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October 26, 2007

fema's deception was not meant to be deceptive

Just in case this one doesn't escape the gravitational pull of DailyKos:

FEMA, while not Katrina-ing up the wildfires in southern California, finds a way to fuck up just for the hell of it, faking a DC press conference, with FEMA employees acting like "reporters".  And when caught with the hand in the cookie jar, FEMA celebrates the lowering of the bar of fucked-upedness:

"If the worst thing that happens to me in this disaster is that we had staff in the chairs to ask questions that reporters had been asking all day, [FEMA Deputy Director of Public Affairs Mike] Widomski said, "trust me, I'll be happy."

Have an extra piece of cake, then, you happy guy.

Does anyone else remember that Kid In The Hall sketch about never putting salt in your eyes?

Posted by mrbrent at 12:45 PM

October 25, 2007

wherein i tousle my own hair

So I'm lookin' through my files at all the various things I've started and never finished, to see if there's anything that might be worth reading (out loud, that is) on Saturday afternoon.

So far, no luck.  But I did come across this astounding rant that it looks like I tried to string together eight or so years ago, when I was an irregular contributor to a small lit journal back in Rochester.  Apparently, I was heavy into the crank back then, because it is so sputteringly angry (in '99!) and hamfisted that it reminds me of stumbling into the drawings of stick figures that your mom saved from when you were five.  At the end of the excerpt, in the spirit of, what, self-importance, I guess, I turned this phrase:

The fucking monster is actually trapped up in that old deserted shining city in the hill!  Let’s put the children to bed and go burn him out!

Ah, when the kids get all drunk on words.

This has been another episode of, "Well, enough about me."

Posted by mrbrent at 2:38 PM

what is your position on baby cannibalism?

Not all of the political sites that were so heavily trafficked during the '04 and '06 elections, have aged so well, descending, in some cases, slowly into circular firing squads and meta-self-parody.  Don't wanna name names, or then I would be participating in a circular firing squad.  But you know which roses' lusters I'm talking about.

(Also, it may be more accurate to describe myself as sinking into meta-self-parody -- that's the hard thing about all the self-awareness glut we're experiencing.)

So, in the interest of ever upwards, I'd like to share an example of one of the old war-horses doing it right.  This is Atrios describing, in scant sentences, the odd defensive position congressional Democrats have found themselves in, and their possible counter-actions:

George Bush says "Give me everything I want, including retroactive immunity for telecom companies for breaking the law or I'll veto it."

Democrats then have a choice.  They can send [the president] more reasonable legislation, at which point he vetoes it and says the Democrats are going to let Al Qaeda eat your babies.  Subsequently, they can either point out that George Bush vetoed the anti-Al Qaeda baby cannibalism bill or they can scamper like cowards and give him everything he wants.

Or they can just give him everything he wants right away.

It's short, it's funny, and it's telling the truth.  And it invokes George W. Bush and baby cannibalism in the same sentence.  Annnnnnd, cut.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:09 AM

October 24, 2007

tom tancredo will eat no tacos

I know this is more of a monologue (diatribe) than a conversation, but can someone answer this question: just what law is the so-called "illegal alien" breaking?

And no, not being facetious.  I know that there rules and regulations concerning immigration, including quotas (or caps, I guess, more accurately), based on nation of origin, that are not racist at all, no.  But what is the actual law being broken that puts the "ill" in "illegal"?  Is there some statute I'm not aware of the prohibits any unregistered non-citizen from standing on sovereign soil?

Obviously, it's not such that non-citizens are immune from prosecution of criminal violations (i.e., larceny, assault, etc.) -- that would be ridonkulous.  But, isn't an immigration more of a violation of a regulation than it is a "crime", so to speak?  After all, there's no injury to person or property.  And wouldn't these regulations be a little more discreet, as far as standing in the eyes of the law goes?  Take the tax code as an equivalent civil regulation.  Can foreign nationals be prosecuted for tax violations?  I'd say, generally, no, or the "offshore corporation" phenomena wouldn't exist.

I'm sure someone smarter than me has actually set this down in writing so far.  I just got to thinking about it because of this news item from the morning, of GOP presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo's calling the INS on some non-citizens appearing at a rival congressman's presser.  Which is about as juvenile and time-wastey as building a big old fence running along the Rio Grande.  It also tracks with your average frothing talk show caller, steadily shouting about those illegals are breaking the law, etc., etc.  And I'm all like, I'm not so sure if that's the case.

Maybe I am being a little smarty pants.  But if that's what it takes to see Tom Tancredo pop a vessel, then, so be it.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:33 AM

October 23, 2007

and now for the bad news

This week we have the good fortune to argue amongst ourselves over which environmental alarm is ringing the loudest.

Most obvious is the wildfires burning in California, and some hundreds of thousands of folks have evacuated.  Behind it, with (believe it or not) possibly more disastrous implications is the extreme drought conditions in Georgia and the surrounding states, leaving roughly ninety or so days of stored water.

