Friday, September 30, 2005

Quote of the Day, Part Deux

In a conference call with the Houston media Wednesday, hot dog Cincinnati wideout Chad Johnson was asked if anyone can cover him. His answer:

"The IRS. They've been on me for quite awhile."

Quote of the Day

"Dan, I'm not an ethics expert. I'm a lawyer."

-Lucy Daglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to MSNBC's Dan Abrams on the subject of Judith Miller's release.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well lookie here...

Judith Miller has been released from jail according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report earlier today.

Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to identify a source, has been released, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its Web site tonight. Knight Ridder's news service then carried the account to other newspapers. It said that an unnamed jail official had revealed that Miller left an Alexandria, Va. jail late this afternoon, at 3:55 pm., adding, "She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said.

In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said."It could not be immediately determined whether Miller has now agreed to testify."

See what happens when you wait? You actually might find out the truth about things!

If true, we could be to the bottom of the Plame matter fairly soon.

As if I'd never left

One of my most distinct memories of growing up in Southern California is walking to school on fall mornings with the Santa Ana winds blowing in. By 7:30 AM it's already in the low 70's with a hot breeze in your face.

We've been in the house two weeks and already have our first dose of Santa Ana conditions. When I pointed out this little barb, I wasn't aware of exactly where the fire in question was burning.

I discovered via news scrolls while enjoying some prime-time TV last night that it in fact is fairly close to friends and family:

More than 1,000 firefighters worked against the tricky combination of dry brush, low humidity and temperatures in the high 90s along the line that divides Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

"We are not going to stop this fire until we get a break in the weather," Fire Capt. Mark Savage said.

Shelters were opened in both counties, and many residents responded quickly to evacuation orders.

We still have friends in the SFV as well as Simi, and hope for their well-being in the middle of all this.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why it's good to wait

Tom Delay, Republican strong-arm in the House of Representatives was indicted today by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle:

The indictment accused DeLay, 58, of a conspiracy to violate Texas election law, which prohibits use of corporate donations to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates. The alleged scheme worked in a roundabout way, with the donations going to a DeLay- founded political committee, then to the Republican National Committee and eventually to GOP candidates in Texas.

This has been bubbling for quite some time and now has bubbled-over as Earle is moving forward to prosecute. DeLay has stepped down temporarily as House Majority Leader while the case is investigated and/or taken to trial.

DeLay has many detractor's in the public-at-large as well as the political- and pundit classes. I have read and heard many a liberal lambaste DeLay over this in recent months, assured that he is guilty before even investigated, much less tried.

I would offer a word of advice to those folks; it is always wise to wait and watch how things resolve. It's the surest way of avoiding looking like an ass.

Case in point are the screamers and the howlers over the Katrina response. Seems that not all the tales of woe from New Orleans were accurate or true.

Hugh's post from 9/10 lays the groundwork for a discussion on what exactly the media was giving us. Yesterday's LA Times gives us yet another report to ponder.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," [Major Ed]Bush said Monday of the Superdome.His assessment is one of several in recent days to conclude that newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

Meanwhile, the Bush-Haters went into over-drive after hearing such reports and leveled hugely unfair and inaccurate criticisms of the Federal response that I could hardly believe. Now, after having time to digest and wade through it all it begins coming out that many of those criticisms and claims were based on bad information.

While I hate to "play politics" with something horrific as Katrina, I still can't help but laugh at the chumps who walked out on this limb in their histrionics only to see it break under them.

I would caution them not to get too far out on this particular branch, to say perhaps too much about what did or didn't happen in the DeLay matter and to give it all the time it requires for finding a full understanding. Unless they like looking like chumps...

Under 'F' for "The Feds must do everything!"

Hugh posts a comedic gem:

Fires have been burning in southern California for nearly two hours. No sign of FEMA yet. Another FEMA collapse. They ought to have known that Santa Anas kick up this time of year.

When will Senators feinstein[sic] and Boxer present their demand for billions in fire break maintenance funds?

Why didn't President Bush supersede his constitutional authority and order the military into these hard-hit areas? It could be hours or days before the Governator asks for help, and what of the poor victims of Firestorm '05?!

"Whose bright idea was that!?" (Even more from Tales of the Great Unpacking)

As the days go by, I've occasionally been reminded why I was willing to leave California for the desert in 2002. Today was one of those days.

I stopped by my new insurance agent's office this afternoon to review my homeowner's policy with him as well as discussing getting our auto policy converted over from Arizona. And there it was, one of those absolutely ridiculous kinds of things that can only come from the delusional mind of a state law-maker...

Under Section III, so-called "Optional coverages applied," though according to the agent it is mandatory by state-law and built-in to the basic homeowner's policy, is this fun little surprise:

Workers Compensation and Employers Liability

Caught off guard, I asked the agent for clarification. The answer I got stupefied me, and in fact six hours later, still stupefies me.

By state-law, anybody I "hire" or contract with to come onto/into the premises to work (landscaping, housecleaning, etc.) is entitled to make a worker's compensation claim in case of injury under my home-owner's coverage as if I were their employer and my home were there regular place of work. Never minding, that they would have been hired as, essentially, contractors in business for themselves.

Now, I will not pay a huge amount for this but then that is most certainly not the point. Only in Sacramento can someone think that an independent contractor working on a client's premises is an employee of that client and thus entitled to state benefits.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Anti-Warriors, or Fascists in Sheep's Clothing?

Christopher Hitchens rightly reminds us who sponsored the anti-war rallies in DC on Saturday. While I believe most of the protestors legitimately want peace, I wonder if they knew that the rally's organizers do not? Hitchens explains.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

Some of the leading figures in this "movement," such as
George Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and say that they support the Baathist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were invented or created by the United States. That bad, huh? (You might think that such an accusation—these thugs were cloned by the American empire for God's sake—would lead to instant condemnation. But if you thought that, gentle reader, you would be wrong.)

Preach it, brother.

Sullivan's Reading My Dogs

Maybe not. But he agrees with the Simster on Bush and conservation. He just adds some stronger analysis and puts it in a nicer package, that's all. LOL

Points I wish I'd included in this morning's submission are bolded.

BUSH IN CARTER-LAND: The president is now asking Americans to conserve gas? I wonder what's next. Will he ask his own government to balance its budget? Not so long ago, the vice-president derided conservation as a matter of "personal vanity." Now it's a national duty? Once again, you see how incoherent this presidency has become. If a government wants to conserve a particular product, it does not need to make rhetorical pleas for people not to use it. It can adjust its own policies to make us more fuel-efficient and less dependent on foreign oil, especially from the Persian Gulf. The Bush administration has, alas, never made this a priority. I think they're right to drill in ANWR and encourage new energy development in the U.S. and they've been better on fuel standards than their critics will concede. But the obvious complement to this - conservation and sane energy taxes - remains unthinkable to them. Simply put: We need to increase the cost of gas to force the auto industry to move to newer, better fuels and consumers to make wiser choices. A phased in gas tax of a dollar on the gallon is a tax that most sane economists support, helps wean us off foreign oil, helps the environment, and defunds the terror-masters. Bush should have proposed it as an anti-terror message after 9/11. Pathetic pleas now to stop driving on Sundays and the like are no substitute for something that actually might solve the basic problem. Look: I'm a low tax kind of guy. I support Bush's tax cuts on most areas (I exclude the estate tax, because it rewards inheritance rather than work). But this is an area that, in every substantive regard, is a win-win. Except that politically, it's lose-lose. The test of leadership is whether a person can persuade people that an unpopular measure is still better for everyone in the long run. Has Bush ever done such a thing? Or even tried to?

On that last point, I suppose Iraq counts. But he's not doing a good job of advancing that argument, though.

A Missed Opportunity for the Dems

I can't be counted upon to quote Mark Shields very often, but on Friday night on the Jim Lehrer NewsHour, Shields came through with a gem on the Democrats' response to the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Forget that the nation and the party would both have been better served by the temperamentally suited and professionally qualified John Roberts' winning Senate confirmation with 90-plus votes. The nation would have been better served because such a margin would have represented an un-petty act in a city descended into hateful pettiness. And the Democrats, because by acknowledging Roberts' obvious assets -- intellectual firepower, genuine respect from, and friendship with, colleagues who are active Democrats, a reputation for open-mindedness and not being a captive of ideology -- they could have then believably used the "Roberts standard" to measure President Bush's future court nominees.

