Friday, September 30, 2005

Couple More Links

These are intended to amuse you only. This first one is an edited version of a State of the Union speech in which Preznit Bullhorn is made to seem as if he supports terrorism (wait -- you mean he doesn't?!?); the second is an imagining of what a GOP ad might look like if Jesus were running against a Republican for office. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Out on the Links

Slow day here at work, so I've had some time to surf the internets for a bit. Before I take off my wetsuit let me pass along a few things I came across that might interest some of you out there in Generik Brandland...

Here's a great compendium of videos including recent commentary from Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher and more; also plenty of footage of Preznit Foot In Mouth and his minions. It's Ruminations for the Easily Amused Where Distractions Are Always Welcome. Be sure to view the one titled DC Confidential.

Speaking of videos, how about viewing one of Tom DeLay incriminating himself? That ought to be worth the price of admission and then some.

And from Freedom Underground, via mrgumby2u at itlookslikethis comes this chilling video about the 9/11 Pentagon crash that will give all the conspiracy theorists out there some real grist for the mill. Yikes!

For an audio clip, how about one letting us all know that Bill Bennett doesn't care about black people?

Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

Nice, Bill. Care to go double or nothing on that assertion?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, doesn't care about gay people. That's okay, it looks like fewer and fewer people care about him. Go back to Hollywood, you groping, right-wing hack.

The SF Chronicle's Joan Ryan has some choice words for the IDiots out in Dover, Pennsylvania. Gee, she sounds a lot like me!

Juan Cole, also sounding a theme that I've been pounding lately, has some very interesting things to say in the current (membership or ad-watching required) about the current crop of calcium- and testosterone-challenged Democrats.

Behind the scenes, many representatives and senators are still furious about having been lied to and misled. They should put aside their fear of looking like dupes (most Americans were duped) and be frank with the American people. They should put the blame on Bush for hyping unreliable intelligence (intelligence which his administration drummed up) and point to his having been the dupe of ambitious Iraqi expatriates such as Ahmad Chalabi (now enjoying cushy offices in Baghdad as vice premier while Americans are taxed to pay for his rise to power).


Even Democrats who are not veterans of Iraq need to find the courage to speak out on the war if they are effectively to challenge the Republicans. Simply waiting around for things to get worse in Baghdad is a dangerous strategy, not so much because the situation is likely to improve any time soon but because the American people want real leadership on this issue and they know they are not getting it from Bush.

To illustrate just how far out of touch the Democrats are these days, here's the breakdown of the half-and-half vote on the John Roberts confirmation:

Democrats who voted in favor of confirmation: Baucus, Bingaman, Byrd, Carper, Conrad, Dodd, Dorgan, Feingold, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Murray, Nelson, Nelson, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar and Wyden.

Democrats who voted against confirmation: Akaka, Bayh, Biden, Boxer, Cantwell, Clinton, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feinstein, Harkin, Inouye, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Mikulski, Obama, Reed, Reid, Sarbanes, Schumer and Stabenow.

Finally, at the same time that the Army announces that it is closing the investigation into the website that allows US soldiers to exchange blood-porn for nekkid-porn (, reported on here in August), a judge has ordered that the Pentagon release more images from Abu Ghraib that are bound to disturb the average American, incite the average Muslim and give all the pilonadil cysted-Limbaugh Legionaires woodies for days.

Surf's up!

Thanks from the Yellow Dog

Bob Geiger has put up a brief post about how much he enjoyed his evening in San Francisco meeting with the Drinking Liberally group and the various bloggers who showed up Tuesday night at Zeitgeist. Check it out -- and check out the rest of his site as well! Plenty of good stuff there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Can't We All Just Get Along and Evolve?

The dumbing-down of America continues at a rapid pace. It seems that the stupid-ass Creationists "Intelligent Design" people are at it again -- a school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, is rightfully being sued by eight parents for voting to include the teaching of ridiculous creation myths "intelligent design" in the schools' science classes. Jeebus H. Criminey, won't these people ever give up? They've got God in the Pledge of Allegiance (for now) and on our coins and dollar bills, but they want it all -- prayer and religious instruction in the schools, the Ten Commandments posted in the courts, and full-blown theocracy in the White House. The Pledge is probably still safe for them, what with the current and future makeup of the Supreme Court, and virtually no one is challenging the phrase "In God We Trust" on our money. Perhaps they're coming close to having that last wish become reality, too, given the pandering that Sanctimonious George does to his religious nutball evangelical base.

It's actually understandable why the Religious Right and complicit Republicans would allow a good portion of the nation's children (just not their own, if they can help it) to sink into the morass of ignorance, superstition and stupidity -- it's been demonstrated time and again that the more education a person has, the more likely he or she is to vote Democratic. So why wouldn't they set up and try to keep in place an educational system that questions basic science, that introduces religious dogma into classrooms, that discourages critical thinking? It's to their advantage to have a nation full of people too dumb to know the difference between science and hocus-pocus, between fact and fiction, between real leaders and miserable failures.

But really -- "intelligent design"? It's not science, not even close. There's no real debate, no raging controversy in the scientific community over whether evolution or the Christian creation myth is the explanation of how we became what we are today on this planet. All it really is is folks who are too stupid to understand the science behind evolution saying, "Golll-lleee, I don't get that there ee-voe-looshun stuff, so it must be magic!" What a bunch of macaroons.

For a real laugh on the subject, though, check out a website by, for and about the people who think science and evolution are just Satan's board games. Visit a world where the Earth is only 6,000 years old, where Adam and Eve (and a whole lot of other early people) were giants (!!), where Noah's Ark is absolutely real and where "Nature is too intelligent, precise, coordinated and complex to have evolved." It's Bibleland!

Look, neither Creationism or Evolution has all the answers but evolutionists believe their case is so airtight that you rarely get to see both sides considered side by side with equality. As one evolutionist said in May 3rd 2005 article in the USA Today “ To debate Evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round.” With that kind of limiting mindset we would have never progressed out of the Stone Age if there was one.

Remember, you can't spell "idiot" without "ID."

A Link Forgotten

I meant to include a link to Jon Carroll's Tuesday SF Chronicle column about his dissatisfaction with the Democratic party these days in my earlier post, but it somehow slipped away. Here's the link and a brief quote:

The party of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson is back on its heels. It is reacting rather than acting. It is getting sucked into pointless debates. It is providing zero leadership. Some individuals within the party are trying -- hello, John Edwards -- but there's no vision."

Check it out, folks, and then let's do something about it.

More About Democrats and Alcohol and Stuff

Getting back to the discussion on modern-day Democrats that could use some talking-to (after that gleeful interlude over Tom DeLay's legal pickle, heh), I'd like to urge everyone to check out Dr. Laniac's excellent graph charting the voting records of our representatives in Washington and separating the Blue Dogs from the True Blue Dems. This is a very useful tool to illustrate just how far some of the folks in DC have strayed from party ideals and wandered into the Republican front yard to munch on the grass and maybe pee on a tree or two. (Actually, carrying that metaphor farther than it should ever have gone, maybe if some of those same Blue Dogs had peed on a Bush a few times, we'd be more enthusiastic about supporting them in the future.)

