Friday, September 30, 2005

Countering Dr. Seuss's Gay Agenda

Thank you, General, for reposting the information about Dr. Seuss' Gay Agenda. I have actually been reading those books to my sons. Luckily, they have such a dearth an overabundance of testosterone it will take more than a few stories to turn them. [Did you know today was National Opposite Day?]

Also, I sometimes read them the Berenstain Bears books, which have heavy doses of normal Family Values to offset any influence Dr. Seuss may have had. In the Prize Pumpkin, Papa Bear's sense of self-esteem and security is an example for my boys. "My patch may be small, but the Giant is big," says Papa, even though his wasn't the biggest in town.

There is apparently a whole series I haven't yet been able to find which may be out of print, but it looks like they contain more such healthy examples, like
  • The Berenstain Bears and Studying Eastern Philosophy Makes You Look Like an Asshole
  • The Berenstain Bears and You Will Have to Pay for College by Becoming a Chimney Sweep
  • The Berenstain Bears and Race Mixing is Bad

There are also cautionary tales
  • The Berenstain Bears and Mama Bear is Too Frigid
  • The Berenstain Bears and Sister Bear Lost It on a Bathroom Floor in a Pool of Her Own Vomit
  • The Berenstain Bears and Holy Crap We're Jewish!
If anyone knows where I can find any of this series, let me know.

Blogger Roundup

Surprise! DeLay caught lying.

A clinically depressed White House. That's why it's so dysfunctional.

What is wrong with Judith Miller?

Breaking News! Rightie bloggers are weenies.

It's not just Bill Bennett.

Julie O.'s Serenity Movie Review


Update: Dear Buddha, please send me a pony and a plastic rocket.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Denver Developing Pretty Nicely

Two opinions about making Denver a major destination in the Denver Post.
Cow Town or Wow Town? and To a Native New Yorker, Denver Doesn't Rank as a Metropolis -- Thank Goodness.

It may be because I'm not a native Denverite, myself, and the I'm new to the area, so haven't become bored or jaded yet, but I agree with the second opinion more
The country has enough cosmopolitan meccas. If you really have a problem living in a cow town, I suggest moving to New York. But I offer this advice with a warning. Once you've settled in, once you've found your tiny table and spent a great deal of time discussing the newest restaurants and bars with friends, you might notice a silence fall over your group. Then you too may find yourself furiously engaged in debate about moving to some other place.

I love the duality of Denver, that there are cattle shows and rodeos, and also a quantity and quality of culture and sophistication.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Al-Qaeda Porn Cell

It makes sense for pornography to be one of the FBI's top priorities. Anti-patriot Dan Abrams just doesn't get it
I would rather expand other units rather than add 10 agents to make sure Ron Jeremy can't do anything else arguably inhuman.

We don't know if that's a bomb in his pocket or if he's just happy to see us, Dan.

How soon we forget
  • "In Daytona Beach, Kap said he told FBI investigators the men in his bar spent $200 to $300 apiece on lap dances and drinks, paying with credit cards."
  • "Atta liked very Un-Islamic lap dances at the Pink Pony Strip Club. Atta liked stuffing $20 bills into the panties of topless dancers in nightclubs at the seedy end of Las Vegas' Strip."

If Zarqawi's presence in Kurd-controlled territory was enough to make the Al-Qaeda/Iraq connection, Atta's presence in a strip club is enough to make the Al-Qaeda/porn connection.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Defensive Tancredo

Tancredo is upset that Mexico's Undersecretery for North America, Geronimo Gutierrez, has an opinion about U.S. legislation which directly affects Mexicans.

I wonder how the Islamic northern regime in Khartoum, Sudan feels about Tancredo's opinion
Since arriving in Congress, I have closely monitored the conflict taking place in Sudan and have been a proponent of the southern opposition movement.

on a subject which does not directly affect Americans.

Note: I don't support the slavers of the north, I just don't understand why Tancredo would be upset that a government official would endorse or oppose the legislation of another country. It's done all the time.

Cashing In on the Less Fortunate

Foreclosures in the Denver area are up 15%. My parents wanted me to look around this area for an investment property for them, as this is a growing area and interest rates are low. I've been demurring as I think there is a housing bubble and renters will make out better than owners.

Quite a few houses in the neighborhood have been for sale for a few months, and I keep seeing more signs going up. A house near us sold pretty quickly, major work was done on it, then the "For Sale" sign went up again. I haven't even seen anyone come look at it. Walking by a house for sale that backs up to the park, I mentioned to my husband, "Here's one for sale." The owner was sitting on the porch and began jokingly making the case for why we should buy it. She said the market's not been too good.

She may be the "Duchess of Doom" and the "Guru of Gloom," but when it comes to a large investment like housing, I'm going to listen to Tucker Hart Adams.
Adams predicted that the foreclosure problem, although not as severe as in the late 1980s, will get worse before it gets better.
". . . Foreclosures are a lagging indicator, which means when a whole lot of other things are getting better, we're still going to have foreclosures."

I'll wait until things are getting better and snatch up a foreclosure.

Local Response to O'Reilly's Downfall

Eleven e-mails took the Clear Channel station to task for planning to remove O'Reilly from his noon to 2 p.m. period, according to Jerry Bell, programming manager for KHOW and KKZN-AM (760).

Four e-mails approved of the move to replace O'Reilly with Glenn Beck, another syndicated host out of Philadelphia.

Here's the funniest part
Bell noted that pro and con comments probably will increase once the word spreads and when O'Reilly is no longer on the air.

See, word has to spread, because no one knows O'Reilly was kicked off the air because no one was listening to his show. Which is why it was dropped.

Maybe RMN editor John Temple will take blogging a little more seriously after this, though
More than three times the usual number of people visited on Monday to read about KHOW's decision. The story on O'Reilly's ouster drew an additional 190,000 people to the site.

More fun, found at News Hounds, O'Reilly predicting the impending collapse of the Left in August, 2005
O'Reilly proclaimed that Karma is wonderful and now all the vicious character assassins on the left are getting what they deserve.

In the comments
Somehow O'Reilly has come to associate ratings with credibility, honesty, and truth.....He's always huffing and puffing about his own, and reveling in someone else's decline.


Denver's Light Rail Better Damn Work

When I read this article about the plans for light rail stops south of Denver to create walkable neighborhoods, I thought of Atrios' preference for "urban villages."

Some question the workability of having the light rail so near the freeway, or the commute to get to the light rail stations. But I also read this article
"We'll have one unbroken line of cars from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins," said Jeff May of the Denver Regional Council of Governments. "We're just not doing enough in terms of the growth we're seeing."

