Friday, September 30

Now Batting...Hugh "Blog Man" Hewitt

It is, no doubt, a mere accident of timing that my personal tour of pieces blaming the MSM for Katrina has progressed from Michelle "Screech. Link. Repeat." Malkin through the incessant chirping of one of the Corner's nestlings, right up to the big leagues of neocon phantasmagoria that is the Weekly Standard. For one thing, I'm not systematic about this stuff; I'm not even sure how I found Hewitt's piece on the great suffering this country has endured this month as we floated hopelessly past reporters who got stories wrong, wondering, O Lord, would real help never come?

Hugh was working on a deadline, so it is possible that this stuff did filter down from the sort of people who know just when to use a reference to Burke or Hobbes, through the people who know how to congratulate themselves for reading someone who does, to land, finally, on the people who screech and link. Or it could all be what the anthropologists call "independent invention". After all, how hard is it for a seasoned right-wing charlatan to blame the MSM for bad news?

Hewitt's launching pad, like Malkin's and Podhoretz', is the LA Times and New Orleans Times-Picayune stories:
...both carry stories on the collapse of mainstream media objectivity and standards that followed the breach in the New Orleans levees.

But both of those stories focus on the exaggerated reports of violence at the Superdome and Convention Center, and the reports of violence, rape, carjackings and looting in the street. Sorry, Hugh, but nobody's yet turned the Bush administration into heroes on this one. And before we announce that media standards of objectivity "collapsed" in that event we might want to ask what those standards are and where the information was coming from.

Hewitt provides some examples. Unsurprisingly, none of them comes from FAUX, where John Gibson may have been the first to cross from reports of looting to suggestions of Boogies Gone Wild hysteria. Hewitt cites a Times-Picayune story from Brian Thevenot on the aftermath at the Convention Center. But Thevenot is quoting (by name) two Arkansas National Guardsmen and several unnamed others. Since when are the personal reports of National Guardsmen not up to the standards of objective journalism? All we can ask of any journalist is that he accurately report what he's told and identify his sources. Thevenot did that, but Hewitt treats him like he's Armstrong Williams. Or, in Hugh's case, worse.

Similarly, he fingers the Santa Fe New Mexican (which was quoting an EMT on the scene), and a Detroit News headline to a bylined AP story. The single anecdote he highlights that might come close to evidence is the interview with Tony Zumbado, the photojournalist who brought the plight of thousands at the Convention Center to light. From the MSNBC transcript:
ZUMBADO: The sanitation was unbelievable. The stench in there . . . was unbelievable. Dead people around the walls of the convention center, laying in the middle of the street in their dying chairs. . . . They were just covered up . . . Babies, two babies dehydrated and died. I'm telling you, I couldn't take it.

I saw that report, so let me just speak for the defense in the interests of open debate. Zumbado was speaking extemporaneously in extraordinary circumstances. The interview was emotional and somewhat confused--lots of live interviews are, even under fluffy white clouds on a beach somewhere. He had begun his report speaking about what he had been told: there'd been no food or water delivered, police protection had been withdrawn on Tuesday, there were dead bodies being dragged off to the side of the building. Zumbado suggested there were violent attacks going on. He is not the source of the baby-raping, throat-slitting stories.

Whether he was saying there that he had witnessed two babies dying of dehydration, or merely been told of the deaths, I'm not sure. That's sort of lost in the confusion of the moment. I suppose if we're really curious, and as dedicated to journalistic standards as Hugh Hewitt, we might actually, I dunno, ask him. But let us at least apply the standards we demand of people reporting bad news from the actual scene to the people who report about the reporters from the comfort of their computer desks. The official count, now, is that they found four bodies in the cooler at the Convention Center. One had been killed by gunshot. Does that mean that two babies did not die of dehydration at the Convention Center? Because we know for certain if they had, someone would have dumped them in that cooler?

For Hewitt, of course, this is all part of the VMSM conspiracy of Bush hatred. And it's this conspiracy which has been keeping us from learning how the country really feels, as predicted by Hugh on September 1:
I am sure they are having their [Wellstone] memorial service moment, and that the country is indeed watching everything very, very closely, and drawing very different lessons about who they would want managing the relief effort if disaster comes to their city or region.

Time will of course tell.


I've been sitting on this one for four days waiting for the Star to pick up the story. So far as I can tell, this has been reported by Channel 6 news and nowhere else.

On September 16 we were informed (by the Star and others) that a 10-year-old boy had been caught at his southeastern Marion County elementary school with $2000 worth of cocaine (that is, 21 grams in three bags. I'm not sure of the going rate for blow these days, but the typical police pricing equation is, uh, suspect). The boy was suspended from school, he and his siblings were removed from their home, and police, armed with a warrant and a drug-sniffing dog, searched the house. Suspicion was cast in the direction of his 14-year-old brother. The boy later told investigators that the goods were actually wall shavings and chalk. But it tested positive for coke.

Oh, good golly. It was chalk. It's the third such error in three months, or since local LE turned testing over to civilian employees of the police department after a week long training program. Channel 6:

"I'm sorry that his family had to go through a search," said Marion County Superior Court Judge William Young. "I'm sorry that they had to go in and go through all their stuff, bring a dog in and do all those things. But, again, that could have been avoided if this young man did not run around the school saying he had cocaine and showing it off."

According to Judge Young, anyone can petition the trained chemists in the crime lab to conduct a so-called confirmatory test.

And, just like that, get their children and their lives back. No problem-o. But tell me, your Honor, who do they see to get the Star to print a retraction?

Thursday, September 29

Thus Proving the Adage

"A grand jury can indict a shit sandwich."

Okay, Let's See If We Can Get This Right, Shall We?

Now the Corner's own John Podhoretz has joined the clanging about the MSMSMSMSMSMSMSMSMSMSM's horrid exaggerations over Katrina:
I think everyone was very credulous, willing to believe almost any story that was told, because we were seeing something we'd never seen before -- an American city under water, footage of uniformed cops actually looting stores in front of news cameras, and people confused and trapped in extremely unpleasant conditions. There can be no doubt that it was a nightmarish experience to have been stuck at the convention center, but it wasn't, as it turned out, a shooting gallery or a death sentence.

The unprecedented nature of the story as it was should have been enough for everybody. Instead, far too many people -- from cable-news folks to reporters to bloggers -- ended up retailing fiction as fact.

Including--hope you're sitting down--John Podhoretz. August 31:
...are telling Jeff Goldblatt of Fox News that they don't want to go to the Astrodome because the experience in the Superdome was so horrendous. He's also reporting about the Wild West craziness, people driving around with AK-47s shooting at police officers, looting...

[ellipsis in original]

Are we supposed to believe that this is the first time Podhoretz, or Malkin, or the Powerline boys, have ever watched teevee news during a wall-to-wall? It's the rule that they get things wrong. (I think I've already recounted how, the day Reagan was shot, I personally witnessed an offhand remark made to Dan Rather by a guy listed under "medical" on CBS' Rolodex become, within ten minutes, a report on NBC and ABC that Reagan was undergoing open-heart surgery.) You take a group of people hired largely for physical attractiveness and the ability to read a teleprompter while inserting random emphasis, and you have them extemporize for hours at a time while the natural array of half-truths and outright lies swirl in their earpieces, and the result is absurd at best. Katrina was no different from any other wall-to-wall story. They report rumor as fact. None of the above was complaining about that while the mass media was credulously reporting the discovery of the Iraqi Trailer of Doom.

It's funny how the same people who who've been caviling about the Librul Media since Nixon was president were forced to believe this time all those nasty rumors about black people running amok because the MSMSMSM told them to. Why, Poor Jonah Goldberg was so unnerved by the reports he became temporarily unhinged and started spouting off about the swimming abilities of African-Americans, some of whom, I'm sure, he counts among his closest friends in quieter moments. On the other hand, Malkin spent three or four days touting the site of a guy who was offering to swap porn for pictures of patriotically gunned-down looters, but I don't think erroneous news reports have anything at all to do with her public pathologies.

And speaking of Ms Magalalong, something I didn't mention earlier is right to the point here. If you're going to direct Kanye West to the Snopes page "debunking" the "looting vs. finding" caption story, you might make a note that the second line says "Status: True". Regardless of the explanations which came about later, that's the way the captions ran. The issue is not whether the white couple "found" the items floating outside a store or not; the issue is that the young brown man taking items necessary to sustain life in an emergency was not, technically "looting", a fact conveniently ignored by you and your ilk who were so busy demanding that cops start shooting everybody and apologize later if any mistakes were made. It was the uproar over this and other suspiciously "color-affected" stories which seemed to tone down a lot of the news coverage by Tuesday. And that uproar wasn't coming from the Right, exactly. For the rest, why not take it up with JPod's source on FAUX, or with Greta and her "eyewitness"? Get your own house in order.

Although, I have to admit, Michelle, that I liked your original defense--"the woman looks like she could be a Latino"--so much better.

Happy Birthday

Jerry Lee Lewis: born September 29, 1935

Wednesday, September 28

Happy Birthday

Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg

Born: September 28, 1915, New York City, New York
Died: June 19, 1953, Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York

Survivors: sons Robert and Michael, who were adopted by songwriter Abel Meeropol (Lewis Allan), the composer of "Strange Fruit", and his wife, because the Rosenberg's relatives were too fearful to take the boys in.