And speaking of Dr. Laniac and dogs of color, I had a chance last night to converse with both the good doctor and Bob Geiger of the Yellow Dog Blog, who was in town from New York and attending the weekly meeting of Drinking Liberally. We had a good discussion about the state of politics today and potential ways to light a fire under the current crop of spinally- and testicularly-challenged Democrats, who should be increasingly on the attack right now with Bushco and its supporters reeling and/or getting indicted. The meet-up was at San Francisco watering hole Zeitgeist, which, appropriately enough, has been graced by a billboard that was recently altered to reflect an extremely apt political view. Also in attendance were fellow Bay Area bloggers Paperwight, Simbaud from The King of Zembla and the newly-resurgent qubit of The Token Reader. Scaramouche, who had said he would be there, was, unfortunately, feeling under the weather, and so missed out on meeting a lot of interesting people and a whole lot of free-flowing beer. Not to mention the round of Manhattans that always show up mysteriously when the King arrives.

One topic of discussion was the formation of a new group blog devoted to local, Northern California politics. As of now, there appears to be a dearth of sites devoted to the goings-on of the upper half of the Golden State, and we'd like to rectify that situation. I'll post more about it once the plans become more concrete. Look for it soon on an internet near you!


Bug-killer Tom DeLay's days as House Majority Leader appear to be over. Today he was indicted for criminal conspiracy, and all I can say is it's about goddamn time. That arrogant bastard has had his way with the federal government ("I am the federal government!" he once declared) for far too long. Coming on the heels of Jack Abramoff's legal troubles, it would appear that the long arm of the law is finally -- finally! -- reaching out and touching this corrupt gang of crooks and liars. Can Karl Rove and Dick Cheney be far behind?

***This post has been edited to correct the mistakes pointed out to me by my faithful readers in the comments section. I was apparently too giddy to get my facts completely straight when I first wrote this, but I believe the record has now been set straight. The Generik Brand regrets the errors.***

Monday, September 26, 2005

Taking It to the Dems

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow has a couple of good posts about the failure of Democrats to step up to the plate and swing for the fences lately. This is getting more and more frustrating to a lot of us in the progressive world. We realize that shouting at Republicans and pointing out how wrong they are in matters of policy is much like trying to eat applesauce with chopsticks -- theoretically possible, and kind of sweet at first, but difficult, messy and ultimately doomed to failure most of the time. We shouldn't have to keep applying swift kicks to the seat of the Democratic party to get it to listen to us.

The premise alluded to there is echoed in a post that Peter Daou of The Daou Report wrote last week (and that I kept meaning to link to, but never got around to it). Daou wonders how influential bloggers (and, by inference, other progressive activists) are on the Democratic party as a whole. His answer: not so much. We're looked at as mainly a new source of income for incumbents and Dem challengers, but our ideas are, in many cases, far too radical for the triangulating DLC Republican-Lite hacks to ever give more than lip service to (and often not even that). His ultimate point is that what we in the left of center blogosphere need to do is less shrill criticizing of Republicans and the current administration (though dog knows they deserve every word of it and then some) and more lighting of fires underneath the complacent, moving-to-the-center Dems who are supposedly our champions and representatives. It seems to me that support for the war in Iraq is the perfect place to start. Democrats who still are in favor of Bush's Blunder should just step aside -- now -- and make way for candidates who will express the will of the people and demand that we start bringing the troops home as soon as possible. Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, all of you Dems who waffle and equivocate and worry that you won't look patriotic enough if you tell the fucking truth about the war -- get ready to lose your jobs in the next couple years. And deservedly so.


Our good friend Fred passes along this interesting link regarding the coinage of a new word that all lefty bloggers and progressives everywhere should strive to introduce into the political lexicon soon:

Rovenge (rO-'venj), n: Politically motivated retribution. The White House sought rovenge against Joseph Wilson.

There are a number of other words and phrases there to stimulate your brains (mostly in the comments section). For instance, you can find out there what a "white crayon" is. Check it out, language lovers.

The Power of Numbers

Protesters on the streets of San Francisco, Saturday, September 24th.

It would seem that we have numbers on our side these days. While the march in SF drew anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 people, estimates of the Washington, DC rally ranged from 100,000 to three times that many. Meanwhile, in SF, a measly half-dozen supporters of the war could find the time and courage to come out and make their voices heard. On Sunday in Washington, a crowd of counter-protesters that was expected by organizers to number up to 10,000 people or more actually turned out some 400 folks who still believe that we are doing the right thing in Iraq.

Now math was never my strongest subject, but it seems to me that, even going by the most conservative estimates, the anti-war crowd has far outnumbered the pro-war group. Wonder if that means anything to the powers that be, or to waffling Democrats still afraid to come out against Chicken George's Folly.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The People, United

Along with many thousands of others in Washington DC, Seattle, Los Angeles and elsewhere, I spent a good portion of Saturday marching with a huge outpouring of people who seem to have a renewed sense of purpose about bringing American troops home from Iraq. Crowd estimates ranged from 20,000 to 50,000. Not being an expert in nose-counting, I hesitate to say how close either of those figures is to being accurate, but I can say without qustion that this particular march was the biggest I've seen since before the war started in 2003.

Maybe it's Cindy Sheehan. Maybe it's the escalation of violence in Iraq, the nearly 2000 dead Americans since the start of combat operations, the absence of anything resembling an exit strategy there. Maybe it's the frustration people are feeling after seeing the administration go stumbling and clueless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the realization that the folks who are supposed to be in charge are largely clueless, incompetent ideological fuckwads. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that millions of people in this country are now against the war, don't approve of the way Preznit AWOL is conducting it and want the troops to come home as soon as possible.

The march started at Dolores Park, wound its way up along Dolores and Church Streets to Market, then up Van Ness and west on Turk to Jefferson Square. Because I had foolishly forgotten my camera when I started at Dolores Park, I was glad that the parade route ran close enough to my apartment that I could walk there and retrieve it while the majority of the people marching were still on the move. These are just some of the pictures I took once I got back, though I never did get an angle to show the sheer size of the group participating. You can see the "official" SF Chronicle images here (and there are some very good shots there, better than any of mine), or you can see more of my shots at this site.

Some of the signs were quite clever, ranging from slogans such as "Wake Up and Smell the Fascism" and "Make Levees, Not War" to "Moron with a War On" and, in a nod to local politics and the unnecessary special election about to happen here in California this November (thanks to our idiot acting governor), "Don't Let Arnold Proposition You!" A number of them chided Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for their continued support of the war, which I thought was both appropriate and something that politicians who are ostensibly on our side of the fence ought to be paying careful attention to right now and in the days to come.

There was a very small contingent of 101st Fighting Keyboarders there, about a half dozen young, white, belligerent twenty-somethings waving flags and signs and calling us all traitors and worse. Of course none of them had an answer to the question of why, if they are so supportive of the Bush agenda in general and the war in Iraq in particular, they aren't over there themselves, but that's to be expected. Hypocrisy runs rampant in that crowd, and, just like their heroes Chicken George and Other Priorities Dick, they all seem to find it much easier to swagger and rattle their sabers when it's other peoples' lives that are on the line. "Bring 'em on," indeed. Just as long as others are there to do the fighting, that is.

Unlike these chickenhawk hypocrites, though, there was at least one Republican with a sense of intelligence and moral values marching with us. This fellow, more than anyone else there, represented to me the sea change this country has undergone over the past year when it comes to support for the war. It's folks like this man and so many others -- soccer moms, blue collar workers, business people -- mainstream Americans, in other words -- that the Bush maladministration needs to worry about losing. He never had people like me on his side; but he certainly had the support of a lot of people like this guy over the past five years. That's changing, and changing quickly.

