spook of the ozarks

unapologetic liberal

Friday, September 30, 2005

Reckless disregard for the law -- your GOP

Lock 'em up:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Federal auditors said today that the Bush administration had violated the law by purchasing favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" inside the
United States, in violation of a longstanding, explicit statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the administration's public relations campaign had been known for months. The report today provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities.

Surely someone will be held accountable for this illegal activity. We look forward to the Justice Department's vigorous prosecution of the perpetrators. They can start with Mr. Williams because, the article says, it was his idea

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING -- This cat's pretty conservative,
but he'd rather vote for a dog than a corrupt Republican.

Thanks, Craig

O'Neill gets a moment on "Ellen" and gets the audience to do a Hog call. Idiot.

Judith F. Miller sang for the grand jury

Lots of inside-baseball-style coverage over at Romenesko, but little light. Let's see some indictments. We're with Jon Friedman on this:

If you can understand what the hell is going on in this case, you're a lot smarter than I am.

We thought jail was a good place for Miller, regardless.

Bikes, Blues & BBQ

We went down the hill and waded through last night for a while. It was pretty crowded. Apparently vendors are pissed about rising fees every year. Looks like they decided not to close Dickson to traffic. Presumably that was on guidance from Daytona PD advisers. Local bands seem happy with the exposure. The barbecue competition is at the mall -- too bad, in our view. The event Web site is here.

Added to the links

Go visit Greyhair, whose blog is even newer than this one. We think you'll like him.

Dear state abortion foes


Officials for the state Republican Party, the Family Council and Arkansas Right to Life condemned clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock on Thursday for providing free abortions to hurricane refugees.

Would it make you happier if the clinics charged a fee? Abortion, despite your best efforts, is still legal. A majority of Americans support keeping it that way. The leaders of your party are still corrupt megalomaniacs. Americans are seeing the light. That's why you're losing your base. Quit trying to change the subject.

UPDATE: Conason elaborates.

ANOTHER: Jon Chait on DeLay. MORE: Dionne implores GOP reformers to do something.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

They just think the truth is hell

Over at Daily Kos, Hunter eviscerates some dumbass wingnut for spouting empty threats. You'll want a smoke after you read this.

Blue Oyster Cult tk

Man, what decade is this? Friday night at the Arkansas Music Pavillion (AMP), a venue in a mall parking lot, we get Joan Jett and the Blackhearts with John Kay and Steppenwolf. Saturday brings us BOC and Foghat. These are Little Rock-caliber shows.
UPDATE: Snarkmaster Tbogg answers my rhetorical question.

Turds float in GOP cesspool

DavidNYC over at Kos' place recaps some greatest hits from the catalogue of Rep. Roy Blunt, the man House Republicans chose to replace the bugman as their leader. Each more corrupt than the last. If Democrats can't catch a wave in this ocean of sleaze, they will have demonstrated that they're as inept as their opposition is crooked.

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck

Living in Flyover Land

At least we don't have to worry about fire season, although a few more years of below-average rainfall could change that.

This blogger is a plagiarist

Not us, him. Mr. Bucholz has lifted substantial chunks of this Times analysis without attribution. It's inexcusable, and not just because he's clearly a moderately talented writer. It clouds the entire blogosphere when one of us does such shit. Shame on him.
Retrospective hat tip: CJR Daily, where we saw his blog referenced and thought, That sounds familiar.

Getting to the bottom of prisoner abuse

Joe Galloway of Knight Ridder:

WASHINGTON - Well, they finally got to the bottom of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal this week. An Army court martial convicted Pfc. Lynndie England and sentenced her to three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for holding that leash, pointing with scorn and other offenses.
They've gotten to the bottom, all right. With Pfc. England's conviction, that wraps up the cases against nine enlisted soldiers who starred in those terrible digital photos in late 2003.
So that's it, huh? Not exactly. We still haven't gotten to the top of this scandal, the Guantanamo problems and the questions that were raised last week by an Army captain from the 82nd Airborne Division who is troubled by, of all things, a conscience.

The rest.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Stormy weather cometh

We can use the rain. Computer must be unplugged.

This is what passes for diplomacy with the junta

Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state, is in the Middle East promoting America. Saudi and Turkish women give her an earful. Apparently she was briefed before her trip by the "greeted as liberators" bunch, because she reportedly didn't expect what she found. Neocon fantacists formulate our foreign policy. The rest of the world gets it.

Not so good news

ABC "World News Tonight" had this yesterday. The Times:

The floating cap of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to what is probably its smallest size in a century, continuing a trend toward less summer ice that is hard to explain without attributing it in part to human-caused global warming, various experts on the region said today.
The findings are consistent with recent computer simulations showing that a buildup of smokestack and tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases could lead to a profoundly transformed Arctic later this century in which much of the once ice-locked ocean is routinely open water in summers.
It also appears that the change is becoming self sustaining, with the increased open water absorbing solar energy that would be reflected back into space by bright white ice, said Ted A. Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., which compiled the data along with NASA.

