Thursday, April 30, 2009

Broken News: Papal visit to decimated region fails to inspire, console

Above: Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates God's loving embrace

ABRUZZO, ITALY--The Vatican's public relations suffered yet another setback as Pope Benedict XVI's message of divine love and hope toward relief efforts in the wake of an earthquake that has so far killed 294 people fell on deaf ears, many of which were perfectly functional a few weeks ago.

As he made his annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, The Pope made a surprise visit to this crippled region in central Italy, arriving by helicopter to surprisingly little fanfare. The Holy Father made the visit in a desperate attempt to prove the relevancy of the church, which has come under fire for emphasizing doctrine over science in the anti-AIDS campaign in Africa, continued protection for pedophile priests, general coldheartedness, a tin ear towards real problems, and a universally panned album of hymns done as American Country-Western ballads.

"His holiness is a little slow on the uptake," said Giuseppi Franona, a spaghetti bender from the Pescara province who lost his wife and infant son in the earthquake. "I know he's busy waving at stadiums, excommunicating 9 year-old rape victims, and trying on all those hats, but the earthquake happened almost a month ago..."

Upon arriving, The Pope's handlers helped him scale a pile of rubble that was still inexplicably smoldering. After offering a brief prayer for the dead, Pope Benedict reassured all those present that, "God loves you and brings upon you all the blessings of His kingdom."

It was here that the gathering began to unravel. In an uncharacteristic move for any Catholic official, The Pope opened the floor to questions, even going so far as to encourage those present to "speak their minds here before God."

Miranda Tadeccio, a local seamstress who had lived in the town for 119 years, hobbled forward and addressed Pope Benedict.

"Your Holiness, we thank you for visiting our meager home in a time of dire need. But would you mind coming down from that pile of rubble? I believe you are standing atop what used to be my house, which collapsed on whatever remains of my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. How could a just God allow this to happen?"

A clearly embarrassed Pope claimed that he was "...consecrating the ground, not inconsiderately standing on a still burning corpse pile" and that she needed to "pray to... um... St. Agatha... or Jesus" to find the answers she sought. In a bizarre attempt to console the distraught woman, the Holy Father did mention that the resulting three generations of her family were "...in a better place now, and I don't mean under seven tons of burning granite" before winking at her.

Noting he had made things worse but failing to understand why, the Pope told her to "get over it" before tugging around the neck of his vestments and nervously muttering, "Whew, tough crowd" to a Cardinal standing nearby.

After Tadeccio had been removed from sight and summarily excommunicated, Pope Benedict relocated to the town square after a brief meeting with his PR staff and again urged all those present to ask answers of him.

Michael Vizzulo, a 19 year-old bicycle repairman, approached The Pope slowly, his head bowed. After kissing the Pontiff's ring and muttering a brief prayer, Vizzulo explained that during the quake, he had personally seen his brother impaled through the chest by the shattered thigh bone of their father. During the chaos of the following day's rescue efforts, Mr. Vizzulo saw four different dogs urinate on his brother's corpse.

"Your Holiness, I know that our Heavenly Father has a plan for all His children, but doesn't all of this strike you as just a bit malicious?"

The Holy Father could only mutter a "fuck, that's gruesome" before launching into the standard "God has a plan", Jesus, pray, "God loves you", pray, post-trauma church litany. Afterward he instructed an aide to hand the man a Bible and proclaimed things "all better." Mr. Vizzulo seemed non-plussed.

Once a group of Carolingian monks finished beating a lesson about the "love of Christ" and "infallibility" into Vizzulo outside the town's perimeter, His Holiness boarded the PopeCopter and moved north towards Milan, where he hoped a day of shoe shopping at Gucci and Prada would sooth his rattled nerves and help him understand how the Catholic Church could better get in touch with the common people.

Art of the day


Bad Mutha Wizard by Dave MacDowell which was featured over at Idiot Box Artwork.

Important recall announcement

I Heart Guts is sad to inform you that we have issued a voluntary recall for one of our products, the Uterus Plush. For those of you who noticed our impromptu hysterectomy, here’s the story: In an effort to make sure our toys are safe for all ages, the uterus plush failed a child toy safety standards test — basically, if you pull too hard on the fallopian tubes, the ovary pops off, creating a potential choking hazard for small children. While we figured a plush uterus might not be of great interest to kids — we designed it as a collectible plush for adults and marked them for ages 3 and up — we want to be absolutely sure no harm comes from playing with our guts.
I'll have you all know that a safer version is back up for sale at the bargain price of $14.00.

Hating gays is an inalienable Constitutional right

So the House finally got around to passing a law that expands hate crime coverage from a 1968 law that covered race, religion, and national origin to those motivated by "gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability." This was a bill that Bush had repeatedly threatened to veto, but now that we officially recognize the dawning of the 21st Century, has finally gotten some traction.

All it essentially does is allows the Government provide additional resources to local law enforcement to prosecute the crimes, such as the case of Matthew Shepard, where the local law enforcement had to furlough 5 detectives in order to pay for the investigation because it was a hate crime against a gay man. Via ThinkProgress, we learn how this new law is, of course, the worst thing ever and the latest tyrannical liberal assault on free speech.

REP MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): I feel that this hate crime legislation could be considered the very definition of tyranny.

REP. GRESHMAN BARRET (R-SC): This bill would inhibit religious freedom in our society -- a scary thought.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): You think a pregnant mother does not deserve the protection of a homosexual? You think a military member doesn't deserve the protection of a transvestite?

REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): I, Mr. Speaker, oppose and I defy the logic of the people that would advocate for such legislation the very idea we could divine what goes on in the heads of people when they commit crimes.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) called Matthew Shepherd's murder "a hoax" and denied that it was a hate crime.

Yes....prosecuting people for killing gays because they are gay is an assault on religious freedom. Prosecuting violent crimes is the same as prosecuting people for their thoughts. The right to discriminate is more important than murder prosecutions. The most important discrimination we have to worry about is discrimination against bigots. This all makes so much sense. Just when I thought there wasn't some new low for the fringe right wing to scrounge out, they rush to claim the real victims of hate crimes are the perpetrators of hate crimes and those who traffic in their ideology. I'll have to remember this after their next lecture about morals.

Good 'ole Nixon logic

You have to admire the stones on some of the Bush Administration people. Take Condi Rice, who had a large role in approving torture. Now that the info has come out, instead of just saying it was wrong and plowing forward with some dissembling bullshit about "mistakes being made" she not only wants to pretend it isn't torture, pretend she didn't help authorize it, but also break out Nixonian logic to defend it.
Q: Is waterboarding torture?

RICE: The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture. So that's -- And by the way, I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did.

Q: Okay. Is waterboarding torture in your opinion?

RICE: I just said, the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.
So because the President said it wasn't outside the CAT, nothing that happened was outside the CAT. Because of the simple fact the President authorized it means it couldn't have been torture. Anyway it isn't even her fault, so go away. Condi, Condi, Condi, not the best defense. That's the kind of line that made David Frost chortle in disbelief when Nixon said it in all those Frost/Nixon trailers. Bush can't magically declare something legal, not even if he wiggles his nose, waves a wand over the authorization, or recites some phrase he half remembered from a Harry Potter book.

