Friday, May 11, 2007

"An achievement bordering on miraculous" 

In his exquisite N.O. Journal, Dan Baum describes the graduation ceremonies of O. Perry Walker High School. I recommend reading (and watching) his post in full:

To graduate an entire high-school class in this city, at this time-- especially given how many of the kids are living on their own-- is an achievement bordering on miraculous.

That sentence encapsulates both the "hard truths" and relentless "hope" that exist in New Orleans.

Update: For those of you too lazy to click on the link in the quote above, here is the relevant excerpt from it about schoolkids living on their own. Drink this in:

Nine hundred teen-agers attend O. Perry Walker. Of those, [Counselor] Big Mike estimates that a hundred and fifty live with two parents and about four hundred with one. "The rest, what-- live with grandmothers?" I asked.

"Well, I consider a grandmother a parent," Big Mike said. The rest of the school’s students-- somewhere between a third and half-- live alone, he said. "They roommate with each other, they stay with friends, work till two and three o’clock in the morning, and come to school at seven. Some wash their clothes upstairs here. I have fifteen students that I call every morning at seven o’clock to wake them up, from my cell phone. Food? Sometimes they have money. I give them money, Miss Laurie"-- the principal-- "gives them money, and sometimes they’ll eat by other people houses. The football coach, he has about nine boys living with him."

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Vitty's BFF 

Senator Vitty-cent's support for Rudy will be the gift that keeps on giving. Rudy's history of "liberal" views will continue to plague Vitter for a long, long time-- especially as the campaign intensifies and the South comes into play (or will it?). I still can't go to that "pretend place" and envision Rudy winning the GOP nomination-- it's unfathomable. But good ole Pat Buchanan is willing to take a stab at it. Jerome at MyDD alerts us to Pat Buchanan's recent comments:

Pat Buchanan: A Rudy nomination would bring the culture war right down onto the floor of the Republican convention. For Rudy is not only pro-choice on abortion, he has supported affirmative action, favored amnesty for illegals, turned New York into a sanctuary city where the NYPD was forbidden to ask arrestees their immigration status, has championed gay rights, marched in gay pride parades -- once not all that far behind the big float of the North American Man/Boy Love Association. He is thrice married, and he used to bring his main squeeze into Gracie Mansion while still married to the mother of his son. When she threw him out, he was taken in by a couple of gay friends. And Rudy is now suiting up to lead the family values party into battle?

Hee hee. Did ole Buchanan really find a way to work in a NAMBLA association, there? Holy moly!

And Patrick Buchanan knows a thing or two about fomenting a divisive "culture war" during a GOP convention. As the late Molly Ivins wrote at the time, Buchanan's 1992 harangue probably "sounded better in the original German."

I'm serious when I say that I haven't had this much fun since the hogs ate my chemistry teacher.

Update: Bingo!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Links you can use 

1. "The most sadistic reality game show ever."

2. "The Brotherhood of Timber Workers"

3. "The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas."

4. "A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have endorsed a bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and demanding a freeze on the number of foreign troops already in the country, lawmakers said Thursday."

5. "Short lesson: At some point (preferably today), liberals must learn to be concerned about news orgs other than Fox. In the past two weeks, [MSNBC] hosted two debates-- one for Dems and one for Reps. And please recall the remarkable questions which opened those two debates:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, OPENING QUESTION (4/26/07): Senator Clinton, your party's leader in the United States Senate, Harry Reid, recently said the war in Iraq is lost. A letter to today's USA Today calls his comments "treasonous" and says if General Patton were alive today, Patton would wipe his boots with Senator Reid. Do you agree with the position of your leader in the Senate?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, OPENING QUESTION (5/3/07): In the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, just 22 percent believe this country is on the right track. Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's morning in America?"