ABC suggested this spells extinction for polar bears, other species. No reax from Inhofe on this latest hoax.

Since it's Wednesday


Partly due to its Republican-style political correctness, partly to the cult of personality surrounding Bush himself -- his fabled "gut instincts" were supposed to make up for his manifest intellectual shortcomings -- the administration finds it almost impossible to adjust to altered circumstances. They’ve created their own reality all right. Alas, the rest of us have to live there, too.


Cultivating his image as a kindly and caring physician, [Frist] never failed to mention his pious concern for patients while casting his vote against their interests. He is the most reliable Senate ally of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbyists. He voted to kill the Patients’ Bill of Rights. He voted to limit awards to medical-malpractice victims to $250,000, a “reform” that directly benefited his family business. He sought to limit regulation of profit-making hospitals and other providers by Medicare, which would likewise protect the Frist empire.
In return, he has collected millions of dollars from health-care industry lobbyists to finance his own campaigns and his war chest at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he chaired before taking over the Senate leadership.

Hallelujah! DeLay indicted

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.
DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.
The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.
The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

Female suicide bomber strikes in Iraq

Another corner turned:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A woman strapped with explosives and disguised as a man blew herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center in a northern town Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding 30 in the first known attack by a female suicide bomber in the country's bloody insurgency.

It's becoming increasingly hard to envision any good outcome in this quagmire.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THIS IS A DUMB IDEA -- Fayetteville Transportation Department workers
hang one of the six signs around city limits that ask bikers coming to town
for Bikes, Blues and BBQ to ride quietly while visiting Fayetteville.
BROOKE McNEELY photo / Northwest Arkansas Times

N. Ireland Protestants don't want peace

What else could explain this?

BELFAST (Reuters) - Protestant leader Ian Paisley on Tuesday accused the IRA of a cover-up after monitors said it had scrapped its entire arsenal used to wage war on British rule in Northern Ireland.
The international monitors said on Monday they had seen put beyond use all of the IRA's weapons, including rifles, flame throwers, explosives, machine guns and surface-to-air missiles.
"The more the search-light is put on this, the more we discover there is a cover-up," said Paisley, a firebrand cleric and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the province's biggest party.

Paisley is incapable of bargaining in good faith. All parties to the peace process should henceforth marginalize Paisley and the DUP. They have repeatedly torpedoed the process.

We wish we'd thought of this

Is this an important development?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi and U.S. forces claimed a major blow against one of the country's deadliest insurgent groups Tuesday, saying they killed the No. 2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who masterminded a brutal escalation in suicide bombings that claimed nearly 700 lives in Baghdad since April.

Sadly, No!

From deep in the heart of Texas

The irrepressible Molly Ivins:

Look, this is rank, nasty business -- corruption, cronyism and competence (the lack thereof) are the issues here. And as we have so recently and so painfully been reminded, when government is run by corrupt, incompetent cronies, real people pay a real price. There is nothing abstract about swollen bodies floating in flooded streets or dozens of old people dead in nursing homes.

And while we were at Working For Change, we remembered that we forgot to link to this classic This Modern World last week. In case you missed it.

This strikes us as a good thing

Lisa de Moraes in the Post:

[I]t appears that Martha Stewart couldn't get arrested in any way, shape or form last week in prime time. Not only did her edition of "The Apprentice" open poorly on Wednesday, attracting about 7 million viewers, but CBS's Stewart flick, "Martha Behind Bars," also seems to have attracted about 7 million viewers. It would appear that around 7 million watchers of prime-time TV are very interested in seeing Martha TV; the rest of us -- not so much.

Profiteers line up at the trough

The gravy train's coming. Dana Milbank reports on hurricane reconstruction planning in the Post:

Would-be government contractors were meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building to figure out how to get a share of the money. A "Katrina Reconstruction Summit," hosted by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and sponsored by Halliburton, among others, brought some 200 lobbyists, corporate representatives and government staffers to a room overlooking the Capitol for a five-hour conference that included time for a "networking break" and advice on "opportunities for private sector involvement."

We feel better already

The GOP Congress' whitewash of the botched Katrina response is off to a fine start. The star witness Michael "Brownie" Brown takes the blame for not conducting enough press briefings and being incapable of making the local Democrats -- and his superiors -- perform competently. And now we have learned that when he resigned as FEMA chief he was rewarded with a job as a consultant to FEMA on how his ex-agency blew it. Reassuring.

Jack Abramoff is so screwed

Not that he had any direct role in this particular crime, but sooner or later, with so many unsavory characters getting nailed because of the Abramoff inquiry, someone's likely to decide he knows too much. If we're lucky, maybe people will start singing and we'll get shed of the likes of Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and all their corrupt cronies. Maybe Safavian will roll over on 'em.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Three men were charged with the 2001 gangland-style killing of the founder of the Miami Subs sandwich chain, who was involved in a business dispute with a prominent Washington lobbyist at the time, officials said Tuesday.
Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was ambushed after he left his office in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 6, 2001. He was involved in a dispute with lobbyist Jack Abramoff over the sale of a casino business.
Anthony Ferrari was arrested at his North Miami Beach home Monday evening, Fort Lauderdale police said in a statement Tuesday. Fort Lauderdale homicide detectives arrested Anthony Moscatiello, 67, at his Howard Beach home in New York late Monday, police said.
Ferrari, 48, was being held at the Broward County Jail, sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said. A third man, 28-year-old James Fiorillo, was arrested Tuesday in Palm Coast.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Still no sign of Fayetteville

We'll keep checking in here periodically.

