Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Congratulations, Carolina

South Carolina won the College World Series for their first national championship in any sport. That makes the Gamecocks one of only 3 SEC teams who have won a College World Series.

As a Georgia fan, I enjoy seeing the Poultry do well in sports so long as their opponent isn't the Bulldawgs. Though this win will mean Williams-Brice Stadium will be even louder come September, and my friends from the Palmetto State will be extra obnoxious in the run-up to the game, I'm glad to see an SEC team doing well. If the 'Dawgs can't win it, why not PETA's Favorite Mascots? If nothing else, I get to harass the local Big 10(+2) fans about their conference affiliation, and that makes me smile.

As a Saints fan, I've seen how that first championship season can be a doozie.

Enjoy it, y'all.

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Case and Point

Just read this.

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The Skipping Record

Not to be outdone by the right-wing media, who want to place all the blame for the oil spill response on Obama, the left-wing media is gearing up to blame it all on Jindal.

That means history isn't just repeating the same old song at this point, the record is actively skipping - bringing us back to the same obnoxious verse of the same old song.

Because we can't just investigate our bipartisan national dysfunction, and accept that both Democratic and Republican political leaders could all be doing so much more; we can't just get in-depth about why more National Guardsmen haven't been mobilized, or who thinks sand-berms are a good idea, or why the A Whale may not be called into service to help clean up the mess. We're not interested in reasons, or finding the choke point that is killing us.

I understand that the media, trying to fill a 24 hour news cycle while doing as little real investigation as possible, will focus on compartmentalizing the blame and the politics of any crisis or catastrophe. That's our national telenovela, and we just keep tuning in.

But the political blame game didn't help the Katrina/Federal Flood recovery. All it did was give either side a scapegoat and a reason not to self-evaluate. And a reason not to be effective. I still know "conservatives" who think the whole Katrina/Federal Flood problem was on Blaco and Nagin. I still know "liberals" who think the whole thing was Bush's fault.

Pointing out that a lot of folks in "this part of the world" blamed all three for their many and individual specific failings doesn't even make a dent in those well-entrenched worldviews. Individual and specific failings don't matter if you have an emotional investment for or against a political narrative.

Because, why should I work harder when they are going to screw off and take credit? Our nation's political & media class just isn't interested in solving problems anymore. They aren't interested in action. They are interested in argument. And we enable them to behave that way.

Like little kids who have to clean up a mess, they forego the 5 minutes that it would take us working together to spend 15 minutes arguing with their parents, stomping around, blaming the siblings and carrying on when they're not getting their way.

And we, the American People, are their enabling parents, our collective learned helplessness allows the children to run the household. Our interest is videotaping the specatcle and uploading it to YouTube.

The politics of blame will get exactly zero droplets of oil off our shore and out of our sea. It will cap exactly zero blown wellheads. But it will attract pageviews, radio listeners, television audiences and advertising dollars.

What? Are you not entertained?

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nominations

The organizers of Rising Tide 5 are accepting nominations for the Ashley Morris Award, to be presented at the conference on August 28.

Please leave your nominations in the comments section.

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A Whale

An oil skimming supertanker is on the way to the Gulf of Mexico for oil cleanup. The crazy part? They don't know if they'll be able to use it when it gets here, because our own laws might get in the way.

As part of their re-branding effort in the wake of the Drill, Baby, Drill/Joe Barton/Right-Wing Narrative & Governing Philosophy Fail, there is a movement afoot to shovel the "blame" of the government response onto too much regulation.

Because what better way to respond to a crisis caused by ineffective regulation than to say the problem is too much regulation?

What they're really doing is framing the Not Having a Plan is a Bad Thing truism of government policy in a way that doesn't expose the bipartisan nature of our current national dysfunction. Bobby's statewide approval rating is somewhere around 90%, and he got there by complaining about the immovable Feds and hoping no one raises any questions about any other levels of government. Nationally, Republicans want to ride those coattails. They are less interested in cleaning up the oil and more interested in politically hammering Obama.

They're going to focus on the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Jones Act of 1920, and the implementation of such laws by the current Democratic administration regarding the cleanup.

And you know what? They've got a point. Understand, this doesn't excuse them for being the party of "Drill, Baby, Drill," "I Apologize to BP," and a few other progress-resistant memes. But, if they want to try and shame the current administration into doing something they should have already been doing, its not easy to stop them on political grounds.

No foul. Play on.

Of course, Obama could mitigate this by getting on the ball. He still has a chance to turn this around. Not a great chance, but a chance. And that margin gets thinner everyday.

Because if the drilling rig can operate under a different flag, I have no problem bringing in clean up equipment and experts from other nations. On the Gulf Coast, we should have 120% employment for anyone with a commercial vessel and deckhands, and if other nations have the technology our own nation has proudly refused to invest in, we should be willing to invite them to participate.

And we should have an administration who facilitates that sort of thing. Quickly.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hold Fast



Hello, Alex.

While Atlantic Hurricane season officially started on June 1, today is the defacto kickoff. Please note that this storm was a small cluster of thunderstorms just three short days ago.

And another area of development lurks further west.

