Wednesday, August 31, 2005

FoxNews: For the discriminating viewer.

It's not like this should surprise you in any way:

In an apparent attempt to head off inroads being made by the presence of FoxNews in Canada, CTV Newsnet has changed its format. Gone are the cumbersome sidebars that feed stock news and Canadian temperatures. There is a much smaller scrolling feed at the bottom of the screen. In addition to the aesthetic changes it appears as though more content will be fed LIVE to viewers - as is done on FoxNews. I applaud the changes even though it won't change my preference for FoxNews.

Yup, that's certainly how I choose my source of information for the outside world -- by the aesthetics of the scroll. Making that choice based on, say, actual content would be too much like, you know, work.

Just a master of the obvious, that George.

Where in God's name do these thoughts come from?

Bush viewed the disaster area Wednesday from Air Force One as he traveled to Washington from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said...

"It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground," Bush said.

Yes, George, I'll bet those folks on the ground are at least twice as upset as you are.

Brian: "Peter, do you ever listen to yourself?"
Peter: "Ah, I drift in and out."

Seriously open thread.

Sorry, I've been out of town for a couple of days, left the cats in charge of the computer. Anything exciting happen while I was ... JESUS CHRIST!!

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a scapegoat!

And to absolutely no one's surprise, Hurricane Katrina is the fault of ... the gays! But you knew that already, didn't you, Pete?

Oh oh ... somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.

Start with Cathie from Canada and follow the links.

... it isn't George's fault. It's never George's fault, is it? Apparently, the worst one can say about Commander Chimpy is that he showed poor judgment in photo-ops. That evisceration of the SELA budget was, of course, of no consequence.

Dear Katrina victims: the right wing thinks you suck.

Hey, Pete, how's this for your vaunted right-wing compassion? No, no, don't apologize -- it might make your head explode or something.

Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I even fucking bother.

BY THE WAY, Pete, regardless of what you think of my attitude or tone of voice, I've put my money where my mouth is and did my part for disaster relief in the way that I thought was most appropriate for me.

So, unless and until you and your sanctimonious, wind-bag colleagues over there on the right match that, you might consider just shutting the hell up for a change.

Well, now ... isn't THIS an interesting development?

British ally largely indifferent to U.S. Plight

No tributes, memorials

If British Prime Minister Tony Blair had not been vacationing in the Caribbean yesterday, it seems a safe bet he would have announced to the world that Britain feels deep sympathy for its freshly wounded ally, the United States.

He might have been wrong

In fact, to judge by the reaction of some Londoners yesterday to Katrina's rising death toll, Britons seem to feel the United States is overdrawn on sympathy.

In an online discussion group set up by The Guardian newspaper, for example, one man sneered that George W. Bush will "blame global warming, or 'ecological terrorism' for this extreme weather event." Another said the disaster will be all the worse because the National Guard, which so often helps in relief operations, "is in Iraq to provide for the comfort of U.S. occupation forces."

And there was much snickering over which wing nut televangelist will attribute the devastation of New Orleans to Genesis 6:13, in which God, about to flood the sinful Earth, tells Noah: "The end of all flesh is come before me ... behold, I will destroy them with the Earth."

Time to start slagging the Brits now, I guess, eh, Pete? Ready ... set ...

AFTERSNARK: You do, of course, appreciate the delicious hypocrisy of various right-wingers, having spent years slagging gays, immigrants, atheists and others and caring not in the least about tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, now seizing the moral high ground and accusing others of an alleged lack of compassion.

It would be funny if it weren't ... nah, it's just plain not funny.

No! Wait!

"Oooooooooh ... waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push ooooooon ... "

"No, sir, for the love of God, stop!!"

Dueling hyperbole, and a serious question about Katrina.

The war of ridiculous hyperbole continues, as Mississippi governor Haley Barbour sees CNN's Gary Tuchman's "hell on earth" and raises him one "Hiroshima after the atomic bomb." I'll bet that comparison went over well with the Japanese, who never got the chance to wait out the nuclear blast in their rowboats. (Thanks to commenter "South of the Border" for the link.)

But seriously, here's a bit of a puzzler. By all accounts, the eye of the storm actually missed the city of New Orleans -- most news reports describe it as having veered off just enough at the last minute to spare the city the dead-on hit that many were predicting.

And yet, most news reports also have those in charge of rescue and relief efforts describing the damage to the city as "unimaginable" or "overwhelming" or "totally beyond our worst fears."

I'm sorry but just how unprepared do you have to be to have the storm not as bad as it could have been, and still have damage beyond what you could have imagined? Sure, it's not an exact science but, really, who's running things down there?

: I'm moderately amused by Barbour's comparison of New Orleans to Hiroshima. I'm wondering if anyone's going to have the cojones to use a comparison like, "It's awful. Just pure devastation. It's like the city of Fallujah, after we bombed it and its helpless citizens into the Stone Age using massive, overwhelming, indiscriminate firepower against which they had absolutely no defense."

Never mind, it was just a passing thought. Carry on.

AND YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING: Still more brain-dead comparisons, this one courtesy of this morning's Globe and Mail:

Yesterday, a clearly shaken Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu compared Katrina's devastation to the Indian Ocean tsunamis that struck without warning and killed 200,000.

Mercifully, reporter Paul Koring immediately injects some reality back into the situation:

While some scenes of coastal devastation may look similar, there is a crucial difference: Before Katrina blasted ashore, it had been closely tracked for more than two weeks. There were clear warnings about the threat it posed and plenty of time to evacuate.

Yeah, so it was just like that big Asian tsunami thingie ... except for the ways that it was totally different.

I can't even blog on this anymore. I think I'll go back to beating up on creationists. Or Pete Rempel.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

All right, now we're getting somewhere.

April 11, 2005:

Bush declined to cut short his vacation after the southeast Asian Tsunami disaster, even as it became clear that it would be of epic proportions.

August 31, 2005:

As the devastation from Hurricane Katrina grew clearer Tuesday, President Bush decided to cut short his month-long vacation and return to Washington to oversee the response to what the White House called "one of the most devastating storms in our nation's history."

After attending ceremonies here to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II, Bush flew back to his ranch near Crawford, Tex., in the afternoon and prepared to leave for Washington on Wednesday morning, moving up his return to the capital by two days.

I guess that's progress.

We Canadians are a predictable bunch, aren't we?

August 30, 2005 -- The Government of Canada today issued the following statement in support of those who have endured the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the United States:

“On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as our sympathies to those who have suffered great losses and personal hardship,” said Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. “During this difficult time, we are offering our support to our friends and neighbours.”

The Deputy Prime Minister added that she has contacted U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and advised him that Canada stands ready to provide assistance if needed. In addition, the Minister of Health, Ujjal Dosanjh, has directed the Public Health Agency of Canada to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and offer any assistance that may be helpful, such as emergency medical supplies contained in the National Emergency Stockpile System...

You're welcome. Don't mention it.

Just in case you're bored and need something to read.

Tired of your own reality? Here, try this guy's (excerpted from a lengthy comment back here). I'm not even going to highlight the juicy bits.

Also, I'll touch on Iraq here, just to clear something up. Just because innocent people die doesn't make a war bad. Of course I wish that it didn't cost innocent lives to liberate a country, and I know that a life lost there is as important as a life lost in Mississippi in a hurricane. But making the argument that just because innocents are dying as a result of the war means that the war is bad is simplistic at best. As powerful as the US is, it doesn't have powers normally ascribed to deities - it can't remove Saddam and set up a functioning nation just by snapping its fingers. And that's always been the case - as successful as the post-WW2 rehabilitation of Germany and Japan were, those ran into many of the same problems that we face today for longer than we've faced them for(and I'm not even going to mention the staggering cost in blood it took to put the troops on that ground in the first place, a cost that we were thankfully spared this time).

