If you're reading this, I'd love your input on the disaster down south. You lived there, right?
A very strange Times graf
Mr. Carroll, who collects chav products like jewelry, cars and tattoos, has also experienced the underside of famous chavdom, with friends denouncing him publicly. His now ex-girlfriend told The Sun that Mr. Carroll believed that "the trees in his front garden are actually people disguised as trees," and spent his nights prowling around the house looking for intruders. "I'll tell him, 'Come back to bed, you stupid twit,' " she told the newspaper.
You better read the whole thing
HOLY SHIT: BRIAN WILSON
Brian Wilson's hurricane fundraiser offer
Here's my challenge: For anyone who sends a donation of $100 or more, I will call you personally and answer a question you have, or just say hello. Also, Melinda and I will match the donation.
I want to talk to Brian Wilson!
1) The potential for "Kathy McGinty"
-esque abuse abounds.
2) What would you ask him? Hm.
MY FAVORITE AMAZON.COM REVIEWER
MONGOLIAN COW SOUR YOGURT SUPERGIRL
But, y'know, Michael Moore is fat. So.
And what about this
I have job crap to do today. Nothing until the late afternoon.
Use this as a non-obscene open thread.
BUSH IS INSANE
Perhaps literally. This
is a frightening read:
Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.
They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”
In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.
Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.
“There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently.
A year ago, this web site discovered the White House physician prescribed anti-depressants for Bush. The news came after revelations that the President’s wide mood swings led some administration staffers to doubt his sanity.
Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.
“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”
Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.
As a recovering alcoholic (sober 11 years, two months, nine days), I know all too well the symptoms that Dr. Frank describes and, after watching Bush for the past several years, I have to, unfortunately, agree with him.
Conversations over the last few weeks with longtime friends who work in the Bush White House confirm even more what Dr. Frank says and others have suggested.
The President of the United States is out of control. How long can the ship of state continue to sail with a madman at the helm?
After reading this, I
could use a little dab o' Maker's on a Friday.
Oh. Did I mention that El Smirko is back on the sauce?
[via Media Needle
CRAZY SHIT UP NORTH
What's up with this guy
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Ice-T is to produce David Hasselhoff's first hip-hop album.
The pair are neighbours in Los Angeles and are said to have struck up a close friendship.
Hasselhoff has had some success as a singer, releasing seven albums. He's also said to be very popular in Germany.
Ice-T, who was one of the first real hip-hop stars in the late 1980s, said: "The man is a legend. And we are going to show a whole new side of him."
The rapper is said to be convinced that the 51-year-old for Knight Rider and Baywatch actor can take on the biggest names in rap, reports The Sun.
Ice-T added: "He's gonna come out as Hassle The Hoff - I promise you. The Hoff will surprise people with his rap skills and humour."
Hassle the Hoff? It's too pathetic to be real.
I've been looking for a copy of a television program called "Under the Mountain" for at least six or seven years. It was broadcast on Nickelodeon in the early 80s as part of their pre-X-Files "Third Eye" series
."Under the Mountain"
was a program that originated out of New Zealand circa '82. And I've just finished watching the first episode via Bittorrent. Wavy VHS tracking problems and all (on the digital copy).
The internet age means that there is no nostalgia left that cannot be plumbed given proper diligence. I've alread reread my Susan Cooper
(brilliant, brilliant stuff) and my John Christopher
, described as "one of the earliest futuristic dystopian tales for children."
Now I just need a copy of the Westing Game
and to watch my predownloaded copy of the first two seasons of the Tomorrow People
(another overseas Nick import) and I might be set. For a little while.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Salto has turned two years old.
Send me some love
OPPOSE JOHN ROBERTS
I'm with Digby
[see signup below]
We cannot take chances and make guesses with fundamental human rights at stake.
I believe that a woman's right to choose gets to the very heart of what it means to be an autonomous, free human being. Control of one's own body is fundamental to individual liberty. If the church believes that abortion is morally wrong it should instruct its voluntary membership not to do it. Individuals must always be allowed to follow their own consciences. But there should be no legal coercion on such a personal matter.
The only issue the government could be called upon to arbitrate is if the fetus has an equal right to life as the woman in whose body it lives. But there is really no argument about that. There is almost nobody who believes that an abortion is wrong if the life of the woman is at stake. Indeed, the vast majority (80%+) of Americans believe that abortion should be available at least in cases of rape or incest, so it is clear that the "abortion is murder" argument is illegitimate. No one can believe that it is moral to murder a person because of the way he or she was conceived, or by whom.
Therefore, the right of the fetus is not the real issue --- the reasons a woman wants an abortion are the issue. This leads us to ask which particular circumstances are so difficult for a woman that she may be allowed to have an abortion. 80% or so of Americans think that rape or incest are such circumstances. But how about a failing, abusive marriage? A terminal illness? Five other children and no job? Being 43 years old and carrying a child with serious birth defects? Being a foolish 15 year old girl in love? Should we make exceptions for some of those? Any of them? Who decides? You? Me? John Roberts?
This isn't about murder and it isn't about the right of the fetus. It's clearly about controlling women's personal moral behavior. I don't think the government has any business doing that.
: Bloggers sign on to Culture Kitchen's superbly-written letter here
Today's fascinating entry
is "minced oath."
More on the naughty-word front.
figuring out (maybe) why the Brits say "bloody"
"For crying out loud"
I'M OSCAR DOT COM
“The Governor has decided on pancakes!” he barked, finally. “Jewford, are there pancakes at this buffet? Do you see any kind of pancakes anywhere?”
“Pancakes for the Governor! The Governor will have pancakes!” Little Jewford shouted, and promptly did nothing about it.
I would definitely vote for Kinky
See, Dad, swearing on the blog is no biggie. In fact, it's positively fucking Shakespearean.Rad Times article
on the naughty:
Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin's famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.Read it all
Young children will memorize the illicit inventory long before they can grasp its sense, said John McWhorter, a scholar of linguistics at the Manhattan Institute and the author of "The Power of Babel," and literary giants have always constructed their art on its spine.
"The Jacobean dramatist Ben Jonson peppered his plays with fackings and "peremptorie Asses," and Shakespeare could hardly quill a stanza without inserting profanities of the day like "zounds" or "sblood" - offensive contractions of "God's wounds" and "God's blood" - or some wondrous sexual pun.
The title "Much Ado About Nothing," Dr. McWhorter said, is a word play on "Much Ado About an O Thing," the O thing being a reference to female genitalia.
Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, "eat their own dung, and drink their own piss."
Get ready.This one is gonna knock yer socks off
Um, it looks like you've got to click on the "View Photos" link.
Today, let’s you and I acknowledge what’s really going on in this country. The truth is that this week, as a result of Katrina, many children languishing in shelters are getting vaccinations for the first time. Thousands of adults are seeing a doctor after going without a check-up for years. Illnesses lingering long before Katrina will be treated by a healthcare system that just weeks ago was indifferent, and will soon be indifferent again.
For the rest of the year this nation silently tolerates the injustice of 11 million children and over 30 million adults in desperate need of healthcare. We tolerate a chasm of race and class some would rather pretend does not exist. And ironically, right in the middle of this crisis the Administration quietly admitted that since they took office, six million of our fellow citizens have fallen into poverty. That’s over ten times the evacuated population of New Orleans. Their plight is no less tragic - no less worthy of our compassion and attention. We must demand something simple and humane: healthcare for all those in need - in all years at all times.
This is the real test of Katrina. Will we be satisfied to only do the immediate: care for the victims and rebuild the city? Or will we be inspired to tackle the incompetence that left us so unprepared, and the societal injustice that left so many of the least fortunate waiting and praying on those rooftops?
He's trying to make up for running a terrible campaign for President and succeeding admirably.
Just don't run again.
AVIAN INFLUENZA: WHAT TO DO NOW
The bird flu thing scares the shit out of me and it has for quite a while
. It doesn't help that the West Coast of the United States, where I live, is by far the most geographically proximate area of the States to current bird flu hotspots
. When you factor in the movement of people between East Asia and the West Coast, the conclusion that a pandemic would hit this part of the States first is hard to avoid.
