Friday, September 30, 2005

Spooks (the ghostly kind)

Interesting story about some of the unusual distractions down in The Big Easy.......

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Drudge School of Journalism

That bastion of solid reporting, the National E and their lastest "breaking news". Did they get the phrase "the [insert publication name here] can reveal" from Drudge or he from them?

Information Overload

I'd say there is such a thing as too much information; for example, letting airline passengers watch the fate of their crippled jetliner discussed on live TV news while they circle the airport as the pilots attempt to correct it and burn off fuel. Mercifully the feed was shut off (though probably as the SOP ending of in flight entertainment prior to landing) before the successful emergency landing. I expect new in-flight cabin procedures to be discussed in the next meeting today!

UPDATE: Guess I was wrong!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On Being Juvenile

As my reader knows I'm no fan of W. But this photo of a note he wrote in a U.N. Security Council meeting recently asking Condi Rice the proper protocol to excuse himself for a bathroom break is asinine and childish. The press has nothing more important to cover??


An amusing quote of Mark Twain, in today's Dowd:

"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Most Bizarre Photos Collection I

Anna Marie Cox (aka Wonkette) snuggling up to Katherine Harris????? (Ms. Cox's hidden text: "im [sic] sure we both washed after". oops!) What the heck's going on with Harris' face of late? Campaign-itis?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Foie Gras

In what I hope will be just the start of a focus on animal food, another state is taking a critical look at the production of foie gras. Could veal be next?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Human Parity

It is so sad seeing the continuing violence in Iraq underplayed in the US. These are innocent people, like the folks in the gulf coast, being killed for no reason. Are they less "human" than Americans?

Update: And it continues. Can you say "mass graves"?

House of Cards

Michael Chertoff lost any credibility he had yesterday with the abrupt resignation of FEMA chief Michael Brown. His defensive denial of Brown's performance being in question ("he has a LARGER job to do in D.C.!") obviously was a smokescreen. While this type of whitewash is common in public life, he made it worse by not repeating the same drivel when crossed by reporters (who seem to have grown cajones of late). He said in an arrogant way "I don't know how I could have been more clear in English!"

UPDATE: Turns out Chertoff, not Brown was the guy with the go/no-go power during the hurricane.

Monday, September 12, 2005


There was a heartening piece on 60 Minutes last night regarding the New Orleans police department and their experience after Katrina. Although there was a bit about the nearly 1/3 of the department which seems to be AWOL (let's wait to hear the whole story), much of it was about how people treat other people in a crisis where near lawlessness and anarchy occurs. The home and meal sharing example was priceless. Kudos to the "real" 60 Minutes (not the dumbed down Wednesday version) for airing this. It is important to see the local response for a change in addition to knowing that "Brownie" was doing a "heck of a job!".

Scary, Part I

Sean Penn roaming a lawless disaster area with a gun???!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

And of Course.......... memory of all those innocent victims, their friends, and their families of the September 11, 2001 tragedy.

Another Sad Passing.......

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
April 18, 1924 - September 10, 2005

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fascism Begins at Home

Incredible. As W cruises through his (thankfully) final term, he and his ilk continue to push the edge of the accountability, this time with regard to a US tragedy. Having successfully stifled adequate coverage of the tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of the innocent killed in Iraq, as well as prevented pictures of US soldiers killed there from being published (and therefore to prevent a faster decline of support for his war), he now figured the same thing would work at home. Apparently the feds tried to prevent the media from covering the recovery of the dead in Mississippi and Louisiana after the hurricane, presumably to suppress the swelling outrage at their bungling of the rescue effort (amusingly, they said it was to protect the "dignity of the dead"..... ahhhh, right.....). Fortunately for us this time one media organization had the chutzpah to successfully call them on it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Fear Factor

Jon Stewart (again!) had a guest on The Daily Show the other night, a Dr. Marc Siegel (see his new book at right, and his web site). He talked about the way potential threats are reported to us, by both the government and the media. This is not a partisan issue, it has been going on for decades (tho the bushies are better at it than others). It is more a cultural issue, fed by mass/instant media. Every "threat", AIDS, SARS, "terrorism", mad cow, anthrax, North Korea, USSR, Communism, killer bees, etc., etc. are presented as a threat for each of us equally, and as an equal threat relative to each other. The result is we are not ready for the real issues, like Katrina. Give it a look.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Shut Up!

Jon Stewart had great, succinct advice on his Daily Show last night for the righties who are clamoring to vilify the local leadership in Louisiana and New Orleans while defending the federal government's response: Shut Up! (I would have told them "Shut the fuck up!") Thank you for summing it up so concisely, Jon!

