Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Yuk o'the Day:

An old HS buddy forwards this one. I think it was already in my collection of lawyer jokes, but I don't think I've ever used it here:

The United Way realized that it had never received a donation from the city's most successful lawyer.

So a United Way volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office.

The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, "Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don't give a penny to charity. Wouldn't you! like to give something back to your community through the United Way?"

The lawyer thinks for a minute and says, "First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?"

Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbles, "Uh... no, I didn't know that."

"Secondly," says the lawyer, "my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children."

The stricken United Way rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again.

"Thirdly, did your research also show you that my sister's husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children one of whom is disabled and another has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?"

The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, says, "I'm sorry, I had no idea."

And the lawyer says, "So... if I didn't give any money to them, what in the hell makes you think I'd ever give any to you?"

Len on 09.30.05 @ 11:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

So here's what ID proponents are offering to teach your kids: They won't say how ID works. They won't say how it can be tested, apart from testing Darwinism and inferring that the alternative is ID. They won't concede it has to be falsifiable. All they'll say is that Darwinism hasn't explained some things. But that's what the first half of the Dover policy says already. So there's no need for the second half—the part that mentions ID.

The Dover School Board thinks it's getting a bum rap. All it asked its teachers to do was to mention ID. It never ordered them to teach it. "The theory of Intelligent Design shall not be taught to the students," says the board. Of course not. There's nothing to teach.
--William Saletan

Len on 09.30.05 @ 07:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(21% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Via Mr. Mike.

Len on 09.29.05 @ 07:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Most interesting geek idea I've seen today....

Feral Robotic Dogs.

Thanks to Josh Schulz for the pointer.

Len on 09.29.05 @ 06:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Must be a propitious alignment of the planets, or something....

because Mad Kane's been quite creative the last couple days. today we get a bit of a longer poem than the limericks and haikus she's graced us with. Audio version, too!

Len on 09.29.05 @ 06:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From the blogger formerly known as SKBubba (now blogging at Facing South):

Check this out:
The Katrina Reconstruction Summit
Monday, September 26, 2005
Senate Hart Building, Washington, DC

The Katrina Reconstruction Summit is hosted by U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and organized by Equity International as a public service.


Confirmed participants include top executives from KBR [a division of Halliburton], McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, L3-Titan, IBM, DynCorp, Accenture, Deloitte, Clark Construction Group, 3M, CACI, Unisys, Lucent, and Parsons, and many government officials and diplomats.
All the heads of all the families in one place!
Though I had a tough time deciding between that and Randy's header for that post: Open invitation to looters

I wonder if Uncle Duke's going to be attending:

Len on 09.29.05 @ 05:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Are you frustrated....

by websites with those annoying, no-substance Flash movies which make you wait seemingly forever before letting you into the site?

Well, here's the apotheosis of the senseless, substance-free opening Flash animation....

Len on 09.29.05 @ 12:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmmm... talk about incongruity...

I'm giving XM's '70s music channel a listen today, just because I can (man doth not live by Air America alone, and impressions to the contrary I don't keep the XM tuned on Air Am all the time).

The programming right now: Donny Osmond singing his hit, "Sweet and Innocent".

What on earth was the attraction in a song about how the object of the singer's affection was too young, too sweet and too innocent for him to corrupt ("But you're too young to know the score/So come back when you're older"), when the singer himself sounds like he's about 12 years old (and I'm not inclined to do the math right now, but from my recollection Donny may well have been 12 or 13 himself when that song charted...)?

Actually, hearing the song now gives me the creeps.

Len on 09.29.05 @ 08:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There's an advantage to being an unattractive person....

Namely, I know that I'm not at all likely to have a secret admirer. That's good news because there's a warning out: Beware of anonymous email online postcards

Yet another email online postcard virus has been launched. This time the unsuspecting user gets a postcard from a “secret admirer” or other anonymous source, and when the user follows the link in the email to retrieve their “postcard", what they really end up retrieving is the Dloader-UT Trojan. Dloader-UT in turn then downloads the Trojan virus Dumaru-S which installs itself on your computer, allows others remote access to your system, and records your keystrokes!

Dumaru-S is also known as “Backdoor.Win32.Dumador.az".

Explains Carole Theriault of Sophos, who has been quoted a lot this week (what’s happened to Graham Cluely?), “You may think you’ve received an electronic greetings card from a secret admirer, but in fact it’s a hacker who is going to be showing an unhealthy interest in you.”

Fortunately, most anti-virus programs should have definitions for Dloader-UT and/or Dumaru-S, so as always, update your anti-virus programs regularly!
Remember, forewarned is forearmed....

Len on 09.29.05 @ 08:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Paging Captain Cousteau....

First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild.

The article includes some awesome pictures, like:

First image of Architeuthis

Len on 09.29.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

There are a lot of boring people out there and most of them talk loudly on their cell phone. Business calls: A device used to let the people around them know they have a job. And I can always tell by the nature their circular conversation about nothing, that they are expendable. I die of boredom listening to anyone checking into the office. I was in an airport waiting area the other day and I was literally dying of boredom listening to people talking about how a proposal is shaping up and whether to use chrome or puter for the samples. It was an assault. What flesh was left on my body, after being blown away by their boringness, I picked up and carried onto the plane just so it could melt from the boredom of sitting with the same fucking people for 3 hours. So, I'm offering my Emily post version of what a check into the office should sound like. (guy on phone) -- John here.... Bitchin', I have a total hard on for this project.... Well tell her she can kiss my fucking grandma's kooch.... No what I want is three fingers up my ass, but I'll settle for you getting that report over to Tim by the time I'm done jerking off in the bathroom of this Mcdonald's.... I hope he dies of Cancer.... Great, have a good weekend (click) (scene). I am aware that calling someone boring is a value judgment, but so is calling someone alive or breathing if you want to get metaphysical.
--Mishna Wolff

Len on 09.29.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

'I can resist anything except temptation.'
--Oscar Wilde

I'm not a big breakfast cereal eater (which is why I hadn't seen it earlier; I'm usually not putttering down that aisle of the grocery), but when I saw this looking at me from the shelves at Schnucks, I knew what I had to do:

Go Prince Albert!

Of course, the association of Wheaties with celebrity athletes is a long one, which is as deft a segue as I can manage on short notice to my favorite Wheaties story....

Back in the olden days, Wheaties was faced with competition by a now forgotten and probably unlamented rival from Post, called "Huskies". Like the Wheaties folks, Post tried to boost sales by associating Huskies with famous athletes, and one of the ways that they did that was by sponsoring a sports radio program featuring (along with other content) interviews with prominent athletes of the time. The story is told about how Yankee Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig once made an appearance on the Huskies show and, while being interviewed, stated that every day he ate a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast.

At the end of his career, Gehrig considered making up for his earlier gaffe. According to some sources, Gehrig contemplated beginning his famous "farewell speech" (presented at a July 4, 1939 "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium) a bit diffferently:
Before I begin my remarks, I'm told that today my words are being broadcast to the country courtesy of the makers of Wheaties. I remember another time when I mentioned Wheaties on a radio show sponsored by Post cereals, so I just would like to take this opportunity to say: Huskies! Huskies!
This is one of those "if it isn't true, it ought to be" stories. While I love it, I can't vouch for it, although the official Wheaties website does say that Gehrig inadvertently referred to his eating Wheaties on a radio program sponsored by a competing cereal. What makes the story a bit hard to swallow is that Gehrig (who was, incidentally, the first athlete to have his picture on the Wheaties box) also had an endorsement deal with Huskies as well.

Len on 09.28.05 @ 10:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Cause for optimism?

Polar Donkey finds some in recent GOP travails:

Last November I was down in the dumps like every other democrat. I kept seeing all the corruption on the Republican side and I wondered if the legal system could withstand the republican asssault on the rule of law. Between Delay's K Street plan and TRMPAC and that lunatic Senator Cornyn threatening judges, I doubted the law could be enforced. But oh how things have changed in a very short time. Bill Frist is being investigated for insider trading worth between $2 and $6 million by the SEC. Tom Delay got indicted for criminal conspiracy. The guy in charge of purchasing for the US government, Savarian, got indicted last week. Jack Abramoff will be going to jail and is currently being investigated by 4 committees in congress. Half of the Republican party of Ohio will be going to jail for coingate. Duke Cunningham in California had to resign for bribes from defense contractors. Grover Nordquist and his organization is being investigated as well. But the biggest one will be Karl Rove in October. It will be great. People are finally figuring out that the Rethuglicans have a pay to play system. They shake down contributors in return for campaign donations and funnel it into slush funds to do dirty tricks and enrich themselves. The Republican Party is ideologically and morally bankrupt. It's ashame it took so much damage to the country for people to see it.

Len on 09.28.05 @ 09:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Late to the party again, alas.....

The blogosphere is apparently atwitter over a study showing that the benefits of having a majority of declared religious believers are highly exaggerated, at best. The conclusion of the study, in academese:

The United States’ deep social problems are all the more disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). Spending on health care is much higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to two or more, than in any other developing democracy (UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism. It is therefore hoped that this initial look at a subject of pressing importance will inspire more extensive research on the subject. Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies. Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions? There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002). It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses.
The Short Form:
Japan and a number of European democracies have low rates of declared "religiousness" and a high degree of "secularization", and they also score highly on quantifiable indicators of societal health.

The United States has a much higher rate of declared "religiousness" and much lower rate of "secularization", and scores poorly on quantifiable indicators of societal health.

In addition, within the U.S. a similar pattern emerges: those regions within the U.S. which score higher in declared "religiousness" and lower in "secularization" score more poorly on quantifiable indicators of societal health than those regions within the U.S. where there are lower rates of declared "religiousness" and higher rates of "secularization".

Conclusion: There's no correlation between how religious a society is, and how healthy that society is.
There's quite a bit of discussion out there about the study, and unfortunately I don't have the time and space to deal with it now, but I did like an Australian philosopher's pointer to some observations of David Hume:
How happens it then...if vulgar superstition be so salutary to society, that all history abounds so much with accounts of its pernicious consequences on public affairs?

Factions, civil wars, persecutions, subversions of government, oppression, slavery; these are the dismal consequences which always attend its prevalency over the minds of men.

If the religious spirit be ever mentioned in any historical narration, we are sure to meet afterwards with a detail of the miseries which attend it. And no period of time can be happier or more prosperous, than those in which it is never regarded or heard of.

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, XII, 220

Len on 09.28.05 @ 08:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And the answer is: 'Not long at all.'

The question: "How long will it take before the announcement of Tom DeLay's indictment inspires some poetry by Mad Kane?" (Apologies to Jeopardy!.)

In Mad's case, she uses DeLay's indictment as inspiration for a haiku, as well as reason to revisit a song parody from a while back.

Unusually for Mad, there's no audio feed for this one. However, in compensation, Mad's DeLay indictment haiku has inspired Roxanne of Rox Populi to announce the First Annual Rox Pop "Tom Delay Haiku Slam". Some interesting haikus in the comments; it almost makes me sad that I've never "gotten" haiku, certainly not well enough to actually compose any.

Len on 09.28.05 @ 07:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A new variation on an old scam...

The owners of the Florida Marlins, and their co-conspirators, have come up with a new angle for getting to stick their hands in the public pockets in their quest not to have to build a new stadium with their own money. From the Business of Baseball Report in The Hardball Times:

Marlins Stadium Supporters Take New Angle

Weston, Fla. mayor Eric Hersch is coming to bat for the Florida Marlins in their quest for public financing for a new stadium. His proposal has nothing to do with baseball, and everything to do with the recent hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on the gulf coast.

Hersch’s big idea is to help fund the Marlins’ new stadium, but to also make sure the ballpark has a dual purpose. By building a category 5 hurricane-proof stadium, the facility would be able to double as a shelter in the event of a major hurricane hitting the area. The stadium would be stocked with emergency supplies and generators, and the storm refuge aspects of the stadium would be just as much of a priority as the baseball aspects. While the state legislature hasn’t taken up the matter, the plan makes more sense than falling back on the myth that a new stadium would provide some kind of imaginary economic benefit to the area.
In fairness, an interesting concept, and if it's implemented as described here, it'd actually provide some benefit to the local area. But I'm cynical by nature, especially where the privileged are looking to get the public to fund their playtoys; I'll wager that, when push comes to shove (and it will), the storm shelter aspects of the stadium will take second place to the baseball aspects. I'll believe it when I see it, and not before.

Len on 09.28.05 @ 12:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Off to a good start:

New addition to the blogroll: Main and Central. This is a group blog founded by Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran, and which focuses on the perspective of "veterans of the Democratic persuasion", as Jo put it, and matters of concern to veterans. By "veterans", Jo includes everyone from folks who left active duty a long time ago to vets just back from Afghanistan or the Mess in Mesopotamia. The gang looks to be an interesting collection of viewpoints:

We've got quite a distinguished group of bloggers (we'll they're all bloggers now, right?), including Terry from Nitpicker, recently returned from a National Guard tour in Afghanistan; Lurch, a long-time and frequent commenter at DemVet and other places, who is a former Army Warrant and was in SE Asia as a LRRP; Jeff Huber of Pen and Sword, a retired Naval Officer and former Commanding Officer of a fleet E-2C squadron, and other veterans who have agreed to contribute. There are also a couple of active duty types who are currently in Iraq who have expressed an interest in contributing, but are weighing the consequences (yes, there are some) of contributing before they take the plunge. I hope they join us, but we'll see. The 1600 Crew are nothing if not vindictive, and these guys need to look out for themselves, after all a couple of them were serious career guys before their second Baghdad vacation.
Best of luck to y'all; I'll be keeping my eyes on you.

Len on 09.28.05 @ 12:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

So let's see.

House Majority Leader Indicted for Criminal Conspiracy.

Senate Majority Leader the target of an increasingly serious probe of potential insider trading.

Rumors of October Rove indictment in the Plame case.

Is this a problem yet?
--Josh Marshall

Len on 09.28.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A data point...

In support of those Texas "Aggie" jokes:

I'd have never guessed that there were two ways to board up a window in anticipation of a storm....

Credit: Pete Vonder Haar

Len on 09.28.05 @ 12:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yum...Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale...

"For a beer fancier, there's only one place to be starting today and running through Saturday The Great American Beer Festival in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Upwards of 30-thousand people are expected to buy tickets designated drivers get a greatly reduced rate. Once inside, beer lovers will have the chance to get a one-ounce taste of some 16-hundred different beers on tap, the most in the world.

Every region of the country will be represented, and 350 brewers will be arranged geographically on the convention floor. They will be vying for gold, silver and bronze medals in 67 different judging categories.

Beer consumption by the average American has remained remarkably consistent over the years at about 22 gallons annually.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Reminds me of the Beers from around the world and nation and the Flying DogTire Bite Golden Ale I had in Memphis at "The Flying Saucer."



Karen on 09.28.05 @ 11:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot damn!!!!

On Air America Radio, Al Franken's just announced that Tom DeLay was indicted in Texas.

I may have to rethink my atheism (especially if he's convicted).

UPDATE: DeLay indicted in campaign finance probe

The interesting thing about this is, as Molly Ivins has pointed out on a number of occasions:

DeLay and Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick may have achieved the near-impossible by breaking Texas campaign finance laws. Since Texas essentially has no campaign finance laws, this is no mean feat.
--Molly Ivins

Len on 09.28.05 @ 11:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Good Citizens....

I have an excerpt from a Driftglass post and some added commentary.

Click on the “more” button” to read further below the fold.


Karen on 09.28.05 @ 08:16 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's 2008 presidential campaign has gotten off to a rocky start, what with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a U.S. attorney investigating whether Frist ordered the sale of his shares in HCA, the hospital company his family founded, because he knew the stock was about to plummet.

Frist welcomes the investigation, and he's probably correct that he will be cleared of wrongdoing. Sure, his blind (or perhaps seeing-eye) trust sold shares in the company ahead of a disappointing earnings report in July. But a shrewd investor (or broker) didn't need a personal tip from a company official to dump HCA in May and June. You could just look at sales by HCA executives—widely available to the public through SEC filings and on free services like Yahoo! finance—to see how company insiders were trying to get out before a crash.

The real story about Frist and HCA is just how little he has done to help his family company. As Senate leader, he has done nothing to address the health-insurance problems that have caused HCA's stock to plummet. Republican policies have been troublesome for many health-care businesses, but they have been particularly devastating to HCA.
--Daniel Gross

Len on 09.28.05 @ 07:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Holiday to the Big Apple...

I’m off on a weekend Holiday to NY City. So, Len and Brock will certainly continue to “entertain” ya'all if I find myself unable to have WiFi access or the time to post.

But I have few long articles to get posted, like this one about the NOLA shipping canal and the Flooding from Hurricane Katrina.

Click on the “more” button to read further- and Enjoy.


Karen on 09.28.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Hmmmmmm.... have we tried everything else?

Bush Orders Flags Lowered To Double-Half-Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush issued a proclamation indefinitely lowering the nation’s flags to the double-half-staff position today, in hopes of reversing the string of ridiculously bad luck currently plaguing the United States.

“Flying the flag at full-staff has proven to be very unlucky,” said Bush. “Every time we do that, something terrible happens, and we just end up having to lower it again. It is our hope that flying the flag double-half-staff will bring just as much good luck as full-staff brought bad.”

The nation’s flags had never been lowered to double-half-staff before today.
More of this BS....

[Hmmmmm. Is that "double half-staff" (which sounds like "full staff" to me; after all, 0.5 x 2 = 1) or "quarter-staff" (0.5/2 = 0.25)? --LRC]

Len on 09.27.05 @ 06:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Army in Crisis

David C. Unger (The NY Times - Military affairs expert) has written an excellent piece on the Crisis in the Army:

The biggest casualty of the Iraq War could be America's all volunteer army.

Click on the "more" button to read this long article.

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 03:29 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Let's See the GOP Majority Quibble Over This One...

...and whether they will shoot this down like the "independent investigation" into the Katrina debacle.

"Congressman Henry A. Waxman and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act, which would prohibit the President from appointing unqualified individuals to critical public safety positions in the government.

"President Bush has handed out some of the country's most difficult and important jobs - leadership positions in public safety and emergency response - to politically well-connected individuals with no experience or qualifications," Rep. Waxman said. "This common sense legislation will end this practice and ensure that public safety is back in the hands of those who are trained and experienced in protecting the public."

The bill would require any presidential appointee for a public safety position to have proven, relevant credentials for that position. In addition, the legislation bars from appointment to an agency any individual who has been a lobbyist for an industry subject to the agency's authority during the preceding two years.

"As Hurricane Katrina tragically demonstrated, serious consequences result when unqualified cronies are appointed to federal public safety positions," Pelosi said. "The Bush Administration's culture of cronyism comes at the expense of public safety. It is unconscionable and must stop immediately - it is literally a matter of life and death. This legislation is critically needed, and I thank Mr. Waxman for his strong leadership in protecting the American people."

Subject to the bill are specific senior-level emergency preparedness offices at the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as any position with the primary function of responding to a direct threat to life or property or hazard to health. "

Courtesy of US News Wire.

And I hope it has a provision to get RID of those *Brownie's* FOR GOOD...none of this *rehire them* garbage going on now.

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmmm.... Can U.S. troops be far behind?

Brits drawing up plans to bail out of Iraq; Defence Secretary confident the process will begin by next summer.

Len on 09.27.05 @ 12:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuks o'the Day:

Bush is keeping track of Hurricane Rita as it hits his home state of Texas. That's Bush's worst nightmare: an electric chair with no power.
--Jay Leno

Hurricane Rita is supposed to make landfall in Texas, which is good for Barbara Bush because she can insult survivors closer to home.
--Bill Maher

Yesterday President Bush made his fifth visit to the area that received the most damage from Hurricane Katrina. In other words, the White House.
--Conan O'Brien

The president believes the government should be limited not in size, Jon, but in effectiveness. In terms of effectiveness, this is the most limited government we've ever had.
--Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry

Now here's some sad information coming out of Washington. According to reports, President Bush may be drinking again. And I thought, "Well, why not? He's got everybody else drinking."
--David Letterman

Hat tip: dKos's Bill in Portland Maine who compiled these for today's "Cheers and Jeers".

Len on 09.27.05 @ 11:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Too True to be Funny" Department:

Via our pals at The Onion: Bill Introduced As Joke Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, DC—A bill introduced by Sen. George Allen (R-VA) as "just a goof" several weeks ago was signed into law by President Bush Tuesday.

"I was just trying to crack up Frist and some of the other guys," Allen said. "Everyone's been on edge lately, what with the Katrina situation, and I thought we could use a good laugh."

Added Allen: "Looks like the joke's on me. And, I suppose, the American citizens."

S. 1718, also known as the Preservation Of Public Lands Of America Act, authorized a shift of $138 billion from the federal Medicare fund to a massive landscaping effort that, over the next five years, will transform Yellowstone National Park into a luxury private golf estate.

"I thought it was pretty damn funny when I read over the draft of the thing," said Allen, who said he struggled to keep a straight face when he introduced the law. "Especially the part about how it would create over 10,000 caddy and drink-girl jobs. But I guess it went over people's heads."

Len on 09.27.05 @ 08:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Visual Confirmation of the Truth of the Matter...

Think Progress has a good post on the under-reported totals for the Peace March in Washington, D.C.; thought to be closer to 300,000 figure than the 100,000 originally reported.

Protest Turnout: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Lies

"Popular right-wing blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs wrote a post on Saturday called “What If They Gave a Protest and Nobody Came?” It was picked up by various bloggers including Michelle Malkin, who called it “fair and balanced” coverage of the protest.

In the post, Johnson published the photo below as evidence of the “media’s tendency to exaggerate,” arguing that “it looks like the turnout was much less than 100,000 people.” Johnson noted later in the day that “Al-Reuters” had also used the 100,000 number, despite the fact that the picture below “refutes” that claim…”

And HERE is the picture:

MarchWide2 (27k image)

To judge the size of a demonstration down 15th Street, it’s probably best to use a photo that actually includes 15th Street, like the shot below. (You’ll notice the throngs of marchers filling up the street for several blocks.)

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 08:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Further Comment Would Be Superfluous" Department:

Len on 09.27.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

If it were to rain a lot, there is concern from the Army Corps of Engineers that the levees might break. And so, therefore, we're cautious about encouraging people to return at this moment of history.
--George W. Bush

Len on 09.27.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I-Pass - EZ pass

I-PASS can now be used in 11 other states to the east (Jon Davis -Daily Herald):

"Road trips between the suburbs and the East Coast should now be easier for the area’s nearly two million I-PASS-equipped drivers.

With a midnight click of a mouse, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority computers began sharing I-PASS account information with their E-ZPass counterparts, allowing drivers to use their transponders on the other’s toll road systems starting today.

Car and motorcycle owners can immediately use their existing I-PASS transponders. But drivers of trucks, buses, recreational vehicles or cars with towing rigs will have to trade their transponders for new ones compatible with the E-ZPass system.

The toll authority joined the E-ZPass consortium — which comprises Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — in April 2004.

But it’s taken 17 months to integrate the two systems’ computer hardware, software and electronics so each system can read the other’s radio signals and charge accounts on 21 separate toll road, bridge or tunnel agencies.

Toll officials did have some words of warning: I-PASS users should make sure their accounts are full before driving east, as E-ZPass tolls generally are more expensive. And I-PASS users who want to know if they qualify for E-ZPass discounts must contact each toll agency separately..."

Now, if only a gallon of gas wasn't so expensive...

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 05:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Google Bombs

Being a techno-dweeb, I found this a bit amusing from the Chicago Tribune `Google bombs' put searchers on wrong path, by Steve Johnson:

“Latest on the list of things that engage the computerati but barely interfere with the lives of regular folk -- except to add another new term we vaguely feel we ought to remember -- is the practice known as "Google bombing."

In a resurfacing of an old political jab, anyone typing the word "failure" into the Google Internet search engine gets, as first result, the official White House biography of President George Bush. Ditto for typing the term "miserable failure." Not tested on this computer, because of office rules about profanity rather than because of how much the editorial page loves our president, is what happens if you stick an expletive, undeleted, in between "miserable" and "failure."

These results show up because people who followed their parents' advice to study computer science instead of English literature have analyzed Google and other search engines and figured out that they can be manipulated.
How does a Google bomb work? Here's the company's own, reasonably lucid explanation: "Google's search results are generated by computer programs that rank Web pages in large part by examining the number and relative popularity of the sites that link to them. . . . In this case, a number of Web masters use the phrases failure and miserable failure to describe and link to President Bush's Web site, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases."

For this reason, and the fact that other search engines are also affected, some have argued that "link bombing" is the better term.

Reading between the lines of this recent posting, the company's bluster fails to disguise that it seems worried about Google bombing. It's something that can be done by a relatively small group of bloggers, for instance, and it can push legitimate search results below where they ought to be.

What the company doesn't say is that failure-equals-Bush is a clunker of a joke. The search result would be funny if you stumbled on it accidentally, by, say, following a blind link sent to you by one of those guys who is always sending around "wacky" e-mails. You got the picture he passed on of the Presidents George Bush fishing in New Orleans, right? First truly amusing thing he sent in a year.

But very few people -- perhaps an inherent defeatist looking for the actual online journal called Failure, or a newspaper writer researching a high-concept feature story -- are likely to type "f-a-i-l-u-r-e" into Google without having been tipped to the result first. And punchline-then-joke just doesn't work.

Funnier is that the second "failure" search result you get, in an apparent act of tit for tat, is the Web site of Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore. Right-wingers can fool Google too.

But most interesting is following the third link, to a legitimate result of the "failure" search. On the site of Failure magazine, we learn that the editors are, in fact, thinking about Katrina.

"We have a front-runner for Failure of the Year (FOTY): The federal government's response to the situation on the Gulf Coast," says the Editor's Column. "The Bush Administration `won' our annual FOTY award two years ago, and it seems destined to become the first two-time winner in Failure's six-year history."

Clearly, this is not a publication run by talentless hack."

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 05:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Can I.D. meet the test for "Science" in a Court of Law?

Intelligent design faces first big court test Parents sue after alternate to evolution added to science curriculum:

“A federal judge in Pennsylvania will hear arguments Monday in a lawsuit that both sides say could set the fundamental ground rules for how American students are taught the origins of life for years to come...”

Some of these major I.D. proponent's theories have been analyzed at skepdic.com. And there is this new article from the WaPo: This New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory: Pa. Trial Will Ask Whether 'Alternatives' Can Pass as Science

[Hat tip to Pharyngula]

Click on the "more" to read the article in full.

Karen on 09.27.05 @ 05:36 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Here's what "accountability" means in the bAdministration

Brownie is back.

CBS News' Bob Schieffer just announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rehired ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown-- as a consultant to evaluate the agency's response to the disaster!


CBS says they've confirmed Brown had been rehired. Brown resigned after taking heat when a Time Magazine article revealed that he had padded his resume with bogus jobs.
Must be nice to live in a world where you can fuck up your job so badly, and then just get rehired....

Len on 09.26.05 @ 08:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

Q. How long does it take George Bush to read a book?

A. Nobody knows - it's never been done

Len on 09.26.05 @ 07:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Very, very sad news, indeed....

Don Adams, dead at age 82

Requiescat In Pace, Maxwell Smart

Len on 09.26.05 @ 05:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Type "D" Personality...

Newsweek is reporting on the dangers of being worried, irritable and socially inhibited.

The article has a simple test may help predict the negative health effects based on this research:

“Years ago, when the psychologist Johan Denollet was first working with cardiac patients at a university hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, he noticed a paradox. Some heart-attack survivors remained cheerful and optimistic despite extensive cardiac damage. They joined eagerly in rehabilitation programs and adhered to them. Others grew discouraged. They resisted rehab, even after milder heart attacks, and spent most of their energy complaining. Denollet, now a professor of medical psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, suspected there was something fundamentally different about these two groups of patients. So he set out to find a way of measuring it. The tool he developed—a simple, 14-question personality test known as the DS14—is now opening a new frontier in cardiology.

Years ago, when the psychologist Johan Denollet was first working with cardiac patients at a university hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, he noticed a paradox. Some heart-attack survivors remained cheerful and optimistic despite extensive cardiac damage. They joined eagerly in rehabilitation programs and adhered to them. Others grew discouraged. They resisted rehab, even after milder heart attacks, and spent most of their energy complaining. Denollet, now a professor of medical psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, suspected there was something fundamentally different about these two groups of patients. So he set out to find a way of measuring it. The tool he developed—a simple, 14-question personality test known as the DS14—is now opening a new frontier in cardiology.

Type A's—the weekend-working perfectionist strivers—were deemed likely candidates for heart disease. Relaxed, noncompetitive Type B's were supposed to be models of health. And Type C's—outwardly pleasant people who avoid conflict by suppressing their feelings—were said to be cancer-prone. The ABC model fell apart in the 1980s, when large studies found no reliable connection between the Type A personality and heart disease

The DS14 is looking more and more like a parlor game worth playing. But don't panic if you score at the high end of the scale. Type D personality itself is not a mental illness. It is a collection of normal human traits. And as Denollet is quick to point out, "there are many Type D individuals who are living healthy lives and functioning quite well." A good marriage can be an antidote to social inhibition, especially if your partner's ease with people compensates for your own discomfort. And even the most distress-prone person can learn through psychotherapy to cope with stress and beat back anxious thoughts. Many Type D people have trouble seeking help—by definition, they're ill at ease and afraid to open up—but physicians and family members can help them over those hurdles. And the test itself can help Type D people own up to their fears and frustrations, since it doesn't require any embarrassing social interaction.

Even if you never fully conquer your distress, you can take practical steps to make it less toxic to your health. Exercise and a wholesome diet will reduce almost anyone's risk of a heart attack. And lifestyle changes that protect your heart can improve your emotional state as well. In a 2001 study, Denollet found that comprehensive cardiac-rehab programs boosted people's moods as well as their survival rates, making their lives both richer and longer. "Warding off emotional distress," he concluded, "may be one mechanism to explain the beneficial effect of rehabilitation on prognosis."

It's still too early to know if the Type D will have more staying power than the A, B or C. Researchers have to test the concept across many cultures. And no one has shown conclusively that easing your distress—whether through meditation, talk therapy or antidepressants—can help prevent heart attacks. For now, feeling better will have to be an end in itself. So take the test, and don't fear the result. You can use it to your advantage.”

Take this 7-question test by clicking on this link to find out: Are You a Type D?

Double Dare Ya. LOL


Karen on 09.26.05 @ 04:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto...."

How could I resist posting Bill Maher’s New Rules, after seeing his show this weekend...

“Time for New Rules, everybody.

New Rule: The next major destructive storm must be called Hurricane George. You've earned it, buddy! Congratulations. You are officially a Category 5 president.

New Rule: If your razor has five blades, it's not a razor, it's a weed-whacker. With the new Gillette Fusion razor, the first blade lifts the stubble; the second severs the hair follicle; the third slices your skin; the fourth scrapes bone marrow; and the fifth was used by O.J. Simpson to kill his wife, and he wants it back.

New Rule: No more nudity on billboards. You know, I'm all for sex in advertising, but not where horny men drive. I don't want to launch into a big lecture about safety, but the other day, the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes to gawk, and the woman who was blowing me almost hit her head on the steering wheel!

New Rule: If you give a nine-year-old a hunting rifle, expect to have a hole in your head next to the one you already have. That's right. Fathers are signing up their kids to win free hunting trips. Great time to find out she's pissed about not getting that doll. I'm sorry, but the first time your daughter should see a shotgun is at her wedding when she's 14.

And finally, New Rule: Just because we have an obligation to rebuild New Orleans doesn't mean we have to put it back in the same place. For $200 billion, we could put the French Quarter on the moon. Why don't we put it someplace it can stay out of harm and do some good? After all, New Orleans is the Big Easy, and a lot of America is uptight. Which is why I say we put New Orleans in Kansas.

What do you say, Kansas? Put down your hoes and come meet some. Welcome New Orleans to the land that fun forgot. An infusion of color and gayness in the dry Kansas plain. Why, it'll be as if they shot "The Wizard of Oz" on location. You're going to love it! New Orleans is one of the great towns. It's my kind of town, an outpost of free living and sophistication in a sea of - well, now, sea.

You can't tell me that the giant swath of red America that Kansas sits in the middle of wouldn't benefit from thousands of insane Creoles who understand that hangovers only happen to people foolish enough to stop drinking. I read this week that the strippers have gone back to work in New Orleans. They don't even have clothes, and already they're taking them off. Kansas could use some of that spirit.

It could use some jazz, some blues...some blacks. The people of New Orleans are the most tolerant of all Americans. I mean, for Christ's sake, they put up with Anne Rice! And as an extra bonus, they're French, and that'll really piss off Bush. When the French land right in the middle of Bob Dole's Viagra farm.

So, don't think of it as a million-and-a-half black people moving in next door. Think of it as the "March of the Penguins." Only, you know, with a million-and-a-half black people.

Yes, I see a shining city on a plain. New Orleans, Kansas. Where people are learning. They're learning that a gay pride parade isn't something to fear; it's something to laugh at. So what do you say, Kansas? They need a home. You need to get the stick out of your ass. It's a win-win! Come on, Kansas, show some curiosity, show some compassion.

But most of all, show us your tits!!”

--Bill Maher (HBO).

Karen on 09.26.05 @ 02:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What next? Bake sales?

Bush has apparently been passing the hat to help pay for his Mess In Mesopotamia:

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600 (£337), The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

The public's reluctance to contribute much more than the cost of two iPods to the administration's attempt to offer citizens 'a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq' has been seized on by critics as evidence of growing ambivalence over that country.


It is understood to be the first time that a US government has made an appeal to taxpayers for foreign aid money. Contributors have no way of knowing who will receive their donations or even where they may go, after officials said details had be kept secret for security reasons.
Millions for Katrina aid, but hundreds for Iraq?

Makes sense to me.

But is it just me, or does anyone else remember when Bush and his handlers were telling us that the war would pay for itself, with all those "liberated" Iraq oil revenues?

Len on 09.26.05 @ 12:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"Congratulations" to the San Diego Padres, for making baseball history....

According to Billy-Ball email newsletter, the Padres are are the first team to lead an MLB division with a losing record in September.

Sandy Alderson, San Diego's CEO and minority owner, points out, "To me, it will be one more of those esoteric statistics, one more of those historic footnotes that make baseball so great, because it is unpredictable. This is something that happens once every 30 years," Alderson said. "It's an unusual situation. Would it be better if we were one of the other four teams in the division at the end of the year? I don't think so. I'd rather be a footnote to history than not in history at all."
In a later entry, Mr. Ball continues:
How good are the 2005 Cardinals? When St. Louis snapped its three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory yesterday in Milwaukee, they ended their longest losing streak of the season. In the Cardinals' 114-year history (1892-2005), they have never played an entire season without a losing streak of at least four games.
I just hope he didn't jinx the Cards by mentioning that. If they lose four in a row this week (five more left to go; two against Houston Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a weekend series against Cincinnati, so that's not likely), I'll come after him.


Len on 09.26.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What's in a Word (Choice) ??

George and Mrs. Malaprop:

"It is difficult to listen to George Bush speak and not think of Mrs. Malaprop, a very memorable character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals, who had the habit of substituting contextually inappropriate words that often bear a certain (usually phonetic) similarity to an appropriate one. Another word that springs immediately to consciousness when thinking of characters in novels and George Bush is "falstaffian," which originated from the name, Sir John Falstaff, who was a character in Henry IV, Parts I and II, and The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare. This character is famous for saying, "Discretion is the better part of valor" (because it saves ones life).

President Bush definitely took heed of Falstaff's advice when he joined the National Guard during the Vietnam War. Let's focus, however, on possible accounts of President Bush's propensity to use contextually inappropriate words. I can think of four. Bush is a Nitwit; Bush is an Ignoramus; Bush is a Sociopath; and Bush may have some sort of speech disorder, perhaps a mild case of anomia.

George Bush has come up with some fairly amazing malapropisms, some of which are presented at the web site, Fun-With-Words, which provides examples from others as well.

(1) "I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well."

(2) "Natural gas is hemispheric... because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods."

(3) "The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production."

(4) "Oftentimes, we live in a processed world, you know, people focus on the process and not results."
The question arises as to why George Bush makes so many such mistakes. One hypothesis is that he is a nitwit who is controlled by right wing zealots who do their best to protect him from himself by keeping him as far away from microphones as possible.

One might argue that this is hard to square with his Yale bachelor's degree and his MBA from Harvard. These are prestigious schools. The fact is, however, that a school like Yale has historically been a lot harder to get into than to get out of. But, if Yale is hard to get into, how did George Bush get in? It is clear that he got into Yale as a legacy admittee. According to the New Yorker magazine (I am quoting from a secondary source) Bush's verbal and math SAT scores were 180 points below the median for Yale, which suggests he may not have gotten in on his merits. But, of course, Ivy League schools are notorious for accepting legacy applicants because this encourages rich alums to give money to grease the admission wheels. Bush admitted he was a legacy entrant when he once replied to a question, saying, "I thought you were referring to my legacy," Bush said. "In my case, I had to knock on a lot of doors to follow the old man."

Once in, Bush had it made for Ivy league schools are also notoriously easy to get out of. In the 90's, the graduation rate at Yale was in the mid-90's. Maybe they have gotten lax, but I doubt it. So, it is reasonable to assume that President Bush not only eased into Yale, but he eased out as well. He was certainly not a very good student, saying himself in a Yale commencement ceremony, "To the C students I say, you, too, can be president of the United States."

It is alleged that George Bush was also a legacy admittee to the Harvard Business School as well, my source being the the article referred to that itself makes reference to the New Yorker. Certainly, someone who was not just a C student at Yale but also was in the 21st percentile of his class and who had never worked in business would not normally be admitted to the Harvard Business School. I have no data on how hard it is to graduate from the HBS.

So, the Nitwit Thesis has some legs as an account of Bush's propensity to misspeak. However, getting bad grades and getting into major private universities (dare I mention the National Guard as well?) because of who is father is, is not proof that President Bush is stupid -- that Karl Rove, as is believed by some, is Bush's Brain. Many perfectly intelligent people have skated through academia with bad grades but performed excellently in the post-graduate world.

There is a closely related thesis that might explain Bush's malapropisms and this is that he is simply ignorant -- this his education at Yale and Harvard fell on deaf ears. There is a good reason Ms. Condaleza Rice joined him as he tried to prepare to be President: he knew little or nothing about the world. And one characteristic of an ignorant person is that he or she will butcher the language in the process of trying to express himself or herself on matters of some complexity. I am myself reduced to false starts, monosyllables, and speaking with my hands when trying to communicate with carpenters, for instance. In my book on The Language of Politics (now going for the alarming price of $230 -- don't buy it at that price!!!) I discussed some problems President Reagan had with the language when speaking extemporaneously. In his case, I suspected he routinely did not understand the policies of his administration. Since I don't actually know what Bush did or didn't know at any given time, I won't pursue this Bush is an Ignoramus hypothesis attractive though it may be to some.

There is one particularly scary theory of the origin of Bush's malapropisms, and this is that Bush is a sociopath who is verbally facile when speaking of violence and punishment but falls apart when he comes to domestic policies. This Sociopath Thesis is due to Mark Crispin Miller in his book, The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder. One can find a discussion of Miller's thesis in a Toronto Star story by Murray Whyte. This is an amazing thesis but Miller is not alone in holding it. Now, I can believe that most Right Wing zealots are sociopaths to a degree. How else can one explain their utter lack of empathy with those who exist in poverty and suffer from the psychologically damaging and economically limiting effects of racial and ethnic and other forms of prejudice? But the claim that Bush is a sociopath wants some proving. Since Miller's thesis is predicated on a contrast in fluency when talking about violence and when talking about such things as domestic policy, all it would take to knock down the argument is some examples of Bush waxing malapropistically when discussing war, violence, punishment, and the like. In fact, example (3) above would seem to be a case. But the principle underlying Miller's thesis is totally nutty, namely that if a person P is reduced to malaprops and other forms of gibberish when discussing topics of Type T1 but is fluent when discussing topics of Type T2, then there will be a psychological disorder that accounts for the fluency in discussing topics of Type T2.

I have long observed a person who was employed by a radio station in a city I once lived in whose verbal skills were even worse than Bush's. When he talked about sports, especially his favorite sports, he was typically reasonably fluent. But when the show drifted to topics within the sociology of sports verbal errors came flying out of his mouth at an alarming rate. Over time, he improved. He now has a national gig where his focus is exclusively on football and he does reasonably well. There are momentary problems but he is a competent and popular analyst. Now, is this person stupid? I am inclined to think that he isn't because he has a sophisticated understanding of the complexities of American football -- and believe me when I say that that knowledge is not easily acquired. He has a college degree as well but, as we all know, that means nothing but that the person is persistent. Suppose, then, that we move on to a hypothesis along the lines of Miller's Sociopath Thesis for Bush for this sports analyst. The problem is that there is no psychological disorder that can be associated with great verbal facility when talking football, but a lot of verbal blundering when talking about such things as the sociology of sports.

This presents a bit of a problem with Miller's thesis since what is good for the goose (a psychological account of Bush's differential verbal skills) is good for the gander (a psychological account of our sport's personality's differential verbal skills).

There is another possibility that would cover both Bush and the sports analyst and this is that they suffer from some sort of verbal disorder that leads them to be exhibit a certain amount of anomia especially in contexts in which their knowledge is limited to some degree or the person is under stress (i. e., speaking to thousands or even millions of people). I have absolutely no evidence for this but it is the hypothesis that scares me the least. I would much rather believe that Bush has mild anomia than that he is stupid, ignorant, or a sociopath.

I am not an expert on this but if any can direct me to an expert's discussion of this possibility I would appreciate it."

The Language Guy.

Karen on 09.26.05 @ 11:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This week Mad Kane finds her muse....

in Judge John Roberts, with a couple poems about why it was (is) important actively to oppose Roberts's nomination, and about Roberts's failure to recuse himself from the Hamdan decision (interviewing with the bAdministration for an important judicial post while a decision to which the bAdministration was a party was pending before him, a fairly clear violation of judicial ethics).

Audio available, of course.

Len on 09.26.05 @ 10:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I’m Swiss…

Is the title of the latest Bill Maher one-man show he is performing live at various venues.

We had the opportunity to have some great seats (3rd center) to see him this past Saturday, September 24th, at the Hemmen’s Center in Elgin, Il.

Here’s the program background information on Bill:

billmaher1a (151k image)

billmaher2a (137k image)

It was a Hilariously Funnie show and had some of his new material about the current political stuff over the bAdmin and the Hurricane Disaster.

A couple memorable jokes were his “White-lingo translations” of Black Rap songs. A Howl.

Then was a new airline company he’d like to see created called “Fly At Your Own Risk Airlines.” Where one could have your toenail clippers, your pocket knives, your guns, razor blades and box cutters. You get passed right on through the metal detectors, NO hassles. On the back of your ticket, the FAYOR airline “Waiver Policy” for liability consists of two words – SHIT HAPPENS. Bill reckons we’d be just about as safe under this set of rules than the ones currently in place…and get to our destinations faster and more efficiently. *teehee*

All in all, it was an entertaining evening for political humor. Thanks Bill Maher – Keep ‘em Coming!!!

Karen on 09.26.05 @ 09:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This says something significant....

Of course, crowd estimation is a bit of an "art" (read: wild-assed guessing), but a disparity of numbers of this magnitude isn't easy to fudge:

100,000 anti-war protesters.

"Hundreds" of pro-war "counter demonstrators" (the story notes, "far fewer than organizers had expected." Well, if the organizers and their ilk would get their minds back in the real world, instead of the fantasy world they occupy where they seem to think we're "winning" in Iraq, maybe they'd have come up with a more accurate estimate).

Thanks to Bryan for the pointers.

Len on 09.26.05 @ 09:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Birthday Legend...

“One of the nation's folk legends was a real person John Chapman, far better known as Johnny Appleseed thought to have been born on -September 26th -in 1774 in Massachusetts.

For almost 50 years, he roamed the wilderness, devotedly planting apple trees and even whole orchards in a five- state region from Pennsylvania to Indiana. He slept outdoors, walked barefoot and carried no weapons. His clothes were made from sacks, and his hat was a tin pot, which he used for cooking.

For his gentleness and courage, he was respected by both American Indians and settlers. Some of his trees are still bearing fruit. For well over two centuries, Americans have loved apples.

We each eat 16 pounds of apples a year an amount topped only by bananas.

US News Wire.

Yummy apples.


Karen on 09.26.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Banned Book Week...

“The world of ideas has always been a contentious one but from its beginning, the U.S. has been a leader in protecting freedom of expression and access to the widest possible range of ideas.

This concept is being reinforced by both Banned Books Week and Library Card Sign- up Month.

Very few books are actually banned, but many are the subject of moves to restrict public access to them. Among the most challenged authors recently are Toni Morrison, Robert Cormier and Maurice Sendak.

There are more than 32-thousand libraries across the nation, about half of them open to the public. Most of the remainder specialize, such as law and medicine or belong to colleges and universities.

US News Wire.

Maurice Sendak??? Oh yeah, let’s ban one of my favorite author’s subversive books for children-- like “Where the Wild Things Are”, or maybe his poems like “Chicken Soup With Rice.”



Karen on 09.26.05 @ 08:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why schools may want to curb grade inflation....

Well, it worked for Yale, didn't it? :-) From Ironic Times:

Princeton Cuts Number of A's Given to Students Down to 41%
Hopes lower grades will produce a future president.

And from their sports "pages":

Barry Bonds Poised to Pass Babe Ruth
Only record Ruth still holds is Total Hot Dogs Consumed, 60 (for a nine-inning game).

Len on 09.26.05 @ 07:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

One of the first things that strikes you about baseball, especially compared to other sports, is the sheer volume of it. Last year alone there were 2,464 games, 188,519 plate appearances, and well over half a million pitches thrown. Most of these situations were probably pretty boring, very much like one another. The thrill, however, is when the unexpected slips through the cracks.
--Brian Gunn

Len on 09.26.05 @ 07:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lethal Consequences of Washington's Power Structure...

“For the politically curious seeking entertainment, I'd like to propose two new trivia games: "Find the Brownie" and "Two Degrees of Jack Abramoff."

The objective in Find the Brownie is to find an obscure but important government job held by someone whose only apparent qualifications for that job are political loyalty and personal connections. …

…Two Degrees of Jack Abramoff is inspired by the remarkable centrality of Mr. Abramoff, who was indicted last month on charges of fraud, in Washington's power structure.

The goal isn't to find important political players who were chummy with Mr. Abramoff - that's too easy. Instead, you have to find people linked by employment. One degree of Jack Abramoff is someone who actually worked for the lobbyist. Two degrees is a powerful Washington figure who hired someone who formerly worked for Mr. Abramoff, or who had one of his own former employees go to work for Mr. Abramoff.
O.K., enough joking. The point of my games - which are actually research programs for enterprising journalists - is that all the scandals now surfacing are linked. Something is rotten in the state of the U.S. government. And the lesson of Hurricane Katrina is that a culture of cronyism and corruption can have lethal consequences.

-- Paul Krugman

And these *consequences* are no longer mere "conjecture" as the price of Bad Governance, but paid dearly by the Citizens of NOLA in their Blood and their Lives from their children, sisters, husbands, cousins, aunts, and loved ones. The Criminal Imcompetence of this bAdmin can not and should not be IGNORED.

To read the full piece, click on the "more" button.

Karen on 09.26.05 @ 06:26 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

About Those Expectations...

"Throughout his campaigns in 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush talked about "the soft bigotry of low expectations": the mind-set that tolerates poor school performance and dead-end careers for minority students on the presumption that they are incapable of doing better. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said recently that this phrase attracted her to Mr. Bush more than anything else.

It was, indeed, a brilliant encapsulation of so much of what is wrong with American education. But while Mr. Bush has been worrying about low expectations in schools, he's been ratcheting the bar downward himself on almost everything else.

The president's recent schedule of nonstop disaster-scene photo-ops is reminiscent of the principal of a failing school who believes he's doing a great job because he makes it a point to drop in on every class play and teacher retirement party. And if there ever was an exhibit of the misguided conviction that for some people very little is good enough, it's the current administration spin that the proposed Iraqi constitution is fine because the founding fathers didn't give women equal rights either.

Since his failure to notice the Katrina disaster, Mr. Bush has stopped bragging that he doesn't read or watch the news. If he's paying attention now, he should get a message from the outrage over Katrina and shrinking support for his policies in Iraq: The American public has much higher expectations than he does for the president and his government."

NY Times Op-Ed: Hard Bigotry of No Expectations

Karen on 09.26.05 @ 05:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As if the alligators in the streets of N'awlins weren't bad enough....

We may be seeing more fatalities resulting from animals being set loose by Hurricane Katrina:

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels. Their coastal compound was breached during the storm, sweeping them out to sea. But those who have studied the controversial use of dolphins in the US defence programme claim it is vital they are caught quickly.
Well, I suppose it could be worse. They could be "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads".

Len on 09.25.05 @ 01:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

My strongest impression, however, happened before the game. Great American Ball Park is a nice, though now overly common, place to see a ball game. I think from the upper decks you can get a good view of the river and John Roebling's practice run for the Brooklyn Bridge. But as I walked to the stadium, I was struck by the ugly vacant lot immediately next to GABP. In fact it was so bad that I have an idea for a new website called uglyvacantlots.com. The lot is concrete infested with two-foot high weeds and the usual trash of paper cups, empty two liter bottles and plastic bags. There were some big puddles left over from Tuesday's rain and some huge concrete barriers just lying around for no reason.

Of course what makes the lot especially sad is that piece of land was once occupied by Riverfront Stadium, home to the Big Red Machine. For various reasons I hated that stadium, but it had the kind of history that's difficult to replace. Couldn't they at least treat it better than that?
--Rob@The Birdwatch [www.thebirdwatch.com]

Len on 09.25.05 @ 09:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Did Bill Frist's Blind Trust regain its eyesight?

Or, more likely, was it never really blind to begin with? From the AP: Frist Knew About Blind Trust Investments

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.

The updates included stock transactions involving HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by Frist's family.


Frist sold his HCA stock from several blind trusts this summer, at a time when insiders in the company also were selling off shares worth $112 million from January through June. Frist aides say he sold his stock to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Frist, asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded: "Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock"

Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."
Yeah, riiiiiiggggggghhhhhhhhtttttttt.....

Len on 09.24.05 @ 01:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

From a commenter at Democratic Veteran:

Donald Rumsfeld is giving President Bush his daily briefing, and concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident"

"Oh No", the President exclaims. "That's terrible".

His staff sit there, stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President slumps, head in hands. Finally the President looks up and asks...

"How many is a brazillion?"

Len on 09.24.05 @ 01:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Is "endangering America" an impeachable offense?

Probably not, alas.

