Monthly Archives: April 2007

Moral Poverty

Go read Maitri and then come back.

Because, Jesus tits. Moral poverty? The absolute chutzpah it takes to write something like this:

If you’re black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you’ll probably wait for the government to save you.

This was not always the case. Prior to 40 years ago, such a pathetic performance by the black community in a time of crisis would have been inconceivable. The first response would have come from black men. They would take care of their families, bring them to safety, and then help the rest of the community. Then local government would come in.

No longer. When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out. This, as we know, did not turn out good results.

It’s hard to respond to crap like this. It’s hard to respond in specifics because you’re not addressing specifics. You’re addressing a general feeling, a sort of restless and undefined rage because things are screwed up, you can see they’re screwed up, and you have this gnawing feeling in your gut that you might be somewhat responsible. That gnawing feeling is uncomfortable, and there’s ways to make it go away.

You could get off your ass and help, of course. You could write a letter to your Congressman, you could volunteer for an hour at a food pantry or homeless shelter. You could walk the street for a politician or leader who will make things better for those whose plight so stirred your feelings.

Or you could tell yourself it’s the fault of the poor, that they’re poor. That’s easier, it’s convenient, and it might even be true in a couple of cases, which gives you an out to declare it true in all cases. Which isn’t exactly what the Rev. Peterson is doing, but it is what the slavering hordes of Freepers drooling all over his column are all about:

Living in Dallas and being in the Apartment business..we were caught up in the Katrina backlash…not a pleasant experience. Our experience, which was really very typical, was that they were ungrateful, arrogant worthless mammary sucking government POS. As a point…after they got their FEMA money…It was reported that Walmart’s jewelry sales went up 1400% in the Metroplex… I “axed” a 31 yr old that we befriended and her two really cute little girls and her bring along “bone jumper”…why they didn’t get out when the water started rising. Their reply: We gets up about 0700 and we see the water up to our front step…then we just went back to bed…we thinks it be going down shortly!!

Ms Angie soon decided that she had to be with her “people’s”…and departed for Houston. In the community she was with here in North Texas folks worked…and that is not something her lifestyle could tolerate…I could go on and on but it only pi$$es me off to talk about it…

Read that if you can keep your eyes from bleeding at the punctuation, and hear, as I do, every assumption in it, everything somebody thought they heard from somebody else which then becomes the God’s honest truth. Which then becomes a way to escape having to wonder why. The problem is, blaming the victim doesn’t make the victim go away. So even if that’s what you want, it’s not going to work.

Moral poverty. I don’t think that phrase means what the Freepers are taking it to mean.

A.

Heckuva Job, Nouri!

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki continues to undercut US efforts in Iraq.

A department of the Iraqi prime minister’s office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom have apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.

Although some of the officers appear to have been fired for legitimate reasons, such as poor performance or corruption, several were considered to be among the better Iraqi officers in the field. The dismissals have angered U.S. and Iraqi leaders who say the Shiite-led government is sabotaging the military to achieve sectarian goals.

“Their only crimes or offenses were they were successful” against the Mahdi Army, a powerful Shiite militia, said Brig. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general of the Iraq Assistance Group, which works with Iraqi security forces. “I’m tired of seeing good Iraqi officers having to look over their shoulders when they’re trying to do the right thing.”

Power

The Obama blog reminds me of Dean’s blog, and that’s a good thing. I dig the personal stories, I like knowing why politics, especially Democratic politics, lights people up and gets them excited.This is an especially good one:

I didn’t buy the compassionate conservative stuff— it didn’t work. I appreciate the idea of limited government in some ways, I mean, I’m against wasteful spending. But the problem I have is that Republicans don’t actually believe in limited government—they believe in cutting programs that don’t get them votes.

It’s about time more people recognized it’s not about anything but naked political ambition for the Bush disciples. It’s not about effectiveness, or spending limits, or sound policy or even really, when you get right down to it, ideological goals. It’s about power, and the acquisition and retention thereof.