The pandemic will happen, according to health experts. It is only a matter of time
Health experts and officials shook up a breakfast meeting in Washington this morning with more alarm over what they see is an inevitable avian influenza pandemic and public-health emergency. Also today, World Health Organization officials confirmed the first case of avian flu in a farmworker in the island nation of Indonesia. Known as avian flu because it infects primarily chickens and waterfowl, the officials fear that the virus will mutate and become a human disease. Because this strain has never circulated through the human population, people would have no innate immunity if they were infected. Officials compare the virus to the 1918 pandemic that hit one third of the population and killed between 1 and 5 percent of those infected. This strain, known as H5N1, could be at least that deadly and perhaps more so, especially for young and healthy people who would very likely die from an immune system reaction to the disease, as happened in 1918. Today, if the pandemic hit, the number of dead could be as high as 360 million worldwide.
"You can get rid of the 'if' because it's going to occur," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It may not occur this year, or next, he said, "but [the threat] is not going to go away." The disease has currently crossed over to humans in Asia, but only among people who have very close contact with chickens or who take care of the sick. It has killed at least 54 people in Asia but is not now communicable in the way that the more common and less lethal human influenza viruses are.
The WHO has declared that we are in Phase 3 of the six-part influenza pandemic scale
. This means:
Human infection(s) with a new subtype, but no human-to-human spread, or at most rare instances of spread to a close contact.
Phase 4 is more widespread human-to-human transmission in localized areas. Phase 5 is expanded human-to-human transmission, and if we get to that point I'd assume that a lot of people are going to panic. Let's not talk about Phase 6.
The US and other countries are stocking up on Tamiflu and Relenza
, virus inhibitors that could prevent you from contracting avian influenza or help get you through its effects. You apparently can get a prescription from your doctor. It sounds like a good investment to me. Hopefully you would never have to use it.
There some very sobering pandemic preparedness guides here
, including planning how one should stockpile food, water, and medicines.
Thinking about this now can't hurt you. Be aware that something is coming.
Personally, I'll probably try not to worry about all of this until we hit Phase 4. At that point, immediate Tamiflu acquisition will be my priority, then it's probably escape from the West Coast to the Midwest and see what happens.
[inspired by Sullivan
: Eek. Maybe the plan is to get Tamiflu before we get to Phase 4
The Edinburgh Evening News reports:
Panic-buying of flu drugs has broken out in New Zealand amid growing fears of a deadly global pandemic. Many pharmacies have waiting lists for anti-viral drug Tamiflu after bird flu hit parts of Asia.
This can only get worse.
MAMET ON POKER AND POLITICAL COURAGE
Mamet's op-eds are rare.
And this one
is especially good.
Please click on my blogroll links at right and visit those sites.
Thank you for your time.
JAPAN, KOIZUMI, AND THE POSTAL SERVICE
One particularly persistent Salto reader wants some information on the recent election in Japan and the preeminent political issue there: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's plan to privatize the Japanese state postal service.
So let's review, quickly:
1) Koizumi, who is quite popular, could not get his own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is in control of parliament, to go along with his plan to privatize the state postal service.
2) The state postal service is more than just a postal service; it is also the world's largest bank, controlling more than $3 trillion dollars in assets (the Japanese actually save money, unlike Americans).
3) Critics say that the state postal service uses its funding largesse to dole out patronage to supporters (the CSM called it
"old-style pork politics" and a "campaign war chest for politicians to win votes").
4) Others say
that privatization of the largest bank in Japan would only benefit the private-sector banks that are currently in competition with the postal service. The privatization can also be seen as a giveaway to the Japanese stock market. Read, for example, this
, from some pleased-with-himself market analyst:
Japan Post holds 350 trillion yen in deposits and insurance assets. That's $3.3 trillion, making it the largest financial organization in the world. Mr. Koizumi's idea, if realized, would inject all of that capital into the economy. The resulting growth would really light a fire under the stock market.
I'm no economist. But this sounds to me a lot like Bush's plans to inject Social Security money into the American stock market. The similarity becomes more apparent when you realize that the monies that the postal service holds are more than likely the retirement savings of millions of Japanese citizens.
Japan apparently has a problem with banks issuing bad loans. This reform may be a part of more sweeping financial reform, or it might be the
solution to the problem. I'm just too ignorant of the situation and of economics to really know.
THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION AND WHAT IT MEANS
5) Koizumi called a quick election after his "reform" plans failed. His party won a historically significant amount of seats (the second-highest amount of seats on record), seemingly giving him a mandate for his policies. See below, however.
6) The election may also signify more geopolitical assertiveness on the part of Japan. Koizumi has been viewed by some as aggressively nationalist (read about his trips to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine here
). The opposition Democratic Party (DP), on the other hand, ran on a seemingly cautious platform
of "withdraw[ing] Japanese troops from Iraq and repair[ing] relations with China and South Korea." This editorialist for the CSM
seems to believe that the electoral victory for "reform" in Japan may signify broader changes in Japan than mere postal service reform:
[Koizumi] staked his career on this reform and this election, seeing them as a test of whether Japan's conformist mura ishiki (village mentality) could give way to a spirit of self- reliance and global perspective, driven by a new-style nationalism. In other words, could Japan become - and be seen as - a "normal" nation, ready to stand up to a bullying China and able to easily deploy forces for peaceful purposes.
More on the geopolitical implications of Koizumi's win here
AN ASIDE: PR AND "THE ASSASSINS"
7) It is unclear to me how much of Koizumi's support was actually because of his policies
. It sounds as if there was an utterly masterful effort
on the part of Koizumi's faction of the LDP to run hot chicks
(dubbed "the assassins") against crusty old anti-reform LDP members and otherwise hep up the LDP. Seriously.
By replacing postal opponents with younger, mostly female candidates, Mr. Koizumi succeeded in changing the image of the Liberal Democratic Party, long associated with old men in dark suits. The strong results suggested that Mr. Koizumi had made his party more attractive to the same younger and urban voters who had handed the opposition Democratic Party victories in cities in previous elections.
There was record turnout with substantial numbers of previous nonvoters showing up at the polls. If you read nothing else, check out this double-excellent Washington Post article on the assassins.
Could someone with a subcription to The New Republic
email me this article
Addy at right.
Um, er, thanks.
ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE B. CLINTON
It has something to do with aliens.
I'm not (and never was) his biggest fan, y'know, but he was Spock multiplied by Picard to the Adama power compared to the douchebag we have now.
(That was indeed a gratuitous Battlestar Galactica
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CONVENTION CENTER
Must be read to be believed
The troops were never deployed to restore order and eventually withdrew, despite the pleas of the convention center's management. Louisiana Guard commanders said their units' mission was not to secure the facility, and soldiers on the scene feared inciting further bloodshed if they had intervened. "We didn't want another Kent State," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of the active-duty military forces responding to Katrina. "They weren't trained for crowd control."
"Everywhere I went, I saw people with guns in their hands," said Troy Harris, 18. "They were putting guns to people's heads."
"You declare martial law," said Jazz Washington, a community activist, "and to these gangsters that just means, 'We can kill you and keep on moving.' "
A gang broke into the locked alcohol storage areas and suddenly had 50 cases of hard liquor and 200 cases of beer. And before long, there were scenes of gangsters, drunk, groping after young girls -- and those scenes not far from the ones of women in corners, balled up, praying all frozen with a Hobson's choice: the gangsters, or the floodwaters.
"They took so much, they couldn't drink it all," said George Lancie, manager of the center's food-service company, who had been at Fore's side.
In the chaos, the youths hotwired anything that would move, including electric utility carts and forklifts. Tony Cash saw the forklifts being driven about in zigzags. "They were nearly running over people," he said. "I'm telling you, it was crazy."
Fore was at a loss as to how to quell the danger. He said he tried desperately to call local and state emergency authorities. But he never got through. And he looked and looked for the arrival of local police.
"You might see them drive by," he said. "Is that providing security?"
New Orleans police officials said they could not safeguard the center after Katrina left them short of officers, vehicles and a dependable communication system. And when their armory flooded, they were short of ammunition. Dozens of officers tried patrolling outside around the convention center, but, according to Lt. Melvin Howard, the crowds and darkness made it difficult and dangerous to work inside.
Police could not use flashlights without giving away their position and becoming possible targets, Howard said. Nor could they open fire, if confronted, without the risk of killing innocent people.
Troy Harris, 18, who had survived a gunshot to the stomach on the hard streets of New Orleans, thought he could handle himself anywhere in the city. The darkened convention center gravely tested his moxie. "They were robbing people in there. At gunpoint," he said. "Somebody robbed me of a hundred dollars."
A police officer tossed out a few bottles and drove off. It ignited a free for all. Doby himself looked on in horror as a man -- arguing over the water -- struck another man with a two-by-four. "That man, he was split" in the head, said Doby. "He was leaking. He just dropped, face first."