6. "This isn't exactly news (and it's more than a bit simplistic) but the presses at the Federal Reserve are running full bore right now. Every hint of weakness in the economy or financial markets is being monetized away, partially because we need to pay for Iraq. This drives up the price of everything, including stocks. Remember, a nation's stock market almost always rises when its central bank inflates; the performance of the U.S. market in the 1970's was the exception and not the rule."

7. "From 2000 to 2005, drug maker payments to Minnesota psychiatrists rose more than sixfold, to $1.6 million. During those same years, prescriptions of antipsychotics for children in Minnesota’s Medicaid program rose more than ninefold.

"Those who took the most money from makers of atypicals tended to prescribe the drugs to children the most often, the data suggest. On average, Minnesota psychiatrists who received at least $5,000 from atypical makers from 2000 to 2005 appear to have written three times as many atypical prescriptions for children as psychiatrists who received less or no money."

8. [Apparently the Family Research Council doesn't have any members who are, say, black or disabled. Here's a quote from a recent FRC email:]

This [hate crimes] bill creates a caste system within American society where those who fit a certain category - ranging from race, disability, gender to sexual orientation and transgendered - would be seen as deserving special legal protection. The bill is most notable for the millions of Americans it leaves out, meaning if you or I are a victim of a violent crime - we matter less.


9. "For the first time ever, when UNO pollsters asked what "the biggest problem facing New Orleans" was, more people replied government dissatisfaction than crime.

"University of New Orleans Political Scientist Dr. Susan Howell expressed surprise that crime was not the number one issue. 'Ever since 1988 when we have been doing these quality of life studies, crime has been overwhelmingly the biggest problem, but today, after Katrina, dissatisfaction with city government equals crime from the residents.'"


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White nuts 

Tuesday was Teacher Appreciation Day at Pearlgirl's school. I'm on the "Teacher Appreciation" committee, so that means me and the other committee members look after all the schoolkids during lunchtime while the Teachers enjoy a relaxed dejeuner by themselves.

So, I'm in the lunchroom when a couple dozen hungry 3 and 4- year olds march in. They seat themselves in miniature chairs at miniature tables, and I begin helping them unpack their lunchboxes as fast as I can. There's a lot to do: you have to insert straws into juiceboxes, and open ziplocked PB&J's, and heat up plastic containers of mac & cheese (but not too hot!), and clean up spills, and resolve disputes and soothe crying faces... etc. It didn't help that the children were a little befuddled by the break in routine, and wanted to know who I was, and why am I here, and where are their teachers, and can I look at this "bobo", and will I be staying for the rest of the day, and on and on. The trick is trying to explain things to the inquisitive kids while also helping the hungry kids prepare their food.

It's going pretty well, actually, until a red-headed boy hands me a heavy blue tupperware container with something red inside. I open it and find a big, thick slice of watermelon with about a hundred seeds burrowed into it. So I set the container down in front of the boy with a "Voila!" flourish, and prepare to move on to help the next child. But he quickly asks in a sing song voice: "Can you take out the seeds?"

Ew. I hesitated slightly. This looks like a project. I answered "Yes, I can", and bent over to begin removing the watermelon seeds. Damn there were a lot of them! It seemed like every time I took one seed out, I found two more behind it. The boy was very interested in my "fork and finger" technique, and was leaning over and getting his red head in the way as I tried to extract the seeds. It was slow going, and watermelon juice was getting everywhere and the boy kept leaning over and pointing to the remaining seeds, making sure I didn't miss any. "There's another one!" he'd declare. Yeah, thanks. The other kids were hungry, and wanted to know when I could help them with their lunches.

But I kept at it, furiously extracting seed after seed, and the kid kept pointing out more and more of them. I was mangling his slice of fruit, and started wondering why this kid's parents would give him such a seedy thing. It's like a dirty trick for a 4 year old.

Anyway, finally I finished extracting all the black seeds and triumphantly handed the kid what was left of his watermelon. He looked at it, somewhat pained, and said "Can you take out the white nuts?"