Shields expands on the riff here.

Rita: "Just a Little Wind & Rain"

I thought the "Occupied New Orleans" comments would finally demonstrate Cindy Sheehan's status as an unhinged moonbat. But this comment on Kos shows her for what she is, and should serve to be the final nail in the coffin:

rita (3.33 / 3)
i am watching cnn and it is 100 percent rita...even though it is a little wind and a little is bad, but there are other things going on in this country today...and in the world!!!!
CindySheehan on Sat Sep 24th, 2005 at 06:29:15 PDT

I see. We are expected to mourn the death of her son and take drastic action in his name, but Cindy couldn't give a flip about what's happening to her fellow citizens who are fighting for their lives on the Gulf Coast. Just a week earlier, Garden Hat Cindy was crying in her soup about the poor folks of Algiers, LA in the wake of Katrina. But then she was leveraging that to draw attention to her own agenda. But unfortunately, Rita dared to steal the spotlight on Saturday from the International ANSWER anti-war rally in Washingon (click here to watch Cindy's pathetic speech, given with one of her political masters, Jesse Jackson looking on. Hat tip, Political Teen.)

I no longer feel sorry for this woman. I loathe her. She is despicable. She has allowed herself and her son's memory to be hijacked by the Misery Exploiters (TM); Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other jackals who descend upon troubling circumstances for the sole purpose of pushing their agendas or enhancing their own careers.

Fortunately, some of the commenters on Kos put Sheehan in her place. It's interesting however, to note Sheehan's half-hearted backpedal:

Shame (3.20 / 5)
it is 100 percent rita...even though it is a little wind and a little rain
I'm in Southeast Texas with family on the coast and in Lake Jackson, LA.
I'd like you to tell us it's just a little wind and rain. They've lost their homes, jobs and businesses and gone through fear and panic while you bask in your fan's adulation, party with your celebrity friends and play the star.
Shame on you, you're jealous of media coverage of other's suffering. You've become a caricature and I no longer support you. I'm ashamed I ever did.
by hibsnet on Sat Sep 24th, 2005 at 18:19:40 PDT[ Parent ]

i am sorry (2.75 / 4)
when i was watching cnn this morning, that's what it was...i know it was much worse earlier and it was devastating, i didn't make myself clear and i apologize.
i also know that the media will cover anything else besides the war.
by CindySheehan on Sat Sep 24th, 2005 at 20:08:28 PDT[ Parent ]

Before today I would have just believed you, but.. (3.00 / 7)
Cindy, these posts have time stamps.
when i was watching cnn this morning, that's what it was
Four hours before your post, the eye hit just east of Port Arthur and west of Lake Charles. Between then and two hours after your post, hurricane force winds were tearing through Beaumont and Orange, TX and all through Vermillion Parrish, LA. Imagine, if you can, what was happening to those poor people while you were watching tv and getting upset about them covering "a little wind and a little rain" rather than your special day.
it was devastating earlier
And during. And after.

You might also realize that the people in a hurricane's wake don't suddenly get happy and whole an hour after the eye passes over. It's still not a little wind and a little rain to them. Do you know they are still very afraid down there - right now, Cindy, trying to find 1,000 people lost in Vermillion as I type..
You can find the story now on CNN's website. I'm very sorry, it's slightly above the story about you - that's just so unfair too isn't it.
i also know that the media will cover anything else besides the war.
Well Joan Baez sang for you today, and you got your smiling-happy picture taken with Jesse Jackson today, and your story is still front page on today. So it was a very good day. Yes it was a beautiful day for Cindy wasn't it?
Except for a little wind and a little rain earlier.
by hibsnet on Sun Sep 25th, 2005 at 01:24:13 PDT[ Parent ]


Feeling the effects of Rita

I keep hearing how Rita wasn't as catastrohphic as Katrina. I suppose this is true, because Rita didn't hit major population centers like Katrina did. But the power of the storm cannot be denied. Check out this image of Grand Chenier, LA from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website.

Or this picture of beachfront resort town, Holly Beach, TX.

If you haven't done so yet, please give generously to help our friends on the Gulf Coast recover their lives.

This guy is clueless.

Did any of you happen to catch George W.'s call for sacrifice on the part of the American public yesterday? Can't blame you if you missed it. His call was so weak-kneed and half-hearted that it seems unlikely that any network would include it in a sound-bite package.

So after not calling for sacrifice in the wake of 9/11 or in the run-up to the Iraq War or its ensuing, mushrooming insurgency, what finally motivated our fearless leader to appeal to our sense of patriotism? Surging oil prices resulting from the recent hurricanes. After a visit to the Department of Energy to survey their impacts on refineries and oil rigs in the Gulf, Bush urged all Americans to er, um, sorta try to maybe think about thinking about restricting unnecessary driving.

"Two other points I want to make is, one, we can all pitch in by using -- by being better conservers of energy. I mean, people just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption and that if they're able to maybe not drive when they -- on a trip that's not essential, that would helpful."

And while this quote seems straightforward enough, hopefully you saw the video of him himming-and-hawing and stumbling over saying it. Not too inspiring really.

One would think that if the conservation message was one that Bush was really sincere about, that he would have said more and said it better to underscore its importance. But then we know that Bush isn't sincere about conservation and isn't prepared to implement such an initiative because there were precious few commitments to conservation in the Energy Bill which kicked around in Congress for four years before passage.

Conservation is something that I feel passionate about. I believe that it is something eminently doable in this country. While we are far more energy efficient these days than we were in the 1970s, say, there is much more that can be done. And it can be done with a little effort, using existing technologies and in ways that are ultimately profitable for business. All it takes is some political will and leadership. Two things in short supply in Washington, D.C. these days.

As the National Energy Strategy first rounded into form, I had no problem with the Bush Administration's desire to augment exploration and refining capacity so long as such efforts were paired with conservation measures. When the Energy Bill was belatedly passed a couple of months ago, I was quite angry to see that precious few conservation elements ended up in the bill. And now, of course, Bush finds himself backpedaling his way into a "conservation strategy" of "Hey, don't drive so much." What's next? a Carter-esque call to turn down our thermostats and wear sweaters? While the short-term impingements on oil supplies will ultimately work themselves out, we still don't seem to have a long-term energy strategy. Evidence of this is Bush's current plan to release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is really more about keeping prices down for political purposes than it is for anything else. Robbing Peter to pay Paul to minimize downside political risk is neither wise nor evidence of a strategy.

Over the long run, we all recognize that oil supplies are finite. We also recognize that dependence on foreign energy supplies limits the flexibility of our foreign policy. And now in the wake of the hurricanes, we have a greater understanding of how tenuous our supply lines are. These are all good reasons to do more in the way of alternative energy sources. Whether solar, "clean coal," fuel cells, wind, nuclear, geothermal or biomass, there are a number of options available to us. And while I don't share the hysterics' panic over dwindling oil supplies, there is no time like the present to get started in making the shift as part of a comprehensive national energy strategy. We should increase incentives to encourage more R&D and adoption of these technologies. However, in the meantime, we should really get serious about conservation. As I said previously, it can be done with existing technologies and with a mimimum of pain. But it's going to take more leadership than we saw out of President Bush yesterday to make it a reality.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Muse

She is one of the primary public figures I had in mind when I named this blog. To hear her pontificate on subjects on which, most of the time, her knowledge is limited and her experience even more-so is a truly mind-numbing experience.

While I have no great love for her home-state colleague Ms. Feinstein, I concede that the senior Senator from California is far better at arguing and detailing her positions and commands a far-greater grasp of the issues she advocates. She is a respectable political opponent in that regard.

Babs on the other hand shall we simply say, is not.

Mother Sheehan Arrested!!


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Funny Girl

I try not to get bogged down in this stuff, but I'm only human.

