Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Speaking of the Center

And Their Opinions

I realized by just sitting here typing tonight that the folks who are most angry with Silly Sheehan and the Protest People are folks like my Moms. For all those with questions, my Moms represents the folks who are Fox News and Weather Channel junkies. A kidnapping in Aruba is more important to them than national security, they think folks like me are trying to destroy the country and want to tell me all about it when I'm trying to watch football.

That's your "Center?"

I'll show you who is middle America, Joe Six-Pack, ordinary guys and gals stuck in extraordinary situations and mad at Hell at people who really screwed up because they lived through the screw ups. The folks who hate PETA and FEMA and can give good reasons why. Go check GulfSails' deconstruction of what happened down in Louisiana, and find out what folks in the middle are really thinking about. Read the comments, too, if you really want an expose!

Let's see the right tell us how much safer we are these days now that the "National Security and Catastrophe Management Government" lost the first American metropolis since the Civil War. Let's see how many more "unprecedented" disasters can befall us with the right at the helm. Let's see the right tell us how moral they are in the midst of so much incompetent cronyism. Let's see the right sell us on how much more we need to worry about Silly Sheehan and the Protest People while we're drowning in standing water. Let's see Barbara Bush tell us to eat cake one more time down in the midst of catastrophe.

Which way will the Center go this next time? I think we're all wet, and it ain't all rain.

For the fingers in the ears crowd...

More tidbits from my new favorite media darling.

John McCain is now a war-monger.

paT, your battle to reclaim your party just went uphill a little further. You're going to lose the middle real fast, the longer she talks.

As an added fun note, check out what I assume is Cindy's mugshot from her little protest the other day. In the words of Austin Powers, "That's a MAN, baby!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Josey Wales and the Culture of Death

I'm having a good time reading stuff over at DADvocate and responding in kind. I love finding thoughtful conservatives that can carry on conversations about the differences in what people believe.

One of the latest posts is "Why Democrats are Democrats," and I thought I'd start a string over here concerning what I beleive and why. Feel free to chime in.

Since the single biggest issue at the forefront of today's politics seems to be cultural, I'll throw caution to the wind and start right there. Every time I'm at my parent's house I get to hear how liberals like me are destroying the country. Instead of working 9-5 and trying to make ends meet, what I really do every day is go off to the super-secret Liberal Takeover Headquarters and help plan our next big attack on middle America while sharpening my knife. According to my Moms, I just hate America. According to my Pops, I support terrorism and killing babies.

Everyone who knows me can stop laughing now.

One thing I have come to realize from talking with my folks about stuff like this is that I am an enemy of the "Culture of Life." I guess that makes me a purveyor of the "Culture of Death," and in a way, that does fit. I'll explain how in a moment.

But first, I want to share with you one of the greatest silver screen conversations that takes place in one of my favorite movies: The Outlaw Josey Wales. Towards the end of the movie, our hero and unrepentant Confederate Josey Wales (played by Clint Eastwood), the Gray Rider, rides on horseback to the camp of Ten Bears (Will Samson), a Comanche Chief that plans to attack Josey Wales' party at their ranch. The Gray Rider rolls up and is confronted by a large band of well armed Comanches, ready to do battle. Josey offers Ten Bears a fair fight, one that will lead to the death of both Josey and Ten Bears, but there is another way: a fair deal where they can both live in peace, share the land, share the hunting. Ten Bears responds:

"These things you say we will have, we already have."

Josey Wales: "That's true. I ain't promising you nothing extra. I'm just giving you life and you're giving me life. And I'm saying that men can live together without butchering one another."

Ten Bears: It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life... or death.

It shall be life."


But the kicker (for me) of the whole dialouge is this: There is iron in your words of death for all...to see, and so there is iron in your words of life.

Respect for a culture of life cannot exist without a respect for death. There is no 'iron' in the choice of life or a less comfortable life. Because I believe so strongly in the choice of life, the power of death must be given its due. I am a Catholic, and I beleive the Church is a moral compass and lighthouse for society, but we do not live in a perfect world, and things happen that present us with decisions that may move us away from that compass, but not away from honor.

So I present to you my Culture of Death.

1. The only thing we have complete and utter control over is our own life. In a perfect world, we would all die peacefully in our sleep, surrounded by family and friends. But we don't live in a perfect world. Sometimes disease or injury will take away our dignity and honor, forcing us to live at the leave of others. Sometimes events will force us to choose between saving our own lives, or giving up our lives to save the lives of others. Sometimes, things we do can bring to us shame so great, that we can no longer live our lives in the face of others. Sometimes, we are only living our lives because we are consumed with fear of death. I belive that sometimes, to celebrate our life is to give ourselves freely to death.

2. There are people in this world who chose to commit crimes of such a vile nature, that our only recourse is to take their life, and put them to death. This is no small step, for it is we, as a society, who deem when it is acceptable to take away from someone else their life, the only thing they have complete and utter control over. It is never acceptable but sometimes necessary, and we must steel ourselves to that fact. This is not done as a deterrent, or it should not be used as such. But it is necessary when the one being put to death has committed acts against the life or lives of others that is beyond redemption, and we, as a society, deem they no longer deserve to have life. In a perfect world, the only acceptable number of executions is 0; but we do not live in a perfect world.

