Saturday, September 16, 2006

"A 21st century rivalry" 

I'll try to be diplomatic about this, but since I'm a Florida State fan, and sports columnists are complaining about how the FSU-Miami rivalry has lost its luster, and LSU fans are proclaiming-- one week after #1 Ohio St. defeated #2 Texas-- that the contest with Auburn is the "Game of The Millennium", perhaps I should weigh in here.

Now, I hope the LSU-Auburn match-up becomes the "21st Century rivalry" that LSU sports labels it. Lord knows recent contests between the schools have been memorable, interesting, smoking, and even seismic.

But let me tell ya: from a Florida college football fan's perspective, this is child's play.

Now, if, say, LSU remained at its current level and dominated the SEC for a decade and was still the THIRD best team in Louisiana, then Tiger fans would have a good taste of what if was like in Florida from the mid-eighties through 2001 or so.

Spurrier owned the SEC, but was 5-8-1 against Bobby Bowden-- and, as we all know, Bowden had his troubles with Miami, often in classic confrontations where up to 54 future NFL players were on the field. Fifty Four.

The main thing, though, about the Florida rivalries was that when you lost to your arch-rival, they didn't get to go back to rural Alabama and you didn't get to go back to Louisiana. No. Florida State fans had to live with Gator fans and Hurricane fans every day. And if you lost to one of your arch-rivals, there was no safe haven at work or school. You were always amongst fans of programs that you profoundly despised. You had to wait a year for the next chance at redemption, and it was always a very long year if you were not the winner, especially when each team was competing for national titles, year-in, year-out.

The notion of a rivalry this intense in a state with only one football school is something that LSU fans can't, I think, fully comprehend.

So, Geaux Tigers! Beat the... other Tigers, in the so-called "Game of the Millenium". Complain about the lack of coverage... etc. But, please beat those lousy Gators, as well. And if you should lose one of those hard-fought contests, sure, you'll feel bad. But trust me... as far as "Rivalries" go-- you got it easy.

Fun facts!

For 14 straight seasons (1987-2000), Florida State won 10+ games and finished in the top 5, playing for five championships and winning two. They were generally considered to be the second best team in the state over most of that span.

Bobby Bowden is 7-1 against LSU.

The Seminoles were undefeated at home for 9 straight seasons (92-00).

My favorite Seminoles team is still the '89 squad, quarterbacked by Peter Tom Willis (I see ya, P.T.!). That team beat LSU (at D.V.) as well as Auburn (ranked #6), and then upset #1 ranked Miami in the Orange Bowl, 24-10. Then they beat Florida, and cremated Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. I wasn't the only person who thought they were the best team in the country when all was said and done, but the Miami Hurricanes ended up winning the National title that year.

Amazingly, the '89 FSU squad lost the first two games of the season. I vividly remember one of those losses, and I'll have more to say about that in my next post.
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Da Bears 

The Scotsman reports (via Americablog):

Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming.

Signs of wrenching changes are apparent around the Arctic region due to unusual warmth...

Some polar bears have been stranded at sea by rapidly melting ice, apparently.

Here's a story of a noble polar bear.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

News and Views to Peruse 

LA Times 9/13/06:

In his televised speech to the nation Monday, Bush said that U.S. security "depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad," setting a theme that Republicans hope will sustain support for the war and their candidates between now and November's elections.
Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a conservative Democrat and former Marine who has become an outspoken critic of the war, said that Iraq had become a crushing burden on the U.S. Army. The war has created equipment shortages and badly strained soldiers as well as Marines, Murtha said.

Pitt News (author blogs here):

President Bush said: "We're not leaving [Iraq] so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake."

