Friday, September 30, 2005


Texans open their hearts to fellow Texans.

People evacuating Beaumont in a convoy of buses report they were not allowed to stop to go to the bathroom until they reached their destination, 250 miles from where they started.

"This officer said he was going to shoot me if I didn't get back on the bus," she said. "At that point I was prepared to let him shoot me. I had this invalid on the bus who was already embarrassed because she urinated all over herself. And I was not going to let her embarrass herself again. We just got off.
But most of the evacuees were black, so this is (chuckle) all working out very well for them.

Thanks to Jeanne of Body and Soul for the link.

Hi to Shakespeare's sis

Shakespeare's Sister blogrolled me to day with this kind intro:

Prairie Angel, because I can’t resist a gal who will title a post Well, Fuck.
A big Prairie howdy to visitors from Shakes-sis. Check out the amenities, and stop by the gift shop for fine Annoy a Conservative gear.

ASIDE: you know, hitcounters can provide valuable insight into where your readers are coming from. Today, for instance, I got a hit off a search on 'angel saying fuck'. And indeed, if you go to and search on 'angel saying fuck', I'm Number One!

Alas, I'm not anywhere in the top ten on yahoo, google, google/blogsearch or technorati on 'angel saying fuck'. (Yes, of COURSE I had to check.)

So goooo, MSN!

They hate us 'cause we're free, see...

Karen Hughes, diplomat:

When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why Mr Bush mentions God in his speeches, Hughes asked him whether he was aware that "previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our constitution cites 'one nation under God'."

"Well, never mind," he said.

With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proofs for Bin Laden's claims about American motives. "It is stunning to the extent Hughes is helping bin Laden," says Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted extensive research into the motives of suicide terrorists and is the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he says, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."

Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain, independent of certain highly specific circumstances.

"Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there first must be the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals.

"If you read Osama's speeches, they begin with descriptions of the US occupation of the Arabian peninsula driven by our religious goals and that it is our religious purpose that must be confronted. That argument is incredibly powerful, not only to religious Muslims but also secular Muslims. Everything Hughes says makes their case."

About Bush, Bill Maher said: "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."

Time to entertain the possibility that our government isn't on our side, you ask me.

Uh Oh

This just in:

HONG KONG, China (Reuters) -- A strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus that may unleash the next global flu pandemic is showing resistance to Tamiflu, the antiviral drug that countries around the world are now stockpiling to fend off the looming threat.
Lessee... Got your plague. Check. Got your war on. Check. Floods, famines, fires? Check, check, check.

Time to revisit those Bush is the Antichrist theories. Just saying.

Friday Cubby Blogging

'Cause you just can't get too much cute.

The Daily Updates at the Panda Page that hosts the PandaCam are always fun:

Sept 28: Mei Not Ready for Cub to Leave Den

This morning we moved the cub onto a bed of hay placed just outside the door to the den. When Mei Xiang was given access to this enclosure, she slowly approached the cub, then passed him to look inside the den. She immediately returned to the cub and dragged him by the scruff of his head and neck area, back to the den. She did this in three minutes, although it seemed much longer as she had a hard time picking up the big boy. She certainly let us know she is not ready to have him relocated!

September 29: Cub Takes a Few Steps

The cub lifted himself on all four legs this morning and took about three steps before collapsing on his side. The sounds of his efforts brought Mei Xiang back into the den. After picking him up and giving him a good once over with both eyes and tongue, she left him sleeping, and stretched out on the platform for a nap.

As of today's exam, he's 11.1 pounds. And it's the last day for vote for his name, so hurry over to this page and register your pick.

I'm lobbying for Qiang Qiang, because it means 'strong, powerful', and our cub is the biggest and strongest cubby ever. And the smartest and cutest. Probably the bravest and most considerate, too.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fire and Ice?

John in DC will like this:

CNN enshrines fire-and-ice team of Cooper, Brown

CNN's Anderson Cooper, an up-and-coming anchor who burnished his star while covering Hurricane Katrina, won't be giving up his expanded prime time role anytime soon.

Cooper, who has headlined "Anderson Cooper 360°" at 7 p.m. for the past two years, has been sharing duties on "NewsNight" with regular host Aaron Brown since mid-September, when the 10 p.m. show was expanded to two hours. CNN said Thursday it had decided to keep Cooper as co-host.


"The combination of Aaron and Anderson gives us fire and ice," Klein said Thursday. "Anderson is about visceral experience. Aaron is kind of about the cerebral analysis."

Pshew. Is it hot in here or is it just me?

The spur of competition?

If anything's likely to goad our egotistical American selves back into space, it's the possibility that someone else might be better at it. Thus, I'm pleased to see this article, Russia thriving again on the final frontier.

And lookit, doesn't this just look like it could emerge from the shuttle bay of the old NCC-1701?

Miller walks

Expected to talk:

She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said. In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said.
Unanswered question: why now? Why not back in July?

Speculation: could Fitzgerald finally have enough to indict Libby? And is Libby cutting a deal for higher ups? and suddenly find himself needing corroborating witnesses?

Shit, meet fan.

Well, fuck

From CNN:

Bush's job approval rating in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll climbed to 45 percent, and 71 percent said they approved of his handling of Hurricane Rita, which struck land Saturday near the Texas-Louisiana border.
So apparently being seen to appear to care is all that matters. We are so screwed.

Guarding the wrong nation

Oops. Who'd have thought we'd be needing that stuff here?

With most of its best equipment in Iraq, the National Guard has only about one-third of the helicopters, trucks, radios and other supplies it needs for homeland security, the Guard’s top commander said Thursday.

Gen. Steven Blum said Guard members had to convey messages in person, by helicopter and boat, so units could communicate with each other after Hurricane Katrina. The Guard’s older radios do not work with the more sophisticated active duty equipment, he said.

Meanwhile: Southern Calif. wildfire prompts evacuations

Finding roosting room for all these returning chickens is getting to be a bit of a problem.

Those Pesky Judges II

More encouraging news today:

A federal judge has rejected former Attorney General John Ashcroft's attempt to block a lawsuit by claiming that the threat of terrorism exempts the government from following peacetime regulations.


Justice Department lawyers wrote on Ashcroft's behalf that the FBI needed detainees isolated from the outside world as the bureau frantically tried to find al-Qaida cells in the United States in the months after Sept. 11, making the appeals process and its limits on solitary confinement an unnecessary burden.

"Regulations written in peacetime cannot circumscribe the government's discretion at a time of national emergency from foreign threats," they wrote.

Gleeson singled out that argument for particularly harsh criticism Wednesday in a 70-page decision upholding most of the charges in the lawsuit.

"This proposition, which suggests that, as a matter of law, constitutional and statutory rights must be suspended during times of crisis, is supported neither by statute nor the Constitution," he wrote.

Drat. You mean 9/11 didn't change everything? I thought we could ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted now...

Judge orders release of Abu Ghraib photos and tapes

The government has been trying to prevent the release of the worst of the photos and videos (yes, there are videos) of the prisoner abuse as Abu Ghraib, on the argument that they will 'damage America's image'. Please note that it's not the abuse that will damage our image, it's the visual proof. Proving once again that this government can't tell reality from spin.

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein today tells them "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command." Goooo, judge.

New Orleans, look to Seattle

As New Orleans rushes to rebuild, they could take a useful lesson from the experience of Seattle. Most of the downtown of Seattle was destroyed in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. Seattle was originally built on low land that often flooded; worse, in a way, when the tides ran a certain way, sewers... well, ran backwards. This caused homes to have to build their flushing toilets up a flight of stairs, if they didn't want to periodically be revisited by their wastes.

