SALTO'S IN-DEPTH TAKE ON THE SOTU
It's offensive to me to have a confessed criminal giving the State of the Union address before our elected legislators.
"Dijon mustard," Louderman says as the woman drives away. "I don't know what Dijon mustard is. Don't care to find out, either."And then there's this
In comes Debra McKinnon, 53, who says she nearly dropped dead nine months ago from heart failure and is working for one reason only: health insurance. She takes 12 pills a day, for which she pays several hundred dollars a month, which, without insurance, would be four times that. Is that Bush's fault, though? "No," McKinnon says. "It's a problem from the drug companies to the lawyers to the doctors to Congress, and it's not because Bush isn't a caring man. I think he's a very caring man. I think he's a decent, God-fearing person, and I hope we are, too."
Um. Yeah.Even more!
"Hey, Aaron," Orton says, and in comes a young man who is 16, and who is considered one of Rich County's three African Americans even though he considers himself a mix of a white mother and black father.
He spells his last name: "C-H-E-N-E-Y."
"Yeah," he says. "Distant relatives." His grandmother did the genealogy and explained the connection. He has no idea if it's true, he says -- but even if it is, the reason he likes Bush has less to do with that than with his mother's decision to come to Randolph when he was 8 years old.
"I enjoy pushing cows, chasing girls and shooting guns," he says of who he has become here.
Also: "I'm a Republican."
Face it, people: parts of this country are filled to the brim with deeply stupid people. I don't know if the fine folks profiled here fit that description, but I'd suspect some of them do.
Probably my favorite political writer. Criminally
underappreciated. He's in Rolling Stone writing on the Abramoff/DeLay corruption empire
and the piddling GOP effort to advance "lobbying reform."
He's seriously good.
"The Republicans are now and always have been the party of reform," said a grinning David Dreier, surveying the crowd of journalists in the congressional radio and TV gallery.
The nattily dressed House Rules committee chairman then paused, as if to give someone in the crowd a chance to chuck a bottle at his head. No one did. So he went on: "I see this," he said, "as a wonderful new opportunity for us . . ."
Again, he paused. No bottles, no rotten tomatoes, no clouds of flying dog-shit landing with a slap! on his receding forehead. Given what the Republican leadership might have expected, at a press conference unveiling a "lobby reform" package in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal (what Dreier meant by "this"), the event was a smashing success.
Standing next to Dreier, nodding with mild approval but also scanning the crowd cautiously, was the boarlike House speaker, Dennis Hastert. Hastert had kicked off this presser with similarly inspired oratory -- the highlight of which, according to my notes, was this line: "It's not acceptable to, uh, break the rules or the law."
Now he was standing there next to Dreier, motionless and mute, with the nervous, half-bored look of a man with a commuter train to catch. It was a lonely picture: an exhausted fat man playing his last political card and an effete Californian in a too-orange tie, standing alone behind a plywood podium in a dank congressional closet, putting a brave face on The End. In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, they were all that was left of the once-vaunted Republican leadership. It was like a Star Trek script gone hopelessly wrong, with Kirk and Spock beheaded in the first two minutes, and no one left to man the bridge but Scotty and maybe that blond nurse of McCoy's, the one in the blue minidress.
Good stuff. Here's the link.
The evils of this administration
are so varied that it gets awfully tiring trying to keep track.
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. ...
Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, is a leading authority on the earth's climate system. He directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute on Morningside Heights in Manhattan.
Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore. ...
He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled, and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.
But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.
In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."
He said he was particularly incensed that the directives affecting his statements had come through informal telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.
Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."
The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.
After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.
Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.
The whole story is here.
Every incident like this, every inept public policy, every incident of looting the treasury, every grab at power, leads me to the obvious conclusion: this administration is dangerous and needs to be removed as quickly as possible.
They do damage to this country every day.
Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.
The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is a Ferengi.
Seriously, what's wrong with that guy's face? Oh wait. He's 61
. He's botoxed to the gills.
It's almost February 2006, bitches! You know what that means!
Salto on music.
