MiG for Sale; Martial Law scares me; Queen Elizabeth I: "We have quite forgot the fart"; Rove: "there is no real anti-war moveme
One of the side effects of looking at Fark is that you come away with a bunch of links that seem like they should be passed along to everyone. You can get a "mint" condition Mig 21 aircraft for a mere $225,000 on eBay. It would appear this seller has all kinds of weird military hardware, and no, foreigners can't buy. No bids yet.
They are putting USB connections into Volkswagens. What could go wrong? Could I drive by mouse? PC World offers 20 tidbits about tech that manufacturers don't really want you to know about. Overclocking, bad warranties, sucking the Windows registration number out of your computer, hacking cell phones and game consoles, worthless product specs made up for marketing.
Some author is getting rich writing about straight girls going for lesbian hookups. Surely everyone will find this fascinating. Apparently the title alone, "The Straight Girl's Guide to Sleeping with Chicks", was good enough that she got a mountain of cash from Simon & Schuster without having to write a word. Nothing like Insane Homophobes protesting at Rehnquist's funeral (via Dailykos).
Martial Law seems to be in the air. Bush called for expanding the role of the military in disaster situations. William Arkin in the WaPo says that this is Real Bad:
I for one don't want to live in a society where "a moment’s notice" justifies military action that either preempts or usurps civil authority.
What is more, nothing about what happened in New Orleans justifies such a radical move to give the military what bureaucrats call "a lead role" in responding to emergencies.
In the wake of Katrina, the military was standing by awaiting orders, as it should be. The White House and the federal government were for their part either on vacation or out to lunch. The problem wasn’t the lack of resources available. It was leadership, decisiveness, foresight. The problem was commanding and mobilizing the resources, civil and military.
Yeah. For more try this really excellent bit on Social Militarization, characterizing it as a "fascist move." Yeah. So this leads to a unnerving discussion of how Liberal Democracy is not good enough to confront the State of Exception (such as catastrophic disasters), and Social Militarization is offered as a kind of illusory panacea. I need to quote this:
The charismatic leader is indeed historically necessary for successful, final-stage fascist movements (i.e. movements that actually lay claim to political power). But there remains a more fundamental and contemporary pressing facist concern, an earlier stage in which the rhetorical structure of fascism is laid by celebrating (Robert Paxton's recent Anatomy of Fascism is quite good on this point) the necessary failures of liberal democracy to respond to the exigencies of the present day. For four years we have been told that a new type of war must be waged, that new types of laws must be passed (even if those laws short-circuit the freedoms they ostensibly protect), that the old conventions by which we fight illegalities and terrorism must be scrapped in favor of more proactive solutions. In effect, we have been told that the liberal democratic state was simply ill-prepared to handle the threat of terrorism, and so something else, something new, defined by a Bush doctrine and a rethinking of our constitutional protections, would be needed. Now we are told that the liberal state can no longer handle the constant challenges of nature, and that now, again, something new is needed: social militarization.
For the facist movements that eventually came to power in Italy and Germany, and that also surfaced in Spain, Poland, and the majority of countries, the supposed failure of liberal democracy became apparent with the ravages and duration of World War I, the Great War. Its intensity seemed so unfitting civilized society, so anethema to the vision of evolved, Enlightened, European culture. For the fascists, it was evidence that the liberal state was weak, that it lacked the necessary will to power to do right by it citizenry. I fear that history is repeating itself.
You don't repair disorganized or incompetent government by granting it more power. You fix it by making it more organized and more competent. If conservatism can't grasp that point, what is it good for?
As for the military, same difference. The Army clearly has an important role to play in major domestic disasters. And they've been playing it in this case. But what broader role was required exactly?
As I've been saying, repressive governments mix adminsitrative clumsiness and inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies. That's almost always the pattern. The direction the president wants to go in is one in which, in emergencies, the federal government will have trouble moving water into or enabling transportation out of the disaster zone but will be well-equipped to declare martial law on a moment's notice.
Rozen makes a small note on Martial Law and The Agonist as well. For the Pissed Off Old CIA Dude perspective on the insurgency and Katrina, try Larry Johnson and Pat Lang at No Quarter. Katrina cleanup volunteers got routed to a casino. An on the scene report via AmericaBlog. Bush's poll numbers are tanked like hell these days (atrios):
President Bush's vow to rebuild the Gulf Coast did little to help his standing with the public, only 40 percent of whom now approve of his performance in office, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.
Just 41 percent of the 818 adults polled between Friday and Monday said they approved of Bush's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while 57 percent disapproved.
And support for his management of the war in Iraq has dropped to 32 percent, with 67 percent telling pollsters they disapproved of how Bush is prosecuting the conflict.
Frank Rich memorably puts it, "the administration's priority of image over substance is embedded like a cancer in the Katrina relief process." A very good column. Bush might be Losing it altogether and it seems like his inner circle is more tightly sealed than ever before. A DailyKos followup on how Katrina refugees that were previously photographed have fared.
