Thursday, September 29, 2005

Out of Town
I'm gone until Media Monday. Former guest posters should feel free to post anything they like over the weekend to keep the place hopping. But if there's nothing new here, how about visit the excellent blogs of a few friends of Article 19?
Doug's Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death
Have a great weekend and cheer on the Red Sox..4 games to go. If they win any 3, they will take first place from the Yanks. Win only 2 and they could easily be out of the playoffs altogether. Win only 1 and they most surely will be sitting the postseason out.
How else can they screw up?
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of (straight) guys...the Washington Post on the Grand Old Party:
On almost every front, Republicans see trouble. Bush is at the low point of his presidency, with Iraq, hurricane relief, rising gasoline prices and another Supreme Court vacancy all problems to be solved. Congressional Republicans have seen their approval ratings slide throughout the spring and summer; a Washington Post-ABC News poll in August found that just 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating in eight years.

On the ethics front, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is under investigation for selling stock in his family's medical business just before the price fell sharply. The probe of well-connected lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a former close associate of DeLay, threatens to create even more troubles for Republicans. Finally, the special counsel investigation into whether White House senior adviser Karl Rove or others in the administration broke the law by leaking the name of the CIA's Valerie Plame is nearing a conclusion.
Iraq is completely falling apart, and the American economy is showing signs of cracking. Meanwhile, every Republican leader is engaged in personal political damage control. Good work, guys.
Dreier Shut Out
24 hours ago we were all hearing that Congressman David Dreier would be Delay's "temporary" replacement as Majority leader. Now, Roy Blunt has suddenly stepped in instead. Speculation is rampant that the reason for this switcheroo is Dreier's well-known (even if not to him) homosexuality.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

5 to go
Red Sox are still tied with the Yanks and the Indians, and Boston really is on TV tonight--ESPN. By Monday, it will all be over, except maybe a play-in game. Personally, I'm hoping it's all decided in the Sox's favor by the time the last game comes around. I don't think Schilling's up for that weight.
More Bob Dylan Talk
I thought last night's Part II of the Scorsese documentary was better than the first. Really remarkable footage. A few thoughts:

1. Al Kooper's description of how he met Mike Bloomfield at the Rolling Stone session, and how he snuck his way in as organist on that track was hilarious and maybe my favorite part of the whole film. And his admission that he was fearful for his own safety during the subsequent touring was a telling instruction about just how much animosity existed among Dylan's "fans" at that time.

2. Media reporters today can't hold a candle to reporters of the mid-60s in terms of asking the stupidest imaginable questions (though Charlie Rose gave it a run in the post doc interview). The press conferences Dylan had to endure, somewhat like the famous Beatles Q & A sessions but Dylan had to do it alone, would be enough to make anyone insane. My favorite was when one asked him how many of the other singers out there, if he knew, were interested in conveying a message. Dylan said about 136. What else can you say? So, the enterprising reporter, not knowing or caring that he was being made fun of, followed up to nail Dylan down. "so you're saying 'about 136' or 'exactly 136?'" The nonsense was unbelievable.

3. He was so young. If you saw last night's chapter, you heard Scorsese himself read from the text of Dylan's "acceptance" speech for an award he was given by the Emergency Civil Liberties Union. The whole thing is even more surprising than the parts that were read. Naturally, the group - which should have known better - was offended. Even more interesting though, scroll down and read his follow-up reply, addressing the concerns of the organization. He was 22 years old, tormented, uncomfortable, driven. After watching the whole thing, and thinking about how much his song-writing has changed, I wonder if he didn't ultimately sacrifice some of his poetic intensity for the chance to live somewhat more comfortably with the rest of us. Only a rarely focused soul--maybe Allen Ginsburg?--could maintain that kind of intensity for a lifetime, and doubtful he could have under the public pressures Dylan faced. And all Bob wanted was a band to help soften the blow.

4. Folk fans are really rabid. Some of it was like attack of the norman rockwell painting. Very bizarre. And it was kind of scary to watch an embarassed Seeger clearly lie through his teeth to explain away his angry reaction at Newport as being merely over bad sound quality. Every other interviewed eyewitness to those events contradicted him and painted him as wildly angry over the music.

5. There are any number of stanzas I could point to, but today my head is swimming with this:
Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An' the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
and this:
Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin' you to defy it
What kind of 23-year-old mind envisions sky-cracked poems of church bells, singing their own beatitudes of justice and freedom, through the clanging of "wild ripping hail"? I know, it's easy to make fun of him now, and I'm tempted. But any writer with the catalog of songs he has to his credit is deserving of better. I'll write thousands of entries here before I'm done, and who knows maybe a bushel of songs if I'm lucky, but will never manage a truth so beautifully said as hundreds of his.

I had an important professor who taught me that a composer can be genius with just one moment. (Yes, I remember lots of them: McCoy Tyner's, Stevie Wonder's, Mozart's Dissonant Quartet opening, the crazy E-flats in Beethoven's F Major scherzo, If I Fell intro, the first 3 seconds of Tropicalia 2, Willie Nelson copying Paul Simon copying Bach copying someone nobody remembers, Ornette...everywhere) One perfect moment/chord/turn of phrase/well-chosen verb in just the right place. That's how hard it can be to do, and how great it is when it's accomplished. Dylan did it time after time.
Anti-war Wizard
Thanks to a reader for emailing this speech made at the recent war protest rally in DC. I have to admit I'm mostly with Kos on this one - mass protests like this have become so self-parodying as to be pretty inconsequential (I hope I'm wrong about that). But this must have been a real highlight, and perhaps the makings of a new leader in the liberal ranks. Etan Thomas played college basketball at Syracuse, and now for the Washington Wizards in the NBA. His fabulous speech proposed taking Republican leader/blowhards and dropping them off in "the 'hood" to start their lives over.
I’d employ them with jobs with little security, let them know how it feels to be an employee at will, able to be fired at the drop of a hat. I’d take away their opportunities, then try their children as adults, sending their 13-year-old babies to life in prison. I’d sell them dreams of hopelessness while spoon-feeding their young with a daily dose of inferior education. I’d tell them no child shall be left behind, then take more money out of their schools, tell them to show and prove themselves on standardized exams testing their knowledge on things that they haven’t been taught, and then I’d call them inferior.