On Thursday, Cash left, taking her children and stealing a car that eventually got her to Baton Rouge. That same day, the New Orleans police made a dramatic entrance. Sgt. Hans Ganthier and 12 other New Orleans SWAT team members entered the center, M-4 commando rifles at the ready. Prayers had been answered -- only it was a rescue mission of a different purpose.
A Jefferson Parish police deputy had appealed to SWAT team Capt. Jeff Winn for help in bringing out his wife and a female relative from the center. "He knew they were there and was hearing nightmarish stories," said Ganthier, who declined to identify the officer for security reasons.
Winn approved the mission.
When the SWAT team entered at 11 a.m., the Jefferson Parish officer called out his wife's name. She heard him, and along with the relative rushed to his side. The SWAT team put the women in the middle of the team, then backed out the door.
Once it became clear that the SWAT team had come with the single goal of rescuing two white women, anger exploded.
"Racists!" one man cried out.
"Some people were upset we weren't rescuing them," said Ganthier. "It's hard to leave people behind like that, but we were aiding an officer."
By Tuesday night, a contingent of at least 250 Louisiana National Guard troops was hunkered down in Hall A, off Julia Street at the northern end of the building.
Instead, as the danger level grew, they felt they must first protect themselves.
"There was way too many of them and way too few of us," said Master Sgt. Chad Anderson, 37. "Since we couldn't help them, it was best to avoid them. They had a mob, crazy mentality."
Whenever the soldiers left the center on missions, they drove west on Julia Street and away from the throngs of people begging for food and water along Convention Center Boulevard. "When they saw the soldiers, they'd think, 'That's food,' " said Sgt. Karla Spillers, 26. "We didn't have any for them. We had to feed our own people."
Spillers said she felt pain at the knowledge that teenage girls were wandering around the center, alone, knowing they were possible prey.
"There were prisoners, mobsters, gangs" in there, she said.
Almost as soon as they arrived, Guard commanders became concerned enough about the safety of their troops that they ordered more weapons and ammunition. On Wednesday night, there was kicking and banging on the doors to Hall A, where the guardsmen were. "They were trying to break the doors and get us," said Anderson. "They knew we were there."
Maj. Keith Waddell, commander of the 769th Engineer Battalion, said his unit was never asked to quell the violence at the convention center. "The idea of helping with the convention center never came up," he said. "We were just preparing ourselves for the next mission."
Waddell said he believes that, if so ordered, the Louisiana Guard forces present would have been adequate to get the center under control.
"I feel confident we could have controlled it, with the numbers we had," Waddell said.
But senior commanders indicated they had ruled out that possibility. Col. Stephen C. Dabadie, chief of staff of the Louisiana National Guard, said the engineer units were "not designed to secure the convention center."
Early Thursday, the Guard troops packed up and rolled out amid angry calls from the crowd inside. Twenty-four hours elapsed before more troops arrived -- including a contingent of the Arkansas National Guard, imposing enough so that no one tried to bother them.
Many of the guardsmen had recently returned from Iraq, and they arrived wearing helmets and full body armor, and shouldering rifles. To their surprise, they encountered virtually no violence -- only a crowd of hot, frustrated, angry people desperate for food and water. "A lot of them said we should have been there earlier," said Spec. Keithean Heath of the Arkansas Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade.
"We didn't want another Kent State
You're shitting me, right? You're not seriously analogizing peaceful and unarmed protestors on a college campus
with armed gangs raping, robbing and looting in a disaster area, are you? Because that's retarded
. What a pathetic, insulting cop-out.
The other thing? Not enough National Guard. Not enough National Guard. Not enough National Guard.
Where the fuck were they? The chaos and rapes and looting and robberies and fear and suffering might have been averted if we hadn't engaged in a war of choice with Iraq. Opportunity costs. It's not a tough concept.
YO HARRY REID
Or, How Should Senate Democrats Vote?
In twenty-odd hours of intense questioning, John Roberts has said nothing
that would disqualify Democrats from voting for him. Nothing. Conversely, in that time, Roberts said similarly little that would give winger conservatives confidence that he would be a ideological soulmate to Scalia and Thomas, their heroes. In fact, Roberts sounded
like he would be a true moderate -- to the left of the now-deceased (and eternally racist) Chief Justice Rehnquist.
Roberts will be confirmed. Democratic votes (after Roberts leaves the Judiciary Committee) should be
carefully calibrated solely to exert maximum political pressure on the White House for the next
pick, which Dems are seriously worried about. Here are the options:
If Roberts flies through with ten or fifteen
Democratic nays, would that encourage Bush to pick someone similarly moderate(-seeming)? If this happened, would Democrats be seen as "more reasonable" if they were forced to fiercely oppose the next nominee -- or even threaten a filibuster? Could the perception of Dem cooperation on Roberts hurt the Republicans if they tried to use the nuclear option to overcome a Dem filibuster on the next nominee?
If Roberts lumbers through with thirty or forty
Democratic nays, would that pressure Bush to make his next pick someone who is may also be clearly a "regular" conservative instead of a nutcase? Might it make the possibility of a nutcase-caused filibuster more apparent to the White House if the Dems could put up, say 41 votes in opposition?
OPEN QUESTIONS:*Does Bush's political weakness at the present time make him more susceptible to direct pressure, i.e., the latter option?
Do the Senate Dems have their shit together enough to employ a unified strategy to influence the White House on their next pick?
Do the Dems deploy the word "filibuster" in Roberts' floor debate to prepare the American people and the media for that future possibility?
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Watch
to see the number of Dems voting against Roberts after he leaves the Senate Committee. Look
to see if Harry Reid is visibly coordinating a Democratic strategy. Cross your fingers
that the Dems have their shit together. Listen carefully
to the Senate floor debate: Are Dems growing a spine and using the word
filibuster, saying that they won't do it to this
candidate, prefamiliarizing the media to that word, preparing for what might come?
*ANSWERS: Yes. Probably not. Probably not.
Doing some self-maintenance and errands today. Very light posting.
MORE ON THE DEBATE
It really is just great television. Or radio. Or whatever.
George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens clearly hate each other's guts. The crowd is completely rowdy. The insults are personal and fly fast and thick. And through all of that they're really having a very illuminating debate on Iraq, imperialism, and the state of American politics, with both speakers making excellent points on both sides.
You really must see it for yourself.
I THINK I MAY NEED A BATHROOM BREAK
GALLOWAY VS. HITCHENS
A live debate on Iraq and other stuff.
Starts, apparently, at 4pm on the West Coast.
Moderated by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
(on the right).MORE
: THE PRE-GAME
: See Hitchens bare his fangs and hiss here
Galloway's preferred style is that of vulgar ad hominem insult, usually uttered while a rather gaunt crew of minders stands around him. I have a thick skin and a broad back and no bodyguards. He says that I am an ex-Trotskyist (true), a "popinjay" (true enough, since its original Webster's definition means a target for arrows and shots), and that I cannot hold a drink (here I must protest). In a recent interview he made opprobrious remarks about the state of my midriff, which I will confess has—as P.G. Wodehouse himself once phrased it—"slipped down to the mezzanine floor." In reply I do not wish to stoop. Those of us who revere the vagina are committed to defend it against the very idea that it is a mouth or has teeth. Study the photographs of Galloway from Syrian state television, however, and you will see how unwise and incautious it is for such a hideous person to resort to personal remarks. Unkind nature, which could have made a perfectly good butt out of his face, has spoiled the whole effect by taking an asshole and studding it with ill-brushed fangs.
Galloway actually said that Hitchens' hands were trembling with the need for a drink, or some such. But Hitchens is artful
. Read it again.
Should be a fun listen...EVEN MORE
: Galloway hasn't spoken yet, but remind me never to debate Christopher Hitchens. Yow.STILL MORE
: THE DEBATE LIVEBLOG
: Remind me never to debate George Galloway either.
These two might come to fisticuffs.
It's Galloway's blustery Scots brogue versus Hitchens' smooth, exquisitely dextrous posh South London accent.
[You really have to hear this.]
Judge Roberts, did you ever disagree on a legal issue wit yo employa when you were a stiznaff attorney in tha Reagan Administrizzle?Here
It is just freezing
in San Francisco.
As a lawyer and a former debater and debate coach, I can tell you one thing about John Roberts' confirmation hearing:I don't know if I've heard such a public ass-kicking in a long time.