I'm surprised all it took was a couple of students from Stanford to break you down into a quivering ball of incoherent justifications. If a couple of buzzed freshmen can do it, how easy is it going to be for the Spanish courts?

He's so helpful at reducing panic

God love Joe Biden. When sent out to reassure people the the flupocalypse wasn't about to kill all their weak children and elderly relatives, he proceed to decide that Barry calmed too many people down last night and it was up to old Joe to get them properly panicked about their imminent death.
Vice President Joe Biden says he's advising his own family to avoid "confined places" -- to stay off commercial airlines and even subways -- because of the new swine flu.

Biden said Thursday if one person sneezes on a confined aircraft, "it goes all the way through the aircraft." Going beyond official advice from the federal government, Biden said of his family's personal precautions: "That's me."

Asked on NBC's "Today" show whether the government should close the border with Mexico to try to slow the spread of the flu, Biden says health authorities advise that would be impractical because the swine flu has already spread to the U.S. and several other nations. Instead, he says people should focus on confined places where the flu could spread quickly, such as airplanes, malls and classrooms.
"I'll tell you what Matt Lauer, all public transportation and places where people congregate are flu incubating death traps where you are 100% guaranteed to catch swine flu. No Biden will die like a dog in one of those disease pits. In fact, I'm advising the American populace start wearing full protective gear and gasmasks when they go out to prevent the spread. Also, I would advise that you shoot first and ask questions later when encountering anyone of the Mexican or 'Tejano' persuasion. Or anyone who looks too tan. They're carriers. Eliminate them. One shot to the head, that's the only way to kill them. But, you know, don't panic or anything. We've got it all under control."

Joe, what would we do without you? Besides not break into a panic when we're indoors or on some form of transportation.

In case you were wondering


In case you're wondering where we are in this whole Porcine AIDS/the Stand crisis: we're right after the credits. The disease has already escaped from the secret government facility in Mexico, crows are already mockingly pecking at our toys, and we're right at the pre-solo bridge in Don't Fear the Reaper. Grab your deaf friend and make for Boulder.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

About that whole Porcine AIDS thing...

Whilst trolling the Townhall message boards for Tennessee undergrads looking to pull a Specter, I stumbled across the Cliffs Notes to Matthew's "Happy Good Fun Time Guide to the Flupocalypse."

Count the beans, load the shotgun, bolt the door, and read them HERE.

Okay........panic

World Health Organization Raises Swine Flu Alert Level
The World Health Organization raised the alert level of the fast-spreading swine flu virus on Wednesday afternoon, indicating that a “pandemic is imminent,” on the day that a Mexican toddler who had been hospitalized in Houston became the first person to die from the disease on United States soil.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the organization, said that the “phase 5” alert out of a possible 6 levels signified that at least two countries have spread the virus by human to human contact, and that the highest phase 6 was probably imminent.

“It is really all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic,” Dr. Chan said. “We do not have all the answers right now. But we will get them.”
For those of you playing at home, the six alert levels are:
  • Phase 1: Ma, the animals are coming down with something!
  • Phase 2: I think I done got what Bessie and the livestock done got
  • Phase 3: Quit whining and wipe your nose, it's all under control
  • Phase 4: Oh...uh *tugging at collar nervously* I didn't expect the disease to jump countries so fast
  • Phase 5: Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! Wereallgonnafuckingdie!
  • Phase 6: The Stand
Yeah, so uh, really good news. I wish you all the best as you try to fight this...near pandemic...of.....killer...I WON'T DIE LIKE THE REST OF YOU!!!!! *sound of frantic running, large vault door opening, large vault door closing and hermetically sealing, and muffled weeping*

Progress report

As Mr. Barry Popularity hits day 100, there's good news abounds for him. Despite the fact that he's the black president and our banks stole our money and tainted it with swine flu, the public doesn't yet hold him solely responsible for either. In fact he's more popular than Bubba and Beavis were during their first 100 days. They love him, hate his enemies, and want the things he wants done. Kick up those feet Barry, you're bulletproof.
Despite these ups and down, the president remains quite popular. According to the poll, 61 percent approve of Obama’s job — that’s compared with George W. Bush’s 56 percent and Bill Clinton’s 52 percent at this same juncture in their presidencies.

Also, 64 percent view Obama favorably versus 23 percent who see him in a negative light — once again, higher than Bush’s and Clinton’s scores on this question.
...
Just 29 percent have a positive view of the Republican Party, while 44 percent view it negatively — the 32nd consecutive NBC/Journal poll showing it with a net-negative rating. And even though they’re no longer in office, the poll shows that George W. Bush (with a 26 percent positive rating) and Dick Cheney (18 percent) remain unpopular.
What's that saying about absence making the heart grow fonder? Absence makes the heart wish you were even more absent? Out of office for 100 days and your popularity drops 5 points. You can probably thank Cheney for that one. People don't usually like seeing the pasty face of evil offer his oblivious criticisms of the guy they're relieved is in office now. If the public come to hate GWB any more he might have to downgrade that Presidential Fancy Book Libary to a outhouse magazine rack behind SMU.

Nice to see the GOP's strategy of "oppose everything in the craziest and most ignorant way possible" has done wonders for their future electoral hopes. Maybe another round of tea parties, cries of socialism, and a move to make Michelle Bachmann, El Rushbo, and whoever says the craziest thing he heard about Obama at the weekly GOP Waffle Breakfast the permanent leaders of your party will help bump those numbers into the low thirties. Word of warning: Barry's about another popularity bump from being able to coldcock you in public for laughs and suggest infecting you with swine flu to help develop cures for sick pigs.

Festival of the day


I don't know about you, but I'll definitely be in Spain for this one.
The Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)
June 11-15, 2009
Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
Free

First staged in 1620, this strange event celebrating Corpus Christi sees grown men dressed as the Devil leaping over a row of babies lying in the street.

Daily aggregation of Michelle Bachmann's retardation

Because she is an adult of the highest order, Michelle Bachmann decided to take this opportunity of a Mexican outbreak of the swine flu to do what all really smart people do: find the highest ranking Democrat and blame it all on them.
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, following Rush Limbaugh's cue, suggested on Tuesday that President Obama was to blame for the swine flu crisis. She went even farther than the talk show host, implying that swine flu epidemics are a Democratic phenomenon that dates back to President Carter.

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."
Oh how brave of her. She doesn't actually have the guts to say it, but she just wants to heavily imply it. Of course, like always, he quick rush to use her deeply researched scientific/historical revelation to blame everything on the Demmycrats and socialism wasn't based anywhere within the realm of the factual. Other than blaming something that was started in Mexico by pigs on Obama (he's an Indonesian Muslim human, not a Mexican pig, remember?), it was actually Gerald Ford who was President when the last swine flu outbreak happened. I'm not saying she's the country's dumbest elected official, I'm just think it's an interesting coincidence she can't seem to get anything right, yet keeps talking.

