••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

women's equality in iraq

the latest from sirreene.

thanx, darlin'.

we know where you hide your explosives.

does war build religion?

i had a high school teacher who said folk pray more during wartime.

he claimed that church attendance grew even in the soviet union during ww2 and that stalin allowed it.

so i wonder: is it possible a national leader who wants more folk to pray might actually go to war to drive them into churches?

old school tie

i can't help it. i'm feeling sorry for michael brown.

jon stewart played a series of short clips showing several legislators of both parties counting the ways of telling brown he's incompetent.

i felt embarrassed again. i suspect a lot of us do.

after all, brown is just an ordinary flawed human being who networked successfully when he needed a job and wound up doing something beyond his peter point.

it's not like that never happened before. look at the guy who hired him.

that's the really embarrassing part, 'cause we're the guys that hired the guy who hired him.

now lemme see if i got this right

apparently the defense of tom delay's pac will be that corporate contributions the pac sent the rnc wasn't the same money the rnc sent texas candidates because the rnc had a firewall.

right. i'll swallow that. feed me another one.

ok, let me backtrack a little. i'm getting ahead of myself.

near as i can tell, the firewall is two bank accounts. making the scheme "blind" by having separate books and account managers has no effect on the money trail: small individual donations from all over the country go into one account, big donations and funds from businesses go into the other; the second account is used to funnel cash to candidates in states with no restrictions on size or source of funds; the first account is used for states like texas, where it's illegal to give corporate money to a candidate.

ergo, it's not the same money. get it?

wow! where were these guys during monicagate? don't they remember "i did not have sexual relations with that woman" or "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"?

i don't see any difference between what delay's pac does and what drug traffickers do to launder money, or between what the rnc does and what money-laundering banks do.

do they really think they can fool a jury? or do they really believe it's legal?!

if they sincerely think it's legal, no wonder the dems call it a "culture of corruption," because you've got to totally shut down your common sense to think it's legal.

on the other hand, maybe that's how they might fool a jury: get'em to turn off their bullshit detectors.

the prosecutors better take nothing for granted. they're going to have to lead the jury thru the whole argument step by step with great attention to detail.

otherwise, the gop lawyers might muddy the waters with a johnny cochran defense. you know, like: if it don't make sense, it's innocence.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

timeline quest

it still seems to me that to assess what went right, what went wrong, and who did what in the h.katrina response, it's essential to construct a detailed timeline of actions, interactions, and decisions relative to events.

i'm trying to find it online. if you run across one, i'd appreciate it if you post a link in my comments. (just put it in the top post. i might miss it if it's too far down the page.)

post-biblical riddles

deborah lipstadt was interviewed on my local npr station this morning.

she's the emory university professor of jewish & holocaust studies acquitted about 5 years ago in a libel suit brought in the UK by british holocaust denier david irving.

a few points caught my attention.

  • lipstadt said irving claimed the ww2 allied bombing of dresden had no military application and killed 250k civilians. she said the true estimate was 20k-30k, and it did have military value.
  • in a short discussion about simon wiesenthal, the concentration-camp survivor and nazi hunter who died recently, she made a criticism: that wiesenthal whitewashed kurt waldheim, the austrian ex-UN-secretary-general accused of being an ex-nazi when found to have been in the german military.
  • she also very briefly mentioned raoul wallenberg, the swedish diplomat who tried to save hungarian jews and vanished around the end of the war. lipstadt said he was probably killed by the russians.

i looked up the dresden bombing in sir basil liddell hart's history of the second world war, published in 1970. no casualty figure was given, but i found the following:

At the beginning of 1945 the outlook became complicated.... That led to a fresh discussion of priorities. [skip] The most controversial aspect is the deliberate revival of 'terrorisation' as a prime aim. [skip] ...the distant city of Dresden was subjected to a devastating attack in mid-February—with the deliberate intention of wreaking havoc among the civil population and refugees—striking at the city centre, not the factories or railways.

well, i guess you could say killing and terrorizing civilians has military value. i'm sure al qaeda thinks so. war is hell, right?

i'm not so sure it's accurate to say wiesenthal "whitewashed" waldheim. i looked up the latter's date of birth. it was 12/21/1918, 40 days after the ww1 armistice, 26½ years before v-e day. waldheim was austrian, but of german descent, so he would've been subjected to a lot of nazi propaganda in his vulnerable teen years, when most phobias begin. then hitler took over austria before waldheim turned 20. he may very well have felt a great deal of social pressure to enlist.

there's no evidence he was as rabid as, say, zell miller, but if he was, was it his fault? i'm not so sure. recent research indicates the human brain isn't fully formed till around age 25, and one of the last faculties it develops is the ability to consider consequences, which contributes to conscience. waldheim must've been in uniform before that. i think i may be with wiesenthal on this one.

wallenberg's case is a real mystery. i can see why the germans might've killed him, but not the russians. yet i've heard evidence indicates the russians arrested him and imprisoned him, and he was never heard from again.

no good deed goes unpunished, eh?

brown down

i listened to little of michael brown's testimony yesterday. it was too embarrassing to hear the self-serving blame-shifting he engaged in during that part of the hearing.

this morning i heard he claimed gov blanco and mayor nagin failed to order evacuation early enough.

apparently he also said he wished he had resigned in july, when he came to the conclusion fema had inadequate ability to respond to crises.

so taking too long doing things is a widespread problem, is it?


discussion of the katrina fiasco has deteriorated to a level at which a washington journal caller described oversight & investigations subcommittee member bart stupak (d-mi) with the phrase "stupak is stupid."

i wonder if that caller has ever considered writing poetry.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

sirreene sent this too

"The most important job of the American President is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty or weakness during these troubling times, this world of ours will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch. We are steadfast, we are resolved".
-George W. Bush, November 2, 2004

so much for resolve.

tina on bill

sirreene sent this tina brown piece on the ex-prez.

thanx, keed.

bye, dick

general richard myers, nearing the end of the road and taking part in what is likely his last press conference as joint chiefs chair, showed he knows a couple things about terrorism after all.

he said they know they can't beat us militarily, so they try to chip away at our resolve to win, and to win we must retain that resolve.

right. they know they're way too weak to go toe to toe with us. that's why they resort to terror and/or guerrilla tactics. then it becomes a contest of wills: their resolve versus our resolve, both sides convinced their cause is just, until one side decides the costs outweigh the benefits and gives up.

before the outer yielding comes a wearing down: internal friction and division, often quite violent, as happened among the zulu, the maori, and the amerindians in the past, and the american public 35 years ago.

frankly, i'd rather not see that again.

better to cut and run.

gay church

i sort of feel sorry for the roman catholic church.

after centuries of torture and slaughter of heretics, witches, jews, muslims, and protestants, the hierarchy finally got enlightened enough to accept the big bang, evolution, and galileo, and to broaden their agenda to do what's best for the world rather than merely try to expand church membership, only to find they still suffer the karma of sexual repression so much so that they see homosexuals everywhere rather than child abusers.

it is sexually irresponsible for adults to engage in physical intimacies with anyone below the age of consent.

it may be true that the great majority of priests' abuse victims are boys, but the only moral issue is not their gender, but their age.

cutting brown

i don't know why everybody keeps ridiculing michael brown. he didn't hire himself, did he?

and he may have done one thing right: reportedly he persuaded the guy who did hire him to tell ray nagin to evacuate.

of course, he didn't figure that out himself. the professionals on his staff did.

coup de grâce

the overthrow of jean-bertrand aristide has led to 800 haitian deaths since last year's revolt.

new cast

folk with close ties to the bush administration now hold all the top posts at the corporation for public broadcasting.

have they died in vain?

even anti-war politicians—at least the ones i've heard—always answer that question "no."