The guy is good
. Listening to Senators on both sides of the aisle bluster around with their case names and prepared research is like watching bulls break shit in a china shop. Roberts' answers are artful, concise, and utterly devoid of anything that could resemble controversy. His tone is respectful and calm and consistent.
There's no point in having Joe Biden (who, by the way, is one irritating dude) ask questions about thirty-year-old Court precedents or the penumbra of liberty rights granted by the 14th Amendment. Instead, he should be asking questions like this:Judge Roberts, have you ever known anyone who has had an abortion?
Judge Roberts, have you ever contributed money to a political campaign?
Judge Roberts, did you ever disagree on a legal issue with your employers when you were a staff attorney in the Reagan Administration?
Judge Roberts, what would your ideal America look like in twenty years?
Simple, broad questions to get the measure of a man. Pointed jargony obscure legal questions are just not going to work.
Speaking to reporters after touring New Orleans yesterday, Bush sought to dispel the view that race played a role in the government's response to the disaster. "When those Coast Guard choppers, many of who were first on the scene, were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin," Bush said. "They wanted to save lives."
Yeah dude. Doubtlessly true. I'm sure those guys weren't racist.
But the question is obviously: why did it take so long for everyone to get there?
Bush just sounds so clueless. There are certainly things he can say to counter the central charge. But I have the feeling he just has no idea what's going on.
And when is the first reporter going to ask him about why he appointed political crony hack fucks to FEMA?MORE
: Later in the article, another grand Bush quote
"It's really important that as we take a step back and learn lessons, that we are in a position to adequately answer the question: 'Are we prepared for major catastrophes?' " Bush said in New Orleans yesterday.
Are you kidding me?
I think we're in a "position to adequately answer the question," El Smirko. And the answer is: not while you're in office.
THE FRAT BOY FALLACY
That anyone can look at El Smirko Fisheyes and conclude that he's anything but a bully is quite a testament to the power of the Frat Boy Fallacy, otherwise known as the Jock Personality Handicap. Anyone who was bullied in high school or has even a passing familiarity with the fine teen cinema of the 80s knows what I'm talking about. The Frat Boy Fallacy is the collective lie that most of society agrees to believe in that there's something about being a spoiled white boy that makes you just a big bucket of charm, regardless of the evidence.
The Frat Boy Fallacy is well deconstructed in your average 80s teen movie, but I'll just walk you through the phenomenon nonetheless. It's a stellar way to understand the basic concept of privilege (race, sex, and class privilege) and how privilege makes itself invisible. You start with you weathy, entitled man and he is quickly surrounded by people who are willing to flatter him and fawn over him in exchange for access to the him and the privilege you get just by being in his inner circle. What then happens is that other people see that this guy has nothing but fawning admirers and they assume that there must be something there to attract all that fawning admiration and groupthink takes over. In this little narrative, liberals who kept pointing out how stupid the fakey admiration was--"But look, he can't even stop from smirking when talking to the parents of soliders he got killed!"--are playing the role of the nerds that get beat up all the time in no small part because they refuse to play along.
I'll admit, probably one of the absolute most irritating thing about reading media portrayals of Bush is how they lick his ass so thorougly when it's as clear as day that he doesn't possess a single trait that they fall all over themselves to declare he has--he's not funny, he's not spiritual, he doesn't like women, he's not really much besides an short-tempered, overly entitled ass. But oh no, people won't speak the truth because, well, his wife seems to like him and Colin Powell and John McCain begrudgingly kiss his ass and we can't go against the tide like that.
So this article cheers me immensely. Bush himself knows that the Frat Boy Fallacy requires 100% compliance or it crumbles, which is why of course the White House tyrannizes the press corp and makes it quite clear that anything less than fawning flattery means all access will be revoked. But conservative hand-wringing pundits are right--there's blood in the water now and the first cracks in Bush's careful image showed when he completely fell apart when he made a speech where he was required to fake someone who cares about the death of thousands and he failed miserably. I know it's a lot to hope, but the cracks in the press's compliance with the lie that Bush is a charming and decent human being might mean that things are fixing to fall apart and quickly.
It's depressing (but also newly hopeful) to note that Amanda is entirely right about El Smirko Fisheyes.
WHY DO THE FREEDOM MARCHERS HATE AMERICA?
More right-wing nonsense from the "Freedom March," which, I'll remind you, was a ginned-up monstrosity of jingoistic "patriotism" sponsored by the Pentagon. More on it here
. But anyway
One protester [of the march], Rik Silverman, 27, of Arlington said he was holding a sign that said, "Shame on You" when a marcher leaned over the railing and punched him in the stomach. A U.S. Park Police officer wrote a report but no arrests were made.
Remember, the other side is reeling
. It'll get ugly before it gets, um, less ugly.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Two weeks later, dead bodies litter the streets. And no one seems to give a shit. From First Draft
MALIK RAHIM: You could basically smell it from right here. You know, and the police, they pass by. They look at it and they ain't going to do nothing, you know, to pick it up.SHRILLNESS ALERT
AMY GOODMAN: Malik then walked us down the driveway next to the health center and lifted up a sheet of corrugated metal with an X revealing the dead body underneath.
MALIK RAHIM: Now, his body been here for almost two weeks. Two weeks tomorrow. All right. That this man's body been laying here. And there's no reason for it. Look where we at? I mean, it's not flooded. There's no reason for them to be, left that body right here like this. You mean, just totally disrespect. You know? I mean two weeks. Every day, we ask them about coming and picking it up. They refuse to come and pick it up. You can see, it's literally decomposing right here. Right out in the sun. Every day we sit up and we ask them about it. Because I mean, this is -- close as you can get to tropical climate in America. And they won't do anything about it.
AMY GOODMAN: Malik, do you know who this person is?
MALIK RAHIM: No. But regardless of who it is, I wouldn't care if it's Saddam Hussein or Bin Laden. Nobody deserves to be left here, and the kids pass by here and they are seeing it. The elderly, this is what is frightening a lot of people into leaving. We don't know if he's a victim of vigilantes or what. That's all we know is that his body had been allowed to remain out here for over two weeks.
SOLDIER: We're with 5015.
AMY GOODMAN: Which is?
SOLDIER: The cav.
AMY GOODMAN: Army?
SOLDIER: Regular army.
AMY GOODMAN: There's a dead body right here. Can you guys pick it up?
SOLDIER: You don't think we can pick it up, but we can call the local authorities to come pick it up.
AMY GOODMAN: This gentleman who lives in the neighborhood said that they have been trying to get -- here, let me ask these guys, too. Excuse me. Excuse me. Hi. There's a dead body right here. Can Louisiana State Troopers, can you pick it up?
LOUISIANA STATE TROOPER: You need to talk to the public information officer, Ma'am.
AMY GOODMAN: It's been here two weeks. We have filmed it last week, and gentleman over here said he has been trying to get it picked up for two weeks. Louisiana State Troopers, the Police, the Army, no one has responded. We're looking right over at it right there.
LOUISIANA STATE TROOPER: You need to talk to the public information officer and contact him at the troop.
AMY GOODMAN: Your name is?
LOUISIANA STATE TROOPER: You need to talk to the public information officer.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know about the body?
LOUISIANA STATE TROOPER: You need to talk to our public information officer.
AMY GOODMAN: Sir, do you know about the body over there.
LOUISIANA STATE TROOPER: Ma'am, you talk with the public information officer.
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: Our sector is this area here.
AMY GOODMAN: This is right in your sector?
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So that body is right in your sector?
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what should happen then?
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: Well, what I can do in my position is let -- notify my chain of command and leave it up to them to make those bigger decisions. It would be out of my hands. I'm just a lower level position.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you all contacted your higher-ups since this is your sector and this has been pointed out the last few weeks.
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: We will notify our chain of command now. That's my lieutenant right there.
AMY GOODMAN: Lieutenant there's this dead body over there. Would the army take it out?
NEW ORLEANS LIEUTENANT POLICE OFFICER: No. That's not really in our jurisdiction. We can't do any police work. So, that's not for us to handle we can only report it and hope that the cops take care of it, but we can't do anything.
AMY GOODMAN:Have you reported it?
NEW ORLEANS LIEUTENANT POLICE OFFICER: Yep.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think the cops are not moving it?
NEW ORLEANS LIEUTENANT POLICE OFFICER: I have no idea, ma'am. No idea.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Sir. You New Orleans Police?
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: Yes, ma'am. I can't talk, though.
AMY GOODMAN: We're just -- there's a dead body over here and we're wonder if the police would pick it up.
