July 2010


Appropos of nothing in particular, this movie poster makes me smile every day when I see it in the local subway station:


I just put the finishing touches on a denim jacket with this air brushed on the back.

Ejections have consequences:

Every time a customer buys some of the large fabric tote bags from the Dollar Store at 43rd Avenue and Thomas Road, Najmuddin Katchi sees another piece of his business vanish.

The purchase of the briefcase-sized shoulder bags means that another one of Katchi’s customers, mostly Latino immigrants, is packing to leave the state before what is touted as the nation’s toughest law against illegal immigrants takes effect July 29.

Katchi’s store isn’t the only business suffering. The vast shopping center that holds his small shop is almost empty. The Food City supermarket closed this spring. Then the furniture shop. Then the pizzeria.

The giant apartment complex across the street, once brimming with tenants, is two-thirds vacant. Katchi is behind on his rent.

“The business is broken,” said Katchi, who has operated his shop at this intersection for 14 years. “After the 29th of July, what happens? Maybe I have to close the store.”

For the last 20 years, Arizona has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. It depends on an expanding population to power its economy, which relies heavily on the construction of new houses.

At the corner of 43rd and Thomas, it’s hard to determine how much of the neighborhood’s woes stem from Arizona’s immigration laws and how much from the state’s economy, battered by a once red-hot housing marked that cooled.

Katchi’s revenue was already sagging before April 23, when Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Since then, sales have plummeted.  [...]

When immigrants leave, Gans said, “stores experience dramatic drops in sales. Apartment owners who rent to immigrants have high vacancy rates and risk losing their buildings. Legal workers or renters or consumers don’t generally step in quickly enough to prevent these businesses from experiencing real additional hardship.”

At 43rd and Thomas, such short-term economic perils are no abstraction.

“If people don’t come here, I don’t make money and I don’t pay taxes,” Katchi said.

People, this is no way to exploit the poor.  You’ve let the nativist propaganda used to distract one group of working stiffs to go too far, and now you’re feeling the pinch. 

Can we all just agree to demonize Muslims instead?*

*(Proposed solution does not apply to the State of Michigan)

The American Spectator, defenders of the Queen’s English, preservers of various Village Greens, recently rushed to save a word from being beblackened, scolding Shirley Sherrod for having the temerity to claim her relative was “lynched” when he was merely beaten to death by the local sheriff and his accomplices.  Simple “fisticuffs” gone awry as the author would have it.  Madam, have you no decency?  Uppity Adam Serwer disagrees:

A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing. No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope. Don’t believe me? Here’s the definition of lynching as described in the 1922 anti-lynching bill introduced by Republican Rep. L.C. Dyer that Lord pretends to know something about:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the phrase “mob or riotous assemblage,” when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public offense.

So Lord concocts a definition of lynching that would only include a narrow number of lynchings, which is a bit like setting the threshold for racism so high that nothing short of having a closet full of white sheets would make you a racist. Also, in case you’re curious, yes, that bill died because of the filibuster.

Frenchy Lemiuex goes even further than Serwer to suggest that – gasp – the American Spectator has not always been so persnickety about the proper parameters of “le lynch”:

However, in fairness it must be said that this publication has not always employed such a narrow definition. Indeed, as Steve and TS note, when powerful white Republican political figures are involved, the definition of “lynching” can be broadened to include “mild criticism.”

I remain puzzled that the Republican Party has not made inroads among African-American voters.

An enigma wrapped in a conundrum.

UPDATE: Wow, the guy is going full metal douchenozzle.

Pretty much.

Poor naive Tbogg will never make it into the international death merchant-sociopathic-fundamentalist Christian-billionaire’s club.  And that will leave him feeling unfulfilled, and left behind post-Rapture:

Personally I’m waiting on an internal document dump from a Halliburton/KBR or Blackwater/Xe wherein we find that they have been slipping the insurgents a little cash and some weaponry just to grease the wheels of the profiteering gravy train. It’ll probably be listed as a “marketing expenses” like giving out those little sample packs of cigarettes.

It’s hard to believe that sometimes I think I’m not cynical enough.

Comrade, why would they spend their own hard-earned money when there’s all that taxpayer lucre just sitting around unguarded?:

For many months, probably years, at least the second largest and probably the largest source of revenue for the Taliban has been U.S. taxpayers. We are giving the Taliban our money instead of investing it in useful things at home or abroad. “WARLORD, INC.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan,” is a report from the Majority Staff of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives. The report documents payoffs to the Taliban for safe passage of U.S. goods, payoffs very likely greater than the Taliban’s profits from opium, its other big money maker. And this is neither new nor unknown to top U.S. officials. But it must be unknown to Americans supporting the war. You can’t support a war where you’re funding both sides unless you want both sides to lose. We lock people away for giving a pair of socks to the enemy, while our own government serves as chief financial sponsor.