Chris Cox does the appropriate thing

He really had no choice:

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox recused himself today from the agency's investigation of stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to avert what he called "any appearance of impropriety."
Cox, a former California lawmaker who served for nearly a decade as a member of the House Republican leadership before joining the agency last month, cited personal connections to Frist in a prepared statement explaining his decision to step aside from deliberations about the probe.
Cox had donated $1,000 to Frist's reelection bid in 2000 through his own campaign fund, according to records compiled by the Federal Election Commission.

RIP Don Adams

Who among us of a certain generation didn't have a huge crush on 99? The cone of silence was always good for some laughs. LATimes:

Don Adams, the comic-actor who played bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart on the hit 1960s spy-spoof series "Get Smart," has died. He was 82.
Adams, who honed his comedy skills as a post-World War II stand-up comic and impressionist, died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said today. He said the actor had broken his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.
It was the height of the Cold War and the James Bond spy craze when "Get Smart" debuted on NBC-TV in 1965 with Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, a Washington-based counter-intelligence agency. It was the job of Smart and beautiful Agent 99 (co-star Barbara Feldon) to destroy KAOS, an international organization of evil. Edward Platt, who died in 1974, played their long-suffering boss, who was known simply as "Chief."
The clever and satirical sitcom, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, was filled with sight gags (one character, Agent 13, hid in mailboxes, water fountains and clocks) and ingenious gimmicks (Smart famously phoned headquarters with a dial phone implanted in the sole of his shoe.)

Department of can't do anything right

Lead story on washingtonpost.com:

President Bush, saying "gas prices are on our mind," said today the government is again prepared to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate any gas shortages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
He called on Americans to "pitch in" and conserve gas by reducing non-essential travel, teaming up in carpools and using mass transit.

Good advice, thanks. W used to insist, rightly, that the SPR was only for emergencies. We guess sub-40 approval ratings constitute an emergency now. Because:

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Gasoline prices that reached all-time highs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina fell by an average of 20 cents a gallon in the past two weeks as some Gulf Coast refineries resumed production, according to a nationwide survey.


Blogger is being unusually cantakerous today.

So Cindy Sheehan got herself arrested

Been there, done that, athough never on purpose. Look, we hate this war too, have from since before it started, but what's the point? We've never gone looking for trouble. The cops never seemed to need a reason to hassle our generation.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

This can be interpreted more than one way

Blogger ethics

Some irresponsible bloggers are posting Frank Rich's column, headlined "Bring Back Warren Harding." We won't do that. Nor will we link to them. You'll have to find it yourselves.

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone

We are adding this Yahoo! News project, which starts tomorrow, to the links. You may remember Sites from the controversy after he videotaped a Marine in Fallujah last year executing a wounded and apparently unarmed insurgent. Here's how Yahoo! describes it:

A solo journalist ("SoJo"), Sites will carry a backpack of portable digital technology to shoot, write, edit, and transmit daily reports from nearly every region of the world. You'll be able to follow his endeavor through stories, photos, video and audio, and you'll be able to interact with him.
Their ambitious mission: To cover every armed conflict in the world within one year, and in doing so to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles -- and their global impact. With honest, thoughtful reporting we'll strive to establish Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone as a forum for information and involvement. Users will not only learn about the scope of world conflict, but will find ways to be part of the solutions -- through dialogue, debate, and avenues for action.

IRA officially disarms

This strikes us as a fairly momentous development:

The IRA has decommissioned a huge haul of its remaining weapons and explosives in a bid to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland, The Observer has learnt.
Republican and government sources said the formal announcement that a vast arsenal of tonnes of illegal rifles, rockets, anti-aircraft guns and Semtex explosive had been put beyond use will be made possibly in the next 48 hours and definitely before Tony Blair's keynote speech to the Labour party conference this week.
However, there will be no photographic evidence of the disarmament, which was witnessed by two churchmen from Northern Ireland, one a Catholic priest, the other a Presbyterian minister.
John de Chastelain, the Canadian general who has the task of overseeing paramilitary disarmament, will deliver an inventory of the weapons destroyed at a press conference early this week.
The IRA will also hold on to a number of personal protection weapons for its so-called "internal security teams" ...

Government in league with Big Oil, Banking

The Post examines the oil and gas situation and identifies the beneficiaries. Producers and refiners rake in windfall profits. Distributors and station owners barely get by, the latter partly because credit card companies suck up their margin. What can we do about it? Throw the bums out in 2006. Then rescind the industry giveaways in the just-passed energy bill. That money should be invested in sustainable energy. And repeal that horrid bankruptcy wet kiss to the credit card industry. Any Democrat who voted for it needs a primary opponent. Pass stricter mileage requirements. Make W veto them. Make the GOP accountable. Democrats need to make clear to voters who's on the side of the American consumer. There lies the path back to the White House.