NEW ORLEANS POLICE OFFICER: I have no comment on that, Ma'am. You have to call one of the press guys. Sorry. Thank you.
It would be awfully shrill to suggest that authorities wouldn't leave dead white people
out to rot for two weeks.
UNMAKABLE-UP SHIT III
So incompetent crony fuck Michael Brown "resigned." Who is he replaced with?
The guy who recommended that everyone buy duct tape
To prevent against a chemical/bio terrorist attack.Unmakable-up shit.
WE JUST NEED ONE
Besides the moral and political question of Bush getting impeached, which seems a little unlikely with the House and Senate both in the hands of the enemy, there's the political question:
What should we be aiming to win next fall?
And the answer is:Either the House or the Senate.
And Mark Schmitt
gives one excellent reason for that:
Win back the House or Senate this fall, if only so that Democrats have subpoena power somewhere, something [the Republicans] can't tolerate.
There's also the matter of stopping the Bush Agenda of loot and pillage. That'd be nice. But we may actually get Bush impeached after 2006 if we have some committees with subpoena power.
Props to Steve Rundio
, writing, approximately, from my ancestral homeland:
There are two types of big government. There's big-government liberalism, in which the government administers broad-based entitlements (Social Security, Medicaid) and provides services collectively that individuals can't purchase on their own (police protection, roads, public parks, etc.). Has this vision suffered from excess and waste? Of course. But it has raised the standard of living for most Americans. The elderly can't buy affordable health insurance on the private market, and most individuals can't purchase their own personal police or fire protection. At the very least, big-government liberalism's heart is in the right place.
There's nothing good about big-government conservatism. It's an iron triangle of politicians, lobbyists and industry wallowing in the spoils of government contracting and favoritism linked to campaign contributions. The recipient of big-government liberalism is likely to be a 90-year-old who can't get out of bed, or a pregnant teen in need of pre-natal care. The recipient of big-government conservatism is a Halliburton executive or someone who lobbies on Halliburton's behalf. The owners of Lenco Industries certainly did well when the $180,000 Lenco BearCat assault vehicle landed in La Crosse.
Excellent stuff. More good old Wisconsin realism, please.
WHY DOES THE PENTAGON HATE AMERICA?
This is cute
Ann Grossman, 56, from Silver Spring, Md., also carried a homemade sign, which read "Honor Our Troops, Respect Their Lives," that was confiscated by police at the Pentagon.
Ann Grossman is obviously a terrorist-symp who needs to have her body cavities searched.
NOW HEAR THIS
The Legendary K.O.'s George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
Salto brings you the dopest jams.
[It's a biggish file.]
SNOWBALL APPARENTLY FOUND
HOW BUSH BLEW IT
Evan Thomas' article in Newsweek
is a must-read.
Here are the bullets:
- Bush is an asshole who yells at his people when he gets bad news.
No one wanted to tell him shit
. They had to have a meeting
to decide which one of them had to ask him to end his vacation early
- Bush doesn't watch TV. Or the news. And he doesn't read newspapers.
In fact, no one knows how he spends his time (except that he "watches an hour or two of ESPN here and there"). They had to try to make Bush watch a specially-made DVD
of broadcasts from New Orleans to convince him that shit was fucked up.
- Bush is surrounded by yes-men who don't know how to give him bad news.
Unlike every other President in the modern era (except for Nixon), who at least had one crusty old fucker around for that purpose (Cheney was on vacay, buying a $3 mil house at the time -- unavailable).
- The guy from FEMA who overflew the carnage couldn't convey the destruction to Washington.
They didn't believe him or couldn't understand.
- Bush got a call from the Governor of Louisiana asking for help but he was tired and went to bed.
- The next day, the Governor of Louisiana couldn't get Bush on the phone.
Then she did and asked for more help.
- Then Bush and Rumsfeld got hung up on using active-duty troops and some weird law and didn't do shit.
- FEMA was full of incompetent political crony hack fucks.
- Bush likes numbers, was delivered numbers about the aid effort, and therefore didn't know that it was actually a colossal fuckup.
- "As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." At this "confrontation," which involved complaints about the federal aid effort, Bush was too incompetent to actually solve problems. He just told the people around him to "fix it."
- "Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
Donald Rumsfeld must immediately resign. And
Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.
CHAOS AND CONFUSION
says that even D.C. is completely unprepared for an emergency of any kind
The U.S. Capitol and the White House have been fortified, police forces strengthened, high-tech security equipment purchased, vulnerable streets closed and checkpoints and barriers erected. In all, federal, state and local governments have spent more than $2 billion to protect the Washington area since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Despite these efforts, security officials in the region concede that they fear another major terrorist strike would result in the kind of chaos and confusion seen along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
Even those who helped spend the money envision gridlock on the Capital Beltway as residents flee after a truck bombing at the Capitol or a chemical attack on Metro. They see D.C. police, U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI, U.S. Park Police and the departments of Homeland Security and Defense scrambling to figure out who is in charge, strained hospitals overwhelmed with thousands of people in need of medical care and confused downtown workers from the District, Maryland and Virginia who don't know what to do.
On the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation's capital lacks a comprehensive way to tell people what to do in a state of emergency, especially a terrorist attack with no warning, according to law enforcement and Homeland Security officials involved in emergency preparations.
"What we lack is a coordinated public information system in the event of a major incident," said David Snyder, a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' homeland security task force. "What we need is a system that will function instantaneously and automatically every time. . . . That doesn't exist now."
Four years after 9/11 and nothing has been done.
Where has the money gone? Over 90 BILLION DOLLARS for the "Department of Homeland Security."
Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.
DON'T BELIEVE ME?
The Louisiana National Guard, already stretched by the deployment of more than 3,000 troops to Iraq, was hampered when its New Orleans barracks flooded. It lost 20 vehicles that could have carried soldiers through the watery streets and had to abandon much of its most advanced communications equipment, guard officials said.
Partly because of the shortage of troops, violence raged inside the New Orleans convention center, which interviews show was even worse than previously described. Police SWAT team members found themselves plunging into the darkness, guided by the muzzle flashes of thugs' handguns, said Capt. Jeffrey Winn.
"In 20 years as a cop, doing mostly tactical work, I have never seen anything like it," said Captain Winn. Three of his officers quit, he said, and another simply disappeared.
Officials said yesterday that 10 people died at the Superdome, and 24 died at the convention center site, although the causes were not clear. ...
While those entering the Superdome had been searched for weapons, there was no time to take similar precautions at the convention center, which took in a volatile mix of poor residents, well-to-do hotel guests and hospital workers and patients. Gunfire became so routine that large SWAT teams had to storm the place nearly every night.
Capt. Winn said armed groups of 15 to 25 men terrorized the others, stealing cash and jewelry. He said policemen patrolling the center told him that a number of women had been dragged off by groups of men and gang-raped - and that murders were occurring.
"We had a situation where the lambs were trapped with the lions," Mr. Compass said. "And we essentially had to become the lion tamers."
Capt. Winn said the armed groups even sealed the police out of two of the center's six halls, forcing the SWAT team to retake the territory.
But the police were at a disadvantage: they could not fire into the crowds in the dimly lit facility. So after they saw muzzle flashes, they would rush toward them, searching with flashlights for anyone with a gun.
Meanwhile, those nearby "would be running for their lives," Capt. Winn said. "Or they would lie down on the ground in the fetal position."
And when the SWAT team caught some of the culprits, there was not much it could do. The jails were also flooded, and no temporary holding cells had been set up yet. "We'd take them into another hall and hope they didn't make it back," Capt. Winn said.
One night, Capt. Winn said, the police department even came close to abandoning the convention halls - and giving up on the 15,000 there. He said a captain in charge of the regular police was preparing to evacuate the regular police officers by helicopter when 100 guardsmen rushed over to help restore order.
Before the last people were evacuated that Saturday, several bodies were dumped near a door, and two or three babies died of dehydration, emergency medics have said. State officials said yesterday that 24 people died either inside or just outside the convention center.
The whole article is a must-read
The failure of government entities in the last weeks eclipses 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the assassination of a President in terms of seriousness. The only thing that is comparable is the threat that we faced in the first two World Wars.MORE
: Don't believe me?
Hurricane Katrina has produced a diaspora of historic proportions. Not since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's or the end of the Civil War in the 1860's have so many Americans been on the move from a single event. Federal officials who are guiding the evacuation say 400,000 to upwards of one million people have been displaced from ruined homes, mainly in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
Read that article
THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION
The various government entities responsible for protecting the citizens of the United States failed -- completely -- in the face of a predictable natural disaster with three days' lead time.What happens if there's another incident?