After the rally continued for a while at Jefferson Square, and the speeches began to get more and more strident (I generally take off when it gets to the point of speakers exhorting the crowd to solidarize with the Eritrean workers, or something equivalent), I headed over to Civic Center to catch the end of the Loveparade. It seemed a lot of other marchers had the same idea, as the ranks of the techno-dancers swelled considerably as the day went on and the protest wound down. The Loveparade had come down Market Street from the Embarcadero (the opposite end of the street from where we had marched) and then set up their floats of DJs spinning loud, pounding, bass-heavy dance music in a big circle around the Civic Center lawn in what was essentially a gigantic daytime rave. Half the people looked like they had just come there straight from Burning Man. It actually seemed like a fitting end to a perfectly San Francisco day.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Media Catches Up

It would appear that some in the media (also here) are just now learning about the Iraq War Porn site that we commented on a few weeks ago. Despite what some people may say about this just being a "boys will be boys" kind of site, we still maintain that it is illustrative in the most graphic, stomach-turning way of just what war does to people; and, more specifically, just what Preznit Jack and Coke's illegal, ham-fisted invasion of Iraq has wrought.

Not that your friend and host Generik has any illusions about being an actual journalist, mind you (we gave those dreams up back in high school), but it does seem a bit strange that the information about this site is only now getting out to the so-called mainstream press.

This is why it pays to check out your favorite blogs on a regular basis and not rely solely on the Fourth Estate to bring you information about the world around you. Because, as our pal Victor Shystee once said, "What if you're a journalist and you're full of shit?"


Returning to the scene of the original crime last night, Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill on College Avenue in Oakland (hard by the border of the People's Free Republic of Berkeley), the ever-shifting group of Bay Area Bloggers And Readers gathered once again last night, and a good time was had by all. At least, all of me had a good time.

Attending were many of the usual suspects: Scaramouche, Victor Shystee, fyrste from suckful, Paperwight, mrgumby2u from itlookslikethis, Dr. Laniac and the King of Zembla. There were also some new faces, which is always good to see. For instance, The Editors (along with his lovely pal Claudia) from The Poor Man made his first appearance at one of our events, and glad we were to meet him. Anyone who will publicly say that Arnold Schwarzenegger should "eat a bowl of dicks" is aces in our book. Check out his site today for a great story on Bush's re-boozing ways. Another new face was award-winning author Brian from 1000 Buffalo Stampede. Great to meet him as well.

But the pleasant surprise of the night was seeing our long-lost Prodigal Blogger qubit, formerly our Token Reader, then author of The Token Reader blog before it went dark (it's now come Lazarus-like back to life, hurray!), looking just like Scaramouche's son. It was so good to see him we almost forgot about how much we missed Chuck from Belisarius Blogs, Angie from Ang's Weird Ideas, Mags from You Forgot Poland! (who was in Hawai'i, so we totally understand), Drew from Scamboogah!! (who has now not made it to the past two gatherings, and we wonder just what kind of barrespondent misses out on a chance to drink?) and Hal from Hellblazer. John from Blogenlust also had no luck in finding a cheap flight from New York on short notice and so was absent, and more's the pity. And the rumors that Pete from The Dark Window (which, unfortunately, remains dark) and Spicy Tomato Jessica might show up remained just that -- rumors.

Still, a wild and wooly and extremely enjoyable gathering, yes sir, E. Bob. You shoulda been there. If you missed it, remember that there's a chance to meet up with some of us this coming Tuesday (9/27) at Zeitgeist on Valencia at 14th in San Francisco. We'll be joining the Drinking Liberally crowd along with special guest Bob Geiger from the Yellow Dog Blog. I'll be there, and if you show up -- yes, you -- I'll be sure to buy you a beer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Lucky Me, I Hit the Trifecta!"

I've been saying for a long time now that the reason Republicans haven't been squawking about their main man Dubya's profligate ways is that it will eventually give them an excuse to cut the hearts out of numerous social programs that they've always hated. Naturally, they won't consider rolling back any tax cuts for the wealthy or cancelling any pork-built bridges for no one or cutting back on the billions wasted in corporate welfare or uncollected from American companies with sham offices in the Bahamas.

But with the war in Iraq literally bleeding billions and the toll for Katrina-related damage yet to be determined (but certainly in the tens or hundreds of billions, not to mention what Rita will add to that), it looks like the Grover Norquists of the country are about to realize their fondest dreams. From Salon's War Room comes this report, and tell me, is anyone out there really surprised at this? Anyone? Bueller...?

The Republicans would freeze funding for the Peace Corps, the Global AIDS Initiative, U.N. peacekeeping operations and a wide variety of third-world development programs; eliminate the EnergyStar program, eliminate grants to states and local communities for energy conservation, reduce federal subsidies for Amtrak, eliminate funding for new light-rail programs and cancel the president's hydrogen fuel initiative; eliminate state grants for safe and drug-free schools because "studies show that schools are among the safest places in the country and relatively drug free"; and eliminate the teen funding portion of Title X, which provides "free and reduced-price contraceptives, including the IUD, the injection drug Depo-Provera, and the morning-after pill" to poor teenagers.

Along the way, they'd find a way to punish -- or simply eliminate -- some of their enemies, real and imagined. They'd cut funding for the District of Columbia, eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, eliminate subsidized student loans for graduate students, terminate the Legal Services Corporation, eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and kill the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Of course, you can't balance the budget on the backs of PBS viewers, grad students and other outside-the-mainstream liberals alone. So the Republican plan also calls for "rational reforms to Defense and Homeland Security." Does this mean cutting weapons systems at the expense of big defense corporations? Well, no. But it does mean closing schools for the children of soldiers, cutting grants for local responders and offering National Guard members the "option" to purchase a less comprehensive healthcare plan.

These people make me ill. Is there a way to impeach the whole damn government?

Test Your Political Persuasion

Here's a fairly interesting test to determine where you stand in the political spectrum. No surprise in this quarter, I rated out as a "Socialist" according to the testing parameters. (Social Liberal 80% permissive, Economic Liberal 3% permissive.) Where are you on the grid?

While I find this sort of thing rather amusing, I wonder what it really says about the state of politics in this country. Thanks in part to the Reagan Revolution, the Gingrich Contract with America, the rise of Limbaugh-esque right wing talk radio and the Christian Coalition and their ilk, this country has skewed awfully hard right over the past 20 years or so. In this wacky climate, where positions that were once considered only the province of lunatic fringe, John Birch Society-types are now mainstream, it's not hard to imagine that even moderately left-wing folks are considered "socialists." When right-wing pundits like lesser-light Debra J. Saunders refers to the Clintons as "ultra-liberals," what is she really saying? She's inadvertently admitting that the national dialogue is now weighted so heavily in the favor of extremist Republicans that millions of otherwise intelligent people will see that phrase and, without even questioning it, nod in agreement.

(But really -- "ultra-liberal"? Defense of Marriage, NAFTA, Welfare Reform, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, continuing support for the Iraq war... these are not even moderately liberal positions, much less "ultra-liberal." It's the same mindset that blithely assumes that the media is controlled by "liberal" forces, when the reality of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and even the New York Times -- which blatantly beat the drums for the administration's plan to invade Iraq -- easily puts the lie to that canard.)

The good news about our current ship of state listing so hard a-starboard is that the pendulum always, always swings back in the other direction eventually. Some folks think that liberalism is dead as a force in this country; those people obviously have short attention spans, and don't know much about history.

