Thursday, August 31, 2006

When the Levees Broke

Bear with me here for a moment...

A lot has been made over documentaries in the last few years. From Moore to Spurlock to Gore, and the documentaries made in response to those documentaries, wonk culture seems to be all wrapped up in documentaries as propaganda.

I watched Bowling for Columbine, and was impressed by the focus on the very real study of the infection of fear into the American media. Then the Fat Beard threw all respect away when he pulled that childish stunt with Heston. I could barely watch the other one of his, and found it mainly worthless. On the other hand, Spurlocks's Super Size Me was nothing short of brilliant, IMHO.
I have not seen An Inconvenient Truth because I've already read Silent Spring, Our Stolen Future and I watched almost every National Geographic Explorer on Sunday nights from what feels like 1985 to 1992 (not to mention the wealth of NG magazines my father had on subscription).

I have now seen Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke three times on HBO. I was hesitant because of who made it, and the bad rap the aforementioned documentaries. But having seen it many times, I have to say that it is very well done.

I would write a defense for it, as many folks I have spoken to on the East Coast refuse to even watch 3 minutes of the film, writing off any value in the piece because of their views of the author. I would write a defense for it, but someone said it better than I ever could.

Oyster of Your Right Hand Thief:

Certainly the devastation in the ninth was the visual centerpiece of the film. However, there were clips of devastated Lakeview mansions as well. As a former Broadmoor resident, I didn't see many pictures from my old neighborhood, but I was too engrossed in the film to keep score. When a black Lower Ninth Warder was shown standing in the street by a pile of moldy debris... you know what? I was able to identify with that! Months ago, my belongings were also in a big pile in an empty, dusty street, and I had an uncertain, fatigued look in my eyes! That's not a "white" story or a "black" story-- it's a Katrina story. And shame on anyone who can't see that!...When I saw an African-American Broadmoor resident being interviewed in Lee's film, I felt like I was listening to a neighbor tell his story. It didn't occur to me that perhaps my neighbors pigmentation caused the flood to affect his house differently than mine.
Perhaps the critics are now the ones who have become hypersensitive? YRHT also mentions another sticking point the critics had with Lee:

Fourth: And as far as the "bombing the levees" conspiracy goes... I think the documentary's refutations were solid and explanatory, as were the extended follow-up shots showing the barge that caused the sounds which were interpreted as explosions. Perhaps this could've been refuted more decisively, but Lee presented a persistent myth: there are many who wrongly believe the levees were bombed during Katrina and Betsy. Obviously Lee doesn't subscribe to this view, because he named the film "When the Levees Broke", not "When the Levees were bombed".

But still the critiques wouldn't stop, and neither would Oyster. I loved reading these.

Y'all, you may not agree with every opinion proferred within the interviews of When the Levees Broke, but there are a lot of different stories that are told. It is a difficult film to watch, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch it. No single interview negates the power of the whole: the news footage, the images, the personal testimonies and tragedies, the music, and the stories of what happened when everything went wrong.


Appeasement Update

UPDATE: 12.01am 08/31/06 Much more on 'appeasement' over at Coastal Empire.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Appeasement?

appeasement noun 2. The policy of granting concessions to one's enemies to maintain peace.

diplomacy noun 1. The art or practice of conducting international relations, as in negotiating alliances, treaties and agreements. 2. Tact and skill in dealing with people.

armistice noun A temporary cessasion of fighting by mutual consent; a truce.

ceasefire noun 2. Suspension of hostile activities; a truce.
So, the big guy thinks that people who criticize the Administration are trying to appease the terrorists? Sorry, Beavis, we're criticizing you and your boss because y'all can't seem to git 'er done.

We'd be appeasers if we didn't question the handling of our foreign policy by these knuckleheads. I am so sick of being called unpatriotic, 'hate-America-first,' a terrorist sympathizer, a traitor, and an appeaser by the 'people in charge' who can't seem to be able to win this war with the greatest military machine, the best technology, the most dynamic economy, and the most dedicated law enforcement personnel in world history. But go ahead, guys, keep that kind of rhetoric up. Calling middle America names sure seemed to work out real well for the old liberal elite.

Oh, I forgot: these neocon eggheads who are so much smarter than the rest of us are just talking the talk. If the menace is what you say it is, Rumsfeld, where is our declaration of war? Where is the reinstatement of the draft? Where is the call for 30 million young Americans to report directly and fold into basic? Where is the gasoline rationing? Where is the order for Detroit and Marietta and Long Beach to start turning out the thousands of tanks, planes and ships we're gonna need to fight this 'new fascism' you and your smarty pants buddies have only discovered in the last 5 years? Where is it?

They aren't anywhere, and that what makes me think you're blowing smoke. That's what makes me think you're full of crap. That's what makes me think that you don't even believe the junk you're selling. You guys are being the flip floppers now: "we're at war for our basic survival & our freedoms, and everything we hold dear!! But we're going to go to war with the Army we have, please keep shopping."

That's why your Administration's anemic foreign policy is under criticism. Sorry you tough guys have such thin skin you can't take the heat.

It is put up or shut up time.

I don't think you can win wars on the cheap. I don't think you can win wars without suffering and civilian casualties. I don't think you can win wars without real strategy. With war, you and your allies are either all in, or you and your allies attempt to negotiate with your adversaries through diplomacy.

That's not appeasement, that's effective, that's realpolitik, that's called a real foreign policy.

Plamegate flameout...

Stealing from Slate today, but it's a solid read, on the pitiful end of 'Plamegate'.

Folks, this story was ridiculous when it started, and it has continued to grow to more outrageous proportions every day. What really piqued my interest in the article, was the fact that this whole thing was apparrently trumped up by State Department folks who were unhappy with the Iraq policy, in an attempt to bring down , or at the very least smear wholeheartedly, the Presidency.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Answer to That Question...

A few days ago, we were examining the Robin Hood politics of both Hezbollah and Moqtada al-Sadr. I wondered aloud if al-Sadr, as the leader of an organization that has members in the Iraqi Parliament, is on our side. Guess the answer to that question just got a little easier, as American and Iraqi forces battled the Mahdi army again this weekend.

Some more 'not good news' on that 'winning hearts and minds' thing was the report that Ayatollah Sistani, the aged Shiite cleric whose strong voice has been something of a moderating influence on Iraqis, is losing influence among the people.

For months, calming statements from the ayatollah held Shiites back from retaliating for killings by Sunni insurgents. But three years of insurgency, sectarian tensions and miserable living conditions have shrunk the space for temperance and given extremists plenty of room to operate.
That ain't good for us.

And while all of that is going on, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah is trying to mend fences by saying he never would have ordered the capture of Israeli soldiers if he knew that's what Israel's response would be. I guess what they say about hindsight is true, hunh? Maybe Mama was right when she learned you to think before acting?

While some folks will make meat of that being a ringing endorsement of disproportonate response, I think it lends itself to just how controversial of a figure he really is to the Lebanese who bore the brunt of this lunacy. (And how the government of Lebanon can still make a better case for the people's loyalty.) All that damage to Lebanon? Your fault, bubba. All that rebuilding money is reparations to your own countrymen for your mistake.

In light of all this, I'm still praying that the center will hold, and the ceasefire will succeed.

Baby Gap (2)

So, a week after reading about it in the blogosphere, the MSM has now taken up the Baby Gap debate, and the subject grabs the cover of Newsweek.

Lifetime childlessness in western Germany has hit 30 percent among university-educated women, and is rapidly rising among lower-class men. In Britain, the number of women remaining childless has doubled in 20 years. In Japan, where the birthrate stands at a dismal 1.25 per woman, a record 56 percent of 30-year-old women are still childless, up from 24 percent in 1985.
While the jury is still out on exactly why this is happening, there seems to be a strong correlation with higher education and empoyment for women. I reckon that can be one of the answers to last week's big debate on HR: the baby gap between blue states and red states isn't caused by ideology near as much as it is caused by education and economy. (it's the economy, smarty pants!)