Obligatory Simpsons: (Paul Harvey voice on radio) "And that little boy, whom nobody liked, grew up to be...Roy Cohn."

On Top Of All That, He's Extremely Short

Mitch roundup:

• Has decided to fund Indiana's highways by increasing the tolls on the Indiana Toll Road, which runs west from the Ohio Turnpike to the Chicago Skyway and thus is so far north it's barely even in Indiana. This is one of those little Reaganaut tricks, substituting "revenue enhancement" for "tax increases" (specifically the gasoline taxes which traditionally fund Indiana's highway building) in order to claim one hasn't enacted the latter. Mitch calls this "creative thinking". It's the sort of magic much beloved of CEOs and hosts of kids' birthday parties. At any rate, having people who are almost in Michigan pay for all of Indiana's road improvements certainly qualifies as a neat little trick.

• Oh, we're not done thinking creatively: Mitch is also considering leasing the operation of the Toll Road, and the boondoggle-in-waiting new I-69 section from Evansville to Indianapolis (much loved of the state's GOP based on the fact that environmentalists hate it) to what he still refers to with a straight face as the "private sector". This has prompted calls for tightening educational requirements for business degrees in state colleges, as "proposing the same solution to every problem" does not qualify as "creativity" in some quarters, apparently.

• Speaking of education (I've been blogging for seven months now and that's my first decent segue) Mitch has appointed Tom Reilly, Jr., former head of Reilly Industries, as a Trustee of Indiana University. Some local folks think Mr. Reilly's job description should be "trusty" in the Michigan City federal pen. Reilly Industries was fined $2 M in 2000 for its part in a vitamin price-fixing scheme (it was part of the worldwide niacin cartel that operated from 1992-98), is responsible for about $100 M in Superfund clean-up costs in several states (including Indiana; Reilly Tar & Chemical on Indianapolis' southside was perhaps the single-worst polluter in town for years), and just to top things off, one of the cartel members (and a Reilly partner from 1982) was Degussa AG, once part of Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Schaedlings-bekampfung, the suppliers of Zyklon-B to the Nazis and employers of slave laborers from the concentration camps. One of the products the Reilly/Degussa partnership produced was Kosher certified vitamin B3.

• The director of the state agriculture department, Andy Miller, apparently envious of BMV chief Joel Silverman's scrapbook of press clippings, decided to strongarm the Blackford County commissioners after a local zoning board turned down an application for a confined dairy feeding operation and its attendant 20 million gallon manure lagoon. Miller threatened to withhold state economic development support if the comissioners didn't moo their support. Commission President Robert O'Rourke noted, "(Among) other thing(s) we are elected officials and this guy is an appointed official." Maybe he meant annointed.

• The Star's Dan Carpenter dug out Department of Natural Resources honcho Kyle "The Young Michael Brown" Hupfer's curt denial that the administration was planning to double logging operations in state forests. That came a couple of months before the announcement of a five-fold increase, which makes Hupfer the closest thing to an honest functionary in the administration.

Tuesday, September 27

What a Short, Relatively Predictable Trip It's Been

I was picking up the scattered carcasses of the Sunday papers Monday morning when the travel section of the Star caught my eye. It was the obligatory early-Fall "where to drive to look at pretty colors without having to leave your vehicle" issue, and I always check to make sure they aren't sending companies of family Panzers into the blissfully underpopulated areas I frequent.

Seriously. Four years ago they touted a State Park that is frequented only by the locals and, well, me, and I wound up following three Winebagos down fifteen miles of twisting two lane blacktop at twelve miles an hour.

I got off light this year, but just before it hit the recycling pile I found this on the back page:

The Haight Has a Hipper Look Today
San Antonio Express-News

SAN FRANCISCO -- We're cruising down Haight Street in my friend's Toyota 4Runner, a blinding sun shining through the windshield. The windows are down and a cool breeze blows in. Bob Marley sings from the car stereo: "One love ... one life ... let's get together and feel all right."

Just then I spy Marley's face painted on an upcoming corner. Then, farther down, I see a pair of gigantic, fishnet-clad inflatable legs. Sticking out of a second-story storefront window. Cool. I'm finally in the Haight!

Ever since I was in the eighth grade, I've been fascinated by the hippie movement, and this five-block area in central San Francisco, east of Golden Gate Park, was its headquarters.

I suppose you're waiting for me to say something snarky, and I had every intention of doing so, but then I remembered the summer after my sophomore year when I travelled to Avignon hoping for an audience with the Antipope. So I'm cutting her some slack.

The Way Things Work

Remember all those rapes and murders that supposedly took place in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? By and large, according to a new report, they didn't happen.

Why, now that you mention it, Michelle, I do remember. In part, I remember because you linked to the USAToday story about rape and murder, you linked to the story claiming the human destruction which followed Katrina would be prove to be "staggering". You linked to that Australian Courier-Mail story about baby rapes and throat slashings in the Dome a sensible person would have mistaken for an article detailing the vivid lunacies of crackpot urban legends but was being presented as fact. You might have noticed that its fourth sentence claimed 30,000 National Guard troops had been given "shoot to kill" orders, a clear tip-off it was factually challenged, but you didn't. For good measure, you linked to a story about looting and rioting occurring in Baton Rouge, a story which turned out to be 100% fabricated and wearing a bedsheet and a hood.

Yesterday you didn't link to any of your linkage to the above. You did link to your post "debunking Katrina myths", which didn't actually debunk any rape or murder tales (it linked to the Guardian-UK story which said they hadn't been confirmed), but did take the time to pass along the Swiftboating of Aaron Broussard. That post came on September 6, more than a week after Katrina did. And long after the Bush administration began wearing the horse collar of its shameful response. So forgive me if I seem a little skeptical that this was just a humble journalist trying to set the record straight.

Then there's Hinderrocket, whose learned command of the First Amendment:

It's time for some accountability here. The conventional wisdom is that no one performed particularly well in the aftermath of Katrina--not local, state or federal authorities, and not considerable numbers of private citizens. But it now appears clear that the worse performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media. Congress should promptly investigate, and try to get to the bottom of the following questions:

* How did so many false rumors come to be reported as fact?
* Do news outlets have any procedures in place to avoid this kind of mis-reporting? If so, why did their procedures fail so miserably?
* To what extent were the false rumors honest mistakes, and to what extent were they deliberate fabrications?
* To the extent that the false reports were deliberate, did the press pass them on through sheer negligence, or did some reporters participate in deliberate fabrication?
* Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?
* In deciding what stories to report, did the news media consider the likelihood that passing on false rumors would damage the rescue effort?

you quote admiringly. Neither of you has any standing to question other people getting things wrong for vaguely hinted-at ideological purpose. But since you brought it up:

It was FAUX News which was off and running with the Hobbesian theme on Tuesday afternoon, once the first loaf of bread was "looted", with David Lee Miller telling John Gibson "There are so many murders taking place. There are rapes, other violent crimes taking place". It was FAUX (with Greta van Susteren) which Tuesday night ran an eyewitness account of rapes and "several murders" at the Superdome.

If anything got out of hand it was the suspiciously "color-affected" (as Condimelda might say) focus on looting and lawlessness of which you were an early and gleeful participant. Quoting an early AP wire story on looting, you decided this comment was worth bold emphasis:
"To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society," he said.

By Wednesday afternoon, with tens of thousands stranded in the Dome, with thousands at the Convention Center yet undiscovered by the Feds, with people dying in hospitals and nursing homes for lack of government action, you were excoriating local officials for insufficient condemnation of looting. Link to that, Michelle.

Saturday, September 24

Sex: Disturbingly Popular

Sidewalk Social Scientists Alarmed by New Trend

By James B.S. Riley
Staff Writer

We're all familiar with the experience. Log on to the internet, click the mouse a couple of times, and suddenly you're viewing the vilest sort of pornographic filth imaginable, whether you want to or not. Although I suspect in your case it's the former.

The recent upsurge in the popularity of sexually-explicit entertainment has not gone unnoticed by the sorts of people who seek out things to be disturbed by and then write books about how they were disturbed by the things they saw because they're emerging cultural trends, just so everyone understands it was research. The fact that the authors of these semi-scholarly tomes seem to have a good deal of time on their hands should not be taken to mean they do not personally enjoy such satisfying, emotionally well-balanced sex lives as to be able to advise the rest of the planet, though the fact that they seem mostly to understand what bad sorts of sex other people should not be having might raise a question or two among our more cynical observers.

Then there's the issue of youth. As regular readers already know, BLTR not only refuses to accept advertising from products we review, we also uphold the principle of not actually reading books before we write about them, the better to maintain our unsullied editorial stance. So the youth of the authors in question is a mere extrapolation based on anecdotal evidence, the methodology favored by the books themselves. First, these authors, while somewhat confused over the point, are mostly in agreement that if pornography was not in fact invented by a couple of internet entrepreneurs in the mid-1990s, earlier appearances were mere curiosities, like Leonardo's helicopter. And all seem firmly convinced that sex itself was discovered in the 1960s by people who didn't know any better. Whether any of them recognize the historical truth, that sex and pornography were both discovered during WWI, when we sent our Doughboys to France, will have to await the findings of somebody who actually reads this stuff.