As our problems with Islamic jihadism and terrorism get worse, Larry Johnson reminds us who bears a large part (not all, granted) of the blame:

George Bush got it partially right yesterday (Thursday, September 22) when he said that mistakes made by three of his predecessors, including the Reagan administration, had emboldened terrorists and helped set the stage for the Sept. 11 attacks. Unfortunately he ignored the role his own actions have played in making terrorism worse and pushing the Middle East to the brink of a new war. Instead, the President blindly insisted that he is taking America on the right path in Iraq to confront the threat of terrorism. On that point he is wrong; dead wrong.

Why is he wrong? The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is doing the exact opposite of what Bush says U.S. policy was supposed to achieve:

• Instead of reducing terrorism, Islamic terrorism is spreading dramatically.

• Instead of winning new supporters for democracy, the war in Iraq is spurring the recruitment and training radical jihadists.

• Instead of creating a “City on the Hill” that other nations in the Middle East will emulate, Iraq is fissuring and setting the stage for a regional ethnic and religious civil war.


Before George Bush tries to pick the splinter out of the eyes of his father, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan, he may want to spend some time removing the huge beam lodged in his iris.

Len on 09.24.05 @ 12:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

They are all @#%$@&%

The Autoegocrat has a well done diatribe about just WHY these kinds of people (what ever their political stripe) aren’t just bad -- But EVIL.

“…But for the representative of a city with the highest bankruptcy rate in the nation to vote "yea" on that bill is downright criminal.

In addition to having the number one personal bankrupcy rate, Memphis is also home to the single most shameful statistic in the nation. There is only one statistic that could be worse than the murder rate, and in this regard Memphis leads the nation in shame.

Memphis has the highest infant mortality rate in America.

Let me repeat that.

More babies die in Memphis than anywhere else in the country.

Do you think that the two statistics are unrelated? Think again.

The CDC finds that "for infants born to women living in poverty in the United States in 1988, overall excess mortality risk was approximately 60% compared with infants born to women living above the poverty level."

Kinda dovetails into this video piece: “You’re an Asshole”.

[Hat tip to skippy the bush kangaroo.]

These are the "value of life" folks who extole the fetal virtues of zygotes to the HILT and yet ALLOW the poverty and deaths of thousands -- I'm not sorry to say; They are EVIL -- down to the their very Black, Hypocritical Heart of Hearts. EVIL through and through.

Karen on 09.24.05 @ 11:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Deficits Don't Matter" Binge Soon to be OVER

“...As most economists will tell you, one way or another, a "real" (that is, supply-side) shock like Katrina is going to lower living standards, and that consequence cannot be easily or safely suppressed with fiscal or monetary policy. The Fed appears to understand this. But the Bush administration apparently intends to cover the costs of Katrina by borrowing more, rather than by raising taxes or cutting other spending to a correspondingly large degree. In other words, it continues to believe that deficit spending is a free lunch that imposes no costs on the economy -- and that the government, maintaining other programs and keeping taxes low throughout, can simply spend its way out of trouble.

This sounds too good to be true, and it is. Yes, deficit spending is often a good way to stabilize a turbulent economy, or to spread the cost of large investments over time -- but those valuable services do not come free. And remember that Katrina has further tightened an already restricted supply of energy; in those circumstances, the stabilizing role of fiscal policy is severely compromised anyway.

…This has been going on for years, officials point out. Why should it ever stop?

It is a fair question. Actually, it will stop, it must stop: Present fiscal trends are literally incapable of continuing indefinitely. The question is whether the pattern will break gently and over an extended period, or violently and suddenly. Will it be a Category 1 economic adjustment, or a Category 5? Confronting a risk of this sort, as with hurricanes, it makes sense to follow the old advice to hope for the best and plan for the worst
But why, you might ask, must there be any such adjustment? Why can't the trends just roll on perpetually? Mainly because of the implications for the country's external finances. This week, the Institute for International Economics published a detailed new study by William R. Cline, The United States as a Debtor Nation. It is the most thorough and up-to-date look at the issue. Cline's analysis is alarming enough, even though Katrina came too late to be taken fully into account. It is to be hoped that somebody with influence in Washington is paying attention.”

Clive Crook (National Journal).

Karen on 09.24.05 @ 09:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I'm just happy there's never been a collision between [Mark] Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz. The fallout would look like alphabet soup.
--Will Carroll ["Under the Knife", Baseball Prospectus]

Len on 09.24.05 @ 08:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Stormy Weather...

This is a GEM of a quote from Maureen Dowd (NY Times) today:

" On Wednesday, Stormy tried to make one of his strained linkages, this time with Katrina and terror. The terrorists, he said, were "the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it," while he is the kind of person who looks at Katrina and tries to energize himself to deal with natural disasters by thinking, What if this had been done by terrorists?

On Thursday, he tried to move past the image he had projected of a lost boy wandering alone in the storm, and stood at the Pentagon flanked by his war council, talking about how he was moving to "develop a secure, safe democracy in Iraq." Unfortunately, the Saudi foreign minister was in town dropping a bomblet by saying that Iraq was going down the tubes, a judgment other Sunni Arab leaders had been conveying privately."

Click on the "more" button to read this piece in full.


Karen on 09.24.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Speaking of those Public Rest Rooms

Ooops: Len Brock forgot to mention that the MAIN Point of the bathroom study is that Men are dirtier than women.


"So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands.

Wednesday's results mark the American Society of Microbiology's latest look at how many people take what is considered the single easiest step to staying healthy: spending 20 seconds rubbing with soap under the faucet.

It also explains why these infection experts tend to use paper towels to open bathroom doors. There is no telling what germs the person before you left on the knob..."

But today the NY Times reports A Long Wait for Public Toilets to be built for Public use in NY.

Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.24.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Braves fans are disgusting slobs

Last month, the research company Harris interactive monitored public restrooms across the nation, surreptitiously taking counts of how many people washed their hands after using the restroom. I found this entirely unsurprising:

Other findings from the study:

Brock on 09.23.05 @ 07:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

My sentiments, exactly....

Josh Schulz perfectly expresses some thoughts I've had in less perfect form: Those Stupid Little Magnets. The inspiration for Josh's post comes from Fred Clark at Slactivist, who has a modest proposal for encouraging at least some of us to show some real support for "The War President"'s mess in Mesopotamia:

The War Bonds poster above comes from the fascinating, and inspiring, collection of WWII posters at Northwestern University. Go over and browse through this collection. It's a portrait of a different time and a different world. Every American was, at some level -- and usually a level involving sacrifice -- engaged in the war effort. People on the homefront invested whatever they could spare in war bonds. They lived with rationing and recycled everything.

That's not the case now. If you're not enlisted in America's military, you're not involved in the war in Iraq. You have neither the obligation, nor the
opportunity to contribute to or sacrifice for the war effort. And your president insists that this is the way it should be.

The American public does not today have the character to support a new war bonds effort. (We don't have the savings, either, since most of us are in debt up to our eyeballs. Our national savings rate is
negative -- and likely headed down once the housing bubble bursts. But bracket that for now.)

So here's a modest proposal for a remedial first step: Have the USO start selling "official" versions of those @#&$ "Support the Troops" magnets. Full-sized ones would cost, say, $500. Smaller ones would cost $100. Whenever you spotted someone with one of the unofficial magnets, you'd be justified -- even obliged -- to mock them as a freeloading, fair-weather patriot until finally they were shamed into putting their money where their tailpipe is.

The USO's budget, of course, has little to do with the actual cost of the war. But at least this would ensure that "the troops" would benefit from the intangible, ineffectual "support" which now seems so widespread, smug and shallow. And by reconnecting patriotism with the idea of making a contribution it might help to reshape our national character so that we might, once again, be capable of something like a war bonds effort.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 07:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Do We Deserve the Answers?

Dan Froomkin (WaPo):

“White House Briefing reader J. Harley McIlrath of Grinnell, Iowa, e-mailed me yesterday some insightful questions about just one sentence of Bush's speech.

In fact, his questions about that one sentence alone were more penetrating and important than any of the coverage I read of Bush's whole speech this morning.

The sentence from Bush: "The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission."

McIlrath wrote:

"1. Who are 'the terrorists?' He's talking about Iraq. Are 'the insurgents' also 'the terrorists?' Has Bush ever defined just who 'the terrorists' are?

"2. What would constitute a 'win' for the terrorists? What do they want? Do we know? Has Bush ever asked himself what 'the terrorists' want and whether or not it's reasonable? Tactics aside, what do they want? Don't tell me 'they hate freedom.'

"3. What constitutes 'losing our nerve?' Is it losing one's nerve to pull resources back from an ineffectual approach and apply them to an approach that is more promising? How many times in WWII did we pull resources off one front to reinforce another?

"4. What is 'the mission.' Can we abandon a 'mission' that has never been defined? To quote George Harrison: If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.

"Imagine if the press corps took this one short sentence and forced Bush to define his terms."

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 04:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Impeach "the Messenger"

And for those "Remorse Buyers" to do their part by voting OUT this GOP majority in the next election. Then can there be a Full Investigation into this bAdministration and that long deferred "Accountability Moment" Paid in Full via an Impeachment of this entire grossly incompetent crew.

It's our very lives and safety as a Nation which is ON THE LINE.

What to do about the Bush problem by Robert Parry [Hat tip to The Smirking Chimp]:

“The stark question now before the country is: Should it sit still for the next three-plus years of George W. Bush’s presidency or demand accountability, including possibly the removal of him and his political team from office?

Though it’s true that impeachment of both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney would be an extreme step, this constitutional option must be judged against the alternative of a continued national leadership that is facing worsening crises while known for a trademark refusal to admit mistakes or to make meaningful adjustments to its policies.

Over and over, Bush has made clear that he has no intention to reverse himself on any of his core decisions, which include the Iraq War, tax cuts weighted toward the upper incomes, tolerance of record budget deficits and rejection of the chief international agreement on global warming, the Kyoto Treaty. (Bush even questions the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming.)

So, the hard choice is whether the country would be better off starting this political battle now with an eye toward a change in control of Congress in 2006 or simply waiting for the next presidential election in 2008.

Future historians will face the task of explaining how and why the world's supreme nation of the late 20th Century - at the height of its power and affluence - put itself into this fix. Why were the reins of national power turned over to a man who possessed so few qualifications for the job? [For my perspective on how it happened, see Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

But the more immediate question for Americans now is what to do next. Should the nation drift for three-plus years while Bush and his allies continue their strategy of consolidating political power (in large part by installing likeminded individuals in the federal judiciary)? Or should the country begin, as best it can, demanding accountability?

For the second option to be viable, however, a number of changes would be necessary.

1. Bush's critics must finally take seriously the need to build a media infrastructure that can explain to a broad cross-section of the American people why they should strip the Republicans of control of Congress in 2006. While progressive talk radio and liberal Internet bloggers have advanced this process, more resources would be needed if the nation's current media imbalance, heavily tilted to the Right, is to be corrected.

2. The Democrats must lay out a national vision for Election 2006 that is based on the principle of public accountability, not just a potpourri of issues aimed at finessing their way to incremental gains. The Democrats would need to make clear that they want a decisive congressional majority so they can investigate the Bush administration - and act on whatever wrongdoing is discovered.

3. The part of the American electorate that is outraged by Bush's actions over the past five years must get engaged in the political process and show both consistency and toughness. If the nation's future is indeed at stake, then the intensity of the political participation must match the importance of the goals.

Even with these steps, the task of holding the Bush administration accountable would be daunting. The conventional wisdom may well be right, that the idea of impeaching Bush and Cheney is simply unrealistic.

After all, the Right possesses a huge media infrastructure built over the past three decades and now rivaling the mainstream (or corporate) media in political influence. Despite some recent cracks, the Republicans have long demonstrated a lock-step discipline, especially when the party's institutional power is threatened. Much of Bush's base also remains intensely loyal, with some viewing him as a messenger from God.”

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 01:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Living at Dennis Hastert Corner...

How could I resist this GEM of a funnie by Corey Anderson:

"Speaker of the House takes to carrying kittens around in an effort to boost Republican poll numbers.

hastertkitties (22k image)

"In the face of sagging poll numbers, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has begun traveling everywhere with a box of newborn kittens. Hastert hopes their little cries and crazy antics will distract reporters from confronting him on issues regarding the deficit, Tom Delay, no-bid Halliburton contracts, Valerie Plame, Iraq, the Social Security overhaul, and the slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

This is the speaker's second box of kittens.

He lent the first box to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and they were never heard from again."

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 01:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If you thought the WotW Rain of Red Gore was Awful...

Check out this literal "Raining of Red Ink":

Max B. Sawicky, over at Max Speaks; You listen!, has posted this piece on EPI: Red ink rising.

"A new Congressional Budget Office analysis offers a clearer picture of the federal budget challenges ahead. Under its plausible assumptions, current Bush administration policies will likely produce high and persistent deficits, a scenario that is quite different from both the baseline projections reported by the Congressional Budget Office and the administration's own budget projections. The baseline figures are prepared according to procedures set by law.

The problem is that in recent years legislation has been deliberately written to defeat the purpose of the projections by stipulating decreases in spending and increases in taxes that are unlikely to occur. Bush budget projections fall prey to the same problem. In addition, the Bush numbers do not include certain of the administration's commitments, such as the costs of switching part of Social Security to private accounts. Hence these budget estimates understate the cost of implementing the president's policy goals. The new estimate, prepared by the CBO at the request of ranking minority member of the House Budget Committee John M. Spratt Jr. (D-NC), shows a far clearer picture that includes the costs omitted from the other two projections.

Spratt requested estimates under the following assumptions:

a) the Bush tax cuts are made permanent (as the administration has committed to do);
b) the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is not allowed to continue to increase automatically because its standard deduction is not indexed to inflation (no politician has proposed a way to fix the AMT);
c) the president's plan for privatizing Social Security is enacted;
d) the president's spending proposals are enacted and extended through FY2015; and
e) spending in Iraq and Afghanistan decreases gradually.

The Spratt numbers do not include any spending related to Hurricane Katrina, so for that reason, they understate likely deficits to some extent.
Under the more realistic Spratt scenario, the ratio of debt to GDP rises to 46.5% by 2015, from the current level of 37.7%. If foreign investors and governments balk at continuing to lend as much in the future as at present, the economy will face major challenges for which Bush policies leave the nation completely unprepared.

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 01:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bill Nye and Other Meteorologists...

I haven’t said much about the issue of the warmth of the Gulf Waters and the Temperature eddies of heat as responsible for the increased wind velocity and dangers that build a hurricane from a Category 1,2 or 3 into a 4 or a 5. And WHY those waters are warmer than historical norms...

But last night was an interesting graphic depiction of this effect on CNN Larry King Live show about Hurricane Rita Threatens Texas/Louisiana Coast.

I can’t get the graphic image, but if I find a video of this show, I will add it to this partial transcript of that information.

Click on the “more” button to read these excerpts from that discussion. [Emphasis is mine to highlight that specific portion of the transcript.]

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 12:20 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation aisle....

Both HCA and Senator Bill Frist's office have confirmed that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York are investigating Frist's recent "lucky" sale of his holdings in HCA (a hospital operating company founded by Frist's father, and in which Frist family members still own a stake and participate in management, for those of you who haven't been following):

In a statement released Friday, the company said federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena for documents HCA believes are related to the sale of its stock by the senator.

Frist's office confirmed the Securities and Exchange Commission is also looking into the sale.

"Not surprisingly, the Securities and Exchange Commission contacted Senator Frist's office after the story appeared in the press about the sale of his Hospital Corporation of America stock," Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said in an e-mail. "The majority leader will provide the SEC any information that it needs with respect to this matter."
Surely, Frist wouldn't be guilty of illegal insider trading, eh? Unfortunately, the basic facts certainly seem a bit suspicious.
HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital company, was founded by Frist's father. His brother was formerly its CEO and chairman and remains on the board of directors.

Frist asked a trustee to sell all his HCA stock in June, near a 52-week stock price peak of $58.40 and at the same time HCA insiders were selling off shares. Reports to the SEC showed insiders sold about 2.3 million shares, worth about $112 million, from January through June, said Mark LoPresti of Thomson Financial.

The sale came about two weeks before the company issued a disappointing earnings forecast that drove its stock price down almost 16% by mid-July. They still have not recovered, closing Thursday at $45.90.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Credit where credit is due, I suppose....

At least Junior finally got around to signing on as cosponsor of H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn the Gulf Coast Wage Cut.

So I'm only back to my original list of reasons not to vote for him. I'll muddle through the decision somehow.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 11:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

"I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" She then added, "George Bush is a fan of mine -- he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him."
--Bette Midler, at the recent "From The Big Apple to The Big Easy" hurricane relief concert

Len on 09.23.05 @ 11:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I agree completely....

From Bryan at Why Now?:

Why We Should Tax The Rich Until They Qualify For Food Stamps

We absolutely can't instill common sense in these people, so we have to confiscate their money for their own good and the good of society.

South of Pensacola there is a barrier island named Perdido Key. The island keeps getting sliced and diced by storms, and not just major hurricanes. Unlike other barrier islands where you lease land and there is an authority to limit what you can do, Perdido Key is owned by private individuals and the most the government can do is strictly enforce building codes and then send in the front loaders to scrape up the debris that started as houses from the public right-of-way.

As CBS reports nothing stops development. Every time someone's house is deposited in a landfill, developers rush in to build another high-rise luxury building.

With penthouses selling for $1 million+, it is obvious that some people have too much money and need to be separated from it for their own good. Escambia County can't make enough in taxes to pay the costs associated with having to provide services to the island. With more and more people living on it, evacuating it is a major problem.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 11:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thank what powers that be that someone....

will stand up to Bill "Loofa Man" O'Reilly on his own show. Kudos to Phil Donahue (a favorite here in Memphis. owing to his relationship to Marlo Thomas and, of course, Memphis's favorite charity, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital (which Marlo's father, Danny Thomas, founded)).

DONAHUE: You are part of a loud group of people who wanna prove they're tough ...

O'REILLY (shifts angrily in his chair, under his breath): Aw fer ...

DONAHUE: ... and send other people's kids to war to make the case.

O'REILLY (very loud): You have no clue ...

DONAHUE: This ..

O'REILLY: ... about how to fight a war on terror or how to defend your country. You are clueless! So is Miss Sheehan and for Miss Sheehan to say that the insurgents have a right to kill Americans and you're shakin' her hand! You oughta just walk away.

DONHUE (quieter): How many more young men and women are you gonna send to have their arms and legs blown off ...

O'REILY: Hey, this is a war on terror!

DONAHUE: ... so that you can be tough (points his finger at O'Reilly) and point at people in a kind of cowardly way..

O'REILLY (disgusted, under his breath): Oh, yeah.

DONHUE: Take people like Jeremy Glick who comes on to - in memory of his parents ...

O'REILLY: Oh bull.

DONAHUE: ... and you go off on him.

O'REILLY: Jeremy Glick accu ...

DONAHUE: ... like a big bully.
And my favorite Donahue jab at Loofa Man:
DONAHUE: Loud doesn't mean right!
I want that one on a bumper sticker.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 11:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About Those NOLA Levee Design Specs...

CNN is reporting breaking news (9:30 am CST) that there is already a levee breach in the 9th ward in NOLA. They say the structure of the levees are still intact but there is rain that is overtopping the walls and about 2 ft of water in the ward.

CNN reports "This is the first test of these levees" which were strengthened since Hurricane Katrina - and they are failing again in the first rainfall to hit the area.

Reminds me about this aricle I hadn’t yet posted from the NY Times: Design Shortcomings Seen in New Orleans Flood Walls.

Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 09:35 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

About that Lap-dance...

Today's GEM is from Gerard Baker (Times of London):

Vote Republican for free lap dancing:

“Suddenly the party known for fiscal prudence is throwing money about with abandon.

“… I can’t think of a more compassionate conservatism than one that pays for a Budweiser and a lap dance with somebody else’s money.

One of the more puzzling myths about the US in the wake of the Katrina disaster is the notion that heartless, penny-pinching Republicans have bled the Government so dry that the very idea of public spending, even on disasters, has become impossible. In fact, the Fema sponsor-a-stripper exercise was entirely of a piece with an outburst of fiscal incontinence proudly presided over by government-hating Republicans in the last decade.

When President Bush promised last week that the US would spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild the Gulf Coast it was the latest step in the remarkable conversion of the Republican Party from the party of fiscal prudence into the progenitors of the next New Deal and Great Society combined. The rhetoric, it is true, has been all about the virtues of small government. But since 2000 the Republican controlled Congress and White House have been on a spending binge that would make any self-respecting banana republic blush.

...I can even think of a slogan to promote them: Mortgaging America to the hilt? $300 billion. US dependency on China? $600 billion. A beer and a lap dance at Baby Dolls? Priceless.”

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 09:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From The Tasteless Capitalism Department:

via our pals at The Smoking Gun:

SEPTEMBER 20--With dead bodies still floating in the streets of New Orleans, a pair of Louisiana lawyers are seeking to cash in on the killer hurricane by slapping the name Katrina on alcoholic beverages. In a new filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Andrew Vicknair and Harold Ehrenberg provided federal officials with a logo--reproduced above--bearing the word Katrina, the phrase "Get Blown Away," and a small satellite image of the deadly storm. The trademark application was filed on September 4, just six days after the hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1000 residents and leaving thousands homeless. The filing by Vicknair, 31, and the 47-year-old Ehrenberg--both of whom are graduates of New Orleans-based Loyola University's law school--does not detail what kind of booze products will bear the Katrina name. But it's a safe bet that these wannabe profiteers are plotting some variation on The Hurricane, the Bourbon Street staple.
Granting that this is an individual investment "opportunity" that isn't strictly speaking related to their legal practice, it's things like this which give the profession a bad name. (Though interestingly enough, one of the lawyers in question (Eherenberg) is also a chiropractor. There's some sort of significance in that, I think, but I'll be damned if I can tease that out right now.)

Len on 09.23.05 @ 09:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Blinding Them with Science....

Challenged by Creationists, Museums Answer Back by Cornelia Dean:

[How to confront] creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.

…[And] on ways to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds.

Similar efforts are under way or planned around the country as science museums and other institutions struggle to contend with challenges to the theory of evolution that they say are growing common and sometimes aggressive.

Click on the "more" button to read further excerpts or the link above for the full story.

Karen on 09.23.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Then again, how much competition is there?

I got a chuckle at the title of this DVD review in Slate: The Best Thai Transvestite Kickboxing Film Ever (The movie itself, however, actually looks interesting; I may have to see if it's available for rental around here.)

Len on 09.23.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Even though "Chief Justice Roberts" is a foregone conclusion....

Dahlia Lithwick nails why the specter of "Chief Justice Roberts" bothers me:

All this talk of Roberts' heart and soul and conscience are the only way to get at the real problem—that John Roberts is more in love with legal processes than justice. This is surely worrisome to the Democrats on the committee. But George Bush long ago proved the fundamental silliness of purporting to be able to look into another man's heart. In a process in which past cases and future cases are not open to discussion; in which hypothetical and concrete fact patterns are not open to discussion; in which the political and the personal are off the table; and in which any intellectual or theoretical framework cannot be offered, we are all just left to viscerally guess at whether the nominee is a good guy. The vote today goes 13 to 5 that he is.

Based on the testimony of everyone who actually knows him, I'll hazard a guess that Roberts really is a good guy. But I'd still rather have him as my baby's godfather than as chief justice. It's just a feeling I have ...
Meanwhile, she notes yet another incident which illustrates why we call them "Rethugnicans":
Lest you think I'm being too easy on Senate Republicans, I hasten to add that Lindsey Graham's (and today, John Cornyn's) disgraceful use of these hearings to attack Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a champion of legalized prostitution, polygamy, and pederasty is beyond vile. Especially as it comes cloaked in calls for the Democrats to abandon partisanship in the confirmation process. Schumer is quite right to point out this morning that conservatives, not liberals, have made attacks on judges the cornerstone of their political project. Now even as they call for bipartisanship, they can't seem to resist attacking a judge with distorted versions of her 30 year old writings. Nice.
I'm a bit disappointed; I'd gotten a more favorable impression of Graham before this.

Len on 09.23.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

This is why I love this game.

There were seven one-run games last Saturday, September 17, including one in which Chacon beat Chacin. In the game, the Yankees became the first team in history to play five different players with at least 300 career home runs.

Plus there was one extra-inning game, in which the Nationals' invincible Chad Cordero gave up a two-out ninth-inning game-tying grand slam to San Diego's Khalil Greene, and the Padres eventually won 8-5. A congressional investigation was quickly conducted.

To top it off, the Phillies scored 10 runs in the ninth inning after being shut out for the first eight to beat the Marlins 10-2.

The night before, Manny Ramirez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the tenth for a "walk-off HBP" against Oakland. And last Wednesday, Gabe Kapler ruptured his Achilles tendon running the bases on Tony Graffinino's home run and had to be removed for a pinch runner in the middle of the play. For the pinch runner, Alejandro Machado, it was his first time on base in a major league game.

Sometimes this column just writes itself. Is there any other game that is even remotely as fascinating?
--Dave Studeman

Len on 09.23.05 @ 06:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

All good scams must come to an end....

and in this case, I can blame the IRS. I should probably contemplate becoming a whiny, tax hating Libertarian because of it.

Let me explain more fully. Over at today's Business of Baseball Report at The Hardball Times, Brian Borawski tells us of this development in major league income taxation:

IRS Crackdown Dampens Ticket Giveaways

In the past, baseball players were given an almost unlimited amount of tickets to give away to friends and family. Now if they give away complimentary tickets provided by the team, they take a tax hit because the Internal Revenue Service determined that these freebies should be considered as compensation to the player and summarily taxed. The end result is that teams have seen a steep decline in the number of tickets that have been requested by players.

In addition, when players do request tickets, more are actually being used. Tickets that were reserved but not picked up were tracked, and this number is down substantially.

The process of ticket requests has also been streamlined. In the past, the traveling secretary would hand out a sign-up sheet to determine the number of tickets the team would need to deliver to the ticket office. Now every clubhouse has a network in which players request tickets on their laptops, allowing teams to track every transaction in order to keep the IRS satisfied that they’re complying with the rules.
I mourn, because this means the end of what was, perhaps, the greatest scam I've ever personally witnessed. It's something of a long story, so if you're interested, you'll have to look below the fold....

Len on 09.22.05 @ 09:07 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Blunderbuss baseblogging....

Real Life™ has been taking precedence, and I've not been able to spend as much time paying attention to baseball (at least in this space) as I've wanted (but then again, the Cards have won the NL Central Title, so nothing important will be going on while we coast into the postseason, right?). To remedy that (a bit), I'm going to just hit some recent highlights:

Len on 09.22.05 @ 08:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Stupid Budget Tricks....

From Josh Marshall:

I was looking over the list of budget cuts proposed by House Republicans to save the president's tax cuts. And the big thing that sticks out is just how much comes out of Medicare. But a bit down further into the document which they put out there's a $1.8 billion annual cut in funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That's great thinking, seeing as though we don't need to worry about Avian Flu from South Asia or other contagious diseases any more.
Hmmmmm. The same logic that governed the decisions to cut funding for the NOLA levees: basically, the House GOP caucus is betting that they'll be safely out of office before there's a flu pandemic.

I'd feel better if I didn't see for myself what an unlucky gambler Bush has been. But then again, maybe they're just counting on lightning not striking twice.

Len on 09.22.05 @ 07:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Those Under-Water and...

...Under-Utilized School Buses in NOLA:

Think progress has posted The Truth About the Buses:

"On the day of the storm, or perhaps the day after, FEMA turned down the state’s suggestion to use school buses because they are not air conditioned, Blanco said Friday in an interview. [Baton Rouge Advocate, 9/18/05]"

And the smarter than the FEMA's cotterie of "Brownie's You're Doing a Heck 'of a Job" Incompetents - Are using a different Strategy in TX:
"Government officials eager to show they had learned their lessons from the sluggish response to Katrina sent in hundreds of buses to evacuate the poor. An Army general in Texas was told to be ready to assume control of a military task force in Rita’s wake. [AP, 9/22/05]

But there is a problem...the traffic is so backed up, by 14 hours or more, people are in danger of running out of gas and have no where, stuck in the lines of evacuating vehicles, to use "facilities" for either a restroom break or to refill their emptying tanks.

Some evacuation. :-(

Karen on 09.22.05 @ 03:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Oh, How The Sun-Do-Shine...

Well, since this is F**ked up Engrish Week – I couldn’t resist my own entry.

I recently allowed the daughters to “colorize” their rooms, and Don, the painter, stopped by wearing this GEM of a Cute T-Shirt.

Don (82k image)


So, We took a closer Look …

raysunshine2 (85k image)


Karen on 09.22.05 @ 03:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Gem...

The conservative blades are whizzing at a pace faster than Edward Scissorhands™ can manicure (pun intended) the Shrubbery.

“George W. Bush is a big spender.

He has never vetoed a spending bill.

When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr. Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce?

The great Bush spending spree is about an arguably shrewd but ultimately unhelpful reading of history, domestic politics, Iraq and, I believe, vanity.”

-- Peggy Noonan

Karen on 09.22.05 @ 02:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Blog Heading o'the Day:

Frist Blind Trust Miraculously Regains Eyesight

From Newsrack, today.

Len on 09.22.05 @ 02:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another view of "Collapse"...

I realize that while I posted a finale piece on the book Collapse, by Jared Diamond, I neglected to write out *exactly* what is Top-Down and Bottom-Up management and when, according to the point of Collapse, these societal strategies are successful.

Bottom-up governance is basically performed by citizen actions or groups and/or perhaps a small organization, like a Home-Owner’s association, that has collective duties and performs functions for the benefit of the local community. It is only successful under certain conditions.

Those conditions are, per Jared Diamond, if the Bottom-up homeland is small and all of it’s inhabitants are familiar with its topography, and therefore know how they affected by developments throughout the entire area, and share a sense of identity and common interests with other inhabitants. Thus they know how they will benefit from sound environmental measures that they and their neighbors adopt…this makes for successful bottom up management. (Even some large islands are TOO large for this kind of management to be successful.)

The Top-down governance consists of hierarchical structures of governing - from city, county, state, and national. It is both necessary and works for large societies with centralized political organizations and areas much too large for any individuals to be familiar with the whole archipelago… or even for a single large island. It has to work through governance by someone who attends to long term interests and taking into an account an overview of the entire country beyond the capacity of the individual citizens. These factors includes not only environmental factors and exploitation of the land and resources; but also the economy to fit the environment and whether it is sustainable.

Top down and bottom up can co-exist … as in the US. But it’s defined at neighborhood and citizen groups as Bottom-up and Top-down being the city, county, state, and national. So a true “bottom up” would even not include these kinds of structures or hierarchies in the Top-down system. Our entire National governance, via the Constitution is a Top-down system, and must have competent Top-down governance to function.

It’s all good and well for some to argue this “limited government” - Destroy the Feds, leave it to the States - philosophy, but a very dangerous and bad idea to destroy the serious Top-down responsibilities. Even in our own Constitutional origins, the framing of the system was set up for a Top-down hierarchy by the founders. But my point being that it’s not only ideologically impossible to revert to a mere bottom up system as the predominate governance, or even a State-by-State predominant system to make their own decisions about any number of a majority of National concerns and issues which affect the entire Nation as a whole… but suicidal to to do so. This is not the 11 century with no knowledge of the interconnectedness of the planet and ecosystems.

Even taking the US as an individual country, a philosophy of destroying the Federal system via incompetency and cronyism run by people who maintain they are anti-government is destined to be the ruination of the nation as a whole. To elect feckless, utter incompetent, doltish ideologues who’s main Claim to Fame is NOT To BELIEVE in Government to over see and control the Top-down governance of something as important and crucial as the Federal Governmental System is asking for societal suicide.

Bad choice and bad for the country since we are currently running on an unsustainable system which requires the Top-down overall management to deal effectively and proactively with this situation. Bottom-up governance is not and can’t ever cut it to address these problems.

And it's a mistake to assume that societies, any society, is strong enough or healthy enough or secure enough to recover from endless bad decisions, piled one on top of the next after the next, ad infinitum.

Here is a piece that also ask the question posed by Jared Diamond: Time, tumult and the science of survival; Is American civilization smart enough to recover? By Gary M. Feinman and Christopher T. Fisher.

Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.22.05 @ 02:17 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Traitor Bob Turns *Tattletale* Again...

Regardless of whether its been about 300 years since Good Ole Traitor Bob was actually in Kindergarten, he must want a Geriatric Senility Pass on those “everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten” Golden Rules about Tattletales.

First, Nobody LIKES tattletales…not the kids tattled on, nor the friends watching this knowing they could be next, and not even the teachers, who can’t abide the snotty-nosed punks who feel compelled to rat on every minor infraction of their chums - as if their future Job Aspiration is that of Chief Enforcer for the Thought Police.

Second, reprehensible as this trait is in young children…it’s really Disgusting in ADULTS.

Third, given the vindictive, vengeful nature of the Child-In-Chief, Dick-Yourself and Blooming Shit-Head and their bastard cronies running this government, and their No-Holds Barred – Rip Their Faces Off - Take No Prisoners – Get Even - strategy for any dissent, in or out of the ranks…Who WOULD want to tell them anything they didn’t want to hear???

But Good Ole Traitor Bob has now done his Pandering Duty and Tattled on his Friends (?) In High Places.

Wonder what this Seven Pieces of Silver will Buy Him NOW?

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 09.22.05 @ 09:53 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Trudeau nails it yet again....

Len on 09.22.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The United States has lost its manufacturing edge to China. But we still have a massive competitive advantage in sales and marketing, no matter what the cost differential between the two countries. The United States, after all, is where modern advertising, marketing, and brands were invented. And that is precisely why smart Chinese companies are interested in buying U.S. companies. Lenovo didn't want IBM's personal-computer business for its manufacturing processes. The Chinese computer market wanted the unit for its American management, its strength in finance, marketing, and sales.

Today, companies from wealthier countries outsource production to China to compete effectively in a global market. But we may increasingly find that Chinese companies have to outsource sales, public relations, and advertising back to us.
--Daniel Gross

Len on 09.22.05 @ 06:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In re Firefox: facts or FUD?

I subscribe to a number of techie mailing lists. One of the headlines in this afternoon's list (linked to one of ZDNet's blogs) immediately caught my eye: Is the Firefox honeymoon over?

Now that Firefox has become the first viable contender to Microsoft Internet Explorer in years, its popularity has brought with it some unwanted attention. Last week's premature disclosure of a zero-day Firefox exploit came a few weeks after a zero-day exploit for Internet Explorer appeared on the Internet. Firefox not only has more vulnerabilities per month than Internet Explorer, but it is now surpassing Internet Explorer for the number of exploits available for public download in recent months.
This paragraph is followed by a number of graphs purporting to show how Firefox is being attacked more and more every month.

My first reaction when I see one of those pieces is to ask myself how much Micro$oft paid that particular shill to write that. Once I got past that, I started mentally to compose my defense of Firefox (more as an exercise), when I began reading some of the comments to that post, and I realized that (of course), someone else had said it better than I could, and pointed me to some data I didn't know (or, if I knew it, didn't know where to back it up).

Before one runs screaming in horror to Internet Exploder as one's default web browser, let's examine two webpages from Secunia, the software security firm.

First, Vulnerability Report--Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x:
Vendor: Microsoft
Product Link: View here
Product Affected By: 85 Secunia Advisories

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x with all vendor patches installed and all vendor workarounds applied, is currently affected by one or more Secunia advisories rated Highly critical

This is based on the most severe Secunia advisory, which is marked as "Unpatched" in the Secunia database. Go to Unpatched/Patched list below for details.

Currently, 19 out of 85 Secunia advisories, is marked as "Unpatched" in the Secunia database.
Now, let's look at Vulnerability Report--Mozilla Firefox 1.x
Vendor: Mozilla Organization
Product Link: View here
Product Affected By: 23 Secunia Advisories

Mozilla Firefox 1.x with all vendor patches installed and all vendor workarounds applied, is currently affected by one or more Secunia advisories rated Less critical

This is based on the most severe Secunia advisory, which is marked as "Unpatched" in the Secunia database. Go to Unpatched/Patched list below for details.

Currently, 3 out of 23 Secunia advisories, is marked as "Unpatched" in the Secunia database.
So... Let me see here.

Internet Explorer: 85 known vulnerabilities. 19 of them are still unpatched. And the worst of those unpatched vulnerabilities is considered "highly critical" by Secunia.

Firefox: 23 known vulnerabilities. 3 of them are still unpatched. And the worst of those unpatched vulnerabilities is considered "less critical" by Secunia.

Well, I don't know about you, but I know which of those two browsers I think is more secure. HINT: it's most certainly not the one you'd associate with Bill Gates.

Below the fold, a few pertinent comments from a ZDNet commenter:

Len on 09.21.05 @ 09:45 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

The best part, though, was that I had an unobstructed view of the student entrance. The Vandy frat dudes have apparently embraced the following uniform: shirt and tie, suit coat, tennis shoes, and shorts. I shit you not. A suit with shorts. All the girls were wearing tropical, strapless dresses. Accordingly, the frat dudes and sorority chicks all looked uniformly alike. It was like March of Penguins, but instead of a baby hidden in a pouch, there was a little flask of Jim Beam a back pocket.
--Mr. Roboto, on attending a Vanderbilt University football game

Len on 09.21.05 @ 08:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet More Reasons To Not Vote For Junior....

autoegocrat has the scoop. Though I'm taking the liberty of stealing the line of one of his sources:

From his actions, he's showing he's not qualified to remain in Congress; much less ascend to higher office. And you can quote me on this one.
Amen to that!

Len on 09.21.05 @ 08:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Kudos to The Pesky Fly....

on his redesign of The Flypaper Theory. Though I suppose the kudos should go to Rachel; Pesky says that the redesign was a "surprise gift" from her.

At the top o'the page (at least, when I just visited now) is a reference to an interesting (and scary, if true) story, via one of Pesky's regular commentors, that the noted bastion of journalism The National Enquirer is reporting that President Bush is hitting the bottle again. Of course, the mindless Bush bashers will immediately be screaming, "Consider the source!!!", which in the case of this source is a pretty compelling argument. However, Pesky does point us to Steve Gilliard on that subject:

Let me say this before people start in: the National Enquirer has beaten more libel suits than most major newspapers. Their stuff is vetted by libel lawyers before it hits the stands. In fact, their accuracy is no worse than their MSM peers. Up until the 1970's, they ran alien stories, but then switched to celebrity coverage.

Why do I trust the NE? They pay their sources. So someone close to the WH got a big fat check for this, over $10K. And if they deny this or lie, the NE has a file on them. When dealing with gossip, this is quite effective. Now they may wind up paying the wrong people, but this is what they were told. Come on, if you ran the NE, would you risk a libel suit with your reputation?
Frankly, disregarding the Enquirer entirely, I would not be at all surprised if Bush has fallen off the wagon.

To the best of my knowledge, Bush never was in a 12 step program, or any other program to treat drug or alcohol dependency (he just accepted Jebus as his savior one day, then never needed a drink again, or so he liked to tell the story, IIRC). As someone who has had a couple close family members who wrestled with the demons of drug and alcohol dependency, the fact that Bush has never been through a recovery program scares the living shit out of me. It's bad enough for someone to break dependency on booze or drugs when s/he's working a program, it's a very rare individual that can do so without the support of some kind of program. (Granted, I'm an atheist and therefore I don't think Jebus was god, if he ever existed at all, so giving one's heart to Jebus is most certainly not working a program, and is probably pretty damn worthless, recovery-wise; I'm not allowed to believe in miracles).

Len on 09.21.05 @ 08:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What the Child-in-Chief Really READS...

From the Ironic Times: Top Magazines to Read In the Oval Office Waiting Room:

1. Incompetence Today
2. Callous Disregard Monthly
3. Unscientific American
4. Modern Interrogation
5. Greed, Stupidity & Discrimination Review
6. Conquest Magazine
7. Religious Intolerance Digest
8. Mountaintop Removal Quarterly
9. Avarice Weekly
10. Contemporary Conspicuous Consumption

Karen on 09.21.05 @ 02:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

National Centenarians Day

“As people's ages creep up toward 65, many tend to become a little vague about their exact age. After about 85, though, they become proud of their longevity.

Not too many years ago, someone who had lived to be 100 was a true rarity, honored by a contact from the White House and a feature in the local paper. Now, generations of good nutrition and medical care are paying off, and the picture has changed.

On this National Centenarians Day, it is estimated there are some 58-thousand women and 12-thousand men across the country who have reached the age of 100, and projections show these numbers increasing by about 60 percent in another five years, and more than doubling in 10 years.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Anecdotally, this does remind me of my Grandma, who almost made it to 100 yrs old. But as a younger woman, she had - of course - lied about her age to seem younger.

But as she approached retirement, she realized, with horror, that if she didn't start advancing her *lies* to catch to her true age...she'd have to work all those extra years to "qualify" for her retirement.

Under this duress, she was forced to "confess" to her supervisor and *correct* the dates on her employment records. Oh, the age of the Pre-feminism movement. ;-)

Karen on 09.21.05 @ 12:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Cost-Benefits of it All...

I recently heard on ABC News that the Port of New Orleans - alone - was an industry worth $99 Billion dollars to the Nation annually, and through which 25% of our imports and 17% of our exports passed.

And this butt-covering guy for the ACE, Lt. Col Strock, says the Cost-Benefits behind the AEC and the levees in NOLA was considered!!! Bah!!

If It Keeps on Raining, Levee's Going to Break: The loss of New Orleans wasn't just a tragedy. It was a plan. by Jonathon Rauch (Senior writer -National Journal):

“The evacuation plans were inadequate and then bungled. The rescue was slow, confused, often nonexistent. Yet the most striking fact of the New Orleans catastrophe has received less notice than it deserves: The plan for New Orleans in case of a hit from a very powerful hurricane was to lose the city.

In other words, if a severe hurricane struck, the city's flooding and abandonment was not what would happen if the plan failed. It was the plan.

Weighing low-probability, high-cost events is, as it happens, something economists and engineers know a bit about. W. Kip Viscusi, an economist at Harvard Law School and the editor of the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, points out that the Corps of Engineers was among the first to develop and apply what has become a common cost-benefit template.

Strock told reporters that decisions about the levees were based on "whether it's worth the cost to the benefit, and then striking the right level of protection." Unless one uses very optimistic assessments of hurricane odds and economic costs, and also places a low value on human costs, New Orleans did not strike the right level of protection. Even in foresight, Naomi's characterization of New Orleans's vulnerability as "tantamount to negligence" appears justified. A far larger flood-prevention program should have been under way.

"This was not a close call," Viscusi says. "It's a no-brainer that you do this...”

Click on the link to read Rauch piece in full.

Karen on 09.21.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

NASA Trivia Quiz Answers...

Well, Surprise, Surprise -- Jim was *Partly Correct* and *Partly Incorrect* on his answers ("I'll make my answers easy to grade. All false.")


It came from outer space: Chances are, there are things you use every day that originated from NASA: by William Weir (Chicago Tribune newspapers - The Hartford Courant) gave me the quiz idea from his piece:

"From safer sports to easier housework, there seems no end to how the technology of space-bound journeys has translated into earthly benefits.

So much space technology has spun off into everyday conveniences that NASA has its own magazine, Spinoff, devoted to the subject…”

So, click on the "more" button to see the True or False answers.


Karen on 09.21.05 @ 12:24 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

This says something about the economics profession....

though I'm not sure what, right now: Opportunity Cost

I was stunned to read Robert Frank's NYTimes column about a recent study testing economist's knowledge of economics. Paul J. Ferraro and Laura O. Taylor of Georgia State University asked some 200 economists, many with PhDs from top-economics programs, at the 2005 annual meetings of the American Economic Association, a simple question:
You won a free ticket to see an Eric Clapton concert (which has no resale value). Bob Dylan is performing on the same night and is your next-best alternative activity. Tickets to see Dylan cost $40. On any given day, you would be willing to pay up to $50 to see Dylan. Assume there are no other costs of seeing either performer. Based on this information, what is the opportunity cost of seeing Eric Clapton? (a) $0, (b) $10, (c) $40, or (d) $50.
I have a hard time believing that this is possible but 78 percent of the economists gave the wrong answer! This is not a hard question. There is no trick. Opportunity cost is central to economics, the people asked were among the best economists in the world, a large majority of them have taught intro econ and yet the correct answer was the least popular.

This is a professional embarrassment.
In case you're curious, answer is below the fold (or at the linked post).

Len on 09.21.05 @ 12:19 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Sad News: Another victim of Hurricane Katrina

Oktoberfest Seizes Chance to Replace Mardi Gras

MUNICH, GERMANIA: The southern German city of Munich seized upon its chance to replace New Orleans as the foremost destination for drunken debauchery by opening its 172nd Oktoberfest beer festival on Friday, a full two-weeks before October starts.

The festival will run 32 days this year instead of the regular 16, extended to capitalize on the natural disaster that befell the festival’s chief rival only 3 weeks ago. The town Burge-meisters have also made several last-minute improvements in hopes of claiming top prize for ‘Best Debauchery Festival’ at the International Drunken Debauchery Commission's (IDDC) annual awards ceremony next year. These improvements included ratifying the legal exchange rate of Bratwursts for Titty-Flashes.

Munich’s lederhosen-clad mayor Christian Ude initiated this quest for debauchery dominance by madly tapping the first massive keg with a wooden hammer and crying out, “O’ zapft is, zwine-hounts!” or, “It’s on now, bitches!”

For more of this BS...

Len on 09.21.05 @ 12:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another Reason Not To Vote For Junior....

Like I really need one?

Anyway, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo points out that Junior is not one of the 171 co-sponsors (all Democrats, of course) of H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn President Bush's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.


Len on 09.21.05 @ 12:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Not surprisingly, the post-Katrina autopsy is focusing fresh attention on the Cheney administration's bold "disinventing government" initiative -- although in this case I probably should call it the Rove administration's initiative, since it's been more Karl's pet project than the veep's.

If Cheney had his way, there wouldn't be any government left to disinvent -- just a service desk for the pipeline companies to call when they need to get the power back on. And Halliburton could easily handle that.

Rove, on the other hand, recognizes that government agencies has their uses, especially now that "to the victor go the spoils," has been firmly reestablished as the operative principle of the federal personnel management system. Let dweebs like Al Gore worry about making government work, the Rovians understand that the important thing is to make it work for them.

Len on 09.21.05 @ 12:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Gem...

The Pesky Fly has this GEM: Funny,funny wingnuts

“I just got an e-mail from a reader gloating because, "as the liberal Daily Kos points out," (love it when the righties cite lefty blogs) LA's Governor Blanco has taken a huge hit in the polls. My e-mailer thinks this justifies all the post-Katrina malarkey that Blanco somehow fell down on the job.

Okay nutters, use you wee little brains for a second. Northeastern, and northwestern Louisianians aren't just conservative--they're DAVID DUKE conservative. Let's not forget that this is the state that nearly put an unapologetic racist into the governor's mansion. A giant chunk of Blanco's voting block is homeless, phoneless, and scattered across America. So the fact that Blanco is suddenly polling poorly only means one thing: New Orleans is gone, and so are her people.

I mean really--- who did they poll?”

But funnie thing bout Wing-nuts - They LIKE defying

budget deficits,
accountability moments,
the laws of gravity and science,
common decency,
environmental realism,
touted Christian values,

and obviously -POLLs.


Update: Here's a good one from Lance Mannion on: How to be morally superior to a Liberal. Give it a read through. It is a GEM too.

Karen on 09.20.05 @ 06:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Pigs on the Wing...

Another good pictoral piece on NOLA I found at Driftglass.

"Reader pjcblogger (aka Fletch) put this together, and it’s mighty good.

A slideshow/movie entitled “Bush on the Wing” – with music by Pink Floyd, pictures by current events, and creativity and talent by Fletch."

This is a media file with song from Pink Floyd, "Pigs on the Wing".

Give it a Look.

Good Job Guys, and very Touching too. :-)

Karen on 09.20.05 @ 04:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

About those Wormy, Diseased Apple Guys, Again...

Engrish is running a “Vulgar Four Letter Words” Week:

But has a suitable warning screen:


If you are easily upset by vulgar four letter words,
then I suggest you do not visit Engrish.com this week.

Parental discretion is advised.
(Don't worry, there is no porn.)

This Engrish GEM speaks volumes to me as a perfect statement ABOUT them Rotten to the Core, Wormy, Diseased Apple Guys I ranted and raved about a while back.


Karen on 09.20.05 @ 04:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the New BlogToys Department:

Baseball Library has just come up with a most interesting (and potentially excellent tool) for basebloggers: the BaseballLibrary.com text linker.

Basically, the concept is simple. You enter your text into the box, and then this application searches the Baseball Library website for the ballplayers, teams and dates that you reference, and then generates HTML code for hyperlinks to the Baseball Library pages about those players, teams and dates.. For example, if I enter (and this makes no sense, whatsoever, I know) this into the box:

"Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, and Bob Uecker of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals on July 9, 1957"

the linker application comes up with this:

"Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, and Bob Uecker of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals on July 9, 1957".

Your output is "configurable"; you can tell the application to link any or all of dates, player names and teams (for teams you have to specify a year as well as a team name; merely "St. Louis", "Cardinals, and even "St. Louis Cardinals" weren't recognized by the application), and you can also specify if you want your links to open in a new window (I elected to use that for the example above).

Tres cool.

Len on 09.20.05 @ 11:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hope for the Democratic Party?

I'm not optimistic. But Billmon is a genius (with Photoshop, and in his writing), I'll give him credit for that:

Thanks to autoegocrat for the pointer.

Len on 09.20.05 @ 11:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Truly The End of an Era

Chicago Tribune News Alerts has sent me the following news update:

Chicago Marshall Field’s to be renamed “Macy’s”:

All Marshall Field's stores will convert to the Macy's nameplate in fall 2006. This includes 62 locations in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota that will continue to be operated by the Minneapolis-based division that will become known as Macy's North.


Karen on 09.20.05 @ 10:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A NASA Trivia Quiz

This quiz is partially lifted from an article I read a few weeks ago... but I forgot to post about it.

In light of this piece; NASA's revitalized plans for manned moon missions could revive LI's space industry:

“…NASA formally unveiled plans for America's next era in space.
While NASA had talked of its plans for the crew exploration vehicle in the past, the space agency for the first time yesterday disclosed some details of what the vehicle would look like and what kind of missions it will perform. NASA said it will spend $104 billion in the next 13 years on human and robotic space exploration, including construction of the exploration vehicle.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin said the vehicle would be three times as big as the Apollo capsule that took astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and '70s and the new craft could be used as many as 10 times.

"Think of it as Apollo on steroids," Griffin said in a broadcast on NASA Television….

NASA said the exploration vehicle will be able to take as many as four astronauts to the moon and as many as six people on Mars missions. It also will be able to deliver food and other supplies to the International Space Station.