are they afraid they'll offend families of our war dead?

or don't they have time to think about it?


here's the right answer:

if we, the people, don't learn the lesson of this war, they will have died in vain.

what is the lesson of this war?

you want the 45-minute lecture or the sound bite version?

oh. ok.

in a word: necessity.

in a sentence: don't go to war until you know you must.

how do you know?

try using davy crockett's war of 1812 motto with my stress added: be sure you're right, then go ahead.

that sound at all familiar, tex?

frist fried?

you remember the senate majority leader, don't you?

you know, the son of the founder of giant health care conglomerate hospital corporation of america?

the one who adopted cats from animal shelters so he could perform medical experiments on them?

the famous doctor who ran for US senator in '94 on the platform "who better than a heart surgeon to take out that bleeding-heart liberal jim sasser?"

the floor leader who tried to win favor for a future presidential run by keeping a brain-dead woman alive, blocking a budget vote because of an anti-torture clause, and suddenly and unexpectedly switching sides on embryonic stem cell research only when polls showed the public was solidly behind it?

yeah! that's him.

well, he just sold all that hca stock—or, rather, he instructed the trustee of his "blind" trust to sell it—a couple weeks before its price tanked.

now you may wonder, as i did, how he knew what was in his "blind" trust. it seems all that stuff of politicos telling everybody they have blind trusts has turned out to be garbage. the law requires knowledge of office holders' holdings to be publicly available, so they all know what's in their trusts. the only thing blind about them is voters with wool pulled over our eyes.

anyway, mr majority leader says he ordered the sale to "end the appearance of a conflict of interest."

right. that makes sense. of course. after 10 years in the senate, owning that stock the whole time and doing nothing to guarantee health care for everyone who needs it (like, say, cuba does), now he wants to end the appearance of a conflict of interest.

good luck, bill.

& then there's the SEC chairman

christopher cox, former congressman (r-ca) and now head of the securities and exchange commission, has recused himself from the inquiry on bill frist's possible insider trading.

law doesn't require him to do so, but he said he wants to avoid appearance of conflict of interest—the same reason frist gave for the stock sale that raised questions in the first place.

who you kidding, chris? we know why you want out of the case: if you end up concluding frist should get prosecuted, your gop buddies will never forgive you or support your future career, and if you don't, the dems will attack you for favoritism.

just in case u missed these

Such high stakes compelled a host of unlikely bedfellows—scientists, environmental groups, business leaders, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—to forge a radical plan to protect what's left. Drafted by the Corps a year ago, the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) project was initially estimated to cost up to 14 billion dollars over 30 years, almost twice as much as current efforts to save the Everglades. But the Bush Administration balked at the price tag, supporting instead a plan to spend up to two billion dollars over the next ten years to fund the most promising projects. Either way, Congress must authorize the money before work can begin.
National Geographic, October 2004

It’s now clear that poor policies on the local, state, and federal levels all contributed to making Katrina a catastrophic storm in Louisiana. But of all the shocking facts emerging in the wake of this hurricane, perhaps this is the most shocking: Right now, with similar irresponsibility, we are ignoring raw data and reports that say every single coastal city in America – from New York to Savannah to Los Angeles – could soon become a New Orleans.
Mike Tidwell

Monday, September 26, 2005

clarifying barriers

feedback from dk indicates some earlier posts may have shed more mud than light on what new orleans needs most, so let me try to make it clear.

the reason h.katrina hit NO as hard as it did is that the mississippi delta wetland has eroded so much—currently, at a rate of 20-30 sq mi per year—that it is now mostly open water. the barrier islands are gone too.

since land slows the windspeed of cyclonic storms, the wetlands and islands gave the city a natural shield.

part of the erosion is a result of waterways dug by oil drillers and the army engineers corps, but—paradoxically—most of it is because of levees meant to prevent river flooding.

the delta was built of silt left behind by countless prehistoric floods. before the levees got as long and high as they now are, the mississippi spilled over its banks often enough to deposit sufficient silt to replenish eroded land.

nowadays—except for relatively rare occasions when the river rises above levees or flood walls—some of that silt stays on the river bottom, and the rest gets shot out into the gulf of mexico, the same place rain washes soil from the delta.

the only way to prevent major storms from doing the kind of damage we've just seen—and it will happen again otherwise—is to rebuild the wetlands and barrier islands. it ought to be the first priority of the $200B+ reconstruction effort.

the cost has been estimated at 14-16 gigabucks [that's giga with a B].


ra or ng

say, if we have so many active duty military personnel available for hurricane duty, how come we need so many national guard at war?

it's just plain terabytle

anybody here ever seen a floppy with 1.65 TB of data on it?

that's what the status bar says of a folder on the disk, and also that the folder has 1236 objects in it.

inside i found around 500 empty subfolders and 700 or so files, most of which appear to be over 1,000,000 KB, with most of the rest well up in the 100s of 1000s of KB size range.

if you care to speculate—or even to offer authoritative comment—i'll be watching, bemused but amused, for your response.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

interesting question

the 2nd caller to this morning's washington journal asked: why do we elect people who don't believe government works?

hmm. yeah.

if elected officials want to prove they're right in claiming government doesn't work, then they have an interest in making it fail, don't they?

more weird calls

it amazes me how so many callers who speak out against "finger-pointing" immediately turn around and point their fingers at dems.

one woman this morning even blamed fema's louisiana failures on clinton.

how odd. my memory is that clinton's fema director, james lee witt, was so good at the job that al gore used his name in the 2000 campaign, telling how he'd gone to a number of disaster sites with witt.

of course the gops managed to turn even that into an attack on gore.

their opposition research showed witt had missed one of the trips gore mentioned, so even tho gore had gone, it was a "lie."

naming offenses

as i understand it, some native americans object to getting called "indians," others do not, and some seminoles have no problem with their name getting used in college sports, but nobody likes having a football team called "redskins."

for all i know, aboriginal americans disagree on other team names recently banned by the ncaa.

i haven't heard of sailors objecting to "mariners" or beermakers to "brewers" or priests to "padres" or anybody to "cowboys" or "packers" or "knicks" or "celtics" or "lakers" or "patriots" or "steelers" or "senators" or "canadiens" or "flyers" or "rangers" or "islanders" or "blue jackets" or "kings" or "oilers" or even "canucks."

but isn't anybody at all bothered by the names "pirates" and "buccaneers"?

i mean, you wouldn't want your team named "murderers" or "rapists," would you?

is bush off the wagon?

thanx, sirreene, for this scary drink link.

march on

if you missed yesterday's big anti-war rally in dc and would like to be notified of future events, you can sign up for e-mail action alerts at answer coalition's website.