According to Drudge, Barbara Streisand's appearance in a Diane Sawyer interview, resulted in the misguided diva's proclamation that

This summer's back to back superstorms are proof positive we have entered a new period of "global warming emergency," artist/citizen Barbra Streisand warns. Streisand is back on the scene to promote her reunion disc with Barry Gibb. As hellstorm "Rita" churned in the Gulf, Streisand sat down for a promotional interview with ABCNEWS's Diane Sawyer. "We are in a global warming emergency state, and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense," Streisand urgently declares.

Barry Gibb?

But Drudge nicely points out the following

But Sawyer did not remind Streisand that a Category 5 hurricane struck the Bahamas with 160 mph winds -- when the singer was five years old, in 1947! And when Streisand was 8 years old, a Cat 5 hurricane -- named "Dog" -- packing 185 mph churned-away in the Atlantic. When she was 9, a Cat 5 storm named "Easy" ripped the seas with 160 mph sustained winds. Streisand was 13 years old when "Janet" hit Mexico with 150 mph winds. Streisand was celebrating her sweet sixteen as "Cleo" formed with 140 mph. At 18, Streisand read news about "Donna" AND "Ethel" -- both storms carried 140 mph winds and formed 9 days apart in 1960! One year later, when Streisand was 19, it happened again: Two Category 5 storms scared the world: "Carla" and "Hattie!" "Carla" maxed out at 175 mph winds the year Streisand made her television debut on "The Jack Paar Show." And who could forget Hurricane "Camille" -- which smashed into the United States with 190 mph, just as "Funny Girl" garners eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture and one for Barbra as Best Actress.

I don't deny global warming. Nor do I deny its importance. But there a number of questions about when, where, what and how much is in store for us. Unfortunately, the impotent and Unhinged Left seizes upon ever single weather event to suggest that its proof of impending doom. For people so concerned about "the truth" they certainly don't miss any opportunity to be disingenuous in pushing an agenda.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Shill Maher

I used to like Bill Maher a lot more than I do these days. He used to beat up on both parties equally so I found him to be rather entertaining. I also felt he had some fairly blunt, objective takes. But over the last couple of years he's begun to strike me more and more like the epitome of the just-enough-data-to-be-dangerous, whining liberal who spends vast amounts of time ruminating over, and advancing the cause of non-fact-based strawmen to -read-just-enough-to-be-dangerous audiences. Perhaps I find his rants a bit more offensive than if they cut the other way, but such is life. Nonetheless, I find it hard to laugh at jokes based upon patently untrue premises. And this seems to be Maher's trajectory with increasing frequency.

So it pains me to pimp his show, Real Time, to a certain extent. But for those mildly interested in Galloway-Hitchens, but not quite interested enough to listen to the download or get up at 5:30AM to watch on C-Span, you should get some of the flavor if you tune in to this week's Real Time. Galloway and Hitchens are Bill's guests, along with BBC lowest-common-denominator Talking Head Kitty Kay and Schwarzenegger Manfriend, Cali Congressman David Dreier. Check the link for details and showtimes in your viewing area.

Livin' in a box

That's been me for most of the last two weeks. Three really; my last week in Phoenix was too hectic for keeping up with news of the world.

My days currently consist of job-hunting and home improvement, leaving me still precious little time to dab at the computer and blog. Today though my wife is busy with her mother on personal business, there is at present no more painting to be done and so here I find myself with a few hours on my hands. Let's crawl out of the box and see what we find...

Chuck Schumer is one of my least favorite members of Congress, in either house. For my money, he is one of the more belligerent lefties in the Senate; not quite in the same league with a Ted Kennedy but Teddy has many more years of practice. Given time, I imagine Chuck will become quite the blowhard himself one day.

His broad-brush anti "right-wing" rhetoric gets my blood-boiling hotter and quicker than just about anybody going. Having said that, I must here acknowledge quickly before proceeding that in the rest of this post you may encounter things that border on, if not pass directly into political hack-territory. I dislike this man and the way he conducts his politics that much.

So imagine my delight when I caught a wiff of this the other night: Federal prosecutors have opened an inquiry into allegations that two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee employees illegally tapped into Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's credit history.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins reported the workers obtained the report in July while executing opposition research on the lieutenant governor.

How perfectly wonderful that both work for the esteemed Senator from New York. Steele's reaction was of course understandable:

Paul D. Ellington, Steele's chief of staff, issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon in reaction to the allegations.

"Lt. Gov. Steele was extremely disturbed to learn about the alleged criminal identity theft of his personal finance records by (a staff member of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,) at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "He was notified by the FBI that a federal criminal investigation is under way and has been asked not to comment on the specifics of the case.

"He intends to honor this request and expects that those responsible for these actions will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

So at the end of day one, we have two staffers for a prominent Senator illegally obtaining and using personal credit information as part of an opposition research operation. Sounds almost Nixonian, don't it?

Moving forward to day two (9/22), we see new information surfacing as bloggers begin taking an interest in the story.

A day later, we also see a mainstream response in the form of a WaPo punt, er--editorial:

As political dirty tricks go, snooping for financial dirt on Mr. Steele by illegal means strikes us as roughly on a par with eavesdropping on a rival party's private telephone conversations, as Virginia Republican officials did several years ago. Both acts display a disregard for fair play and the spirit of the law; both are indicative of the current state of partisan enmity. Voters might like to punish all the scoundrels -- if only they could tell one party's scoundrels from the other's.

Hugh is right to call such a not-serious response to the situation: Don't be fooled into thinking that The Washington Post is being tough with the scandal by running this editorial. The editorial treats the data theft as a stand alone, one-time event --and there is zero reason to believe that it is, or that a senior Schumer staffer acted on her own in deciding to break the law. It is way too soon to start writing "end of the case" editorials.

All the Post did was bury the issue beneath a veneer of bi-partisan disgust and indignation. Meanwhile, the story begs numerous questions, and as Hugh points out, somebody interested in asking them.

Why the usual-and-hardly-unexpected slow response from big media? Well, ask yourself the same question that Michelle's reader asks:

Why did the Times ignore the story about N.Y. Sen. Schumer's aid[e]s illegally obtaining Maryland Lt. Gov (and 2008 probable Senate candidate) Michael Steele's credit report?

Why is it that every other paper in town covered the story, while the Times ignored it completely?

What if a Republican senator's aid[e]s had illegally obtained Sen. Clinton's credit report? Do you honestly think that the Times would have been quiet?

I'm not generally one who sits around screaming about media bias; but some times some things just stand out. I can't help but think that were Chuck's (D) an 'R', there'd be no calling off the dogs here.

In the meantime, somebody connected to a powerful and influential Senator has apparently committed a crime. The details need and deserve finding out.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Many apologies to the loyal fan-base. After a strong couple of weeks of picking up the slack during Paul's move, I simply wasn't up to the task this week. I have some big changes going on and have some other priorities at the moment. So apologies all around. For what its worth, I tried to throw the crowd a bone on Thursady, but my internet access went down for some reason.

But, I've got some time this weekend to post on a number of subjects, including big stories surrounding North Korea, Germany and Iraq. And as I'm sitting here watching all the media clowns in their rain slickers telling us how heavy the winds and rain are, it's clear that Hurricane Rita is about to pound the Port Arthur-Sabine Pass-Lake Charles region. Prayers go out to our friends down there.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Juicy stuff in the Roberts'-SC saga: Senator Pat Leahy(D) of Vermont will be voting 'Yea' on the Roberts nomination, in direct opposition to his party's Senate leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

It's a 13-5 vote in committee, and looks to pass easily in the Senate at large. Divide and conquer.

Many of us on the right have been proclaiming for weeks that there's nothing to get this guy with, and we were right.

Painting day (Yet more from Tales of the Great Unpacking

Before we're done putting our stamp on this house, we'll be painting in all three bedrooms. My wife's ambitious plan in the first-stage of the move was to have all of it done before I arrived in town at all.

Did not happen. For a number of reasons, not the least of which her desire to think bigger than we can manage.

In the back-up plan, we were finishing all three before moving and placing everything into the house, hopefully co-inciding with the laying of new carpet and wood flooring. That, like plan A was a bust.

So here we the house a full week and so far only one room done, and that not even completely. Two of the rooms require a coat of primer thanks to the previous paint job.