Space agency officials promised that the exploration vehicle would be safer and more reliable than the space shuttle. Two shuttle orbiters exploded - one in 1986 and the other in 2003. The seven astronauts aboard each orbiter were killed…”

I thought I'd put this out there as a NASA Trivia Quiz.

So, Take a look at this list and answer these as True or False:

Nasa is responsible for the following technological inventions:

1) Air Filtration Systems.

2) Tang.

3) Velcro.

4) Skiing Boots.

5) Black and Decker Cordless tools.

6) Gravity Pens.

7) Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.

8) Helmet pads for football, baseball and bicycling.

9) Invisible braces for teeth.

10) Converting Urine into Water.

11) Zen perfume.

12) Graphite guitars.

13) PC and Computer Joy sticks.

14) SIMs games.

15) Teflon.

16) Smoke Detectors.

17) Fogless Ski Goggles.

18) Silver laced bedding, blankets and clothing.

19) Foam Insulation for Housing.

20) Radiant Heated Flooring.

Post your answers in the comment section and see how you do on this quiz.


Karen on 09.20.05 @ 10:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

An Ill Wind: FEMA set up a Web page for survivors of Hurricane Katrina to apply for federal assistance, but the site works only with IE6 for Windows. Apparently one catastrophe deserves another. Meanwhile, The Register reports that Googlers searching the word "failure" land first at a biography of President George W. Bush. No. 2 on the Google charts is liberal filmmaker Michael Moore's site, proving even a bot-driven search engine doesn't play political favorites.
--Robert X. Cringely® (i.e., not The Real Bob™)

Nice to know that the miserable failure Googlebomb is still working.

Len on 09.20.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

'The Laugh Judgment'

The always enjoyable (even for an atheist) Ship of Fools, "the magazine of Christian unrest", recently polled its membership to determine what they consider the 10 funniest and the 10 most offensive religious jokes. I don't have time to look over the lists (especially the most offensive ones, which I'm looking forward to reading with delicious anticipation), but I'm pleased to see that the ones the Ship of Fools readers voted as funniest and second funniest are two of my favorite religious jokes of all time.

The funniest is a schick I've seen attributed to Emo Philips (though I think that the version I know best is a bit longer than this; it's an easy one to drag out for a bit):

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"


"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"


"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.
The second funniest is another favorite of mine which, resonates with Catholics and ex-Catholics (note, I've changed a couple words to make it match the version I've learned, which is a marginally funnier punchline, IMHO):
Jesus came upon a small crowd who had surrounded a young woman they believed to be an adulteress. They were preparing to stone her to death.

To calm the situation, Jesus said: "Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone."

Suddenly, an old lady at the back of the crowd picked up a huge rock and lobbed it at the young woman, scoring a direct hit on her head. The unfortunate young lady collapsed dead on the spot.

Jesus looked over towards the old lady and said: "You know, Mom, sometimes you really piss me off."
Go check out the rest of the winners.

Len on 09.20.05 @ 08:13 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Axis of Evil's Failing Messages...

Another regions where our own “Axis of Evil” (Child-in-Chief, Dick-Yourself and Blooming Shit-Head) Disnesque Photo-Op messages of “Spreading Freedom” are also falling on deaf ears and eyes:

Meehan's message on extremism by Scot Lehigh (Boston Globe):

“Representative Martin Meehan recently returned from a 10-day fact-finding trip to the Middle East -- and the message he brings back is sobering.

Meehan, who met with political and government leaders from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, and Israel as well as US officials there, says his take-away impression is that the United States needs to do much more to stop the spread of radical Islam.

''We are not rising to meet the long-term challenges we face in the region," Meehan says. ''We need an approach that uses every tool we have. The military is part of it, but it also has to be political, diplomatic, economic, and educational."

This is hardly the first venture into foreign policy for Meehan, the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats, and capabilities.

''We talk a good talk about freedom, but we really aren't doing what's necessary to make it work," he says. ''We have the rhetoric, but not the resources."

The United States, which has so far spent $200 billion in Iraq, each year devotes only $500 million to diplomacy and only $25 million to outreach programs in the Middle East, the congressman says. In his proposal, Meehan underscores the finding of an April report by the Government Accountability Office that the US government ''does not yet have a public diplomacy communications strategy."

''Our enemies seek to exploit ideas that have unfortunately gained in resonance: suspicion of the West, fear of modernity, hatred of the United States, and persistent anti-Semitism," he writes.

''In the war on terror, we can't afford another failure by doing too little in the struggle against violent extremism," he concludes. ''This is a critical moment in history, and it demands a comprehensive strategy to deal with the threat of radical Islam."

Karen on 09.20.05 @ 07:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Groaner o'the Day:

If you mate your bulldog to a shih tzu bitch, are the resulting puppies bullshihtz?

Len on 09.20.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The *Blog Media*

From Peter Daou (Daou Report) : "Rightwing bloggers will do everything in their power to prevent another Katrina triangle, where the confluence of blogs, media, and Democratic leadership exposes the real Bush and shatters the conventional wisdom about his ability to lead."

"...After a year of my life spent at the intersection of pre-blog and post-blog political thinking, and with Bush getting the second term he craved, one question has preoccupied me since last November: What is the scope of netroots power? Put differently: How influential are bloggers?

It’s a difficult question to answer. First, there’s no consensus on metrics. Second, blogs serve many purposes, some of which are more social than political. Third, the use of the Internet in political campaigns cuts across so many areas that it’s easy to confuse netroots influence in the communications and messaging realm with other Internet-based political applications such as organizing and fundraising. Fourth, ‘influence’ is a hazy term.

It might be easier to approach the question by setting a more specific, and admittedly somewhat arbitrary, definition of political influence: the capacity to alter or create conventional wisdom. And a working definition of “conventional wisdom” is a widely held belief on which most people act. Finally, by “people” I mean all Americans, regardless of ideology or political participation.

The Triangle

Looking at the political landscape, one proposition seems unambiguous: blog power on both the right and left is a function of the relationship of the netroots to the media and the political establishment. Forming a triangle of blogs, media, and the political establishment is an essential step in creating the kind of sea change we’ve seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Simply put, without the participation of the media and the political establishment, the netroots alone cannot generate the critical mass necessary to alter or create conventional wisdom.

Bloggers can exert disproportionate pressure on the media and on politicians. Reporters, pundits, and politicians read blogs, and, more importantly, they care what bloggers say about them because they know other reporters, pundits, and politicians are reading the same blogs. It’s a virtuous circle for the netroots and a source of political power. The netroots can also bring the force of sheer numbers to bear on a non-compliant politician, reporter, or media outlet. Nobody wants a flood of complaints from thousands of angry activists. And further, bloggers can raise money, fact-check, and help break stories and/or keep them in circulation long enough for the media and political establishment to pick them up.

Blog Strategies, Left and Right

Working within the triangle construct (netroots + media + party establishment = CW), bloggers and netroots activists on the left and right have very different strategic imperatives.

With a well-developed echo chamber and superior top-down discipline, the right has a much easier time forming the triangle. Fox News, talk radio, Drudge, a well-trained and highly visible punditocracy, and a lily-livered press corps takes care of the media side of the triangle. Iron-clad party loyalty – with rare exceptions – and a willingness of Republican officials to jump on the Limbaugh-Hannity bandwagon du jour takes care of the party establishment side of the triangle. The rightwing netroots, therefore, is already working within the triangle on most issues. Their primary strategic aim is to prevent the left from forming its own triangle, as occurred with Katrina. It’s a defensive posture, with the goal being the preservation of the status quo. Which explains why the right is profoundly hostile to dissent and why the pretense to libertarianism is common: “independent thinkers” don’t like to be seen as defending the powers that be.

The triangle construct also explains rightwing bloggers’ relentless attacks on the “MSM” and on anyone who contends that the media is conservative. In a nation dominated by shrill rightwing voices, with all branches of government in the hands of Republicans, and an ineffectual press corps, the “liberal media” myth is so absurd that it requires no rebuttal. But the right desperately needs to keep the media from doing what they did in the aftermath of Katrina: tell the unvarnished truth. They need to block the left from building the kind of triangle that Katrina generated, where outspoken left-leaning bloggers are joined by leading Democrats and reporters who have no choice but to describe the catastrophic results of Bush’s dismal leadership. The result in Katrina’s case is a major political crisis and a dramatic shift in public perceptions, a body blow to the long-standing conventional wisdom of Bush as a "resolute leader" and a protector.

Whereas rightwing bloggers can rely on their leadership and the rightwing noise machine to build the triangle, left-leaning bloggers face the challenge of a mass media consumed by the shop-worn narrative of Bush the popular, plain-spoken leader, and a Democratic Party incapacitated (for the most part) by the focus-grouped fear of turning off "swing voters" by attacking Bush. For the progressive netroots, the past half-decade has been a Sisyphean loop of scandal after scandal melting away as the media and party establishment remain disengaged.

It would seem reasonable to conclude, then, that the best strategy for the progressive netroots is to go after the media and Democratic Party leaders and spend less time and energy attacking the Bush administration. If the netroots alone can’t change the political landscape without the participation of the media and Democratic establishment, then there’s no point wasting precious online space blasting away at Republicans while the other sides of the triangle stand idly by. Indeed, blog powerhouses like Kos and Josh Marshall have taken an aggressive stance toward Democratic politicians they see as selling out core Democratic Party principles. Kos’s willingness to attack the DLC is mocked on the right, but it is precisely the right’s fear that Kos will “close the triangle” that causes them to protest so loudly. Similarly, when Atrios, Digby, Oliver Willis, and so many other progressive bloggers attack the media, they are leveraging whatever power they have to compel the media to assume a role as the third side of their triangle.

Bloggers & the Bush Legacy

Setting aside 2006 congressional prospects and the remote hope for progressives that Bush will be impeached, the grand political battle of the next three years is over Bush’s legacy.

For rightwing bloggers who have fiercely defended one of the most controversial and polarizing presidents in our history, their fortunes will rise or fall with his approval ratings. The blind allegiance to Bush and the furious assault on his detractors will be vindicated if he leaves office with popular support.

Rightwing bloggers will thus do everything in their power to prevent another Katrina triangle, where the confluence of blogs, media, and Democratic leadership exposes the real Bush and shatters the conventional wisdom about his ability to lead. And they will struggle mightily to boost his poll numbers, whether it means ignoring the reality of the Iraq fiasco or the terrifying implications of the bungled federal response to Katrina.

For progressive bloggers who see a president presiding over the collapse of America's credibility, the urgent work ahead is to cement the post-Katrina impression of Bush as a failed president. Whether or not they succeed depends to a large extent on their ability to compel the media and Democratic establishment to stand with them and speak the truth.

* I also sought the advice of other bloggers, male and female, who chose not to be named in this piece.

Hat Tip to The River City Mud Bugle

Karen on 09.20.05 @ 06:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It has been amusing to watch the radical right/anti-evolution/family-values crowd laud the subjects of March of the Penguins for their commitment to their mates and as evidence of intelligent design. If anything, the film seemed to me to reinforce what we know of natural selection. Darwin would have thrilled to it. These strange, complex, grueling rituals of penguin mating and procreation in the Antarctic have obviously evolved to keep this flock alive in "the harshest place on Earth."

In one (upsetting) scene, the adult penguins do nothing as a group of young'uns is attacked by a predator. One succumbs. Family values? The only way you can account for this chilling indifference is the heartlessness of evolution: You give them one—the one that can't get away—and the hawks leave the rest alone for the time being. Monogamy? The narration makes the point that they are serially monogamous: They change partners after each breeding cycle. Some penguins, we have recently learned, are queer—and this with no exposure to our debased Hollywood-liberal culture.

These people really are deluded, aren't they? They'll twist anything to suit their ends and then count on an audience that doesn't think critically—an audience that I should think is far easier to manipulate than penguins...
--David Edelstein

Len on 09.20.05 @ 05:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Media FIX is IN...

'They shoot news anchors, don't they?': Media moguls, not looters, killed Katrina's truth tellers: by Nikki Finke (LA Weekly):

“At first, only CNN appeared not to have thoroughly read the proverbial memo. It was the only network, on air and on its Web site, to compare and contrast the wildly contradictory statements by federal, state and local officials, sometimes within hours, but often within minutes of each other. It was CNN that posted the first full transcript of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's profanity- and passion-filled September 2 interview on local radio. It was also CNN that first exposed the gruesome nature of the conditions at the Superdome, at the convention center and in the hospital corridors. Its broadcasters were the first to keep a heart-wrenching online blog during Katrina. Even as late as September 6, political correspondent Ed Henry was the first to counter the claims by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay that local officials and not the feds were to blame, by reporting that congressional Republicans, in a secret confab, were giving the Bush administration a big fat F.

Then the fix was in.

On September 8, CNN anchorette Kyra Phillips was chewing into House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for "continuing to criticize the administration, and criticize the director of FEMA... I think it's unfair that FEMA is just singled out. There are so many people responsible for what has happened in the state of Louisiana."

Instead of smiling through clenched teeth, the San Francisco Democrat bit back: "I'm sorry that you think it's unfair. But I don't . . . If you want to make a case for the White House, you should go on their payroll."

By September 12, even the White House admitted that FEMA had been its own disaster area by pushing out its Arabian-horseman-turned-jackass head, Michael Brown. (Bush finally admitted on Tuesday that the buck was going to stop with him whether he liked it or not. "To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," he said.) That same day, CNN's parent company, Time Warner, announced the hiring of DeLay's chief of staff as a top Washington lobbyist. This news, and its timing, prompted Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy to tell the L.A. Weekly: "Time Warner aligning itself with the right-wing DeLay machine should send shudders [down] CNN and HBO. Clearly, TW wants DeLay insurance so it won't have to face cable-ownership safeguards, a la carte rules and broadband non-discrimination policies."

For the first 120 hours after Hurricane Katrina, TV journalists were let off their leashes by their mogul owners, the result of a rare conjoining of flawless timing (summer's biggest vacation week) and foulest tragedy (America's worst natural disaster). All of a sudden, broadcasters narrated disturbing images of the poor, the minority, the aged, the sick and the dead, and discussed complex issues like poverty, race, class, infirmity and ecology that never make it on the air in this swift-boat/anti-gay-marriage/Michael Jackson media-sideshow era. So began a perfect storm of controversy.

Contrary to the scripture so often quoted in these areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, the TV newscasters knew the truth, but the truth did not set them free. Because once the crisis point had passed, most TV journalists went back to business-as-usual, their choke chains yanked by no-longer-inattentive parent-company bosses who, fearful of fallout from fingering Dubya for the FEMA fuckups, decided yet again to sacrifice community need for corporate greed. Too quickly, Katrina's wake was spun into a web of deceit by the Bush administration, then disseminated by the Big Media boys' club. (Karl Rove spent the post-hurricane weekend conjuring up ways to shift blame.)

If big media look like they're propping up W's presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers -- in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors. At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, parent company of CBS, has admitted what everyone already knows is true: that, while he personally may be a Democrat, "It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one."

When it comes to NBC's parent company, GE's No. 1 and No. 2, Jeffrey Immelt and Bob Wright, are avowed Republicans, as are Time Warner's Dick Parsons (CNN) and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch (Fox News Channel). (Forget that Murdoch's No. 2, Peter Chernin, and Redstone's co-No. 2, Les Moonves, are avowed Democrats -- it's meaningless because Murdoch and Redstone are the owners.)

Once upon a time, large corporations and their executives typically avoided any public discussion of their politics because partisan positions alienated customers and employees. But all of that changed after GE bought NBC in 1986. For seemingly eons, Immelt's predecessor, the legendary Jack Welch, was a rabid right-winger who boasted openly about helping turn former liberals Chris Matthews and Tim Russert into neocons. (And Los Angeles Representative Henry Waxman is still waiting for GE to turn over those in-house tapes that would prove once and for all whether Welch, in 2000, ordered his network and cable stations to reverse course and call the election for Bush instead of Gore.)

As for Immelt, he publicly wishes his MSNBC could be a clone of FNC. Not surprising, since he let his network and cable news cheerlead the run-up to the Iraqi war without ever bothering to tell viewers GE had billions in contracts pending. More than half of Iraq's power grid is GE technology. It was also under Immelt that GE installed a former adviser to W and Condi, who also served as press secretary to former first lady Barbara "Let 'em eat cake" Bush, as NBC Universal's executive vice president of communications.

And let's not forget that in October 2004, the Republican-controlled House and Senate and White House okayed a $137 billion corporate-tax bill -- dubbed "No Lobbyist Left Behind" -- that gave a huge $8 billion tax break to GE, which had bankrolled a record $17 million lobbying effort for it. (Meanwhile, in that same bill, House Republicans at the last minute stripped the movie studios of about $1 billion worth of tax credits because of Hollywood's near-constant support of the Democratic Party and its candidates.)

Disney, parent company of ABC, has turned most of its extensive radio network and owned-and-operated stations into a 24/7 orgy of right-wing talk. (Sean Hannity is their poster boy.) Disney's chief lobbyist, Preston Padden, is not only one of Washington, D.C.'s most infamous Republican lobbyists, but he used to work for Rupert Murdoch. Bush even pleaded just days after 9/11 for Americans to "go down to Disney World in Florida." Meanwhile, Disney World has benefited from special security measures, including extra protection and a federally declared "no-flyover zone." And let's not forget that Michael Eisner pulled the distribution plug on Fahrenheit 9/11.

As for Rupert Murdoch, his News Corp. continues to defy a July 2001 FCC order requiring it to divest itself of a TV station in exchange for the agency's approval to buy 10 TV stations from Chris-Craft Industries Inc. for $5.4 billion. What, Rupert worry? This W cheerleader can rest assured that the FCC will amend its prohibition on owning broadcast outlets and newspapers in the same market.

And lest anyone think there's no connection between Murdoch's business and editorial, several news organizations have noticed a detente between the New York Post and Senator Hillary Clinton because Rupert needs congressional Democrats on News Corp.'s side to oppose a change in the Nielsen ratings that could harm its TV stations.

Given all of the above, it comes as no surprise that, as early as that first Saturday, certainly by Sunday, inevitably by Monday, and no later than Tuesday, the post-Katrina images and issues were heavily weighted once again toward the power brokers and the predictable. The angry black guys were gone, and the lying white guys were back, hogging all the TV airtime. So many congressional Republicans were lined up on air to denounce the "blame-Bush game" -- all the while decrying the Louisiana Democrats-in-charge -- that it could have been conga night at the Chevy Chase Country Club.

And the attitudes of some TV personalities did a dramatic 180.

At MSNBC, right-winger Joe Scarborough had looked genuinely disgusted for a few days by the death and destruction that went unrelieved around him in Biloxi, even daring to demand answers from Bush on down. But Scarborough was back to his left-baiting self in short order. Inside FNC's studio, conservative crank Sean Hannity had been rendered somewhat speechless by the tragedy. Soon, he was back in full voice, barking at Shep Smith (who was still staking out that I-10 bridge and sympathizing with its thousands of refugees) to keep "perspective." The Mississippi-bred Smith boomed back in his baritone, "This is perspective!"

FNC's Bill O'Reilly, who spent last month verbally abusing the grieving mother of a dead Iraqi war soldier, then whiled away the early days of Katrina's aftermath giving lip to New Orleans' looters and shooters, eventually blamed the hurricane's poorest victims for creating their situations and for even expecting any government help at all.

On NBC, Meet the Press host Tim Russert cut off Jefferson Parish's Andre Broussard during one of TV's most moving and memorable outpourings of emotion. Instead, to fill up airtime, Russert let Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour praise Bush's response ad nauseam without reading back Barbour's sharp criticism of the feds days earlier.

On MSNBC, Hardball's hard-brained Chris Matthews chided viewers and guests alike not to talk about who's to blame -- unless it was Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco or Mayor Nagin. Interesting how Barbour's state was also dehydrated and starving, but nobody on TV news blamed him, since he just happens to be a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

And Don Imus skewered Dubya's "disgusting performance" at the start of his MSNBC TV show (simulcast on the Viacom/CBS-owned Infinity radio network) and then turned over just 24 hours later, directing blame at Mayor Nagin.

Meanwhile, the TV news situation is about to get worse. Incoming Disney CEO Bob Iger has tried repeatedly to dismantle Nightline for a mindless celeb talk show. And CBS chairman Les Moonves wants to reinvent TV news to be more like entertainment shows -- as if it's not that way already -- hosted by even prettier people.

Of course, no one could have anticipated that, to their immense credit, TV's prettiest-boy anchors (CNN's Anderson Cooper and FNC's Shep Smith and NBC's Brian Williams) would be boldly and tearfully relating horror whenever and wherever they found it, no matter if the fault lay with Mother Nature or President Dubya. But the real test of pathos vs. profit is still before us: whether the TV newscasters will spend the fresh reservoir of trust earned with the public to not only rattle Bush's cage but also battle their own bosses. If not, it won't be long before TV truth telling will be muzzled permanently.”

Courtesy of The Smirking Chimp.

Karen on 09.20.05 @ 05:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

But, in more important matters....

Preeminent Nashville nightlife blogger Mr. Roboto from Thursday Night Fever updates us on the latest developments in the modeling career of University of Tennessee alumna and former Lady Vols basketball star Brittany Jackson. Including plenty o'eye candy (Ms. Jackson recently did a photo spread for FHM). I'm not posting the eye candy here; I would never, ever think of trying to steal readers away from Mr. Roboto.

No word yet on the expected uproar from Knoxville. We'll try to keep on top of the story.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 08:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Don't surprise me none.

Louisiana contractors not allowed to work:

I'm listening to WWL-AM in New Orleans. They have thus far received several calls from local contractors who say that FEMA is not allowing them to help with the recovery effort, that only out-of-state contractors are on the ground. One guy reports that the only way he can get hired as a subcontractor is to give a kickback to the contractor hired by FEMA.

In other words, as predicted, the recovery effort appears to be being conducted to benefit Bush campaign contributors, rather than the people of the area. But then, why should we be surprised? Everything about the Bush Administration has been calculated to enrich Bush cronies at the expense of the American people...

Len on 09.19.05 @ 08:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why Karen rubs my nose in the fact....

that I don't have a subscription to HBO: Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules for 9/16/2005

It's time for this week's New Rules.

New Rule: Michael Brown must un-resign so he can be publicly fired. We are not letting you off that easy, Brownie. You can't just slink off midway through your service. This is FEMA, not the Texas Air National Guard.


And finally, New Rule: For Christ's sake, no more devil movies. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" opened huge last week, and it surprised a lot of people, mostly because Owen Wilson wasn't in it. But exorcism, or as the Catholics call it, "elective surgery," is a popular theme nowadays because it reinforces the comforting notion that evil resides outside of us.

Well, I'm sorry, but it doesn't. And whenever I hear someone blame a bombing in Baghdad or a levee breaking in New Orleans on the forces of evil, it makes me so mad I just want to grab my pitchfork and stick it right through my cloven hoof!

Now, Americans have always loved devil movies: "The Exorcist," "The Omen," "Rosemary's Baby," "The Devil's Advocate." The list goes on forever because Americans love the devil. Why? Because he's simple and he provides a simple answer. He did it.

But evil is not a demon with a tail and horns. That's a Jew. And evil - evil isn't some spectral goblin with red eyes and the voice of Anthony Hopkins. That's Anthony Hopkins.

Is George Bush purely evil? Of course not. And that's what's so evil about him. He doesn't twirl a mustache and smirk and cackle. Well, he doesn't twirl a mustache. He's like the Peanuts character Pigpen. Wherever he goes, he stirs up such a humongous mess it can only be cleaned up by Halliburton. But he is not pure evil.

Because evil is a chain. Did any one person doom New Orleans? No, it's a chain. People vote for a corrupt leader; a corrupt leader puts unqualified cronies in high places, and when those cronies fuck up, evil gets done. The devil didn't fly up from hell and knock a hole in that levee. The levee just didn't get built because the money for it went to rich people's tax cuts and pork projects and corporate welfare.

Evil isn't "Salem's Lot." It's Trent Lott. This week, an ailing American bald eagle was found to be dying from mercury poisoning. Republicans immediately tried to blame it on the eagle's lifestyle choices. But it's worth noting that also this week, the White House threatened to veto limits on mercury pollution. Now, pure evil would be if George Bush sat around the White House saying, "Let's poison eagles!" And even I don't believe George Bush would do that.

Cheney would do that. And even he is not pure evil. Dick Cheney doesn't hate poor children and caribou. They're just in the way.

Bottom line: some people think Satan is real and some people think global warming is real. If you think stopping gays from doing it is more important than the ice caps melting, the boogeyman is you...
Video files (Windows Media and QuickTime formats) at Crooks and Liars.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 08:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

In all our understandable astonishment about the destruction in New Orleans...

let's not forget the destruction in Mississippi:

The important point here is what is meant by destroyed, since the media might mislead you by talking about homes being "destroyed" in New Orleans as well. Most homes (though of course not all) in New Orleans are "destroyed" because, although they are still intact, they have received extensive water damage and are now soaked with all sorts of toxic and dangerous substances and are therefore uninhabitable.

But the houses in Mississippi are "destroyed" because
they don't exist anymore. I had the bizarre experience of driving around my own hometown, where I'd lived and worked for the first 23 years of my life, and getting lost. In some parts of Gulfport there are only massive piles of debris and bare concrete foundations, where neighborhoods and business districts used to be. I have not yet heard of a New Orleans native having a similar experience.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 08:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

An Intelligent Design "parable"....

From the SKEPTIC mailing list, a member from Australia forwards this parable giving us an appropriate analogy to the "logic" used by ID proponents:

A major Israeli paper carried an article attacking ID. It was along the same lines as many such articles, but it included an amusing analogy for the posterior logic employed by promoters of ID (which I’ll translate culturally rather than literally):

Joe has been working at a bank as a teller for 17 years. Two years ago, he purchased a half acre waterfront property in Sydney. The ATO was obviously suspicious, and they sent an investigator to talk to Joe. The investigator’s question was simple: how did you get the money?

Joe had an immediate answer: at midnight on Ash Wednesday, Jesus came to me in a dream and said to me: Joe, my son, rise now and take a shovel; At midnight on Easter Sunday, go to the Sydney Cathedral; Circle it 7 times, then take 13 steps South and 666 steps West. At the spot where you then stand, dig to a depth of 7 feet, and you will find an old crate. Open it, and say three times “in the name of the father, and the son, and of the holy spirit”; and with that, he disappeared. I did as he said, and as I stood there with the open box, it suddenly filled with $2 million in crisp $100 notes.

“And what proof do you have of this tale?” asked the investigator, to which Joe answered: “Is the waterfront property not proof enough?”

Len on 09.19.05 @ 07:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Drivers wanted.

Steve at The Sneeze ("Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions.") may be on his way to becoming a Volkswagen partisan. In particular, a fan of the Passat:

...I keep seeing a commerical for the new VW Passat. In it, two guys are playing football on the street and one of them goes long, dives to catch the ball and lands hard on the hood of a Passat. He then rolls off to the ground, unhurt.

The announcer goes on to talk about Passat's new "Front-End Pedestrian Saftey System" which apparently makes it safer if you hit somebody. This is the best news ever. It seems to me this is a license to mow people down at will.

The Passat people are geniuses.

The next time someone is taking too long to cross the street, I can playfully knock their asses across the road for them. Life just keeps getting better. First boobies, then Tivo, now this. Yay!
As a long time VW partisan, I heartily welcome another one to the fold.


Len on 09.19.05 @ 07:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Mad Kane has another one up...

A limerick, again (Mad's muse seems to be favoring limericks lately): Rebuilder in Chief. As always, getcher audio version here.

In her post, Mad links to a New York Daily News article which indirectly quotes Bush as saying that the Gulf Coast rebuilding will be funded by a combination of deficit spending (no surprise there) and cuts in federal spending (hum? WTF would he start now?). What I find interesting is the seeming breakdown in the GOP's much vaunted "message discipline", since Bush's seeming assertion that federal spending cuts are possible certainly contradicts the recent assertions of his fellow Texan and partner-in-crime Tom DeLay that Federal spending has been cut to the bone:

"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). "But nobody has been able to come up with any yet."
It'll be interesting to see if the Rovian hammer comes down on "The Hammer" for breaking ranks with the Bush Fantasy Brigade.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 07:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting baseball trivia....

From Baseball Library:

66 YEARS AGO TODAY (September 19, 1939):
Ted Williams hits a HR off Thornton Lee, one of 31 HRs he will hit in his rookie season. Williams will homer off Thornton's son, Ron Lee, 21 years later.
I think it's good to keep something like that in the family.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 05:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another *Re-SMUG-lican* OOOPs Moment....

Via another Crooks and Liars post is this GEM from The Raw Story:

Immigration memo intended for Rove arrives on Democrat's fax:

And Lamar Smith [21st Congressional District of Texas and identified as a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims as well as the Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity.] writes, among other things:

“…"Immigration needs to be considered in the context of: (1). Media Bias, (2). Animosity toward the president and (3) the feelings of the Republican base," Smith's memo states.
Smith goes on to suggest that "Liberals can easily and accurately be painted as opposing enforcement." His office did not return a call seeking comment.”

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 05:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Jon Stewart is Such FUN...

Crooks and Liars had this one from the Emmy's with a video of the Jon Stewart presentation clip.

Too Funnie. So give it a viewing.


Karen on 09.19.05 @ 04:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Now, a partial solution to the Gulf Coast redevelopment problem

Bush Sells Louisiana Back to the French

BATON ROUGE, LA. – The White House announced today that President Bush has successfully sold the state of Louisiana back to the French at more than double its original selling price of $11,250,000.

“This is a bold step forward for America,” said Bush. “And America will be stronger and better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime Minister Jack Shiraq, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25 million dollars cash.”

The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild.

“Jack understands full well that this one’s a ‘fixer upper,’” said Bush. “He and the French people are quite prepared to pump out all that water, and make Louisiana a decent place to live again. And they’ve got a lot of work to do. But Jack’s assured me, if it’s not right, they’re going to fix it.”

The move has been met with incredulity from the already beleaguered residents of Louisiana.

“Shuba-pie!” said New Orleans resident Willis Babineaux. “Frafer-perly yom kom drabby sham!”

However, President Bush’s decision has been widely lauded by Republicans.

“This is an unexpected but brilliant move by the President,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. “Instead of spending billions and billions, and billions of dollars rebuilding the state of Louisiana, we’ve just made 25 million dollars in pure profit.”

“This is indeed a smart move,” commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume. “Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we’ve made money on the deal. Plus, when the god-awful French are done fixing it up, we can easily invade and take it back again.”

The money gained from 'The Louisiana Refund' is expected to be immediately pumped back into the rebuilding of Iraq.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 02:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This says MVP to me....

Received this morning from the Billy-Ball mailing list:

[Based on a survey of 450 MLB players]
Which opposing hitter do you most fear with the game on the line?

Barry B*nds, Giants .....35%
Albert Pujols, Cardinals .....64%
Manny Ramirez, Red Sox .....8%
Todd Helton, Rockies .....5%
Vladimir Guerrero, Angels .....5%
Gary Sheffield, Yankees .....5%
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners .....4%
Derek Jeter, Yankees .....2%
David Ortiz, Red Sox .....2%
Carlos Beltran, Mets .....1%
Magglio Ordonez, Tigers .....1%
[emphasis supplied, of course --LRC]
I note, for the record, the absence of the names of Derrek Lee and Andruw Jones in this list.

This had better be the Year Of Prince Albert.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 10:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The latest news in movie piracy prevention...

The Self Destructing DVD Player:

Many industry analysts have wondered which way Sony would go in the copyright protection debate. Sony manufactures both hardware, which is harmed by piracy controls, and entertainment, which is helped by piracy controls. A recent release of a self-destructive DVD player shows that the entertainment division is winning that internal argument.

"Copy protection has been foiled too easily by pirates, and we need to do something more effective," said Sony Entertainment vice-president Harold Wang. "Self-destructive DVDs have been tried, but rejected by consumers. We feel that consumers will embrace the self-destructive DVD players, because it gives them that Mission Impossible I've-got-the-latest-gadget feeling. We even have the player say 'This DVD player will self-destruct in 10 seconds.'"

Wang addressed the safety concerns of destroying a DVD player: "Sure there are safety issues, but most homes are equipped with smoke detectors these days, and are chock full of pirated material which would be destroyed in the blaze. OK, their house might burn down, but isn't that a small price to pay to combat piracy?"


Hollywood applauds the move. Chairman of the MPAA Jack Valenti said, "Not having a DVD player makes it absolutely impossible to view pirated content, which makes copying a DVD entirely useless. Granted, it also makes watching the damn thing impossible, but we don't care if you can't see the content, just as long as you buy brand new, legitimate copies from your local or online store."

Len on 09.19.05 @ 08:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEMs...

Another Couple of GEMs today come from The New Hampsire Union Leader:

"...Dismissing critics who said the federal government should cut spending to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief, instead of borrowing the money, DeLay said, "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet."
That has to be the lie of the year. The only thing Congressional Republicans have pared down is the party's reputation.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is running around the country telling Americans that the Republicans cannot be trusted with their money. And Republicans are playing right into his hands by continuing to recklessly spend the public's money.

"It is right to borrow to pay for it," Delay said of Katrina relief. No, it isn't. It is dead wrong. And so is lying to the American people about how their government is being run.

If only we had a Republican revolution to replace these reckless spenders with financially responsible politicians. Oh, wait. We did.

And this following one from Fareed Zakaria, click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

High Points of Popular Cultural History....

Back in 1969, a composer named Gershon Kingsley took 30 seconds out of his busy day, and composed a little tune he titled "Popcorn". He recorded it on an album of electronic music callend Music to Moog By (so called because the instrumentals on that album were recorded on the then brand-new Moog Synthesizer).

In 1972, Stan Free, one of Kingsley's associates in a Moog ensemble dubbed "The First Moog Quartet", got some inspiration from the fact that, when the First Moog Quartet went on tour in the late '60s, their rendition of "Popcorn" seemed to be a real crowd pleaser (once they noticed that, they tended to use it as an encore piece). So Free recorded a cover of "Popcorn" under the alias "Hot Butter", and that was the version that shot to the top of the charts back in the early '70s.

What I find interesting, over thirty years later, is that not only is there a web site devoted to "Popcorn", the song (no, that's not the really interesting part; after all, there are at least two websites devoted to every possible niche interest that has occurred to the mind of man), but that to judge from the site's "versions" page, there is an almost unbelieveable number of cover versions of this song (including, in 2005, covers by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (I'm startled to learn that they're still around, though the page notes that it's an earlier version that's been re-released on a 2005 compilation album) and Ben Folds).

Not bad for what is basically a trivial piece of fluff (however, an enjoyable, trivial piece of fluff).

Len on 09.19.05 @ 07:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More bAdmin Lap Dogs...

...Biting Bushies in their Bush…

SUPPLY SIDE: The GOP's New New Deal : The bill for Katrina may fall due next November; by Stephen Moore (Economics writer for The Wall Street Journal):

“There's an old adage that no one in Washington can tell the difference between $1 million and $1 billion.…

…To put that $200 billion in perspective, we could give every one of the 500,000 families displaced by Katrina a check for $400,000, and they could each build a beach front home virtually anywhere in America.

Congressman Todd Aiken of Missouri complains that Congress was forced to vote on the $62 billion first installment of funds "even though we knew a lot of the money may go to waste." Mr. Aiken and several dozen other House conservatives proposed an amendment to the $62 billion hurricane relief bill that would offset at least some of the emergency spending by cutting other government programs a meager 2.5 cents out of every dollar that federal agencies spend.

Was the amendment defeated? No. The Republican leadership would not even allow it to come to a vote, on the grounds that there was no waste which could be easily identified and cut.

It's only been 10 days since reconstruction funds were voted out of Congress, but there are already stories of misspending. For example, the Louis Vuitton store reported selling two monographed luxury handbags for $800 each, both paid for by women with FEMA's $2,000 emergency disaster relief debit cards.

Politicians from seemingly every congressional district appear to be elbowing their way to the orgy table for a slice of this $200-billion pie. At last count, 12 governors declared their states emergency disaster areas, and thus eligible for federal aid. Iowa, Michigan and Utah, for example, states nowhere near the Hurricane, are lining up for disaster relief funds.

Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government? Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents, Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes. Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate."

We all want to see New Orleans rebuilt, but it does not follow that this requires more than $100 billion in federal aid. Chicago was burned to the ground in 1871; San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake in 1906; and in 1900 Galveston, Texas, was razed by a hurricane even more ferocious than Katrina. In each instance, these proud cities were rebuilt rapidly and to even greater glory--with hardly any federal money.

Alas, in the world of compassionate conservatism, the quaint notion of limited federal power has fallen to the wayside in favor of an ethic that has Uncle Sam as first, second and third responder to crisis. FEMA, despite its woeful performance, will grow in size and stature. So will the welfare state. Welcome to the new New Dealism of the GOP.

Both political parties are now willing and eager to spend tax dollars as if they were passing out goody-bags to grabby four-year-olds at a birthday party. The Democrats are already forging their 2006 and 2008 message: We will spend just as many trillions of dollars as Republicans, but we will spend them better than they do. After witnessing the first few Republican misappropriations for Hurricane Katrina, the Democrats may very well be right.”

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Too true to be funny:

From today's Ironic Times:

New Pledge of Allegiance Proposed
Changes reflect changing times.

I pledge allegiance to the Chinese-made flag and to the Republicans for which it stands, one nation under a Christian God, hopelessly divided, with limited liberty and delayed justice for all.

Len on 09.19.05 @ 06:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Couldn't have said it...

...better myself:

'Whatever It Costs' by Sebastian Mallaby (WaPo):

“It's hard to say what's worse: The incompetence of the administration's initial hurricane response or the cowardice of its follow-up. Faced with a small hit to his ratings, the president who once boasted of ignoring polls is rushing to spend billions of other people's dollars on saving his political skin. His philosophy is, "It's going to cost whatever it costs." That phrase should be the title of some future history of the Bush era.

The worst part is, President Bush doesn't even think his splurge will be effective. If he really believed that government could overcome racial inequality by targeting subsidies at minority businesses, he should have rolled out a national program long ago. But he doesn't believe anything of the kind. His promises of racial healing are entirely cynical.

What Bush really believes is that government is ineffective. Or at least that's what he says he believes…

Katrina also exposed the corruption in the way government dispenses money. The levees around New Orleans were inadequate not because the nation spends too little on water infrastructure; far from it. They were inadequate because water funds are allocated by cronyism rather than by cost-benefit analysis. On any honest crunching of the numbers, fortifying New Orleans looked like an excellent investment. But undeserving projects hogged all the money because they had more powerful sponsors in Congress. Bush hasn't breathed a word about this scandal.

Or take the perverse state of federal flood insurance. Because the program is subsidized, the feds are effectively paying people to build vulnerable houses on the beach; then they bail out flood victims whether or not they've actually signed up and paid their premiums. You might think that Katrina has driven home this lesson once and for all. Bush shows no sign of having grasped it.

Most seriously of all, Katrina exposed the government's incapacity to prepare for emergencies. The failure of response to a predicted flood in New Orleans is only the tip of the iceberg. Name just about any potential disaster, from a bioterrorism attack to avian flu, from an interruption in the flow of Saudi oil to a crash in the dollar. Are the feds prepared? Of course not. They are not even preparing for problems that are 100 percent assured, such as the coming baby bust.

After the terrorist attacks of 2001, Bush rose to the challenge -- perhaps rather too vigorously. After Katrina, he's lost his political nerve and all sense of the big picture. The hurricane has exposed our government as complacent, corrupt and unprepared; it has also created a brief and fleeting chance to launch bold reforms. Yet Bush seems content to accept business as usual. He will sit back and wait for disasters, then write large checks. Hey, it's going to cost whatever it costs. Is this supposed to be leadership?”

and Following the remarks on Sunday's Face the Nation by Senator Obama [from here in IL :-) ]:

Obama: This I think is where the problem comes in. You can't fight a war in Iraq that's costing upwards of 200 billion dollars and rebuild Katrina-rebuild N.O. and respond to the aftermath of Katrina-and try to deal with all the other domestic needs that we have, and- then cut taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Americana. I mean there was talk right-immediately after the hurricane that the republicans in the senate were still going to push forward with the repeal the estate tax which is mind boggling I think. We need some adult supervision of the budget process..

[Hat tip and video available on Crooks and Liars.]

What we Need is Adult Supervision of this Child-in-Chief we have as President!!!

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 06:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I think I want to get me one of these....

Len on 09.19.05 @ 06:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Justifications Of The Corpse Profiteers...

Consider this from the NY Times about What the Corpse Profiteers are Really Looking For…

Taking Full Responsibility

President Bush didn't say the other night how he would pay for his promise to rebuild the Gulf Coast states.

Allow us to explain: Every penny of aid approved by Congress so far and all subsequent aid - perhaps as much as $200 billion - will be borrowed, with most of it likely to come from Asian central banks and other foreign investors. That means additional interest of about $10 billion a year indefinitely.

The bill will hit current and future taxpayers in the form of higher taxes or cuts in government programs, or both.

Don't get us wrong. In the main, it makes sense to borrow for huge, vital and unexpected projects (World War II comes to mind). Such borrowing spreads the immense costs over generations, all of which presumably benefit from the extraordinary spending.

The problem is that the United States was deep in hock before Katrina - and for many of the wrong reasons. Unless Congress changes the pre-Katrina priorities laid down by Mr. Bush, necessary borrowing for Katrina will occur on top of unjustified borrowing. The resulting deficits could create deep economic distress, including higher interest rates, slower economic growth, future tax increases and constraints on the government's ability to be responsive, both to crises and to everyday needs, like health care. Growing deficits also pose a security threat because increasing foreign indebtedness risks eroding the nation's position in the world.

Cutting taxes for the rich is the most glaring of the wrongheaded reasons to pile debt upon debt. Since 2001, Congress has passed tax and spending legislation totaling $1.7 trillion. Of that total, tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year, the top 3 percent of the income ladder, have accounted for nearly 20 percent - or about $330 billion.

High-end tax cuts were not a wise policy during the shallow recession of Mr. Bush's first term and they're certainly not called for now. Unpaid-for tax cuts only cause more government borrowing. That takes money from government programs and taxpayers of tomorrow and gives it to the rich of today.

So far, the signs are not good for how Congress will respond to Mr. Bush's promise to spend "unprecedented" amounts for Katrina. Last week, Republican leaders pledged to push ahead with more deficit-inducing tax cuts for the wealthy - costing up to $70 billion over five years. Their most cherished is an extension for two years of temporary low rates for dividends and capital gains, scheduled to expire in 2008. About half of those cuts would flow to people making more than $1 million a year.

At the same time, key lawmakers are already balking at borrowing for Katrina. "We must not let Katrina break the bank for our children and grandchildren," said Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, in a typical comment.

They have it exactly backward. The tax-cutting agenda is breaking the bank for our descendants, while impairing our ability to borrow responsibly today. Every dollar that is saved by letting the tax cuts expire as scheduled is one less dollar the nation will need to borrow for Katrina.

A day after his speech from New Orleans, Mr. Bush ruled out tax increases to help pay for Katrina.

That's unrealistic. And in any event, letting temporary tax cuts expire on schedule is not a tax increase.

It's the law of the land, which Congress wants to change. Now that Mr. Bush has ruled out new tax increases, he should also tell Congress to rule out new tax cuts for the rich. Taking responsibility for the response to Katrina means taking fiscal responsibility as well.

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 06:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You know why I'm even writing this article? There's a guy on the NL ballot who may be the most ridiculous candidate for any award in human history that didn't involve NARAS. Brian Fuentes is apparently having a "comeback," which is interesting because you probably can't find 20 people who knew he was even having a career.
--Joe Sheehan [Baseball Prospectus, on MLB's "Pfizer Comeback Player of the Year" award]

Len on 09.19.05 @ 05:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

There are Walls and...


The NY Times has its New Subscription Wall in place today for its Editorials an Special Pieces.

But, as I still enjoy their commentary and information, I will continue to present those tid-bits I find interesting to me here on DBV.

For today it's a "You're a Good man Charlie Brown" retelling from Bob Herbert.

Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.19.05 @ 05:37 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Corpse Profiteers

I honestly thought the link Len had sent me to Lean-Left's post: After Two Weeks, They Resort to Cannibalism; (without a citation) was a piece that must have been put there as a JOKE. This couldn't be Seriously TRUE...

But here it is at Times On-Line; the same story that The Corpse Profiteers (Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, Law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax), are hard at work:

Looking for a Corpse to Make a Case: Senators look for a wealthy casualty of Katrina as evidence against the estate tax:

"Federal troops aren't the only ones looking for bodies on the Gulf Coast. On Sept. 9, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions called his old law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax, which was encountering sudden resistance on the Hill. Sessions had an idea to revitalize their cause, which he left on Apolinsky's voice mail: "[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."

If legislative ambulance chasing looks like a desperate measure, for the backers of repealing the estate tax, these are desperate times. Just three weeks ago, their long-sought goal of repeal seemed within reach, but Katrina dashed their hopes when Republican leaders put off an expected vote. After hearing from Sessions, Apolinsky, an estate tax lawyer who says his firm includes three multi-billionaires among its clients, mobilized the American Family Business Institute, a Washington-based group devoted to estate tax repeal. They reached out to members along the Gulf Coast to hunt for the dead.

It's been hard. Only a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax—in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it. And for Hill backers of repeal, that's only part of the problem. Last year, the tax brought in $24.8 billion to the federal government. With Katrina's cost soaring, estate tax opponents need to find a way to make up the potential lost income. For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."

Karen on 09.18.05 @ 03:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting experiment....

I don't give a shit about football, or any sport other than baseball, for that matter (to me, the sports year begins with the reporting of pitchers and catchers to spring training in February, and ends with the last out of the World Series), but this experiment looks interesting:

Adding a twist to my bet with Kevin (yet to be accepted by him), FDR is picking games to compete against the two of us. If FDR has a higher winning percentage than both of us at the end of the season, our bet is null and void.

I should mention that FDR is a dime, the only coin I had.

I shall toss the coin, with heads picking the home team, and tails picking the road team. Since a coin cannot be biased for or against anyone, not even on results that have already happened, I’m tossing for weeks 1 and 2 to get full numbers. I’m skipping the Raiders/Patriots game from week 1 just so we have all predicted the same number.
Right now, I'd bet on FDR being more accurate than tgirsch or Kevin....

:-) (in case either Tom or Kevin read us....)

Len on 09.18.05 @ 01:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Back in high school, my buddies tried to put the make on anything that moved. I told them, 'Why limit yourselves?'
--Emo Philips

I know that Karen's deciding to stick with "Child-in-Chief" as her primary nickname for Bush. But for those of you who don't want to limit yourselves, Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran gives us every derogatory nickname he's ever thought of for The Crawford Cretin.


Len on 09.18.05 @ 01:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Woolly Bears

Found a Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella) [or it's most Yellowish cousin] wandering on my deck. Tho' a true Woolly Bear is more orange and has black ends... this one is equally wooly and about two inches long.

woolybear (41k image)

This Government webpage say they are found across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Supposed to cocoon and Metomorphosis into a Tiger Moth. (See pictures on the site.)

But most interesting is the Folk Legends about how Woolly Bears forecast for the severity of the upcoming winter.

Click on the "more" button to read this information.


Karen on 09.18.05 @ 01:00 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Eyewitness reports: Socialized Medicine--it ain't bad in Canada at all

Over at The Leiter Reports, a couple of guest bloggers have been filling in for Brian Leiter. Both are U.S. academics who have taken positions in Canada. Friday one of them, Jessica Wilson, shared her experience with their first encounter with socialized medicine, Canadian style:

Our prescriptions were running out, so it was time to see a doctor. Would we have to wait for weeks, spend hours in the waiting room, be officiously treated by a harassed doctor with her hands full from treating the hypochondriac hordes clamouring for freely dispensed health care?

Uh, no. We called a couple of days ago and got new patient appointments right away at a walk-in clinic in our neighborhood. We walked in to a nice building right on Danforth...


Up the stairs to check in, where there was a pharmacy and a dentist's office, among other services. No waiting. A nice person and 5 minutes later, we were upstairs in the doctor's waiting area. Approximately 1 minute later, our pleasant, calm doctor (a young man recently moved here from Montreal) invited us to come, separately or together, into the office. We went in together, and each conversed at length with the doctor about our respective maladies (what fun!) and the alternatives for treating them, made a decision on these scores, and got an initial check-up. The doctor was thoughtful, informed, and in no hurry whatsoever to get rid of us. We then took our prescriptions to the pharmacy downstairs, waited about 10 minutes, paid a reasonable amount (we'll get reimbursed when our official insurance comes through... though it's worth noting that the standard base-line insurance doesn't automatically come with prescription coverage. No doubt prescriptions are covered for those below a certain income threshold), and were on our merry way.

By way of comparison with health care in the States, Benj waited a month to get a new patient's appointment after moving to Ithaca, and to get my first prescription in Ann Arbor I had to sit in the waiting room at the University of Michigan clinic for almost an hour. In fact, I can't remember ever not having to wait for some extended period of time to see a doctor in the states. And once in the exam room, the person I had most contact with wasn't the doctor, but rather a nurse or nurse practitioner, who asked most of the questions and performed the general check-up, with the doctor showing up for a 5 or 10 minute diagnostic denouement. And our health insurance was supposed to be elite! Free market health insurance -- don't believe the hype.

UPDATE: Reader RA sends along the following story:
A friend of mine [in Santa Monica] sought a medical appointment for some unusual skin growths on her face and back through Kaiser Permamente. She was told it would take four months to get an appointment. She didn't want to wait so she saw a dermatologist outside her HMO and discovered she had skin cancer. $5,000 (out-of-her-pocket) later, she's fine, but obviously not happy with her medical coverage.
I can see that in a few years, I'll be wishing I was a Canadian (actually, I'm already there), because my health care there would be much better than what I'll be able to afford here.

UPDATE: Over at the River City Mud Bugle, autoegocrat shows us why it looks like even the Iraqis will have better health care than we do.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I'm a satisfied customer of theirs....

So I'll take the opportunity to plug the latest offering from Cutiegear:

While you're at it, though, make sure you pick up an Abby's Dad "Decline Insanity" coffee mug. Both Karen and I have one; I consider it one of my most treasured possessions (and I have a large collection of coffee mugs, so from me that's high praise, indeed), and Karen likes it because it's big and holds lotsa mornin' joe.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 12:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush? Compassionate? Don't make me laugh....

I think this says it all:

The credit: to an anonymous Talking Points Memo Reader.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A new definition of "chutzpah"?

You know the classic one of course: "A man murdering his parents and then throwing himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds he's an orphan." Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall gives us another example, courtesy of notorious corrupt congresscritter Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California:

Wow! Old habits sure die hard for our man Duke Cunningham.

