Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Guy In Philosophy Class Needs To Shut The Fuck Up

As a returning adult 'gradual' student all I can say is "Oh yes. So very yes!"

From the Onion:

HANOVER, NH—According to students enrolled in professor Michael Rosenthal's Philosophy 101 course at Dartmouth University, that guy, Darrin Floen, the one who sits at the back of the class and acts like he's Aristotle, seriously needs to shut the fuck up.

His fellow students describe Floen's frequent comments as eager, interested, and incredibly annoying.

"He thinks he knows about philosophy," freshman Duane Herring said. "But I hate his voice, and I hate the way he only half raises his hand, like he's so laid back. We're discussing ethics in a couple weeks, but I don't know if I can wait that long before deciding if it's morally wrong to pound his face in."

"Today he was going on and on about how Plato's cave shadows themselves represent the ideal foundation of Western philosophical thought," said freshman Julia Wald moments after class let out Monday. "I have no idea what Plato's ideal reality is, but I bet it doesn't include know-it-all little shits."

Wald added: "If he uses the word 'dialectical' one more time, I'm going to shove my copy of The Republic down his throat."

Although he demonstrated a familiarity with Peter Singer's view on famine relief during a discussion of John Locke's theory of property, Floen is reportedly unfamiliar with the theory of cramming it for a change and giving someone else a chance to speak.

"Just last week Professor Rosenthal was talking about Russell's Paradox, and that jackass starts going off: 'But what about Heraclitus' aphorism: Everything flows, nothing stands still?'" classmate James Luers said. "At first I was like, 'That's totally irrelevant,' but then I was like, 'Well, actually, it does apply to the nonstop flapping of your trap.'"

Among the 40 students who regularly attend Philosophy 101, the one who has endured the most suffering is freshman William Deekes.

"Some people know Darrin as just 'that guy in philosophy class who needs to shut the hell up,'" Deekes said. "I, however, also know him as 'the douche in African history who seriously needs to chill' and 'the a-hole in environmental sciences who could really use a girlfriend.'"

"I enrolled in this course because I was fascinated by the question of God," said sophomore Miriam Blank. "After spending six hours a week in the same room as that unbearable windbag, I think I have my answer. Life is as long as it cruel."

The outspoken student has not gone unremarked by the course's professor.

"Mr. Floen is a valuable contributor to our in-class discussions," Rosenthal said. "His tendency to question and challenge everything before him captures the very essence of philosophy itself."

Rosenthal added: "Having said that, I do wish he would occasionally do me the valued service of shutting his damn cake hole."

Van Morrison sings to George


DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe: "DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

By William Branigin and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; 1:33 PM

A Texas grand jury today indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on a criminal count of conspiring with two political associates to violate state campaign finance law, and DeLay announced he would temporarily step down as House majority leader.

The indictment was disclosed in Travis County, Tex., on the last day of a grand jury investigating a campaign financing scheme involving allegedly illegal use of corporate funds."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy Birthday

Ray Charles
(1930 – 2004)

Pioneering American pianist and soul singer

Frank Sinatra called him "the only genius in the business."

Bruce Springsteen
( 1949 - )
American singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

A man who has grown better with age, like the finest of wines.
Rock on, Boss!

John Coltrane
(1926 – 1967)

American jazz saxophonist and composer.

A profoundly innovative tenor saxophonist, who fundamentally altered expectations for the instrument.

One of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Poem of the Day

The Modern Major-General by WS Gilbert

I am the very pattern of a modern Major-Gineral,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral;
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical;
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With interesting facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

I know our mythic history - KING ARTHUR'S and SIR CARADOC'S,
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox;
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of HELIOGABALUS,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous.
I tell undoubted RAPHAELS from GERARD DOWS and ZOFFANIES,
I know the croaking chorus from the "Frogs" of ARISTOPHANES;
Then I can hum a fugue, of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that confounded nonsense "Pinafore."
Then I can write a washing-bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of CARACTACUS'S uniform.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin,"
When I can tell at sight a Chassepot rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as SORTIES and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by Commissariat,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery,
In short, when I've a smattering of elementary strategy,
You'll say a better Major-GenerAL has never SAT a gee -
For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century.
But still in learning vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral!