Most conservatives I know who have kids generally waited till they were done with at least an undergraduate degree (sometimes a Master's) and had a jobby job.

Primary and secondary education is also generally better across the 'blue states' than the 'red states,' and that allows people to end up in college at higher percentages. People in college generally put off having kids till after college.

With the economy warmer in the 'red states' than the 'blue states,' however, a lot of these recent grads may be moving to Southern states for economic reasons, and having their children there - bumping artificially the numbers for the red/blue baby gap.

I'm not willing to rule out ideology as a tertiary factor, but cultural factors also contribute more directly: the cultural pressure on folks, especially in the deep South, is to get married and have babies as soon as you're able. That permeates despite Southern Liberalism or Southern Conservatism. If you hit 30 and you don't have rugrats, total strangers begin to tell you that you need to get your rear end in the bedroom and get to work. I am dead serious. If your excuse is that "I got no partner for this partikkular crime," busybodies will often have a ready made list of 18-32 year olds & phone numbers (& sometmes pictures) that you "need to meet" in order to get you 'back on track,' and actual compatability matters much less than you might think.

These conversations are very odd to have, let me tell you.

But even wierder conversations than that (and ones relating to this thread in a tangential manner) are the ones where folks tell men to fear women who have jobs and educations. (Since that's the kind of lady I'm attracted to, I feel as if I've entered some parallel universe when these partikkular conversations kick up from strangers...) What's weirder than that? reading the 'fear women with money and brains' line in Forbes Magazine.

Culture war, continuing...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wish I Was There



By all accounts, The Rising Tide conference was an absolutely successful event.

(There was apparently some to-do over a city councilwoman/panelist having a meltdown moment against Mitch Landrieu & family, and that gets a lot of ink, but that's just what happens to tantrum throwers. The NOLA bloggers explain it better than I can.)

One thing that really strikes me about the organization of this conference is how citizen media, politics and civic involvment all came together. I also wonder how many of the NOLA bloggers knew each other offline this time last year. Maybe its just me, but I think that's something pretty big.

Congratulations to the NOLA folks who organzied things and made the conference happen. The only way to build better communities and have better governments is by regular folks involving themselves in civic actions, and I think this is a great step in that direction. I only wish I could have been there, too.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Five: Ernesto




Gentilly Girl alerts me to this one, and has the quote of the day to go along with it.

Update: 9:34pm EDT Sunday Path has changed radically. My home is located roughly at 3:15 Thursday on the map. Hopefully, this one will blow itself out of the potential for any serious damage.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Robin Hood Politics (2)

Hezbollah sets about the task of rebuliding Lebanon.

Already, Hizbullah has spearheaded the reconstruction efforts in the bombed-out Shiite areas of south Beirut. Huge cranes and jackhammers clear mangled concrete from roadways. Volunteers with red T shirts and hats that read VICTORY FROM GOD sweep away rubble in residential areas. At one intersection, a volunteer poured buckets of shattered glass out of the second story window of a shop called Yukon. Many crushed buildings in the neighborhood have been marked with a banner made from plastic sheeting. The banner notes which regional office the owner should go to for compensation, the opening hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and is signed: HIZBULLAH.
This is not good news for the West. I'm all about helping rebuild Lebanon (and Israel, for that matter), but allowing Hezbollah to take all the credit is going to undermine everything we are trying to achieve.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr's group is doing similar things in Iraq.

While opposition to the U.S. military presence in Iraq remains one of its core tenets, the Sadr movement's militia, called the Mahdi Army, took heavy casualties in two military uprisings against better-armed, better-trained U.S. forces in 2004. Today, according to Sadr leaders and outside analysts, the movement is husbanding its strength and waiting for American troops to go.
...
The movement is highly structured, largely along the lines of the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, building for its followers a state within a state while also acquiring a share of power in Iraq's formal government. Sadr, like Hezbollah, built popularity in part by providing social services such as health care. Because he controls the Health Ministry, and with it the hospitals and clinics of Iraq, his followers bear their children in public hospitals decorated with posters of the young cleric. They go to their graves washed by workers of a Sadr charity at a sprawling Shiite cemetery in Najaf, at a cost of 5,000 dinars, about $3.40, one-fifteenth of what grieving families outside Sadr's network pay. Sadr also sponsors the God's Martyr Foundation, which supports veterans and the families of fighters who are killed.
Why in the world weren't we able to get this guy on our side? Or, since he has some of the ministries, and they are part of the government we hope gets its act together, is he already on our side?

Now his people lay low and focus on services instead of direct engagement of US forces (and I'll never complain about that), but there is that very sinister sounding 'lie and wait' strategy. Does this mean there is a plan to unleash chaos once we leave, or are they planning on taking over the country by doing things better than the other groups? Or does this verify our need to keep troops in Iraq for the next 20 - 30 years, hoping they'll 'lay low' that long, and continue to work on infrastructure?

We've got the wolf by the ears with these two. On the one hand, they are more efficiently building the infrastructure needed for society and commerce, and are doing so while taking part in Parliamentary governments of nations we desperately need to start standing on their own. On the other hand, one's a terrorist group and the other ain't too far from one. The third layer is that we absolutely know that both groups are being bankrolled by Iran (who's making all their money selling oil to the West).

One thing this does seem to demonstrate, however, is a Shiite desire to build hospitals, schools and infrastructure. Apocalyptic suicide cultures generally don't worry about such things, so I think that's a good sign. On the other-other hand, we don't have a very good relationship with Iran, and have pretty much voted them "Most Likely to Be Involved with WWIII."

This leaves us with a haunting spectre: Iran may not need a nuclear weapon to gain hegemony in the Middle East. They may be able to buy it with money the West spends on oil, coupled with an efficiency-in-government that our allies can't seem to produce.

Welcome to Obvioustown, Rudy...

Thanks for filling us in on this gem. No, you still don't need to run. We'll do fine without you. But is it really newsworthy to say that the GOP wants Hillary Clinton to run, and win the Dem nomination in '08? I don't think so.

There's really no one else who can, and will, galvanize the GOP voting base, as well as the non-loony left, into mounting a full-scale assault against letting Hillary Clinton get elected.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One Year Ago (2)

Morwen wasn't blogging, she was 8 hours away in Houston, watching her city drown on a hotel computer.

Dangerblond reminds us that exactly one year ago today, Tropical Depression 12 formed over the Bahamas, and over her seven day life, Katrina would leave a mark on us that will not be forgotten in our lifetimes.

The Baby Gap

OK, I've known this was coming for a few years. I've seen a lot of it myself, and when you're constantly percieving and observing the world around you, things like this you tend to notice.

I've spoken with some friends of mine about this, under the heading "If 'W' stickers and Grateful Dead Bears are starting to adorn the same bumper stickers, we [liberals] might be in trouble." SAWB should be able to vouch for me on this one.

I was hoping that if I didn't say anything, it would just go away. It is a complex (and probably controversial) issue about which so many jokes can rightfully be made we may never actually be able to talk about seriously due to the tongue in cheek nature of the beast.

But last week I read about it on the Misguided Blonde. Again, I didn't want to say anything.

This week, DADvocate announces: "Liberals Destined to Die Off!"

SOOOO, now that my fertility has been questioned by more than one blogger I read daily, I feel the need to bring this up on the HR. What is the story, folks? Are these cats right, and liberals are going the way of the dinosaur - or are conservatives working hard to breed themselves out of the majority? Or, are we witnessing the birth of an incredibly socially liberal, fiscally conservative, libertarian generation who, once they come into their own, will reshape American politics forever? Or, is this just an overblown observation that doesn't mean anything?

Meet Debby


This makes four.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Year Ago

I was going to write a lot about this, but the words fail me.