An earthquake; a volcanic eruption; another Cat 4 or 5 hurricane; a pandemic, like, for example, a mutated strain of avian influenza easily passed human-to-human; a dirty bomb detonated in a major metropolis; an attack on a nuclear or chemical facility; an attack on critical infrastructure (such as dams, electrical generation facilities, metropolitan water sources, oil refineries); a suitcase nuke.
This country is one more incident away from crumbling. The anarchy that overtook parts of the Gulf Coast as law and order vanished and life's fundamentals became scarce could easily happen again.
But if faith in the system is undermined seriously, that anarchy could spread quickly to places not directly affected by the catastrophe of the moment. Trust in democratic institutions last only as long as you can be sure that you have something to eat and drink and that there aren't armed, lawless men looking to predate on the streets. Even the slightest flicker of doubt in our institutions and the situation changes drastically. Enter the Hobbesian world of man against man. Life? Nasty, brutal, and short. Unless you're strong and well-armed.
This is reality, not rhetoric. And coming to terms with the seriousness of the fragility of our situation demands one thing:
Impeach Bush. Impeach him now.
And replace him with competents from whatever party. Or none.
Now watch this Bill Maher clip
MORE GILLIARDY BRILLIANCE
And Dick Cheney, looking like he needs some people to torture, walked around the Gulf Coast and got cursed at by a doctor. Poor bastard was detained for sneering at his imperial majesty. It should be federal law that the Imperial March from Star Wars be played at all Vice Presidential events.
I really regret that more people don't read bloggy news on the weekends. Everyone's traffic goes down
. I know that's the deal, but it still bothers me when people miss something as good as this Steve Gilliard post
from late Friday night.
This is a fairly unique time for lefty political blogs, isn't it? The grand momentum shift? I just think it's gonna take daily reading until at least November or December.
Don't miss it, huh?
One piece of yummy serious intelligence
, from Mo Dowd in today's Times:
The breakdown in management and communications was so execrable that the president learned about the 25,000 desperate, trapped people at the New Orleans convention center not from Brownie, who didn't know himself, but from a wire story carried into the Oval Office by an aide on Thursday, 24 hours after the victims had been pleading and crying for help on every channel. (Maybe tomorrow the aide will come in with a wire story, "No W.M.D. in Iraq.")
Hm. What is interesting about that paragraph?
Could it be the level of specificity about how and when the President found out about the New Orleans Convention Center?
I luv her!
VIDEO WHERE I SHOUT "GO FU** YOURSELF" TO DICK CHENEY
[via Crooks & Liars
THE HUMAN SPIRIT LIVES ON
From the Times
, believe it or not:
With police officers and federal law enforcement agents ratcheting up the pressure on residents to leave, the holdouts worry that it is just a matter of time before they are forced out.
Ms. Harris said she did not want to leave. "I haven't even run out of weed yet," she said.
Atrios makes a funny
: WAIT, SERIOUSLY. It's a lot more fucked up than I thought. YOU MUST READ THIS
Fucking Brown is a liar
! And, apparently, completely and totally incompetent for every job he's had
: Yeah, that was it, wasn't it? He's out
. But the thing that triggered it wasn't his bungling and the resulting deaths and suffering. No way! This guy would have been hanging around for months
if it weren't for the LYING about his RESUME. What an excellent bunch of fellows we have running this country.
SEARCH ENGINE PRIDE
I'd like to thank the Academy
: All of the other blogs on that page are gonna get a link. Soon.
This is a pretty good post
that shouldn't be overlooked, he said modestly.
FAFBLOG (TRAGICOMIC THURSDAY II)
More importantly, one must recognize that there are limits to what powers the federal government should exercise in a crisis. Yes, it is the right and duty of the president to override state drug policy, to determine who can or cannot marry, to indefinitely detain citizens without due process and to torture and kill prisoners as he sees fit, but disaster relief is a matter that should be left to the states. Yes, the images of the drowned, the diseased, and the desperately dying drove much of the country to outrage, but how much more outraged would America have been if FEMA had fed the Superdome refugees without the full oversight and authorization of the State of Louisiana? Had the president sent rescue helicopters to evacuate New Orleans the day the levees burst, he might have saved thousands of lives, but he would also have overstepped his authority - and if there's one thing George W. Bush refuses to countenance, it is abuse of power.
: Read this
too. The diagram slayed me.
ON SALTO RULING
Usually-crappy Salto has totally ruled since all of this hurricane awfulness started, I know.
Listen, I'm underemployed. That's putting it generously. I don't want money, though. I want MORE HITS. Bookmark me, first. Then send out the link to your friends and relatives and coworkers. Won't you? Please? Hell, even link to me on your own crappy blog. Hits. Hits.
I just need people to hear me. Now.
The link is here
Thank you, gorgeouses.
CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER
You know shit's fucked up when Count Douchebagkula
starts piling on.
"Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney."
On live TV
From a bystander. To Cheney
Download and watch.
SHITTING IN THE STREETS
BUSH'S CULT OF PERSONALITY
He can't drop below 35% approval
Because those 35% are nuts
THE CORPSE ON UNION STREET
It's surreal that it's business as usual for the Republicans. It's just all spin.Meanwhile
NEW ORLEANS - In the downtown business district here, on a dry stretch of Union Street, past the Omni Bank automated teller machine, across from a parking garage offering "early bird" rates: a corpse. Its feet jut from a damp blue tarp. Its knees rise in rigor mortis.
Six National Guardsmen walked up to it on Tuesday afternoon and two blessed themselves with the sign of the cross. One soldier took a parting snapshot like some visiting conventioneer, and they walked away. New Orleans, September 2005.
Hours passed, the dusk of curfew crept, the body remained. A Louisiana state trooper around the corner knew all about it: murder victim, bludgeoned, one of several in that area. The police marked it with traffic cones maybe four days ago, he said, and then he joked that if you wanted to kill someone here, this was a good time.
Night came, then this morning, then noon, and another sun beat down on a dead son of the Crescent City.
That a corpse lies on Union Street may not shock; in the wake of last week's hurricane, there are surely hundreds, probably thousands. What is remarkable is that on a downtown street in a major American city, a corpse can decompose for days, like carrion, and that is acceptable.
Welcome to New Orleans in the post-apocalypse, half baked and half deluged: pestilent, eerie, unnaturally quiet.
Scraggly residents emerge from waterlogged wood to say strange things, and then return into the rot. Cars drive the wrong way on the Interstate and no one cares. Fires burn, dogs scavenge, and old signs from les bons temps have been replaced with hand-scrawled threats that looters will be shot dead.
The incomprehensible has become so routine here that it tends to lull you into acceptance. On Sunday, for example, several soldiers on Jefferson Highway had guns aimed at the heads of several prostrate men suspected of breaking into an electronics store.
A car pulled right up to this tense scene and the driver leaned out his window to ask a soldier a question: "Hey, how do you get to the interstate?"
AN ENTERTAINING PORTION OF WEDNESDAY'S WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING
Q Scott, does the President retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can --
Q What about the question?
MR. McCLELLAN: We're doing everything we can in support --
Q We know all that.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.
Q Does he retain complete confidence --
MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to continue. We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region. And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game or finger-pointing that you're trying to get me to engage.
Q Okay, but that's not at all what I was asking.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is. It's exactly what you're trying to play.
Q You have your same point you want to make about the blame game, which you've said enough now. I'm asking you a direct question, which you're dodging.
MR. McCLELLAN: No --
Q Does the President retain complete confidence in his Director of FEMA and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered the question.
Q Is the answer "yes" on both?
MR. McCLELLAN: And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing.
Q There's a lot of criticism. I'm just wondering if he still has confidence.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and blame-gaming. What we're trying to do is solve problems, David. And that's where we're going to keep our focus.
Q So you're not -- you won't answer that question directly?
MR. McCLELLAN: I did. I just did.
Q No, you didn't. Yes or no? Does he have complete confidence or doesn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, if you want to continue to engage in finger-pointing and blame-gaming, that's fine --
Q Scott, that's ridiculous. I'm not engaging in any of that.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's not ridiculous.
Q Don't try to accuse me of that. I'm asking you a direct question and you should answer it. Does he retain complete confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said -- that's exactly what you're engaging in.