In another victory for intelligence, John Boehner decided to create the House GOP American Energy Solutions Group, a comically named group that is going to pretend a return to using whales for oil will solve everything. Of course he named Michelle Bachmann to the group, because what better way to signal to the voters that you're serious about tackling energy problems and clean/green energy by making sure an avid global warming denier who continually lies about energy and the environment is front and center.
"[T]here isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. There isn’t one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle." [4/22/09]

"And the science indicates that human activity is not the cause of all this global warming. And that in fact, nature is the cause, with solar flares, etc." [3/22/09]

"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. ... We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that." [8/12/08]

"The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax." [3/15/08]

Why wouldn't you want this bright mind making energy policy? At the very least this energy solutions group will make for entertaining fodder. Right after fellow committee members John Shikmus declares CO2 caps as "war on plant food" or an "assault on democracy" and Mike Pence calls caps a "declaration of economic war on the Midwest", Michelle can jump in and say we've angered the Carbon God and must sacrifice livestock to make restitution. It's a solution. It counts.

That's one solution

Egypt MPs seek 'immediate death' for nation's pigs
Egypt's lower house of parliament called on Tuesday for the nation's 250,000 pigs to be killed immediately because of fears over the spread of swine flu, state news agency MENA reported.

"The People's Assembly urged the government to immediately start culling pigs and not to relocate pig-breeding farms away from residential areas for fear of the spread of swine flu," MENA said.

Egypt's 80-million population consists mainly of Muslims, whose religion forbids them from eating pork, as well as an estimated six to 10 percent Christian Copts who may eat pig meat.
Yeah, I guess that's one way to 'solve' everything. Except that the disease already jumped over to humans if in fact pigs are to blame. The problem already happened and now it's humans carrying the disease that are the ones who spread it. Banning travel to/from countries already in the throes of the flupocalypse would be preferable to pig genocide.

But seriously, how hard are Muslim countries laughing now? First capitalism bent us over and went through our pockets, now our love of bacon and pork chop sandwiches will catch us all our mucousy death. They've been warning about pigs for years. No swine for breakfast, no swine on their cheeseburgers, no bacon bits in their hummus, no huge factory pig farms, no swine flu. Live and learn, I guess. Or learn and then quickly die of the swine flu, as the case may be.

Perspective

Swine flu/H1N1/Captain Trips global pandemic flupocalypse: 159 suspected deaths

Regular, unpigged, normal good ole fashioned American flu: 20,000 flu related deaths in an average flu season

So, you know, not exactly the greatest threat to humanity....yet. On the pants shitting side, the H1N1 Influenza A subtype also puts this swine flu outbreak in the same category as the Spanish flu that killed 50-100 million.

Clever internet-based distraction of the day


Craig Damrauer's More New Math.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Broken News: Specter to electorate: "...from my cold, dead hands”

HARRISBURG—In a stunning announcement today, Pennsylvania’s senior Senator, Arlen Specter, announced that he was switching from the Republican party to the Democratic party in a thinly veiled attempt to hold onto his seat in the 2010 midterms.

“Good people of Pennsylvania, you will knock me out of this seat when I’m dead and fucking buried,” the sweaty and panicked new Democrat announced to the assembled media. “With recent demographic shifts in the state, coupled with your performance in last year's presidential election, I can see the writing on the wall. And that writing says ‘kill, strangle, wound, lie, and cheat anything or anyone who tries to take this seat.' You thought a Republican primary challenge was going to take me down? I just flipped the script, motherfuckers. Specter forever! You can have my seat when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”

The Senator is of course referring to his Republican primary challenge from orthodox right winger Pat Toomey. Early polling has Senator Specter down over 20 points and unlikely to even gain the nomination of his party.

Those close to the Senator note that while he will be nominally a Democrat, he in no way will change his moderate Republican views nor alter the enabling pisspot behavior that had him decrying the same tactics, opinions, and judges he would almost immediately help push through his Judiciary Committee during the Bush years.

“Oh yeah, he’s still the same guy, albeit more desperate and worried” an aide to the Senator said. “This is completely a naked move to hold onto that seat with those wrinkled, bony hands for as long as he can. He didn’t suddenly become enamored with socialism. He’s just hoping that residual disgust over the Republican leadership of the country will let him waltz back to his seat, when the only thing that’s changed about him is the letter next to his name.”

Political analysts see Specter easily able to coast to victory in 2010 based soley on name recognition and party affiliation. While the right wing attitudes of Pat Toomey are perfect for the fever swamps of the Republican primary and surely would have defeated Specter, in a larger general election they taint Toomey with the similar stink of right wing crazy that Pennsylvania, which formerly called Rick Santorum its senator, is still desperately trying to wash off.

“He’s a Democrat now?” asked Billy Wozniak, a confused and disinterested voter from Kittaning, in between naps. “Whatever. I can’t reflexively vote against him based on party affiliation, so I’m not going to bother to learn if he’s made his ideas more like the state he represents. I’ll just assume he does and continue voting for him based on the fact that he’s been senator since this state was founded.” He finished before dozing off again.

“Wait!” Wozniak said, snapping awake with a snort and a cough. “Wasn’t his ’04 re-election entirely based around the fact that it was his last go-round and we all needed to reward him for being elected so many times by electing him one final time… because we owed him or something? Ahh fuck it, whatever. Like I have time to learn about a third party.”

Sources close to Specter say he has been taking judo and a krav maga class, engaged in weapons training, and carries no less than 12 knives on his body at any given time. An increasingly paranoid and tense Specter feels that these challenges may soon move beyond the mere electoral process and may have to move his contesting of the seat into straight physical combat and murder of those he sees as potential rivals.

Those close to the senator say that Mr. Specter has begun the process of mentally preparing himself to devolve into an almost animalistic, feral state should post-party switch polling not show an immediate uptick in his election prospects. Should this occur, Specter plans to paint himself the same color as the actual senate chair in which he sits and proceed to attack anyone who enters his peripheral vision.

Aides hope this contingency will be avoided by the state once again rubber-stamping another six years in office for Mr. Specter.

“Don’t they owe him?” one aide was heard to say. “I mean he really, nakedly wants to hold onto the thing in any unprincipled way possible. Can't they admire his conviction to bend his convictions just so he can stay in office? Isn’t that enough? I mean, this is America!”

This same aide was reluctant to confirm that, mere minutes after his press conference, Specter received a personalized invitation from Senator Joe Lieberman offering him provisional membership in the Senate's Emasculated Irrelevance Club.

63-INRI


From the great state of Florida comes yet another way to show fellow motorists that you love Jesus way more than them. Besides the Christ fish, the pro-life bumper stickers, the McCain/Palin bumper sticker, the truck nuts, and the full size oak cross you carry on your roof rack.

Sadly we have nothing of the sort in PA. The best I can get is one with an otter on it. Gotta love that Jesus plate though. Color coordinated yet properly stressing that Jesus died for our sins in a way that expresses Florida is the sunshine state: with a sun shining behind our crucified Lord. Subtle. Not sure if this is my favorite state plate though. Oklahoma will always have a special place in my heart.


Shame the eagle couldn't be shedding a single tear.

Benedict Arlen?