And that’s all it’s ever been about.

A.

“It’s Mostly Maui-Wowie But It Has Some Labrador In It”

The US Attorney who prosecuted Tommy Chong is wrapped up in the US Attorneys scandal.

With U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales under attack in Congress for firing eight U.S. attorneys, [U.S. Attorney Mary Beth] Buchanan has also come under scrutiny because of a Justice Department administrative post she held in 2005. A former top aide to Gonzales has said Buchanan was consulted in the firings, and now a House committee is seeking to interview her.

The controversy has exposed a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Buchanan in the legal community in western Pennsylvania, where critics say she has devoted too much time pursuing headline-grabbing cases of sometimes minor importance and trying to please Washington.

[snip]

Two critics are former U.S. Attorney Fred Thieman, a Clinton appointee under whom she primarily prosecuted credit-card fraud cases, and Thomas Farrell, a former assistant U.S. attorney. Both are now defense attorneys and say Buchanan has padded her record of prosecutions with minor cases or headline grabbers.

Among the cases they and others cite: her office’s prosecution of comedian Tommy Chong’s multimillion-dollar drug paraphernalia business. Though the business was based in California, she brought the case in Pennsylvania as a result of an investigation that grew out of a local “head” shop bust. Critics say the Chong case was more about making Buchanan famous than fighting crime.

What’s Wrong With You People?

Don’t you know that your role in American society is to buy, buy, buy?

Consumer spending rose at the slowest rate in five months in March, even though personal incomes posted a solid gain.

The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending on all items was up 0.3 percent last month, the slowest increase since a similar rise in October. Incomes rose by 0.7 percent, the fourth straight solid month of income growth.

The spending performance was even weaker when the effects of higher gasoline prices were removed. After adjusting for price increases, consumer spending actually fell by 0.2 percent in March, the poorest showing since the fall of 2005 when the economy was suffering the aftershocks of Hurricane Katrina.

The weaker-than-expected performance in consumer spending was certain to add to worries that the economy could be in danger of stalling out if consumer confidence falters in the face or rising gasoline prices and a slumping housing market.

Hubris and Misplaced Loyalty

Add sheer stupidity to the many reasons why Condoleezza Rice is a gigantic failure.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not raise questions when the administration marched towards war in Iraq during the first term of President George Bush because of her loyalty to the President, a new book says.

“Rice tended to enable the president’s missteps rather than check them. The basis of the relationship had been formed in the (election) campaign: she molded his instincts, she didn’t challenge them. So as the administration marched toward war in Iraq, she didn’t push back,” says Newsweek’s Marcus Mabry in yet to be released biography of Rice, the National Security Adviser during the US military operation in Iraq.

Even Rice’s friends, most of whom happen to be Democrats, say her affection for Bush blinded her to his failings. “She thought he could do no wrong,” said one, the book says.

“She didn’t question troop levels or the Defense Department’s rosy post-Saddam scenarios. She didn’t demand the administration devise a single, unified plan after Saddam’s statue fell,” says Mabry.

[snip]

In addition, the author says, Rice’s own overconfidence, the same self-assuredness that allowed her to stand in front of the White House as a little girl from segregated Birmingham, and say, “some day, I’ll be in that house” facilitated many of the pre-war mistakes. “Condoleezza Rice had an absolute absence of self-doubt,” the author says.

All The Shiny Wore Off

John McCain’s dogged pursuit of ignominy continues.

Public perceptions of Arizona Senator John McCain (R) have declined in recent months. The man once seen as the dominant GOP frontrunner is now viewed favorably by just 49% of Likely Voters, unfavorably by 43%. Those numbers reflect a dramatic decline from earlier polling–last month he was viewed favorably by 55% and unfavorably by 39%

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Pony Blow Is Back

Q Where ya been? (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Just hanging out. Thank you so much, it’s great to be back.

Q We thought Rove double-deleted you. (Laughter.)