But the standard in this war, even if you're looking at it from a perspective of pure humanitarianism, is not some mythological war where we could stop Saddam's brutal and oft-genocidal habits without getting our hands dirty or without inconveniencing people. The choices were US rule or Saddam's rule, and anyone who is even remotely familiar with the statistics can tell you that the US's rule is far preferable, even if it isn't perfect. Of course I wish that it could be better, and I wish that they had made fewer dumb mistakes in their post-war conduct. But as long as the US actually finishes the job, and sets up somethign approximating a modern, functioning democracy(and yes, it CAN be done), then the result is far, far preferable to the continued rule of a megalomaniacal dictator who thought nothing of grinding his citizens underfoot.

That's why I supported the war(well, it's one of the reasons, at least), and even if you choose to disagree with other aspects of it, or disagree with my figures, please don't assume that anyone on this side of the spectrum is being cavalier about thousands of dead innocents - it's a tough choice, and one where I wish there were better alternatives, but I'm standing behind the one that I believe will do the best job of eliminating human misery the fastest. And I hope that you can acknowledge that fact - just because we want the US to follow a course of action that you believe to be counterproductive doesn't mean that we're motivated by oil, malice, or the stupidity that it's too easy to attribute to people who oppose us. I believe in doing what is best for the world, as do you - don't try to assert otherwise, unless you're trying to say that I own a lot more shares in Texaco than I know about.

Be gentle.

"We're fighting them over there so we don't need to demonstrate a total lack of logic over here."

So, if you're fighting them over there so you don't have to fight them over here, and you really are fighting them over there, logically then you shouldn't need to be worried about fighting them over here, which makes all of this Patriot Act/extra surveillance/ethnic profiling/curtailing of civil liberties stuff unnecessary, no?

No, wait, come back ... do not let my devastating grasp of logical analysis frighten you off. I mean you no harm ...

Speaking of sympathy ...

I see Commander Chimpy is on top of things as usual.

International trade agreements, relatively speaking.

"We categorically reject the last three NAFTA tribunal decisions on softwood lumber, regardless of their legitimacy and their unanimity. We do not recognize the authority of such decisions, and wish to emphasize the overriding authority of the United States, in all matters, despite what such misguided judges might propose and ... hey, how about that judgment in our favour?"

Weasel Boy Watch: Day 7 and done.

Oh, dear. Apparently, we shouldn't be holding our breath for Weasel Boy to demonstrate any honesty or integrity. Boy, am I shocked or what?

As my long-suffering readers will recall, back here in the comments section, Weasel Boy got an absolute hard-on describing how military recruiting in the U.S. was just zipping along, peachy keen and all:

No, SID, you were right on the money with the military exceeding their recruiting goals. Just read about that today.

Sadly for WB, the source of much satisfied stroking over this in the rightwing wankersphere was a New York Post article by one Ralph Peters, which Peters was forced to quickly retract:

Correction: My article in yesterday’s paper (“The Real Iraq News”) contained a substantial error: The new-enlistment rates I cited were wrong...

Yeah, it's always kind of embarrassing when something you write has a "substantial error." None of which matters to our very own WB who, to this day, has yet to issue an update or correction to his grandiose claims, although he apparently does have the time to make a feeble attempt at humour to laugh it off.

I think maybe it's time for WB to give it a rest and give the keyboard back to Daddy.

Read my lips, Paula.

Jesus Christ, how dense can one human being be?

CNN's Paula Zahn spoke with her about what she saw.

ZAHN: When do you think you might be able to go home?

[SUZANNE] RODGERS: Well, I actually went home about an hour and a half ago. And there is no home to go to. The apartment complex that I lived in, which is on the beach in Ocean Springs, is totally leveled. There's nothing there anymore.

ZAHN: Totally leveled?

RODGERS: Not as much as...

ZAHN: Totally lost?

RODGERS: Totally lost. Totally lost.

Yes, Paula -- lost. Totally lost. What part of "totally" is such an intellectual challenge? Mercifully, it finally sinks in and ... Oh, Jesus Christ, no, it doesn't:

ZAHN: We should help the audience understand, you're talking about a storm that packed 135-mile-per-hour winds. But help us understand...


ZAHN: ... the construction of an apartment building, where the whole thing went out to sea? You said there's absolutely nothing left?

RODGERS: There's nothing left...

Coming soon: "So, Mrs. Krempf, you say your family was killed by the hurricane. All of them? Every single one? Not one survivor? Help us understand, all dead, down to the last child, right? No one else left alive, is that what you're saying?"

Just kill me now, Lord.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sorry ... whose interests are we talking about here?

Following some of the referring links to this brouhaha leads to some of the more entertaining and ill-considered opinions I've seen in a long while. Consider this screed in the comments section here:

You liberals don’t get it do you? You think the first priority for a President is to make sure everyone loves us. Well how nice and touchy-feely of you. Read the Constitution someday, and the responsibility of the Presidency. If that is too much for you to read then simply read the oath of office. It doesn’t state “…to make sure every other nation finds us to be sweetie pies…”.

The philosophy here seems to be one of, hey, we're just looking out for number one, that's our responsibility and it's the only thing that matters.

Of course, when Canada looked out after its own interest and decided to take a pass on the invasion of Iraq, we were, in the eyes of the American wankersphere, cowardly, traitorous back-stabbers who, since we weren't for them, were obviously against them and Canadian interests be damned.

If I tried to reason that way, I'm pretty sure the cognitive dissonance would kill me.

ABOUT THAT CONSTITUTION THING AND NAFTA ... Reader D.M. emails me with the following adorable snippet from said document, Article Six(emphasis added):

Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The prosecution rests.

Hurricane Katrina, by the numbers.

  • Estimated financial cost of Hurricane Katrina: $15-25 billion.

  • Current total cost of invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMDs in the first place: $192 billion. And climbing.

Man, I'll bet you wish you had some of that money back right about now, don't you?

Thoroughly morbid hurricane humour.

August 1, 2005: President Bush gets Presidential Daily Briefing entitled, "Hurricane Katrina determined to strike within the U.S."

August 2, 2005: President Bush begins five-week vacation in Crawford.

Oh, oh ... someone apparently didn't get the memo.

Whoops ... I'm betting Time magazine didn't clear this with the White House:

Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?

Warm ocean temperatures are a key ingredient for monster hurricanes, prompting some scientists to believe that global warming is exacerbating our storm troubles

Ooooooh ... I'll bet someone's going to be getting a miffed call from the Bush administration.

Hurricane Katrina: Let's get something straight, shall we?

I'm going to explain this once, and only once, and then I'm moving on, so pay attention.

Do I have a lot of sympathy for the folks that just got pounded by Hurricane Katrina? Frankly, not much, and here's why.

First, and really superficially, I am just totally hacked off with the U.S. at the moment. As I explained back here, after the schoolyard bully has been slapping you around for years, there's no way you can suppress a certain evil glee when they get their comeuppance. However, that alone in no way justifies the lack of sympathy since, as we all realize, my beef would be with the dickwads running that country and not the poor innocents living in the path of destruction. So what's the deal with them? I'm glad you asked.

Understand one thing -- those people are far and away in the best position of any country on the planet to survive a disaster like this. The U.S. has the most sophisticated weather tracking system in existence so there's no way any of those people couldn't have known what was coming down the pike.

Next, they have emergency response teams for assistance, as well as National Guard and Reserves to assist in evacuating everyone who needs help. And if you can't evacuate geographically, there will be numerous emergency shelters to take care of you. What all of this means is that, with the inevitable exceptions, of course, there's little reason for anyone to actually die in this thing, OK?

(There are, of course, exceptions to that rule. There will naturally be the pig-headed locals who will plant themselves firmly in the path of destruction, blithering on about how they've lived in this house for 58 years and, by God, they're not moving. These people are idiots and should not be mourned. And there will be the happy-go-lucky airheads who think the proper response is to throw a fucking hurricane party. I have no objection to this as I think a periodic cleansing of the gene pool is a good thing. But I digress. Onward.)

The point is that, after it's all over, there will be the inevitable grief-stricken homeowners on the evening news, pointing at where their house used to be, sobbing about how they've lost "everything." No, you haven't -- you're still alive, and that's a pretty big something. Most of the damage will be financial, and it will be traumatic and heartbreaking and all that, but people will pick up and carry on.