Half an afternoon, but no arguments later (we measure home improvement projects not in terms of man-hours but by the number of arguments required to finish the project), bedroom #2 has a coat of primer on the walls and is ready for the application of the colored coat. But only slightly more than I am wearing on hands, legs and even in my hair.

I spent a summer painting during college and enjoyed the work. Recent efforts have gone nothing like I remember the 'good 'old days'...I've gotten too old, too slow and too lazy to crank out finished walls like I used to.

Thank God I don't have to work for a living, I guess!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More of this please.

Yes, more of this. Much, much, much more.

Courtesy of Radio Blogger, we get a nice glimpse at Lt. Gen. Russell Honore pinch-hitting for New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and putting the media in its rightful place at a press conference related to preparations for hurricane Rita. I enthusiastically look forward to the day when the press no longer presumes expertise it doesn't possess.

Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?

Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honore: That's not your business.

Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements. Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them. And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state. We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go. And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are. But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.

Male reporter: General Honore, we were told that Berman Stadium on the west bank would be another staging area...

Honore: Not to my knowledge. Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center. Once we complete the plan with the mayor, and is approved by the governor, then we'll start that in the next 12-24 hours. And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Love this guy.

'C' for 'Can't catch a break!'

As reported by Smartmoney with a hat tip to Michelle:

Oil companies began pulling workers back out of the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, as Tropical Storm Rita threatened the Gulf Coast production and refining assets spared by Hurricane Katrina just three weeks ago.

Chevron Corp. (CVX) decided to evacuate the staff needed to keep oil and natural gas production platforms running, while Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and BP PLC (BP) began pulling nonessential staff. The Chevron evacuations also affect production facilities previously owned by Unocal Corp., which Chevron bought in August.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center expects Rita to grow into a major hurricane covering a wide area in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall this weekend. The center has shifted its forecast path for Rita northward and now shows the storm targeting Houston and running near producing areas in the western Gulf, heightening concerns in the U.S. and global energy markets.

"You add any supply problems on top of anything we have now, we'll likely see prices spike, at least until the infrastructure gets back to where it is, which is still not back to normal," Doug MacIntyre, an analyst at the federal Energy Information Administration, said in an interview.

Talk about getting kicked when you're down, the energy industry looks to take it in the teeth this week when Rita moves into the Gulf and makes landfall. If projections hold, the storm will impact energy-producing areas from Houston-Galveston to Louisiana.

Just what the doctor ordered; more questions about supply. In response to the approaching storm, oil prices jumped $4-a-barrel on Monday but have dropped some today.

Small consolation however when you consider that oil prices are 45% higher than they were a year ago with no long-term answers in sight. High oil prices of course contribute to higher prices at the pump, however it is not the only concern.

Frankly, this is where I begin to lose my patience; it's the refining capacity folks! Oil supply is tight but adequate enough for our needs. There is not enough refining capacity to produce enough of the numerous fuels required in every part of the country in sufficient quantities to keep gas prices down.

I understand that many want to see this produce the long-awaited jump to 'alternate' fuels. Frankly, that's fine with me; it's the future of energy and eventually the markets will get us there. In the meantime however, I'm driven to the brink of madness by refusals to even entertain an increase in refining capacity to deal with the shorter- and medium-run difficulties in managing the gasoline supply.

Small town news

This is what passes for big news in a town of less than 50,000:

With wall-to-wall freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, slithering reptiles and exotic birds, Lompoc's newest store may sound more like Sea World or a zoo, but Petco and the city are banking on the pet supply store raking in the big bucks.

The arrival of Petco in Lompoc will boost the city's sales tax revenues and fill a need for animal lovers who prefer to shop at a major pet supply store.

I miss the Republic, and nay though I never thought I'd say it, the Times.


Big, Evil Business (TM)

Indeed, Big Business is the bane of this society's existence. Corporations simply leach wealth, corrupt our politics and destroy our environment. They add nothing to our quality of life. Or so the meme goes. Andrew Sullivan paints a more balanced picture.

Planet Dearth

Sorry for the scant contributions, but am fairly busy elsewhere. Posts in progress include the North Korea...mess...and the German...mess. Probably won't get them up until late this evening, though. In the meantime, if you're looking for another outlet for killing time, I encourage you to take your frustrations out here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Why I Hate Fantasy Baseball, Part X?

So there you are, NateColbertTwinbill, running away with your league's regular season title. You finish your year with a cool .632 winning percentage and with a 34 1/2 game lead over the second place club.

Your club is a virtual who's who: Sexson, Glaus, Figgins, Peralta, Delgado, Abreu, Beltran, Huff are some of your hitters. Your pitching staff is unreal. Ben Sheets and Rich Harden got hurt, but you remain unconcerned because you're rolling out the likes of Prior, Schilling, Livan Hernandez, Garland, Javier Vazquez, Zach Day, K-Rod, Tom Gordon, Scott Schields, Brandon Fuentes, Dustin Hermanson. Life is good. You're going to own once the playoffs start. You get a bye while the minions slug it out for the honor of playing you.

Then in one week versus the fourth place finisher, it all comes crashing down. You lose 7-6. You're in the third place consolation game. Luckily, you've got two weeks to win this one. That great pitching staff? Wins zero games. Zero. Gets killed in ERA, WHIP and K's as well. "That opponent must've had some staff," you say. A.J. Burnett, Jay Seo, John Lackey, Danny Haren, Paul Byrd, Cliff Lee.

But I'm not bitter.

State-sanctioned scams

What am I talking about here? Generally, 'scam' brings to mind things like this; people taking advantage of something for personal enrichment while defrauding others. Now, some might agree with me in principle as I explain this, but we're not really talking apples to apples.

What you must understand is, it's not really a scam when the state says it's okay. Now that you're asking again, "What's your point?," I'll come right to it. I'm talking about property taxes in California.

Since the adoption of Proposition 13 in 1978, property tax increases in this state have been restricted by law. Now, for most of the 27 years since Prop 13 passed I've been oblivious to this issue: I was 12 years old when it passed, and only until now have I ever owned a home in the state. Hence my current interest in the subject.

As we moved through escrow I was amazed that my mortgage broker- though residing in Arizona licensed to do business in California-was very unclear as to how property taxes were being assessed on the new home.

In Arizona, it's a very straight-forward process, one that makes pretty clear sense: every year the home is assessed and the tax-rate applied to the assessed value of the home. Here in California, not so much (and this is where I get on my soap-box).

Advised by our escrow officer, I came to learn that our taxes were based on the sale price of the home. It represents a percentage (not a large one by any means; hardly bigger than what we paid in Glendale to my surprise) not of the appraised or assessed value of the land and structure, but simply a percentage of what it sells for. This is equitable?

I immediately think of my in-laws, who live in a newer and bigger home on a bigger lot, who pay 1/2 the tax amount we must simply because they were fortunate enough to buy it at a time when housing prices in the area were still reasonable. This is equitable?

I'm not being taxed on my desire to live in a large, new home on a large piece of property; I'm being taxed based on my bad-timing in that a smaller home, older than I am (nice and cute as it is), is all I can afford in the area as a result of a runaway real-estate market over the last few years.

Some may think I'm griping about paying my taxes. I assure you, I am not. What I am griping about is a perceived inequity. Why should my taxes be higher than someone else who owns a bigger and/or newer home on more land?

Seems to me any equitable tax system would see higher taxes paid on the newer and bigger structure. But maybe that's just me...

Bad dog! Go sit in the corner...

Well, actually no. She's by far the better behaved of the two animals, and also the one with the quirkier personality. As evidenced by this stare down with the wall that lasted a good 15 minutes one night...

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary since we brought her home from Noah's Ark in Glendale. Pretty much the best $75 bucks we've ever spent.

Irony of Ironies

Is it just me or is it ironic that the Mayor of New Orleans and others are pushing so hard to get residents to return to the city while the Bush administration is resistant because of concerns about disease and environmental hazards? Meanwhile, in the aftermath of 9/11 wasn't the claim that Bush had tried to obscure the environmental hazards surrounding Ground Zero in order to rush people back into the neighborhood?

I know, I'm not supposed to think like that.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"What is this and where does it go?" (More from Tales of the Great Unpacking)

I've lost count how many times this has escaped my lips in the last week. If I never pick up a box and haul it into the house again, it will be far too soon.