One year ago, a New Orleans blogger was writing about sailboat races. One year ago, I was blogging about college football mascots.

This link is where a man in New Orleans started blogging Katrina. Go to that link, read it. Then click here. It is the GulfSails archive for August, 2005. Scroll fast all the way to the bottom, and then roll slowly back to the top.

American history unfolding.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Are We Ready?

Are we, punk? Right now Scotland Yard is looking like the varsity squad, while the FBI may be experiencing some equipment issues.

That link really set me off.

During the Katrina Week that is upon us, so that we remember what happens when all levels of government wash their hands and say "it ain't my job" until and after the poo hits the fan, this link is just more of the same. What's wrong with this country today isn't ideology, what's wrong is competency, and no one currently in charge seems willing to step in and move some of this modernization along.

Edit: 10:31am -The Alter link did set me off, but that was more of an op ed piece that linked to this extensive article by the Washington Post. That was the one that really set me off.

Speaking of Apocalypse Day...

...does just talking about a thing make it more likely to happen? If so, I'm going to be in real trouble tomorrow afternoon, but I'm sure we can find a barbecue sauce that complements radioactive crow.

Anyway, I was reading Altercation today, and he brings up the Democratic 'Doomsday Scenario' in Connecticut: Lieberman wins (Republicans + Independents + 4/9 of Connecticut Democrats) his Senate seat in November, and then gets picked by the President to be the Secretary of Defense when Rummy gets the boot. Because the Senate seat is vacated, the Republican Governor of Connecticut (???) gets to appoint someone to serve it out.

Not sayin' it wouldn't have happened anyway, even without Ned....

But as I was reading Altercation, he linked to this very provacative (controversial) article: Is Israel Good for the Jews?

What Passes for Dialouge

With the Apocalypse kicking off tomorrow and everything, I figured you cats can take it easy at work, and will be clicking around for some good reading material.

Your Right Hand Thief has decided to create his own dialouge concerning how we fight the War on Terror. How predictable has the national discourse become when someone can nail it like this?

Samba & Sin

So, some lucky schmo at Slate got to venture to Rio de Janiero and 'report' on the lifestyles of the city. I won't hide it, that's my envy comin' out.

Whisper the country's name and, after soccer, sex is the next association. If you don't believe me, just tell your girlfriend that you are traveling to Rio for an assignment and then try to explain why it's best that you go alone.
Heh heh. I've dated some young women who would havt kilt me dedd for offering up this sacrificial lamb of an excuse. "But, sweetheart, its the job."

I mean, let's face it, if women can go to Paris and Rome for 'cultural visits', (and we all know it is for the dark, mysterious strangers rather than the art....) men can have Las Vegas and Rio de Janiero. Yes, that is in addition to College Football Saturdays - sorry ladies.

That's why "investigative reports on sex in Brazil" no matter how professionally done, will always run the risk of risque, and leave more to be desired by the reader. No matter how many hookers opine to you about politics:
she launched into a diatribe in a mixture of Portuguese and pidgin English. I couldn't follow everything she was saying, but I distinctly heard the words "Bush" and "Iraq." Forget the Zogby polls; this is how far we have fallen in the eyes of the rest of the world—even a Brazilian working girl feels the need to lecture a potential American john.
No anecdotes can make up for the single most important fact:

The author was there to see Rio, to walk in Rio, to dance in Rio - and the reader was not. All we have on such dreary Mondays in the rat race are the words of some New York reporter, our morning cups of coffee, and our imaginations drifting out of the office window.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Robin Hood Politics

I wanted to give it a few days before I wrote anything real about the ceasefire in Southern Lebanon, and even now I'm knocking on wood hoping not to jinx anything. But it has been a week, and things are looking like they may hold, and regardless anyone's opinions about the UN, this is a good thing.

Now we have a chance for everyone to step back and address the situation with cooler heads. But we (the West) cannot afford more inaction - the kind of inaction that followed last year's Cedar Revolution - where now that everything has cooled off, we pretend everything's OK.

If we're not stepping up, others will. As we speak, Hezbollah activists are busy trying to win more hearts and minds to their cause by spearheading the rebuilding efforts.

This reminds me of several things. First of all, this is very much like the 'faith based organizations' doing things government can't or won't. When a government cannot provide essential services to the people, other organizations will step in, and then support for government erodes. (The converse: When a government can provide those services, those organizations loose support to the government.) This is a microcosm of a serious social issue that we face in the war on terror. When terrorist organizations are the ones rebuilding hospitals, schools and roads because their governments can't, we have a serious problem. Because then, when we attack terrorist organizations and infrastructure, we end up attacking people who are building roads, schools and hospitals.

The terrorists are kicking our ass when it comes to Robin Hood Politics.

Second of all, and this goes back to the WWIII thread, almost every tyrant has been able to rise to power by - at the onset - doing things better than the government they replaced. Hitler came to power by merging efficiency in government with hate. He replaced the anemic Wiemar Republic. Castro came to power by promising economic prosperity to a Cuban people oppressed by the Batista government. Khomeini came to power by hijacking a democratic revolution against the Shah. The Reds overthrew the Tsars because -really- who could imagine a government worse than the Tsars?

Simply put, we need to make sure our allies in the Middle East are also winning the 'competency in government' war to take some of the air out of this uprising we face. Because, in addition to hating us for our 'freedoms' and 'liberty,' there are more local pressures they are fighting against.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Book of Numbers (con't)

I've read more of the Bible since David Plotz started Blogging the Good Book than I ever did as a kid going to Mass every Sunday. I don't quite know what that says about my Generation X, Nintendo cultured rear end, but I'm sure the Big Guy isn't gonna mind too much, long as the work gets done.

I mean, having grown up in the land of literal-interpretation-obnoxiousness and influenced by the inevitable backlash of iconoclastic-religion-haters, I realize that I ought to have tuned both out for a while and did the research myself. It wasn't as if I was hurtin' for access to the source material, after all. Had I done that, I might not have had such a crisis of faith through high school and college.

To find out that Seperation of Church and State is an Old Testament, fire-and-brimsone God design, just dropped my jaw to the floor.

After his look-see at the Promised Land, God has Moses pass on his authority to his successors. Moses divides his powers. Moses lays hands on Eleazar, son of Aaron, and invests him with priestly authority—authority that Eleazar, in turn, will pass on to his descendants. Moses also lays hands on Joshua, a self-made man, and invests him with the power to govern the Israelites—a power that does not appear to be hereditary.
But upon further reading of the passage in the Bible I have, this distinction appears quite nuanced. Though there is no question Joshua is going to be the man in charge, the priest Eleazar is to be consulted so that the priests (in the presence of the Lord) can weigh in on those decisions (Numbers 27: 18-21). I guess that's just a divine implementation of cheques and balances, so that the Priests can never become a true aristocracy and the Kings can't lead the people away from God.

After all of that, so no one can be accused of being too bleeding hearty, the Israelites sally forth to exterminate the Midianites, and in Numbers 31: 13-17, it is Moses and Eleazar (the Priestly class) who order the slaughter of women and chidren captured by that war (who had originally been spared by the army). Reckon there's a lesson to be had there, too.

Rising Tide Conference



In an overwhelming display of community and do-it-yourself-ness, the NOLA bloggers have put it together. These cats have done a great job making something happen out of an idea, and are dedicated to making their city a better place. They could write a book on 'how to step up to the plate.'

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Traveling

Y'all, any of you who have ever had to visit the concrete riot that is the City of Atlanta, or have friends and family who have, need to go and read this article from EDSBS. It is a sports blog, but the description of Big Peach City is one of the best pieces of travel literature I've seen.

I cannot believe a Gator fan wrote it.

Support Southern Labor?

Peach Pundit doesn't.

According to Erick over at Peach Pundit, working hard and expecting to be paid for it is a bad thing.