Furthermore, what will this do to the oil spill? (PDF)

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Betting Hard

A Presidential administration truly and fully behind a hope and change agenda would start acting on ways to restore Louisiana's vanishing coast.

Mark phrases this as a choice between cynicism (South Louisiana is littered with the empty shells of broken presidential promises) and buy-in (let's be helpful).

Meanwhile, I wonder if there is anything we can do without waiting on a President to do it for us.

And I know that the wetlands restoration project is going to be so massive it will eventually require Federal involvement. And I know that will require a President who is ready to actually do things and move this country to acheive great things as we have done in the past (though not recently). And I further understand that seeking this restoration is justice, not charity, as Louisiana has subsidized the real costs for many goods and services enjoyed by the other 49 states of the Union.

But again, is there anything we can do without waiting on a President to do it for us?

Because if Arizona can do whatever the hell they want with regards to Federal policy, it may be time we start looking at our options. I guarantee that restoring the wetlands and getting some actual storm protection will resonate with Americans who want to see their nation do great things again. And unlike Arizona's unnecessarily divisive and ineffective issues, we'd be merging good policy with good politics. This is the kind of issue that can shame politicians into action.

Because what can happen to Louisiana can happen to any other state.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Right the Hell There

..And there, and there, and there, and...

You remember the incredulous question posed by one Brit Hume of Fox "Where's the Oil?" News:

I'll let Varg and Jeff handle that one.

Yeah, you'll be hearing about that one for a long time.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You Must Register With Ze Police

Because it is just too difficult to go after businesses who hire illegal immigrants, some Americans would rather require police-issued permits to rent or lease housing.

That's right, in Arizona, they can check your papers. In Fremont, Nebraska, everyone who wants to rent any property has to seek and recieve permission from the local police force.

At this rate, the red states will have voted themselves into a police state before the next Presidential election. I'm sure the Democrats will be blamed.

Of course, Barr says it best:

Such measures clearly illustrate that a majority of Americans are willing to grant far-reaching – even arbitrary — powers to law enforcement to infringe their liberty simply to salve their concern over policy disputes.

Mo' Moratorium

I've given you my unwashed and unlearned opinion.

Now, go read Maitri's more reasoned take on the issue.

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Rising Tide V



Rising Tide V is August 27 & 28 in New Orleans. Registration is now open. You know you want to come.

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So Hard to Say Goodbye


Overnight Low @ Tasty World, 2008. Wenzka-Espana Bachelor/ette Party

In New Orleans, one of the world's singluar cities, the singular institution Ernie K-Doe's Mother-In-Law Lounge closes its doors in July.

In Athens, the greatest college town in the land, one of the anchors of the town's legendary music scene, Tasty World, will holler a true last call in the wee hours of an AthFest Sunday morning, as the last encore thunders from the stage.

Two treasures, turning over. See if this sounds familiar:

Murphy says there have been too many high points over the past decade to go into, but that he can link them all through his experience. Of that moment, he says, “I have dragged my sorry ass downtown, mailing it in, purely there to drink my way through another night and lock it up. I am on a 70-day run of totally ignoring the sounds coming through the shitty P.A., in a room ill-suited for live entertainment, when out of the darkness comes some beautiful new sound exploding everything. That moment makes all the drudgery worthwhile, and I will max out all my credit cards to keep the place open so it can happen again.”


While I despise getting old and turning over so much of the exciting life to today's unappreciating kids (y'all get off my lawn, now, yaherrdmeh?) I wish back then I had one drop of the knowledge that I have now. Appreciate everything you love like it won't be there tomorrow.

And when I'm down at Mimi's this Friday with friends new and old, I'll raise my glass to the beautiful new sound exploding everything.


Rock for Richard Memorial Metal Show, Tasty World Uptown, 2009

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Criticism I Believe In

Update:

The Ordinary Gentleman has a fine examination of progressive criticism of Obama. (HT: The Daily Dish)

In short, the escrow account is an outcome of BP doing what they should be doing. That people like Andrew are inclined to take the news as some big achievement says more about the depressingly sad state of our expectations on this front than it does about the President’s negotiating skills or effectiveness.


--------------Original Post----------------

Sorry, before Joe Barton, Tom Price, Michelle Bachmann & friends sidetracked us down a "waterboarding-is-OK-but-escrow-accounts-are-unconstitutional" debate track, I was just about to level some additonal criticisms of the President's policies and response to this crisis.

But the delay derailed those thoughts, and the witty nature of the commentary is gone forever. In their stead, I will refer you to this column and video.

Of course, my young brother did bring something up in a different comment thread. That is my burgeoning position shift from "Change I Believe In" to that of Obama being "The Least Worst" political option.

We ain't there yet, but there is growing evidence (as the Salon article suggests) to support such a shift.

Which brings me to this question, which I must answer for myself: Did the policies enacted by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and represented by Sarah Palin move the country to such a progress-resistant position that a President like Obama, with all his policy faults, appears not as the Least Worst option but the breath of Change and Hope as advertised?

I guess I just moved a personal "unknown unkowns" into the "known unknowns."

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Your Petrocracy

Despite the chorus of complaint about how "un-constitutional" the President's "shakedown" of an oil company is, I have yet to hear any real-conservative-to-right-wing outrage over that same oil company's use of government officials to muzzle the press.