The stiffie M.O. goes like this: you paste over bad news (especially if they feel helpless to fix the problem) by first shooting the messenger, then blaming the victims for being, well, victims! This is a very effective strategy because the majority of Americans have never victimized as a disaster victim, or a messenger. So a percentage of them naturally throw up their hands and say "I can't relate to this or fix it, so it must be someone else's fault!?" Of course the end result is that the victims don't get desperately needed assistance while the argument rages.

The mayor of The Big Easy does not come across well, I don't know if he is a good guy or bad guy. And the governor, same deal. But I do know this for sure: there is only one entity in the USA capable of providing significant relief to people in a disaster of this magnitude, and that is the Feds. You can sort out later who did what to whom, and why. The real folks need help now.

But what the stiffies miss, with their ultimate "christian" compassion, is that life is real for some people; misery needs relief right now, not after some commission exonerates the righties of accountability. For them its all about ideological spin, not real life.

One of the other successful mantras of the stiffies (which the bleeders still don't get) is that the more you repeat a "talking point", the more it is true. Thank god an organization recently printed the TRUE ACTUAL chain of events, lest we be misled again by the extreme right:


Friday, Aug. 26: Gov. Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency in Louisiana and requests troop assistance.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Gov. Blanco asks for federal state of emergency. A federal emergency is declared giving federal officials the authority to get involved.

Sunday, Aug. 28: Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. President Bush warned of Levee failure by National Hurricane Center. National Weather Service predicts area will be "uninhabitable" after Hurricane arrives. First reports of water toppling over the levee appear in local paper.

Monday, Aug. 29: Levee breaches and New Orleans begins to fill with water, Bush travels to Arizona and California to discuss Medicare. FEMA chief finally responds to federal emergency, dispatching employees but giving them two days to arrive on site.

Tuesday, Aug. 30:
Mass looting reported, security shortage cited in New Orleans. Pentagon says that local authorities have adequate National Guard units to handle hurricane needs despite governor's earlier request. Bush returns to Crawford for final day of vacation. TV coverage is around-the-clock Hurricane news.

Wednesday, Aug. 31: Tens of thousands trapped in New Orleans including at Convention Center and Superdome in "medieval" conditions. President Bush finally returns to Washington to establish a task force to coordinate federal response. Local authorities run out of food and water supplies.

Thursday, Sept. 1: New Orleans descends into anarchy. New Orleans Mayor issues a "Desperate SOS" to federal government. Bush claims nobody predicted the breach of the levees despite multiple warnings and his earlier briefing.

Friday, Sept. 2:
Karl Rove begins Bush administration campaign to blame state and local officials—despite their repeated requests for help. Bush stages a photo-op—diverting Coast Guard helicopters and crew to act as backdrop for cameras. Levee repair work orchestrated for president's visit and White House press corps.

Saturday, Sept. 3: Bush blames state and local officials. Senior administration official (possibly Rove) caught in a lie claiming Gov. Blanco had not declared a state of emergency or asked for help.

Monday, Sept. 5: New Orleans officials begin to collect their dead.

What Am I Missing??!

OK, I'll admit I don't have a horse in the Gay Marriage race (other than being supportive of human rights). But I'm struggling with two things.

First, the righties complained that "activist" judges were usurping the will of the people by enabling gay marriage outside of the legislative process. Now California lawmakers have voted to support such unions, and the rightie celebrity figurehead of the state has threatened veto, saying this is a judicial, not a legislative matter. I guess its still the ideology, not the reality, that counts. BTW, California represents nearly 12% of the nation's population.

The second is more complex. Why does one feel that a shift in the traditional definition of marriage threatens the "sanctity" or value of his or her own marriage? Isn't my own marriage my partner's and mine to define and mold? If I own a $2M showcase home, is the value of it to me diminished if someone describes their tree-fort as a home? Or do I even have the right to define another's home as merely a tree-fort? I guess this fits with the rightie need to force their beliefs on others.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

An Easy Target

OK, I can't resist publishing this photo of John Roberts acting as a pallbearer for the man he's proposed to replace; I understand why he is there as a former Rehnquist clerk. But it still has irresistibly partisan political undertones.........

UPDATE: I mean no disrespect to Chief Justice Rehnquist. He was a classy and caring conservative. But the media display we have seen puts all opinions in play.

Lunch Meat

Unfortunately, this blog has become the target of what's known as "comment spam". I have 3 choices at this point: One, let it be. Two, restrict comments to registered folk or three, require word verification for comments. I have chosen word verification as the best option, I apologize for the inconvenience.

First Things First

The rightie online "media" and bloggers are abuzz regarding Katrina, gleefully defending their dolt in D.C. ("American Left Admits Bush is God, Responsible For Hurricane!") and just as gleefully summing up the problem in their typical simplistic ideological ways: Black Mayor failed his black constituents. Lawlessness like this has never happened before in natural disasters. Sure its bad, but crime cannot be justified. Something must be basically wrong with the residents of The Big Easy. And my fave, the liberal media is not showing us the positive pics from the Gulf Coast, just the negative (couldn't they at least put some makeup on that corpse first??).