I think that most people prefer unpacking to packing, but I'm different. To me, unpacking is an even bigger nightmare; boxes everywhere, many in the wrong place with contents unkown prompting far too many questions. In our case, also prompting far too many arguments about where things ought to be or if they should be at all!

In between interviews and other errands around town this last week, we've been more-slowly-than-surely unpacking our life and emptying it into the new house. When I arrived here last weekend, the garage was an un-navigable maze of boxes and furniture pieces. As of last night, it now houses one of the cars.

To her credit, once my wife got past the paralyzing problem of figuring out where to begin, we have finished much of what needs to be done in the last few days, as evidenced by the fact that only one car still sits in the driveway. That is not to say that the house is set-up by any means.

The good news is though that boxes are all finally in the appropriate room, just awaiting the day we actually open them and unpack/store their contents in their new places. Though I don't look forward to that, I am thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Another few days and this place will be feeling even more like home.

German Election: Bye Bye Gerhard?

Let's hope so. I've been wanting to post more about the run-up to today's election in Germany for the last couple of months. But between travel schedule, work, Paul's move, etc. I've been a little hamstrung on that front. But today's election represents an opportunity to improve the tone in this important trans-Atlantic relationship. Notice that I said tone and not substance.

Gerhard Schroeder, the Social Democrats and the red-green coalition are not my favorite folks in the world. Their token and ineffectual efforts to reform structural impediments to growth in Germany have been bad for the German people. And Schroeder's coalition has made a political career out of throwing gas on the fire of latent anti-Americanism. While a victory by Angela Merkel and the CDU won't result in German troops on the ground in Iraq or radical shifts in the nation's approach to dealing with the demographic challenges to its beloved social safety net, I would think that a change in governments (which seems a foregone conclusion) would be a positive step for Germany and our bilateral relationship with that country.

The guys over at David's Medienkritik (of course) provide a concise overview of the stakes, likely outcomes and ramifications. Additional analysis is provided by Spiegel Online, Craig Hines of the Houston Chronicle and the AP's David Rising. Germany's Deutsche Welle takes a look at facts, figures and demography.

Bill Clinton Speaks Some Truth

In an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press this morning, former President Bill Clinton rendered a very clear and astute judgement about political Islam and terrorism.

My experience has been that most of these terrorists have political objectives which can be clearly defined, and then try to give them a religious overlay. Now, maybe some of the people they get to go do suicide bombings are in the grip of a religious fervor or have been convinced that God wanted them to do this, but religion has been used by people for political reasons, just the way Milosevic used ethnic differences in Bosnia. I still believe behind a lot of this is just cold-blooded power concerns and people fighting over land and resources and all the things people have fought over since the beginning of time.

If only George Bush were capable of making such a statement. It's nothing earth-shaking, mind you, but there are some key points and nuances worthy of noting. Clinton makes clear that bin Laden and his ilk are fundamentally disingenuous in their proclamations. They kill innocents not at the behest of Allah, but primarily out of self interest. And those that carry out martyrdom operations are nothing more than unfortunate pawns that a bin Laden uses to accrue wealth, power, resources and influence. They are a means to his personal end.

So for those who would have us believe that al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists are simply reacting to the wrongs done them by American policy, a reality check and some perspective are in order. It is, and has always been, a question of haves vs. have-nots and the manipulation and exploitation of that divide. The hatred which is stirred has far less to do with America than it does with America's position in the world. Were it that Brazil were the global hegemon, I feel certain that bin Laden would be attacking Sao Paulo.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Katrina in Perspective

As we continue to try to wrap our heads around the devastation wrought by Katrina and ask questions about the government's response, I think it is worthwhile to take time out for a reality check here and there. A little perspective never hurt anyone, now did it?

Thus far, the loss of life related to Katrina is being reported at 648. Surely the death toll will rise in the days ahead. And of course we have also seen massive destruction to property and infrastructure. The magnitude of the disaster cannot be understated.

Nonetheless, those who are attempting to exploit Katrina for political purposes drone on endlessly about the government's belated and ineffectual response. And indeed it was belated and ineffectual. But they go on to speak of the racism which left the predominantly poor and African-American communities behind. On Wednesday, George Galloway repeatedly raised a disingenuous refrain about the government's failure to "even pick up the bodies." (No, they were just focused on search and rescue, but no matter.) Some have raised questions about Bush and other administration officials being on vacation when the disaster struck. We've been told that this is all the result of global warming. That it exposes the inherent inequities of the capitalist model. We've also heard the chorus of commentary about how this was never supposed to happen in America. This is the sort of scene only to be witnessed in a Sri Lanka or some other Third World sinkhole, not emblazoned across TV screens in such a wealthy and capable country. How could such a thing happen in America?

Well ignoring the ethnocentric arrogance and latent racism inherent in such a question for a moment, how does this situation really compare with other such tragedies? And is it such a shocking development that it all happened right here, in America?

In August 2003, nearly 15,000 people died as the result of an unprecedented heatwave in France. Yes, that's right. The equivalent of five 9/11's! In a country in which air conditioning is much more rare than the US, the elderly suffered disproportionately in comparison to other demographics. And to whom should the blame for this huge, possibly forseeable disaster be assigned?

The new estimate comes a day after the French Parliament released a harshly worded report blaming the deaths on a complex health system, widespread failure among agencies and health services to coordinate efforts, and chronically insufficient care for the elderly...The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors, hospital staff and many others take leave.

And that's not all. While Jacques Chirac continued to enjoy his vacation in Quebec that August, the bodies of some of France's dead were left to decompose or just went unclaimed.

Bernard Mazeyrie, managing director of France's largest undertakers', noted that many of the bereaved were in no hurry to bury their aged loved ones, preferring to leave them on ice while they stayed sur la plage to finish their holidays.

Dozens of victims of France's heatwave who remained unclaimed despite appeals for relatives to come forward have been buried in paupers' graves in an official ceremony.

Has a rather familiar ring, doesn't it?

Using the logic streams of the exploiters in the case of Katrina, what sort of conclusions should we have drawn about France, the French people and the French government in 2003? That they discriminate against the elderly and poor? That Chirac didn't care about the elderly or those not wealthy enough to afford air conditioning? That the government did not respond quickly enough? That perhaps if French troops hadn't been in Ivory Coast they could have supported the relief effort? That the French don't have enough respect for the sanctity of family or respect for the dead to claim bodies or to give them a proper burial? That this is the cost of France not doing more to curb emissions related to global warming? And what of the rich doctors who played on the Riviera while so many lost their lives? Should we condemn the socialist model for its inefficacy? Should we have thought that in a country as rich and powerful and technically sophisticated as France, that it is inconceivable that such a fate should befall so many? After all, isn't that the sort of thing that happens in some Third World sinkhole?


Debates, debates, debates!

I've spent a good deal of time this week writing about the George Galloway-Christopher Hitchens debate. And I think I can milk it for at least one more post. Stay tuned.

However, if I'd had my druthers and it had been a geographic possibility I would have preferred to attend a different debate on Wednesday. For on Wednesday at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, historian Victor Davis Hanson debated media gadfly Arianna Huffington on the subject of "American empire." Since I wasn't able to see it, I've been desperately seeking a video feed or transcript of this event. But only now have I found a functional video feed. I'll be taking a look over the weekend and will respond with my thoughts. But in the meantime, if you are interested, you can watch the video yourself here.

As I've said in previous posts, I believe our number one national priority should be to engage in a discussion seeking to clearly define America's role in the world. This discussion was largely abandoned in the last election. We spend a lot more time discussing Lacy Peterson, the Dixie Chicks and Tara Reid than we do engaging in such a vital national dialogue. So the Hanson-Huffington debate is indeed worthy of our attention. Though I would tend to think it would be a mismatch, I feel certain that some interesting insights are there to be mined.

