Monthly Archives: November 2007

Vote Of No Confidence

Huh-oh.

With Christmas only a month away, American consumers became more pessimistic about the economy in November, sending a widely watched barometer of confidence to the lowest level in two years amid worries about rising fuel costs and a housing market slump.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 87.3, marking a four-month slide and continuing down almost 8 points from the revised 95.2 in October.

It was the lowest reading since 85.2 in October 2005 when gas and oil prices soared after hurricanes flooded New Orleans and shut down a large chunk of the nation’s oil refineries. It also marked the sharpest drop since September 2005 when the index plummeted 18 points from the previous month. Analysts had expected a reading of 91.5 in November.

Pony Up!

NewPew Poll:

Bush Job Approval: 30% (unchanged from October, one point higher than his all-time Pew low).

Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

When WillDana Peroxide Simply State That Your President Is Not A Crook?

Q I have a question on executive action. This is specific to the Office of Government Ethics, and specifically, there’s a few provisions in here dealing with the disclosure of classified information to unauthorized persons, as well as making false statements about any knowledge of that. I’d like to know, since the President has authorized — and only the President is authorized to allow the disclosure of this information to unauthorized persons — why, when he became aware that this happened, did he not remove from office any members of the executive branch that either disclosed this information, or had knowledge that it happened?

MS. PERINO: Paula, we have gone through this so many times, I’m just — I don’t have anything to add to the public record.

Q Well, I just have to ask about the timing, because prior to the criminal investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald, the President said that anyone that was involved in the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Plame would not longer work for the White House. And it was only after that criminal investigation began that he changed the ground rules to anybody that commits a crime will no longer work for the White House.

MS. PERINO: Paula, the person who revealed her name has said so publicly, and that person did not work at the White House.

Q But there was also the person that told Scott McClellan that he was not involved. And he was.

MS. PERINO: Thank you.

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Happy Chris Dodd Photo: Geek Edition

I can’t fight this feeling anymore …

(Yes, I know, don’t get attached. But you know what? I’ve got a few more months in which Iowa hasn’t happened yet to love and adore him and I’m going to take advantage.)

Via C&L.

A.

Morning Links

The Guardian: “A woman with an artificial arm has been given the sense of touch following a pioneering operation to reroute some of her nerves.”

Dallas Morning News: Interesting — Mike Rawlings, former CEO of Pizza Hut and now the “homeless czar” of Dallas (a title he calls stupid) is working on the plan to end homelessness in Dallas.

New Orleans City Business: You may remember the story of Times Picayune photographer, John McCusker, who while distraught urged police to shoot him. An officer was injured in the incident. Now McCusker is set to go on trial December 13th. His lawyer hopes a resolution can be reached prior to that date and a trial avoided. I certainly hope that will be the case.More background here…McCusker had no memory of the incident.

Times Online: Emma Clarke the voice of the London Tube telling one to Mind the Gap has lost her contract “after she criticised the Underground system and spoofed her own
announcements on the internet.” Spoof examples at link. Clarke says she has been taken out of context–“What I did say was dreadful was the thought of being in
a Tube train listening to my own voice.” (I know I wouldn’t want to listen to my voice.) Hersite is presently down due to so much traffic but she says it will be up again in a day or so.

WISCTV.com: Tell me–is it a record? A LaCrosse WI doctor delivered 4 sets of twins in a 24 hour period during the Thanksgiving weekend. He also delivered another baby making it 9 and there were another set of twins born at the facility on Thanksgiving day.

Just Depressing

First, here is a line so grotesque in its nature and what it says of our nature that I want to weep…or vomit:

A number of hospice providers said ethical and legal constraints would
prevent them from discharging patients who outlived their
 profit
potential
.

That is from a NYT article on the “catastrophic financial consequence” to hospice care facilities of patients living longer than expected resulting in the “federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.”

The charges are assessed retrospectively, so in most cases the money
has long since been spent on salaries, medicine and supplies. After
absorbing huge assessments for several years, often by borrowing at
high rates, a number of hospice providers are bracing for a new round
that they fear may shut their doors.

One is Hometown Hospice,
which has been providing care here since 2003 to some of the most
destitute residents of Wilcox County, the poorest place in Alabama.

The
locally owned, for-profit agency, which serves about 60 patients,
mostly in their homes, had to repay the government $900,000, or 27
percent of its revenues, from its first two years of operation, said
Tanya O. Walker-Butts, a co-owner. Its profits were wiped out in the
time it took to open the demand letters, Ms. Walker-Butts said.

Hometown
paid its first assessment with a bank loan. When the bank declined
credit for the second year, the hospice structured a five-year payment
plan with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers the program, at 12.5 percent interest.

The next bill is expected any day.

“If they hit us with a number in the several hundred-thousand range, I
just don’t see how we can survive,” said Gaines C. McCorquodale,
Hometown’s other owner.