You remember the press, right? It is one of those pesky freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, last time I checked (the intertubes at least).

So emboldened, said oil company is now employing government officials to detain private citizens with cameras.

I can relate.

I find the silence strange. I distinctly remember hearing about the rights of a different cameraman, once upon a time.


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Play On

And in an obvious demonstration of our society proudly not learning anything, ever, a Federal judge has found a constitutional right for oil companies to drill. That's right folks, we now return you to your regularly scheduled potential for human and environmental catastrophe. Mistakes are inconcievable, and America is beginning to experience oil spill fatigue.

Hearing about it again and again is such downer, dontcha know? We don't want more pictures of oil soaked Southern beaches, we want to see the steamy scenes from The Bachelorette.

Look, I know we were going to have to start drilling again, sometime. The political reality isn't drill-baby-drill vs. no-drilling-ever, after all. Our whole society is set up to feast on oil, and that's a bi-partisan belief.

But with all that is going on, we can't hit the pause button and run a few safety checks? That's too much to ask?

I wish it were that simple. A straight-up drilling ban was a bad idea in the first place made with a nod to politics and had very little to do with safety.

Here's why: Obama offered up expanded drilling earlier this year as a political-reality-based part of his energy plans*. When the Deepwater Horizon immolated, he had to create political distance between himself and his policy* and reversed himself with a six month ban on new drilling**. Unfortunately, this is a political and economic non-starter as a part of policy. As much as I would appreciate a six month ban to make safety a larger priority across the board, I don't trust that our government can effectively regulate this industry in six months by acting alone.

A more results-oriented approach would be to really knuckle down on safety enforcement on drilling rigs. The majority of what needs to be done is to enforce existing laws and ordinances. The few new regulations that need to be considered (acoustic triggers on blow-out preventers, automatic relief well drilling, outside insurers, etc) could be added to the new enforcement mechanisms.

Because we're obviously rebuilding our regulatory enforcement of drilling from scratch at this point.

This does not require a six-month*** moratorium on all drilling. It does require anyone who wants to start drilling to pass an exhausive safety check with flying colors. What better way to reward those who are doing the right thing and punishing those who are not living up to their responsibilities?

Is it perfect? Hell, no. But it gets people to work and it gets the oil companies heavily invested in doing whatever they needed to do to get back to drilling for oil. Use that incentive to acheive your policy goals.

It is a shame we have zero political options offering us that choice.+

----------------------------Notes----------------------------

* Republicans, emtionally overinvested in hating the President, despised the idea of Obama allowing more drilling on the grounds he wouldn't allow more drilling fast enough.

** Republicans, emotionally overinvested in hating the President, depised the idea of Obama limiting more drilling and possibly requring the oil drilling industry to adhere to actual regulations.

*** Or more

+ Please note that post is critical of Democrats and Republicans as they relate to irrational policy development. I hope it serves to point out the bipartisan nature of our national dysfunction, while at the same time enumerating why I think Republican policies represent the far-worst options. Thank you.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Shakedown Explained

Joe Biden's so angry at the "shakedown" comments, he waxes eloquent.

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Psychological Warfare

Even as America argues over how to deal with one catastrophe, Southeast Louisiana readies itself for the next one. And I'm not talking about the hurricanes, I'm talking about the mental health disaster waiting for the Gulf Coast.

In the last decade, residents of the Gulf region have endured several waves of devastation that has ravaged their homes and way of life. Since 2004, they have been forced to cope with the wreckage from Hurricanes Wilma, Rita, Katrina and Ivan, which rank among the ten most intense hurricanes in the Atlantic. Now, as the oil spill fiasco in the gulf continues with no end in sight, the psychological damage to Gulf residents is beginning to outweigh the toll taken on the land.


Despite incomparable resiliency, your fellow Americans in Southeast Louisiana haven't fully recovered from the population wide traumatic stress of the last big thing. That will only compound the effects of the current events.

The psychological impact of Louisiana's newest disaster is likely to dwarf the impact of the Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Change I Still Believe In

Despite my recent disappointments, his lackluster speeches, and the deliberately slow pace at which he moves, I am still very, very glad Barack Obama is President of the United States of America.

Yeah, his speech sucked. It got nearly universally panned on the left. It read straight out of the George W. Bush school of disaster response. More commissions, different people in charge, and a promise to change. This was the shit he was supposed to change.

Then he went out the next day and got $20,600,000,000 out of the people who made this mess. And that's the downpayment, to make sure they don't find a way to weasel out of responsibility later when the media has been distracted by the next thing.

Leveraging twenty-billion-six-hundred-million dollars out of a group of folks who can afford to hire Satan as their claims attorney ain't a bad day at the office, I think you'll agree.

Which is why I'm much more hopeful today than yesterday. Like Andrew Sullivan, I too "remain an enthusiast for this presidency's competence and long-term direction."

And when it comes to competency and long-term direction, our nation has no political alternatives. Because our nation might have someone much, much worse in the Oval Office, and that's before you even start considering Republican alternatives.

How do I know this? Easy. You start with the absolute right-wing denial of anything close to reality. At this point, I beg any conservative or right-wing reader to defend the GOP talking point that "drill, baby, drill" really meant "drill-on-land-so-we-don't-have-to-drill-in-deepwater."

