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June 25, 2008

I Can See Your Lips Are Moving, I Can’t Hear a Single Word You Say
Posted by Patrick at 12:10 AM *

From the New York Times:

The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

I’ve got my fingers in my ears I’m going la la la la la la la la la la, I can’t hear you.

(Audio here.)

Comments on I Can See Your Lips Are Moving, I Can't Hear a Single Word You Say:
#1 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:43 AM:

Patrick, thanks for that. I think it should be an anthem to the shrub administration's attitude toward everything that the shrub thinks is not worth his attention.

My best wish for him is to be disowned by his family and tossed out to live on the streets like the people he disdains. Since he has no f@cking clue, he'd starve in a couple of weeks. "Why aren't people serving ME?"

Plus it's one of my favorite Flash Girl's songs.

#2 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:59 AM:

This made my jaw drop.

I mean, really.

Then I picked it back up off the bottom of its hinge and tried to form some sort of commentary sentence. "That's just..." Then it dropped again.

"Audacious" doesn't cover it. To be audacious, one has to put forth effort. I think they're doing this two-year-old nonsense without any effort at all.

Every time I think this administration cannot surprise me further with its persistence in doing things that moderately well socialized adult humans* just don't do, they do something else. And my jaw drops and stays there.

*I did qualify that with "moderately." Surely one has to be at least moderately well socialized to exist in public office for this long? Surely? (Don't answer that. Enough broken hearts already. Think of the kittens.)

#3 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:22 AM:

Georgie Junior is going to be sent home from kindergarten with one of those "Does not play well with others" reports for his parents.

Wait, what do you mean he's not in kindergarten anymore?

In the White House? For real? [insert all seven of Mr. Carlin's Words, repeatedly]

#4 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:22 AM:

I hate to say it, but that even *that* takes 2nd prize today, compared to what just came out about the irrevocable corruption of the Justice Department.

#5 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:00 AM:

Wow. The nice thing about being a lame duck president who's fragmented his party in the process of leading it to an onrushing, disasterous defeat is that you just don't have to care how your actions look anymore.

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:00 AM:

Oh, yeah, Evan. If Obama wins in November, come January he's going to have to hire a lot of really good Cabinet secretaries and Agency heads who have bucketsful of cleaner to get rid of the moles that have been put in place.

Refusing to open an e-mail? That's beyond childish, that's in to, well, I don't know what territory that's reaching. Sheesh.

#7 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:53 AM:

Not every email I send arrives at its destination.
I'm perplexed that it wasn't sent as a hard copy.

#8 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 04:53 AM:

Jaw drops,
slides along the floor to the open door, skids along the balcony and through the railing, falls 20 stories, bounces along the walkway and to the cliff's edge, tumbles over the side and down to the ocean, sinks as it's carried by currents towards and into the Mariana Trench, descends into the unthinking depths where strange currents meet, skips over the waters of lethe to the top terrace and bounces down all seven, slips by the legs of the evil one and through to the ice which collapses into a wormhole that pulls ever outward until the protons decay and still my jaw is dropping.

I mean. just. wow. No, you're making it up. Funny, funny Patrick. I get that one party is the Mommy party and one party is the Daddy party, but a 3-year-old stamping his boots on the floor, shouting "Mine" forever party? That's what we have?

(And out of 100 senators only 4 will stand to say "No"--let us thank them, Boxer, Dodd, Feingold and Wyden.)

#9 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 04:56 AM:

Out of respect for our hosts, cast, and crew of ML --- I will refrain from reverting back to active duty mode and swearing like a sailor on liberty during deployment.

I spent the evening at the barn discussing politics with my farrier while he trimmed the horses... the barn consensus was that the only thing that will fix this nation is a good ol' fashion revolution. I silently disagreed...however, perhaps I should reconsider.

#10 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 05:14 AM:

JKRichards, an off-topic question. I have a friend whose horse is being euthanized today (maybe already, they're in the UK), and I'm curious about something I can't ask her: what happens with the body? With cats and dogs, you can pick them up and bury or cremate them, but a horse is so much bigger. What happens?

#11 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 06:10 AM:

I thought of posting the following yesterday to the California wildfire thread, but here is more appropriate, I think:

I have images of our president watching reports of the latest California and Iowa disasters with the expression of great glee on his face that is found on teenagers after they've defaced graves at a cemetery. What Bush is also doing I'll refrain from saying out of respect for Teresa trying to keep some decorum at her site.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 06:27 AM:

The word is 'evil'. Just that.

#13 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 07:03 AM:

I spent the evening at the barn discussing politics with my farrier while he trimmed the horses... the barn consensus was that the only thing that will fix this nation is a good ol' fashion revolution.

Absolutely. A return to the homburg hat would seem the most obvious fashion revolution. Or possibly (I'm undecided) the Marcel wave.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:05 AM:

Linkmeister @ 6

I keep thinking we'll have to re-route the Potomac. Preferably without advance notification to anyone other than the museum people. (The portential moles that now are inside about 90 percent of the departments and agencies are what scare me.)

#15 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:08 AM:

Bush's detachment from reality, contempt for democratic institutions, and rampant cronyism reminds me of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Of course, America has an awful long way to fall before it faces the sort of abyss now facing Zimbabwe, but that's the logical end-point of the world view of Bush's ruling clique and their partisan supporters.

#16 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:19 AM:

#9 ::: JKRichard:

If it's ok with our hosts, I would very much like to see that sort of swearing. Aside from how I feel about the current administration, I grew up with books that would mention someone who could swear for half an hour without repeating themselves, but I've never seen it actually done.

#17 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:21 AM:

#7 ::: Carol Maltby:

They said they wouldn't open an email. This is way beyond just not opening an email, and sending a hard copy obviously wouldn't help.

#18 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:53 AM:

Yes, they'd probably refuse receipt of any hard copies sent them if they refused to open the email.

The depth and scope of this administration's nerve is appalling. Don't like the results of your own agency's report? Simple: don't recognize it even exists.

The sooner this bunch of thugs and thieves is gone, the better.

#19 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:13 AM:

My first thought was that the EPA should serve them the report, in the legal sense (as in "serve a subpoena").

Then I was reminded of Bob Dylan: it might be the devil, or it might be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Guess it's clear who they serve.

#20 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:37 AM:

And it's things like this that make me think, despite my disappointment with Obama, whenever anyone tries to argue that he's just the Democratic W -- "No. He could never be that bad."

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:48 AM:

Incurious George obviously was never blinded by Science.

#22 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Ah, but what about the collusion between the US Embassy and the government of Albania to ship shoddy antique Chinese made ammo to our "allies" in Afghanistan, with the backing of the State Department?