What We Are Dealing With, Part 12

"She would have sent troops." So says a campaign poster of one of Germany's senior ministers, attacking opposition leader Angela Merkel. SPD candidate Rolf Schwanitz has denounced the CDU's leader and likely victor in tomorrow's German election by attacking her pro-American stance. And he's done it by exploiting dead American troops. Seriously, how low can you go? Ray over at David's Medienkritik breaks the story. If you would like to make your feelings known to the Social Democratic Party, Ray provides an e-mail address:

We also suggest readers contact the SPD's "Coordinator for German-American Cooperation", Karsten Voigt. Mr. Voigt can be reached at:

You can also contact the German Embassy in Washington here. And Schwanitz's office here. For those non-German speakers who wish to write directly to Herr Schwanitz, scroll to the bottom of that page and input [last name, first name], [e-mail address], [your message] and then click on 'Absenden.'

Kudos once again to the guys over at David's. They do a fantastic job over there and they are growing by leaps and bounds. If you're interested in German media perspectives on the US, bookmark those guys. Because they've got it covered.

What We Are Dealing With, Part 11

Rupert Murdoch recounts a rather interesting conversation he had with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Murdoch says

Tony Blair was shocked by the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, describing it as “full of hatred of America.”

Not surprising really. While the BBC has some of the most diverse coverage imaginable and some outstanding correspondents, it is my opinion that the Beeb really reports on the United States with quite the jaundiced eye, almost cheerleading for American stumbles or gleefully pushing views which support the stereotypes it seeks to perpetuate.

I first became aware of this annoying habit during a visit to Germany in November, 2000. As the 2000 post-election legal battle raged in Florida, I took a weekend trip to visit friends in Bavaria. But one night I stayed up late to watch the BBC's coverage of Katherine Harris' certification of the Florida vote. Now keep in mind that just days before I had been in the US and I was very up-to-date on what was happening. But to listen to the reporters and commentators of the BBC, one would think that Bush had done something to attempt to steal the election. One would think that it was Bush who was pushing the case through the courts, as opposed to the Gore team. The Jeb Bush angle was blown way out of proportion and the involvement of "familiar faces" like James Baker lent credence to the whole "old boy network" "Big Business" memes. In watching this coverage, you really got the sense that something sinister had happened. That a great evil and injustice was being perpetrated. Of course, facts known then and that have since come to light quite easily refute such a notion.

OK, so what? Well, several months later I found myself in the Red Lion pub (one of seemingly hundreds with the same name in London) just a short walk from Downing Street. While enjoying a pint of Boddington's, I was engaged by a local in some interesting political conversation. He seemed a pretty informed, rational guy. The subject then turned to the US and he said, "You don't live in a democracy. Your last election proves that. The big money stole that election. It was all a fix from the outset. It always is. Or do you really cling to the notion that this just magically happened somehow?" As if "the big money" hadn't also pushed Gore as well. But as I tried to explain the outcome of the Media Consortium Florida Ballot Project which made the clear point that a fix was an impossibility, because due to

"..misjudgements about what was likely on the ballots, both sides pursued [legal] strategies which were diametrically opposed to their own interests during the recount."

he became quite angry, told me in no uncertain terms what an idiot I was, and stormed off. As he became more intoxicated he would occassionally point in my direction and bellow "There's a Yankee Doodle Dandy!" Such is the power of The Beeb and other European outlets in pushing their stereotypes of America on their audiences. Even when presented with vital facts (which almost surely received precious little airplay in Europe), the cognitive dissonance proves too much for some, and they storm off in a huff or are driven to drink.

Of course, this is only one example. In one pub. In one city. But of course, this is also just the 2000 election. Not Iraq, Katrina, the Banda Aceh tsunami, Kyoto Protocol or anything else. And one wonders what skews are proliferated in coverage of those subjects. And if the coverage is so skewed in nations that are nominally America-friendly (Britain), what do we think it is like in France? Russia? Egypt? Saudi Arabia?

It's a big problem. Of course Bush has been ridiculed for trying to address it through a more activist public diplomacy effort. But this folks, is really what we are dealing with.

The Scene: Observations on Galloway-Hitchens

Wednesday's debate was scheduled to start at 7pm. I wanted a good seat so I arrived fairly early. I was probably within a block of Baruch College at around 6:10 when I spied the line spilling out of the theater's front door wrapping around the block.

Since it was very humid and I was sweating like a pig, I had looked forward to hitting the cool air of Mason Hall straight off. But that wasn't meant to be. As I approached the entrance, I realized there were two separate lines; one for ticket holders and one for will call. So as a "will caller," I was further distressed to learn that I would first have to wait for my tickets then join the line with the hundreds of others stewing in the humidity.

As I waited for my tickets, I noticed that there were large boxes of leaflets documenting some of Gallloway's more zany quotes and activities. Of course this had all been compiled by Hitch and I had seen them days before, but I was pleased to see that the onslaught had already begun. But shortly therafter some yahoos walked by offering me Democracy Now leaflets and other similar BS. A preview of coming attractions.

Amidst inexplicable confusion at the door, I was allowed in to get my tickets. And into this same lobby ticket holders were also moving toward the metal detectors (Really. I guess they were worried about folks like me showing up and allowing our "neocon rot" to seep into the theater). And I wondered to myself, "Self, upon getting your ticket why should you walk back out and reassemble at the back of the line? After all, hadn't you suffered great pains to get here the week before? And wasn't it, like really humid outside? And, like, didn't it appear as though no one would notice? And aren't you, like, the guy who never cuts in line? Ever?" So I simply walked in and found a seat about ten rows from the stage. I'm in place by 6:30. Assertiveness rules.

So then it started. A kind of panicky uneasiness set in. In Sesame Street parlance, one of these things was not like the others. Suddenly the row I was on started to fill in. The people immediately surrounding me all arrived together and were wearing buttons that said "Is it fascism yet?" Ugggh. "Oh great. The moonbat family is here. They are all eating salads. It smells like salad. Balsamic vinagrette, I think. Are those madarin orange slices I smell? Is it necessary to eat now? Weren't the people at the door adamant about no food? Weren't they adamant about not cutting in line? Oh, never mind."

18 year-old girl hanging out with some older moonbats, mouthful of arugula: "Doesn't this guy Hitchens know he's going to get ganged-up on? What a moron."

40-something year old woman next to me, mouthful of walnuts and mandarin orange slices: "They were passing out Hitchens propaganda out front. I hate these scumbags."

18 year-old to 40-something: "Oh, these are great pictures of you in Hawaii. What's with the tie-dye?" "I'm a child of the 60's, what can I say?"

I think I'm going to barf.

"Can you believe the metal detectors? I heard it was to keep the neocons out." You know us "neocons," we're always exercising our second amendment rights.

Fat hysterical woman joining her salad-eating friends, standing right over me as if I weren't there and gesticulating wildly, her arms flailing within centimeters of my head: "Oh my god! I've got great news. I just heard that all of the networks are reporting that because of all the FEMA failures they are now re-opening the investigation into 9/11!!!" "Oh, that's great news!!" "I know! Now they realize that Bush isn't above killing people just because he can." "Well you're not gonna like this tonight. This Hitchens guy is one of those monsters."

Searching for an air sickness bag in the seatback in front of me. Starting to think, "Maybe this was a bad idea. All these freaks here. This is going to descend into a free-for-all. And I'm surrounded by morons who will be yelling and screaming and cackling at every mention of Halliburton. I'm the only pro-Hitch guy in the whole joint."

The guy sitting in front of me is wearing a Guerilla News Network t-shirt. Some of the staff working the event are hotties. I assume they are Baruchers. Later I learn that they work for Democracy Now and I have to take three showers when I get home.

Some weird looking NPR librarian crunchy chick keeps loping giraffe-like across the stage. She's wearing a black vest, black new wave pants with horizontal silver zippers at mid-calf, and a red turtleneck sweater. "Who is she? She looks ridiculous."

"Oh my god! That dude's wearing a 'Who would Jesus Bomb?' t-shirt. It's amazing how many nose rings I've seen. I mean, this is New York. There's a lot of them anyway, but per capita this must be, like, nose ring ground zero."

Lots of info cross-pollination going on. Fat gesticulator hands a New York Magazine article to Child of the 60s. "Wait, no. New York Magazine?" "Just read it. It's about this guy who was on death row who was wrongly accused and ________ was trying to get him out for years." "Wait, this article starts out saying that the armed robber was an undocumented alien. 'Undocumented?' You've got to be kidding. That's right wing lingo. I'm not about to read the rest of this crap." Right, gloss over the armed robber part...