Coalition of the exit-planners

At least the Brits have a plan:

British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal.
The document being drawn up by the British government and the United States will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.
Britain has already privately informed Japan -- which also has troops in Iraq -- of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.
The increasingly rapid pace of planning for British military disengagement has been revealed on the eve of the Labour Party conference, which will see renewed demands for a deadline for withdrawal. It is hoped that a clearer strategy on Iraq will quieten critics who say that the government will not be able to "move on" until Blair quits. Yesterday, about 10,000 people demonstrated against the army's continued presence in the country.

The organizers of the march in D.C. -- the one Bush hid from in Colorado -- think they had 300,000. The police chief says 150,000. Photos here. The Freepers countered with about 200.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Robert Fisk has a new book

"The Great War for Civilisation: the Conquest of the Middle East" by the Middle East correspondent for The Independent is out Monday. Fisk was denied entry to the United States about a week ago. The Independent will be running "extracts" of his book this week. The first is here, on finding Osama. It's about his encounters with bin Laden over the years. Enjoy.

This is actually getting pathetic

Now they can't even pull off a photo-op:

SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 23 - President Bush was supposed to land here on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate.
It was too sunny.
Just minutes before Mr. Bush was scheduled to leave the White House, his aides in Washington scrubbed the stop in San Antonio. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, explained that the search-and-rescue team that Mr. Bush had planned to meet and thank here in San Antonio was actually packing up to move closer to where the hurricane would strike.

... Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

Oh, great

Disaster profiteering cometh

With Karl Rove overseeing this effort, Knight Ridder tells us what to expect:

WASHINGTON - As the federal government throws tens of billions of dollars into hurricane relief and reconstruction, the system to make sure taxpayers' money is spent properly is a mess.
The federal purchasing system has been plagued with scandal -- its top buyer was arrested Monday. It has too few workers deciding exactly what to buy, and there may not be enough auditors to ensure taxpayers get their money's worth. Even now, rules designed to keep the contracting process fair and honest are being loosened to speed recovery and reconstruction.

Joshua Schwartz, co-director of the George Washington University Law School's government procurement law program, pointed to small staffs, limited budgets and weak oversight.
The number of government purchasing agents and contract managers has been cut in half since 1990, but since Sept. 11, 2001, the contract spending they oversee has more than doubled, Schwartz said.

OK, they don't mention Rove. But waste, fraud, corruption -- it's Iraq revisited.

Friday, September 23, 2005

This is a relief

Some good news:

Freeways clogged for two days by evacuees from Hurricane Rita had cleared out by this afternoon, and emergency officials encouraged residents to seek shelter and stay there.

The prospect of a bunch of people stuck in a giant traffic jam in a hurricane has apparently been averted.

Frist's presidential aspirations dim

Didn't W just appoint ex-Rep. Chris Cox as new SEC chief? This isn't very collegial:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors are investigating Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family.
In a statement released Friday, the Nashville-based company said federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena for documents HCA believes are related to the sale of its stock by the senator.
Frist's office confirmed the SEC is looking into the sale.

24 fleeing Rita die in bus fire


WILMER - A bus carrying elderly evacuees from a Bellaire assisted living center caught fire and was rocked by explosions early today on a gridlocked highway near Dallas, killing as many as 24 people, authorities said.
"Deputies were unable to get everyone off the bus," Dallas County Sheriff's Department spokesman Don Peritz said. He said he believes 24 people were killed, but that number could change.
The bus, with about 44 people on board -- 38 residents and six employees -- had been traveling since Thursday around 3 p.m. The accident happened around 6:45 a.m. today. The bus' brakes apparently caught on fire, reached passengers' oxygen tanks and set off an explosion.

The photos are reminiscent of a Hamas bombing. The Houston Chronicle has full hurricane coverage.

UPDATE: The heroic staff of The Times-Picayune soldiers on. Looks like NOLA's flooding again.

It's not like we didn't warn you

Jon Chait reminds us of some early signs that the Bush junta was incompetent:

NOW THAT all but the most partisan and stubborn defenders of President Bush agree that he screwed up his response to Katrina, and nearly as many agree that he screwed up the occupation of Iraq, it probably seems unnecessary to continue beating up the administration over those failures of the past.
Instead, I say we dwell on some other administration foul-ups from even further in the past that most people have forgotten about by now. You know, in the spirit of magnanimity.
I'm thinking specifically of two controversies. First, the administration's failure to act on intelligence that could have stopped the Sept. 11 attacks. And second, its refusal to commit ground troops to the battle of Tora Bora in 2001, leading to the escape of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants.