3. Murder is a crime against life. Thou shalt not kill. In a perfect world, there would be no need for killing. But we do not live in a perfect world. Some people choose not to live life with respect, and will come against the life or lives of others who do. Sometimes, in order to defend our own life and the lives of others, we must take the life of an assailant. Sometimes this decision must be made quickly. I do not believe it is murder or unjustified killing to put to death someone who comes in the night or on the street to take another's life.

4. War. In a perfect world, there would be no war. We would all work towards the betterment of all peoples in diplomatic and constructive ways. But we do not live in a perfect world. Sometimes, nations must take up arms and proceed with sowing death among the peoples of nations who do not respect life. War is killing writ large, and requires the highest moral justification. War requires a nation to stand up in unity and decide that the life of an enemy is forfeit. War requires a nation to stand up and take responsibility for the crime of bringing death to what innocent life might be caught between nations, and to acknowledge that those lives too, are forfeit. War requires ultimatums and declarations and conditions of surrender, so that all may know when war starts and when war comes to an end. War requires an entire society to be engaged at the business of war, and bringing war to an end as rapidly as possible. War requires an understanding that, when society is wholly engaged in the business of war, society as a whole is someone's enemy, and therefore under threat of attack. If society is not ready to accept these responsibilities, society is not ready to engage in War.

5. The ending of pregnancy through artificial means. Many will call this abortion. This is the most sensitive and personal issue on this page. (The national debate is not handled with compassion and understanding and intelligent discourse and constructive thought, but with shouting and threats and bloodshed.) The only acceptable number of pregnancy terminations is zero. But that is also a 'perfect world' number, just like the only acceptable number of killings and executions and wars is zero. That number excludes any situation where choice is not a moral decision, but a medical one. Therein lies the difference between #5 and numbers 1-4. This decision between life and death is one based purely on one woman and the medicine of her own body. It takes for granted the most important fact of the whole issue: no woman wants to have to make this choice. When a woman is pregnant, that pregnancy can end her life at any time from conception to birth, without warning, and despite medical science. That is fact. That changes the entire issue, and here's how: Any woman who carries a pregnancy full term is making a choice: to risk her own life to create new life. That choice should be celebrated. But to choose differently should not be demonized, no matter what the intention. That decision must be left up to the woman and those she chooses to involve in that decision, for it is the life of that woman that is at risk, and no man not facing death can make that decision for her.

For there is iron in her decision, and governments are always chiefed by the double tongues.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lies, Damned Lies...

...And the media potentially blowing up everything remotely related to the Superdome.

Perhaps the New Orleans Superdome wasn't the filth-ridden pit of rape and death that the media fell over their collective johnsons to report about. Perhaps what appears to be the fine, fine reporting from the people on the ground in the aftermath of Katrina will prompt some people in high places in the news media to re-think who they're putting on the ground, what they let them report, and how thourough they check their facts.

Perhaps I drank my breakfast again, and the above thought is a flight of fancy related to that...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bad Day All Around

It would be more appropriate if today were a Monday.

First of all Hurricane Rita is here and making lives miserable everywhere. She hasn't even made landfall yet, and she's already bringing down the levees in New Orleans. GulfSails is obviously having a busy day alternating between rants like these, making new friends out over at PETA and keeping up with the deteriorating weather conditions (all over his site).

Far reaching effects have made it all the way to Georgia, where the Governor has asked schools to remain closed on Mondays and Tuesday to conserve fuel for the predicted shortage. (I hope that doesn't last long, I've got to be in Athens on Thursday!)

But, luckily, there are still smart alexes out there in the world, continuing to do what they do best: making us smile at things like this in spite of ourselves...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Check yo' Booty

Both Clicked on MSNBC and Boing Boing had links to this site this week. This stuff is so funny, I could just waste hours clicking around.

Check out the link above, and then search the site for the "if Goth's Ruled" contest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Katrina Lessons

We May Need Them In 24 Hours

Forward this last GulfSails Commentary to everyone you know who has an opinion on New Orleans. I know I'm going to write this link in to Flagpole Magazine after they've been entertaining the editor in chief of the Gambit writing about the death of the Crescent City for two months.

I think I'll try and convince TAG to do a monthly press of GulfSails to take the place of the Gambit. I know I'd have no problem moving to the New Orleans to write about that city....

Topsy Turvy

A world turned upside down.

First up, a liberal line from a conservative pundit. Though some of you on the right side of the aisle may think "that's not conservative, that's just common sense!!" C'mon down to the Sizzle (St Simons) and try to win an election by saying "we've got to be careful about the way we develop property..." You would be called a communist and a traitor, even if you were saving money on flood insurance by switching to Geico.

Second, a scathing critique of the leadership of the left, by a liberal! Pay attention Democratically leaning voters: we're losing elections because we're pandering to special interests. Nothing truer has been said. I especially like the line "Democrats always walk right into the punch." Yup.

And the New (Old) American Family and Why a National Consensus is Important. Quick rundown of what you get and don't get when you enter the legally sanctioned and approved contract of marriage. Now, I'm not a fan of the nuclear family any more than I'm a fan of the single mother or the 'it takes a village' motif. But I was discussing this with my Pops the other day, and I couldn't beleive that he and I really have such wildly different values.

1. He followed a job away from his extended family and friends, and suffered through the inconvenience that caused. I will eventually move to a place either very, very close to my extended family or my friends or hopefully live someplace they all like to visit constantly. My future job will be based on the geography of where I live, where I live will not be based on the geography of my job. If I have kids, they will benefit from having family and friends so close.