I try to tune them out. I scan the crowd. "That cat's wearing a Pakistan National Soccer Team jersey. I'm not surprised at all. Makes sense. This is just the norm here, though. At least I haven't seen a Che t-shirt." 18 year-old arugula girl: "When I met Ben at the polling station to vote in the primary, he was wearing his Che shirt. He looked so cute." I bet he was dreamy, all right. Cuban girls who have been murdered in the name of the revolution sure think Che's dreamy.

More leaflets. The Campus Anti-War Network is hosting a rally. "Military out of our schools! Bring the troops home now!" Child of the 60's is studying the 8-pt type intently. World Socialist Web: "Katrina proves failures of profit system!"

I'm sweating. I'm queasy. I'm wanting my blankie. "But why? Why do I care? These are all a bunch of nutters." Thinking. "Well, because I cannot deal with them. I cannot deal with their irrationality. They're so completely brainwashed by Counterpunch and Michael Moore and tales of the Trilateralists and Illuminati that one cannot begin to have a meaningful conversation with them. They're ANGRY. Really ANGRY. They're in no mood to be presented with compelling facts or to be persuaded. They lack couth. They have no sense of decorum. They feel ueber-entitled because they're ANGRY...and, well, RIGHT. Once the debate starts they are going to be rude and loud and annoying. They don't want to see a debate. They don't want to learn anything. They already know it all, even though precious few know who Rolf Ekeus is or have read Ken Pollack or paid any attention to what David Kay said before the war. They'd all rather pile into a room and engage in a few hours of primal scream therapy yammering about how Bush is the anti-christ. This absolutism paired with irrationality and volume is what makes me queasy. It's virtually unbearable."

Now it's 7p and they announce that there is going to be a delay. I'm sure these are the kind of folks who would have gotten it right in St. Bernard parish. Child of the 60s asks Fat oops Gravitationally Challenged Gesticulator where "Dilbert" and "Shaheen" are. For a second I wonder if she means that the cartoon character and Garden Hat Cindy are going to show.

I try to tune them out again. Scanning the crowd. "Oh my god, that guy looks like a psycho. His hand is in his jacket pocket. Still. Does he have a gun? His hand is still in his pocket. He looks like he's about to whip out a gun. Why do I wonder if his name is Gavrilo Princip? He looks uneasy. I mean, really. He looks like he's about to go on a five state killing spree." Lots of older unemployed men with ponytails here.

It's about 7:15 now. "Can we just get ON with this? Geez. Give me something to take my mind off of these morons. Wait. Wait. Is that? No. Is it? It is. I think it is. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be within fifteen feet of Katrina vanden Heuvel. The hysterical editor of The Nation is literally within diving distance. I could take her out right now. But not without getting thrown out. I wish I could throw something at her."

Lots of frenetic activity on stage. People are asked to take their seats. Suddenly the the NPR giraffe lopes back onto the stage. She makes a bad joke about how the debate is over. We have to wait longer. "Who is that? She looks ridiculous. Did you see those pants??? Oh, THAT'S Amy Goodman. Why is the moderator of this thing wearing pants from 1982? How am I supposed to take any of this seriously?"

The banners behind her are for the International Socialist Review, The Nation Institute, the New Press and the National Council of Arab-Americans. Pretty weird when I feel the most solidarity with the latter rather than any of the others.

"Oh my god. What am I in for?"

Friday, September 16, 2005

What We Are Dealing With, Part 10

This series has been primarily dedicated to European perspectives on the US and US policy. More specifically, I've focused a lot on Germany's orientation. But this series was never meant to be so uni-dimensional. The intent was always to share international views and as we move forward I will try to diversify the portfolio.

Tonight's entry brings us some insights from arguably the world's most influential Arabic language newspaper, Britain's Al-Sharq al-Awsat. Mamoun Fandy, a senior fellow at the Baker Institute (yes, the James A. Baker, III Institute at Rice University), who has been widely published here in the US and has been seen on a good many news programs, writes of the Katrina aftermath

John Stewart, an American commentator, made a statement loaded with irony, he said that Hurricane Katrina “requires a person to move far from the incident to form an objective view and I believe that President Bush’s view is the most objective since he was so far removed from the incident”. It is comments such as this that have been a main feature of American media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated three states the size of the United Kingdom.

With all due respect, Mr. Fandy, but when did John Stewart make the transition from comedian to commentator? Is the joke of The Daily Show lost on you?

Now don't get me wrong. I love Stewart and I love The Daily Show. It's great political satire. Similarly, I have great respect for Fandy. He's a very astute political observer. But when a Middle Eastern PhD living in this country reports back to the Arabic-speaking world that a comedian / satirist is a "commentator," well it just shows you what we are dealing with.

Oh but wait, there's more!

Hence, Hurricane Katrina will at least influence the Middle East situation as much as Monica Lewinsky influenced the performance of the Clinton administration. Clinton did not have enough American support to enable him to pressure Ehud Barak; this resulted in him placing more pressure on the Palestinians, until they rejected his offer. He then absolved himself of responsibility by saying that Arafat rejected the generous offer. The truth was that Clinton did not have sufficient political credit to allow him to propose such a huge initiative at that time. Therefore, the question remains; will Katrina leave President Bush with some political credit that will allow him to achieve the dream of the two countries? I have deep doubts about that.

Dr. Fandy...please. You are comparing devastation, hundreds of deaths and years of reconstruction with the stain on a blue dress? And Dr. Fandy, to what extent did or would American public opinion have to do with Clinton's ability to negotiate Middle East peace? Are you really suggesting that the reason negotiations failed was that the American public was yapping at Clinton's heels on the subject? My guess is that most Americans could care less how it is arrived at, only that peace is realized. And Dr. Fandy, please, please, please explain to me how and why the whole shebang is dependent upon American involvement? I thought that the Arab objective was to get the Americans out of Middle Eastern affairs. Now you are suggesting that the US is essential to the resolution of the conflict. Now which is it? Or do I have it all wrong?

Dr. Fandy, of course feels quite comfortable in making such mindless commentary in Arabic-language publications, but I have a feeling he sings a different tune in those in which he thinks his hosts in America might actually read his analysis. Then again, this duplicity is very common in our dealings with the Middle East. We hear one thing said to our face by Middle Eastern leaders, bureaucrats and academics and read quite another espoused to the domestic audiences back home. Be sure none of that duplicity has anything to do with galvanizing public support for the powers that be. And we wonder why they hate us.

And thus, we come to the close of another chapter of "What we are dealing with..."

Loon factory: Sheehan, Galloway and Moore

At Wednesday's Galloway-Hitchens debate, "Gorgeous" George dared to raise the name of Cindy Sheehan in a predictably vacuous moment of pandering to the slobbering moonbats. He bemoaned the death of Casey, whom his mother had "given" to the war (correction there, GG, he went of his own volition and against his mother's wishes). More on this ludicrous hypocrisy in an upcoming post, but I progress... In any case, such "sinister piffle" should have clarified for anyone with a brain that Georgie's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment was his last, best stand. Michael Moore's self-marginalization probably

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.

So whither the matriarch of the loony left, Garden Hat Cindy? Well, I'll give her credit. In trying to hijack the suffering brought about by Katrina for her own purposes she's showing more media savvy than one might give her credit for (Kudos to Quasi-MoDo, who was on to her media savvy from Day One: "a 48-year-old Californian with a knack for P.R." ). But it's only a matter of time before she, too, jumps the shark like Galloway and Moore.

And this post on Moore's website may well make Little Big Horn look like a Custerian phoenix rising from the ashes. I present you with Exhibit A:

People were running out of food and water and they were being forced to go to the Superdome. They didn't want to go to the Superdome, because their homes were pretty intact: they wanted to stay and have food and water brought to them.

