Friday, July 22, 2005

In the distance, an oyster howls 

From Catch:

Three hundred billion American tax dollars walks into a quagmire and says, "Hell, even I don't know what I'm doing here".

Then from our pals over at Wizbang!

If either Libby or Rove can be tied to the memo it's game over for them. I'm still wholly underwhelmed by the story, but given the details that have emerged (and are likely to emerge), it's just about time that both Rove and Libby take one for the team and step down.

That's right. Because, for Scooter and der Karl-- those spiritual, noble, magnanimous souls-- it's all about the "team". They won't go down in a vicious firefight. No, they'll promptly resign for the greater good, because they can live with being wrong. And they can tell when the score is up. And they are reality-based...

Consider my ass laughed off. Can we bet on that one, guys? Please?

(When the situation's right, I've been known to lay a ton of chalk.)

And here's a bonus from frequent commenters on the same Wizbang thread:

bullwinkle said: "If there's a story here at all it'll be that it wasn't Rove or Libby that leaked it, it was someone at CIA or more likely Wilson himself."

S said: "Seriously, my best deduction on this whole thing is that it's Wilson who is responsible"
After rereading those "best deductions", I'm now physically unable to get past the first words in each comment without totally losing my shiznits: "If...[!]" and then "Seriously...[!]".
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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Trust your mechanic gubmint 

Below is a letter to the editor as printed in yesterday's Times-Picayune. I had to quote it and interject a few supportive comments, because it is quite the masterpiece. Thank you, Christy B. from Mandeville! Great work!

Trust the government; it knows more than you
Thursday, July 21, 2005

Democrats around the nation are shaking in their boots because for the first time in a long time, conservatives control the Senate, the presidency and the House of Representatives.

The only flaw in that statement is the contention that Democrats wear boots.

The Democrats' last hope is to control the Supreme Court...

Democratic presidents have selected 2 Supreme Court justices in my lifetime. I agree; that is far too many.

Thank goodness that President Bush has begun to bandage the mistakes of the formal liberal president by limiting handouts.

If Bush has done anything while in office, he has limited handouts.

It baffles me how people of this nation are still moaning and groaning about the war in Iraq.

I know! After seeing the sweet job we did in Afghanistan, how dare they criticize our Iraq project as an exponentially more unnecessary, expensive, ill-planned and deadly misadventure?

As American citizens, it is vital that we trust our president and government to do what is best for our country because truthfully, they know a heck of a lot more about what is going on with terrorism than we do.

If only everyone had trusted Nixon back in the day, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

No one wants to fight a war or have our men and women of this great country be put in harm's way, but it is necessary to defeat the individuals who hate America and our way of life.

Can't wait until we defeat all the haters. That should be soon.

If you don't like how our country is run, disagree with the government and continue to belittle America and our incredible leaders, then by all means, move out of the country. Go someplace else, because frankly, we don't want you here.

Couldn't have said it better myself! Christy B., you deserve a Presidential Medal of Freedom!
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Blind man screws his faithful guide dog 


And here.

Repulsive, no?

Tip o' the tiara to Myoujou
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How should I costume? 

Tomorrow a local magazine is coming to photograph me for a story they're doing on New Orleans bloggers. I think they want a picture of me sitting at my computer.

Boy, that should thrill their readership.

Y'all have any ideas for how I can spice things up? Maybe I could insist on wearing a beret and act all militant and serious.

Or maybe I could go for humor. I was thinking about putting some random poster up behind my desk. Something like "Golden Girls" or "Gimme a Break". Then I'd forge autographs on the poster with a big sharpie marker so it would seem like I was a huge fan.... That would be funny (at least to me).

Whaddya think? Voodoo dolls? Falafels? I'm open. Just none of this (as Murph called it) "Happy Ass Say Cheese" crap.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why does George Bush hate Louisiana? 

Will it never stop?
WASHINGTON -- A top Bush administration official has urged congressional negotiators who are hammering out a national energy bill to eliminate money directed at fixing Louisiana's eroding coastline.

Chreezus! I wish the Bush administration wanted to eliminate Bin Laden half as much as they want to eliminate federal help for Louisiana's coast.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a letter that steering hundreds of millions of dollars to Louisiana for coastal restoration is too costly at a time of record federal budget deficits.

"Too costly"?!? Too costly!?!

Oh. So, a state melting into the ocean is not a priority when the budget's tight? Remember, this is a $14 billion problem which, if ignored, could become a $100 billion catastrophe. Our CEO-in-chief, the first prez with an MBA, has decided to put LA's urgent needs on the backburner, and let some future president or congress pay the geometrically higher restoration expenses. Meanwhile, Louisianans are burdened with enormous risks while they must attempt to fix a national security problem (largely) on their own.