(Many thanks to my pal FryGirl for pointing me in the direction of that test.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cindy vs. Hillary

Anti-war activist and slain soldier's mom Cindy Sheehan has had some harsh words lately not only for Preznit Jingo and his Flying Monkey Circus, but for Hillary Clinton and other war-supporting Democrats as well. (Also look here.) I say good for her for speaking out, and I applaud her for taking it to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Those of us who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning have found ourselves vindicated in our position, what with the lack of WMD there, the fierce opposition to our presence that continues and gets more violent by the day and the growing realization on the part of the American public that we were lied to in the first place and that the Bushists have no viable exit strategy. I said at the time that it was a mistake for Democrats to cravenly cede the power to make war to a chief executive with no clue what war is really about, and that it was only done as a blatant CYA tactic by politicians afraid of being tarred with the "not patriotic" brush. For those who voted in favor of going to war -- like Hillary, like Joe Lieberman, like far too many other Democrats -- to still be talking about how it was the right thing to do (or, just as bad, to remain silent on the issue) in the face of mounting evidence that it was exactly the wrong thing to do is unconscionable. The people in this country are out in front on the issue -- they know that we're in a big mess over there and that it needs to end. All the Democrats (hell, all the Republicans, too, though that will never happen) who voted for the war should come out publicly and admit that they made a mistake, that they were misled, that they were simply trying to support the troops, whatever the case may be, but that they now realize that it was the wrong thing to do and that we need to find a way to get out and get out soon. Like now.

You go, Cindy.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Avast, ye scurvy swabbies, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day today! Say "Arrr!" or ye'll be walkin' the plank, matey.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Calling Bullshit

In the continuing Generik Brand series of pimping SF Chronicle writers (speaking of which, check out Jon Carroll's second column regarding Pluto and Pomona and other things celestial), I'd like to recommend Steven Winn's recent article about Professor Harry G. Frankfurt's book, On Bullshit. It seems that lately we're surrounded by bullshit, from the White House and its cadre of obfuscators and prevaricators on down through the Swift Boat Liars, the Fightin' 101st Keyboarders, the Freepers and Little Green Footballers to the lowliest right-wing talk radio dittoheads and mindless defenders of Preznit Bring 'Em On. Bullshit is everywhere you look, everywhere you turn these days, making it very hard for people who aren't paying close attention to know what's true and what isn't.

Winn puts it thusly:

Frankfurt's thesis turns on the crucial distinction he draws between outright lies and b.s. The former, as he says, are conscious and calculated responses to the truth. When people lie, they acknowledge but "reject the authority of truth." B.s., by contrast, is motivated by a desire to wheedle or impress, to sell an image or maintain a mask of competency or control. B.s. may or may not be true, partially true or altogether false. The point is, it doesn't matter to the b.s.-er.

"He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly," Frankfurt writes. "He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose." B.s., Frankfurt continues a few pages on, "is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

That, in this philosopher's nutshell, may capture as well as anything the current sense of distress many people feel these days. As the Iraq mess and woeful response to Hurricane Katrina continue to gnaw away at out collective confidence, there's a growing sense of a White House up to the chair rails in its own b.s. Bad as it is to think of a government brazenly lying, there's something more insidious about one that seems downright indifferent to the truth, however it happens to fall.

It's that old "reality-based community" vs. the Bush administration conundrum: The truth is whatever the Bushists say it is. In the world of the right-winger, the reality of situations like the slow federal response to Katrina or the ongoing debacle in Iraq is immaterial; what matters is what spin is put on them by the people they trust, i.e., Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and the rest of that factually-challenged pack of hate-mongers. Thus, Cindy Sheehan becomes a "provider of aid and comfort to the enemy," and the Hurricane Katrina victims become "entitlist refugees," (from an email sent to me by a Republican friend) and "ungrateful for the help they've been given."

Because it's been so accepted for a number of years now, ordinary folks like our friend Lanz feel perfectly justified in spewing out whatever distortions or fantasies they can imagine to support their arguments without ever expecting to be called on their bullshit.

Winn, again:

As the Iraq war rationale shifted from weapons of mass destruction to the broader battle against terror, the narrower one of ousting Saddam Hussein and the quixotic one of spreading democracy dominoes across the Middle East, the reality of what was happening in the war zone, in the Muslim world and in the American state of mind has seemed increasingly distant from the presidential sense of purpose. The appalling performance in the face of Katrina's wrath -- from George W. Bush's belated, tone-deaf cheerleading to the amazing revelation that no one in the administration seemed to know about the widely televised nightmare at the New Orleans Convention Center -- confirms the point. Tuesday's "I take responsibility" speech was patent damage control for a president in a ratings meltdown. Bush's fabled incuriosity about the world has become a defining mode of governance. The truth isn't the enemy; it's just an irrelevant distraction to staying on an upbeat message.

There is no ultimate truth in the winger world, just as there is no ultimate accountability in the Bush administration. Attempting to call these people on their bullshit elicits not explanations or apologies, but surprise and dismay that their credibility could possibly be called into question -- and often, especially in the case of the current administration, an overt campaign of ugly lies and smears directed at the person who called bullshit in the first place.

When, in the comments section to an earlier post, I told Lanz that his credibility was now suspect in this space after he blatantly lied about me, he whined about not being afforded any of "that famous liberal tolerance and inclusion." Apparently in the winger world, you can read "liberal tolerance and inclusion" this way: "Well, gee, Alan Colmes always bends over for Sean and hands him the Vaseline without complaining, why aren't you giving me the same courtesy?" We're expected to just take it, to just roll over and allow these liars and bullshitters to say whatever they please about us and about current events without regard to what the truth of the situation might be.

Here at the Generik Brand, we don't go for that kind of turn-the-other-cheek behavior.

And I don't mean to keep singling out Lanz because he's a particulary unique or egregious example of this right-wing propensity for bullshitting, but rather because he's all too representative of the typical modern-day so-called conservative. There are thousands, millions of Lanzes out there, all of them taking their cues from a president who doesn't know or care what the truth is, but rather believes that the truth is whatever he wants it to be; and if that changes from day to day, well, so be it. These people live in their own carefully-constructed fantasy worlds, where a dim-bulb chickenhawk AWOL bully is a "man of courage and honor," and where all blame for the woes of our society can be laid at the feet of welfare recipients, war protesters, liberalism and Bill Clinton.

Now that's bullshit.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Planet Pomona

Above, Mrs. Generik points out the sign of the Pomona Market in Prague. In the window display behind her is enough absinthe to fuel three 19th century Impressionist painters for at least a week.

SF Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll wrote an interesting piece a couple days ago about how we're going to lose Pluto, the planet we've all come to know and love as the outermost outpost of our nine-planet solar system. It seems that Pluto just doesn't measure up, planet-size wise, and there are actually bigger objects beyond it in what's known as the Kuiper Belt. Some of those planet-like objects even have names now, thanks to astronomers with powerful telescopes and the propensity to hand out appellations to any and every celestial object they spot. Therein lies the segment of the column that I found most interesting. Mr. Carroll pointed out that the existing planets in the solar system have been named mainly after Roman gods -- Neptune, Jupiter, Mars, etc. -- but that these newly discovered planets are getting names like Xena, Santa and Easterbunny. Okay, Xena has a certain timeless, Roman-esque quality to it, and hey, who am I to argue with lesbian warrior chic? Santa brings its own baggage to mind (one filled with toys for the good little girls and boys, you would hope), a planet covered in snow and populated by reindeer and elves, like some outer space Santa's Village. And hey, hasn't Santa already developed his space cred by conquering the Martians? Easterbunny, though... I mean, come on. Easterbunny? Easterfuckingbunny?!? Are they kidding, or what?