Pony Must Be Feeling Pretty Good As He Took A Shot AtTim Russert [scroll down] To Start Things Rolling

MR. SNOW: Okay, first, we can cut cameras now, because we have cut to the other portion of our thing.

As far as the Iran supplemental, we have not. So the real question —

Q Iraq.

MR. SNOW: I mean, the Iraq supplemental. Yes. The Iran supplemental would be entirely different. (Laughter.)

Q Did we leave the cameras on? (Laughter.)

Q How much is Iran — (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: As one famous host said, “I-r-a-k.”

Q Oooh!

Q Oh, we love that. (Laughter.)

Q Are we still rolling? (Laughter.)

Weenergate

Q Has the administration been notified of anyone else who might be resigning, relating to the D.C. madam?

MR. SNOW: Not that I’m aware of.

Q Does the President have any opinion on the departure of Randall Tobias?

MR. SNOW: Well, he’s saddened by it, but it was the appropriate thing to do.

[snip]

Q Just one quick one. You said — back to Randall Tobias. If, as he says, he just got massages, why is it the proper thing for him to do to resign?

MR. SNOW: Well, he apparently thought that it was the proper thing to do, and I will not get into details because I don’t know them. Whew! (Laughter.)

Continue reading

Condi for President!!!!

Not so much.

With a carefully orchestrated campaign by her advisers and media consultants, Condoleezza Rice was increasingly touted as a possible Republican Party presidential candidate for 2008. Certainly opinion polls in those heady months of 2005 showed that she was by far the most popular Administration official, with approval ratings close to 70 per cent and Republican activists urging her to run for president and launching “Condi for 2008” committees all over the country.

Less than two years later, there is no longer any talk among her erstwhile supporters of a presidential campaign. The Condi for president websites have been closed. The lavish media attention in the US and overseas has evaporated.

And, with George Bush, her mentor and friend under siege by a Democrat-controlled Congress determined to force him to change course on Iraq and set a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces, Condoleeza Rice is conspicuous by her absence from the debate, unable – or perhaps unwilling – to support this beleaguered and isolated president.

[snip]

Rice could argue of course that she is America’s top diplomat and that it is not her job to get involved in the increasingly bitter political fight between Bush and the Democratic party leadership in Congress.

But this is a lame excuse. There is general agreement – even Bush says so – that there can be no military victory in Iraq, that whatever can be achieved there now depends in large part on the ability of the Iraqi Government to deliver on the benchmarks it set for itself that might give it a chance to govern the country.

Where is Rice on this? Where is Rice on what she and her State Department officials are doing in Iraq to help and encourage the Iraqi Government come to key agreements on issues like the sharing of oil revenues and the place of the Sunni minority in this “new” Iraq?

Nowhere to be seen, is the answer. Late last week, when David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, was doing the rounds of Congress to plead with Democrats not to set a withdrawal timetable, he was accompanied by John Negroponte, the newly installed Deputy Secretary of State.

Negroponte was there to brief members of Congress on political progress in Iraq and to outline for them what the State Department was doing to facilitate that progress. Why wasn’t Rice there making that case and why has she not been making that case publicly?

The fact is that many State Department senior officials want nothing to do with Iraq. Many middle-level officers have resigned in the past year or so and it is known that postings to Iraq are considered a poison chalice. Perhaps that’s why Rice has remained silent.

The better explanation is that Rice’s silence is simply another illustration of the Bush Administration’s incompetence and inability to get beyond playing politics and doing spin to actually doing the hard work of implementing a coherent set of policies.

Boyfriend Trouble

Huh-oh.

In a serious rebuff to U.S. diplomacy, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has refused to receive Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the eve of a critical regional summit on the future of the war-ravaged country, Iraqi and other Arab officials said yesterday.

The Saudi leader’s decision reflects the growing tensions between the oil-rich regional giants, the deepening skepticism among Sunni leaders in the Middle East about Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, and Arab concern about the prospects of U.S. success in Iraq, the sources said. The Saudi snub also indicates that the Maliki government faces a creeping regional isolation unless it takes long-delayed actions, Arab officials warn.