Because you can't defend it. It just isn't true.

On top of that you slather the lunatic right-wing response to Obama's twenty-billion-six-hundred-million dollar victory for the United States taxpayer.

That's right. The folks who bathe themselves in the fantasy of traditional America and responsiblity are angry with the President for making BP clean up its own mess.

We'll start with this roundup of right-wing GOP members trying to score political points. Bachman, Limbaugh, Barbour, Tom Price, and Fox News all clock in. (HT: Daily Dish)

These are your intellectual and public leaders, my Republican and conservative and right-wing friends. Those are the origins of your talking points. Defend their words now. Point me to any place any of those individuals have come up with a credible plan to clean up the Gulf Coast, enforce regulations on the oil industry, and get America off our oil addiction.

You can't. Because there aren't any such plans from the GOP. When it comes to Republicans and this oil spill, there are only bailouts for the industry, and apologies for America.

And unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20-odd months, you'd know how angry Republicans are at business bailouts and apologizing for America.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Second (Line) Amendment



A well harmonized brass band, being necessary to the culture of a free New Orleans, the right of the people to play and dance to Music, shall not be infringed.

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Street Music

The Issue:

Don't Stop the Music (FB)

Gambit: NOPD Enforcing 8pm Curfew (Gambit's been on this story like red beans on rice, including posts reminding us that leaf blowers and lawn mowers have more lenient hours than trumpets, and getting a response from Councilwoman Palmer.)

Let the Street Musicians Play

------------------------Action Item-------------------------

(Emailed to Susan Guidry, Arnie Fielkow, Jackie Clarkson, Kristin Palmer, Ronal Serpas and Roger Jones on 6/16/2010):

Good morning Councilmembers, Mr. Superintendent, and Officer Jones,

I am writing this letter to support New Orleans musicians who play on the streets of the French Quarter and in the Faubourg Marigny. My primary concern involves the New Orleans city ordinances that forbid live music from our streets during certain hours of the day. I would like to see those ordinances overturned or amended to allow New Orleans’ unique musical culture to be protected. My secondary concern involves the enforcement of those ordinances by the NOPD.

Over the last several days, several individuals and groups of musicians, including the To Be Continued (TBC) Brass Band and the Young Fellas Brass Band, have been approached by NOPD officers and told they were in violation of city ordinances because of where and when they were playing music. The most documented interaction took place at the intersection of Bourbon and Canal Streets, where the TBC Brass Band has played for years to the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation towards 8th District Quality of Life officer Roger Jones for both his respectful attitude towards the musicians and the quality of his engagement with the community. Instead of issuing citations immediately, Officer Jones took the time to inform community members of the existing violations of city ordinances; he also provided the community with the exact ordinances that were being violated, so the community would be able to address their amendment in a positive and civic fashion. His actions regarding this matter reflect the best kind of community policing, and I would encourage NOPD to commend him while working to emulate his fine example.

The letter he distributed cited city ordinances including “Sec. 30-1456. Use of Bourbon Street restricted” and “Sec. 66-205. Persons playing musical instruments in public rights of way.” These ordinances create a curfew that disallows musicians from performing based on both their location and the time at which they are playing.

While I understand the need for ordinances such as these, I am at a loss to understand why such ordinances are so restrictive concerning live music being played on these blocks of Bourbon, Canal or Frenchman Streets. These streets, as well as others in the lower French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, are known for both live music and vibrant nightlife.

I have also learned that there may be traffic concerns over the crowds watching musicians play on these streets. To this concern, I remember that these are streets where pedestrians often chose to move from the sidewalk to the street with little impediment, which will cause problems with automobile traffic whether or not musicians are present. If the musicians or the crowds watching them play are not blocking the entrance to a business or residence, I find it difficult to believe that they cause any serious problems in these locations during most hours of the day or night.

Because of this, I believe these ordinances should be overturned or amended to preserve the unique culture of New Orleans and protect the rights of street musicians to play on these streets without such strict time constraints and fear of receiving a civil or criminal citation. I further believe that, if pedestrians interacting with automobiles are a problem on these streets at any hour, the city ordinances should reflect a more restrictive policy towards automobiles than towards musicians and pedestrians. Finally, I hope you will request that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) cease the enforcement of these ordinances while you examine them for elimination or amendment.

Please consider this my position on this matter. I thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Cousin Pat from District A in New Orleans

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A Little Less Conversation

The only thing more disappointing than President Obama's list of things we should have been doing already is that this represents the only American political option that takes the BP Oil Crisis seriously.

Obama still has a chance to really affect positive and lasting change to our nation as the result of this crisis. It isn't a good chance, but he has a chance.

And I'd still rather have him in charge than the other option I was offered.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When Saying "No Comment" Is Too Hard

I guess this is the political version of "when keepin' it real goes wrong."

Sorry, Representative Bob Etheridge, of North Carolina, assaulting students with cameras on the streets is a jailable offense. Resign now, and turn yourself in to authorities. I don't care what party affiliation you are.

Maybe the students won't "press" charges.

(HT: The Daily Dish - which means I heard about this through two sources considered the "liberal" media.)