January 21, 2009 is two and a half years from today, so that means at least two full rotations of troops into Iraq are still on the schedule.
The current rotation going into Iraq is composed of thirteen active duty Army and Marine brigade equivilants and one National Guard brigade. The US had been trying to draw down to six to ten brigades for this rotation in order to build breathing room into the rotation schedule, but reality intervened.
The two options for US force levels in Iraq are to either withdraw to the periphery, in either Kurdistan or Kuwait or to grind the Army into dust with third and fourth combat deployments of active duty formations. The National Guard will be able to help the Army out starting in the winter of 2008 as two former Enhanced Separate Brigades will see their deployment clocks reset to zero, but until then, if the United States Army is to maintain twelve or more brigade equivilants in Iraq, plus whatever the USMC can contribute, it is going to be an overwhelmingly active duty show.


[Rich Lowry 9/12/06:] There is no mystery as to what can make the crucial difference in the battle of Baghdad: American troops... The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment.

[Rich Lowry 4/14/06] The debate over troop levels will rage for years; it is... somewhat beside the point.

...[T]o think that higher troop levels would have been a magic bullet is to indulge a very American faith in the power of mass to overcome anything.

Times Picayune article 9/12/06):

Congress should reaffirm the nation's commitment to rebuilding Iraq, not question it, Louisiana's Republican senator said Monday after a two-day visit to the troubled Middle East nation.

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of the Al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States, Sen. David Vitter also said that Iraq is "a key battle in the global war against radical Islamic elements."
"Because the stakes are so high," said Vitter, who called the next four to six months critical to determining whether the fragile government, which has been beset with ethnic squabbles, will survive.
Vitter said he was encouraged by a U.S. military-led campaign to quell the mounting violence in Baghdad, where murders reached an all-time high of 1,800 in July. He said anecdotal evidence suggested that the violence had dropped markedly

ABC News via ThinkProgress(9/6/06):

It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total.... this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August - heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working - apparently didn't exist.

Billmon "The Far Enemy"

Like most extreme reactionary movements, Al Qaeda has no meaningful economic or political program (Land to the Tillers, All Power to the Soviets) to offer the Islamic masses. It's call for the strictest possible interpretation of Shari'a law is divisive and repels rather than attracts international sympathy. But what it does have going for it are wide and deep fears of cultural penetration and Western domination, and the ancient religious duty of all Muslims to defend Islam and the community of believers.

These are precisely the fears the administration and the neocons appear determined to stoke with their sweeping demands for "democratic" but slavishly pro-American regimes, privatization, women's rights, Western-style individualism, etc. Even worse, instead of using public diplomacy to highlight and, where possible, promote the enormous diversity of Islam, the Cheneyites are now doing precisely the opposite. They're conjuring up the spectre of a vast, monolithic and powerful Islamic fundamentalist movement, implacably hostile to the West. They're implicitly and even explicitly defining all who oppose their maximum program for a "new" Middle East as extremists -- the enemies of civilization.

They should be more careful what they wish for, because they might actually get it. This latest turn towards fear-mongering rhetoric is practically an open invitation to any Sunni Muslim who supports "traditional values" to line up with Al Qaeda. The Cheneyites are going to great lengths to alienate people who might otherwise find the jihadist ideology too radical and too destructive.

Times Picayune (9/12/06):

When he was put in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office last year, Special Agent Jim Bernazzani ranked the potential terrorist threats to New Orleans.

He feared terrorists might try to poke a hole in the levees, demolish the petrochemical industry, cripple the tourism economy or sink a ship in the Mississippi River.

Then Hurricane Katrina accomplished three of the four, he said. And although the country today is far safer -- though not safe enough -- New Orleans' current state makes it more vulnerable than ever in the eyes of the man who once led the agency's counter-terrorism efforts.

"I would never put it past a Sunni terrorist to bayonet the wounded," Bernazzani said. "They're diabolical, but they're smart."

Media Matters:

[Fox News]: All right, so, Fred, you and a few other journalists were in the Oval Office with the president, right, and he says catching Osama bin Laden is not job number one?

[FRED] BARNES: Well, he said, "Look, you can send 100,000 Special Forces" -- that's the figure he used -- "to the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan and hunt him down, but he just said that's not a top priority use of American resources."

USA Today (3/28/04):

In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.

The CIA, meanwhile, was stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan. When the White House raised a new priority, it took specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered.

