Report: Armed dolphins may be missing

Dolphins trained and armed by the US military may have been swept out into the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Katrina:

Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest.


"My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,"
[accident investigator Leo Sheridan] said.

Maybe the military should look into developing a super-high-tech stealth tuna-fishing boat to take care of this problem.


Several from the Independent

The Independent has a very good issue this Sunday. Some highlights:

- Does Blair have any principles at all - besides poodle-ism?

Tony Blair has admitted that he is changing his views on combating global warming to mirror those of President Bush - and oppose negotiating international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol.

His admission, which has outraged environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic, flies in the face of his promises made in the past two years and undermines the agreement he masterminded at this summer's Gleneagles Summit.

- Israeli soldiers serving in Hebron speak out. Remember: purity of arms, morality, blah blah blah.

- What were those "British soldiers dressed as Arabs" doing in Basra anyway?

- Race against time to track down last surviving Nazis


US and China: Father knows best for the 21st century

Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag:

Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick bluntly warned China last night that it must begin to take concrete steps to address what he called a "a cauldron of anxiety" in the United States and other parts of the world about Chinese intentions.

The WaPo article conveniently lists, in bulleted format, the list of demands that Zoellick presented to China. They include an explanation of "defense spending, intentions, doctrine and military exercises". Perhaps if China replied that it was simply building up its military to conduct wars of aggression against weaker states and be in a position to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against parties it found dangerous, then Zoellick - as an official of a country doing both of these things - might be reassured.

Zoellick also demanded that China "not attempt to 'maneuver toward a predominance of power' in Asia by building separate alliances in Southeast Asia and other areas". One would usually think that "building alliances" with countries, especially those in your immediate neighborhood, are a normal aspect of diplomacy. Is Zoellick asking that China turn to the US for approval of its foreign affairs decisions? Maybe someone should inform Zoellick about the Monroe Doctrine, and whose idea that was.

It seems that Zoellick and others are happy to see China and its army of poorly paid and abused workers serve as the world's source of cheap consumer goods - but not so happy to see it actually function as a major world power. Still, I'm not convinced that adopting a "father knows best" philosophy is going to be very productive, especially when the "child" in this relationship holds the pursestrings and all the IOUs. But considering the smashing successes of the Bush administration's foreign policy so far, maybe they know something I don't.

Roberts in; next Supreme to be worse
Or, the sound of shit and failure (apologies to Born Against)

It is now clear that John Roberts will be the next Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Senator Pat Leahy, the Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, announced that he would be supporting Robert's nomination. Notice how he explained his support with phrases like "left with the understanding" that Roberts will do this or not do that, "trust that he's a person of honor", and that Leahy can "only take him at his word" that he will not be a right-wing nutjob bowing and scraping before Bush or whatever other right-wing nutjob ends up in the White House after Bush (and it will be another right-wing nutjob).

Senator Leahy, in other words, "knows" nothing about this guy he is supporting. He knows nothing - he's happy to take it all on faith. Now who exactly are the Democrats supposed to be representing?

But some of the rank-and-file never fucking learn:

See, to me the idea is to get MORE people to the Democratic Party, not less. Not by compromising our values, but by finding shared values with folks like Gene Taylor... He can't speak for me on social issues, privacy, choice, gay rights, etc. I do not want Gene Taylor to be the Dem spokesman on those issues. I'll disagree vigorously with his views on those issues. But I am glad he is a Democrat. I am for a Big Tent Democratic Party.

So, in other words, you can disagree with someone about virtually everything of substance - everything you find objectionable about Roberts, for example - and you still want them in your party, because they say one correct thing at one correct moment? That makes no fucking sense.

And yet the same people are eternally surprised and dumbfounded and shocked that the "big tent" Democrats will sell them out again and again and again. Well, these are your rewards for supporting and participating in a "big tent" organization of this nature. That strategy might work in an ad hoc coalition or a particular interest group, but it is absolute shit for a political party. This is what the "big tent" policy is going to bring you - unreliable politicians who will fail you at crucial times and leaders who cannot make a vote on something that supposedly matters a great deal a matter of party loyalty.

And Democrats need to get rid of the silly idea that Bush will nominate someone less "ideological" or more "liberal" to "balance" the court:

Leahy and Reid both said they would strenuously object to some of the names being discussed and urged the president to select someone who is open-minded and not an ideologue.

Let them object, "strenuously" or otherwise, all they want - everyone knows that Reid and Leahy and whoever else the Democrats put forward will be powerless to stop whoever Bush decides to pick. And, let me assure you, it will be someone (Janice Rogers Brown?) who will be measurably worse than Roberts - just to spite the powerless Democrats and those people who actually believe in progressive ideas. As Lugal said once, this is how the Bushies work - always in attack-dog mode.

The idea that Bush actually gives a shit what his political enemies think is simply preposterous. After 5 years of Bush and company, you'd think that the Democrats and their lackeys would have figured this out by now. But, then again, there's a reason why the Democrats keep losing.