Did I mention that the mastermind of this scheme is a 22 year old? Who was awarded a $300 million dollar contract?

Not abuse of science, but I find it reflects the same attitude, negligent, arrogant, cronyistic, and without regard for legal consequences, moral consequences, or even reality.

#23 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Marilee @ 10 Depending on restrictions the horse's remains may be buried on site (illegal in most places here in OK due to high table water levels and potential for contamination of well water feeds). Horses that have been euthanized are (at least here in the US) not fit for food (human or animal) processing so they will be disposed of at a burial facility but typically cremated. The removal of the carcass is not a delicate or pretty sight. I've witnessed it more than I care to mention.

Nancy @ 16 My father, a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer always said it was a fine skill to be able to tell someone how to $%^& themselves and have them thank you afterward. I don't think I quite developed his eloquence, I'm pretty positive I can deliver a very effective and heartfelt message to this administration. Of course, they'd never leave me alone in a room with him long enough...

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:59 AM:

ajay #13: My father owned a homburg. He also owned a panama. When my hair is kept short it has a natural marcel, before it starts forming curls. I say on with this ol' fashion revolution!

#25 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Jaw drops, slides along the floor to the open door, skids along the balcony and through the railing, falls 20 stories, bounces along the walkway and to the cliff's edge, tumbles over the side and down to the ocean, sinks as it's carried by currents towards and into the Mariana Trench, descends into the unthinking depths where strange currents meet, skips over the waters of lethe to the top terrace and bounces down all seven, slips by the legs of the evil one and through to the ice which collapses into a wormhole that pulls ever outward until the protons decay and still my jaw is dropping.

All die. O, the embarrassment.

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:00 AM:

P J Evans #14: Are you suggesting that the Augean Stables are located on Pennsylvania Avenue?

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Fragano @ 12... My wife persists in saying that a person can't be evil and stupid. Of course I disagree, and the above shows that the proof IS in the sh*t... I mean... in the pudding.

#28 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:01 AM:

You get what you reward.

Rewarding the ability to accumulate money by whatever means, making money the one reliable mechanism of social status, does what you're seeing.

I'm agnostic on the revolution thing; I do think y'all are going to need a great many hangings before the rule of law might be restored, though.

#29 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Josh #22,

I read that a few weeks ago after my wife found the article. Apparently all you need to become an arms dealer is have a pile of money, a dad who knows some people in the current administration, and no morals whatsoever.

After 8 years of this, the rot is deep indeed. Should Obama be elected, he will have to do some radical and severe pruning throughout the entire government system just to start getting it back to a responsible and accountable format. I hope he's got the strength to do so.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:02 AM:

What do you expect from people who make their own reality?

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:12 AM:

James Macdonald @ 30... Which is more dangerous - George Bush, or George Orr?

#32 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:17 AM:

JohnL: Apparently all you need to become an arms dealer is have a pile of money, a dad who knows some people in the current administration, and no morals whatsoever.

You don't necessarily even need to know someone in the current administration. A classmate of mine in college, who I thought of as a friend, turned up dead by the banks of a nearby river the summer after our sophomore year (1990). He carried a Lebanese passport, and it turns out he was involved in some arms dealing to certain groups in Beirut. At the age of 20. In Connecticut. Then one deal in particular went very, very wrong. The whole story eventually ended up on the cover of SPIN Magazine.

You really can't make this stuff up.

#33 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:18 AM:

"What do you expect from people who make their own reality?"

A really good Fantasy Novel?

#34 ::: Cynthia ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:22 AM:

It's just brain breaking. I mean, this isn't even plausible deniability: they can't say they don't KNOW. They KNOW -- and they're not going to do anything about it.

It's the arrogance that gets me: We don't need to open your report, neener, neener, neener!

I'd love to have the job where I don't have to open emails I don't want to. It'd make my life much easier.

Maybe I should run for office. My platform could be "Avoidance and Denial: Why Stop Now?"

#35 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:46 AM:

"What do you expect from people who make their own reality?"

A really good Fantasy Novel?

Should we be checking the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for dragons?

#36 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Don Fitch @ 33: I don't think so. For a really good fantasy novel, the world-building has to be a consistent and coherent--on some level, it has to make sense..

The best we can expect from this crew is a really bad fantasy novel.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Ronit @ 35... Should we be checking the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for dragons?

I can just see the tag line on the book's cover.

The trolls aren't UNDER the bridges anymore.
#38 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:02 AM:

Graydon @28 - but wait a minute! From the New York Times article linked above:

Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years.

Blocking the report is not so much about making money as fear of change and the unknown; protecting the ways that make money in the short term at the expense of long term changes.

For people who want to entrench privilege and create a permanent ruling class, they aren't thinking about the future enough. I demand a better class of aristocrats.

#39 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:08 AM:

Mary Frances @36:

The Eye of Dubya

#40 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Wait, this administration is just a maleficent Bartleby the Scrivener?

I give up.

#41 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:17 AM:

#28 ::: Graydon:

Do you have theories about capital punishment vs. life imprisonment? Capital punishment is satisfyingly thorough, but that satisfaction may have something to do with why capital trials are sometimes very sloppily done.

Also, having just reread LOTR, I'm wondering whether killing someone who's completely helpless is more fun than people should let themselves have. (The famous bit about not killing Gollum isn't the only time the subject comes up.)

And having also made the mistake of thinking that the prairie soil of the US midwest extends up into Canada, I'm wondering what the underlying premises are. Is it a belief that America is the default condition? Or that the universe is benevolent, so that good soil should be common? Or is it a belief in simple patterns-- there's a big stripe of good soil with plenty of room for it to extend northwards, so it might as well.

#42 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:22 AM:

#10 Marilee

My cousin dug a big hole with his backhoe, hauled the dead horse out of the barn with an automotive vehicle (either truck or backhoe) and buried the the dead horse.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:25 AM:

Serge #27: A Hannah Arendt writing today, I feel, would be obliged to consider both the banality of evil and the inanity of evil. The current administration has done its best to demonstrate both.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Fragano @ 43... both the banality of evil and the inanity of evil

My tired brain almost mashed that up into the bananity of evil, but that'd be an insult to Dr. Zaius.

#45 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Delia Sherman's descriptions of the appalling depravities of the corrupt, sometimes even brain-damaged by syphillis ancienne regime years ago at a Readercon, were much more tasteful and considerate than the actions and attitudes of the misadministration and its appartchiks.

As for political litmus tests for appointments, that's a surprise?!

The only surprise is that the collusion and accession has been so complete. Reps. Waxman and Kunich are among my heroes. Pelosi deserved repeated immersions in a dunk tank. McCain should be chained in one and waterboarded for the next six months or so, that might being to sink into his head....

