Friday, March 03, 2006

White girls, act quickly! 

The General alerts us to a worldly gent who is currently looking for that special someone.

He claims his stare is fiercer than Chuck Norris'.
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Friday ten 

By musical artist:

1. Willie Nelson

2. Mozart

3. Morphine

4. New York Dolls

5. Fats Domino

6. Cowboy Mouth

7. Zigaboo Modeliste

8. Klezmer All-Stars

9. Bowie (he's in the title)

10. MC Hammer

Lagniappe: Everyone!
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

The best thing about bein' a wingnut, is the prerogative to get a little dumb...dumb... DUMB 

Suffering these fools who are parsing and defending Bush's famous idiotic statement about no one anticipating the levees breaching makes me want to start dealing with my insurance and mortgage companies again.

Jeezm pete's!

Real quick: four days after Katrina hit President Bush said "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees". I'm sure that's true, insofar as he is referring to his own thoughts. However, factually, that is so untrue, so blatantly false, that it's almost criminal. But, because it's so embarrassing given recently released videos Rove's little helpers are choosing to defend it. How can they possibly do that, you wonder? Well, they point to the weather guy on the video who said overtopping, and they point to Bush who said "breaching" and they triumphantly declare "No inconsistency whatsoever!"

Wow. Let's have a public debate in New Orleans on Bush's point, that nobody "anticipated the breach of the levees". Can we do that? Please? I'll invite the entire legion of participants from the Hurricane Pam disaster simulation exercise, as well as all of the scientific sources that contributed to the Times-Picayune's series entitled "Washing Away".

First a refresher on Hurricane Pam:

Reuters reported that in 2004, more than 40 state, local and volunteer organizations practiced a scenario in which a massive hurricane struck and levees were breached, allowing water to flood New Orleans. Under the simulation, called "Hurricane Pam," the officials "had to deal with an imaginary storm that destroyed more than half a million buildings in New Orleans and forced the evacuation of a million residents," the Reuters report said.

In 2002 the New Orleans Times-Picayune ran a five-part series exploring the vulnerability of the city. The newspaper, and other news media as well, specifically addressed the possibility of massive floods drowning residents, destroying homes and releasing toxic chemicals throughout the city...

Scientists long have discussed this possibility as a sort of doomsday scenario.

On Sunday, a day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Ivor van Heerden, director of the Louisiana State University Public Health Research Center in Baton Rouge, said, "This is what we've been saying has been going to happen for years."

"Unfortunately, it's coming true," he said, adding that New Orleans "is definitely going to flood."

In short, there was not a worst case scenario about catastrophic flooding in New Orleans-- whether by levee breach, overtopping or a stalled hurricane downpour-- that hadn't been anticipated by scientists. Hell, even the pissant blog you're reading constantly referred to the hellish "balls of floating fire ants" scenario umpteen times before Katrina came to pass.

Indeed, the Times-Picayune specifically addresses the levees breaching in its "Washing Away" series from part one entitled "The Big One".

...New Orleans has hurricane levees that create a bowl with the bottom dipping lower than the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. Though providing protection from weaker storms, the levees also would trap any water that gets inside -- by breach, overtopping or torrential downpour -- in a catastrophic storm.

"Filling the bowl" is the worst potential scenario for a natural disaster in the United States, emergency officials say... The projected death and destruction eclipse almost any other natural disaster that people paid to think about catastrophes can dream up. .." Catastrophic disasters are best defined in that they totally outstrip local and state resources, which is why the federal government needs to play a role," Allbaugh said. "There are a half-dozen or so contingencies around the nation that cause me great concern, and one of them is right there in your back yard."

In concert with state and local officials, FEMA is studying evacuation procedures, postdisaster rescue strategies, temporary housing and technical issues such as how to pump out water trapped inside the levees, said Michael Lowder, chief of policy and planning in FEMA's Readiness, Response and Recovery directorate....