Friday, September 23, 2005

a lincoln quote you'll never hear from a gop

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
—First Annual Message to Congress, December 3,1861

gop dixie crap

thanks to a brief reference by harry belafonte in dc at yesterday's town hall meeting on poverty, i'm reminded of something i've been meaning to say for a while.

every now and then i hear a gop try to turn african-americans against the dems by talking about the dixiecrats, who fought for racial segregation from within the dem party in the 1950s and '60s.

what they consistently conveniently leave out is that when the dems decided during the '60s to become the party of civil rights, most of the dixiecrats crossed the aisle and joined the gop, which welcomed them with open arms.

their leader, strom thurmond, had left the dems once before, in '48, to form a 3rd party to run against harry truman, who'd integrated the military. as a gop thurmond rose to the top, finishing out his career as president pro tempore.

it didn't come out till after his death that he fathered a child in his 20s by raping a black teenager who worked for his family.

raising 'cane

h.rita passed over some cool water again and went down to category 3. its track appears to take the eye into texas just west of the louisiana line, with landfall sometime between 3am and sunrise, most likely as a cat 3 or possibly 4.

rita's pressure is extremely low, making it one of the most intense storms ever—maybe the most intense. if i correctly grasp what that implies, a very high storm surge is possible.

evacuating texas drivers are running out of gas on hot, clogged highways. a bus carrying 45 nursing home patients burst into flame when its mechanical problems somehow made some patients' oxygen tanks explode. at least 2 dozen are believed dead.

on the more powerful right side of the track, new orleans has 3 new levee breaks at the industrial canal, with waist-deep water at the levee. mississippi is also taking another hit.

this is the most active hurricane season on record, with 5 named already. nobody can recall 2 cat 5s within a month before. 5 weeks remain in the peak season.

to correct or refine info posted earlier: globally, the number per year of tropical cyclonic storms equivalent to category 4 or 5 hurricanes has nearly doubled in 35 years, but the hurricane-force storm total is about the same. the frequency of 2s and 3s is about constant, while cat 1s are actually fewer in number.

well said, deke

here's a terrific post about cons deserting bush's sinking dinghy.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

more katrina blah

rational kirk posted more info on the lackadaisical federal response.


i'm not sure who or when, but somebody used that infamous phrase in the last couple weeks or so. i quickly forgot about it till something i read jogged my memory this morning. then it came back to me that i wrote something on the subject almost a year and a half ago.

here 'tis:

ok, fellas
le's not fight over credit

it don' matter f
tom, dick, or colin sd it frs

wha matters:
le's not get 2 lit'ral here

it really means
u break it, u pay 4 it

no need 2 hang roun
n clean up ur mess

folk who run d place
cn handle it

jus pay wha u owe
n get d hell out o d sto!

how many cat 5s does it take to turn a right-winger into a tree-hugger?

we may or may not learn the answer this weekend.

as of this writing rita has slowed to category 4 after passing over a patch of cool water, but more warm water lies ahead, along with air temperatures in the 90s and as high as 100°F today near the texas coast, so a return to cat 5 is definitely possible.

galveston has been fully evacuated. however, the storm no longer appears headed there. it's turned northward and looks like it will make landfall near the texas-louisiana line.

in terms of pressure, rita is the 3rd most intense hurricane on record. it is nearly 400 miles across. on the tv weather map it looks like it covers half the gulf of mexico.

bush v bus

the current focus of the bush legion appears to be buses. from wall street journal op-ed contributor to c-span phone-in listener, they rally defensively round the great leader by attacking the big easy mayor—who just happens to belong to the other party—for not using all the city's school buses in the evacuation.

well, i almost hate to remind them, but by the time then fema director brown had persuaded bush to tell nagin to evacuate the city, it was well into the last saturday in august.

how you gonna find enough school bus drivers on the last saturday in august?

and once you find some, how you gonna find all the scattered folk who need a ride but don't know you're looking for them on the last sunday in august?

according to at least one televised report, some of those school buses did get used to evacuate folk and even returned for second loads but then got caught in the flood.

if bush-worshipers are so concerned about busing, why don't they ever ask about the hired buses (and helicopters) fema officials commandeered before they could carry out the job they were contracted for: rescuing trapped nursing home and hospital patients?

gimme all you got, big boy

the federal guvmint is determined not to repeat the mistakes they made with katrina.

when blanco asked bush to send everything he had, washington asked for a detailed list.

with rita they're going all out.

i can't wait to see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

wall street journal reveals ignorance

i've put this off because i hate reading long-winded op-ed pieces (especially from wsj) like sirreene [thanx, darlin'] sent me a week ago, but i finally forced myself, so here goes.

she left out the byline, which is just as well: i'd rather not know who i'm about to put down.

i'll give you the last sentence first, not because i want to ruin it for you, but because it tells you where the author is headed:

That kind of individual initiative is what has made the U.S. a great country.
the headline is "What Are the Lessons of Katrina?" [9/13/05]

if you're anything like me, you're probably rubbing your eyes in disbelief that that title and that conclusion come from the same piece.

the author lists six "lessons," none of which have anything to do with the unsound environmental practices that actually caused the katrina calamity.

i'll skip the first two, an attack on bureaucracies and one on lawyers, because both are essentially moot and because i really want to get to #3, in which the author shows his/her ignorance of the constitution.

first, the offending paragraph:

Some of those limitations were built into the Constitution's limits on federal powers. President Bush could not nationalize the Louisiana National Guard without the consent of Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, which was not immediately forthcoming.
apparently neither the author nor wsj's fact checker has ever taken the trouble to read the constitution: no such limit exists anywhere in the document.

if you want to check that, go to any online US constitution, open your browser's edit menu, click on "find," and look for the word "militia" (without the quotes, of course), which is the generic word for what came to be called the national guard. you'll find it 6 times, 2 of which are in the amendments. the relevant clauses are in article i, section 8, paragraphs 15 & 16 and article ii, section 2, paragraph 1, plus, perhaps, the 5th amendment.

i,§8,¶15 says

[The Congress shall have Power] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union....
ii,§2,¶1 says

The President shall be Commander in Chief...of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;...
only i,§8,¶16 (where the word appears twice) gives states any militia-related power, as follows:

...reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;...
the word "militia" also appears earlier in ¶16, saying congress may "...provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States...;" in the 2nd amendment's justification for the right to keep and bear arms; and in the 5th's exception to the requirement for grand jury indictments in criminal cases:

...in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;...
when i said the 5th might be relevant to the issue, it was because those last 3 words are the constitution's only direct suggestion that the guard may be used other than as a fighting force.

it's not impossible for congress to enact a law that makes the president get a governor's consent to federalize a state's national guard, and for all i know such a law exists, but it's not part of the constitution.

[by the way, did bush get consent from governors before he sent national guard troops to iraq?]

wsj may be the classiest member of the gop noise machine, but that's no excuse for putting a flawed interpretation of the constitution in its pages.

look, i could go on, but the rest of the op-ed is a mixed bag of facts, inaccuracies based on anachronism and misinformation, and blaming local and state dems, most of which i've already dealt with in prior posts.

it sounds as if mayor nagin ordered evacuation not on saturday, before the monday storm, but on tuesday, after the flood began. the author treats events as if they all happened the same day and yet as if everybody had all the time in the world to do everything that had to be done.

i forget who said "you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts." the fact that something is an opinion piece is no excuse for printing it when it contains flawed information.

i know i'm not perfect in that department. sometimes memory seems to play tricks on me. but, just as i hope bloggers will correct my errors here, if i sent an op-ed piece to a major newspaper i'd expect them to check my facts.

wsj ought to clean up its act.

women! can't live with'em, can't shoot'em

a south jersey woman was shot to death as she closed the drug store where she worked.

the killer was steven wright, a nutcase customer who'd apparently been stalking her for months and has the same name as the comedian whose most memorable line forms the above headline.

they showed the guy's picture on the local news today. he looks like a real whacko, bulging eyes and all.

too bad we can't reliably predict behavior from appearance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

the problem isn't...

It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so.
—attributed by various sources to Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, and Will Rogers
the bush folk firmly believe they know what's best for america and the world, and they're equally firmly committed to furthering an agenda founded on that belief.

it's not so much that they don't know what they're doing.

it's that they think they do.

well! that certainly lasted a long time, didn't it?

within hours of the announcement of an agreement with north korea, condi rice started talking tough. i don't recall a damn thing she said, but i got the impression the upshot of it was n.korea had to dismantle their weapons program first, and only then would we even think about letting them have anything.

i almost exploded at the tv set. "what the hell is she doing?!" i cried. "is she trying to make them back out? but it won't work. i hope. they're too smart to take the bait. i hope. i hope. i hope."

so then it came out the agreement was only "in principle," not a firm commitment—or maybe bush said it earlier and i didn't hear it till later. and then nk started saying they wanted a lightwater reactor up front. and then we heard lightwater hadn't been discussed till the last round of talks—whatever that means after 2 years of on again off again.



the "insurgency"

insurgency is, by definition, a rebellion against civil authority.