To read the rest

Two Words for You: Buh and Bye

Adios, Trent:

No reason for Lott’s resignation was given, but according to a congressional official, there is nothing amiss with Lott’s health. The senator has “other opportunities” he plans to pursue, the official said, without elaborating. Lott was re-elected to a fourth Senate term in 2006.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who helped broker a bipartisan immigration bill that went down to defeat this year despite President Bush’s support for it, will run to replace Lott as the Republicans’ vote-counting whip, said spokesman Ryan Patmintra.

Lott’s colleagues elected him as the Senate’s Republican whip last year, a redemption for the Mississippian after his ouster five years ago as the party’s Senate leader over remarks he made at retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Lott had saluted the South Carolina senator with comments later interpreted as support for southern segregationist policies.

Let’s not forget that this guy belongs to that celebrated class of dillweeds who long for the days when they didn’t actually have to achieve anything in order to lord themselves over others.

I hope his porch is okay.

Asshole.

A.

Had To: Galactica Thread

Jacob, from the recap of “Maelstrom:”

Guy gets on a train with a box, airholes in the side. The man he sits down next to asks him about it, and he admits that he’s got a mongoose in there. Dude B is like, “Not something normal, like a bunny or a cat?” No, there’s more to the story. “It’s because of my older brother. He’s a drunk, among other things, and at this point he’s just completely out of his tree. He sees serpents, everywhere. Everywhere he looks, he’s seeing these snakes and they make him terrified.” And Dude B is like, “So they’re imaginary?” Yeah. “So then why the mongoose?” And the first guy smiles and looks very meaningfully at the box, which is empty. “Imaginary mongoose.”

Spoilers for “Razor” underneath the cut.

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Homeland Security program using Firefighters to spy on citizens

FromGovExec.com:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Firefighters in major cities are being trained to
take on a new role as lookouts for terrorism, raising concerns of
eroding their standing as American icons and infringing on people’s
privacy.

Unlike police, firefighters and emergency medical
personnel don’t need warrants to access hundreds of thousands of homes
and buildings each year, putting them in a position to spot behavior
that could indicate terrorist activity or planning.

But there are
fears that they could lose the faith of a skeptical public by becoming
the eyes of the government, looking for suspicious items such as
building blueprints or bomb-making manuals or materials.

SNIP

The Homeland Security Department is testing a program with the New
York City fire department to share intelligence information so
firefighters are better prepared when they respond to emergency calls.
Homeland Security also trains the New York City fire service in how to
identify material or behavior that may indicate terrorist activities.
If it’s successful, the government intends to expand the program to
other major metropolitan areas.

As part of the program, which
started last December, Homeland Security gave secret clearances to nine
New York fire chiefs, according to reports obtained by The Associated
Press.

SNIP

When going to private residences, for example, they are told to be
alert for a person who is hostile, uncooperative or expressing hate or
discontent with the United States; unusual chemicals or other materials
that seem out of place; ammunition, firearms or weapons boxes;
surveillance equipment; still and video cameras; night-vision goggles;
maps, photos, blueprints; police manuals, training manuals, flight
manuals; and little or no furniture other than a bed or mattress.

The trial program with Homeland Security opens a clear
information-sharing channel – which did not exist before – between the
fire service and Homeland Security’s intelligence division.

C Ray Not Vote

Ray_nagin_2

Oh Man…

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin recently pronounced himself “disgusted”
with apathy among city residents, saying it was “unacceptable” that
only about a quarter of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot in
the Oct. 20 primary.

Turns out the mayor himself has skipped a few elections, according to state records.

Nagin didn’t cast a vote in the October primary, or in two previous
citywide elections in March and May, according to Secretary of State
Jay Dardenne’s office.

SNIP

“It was kind of offensive to me, because here I am bustin’ my butt
every day and all I’m asking citizens to do is to plug into the
democratic process,” Nagin said, exhorting his fellow New Orleanians to
do better on Nov. 17.

“Take 20 minutes of your time and decide,” he said. “Don’t just let this thing happen without you voicing your opinion.”

Well maybe he voted in suburbanDallas

The Australian Elections

Recapped by the Internets:

THIS IS DEMOCRACYYYYYYYYYY!!1!11!!!1!

Someone set up us the polls.

That’ll give you, er, voters.

Got ballots?

I’m in ur booth, electin’ ur candidates.

My candidates iz votede on yey.

The ballots, let me not show you them.

At PM 6:00, counting was beginning.

Do I even have to say it? Okay. Via Metaquotes.

A.

Thankful

So, what are you all cooking today?

A.

Saturday Blogwhoring Thread

Post yourselves.

A.

Belated Ferretblogging: Turkee Coma Edition

Between the turkey and the cognac, I was in no fit shape to post yesterday. Riot felt my pain:

A.

Mother Nature Cleans Up After Israeli War Criminals

Thanksmom.