I guess Specter finally realized he stands a better chance at reelection as 1/60th of a potential filibuster-proof majority than as one of a few mildly competent legislators in a party lacking leadership, an agenda, or enough horse tranquilizer to keep its former Vice President in check.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Several officials say veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania intends to switch parties, advancing his own hopes of winning a new term next year while pushing Democrats one step closer to a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.
Nifty. Did Rahm figure out how to seat Al Franken yet? Our elected betters might actually be able to get something done this session.

UPDATE: Yes, indeedy.

Compassion

Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget Irish airline Ryanair, on trying not to lose money because people don't want to travel and catch swine flu compassion:
But the outspoken head of Irish budget airline Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, played down the danger of the virus to travellers.

"It is a tragedy only for people living... in slums in Asia or Mexico, but will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No," he told journalists.

O'Leary said that "a couple of Strepsils (a brand of throat lozenges) will do the job."
That's right. Swine flu isn't a deadly disease that the WHO says "can not be contained" or has us at a "turning point", it's a tiny little problem that a cheery attitude, a cheap ticket, and a lozenge can take care of. Everyone is overreacting. Thanks for dropping the knowledge Dr. O'Leary. Fly Ryanair.

That little son of a bitch

J'Accuse!!!!!!

The health professionals in the US, Mexico, and at the WHO have finally given us the one thing we need to know during this potentially deadly flupocalyse: a scape pig goat. No, not a large multi-national farming concern with large pig herds producing rivers of shit right near villages, it was all the demented, devious plan of a four year old boy. Probably. They've narrowed it down to the boy and Smithfield.
A Mexican village whose inhabitants were overwhelmed by an outbreak of respiratory illness starting in February has emerged as a possible source of the swine flu outbreak which has now spread across the world.

The state government of Veracruz in eastern Mexico has confirmed one case of swine flu in the village of La Gloria with the sufferer named locally as a four-year-old boy, Edgar Hernández Hernández. The federal government said tonight that he tested positive for the same strain of the virus which has claimed lives in Mexico.
...
"The sample of one of the cases, that of a four-year-old boy, was kept," said federal health minister José Ángel Córdova. "It was among the samples sent [to labs abroad] and that came back confirmed."
What a little shit. He comes down with the earliest known case of swine flu and doesn't even have the decency to inform everyone.

The piece also goes into the Mexican investigation of Smithfield on the premise that the kid's village, the 60% infected, and the proximity to a pig farm are somehow related. Smithfield says that none of it's pigs are sick, mostly because they've pumped them so full of antibiotics the pigs are legally classified as four legged penicillin, but that they are willing to work with health organizations to clear up this convergence of timelines, geography, names, outbreaks, and series of unrelated coincidences that all happened around their "farm". Everything is a coincidence.

By the by, if you happen to be in Veracruz and notice the smell of BBQ in the air, that is in no way the disposal of evidence. Smithfield is just having a massive BBQ to celebrate the fact that they've exonerated themselves. No further need to look into things. Just stop by and have a free rack of ribs. On the house.

I see no connection

Enemy combatant

What would you say if the largest and earliest concentration of the swine flu came from a village right smack dab next to one of the largest US owned factory farms for pigs?You'd probably say "I'm sure that's just a massive coincidence that one of the most unsanitary type of mass production farms replete with rivers of pig shit, disease carrying insects, and Mexican food production standards was right next to the place where 30% of villagers came down with a disease called swine flu, noted for it's similarity to a disease found in pigs." If you said that, you're probably part of the American media.
Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site.
...
From what I can tell, the possible link to Smithfield has not been reported in the U.S. press. Searches of Google News and the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all came up empty. The link is being made in the Mexican media, however. “Granjas Carroll, causa de epidemia en La Gloria,” declared a headline in the Vera Cruz-based paper La Marcha.
...

According to one community resident, the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated, creating water and air pollution in the region. I witnessed—and smelled—the same thing in Hardin County, Iowa, a couple of years ago, another area marked by intensive industrial hog production. The article goes on to say that area residents have long complained of “fetid odors” in the air and water, and swarms of flies hovering around waste lagoons. Like their counterparts who live in CAFO-heavy U.S. areas, they also complain of respiratory ailments. Now, with 30 percent of the area’s residents now infected with the virulent flu bug, people are demanding that state and federal authorities inspect hog operations there. So far, reports La Marcha, the response has been: nada.

The Mexico City daily La Jornada has also made the link. According to the newspaper, the Mexican health agency IMSS has acknowledged that the original carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

Seems to me that it would be some sort of news that Mexican authorities were looking at US owned factory farms as the source would be some sort of news. Or note that with the Mexican health agency pegging the source as the fly ridden shit rivers, that Smithfield is one of the biggest polluters on earth and has generated some of the largest fines in EPA history. Doesn't this seem like a lead that should be pursued or at least mentioned? Another byproduct of factory farming and lax environmental regulations that isn't so great? Maybe it isn't to blame, but shouldn't we...rule it out? No? Fine. I'll see you in the hospitals after I come down with this totally random flu that just appeared out of nowhere.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Important announcement



Poor Dottie. That chihuahua is probably dead too. I'm not sure I like the chances of the jive soul brother or the go-getting codger either.

Broken In Brief: Cheney blasts Obama over swine flu, three injured

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION--Continuing his assault against the new administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Obama of stoking fears about a mythical Swine Flu in order to distract people's attention from his creeping socialist agenda.

Appearing on Meet The Press yesterday, Cheney characterized Obama's handling of the burgeoning Swine Flu outbreak as "A transparently cynical attempt to manipulate the American people through baseless threats of apocalyptic scenarios."

As the Obama administration approaches its 100th day in office, many political figures are weighing in on its progress to date. Mr. Cheney has been at the forefront of the conservative condemnation of Obama's stance on everything from national security to the economy to judicial appointments. Near the end of Sunday's interview, Cheney appeared to begin frothing at the mouth. He then also accused the Obama administration of rigging an energy bill to benefit campaign donors, exploiting homosexuality as a wedge issue during elections, commanding Sen. Patrick Leahy to perform an anatomically impossible sexual maneuver, and shooting a 78 year-old man in the face.

As the resulting shockwave of pure hypocrisy knocked MTP host David Gregory from his chair, shattered nearby glass, caused massive internal bleeding and organ damage to three interns, and buckled the structural foundation of the studio, Cheney surveyed the damage, smiled, kissed his biceps, and was heard to approvingly mutter to himself that he's "still got 'it'."

Picture of the day: science gone mad



The world's first transgenic glow in the dark dog, Ruppy. Compounding this affront to science: Ruppy is a beagle, God's cruel joke on the dog loving people of the world.

Sorry Glowstik Inc., looks like you just got put out of business. These dogs don't even need to be broken in two or shaken.