On second though, shouldn't be a dunk tank, it should be some body of water where the water quality has gone bad over the past seven and a half years and has lots of stinking muck due to diverted water, and dead rotting fish....

#46 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Francisco@26: Don't be silly. The White House is MUCH fuller of horseshit.

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:35 AM:

My jaw drops, rolls off the table and out the door, then into the garden and under a bush (npi) where early next summer it will grow into a tree that grows jaws and tomato sauce, so that my jaw can continue dropping until the tree dies when my entire state is flooded out of existence because they ignored this report.

#48 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Serge #44: Indeed!

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Nicole TWN #46: ¿Quién demonios es ese jodido Francisco?

#50 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:48 AM:

Xopher's ditties at what is it, #696, in the AP/MBA thread seems to apply....

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:51 AM:

On the 22-year-old arms dealer:
The latest plot twist there is that his company was on the DoD 'watch list' to not get contracts. So was he, as an individual. So far I haven't heard why, but that's one more question to add to an already overlong list.

#52 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:51 AM:

IIRC, George Orr couldn't dream up a different President either. Though if you're being nitpicky, the Bush Administration is analogous to Haber.

#53 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Fragano #26: Why no, the Augean Stables don't smell as bad.

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:06 PM:

Tlönista @ 52...

"Did you ever happen to think, Dr. Haber, that there might be other people who dream the way I do? That reality is being changed out from under us, replaced, renewed, all the time -- only we don't know it? Only the dreamer knows it, and those who know his dream. If that's true, I guess we're lucky not knowing it."

"Oh, my God... I just killed six billion people..."

#55 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:08 PM:

Neil, #38: The "permanence" of the ruling class only has to last until they, personally, are dead. They don't even care about their own children.

#56 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 12:40 PM:

#51: his company was on the DoD 'watch list' to not get contracts.

In this administration, that means he's honest.

#57 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:03 PM:

You know that phrase, "the reality-based community"?

I think this is an example of someone creating a "reality-debased" community.

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Jon Meltzer (11), I've always assumed he was doing a lot of that when he was supposed to be working.

Ajay (13), I vote for the return of the cartwheel hat.

Kathryn who wrote the great paragraph, and everyone else who's gobsmacked: this can be explained.

George and his cronies don't care about the government and its systems, or about the truth or falsity of the things they say. What you have to remember is that the in-group of people that are the primary beneficiaries of their policies is fairly small. Moving outward from that group, you get larger and larger circles of people who are also morally complicit, and who think they belong to the in-group, but who receive less consideration and smaller rewards, and are expected to assume more risk.

That innermost circle knows that action will have to be taken on global warming. The Bush administration may have suppressed, denied, spun, and forged the information about global warming that was made available to the general public, but the administration's primary investors will have known better. They just don't want to have to do anything about the environment yet. Bush has given them eight additional years of doing as they please.

This administration isn't about ideology. That's for the suckers. It's about making money and securing power. Gutting FEMA was about repurposing the department as a branch of Bush's personal PR machine, and rewarding his campaign operatives with far better jobs than their qualifications could normally command. Systematically corrupting the Justice Department is about giving themselves freedom of operation, and fixing elections now, and covering their tracks and giving themselves leverage in the future.

That's why they can pursue non-sustainable strategies: giving massive tax cuts to the rich, manipulating monetary policy to prop things up while they plunder the national economy, pursuing a petroleum policy that's nothing short of demented, outing our own intelligence operatives (which has all kinds of damaging long-term effects) in order to punish disloyalty and demonstrate what it'll get you, telling lies to the international community that they know will be detected, insisting on a war we can't win and may not be able to exit cleanly, pulling other dirty tricks abroad that'll rebound to the detriment of U.S. foreign interests, imposing unfunded domestic initiatives, letting the home mortgage problem grow into a looming disaster, and ignoring urgent environmental issues.

They don't think those policies are going to work. What they think is that by the time the bill comes due, they'll have already gotten everything they can out of Bush's years in office, and have moved on to other things.

#59 ::: David Owen-Cruise ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Ronit @ 35... Should we be checking the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for dragons?

We should be looking for slapstick orcs. Foolish hobgoblins are a consistency of little minds.

I blame Lawrence Watt-Evans for the joke. I blame my brain for remembering it.

#60 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:55 PM:

They're traditionalist exploitationist robber barons monarchists.

"After me, nothing."

#61 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Bruce Arthur at 57 has just won today's "concise, precise, and elegant" award.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 60... Or, as is said in French...

Après moi le Déluge.
#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:05 PM:

I wish George Carlin had held out a few more days.

In tribute to him, I will not resort to "#$^%#@$^#$:"

The people in the White House are motherfuckers. They, and the corrupt assholes who left the administration to spend more time with their families, deserve to live out their lives in penal colonies located malarial swamps down south. (Or not so far down south, if temperatures continue to rise.) Their children and grandchildren should be incarcerated with them, by way of showing them that actions (or lack of action) have consequences to later generations.

#64 ::: Paula Liebermans ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:08 PM:

You gotcher dead skunks in the middle of DC
...dead skunk in the middle of DC...

#65 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:11 PM:

John @ # 29 - It's quite similar to the way that the Iraq CPA was set up. Or FEMA. Or the DOJ.

Cronyism with no eye for competence. All that was needed to get a job in the CPA was a sufficient ranking in the Republican party machine, and a pulse.

the thing is, with the bad ammo, people will die if they rely on it. American troops counting on the backing of the Afghanis who got the ammo might die too. And surviving Afghanis get the message that the US thinks they're not even worth functioning ammo.

If I were Hamid Karzai, I'd sue the State Department.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 64... Must we insult skunks?

#67 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:23 PM:

P J Evans @ 14

Well, King George's motto is clearly "Après moi, le nettoyage".

#68 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Nicole @ 2

moderately well socialized adult humans

The key phrase is not, as you might expect, "moderately well socialized", which in the case of George Bush is impossible, but "adult human", which in his case is not true. Which of the words there is false is open to discussion.

#69 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:30 PM:

TNH @58:

That innermost circle knows that action will have to be taken on global warming...They just don't want to have to do anything about the environment yet. Bush has given them eight additional years of doing as they please.

Or, perhaps, they've used the time to make their bets on who will make the most money out of addressing global warming. The profit from eight years buys a lot of shell companies and due diligence.

What they think is that by the time the bill comes due, they'll have already gotten everything they can out of Bush's years in office, and have moved on to other things.

Watch the companies that make it big out of alternative energy sources and climate change. Trace their ownership.

Better yet, don't deal with any company whose ownership isn't transparent, if you can't avoid it. And make our governments do the same.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 68...