Times (UK):

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No 2, said that "new events" which were on the way would seal the West's economic downfall, and urged Muslims to intensify their battle against the USA and the West.
[Al]-Sahab, al-Qaeda's media arm, released a 92-minute video entitled "The Manhattan Raids", which showed collated footage of bin Laden calling upon the hijackers of 9/11 to prepare themselves for martyrdom, as well as the wills of some of the men and clips showing them training at an unidentified location.

(H/T Blake)

TPM quotes a Fictional Congressional Candidate:

The president wants us to forget the mistakes he's made in Iraq. He says capturing bin Laden isn't a priority for him. And now he's off caught up in a fight with senators of his own party about which kinds of torture we should use. This president just can't or won't keep his eye on the ball. President Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan when bin Laden was in our grasp because he wanted to hurry up and get into Iraq. And now he wants us to forget about Iraq because he doesn't want to take responsibility for all the mistakes he's made in Iraq. The American people have a choice on November 7th. If you think our country is going in the right direction, if you think Iraq is making us safer, vote Republican. If you've had enough and think it's time for a change, vote Democratic.
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Very nice, yes 

Life Goes Off informs us that Bush will meet with the President of Kazakhstan and will discuss Borat.

Borat has a new movie coming out, and a preview of it can be found at the official Borat site (here's another). A lot more about Kazakhstan journalist Borat can be found at his Myspace siteand at Wikipedia. (Be sure to read the "beliefs" section.)

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It works both ways. 

Why do I focus on the Landrieu/Nagin election? Because it's instructive. Here's a future scenario that perhaps might be illuminating for Louisiana voters. Please look at this as an EXAMPLE of a way of thinking and politicking, not as a prediction or a perfect historical parallel. Find the similarities, not the differences.

In the fall of 2007, the major candidates running for Governor include Incumbent Gov Kathleen Blanco, Rep. Bobby Jindal, and State Treasurer John Kennedy. Many Democratic voters support Kennedy over Kathleen Blanco and Rep. Bobby Jindal in the open primary, but Kennedy loses. These "Kennedy Dems" represent a crucial swing vote, and have an important decision to make between Blanco and Jindal.

Despite being one of her toughest critics, Blanco offers Kennedy a special "Recovery Task Force" assignment and he reluctantly supports Blanco in the runoff and encourages his supporters to do the same.

During the 2007 campaign season, the popular Dead Oyster News Service asserts a false rumor that Rep. Bobby Jindal orchestrated his son's emergency live home birth as a media stunt to give him positive publicity. This generates a lot of discussion, and Jindal's forced to deny the rumor.

Blanco runs a surprisingly hard campaign, with many sly, murky digs at Jindal. One of Blanco's endlessly repeated phrases is that Jindal represents the "politics of the unknown". Bobby runs a sunny, optimistic campaign and doesn't call Blanco on her "smiling" attacks.

In what seemed like an unthinkable scenario in 2006, Blanco narrowly wins re-election over Jindal in what many considered to be one of the most important gubernatorial elections in Louisiana history. The national reaction to Blanco's re-election is almost uniformly negative. Citizens from other states regard this as the last straw, and decide that LA is too stupid to govern itself and should be defunded and written off as a hopeless basket-case.

Here are the "arguments" that the crucial Kennedy Dem swing vote uses to justify their decision to vote for Blanco:

Better the Devil you know, than the one you don't.

Jindal represents the "politics of the unknown".

Four more years of Blanco is better than eight more years of Jindal.

Blanco will endorse the Democratic candidate in the Presidential election of 2008, and Kennedy Dems want to strengthen the Democratic state party in LA so it will return to the "blue" column in national elections.

Blanco has been tested. She experienced a "$100 billion lesson in failure". We shouldn't waste that.

If Jindal became governor, he might try to help get FRC chairman Tony Perkins elected over Mary Landrieu in the Senatorial elections in 2008. And Kennedy Dems find that future scenario totally unacceptable.

The FRC endorsed Bobby Jindal.

George Bush endorsed and has come to LA to campaign for Bobby Jindal. The Bush family represents "political incest" at the very highest level, and I don't want a governor so closely connected to such political families.