For the United States, the Saudi cold shoulder undermines hopes of healing regional tensions between Sunni- and Shiite-dominated governments and producing a new spirit of cooperation on Iraq at the summit, to be held Thursday and Friday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the sources warn.

You blew it, Abdullah, you’ll never get to first base again.

Hat-tip to Attaturk.

Don’t Fix It

Because it isn’t broken, you morons:

The newspaper business has a simple model: charge advertisers for getting access to readers whom you attract with relevant content and cheap prices. That’s been a great model for a few centuries now, and it is far from dying. No reason to depart from it–and, in fact, that’s precisely the model Google (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ) is using to sweep a path of destruction through every advertising-supported media business there is (more on this momentarily). It’s the physical method that newspapers use to do this–what business types call the “form factor”–that’s the problem, the Achilles Heel of the industry’s current business model. Printing content and displaying ads on paper is going to go the way of the vinyl record and perhaps even the CD.

Here’s why. Traditional media sell advertisers a pig in a poke. Advertisers don’t know whether a reader actually looks at their ad much less buys anything as a result. And they can’t really target their ads beyond picking a type of newspaper and section to focus on in the hopes of reaching a particular demographic group.

Google and its ilk only charge advertisers when a viewer clicks on the very page containing their ad and perhaps, in the future, only when the viewer actually buys something. Plus, they can use all that information collected from past searches and other information they’ve gleaned about viewers to target ads with an increasing degree of accuracy. The technology is a different as a Schwinn one-speed bike is from a Porsche 911 turbo.

So, if anyone is going to save the newspaper industry, it isn’t any of the moguls who think they can breathe life into a dying technology. It is more likely to be someone like Steve Jobs who can devise a really appealing way to make newspapers available digitally.

Some of this I agree with, actually. If newspapers were interested in selling online intelligently they could come up with all kinds of ways to charge based on who clicks on a particular story or video or blog. However, most newspapers aren’t interested in selling online ads intelligently. Most newspapers do something like this:

1. Establish web site, usually mediocre but sometimes outright bad
2. Assign one ad rep to sell online part-time
3. Wait for profit
4. When profit does not come, fire ad rep
5. Wait for profit
6. When profit still does not come, blame the newsroom for not providing enough content, or the right kind of content, or something, and reshuffle editors
7. Wait for profit

So yeah, thinking about what you’re selling as part of how you’re selling it and working the actual problem instead of what you think is the problem is a major part of addressing the overall advertising decline.

What I disagree with, strenuously, is the idea that we need some kind of digital reader people can roll up and take with them on the train and that THAT is the answer. Look, I live in a commuter town. And I can tell you, increasingly, people commute from suburb to suburb, and to do so, they have to drive. And when you’re driving, if you’re a total moron you’ll read a paper or a digital thing like a paper in the car, but most often you’ll listen to the radio and if you really want news you’ll get it there or online when you get to work. As commute times lengthen, the amount of time you’ve got for breakfast shrinks and there’s not any more time to read the paper than there would be to read some roll-up computer screen thing.

Technology didn’t doom the newsaper business (it’s not even doomed, for fuck’s sake) and it’s not going to save it. Waiting for Steve Jobs to swoop in with a thingy you can use will not fix the underlying problem that newspaper companies are demanding too much money and too little thought from their employees, blaming the lowest-paid people for the mistakes of the highest-paid, and generally acting like it’s all the Intewebs’ fault when, bitch, please.

You can make up all the Jetsons-type fantasies you want about the shiny toys that are going to make our lives better. Until the underlying stupidity changes, nothing’s going to get better.

A.

Attempt to Imagine

The size of this story if it was a wealthy mother and her son in a tony northwest suburb.

A 1-year-old boy was in critical condition this morning after he and his mother were shot Saturday night on the South Side by a gunman who was targeting someone else.