The other great Internet discovery, namely that jibber-jabbering is an excellent way to pass the time between porno downloading sessions, manages to salvage this post's near absence of content. Slate, the cutting-edge electronic news and feature daily, this week turned over its popular "Book Club" column to a freewheeling discussion of two books on the inherent ickiness of sex, the inherent wanker-ness of men who love wanking, and the search for an answer to the eternal question, "How many statistics about teenaged oral sex do we need to discuss before the collective heads of everyone in the country explode?" Pardon the metaphor.

This week's books are Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families, by Pamela Paul, and Ariel Levy"s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. In brief, Ms Levy has, through meticulous research, discovered that a) the "girls" in the Girls Gone Wild series expose themselves to the camera and b) that she, Ariel Levy, has an opinion about this. Ms Paul, who has inflated her own Time article on the topic, takes on the heterosexual masturbation community, which, I believe we all agree, wields a disproportional amount of influence in the upper levels of government and has had things its own way for far too long. As modern science has freed this group from fears of blindness and tell-tale excressance of the palm, so has readily available internet pornography convinced many of them to actually do without the real, live women who want nothing to do with them in the first place. Such is the deadly cycle of wankerism.

The panel consists of Laura Kipnis, professor of media studies at Northwestern and author of Against Love: A Polemic; Wendy Shalit, the author of A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, and the founder of; plus Meghan O'Rourke, Slate's culture editor.

Let's begin, some 600 words after we actually began, by saying that this looks on paper like a pretty good line-up for such a discussion. Professor Kipnis is funny, insightful, and iconoclastic. Ms O'Rouke operates a website that features interviews with Rebbetzin Leah Feldman, who complains that a rude minimum-wage slave did not answer her question once, and that Americans take too much vacation time, thereby confronting the other two Great Problems facing the nation; and David Horowitz, who is probably included in an effort to turn her young readers off sex permanently.

In reality, this is a thorough mismatch the good Professor is simply to polite to exploit. She says:
Let's start with Pornified. I must confess that this book made me very cranky. Not about the rise of porn, but about the decline of cultural criticism: Paul's analysis is as compartmentalized and shallow as the sex lives of her subjects. She has her nose pressed so firmly against porn culture that she's utterly blinkered about the rest of society, or history, or politics; it's as if sexuality occupied some autonomous world of its own. (Like a porn set.)

And O'Rouke can only sputter in return.
Elementary-school boys are getting porn from libraries. Thirteen- and 14-year-old girls are being pressured to get more "hardcore" in their sexual encounters lest they be called "prudes." A Baltimore 24-year-old is hurt that her boyfriend's so "open about his interest in porn," but she can't share her feelings because "a guy doesn't think you're cool if you complain about it." Husbands are ignoring their children to watch porn for hours on end. Thrice-divorced Luis, a porn enthusiast since age 10, doesn't get why women need foreplay: "It usually takes longer in real life … I get pretty impatient."

Yes, anecdotes...always your best defense against the charge that you're using anecdotal evidence! Especially since it leaves one free to question actual citations from real studies when the need arises:
I've read all 56 pages of that CDC study, and the interesting thing is that respondents were simply asked, "Have you ever … ?" This says nothing about the frequency of oral sex.

Although a close runner up may be the "you're just saying that because you used to be a hippie" gambit:
Laura, you went to college in the late '70s—Levy and I both graduated in the late 90s (we are both 30, and Paul is 34). Meghan, you're 29 and you agree that "we … need to examine closely the effects of the new wave of porn." To be honest, I think the biggest difference here is generational. To boomers, pornography is ideological, associated with other aspects of women's liberation. But now porn plays an oppressive role for young people seeking more than superficial relationships.

The rather remarkable similarity of this argument to Andrew Sullivan's "sure, civil rights may have been a big issue in the 60s but by the time I was in school the really big problem was reverse-discrimination" was so eerie I actually checked to see if they might be the same person.

And if those of us who were actually enjoying sex in the 60s had realized we were ruining it for later generations we might have thought twice about our actions. Probably not, though.

O'Rourke was granted the rebuttal position for both days of the exchange, though it didn't do her any good, so in fairness Professor Kipnis gets the last word here:
It was the tone of the books that set me to thinking about this: Even when I agreed with them, the self-certainty about what correct desire is made me want to jump out of my skin. Or go watch some porn.

I would, like, so do her.

I had a little analysis of my own to add, but I have to hide the research before my wife gets home.

Friday, September 23

Happy Birthday

Ray Charles Robinson: September 23, 1930--June 10, 2004

The Man.

When I was a kid The Ray Charles Singers had a godawful, Montovaniesque hit with "Love Me With All Your Heart", and I was seriously confused (and a little disturbed). Why did Ray Charles have a group of easy listening chorale singers? Why would anybody listen to them without Ray? It was many years before I learned it was a different Ray Charles, who was in fact the musical director for Perry Como. Ray Charles did "Drown in My Own Tears". The Ray Charles Singers did the theme song to Three's Company. Only the names are confusing.

It's the set up to a classic musicians' joke:

First horn player: I've got a session with Ray Charles tomorrow.

Second horn player: Which one? The one who can't see, or the one who can't hear?


Peggy Noonan, WSJ Opinion Journal: "Whatever It Takes: Is Bush's Big Spending A Bridge To Nowhere?"

I'm trying to decide whether I find this stuff more amusing or less these days. Republicans were utterly oblivious as an actual budget surplus--a surplus they insisted should be returned to "the people" when it existed--nosedived into record deficits, free Reagan-era tote bags for military weapons boondoggles, a $300B price tag for no one knew what in Iraq, including missing billions of dollars. Now, all of a sudden, they're deficit hawks again. It's amusing to see how they're trying to deal with the prospect of actually getting splashed while they try to drown the thing in a bathtub when it turns out the thing isn't going to cooperate and just go quietly.

And the pace is quickening. It used to take years between, say, their demanding an end to the Department of Education and the warm-hearted embrace of the No Child Left in Public Schools Act, or between filibustering appointees and demanding an end to the filibuster. The reconversion into anti-big spenders occurred in a matter of days. If this keeps up we'll be able, in short order, to test whether adopting two sides of the same issue simultaneously acts like matter and anti-matter.

On the other hand it's not so amusing to see how Reaganaut delusionalism seems to feed on itself and grow stronger somehow in the process. That's the nature of delusion, but it comes as a shock in the political realm where one expects that in multiple collisions with a brick wall the delusion eventually gives way. Peggy?
Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn't feel like progress.

It's a Republican fuckin' bridge, Peg. It's a fucking Republican bill. I'm not saying Democrats weren't complicit, or that we'd have never gotten such a bill if the other side of the aisle was the majority. We would have. Highway bills are whole-hog pork, and this was the largest serving ever, by a herd at least. My god, how long have you been in Washington, and you still think the Republican party keeps kosher? Peggy?
The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. Last month it was the president who blandly seemed to suggest that Reagan cut and ran after the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.

Well, didn't he? And I can't answer for anybody's email, but it was St. Ronnie whose "turn loose of the reins and let the lobbyists write the legislation" policies led to that multi-billion dollar bailout. Peggy?
At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically.

Running the risk of seeing something clearly for the first time in twenty-five years? Nah. Let's not go overboard. Peggy?
When forced to spend, Reagan didn't like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut.

He may have said he didn't like it, but he did it anyway. Which speaks louder?

Reagan ran for President for sixteen years, and his one issue was the National Debt. In the early days of his Presidency he had to sign a bill raising the debt ceiling over $1 trillion. He and Don Regan turned it into a big production. Reagan was being "forced" to sign the bill to keep government operating, because of the reckless liberal spending of the past. I don't recall him making a big production of signing any of the further bills covering the $3.8 trillion deficit he left us with. And if Congress had simply rubber-stamped each of the budgets he sent it the amount would have been even greater.

He may have tried to cut programs, but he never cut spending. The heroic man of principle backed down tout suite on Social Security. We gave the military all the $200 hammers and $3000 coffee pots it needed, not to mention carte blanche on pork-laden big-ticket weapons programs. We covered up the resultant fraud and mismanagement with claims we had spent the Soviet Union into bankruptcy. But we knew in the late 70s that the Soviets were about to collapse. All that Star Wars spending was just Welfare Cadillacs for defense contractors and major Republican party donors.

And yeah, Peggy, Bush II is far worse. I guess even a delusional pig can find an acorn every now and then. He just can't describe it accurately.

Friday Shuffle, Spare the Gulf Edition

Lightning Hopkins (Houston, TX): Katie May Blues
Webb Wilder (Hattiesburg, MS): Meet Your New Landlord
Nat King Cole (Montgomery, AL): Non Dimenticar
13th Floor Elevators (Austin,TX): Fire Engine
The Leroi Brothers (Austin, TX): Elvis in the Army
Johnny Shines (Tuscaloosa, AL): I Don't Know
John Lee Hooker (Clarksdale, MS): Walkin' the Boogie
Sugarboy Crawford (New Orleans, LA): Jockomo
Howlin' Wolf (White Station, MS): Built for Comfort
Roy Orbison (Vernon, TX): Crying

Thursday, September 22

Goodbye Summer

Big Hole News

That's Mitch Daniels there in shirtsleeves. The short one in shirtsleeves. Memo to photo-op co-ordinator: for the next groundbreaking make sure Dr. Ruth is invited.