Yes, and I would like the government to deliver a brand new Ferrari to my front door. Could there be a clearer summary of where this crowd's head is at than this statement by Ms. Shaheen (hat tip, Gutfeld)? Newsflash, Cind: it was a g_dd__n hurricane! A natural and human disaster of epic proportions. And while I feel your pain; no really, I do, shouldn't individual wants and preferences be trumped by communal needs? Wouldn't the idea be to bring people to the food and water rather than to try to get to remote regions via dangerous and impassable roads? Hello, anyone home? And wasn't the argument that the government abandoned the impoverished black communities? Now which is it? Did the authorities forcibly remove these folks from their homes or were they abandoned because they are poor and black?

And this woman took up how much mindspace and airtime? And how many people were hoisting her up as a Crawford, Texas version of the guy in Tiananmen Square facing down the tank?

But wait, there's more. I present you with Exhibit B:

One thing that truly troubled me about my visit to Louisiana was the level of the military presence there. I imagined before that if the military had to be used in a CONUS (Continental US) operations that they would be there to help the citizens: Clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and protect them. But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests.

I probably don't even need to say this, because you're smart enough to undo this sinister piffle on your own, but in case representatives of Moronica are in the hizzy: I thought the deal was that the government didn't do enough? Not enough food, medicine and water? Not enough troops to maintain order? Well, I guess the last part wasn't on Cindy's agenda at all, as we see in Exhibit C:

If I had a store with an inventory of insured belongings, and a tragedy happened, I would fling my doors open and tell everyone to take what they need: it is only stuff. When our fellow citizens are told to "shoot to kill" other fellow citizens because they want to stay alive, that is military and governmental fascism gone out of control.

You're getting this, right? Cindy is careful to say that she would do this only if her goods were insured. Never met a buck she wouldn't pass. I imagine it's easy to overlook that word and the notion that as long as someone pays and it's not her or the looters it's all good. But let's think about this bust-out humanitarianism for a moment, shall we? The people of Algiers (and elsewhere) didn't want to leave. They wanted, nay, expected that food and water would be brought to them. And as they waited...for literally...hours...many decided they just couldn't wait anymore. So they had to loot. They had to bust into FootAction. After all, you could boil the tongue of some Air Jordans if you got the munchies. Meanwhile, if the government treats their exploitation of the disaster as a crime and a form of insurrection, well by God, that's fascism!! Is it then surprising at all that Cindy feels as she does about Iraq? After all, Casey was trying to impose order, deliver food, protect innocents and rebuild. He was such a fascist! He should have delivered the food and then split. Otherwise, he was asking for it. Has this woman ever encountered a brain cell?

Exhibit D:

It is a Christ-like principal to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless.

Isn't Principal Skinner a Christ-like principal? I know, now I'm just toying with her. But seriously, as with Galloway on Wednesday, what are you to do when you encounter this stuff? Like Hitch, this is all I'm left with.

Exhibit E:

If George Bush truly listened to God and read the words of the Christ, Iraq and the devastation in New Orleans would have never happened.

Well, at least it's not Saddam's intransigence at the heart of the Iraq war or nature's fault for Katrina. It's Bush's failure to read the Bible. Pheww. There for a minute I thought she was going to go all Laurie David on us and blame global warming.

Exhibit F:

I don't care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don't care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don't care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.

She shore don't tawlk like shee's from arouyund heere. Or even Californeeeya. So bottom line with Garden Hat Cindy is that the government is responsible for everything in our lives and that the citizenry bears little if any responsibility for themselves. If disaster strikes, sit on your ass and wait for the Feds to show up with food and water. If they don't get there fast enough, steal from your neighbor, especially if he is insured. That way, everbody wins. You get your chow, the neighbor gets his dough and Cindy, Mike and George's enemies, Evil Corporations (TM) are left holding the bag. Which is what they deserve since they are evil. But when the Feds DO arrive with their medicine and their food and their water and their guns and occupation, make sure you call them fascists.

Or better yet, spring some IED's on 'em like Iraq's minutemen did on Casey.

Don't-Tax-But-Spend-Anyway Republicanism

Drafting on my comments from last night's speech, Andrew takes it the next step:

Buying popularity by spending billions was not why I originally became a conservative. Increasing the welfare state, burdening the future generations with mountainous debt, confusing politics with faith, failing to impose basic law and order as a primary reponsibility for government: these things I thought were characteristics of the left. They now define the Bush administration. I became a conservative because I saw in my native country what a terrible, incompetent, soul-destroying thing big government socialism is. It breaks my heart to see much of it now being implemented in America - by Republicans.

Preach it brutha!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A memo to no one in particular


Do you recall about a year or two ago when I let slip on a message board that I'd discovered where you worked at the time? Do you recall your reaction to seeing that post?

I do. Vividly. You were right to be angry with me for sharing information that had no place there, certainly not coming at least from anyone besides you.

While I'm appreciative of free advertising, I am not particularly pleased that you took it upon yourself to link this blog at that same message board, for many of the same reasons you gave me before. That is not a friendly place, and people with a little work, now know my real name, have access to my personal email address and can even know where I live.

While I understand that blogging is a 'public' activity, there is a reason I did not publicize this on that board. I know that you have linked to your own blog many times there. You are perfectly within your right to do so, and I was perfectly within my right to maintain my privacy vis-a-vis that place and the people who populate it.

Bottom-line, what you did was un-cool. Very, very, very un-cool. Regardless of what I've come to think of you or that place, I would never have offered your blog up as an object of ridicule to that board.

Having said all that, Sim and I are agreed; if people wanna show up here and participate they are free to do so. The more the merrier. All should know though that I, unlike message board moderators, refuse to accept any nonsense of the kind to which I've been subjected to in the past.

Paul Hogue
Owner and Proprietor

Bush's Speech

President Bush certainly sought to do a lot of damage control in tonight's speech delivered from Jackson Square in New Orleans. However, it is as unclear how effective the rhetoric will be in counteracting the President's false starts as the plan will be in addressing the region's challenges.

Now, I'm in no position to evaluate what is needed in the Gulf Coast region following Katrina. Nor am I in position to evaluate how best to deliver what is needed. However, it is clear that Bush's solution is to lavish federal dollars on the region. And while the federal government needs to play a significant role, I question whether Bush's Big Government approach is the right way forward or whether it is simply throwing dollars at a problem to stop the bleeding on the political front.

The numbers are staggering. $200 billion, $5k per evacuee. The initiatives bold and sweeping: a Gulf Opportunity Zone, minority ownership, childcare, anti-poverty initiatives, home ownership, public works, economic development. This speech and these initiatives may rival Roosevelt's New Deal in their breadth. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough observed that these initiatives would "make Lyndon Johnson blush." Moreover, Bush directed that states and localities would have great autonomy in managing the recovery. To which Scarborough responded by saying

"And he's giving all the money to Blanco and Nagin. I wouldn't trust them to arrange my sock drawer, much less manage federal funds."

Indeed, Bush continues to look less and less like a fiscal conservative and more and more like a New Dealer. And of course that's fine. Except for the fact that he protests against claims that he's a "big spending Repblican." If there's anything worse than a tax-and-spend Democrat, it's a don't-tax-but-spend-anyway Republican. And that's where we find ourselves.

It seems like every time Bush makes a poor decision, the taxpayers end up paying the price to keep his poll numbers up. Fail to make al-Qaeda a priority and connect the dots prior to 9/11? Spend billions on Homeland Security and nation-building in Afghanistan. Miss the boat on WMD and the insurgency? Commit billions to fostering democracy and nation-building in Iraq. Fail to fund hurricane protection and effectively react to Katrina? Order up a hefty plate of pork for the Gulf. This is another "I'm sorry." But George W. Bush's "I'm sorrys" are getting awfully expensive, don't you think?

Again, there is no doubt that Katrina is going to be costly. And of course, we as a country have a responsibility to support our brothers and sisters as they recover from this catastrophe. The Feds should be central to that process. But how much of this plan is an "I'm sorry?" And where is the president leading in identifying possible trade-offs? Are his tax cuts on the table? The trip to Mars? And for a man who managed to inexplicably "lose" $9 billion in Iraq without so much as a press conference discussion of the matter, do we really trust his plan to outsource recovery to the Gulf Coast kleptocrats that managed to get us in this position in the first place?

Needless to say, we true conservatives have a lot of questions.

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