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They Advocated for Drilling...

...before they advocated against it.

I'm talking about the right-wing.

I was going to write something about the true costs of setting up your entire society based on gasoline, and then I looked at the comments section of Cynthia Tucker's column.

Specifically, the right-wing comments. They are temerity defined.

However the more important analysis would have reminded us of the horrific expense inflicted by ANWR-like environmentalism, that intellect that compels oil drillers to go to the bottom of the deepest oceans for difficult searches rather than use the readily-available easy stuff. (Ragnar)
...
The lesson taught is, don’t give into wacko leftist environmental terrorists and instead, do what is sensible, practical, safer and logical. Drill on the mainland like Republicans have been preaching for decades. (Charles)


And on and on.

Sorry, right-wingers, you drove home the "drill, baby, drill" meme with so much force and fanfare, you own it. Maybe you should have spent less time pointing and laughing at "librals" who attempted to explain the true costs of drilling anywhere, and more time considering possible consequences of your actions. You know, like adults.

Now that the pandering, wrong-headed cliches you try to pass off as policies have run full-speed-face-first into the worst case scenario and created a massive man-made catastrophe affecting an entire coastline of the United States (AGAIN), don't hide from it. Enjoy it for what it is. Bask in it. Roll around in the oily, slimy goodness like migratory waterfowl in their death throes.

Don't dare attempt to change things after the fact like your name is "John Kerry."

Because I distinctly recall you intellectually bankrupt and reality challenged individuals chanting "DRILL. BABY. DRILL."

I did not hear you chant "we-have-to-drill-in-deepwater-because-environmentalists-won't-let-us-drill-on-land." You weren't thinking about pelicans and seafood, though I'm sure you served some at your fundraiser.

I mean, I should have known this baldly lunatic version of reality would grow legs after Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin started tweeting that fear of the oil spill was the real reason right-wingers-against-really-real-reality wanted to drill in Alaska's national wildlife preserves. The idea that GOP policymakers would have stopped deepwater drilling if ANWR was open is reality denial on a scale so deep we usually reserve its association with the folks currently in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I should have known it had legs when my Dad called me up asked me if it was true.

I should not be surprised that they would attempt to salvage some semblance of political survival out of their suicidal "policies" of drilling wherever, whenever, however + no government regulation whatsoever.

Sorry, folks. You broke it, you bought it.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Limited Effects

Oh, neocons. Why they haven't been laughed into the gutters of intellectual poverty is simply astounding. How many catastrophes do these people have to talk us into before the whole body politic turns on their debt of credible thought?

Because they still want us to open up a war against Iran.

Y'all remember "we will be welcomed as liberators" and "Mission Accomplished?" I do. We now have the following to add to this list:

if we carried out a targeted campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities, against sites used to train and equip militants killing American soldiers, and against certain targeted terror-supporting and nuclear-enabling regime elements, the effects are just as likely to be limited.


Emphasis mine. Let's shorten that to the neocons' point: a US military attack on Iran is likely to have limited effect. They think that if we bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, there is a less than 50% chance that Iran will do anything in response.

Maybe the neocons have a hard time recognizing the fact that the United States is currently hamstrung trying not to lose two conflicts of which we are already engaged in the Middle East. While there is a serious lesson to learn about letting your enemies and rivals get away with bad behavior (appeasement), at some point, there has to be an intellectual grasp of reality. Sometimes you can't do anything about your enemies or rivals behavior because your own behavior prevents you from taking effective action.

Wars are expensive. Widening the conflict exponentially increases the expense. When you are already engaged in one conflict, it is difficult to project power into another conflict.

We are currently involved in two such conflicts, and it has proven difficult to extricate oursleves on our terms from both.

This is why you have to choose your conflicts carefully. It is why wars of choice are often called "misadventures." Engaging in conflicts, and then strategically drawing them out through bad planning and organization, limit your ability to engage in other conflicts. This is true regardless of the necessity of the other conflict.

Unless you're willing to mobilize your society for total war, which the neocons are decidedly against, because that would come with a political toll they are unwilling to accept.

This is one of the geopolitical result of invading a country of 30+ million people with only 300,000 coalition forces while at war with a seperate nation, population 28+ million people with only 290,000 coalition forces. Apparently, the west operates on a 1/100th scale force multiplier (and after 16 concurrent years of war with those two nations, we see how well that works out).

Now, the neocons want us to open up another war against a nation of more than 70 million people. And if that nation choses to respond with more than "limited effects," we're going to need a coalition force of at least 700,000 troops to achieve our current limited non-decisive goals. That's 700,000 in addition to the troops we currently have in the field.

Think the US population will be willing to ante up for that? Especially considering the results of our two current conflicts?

(HT: The Daily Dish)

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Worst Case Scenario

Information continues to clarify that the worst case scenario is developing with the BP Macondo Oil Gusher. All the attempts to stop the leak from the broken machinery on the sea floor has met failure because the well is busted both above and below the sea floor. The leak beneath the sea floor, at perhaps more than 1000 feet down, is both more catastrophically destructive and much, much harder to stop.

Here is a more technical explanation.

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Tropical Cyclone Formation

60% chance in the next 48 hours.