'but,' you may object, 'when the insurgency started iraq had no civil authority, only our military authority.'

excellent point! i concede.

in fact, this so-called insurgency began shortly after saddam hussein went into hiding, so there was no authority at all, just a state of war.

we called it an "insurgency" to delegitimize it. "resistance" would sound like something we could approve. "guerrilla war" would be demoralizing, because a guerrilla war can go on for years.

you may or may not recall, but just before he dropped out of sight, saddam announced that iraqis should begin "unconventional warfare" against the invaders. he meant guerrilla war.

you likely remember when reichsmarshall rumsfeld—or was it vice-führer cheney?—read from a dictionary to prove the guerrilla war wasn't a guerrilla war.

it was a selective reading—aka cherry-picking. "guerrilla" has more than one sense, and our spin doctor chose carefully.

it was only a matter of time before the bush legion started insisting "it's not an occupation! it's a liberation!" that too was part of the information war—which is really a disinformation campaign.

as for the claim that the "insurgency" is trying to stop democracy from succeeding: well, yeah, but only because we back it.

the goal of the resistance is to make us fail, along with anything or anybody we support or that supports us—not because we're democrats, but because we're foreign invaders: they'd fight restoration of the caliphate if we backed it!

that's why they won't stop fighting till we leave or they get wiped out. anybody who says they'll "sit back and wait" if we announce a withdrawal timetable doesn't know what he's talking about.

what could be better for us than if they "sit back and wait"?

finger pointing

the phobic bush legion has picked up on their sainted leader's "finger pointing" remark and turned it into a gingrichesque mantra.

for 25 years the "right" has attacked libs and dems at every turn. now that the shoe is at long last on the other foot, they're proving they can dish it out but can't take it.

to get a messiah...

...you must start with a mess.

Monday, September 19, 2005

men, here's the truest myth i know:

women are a whole different kind of animal.

the gods created man then decided to destroy him, so they created a superior species: woman.

women apparently chose to keep us around a little longer for their amusement.

it is, therefore, our duty to express our gratitude in every way we can.

we can never fully understand women, and we can almost never suspend our limited judgment, but we must do our best to show our devotion.

so, guys, if you grasp the truth in what i say, give the girl what she needs!

you digital tv viewers may not care, but...

i guess it was the view this morning that did a joke—sorry, i missed it—using a big flatscreen as a prop, with the tv guide channel listings filling about 80% of the picture.

i wish it really were that way.

not too many years ago—before comcast realized they could pinch more profits by turning it over to tv guide—the lower half of the screen was program listings. then they cut it down to about 1/3. now it's even smaller, with less info for some channels.

sometimes they even do specials with the listings in a tiny font i'm pretty sure nobody over 50 can read.

the ever-expanding top of the picture is ads and other promotional junk nobody watches because nobody tunes in the tv guide channel except to see the listings.

any ad agency that buys time on it is probably too stupid to know they're cheating their client.

one most wanted

does anybody know if a q "have nukes, will travel" khan is sticking to his house arrest?

i've heard a rumor he's been sighted outside pakistan.

mud v slime

last week at baruch college in nyc, george galloway and christopher hitchens debated the war in iraq.

at least that was supposed to be the subject.

saturday, when i tuned in late to the pre-recorded 2-hour broadcast on book tv, i heard almost nothing but both men throwing ad hominems at each other. they didn't stop short of guilt by association, of course. galloway lumped hitchens together with bush and cheney, while hitchens invoked the names of michael moore, jane fonda, and the oil-for-food program.

fortunately it got rerun and i saw the beginning. hitchens made the first remarks and actually stayed on-topic for most of his time, but a couple minutes before the end of his opening statement he unloaded his first personal attack on galloway.

he took on the wrong guy. galloway reversed the sequence and lit into hitchens with a devastating series of body blows before he moved on to the war. he knew hitchens' record surprisingly well, and in his hands it became an exposé of hypocrisy and of hitchens' migration during the last decade or so from the trotskyist left to the neocon right.

if you want to watch, go to c-span's website.

katrinorth korea

today north korea agreed to give up its nuke weapons program and rejoin the nuclear nonproliferation treaty in return for security guarantees and economic and energy aid.

in other words, we more or less go back 4 years to the day before bush's axis of evil speech.

on npr's talk of the nation host neil conant asked "why today?"

the correct answer is "katrina."

n.korea knows the main strategic value of wmd is deterrence. as long as they feared an american invasion, they figured their best defense was to let the world know they had nukes, just as iraq would've done if they'd really had them.

as we got mired in iraquag, n.korea began to suspect we lacked sufficient strength to attack them.

the US guvmint's abysmal response to hurricane katrina convinced them.

hormonal distress

i've got a theory—ok! ok! a conjecture—that the reason women, from gold star mothers to 9/11 families, are giving georgie boy so much flack lately is that he's sent 2/3 [condi & karen] of his in-house estrogen shield out to cabinet departments.

it's a brilliant phrase, isn't it? i wish i knew who coined it so i could give credit. it refers, of course, to putting a lot of women in prominent positions to deflect female criticism of the misogynistic policies of his administration.

but i wouldn't know about that. the shields i'm familiar with protect wombs from jizz, not the other way round.

cutting brush

i use a bushwhacker.

you must've seen on tv that bush uses a chain saw.

he's got bigger brush.

everything's bigger in texas, right?

wait a sec! a texan with a chainsaw?

no wonder they ran that "don't trust hollywood" pr campaign!

thanx again, doll

sirreene this one about health risks in NO.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

the face of the storm

the news says over 2400 children are missing as a result of katrina.

it's truly heartbreaking to see cnn's endless series of photos of missing kids. the cheerful smiles on all their faces makes it even harder to bear. the only thing more painful is the silhouette used when pix are unavailable.

of course, what makes it so heart-rending is the knowledge that not all those children are still alive, and many who are living may be sick or injured.

i don't think i need to give advice on this topic. i'm sure folk of good will who know the location of a missing child will contact appropriate authorities.

look before you give

the government says about 4000 internet charities are raising funds for katrina relief.
many are undoubtedly scams.

con artists know how to come up with legitimate-sounding names and sophisticated text and graphics to fool goodhearted folk. don't assume they can't fool you.

if you're looking for a legit organization to donate to, i'd suggest it's a good bet to watch tv and listen to radio.

not only are there a number of fundraising broadcasts, but many tv stations have been putting phone numbers and web addresses onscreen, and radio stations make public service announcements.

just make sure you pick a station you know you can trust.

talk to each other

let me presume to give some advice on consideration—in more than one sense of the word.

we just heard two officials show their independence. unfortunately it was at the expense of harmony and public good.

mayor ray nagin announced folk can start moving back to parts of new orleans within 2 weeks. then washington's man in charge, vice admiral thad allen, announced it was a bad idea because it's not safe yet.

nagin should've talked to allen before going public. when the mayor spoke too soon, the admiral should've called him and said "mayor, we gotta talk." then nagin could've gone back to the media and said "i've just spoken to adm allen, and he's persuaded me my announcement was premature."

both men messed up on communication and diplomacy. as of this writing, they still haven't got together.

it reminds me of how the fbi didn't tell the cia about the guys studying flying but not landing, because both agencies felt they had to protect their turf.

clearly we still have to learn the main lesson of 9/11: we gotta talk to each other!

guys, 2 heads are better than one, ya know?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

don't tell me gwb is incontinent!

thanx sirreene 4 this one, which i think i also saw on the daily show.

thanx kai

kai wren sent a couple links, one on the kyoto protocol, another that attempts to say why america is hated.

oops, almost missed this one from a dialogue he got into on another blog 8 months ago.


in this plastic dominated world, it's become apparent to me that the only cash i ever need is a reusable quarter for the supermarket cart.

the only reason i still carry a hundred bucks in my pocket is i wouldn't feel like a MAN without it.

of course, i still have to get the quarter back.