Nein Danke

Haha... Steve Bell.


Occupation army jailbreak

It's a good thing that the US and the UK have returned sovereignty to the Iraqis. Now that Iraq is sovereign, we'd never see things like, oh, an occupying army deciding to break some of its soldiers out of jail using tanks.

Oh, wait:

British soldiers used 10 armored vehicles to break down the walls of the central jail in this southern city Monday and freed two Britons, allegedly undercover commandos arrested on charges of shooting two Iraqi policemen, witnesses said.

The latest violence in the oil city of Basra, 340 miles south of the capital, began early Monday when local authorities reported arresting the two Britons, described as special forces commandos dressed in Arab clothing, for allegedly shooting two Iraqi policemen, one of whom died.

Sovereignty - it's on the move in Iraq.


New Orleans doctors and life and death

Thanks to having no other option, New Orleans doctors were forced to choose between abandoning their patients to a horrible, slow death and speeding along the process:

Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

In an extraordinary interview with The Mail on Sunday, one New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.

The doctor said: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right."

Read it all. The fact that the doctors were put in this dilemma was not their fault. But who will make the case that that it was not their fault, and that other people - high-ranked people who are not bound by Hippocrates Oath or any other moral or ethical guidelines - are to blame for this awful dilemma?

(Thanks to Left I for the link.)

The class war in action

Mercenaries descend into New Orleans to guard the houses of the rich.

There have been no major repairs to the infrastructure leading into or out of New Orleans since the hurricane hit. Yet the rich - the same scum who "Libertarians" and other assorted Republican ideologues want to see shouldering the burden of public assistance - can somehow manage to bring an army, not of social-work volunteers, but of goddamn mercenaries to protect their own little mansions from looters.

And it was impossible for the federal government to bring in relief workers and transportation to get the hostages in the Superdome and the convention center out of the city?

The Guardian article informs us that some mercenaries

...had been hired by Jimmy Reiss, a descendant of an old New Orleans family who made his fortune selling electronic systems to shipbuilders. They had been flown by private jet to Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, and then helicoptered to Audubon Place....

What the Guardian doesn't tell us is that Reiss is one of the racists who wants to see a "New Order" (i.e., ethnic cleansing) take place in New Orleans:

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

This, my friends, is the class war in action. Reiss (weiss?) is not the only one who wants to see a gleaming, white New Orleans take the place of the one that the Republicans allowed to be destroyed. They want to clear the place out of the poor people (excepting the absolut minimum that have to be there to serve Hurricanes to tourists and martinis to Reiss and his sick little band of assholes).

The Guardian articles ends with this observation by one of the mercenaries:

"I spoke to one of the other owners on the telephone earlier in the week," Yovi said. "I told him how the water had stopped just at the back gate. God watches out for the rich people, I guess."

Funny (and not "ha ha" funny) how that works.


Why the Democrats suck and shall continue to lose: Part XXIII

Take a look at this analysis from Kos:

There's that 38 percent [Bush approval and general Republican approval rating] again. This may be the floor. Bush may have finally hit rock bottom. If we can keep him there, we may be able to sweep out the whole lot of them from the Congressional leadership. Numbers like these will help recruit better candidates, raise more money, and create the sort of clear-cut distinctions between our side and theirs that voters can grasp on a gut level. [Emphasis mine]

Dude... I cannot see how poll results - as opposed to actual motherfucking Democratic Party action on behalf of poor and lower middle-class voters - could possibly create any sort of "clear-cut distinctions" between the Democrats and the Republicans. I really don't - but perhaps Kos has some kind of secret formula by which voter reaction to a specific (albeit major) event magically forces the same voters to begin reacting on a "gut level" to things that they weren't reacting to before they responded to the polls. It is as if these voters were taking their cues from their own responses as opposed to what the Democrats were actually fucking doing.

Again, we have Democrats doing worse than chasing their own tails; they are chasing the tail of another mutt turning in its own circles. Enough of this crap - forget branding and this other bullshit. It's not going to do the party of H. Clinton, Biden and Lieberman any good.


The "Libertarian" response to disaster

I'm going to be kind... this has to be the most retarded blog post in the history of the medium. No, hold on a second... I'm afraid that, while being kind, I have unintentionally devalued the sheer stupidity of the argument. Really, I'm surprised that the person who wrote it has enough intelligence to breathe, much less pick up a pen and write or bang out shit on a computer keyboard.

Such a short post, and yet so much bullshit: tendentiousness, density, and the most unlikely "logical" conclusions. Let's start with this "ironic" observation:

In the wake of compounding disasters, ordinary people spontaneously kept a whole city fed, clothed, watered, and in some instances, even powered.

No, not at all. First of all, approximately 500,000 people lived in the city of New Orleans, and over 3 million in the metropolitan area, before it was destroyed. Even counting all the people held hostage by the Bush administration and redneck suburban cops in the Superdome and the convention center, we only get to about 50,000 people (i.e., much less than 10% of the pre-hurricane population). This hardly counts as the "whole city" of New Orleans.