These two aren't warning signs of any kind of inconvenient truth (unless climate change is affecting the Santa Ana winds) -- it's more of a warning sign of ill-planned development.  In Georgia, population has been exploding over the past decade, and questions of how much development can local resources sustain have been deferred until, oh, about now.  And in Southern California, well, it's supposed to be a desert, and would be, if water resources from hundreds of miles away weren't piped in.  Wildfires are the equivalent danger to that region that hurricanes are to the Atlantic/Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the Great Lakes are shrinking.  The jury is out as to whether this is a lasting effect of climate change -- the past couple years have seen lowered precipitation and a higher evaporation that usual.  Right now, shipping is being mostly affected, which of course can have a marked economic consequence.

But my favorite, at least until something else happens, is this: a giant patch of garbage, floating between San Francisco and Hawaii.  How big?  "Continent-sized", says the linked article, with an aggregate mass of 3.5 million tons.  And marine biologists say that 80% of the garbage originated on land.  Our non-degradables wash out to sea, where ocean currents shape them into a big congregation of trash.

This Great Pacific Garbage Patch really brings home the fact that we as a species aren't yet close to figuring out how to reside on this globe without wildly disrupting it.  This is not some subtle unintended consequence of human industry, a change that is measured in decades, only observable in hindsight.  This is a big mess of garbage the size of Montana.  Imagine how long it would take to manfuacture that if we wanted to.

Way to go, us.

All together, these phenomena could be just a flimsy web of coincidence, or they could be portents of the more ominous sort.  I'll leave that to the smart guys to figure out.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:23 AM

October 22, 2007

24 hour plays

If you've ever had any interest in (or heard of, I guess) the 24 Hour Plays, then you might want to give this thread a perusal.

The 24HP is currently putting up their annual Broadway show, and it is being liveblogged by a reporter from the New York Times.

I've participated in the 24 some thirty-five or forty times (we lost count, literally), and the reporter is giving a pretty accurate look at how the thing works, all night and day long.

[MINUTES LATER:]  Oh yeah, the posts also capture the weirdness that is the Broadway show.  You see, the Broadway show differs from the normal shows because it is peopled by celebrites, instead of ham 'n' eggers like me.  Which provides for some intensely intense moments, and some juxtapositions you don't forget:

[Chris] Rock was cast in “I.P.,” in which he plays a secretly gay action movie star trying to adopt.  The adoption counselor is played by Marlo Thomas.  These are two people you would not normally find in the same paragraph.

Mmm-hmm.  That's about the way I remember it.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:15 PM

valerie plame: time passing really brings out the hate

You have every right to have forgotten who Valerie Plame Wilson is -- the precipitating events that brought her name to the public lips (namely, the revelation of her name in the first place) happened some years ago, and should rightfully be resigned to the dustbin of our national attention span, along with pet rocks and Clay Aiken.

A brief refresher -- Ms. Wilson was an CIA spy tasked with tracking down nukes/nuke capability whose cover was blown by the Bush Administration in an effort to intimidate her husband, a longtime diplomat who spoke out against the White House's cooking of intelligence in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq.  I'm not sure about how many times I've written about it personally, but I'm pretty sure it's more than thrice, and I'm also pretty sure that I've used the word "treason" in each post, as I think that torpedoing intel efforts to combat nuclear proliferation clears the treason hurdle.  Oh yeah: there was an investigation into it and all that.  One dude was convicted.  He would be in jail right now, but the president commuted his sentence.

That looks pretty weird in print, right?  That happened?  It sounds like the plotline of a not-very-good thriller.

Except that it gets more thrilling.  Ms. Wilson is back in the news because her memoir recounting (if you mind the redacting) the events.  And the gall has rebounded just in general (typing this all out brings the disgust right back), and in specific, as Larry C. Johnson points out a very specific portion Ms. Wilson's book:

In 2004 the FBI received intelligence that Al Qaeda hit teams were enroute to the United States to kill Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Valerie Plame.  ...

When the White House learned of these threats they sprung into action.  They beefed up Secret Service protection for Vice President Cheney and provided security protection to Karl Rove.  But they declined to do anything for Valerie.  That was a CIA problem.

Valerie contacted the office of Security at CIA and requested assistance.  They told her too fucking bad and to go pound sand.  They did not use those exact words, but they told her she was on her own.

So then, it leads that the administration's efforts to intimidate Ambassador Joseph Wilson were not only threats to impugn their character.  Actually, it was a leak that set into action events that would lead to threats to the life of his wife.

I know it's so last year to get all bent out of shape over the sins of the Bush Administration, but I can't help imagining some alternative universe where the average American would view a president threatening to allow the wife of a critic to be killed as some kind of, I dunno, crime.  Or at least, "bad thing".

Posted by mrbrent at 12:30 PM