So after the fire, city officials debated raising the street level by filling in the land. And they debated and debated... and merchants went ahead and rebuilt on the ground that was there. So when they finally committed to the ground raising (and street levels were raised some 36 feet in places), businesses' fancy storefronts became basement level and their second and third stories became street-level.

For a time, the original street levels were left as deep trenches you could reach via ladders, then they were covered over and condemned because of fear of crime and disease (rats!) In the '60s, an enterprising citizen had some parts of the tunnels that used to be the city sidewalks cleaned up and reinforced and now you can tour the 'Seattle Underground', peering in at fin-de-siecle storefronts and enjoying the creepy ambiance.

So, New Orleans, think of raising the ground level, but don't waffle too long.

See Great Seattle Fire and Seattle Underground in Wikipedia.

A new euphemism?

Well, you've all heard by now that DeLay was not able to crown his own successor as house majority leader. The Post has this:

What he and Hastert wanted was a timeserver, someone to hold the job but with no ambitions to stay in it. And they had someone in mind. This week, an aide to the speaker approached Rep. David Dreier about his role in a post-DeLay caucus. Dreier, a congenial Californian who has loyally served the GOP leadership as Rules Committee chairman, expressed interest in helping Hastert.

There was one big problem: When DeLay's indictment was unsealed yesterday, conservatives in the GOP caucus immediately erupted in anger over rumors that the selection of Dreier, whom they regard as too moderate, was being presented as a fait accompli .

They're calling it 'too moderate' now? What ever happened to 'friend of Dorothy'? I always liked that one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


From Andy Borowitz:

Sept. 27, 2005 - In a televised speech to the nation last night, President George W. Bush praised the Federal government for responding swiftly to Hurricane Rita with well-crafted, high-quality photo opportunities showing him looking concerned. But he said that the government needs to create the impression of concern even faster in the future.


"In times of crisis, the president needs to send the American people the following message," the president concluded. "Message: I look like I care."

The Republican closet

From Americablog, re the new Majority Leader:

This is a great day for ambiguously gay heroes. Ken must be so proud.

I wonder how the religious right is feeling just about now? They can kiss their anti-gay constitutional amendment goodbye, and much more. If the religious right doesn't think we can pressure Dreier to stop their anti-gay crap, then they really haven't been reading up on their gay agenda. :-)

Heh. I love it when John flaunts his agenda.

Now THAT's constituent service!

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) -- Green Party lawmaker Keith Locke delivered on a bold election promise Sunday when he ran almost naked down one of the busiest streets of New Zealand's largest city.
From CNN

The list of US lawmakers I would not like to see run naked through the streets is almost as long as the list of US lawmakers.

Now the list of US lawmakers I'd like to see tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail, on the other hand, grows daily.

That's one

Breaking at CNN - Delay indicted.

Bets now on the next up - Rove? Frist? I'm putting money on Rove - I think Fitzgerald has a big headstart on the SEC.


This little fable was written in 1944 by Tommy Douglas, a Canadian, referring to Canadian politics. And yet, it seems rather appropriate today:

It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:"The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

Big hugs to Doug R who posted this over in comments at Kevin Drum's.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Health news

A couple of odd stories... first:

A Los Angeles hospital on Tuesday suspended its liver transplant program after allowing a Saudi patient to jump to the top of the waiting list and falsifying data to cover it up.
The report doesn't mention whether the Saudi in question is tight buds with the Bush Family, but I think we can take that as a given.

Then there's this:

Pomegranate juice, a deep red juice becoming popular as a health drink, works against prostate cancer cells in lab dishes and in mice, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
Some scholars suggest that the 'apple' involved in the Eden Eviction was most likely really a pomegranate. So it's clear from this that Eve (if there was an Eve) was only trying to provide her family with healthful antioxidants, and for that, she's had to suffer millenia of misunderstanding. (But being a mother, I'm sure she's used to it.)

Finally, kinda creepy news:

Construction workers have found bone fragments that may be remains of people who died in the World Trade Center attacks on the roof of a neighboring skyscraper damaged on September 11, 2001, a city official said on Tuesday.
Something I hadn't realized - only 292 of the 9/11 victims were identified. Which makes this part of the article make more sense:
The discovery of what may be human remains highlights the other big concern for families of the victims who are already pressing for millions of tons of rubble from Ground Zero to be treated as human remains and given a proper burial rather than dumped in a landfill like garbage.

But it does raise the question - how do you give a 'proper burial' to millions of tons of rubble?

Thanks to Ralph of Newfare for the cool news headlines sidebar, btw. It's a great way to scan the headlines quickly.


Bush Names Retired Plumber Treasury Secretary

Giving credit where credit is due

Karen Hughes actually brings up the Saudi ban on women driving. A Sister Souljah for Karen.

Same shit, different day

Yet again:

Squeezed between a conservative clamor for spending cuts and the rising cost of hurricane relief, Republican congressional leaders will respond this week with a public relations offensive to win over angry conservatives -- but no substantive changes in budget policy.

What a creep


... By contrast, Brown told the committee, FEMA's approach worked in Mississippi and Alabama, whose governors are both Republicans.

Of the disastrous flooding that stranded thousands for days in New Orleans, Brown said in prepared testimony, "The only variable was the state government officials involved." He said later in answer to a question that he did not want to make a "partisan" distinction and "can't help it" that the state governments he praised are run by Republicans, while Louisiana is governed by a Democrat.

I understand there's some towns in Mississippi that might quibble at Brownie's characterization of how wonderful FEMA was there...

Double dipping begins

As I pointed out earlier, reimbursing for acts of charity negates the act of charity. But that doesn't stop the American Red Cross from lobbying for federal funds to cover their costs. It is noted with irony that the voice of reason here comes from the Southern Baptists:

"Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer," said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "We would never ask the government to pay for it."
So. You give to the Red Cross, who spends your money and then puts in an expense voucher to the Federal Government, who pays THEM back. Suggest that all of you who thought they were helping out hurricane victims by donating to the Red Cross send them a request for your money back - then forward it to a true charity.


Butler being kicked to the curb at Ask Jeeves.

One hopes he's at least being pensioned off.

FEMA still fucked up

Tucked inside this article on local conditions in Beaumont TX is this:

County Judge Carl Griffith said today he has become so frustrated with the federal relief effort that he has instructed all local officials to use police force if they have to to take supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If you have enough policemen to take it from them, take it," Griffith said.


"I realize that there is a significant logistics issue and I appreciate that," Wimer said. "But there is a significant amount of equipment and manpower sitting at (local FEMA headquarters) and for whatever reason, it has not been released and that is a bunch of (nonsense)."

Right answer. Wrong reason

Tom DeLay actually is right for once. (Hold on a second... need to take a nitro pill after typing that sentence.)

Yes, he's right, but being Tom DeLay, he's got the wrong reason. The question is whether or not to use the US Military as first line disaster response. Tom, of course, expands that to the entire federal government when he says:

"I don't want the federal government to take over disaster response, believe me," DeLay told the AP. "Why? Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy."
I don't want to see the armed forces be the first you call on for domestic emergencies. Why? Police state, police state, police state.

But Bush so badly wants his banana republic.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Religion is bad for you!

Like I been saying all along:

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.


It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.


“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”


He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional.

Read the whole thing.