What Mr. Carroll suggested -- and I heartily endorse -- is that these astronomers name a planet after another Roman god (actually goddess, the goddess of fruit), one who has up to now been sorely underrepresented in the firmament. He suggests Pomona as a planetary moniker. Yes! Planet Pomona!

You see, though I've now spent nearly half my life in San Francisco, I'm originally from Pomona, as is the lovely and talented Mrs. Generik. We both grew up in that southern California suburb of Los Angeles, and still retain some fond memories of the place. Once a town filled with acres and acres of orchards, there are still many neighborhoods there where every house has at least one orange or lemon or walnut tree somewhere on the property. We were delighted to find the Pomona Market on Wenceslaus Square in Prague last July, as witnessed by the photos, above. And I know we would both like to be able to say we come from Planet Pomona.

(When we took a road trip visiting baseball stadiums around the country back in 1993, we stayed in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh called Mars. Not much of a there there, but at least if you lived there and people asked you where you were from, you could honestly answer, "Mars." I'd like that sort of thing, myself.)

Planet Pomona would also make me more inclined to pay attention to the bunkum known as astrology. "I have a double Pomona rising, and my moon is in Pomona." "Pomona must be in retrograde today, can you feel it?" "Your chakras are definitely ruled by Pomona. Now get in the lotus position and blow a rose."

That's it. From now on, I'm from Planet Pomona, if anyone asks.


Speaking of Chronicle columnists, check out Jon Carroll's page-mate Leah Garchik's column from yesterday's edition. You may find a familiar name in the penultimate item there. Are my fifteen minutes up yet?

Hiking On Kauai

My good friend Dave has asked me to put up a link to this site he's set up with pictures and accounts of his recent trip to Kauai, the Garden Isle of Hawai'i, and the hikes he and his wife took with another couple there. In his own words, here's a description of what you'll find there:

"For the terminally bored or those interested in hiking on Kauai in the future, I submit to you a humble link at which you will find photos of the recent sojourn that Karol and I made with another couple in August. There aren't many photos, I promise, but there is additional, possibly useful information for those interested in the hiking possibilities Kauai has to offer, including GPS-produced maps and stats of each hike. There is also a small section of non-traditional travel photos, which some might call 'art shots,' and others might call 'waste of good pixels' (no film was harmed in the production of this website)."

He's hoping to get a large number of hits there for Google purposes, so if all of you loyal readers (are there more than four of you?) will be so kind as to click on the link at least once, I'd sure appreciate it, and so will Dave. And without coercion or fear of reprisal, I can say that, having seen them myself, the pictures really are very good and the information is, uh, informative.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

6x10 From the iPod: Bush Administration Edition

Version I:

1. Chain Of Fools -- Aretha Franklin
2. Ball Of Confusion -- Temptations
3. Fool On The Hill -- Beatles
4. Is That All There Is -- Peggy Lee
5. Would I Lie To You? -- Eurythmics
6. Fortunate Son -- Creedence Clearwater Revival
7. The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be -- Magnetic Fields
8. Won't Get Fooled Again -- The Who
9. I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag -- Country Joe & The Fish
10. When The Levee Breaks -- Led Zeppelin

Version II:

1. Your Racist Friend -- They Might Be Giants
2. Personal Jesus -- Johnny Cash
3. Cretin Hop -- The Ramones
4. Pretty Vacant -- Sex Pistols
5. Heart Of Stone -- Rolling Stones
6. Bigmouth Strikes Again -- The Smiths
7. Christ For President -- Billy Bragg & Wilco
8. I'm Afraid Of Americans -- David Bowie
9. Lost In The Flood -- Bruce Springsteen
10. I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide -- ZZ Top

Version III:

1. War -- Edwin Starr
2. Military Madness -- Graham Nash
3. Mercury Poisoning -- Graham Parker
4. Send In The Clowns -- Frank Sinatra
5. He's Misstra Know It All -- Stevie Wonder
6. Village Idiot -- Van Morrison
7. My City Was Gone -- The Pretenders
8. Accident Waiting To Happen -- Billy Bragg
9. History Will Teach Us Nothing -- Sting
10. Armagideon Time -- The Clash

Bob Dylan version:

1. Masters Of War
2. Idiot Wind
3. Talkin' World War III Blues
4. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
5. Nothing Was Delivered
6. It Ain't Me, Babe
7. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
8. Tears Of Rage
9. Hurricane
10. Down In The Flood

Elvis Costello version:

1. King Of Thieves
2. The Imposter
3. American Without Tears
4. Monkey To Man
5. Accidents Will Happen
6. Clowntime Is Over
7. Get Yourself Another Fool
8. Two Little Hitlers
9. Beyond Belief
10. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding

Talking Heads version:

1. Don't Worry About The Government
2. No Compassion
3. Democratic Circus
4. Road To Nowhere
5. Life During Wartime
6. Big Daddy
7. Blind
8. Slippery People
9. Puzzlin' Evidence
10. Psycho Killer

Feel free to add your own!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

World Turned Upside-Down

Which of the following is true?

1. Pigs are flying.

2. It's snowing in hell.

3. The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this year.

4. Preznit No Accountability has actually accepted (some) responsibility for the slow response to the disaster along the Gulf Coast.

Unbelievably enough, it's number 4. Bush is scheduled to make a speech to the nation on Thursday evening, and it remains to be seen how much actual responsibility he takes for the disaster after the disaster, but this step alone is unprecedented in the nearly five years he's been in office. Not once before has he ever -- ever -- been held accountable or admitted to having made a mistake. Maybe his tanking poll numbers convinced Karl Rove and krewe to try to throw George on the mercy of the court nation.

What I'd like to see now are some exploding heads from those on the Republican side of the national divide who have steadfastly defended and apologized for their man in the face of mounting criticism. Now that he himself has admitted some responsiblity for the feds' inaction, what can these apologists have to say about their continued lies and spin and attempts to blame the victims?

Idiotic Quotes

Courtesy of our friend and colleague (and recent birthday boy) Scaramouche, comes this list of 25 Stupid Quotes about Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, Preznit Extended Vacation tops the list with his mind-numbingly moronic comment that no one "anticipated the breach of the levees," and appears a few more times on the list with some more choice quotes. ("Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job." Not included was what may well have been -- or should have been, anyway -- the rest of that quote: " gimme yer resignation, ya lyin' hack.")

Read 'em and weep.


Bob Geiger over at the Yellow Dog Blog has ten questions for the 39 percent of people polled recently who still say they support Preznit Big Disaster, and they're pretty amusing. Check them out if you get a chance.

Also, you can meet Bob himself at Zeitgeist in San Francisco two weeks from today (9/27) when he will be attending the SF chapter of Drinking Liberally's weekly get-together there. Word is that he'd like to meet with some local bloggers. I'll most likely be there, as will Dr. Laniac and, we hope, a few more of our fellow BARBARians. Get your thirst on, folks!


...for speaking truth to power.

From CNN:

"On the question of whether Bush cares about black people, 67 percent of whites said they believe the president does care, but only 21 percent of blacks agreed."

Tom Tomorrow also has an interesting take on the situation. Check it out, yo.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Unintentional Truths

They probably didn't mean this the way it reads... or did they?

