Monday, May 29, 2006

Move Over, DaVinci!

Big Al's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is apparently the most successful movie of the week. In only 4 theaters, it grossed $389,000 (in just 5 days). That's an ASTOUNDING $97,000 a screen. The average movie grosses maybe $5-10K per screen opening weekend; a blockbuster maybe twice that.

Admittedly, it's been in 'liberal' stronghold cities, with lots of flogging by Gore himself to help hype the showings, and lots of support from the blogosphere. But still! $97000 a screen?

Hillary may not have to worry about Al in the primaries in '08. He may be too busy saving Hollywood to worry about boring old Presidential politics! :)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Roll of Honor

I try not to post things in toto from other sites, but this was something I wanted people to see in it's fullness. The link back to DKos is in the title. Happy Memorial Day.

Requiem for a Nightmare

Sun May 28, 2006 at 06:06:06 AM PDT

Tomorrow is the day we honor the fallen American heroes of so many wars. To avoid staining our national day of mourning, I felt it more appropriate to dedicate this post at this time to a very different kind of American. They may be clueless neocons, erroneous White House talking heads, or smear artists and their self-appointed town criers. But what they all have in common is that each one bravely ducked when called and later took part directly or indirectly in assaulting the reputation of those who stood in harm's way. They are known, affectionately, as Chicken-hawks:

  • President George W. Bush - served four years of a six years Nat'l Guard commitment, some say after daddy's friends pulled some strings to keep him out of Vietnam. The circumstances of his early separation from state-side service are still controversial (details)
  • Karl Rove, occasional Deputy Chief of Staff and alleged full time smear artist, escaped the draft and did not serve
  • VP Dick Cheney - several deferments, by marriage and timely fatherhood
  • Former VP Chief of Staff I. Lewis Scooter Libby - did not serve
  • Secretary of State and former NSA Condaleeza Rice - did not serve
  • Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve.
  • Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - did not serve.
  • Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay - did not serve
  • House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
  • Majority Whip Mitch McConnell - did not serve
  • Rick Santorum, third ranking Republican in the Senate - did not serve.
  • Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott - did not serve

Recently while stammering out a convoluted apology for avoiding service, one budding Yellow Elephant mentioned in part that he 'can support the Yankees without wearing their uniform.' Not too far off: Your average Chicken-hawk does not play for the Yankees because they lack the physical skill required to walk out on that field and compete; likewise, maybe they do not serve in Iraq because they lack the simple courage required to walk into a recruiting office and sign up. But how about his role models?

  • Rush Limbaugh - did not serve
  • Sean Hannity - did not serve
  • Pat Buchanan - did not serve
  • Ann Coulter - did not serve
  • Ralph Reed - did not serve
  • Bill O'Reilly - did not serve
  • Michael Savage - did not serve
  • Bill Kristol - did not serve

The 101st Fighting Chicken-shit Keyboardists and assorted neocon shills may be conspicuously absent when their country is in need, but they're always at the ready to order other people's sons and daughters into the meat grinder. They sure seem to pop up on the Quad when the battle is over and the band is a'playin. And they're always on duty, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to smear any survivors with vicious accusations of cowardice or worse when Neoconia calls. Just a couple of examples of their bipartisan handiwork include smearing Democrat Max Cleland, triple amputee, awarded both the Silver and Bronze Stars for valorous action in combat. The same treatment was shown to Republican John McCain who won the Silver & Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross and spent over five years being tortured in the Hanoi Hilton.

In another time and place, some of today's not-so-brave might have elbowed little old ladies and children out of the way to secure a berth on the last lifeboat on the Titanic, or maybe they''d have ratted out resistance fighters to the Gestapo in WW2 France. But today is the eve of Memorial Day and this is America, 2006. Ergo, present day Chicken-hawks will pay their respects by milking the courage of war heroes. They will then churn it into buttery lubrication to help coat their lies and incompetence, so as to slip more easily down the collective gullet and penetrate deep into our national psyche.

To a Chicken-hawk on Memorial Day, a bronze plaque inscribed with the names of the fallen is more than an earnest reminder of ultimate sacrifice. It is a convenient shield to protect the latest revelation of bloody negligence or deadly deceit. It matters not if the entombed accept the wisdom of a specific conflict or respect those that dispatched them: After all, dead men tell no tales and thus cannot voice dissent, or refuse to enable neocon affectations.