2. I don't know what my Dad's best friends look like. My kids will never, ever have that problem.

3. Pops thinks I should just settle down with the next girl that comes along, start a family and that will calm me down. (As long as she's not obnoxiously liberal or a communist or anything...) He thinks that I should do this even if there are glaring things about the next girl that I don't like. (Like, if she doesn't have a job and doesn't cook.) He thinks I should buy a car based on impressing girls rather than economy and utility in order to expedite that process. ('Cause girls will think a guy that does that is cheap...) He thinks a man's life is only complete when it is part of a family like his, and most other men are not living up to their potential if they don't have one.

And he wonders why his generation is the first one to hit the 50% divorce rate. He blames liberals like me, 'cause my 'free love and nickely moonshine' ideals just don't jive with his definition of the 'family.'

Now, I'd love to get married and have a family. But I'd rather never get married my whole life than get married to someone I don't like, have kids I don't like with someone I don't like and get a divorce and screw up my life, her life and those kids' lives. Why? Because 1) I'm obnoxiously liberal, 2) there are a great many things I don't like and I don't mind commenting on such things out loud, 3) she ain't got to have no skills in my kitchen, but she better be ready to pay some rent, 4) I am a cheap utilitarian, unless it comes to music, football or eating out 5) I got to be good with my life and where I'm at before I make those decisions jointly.

So I thought I'd throw that article in with that commentary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Stuff that Makes Me Laugh

For some reason, this just struck me as much funnier than so many other political cartoons of the day, and pretty much sums up how I feel about our President and the "Right Wing Message."

Maybe it's the satisfied look on the animal's face...

Enjoy.

The seventh seal...

Hassle the Hoff...that is all...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Loony Brigade (2)

We can talk about the crazies at the microphone till the cows come home. One thing we do have to keep in mind is that those crazy individuals will rarely have an impact on our lives other than to be stupid in public and either enrage or embarass us.

What of the brain-dead folks who have a real impact on our lives and who rarely get called on it? Like developers who abandon architectural utility in order to turn a quick profit? My new sage GulfSails has some great thoughts on that particular discussion here.

There's a reason I'd rather live in a hundred year old house rather than a 40 year old house, and that's got as much to do with asthetic-as-utility as it does with historical preservation.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The charge of the loony brigade...

Seriously, you guys.

'Occupied' New Orleans?

Really. Keep her in the news. Please. We could run a ticket of Orrin Hatch and Strom Thurmond's ghost and win in '08 as long as Cindy keeps in front of the cameras.

Don't believe Drudge? Check the Huffing-paint post. It's the last paragraph in the rambling diatribe...

The Art of Love

I rarely send out the gushy stuff, especially when it originates from artsy types, but this was just too good. In a week of bad things going on all over the world, in a week of ranting and raving, in a week of hearing how hard it is to fight the good fight, I ran across this link today.

Some folks get to write their own storybook. Like that beacon in the dark, some things are still so silly and simple and good they show us what in the world it is we are fighting for day in and day out. There it is, y'all. That's the prize.

Art girls rock.

Davy Crockett, for the win...

Some folks would like to classify me as a Republican. I'm not a Republican. In a nutshell, I'm a fiscal conservative, with Libertarian social leanings. This piece on lewrockwell.com, pretty well sums up my feelings on how money should be spent by politicians...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

String Bet

I'm going to start this post off, and see where it goes. It will end with starving artists, so pay attention.

Former FEMA director and equestrian enthusiast Michael Brown blames everyone but himself for the Gulf Storm fiasco. He claims the States were in chaos and he forwarded that information to the White House. Good crony. Just stand there like a deer in headlights when the poo hits the fan. Glad to know the Bush Administration put the right people in the right places.

Meanwhile, not to be out-shouted by pinheads on the left (as discussed earlier on this website, Rightwingers-Against-Really Real Reality! (RARRR!) Spokesman Pat Robertson discovered who's really to blame for Hurricane Katrina: Ellen. That's right, not only is this substandard talk show host the cause of Hurricanes in the Gulf, Robertson has also said in the past that Ellen was also personally responsible for the September 11th attacks (same article). Please, Pat, stay at the microphone as long as you want.

Speaking of God, and what stupid people think of Him, out in California, home of the zaniest white people in America, they have banned the Pledge of Allegiance. By court order. Do you know how much mileage Conservatives are going to get out of this one? I do. New GOP slogan: This Republican Govermnet is brought to you by the City of San Francisco, Again!

Luckily, there are some more reasonable voices out there, reminding us all what Jesus did. Christianity isn't supposed to be easy, and it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into Heaven. Oh yeah, it will also answer a question long ago asked of me as to why I liked John Edwards besides the fact that he was the only real Southerner running for President. Its there, and in a big, big way.

Back on the East Coast, the United States Senate proves again why all their offices are in the RUSOB? building by conducting the most ridiculous job interview in history on national television. We know Roberts is going to win. Please stop making rear ends of yourselves for the whole world to see. Maybe because the Senate has now made the US House of Representatives look like the mature house of our bicameral legislature, I'm just about ready to say that every single incumbent Senator needs to loose their next election. But I fear we may just end up with the same thing we have now, only in reverse. Luckily, conservo-pundit Glenn Reynolds has pretty good alternative in mind for how we should go about acquiring Senators. I'm sold.

