Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7

Uh oh. Better scratch all that stuff you've heard about how Hillary Clinton is a heavy favorite in 2016, because Republicans have finally figured out the secret on how to take her down—and they're dishing out the secret to none other than Fox News:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Monday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put politics above security during the Sept. 11 attack last year on the U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya — this as lawmakers gear up for another hearing on Wednesday.

"I think it was political rather than security. But what boggles my mind is 4½ months after the fact, Secretary Clinton still had the gall to come here and perpetuate things that we know is common knowledge are simply not true," said Chaffetz, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Fox News.

Ouch! She had the gall to be political, unlike Republicans such as Chaffetz who have been single-mindedly focused on getting to the bottom of what really happened in Benghazi and why it proves Democrats hate America and want to cover up the actions of the terrorists with whom they obviously sympathize. Yeah, it's a dumb attack—just ask Osama bin Laden what he thinks about it. And part of what makes it so dumb is that it's not just transparently political, it's also patently ineffective.

The crime, allegedly, is that the administration didn't immediately denounce the attacks as acts of terrorism. You know, just like Mitt Romney famously did in his second debate with President Barack Obama. Setting aside for a moment the fact that these guys are way too obsessed with what amounts to a semantic exercise, the fact was that President Obama did call it a terrorist act.

I mean, there's a reason Obama said "please proceed" when Romney began his ill-considered attack, and it wasn't that he was afraid of what Romney was going to say. As we all now know, Romney face-planted. Republicans thought Benghazi was Christmas in September, but as we saw on election day, they were wrong.

Of course, the fact that they nonetheless believe Benghazi will be the end of Hillary Clinton shows that they still haven't figured out why Obama encouraged Romney to proceed. And when four years from now it turns out that Benghazi didn't deliver 2016 to the GOP on a silver platter, odds are history will repeat itself. Instead of coming to grips with the fact that they've been on a misguided political witch hunt all along, they'll convince themselves that they've retroactively stumbled on the key to victory in 2020.



NRA President Jim Porter: "It's Only A Matter Of Time Before We Can Own Colored People Again"


As each week passes we gain new insight into the irresponsibility of the West Fertilizer Company whose plant exploded in West, Texas, killing 14 and leveling part of the town.

McALLEN, Texas — The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.

Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it. [...]

Roberts said he expects the plant's owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

To recap — they didn't report over 500,000 pounds of explosive ammonium nitrate, they reported that there was no risk of fire or explosion at the plant, and the local emergency planning committee doesn't actually meet or plan anything. In fact, the head of the local emergency planning committee has never even heard of the local emergency planning committee.

And they have no insurance. At least not enough to even begin covering the cost of this preventable disaster. A tab that could end up being picked up by state or federal taxpayers, if at all.

This is your Small Government at work. The residents of West, Texas are suffering for your bumper-stickers.


Carrying a loaded weapon in public is illegal in Washington D.C., but libertarians areorganizing a penis-extension march on the nation's capital during the crowded July 4th holiday.

Almost 900 people are RSVPed for a July 4th march on Washington, D.C. where protesters plan to carry loaded rifles. In D.C., openly carrying guns is against the law. But the organizer of the event, libertarian radio host Adam Kokesh, says the march is an act of "civil disobedience" that attempts to prove gun advocates' point in the "SUBTLEST way possible."

The event's Facebook invitation describes the march as a nonviolent demonstration, "unless the government chooses to make it violent"

Pro-gun fetishists always tell me that we should follow current laws rather than establish new ones and this seems like a great opportunity to follow current law, but evidently they have chosen not to.

On the other hand, it's possible this march will never happen, because while they may talk tough and issue vague threats with phrases like "unless the government chooses to make it violent," I have zero belief that any of these dickless windbags have the guts to march on Washington with their rifles in protest where they will be arrested.

If they spend the night in jail they may miss out on the Lee Greenwood and BBQ.



Abduction, kidnap and rape victim Elizabeth Smart:

Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn't run "because of that alone."

Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."

I knew that abstinence-only sex ed was built on lies and ineffective, but I didn't quite understand how damaging it is to the girls who are subject to it.

Smart is now employed as an expert by ABC news, so it will be interesting to hear her take on the story of the three girls found in Cleveland, though I doubt it will top the great interview with the guy who found them.


Karzai Says He Was Assured C.I.A. Would Continue Delivering Bags of Cash
KABUL, Afghanistan — The C.I.A.'s station chief here met with President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, and the Afghan leader said he had been assured that the agency would continue dropping off stacks of cash at his office despite a storm of criticism that has erupted since the payments were disclosed.

The C.I.A. money, Mr. Karzai told reporters, was "an easy source of petty cash," and some of it was used to pay off members of the political elite, a group dominated by warlords.

The use of the C.I.A. cash for payoffs has prompted criticism from many Afghans and some American and European officials, who complain that the agency, in its quest to maintain access and influence at the presidential palace, financed what is essentially a presidential slush fund. The practice, the officials say, effectively undercut a pillar of the American war strategy: the building of a clean and credible Afghan government to wean popular support from the Taliban.

Instead, corruption at the highest levels seems to have only worsened. The International Monetary Fund recently warned diplomats in Kabul that the Afghan government faced a potentially severe budget shortfall partly because of the increasing theft of customs duties and officially abetted tax evasion.

