I have this uncontrollable urge to intoxicate myself...



Our national debt as of right now, just to remind those of you who forgot it exists. By the time I finished typing that, it had increased $1,188,060. That means each person in the U.S. (every man, woman, and child) is responsible for paying $26,653.

Thank you, Mr. President.

It's Networking, Stupid

I don't think most people realize just how centralized our news and information, and now even political opinions, have become. Especially in Washington (and trickling down into your nightly news station or radio talk show), every message has become customized and centralized to such a degree that nobody acts without checking with the powers-that-be. The Republicans have mastered this art within the last five years, and their ability to present the same arguments with the same data in almost every media outlet has truly flattened the Democrats. It's time to catch up, guys.

For a recent example, consider the nomination of John Roberts. According to US News and World Report:

When John G. Roberts is approved as chief justice of the United States, as expected, he can thank President Bush 's "Friends & Allies" program, which went to work on him immediately after he was nominated. The project, started by the Republican National Committee in the 2004 re-election campaign, is simple and effective: Give opinion makers, media friends, and even cocktail party hosts insider info on the topic of the day. How? Through E-mailed talking points, called D.C. Talkers, and conference calls. For Roberts, it worked this way: A daily conference call to about 80 pundits, GOP-leaning radio and TV hosts, and newsmakers was made around 9 a.m. On the other end were the main Roberts gunslingers like Steve Schmidt at the White House and Ken Mehlman and Brian Jones at the RNC. D.C. Talkers would then be distributed to an even larger list filled with positive info about Roberts and lines of attack on his critics. "The idea," said one of those involved, "is to feed them information and have them invested in us." It has even created addicts, he added. "Now they come to us before going on TV."

This is not to say the Democrats do not also engage in this central-office-knows-best communist-style communications system (harsh, but true). But I believe the Democrats don't do it nearly to the extent as the Republicans. As well, I think more often than not Democratic newsmakers and hosts follow their own tune in order to carve their niche, rather than portraying some kind of party communications unity.

When was the last time you saw a unified Democratic reponse to anything from the Bush administration? Social Security? Katrina? Even Roberts' upcoming confirmation vote? Nope. The Democrats are scattered, and the country can tell. If they weren't, people would be defecting from the Bush camp like crazy by now. Of course, it is good news that his poll numbers have sunk dramatically--as they should have years ago--but given all of the administration's f*ck-ups, an impeachment trial should have started by now.

Breaking News

Sky News, you are the best.

Thanks to Wonkette!


Potty Break

When I heard about this I thought it couldn't be true. While at the UN for its 60th Anniversary, Bush wrote out a note to Condi Rice asking if he could take a potty break. And Reuters actually got a picture of the note--and it has been verified as authentic. Here it is:

It reads: I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?

Too bad we didn't catch his note to Karl Rove asking permission to start a war in Iraq. God knows it must exist somewhere out there (can you hear the sound of shredders anyone?)

If anyone--anyone--thinks our president is more sophisticated than a third-grader both in intelligence and in action, I don't know what would convince them. And by the way, Mr. President, your punctuation is wrong. Or are you unsure whether you need to go potty?

See the photo and read the story from the Times of London.


That, and the Wizard of Oz

During the recent deliberations (or shall I stamp-of-approval-tions) for Justice John Roberts, a very laughable and yet terribly ridiculous comment was made by Senator Brownback from Kansas.

The committee (and Roberts) had been discussing Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 case which ruled "separate but equal" school systems were unconstitutional. Senator Brownback hails from Kansas, and unfortunately had no idea that it was in fact his state's government that wanted to keep the schools segregated, and argued the "separate but equal" concept established in Plessy v. Ferguson was legitimate and constitutional.

He is actually proud that the case came from his state. (See, we got good discriminationists over ther' in Kansas!) Here's the exact quote from the transcript available via the Washington Post (this is Senator Brownback's language, minus what I put in brackets):

In Plessy v. Ferguson, it's been cited yesterday along with the Brown decision, which my state is the proud home state host of Brown v. Board of Education. And I personally knew two of the lawyers that practiced in that case, and they were noble gentlemen.

They overturned Plessy, as you know, which was an 1896 case. So Plessy had stood for nearly 60 years. ... [Actually, if they argued for Kansas in that case, they were arguing in favor of Plessy!]

Yet I don't think anybody would agree that Plessy shouldn't have been overturned, and certainly not anybody from my state. [Certainly!] We're the host state of Brown v. the Board of Education.

Toto, thank god we're not in Kansas anymore.


Where Did All the Money Go?

That's a good question. Nobody batted an eyelash when it was announced $8 billion (yes billion, not million) of the money for Iraq under Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority was lost (poof!) like it went up in smoke.

Now Wall Street Journal reporter Yochi Dreazen and Reuters note the same money mismanagement is likely to occur with the Katrina rebuilding (link to Washington Post summary, since WSJ requires a subscription):

Yochi J. Dreazen writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "The Bush administration is importing many of the contracting practices blamed for spending abuses in Iraq as it begins the largest and costliest rebuilding effort in U.S. history.