Oh, Yeah-- I almost forgot-- WHY'S THE BUDGET SO TIGHT AGAIN, MR. BUSH!?? Shouldn't you have informed Louisiana (prior to collecting our electoral votes) that the tax cuts you were touting would be funded at the expense of our coastal restoration!

Seriously, is there a South Louisianan with any sense who would make that trade-off today? Anyone? Is there a single person in the "gret stet" who thinks that Bush is doing right by Louisiana on this one? If there is, please please please state your case in the comments. Please.

Bodman's objections were largely a restatement of White House concerns spelled out last month. But the comments directly to members of the ad hoc conference committee was seen as an escalation of the administration's opposition. The action worried Louisiana officials, especially because the state's lawmakers were shut out of negotiations.

What a delicious packet of butterscotch those three sentences are! MMMmm... Go ahead, read'em again... savor Arbusto's contempt.

Now, would this be a good time to remind you that Bush wanted to budget 100 million tax dollars to restore swamps in Iraq? That's right: saving Iraq's marshlands was a priority for this administration; saving Louisiana's coast isn't.

What do Louisiana's leaders have to say about this posture?
"It is incomprehensible to learn today that the U.S. energy secretary, on behalf of the Bush administration, opposes coastal impact assistance," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. "That this administration could actively oppose compensating the states that continue to produce so much of our nation's energy is not just shortsighted, it's irresponsible."

"Incomprehensible"? "Irresponsible"? ...I still think that's being far too soft. Let's see if Mary can do better:

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., issued a similarly tough[?] statement, saying it is "hypocrisy" for the administration to cite budget problems that stemmed from its "own fiscal recklessness." She said oil and gas production off the Louisiana coast contributed more than $5 billion in royalties to the federal Treasury last year.

"We certainly have done our fair share to support the needs of the Treasury," Landrieu said.

Hell yeah! "Hypocrisy", "Recklessness"... that's more like it.

Can we get a response from our Republican Reps and Senator? Vitter? Jindal? What say you? [Update: The Advocate reports that Vitty-cent is "disappointed" and Jindal (like Blanco) wants Bush to come visit and see the damage firsthand.]

Here's what I'd ask them: "Do you think Bush is the most anti-Louisiana President in recent memory? Why won't he help us protect America's Wetlands?"

Blake was first on this story, and makes an immodest proposal:

So the folks in Washington D.C. don't seem to see the importance in protecting this area of the country....

Well guess what? We are going to hold this country's fuel source hostage. Soon our state will have to take desperate measures and limit the access to oil from the Gulf. Watch as the pumps run dry (not really) and the price of gas sky rockets (yes, really). Then maybe the Congress and President will pay attention to the needs of the state of Louisiana.

I am first to volunteer to man.

Schroeder is second. Who will join the effort?

For those who think it's still far too premature to get radical, perhaps this item from Sunday's T-P may further motivate:

Louisiana officials are unhappy with the Bush administration's handling of coastal issues. In recent weeks, the administration has put out memos opposing revenue sharing of offshore royalty payments and protested a House plan to peg Louisiana's share of coastal restoration costs at 35 percent. The administration said a 50 percent cost share is more appropriate. Denying Louisiana offshore oil and gas royalty revenue and requiring it to pay a higher share of the coastal restoration efforts could have disastrous consequences for Louisiana taxpayers. Sidney Coffee, executive assistant to Gov. Kathleen Blanco for coastal activities, said the state's differences with the Bush administration go beyond money. She objected to several changes that the Bush administration proposed in House-approved plans for the coastal restoration project. The Bush administration said some of the plans raise constitutional concerns, including language requiring the administration to introduce enabling legislation. It said under the Constitution, the president can't be required to introduce legislation unless he believes it to be in the nation's best interest. And the administration memo said a task force charged with drawing up financing for the coastal project can't develop plans if it includes officials from outside the federal government. One suggestion, according to Bush administration memo, would be to make the task force advisory. The other possibility would be to exclude Louisiana state officials from the panel. Coffee said the administration objections could reduce state input into the restoration efforts.

More from YRHT: here, here, here, here, here, and (indulge me) here.

At every turn, this administration makes it more and more difficult for Louisiana to protect itself.

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Gay Terrorists!? 

someone check and make sure Tony Perkins' head didn't explode.



Speaking of Mr. Perkins, I apparently missed this little gem over at the Liquid List. Now, I realize this might just be a case of poor grammar, but I'll reprint the offending sentence and note that the ellipses are in the original. Go to LL for further context.

The show had something to offend everyone... featuring a homosexual couple; a black couple; a Hispanic couple (with lots of kids); an Asian couple (who owned a restaurant); a white couple (country-comes-to-town); a devil- worshiping witch (kid you not); and a Republican couple with tattoos.
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PawPaw's House is rockin' 

There's several posts over at PawPaw's place that are well worth your time.