"White nuts?" I said. "Oh, you mean the white seeds? You can eat those, can't you? They're soft. You can eat them."

The kid started getting huffy-puffy, and whined "Nooo! No white nuts!" So I sighed, audibly, and started removing all the "white nuts" with my fork. I'm pretty sure a girl on the other side of the table rolled her eyes at me. I noticed that she had some cold chicken and rice that needed heating up. Other children were asking me to help them open their food. "In a minute, just a minute," I replied.

So I'm bent over this miniature table, doing "white nut" surgery on this kid's pockmarked watermelon, and I'm trying to resist the urge to ask who this child's mother is, and why she can afford the tuition at this school but not the extra $2 for a seedless melon. In short, I'm getting frustrated, and feeling the pressure of all the hungry eyes watching me work. I think some perspiration began gathering on my forehead. It was intense.

Finally I finished, and looked at the pile of black and white seeds I had excised. Then I put the huge hunk of de-seeded watermelon into this kid's tupperware dish and said, triumphantly, "There ya go. Enjoy that!" By then, I was happy to have completed the tedious task, and was sort of proud of my work. Without thanking me, the boy zestily licked his lips and grabbed the juicy red fruit meteor with his hand. It slipped out of his grasp, bounced off his leg, and landed with a "thud" on the lunchroom floor.

Oh no.

Everyone just stared in silent disbelief. The hungry kids on the other side of the table stood up so they could get a better look. For two long surreal seconds, everyone just stared . I quickly glanced at the other parents who were helping the children at other tables. None of them had noticed this horrible lunchtime blunder. There might still be time to do something, I thought. I looked down at the fruitless redheaded child, and he looked up at me. Then we both looked down again at the dirty watermelon on the floor.

What would you do in that situation?

If you're in the mood for more, here's another fun story from the archives about me and Pearlgirl (aka Colicky Loinfruit).

Also, YRHT celebrates its three year "blogaversary" today. Cheers!

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Big Time sez it's "Game Time" 

I guess the past 4 years, in which the Bushies consistently crowed about how there's so much wonderful "progress" in Iraq, and how 2005 was a "watershed year", and how Iraqis were using their purple voting fingers to have "Freedomgasms", and how the kids love us and attend newly painted schools, and how we've certainly "turned a corner", and how the "dead enders" are getting ever more "desperate", and how the liberal MSM only reports the "gloom and doom" stories... etc.

... I guess all of that referred to the "preseason". Now Vice President Cheney (who got five deferments during Vietnam) makes an unannounced visit to his war in Iraq, steps off the plane with a metal chestplate, eats cookies with Prime Minister Maliki, then hears bombs near the Green Zone, goes down to the fortified basement with his group of reporters, and then emerges with the message that it's now "Game Time" in Iraq.

Game Time? No, it's closer to "Game Over" than it is "Game Time".

Big Dick, if you really think it's "Game Time" why don't you make yourself useful and go out and shoot some terrorists in the face?

Dick Cheney has been disasterously wrong about nearly everything he's said or done since 1999, including his decision to select himself as Bush's Vice Presidential Running mate. He is a liar, has no credibility about anything, and history will judge him most harshly.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Hadn't been too Americanized" 

I'm glad I re-read this quote from a T-P article on Robert Plant's recent collaboration with Fats Domino.

In the early 1970s, as Led Zeppelin evolved into the world's biggest rock band, New Orleans was a preferred destination.

"When I came here in Led Zep, it was still only about the music," he said. "When I got here, I realized that the culture was just so radically different than anything else I could imagine in the whole of the United States. It was a different country, really.

"I was very impressed.
I started reading up on it. I could feel something different here, something that was still alive, that hadn't been too Americanized and too messed with."

Suffice to say, the city lived up to his expectations.

"Way beyond that. I found it exotic, frightening, a little bit intimidating. Mostly I felt quite ignorant. That didn't stop Led Zeppelin from having the greatest parties on Earth with Earl King, Ernie K-Doe, Professor Longhair, the Meters....