You know what to do.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

John's absolutely right

Bush conflates terrorism, hurricane

We cannot let this go unremarked upon. David Sanger in the Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 - President Bush on Wednesday for the first time linked the American response to terrorism and its response to Hurricane Katrina, declaring that the United States is emerging a stronger nation from both challenges, and saying that terrorists look at the storm's devastation "and wish they had caused it."
Mr. Bush's speech, at a luncheon for the Republican Jewish Coalition, appeared to be part of a White House strategy to restore the luster of strong leadership that Mr. Bush enjoyed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and that administration officials fear he has lost in the faltering response to the hurricane.

Because if you begrudge W a vacation in the midst of a national emergency, the terrorists, or maybe the hurricane, will have won. Or something.

Worth keeping an eye on

We succumb to the poor-choice-of-words trend. This is potentially calamitous:

Environmentalists warned that the stretch of coast threatened by Rita is home to 87 chemical plants, refineries and petroleum storage installations, raising the possibility that the storm could cause a major oil spill or toxic release. Southeastern Texas is also home to more than a dozen active Superfund sites.

We spot a trend

Today's Progress Report contains this sentence:

Those who remember the hurricane strike of Galveston in 1900 will heed the warnings.

How many people can remember something that happened 105 years ago?

Would you like to rephrase that?

The Arkansas Times blog:

Remember last week we told you we thought "The Note" (an inside-the-beltway summary of political news) was pretty much worthless?
Well, here's proof. They
cite the Arkansas Times as a source in today's edition:

Heh. We think the Times is a reliable source. Actually, they're refuting The Note's contention that they support Huckabee for president.

We have been able to think of nothing else


And the answer to the question now on everyone’s mind: Yes, it was written in this space the day after the game that Shula would have his motivation for Saturday’s game.

How fucking presumptuous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita: Category 5

Oh, no:

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - As many as 1 million people were ordered to clear out along the Gulf Coast, and hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated Wednesday as Hurricane Rita turned into a Category-5, 165-mph monster that could slam Texas by the weekend and inflict more misery on New Orleans.
Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record ever to hit Texas, and easily one of the most powerful ever to plow into the U.S. mainland. Category 5 is the highest on the scale, and only three Category 5 hurricanes are known to have hit the U.S. mainland -- most recently, Andrew, which smashed South Florida in 1992.
All of Galveston, low-lying sections of Houston and Corpus Christi, and a mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a far weaker storm and caused minor damage.


The death toll from Katrina along the Gulf Coast climbed past 1,000 Wednesday to 1,036. The body count in Louisiana alone was put at 799 by the state Health Department.

I'm sure the noted climate expert Jim Inhofe can explain this. Maybe it's a "hoax."

Reporter repeats bogus story for contrast

Lifting this almost verbatim from Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing in the Post:

Remember all the fuss when President Clinton's haircut aboard Air Force One reportedly shut down two runways at LAX for about an hour? [spook: How could we forget? Remember when the report was debunked? We do.]
The New York Times reports that the longest runway at the Las Cruces, N.M., airport "has been closed since President Bush made a campaign stop in August 2004."
... "It has gouges six inches deep and a hundred yards long, which the city says were put there by two Air Force cargo planes accompanying the president. Las Cruces put the damage at $2.1 million."
The Air Force, which had been warned that their planes were too heavy, is now offering $600,000 for repairs.
Bush at the time was on an intensive three-day fundraising trip that netted him $4.6 million.

Nothing to see here, move along

How could he have known? AP:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.
Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.
Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said. The trustee decided when to sell the shares, and the Tennessee Republican had no control over the exact time they were sold, she said.
HCA shares peaked at midyear, climbing to $58.22 a share on June 22. After slipping slightly for two weeks, the price fell to $49.90 on July 13 after the company announced its quarterly earnings would not meet analysts' expectations. On Tuesday, the shares closed at $48.76.

Are oil companies price gouging?

This is a welcome development. We can trust the Bush junta to clear Big Oil of these scurrilous and unfounded charges. It's not their fault that they haven't built a refinery in 30 years. UPDATE: David Sirota reminds us that the Bush-appointed head of the FTC is Deborah Majorus, ex-lawyer for ChevronTexaco.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether gasoline price profiteering has occurred and if oil companies have constrained refinery capacity to manipulate fuel prices, an agency official said Wednesday.
"A determination that unlawful conduct has occurred will result in aggressive law enforcement activity by the FTC," John Seesel, an FTC associate general counsel, told a Senate Commerce Committee hearing.
The FTC is responding to language in recently passed energy legislation that requires the agency to probe whether gasoline prices have been manipulated by attempts to reduce refining capacity, Seesel said.

GOP: incapable of governing


Led by George W. Bush, today’s conservatives have elevated political patronage from a universal and tolerable peccadillo to a public menace. So intent are they on providing lucrative, comfortable federal jobs to the members of their own gang that they have come to resemble the old clubhouse Democrats of Tammany Hall. (The difference is that Tammany, for all its corruption, provided employment and benefits to the poor, while the Bush White House reserves its patronage for the well-fed and well-heeled.) The result is incompetence slicked over with arrogance and inexperience guided by ideology.