And to work all this back to starving artists, here's another good idea, one that I've already gone over with several of my artist friends. Artists need to get on, and stay on, the ball. Just like how good is gonna triumph over evil once good learns how to fight dirty, artists are going to stop starving once they learn how to balance their checkbooks, how to price their art and how to stop undercutting one another. I betcha they'll get loads more respect from regular Joes on the street when they're making a living off of something fun, too. Providing for yourself and your family ain't selling out, y'all, its what you're supposed to be doing.

And if any effete coffee shop quarterbacks smoking their rolled cigarretes tell you that you are a sellout, remember that they are just jealous. They can't sell their art because their art sucks. Just like former FEMA cheif Michael Brown.

That's not a string bet, that's a raise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The New York Whines

So my Pops always goes to get a copy of the New York Times every Sunday and reads the whole thing. Yes, my ultra-conservative father reads a newspaper I think is pretty much inconsequential, and spends hours trying to tell me what the NYT writers and editors think they need to publish today.

So, Sunday, he showed me a "telling" piece written by some "poet" from New Orleans. (FYI, to any bloody nose liberal and Blue Sky Coffee alum like me, alarm bells start ringing when those particular words are strung together...) This dude, a refugee from communist Romania, has decided that he will declare New Orleans dead and an "exquisite corpse" because the stuff that makes it inhabitable to folks like him will now go away. He makes this declaration from Baton Rouge.

Meanwhile, my favorite new commentator GulfSails, who is still working rescue boats in New Orleans had this choice response. I think everyone should read it. Most especially the editors up at the New York Whines.

Next time I'm in New Orleans, I am buying this cat a drink.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Best Laid Plans

These folks aren't liberals.

They are stupid.

Beofre SAWB can get up here and tell us all that these people have anything to do with liberal thought, I'll take a page out of the neo-con playbook and launch a pre-emptive strike. Against people like Galloway, Ensler and Fonda.

These folks are pretty much scum.

Now, out of the three, Fonda is by far the most naive and least destructive. It is only a testament to the place of beautiful women in culture that she was ever a starlet, and a case of culture backlash that she is still garnering headlines. The worst thing one can do to her is ignore her and change the channel. Fade away, honey.

Then there is this Eve Ensler chick who pretty much eptiomizes the place where feminism should loathe to go. What used to be a vast movement based on equal rights, equal pay and equla justice has been usurped by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmeies. Feminism weeps if this is what its come to. Hell, she takes all the femininity out of the belief structure, and she won't look people in the eyes when speaking to them. That suggests to me a lack of confidence that can only come with spewing lies. I don't give a crap about her silly book. If this is what women are supposed to aspire to, no wonder "feminism" has become a dirty word.

Then there is Galloway. If anyone, anyone on the left is wondering why people who agree with us continue to walk away it is because folks like him have our microphone. Well, here's the lesson kids, and I realized this last night when my Moms looked me straight in the eye and told me I wasn't really a liberal.

We on the left are not attaching to these people to further our causes, they are attaching to us to increase their relevancy. We need to garner up a housecleanin,' folks. We need to retake our legacy: liberalism is based in the belief structrues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Franklin Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony. We walk in the paths made by giants, when will we act like it? By God we've got to get our microphone back.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Should We Rebuild New Orleans?

I've heard and read this question a lot over the past week: Should NOLA be rebuilt? Usually voiced by people who have never lived in New Orleans, or Louisiana, or anywhere near the Delta, this question is invariably followed by a detailed and elaborate No. These very intelligent, very detached pundits explain that the city was a mess. Not only was it built incomprehensibly below sea level, (hard not to see their point, there) but it was also a morass of crime, corruption, poverty, and black people.

What amazes me about these articles is that they are written, not by Pompous White Neo-Cons, (a group I think might do or say almost anything) but by ostensibly well-meaning Liberals -- Yankee Liberals, generally -- but nevertheless Liberals who have Our Best Interests at Heart. Never have I understood more clearly my conservative friends' desire to choke these people. As one of my housemates, Nikka, said: “Here's a real American story: the town flooded; so no one came back."

By God, if we want to live in a smelly, dirty swamp filled with alligators and blues musicians, it is our right as free citizens. If the pursuit of happiness leads us to dress up in silver face paint and stand motionless for hours, then by damn no one can stop us. That's the American Dream. I’ve never lived in New Orleans, but Hell, by these standards we might as well clear out half the South.

These people tend to bolster their arguments by finding a few beleaguered refugees who honestly say, (shortly after undergoing terrible trauma and loss) No. I don’t think I’ll be going back. ‘Ah-ha!’ the op-ed writer proclaims, ‘Poor New Orleans: doomed like Atlantis to arise no more.’ What garbage. For every person they find who says they'd rather stay in Texas, there is some waterlogged New Orleanian saying: "I'd rather get lockjaw than live in Houston."

In fact getting some folks out of New Orleans in the first place has been damned near impossible. Not only is there Pat’s favorite at GulfSails, still tooling around taking snapshots of the damage, but there’s also the folks at Johnny White’s who have turned the bar which never closes into an impromptu bar/shelter/hospital.

And check out these guys still out on their front porch drinking:
Kirby Gee, who owns the house, works as a bartender at Miss Mae's down the street. He says the bar did pretty good business even through last Wednesday [August 31 two days after landfall] —the cops kept them in shotgun shells as long as they kept pouring drinks. Gee says the police taught everyone around here how to loot. They were the first to bust into the grocery store down the street and the Wal-Mart a mile or so up the road. He also says they took to breaking into car lots in the days after the storm and driving off with brand-new Escalades. I'm not sure whether to believe him, until a cop car drives buy towing what looks like a mint-condition Corvette Stingray. "And these are the people telling us to evacuate," says one of the porch dwellers. Every time a Humvee rolls by, a few of the guys make sure to flash the peace sign.

