Saturday, August 19, 2006

RT at the AME 

Stop by the Rising Tide table at the Alternative Media Expo, and buy advance tickets to the main event!
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Dept. of Wish They Asked Him This: 

White House Spokesman Tony "Informer" Snow:
[It's] important to realize that the Lebanese government will be in charge of disarming Hezbollah, and we expect that to happen.

History Professor R. Shenkman:
If the United States of America can't disarm the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, how can we expect Lebanon to do so?

We have been trying for 3 years. We have spent upwards of $300 billion. And we have had the use of an army of 140,000 soldiers.

Lebanon has nowhere near our resources or unity.

So I ask again: How can we expect them to do so?

licky boom-boom down
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My new After the Levees post is finally up. Its provocative title is: "Oil: the cause of, and solution to, all of LA's problems".

Nick from the Conservative Cajun has been rightly fixated on increased royalties for Louisiana in recent months, and his open-minded approach to the matter shows that this is an issue that folks of all political persuasions can and should support. I encourage you to read his archived posts about oil and revenue-sharing if you have the time.
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Norbizness + "security mom" mention = must read 

His new HFPST post is not in analogy form (like this classic) but it's quite entertaining, and concludes like this:

One of the finest living Constitutions ever written, and the people charged to uphold it are going to be busy making television commercials to these hoople-headed [swing voter] nimrods explaining why they're no Osama-lovers, no sirree, in order to get elected/re-elected. Politics makes strange bedfellows with people who give you constant Dutch ovens.

Further explanation here.
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These vultures piss in the milk of my good nature! 

Front Page in today's Times Picayune:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency classified a joint venture with headquarters in California and Texas as a local outfit in both Louisiana and Mississippi this year when the agency awarded travel trailer contracts that were supposed to benefit small local firms, records show.

The contractual process, which according to FEMA guidelines was explicitly designed to favor companies from areas directly hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, led to four deals of up to $100 million each for PRI/DJI Inc., a joint venture that the federal contracting register lists as a San Diego company. That is because PRI is a minority-owned firm based in California, while DJI is shorthand for Del-Jen Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fluor Corp. of Irving, Texas.

FEMA's action is reigniting protests from Mississippi contractor Tim White, who has formally filed protests about the agency's contracting practices.

To date, only 13% of hurricane related contracts granted by FEMA have gone to local firms.

Much more analysis of greedhead disaster profiteering at Wet Bank Guide.

As an antidote, the Evil Center pens an encomium For WDSU's Song for New Orleans documentary celebrating one of the city's great culture-producers: Rebirth Brass Band. It was very good and I also recommend it heartily.
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Katrina made me do it 

How did y'all let me miss the news about Claude Allen's tearful guilty plea? You remember Claude, right? He was the highly compensated White House advisor who stole from Target twenty-five times between 10/29/05 and 1/02/06.

Well, guess what he eventually blamed his thieving spree on?

Prior to his sentencing, Allen apologized for his thievery and explained that his actions were due to a lack of sleep-- he was, after all, forced to work 14-hour days-- as well as high levels of stress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Question: Would the ultra-conservative Allen have accepted that excuse from the New Orleans residents who were recently convicted for looting alchohol during the Katrina disaster? Probably not.

Fortunately, the prosecution and Montgomery County (Md.) Circuit Court Judge Eric Johnson was far more merciful than Claude Allen would have likely been. Although he was facing up to 15 years in prison for each of the 25 counts of felony theft, he was able to plead down to a single misdemeanor. Since he was sentenced to 18 months of "probation before judgment" --the three Katrina liquor looters, on the other hand, were given 15 years of Federal time [each]-- Allen won't end up with a criminal record nor will he lose his license to practice law.

The Bush administration repeatedly expressed it's "zero tolerance" for looting in the wake of Katrina. No doubt they would've approved of the 15 year sentences handed out to 3 looters who stole some warm wine coolers after the storm. After all, that's the maximum penalty.

Now, a top White House advisor ($161k salary), who Bush nominated to be a federal judge, and who Bush put in charge of the White House Katrina Task force has decided to blame his own post-storm "looting" on the incredible stress the disaster inflicted on him. What EXACTLY did Claude Allen do after Katrina, anyway? That's what I want to know. WTF did he do? And who gets thoroughly stressed out, and then waits a couple months to "blow of some steam" by repeatedly robbing Target stores? Someone with some serious psychological issues, that's who.

Perhaps New Orleanians can send Claude some sympathy cards for all the stress Katrina caused him.

What a little Muckfook. Call me soft on looting, but I have more "tolerance" for those looters than I do for Claude Allen's repeated thievery and excuse-making. But they're slated for 45 years in prison for stealing a cart full of warm hooch, and he's gonna get 40 hours of community service plus probation.