Shorter Wally Hall follow-up

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dear washingtonpost.com

Can you please do something about that mug of Sully that's been leering at me from your home page all day? It's creeping me out.
UPDATE: Thank you.

Curiouser and curiouser

Will we ever get to the bottom of this? It sure looks like someone's hiding something -- actually, they're announcing that they're hiding something. And while I'm still not willing to entertain the possibility that Curt Weldon's not a crackpot, I'm starting to infer a blind hog/acorn scenario.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - The Pentagon said today that it had blocked a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.
The announcement came a day before the officers and intelligence analysts had been scheduled to testify about the program, known as Able Danger, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Staying the course in the quagmire

Anyone else thinking about an exit strategy?

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 20 - Insurgents have killed nine American troops and security officers in four attacks across Iraq, including a suicide-bomb blast that took the life of a State Department security official and three security contractors as their diplomatic convoy left the regional United States embassy office in Mosul.
One attack in Mosul on Monday morning killed the State Department security official and three private security guards. It was followed later that day by two bombings near the restive city of Ramadi in Anbar Province that each killed two soldiers, the American military reported. This afternoon, an American military policeman was also reported killed by a homemade bomb 75 miles north of Baghdad.
The violence in northern Iraq's largest city came as British and Iraqi officials traded accusations over the British military's siege of an Iraqi police station in Basra to liberate two British soldiers being held by the police.

The Times clears up some of the confusion about that last bit.

The FDA has an incineration plant in LR?

News to me:

HUNDREDS of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned.
US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees.
Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption.

... Scores of lorries headed back to a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, to dump it at an FDA incineration plant.

I don't think anyone's starving because of this, but still. Apparently the FDA's afraid it might be tainted with BSE. Anyhow, this quote from a British aid worker amused me:

"There will be a cloud of smoke above Little Rock soon -- of burned food, of anger and of shame that the world's richest nation couldn't organise a p**s up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations.
"Everyone is revolted by the chaotic shambles the US is making of this crisis. Guys from Unicef are walking around spitting blood. ..."

Sounds about right.

CNN becoming part of the story

Over at CJR Daily, Liz Cox Barrett shares my distaste for reporters reporting on themselves:

CJR Daily often faults cable news shows for not giving viewers enough information -- skimping on context, allowing talking points to go unchallenged, simplifying complex issues. Yesterday, however, CNN provided too much information.
They aired their own dirty laundry -- literally.

Ugh. We part ways on the use of "-- literally" ledes. Oh, well.

Fewer of the people fooled all of the time

Pierre Tristam of The Daytona Beach News-Journal puts W's performance last Thursday in New Orleans in historical perspective:

For President Bush every appearance, every word, every joke, every strut, every backdrop is staged for iconic effect by an army of ghostwriters and television producers. But symbolism designed to have the force of a papal bull can just as easily be full of a different kind of bull. Bush's address to the nation from New Orleans last Thursday night was especially rancid. The city's stink was not to blame. The fishiness was Bush's alone. To appreciate its bouquet, a brief retrospective in Bush choreography is helpful. Hold your nose.

In W's own words:

"You know, I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office."-- George W. Bush, 1989

That may be the last time he told the truth. Fake president reading a speech someone else wrote for him off a TelePrompTer. That's what we saw Thursday. It's not working anymore.

Shorter Wally Hall

Arkansas prepares for Rita 'refugees'

Judging by the number of times the word "refugees" appears in this article, one suspects that maybe an executive editor weighed in on the propriety of the term.

Here come the indictments

As unscrupulous and corrupt as these guys are, there are bound to be more in the pipeline. This kind of stuff is what happens with one-party rule. The megalomaniacs think they're untouchable. Too bad. The career prosecutors at the Justice Department will nail their asses. Will W issue a pardon? Will Safavian sing or take the fall? Stay tuned.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - A senior White House budget official who resigned abruptly last week was arrested Monday on charges of lying to investigators and obstructing a federal inquiry involving Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist who has been under scrutiny by the Justice Department for more than a year.
The arrest of the official, David H. Safavian, head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, was the first to result from the wide-ranging corruption investigation of Mr. Abramoff, once among the most powerful and best-paid lobbyists in Washington and a close friend of Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.
According to court papers, Mr. Safavian, 38, is accused of lying about assistance that he gave Mr. Abramoff in his earlier work at the General Services Administration, where he was chief of staff from 2002 to 2004, and about an expensive golf trip he took with the lobbyist to Scotland in August 2002.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Batten down the hatches

Here we go. The waters in the Gulf can't have cooled much since Katrina went through.

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - Residents boarded up windows Monday and evacuated the low-lying Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Rita gathered strength in the Bahamas, threatening to grow into a hurricane with a potential 8-foot storm surge.
In New Orleans, the mayor suspended his plan to start bringing residents back to the city Monday after forecasters warned that Rita could charge through the Gulf of Mexico and affect the city's already weakened levees. Oil prices surged on the possibility that oil and gas production would be interrupted once again.
The storm's top sustained wind speed was 70 mph by midafternoon Monday and it was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of at least 74 mph, by the time it approached the Keys early Tuesday.