The top records of 2005. Soon!
FROOMKIN IS BACK
You should be reading him, you know. His column
Bush. Clinton. Clinton. Bush. Bush.
READ THESE NOW
[Image removed because it was screwing up the blog. Click here
for original image. Link to comics here
Pictures. Need to see pictures
Although President Bush says he doesn't recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.
Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together.
Time reported on its Web site Sunday that its staff members have seen at least six photos featuring Bush and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators. They appeared to have been taken at White House functions, according to the reports.
The White House has acknowledged that Abramoff attended some events at the Executive Mansion, and spokeswoman Dana Perino said Sunday it's not surprising that the two would have met.
''The president has taken tens upon thousands of pictures at such events,'' Perino said.
"Tens upon thousands"?
What the fuck does that mean? Is that even English?
FIVE PHOTO JACK
White House press secretary Scott McClellan admits that the White House has been on a search mission for any photos showing President Bush with toxic lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is cooperating with the Justice Department on its investigation of a wide-ranging lobbying scandal.
At a press conference, McClellan said if there were pictures, which officials hadn’t found, they might have been taken at a Christmas-party line, where the President poses with hundreds of people. “The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him,” McClellan said.
The comment about searching raised images in the press room of a “White House plumbers” operation looking for incriminating photos.
If the White House can’t find the photos, prosecutors already know where to look. The Washingtonian has seen five photos of the President with Abramoff or his family. One photo shows the President and Abramoff shaking hands at a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, where a bearded-Abramoff introduced Bush to several of the lobbyist’s native-American clients.
"BY WHAT, BLOGGERS?"
THE GAME IS AFOOT
FBI leakers reveal in today's Times
that the NSA has spied and is spying on
thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of innocent American citizens.
In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.
As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about "whether the program had a proper legal foundation," but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.
We now know that lots of people, even people in this administration (see Ashcroft, J.
), thought that this program was illegal.
Still, the comments on the N.S.A. program from the law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, many of them high level, are the first indication that the program was viewed with skepticism by key figures at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for disrupting plots and investigating terrorism on American soil.
Count the FBI in too. Very lib bunch, them federal agents.These lawsuits that are going to be filed
are the first step in an enormous test for our judiciary: will they accede to an imperial presidency? A quasi-dictator? Watch closely.
David Foster Wallace at a Booksmith event
tonite at 7pm.
Location is the All Saints Church (1350 Waller) in San Francisco.
I'll be there.
CHAOS AT THE PHARMACY
Bush and his corporate cronies in the Congress passed a Medicare prescription drug bill that was just a bullshit giveaway to Big Pharma.
But woops! Even their bullshit program is just a big mess.
With tens of thousands of people unable to get medicines promised by Medicare, the Bush administration has told insurers that they must provide a 30-day supply of any drug that a beneficiary was previously taking, and it said that poor people must not be charged more than $5 for a covered drug.
The actions came after several states declared public health emergencies, and many states announced that they would step in to pay for prescriptions that should have been covered by the federal Medicare program.
Republicans have joined Democrats in asserting that the federal government botched the beginning of the prescription drug program, which started on Jan. 1. People who had signed up for coverage found that they were not on the government's list of subscribers. Insurers said they had no way to identify poor people entitled to extra help with their drug costs. Pharmacists spent hours on the telephone trying to reach insurance companies that administer the drug benefit under contract to Medicare.
The worst thing about them is not just that they're evil; it's that they're evil and completely incompetent.
They haven't been able to do one thing right. Not one. Not the simplest program. It's all Michael Browns, all over the place, wanking to pictures of Reagan with one hand and taking money from the Abramoffs with the other.9/11?
A cock-up of monstrous proportions.The search for Bin Laden?
Aborted. Because of Iraq.Afghanistan?
Being aborted now. We need more troops there, probably.The run-up to Iraq?
The biggest fuckup in American foreign policy in our country's history.Body armor?
Not for our troops.Katrina?
Just being evil or just being incompetent would be so much better for this country.
[BTW: "Telling insurers" what to do is not exactly "free-market."]