10 From The iPod: Hurricane Katrina Edition

1. Goin' Back To New Orleans -- Dr. John
2. Tipitina -- Professor Longhair
3. Zydeco Gris Gris -- Beausoleil
4. Mardi Gras In New Orleans -- Dirty Dozen Brass Band
5. Fiyo On The Bayou -- Neville Brothers
6. Jambalaya -- Hank Williams
7. Cannibal -- Buster Poindexter
8. House Of The Rising Sun -- The Animals
9. Hometown New Orleans -- Champion Jack Dupree
10. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans -- Louis Armstrong

Time for Bush to Go

(It's actually long past time, but sooner would be better than later... and right now would be just about perfect.)

This column by Douglas Adams from the Baltimore Sun is getting reprinted a lot right now, as well it should be. Here at The Generik Brand, we like it so much we're going to run it in its entirety.

After Katrina fiasco, time for Bush to go

By Gordon Adams

September 8, 2005

WASHINGTON - The disastrous federal response to Katrina exposes a record of incompetence, misjudgment and ideological blinders that should lead to serious doubts that the Bush administration should be allowed to continue in office.

When taxpayers have raised, borrowed and spent $40 billion to $50 billion a year for the past four years for homeland security but the officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot find their own hands in broad daylight for four days while New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast swelter, drown and die, it is time for them to go.

When funding for water works and levees in the gulf region is repeatedly cut by an administration that seems determined to undermine the public responsibility for infrastructure in America, despite clear warnings that the infrastructure could not survive a major storm, it seems clear someone is playing politics with the public trust.

When rescue and medical squads are sitting in Manassas and elsewhere in northern Virginia and foreign assistance waits at airports because the government can't figure out how to insure the workers, how to use the assistance or which jurisdiction should be in charge, it is time for the administration to leave town.

When President Bush stays on vacation and attends social functions for two days in the face of disaster before finally understanding that people are starving, crying out and dying, it is time for him to go.

When FEMA officials cannot figure out that there are thousands stranded at the New Orleans convention center - where people died and were starving - and fussed ineffectively about the same problems in the Superdome, they should be fired, not praised, as the president praised FEMA Director Michael Brown in New Orleans last week.

When Mr. Bush states publicly that "nobody could anticipate a breach of the levee" while New Orleans journalists, Scientific American, National Geographic, academic researchers and Louisiana politicians had been doing precisely that for decades, right up through last year and even as Hurricane Katrina passed over, he should be laughed out of town as an impostor.

When repeated studies of New Orleans make it clear that tens of thousands of people would be unable to evacuate the city in case of a flood, lacking both money and transportation, but FEMA makes no effort before the storm to commandeer buses and move them to safety, it is time for someone to be given his walking papers.

When the president makes Sen. Trent Lott's house in Pascagoula, Miss., the poster child for rebuilding while hundreds of thousands are bereft of housing, jobs, electricity and security, he betrays a careless insensitivity that should banish him from office.

When the president of the United States points the finger away from the lame response of his administration to Katrina and tries to finger local officials in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., as the culprits, he betrays the unwillingness of this administration to speak truth and hold itself accountable. As in the case of the miserable execution of policy in Iraq, Mr. Bush and Karl Rove always have some excuse for failure other than their own misjudgments.

We have a president who is apparently ill-informed, lackadaisical and narrow-minded, surrounded by oil baron cronies, religious fundamentalist crazies and right-wing extremists and ideologues. He has appointed officials who give incompetence new meaning, who replace the positive role of government with expensive baloney.

They rode into office in a highly contested election, spouting a message of bipartisanship but determined to undermine the federal government in every way but defense (and, after 9/11, one presumed, homeland security). One with Grover Norquist, they were determined to shrink Washington until it was "small enough to drown in a bathtub." Katrina has stripped the veil from this mean-spirited strategy, exposing the greed, mindlessness and sheer profiteering behind it.

It is time to hold them accountable - this ugly, troglodyte crowd of Capital Beltway insiders, rich lawyers, ideologues, incompetents and their strap-hangers should be tarred, feathered and ridden gracefully and mindfully out of Washington and returned to their caves, clubs in hand.

Gordon Adams, director of security policy studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, was senior White House budget official for national security in the Clinton administration.

Not much to add to that, just the usual litany of documented (and monumental) incompetence, miserable failures, and hiring and palling around with liars and thieves. It's just a shame that some people (and, unfortunately, there are a lot of them) can't see the reality of the Naked Emperor and keep insisting that he's clad in rich raiments of the finest cloth.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Some People

Unbeknownst to me until just a couple days ago, my pal Lanz -- who some of you may recognize from his occasional contrarian comments here on this site -- has been keeping a blog of his own for the past few months. And just what does Mr. Fair and Balanced have to say about the current display of federal ineptitude in the Katrina disaster? Well, first of all, he reprints an article blaming the mess after the hurricane on -- wait for it -- the Welfare State. Not incompetent administration members who delayed responding and dithered about protocol while people died; not a clueless, overmatched president who did just as he's always done, which is, of course, the very least possible; not any one of dozens of other federal officials who dropped the ball and mismanaged the response; no, it's all the fault of the evil, liberal Welfare State. Horrors!

What surprises me the most about this post of his is not that he readily accepts such a fatuous premise -- in the years that I've known him, I've come to expect that he will simply repeat whatever right-wing boilerplate is the current Republican talking point of the day; though he claims to be a "libertarian" and not a part of the VRWC, he regularly echoes whatever the latest conventional wisdom is from the Hannity-Limbaugh-Coulter School of Spin -- it's that the article itself is so blatantly racist. It equates the people caught on camera looting New Orleans with "those people in the projects" and talks about the "criminal population" there and how the two "often overlap" (in other words, it's all the fault of those lazy, immoral dark folks, they just can't control themselves the way white people do). One thing I do know about Lanz is that, for all his right-wing wrong-headedness, he is most definitely not a racist. It's one of the things that I've always respected about him. Why, then, would he reprint such a hateful screed, just to help disseminate the current Republican view that the fault for the disaster lies not at the feet of the current adminstration, but with the evil lib'rulz who created the Welfare State? That position is one thing, and we're seeing it echoed in a lot of places lately. For instance, I heard someone on the radio this morning blaming Bill Clinton for not having fixed the levees when he was in office. This is standard stuff for the wingers; when in doubt, blame Clinton. But to post an article that screams with racist undertones as this one does is, or should be, beneath even a dedicated Bush apologist like Lanz.

(It should also come as no surprise that the two news sources cited in the article are both right-wing propaganda outfits: The Moonie-owned Washington Times and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News. In the typical winger's world, these outfits are apparently the antidote to that gosh-darned lib'ral media.)

Had that been the extent of the offense of Lanz's post, I probably wouldn't have bothered writing this response to it. But after the reprinted article, in comments of his own, he claims that "some people" (with a link to this blog) "amazingly try to blame a hurricane on the President." Well, to steal a phrase, sadly, no. "Some people" might do that (though I haven't read or heard of any who have), but I certainly didn't. Now I realize that expecting right-wingers to read anything carefully (especially anything written by a traitor to America like me and all other liberals, progressives and Democrats) requires a leap of logic that would span the Grand Canyon, but really! I must protest. Never did I say that Bush "caused the hurricane," nor would I ever make a statement as ridiculous as that. What I railed about in my posts over the past week or so is essentially the same thing I've been railing about for the past five years: that Bush is overmatched in his job, that he is incompetent and incapable of leading. I ranted about the slow and mismanaged response to the disaster that apparently everyone but the president knew was coming, but never did I say or imply that the hurricane itself was his fault.

