Monday, June 28, 2010

Headlines - Monday June 28

Flashback: his Senate colleague Tom Coburn prayed for Byrd's death, to prevent health care from passing. But God loves health care and hates Tom Coburn. 

h/t Fred:
Oldie but goodie Morford: The Hippies Were Right.
That buzzing you hear is our collective alarm clock ringing. Wake the fuck up.
As the oil disaster caused by the gusher in the Gulf enters its third month, the painful truth is that the response to the crisis is faltering and falling down all over the place.

BP has never been an honest partner. They have lied at every step of the way. Remember when they assured the world that only a thousand barrels a day was spilling - well, they weren't off by just a smidgen...they were lying their bloody asses off and using toxic dispersant a mile below the surface, even after being ordered to stop using it, in an effort to hide the amount of oil gushing into the ocean.

From the outset they have been allowed to control reporters' access to their crime scene and sought to control the narrative - and been quite successful at doing so.

Rachel Maddow and Mother Jones have been the rare exception and gone after the story relentlessly.

It's a story that needs to be told. It is one of greed and reckless disregard that led to the deaths of eleven individuals, multiple unique cultures and ways of life, thousands of birds, turtles, dolphins, etc - and the unique ecosystems of multiple marshlands, wetlands and barrier islands.

It is a story of incompetence, dishonesty, and willful disregard for what is best for the Gulf versus what is best for the futures of craven, venal, politicians like Bobby Jindal who points fingers at everyone else but only deploys a thousand of the six thousand National Guard troops he requested and has been authorized to mobilize as the Commander in Chief of the Louisiana National Guard, even as booms go untended and do more harm than good in delicate wetlands.

It is a story of the people of the Gulf Coast losing hope and giving up. Of boat captains choosing to stay ashore rather than go out and and use their vessels for skimming operations because they aren't being told the truth about the toxicity of the petroleum they are being exposed to, all the while they are told not to wear masks and protective gear because BP doesn't like how that looks to the press that manages to get through and get part of the story.

It is a story of scrambling to put a good face forward when important people visit then going back to doing nothing, or at least nothing right, as soon as the important person leaves and takes the cameras and reporters with them.

It is a story of a country that had ample warning to deal with it's energy problems and chose to ignore them and party like it was 1969 and they had never heard of oil embargoes or energy crises.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost and it is ugly.

Well guess what? It is going to get uglier unless we pull our heads out of the sand.

It is a story that needs to be told, because this is it, folks. This is our wake-up call, and if we don't open our eyes and get up NOW, we miss our ride to the future.

Speaking of the future, by the way, I don't understand the resistance of the fossil fuel industry to renewables. Do they think we're just going to conjure those future systems up with magic wands? No, of course not! The development and testing and installing is going to That we will have to get from...wait for it...fossil fuels. They are in no danger of losing their market. Frankly, I have been gobsmacked that such a versatile and chemically unique thing as oil was just burned up for energy ever since I took Organic Chemistry as an undergrad. That said - if we use up our energy and don't use part of it to build what's next, future generations are doomed thanks to our selfish stupidity, and they will not view us kindly. It is actually conceivable that the Third Reich may fare better in a hundred and fifty years than late 20th-early 21st century western, industrialized society if we don't get our shit together. After all, what is a few million lives from one part of the globe? A big deal at the time, sure. A big deal still today, in fact. But when you stack it up against killing entire swaths of the planet? They will look like pikers compared to us.  


LA Times: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has moved to stop a legitimately disturbing trend: welfare recipients using state-issued debit cards withdrew welfare payments as cash from casino floors. Since October 2009, welfare recipients have withdrawn more than $1.8 million in taxpayer cash on casino floors.
Almost all Valdez workers are dead
Via Shannyn Moore, CNN reports that the average life expectancy for an Exxon Valdez cleanup worker is 51 years. Most are dead.

It's great to see the New York Times finally coming around to report on Bobby Jindal's ridiculousness -- and it only took weeks of Rachel Maddow exposing his roid rage grandstanding and nonsensical, ineffectual ideas (like the stupid sand berms) to get to this point. But we're here and it's about time.

Here's a rundown of Louisiana and Bobby Jindal oil spill failures, via Jed Lewison:

1. The state's oil spill coordinator's office has had its budget slashed by 50% over the last decade.

2. Last year, Jindal cut funding from the state's oil spill research program.

3. The state's oil spill contingency plan's include "pages of blank charts that are supposed to detail available supplies of equipment like oil-skimming vessels." A plan for a worst-case scenario was labeled "to be developed."

4. Before Jindal decided to attack the Federal response, state officials signed off on all Coast Guard response plans.

5. Jindal, who raged at the Federal government for not having enough boom, requested three times as much boom as the state's plan had called for -- and 50% more boom than existed in the entire nation.

And he's only deployed 1,053 out of 6,000 available National Guard troops. But he's doing a lot of yelling and helicoptering! That's just as good as troops, no?