You remember how Duke got MZM, Inc. owner Mitchell Wade to pay (roughly) double the price for his old house. Then he took Wade's bribe and mixed it together with a few sweetheart loans from Thomas Kontogiannis to buy the new mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.

After Duke's career imploded this summer, the feds sued to take ownership of the new mansion since it was bought with the proceeds of Duke's bribes from various contractors. Presumably, that and the rest of Duke's so-so publicity over recent months has put something of a damper on his efforts to unload the mansion.

In any case, apparently the best offer Duke's gotten for the place is $2.5 million, $50,000 less than he bought it for 20 months ago. But Duke says it's
real value is at least $3.3 million (a questionable level of appreciation in a decelerating real estate market).

Now, back in the old days when Duke was living large and he got into a jam like this, the standard procedure was to find a corrupt defense contractor to chip in a few hundred thousand dollars. But since that probably won't work out any more, Duke says the
US Treasury should pay him $800,000 to make up for the money he should be getting for the house.

That's right. Duke says the feds should make him whole because he can't pocket the full Duke-appraised 'market' value.

Why is this guy stil in Congress?
The Federal Government should pay Duke $800,000 for his house? I think the Feds should give it to him in trade, as it were. Like in a multi-year occupancy of one of those palatial Federal prison cells that I'm sure ol' "Duke-stir" voted to fund during his term as a congresscritter.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 11:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Federal Fuckups in Louisiana: Part Way-Too-Many-Too Count

I hope Bryan forgives me for stealing one of his best posts; I hope he knows he's more than welcome to steal anyting of mine he finds here (not that I ever produce anything worth stealing, but that's a different issue):

As hurricane Katrina moved up the Gulf taking aim at New Orleans, Captain Nora Tyson and the crew of the USS Bataan were right behind it.

By coincidence this vessel, based in Norfolk, Virginia, was operating in the Gulf. Jo Fish might know of another class of US vessel that was better, but I can't imagine anything more suited to aiding coastal cities.

The Bataan is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship. She was designed to support landing Marines on a shore. She has a flight deck for her helicopters and VTOL aircraft, she has amphibious landing craft, she has a 600-bed hospital, and she can generate 100,000 gallons of drinking water a day. Everything that was needed was there: food, water, medical care, transportation, communications, mobile generators, everything was on that ship and it arrived within range as Katrina hit New Orleans.

Northern Command, the area command for US operations, was ready to go. They put people on alert to leap into action. All they needed was the word from the President.

The helicopters from the Bataan rushed in with Coast Guard helicopters on search and rescue [SAR] missions, but no one was transferred to the hospital and none of her supplies was used in New Orleans.

At some point, someone in FEMA made the decision that the way to deal with New Orleans was to evacuate the city, so there was no need for supplies in the city. Not being clear on geography, that "no aid" decision was apparently applied to all of the parishes around New Orleans.

The Bataan was later shifted East and helped support operations on the Mississippi coast, but she could have held the patients from all of the hospitals and nursing homes in the area. She could have supplied water to the people of New Orleans and a lot of food. She could have saved a lot more people if she had been allowed to do what she was capable of doing.

I hope that the Navy and DoD are generous with awards for the vessel and her crew. They did their duty and would have done a lot more if they had been allowed.
And I hope he forgives me for stealing part of another one of his posts:
I'm sick of it! I keep hearing supposedly intelligent people saying that the Shrubbery deserves credit for accepting "responsibility" for the failed response. He hasn't even apologized.


He is wasting money flying around the country staging photo ops while he should be in Washington getting things done. If he spent some time in the office, he might find out what was going on, and that goes for his entire administration. If his people can light Jackson Square in a few hours for a photo op, why didn't they have lights in the SuperDome for days? Are those generators and the fuel to run them only available for photo ops?

He failed to call in the military. The military wasn't used because of George W. Bush, not the laws.
I'm fully in agreement with Molly Ivins:
...I am so sick of this man and everything he represents -- all the sleazy, smug, self-righteous graft and corruption and "Christian" moralizing and cynicism and tax cuts for all his smug, rich buddies.
And I'm equally sick of the vacuuous, blind, unthinking, apparently brain-dead morons who defend this pitiful excuse for a human being.

I don't know which is worse, Bush's crimes against humanity (specifically, the the war of aggression he instituted against Iraq) or his criminal negligence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina which directly led to the deaths of hundreds of Americans who did not need to die.

Christian president my ass.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 11:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Postseason Musings, or: Why I'm Glad I'm Not Tony LaRussa.....

Over at The Cardinals Birdhouse, Brian Walton has an interesting analysis of the problems facing TLR in managing his postseason rotation. Go read the whole thing for the nuances (in particular, the analysis of the likely rotations in the event of Houston getting the wild card slot vice any other team getting it, and why they pan out that way), but here's the problem in a nutshell:

In conclusion

Which of these NLDS scenarios do you favor?

1) Facing a team with a weaker regular-season record, the NL West winner, knowing that if there is a Game 5, it could have to be trusted either to Mulder on short rest or a potentially-rusty Morris or Marquis.


2) Facing a hot Wild Card team (and we all know how successful Wild Cards have been in winning the World Series in recent years), knowing that if a Game 5 is required, a rested Chris Carpenter will be ready to go at home, but potentially paying for it later with him unavailable until later in the NLCS.

It’s not as if we actually have a choice, but we can have a preference, can’t we?

Len on 09.18.05 @ 10:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This Week in Engrish...

I almost forgot my “This Week in Engrish” post but here was one on a tattoo Parlor website ad; which was more interesting for the *other information* it conveyed than the Engrish Funnie.

It lists a working website URL for a tattoo parlor: Boobies.

So, go check out the actual pages of designs of the Oriental Artwork at Boobies and this second page of designs.

[And the *full body* of the naked Guy recalls me to The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.]


Karen on 09.18.05 @ 09:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Fatal Doctrines...

Here is and Excellent piece from Lord Robert Skidelsky (Professor of Political Economy at Warwick University) called A fatal flaw at the heart of Bush and Blair's democratic crusade.

Click on the “more” button to read this in full.

Karen on 09.18.05 @ 09:12 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Looks like we've fucked the Iraqis over, and probably ourselves as well....

UPDATE: The direct link down there is working now.

Over at Back to Iraq, Christopher Allbritton posts an article from "That pink-o, liberal workers’ rag DefenseNews (no link that I can find, unfortunately), also known as a trade publication for defense contractors" which makes a compelling case that the Iraqi Civil War has already started (the direct link to Allbritton's post appears to be broken; go to the main page (first link in this post) and scroll to the September 18, 2005 post titled "Civil War is Here"):

Civil War Is Here
“Even if U.S. and Iraqi officials do not want to admit it, the facts on the ground are overwhelming and they do indicate that Iraq has plunged into a civil war, and things are getting worse by the day,” said Qassem Jaafar, a Doha, Qatar-based Middle East security analyst.

Jaafar listed the symptoms of a civil war as:
  • A weak central government with incompetent security apparatus.
  • Spread of sectarian and ethnic killings.
  • Existence of armed sectarian and ethnic militias.
  • High threat perception among the sectarian and ethnic groups of the country.
  • Insistence of each group on its demands.
  • Foreign interference and support to feuding groups.
Jaafar said all these symptoms are present in Iraq now.

A Washington analyst said Sunnis had not been persuaded to participate in the political process, and the constitution as drawn up would not help that. “Rather than an ‘inclusive’ document, it [the constitution] is more a recipe for separation based on Shiite and Kurdish privilege,” said Anthony Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Attiyah said a failure to accommodate Sunni concerns could embolden Sunni extremists.

“If the constitution is not amended to meet Sunni demands and goes as-is to the referendum, then moderate Sunni figures would lose ground to the radical forces and an all-out civil war will spread to each corner of the country,” Attiyah said.

Jaafar agreed. “The U.S. is facing a serious dilemma in Iraq, where its Shiite and Kurdish allies have gone out on their own pushing for their own agendas that do not seem to meet with Washington’s vision of a future Iraq,” he said.

“The Shiites, for example, have been pushing for an Iranian-style Islamic republic, which would not suit U.S. interests,” while “the Kurdish secessionist drive is growing stronger every day, which is getting Turkey and other neighboring states more worried.”

No Win for Washington
Jaafar said that puts Washington on the hot seat.

“The U.S. is stuck in an almost no-win situation. It can neither just withdraw from Iraq without completing the mission and establishing peace and order in the country, and at the same time it does not seem capable of maintaining Iraq’s unity and achieving its promise of establishing a free and democratic Iraq that would be a good model for neighboring countries,” Jaafar said.
So now George W. "the war president" Bush has pretty well fucked up Iraq.

To think the idiots who support Bush trust him not to fuck up the United States, too. Despite all the evidence to the contrary. I wonder what planet they're living on, because it sure isn't Planet Earth.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rotten to the Core…

…Is Intelligent Design.

In science, fact, not faith, measures ideas' validity by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne [Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University. Jerry Coyne is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago] from the Chicago Tribune:

“… So what's wrong, then, with teaching "both sides" of the alleged controversy between evolution and creationism or intelligent design?

The answer is simple.

This is not a scientific controversy at all.

But creationism, currently repackaged as intelligent design, is not an argument of the same character. It is not a scientific argument at all, but a religious one. It might be worth discussing in a class on the history of ideas, in a philosophy class on popular logical fallacies or in a comparative religion class on origin myths from around the world.

But it no more belongs in a biology class than alchemy does in a chemistry class, phlogiston in a physics class, astrology in a psychology class or the stork theory in a sex education class. In a class on 20th Century European history, nobody would want to grant denial of the Holocaust the status of one half of a "let's teach both sides of the controversy" treatment.

In all of these cases, the demand for equal time for "both theories" is ludicrous. And this is how professional biologists feel about the apparently reasonable demand that they should give intelligent design the status of a scientific theory.

But there's a reason why we, like the vast majority of professional biologists, are so sure that intelligent design is not a real scientific theory, worthy of "both sides" treatment.

Where are the facts?

If intelligent design really were a scientific theory, positive evidence for it, gathered through research, would fill peer-reviewed scientific journals. This doesn't happen. It isn't that editors refuse to publish intelligent design research. There simply isn't any intelligent design research to publish.

Its advocates bypass normal scientific channels by appealing directly to the non-scientific public and their elected government officials. Their argument is always the same. Never do they offer positive evidence in favor of intelligent design. All we ever get is a list of alleged deficiencies in evolution--"gaps" in the fossil record or unsupported assertions of "irreducibly complex" organs that allegedly could not have evolved.

In all cases there is a hidden default assumption that if Theory A has some difficulty in explaining Phenomenon X, we must automatically prefer Theory B without even asking whether Theory B-- creationism/intelligent design in this case--is any better at explaining Phenomenon X.

Defying reason

Note how this imbalance gives the lie to the apparent reasonableness of "let's teach both sides." One side is required to produce evidence every step of the way. The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but it is deemed to have won automatically the moment the first side encounters a difficulty--the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day and which researchers work to solve with relish.

Evolution welcomes scrutiny

Evolution, like all good theories, makes itself vulnerable to disproof. Needless to say, it has always come through with flying colors.

But the important point is that the default logic of the creationists remains thoroughly rotten.

And it's no solution to raise the theological defense that God (or the intelligent designer) is immune to the normal demands of scientific explanation.

You cannot have it both ways. Either intelligent design belongs in the science classroom, in which case it must submit to the discipline required of a scientific hypothesis, or it does not, and we must send it back to the church, where it belongs.

Not `just a theory'

There is no scientific evidence in favor of intelligent design. In contrast, the positive evidence for evolution is truly enormous, made up of hundreds of thousands of mutually corroborating observations from geology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, behavior, biogeography, embryology, atomic physics and molecular genetics.

Opposition to evolution is laughable to all who are acquainted with even a fraction of the published data. Although often characterized as "just a theory," evolution is just as much a fact as plate tectonics or the heliocentric solar system.

Why, finally, does it matter whether these issues are discussed in science classes?

Perhaps biologists shouldn't get so hot under the collar. It would, after all, take only about 10 minutes to exhaust the case for intelligent design. The problem is that the seductive "let's teach the controversy" language conveys the false and highly pernicious idea that there really are two sides.

Thus, without needing to make a single good point in any argument, creationism would have won the right for a form of supernaturalism to be considered an authentic part of science. And that would be the end of genuine science education in America.

Karen on 09.18.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great days in American History (um, maybe):

A very dubious source tells me that today is the 122nd anniversary of the birth of an "Elmer Maytag", inventor of the washing machine.

Unfortunately for this source, every other source I can find on the web gives the name of the inventor of the washing mashine as "F.L." or "Fred L. Maytag", and the only source I can find with anything close to a birthdate for Fred gives it as being 1857, not 1883 as my ever more dubious source says. I'll be taking this matter up with him directly.

Whatever date it is, no doubt Fred's birthday is a high holy day in the thriving metropolis of Newton, Iowa, which is the home of the Maytag Corporation (as well as being the hometown of our pal, Gooseneck).

And no making any jokes. I've actually visited Newton; it's a nice town.

Len on 09.18.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

One of the creepier vanities of most political leaders is the private yearning to be tested on a historical scale. Bill Clinton used to confide that, no matter what else he did as President, without a major war to fight he could never join the ranks of Lincoln and F.D.R. During the Presidential debates in 2000, George W. Bush informed his opponent, Al Gore, that natural catastrophes are “a time to test your mettle.” Bush had seen his father falter after a hurricane in South Florida. But now he has done far worse. Over five days last week, from the onset of the hurricane on the Gulf Coast on Monday morning to his belated visit to the region on Friday, Bush’s mettle was tested—and he failed in almost every respect.

Obviously, a hurricane is beyond human blame, and the political miscalculations that have come to light—the negligent planning, the delayed rescue and aid efforts, the thoroughly confused and uninspired political leadership—cannot all be laid at the feet of President Bush. But you could sense, watching him being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America”—defensive, confused, overwhelmed—that he knew that he had delivered a series of feeble, vague, almost flippant speeches in the early days of the crisis, and that the only way to prevent further political damage was to inoculate himself with the inevitable call for non-partisanship: “I hope people don’t play politics during this period of time.”

And yet, to a frightening degree, Bush’s faults of leadership and character were brought into high relief by the crisis. Suntanned and relaxed after a vacation so long that it would have shamed a French playboy, Bush reacted with fogged delinquency, as if he had been so lulled by his summer sojourn that he was not quite ready to acknowledge reality, let alone attempt to master it. His first view of the floods came, pitifully, theatrically, from the window of a low-flying Air Force One, and all the President could muster was, according to his press secretary, “It’s devastating. It’s got to be doubly devastating on the ground.” The moment demanded clarity of mind and rigorous governance, and yet he could not summon them. The performance skills Bush eventually mustered after September 11th—in his bullhorn speech at Ground Zero, in his first speech to Congress—eluded him. The whole conceit of his Presidency, that he was an instinctive chief executive backed by “grownups” like Dick Cheney and tactical wizards like Karl Rove, now seemed as water-logged as Biloxi and New Orleans. The mismanagement of the Katrina floods echoed the White House mismanagement—the cavalier posture, the wretched decisions, the self-delusions—in postwar Iraq.
--David Remnick

Len on 09.18.05 @ 08:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gratuitous post...

Because I want to be the one to post the 2000th post since the last time I had to reset Greymatter.

Go Cards!

Len on 09.17.05 @ 06:58 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Unicorn chaser

For those of you as disturbed as I was by the alligator picture below, here's a picture of a unicorn.

Unicorn and foal

Whew, I feel so much better now.

Brock on 09.17.05 @ 06:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals: 2005 National League Central Division Champions

We send the Magic Number to 0 with a win in Wrigley Field.

Now, on the to NLDS.

UPDATE: Of course, it wasn't (according to the date/time stamp) even three minutes after the last out was recorded before I got an email from the official Cardinals team mailing list, informing us of the good news--and encouraging us to visit the Cardinals' website and stock up on our official St. Louis Cardinals 2005 Central Division Championship gear.

Capitalism. Gotta love it.

[Note: The immediately preceding sentence was a test of your mental software's ability correctly to parse the "sarcasm" markup tags.]

Len on 09.17.05 @ 03:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad news....

We've just heard that John McMullen has died at the age of 87.

While he's accomplished more in his life than this, I'll always remember him for sumarizing his term as a limited partner in the New York Yankees ownership group:

There is nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner's.

Len on 09.17.05 @ 02:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

If You are wondering about the NOLA Body Count...

...And why it *Might* not ever be terribly accurate - despite the Best Efforts at recovery:

Alligator500_5001 (41k image)

Just consider this.

Karen on 09.17.05 @ 11:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:

Still holding at 1.

Nonetheless, Lee Sinins, in his daily stat-head "Around the Majors" newsletter, has put the Cardinals down as having won the NL Central (no doubt, since it's now impossible, given the mathematics of the standings and the tiebreaker rules, for the Cardinals to lose the NL Central title).

In related news, tickets for the 2005 National League Divisional Series and 2005 National League Championship Series are going on sale in St. Louis at 9 AM Monday morning. If last year's experience is any indication, you'd better getcher ass to St. Louis today and camp out (indeed, you may be too late already); while I've heard that tickets may be available by phone and over the 'net, last year IIRC the volume of traffic made attemtpts to buy by phone or 'net a pretty hopeless exercise.

Len on 09.17.05 @ 10:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As an Antidote...

...to the Party of Performance GOP sloganeers:

How about:

Democrats Delivering Competence v the Party of the Profligate Plutocrats

Or we could try: Pathetic, Procrastinating, Prevaricators, Pernicious, Pandering, Piece-meal, Pig-Headed, Peevish - as adjectives for those GOP-ers.

This could be a good Democratic Slogan for 2006.


Karen on 09.17.05 @ 10:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

How many wake-up calls do we need? I ve seen the obscene sums. Show me the progress. Please, show me the error of my ways. Although I'll readily cop to being AWOL in the 70s, I didn't miss too many classes in the 50s and 60s; and looking back down the road, with JFK and Neil Armstrong in the rearview, I was taught that I'd be buzzing around Paris and Bangkok in a flying car that ran on grass and little more than a liter of water by now.

So of course I'm PO'ed. I despise 97 percent of what I see and hear. Life is pointless without a flying car, and every complacent jerk who thinks it's so Jim Dandy can easily shove his or her freakin Ipod nano where the sun doesn't charge a dollar for a song. Which reminds me of another sure thing from the olden days: They had me believing any ditty ever recorded--from ABBA to Zappa--might cost maybe a nickel or a dime at most if I wanted to play it forever inside my flying car. And that was before eight tracks, dadgummit!
--William A. Smith, "Where's My Flying Car?"

Len on 09.17.05 @ 10:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM...

“The president, as he fondly recalled the other day, used to get well lit in New Orleans. Not any more.

In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background?

The slick White House TV production team was trying to salvage W.'s "High Noon" snap with some snazzy Hollywood-style lighting - the same Reaganesque stagecraft they had provided when W. made a prime-time television address from Ellis Island on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On that occasion, Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer, and Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman and a lighting expert, rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used for "Monday Night Football" and Rolling Stones concerts, floated them across New York Harbor and illuminated the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop for Mr. Bush.

Before the presidential address, Mr. DeServi was surveying his handiwork in Jackson Square, crowing to reporters about his cathedral: "Oh, it's heated up. It's going to print loud."

The president is still looking for a tiny spot of unreality in New Orleans - and in Iraq, where a violent rampage has spiked the three-day death tally to over 200.

The Oedipal loop-de-loop of W. and Poppy grows ever loopier.

With Karl Rove's help, Junior designed his presidency as a reverse of his father's. W. would succeed by studying Dad's failures and doing the opposite. But in a bizarre twist of filial fate, the son has stumbled so badly in areas where he tried to one-up Dad that he has ended up giving Dad a leg up in the history books.

As Mark Twain said: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Of course, it's taken Junior only five years to learn how smart his old man was….”

--Maureen Dowd

Disney on Parade (NY Times).

Karen on 09.17.05 @ 08:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

FEMA on the Fly...

FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort (NY Times):

”Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system.

The top two federal relief officials in charge of the effort both acknowledged in interviews late this week that they too have listened to the frustrated voices of local officials and citizens alike, and find their complaints valid.

"It is not happening fast enough, effective enough and it is not impacting the people at the bottom as quickly as it should," said Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, standing along the waterfront in New Orleans on Friday. "I have heard frustrations."

Admiral Allen, who was put in charge of the federal government's emergency operations along the Gulf Coast a week ago Friday, said entrenched bureaucracies hampered attempts to accelerate his top priorities: aid to residents, providing housing and clearing the vast swaths of wreckage from homes and trees damaged by the storm.

Working from Baton Rouge, William Lokey, FEMA's coordinating officer for the three-state region, echoed Admiral Allen's criticisms. "It is not going as fast as I would like, and yes, I do not have the resources I would like," he said on Thursday. "I am going as fast as I can to get them."

The problems clearly stem largely from the sheer enormousness of the disaster. But the lack of investment in emergency preparedness, poor coordination across a sprawling federal bureaucracy and a massive failure of local communication systems - all of which hurt the initial rescue efforts - are now also impeding the recovery.

FEMA, Mr. Lokey said, is an agency with limited federal money that must quickly expand its operational capacity only after a major disaster strikes. It has not won a large chunk of the new federal homeland security dollars, that have been dedicated to terrorism.

"If the billions of dollars that have been spent on chemical, nuclear and biological response, if some of that had come over here, we would have done better," he said. "But after 9/11, the public priority was terrorism."

The Katrina troubles underscore serious questions about the federal government's ability to handle similar disasters in the future…”

[Emphasis mine]

This is what happens when you dismantle an effective governmental agency like FEMA (under Clinton) by both funding cuts (those “starve the FED government folks”) and by political cronyism appointing Incompetents to run it - and Then actually NEED it to function.

It’s almost hard to fault the clean-up crew under Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen who have to recreate an entire agency on the fly in the middle of a National Disaster. But we KNOW where the buck stops for this in the first place. Bleh!!!

Karen on 09.17.05 @ 07:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Answers to B.B. King Birthday Trivia.

I'll reprint the questions here, in case you want to challenge yourself without scrolling down to the original post (which is several posts below this one):

  1. What was B.B.'s birth name?
  2. When did B.B. first arrive in Memphis, and what brought him here?
  3. True or False: B.B. began his career in Memphis as a radio personality.
  4. What do the initials "B.B." stand for, and how did he come by that name?
  5. True or False: Sam Phillips produced some of B.B.'s earliest records at Sun Studios.
  6. True or False (2 parter):
    Part 1: In 1982, B.B. released an album of country songs.
    Part 2: Hell yes; it was one of his biggest hits.
  7. How did B.B.'s guitar come to receive the name, "Lucille"?

For the answers, click "more"....

Len on 09.16.05 @ 09:44 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Subtextual messaging...

At the risk of over doing my usual amount of posts for any given day [*wink*], I just had to link to these GEMs by Douglas A. Cooper (Dysblog):

What We Really Heard George Say, If We Listened Closely:
The full subtext of President Bush's address Thursday, as leaked by an unnamed source at The White House

And this little pre-speech pep talk about responsibility for the Child-in-Chief from Blooming-Shit-Head himself, as told by The FLY-On-The-Wall. [Not you Pesky...LOL]

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 04:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This is for LEN....

... and how could I Resist a little Memphonian Jab here ...

So - Go Look / See for yourself!!!

Right HERE.



Karen on 09.16.05 @ 02:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday, B.B. King!!!!

How could I have missed this?

Today is 80th birthday of blues legend B.B. King.

In honor or which, a mini-B.B. trivia quiz:

  1. What was B.B.'s birth name?
  2. When did B.B. first arrive in Memphis, and what brought him here?
  3. True or False: B.B. began his career in Memphis as a radio personality.
  4. What do the initials "B.B." stand for, and how did he come by that name?
  5. True or False: Sam Phillips produced some of B.B.'s earliest records at Sun Studios.
  6. True or False (2 parter):
    Part 1: In 1982, B.B. released an album of country songs.
    Part 2: Hell yes; it was one of his biggest hits.
  7. How did B.B.'s guitar come to receive the name, "Lucille"?
Of course, I can't stop any of y'all from Googling the answers, but I'll be more impressed if you can roll them off from memory....

Len on 09.16.05 @ 02:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

There is Some Responsibility To Go Around...

But this is outlandish as the FEDs continue efforts to avoid their responsibility...

Given the debates we’ve had going right here about the responsibilities and duties of the Army Corps of Engineers versus the State and Locals; Here comes a new angle:

E-mail suggests government seeking to blame groups: (By Jerry Mitchell):

“Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."

Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said Thursday she couldn't comment "because it's an internal e-mail."

Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club, remarked, "Why are they (Bush administration officials) trying to smear us like this?"

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had nothing to do with the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina that killed hundreds, he said. "It's unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn't surprise me at all."

Federal officials say the e-mail was prompted by a congressional inquiry but wouldn't comment further.

Whoever is behind the e-mail may have spotted the Sept. 8 issue of National Review Online that chastised the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The corps settled the litigation in 1997, agreeing to hold off on some work until an environmental impact could be completed. The National Review article concluded: "Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain."

The problem with that conclusion?

The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city.

When Katrina struck, the hurricane pushed tons of water from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city to the north. Corps officials say the water from the lake cleared the levees by 3 feet. It was those floodwaters, they say, that caused the levees to degrade until they ruptured, causing 80 percent of New Orleans to flood.

Bookbinder said the purpose of the litigation by the Sierra Club and others in 1996 was where the corps got the dirt for the project. "We had no objections to levees," he said. "We said, 'Just don't dig film materials out of the wetlands. Get the dirt from somewhere else.' "

If you listen to what some conservatives say about environmentalists, he said, "We're responsible for most of the world's ills."

In 1977, the corps wanted to build a 25-mile-long barrier and gate system to protect New Orleans on the east side. Both environmental groups and fishermen opposed the project, saying it would choke off water into Lake Pontchartrain.

After litigation, corps officials abandoned the idea, deciding instead to build higher levees. "They came up with a cheaper alternative," Bookbinder said. "We didn't object to raising the levees."

John Hall, a spokesman for the corps in New Orleans, said the barrier the corps was proposing in the 1970s would only stand up to a weak Category 3 hurricane, not a Category 4 hurricane like Katrina. "How much that would have prevented anything, I'm not sure," he said.

Since 1999, corps officials have studied the concept of building huge floodgates to prevent flooding in New Orleans from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001 listed a hurricane striking New Orleans as one of the top three catastrophic events the nation could face (the others being a terrorist attack on New York City and an earthquake in San Francisco), funding for corps projects aimed at curbing flooding in southeast Louisiana lagged.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has said the White House cut $400 million from corps' requests for flood control money in the area….”

[Hat tip to CapitalBuzz.]

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 02:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How Could I Resist...

And afore ya go saying this is a Photoshopped image -- it's on the front page of my Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Kane County Chronicle [just without the inset enlargements, text and arrows.] LOL

bushbutton4ai (49k image)

Holy Moly... the Disarmingly "Casual Look" for Ole Child-in-Chief.

This is like the Nanny-State in reverse...where WE, the public, are supposed to be the Nannies for this Village-Idiot, this Simpleton President.


Courtesy of Cookie Jill on Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 12:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another of Today's Gem...

“…I'm saying I don't want to hear it from this guy.

As a friend of mine commented last night over a drink, I don't hate this president and never have. I'm just sick of him. Sick of the naked politicization of everything (Karl Rove over-seeing reconstruction?); sick of the utter refusal to acknowledge that there is a limit to what the federal government can borrow from this and the next generation; sick of the hijacking of the conservative tradition for a vast increase in the power and size of government, with only a feined attempt at making it more effective; sick of the glib arrogance and excuses for failure that dot the landscape from Biloxi to Basra….

…Maybe the fact that I once truly did buy into this makes me more jaundiced today. I really wanted the man to succeed; believed he could; and, given the stakes, I felt it was almost irresponsible not to support him in the war and defend him from his worst and least principled critics…

...But please don't ask me to be enthusiastic about this. Buying popularity by spending billions was not why I originally became a conservative. Increasing the welfare state, burdening the future generations with mountainous debt, confusing politics with faith, failing to impose basic law and order as a primary reponsibility for government: these things I thought were characteristics of the left.

They now define the Bush administration.

I became a conservative because I saw in my native country what a terrible, incompetent, soul-destroying thing big government socialism is. It breaks my heart to see much of it now being implemented in America - by Republicans.”

-- Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish)

Yeah – and just imagine how those of us that DO HATE this Child-in-Chief feel. Robbed of even having a Grown-up as our President. Someone who can really understand and take Responsibility. Someone that can show they KNOW what Accountability IS. This CIC is a failure in ALL respects and knows nothing but LOYALTY to himself and his incompetent cronies. Disgusting.

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 11:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Anti-F.D.R.

Not the New Deal By Paul Krugman (NY Times):

“…This commitment to honest government wasn't a sign of Roosevelt's personal virtue; it reflected a political imperative. F.D.R.'s mission in office was to show that government activism works. To maintain that mission's credibility, he needed to keep his administration's record clean.

But George W. Bush isn't F.D.R. Indeed, in crucial respects he's the anti-F.D.R.

President Bush subscribes to a political philosophy that opposes government activism - that's why he has tried to downsize and privatize programs wherever he can. (He still hopes to privatize Social Security, F.D.R.'s biggest legacy.) So even his policy failures don't bother his strongest supporters: many conservatives view the inept response to Katrina as a vindication of their lack of faith in government, rather than as a reason to reconsider their faith in Mr. Bush.

And to date the Bush administration, which has no stake in showing that good government is possible, has been averse to investigating itself. On the contrary, it has consistently stonewalled corruption investigations and punished its own investigators if they try to do their jobs…”

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 10:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

G.B.Trudeau nails it again...

Further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 09.16.05 @ 09:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And let's see the Christian traditionalist homophobes spin this one....

Children of gay parents "normal":

A Brookings Institution report says kids of gay parents "show no differences in cognitive abilities, behavior, general emotional development … self-esteem, depression, or anxiety. In the few cases where differences in emotional development are found, they tend to favor children raised in lesbian families." [emphasis supplied --LRC]
It's better for your emotional development to have two mommies? Priceless....

Len on 09.16.05 @ 09:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


The Cardinals won their game against the Cubs 6-1. We piled on three runs against Mark Prior in the first inning, and then exploded for another three in the eighth inning against Rich Hill and Todd Wellemeyer. Derek Lee went yard in the Chicago half of the ninth (okay, we'll throw the Chicagoans a bone for being such wonderful hosts ;-) ), and then Chicago managed to load the bases with the assistance of the rain--Yadier Molina muffed a pop foul (giving the Cubs an extra out, as it were) and then the next batter reached first when David Eckstein's legs shot out from under him fielding a hot grounder to short on the rain-slicked Wrigley infield mud. That's when home plate ump Jim Wolf called for the tarp, and after a 58 minute rain delay they called the game on account of rain. I'm sure that the Wrigleyville fans weren't pleased with that decision, because, of course, the stage was set (bottom of the ninth, two out, bases loaded) for the kind of dramatic last ditch rally that makes baseball such an exciting sport to watch.

With that win, the Cards are guaranteed the NL Central Division Championship; MLB.com's Cardinals beat writer Matthew Leach explains:

The Cardinals guaranteed on Thursday night that they will once again be the champions of the National League Central Division. Their magic number, however, remains at one, and according to their manager, "one is not zero."

It may be the first time in baseball history that a division championship was more difficult to understand than to achieve.

This much is entirely clear: The Cardinals beat the Cubs, 6-1, at Wrigley Field on Thursday evening. The game was delayed 58 minutes due to rain in the ninth before eventually being called off. The Cards won behind a tremendous outing from Jeff Suppan and a pair of three-run innings, and with two RBIs each from John Rodriguez and Larry Walker.

The math beyond that, though, is a little fuzzy.

The win was the Cardinals' 94th of the year. Second-place Houston has 68 losses, so the possibility still exists that the Cards and Astros could finish the year with the same record. However, thanks to the Phillies' loss to Atlanta earlier in the evening, all of the other teams in Wild Card contention have at least 69 losses.

So if the Cardinals and Astros finished tied, both teams would be in the playoffs. A tiebreaker -- head-to-head record between the clubs -- would be used to determine which team is the division champ and which is the Wild Card. Because St. Louis is already guaranteed to win the season series against Houston, the Cardinals would be crowned division champions via the tiebreaker. That is to say, in the absolute worst possible scenario for the Cards, they would still be division champions.
However, Tony LaRussa is a purist:
But manager Tony La Russa wants none of it. And the Cardinals did not uncork the champagne following Thursday's win.

"As a team, we're traditional to think that we're not going to get into Wild Card formulas," said La Russa. "The magic number has got to be zero to celebrate. And it's one, right? Trust me, it's one. But because of our record against Houston and all that, technically... But we went through this last year. When it gets to zero, that's when we celebrate."

Len on 09.16.05 @ 07:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Gem...

This one was is a GEM by Bruce Reed (writing for Slate) about ole Child-in-Chief's speechifying: Last Words:

No matter what Bush says, all Americans hear is "disaster."

Very pointed and perceptive... and I love the tie in to "The Far Side" cartoon.

Worth a read through.


Karen on 09.16.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I’m aware that I’ve been sort of nuts about politics this last year. I have always been on the liberal side of things, since Civil Rights days here in the South, but I don’t recall being so rabid as this year. At first I thought it was retirement - more time to think. But that doesn’t feel right. I spent a little time thinking about it while I was gone because, frankly, I myself don’t like people who are as polarized as I’ve been this last year. I don’t like being this way.

Last night, on some news program, someone was talking about the poor governmental response to the hurricane - claiming that it was because Bush doesn’t care about black people. I disagreed with that automatically, but as I thought about it more, my real thought became clearer to me. I don’t think that Bush doesn’t care about black people specifically - I don’t think he cares about anybody, period. Somehow, that thought gave me some peace.

I don’t like his politics, or the politics of the Neoconservatives he lets run our government. I don’t like his tactics, or at least the tactics of his strategist, Mr. Rove. I don’t like his association with the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, whom I consider to be dangerous charlatans. But that’s not where my fire comes from. I just don’t think he personally cares about the job. He might like being president like a rock star likes being on the top of the charts, or a t.v. personality likes having a hit show, but I don’t think he even thinks about the real task very much.
--Abby's Dad

Len on 09.16.05 @ 07:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No...I had not Forgotten...

Rove: Remember That Story?:by Matthew Wheeland (Associate Editor at AlterNet):

“Over at DailyKos, Congressman John Conyers, who has long been one of the most outspoked voices calling for accountability in the Bush Administration, has new developments in the Rove-Plame scandal.

Starting tomorrow and stretching through next week, 4 House Committees are expected to vote on resolutions addressing the Valerie Plame leak. Specifically, these resolutions demand information from the Bush Administration on the outing of Valerie Plame in apparent retaliation for Ambassador Wilson's truth telling concerning weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration refuses to police itself in the midst of criminal and ethical misconduct and it is time for Congress to exercise its duty to oversee the Executive Branch.

Conyers also lists times and websites where you can watch and listen to these discussions, and explains why this is a crucial step:

We have no illusions that the Republicans in Congress are suddenly going to reverse course and start demanding accountability on this, or any other matter, that involves Bush Administration misconduct that is damaging to the nation. However, starting tommorrow, they will have to go on record and explain their votes defending criminal activity on the part of high ranking officials. That is the beginning of congressional accountability.”

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 07:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What happens when you even “try” to verify where that Homeland Security money got spent…

Reason to be insecure over how your security dollars are being spent by Jim Slusher (Editor Daily Herald):

”Trust but verify.

The centuries-old Russian maxim was fitting enough for President Reagan to quote during arms negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s. For American citizens and taxpayers wondering about their safety 20 years later, the federal, state and local governments have, in many cases, condensed the phrase significantly. To them as it relates to Homeland Security spending, the operative phrase is simply: “Trust.”

This lesson is one of the alarming findings of our series this week on Homeland Security spending in the suburbs and state. Yes, there’s room to question whether T-shirts and lunches are justified security expenses. But there is even greater cause for concern in the fact that some governments won’t supply the least information about their Homeland Security spending, and many others drag their feet so long in responding to questions that it can require months of persistence to get simple answers that even Illinois’ lenient freedom of information laws require to be given in at most a couple of weeks.

The city of Chicago, that bastion of honesty and integrity in the stewardship of public money, has received nearly $66 million in Homeland Security money over the past two years and won’t detail how it spent a dime of it. Disclosure of even general expenses, the city says, would jeopardize the effectiveness of the programs on which the money is being spent. The bottom line to the city’s position? “Trust us. We’ll do what’s best for you.”

Have you stopped laughing yet?

If not, perhaps you should look south to the Gulf Coast for an example of how well government unchecked prepares for disasters — terrorist or otherwise. Beyond response problems everyone acknowledges regarding Hurricane Katrina, the Scripps Howard News Service this week cited a federal audit as recent as last November questioning millions of dollars in Louisiana expenses on disaster preparedness — including $15 million distributed to contractors with almost no accounting for where the money went.

Nor must you leave the suburbs for a sobering look at the disdain, if not contempt, in which some officeholders hold those seeking to know how they spend the public’s money. Consider the words of Paul Maplethorpe, fire chief of the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District. “I don’t have to … and I really don’t want to,” Maplethorpe told our reporters after they persisted in trying to get him to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request he had ignored for months. Then, he hung up the phone.

Not all governments were so uncooperative. A few replied promptly to our requests for information on security spending, and some diligently pored over complex budgets and funding records to sort out their security expenses.

But among the many lessons of our research — including the federal government’s pork-prone method of allocating hundreds of millions of dollars and such dubious expenses as the state’s $19 million Emergency Operations Center in Springfield or the duplicative $200,000-a-year hotline for reporting possible animal poisoning — the most frightening is not what you can find out when you investigate the handling of Homeland Security money; it’s what you can’t.

This lesson in open government is conveniently timed for Illinois students. A new federal law requires public schools to teach the U.S. Constitution on Friday — the closest weekday to “Constitution Day” on Sept. 17. As part of our Newspaper In Education effort, the Daily Herald has been contributing to that effort with a monthlong series of mini-reports and activities in our Neighbor section that teachers can use to build and reinforce understanding of the Constitution. Check out what they are learning by jumping on the Web site nie.dailyherald.com.

Perhaps you’ll agree many of our public officials should be sent back to school for a little constitutional review.”

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Think He'll be Voted Valedictorian??

Paris Hilton hacker gets 11 months in jail: Massachusetts teenager will serve his time in a juvenile facility:

”A Massachusetts teenager who reportedly hacked into Paris Hilton’s cell phone account has been sentenced to 11 months in a juvenile facility.

Celebrity phone numbers stored in Hilton’s cell phone were posted online when her account was hacked earlier this year. A Washington Post report on Wednesday identified Hilton as a victim of the 17-year-old Massachusetts boy.
The teenager was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Boston. He pleaded guilty before Judge Rya W. Zobel to nine counts of juvenile delinquency, prosecutors said.
Teenager also made fake bomb threat:

While in custody and during two years of supervised release, the teenager is prohibited from possessing or using any computer, cell phone or other equipment capable of accessing the Internet.

Prosecutors said the teenager’s first crime was committed in March 2004, when he e-mailed a bomb threat to a Florida school. The school was closed for two days while officials investigated and ruled the threat a hoax.

In January, the teenager hacked into T-Mobile’s computer system and looked up account information of its customers, including Hilton....”

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Beer Bottle Lust???

"Bottled lust:

Certain Australian males are physically attracted to a particular type of beer bottle. An experiment in Western Australia has demonstrated that beer bottles known Down Under as "stubbies" get reused in an unanticipated way. Stubbies are squat little bottles, 370ml in capacity.

A study published in 1983 begins with the statement: Male julodimorpha bakewelli (white) were observed attempting to copulate with beer bottles."

Courtesy of Improbable Blog.

Karen on 09.16.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's True... Those Yapping Lap Dogs...

....are the ones that can BITE.

If ya thought us Liberal Lefties were just some poor deluded whiners, Day Dreaming in Technicolor, about the propensity for Child-in-Chief’s entire bAdmin to dissemble and tell the American People outright lies to avoid taking responsibility for mistakes…

Give a read through this one (via BuzzFlash) and listen to this clip on Media Matters from the Chris Matthews Show of David Brooks (NY Times) discussing what he *Knows* of the White House Policy being to not EVER, ever admit any mistakes, nor take responsibility what so ever- No matter how small the mistake.

Now -- Someone, Please Tell ME why anyone should ever believe ANYTHING from these folks. (Or WHY you still DO??)

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 04:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hey wingnuts, Y'know Bush's 'potty break' picture some of y'all claim is fake?

Reuters says it's legit:
The photo, which appeared on Reuters' official photo site, was quickly published all over the Web, though dismissed by some as a likely photoshop special. Others suggested that surely someone must have hacked the Reuters site. But a Reuters spokesman on Thursday told E&P the photo was legit.

"The photographer and editors on this story were looking for other angles in their coverage of this event, something that went beyond the stock pictures of talking heads that these kind of forums usually offer," explained Reuters' Stephen Naru. "This picture certainly does that."

The photo by Denver-based Rick Wilking, taken over a man's shoulder, shows an official -- identified in the caption as President Bush -- scribbling in pencil on a small white piece of paper that already contains the words: "I think I MAY NEED A BATHroom break?" It is unclear if Bush is in the process of responding to that message or wrote it himself.
Look, guys, the Rather gambit's getting old. Not every picture or document that makes Bush look like the pathetic dipshit he is has been faked, ok. So get over it.

[In fairness to the Naked Emperor, I'll note that the differences in writing style between "I think I MAY NEED..." and "Is that possible?" certainly raises a legitimate question of whether Bush is responding to someone else's request. I do find it amusing that immediately, however, the wingnuts jump to the assumption that the picture shows Bush in the worst possible light.

It's sad when even the man's mindless worshippers realize that his reputation is in the toilet and swirling clockwise...]

Len on 09.15.05 @ 02:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Criminals are stupid; that's why they get caught.
--Jon Waltz, Professor of Law, Northwestern University, August, 1979

Woman complains to cops after hitman she hired fails to get the job done

A woman who hired a hitman to murder the wife of her lover, and then complained to police when he didn't do the job, has been arrested along with the hitman, police said.

The murderous intentions of Eriko Kawaguchi, a Tokyo Fire Fighting Department employee, came to light after she complained to police because the hitman didn't carry out the job, although she paid him about 15 million yen.

Len on 09.15.05 @ 01:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Modern Cassandra edition:

We can now safely assert that W. has stacked much of the federal government with people like himself. And what you get when you put people in charge of government who don't believe in government and who are not interested in running it well is ... what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

Many a time in the past six years I have bit my tongue so I wouldn't annoy people with the always obnoxious observation, "I told you so." But, dammit it all to hell, I did tell you, and I've been telling you since 1994, and I am so sick of this man and everything he represents -- all the sleazy, smug, self-righteous graft and corruption and "Christian" moralizing and cynicism and tax cuts for all his smug, rich buddies.

Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
--Molly Ivins

Len on 09.15.05 @ 01:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Gettysburg Address, revised edition

Change that reference to "government of the credit card companies, by the credit card companies, for the credit card companies." "hero", blogging at Corked Bats, points out an interesting bankruptcy fact:

Molly Ivins' column this week that contains the following observation: "hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina [will be] further harmed by the new Bankruptcy Act, scheduled to take effect Oct. 17. This law was notoriously written of, by and for the consumer credit industry, and is particularly onerous for the poor."
Molly's column

Yet, this morning two more major airlines filed for bankruptcy - bringing the total to 4 of the 6 largest airlines now protect by law from their creditors. Watch as they use this license to screw organized labor and raid pension funds. Bankrupt Flyers

Hmmmm. Maybe businesses deserve more protection under the law than individuals?! I dunno, let's ask John Roberts!

Len on 09.15.05 @ 01:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush: When in trouble, SPEND!!!!

But, of course, push for those tax cuts, too.

From Josh Marshall. I agree wholeheartedly with the first three words of this one:

This worries me. Note the added emphasis. The clip comes from a piece in tomorrow's Post about yet another huge funding bill the president will roll out tomorrow for Katrina aid, which the Post says will cost more next year than the entire cost of the Iraq war thus far ...
Bush and Republican congressional leaders, by contrast, are calculating that the U.S. economy can safely absorb a sharp spike in spending and budget deficits, and that the only way to regain public confidence after the stumbling early response to the disaster is to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the region and help Katrina's victims get back on their feet.
Regain public confidence in who? Is the nation undergoing a crisis of confidence in itself?

Put that passage together with this one in Mike Allen's piece in the
Time and I think you see where we're going ...
By late last week, Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later. "Nothing can salve the wounds like money," said an official who helped develop the strategy.
What's driving this budgetary push is not a natural disaster but a
political crisis, the president's political crisis. The White House is trying to undo self-inflicted political damage on the national dime.

You don't have to be a conservative or a budget-hawk to be deeply worried about what's happening here. It's not even a matter of the dollar value in itself, though this country has already been pushed to the budgetary edge and just doesn't have an infinite number of hundreds of billions of dollars it can spend.
But as Josh points out, it's not bad enough that the bAdministration intends to spend all that money, but given the reasons why they're gearing up to spend like that, we can clearly see what's coming (hint: look at how the Iraq war has been bungled):
Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.

You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root
intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming.

Bush seems to be spending like a drunken college freshman with a credit card for which Mommy and Daddy are co-signers:

Len on 09.15.05 @ 12:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Go take a LOOK....

...at which Senators (Republicans – to a person) who Refused to vote "YES" on “S.Amdt. 1660 to H.R. 2862 (Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 )” :

"To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States especially in the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future."

This is for an Independent Commission Folks.

That’s Right!! They voted “NO” for an Independent and Bipartisan Commission to investigate this.

And people ask the question, “Why do you think they are not just doing their Humanly Best, but EVIL?”

Well -- This about as evil, vile, nasty and partisan-ugly (almost) as these Guys get.

If any of these ass-wipes is from your State. Write or call them to Demand they vote to select a fair impartial and Independent and Bipartisan Commission to investigate this issue.

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 11:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And The Tale...

...is Told:

The Emperor’s New Clothes (Remix version 2005).

[And be sure to read a few of the comments. LOL]

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 11:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

7 Wonders...

For those of you who might be *Interested.* (wink)

Here are the results from the Chicago Tribune’s 7 Wonders of Chicago contest and voting tally at this link.


Karen on 09.15.05 @ 09:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Who Pays for What…

A Q&A from Garrison Keillor’s web page A Prairie Home Companion:

"Hi Garrison,
I have listened to and enjoyed Prairie Home Companion for several years. One quick question that one of my co-workers asked is: The tax payers support public radio with their monetary contributions throughout the year. Why then can you make political statements that definitely lean heavily in favor of the Democrats? I am not bothered by this mainly because I too am a Democrat. My co-worker on the other hand is a Republican. Give me your response!

Marilyn Lake

Marilyn, public radio is not supported by taxpayers, as a rule, but by corporate underwriting, the contributions of listeners, and by foundation support. NPR is not government-owned; it is a private, not-for-profit corporation funded primarily by program fees paid by public radio stations and a tiny sliver (about 2%) comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which administers money allocated by Congress for public broadcasting. Some public radio stations get up to 15 percent of their budgets from the CPB, a few stations in rural areas may get more, big-city stations get less. PHC doesn't get any taxpayer money directly. Our income comes from underwriting, program fees, ticket sales, product sales, and so forth, and we've been in the black for most of our history. As for political satire on PHC, it's pretty much an established rule in American life that when you are in power, you are the object of satire. This has been true since the Golden Age of Athens. We don't do much political anything on PHC because I am depressed about the state of the country so I'd rather talk about the weather, my daughter, fishing, Lutheran pastors, tomatoes, anything but politics. Your co-worker is barking up the wrong tree.

-- Garrison Keillor

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Overturning the Gospels: Katrina has reminded us that Christian morality should be about responding to the wretched and loving the unlovable—not about other people’s sex lives, By Melinda Henneberger.

Sept. 14, 2005 - There was a great piece in Harper's last month, "The Christian Paradox: How a Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong'' by Bill McKibben, about how three out of four Americans believe the Bible teaches this: "God helps those who help themselves.'' The Gospel according to Mark? Luke? Actually, it was Ben Franklin who came up with these words to live by.

"The thing is,'' McKibben writes, "not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counterbiblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.''

Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we have seen—and been unable to look away from— the direct result of this self-deception.

And if such tell-me-I'm-dreaming scenes as rats feeding on corpses in the streets—American streets—isn't enough to make us rethink the public-policy implications of turning the Gospel on its head in this way, then truly, God help us.

We as a nation—a proudly, increasingly loudly Christian nation—have somehow convinced ourselves that the selfish choice is usually the moral one, too. (What a deal!) You know how this works: It's wrong to help poor people because "handouts'' reward dependency and thus hurt more than they help. So, do the right thing—that is, walk right on by—and by all means hang on to your hard-earned cash.

Thus do we deny the working poor a living wage, resent welfare recipients expected to live on a few hundred dollars a month, object to the whopping .16 percent of our GNP that goes to foreign aid—and still manage to feel virtuous about all of the above.

Which is how "Christian'' morality got to be all about other people's sex lives—and incredibly easy lifting compared to what Jesus actually asks of us. Defending traditional marriage? A breeze. Living in one? Less so. Telling gay people what they can't do? Piece o' cake. But responding to the wretched? Loving the unlovable? Forgiving the ever-so-occasionally annoying people you actually know? Hard work, as our president would say, and rather more of a stretch.

A lot of us are angry at our public officials just now, and rightly so. But we are complicit, too; top to bottom, we picked this government, which has certainly met our low expectations.

Len on 09.15.05 @ 08:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:

Holding at 2.

That means that the Cardinals head to Chicago for a 4 game series with the Cubs. Even though the Cubs have had a quite successful record against the Cardinals, the probability of at least one Cards win combined with at least one Houston loss makes it quite possible that the Cardinals will clinch the NL Central Division Pennant in Wrigley Field.

I suppose I can live with that. :-)

Meanwhile, both congratulations and sympathy to Houston hurler Roger Clemens. Even though his mother had passed away earlier in the day, Clemens took the mound in his scheduled start and threw 6 1/3 strong innings to get the 10-2 win over the Florida Marlins. The Houston win puts the Marlins and Phillies in a tie for first in the NL Wild Card standings, and puts the Astros only a half game behind in that chase.

Len on 09.15.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

You know that's, that's why our enemy is so frightening, they have no humor. This is a group of people who wander the desert for thousands and thousands of years, and never ran into a knock-knock joke.

You see, if these people had any humor at all, none of this would have happened because no one could have stood in front of them and said that if they killed themselves in the name of Allah, that they would immediately go to heaven and be met by 72 virgins.