Pobody's nerfect

Remember the thoroughly adult stimulus bill debate our elected betters in Congress had? You know the one. Where a bunch of hacks decided that cutting out stimulative sections of the bill because the "numbers sounded high" and knocking good ideas out of the bill in some vain quest to achieve a total dollar sum they picked at random in an attempt to appear bipartisan and look like they were doing something. Remember? Boy I sure hope none of the stuff they knocked out has grossly dangerous implications for battling global flu pandemics.
Indeed, like Rove, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was apparently unwilling to be seen as endorsing such "funny" sounding priorities as flu "preparedness" in an economic recovery package. Perhaps in an attempt to prove her fiscal conservative bona fides, Collins repeatedly insisted that Obey's pandemic preparedness funding did not belong in the bill:
COLLINS: There's funding to help improve our preparedness for a pandemic flu. There is funding to help improve cyber security. What does that have to do with an economic stimulus package? [CNN, 1/31/09]

COLLINS: I think everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu. But does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No. We should not. [MSNBC, 2/5/09]
After the funding was stripped, another moderate Republican attempting to appear tough on "unnecessary" spending in the recovery package, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), endorsed Collins' crusade against the pandemic preparedness funding
Whoops! It turns out that chortling at stuff that sounds funny, using it as a basis for governing, listening to Karl Rove, and randomly hacking things out of the stimulus package all didn't seem like such smart things to do in hindsight. And the logic seemed so airtight too. Apparently Collins' "it sounds funny, cut it" is a better argument than David Obey's (who put the provision in) "a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse" argument. And why not, they're both rational arguments made by serious people. Well, one is.

So in case you were wondering why, despite years of warning that we're all going to be killed by some superflu pandemic, we haven't spent money on pandemic flu preparations....well, we were, but the name sounded funny. Perhaps if it was called the "Extra Freedomy Way to Protect America First From Mucousy Flu Death Plan For America. Freedom!" plan it might have had a chance. But don't worry, now that the problem is already here, I'm sure they'll get right on it. Because prevention is always a shortsighted waste of money, but shutting the barn door after the animals get out is serious and responsible leadership.

R.I.P. Newspapers

Wall Street Journal Only Top 25 Newspaper To Report Circulation Increase
Circulation at the nation's newspapers continues to fall.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations said Monday that average daily circulation declined 7.1 percent in the October-March period from the same six-month span in 2007-2008.

That was faster than the 4.6 percent fall recorded in the April-September period of 2008.

Sunday circulation fell 5.4 percent in the latest period.
...
Newspaper sales have been declining since the early 1990s, but the drop has accelerated in recent years. Circulation revenue has largely held up, though, because of price increases.
Good news. As long as you're a national paper that largely covers one sector of the country (say business/economy) and that sector goes into complete meltdown, then there will be increased interest in your reporting and your circulation numbers will go up.........0.61%. It also helps if you start to move from "right wing" into "crazy right wing" territory. Otherwise your paper drops like a stone as people decide they like reading your newspapers online for free. Maybe another round of price increases, firings of senior reporters, and sending a severed donkey head with a note that say "Thanks" to the guy who created Craigslist will make things all better. Better get that Plan B thing figured out pretty soon, I think things are starting to look dire.

In the small miracles department, the NY Post dropped 20%, the biggest drop in the top 25 papers. Proving that even in a freefalling industry, God does sometimes mete out extra punishment to those who deserve it.

Sorry newspapers, it was nice knowing you. Hopefully you get a business model worked out so we don't have to rely on *shudder* cable TV news *shudder* to break important stories or do investigative journalism. Forget your pig viruses and financial apocalypses, that's the end as we know it.

Historical reenactment

Seems those wacky kids at Kent State just never learn. Always stirring things up, making the authorities want to come in and shoot all the students. This time it was over the time honored principle of burning shit in a huge bonfire because the semester is over. Those kids with their ideals. It's so cute.
An end-of-year college block party spiraled out of control as police fired pellets and used pepper spray to break up hundreds of rioting students who sparked a string of street fires at Kent State University.

Video posted on the Internet shows students hurling furniture and street signs into the flames on Saturday night as a SWAT team in riot gear converged on the crowd. Kent police said the party grew violent after one reveler was arrested and students began pelting officers with bottles, bricks and rocks.

It was the first violent clash between Kent State students and police in years. In 1970, four Kent State students were killed by Ohio National Guard troops during a campus protest of the invasion of Cambodia.
Wait, I get it: those history buffs at Kent State decided to get a week head start on their planned reenactment of the 1970 shooting. Taking the place of student activists with a cause were student alcoholics with a desire to burn stuff. The burning furniture and street party stood in as metaphors or the burning rage protesters felt over Viet Nam/Cambodia and the two American political parties the protesters felt had betrayed them. The police stood in for the National Guard. In the vein of "improving on the original": rubber bullets stood in for real ones. Those parties involved say it was a tremendous change that allowed them to attain some of the accuracy without so much of that bloodshed and body count.

I must commend the authorities. They did seem to mishandle things this time, but it was a tremendous improvement over the last organized event at Kent that got "mishandled". As for the students: learn from your predecessors. No one parties in the open at Kent in late April/early May unless they want shot at by the cops or army. That's twice now, don't let the third time be the charm. You know, where the po-po finish you all off for good with dull machetes or something.

Good morning, we're all going to die

Here we were thinking this financial/economic crisis was going to bring the world to it's swift end. Nope. Should have seen the classic the Stand superflu angle coming down the pike. Who's to blame? Mexico, Mexican pigs, and Mexicans who kiss sick pigs on the mouth. Swine flu. It sounds funny and it'll kill us all.
Governments are racing to find and contain pockets of swine flu around the globe, seeking to stem both the threat of a pandemic and public panic.

"We're preparing in an environment where we really don't know ultimately what the size or seriousness of this outbreak is going to be," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday.

In Mexico, the outbreak's epicenter, soldiers handed out 6 million face masks to help stop the spread of the novel virus that is suspected in up to 103 deaths.
...
There is not a global pandemic yet, but waiting until scientists know if the new virus is going to spread rapidly and easily would be too late.
It's not a pandemic....yet. Everyone says not to panic.....yet. But the signs are there. We've declared a public health emergency, the WHO is talking about "pandemic potential", and Europeans are being urged to avoid North America lest they get caught up in an EU backed mission to wall up the continent and burn everything inside. It's already spread to NYC, Texas, Canada, and California, and by the end of summer the remnants of society will be collecting in Boulder or Las Vegas to wage apocalyptic battle against one another.

If there's one silver lining it's that the flupocalypse has distracted is from financial Ragnarok. In fact, we can even blame plunging markets on flu fears. This should even provide a boost to our flagging newspaper and fear mongering industries. I can already smell the thousands of "How to Save Your Loved Ones From the Pig Virus", the "PANIC!!!!!", and "Don't Panic!!!!!!" articles churning up. The other silver lining? I made money on a bet that our flu based end would be mammal related, not avian. So, you know, I'll be pretty well of as I try to rebuild society early next year. Which is nice.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1975





Crosby what? See you next year for your next end of season reminder just who rules the roost in PA. Hint: it's the one with the captain who can't grow a mustache. 1975!

Stat fact: Pens are 1-0 when Bea Arthur dies. If it's a long playoffs we might need to sacrifice Betty White and Rue McClanahan.....for victory. Malkin, Fleury, Crosby, and the deaths of all the remaining Golden Girls will fuel our cup run.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Headline of the day

'Cops Tase Stubborn Naked Wizard at Coachella'
Among the many performances at the Coachella music festival, there was one act more disturbing and brutal than the rest. As hundreds of music fans looked on, three police officers beat down and repeatedly tasered a Naked Wizard who apparently wasn’t eager to throw a robe over his magic wand.
Click the link, there's video.