Bush gives Saudis a break

Can't ask W to go against his brother The Prince now. Wouldn't be prudent.

from DED Space:

On slave trade, child sex workers, and forced laborers

In the newest chapter of the George W. Bush book on encouraging Saudi oppression, the resident decided yesterday to waive financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia for failing to address the problems of its slave trade of prostitues, the exploitation of children as sex slaves, and the practice of forced labor, the victims of which are mostly women and children.

Bush gave the Saudis a break because they are our "ally" in the war on terrorism. What, may I ask, is terrorism, if not forcing children to engage in sex acts and work in sweat shops?

There will be no outrage from the "values" corps, who are at home rubbing their sweaty hands on their Bibles and drooling over how well their leader is handling disaster recovery. I somehow doubt there will be much outrage from the "liberals," either.

Bush's war on women and children--and on the poor in general--is the greatest atrocity of his administration. First,
hundreds of thousands of women and children in Africa, then the drowning people in New Orleans, and now this.

This will make your day

from my favorite radio station WFMU's Beware the Blog:

..... Albert and his Yat-Khas, and they've got us covered with their new album "Re-Covers" - a collection of... yessssss, fave rock hits done in the Tuvan style!! Say, while we're at it, maybe throw in some Zeppelin? Hey, make it topical - "When the Levee Breaks".(Realaudio from Ken's show) (more)

Friday, September 16, 2005

The PrezNutz Apppp....Apppp....Apologizes?

Well, I never.

Did I just see that nice W boy go on the teletube not once, but twice in as many days to say that maybe, almost, kinda, sorta he was sorry 'cause there was just the teeniest, tiniest chance that someone somewhere in his Madministration had maybe inadvertantly, accidentally, not done their job exactly completely right and iffin' so he was gonna lead the battle to find said malefactor and give him a right talkin' to and maybe a Freedom Medal.

Or not.

And while stating such apology did said PrezNutz exhibit the body language of a 13 year old who was being forced by his Mom to apologize for turpentining the neighbor's cat? Or was it possibly the facial expression of a 5 year old
who had just be told to take a bath after having rolled playfully around on the carcase of a dead skunk while in the company of his loyal beagle?

Did I really see that?

Or maybe it was the drugs.

Question is, mine or his?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Health update

Just a note to my loyal reader.

I'm recovering reasonably well from the severe dry atmosphere bronchitis. After a week of steroids and lots of much needed sleep, I can now speak an entire paragraph without breaking into a violent paroxism of coughing. True, I am in the steely grip of a steroidal manic phase now. Best not to get too close. "Edgy" is the polite way to put it. Bitchy, crabby, nervous, just plain nasty mouthed would be another.

My poor sweet cat must think I'm possessed. Violent explosive coughing. Hallucinations from lack of sleep. A snarl and a huff when she tries to comfort me. Yes, I've either temporarily become a demon.

Or a Republican.

Such joy.

Prevailing Wages? That's Like So 20th Century Man

from Agitprop:

Estimated Property Damage: $100 billion
Estimated Death Toll: 10,000 Americans
Using a national tragedy to cut wages for the poor: Priceless

For everyone else, there's decency.


From LA Times (thanks to el s for the tip).

One action Bush did not trumpet publicly drew a quick protest from a leading Democrat. By executive order, Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act in areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, a move that will allow federal contractors to pay less than the local "prevailing wage" on construction projects.

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

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives," Miller said in a statement, noting that the prevailing wage for construction in New Orleans was about $9 an hour. "At under $9 an hour, workers certainly won't be able to rebuild their livelihoods."

See, there's no time to play the blame game. There's pockets to fill and people to screw!

Charles Norman Todd has more. So does Blogenlust.