No doubt there are exceptions. Some holdouts change their minds, becoming eager to leave when they run out of essential supplies. Like this one ponytailed guy in bedroom slippers who has to skip town immediately because the city has completely run out of weed. (The date on that article, by the way, is September 8th, indicating it took New Orleans more than a week after landfall to reach that particular crisis. They obviously have not run out of booze. Nor will they. They haven’t even run out of mixers.)

The nail in the coffin, though, for those wondering whether or not we will rebuild our fair (if grubby) city is this: the Strippers are back in New Orleans.

Road Trip, anyone?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Our debate to have

I was going to post this as a comment, but it got so big so fast I decided to hell with it.
If all you are doing is complaining or, even better, wasting time complaining about complaining, that's a problem. Hell, yes.
Still, I doubt that anyone who regularly posts on, or even reads, this blog has failed to give money, at the very least. I suppose it is possible though. So...
If you still haven't given anything or done anything to help, and you have any money or time, don't be a jerk. These folks are in terrible shape.

However:
To say we should wait until the urgency has passed to assign credit and blame where they are due assumes a luxury we do not have. It assumes that right now, when over a million people are displaced and something like $100 billion worth of property lies in ruins, the same people who royally screwed up during the first days of this catastrophe will suddenly get on the ball without anybody forcing them to do so. It assumes that those currently in charge have the wisdom, the information, and the inclination to solve what problems lie immediately at hand. And it assumes, most irritatingly, that those who are “on the scene” have both the ability and the access to speak for themselves, which many of them do not. They are without the means. They are without the energy. And they damn well want and need someone to do it for them.

In Memphis, we have more than 25,000 refugees, at last count. Not much compared to some places, but a bunch of people to feed, clothe, house, and educate in a hurry. Until Friday, when many passionate “complainers” got together and made a hell of a lot of noise, we had exactly five, count them five, Red Cross Caseworkers in the entire Memphis area. No aid, aside from acute medical care, could be distributed without each person speaking to one of those 5. All week these refugees (the only ones with any right to speak, apparently) have been too busy spending all day in line outside in 100+ heat waiting to get their name on a list and to be told “come back in three days and not before then.”

It’s easy to criticize me or any of the other complaining “Monday morning quarterbacks,” but, before you do, let me remind you: we complainers are the ones staffing the lines, the ones giving our money, our time, our energy.
We are also the ones who see the system spectacularly failing, and say: We have to stand up now. We all have to make these points Now. Because people need the help Now, Today.

Thankfully in America, when you complain loudly enough, for long enough, the Powers that Be listen and make changes, if only because they fear for their jobs and reputations.

So, as someone a lot closer to the ground than UGA law, I say: Let the debates continue. Any one who wants to wait till the ground has settled and there are no more serious consequences for being wrong or right can get out of the damned pool.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The money trail...

So, I'm sure you've all heard by now, how the ebil, ebil empire that is the George W. Bush administration cut funding to the New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers, and that's why this whole hurriflood is his fault.

Hate to tell you, non-believers, but the money was there, the ACOE just chose to spread it around on pork, rather than what it might have been used for, like upgrading the strength of the levees.

I'm not absolving the President of all blame here, I just want to make sure that we all see what's happening. Politicians see money, politicians spend money, politicians work shoulder out of socket patting selves on back for spending money in their own district.

In Other News

We're still at war in Iraq

There are still people shooting at our brother and sister Americans in faraway deserts. Let's keep that in mind. Here's a letter from Major Bob Bateman, and I ripped it's entire content off Altercation, 'cause I think many folks who read this blog need to be able to see it whole. It is one of the best "I wish I was home, but we're making progress here and its something to be proud of because this is what we're fighting for and dying for" explanations I've ever read.

Name: Major Bob Bateman
Dateline: Baghdad, Iraq


Back from the Home Front

I returned to Iraq ten days ago. My R&R was a blissful few weeks with my daughters and my love at my parents’ house at the beach. For twelve days I had little sense of time beyond that provided from the position of the sun in the sky and my mother’s badgering to “come in for dinner.” My feet went unshod for nearly the whole time, and I sank a 50 foot chip shot on the 14th hole, which is enough to sustain.

But I am back now, and so I need to focus again on the here.

The most pressing thing here is the coming referendum. I have, it seems, a moderately contrarian position on this issue. From what I saw of the various and sundry pundits on television during my weeks at home, many consider the possibility that the draft constitution might be voted down as a “tipping point,” or a crisis of some sort. There is some purchase in the old line about “nattering nabobs” on this topic. Quite a few predict disaster should the Constitution not pass this referendum of the People.

I disagree, and to some degree I am bewildered by the negativity. In January, when I got here, the Sunnis barely participated in the first Iraqi foray into democracy. That was a setback. Unlike then, the Sunnis are now registering in droves, as are even more Shi’a, and all of the other sects and ethnicities that combine to make Iraq. Look here. They are, gasp, campaigning. About Issues. Folks, this matters.
Particularly telling in the article linked above are a few lines which seem to make many people nervous because they raise the specter of a splinter Shi’a-Sunni Alliance. Here is the money quote, it refers to Moqtada Al Sadr, the Shi’a cleric: “Sadr called upon his followers this summer to register and then await word from him on whether to vote. The rejection of the charter by his followers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and by the Sunnis would sink the draft document, some Sunnis say.”