During Blanco's primary win she was wearing a "Queen Bee" pin. What a charming sense of humor she has. It was then that I had "second thoughts" about her. Maybe, hopefully, she will change in substantive ways after being re-elected.

Bobby Jindal has weird hair.

The following summer, another hurricane hits South Louisiana. Blanco dithers, and the state is embarrassed on a national scale. Again. Jindal supporters are enraged, and smother their autos with "Don't Blame Me" bumper stickers. The crucial Kennedy swing voters then tell the Jindal crowd "Has it ever occurred to you that we might be just as unhappy as you are with Meemaw? The election's over. You need to 'get over it', and help the state rebuild rather than complaining all the time."

Is the above "parallel" exact? Of course not. History rhymes, it doesn't repeat. However, it's this sort of idiotic partisan non-thinking that will perhaps LITERALLY kill the state. It was certainly a factor in Nagin's reelection. Every single one of those hilariously stupid pro-Meemaw "arguments" you see listed above has a corollary with an "argument" used by conservatives who supported Nagin over Mitch Landrieu.

Can we learn from my depiction?
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I was afraid of this 

After the GOP-controlled Congress had scheduled so few full legislative "workdays" in the coming session (11 if my memory serves), I was worried that the all-important House-Senate oil-royalty negotiations would fall victim to the thin schedule, which precedes the contentious political season. During his Katrina tour two weeks ago, the President paid lip service to Louisiana's need for royalties to rebuild the wetlands before quickly turning to Iraq war speeches and demands for Congress to pass clarifying legislation for the CIA's secret prisons... etc.

According to today's article in the T-P, the outlook for the royalty bill seems to be grim:

With time running short on the congressional calendar, the House and Senate are engaged in a shoving match over how best to boost domestic offshore drilling, a standoff that jeopardizes Louisiana's chances of snagging a share of oil and gas royalties to pay for hurricane protection and coastal restoration.
So tense have things gotten that some members have suggested that a post-election, lame duck session might be the best time to strike a deal.
A growing consensus in both the House and the Senate is that a formal conference committee, where the principals hash out a deal and then take it back to their chambers for a vote, is unlikely.

This is not good. There are all kinds of tensions in this Energy/Royalty bill: House/Senate tension, Rep/Dem tension, and Oil Drilling/Non-drilling tensions, among others. This delicate balance seems much too involved and complicated for an election-year compromise. Perversely, perhaps, I suspect the giant oil find in the Gulf, which helped spur recent drops in oil futures and gas prices, will actually remove some of the pressure among some "swing vote" Legislators to pass a wetlands-restoring Energy bill by election day. (They won't feel as much gas pump rage from their constituents.)

The stakes couldn't be higher, and now we have Rep. Bobby Jindal-- who had previously repeatedly emphasized the need to pass this royalty bill in September before the election season got in full swing-- murmuring things like "There's a school of thought that it would be easier after the election because both sides wouldn't be posturing to get the credit."

Uggh. That's not a good tea leaf to read, at all. When you see a Jindal quote that doesn't include the words "I'm hopeful" or "I'm optimistic"... you know the situation is dire. Now it appears that only massive White House support could break the crucial deadlocks and get a bill moving, but the White House will probably not twist the necessary arms among GOP House members to formulate a compromise. That's not where they will choose to spend their "political capital" during this election season-- certainly not with Islamofascistjihadistappeasenik Democrats trying to retake the House.

Speaking of those Dems, let me remind Louisianans that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said that the Democratic party is committed to Category 5 flood protection for South Louisiana. Flat out. He hasn't "committed" to a dinky 3 year study about the mere possibility of Cat 5 protection. No, he has instead committed himself and his party to the real thing; rather than stringing us along, and trying to pass the buck to the next administration. Wouldn't it be beneficial to LA if someone like that were Senate Majority leader instead of Minority leader?