Little-Known Don Adams Factoid

Sigh. They're dropping like flies, the icons of my baby-boomer childhood.

But the Don Adams obits I've read all omit one important factoid that may help explain his excellence in portraying the hapless Agent 86.

Would you believe that Don Adams at one point was ... a guvvie??

Yes, it's true. Between his military service and his stand-up comedy career, Don Adams spent some time in the suburbs of our nation's capitol, at the then-Army Map Service. I'm not sure what his job was - probably GS-9 cartographer or something suitably drone-like. He was well-remembered when I joined the former AMS, then Defense Mapping Agency in the late '70s.

DMA got folded into something called 'NIMA' after my time, and God knows what it's called now, probably His Royal Highness' Most Excellent Cartographers in Service to the Defense of the Realm.

Surely not?? Right in FRONT Of everybody?

From CBS via Raw Story via Americablog:

CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina."

Evaluate its response?? I can see the report now: "FEMA's response to Katrina was lacking because I lacked the qualifications to be in the job I was in. The End."

Funny 'cause it's true

Heh. Anderson Cooper: Flood Stud

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Blinders off

From Newsweek:

The president didn't look all that relieved or happy, however. His eyes were puffy from lack of sleep (he had been awakened all through the night with bulletins), and he seemed cranky and fidgety. A group of reporters and photographers had been summoned by White House handlers to capture a photo op of the commander in chief at his post. Bush stared at them balefully. He rocked back and forth in his chair, furiously at times, asked no questions and took no notes. It almost seemed as though he resented having to strike a pose for the press.

Picture a journalist even being allowed to pen that paragraph as little as two-three months ago.

The Mote in Your Own Eye

The NYT, among the converted, apparently, at last, has this to say:

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 lack of expectations is evident even in areas where the president is supposed to be deeply engaged. The Treasury Department's hollowed-out leadership structure suggests an administration that is happy to coast along with a gentleman's C for handling the nation's finances. But it has been most graphically, and tragically, on display in Iraq and in the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Four years after 9/11, Katrina showed the world that performance standards for the Department of Homeland Security were so low that it was not required to create real plans to respond to real disasters. Only a president with no expectation that the federal government should step up after a crisis could have stripped the Federal Emergency Management Agency bare, appointed as its director a political crony who could not even adequately represent the breeders of Arabian horses, and announced that the director was doing a splendid job while bodies floated in the floodwaters.

Only a president who does not expect the government to help provide decent housing for the truly needy in normal times could leave seven of the top jobs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development vacant and then, after disaster struck, offer small-bore solutions to enormous problems. Substandard wages, an easing of affirmative action regulation and a housing lottery that will help a tiny sliver of people apparently are considered good enough for poor families along the Gulf Coast left homeless by Katrina.

It sounds dead-on and about time. And yet...

Does the New York Times take any responsibility for promulgating such low expectations of the President? After using their own enormous bully-pulpit to build up a wealth of reinforcement for the concept that standing in rubble with a bullhorn shows 'leadership'; that taking on a purely optional war was 'strength'...

I mean, it's nice to see them finally on the side of Truth, Justice and the American Way. But it's the ol' Dry Drunk issue - they're trying to get well without ever admitting that they had a problem.

Expect to see them fall off the wagon soon.


All fun and games until someone gets hurt

As the national press corps emerges, stunned and blinking from their four year nap, the condition of the permanent government is finally getting some attention.

FEMA has been widely chronicled of late; now Newsweek turns a spotlight on the CIA: an Agency Version of the Jerry Springer Show.

You know, you gotta feel sorry for whoever moves into the White House in Jan 2009. They're going to find the Civil Service has been gutted; a core of deadwood and waiting-for-retirement disheartened professionals surrounded by a thick, chewy shell of corrupt Bush Family Cronies.

To Do: Fall 2008. Brush up resume.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Miles O'Brien out of the closet!

Well, I must say, not the CNN reporter you'd first THINK of when you hear 'out of the closet', but still...

From the CNN Rita blog:

Sleeping in a jury room

CNN's Miles O'Brien in Lumberton, Texas
Posted: 2:50 a.m. ET

We are in Lumberton, Texas, based at the police station. Slept for about five hours inside the jury room. Five hours! I savored every moment inside a supply closet.

I - er - came out of the closet at 1 a.m. ET, and the power was out. The police generator had crapped out. Sure seemed like a sure thing.

BTW, I like the way the networks and media in general are using blogs during breaking stories now...


President Struggles to Regain His Pre-Hurricane Swagger

Aw, poor wittle oooo. Ooo want you swagger back?

Man, they think people like the dumb-ass frat-boy strut?? How bubble-icious is that?

Made you think


Even a fictional DHS is run by crooks.

Man, you just can't make this shit up:

In May 2003, a dapper self-described financial strategist from Century City embarked on what he promised investors would be a riveting television series based on the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Saying his drama had the blessing of President Bush and others in Washington, D.C., Joseph M. Medawar quickly found plenty of backers for the show — one that he promised would be followed by a reality-based series titled "Fighting Terrorism Together."

But on Friday, in an ending that might have been foretold by anyone with a healthy skepticism of the Hollywood pitch, Medawar was arrested by FBI and IRS agents on charges that he bilked at least 70 investors — many of them from local churches — out of more than $5.5 million. Virtually all of the money, according to authorities, went to a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars, shopping sprees, fancy dinners and $40,000-a-month in rent for a Beverly Hills mansion.

So persuasive was Medawar, 43, that he not only won over dozens of investors but persuaded some of the state's prominent Republicans that his Homeland Security series deserved their support. They included U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and businessman Mario Rodriguez, who was the Western regional director of Bush's reelection campaign and was listed on the show's website as a producer until a few months ago.


So skillful was Medawar that even after investors learned that the FBI was looking into his activities, he persuaded them it was standard procedure for any company going public, the affidavit alleges. The affidavit describes how Medawar allegedly spent millions of dollars collected for the show on extravagances for himself; the show's female lead, Alison Heruth Waterbury; and her family.

I think Medwar has a fine future - maybe running HUD, or FDA? Bush will nickname him 'Warry' and rub his head.


What you get when amateurs think they know more than professionals.

Psychic predictions

Psychic Kate, from the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn, has some startling glimpses into the future:

Such a huge disturbance in the force as the recent disaster on the Gulf Coast can’t help but stir up the psychic soup—not to be confused with the toxic soup slowly returning to Lake Pontchartrain.


The idea of running the government like a business will be finally laid to rest—and Ross Perot apologizes for bringing it up in the first place.


In an unprecedented moment of clarity, the Transportation Security Administration will begin a massive effort to reunite confiscated nail clippers with their rightful owners.


The Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Michael “Glad That’s Over” Brown will be confiscated by Chief Justice Arlen Specter.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 23, 2005

To the MOON, Alice!

Okay, there's been a lot of joking around on the left side of the blogosphere about NASA's planned return to the moon. 'It's obviously a ploy to have a big number in the budget that someone can cut and say they don't need to roll back the tax giveaways to the rich', say the cynical. The conspiratorial wing claims it's a new giant boondoggle to give money away to corporate cronies, and there's probably a bit of truth in that one.

But the Liberal Conventional Wisdom, alas, seems to be 'as long as there's poverty and suffering on earth, we can't afford a space program'.

I'm going to depart of Liberal Orthodoxy and claim we can't afford to NOT have a space program.