But there's some truth to some of the questions raised and John Tierney more intelligently raises them in his column today. Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco should and will face their day in court for their utter lack of adequate planning and pre-storm execution.

However, he misses the point. Once it became apparent that this was a major catastrophe and people were suffering and dying (like, monday afternoon??), FEMA and other federal assets should have been in the mayor's and governor's face. But instead what we heard was the familiar litany of bureaucratic excuses and fingerpointing, and laments about the inaccessibility of New Orleans (should have hitched a ride with the "news" organizations). And lets not even talk about the fact that 40% of the local national guard and 50% of their equipment are in........ mess-opotamia......

Pet Peeve # 276

People who thoughtfully leave their garbage in shopping carts (coffee cups, doughnut wrappers, used Kleenex etc.). "Hey, I'm done with it!".

Monday, September 05, 2005

Walking the Talk, Part I

Pet peeve # 447:

The original expression made sense: Do you walk the talk; that is to say, do your intentions mirror you words? Do your actions support your rhetoric?

From there it degenerated into a lazy "if you talk the talk, do you walk the walk?". And then, a meaningless "he walks the walk and talks the talk!"

Walking the Talk, Part II

For nearly 4 years about half of the USA has been successfully hoodwinked by well organized rhetoric surrounding "national security" and the infamous "war on terrorism". They have willingly given up traditional rights believing this was the only way to protect us against the "tearists" ("the government must know what's right!". Can you say "1930s Germany?"). They have willingly spent hundreds of billions of dollars invading a country which posed absolutely no threat to the US, and turned a blind eye to the death and misery visited upon its innocent citizens in their name. And they cheered approvingly as the US government turned upon traditional allies simply because their leaders tried to help a friend see that they were going down the wrong path.

This half gladly supported these and other dangerous and immoral policies because they believed two things would result: First, Iraq would become a stable democracy whose influence would spread through the region. This would be done with minimal cost (paid for by Iraqi oil revenues) and minimal loss of US soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians. Second, we would be safer at home.

The half of us who knew from the beginning that this smokescreen was pure criminal folly watched in shock and horror as the other half voted twice in support of this.

A portion of the dark side will always blindly support W's policies, unless reality suddenly invades their ideological trance (such as losing a loved one in Iraq). But something is gradually happening with the rest. For months now the horror and disaster that is Iraq has begun to dawn on more people. $200B+, 2,000 US soldiers and 100K innocent civilian deaths later Iraq is as or more deadly and chaotic than it ever was. People are beginning to realize that happy talk from the Ws does not jibe with the reality on the ground in Iraq. And homeland security? Well, witness the third world situation the developed in the good ole' US of A last week as the federal government remained virtually paralyzed last week for 4 days after hurricane Katrina after it laid waste the gulf coastal areas of Mississippi, leaving thousands to suffer and die with no hope.

This inexcusable failure to respond (indeed the poorest response to a national tragedy in recent history), plus the recent revelation that they have also been dismantling the Army Corps' levee reinforcement program for southwestern Louisiana could not better demonstrate what the Ws have been up to despite their assurances to the contrary: the dismantling and mismanagement of programs and agencies which provide necessary services to real people (like FEMA, which is a skeleton of its former self). And the cynical response since demonstrates that we can expect continue to expect the engineered decline in social and humanitarian to continue for the foreseeable future.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Worst of Times, the Best of Times

Lots of fingers will be pointing over the next few months about whether the W's diverted SELA funds away from the Army Corps' ability to protect the wonderful, delicate city of New Orleans to fund their adventure in Iraq. And there will be endless recriminations regarding the confusion and delay in the government response to this disaster. "Homeland Security" seems to have taken a BIG step backward since 9/11.

Already the righties are showing their true compassionate and sensitive colors: Rightie columnists condemning the French for not offering assistance (not true, though I think the actual hurricane may have formed off the coast of France....), Speaker Hastert publicly questioning the wisdom of rebuilding the city (worth raising, but not two days after the event while people are still suffering and dying), FEMA Director Michael Brown saying residents who did not heed the mandatory evacuation have themselves to blame (again, see response to last comment; plus, many simply could not or had nowhere to go), and of course the usual plethora of nonsense from W (one of my faves was in response to the looming national fuel shortage, "Don't buy gas if you don't need to"; tres inspiring!). All that's missing so far is a quote from Pat Robertson that god is punishing The Big Easy for its hedonistic culture....

But as always, regular people come through. Millions of dollars have been donated this week, millions more will come. People have been opening their homes to the displaced. And scores have sacrificed their time and comforts so that others' pain and discomfort may be lessened. Will the pols be inspired? I suppose if Terri Schiavo showed up in a New Orleans hospital, maybe........