Monday, July 31, 2006

Blogging Flickr Random Monday

Tonight on Easily Distracted Assassin, Hong-Shu prepares to take out the evil crime lord Wing Fat, when suddenly he discovers that the fabric on his left sleeve is a slightly different color than the fabric on his right sleeve. "Hey, what gives?" Hong-Shu wonders, as Wing Fat and his bodyguards slip away yet again. Tune in next week, when Hong-Shu draws a point-blank bead on Wing Fat, only to be mesmerized by the sudden appearance of a pair of mating dragonflies buzzing about his ear.

(Original image posted by goldenticketstudio here.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Incompetent, Just Plain Evil

My pal Marty alerted me to a site called the Rockridge Institute, where I found an essay illuminating the difference between the common perception of the Bush maladministration's incompetence and the reality of its actually being quite competent in carrying out the conservative agenda. This was a real eye-opener for me, as I've been on record countless times in the past decrying the supposed ineptitude of the Bush cabal, when I should have been pointing out that many of the policies that they have put in place and subsequent failures of government to provide for the welfare of the American people are actually planned that way. They mean to do what they're doing -- which is jarring when you first think about it, but certainly makes more sense than just assuming that they're foolish and overmatched at governing. It also exposes them as more Machiavelli than Mayberry, which is pretty disconcerting in itself. Here is a brief excerpt from the essay, but I urge you to click on the link and read the entire piece for yourself:

Perhaps the biggest irony of the Bush-is-incompetent frame is that these “failures” — Iraq, Katrina and the budget deficit — have been successes in terms of advancing the conservative agenda.

One of the goals of Conservatives is to keep people from relying on the federal government. Under Bush, FEMA was reorganized to no longer be a first responder in major natural disasters, but to provide support for local agencies. This led to the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. Now citizens, as well as local and state governments, have become distrustful of the federal government’s capacity to help ordinary citizens. Though Bush’s popularity may have suffered, enhancing the perception of federal government as inept turned out to be a conservative victory.

Conservatives also strive to get rid of protective agencies and social programs. The deficit Bush created through irresponsible tax cuts and a costly war in Iraq will require drastic budget cuts to remedy. Those cuts, conservatives know, won’t come from military spending, particularly when they raise the constant specter of war. Instead, the cuts will be from what Conservatives have begun to call “non-military, discretionary spending;” that is, the programs that contribute to the common good like the FDA, EPA, FCC, FEMA, OSHA and the NLRB. Yet another success for the conservative agenda.

Both Iraq and Katrina have enriched the coffers of the conservative corporate elite, thus further advancing the conservative agenda. Halliburton, Lockheed Martin and US oil companies have enjoyed huge profit margins in the last six years. Taking Iraq’s oil production off-line in the face of rising international demand meant prices would rise, making the oil inventories of Exxon and other firms that much more valuable, leading to record profits. The destruction wrought by Katrina and Iraq meant billions in reconstruction contracts. The war in Iraq (and the war in Afghanistan) meant billions in military equipment contracts. Was there any doubt where those contracts would go? Chalk up another success for Bush’s conservative agenda.

Now this is not to say that Preznit Clueless Smirking Fuck himself is particularly gifted or able or competent, but that the people surrounding him are not all idiots and imbeciles (like he is). Not by a long shot -- they know what they want, and they have made huge strides in achieving their goals. Unfortunately, those goals have not been good for you and me and the average American, and as long as they remain in power, our situation will continue to get worse.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

From Will Durst, referring to Preznit National Embarrassment:

"He's a Wheel of Fortune guy in a Jeopardy! world."

(What is an accurate description of America's worst President ever, Alex? Thanks. I'll take Fumbling Toward Fascism for $600.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Flickr Monday Blogging Random

None of the other kids stood a chance of competing when little Stevie brought the suitcase from "Pulp Fiction" that contained Marcellus Wallace's soul in for show and tell.

(What's this?)

(Original image found here.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday-On-Thursday Vacation Blogging: Moscow

At the beginning of this month, I traveled with my mother and my sister to Moscow to visit my sister-in-law and my niece, who live there. The trip was fascinating, though far too short. I didn't get to see and do nearly as much as I would have liked, but in the brief time I was there, I did get to see the Kremlin and Red Square and Gorky Park and the White House, I took a river cruise and went to the Bolshoi ballet, and I added a few Russian words to my very limited vocabulary (before I went, I had about three words that I knew, including da and nyet; now I have about a dozen). I ate caviar every day and I drank some good Russian vodka. And of course I took some pictures. See?