Such is the mindset of the wingers, though. They seem to live and thrive in constant denial and cognitive dissonance, happily misinterpreting and misrepresenting the truth (when they're not ignoring it altogether). The fact that millions of people out there agree with my assessment of Bush's failure to respond in a timely manner matters not a whit to Lanz and his pals busy blaming the victims for their plight. The fact that people died because of Bush's inaction, and because of his lame, unprepared and overmatched appointees (hello, Michaels Chertoff and Brown) does not matter, or even enter the equation. It's all the fault of the Welfare State, of local officials, of Bill Clinton, of liberalism in general.

Lanz goes on to say that "some people" (again with a link to this site) "want to turn this tragedy into another Make George Look Bad smear campaign." *sigh* I hardly need to make the point that George made himself look bad enough without any help from me. But in the world of the current Republican blame-avoiders, nothing is ever, ever, George's fault. Not the poor response to Katrina, not the bungled war in Iraq, not the lies about WMDs that started the war, not the continuing inability to capture or even locate Osama bin Laden, not the soaring deficit or the millions of people living in poverty in the richest country in the world (many more since he took office), not the stolen election that illegally put him in power in the first place, nothing. The buck stops anywhere but George's desk. There is never a time to point fingers, say the Repubs, unless those fingers are being pointed at someone other than their glorious leader (they prefer to blame Democrats for everything, especially Bill Clinton).

"Some people" might be happy at this new opportunity to cast blame on a clueless, incompetent president (as Lanz accuses me of being) for his poor leadership in this instance, but I'm not; any more than I've been "happy" to complain about all the other jobs he's bungled in his time in office. The problem I have is that I love America, and I want to see it restored to its former place as a respected leader of the world community and place of refuge and hope for all its citizens, rich and poor alike. That won't happen under Bush's watch, and I'm anything but happy about that. But ignoring that reality and shutting up about it -- something Lanz and his Republican buddies would welcome, I'm sure -- is contrary to my very nature. I have to speak up when I see criminal behavior on the part of our chief "elected" official, just as I would if I saw someone trying to rob a grocery store or kidnap a child. Bush dithered; people died as a result. You're damn right I'm going to make noise about that, but I'm sure as hell not happy about it.

In his conclusion, Lanz consoles himself with the belief that "the Left is drifting further and further away from the mainstream of America," and that we are "fading as a force in American politics." Right, buddy. And I blamed Bush for creating a hurricane.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Strummin' George

What was George doing while New Orleans and surrounding areas were drowning? Thanks to my pal Dean (aka NightTrain) and my most excellent bro Motis, we now have evidence that he was busy giving the finger singing and playing the blues to all those poor, displaced people. What a guy.

More Katrina Links

The always-well-prepared and -researched Mr_Blog has a great post about FEMA's fuck-ups, with lots of links, over at his site here. The links about aid from other countries being denied and help from Americans ready to go to work being thwarted by gross mismanagement and bungling bureaucracy are especially difficult to read, but necessary to understand just how badly our government has blown it -- and how it continues to do so while people continue to die in the Gulf Coast states.

If only Chimpy McCokespoon were capable of feeling shame...

"We're Angry, Mr. President."

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has published an open letter to the dumb sonofabitch who bungled the whole deal, just like he has everything else in his life president, castigating him for his failure to lead and failure to respond to the crisis that just continues to worsen. Here it is in its entirety:

OUR OPINIONS: An open letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

(Emphasis mine.)

Meanwhile, the Mother of All Cluelessness, Barbara Bush, is happy to go on record as saying that the relocation of refugees to Houston and parts beyond is "working very well." Jeebus, don't any of these Bushes ever get it?

Friday, September 02, 2005

"Now Watch This Drive."

There are so many more stories and columns on the Bush maladministration's too-little, too-late response to the disaster in the Gulf that I hardly know where to begin. It seems that quite a few folks out there are observing just how Preznit Miserable Failure is coming up small again in a time of national crisis. In 2001, it was the Pet Goat story and jetting around the country like a coward on the run while thousands were dead and dying in New York and Washington DC; this time it's attending fund-raisers and eating birthday cake and playing the guitar while people are displaced and dying along the Gulf Coast. In any event, though, unless it involves appearing before hand-picked crowds of adoring Moron-Americans, killing foreigners or enriching Halliburton and other already-wealthy cronies of his, Preznit Can't Find His Ass With Both Hands And A Flashlight just doesn't have the right stuff. He's incompetent, inarticulate and inept.

For instance, here's Greg Palast on the subject:

The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window. He looked very serious and concerned.

That was yesterday. Today he played golf. No kidding.

He played golf. Good to know that little things like thousands dead and dying and up to a million or more people left homeless by a hurricane can't interfere with his pursuit of physical fitness and breaking par.

On today's SF Chronicle editorial page, John M. Curtis also has some choice words for the Bungler in Chief:

Like the South Asian tsunami, there's unspeakable pain and tragedy watching human beings crushed by unstoppable earthly events. Hurricane Katrina must alert Washington to the necessity of controlling disasters. Squandering human lives and resources on avoidable military adventures shows disregard for the all-out effort needed to fight natural disasters.

There's another, somewhat related article on the same page by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, and then, next to those two, is a predictably tin-eared and wrong-headed screed by notorious Bush-apologist and lesser intellectual light Debra J. Saunders, in which she accuses those of us who have the temerity to point fingers at her beloved leader in this time of crisis and poor response to it of being simply "Bush-bashers." (Oh, heaven forfend!) Being a charter member of the Cult of Dubya, she defends his inaction even in the face of mounting evidence against him, and creates enough straw men to populate every cornfield in Kansas.

In addition to these columns, there are excellent pieces on the subject out there by Molly Ivins, Norman Solomon, Howell Raines, Andrew Gumbel and Paul Krugman (Krugman's piece can also be found here.). I suggest you check them out -- but be sure to have a strong drink or some blood pressure medication nearby when you do.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Iraq ≠ WWII

It would appear that I'm not the only one who has trouble with Preznit No Sense of Decency's recent comparing of the war in Iraq with World War II. Slate columnist Fred Kaplan has some choice words for the Chickenhawk in Chief about his bogus analogy. Here are just a few of them:

"Accept for a moment the argument that Iraq is but one theater in a global war on terrorism. Overlook that, to the degree this is true, it's because Bush's invasion of Iraq—and his many miscalculations afterward—helped make it so. Even so, it would be an enormous leap to claim that the war in Iraq—or the broader war on terror—is the political, strategic, or moral equivalent of World War II.

Al-Qaida or its sundry offshoots could crash many more airplanes, wreck many more buildings, and bomb many more subways—and the magnitude of their power, and the urgency of their threat, would still fall far short of that posed by Nazi Germany. The panzers of the Wehrmacht rolled across the plains of Europe, toppling governments with ease, imposing totalitarian regimes, and killing millions in their wake. This was a war of civilization on a level that today's war—however you might define it—doesn't begin to approach.

But let's say that the two wars—World War II and Iraq (or the broader war on terrorism)—are comparable, that their stakes are even remotely as high. Then why is President Bush fighting this war so tentatively?