Weekend Art

Do you hate those cutesy little ceramic sculptures of kids doing wholesome shit as much as I do? Good. That makes you, me, and Barnaby Barford. One of us is a really talented and funny artist.

Enjoy the rest HERE. And then go the fuck outside. It's gorgeous.

Torture has enabled time travel



Here I thought time travel would involve wormholes, advanced physics, Superman reversing the rotation of the Earth, a wish granting genie, smoke monsters/electromagnetism/mysterious islands, a DeLorean, or ring lasers. Turns out all you need is to dunk an Arab guy in water a hundred times and not only do you get information to stop a terrorist attack, but then you magically travel back in time a year so that you'll be able to use it to thwart an attack you already thwarted.

I was wrong about this torture thing, Karl. You are a have given humanity a great tool. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go kill the infant Hitler. Someone fill up my bathtub and find me a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

Like father, like daughter

In the torture debate we've heard from many sources debating the merits and legality of torture. Except one: Dick Cheney's kids. Liz Cheney has a notion and she wants you to hear it. Her contention? Of course: it's not torture even if it was done, which it wasn't. She's gotta make a full throated defense, because she really doesn't want to make that weekly trek over to the federal pen to see her dad and put $50 bucks in his prison account.
O'DONNELL: Well Liz, we'll get to that argument in a minute, about whether the means justify the ends, whether torture justifies itself...

CHENEY: Well, it wasn't torture, so that's not the right way to lay out the argument.

O'DONNELL: Ok.

CHENEY: Everything that was done in this program, as has been laid out and described before, are tactics that our own people go through in SERE training.

Later in the interview, Cheney insisted that "We did not torture our own people. These techniques are not torture."
As we see the Cheney genes fully kick in, we get to see her move from basic lying to baldfaced lying, replete with invented "facts" to bolster her lies. SERE training (which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Evasion. Apparently they couldn't come up with a different second E.) is quite different than the torture that her old man got pushed through. It's so different that even the Bush Justice Department was kind enough to point that out....in their own torture memos. The CIA was kind enough to make the distinction as well.

But that misses the central point: soldiers go through SERE trailing to help them experience torture and learn to resist any possible torture by the enemy. But once your so deep into lying, that kind of stuff doesn't penetrate the mental undisclosed location you've sent your sense of morality or honesty to. I hope one day when I have children, or possibly midget hostages, that we'll have shared interests. Hopefully those intersts will be sports or a fondness for reading and not a shared affinity for enacting, covering up, and excusing torture. But then again, different strokes for different folks.

The Bronx won't have the Arabian oryx to kick around any more

How bad is the economy? Even animals are getting fired. That's right, you're going to have to elbow a goddamn ibex out of the way so you can pick up your unemployment check. Deer on the dole. You know deer aren't getting any jobs. Who wants to see a deer when you can see a lion sleeping?
Layoffs in the city have spread from the piggy traders on Wall Street to the animals at the Bronx Zoo.

The institution is closing four exhibits and shipping hundreds of creatures to zoos and aquariums around the country, officials told the City Council Cultural Affairs Committee yesterday. Deer, bats, porcupines, foxes, lemurs, caimans and antelopes will be pink-slipped as part of the 114-year-old zoo's effort to cope with a $15 million budget shortfall.
...
The Bronx Zoo -- the country's largest urban zoo, which 2.1 million people visited last year alone -- is shutting its World of Darkness, Rare Animal Range and exhibits of the Arabian oryx and blesbok, two types of antelope.
...
The shuttered displays were chosen based on maintenance costs and popularity among visitors, zoo officials said.
One question: How high can the maintenance costs be on a blesbok? Actually, second question: What the fuck is a blesbok?

That's gotta hurt, not only do they fire you and ship you off to somewhere like the Cleveland Zoo, they rub it in by telling you that it was also because you're massively unpopular. Somehow I don't think many tigers are getting the brush off that the antelope and all it's boring, bizarrely named antelope brethren are getting. Only $1.7 million of this is the fault of Mayor Bloomberg, which isn't really his fault. He was told if they cut funding for the zoo, then it would cause them to get rid of all the "lemurs and night monkeys", which he took as racist code. As of press time there is no clue as to what color he thought lemurs were a racist analogue for.

Fare thee well blesbok, dik-dik, caicano, guanaco, cok-cok, Arabian oryx, penis-penis, and caiman. You will be missed. Good luck finding a job in this economy.

Broken In Brief: Fox commissions, cancels idea Joss Whedon just had

HOLLYWOOD—In an unprecedented move, Fox Broadcasting has decided to take the extraordinary step of almost simultaneously commissioning and canceling a new series conceptualized in the bathtub earlier this morning by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon. This announcement comes as his current show, the low-rated Dollhouse, has found itself in danger of not being renewed for a second season.

“We just like being in the Whedon business,” said Fox Director of Programming Tom Niven. “We really enjoyed putting Joss’ last two shows, Firefly and the about-to-be-canceled Dollhouse, in rough timeslots, showing episodes out of order, forcing last-minute rewrites and reshoots, and generally jerking him around by the balls so the projects never find their audience. But like everyone else, we've been forced to make cutbacks lately, so we decided to eliminate everything that traditionally comes between optioning a Joss Whedon project and mercilessly running it into the ground for no apparent reason."

According to Whedon, the show, conceived while he decided to add more hot water to his morning bath, was to be called Robo-something or “something with the word Mech or Mecha in the title." The series, which was to chronicle a robot or possibly a group of robots on the run from… something, or possibly time traveling, was to star Felicia Day and David Boreanaz. During the application of shampoo to his hair, Mr. Whedon definitely thought it would be cool if it were possible to have Han Solo or a 25 year-old Paul Newman to function as the villainous group of… whatever… chasing the robots, perhaps even starring as the corrupt Time Police. Or something.

Cries of anger immediately went up among Whedon’s large and loyal fanbase. Message boards caved under the traffic as the portly and pale-skinned horde lamented the untimely demise of what they were certain was going to be another genre classic. They hope that by showing their support for the project and by buying the upcoming book release of the conceptual ideas behind the show, including an authentic reproduction of a drawing on a napkin of a stick figure human with a stick figure robot in a headlock with the cryptic question “Laser eyes?” above it, will prove to Fox that there is enough loyalty surrounding the project to forestall cancellation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Summers Slumbers, or, Lie to me, Larry! Lie to me!

We've all been there: Big meeting in the middle of the day right after a late night vandalizing John Boener's office, urinating in the capital rotunda, prank-calling the Secret Service, or whatever it is high-level government officials do to get their shriveling white rocks off. These things happen. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain these are the precise conditions under which Joe Biden helped write the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Aside from Biden being a seven-time Senator from the great tax haven state of Delaware.

That said, White House economic adviser Larry Summers has to step it up. Today was Barry's big meeting with the executives of all those credit card companies who seem genuinely worried that when our elected betters champion a new era of corporate responsibility, that era might actually come to pass. This is child's play, Larry, and not the last you'll see of it. You react to public outrage at the rich & powerful by sitting down with the rich & powerful. Wag the finger, wink the eye, and it's time for lunch. Note: It never hurts to have a bunch of cameras present.