It's part of the reason I think Denver light rail will be successful, and why Refs C & D will pass. That and $3 gas.

Now, I grew up in the Bay Area, where an average commute for me by car was 45 minutes, one way, going opposite commute traffic in off-hours. I understand traffic. I lived in San Francisco -- a compact city, to be sure -- for awhile without a car, which had decent public transportation, so I understand that, too.

But then I also lived in Jacksonville, FL, which -- for such a large city, the largest city in area in the U.S. -- has the most abysmal public transportation I've ever experienced. I don't know why they bother.

The bus on the major street near my house passed by once an hour or so. I remember a woman who needed to take the 5 minute ride to her job by 8:30am, so took the 8:20 bus, which usually came between 8:25 and 8:35, but occasionally came at 8:45 or -- I'm not joking -- 8:15. We got off at the same stop, but I was lucky my son's preschool started at 9.

They have a light rail called the Skyway, which sometimes has half a dozen riders on it at one time. It started in a business area in which the businesses all had ample private parking and ended a couple of miles away at the community college, which also had ample free parking. Another mile east on the river was a whole sports and events complex, which included Alltel Stadium (where they had something called the "Super Bowl" this year), and the Skyway didn't even go there! Dear God, I think Jacksonville's Skyway made me go a little insane just now.

Did I mention how incredibly corrupt the city government in Jacksonville, FL is? Another special tidbit about their public transportation...the ticket offices are only open from 7-9am, and usually, when you put your money in the "turnstile," it won't open, so you have to hit a little button to talk to a disembodied voice and ask to be let in.

Which is why Denver's light rail must work. It makes so much more sense. I remember riding it for the first time with my husband, and we were so delighted about how it went to places that we actually wanted to go. And the trains run frequently (unless you're trying to make it to a concert) and are full during commutes. One might be able to get away with riding for free. There are no turnstiles to enter, they rely on a "conductor" to check tickets, and conductors can't really get around on a full train. (After the Green Day concert, we could have rode for free, but my conscience made me dig the change out of my wallet for the tickets.)

Final thought, two words: bullet train.

Atrios' Serenity Review

I have to wait to see the film before I can tell Atrios to stuff his review, which was lukewarm. He's not a Super Fan (well, neither am I...but I'm not a real Super Fan about anything. I just don't have the interest to learn every little detail about something, and I don't want to know that much about the private lives of actors)

Just this part of his review
Having seen the series on DVD, which I didn't like all that much until near the end of its run...

tells me that I should ignore his opinion on this subject. (My husband didn't really get it, either, though he said it was "decent." He said he thought the western theme was unnecessary. ::puts head down on keyboard and weeps silently for a few mintues:: But during the pilot, when Mal walked onto Serenity and shot the Fed, he said "It's Star Wars." I nodded and said, "Han shot first.")

But this part
But more generally I'm increasingly under the impression that "that kind" of science fiction is just works much better on TV than it does on the big screen.

I agree with, which is disheartening, since it will probably mean no second or third movie (even though Police Academy got 7 plus a series!) There are just some things that work better on the small screen, in a mini-series format. A real mini-series, not the wimpy little 6-hour things they put on these days. Something like Centennial or The Thorn Birds that takes a real commitment.

It's the same reason shows like Arrested Development don't survive long -- and if it doesn't get a fourth season, at least I got to see everybody do their chicken impressions in one episode -- often the masses don't want intelligent, unpredictable shows which may require a bit of effort.

I'm not saying Atrios and my husband are members of the masses who require obvious humor with a laugh track. I'm just saying I really really like Firefly, I don't know why they don't, and it makes me sad.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Getting to the Truth of Violence in NOLA

"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney

(Via Crooks and Liars) I'm glad to know that, as horrible as conditions were in the Superdome, at least the rumors of murder and rape were just that, rumors.

And I do understand how such rumors get started and maintained
"Everything was embellished, everything was exaggerated," said Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley. "If one guy said he saw six bodies, then another guy the same six, and another guy saw them — then that became 18."

Sgt. Lachney continues
"Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

Most of the depraved behavior was rumor. The reactions to the rumors -- by the authorities who wouldn't let the Red Cross enter the city or the evacuees leave, the journalists and officials who spread unsubstantiated reports, the horrid comments on certain unnamed blogs -- were very real.

And Digby follows up on his earlier post about irrational fear of the "black mob," here, here, and here.

Where Does Bush Stand on Roe v. Wade?

Frankly, he doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.


My husband heard that from a guy at his work.

Fake Controversy; the Right Wing Modus Operandi

Lisa at RockyWatch is 100% correct that this is the m.o. of the Right Wing. It hearkens back to Maha's How to Fake the News: A Primer. Take one piece of information which may or may not be supported by fact but which supports the Right Wing Agenda, disseminate it in different venues and repeat until it becomes Conventional Wisdom, at which point it is nearly impossible to correct.

Here's the Speakout in the Rocky Mountain News that RockyWatch criticizes
As early as 1986, government scientists wrote a letter to the British medical journal The Lancet acknowledging that abortion is a cause of breast cancer. They wrote, "Induced abortion before first term pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer" (The Lancet, Feb. 22, 1986). [emphasis added]

Here's the 2003 report from the National Cancer Institute
The relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research beginning in the late 1950s. Until the mid-1990s, the evidence was inconsistent. Findings from some studies suggested there was no increase in risk of breast cancer among women who had had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggested there was an increased risk. Most of these studies, however, were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results. Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women’s histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their “self-report” rather than on their medical records. Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted. These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk. [emphasis added]

Since the updated science completely contradicts the Right Wing Agenda, it doesn't exist.

Says RockyWatch
This is how the game is played: Instead of offering well-reasoned and solidly researched opinion, the Christian fundamentalist editor of the Rocky provides a forum for a right-winger who spouts junk science and misrepresents medical research. Then, a week or so later, he runs a piece (chosen by him) to serve as a "counterpoint," thus creating the illusion that there's a "debate" between two equally weighted, equally informed "sides."

In truth, the "sides" are Calculated Misrepresentation versus Fact.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Moderate Liberalism Key to Sim City Success

I sometimes go through bouts of obsession. Currently it's Sim City 4. I'm doing pretty well on a city I named Serenity Valley (geek alert). I've got $400,000 and a surplus income, 35000 people, a university, city college, large schools and hospital, library and museum. It's a very middle class bedroom community that commutes mainly to Smallsville (geek alert) by train.

The secret -- a balance between business interests and social programs, and the patience to slowly build and let things work for awhile.

Here's a letter I wrote a few months back that got printed in my local paper. It was inspired by the Mahablog, and got me a letter from a local author, James Dale, looking to sell me his book. It also is the key to doing well on Sim City.