We might know more, but Bobby Jindal has sealed the state's oil spill response records.


Because police investigations are so much worse than covering up and enabling child rape ....

PZ Meyers: Ol' Ratzi is quite upset at the Belgian raids on Catholic church offices — he's calling them "deplorable", a "moment of sadness", and is calling in the Belgian ambassador to the Vatican for an angry dressing-down.

He's doing everything all wrong. Here's what he should be doing: he should be calling the actions of priestly sex abusers deplorable and wrong, and insisting that the church will do everything in its power to correct the deep problems that have led to these awful acts. Then he should announce that the church will cooperate fully with all legal secular actions — and the Belgian raids were fully authorized by the Belgian state — in getting down to the heart of the matter, and go even further, offering to open up all relevant records to inspection. Then I might be convinced that the church is sincere in its pursuit of justice for all, not just its priests, but also its parishioners.

But then, I'm an atheist. Ignore me. I'm kind of enjoying the spectacle of the Catholic church putting on the indignant act of a guilty criminal caught red-handed and insisting that the police shouldn't be working so hard to catch them.


Skippy's environmental news stories. 


In the wake of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling limiting the scope of a key federal anti-corruption statute, white-collar defense lawyers are salivating at the chance to challenge some of the biggest public corruption cases in recent memory -- from Gov. Don Siegelman in Alabama to Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois to New York state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to the myriad figures in the Jack Abramoff saga.


Theda Skocpol explains how congressional Republicans are intentionally holding up economic recovery until they can get back into office.


Another Fox moment of idiocy

In the simple-minded, bash-anything-Obama world of Fox News, the following is deemed to be razor sharp, inquisitive commentary.

"The President took a matter of hours to pick a commander in Afghanistan so why is it taking months to plug the leaking oil?"  – Brian Kilmeade Fox and Friends

…and five million idiots watching Fox stood up straight, scratched their heads in unison, grunted, shoved another ten Doritos into their face and asked, "Yeah, how come?"  Then they burped, took a deep mind-numbing sniff of their armpits and slouched back into their rocking chairs.  Life was good.


Does religion kill off brain cells?


Great news: CIA director: there may be less than 50 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan

And h/t Dick: Karzai holds secret talks with top militant.


Lowest bidder wins! Even if they're murderers, torturers and con men. "The head of CIA has defended awarding a large contract to the controversial security company formerly known as Blackwater. The director of the CIA, Leon Penatta, said the company's bid was US $26m less than its nearest rival. The contract, worth $100m, is to provide security at US consulates in the cities of Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. Blackwater guards allegedly opened fire on unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007 killing 17 people. In the wake of the killings, the company rebranded itself Xe Services. The company ended its operations in Iraq in 2009, in line with a ban by the government. The US government said in January 2009 that it would not renew the company's task orders."


Priorities ...

While they're cutting programs and services because we're broke, it seems like our endless wars will get every dime they demand:

As we are told that austerity is needed in government and we'll have to get less, it is becoming quite clear where our spending priorities lie.

We're going to be need another $33 billion for Afghanistan this year. So what's that, another couple dozen alleged Al Qaeda to chase around and ultimately toss around missiles at?

And everybody seems okay with that. In a time when over 10% of us don't have jobs, when the rich don't pay taxes, and the economy is on the brink of collapse, we see nothing wrong with spending tens of billions of dollars chasing a buncha goat humpers through the mountains in a place where history shows we cannot win. We're a nation of cowardly chickenshits.
h/t Fred:

Did you know that the words "race car" spelled backwards still spell "race car"?

That "eat" is the only word that, if you take the 1st letter and move it to the last, spells its past tense, "ate"?

And if you rearrange the letters in "so-called tea party Republicans," and add just a few more letters, it spells: "Shut the fuck up you free-loading, progress-blocking, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, violent, hypocritical douchebags, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and that our new president is black." 


                                         Polar Bear in Training to Become Area Rug


Well, if the media persist in calling Sarah Palin a rock star, she's going to continue to behave like one

...except omitting the talented musician part and leaving just the demanding, preening, petty, self-aggrandizing beeyotch part:

CBS 13 - screenshot 1

Yup, she's just an ordinary mom. Just like all those who can't put food on the table because they've lost their jobs. You know, those "spoiled" people that Palin pick for Nevada Senate Sharron Angle talks about.

And they wonder why we call them idiots?

More at
The smell of hypocrisy in the morning
The governors of Gulf Coast states, most of whom have been relentless promoters of offshore drilling, issued proclamations urging people to pray for the Almighty to step in and stop BP's underwater gusher.

Bobby Jindal has been kvetching about the ofkshore drilling moratorium and Haley Barbour has been complaining that the moratorium is "worse than the oil spill". That is when he hasn't been telling people that they should be coming to visit Mississippi because there's no oil there.