I’d soak into their interior notions of endless possibilities. I’d paint pictures of assisted productivity if they only agreed to be all they can be, dress them up with fatigues and boots with promises of pots of gold at the end of rainbows, free education to waste terrain on those who finish their bid. Then I’d close the lid on that barrel of fool’s gold by starting a war, sending their children into the midst of a hostile situation, and while they're worried about their babies being murdered and slain in foreign lands, I’d grace them with the pain of being sick and unable to get medicine.
But, Etan goes pretty easy on them really. He doesn't send even 1 devastating hurricane to wash away what little they would have to their name. Read the whole thing. It's great.
The second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives,
Tom DeLay, said on Wednesday he would step aside temporarily from his leadership post following an indictment on a campaign-finance charge.

A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, indicted DeLay on a single felony conspiracy charge related to fund-raising activities by a political action committee he created, CNN and the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported.
Let's Play Hockey
Sports Illustrated ranks the Nashville Predators 5th in the entire league going into this season. They have a chance to be good, but that's a bit of pressure, no? Just squeaked into the playoffs (meaning top 16 in the NHL) last season. Still...woohoo!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Supreme Court Cases
The list is out of cases to be heard in the new term, which begins Monday. Included are 4 first amendment cases, a search-and-seizure case, and--no kidding--Anna Nicole Smith's bid to receive a share of her late husband's estate. No word on whether her actual dopey lawyer, the improbably named Howard Stern who starred in her reality show, will actually make the argument.

Via ScotusBlog's Blog Roundup, At ElectionLaw Blog, Rick Hasen believes the court's decision in 2 campaign-finance-related cases will go a long way toward informing us of Justice Roberts' true beliefs about precedent. The First Amendment Center discusses the 4 First Amendment cases on the bill.
Consuelo Callahan?
ACSBlog has the latest rumor of an impending Supreme Court nominee announcement. Of course, last time all the rumors were dead wrong.
Red Sox Win Game 1--UPDATED, Sorry
Doubleheader with Toronto today and the Sox won the first 3-1. Timlin didn't even give up his obligatory 9th-inning run to make it more difficult. So, Boston is tied with the Yankees again (and with Cleveland for the wild card), with 6 games to go, the last 3 head-to-head. Schilling goes tonight in game 2, on ESPN. [UPDATE: Sorry, the Sox are on ESPN tomorrow night, Wednesday, not tonight.]

I believe that puts Schilling on pace to be the starter in the last game of the season. Wells and Wakefield will be the other starters against NY.

It's a shame that, of the White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians, one of those will have to miss the playoffs. Unless it's the Yankees.
Bush Speech--Not
If you, like me, have had people sending you an "advance copy" of a speech Bush is giving today, and been shocked at its contents, you're not surprised to know that it's a joke. It's a speech Jimmy Carter gave as President. With Bush now telling us all to stop driving, that's the joke. Where did it come from? ABCNews' The Note, a daily update with a sense of humor but nonetheless a serious news source. But they gave no indication it was a joke. Jon at AmericaBLOG is not amused.

To me the funny part is the continuing Bush-Cheney flip-flopping on whether conservation really is important, a shift the Note tries to chuckle at here. The only problem, if there is one, is that it fooled some that excerpted their favorite parts and sent them around--I got a chain of those--leaving out the tell-tale phrases ("there is a malaise afflicting America.") that would have tipped off those of us over 30.

But beyond that, it's amazing to reread that Carter speech, no doubt a political mistake of the highest order, but a remarkable set of things for a President to say. Too bad the very forceful plan for energy independence was not implemented in full, and so did not work. We still face that problem, but not so much a "crisis in confidence." Unless you count this as such a beginning.

Monday, September 26, 2005

What have you been listening to, reading and watching?

Cross-Blog Question

Doug, how was Franz Ferdinand? Were you pleased with your decision?

Scorsese/Dylan Review
A compelling piece, that will make you want to watch tonight's No Direction Home even more, in the Washington Post.
Perhaps only a director of Scorsese's caliber could have produced not just a fascinating portrait of Dylan's meteoric rise but a vivid social history and an obliquely witty examination of the packaging and marketing of the folk craze in the 1960s (some scenes seem plucked directly from Christopher Guest's satire "A Mighty Wind").
We'll miss him byyyy that much
Don Adams, who gave me endless childhood laughs as Maxwell Smart, agent 86, has died at the age of, maybe, 82.

Weekend Box Office
1. Flight Plan
2. Corpse Bride
3. Just Like Heaven
4. Roll Bounce
5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Let's all go and see Nicholas Cage's Lord of War (coming in at #6). I own stock in Lions Gate Films.

Scorsese's Dylan Film starts tonight on PBS
The long-awaited (by me anyway) Bob Dylan documentary made by Martin Scorsese is a 2-parter that starts tonight on PBS. Part 2 is tomorrow. Check your local listings - it's 8 pm here in Nashville. Scorsese already made one of the best rock documentaries ever, "The Last Waltz." "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan" promises to be less contemporaneous footage and more archive, but should be fabulous. It replays at midnight here if you miss it the first time around.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Unfortunate Developments
Consider me among the anti-science crowd now.
Women are increasingly seeking inappropriate IVF treatment because they do not have the time or inclination for a sex life and want to "diarise" their busy lives.

The cost of a single IVF treatment is at least £2,500
Wealthy career women in their 30s and early 40s, some of whom have given up regular sex altogether, are turning to "medicalised conception" - despite being fertile and long before they have exhausted the possibility of a natural conception.
Dr. Tim Evans says what I have long thought:
"They are testing, testing, testing when they should just have sex."
Indeed. Please, less testing and more sex.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Credit where due?
There are plenty of reasons to criticize the President for his new hurricane efforts. As Joe notes at AmericaBlog, the White House is still operating under PR priorities, choosing not to travel to San Antonio because it's "too sunny" there. But honestly, whatever the motivations, the level of engagement Bush is showing here is exactly what we should expect from a President when we are faced with a storm that represents yet another historic threat. It should occupy all of his time and schedule, and his presence should help ensure that leaders in charge of the response are doing their jobs.

And, don't you think seeing him trying to finally claim the protection of Americans as his responsibility and priority makes his response to Katrina that much more shameful. He's at the Colorado command center; he's visiting devastated areas. Can you believe he (like Cheney, and Rice, and Chertoff) ho-hummed his way through a category 4/5 threat to one of our nation's biggest cities, and most important ports? So, I give him some credit for demonstrating the proper attention. But it highlights his absence through the last storm all that much more.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Great(er) Society Spending
Bush has surpassed LBJ as the leader in total discretionary spending growth. During Clinton's first term, spending went down 8%. In his second term, it increased a modest 8%. Bush now clocks in at 35% spending growth.