No one could have said that because everybody would have known that that's a punchline to a joke.
--Lewis Black

Len on 09.15.05 @ 06:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Another "Gold Star" Mom and The "Truth"

" On Sept. 19, Gold Star Mother Karen Meredith will re-join the Bring Them Home Now Tour that is crossing the country along three routes from Crawford, Texas to Washington, D.C. Last weekend on Sept. 9, Meredith, of Mountain View, Calif., was informed by the U.S. Army that it had known for more than a year that her son 1st Lt. Kenneth Ballard was not killed in action as had been reported. The Army disclosed on Saturday that Ballard, 26, actually died of wounds from the accidental discharge of a M240 machine gun on his tank after his platoon had returned from battling insurgents in Najaf. An Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, said in an interview that separate investigations concluded only days after Ballard's death that it was an accident.

After a meeting with Army representatives, Meredith was heartened by the Army's approach "When I first heard the news I was stunned and appalled that the army took 15 months to tell me the truth about my son's death. After meeting with Army officials I am pleased to say that I feel that I have the ear of the Army. All members of the military that met with me were professional, sympathetic and empathetic," she said. "This, however, is just the beginning. This dialog needs to continue on many levels, starting with the President. There are thousands of families searching for the truth in this war based on lies. I hope the Bush administration and Congress can extend the good will the Army has showed me, by being accountable to the thousands of other families like mine whose lives have been ripped apart by this unjustifiable war."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 05:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About those responsibilities...

... and speechifying.

"... The wording of the president's statement on Tuesday was important, and at least a bit worrisome. Mr. Bush accepted responsibility "to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right," which may suggest that he thinks the jury is still out on what the federal government's role should have been. Obviously, it will take time to completely analyze all of the federal system failures, and no one imagines that the city and state were perfectly prepared for the disaster. But we certainly hope that the president was not taking responsibility for a government that he doesn't really think was responsible.

Localities have plenty of duties that are uniquely their own, and if a building catches on fire or a sewer pipe breaks, no one blames the president if the response isn't adequate. But no one community, or even any one state, can protect against hurricanes or vast flooding, any more than a city or state can protect itself against international terrorism.

It would be wonderful if the president would take the opportunity tonight to endorse an independent inquiry into the Katrina disaster, similar to the 9/11 commission's work. It would also be heartening if Mr. Bush announced that from now on, the federal government, which pays the bill for flood control projects, would make sure that the most important priorities were taken care of first - even if it required the kind of commission used to arbitrate Pentagon base closings to make sure that Congressional pork didn't trump necessity. It would be amazing if Mr. Bush really showed his sense of responsibility for this disaster by apologizing for stuffing the Federal Emergency Management Agency with inexperienced political appointees..."

-- NY Times Op Ed: Hopeful Words: On Taking Responsibility.

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]


...and I've said this before, Babbling Brooks gets it JUST RIGHT as this excerpt from his piece, Ready? Cue, The Sun... shows:

"... Specter: Very well put, Senator Leahy! And welcome Judge Roberts back before our committee.

John Roberts Jr.: Aw, shucks. This has been a humbling experience, Mr. Chairman. To think that a boy from an exclusive prep school and Harvard Law could grow up and be nominated for the Supreme Court - it shows how in America it's possible to rise from privilege to power! That's the hallmark of our great nation.

So while, of course, I can't talk about specific cases, or any emotions, weather patterns or sandwich meats that may come before the Supreme Court at any time between now and my death in 2048, I do want to reiterate that I feel humbled by this experience. I feel humbled that my wife is dozing off behind me. I feel humbled by this committee's inability to lay a glove on me. And I feel modest. You see this suit? I skinny-dip in this suit. That's how modest I feel.

Tom Coburn: Well put, Judge Roberts. Yet when I think of the polarization that still divides this great nation ... waaaahhhh ... waaaahhhh. (Senator Coburn breaks down weeping.)

Jeff Sessions: This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don't write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.

Specter Senator Sessions:, let me interrupt you right there. We're not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We're here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee. So let me turn to Senator Bid - -

Coburn: And when I think of the flaws in the reconciliation process! And the gerrymandering! Oh, the suffering! Oh, the humanity! Waaaahhhh ... waaaahhhh. (Senator Coburn collapses and is taken back to his office on a stretcher.)..."

But, as Len has so often observed this 'ole chestnut - "Even a blind pig finds and acorn every once in a while."

It is still a GEM of Funnie. :-)

Karen on 09.15.05 @ 05:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Roiling debates...

We’ve been having *those* debates about whether Bush is to blame for funding cuts to the NOLA levees via the Army Corps of Engineers. Fact Check has done a good run down of this issue:

"Our fact-checking confirms that Bush indeed cut funding for projects specifically designed to strengthen levees. Indeed, local officials had been complaining about that for years.

It is not so clear whether the money Bush cut from levee projects would have made any difference, however, and we're not in a position to judge that. The Army Corps of Engineers – which is under the President's command and has its own reputation to defend – insists that Katrina was just too strong, and that even if the levee project had been completed it was only designed to withstand a category 3 hurricane.

We suspect this subject will get much more attention in Congress and elsewhere in the coming months. Without blaming or absolving Bush, here are the key facts we've been able to establish so far..."

Read further for the detailed analysis and citations.

I sent Fact Check a query to see if they will answer a bit further on the ACE and their responsibilities and duties.

The ongoing debate is to how much say and/or control a State has in the say of the AEC’s projects (and budgeting and responsibility for work done) and whether these influence the AEC’s priorities, OR if the AEC tell the States what must be done per their engineering designs and specification, and the AEC that controls its own budget and responsibilities. Thus to further answer WHO is more responsible for the condition and design (and failure) of the NOLA levees.

I check later and see if they answer that one.


Karen on 09.15.05 @ 05:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About Those Warranties...

Ryan Bryce had a good tale of his PC dealings and Why Not to purchase an extended warranty.


Karen on 09.15.05 @ 04:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Theories abound…

...And questions remain as to where was ole “Dick-Yourself” the past few weeks…

Nora Ephron has a theory:

Where was the Vice President?

You’ll be happy to hear that I have a theory. Is it possible that the President and the Vice President have fallen out?

The relationship between Cheney and Bush has always reminded me of a moment I witnessed in the movie business many years ago. I had written a script for an actress, and she had decided she wanted to direct it. This was a terrible idea, because she was famous for dithering, but there was no question that the studio would make the movie if she directed it. “Don’t worry about it,” the producer of the movie said to me when I asked if she was remotely capable of directing a movie. “We can walk her through it.”

It’s always been clear to me that five years ago, when all those Republican guys got together and realized that George Bush could be elected president – and that he wasn’t remotely capable – they came to an understanding: they would walk him through it. I’m sure it seemed like a swell idea, especially because it meant that they’d be in a perfect position to convince him to do all sorts of exciting things they had always wanted to do.

Cheney was the point man…

But if you look at the chart in Sunday's New York Times, which tells you who was where when Katrina struck, Cheney doesn’t even get a listing. It’s Bush, Chertoff, Brown. Bush I and Bill Clinton were summoned to help. But Cheney didn’t even turn up back in Washington until last week, when he was sent off for a day of spouting platitudes while touring the flood zone.

Like the curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark in the famous Sherlock Holmes story, Cheney’s the missing person in this event, and one has to wonder why. If he were a woman, I would guess he’d been busy recovering from a face-lift, but he’s not. So I can only suppose that something has gone wrong. Could the President be irritated that Cheney helped con him into Iraq? Oh, all right, probably not. Could Cheney – and not just his aides -- possibly be involved in the Valerie Plame episode? Is Cheney not speaking to Karl Rove? Does the airplane/bicycle incident figure into this in any way? And how is it possible that the President is off on vacation and the Vice President is too? Not that it matters that much if the President is on vacation; on some level, the President is always on vacation. But where was Cheney?

Karen on 09.14.05 @ 02:06 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, What Else...

...Would you expect???

My computer geek score is greater than 27% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Overall, you scored as follows:

72% scored higher (more computer geeky),
1% scored the same, and
27% scored lower (less geeky).
Compared to those in the same age group as you:

82% scored higher (more computer geeky),
0% scored the same, and
18% scored lower (less geeky).
What does this mean? Your computer geekiness is:

You are a wannabe computer user, but, alas, that is not possible with you.

Couldn't resist taking this via Len's post...and just to round out the whole profile:

I am 47% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!

Overall, you scored as follows:

47% are cooler, and
53% are more of a loser than you.
What does this mean?

You're cooler than half the people! Great work!

So there ya have it: I'm a A Kooler Than Average Computer Geek Wannabe.

[Or maybe that's a "Kooler Than The Median Techno-Dweeb" *sigh*]


Karen on 09.14.05 @ 01:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why I will never vote for Harold Ford, Jr. for any office....

not even dogcatcher.

Seems to me that this is a no-brainer.... It's already been pointed out that many victims of Hurricane Katrina will be adversely affected in their ability to be relieved of their debts through bankruptcy protection, thanks to the draconian bankruptcy "reform" laws passed by the GOP with the help of fellow travellers like Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., my [puking noises here] "representative" in Congress.

Now, CG at Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This informs us:

Go to www.conyersblog.us... for the list of Congressmen that co-sponsored John Conyers Katrina Bankruptcy Relief Bill to protect the victims of Katrina. Congressman Ford, Jr. is not on the list of 31 co sponsors.
CG lists some other ways in which, measured by reasonable standards, Ford falls short in his support of what the Democratic party stands for.

Fuck Harold. As I've said before, at this point he's not representing me any better than the (undoubtedly victorious) GOP candidate will. So WTF should I vote for him?

Give me a real choice, dammit! Not a choice between a Republican who doesn't hide the fact he's a Republican, and a Republican who lies to me by telling me he's a Democrat.

Len on 09.14.05 @ 01:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

About fscking time!

Via EJ at Cherry Blossom Special: reports say that the state of Tennessee is about to shut down "Love in Action", the Tennessee based homosexual re-education camp, for lack of state licensure.

What the fsck took them so long?

Len on 09.14.05 @ 12:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The problem with regularly reading The Onion....

is that lately it's become more and more difficult to distinguish satire from reality. But our pals at The Onion still have their edge:

Bush Nominates First-Trimester Fetus To Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, DC—In a press conference Monday, President Bush named a 72-day-old gestating fetus as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat that opened following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

"Already, this experienced and capable embryo has demonstrated during his or her
in utero existence a deep commitment to the core principles of the Constitution," Bush said. "It is with great pride that I nominate this unborn American patriot to the highest court in the land."

If confirmed by Congress, the bean-sized vertebrate would be the nation's first prenatal Supreme Court justice.
And this one deserves a mention, too: Halliburton Gets Contract To Pry Gold Fillings From New Orleans Corpses' Teeth

Len on 09.14.05 @ 12:32 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Over at MadKane's place....

We have the promised "Part 2" of "The NY Blogger Interviews" (including an interview with Steve Gilliard of The News Blog, the "Blogger (other than the lovely and multitalented MadKane, of course) I'd Most Like To Meet In Person"), and two new John Roberts Limericks (and, of course, the statutorily required audio version).

Len on 09.14.05 @ 12:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


[The Cardinals won 5-4, on a walk-off RBI single by David Eckstein, while Houston dropped their game with the Marlins, 4-2.

Now I'm really torn. Remember, I've voiced here my desire that Houston win the NL wild card, which would guarantee the Cardinals a fairly stress-free NL Divisional Series against the winner of the NL WorstWest. However, if the Cardinals win their game this afternoon, and Houston loses theirs tonight, the Cardinals would clinch the National League Central Division Title at home, which would be a most appropriate way to close out (almost) the final season at Busch Stadium II. (The Cards leave for Chicago and a two week road trip after this afternoon's game, so if the Cards don't clinch at home today they most likely clinch on the road somewhere. Come to think of it though, if they don't clinch at home today, it would be most sweet if they'd clinch at Wrigley Field this weekend... heheheheheh.)

The problem with the Cards clinching today in St. Louis is that means that Houston drops three straight games to the Florida Marlins, who they led in the wild card race going into the Marlins series. Now, after two losses to the Fish, the Disastros are now third in the wild card standings, a game and a half behind Florida and a half-game behind Philadelphia. Even worse, after this losing streak the Baseball Prospectus Postseason Odds Rankings now says that it's a better than even chance (roughly a 56% chance) that the NL wild card team will be one of either Florida or Philadelphia (if Houston loses their game tonight, obviously, the odds of Houston winning the wild card become even longer). This means that we'd probably play the wild card team in the NLDS, which wouldn't be the easy romp that a series against the NL WorstWest champion would be.

*sigh* Why does life have to be so complicated?]

Len on 09.14.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I still have a valid teaching license. But if parents see me with a kid, they'll want to call 911.
--Ron "The Hedgehog" Jeremy, noted porn actor [on the fact that, prior to his adult film career, he was a secondary school special-education teacher]

Len on 09.14.05 @ 06:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And Speaking of Homeland Security…

...We were…weren’t WE??? There was this story from our own Daily Herald How hand of politics moves anti-terrorism dollars by John Patterson.

Given that the Child-in-Chief has *finally* admitted he *might* have some questions about our ability to respond to a future disaster at all levels of government - it might be interesting to have a recap of how this money already been allocated by our Congress - for our protection.

Unfortunately, the Daily Herald does not have the charts and inset-boxes of additional information available on-line. But the numbers are Stunning - as to *stunningly outrageous* in having no relationship to actual Terrorist THREATs or NEED for spending per person, per state. Bleh!!

Click on the “more” button to read this piece in full.

Karen on 09.14.05 @ 06:44 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

A Few Good Questions...

…from Yellow Dog:

”…I have forwarded some follow-up questions to the Ipsos organization. I'm hoping they will use these questions for the next presidential approval poll and ask them of the respondents who still approve of the job Bush is doing as president:

1. Who dresses you in the morning?
2. Do you use common utensils when you eat?
3. Which of these items is different from the others? a) Cup b) Plate c) Bowl or d) Porcupine
4. Do you take your medication before answering polls?
5. If a car is going 60 miles per hour, how far will it go in one hour?
6. How many words are in your vocabulary? Please be exact.
7. Do you steer your car with the big wheel in front of the driver's seat or with one of the pedals on the floor?
8. Which goes “woof,” a doggie or a kitty?
9. In what state is the Kentucky Derby held?
10. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being President Bush and one being a rock, just how stupid are you?

It is my belief that these questions will provide some granularity on the intellect of people still responding positively to questions on George W. Bush's job performance.”

Karen on 09.14.05 @ 06:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises here.

My computer geek score is greater than 86% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Hat tip (sorta) to Phil Harwell and his Blog Type Thing, who linked to another quiz at the same site.

UPDATE: And because I said I would (post this if I got the score that I did get):

I am 94% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!

Len on 09.13.05 @ 08:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Everyone KNOWs by now that the Ole Prez is a Fan of nicknames. Why he’ll create ‘em on the spur of the moment for almost everything and everyone he ever meets, whether they Like-it-or-not…

We’ve had a few for him and his bAdmin henchmen used here on DBV over time, but I’ve got to change these given the past events.

Instead of *Fearless Leader*, *Gee Whiz* or *Dumbya*, which I think are way toooo…dull...and not quite reflective of the substance we are working with; I’m going to go with “Child–in-Chief” from now on.

Captures the essence more closely of his immaturity in leadership.

For ole Darth (as he fancies himself) is forever coupled with the catch phrase “Go F—ck Yourself”, that he cultivated a few years back. So, as a combination, I’ll hence forth refer to him as “Dick-Yourself.”

Kinda works for me. LOL

Karen on 09.13.05 @ 04:35 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Better Belated Than Never???

Well, Well, Well puts it , Ummm...Very Well...

Via Talking Points Memo is this about about the Conyers requested:

"report from the Congressional Research Service (one of the few parts of the government that can legitimately be called non-partisan) and asked them to review the record to see whether Gov. Blanco of Louisiana took the necessary steps in a timely fashion to secure federal assistance in the face of hurricane Katrina.

So, that must be WHY the Child-in-Chief [CIC] coughs up a belated admission and issues an “To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

Ah, so it's "To the extent...", CIC fairly gags on a real acceptance of responsibility.

UPDATE: also via Talking Points Memo is this GEM about John Kerry's response to the CIC admission:
"John Kerry has a good line today on the president's responsibility moment: "The President has done the obvious, only after it was clear he couldn’t get away with the inexcusable."

Karen on 09.13.05 @ 04:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Us and Them (revisted)...

...A Picture Meme Grow:

Driftglass has posted a pointer to a reworking of the photomontage he created (now scrolled off his page and unavailable):

“…You may or may not know that I put together a photomontage of current events set to Pick Floyd’s “Us and Them” which apparently really touched a nerve.

And you may or may not know that reader Joe Max set it to the actual music and made it dance.

But what I didn’t know until today was that reader Taps7734 also turned his hand to the task of making the pictures move and sing, and created a fine and tonally different movie of his own…”

But you can see it at Live Journal from Taps 7734

OR-- Here with a large wmv media file or here with a small wmv media file

It incredible and really movingly. A wonderful piece of work -- Job well done -- Both in the original post and this follow up set to music.

Keep ‘em coming Guys…we love it!!! Awesome and Kool.


Karen on 09.13.05 @ 03:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Maher's New Rule gets it exactly right....

From the September 9, 2005 Real Time with Bill Maher:

And finally, New Rule: America must recall the president. That's what this country needs. A good, old-fashioned, California-style recall election! Complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses and action film stars. And just like Schwarzenegger's predecessor here in California, George Bush is now so unpopular, he must defend his jog against...Russell Crowe. Because at this point, I want a leader who will throw a phone at somebody. In fact, let's have only phone throwers. Naomi Campbell can be the vice-president!

Now, I kid, but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."

Len on 09.13.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Welfare Government...

Oh, and speaking of Poverty and the Welfare state [We were, weren’t WE??...] Here a couple from a few more Myopic Morons who just have to defend the GOP party line come Hell or High Water (apparently Both will suffice.)

The main disconnect appears to be how each side is using the “Welfare Government” argument -- and coming to the opposite conclusion. In a nut shell it’s this:

The “Right-wingers” argument is that the “welfare government” spawned such an overweening “moral decay” which resulted in the actions of few of the the trapped people in NOLA and the looting, violence, depravity. That the Welfare aid over the year has only enabled this decay. That this is the real HARM, according to this theory. Not the physical failure of the levees... but the Welfare Culture. That the government dollars to aid the poor has created “an oppressed mentality of culture” that left them passive an unprepared to help themselves or others, “trapped” in NOLA.

The “Left-wingers” view is that welfare government is responsible for the NOLA trap by the increase in poverty over the past bAdmin years, increasing the poverty rate overall. and in NOLA this meant decreasing their mobility, availability to get Media Notice of the mandatory evacution via Television, internet , Phone, etc., which resulted in leaving them (the majority of the poor who were unable to evacuate) more vulnerable to this situation.

The argument flows (from the Right-wingers) that $$ invested in the Welfare Culture that Should have been spent on the NOLA levee instead, that is the reason that leveee failed. Not, as the Left-wingers contend that it’s the larger issues, such as $$$$$ “invested” in Iraq and that war, or in tax cuts primarily skewed for the weathly, or the boondoggles of Pork laden bills like the recent Energy Bill that regularly passes muster at the highest levels of Government.

So click on the “more” button to read these pieces…and ya’ll know why I could find a few more “Go F—K Yourselves” to pass out this week-- to Lee P. Rodgers, Robert Tracinski, Mark Steyn, and Thomas Sowell.

[Plus – Please take NOTE of Mr. Rodgers “Economist” Credentials to opine on this Economic Topic:
"Lee P. Rodgers is medical director at TerraHealth Inc. in San Antonio. He earned his M.D. at Tulane University in New Orleans and served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 31 years."]

These are each long pieces, but as you wander through them (no hurries) you'll begin to see the narrative take place.

Karen on 09.13.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Great Days in St. Louis Baseball History:

From Baseball Library:


>> The Cards play a rare doubleheader—the first in the 20th century—with two different teams, defeating the Giants 6–4 in the first game in the afternoon when they score six runs against Sal Maglie in the 2nd inning. In the nitecap, against the Braves, the Cards manage just one hit—by pitcher Al Brazle—in losing to Warren Spahn, 2–0. The Cards total attendance is 8,865—4,160 for the Giants and 4,705 for the Braves.

Len on 09.13.05 @ 12:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations to Barry "Not a Carbon Based Lifeform" Bonds....

who returned to the playing field last night. For a minute there, it looked like he hit homer #704, but umpring has gotten a bit better in the last (almost) 9 years, so the fan's deflecting the ball out of the park was correctly ruled fan interference this time.

UPDATE: The Billy-Ball email newsletter has a number of new nicknames for Bonds:

Do you get the feeling that Bill Chuck ("Billy-Ball, his ownself") doesn't exactly, um, like Mr. Bonds?

Len on 09.13.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

Dr. Science's Question of the Day:

Q. Dear Dr. Science,
What was Uncle Ben's rice before it was converted?
--from Marlene of Zionsville, IN

A. Uncle Ben was one of the first Unitarians, a dogma-free religion that pretty much lets you believe whatever you want, and will defend your right to believe it. Before he adopted this remarkably even-handed approach to matters of faith, Uncle Ben was an elder in the Church of the Practically Insane, a mind-control cult that ran a string of Nudist camps in Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri. The rice connection came from a bet he once made with an agnostic. Uncle Ben claimed he was such a good preacher that he could even convert rice. His attempts to convert a bowl of white basmati rice caused the personal epiphany that led Uncle Ben to abandon his current belief system and embrace the relative tolerance of Unitarianism.

Len on 09.13.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Partisan Myopia?!?

The Babbling Mr. Brooks, defying his Lap-Doggerie pedigree and biting the bAdmin in its' nether regions a few days ago, has suggested taking the NOLA disaster as an “opportunity” to reduce poverty in the US –

“…The Clinton administration built on Gautreaux by creating the Moving to Opportunity program, dispersing poor families to middle-class neighborhoods in five other metropolitan areas. This time the results weren't as striking, but were still generally positive. The relocated parents weren't more likely to have jobs or increase their earnings (being close to job opportunities is not enough - you need the skills and habits to get the jobs and do the work), but their children did better, especially the girls…”

But what ole Babbles neglects to mention (and what none of the right wing pundits are admitting) is that Poverty has GROWN under the Child-in-Chief and their GOP Congressional controlled policies.

[or see this report here on Poverty Threshold v Poverty Guideline.]

So, as Fascinating a Revelation and Startling as this may come as a Surprise to most Supply-side Economists and Social Conservatives: Poverty in the US…Do Tell

But to forget that it's proximal cause is not divorced from, the actual GOP agenda is absurd.

And for all this GOP “pat-on-the-back” talk about “NO Child Left Behind” as some achievement in educational goals to be met… this is the program brought to you (and underfunded) by the same Mental-Midget that said:

“Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about…Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

But I.D. is NOT about teaching about some “debate” in a philosophy class that is being pushed forward. It's about changing the very rules for the definition of SCIENCE for teaching scientic inquiry in a science classroom. And I.D. not even a “curriculum” to Teach!!!

The real problem is with the right-wing punditry of *education* proponents acting as if a good education is this country is separate from the funding that varies State to State, local to local, as to the quality of it. Or the poverty of the families who send their children to local schools. To forget these things go hand in hand, and to not want to discuss these GOP policies from a Republican controlled Congress of the past 10 years, and Republican Presidential Agenda for the past 5 years - to avoid being seen as critical of the old “base” and policies you’ve supported all along - is the quintessential Myopia of all time.

All I can say is: GET at New pair of glasses, David Brooks!!! The ones ya have don’t work any more!!!

Karen on 09.13.05 @ 08:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Further comment would be superfluous

Len on 09.13.05 @ 08:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And from the WhiteHouse.org site...


BARBARA BUSH: Attention Great Unwashed Refugees of New Orleans! You know, this truly is the perfect time of year for you downtroddens to spend a few months vacationing in Houston while your homes are bulldozed into the Gulf. After all, it is so hot and miserable here that most normal folks will be indoors, so your unsightly loitering will barely be noticed! Honestly, I'm not sure which so-and-so invited you people, but now that you are here – which is sort of scary – I guess I might as well grit my dentures and wish you a "Happy Temporary Welcome to Texas!" Trust me: you'll love it so much here, you won't want to leave when we force you out!

Anyway, until then, here are some accommodations I suspect you'll probably like:

1. Overpasses: Featuring some of the most epically congested traffic in the nation, Houston has among the best overpasses you can unroll your sleeping bag or park your shopping cart under. With Tommy "Teflon" DeLay's constituents driving Beemers and Jags, you won't find any federally funded mass transit here. Most overpasses sport at least 20 lanes, so leaks are kept to a minimum, meaning standing puddles and hallucinating Catholics are as well. You'll wake up with fewer mosquito bites than you would riding the St. Charles trolley to the mansions you used to clean. Rats are a different matter, but I've heard that if you keep the fatback at least six feet from your bedding, you should be OK. And Houston rats don't have that pesky cholera.
Go follow the link to see the rest of Bar's guide...

Len on 09.13.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Now, don't envy President Bush's vacations--Join him!

From our pals at Landover Baptist Church (Where The Worthwhile Worship. "Unsaved are not welcome (as Jesus commanded)"™), we get word of this opportunity: Win a Vacation With President Bush!

A Special Offer From the US Department of Faith

Seven Luxury Slots Available! Enter Now to Win!

This exclusive offer is reserved for Republican friends of Jesus Christ and His anointed, duly appointed ruler of the civilized world, (pictured below) President George W. Bush:

Did you know that in order to demonstrate His indefatigable readiness and leadership, our infallible Christian President limits Himself to a mere dozen vacations each year, some of them lasting fewer than five weeks?!
It’s true! And with a such a grueling calendar, it’s truly a miracle that our Godly President can maintain His legendary between-naps stamina!

Of course, Presidential outings are luxurious, highly exclusive affairs with very short guest lists. Sometimes, even the President’s closest Saudi Arabian friends cannot join him – let alone common sub-royal rabble such ourselves.

But not anymore – because for the first time ever, the US Department of Faith has been tasked with conducting a nationwide sweepstakes to find seven lucky winners to enjoy the President's company on future taxpayer-financed, month-long escapes from the fetid liberal cesspool that is Washington DC – and it could be YOU! So don’t delay – enter TODAY!

Len on 09.13.05 @ 07:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


[The Cardinals won in the bottom of the 9th last night with a gripping, pinch-hit RBI single by John Rodriguez against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our sympathies to Mark Mulder, who gutted out a 9 hit outing while allowing only 2 earned runs (and gaining a no-decision for his trouble), and congratulations to Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen who notches his first win of the season *snicker*. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros drop a game to the Florida Marlins, so the number goes down by 2.

Now I'm really torn. If the Cardinals win their next two games (against the Pirates), and the Astros lose their next two (against the Marlins), the Cardinals would clinch the National League Pennant at home, which would be a nice little gift for the loyal fans in the last season of Busch Stadium II. However, the Astros' loss to the Marlins (who were just behind them in the wild card race before the first pitch in their game last night) puts them a half-game behind the Marlins in the wild card standings, and I'm worried that two more losses to the Marlins would take the momentum out of the Astros' wild card bid (right now, Baseball Prospectus's postseason odds rankings have the 'stros as the 50-50 favorite for the NL wild card slot). The Astros making the wild card would mean that the Cardinals would face the NL West Champion (probably the San Diego Padres, who are currently barely afloat atop that division at 71-71) in the National League Divisional Series, which would make for a likely stress-free NLDS for the Cards.]

Len on 09.13.05 @ 07:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A few exits up, I catch up with a company from the 82nd Airborne Division. Lt. Col. Troy Stephenson tells me they spotted an abandoned van a few days ago with "KILL THE WHITE BITCHES" painted on the side. "You can kind of gather there was some ethnic tension," he says. Stephenson says his men have had much more success in fishing people out of these poor, black neighborhoods than the New Orleans police. Stephenson says the local police often take fire from holdouts when they send rescue crews in, but his men haven't been shot at once. Maybe that's because the relationship between the NOPD and the black community is so fraught. But maybe it's just because the Army guys have gigantic automatic weapons.
--Josh Levin, "Dispatches from New Orleans"

Len on 09.13.05 @ 06:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, over at River City Mud Company....

autoegocrat, the proprietor of the RCMCo., has most excellent post on "the blame game":

Okay, let me get this straight, folks. This is not the time to point fingers, but it's all the fault of the governor and the mayor? We aren't going to play the blame game, except where it concerns the only two Democrats involved?

Come on, conservatives. Surely you can see through this.

How many times have you heard the phrase "state and local government" in the last week? How many times have you heard the phrase "blame game?" Have you ever heard two phrases repeated more often by more people in your life? Can anyone remember a hurricane in their lives that caused these phrases to appear so frequently on television?

Of course not. This is an obvious attempt at a snowjob.


Conservatives, let's please be honest here. This is literally a matter of life and death. It's not as if you've never seen a hurricane before. If the blame doesn't go to the top, then why is Joe Scarborough, formerly a Republican congressman from Florida, being asked by other Republicans to back off criticism of the president?

The President of the United States broke the record for the longest number of presidential vacation days while the largest natural disaster in history wiped out whole American cities in three states. It took him three days after the storm made landfall to come back to work. That is not the state and local government's fault.

When an entire American city was drowning, the Vice President went fishing. When thousands of Americans were made homeless, the Vice President was busy closing on a $2.9 million mansion in Chesapeke Bay. You can't blame that on a mayor or a governor.

Len on 09.12.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Did Fark sponsor a Hurricane Katrina photoshopping contest...

and nobody bothered to tell me?

While catching up on my blogreading, I saw this over at The Flypaper Theory:

Of course, that's one for the books, along with the infamous George "Guitarzan" Bush picture:

Len on 09.12.05 @ 12:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, we haven't tried this in Memphis yet....

Last Saturday night in New York City it appears that they had a big blogger get together just like the periodic Blogger Bashes here in Memphis. One difference--they seem to have theirs at people's houses (if I'm remembering the last couple rundowns I've read), whereas here in Memphis we tend to convene at bars or restaurants. Anyway, Elayne Riggs has a photo spread of the dignified insurrection at her site, while MadKane, ever on the cutting edge, has a mess o'audio clips of various bloggers in attendance (and that's just Part The First; she'll be posting the second batch tomorrow).

Len on 09.12.05 @ 12:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

Received via email:

Q: What is George W. Bush's position on Roe v. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

Len on 09.12.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]


As a fan, you want the members of your favorite team to be friendly and get along well with each other. But now and then you run into something that raises your eyebrows:

Judging from the uniform numbers (and the face shots on the roster pages at the Official St. Louis Cardinals website), this looks like Jason Marquis (#21) and Jim Edmonds (#15). I'm open to correction if anyone has a stronger argument that it's another pair of Cardinals. Also, I don't know if this is from this season or last season, though it's clear it can't be any earlier than last season (since the Cards acquired Marquis as part of the J.D. Drew trade before the 2004 season).

Len on 09.12.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And BTW...

I thought Bill Maher on Friday’s Real Time (HBO) was just making a flying-by-seat-of-his-pants wisecrack about Celebs getting their ‘Catch-Phrases’ thrown back at them from the public in reference to the NOLA incident involving Darth’s visit and the “GO F--K YOUR SELF” shouted from the audience.

But here is part of the actual incident as related in a news story about the "shoutee," Dr. Ben Marble:

"I am no fan of Mr. Cheney because of several reasons," Marble wrote. "For those who don't know, Mr. Cheney is infamous for telling Senator [Pat] Leahy 'go fu** yourself' on the Senate floor. Also, I am not happy about the fact that thousands have died due to the slow action of FEMA, not to even mention the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, i.e. Iraq."

As he stood about 10 feet away from Cheney and his friend and some camera operators from CNN and other media filmed the scene, Marble suddenly yelled, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney! Go fuck yourself, you asshole!"

Hey, at least Marble was polite. After all, he referred to Cheney as “Mr. Cheney.”

"I had no intention of harming anyone but merely wanted to echo Mr. Cheney's infamous words back at him," Marble wrote. "At that moment, I noticed the Secret Service guys with a panic-stricken look on their faces, like they were about to tackle me, so I calmly walked away back to my former house."

[Emphasis mine]

So - Maher was right on target in his quip. Oh, and BTW Darth; GO F--K YOUR SELF!!!

Click on the link to read more background of that story about Dr. Marble and how he was treated by the Secret Service.

Courtesy of Jackson Thoreau (OPED NEWS): Physician who told Cheney to go F*ck Himself Lost his Home in Katrina, Detained, Cuffed by Cheney's M-16-carrying Goons.

Karen on 09.12.05 @ 08:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Don't know whether to laugh or cry....

This "headline" from Ironic Times sounds too true to be completely humorous:

Baghdad Falls to Insurgents, Saddam Freed, Returned to Power
Water, electricity turned back on, women's rights restored, streets safe again.
This, however, isn't funny, it's just a simple statement of fact:
NFL Season Begins
Public's interest in hurricane relief, Supreme Court, Iraq ends.
This one, however, is over-the-top enough to be funny:
Barbara Bush Makes Another Comment About Hurricane
Wonders if warm winter coat couldn't be made from abandoned puppies.

Len on 09.12.05 @ 07:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Up and Coming Flicks...

Well in addition to Wallace and Gromit [and additional detail which can be seen Here] due out this fall, is some background on the making of the next Tim Burton Flick: "Corpse Bride” at this link.

Plus a preview of the next three villains for the Spider Man 3™ Movie over This website.

Can’t Wait to see a few of these Movies in the Theater.


Karen on 09.12.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm.... and would this work to increase recruitment in the U.S.?

Of course, the thing is that the Navy, according to my best sources, isn't exactly hurting for recruits right now (it's the Army and Marines that have the most trouble, for reasons that a moment's contemplation makes apparent).

But this purports to be an actual recruiting ad for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (Flash required).

Of course, some sources say that The Village People's "In the Navy" was supposed to be a recruiting song for the U.S. Navy, until someone in the Navy Personnel Command/Bureau of Naval Personnel got a bit spooked by the seeming homoerotic undertones..... Which makes an interesting morning's contemplation (for those of us not looking to leap into work this Monday morning. Which would be more effective a recruitment tool? This Japanese song and dance number, or "In the Navy"?

Len on 09.12.05 @ 06:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Significant days in American literary history:

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Henry Louis Mencken, "the Sage of Baltimore". A few of Mencken's bon mots:

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

If experience teaches us anything at all, it teaches us this: that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Len on 09.12.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the YIKES Files…

”…Aaron Balick expected to find a tiny mouse stirring around behind the TV in his apartment.

"Thinking it was a mouse, I went to investigate the sound," Balick said Wednesday. "The sound was coming from under some papers which I lifted, expecting to see the mouse scamper away.

"Instead, when I lifted the papers, I saw this prehistoric-looking animal skitter away behind a stack of books."

Instead, he found a venomous giant centipede that somehow made its way from South America to Britain.

centipede (18k image)

He trapped the 9-inch-long creature between a stack of books and put it in a plastic container.
The centipede has front claws that are adapted to deliver venom when it stings, which can lead to a blistering rash, nausea and fever. The sting is rarely life-threatening, though.

Courtesy of Canadian Press via Improbable Blog.

Karen on 09.12.05 @ 06:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


[The Mets beat the Cardinals yesterday, 7-2, but the number still falls because the Astros fell short in their match against the Milwaukee Brewers, losing 4-2.]

Len on 09.12.05 @ 05:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Hurricane Katrina has delivered a painful but important warning. In ways similar to the 9/11 attacks four years ago, it demonstrates that U.S. power, however great, is not to be confused with invulnerability. In addition, U.S. power, however great, is still limited. And U.S. power, however great, cannot be taken for granted. In the end, American power is a reflection of the strength of the American economy and the cohesion of American society. Any country must balance what it allocates for guns and what for butter; the United States is no exception. Although we are wealthy enough to fund both, we are not wealthy enough to fund both to the extent we are now doing and to keep taxes as low as they are. Something will have to give.
--Richard N. Haass

Len on 09.12.05 @ 05:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

H. A. Rey, prophet of our times

Thirty-two years ago, H. A. Rey had a vision:

Curious George coverBush and Firefighers

Here's further evidence of Rey's precognition.

Thomas Nephew.)

Brock on 09.11.05 @ 04:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Compare and Contrast...

… The *almost president* we COULD have had: Former Vice President Al Gore's heroic efforts:

Gore airlifts victims from New Orleans:

"…On September 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Simon learned that Dr. David Kline, a neurosurgeon who operated on Gore's son, Albert, after a life-threatening auto accident in 1989, was trying to get in touch with Gore. Kline was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

"The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute -- food and water running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and ... corpses outside," Simon wrote.

Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the $50,000 each for the two flights, although Larry Flax, founder of California Pizza Kitchens, later pledged to pay for one of them.
"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews," Simon wrote of the American Airlines flights. "One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them."

He also recruited two doctors, Spickard and Gore's cousin, retired Col. Dar LaFon, a specialist in internal medicine who once ran the military hospital in Baghdad.

Most critically, Gore worked to cut through government red tape, personally calling Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Tennessee's support and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta to secure landing rights in New Orleans.

About 140 people, many of them sick, landed in Knoxville on September 3. The second flight, with 130 evacuees, landed the next day in Chattanooga.

And this commentary on the Child-in-Chief we do have.

Click on the “more” button to read an excerpt from another Driftglass commentary. Driftglass is just so evocative of the despair and unmitigated anger so many of us feel at the failure of our hopes, prayer, wishes, dreams - that our country wouldn’t be left with this Child-in-Chief sham of a Feckless Leader. And it’s this ability to channel into word-images that which is reflective of our internal anguish and shuddering loss of hope - if we could but give these feelings the freedom to speak as they would about the pigeons of this false leader's incompetence, cronyism, blunders, irresponsibility, indecisiveness, callouness, ineffectiveness, arrogance, indifference, smugness and fallibility that finally came home to roost in NOLA.

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 03:51 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Is Ole Suga' Mouth...

...Drinkin again???

Or just the victim of permanent alcoholism induced brain-damage? Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides:

”…White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”

Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”

082505bush (31k image)

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.

“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.

To see that fear emerges, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.

Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again….”

Courtesy of Cookie Jill (Skippy the Bush Kangagroo).

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 01:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This goes on the "must get" list....

Over on ANTENNA: The International Kraftwerk Mailing List, a random post directed my attention to this:

Re-Covers, by Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha.

Kuvezin, a native of Tuva (one of the members of the Russian federation, and reputed to be "the center of Asia"), is a practicioner of the Tuvan art of "throat singing" (kargyraa), a technique which allows a singer to sing four to six separate pitches simultaneously. It has to be heard to be believed, and Yat-Kha website has a number of .mp3 files that give you a taste of the technique and its results.

Kuvezin spent a good portion of his career being persecuted by the Soviet government for following his muse (which combined Western rock and Tuvan folk music, melded by Kuvezin's mastery of kargyraa), and Re-Covers is basically a "back to my roots" recording of some of the Western music (not just rock; a cover of Hank Williams's "Ramblin' Man" is one of the featured tracks) that inspired Kuvezin. Of course, as a Kraftwerk fan his cover of "Man Machine" is number one on my "gotta hear" list, but the whole album looks pretty damn good. My order's in....

Len on 09.11.05 @ 10:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Halo 3

Pre-Ordering of Halo 3 has started:

"...EBgames is now offering Halo 3 for preorder with a date of June 30, 2006. Third installment of the massively popular FPS, Halo 3 would land on the Xbox 360 shortly after the scheduled launch of Sony's next-generation console, the PlayStation 3. The ship date and retail price have not been confirmed and therefore are subject to change. If the retail price is decreased you will receive the lower price."
-- EB Games

Courtesy of Digg.com.

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 10:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


Len on 09.11.05 @ 10:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Linux Revolution???

"HP says (in south africa) that Linux is now one of their standard product offerings. HP's own internal e-mail infrastructure, including web mail (SquirrelMail), instant messaging (Jabber), domain name (bind), NTP are run on Linux. Shulz said the decision to use Linux for these services has paid off, realising savings in the region of around 33%"
-- HP to ship Ubuntu PCs, serious about Linux

Courtesy of Digg.com

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 10:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Once, I caught a 30 lb. sea bass. I was dying to mount it! But there were people around....
--Emo Philips

Len on 09.11.05 @ 10:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Advance Wars...

faf over at fafblog forgot to include this Nifty Site for how to build your own Tanks, Armored Personal Carriers and Recon Vehicles.

So, just to ADD to your files under The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

How to create your own Tanks, Armored Personal Carriers and Recon Vehicles from Advance Wars Bunker. [Your toys will Thank You!!!]

[Courtesy of Digg.com]:


Karen on 09.11.05 @ 09:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Sheer Incompetence of It All...

An America I Never Expected To See by Clive Crook (National Journal) is another well written piece:

”…I still find this epic of incompetence -- sustained, systemic, outrageous incompetence -- genuinely hard to believe. If you had told me that the flooding of the city would be followed by day after day of chaos, with officials at every level incapable of any effective action; if you had told me that an uncounted number of dead bodies would be floating in the street days after the levees were breached, while huge crowds of abandoned victims, filmed from helicopters, clamored for food and water, with not a police officer or a soldier or an emergency worker of any kind to be seen; if you had said that as the country watched all of this go on, and on, and on, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency should appear on television to tell open-mouthed news anchors how pleased he was that everything was going so well -- if you had described all of this to me ahead of time, I would have said you were crazy. In Italy (forgive my British prejudices), maybe such a thing could be imagined. In Bangladesh, well, sadly yes -- until foreigners, preferably led by Americans, arrived to help. But in the United States? For heaven's sake, it simply could not happen.
The answer seems to be: sheer incompetence, before and after the storm, at every level of government -- local, state, and federal. I cannot accept that the blame lies solely with the Bush administration. The loss of life was so great mainly because of the failure to evacuate the city before the storm. Blame for that -- for the indecision, and for the lack of policing and preparation (including public transport for those who needed it to get out) -- lies mainly with local and state authorities. As soon as the scale of the catastrophe was apparent, though, and it became clear that the local authorities were utterly incapable, blame shifts to the federal government. It should have taken charge sooner, deploying resources already positioned to go.
Let's not trouble over whether society exists. My concern, as a new resident of Washington, is whether a system for recovering from civil disasters exists. What purports to be such a system, newly built at vast expense, has just been tested -- and not as severely as it will be in future, since this calamity had at least been foreseen and thought about. We have the results, and one wonders whether no system at all could have been any worse. Welcome to America.

and Time has a good run through of events.

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 09:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Disaster Within A Disaster

Give read to this piece by Evan Thomas (Newsweek) How Bush Blew It:

“…A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster...”

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 08:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Theory of Public Accountability

Here is a past comment from our current group of wing-nut debators here at DBV.

“…Lastly, we do have accountability moments in government. They're called elections, and Bush won relection just 10 months ago.”

This a *pat* Bush Supporter response and a cute-sie defense uttered in support of the current administration.

My following points extend beyond merely a single commentator’s simplistic phrase here, and not overly wishing to Pick on this one individual more than necessary (tho’ “Live by the Pen - die by the Pen” does come to mind since this IS his own comment – and he’s welcome to disown it here at DBV any time.)

But how defensible is this kind of Theory of Public Governance and Accountability?

Ours is a government of “Public Accountability.” That is the nature and purpose of having certain office holders ELECTED. And not having particular positions chosen by a quorum of a small group of unaccountable and feckless individuals (unless, parenthetically, one wishes to view the Supreme Court as a group of feckless and unaccountable individuals – who just happen to be a group to have overridden the election processes during 2000 in the State of Florida to create George Bush the Presidential Winner [actual election results notwithstanding.]) But that scenario isn't how our system is designed to function.

Yet, this “Hold-Harmless” group of Bush Supporters and (by those I mean the continued 25% in recent polls - at CBS News, Ramussen, Zogby [Here and Here and Here]– Who say there is NO responsibility to be put on the President for anything – ANYTHING.) Or those who say, “We had our moment of accountability, and it was his election in Nov. of 2004”; are endemic of a viewpoint that refuses to work within the system of good governance…and in fact, BREAKS the very fabric of the Public Accountability system.

That this President has never been known for being the Brightest Bulb in the BOX- but was chosen on the CEO-theory of the ability to select qualified and competent subordinates to do the REAL work. As the Top of Heap Official at the Highest office of our Government is a man with barely the required Presidential Job skills; and with a penchant for misplaced loyalties and cronyism in his appointments, a further pernicious fault of refusing to hold (On His Watch) even the most derelict subordinates accountable for anything – Defies Belief.

But that there are citizen who NOW, Today, won’t countenance this and their refusal to hold anyone from their Political Party accountable for anything. From the feckless appointments of people at FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. People unqualified in any way shape or form for the duties of the job selected, who then appoint yet more feckless cronies to positions of power and placement in the government…and I’m going to borrow this saying from another blogger [Elayne Riggs] from her blog-post headliner: “What Can't Brown Do For You?”

So, when this is Exposed for what it IS - a reckless disregard the required Experience to run FEMA, and is also directly responsible for the poor planning and management of this disaster coordination and response effort. And actual, additional and unnecessary Harms and Death which results to Our Citizens. Yet these folks say (via polls or otherwise) would say there is NO Accountability which falls at the feet of this Administration or the President?!?. Or, as our commentator put it – “we do have accountability moments in government. They're called elections” - as if that moment has Forever passed by.

And WHAT else would it possible take for these people to FIND such a MOMENT - IF not THIS?!? If this negligence and heinous cronyism of ill-conceived political appointments to positions critical to National Security and Safety doesn't Count - What ever WOULD???

Even to suggest that Government accountability is in fact merely a MOMENT or that it relies ONLY upon the future electibility of those individuals is a Horribly Distorted Notion of our entire Government. It’s A System Broken when one of it’s underlying functions as a Public System of Accountability is ignored in this way repeatedly. And especially when it results in, even haphazardly, the deaths of our own Citizens. As if, regardless of his position as “the buck stops here” Leader of our Country - GW is NOT going to be held responsible for any of this by these folks…is a National Shame and Dereliction of Good Citizenship.

And at the risk of sounding too offensive, but this must be said - SHAME on THOSE who denigrate and destroy our entire Public Accountability in this fashion for their own partisan purposes. SHAME ON YOU!!

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 08:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Four years later…

...Is the sad truth that these self-professed “Who’s your Daddy for Keeping Ya Safe” Folks at the Top of our Government are really Unable to “Think the Unthinkable” and prepare for the next disaster in any meaningful fashion.

Four Year Later from the WaPo:

“…Put simply, this is a nation that is very good at fighting yesterday's battles, very good at distributing funds based on politics rather than risk and extraordinarily bad at fighting tomorrow's unexpected challenge.

…[N]either DHS nor anyone else has focused hard enough on the major disasters for which the United States is still least prepared, namely a nuclear disaster or a biological attack, both of which would strain the nation's public health facilities way beyond capacity. It is still the case that far too little has been done to secure the nuclear and bioterrorism weapons of the former Soviet Union; that radiation testing is still not deployed with any precision at American ports; and that evacuation plans are, as became obvious this month, not geared to the immobile, not widely understood by either officials or by the public, and probably not feasible in many cases anyway.

Dealing with the biological threat, either from terrorists or a natural pandemic, will, in addition, require far larger federal government investment in biological science than this administration has yet been willing to make, as well as a far broader partnership with the pharmaceutical industry than anyone has yet been willing to contemplate. Work on finding vaccines and cures for existing diseases has just begun; ways for distributing vaccines in case of emergency have been contemplated in only a few places and instances; and the long-term investment in the technology that will be needed to anticipate and prevent new or engineered viruses has not yet been made.

Big disaster scenarios are, it is true, gloomy to contemplate. It is much easier for emergency planners and politicians to think about containable crises. It is also much easier for federal officials to respond automatically to local and congressional demands, rather than draw up their own risk-based and possibly unpopular plans. But if there is any point to having a department of homeland security, surely it is to think the unthinkable. And we see only slim evidence, so far, that DHS is engaged in that undertaking.”

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 06:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hardly seems funny to me...

but this is from a website about alleged political humor: 25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath. Link to source after each quote there.

The actual quotes are below the fold (without source links)....

Len on 09.10.05 @ 09:07 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

You had to figure it was coming....

From Josh Marshall, we learn that:

Ten U.S. Army recruiters are offering volunteer help for Katrina evacuees at Houston's Astrodome. But the recruiters, struggling to keep enlistment up during Iraq war, are also available with options for the jobless. "Our intent is to approach the evacuees at the right time for them,'' says Army spokesman Douglas Smith.
General J.C. Christian, Patriot, is on top of the situation:

Len on 09.10.05 @ 08:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I a Know Few Folks Who'd Like One Of These...

Ah, what to buy the Ulta-Techno-Wizard-Geek for Xmas or a Birthday present.

Courtesy of Cake Eater Chronicles.


Karen on 09.10.05 @ 06:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Re-Writing Those Rules for Science...

TPMCafe was hosting Rep Rush Holt (Research scientist and a member of the House Education Committee), who wrote this piece on teaching I.D.:

“I was appalled when President Bush signaled his support for the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside evolution in public K-12 science classes. Though I respect and consistently protect the rights of persons of faith and the curricula of religious schools, public school science classes are not the place to teach concepts that cannot be backed up by evidence and tested experimentally.

Science, by definition, is a method of learning about the physical universe by asking questions in a way that they can be answered empirically and verifiably. If a question cannot be framed so that the answer is testable by looking at physical evidence and by allowing other people to repeat and replicate one's test, then it is not science. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study. Intelligent design offers no way to investigate design scientifically. Intelligent design explains complicated phenomena of the natural world by involving a designer. This way of thinking says things behave the way they do because God makes them behave that way. This treads not into science but into the realm of faith. A prominent physicist, W. Pauli, used to say about such a theory "It is not even wrong". There is no testable hypothesis or prediction for Intelligent Design.

Colloquially, a theory is an idea. Scientifically, a theory is an accepted synthesis of a large body of knowledge, consisting of well-tested hypotheses, laws, and scientific facts, which concurrently describe and connect natural phenomena. There are actually very few theories in science, including atomic theory, the theory of gravity, the theory of evolution, and the theory of the standard model of particle physics. Without the ability to test the hypotheses of Intelligent Design, it cannot be considered a theory in the scientific sense…”

But that IS the Point. These I.D. and Creationism Folks want to rewrite the definition of “SCIENCE” altogether and the rules for such inquiry, testing, falsifiability, etc..

And the insanity is that apparently some percentage of the US population thinks these criteria are *acceptable* for scientific study or fails to understand the gravity of the issue at hand in suggesting that this be taught in public schools in the science classroom. (Not a philosophy class where it *might* be an appropriate discussion.)