Q I'm not engaging in anything. I'm asking you a question about what the President's views are --
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely -- absolutely --
Q -- under pretty substantial criticism of members of his administration. Okay? And you know that, and everybody watching knows that, as well.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, everybody watching this knows, David, that you're trying to engage in a blame game.
Q I'm trying to engage?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q I am trying to engage?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q That's a dodge. I have a follow-up question since you dodged that one. Does the White House feel like it missed opportunities to alleviate or head off some of the damage in the New Orleans area, flood damage? Did it miss an opportunity to head any of that off?
MR. McCLELLAN: In what way?
Q In responding to requests to make structural improvements, or other improvements to alleviate flood damage, and so forth?
MR. McCLELLAN: Maybe you ought to look at what General Strock said, because General Strock briefed on this the other day and he talked about the design issues relating to the levees and how that was a design issue. And he talked about that. And we provided, I think it was some $300 million in additional funding over the course of the administration for flood control in the Southeast Louisiana area. But General Strock talked about that and he talked about some of those issues. And any suggestion that it would have prevented something, that there could have been action that would have prevented something, I think he dismissed because of those reasons.
Q So if the President still has confidence in the FEMA Director, how is it that the FEMA Director is suddenly invisible? No briefings, nowhere out front, it's all gone to Secretary Chertoff.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he's going to brief later today. I think he's briefing later today.
Q Brown is?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. And, again, that's clearly now just an attempt to try to engage in this finger-pointing, and we're going to continue focusing on solving problems.
Q He's been the focus of an enormous amount of criticism. You know that, and yet, you choose not to respond.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just talked about how there are over 75 -- no, that's not true. There are over 75,000 people that are involved in all the response and recovery and law enforcement when it comes to Katrina. And we appreciate the efforts of everyone. We appreciate the efforts of Secretary Chertoff and Undersecretary Brown and all those at FEMA who continue to work round-the-clock to get things done and to identify problems and fix those problems.
: You know, as I read this over, I realize just how fucking offensive it is that McLellan calls it a "blame game." As if asking questions
, is a game
. Thousands of dead people and hundreds of thousands of suffering refugees and this motherfucker calls it a "game." It's just unbelievably crass.
I live in a particularly earthquake-prone area and I NEED SCOTT MCLELLAN TO TELL ME THAT THE GOVERNMENT FUCKED UP BEFORE BUT FIRED THOSE DIMWIT CRONIES AND HAS NOW GOT ITS SHIT TOGETHER so I don't go nuts and start planning escape routes and stocking up water and buying a handgun. Because my faith is shaken
He needs to start answering questions. The little routine that goes on where reporters try to ask real questions about the disaster -- and little Scotty tries to repeat the talking points (not like they're even actual
talking points, they're just fucking stupid two-word phrases
) -- it's just gotta end.
That era needs to be over.EVEN MORE
: The Times is so woefully bad
At a contentious press briefing on Wednesday, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, used the phrase "blame game" eight separate times as he tried to push back on criticism of the White House effort.
Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, struck a similar theme, saying: "Some people are really very anxious to start pointing fingers and playing the blame game. I think we need to get our work done."
"Struck a similar theme"? I mean, are you shitting me? I would think striking a similar theme might be more than repeating the same four words
. But then again, hey, I have high intellectual standards.
These four words? They are a pathetic
response to the questions. Pathetic
. The Republicans are reeling
. And they should be.
GOD BLESS THE ONION
Government Relief Workers Mosey In To Help
NEW ORLEANS - Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, leading a detachment of 7,500 relief workers, moseyed on down to New Orleans Monday afternoon. "Well, I do declare, it's my job to see if any of these poor folks need any old thing," Brown said from his command rocker on the command post porch, adding, "Mighty hot day, ain't it?" Follow-up teams of emergency relief workers are expected to begin ambling into the Gulf Coast region as early as this weekend. "They should be getting the trucks good and warmed up anytime now, and they'll be cruising into town just as soon as all the reservists stroll in," said Brown, who is currently at his desk awaiting offers of food, water, and evacuation buses to roll in from "somewhere or other."
Check out The Daily Show
on Katrina and the colossal fuckup
known as our federal government too. It's excellent
: Actually, the whole Daily Show
, in pieces. In some newfangly format.STILL MORE
: A dirty joke
Salto is one-stop shopping, yo.
HERE'S WHAT GETS ME
KATRINA TIMELINE + A NOTE ON JURY NULLIFICATION
This is one of those things
that you would like to have at hand to show the jury after you've just offed a government official."Jury nullification"
is when a jury is so pissed off by some factor in a criminal case that, even in the face of evidence, they find a compelling reason to bend or break the letter of the law to acquit the accused (or to find the accused guilty of a lesser crime).
You can't tell
the jury about this power, see
, United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113 (D.C. 1972), but they still can do it. If they're pissed off enough
This might do it for me.
NOTHING HAPPENED HERE PLEASE MOVE ON
FEMA says no pictures of dead bodies
: Apparently the media is banned
from NOLA too.
August 31, 2005
New Orleans, LAAugust 31, 2005Aboard Air Force One
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, just to update you on the flyover. He was -- you'll have the still photos that will go out from the stills that were up there, you'll have pictures of him. But he was sitting up in the -- on the left side of the plane, the front part there, where the Secret Service detail usually sits, and looking out at all the hurricane damage along the Gulf coast region.
He spent about 35 minutes there, in that seat. Some White House staff joined him different parts of it, from Karl Rove to J.D. Crouch, to myself. One of the Air Force pilots came down and was telling them where -- which cities and communities we were passing over.
It started with, as you all saw, with New Orleans. And we can see -- and the President was pointing out some of the different structures within the town, like the Superdome. You could see the skin of the roof peeled back from the storm. In different parts we saw some helicopters that I guess were involved in some of the search and rescue efforts off in the distance.
Then we saw a lot of the real devastation after we passed some of that downtown area. Even in the downtown area you could see the highways where they just disappeared into the water. And then we got into some of the neighborhoods that were really devastated, and you could see the water all the way up to the roofs. The President, when we were passing over that part of New Orleans, said, "It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." And he pointed out some of the neighborhoods that I just mentioned, and pointed out -- there's a shopping mall, I think it was, we were trying to figure out what it was, and we thought it was a shopping mall that was under a lot of water.
A fairly complete list (so far) here
[via Andrew Sullivan]
Three kids from Duke University stock their car with bottled water and drive to New Orleans late last week.
They pose as journalists and rescue seven
people in two separate trips.
In their two-wheel drive Hyundai
What the fuck?
: One of the kids sez:
"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."
As an aside, one great difference between the American public's experience of the Iraqi War and of the aftermath of Katrina shouldn't be overlooked. This time, our reporters weren't embedded with the troops, and so weren't experiencing mainly the administration's artificially-created version of reality. Instead, they made it to the distressed areas of the southeastern U.S. way ahead of the troops, remained in their absence, saw unreconstructed, unspun reality for themselves, and were generally outraged. So, for instance, when Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff made ridiculous claims about what the government had accomplished, reporters were able to say, emphatically, that his version was a lie and other Americans knew it was so, because they had seen it for themselves.
That's exactly right. No "embedding" the press with the army, controlling what they saw. No need to rely on far-from-the-scene press briefings with a bland spokesdrone. That's the difference. I hope it continues.MORE
: It's a superb essay. Read it all
[via Juan Cole]
So sad. CNN's Drew Griffin
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.
This is Bush's America.
NORTHCOM WAS WAITING
It appears, however, that Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, didn't get the memo. Asked why Northcom hadn't responded to Hurricane Katrina more quickly, he accidentally told the truth:
Northcom started planning before the storm even hit....We had the USS Bataan sailing almost behind the hurricane so once the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately. So, we had things ready.So why didn't the president issue the orders?
The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion; we have to wait for the president to give us permission.
Because, Kevin, the President was rocking out
Watch this chord!
ARE YOU COMING, SON
Force yourself to watch it
THE TRUTH IS JUST TOO BIG
More truth from Steve Gilliard
Say 9/11 changed everything now, motherfuckers. Ooops, 9/11, 9/11. 9/11. Doesn't work anymore? Gee, maybe the sea of alligator MRE's once known as the citizens of New Orleans has something to do with that. Now you can shut the fuck up about 9/11. Bush just proved what would happen with another 9/11. Dead Americans as far as the nose can smell.Read it all
Drunken Chris Hitchens muttered some nonsense about blacks having it so good here. The poor man needs to stay in his bottle or go to Betty Ford before someone beats his treasonous ass stupid. Islamofascism means what, now motherfucker? Shove Islamofascism up your well travelled ass. The most dangerous thing to average Americans is not some mullah in Iraq, not even Osama Bin Laden, but George Bush. If he doesn't get you killed in Iraq, he'll fuck up saving your city so it turns into Escape from New Orleans. Armed junkies roaming the streets, looking for a fix, robbing and looting like Serb paramilitaries and about as sober.