H/T to the G Bitch Spot
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White House competes with Hezbollah to rebuild Lebanon 

Los Angeles Times:

The Bush administration is scrambling to assemble a plan to help rebuild Lebanon, hoping that by competing with Hezbollah for the public's favor it can undo the damage the war has inflicted on its image and goals for the Middle East.

Administration officials fear that unless they move quickly to demonstrate U.S. commitment, the Lebanese will turn more fully to the militant group, which has begun rolling out an ambitious reconstruction program that Washington believes is bankrolled by Iran.
A major rebuilding investment would put the United States in the position of subsidizing both the Israeli munitions that caused the damage and the reconstruction work that will repair it.

Update: Billmon gets in on it.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Freedom mold 

Fox warned us that this would happen. But Nooo, you wouldn't listen.

Failed levees are indeed breeding terrorist symapathizerists on the internet. Let the list making begin.

Backstabbing, Impure-of-Essence, America-hating, Appeasenik Whiners:

1. Harry Shearer

2. Mr. Clio

3. Spike Lee

4. These hippies

5. Boyd Blundell ... and who knows how many others?

Since the divine march of global freedom necessitates doing the exact opposite of terrorist groups, we should therefore NOT quickly rebuild New Orleans like the evil ones are doing in Lebanon. And thank goodness our local and national leaders understand this principle!! So far, so good. But there is always the danger that uppity disaster bloggers will undercut the national resolve... That is the only way our powerful nation could lose-- by giving in to weakness and imitating our enemies' desire to rebuild.

New Orleans will just have to take one for the team, and let the destruction stand. If we rebuild quickly-- and imitate Lebanon and Iran-- then the Islamist/Jihadist/Salafist/Wahabbiist terr'ists will win. That's entirely unacceptable. Mark my words, this is only the beginning, too. As more and more sympathizerists are discovered, all kinds of sinister plots might come to light. For example: remember that supposedly "generous" $60 million gift Qatar made to New Orleans back in May? Well, now Qatar is also aiding Lebanon! What does that tell ya about their motives?

If you love this country you'll stop rebuilding at once, because that's what the terrorists would want you to do.

Now is the time to act. Start confiscating hammers and wood, like a good patriot. Next, let's petition Baton Rouge to officially rename "toxic mold" to "freedom mold".

That would make me proud.

Thanks to reader Rahlyn
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Adapting to Spin 

Needlenose brings us this quote about Iraq:

When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75. When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90.

For a good summary of my over-arching opinion on the Iraq blunder, I think this post from last year still holds up pretty well.

For today, I'll just quote from George Will's latest column, "The Triumph of Unrealism". There's a few delicious turns of phrase for the "reality" based community:

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement has validated John Kerry's belief that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:

"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."
The official is correct that it is wrong "to think that somehow we are responsible -- that the actions of the jihadists are justified by U.S. policies." But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that. It is more dismaying that someone at the center of government considers it clever to talk like that. It is the language of foreign policy -- and domestic politics -- unrealism.

Foreign policy "realists" considered Middle East stability the goal. The realists' critics, who regard realism as reprehensibly unambitious, considered stability the problem. That problem has been solved.

Update: I gotta add this quote from Josh Marshall:

Is there anyone in the country who can say honestly, in their heart of hearts, that when that moment of fear hit them after the recent reports out of London, they said to themselves, "God, I'm glad we're in Iraq"?

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do you often use made-up names that you can't explain? 

I know he's got his hands full right now, but can someone ask Rep. Bobby Jindal if Presidential aspirant Senator George Allen has a funny nickname for his hairstyle?

Update: Senator Allen apologizes "if" the man was offended by Allen's (likely racist) remark. Video here.
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Grab a beverage and make time to watch a Katrina story documented by Scout Prime. Tom and Jen are Chalmatians who road out the storm and describe their story in fascinating, true-to-life detail. I was both charmed and transfixed, and think you will be too. (There's 3 Youtube segments in all, and I defy you to watch one of them without watching them all.)

Here is a teaser description from the interview: "Tom and Jen rescue their elderly neighbors who were trapped in their attic. The elderly couple had been standing on an 1 1/2" pipe for 12 hours in water up to their neck...."

Hearty thanks to Scout Prime for this video. As a reminder, you'll have a chance to see Scout Prime in person at The Rising Tide Conference.
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Granny Gets a Vibrator... and cancer 

Liz is one of the most interesting bloggers in da gret stet, and she's now (among other things) documenting her experience fighting "Brenda", her tumor. Go read her defiant, endearing blog if you have not seen it already. Then send a supportive comment her way.
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Your assignments 

1. Read my new "After the Levees" column. (Don't be skeered to comment, either.)

2. Then go to the Rising Tide Conference blog, read about it, get excited, register to attend, and pass the link to all your friends.