Howard Dean says it best: you can't trust Republicans with your money.
Republican War on Poor, Day 14,725
Until I have time to write this afternoon, read what Kevin has to say (and follow the links) about the GOP's exploitation of hurricanes to justify a return to their real passion: cutting from the role of government any program that would help the poor.

We know they don't really care about making government smaller. Delay says it's as small as it can be, and the President wants to balloon spending. They just don't want to spend it on poor people. Or people who are soon-to-be poor.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

If Pirates Ruled
Via BoingBoing, today's Worth photoshopping contest is "If Pirates Ruled." Some of the entries are really funny. Scroll through and check it out. My personal favorite is Christ Pirate.
Just saying...
I suppose it could be a coincidence that 2 of the 4 strongest recorded hurricanes in history have come this year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lovely Rita [UPDATED]
It would seem that nothing can come between us and another disastrous storm. And in keeping with the tradition of this blog to be relentlessly pessimistic, may I inquire discreetly: is the hazardous future of climate change now? Instead of tip-toeing toward the monumental change that global warming promises in our way of life, have we jumped in? When was the last time 2 category 4 hurricanes landed in the same month, let alone the same year? [UPDATE: Rita has been upgraded to a category 5. Egad.] And what if 2 more hit our shores before the season is up? What if the same number, or more, pound us next year? How many will it take to collectively agree that life on our coasts has changed irrevocably, no longer habitable 12 months of the year?

Those of us that believe that climate change is responsible for the increase in the number and strength of hurricanes must eventually ponder the next logical step. It will not be a one-year phenomenon. I have always assumed that great changes will eventually be necessary to deal with chronically severe weather and rising ocean levels, but with an emphasis on "eventually." What if that future is now? I know, I know, it seems a needlessly panicky, dire question, with only the 2 sisters, Rita and Katrina. We could nearly make it, with a sister or 2, but what if October brings 2 more? Shouldn't that tell us something? How would that change the equation of a long-range rebuilding strategy?

If only her eye would give us a wink, instead of the bludgeoning that seems sure to come. Thoughts and best wishes to those on the Texas coast. I wouldn't want to meet 'er.
Early this week, we heard all about the great diplomatic breakthrough that brought North Korea to agree to end their nuclear weapons programs. In fact, it was "breaking news" on CNN late in the night on Sunday. By Monday morning, reports I heard on TV and the radio tended to include a warning that there was still much work to do with US-North Korea relations, and by the evening it was being described as only a last-ditch effort to keep talks alive. Now, if it even ever was a breakthrough, it seems to have fallen apart altogether:
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said: "The US should not even dream of the issue of [North Korea's] dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing light-water reactors, a physical guarantee for confidence-building."

The Bush administration immediately rejected the demand, and said the issue would be discussed at the next round of six-party talks in November.

"This was obviously not the agreement they signed and we will see what the coming weeks bring," the State Department's Sean McCormack said.
So we'll have more talks in November to try and hold them to an agreement they made in September that's similar if not identical to the one they made in 1994, that they admitted, in 2002, that they broke, necessitating these talks to begin with. Really sounds like progress, huh?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Enough Already
We're in the backstretch of September and it's 90+ degrees. I've given up on ever having a proper winter here in the South again, but can we get some Autumn already? I'm ready.
SCOTUS Nomination #2
The White House is getting ready for a tougher fight the second time around. We can only hope that means Bush will pick someone less frightening than he would have otherwise.
Republican aides briefed on the search said the White House was looking mainly at female jurists for Justice O'Connor's seat, but it has expanded its short list and it is examining the contenders anew in the expectation of a trial by fire.

Conservative allies of the White House said the new criteria could hurt the chances of Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a 2005 Bush appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a favorite of the president's conservative base. . . .

Another judge said to be on the list is Judge Priscilla R. Owen, a friend of the president also recently confirmed to a federal appeals court after a vigorous Senate battle. In her case, strategists say the White House is evaluating whether her reticence and mild manner would be a strength or a weakness under interrogation in the Senate.

Others said to remain under consideration include the contenders for the last vacancy, Judge Edith H. Jones and Judge Edith Brown Clement of the Fifth Circuit, as well as Judge Alice M Batchelder of the Sixth Circuit, Judge Karen Williams of the Fourth Circuit and Judge Consuelo M. Callahan of the Ninth Circuit. Judge Callahan, a Republican appointee, is Hispanic, and President Bush has made clear that he would like to name a Hispanic to the court.
At least it will likely be a woman. In the year 2005, to only have one woman out of a Supreme Court of 9 is pretty shameful. Two is not lots better, but it's not moving backwards.
Religion-Politics Blog
A DailyKos Spinoff site has been launched to deal with religion and politics issues from a liberal perspective. Called Street Prophets. I'll keep my eye on it, and now you can too if you care about such things.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What have you been listening to, reading and watching?

Frank Black Lyric of the Week
From the title track of Honeycomb:
"Dance for God. Dance for mating,
The ritual law of figure-eighting
And in my mind, as I fly above the churchyard,
I could not find my honeycomb.
I could not find my honeycomb.
I could not find my honeycomb."
New on Video this week
Born into Brothels, last year's Oscar-winner for best documentary.

Burton's New Animation
I love that Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas has become one of those films that gets a play every holiday season. It's a beautiful, amazing bit of fantasy. So, I'm eager to see his new film, the Corpse Bride. In Slate, David Edelstein gives it a review:
The film is a mite poky even at its 75 minutes, but that might be a comment on the video-game pacing of so much modern animation. The Corpse Bride unfolds more like a light opera. Danny Elfman's songs recall Gilbert and Sullivan, (Mr. Oompah) Lionel Bart, and even Kurt Weill, while the score is his own "Danse Macabre." I'd like to hear the music a few more times: It's lush and hammy, and magnificently orchestrated, but maybe a tad short on good tunes.

The voices are a joy, especially Joanna Lumley as the ogreish aristocrat matriarch, Richard E. Grant as a scheming fortune hunter, and hoary Christopher Lee—booming and rolling his r's as the irritable local pastor. The final image is maybe the most gorgeous and lyrical I've seen in an American animated film. Will the kiddies go for it? I'm not sure, but the Burtonish adolescents will.
With this film and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, how busy is that guy? Neither film strikes me as especially simple and quick to make.

Emmy Awards
I know--who cares, right? I didn't watch them. But I was surprised to see that Lost won best drama, not because I dislike the show (I've never watched it) but because the commercials make it look way too stupid to give a second thought. So, now I'm thinking maybe I'm missing something? Does anyone watch that show? Does it have any redeeming qualities? Just in case you care, here is a list of winners.