"Just the adventure of New Orleans... by the time we finished doing a gig here and taking a day off, most people would have to go into a rest home for a month to get over it. But we had a lot of good friends, and I have some fantastic memories of the exaggerations here."

I love that last phrase, "fantastic memories of the exaggerations here".

Like I said, I'm glad I read that again because it served as an antidote to the hideous batch of quotes that Celcus assembled.

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Sectarian Cleansing of Iraqi Christians 

Huge thanks to joejoejoe for sending the link to this story:

Christians are fleeing in droves from the southern Baghdad district of Dora after Sunni insurgents told them they would be killed unless they converted to Islam or left, according to Christian leaders and families who fled.

Similar episodes of what has become known as sectarian cleansing raged through Baghdad neighborhoods last year as Sunnis drove Shiites from Sunni areas and Shiites drove Sunnis from Shiite ones, but this marks the first apparent attempt to empty an entire Baghdad neighborhood of Christians, the Christians say.

The exodus began three weeks ago after a fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Sunni insurgents offering Christians a stark choice: to convert to Islam and pay an ancient Islamic tax known as "jizyah," or to depart within 24 hours and leave their property behind. If they did neither, they said, they faced death.

Sunni gunmen have been enforcing the edict with a dozen or so kidnappings, a shooting, by knocking on doors and by posting leaflets on walls - actions that have prompted hundreds of Christians to leave an area that was once home to one of Baghdad's largest Christian communities.

The insurgents' campaign in Dora is the first major incident of sectarian cleansing since the Baghdad security plan, a centerpiece of President Bush's strategy to win in Iraq, went into effect in mid-February and extra U.S. troops began arriving in Baghdad in an effort to retake the city from insurgents and militias.

"They are talking about security plans and bringing peace, but nothing arrived in Dora. There are no rules, no government and no government forces," said Bishop Shlimon Warduni, auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Patriarchate, the ancient Christian sect to which most of the Christians in the Dora area belong. "This is a full-scale persecution. In all of Iraq's history we didn't face a situation like this."
According to Kanna, the pressure on Christians in Dora has intensified since the arrival in recent months of a fresh influx of al-Qaida-affiliated insurgents squeezed out of their stronghold in western Anbar province by a U.S.-backed tribal alliance. Gunmen began visiting churches in the area and ordered them to take down the cross, and since then, all the area's clergymen have fled, and the district's nine churches have closed.

Though U.S. forces have increased their presence in the area since the Baghdad security plan went into effect, they appear oblivious to this latest persecution of Christians, said Ahmed al-Mukhtar, 29, a salesman who joined the exodus after gunmen opened fire on three of his neighbors as they drove to work together in late April, prompting all the Christian families he knows in the immediate vicinity to flee.

Iraqi Christians comprise one of the oldest Christian communities on earth. They are a population that is politically moderate, socially liberal and mostly pro-Western. These are precisely the sort of Iraqi patriots we need!! What's more, they have lived for nearly 2 millennia amidst the Garden of Eden, the birthplace of Abraham and the site of the Great Flood. They worship in Aramaic, for chrissakes! And now, four years after after being "liberated" from a Stalinist tyrant, they say they are suffering a "full-scale persecution" unlike anything they experienced in Iraq's history.

Can you fathom the enormity of that claim?

There are reports of "sectarian cleansing" of Iraqi Christians-- and no one seems to care; least of all the "family values" Christian conservatives in this country who still support the war. Where's the outrage? Where are the calls for the U.S. to open its doors to Iraqi refugees like these fleeing Christians?

Our army is fighting and dying to protect Iraq's fragile (Shia-dominated) government, whose largest party is the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Many members of this parliament are contemplating going on a 2 month summer vacation. Wow, that sounds refreshing! However, I do hope their travel routes are not congested with fleeing Christian refugees. That would be a downer.