On Saturday, Mr. Karzai sought to dampen the furor over the payments, describing them as one facet of the billions of dollars in aid Afghanistan receives each year. "This is nothing unusual," he said…

Which reminded me that I'd bookmarked, but never posted, a related article at the end of April:

KABUL, Afghanistan — It is always hard to gauge what diplomats really think unless one of their cables ends up on WikiLeaks, but every once in a while, the barriers fall and a bit of truth slips into public view…

…[O]ne of those rare truth-telling moments came at a farewell cocktail party last week hosted by the departing French ambassador to Kabul: Bernard Bajolet, who is leaving to head France's Direction Génerale de la Sécurité Extérieure, its foreign intelligence service.

After the white-coated staff passed the third round of hors d'oeuvres, Mr. Bajolet took the lectern and laid out a picture of how France — a country plagued by a slow economy, waning public support for the Afghan endeavor and demands from other foreign conflicts, including Syria and North Africa — looked at Afghanistan….

That the Afghan project is on thin ice and that, collectively, the West was responsible for a chunk of what went wrong, though much of the rest the Afghans were responsible for. That the West had done a good job of fighting terrorism, but that most of that was done on Pakistani soil, not on the Afghan side of the border. And that without fundamental changes in how Afghanistan did business, the Afghan government, and by extension the West's investment in it, would come to little.

His tone was neither shrill nor reproachful. It was matter-of-fact.

"I still cannot understand how we, the international community, and the Afghan government have managed to arrive at a situation in which everything is coming together in 2014 — elections, new president, economic transition, military transition and all this — whereas the negotiations for the peace process have not really started," Mr. Bajolet said in his opening comments…

"We should be lucid: a country that depends almost entirely on the international community for the salaries of its soldiers and policemen, for most of its investments and partly on it for its current civil expenditure, cannot be really independent."

I do not pretend to understand what these trends might portend in the larger world, but one thing's pretty clear: the Very Serious Persons responsible for publishing the NYTimes are beyond bored with the whole "Afghanistan (Graveyard of Empires) Adventure". As far as they're concerned, it's time to cut our losses and move the Risk markers to a new, less predictable failure arena. Syria? Iran? North Korea? Who cares, as long as it's novel!


Stupidest Shithole in America: Burkesville, Kentucky - (It's our fourth entry in this new series. The first three were Nelson, Georgia;Mississippi; and Dietrich, Idaho.) 

No, I'm not making light of the tragedy. Seriously, this is the sort of insanity we're dealing with:

Last Monday, Kristian Sparks and his sister, Caroline, visited a Fred's Super Dollar store here. A store manager recalled that it was an ordinary shopping trip, saying that the boy was outgoing and energetic, his little sister was cute and their grandmother was "like any grandmother — she bought them anything they wanted."

The next day Kristian, 5, shot and killed his 2-year-old sister with a gun marketed for children as "My First Rifle" in what the authorities said was an accident.

The death has convulsed this rural community of 1,800 in south-central Kentucky, where everyone seems to know the extended Sparks family, which is now riven by grief. But as mourners gathered for Caroline's funeral on Saturday, there were equally strong emotions directed at the outside world, which has been quick to pass judgment on the parents and a way of life in which many see nothing unusual about introducing children to firearms while they are still in kindergarten.

If you live in a place where it's a way of life for children to have their own guns, and if in that place the general response to a tragedy like this is to circle the wagons and emphasize that there's nothing wrong with children having their own guns, that there's nothing wrong with your way of life, then, let's be clear, you live in a shithole.


Heritage vs. Heritage: Major Immigration Report Released Today Directly Contradicts Its 2006 Study

Air Force Officer In Charge Of Sexual Assault Prevention Arrested For Sexual Assault

Texas House Approves 12 Firearms Bills To Put More Guns In Classrooms And Defy Federal Law


Remember when a Texas fertilizer plant exploded and showered its Freedom all over the town of West, Texas, teaching everyone a much-needed lesson on the uselessness of state regulations? Well the lesson is not over yet, because it turns out that the plant only had $1,000,000 in liability coverage and caused over $100,000,000 in damages.From the Dallas Morning News:

An attorney for United States Fire Insurance Co. of Morristown, N.J., confirmed Friday that West Fertilizer had $1 million in liability coverage "with no excess or umbrella coverage."

Fertilizer facilities like the one in West are not required to have liability insurance that would compensate for damage they might cause, state insurance officials say, even if hazardous material is on hand.

It's fine though, the free market system will step in and magically fix all the damages. Everyone knows that this is how it works. The town can take the million dollars and divide it between their lawyers, the plant's lawyers, the 200 injured people and the families of the fifteen who were killed. Your Wonkette is not good at math so help us out, what is $1,000,000 divided by two lawyers plus 200 injured plus fifteen dead people? Answer: "not very much."

States that have requirements often set amounts that "tend to be much less than the potential harm," [Tom] Baker, [insurance and risk expert at the University of Pennsylvania law school] said. When told about the $1 million, he said, "Wow. That's not very much, is it?"

No Tom, it is actually "not very much," thanks for helping out!

[Dallas News]

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