Lots of people in the Keys will pretty much ignore a Category 1 storm.


Arrr! Shiver me timbers! That lubber Kos reminds us that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, maties! Grog for all! Smartly, now!

In case you missed it

George Stephanopoulos interviewed Bill Clinton on "This Week." The transcript is here. In this excerpt, the Big Dog reminds us what it was like to have a good president:

[W]e had the lowest African-American unemployment, the lowest African-American poverty rate ever recorded. We had the highest homeownership, highest business ownership, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty in eight years as had been moved out in the previous 12 years.
This is a matter of public policy, and whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up, and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the eighties; that's what they've done in this decade.

In the middle, we had a different policy. We concentrated tax cuts on lower income working people and benefits to low-income people that helped them move from welfare to work, and we moved 100 times as many people out of poverty. We know what works, and we had a program that was drastically reducing poverty, and they got rid of it. And they don't believe in it.

N. Korea pact potentially great news

They must have John Bolton in a straitjacket over at the U.N. to get this:

BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea promised to give up its nuclear weapons program Monday, defusing a high-stakes crisis, but sceptics said the deal hammered out in Beijing was long on words and short of action.
South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China -- the other players in the six-party talks -- in exchange expressed a willingness to provide oil, energy aid and security guarantees.
Washington and Tokyo agreed to normalise ties with the impoverished and diplomatically isolated North, which pledged to rejoin the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Let's see if they actually readmit the IAEA inspectors and hand over some actual warheads.

Let's hope this lasts

The ArkTimes blog found an alternate source for Krugman's column:

By three to one, African-Americans believe that federal aid took so long to arrive in New Orleans in part because the city was poor and black. By an equally large margin, whites disagree.
The truth is that there's no way to know. ...
But in a larger sense, the administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.
Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

Republicans, the Party of Nixon.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

As I was saying

Fareed Zakaria channels Krugman:

Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest.

When will Americans wake up and realize the leaders of the GOP are evil bastards?

Newspaper documents FEMA waste, fraud

The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale has a huge package on how fucked up FEMA is. It starts here. Pack a lunch. What it's about:

Reporters analyzed data obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on 1 million claims for 20 disasters from 1999 to 2004 and created maps showing the location and amounts paid.
Those claims were then compared to National Weather Service and other official records of the disasters showing details such as storm paths, wind speeds, rainfall, property losses and fatalities.
Reporters researched newspaper stories and accounts of the disasters, and interviewed public safety officials -- police, fire and ambulance -- city commissioners, emergency managers and representatives of power companies, the Red Cross and other relief agencies.
They reviewed internal records of local and state agencies, including damage assessments, disaster declaration requests and post-disaster analyses.

The reporters traveled to four cities -- Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, Cleveland and Detroit -- and interviewed residents, store and business owners, community activists and public officials.

We live in a kleptocracy

Les Payne of Newsday -- previewing the Gulf Coast reconstruction profiteering Karl Rove will oversee unless he winds up prison -- crunches some numbers:

President Bush's emptying of the national purse has been nothing short of breathtaking.
Inheriting a national surplus of $232 billion from the Clinton administration in 2000, Bush has run up an extraordinary deficit of some $7.95 trillion. Were this debt spread equally to every man, woman and child citizen of the U.S., each of us would owe $26,797.
Does this bother the president? Not in the least. Bush's plan for rebuilding the gulf states was cavalierly revealed to the American people Thursday night without actually mentioning the cost.

By the time these corrupt bastards are done looting the Treasury, it will take a generation to get the country fiscally fit again. Prison's a good place for them.

The quagmire thickens

We're winning! The foreign terrorists, most of whom have apparently come to Iraq and blown themselves up, are now so desperate they're forced to recruit Sunni Iraqis as suicide bombers. Our flypaper strategy has been a success. The Guardian reports:

A year ago analysis of the identities of suicide bombers deployed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq suggested the vast majority of suicide volunteers were foreign fighters smuggled across the Syrian border.
That was then. A year on, the government, and its multinational allies, are confronting a shocking new reality: an emboldened and reinvigorated al-Qaeda that for the first time is attracting increasingly large numbers of young Iraqi Sunnis to its cause -- and to die in suicide operations.
Following a week in which Zarqawi 'declared total war' on the country's Shia majority after the co-ordinated series of attacks that began in Kadhimiya, British and American officials have admitted that there is growing evidence that al-Qaeda is strengthening its grip in Iraq.
In the most alarming development, officials concede that for the first time that a significant number of suicide attacks in the country are now being undertaken by Iraqis.

Frank Rich has a good column today

You have about 12 hours before they put it behind a subscription wall.

How long can this continue?

How many guys whom we disappeared into this gulag do you suppose have died since it opened? And what good are these attorneys doing for them?