And few of them will ever twig to the fact that things wouldn't have been so bad if Commander Chimpy hadn't cut FEMA's budget or sent so much possible help overseas to get body parts blown off. (Not to get overly snarky or anything, but let's wait for the death toll figures to roll in and see whether those folks who weep openly for those who died in the storm are some of the same ones who aren't all that fazed by 1800+ dead soldiers in Iraq. That's a homework assignment, by the way.)

Particularly galling, however, will be the shock-and-awe tones emanating from every American newscast, like this piece of swill from CNN's Gary Tuchman:

Authorities in Gulfport, Mississippi, told CNN's Gary Tuchman that 10 feet of water covered downtown streets.

"Because the water is so deep, boats are floating up the street," Tuchman said. "There is extensive damage here. This is essentially right now like hell on earth."

No, Gary, you pretentious media whore, it's not like "hell on earth." It's a shitload of water and lots and lots of property damage. You want hell on earth? Here, let me show you hell on earth:

The battle for Fallujah continued today with US warplanes, artillery and mortars attacking the Sunni city as bloody urban warfare on the ground entered a second week...

A Reuters correspondent said he saw bloated and decomposing bodies in the streets, smashed homes, ruined mosques and severed power and telephone lines. Several accounts say bodies found were being eaten by dogs and cats...

The Iraqi Red Crescent - one of the few aid agencies operating in Iraq - is still negotiating with U.S. forces after being denied access to Fallujah. It says it knows of at least 150 families trapped inside the city in desperate need of food, clean water and medical supplies. One Iraqi father in Fallujah told Reuters that his children were sick from diarrhea and had not eaten for days.

That, Gary, is hell on earth. Having to hang out in an emergency shelter for a while and returning to a waterlogged home? That's just comparatively a real piss-off, so why don't you just put a sock in it?

There will, of course, be weeks of wailing and moaning from Gulf Coast residents, describing how they've lost everything. In the first place, folks, you live on the Gulf Coast. Have you not noticed the weather trends there? And, secondly, no matter how bad it seems, a lot of the rest of the world doesn't have the luxury of high-tech satellite tracking, National Guard and Reserves for preparation, well-stocked emergency shelters and a Federal Emergency Management Agency to bail them out afterwards.

Feel free to be all broken up about it, but at least appreciate that it could be a hell of a lot worse if you lived elsewhere. In short, stop whining.

And, by the way, chances are, despite how your asshole of a president has pissed off just about everyone else on the planet, other countries will probably still graciously offer to chip in with whatever help they can provide. You might consider saying thanks for a change.

UPDATE: In a delightfully timely way, Bob Geiger documents all of the Louisiana Reserve and National Guard who might have been useful if they hadn't been busy overseas dodging bullets. Feeling safer yet?

: Atta girl, Ms. Z.

Dear Red States: God hates you.

Tongue firmly in cheek, of course. (Hat tip to commenter Lori for the link.)

Sorry, what was all that "hoist by their own petard" stuff?

Oh, man, this is just too delightful:

Venezuela to Seek Legal Action Against Robertson

Caracas, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his government would take legal action against Pat Robertson and potentially seek his extradition after the U.S. evangelist called for Washington to assassinate the South American leader.

Just pull up a comfortable chair, this should be entertaining.

OOOOOH ... Apparently, there's really something to this.

Oh, Jesus, even *I* couldn't have imagined this.

The Amazing Wonderdog wades into all things Katrina-related, pointing out a post by Dopey in the Great White North in which Dopey seems to be wondering whether we Canadians are going to chip in for restoration work after Katrina.

To which I reply, "Sure, we'll contribute $100 million to the effort. Now you owe us only $4.9 billion. Deal?"

Yeah, Katrina's going to be a disaster, and whose fault is THAT?

And while everyone is busy inventing new superlatives for the fall-out from Hurricane Katrina, let's take a moment to consider those folks -- the poor, the uninsured, those with no health coverage, those completely unprepared for this kind of devastation -- and figure out just how they got that way.

Here's a hint:

Bush Budget: Sacrificing All Else to Tax Cuts

... The President's Tax Cut Still Mainly Benefits the Most Fortunate While Many Working Families Receive Nothing — The President continues to advocate a package of tax cuts that would award almost half of the benefits to the top one percent of the income distribution. Families who pay substantial payroll taxes but no income tax would receive no tax relief from the Bush tax cut...

Medicaid Cuts — Like the February Blueprint, the 2002 April budget cuts Medicaid spending by $606 million in 2002 relative to current law...

The Budget Eliminates the Community Access Program (CAP) for the Uninsured
— The April budget eliminates the CAP program entirely. The program allows health care providers such as community health centers and public hospitals that serve those who are under- or un-insured to coordinate and integrate access to health care services for them ....

The Budget Cuts Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — The budget cuts funding for CDBG, which provides funds for development for low- and moderate-income communities, $516 million (10 percent) below the level needed to maintain current services.

The Budget Cuts Economic Development Assistance Administration (EDA) — The budget cuts funding for EDA, which provide grants to alleviate unemployment and underemployment in distressed communities, $86 million (20 percent) below the level needed to maintain current services.

The Budget Cuts Community Development Financial Institutes (CDFI) Fund — The budget cuts appropriations to the CDFI Fund, which helps finance economic development in distressed communities, $52 million (43 percent) below the level needed to maintain current services.

Oh, and you have to absolutely love this one:

The Budget Cuts Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — The budget cuts funding for FEMA's disaster relief program $258 million (16 percent) below the level needed to maintain current services.

Sometimes, it's not always an act of God. Sometimes, the Republicans lend a helping hand.

Time to move this discussion elsewhere.

Given the (completely justifiable) concern that this little Katrina-related fracas will tar the entire Progressive Bloggers community, I figure it's in everyone's best interest if I remove myself from the PB blogroll. I'm not done with this topic yet by any means, but I'm well aware that there are members of the PB community that aren't happy with my postings, and they're entirely within their rights to feel that way.

Ergo, I'll just ask Scott to drop my membership. If you want me, hey, you know where to find me.

No, stop! You're killing me!

And just in case you don't have enough irony in your life yet, there's this, from back in February:

The Bush administration's fiscal year 2006 budget proposal slashes total federal spending on the environment and natural resource conservation by more than 10 percent.

The greatest single cuts ($700 million) are to federal payments to a joint state-federal fund that underwrites projects to improve water quality and helps poor communities build waste-water treatment plans and other water projects.

It also proposes cuts to the discretionary budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 5.6 percent ($500 million cut); a $750 million cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $333 million decline in spending for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hmmmm ... oceans ... the atmosphere ... you know, the people who do stuff like, say, tracking hurricanes.

But that's cool, since I'm assuming that all those soon-to-be homeless, impoverished, uninsured residents of the Gulf Coast can take solace in the fact that, no matter how bad off they are, gays still can't get married.

It's all good, then.

And the irony just goes on and on ...

From back in July of this year, we had this ominous prediction:

The 2004 hurricane season was one of the worst on record and forecasters predict this year could be even worse...

Wow. And what might be responsible for that? Oh ...

Climate change could make future hurricanes stronger, but whether the effect is measurable is still a matter of debate. It is also unknown whether it will change the total number of storms.

Kevin Trenberth from the National Center for Atmospheric Research claims that warmer oceans and increased moisture could intensify the showers and thunderstorms that fuel hurricanes.

Right. Global warming. The global warming that the current Bush administration still doesn't believe exists.

My head hurts just trying to absorb the doublethink in all of this.

BY THE WAY ... where exactly is Commander Chimpy while all this bad craziness is going down all along the Gulf Coast? Ah, here he is, zipping off to Arizona and California to talk about Medicare. Always on top of things, that Chimpy.

Just when you think you're prepared for the worst ...

I don't know whether to call this irony, really bad timing or just plain universal karma:

Oil prices surged to a record above $70 a barrel before easing Monday as one of the biggest hurricanes in U.S. history churned through the Gulf of Mexico, forcing major oil producers and refiners to shut down operations...