And as Rep. Holt points out:

"So who cares? What difference does it make if schools spend time on unscientific ideas? This raises the role of science education in the United States. A scientifically literate nation would not permit Intelligent Design to be presented and treated as a scientific theory. Science education is necessary for all students, especially for those who are not going to become professional scientists. We must not lose the important American characteristic - hard, practical thinking…

And click on the “more” button” for yet some additional Vitriolic Double Standards.

Karen on 09.10.05 @ 01:23 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

About those Procedures....

A few funnies from commentators over at fafblog on those Emergency Procedures:

My personal levee is finished. And behold, I'm dry as a bone.

It's my ring of confidence. I'm as ready to face the world now as Mary Tyler Moore was in that one show.

I'm wearing my levee now. Does my behind look big in this levee?
TelltaleHeart | 09.08.05 - 8:49 pm | #


A question. If I don't have enough time to "cook up a levee" the standard way, could you possibly modify that recipe for a microwave? Time is precious in a catastrophy, right FEMA?

And astrid,
It's my understanding that just the soul goes in the helicopter since they take up virtually no room. That's why FEMA didn't use many of them big ones.
Father Tyme | 09.08.05 - 9:08 pm | #

Well, this is obviously fake. The Department of Homeland security recommends sealing your room with duct tape - to keep the water out.
Willem | 09.08.05 - 9:32 pm | #

Keep 'Em Coming faf and fafinators...We Love it!! LOL

Karen on 09.10.05 @ 12:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


[Last night the Cardinals beat the New York Mess, 3-2 on a magnificent 8th inning game winning solo homer by Larry Walker, while NL Central Division rival Houston fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-4.]

Len on 09.10.05 @ 09:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

How do you simulate a game for Barry Bonds? Do you walk him three times and let him launch one into the bleachers?
--Will Carroll [Baseball Prospectus, on the news that the rehabilitating SF Giants outfielder was involved in a "simulated game", preparatory to his return to the roster]

Len on 09.10.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Why didn't they just walk out?

One of the nastier conservatarian memes floating around various blogs and comments sections this past week was "Why didn't the people trapped at the Superdome in New Orleans just walk out?" -- the implication being that they were lazy, stupid, and "welfare-dependant," and that the gene pool would have been improved had they been left there to die.

Well, it looks like we have an answer to this question: cops from neighboring areas closed the Hwy 90 bridge to foot traffic to keep people in New Orleans.

If this is true, and there appears to be an outright confession by Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, let's hope that Lawson and his co-conspirators learn the meaning of 18 USC 242.

Kevin Drum.)

Brock on 09.10.05 @ 09:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Poison Water of NOLA

"The National Environmental Trust today posted new details about the flood of toxic chemicals currently inundating New Orleans and the surrounding parishes in Louisiana on its website, Using federal-government data, NET prepared a list of dangerous chemicals present in 66 facilities in the New Orleans area.

These industrial chemicals range from formaldehyde to benzene to cyanide compounds and include neurotoxins, carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxins. All chemicals listed were present before the storm in significant quantities and can be expected to be a part of the mix of contaminants currently flooding the city and flowing into Lake Ponchartrain.

NET compiled the list using 2003 data from the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory.

NET also hosted an extensive briefing on New Orleans' toxic stew, with experts discussing the public health and long-term environmental effects of flood waters containing everything from raw sewage and dead bodies to industrial chemicals and thousands of gallons of fuels and oil.

The briefing is available for downloading as an MP3 at This link.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 09.10.05 @ 08:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Spoke WAY TOO Soon....

Okay, loath as I am to speak for my co-blogger, Len, (but I know he'll forgive me *wink*) I’m gonna go out on a limb here as I point out that we BOTH "Spoke TOO SOON" and were wrong.

Me – yesterday - on thinking there had been an actual “Accountability Moment” in this administration decision to remove Michael “Brownie” Brown from continuing to oversee the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina.

Now we can also revisit this post from Len, and realize he spoke too soon about commending the $2,000 debit cards for Katrina survivors. As Noted in his Yahoo e-mail alert, the original $000 dollars for help for Katrina Victims is now the CORRECT number -- as this article (Daily Herald) explains:

”The Bush administration dumped FEMA Director Michael Brown as commander of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts Friday, then abruptly scrapped plans to give $2,000 debit cards to displaced storm victims as it struggled to get a grip on the recovery operation.

Still, there was fresh evidence of raggedness in the effort when FEMA announced late in the day that it would discontinue a two-day-old program to issue debit cards worth up to $2,000 to displaced families. Evacuees relocated to Texas, many of whom began receiving cards on Friday, will continue getting them, officials said.

Hurricane victims at other locations will have to apply for expedited aid through the agency’s traditional route — filling out information on FEMA’s Web site to receive direct bank deposits, FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said.

Brown introduced the program on Wednesday, calling it “a great way to ... empower these hurricane survivors to really start rebuilding their lives.”
At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said the decision to reassign Brown had been made by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and that Bush supported it….”

So, we ARE back to “Compassionate Conservatism” as the *watch words* for this bAdmin and NO actual Accountability as they continue to bungle their way through the Worst Disaster in National Memory.

We have *debates* with wing-nuts who want to continue to *believe* in Ole Dumbya (and on *what* basis I still am mystified) and merely heap their considerable contempt on the State and Locals in NOLA (who were indisputably overwhelmed and underprepared) as if that absolves any responsibility for the Federal response and FEMA for what is/was a NATIONAL disaster.

But every time I try to find something to commend this bAdmin for - it turns out to be a worthless mistake of accountability or too premature.

Also --as one teensie-tiny distinction here…the failures for the State and Locals in LA (for which I admit my personal knowledge of the issues of the local politics is ‘nil) were ELECTED and therefore accountable as to those that chose them and the failings which resulted.

Conversely, according to this WaPo article; the failures at FEMA is the DIRECT result of the APPOINTMENT of incompetent people at various positions and levels within FEMA by the Pres. This is HIS failure to behave like the CEO he touts himself to be. Pretending to be finding the “Best People for the JOB” and his expressed “Supreme confidence in their Abilities” cause he KNOWS they is such great Folks deep-down inside.

So, that I see a distinct difference in the Blame for failures in each of these categories…State and Local governments (elected by the people) versus Feds and FEMA with Political Appointees (by the Pres.) with NO Experience for the JOB qualifications Necessary is more than a minor quibble over “responsibility” and WHO bears the Blame for the poor results.

Karen on 09.10.05 @ 08:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Simple Solutions to Common Household Problems (via email)

Len on 09.09.05 @ 09:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Excerpts From Driftglass [emphasis in original]:

"Character," goes the proverb, "is what you are in the dark."

"I hope people don't play politics during this period of time," Bush said on ABC's Good Morning America in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Funny how the party of Terry Schiavo, “liberal judges are worse than terrorists”, ruthlessly pimping post-9/11 grief to create an unnecessary and disastrous war, the Seven Year Seek and Destroy mission against Bill Clinton -- people that only exist and maintain power by perverting every tragedy and playing every bigotry like a harp -– funny how they suddenly don’t want to play politics when the consequences of their hateful and reckless stupidity comes crashing down on our heads.

Funny how, when the Party of God gets caught in the headlights, pants down, fucking the family poodle, the best they can come up with was, “Hey, She came on to Me!

[B]ecause character is what you are in the dark. It’s what you are and what you do automatically, and while no one is looking.

Throughout his entire adult life, George W. Bush has shown himself to be a remarkably reckless, foolish and craven man. Of that there is no question. But in addition to being buffered against the consequences of his own stupidity and arrogance by virtue of the wealth and position of his family, he has the singular advantage of being able to surround himself with an army of Orcs. A willfully blind retinue of degenerates who are drawn to this hollow, inept creature the for the same reason alligators are drawn to a drowning man.


Hunger: primal and ruthless. What I might have once called a bottomless hunger for power merely for the narcotic pleasure of power itself...except that in Iraq and New Orleans we can now begin to make out the bottom of the moral abyss into which the Republican Party has led us.

The leaders of the Party of Personal Responsibility now lay bare-assed in the bright sun, shown to be exactly what we have always known they were: spoiled children who want to play at being President while thrashing like a beaver in a bear-trap to avoid actually being responsible. People who want to have a dress-up slumber party with a trunk full of vintage clothes and powdered wigs left in the White House attic by our Founding Fathers. Who sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and spin ‘round and ‘round in Lincoln’s Grown-up Chair and cry “wheeeeee!” and play at governance and leadership.

While real people die.

9/11 handed the profligate and incompetent George Bush a blank check that he thought he could go on cashing for ever and ever, into history and glory that would paint over his complete ineptitude and raise him up to Olympus, or at least Rushmore. It magically suffocated all debate. Snuffed out all opposition. Marginalized all opposition to his war, even long after it became painfully obvious that the Bush War was based entirely on lies, lies and more lies.

But George Bush’s Magic 9/11 line of infinite credit and infinite forgiveness came with a price tag.

You must keep us safe. Period.

No excuses. No nonsense. No bullshit.

And Bush failed – catastrophically and unforgivably -- and people died who didn’t have to die.

The FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency failed – catastrophically and unforgivably -- and people died who didn’t have to die.

And when George Bush decide to make National Security his only platform... spend tens of billions of your dollars on getting us prepared for disaster... bind FEMA into the Fedland national security empire...and then run for re-election on the basis that he and ONLY he could be trusted to keep the nation secure...he fucking well bought his own ticket for this ride.

2004 was an acid test for Republican voters. A cleansing fire that burned away all of the lying Republican prattle about opportunity and tax cuts and children being left behind – the code the GOP has always used to strip the national larder down to the studs to enrich their cronies while paying lip service to “Compassion”.

Well, Mr. President, an awful lot of children got Left Behind in New Orleans, didn’t they? But they were poor and black and so what were they really worth to you?

A nauseating number of Americans were and are willing to gouge out their own eyes rather than face the basic moral degeneracy of the Party of God for one reason and one reason only: Fear

Fear of attack, and fear of being wrong.

And still, the Republican Faithful did nothing. While the hellstorm of consequences that electing criminals and incompetents and bastards to office was bearing down on this country in full fucking view, the Freepers and the Neocons and the Christopaths picked their toes, called us traitors, whined about gays and got positively nutty insisting that their comic book superstitions be taught as Science.

This is the Party that preened and prattled about their “Mandate” being the trump card over every issue. That voting for a stupid thing somehow made it smart, and voting against Science and Reality made those things go away. And that no day of reckoning would every come as long as they voted to keep hitting the Snooze Button.

OK fuckers, go ahead. Vote Katrina away. Vote NOLA back to vitality and beauty and charm. Vote the dead back to life.

In the end what you got for your vote wasn’t a Messiah, or a Moses or a Solomon.

In the end all you got was what you were AMPLY warned you would get. George W. Bush. A hollow idiot. The Bicycle Chief. The Vacationer-in-Chief. A dry-drunk, half-wit coward. A Potempkin President who would fall apart if the stink of the Real World every made it past his retinue. A prop levee that would fail when the wind started blowing.

In the end, Bush failed the only test of leadership that matters, on the only platform he every really ran on.


But Character is what you are in the dark.

And it was awfully dark in New Orleans last week.

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 02:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another Irresistable Joke...

"How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

(via email)

The Answer is TEN:

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner ‘Bulb Accomplished’;

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally ‘in the dark’ the whole time;

8. One to viciously smear No. 7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country."

-- Courtesy of Yet Another Web Site.

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 02:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Some Accountability Here in Government and some worthwhile Changes Put into Effect:

UPDATE: Not quite "Accountability." I spoke to soon -- Michael Brown was not actually "fired" -- he was "reassigned." Must be reassignment for the Duties for the politically-connected-incompetency-FEMA-Managerial tasks that *They* have been saving up in a folder for someone like Brownie to come along and handle with all due haste and efficiency.

So the segment below is only passingly a *Yippee and Giddy* feeling.

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune:

" FEMA director relieved of hurricane responsibilities:

WASHINGTON -- Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, The Associated Press has learned.

Brown is being sent back to Washington from Baton Rouge, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal government's response to the disaster, according to two federal officials who declined to be identified before the announcement.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts."

Well -- Yippee and a Big "It's about Time" for this mid-course correction to be made. Isn't it nice when ya can finally Cheer about your Government doing something *Right* for a change of pace. *Whew -- I'm Giddy*

Let's hope Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen IS the Super-Manager to do this job.

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 01:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


Len on 09.09.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Vote...

....For the 7 Wonders of Chicago.

Out of 4,000 ballots, The Chicago Tribune has selected 14 finalists. Vote for the Seven Wonders of Chicago.

There are two ways to cast your ballot:

■ Click here and vote for seven of the 14 nominees.

Internet polls close at 4 p.m. Monday.

■ Call 312-527-TRIB (8742). Phone polls will close at 7 p.m. Friday.

Results will be announced Thursday, Sept. 15. And, in the spirit of another awesome aspect of Chicago that didn’t make the cut, we encourage you to vote early and vote often.

(Hahahahahha - How Very Chicagoan on "vote early and often." And I just checked... ya CAN vote as Often as possible. LOL )


Karen on 09.09.05 @ 11:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Party of Performance...?!?

This would be a great skit for any comedian, and almost laughable…if it weren’t so Incredible and F**cking SAD. From David Ignatius (WaPo):

“…Now listen to what Gingrich has to say about "changing the playbook" after Katrina. His comments are drawn from two memos he has circulated to Republican leaders since the storm hit and from a conversation we had this week exploring some of his ideas.

Gingrich argues that the values debate that has divided America so sharply during the past decade is over. There's a broad consensus about most issues, and anyway people realize that the country's big problems aren't about morality but performance. "We're not in a values fight now but over whether the system is working," Gingrich told me. "The issue is delivery." And that's true at every level -- city, state and federal.

Gingrich's critique of the federal response is as devastating as that of any Democrat. "For the last week the federal government and its state and local counterparts have consistently been behind the curve," he wrote fellow Republicans this week. "The American people overwhelmingly know that the current situation is totally unacceptable," and for that reason, "it is a mistake to get trapped into defending the systems and processes which clearly failed." He observes in another memo, "While the destruction was unprecedented, it was entirely predictable.

What's needed is a creative government response as big as the disaster itself.

This is the moment for the Party of Performance to take center stage."

And this is WHAT that means:

"Party of Performance":
“…Gingrich urges in one of his memos that Bush appoint a super-manager who can oversee the rebuilding and suggests Rudy Giuliani for the job.

[Emphasis mine]

So what 'ole Newt is proposing, in effect, is a “Super-Manager-Alter-Ego-President.” A More Capable President. A Real Action President. A President who can REALLY Run things -- while the President we Have does…?!?!? What Exactly?

IF the Current President IS not Himself capable of being this “Super-manager” and Newt's suggestion is that we need to create a NEW Side-ways Hierarchy of Alternate Leadership to cover for the Failure of the existing Leadership. How is this a GOOD Thing?


Someone wake me from this nightmare of Idiocy and Unaccountability.

This really takes the Cake, the Icing, the Baking Pan, the whole OVEN of Nerve.

Oh, and Newt has these further ideas of what this "New Performance Party"Could do for us
“…The former speaker has some classic Gingrich zingers for how to rev up the rebuilding effort. He wants to turn the Gulf Coast into a "Zone of Recovery, Reconstruction and Prosperity," by offering a 25 percent tax credit for all job-creating investment in the region over the next three years. And he wants to create a cadre of "entrepreneurial public managers" who can replace the leaden public bureaucracy and get things done on Internet time, with the reliability of FedEx or UPS."

And THIS is from the GOP folks that lauded this Currently Not-Super-Manager President. This Lack of Performance President. This Unrecoverable Zone, Devastating in Reconstruction and Prosperity President we have in office. This Fearless Leader they gave us this as their BEST-offer Candidate from their party ranks. This Less-than Super-Manager Guy, Running him for office to oversee our government, while pretending he was some CEO-President in Charge?!?

But -- as David Igantius asks, “Who's ready to sign up for the Party of Performance?

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 10:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

State Secret's Privilege...

Take a Listen to this report by Jackie Northam's story this morning concering the legal case: US vs Reynolds (about the crash of a B29 airplane); that affirmed "state secrets privilege of executive branch" discussed at NPR’s Morning Edition.

”The Bush administration is increasingly using the state secrets privilege. It is a series of precedents that allow the government to dismiss court cases on the grounds that evidence introduced in the trial could jeopardize national security.”

Apparently, according to the report, this privilege was invoked 4 times between 1953 and 1976 during height of Cold War. It has been used 23 times in last 4 yrs by the bAdmin.

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 09:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Specious Promises and Political Hacks...

Leaders Lacking Disaster Experience: 'Brain Drain' At Agency Cited, by Spencer S. Hsu (WaPo):

”Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.

Meanwhile, veterans such as U.S. hurricane specialist Eric Tolbert and World Trade Center disaster managers Laurence W. Zensinger and Bruce P. Baughman -- who led FEMA's offices of response, recovery and preparedness, respectively -- have left since 2003, taking jobs as consultants or state emergency managers, according to current and former officials.

Because of the turnover, three of the five FEMA chiefs for natural-disaster-related operations and nine of 10 regional directors are working in an acting capacity, agency officials said.

Patronage appointments to the crisis-response agency are nothing new to Washington administrations. But inexperience in FEMA's top ranks is emerging as a key concern of local, state and federal leaders as investigators begin to sift through what the government has admitted was a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.

"FEMA requires strong leadership and experience because state and local governments rely on them," said Trina Sheets, executive director of the National Emergency Management Association. "When you don't have trained, qualified people in those positions, the program suffers as a whole."

And BTW - the term " White House advance operations" is a euphemism for “political ‘Spin-Masters’” who tell our Fearless Leader How he should respond to *political situations* not actual hands-on disaster or crisis-management issues except as to his *Presidential Poll Numbers.* Bleh!!!

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 08:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Play-by-play man Bill Brown notes that, “Both Pujols and Edmonds in their careers at Minute Maid Park have OPSes--that’s on-base plus slugging--of better than 1000.” See how easy it is to slip in more meaningful statistics into a key moment of the game? Without burying the listener or resorting to the usual mangling of stats, a la ‘Bob is hitting .400 with a full moon against near-sighted marsupials’ to boot.
--Jonah Keri [Baseball Prospectus, on the 9/4/05 Cards-Astros game]

Len on 09.09.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What WILL They SAY Next?!?

OH MY Goodness, I just realized that this must be a horrible week, absolutely HORRIBLE – For the Presidential Speech Writers. LOL

This is coming up on the anniversary of 9-11 and speeches must be written. But What can these word-smiths SAY?!?

How can they use the same ole phrases? The same hollow pathetic words to claim The Fearless Leader and bAdmin made us all “Safer” and have “Confronted Threats quickly and effectively”?!?

Below is a list of a few of the stock-phrases that litter previous Presidential speeches or radio addresses. They are, of course, entirely out of context for the most part, but they do provide the flavor of my point on What CAN they Say Next??? So How many of these GEMs do you think they will try to slip in the ole’ 9-11 update?

Click on the "more" button to read these quotes.

Karen on 09.09.05 @ 08:04 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Great Days in Popular Culture History:

On this date in 1966, the first episode of Star Trek aired. It was "The Man Trap", and I remember it well. The monster du jour in that episode (referred to as "The Incredible Salt Vampire" by David Gerrold in his delightful book The Trouble With Tribbles) scared the shit out of me when I saw it back then.

Len on 09.08.05 @ 01:25 PM CST [link] [ | ]

"The Aristocrats" Joke....

recast in terms of current events.

[If you're unclear on the concept of "The Aristocrats", the subject of a recent film, and considered "the dirtiest joke ever told" (though that's not really true; it's not a joke but rather the template for a joke), then check this site. HOWEVER, be aware that properly done, "The Aristocrats" must be unspeakably vile, obscene and tasteless. You Have Been Warned.]

Len on 09.08.05 @ 12:34 PM CST [link] [ | ]

MadKane's back...

with three new Katrina inspired limericks and what has to be the world's land speed record for jamming more hyperlinks in less space than anyone else has ever accomplished in the history of Left Blogistan.

I'm impressed, even if we're one of the few websites she didn't link to.


Audio version here, as always.

Len on 09.08.05 @ 12:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, "I wish I'd said that" Bonus Edition:

For all that went wrong the last couple weeks down on the Gulf Coast, there's still at least one thing to be grateful for: Bernard Kerik could have been DHS Secretary instead of Michael Chertoff. And as poor a performance as Chertoff may have put in, I doubt he has too many mob cronies and he's clearly got some managerial experience. And, heck, we don't even have to get into Judith Regan, which is more than you can say for Kerik.
--Joshua Micah Marshall


Today's Talking Points
1-First providers are noble beings without fault.

2-State and local officials were a "problem."

3-The president tried to take action early but the locals got in the way and were stubborn probably because of the injustice of their "culture."

4-This is not the time for recriminations. We must do the people's work. (Really sounds like Bill)

5-We should study "lessons learned" from this, and not attribute blame. (Important point for FEMA Director Brown, but since he was head of Arabian Horse Association, it has been suggested that he could be a Middle East analyst for cable news.)

6-Congress and the president will investigate this on a bi-cameral, bi-partisan basis reporting next year (when no one remembers anything and just before Mardi Gras).

7-Federal aid is fixing everything in spite of local ineptitude.

I was trained as a propaganda staff officer at one point. This is a hell of a job. Congratulations. Always tell them what they would like to believe and they will "go for it."
--Pat Lang

Len on 09.08.05 @ 11:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Top-Down-Management and Worldviews:

This is a piece I’ve been working on about the larger and far reaching conclusions to be drawn from “Collapse” (by Jared Diamond) and the analogies he posits to current problem solving situations are relevant to this national and wider worldview level.

This is NOT a “political diatribe” at any particular person, governments or agencies, and the references to the Hurricane Katrina disaster are only as necessary (by others) to illustrate certain points.

To read these views, click on the “more” button.

Karen on 09.08.05 @ 11:43 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Today's WTF? Moment:

From Bryan at Why Now?:

The original Federal Disaster Declaration issued on August 27th included every parish in Louisiana except those likely to be struck. It does not include New Orleans or the surrounding area.

A second Disaster Declaration that included New Orleans was not issued until August 29th.

These are from the White House site. They screwed up. The tip of Louisiana was the last area to receive a disaster declaration.

Nothing was being sent to New Orleans until after the storm because there was no authorization.
[Emphasis supplied. --LRC]
Go to Bryan's site and look at the awesome map, which makes it very clear which parishes were included in the initial declaration, and which were included in the followup declaration.

An awe inspiring illustration of a brain spasm so monumental, it raises the question, "Were these guys born stupid, or did they have to go to school for it?" And it explains why the GOP is making sure that it can control the "investigation" (read: "whitewash") of the Federal non-response to Katrina.


HONORABLE MENTION: From Talking Points Memo, we learn that GOP übermensch Rudy Giuliani has endorsed Charlie Winburn, Republican candidate for the office of mayor of Cincinnati. This is of interest to me because Winburn is on record as believing that only born-again Christians should hold political office:
"Politics is dirty because the true believers are not really involved in it," Winburn wrote in his 1989 book, "Ruling and Reigning in the '90s." "We Christians must clean up politics. It is our job to elect only born-again believers to public office. If office holders aren't Christian and refuse to obey the laws of God, we must work hard, under the law, to unseat them."
Occasionally I get criticized (at least implicitly) by another professed atheist for being so "hardcore" and seemingly intolerant of religion. Hey, I'd be willing to be tolerant, if I really had reason to believe that the religious right wingnuts were as tolerant of me as they think I ought to be of them.

[For the record, I'm not really that intolerant of religion, however, I do agree with H.L. Mencken's oft-expressed sentiment: There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly, and I'm not afraid to point out when I think religious ideas and beliefs are, IMHO, silly.]

Len on 09.08.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Cup of Unleaded...with Cream, Please....

"For hundreds of years, if someone ordered a cup of coffee, there was no question about what kind.

Now, many Americans prefer their coffee decaffeinated.

The ability to make that choice comes from the work of Ludwig Roselius, a coffee merchant in Bremen, Germany. In the early part of the last century, he developed a process that removed 97 percent of the caffeine from coffee beans, without altering their taste. He described the new coffee as "sans caffeine," which he shortened to "Sanka."

Today, there's not only a decision to make about regular and decaf, but latte, cappuccino and espresso. Specialty coffee shops are increasingly popular. There are about 7,000 of them, selling $2 billion worth of coffee a year."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Unleaded is my Hubby's order, but I still must have me fully "leaded" coffee - two cups in the morning only. YUM!!!

Karen on 09.08.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

We Have a Loser: Earlier this week, neo-con Bill Kristol told the Washington Post that almost every Republican he had spoken to was disappointed in Bush's performance. By evoking broad disdain for the administration's response from Republicans and Democrats alike, Bush has finally kept his promise to be a uniter, not a divider.

Usually, the blame game is a loser for both parties. However, when Republicans and Democrats can make common cause against a common enemy, like the federal government or hapless FEMA Director Michael Brown, there is more than enough blame game to go around.

Among the many illusions that washed away over the past week is one that was particularly precious to Bush: the long-lost and perhaps now never-to-be-seen-again political philosophy of compassionate conservatism.

For close political observers, this is hardly news. As a movement, compassionate conservatism always seemed like a leap of faith by an awfully small group of true believers, such as Bush's longtime speechwriter Michael Gerson and his first choice to head the faith-based initiative, Prof. John DiIulio.

DiIulio quit in late 2002, telling Esquire that the Bush White House cared only about politics, not policy. "There is a virtual absence as yet of any policy accomplishments that might, to a fair-minded non-partisan, count as the flesh on the bones of so-called compassionate conservatism," he said. Gerson still believes, but now he's stuck working on domestic policy for a White House that tries not to have one.

As an agenda, compassionate conservatism died by Bush's own hand in May 2001, when the president called for a new war on poverty the same week he threatened the Senate he would veto anything less than his full tax cut. If LBJ's war on poverty came to an unsatisfactory, Vietnam-like conclusion, Bush's war on poverty was a Bay of Pigs fiasco: Poverty won, the battle was lost before most knew it had started, and many Republicans swore to themselves they'd never get involved in an endeavor like that again.
--Bruce Reed

Len on 09.08.05 @ 07:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:

Still holding at 11

[WTF is it with the Cubs? They can beat the Cardinals regularly (2-1 last night), but can't beat the rest of the National League? The good news this morning, however, is that Baseball Prospectus's Postseason Odds ratings make the Astros the favorite to win the NL wild card again this season. If that happens (and I hope it does for this reason) it's most likely that the Cardinals will face the NL West Champion in the NL Divisional Series. Since, right now, the Padres are leading that division with a .484 winning percentage, we could look forward to a short, sweet NLDS in all probability.

Though I wonder, if the winner of the NL West Pennant wins that division with a record that's less than .500, will there be a push to disqualify them from the postseason and replace them with a second wild card, one that could at least win more games than they lost during the regular season? Somehow, if you can't put together a record better than 81-81, I'd think you should probably be ashamed even to display a pennant in your stadium next season.]

Len on 09.08.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Though he appointed the first and the second African-American secretaries of state, Bush seldom appears before black audiences. Beyond his interest in education, he has little to say about issues of social and urban policy. Bush has never articulated an approach, other than faith-based platitudes and tax cuts, to bettering the lives of African-Americans. And indeed, has not bettered them. The percentage of blacks living in poverty, which diminished from 33 percent to less than 23 percent during the Clinton years, has been rising again under Bush. In 2000, Bush got 8 percent of the black vote. In 2004, he got 11 percent. Because African-Americans constitute only 12 percent of the population, it's possible for Republicans to neglect them and still win elections. Indeed, as Mehlman indicated, neglecting them has often helped Republicans win.

Because they don't see blacks as a current or potential constituency, Bush and his fellow Republicans do not respond out of the instinct of self-interest when dealing with their concerns. Helping low-income blacks is a matter of charity to them, not necessity. The condescension in their attitude intensifies when it comes to New Orleans, which is 67 percent black and largely irrelevant to GOP political ambitions. Cities with large African-American population that happen to be in important swing states may command some of Karl Rove's respect as election time approaches. But Louisiana is small (9 electoral votes) and not much of a swinger these days. In 2004, Bush carried it by a 57-42 margin. If Bush and Rove didn't experience the spontaneous political reflex to help New Orleans, it may be because they don't think of New Orleans as a place that helps them.

Considered in this light, the actions and inactions now being picked apart are readily explicable. The president drastically reduced budget requests from the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the levees around New Orleans because there was no effective pressure on him to agree. When the levees broke on Tuesday, Aug. 30, no urge from the political gut overrode his natural instinct to spend another day vacationing at his ranch. When Bush finally got himself to the Gulf Coast three days later, he did his hugging in Biloxi, Miss., which is 71 percent white, with a mayor, governor, and two senators who are all Republicans. Bush's memorable comments were about rebuilding Sen. Trent Lott's porch and about how he used to enjoy getting hammered in New Orleans. Only when a firestorm of criticism and political damage broke out over the federal government's callousness did Bush open his eyes to black suffering.

Had the residents of New Orleans been white Republicans in a state that mattered politically, instead of poor blacks in city that didn't, Bush's response surely would have been different. Compare what happened when hurricanes Charley and Frances hit Florida in 2004. Though the damage from those storms was negligible in relation to Katrina's, the reaction from the White House was instinctive, rapid, and generous to the point of profligacy. Bush visited hurricane victims four times in six weeks and delivered relief checks personally. Michael Brown of FEMA, now widely regarded as an incompetent political hack, was so responsive that local officials praised the agency's performance.

The kind of constituency politics that results in a big life-preserver for whites in Florida and a tiny one for blacks in Louisiana may not be racist by design or intent. But the inevitable result is clear racial discrimination. It won't change when Republicans care more about blacks. It will change when they have more reason to care.
--Jacob Weisberg

Len on 09.08.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I can't resist....

Editorial comment by a CNN caption writer?

Len on 09.07.05 @ 08:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Our pals at The Onion.....

have outdone themselves this week....Among the gems:

Officials Uncertain Whether To Save Or Shoot Victims
Nation's Politicians Applaud Great Job They're Doing
Area Man Drives Food There His Goddamned Self
Bush: 'It Has Been Brought To My Attention That There Was Recently A Bad Storm'


Refugees Moved From Sewage-Contaminated Superdome To Hellhole Of Houston

HOUSTON—Evacuees from the overheated, filth-encrusted wreckage of the New Orleans Superdome were bussed to the humid, 110-degree August heat and polluted air of Houston last week, in a move that many are resisting. "Please, God, not Houston. Anyplace but Houston," said one woman, taking shelter under an overpass. "The food there is awful, and the weather is miserable. And the traffic—it's like some engineer was making a sick joke." Authorities apologized for transporting survivors to a city "barely better in any respect," but said the blistering-hot, oil-soaked Texas city was in fact slightly better, and that casualties due to gunfire would be no worse.

White Foragers Report Threat Of Black Looters

NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African­Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.

Bush Urges Victims To Gnaw On Bootstraps For Sustenance

WASHINGTON, DC—In an emergency White House address Sunday, President Bush urged all people dying from several days without food and water in New Orleans to "tap into the American entrepreneurial spirit" and gnaw on their own bootstraps for sustenance. "Government handouts are not the answer," Bush said. "I believe in smaller government, which is why I have drastically cut welfare and levee upkeep. I encourage you poor folks to fill yourself up on your own bootstraps. Buckle down, and tear at them like a starving animal." Responding to reports that many Katrina survivors have lost everything in the disaster, Bush said, "Only when you work hard and chew desperately on your own footwear can you live the American dream."
And the caption was priceless:

FEMA representatives call out to survivors, "Show us your tits for emergency rations!"

Len on 09.07.05 @ 07:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Firsts in American Legal History

The California legislature becomes the first in the United States to pass a gay marriage bill without being forced by a court order to do it (LA Times story; use the user credentials latimesdotcom@spam.la/raarraar to login; courtesy of BugMeNot):

The California Legislature made history Tuesday as the Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

With no votes to spare, California's lawmakers became the first in the United States to act without a court order to sanction gay marriages. The measure was approved after three Democratic lawmakers who abstained on a similar proposal that failed in June changed their minds under intense lobbying by bill author Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and gay and civil rights activists.

No Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Forty-one of the Assembly's 47 Democrats voted yes; four Democrats voted "no," and two abstained.

The bill, which would change California's legal definition of marriage from "a civil contract between a man and a woman" to a "civil contract between two persons," now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has signaled that he will veto it.
Because, after all, "Ve vill haff no girlie-men in KahleeFAWNya..."

Len on 09.07.05 @ 07:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Ok, it's a start....

I will resist the temptation to take a snark shot at the bAdministration. This might actually be helpful, at least in the short term: U.S. Offers Katrina Survivors $2,000 Each

Dispossessed victims of Hurricane Katrina will receive debit cards good for $2,000 to spend on clothing and other immediate needs, the Bush administration announced Wednesday, working to recast a relief effort drawing scant praise from Republicans and scathing criticism from top congressional Democrats.
Now, if the bAdministration will push Congress to at least delay implementation of the bankruptcy "reform" legislation (I'd prefer outright repeal, but I no longer believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny) long enough to let Katrina survivors file for debt relief, if necessary, under the provisions of the old law, I might actually have to give them some real credit. Let's see if they surprise me.

However, I am not going to resist the temptation to take a cheap shot at Yahoo!. I was clued in to the above cited story when I opened up my Yahoo! Mail account (actually, I keep a couple, for subscribing to mailing lists that I'm not active on, and as "spam catchers"), and saw this in the "news blurbs" section of the main Yahoo! Mail screen (unaltered screen capture):

My first reaction to "U.S. Offers Katrina Survivors 000 Each" (which is how I first read it) varied between sheer astonishment and a sense of "Somehow, that seems typical of the bAdministration". Then I saw the "," before "000", and realized (correctly) that it was a typo. And after that, I got a small chuckle.

Len on 09.07.05 @ 06:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Bush knew....

From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

I had heard it suggested by a knowledgable source that a White House representative was listening in when National Hurricane Center Chief Max Mayfield gave that briefing to Brown and Chertoff before Katrina hit.

But according to this August 30th article in the St. Petersburg Times, on Sunday the 28th, Mayfield arranged a video conference call with President Bush himself at the Crawford Ranch during which he explained the hurricane's force and destructive potential.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
And Bush didn't consider that video briefing reason to come back to Washington and start lighting fires underneath a few official backsides?


Len on 09.07.05 @ 11:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gems o'the Day:

From Bryan at Why Now?:

Yesterday in Looking to Rebuild on the Mississippi Coast, Melissa Block talks with Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS).

Taylor talks about the loss of 80% of the homes along the coast, including his, and how people have been coping - by "borrowing" the contents of the local Wal-Mart [it's not New Orleans, so he must be wrong when he says looting].

Mr. Taylor wants the local FEMA representative fired for interfering with the efforts to help the people affected. FEMA insists that individuals should make their own way to a central distribution point. This is a very efficient system for FEMA but it assumes a way of communicating with those affected and that they have transportation. In the FEMA system the individuals have the responsibility of finding help rather than expecting FEMA to find them.

"Where's the cavalry?" They're in the fort waiting for you to make your way there.
And from Sher Wright Sunday (but I'm just catching up on some of my reading...):
Fourth Grade Logic Exam – Part II
4. As President of your country, you have a choice of spending $140 million to fortify levees against an hurricane disaster that may or may not occur during your term, or spending this amount plus tens of billions more to rebuild. What is the most logical course of action?
A. Bite the bullet and fortify the levees.
B. Roll the dice.
C. Repeal the death tax.
A. A dumb move for so many reasons, including 1) sending money to just a few Blue State congressional districts makes no sense when there are so many needy Red State districts; 2) As Speaker Hastert points out, we should be bulldozing rather than rebuilding cities like New Orleans that need as much $140 million of the US budget of $2.5 trillion (.0056%) to be safe; 3) think how stupid you’d feel if you got to the end of your term and the city hadn’t flooded even once!
B. Why not? This approach got Bush reelected!
C. Bonus points for staying on message through petty distractions that everyone will forget by the next election cycle.

5. Write an essay on government’s responsibility to protect citizens from natural disaster.
A. More than four words: no credit.
B. Full credit for the following phrases: “It’ll just flood again,” “Waste, Fraud, and Abuse,” “Let them eat cake,” or “Huh?”
C. Extra credit for “Repeal the death tax.”

Len on 09.07.05 @ 11:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No Worries...?!?

Len had posted just a tid-bit from the transcript of Keith Olbermann’s editorial (MSNBC's Coundown) [Video link at http://media.putfile.com/OlbermannSwings]. But Len forgot to include a few of the best parts.

For this, and my own updated comments from yesterday’s Haloscan points, click on the “more” button.

Karen on 09.07.05 @ 09:05 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

From the interesting juxtapositions department....

I only now noticed this. At least of today (though I suspect this has been true for some time now), the best and the worst teams in Major League Baseball are both Missouri teams.

The St. Louis Cardinals (GO CARDS!) are the best team in MLB, at 88-51 (.633).

The Kansas City Royals are the worst team in MLB, at 44-92 (.324).

As a native of the Show-me State, I take some pride in that distinction.

Len on 09.07.05 @ 08:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Proof that the economy is in dire straits:

Not even Bruce Wayne can't keep up payments on the Batmobile....


Len on 09.07.05 @ 08:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My question is:

if this sign is "true", who isn't damned? Makes me wish I sold fire insurance for the hereafter...

Len on 09.07.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Droll Trollery...

Now, thank goodness we only have “debates” and “civil conversations” and “informed commentary” here at DBV.

Apparently, over at Crooks and Liars they have been having a Problem requiring the Troll Police [They are a Subdivision Department under the direct supervision of "The Thought Police"]:

I know there has been an outpouring of trolls. I can't monitor all the threads so hear me now. I'm banning anyone that uses different names in the same thread, or imitates someone else. I want everyone to dial down the abusive language please and email me if you see stuff going on. Differences of opinion are fine, but the level of insanity is getting out of hand. Writing "I want to kill" somebody will get you booted off the site.

6:25:23 PM Comments (204)Comments

[And 204 comments on this post alone…Yikes!!!]

But for a good laugh, be sure to visit this link from one commentator: Please Don’t feed the trolls with a funnie description of the various forms of Trollery.


Karen on 09.07.05 @ 07:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

This Week in Engrish...

Several recent Engrish Funnies..

Just How *Late* is this going to Go…?

The Metaphysical Alchemy of Substances



Karen on 09.07.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A geek's sentimental journey....

A walk through memory lane: Dinosaur sightings - old-school computer hardware

The most interesting photo (to me) is the Original Apple next to the Altair 8800 (in the Smithsonian exhibit; the photo doesn't identify the other box as an Altair, but that's what it is). Talk about the larval stages of personal computing.....

Len on 09.07.05 @ 06:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not Your Grandfather's Family Values...

...or Federal Government either...

Speaking of bookish interest this morning - here is an interesting book commentary from Jonathon Rauch (National Journal) on the Rick Santorum book: It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good:

America's Anti-Reagan Isn't Hillary Clinton. It's Rick Santorum.

In 1960, a Republican senator named Barry Goldwater published a little book called The Conscience of a Conservative. The first printing of 10,000 copies led to a second of the same size, then a third of 50,000, until ultimately it sold more than 3 million copies. Goldwater's presidential candidacy crashed in 1964, but his ideas did not: For decades, Goldwater's hostility to Big Government ruled the American Right. Until, approximately, now.

Rick Santorum, a second-term Republican senator from Pennsylvania, has written a new book called It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. The book is worth taking seriously for several reasons, not not least of which is that it is a serious book. The writing and thinking are consistently competent, often better than that. The lapses into right-wing talk-radioese ("liberals practically despise the common man") are rare. Santorum wrestles intelligently, often impressively, with the biggest of big ideas: freedom, virtue, civil society, the Founders' intentions. Although he is a Catholic who is often characterized as a religious conservative, he has written a book whose ambitions are secular. As its subtitle promises, it is about conservatism, not Christianity.

Above all, it is worth noticing because, like Goldwater's Conscience, it lays down a marker. As Goldwater repudiated Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, so Santorum repudiates Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. It's now official: Philosophically, the conservative movement has split. Post-Santorum, tax-cutting and court-bashing can hold the Republican coalition together for only so much longer.

…But It Takes a Family is more than a policy book. Its theory of "conservatism and the common good" seeks to rechannel the mainstream….”

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 09.07.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Sharpe's Exploits - The Early Years

There is another interesting book I’m reading (and this is for Mike Hollihan – since we are the PBS aficionados and enjoy the Sharpe series) which is based upon a 20 book series written by Bernard Cornwell on the adventures of Richard Sharpe. As just a quickie background, Sharpe is a fictional character who is a British soldier from 1799 – 1822, but the exploits, travels and battles are based on the real British excursions, battles and factual materials.

So, author Mark Adkin, who served in the British army and is a military historian, got permission from Mr. Cornwell to write “The Sharpe Companion – The Early Years.” [HarperCollins Publishers, 2003]

For any British history buffs and/or Richard Sharpe fans, this is a really fun book. The Introduction explains Why he wanted to do this book. Here are a few short excerpts:

"Richard Sharpe is a fascinating hero; his escapades are bewildering in their variety and always bloody in their execution – but they are not impossible. In writing this book, I have dissected the battle he fought in, pored over maps to plot his movements and locate that places he visited. Due to Bernard Cornwell’s great skill at ensuring Sharpe’s activities have accurate historical backgrounds, I have never had any real difficulty in putting dates, even times, as well as location to what Sharpe did."

and this:
"The history of how each regiment developed, fought, expanded, contracted, changed its title until more modern times is explored. Finally a timeline has been included that sets out the dates of the highlights of Sharpe's life alongside some of the major historical events of the period. Throughout, the text is enhanced by maps, illustrations, boxes and margin notes, many anecdotal, which add interest and flavour to the main meal."

If you are a Sharpe fan, I highly recommend this one.

Karen on 09.07.05 @ 06:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:

Holding at 11.

Len on 09.07.05 @ 06:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

You've gotta love lawyers....

for being able to find such meaningful distinctions:

And in cases where they are explicitly on the hook, insurance companies can be counted on to resist—even in the most emotion-laden cases. After 9/11, when Larry Silverstein, who owned the lease on the Twin Towers, tried to collect on his insurance policy, insurers argued that the two attacks were a single event, thus capping the amount Silverstein could receive. Silverstein took them to court, and last December convinced a jury that the two plane crashes were two distinct events.

Something similar may be shaping up here. In its report, RMS noted that the destruction is tied to two distinct events: 1) Hurricane Katrina; and 2) "the Great New Orleans Flood which has resulted from failure of the levee systems that protect New Orleans." Expect plenty of insurers to argue that they'll be happy to pay for property damaged by the hurricane, but not for both the hurricane and the flooding, if individuals or businesses lacked flood insurance. According to RMS, "at least 50% of total economic loss is expected to come from flooding in New Orleans." Needless to say, the vast majority of those who have lost businesses and residences in the past week don't have Larry Silverstein's ability to litigate.
--Daniel Gross, on insurance company reactions to Hurricane Katrina

Len on 09.07.05 @ 05:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Maybe you have already guessed that an archfiend with extraordinary mental powers inhabits the planet. The mysterious creature is able to rummage through the men's minds and turn their thoughts into reality. It wants to dominate the crew and use them as a vehicle to reach Earth.

Eric does a little research on the suspected adversary. Okay, he asks Ingrid and she tells him all about the space brain (convenient). Then the explorers turned warriors don their Alaitoc uniforms and make an abortive attempt to kill the lurking monster. You have to understand, the evil presence dwells in a lair outside the forcefield. It is protected by a forest of razor sharp crystals and nightmares dragged directly from the men's subconscious. After deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, Eric and the others flee back to the artificial paradise. Unfortunately, the clumsy commander rips his suit open on a crystal and nearly dies.

"While the commander is comatose, the crew will play." Don and the others, bereft of effective leadership (they just need a recording that yells, "Shoot it!" now and then), spend their time playing with the floozies. Hahahaha! They know that the women are not real! Heck, they know that the nymphs were created by something evil! It does not stop the crew from doing what men do with harlots. Personally, I would be afraid that Ursula would suddenly sprout tentacles out of her back or develop teeth in an unfortunate place. Thanks, but no thanks.

Sure, I have watched a lot of anime. Why do you ask?
--Andrew Borntreger, on the film
Journey to the Seventh Planet

Len on 09.07.05 @ 05:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The face of "compassionate conservatism"....

The Larger Shame

But Hurricane Katrina also underscores a much larger problem: the growing number of Americans trapped in a never-ending cyclone of poverty. And while it may be too early to apportion blame definitively for the mishandling of the hurricane, even President Bush's own administration acknowledges that America's poverty is worsening on his watch.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported a few days ago that the poverty rate rose again last year, with 1.1 million more Americans living in poverty in 2004 than a year earlier. After declining sharply under Bill Clinton, the number of poor people has now risen 17 percent under Mr. Bush.

If it's shameful that we have bloated corpses on New Orleans streets, it's even more disgraceful that the infant mortality rate in America's capital is twice as high as in China's capital. That's right - the number of babies who died before their first birthdays amounted to 11.5 per thousand live births in 2002 in Washington, compared with 4.6 in Beijing.

Indeed, according to the United Nations Development Program, an African-American baby in Washington has less chance of surviving its first year than a baby born in urban parts of the state of Kerala in India.

Under Mr. Bush, the national infant mortality rate has risen for the first time since 1958. The U.S. ranks 43rd in the world in infant mortality
, according to the C.I.A.'s World Factbook; if we could reach the level of Singapore, ranked No. 1, we would save 18,900 children's lives each year.

[emphasis supplied --LRC]

Len on 09.06.05 @ 07:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Keep these instructions in a SAFE Place…

They May save your LIFE some day:

Fafblog Presents: The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

If you're gettin worried that the government won't be there to help you out durin the next hurricane or earthquake or terrorist attack, don't panic! Fafblog is here with our Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide! Today we're gonna show you how to get through a major disaster just usin stuff you've got lyin around the home.

You will need:

• construction paper
• glue or glue sticks
• a can of baking soda
• some play-doh (optional)
• 200 gallons of distilled water and 100 pounds of canned food

Make-And-Bake Clay Levee!

Make flood prevention easy AND fun with this emergency arts and crafts project!

1. Mix some cornstarch, baking soda, and water in a large bowl. Make sure it's evenly mixed!
2. Cook over low heat, stirring for about 15 minutes
3. When your mixture starts to thicken, take it off the stove and let it cool
4. Mold into an 8 foot high 20 foot wide levee
5. Decorate with seashells and macaroni!

How to Make a Paper Helicopter

For a quick homemade evacuation you just can't beat a paper helicopter. Make one on your own with the ancient Japanese folding art of oragami! Instructional drawings below. Follow closely!

paperhelicopter (69k image)

Ta-da! For best results crease edges sharply. Carries up to four passengers weighing half an ounce each or eight passengers weighing a quarter ounce each.

Do-It-Yourself National Guard!

First get some old socks. Sew on some buttons for the eyes. Use yarn for the hair but keep it trimmed short on accounta disipline! Add some felt uniforms for a touch a flair. The striped sock is the sergeant, he is gruff but loyal. The fancy dress sock is the general, he commands the others with his fabricky leadership skills! The white running sock is the medic, he doubles as a bandage when you get hit by falling rubble. Now you're all set to be escorted out of the disaster zone with your new puppet pals! Be careful, though: they're armed... with imagination.

Karen on 09.06.05 @ 07:35 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why we're well and truly fucked....

Then again, geography education has been in the toilet for ages, now:

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

Len on 09.06.05 @ 07:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

There goes another icon of my youth.

Bob "Maynard G. Krebs" Denver, dead at 70.

[Yes, all the obits are naming "that other role" first, and perhaps rightly, since that is the role which he'll be best known for, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Maynard. Mostly because I think that he and I would have understood each other very well, indeed.]

Requesciat in Pace, Bob.

Len on 09.06.05 @ 05:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

My favorite all-time baseball achievement?

I've got to think about it, but this is definitely a contender. Probably the weirdest one, too. Via Baseball Prospectus (premium content; subscription required):

RAY "RUBE" CALDWELL, CLEVELAND INDIANS: Struck by lightning while making his first start for the Indians in the ninth inning of the August 24, 1919 game against the A's. He got up and finished the inning for a 2-1 win.
Ya gotta admire dedication like that.

Len on 09.06.05 @ 04:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hobbes and Malthus…

...Have more relevancy than to just Hurricane Katrina, just New Orleans, just the poor or forgotten last week - and here is a piece by George Will (Newsweek) Leviathan in Louisiana:

"…Regardless of where individual Americans begin or end in fitting Katrina into their interpretation of reality, the storm's furies and, even more, the social furies it unleashed will deepen Americans' sense that, in Aristophanes' words, "whirl is King, having driven out Zeus." In the dystopia that is New Orleans as this is written, martial law is a utopian aspiration. Granted, countless acts, recorded and unrecorded, of selflessness and heroism attest to the human capacity for nobility. But this, too, is true: The swiftness of New Orleans' descent from chaos into barbarism must compound the nation's nagging anxiety that more irrationality is rampant in the world just now than this nation has the power to subdue or even keep at bay.

Which is to say, Katrina will condition the debate about Iraq. Here is why.

Politics is a distinctively human activity, but it arises from something not distinctively human—from anxiety about security, and fear of violent death. On the firm foundation of this brute fact, Thomas Hobbes erected a political philosophy that last week reacquired urgent pertinence.

In 1651, in "Leviathan," Hobbes said that in "the state of nature," meaning in the absence of a civil society sustained by government, mankind's natural sociability, if any, is so tenuous that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Thoughtful conservatives—meaning those whose conservatism arises from reflections deeper than an aversion to high marginal tax rates—are conservative because they understand how thin and perishable is the crust of civilization, and hence how always near society's surface are the molten passions that must be checked by force when they cannot be tamed by socialization.

Katrina drove from the nation's television screens numbing pictures of daily carnage in Iraq, where—speaking of how quickly crowds can become mobs—last week perhaps 950 Shiite pilgrims were trampled to death in a panic induced by a rumor about a suicide bomber. Iraq's insurgents, the creators of an atmosphere of deadly suggestibility, are now attacking the power grid and other elements of urban infrastructure, an attempt, not unsuccessful, to create a Hobbesian state of nature. Their hope is that Iraqis will demand a Leviathan—any authoritarian regime capable of imposing order.

So Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security.”

But I wanted to add a comment here from another body of thought: that of Thomas Malthus, an English economist and demographer from the 1700’s, who published a famous book in 1798 about population growth tending to outrun the food supply or growth of the food production. This is called a Malthusian Dilemma. I interject it here by way of analogy to apply to the people trapped by Katrina in New Orleans who faced conditions of decreasing scare resources of food and water and were unable to escape.