Easy peasy!
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Monday, August 14, 2006

I dare you to not click this coolness 

Don't Do it!
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Do you read what I read? 

1. State Treasurer John "Sickness Unto Death" Kennedy had a good gubmint piece in the NYT. The Vandy philosophy major threw in a Plato quote to titillate his fellow lovers of wisdom in the gret stet.

2. World Class alerts us to the following news item: "The head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who in June admitted that design flaws in the levees his agency built to protect New Orleans caused most of the flooding during Hurricane Katrina, has asked to retire, the Army said on Thursday."

3. Keep an eye out for Boyd Blundell's next post at After the Levees. It should be up sometime this morning and promises to be chock-full of insight and incite.

4. I'll tell ya, after a short while in Chicago, it was difficult to return to the "new normal" of post-K New Orleans. All the inconveniences and burdens and stressors (large and small) are much more vivid once you leave them for a bit and enjoy a clean, beautiful, high-functioning city which reserves its outrage for things like improperly disposed cig butts.

Lovely didn't want to leave Chicago. I told her she hadn't felt winter there.

Richard felt similarly after coming back from a stay in San Francisco:

I've also been busy re-adjusting to New Orleans. That's been a challenge, with every pile of garbage, every unmowed lawn, every un-gutted house evoking gnawing comparisons to the hyper-clean, hyper-cute, hyper-efficient San Francisco. If I'd vacationed someplace... with visible imperfections-- it would've been easier to come home to a city that's imperfect in the best of times, and now is most definitely not the best of times.

5. Our Rising Tide blogger convention has room for one more panelist, and we're aiming for a diversity of viewpoints... hmm.

6. Old school inspiration. (Fave episode: Plato's Stepchildren -- via)
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

"This is a clear, coherent, weirdly compelling narrative" 

The Times Picayune reviews Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and The Failure of Homeland Security. I am halfway through it, and already consider it essential reading. If you have any interest in Katrina or the DHS, you MUST own this book. (And no, I'm not just saying that because the authors will be featured at the Rising Tide conference. They could back out at the last minute and I'd still be a cheerleader for this book.)

[Chris Cooper and Robert Block] have provided a considerable public service in tracing the institutional failures of the Department of Homeland Security. As they make clear in their introduction, this is a story of top-down failure, of a bureaucracy that offers no room for the creative response, the nimble acquisition and deployment of resources....

Cooper and Block take the reader through the paces of the founding of the Department of Homeland Security; the folding of FEMA under that umbrella; the glory days of disaster management under Clinton appointee James Lee Witt, who understood that all disasters were political; and FEMA's decline under Joe Allbaugh, a George W. Bush appointee, and of course, Michael Brown, who presided over the loss of financial and political clout during the agency's weakest period.
Cooper and Block are quick to give credit to those activists who took matters into their own hands, in vivid narratives describing the efforts of the "Cajun flotilla," those volunteer fishers who rescued stranded people; Plaquemines Parish President Benny Rousselle, whose creative approach to evacuating citizens was checking driver's licenses and handing out keys to 400 school buses; and Carl LeBouef, who rescued animals.
But perhaps one of the greatest heroes of this story is DHS bureaucrat Douglas Doan, who fielded a call from Wal-Mart executives who were angry over the National Guard looting their stores. Doan has a creative turn of mind and suggested that the Wal-Mart officials consider this an "unusual procurement" and keep the supply lines open and bill the department. With this promise of payment, Wal-Mart officials agreed to push supplies to the Gulf Coast. Homeland Security officials were angered by the deal and reprimanded Doan, threatening him with legal action. He signed a statement that said, "I did it. I would do it again. The president would agree with it." So much for rewarding creative responders who really made a difference. The bill from Wal-Mart? A mere $300,000.
The only thing that might have hot-wired the response to the Gulf Coast disaster was timing: If 2005 had been an election year, things might have been very different. So read "Disaster" before you step into a voting booth again. There are some hard questions still to be answered.

"Hard questions" indeed. Many bloggers, including myself, have said that there is plenty of blame to go around regarding the Katrina aftermath. While this is a rather easy, superficial analysis, authors Cooper and Block demonstrate that this was a top-down failure in extremely significant ways. We'll have much more to say about this in coming weeks, and every American should care, too, because disaster can strike anywhere.

I do not share Douglas Doan's confidence that President Bush would have agreed with his tactic of looting Wal-Marts for vital supplies under the rubric of "unusual procurement". No, see, the White House stated repeatedly that they had "zero tolerance" for looting-- even for food and water. "Zero tolerance" means zero tolerance, right? That means Doan's on-the-ground creativity would not have been acceptable to the Bush administration, right?

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