Way to support Southern Labor, dude! I guess Peach Pundit is OK with us Southern folk getting Northern table scraps.

When did conservative ideology be the "take what they give you, and like it" philosophy? I thought they were all about people not settling for second best. Guess I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Welcome Misguided Blonde Readers!

I've added a new blonde to the blogroll. Since I don't know any other Michigan or Midwest bloggers, she gets her own section over to the right. Anybody got a fun nickname for 'Midwesterner?'

Labor Fight in the Coastal Empire

So, if anyone has been reading Georgia Politics Unfiltered recently, you'd know that Hugo Boss is having a problem paying its Georgia employees what they're worth. Then, after breaking down some numbers we realized that this company with profits approaching $120 million and whose stock is up 30% in the past year, must not think Southern labor is as valuable as Northern labor.

When we talk about an honest day's wage, this is what we're talking about.

So, tomorrow in Savannah there will be a rally in support of the company's workers, and I hope this moves wages and pension negotiations along. Reverend Jim Nelson our future Democratic Congressman, will be speaking at the rally, and had this to say about the situation:
The American Dream is not to work hard, productive hours for low wages and poor benefits. I call for executives at Hugo Boss to do what’s morally right; agree to a fair contract with a livable wage and pension plan.
I'll be proud to have a Congressional representative like Rev. Nelson who supports the value of Southern wages.

Lamont's WSJ Article (sadly it's Ned Lamont, not Lamont Sanford)

Ned Lamont, Democratic Senatorial candidate from Connecticut, has written a pretty good oped piece for the Wall Street Journal. Given the audience, this could just be pandering but with pandering like this, he may win the seat after all. I must admit that just based on this oped I could see myself throwing a vote his way. There's a lot of pro-Libermann stuff getting posted here. I just thought I'd give Lamont a voice. The big dummy head...






Ned LamontLamont Sanford

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Civility Wars

On the topic of innocuous and annoying problems, primarily the breakdown of American etiquette and manners, I turn your attention again to the seething discontent over the behavior of American children, and how some American adults are saying: enough!

I know we've gone over it before, but that was a while back. The fact that the article is out again in the same year tells me that there are deeper factors here, and we are starting to face one of those things that may go hand in hand with the AlieNation factor I wrote about earlier this week.

From the article:
"Charlton, who doesn’t have children but describes herself as an adoring godmother of two, says too many parents act as if the earth revolves around their children, and the general public should treat them as such. Yet kids are more out of control than ever, she says.

Is it true? Are children these days allowed to run amok like never before? Has public etiquette gone to hell in a hand basket or — er — a Dora The Explorer backpack? Or is society simply becoming more intolerant of little tikes?
You can vote for yourselves.

I don't think society is becoming more intolerant of little tykes, I think society is becoming more intolerant of irresponsible parents. I have many good friends with small children, family with small children, and I have driven from Florida to Colorado with some friends who had a 16 month old. These kids are all a joy to be around, but -much like their parents- they tend to behave very well in appropriate company. Their parents set a good example, is what I'm saying; playtime is playtime, dinner at a restaurant is dinner at a restaurant. Strange that when the parents know the difference, the kids know the difference.

And I can tell you that when I see an adult who acts like this:
Besides, kids aren't the only ones misbehaving, says Wasmund. "I see more adults behaving badly in public than children,” she says, noting they leave messes around the tables at bookstores, they speak too loudly on their cell phones and they’re more likely than children to be pushy and rude.
no one bets against my gamblin' boat money that derre kids are going to be unholy terrors, too.

Directing Traffic

Two real good reads over at Georgia Politics Unfiltered today, as Andre explains both his distate for anti-war protests (which I share), and his belief that Southern labor is just as valuable as Northern labor (which I also share).

As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think of Andre Walker as one of the finest examples of a Southern Democrat we have. Whenever you want to know what makes Georgia & Southern Democrats different from our Northern and Western Cousins, his site is one of the first places you should look first.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Crisis at the North Avenue Trade School

Well folks,
In case you're not up on current events, the fans of the Joke near Coke (all 4 of them) have a real crisis situation on their hands. Paul Westerdawg of the GeorgiaSportsBlog has the coverage.

Orson Swindle, of what may well be the greatest blog in all of bloggery, even if it is a UF blog, has another angle.

So, what say you, gentle reader? What would you do, were you one of the fashionable four Tech fans in this quandry?

p.s. - I know this is sports related, but, it's also the most amusing thing i've seen in weeks.
p.p.s. - Don't worry, L&P, we'll have full coverage of the Fulmer Cup awards ceremony real soon...

Tonight's Debate: World War III

Let me start this off by saying that I'm one of the folks who does not believe we are currently at WWIII just yet. I fervently believe that, though we might be close to the ledge, and those ill winds are blowin' hard, we have yet to take that final step into the abyss. We can come back from this, and our reaction as the sole-Superpower puts a lot of onus on us.

The lights are flickering, is what I'm sayin', but they ain't gone off yet. That don't mean we shouldn't start talking about how to keep 'em on, and what to do if the power goes out. (Ten points for the first commentator who gets the refrence.)

So let us begin with the linky goodness. Though conversations about the war, and the war on terror, have been moving to this very subject for some time (I'm not going back to re-link every durn thing we've said about it at HR), G-Newt really brought it to national attention when he started saying it on TV. But, I didn't take much of that very seriously until the triple decker of policy debates following the Lamont win in Connecticut, the strange analysis of the London Roundup, and the long awaited ceasefire.

Primed on such discussion, DADvocate was good enough to direct my traffic to The Misguided Blonde, who has taken the WWIII talk to heart, and started some very serious media & blog checks on the subject here, here, and here. (In chronological order)

The roundup she has created (is creating?) is a good place to start up with the WWIII discussion in earnest. As I said before, I think WWIII talk isn't premature. The 'Doomsday Clock' should be set right now at 3 minutes to midnight (IMHO), having just come back from 2 minutes (with respect to the weekend's Ceasefire & the Apprehension), and we would do very well to look at this seriously and figure out a way to turn back time, or to figure out how we're going to need to respond once midnight comes and goes, and all the lights are off again.

How Afraid Should You Be?

I don't really like the title of the link, but the body of the text is a very important read. The study refrenced in the article is even more important.

The bottom line is, terrorism doesn't kill many people. Even in Israel, you're four times more likely to die in a car wreck than as a result of a terrorist attack. In the USA, you need to be more worried about lightning strikes than terrorism. The point of terrorism is to create terror, and by cynically convincing us that our very countries are at risk from terrorism, our politicians have delivered utter victory to the terrorists: we are terrified.
Hat tip to MSNBC's Clicked.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Talking Smack

That's correct, ladies and gentlemen, this is an appropriate response to the roundup of British terrorists. Glad to know some of us Americans aren't giving into fear.

Hat tip (and nice follow up) to: Firedoglake.

AlieNation

If 'the machines' took over, most folks would sign up to get plugged into the Matrix.

There's been a lot of reporting lately on how many Americans face lonliness, alienation and disconnect from others. I tend to believe this is true, because I've known some very insular people in my time. There are many innocuous symptoms to this disconnect: online dating services, an easily offended society, & obesity. There are, in my opinion, many devestating symptoms to this disconnect: broken homes, severe depression, role-model-less children, abandonment of the elderly, the breakdown of community and the rise of fear.

DADvocate spoke recently about the loss of tradition and I think that, too can be attibuted to this sort of thing.

It ain't easy havin' pals, and in our 'path of least resistance' society, it seems a lot of people just don't know how to deal with other people anymore.

I'm one of the lucky folks, in the fact that I have a verifiable (or certifiable, depending on who you ask) brigade of friends I trust absolutley with any secret or confidance, for whom my friendship is held in mutual esteem. My personal family & friends support structure isn't the norm, though, and I know this from folks I have interacted with at various places I worked and went to school.