"Another scenario is that some part of the levee would fail," [LSU engineer Joseph] Suhayda said. "It's not something that's expected. But erosion occurs, and as levees broke, the break will get wider and wider.

Uh oh. Did Suhayda say breaching is not "expected"? That would seem to aid this administration and its intrepid defenders. Fine. I'll grant that breaching wasn't "expected". It was surprising, but by the same token the catastrophic results were certainly "anticipated", as well. They were anticipated by many of the same people who were concerned about the possibility of levee breaches. Are the Bushies basically submitting that government should not be prepared for the unexpected? Is that it? Is that the point they want to fight about; that it's ok when the government, once again, is caught totally off-guard by its failure of imagination?

No. Even the GOP-dominated House report wouldn't degrade itself so far as to tow that bullshit line in its report on the Katrina aftermath.

Over a thousand people die in metro New Orleans and this administration wants to find a way to justify a patently stupid and false claim. There were many who anticipated a scenario wherein levees could fail. But the wingnuts want to distinguish between overtopping and breaching like they are two discrete categories.... I mean, doesn't even a second-rate mind understand that overtopping might lead to a breach? Doesn't even a fool understand that massive overtopping from storm surge-- even if the levees held-- would have similarly catastrophic results? The defense of Bush's comment implies that somehow the feds were prepared for the New Orleans "bowl" filling via massive overtopping, but not due to an "unanticipated" breach. That seems to be the logic-- otherwise, I see absolutely no substantive point to this whole kerfluffle other than silly wordgames. Come the freak on-- hundreds of Americans died here!! Do they really want to have a political fight over this phantom "point"? What an insult to the families devastated by Katrina!!

Rather than retract an idiotic statement, they want to belatedly parse Bush's words for political cover-- words that I don't even think the president fully understood at the time he uttered them. The president said he didn't think anybody anticipated the levees breaching. That's the claim. And these repellent vultures want to busily defend that claim, and tell you that "there was no public speculation or warning that the levees would actually collapse".

Does anyone believe that?

Further, these little elves start reading off talking points about which they have no apparent knowledge. They submit that levees breaching versus overtopping is the difference between "your bathtub overflowing, which makes a mess, and collapsing, which is a disaster."

Not if you live in a bowl, dumbass. The T-P explains:

If enough water from Lake Pontchartrain topped the levee system along its south shore, the result would be apocalyptic. Vast areas would be submerged for days or weeks until engineers dynamited the levees to let the water escape. Some places on the east bank of Orleans and Jefferson parishes are as low as 10 feet below sea level. Adding a 20-foot storm surge from a Category 4 or 5 storm would mean 30 feet of standing water.

Whoever remained in the city would be at grave risk. According to the American Red Cross, a likely death toll would be between 25,000 and 100,000 people...

Disasterous enough for ya?

Are these the same folks arguing that civil war in Iraq would be a good thing?
H/T Dead Pelican
Update: Da po blog and moldy city have more analysis.
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Farewell, until we meat again 

Some good Mardis Gras pics and posts over at People Get Ready and Adrastos.

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I know good news just isn't as much fun... 

... but New Orleans had a wildly successful Mardis Gras.

If you read the Dead Pelican's news links, you're no doubt fully updated on the disabled Shreveporter's stolen trike, and the exact skin-coloring of Mayor Nagin's horse.

But, believe it or not, Da Paper has another report that might be worth your time:

Spectacular weather, larger-than-expected crowds and relatively exemplary conduct highlighted a two-week celebration that city officials hope will serve as a catalyst for the economic and psychological recovery of the storm-ravaged city.

Even with crowds at only about 70 percent of normal years, tourism officials said early projections indicated a $200 million economic impact from Carnival's second weekend and incalculable benefits in positive exposure from national and international media.
Sandy Shilstone, the president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., said an unprecedented 1,250 credentials were issued by the city to more than 300 news outlets worldwide. Shilstone said news outlets from just about every continent, including every European country, as well as Russia, Taiwan, Australia and China were represented.