Moscow is mad for military monuments, much like this one.
At this WWII memorial, the red water in the fountains symbolizes the blood shed by soldiers in that war.
Russians love pickled everything, including garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
Along Old Arbat Street, you can find all sorts of entertaining diversions and tourist schlock. This street game invites people to test their strength by punching this wooden fellow in the stomach and lighting up the board.
At another spot along Old Arbat, a guy in a nesting doll costume advertises discounts on the souvenirs found inside.
A theater and Metro station near Old Arbat Street.
Kazan Cathedral in Red Square.
On a new, modern bridge spanning the Moskva River.
Resurrection Gate, the north entrance to Red Square.
One close-up of the ironwork on the gate...
...and another.
Savior's Tower.
Probably the most widely-recognized structure in Moscow, St. Basil's Cathedral.
Inside St. Basil's.
The Historical Museum, Red Square.
The Kremlin. The word "kremlin" simply means "wall." (And "bolshoi" just means "big.")
One of the seven massive wedding cake-style skyscrapers commissioned by Stalin and built in the '50s. Not sure what this one is (it's near Red Square, on the Moskva River); the one across the street from our hotel was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where, I assume, out-of-towners go for their trysts.
The Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer.
One of the many churches at Sergeyev Possad, about an hour outside of Moscow. For a country that was supposedly filled with godless communists for most of the 20th century, there sure are a lot of churches and religious sites.
Our driver and guide. Walodya, left, is a friend and coworker of my sister-in-law; Olga is the daughter of another friend and coworker. They were very helpful in getting us around and outside the city and in negotiating the language for a group of Russki-challenged Americans.
We stopped at Walodya's dacha on the way back from Sergeyev Possad, where we were treated to a traditional Russian meal, complete with meats, cheese, bread, lots of pickles, garlic, a tomato and cucumber salad, fresh strawberries from the garden and, of course, vodka.
My mother, my sister and my niece at the Ministry of Silly Hats.
Me and my sister outside GUM department store at midnight.
GUM during the day.
Inside the massive department store, where the shops are decidedly upscale, and the cafes serve Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors ice cream.
Looking straight up.
Poisoning the world with their hamburgers. They're evil, and they're ubiquitous. (I'm proud to say, though, that I have not patronized any of their outlets in any country I've been in -- including the US -- for well over 20 years.)
All of Moscow is celebrating my 50th birthday this year.
Some street performers play with fire on Old Arbat Street once the sun goes down (which doesn't happen until nearly 11 PM).
The Golden Ring Hotel is where we stayed. Nice place, very expensive, but mostly worth it.
The sunset view from the Panorama Room at the top of the hotel, where we had dinner one night. Dos vedanyah!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Word of the Day

My Weird and Wonderful Words calendar today lists the word "kakistocracy" as the WotD, with this definition: "The government of a state by its worst citizens." Isn't that what America has become under the Bush/Cheney maladministration? First and foremost, you have the Figurehead in Chief, Preznit I'm The Decider, the fucking dumbest and most clueless man on the entire fucking planet, and then, right behind him, with his hand firmly up the presidential ass, you have Dick Cheney, a man more purely evil than Satan's colon. Throw in Condi, Rummy, Gonzales and the rest of the gang of inept, overmatched sycophants, and what else could you call it? They're the worst of the worst.

My calendar further cites the 1876 OED for this bit of rhetoric: "Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?" I think the answer is obvious.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Unintentionally Funny

From my pal Dean in Connecticut comes this link to an anti-abortion blog that cites a rather unusual source for its editorial rant.

Not that this should come as any surprise to discerning readers and intelligent people everywhere, but it's just proof once again that many, if not most, fundies and wingnuts are -- how can I put this diplomatically? -- clueless fucking idiots. It would be laughably pathetic if it weren't for the fact that these people, through politicians like Rick Santorum and Jeff Sessions and Preznit Jesus Is My Favorite Political Philosopher himself, currently hold the reins of power in this country. It almost makes me wish that the Rapture were a real thing, and would happen soon, just so we can be rid of these morons.

***Note to my regular readers -- all three of you -- you may have noticed that I haven't posted much lately. I was out of the country last week, and am still getting caught up with things here in the meat world. Will try to have some cool pics of my trip up sometime in the next week. Thanks for your patience and continued support.***
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