Thursday, December 01, 2005

Just askin' 

Has the term "Clotheshorse" ever been more applicable?

Please pay me to advise you on issues of life and death.
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Stephanie Grace says: Get partisan! 

Stephanie Grace, columnist for the Times Picayune, has a doozy of an opinion piece in today's paper. Regrettably, it doesn't appear to be on the web yet. In short, she expresses surprise that Dean and the Dems are scheduling a convention this spring in New Orleans, and infers that Dems are going to make political hay over the rebuilding of N.O.. Then, in strong, direct language, Grace says that local Democratic officials should:

...let the (Democratic) national party use them, and... they should use the national party right back by telling their stories themselves.

They should reinforce the idea that, despite the obvious local and state missteps, the destruction of New Orleans was above all else a federally sponsored disaster-- caused by the Army Corps of Engineers and exacerbated by (FEMA)-- and that the government is therefore obligated to help the city recover.

They should echo the national Democrats' contention that the GOP policies have exacerbated the widespread and persistent poverty that Katrina laid bare. And they should ask whatever happened to President Bush's nationally televised vow to tackle the root causes of that poverty.

It would be nice if local politicians didn't need to make recovery a partisan issue, but it sure looks like appealing to Washington's better instincts isn't getting us very far. Shaming the nation's leaders into action-- well, at least it's a backup plan.

Yes Ma'am!

There are several things to comment on here-- unfortunately I don't have sufficient time at this library computer to say all I'd like. First, and foremost, the text of Bush's speech should not be filed away. It is a grand, soaring text with promises of enormous scope; Louisianans should remind the country about Bush's words at every opportunity. Second, the Dems have committed to Category Five levees; Bush and the GOP Congress want to "study" them. That's something to pound home. Third, another "backup plan" would be to move up Louisiana's presidential primary date (especially since the Dem nominating convention could easily go to another city). Doing that would insure that Feingold, Clark, Edwards, Clinton... get into a promising contest over rebuilding the Gulf Coast; and that's fine with me.

It would be a disaster if Louisiana isn't politically "in play" in 2008. The past two elections LA has licked Dubya's political boot, and received only empty rhetoric for its continued electoral support. (Regular readers recognize that cruel fact is the recurring theme of this blog.) Louisianans have been crying for help, and got next to nothing. Now we've been devastated by Katrina and federal incompetence, and Bush and the GOP want us to demonstrate our worthiness before doling out sufficient aid. Thanks a lot!

There are over 400 auditors overseeing how Louisiana spends federal money. That's far more than are overseeing the war profiteering occurring in the entire country of Iraq. But Bush needs to "study" levees, and he wants to give us a 2% down payment on saving America's wetlands. (See, unlike our ever-upright neighbors in Tejas, Louisianans can't be trusted with large chunks of money.) Bush's long forgotten promises for "bold action" in Katrina's aftermath seem like a quaint fantasy now. Similarly, Bush's allies are content to play the waiting game on Capitol Hill. They have time; we don't. And, even after the Mike Brown fiasco, Bush nominates a crony for Reconstruction Czar, who seems adept at not making the hard, fast federal commitments needed for tens of thousands of businesses to return here.

Swell, huh?

While gutting my house with dillyberto, my left leg fell through a hole in my floorboards. I was stuck, in pain, and contorted so that I couldn't move. Dilly came right over and helped me out of the hole and made sure that I wasn't seriously gashed. He didn't use that accident as an opportunity to lecture me on how I could improve my character. He didn't advise me that I should try to get out of the hole before he would lend me a hand. He didn't promise to help me out and then go into another room for an hour. He just came over and pulled me out. That seems to be the natural, human thing to do for a friend in such a circumstance.

Are Bush and his GOP colleagues Louisiana's friends? After a review of the evidence, who could possibly answer in the affirmative?

So, yeah, I'm entirely sympathetic to the partisan angle (on a national basis). This radical, borrow and spend GOP Congress-- who loves nation-building Iraq-- has real nerve to suddenly see the light of fiscal conservatism after an unprecedented disaster on American soil. Allowing Louisiana's future, nay, existence to be decided by these folks is like giving an ape a gun-- not a sound decision.

I welcome Grace's backup plan.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Editor of Da Paper pens Op-ed for Wapo 

Nicely done, I thought.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ashley makes some modest proposals 

Link-- (not for the young)
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(If you're a fan, read the resolution and remind me to use this during the next swiftboating: "Do your chickenhawks have large talons?")
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"Incredible... a gangsta" 

Who am I to disagree with that characterization? I will yield to 50 Cent's authority on the matter.
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No grudges, apparently 

Howard Dean apparently has no petty grudges against N.O.. That's a relief.


The Democratic National Committee will bring about 400 people to New Orleans for its first meeting of 2006 to help rebuild the Gulf area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

DNC chairman Howard Dean says the three-day meeting will begin April 20, the weekend of the French Quarter Festival.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

U.S. Col. dies wondering how honor is possible in Iraq 

From a wrenching LAT piece that should be read in its entirety:

[Col. Ted Westhusing], 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.

His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.

On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.

A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?
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They all asked for your return 

While I met with an SBA adjuster, Lovely and Pearlgirl joined the other 66,000 folks who enjoyed the reopening of the Audubon Zoo this weekend. What a great, hopeful sign that was for the community!

Speaking of hopeful reopenings, can I get an "Amen!" for this one:

St. Dominic, one of New Orleans' largest Catholic churches, held its first Mass in three months in a neighborhood with no electricity, no commerce and no residents.

More than 1,200 people, many coming from temporary homes hundreds of miles away, filled every folding chair and stood three-deep for a service that was part spiritual, part homecoming.
St. Dominic's reopening was a milestone in the comeback of Lakeview, an upper-middle-class community built largely after World War II that sustained some of the worst flood damage.

Storefronts next to the church are gutted. Nearby houses sit empty behind small brown lawns and foothills of garbage.

The church lacks power. The pews are gone-- they rotted while 12 feet of water flooded the nave. However, the white-brick building had little damage except for a few broken stained-glass windows.

The Rev. Donald Dvorak bought 500 folding chairs and wine glasses to replace goblets that were destroyed. A cleaning company provided a generator. And Dvorak borrowed a parishioner's public-address system so everyone could hear his reassurance.

"As far as the Dominicans are concerned, we are committed to St. Dominic Parish," Dvorak said to a burst of applause that rippled off the brick walls and terrazzo floor.
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This holiday season, I'll see you at the Mall 

During an interview this morning on 870am, Rep Bobby Jindal said that he thought a march on Washington by Louisianans was a "great idea". Twice.
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Sunday, November 27, 2005


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2004 Vice Presidential Debate:
"I ask an awful lot of questions as part of my job as vice president." -- VP Richard Cheney:

Here's a couple Dick asked on 11/21/05

Would the United States and other free nations be better off or worse off with Zarqawi, bin Laden and Zawahiri in control of Iraq? Would we be safer or less safe with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?

PGL at Angry Bear found the perfect response to his query. Enjoy!
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