But this was a problem for Larry, who couldn't seem to stay awake through the meeting. Why was this a problem? There were a bunch of fucking cameras present.

The real tragedy here is that this was all so easily preventable. Take heed, Lawrence. The next time you're headed into a meeting room crammed with media, take thirty seconds and swing by Rahm Emanuel's office. Find something that looks like THIS. It's full of pure cocaine. You'll get a lot of work done that day, I promise. And more over, you won't make an utter ass of yourself in front of a badly broken country during a meeting whose express written purpose is to help un-break said country.

...awful jackass.

Oh please let this happen

Sweet Baby Jesus, lying there in your manger, surrounded by cute stable animals and hay, could you get off your goldbricking God-infant ass and make this happen already?
GRODIN: We can waterboard you?

HANNITY: Sure.

GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. ... I'll let you do it. I'll do it for the troops' families.
Waterboarding Hannity....for charity. For the troops. Do it on pay-per-view and the DailyKos commenters alone will fund two new Walter Reed hospitals.

This raises two important questions: 1. Does Hannity, self-important windbag that he is, actually have the guts to do what his huffed up, lizard brain, knee jerk reaction to having his masculinity challenged made him say? 2. Will Hannity actually come to the conclusion that just about every journalist who gets waterboarded comes to the second the water hits their face: that it's torture? Or are we going to see him pretend to shrug it off like it's Spring Break fraternity hazing?

Start up the donation site, I pledge $50 bucks and my solemn vow to not stop laughing for the entire duration of this pasty blowhard getting the full brunt of the torture he's been excusing for the past few years.

Broken News: Paranoid anti-totalitarian employs online social networking

SEATTLE—Today the greater Seattle area was shocked to learn that area man Nick Scofield, who came to local prominence after his arrest for a nude protest of what he termed “the pervasive surveillance police state” and illegal wiretapping during the 5th inning of a Mariners/Indians baseball game last year, was keeping anyone with computer access updated of his whereabouts through the popular web application Twitter.

"Going down to shop at Standish’s Market before lunch with members of EarthFirst at Mary’s All Organic Café" was the timestamped message that greeted followers of his feed mid-morning. This was the sixth in what would eventually be 17 updates of Scofield's itinerary, location, activities, and lists of people he was meeting with, as well as references to discussions in which he'd engaged.

“I just think that this is an important tool that can be used to keep friends and family updated as to one’s daily goings-on in a way that e-mails and blogging simply can’t do,” Mr. Schofield said as he left his home to a protest against the immunity given to telecoms for conducting illegal surveillance on the American people. “I think these tools are becoming increasingly important to help people organize and speak out against the overbearing surveillance state foisted upon them by an unsympathetic government. What better way to keep your fellow freedom fighters informed than through hourly updates describing your every righteous move and detailing your next step towards liberation?"

Dr. Aaron Harrington, lead ACLU counsel on electronic privacy matters, was unavailable for comment. According to his Facebook status, Dr. Harrington had left his Washington DC offices early for a weekend family retreat to Vermont, where his wife and two high school-aged children would be staying at the Humble Inn Bed & Breakfast, thirteen miles northeast of Burlington, in rooms 7 and 8.

Fears over government surveillance and wiretapping have increased over the past few weeks as news stories have revealed governmental abuses of wiretapping within the NSA, the inadequacy of laws to prevent such measures, and even a sitting US Congresswoman being wiretapped.

“I just can’t believe the abuses,” remarked US Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), who was caught up in a shady NSA probe. “I just think that if it can happen to me, it can happen to any American citizen. Actually, I don’t think that, I know that. Mostly because I helped authorize and support these spying measures and only got outraged when I found out they betrayed me and used the law I helped use to gut legal oversights to wiretap me. They only stopped spying on me because they thought it would harm any chance of my supporting new and even more invasive wiretap legislation. I fear that other Americans need to take heed, because they won’t be given this colossally hypocritical opportunity. Strike that: I know they won’t.”

Such concerns have only driven Mr. Scofield to expand the scope of his efforts. Since his arrest, Scofield has started a wordpress blog, youcantseeme, and a LiveJournal account to keep a diary of his daily life. Scofield has also joined Facebook, where he lists all his friends and acquaintances, expanded his Flickr site to include more photo documentation of his daily life, added a Google maps application to his Blackberry so friends can see where he is on a city map at any given second of the day, and has moved his Twittering beyond simple flashes of what he is doing to his exact “of the moment” thoughts.

“If the Feds want to come and take me in for opposing their Big Brother moves, then I want the world to know where I was and what I was thinking, with clear notation of most of my activities, thoughts, meeting places and known accomplices for the preceding months. So people know exactly who I am and what I stood for,” Scofield said in the midst of Twittering ‘interviewing with reporter about the oppressive nature of constant monitoring’ from his Blackberry.

When asked to reconcile his opposition to government wiretapping with the sheer volume of information he provides to anyone willing to look, whether a phonetap could ever glean as much information as any of the methods he was freely providing, and to address the whole semi-hypocritical premise of this satirical article, Mr. Scofield paused. As his eyes widened and his mouth stood agape, the full brunt of the irony hitting him, he could only remark “Oh, yeah... This whole web 2.0 thing doesn’t seem as smart or helpful in retrospect, does it?”

Hey, remember that war we had going on?

Everything is OK now. In Iraq, where there's allegedly still a full scale war going on, we were able to strike a blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq by capturing their top man during a wave of bombings that killed 70+.
Iraqi forces said today that they had arrested one of the most wanted al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq, even as his suicide bombers killed more than 70 people in attacks in and around Baghdad.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, was held in the capital after a tip-off, said Major General Qasim Atta, Baghdad’s security spokesman.

The Islamic State of Iraq is a shadowy, al-Qaeda-linked, Islamist umbrella group that in 2006 declared an independent caliphate in mainly Sunni West Baghdad, as well as in areas to the north and west. Modeled on the Taliban in Afghanistan, it murdered and intimidated anyone who did not adhere to its strict Islamist rulings.
See, not another meaningless #2, a real #1 this time. Obama is producing results. Though as a precaution it should be noted that they have announced his capture or killing numerous times in the past and some agencies even doubt his existence. Surely the alleged capture of one of the leaders of a small faction of terrorists that groups in unconnected cells and were only a small part of the insurgency, will make things all right. I mean make things even closer to the paradise that Iraq already is after the surge fixed everything.

I'm kind of surprised this news even made it into the media mainstream. I guess everyone didn't get the memo that America had forgotten about Iraq and that it wasn't important anyway because we're pulling out soon to throw some money at Afghanistan. Did they not see the big ceremonial "washing of hands" we had had for this whole Iraq war experience? They still want to contest this? We still have to pay attention? Bah.

Shep's brain finally breaks

It must be rough being Shepard Smith. He seems to be the only guy on Fox News who honestly believes that the Fair and Balanced thing isn't just a large punchline to a 24-7 joke. He actually tries to be rational and balanced. But then after working day after day after fruitless and sould crushing day, the Fox News experience starts to get to him, slowly building up the rage and bile. Then Fox does something like try to defend torture 24-7 and Shep's brain melts down and he explodes during a segment where a purported judge is trying to justify torture.