From December 1941 to August 1945—the attack on Pearl Harbor until the declaration of Allied victory—the United States manufactured 88,430 tanks and 274,941 combat aircraft. Yet in the two years after the invasion of Iraq, much less the four years since the attack on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration has not built enough armor platings to protect our soldiers' jeeps from roadside bombs.

To fund World War II, the United States drastically expanded and raised taxes. (At the start of the war, just 4 million Americans had to pay income tax; by its end, 43 million did.) Beyond that, 85 million Americans—half the population at the time—answered the call to buy War Bonds, $185 billion worth. Food was rationed, scrap metal was donated, the entire country was on a war footing. By contrast, President Bush has asked the citizenry for no sacrifice, no campaigns of national purpose, to fight or fund the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he has proudly cut taxes, heaving the hundreds of billions of dollars in war costs on top of the already swelling national debt."

Read it all for yourself, and weep for our nation, gone so wrong thanks to one man in power, one man with no courage, no honor, no character, no integrity and not one fucking clue.

Wrong-Wing Smears

Good column today from Bonnie Erbe on the Republican penchant for smearing all those who dare to disagree with them. It's disgusting to see the lengths that the current band of Rovians and their defenders will go to discredit and demonize anyone with the temerity to hold an opinion different from theirs.

"The cacophony is growing louder as the public catches on. Last week, archconservative columnist George Will (that decorated, battle-scarred soldier) compared (Cindy) Sheehan to a car wreck by the side of the road -- sad, he said, yet riveting. Whoo! You know they're scared when they get that personal and that nasty.

It gets better. Charles Krauthammer went on that oh-so-liberal media outlet, Fox News Channel, and said Sheehan's Crawford protest in behalf of her son -- who was killed in Iraq -- is 'hurting our troops and endangering our troops.' He accused her of 'libeling America' (as if a nation could be libeled and a bereaved mother possessed that kind of power) and emboldening her enemies. Wow! She must be a lot tougher than she looks.

Are Americans witnessing a pattern here?

Anytime the Bush presidency (or the wrong-wingers, for that matter) is in big trouble, beastly, malodorous rumors start to spread about the wrong-wingers' nemeses. Nauseating nuggets of discrediting personal information seep out of the mud. Have you noticed?..."

Good stuff. Check it out.

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

One of America's greatest cities is lost. The Big Easy, for all intents and purposes, is gone. It's done, history. Looking at footage of the devastation there, it's hard to imagine that it will ever be back to what it once was; or indeed, if it will ever be back at all. The more I think about it, the more I realize what an enormous loss this is. The Gumbo Shop, Antoine's, Tujague's, Storyville, Pat O'Brien's, Jean Lafitte's, The Court of Two Sisters, Acme Oyster House (God! Acme Oyster House!!), Commander's Palace, Emeril's, The French Market, K-Paul's... Mardi Gras. Bourbon Street. Jackson Square. The Jazz Festival. The St. Charles streetcars. Anne Rice's house in the Garden District. Canal Street. Riverwalk. Tulane. Loyola. Dixieland jazz. Zydeco. Jax Brewery. Marie Leveaux's.

And so much more (and that's not to mention the destruction in Mississippi and Alabama). All of it is now under water or otherwise ruined. It's lost, and the number of dead has yet to be calculated. Most people estimate that the number will be in the thousands, but it will be weeks before we know. Up to a million or more people are now refugees, many of them left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. What will happen to them? No one yet knows.

You'd think that an administration that claims to be so worried about preventing terrorist attacks might -- just might -- have some kind of contingency plan in place for a disaster on this scale. After all, what if all this destruction had been caused not by a hurricane (which should have been anticipated and planned for in the first place), but by a bomb or some other kind of attack? Wasn't there a plan in place to help rescue and remove people as quickly as possible? Apparently not. Just this morning, Preznit Out of Touch with Reality told Diane Sawyer, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." This quote is right up there with Condi Rice's testimony to the 9/11 Commission when she said, "No one anticipated the kinds of strikes that took place in New York and at the Pentagon."

Bush isn't the only one who is clueless on the matter. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made this comment today: "The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's Today program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."

Gee, Michael, do you think maybe that's because there are a lot of poor people with no access to transportation there? Or would that idea even occur to someone as out of touch as you are?

At least one victim says that "President Bush ain't doing his job." He isn't, and there is plenty of evidence for that point of view.

This is a president and administration that is as clueless as it is heartless and cruel. In fact, some of the blame for the extent of the damage lies squarely at the feet of these mismanagers. It was the Bush maladministration, after all, that drastically cut funding for flood and disaster preparedness in Louisiana, simply so they could more easily finance their huge tax cuts for the wealthy and fund the ongoing bloody debacle in Iraq. (And speaking of that -- how many National Guard troops that would otherwise be available to help out right now are instead in the Middle East risking their lives for Bush's lies and Halliburton's obscene war profiteering?)

And just where has Preznit Lucky Me, I Hit the Trifecta been while this disaster has unfolded? We get reports that he cut his vacation short by a whole two days. Whoa. Easy there, cowboy. We read about him sharing a birthday cake with John McCain, or getting presented with a guitar after his ridiculous speech in San Diego in which he compared the war in Iraq to WWII. (And, presumably, himself to FDR. Here's a memo, Dumbfuckya: FDR was only physically handicapped; he was intelligent and compassionate and a great president. You, on the other hand, have not one ounce of empathy for anyone or curiosity about the world around you, you are mentally and morally handicapped, and you are exponentially, logarithmically the single worst president this country has ever had the misfortune of having to endure.)

Thanks for nothing, you bastards. You clueless fucks.

Naturally, the loudmouth "Christian" wingers have plenty to say about the devastation, too: they believe it's God's retribution for abortions and homosexuality. What is it with these small-minded hate-mongers? Before the hurricane struck, we had Pat Robertson openly calling for the assassination of a legitimately-elected foreign leader, and the ever-vile Fred Phelps and his gang of gay-bashers protesting at the funerals of American servicemen. Have they even read their own book? I'm not a Christian (not by any stretch of the imagination), but I do know something about the tenets of the religion they claim to adhere to, and it looks nothing to me like what they advocate.

I have to admit, I'm still just a bit in shock over the whole thing. I know a few people in the area, and as I was writing this, I received this letter from a young woman who lives in Louisiana:

"I'm ok. I'm at work right now. We're scared. They've closed down downtown because of riots at the Rivercenter where the refugees are. I had my ex husband pick up Kaileigh because it's not safe for her to be here. Her daycare is a shelter right now. 4 people were shot in Denham Springs over gas. That's where i'm from. My friend is bringing me my gun so that i can have it with me on the ride home."

I can't even imagine what it's like to be living on the Gulf Coast right now. The thought of feeling like you have to have a gun with you to travel safely is chilling.

Unless you're in a position right now to go to Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama and volunteer, about all we can do is hope, pray if you do that sort of thing, and donate any kind of time, money, blood or supplies that you can.

***UPDATE*** Look here for concrete evidence that this disaster has been exacerbated by the Bush maladministration and its mismanaging ways (tip of the Generik cap to lil_amish Teresa for that).



What had happened down there was the wind had changed
Cloud rolled in from the north and it started to rain
It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day, the river rose all night
Some got lost in the flood, some got away all right
The river busted through clear down to Plaquemine
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

President Coolidge come down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a notepad in his hand.
President say, “Little fat man, isn’t it a shame
What the river has done to this poor cracker’s land?”

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

-- Randy Newman

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