Iced Tea: one of southern culture's greatest contributions, in my view. Dennis is quite right to say there's no "definitive" recipe for it. (Fwiw, I think Luzianne is tasty.)

True heroism by a Louisiana soldier in Iraq: Dennis has the story along with corrections.

Then there's this remembrance about... well, just go read it.
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Monday, July 18, 2005

Don't fear the Rover 

Over at People Get Ready, Schroeder posts a useful digest about our good buddy Karl Rove. If you need a reminder about the type of guy Rove is, well, Schroeder has enough to give you the basic idea. Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. A very large, filthy iceberg.

The only thing I would add is that there's far too much respect and fear shone to der Karl; especially by his adversaries on the left. Clearly, Rove is a nasty motherscratcher who knows how to unite through hatred and who places politics above country. But we needn't endow him with inhuman capacities for evil. Even Dr. Josh fell into this trap recently, saying:

I remember talking last year to a guy who'd been on shows a few times with Rove. And he told me how when you talk to the guy, there's nothing in his eyes, no soul. Just a machine, an animal.

I mean, give me a break. The dude's not a Great White shark. He's just... white. Marshall's excessive rhetoric reminds me of my favorite Simpson's episode where Homer nearly puts an all-you-can eat seafood buffet out of business. At one point, Cap'n McAlister, the salty proprietor, cries out:
'Tis no man. 'Tis a remorseless eating machine!

(Eventually, after Homer is banned from the buffet, he and the Captain make a deal. Homer gets to return and gorge himself by the restaurant's front window-- a display which attracts a crowd of disbelieving onlookers. Captain McAlister helpfully ushers them inside, barking, "Come for the freak; stay for the food.")

Anyway, I guess my point is merely this: There's too much talk of Rove as the grand "Architect".


And while he might be that, we must never forget that he's also just another mammal from Mayberry.

When I was a kid, a girl beat me up.

Hoss finds himself playing with the big boys now (i.e. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald), and there's plenty of big boys who have yet to get on board with the idea that "the United States is one big-ass Texas".

Never forget the classic Rovian errors like the whole "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier showbizness, which became the most famous campaign non-commercial in history. It's an instructive reminder, though. Too often, Rove overextends his projects and assumes he's far too clever and powerful to be held accountable. And as long as no one calls him on his b.s., he's happy to continue these ridiculous stagings and behind-the-scenes smear campaigns (always relying on "plausible deniability"). But, I'm here to tell ya, Rove's back of tricks is remarkably limited, people. He's not a genius. He just keeps doing the same things over and over. Many of them are despicable, too; but no one's been able to really nail him on it.

That's why, despite all his irritating sanctimony, Joe "Politics of Truth" Wilson deserves so much credit. Whatever else, the former diplomat is no sackless scaredy-cat. He wasn't afraid to call Rove out by name, when ole lardbutt tried to intimidate him by picking on his wife. Now, years later, Wilson may yet see his frogmarch fantasy actually play out. That will definitely be worth tivoing.

As I said before, I think Karl's hubris will force him to fight this Plamegate scandal to the bitter end, and that will only further weaken the Bush administration and undercut his fond dream of a lasting conservative re-alignment. Cuffs, I think, are probable.

Aww... Booh-freakin-hoo.

But, no matter how events transpire in coming months, when you hear someone refer to Turdblossom as a god-like "Architect", just remember that even architects are prone to royal blunders.

Thanks to Rove's reality-based nephew for the Matrix pic.
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This is how we do it 

John Avarosis flags Seymore Hersh's latest New Yorker piece on how the Bush administration covertly directed massive amounts of money to certain favored political candidates in Iraq, such as former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's campaign.

To be sure, the January elections in Iraq were going to be a rather messy affair no matter what. (The wide-ranging disenfranchisement of Iraqi Christians in the Northern ethnically Kurdish provinces being just one example.) But, like everything else, Bush wanted to control the process, and attempted to do so, in secret, over the objections of Senators like Nancy Pelosi who asked:

"Did we have eleven hundred Americans die"--the number of U.S. combat deaths as of last September-- "so [Iraq] could have a rigged election?"

Pelosi makes a politically charged comment, but it contains an excellent point. When the U.S. "liberates" a country from tyranny and then proceeds to interfere in its democratic elections, doesn't that insult the immense sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform? Did we spend hundreds of billions and endure thousands of casualties so that Iraqi citizens could be represented by foreign-bought candidates? Doesn't this sort of interference pervert the very idea of "Freedom" which Bush has repeated over and over?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a realist. I don't want a "one and done" election scenario wherein a new batch of authoritarians take over in Iraq. Nor do I want a backwards anti-Western theocracy calling the shots... but, aren't those the sort of risks we have to take? There's no way to completely control against these uncertainties without betraying the principles for which we're allegedly fighting. If Bush thinks he can game Iraq's fragile electoral system by covertly supporting America's political puppets, HE'S THE ONE who apparently can't trust Iraqis to handle democracy.