By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 U.S. adults from January 9-12.
The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement:
"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
43% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.
Now watch and see if your favorite news source reports that over 50% of Americans would impeach Chimpy.
I BLOGGED ANDY WARHOL
Our toilet exploded yesterday.
Anyone else in the Upper Haight having weird plumbing issues? I know they're supposedly flushing the water mains.
[This post is mostly for Google.]
BOMB AT VAN NESS STARBUCKS?
A bomb left inside a Starbucks bathroom was defused by the San Francisco police explosives ordnance unit this afternoon, according to Sgt. Neville Gittens.(Fuck Bill O'Reilly.)UPDATE
The improvised explosive device was defused around 2 p.m., Gittens said.
Police responded to a call about a suspicious device in the coffee house located at Van Ness Avenue and Bush Street at 1:15 p.m.
Gittens said he could not comment on the size or type of device found or on its potential explosive capacity. A police investigation is ongoing.
: They apparently found the guy.
He was "disheveled,"
THE TOESUCKER SPEAKS
"Already the cocaine infects our young."
"Toesucker" background here
, if y'all don't remember.
I finally found something that tells me
why every band sounds like Joy Division these days.
MY IN-DEPTH TAKE ON THE ALITO HEARINGS
Joe Biden should have his flappy little tongue surgically removed and fed to a bear.
MY ART PROJECT
Making a latchhook of this picture of Karl Marx.
Using this utility
(.pdf) if you're into it.]
THE BARISTA BANDITS
Leading to another
in my continuing series of favorite NYT paragraphs
The police said the bearded person was actually a woman, Lindsey Nicole Pruitt, 22, of Enid, Okla., who was arrested while wearing a glued-on goatee and who had a fake gun, described as a realistic replica of a Beretta 9 millimeter, stuffed in her waistband. Ms. Pruitt was charged with robbery in connection with a holdup at the Java the Hut in Pacific, Wash., the police said, and was being held on $70,000 bail in neighboring Pierce County.
It took me a long time to find that other wacky Times graf
, so you better go look at it too.
That's a thousand billion dollars. It is the minimum cost of our misadventure in Iraq, according to a new study
The study expands on traditional budgetary estimates by including costs such as lifetime disability and health care for the over 16,000 injured, one fifth of whom have serious brain or spinal injuries. It then goes on to analyze the costs to the economy, including the economic value of lives lost and the impact of factors such as higher oil prices that can be partly attributed to the conflict in Iraq. The paper also calculates the impact on the economy if a proportion of the money spent on the Iraq war were spent in other ways, including on investments in the United States
The study is by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and others.
That's the minimum. Max cost? Two trillion. That's two thousand billion dollars.
WIRETAPPING THE KERRY CAMPAIGN
NBC's Andrea Mitchell is asking if an administration agency tapped CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour's phones.
Amanpour is married to Jamie Rubin
was also chief foreign policy adviser to General Wesley Clark's presidential campaign, and then worked as a senior national security adviser to John Kerry's presidential campaign.John Aravosis has the story.
Go now and read.MORE
: Mark Schmitt hinted at this
a couple of days ago (scroll down).EVEN MORE
: NBC pulled the transcript
and is trying to play CYA. But their retraction statement confirms that they are working on the story.
This is scary stuff.YES, THERE'S MORE
: Josh Marshall chews this over
and concludes that it must be a government source; it's too serious a charge to just throw out there.
MY HERO DAVE
It's a little weird that you can not be paying attention and suddenly a geopolitical crisis will just sneak right up on you
on Haight tonight.
LOST, FAITH, AND THE HURLEY MIDGETS
I've just finished watching the (quite wonderful) first season of Lost
on DVD and I have some observations on television, faith or "magic", and Twin Peaks
stewing in my lil' head. I'll do my best to get 'em to you forthwith, as if you care.
Until then, a gratuitous picture of Hurley:
Given that, I can't fail to mention that Hurley, Wisconsin has my favorite high school mascot of all time. The Hurley Midgets. Seriously.