A letter writer recently attempted to define liberalism as the attempt to level the playing field by redistribution of wealth. One might wonder what the opposite proposition might be: stacking the deck in favor of a few to consolidate wealth and increase their power?

We all have a duty to our countrymen, and it is the proper role of government to make sure this duty is performed. That is a liberal notion, and it was liberal -- and revolutionary -- when it was first declared to the world by our Founders.

We instituted government to ensure our rights and improve our condition

The Declaration of Independence outlined our most basic rights, and more were made law by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Our goal to improve our condition is made clear in the Preamble: "to...promote the general Welfare."

Among the methods for meeting this goal are: capitalism with regulation; public programs to assist our most helpless citizens; protection and stewardship of public lands. The alternative is to have an underclass of poor, uneducated, starving and sick citizens, and a nation poisoned and exploited by unregulated business and industry.

We already experienced a country nearly destroyed in this manner, and we sought to form a more perfect union when Roosevelt's New Deal was approved.

Therefore it seems when some complain of redistribution of wealth, they are really upset that anyone would require them to fulfill their duty to create a stable, safe and healthy country.

Inefficiencies, inequities, and corruption must be fixed. A return to the Gilded Age, a plutocracy, and a looming Great Derpression is not a solution any responsible government could tolerate

Julie O.

Creationism Tour; We Are All Dumber For Having Taken It

This article makes me want to take a tour group of children into a Rusty Carter's church and ridicule the Bible's contradictions and stupidity. He takes children on creationist tours of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Here's a taste of the idiocy

The entire nature and science museum prehistoric exhibit is a lie.

"Is this good science?" Carter asked his latest crew of young indoctrinees.

"Bad, bad, bad," they shouted.

And how are Carter and his colleague, Tyson Thorne, qualified to judge what makes good science? Why, their "bachelor's degrees in biblical studies from Colorado Christian College," of course.

It makes me wonder why they don't use their scientific knowledge to create cures and treatments for diseases, such as a treatment for HIV that will prevent AIDS from needlessly taking the life of a 3-year-old.

Maybe it's time to assess just what it is the people with only biblical studies degrees contribute to the realm of science and medicine. How many medical devices, surgical procedures, medicines have they developed? What the fuck have they done besides make our country a little bit poorer and stupider?

Is there any wonder that Midge Cozzens, president of Colorado Institute of Technology, told a General Assembly committee last week that Colorado can't fill the technological and scientific jobs it will create with homegrown talent?

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Poor in the Storm II

It's this all over again.

What's going to be different about Hurricane Rita? The lead up to the storm looks about the same. I'm praying in my own way for the safety of the people down there (this time I know a family who lives in the area); poor people, even some who aren't poor, can't evacuate. Unless they start airlifting people away from hurricanes, this is always going to happen.

No link yet, but the Rocky Mountain News ran an AP article by Deborah Hastings about the poor who can't leave Galveston, though they want to.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," [Wilma Skinner] said.
"All the banks are closed, and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty payceck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people fretted in line.

"This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that."
For the poor and the disenfranchised, the mighty evacuation orders that preceded Rita were something they could only ignore.

I think I read in a comments thread somewhere an answer to "why didn't Mayor Nagin use those schoolbuses?" The person said, having experienced hurricanes in the Carolinas, that the scoolbuses would have just gotten stuck in traffic, and he would have just turned around to head back home, take his chances in a house rather than stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere. That's exactly what's happening in Texas (no link yet to AP Mike Graczyk)

"I've been screaming in the car," said Abbie Huckleby, who was trapped on Interstate 45 with her husband and two children as they tried to get from the Houston suburb of Katy to Dallas, about 250 miles away. "If I would have known it was this bad, I would have stayed at home and rode out the storm at home."

Trazanna Moreno decided to do just that. After covering just six miles in nearly three hours, she finally gave up.

"It could be that if we ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere that we'd be in a worse position in a car dealing with hurricane-force winds than we would in our house," she said.

The difference needs to come after the storm, especially since the fucking "Christian" Texan bastards will murder starving, dehydrated people who are trying to find food and drink which will be unsuitable to sell to anyone after the storm:

"I checked with the Sheriff's Department to see if I could use my gun, and they said if I do, make sure he's dead," said Mr. Faris, 48, brandishing a 9-millimeter pistol, as customers filed into the store to buy frozen pizzas, beer and beef jerky. "I'm not leaving anything to chance. We saw what happened in New Orleans." [emphasis added]
Does his frozen pizza store also sell clothes and electronics?

Another difference to look for will be whether or not the assholes try to blame the local officials who can't deal with such far-reaching devastation and make up stories about pillaging, murderous, drug-addled, rapist white poor people.

Also, some Katrina evacuees in Texas have to evacuate again, and Holy Shit about the exploding bus full of elderly evacuees.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

But How Do Ninjas Fit In?

I've often thought it would be nice to have a set of religious beliefs, as thinking for myself is often tiring. But I just haven't yet found a religion with the right set of beliefs -- again with the thinking for myself. In high school, I told my friends my religion was Julieism, but I don't even know what that means anymore.

I've recently discovered (pamphletlessly) a new religion called FSM, or Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

FSM seems like a very male-oriented religion -- stripper factory? -- but what else is new.

Prophet Bobby Henderson (via Atrios)
Believers of the FSM are normal people, living normal lives. Certain rituals must be followed, however, most of them having to do with pasta and/or pirates. Random acts of piratical expression are encouraged. Flipping off a stranger, for example, would not only be hilarious, but would also go a long way in pleasing Him, bringing you that much closer to FSM heaven, which, among other attractions, features a Beer Volcano.

I've never been an adherent to strict dogma, though aspects of the religion are very appealing
  • Flimsy moral standards.
  • Every friday is a relgious holiday. If your work/school objects to that, demand your religious beliefs are respected and threaten to call the ACLU.

And of course I support all the pasta and sauce, as long as there's a Sausage Sect.

But I am conflicted, because I can't reconcile the fact that Ninjas are awesome, have Real Ultimate Power, and yet hate pirates and wail on them at every opportunity.

What is FSM's stance on Ninjas? Are Ninjas agents of the Anti-FSM, seeking to bring about an Apocalyptic Flip-Out with their six foot boners? Or are they unwitting dupes who do things for no reason without thinking twice?

Religion is hard.

Update: I wrote a letter to the prophet
Dear Prophet Bobby,

I like this new religion, but I am having trouble reconciling it with my belief that Ninjas are awesome. I don't know if you are aware that Ninjas wail on pirates all the time, and are mainly responsible for the decline in their numbers. Are Ninjas agents of the Anti-FSM (is there an Anti-FSM?) or do you think Ninjas just do things for no reason without thinking twice about it because of their six foot boners?