Look around you - we as a nation are considerably stupider than we were back in the manned spaceflight heyday. Smartass little MBAs at FEMA tell Governor Bill Richardson he can't deploy his National Guard troops to Louisiana until he has the paperwork filled out just right. Getting airlifts of supplies to people stranded on the ground in New Orleans is apparently beyond our technical capabilities, although we managed to keep the city of West Berlin supplied with everything it needed for almost a year during the Berlin Airlift over half a century ago. (The operation was delivering supplies one day after the start of the blockade.)

We can't move a million people out of an endangered town with days of warning. We're getting stupider and shallower, people, and it's our own fault.

Can you imagine 'Uncle Walter' Cronkite allowing a flat-earther to appear on his show to 'balance' someone from NASA talking about orbiting a non-flat earth? The mind reels. In those days, even people who didn't understand science respected it. Now you can't talk about anything without providing an alternate viewpoint from some crackpot fringe group, giving them legitimacy they don't deserve and literally unbalancing the coverage by making it appear that they do.

It doesn't matter that some huge percentage of the US population believes the earth is 6000 years old - they're still wrong. And 'respecting their viewpoint' makes us all a little bit dumber. If NINETY-NINE percent of the population believed the earth was flat, that would not change the fact that it's spheroidal.

Science meant something in the manned-spaceflight days. And it could mean something again, if we only got over our Political Correctness and home-schooled 'respect for the views of others'.

A manned mission to the moon, and building permanent bases there and on Mars, is not a waste of money. We could use some experience in closed system recycling, in terraforming and alternate energy. Because we're quite likely going to need to know how to do those things here - someday we may be called upon to terraform ... well, Terra. Could we do it now? Hell, no.

I'm a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy literature. And there's a common plot device often found in these genres - stumbling across artifacts of an ancient civilization more advanced than our own. While I enjoy these stories, I always used to roll my eyes at this point. Because technology used to only go in one direction. How could any civilization with such-and-so a technological capability come to lose it? Well, apparently by ignoring science for a few decades, putting morons in charge of education, allowing people to teach mythology as science and pretending that facts are just a matter of opinion, all of which are equally valid.

We used to know how to send people to the moon. We can't do that now. Doesn't that scare anybody but me?

Friday Cubby Blogging

OMG, I almost forgot the cubby update! Here's cubby:

From the Panda Page, 22 Sept:

The cub took a step yesterday! He lifted himself up and was swaying on all four legs when he suddenly took a step forward and fell on his face. After all the effort, he immediately fell asleep.
He's exactly teddy-bear-sized now.

"I know there's a pony in here somewhere..."

... she cried as she ran thru the barn full of horse manure.

In my desperate search for any glimmer of a silver lining, there's this:

Toyota: Katrina drove up hybrid demand

Now if we can just get some interest going on biodiesel, the planet may stand a chance.

Nation getting dumber?

Did IQs suddenly drop while I was away? - Officer Ripley

I dunno, maybe it's because I remember the '60s and '70s. But there sure seems to be a lot of dumb people running around in charge these days.

For those of you too young to remember, the '60s and '70s were the heyday of the Disaster Movie. Arthur Hailey! Doomed airliners, cities and ships! And in the disaster epics centered in major metropolian areas, there was one constant feature.

Say someone's threatening to blow up a bomb in the subway (usually a 'madman' or a master criminal type, who wants billions to suddenly appear in his Swiss bank account or he's taking out the city). Or there are these vials containing a hideous strain of super-communicable, high-mortality strain of flu. Or plague. Or maybe aliens have landed. Anyway, the City Is Threatened.

As the reality of the situation is being made clear to the local authorities, some young flunky will shriek, "We have to evacuate the city!" And the mayor, usually played by a black character actor like Ossie Davis, will rumble, "Forget it. There's no way to evacuate a city this size in time. The people will panic. It would be a catastrophe."

So the police chief, or university scientist, or FBI agent Main Hero has to track down the terrorist, madman, or master criminal, ably assisted by the Beautiful Brainy Scientist from CDC, the Beautiful SWAT-team leader and/or the Beautiful Lounge Singer just caught up in the action, while all around them, people in the imperiled city go about their usual business, oblivious to their danger.

So what happened in the past 30-40 years to make us forget what every hack screenwriter used to know?

Weird poll on CNN

CNN currently has one of their 'quickvote' polls on their homepage - question: " Are you concerned at the effect Hurricane Rita could have on gas supplies?"

87 percent say 'yes'.

I want to know who the 13% are. Pre-teens on their parents computers that aren't concerned about anything but how to work up the courage to talk to a real girl? The obnoxious guy in your office that always bikes to work and is ignoring the fact that higher gas prices will raise the price of, well, everything? Commune dwellers who are completely off the grid and don't rely on anyone outside their fences for anything?

Who are these people?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Must Read

The Poor Man wonders: What part of the pig gives us pork?

His childhood confusion over 'flesh' and 'meat', as well as his dinosaur musings, makes this post a classic.


Somebody gets it!

Federal disaster grants to state and local governments should be conditioned on how they accommodate pets in their evacuation plans, say lawmakers disturbed that some Hurricane Katrina victims refused to leave home because they couldn't take their animals with them.

"I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been saved had they been able to take their pets," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California, said Thursday.

Lantos and Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, and Barney Frank, D-Massaschusetts, are sponsoring a bill that would require that state and local disaster preparedness plans required for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding include provisions for household pets and service animals.

... not leaving without the pets.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another Urban Legend gone

Murder! Rape! Looting and pillaging! And yet:

Cataldie also put to rest rumors that some stranded evacuees who packed the convention center and Superdome had been murdered.

None of the 10 people who died at the Superdome or the four who died at the convention center were murdered, he said.

The people who died at the two shelters, he said, "were so fragile, quite honestly, they didn't make it without medical care."

Betcha five years from now the number of people 'murdered' in the Superdome will have grown to dozens... Such is the vitality of a great meme.

Hurricane Fatigue?

First we get Richard Bradley at HuffPost, bemoaning CNN's 'Hurricane Addiction' as though Katrina was Yet Another Missing White Chick.

Now here's Atrios (ATRIOS!) complaining:

There are certainly a large number of people who currently have a genuine interest in finding out where and when Rita will hit, but nonetheless there's something a bit creepy about the number of people in this country who are truly obsessed with tracking the weather...
Okay, I don't know Bradley from Adam, but I really am a bit surprised at Atrios. I mean, lookit - Katrina has displaced upwards of a million Americans, and effected the lives of untold millions more, taking into account volunteers, relatives of displaced, the people in towns taking in the displaced, etc. Its effects on the economy are yet to be guestimated, and true costs probably won't be known for years.

Now we have another cat-5 hurricane bearing down on the part of the gulfcoast that Katrina missed. A double-whammy? how many more lives are going to be thrown into turmoil? What's going to happen to the gulf's oil-bearing capacity? Are we looking at the kickoff to a global depression?

This isn't a two-day story. If Rita does a Katrina on Texas... well, the possibilities are scary as shit. If the media wasn't obsessing over this, they'd be guilty of dereliction of duty. Just because they've been guilty for the past almost four years doesn't mean we ought to want them to ignore the important stories.

I mean, duh!

Usurping the flag

One thing that really annoys me about Bush-Cultists is that whenever their Boy Emperor gets into political trouble, they slap American flags all over their vehicles. I'm rather partial to the flag myself, but am loathe to sport it on my car because I don't want to be mistaken for one of them.