"What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don't think so. It's the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them."

(From 2004's HellBoy.)

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 64

"... Stinking to high heaven!"

</caterwaul>

#72 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Serge@ 73: The trolls are ... riding the Metro.

If only Joss Whedon had set Angel in DC, rather than LA. An couple of episodes wherein Our Heroes battle inter-dimensional demonic looters who've taken over the government so that they can steal everything they can carry before moving on to the next target would make this so much easier to understand.

"Angel, Wes says ya gotta open the email for the spell to work."

Nonfantastical thought: This will only get worse as Jan 20, 2009 nears. Keep your eyes open.

#73 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:49 PM:

That NY Times article is structured like a suspension bridge -- there's an outrage at each end. Patrick quoted the first two paragraphs; here are the last two, with a bit of emphasis:

Simultaneously, Mr. Waxman's committee is weighing its response to the White House's refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents relating to the E.P.A.'s handling of recent climate-change and air-pollution decisions. The White House, which has turned over other material to the committee, last week asserted a claim of executive privilege over the remaining documents.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Fratto, the White House spokesman, said the committee chairmen did not understand the legal precedent underlying executive privilege. "There is a long legal history supporting the principle that the president should have the candid advice of his advisers," Mr. Fratto said.
#74 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:52 PM:

I keep getting images of Mr. Smith speaking to Morpheus in The Matrix, describing how he sees the human race, after I read Teresa's #58:

Bush's administration is the parasite on the US, leeching us of everything they can and then discarding us when the time for them to leave is here.

#75 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:56 PM:

And here we have Jim Hansen two days ago, testifying on the climate tipping point, 20 years to the day after his first testimony.

Game timer's up.

tnh,#58. "That innermost circle knows that action will have to be taken on global warming."

I'm not so sure. They may be like the military leaders who, apparently, believed that one more charge over the top would work. They may even be millenialists who sincerely believe that the second coming is nigh.

abi, #69: these people, if they believe in climate change at all, are investing in the high-tech, expensive technologies like nuclear electricity generation and carbon sequestration, and I don't think those are going to fly. Underlying this is a glossed-over fact: I don't think it is possible to make as much money selling the technologies that transform energy, or save energy, than selling energy itself. So, though green business will necessarily be the future, it may never be as big as the energy industry.

Every now and again I wish that the LJ mood words compiler would be attacked by a thesaurus, and this is one of those times. How does one react to the for-real end of our world? I could use about four or five words (one is only allowed one, anyway), but I have no words that are big enough.

Save us, Al!

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 02:57 PM:

Ronit @ 72... This will only get worse as Jan 20, 2009 nears.

As for myself, I am looking forward to January 20, 2009. And don't you go give Whedon ideas.

#77 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:01 PM:

Nancy --

Nothing to do with capital punishment.

There's defeat, which happens in the other fellow's head, and death. You can't guarantee defeat.

This lot are of the opinion that the rule of law is vacuous; they don't give up for anything. Prison is minor thing that can be fixed later, it's certainly not embarrassing or anything. It does not much alter the power structure they inhabit.

If y'all want to get rid of the alternative power structure, the one actively opposed to the consent of the governed and the rule of law, it's not enough to deny it legitimacy; you have to actually kill the people who will defend it to the death, and you have to remove its structural supports, including the "war on drugs", prison policies, and so on. You also have to take the money accumulated by its practices away.

This is standard practise for getting rid of a malign entrenched aristocracy. (Non-malign, see Taiwanese land reform in the 1950s.)

It's really and truly still the hangover from Prohibition, the which I could wish was yet the most spectacular example of the US departing from addressing reality in its exercise of policy. All that structural legitimization of gangsterism is still needing to be addressed.

#78 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:05 PM:

John Scalzi took this and ran with it today. (I was having similar thoughts myself.)

#79 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:20 PM:

#78: The problem with mulching the president is that then some poor plant will have to put up with him.

Executive privilege boils down to the right to sneer and say "fuck you!"

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 79... some poor plant will have to put up with him

Mulch Ado About Nothing.

#81 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:41 PM:

# 60 -


I knew I should have gotten them hooked on that life-extending lichen.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Yes, I've often thought that the best service the WPE could give to the world would be as compost.

#83 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 03:55 PM:

abi #69: Better yet, don't deal with any company whose ownership isn't transparent, if you can't avoid it. And make our governments do the same.

Good idea, but, as The Essex say, it's easier said than done.

#84 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Serge @ 76:

Don't you stand in the way between Whedon and a Lilah Morgan/Monica Goodling angst fic where Lorne discovers The Maguffin That Will Save Us All by listening to John Ashcroft sing "Let Eagles Soar". It's his destiny.

And really, if DOJ were recruiting from Wolfram & Hart, would it be any different from what's going on now?

You (Serge) should enjoy the countdown to January 20, 2009. You (journalists, bloggers) should keep a sharp eye out so that Serge and other good folks can enjoy themselves.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Ronit @ 84... You (journalists, bloggers) should keep a sharp eye out so that Serge and other good folks can enjoy themselves.

Excellent suggestion as THIS is what we turn into when prevented from enjoying ourselves.

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 05:17 PM:

#66 Serge

That was dead skunk, not live skunk.... road pizza skunk is very disgusting, and does not insult skunks bright enough to have avoided becoming road pizzas....

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 05:26 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 86... True, but even a dead flattened skunk is endowed with more qualities than the scumbags in the White House.

#88 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 06:07 PM:

I've et skonk before and liked it, but scumbag is probably only suited to the making of portable soup in order to rectify the humours of war criminals.

#89 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 07:04 PM:

Serge #87

The Oval Orifice Oaf doesn't have sufficient merit to be a Bad Guy is a really vile paranormal romance....

#90 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 07:09 PM:

There's Mad Cow Disease and then there's Mad Meglomaniac Evil Priest-in-Red-Friend Politician?

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 07:19 PM:

This seems to be the most appropriate place to mention the interesting neologism I just found.

Fractal wrongness

The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person's worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person's worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.

Debating with a person who is fractally wrong leads to infinite regress, as every refutation you make of that person's opinions will lead to a rejoinder, full of half-truths, leaps of logic, and outright lies, that requires just as much refutation to debunk as the first one. It is as impossible to convince a fractally wrong person of anything as it is to walk around the edge of the Mandelbrot set in finite time.

If you ever get embroiled in a discussion with a fractally wrong person on the Internet -- in mailing lists, newsgroups, or website forums -- your best bet is to say your piece once and ignore any replies, thus saving yourself time.

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 89... If the Oval Orifice Oaf were a comic-book villain, which kind would he be? Tom Tomorrow has frequently depicted Dick Cheney as the Penguin, but what of George? Gorilla Grodd's loser kid brother, maybe?