But I see this as, pardon me, something approaching our first true victory here. Why? Well examine that proposition. Moqtada Al Sadr, a man who a little more than a year ago was engaged with us in a desperate life-and-death struggle, directing thousands of followers in violence against us and the new Iraqi government, is now leading opposition in which the primary weapon is a ballot.

Is that not the purpose for which we came here? Not to determine the outcome of an election, but to enable a truly free and open election. It is, at least, a large part of why I am here. Freedom.

Making this even more possible are the numbers. As the Washington Post reports, “In the predominantly Sunni province of Salahuddin, 722,025 of 1.1 million eligible adults registered to vote, said Isam Hussein Samarraie, the provincial voter registration director. In the January elections, 532,069 people cast ballots there. In Diyala province, 417,000 of 750,000 eligible adults registered. In January, only 119,000 cast ballots, according to Amir Latif Alyahya, director of the provincial elections commission.”

Salah ad Din and Diyala are two pretty rough provinces. In fact, those are two of the four provinces where fighting has never really abated. And here too the process seems to be on track. People are registering to vote against us, which is a damned sight better than shooting at us.

BAGHDAD WITHIN EARSHOT:

When I returned here I discovered a whole new crop of personnel in this headquarters, from the top to the bottom. I am now, officially, the longest serving (in Iraq) person in my particular section. Draw your own conclusions.

I have been engaged in a debate with one reader here through a long string of e-mails. He opposes this conflict, and claims that all who fight in what he determines as an unjust war, are by extension immoral. This posting is as close as I ever expect to get to publicly explaining the “why” of my personal participation.(Footnote 1)

My daughter Ryann kept me on pins and needles for a week as she tried out for her 7th grade school soccer team. On Tuesday I expect that those of you on the East Coast heard my shout of joy when I received her one-line e-mail, “Dad, I made the team.”


That's the end of the letter. Right about now, you can turn up the hurricane radio, 'cause your DJ (me) just got awful mad. Here's a little comment from yours truly regarding that second to last paragraph.

(1) As a matter of disclosure, full and public, let it be known that the "one reader" who thinks participants in war are "by extension immoral" is the kind of spoiled brat American who doesn't deserve to have people defend his butt.

It is an issue of American Consensus that our volunteer armed forces are putting their lives on the line to defend us and our way of life. There is nothing immoral in defending oneself or one's country. If the leaders we as a nation elect make the decision to send our troops into harms' way for immoral reasons it is the fault of noone but ourselves, for we are the ones who elected those leaders. And if we disagree with those leaders or think an action immoral, it is our fault for not changing the hearts and minds of the electorate who put those leaders there. This is a democracy and a republic, the buck does not really stop with the President, the buck stops with us who cast those ballots.

Now, there is nothing unpatriotic about questioning the validity of how or why a war is being waged, or even if someone (misguided as I think this is) who argues that war is never the answer. Hell, there's nothing unpatriotic about expecting the military to police soldiers and keep them under scrutiny for violating the Military Codes or the Geneva Conventions Abu Graib-style. But questioning the morality of soldiers and servicepeople for volunteering to serve and then going to war for us because our elected leaders have decided on that course of action is just flat out wrong. It pains me to see that some Americans are so closed minded and self centered that they take their squemishness out on our boys and girls who have the cajones to step up and wear the green and guns.

What really sets me off is that I bet this (most likely upper middleclass white male milquetoast faux-liberal) jerk probably pats himself on the back for his "courage" to "take on the military-industrial complex," and he probably does it quite loudly at a place not unlike Hot Corner Coffee in Athens. Slime like this spit on Vietnam Veterans in airports. I bet the little punk thinks he's a communist, too, and I bet a bunch of pot-smoking hippie girls just think he's the cat's meow.

What a loser. Just for the record, folks like that aren't liberals, they're stupid.

I want everyone to think of the folks who you know who are soldiers or who have been soldiers and ask yourself if those individuals fit the description of "by extension immoral." I want everyone to go back and read Major Batemans's letter and see if someone like that fits the bill.

The Big Question...

...is our Governors learning?

(pun intended)

I can only hope, at this point, that what has happened with the Gulf Storm will make elected leaders around the country realize the lessons of this tragedy and work to avoid them in the future. The only thing that will be worse than what happend to the Gulf States is if the same thing happens again with similar result.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mantra

I love this guy down at GulfSails. He takes hellraisin' American attitude and Southern commentary to a new level with this opinion. A whole Beer Drinkin' Gospel sermon in less than 200 words.

Uptownies

Like many of you who have come with me to visit the family know, they are uptownies and live closer to the Universities than to the French Quarter. I guess that's why I was so glad to read GulfSail's report on the Uptown area. St Joes Bar could open tonight and there are still cars with parking tickets on them.

Wow.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Balanced Outcry

Give me back the mic!

In the interest of shouting down the yahoo spin machines of Michael Moore and right wing punditry, I give our viewers two very good columnists from both the left and the right and their takes on where, exactly, the buck stops for the Twin Disasters. (I've edited the best quotes for your reading pleasure, but reading the whole articles are well worth the bandwidth.)

First up, one of my favorites on the center-left, Olbermann.

The "city" of Louisiana (Keith Olbermann)

SECAUCUS — Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.
(...)
But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”
(...)
But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point.
(...)
Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.
As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.