You have much to learn young master Bogg.

Drudge Jr. Fail:

Still, I do think that this tells us something about the whole Journolist-in-the-media saga. That a middling obscure and openly left wing university professor gets teary when an African-American is elected president can be described in many ways, some of which, depending on your point of view, might be uncomplimentary. But what it cannot be described as is breaking news. And that the Daily Caller makes this part of its top front page story, with a headline festooned with exclamation marks, tells us something about the newsworthiness of the material that they have. Without sympathizing with them at all, I can sort-of understand their position. If you believe that there is a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy ranged against conservatism, it must be very exciting to finally get your hands on the Top Sekrit archives of the shadowy network that you think Controls It All. And it must be extremely disappointing to discover that those archives in actuality consist of journalistic gossip, heated political arguments between people who disagree over an enormous range of topics, endless (and to me extremely tedious) threads about baseball and the like. This doesn’t justify the Daily Caller’s demonstrably dishonest efforts to dress mutton as lamb, and pretend that they have smoking gun evidence of coordinated plots against the right. But it does help explain them.

You know you suck when James Fallows, who makes Kevin Drum look like Sonny Corleone on meth, is shrill(ish) about just how bad you blow.  Even hippie-punch drunk Clive Crook is making fun of you Tucker, you insufferable weenie.

UPDATE: Ha.

Rupert’s Print Version of Fox News had a truly terrifying headline and lede about the failed Times Square bomber, summed up thusly:  Had the bomb gone off, mass destruction would have ensued (with pictures too!):

Thankfully, it didn’t go off as planned.

A secret FBI test of a correctly made version of the Times Square bomb revealed that it “would have killed thousands of people” if it had been made to explode as terrorists had intended, law-enforcement sources told The Post yesterday.

Had he built the Times Square device the way he had originally intended to, terrorist Faisal Shahzad, would have turned his SUV and nearby vehicles into a fatal spray of razor-sharp fragments and transformed building windows into glass guillotines hurtling to the streets, cutting down hundreds of people walking by.

AP
TERROR: Secret tests show the bomb Faisal Shahzad left in Times Square (above) would have dwarfed the Oklahoma City blast.
Secret tests show the bomb Faisal Shahzad left in Times Square…would have dwarfed the Oklahoma City blast. [...]
 
“It would have been the biggest thing ever to happen in this country since Sept. 11,” another source said.

“It definitely would have been bigger than [the 1995] Oklahoma City” bombing of the federal building that killed 168 people, the source said. “There would have been a lot of casualties.”

“People would also have been stomped to death from running away. It would have been panic. The buildings would have been severely damaged.”

One source added: “If you look at the four corners [near the bomb] that night, there could easily be 500 people between 20 to 30 feet from the car. [...]

The results of the explosive test were sobering — showing that Shahzad was on track to becoming the biggest individual mass murderer in US history, several sources said.

Scary, bedwetting, nightmarish stuff.  And just think, there are still some Americans that don’t want to pick random Muslim countries to invade and some that still have quaint qualms about torturing and indefinitely detaining random Muslims, just in case. 

But, really, the story is a non-story because of this:

Shahzad’s homemade bomb — on which he substituted less effective, cheaper components for the more expensive and deadly components he had planned to use — was left in the back seat of his parked SUV in the middle of Times Square, where it smoldered but failed to detonate.

So, yeah, had the bomb gone off, not much would have happened because while he might have planned to build a really awesome super destructive bomb, he basically used “bottle rockets and Miracle-Gro.”  In fact, those advanced components and high grade explosive material that the Feds substituted for their test are hard to come by, and that kind of makes all the difference in the world.  From a separate article:

New York Police Department bomb experts later determined Shahzad had used a type of fertilizer that wasn’t volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings. Kelly said Tuesday that investigators believe Shahzad purposely “dumbed down” the bomb — using the less potent fertilizer and M88 firecrackers — to avoid detection.

For the test, the officials said the investigators also used a Pathfinder but rigged it with the higher grade fertilizer and more sophisticated components. Four other vehicles were positioned around the car bomb in positions replicating cars in an adjacent traffic lane and parking spots in Times Square.

