From January to August

Nevada: 1,230 Republicans, 51,457 Democrats, 7,550 Independents
From January to August

North Carolina: 20,363 Republicans, 171,955 Democrats, 123,605 Unaffiliated
From January 5 to August 30
Src: January 5, August 30

He could not acquire numbers from some of the other keys states, but it's likely the trend is national. And keep in mind that the Obama people have been constructing a massive GOTV effort modeled on the Bush/Cheney machine to leverage this registration trend.

Yes, the press narratives matter, but ultimately, all the nice speeches and pundit worship of John McCain is a sideshow to the ability to register new voters affiliated with your party, and then get them to the polls on election day. And in that area, the Obama campaign seems to have focused on.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The New Gloss

Gov. Sarah Palin... I hereby dub thee:

Caribou Barbie

You are a crank among cranks, and the only good thing we can say about you is that you are safely ensconced in the least populated state in the union where you can little harm the rest of us in the lower 48.

Please stay there.

mojo sends