A Favorite Place

Jackson Square
Once and Future

Eternal New Orleans

Poem of the Day

Basin Street Blues Louis Armstrong

Won’t you come and go with me
Down that mississippi
We’ll take a boat to the land of dreams
Come along with me on, down to new orleans

Now the band’s there to greet us
Old friends will meet us
Where all them folks goin to the st. louis cemetary meet
Heaven on earth.... they call it basin street

I’m tellin’ ya, basin street...... is the street
Where all them characters from the first street they meet
New orleans..... land of dreams
You’ll never miss them rice and beans
Way down south in new orleans

They’ll be huggin’.... and a kissin’
That’s what I been missin’
And all that music....lord, if you just listen’
New orleans....i got them basin street blues

(instrumental break)

Now ain’t you glad you went with me
On down that mississippi
We took a boat to the land of dreams
Heaven on earth...they call it basin street

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Flood Water Karaoke

This little ditty from Diane at DEDSpace, one of my favorite must read right on blogs:

With thanks to Trevor Peacock and Herman's Hermits:

Mr. Brown, we've got a lot of water
Floods as great as this are something rare
But it's sad that you don't give a damn

You've made it clear enough, it ain't no good to cry

Well, there's Laura Bush, I see you brought her
Tell her she can go back just the same
Things have changed, we know you hate us now

You've made it clear enough, it ain't no good to cry

Talking down, in a desperate crowd, well

We'd pick you out--hope it makes you feel proud

You know that bastard Bush came by to see us

Told us things were good and lookin' fine

I won't lie, I'd like to break his face

I'd get down on my knees but it's no good to try

Strutting about, crying for the photo

You'd pick him out--he's the heartless bozo

If you think you might come back to see us

Better bring a blanket and some food

I hear the Superdome has vacanies now

Just get down on the floor, it's no good to whine

Mr. Brown we've got a lot of water

Mr. Brown we've got a lot of water...

FEMA's Accomplishments

From DavidNYC at Daily Kos, via Creek Running North:

A List in Progress of FEMA-related Headlines

All of them are for real. None are satirical.

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
... and last but not least, FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Favorite Place


The Sir Walter Scott Memorial
Princes Street Gardens

Lothian, Scotland

Poem of the Day

The Dole Of The King's Daughter (Breton) by Oscar Wilde

Seven stars in the still water,
And seven in the sky;
Seven sins on the King's daughter,
Deep in her soul to lie.

Red roses are at her feet,
(Roses are red in her red-gold hair)
And O where her bosom and girdle meet
Red roses are hidden there.

Fair is the knight who lieth slain
Amid the rush and reed,
See the lean fishes that are fain
Upon dead men to feed.

Sweet is the page that lieth there,
(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,)
See the black ravens in the air,
Black, O black as the night are they.

What do they there so stark and dead?
(There is blood upon her hand)
Why are the lilies flecked with red?
(There is blood on the river sand.)

There are two that ride from the south and east,
And two from the north and west,
For the black raven a goodly feast,
For the King's daughter rest.

There is one man who loves her true,
(Red, O red, is the stain of gore!)
He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew,
(One grave will do for four.)

No moon in the still heaven,
In the black water none,
The sins on her soul are seven,
The sin upon his is one.

A Bad Afternoon, And I Close The Curtains

from HomeFront Radio via by neddie jingo:

If you read only one thing this week, this should be it. Read it. All of it. My god in heaven, it's so beautiful.

Spent yesterday afternoon in a emergency room bed hooked up to machines, my body trapped in an uncomfortable tangle of wiring, while an elderly lady in a frail, cracked voice whimpered in pain from her broken hip like a small child, and I cried silently from hearing her suffering so.

She was looking for her husband to hold her hand. I overheard the nurse say he'd been dead for 20 years. They asked her if she could tell them today's date and she cried it was September the 2nd... 1949. The nurse said her carers had told them she had been previously completely lucid.

In space of one fall she'd lost 56 years of her life.

She asked again when her husband would be there to comfort her. I weakly turn my head and see one of the male nurses sit down and hold her hand, and whisper 'I'm here darling'.

My heart breaks and I cry again. (more)

Personal Note added later:

(and PLEASE, read the main part of the post first. It's much more interesting.)

On a minor and much much less eloquent personal note, I read this suberb bit of writing moments after coming home from a medical adventure of my own. I found myself in the ER at 4AM this morning, laid low by a case of aviation air bronchitis that after 3 weeks of being wished away had simply refused to go away and was worsening by the hour. I was driven there in fear and desperation because the cough had made it completely impossible for me to sleep for the last 60 hours or so.

Starting to hallucinate with fast motion being seen from the corners of glaucoma damaged eyes that hadn't had corner vision for nearly 50 years and panic attacks happening with the regularity of the dizzy spells accompanying it all, I had decided enough was enough and hied myself off via taxi to the ER.