Julie O.

Moderate Churches Support Government Infrastructure

It's about time the moderate churches started speaking out and separating themselves from the wingnut churches
Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a local free-market think tank, is leading the charge against C and D. "If we're concerned about the poor, the last thing we want to do is put a tax increase on them," he said.

Caldara said the money the government would spend on services, rather than rebate to taxpayers, will stall the economic recovery. That would leave families with fewer dollars to contribute to private charities, including churches, he said.

But Melinda Lanyk, community relations director for Denver Urban Ministries, said churches can help best when there is a good government infrastructure to aid the needy.

Churches see their roles as primarily providing emergency food and shelter, but so many people aren't getting help from the government that churches are providing ongoing aid to families - and falling short, she said.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease, and I'm tired of hearing only the fringes squealing.

Zero-Tolerance Kills Brain Cells

When I was in high school, I remember students being allowed to make announcements and give opinions over the PA system. So I don't really understand why allowing students to announce a morning prayer gathering at the flagpole would be a violation of the 1st Amendment's Establishment Clause.
The video used the words prayer and pray. Elias had suggested using a version of the video without those words, but the student group filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to force the broadcast of the original version.

It must be part of that same "erring on the side of caution" impulse that zero-tolerance policies cause in school officials, and in some Federal judges. That was my polite way of saying that fear of lawsuits makes school officials incapable of rational thought and action, so they make stupid blanket decisions.

As long as the school allows student groups to make announcements about student club activities, there's no reason to disallow this one which contains non-offensive or illegal subject matter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Desperate for Good Chinese Food in Denver Area

One of the first things we look for when we move to a new city is good American-style Chinese food. In the last three cities we lived, we found it in strip mall store fronts. We've tried nearly every Chinese restaurant in Centennial, and have not yet found the right stuff.

Here's what we're looking for:
  • Hot and Sour soup -- it must be on the thick side and contain egg, tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and possibly chicken. We found one decent one so far.
  • Fried Dumplings -- my favorite, should be made of pork, preferrably contain ginger. I haven't found anything that is even close to acceptable yet, and I actually had to spit one out of my mouth, which is like sacrilege.
  • Fried Rice -- should contain eggs, carrots, peas, scallions and some sort of meat at a mininum. I'm shocked that so many restaurants here don't put much of anything in the fried rice.
  • Lo-mein -- shouldn't be too thick and doughy or too thin and must be available extra spicy with pork.
We'd prefer a restaurant to the south of Denver city limits, but would be willing to travel occasionally. Right now, the closest thing to acceptable American-style Chinese that I know of is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and my husband doesn't like the lo-mein.

Please don't let Jacksonville, FL beat out Denver for Chinese food.

My Ears Stopped Ringing from the Green Day Concert

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary, and my husband took me to the Jimmy Eat World/Green Day concert last night. It was my first large venue concert, besides the Violent Femmes/Pixies concert at Red Rocks, which was a different experience. My husband kidded me that we'd be the oldest ones there, except for the band, but we weren't. Not even close.

The last time I saw Green Day was in 1991, when my roommate asked me, "Do you want to go to Green Day and Transition with me?" I knew who Transition was, since her "boyfriend" was in it, but wondered if Green Day was like Earth Day and had something to do with recycling. They played for free to a group of about 100 in the Mary Ward Cantina at San Francisco State. I only remember "One of My Lies" from that first concert. They were awesome, excellent musicians with great songs, and they set the bar which no other bands who played at Mary Ward could meet. Again, not even close.

They're still awesome, and they set another bar for me. I was exhausted, half deaf, and hoarse by the time the concert ended. Good stuff.

I was only pissed that we missed most of Jimmy Eat World, who I really like, because light rail apparently decided on this evening they would only run once an hour rather than every fifteen minutes, as they had every other time we've taken it. And then the Pepsi Center staff held up the entrance line about ten minutes for some reason. Once the line started moving, we were inside in five minutes.

Also, the restaurant we went to beforehand served weak drinks, as my buzz was gone by the time I got out of the bathroom. Then at the Pepsi Center, the World's Oldest and Slowest Man was serving drinks, so we skipped the alcohol there.

Overall, though, a great evening.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Clinton's Belief Proves It!

I love these types of point-by-point smackdowns. It reminds me of the heady days of message boards.

But I want to go on about something that Jesse Taylor says succinctly, as well as deal with an update at Powerline

Clinton's assertion that there was "no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction" is a flat-out lie. The Consensus Estimate of the American intelligence agencies has been made public, and we have quoted from it and linked to it on many occasions. America's intelligence agencies said, with a "high degree of confidence," that Saddam possessed both chemical and biological weapons. These were the same intelligence reports that Clinton received as President, so he is well aware of them. His statement was not a mistake, it was a lie.

You know what would constitute evidence that there were WMD two years after we invaded and occupied the place they were supposed to be?


An update at Powerline

UPDATE: Reader Steve Tefft sends this Clinton quote from July 23, 2003:

[I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.

That was then, I guess; this is now. And 2008 is just a few short years away. So it's time, apparently, to revise the historical record.

Um, Hindrocket, "no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction" and "[I]t is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons" are not contradictory statements unless you think that the inability to prove a negative is evidence of the positive. Hey, isn't that the entire rationale behind ID?

See, it was incontestable that stocks of BW and CW were unaccounted for, but it was not incontestable that Iraq possessed WMD. The evidence wasn't that there were WMDs, the evidence was that the lack of evidence of the lack of WMDs was evidence that there might be WMDs if you squint at it in the right light.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Halloween in Colorado

My favorite time of year!!

Find corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses near you in Colorado. Since this is my first time living year-round in Colorado, I could use advice about the ones that are worth visiting/paying for.

Internet Halloween resources for news, products, information:

For those who prefer their Halloween all realistic 'n stuff,

For the right environment year 'round

Through a Glass Darkly

As a religious holiday

If you want a Christian perspective on the evils of and alternatives to Halloween, try Google.

P.S. Don't forget to get your Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks. MMMMMMM.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Would Tancredo Bomb Himself?

Dear Rep. Tancredo,

I thank you for taking the time to respond to me in a form letter regarding your opinion about bombing Mecca, and welcoming the opportunity for a national dialogue about deterring al-Qaeda. However, I would have preferred that it addressed my comments, not the comments of others.