So I created a flag that's unambiguous - no one will think you're a Bush Supporter when you wear these colors. We can go back to the three-color version when we finish taking out the trash.

Also mugs and bumpersticker.

Damned if you do...

A moment, please, to appreciate the conundrum that Hurricane Rita presents to the Bush Adminstration. If they leap all hands to battlestations and do everything right this time, it's 'oh, suuuure, when it's your state and your folk, you can't move fast enough, but when it's a bunch of black folk...' On the other hand, if they screw up as royally as they did with Katrina, they're the gang who can't learn from mistakes made less than a month ago.

Holy schadenfreude, Batman! What's a lackluster bunch of in-over-their-heads no-brainers to do??

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Psychopaths need not apply

Well, it made turn out that psychopaths make better financial traders, but let's not get carried away. I think we've already seen the results of putting them in charge of whole countries.

Cheney to remain above ground!

Heh - this just in, from Newsweek:

Cheney to Spend a Month Above Ground
Will expose himself to sunlight to boost White House approval ratings

Sept. 20, 2005 - Vice President Dick Cheney said today that in an effort to pump up the White House's anemic approval ratings he would remain above ground for an entire month and would not return to his secure, undisclosed location until November.


But according to Dr. Lars Krenzel, a scientist who studies the habitats and migration patterns of vice presidents for the University of Minnesota, Dick Cheney's extended visit to the earth's surface means "a journey into the unknown." "There is no way of predicting how Dick Cheney will respond to the earth's atmosphere," said Dr. Krenzel. "One thing is certain, however: whether he is above ground or below ground, his Halliburton stock will continue to rise."

Elsewhere, NASA said it would return to the moon by 2018, and FEMA said it would return its phone calls by 2020.

Ethical Dilemma looms

Going to be fun to watch the fundies wax wroth while those who sold their souls for their votes try to finesse it:

Mice with severe spinal cord injuries regained much of their ability to walk normally after getting injections of stem cells taken from the brains of human fetuses, scientists in California reported yesterday.


The new research, described in the Sept. 27 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tracked mice injected with a kind of human stem cells called neurospheres. They are the laboratory-grown progeny of human cells retrieved from the brains of 16- to 18-week aborted fetuses.

Nine days after getting identical spinal cord injuries, each animal received about 75,000 neurospheres in four injections around the injury.

Within a day, the team reported, the cells began to migrate into the injured spinal cord. After 16 weeks, the mice were given tests of agility and leg coordination, and compared with two other groups. Mice that had received the stem cells scored significantly better than similarly injured mice that had not -- and also better than those injected with ordinary skin cells, a test to see whether just any kind of cellular injection might trigger healing. Researchers who scored the tests did not know which mice had received the injections.

Full story here.

Twelve Step Program for Bush Cultists

1. Scrape the 'W04' sticker off your car and burn the bits
2. Admit that you allowed yourself to be fooled by your fears
3. Accept that there never were WMDs in Iraq
4. Accept that you have been lied to
5. Allow yourself to feel anger at having been lied to; anger is appropriate
6. Accept responsibility for putting our national way of life in peril by voting for Bush
7. Accept that those who disagree with you are as good Americans as you are
8. Admit that you purposely ignored information that might have conflicted with your world view
9. Admit that an independent, skeptical press is crucial to freedom and democracy
10. Accept that it is your duty as an adult and an American to question authority
11. Agree to getting your information from many sources, even non-US sources
12. Realize that freedom comes with the responsibility to remain vigilant to attempts to curtail it

Now in mugs and tees:

Lip service

... and not in a good way.

Lest any of you be fooled by politicians currently giving lip service to a renewed interest in fighting poverty, today's NYT has this:

President Bush's vow to speed welfare assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina overlooks the gruesome determination of many Republican Congressional leaders to make $13 billion in cuts for Medicaid and food stamps. They quietly plan this even as they throw short-term emergency money at the crisis.

Sustaining their health and income is vital to the storm's impoverished survivors now and well into the future. But the most basic cuts in antipoverty programs are planned for enactment later this month by the same Republican majorities that approved the president's upper-bracket tax cuts and created deficits for a generation to come.

Congress's budget hawks are clearly hoping that the cacophony of sympathetic speechifying about the storm victims will distract the public from these cuts and from the fact that they will land heavily on the three states most devastated by the hurricane, where roughly one out of three children were already dependent on Medicaid.

Too back the rest of the NYT Editorial page is now behind the Pay-Per-View wall.

Yeah, it's sad

... for all of us. Her Blondness:

Bush has finally, officially, lost. He lost because his opponent this time was immune to slander. There were no votes to be manipulated. He lost because this time he had not a single hint of terrorism to link to patriotism. Terrorism and patriotism have been his cloak and shield for the last five years but this time his opponent, Katrina, blew away bush’s cover. Finally some are seeing him for what he really is, the one who lost.

Even Karl Rove couldn’t come up with a scheme to attach this disaster to terrorism, and it’s damned difficult to assassinate the character or family of a hurricane. How do you weaken the strength and power of something like this? Ha! You don’t. You can’t. This is not Rove’s field of expertise. Nature has outwitted the entire administration.


Now there he stands, a man who is exposed in all his ugly ways. He may not have feelings for others, but we must wonder how he feels about himself. He is a man who has failed his country in just about every way possible. He is an outcast in the world. He mumbles and stumbles for all to see but his fans are not buying tickets to his performances any more. His time as a star has passed and the lights are going out.

Read the whole thing.

A Modest Proposal?

WTF, over. EPA to allow testing pesticides on 'abused and neglected' children?

I guess the thinking here is that since there's no adults who care what happens to them, they might as well be of some use to society.

Shades of Jonathan Swift.

Monday, September 19, 2005

He's a star!

Video of cubby's exam

Culture Corner

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
From The Second Coming, WB Yeats.

"The best lack all convictions, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity." Dang.

Clearly Separated at Birth

Expanding on my note below, and noticing the considerable similarity in the resumes of General Groves and Karl Rove, I offer the following chart:

General Leslie Groves

'Gentleman' Karl Rove, in characteristic pose
  • Attended U Washington and MIT, graduate of West Point
  • commissioned to Army Corp of Engineers
  • Completes construction of Pentagon, world's largest office building, during time of war (1941-1943).
  • Put in charge of Manhattan project, which eventually grew to employ over 130,000 people and cost over 2B 1940s dollars (about 20B in today's dollars).
  • College dropout from U. Utah
  • protege of Don Segretti (Watergate CoConspirator)
  • Fired from GHWBush's presidential bid for leaking false, negative info - smears other political opponents (McCain, Cleland, others too numerous to list) without consequence
  • As GWB chief-of-staff, is smearer-in-chief of all who cross the Boy King. Victims also too numerous to list, but include Paul o'Neil, Richard Clarke, and Joe Wilson. To accomplish the latter, he outs Wilson's wife, covert CIA employee.
  • Given lead role in post-Katrina 'Reconstruction', with a potential cost of $200B, lasting over several years.

Our journey toward the dark side is now complete

How weird is this? We need a General Groves to put in charge of the massive rebuild of the South (sorry, but I just can't call it a 'reconstruction'), and they send us Karl Rove. And Howie Kurtz and ABC News can't tell the difference.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


My Number One Boyfriend speaks! (Sorry, Anderson.)

Former US president Bill Clinton sharply criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.


"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."

And how sad is it, that of all the Dems in the nation, we have to go to the one who can't be elected to anything again (well, unless he wants to run for Senate, I guess) to criticize the Boy King? Where are the party 'leaders'?? Come on, guys - he's UNPOPULAR at last! It's okay. (Wienies.)