#93 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:14 PM:

#91: That is a beautiful and much needed term.

ISTM that many cases of fractal wrongness stem from a systematic inability to distinguish truth from bullshit. Some people (specifically, high RWAs, I think) judge ideas not based on their content and how it fits with reality and their other ideas, but based on the source of the ideas - if the source seems like a good and likable person, then the idea is accepted, if not, it is rejected.

In short, for those people, the *only* way to judge a book is by its cover. This explains why they're such easy marks for trustworthy-looking con artists, preachers and politicians.

(And to relate back to the thread topic: if it comes from a bunch of treehugging liberals at the EPA, it *must* be wrong. No need to look at the evidence, you already know they're a bunch of alarmist eco-freaks.)

#94 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:32 PM:

America in 2008. What you get when Dilbert's boss is elected president.

I wonder if Bush has a secretary who screams, "Delete the !!@#*%! e-mail yourself! I'm not your mother!"

(In case it's not obvious, I'm riffing off Chris' comment at #93 about high-level RWAs.)

#95 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 08:58 PM:

Serge, Bush/Cheney reminds me of a colleague's line about someone in our business: "He thinks he's Reed Richards." (Or in Cheney's case, Victor von Doom.) "But he's actually just Willie Lumpkin with the Power Cosmic."

#96 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 09:25 PM:

#91,
That's a great term, and has much explanatory power.

(and riffing on that:
Holographic Wrongness, where the each piece shows a fuzzy version of wrongness, and the more pieces you have the clearer the wrongness becomes.)

#97 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:03 PM:

what happens with the body? With cats and dogs, you can pick them up and bury or cremate them, but a horse is so much bigger.

As a young lawyer, I defended a client in a civil suit over the accidental electrocution of an elephant. My recollection was that the carcass had to be cut up into 10 lb. chunks and incinerated, at (allegedly)enormous expense.

#98 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:04 PM:

And that was a typo on my part--it was 100 lb. elephant chunks . . .

#99 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Lee #91:

I love that term! It makes me think of a description I've heard for some especially bad cryptosystems--"robustly weak."

The idea is that you have a system that's so thoroughly screwed up that there's no small fix you can make to salvage it. It's not just that the key management is messed up, or that they didn't choose a sensible crypto algorithm, or that they didn't seed their RNG properly--instead, they managed to get so many things wrong, that even if you fixed everything wrong you found, the system would still be about as weak as when you started. I gather that many DRE voting systems have this property.

#100 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:12 PM:

JKRichard, #23, thanks for the info. And sorry for the s on the end of your name in #10.

James D., #30, a visit to the neurologist and more phenobarb?

Paula Lieberman, #42, thanks!

PJ, #51, he & company were on the list because they'd done this three times before. Last night's news had a congressman asking a DoDer over and over "Didn't you fire the person who gave the contract?" and the DoDer finally saying it wasn't thought necessary.

rea, #97, thanks!

#101 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Chris @93, Alex @94 RWA? [*] My acronym dictionary has 24, not including this, & some others on Google.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:53 PM:

Bruce Baugh @ 95... "But he's actually just Willie Lumpkin with the Power Cosmic."

HAHAHAHAH!!!

I think Dick really is Darkseid.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2008, 11:56 PM:

Bruce Baugh... Come to think of it, Earth will look like Apokolips if those guys remain in charge.

#104 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 04:14 AM:

Randolph Fritz @ 75 "I'm not so sure. They may be like the military leaders who, apparently, believed that one more charge over the top would work. They may even be millenialists who sincerely believe that the second coming is nigh."

The impression I get is that to them the existence or non-existence of global warming is largely irrelevant--they are secure in the knowledge that their wealth and power will protect them. If the sea-level rises, then they'll buy the new beachfront property up north, and build a new beachfront "bungalow." They don't care if food prices rise--they can afford to pay. If three billion people die from hunger and disease, that will give them plenty of room to expand. They simply can't imagine being affected by global warming enough to care.

To the extent that they care about it at all, they probably care about its effects on their ability to collect (notice the deliberate absence of the word "make") more money and power. When it interferes with their wealth accumulation, it doesn't exist, i.e. the automobile and oil industries. When it aids their quest for more, then it does, i.e. corn-ethanol subsidies for ADM.

Chris @ 93: "Some people (specifically, high RWAs, I think) judge ideas not based on their content and how it fits with reality and their other ideas, but based on the source of the ideas - if the source seems like a good and likable person, then the idea is accepted, if not, it is rejected."

While I don't think you're entirely wrong, especially among the lower echelons, I think that among the top ranks the most important consideration when deciding whether to believe something is: does this help me get what I want? Is it useful to me? If it doesn't help them get what they want, then they don't want to hear it. Sort of a generalized case of the specific example I explore above, I guess.

#105 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 04:39 AM:

103: we wish. Apokolips has a flourishing manufacturing sector.

#106 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 05:18 AM:

Those things are worse than skunks, live or dead.

Yahoo has mailing lists on Skunks, even if some of the pictures in the Files section would likely give a VP heart attacks.

And there is always Sabrina.

(There are several versions of Zig-Zag floating around on the net, all tiger-skunk 'breed porn stars running their own studio... "Don't look, Ethel!" though a fursuit just doesn't look right. Now you know why I prefer CGI.)

#107 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 07:17 AM:

rea #98:

The scene from Animal House just popped into my mind when I read your comment about cutting the elephant up into 100 lb chunks...

Whenever one of our cows died on the farm, we just towed them off into a corner of the farm and burned them. Otherwise, the neighborhood dogs would start bringing nasty pieces of decayed cow into the yards to gnaw on...

#108 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 08:21 AM:

I just saw this satirical cartoon of George W. over on flickr, part of a series of three. It seems germane to the discussion.

#109 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 09:36 AM:

heresiarch, #104: "they are secure in the knowledge that their wealth and power will protect them"

I suspect you are right; it is exactly what the ruling classes of third-world countries believe. It is of course false-to-fact, but belief in one's own power is a seductive thing.

#110 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Speaking of disposing of large animals...

(Someone I know wrote a song about that incident. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the lyrics and can't remember enough of a phrase to go Googling for it.)

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 10:38 AM:

#107

Where I was, in West Texas, they'd move the dead cows onto the roadsides, where a truck would come along collecting them and taking them to the rendering plant.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:07 AM:

P J Evans @ 111.. This sounds like the premise for a zombie movie on the Skiffy Channel. Or like a Far Side zombie cartoon.

#113 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Someone I know wrote a song about that incident.

Kay Shapero's "Blubber"?