The current crop of chicken-shits are by no means the first to brandish ideological armor made of hastily fashioned flesh and bone taken from their needless war victims. They did not invent the vicarious pose, wreath in one hand and flag in the other, or write the first poetic speech spoken in the safety provided by such profound tragedy. They're not the first to conflate questions over a massive cluster-fuck with attacks upon those who's shattered remains lay beneath the brass and marble props making up the background of each shameless photo-op. Today's Republican Chicken-hawks are not the pioneers of bloody combat blunder.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knew, Someone had blunder'd: Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. --Charge of the Light Brigade

But in my opinion, what makes this latest craven breed of prestige parasites particularly loathsome is that once off stage and out of frame, they will insidiously cut VA benefits in favor of corporate welfare and tax cuts for billionaires. The case for contempt rests on the undeniable fact that they spooked us into war against the wrong country. In plush ideological laboratories, senior slime artists will sink their fangs into the broken bodies of war dead, drain the unwitting corpses of the last drops of dignity, and then parade around glowing with the stolen glory. The final exhibit in this disgusting series is that with distended yellow-bellies now camouflaged red, white, and blue by that theft, they will commence to discredit and destroy any veteran, living or dead, who won't expedite the revolting neocon-authored actions hurting the very soldiers the Chicken-hawks honor in pretense. It's enough to make one vomit.

I reserve tomorrow for those who served with honor. But today, I recognize the puppet masters and their fleshy mannequins, who will shortly swagger over sacred graves, bravely intercept the standing ovation intended for the dead, and unflinchingly bask in the goodwill directed at the lost. They have all but sworn under oath to stay their deadly course, brook no change, and justify every new body bag as giving meaning to the coffin that came before it; an endless procession cleverly contrived to evade responsibility, to forever postpone their day of accountability, the future fallen be damned.

I fear the Chicken-hawks will continue to enlist the dead and maimed in their grotesque media pageants, to cover their blunders and attack any opponent, every week, every month, and yes, even every Memorial Day, ad infinitum. Until We the People finally put an end to this gruesome nightmare.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay, Skilling Convicted

Details later!

Oh, NOW It's Not Such A Good Concept

When the fascisti in Bu$hCo were spying on you and me, that wasn't a problem. When they were lying about Iraq in order to suck the American public into an unnecessary and illegal war, that wasn't a problem. Hell, when they were pissing all over Congress' prerogatives and place in the ole checks and balances puzzle, EVEN that wasn't a problem.

But let them show up with a legal search warrant and seize records, etc, in the Capitol Bldg.... and maybe the Bushistas have gone to far. Hell yes, it was probably questionable on Constitutional Grounds, but didn't Congress basically assign the Constitution to the basement about ten seconds after Darth Cheney growled at them?

And then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out.....

Is it just my imagination, or werent there about 150 Republicans who were hip deep in multi-million dollar corruption and not co-operating at all, and the door the Bushistas decide to kick in is the lone Dem in any kind of trouble? Hmmmmm..... what could that indicate?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fuck Them All

If this is even partially true, forget the illegality of the war, forget spying, forget lying, forget everything- impeach them for this. If they're screwing the troops this way (we'll just forget about the lack of funding, the lack of armor, the lack of planning, etc), then they deserve to be impeached, tried for treason, and hung!

From AP via CNN:

Report: Mentally ill troops forced into combat

Military not following own rules on deployment, paper says

Saturday, May 13, 2006; Posted: 10:05 p.m. EDT (02:05 GMT)

HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported in its Sunday editions.

...

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. That number accounts for nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

The paper reported that some service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

...

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in a war zone. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top mental health expert, and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.

...

Ritchie insisted the military works hard to prevent suicides, but it is a challenge because every soldier has access to a weapon.

"I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country," said Arthur S. Blank Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

Maj. Andrew Efaw, a judge advocate general officer in the Army Reserves who handled trial defenses for soldiers in northern Iraq last year, said commanders don't want to send mentally ill soldiers into combat.