But, over time, it has occured to me that there are a great many folks out there who are absolutely miserable with their lives, and this is having effects that we can't even imagine socially, politically, economically, environmentally and culturally.

There's no real easy or all-encompassing solution, but this is something worth discussing, in my opinion. Which is why I have linked to this article in 'Pointless Waste of Time'. It examines some of these things, and points out some ways the hyper-connectivity of the information superhighway is both enabling us to cut oursleves off from society and increasing the craziness out there through the echo-box effect. It is a long read, but it is soooo worth your time.

Take a look at it, won'tcha?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Go Home, Buzzards

This is less a post than a brief rant.

I'm sick and tired of people sticking their heads into elections taking place in jurisdictions in which they do not reside and have no interest. No interest, that is, other than the the cynical, depth-of-field possibilities come the biannual political football game known as Election Night.

I'm okay with commentary. I'm okay with coming to help out a friend when asked. I'm not cool with extra-jurisdictional fundraisers or people butting in and trying to affect elections for reasons other than which candidate will best represent the constituents of that jurisdiction.

Two glaring examples: Charles Shumer stabbing the Iraq veteran (Hackett?) in the back, killing his Senate run, and Bill Richardson calling on Joe Lieberman to bow out of the Connecticut Senate race. For those of you keeping score, Shumer and Richardson are from New York and New Mexico, respectively.

This "what's best for the party" crap is bad for America. Back in the day, a Georgia Democrat was different from a New York Democrat was different from a Missouri Democrat. Now, they're pretty all just blandly homogenized Democrats. And this phenomeon is not restricted to the Democratic party: the modern Republican mob mentality simply seems to mask the ill effects of this asininity more effectively.

What this does is make politics a heap more plain, paring down the stunningly broad landscape of American values and beliefs to a very boring selection between chocolate or vanilla. Because most people are okay with either chocolate or vanilla, so why should we have more options?

Because with what we got, we can't even make a nice neopolitan.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Open Thread

Lot of visitors in the past week, not many comments. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or maybe y'all just agree with everything I say. What's on y'all's minds?

Congratulations

Fellow Island City blogger, the very conservative Virgil aka Coastal Companion, celebrates two years of blogging. I may not agree with much he says (he is a Tech fan, after all), but the way he says it makes me laugh out loud. His stories about Island City livin' are nothing less than priceless, and the food's pretty good, too.

Here's to many more years in cyberspace for the ol' Redneck Curmudgeon.

The Last 12 Months in New Orleans

Or, a Lesson on Really Real Journalism

I was directed to this long but worthwhile read from Fortune Magazine. It is an exhaustive examination of the problems facing New Orleans, and indeed this nation, when it comes to rebuilding after a disaster. In the Post-9/11 World, America needs the ability to cut through obstacles better than this, and it isn't enough for government officials of any party or political class to pass the buck, throw up hands and say "this is not my job."

It may take a while to read, but this one is worth your time.

Your Right Hand Thief had this to say about the article:
Charles C. Mann writes the best, most accurate political overview of post-K New Orleans that I've seen. I'm not saying his piece is exhaustive or perfectly accurate, but it's very, very good. I think non-residents and attentive readers will find it invaluable.
And linking to the same article was Gentilly Girl.


Speaking of Classy...

...Jack Kingston said this to say about Democrats:

"Gee Whiz, isn't it a shame that their patriotism isn't as strong as their party loyalty?" I guess I forgot that in Jack's America, disagreement is unpatriotic. To have your own opinion is tantamount to treason. I guess the only way to really love America is to be a yes-person, never questioning our leaders.

In the same blurb, he blames the Democrats for the insurgency in Iraq. Sorry, Jack, Republicans currently control the White House, the Congress and the Department of Defense, and I think those individuals have a whole hell of a lot more to do with the management of the war than Democratic primary voters in Connecticut.

Jack, if winning the war is so important to you, where is the Republican Plan for winning? 'Cause the one y'all are using right now ain't doing so good.

You stay classy, Atlanta.

So I'm reading an article about the ensuing chaos at airports today in light of a recent attempted terrorist attack. "Air travelers were ordered to throw out their suntan lotion and shampoo and waited hours in ever lengthening lines Thursday as airports ratcheted up security and delayed flights in the wake of a terror plot discovery in Britain," it says. Really they didn't even have to throw out their lotions and shampoos. They just had to check them in with their baggage. They only had to throw these items out if they ignored the countless large signs telling them they couldn't carry these items aboard.

In Baltimore, folks were saying things like "better alive than dead" and "It's inconvenient, but we'll make it." In New York, some folks are checking in everything just in case. In Atlanta, we have folks remarking, "They're going to have to take it out. You want it out, you take it out," over contact lens solution. Thanks for risking an airport shutdown on the craziest day since 9/11/2001 because you don't want to wear your glasses. I know we haven't had one in a while but I have to nominate Ms. Brenda Lee of Snellville, GA as Jackass of the Month for the month of August.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rapture Postponed

Armageddon ran into logistical problems for the August 3rd Kickoff, has been rescheduled for outdoor venue. Redeem tickets for the August 22nd Show.

Roundup courtesy of Slate:

Apocalypse soon: Princeton professor and Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis argues in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that mutual assured destruction will not work with Iran, given the "apocalyptic worldview" of its leaders. Lewis suggests that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be planning a cataclysmic attack on Israel for Aug. 22, the day traditionally associated with Mohammed's "night flight" to heaven and back.

Former NSA electronics specialist Dan Sherman argues that Iran wouldn't have ordered Hezbollah to attack Israel without an "Ace up their sleeve": "Iran has nuclear capability NOW. Not later, but NOW. And they fully intend to use it, to usher in the 11th Iman."

Cairo-based journalist Issandr El Amrani at The Arabist upbraids Lewis for putting faith in failed models: "It really seems that while dealing with a complex and multi-dimensioned foreign policy issues, all the neo-cons want to do is what they did with Iraq: clutch at straws, invent bogeymen and fabricate lies. That Bernard Lewis, a man still appreciated even by his political enemies as a scholar of some note, has sunk to scare-mongering in lieu of policy advocacy is sad and scary."

ChicagoRay thinks pre-emption deserves another chance: "[I]f you think a snake is about to bite you and you are afforded the opportunity to shovel slam its ass, you don't ignorantly wait for the local swami snake charmer to show up by accident and hope he has his magic flute with him to subdue the creature
peacefully."

Political blogger and Bob Dylan fan Right Wing Bob sees a foreboding sign in the impending release of the new Bob Dylan album, Modern Times. Dylan's last, Love and Theft, came out on Sept. 11, 2001.

Read more on Bernard Lewis' WSJ article.
The mood on the Iranian Street? "Let's all get tattoos!!" I'd bet a Rock n' Roll centered foreign policy might get us out of the perpetual state of war the neo-cons seem more interested in. I'd bet it'd be awful cheap too, if we deployed the Ipods.

Fellas, we survived a nuclear Stalin & a nuclear Mao, and as a track record, MAD is still kickin' "Pre-emptive"s ass at this point.

Fixing Things

How to rebuild Louisiana's coast? Mud Mining. Some folks are already gettin' 'er done. (But the state government is still 'studying' the various plans.) Prepare for new "Dirty Jobs" episode on Discovery Channel....

Next stop: the New Orleans schools.
Understanding who runs each school almost requires a scorecard: A handful remain under the authority of the troubled Orleans Parish School Board. The board has voluntarily allowed some schools to be run as charter schools, which receive public money but operate independently. And it has been relieved of authority over more than 100 schools by the state Department of Education, which is running some of them itself and chartering others.

The various schools and governing entities also mean a variety of registration and starting dates — a source of confusion for parents.