They just can't help it...

'Cause they don't KNOW any honest companies, is why.

Gas prices

Seen at an Exxon on Market Street in Leesburg - $2.63

So. Was the 3+ prices post-katrina just Getting While the Getting is Good?

Double Standard


Two days later, President George W. Bush met with Blanco on Air Force One and asked her for control of the troops that were finally pouring into the state. Blanco asked if Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would be under the same regime. The answer was "No."
Now, sugar, don't you worry your pretty little head about a THANG, you hear? Us big ol' strong men will take care of everything. You just go on back into the house and put your feet up.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Something for Katrina survivors to look forward to

The WashPost has an article today about a FEMA trailer park that houses people made homeless by Hurricane Charley last year. The Katrina-dispossessed should take heed:

"You almost hate to say this because of the difficulties so many people have had, but Charley tore down some buildings that needed to come down and cleared areas for much higher kinds of uses," said City Manager Howard Kunik.


"That land was just too valuable to have poor people on it," said community leader Isaac Thomas. He said that the local government is trying to help him and other black leaders save some of the modest but historic homes in the African-American East End, but that "it's a really uphill fight."

Don't expect to be allowed to go home again.

Still Tone Deaf after All These Years

I'm thinking it's the Aspergers' Administration - not a clue how the words they use could possibly be interpreted. Consider:

First they want to call a war against an Arab people a Crusade. They got talked out of that, but you think those in the Middle East forgot?

Then they choose to 'defend' us with a Department of Homeland Security. I understand this was their second choice; 'wiser' heads prevailed over Department of Fatherland Security.

Now they're calling the 200 BILLION dollar Great Crony Give-away in the South of the US a 'Reconstruction'. What are they thinking?

Yes, I know that literally they are talking about reconstructing things that have been blown down and/or washed away. But the South is still seething over the last time a bunch of Yankees came down and 'reconstructed' them.

And Karl Rove as Carpetbagger-in-Chief? What is wrong with this picture?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush calls women 'bitches'

Posted without comment (because, really, what needs to be said?):

The FDA had an opening to fill in the Office of Women's Health because its last director, Susan Wood, quit in protest over the agency's dithering and delays on the morning-after pill. Wood's acting replacement is Norris Alderson. Alderson has a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry from the University of Tennessee and graduate degrees from the University of Kentucky. He has worked at the FDA for more than 30 years, more than 20 of which he spent in the agency's Bureau of Veterinary Medicine.

LINK (free if you watch an ad)

Friday Cubby Blogging

Too Cute:

Mei's such a good mom.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


In yet another sign that you can't trust the administration to dress themselves properly, Bush appeared tonight with his shirt buttoned askew.

Do you suppose it was a calculated ploy? Like the rolled up sleeves are supposed to make us think he'd been toting sandbags to the levees?

Comments: (transcript here)

"Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment: tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again."

Well, it's nice to see that he's not explicitly excluding minorities. One would think that 'small businesses' would imply ALL small businesses, but I guess when you're in the South, you have to spell these things out.

"Some of that money is going to governors, to be used for immediate needs within their states. A portion will also be sent to local houses of worship to help reimburse them for the expense of helping others."

Um. Excuse me? If you reimburse people for their acts of charity, they lose all their charitable brownie points and can't get heaven-credit for them. But even worse, paying back someone's act of charity, as any true southerner could tell you, is just tacky...

Incredible yet apparently true

The White House is putting Spinmeister and Smear Artist Karl Rove in charge of Katrina Reconstruction.

I think Americablog's Joe in DC speaks for us all when he cries: "What the hell are Karl Rove's qualifications to rebuild a significant part of America? For Christ sakes, didn't they learn anything about putting political hacks in charge of life and death matters?"

Clearly, no. They don't learn. Think back - have they ever?

A WHOOOOLE lot of explaining to do

This from Bob Herbert in today's NYT:

The patients and staff at Methodist could have been evacuated before Hurricane Katrina hit. But instead they were condemned to several days of fear and agony by bad decision-making in Louisiana and the chaotic ineptitude of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some of the patients died.

Incredibly, when the out-of-state corporate owners of the hospital responded to the flooding by sending emergency relief supplies, they were confiscated at the airport by FEMA and sent elsewhere.

When private sources send things to a specific recipient, is FEMA authorized to confiscate it? I mean, if the Ritz was air-lifting Perrier to stranded travellers because all they was Walmart-brand bottled water, I could see making the case that it was more important to get water to people who had none. But who needs emergency supplies more than an abandoned hospital??

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Anti-9/11

Well, I'm not the first person to have called the Katrina disaster the antithesis of 9/11 and I suspect I won't be the last. But things that are coming out now are making the anti-parallels even more striking than when the phrase was first coined.

9/11 was a day when all Americans were brought together and the sentiments were universally shared. The events of the day brought out the best in everyone, and heroes were so common as to become almost routine.

Fast forward almost four years to August 29, 2005, and what do you find? Oh, you will certainly be able to locate and identify a plethora of heroes and heroic actions out of the storm, but Katrina made visible some very ugly truths about America.

That people were poor didn't surprise me. That people were still pretty racist in the South was sad but not that big a surprise either. But that they can put a higher value on property than lives does, I admit, surprise me.

Here's Gretna PD chief Lawson explaining why they blocked the bridge and refused to allow people trapped in New Orleans from walking across into his turf, and coincidentally higher ground and leaving the chaos that was New Orleans behind... Keep in mind that he knew in advance he was going to be asked about this so this is his prepared and practiced response:

We had no preparations. You know, we're a small city on the west bank of the river. We had people being told to come over here, that we were going to have buses, we were going to have food, we were going to have water, and we were going to have shelter. And we had none. Our people had left. Our city was locked down and secured, for the sake of the citizens that left their valuables here to be protected by us. - [emphasis mine]
Empty city. No food, no water. Okay, but the people wanting to leave N.O. already have no food or water so they're hardly going to be worse off. But it's the valuables of the citizenry, you see, that's more important to him than the people who want to escape from the lawless hell-hole that four days of no intervention created.

One of the regulars on Kevin Drum's comments often quotes this excerpt from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn at moments like this (and I'd credit him only I can't find an example right now):

"It warn't the grounding--that didn't keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head."

"Good gracious! anybody hurt?"

"No'm. Killed a nigger."

"Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.

Let's just say that this is an attitude I'm really sad to note has apparently survived. Quoting My New Boyfriend (MNB) again, checking back to the Mother Ship's Anchor, Anderson Cooper says: "To me, you know, it's not frustration. It's not that people are frustrated. It's that people are dying. I mean there are people dying. They're drowning to death and they drown in their living rooms and their bodies are rotting where they drowned and there are corpses in the street being eaten by rats and this is the United States of America." - [emphasis mine]

See, that's the deal. If you see it on the news in Rwanda or Somalia, it's horrible and sad and Something Must Be Done, but when you see it on the news inside the USA, it's unbelievable.

And there were people, AMERICAN people, actively making it worse than it had to be.

Helpless elderly people drown in their nursing homes and babies died of dehydration for want of the ability to drop supplies into a city that news crews could get to and aid supplies could not.

And this, I think, is going to be the defining 'legacy' of Bush's tenure. It's also a great illustration of the old Zen proverb*, "That which is created by fear will be destroyed by anger."