Note that Mitch is standing between the woman from Black Expo and dashingly handsome Hall-of-Fame lock Peyton Manning, while Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson is at the end of the line, next to Myles Fucking Brand, the man who fired Bob Knight at IU and thus ranks somewhere between Morgan's Raiders and Genital Herpes on the Hoosier popularity charts. This answers the question of to whom the Indiana constitution awards executive power over publicity photos.

Touchdown Jesus H. Christ, it was ground breaking Monday on our new half-billion dollar corporate welfare for the NFL football stadium, and from the artificial excitement generated by the local news hairdos you'd have thought Magic Johnson opened another Starbucks. They all had their anchor duos on remote, and helicopter shots, natch. Channel 8 even filled a little downtime with video of a crane picking up debris from the stuff they knocked down to make room.

In a pregame warm-up last week--I hadn't found time to work this little tidbit in earlier--8's Mary Milz reported that the groundbreaking would use shovels and would just be ceremonial as the real groundbreaking would employ machinery. No, I'm not making that up, and yes, she seemed for all the world to be telling us something she thought we might have questions about.

And Holy John 3:16, they didn't even break ground! They gave 'em a little sandbox to play in. You can see it there in the picture.

I got to see the Daniels interview with 13's crack reporters, who asked him to describe the headaches involved in getting the project off the ground. I'm not sure if Mitch appreciates anyone making public references to his head, which sits atop a rather diminutive body and is covered by hair which seems to come from the side instead of growing straight up like most people's. I waited to hear the Governor explain that the hardest thing he had to do was pretend to be sitting on the sidelines encouraging a deal when in fact he and his party were screwing things up just to make sure the Democratic mayor of Indianapolis didn't get all the credit. Not to mention managing to underfund the project by $450,000 through their own incompetence, money which will now come out of the rainy day fund. Because no one could have predicted we'd get a half-million dollars' worth of rain so early.

It didn't happen. He just made some shit up.

Dear Abby

I've been letting Abby Nye percolate for a couple of weeks. Someone--likely World O'Crap--pointed me to the WorldNetDaily Whistleblower Magazine and its current issue "BRAINWASHING 101", a "stunning" exposé of leftist indoctrination and sexual corruption on America's college campuses "in true Whistleblower fashion". Meaning...well, you know.

I'm glancing down the page, pissed off because there's not even one article available to read online, when I discover that one of the young exposeusses is the aforementioned Ms Nye, the author of Fish Out of Water: Surviving and Thriving as a Christian on a Secular Campus. And that campus is Butler University, a mere six miles from where I currently sit and try to type with one hand while preventing a kitten from climbing on the keyboard with the other.

Now, this is interesting. I have a few contacts at Butler. Two members of my family call it their alma mater and they both seem rather simon pure, although one of them did smoke cigarettes in her younger days. I briefly considered calling around to get the lowdown on Ms Nye, but I realized a) this would involve something like work; b) that would set a bad precedent; and c) I'd probably have to read her book. So here's a collection of half-assed Google searches and educated guesses filtered through my secular worldview. I hope you like 'em.

Butler is a private school. The enrollment is around 3800. It's a lovely, landscaped campus of Collegiate Gothic limestone buildings, a botanical garden, and the glorious Hinkle Fieldhouse. The "secular" demonifier could be disputed, technically: the school was founded by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which has no central governing council, so it's debatable whether you're ever actually out of the fold. The Disciples are a fairly liberal, mainstream bunch who reject denominationalism, including the idea that their own denomination is superior. Butler's divinity school became the independent Christian Theological Seminary in the late 1950s. It's right next door. For the sake of argument we'll grant Ms Nye her contention that she is forced to travel in a heathen country, though we reserve the right to ask why she's not in a bible college or at least at an institution with a tradition of theological constipation more in tune with her own.

Seeing that this blog is legally constrained from deficit spending, I have not purchased a copy of Ms Nye book. Thanks to Amazon I was able to read the Introduction, but whether the author bothers to document charges like this:
[Freshman] English class...required reading included not Shakespeare or Milton, but essays on why America deserved the terrorist attacks of 9/11, why we should listen to the kid killers at Columbine, and why "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

is unknown. My own idea, that perhaps like many a Freshman before her Ms Nye had simply turned up in the wrong class, will have to go unresearched for now.

And here's the deal...she's now a senior. This would have taken place in late summer 2002. She may have been offended by the reading assignment, but it's difficult to imagine she was forced to battle the outrage all alone. As we shall see in a moment, Ms Nye is not exactly a lone voice in the dark and scary wilderness of Butler Secular University, Home of the Fighting (But Tolerant) Bulldogs.

Then there's this:
The first shocker I received when I arrived on campus was Freshman Orientation...the correct term would be Freshman Indoctrination. Many schools basically hold students hostage for three or four days and attempt to reprogram their brains on matters of moral relativism, tolerance, gay/lesbian/transgendered/whatever rights, postmodernism, New Age spirituality, and savvy substance abuse. [emphasis mine]

Wow. It's still the introduction and already we've abandoned our personal narrative in favor of tales of virtual slavery at "many" schools. Something tells me if I run into this thing at Borders I'm not gonna find it's extensively footnoted.

And this is Central Indiana we're talking about, not the Peoples' Republic of Santa Cruz. The claim of some superpatriot political science instructor at IUPUI that he was being denied tenure due to a leftist/lesbian cabal was front page news in the Star (and the subject of a follow-up column in the front of the Metro section).

So why haven't I heard about any of this? Why do I have to go to WorldNetDaily to learn of Ms Nye's existence?

In fact, I have to ask why I haven't heard it a thousand times. Because it turns out that Abby is an active member of Campus Crusade for Christ. And Campus Crusade for Christ is...ready?...the largest student organization at Butler.

I guess "How to Survive Being in the Majority" just didn't have much zing.

The book promises to help Poor Persecuted Christian students deflect criticism that they are "intolerant" or "judgemental". Why modern Christians are so touchy about what other people call them I'm not sure, but as to why some might wish to call them that, we can examine the Butler student newspaper in April 2003, when Ms Nye was a freshman. An (avowed Christian) columnist for the paper wrote an article criticizing Campus Crusade for Christ for, among other things, being funded by right wing extremists like the Coors family and Bunker Hunt; sexism; anti-Catholic attitudes; and rabid homophobia. The young Ms Nye displayed her nascent Christian self-defense techniques in a letter to the editor the following week:
From the points brought up in this column, including multiculturalism, homosexuality, tolerance and a woman’s role in the home, it is obvious that Mr. DeGraff’s opinions on these topics run counter to the orthodox tenants of Christianity...

So there.

I haven't been able to find any response to her book from anyone at Butler. That's probably wise. She's absent from the school paper since that freshman outburst. I'm giving some consideration to writing to Ruth Holladay, the Star's former religion writer and current opinion columnist (and a woman who used to use "unchurched" as a collective noun in every third column) about the rampant secular leftism at Butler. Maybe a little spotlight in her home town is just what Abby Nye needs.

Tuesday, September 20


Home life is more or less officially wrecked for the week as this morning marks the beginning of three days of public school testing, the ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus; I'm not sure what the plus is), and my wife goes from skilled and caring educator to warden at a juvenile detention center. We both know she will not be a happy camper. I've already planned on serving up her favorite foods and a fully-stocked bar.

Hey, stick around. Mitch Daniels will make an appearance shortly. Maybe he'll even cut a ribbon.

Indiana instituted statewide standardized testing, in stages, beginning more than a decade ago. We now test students in grades 3-10 yearly; the 10th grade test (the one my wife will be administering this week) is a Graduation Qualification Exam which must be passed before a student receives a diploma.

And as we all know, the Bush administration, proudly upholding the tradition of a political party which wanted to abolish the federal Department of Education as little as ten years ago, has added requirements via the Infinite Justice for Left Behind Children Act designed to prove that inner-city schools are failures right before we slash their funding, put the students in a lottery to attend schools run by the private sector, and call the whole thing off before it affects too many white people.

From most teachers' point of view, at least those I know or my wife talks to, testing is a sick joke, a waste of one week out of the school year, which takes far too long to get the results back to the teacher and offers little meaningful information once they do arrive. Of course, we're talking about the high school, pass-this-or-don't-graduate test. Elementary teachers may have a different perspective, but Indiana has the longest lag time in returning test scores in the nation, for some reason.

Standardized testing used as a political weapon is a costly fraud which does a considerable amount of harm in the name of proving that public schools are "failing". It's a philosophically unsupportable position, but worse, it's a racially motivated one. We're still fighting integration under the guise of concern for underachieving students in the poorest school districts.

We've known since the Coleman Report in 1965 that the major determinant of scholastic performance is income and socio-economic level. If we want to improve academic achievement among our most disadvantaged citizens the place to start is by improving nutrition and providing health care, not by administering tests designed to slap a big red F on our inner-city schools. Now that our President has recognized the role of racism in the chasm between rich and poor, perhaps he'll turn that sharp legal mind back to education, which was once such a hot topic for him.

Oh, and Mitch? Well, he's decided that his campaign position on moving testing to the Spring was such a solemn pledge he's going to ignore the fact that the legislature turned in down and achieve it by packing the state Board of Education with people who agree. Suellen Reed, the (elected, Republican) Superintendent of Public Instruction, who favors continuing Fall testing, says the move will cost $14 million, require reworking of the tests and pilot testing for fairness, and render useless previous statistics. Daniels says the disruption will "only" amount to a year or two, and that the publisher (CTB McGraw-Hill) has written him promising to move the test for free in exchange for keeping the state's business.