The shooting occurred outside in the Englewood neighborhood in the 6400 block of South Hoyne Avenue around 9:40 p.m. Saturday when two men began arguing, said Police Officer Hector Alfaro.

One of the men pulled out a gun and began firing, striking the mother, 22, and her son, who were not with the two men but were on the sidewalk in the general vicinity, police said.

The infant was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where he was listed in critical condition, Alfaro said. The mother, who was in stable condition, was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The gunman was still at large this morning, Alfaro said, adding the shooting may have been gang-related.

Right now the top story in Chicago is that the weather is very nice, and the Bulls have managed to not suck it up entirely in the playoffs.

A.

Hockey

We haven’t had a lot of hockey posts this year, mostly because of the mediocrity tempered by the outright suck. But the women’s team deserves applause for a repeat, and I found this pretty cool:

Piskula’s debut makes him the 18th former Badger to skate in an NHL game this season. Others include Chicago’s Bourque, Edmonton’s Gilbert and Brad Winchester, Chicago’s Adam Burish, Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph and forward Steve Reinprecht, Toronto defenseman Andy Wozniewski, Ottawa’s Dany Heatley, Carolina’s David Tanabe, New York Islanders’ Sean Hill, Atlanta’s Scott Mellanby, New Jersey defensemen Brian Rafalski and Alex Brooks, Detroit’s Chris Chelios and Matt Hussey, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski and Nashville’s Ryan Suter. The 18 Badgers in the NHL this season is believed to be the most among all college hockey programs.

Reinprecht on skates was a thing of beauty at Wisconsin. I’m glad to see he’s getting valued elsewhere.

A.

Your President Speaks!

Today, at Camp David, during a mini-presser with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

The Interest of Maintaining Peace

Our talks were very relaxed, but they were strategic. We think about the interest of our country and we think about the interest of maintaining peace in the world.

Maybe Abe Will Puke On His Father

One such issue, of course, I brought up to the Prime Minister is I’m absolutely convinced the Japanese people will be better off when they eat American beef. It’s good beef, it’s healthy beef; as a matter of fact, I’m going to feed the Prime Minister and his delegation a good hamburger today for lunch.

I Look Forward To Welcoming Here

I hope he comes to my ranch soon. I looked forward to welcoming here to Camp David, but I also look forward to taking him down there — one might call it a little slice of heaven.

Department of Redundancy Department

In Iran, we speak with one voice to the regime in Iran.

There’s Always Complicated Trade Issues

Any time you have a lot of trade, there’s always complicated trade issues.

Drain Bamage

On all issues, there is a — whether it’s this issue or any other issue, is that we will work with our partners to determine how long.

Gotta Have Those Other Words

And so it is — he ought to know that if he makes right choices, there is a way for him to be able to deal with a listing that our government has placed on him; in other words, there’s a way forward.

Withdrawing Troops From Iraq Is Dangerous For The Troops

I think it — I’m just envisioning what it would be like to be a young soldier in the middle of Iraq and realizing that politicians have all of the sudden made military determinations. And in my judgment, that would put a kid in harm’s way, more so than he or she already is.

Side note: Although he was asked two direct questions about Kim Jong-il Chimpy refused to utter his name, referring to him as the “leader of North Korea” or the “Norht Korean leader” nine times.

Jeebus

Go read the lovely Maitri at VatulBlog and follow her link to the Cornell American.

The Cornell American has a history. Read a bit of it here.

I don’t know why they continue to get student funding.

I’m All About The Ponies

New Pew poll [pdf]:

Bush Job Approval

Approve: 35% (+2)
Disapprove: 58% (-1)

The Congress is now debating future funding for the war in Iraq. Would you like to see your Congressional representative vote FOR or AGAINST a bill that calls for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq to be completed by August of 2008?

Vote for withdrawl: 59%
Vote against withdrawl: 33%

Do you think the U.S. should keep military troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized, or do you think the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible?

Keep troops in Iraq: 41%
Bring them home: 53%

Do you think the war in Iraq has helped the war on terrorism, or has it hurt the war on terrorism?