"The first large-scale contracts related to Hurricane Katrina, as in Iraq, were awarded without competitive bidding, and using so-called cost-plus provisions that guarantee contractors a certain profit regardless of how much they spend."

Reuters reports: "Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast."

If you get a chance, go to the first page of the post, since it highlights how shitty our president really is in times of bad news and crisis....


And just when I was so depressed and thought all was lost (see yesterday's post), the good people of Massachusetts give me one more reason to love them. Amazingly, the story doesn't seem to be big news.... Though it really should be (more on that later).

The state legislature is not sending a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage to the ballot box in 2006. (Click here for the story from the Washington Post.) And why should they? Marriage is between two people, period. Regardless of whether you are straight or gay, what you choose to do inside your personal relationship should be nobody's business unless it causes pain or suffering. (This eerily relates to the discussions taking place at John Roberts' confirmation hearings, in which it seems they have floated the ideas of restricting birth control for the unmarried, and reversing the anti-sodomy decision of two years ago.) In fact, the government really has no vested interest in promoting marriage (in the ways they do with welfare, taxes, abstinence programs, and other insidious ways).

Take welfare for example. Most people don't know there is a "marriage bonus" of some several millions of dollars given to the state that increases its marriage rates the most amongst those on welfare. Okay, maybe having two married parents is in general a good thing. But in my case, my father and mother hated each other and staying together would have created a ridiculously unhealthy environment for me and my siblings. Instead, my mom raised four children all by herself and managed to make do--without being married. And it was better that way. We weren't on welfare, but I think the point stands.

I think Republican and Christian conservations should stop worrying about everyone else's marriage, and start concentrating on their own. Perhaps then our country's divorce rate would go down, because you know it ain't only the Dems to blame for that.

But back to gay marriage. This is why this story needs to be big news, it needs to be broadcast across the country: has life changed for anyone since it started in Massachusetts? Has the Apocalypse started? Have all marriages between straight people started disintegrating, or has marriage somehow been debased because of it? Of course not, nothing has changed except for the lucky gay people of Massachusetts. And that is exactly the way it should be.


Is There Any Way?

First, it was wrong because a court ordered it.
Now, it is wrong because a legislature passed it.
Next, will it be wrong when the people approve it?

Gay marriage concerns nobody but the homos, just like straight marriage affects nobody but the heteros. Arnold Schwartzenegger apprently disagrees. Actually, I don't think he really does, but he needs to retain his Republican ties and support and this is the surest way of doing so, despite his promise to remain a non-partisan socially progressive Republican.

Let's call a spade a spade: it doesn't matter how it's done, the social conservatives will stop at nothing to keep their noses stuck in other people's business, and that includes being big gay-haters. At least some of the crazy ones in Kansas (Fred Phelps) will be honest about their bigotry.

Read the article from the Los Angeles Times.

Word of the Day: Cronyism

Paul Krugman, like usual, is always one step ahead of everyone else. His article yesterday in the New York Times hit the nail on the head: FEMA is not the only agency suffering from politicians' friends being put in charge of huge chunks of the federal government that need specialists with competent backgrounds and experiences. What is scary, is that we pay for all of this mismanagement, and it is under Republican ("lower taxes! smaller government!") leadership... And all the while our poorest families' children go off to die in Iraq.

What a mess.

Here's the story.



From the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (click here for the video):

(Jon Stewart talking to Senior Correspondent Ed Helms regarding Hurricane Katrina)

Stewart: In your judgment, is this the worst crisis this administration has faced?

Helms: Well Jon, as you know, administration fiascos are named alphabetically. As you can see, Katrina is their 11th out of what could be 26 colossal failures. I don't know if you see those last two on the list there, Jon, but by the time "Zero People Left on Earth" rolls along, that "Yam Shortage" will be long forgotten.

(Graphic on screen labeled 'Major Disasters of Bush Administration')

Abu Gharib
Bin Laden
Failure to Find WMDs
Gas Prices
John Bolton
Mars Attacks
North Korea
Osama & Jenna
Pregnancy: Osama & Jenna
Queer Revolt
Rodents of Unusual Size
Syrian War
Unicyclists, Nuclear
X-Rated Tape: Osama & Jenna
Yam Shortage
Zero People Left on Earth


George of the Bungle

I thought Bill Maher's bit on Real Time this Friday was too good to go unposted, so for those of you who don't have HBO or don't watch:

New Rule: America Must Recall the President.

That's what this country needs: a good old-fashioned California-style recall election, complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses, and action film stars. And just like Schwartzenegger's predecessor here in California, George Bush is now so unpopular he must defend his job against Russell Crowe, because at this point I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. In fact, let's have only phone-throwers; Naomi Campbell can be the vice president.

Now, I kid, but seriously Mr. President. This job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your mom... the cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed-out, and no one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished!

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time--time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How 'bout cowboy or spaceman?

Now, I know what you're saying--you're saying there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts; turning the space program over to the church, and Social Security to Fannie Mae; giving embroys the vote.

But sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceeded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon, and the city of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country, I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is "Take a hint."