Friday, September 16, 2005

storm surge

a team of scientists reports that the total number of all types of tropical storms per year has remained nearly constant for 35 years, but the frequency of hurricanes has almost doubled.

that appears to confirm climatologists' prediction that global warming makes storms more intense.

those whose faith-based junk science makes them fail to heed such warnings will likely remain unprepared for crises.

misplaced tears

getting back to the blubbering senator who is so troubled by brain waves in the unborn:

if this country produces so much food we could feed an additional million-plus babies per year, then why are we letting so many children starve around the world?

keep feeding niger

last night bbc news reported that thousands of children are still starving in niger, but the upcoming harvest will be followed by the world food program cutting aid to the general population so the economy can slowly get back on its feet.

the trouble with that is food prices are—according to the normally objective bbc—"insanely high."

farmers will benefit from the high prices even if aid is not cut.

but if it is cut, prices won't drop nearly fast enough to be affordable to folk who have nothing.

i assume the food program has economists advising it. if not, they should. if they do, those economists should think again.


no, that wasn't a pun on the former fema director's name.

it's about the recent electrical brownout in califonya—as they pronounce it in austria.

you mean to tell me they went thru that whole recall travesty and still have brownouts?!

that was what started the whole crisis, wasn't it? energy traders at enron and other companies manipulating power flow to get rich at the expense of golden staters?

ah! i thought you'd recall. [i swear that pun wasn't intended.]

and today the gubernator announced he's running for reelection.

no shit! like we couldn't guess when he vetoed the gay marriage law.

but i do want arnold to know i think dover beach is a great poem.

clerical material

wow! bush gave a great sermon today, didn't he?

he definitely missed his calling.

hurray 4 density

studies show digital mammography is better for women with dense breasts.


sirreene sent 2 more doozies

one's on our new clear posture, the other on the vatican's.

so bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

save the speech

david savage of the l.a.times, on npr the other day, commented on the way so many senators on the judiciary committee use up much of their allotted questioning time with prolonged introductory remarks.

he said they're better speechmakers than questioners and would do better to start off with a pointed question and save the speech for the follow-up.

an experienced trial lawyer like arlen specter has no such problem, but several senators really do waste a lot of time, so much so that they often leave little time for answers and wind up watching the clock, rushing at the end trying to get one more question in, cutting off answers, getting mixed up, and wasting more time.

always nice to see dispassionate objectivity in legislators dept.

at tuesday's roberts confirmation hearing the junior senator from OK started blubbering and muttering something about brain waves.

i have no idea what got him started, but i did learn the answer to an age-old question: yes! i do hate to see a grown man cry.

especially on national tv.

phobes scared by judge?

i'm not too worried about john roberts. he's obviously more knowledgeable than the guy who nominated him and most of the senate too.

let's face it, roberts is the best we're going to get this year or next. dems shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking they'll show strategic strength by voting against him either in committee or on the senate floor. gwb's next nominee(s) will likely perch on the edge of the antediluvian tar pit. those throwback judges-to-be will be used to placate phobes like today's first caller on washington journal, who threatened not to "carry water" for bush anymore if he continues in the direction implied by roberts' nomination. dems should show how reasonable they can be now and save their ammo for the fight to oppose real enemies of fair play.

i was relieved roberts had no problem repudiating his reagan-era memo belittling the right of privacy. a lot of cons must've felt shaken when he stated unequivocally that the constitution protects privacy and the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments deal with various aspects of privacy rights.

those are the key amendments in the area. i'd say the 2nd also is more-or-less a privacy right, and the 9th basically says it's not really up to the government to say we don't have it. in any case, roberts' understanding of the constitution has progressed in the last 20 years.

the basis of roe v wade is the privacy implied by "liberty" in the due process clause of the 5th and 14th amendments, so pro-choicers couldn't hope for a better answer than roberts gave, given that everybody knows he'll never answer a direct question on roe.

he quite rightly defined a judge's job as deciding cases, not making law, and pointed out that interpreting the law is necessary to decide cases.

his baseball example was a little silly tho. umpires make rulings during a game, but they don't get together at the end and pick the winner, so it's as false as most analogies. maybe he should've used gymnastics or figure skating instead. those officials aren't called umpires tho. they're called judges.

roberts subtly reminded some senators that a decision is "judicial activism" only if it goes beyond what is needed to decide a case, not because it's a bad decision or folk disagree with it. he gave the dred scott case as an example: apparently the court went a lot further than what was necessary to keep scott in chains.

on another key issue, roberts said it's generally best to follow precedent, but there can be exceptions—for instance, the passage of time may've made a precedent unworkable, or a precedent may've been eroded by intervening precedents.

i'm as confused as anyone on how and when the commerce clause is relevant in a case. i would've thought women and folk with disabilities were guaranteed equal rights primarily by the equal protection clause. using the commerce clause to violate equal protection sounds scary and weird.

a federal law barring guns in schools was also overturned because it didn't specify guns in interstate commerce. boy is that dumb! every damn gun maker in the country—if not the world—puts its products into interstate commerce. can you imagine narrowing it down to banning from schools only those guns that had crossed state lines? well, that's what the courts said the law must do.

i'm not sure which way roberts would've voted on those cases, but it was interesting to hear them discussed. it's almost comforting to know the law is just as much "a ass" as it was to mr.bumble in oliver twist.

you can't really talk about roberts without mentioning his demeanor. he's just so nice! admittedly that could be a mask. we always need to be alert to the possibility that a likable person—like bush—will turn out to be dangerous. the big difference twixt the judge and the prez is roberts really understands the law. i feel confident that if he were prez, we wouldn't've invaded iraq—but that's a hypothesis contrary to fact, so forget it.

roberts picked robert jackson as his most-admired justice, strongly hinting that he won't be bush's man on the bench. fdr elevated jackson to the court after a short stint as attorney general. the new justice soon showed his independence of the white house.

the question i still think they should ask roberts is whether the advice and consent clause requires the senate to vote on a nominee.

hint: it doesn't.

[note to senator brownback: you're a ass too. "is an unborn child a person or a piece of property?" is a totally false dichotomy. there's at least one more category: parasite. you can relate to that, can't you, senator?]

Monday, September 12, 2005

4 years+1 day

does anybody here feel 4 years and 1 day safer?

king of the molehill

some folks look for answers
others look for fights
—grateful dead, playin' in the band

the gop defense of bush by way of attacking mayor ray nagin seems to be focusing more and more on school buses that didn't get used to evacuate poor folk.

you know, it's really easy to toss out a sound bite or a talking point. you can make all kinds of assertions without presenting any evidence to back them up.

refuting them takes time and patience to assemble facts. the whole concept of equal time in a debate gets reduced to absurdity.

yes, the city had a lot of unused school buses, but some did get used and even returned for second loads but wound up stuck in the flood.

remember, on thursday nobody knew katrina was coming to new orleans. the emergency and evacuation weren't declared till saturday. the storm hit the area early monday (just past 7am). no more could be done till it passed, but after it passed, the danger seemed over. the first levee breach didn't happen till that night.

one problem was finding enough drivers on an august weekend.

another was tracking down residents without means to leave but who were willing to go.

another was getting the buses, the drivers, and the passengers together on sunday.