#114 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:21 AM:

#92 Serge

Juggernaut, maybe? Bull-headed, charging where told to charge with inexhaustible persistence, intellectually stupid and proud of it, loyal to the ones directing him and providing him with position, food, shelter, fancy attire, etc., mean-spirited and spiteful, and totally unconcerned about the damage he effects--for that matter, glorying in the damage he effects.

#115 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Sometimes dead whales wash up on New England shores.... there are probably articles on-line that discuss disposal of the (highly unpleasantly odored) dead whale carcasses.

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 114... And too stupid to recognize that his upside-down punchbowl makes for a really dorky helmet.

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:40 AM:

Joel, #113: No, it was Andy Eigel and Dave Tucker from Cincinnati. Dredging up Andy's last name got me a little further; it was called "The Whale Song" and was nominated for Best Filk Song in 1996, but didn't win. Still can't find the lyrics.

#118 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:59 AM:

ISTR a few years back when a large whale died and was washed ashore on a crowded beach. Obviously it had to be removed; the stench was chasing off the tourists. But, how?

I think they first tried to blow it up with explosives. REALLY bad idea, for obvious reasons. Eventually they just loaded the debris in a dump truck with heavy equipment and hauled it to the landfill.

#119 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 12:39 PM:

#91 ::: Lee

"Fractal Wrongness" describes it exactly.

Thank you for this discovery.

Love, C.

#120 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 12:40 PM:

I linked to this from my LJ, and somebody commented after this wise:

"That story is tripe. All official EPA business is done in hard copy, with a room full of lawyers, not by email (my sister is an official US Navy liaison to the EPA, she looked at that article and ROFLed)."

It seems unlikely to me that either you or Scalzi (or, come to that, the New York Times) would relay "tripe" without checking it first, but I pass the comment on for what it's worth...

#121 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 01:37 PM:

abi #69:

I don't agree with you here. To the extent that the administration and its cronies are delaying regulation of CO2 to improve their own investments' values, that's evil and ideally should be punished. To the extent that they're shifting their investments over to clean energy supplies, they're doing a good thing, not a bad thing.

The Bush administration has delayed acknowledging global warming, probably because it will be terribly politically painful to address, especially among some folks that donate a lot of money to Republicans. That's a problem, but it doesn't pay for the bad guys who are encouraging this to also invest in greener technologies.

The big threat I see with government response to global warming is that we will do stuff that doesn't make any sense in terms of decreasing CO2 emissions or addressing the consequences of global warming, more acidic oceans, etc., but which pays off politically. We've seen this already with corn-based ethanol in the US, which doesn't do much for CO2 emissions or energy independence, but does bring a lot of money into a few states and some well-connected companies. I expect much more of the same in the Obama administration, to be honest, though I would love to be proven wrong.

More fundamentally, my moderately informed take on this is that with existing technology, it's pretty much impossible for us to avoid a lot of global warming effects by now. Our best hope seems to be to just have the climate models turn out to have been very wrong in very fortunate ways. It's not physically impossible, but it's politically impossible, requiring painful, visible sacrifices up front to head off huge problems in a generation or two, coordinated across pretty much all the large countries in the world, sustained over decades.

The only practical way out of this I can see is better technology, to make those tradeoffs between decreasing CO2 emissions and wealth/quality of life way less painful. Anyone that's funding that better technology ought to have no trouble selling it, even if they made the fortune they invested in the clean technology building coal-fired power plants, and formerly made big donations to re-elect W.

#122 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Zander at 120: All official EPA business is done in hard copy, with a room full of lawyers, not by email

Eh. Federal agencies routinely forward draft documents to reviewers by email. Official correspondence is also sent hard copy, but a preliminary draft for review and comment? Almost always sent by email -- unless the BIA is involved, in which case it's hand-delivered on papyrus scrolls (Cobell joke).

The Times article is however deficient in indicating exactly what the forwarded report was supposed to achieve, and how ignoring it advanced the Administration's purposes.

#123 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 02:59 PM:

...the Bush Administration is analogous to Haber.

That's rather insulting to Haber. He at least had the noble intention of trying to improve humanity. the same cannot be said of the Bush administration who has been consistent only in their attempts to improve the size of their bank accounts, and nothing more.

Haber had vision. it may have been myopic but it was larger than the grasp of the Bush Admin, that's for sure.

#124 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 03:05 PM:

#122

There was all that very apparently deliberately obliterated email regarding the gestation of the Iraqi Adventure, and the outing of Valerie Plame, and no-one-can-know-unless-there-is-some-magical-way-to-recover-the-obliterated-information-and-the-obliterated-metadata-about-it....

That's one of the reasons I keep calling them "Stalinist." The old USSR had an army of apparatchiks whose work it was to doctor documentation, eradicate inconvenient records, replace Person A with Person B at the May Day Parade in the review stand when Person A had gone out of favor and Person B was being promoted to prominence, and generally do their best to change history by removing/replacing/editing/adding to/destroying records.

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 03:28 PM:

Keith @ 123... When they finally released Lathe on DVD in 2000, I was a bit annoyed that the DVD had not been made from the original film. They had apparently lost the film. As a result, the picture's quality is on the level of a VCR tape copied from a VCR tape made from a TV broadcast. Still, I liked it more than the later remake.

That being said, I agree about Haber. He was dangerous, but at least his intentions were good. (Of course, as we've learned from many stories, nerds and geeks let it get to their heads when they acquire godlike powers.)

That being said, here is an excerpt, but not the one with the turtles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbs3Y2HSoiw

#126 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 04:36 PM:

Serge @125: I enjoyed the old version of Lathe of Heaven, even if it creeks a little and looks a bit silly to our post-BSG eyes. Haven't seen the new one. I convinced my wife to read it after she saw the movie and she found that the poor quality of the film inhibited her ability to enjoy the book, which is unfortunate as Lathe is one of my favorites.

Of course, a dream movie version would be one penned by Jane Esponson and produced by Ronald Moore. Maybe Dean Stockwell could play Haber.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Keith @ 126... The DVD's crappy quality definitely gets in the way of enjoying the story. At least, I had the advantage of first seeing Lathe on a big screen at Boston's worldcon of 1980.

Dean Stockwell as Haber? I can see that.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 06:15 PM:

An update to #22

These guys were also on the watch list for the State Department, having been investigated for this kind of crap three times already (before the age of 23???) and they got a contract with that dept also.

#129 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 06:29 PM:

(...and it's just a coincidence that Haber's noble vision for humanity was accompanied by Haber getting more and more power?)

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Tlönista @ 129... That's what happens when a nerd becomes a god, especially if 'they' did laugh at him at the University.