This is supposed to be a very active season. With the heat index in the 100+ range on the Gulf Coast in June, I can understand why the experts think so.

Buckle up, folks, this is going to be another one of those summers.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Brutality

The new definition can be found in New Orleans.

Some things are so horrific, you try not to believe there is truth to what is being said until the verdict is handed down.

God help us.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Response to Lord Tebbit

American Zombie provides today's FYYFF commentary.

One wonders if such words count as additional anti-British rhetoric?

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Omar comin, yo!!

One of the coolest ideas I've ever heard of: paintball against Omar Little.

HT: David Hale, who likes to throw some pop culture into his reporting on the end of college football as we know it.

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What Maitri Said

Yes, in the face of our nation's worst ecological disaster, including the destruction of hundreds of miles of coastline and the dumping of hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemical dispersant that may cause cancer and birth defects in humans, let's gut the regulatory powers of the EPA.

Because they aren't allowing our polluting industries to get away with enough bad behavior as it is. I guess that's the reason we have a "big government" that is unable to actually do the things we want it to.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Media Wars

Freedom of the press is very important to the health of our nation. When government agencies (federal, state and local) keep members of the press from covering the oil spill and the damage it has brought, it is a detriment to us all. It increases the liklihood that this catastrophe will be dismissed by the body politic at large, the real costs will be minimized by talking heads, and therefore the liklihood that this will happen again will be increased.

The reason the government doesn't want you see unapproved pictures of the oil spill is the same reason the government wouldn't let flag-draped coffins of servicemen killed overseas be photographed: you might start thinking that your day-to-day behaviors and political actions have consequences you don't like. That's bad for the folks in charge.

That government agencies are restricting members of the press from covering this disaster at the behest of private industry is nothing short of enraging.

All that being said, we may not be in this predicament if our 24 hour news cycle spent more time on the actual news rather than opinion-based infotainment. There is a way to address your lack of credibility and that is to behave in a more credible way. While it would have been better for Big Media to heed John Stewart's long ago words and stop hurting America, there's no better day to start than today.

And restrictions on freedom of the press should be front page news, everywhere. That is a HUGE story, to which the government and BP should be called to account. If you think people are angry now, imagine how agitated they'll be when they hear the government is restricting access to public beaches so BP doesn't get embarassed by pictures of oily birds.

The only thing the government agencies and big business should fear more than allowing the press to photograph and investigate should be not allowing the press to photograph and investigate.

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Anti-British Rhetoric

The British want us pesky Americans to tone it down. Our President is being too critical of British interests for their liking. While PM Cameron expresses sympathy, others are taking issue with American displeasure.

Lord Tebbit, the former government minister, also criticised Obama's attacks on BP and its management.

"The whole might of American wealth and technology is displayed as utterly unable to deal with the disastrous spill – so what more natural than a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance against a multinational company?"


Wow.

I understand that there are a lot of British pensions caught up in the price of BP's stock (aren't you glad Social Security isn't overinvested in BP stock?), but expecting Americans not to be enraged about this is asking far too much. Hell, I don't think many Americans are angry enough.

We're facing the greatest ecological catastrophe in our nation's history, coupled with a dumping of toxic dispersant that would be considered the largest chemical weapons attack in the history of the world if it wasn't directly linked to "cleaning up" a forseeable and incompetently planned-for industrial accident.

And the British expect us to STFU about it? Unbelievable.

The comments section in that article goes off the rails very, very quickly.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Boom

This may be the only post on Daily Kos that I've ever read the entire way through. Fantastic. Reminds me of a hilarious, politically incorrect, NSFW because-of-language youtube I saw about this some weeks ago.

Oil booms explained.

The whole thing is must-read. The following quote is like a microcosm explanation of our national dysfunction:

The example above is a no-brainer. Most decisions will not be nearly that obvious. But we make those decisions. We don't not make those decisions. We make those decisions years before we need to and we maintain a command structure and we train community teams and we do yearly drills and and we obtain and maintain the materials we need and if the Oil Industry wants to drill or produce offshore, then they pay for it all. Now. Before they do anything else, and as part of their permitting, they get this done.

We don't wait until we need it and THEN give inexperienced boomers training in HazMat but no training in booming. We don't lay miles of bad boom just for show. We don't lay Absorbent Boom, wrong, as the only line of defense. We don't make decisions on where to boom and how to boom in each isolated little insta-command hamlet. We don't do it like it's being done right now.

We don't do it wrong.

We do it right.

And magically, like most things done right, it will work. Boom will work.


Like most things done right, it will work.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Remember When?

This time last year, we were watching massive protests in Iran after the Islamic Repbulic's farce of an election. I remember how that was such big news then.

Reza Aslan examines what the media got wrong back then.

And speaking of things that were happening last year, remember all those disrupted town hall meetings about health care? Starting tonight, and continuing through the next few months, we get to see if all the shouting actually meant something.

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Frustrated With Obama?

Every time I get frustrated with the Obama administration's handling of both the setup and response to BP's Macondo Oil Flood fiasco, I am reminded that the alternative would likely be far worse.