every step was time consuming, and time was very short.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

dershowitz v rehnquist

my friend rich sent me this, in case you're interested

thanx, rich

Saturday, September 10, 2005

good news, bad news, & indifferent

the half-bad news is i found out i have some inaccurate info in some recent posts re katrina.

the good news is i learned some new stuff i can use to correct some and, perhaps, eventually all of it.

the still bad news is that more than a few big-time journalists appear to believe quite a bit of the inaccurate stuff, & polls indicate the public has swallowed it too.

one area of error—a relatively minor one—is about the louisiana national guard. the facts as i now understand them are that the organization has 6500-7000 members, and about 3000 of them are in iraq, not a majority as i reported. an unfortunate sidelight is the ones in iraq took all of the group's water treatment equipment with them.

more important is what officials did:

on thursday august 25 katrina was moving up along the west coast of florida and didn't appear headed toward new orleans. one meteorologist analyzed conditions and saw what was about to happen. he was respected enough to persuade others to take another look. when they confirmed it, they notified louisiana.

on saturday governor kathleen blanco came to the conclusion the state didn't have the resources to handle it. she contacted president bush and got him to declare an emergency. she also got in touch with other states and asked them to send their national guard troops right after the storm passed. then mayor ray nagin ordered the evacuation.

katrina turned aside but struck a glancing blow on the big easy at 7:10 monday morning. the first levee breach occurred that night.

when state officials tried to phone the other states' national guards to establish command and control, they found that both land lines and cell phones failed. they went to their emergency backup system, but it didn't work either. even ham radio operators couldn't make contact. thus the delay in bringing in out-of-state national guard.

i heard the above yesterday on npr's all things considered. i thought their website was supposed to have a more detailed timeline, but i can't find it. here's salon's from AP.

misinformation continues to circulate, and some journalists are not yet up to date. some participants last night on washington week and the journal editorial report were still repeating the pro-bush spin that the city and state governments failed to do their jobs properly.

in fact they really were swamped, as they knew they would be, which is why the governor called the president two days before the storm hit.

far as i can tell, all they failed to anticipate was the triple whammy of the phones. everybody assumed at least one of the three systems would function.

i've also heard that the governor wouldn't agree to bush's offer to federalize the guard.

what nonsense! did he get her consent before sending louisiana's guard troops to iraq? if so, then he already had it. if not, why would he need it after katrina?

if bush believed he should take command, he didn't need the governor's "permission slip."

as for the claim that the mayor is "no giuliani": it's true.

the evacuation he ordered, tho perhaps on shaky legal authority, undoubtedly saved far more lives than rudy ever saved.

another katrina link

i heard mike tidwell, author of bayou farewell: the rich life and tragic death of louisiana’s cajun coast, interviewed on talk of the nation science friday.

check out his site, but be forewarned: this one is really scary.

ah, de polls

sirreene sent a link to rasmussen, who puts bush's job approval at 48%.

others rank him lower.

pollingreport.com lists 6 major polls that currently rate bush between 39% and 45%, with fox 666 and gallup at the high end, AP at the bottom.

cbs had him at 42%, pew and zogby both 40%.

funny thing about gallup: bush actually went UP from 40% less than a week earlier.

Friday, September 09, 2005

on humility

washington journal's first phone-in question today was something like: should america be humble?

apparently somebody wrote an editorial saying other countries want the US to be strong but humble.

i never phone—ok, i admit i tried once or twice in the past but didn't get thru—but listening's a kick.

see, they have 3 phone lines: support bush, support dems, support others. on rare occasions they have just one number for all calls, and one side invariably has an overwhelming majority.

this morning all but one pro-bush callers said we shouldn't be humble, and everybody else said we should.

that tells you something right there. no further comment needed, i'd say.

but i don't like "humble." it's too ambiguous: it has a negative sense as well as a positive one. i prefer "modest."

and what's my opinion? i thought you'd never ask. well, i'm sure you already know my opinion, but i'll say it anyway:

yes, i think we should be modest. our national ego is way too big.

too big and too fragile.

our overreaction to france's nonsupport of our war—freedom-fries, &c—proves how fragile.

on patriotic subjects we have too little humor and too little perspective. i think that's because of our swollen pride.

i mean, we say we're one nation under god. how absurd. like we're the only one. or, if not the only one, still, how arrogant: god's on OUR side, so if you're not with us, go to hell, you goddamn terrorist-lover.


my move in the blame game

first of all, there's plenty of blame to go round—more than enough.

the fact that national geographic 11 months ago predicted the new orleans disaster—almost exactly as it happened!—is all the proof needed that everybody—residents and federal, state, and local governments—could have been prepared.

that window of opportunity closed, of course.

a day or so before katrina hit, tv weather forecasters showed a map of the storm making a beeline for the city, but it was only the most likely path: the map had a probability zone that allowed for the possibility the path would change—as in fact it did, but far from harmlessly.

the mayor called for evacuation before the storm hit, but too late to arrange transport for folk lacking means.

i'm not sure what the governor did. she couldn't call up all of louisiana's national guard, because the majority are in iraq, but she could have asked other states to send theirs.

the president declared an emergency before the storm hit, but his agencies still weren't ready to move in when the flood began.

the governor said when fema (fed emergency mgt agcy) finally arrived they turned away some water and fuel shipments and cut off some emergency communications which she then had reconnected and protected by guards with shoot-to-kill discretion.

the mayor publicly attacked the governor for telling the prez she needed 24 hours to decide about an offer he made, but the mayor wasn't at the meeting where it allegedly happened. he said bush told him.

the prez said he'd personally lead an investigation of what went wrong and americans shouldn't be called "refugees."

folk all over the country attacked bush. his defenders attacked the governor and mayor.

in the last day or so ex-senator john breaux (d-la) said congress never gave him a big enough share of the federal budget for adequate flood prevention.

the army is on the scene and reportedly doing a great job—the national guard's job.

the latest is that a lot of gops in the US capitol just voted against emergency funds.

my contribution to the tower of babel aims at national issues. i don't live in louisiana: it's not up to me to advise state and local folk about their politicos.

all i have to say is

1) the refugee/american issue is obviously a red herring meant to divert attention and media time into debating the meaning of "is" yet again;

2) the port of south louisiana is way too vital to the country to delay a federal response pending a state request;

3) devastation crossed state lines, so it's a federal issue that shouldn't have needed a state request;

4) the prez had already declared an emergency, so the normal need to wait for a governor's request did not exist; and

5) the investigation can wait till all is done that can be done to end the emergency.

be careful what you pray for dept.: daily show scoops me again

i don't know why i didn't notice till jon stewart pointed it out, but pat robertson's televised public prayer to his lord to create another supreme court vacancy appears to have been answered by the death of the chief justice.

well done, pat! you've proven the validity of your credentials as a certified holy man, after all.

acts of god

why do humans blame natural calamities on god?

forces of nature may ultimately be what we call "god," but they're the mindless part, not conscious doers.

since i'm not even a religionist—let alone a supernaturalist—i shouldn't have to tell believers that in human affairs god is spiritual, not physical.

specifically, god is your conscience—or if you want to get picky: conscience is the voice of god.

your main job on the spiritual plane is to learn to follow conscience. you know: let it be your guide!

and the purpose of prayer isn't to get god to do things, but to order your mind—to configure your mental and emotional software so you heed conscience and follow it.

another good one from sirreene

check it out

Thursday, September 08, 2005

i used to be a cynic, but...