[This is another one of those head-scratchers for me, since Daniels' party is the one that insists corporations don't actually pay taxes, they just pass taxes on to their customers, but they're the first one to tout some public/private bargain as providing "free" goods.]

Of course you always need to keep in mind that this is coming from a state that can't decide what time it is. And speaking of campaign promises, Mitch declared a preference for Central Time back then, but once the issue got hot he kicked it off ol' RV-1 and sped off down our underfunded highway system. I guess some promises are more equal than others.

A Hundred Dollars Makes It Dark Inside

I was prepared for it. A few years back my Poor Wife and I saw Lyle Lovett at Clowes Hall on the Butler campus, and ever since then I've been on their mailing list. I got the 2005/2006 calendar about a week ago, and I flipped through it idly. The schedule is generally pretty dance heavy, since they've got a fairly serious dance school, and there's an assortment of Indianapolis Opera Company performances, and some theatre and a speakers series. Generally there'll be one or two pop artists I'd be happy to see at half the price and that aren't really my wife's cup of eggnog. Somebody might get written on our calendar in a sort of half-assed, what-the-hell-if-we're-dying-to-go-out way that we know won't come to pass.

So I'd flipped through the first five pages when I saw him, looked at the date, and saw the price. And so I was prepared when the ad turned up in the Sunday Star. ELVIS COSTELLO. Saturday, October 15 8:00 PM And immediately underneath: $100.

Yeah, there are cheaper tickets--down to 25 bucks for the third balcony. I don't sit in cheap seats anymore. I don't sit back beyond row 15 or so. At my age if I'm going to a show it's to see the show, not to be there, if you know what I mean.

But $200 for a couple of ducats? For a solo performance? Richard Thompson was in town last month for $30 (we had to pass; it was a school night). Don't get me wrong--in a just universe El'd get the highest ticket prices in the business (and the Strolling Bones would be playing high school auditoriums), but still. It feels more like tribute rather than a ticket price.

I've seen the man every time he's come to Central Indiana, or a grand total of three. Each show was great, and the first one is my fondest concert memory of all time. It was really painful to see those three digits there and say, "No way." And the most painful part is there wasn't any hesitation. In the old days I'd have sent the phone bill in late or lived on American cheese for a week if necessary. Now, when the money really isn't any object, I balk. What the hell happened?

I got to wondering what might induce me to pay $100 for a show. Elvis and the Imposters with Gillian Welch opening? Probably. Tom Waits with his Big Time-era band including Marc Ribot on guitar? I imagine so. Anything else would require certain performers of my choosing rising from the dead.

Monday, September 19

Rhymes With "Rich"

Last Friday (don't imagine he didn't learn anything about the timing of announcements in his previous job) Governor Mitch "You're No Napoleon. For One Thing, He Was 5'6" Daniels revealed his plan to fell up to five times as many trees as previous in the state's public forests.

Let's jump right to what the Indianapolis Star thought were the 19th and 20th most important paragraphs in the story. I'm doing this only because I suspect you may be ahead of me:
The timber industry was a supporter of Daniels' 2004 campaign. In the December 2004 issue of Hard News, a publication of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen's Association, the group's lobbyist, Ray Moistner, penned a celebratory column about the GOP's statewide election victory.

"We have before us an opportunity to move forward, and make hay while the sun shines," Moistner wrote in the newsletter, which is available on the association's Web site ( ). "I think it's safe to say the elections were very good for IHLA."

Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful the Star got around to mentioning it at all. But first we had to wade through Daniels' cover story and the support of a rather curious ally.

Daniels--who travelled to Morgan-Monroe State forest for his photo op--insists that logging is not the real purpose here. Nope, Mitch is interested in making our forests "more robust". I suppose we might find it in our hearts to understand why Mitch might confuse "robustness" with "shorter", but that doesn't mean we've got to accept the explanation.

Mitch's trusty sidekick in auctioning off handing over our state resources, Kyle J. Hupfer, the commissioner of the state DNR, (who, unlike Mike Brown, actually was a mergers and acquistions lawyer before being handed the reins of a public trust) said the effort was based upon sound science. When a Republican uses the phrase "sound science" you know you're about to take it in the shorts. But the surprise guest at Mitch's little picnic was Dan Shaver, a project director for the Indiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which either owes somebody big time or has enough cash flow it doesn't have to worry about dropping the mask from time to time. Shaver said that clearing older groves of trees prevents the spread of harmful insects like gypsy moths, and also curtails broader epidemic tree diseases such as looper, which in recent years has afflicted more than 100,000 acres of Southern Indiana forest.

Well, maybe that's the "sound science" they're talking about, but prior to the Daniels administration sound science involved testing and eradication programs, not bringing in bulldozers.

And before you write a check to the Nature Conservancy to help make public lands private, give this some consideration. We have a minor gypsy moth problem in Indiana; nothing like Michigan's. Here's a map:

There's not a whole lot of state forest land in that corner. In fact the worst infestation reported so far has been at Parkland Hospital in Fort Wayne, which is not a notable destination for Indiana's nature lovers, unless they happen to be nearby and have appendicitis.

Loopers, though, have been defoliating oaks in eight Southern Indiana counties, just as they did in 1978-1981. Using that as a guide, 2005 was the highpoint of the infestation, which will now collapse for another twenty five years. Or for good, if Mitch's boys get to remove all the oaks in the meantime. In the name of sound science, naturally.

Mind you, our state forests are set aside for multiple use. Nobody's saying that timbering hasn't traditionally been a part of that. But most of Indiana's commercial hardwood industry utilizes trees from private lands, and there's no particular reason other than greed to increase the harvest. But, golly, with Republicans in charge that seems to be reason enough.

Fareed Of All Constraints

Someone pointed me in the direction of this Fareed Zakaria column in Newsweek:

Leaders Who Won't Choose
In Washington, it's business as usual in the face of a national catastrophe
People wonder whether we can afford Iraq and Katrina. The answer is, easily. What we can't afford simultaneously is $1.4 trillion in tax cuts and more than $1 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next 10 years. To take one example, if Congress did not make permanent just one of its tax cuts, the repeal of estate taxes, it would generate $290 billion over the next decade. That itself pays for most of Katrina and Iraq.

Yeah. As long as we don't need to spend money on anything else in the next decade, we'll be home free.

Mind you, it's not that it isn't gratifying to see public intellectuals from the Council on Foreign Relations recognizing, however belatedly and however imperfectly, that somebody has to pay for their little excellent adventure that the Bush administration screwed up and let them down on. Maybe in three more years Zakaria will discover a solution to the rest of the debt Bush has saddled us with. Too bad his support for generating revenues through taxes won't be as influential as was his support for the war.

Saturday, September 17

Happy Birthday

Ken Kesey: September 17, 1935--November 10, 2001
author, farmer, cornstarch user

Friday, September 16

Friday Cat Blogging (Worksafe Edit)

The Speech

I taped it and watched the whole thing. Really.

My general impression is this: in five years, with the nearly unlimited resources of the White House and the RNC, and the efforts of who knows how many highly paid consultants, we have finally reached the point where, given enough practice, George W. Bush can be made to sound like the lieutenant governor of one of our least populous Western states giving a welcoming speech to a bunch of trade association conventioneers. "We've got a real fine breakfast spread set up next door. They'll make waffles for ya. And we'd be grateful if you take the time to look over our brochure."

Not to belittle the accomplishment. On the contrary, it's little short of miraculous. Going back to the first campaign, it's been six years of watching a George W. Bush who was obviously only comfortable when surrounded by people who were required to pretend, because of his money and/or power, that they weren't listening to a lazy, dim-bulb son of privilege. And now he's comfortable presenting that image to the world at large, at least in a prepared speech. It was my first sustained look at the "real guy you'd like to have a beer with" I could never figure out people claiming to see. Tonight, there he was. A real guy you'd like to have a beer with, assuming that category includes for you some out-of-town Jaycee in a hotel bar who after the fourth one will ask you where the "real action" is in town, about the time you notice he swiped the tip you just left.

Substance? Well, the substance of the speech seems to be "Please make my poll numbers go back up. Please? I'll be your friend." Though for the life of me I can't figure out why. Iraq has already sunk him. Katrina, whatever he does, is not going to refloat his presidency. You'd think by now the man was used to walking away from total failures. Mr. President, your party controls both houses of Congress. You're going to hand them a couple hundred billion more in the fall session before an election year...full of handouts to the same people they've been blaming for getting into the disaster in the first place? Am I missing something?

Anyway, here's the funny thing, and by that I mean the thing that generated the same maniacal laugh you'd use on a cliff as you went over it, at a high rate of speed: the Republican party ran against the New Deal for 70 years. Once they came into complete control of government they had no idea what to do with it, except for petty theft and making sure kids were forced to say the Plejullegance every morning. Then when a real disaster strikes, the nominal leader of that party turns into a tenth-rate FDR impressionist, except they've got nobody to ask for the money. Ha, ha, ha, aiiiiiiyyeeeeeeeeee....

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. We're gonna house all the displaced persons working to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina in mobile homes! Good god damn, Kafka wouldn't believe this stuff.