But at this stage of the game, barring some imaginative political moves that bear some resemblance to the Bush Administration circa 2002, Republicans on Capitol Hill and even some longtime Bush team members in various Cabinet level departments say this Administration is done for.
"You run down the list of things we thought we could accomplish and you have to wonder what we thought we were thinking," says a Bush Administration member who joined on in 2001. "You get the impression that we're more than listless. We're sunk."...
Congressional committee sources on both sides of Capitol Hill predict tough slogging on anything of policy consequence. "Social Security is dead as far as my chairman is concerned. So are the tax cuts," says a Ways and Means staffer of Chairman Bill Thomas.
Before hurricane season wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast and in Washington, the thinking was that Thomas was poised to take up a major tax bill that might feature several critical components of the Bush Administration's Social Security reform. Now those plans appear to have dimmed considerably.
Josh Marshall points out that we can Expect Corruption in the Gulf.
If there's nothing else this decade has taught us it is that there was never and never could have been any Iraq War separated from the goals and intentions of those with their foot on the accelerator. Anything else is just a sad delusion. That's why the whole mess is as it is now: fruit of the poison tree.
Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.
You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming.
The Register reports that Google Earth is getting in trouble with governments that don't like to have their military installations available to the everyday web surfer. Lots of fun imagery. Also you can see the Great Area 51 itself in this article. Not bad. Edwards Air Force Base has all kinds of sweet freakin stuff sitting around. (see also Microsoft cloaks area 51 - hah!)
PottyGate: In a followup to Bush's UN bathroom break, The UK Times offers a roundup of famous bathroom breaks and undiplomatic flatulence.
From emptying of the diplomatic bag to breaking wind before Virgin Queen
By Michael Binyon
THE need to relieve oneself diplomatically has on occasion determined the fate of nations.
The most notorious practitioner of “bladder diplomacy” was the late President Assad, the hardline Syrian President for more than 25 years. Western statesmen visiting his palace were offered juice, water and bountiful cups of coffee while the President lectured them for hours on end. Eventually the visitors cut a deal simply to escape to the lavatory.
Enoch Powell, the late Conservative politician and noted orator, said that politicians should speak with their bladders half full, as it gave a sense of urgency to their speeches. On the other hand, Morarji Desai, Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979, drank a pint of his own urine every day. He lived to the age of 99.
.....In the 1960s, President Johnson used to adjourn conversations when the need arose and ask his interlocutors to accompany him to the men’s room. Their embarrassment was a source of great amusement to him. He often recounted a story about “one of the delicate Kennedyites who came into the bathroom with me and then found it utterly impossible to look at me while I sat there on the toilet”. ....
Court etiquette grew stricter over the centuries. Famously, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, was so embarrassed at having broken wind in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I that he voluntarily exiled himself from court for seven years. When he returned, her first words to him were: “We have quite forgot the fart.”
Some RawStory bits: Condoleezza Rice took time out of her busy schedule to threaten Syria and compared Islamic fundamentalists to Marxists. Meanwhile, real intelligence experts say that we are repeating "every mistake we made in Vietnam", adding that the WMD fantasy chase precluded early efforts that might have blunted the strength of the various militant movements in Iraq. And another bit offers a guide to the Roberts nomination and his nomenclature. Framers' intent, activist judges, what do these things really mean?
In Iraq, lots of stuff from the new Iraqi Defense Ministry of Doom has been skimmed off for anti-Sunni hit teams and rambunctious Kurds preparing to seize and probably ethnically cleanse the Kirkuk area. Juan Cole has more about $1,000,000,000 or $2,000,000,000 getting stolen. Something insane happened in the Basra area as undercover British agents got mobbed or something. But either way, Reuters/Yahoo provides a photo of what appears to be a British soldier, consumed by fire, falling off a tank. Juan Cole reports that at least five Baghdad neighborhoods have become controlled by militants:
"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.
The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.
Rove, His Remarks and His Memos: A memo to Karl Rove about immigration policy from Lamar Smith of Texas, which accidentally got sent to Democrats, says various creepy things. Rove said a bunch of hilarious things to a retreat when he thought he was really Off the Record, according to the HuffyPost:
Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on. On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government... On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally... On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything... On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East... On Judy Miller And Plamegate: Judy Miller is in jail for reasons I don't really understand... On Joe Wilson: Joe Wilson and I attend the same church but Joe goes to the wacky mass...
In attendance at the conference, among others were: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey, Michael Eisner, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Tom Friedman, Bob Novak, Barry Diller, Martha Stewart, Margaret Carlson, Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, Norman Pearlstein and Walter Isaacson.
Guess what, Congressional Democrats tried to get Downing Street Memo-related documents out of the White House, and they got shot down. I am shocked, just shocked! John Conyers is on it.
Who thought that 9/11 was an enormous opportunity? I try not to get tangled up with Gibberish from Fukuyama about neoconservatism and his weird End of History nonsense. But if you are interested in how Mr. NeoLiberalism is faring these days...
That's all for now..... Wake me up when September Ends.......