Weekend Box Office
1. Just Like Heaven
2. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
3. Lord of War
4. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
5. Cry Wolf

From the commercials, the Reese Witherspoon flick looks horrible. Wouldn't mind seeing Nicholas Cage's Lord of War. It's surprising to see a Lions Gate film with such a big budget ($42 million).

I haven't seen any movies all week, on the big screen or otherwise. What am I missing?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Role Model
This strikes me as odd. Americans have always seemed a proud bunch. Greatest country in the world and all that. Democracy, free speech, equal rights under the law, huge economy, religious liberty, Self-reliant, yadda yadda. If only the rest of the godless, communist and/or lazy world were more like us, right? 2 years ago, when Rasmussen asked, 67% of Americans agreed that the world would be better off "if other countries were more like the United States." But today? It's only 51%. That seems like a pretty big decline, and kind of a shock that 49% of Americans can't bring themselves to wish that other countries were more like us.

In other poll numbers, Bush's Katrina-response approval has dropped since the speech, 39% - 35%, but I expect that to turn around. Delayed reaction seems pretty normal for things like that. Official Article 19 prediction? Bush job approval numbers will climb back above 50% before 2006. The New Year's Day drinks are on me if they don't.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Good News for the Weekend
I know we hear things like this from time to time, but that doesn't keep it from making me feel like shit:
Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.
Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated.

Friday, September 16, 2005

We're Talkin' Base--ball
The Red Sox are teetering on the brink of playoff collapse, I'm sorry to say. The Yankees are bearing down with a Boston-New York series to go. Worst of all though is the Indians and Athletics are both on a tear. Cleveland has 6 games left with the hapless Royals to boot. If the Sox can't beat Oakland in at least 1 of the next 2, they might be out of a playoff spot by Monday. It's that close.

[UPDATE: Sox win. Have you ever seen a more clutch hitter than Ortiz? I never have - he's amazing. 2 more games with the A's. If they at least split, they can stay ahead of the Yanks that much longer--but would be nice if the team of darkness went on another of their losing streaks.]
Is this really a good idea?
In a few days, residents will begin moving back into this city one ZIP code at a time, speeding the revival of the economy in places like the French Quarter — the bawdy enclave that suffered relatively minor damage in the hurricane but is still without electricity.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced plans Thursday to reopen some of New Orleans' most vibrant and least flood-ravaged neighborhoods over the next week and a half, including the French Quarter. The move could bring back more than 180,000 of the city's half-million inhabitants.
Do we really want all those people back without electricity? And what's the water/sewage situation? I know people generally just piss on the streets in the quarter, but still.... And who wants to be one of the ones that orders a coffee next week? That water's gotta come from somewhere.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush Speech
Transcript of Bush's address tonight. Surprisingly lengthy, with alot of attractive rhetoric and big promises. Some of them, huge. If only he actually had a penchant for doing precisely what he says, for the reasons he says and with the priorities he swears, this speech would make a federal commitment that Democrats and non-conservatives should be proud to embrace. Too bad he's not that trustworthy. But, this may have promised his way out of the low approval ratings and re-gained a foothold with the African-American community (if the positive response of those interviewed on TV are any indication).

But, he's asked nothing from Americans but to keep giving to other organizations. No raised taxes--in fact, tax breaks for businesses. I was glad he did acknowledge poverty, race, and again accept responsibility for the reaction of the government to the disaster. But it was probably just enough to win some public support, balloon the deficit, and not come close to solving any of the major problems he suggested. In short, it's a nightmare for Democrats.
Nashville's Tuesday referendum to raise the sales tax for school funding and property tax relief for seniors failed miserably. 2-1. In a county that voted for Kerry over Bush by 10 points, that's a pretty spectacular failure. There was no leadership whatsoever from the Mayor, who essentially demanded this vote by the budget he sent to the Council. But, the Governor, a Nashville resident and former mayor? He didn't even vote. From Wednesday's Tennessean:
Gov. Phil Bredesen, Democrat, out of town on family business yesterday and did not vote in the election.
Of course, early voting was available for weeks prior to voting day. As proud as I was to have Tennessee elect a Democratic Governor, that's about how disappointed I've been with his general uselessness. I'm sure a Republican Governor could have, and would have, done more damage. But "not a Republican" is about the lowest level of achievement a Democrat can possibly attain. And when he's afraid to even vote on an important matter, that tells me all I need to know about his character. With that kind of civic commitment, who needs apathy?
In another attempt at frantic grasping for his public support, the President is giving a prime time address to the nation tonight, from New Orleans. This is on the heels of his "taking responsibility" yesterday (transcript)--something every news report I heard properly described as a complete change in his public posturing. I'm guessing tonight he will say that the "blame game" portion of the exercise, which he formerly thought it wasn't yet time for, is now over. So for a while it was too soon for blaming, and now it will be past time. We're ready to move on and re-build, he'll say. That way we can skip over that blaming thing altogether.

Once again, he has the chance, and there is a real need, to ask for public sacrifice. This is going to cost us alot of money. A TON. Like Josh Marshall points out, Bush seems poised to address his political crisis by throwing money at it. The Washington Post says he will ask for more money on Katrina-related funding this year than the cost of the entire Iraq War thus far. So, will he finally announce a roll-back in his tax cuts for the wealthy? Or a cut in defense spending? Hell, even a small one-year Katrina tax would probably be met with plenty of support and would fund most of it. Of course, that won't happen. We'll simply add it to the debt. Pretend like all that money is free. Then in a year or 2, when deficits blow past all previous records, Bush can come back around and play one more round of the "blame game"---"It wasn't me. Hurricane Katrina wrecked the budget."

And under the table, who will receive all this money? Who will get the contracts? Who will do the work? Displaced, poverty-stricken former residents who need the job and have a stake in its being done right? Environmental experts who could assure that we rebuild in a way that protects the coastline and the people at the same time? No...that would make too much sense. Round up the usual suspects. Political hacks, loyal friends, oil industry.
Funny Photo is Real
I didn't post this yesterday because I figured it was just a photo-shop joke. Apparently not. Put this picture of Bush together with Senator Coburn's doing a crossword puzzle during the Roberts hearing and you've got about the level of note-taking I see in my classes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Did Doctors end patients' lives to save them from a more gruesome end in NOLA?
Reader StevenP sent this link with the same question I pose now. Can this be true? From the UK's DailyMail, via
With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