Second, without at all denigrating the very real heroism of the "ordinary people" who kept their comrades and compatriots alive, they "spontaneously" did nothing along the lines of what the author suggests. The food, water, and clothing they found and the electricity they connected to were already there due to previous activities of the state. But according to the author's narrative, we should believe that the "communists", unwittingly relieved of the burden of "centralism", somehow managed to incant into existence all of these basic necessities. Needless to say, this is absolute poppycock.

It is much more credible to say that the survivors of this natural/manmade catastrophe mananged, through their actions, to scrounge enough remnants of previous state activities to carry on a bit of civilization in circumstances under which all of the foundations of civilization had been knocked out.

And finally, without help from the outside (i.e., the "statist" outside), exactly how long would these heroes have been able to carry on? The author doesn't say, and let me tell you, he can't, because it would not have been long at all. Let us, for a very brief moment, consider the necessities of life: food - requiring arable land and laborers to work it; and water - requiring clean water sources, neither of which were not possible in a city into which all kinds of toxic shit had flowed.

Can we really expect that a few hundred ragged survivors could have carried on indefinitely completely cut off from all of the basic sources of life in a ruined post-industrial wasteland? Hell fucking no. Saying that the survivors in New Orleans managed to survive "spontaneously" is akin to saying that all of those Soviet parades took place "spontaneously". Anyone, and especially "Libertarians", who believes this needs a real head examination.

Then there's this:

At every turn, these civilizational functions were halted by slobbering subhumans with big guns, unlimited funds, and a license to kill -- collectively known as the State.

Does a Libertarian need to blame the entire apparatus of "The State" for this? Perhaps there is a simpler explanation - like "racism", for example. Hello... the idea of "turf", and "our land is our land" and "if you are not our color, then get the fuck out"? All of these have a long-lasting, and still very relevant, currency in the United States. Speaking as someone who comes from the South, if you actually go there, you will, I guarantee you, see these principles in action.

And in any event, one of the tenents of "Libertarianism" is that the only functions of the State should be to provide for a) national defense, and b) protection of private property. The "subhumans with big guns" were police and National Guard - the very people whose functions someone like "Sapienza", the author, would normally be defending. Considering that they were "defending" private property in White areas, like Gretna, I really cannot see how "Sapienza" can be attacking them. If he has to swallow institutionalized racism as part of his "libertarian" pill, then he should either spit the whole thing up or shut the fuck up.

When I read shit like this, I have to conclude that so-called "libertarians" are actually advancing the agenda of the crypto-fascist Right and the Bush administration. I mean, hey, after all, it doesn't matter if Bush - someone who, like Reagan, sees government as "The Problem" preventing you from solving all your difficulties - is competent or motherfucking incompetent. The real problem is not competence or motherfucking incompetence - the real problem, according to shitheads like "Sapienza", is that anyone who steps into government are even judged at all according to criteria like "competence" or "motherfucking incompetence", since they think that the whole system of governance is wrong and wrongheaded anyway.

This is the same belief that Bush holds and Reagan held. How can you possibly judge the performance of a system when it is run by people who are determined to "strangle it" in their disguting bathtub? As Dave Lindorff says,

Yet with such governmental nihilists in power, how could the outcome in New Orleans have been other than an epic disaster? Would these people have hired teachers for their schools who didn't believe kids could learn? Would they have gone to doctors when they were sick, who professed a belief that medicine was a joke? Would they have hired a contractor to build their home who said that engineering and architecture were for sissies?

Finally, you may wonder why I have put "Sapienza", the author's name, consistently in quotes. This is why: "Sapienza" means "wisdom" in Italian. Anyone who writes this tripe, and then ends with the question "Anyone want to mock the "invisible hand" now?", surely must either have a seriously ironic made-up name or a serious genetic defect in the family line. No, Mr. "Sapienza", I shan't mock your Santa Claus-like belief - I'll only mock your crappy argument (I'm being generous again) and your ridiculous surname.


Open letter to the president re: FEMA director

Dear President Bush,

I'm just curious: why did you relieve the FEMA director of his duties, when just last week you said that "Brownie" was doing a "heck of a job"?

Had he stopped doing a "heck of a job" in the meantime?

I don't get it - don't people doing a "heck of a job" deserve to keep working? What happened?

Please let me know. If you are too embarrassed to use the comments, you can send me a private email. I promise I won't tell anyone.

Awaiting your response,
I remain,
unhumbly yours,


P.S. - Has Cheney begun fucking himself yet?


Republicans and "activist judges"

Can't live with them:

The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges.

Can't live without them:

Schwarzenegger wouldn't comment on the bill while it was pending before the Legislature, but Tuesday night his press secretary, Margita Thompson, issued a statement: "[...]The governor believes the courts are the correct venue for this decision to be made".

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?