(HT: Suspect Device)

Let's get this straight: unless they have a magical device that will stop the oil leak or clean it up RTFN, the "drill, baby, drill," "government is the problem," "not one drop," "the market will fix that" crowd do not get to open their mouths and talk about this thing as if they have some positive policy contribution to make. What we are dealing with is the exact end result of several of their governing philosophies.

Especially since the rest of the nation is finding out there is more than one leaking deepwater well. Which is likely a shock to anyone who isn't familiar with Louisiana, as the GOP has been repeating the "not one drop (of oil spilled)" narrative for years as a way to sell their political brand as a common sense item.

I literally cannot believe that their political handlers are still allowing them to speak in public. Right now, if they were very, very, very quiet, much of the blame for this would fall on the President and the party in power by default.

But no, they want to try and score political points off of this, which should be very, very difficult if your party's brand includes the tag: "drill, baby, drill."

And I guarantee the reaction would be different in Georgia if this spill was washing up on Cumberland and St. Simons.

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"The Fear of What Comes Next"

And the Valley Shook makes a strong case for SEC expansion to include Texas A&M, and forget Texas.

Though conference trips to Austin would be awesome, I have to agree: TAMU is just as good a fit for the SEC as UT, can deliver a huge market in Texas, and the kicker - UT doesn't want in the SEC anyway. The analysis of previous SEC expansion is spot on, and it would be nice for LSU to have more traditional rivals in conference.

There is only so much manufactured rivalry Dawg Fans in Tigerland can create from Carrollton Station, after all.

And I would still love to see the SEC expand (if they have to) based on the 15 team, 3 division model. TAMU is a fantastic fit for one of those 3 slots. (And keeping the dreams of a Clemson addition alive.)

HT: Dawg Sports, who use Poseur's proposal as a starting point.

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Heavy Metal Second Line

Well, I've tried. But I still can't find the right words to say anything about this that does it even a bit of justice.

My last two trips to Athens were darkened by the shadows of lives lived in the past tense, where all that could be done to drown the sorrows was to turn to the guitars and drums; a roaring chorus and a wolf song to howl the departed to their rest.

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Absurdity

Foreign Policy examines the patently absurd things being said about the oil spill. I'm surprised they just stopped at 4 pages.

They rightly begin their examination with the credibility-challenged Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin, Rush "Natural Oil Spill" Limbaugh, Brit "Where's the Oil" Hume, and Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown. I wonder where my conservative friends are on these utopian, intellectually inconsistent and dishonest exclamations on the part of their representative establishment?

Because I know I can defend Obama's "absurdities" on an intellectual (if not emotional) level. Hell, I can even point out the few accuracies in Castro's lunacy.

But Palin laying this at the feet of the "greenies?" Seriously? It would be laughable if I didn't hear those words repeated right back at me from formerly-conservative family and friends who are content to follow these lemmings off ever higher cliffs.

Every time I feel frustrated with Obama, I remember what our alternative could be. I remember that Obama represents reality-based and actual, if limited, change from their policies, which are so full of demonstrable fail at this point I cannot believe their careers have not collapsed under the weight of their cognitive dissonance.

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Bill, Baby, Bill

Yeah, I know a lot of you readers don't like tax increases. Hell, I don't like them. But there are plenty of reasons your gasoline prices per gallon are so low, and one reason is that the places where oil is found will subsidize your costs for you.

Let us call that "Internal Colonialism."

Oyster explains how that works.

You can imagine there will be price repercussions if the individuals shouldering the costs of an activity decline to shoulder those costs any longer.

We were going to experience cost spikes any way you cut it. It has become apparent that we've already passed "Peak Oil" and are now entering the era of "Extreme Energy" where the costs (monetary, environmental and human) increase at higher rates than we are willing to tolerate.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

By the Time I Get To Arizona...

Update Monday:

Two new posts on this issue, one at First Draft and then Maitri's post that sent me there.

I'm glad to see a lot of folks on the same page. Funny time ends now.


------------------Original Post---------------------


Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern.

You know, I can try to be as understanding as possible when it comes to Arizona's behavior lately. I despise their ridiculous, illogical, politically motivated and counterproductive immigration law (if you really wanted to stop the influx of illegals, you go after the businesses that hire them first), but I've tried to be understanding as they are dealing with the fallout of a consistently incoherent and insufficient Federal policy.

I became much more suspect when they cloaked their dismantling of real history under the guise of rooting out racial divisiveness.

But lightening the skin on the faces of a mural? You guys have lost all credibility at this point. Welcome to liability land. Of course, this situation involves a local talk radio personality with electoral motivation, and the pre-emptive blame game that this is the fault of the mural artists to "create racial divisions" by depicting students at the school, but no matter.

Maybe some attention to this behavior will rightly shame Arizona into looking deep into her own soul for whatever sickness these symptoms demonstrate. Then again, maybe the instigators and defenders of this abhorrent behavior will become brighter stars in that national movement that is giving conservatism a bad name.

I used to laugh at posts like Wonkette's, as they darkly warn of a coming white uprising by this pissed off but vocal minority. I used to think this had little to do with the skin color of our President, and more to do with legitimate policy disagreements. I simply know too many folks with genuine concern over the current legislative priorities and executive decisions.