Katrina the aftermath is payback time for decades of stupidity, greed, pillage, racism. My thought is that the tempo towards catastrophe really picked up in the Reagan era. That's when the notion of this society being in some deep sense a collective effort, pointed towards universal human betterment the core of the old Enlightenment went onto the trash heap.
Once you stop believing in universal betterment, you stop investing in social defenses, like health care, or flood control. You build your shining condo on the hill, put a fence round it, and cancel the local bus service so the poor can't get at you. What was the final answer to the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama? Cancel the busses!
So collective effort goes out the window, and soon the society forgets how collective effort works. Tens of thousands of poor people standing on roofs in the Delta and they haven't the slightest idea how to get them off. The ones they have brought to dry land they dump on the highway, where they stand as the Army trucks roll by.
There are all sorts of bargains the rich and the powerful in any society make with the poor. But one way or another through bread, circuses, the dole, the promise that Anyone Can Make It there's the offer of a deal: Don't make trouble: we'll take care of you. Empires collapse when the offer the "marginal rate of return" becomes empty: we won't take care of you. Or, we can't take care of you. We don't need you and we're not frightened of you.
We're at that point here. Malthus, a Christian, proposed locating the surplus poor next to unhealthy marshes, in the hope they would get sick and die. How much of a difference is there between that and the "emergency preparedness" and evacuation procedures before, during and after Katrina? How did Washington perceive New Orleans and most of the Gulf coast? Basically as a vast huddle of the mostly poor and the mostly black. So, year after year, they denied funds to shore up levees that all experts agree are bound to give way in more than a Force Three storm. They hollowed out every state economy so that in the end Mississippi's tax base was its cut of the gambling take, from floating casinos because the Christians said the Devil's Work couldn't take place on dry land.
Mainstream politics in America has ceased to deliver the goods in anything but the meanest terms. The bigger the hog, the bigger the bucket of slops. There's no worthwhile opposition at the established level. Generally I think people are looking at the scenes along the Gulf coast and in the Delta with horror, at the realization of what our society has come to.
This is exactly how I feel.
I'm contemplating going to Texas to volunteer.
ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN
This is seriously just jaw-droppingly good shit
Kanye West? Fucking A. A hero
(I have to download everything 'cuz I don't have cable.)
FIVE DAYS LATER
Five days after the hurricane, people without food, water, shelter, or safety outside the convention center in New Orleans.
Koppel asks "Michael Brown" tough questions.
"Michael Brown" sweats. And lies.
I wish there were a law that could put "Michael Brown" in prison. Along with the fucker that appointed him.
OIL STOCKS UP 5% THIS WEEK
MORE UNMAKABLE-UP SHIT
This is Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Association.
You would expect Brown to have a serious background in logistics, or situation management, or emergency preparation, or communications, or, um, something, right? Not in the Bush Administration. From Gilliard
"An unmitigated, total fucking disaster." That's not a quote from Mike Brown, but rather, a quote describing him. And most disturbingly, it's not even a reference to his dismal performance as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This blunt critique was emailed to me from a regular reader who was apparently attracted to HorsesAss.org by her passion for politics and her love of Arabian horses.
I think I've told you that I'm into Arab horses. Well, for 3 years Michael Brown was hired and then fired by our IAHA, the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He was an unmitigated, total fucking disaster. I was shocked as hell when captain clueless put him in charge of FEMA a couple of years ago.Yes, that's right... the man responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, sharpened his emergency management skills as the "Judges and Stewards Commissioner" for the International Arabian Horses Association... a position from which he was forced to resign in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray.
He or the WH lied on the WH presser announcing him to FEMA. IAHA was never connected to the Olympic Comm, only the half Arab registry then and the governing body to the state and local Arabian horse clubs. He ruined IAHA financially so badly that we had to change the name and combine it with the Purebred registry.
I am telling you this after watching the fucking shipwreck in the Gulf. His incompetence is KILLING people.
And what of that misleading White House press release?
From 1991 to 2001, Brown was the Commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, an international subsidiary of the national governing organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee.I can't even begin to fact check the dates or IAHA's alleged relationship to the US Olympic Committee, because of course, the IAHA doesn't exist anymore, so there's nothing to Google. But it begs the question... how the hell did his prior job experience prepare Brown to head FEMA?
Well, judging by his agency's performance over the past few days... it didn't.
Only fucking Republicans
: More from Digby
But I think there is more to it. Everyone has noted that Michael Brown (the estate planning lawyer/Bush crony who is in charge of the biggest logistical challenge in FEMA's history) was making the rounds implying that the victims asked for what they got when they didn't obey the mandatory evacuation. But he wasn't the only one who said this explicitly. I wrote yesterday that Michael Chertoff, his boss, said the same thing:
"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's Today program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."This was an official talking point. On Thursday, September 1st, three days after the scope of the disaster was well known, George W. Bush sent his disaster officials out to the media with the instructions that they were to blame the victims --- the same day that we were seeing dead bodies and dehydrated children all over our television sets.
I'm gonna have to take the over on this one
US Senator David Vitter said that the death toll from Hurricane Katrina could top 10,000 in Louisiana alone.
"My guess is that it will start at 10,000, but that is only a guess," Vitter said, adding that he was not basing his remarks on any official death toll or body count.
But hey, watch this chord:
I AM FLAWED
With all of this mayhem and death and suffering, I can't bring myself to click on this link from Drudge:
Police Tell Kids No Pets On
Buses to Astrodome -- 'He
wept until he vomited.
'Snowball' he cried'...
It is all exhausting. And I'm just an onlooker.
THIS ENCOMPASSES EVERY REPUBLICAN FUCKUP
This event is emblematic of Republican governance. It encompasses every fuck-up they've perpetrated since they took over the entire national governament --- failure to plan, embracing only the best case scenario, lagging response, ignoring the experts, slashing funds and endless, endless happy talk that we can SEE WITH OUR OWN EYES is bullshit. (They are already saying that nobody is reporting all the "good news.")
The fact that most of these refugees (a word that I can hardly believe I'm typing) are black and poor residents who were unable to leave and were therefore, left to die, is emblematic also.
No, this is all about politics. It is about a GOP era of massive tax breaks for very rich Americans, billion dollar a week elective wars that we are losing while more and more people fall into poverty and the infrastructure of this country crumbles around our ears.
This failed experiment in free-market magical thinking can be summed up entirely by pictures of dead elderly Americans on the streets of New Orleans.
The failed party in power should face the wrath of tens of millions of Americans.
Jack Cafferty on CNN
The questions we ask on The Situation Room every afternoon, Wolf, are posted on the website 2 to 3 hours before we go on the air, and people who read the website often begin to respond to the questions before the show actually starts. The question this hour is: How would you rate the response of the federal government to Hurricane Katrina?Donate now
I’ve got to tell you something, we got 500-600 letters before the show even went on the air. No one -- no one -- says the federal government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamitous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I’m 62, I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco. I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans.
Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can’t sandwiches be dropped to those people who are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is going -- this is Thursday. This storm happened five days ago. It’s a disgrace, and don’t think the world isn’t watching. This is the government the taxpayers are paying for, and it’s fallen right flat on its face, as far as I can see, in the way it’s handled this thing.”
MORE NEWS HERE
I'm just shaking with fury.
Someone has dropped the ball, and someone will pay for this. It's as simple as that.
I SHALL REJOICE WHEN PEGGY NOONAN DIES
Can you believe this?
As for the tragic piggism that is taking place on the streets of New Orleans, it is not unbelievable but it is unforgivable, and I hope the looters are shot. A hurricane cannot rob a great city of its spirit, but a vicious citizenry can. A bad time with Mother Nature can leave you digging out for a long time, but a bad turn in human behavior frays and tears all the ties that truly bind human being--trust, confidence, mutual regard, belief in the essential goodness of one's fellow citizens.
We have fascists in our country. Recognize.
Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.
At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry people broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.
"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.
Welcome to the end of the Bush era.MORE
: It's all laid out here
: Utterly and completely horrific