Helped: 38%
Hurt: 44%

Do you think the U.S. should or should not set a timetable for when troops will be withdrawn from Iraq?

Should set a timetable: 56%
Should not set a timetable: 38%

Thank You to…

…MF

Img_0213

from Willie B

Targetting The Press

Bush started it, the troops simply followed his policy.

A judge indicted three U.S. soldiers Friday in the 2003 death of a Spanish journalist who was killed when their tank opened fire at a hotel in Baghdad.

[snip]

Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp were charged with homicide in the death of Jose Couso and “a crime against the international community.” This is defined under Spanish law as an indiscriminate or excessive attack against civilians during war.

Following the incident, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said the troops responded after drawing hostile fire from the hotel. He said a U.S. review of the incident found the use of force was justified.

According to the five-page indictment, de Camp ordered the shot, and Wolford then authorized Gibson to carry it out.

“The people indicted knew and were aware that the Palestine Hotel was occupied by civilians, without there being a proved threat (sniper or otherwise) against themselves or the U.S troops, therefore, the tank shot that caused the death of Mr. Couso would constitute an attack, retaliation, or violence threat or act aimed at terrifying journalists,” the indictment said.

Bush vows to Veto ANYTHING that waives 10% match requirement now impeding Gulf Coast Recovery

When I was down in New Orleans I gave a tour to a group of college kids who worked with the First Draft Krewe gutting a home. They were a public policy class from Elon University. So I was explaining to them how Bush refuses to waive the 10% match requirement and how this is a tremendous obstacle to the recovery of the Gulf Coast. (background here) So I swear, hand to God, when one student asked why Bush just won’t waive the requirement, I said “because he’s a dick.” It just slipped out and I felt a bit bad but it was immensely true. Evidence this…

The New Orleans City Business has an article on Louisiana’s effort to pressure Bush for the waiver. Though such a waiver is in the Iraq Supplemental bill which Bush will veto, we learn from the article that…

Bush also vows to veto any new funding or legislative attempt to waive the 10 percent match.


Here’s the White House justification…

The White House maintains $1 billion was provided
for the 10 percent match in the $10.4 billion in community development
block grants already awarded to Louisiana.

In other words Bush is saying give us back a billion of the aid we gave you and you’re good to go. Nice trick. But here is a major problem even with that…

Bush ignores a major problem with using CDBG funds for the 10 percent match, said Landrieu spokesman Adam Sharp.

“It ignores the greater paperwork issue,” Sharp said. “Right
now, each of the more than 20,000 public assistance projects require
two different sets of paperwork — one for (the Department of Housing
and Urban Development) to confirm that you are allowed to use CDBG
funds to pay the 10 percent, and one for FEMA to confirm that disaster
funds can be used for the other 90 percent. The paperwork can take
months, if not years, to complete, per project. The red tape alone is
enough to strangle recovery.”

Louisiana’s congressional delegation, Democrats AND Republicans alike, say they will continue to push for the waiver. Landrieu thinks the votes are there to over ride Bush’s vetoes …

“I feel confident because the Democratic Congress
is going to make sure that that happens even if the White House will
not,” she said. “He can veto it. If that ever happens, I think we’ll
have the votes to override him.”

So perhaps there is some hope of overcoming Bush’s dicktitude. Yeah I stand by my tour guide statement.

Where’s My Friggin’ Bush Boom?

The Gross Domestic Product increases at its lowest rate in four years.

Economic growth slowed to a near crawl of 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2007, the worst performance in four years. The main culprit: the housing slump.

The fresh reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, was even weaker than the 2.5 percent growth rate logged in the final three months of last year. The new figures underscored just how much momentum the economy has been losing as it copes with the strain of the troubled housing market, which has made some businesses more cautious in their spending.

The first-quarter GDP figure was the weakest since a 1.2 percent pace registered in the opening quarter of 2003.

[snip]

The performance was even weaker what economists expected; they had forecast a growth rate of 1.8 percent.