Despite easing, Katrina -- the 11th named storm of what is expected to be an unusually severe season -- threatens to do lasting damage to vital U.S. oil and refining assets in the Gulf of Mexico, further straining an industry that has struggled to keep up with two years of strongly rising oil demand...

The Gulf of Mexico normally pumps about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of U.S. crude, a quarter of domestic output and equivalent to nearly 2 percent of global oil production, similar to the estimated spare capacity left within OPEC.

"We can expect two months of lost production, and coming in the peak-demand period this is the worst possible news," said David Thurtell, strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

At this point, you have to wonder, what else can go wrong?

Weasel Boy Watch, Day 6.

Still lying to his readers. Still no correction.

If you're looking for sympathy, you're knocking on the wrong door.

Oh, yawn. Apparently, fellow progressive blogger Joe is all up in arms over my apparent lack of compassion for the good folks of the Gulf coast, given that Hurricane Katrina seems about ready to redesign their landscape big time. To which I can, with a perfectly clear conscience, say, when it comes to things American, I've pretty much run out of said sympathy, natural disasters or otherwise.

From the ballistic missile defense program, to wanting to inflict their "no-fly" list on us, to banning Canadian beef, to illegal tariffs on softwood lumber, to Marc Emery, there's been an overwhelming attitude of pure thuggishness rolling up from the States lately, not just from the administration but from a lot of the media and even more of its citizens. Soviet Canuckistan, indeed.

Is the Gulf Coast in for a pounding? By all accounts, you bet. But at least its citizens had the freedom to, way ahead of time, jump in their gaz-guzzling land yachts and head for higher/dryer ground, unlike the citizens of, say, Fallujah in Iraq, many of whom were forced to hunker down in their bombed-out houses while American bombs and missiles rained down around them. If you're keeping score, I'd say the residents of Louisiana won that little comparison, no?

This piece over at CNN describes the potential looming devastation, writing:

Flooding expected from Hurricane Katrina could wreak catastrophe on New Orleans, overwhelming its water and sewage systems, damaging its structures and leaving survivors in a bowl of toxic soup, a top hurricane expert said Sunday.

Well, gosh, comparatively speaking, I wonder if that would be more or less toxic than, say, having your country's landscape saturated with depleted uranium from unceasing military strikes? Just asking.

And there's no doubt any rebuilding job is going to be that much harder, given that the normal manpower for this -- the Reserves and the National Guard -- have been stretched painfully thin, what with so many of them having been shipped off to Iraq. There's some irony for you -- "I'm sorry, we'd love to help with the emergency rescue work but we're kind of busy occupying this country, killing its citizens and destroying its entire infrastructure." I'll bet no one saw that coming.

Will there be suffering? Sure, but I'm betting it's not a "Maher Arar, shipped to Syria and tortured for months in a prison cell" kind of suffering.

It's also amusing that that previous CNN link was titled "Katrina may be 'our Asian tsunami'", given that the U.S.'s pathetic first response to the actual Asian tsunami was an embarrassing $35 million, while the cost of Commander Chimpy's inauguration was estimated at some $40 million. If the United States was looking for sympathy, they might not have wanted to remind everyone of their own miserly attitude towards other countries' disaster victims.

Of course, it's quite possible the rest of the world may chip in and help out. The Bush administration can always get their man at the U.N., John Bolton, to put out a call for assistance. I mean, given the friends he's made so far, how could any of those countries refuse? (That was sarcasm, for the current events-impaired.)

And if Katrina does even a fraction of the potential damage that's been predicted, fer shure, there's going to be a massive rebuilding effort needed, which would include, one would think, lots and lots of wood. To which the Canadian government should announce, "Well, we'd like to help but with these softwood lumber negotiations being as delicate as they are, I think the proper response is to roll up our sleeves, get back into that meeting room and hammer out an agreement, no matter how long it takes. And we, of course, should try to avoid any emotional tirades like, 'For God's sake, help us, please!!!'"

Do I feel any sympathy for the unfortunate citizens of the Gulf Coast? Sure, to some extent. But then I remind myself of how, when the chips are down, Canada is always willing to open its arms in an emergency and how, in return, we get slagged at every opportunity by so many assholes to the south of us.

So I'm just not wasting any more sympathy. If the Americans want help, let them pray for it. Like I said before, I'm sure Pat Robertson would be happy to help.

P.S. And, by the way, feel free to get your cheap drugs elsewhere.

P.P.S. And having grown up in Manitoba, don't think I haven't noticed this little indignity.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Orleans is sinkin', man ...

... and I don't wanna swim. Apparently, God is really pissed with red states these days. I'm thinking that a lot of those folks are going to be needing lumber for rebuilding after all this is over. What a coincidence.

Maybe Pat Robertson could help out, if he's not too busy:

In his own inimitable style, Pat's first newsworthy statement to the New York Times indicated he had a divine endorsement. In June, Pat had led a prayer vigil urging God to spare Virginia Beach from the wrath of Hurricane Gloria. Perhaps God was listening, because Virginia Beach was spared. (But then again, Gloria landed on Long Island and Boston, inflicting $320 million in damage. Couldn't God have simply caused the storm to dissipate?) Anyway, Pat told the Times that the event was "extremely important because I felt, interestingly enough, that if I couldn't move a hurricane, I could hardly move a nation."

So, Pat, if all kinds of bad shit goes down here, we can assume it's all your fault, right?

Chickenhawk redux.

When James Wolcott smacks you, you stay smacked.

Forgiveness: it's not for everyone, you know.

(CC News) -- In a touching demonstration of compassionate conservatism, right-wing blogger "Right Ho" has suggested that, since Pat Robertson has apologized for his call to assassinate democratically-elected Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, he should be forgiven and that his apology "effectively brings this episode to an end."

"Sure," said Right Ho, "Robertson first lied about making that suggestion. And, yes, he then changed his story and claimed that it was just some off-the-cuff adlibbing. And, sure, he didn't actually apologize on the show but just on his web site."

"But," continued Ho, "I think it's the underlying intent that's important, that even if he was a complete sleazebag and liar, that we find it in our hearts to accept his mealy-mouthed, pathetic apology, forgive him and move on."

In unrelated news, Ho was still calling for the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton, describing him as a lying, hypocritical scumbag whose apology meant nothing and who should be tossed into prison to rot for the rest of his life although, to his credit, Ho was prepared to compromise on whether or not Clinton deserved the death penalty.

Barbarism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

And just what has right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin (or "Crazy-Assed Bitch" as she's known to her friends) all fired up these days? It's this -- the beatings of three American soldiers she describes as an "outrageous act of barbarism."

Keep in mind, this outrage is coming from the author of this. Yes, let the irony wash over you slowly.

Just how freakin' stupid are some of these Blogging Tories?

Well, that wasn't long in coming, was it? Apparently, there's a new meme in the Wankersphere, explaining how it's not such a big deal that batshit crazy evangelical Pat Robertson called for the political assassination of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez 'cuz, ya see, several years ago, Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos suggested killing Saddam Hussein. And, sure, you can see how these two situations are completely equivalent.

On the one hand, we have Saddam Hussein, brutal dictator who invaded Kuwait prompting the First Gulf War, constantly threatened America and its interests and tortured and killed numerous of his own citizens.

On the other hand, you have Chavez, the freely and fairly-elected leader of his country, who ran on a mandate to share his country's oil riches with the less fortunate of its citizens. Yeah, I get the two of them confused all the time as well.

I need to come up with another word here, as "stupid" doesn't begin to do these folks justice. And, no, I'm not done here, but I can only deal with overwhelming idiocy in bite-size pieces.

Yup, Weasel Boy still lying to his readers.

Let's just call it Day 5 of the Weasel Boy Watch, where WB still hasn't informed his readers of this correction.

And the waiting begins ...

, Weasel Boy's not the only one playing fast and loose with the numbers.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

How do I hate the mainstream media? Let me count the ways.