...not too many months ago, i changed.

i was watching some right-winger ranting on tv. i don't even recall who it was, but from his body language and tone of voice i suddenly realized he sincerely believed what he wanted was best for the country.

he was wrong, of course. his grasp of history, fundamental american political theory, and the strategy of terror was grievously flawed, but he truly thought he knew whereof he spoke.

up till then i often assumed men like him just want to wield power, and that their particular agenda is calculatedly chosen to further that end. for example, they often choose conventional "wisdom" over a well-reasoned position on an issue, apparently because the commonplace appeals to a broader constituency, so conventionality automatically brings support (thus, power).

partly as a result of such behavior, common sense has gotten a bad name among otherwise right-minded people. once when i said our leaders should use it, two people said common sense isn't a good thing: people used to think earth was flat because of it.

no. flat earth was a commonplace idea, never a common sense one. common sense means looking around and observing moving objects appear and disappear over the horizon. it tells you right away that the surface must be curved. yet millions believed otherwise, because they unthinkingly accepted the commonplace, aka conventional "wisdom."

cynicism is the belief that people are motivated only by selfishness and are therefore insincere in their motives and actions.

i've come to believe that—tho there may be some real hypocrites around—GIGO is at least as widespread as selfishness, and murphy's law spreads it further every day.

i still think the "right" spreads phobias thru behavior modification (conditioning by association and repetition) via media, but i don't think they do it intentionally or mean-spiritedly. it's just that they're phobic too, and their phobias are contagious—in part—BECAUSE they're sincere.

thanx darlin'

sirreene sent this link to a year-old national geographic warning re louisiana marsh and new orleans' vulnerability. it is eerily close to what happened.

title is also strangely familiar, but it has a lot more info than i posted here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

freedom's just another word

a washington journal caller today said she's not a big bush fan but cited freerepublic.com favorably then criticized c-span for reading criticism of bush from the ny times—one of 5 newspapers read or quoted from up to that point in the show—which she made clear she considers biased and untrustworthy.

so host steve scully asked her opinion of some criticism of bush he then read from well-known neocon john podhoretz in the ny post, a notoriously pro-gop paper (and major component of the gop noise machine) owned by rupert murdoch, who also owns fox(666)news (an even bigger part of said noise machine).

the caller responded with something like: see, you did it again—bush bashing.

wherefore art thou oprah?

it was commendable that oprah winfrey insisted on going into the superdome when officials tried to stop her, but—unless it was edited out—she didn't try to talk to anybody still living inside the stadium, and that was disappointing.

not refugees?!!!!!?!?!?

a few days ago a caller said displaced new orleanians shouldn't be called "refugees."

i don't recall if i heard it on washington journal or talk of the nation, but i think my first reaction was "huh?" so i checked a dictionary. the definition was "one who flees for safety." it gave "to escape political oppression or war" as examples of causes of the flight, but it also gave "danger."

the caller was a phobic bush defender who seemed to think the word "refugee" was being used by liberals to make georgie-boy look bad.

yesterday the sainted leader himself took up the refrain, so i guess it may've been repeated and amplified by the gop noise machine: "they're not refugees! they're americans!" he said emphatically, as if the two categories are mutually exclusive.

can't we get some rationality into the rhetoric?

of course they're americans.

they're also refugees.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

here's another one

closer to my own views.

other views on NO

i'm willing to hear both sides, so here's a link to a blogger who thinks nobody should complain about how the guvmint handles the emergency.

it has some comments worth reading.

md or not md

yesterday bbc news went into new orleans and found a physician in the street who said he was sorry to say he was the only doctor in central NO.

i just heard fidel castro offered to send 1100 doctors a few days ago.

did we accept?




a lil history

here's a link to a good slate post kirk sent me.

gone with the flood?

a decade after the british actress vivien leigh achieved international stardom as scarlett o'hara in the film of margaret mitchell's civil war novel gone with the wind, she took over the role (created by jessica tandy) of blanche dubois, a piteous caricature of scarlett, in the third—i think—broadway season of tennessee williams' play a streetcar named desire, set in 20th century new orleans.

i presume director elia kazan gets credit for casting leigh in both the stage and screen versions of streetcar, a brilliant—and perhaps even prophetic—stroke, because the two heroines taken together can be viewed as a dual personification of the american south, once proud and defiant, now depending on the kindness of strangers as much as blanche's final exit line says she always has.

as the ravishing scarlett, leigh loved and lost the biggest hollywood male sex symbol of the time (clark gable). then in real life she married the greatest shakesperian actor of the time (laurence olivier) and onstage played cleopatra, who loved two of the most powerful men of her time. then as the faded blanche she got ravished by the new biggest hollywood male sex symbol (marlon brando), lost her grip on reality, and got carted off to an asylum. then she played lady macbeth—who went insane and died—onstage. her real life ended only a dozen years later at age 54, apparently after a period of nymphomania and time in a mental institution.

new orleans has long been the hub of the south, both in commerce and culture. south louisiana is by far the nation's busiest seaport and #3 in the world in tonnage handled. traffic funnels thru it not only to and from much of the south, but to and from virtually all the old louisiana territory. the state is a leader in oil, gas, sulfur, and salt production. its farms produce large crops of cotton, rice, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and pecans. the city, the delta, and the bayou country are all world-famous for their food, their music, and their eccentricities.

yet louisiana is one of the poorest states, and new orleans has twice the national poverty rate.

new orleans was exotic, glamorous, decadent, and, finally, fading. doesn't it strike you as somewhat pathetic—no matter how humorous the intent—that female mardi gras celebrants would bare their breasts for a string of plastic beads?

only time will tell if life imitates art so much that new orleans ends its life in asylum, like vivien leigh and blanche dubois.

well, i tried not to write over the holiday weekend, but...

...so much happened.

i kept getting ideas and just saving a few key words to remind me, but eventually i lost control and had to write more.

results below.

weather terror error—or not

new orleans' first line hurricane defense is the marshland of the mississippi delta between the city and the gulf of mexico.

at least that was the case before much of the wetland turned into open water.

see, storms absorb heat from open water and so gain energy and wind speed. when wind beats against land, the ground (including wetlands) sucks energy out of the high-speed air and slows it down.

the delta got built up over countless eons from silt deposited by the mississippi every time it overflowed its banks in spring. rain continually washes soil from the delta into the gulf, but it got replenished by river floods.

when the french settled there 300 years ago, they soon had a flood. knowing what happens once can happen again, they built a little wall. it kept them dry a few years, then the river changed course and went around the levee, so they extended it. that cycle continued till the levee reached its present length.

it got so long it prevents most flooding in the delta. the river carries more silt into the gulf, where it fouls water and makes it harder for fish and other marine species to live and reproduce, which also makes life harder for birds that live on fish, such as louisiana's state bird, the brown pelican.

since its eroded soil no longer gets replenished by floods, the wetland is shrinking. it now loses an area the size of manhattan EVERY YEAR.

open water area has also grown from canals drillers dug to get to oil and natural gas, bring in equipment, and so forth. oil companies have also buried thousands of miles of underground pipelines that crisscross the wetlands. soil loss is exposing them to seawater. they were designed to be under the delta, not in the gulf of mexico. oil spills have already killed a lot of pelicans and other creatures. a lot more will suffer and die every time a pipe bursts.

so, as hurricanes gain in strength and frequency from warmer waters, new orleans grows more exposed, and as the ecology gets more vulnerable, potential for disaster grows.

ain't civilization wonderful?

squeeze, squeeze me

i am a sponge.

i soak up information and squeeze it out again.

but twixt soak up and squeeze out, i digest and assimilate and reconfigure so it comes out in a new way.

i hope it's as good for you as it is for me.

under church: the logic of faith

book tv just televised marc leepson speaking a couple months ago on his new book, flag: an american biography.

in response to a question on how the cold war affected how we treat the flag, he briefly mentioned how "under god" got into the pledge of allegiance.

he said attempts—at least some of them motivated by a desire to stress america's contrast to "godless communism"—had been made to add the phrase, starting soon after ww2, but they failed till president eisenhower join the fray in 1954.

it seems ike was at church one sunday, and in the sermon the minister commented on the absence of god in the pledge, saying something like: russian children could say this pledge.

so ike got congress to add the words that divided "one nation indivisible."

i can't help wondering why—even without god—russian kids would say "i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america...."

chef juge (pardon my french)

i never imagined i'd say this, but i wish wm rehnquist had lived long enough to preside at another impeachment.

i wonder if the guy he put in office—my intended defendant—gave sandra day o'connor a chance to stay on as the first female chief before he upgraded her heir apparent, forcing her to serve longer as a mere associate.

of course, she put him in office too, so she shares the blame, and she made her retirement contingent on confirmation of a successor, so she knew she might have to serve longer, but at the pace things were moving she must've got her hopes up that she'd be able to leave dc sooner to be with her sick husband.

as for the departed, in all of his last public appearances it must've been obvious he was on his last legs, so he could've saved the country some inconvenience if he'd announced his retirement at the same time as sandy day.

but that's not how it works, is it? most folk don't want to face death, so they don't admit to themselves that it's near. from what i've heard, fdr did essentially the same thing when he ran for reelection in '44.

human nature....