Good Shep, you're a little late to the party, but thanks for coming. Well I guess that was one minute of the day where Fox wasn't completely whitewashing torture. Now excuse me, I have to go watch Bill O'Reilly try to browbeat a former Special Forces captain who doesn't think torture is the awesomest thing ever.

Quote of the day

MSNBC host Norah O'Donnell interrupting MSNBC analyst Phil Musser while he was relating an anecdote on visiting Guantanamo.
MUSSER: The bottom line is he's a guy that I watched up close in action and I have great respect for his judgment and wisdom in this regard. And having seen the face of terror, you know I've walked through Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay when I was serving in the government, and it changes your nature of the threat to look at the people an the other sides of those fences. And the bottom line is

--NORAH O'DONNELL: So just by looking at them, Phil, you can tell they were guilty?

MUSSER: You know, I could tell, I could tell that basically that they --

NORAH O'DONNELL: And that they deserved waterboarding?

MUSSER: Norah, I'm not making any particular allegations against individual people, but what I'm saying is that the nature of this threat is very, very different and the record of the Bush/Cheney administration post-9/11 is to keep people safe. And I think most Republicans - you ask people in Newton, Iowa, they're probably happy our country is doing everything possible to keep our country safe.
And there we see the sort of intelligence level of the torture debate. On one side people arguing law, morality, and humanity.......on the other side people arguing wishes, fear, feelings, and looking at people and knowing they're guilty.

Though in fairness to Musser he did mention he was no expert and that his eyeballing was in no way scientific, he'd have to measure head bumps to see if they had the craniums of terrorists/cattle rustlers/stagecoach tippers, but he did feel all those men were reaaaaaaaaaly guilty. Rest easy Newton, Iowa, the terrorists haven't attacked you because of our constant torture schedule. And because you're fucking Newton, Iowa.

While they're down

Sure, football season is still five months away and making fun of Cleveland is akin to trading punches with a quadruple amputee. But damn if this isn't funny. Be sure to look for Sushi Rock, accurately described as the perfect place if you're a douchebag.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quote of the day

Jane Harman (D-CA) on voting to authorize and cover up illegal warrantless wiretapping and the sense of betrayal she feels because they decided to use it to illegally wiretap against her.
HARMAN: I'm just very disappointed that my country -- I'm an American citizen just like you are -- could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I'm one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, but I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I'm thinking about others who have no bully pulpit and may not be aware, as I was not, that right now somewhere, someone's listening in on their conversations, and they're innocent Americans.
And off in the distance we hear the violent explosion of the world's first machine that measures irony. This woman didn't give two shits when she thought the government was just going to illegally spy on the peasant class, but when she finds out they used it to investigate her shady dealings on behalf of AIPAC: OUTRAGE!!!!!!!! at the betrayal of American values and gross abuse of power that she was totally aware of and supported wholeheartedly.

Don't like them wiretapping you? Well, I guess you shouldn't have voted to allow them to. Now you'll have to excuse me Jane, my sides are starting to hurt from laughing too hard.

Torture History 101

You have to applaud the Bush Administration. They don't care about which torture techniques was prosecuted as a war crime by the US during WWII, what torture techniques were used against American pilots by the North Koreans during the Korean War, what techniques Pol Pot used while murdering and torturing his people in Cambodia, or what techniques got their start during the Spanish Inquisition, they just focused on what worked. Or in this case, what was proven to not work and in fact elicit false confessions. And by 'don't care' I mean 'was too ignorant to learn'.
The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?
...
This extraordinary consensus was possible, an examination by The New York Times shows, largely because no one involved — not the top two C.I.A. officials who were pushing the program, not the senior aides to President George W. Bush, not the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees — investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they wereapproving with little debate.
...
The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.
Ouch. So in addition to failing Basic Humanity 101, Modern Intelligence Gathering 201, and Advanced Legal Bullshittery, they didn't even pass Torture History 101. At least the high marks in Advance Bald Faced Lying and the Lack of Human Decency lab will bring up that GPA.

So let's see here: The Bush Administration picked a bunch of torture techniques that it liked the sound of, didn't even bother to do a rudimentary check on the history of usage and war crimes prosecution for these techniques, openly admitted the legal justification for these techniques almost assuredly wouldn't hold up in court, and used the torture techniques against detainees in pursuit of uncovering conspiracies they wished were happening. They aren't being prosecuted.....why?

Torture in pursuit of a fantasy

As disturbing as the revelations of torture were, on at least some level if you stood back, squinted, ignored the consequences, ignored the law, ignored the damage to our country at home and abroad, and just didn't concentrate too much on the guilt or innocence or level of knowledge that the detainees you tortured had, you could at least say "Well, they at least were trying to protect the country after 9/11 from threats they saw as imminent." Yeah......not so much.
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.
...
"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."
Ahh, Ahmed Chalabi, how could you have steered us wrong? If you can't trust a man who made his living off of getting government money for telling the US what it wanted to hear about Iraq and funneling funds through his phony "Iraqi National Congress" after he made his living defrauding and failing a bank, who can you trust?

Kind of makes you all warm and fuzzy inside to learn that stress positions, bug caskets, extreme temperature variations, sleep deprivation, walling, and waterboarding were all done in our name on the premise that the Bush Administration really wanted someone, anyone, to tell them what they wished was true. What's it say that multiple rounds of torture on multiple detainees still couldn't get one of them to even make up a story? I guess this stuff is what Cheney is referring too when he says the Bush Administration doesn't "got much to apologize for."

Never feel like eating again?





From Director Robert Kenner, comes Food, Inc., a film that takes a look at how our food is produced, distributed, and the economic, ecological, and health costs. The documentary is based around Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and also features the two prominently.

Pictures of the day

The Big Picture blog brings us scenes from Mexico's ongoing drug war with the cartels.







Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Gaythering Storm

Below is the hilarious response to the National Organization for Marriage's "A Gathering Storm" ad. Be sure to visit giantgayrepellentumbrella.com after your viewing to learn more about how this big gay storm threatens you, your children, your life savings, the environment, ten years of hard-fought progress in the field of particle physics, the Steelers' chance for a repeat Super Bowl win, and the American way of life as we know it.

Questions

Civil Lawsuit Over Katrina Begins
A groundbreaking civil suit began in federal court here Monday to consider claims by property owners that the Army Corps of Engineers amplified the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina by building a poorly designed navigation channel adjacent to the city.

The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile-long channel known locally as MR-GO and pronounced “Mister Go,” was completed in 1968 and created a straight shot to the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. The suit claims that the channel was flawed in its design, construction and operation, and that those flaws intensified the flood damage to the eastern parts of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

One geological expert testified on behalf of the plaintiffs that the channel was “one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the United States.”
Do you think that they're going to win all the money in existence, or just all the money that the banks haven't taken yet?

Are we going to have to invent new numbers for the financial award?

Jillion, bajillion, bazillion, kazillion? I'm a bazillion man.

Will we have to measure jury deliberation time in minutes or seconds?

Open up the coffers Geithner, the American taxpayer is going to have to take another gut shot.