Here's what the Telegraph says about the situation:

Iraq's Christian community is close to extinction as thousands are forced to flee their traditional strongholds in Baghdad.
Father Bashar Warda of the St Peter Major Seminary, relocated from Dora to Ankawa, said yesterday: "We are afraid the government of Iraq has a common understanding with those making the threats that Christians have no future in this country."
What an absolute disgrace. I've been harping on the persecution of Iraq's Christians for 2 1/2 years now, and have seen nothing but the rapid destruction of their communities

Yet President George "my favorite philsopher is Jesus" Bush has continually reminded us that our nation-building effort in Iraq is part of our mission to bring God's gift of freedom to the rest of the world so that tyranny will end. In Woodward's Plan of Attack, Bush-- in that thoughtful, nuanced way of his-- declares:

Either you believe in freedom, and want to-- and worry about the human condition, or you don't.

Oh. That reminds me, how come so many conservatives seem to worry about the "human condition" only when they want to start or prolong a war?

Just askin'.

Anyway, back to my point. Where is the "worry" for the plight of Iraq's Christians? Here are some faces of Iraqi Christians praying to the Nazarene.

(Soon these ladies will have the "freedom" to decide whether they want to become refugees, converted Muslims, or corpses.)

Behold, Believers! The extinction of Iraq's Christian Community is at hand. It's amazing, but true. For the past two millennia, these folks have persevered through all sorts of invasions, wars and tyrannical regimes... but they couldn't survive Bush's crusade to spread "God's gift of freedom" throughout the Middle East.

Heckuva job, Bushie.

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Take the poll 

Inspired by a poll at the bottom of this Kos post, I thought I'd create a similar one for YRHT readers. (I believe this is "unprecedented" for YRHT.)


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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Time for a long walk 

Yesterday, a roll of bellyfat decided to call Lovely from the cell phone on my belt.

That's a humbling thing to explain.

I need to exercise and eat better, and get out of this "Azamat" suit.


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The new has a blogroll 

There's something curious about the initial blogroll on Bobby Jindal's new web site.

For some reason, Bobby's blogroll often links to particular posts on the other blogs, rather than to their main page. That was a bit out of the ordinary, but it prompted me to take a closer look. Here is what I found.

Bobby Jindal's Blogroll hyperlinks (as of 5/8/07):

Breakfast at Tiffany's This is a blog by a gay libertarian, and it comes complete with a JFK "Conspiracy links" section on the sidebar. I must say: this blog is a very bold inclusion! I'd not heard of it, but will now probably start reading it occasionally. Bobby's campaign blogroll links directly to a post entitled "Searching for Bobby Jindal". Sadly, it provides no clarity for those of us who are "Searching for Bobby Jindal's position on Iraq".

Confessions of a Political Junkie This blog is by a political analyst living in Macon, Georgia. The blogroll links directly to a brief February post that says the blogger had dinner with Jindal, and hopes he will become governor. This snippet is then followed by a long, godforesaken comment thread that includes responses to awful, racist rants by some Georgian named "Linda".

Emily Metzgar: Here, Bobby's site links to Metzgar's main page.

Free Republic This links to a Freeper index of articles on Jindal. Nothing but high-toned discussions in that prestigious forum.

Interested American: Here's a blog with almost no original commentary whatsoever. It features a quote by a right-wing Frenchman on the header. The site owner is a graphic artist from New Jersey. Here is one of the galleries of his work. If you described his stuff as "mildly disturbing, and not in a good way", I wouldn't argue with you.

LogiPundit: Never heard of this one, but it looks reasonable.

Louisiana Conservative: The hyperlink goes directly to a post that is "Part 2" of a three part series on Bobby Jindal, "The Next Governor of Louisiana". Kind of a weird place to start. And it looks like "Avman" and Chad Rogers are among the contributors for this site.

RedState: the link goes to a list of redstate posts on Jindal. The first two articles on the list are authored by disgraced plagiarist Ben Domenech.