But oyster, what would happen if the Dems took control of the House, too? Well, I'm glad you asked. A recent T-P article reported:

Bills to help Katrina-stricken Gulf Coast residents by streamlining the insurance-claims process, making more affordable housing available, restoring coastal wetlands and giving states a bigger share of royalties on oil and gas produced off their coastlines will be among the first measures to be proposed if the Democrats take control of Congress in the November elections, members of that party's House caucus said Wednesday in New Orleans.

"Within the first 100 hours of the new Congress, you will see those things introduced," Caucus Chairman James Clyburn of South Carolina said at a news conference.
The briefing came at the end of a three-day trip that 25 House Democrats -- including their leader, Nancy Pelosi of California -- made at their own expense on the first anniversary of Katrina's assault to inspect the damage the storm inflicted on Louisiana and Mississippi.

"We were on hallowed ground, where people have lost their homes and their hearts," Pelosi said at a caucus breakfast. "This visit has convinced us that we need to do more."

So, House Minority leader Pelosi is also on record as saying we need to do more for LA, as well.


Meanwhile, the Dead Pelican ignores this crucial, "developing" situation, and remains dutifully focused on Immigration matters, and ousting Mary Landrieu in 2008.

Update: Rogers has since put a link to the article up at the DP. And I didn't mean to imply that he has ignored this topic on his invaluable news link page. (Although I'd encourage even more emphasis.) However, in terms of Rogers' DP commentary, the paramount issues of coastal wetlands restoration and Cat 5 flood protection is mostly off his radar.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Oh Mickey, what a pity you don't understand... 

Apparently, Disney-owned ABC has another controversial "Docu-drama" in the works. It's tentatively titled Path to Katrina .

You think you've got the right but I think you've got it wrong.
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Places to go, people to link 

Levees Not War has a transcript of an exclusive interview with Chris Cooper and Robbert Block. They share some interesting details and anecdotes that are not found in their book "Disaster".

Also, Kalypso has a second, extended video out, as does Geoff, who shot his on Labor Day.
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Monday, September 11, 2006

Today, we reflect upon what Mr. Bush has accomplished 


these are the facts!
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Five years, my brain hurts a lot 

The Cunning Realist has a link to a damned disturbing video/audio from a WTC 911 call from September 11th, 2001.

Five years ago I watched the events unfold on CNBC while preparing for a business trip. Shortly after seeing the towers fall, I decided not to cancel my trip and to keep the appointments with my customers if at all possible. So I drove up through Mississippi, and watched the gas prices rising by the minute. Then I had some car trouble and was forced to get a hotel room in Senatobia, Mississippi. (Lovely phoned, saying she was worried about me. I tried to comfort her, saying that I didn't think rural MS was in the terrorists' crosshairs at that point in time.) I'd been listening to the news the whole day in the car, and was ready to hear something from the President. I sat on the edge of the bed, right in front of the tv, waving my arms, beckoning, for Bush to give me the rhetorical comfort and leadership I thought the situation called for. "Give it to me, give it to me," I said out loud. I knew Bush had a historical opportunity to unite a country that had been divided after the 2000 elections. I was with him that night. I wanted that address to speak for me, and was rooting for him to knock it out of the park.

What followed was a lame, poorly-delivered Oval office "statement". Bush blinked a lot, and read a text to a camera, and that was about it. It was flat and uninspiring, and left me (and many others) unimpressed and unconnected.

It took a few days before Bush had his famous bullhorn moment at Ground Zero, which most Americans remember very clearly and warmly. Bush said, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon."

Less than six months later, the Bush Administration was ordering the removal of Special Forces from Afghanistan and transferring them to Kuwait (and Iraq).

In 2005, after the country watched massive government ineptitude during the Katrina aftermath, another "bullhorn moment" was orchestrated for Bush.

"Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid. ... But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas," Lisa Rosetta of The Salt Lake Tribune reported September 6, 2005.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

We must, we must.... 

...increase our bust

...protect this house!

.... find a distraction from the news. We must find something to hope and cheer for, something to come home for, something to believe in, something around which we can unify as a city.

At least, for a little while, we know what that "something" is.

Go Saints.
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