This is neither an excuse for looting, bad behavior nor meant to condone any of the terrible things that happened. But merely to recognize that fact that under conditions of scare resources in both food, water, and necessities to live (a Malthusian dilemma) and combined with a Hobbesian break down of society, security and order it is often "predicted" to cause a lethally sad situation. This is what can occur without preparedness of the government to maintain order and react to the circumstances with sufficient aid and supplies.

And, again, my questions is: Whether Our Government it Up to that Challenge as tested by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or for the next situation to arise and affect the Nation on such a huge scale?

Karen on 09.06.05 @ 02:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Issue of National Preparedness is Still the Question...

While we've been waging a fierce debate (on blog and off-blog) over this Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina issues and fall-out- The Main issue of National Preparedness still is the Open Question.

I began my part of this with an observation in a comment:

Well - I did a post about War of the Worlds, but what I didn’t mention at that time was the most horrifying thing about the movie wasn’t the Aliens attacking (tho’ the devastation and destruction with fields of blood were Gross)...

...But what scared the crap out of me (and my kids) was how the Humans dealt with the immediate threat reactions and the subsequent evacuation scenarios – and there were several – that come depressingly close to what must be the situations in New Orleans of Mobs and Looters grabbing what they can. So much for "society" under those conditions. Sad, but so close to the truth.

And that lack of *preparedness* applies to any attacks or disasters we face in the future.

This bAdmin is still squandering all the time, money and resources that could be used more effectively and put into some plan (ANY Plan) for evacuations and emergency needs. Unless ya count their *joke* of buying rolls of duct tape and stocking your own "emergency kits" as our Government "PLAN A" in a real emergency. Bleh!!!

And they had at least five days advance notice!! Ya think we’d get such advanced timing notice and exact location with a real terrorist attack again?

And that HAS always been the underlying Issue Number 1 - regardless of If and Where any apportionment of Blame is meted out is the question of the response and preparedness for a Predicted National Disaster.

From the 2001 report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the three likeliest potential disasters to threaten America. They were: an earthquake in San Francisco, a terrorist attack in New York City (predicted before 9/11), and a hurricane hitting New Orleans.

The Disaster in New Orleans, based on a Hurricane scenario, had the best lead time, advanced notice, and ability to demonstrate an effective plan for a large-case disaster mobilization for the area as well as the thousands of N.O. "evacuees." (I will say "evacuees" - Since *refugees* is unacceptable a term.)

These FED Disaster Plans (as I posted on here HERE) are still only in a Draft stage. The Homeland Security Dept has YET to demonstrate the efficacy of those plans since they aren’t even dry ink on a page yet. So, how does this show a National *preparedness* under extreme circumstances or any ability to perform on a National Level scale of disaster planning since 9-11?!?

This IS the Question and it IS National in scope; as posed these excerpts from the following two pieces: one from the ultraconservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages, the other from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.

Click on the “more” button to read further…

Karen on 09.06.05 @ 12:26 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Legal Asides...

Speaking of comments and commentators [we *were* weren't we???] – I had come across this interesting *aside* over at Discourse.net from Michael Froomkin:

Can Bloggers Be Sued for Commentators' Postings?:

”Several people have been kind enough to send me pointers to this Slashdot item on a blogger being sued for defamation and trade secret disclosures which were (at least primarily) committed by posters to his blog.

I've posted my comment on this at slashdot, but I suppose I should reprint it here too. And while we're at it, I might as well improve and expand it a little...

Insofar as we're concerned with liability for the commentator's remarks, the Communications Decency Act, sec. 230(c)(1) says,

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
And, in sect. 230 (f)(3),

"The term ''information content provider'' means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.

if you read the full text of sec. 230 you will see that Congress intended fairly broad protection; in sec. 230(f)(3) it certainly wrote in very broad terms. Why a blog with comments would be treated differently from, say, a BBS or a chat room escapes me.

The leading case on sec. 230, Zeran v. America Online, Inc. 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997) adopts a broad reading of it, some later cases in California state court and in the Seventh Circuit critique that breadth. And to the extent they wish to impose distributor liability as opposed to publisher liability -- ie you're liable if you keep it on line after being on notice as to the problem -- there may be some merit to their critique. Even so, I think that the publisher's liability for defamation claim is covered by sec. 230, and probably the distributor liability also.

The trade secret claim is a little harder. Congress didn't have trade secrets in mind when it wrote sec. 230. The CDA immunity in sec. 230 doesn't create a new protection for intellectual property claims (see 230(f)). So it's not an open-and-shut issue on the trade secrets. Nevertheless, unlike defamation law which applies to everyone, common law trade secret duties usually fall only on those who have a duty to keep the information secret, or who misappropriated it, not on innocent third parties.

A similar rule is found in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, although the Act creates a civil right of action against third parties who "at the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that his knowledge of the trade secret was (I) derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it." Whether that applies to this case is of course a factual question. I suspect it wouldn't apply in the ordinary case of a blog comment, but might if the blogger had a special knowledge about the situation.

In law there are few certainties until after a court rules, but absent unusual facts I think the balance here points towards a finding of non-liability both on CDA grounds and traditional trade secret grounds where innocent receivers of information, and especially journalists who receive information, are not usually liable.

Update: These issues and many more are discussed EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers.
[Edited and re-ordered for clarity.]

Now, this is limited to issues about proprietary trademark information and trade secret violations. But it's an interesting topic to muse about.

Karen on 09.06.05 @ 10:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We can but hope....

Slate's "Medical Examiner" column has me worrying:

Avian flu and the risk of worldwide epidemic.

The news on the avian flu front ranges from very bad to moderately bad to slightly good.

The worst first: As this animated map shows, avian flu is marching inexorably westward across Russia toward Europe, wreaking havoc among poultry and occasionally infecting humans. Just to remind you, H5N1 influenza virus is highly virulent for chickens and for humans (infected chickens or humans have a substantial chance of dying), highly infectious for chickens (exposed birds usually become ill), but, so far, poorly infectious for humans (exposed people generally do not acquire the disease). However, if this strain of flu behaves like other strains—and there is no reason to expect otherwise—sooner or later it will acquire the ability to easily infect people; and if that happens, we may be at risk for the same fate as those tens of thousands of dead chickens in the poultry houses of Asia and Russia. The risk of the disease as it is carried west by migrating waterfowl is being taken so seriously in Europe that the Dutch government has ordered farmers to move all poultry indoors, and German farmers will likely shortly be similarly instructed.

The middling bad news: While H5N1 may be preventable by a vaccine, we don't have one yet that has been fully tested and shown to work. We have a candidate vaccine, and the federal government has contracted for 2 million doses of it (because if things get bad we might need to use it, fully tested or not). The federal agency sponsoring the vaccine's development, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, trumpets it as strong and effective and anticipates that the only problem is whether we can produce enough. Others looking at the same data, however, are not sure the vaccine will work.

Sensing opportunity, some small startup American firms are aggressively trying to develop alternative vaccines based on totally different approaches that have ever been used before. There is no telling what people will do if widespread desperation sets in, but it seems to me very unlikely that any of these products can possibly be ready in time.

The minimally good news: The world is starting to take H5N1 seriously. For example, the British government just circulated a fine booklet about the virus. Probably more important, the Swiss drug maker Roche has donated 3,000,000 doses of the one remaining effective anti-viral drug (oseltamivir, sold as Tamiflu) to the World Health Organization's rapid-response stockpile, to be used in poor countries where the disease might emerge. I understand the U.S. government's need not to fan panic, but I hope it is privately addressing this problem in a more serious way than is readily apparent. If not, we are in big trouble.
Given the U.S. government's lackluster response to the hurricane, I'm not optimistic.

Len on 09.06.05 @ 07:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gratuitous ad hominem? Here's why I don't think so....

Today's comment du jour is a point well taken from a not-infrequent commenter:

Excuse me? The president is a bad man because "his mother is a heartless bitch," according to one out-of-context quote?

I'm as liberal as you are, but this kind of sleazy, partisan, ad hominem attack is precisely why I don't read your political posts (or pretty much anyone else's) anymore. When you attack your target's
family, you throw away any credibility you might once have had.
Conceding that the point is well taken, I'm not going to back off from the original assertion, which, I don't think is a gratuitous ad hominem. My reasoning (you may, if you wish, add scare quotes around that if you want; I won't be offended) runs along the following lines:

1. Barbara Bush is a heartless bitch. My primary data point for that is the (to my mind) incredibly offensive statement she was quoted as making (and not just in print; today the Rachel Maddow Show and Morning Sedition have been playing an audio clip of Mrs. Bush making that statement), that the evacuation of refugees from persons displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina was "working very well" for them.

Even looking at that statement in the light most favorable to Mrs. Bush, it shows an astonishing (to my mind) callousness and lack of sympathy and sensitivity to the plight of the persons displaced by the hurricane. It's certainly possible, even probable, that some (possibly many) of these persons are going to wind up having things "work out quite well" over the long term. But that's most certainly not going to be true for all (possibly not even for most), and to make so light of the plight of the victims of the storm during a tour of the evacuation centers suggests to me that Mrs. Bush is an egg roll and side order of fried rice short of a combo plate in the area of basic human sympathy.

That's my primary data point; I don't have the time and the inclination to go digging into her past for more evidence, but my personal impression of Mrs. Bush, dating back to before her days as First Lady, has left me with the impression that, far from being the benign, "America's grandmother", that her press coverage during her husband's term as President led many (if not most) of us to believe, she's a cast iron bitch.

2. George W. Bush is a bad man. I'm going to qualify that in the terms of two of yesterday's "Gems":
Bush is just a bad human being, not just morally bad, but deficient in character, judgment, skill, relevant experience, empathetic capacity, and maturity.
from Brian Leiter, and:
...his belated and indifferent reaction to the suffering caused by the hurricane, have made people see him as the lazy, self-centered, smug, privileged, uncaring, and deeply unreflective man many of us have been calling him from the start.... he continually, constantly hits false notes in trying to show and express the simulacrum of caring (for dead troops, for suffering Gulf Coast victims, for the opinions of anyone who doesn’t agree with him)....
from Progressive Blog Digest.

In this particular case, the issue is, of course, Bush's lack of sensitivity and sympathy for those not a member of the privileged classes of which he, himself, is a member. This has been a defining character trait of Bush's since long before his successful Presidential run placed him into the national limelight.

3. (This is, perhaps, the hidden part of the "argument") Bush wasn't born an unsympathetic, uncaring individual; he had to learn that behavior. And where did Bush learn that behavior? As the idiomatic expression has it, "at his momma's knee". I have no doubt that George W. Bush is an uncaring, unfeeling, unsympathetic aristocratic classist precisely because his mother is that type of person, and he imbibed such values "in his mother's milk", as it were.

So, Q.E.D., "Dubya Bush is a bad man because his mother is a heartless bitch."

Granted, I could have made the same point more temperately, and appeared less "sleazy, partisan, [and] ad hominem" than the original post in question did. However, as I often point out when asked "why do you blog?", basically this blog isn't an exercise in dispassionate, fair and balanced seeking after truth (sometimes it is, but we make no promises). I started the blog way back when (January, 2003), because venting here was preferable to the alternative ways of venting (most of which might subject me to a lengthy term of imprisonment, or worse).

So that's my "defense" (such as it is) to the charge of "ad hominem". As to the others:

"Partisan"? I respectfully disagree. Actually, I've pretty much given up on partisan politics in the United States, because the political spectrum here (roughly two standard deviations either side of the mean) ranges from the rabid paranoiac and religious right, on the right side of the aisle, to the just-to-the-right-of-center (what the conservatives demonize as the "liberal" mainstream of the Democratic party). If I'm forced to come up with a description of my political stand, I'd have to say "social democrat"--far to the left of the current "mainstream" of the Democratic party. When I vote, I tend to vote for the Democratic candidate as being closer to my views than the Republican, but I'm not by any means a partisan Democrat--for example, I'm publicly on record that it'll be a cold day in hell before I vote for Harold Ford, Jr. for any political office he runs for as long as either of us live.

"Sleazy"? Well... I'll cheerfully plead guilty there. If you can't indulge in the occasional sleazy, snarky, rhetorical low blow... well, what's the point of having a blog, then?


Len on 09.06.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch:


Len on 09.06.05 @ 05:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Last year, my wife and I lived through four hurricanes. She was finishing grad school at the University of Florida, and even though we were pretty far inland (Gainesville), we lost power for a total of two weeks. I never really got used to it: the rotting groceries, the mosquitoes, the headache you get reading by candlelight, the general gloom. During Ivan, the last of the four, I had the good luck to be in Virginia—or so I thought. A few days later, Ivan caught up with me on the road to Washington, D.C., and blew me back to my motel in Williamsburg. It's hard not to take that sort of thing personally.
--Blake Bailey, "My Year of Hurricanes: I lost everything in Katrina."

Len on 09.06.05 @ 05:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

How could I forget....

to check out WhiteHouse.Org in the midst of this crisis. There's a couple gems there worth reading:

Responding to Hurricane Katrina: President's Remarks Announcing Extremely Belated Launch of "Operation Bureaucratic Clusterfuck"

Statement by the President

THE PRESIDENT: Alright, I'm back in Warshington. Everybody happy now? So what say we kick off this little hurricane wrap-up party already? It's almost time for my pre-lunch nap.

You know, yesterday, as I gazed down from Air Force One at Katrina's destruction, many thoughts flitted through my noggin. First of which was "Hey, them poor folk up to their hips in poo water – they vote for me?" The second thought was, of course, how happy I was to be on a photo shoot thousands of feet up in the air, safely away from The Big Queasy. Stinky smells make me gag like Jenna after six or seven pounders of Smirnoff Ice.

Apparently, prayer can't hold back the waters of the Mississippi. And maybe – just maybe – we shoulda tossed a few extra "BOMB IRAQI CHILDREN" nickels towards maintaining the levees in America's favorite slave-trade-truck-stop-cum-party-town. No wonder those folk drink so damn much. I would too if I lived in a watery deathtrap!

But listen – I promise to save New Orleans, and by "I promise to save New Orleans", I mean I will delegate relief to the state level while simultaneously gumming up the works with that new breed of Capitol Hill bureaucrat – the fair weather McChristian incompetent whose daddy was a Pioneer-level contributor to my campaign and thinks his ideas are actually worth a damn. Because even if House Speaker Denny Hastert sez we oughtta just bulldoze the whole damned town, I firmly believe that Nigra Soup City should be rebuilt – if for no other reason than to restock its ghettos with our very own third world unfortunates!

If there's a silver lining, and I think Denny and Dippity Doo Lott will agree, is that in 30 or 40 years, New Orleans will make one fantastic luxury yacht marina. And think about it: the city comes with thousands of its own help!
And then there's this one:

President's Statement Expressing Profound Sorrow Over Hurricane Katrina's Vicious Assault on His Paid Five Week Vacation
Statement by the President

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you. As one or two of you may heard by now, there seems to have been a little rain storm or something down on the Northern Gulf Coast.

Now when my people first told me how something real bad was happening, and there was like, total hardcore death and destruction, I had an awful tough Presidential choice to make. Should I do a 9/11™ – and skedaddle as far away as I could in my giant, super-safe plane? Or should I do like I did with that Asiatic Tsunammy thing, and just ignore it for a couple days? Well today I'm proud to inform the American people that they're really getting their money's worth with me – on account of I pulled out all the stops and did BOTH!


And while I was at it, I even managed to squeeze in a little American Idol action. Man was I kicking myself that I left my Nero costume back at the ranch!


Len on 09.05.05 @ 09:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

No wonder Dubya is such a bad man...

His mother is a heartless bitch:

Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."
I don't know what boat(s) the Bush family forebears immigrated to this country on, but it would have been much, much better for this country if it/they had sank, drowning all aboard.

Credit Chain: Atrios, via The Flypaper Theory.

And right underneath the above item on Atrios, we get this sad story:
How the underclass sees things:
Rescue 'ticket'

I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a "ticket." Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue.
Unfortunately, I'm not so surprised. The relentless call for privatization of social services would certainly lead some to believe such a "pay for play" system is to come.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 08:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gems o'the Day:

From Progressive Blog Digest:

Like the moment when the curtain is pulled back to reveal the levers and machinery that make a puny man appear to be a Great Wizard, the events unfolding around Hurricane Katrina have revealed to people the true George Bush – and even many of his strongest supporters are disillusioned and angry.

To most of PBD’s readers, this is no surprise, but after 9/11 Bush enjoyed an extraordinary level of support, even by many who did not vote for him, because in the wake of that horrible event people wanted a Man in Charge -- plain-spoken, humble, but strong and decisive.

But what they have seen for the past several months, on issue after issue (Iraq, Plame, Sheehan, Katrina) is a weasly, cowardly, defensive hair-splitter who continually ducks responsibility for his own actions and blames others. He doesn't even stick by his own tough-guy promises. (Just for example, "I will fire anyone who works for me who leaks" . . . .oops. . . you mean Karl?. . . .uh. . . .well. . . "I will fire anyone convicted of a felony after it is proven in a court of law" -- which he would have to do anyway, of course).

Even worse, the timing of his unbelievably self-indulgent five week vacation and his dodging of the Wicked Witch Cindy Sheehan, followed up now by his belated and indifferent reaction to the suffering caused by the hurricane, have made people see him as the lazy, self-centered, smug, privileged, uncaring, and deeply unreflective man many of us have been calling him from the start.

Now, as the staged photo ops are revealed as just that, as his own words get redefined for him by Rove and the Communications Team, and as he continually, constantly hits false notes in trying to show and express the simulacrum of caring (for dead troops, for suffering Gulf Coast victims, for the opinions of anyone who doesn’t agree with him), he has reached his worst moment – a moment that Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton all reached – the moment when your one deepest character flaw is exposed, the one flaw that people will not forgive you for. The smug little rich boy who was plucked from a life of uneven accomplishment by his Daddy’s advisors, who saw him as an ambitious and malleable instrument for their plan to remake the government and transform the Middle East, now stands before us, manifestly unprepared for the moment. He doesn’t “get it,” but more damningly doesn’t think he has to.
From Brian Leiter (pointing us to the PBD entry quoted above):
This is apt and does get to a central aspect of the problem that recent events have thrown into relief: Bush is just a bad human being, not just morally bad, but deficient in character, judgment, skill, relevant experience, empathetic capacity, and maturity.


Only one quibble:
a life of uneven accomplishment? To the contrary, his is a very even life: it is nothing but failures and foul-ups, despite having every opportunity. Bush has fouled up every grown-up undertaking in his life.
And from the "demented" Cindy Sheehan:
George Bush has been an incompetent failure his entire life. Fortunately for humanity, he was just partying his way through school, running companies into the ground, and being an alcoholic and cocaine abuser for most of that time - and his incompetence was limited to hurting the people who worked for him and his own family. The people in his life who were hurt by his incompetence probably have been able to "get on" with their lives. Now, though, his incompetence affects the world and is responsible for so many deaths and so much destruction. How many of us did not foresee the mess he would make of the world when he was selected the first time? We saw what he had done to Texas. How many of us marveled and were so discouraged and amazed when he was "re-elected" the second time? We saw what he had done to the world. Dangerous incompetence should never be rewarded, let alone be rewarded so handsomely as in George's case.
And from Jo Fish, the Democratic Veteran:
Rove's next task: tying Zarqawi to Blanco. Then he'll pass on some "off the record" information purporting to have audio of them talking about the brilliant weather manipulation of Katrina by Al-Qaeda to embarrass Beloved Leader, followed by a Swift-boating of all the displaced persons as "Welfare Queens" who are just out to get something for nothing. Did I miss anything?
From The Pesky Fly, here in Memphis:
According to The Marquis de Chertoff, on the eve of potential catastrophe he pulled back his crisp, clean, high thread-count sheets, and cozied up in his bed like a good little Aristocrat. When he awoke the next morning, instead of using all the Governmental resources at his command, he picked up the morning paper and read a headline: Gulf Coast "Dodged the Bullet."

"Well," he said. "I'm sure glad to hear THAT!"

Since only a few poor, colored (most likely gay) people were dead, and the structural damage was, "no big whoop," he stayed in his soft Winnie The Pooh pajamas for a second cup of International Foods instant coffee. Mmmmm. Minty.

One BIG FUCKING problem--- What newspaper is his lordship reading? As Wonkette points out, it wasn't one of the majors, and it certainly wasn't the
And from Dr. Abby:
"Finally, America will have to get over the shock of seeing itself in a new, unflattering light."

- from The Guardian

I’m not shocked. After a year working on the front lines in Memphis, I am not shocked. I imagine that very few of the Midtowners or fellow-interns I met this past year would be shocked in the least. We have let our poor down. I have been trying to recall the quote which states that the measure of govertnment is how it treats its poor. We have failed.

Last night I met a woman who was talking about her personal trainer who she’d hired for $70 per session. A few minutes later, we discussed the 2,000 people from New Orleans being brought to Boston to stay in the Fleet Center. This woman wasn’t sure she was comfortable having these people come to her city. I did not punch her in the face.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 07:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From Brian Williams on MSNBC

Some interesting thoughts:

I suspect millions of Americans passed this Labor Day weekend the same way: Alternating between watching the coverage (heartened to see relief arriving and rescues progressing as we near the one-week mark, somewhat unbelievably) and steeling themselves to turn away from it to enjoy some semblance of a holiday weekend. Here in the East at least, the sparkling late summer weather combined with a palpable national sadness remind us all of the same time of year exactly four years ago.

Just enough progress has been made... just enough relief is visible on the television screen... to allow the first early, furtive glimpses over our shoulders at what went wrong initially. It is a kind of slow-motion, ongoing outrage that lives are still being lost in this most robust of all nations on earth.

In a strange way, the most outrageous news pictures of this day may be those of progress: The palettes of food and water that have just been dropped at selected landing zones in the downtown area of New Orleans. It's an outrage because all of those elements existed before people died for lack of them: There was water, there was food, and there were choppers to drop both. Why no one was able to combine them in an air drop is a cruel and criminal mystery of this dark chapter in our recent history. The words "failure of imagination" come to mind. The concept of an air drop of supplies was one we apparently introduced to the director of FEMA during a live interview on Nightly News on Thursday evening... He responded by saying that he'd been unaware of the thousands gathered at the Convention Center. Later that evening an incredulous Ted Koppel on ABC was left with no choice but to ask if the FEMA director was watching the same television coverage as the rest of the nation.

Complaints are still rampant in New Orleans about a lack of information. It's one of many running themes of the past week: There were no announcements in the Superdome during the storm, none to direct people after the storm, no official word (via bullhorn, leaflets or any other means) during the week-long, on-foot migration (and eventual stagnation) that defined life in the downtown section of the city for those first few days. One can't help but think that a single-engine plane towing a banner over the city would have been immeasurably helpful in both crowd and rumor control.
[emphasis supplied --LRC]
And there are still some fools who defend such incompetence. Simply amazing.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 07:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Why is the bAdministration lying to us yet again....

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall points out that both the Washington Post and Newsweek, citing an unnamed "senior Bush official", had reported that Louisiana Gov. Blanco had not, as of Saturday, September 3, 2005, declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, and that this failure had held up Federal intervention in the area.

The problem being, as Larry Johnson noted in his posts that I note below, Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26. That can be verified on the official State of Louisiana website (.pdf file). (For that matter, Johnson noted that President Bush himself declared a state of emergency on August 28.)

So who's passing lies to the media? My guess is Karl "soon to be indicted, I hope" Rove.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 06:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Local incompetence? Who cares?

Larry Johnson, at No Quarter, has three excellent posts showing that the current wingnut meme--that responsibility for the inadequate reaction to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is to be laid on the shoulders of state and local government, and not on the incompetence of the Bush bAdministration--is specious bullshit at best. In chronological order:

Katrina: Hotwash vs. Whitewash

Criminal Negligence and Katrina

Bush vs. Blanco: Bush Dropped the Ball

From the last cited post:

Don't let Bush off the hook. The White House effort to blame the Governor of Louisiana ignores some critical facts:

The Governor of Louisiana declared a State of Emergency on 26 August 2005, which is a pre-requisite for invoking the Stafford Act:


The Governor, per the National Response Plan, followed this request with a letter on Saturday, 27 August 2005, invoking the Stafford Act. Note this letter inludes specific requests for aid:


President Bush, in keeping with the Stafford Act, issued a declaration of a State of Emergecy on 28 August 2005:

President Bush has declared a state of emergency for the Gulf Coast state of Louisiana, as it braces for the expected onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, set to make landfall on Monday.

Saturday's emergency declaration authorizes federal officials to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide appropriate assistance in several Louisiana parishes.

Hours earlier, Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi declared their own states of emergency in preparation for the storm, and evacuations of low-lying areas began.
(From the Voice of America)

Now, according to the National Response Plan, the onus was on the Department of Homeland Security to kick the disaster relief effort into high gear. The State of Louisiana had provided the Feds with a basic list of needs.

The dispute over who controls the Louisiana National Guard is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the basic responsibility and clear failure of Federal Officials to do what they were authorized to do under their own National Response Plan.

This chart alone highlights the failure of Chertoff and Brown. If President Bush is in charge he ought to hold them accountable.
[emphasis in original --LRC]
Meanwhile, over at Why Now?, Bryan gives us an enlightening first person comparison between FEMA response to Hurricane Opal in 1995 and the response to Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Bryan also has an interesting post on The Siege of New Orleans:
By now everyone has heard that assistance was prevented from entering New Orleans for days after it was available and people were begging for it. The reasoning put forward by Homeland Security was: if food and water was allowed into New Orleans people would refuse to evacuate.

I was somewhat stunned to be asked to accept that the Federal officials in charge of this effort actually believed that human beings would choose to live in the abject conditions of filth, discomfort and danger seen in and around the SuperDome and Convention Center if you gave them something to eat and clean water to drink. I can only conclude that Mr. Chertoff assumes that the residents of New Orleans are less than human.

The Federal officials wanted people out of New Orleans, so they laid siege to the city. They sealed it off from the outside world. They didn't provide the communications equipment that was sitting in warehouses and might have helped the overwhelmed public safety personnel maintain control of the situation. On
Meet The Press Mr. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, tells us that FEMA cut emergency communications in his area. They might have been successful if members of the media with satellite phones hadn't managed to get in before they could complete their encirclement of the area.

They are still intent on starving out any stragglers. They have declared war on the city. They didn't want civil order to be maintained, they have done everything they could to prevent it.
Shocking. Simply shocking.

How individuals can support officials who act with such inhumanity, and remain easy in their consciences, simply eludes me.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 06:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Drowned in The Bathtub...


”One of the creepier vanities of most political leaders is the private yearning to be tested on a historical scale. Bill Clinton used to confide that, no matter what else he did as President, without a major war to fight he could never join the ranks of Lincoln and F.D.R. During the Presidential debates in 2000, George W. Bush informed his opponent, Al Gore, that natural catastrophes are “a time to test your mettle.” Bush had seen his father falter after a hurricane in South Florida. But now he has done far worse. Over five days last week, from the onset of the hurricane on the Gulf Coast on Monday morning to his belated visit to the region on Friday, Bush’s mettle was tested—and he failed in almost every respect.

Obviously, a hurricane is beyond human blame, and the political miscalculations that have come to light—the negligent planning, the delayed rescue and aid efforts, the thoroughly confused and uninspired political leadership—cannot all be laid at the feet of President Bush. But you could sense, watching him being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America”—defensive, confused, overwhelmed—that he knew that he had delivered a series of feeble, vague, almost flippant speeches in the early days of the crisis, and that the only way to prevent further political damage was to inoculate himself with the inevitable call for non-partisanship: “I hope people don’t play politics during this period of time.”

And yet, to a frightening degree, Bush’s faults of leadership and character were brought into high relief by the crisis. Suntanned and relaxed after a vacation so long that it would have shamed a French playboy, Bush reacted with fogged delinquency, as if he had been so lulled by his summer sojourn that he was not quite ready to acknowledge reality, let alone attempt to master it. His first view of the floods came, pitifully, theatrically, from the window of a low-flying Air Force One, and all the President could muster was, according to his press secretary, “It’s devastating. It’s got to be doubly devastating on the ground.” The moment demanded clarity of mind and rigorous governance, and yet he could not summon them. The performance skills Bush eventually mustered after September 11th—in his bullhorn speech at Ground Zero, in his first speech to Congress—eluded him. The whole conceit of his Presidency, that he was an instinctive chief executive backed by “grownups” like Dick Cheney and tactical wizards like Karl Rove, now seemed as water-logged as Biloxi and New Orleans. The mismanagement of the Katrina floods echoed the White House mismanagement—the cavalier posture, the wretched decisions, the self-delusions—in postwar Iraq.

Just as serious, the President’s priorities, his indifference to questions of infrastructure and the environment, magnified an already complicated disaster. In an era of tax cuts for the wealthy, Bush consistently slashed the Army Corps of Engineers’ funding requests to improve the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain. This year, he asked for $3.9 million, $23 million less than the Corps requested. In the end, Bush reluctantly agreed to $5.7 million, delaying seven contracts, including one to enlarge the New Orleans levees. Former Republican congressman Michael Parker was forced out as the head of the Corps by Bush in 2002 when he dared to protest the lack of proper funding.

Similarly, the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which is supposed to improve drainage and pumping systems in the New Orleans area, recently asked for $62.5 million; the White House proposed $10.5 million. Former Louisiana Senator John Breaux, a pro-Bush Democrat, said, “All of us said, ‘Look, build it or you’re going to have all of Jefferson Parish under water.’ And they didn’t, and now all of Jefferson Parish is under water.”

The President’s incuriosity, his prideful insistence on being an underbriefed “gut player,” is not looking so charming right now, either, if it ever did. In the ABC interview, he said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.” Even the most cursory review shows that there have been comprehensive and chilling warnings of a potential calamity on the Gulf Coast for years. The most telling, but hardly the only, example was a five-part series in 2002 by John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a newspaper that heroically kept publishing on the Internet last week. After evaluating the city’s structural deficiencies, the Times-Picayune reporters concluded that a catastrophe was “a matter of when, not if.” The same paper said last year, “For the first time in 37 years, federal budget cuts have all but stopped major work on the New Orleans area’s east bank hurricane levees, a complex network of concrete walls, metal gates and giant earthen berms that won’t be finished for at least another decade.” A Category 4 or 5 hurricane would be a catastrophe: “Soon the geographical ‘bowl’ of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops—terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris.” And that describes much of the Gulf Coast today.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 04:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the latest Kraftwerk show

Pictures from the Electric Picnic Festival in Ireland, September 3, 2005.

Len on 09.05.05 @ 02:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Magic Number Watch


Len on 09.05.05 @ 01:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Great moments in graphic design

During some recent tooling around the web, I managed to find these gems, which show that graphic design is a profession fraught with perils of its own.

Of course, sometimes the designer isn't at fault, it's just what the ultimate end user does with the designs:

Sometimes, it's just plain difficult to visualize ahead of time all the possible ways that your design might be used as a background:

But then again, maybe sometimes you really, really need to take a few days away from the design, and then come back and look at it afresh, because sometimes, what you meant to show isn't what the rest of us (particularly those of us with dirty minds) are going to see:

Len on 09.05.05 @ 10:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

What I liked most about the movie, I think, is that it undermines the self-congratulatory myths we cultivate about sports in America. It writes the obituary of good sportsmanship. Grantland Rice wrote "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." To which, according to the Baseball Almanac, the celebrated baseball team owner Gene Autry replied: "Grantland Rice can go to hell, as far as I'm concerned."
--Roger Ebert [on the film
The Bad News Bears (2005)]

Len on 09.05.05 @ 09:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My personal viewpoint...

Compare the transcripts of these disparate views of the Government response to past week's event in New Orleans: The "talking heads" from Liberals to Conservatives over at PBS, Jim Lehrer’s New Hour versus the opinions from the Head-up-his-arse talking pundit, John Hinderaker over at Powerline.

FUCK YOU, John Hinderaker and your MORON's analysis of it’s "all about the Liberal MSM MEDIA and their coverage" of this National Disgrace. What WOULD it take for you to hold this POTUS and his Wrecking-ball of a Government RESPONSIBLE for ANYTHING?!?!?

I’ve seen some OFF the Wall Shit… but you FUCK HEADs over Powerline take the Cake.

*Whew* - Sorry - I just had to get that off my mind. (And some time I'll Tell you what I REALLY think...)

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Purpose of Government...

Crooks and Liars provides a transcript and video of Bob Schieffer’s commentary on the bAdmin's efforts:

"SCHIEFFER: Finally, a personal thought. We have come through what may have been one of the worst weeks in America's history, a week in which government at every level failed the people it was created to serve.

There is no purpose for government except to improve the lives of its citizens. Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality.

As the floodwaters rose, local officials in New Orleans ordered the city evacuated. They might as well have told their citizens to fly to the moon. How do you evacuate when you don't have a car? No hint of intelligent design in any of this. This was just survival of the richest."

Well, I for one give my DOG more credit for behaving humanely and with more concern for my welfare than any of these White House Cretins, Apparatchiks and Criminals. But Thanks, Bob Shieffer and others, for pointing out these failings from the Top-Down management at ALL levels of Government this week.

And this from Bilmon at Whiskey Bar:
"Paul Krugman's column in yesterday's New York Times argues that the Cheney administration's lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina is a symptom of a much larger problem -- the GOP contempt for government:
At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures.

I was thinking about posting something along those same lines -- along with a modest proposal to chaingang all the conservative pundits and politicians who've spent the past twenty five years trashing the federal government, and put them to work stacking sandbags down in Louisiana. And while we're at it, we could take all the think-tank libertarians and corporate bunko artists who promised us their blessed free market could and would solve all human problems, and use them as filler for the sandbags.

But after thinking about it, I realized Krugman got it wrong -- or at least partially wrong. This catastrophe isn't a product of the anti-government biases of the conservative true believers; it's a product of the uses to which government has been put by the Mayberry Machiavellis and their GOP ward heelers in Congress.

Even the legally blind can see the Rovians are serious about the essential functions of government. It's just that in their value system, funneling federal money to sympathetic interest groups while simulatenously redistributing the tax burden away from those same groups are the two essential functions of government.

Likewise, the Bush family is prepared to spend almost unlimited amounts of federal money on preventative measures -- that is, on efforts to prevent them from losing an election...."

UPDATE: Click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 05:59 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Here are two off-the-cuff piece from an anonymous Blogger called Alameida; Loot I and Loot II


Now, I'm going to say something that's going to maybe make you all think I'm a bad person or something, but that's what "anonymous" blogging is for.

Living in D.C. for much of my life, I've given a lot of thought to the post-apocalyptic, breakdown of society questions. What would I do? I was just talking about this with my sister today; what if we were at our house and the dirty bomb went off? Let me be totally honest. I'd have my babies in the sling, the SKS in my hand, and a 9-mm in my pants waistband. (Well, unless we couldn't get away; then let's say we'd divide the labor and leave the babies at home). Hell yes, I would loot the pharmacy on day 1. Diapers, iodine, formula, food, electrolyte solution, clean water, heavy-duty antibiotics, wound dressings, and oxycontin. Valium too.

Would I leave the liquid morphine behind for other, less enterprising looters? No. Fuck the bullshit, people. Would I go around and try to save everybody in my neighborhood, bring the old ladies in their houses to my place, get formula to those other people's babies? Yes. If somebody looked at me wrong, would I shoot them? Yes.

If I saw the 20th rescue helicopter pass me by would I fire in the air to say "here we are, assholes! Somebody get down here!" Yes. And now, just to mix things up--would I loot the local jewelry store? The bank, if I thought it was practical? Yes. I'm kind of an amoral person that way. But I'm white! So it's all good. Discuss.

Seriously, stipulate that you have guns and ammo at home, but you're worried supplies will run low, and you know from personal experience watching TV this whole fucking week that you are totally on your own. Are you telling me you'd wait there like a putz? "Oh the government will come soon." With your children? You wouldn't go down to crowbar the front off the CVS? You're lying. All these "shoot-to-kill" warbloggers can kiss my ass. They would be the first ones out there, if they had the guts to go outside. More likely they'd die with cheeto dust on their hands in the basement, having just won convincingly at Risk.

UPDATE: from the Washington Post:

Herbert J. Freeman arrived in a neighbor's boat with his mother, Ethel M. Freeman, 91, frail and sick, but with an active mind. She kept asking him for a doctor, for a nurse, for anyone who could help her. Police told Freeman there was nothing they could do. She died in her wheelchair, next to her son, on Thursday morning.

It was half a day before he could find someone to take away her body, he said. "She wasn't senile or nothing," he said. "She knew what was going on. . . . I kept saying, 'Mom, I can't help you.' "

Next to Freeman, Kenny Lason, 45, a dishwasher at Pat O'Brien's, a French Quarter restaurant famous for its signature "Hurricane" cocktail, took a long slurp out of a bottle of Korbel extra-dry champagne. He broke a store window to get it, and he is not ashamed. "They wasn't giving us nothing," he said. "You got to live off the land."

Would that first man's mother have been better off if he had looted a pharmacy for IV solution, water, the medication she was taking, an umbrella to shade her in her wheelchair, and so on? Would the pharmacy owner be any more likely to claim total loss with his insurers than he is now? Are any of you really mad at the second guy who's drinking the Korbel? With what he's been through, it ought to have been Veuve Clicquot, at the bare minimum.

Loot II

Look, my point is not just that I can have Mad Max fantasies that are more awesome than yours. My point is: much of the criticism of the people trapped in New Orleans has centered around the idea that they gave up on civilized norms too quickly, that they themselves hastened the city's descent into anarchy with their selfish ways.

In retrospect, though, the people who waited until day 5 without food or water from any authorities before they condoned looting were played for suckers. Provided that the decentralized appropiation of supplies were accompanied with reasonably fair distribution, everyone would have been better off with more looting sooner.

Also, as my speculations indicate, plenty of people have "looting" in their minds from day 1, and not just poor people, not just desperate people. If I'm ready to countenance being this much of a jerk from my dry chair, what might a person not do in all good conscience?

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 05:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More on that Fake Sympathy and Fake Relief...

...this from Mark Kleiman: Fake Sympathy and Fake Relief Efforts: A Quote from Sen. Mary Landrieu:

""But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- black and white, rich and poor, young and old -- deserve far better from their national government. [Empahsis Kleiman's]

"Mr. President, I'm imploring you once again to get a cabinet-level official stood up as soon as possible to get this entire operation moving forward regionwide with all the resources -- military and otherwise -- necessary to relieve the unmitigated suffering and economic damage that is unfolding."

And this from Kevin Drum (Washington Monthly) on the "staging" of the other relief efforts as documented by the German TV crews [and reported by Thomas over at Newsrack]:
"UPDATE: Good God. Laura Rozen passes along the following report from a Dutch reader:

There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

This goes beyond stage management. This is criminal.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 05:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From a Few of those "Compassionate Conservatives"...

...Out there in La-La HeartLand of Milk and Honey: Courtesy of Hullabaloo is this post Compassionate Conservatives:

“It seems to me that the poor should have had the EASIEST time leaving. They don't need to pay for an extended leave from their home, they could have just packed a few belongings and walked away to start over somewhere else. What did they have to lose?

When the wealthy evacuate, they leave behind nice houses, expensive cars, possibly pets that they treat as members of the family, valuable jewelry, family heirlooms, etc. This makes it emotionally difficult for wealthy people to leave. But by definition, the poor do not have this burden: they either rent their homes, or they are in public housing; their cars are practically junk anyway; and they don't have any valuable possessions. This is what it means to be poor. These people could just pick up their few belongings, buy a one-way bus ticket to any city and be poor there. Supposing they even had jobs in NO, it's not like minimum wage jobs are hard to come by.”

More at the link if you can stand it.

I'm going to have one stiff drink. And then another. I don't recognize that as a fellow human much less a fellow American.

Update: For the record, that comment and all the others shown on Corrente are not made by Jane Galt herself. They are comments from her readers. I'm not sure what that says about her, but the post to which this is attached seems to have been written by a member of the human species.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 05:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Criminal Ineffectiveness...

And in conjunction with my previous post about the National Disgrace and efforts in an emergency and Crisis with US citizens dying by the thousands - minute by minute...

Pete over at A Perfetly Cromulent Blog had posted a picture and post of JUST what this Looks like In a Leader. Take a quick peek and read through of this one called: Our Leader.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 05:05 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The "US and THEM" Post...

Driftglass has posted a stunning Pictoral essay on the issue of WHO is running the Government for US citizens. Please check out US and THEM.

A few other posts are equally as good commentary. Particularly his More Lies, Please.

And apologies to those who find harsh commentary and images not "dispassionate" enough for their tastes. But this IS a National disgrace. I applauded Sen. Bob Graham's call for impeachment way back when, and I applaud the same call NOW for this criminally ineffectual F**K-Up of a President and his Traitorously Criminal Cronies in Office.

Karen on 09.05.05 @ 04:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thanks, Mike!

Due to some circumstances beyond my control (emergency medical expenses for my daughter, and some unforseen car repairs), I'm about this >< close to subsisting on ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese ("the starving student diet"), at least for a month or so.

But to the rescue rides the cavalry, in the form of Mike "Half-Bakered" Hollihan, who directs us to this recipe for "ninja ramen". Actually looks like it'll cook up to be a tasty treat; I may have to give it a try sometime.

Len on 09.04.05 @ 07:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

survival under a kleptocratic regime

storm exposed disarray at the top - the killer hurricane and flood that devastated the gulf coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.

despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.
to be fair, at least all of awol's buddies got your tax dollars for the homeland security contracts they were awarded. it's not like the last four years and billions of dollars have been completely wasted. we recommend you review your personal emergency kit. check battery supplies, etc. because, what awol has spent the last week demonstrating, is that when osama punks him again, we are all on our own.
--Pudentilla, at skippy the bush kangaroo

Len on 09.04.05 @ 07:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

New Coinage:

Somehow, I missed this on my morning reading and posting.

From Bryan at *Why Now*:

Christmas - Katrinamas

The Culture Ghost has made a note to himself to take the money that he would normally spend on Christmas and use it to help the victims of Katrina.

If you can't make that commitment, remember: there are any number of projects that offer various merchandise with the proceeds going to disaster relief that can be used as gifts.

You can make donations in the name of those on your gift list and many organizations will send a letter acknowledging the gift to the person.

This is a long-term problem and I think we can all agree that the government is not up to the task.

We have donated some immediate $$ via the Red Cross, but this is going to take more than a one time amount of funds for the long term effort and aid. Just like the victims of the tsunami, this is going to take multiple amounts and continued financial support.

So, Pass this Meme along and donate to *Katrinamas* through your charity of choice.


Karen on 09.04.05 @ 06:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

For my Hubby…Who Is Also Known By…

...His Indian Princess Tribal Name: Chief “Tall Man Who Looks But Does NOT See”:

Here is a Classic Dave Barry column, Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune Magazine, What Men Are Thinking:

What are men thinking?

”From time to time, I receive letters from a certain group of individuals that I will describe, for want of a better term, as "women." I have such a letter here, from a Susie Walker, of North Augusta, S.C., who asks the following question:

"Why do men open a drawer and say, 'Where is the spatula?' Instead of, you know, looking for it?"

This question expresses a commonly held (by women) negative stereotype about guys of the male gender, which is that they cannot find things around the house, especially things in the kitchen. Many women believe that if you want to hide something from a man, all you have to do is put it in plain sight in the refrigerator, and he will never, ever find it, as evidenced by the fact that a man can open a refrigerator containing 463 pounds of assorted meats, poultry, cold cuts, condiments, vegetables, frozen dinners, snack foods, desserts, etc., and ask, with no irony whatsoever, "Do we have anything to eat?"

Now, I COULD respond to this stereotype in a snide manner by making generalizations about women. I could ask, for example, how come your average woman prepares for virtually every upcoming event in her life, including dental appointments, by buying new shoes, even if she already owns as many pairs as the entire Riverdance troupe. I could point out that, if there were no women, there would be no such thing as Leonardo DiCaprio. I could point out that, to judge from the covers of countless women's magazines, the two topics most interesting to women are (1) Why men are all disgusting pigs, and (2) How to attract men.

Yes, I could raise these issues in response to the question regarding the man who was asking where the spatula was. I could even ask WHY this particular man might be looking for the spatula. Could it be that he needs a spatula to kill a spider, because, while he was innocently watching basketball and minding his own business, a member of another major gender-a gender that refuses to personally kill spiders but wants them all dead-DEMANDED that he kill the spider, which 9 times out of 10 turns out to be a male spider that was minding its own business?

As I say, I could raise these issues and resort to the kind of negativity indulged in by Susie Walker, of North Augusta, S.C. But I choose not to. I choose, instead, to address her question seriously, in hopes that, by improving the communication between the genders, all human beings-both men and women, together-will come to a better understanding of how dense women can be sometimes.

I say this because there is an excellent reason why a man would open the spatula drawer and, without looking for the spatula, ask where the spatula is: The man does not have TIME to look for the spatula. Why? Because HE IS BUSY THINKING. Men are ALMOST ALWAYS thinking. When you look at a man who appears to be merely scratching himself, rest assured that inside his head, his brain is humming like a high-powered computer, processing millions of pieces of information and producing important insights such as, "This feels good!"

We should be grateful that men think so much, because over the years they have thought up countless inventions that have made life better. The shot clock in basketball is one example. Another one is underwear-eating bacteria. I found out about this thanks to many alert readers who sent me an article from New Scientist magazine stating that Russian scientists are trying to solve the problem of waste disposal aboard spacecraft by "designing a cocktail of bacteria to digest astronauts' cotton and paper underpants." Is that great or what? I am picturing a utopian future wherein, when a man's briefs get dirty, they will simply dissolve, thereby freeing him from the chore of dealing with his soiled underwear via the labor-intensive, time-consuming method he now uses, namely, dropping them on the floor.

I'm not saying that guys have solved all the world's problems. I'm just saying that there ARE solutions out there, and if, instead of harping endlessly about spatulas, we allow guys to use their mental talents to look for these solutions, in time, they will find them. Unless they are in the refrigerator.”

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 12:40 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The time for politicizing Hurricane Katrina is now....

Karen drew our attention to parts II and III of James Wolcott's "New Orleans Died For Bush's Sins". However, given some rebukes we've received here for "politicizing" the situation, part I of Wolcott's three posts on this subject is well worth considering. Commenting on a post by Armando over at dKos (where Armando calls on us "to holster the fickle fingers of blame"), Wolcott notes:

Armando again: "Yes Bush and his administration have much to answer for. But what of the government of the State of Louisiana? The government of the City of New Orleans? I for one believe all have to answer for this. But not now. Maybe next week. But not today."

I don't mean to pick on Armando, but has he learned nothing under Bush? There is no "next week" when it comes to getting answers and fixing accountability for failure under this president.
Next week never comes.

Look at 9/11. There were tough questions about the breakdown of communications at Ground Zero, the lateness in scrambling fighter jets once the hijacked planes were heading toward NY and DC, Bush's strange behavior on that day, etc., and in the aftermath those questions were considered inappropriate, "divisive." We needed to grieve first, heal; and then the tough questions could be raised.

But they weren't. As months passed, the focus was on overthrowing the Taliban and avenging 9/11, and tough questions were taken off the table as the drumbeat was about the Nation Moving Forward. The media fell into zombie lockstep behind the invigorated Bush agenda. It took the 9/11 widows and esp the "Jersey Girls" to push and shame the Congress, the media, and the administration into launching a proper investigation, otherwise it would have all slid into the memory hole apart from the iconic images of the smoking towers before their collapse.

No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell you just from being out of NY a few days that a lot of people in this country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they're also worried and pissed off. They're making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don't say it now when people's nerves are raw and they're paying full attention, it'll be too late once the waters receded and the media-emoting "healing process" begins.
They're making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. In an earlier post I hit on this, saying:
... given limited resources (i.e., money), you have to manage them wisely. Bush decided to fritter away large amounts of money in a war in Iraq, which simply resulted in promoting terrorism across the globe, and preparing the way for a theocratic, Islamic republic which will be closely tied to our "friends" in Iran.
In response to which a frequent commenter here opined:
By the way, I wouldn't call fighting the war on terrorism "frittering away money."
I wouldn't either. However, if you believe that the war in Iraq is really "fighting the war on terrorism", given the revelations of Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and the Downing Street Memo (that Bush was planning the invasion of Iraq much, much earlier than 9/11/2001, and that the 9/11 attack was merely the cynical "Pearl Harbor" moment that the bAdministration used to justify Bush's pathetic "my dick is bigger than Daddy's" attempt to portray himself as a "war president"), all I can say is, "get off the drugs and get real, man...."

Len on 09.04.05 @ 12:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More about those Photo-Oops Moments…

I wrote this about the Photo-Op of the Fearless Leader Disaster Tour:

I even made a similar observation in an e-mail (but not posted) to that of Jack Cafferety on CNN. Because, if you watched it live, there was a strange short “detour” of sorts to drop in on Biloxi and a four minute visit with a couple residents. No Tour, No extensive interviews…just a strange “out-of-nowhere” character to this Photo Op, and -- Whoosh -- the Helicopter was off with the Pres. Then was the CNN commenting that the Convoys of Trucks with supplies still had a couple minutes to go before arriving at the Superdome. And the juxtaposition seemed “obvious” (?!?) that GW didn’t want to arrive ahead of the trucks of supplies. Would have spoiled the Photo-Opishness of the moment. Staged to the minute. Very strange.

And Thomas over at Newsrack has posted this here and citing this piece here on this subject of the fake relief and Photo-Oops moments.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 11:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

"Would Bush eating a Turkey...

...Count as Cannibalism?"

Daliwood has a few GEMs up his sleeve… and this one that would just about sum up my opinion of this Fearless Leader and his bAdmin and policy debacles and goals.

This is not your Grandfather's Conservative GOP party or agenda.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 10:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

That's Some World They've Been Planning on...

James Wolcott is in fine form through several pieces: New Orleans Died for Bush Sins II and III.

And be sure to check his link to this primo GEM of hallucinatory *imaginating*.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 10:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I share this history for a reason - and to answer questions that have arisen these last few days. Almost as soon as the cameras began panning over the rooftops, and the helicopters began chopping free those trapped in their attics, a chorus of voices rose. "Why didn't they leave?" people asked both on and off camera. "Why did they stay there when they knew a storm was coming?" One reporter even asked me, "Why do people live in such a place?"

Then as conditions became unbearable, the looters took to the streets. Windows were smashed, jewelry snatched, stores broken open, water and food and televisions carried out by fierce and uninhibited crowds.

Now the voices grew even louder. How could these thieves loot and pillage in a time of such crisis? How could people shoot one another? Because the faces of those drowning and the faces of those looting were largely black faces, race came into the picture. What kind of people are these, the people of New Orleans, who stay in a city about to be flooded, and then turn on one another?

Well, here's an answer. Thousands didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the vehicles. They didn't have any place to go. They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do - they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.