In my letter to you, I had not expressed offense, but addressed the subject of what could be done, not only to deter al-Qaeda, but other terrorists who would harm the U.S. and its citizens, as well. I agree that radical fundamentalists who support terrorism should be purged and repudiated, and wonder when you will be doing that to Pat Robertson, Randall Terry, Neal Horsely, and James P. Wickstrom?

Your focus on only Muslim terrorists ignores the domestic terrorists we have right here in the United States. They were born here, are white, purport to be Christian, and are as much a threat to the United States as foreign-born terrorists who claim Islam as a religion.

The Oklahoma City bombing was the most deadly attack on the U.S. until al-Qaeda accidentally knocked down the World Trade Center (they didn't expect the collapse). The anthrax attacks that killed several citizens and threatened a U.S. Senator right after 9/11 -- which has so far gone unsolved -- was a domestic biological attack, the only such biological attack on our country.

Yet you are more concerned with Muslims. In your letter to me, you said "Hajjar went on to say that 'there are no innocent people,' and referred to the victims of the attack as 'collateral casualties.'" "Collateral damage" was the term Timothy McVeigh used to describe the children killed in Oklahoma City. And your suggestion that bombing holy sites might be an appropriate response means you share that view; those who not only support and advocate terrorism, but do not actively speak and act against it are not innocent people, they are collateral casualties. That is terrorism, too.

Given that U.S. citizens who advocate hatred and murder are not only not in indefinite detention, but actually have television shows and seats in Congress, and who earn millions in donations from fellow Americans, I wonder which location you would advocate bombing here in the US?

Julie O.

Tom Tancredo Responds; Updated

Last week I got a letter from Tom Tancredo's office in response to one of the emails I sent. It was probably about nuking Mecca. I didn't have time to read it, put it up on a shelf, and forgot about it until today. It's gone, and I'm afraid my husband, in an uncharacteristic cleaning fit, may have tossed it.

Here's what it probably said, though

Dear constituent,

Blahblah your concerns blahblah security blahblah terrorism blahblah nuke Mecca blahblah large bowl of porridge blahblah illegal immigration.
He's mad. Mad.

[subtly edited to make it ever so slightly amusing]

Update: My husband just moved the letter. Following is the form letter Tancredo sent to thousands (well, tens) of other letter-writers. I know it's a form letter, because I never mentioned being "offended" in my letter, and in fact took his "nothing off the table" argument further.

September 6, 2005
Dear Julie:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding my comments regarding how best to deter future terrorist attacks. I appreciate you taking the time to write to me.

Without question, my comments have prompted strong reactions from many quarters, but they have also served to start a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and other would-be Islamic terrorists.

Many critics of my statements have characterized them as "offensive," and indeed they may have offended some. But in this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed, al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is "offended" by televised images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin Towers as they collapsed.

Few can argue that our current approach to this war has deterred fundamentalists from killing Westerners - nor has it prompted moderate Muslims and leaders of Muslim countries to do what is necessary to crack down on the extremists in their midst who perpetuate these grisly crimes.

People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these statements. Indeed, we often hear the Western Governments bring these attacks on themselves. Just days after the London subway attacks two weeks ago, for example, Tariq Ali, a prominent British Muslim activist, was quick to suggest the London residents "paid the price" for British support in the Iraq campaign. A professor in Lebanon, Dr. George Hajjar, went even further, proclaiming, "I hope that every patriotic and Islamic Arab will participate in this war, and will shift the war not only to America, but to ... wherever America may be." Hajjar went on to say that "there are no innocent people," and referred to the victims of the attack as "collateral casualties."

While I realize that some people around the world may be offended by my comments, I do not believe that the U.S. should take any option or target off the table, regardless of the circumstances. It is my hope that my comments my [sic] help to dissuade fundamentalist Muslim extremists from planning or carrying out terrorist attacks against the western world. The aforementioned statements by the influential Muslim leaders I outlined above are fairly "offensive" statements, to be sure. Unfortunately, however, the kinds of sentiments expressed by Ali and Hajjar are sadly commonplace in the Muslim world, where justification for terrorist attacks like the ones that rocked London, New York and Washington is never in short supply.

Fundamentalist Muslims have advocated the destruction of the West since long before the attacks of Sept. 11, long before the Madrid, London and Bali attacks, long before the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, long before the attack on the USS Cole and the 1993 WTC bombing. In many respects, the decision of the Islamic world to acquiesce to these actions and even provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global safety and security as the attacks themselves.

Until Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue. And as long as this war goes on, being "offended" should be the least of anyone's worries.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I encourage you to visit my Internet website at where you can sign up for the Capitol Update, my weekly E-mail newsletter.


Thomas Tancredo
Member of Congress

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Johnny Cash Sings Again

The storm it was a coming up the whole damn coast
It caught us with our pants down, and turned us into toast
It broke down a few levees, a thing quite unforeseen
And the waters flooded into town, they flooded New Orleans

The government was set to go, was chomping at the bit
It made itself a pot of joe and lit a cigarette
It went outside in darkness and loaded up the truck
Then stood awhile and stretched a bit, before it passed the buck

Full lyrics by poet extraordinaire MJS at Corrente.

Was It #1 Or #2?

"I knew I shouldn't have had the spicy nachos with black beans. Please please please stay together, cheeks."

This Can't Be Repeated Enough

The failure of the federal response to Katrina was not a failure of government, it was a failure of governance. As Jesse Taylor wrote
Government is not responsible for this. The people in charge of the government are. Government, for some reason, is never the sum of its parts, but always a sum irrespective of its parts. It's a curious implication for elections, though - if government simply doesn't work, why does it matter who we elect? They're never going to be able to do any better or any worse than anyone else in the same position.

Those who are in charge of our government now don't value the institutions they were elected or appointed to govern, therefore they have undermined those institutions. Another good point Jesse makes
Listen, let's cut the crap. Is there some section of Hayek's writings, some secret part of the GOP propoganda manual, that reveals the existence of a person named "Government"? Is there some guy sitting somewhere, stamping everything that politicians and appointees do, who's ultimately responsible for everything that happens? The alternate version of this outlook with regards to the private market would basically be hardcore Marxism - the failure of any capitalist enterprise is the failure of all.

Private enterprise can screw up just as much, do as much damage if not more, as government. Only when it's private, there's no FOIA requests, no obligation to inform, no transparency, no oversight. In the case of this cartoon, all of those failures are of policies and governing priorities.

Religious Tolerance; Win Some, Lose Some

The mayor and town council of Ramah, CO, apologized to the pagan group who will be holding a festival at the American Legion hall October 30.


No link, but David Habecker, an agnostic city council member in Estes Park, CO, was recalled for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance at the commencement of meetings. He is suing, as the pledge is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and was used as a "religious test" for him to hold public office. The U. S. Justice Department does not back Habecker.