The Conservative Cajun: this link goes to the main blog page on Nick's site. Nick consistently does good work, and I appreciate it when he takes time to comment at this site.

The Dead Pelican: The DP is the premier web aggregator of Louisiana news. I believe that I've been the most ferocious web critic of Chad Rogers, the DP's publisher.


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Another failure of imagination 

This is such an amazing exchange from 4/24/07:

Charlie Rose: Can you imagine a circumstance in which you would have to say, we did our best [in Iraq]. Good men and good women sacrificed their life, but we can't, in the end, do what we want to do and we have to leave?

President George W. Bush: No. I can't imagine that, because I believe that with time, this Iraqi government is going to be able to reconcile and move forward. It's not going to be a pretty picture. Of course our government wasn't so pretty in its early stages either. And -- but I believe that -- I believe this can work. I do.

He can't even "imagine" Iraq not working out? At this point, that's criminally thoughtless. Unlike Bush, conservative blogger Rick Moran can "imagine" Iraq not working out. In a recent post, Moran reflects on this news from CNN, which Moran considers to be "the crisis of the war":

Iraq’s top Sunni official has set a deadline of next week for pulling his entire bloc out of the government—a potentially devastating blow to reconciliation efforts within Iraq.
Al-Hashimi’s cooperation with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government is widely seen as essential if there is to be a realistic chance of bridging the Shiite-Sunni divide in Iraq—one of the key goals of the Bush administration.

Then Moran writes:
Al-Hashimi is no fool. He can see as well as I or anyone else who has bothered to pay attention that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is not making a sincere effort to address the issues that would facilitate reconciliation between Sunni and Shia and start the process of making Iraq a whole country again.
[Maliki] will try to keep the Americans pacified by saying all the right words about reconciliation and power sharing while doing nothing to affect the former and actually try and sabotage the latter.

What to do? The Administration efforts in the political sphere have failed miserably to this point. Might it be time for Bush to bite the bullet and give Maliki the heave-ho, replacing him with some kind of government that would do what everyone agrees is necessary but that no one seems willing to work for?

It would be like taking all of those purple fingers raised in triumph following the election and cutting them off at the knuckle. But it may be the only way to save the country. This would be a last resort, the last arrow in Bush’s quiver and he may not use it anyway. Perhaps he’d rather see Iraq disintegrate than give up on his personal dream of promoting democracy in the Middle East.

But Bush can't even "imagine" this Iraqi Parliament failing to achieve political reconciliation and success, so why would attempt to reconfigure it? For Bush, their success is inevitable; their failure, unimaginable. Bush implicitly compares them to the Founders of this country, and says that "Plan B is to make Plan A work".

Don't our armed forces deserve a Commander in Chief who............ thinks?

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The Creation of dissent in the big tent 

This is why liberals must insist that every single conservative candidate must always always always be asked whether or not they believe in evolution, and whether they think the Earth is more near 5,000 years old or 5 billion, and any other reasonable question that might pertain to Bible literalism. Do not let them finesse this "issue"!

There are plenty of fiscal conservative independents who will not vote for someone whom they perceive to be a creationist nutter. Conversely, there are plenty of fundagelicals who will not support a candidate who doesn't believe that "Adam and Eve road dinosaurs to church"*.

* hat tip to stacy head tina fey).

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Blanco fails to mention New Orleans in Capitol speech. 

Clancy Dubos' newest Politics column is on "Blanco's legacy":

In outlining her vision to legislators during her opening-day address, Blanco noted that she and many lawmakers won't be coming back next year. ...

Thank Jeebus. Blanco is probably overcriticized for looking "bad" after Katrina, and undercriticized (even still) for her Road Home fiasco.

There was no mention of the many shortcomings and budding scandals in her Road Home program. Not one word about New Orleans' many infrastructure needs. Nothing about the urgency with which local civic, business and political leaders are working to keep the VA Hospital downtown.