"But on the other hand, [the com mender] doesn't want to send a message to his troops that if you act up, he's willing to send you home," Efaw said.

Back

I've been in Vegas all week at a trade show and I can safely report that a) Vegas is alive and well, b) The goddammed Las Vegas Convention Center is WAY too fucking big and c) I already want to go back (I've been home two hours.)

Looks like a I picked the wrong week to be gone. Hayden, Foggo, Wilkes/Cunningham, Snow, and god knows what all else I havent scanned yet. Wow. This corrupt (mis)administration is going to implode any minute now, and I just hope it doesnt suck the rest of us into the vortex when it goes.

I wont even mention the telecom fishing expedition (or the five BILLION dollar class action lawsuit instituted against Verizon (can ATT and MCI be far behind?) Ooops, guess I did mention them.

More tomorrow, if I wake up!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Trade Thoughts

I was listening to Tom Hartman cover for Randi Rhodes on AAR today and he was talking about trade policy and had some interesting facts/observations; most run counter to what I thought I knew, but in afterthought, make a lot of sense.

His theory is that tariffs are good for us. GASP.

He sited a lot of recent economic thought/publishing that seem to back him up. I was in the car, so didnt get to record his sources, but I'm sure if you visit his website, he's got them there.

But, basically, he pointed to the fact that modern international trade isnt trade between nations, but between divisions of the same corporation in most cases. In other words, Nike's Malaysian subsidiary sells to Nike's American subsidiary, and the only thing that really changed hands was the jobs that went overseas. And perhaps the construction jobs for the factories involved.

And he noted that in the 19th Century, the US had tariffs of as much as 50%, while the UK had virtually no tariffs (to encourage trade within the Empire.) The US"s growth rate during that period was more than double that of the UK. And an average of more than 50000 'British' workers a year migrated to the US during the period.

And he noted the similarities of the period we're in now to the period of the late teens and twenties in the US. Government slashing tariffs and taxes, Republican pandering to big business and making it more profitable and less regulated, and the general consolidation of more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands*. And then he noted that period ended in the Great Depression.

Let's just hope repeating the mistakes of that period doesn't lead to similar results. Housing bubble, anyone?


* Apropos of nothing, but it interested me, Hartman discussed a chart on a website ( lcurve.org I think) that compared US incomes as illustrated by a football field.

The median income would, of course, be at the fifty yard line. The $50,000 figure would be a stack of $100 bills about an inch or so thick. The 90th percentile, at the 10 yard line, would $100000, or a stack about two inches thick.

At the 1 yard line, the 99th percentile, the $1,000,000 income would be a stack of bills slightly less than a foot tall.

at the 1 foot line, the 99.9th percentile, the stack would be 40 inches tall (I forget the exact amount in $)

at the 1 inch line, the 99th percentile of the 99th percentile, the stack would be several miles high.

Moussaoui Sentenced

ZM was sentenced to life w/o parole, in deep max security. I'm mostly relieved.

I think sentencing him to death would have been a mistake, and an undeserved victory for a really awful prosecution. In general, I tend to side with the defense, and, as the system demands, expect the prosecution to make a strong case (LEGALLY) if they gain a conviction.

The prosecution in this case had a pretty weak case for the charges they proffered, argued it badly (and somewhat hysterically), and appeared to violate both the law and court decorum at virtually every turn. There were a few times I really thought the whole case would be tossed out. But that was probably not even a possibility, given the high profile and 'importance' of the case.

I won't even get into the ramifications of execution Moussaoui on the international legal scene (further isolating us uncivilized barbarians) or the terrorist community (driving further hordes of disenfranchised islamofascist youth in the arms of the 'terrahrists') Ultimately, the case had to be decided on it's merits (or lack of) and not how it would be perceived on the international stage. But, I think it's preferable that the verdict came down as it did. Moussaoui will die, most likely forgotten and unlamented in a hole somewhere in the Rockies, and draw only a few of the most intense jihadis into the movement in his wake. And most of those would probably have gravitated to the movement anyway.

Basically, a good verdict on many levels.

(Note: I'm opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances, so take the above with however many grains of salt that merits)

Josh comments on it quite cogently.

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