I can deal with genuine concern and legitimate policy disagreements; that's why I used to think a lot of these folks screaming about "racism" were unhinged and lacked credibility.

But now, I'm really starting to wonder.

When will my conservative counterparts begin to look back at their own side of the aisle, and see what forces are marshalling behind their genuine concern and legitimate policy disagreement?

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Street Theatre

Sometimes, you just have to dress up, make a quirky sign, strike up the band and yell really loud about stuff that makes you angry. Sometimes you have to march into the streets, and be seen in a group of people who are standing together to say that something is wrong.



In one way, the street theatre that accompanies a good protest is cathartic. You're dealing with your own objections to policy and it is a good thing to see others are feeling the same way. In other ways, it helps spread iconic images to a larger audience, and helps enunciate and illustrate a point that may not be made by the powers that be.

Another function is education and connection. Sometimes you can find a better way to describe your policy goals. A really good demonstration presents opinions and points from a wide variety of advocates, and I really think that was acheived at the BP Oil Flood protest. Kudos to Murdered Gulf for organizing it in this way.



The speakers had a lot of things to say about this subject, and were anything but monolithic. Which is good, because this is a complicated issue that isn't easily navigable. Most of all, the vast majority of what was said was productive in some way - and it became apparent that opposition to BP at this time is nonpartisan and can be focused on specific, easily described and legitimate grievances.

(Ubiquitous, non-productive pseudo-anarchists were not on the speaker's list, but did have some things to say during public comment. They were removed from the megaphone during their diatribe, because their ideas were violent, unsustainable, and more likely to cause backlash than coalesce pulbic opinion. There were a healthy number of boos and catcalls from my side of the audience when they began speaking.)



Now, as a rule, I usually hate "protests." I just don't think they accomplish much. Certainly not as much as actually getting involved with your local volunteer groups and political party structures. At those places, your actions are magnified 10 fold, and you can usually see how your own political affiliation is increasingly afflicted by teh crazy and well-connected.

For every "protest" against some far-away national policy, there are literally hundreds of buffers between the attendee and the politician or interest they intend to persuade. On the other hand, consistent local involvement puts you in contact with your school board, city council, state representatives, and other functionaries which, usually, affect your life to a much greater degree.

(Besides, I so tire of hearing some young idealist try and start "we're angry and we're not going to take it anymore" chants. Really? Is there any more useless of a chant? As a matter of fact, can we leave that bullshit back in the 60's where it belongs? More policy please. Hit them where it hurts.)




Protests are dangerous, as you can be easily marginalized or demonized by media outlets. How many times have the media understated the number of attendees to a march, or manipulated the numbers based on editorial decisions? How many times have pictures or videos of the most agitated or unhinged attendees colored the commentary of a protest? Hell, just one picture of a person in mid-yell can make a peaceful protest look like a mob.

One of the strenths of both the BP Oil Flood Protest and the 2007 March Against Crime were that they combined the best elements of street theatre and people in plain clothing.



But getting media attention is kind of the idea for a protest, and part of that is the chance to spread iconic images to a much wider audience. You may disagree with their politics, but the Tea Party's use of the Gadsden Flag and Revolutionary War imagery is nothing short of brilliance. Here you have a group of people draping themselves in patriotism to advance a political cause. A lot of folks watching on TV can relate to the imagery because it is celebrated at least every 4th of July.

Luckily, we have a little iconic imagery ourselves down here in New Orleans and Louisiana. If BP and several US enforcement agencies were trying to stop the media from taking pictures of oiled animals and oiled workers, there are people who will dress up and make signs to demonstrate that image. New York can show solidarity. We can bring a host of musical instruments to make beautiful noise, and watch as movie stars and residents mingle for a cause. And who's going to argue with Joan of Arc and her knights, in real chain mail borne by real horses?



And it likely won't stop there. Already there are plans for a "Krewe of Dead Pelicans" parade and second line for this Saturday. It is not a protest, but a mourning ceremony.

Accompanied by civic behavior as devestating pictures of the damage are finally being released, they will be more iconic images for this nation to digest.

Or choke down.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

America: the new Russia

This ain't good.

I blame too many czars in policy positions.

HT: Jeffrey

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Protest Roundup

I've still got some posts to make about the demonstration on Sunday, but those will have to wait. It was fun seeing a lot of folks I know there.

In the meantime, let me direct you to some of the words and photographs from others in attendance:

Allman has a wrap up for the Gambit. Unlike most MSM, the local alternative news weekly had two reporters on the scene.

Some Mainstream outlets did get into the act, but their reporting was so shoddy it boggles the mind. I watched an MSNBC report that pegged the number in attendance at more than 100 people (no wonder we won't see a more accurate reporting of how much oil is spilling).

Please see also this reality-bending write up by the LA Times. Look at the picture. Read the words. Then look at the roundups and pictures taken by the locals. One wonders if they even attended the same event, or showed up too early, phoned it in and went to get beignets down the street. Only two people in costume? Maybe they missed the whole Joan of Arc in chain mail on a horse.

Start with this fantastic report from Levees Not War. Video, links to more photos, and a link to this post at Huffington that gets it right.

Editor B has a report. He also has a lot of good photos.

DSB lets his camera do the reporting for him.

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