Meanwhile, in another state, a federal judge has ruled that the words "under God" make the Pledge an unconsitutional endorsement of religion. Michael Newdow wins this round, as the families he represented do have standing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Big Repug Lie

I don't remember what link from what blog lead me to this a couple of days ago, so I'm sorry for giving no credit. But I read William Greider's Rolling Back the 20th Century and spotted the Big Repug Lie; the Myth of the Rugged Individual.

Repugs say they value the rugged individual who works hard, doesn't ask for handouts, pulls himself up by his own bootstraps (nevermind the physical impossibility of that). It makes for a more robust civilization, apparently, when people don't rely on others for assistance, even when one group is actively oppressing another.

Also nevermind that no one in the history of the world has ever accomplished anything truly great alone. Even great authors and artists take from what has come before, and often rely on the patronage of the wealthy, starve to death, or create their masterpieces during their off-hours (if they're able to in their weakened exhaustion from "freely contracting" their labor services). Heck, even Jesus Christ had 12 apostles to spread the word after his death.

The image of the rugged individual is the homesteader. He sells everything but the essentials, packs up, and undertakes taming the wilderness with nothing but an axe and pit stains. If only our nation's poor people had the homesteading spirit, goes the thinking, they would pack their essential belongings on their backs and walk to where there is safety and work, and NOLA and recessions would never happen.

The symbolic (and literal) obstacle to the success of such a philosophy is, of course, the Sheriffs of Gretna, Louisiana. That is, the power of the wealthy to oppress the poor and keep them from succeeding and saving themselves.

An immutable fact of life that explains alot throughout human history is that the powerful want to keep their power. It's part of the survival instinct, and is thus a lizard-brain response. Another technique for survival is to join together and work for a common cause. That, too, is a form of power.

And that's why Repugs want to destroy public assistance programs, unions, and the very ideas of socialism and communism (which have their drawbacks, but that's for another discussion). They require disorganized, uneducated, powerless masses to serve them. That is why they revere the myth of the rugged individual: the rugged individual will not whine that the wealthy are using their power to keep him down, he'll just work harder; he won't join forces with other rugged individuals to demand fair treatment from his employers, he'll just make his own business -- and exploit those weaker than himself.

The myth of the rugged individual is a way to divide and conquer us.

Obviously there are those who would take advantage of a system that gives aid to those born to inauspicious beginnings, just as there are those who take advantage of a system that favors those born to auspicious beginnings. Both users have a sense of entitlement, either that society owes them a living just for existing, or that their parents, universities, and frat buddies owe them a living just for existing.

Neither should be allowed free reign.

The 20th Century had a lot of problems. But there was greater wealth, stability, inclusion, and success for more Americans than any other century. That happened after an era which attempted to correct the irresponsible and unfair practices of the wealthy and powerful. Labor unions, civil rights, the New Deal -- these things are anathema to those who didn't need them to succeed, but they were a boon and a blessing to the masses.

My mom, who grew up in the 50s, likes to say that I don't know what's been lost, so I don't miss it. I wonder if she, and the other generations who came after the Great Depression, realize what has been gained, since they don't know what was lacking before. The middle class utopia of the 50s was created by people who were tired of being used and abused, who wrested power from those who nearly destroyed a great country for personal profit.

And here we are again, in the hands of the great-granchildren of the same people who not only don't value collective action, organizations, and civic responsibility, but fear them as threats to their privileged way of life. And here we are on the brink of a breakdown of those institutions and values that lead us to a prosperous, more-inclusive country.

I may not have known what was lost from the 50s, but I do know what could be lost now. As Willliam Greider wrote
Autonomy can be lonely and chilly, as millions of Americans have learned in recent years when the company canceled their pensions or the stock market swallowed their savings or industrial interests destroyed their surroundings. For most Americans, there is no redress without common action, collective efforts based on mutual trust and shared responsibilities.

The former scares me a heck of a lot more than marauding bands of pierced punks who moon cops and have premarital anal sex, and the latter is my comfort and hope.

Logical Leaps; God Loves Penguins Above All His Creations

I just don't get how the conservative mind works, that they think penguins are somehow evidence for Intelligent Design, or even that the difficulties penguins overcome raising babies should shame certain humans who enjoy killing children, like Morgan Freeman, who, according to Jill Stanek, is "pro-abort." :/

Yeah, maybe primates and all other animals should be more like penguins, who apparently don't kill their own or others' babies, or push them out of nests to die. But maybe that makes penguins, rather than humans, the creature that God Intelligently Designed, since they are so clearly morally superior to all other creatures on Earth.

Update: I forgot...some penguins are gay. I wonder how that fits into the conservative equation.

For Sci-Fi Super Fans

J. Marcus Xavier was kind enough to introduce me to his site, PlanetFandom. There's a variety of links to satisfy the obsessions of sci-fi fans in many categories, from Original Star Trek to Stargate SG-2 (I'm very excited to discover a new spinoff) and features fan films and podcasts. I hadn't heard a podcast before; it's like a radio program.

It's a nice centralized resource for people like me, who like some sci-fi programs but don't take the time to search the specific related sites. I had checked out fan sites before, but they're often so -- how do I put this -- into the one subject, it's hard for me to get through the minutiae that true Super Fans enjoy. JMX finds the cool stuff for me.

Cool stuff like Lux Lucre's Firefly Page, which renders the Firefly characters in South Park style.

And Stone Trek.
For anyone who might be unfamiliar with the Stone Trek series, it's basically an animated take-off of Star Trek meets The Flintstones, complete with 1960's style laugh tracks, goofy animations, and a starship that runs on a particularly temperamental volcano for a warp core.

FWIW, I recommend Stone Trek. Quality production values, and it loads quickly. [sarcasm]Thank goodness for that laugh track, or I wouldn't know what was funny. Too bad Arrested Development doesn't have a laugh track.[/sarcasm]

I've added a new group of links in my sidebar for Super Fans. I'll add more links as I discover them, and have time.

[edited to include link]

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

How Stupid Are Some People?


Maybe the designers of Crescent of Embrace (the winning design for the memorial to Flight 93) -- Paul Murdoch Architects, Nelson Byrd Woltz, RBA Partners, Sato & Boppana, Davis Langdon, George Saxton Associates, Clayton Lee Rugh, Paulynn Cue, Aleksander Novak-Zemplinski, Design Models, Inc., Steve Payne -- are Islamofacists.

But it seemed like the loveliest and most apt design to me. I love red trees and big hugs.