In an extraordinary interview with The Mail on Sunday, one New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.
I guess I'm skeptical. But it is a very disturbing read. Still, I thought the Mail was a legitimate UK paper. Is it not? I just can't believe a doctor who had engaged in such activity would talk about it to a newspaper, anonymous or not. Has anyone seen other reports of this?
Yessirrr....a well-oiled machine
I like this quote because it seems like a supreme example of double-flip, one-and-a-half turn, reverse-landing irony. You can't get that often enough. Like one of those 3-D pictures you stare at until you're hypnotized, think about this statement of Tom Delay's until it starts to gaze back at you. Oh, the layers of absurdity!
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget. ...Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."
He's right, but oh-so wrong---he has to believe that but can't possibly believe that---he's won a great victory over everything he still complains about, because of all the things he hates! My head is spinning! This is funner to think about than the NYTimes Crossword any day! (via Washington Monthly and Atrios) I can only presume this means that, with opinion polls for the President and Congress in the low 40s or below, Delay's plan is to announce to the nation that we've achieved pure governmental greatness. Vote Republican to keep things running smooth like they are now!
Ethical Dilemma
Yesterday, I stood outside a polling place in support of a tax increase to fund schools and property tax relief for some senior citizens. The 100 yard mark, past which i was not to trespass with my colorful stickers and informative handouts, placed me practically to the street. So mostly I could only wave and flash my smiling, handsome face in bizarre pointless hopes that someone would drive into the parking lot, be impressed with my efforts and overall friendliness, (not to mention my snappy dressing) and suddenly decide that the tax they drove there determined to shoot down just may be worth supporting after all. Then I could also give them a wave as they left. Other than answering the occasional question, or hollering across the parking lot, those were pretty much my options as an advocate.

One car, though, whose driver steadfastly avoided my resolve-busting gaze on the way in, developed car trouble just before pulling out into the street on his way out. No kidding, 10 feet from me, I heard the tell-tale clicking of a just-dead battery. So I turned around to see a sporty-looking but dusty car adorned with no less than 3 hideous pro-George Bush bumper stickers. I was hearing "heh-heh" in my head. It was a slow voting day. Nobody else was around. He just sat there next to me and clicked his starter for 5 minutes then gave up, and let the car roll back out of the way and sat there in the driveway. It was one of those moments when it's obvious I'm supposed to roll up my sleeves and approach the man in crisis and ask if he needs a jump or wants to use my cell phone. I couldn't pretend like I didn't notice his battery just gave out.

But, damnit, he's a republican, and worse, a proud one. So, what should I have done?

A. Wait for his inevitable request for help. Then tell him to go Cheney himself.
B. Wait for the right moment to say "Need a lift? How about you stick a jack up your ass."
C. Offer a jump but only if he lets me cover his offending stickers with the "Vote Yes!" stickers in my pocket
D. Look over, shake my head and laugh and point every couple of minutes.
E. Tell him FEMA will be there any minute to offer assistance.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Roberts Confirmation Reading
ACS Blog has some great information regarding the Roberts confirmation, and there is moment-by-moment live-blogging at Scotusblog. I'm working a poll today for a local referendum to raise taxes for schools, so won't get to watch or read much about it until late tonight. But, really, nothing newsworthy could possibly come from these hearings, right?
Advice from A19 readers
Presumably because I bragged about my car's ability to last forever to lewberry over the weekend, the car is showing signs of being dead. Likely, I'm in the market starting immediately. So, I need some perspective from experienced readers. I'm looking to buy a reliable used car. Dealership? CarMax? Newspaper? Bulletin Boards? What worked the best/worst for you? What should I make sure and do and not do, if in fact the fabulous '93 Nissan Sentra has seen its last day?

Monday, September 12, 2005

What have you been listening to, watching, reading?

Should you read the book?
Movies based on novels have been common for a long time, but are coming fast and furious during the last months of this year. In the Washington Post, Stephen Hunter ponders the eternal dilemma of book and film lovers:
Should you read the book before you see the movie? Does it matter if they change the book? If you know how it ends, what's the point in seeing it?
His answers, "Maybe. No. If you think this way, you're an idiot.", are entertaining and mostly right. I haven't read Shopgirl, The Constant Gardener, the CS Lewis book, the Harry Potter book, Memoirs of a Geisha, or Everything is Illuminated. But I'm likely to be tempted by all 6 movies.

Bill Maher
Was mostly hilarious last weekend. You can read the transcript here. The best parts? An interview with Kurt Vonnegut ("I think the earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, and it's high time they did. My goodness, we are a disease on the face of this planet."), a claim by the American Enterprise Institute's Jim Glassman that we have cured cancer, and Maher's final "new rule" of the night, that it's time to recall the President:
Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. [laughter] There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. [laughter] You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. [laughter] [applause]

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! [laughter] Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. [laughter] [applause] Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?! [laughter] [applause]. . . .

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans…Maybe you're just not lucky! [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. [laughter] So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, “Take a hint.” [laughter]
C-Span Gazing
If you miss the Roberts hearings during the day, c-span 2 will carry them in replay at 9 eastern every night. Since there is not likely to be anything dramatic or surprising happen, you can't be faulted for skipping, but I can't help myself. C-Span is my late-night guilty pleasure.

NYTimes on Paul McCartney
Paul's new solo CD, Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard, is released tomorrow. In the NYTimes, Jon Parales reports on the evident tension between McCartney's sweet, simple inclinations and his more experimental leanings:
For this album, on Capitol, Sir Paul chose a producer who favored the experimental side: Nigel Godrich, who has worked with Radiohead and Beck. Sir Paul also lined up his best backup band since the Beatles: himself. Except for some string-section arrangements, he plays nearly every instrument on the album. That's something he hasn't done to this extent since he made his first solo album, "McCartney," back in 1970, and it makes the songs more intimate and less conventional.
That also makes it not so surprising that the music is filled with "unabashed echoes of the Beatles," since his writing isn't as filtered through the performance style of others. Could be worth a listen

Live Music Weekend
Nashville hosted the Americana Festival this weekend. I'm not sure what makes music Americana. What seems to mostly hold it together it the artists' collective wish to not be pinned with the label. I caught 2 different nights of interesting music--bluegrass sets by Adrienne Young and Tim O'Brien on Thursday, after a riverfront performance downtown by the Indigo Girls. Then Saturday night: Robbie Fulks, The Dukhs, heard a few songs by Webb Wilder and then the reason I bought the tickets to begin with, Frank Black! More later, including my review of Frank's new CD, Honeycomb.

What sounds graced your ears over the weekend and linger on Monday morning?