Over at Media Matters, there's an amusing piece on how Hardball host Chris Matthews was interviewing the Rev. Jerry Sutton on Pat Robertson's latest idiocy, where the theme of that MM piece is how Sutton refused to admit that Robertson had used the word "assassinate," even after Matthews emphasized that he did. Go read it. Take your time. I'll wait.

I hope you see Media Matters' point since, quite simply, they blew it. The fact that another Christian minister is just another cheap sleazebag is not news. What is news, though, is the sheer incompetence of Matthews in not making sure Sutton was prepared before coming on the show.

Witness the following exchange (emphasis added):

MATTHEWS: I want to start with the Reverend Jerry Sutton, who is an evangelical minister. And he's a wonderful host to us when we went down to visit his great church down there in Nashville. What do you -- what should we make of Pat Robertson when he says one day, go kill that guy, and, the next day, says, never mind, like he is Gilda Radner saying, you know, never mind? Should we take him seriously?

SUTTON: Chris, I think that, in the situation here, that Pat was speaking off-the-cuff. Actually, he was speaking as political commentary. I don't -- from what I read in the transcript -- I didn`t see the show. I read the transcript. He sure seemed to me to be someone who was basically speaking as a frustrated American, more than an evangelical leader.

What the hell? He didn't see the show? Then what was he doing on Hardball, fer Chrissake?

If Matthews is going to invite some evangelical dingbat onto his show to discuss Robertson, how is it possible that he didn't set things up properly first, as in:

"Hey, Rev. Sutton? Chris Matthews here. Look, we want an evangelical perspective on Pat Robertson's recent comments, and we'd like you to be a guest. So we want to make sure you've seen the show in question, and read the transcript so you're in a position to talk about it.

"What's that? You haven't seen the show yet? How could you have missed it, it's been replayed about 8,000 times on every major network on the planet.

"No problem, we'll get you a transcript and a video copy, just make sure you've reviewed them thoroughly before you show up since I'll be asking your opinion, understand? Great."

But no. Sutton shows up, then pleads ignorance and gets to weasel out of taking a stand. This is not Sutton's fault, he's just your run-of-the-mill religious dingbat. Matthews, on the other hand, should have known better. He just pooched this one, big time.

And Media Matters should have been smart enough to call Matthews on it.

Breaking news on the Coalition of the "Thanks for coming, now piss off, OK?"

You know, you'd think that having pissed off almost everyone on the planet, Commander Chimpy would at least try to hang onto the few allies he has left. Well, you'd think wrong:

Britain will join an international alliance to confront George Bush and salvage as much as possible of an ambitious plan to reshape the United Nations and tackle world poverty next week.

The head-to-head
in New York on Monday comes after the revelation that the US administration is proposing wholesale changes to crucial parts of the biggest overhaul of the UN since it was founded more than 50 years ago...

The Foreign Office confirmed yesterday that Britain was standing behind the original plan, putting it at odds with Mr Bush...

Dear American troops: I'd say that, fairly soon, you're going to be pretty much on your own over there in Iraq. Try to avoid those little mounds on the road that have the wires trailing from them. I hear they're bad news.

Ambassador Wilkins, softwood and a good swift one to the nads.

My dear Ambassador Wilkins:

Can I call you "Dave"? Great. Now, Dave, we seem to have a bit of a problem in that you're apparently not thrilled with my standing here, repeatedly hoofing you in the nuts and you really, really want to me to stop.

That's fair, I can certainly understand that. I sure wouldn't be thrilled if someone was doing that to me, it being pretty freakin' painful and all, but let's not rush to judgment, shall we?

While I continue laying into your old family jewels there, I'm sure we can both appreciate the delicacy of these negotiations, right? Being a politician, I'm sure you understand how tricky this can get and how we have to consider every possibility in bringing this issue to a mutually satisfying close.

I did like that earlier idea of yours to ask some passers-by what they thought and I guess I'm not surprised that they were pretty shocked at what I was doing. All three of them were pretty adamant that I should knock it off but, hey, they were just independent, unbiased observers, what the hell would they know? Sure, we could ask yet another person, but I get the feeling I'm not going to like their opinion either, so what's the point?

The important thing to remember, Dave, as I keep wailing on you, is that we need to roll up our sleeves, get into that meeting room and, in good faith, discuss this some more, with me beating on you the whole time, right? Now's not the time for "emotional tirades," like that earlier one of yours when you screamed, "Jesus Christ, please stop kicking me in the nuts, for God's sake!!!" That's the sort of excitability that can kill the negotiating process.

One possibility is that we could, of course, compromise. Perhaps we could agree that I could just hoof you in the nuts half as often, or maybe only on alternate days. What do you think? In any event, we'll just have to keep at it, both of us. Let me know what you think, I'm always open to suggestions.


Bush administration failure number 4,913.

Oh, look. That can't be good.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Nads, meet reality.

It's Friday, so it must be time to slap Weasel Boy upside the head again. From the comments section here, we have WB all puffed up over military recruiting and quotas:

... you were right on the money with the military exceeding their recruiting goals. Just read about that today.

Anyone wanna bet Weasel Boy reads the New York Post?

Correction: My article in yesterday’s paper (“The Real Iraq News”) contained a substantial error: The new-enlistment rates I cited were wrong. The Army is still falling short on new enlistments. I deeply regret the mistake. But the numbers on the inspiring re-enlistment rates of our combat soldiers — the central issue of the column — were correct. I stand behind every word I wrote about the patriotism, commitment and valor of our troops. — RALPH PETERS


Now THERE's some free trade irony for you.

Who needs the funny pages when you have this?

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins says Canadian politicians should stop their ''emotional tirades'' and order the country's trade representatives back to the bargaining table to reach a final settlement on softwood lumber...

''Canada needs to come back to the table. We need to close the door, roll up our sleeves and negotiate as need be, with good faith, and bring finality to it,'' Mr. Wilkins said.

"Best four out of seven? Come on, be a pal, best four out of seven ... Shit. OK, five out of nine? Be a sport, will ya, five out of nine ..."

"Equal time" and right-wing hypocrisy.

Over here, a few folks are starting to twig on the sheer, unadulterated brilliance of my strategy to counter the right wing's ceaseless yapping for "equal time" in the classroom for Intelligent Design (or as we in the post-Enlightenment universe refer to it, "ignorant wanker rubbish").

The trick, of course, is to turn the argument around and use it against said ignorant wankers, such as with the example I suggested regarding sex education.

Sadly, too many people who should know better try to counter the "equal time" argument by offering up proposals like, "Well, maybe we should teach astrology in astronomy classes, then. Or maybe dowsing in geology courses." And so on. Quite simply, those arguments are non-starters and just make one look kind of like a dick.

The only effective rebuttals are those for which the issues are currently hot buttons for the right wing, as with the example I gave regarding sex education.

Another delightful example would be the topic of homosexuality in the public school system. Consider the state of Alabama, the majority of whose citizens aspire to someday walk upright and have opposable thumbs:

A college production tells the story of Matthew Sheppard, a student beaten to death because he was gay.

And soon, it could be banned in Alabama.

Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."

(Naturally, it's not "censorship," it's just ... preventing other people from having access to certain materials you find offensive. See the difference?)

But, golly gee, shouldn't students be shown both sides of the story? Shouldn't they have all the evidence? Shouldn't there be "equal time" in the interests of academic fairness? Gee, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear that Republican Allen is a worthless, hypocritical sleazebag with the intellect of a sack of rocks.

And it doesn't even stop with banning gay-oriented books. From a few years back:

USA, Oklahoma - If some lawmakers in Oklahoma have it their way, "homosexuals or lesbians" will not be allowed to adopt or be allowed to work in a school.

The "logic" here is that gay teachers will try to recruit or seduce vulnerable students to the homosexual lifestyle. But, hey (and you know what's coming), how can those students choose wisely unless they get both sides of the argument? Equal time, I say! Academic fairness, I say! Sex toys for everyone, I say! No ... wait ... wrong argument. Never mind.

Anyway, you get the idea. Feel free to try out these strategies, and report back with the results. Class dismissed.