Now, I will concede that a giant red crescent may say "Islam" to some people with overactive imaginations, though that crescent is yellow with a star and is a symbol of the moon. A red crescent evokes Communism to me, though that is also yelly and actually a scythe. Check out the name of one of the designers -- Aleksander Novak-Zemplinski. 'Nuff said.

I did notice that "A black slate plaza and sloped wall form a front to the Sacred Ground." Black slate walls could make some people think of Mecca! Holy crap, they're sloped slate walls in a red crescent is soooo Islamofacist.

And if some people do view a red crescent and black slate walls as an homage to Islam, then those people could look at it this way: non-Muslims are not allowed in Mecca. If we build our own, we can touch it all we want. So there. And then we should nuke it. That'll show 'em.

A Deadhead Bush Supporter?

That's something you don't see every day.
Spc. Bill Prather, of Lakewood, could scarcely believe his luck when he learned he'd be in the same place as the president was supposed to be. In fact, the 36-year-old Republican likened meeting Bush to meeting his other idols - namely members of The Grateful Dead.

"This is a big deal for me," he said. "It's like meeting God. Or like meeting Jerry Garcia."

Bush Takes Responsibility?

Sure, he says it. Let's see what he does to prove he means it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Timid Red Cross?

Digby says of why the Red Cross didn't enter NOLA to render assistance
Irrational fear of the mob was the reason the Red Cross didn't enter the city.

Didn't the Red Cross used to enter war zones with no absolute reassurance they wouldn't be killed, as well?

Oh, it's the International Committee of the Red Cross, not the American Red Cross. Says Michael Ignatieff in Crimes of War Project
ICRC representatives, known as “delegates” work with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in the field, and most of their local field workers come from the national societies. Institutionally, however, the ICRC looks on the national societies warily, believing that some of their leaderships are either corrupt or excessively partial to the policies of the local ruling elites.
Since its creation, the ICRC has been trying to stay true to its mission of being “first in and last out” of any war zone.
The ICRC sometimes pays the price for its staying on. On December 17, 1996, in an ICRC hospital near Grozny, Chechnya, masked assailants scaled the wall of the compound and using pistols fitted with silencers executed six Red Cross personnel in their sleep. But the ICRC still refuses to post armed guards inside hospitals or as escorts for their convoys.

Too bad we didn't have the ICRC in NOLA. Or at least a Clara Barton.

Chermaine Neville

Something I noticed in Chermaine Neville's account of being trapped in NOLA
Time after time they signaled for helicopters to help them but there weren’t nearly enough in the air. And they dropped no food or water, either. "We couldn't understand why they couldn’t help us,” she says on the video. The National Guard, she recalls bitterly, was absent.
Helicopters would pass over and "we would do the SOS on our flashlights" but they never stopped. Thousands were still trapped in their homes -- old, young, pregnant, children. Some men fired guns as choppers approached, but they "weren't trying to hit the helicopters. They figured maybe they weren't seeing us. Maybe if they heard this gunfire, they would stop, but that didn't help us."

That makes a lot more sense than the explanations some have given that people shooting at rescue helicopters were just lawless animals.

via First Draft.

Meet My FEMA Flunky

"...Mr. Maurstad was the Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, a position to which he was elected in 1998. In that position, Mr. Maurstad served as federal liaison and tribal liaison and chairman of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, he also worked with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services on early childhood learning issues and created a program to recognize young people from across Nebraska for their achievements and personal courage.

"Mr. Maurstad had previously served as a member of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature. He had also previously served on the Beatrice School Board and was mayor of that city.

"Mr. Maurstad holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and an MBA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln."

To be fair, education in America is becoming a federal disaster.

Via Atrios.

Effective Government

It got sewn into a bag, beaten with a stick, and tossed into New Orleans after the levees were breached. So says Corrente
"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Remember what Grover Norquist said? He said he wants to make government so small he can drown it in a bathtub. Well, under Bush we have a government that's large in size, but puny in performance—so I bet that's good enough for Grover.

"New Orleans filling up like a bowl." Yes, Norquist, Bush, and thirty years of Republican governance have succeeded. They've won. They finally drowned the government.

Their government drowned in the "bowl" of New Orleans. Too hollowed out, too puny, to function. Their government drowned in the the bowl of New Orleans, along with thousands of American dead their government was too hollowed out, too puny, too conflicted, too politicized, too ideological, and too in denial to rescue.

You put people in charge of the government who want to drown it, sooner or later it's going to drown. Now it has. It's going to up to the American people to decide whether a drowned government is the kind of government they want.

I never voted Repug, but I remember thinking, "Maybe it would be best if they get their way. We'll try the Repug experiment for a few years, and when it all goes to Hell, the Repugs will remain a minority party for a very long time...again."

How come it's my bad ideas that usually happen?

"Looking For a Democratic F@#$buddy Tonight?"

I'm trying to avoid using the "R" word, as GoogleAds apparently thinks I want to date Repugs. Thence the title and the use of the words "Reps" or "Repugs".

Thing is, deflowering an uncorrupted, straight-laced, buttoned down, wealthy and powerfully connected Young Repug is appealing. Too bad such a creature is a myth.

Paramedics' Story Gets National Coverage

In the New York Times, via Atrios.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A New Obsession

I just discovered Joss Whedon's Firefly. I always feel like I'm coming late to the dance with any series by Joss Whedon. I didn't start watching Buffy and Angel until after Buffy was over and Angel was in the middle of its last season.

Even this season, when they started showing Firefly on Sci-Fi Friday, I didn't start watching it until halfway through the third episode, Bushwhacked. When I discovered the movie Serenity is coming out this September, I finally felt I came upon a Whedon project in a timely manner, so started renting the series from Netflix. I got the first DVD on Thursday, and have since watched the pilot Serenity three times plus once with commentary; Train Job once, plus once with commentary; and Bushwhacked once. And I'm going to watch the last two one more time tomorrow before I mail it back on Monday.

My husband asked me if the obsession was Nathan Fillion or Adam Baldwin. I told him it was the Companion, but if I have a crush on anyone, it's Joss Whedon, and I don't even know what he looks like. But seriously, I just love the show. I can't even watch Stargate or Battlestar Galactica this obsessively. I have a great deal of respect for the story and the storytelling all around.

Anyway, good riddance Michael Brown.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Shocking Official Behavior in NOLA

There was a highly disturbing account of local official behavior in the aftermath of Katrina by two California EMS workers who were in NOLA for a convention.

It answers the question Shepherd Smith asked about why people weren't allowed to cross the freeway to Gretna, which I had suspected at the time.

Snopes doesn't appear to be carrying it, and I was going to snope it myself, but found through Pandagon that Making Light had already snoped it. Please read Making Light's post.