Weekend Box Office
1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
2. The 40-year-old Virgin
3. Transporter 2
4. The Constant Gardener
5. Red Eye

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Family Values
Kevin Drum has compiled some choice quotes from our ultra-moral compassionate brothers and sisters in the Republican Party in the last week. My personal favorite:
Tom DeLay, chatting with a couple of young evacuees who are now living in a tent in Houston: "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"
They're all stunning, even for Republicans.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bush seeks to fund gulf coast reconstruction with unlawfully low wages
This should be the Bush-related Katrina story of next week. Of course, there are lots of other important issues right now, but in the midst of them all, the President is trying to authorize construction companies to bypass prevailing wage laws in their reconstruction efforts.
By executive order, Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act in areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, a move that will allow federal contractors to pay less than the local "prevailing wage" on construction projects.

Rep. George Miller of Martinez, senior Democrat on the House committee that oversees labor law, said the move would allow employers to pay "poverty wages" as they rebuild from the hurricane.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives," Miller said in a statement, noting that the prevailing wage for construction in New Orleans was about $9 an hour. "At under $9 an hour, workers certainly won't be able to rebuild their livelihoods."
Via Kevin Drum, who thinks this is less about lining the pockets of business than it is about politics. Why? Now he may be able to entice some Democrats to oppose the reconstruction efforts.
What's more deadly: Incompetence or Lying?
FEMA director Mike Brown is being relieved of on-the-ground duties in the gulf. Chertoff and Bush/Rove have apparently finally figured out that this bozo is easily made the fall guy. But, someone needs to ask Bush/Chertoff if he's being removed because of his incompetence, or because he has lied on his resume:
A White House press release from 2001 stated Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 'overseeing the emergency services division.' But, Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, said Brown was an 'assistant to the city manager,' a position likened to an intern.

Time [Magazine] says Brown lists 'Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University' on a legal Web site but was identified as only a student.

Brown states he was director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond, but an administrator said no one there is familiar with him.
These lies are scandalous and will no doubt bring Brown down. But they also conveniently allow Bush and Chertoff to sidestep the question of his incompetent management, and the fact that he was woefully unqualified for the job even if he had actually done the work that his resume/bios assert. Hiring him was a mistake even with the false information he gave. Coupled with the failure of Congress and the President to care for the environment and levees, it was Brown's management incompetence not his job application lies, that led to the deaths of hundreds.

It wouldn't shock me if Rove himself leaked these discrepancies. Now, they can blame his lack of qualifications on his untruthfulness and not on their poor hiring practices; and they can blame his firing on his indiscretion, and not have Bush go back on his statement that Brown(ie) was doing a "heck of a job."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New poll: Democrats have found their candidate for '08
No, it's not Hilary, or Barack, John Edwards, or Bill Richardson. The Democrat people would most like to vote for accordng to a new Zogby poll? Jimmy Carter.

Ok to be fair, those others weren't included in the poll. But Carter outpolled Bill Clinton, and John Kerry in an imaginary matchup with W. Kerry was the only person that Bush, no matter how bad he's shown himself to be, still defeats. I wish Al Gore had been in the question. Imaginary matchup results:
George W. 44%
Bill Clinton 46%

George W. 34%
George Bush, Sr. 41%

George W. 20%
Reagan 59%

George W. 42%
Carter 50%

George W. 48%
John Kerry 47%
So, even if Americans are willing to admit that our President makes mistakes, we're not willing to admit that we make mistakes in the ballot box. The same poll found the same respondents had a 40% approval or below of Bush on individual issues of taxes, the war in Iraq, foreign policy, jobs and the economy, Hurricane Katrina, environment, education, social security and medicare, healthcare and gas prices. But, they still wouldn't vote for John Kerry.

One quibble. This isn't the only poll that does this, but Zogby gives respondents 4 choices: Excellent, good, fair, and poor. Then, he counts all fair or poor responses as negative and disapproving. But I don't think of "fair" as necessarily negative, but somewhere in-between. So, maybe these approval polls are generally underestimating support? Why are "fair" and "poor" the 2 negative choices, and not "bad" and "terrible"? I'm sure there's some reason--Zogby's a professional, right? Still, I'd like to know what it is.

Incidentally, doesn't seem to be a registered URL. It's there for the taking if somebody wants to lead the charge.
Howard Dean
In a speech yesterday to the National Baptist Convention:
The truth is that we have ignored the poor for far too long. And until it washed right up on our front doorsteps, we might have continued to ignore the reality that poverty has too many of our fellow Americans in its grip, and we have a shared moral responsibility not to ignore it anymore.
We deserve leaders who get up every day and fight for each one of us, who see us and understand our struggles but who also work to make each one of us stronger thereby making all of us stronger.

Not because we are wealthy or important or because we gave a contribution to a campaign; because we are hard-working Americans who need our President to be on our side.
Johnny Whites, on Bourbon Street, never closed and still serves drinks to a growing crowd.
The only time the large doors on the corner bar on Bourbon Street were shut was when the patrons inside held them tight against the wind and rain 10 days ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. . . . [M]any rescue workers stop in for soft drinks. When medical volunteers stop in, people can get a tetanus shot, the report said.

'We`ve sort of turned into a community center,' said bartender Larry Hirst.
A BBC article on the same bar reports that the only bodies you have to walk around at Johnny Whites are the ones in the stairway, sleeping it off. When the city is back and running, Johnny Whites is going to have quite the marketing edge. What French Quarter visitor isn't going to want to go have a drink in the one bar that never closed during the storm?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Depressing Theories
Bush and FEMA, as well as probably state and even local officials, managed enough damaging wrongdoing in (not) responding to Katrina, practically criminal in the case of FEMA, that we really don't need theories like this one floating around. It was apparently repeated by more than one Astrodome resident to reporter Jacob Applebaum, who is there to help set up an emergency radio station inside the make-shift Houston city. (A task that has proven to be technically simple, and beauracratically impossible) He's been taking pictures and talking to evacuees:
comments by NOLA evacuee Clara Barthelemy: "The 17th street levee was bombed by the Army Corps of Engineers to save the more valuable real estate in the city… to keep the French Quarter protected, the ninth ward was sacrificed… people are afraid to speak out… everyone who was near there heard the bombings… they bombed seven times. That's why they didn't fix the levees…"
Everything from delirium, mental instability, lack of sleep, lack of medication could lead otherwise normally thinking people into this level of paranoia. But the depressing possibility? Poor people in cities like New Orleans are really so isolated, marginalized, and uncared-for that they really just believe that the powerful are more than capable of such selfish criminality.
Obama on Katrina...(Why must we wait?)
The first 3/4 of his speech is excellent with standard, appropriate sorrow and outrage. He tells of meeting evacuees in Houston who are finally in a somewhat stable place, but, as one woman told him, "We had nothing before the hurricane. Now we got less than nothing." The last 1/4 of the speech, picking up on that sentiment, is for me the kind of thing that separates Senator Obama from the handful of other charismatic Democrats on the Hill. Read this and, like me, long for the day when this powerful compelling black man says things like this to America as our President.
There's been much attention in the press about the fact that those who were left behind in New Orleans were disproportionately poor and African American. I've said publicly that I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially-based. The ineptitude was colorblind.