There are no geographic requirements in the revamped system. Any student, living anywhere in the city, can register for any school on a first-come, first-served basis or by lottery, placing schools in competition for students and state funding, which is based on attendance.
I guess there is something to be said for the 'try everything at once' plan, but this kinda makes my head hurt.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You're Lost in the Woods

Who do you ask for directions: The the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, the Tooth Fairy, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the in-tune bass player or the out-of-tune bass player?

You ask the out-of-tune bass player, all the others are Figments of Your Imagination.

Other Important News I Saw Tonight for the First Time

Montana Senator's nephew, a Marine, is killed in Anbar Province in Iraq. My age. Married last August. I will thank the Lord God above when this is over.


also: 11 Egyptian student visa holders have failed to show up at school. Though on the news, a spokesperson said they are not considered a threat, the FBI is looking for them. Mental note: that's one thing that works. Six years ago, we'd have never known. We'd have never known.

Statewide

Martin appears to have dominated Hecht for Democratic Lt. Governor by a three touchdown lead. Democratic Secretary of State: Buckner and Hicks is a closer race, 54-46. Republicans picked Handel over Stephens for Secretary of State, and Stephens has conceded. Ag. commissioner for Republicans appears to be Gary Black with a 60-40 win.

Watching the News: Tuesday Night

Well, Sen. Joe Lieberman has conceded the Connecticut Democratic Primary for US Senate to Ned Lamont. What really makes me angry is that I was watching both MSNBC and CNN (as well as Rescue Me) all night, and only Fox News appeared to be carrying the concession speech live. Then Fox News broadcast the Lamont victory speech, where some obnoxious cameraman kept his camera in front of Lamont's face. Lamont appeared onstage alongside Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, and turned the speech into an effective anti-war rally on national television.

Lieberman promised to run as an independent, so the election in November will be the Democrats vs the Democrats + Independents (Connecticut's largest Pary) + centrist Republicans vs Republicans. Which prompts me to ask, if Lieberman wins as an Independent, will he ever run as a Democrat again? Third Party comments should attribute to this thread.

Gonna be a rough election year, is what I'm sayin'.

Meanwhile, the Devil went down to Georgia and screwed up District 4 vote counting machines, but it only seemed to delay the inevitable, as Cynthia McKinney got blown out of the water by Hank Johnson. No concession speech reported at this time, though I'm quite ready to hear first thing tomorrow that McKinney is suing someone to get the results overturned.

All this, and I'm still looking for the Statewide elections, to see who won the runoffs for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State.

Watch This

Senator Lieberman's campaign website, and all emails attached to the domain name, have been down for 24 hours. Could it be an attack by his opponent's supporters? We'll have to wait and see, but this could make this one race even more interesting.

Read More Here.

Just In Case

I'd just like to get waay out in front of this one. Nine Illegals were killed around Yuma, Arizona when their Suburban, packed with twenty-two people, crashed while attempting to evade agents of the United States Border Patrol.

This is a tragedy. More people may die from injuries. I do not blame the Border Patrol for what happened. It is their job to apprehend and detain these individuals, and these individuals took their own lives in their own hands as anyone does while breaking the law and then attempting to evade capture.

I know a few Border Patrol agents, and I'd reckon that more than a few agents out there, doing their best in the desert to enforce our laws, will endure a few more sleepless nights over this one. That is to say nothing of the families of the dead.

Tradgedies like this are the result of inconsistencies on the part of American law, the inconsistencies on American enforcement (not prosecuting businesses that hire illegally) and nothing short of that. The Border Patrol can only do so much; this is another example of the legislature and executive branches (still) not doing their damn jobs. Tradgedies like this will continue to happen until we get a real immigration policy for this country and real penalties for businesses who hire outside of the law.

Rejecting Jackassery

Don't forget to vote today. I was voter # 22 at my precinct, and probably the onliest Democrat up that early. I was the only voter in the room when I showed up, and it took me literally two seconds to vote. It was like one of those high school tests that's so easy you spend more time thinking you missed something than you do actually answering the questions. I was looking for the extra page of questions... Ever have that?

Anyway, an Island City Democrat only has two things to vote for today, Secretary of State (I voted for Darryl Hicks) and Lt. Governor (I voted for Jim Martin). Now I get to stay at work, and watch the news all day waiting for news that voters in Atlanta and Connecticut have rejected jackassery.

Speaking of jackassery, I have two more items on that particular topic:

1. What do you do if you are a respected international news agency, and you find out that your freelancers are doctoring photos of a war zone (badly, I might add)? You fire them, and then release this information to everyone so no one else will hire his lying ass either. Reject Jackassery.

2. I hope this attitude prevails until November, and for as long as we need. It is the rising tide of rejecting incumbency - which is like jackassery, but different. We deserve better from our government, and this year is a pointed reminder of that fact.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Clam Chowder

We've already discussed that crabcakes must be bad for politics, if the Maryland Senate race is any indicator.

But now we must turn our attention even further north, and I wonder what is in the Clam Chowder this summer making it so hard on incumbents in New England. Not that I mind things being bad for incumbents, but I want incumbents to loose to better candidates, not ones beholden to the fringes. Take for instance, the Lieberman dust up, getting really gruesome the closer we get to tomorrow, with one pro-Lamont blogger going so far as to depict Lieberman in blackface. Now, I'm not a Connecticut primary voter, but I can say with all sincerity that I think the opposition here is focusing far more attention on lowest-common-denominator politics rather than issues.

A few feet away in Rhode Island, we have an equally interesting dust up, though not nearly as important as the Lieberman/Lamont lacrosse brawl. In the Rhode Island neighborhood scuffle, "Liberal" Republican Senator Chafee is facing a challenge from another Republican. Strangely, the challenger is a blue collar, Kennedy inspired Reaganite with the unfortunate name "Laffey." But his campaign seems almost tongue in cheek, with such plans as Fiscal Sanity aka the Bridge to Somewhere which is something I'm glad to hear someone running for Senate talking about.

Priorities

America is a nation of great engineers and even greater monuments to progress. We are the creators of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. This has been our legacy through the ages from the first shovels of dirt from what would be the Erie Canal, the spikes and crossties of the Trans-Continental Railroad, every ton of earth moved to bridge Central America with the Panama Canal, and every pound of concrete poured into the Eisenhower Interstate System.

All these projects were expensive, all of them when taken alone, benefited only small sections of the population at their onset. But overall, these projects proved far more worthwhile to America than just the dollars and cents, the concrete and dirt. It was all a matter of priorities. Say what you want about government being too big, the power of America as a whole to focus resources is a sight to behold.

Those are the reasons that it is not only necessary, but right, to make restoring the Mississippi River Delta a national priority. Those are the reasons that it is not only necessary, but right, to make the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast a continuing national priority. Third Battle of New Orleans calls doing so simple, yet complicated. What worthwhile undertakings aren't? But with good reasons for doing so, our priorities in the right place, and one hell of a payment plan, it can be done. It should be done. We do not give up American cities to earthquakes and fire, we do not abandon Florida and the Carolinas when hurricanes do their damage there. We should not give up on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is all a matter of priorities.


Evolutionary Specializations

Yikes.

This information certainly isn't new information, but the scientific study of is news to me.

Kanazawa has done previous research suggesting that nurses, social workers and kindergarten teachers—those with “empathic” traits—also had more daughters than sons. Meanwhile, he found that scientists, mathematicians and engineers are more likely to have sons than daughters.

It is good that Kanazawa is only a researcher and not, say, the president of Harvard. If he were, that last finding about scientists may have gotten him fired.
True 'nuff.

But what this means is that we must all now think of our friends and family, those people we know best, and unscientifically extrapolate where we came from on this new evolutionary ladder.

I am Jack's unparalleled worry...

Quick Timeline of Internet History

The best entry? This'n:
Feb 2004

5 Feb

Janet Jackson's breast becomes the most searched for image in web history.