#131 ::: Craig R ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2008, 11:04 PM:

Those who are bemoaning the moles in the various federal agencies that will need to be ferreted-out are missing the real kicker --

Because regulations and procedures for how laws are *implemented* is based on the final signed versions, there is a whole raft of laws that very well are being implemented entirely contrary to the bills as-written.

Because of all the "signing statements" that Shrub has been doing.

The signing statements act, effectively, as "I don't care what was written, and hashed-out in committees, and voted on. *I* say that this issue is going to be treated the way *I* say, and it will be *this.*"

Those signing statements will be the true evil that will live on after this administration is gone.

#132 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 01:53 AM:

#101 Epacris

RWA = Right Wing Asshole.

#133 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 04:28 AM:

Epacris @101, "High RWAs" are people who score very high on the scale of Right-Wing Authoritarianism: a tendency to defer to anointed leaders, to be full of undirected aggression and ready to attack anyone the authorities give them permission to attack, to be afraid of the world in general, and to have trouble thinking logically. The term comes up quite often on progressive blogs.

Another term that comes up in the same contexts is Double Highs: people who are both authoritarian and determined to achieve social dominance.

Both terms are from the book The Authoritarians, published online, by Bob Altemeyer. The book is well and simply written; I encourage you to check it out.

#134 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Ronit @ 35 -- I live 200 yards from the Anacostia -- those aren't dragons, but merely mutated fish. :)

Epicus @ 101 -- If you want to know about the idea of RWAs without reading a book,you can go here: http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/cracks-in-wall-part-i-defining.html

It is the first of a 7 part series on RWAs and how to deal with them.

#135 ::: Carol Maltby ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 06:48 PM:

The old-fashioned way of burying a horse --

When I was in my thirties, my grandmother was up visiting for an afternoon. I don't recall that side of the family ever being much for stories about when they were young, but I decided to try taping a little interview with Nana, not knowing what I'd get.

She sat up straight, folded her hands, and stories came out about growing up on a Wisconsin farm with a psychotic father. She showed me a scar on her arm, and matter-of-factly said it was from when he'd thrown the hatchet at her. She said she had to drop out of school in 8th grade to take care of her younger siblings. Nana's mother had died of appendicitis because her father refused to take her into town to see the doctor.

Nana related how once her father had beaten a horse to death, and then ordered her and her brother (they were the two oldest) to bury it at the side of the road. They dug a pit, but the horse was too heavy for them to drag. She said they had to skin it to make it light enough to move.

#136 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Alex @132, Rozasharn @133, Fishwood Loach @134 – thanx 2 u all. That hadn't come out at all in the quick-&-dirty searches I'd done.

Paula L @124 – the editing & re-editing of history/reality, including altering primary documents + speech & slogans was a big part of 1984, based on that example. It's one worry I have with digitizing stuff.

#137 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 08:03 PM:

Carol Maltby #135:

It's a wonder Nana's stories didn't include the time(s) she threw the hatchet at her father. Sounds like quite an upbringing.

#138 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Epacris #136

The ability to doctor digital images and not be able to detect the doctoring, isn't as easy as one might think--doing e.g. Laplace or Fourier transforms/analyses on images, there are "artifacts" which show up in the transform-space results that tend to scream "edited/doctored image!!!" and most people who enjoy using e.g. PhotoShop or paint and draws tools to play with images, are completely lacking in any awareness of. Doctoring an image so that experts in image analysis and the math behind it won't notice, is highly non-trivial and quite difficult.

Or, if you look at something that's been played with too much by someone without an understanding of image processing technology guts, you will see things like checkerboarding, banding, or other stuff that looks kinda weird, right there in the image you're looking at if you look closely enough.

#139 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 02:47 AM:

Paula @ 128

You're quite correct that experts with good tools can detect most image manipulation. The real problem is that most fakes never get that kind of attention; they're either accepted as true, because there aren't any obvious gaffes (shadows pointing the wrong way, parts of the image with different color casts or luminance levels, or obvious matte lines), or they're rejected as false because someone was there and can attest it didn't look like that. And even when the experts weigh in, people who don't want to believe them, won't. As evidence: the forensic report on the soundtrack of audio tapes of the JFK assassination; "grassy knoll conspiracy theorists" simply ignore the report (npi) that says there was only the sound of the 3 shots Oswald fired. Some talk about a different report from different experts (unnamed) with a different conclusion. It's not about truth, you see, it's about belief.

#140 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 02:59 AM:

Teresa: "This administration isn't about ideology. That's for the suckers. It's about making money and securing power. Gutting FEMA was about repurposing the department as a branch of Bush's personal PR machine..."
Amen, and I'd go further. The entire Republican party, with a few exceptions (Chuck Hagel, Ron Paul) is a criminal enterprise devoted to making money and grabbing power.
FEMA, though, was semi-ideologocially related. You see, if your entire political philosophy is based on "government doesn't work," and there's a great Clinton appointee named James Lee Witt running around with FEMA doing good work...well, see, every time there's a natural disaster in a red state, and FEMA shows up, and does good work, that's gonna make it *that much harder* to argue that government doesn't work. So something's got to be done about it.
I want these people behind bars. Every single one.

#141 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 03:57 AM:

Greg @ 140:

Well, I'd favor RICO prosecution of the GOP as an ongoing criminal conspiracy.

But I was in favor of that for the blatant crimes of the Reagan/GHWBush years, and never saw a hint of a whisper of a chance of it actually coming to pass.

Do you think it really will, or even could, happen this time around?

Even with the additional violations, e.g. war crimes?

At this point, just the fact that these malefactors are still walking around free, still holding power, and still able to have other human beings imprisoned and tortured, leaves me with no optimism that an outraged nation will hold them to account.

If that were going to happen, it would have by now.

#142 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 05:50 AM:

LATimes: Congress stunned by Bush officials' disdain on torture

Why would Congress be "stunned"? How could this possibly come as a surprise?

#143 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 07:56 AM:

It's newspaper English.

Certain words look better in headlines.

And "stunned" doesn't seem far wrong, when you consider what a Democratic-controlled Congress actually does. If anything, "stunned" is too mild a term for the state of hapless incapacity which seems to overwhelm them. "Poleaxed" might come closer.

Nice offices, you have here, Mr. Congressman. It'd be a shame if we had to decontaminate it after another anthrax attack.

#144 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 10:38 AM:

Dave #143:

ISTM that the Bush Admin has been doing this sort of intentional disrespect for Congress for some time, now. This might be a strategy, though if so, it's a bizarrely short-sighted one (big shock there), since the GOP will one day hold a majority in congress again.