BY THE WAY ... it's not like you need even more evidence of right-wing hypocrisy but, when it comes to refusing to allow all points of view to be heard, it's hard to top the U.S.'s family planning-related "Global Gag Rule," which mandates that:

... no U.S. family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to: perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the woman’s life, rape or incest; provide counseling and referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country.

Called the "gag" rule because it stifles free speech and public debate on abortion-related issues, the policy forces a cruel choice on foreign NGOs: accept U.S. assistance to provide essential health services – but with restrictions that may jeopardize the health of many patients – or reject the policy and lose vital U.S. funds, contraceptive supplies and technical assistance.

No, no, don't thank me, I'm just doing my job.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"Too busy to comment"? OK, let's play that game, shall we?

In a stunning development in which all of the Traditional Values Coalition, Family Research Council and Christian Coalition finally shut the hell up for a change, all three of those collections of fundamentalist waterheads begged off taking a position on Pat Robertson's call for political assassination, all claiming they were "too busy."

Now, let's cut them some slack. Perhaps, just perhaps, they were poring over some high-school text books, trying to learn introductory biology or something.

Oh, geez, sometimes I really crack me up.

But, seriously, let me make a simple suggestion for the media. Starting right now, no one (and I mean no one) should publish a word of what any of these creepy, hypocritical fascists has to say. No commentary, no press releases, on any topic ... nothing, until they do comment on Robertson.

If they're too busy, well, fine. We can wait. And when they stop being so busy, there's an open question on the floor and we're not going anywhere until it's resolved.

It's aggravating that you can rarely get these folks to shut the fuck up, and now, when you actually want their opinion, they clam right up. No one should tolerate this. All of them should be effectively blacklisted from the media until they make it clear where they stand.

Um ... about that "equal time" argument in the classroom ...

I realize this is belabouring the obvious but, to my American readers, when some right-wing dipstick starts yammering on about presenting "both sides" of the evolution controversy in the classroom, ask them whether it's all right to similarly present "both sides" of sex education -- that is, the obvious alternatives to those ridiculous "abstinence-only" programs.

Come on, folks, I shouldn't have to explain this stuff to you.

"Yes, you're all entitled to my opinion."

Ooooooooh ... someone's a bit touchy about dissenting opinions apparently. As Dave describes it in the comments section back here:

Oh man! I just checked in on the comment I made on Weasel Boy's blog, and he erased it. These guys just can't tolerate a dissenting opinion. Really downright UnAmerican!

Yes, the people who want "both sides" presented in science class and who think it's only fair to give students all the evidence regarding evolution are the very same ones who really don't give a shit what you think.

What a totally unexpected development.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Iraq: In summary, then ...

Yes, it's cruel, but oh so much fun to summarize the track record of the neo-con claims for Iraq and the Global War on Terror. Feel free to play along at home:

  • Iraq behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11? Nope.

  • Iraq in possession of, or close to manufacturing, weapons of mass destruction? Nope.

  • Invasion of Iraq to be a cakewalk? Uh, nope.

  • Total reconstruction costs for Iraq not to exceed $1.7 billion? Um ... hardly.

  • Invasion of Iraq possible with streamlined forces and limited troop numbers, because of the awesome efficiency of American troops? Not so far.

  • No casualties whatsoever? Oh, puhleeze.

  • Removal of Saddam Hussein to usher in an era of freedom and democracy for Iraqi citizens? Still waiting.

  • Overthrow of tyrannical ruler of Iraq to send clear signal to other Mid-East governments, particularly to Iran to put those troublemakers in their place? Oh, yeah ... as we speak.

Don't stop here ...

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: Oh, Lord, how could I have missed this one?

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that," [Rumsfeld] said in an hour-long radio interview for Infinity Broadcasting.

It might be easier to ask if there was a single thing these buffoons got right about this war, no?

Oh, yeah ... things in Iraq right on schedule.

And I'm sure the neo-con cabal all saw this coming:

Anticipating an increase in insurgent attacks, the United States plans to send more troops to Iraq in advance of an Oct. 15 referendum on a new Iraqi constitution, which is considered unlikely to halt the country's violence, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.

So the neo-con record is ... oh-for-everything. Quelle surprise.

Dear Americans: About that Second Amendment "right to bear arms" thing ...

I think this guy made a couple of good points:

The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facilee means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

Now, it's not like I'm suggesting anything here but ... the right to bear arms ... unprincipled, tyrannical government ... can't be too hard to connect those dots, can it?

Careful, partner ... there's a new meme in town.

There's a new self-serving rationale running loose in the streets of East Wankerville these days, and it's how all of those gung-ho, pro-war, 101st Fighting Keyboarders who don't actually want to, you know, fight in person aren't really a bunch of gutless, lily-livered, wimp-ass, chickenshit, cowardly hypocrites. Not really.

And who better to explain the nuances of gutless, chickenshit hypocrisy than Weasel Boy himself:

Many liberals like to trot out the old "if you support President Bush and the war in Iraq so much, why haven't you enlisted, chickenhawk" line as if it is the end all and be all of comebacks. It actually is lacking in both logic and reason. I think this person on CQ put it well in the first comment to this post:

The whole chickenhawk argument is ludicrous anyway.

I have no intention of joining the fire dept., but when I see a house burning down I expect those that did to handle it. I have no intention of ever becoming a cop, but I think those that did should attempt to stop a bank robbery. In either case, the need for professionals to perform the functions they volunteered for and trained to do is obvious to me, and I don't see why expecting them to perform their function requires me to be willing to perform it as well.

So all you liberals who think the whole "chickenhawk" bit is a slam-dunk, I suggest you think about why you haven't joined the fire and police departments if you support the fighting of fires and crimes. By your own "logic" (such as it is), you're hypocrites.

Have at it. This one's so easy, it isn't even challenging.

P.S. And don't forget to read the adorable comments, like this one:

Enlistments are up, recruiters are exceeding their quotas, and I'd be willing to bet that MOST of these new recruits (around 90 percent, give or take a few percentage points) ARE young Republicans. The military has always been somewhere around 80-90 percent Republican for many decades now. If the military suffers from a lack of something, it isnt a lack of Republicans signing up.

I don't make this stuff up. I don't have to.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Not one of your smarter investments.

"My loved ones went to Iraq, and all I got was this lousy $1.3 trillion debt. Oh, and a bunch of dead soldiers. That, too."

"OH ... and a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. But that was just a bonus."

"Intelligent design" oozes into Kitchener-Waterloo.

And a heads-up from Matt B., who blogs on an op-ed piece in today's Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Go read. Then give the Record the butt-kicking it deserves.

There's a reason I rarely read newspapers any more. That's one of them. It's also a lesson that philosophers shouldn't be allowed to talk about real science.

More detailed smackdown to follow.

And that's the sound of the other shoe dropping.

A little while back, annoying leg humper and right-wing chew toy Pete Rempel spake thusly:

Apparently you don't know what a trick question is. Is pulling out of Gaza the right thing to do?

Pete was clearly annoyed that I wasn't prepared to heap effusive praise on Israel for yanking the settlements out of the Gaza Strip and, for the life of him, he just couldn't understand my reluctance.

That's because, unlike Pete, I am a patient man, and I was waiting for the inevitable. And here it is:

As the last of the 8,500 Jewish settlers who once inhabited the Gaza Strip boarded buses to return to Israel yesterday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signalled again that he plans to expand, not dismantle, key settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Just before Israeli soldiers and police cleared out the last of 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Sharon declared that no one should expect to see a repeat in the West Bank.

Mr. Sharon -- who has lost much of his right-wing support base over his Gaza "disengagement" plan -- said Israel would expand, not dismantle, its settlements in the West Bank.

"I will build," he said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post. "This is something you will see in a short time, that there will be no second disengagement."

There you go, Pete. So much for good intentions, no? God, I love being right.

Sure, it's just marijuana NOW ...

... but (via TBogg), this is the sort of shit you might look forward to if you let the Americans start running the justice system up here. And, no, I'm not being paranoid -- those really are black helicopters, aren't they?