Happy 80th Birthday

Riley B. King, born September 16, 1925

Thursday, September 15

Back Home Again

You may recall Joel Silverman, High Exalted Grand Pooh-bah of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and shining inspiration to all Hoosiers who aspire to succeed in business by allowing their businesses to be run out of business. Well, you'll be glad to know that Assistant Head Chief CEO Silverman hasn't allowed the "terrible terrible things" we've been watching on our teevees lately to cloud his judgment.

Silverman's latest money-saving plans include closing the only license branch in Gary. In case you're unfamiliar with the vacationer's paradise that is Indiana, Gary, located on Lake Michigan, is the rustiest point in the Rust Belt. It was once Indiana's second-largest city, until the steel mills closed in the 70s. It's now Indiana's fifth-largest city, and its major industry is boarding up shop windows. It has the highest percentage of African American residents (85%) of any city over 100,000 population in the country.

The citizens of Gary marched on the state capitol Monday to protest the closing. Emperor Governor Mitch "Robert Blake And I Are Exactly The Same Height" Daniels was unavailable to meet with them as he was in Cincinnati meeting with the Japanese. In his defense, Daniels pointed out that he hadn't met with the Japanese in over a month, and besides, his poll numbers go up whenever he leaves the state. So he tabbed Silverman to meet the somewhat restless natives.

Apparently it was not exactly a love fest. State Senator Earline Rogers called him "rude" and "abrasive". It should be pointed out that she's a Democrat, and for them those are undesirable qualities in a public servant.

But Silverman wasn't finished. He had a 30-minute phone interview with the Star's Matthew Tully, and explained why the Gary branch should close:

"Our customers are people who have cars," he said.

Power Line Blogging

Via Tim Grieve's "War Room" column in Salon, this story from the Hattiesburg American by Nikki Davis Maute:
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

The orders came from Dick Cheney's office, which placed calls on August 30 and 31.

"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," [Jim] Compton [general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association] said. "Our people were told to work until it was done....

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority....

Mindy Osborn, emergency room coordinator at Stone County Hospital, said the power was not restored until six days after the storm on Sept. 4. She didn't have the number of patients who were hospitalized during the week after the storm.

"Oh, yes, 24 hours earlier would have been a help," Osborn said.

Compton said workers who were trying to restore power to some rural water systems also were taken off their jobs and placed on the Colonial Pipeline project. Compton did not name specific water systems affected.

[Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike] Callahan said the process of getting the pipelines flowing would be difficult and that there was a chance the voltage required to do so would knock out the system - including power to Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg.

With Forrest General Hospital operating on generators, Wesley was the only hospital operating with full electric power in the Pine Belt in the days following Katrina.

"Our concern was that if Wesley went down, it would be a national crisis for Mississippi," Callahan said. "We knew it would take three to four days to get Forrest General Hospital's power restored and we did not want to lose Wesley."

Compton, though, followed the White House's directive.


While the Bush administration screwed the pooch, the Cheney administration had its eyes on the ball the whole time. That's certainly reassuring.

Okay, I'm Retiring Use of That "Shocked" Quote from Casablanca for the Duration

1) Party line Senate vote KO's Clinton's call for an independent commission.

I'm surprised. Really, surprised.

2) Knight-Ridder reporters discover it was Chertoff, not Brown, who was actually asleep at the (main) switch.

Oh? That's unexpected.

3) Dick Cheney, asked by a reporter why he didn't return from his vacation until last Thursday, said, "I came back four days early."

Hmm. That seems so unlike him.

4) USAToday: Bush called Barbour "three or four times" in the wake of Katrina, but did not return Blanco's calls and didn't speak to her until she got on the phone and demanded he do so.

Well knock me down with a feather.

Wednesday, September 14

Norbizness: Not As Funny As I Thought

Okay, not that I don't realize he's the funniest guy alive. It's just that yesterday I was reading him riffing on the President's informal press conference in New Orleans over my morning tea, and there were two questions I swore he'd doctored:

Q Sir, what do you make of some of the comments that have been made by quite a number of people that there was a racial component to some of the people that were left behind and left without help?


Q Do you recommend that Congress consider allowing the federal government to act more quickly?

Then I checked the White House site. Those are the real questions. Y'know, you might be able to run away from a hurricane, but stupidity moves at the speed of light.

The Mark of a Real Leader Is Knowin' When It's Time To Have the Little Woman Ride To the Rescue

Nedra Pickler, AP: First Lady Becomes President's Defender

Never a Discouraging Word:
Mrs. Bush said Tuesday that much more human good than bad has come from the disaster, despite what people see on TV. She said the evacuees she has met in her three trips to the Gulf Coast are hopeful and thankful that they don't have to start from rock bottom because of the donations and the kindness of strangers.
"That's what I've seen at each of the shelters I've visited," she said. "I've never heard a single word of complaint."

Hmmm. Mrs. Bush seems to be an expert about "what people see on TV", but she hasn't heard a word of complaint. It puzzled me for a moment, before I realized she must be watching with the sound off.

Laura Bush, to the Heritage Foundation:
"We've seen terrible, terrible things and we've seen unbelievably unselfish acts of giving as well by communities all across the United States and, of course, many more unselfish acts of giving than bad things," she said in a speech Tuesday to the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Maybe the media hasn't shown us that much, but we've read about it and we do know about it."

Now, the first thing that occurred to me here was that Laura sounds an awful lot like Hillary's Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, except without any evidence. I watched a lot of teevee coverage the first week. The terrible, terrible things I saw for the first 72 hours were, basically, what the Hurricane had done to the Gulf Coast and what the levee breaks had done to New Orleans. I call that "news". After the storm had passed and we got away from shots of beparka-ed newshounds standing in high winds, most of the pictorial coverage consisted of the Coast Guard rescuing people. I call that "about as unselfish an act as you can perform without drowning yourself."

For godssake, there's been no lack of uplifting stories. The teevee loves uplifting stories.

I would offer one modest suggestion, however. The next time Mrs. Bush sees some terrible, terrible things on her teevee she might want to pick up the phone and make sure the Department of Homeland Security [sic] knows about them.

Yes And No

Elisabeth Bumiller and Richard W. Stevenson, NY Times: President Says He's Responsible in Storm Lapses

Throughout his nearly five years in office, Mr. Bush has resisted publicly acknowledging mistakes or shortcomings, and his willingness in this case to edge up to a buck-stops-here statement, however conditional, was evidence of how shaken his presidency has been by the political fallout from the government's handling of the storm.

It also set the stage for a White House effort to pivot from dealing with urgent rescue and relief efforts to setting out a vision of how the federal government could help rebuild devastated communities and re-establish Mr. Bush's image as a leader.

Re-establishing his image as a leader. Meaning what, exactly? Another carrier landing? More brush clearin'? Some of his patented gut-trusting, chatter-ignorin', jes' folks doggedness?

George W. Bush was never a leader; he's never projected the image of one except among those desperate to believe we had one or those whose definition of leadership is "someone I agree with". He flew away from Washington on 9/11, resurfaced three days later with a bullhorn and a retired firefighter, who just happened to be a Republican his media handlers had conjured up, and he gave a halftime locker room pep talk the country went ga-ga over, not because of his "leadership" but because of its fears. In the intervening four years he's avoided press conferences like they were anthrax (even though he's one of the few we found some Cipro for and the toughest question he's likely to face from the Gaggle is "How hot is the barbecue sauce?"). He's spoken to no crowd that wasn't hand-selected and searched ahead of time. The first time the man ever laid eyes on a Democrat who hadn't been elected to something was probably on the roof of a house in the Ninth Ward when he flew over it.

Leadership is now defined by our major news dailies by whether Kit Seelye likes your tie. A leader is a guy who hires the right PR firm to convince the public that a turd dipped in sugar is a Tootsie Roll.

Tuesday, September 13


Down around Biloxi
Pretty girls are swimming in the sea.
Oh they look like sisters in the ocean.
The boy will fill his pail with salty water.
And the storms will blow from off towards New Orleans.

The sun shines on Biloxi.
The air is filled with vapors from the sea
And the boy will dig a pool beside the ocean.
He sees creatures from a dream under the water.
And the sun will set from off towards New Orleans.

The stars can see Biloxi.
The stars can find their faces in the sea.
And we are walking in the evening by the ocean.
We are splashing naked in the water.
And the sky is red from off towards New Orleans.

-Jesse Winchester © 1970 Hot Kitchen Music

The original air of wistful longing was due to the fact that Winchester, a Southerner (Tennessee, actually) was living in Canada at the time, avoiding the draft. The current air of wistful longing you know about, although you may be unaware that Biloxi still has no FEMA office, although there is one within driving distance assuming Katrina spared your car, assuming you had one to begin with. When it comes to a disaster, give me a mayor who'll shout obscenities on the radio over a governor who'll show up to smile at photo ops and let his name get brutted about as a possible Presidential candidate, any day. No matter what else I think about Ray Nagin.

Brownie Points

• Do we know, exactly, what horse Mike Brown did ride in on?

• You've probably heard by now that his successor, David Paulison, miraculously appointed by the President before he learned Mike Brown had resigned, was the guy responsible for the Duct Tape Episode.

• But did you know that at the time he also said that "in the first 48 to 72 hours of an emergency, many Americans will likely to have to look after themselves?"