The thing is, this kind of bluster is common from a bunch of folks in the administration, and it has continued from the time they held overwhelming power to the present day, when they hold little formal power and stand to lose much of what they have. I think it's a technique to try to retain power--act like you're powerful enough to laugh at powerful members of Congress, and maybe some of them will believe it for awhile. Besides, if you diss Congressional Democrats on TV, they either have to be seen taking it (diminishing their power) or be seen retaliating (making them look like bullies).

But this is nuts as a long-term strategy for the GOP. After the next election, Republican congressmen will need some kind of collegiality with the Democrats to minimally get things done, and I'm having a hard time seeing why that will happen. Republican governors need to be able to get cooperation with a Democratic president and congress to solve their problems. How's that going to work?

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 11:17 AM:

albatross, the Republicans will still be doing the same thing, because they vote as a solid group and the Democrats don't. There are thirty or so Democrats (the 'Blue Dogs') who can be counted on to support the GOP on things like defense spending, and just about anything that can be described as 'security' or 'terrorism'. Look at some of the voting totals, by party, and you can see this quite clearly.

It's very frustrating.

#146 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 10:04 PM:

After watching The Fall of the Roman Empire on Turner the other night, I had to hope future generations won't glamorize/exoticize our debacle the same way -- even if the young Christopher Plummer was a lot more fun as its mad villain than our bumbling Dubya and his evil counselors (and the original Commodus as well, I expect). I'd also like to believe our own path won't go down, down, down....

PS: Alec Guiness as Marcus Aurelius: inspiration for Obi Wan? He's even monkishly hooded in one scene.

#147 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Dave Bell #143: It's newspaper English.

One annoying thing I've noticed in the Queen's English headlines from the BBC is their tendency to single quote a word or phrase from the story; to me, it usually reads as if it were in dual-meaning quotey-fingers mode.

#148 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 10:18 PM:

So who should play Bush in "The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" in a couple of decades' time? Edward Norton, maybe?

#149 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2008, 11:30 PM:

#148 NelC

Who played the insane Emperor on Babylon 5?

#150 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Emperor Cartagia was played by Wortham Krimmer.

"Do you know that we assigned him one of our best pain technicians? -- They used to be called torturers. Ever since they got organized, it's 'pain technicians.' Why are you here? -- One of our very best torturers. I felt certain he would break him. Two hours he worked, not a sound. I said, 'Give me a cry, Rintinzi, give me a shout, a whimper, a scream.' Silence. So I got into it myself. You can't leave these things to others. They never get it right."

Snicks?

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 01:06 AM:

NelC @ 148... Edward Norton as Dubya? I hope not.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 01:07 AM:

James Brolin as Dubya?

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 01:24 AM:

No, no, no.

In a decade or so Frankie Muniz will make a perfect Bush.

#154 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Alec Guiness as Marcus Aurelius: inspiration for Obi Wan? He's even monkishly hooded in one scene.

Marcus Aurelius is probably best known as a stoic philosopher and as a general. Playing him as warrior-monk makes sense (as much sense as anything in the film anyway).

...I had to hope future generations won't glamorize/exoticize our debacle the same way ...

Well, people are going to make art out of it and some of that will be truely terrible. The best we can hope for is that some of it will be good.

I don't know why Hollywood wants us to think Commodus died in gladiatorial combat; I'd like to see a film where he's actually strangled in the bath. Still, compare the ending of Fall of the Roman Empire with Gladiator, both "based" on the same events. In Fall, they skip three months and one emperor and go straight to the auction of the empire. In Gladiator they restore the republic and everyone lives happily ever after (except Russell Crowe, obviously).

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 08:10 AM:

I dreamed I saw George Bush last night. The next line should be "Alive as you and me," but that's too depressing to continue. It was in the middle of a War of the Worlds knockoff, which began with a landing in Springdale, Arkansas. I escaped and headed north along the rail lines, and after stopping to speak to my friend rehabbing a house and before encountering the Mall Ninja, there he was.

George Bush was headed into his glass-fronted underground command center, just off the main drag of the station. He was by himself, and he's the only president we've got (since Cheney wasn't there), so I asked him if I could help. He said sure and told me to come on in.

Bush turned on the televisions scattered throughout the complex, all tuned to Fox News, which had nothing to say about the invasion. I tried to tell him what I'd seen, but he wanted to get on the phone and yack with friends.

I picked up one of the cell phones lying around and found a number in memory which would connect me to someone who would expect to hear from the President when that number showed up on caller ID. I reported to that person what I'd seen and how the President was failing to react. Then I handed him the cell phone and told him the call was for him. He took the phone with ill grace and began yacking with the person on the other end.

It was at this point that I decided to head back down the railroad tracks. I'd been perfectly willing to stay there and die to do some good, but not to watch the President twiddle his thumbs.

#156 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 08:52 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 153... When I made my earlier casting suggestion, I must have half-remembered that I had read somewhere that Oliver Stone was working on a movie apparently making fun of Bush. The title? W. Who's playing Dubya? Josh Brolin.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 08:54 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 155. What an unpleasant dream.

#158 ::: Sam the Storyteller ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 10:28 AM:

Hiya! Thought this might be more appropriate than an email, just wanted to comment and say thanks for linking to my Alien LOLcat fic. :) Small ridiculous thing that it is, it's always nice to see people are enjoying it!

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2008, 02:16 PM:

Sam @158:

All kudos on your LOLcat fic will be going to the current Open Thread. (Just one so far, but it's only newly up.)

It's a good one, and right up our street. We are, if anything, an SF community. And we do love LOLcatz.

#160 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 12:41 PM:

albatross #121

We don't really have to wait for new technology to slow global warming and mitigate most of its effects. Most of the issue is political/financial

For instance, did you hear the announcement that Wal Mart ran a pilot program sourcing some produce closer to stores, and it saved so much money they're expanding it? If we had higher gas taxes, that would have happened a long time ago, because what it means is the cost of shipping finally outweighed the savings of single contracts and centralized negotiations with growers.

There are similar efficiencies in most industries, like the giant sail kites that some companies have put on ocean freight ships. Most of them just mean paying attention to energy use. Install new furnaces, insulate buildings, pay attentio to food waste, practice preventative medicine - those are all just choices we could make, not technological breakthroughs.

Simply making bad choices more expensive would make a good start (politically too - we need to end this gentlemen's agreement where the outgoing administration are all pardoned or not investigated by the next one to avoid ugliness)

And then there are current-tech cleaner power sources. That includes wave power, wind, concentrated solar, methane from garbage & manure, your own feet & muscles. None of them are perfect, and they're all site-specific instead of one solution for every place. But combined with low-tech sequestration like kiln-burning or composting organic waste, we could cut worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions enough to maybe give us time to find the high-tech ones people keep talking about.

All it takes is the will to do it.

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