"It reversed months of negative imagery," said Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan and Convention Bureau. "CNN broadcast eight consecutive hours of nonstop coverage. You could not put a price tag on that type of value."

Perry estimated the two-weekend turnout was about 70 percent the size of recent years, but that number was due primarily to unusually low numbers on the first weekend, when the weather was overcast and chilly. Perry said crowds Sunday and Tuesday were as strong as ever, based on anecdotal evidence.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association also issued a positive report, despite mustering less than a third of its pre-Katrina work force. It was too early to tell Wednesday, but anecdotal evidence suggests the restaurant business was hopping throughout the weekend, especially in the French Quarter and Uptown.
Arrests were down almost 60 percent from 2005, and beyond the hit-and-run, no major incidents related to Mardi Gras were reported, New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley said.
At Touro Infirmary, the emergency room staff had been beefed up because the hospital is slightly more than a block from the Uptown parade route on St. Charles Avenue.

But the predicted 40 percent increase "never materialized
," Touro spokeswoman Debbie Reed said, adding that the hospital actually had fewer emergency cases than had been anticipated.

"This leads us to believe that the revelers were paying more attention to recommendations that they practice moderation and have a safe and well Carnival season this year," she said.

Mebbe that. Or perhaps we just got lucky. Still, the entire city deserves credit for having a successful Mardis Gras under such extremely challenging circumstances. Bravo! Why is this important? Because, in a recent poll about half the country thought we shouldn't celebrate Mardis Gras, and 78% thought New Orleans wasn't ready to return as a tourist destination. It's very important that we proved those pessimists wrong.

Having fun is our business, and business is good!
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

His highness, the King of Zembla... 

... describes some poll results that will utterly gast your flabbers.
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This is how we mambo'd 

The Oyster family had an exceedingly good Carnival and Mardis Gras this year. We celebrated the end of our nomadic existence amongst temporary residences (the most recent being a cramped 1 bedroom apartment) and moved into a new house in Uptown, just steps from the parade routes.

We hosted Big Event at our new place, and enjoyed the parades. Then Saturday night we toasted Ratboy and Ratgirl, who eloped in Chicago and drove down to New Orleans to celebrate with friends. Ratboy's friend at Antoine's hooked us up with the private 1840 room, the scene of many a decadent affair. The food was good, the wine tasty, and the company was great. Lovely read passages from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands", which immediately transforms any gathering of people into a cultured, high-brow salon.

In short, we were in the French Quarter during Mardis Gras weekend at the oldest restaurant in America eating oysters rockefeller, and laughing with friends.... what more could one possibly desire?

Then, on Superkrewe Sunday, standing on a crowded street during the Endymion parade, I hear a guy behind me shouting into his cellphone, saying something along the lines of "Murph, you are missing the greatest day in the history of Mardis Gras!!" I turned around, and who should I find but the legendary Ricky Prado, author of Timshel!! (Timshel, btw, was, for my money, the best blog in Louisiana.) Ricky and I hadn't seen each other in a long while and marvelled over the chance encounter. He introduced me to his brother, Big Shot, who embarrassed me with praise (and couldn't believe that he had just missed meeting my personal oyster-griller, Dillyberto, who was with us earlier).

So that was serendipitous and cool. Everyone agreed that Murph was missing out big time.

On Lundis Gras I went to El One Eyed Jackador to groove with Quintron, Miss Pussycat and friends. They are motherscratchin' badazzes, to be sure. Peaches, on the other hand, didn't do much for me.

On a spectacularly beautiful Mardis Gras day, the family watched parades and went to a local park so Pearlgirl could romp around. The Big Event went to the Marigny to party on down, and was probably at the DBA when Michael and Scout Prime were there.

Like I said, serendipitous and cool.
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2 million doubloons 

For someone who partied at DBA on Fat Tuesday, Michael did an absolutely tremendous job of political blogging this Ash Wednesday. Read his four posts and visit his links for everything you need to know.