The ER is the common man's GP office these days. Even at 4AM, there were maybe 15 other patients and their family members in the waiting room. The ER at my local hospital has taken some lumps lately, but I've always been treated well and on the square there, especially on two previous occasions when I'd been brought in by ambulance in the midst of critical asthma attacks.

The admissions staff have gotten to know me. We joke as they draw the blood, check the BP, take my temp, put the clip on my fingure to get the critical oxygen reading. After the preliminary intake interview and the requisite record verification, they announce that I do indeed look like myself and I am taken to a private exam cubicle and asked to wait for the doctor.

A few minute later a
short, deliciously Reubenesgue, quite attractive, red head in her 30's comes in and introduces herself as Doctor "A". She proves to be one of the most vibrantly alive people that I've ever met.

First thing she does is ASK me if I would mind if she sat down while we went over the particulars. She'd been on duty for 38 hours and her feet were tired, she said. We do the records update sitting down. Me on the guerney, she on a side chair that puts her several feet lower, eye level wise. Not the usual power set up in a medical situation.
As we go over my medical history, we chat a bit about schedules, about the family she doesn't see near enough of, about the weather, about New Orleans. Most striking to experience. Humanizing in an amazing sort of way.

We do the hospital COA dance. Are you allergic to fava beans or chianti, are you now or have you ever been a communist, are you sure you're alive at this moment,
that sort of thing. She is funny, fast and very confident in her work. When I tell her I think I have bronchitis brought on by a long airplane flight, she says with a grin and a twinkle "I concur with your diagnosis, Doctor."

She orders an EKG and some additional tests and calls in the respiratory therapist who gives me a nebulizer treatment of albuterol.

Afterwards, Doctor A and I go over my EKG. In detail she explains what she means by calling it so normal it should be on a chart at the teaching hospital. She gives me some med scripts for oral steroids and codeine cough syrup, admonishes me about my weight, admonishes me even more strongly about my lack of exercise and is positively forceful while admonishiing most strongly about my need to pay better attention to what my body is telling me and to GET TO THE DOCTOR SOONER!

She grins a big grin and leaves as quickly as she had come in.

I think I'm in love.

There is just something about an intelligent beautiful redhead in a uniform.....

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies at Home

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.
A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," she said.

Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1982. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

from John Scalzi ,

This POWERFUL post on the realities of being poor, even in an affluent society like America.

Be sure to read all of the comments as well

Thank you so very, very much John!

Being Poor

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.

Somewhere over Louisiana, a brain is abuzz

"... Boy there's some champion brush cuttin' to be done down there ... hard bike ridin, tho with all that stuff on the roads ... have ta use the truck ... wonder if Lance would wanna come? he's got such a cute little bald spot ... wonder if Bandur would like to join us ... probably not, he'll just say he's too busy being king like he always does when I want to do something special... damn Secret Service probably wouldn't effin' let me go anyway ... 9/11 ...

... What's for lunch? ... hope they don't forget the pretzels this time ... why did Cheney make me call Da and that nice smiling Clinton boy from next store to come bail me out ... it's like he thinks I'm dumb or sumthin' ... they never let me do what I want ... always making me go to damn meetings ... telling me I can't bomb Terrorhan ... making me wear that dumb thing in my ear so I always have to be listening to Rove blathering on about something when I'm trying to talk ... 9/11 ... won't even let me finish a good book when I find one ...

... And I mean who gives a frog exploding fuck about this New Orleans place ... not our kind of people ... libruls ... poor ... gays ... effin' preverts .... always yelling about the oil bizness
... always complaining about the damn river overflowin, as if spending money I needed elsewhere for the war and bribes was gonna help ... damn levees anyhow ... hey, is that a Jewish name? ... sounds Jewish to me ...gotta have Rove check it out ...

don't see why we don't just bulldoze the damn place anyhow ... send all those smelly old poor people back to where they came from ... tho it's gonna be easier to do stuff now that the place is a chemical sty ... betcha those smartass environmentalists won't be going on about wetlands now ... just created a whole lot more for 'em, heh heh ... 9/11 ...