Monday, August 22, 2005

People too freakin' stupid to read -- part 1,734.

So let's check in on Weasel Boy and see what sort of pathetic, Christ-inspired martyrdom he's wallowing in this week. Whoa, what's this? Apparently, WB's got his dick in a knot over the fact that there are actually people out there with different religious beliefs who might want to share them. Writes the perpetually whiny Weasel Boy:

Pagans to celebrate their beliefs and educate others

A new sense of optimism and tolerance prompted Sherry Lyon to organize the first Pagan Pride Day in Shreveport.

The two-day event will be held this weekend in hopes of educating the public about paganism beyond the stereotypes.

Yep. A "Christian Pride Day" wouldn't be proselytizing. We would only be "celebrating our beliefs and educating others." No one would complain about that. (Yeah, right!)

And isn't that just the epitome of religious hypocrisy, letting these Satanically-inspired pagans pollute the precious bodily fluids of children. Children, for Chrissake, Mandrake, children! And just how pushy and in your face are these tree huggers going to be? According to Weasel Boy:

Funny how you don't see Christian going out and "educating" the masses in publicly-held celebrations on those days like the pagans will be doing on their "Pride Day." The celebrations are limited to churches and homes.

Damn those pagans, cavorting in the streets, flaunting the very strictures of the First Amendment, celebrating ... celebrating ... um, wait a minute, let's read the actual article, shall we?

WHAT: Pagan Pride Day.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 9 a.m. each day.
WHERE: All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 9449 Ellerbe Road in Shreveport.

Well then, one can certainly understand how infuriating it must be to have other people celebrate their own religious beliefs in the privacy of their own church. Damn them. Damn them all.

Condolences for his obvious anguish can be sent to Weasel Boy, care of the New Jersey Home for the Terminally Hateful.

OOOOH ... How ironic: I'm betting Weasel Boy's apparent dislike for public proselytizing doesn't extend to not taking public tax dollars to support his favourite religion.

I'm also thinking that, when it comes to writing about Weasel Boy, I could save buckets of time by getting a custom keyboard with the word "hypocrite" available with a single keystroke.

No, Israel didn't "win" the Gaza Strip during the war.

Occasionally, one reads the stupefyingly moronic claim that, based on their victory in the Six-Day War, Israel is "entitled" to the territory it captured. In short, the suggestion is that, to the victors go the spoils (including the land).

Such aforementioned morons have clearly never read the Geneva Conventions, so let me spell it out for them in a way that even my cats could understand. And I quote (from Convention IV, Article 49, with the really good stuff emphasized for the thinking impaired):

Art. 49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.

The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.

The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Now, can we just knock off this shit about Israel "winning" the Gaza Strip or the West Bank? I can handle debating with the Right-Wing Wankerhood -- I just have no interest in teaching them how to read.

And here's to Bob Costas.

Every so often, you have to give props to someone who shows some spine and principle. How about Bob Costas, who started out strong:

While some cable TV hosts are making their living off the Natalee Holloway case this summer, Bob Costas is having none of it.

Costas, hired by CNN as an occasional fill-in on ''Larry King Live,'' refused to anchor Thursday's show because it was primarily about the Alabama teenager who went missing in Aruba. Chris Pixley filled in at the last minute.

''I didn't think the subject matter of Thursday's show was the kind of broadcast I should be doing,'' Costas said in a statement. ''I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate.''

And for an encore, Costas lays a richly-deserved smackdown on TV poker:

The poker craze apparently has not moved Bob Costas.

On his HBO show, he said, "I hold in my hand the New York Times, and in the sports section, their new regular column on poker….Now at the risk of alienating degenerates from coast to coast, I must say I find it hard to get worked up over a sport that boasts all the pageantry and magic of Saturday night at my Uncle Murray's basement….

You go, Bob.

And, sadly, at the other end of the spectrum, well ... fuck you, Lance.

... and show your work.

I've kind of run out of patience with arm-waving fundies who persist in using/misusing mathematical concepts that they clearly do not understand. Like from the comments section back here:

Do you know how the Declaration of Independence was written? It seems that Thomas Jefferson's youngest son spilled a box of letter blocks out on the floor and there it was -- perfectly spelled and punctuated, without a single block out of alignment.

Of course, rational people would never believe that story. But those same rational people DO believe something as infinitely complex as the universe could randomly come together after a Big Bang, perfect down to the tiniest subatomic particle, without any intelligent design behind it.

Fine, says I. So here's your homework.

  • Define, in a strict mathematical sense, the notion of "complexity," including what it means to be "infinitely complex," and how that would differ from something that is only finitely complex. Give examples. Avoid circular arguments.

  • Again, in a strict mathematical sense, define "randomness," being careful to distinguish it from "complexity." Show how you would calculate the randomness of, say, a given sequence of coin flips.

  • In the context of the current universe, define what you mean by a "perfect" design, and explain how that would differ from an "imperfect" design. Explain clearly all of the terms you use in your explanation.

Finally, if you cannot do the above in a scientific and legitimately mathematical way, then just shut the fuck up.

Open thread this morning.

Much to do so talk amongst yourselves. I'll be taking a rhetorical ax handle to "junker" later today, just to give you something to look forward to.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Still waiting ...

Apparently, there's just not enough of that ol' debbil liberal media bias to keep a website going. Pity.

In praise of "Intelligent Design" creationism.

Sometimes, I think PZ Myers needs to lighten up regarding Intelligent Design. Personally, as a Canadian, I think it's a terrific idea that American schools start balancing the teaching of actual science with religious, pseudo-scientific swill. What better way to hasten a country's complete intellectual collapse than to make sure its future leaders are indoctrinated, not with skills for critical thinking and proper scientific analysis, but with ridiculous fundamentalist garbage?

As for historical precedent, well, here's a good example of what happens when the idiots take charge of science:

Between 1934 and 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's blessings, many geneticists were executed (including Agol, Levit, and Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The most well-known Soviet geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943. Genetics was stigmatized as a "fascist science" and "bourgeois science," in a political stigmatizing similar to the Nazi denouncements of quantum physics and Einstein's theory of relativity as "Jewish science". Some geneticists, however, survived and continued to work in genetics, dangerous as it was.

In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued (but all geneticists were released or rehabilitated posthumously). Only in the middle of the 1960s was it waived. As a consequence, Lysenkoism caused serious, long-term harm to Soviet biology. It represented a serious failure of the early Soviet leadership to admit failure even in the face of utter agricultural disaster and to allow their system to be hijacked by a mere charlatan—at the expense of many human lives.

So, as a patriotic Canadian, let me just say, here's to Intelligent Design in American schools! Just don't be bringing that shit up here, if you know what I mean.

BY THE WAY: And don't forget -- when it comes to the basic education level of American workers, well, speaking as a Canadian, the dumber, the better.

There's just no pleasing some people.

Apparently, Pete Rempel is (oh, yawn) still miffed at me:

Apparently you don't know what a trick question is. Is pulling out of Gaza the right thing to do?

If you're too much of a coward to answer, fine. It's no suprise to me that an anti-semite like you would have difficulty extending praise to the Jewish state. Do you and Eugene Plawiuk have tea and mull over the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world?

To which one can appropriately respond, "Eugene who?"

But let's address Pete's childish whining, shall we? Apparently, in Pete's world, one should be giving credit where credit is due and praising the Israelis for their beneficence in returning land from the Gaza strip to the Palestinians, ignoring the obvious fact that they really didn't have much choice and ignoring the fact that they're still hanging onto gobs of valuable land in the West Bank.

As the CJR Daily points out, perhaps some historical perspective of the Gaza strip is in order (emphasis added):

What has gone missing in the fray, as usual, is any kind of historical context. Drama on this scale usually overwhelms. The New York Times seems to acknowledge this today and tries to provide a little background history lesson. Oddly, the place it chose to do so was in its lead editorial, "Gaza Reality Check," which offers a kind of critique of its own articles of this morning and the past few days.