*... that I just made up...

heh II

There's a first time for everything. I call this Atriotic posting - a phrase, a link.


Touching Photo Ops

Every now and then she nails it

MoDo on George's accountability moment: " The president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn moment. It's too late."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Must Read

The New York Magazine has a lengthy profile of my new boyfriend Anderson Cooper. Siiiiiigh...

From denial

From Bob Herbert's column in yesterday's NYT:

Packed with hot and filthy evacuees (and crates of rapidly souring milk), the truck crossed a bridge from New Orleans to Jefferson Parish, where the desperate occupants were promptly and grotesquely humiliated by several heavily armed plainclothes officers.

There were dozens of men, women and children in the truck when it was stopped. They were hungry, thirsty and frightened. It should have been obvious to any sentient being that they were fleeing the flood. Nevertheless, said Nicole, they were ordered out of the truck at gunpoint, with their hands up. One young man was thrown to the ground. The others were ordered to get on the ground, face down.

The occupants of the milk truck were black, and they were in dire need of assistance. But in the midst of one of the greatest emergencies in the nation's history, the opportunity to gratuitously humiliate them proved irresistible.

"They laid us out on the ground," said JoAnn. Her voice quivered and tears began to leak down her face. "I was pleading. I was saying, 'Sir, please - - ' And then we all went to praying. Crying and praying.' "

"We were all praying," said Nicole, "because we were afraid, the way they were acting, that they would shoot us."

Eventually, the officers let the group go. No one was charged with any crime. "They even helped us start the milk truck," Nicole said. "The last thing they told us was, 'Y'all get on out of here. And don't come back.' "

Kevin Drum points to this Pew Poll:
In addition, blacks and whites draw very different lessons from the tragedy. Seven-in-ten blacks (71%) say the disaster shows that racial inequality remains a major problem in the country; a majority of whites (56%) say this was not a particularly important lesson of the disaster. More striking, there is widespread agreement among blacks that the government's response to the crisis would have been faster if most of the storm's victims had been white; fully two-thirds of African Americans express that view. Whites, by an even wider margin (77%-17%), feel this would not have made a difference in the government's response.
I would like to hook the 77 percent of whites who say race made no difference to a polygraph; I'd like to be able to figure out how many of them just aren't paying attention, how many are holding their hands over their ears and yelling "la-la-la, I can't HEAR you.. OH SAY CAN YOU SEEEEEE" and how many of them know damn well that race was a major factor but will never admit it in a million years.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sometimes the comments are the best part

Kevin Drum highlights part of the Time magazine article to point out this para:

The day the storm hit, she asked President Bush for "everything you've got." But almost nothing arrived, and she couldn't wait any longer. So she called the White House and demanded to speak to the President. George Bush could not be located, two Louisiana officials told Time, so she asked for chief of staff Andrew Card, who was also unavailable. Finally, after being passed to another office or two, she left a message with DHS adviser Frances Frago Townsend. She waited hours but had to make another call herself before she finally got Bush on the line. "Help is on the way," he told her.
Kevin trenchantly asks: She had to leave a message?

Stefan replies, in comments:

Thank you for calling FEMA! If you would like to continue in English, please press one now. Para continuar en Espanol, presione por favor el numero uno.

Thank you. If you know the name of the natural disaster you are reporting, please press one.

Thank you. Using the keypad of your touch-tone phone, please spell out the first three letters of the natural disaster now.

You have selected...flooding! Is this the only natural disaster you would like to report? If not, please press two now.

Thank you. Using the keypad of your touch-tone phone, please spell the first three letters of the natural diaster now.

You have selected...starvation and dehydration on a massive scale! Is this the only natural disaster you would like to report? If not, please press two now.

Thank you. Using the keypad of your touch-tone phone, please spell the first three letters of the natural diaster now.

You have selected...civil unrest! Is this the only natural disaster you would like to report? If not, please press two now....

Culture Corner

For the past coupla weeks, I've been haunted by the music from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, notably, "We don't need another hero" by Tina Turner. I figured out why when I looked up the lyrics:

Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children
The last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

Earlier today, someone on one of Kevin Drum's comment threads (hey, you look it up) started quoting Kipling - "then you will be a man, my son", gag. And I had to respond with Blake:
Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land, -
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!
(from Songs of Experience: Holy Thursday)

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
(from Songs of Experience: London)

More Blake here.

When flaks rule

Here's what happens when you put PR flunkies and 'advance men' in charge of emergency management:

On Aug. 29, when Katrina hit, Richardson, the New Mexico governor, telephoned Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and asked if there was anything his state could provide.

"She said, 'We need truck drivers and National Guard,' " Richardson recalled. He told her, "I'll get moving on it."

Richardson said he immediately authorized his Guard commander to send 200 troops to Louisiana. Then "red tape and paperwork" intervened, Richardson said. Instead of hours, it took four days.

"My National Guard commander … tried to get approval from the Guard bureau in Washington, and it wasn't until Thursday night that he got it," he said. "They kept saying they needed a definition of the mission in their orders. I said how about, 'Helping people.' I kept bumping into my National Guard commander and he kept saying, 'No, they haven't left yet.' "

From the LATimes - read the whole story.

Funny because it's true

Blah3 has this transcript of Bill Mahler's monologue. He starts by suggesting a 'California-style recall election', then goes on:

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. Listen to your mom: the cupboard’s bare, the credit card’s maxed out, and no one’s speaking to you…mission accomplished! Now it’s time for you 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 try on the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?


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.”

Regular readers will know I'm fond of saying that 9/11/01 was the luckiest day of George Bush's hapless, worthless life. I keep hoping his luck will run out before ours does... Oops, too late.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Heh. This is cute. Nicholas Kristoff has an editorial in today's NYT called 'The Storm Next Time'. The blurb on the main opinion page to lure you to click the link says: "Now that we've all seen what a Katrina can do, President Bush should tackle global warming."

Step One: Admit global warming exists.

Optimism... cute, but pointless...

Annoy a conservative

New designs in our expanding "annoy a conservative" line of products:

Bumperstickers, buttons, tees.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Press retrieves balls from storage?

From Josh Marshall:

CNN files lawsuit against government agencies seeking to bar press coverage of victim retrieval process.
They want the press out of there so they can use the backhoe. It's way more efficient but you know those whiny liberals would raise cain if they saw it, so...

Dead on.

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.


What's the difference between Dubya and Saddam? Dubya's dumber. Oh, and he does have WMDs.

Ignoring the Elephant

The media, by pretending that any disagreement with the administration is just 'politics', continues to ignore the ENORMOUS elephant sitting right in front of them.

Competence and intelligence matter. Competence and intelligence are not 'just matters of opinion' but of objective fact. They have mattered all along, and ignoring these two attributes has directly led to the mess the administration continues to make of every single thing it touches.

Look, I have major disagreements with the positions taken by Republicans on many important issues. But if they only pursued them competently and had the intelligence to understand the implications, they would at least earn my respect. These bozos are worthy only of scorn and condemnation.

It's only human nature that a stupid incompetent is not going to hire a bunch of smart, competent people to work for him. First, hiring intelligence, competent subordinates will make the leader look worse by comparison. Second, he's too stupid to recognize the attributes, except as something he lacks and thus fears and despises. So if you have a dumb incompetent person at the head of the pyramid, stupidity and incompetence are going to 'trickle down' until they infect the very people who get things done. The 'brain-drain' at FEMA that the media finally noticed is one very good example.