How can someone be so focused the day after?
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"I love the Saints, but I love the Saints fans even more." 

That's what a former Louisiana Governor said recently.

And I agree. Case in point: Mistah Clio, costumed in splendiferous gold foam.
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"Why aren't any of these people ever at my poker table?" 

A damn good question in a damn entertaining piece at the American Prospect.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"If people see tax dollars wasted, support will wane." 

Title quote courtesy of Gulf Coast reconstruction czar Donald Powell.

That's an interesting point Powell makes. American support for a project is weakened when tax dollars are wasted. Thus, waste is inimical to our country's goals. Put baldly: Waste begets... weakness.

The terrorist evildoers must chortle ominously when our grand Republic ignores the preventable waste of scores of billions of dollars. They are no doubt-- dare I say it?-- emboldened!

However, people must "see" the waste occurring. Yes, I forgot to include that subtlety from Folksy Don's statement. According to him, the public must see the waste for their support to wane. If they are not aware of it, massive waste could conceivably occur without hindering public support for a national mission.

OK. Let's keep Powell's inpirational nugget in the back of our minds while we review some more information.

The latest CBS poll (.pdf) shows that 59% of respondents favored cutting Iraq war spending to help pay for hurricane recovery. Only 33% disagreed.

Now, that's rather interesting. I don't wish to extrapolate, but those numbers make me want to know whether, at this point in time, the majority of Americans view Katrina reconstruction or Iraq nation-building as the bigger waste of money. Unfortunately, enormous amounts of money are being wasted in both "parts of the world". Perhaps, if current practices persist, the country will give up on both Iraq and the Gulf Coast.

That brings me to a recent article in The Progressive , which makes some connections about expenditures in Iraq and New Orleans:

The Bush Administration seems to be applying the same wasteful, crony-capitalist model in both Iraq and New Orleans.

In Iraq, the Times reports that fuel transportation costs under the no-bid contract with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root were triple what other companies charged to do the same job. And Kellogg Brown & Root was charging 40 percent more for a gallon of gas than what the military paid when it bypassed the subcontractor and got the fuel for itself.

Still, the Army is paying all but 3.8 percent of the disputed amount of Halliburton's bill. The Times analysis shows just how irregular that decision is. In recent years ,the military has withheld between 56 and 75 percent of payments questioned by auditors.

Could it be that the company's relationship with former Halliburton chief executive Vice President Dick Cheney helped grease the wheels?

As Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, put it: "Halliburton gouged the taxpayer, government auditors caught the company red-handed, yet the Pentagon ignored the auditors and paid Halliburton hundreds of millions of dollars and a huge bonus."

Forget Dubais Ports International. Americans should be worrying about what the Bush Administration's corporate buddies are doing with their noncompetitive government contracts.


Interfaith Worker Justice points out that the $29 billion in spending Congress OK'd for Katrina relief in December is offset by budget cuts that affect Katrina's victims. Medicaid cutbacks are just one example. Another is, incredibly, $23.4 billion cut from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. And 20 percent of Katrina relief funds are allocated for the military. "This is particularly questionable when no public discussion or planning has occurred about whether military facilities in the Gulf should be rebuilt, and while funding for community development is insufficient," the group reports.

More soon.
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YRHT is observing Mardis Gras 

Read the Scout should you need further perspective.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Ashley Morris:

Man, are these things beautiful. Here's a great idea, in the tradition of great architectural ideas following tragedies, and this probably won't see the light of day. I want to see these everywhere. For the price of a FEMA trailer, which have a life expectancy of less than a year, these can be built. They aren't eyesores, they fit just about anywhere architecturally, and they can be expanded. I wanna see some in purple. Hell, I want one in my backyard. I need the rental income to pay my newly raised Cox, Entergy, and Farmer's [insurance] rates.
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