Points covered: Gaza was never an original part of the Jewish State. Not in 1948 when Israel was born by UN decree or after the 1949 armistice that followed its war of independence. The Strip was Egyptian land and home to Palestinian refugees, and only came under Israeli control in 1967 when it was captured during the Six-Day War. The peace plan signed between Israel and Egypt in 1978 even stipulated eventual autonomy in Gaza for the Palestinians living there. But this never happened. Instead Israel began building the settlements it is now uprooting.

Also lost amidst the drama were the proportions. Just under 9,000 settlers were living on 33 percent of the land, with 1.5 million Palestinians inhabiting the rest. (And the compensation that most of the settlers will get ranges from $300,000 to $500,000 -- apiece.)

So, to summarize, Israel broke its original agreement regarding Gaza and illegally began establishing settlements there. On top of that, a grand total of 9,000 Jewish settlers laid claim to a full 1/3 of the land, leaving the remaining 2/3 for some 1.5 million Palestinians. And I'm supposed to be falling over myself with effusive praise when Israel finally starts to return it?

Try again, Pete. And come back when you've figured out how to have an intellectual discussion without throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism. It just makes you look like a dick.

Friday, August 19, 2005

They get you coming and going.

Over here, Tasteful Future describes how CNN's Jack Cafferty blasted the media's obsession with the BTK killer. So CNN first grabs headlines by covering the tasteless display, then further grabs headlines by criticizing their original obsession of covering the tasteless display.

Sound vaguely familiar? It should.

Back in 1999, physicist Robert Park took a shot at Fox Network for their "alien autopsy" video, from which Fox got some surprising mileage:

ALIEN AUTOPSY: FOX NETWORK MAKES A SHOCKING REVELATION. Are you ready for this? It was a hoax! I can hear your gasp of disbelief. First aired in 1995, it was shown over and over. Who would have ever guessed that this fuzzy footage, shot from whatever angle would best obscure what was going on, would turn out to be a fake? Is the network chagrined at having been duped?

Hardly. Fox now boasts of using high-tech “NASA-type video enhancements” to expose “one of the biggest hoaxes of all time.” Lest you worry about loss of revenue from a program that scored high ratings every time it was shown, Fox will air a December 28 special exposing not only the Alien Autopsy film, but the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot as well. Is this a formula for success?

You make money off a hoax, and then from exposing your own hoax.

Coming soon on CNN: "Has the media gone too far in criticizing their own obsessions with news stories?"

You know, maybe they WERE better off under Saddam.

So many times, after you point out the military clusterfuck that is Operation Iraqi Liberation (or "OIL"), the knee-jerk reaction from East Wankerville is something like, "Oh, yeah? So maybe you think they were better off under Saddam, huh? Huh?" What an inspiring slogan: "The United States occupation -- still better than Saddam."

But inspired by an excerpt from Matthew Good over here:

In March of this year the United Nations reported that more than a quarter of Iraq’s children were chronically undernourished. The malnutrition rate in kids under five has almost doubled since the invasion, reaching 8% by the end of 2004.

I think it's time to actually think the previously unthinkable -- maybe the Iraqis really were better off under Saddam. It's not hard to come up with at least a few examples:

  • They still had reliable electricity and water service.
  • They still had numerous buildings that were actually standing.
  • Women still had some rights.
  • They weren't being blown up by suicide bombers or shot by Coalition forces on a regular basis.
  • The Iraqis still, at least theoretically, controlled their own country.
The above is just a start. Please, by all means, jump right in and add to the list. I suspect it won't be hard.

P.S.: And how long do you think it will be before the first accusation of, "Oh, man, did you read that CC is a big admirer of Saddam Hussein?" Give it time -- you know it's coming.

: Let me rephrase the above to make my point a little more carefully.

I'm not saying that the Iraqis were clearly better off under Saddam. I'm suggesting that one can no longer arrogantly dismiss criticism of Operation Chimpy Clusterfuck by saying, "Well, at least they're better off than they were under Hussein."

Maybe they really are -- given the current living conditions, it's kind of hard to tell. It's just that that knee-jerk response is no longer the "slam dunk" argument winner it used to be, is it?

Politically speaking, that's pretty bad timing.

From the court files of "Can't touch me":

Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.

And where exactly is Pope Ratzo the First these days?

Pope John Paul II -- an icon for young people -- launched World Youth Day in 1986. This year, Pope Benedict XVI will preside.

Oh, man, that is just so wrong.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Gaza, mindless ideology and Pete Rempel. Like I give a shit.

Apparently, Pete Rempel is just a little miffed with me, seeing as how I can't find it in my heart to give the Israelis the credit they deserve for withdrawing illegal settlers from the Gaza strip. To which one can confidently respond -- how can one human being be such an unenlightened dick?

The entire Gaza withdrawal is nothing more than an exercise in media manipulation and theatrics since, quite simply, the Israelis have already more than made up for the loss of land here with what they've managed to steal with the construction of the laughably-misnamed "security wall."

Let's see what those left-wing crazies, the Franciscans International, have to say about the so-called security wall (emphasis added):

Franciscans International, in cooperation with the Franciscan Justice and Peace Commission of the Custody of the Holy Land, would like to call upon the attention Commission on Human Rights on the deplorable consequences of the ongoing construction of the "wall of separation" which is surrounding the West Bank and Gaza

Despite some hopes by the launching of the road map, in early June 2003, the construction by the Israelis of a separation wall, which does not respect the "Green Line" of 1967, is perceived as an annexation of important parts of Palestinian homeland. The wall cuts through parts of the West Bank, separating about 95, 000 Palestinians residing in 27 towns and villages from the remaining West Bank.

So what's the rationale for sneaking the wall over into a sleazy Palestinian land grab? Gee, I couldn't begin to imagine:

... had the wall strictly followed the Green Line, it might have been possible to confine the debate to the question whether a security wall of that kind would achieve its purpose. But when it is intended that it encroach deeply upon Palestinian territory, enclosing an estimated 7 per cent of Palestinian land, including fertile agricultural land, water resources and villages, it is difficult to resist to the conclusion that it is the case of the facto annexation in which the security situation is employed as a pretext for territorial expansion.

Well, golly, Sergeant Carter -- blatant theft of arable land and water. Who'd a thunk it? And, as if you needed any confirmation:

Why, you may wonder: isn't the Wall following the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank? – Not quite. If this had been Israel's intention, we could have had Peace long ago. The whole point is that Israel refuses to give up the West Bank, and building a Wall on the Green Line is the last thing the junta had in mind. The Wall is constructed deep in Palestinian territory, in order to rob as much Palestinian land and water as possible...

The village of Mas'ha is adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Elkana, about 7km away from the green line. On April 2003, Israeli bulldozers started to separate Mas'ha by an 8m high concrete wall from its only remaining source of livelihood: agricultural land, mostly olive trees. 98% of the lands of Mas'ha will be placed on the Israeli side of the fence. The fence also disconnects the road from Jenin to Ramallah, a segment of which will now be in the Israeli side of the fence.

It wasn't only land greed that sent the bulldozers to the lands of Mas'ha. These lands are on the western part of the large water reservoir originating in the West Bank, whose waters flow under the ground also to the centre of Israel. Out of 600 million cubic metre of water that this reservoir provides in a year, Israel withdraws about 500 million. Control over the water sources has always been a central Israeli motivation for maintaining the occupation. The first settlements, like Elkana, were located in critical locations for drilling. Since 1967, Israel has prohibited Palestinians from digging new wells, but in the lands of Mas'ha there are still many operating older wells. In isolating the village from its wells, Israel attempts both to control the water reserves, and to eliminate livelihood sources, thus forcing its residents out.

In other words, Israel can afford to make an international dog-and-pony show out of returning Gaza land to the Palestinians since, under the radar, they've already managed to steal what they really want in the first place.

And as for Pete Rempel, well ... life is way too fucking short to debate with idiots. Although I will make an exception for this doofus.

MORE OF THE SAME: As Dr. Dawg mentions in the comments, he waxed eloquent on the same topic over here, with some links worth following.