I've visited Mississippi. As far as I can see, the only reason to go to Mississippi is because an Interstate highway goes through it. Mississippi's main function in life is to give Georgians the ability to point and say "their schools are worse".[1] But I digress.

There is something deeply hypocritical about encouraging deep-water drilling and then, when it goes wrong, crying "who could have foreseen this ever happening" and then praying to G-d to "save us" from our own folly. Unlike a hurricane,[2] this is not a natural disaster or, as the insurance weasels put it, an "act of G-d". This disaster is 100% man-made and was caused by BP, a corporation whose culture encouraged disregarding safety protocols at every possible opportunity.

So, Barbour, Jindal and Perry, grab your log,
surf's up!

[1]The unofficial state motto of Georgia is "Thank the Lord for Mississippi and Alabama".
[2] Even with hurricanes, man-made fuckery makes things worse. The destruction of the coastal marshes in Louisiana has made that state far more vulnerable to hurricanes and much of that destruction was caused by cutting channels to make things easier for the oil drillers.
Beer Diplomacy 2

Notorious beer drinker and problem solver, President Carebear sees if lightening will strike twice, and shares a beer with UK King or whatnot, David Cameron, who is not the former king, Gordon Brown. It should be noted that while Obama offered Cameron an excellent beer, Cameron offered Obama a hobgoblin:

…Seated in dark leather chairs, with the G8 and G20 logo serving as a backdrop in the small room, Obama and Cameron satisfied a wager they had made on the U.S-Britain soccer match. 'Since it ended in a tie, we're exchanging, by paying off our debts at the same time, this is Goose Island 312 beer from my hometown of Chicago,' Obama said, holding a yellow-tagged bottle of beer. Cameron then handed his beer to a smiling Obama. 'This is Hobgoblin,' he said. 'I advised him that in America, we drink our beer cold,' Obama quipped. 'He has to put it in a refrigerator before he drinks it, but I think that he will find it outstanding.'

First the Brits try to destroy the Gulf of Mexico, beloved watery place where Bubba Jindal shakes-down America Chicago-style, and now they are releasing their beer goblins on the Carebear. Why do they hate America?


Libya will allow BP to begin drilling in its offshore deepwater region next month, despite the massive Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, the head of Libya's National Oil Co. said Sunday.


Thanks to Wonkette for saying what so many think…


In his New York Times column, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman warns we are in the early stages of a "third depression." "This third depression," he writes, "will be primarily a failure of policy" as the world's leading governments obsess "about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending."


They also announced they will extract oil from deep ocean reserves without using oil rigs or drills, because that's more feasible than cutting deficits in a recession without killing growth. "Leaders at the G20 summit in Canada have reached agreement on a deal to cut national budget deficits without stunting economic growth. Summit host Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the group's richest members should halve their deficits within three years. Correspondents note that every major G20 country had already committed to that target before the summit. Proposals for a global levy on banks have been dropped, Mr Harper said. Instead, that will be left to individual countries. Agreement was also reached, says the BBC's economics editor Stephanie Flanders, on an explicit commitment to agree new minimum levels of capital for banks in time for the next Summit in Seoul in November. Precise figures will not be reached until then, she says. The group of 20 leading and emerging nations had been split over the pace of budget cuts US President Barack Obama warned against fast and deep budget cuts, fearing damage to global growth."


Are ya scared yet, punk? Are ya?

Step One: Encourage horrific gambling by banks to send the economy into a tailspin and destroy millions of middle-class jobs.

Step Two: Prevent Democratic leaders from restoring those jobs through a sufficiently large stimulus, then prevent Democratic leaders from relieving the resulting suffering with extended unemployment benefits.

Step Three: Terrorize the citizenry with threats of further disaster unless they agree to destroy the remaining shreds of their social safety net by eliminating social security and slashing domestic spending.

Brilliant! And working like a charm.

Daniel Dayen at Firedoglake:

The America Speaks meetings held in 19 cities across the country today (Saturday), funded to the tune of $1 billion dollars by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, were a study in how subtle messaging and deficit hyping can mold and shape opinions that move the public toward right-wing solutions about slashing social spending. Despite an insistence of neutrality, organizers of this series of town hall meetings allowed their agenda to show through, particularly in their presentation of options for how to deal with the nation's fiscal future. But attendees in Los Angeles and around the country weren't totally buying it in the first half of the meeting.

Read the whole thing.

Digby concludes:

Dday also concurs with my earlier impression that this was a very slickly designed program to steer people worried about the economy toward cuts in the safety net, which we all know is the real purpose of this thing. (It's amazing what a billion dollars can do...) The people who attended were mostly earnest, decent citizens who are legitimately worried about the future of this country. And they are being led very methodically into a belief that the biggest threat to that future is government spending on social programs.

Fight the fuckers with facts: click here for the facts on Social Security, and here for the facts on the deficit.

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