So Olbermann, like me, is under the impression that boneheads on all levels made this disaster worse. Olbermann, also like me, recognizes that this kind of thing is why we let ol' Dubya get together a Department of Homeland Security in the first place. That's why FEMA reports to DHS. DHS is ol' Dubya's program, run by ol' Dubya's people. Follow the chain of command all the way to the top, 'cause when the leadership vacuum hits, ol' Dubya's supposed to step up.

But, of course, any responsibility for this Gulf Storm that might land at ol' Dubya's doorstep is nothing more than the "liberal" media, spinning itself into its own tropical depression, right? That's what right of right wing punditry tells me. (I mean, how much damage can one man do, especially one man on vacation? No wonder Nagin and Bush are spending quality time together getting the alibi all cooked up...) So I went to read one of my favorite conservo-pundits, Scarborogh. I was fully expecting a heaping of "don't blame the poor overworked President, he wasn't even supposed to be here today!" But here's what I got (unedited for full force):

We deserve answers, Mr. President (Joe Scarborough)
As one who has seen these hurricanes up close as a Gulf Coast resident, news reporter and member of Congress — where I got a behind the scenes look at how to run relief operations — I have been trying to connect the dots for those of you who have not been so intimately involved in hurricane recovery efforts.

With so many trying to figure out why so few acted professionally in the first days of this epic crisis, I offer an insider's view of who is to blame for this national disgrace.

We begin with Harry Truman who famously declared that the buck always stops at the president's desk. For those who now define the term conservative as unwavering support for George W. Bush, even this suggestion is maddening.

But the bottom line is that despite the fact the president was strapped with two governors who bungled this crisis badly, in the end it is the president who sends in the National Guard and FEMA relief.

The president's suggestion that the size of this storm caught all by surprise just doesn't get it. His administration was 48 hours late sending in the National Guard and poor Americans got raped and killed because of those mistakes.

A painful assessment from a supporter of the president, but also true.

Secondly, the first responders in any hurricane are local and state officials. When Florida was struck by four hurricanes last year, Governor Jeb Bush was nothing short of spectacular. Louisiana Governor Blanco was breathtakingly clueless as were other Louisiana officials. The deaths of many lay on their doorsteps.

FEMA’s Michael Brown also shoulders the burden for the suffering in New Orleans. His claim that no one knew of the suffering on the ground until Thursday defies logic. America knew the crescent city was drifting toward chaos on well before Tuesday. Why didn't the man in charge of disaster relief know the same thing?

One state over, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour continues to claim that Katrina caught him by surprise, telling one reporter that it was after all a cat one storm after crossing Florida. That useless fact doesn't erase the fact that the entire Gulf Coast was put on alert as early as Friday that this storm would be historic.

If Barbour thought Katrina would be little more than a category one storm, then he is not to be trusted organizing his sock drawer — let alone the most tragic natural disaster to ever hit his state.

As for those politicians hell-bent on claiming all went well over the past week, don't waste your breath. People died in New Orleans because of incompetence. Not because of racism, or poverty, or any other social ill. They died because the political leaders we elected were not up to the task of protecting the innocent from the most savage among us and from dehydration, starvation and heat exhaustion. Deaths, that I learned from the Terri Schiavo death-watch, are most painful to endure. Bold added for emphasis.

Mr. President, Governor Blanco and Governor Barbour, all is not well with your relief teams. We deserve answers sooner rather than later.


Boom.

Unraveling the blame game...

So, it appears that perhaps the ebil President George W. Bush may not be at the heart of the gigantic foul up that is/was the evacuation of New Orleans. Now, it comes out, that President Bush offered federal assistance on the first day after the hurricane, but Louisiana Governor, Kathleen Blanco, said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

The smoke you smell is the loony left trying to figure out how to spin this to still be President Bush's fault...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Question

Anyone know a site with up to date satellite photos of all this madness?
It's hard to get a sense of scale with chopper shots and news clips.

Five Lessons

From SciGuy at the Houston Chronicle. I like reading expert opinions that line up with my (and very many of my friends') own opinions. That means either someone is listening, or the truth is obvious and unavoidable. Either way works. Go and read about it here.

Bonus: GulfSails (who is pod/broadcasting from his home somewhere in New Orleans) gives us not only a Goepolitical & Strategic point of view, but also his take on the blame game that is being waged on all levels.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Red Cross asked to Keep Out

Makes sense when you think about it, I guess.
The Red Cross isn't exactly full up with rescue choppers.

Back in Memphis

Home again. Two FEMA workers were on the plane with me: headed first to Memphis and then points South.
We've got waves of refugees here; since for once we're not flooded and everyone South of us is.
Unfortunately, the storms which radiated out from Katrina put the Memphis power grid on the blink.
Nevertheless, most of the local churches are open as shelters.
The restaurants are stepping up, and not just by sending food to the shelters. Servers aren't taking tips. Almost everywhere food is half price to anyone from Mississippi, Alabama, or Louisiana, and many of the more expensive places are comping their meals outright.
CompUSA has free internet available for refugees, which may sound frivolous, but any means to contact loved ones at this point is a plus.
Taking the cake for initiative though, one church got a big-ole moving truck from somewhere. It's parked at one of our busy intersections taking donations. When it's full of food, water, clothing, etc., they're just heading that thing South.
Memphis can't find its back with both hands most of the time, but floods we understand.

Friday, September 02, 2005

News this Morning

Even President Bush today admitted the response to Hurricane Katrina has not been enough.