What's more, thousands more who
could have left stayed behind to help others. They went out in the helicopters and pulled the survivors off rooftops; they went through the flooded streets in their boats trying to gather those they could find. Meanwhile, city officials tried desperately to alleviate the worsening conditions in the Superdome, while makeshift shelters and hotels and hospitals struggled.

And where was everyone else during all this? Oh, help is coming, New Orleans was told. We are a rich country. Congress is acting. Someone will come to stop the looting and care for the refugees.

And it's true: eventually, help did come. But how many times did Gov. Kathleen Blanco have to say that the situation was desperate? How many times did Mayor Ray Nagin have to call for aid? Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.

I know that New Orleans will win its fight in the end. I was born in the city and lived there for many years. It shaped who and what I am. Never have I experienced a place where people knew more about love, about family, about loyalty and about getting along than the people of New Orleans. It is perhaps their very gentleness that gives them their endurance.

They will rebuild as they have after storms of the past; and they will stay in New Orleans because it is where they have always lived, where their mothers and their fathers lived, where their churches were built by their ancestors, where their family graves carry names that go back 200 years. They will stay in New Orleans where they can enjoy a sweetness of family life that other communities lost long ago.

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.
--Anne Rice

Len on 09.04.05 @ 09:02 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ripple Effects from the Gulf Disaster...

And to Bryan’s point about the Gulf Port: "I think Tierney needs to review what passes through New Orleans as it runs out while the port is shut and decide if he can live without it after the next hurricane," -- is this from Newsweek: Hitting the Economy by Robert Samuelson:

”We're getting a painful lesson in economic geography. What Wall Street is to money, or Hollywood is to entertainment, the Gulf Coast is to energy. It's a vast assemblage of refineries, production platforms, storage tanks and pipelines—and the petroleum engineers, energy consultants and roustabouts who make them run. Consider the concentration of energy activity. Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for nearly 30 percent of the U.S. total. Natural-gas production is roughly 20 percent. About 60 percent of the nation's oil imports arrive at Gulf ports. Nearly half of all U.S. oil refineries are there. Katrina hit this immense system hard. The shock wave to the U.S. and world economies—which could vary from a temporary run-up in prices to a full-blown global recession—depends on how quickly America's energy-industrial complex repairs itself.

No one knows the answer to that, because damage assessments of closed refineries and crippled production platforms and pipelines are still spotty...

... President Bush decided to release crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation's 700 million-barrel stockpile; but the immediate problem was the refinery outages and the resulting gasoline shortages.

At a minimum, this will hit consumers' pocketbooks—and perhaps their confidence. Before Katrina, Goldstein estimated that consumers' annual fuel bills this year would average about $250 more for gasoline and $400 more for home heating oil and natural gas than in 2004. Now he reckons those amounts will go up 30 percent to 75 percent. Costlier energy could adversely affect consumer spending, corporate profits and inflation—or all three. "We could be reaching a tipping point on consumer psychology, especially when people get their home heating bills," says Mark Zandi of Economy.com. "Those will be big."

Still, few economists are predicting a recession…

Even the direct effects of Katrina aren't entirely clear. Airlines will inevitably suffer from higher jet-fuel prices, and tourism to the Gulf Coast will plummet. But the impact on agriculture, aside from higher fuel prices, may be slight. In 2004, Gulf ports handled 22 percent of U.S. wheat exports, 71 percent of corn exports and 65 percent of soybean exports, according to the Agriculture Department. By themselves, the figures imply a nasty bottleneck for U.S. exports and global food supplies. The good news is that the big grain movements don't occur until late fall, after the harvests, and, by that time, Gulf ports may be working again. Finally, the rebuilding of devastated areas could actually boost the economy in late 2005 and 2006.

What clouds all forecasts is the precarious state of the world oil market. Even before Katrina, it was operating on a razor's edge. In the 1990s, global oil demand increased sluggishly, with annual increases averaging about 1.4 million barrels a day (mbd), according to economist Mary Novak of Global Insight. Then in 2003 and 2004, global demand—led by China—exploded, adding about 5mbd over two years. This exhausted most spare worldwide crude production capacity, she says. The resulting pressures pushed world prices from about $25 a barrel in 2002 to near $40 in 2004 and now to almost $70. Global refining capacity likewise failed to keep pace; it's increased only 700,000 barrels a day over the same period, says Goldstein.
These developments have profoundly altered global energy markets. "You have always had problems of pipelines going out, refinery explosions or weather-related disruptions," says Goldstein. But the system had ample spare capacity to produce more crude oil, refine more finished fuels or store them both. A supply shortfall in one part of the system could be made up in another. The resulting price changes were typically small, a couple of cents a gallon or less.
It is this remorseless logic—the old law of supply and demand—that poses the greatest peril for the American and world economies. The most obvious danger is that there will be other disruptions that compound today's scarcities: another damaging hurricane; a terrorist act in the Middle East; a politically inspired production cut (from, say, Iran); political unrest in a major supplier (say, Nigeria); an unplanned pipeline or refinery outage.

One way or another, the effects will ripple around the world. High prices and tight supplies are already expected to attract fuel to the United States from the rest of the world. If oil prices reach $100 a barrel, the United States would come close to a recession, according to a projection by Global Insight. The same depressing influences would also be felt in Europe, Japan and China, which are all major oil importers. Katrina might then perversely become the instrument by which oil prices collapse, because—being too high—they overwhelmed the world economy.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 08:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And Who Says ANYONE is OFF the HOOK...

... for this Tragedy??

How Did This Happen?:

The hurricane was the least of the surprises. Why a natural disaster became a man-made debacle—and what this catastrophe says about our rescue capabilities four years after 9/11 by Amanda Ripley (Time):

"Hindsight is 20/20. but once in a rare while, foresight is too. For years, researchers have described exactly what would happen if a megahurricane hit New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf region. They predicted that the city levees would not hold. Their elaborate computer models showed that tens of thousands would be left behind.

They described rooftop rescues, 80% of New Orleans underwater and "toxic gumbo" purling through the streets. If experts had prophesied a terrorist attack with that kind of accuracy, they would be under suspicion for treason.

How, then, did we get here? How did the richest country on earth end up watching children cry for food in putrid encampments on the evening news? How did reporters reach crowds of the desperate in places where police, troops and emergency responders had not yet been—three days after the storm?

Deconstructing Katrina will take years. But it is already clear that the blame can be well distributed, from the White House to emergency-management officials at federal, state and local levels, all the way down to the cops who abandoned their posts in New Orleans. "The system broke," says Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards Research Lab at the University of South Carolina. "A system that cannot airlift water and food to a community that's desperate for it is a system that is broken."

Close up, the reasons are infuriating. New Orleans officials were supremely unprepared; that was never a secret among people in the disaster business. Meanwhile, throughout the state and Federal governments, much money and willpower had shifted to fighting terrorism, a major risk and vital effort but much less of a sure thing than natural disasters. Because of tax cuts and budget pressures at all levels, many emergency-response capabilities—once the envy of the world—have slipped. If Hurricane Katrina turns out to be the biggest disaster in U.S. history to date, it will also be the least surprising.

The larger lesson may be more humbling: after all the post-9/11 vows, are we still not well enough armed for the next big one? Humans are not very good at understanding risk, and in this country, they perform worst when it costs a lot to prevent or prepare for a disaster—especially when the people who would otherwise suffer the most are poor.

Katrina was a big, vicious storm, it must be said. But Katrina was not the worst-case scenario. Katrina was a test. ..."

OR this from the Washington Post:
Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting
White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials

"...Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.

A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

Bush, who has been criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government. The magnitude of the crisis "has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities," he said. "The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable."

In a Washington briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said one reason federal assets were not used more quickly was "because our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor."

Chertoff planned to fly overnight to the New Orleans area to take charge of deploying the expanded federal and military assets for several days, he said. He said he has "full confidence" in FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, the DHS undersecretary and federal officer in charge of the Katrina response.

Brown, a frequent target of New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin's wrath, said Saturday that "the mayor can order an evacuation and try to evacuate the city, but if the mayor does not have the resources to get the poor, elderly, the disabled, those who cannot, out, or if he does not even have police capacity to enforce the mandatory evacuation, to make people leave, then you end up with the kind of situation we have right now in New Orleans."

New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas acknowledged that the city was surprised by the number of refugees left behind, but he said FEMA should have been prepared to assist.

"Everybody shares the blame here," said Thomas. "But when you talk about the mightiest government in the world, that's a ludicrous and lame excuse. You're FEMA, and you're the big dog. And you weren't prepared either."

In Baton Rouge, Blanco acknowledged Saturday: "We did not have enough resources here to do it all. . . . The magnitude is overwhelming."

State officials had planned to turn to neighboring states for help with troops, transportation and equipment in a major hurricane. But in Katrina's case, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were also overwhelmed, said Denise Bottcher, a Blanco spokesman..."

So, here it is - Blame for Everybody, Federal, State and Local.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 08:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Will Justice Stevens...

...Stay or Step-Down??

The news that Chief Justice Rehnquist has died, brings up a point I had heard: rumors that Justice Steven always planned to step-down IF Rehnquist left the court.

It will get interesting as to the next potential nominee and N.O.W. is already seeing a crisis:

"With two lifetime appointments, George W. Bush could not only upset the delicate balance on this Supreme Court, but also extend his right-wing ideology and disregard for individual rights to the third branch of government - the judiciary - thus guaranteeing second-class status for girls and women in the U.S. for decades.

Senators must demand full disclosure of all of the writings and opinions of every nominee, and must commit to filibuster any nominee who does not clearly support our rights."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Day the Lights went ON....

"As darkness fell on this day in 1882, people in lower Manhattan stood in awe when four streets, including Wall Street, started to glow with the light from 400 bulbs.

This first public showing of electric lights was staged by Thomas Edison. Just three years before, he had demonstrated the first incandescent light bulb at his New Jersey laboratory. Even by 1940, about a quarter of U.S. homes still were not electrified.

Today, just about every house in the country has electric service; and with our increasing love of gadgets, annual home usage of electricity has increased by nearly 60 percent in 25 years. At the same time, our electric bills have increased close to 150 percent."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Disaster Planning...

A DAY and F**king FOUR YEARS LATE since Septemeber 11, 2001 showed this bAdmin about our National vulnerabilities. The "Draft" plans apparently were just being sent out...but only DRAFTS...

What Went Wrong:Storm Exposed Disarray at the Top
by Susan B. Glasser and Josh White
(Washington Post):

"The killer hurricane and flood that devastated the Gulf Coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.

Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.

Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.

If Hurricane Katrina represented a real-life rehearsal of sorts, the response suggested to many that the nation is not ready to handle a terrorist attack of similar dimensions. "This is what the department was supposed to be all about," said Clark Kent Ervin, DHS's former inspector general. "Instead, it obviously raises very serious, troubling questions about whether the government would be prepared if this were a terrorist attack. It's a devastating indictment of this department's performance four years after 9/11."

"We've had our first test, and we've failed miserably," said former representative Timothy J. Roemer (D-Ind.), a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. "We have spent billions of dollars in revenues to try to make our country safe, and we have not made nearly enough progress." With Katrina, he noted that "we had some time to prepare. When it's a nuclear, chemical or biological attack," there will be no warning.
The roots of last week's failures will be examined for weeks and months to come, but early assessments point to a troubled Department of Homeland Security that is still in the midst of a bureaucratic transition, a "work in progress," as Mencer put it. Some current and former officials argued that as it worked to focus on counterterrorism, the department has diminished the government's ability to respond in a nuts-and-bolts way to disasters in general, and failed to focus enough on threats posed by hurricanes and other natural disasters in particular. From an independent Cabinet-level agency, FEMA has become an underfunded, isolated piece of the vast DHS, yet it is still charged with leading the government's response to disaster.

"It's such an irony I hate to say it, but we have less capability today than we did on September 11," said a veteran FEMA official involved in the hurricane response. "We are so much less than what we were in 2000," added another senior FEMA official. "We've lost a lot of what we were able to do then."
The procedures for what to do when the inevitable disaster hit were also subjected to a bureaucratic overhaul, still unfinished, by the department. Indeed, just last Tuesday, as New Orleans was drowning and DHS officials were still hours away from invoking the department's highest crisis status for the catastrophe, some department contractors found an important e-mail in their inboxes.

Attached were two documents -- one more than 400 pages long -- that spelled out in numbing, acronym-filled detail the planned "national preparedness goal." The checklist, called a Universal Task List, appeared to cover every eventuality in a disaster, from the need to handle evacuations to speedy urban search and rescue to circulating "prompt, accurate and useful" emergency information. Even animal health and "fatality management" were covered.

But the documents were not a menu for action in the devastated Gulf Coast. They were drafts, not slated for approval and release until October, more than four years after 9/11.

"Basically, this is the rules of engagement for national emergency events, whether natural or manmade. It covers every element of what you would have expected to already have been in place," said the contractor who provided the e-mail to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because he feared jeopardizing his firm's work. "This is the federal government template to engage, and this is being discussed in draft form."

[Emphasis mine]

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 07:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

OH...Is the Pres Finally...

...GETTING IT!!!! Waking up from his brain-dead responses to this National Tragedy?

That there has been a HUGE disaster in New Orleans that *requires* some Presidential *attention.*

Sheesh, But FIRST-- let's not endanger his 2nd term agenda!!!

"His speech came as analysts and some Republicans warned that the White House's response to the crisis in New Orleans, which has been widely seen as slow and ineffectual, could further undermine Mr. Bush's authority at a time when he was already under fire, endangering his Congressional agenda.
The last-minute overhaul of the president's plans reflected what analysts and some Republicans said was a long-term threat to Mr. Bush's presidency created by the perception that the White House had failed to respond to the crisis. Several said the political fallout over the hurricane could complicate a second-term agenda that includes major changes to Social Security, the tax code and the immigration system.

"This is very much going to divert the agenda," said Tom Rath, a New Hampshire Republican with ties to the White House. "Some of this is momentary. I think the Bush capital will be rapidly replenished if they begin to respond here."

Donald P. Green, a professor of political science at Yale University, said: "The possibility for very serious damage to the administration exists. The unmistakable conclusion one would draw from this was this was a massive administration failure."

And Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, urged Mr. Bush to quickly propose a rebuilding plan for New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, arguing that an ambitious gesture could restore his power in Congress.

"If it's done right, it adds energy to the rest of his agenda," Mr. Gingrich said. "If it's done wrong, it swamps the rest of his agenda.""

SO, Someone PHU-LEEEA-ASE tell me (since I stand *accused* of *politicizing* things) - WHO is Playing POLITICS here?!?!?

Karen on 09.04.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In the midst of the vigorous debate going on in comments....

Belle Waring, over at John & Belle Have A Blog makes the most important point quite succinctly:

Say what you like about casting blame for the unfolding tragedy in NO, the bare facts of the matter are these: America suffered a serious attack on Sept. 11, 2001. That was four years ago. I think we had all assumed that in the meantime a lot of wargaming and disaster-mitigation planning and homeland security gearup had been going on. If this is what the Federal and State governments are going to come up with when the suitcase nuke goes off in D.C., then we are well and truly fucked.

Len on 09.03.05 @ 08:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

You know you're an obsessive fan when....

you have an unopened six-pack of 13 year old Coke™, because it is a commemorative edition in honor of your favorite team:

Back in 1992, the St. Louis Coca-Cola™ bottler released a set of special edition commemorative bottles in honor of the 100th anniversary of the St. Louis National Baseball Club, Inc., which is, of course, the team we know and love as the St. Louis Cardinals.

A closer view of the centennial logo:

I happen to be posting these because I found the centennial six-pack while rooting through some of my possessions in storage looking for something else, and because I've installed a 4-port USB hub on my home computer, and I'm making sure it works with my digital camera (obviously, it does).

Also discovered in rooting through my possessions: my Canon AV-1 35mm SLR camera, which I bought back in 1981 at the Navy Exchange in Newport, RI. It's probably going to be quite a while before I get around to posting pictures from that one, though.

Len on 09.03.05 @ 08:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

You Go Get-'em Girl...

Was sooooo bizee writing up those combined posts, I neglected to read Maureen Dowd (NY Times) until now.

United States of Shame:

" And when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens.
...W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives. "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," he told Diane Sawyer.
Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could have known?" excuses.

Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.

Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.

Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl.
When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.

When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

Who are we if we can't take care of our own?"

Karen on 09.03.05 @ 04:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

You knew it was only a matter of time....

Before someone downloaded a couple photos off the 'net, fired up her/his copy of Photoshop, and came up with this:

Len on 09.03.05 @ 02:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought(s) for the Day:

Why did Bush vacation – cut wood, clear brush, bike, and read -- for days while the world watched Katrina develop, then slam as a category 4 hurricane into the Gulf Coast? Just as he did on September 11, 2001, he froze. They don’t have cable or telephones in Crawford? The unfolding catastrophe has Bush leadership skills, or lack thereof, written all over it. He treats his own citizens with the same contempt and callousness as he does the Iraqi civilians – as “collateral damage.” If a category 4 hurricane is not a “bomb” dropping on American soil, what is? Bush remained on vacation one whole day after Katrina hit, WAITING FOR WHAT? The federal government was ‘missing in action’ and has failed its citizens abysmally. And Congress... where the hell are they? They rushed back to Washington over night for one woman’s feeding tube, but can’t seem to find the way back for a destructive hurricane that most likely killed thousands. Are these Americans too poor or not expounding the right religion to garner attention the Trade Tower victims received? They all sat and watched this train wreck, now they are screwing up the rescue and salvage, probably busy searching for the ‘scapegoat’ du jour. Did the Bush administration and Congress want to create a situation where they could declare martial law? Looks like it. New Orleans has become a war zone. Martial law declared. Since when is a policy of "you loot, we shoot" appropriate for people just trying to survive until help arrives? THEY ARE DYING.
--Amanda Lane, "The Story of the Hurricane Cowboy Who Fiddled While New Orleans Drowned"

How do I know Bush is in trouble? Easy. The number of letters of invective and abuse against Bush Watch has increased considerably.
--Jerry Politex

Len on 09.03.05 @ 02:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Needing Equipment...

... for this Rescue and Supply Operation...

Thomas over at Newsrack has this piece: Hey CNN, get your own freaking helicopters:

"...The crews for three U.S. Customs Blackhawk helicopters stationed at Crestview Airport in Florida are 'livid' because they have not been directed to provide full-time support for the ongoing hurricane-relief effort in the nation's Gulf Coast region, according to Mark Conrad, a former regional Internal Affairs supervisor for U.S. Customs.

Conrad says instead of helping people left desperate in the wake of Katrina's wrath, the Blackhawk's actually were slated to transport a CNN news crew to take video shots of those people.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection leadership in Miami is behind the press-play strategy, Conrad says.

'They have three Blackhawk helicopters and crew just sitting there doing nothing, just so they can look good for CNN. The crew is livid,' Conrad says. 'They made one trip earlier and flew over Biloxi, (Mississippi) where there are dead bodies everywhere. Those are highly trained crews and Blackhawk helicopters can carry a lot of food and water. They could be doing something.'

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official familiar with the Blackhawk operation in Florida confirms Conrad's report. The official, who asked not to be named, says the Blackhawks were flown in from as far away as San Diego to supposedly assist with hurricane-relief efforts. They were stationed in Florida primarily to assure adequate refueling services."

Is this CNN's analogy to being "embedded" reporters in a war?!? They get to take over Government Helicopter usage for TeeVee Coverage of this disaster??

Karen on 09.03.05 @ 11:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Proposals are Popping Up Right and Left...

...For what to do with rebuilding New Orleans.

Consider this one from John Tierney (NY Times):

"…Here's the bargain I'd offer New Orleans: the feds will spend the billions for your new levees, but then you're on your own. You and others along the coast have to buy flood insurance the same way we all buy fire insurance - from private companies that have more at stake than do Washington bureaucrats.

Private flood insurance has come to seem quaint in America, but in Britain it's the norm. If Americans paid premiums for living in risky areas, they'd think twice about building oceanfront villas. Voters and insurance companies would put pressure on local politicians to take care of the levees, prepare for the worst - and stop waiting for that bumbling white knight from Washington."

And I'm certain there will be more wonderful proposals. (Even our commentators have great suggestions.)

But, before we get to the rebuilding part...this one to consider:

Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions: Massive Floods, Pollution Make for 'Worst Case' by Guy Gugliotta and Peter Whoriskey (Washington Post Staff Writers).

Click on the "more" button to read this in full.

Karen on 09.03.05 @ 10:55 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Follow the Threads....

This is a "response" post that would be overlong in Haloscan to some commenting on Len’s previous post of Sept 1: Prophetic:

This one: "I heard this morning on NPR someone from the Army Corps of Engineers saying that even if they had gotten the extra $71 million appropriation it would not have been used on the levees that broke, as the Corps had already determined that those levees were sufficient.

Are you going to run a correction or apology now or does it slip down the memory hole?"

and This one: "…I've been amazed at how many people want to politicize this and blame on Bush. I didn't vote for him (I'm a Libertarian) but to blame all this on him is ridiculous.

First of all, people are responsible for themselves. Next, the mayor has the first line political responsibiliy for planning and management. The governor is the next layer. Both of them are closer to the situation and deserve any political fallout…"

Click on the “more” to follow the threads of answers I have to these two comments.

Karen on 09.03.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

If you're in the Mood for...

Depressingly Funnie...

ML over at Observatorium has this one Bicycles are Cool about this weekend's gas prices for that long Labor Day holiday trip.

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 06:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Couldn't resist this one...

By Dan Piraro (But Drat those King Features syndication folks have changed their rules on how material will be available on their web page for old comix and features. So, This had to be a scan.) :-)

Alien (136k image)

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 05:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem of the Day:

I never thought I'd see myself quoting Newt Gingrich approvingly:

Even Republicans were criticizing Bush and his administration for the sluggish relief effort. "I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Len on 09.02.05 @ 12:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not all were "Choosing to Stay"...

... and wait out Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Bryan over at WHY NOW, has this excellent post on this subject: "Riders on the Storm":

"There is a disinformation campaign in the media that everyone trapped by hurricane Katrina wanted to remain. Those trapped are being characterized as all being poor and minority.

Sorry, but that is not the reality.

The people who evacuated were those who had access to private vehicles, had enough cash to cover gas, whose vehicles could operate at 25mph or less for hours on end.

There are two daily trains from New Orleans, one to New York, the other to Chicago, and the Orlando to LA train that runs three times a week. They shut down early because the tracks have to cross the same bodies of water as the Interstates.

There aren't that many buses still running, and bus service was cut off.

The airlines did not put on extra flights to get people out of New Orleans.

The rental car fleet exited the city.

There were hundreds of people who did not want to remain in New Orleans stuck in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. These were people who didn't live in the city, had platinum cards in their wallets, and a few whose cards really were platinum. There was no transportation...."

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 11:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

They Saw It Coming...

They Saw It Coming: by Mark Fischetti (Contributing editor to Scientific American):

“The deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina are heart-rending. The suffering of survivors is wrenching. Property destruction is shocking. But perhaps the most agonizing part is that much of what happened in New Orleans this week might have been avoided.

Watching the TV images of the storm approaching the Mississippi Delta on Sunday, I was sick to my stomach. Not only because I knew the hell it could unleash (I wrote an article for Scientific American in 2001 that described the very situation that was unfolding) but because I knew that a large-scale engineering plan called Coast 2050 - developed in 1998 by scientists, Army engineers, metropolitan planners and Louisiana officials - might have helped save the city, but had gone unrealized.

The debate over New Orleans's vulnerability to hurricanes has raged for a century. By the late 1990's, scientists at Louisiana State University and the University of New Orleans had perfected computer models showing exactly how a sea surge would overwhelm the levee system, and had recommended a set of solutions. The Army Corps of Engineers, which built the levees, had proposed different projects.
Thus, in true American fashion, we ignored an inevitable problem until disaster focused our attention. Fortunately, as we rebuild New Orleans, we can protect it - by engineering solutions that work with nature, not against it.

The conceit that we can control the natural world is what made New Orleans vulnerable. For more than a century the Army Corps, with Congress's blessing, leveed the Mississippi River to prevent its annual floods, so that farms and industries could expand along its banks. Those same floods, however, had dumped huge amounts of sediment and freshwater across the Mississippi Delta, rebuilding each year what gulf tides and storms had worn away and holding back infusions of saltwater that kill marsh vegetation. These vast delta wetlands created a lush, hardy buffer that could absorb sea surges and weaken high winds.

The flooding at the river's mouth also sent great volumes of sediment west and east into the Gulf of Mexico, to a string of barrier islands that cut down surges and waves, compensating for regular ocean erosion. Stopping the Mississippi's floods starved the wetlands and the islands; both are rapidly disintegrating, leaving the city naked against the sea.

What can we do to restore these natural protections? Although the parties that devised Coast 2050, and other independent scientists and engineers who have floated rival plans, may disagree on details, they do concur on several major initiatives that would shield New Orleans, reconstitute the delta and, as a side benefit, improve ports and shipping lanes for the oil and natural gas industries in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's hard to say how much of this work could have been completed by today had Coast 2050 become a reality. Certainly, the delta wetlands and barrier islands would not have rebounded substantially yet. But undoubtedly progress would have been made that would have spared someone's life, someone's home, some jazz club or gumbo joint, some city district, some part of the region's unique culture that the entire country revels in. And we would have been well on our way to a long-term solution. For there is one thing we know for sure: hurricanes will howl through the Mississippi Delta again.”

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 09:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Lack of Imagination...

Sheesh…I really *hate* to be quoting from the WSJ [bastion of ultra-conservative suck up to the Administration that it usually represents] but this one was so on point to my point of how this New Orleans “disaster response” and lack of planning show the flaws at the National Level of preparedness for anything that may come next:

“Imagination is not a gift usually associated with bureaucracies.
--The 9/11 Commission Report.

….We fail to use well what we know because we rely too much on large public bureaucracies. This was the primary lesson of the 9/11 Commission Report. Large public bureaucracies, whether the FBI and the CIA or FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, don't talk to each other much. They are poorly incentivized, if at all. Budgets, the oxygen of the acronymic planets, make bureaucracy's managers first responders to constant political whim. Real-world problems, as the 9/11 report noted, inevitably seem distant and minor: "Once the danger has fully materialized, evident to all, mobilizing action is easier--but it then may be too late."

Homeland Security, a new big bureaucracy, has struggled since 2001 to assemble a feasible plan to respond to another major terror event inside the U.S. The possibility, or likelihood, of a bird-borne flu pandemic is beginning to reach public awareness, but the government is at pains to create a sufficient supply of vaccine or a distribution system for anti-viral medicines. Any bets on which will come first--the flu or the distribution system?

Big public bureaucracies are going to get us killed. They already have. One may argue that this is an inevitable result of living in an advanced and complex democracy. Yes, up to a point. An open political system indeed breeds inefficiencies (though possibly the Jeb Bush administration that dealt with Hurricane Andrew is more competent than Gov. Blanco's team in Louisiana). And perhaps low-lying, self-indulgent New Orleans understood its losing bargain with a devil's fate.

But we ought to at least recognize that our increasingly tough First World problems--terrorism, viruses, the rising incidence of powerful natural disasters--are being addressed by a public sector that too often is coming to resemble a Third World that can't execute….”

--- Daniel Henniger

Bureaucratic Failure : To understand Katrina's problems, read the 9/11 report.

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 09:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hero to Zero to Nero

Has the ole Fearless Leader gone from American Hero to Zero to Nero???

[Courtesy of Daliwood and Michael Froomkin.]

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 08:35 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Friday's Engrish...

Here is a cute GEM from Engrish this week

Naughty puppies.

LOL. :-)

Karen on 09.02.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

One man's meat is another man's poison....

or, I guess, it all depends on your point of view:

The chaos deepened despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President Bush called the biggest in U.S. history.

New Orleans' top emergency management official called that effort a "national disgrace" and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.

Len on 09.02.05 @ 06:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The Bush administration has been staggeringly ineffectual in its response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in New Orleans. Its failures are painful evidence of how far we have to go in developing the capability to respond rapidly to a mass-casualty disaster.

The president's statement this afternoon set the tone. Rather than direct the U.S. military to immediately assist the thousands of people without food or water in the city center, Bush assured the nation that expected gasoline shortages would be temporary and that his father and former President Clinton were ready to pass the tin can to ensure private-sector support for rebuilding New Orleans. As people began dying around the Convention Center, and Mayor Ray Nagin resorted to issuing a pathetic SOS over CNN, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff spoke empathetically of the suffering of the people in New Orleans. But somehow he seemed proud that 72 hours after the hurricane hit, only 2,800 National Guardsmen had come to the city. The number is about to reach 12,000 by tomorrow
[original of this article posted on 9/1/2005 --LRC]. That is awfully late for the people stranded there. Yet Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who is commanding the military component of Washington's response, pleaded for patience from the people of New Orleans, promising that the U.S. Army was "building the capability" to help them.

Building the capability? How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow.

Chertoff's Department of Homeland Security demonstrated today that it could organize an impressive press conference in Washington, lining up every participating civilian or military service from the Coast Guard to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promise its cooperation. But on the ground in Louisiana, where it counts, DHS is turning out to be the sum of its inefficient parts. The department looks like what its biggest critics predicted: a new level of bureaucracy grafted onto a collection of largely ineffectual under-agencies.
--Tim Naftali

Len on 09.02.05 @ 05:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]


An old friend from St. Louis forwarded to me an article published by Scientific American in 2001: Drowning New Orleans.

Some of the article is relevant to some comments we've received:

Why should taxpayers in, say, Iowa, pay for people in New Orleans who choose to live below sea level? The outrage isn't that federal dollars were cut on the levee system, but that even a dime was spent on it in the first place. That's a state responsibility if there ever was one!

The New Orleans government is notoriously corrupt and incompetent. Their lack of planning or failure to follow their plan is on them. They, not the federal government, are the first responders.
It's ironic that the commenter (who, IIRC, lives in Iowa himself) should ask why the taxpayers in Iowa should have to pay for the damages to property and for the losses sustained by people in New Orleans. Iowa is, of course, one of the many states which lies on the banks of the Mississipi River, and of course has benefited through most of its history (as has Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana) from commercial traffic on the Mississippi. As a very informative article in Slate points out, New Orleans wasn't built because of its founders' perverse desire to live in a below sea level soup bowl. The motivation for locating New Orleans where it is is one that should be near and dear to the heart of any free-market conservative: it was a hell of a place to make a buttload of money:
New Orleans' dysfunctional relationship with its environment may make it the nation's most improbable metropolis. It is flood prone. It is cursed with a fertile disease environment. It is located along a well-worn pathway that tropical storms travel from the Atlantic to the nation's interior. From this perspective, New Orleans has earned all the scorn being heaped upon it—the city is a misguided urban project, a fool's errand, a disaster waiting to happen.

But such insults miss why most American cities are built in the first place: to do business. In 1718, when the French first settled New Orleans, the city's earliest European inhabitants saw riches inscribed by the hand of God into the landscape of the vast Mississippi valley. The Mississippi river system takes the shape of a huge funnel, covering nearly two-thirds of the United States from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. The funnel's spout lies at the river's outlet at the Gulf of Mexico, less than 100 miles downstream from New Orleans. In an era before railways, good highways, and long before air travel, much of the interior of the nation's commerce flowed along the Mississippi, fronting New Orleans. The river system's inexorable downstream current swept cotton, grain, sugar, and an array of other commodities to New Orleans' door. Because of the region's geography and topography, many 19th-century observers believed that God—working through nature, His favorite medium—would see to it that anyone shrewd enough to build and live in New Orleans would be made rich.

So, people built. Some lived. A lucky few even got rich. Many others, usually poor residents, died. They were carried away in floods. They were battered by catastrophic storms. They were snuffed out by yellow fever epidemics, like the great scourge of 1853 that killed nearly 10,000 people in the city. Over time, New Orleans developed a divided relationship with the environment: Nature, as embodied by the Mississippi, promised a bright future. But it also brought water, wind, and pathogens, elements of a fickle environment that in the past as now turned cruelly chaotic.

Geographers refer to this as the difference between a city's "situation"—the advantages its location offers relative to other cities—and its "site"—the actual real estate it occupies. New Orleans has a near-perfect situation and an almost unimaginably bad site. It's because of the former that people have worked endlessly to overcome the hazards of the latter.
So why should Iowans (or Missourians, Illinoisans, etc.) help pay? Well, those folks upstream on the Mississippi (not to mention those on the navigible tributaries of the Mississippi, like the Ohio River) have certainly benefited by the existence of New Orleans and its port facilities (without which there would have been no river commerce). Getting back to the SciAm article my friend forwarded to me, the loss of New Orleans isn't just a blow to the New Orleans area, but to the rest of the U.S. economy as well. As "Drowning New Orleans" notes:
As if the risk to human lives weren't enough, the potential drowning of New Orleans has serious economic and environmental consequences as well. Louisiana's coast produces one third of the country's seafood, one fifth of its oil and one quarter of its natural gas. It harbors 40 percent of the nation's coastal wetlands and provides wintering grounds for 70 percent of its migratory waterfowl. Facilities on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge constitute the nation's largest port. And the delta fuels a unique element of America's psyche; it is the wellspring of jazz and blues, the source of everything Cajun and Creole, and the home of Mardi Gras. Thus far, however, Washington has turned down appeals for substantial aid. [emphasis supplied --LRC]
Trying to lay the blame for lack of preparedness on state and local authorities is tempting, but ultimately that gambit fails when one considers not only the historical, but the current importance of river commerce to the national economy, and the fact that Federal involvement in the maintenance of navigable waters isn't just some recent "liberal", New Deal program. The Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in the maintenance of transportation (including, of course, river navigation and transportation) since approximately 1824, when the United States Supreme Court ruled (Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 US 1 (1824)) that regulation of interstate commerce, including river navigation, was the prerogative of the federal government, per the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. And don't try to kid yourself that New Orleans, along with other associated port facilities in southern Louisiana, isn't important to commerce:
The Port of New Orleans handles about 145 million short tons (132 million tonnes) of cargo a year and is the largest faction of the Port of South Louisiana, the latter being the largest and busiest shipping port in the western hemisphere and the 4th busiest in the world.

About 5,000 ships from nearly 60 nations dock at the Port of New Orleans annually. The chief exports are grain and other foods from the Midwestern United States and petroleum products. The leading imports include chemicals, cocoa beans, coffee, and petroleum. The port handles more trade with Latin America than does any other U.S. gateway, including Miami.

New Orleans is also a busy port for barges. The barges use the nation's two main inland waterways, the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which meet at New Orleans. The port of New Orleans handles about 50,000 barges yearly.
The levee system in New Orleans isn't the sole responsibility of the local authorities; to the extent that they are necessary to the maintenance of the Ports of New Orleans and South Louisiana and to keep the Mississippi River navigable, a significant responsibility for them is borne by the U.S. government.

The bottom line, as implied in my earlier post, is that given limited resources (i.e., money), you have to manage them wisely. Bush decided to fritter away large amounts of money in a war in Iraq, which simply resulted in promoting terrorism across the globe, and preparing the way for a theocratic, Islamic republic which will be closely tied to our "friends" in Iran. Meanwhile, in the face of that waste of money, he persists in promoting tax cuts the nation can't afford, and which have done little (if anything) to stimulate the economy. As a result of those foolish fiscal policies, there wasn't money to provide either the Corps of Engineers with sufficient funds to provide for preventive measures, or to allow FatherHomeland Security and FEMA sufficient resources to deal with the disaster as it unfolded.

Bush liked to style himself as "the CEO President". If any CEO in any decently run business demonstrated the kind of incompetence Bush has demonstrated, s/he'd find her/his ass out on the street looking for another job in short order.

Pity we can't have such an "accountability moment" in government.

Len on 09.01.05 @ 09:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not your regular nightlife blog post....

Over at Thursday Night Fever, Mr. Roboto (who has apparently come out of retirement) brings up a point that I haven't seen raised yet:

But, here's my two cents on a topic I haven't seen raised yet: the new Bankruptcy laws are going to screw over a lot of newly-needy people. On midnight, October 16, 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act goes into effect, and, after that, it's going to be substantially more difficult for folks to file Chapter 7.

Say what you will about bankruptcy in this country,
seriously, if the hurricane washed awy your car and your house (and maybe even your job), wouldn't you file bankruptcy and start all over? I bet the entire (former) populace of New Orleans, Biloxi, and Gulfsport will file Bankruptcy (or should), but, will the facilities (courthouse, lawyers) even be available to allow them to file by October? Congress needs to postpone the implementation of these new laws immediately.

Len on 09.01.05 @ 08:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More humor from MadKane....

The Bush "404" Error Message.

Len on 09.01.05 @ 06:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Unfortunately, we won't see any accountability....

since Dumbya thinks his "accountability moment" was last November.

Josh Marshall is doing some good posts at Talking Points Memo about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This one bears some serious thought:

I've still heard conflicting reports about how many of the levees were breached as opposed to overtopped, which is very different, if we're considering these issues of maintaining the levees and such. The president told Diane Sawyer this morning that: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." So clearly he has no idea what he's talking about. Or perhaps his disaster preparedness folks did his interview prep too. Or maybe he's just trying again to fool the people he's sworn to serve. Shades of Condi. Perhaps we'll get another civil engineer version of Richard Clarke coming forward.

In any case, we can understand the magnitude of this event and hold the administration to account for its lack of preparation. One doesn't cancel out the other, as much as the president and his defenders might want them to.

And one final point.

We're hearing again and again now that there just wasn't enough money for a lot of this stuff. Terrorism was our big focus. Some kinds of preparedness aren't simply a question of funds. They turn on less elastic resources. But most of what we're hearing about is dollars and planning. So when we hear, 'well, there just wasn't enough for this and terrorism', or 'we needed the money for Iraq', the real answer is '
nice try'.

The president cut taxes every year of his first term in office. He's trying to push through a major tax cut
right now. So it's not terrorism that took away the money. It was tax cuts. And to a degree, same thing for Iraq.

Choices have consequences. And bad consequences require accountability.
And from one of Josh's readers, we get a most excellent observation:
I have a question that no one has raised so far. Wouldn’t part of any homeland security preparation be the handling of refugees? Virtually any serious terrorist attack (explosion, nuclear, biological) would entail a large number of displaced persons. Wasn’t anything done along these lines? I would have thought we would have pre-positioned refugee resources (tents, MRE's, water purification, generators, emergency medical care) near major population centers in the event of mass exodus. Am I crazy?
If you think Bush has fucked up things now... just wait til that next terrorist attack. And remember the dopey look on his face as his aids interrupted his reading of "The Pet Goat" to tell him that the United States was under attack....

Len on 09.01.05 @ 12:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

More selachophobia nightmares....

Reason #3587 why Karen's glad she's not in New Orleans now: Bull shark seen on i-10 service rd in metairie.

Random musing: the blog linked to here makes me realize that the blogosphere is becoming too commodotized for the good of its denizens. Yes, I know everyone and his brother, sister, cousin, uncle and at least one parent has a blog. But this idea for making your blog stand out from among the crowd is the most dementedly foolish, yet brilliant, idea that I've seen in the whole time I've been an upstanding citizen of Left Blogistan:

Located in New Orleans - I will be riding out Hurricane Katrina with a generator, some beer and the ability to post via cell phone after we lose hardlines. I will attempt at least hourly posts. Pictures will be available until land lines are lost.
I stand in awe. Whether of true brilliance, or of stupidity worthy of a Darwin award, I knoweth not.

Hat tip: Pete Vonder Haar

Len on 09.01.05 @ 11:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Right to Privacy?!?

Had to send a letter to Steve Chapman (Chicago Tribune) about his column today, Roberts: The Future of Privacy.

Dear Steve:

Good column about Roberts...and while I agree it's hard to know where he'll come out on many of these issues and wanting to avoid pure litmus tests...

...However, I really wonder about the narrowness of your emphasis on it all being only about the privacy as it relates to abortion rights and not, as you put it...

"... Despite what NARAL says, Roberts presents no discernible threat to the kind of privacy most of us cherish. With him on the court, you can expect to keep doing whatever you want behind closed doors. And in public, feel free to hold hands."

It *may not* be on the immediate plate of the Supremes...but Consider this article about the TOP priority agenda at the US Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales:

U.S. Attorney's Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews: Obscenity Prosecution Task Force will focus on Internet crimes and peer-to-peer distribution of pornography, by Julie Kay (Daily Business Review):
"When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Acosta's stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities.

His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections...."

So, before you blithely dismiss this "concern" of lots of average married Americans about what they may or may not do in their bedrooms, behind closed doors...look a bit ahead at where the Priorities of this bunch of bAdmin folks really IS.

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 10:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's All Subjective...

...After all --

As a matter of Car Preferences and “World Class Pug-Ugly.” Len has pointed out that (in his humble opinion) the Hummer H2:

HummerH2a (59k image)

Is a MUCH Uglier vehicle than the Mercedes Truck I decried yesterday as a most Hideous Monstrosity.

And, in all fairness, Len is probably correct that the gas mileage of the Hummer has got to be far worse than any other passenger vehicle.

But the Hummer at least began it’s design life as a useful vehicle for the military. It had a *practical purpose* for being SOOO dreadfully UGLY before it was co-opted into the mainstream vehicle car pool available for consumers to hog the highways with these beasts. (And I just bet they're Loving the cost to fill their gas tanks. Hahahaha. Bleh!!!)

Compare the Isuzu Trooper:

IsuzuTrooper (54k image)

It’s almost the same or similar body style to the Mercedes (nothing is exactly like the Hummer H2)…But not quite. It avoids the total Boxy-shape with a slight curvature towards the roof area as well as the front end.

Tho’ I personally wouldn’t want to own even one of these vehicles --it’s just the Trooper is below the PUG-UGLY category of either the Mercedes or the Hummer H2. But subjectively an *opinion* after all.


Karen on 09.01.05 @ 10:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And NOW, For the *Brighter Side* of How It's Going in Iraq...

Cough, Gaaaaaack, Sputter...And This is the *Best* we can DO???

Iraq's doomed police training by Paula Broadwell (Boston Globe):

”In September 2003, the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs constructed the Jordan International Police Training Center outside of Amman to train Iraq law enforcement personnel. Sixteen nations provide a total of 352 police trainers for the center. The camp has a capacity to train 3,000 Iraqi police recruits in an eight-week basic police skills course and graduate 1,500 new police every month. New Iraqi police come away with a coveted paycheck ($150) and sufficiently trained and equipped to counter foreign intelligence operations, pandemic lawlessness in an anarchic society, and insurgents who target US troops or collaborators.

In April 2005 I had the chance to visit the center, the world's largest international police training camp. I am a military officer and have been deployed throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, but this was one of the nicest training posts I have ever seen. However, the comprehensive training I witnessed was disheartening. The Iraq coalition constituency deserves to know why this mission is likely to fail.
There are three main reasons why these forces will never be ready to defend their country: The wary, uncommitted recruits are immature and lackadaisical about the mission; the parsimonious training is inadequate; and accountability once recruits return to Iraq is inconsistent at best and lacks the return on investment that one would expect.

The recruit pool. According to international instructors at the camp, the troops are often recruited from among intimidated teenagers or disillusioned, desperate unemployed men left with few job prospects in their chaotic country. We aren't always getting the highest quality ''volunteers" because many of those have already joined the insurgency. Others are understandably concerned about their life expectancy if they join the police. In spite of most of the high-quality, experienced instructors, I learned that a clan relative of the Jordanian terrorist mastermind Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi was also an employee at the camp, adding an interesting element to operational security.

Return on Investment. Purportedly, about 40 to 60 percent of these graduates never actually join the Iraqi police force when they return from Jordan. They defect, taking their coveted pay and their new skills to the insidious insurgency, according to liaison officers in Iraq. Some are forced to give up the weapons they were issued at this camp to corrupt local police chiefs; these often end up on the black market. Others lose their firearms in insurgent raids on police stations. Sadly, too many are targeted immediately upon return to Iraq. Forty-six newly returned graduates on a bus were executed point-blank by insurgents this spring; more than 1,500 of those who have made it into the police force have died just this year.

Training. One would think that the greatest threat to police in Iraq stems from suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices. Yet even today there is still no training to counter these threats. How ironic that there has been no integration of such skills given the readily available standard operating procedures of special operations or the Army's IED Task Force.

Instructors admitted to me that their work was more about pumping out numbers, not about quality, reinforced training. One would think that high proficiency at firearms training, armed reconnaissance patrols, and perhaps self-defense would be requirements for graduation, yet the training for each skill lasts one week. Furthermore, there was no scheduled follow-up training in Iraq. At least trainers incorporated some human rights instruction and other virtuous skills one would hope to impart upon a nascent organization. Can these values be adequately imbued in one week of exposure?

The lack of long-term planning and reliance on quick-fix solutions seem to have metastasized in so many of our military operations. It is no wonder that more than 40 percent of my classmates have left active duty and that the Army struggles to meet recruiting goals. We need to do a better job with our accountability of how honorable plans are poorly implemented. While the Jordan training center has tremendous potential, the deficient manner in which the coalition struggles toward its goal of turning over Iraqi security illustrates another endeavor destined for failure.”

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 09:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Iraq Update in Words...

There are several good article about the current situation in Iraq and the *prevailing wisdom* to be derived from that War Lesson.

To read a few excerpts from these pieces of Peter Daou, David Corn, Howard Fineman and Francis Fukuyama; click on the "more" button.

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 09:47 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Would you buy a used car (Or a book) from this man???

Author targeted for cure claims: Trudeau says foes are out to get him. by John Schmeltzer and Michael Higgins (Chicago Tribune):

”Publishers Weekly says Kevin Trudeau, author of the book, "Natural Cures `They' Don't Want You to Know About," is the nation's current best-selling non-fiction writer.

But the New York State Consumer Protection Board calls Trudeau a fraud, while the Federal Trade Commission says he has misled millions in sales of other products…

…Previously convicted of credit card fraud and grand larceny, Trudeau acknowledges he has many critics. In 15 years as a marketer, he said, he was barred from doing business in Australia and has been investigated by four federal agencies and more than a dozen state attorneys general.

The New York Consumer Protection Board is unhappy with Trudeau over the many medical claims made in his book, which includes advice both sensible (walk one hour a day) and shocking (all tap water is poisonous). Trudeau said he distinguishes between medical facts and his opinions and will fight back.

When the FTC published a press release last year warning of Trudeau's background as an infomercial artist who had "misled American consumers for years," he sought an injunction in federal court in Washington to force the agency to revise it. Last week, a federal judge threw out Trudeau's efforts.

On Tuesday, another federal judge in Albany, N.Y., is to consider Trudeau's claim that the New York consumer board pressured TV and cable channels to stop airing his infomercial for the "Natural Cures" book.

"This book is exploiting and misleading people who are searching for cures to serious illnesses," said Teresa A. Santiago, the New York consumer board chairman. "What they discover is page after page after page of pure speculation. ... From cover to cover, this book is a fraud. ... People with real illnesses are being misled”….

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 09:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables...

"... To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives.

This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.

This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in politics," or, "There's nothing I can do about it," or, "Eh, they're all crooks anyway."

Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can do about any of it. Look around you this morning. I suppose the National Rifle Association would argue, "Government policies don't kill people, hurricanes kill people." Actually, hurricanes plus government policies kill people..."

-- Molly Ivins (Courtesy of Chicago Tribune).

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 09:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Let the Recriminations Begin...

Government is to blame for the chaos: New Orleans damage, looting might have been less severe if there were better disaster planning, by James Pinkerton (Newsday)

"As we see the devastation from Hurricane Katrina - caused first by nature and now by looters, shooters and carjackers - it's time to state the obvious. We need a larger vision of homeland security, as well as a better focus on the American homeland.

One might also ask: Where was President George W. Bush as the storm brewed? And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff? Katrina was identified on Aug. 24, and so national authorities had five days to prepare for its impact on the Gulf Coast. Perhaps there wasn't enough time to strengthen the lifesaving levees, but where was the comprehensive disaster response? Where were the planeloads of temporary generators and pumps to keep the electricity and water going?

And most of all, where were the battalions of law enforcers, including, if need be, troops from around the country? Nowhere.

The AP reported that looters "floated garbage cans filled with clothing and jewelry down the street in a dash to grab what they could." Clothing? Jewelry? Not the first needs of the hungry.

Moreover, The AP continued, looting "took place in full view of police and National Guard troops." This is governmental malpractice - from the city, the state, the feds.

As in Iraq, the government has chosen to scrimp on the key to effective law enforcement: a big, visible presence on the streets. There are times when simple quantity has a quality all its own. Yes, it's great to have an elite "Starship Troopers" military, skilled at surgical-strike combat. But there are times when we also need a boot-heavy corps of Beetle Baileys to be visibly large and in charge of every street corner. And what's true for Baghdad is true for the Big Easy.

If homeland security is to have any meaning, it should focus on all threats to the home front. This week, the homeland securitizers failed, big-time."

Karen on 09.01.05 @ 07:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The downside of the Second Amendment....

From a story on looting in New Orleans:

Even as stopping the looting became a top priority, Tenet HealthCare Corp. asked authorities late Wednesday to help evacuate a fully functioning hospital in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water and medical supplies was held up at gunpoint.

"There are physical threats to safety from roving bands of armed individuals with weapons who are threatening the safety of the hospital," said spokesman Steven Campanini. He estimated there were about 350 employees in the hospital and between 125 to 150 patients.
Though, isn't "armed individuals with weapons", um, redundant? Or is it possible to be armed without having a weapon (of some sort)?

Len on 09.01.05 @ 07:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A little history is a dangerous thing, and George W. Bush has been sipping from its well all too skimpily. Last week, in an effort to put a positive spin on the breakdown of Iraq's constitutional assembly, the president noted that Federalist America went through a decade of turbulence before completing its own constitution—a dreadful analogy, in part because the two situations are so radically different, but more because, if the comparison were apt, it would imply that Iraq will be a cauldron of blood and chaos for many decades to come.

Now, President Bush is going further—this time, gulping more than anyone should have to swallow—likening the nature, scope, and stakes of America's battle in Iraq to those of World War II.

He made the comparison in a speech at San Diego's Naval Air Station on Aug. 30 to mark the 60th anniversary of V-J Day. In a sense, this is what presidents are supposed to do on such occasions—draw links between the heroes of "the greatest generation" and the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are fighting for freedom today. But Bush took the analogy beyond the demands of protocol. The clear claims of this speech: Bin Laden and Zarqawi = Hitler and Mussolini. Terrorists = Nazis. Suicide bombers = kamikaze pilots. 1930s isolationists = Clinton-era Democrats. Franklin D. Roosevelt's determination to spread democracy across the globe = ... (could it be?) Bush's own freedom-spreading policies.

As with his constitutional comparison, it's a tossup which aspect of this rhetorical game is more egregious: the fact that the two wars are so vastly different in nearly every way imaginable, or the fact that, if they were as similar as President Bush proclaims, he is doing so remarkably little to wage this one.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 09.01.05 @ 06:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

September 2005

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