Friday, September 02, 2005

3-day weekend

happy labor day, y'all!

ok, this should be interesting

i sent guncite.com (a pro-gun site) a link to my graph, along with this text:

found this statement: "our homicide rate is at a thirty year low and still declining" on ur site.

u neglected to mention the steady decline began in 1994, right after passage of the brady bill (federal gun control).

heh heh.

they sent back the url hidden in the link field at the top of this post (so click there to read it) along with the text:

"heh heh"

getting the last laugh by quoting my own laugh back at me, or something, i guess.

trouble is, they only made my case stronger.

see, the info linked to guncite includes an article that "proves" california's tough state gun control law had no effect or even made things worse before the brady bill became law, but homicide rates fell faster there than nationally after brady.

that's the very point!

without federal gun control, it's easier to buy guns in some states than others. guns easily bought outside california could get illegally carried into the state (where demand was likely to be high since guns were hard to get) and sold at high prices (since demand was high), then get used in crimes.

after the passage of brady, it got harder to get guns EVERYWHERE, so homicide rates dropped fast EVERYWHERE, especially places where tough laws already existed and finally had a fair chance to show their effectiveness on a level playing field.

N.O. response

back in '02, when gwb beat his wardrum louder and louder while at the same time insisting to the american people and congress and the UN that he didn't want war, at first i thought war a foregone conclusion, but then i heard somebody on tv—maybe chris matthews or charlie rose—ask a guest if war was inevitable or was bush playing poker, so i thought maybe that was it: bush might be bluffing to get saddam to let inspectors in, and congress's force authorization resolution might be part of the bluff, like a union passing a strike vote when they don't want to strike but want to put more pressure on management at the bargaining table, so maybe i should give bush the benefit of the doubt.

then he started calling up the national guard.

i thought: isn't this carrying the bluff a bit far? i mean, he's sending folk overseas, pulling them out of jobs, disrupting families, obstructing commerce....

it never occurred to me that we might also need the guard at home for an emergency.

then i thought, well, it's a little far-fetched, but maybe he thinks he has to make it ultra-realistic to convince saddam it's no bluff.

then saddam let the inspectors in, but bush didn't deactivate the guard, and i was fast losing hope for peace, but i thought maybe he wants to keep the pressure on so saddam won't turn round and kick out the inspectors as soon as he thinks he's in the clear....

then came all the bushit about aluminum tubes and mobile labs and uranium from africa, and most of it got debunked by blix and elbaradei yet powell repeated it anyway, but bush said he didn't want regime change, just to disarm saddam, so i kept hoping he was telling the truth for once....

then all the bush leaguers dropped the pretense and started talking regime change, then bush gave saddam 3 days to get out of town then tried to off him 2 days later and then invaded.

fast forward 2 years, 5 months.

here's that emergency i didn't think of, but i don't run the government, so it's not my job to be ready for stuff like that. it's bush's job, cheney's job, hastert's job, frist's job.

where's the money and manpower?

georgie-boy calls up his old man and his other favorite ex-prez to raise funds again.

the guard are still in iraq.

the rest of this is worth reading too (just click anywhere up here)

As proponents of stronger gun laws point out, the proof is in the numbers. "If the gun lobby's argument that giving everybody guns would make us a safer society were true, America would be the safest place on earth," said Jacques of the Massachusetts Senate. "And it's not."

re inconvenience

sorry to add a security word verification thing to "comments," but all those gratuitous machine-generated compliments re my writing (always followed by links to commercial sites) no longer boost my ego, let alone testosterone (which i save 4 hard times n doing my part 2 undermine d institution o marriage as much as a str8 man can).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

gun redux

apparently some nra sympathizer didn't think much of my spectacular multicolored homemade graph comparing homicide rates after the reintroduction of the death penalty to rates after the first federal gun control law passed, so here's a link to the justice department's stats.

read'em n weep, sucker!

god's judgment: saddam & gomorleans

has jerry falwell chimed in on the devastation of new orleans with one of his righteous pronouncements yet?

clearly he can't "point the finger" at the aclu this time, but it won't surprise me if he tries to blame gays.

nor would i be surprised if bible thumpers find a sodom-gomorrah parallel to n'york and n'orleans, with terrorists and mother nature in place of fire and brimstone. the bible belt has long regarded both cities as large-scale dens of iniquity.

of course, they feel the same way about los angeles, san francisco, paris, amsterdam, rome, all of sweden, and i don't know how many other places, so it'll never end.

on the flip side are all those who insist on repeating the same errors ad infinitum. i've already heard the quasi-defiant promise—i think it was from ted koppel last night (tho i don't know how much his cheerleading counts for along the gulf coast)—that n'orleans "will be back!"

it's not too different from the determination of some new yorkers to thumb their noses at bin laden by erecting a new skyscraper on ground zero.

personally, i think the best tribute to the victims of 9/11 would be to keep the twin beams of light rising—thank you, boss!—into the sky every night, perhaps from a tree-lined plaza.

as for the big easy, i know a lot of folk love the place, but this disaster is far worse than 9/11. i can't see why anybody in their right mind would want to live below sea level [elevation ranges from -4 to +15 feet, but i've heard most is minus], in a place so exposed to 'canes [louisiana got hit in 1856, 1901, '06, '09, '15, '16, '18, '19, '20, '23, '26, '33, '34, '38, '40, '41, '42, '43, '47, '48, '56, '57, '60, '61, '64, '65, '69, '71, '74, '77, '79, '85, '86, '88, '92, '95, '96, '97, '98, maybe more], separated from the vast power of the ocean by what has proven to be an all too fragile embankment [tho it does appear the levee breach is at the lake, not the gulf—but that word might not be final].

i hope it's legal to steal this from the n.y.times

Instead of spending more than $1 million a year on publishing books and articles for non-scientists and on other public relations efforts, the Discovery Institute should finance its own peer-reviewed electronic journal. This way, the organization could live up to its self-professed image: the doughty defenders of brave iconoclasts bucking the establishment.

For now, though, the theory they are promoting is exactly what George Gilder, a long-time affiliate of the Discovery Institute, has said it is: "Intelligent design itself does not have any content."

Since there is no content, there is no "controversy" to teach about in biology class. But here is a good topic for a high school course on current events and politics: Is intelligent design a hoax? And if so, how was it perpetrated?

—Daniel C. Dennett, a professor of philosophy at Tufts University, author of "Freedom Evolves" and "Darwin's Dangerous Idea."

Iraq most expensive US war in the past 60 years

check it out

today's 2nd amendment scorecard

1 cop wounded
1 national guardsman wounded
1 helicopter shot at

& the saints go marching out