We must face the facts, our systems and contingencies were overwhelmed. We should never stop hoping for the best case scenario but we must always prepare for the worst. I really think that all this caught everyone off guard, and again, the Americans are holding what shreds are left of the situation together by strength of will alone. But we should not play the blame games (and even I am guilty of them). Sometimes something is so big that everything we've been trained to prepare for isn't enough. We can run as many simulations and practice emergencies as we are able, we will never be truly prepared for devestation on this scale.

I will say this, and I don't say it lightly: it seems to me the chain of command completely broke down here and that is causing the problems. (We all, in this country, know that the media is going to sensationalize any issue enough to cause panic, so I'm kind of taking their role in this for granted.) Imagine for one moment if Rudy Giuliani were Mayor of New Orleans right now, and think about how things might be different. It is an awful thing to say, but someone somewhere needs to take charge or coordinate the whole operation - and I haven't seen that yet at all. That is what the Department of Homeland Security was designed for, wasn't it?

Second: think about what would happen if this were one of those catastrophic terrorist attacks we've been prepping for since September 11, 2001. Would our response have been, after watching the last few days, even close to adequate?

Right now, we've got to stay out of the way and let the folks on the ground do their job, but we are going to have to learn some hard, hard lessons from this.

(For the comments section, what do you, the reader, think those lessons are?)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush Refuses International Aid

Are you kidding me?

This one is for all those folks who I have heard in the past several days who said "Why doesn't the rest of the world help us out during times like these? We sure spent a lot of our time and money helping them..." Well, Mom, here's the answer: Your boy Bush doesn't want them to send the help! I'm sure there's gonna be some folks down in the 9th Ward and dying on the steps of the Superdome that are awfully appreciative of his refusal, 'cause now's the best time to let pride get in the way of a rescue effort!

I guess he thinks that letting other folks lend a hand would make us (and methinks more importantly, him) look weak in the face of Hurricane Katrina. I'll say it again, now ain't the time to act proud. There are thousands dying on the ground, and it doesn't appear that there can be something like too much help in this situation. I'm sure folks who need medicine are going to refuse treatment from French & German doctors who learned how to deal with crises in sub-Saharan Africa. I'm sure Louisianans don't want the Russians and Arabians telling them how to clean up oil and chemical spills. I'm sure that the Israelis don't know a thing or two about crowd control that we might be able to use. I'm sure NATO doesn't have half a clue about how to deal with refugees from unexpected situations. I saw some guy on Fox News ask last night where the Dutch were with all their flood control experience; they showed up, buddy, but Bush is turning them around at the door!

Now, I hate to Monday Morning Quarterback, but you've got to be kidding me. Let the aid come to the folks who need help! Yes. We are America. We can do this alone. But are we going to let pride get in the way of helping our people save lives? That's about the most un-American thing I've ever heard of.

The real Coalition is just waiting for the word, go.

Blogstorm Katrina Roundup

Slate casts a pretty good net of all the high traffic blogs and what is being said where about Hurricane Katrina.

This one runs the gauntlet. Racism in the media. Cops joining in the looting (I pray they're just putting stuff back, but I fear the worst...) to Robert Kennedy Jr, Pat Robertson, Haley Barbor, and jihadists all playing the blame game as to why the hurricane happened. You can bet that God figures prominently in many of those discussions, and there is a great deal of Monday morning quarterbacking going on as if they were on the steps of the Superdome themselves. I wonder if they've ever heard about being part of the problem.

What I love to see, however, is how everyone from the aforementioned St Simons Tribune(tabloid) to the Bearfoot Hookers to the millions of other Americans who are pouring money, blood and effort into the relief effort and who are being part of the solution. I love to see so many are ignoring the pundits and the blame game and are instead working to fix the problem. If you've ever wanted to see what makes America kick ass, that would be it: the millions doing those little things without fanfare or curtian calls or press conferences to help complete strangers in times of need.

Looking Down

Hat tip to SciGuy, who links us to the Landsat Satellite views of New Orleans from above. The best part about this image is that I know my families' homes (and at least one restaurant) are probably still dry. What strikes fear in my heart is that the high ground is where all the human anarchy is happening.

St Simons Update
The news that the Governor was shutting down pumps across the state at 5pm almost triggered a panic at our gas stations. There are several down thisaway who have already run out of gasoline. Luckily, some of our more responsible citizens were able to activate phone trees or poker nights to keep people away from the pumps and tamp some reasonability down on top of the ugly head of madness that was beginning to rear. While folks were still going to the pumps late into the night (fearful of additional gas prices coming for Labor Day) the tension had simmered down. I guess all we had to do was realize that folks 700 miles to our west have it much, much worse.

Last year on the Island, Memorial Day was ruined by the G8 & Labor Day was ruined by last year's hurricanes. This year, Labor Day is screwed because of gasoline prices. The service industry on the island is not happy. Travel this weekend or in the near future, your vacation spots need the cash!

Ruby has left St Simons for Memphis. We will miss her, but we know she will feel better once she gets home.

And, for some more lighter hearted news, St Simons has our own online tabloid. It is very raunchy (and anyone who has heard my Mullet Bay stories knows I ain't lyin') while being funny. I will forward the link to any adults who wish to view it (email me for it) but I am hesitant to put an actual link to it on this site. I will have to view it more closely in the coming days to make that decision. (But Corwynsworld is on this site, so it's a good bet this one will go up soon.) It is called the St. Simons Tribune for you google searchers.