But what must be said is that whoever was in charge of planning and preparing for the worst case scenario appeared to assume that every American has the capacity to load up their family in an SUV, fill it up with $100 worth of gasoline, stick some bottled water in the trunk, and use a credit card to check in to a hotel on safe ground. I see no evidence of active malice, but I see a continuation of passive indifference on the part of our government towards the least of these.

And so I hope that out of this crisis we all begin to reflect - Democrat and Republican - on not only our individual responsibilities to ourselves and our families, but to our mutual responsibilities to our fellow Americans. I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren't just abandoned during the Hurricane. They were abandoned long ago - to murder and mayhem in their streets; to substandard schools; to dilapidated housing; to inadequate health care; to a pervasive sense of hopelessness.

That is the deeper shame of this past week - that it has taken a crisis like this one to awaken us to the great divide that continues to fester in our midst. That's what all Americans are truly ashamed about, and the fact that we're ashamed about it is a good sign. The fact that all of us - black, white, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat - don't like to see such a reflection of this country we love, tells me that the American people have better instincts and a broader heart than our current politics would indicate.

We had nothing before the Hurricane. Now we have even less.

I hope that we all take the time to ponder the truth of that message.
It would be a great speech even if Senator Clinton gave it, but when I hear Obama saying it, I'm moved. When I imagine Hilary's delivery, I'm, well, not. I know he made a promise to complete his term. It will take a serious push of Illinois residents to release him from that pledge. I say get to it. As KennyB is always saying, by 2012 or 16, Barack will be considered a Senate insider, with all the baggage that carries.
Compassionate Conservative Mayor?
Hat tip to commenter Mark who pointed to a local Channel 5 news story (click the headline on the right: "40,000 Square Feet of Office Space Becomes Red Cross Shelter" for the video) about a plan to use the immense empty office space at the Factory in Franklin, TN as a Red Cross shelter. Despite some beautiful, progressive, non-millionaire friends and family that live in Franklin, it is the epitome of wealthy, conservative white suburbia. So, I wasn't surprised to hear that many complained to the mayor about introducing potential criminals (read, black people) into the community. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the tone of the mayor's forceful response:
“If you don't like that we're bringing people from the Gulf Coast here,” Miller says, “you can move.”
Any Republican fights an uphill battle trying to win my vote, but that's a pretty good way to start.
At TalkingPoints Memo, Josh relays a report that firefighters chomping at the bit to go save people battling for their lives had a different first mission: to save a singular bonehead fighting for his political life:
As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
Billmon has the picture and offers the most beautiful reaction, as usual.
I guess this is what Bush was talking about yesterday when he called himself a "problem solver."
I don't mind some leadership through symbolism, like maybe ending the vacation and going to work as soon as there's a crisis. But, symbols that keep 50 firefighters away from the rescue efforts when people are starving and stranded? Still, it doesn't seem to matter to the American people. As Billmon also points out, as much sense as it makes to fire the failures in charge, people really aren't interested in holding anyone accountable.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dershowitz eulogizes the Chief Justice
At the Huffington Post:
[Rehnquist] generally opposed the rights of gays, women, blacks, aliens, and religious minorities. He was a friend of corporations, polluters, right wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, homophobes, and other bigots.
I presume he's no longer invited to the funeral. Laurence Tribe (via ACSBlog), on the other hand, would seem to be generously angling for an aisle seat.:
When I began arguing regularly before the Supreme Court two years later, I felt from the start that I was conversing with a brilliant colleague who always got right to the point. In more than 30 oral arguments over the past 25 years, I never saw him ask questions, as his colleagues sometimes do, to hide the ball, parade his brilliance, show up a colleague, or play to the galleries.
I'm sure they're both right.
In Case You Missed It
Some things worth reading:
--Times-Picayune's Open Letter to the President
--Ron Fournier reports on "Rhetoric not Matching Reality"
--Mary Landrieu releases a rightfully angry response to the President's photo-op visit
--Tim Russert interviews Chertoff and watches Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard come undone with grief and frustration on Meet the Press.
Attention Span
I will post something non-New Orleans-related today. It seems time finally for that. But to catch up after an abbreviated (sorry) holiday edition of Media Monday, here's some wishful thinking in an editorial in the Independent, presuming that Americans will actually take the time to look at the big picture of governance:
There is a sense that the struggle for the soul of America is gathering pace. Hurricane Katrina has posed some fundamental ideological questions. Most obvious is the proper balance between state and federal government. Americans are asking why federal help did not arrive earlier....Americans appear to want a leadership that can make federal government work again. But can the Republican Party with its narrow emphasis on "small government" fulfil that role?
I'm not sure that we have the collective attention span to think so globally. If there is a sea-change of political support, it will be more because people notice that things have really sucked under Republicans and we should try something different. I doubt that we are capable of a national recognition of something like federal-state balance being off kilter.

More likely, we will need to affect incremental change. Senator Clinton is on the right general track, proposing legislation to unmoor FEMA from the Homeland Security Department. Frankly, considering she is already the presumed Democratic nominee in '08, it was nice to finally hear from her in all this. (As far as that goes, it was nice to finally hear from Howard Dean as well, if only in a press release or 2.)

Still, it feels like the major failure was not one of beauracratic organization, but good old fashioned incompetent management and bad hiring. The important response is not to rearrange the boxes, though that probably is a good idea (some disagree). The proper response is to fire all the bastards in charge. Sadly, we know that isn't going to happen. You have to be critical of the President to get fired.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What have you been listening to, reading, watching?

Weekend Box Office
1. Transporter 2
2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
3. The Constant Gardener
4. Red Eye
5. Brothers Grimm

Constant Gardener is getting great reviews. When I was in high school I loved reading LeCarre spy novels (because that's really something that impresses girls) but haven't opened one in a long time. Anyone read it?