... and sure we're showing them Al Kayda creeps how real 'Murikans handle a disaster ... this'll make them think twice before hitting us again. ... hey, maybe this whole thing was an Al Kayda plot all along. ... did those levees really 'break' or were they 'helped' ... maybe it was a moozlum weather machine or super prayers to Devil Al Law or somethin' that steered the storm
... better ask Pat about steerin' hurricanes with prayer ... 9/11 ...

Gotta talk to Karl 'bout all that right away.
Right after I rub my hands all over his shiny, shiny bald head and calm down a bit."

...9/11 ...

"No one could have predicted that we would actually need FEMA"

And this by Kevin Drum from Washington Monthly, this timeline of bureaucratic duplicity that leaves us where we are today:

CHRONOLOGY....Here's a timeline that outlines the fate of both FEMA and flood control projects in New Orleans under the Bush administration. Read it and weep:

  • January 2001: Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous experience in disaster management.

  • April 2001: Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will be downsized: "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program...." he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."

  • 2001: FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."

  • December 2002: After less than two years at FEMA, Allbaugh announces he is leaving to start up a consulting firm that advises companies seeking to do business in Iraq. He is succeeded by his deputy, Michael Brown, who, like Allbaugh, has no previous experience in disaster management.

  • March 2003: FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet level position and folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is refocused on fighting acts of terrorism.

  • 2003: Under its new organization chart within DHS, FEMA's preparation and planning functions are reassigned to a new Office of Preparedness and Response. FEMA will henceforth focus only on response and recovery.

  • Summer 2004: FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue: "You would think we would get maximum consideration....This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

  • June 2004: The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans is slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri comments: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

  • June 2005: Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes.

  • August 2005: While New Orleans is undergoing a slow motion catastrophe, Bush mugs for the cameras, cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation. When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat, defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden.

So: A crony with no relevant experience was installed as head of FEMA. Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to be one of the top three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately downsized as part of the Bush administration's conservative agenda to reduce the role of government. After DHS was created, FEMA's preparation and planning functions were taken away.

Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell.

Kevin Drum

Paul Kugman is dead on target, as usual

A Can't-Do Government

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared?
After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question:
Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive? Katrina hit five days ago - and it was already clear by last Friday that Katrina could do immense damage along the Gulf Coast. Yet the response you'd expect from an advanced country never happened. Thousands of Americans are dead or dying, not because they refused to evacuate, but because they were too poor or too sick to get out without help - and help wasn't provided. Many have yet to receive any help at all.

There will and should be many questions about the response of state and local governments; in particular, couldn't they have done more to help the poor and sick escape? But
the evidence points, above all, to a stunning lack of both preparation and urgency in the federal government's response.

Even military resources in the right place weren't ordered into action
. "On Wednesday," said an editorial in The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!"

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But
many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment - including high-water vehicles - are in Iraq. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."

In 2002 the corps' chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration's proposed cuts in the corps' budget, including flood-control spending.

Third question:
Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness? The administration has, by all accounts, treated the emergency management agency like an unwanted stepchild, leading to a mass exodus of experienced professionals.

Last year James Lee Witt, who won bipartisan praise for his leadership of the agency during the Clinton years, said at a Congressional hearing: "I am extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded. I hear from emergency managers, local and state leaders, and first responders nearly every day that the FEMA they knew and worked well with has now disappeared."

I don't think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn't rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn't get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I'd argue,
our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

Quote of the Day

"I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"

-- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R, Georgia)

This is the reality Of New Orleans. Even on Faux News.

from Crooks and Liars:

A picture named Shepard-Smith.jpgA picture named Geraldo-Rivera.jpgHorror Show

Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera were livid about the situation in NO as they appeared on H&C. When Hannity tried his usual spin job and said "let's get this in perspective," Smith chopped him off at the knees and started yelling at him saying, "This is perspective!" It was shocking.

Video-WMP-very big file so I had to compress it

QT coming

Geraldo who I'm no fan of was crying, holding a little child up to demonstrate the extremely inhumane conditions these people are forced to live under. Forced is the right word because they are locked in the dome by our government and can't leave.

This goes beyond political lines and it's as sad a situation as I've seen. Let's see all the happy politicians slap themselves on their backs after viewing this segment.