• That alone makes him qualified in my book.

• Richard Wolffe, on Olbermann last night, said that it was an "open secret" in Washington that Homeland Security was a mess. Gee, maybe you guys might think about letting us in on it next time.

The Emperor's New Fall Fashions

David E. Sanger, NY Times: FEMA Chief Was Recalled After High-Level Meeting
Either way, how the White House moved, in a matter of days, from the president's praise of a man he nicknamed "Brownie" to a rare public reassignment explains much about fears within the administration that its delayed response to the disaster could do lasting damage to both Mr. Bush's power and his legacy. But more important to some members of the administration, it dented the administration's aura of competence.

Evan Thomas, Newsweek: How Bush Blew It
President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

Let's leave aside the fact that this is all bullshit. (The Newsweek article is well worth a read, which is why I link it, but despite the shocking peeks behind the curtain--which shouldn't be all that shocking--of an administration whose ineptitude really does match its venality, it maintains this "Bush's management style" façade in a way which suggests the author would be astonished to learn Bush's brush clearing activity misses some of the finer points of good horticultural practice.) Let's forget that until a couple weeks ago, back when Cindy Sheehan was this country's greatest crisis not involving missing blonde girls, these folks were assuring us that Bush was on a working vacation, emphasis on the working. I won't even bother to ask what power the Times thinks the only sitting duck in the White House ever to pull up lame before his second inaugural still had before Katrina, or what part of his legacy was left to be damaged. That some members of the administration believe it exudes an "aura of competence" I'm pretty sure was intended as a sick joke.

Instead, let me ask again: the steely-eyed assurance, the admirable doggedness, the gut-trusting, the uncany ability to ignore the confusion that "facts" create for ordinary people--do you want this trait in your doctor? Your mechanic, your insurance agent? Your babysitter?

Monday, September 12

There's Never Enough Shit In The Water For Indiana Republicans

Let's leave aside Indiana 8th District Congressman John "Divorce Is Nearly As Evil As Gay Marriage" Hostettler and his vote against the Hurricane Katrina aid legislation. That was a vote on principle. Congressman Hostettler is one of the last real Christian men of principle left in politics, which is why he believes that we ought to make quid pro quo budget cuts before we send aid to Americans who are still able to tread water. Hostettler did not raise similar objections to aiding hurricane victims last year, but that was in Florida in an election year, and if you don't understand the distinction you must be one of those Democrats who can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians he mentioned on the House floor before he took it back. Besides, Representative Hostettler's principles will be coming into play again next year when, as he was a freshman signator of the Contract With America, he retires in order to preserve our citizen legislature. I don't hear many of you holding your breath out there.

No, instead let's turn our attention to Governor Mitch "Tiny" Daniels. The Indianapolis Star found him pining away this 9/11 for our lost unity:
"The days after that were really the most memorable, I suppose, of my life, because for a short time the nation came together in a way, and its politicians came together in a way, that they just aren't famous for," Daniels said this past week.

Yeah, it was a great time to be alive. Assuming you still were.
"I think it's sad and regrettable that our political class behaves in this way," Daniels said. "The charges, particularly those directed at the federal government, are so obviously bogus. By the time federal assistance is even legal, requested and legal, the death and destruction essentially has occurred.

Class, please take your highlighters and mark the factual errors in the above paragraph. Raise your hand when you reach eight.
"Sure, things could always have been done better, but I just wish people would drop their political hammers for a few weeks, as happened in 2001, and work on the problem at hand."

The whole class found all eight? I'm impressed. Record time, too. Now, would anyone like to hazard a guess as to why Governor Daniels is disappointed at politicians who do their jobs by criticizing the greatest governmental cock-up since Winston Churchill gave up planning military operations, but has nothing whatever to say about politicians in his own party criticizing innocent victims? Please, don't all speak at once.

Saturday, September 10

Happy Birthday

Stephen Jay Gould: September 10, 1941--May 20, 2002

I was hoping to link to a copy of "Phyletic Size Decrease in Hershey Bars", but I couldn't find one. It's in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes". Hit the used bookstore.

I'll Have the Lemon Chicken

U.S. Military Tube-Feeds 13 Gitmo Strikers

By ALEXANDRA OLSON Associated Press Writer

September 09,2005 | SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. military is tube-feeding more than a dozen of the 89 terror suspects on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, a spokesman said Friday.

Some of the 89 striking detainees at Guantanamo have not eaten for a month, said Guantanamo detention mission spokesman Sgt. Justin Behrens. The others have refused at least nine consecutive meals, he said.

Fifteen have been hospitalized and 13 of those were being fed through tubes, Behrens said in a written response to questions from The Associated Press. Medics are monitoring all 89 and checking their vital signs daily, he added.

Previously, the military has said that 76 inmates were participating in the hunger strike.

The Guardian:
More than 200 detainees in Guantánamo Bay are in their fifth week of a hunger strike, the Guardian has been told....
British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith...pointed to an American army claim that only 76 prisoners at the base were refusing food, saying that they were attempting to play down what could be a political scandal if a prisoner were to die.

Guantanamo prison spokesman Maj. Jeff Weir...said he did not know the reason behind the hunger strike.

"As far as their reasons for hunger striking it seems to be a myriad of different reasons that they all have, the largest one seems to be like they want to protest their continued (detention)," he said. "Their future is uncertain from a legal point view so they are trying to find out exactly what their future entails."

Yesterday, Mr Stafford Smith, who represents 40 detainees at Guantánamo Bay, eight of whom are British residents, said many men had been starving themselves for more than four weeks and the situation was becoming desperate....

The hunger strike is the second since late June. The first ended after the authorities made a number of promises, including better access to books, and bottled drinking water.

The men claim that they were tricked into eating again.

In his statement, Mr Mohammed [one of Stafford Smith's clients, whose August 11 letters were delivered last Wednesday] described how during the first strike men were placed on intravenous drips after refusing food for 20 days.

He said: "The administration promised that if we gave them 10 days, they would bring the prison into compliance with the Geneva conventions. They said this had been approved by Donald Rumsfeld himself in Washington DC. As a result of these promises, we agreed to end the strike on July 28.

"It is now August 11. They have betrayed our trust (again). Hisham from Tunisia was savagely beaten in his interrogation and they publicly desecrated the Qur'an (again). Saad from Kuwait was ERF'd [visited by the Extreme Reaction Force] for refusing to go (again) to interrogation because the female interrogator had sexually humiliated him (again) for 5 hours _ Therefore, the strike must begin again."

The thing I most want to know about the Bush administration is, how many of the people at the highest level believed they didn't have to plan for the aftermath of any of this because they actually thought they were setting off a Biblical Armageddon? And does that number include Chimpy McBushitlerCo?

Friday, September 9

Public Service Announcement

Hi, ladies, I'm Tommy the Firefighter. Y'know, this posing stuff is just for charity. I'm more than just a piece of beefcake. In fact, I'm a skilled first responder and an emergency paramedic. Right now I'm working with FEMA on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Here, have a leaflet. Really, take two. I think there's a coupon on the back for a free salad bar or something.

Bobo in Paradise Wonderland

Billie Burke: Why, Rochester, you're not afraid of the dark, are you?
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson: No m'am. It ain't the dark. It's what's in it.
Topper Returns (1941)

David Brooks: Katrina's Silver Lining

Summary: While we can't fight poverty on a large scale, we can rebuild New Orleans as a culturally and economically integrated city, which will raise up the children of lower-class households by integrating them into a middle-class culture "with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior."

Okay, with the Republican party's rampant incompetence, corruption, racism, and sneering contempt for the poor covering the landscape like Lake George covers New Orleans, why pick on Brooks for trying to distance himself from it? The question answers itself. Brooks the water-carrier for the Bush administration--including praise for the brilliance of the plan of having no post-war plan--is only running in place while the scenery changes around him. Heartfelt Republican pleas for "workable" solutions to the problems of poverty and race merely serve to shield the more delicate sensibilities among Republican voters from the broad wink and hearty handshake the party gives racial hatred and the politics of class division.

Unlike Rochester, we have every reason to fear the dark that descended on the Gulf Coast ten days ago. Still, it's true that it's what's kept in the dark that's truly scary. If Brooks is now so deeply moved by the devastation on one side of the great cultural gulf in this country he can start by repudiating the party that sunk the "underprivileged" ever deeper for twenty-five years while he cheered it on. Mr. Brooks, you helped carry that water. Saying now you're ready to help bail isn't good enough.

Happy Birthday

Otis Redding: born September 9,1941 died December 10,1967

Like everyone alive at the time I remember where I was when I heard JFK had been assassinated (in the hallway outside my fourth grade classroom, voluntarily working on a bulletin board after school because the student teacher was hot), and the murder of John Lennon (got it from Howard Cosell, like millions of others). I also remember exactly where I was when I heard Otis' plane had gone down in Madison, Wisconsin: a classmate's basement where we went after school to spin 45s and listen to the radio. They'd just played the Castaways' "Liar Liar".

Otis was, to my thirteen-year old suburban brain, the essence of soul, even if I was a bigger fan of Jackie Wilson. I remember walking around in a funk the next year when "Dock of the Bay" became a huge smash. It just didn't have that grit.

There's a great Stax/Volt documentary out there. I think I have a videotape copy somewhere, but it's not on the database. They ask Steve Cropper about the first time he heard Otis, who, if I recall, just walked into the Stax building one day. Cropper's eyes light up like Christmas Eve.