Good thing too, otherwise the world might have missed it. I was at a Superbowl Party that night eating T-Bone steak with perhaps 150 other denziens of Island City fame. We were in a huge room with a projection screen and six other TVs. You know how many people there say the 'wardrobe malfunction' live?

Not. A. One.

Steak was real good, is what I'm sayin'.

We had to depend on the Internet to later....ummmm....verify the truth of the news reports. They can be so biased, after all...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Crazy People Open Thread

Welcome to yet another Monday. That means we're going open up the "Crazy People" thread for your venting pleasure. I come to this idea after reading this article on MSNBC. The theme: arE YoU a fReaK maGnEt? weLL? ArE yOU?

“A freak magnet is basically someone who attracts bizarre, unwanted attention,” says Ginger, who asked that her real name not be used due to the number of times she’s been stalked. “You’re minding your own business and then you suddenly have some encounter that you didn’t invite in any way. It just happens to some people more than others.”
I know y'all've got some stories to share.

If you want to remain silent about your experiences, or you aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, you can read more at Diary of a Freak Magnet.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Justice(?)

A lot has been made of the New Orleans criminal justice system. One thing I hear from folks out hear on the east coast is that New Orleans would be better served if judges wouldn't let defendants out of jail. I always thought that sounded like a pretty reasonable solution. But G-Bitch brings up the other side of the coin.

On this blog, we discussed war on the Judicial Branch of government, and one thing I think came out of that discussion was that many times, things that are percieved to be a problem with the Judicial Branch are really problems with the Legislature and the Executive Branches not doing their damn jobs.

So what's the take on Judge Hunter? I don't want crooks back on the street whether they can afford a lawyer or not, but we do have the right to speak with an attorney, and if we cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed by the state. That's a big reason our legal system, while flawed, is still considered one of the foundations of our individual liberties. I know indigent and public defenders don't have a glamorous job, nor one that many people like paying for through tax dollars. But their existence is far more important to the overall scheme of things than a lot of people are willing to admit.

I'll go on record as saying I think Judge Hunter is absolutely within his rights to subpoena Governor Katherine Blanco. I'd say Judge Hunter would be within his rights to issue a bench warrant for contempt of court, at this point, with the state 11 months in arrears. I don't like his plan to release indigent defendants who have no representation, especially for any serious crimes, but if both representation and speedy trial are legal requirements, he does have legal grounds to do so.

He will catch flak for this, I'm sure, but this is another case where the Legislature and Executive (especially the Executive) have absolutely failed to live up to the oaths of their offices, and are actually forcing Judge Hunter's hand.

Excuses, excuses

Meanwhile, in news of the politically bizarre, former White House policy advisor Claude Allen, admits that Hurricane Katrina broke his brain. Gloom humour aside, this admission certainly could explain many things...

He also got off with an awful light sentence, reinforcing the idea that political insiders are special people who deserve consideration. No wonder they all think they're above the law.

Hat tip to Gentilly Girl.

spychips

If someone has already posted on this, while I was looking out the window, I apologize, however:

A fellow by the name of Marlin Schneider, a dem rep in the Wisconsin state legislature has proposed a law to prohibit anyone from requiring people to have tiny chips embedded in them or doing so without their knowledge. Violators would face fines of up to $10,000

This seems a little redundant -- what with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I mean, if these people aren't deterred by either of those, or by the whole intent of the founding fathers, or by common decency, then I doubt this little piece of legislation will cause them to say: "oh, my! now we really can't get away with this."

Any thoughts? Mayhap there is actually a gigantic loophole in our legal system that says: while it is not okay to beat or rape Miss Booth, nor can the government enter her domicile without a warrant, it is quite alright for anyone who feels like to stick a freaking microchip under her skin. Please tell me that we don't need a new law for this one; surely that is already illegal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Must Read

Thoughts concerning the war (both of them) by Your Right Hand Theif. Pretty important stuff considering the thousands of protesters taking to the streets in Baghdad, in support of Hezbollah.

Ain't Outta the Woods Yet


Chris has been downgraded again, and appears to be staying on a straight line course. Good news for the East Coast? Not so much. If the projections are correct, Chris will be in the Gulf of Mexico by Monday, where the water is warm and deep. Strenthening could occur at any time, putting the entire Southern Coast at risk. Let us hope this storm blows itself out before any reorganization can get underway.

Ideological Litmus Test

Haven't I spoken about this before?

One of the core reasons I became active in the Democratic Party was because I felt a need to fight for what I believed. Am I a Democrat? Absolutely. Do I agree with all other Democrats all of the time? Absolutely not.

I am a Democrat because of what I believe, not because of what Daily Kos or the New York Times think I should believe. That's why, even though I can't vote there, I have a dog in the fight in the Lieberman vs Lamont election in Connecticut. I could deal easily with a Lieberman loss if this was just Connecticut determining who their nominee will be. But after watching all the continual and unending press about this one election, I know that this is about more than that.

I tend to agree more with Andre at Georgia Politics Unfiltered, that the behavior of some activist networks, including some I belong to, could begin an era of litmus-test politics within the Democratic Party - the same litmus test politics I believe have destroyed the sanity of the Republican Pary in the past two decades.

Because of that, I am hoping for a rare Incumbent Upset victory in Connecticut, and Liebermann to be returned as the nominee. If that doesn't happen, Joe: we've got two milquetoast Republican Senators in Georiga who need beatin,' winters much gentler than Connecticut's and plenty of prime lots as far as real estate is concerned.

Back to School Open Thread

School's about to reopen, Athens is about to experience the yearly invasion of the frosh-people, and The People Who Give Us Money will soon be departing Island City until the Georgia Florida game. I know that everyone's life is about to be altered, and I want to hear about it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mhewigde

Mhewidge is what bwings us together today.

Or rips us apart tomorrow. But mostly those few who shouldn't be getting hitched in the first place:
The problem usually comes when out-of-control bridezillas wrap themselves up with planning for the big day—and don't plan for the day after.
There is another reason I'm not married: I can throw (or help throw) one hell of a party on my own, and I don't need much of an excuse to do it.

In the Land of Fish Stickers

So, on my bass guitar case, a "Darwin Fish" is prominently displayed. I also have a Darwin Fish holding a wrench who's name is "Evolve." My fish symbols live there, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of "Truth Fish" happily devouring their little Darwin fish predecessors. Yes, it is a happy place, this Island City, where debate rages even on the bumpers of the minivans and Mercedes.

Then, today, I was searching for a 'fish concept car' with which to harrass my brother with in the comments section of another post, and this comes up on Google.

A Darwin Fish, being eaten by a Truth Fish, being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. All in the same image. I thought two things when I saw this. 1) I must have one & 2) where do we go from here?

I can see the next one now, Darwin Fish being eaten by Truth Fish being eaten by T-Rex being peed on by Calvin!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More on the War

This is what happens when you don't really have a plan.

First of all, you can't do war on the cheap. War is expensive in treasure and in blood, and your whole society has to be prepared to tighten their belts to support the soldiers in the field.
Officials worry that behind the Army’s lack of readiness lies a titanic mismatch between the Bush administration’s dream of resurrecting American prestige in the region through the use of hard power and the scant resources they have devoted to it.

Because if you run out of money to keep your soliders in the field, there is no money left over to rebuild the vital infrastructures that eventually allow the conquered to reestablish commerce and society and win the peace so that our soldiers can come home.

Though the media keeps playing up the civil war angle, I see nothing but continued chaos. A civil war would have sides we could negotiate with, or at least pick a side. This situation is anarchy and thuggery; rioting with heavy weapons and hidden bombs. When are the police going to be ready? Where is the finish line and how close are we?

And the American 'debate' exists in the playground of politics, where our only options are to 'cut and run' or 'stay a course (without a plan).' Neither sound like strategically sound options.

Right now, we are forced to pray for the safety of our people, and hope news like this is true, and Iraqis will be in control by the end of this year.