Digby has more: This was some amazing TV. Kudos to Shep Smith and Geraldo for not letting O'Reilly and Hannity spin their GOP "resolve" apologia bullshit. I'm fairly on

8:43:26 PM Comments (29) permalink

More on the state of the levees


"I've worked closely with Corps personnel for 6 years in various scientific and regulatory capacities on wetlands issues. While the Corps is often maligned by environmentalists, I will be the first to defend the professionalism, commitment and skill of their regulatory field staff.

The Corps, however, is Army - the institutional culture is one of top-down control and damn-the-torpedoes, and a deeply-ingrained instinct against criticising the chain of command.

In an email yesterday that eventually ended up on Wonkette, I predicted that they would be good soldiers and insulate Bush against charges that the levees weren't finished, and indeed I woke up to Al Naomi saying just that on NPR. And General Strock from HQ had to be brought in to do the real damage control: "I don't see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case," said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of engineers for the corps. "Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place." (from Chi Trib).

But there are really TWO questions that must be answered:

1) Was the levee complete and at design spec?

2) Would a design-spec levee have withstood Katrina?

1) The truth is that short of a whistleblower, we may never know the condition of that levee on 8/29. My source on its inadequate condition isn't solid enough. But I know the following things:

a) You don't finish levees and walk away. They need regular maintenance - even when you haven't built them on dewatered organic soils that settle every year.

b) A District that had just taken a one-year budget cut of $71 million will have had to make some very hard choices about whether maintenance on this particular levee fell (in Corps parlance) "above the line - priority" or "below the line - optional". Their SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) guidance might tell us, but somebody needs to get a FOIA cookin' on this right now.

c) The question of levee adequacy breaks down at least into "was it at spec height?" [yes!] and "was it structurally sound to spec?" [oops!]. Because of the nature of the levee failure (not overtopped, but burst), watch for Corp HQ to focus on the first question (which pins the deaths on nature), and ignore the second (which might pin the deaths on budget decisions).

2) Over the coming days, the Corps' message will be this: "Katrina was greater than the design storm for this levee." This is at least an open question - purportedly the levees were designed to withstand a direct hit from a Category 3 hurricane. Katrina was a Category 4 at landfall, presenting her weak side to the levees at a distance of some 40-50 miles. The question appears debatable on its technical merits, and Strock's facile answer is far too politically expedient a conclusion to take at face value from Corps HQ. I have seen them fall on their sword for Presidents before, and the need has never been greater.

To sum up: Gen. Strock is asking us to accept that the Army Corps could maintain the structural integrity of every last mile of levee built on subsiding soils in a District that had taken a $71 million budget cut in one year. AND that they would admit it if they hadn't, when the reputation of the President is at stake. All my experience rejects both propositions."

And the orignal email via Wonkette:

"We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3.
The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.

The NO paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has had massive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush -- they do great work when they're funded.
This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions. [LINK]

Friday, September 02, 2005

Just a thought...

Why weren't these now flood damaged and useless school buses loaded full of people and driven to safety on Saturday night?

There are over 100 buses in this photo alone. That means over 5500 people who could have been evacuated were not.

WHY? - Fats Domino found OK in New Orleans - Sep 1, 2005 - Fats Domino found OK in New Orleans - Sep 1, 2005:

"(CNN) -- Rock 'n' roll pioneer Fats Domino was among the thousands of New Orleans residents plucked from rising floodwaters, his daughter said Thursday.

Karen Domino White, who lives in New Jersey, identified her father in a picture taken Monday night by a New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer.

His whereabouts since the rescue were not immediately known. Nor was there any information about his wife, Rosemary, friends said."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fats Domino, 1928-2005(?)

from Chris Clarke at Creek Running North:

The news services have this now, but - Hat tip to Phil G. - Wikipedia has the best bio:

In the 1980s, Domino decided he would no longer leave New Orleans, having a comfortable income from royalties and a dislike for touring, and claiming he could not get any food that he liked anyplace else. His induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an invitation to perform at the White House failed to get Domino to make an exception to this policy. He lives in a mansion in a predominantly working-class 9th Ward neighborhood, where he is a familiar sight in his bright pink Cadillac. He makes yearly appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other local events, with performances demonstrating his undiminished talents.
When Hurricane Katrina was approaching New Orleans in August 2005, Domino chose to stay at home with his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter. On September 1, Al Embry, his agent, announced that he had not heard from Domino since before the hurricane had struck. His pink-roofed three-story house was located in New Orleans' 9th ward, an area that is heavily flooded.
A rescue team dispatched to the flooded residence removed the bodies of three unidentified individuals. No positive identification has been made, but the team said they believe it to be the missing family.