It's the height of hubris and geopolitical naivete to think that Iraqis won't see through such arrangements, anyway. Iraqis are sophisticated, intelligent people. They're not blind. They understand what goes on behind-the-scenes. They can tell when a candidate is bought or controlled. But the larger issue is this: how can the U.S. remain credible when it extolls the virtues of democracy while secretly financing and aiding certain candidates over others? What an insult to the Iraqi voters who dipped their fingers in good faith! What an insult to the Coalition Forces who died so that they could do so!

If you disagree, and think giving millions of US dollars to candidates like Allawi was necessary (just this once!) to get Iraq going in the right direction, then you should read Hersh's allegations of ballot-box stuffing and voting irregularities. That's a whole 'nother post unto itself.

Over the years Bush has repeatedly "responded" to a criticism which hardly existed; namely, that Iraqis (or Muslims) simply aren't suited for democracy. But an occupying power which showers Allawi with media-buys and "street money" is not exactly doing itself any long-term favors in promoting democratic systems, either. If Bush honestly believed his own rhetoric about "freedom", "democracy" and "self-determination", he would've taken his finger off the electoral scale and let the various factions sort themselves into their proper coalitions.

I can't wait for the next time Bush lectures us on how democratic nation-building is "hard work". Yeah, Duhbya. It is. And the more you try to covertly mess with it, the more it will eventually backfire in your face. Of course, an erudite history major like yourself should already understand that... right?

I'll conclude with a quote from Hersh's article:

Ghassan Atiyyah, a secular Shiite who worked on the State Department's postwar planning project before the invasion of Iraq and is now the director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy, [says]... "As an Iraqi who supported the use of force to overthrow Saddam, I can tell you that as long as real democratic practices are not adhered to, you Americans cannot talk about democracy."
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Sunday, July 17, 2005

"Dreadfully unfair" 

Today's Times-Picayune editorial:

The Bush administration... has agreed that Louisiana's coastal wetlands are of national importance. When the question of paying for coastal restoration arises, though, the White House continues to act as though this is mainly a Louisiana problem.

Last month, the Bush administration strongly opposed the idea of sharing offshore oil royalties with coastal energy-producing states, as called for in the Senate energy bill. And now, the administration is insisting that Louisiana pay half the cost of the $785 million in coastal restoration projects included in the House water resources bill.

Florida paid half the cost of restoring the Everglades, and the president's position is that what was good enough for them is good enough for us. But that's dreadfully unfair. Most of the other waterway and conservation projects in the water resources bill require only a 35 percent local match. Louisiana shouldn't be subjected to a more punitive formula.

As Sen. David Vitter points out, federal policy -- including gas exploration and leveeing of the Mississippi -- has contributed to this state's erosion woes.

The consequences for Louisiana are dire: We lose 24 square miles annually to erosion, leaving people and property more vulnerable to destructive storms. Erosion also threatens oil and gas networks, fisheries and waterways that serve the entire country.

Louisiana's coastal restoration plans carry a $14 billion pricetag. If President Bush prevails on the issue of how large the state's burden should be, Louisiana will have an even tougher time reversing the damage that's claimed 1.2 million acres of coast.

Louisiana's congressional delegation seems confident that the funding formula pushed by the Bush administration won't stand, and that's reassuring. But fighting the forces of subsidence, wind and water is tiring enough. Louisiana shouldn't have to keep fighting the executive branch.

And here's a snippet from yesterday's editorial, titled "Is there a Price?":

President Bush himself has said he would fire anyone who leaked Plame's name. Mr. McClellan has said anyone involved in exposing her should be fired "at a minimum." He also said, "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."

The available evidence suggests that Mr. Rove has violated what Mr. McClellan and President Bush himself have suggested are White House standards. If the evidence pans out, and the president is serious about upholding those standards, Mr. Rove needs to go.
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Congratulations to Lafayette!! 

They voted overwhelmingly to finance an all "fiber" telecommunications infrastructure that will allow Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) to offer cable TV, telephone and high-speed Internet service through a fiber-optic network. There will be no monopolies by Cox or BellSouth over Lafayette's information "superhighway".

This is a huge, pioneering step for Lafayette, and I hope New Orleans takes notice. I'm very impressed by the turnout (nearly 50% in some precincts) and the margins (nearly 2 to 1).

Go over and congratulate John at Lafayette Pro-Fiber. You may remember him from his guest-posts at Timshel. John has worked tirelessly on this cause for over a year, and deserves a lot of credit for fighting the good fight in the face of some powerful opposition.

Press on, Lafayette! Show the rest of the "gret stet" how it's done.
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