The season’s first hailstorm Tuesday was a blessing in disguise for cluster bomb-infested parts of southern Lebanon, triggering blasts from previously unexploded bomblets. No injuries were reported.

After a long dry spell across Lebanon, hailstones as big as walnuts hit villages and struck undiscovered bomblets scattered across the landscape, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Dalya Farran, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center (MACC), confirmed that many cluster bombs exploded when they were hit by hailstones in villages near the town of Marjayoun.

More than 30 people have been killed by cluster bombs in southern Lebanon since last year’s war between Hezbollah and Israel.

The United Nations and human rights groups accuse Israel of dropping about 4 million cluster bomblets during the war. Up to 1 million failed to explode and now endanger civilians in the area.

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Helen Thomas Kicks Dana Peroxide’s Narrrow Ass

Q How many billions have we spent already for the Defense Department?

MS. PERINO: The Defense Department says that they need this funding in order to keep the war running, as well as to keep these civilians –

Q Maybe they don’t want the war to keep running.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that has been —

Q The country doesn’t want it —

MS. PERINO: I think that Americans have seen what our troops have been able to do this year, in trying — is starting to turn things around in Iraq. We’ve got a long way to go, but they have started to make some significant gains, and to pull the rug out from under them now seems to be — seems irresponsible.

Q To keep killing you mean.

MS. PERINO: Helen, every — the security situation in Baghdad is vastly improved, because of what our troops have been able to do, working alongside of the Iraqis. I can’t imagine that they would not want to fund these troops before they go home for Christmas. They have gone to Iraq, many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have gone to Iraq. They’ve seen for themselves what’s happening on the ground there. They’ve had briefings from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. They are working very hard to make sure that they — these trends that we’re starting to see can actually take hold and be cemented, and so that they can continue the progress —

Q More people are dying every day in Iraq.

MS. PERINO: There’s no doubt that there continues to be violence. But we do know that because of what we have been able to put in place as the result of the surge, we have less death, less violence, and we have some of troops starting to come home.

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Embarrassment Squick

Via the Crack Den, for the love of the baby Jesus on the Thanksgiving holiday:

Leave aside the cliches about Hillary Clinton. It is true that Republicans are willing — and have been willing for some time — to aggressively and unapologetically pursue policies even when they are unpopular. They know how to read polls as well as anyone else. They knew that most Americans were vigorously opposed to Clinton’s impeachment, but they pursued it to the bitter end anyway. And they know that the Iraq War is deeply unpopular with Americans, and that George Bush is even more unpopular, but they stand by both of them anyway.

They don’t have hordes of frightened Joe Kleins constantly fretting in their ears that they better not take any unpopular positions otherwise liberal activists will say mean things about them and they will lose. Republicans have calculated — correctly — that Americans have greater respect for a political party that is perceived to stand steadfastly for its convictions (even when unpopular) than to be perceived as politically afraid to state what it is that it even believes.

I’m going to put this a little more baldly than Greenwald did.

When you roll over for a bully, day after day after day, change your positions based on what people like Klein and fucking Shrum and all these other Beltway dickheads say, promise things and then back down, say harsh stuff and then apologize, take a stand and then forget about it, you look like a pussy.

And people don’t like voting for pussies.

More than that, they don’t like voting for people who make them embarrassed. You all know what an embarrassment squick is, right? It’s why I can’t watch Ricky Gervais’s original version of The Office, or Charlie Kauffman movies, or Jerry Seinfeld, or those silly home video shows of kids falling off bikes or doughy guys getting hit in the balls. I don’t … it’s just …ugh. It’s the feeling you get when watching uncomfortable people being stupid, and sticky, and … it’s like this in politics, every day, with Klein and his ilk. They are advising a course of action that sets off everybody’s embarrassment squick, and nobody’s gonna vote for the guy who, you watch and it’s like your baseball team’s getthing whomped. You’re up in the stands, having your tenth beer in an hour, pulling your hat down over your face and hoping nobody is looking at you. Or your team. You don’t even want to be there because the yuck might rub off on you.

Is that dumb and irrational? Sure. We’re talking about perception and strategy here, so it’s dumb and irrational. But Democrats won in 2006 by acting like they didn’t give a fuck what Republicans thought, they were gonna fix the mess we’re in, and everybody was happy, and they felt like winners, and people like winning because the parties are better, and so on and so on. I don’t know what it will take for them to act like that again. A veto-proof majority? A Democratic president? Both? The sudden and unexplained silence of every pundit everywhere? A memory transfusion? I really don’t know what it’s going to take but I can tell you for damn sure going back to the glory days of 2002 is not the answer here.

What Klein is advising is lunacy, and what’s more lunatic, plenty of people who should tell him to fuck himself are going to read that and think, “You know, the solution to my looking like a feckless moron is to change my mind again and go along with whatever somebody else wants.” It sets off my embarrassment squick, just thinking about that.

A.