Meetings

NOLA bloggers, in addition to preparing for the Rising Tide Conference, got to deal with the city-planning funhouse that were the Unified New Orleans Plan meetings this weekend. Have you ever been involved in an event where you were earnestly trying to participate in doing something good for the community, and then came to the stunning realization that the folks in charge of said event had no idea what they were doing?

Dangerblond directed my traffic to the following links.

Long and short of it is, the UNOP meetings were a disaster; a time wasting event to give the appearance of public input on the matter of rebuilding a vital American city. Think New Orleans has the roundup, and had this to say about his experience at the meeting(s):
Toward the end, there was a lot of reference to the “democratic process” in which we were participating.

Odd that this “democratic process” requires and email address in order to participate. You also have to attend two poorly announced meetings. On scheduled at the last minute, one scheduled in conflict with the Night Out Against Crime. In recent decades, democracy has tended to be a little more inclusive that this.

Next, we pan over to Schroder, who adds the Latin “res ipsa loquitur” to the NOLA lexicon. The thing speaks for itself:
You're a planner, and you want to hold a citywide meeting. Would you open the calendar to make sure you didn't schedule the meeting on the same night as, say, perhaps the most widely-attended neighborhood gathering in the country -- the National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, August 1st?

I hate the fact that planning commissions and organizations that are supposed to get things moving will intentionally schedule their input meetings in the ‘middle of the night’ or against other events. Reminds me of all the stuff universities do during the summer so less students are around to get mad. But even if you do end up attending, the powers that be may not be listening:
And what was the UNOP meeting supposed to accomplish? Well ... I suppose that depends on who you represent and what your goals are. Are you interested in propping up a process that most residents think is intentionally confusing and undemocratic? Or are you one of "those people," who think that power originates in the people, and that their ideas should be honored?

(Oh yeah, and if you want to see the visual representation of how well the bureaucracy has handled the rebuilding of a Great American City, Click here for the diagram.)

Such behavior by the children-in-charge starts inciting thoughts of rebellion in the minds of the adults:
one of my colleagues turned to me and said, "Let's start a coup." We couldn't do a worse job than the people who run this city and we're intentionally instead of unintentionally funny.

But the new New Orleans has already started a revolution, one that will be on display during the Rising Tide Conference later this month, so they wrap up the UNOP fiasco with an essay and some home cookin':
Becky Houtman has written a well-researched and insightful essay on the history of New Orleans planning since Katrina. Please read it, applaud her effort and leave comments, tips and questions at her blog. For her yeoman service, she has won my essay contest and will be awarded a platter of home-baked brownies in a ceremony for which, in the spirit of the current state of city planning, the time and place are still to be determined.


Rev. Jim Nelson on Blogspot!



Rev. Jim Nelson is the future Democratic Congressman from Georgia's First District. He has changed his blog format to the more user friendly Blogger, and the site looks great. Click over and welcome Rev. Nelson to the new media!

Toyota Jumps Ford in Sales

Toyota recently jumped Ford to take the #2 spot for auto sales in July. Ford passenger car sales are actually up 3.2% over last year but their light truck sales are down a staggering 16.2% over last year. Meanwhile Toyota passenger car and light truck sales are up 12.5% and 8.4%, respectively.

Are the SUV and daily driver pickup truck finally starting to die? The F-Series pickup truck sales were down 45.6%! Explorer sales were also off. Then again, Toyota's SUVs didn't seem to have issue selling.

Toyota also has a significant advantage in the minivan market. The Ford Freestar just isn't selling like the Windstar did and Toyota's Sienna is still meeting demand after the run on them two years ago.

Another factor that can't be ignored is that Toyota is the current leader in hybrid sales. The president of Toyota North America recently said his company has sold more U.S. hybrids this year than Cadillac, Buick or Mercedes-Benz has sold cars.* On top of that, the Toyota hybrids are selling at $500 - $1000 over sticker price! Just think about that for a minute. That's pretty astounding.

It looks like Ford and GM are finally going to play catch-up with the hybrids in the coming year or two but by that time they won't have long until Toyota brings out its plug-in hybrid that can be charged over night and deliver somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 MPG or more.

Other gas-conscious auto makers are also increasing their sales over last year. Hyundai is one of them. When we bought our Elantra at the end of 2004, we got it for about $500 under invoice (or about $2000 under sticker). Now the best deal you can find is about $500 under sticker price. Kia is even getting a bump in sales despite their (mostly-perceived) quality control issues.

On the other side of the coin, now is the time to buy the gas-guzzling SUV of your choice. When my wife and I were car shopping, we seriously looked at the Highlander hybrid but had to turn it down because we could get the Jeep Commander at about $6000 less despite their similar sticker prices. I just didn't see us saving $6000 in gas over the life of the vehicle, especially since the Commander only gets driven an average of 5 to 10 miles per day and sometimes more on weekends. You can also get a Ford Expedition right now for $10,000 under sticker but I'm still a little sore at the Expedition for replacing the best SUV ever made.** And poor Dodge picked the wrong time to upsize the Durango so those are selling pretty cheap as well as long as you're ok with an SUV that looks more like a short bus with roughly the same visibility.

So what are your thoughts on current car sales trends? Are SUVs going the way of the muscle car? Are hybrids going to rule the streets? Will American auto makers once again going to have to regroup and shift direction like they did in the early 90's? Is there really any such thing anymore as an "American Auto Maker?" Most of the folks I know who work for an automobile manufacturer work for Toyota and they're working right here in the US.

* Quote not in the acticle. I'm currently verifying this since I've seen it mentioned in multiple places but can't find the actual press release, speech, or interview where this was said.

** That would be the Bronco for those of you playing at home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Number Three: Meet Chris


(Image credit, NOAA)

Virgil reminds us that every year during the late summer, Island City exists in a 'cone of death.' That's the first I picked up on the new one, which is aimed quite close to Island City, when the northern turn comes.

But also I read more today. In years past, I heard a lot of Discovery Channel and News reports about the effect of a hurricane on New Orleans. Then the scenario actually happened. Today, this shows up on MSNBC, and people all up and down the East Coast start worrying. The Bermuda High is apparently in place to drive storms against the Atlantic Coast, so the possiblity of a giant hurricane slamming into the Carolinas is looming large. But what the news is talking about (online and on cable) is the possibility of a large storm hitting the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York area, and the damage that could cause to places like Norfolk.

Video Killed the Radio Star

And then Video Jumped Off the Proverbial Bridge

Right On Peachtree reminds of more traditional and ass-kicking times that were the early days of MTV. It reminds me of my long hair, my black steel-toed boots, my flannel shirts, and the first time I heard Kurt Cobain scream "ENTERTAIN US!!."

Those were the days kids were about more than MySpace and 'feelings.' Even EPMD put out a song called "Headbanger," and Antrax and Public Enemy were the vanguard of the revolution.

It brings a tear to the eye of this old decrepid relic of Generation X. < /sniff >

And if you didn't know the Contra Mantra, you only got three lives.

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Blog for America readers!

Fidel out of power, Miami happy

We now interrupt the Island Drama nonsense to bring you an impotant announcement:

Fiedel Castro has to step down as President of Cuba while undergoing some surgery and sure enough the Cuban exiles down in Miami are coming out of the woodwork to have yet another party anticipating the Cuban dictator's demise. He does keep getting older so these parties make more and more sense but I wouldn't hold my breath. It seems that Castro is handing power over to his brother Raul while he undergoes surgery.


Some sources close to the situation have informed us that Raul, in addition to being Fidel's right hand man in Cuba, is also a Tom Bosley impersonater.




So what are your thoughts on the situation? Is this it for Fidel? If not, how long does he have left? Is Cuba better off without Fidel running the show? Will Raul be worse for the country than Fidel? Will Raul have to delay the filming of his new projects "Días Felices" and "Misterios Dowling del Padre" in order to take over the reigns as a full time leader?