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 - A hunger strike at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has unsettled senior commanders there and produced the most serious challenge yet to the military's effort to manage the detention of hundreds of terrorism suspects, lawyers and officials say.
As many as 200 prisoners -- more than a third of the camp -- have refused food in recent weeks to protest conditions and prolonged confinement without trial, according to the accounts of lawyers who represent them. While military officials put the number of those participating at 105, they acknowledge that 20 of them, whose health and survival are being threatened, are being kept at the camp's hospital and fed through nasal tubes and sometimes given fluids intravenously.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

If this fails, we'll just have to kill someone

Shorter GOP: With all these rotting corpses, surely there's a dead millionaire floating around.

Who will they try to blame for this?

Answer: Congress, for having increased funding the year before.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the months before Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush sought to cut a key program to help local governments raise their preparedness, and state officials warned of a "total lack of focus" on natural disasters by his homeland-security chief, documents show.
The disclosures add to questions over the administration's emergency-response planning, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's priorities and the way the White House budgets for disaster preparedness after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The White House's attempts to deflect responsibility are growing increasingly pathetic. Their obsession with terrorism cost us New Orleans. Chertoff, clean out your desk.

Knight Ridder -- insufficiently deferential

This is how it's done:

Addressing the nation on Thursday night in a speech from New Orleans, Bush said the storm overwhelmed the disaster relief system. "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice," he said.
Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government -- including those of the Department of Defense.
"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

... "They're trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference," said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. "The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It's not about authority. It's about leadership. ... They've got all the authority already."

It's elementary: When W opens his yap to speak, what issues forth are lies. And there is no shortage of people eager to say so, with the know-how to explain it in easily understandable terms. And if the rest of the media had been equally skeptical three years ago, we might have saved that $200 billion we now need to restore the Gulf Coast to habitability instead of squandering it on a neocon fantasy that they told W would demonstrate his superiority at presidentin'.

More bad on FEMA

This predates W. Looks like it just gave the money to the state, which spent it on something tangential. AP:

As far back as eight years ago, Congress ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a massive hurricane, but the money instead went to studying the causeway bridge that spans the city's Lake Ponchartrain, officials say.
The outcome provides one more example of the government's failure to prepare for a massive but foreseeable catastrophe, said the lawmaker who helped secure the money for FEMA to develop the evacuation plan.

But this doesn't. The Times:

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept 16 - Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA -- the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission -- is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.
Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

It's W's Humpty Dumpty.

It's a good thing W doesn't read newspapers

Because if he read today's Modo in the Times, he'd show those aides who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they didn't want to incur the wrath of the president what snippy's really like. Nut graf:

With Karl Rove's help, Junior designed his presidency as a reverse of his father's. W. would succeed by studying Dad's failures and doing the opposite. But in a bizarre twist of filial fate, the son has stumbled so badly in areas where he tried to one-up Dad that he has ended up giving Dad a leg up in the history books.

Game, set, match -- merciless. She does that once in a while, but not $49.95's worth.

Friday, September 16, 2005

What's up with these people?

Hey, I've been arrested for public drunk before, but it takes an idiot to resist arrest. And he looks like such a charming young gentleman.

The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested in downtown Austin early today on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest, officials said.

John Ellis Bush, 21, was taken into custody around 2:30 a.m. near the intersection of Trinity and Sixth streets near the downtown entertainment district. He was released around 10:30 a.m. today on a personal recognizance bond. Bail had been set at $2,500.
An affidavit on the public intoxication charge was not immediately available; according to an affidavit for the resisting arrest charge, Bush continually pushed against an officer for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as the officer attempted to handcuff him.


Government on the cheap

Jon Chait and Joe Conason see heads exploding as wingnuts try to figure out how to pay for Katrina. Chait finds Coburn, DeLay and Norquist debating which of their fantasies will prevail. Conason doesn't think Bush can keep his empty promises in his desperate speech.

Book ban update

The Fayetteville School Board, on advice of its attorney, effectively told would-be censor Laurie Taylor to fuck off, here, here and here. Good on 'em.

Exhibit A: Sen. James Inhofe

One environmental disaster responds to another. Sen. James "global warming is a hoax" Inhofe has a plan:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 - The Environmental Protection Agency could suspend any law governing air, water or land in responding to Hurricane Katrina under a measure introduced Thursday by the chairman of the Senate environment committee.
The legislation, which drew immediate criticism from environmental groups, would create a 120-day period in which the agency's administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, could waive or modify laws if it became "necessary to respond in a timely and effective manner" to a situation created by the storm.
The proposal would allow changes in law at the discretion of the Bush administrator in consultation with the governor of "any affected state."

Mr. Inhofe's legislation could make it easier for (rebuilding) efforts to proceed by setting aside laws and regulations that ensure that environmental standards for air and water quality are met. Already this week, the E.P.A. temporarily relaxed standards for diesel fuel to help Gulf Coast refineries return to normal levels of production and distribution.

Sleazier than Tom Coburn, even. Only Oklahomans can remove this lunatic from office, of course. But with a Democratic majority, at least he wouldn't be chairman of the Senate environment committee. That's right, the GOP put the worst threat to the environment atop that panel. This maniac's an existential danger.