Expect more news like this. This is a human, ecological, and economic disaster. What's becoming clear is that it's a cultural disaster as well.

Hurricane Relief

from billmon at Whiskey Bar:

The American Red Cross

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Provides a full spectrum of services to disaster victims, including shelter, medical care, food, clean water and assisting with cleanup efforts.


America's Second Harvest

Donation link: Click here

Relief focus: Transports food to victims and secures additional warehouse space to assist member food banks in resuming and maintaining operations.


Catholic Charities USA

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Community based relief efforts focused on the long-terms needs of disaster victims and affected communities.


Direct Relief International

Donation link: Click here

Relief focus:Serves as a private back-up support to official emergency response efforts in the United States.


Feed The Children

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Mobilizing and distributing supplies in hurricane devastated areas.


Habitat for Humanity

Donation link: Click here

Relief focus: Helping disaster victims rebuild piece by piece and house by house.


Humane Society of the United States

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Dispatching Disaster Animal Response Teams (DARTs) to rescue animals and assist their caregivers.


Noah's Wish

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Keeping animals alive during disasters.


The Salvation Army

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Providing hot meals to displaced disaster victims and emergency personnel working to aid those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.


United Jewish Communities

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Community organized and administered humanitarian relief for disaster victims.


United Methodist Committee on Relief

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: General community-based disaster relief, as well as the creation and distribution of "flood buckets" -- a relief item for those who prefer to donate with a personal touch.


United Way

Donation Link: Click here

Relief focus: Identifying serious needs of devastated communities and helping not only with front-line disaster relief but with long-term recovery.


(Thanks to RenaRF for the idea.)

Posted by billmon at 12:07 AM

Get Off Your Ass

Thanks Neddie!

Just made my donation.

All of you on my blogroll are challenged to do the same to the best of your abilities and to pass the challenge on to your blogroll as well.

As Neddie so eloquently puts it,

from By Neddie Jingo:

Handdrummer writes in a comment to my last post:
Been listening to the podcast and trolling th net for pictures of the horror served on to my dear beloved New Orleans. Can't stop crying. Oh lord, what are we to do?
What you are to do is to stop listening to emotionally evocative music this instant and answer the Skippy Challenge:
skippy has donated $100.01 to the red cross for hurricane relief. and now, skippy challenges everyone who writes a political blog, no matter what side of the spectrum they inhabit, to do the same.

but that’s not all of the challenge. skippy then dares everyone on his blogroll (who will be receiving an email with this double-dog dare), after they donate, to (a) blog about it, and (b) send an email to everyone on their blog roll.

the $100 is to make a difference. if every political blog donates $100, think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the red cross can use to buy food and supplies for the people that need it now.

and the 1 cent is to let everyone know where that the donations came from blogtopia (yes! we coined that phrase!) and know that for once, in reality, the blogs are making a difference.

if the server is busy, call 1-800 help now.

if you can't contribute $100.01, then make it $50.01 or $20.01, or at least $5.01 (the minimum the red cross requires, plus 1 cent). give up your saturday movie date this week, take your lunch to work instead of eating out, do something!
To donate online, that link again is The American Red Cross. Or call 1-800 help now.

Get off your ass. (Yes, I coined that phrase!)

Message from the Management


Where are the great moral leaders who step forward in times of crisis?

I know that I speak most harshly of Chimpy McRezident most of the time, but I guess in my heart of hearts I always thought he'd step it up when he truly had to. Seems I was right about him all along. Sad to say, he truly is an empty suit without a shred of humanity. And not a single member of his little NeoCon cabal has any real humanity either, it appears.

I am just mute with anger and fear over the images and words I've been seeing. I can't even pretend that blogging about it is not simply all about me and this sense of hopelessness and helplessness that is overwhelming me.

What the hell are we going to do? I feel like such a callous ass sitting here experiencing the worst disaster my country has ever faced from the comfort of my den.

This poor excuse for a blog is going on hiatus for while. I am at a loss for words, in any case

A very short hiatus, it appears.
Thanks Billmon and Neddie for your work.

I remain at a loss for words.