It was as if she woke up last Monday in a wonderful new state where everything is just fine.

Her failure even to mention New Orleans or southeast Louisiana -- which gave her more than her margin of victory in 2003 -- was seen as a slap in the face to local lawmakers, some of whom compared it to President Bush's snub of Louisiana during his last two State of the Union addresses. The anger among local legislators was palpable.

"Not one word about New Orleans or southeast Louisiana"? Are you kidding me?!

Then came news that her much-maligned Road Home program could fall more than $3 billion short. ...

Uggh. She is so disappointing. So lame. And as much as I bash the GOP, I want to make my position clear: if Blanco ran for re-election against Jindal, I would vote for "Bobby" without hesitation. It's not even close, in my book. That's how lame she is. But one of the things I REALLY hate about Blanco is how her mistakes provide political "cover" for Ray Nagin and Duhbya's crew.

For example, here's Nagin:

Mayor Ray Nagin has often violated his Jan. 11 promise to stop blaming federal and state officials for the city's post-Katrina woes. However, the intensity of his attacks against Baton Rouge appeared to reach new rhetorical highs during the April 28 march through the Lower Ninth Ward. "We're going to have to get angry! ... We're going to have to find the right bullet and the right target!" Nagin said in a fiery speech to a small crowd of marchers.

Those are some real responsible sentiments-- especially for a mayor who can't control gun crime in his own city. Yeah Ray, let's get the crowd "angry" and go to Baton Rouge looking for the "right target" for our "bullets"! No one has ever done that before.

I understand it's a metaphor, but it's a truly awful one.

Blanco also provides an easy scapegoat for Recovery Czar Donald Powell. World Class excerpts one of his letters to the Editor of the Times Picayune:

The president's commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast remains strong, but so does the need for Louisiana to effectively use the resources it's already been given before appealing again to the already overwhelming generosity of the American taxpayers.

Thankfully, a couple days later the T-P printed a fine reply , which I will reprint, because it contains my sentiments (and I'm tired and need to go to sleep):

Federal recovery coordinator Donald Powell has done it again when he refers to the "overwhelming generosity of the American taxpayer."

He still doesn't get it. We are American taxpayers.

And we are suffering because those who are paid with our tax dollars failed in their responsibility to protect us by properly building and maintaining canals and levees.

Whether we had direct damage to our property or are paying higher insurance premiums, we, the American taxpayers, have suffered because of failures at the federal level.

Yes, Mr. Powell, we, the American taxpayers, have been very generous.

We have funded rescue efforts all over the world without batting an eye.

And yes, American taxpayers have individually been generous in coming to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild the lives, homes and businesses of those who live here.

But the federal government is not doing anyone a favor by providing funds to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Those funds are ours to begin with.

Our state leadership has not been without error. But Donald Powell and President Bush are not our benefactors. They are our employees. Get over it and get on with it!

Clifford H. Kern III


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"Plan B is to make Plan A work" 

Kevin Drum gives us some helpful background to this unsettling news from CNN:

Iraq's top Sunni official has set a deadline of next week for pulling his entire bloc out of the government....Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made his comments in an interview with CNN. He said if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.

I hate to be pessimistic about our Freedom and Democracy-building project in Iraq, ... but, given this top Sunni official's threat, shouldn't we at least consider the unwelcome possibility of political dissolution in Iraq? On the off chance we need to revise our definition of "victory" there and radically adjust the current objectives of our mission... do we have a "Plan B"?

Actually, yes. Thankfully, our Republican friends have already addressed that eventuality:

"I have no Plan B." -- John McCain, on his support for the Iraq surge, April 13, 2007.

"Plan B was to make Plan A work."-- Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace, on Iraq, March 5, 2007.

"Plan B is to make Plan A work"-- President Bush, on Iraq, April 24, 2007.