Article 19 Film Recommendation: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
************* (13 out of 19)
Much funnier than I expected.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Whose side are they on?
The Jefferson Parish President, on Meet the Press (via Atrios)
We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. Fema turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, fema comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice.
Today's Washington Post assessment of failure:
Others who went out of their way to offer help were turned down, such as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who told reporters his city had offered emergency, medical and technical help as early as last Sunday to FEMA but was turned down. Only a single tank truck was requested, Daley said. Red tape kept the American Ambulance Association from sending 300 emergency vehicles from Florida to the flood zone, according to former senator John Breaux (D-La.) They were told to get permission from the General Services Administration. "GSA said they had to have FEMA ask for it," Breaux told CNN. "As a result they weren't sent."
What exactly was the danger of having too many ambulances, too much medical help, too many trucks of water on hand? Afraid people may have been trapped in the city by the influx of water trucks in their way?
Rehnquist has Died
NYTimes obit here. Whatever else he accomplished, he likely wanted to be remembered for leading a quiet, smart, thoughtful conservative court. Instead, I'll remember him as having been dragged along on a loud, brash, mocking, ultra-conservative revolt in Washington, forced to preside over an offensive, needless impeachment that no doubt caused him some embarrassment, and compelled to decide a Presidential election by stopping the count of votes. I could be wrong, but always got the impression he would have preferred to undo the power of the federal government a bit more silently than the politics of his era as Chief Justice allowed.

Not sure of the rules, but I can't imagine Bush rushing through a replacement in time for October. Can they make decisions with 8?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why no protest?
Just curious - wonder why there have been no organized national protests to demand more immediate action? That is a march I would gladly join. (Maybe I've just missed it.) If there is no dramatic, visible progress in caring for the stranded in New Orleans over the weekend, the streets of our cities should be filled. What we are seeing is not America.

National tragedy saved the President's popular approval 4 years ago. But his carelessness this time has dropped an opportunity for us to rally around him as a leader. People are not happy with him.
Please the World Leader Assassination Fund?
Article 19 readers are proving again and again that they, and not I, should be writing this site (and if only they were as big a dork as I, maybe they would be!):

StevenP lets loose with a well-pointed, perfectly expressed frustration.

Jenifer gives me a well-deserved shake-to-my-senses when my immediate exasperation came out as a blame-the-victim screed over those very few who stayed in the storm out of a sense of adventure or stubbornness, but could have easily left(I've since edited the offending post somewhat--revising question #2--for a little bit of clarity, out of sheer shame.)

Doug watches Nightline so we don't have to.

Deb reminds us (gently) to donate what we can, and not just to help the humans.

And KennyB not only leads the way here in holding Bush accountable, he has uncovered the link of the day, showing that Bush's FEMA is urging people to give money to Pat Robertson. Because Pat's been so responsible lately. Which reminds me, anyone seen a link to Robert Tilton's relief fund, or maybe Jim and Tammy Faye's? I'm sure it's all going to a good cause.

Thanks to all the readers for finding great stuff and saying great things. Sorry for leaving people out - there's lots of you, and more reading every day. Feel free to hit the comments button. Plenty of space here. What hinders you?
Krugman: "A Can't-Do Government"
At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.
Anderson Cooper is Pissed
One of the surprising things about this gulf tragedy is to see CNN become a bit more willing to challenge the government's response. That's partly because they have just enough people on the ground that it is so apparent how truly wrong officials have been in their explanations of what efforts are under way. It would be nice if Senate interviews always went something like Anderson Cooper's questioning of Mary Landrieu last night. Sorry, a long quote but a good one. He sounded every bit as angry as it reads:
COOPER: Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Anderson, there will be plenty of time to discuss all of those issues, about why, and how, and what, and if. But, Anderson, as you understand, and all of the producers and directors of CNN, and the news networks, this situation is very serious and it's going to demand all of our full attention through the hours, through the nights, through the days.

Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Alabama to our help and rescue.

We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts.

Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard -- maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating.

COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here?

LANDRIEU: Anderson, I have the anger inside of me. Most of the homes in my family have been destroyed. Our homes have been destroyed. I understand what you're saying, and I know all of those details. And the president of the United States knows those details.

COOPER: Well, who are you angry at?

LANDRIEU: I'm not angry at anyone.
If she thinks he's angry because homes were destroyed, she's kind of missing the point.

Jack Cafferty has let loose with some appropriate tirades as well.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'm seeing on TV, still, that the stranded in the Superdome and at the Convention Center have no food and water. And it's Thursday. Buses have started carrying people to Houston from the Superdome. So there must be at least one road through. Why have trucks and trucks of food and water not been brought in through that road?

The Mayor has issued a desperate plea to save the lives of those stranded, and referred to a massive march of refugees out of the Convention Center and over miles and miles toward civilization. In America. In the 21st Century.
About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses were growing angry and restless in what appeared to be a potentially explosive situation. In hopes of defusing it, the mayor said the evacuees would be allowed to march to a nearby expressway to try to find a way out.
I am completely confused why there's a road between civilization and the stranded and we're prepared to watch the victims make a desperate march for their lives, but somehow we can't use the same path to take aid and comfort to them.

If it comes to that...if we end up seeing video of a mile of black American refugees forced to defend their lives by marching together over roadways toward civilization, like pictures we see from the poorest, most war-ravaged areas of Africa, just because disaster management can't get it's act together...shame is the only word that comes to mind.
Clinton's FEMA director on Bush's FEMA (Kevin Drum has a telling timeline here):
Being prepared for a disaster is basic emergency management, disaster experts say.

For example, in the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby, said James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director under President Clinton.

Federal officials said a hospital ship would leave from Baltimore on Friday.

"These things need to be planned and prepared for; it just doesn't look like it was," said Witt, a former Arkansas disaster chief who won bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill during his tenure.
Only one thing to do now to FEMA head Michael Brown....Presidential Medal of Honor! Congressional Medal of Freedom! Secretary of the Interior!
NYTimes on Bush
September 1 editorial:
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end....nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.
Contrary to most days, I find no pleasure in the floundering President today. Like most of the country, I am waiting for someone, anyone, to lead this crisis management in a visibly confident, competent way. Instead what we get is a President who can only be described as out-of-it, with a FEMA director who actually got on Larry King Live last night and said this (with a straight face):
When I became the director of FEMA a couple of years ago, I decided it was time we did some really serious catastrophic disaster planning. So, the president gave me money through our budget to do that. And we went around the country to figure out what's the best model we can do for a catastrophic disaster in this country? And we picked New Orleans, Louisiana, being struck dead on by a cat five hurricane.

This did not happen in this event. But that cat 4 hurricane caused the same kind of damage that we anticipated. So we planned for it two years ago. Last year, we exercised it. And unfortunately this year, we're implementing it.
Larry's hard-hitting response? "Thank you, Mike."