Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday SD: bivalve remix 

Today's selections brought to you by Suspect Device. I clipped some tantalizing quotes from referenced items to use for hyperlinks.

"Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups" [in Iraq].

"How did [Republicans] become the party of fairy dust and make believe? How did they become the anti-science guys? The anti-fact guys? The anti-logic guys?"
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gravitas coming out the Wazoo 

Former Republican Governors Mike Foster, Buddy Roemer and David Treen are sending A LETTER to the White House. My goodness! During these times that try men's souls, three former Governors recognized the importance of Richard Baker's housing bill, and they decided to write the White House and say... Well, let's take a look at what they said:

... three former Republican Louisiana governors sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday making "a friendly appeal" to Bush to take a "second look" at the Baker [housing] bill and "see if something can be worked out."

Holy Shnikeys, those are some bracing words! Can you imagine the panicked assembly in the White House Situation Room that followed the receipt of this letter? Can't you just see Karl Rove running around, shrieking: "Mother of Hezekiah! I had no idea that Buddy Roemer wanted me to reconsider the Baker plan. Clear my schedule and hold all calls, I'm going straight to my office to engage in deep cogitation. Do not disturb me unless its Defcon 1. Three former Republican Governors of Louisiana are counting on me to get this right, and I'm not gonna let them down, by gum!"

Yeah, perhaps that will happen, but on the off-chance that it won't, some Louisianan pols are putting on the brass knuckles. Good for them.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who said the Baker bill is still alive despite White House opposition, said he also supports [Governor] Blanco's threat to block future oil and gas leases if the government doesn't agree to give Louisiana a bigger share of the royalty payments.

Much better.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hope floats 

Am I too self-absorbed, or are local newspaper editorials sounding more and more like my YRHT rants (... or, perhaps both)?

For my occasional readers, here's how I've been playing it: when Bush opposes the Baker bill, (aka N.O.'s housing solution) because it creates too much "bureaucracy", I bring up his byzantine, "donut-holed" Mediscam giveaway to Big Pharma.

And when the GOP says that Louisiana is too corrupt to receive aid., I bring up the hideously expensive trillion-dollar war in Iraq.

Simple, huh?

Happily, though, others seem to be taking note of these various tensions while our beloved Leader rolls out his anti-Louisiana platform. The following excerpts are from editorials that appeared in today's Times-Picayune:

The informed John Maginnis writes:

The worst that can be said of [President Bush's] opposition to the buyout bill of Congressman Richard Baker--besides that it's unjust--is that it took him so long to conclude that the plan violates his core values by adding "unnecessary layers of bureaucracy" to his administration's inadequate response.

One can understand his aversion to added layers of federal bureaucracy, considering how the bureaucracy he leads has so royally botched the rollout of the enormously expensive Medicare drug prescription plan. Then there is nation building in Iraq, with its recently documented unnecessary layers of corruption, waste and incompetence.

If the plight of ordinary Americans didn't move him, you might think he would have a soft spot for mortgage bankers, who look to the Baker bill to mitigate disastrous losses. Then again, Bush may not have forgiven the finance industry for the savings and loan bailout debacle of the late '80s that helped to deny Poppy Bush a second term.

Given his fear of a new federal bureaucracy, the president should have given Louisiana the bad news sooner. Like when Congressman Baker personally briefed him on the plan and received presidential encouragement, or so Baker thought. Or when, on several occasions since, Bush greeted Baker by saying, "How's the grand plan going?" The answer, of course, known only to the president's economic handlers, er, advisors, was: nowhere.

The inimitable James Gill writes:

Bush dispatched [Paul] Bremer to Iraq in 2003, when looters roamed the ruins, the economy barely functioned and the wetlands were fast disappearing, so he certainly has relevant experience for the job down here.

What emerged from the havoc was a politician's dream, as the United States liberated $37 billion in Iraqi oil revenues that had been seized by the United Nations. C-17 cargo planes stuffed with $100 bills streamed into Baghdad airport, and you can get a lot of C-notes in a C-17. One flight carried $1.5 billion, the largest cash disbursement in the history of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Coalition authority officials were knee-deep in "bricks" -- shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills -- which they dispensed with gay abandon. All transactions were strictly cash.

Contractors got wads for work they hadn't done, Iraqi officials were reimbursed for expenses they hadn't incurred and vast amounts simply disappeared.

Auditors discovered that one coalition authority official kept $2 million in a bathroom safe, and another had $500,000 in an unlocked footlocker.

Our recovery program included assistance to the Iraqi Olympic boxing team, which was no doubt vital to the task of bringing peace and democracy to the region. But an American soldier who accompanied the pugilists on a trip to the Philippines managed to lose a bunch of reconstruction dollars in the casinos there.