Reality Check

Before you hear another Republican touting Haley Barbour as Presidential timber, and before you listen to the "this is no time for politics" administration try to slag the whole thing off as Blanco's fault, check out A Night Light's for story of how well things are going in Mississippi.

(Link via the officially underappreciated Suburban Guerilla)

Ready For Some Football?

Um. First, I hate this Thursday night opening of the season. It's utterly out of whack, and what's even worse, it's on ABC. Can we send Hank Williams Jr. back to whatever it is he doesn't do the rest of the year, already? And I'll vote Republican if they'll just sponsor a Constitution amendment requiring him to drop his daddy's name. Christ, they sponsor enough amendments that one more probably wouldn't even be noticed.

Anyway, I was sorta half watching tonite, and my favorite moment came when I noticed that the legendary Raiders fans, who have their own soup commercial as well as a frankly homoerotic dress code of some sort, which I applaud, had mostly left the building with their team down 16 points, in possession, and three minutes left on the clock. That's two touchdowns there, fellahs; in case you missed it the two-point conversion rule was instituted in 1994. Heidi-ho.

Thursday, September 8

Happy Birthday

Richard Henry "Peter" Sellers: September 8, 1925 --July 24, 1980

In the Goon Show days, Sellers received a fan letter asking him for a "singed photograph". Urged on by Harry Secombe, he took a cigarette lighter and carefully burned the edges of one of his publicity photos and sent it off. Two weeks later he received another letter with the same return address. "Dear Mr. Sellers," it read, "Thank you very much for the photograph, but I wonder if I could trouble you for another as this one is signed all round the edge."

Got An Emergency Plan?

Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.*

As it happens, one of the side effects of last month's kitten-proofing the basement was an upgrade and expansion of our emergency preparedness. I'm curious about the rest of y'all. Got a plan? Anything happen recently to make you think about one?

Ours is pretty much an outgrowth of backpacking. I'm from the "be prepared for anything" not the "shave every ounce" school. Under duress grabbing my smaller pack, which hangs by the back door, would provide shelter, extra clothing, a pretty damned good first aid set up, means of purifying water and cooking, four freeze dried meals and oatmeal, bouillon, and stuff that'd keep two people alive for a week with no deprivation. There's blankets and a couple of gallons of water in each car.

The most likely disaster in this part of the world is a tornado. Surviving a tornado would mean being in the basement, and possibly trapped there. The best news about a tornado is that in the worst case the distruction might be a mile wide, so you're unlikely to remain undiscovered for long. Even so we're set for five days easy: a gallon of water per person per day, more meals, plenty of candles, another backpacking stove, another first aid kit, a toilet seat that fits over a five gallon bucket with disposal bags and enzyme treatment. Battery/hand cranked radio. Hammer, nails, pry bar, multi-bit manual screwdriver. Referee's whistle. Plenty to read down there, too, if you don't mind old magazines.

I've got means to feed the cats, too, for five days in our absence, but I can't imagine how it would come to that. There's two cardboard carriers upstairs and two down for emergencies--it takes two people five minutes to get Stinky into the hard carrier in the best of times, but he'll jump in a box by himself.

Regular maintenance: we don't have food-grade UV-proof storage for water, so we just rotate gallons from the grocery every other time. And prescriptions for vicodin, tylenol 3, and staydal nasal spray for the med kits. My wife usually does that because the doc is suspicious of me.

What isn't included: sleeping bags. If it were the dead of winter I'd try to grab the two 0º mummies, but otherwise ground pads and blankets are a better, space-saving choice.

Proposed upgrade: one of those inflatable beds for the basement.

Recent upgrade spurred by Katrina: more cash. They weren't accepting credit cards or doing any banking because the electronics were out. I never carry any cash, so now there's enough for two bus tickets somewhere and a couple of nights in a hotel.

Although I am thinking that current maps of all the routes to Canada might come in handy.

* Slim Pickens, Dr. Strangelove. The line was changed from "Dallas" after the Kennedy assassination, though why it was Dallas in the first place still puzzles me.

Public Service Announcement

Hi. I'm the late sports tout Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. You know, I'll bet you've heard of the Department of Homeland Security, but maybe you aren't aware of everything they're doing for you. Well, many of us here on The Other Side have been wondering the same thing, and if half of what I've been hearing from some of our new arrivals is true, there's plenty of good reasons for that. So take a tip from "The Greek": God gave you legs for a reason, and in His Infinite Wisdom he matched up many of the poorer of you with an especially fine set. So remember, the next time you hear a hurricane warning, the surest bet is run like hell.

Wednesday, September 7

Not His Fault. Al Haig Was Supposed To Be in Command.

Editor & Publisher: Rumsfeld at Padres Game While New Orleans Sank.

Happy Birthday (Belated)

D. Sidhe, September 5. Many happy returns.

Public Service Announcement

"Hello, you're being spoken to by First Mother and former First Lady Barbara Bush, on behalf of Federal disaster emergency relief. Everyone I meet tells me things are going swimmingly. I hope what I've always heard about some minorities not being able to swim are unfounded, although you never see them in the Olympics, do you? Except running, I mean. Well, good luck, mind your betters, and shut that damn thing off and bring me another Scotch mist. And not so much ice this time."

Tuesday, September 6


• I haven't been able to watch the cable news nets like I did last week, and that's probably a good thing. I saw Olbermann's blistering editorial last night, but I also saw some Barbie who said, after scenes from the Clinton/Bush I press deal, that "there's a lot of criticism in hindsight, and I'm sure the President appreciates the support of his family."

• And both Joe Scarborough and Gerry Geraldo Rivers Rivera originally claimed that private helicopter that crashed was a Coast Guard helicopter which was shot down.

• They can go hide behind uplifting stories of rescue work and rebuilding efforts all they want. This story is gonna bounce, and bounce, and bounce. And just as with the aftermath of Iraq no one seems to notice.

• Senate Energy committee is starting up hearings on price gouging, a feel-good sop to the middle class, apparently unconcerned about dragging Federal officials away at an inoppertune moment. Not so the Collins/Lieberman committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security [sic]. Why is Joementum there every frickin' time you turn around, like he's Peter Sellers in Doctor Strangelove? How did we manage to get a Senate committee where the chair is more liberal than the ranking minority member?

• Mr. Peanut, to Mr. Potato, Sunday morning: "I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'"

For the record, this from the Times-Picayune:


By Doug MacCash
and James O.Byrne
Staff writers

A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new "hurricane proof" Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown...

emphasis mine. We can't send Mike Brown back to those horse people, because they're smart enough not to want him. But can't we find Chertoff some place out of the way where he can go back to sniffing Clinton's cock?

• And while we're at it, could someone, anyone, please get Babs Bush back into permanent air conditioning somewhere with the staff posted to make sure she doesn't see any more poor people? For the sake of everyone's beautiful mind?

• Ugly rumor I haven't been able to track down: the breech in the flood walls is relieving pressure on the levees, which were probably undermined, and they won't hold the pressure from a refilled Pontchartrain. Or, as Rita Cosby would put it, Lake Pomeranian.

• She didn't really say "Pomeranian", but that's about midway between "Pontchartrain" and what she did say. For cryin' out loud, it's been a week. Maybe next you could take us on a walking tour of Bor-BONE Street. MSNBC has stuck with its slime stirrers on the evening lineup instead of calling up journalists for the duration.

• New Orleans resident Harry Shearer has been tremendous at Arianna's place, following the media. He just asked why they don't follow up on something that's been bothering me: the Corps of Engineers spokesman said on Wednesday they were filling sandbags "as he spoke", but the operation didn't begin until Thursday. In fact, I heard someone make the same claim on Tuesday. Did we not have enough helicopters to do that and the rescue work? If not, where oh where could they be?

• And speaking of New Orleans residents, here's the unfortunately Anonymous in the comments of that blog that Brooks linked to:

In this case "liberalism", or at least the version espoused by Louisiana pols, FAILED those who can't help themselves.

Actually, "effinayright", this poster is a New Orleans native with refugee relatives currently living in his house, and is probably far more aware of the political situation in Louisiana than you. Corruption and cronyism had nothing to do with the DIY approach to evacuation - I defy you to point to a preexisting organized evacuation program in the deep red states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, or Texas that's any better than New Orleans. I defy you to tell me how Bush's cutbacks on federal funding for LA flood protection, or his restructuring of FEMA, all in the name of some bastardized version of conservatism, haven't had disasterous consequences for New Orleans. I'm especially interested to find out what kind of "back-up communications system" could have survived a Cat 4 hurricane and a complete innundation in poisonous muck.

Individual states, whatever their political leadership, lack the resources to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. Always have, always will. I can say from first hand experience that it's the federal government, poorly led by George W. Bush, that's killing my hometown.

Happy Birthday

James Mathis "Jimmy" Reed
Born September 6, 1925 Dunleith, MS. Onetime Hoosier (lived in Gary and worked in the mills; I told ya, we claim everybody).

Died August 29, 1976 Oakland CA.

Dark sun glasses,
Sharkskin suit, standing in the
Broken glass of east Dubuque
On a Sunday morning.
A Sunday morning.
Jimmy Reed is the King of Rock and Roll.

-Kevin Gordon