"I don't think you go to Plan B. You work with Plan A." -- Secretary of State Rice, asked what the U.S. should do if the Iraqi government does not live up to its assurances, March 5, 2007.

"By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this [Surge strategy] is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B." -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), May 6, 2007.

In other words, it seems "Plan B" is basically waiting for political necessity to force Republicans to totally break from Duhbya, and adopt the "surrendercrat" positions which Dems are offering right now.

Wait. Hold the phone. I stand corrected. Apparently Rep Phil Gingrey (R-GA) says the Republicans DO in fact have a "Plan B". They definitely have one, it's just they need to keep it a secret so the enemy (and Dems and Independents and the media) won't find out. Rep. Gingrey explains:

Let's give victory a chance and then in August of 2008, if it's not working then, indeed, this President and the Republican majority from the last Congress, we do have a plan B. But we're not gonna give it to the enemy!
Reassuring, huh?

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Premature "Love bombs" from the Pundits 

Southern Leftist found this Tom Tomorrow cartoon which I will preserve below:

In the past 4 years it has become clear that neither these pundits, nor the political leaders they lauded, understood that:

Blind optimism is not a strategy.

Entering a country is not the same thing as controlling it.

Driving through a capital is not the same thing as winning hearts and minds.

Pulling down a statue is not the same thing as building up a democracy.

Ignoring the possibility of insurgency and guerrilla warfare practically guarantees its emergence (borders must be secured, looting prevented, large masses of young men must not be alienated, everyone must feel invested and protected in this new country).

Counterinsurgency is counterintuitive; a minimum of force, used surgically, is often the best tactic.

Killing insurgents is not the same thing as eliminating an insurgency.

I believe General Petraeus understands these precepts better than any of the previous commanders, because he used them successfully in the past. Now he has been given operational responsibility over Iraq, but it's at least 3 (if not 4) years too late. Due to the mistakes of Bremer, Sanchez, Rumsfeld and Bush... the possibility of success in Iraq has been made exponentially more remote, even if we put the right "commander guy" in... it's likely too little, too late.

I made a few edits to this post after the initial publishing.

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Zero tolerance 

Our hearts go out to the tornado victims, but after reading this news, I still must ask: what's the matter with Kansas?
GREENSBURG, Kansas (AP)-- Four soldiers and a reserve police officer were arrested Sunday on suspicion of looting cigarettes and alcohol from a store in this tornado-ravaged town, state officials said.

Didn't they get "the message" Judge Hans Liljeberg sent to looters after Katrina, when he sentenced three liquor looters to 15 years in prison each? I would think 15 months would be more appropriate, but I guess I'm soft on looting.

And, yes, for the record, we did get looted after the Federal Flood. It's not a pleasant feeling, and I don't wish it on anyone, but "looting" wouldn't be among the top 25 things that angered me after the storm.


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1. NYT reports:
Some of the most celebrated levee repairs by the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina are already showing signs of serious flaws, a leading critic of the corps says.

The critic, Robert G. Bea, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, said he encountered several areas of concern on a tour in March.

The most troubling, Dr. Bea said, was erosion on a levee by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a navigation canal that helped channel water into New Orleans during the storm.

Breaches in that 13-mile levee devastated communities in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, and the rapid reconstruction of the barrier was hailed as one of the corps’ most significant rebuilding achievements in the months after the storm.
[Dr. Bea] praised the corps for much of the work it had done since the storm, but he added that the levee should be armored with rock or concrete against overtopping, a move the corps has rejected in the short term.

2. Blogger from Baghdad visits New Orleans, and is shocked by the devastation.
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"The most exciting two minutes in sports" 

Congratulations to Louisianan Calvin Borel, who road Street Sense to win the 133rd Kentucky Derby.

The stretch run was absolutely sublime. It's worth multiple viewings.

Unless you've seen Medium Jim in a soggy biscuit competition, the Kentucky Derby truly is "the most exciting two minutes in sports".

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