So, yeah, be afraid, be very afraid.  If he had built a really lethal bomb that worked instead of the dud he patched together with bubble gum and duct tape, the bomb would have blown up a lot of people.  But he didn’t because real bomb materials are hard to come by without being detected, and building it would be hard even with the right ingredients.

George Schultz can suck a bag of dicks.  In hell.  Where the climate is less agreeable than northern California:

Deborah Solomon: …You stumped for the [Iraq] war, writing articles and serving as the chairman of a group assembled by President Bush expressly to support the war, the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

George Schultz:  There was a group — there was a committee that didn’t really exist, was a name, and it supported the war.

Solomon: What do you mean it didn’t exist?

Schultz: It didn’t exist in the sense that it never met, and I don’t even know who the members of it were.

Solomon: Do you regret that we entered the war in Iraq?

Schultz: No. I regret that it didn’t go quicker.

[...]

Solomon: It’s been seven years since we invaded Iraq, and there is so much sorrow in the world. I don’t see things getting a lot better.

Schultz: You ought to come out to California. We have problems out here; but the sun is shining, and it’s pleasant here on the Stanford campus.

Way to make Cheney look like the soft and cuddly one.

More like this.

In Pakistan, political leaders fully grasp the unassailable truth as preached by Mitch McConnel and the GOP: tax cuts (or lack of taxes) pay for themselves, when you cut taxes (or don’t collect them in the first place) you create jobs and that if you simply funnel money to the elites, the real enginges of the economy, the benefits will be shared by all.  Rich people create jobs!  Added Bonus: Unlike America under ObaMao, none of the Pakistani giants of the creative class have gone Galt:

Much of Pakistan’s capital city looks like a rich Los Angeles suburb. Shiny sport utility vehicles purr down gated driveways. Elegant multistory homes are tended by servants. Laundry is never hung out to dry.

…Very few of these households pay income tax. That is mostly because the politicians who make the rules are also the country’s richest citizens, and are skilled at finding ways to exempt themselves. [...]

Though the authorities have tried to expand the net in recent years, taxing profits from the stock market and real estate, entire swaths of the economy, like agriculture, a major moneymaker for the elite, remain untaxed.[...]

While Pakistan’s income from taxes last year was the lowest in the country’s history, according to Zafar ul-Majeed, a senior official in the Federal Board of Revenue, the assets of current members of Parliament nearly doubled from those of members of the previous Parliament, the institute study found. [...]

Out of more than 170 million Pakistanis, fewer than 2 percent pay income tax, making Pakistan’s revenue from taxes among the lowest in the world, a notch below Sierra Leone’s as a ratio of tax to gross domestic product.

By Saint Reagan’s ghost, is there any doubt that Pakistan’s productive class, unfettered by taxes, is free to strike their globe-straddling poses in full libertarian regalia, molding wonderment with their copious amounts of untaxed money – selflessly allowing second-hand benefits to trickle down the benighted masses who would be lost without their stewardship…what?…oh, wait:

[I]n Pakistan, the lack of a workable tax system feeds something more menacing: a festering inequality in Pakistani society, where the wealth of its most powerful members is never redistributed or put to use for public good. That is creating conditions that have helped spread an insurgency that is tormenting the country and complicating American policy in the region.

Go figure.

Jay Bybee deeply regrets authoring the legal opinions that gave the green light for the Bush administration to unleash its little army of sadists on various brown people (many innocent of any infraction at all, other than that of being Muslim and in the wrong place, which is near a hangable offense these days):

He said he was “proud of our opinions” at the Office of Legal Counsel, too, calling them “well researched” and “very carefully written.”

Still, he said the controversy surrounding his tenure there had been difficult.

“I have regrets because of the notoriety that this has brought me,” he said. “It has imposed enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally. It has had an impact on my family. And I regret that, as a result of my government service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family.”

So, yeah, it isn’t really the he regrets the torture of innocents, or the deaths that resulted from the torture he facilitated, but the fact that some people treat a torture apologist with disdain.  Which is completely uncivil.  And mean.  You know, people can be so cruel. 

Greenwald:

Just think about that. The so-called “government service” Jay Bybee did caused countless detainees to be subjected to systematized, medieval torture techniques designed to permanently break their mind and spirit. Innocent men spent years wasting away in a cage, with no due process of any kind, subjected to horrific and life-destroying abuse because of what Bybee authorized. For that work, he was rewarded with a life tenured, permanently-well-paying job as a federal appellate judge. But the only victim he recognizes in all of this is himself, and the only “regret” he has is the self-pitying objection that the dark, ugly and destructive work he did caused him to be subjected to some criticisms.

I blame the bloggers and the coarsening of our discourse.

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