When is everyone going to stop shying away from admitting what ought to be finally obvious to even the terrorists? This administration is too stupid and incompetent to lead.

Penned in

Confirmation that sheriffs weren't allowing anyone to walk out of New Orleans:

In an interview with UPI, Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson confirmed that his department shut down the bridge to pedestrians: "If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."
So on one hand we have conservo-fascists blaming the victims for not evacuating the city, and now we have conservo-fascists applauding the people who made it impossible. And sadly, their heads don't explode.

Something for the CIA to cheer about

The most demoralizing job in the world used to be the GS-11 (read: powerless drone) CIA employee after 9/11.

The most demoralizing job in the world today is the GS-11 FEMA employee.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wow, what she said.

Here's What Gets Me

...My problem with Bush -- and here, I do indeed address Bush individually, as a guy -- is that during the time that the crisis was developing, from Monday to Friday, he never seemed to experience any actual sense of urgency as a result of the simple fact that people were, minute by minute and hour by hour, dying.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where's the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people?


Why is he even trying to shift blame to anyone else? Why isn't he wracked with such guilt, justified or not, that he can't stand up straight? How is it possible that late in the week, when it was so obvious that every safeguard meant to guard against just this kind of catastrophe had failed and he had failed every citizen of that city, he had the joviality to make jokes about his partying days in New Orleans? I'm not talking here about appropriateness or sensitivity, although both were obviously lacking, and there's been no apology for that, either. I'm wondering how it's possible that he felt that way. How was he not tormented? Because he wasn't. You can see that he wasn't. I would feel better if there were some report that he seemed, at some point... shaken. Upset. Angry. Desperate. Something. Something other than "on vacation" and then "lecturing emptily about how much help everyone's going to get, provided they haven't already died of dehydration, drowned, or committed suicide."


I want him to have been consumed with grief and sorrow at the dying that was ongoing, and he wasn't. I want him to have felt like a profound failure because an entire segment of the population of one of America's greatest cities was suffering and was at risk of starving to death, but he didn't. I want him to have been embarrassed when the FEMA director gave up the information that FEMA knew less about the convention center than CNN, but he wasn't. I want him not to have smirked his way through the entire experience, and he did.

No matter whose fault the slow relief effort was, the fact of the matter is that these are Americans, and this is their president, and the fact that they were homeless, starving, dying of thirst, and deprived of medication never once seemed to actually bother him.

Read the whole thing.

I wish I'd written this. Because it conveys my sentiments exactly - well, some of them (the incompetence and cronyism would not be justified if a more empathic president were in charge). It's the sociopathic 'who cares?' attitude that the Bush Cultists either can't see or actually admire that I find the most repulsive about the current adminstration.


Map of the counties that were declared in a state of emergency by Bush's declaration is here.

"Welcome to upside-down-land: the areas at risk for Katrina were quite remarkably the areas not included in Bush's declaration of emergency."

Weirdly, there's no rhyme or reason for the selection of counties (aka Parishes) - I had an evil thought that maybe only those that voted 'red' were included, but the author of this piece has already investigated and ruled that out.


WTF, over.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What they're trying to hide

I asked a rhetorical question below in "Time to Start Screaming", to wit: what are you trying to hide?

For what it's worth, I have a pretty good idea what they're trying to hide, and why.

First, they're trying to hide the number of people who survived the hurricane and flood and died of neglect (dehydration, lack of prescriptions, disease, violence) while waiting for help to arrive. In the coming days, look for the administration to try to keep a lid on the cause of dead of the upcoming horrendous bodycount.

Our press will not be doing their jobs if they accept raw numbers without a breakdown (killed in collapsed building, drowned in attic, drowned on streets, died on rooftop awaiting help, etc).

They're also trying to prevent us actually seeing what went down. Because words and images process differently. If you recall, the mere facts of what went on at Abu Ghraib had been in the news for months before the photos came out. But it was the photos, of American soldiers goofing over dead bodies and holding prisoners on leashes, that caused the opposition to the adminstration's nifty little war to get a new lease on life.

If photos of prisoners being debased can cause such negative fallout, what do you suppose photos of dead grannies and babies, who died after the flood but before help arrived, are going to do?


"They're barring the press from NOLA so they can get away with counting every dead body as 3/5 of a person, in accordance with the Framers' Original Intent."

Time to start screaming

Everyone's blogging about the efforts to bar the press from the NOLA rescue-cleanup. Josh Marshall perhaps says it best:

At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story.


...But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what really happened. And the right of FEMA or the federal government at all on American soil to issue such a ban seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties: the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. It's not a war zone. It's recovery from a natural disaster.


This is a domestic, natural disaster. Absent specific cases where members of the press would interfere or get in the way of some particular clean up operation or perhaps demolition work there is simply no reason why credentialed members of the press should not be able to cover everything that is happening in that city.

Remember, this is the gang that had no problem with 'embedding' reporters in combat units, the better to glorify their 'liberation' of Iraq. But the streets of an American city are off limits?

It's time to start screaming:


You remember the scenes after 9-11 of all the stockbrokers and Manhattanites -walking- across the NYC bridges to get away or get home? and how some of them walked ten+ miles in their businessy suits and little ladylike pumps and whatnot?

Well, reading the posted adventures below, I realize something. I'd kind of assumed that the people stuck in N.O. were physically isolated by water and all the bridges down. I knew news people were getting in but sort of figured some were trapped as well and that some were being ferried by boat.

Now it appears that the only thing preventing many people from walking away from New Orleans were men with guns guarding the bridge to Mississippi. What's the deal with that?

I know that they had to keep a route clear for aid, but it sounds like damned little aid was arriving, and surely one lane could have been set aside for pedestrians to leave the scene. If they had siphoned off as many of the able-bodied that were willing to walk out into Mississippi where they could be met and ferried by car or bus to other locations, the task of getting to the ill and elderly would have been significantly less onerous, and what supplies and water were available in the shelters might have gone around much more readily.

It's hard to avoid the implication that they were not allowed to leave because they were black.

The Freeway Camp

Remember the crowd of people who were camping out on the freeway waiting for help? Wonder how they got there and what happened to them before and since? Well, they finally check in with their story, and a horrific tale of indifference and abuse it is, too.

The authors tell of how they were trapped in a downtown hotel, and banded together with other hotel strandees. They pooled their resources to rent ten buses to come get them, at a cost of some $25,000, only to have their buses commandeered at the outskirts by the military. But that's not the worst of it:

The guard members told us we wouldn't be allowed into the Superdome, as the city's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. They further told us that the city's only other shelter--the convention center--was also descending into chaos and squalor, and that the police weren't allowing anyone else in.

Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only two shelters in the city, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that this was our problem--and no, they didn't have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement."


We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and constitute a highly visible embarrassment to city officials. The police told us that we couldn't stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp.

In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge to the south side of the Mississippi, where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city.


As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions.

As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us that there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans, and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for: if you are poor and Black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River, and you are not getting out of New Orleans.


OUR SMALL group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and, in the end, decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway--on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned that we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway, and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet-to-be-seen buses.


[how they find, or loot, some supplies of food and water and develop some shelter - read it]


From a woman with a battery-powered radio, we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the city. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway. The officials responded that they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking city) was accurate. Just as dusk set in, a sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces and screamed, "Get off the fucking freeway." A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

There's more, MUCH more at the link above - read it all. The authors, EMTs who were attending a conference in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane, end on this note:
Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.
It's time to ask if there was an official policy of neglect and containment in operation.