How much is unknown, since no records were kept of withdrawals from the vault, but auditors figure it was somewhere between $20,000 and $60,000.

Counting money kicked in by American taxpayers, about $60 billion has so far been allocated to reconstruction in Iraq. How much has been stolen or wasted will never be known, although a few of the more blatant thieves will likely wind up behind bars.

Less than half the promised reconstruction projects are now expected to be completed, in large part because the coalition authority had to divert money to battle an insurgency of unexpected vigor.
Iraq under Bremer set a standard of fraud and incompetence that entitles Louisiana to question how our detractors in Washington dare demur at helping us out on grounds that we can't be trusted with government largess.

So, in light of these facts, let's use my analytical formula on Bush's State of the Union speech (from a South Louisianan's perspective):

Would it be politically possible to say anything less (or less substantial) than Bush did last night?

Five months ago, over 1100 Americans died in the New Orleans metro area alone. Three more bodies were recovered yesterday and perhaps as many as 400 more have been washed out into the Gulf of Mexico or buried under debris. And now, after one of the biggest catastrophes in the history of our country, Bush uses the words "Gulf Coast" once and "New Orleans" twice in his State of the Union. (For comparison purposes let's note that he mentioned HIV or AIDS seven times in his speech.)

No pledges, concrete proposals, solutions... nothing but empty rhetoric about "hope".

Well, we hoped for a rapid federal response to the disaster.

We hoped Bush would keep his promises made in Jackson Square.

We hoped for a pledge to build Category 5 strength levees.

We hoped for money for Coastal Restoration.

We hoped for an innovative home buyout bill.

We hoped for support for a royalty-sharing deal.

We hoped for a non-Bush crony to be the Recovery Czar.

We hoped for something substantial in the State of the Union speech.

Some continue to hope against hope that Bush and Rove genuinely want Louisiana to recover. Bush supporters told us that the President is Louisiana's "best friend". Congressman Baker told us that Bush is a "real estate guy... he gets it" just prior to the White House killing his plan.

These people keep giving us "hope"...

Hope floats.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

YRHT now contains over a thousand posts. *golf claps*

I made some updates to the "Pelicans" section of the sidebar, too, but Cindy wasn't one of them.
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Insurance ain't charity 

George Bush apparently includes Flood Insurance payments to the Gulf Coast when he cites his $85 billion figure for Gulf Coast aid. You'll recall that he went out of his way to remind people in this "part of the world" that "$85 billion is a lot".

Read this fine post, wherein da po boy observes: "I didn't know that the paying of flood insurance claims was optional."

Well, hell, if that's how Bush wants to inflate the numbers, why not include every federal service provided to the Gulfsouth in the past 5 months? Medicare, SS... etc. In Bush's view, if the Government makes a deal with U.S. citizens, and keeps it, then the citizens should be grateful.

I paid over $100/month for flood insurance, and now, after a catastrophe, the president wants to "remind me" that the payout is a lot of money for the feds to dole out.

Back many moons ago, when oyster sold health insurance in Louisiana to small businesses, some customers would ask why my company's premiums were lower than other plans. Occasionally, if the mood was right, I'd look them in the eye and say with a straight face "Because we don't pay".

It was an obvious joke, and we'd have a good laugh.

Bush is basically saying the same thing without laughing. Policyholders should be thankful for their payouts. The feds are giving them "a lot".

How these insurance handouts must strain Bush's frugal budgeting! See, a trillion dollars for Iraq or for a Medicare bill isn't "a lot"... it's the flood insurance settlements to victims of catastrophe!! That's when the numbers REALLY start to add up for the president who outspent Lyndon Johnson, and who created fewer net jobs than Jimmy Carter!
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Monday, January 30, 2006

You listen now! 

Brad Delong points me to one of the most revealing economic summations I've ever read. Use it whenever necessary. It's a showstopper from Max Sawicky.

Read it here. it's short and sweet and ends with a bang.

Incorporate that analysis into your political discussions whenever possible. The Bushies have spent us into oblivion, yet the net result of all their tax-cutting has been... *drumroll* ... government jobs financed by China!! Government jobs financed by China!! That's what we get from these darling neo-con, supply-side, Art Laffer catamites. Government jobs financed by China!!

I'm currently working on the proper phrasing for the nettlesome likelihood that Dubya's economy will create fewer net jobs in eight years than Carter did in four.

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New Orleans: we put the "fun" in funeral 

The title is from a bumper sticker I saw while driving around today. I also saw a license plate from the District of Columbia which read "Taxation without Representation".

Pretty strong political statement for a license plate, I thought.

Perhaps Louisiana should do the same, given recent outrages. Something pithy, yet forceful.

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