I'll simply add that Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky do exist, are paramedics from California, members of Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790, as these two minutes, dated 05/26/05 and 07/14/05 of the SF Fire Commission meetings attest. There's plenty of corroboration for much of their account, thus no reason to think they're lying about parts, such as having their supplies stolen at gunpoint by a Gretna sheriff.

Are You Ready for Some Football Persecution?

It's that time of the year again. The leaves turn colors and crunch underfoot; sleeves and shadows lengthen; I start considering taking up witchcraft again; the fundies try to oppress Pagans. It's my favorite time of year...except for that last thing.

A Pagan coven rented an American Legion hall in Ramah, CO (not too far from the Springs), for a Pagan festival to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. There will be a "carnival, crafts fair, Italian dinner, live music and midnight prayer ritual." It's that last part that has the fundies upset, even though it's a prayer just like any other, but which doesn't evoke the One True God™ in the proper way.

Doucette-Johnson, whose soldier husband is currently serving in Iraq, said the midnight ritual involves standing in a circle, turning to face each of the four directions and giving thanks for loved ones that are alive and those who have died.

"People bring pictures of people they've lost," she said. "We don't harm anyone in our ritual. We anoint people with oil and use incense, like the Catholics."

Oh, when will people learn. The fundies think Catholics are cultists, too. And it's not what you do, it's what you believe. You must believe the right things in the right way.

The date of the carnival is Saturday, October 29, unless the fundie gets 500 signatures, I guess.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Basic Philosophical Difference

ArchPundit quotes an unlinked Alan Keyes, who quotes an unlinked Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, who declares...well, I'm not too sure what his point is, or who he is criticizing. Our institutions are failing because of a "political and moral crisis that has been building for years," and "we are also tragically watching our country’s political institutions, our people’s moral fiber, and most vividly, our allegiance to the principle of the rule of law—clearly beginning to fray and rend under the terrible stress of Katrina’s devastation."

I really don't think he's arguing the same political and moral crisis that I would argue, and I don't know how the rule of law is being frayed by the stress any more than would have happened at any other time under similar circumstances. I agree with this passage, though I doubt I agree the way he would have meant it
But we have known for some time that our national capacity for goodness and greatness as a people has been under assault. Now we see how insufficient has been our national response to the political and moral crisis that has been building for years.

Our national (Federal Government) capacity, as determined by many conservatives who believe that government isn't meant to help people; people need to help themselves, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, sink or swim. The national (Federal Government) response to human suffering in this situation was slow because of that attitude coupled with the attitude that the Federal Government is meant to enrich one's unqualified friends who need jobs at FEMA.

Be that as it may, I noticed this one sentence
America is a nation of laws, not of men. Lawlessness—or casual regard for human worth and the institutions of society—will not prevail.

Since I started thinking about such things, I always thought that laws were created to serve man, man was not created to serve laws. If a law is unjust, for example, there is a moral imperative to disobey and challenge it. A society may have laws which reflect a casual regard for human worth and institutions.

Mr. Gilchrist needs to be more specific in what he is railing against. Is the casual regard for human worth he fears based on the criminal behaviors he's heard of in NOLA, or is it the response some have had which blame those stuck there for not leaving? Is the casual regard for the institutions of society he fears based on the looting of pharmacies and shooting of helicopters, or is it the lackadaisical response of the Federal Government which doesn't seem to value itself as an institution?

Isn't it interesting how the same words used by people with different basic philosophies can have radically opposite meanings? If that's what he meant.

Donate More for Direct Action

I was driving around today (of necessity, not fun, when Costco gas is nearly $3/gallon) thinking that, if I were super wealthy, I'd load up my personal jet with supplies, fly down to the Gulf, drop them off, and pick up as many people as I could to get them out of there. I also thought, "Hey, doesn't John Travolta have a 737 parked in Florida? What's he doing?"

Then the Ed Schultz Show came on, and guess what...he and his wife flew down to the Gulf and picked up some people to take home to Fargo, ND. And they've started a charity called Adopt a Family of Hurricane Katrina Trust Fund. Donations can be mailed to
Adopt a Family of Hurricane Katrina Trust Fund
% Ed Schultz
1020 25th ST S
Fargo, North Dakota 58103

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hannity Blaming NOLA cops?

Did I just see Sean Hannity blame New Orleans cops for not being dead?

He was asking Geraldo why the local authorities didn't get the people out with 900 buses just sitting around. Geraldo said something about the cops being "inundated." Then Hannity said something about how, on 9/11, facing certain death, those heroic New York cops did their duty, anyway.

What is wrong with that man?

What is the Truth of Violence in NOLA?

Digby has a great piece comparing the current situation in NOLA to past instances of racial disharmony, the fear of large angry black crowds, especially in Newark, 1967, when police indiscriminately killed black people they feared. At the time, the victims were initially blamed for instigating the violence, which wasn't true.

I don't honestly think there is any racist conspiracy at work. There doesn't need to be. All it takes is a reactivation of long held racist beliefs and attitudes --- attitudes that led the president to say that they had "secured" the convention center on Friday night --- which we all saw in that amazing FoxNews footage actually meant that the desperate survivors had been locked inside the sweltering hellhole. It was the attitude that had tourists staying at the Hyatt hotel being given special dispensation to go to the head of the lines at the Superdome. It was the attitude that made my racist companions disgusted by the "animals" at the convention center because they were living in filth fail to grasp that these people had been expecting to be rescued at any moment for more than four days.

It's that attitude that led these people to talk endlessly about rape with lurid imagery and breathless, barely contained excitement. This too is part of the American lizard brain.

Now we hear of the "animals" in NOLA, who were raping children in the Superdome and murdering each other. But are there any credible reports of rape or murder there? The UK's Guardian reports none of the stories have yet been substantiated by authorities, and suggest many may turn out to be apocryphal, and reflect the kind of fear of large groups of blacks that Digby writes of.

Reports of the complete degradation and violent criminals running rampant in the Superdome suggested a crisis that both hastened the relief effort and demonised those who were stranded.

By the end of last week the media in Baton Rouge reported that evacuees from New Orleans were carjacking and that guns and knives were being seized in local shelters where riots were erupting.

The local mayor responded accordingly.

"We do not want to inherit the looting and all the other foolishness that went on in New Orleans," Kip Holden was told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "We do not want to inherit that breed that seeks to prey on other people."

The trouble, wrote Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune is that "scarcely any of it was true - the police confiscated a single knife from a refugee in one Baton Rouge shelter".

"There were no riots in Baton Rouge. There were no armed hordes."

Similarly when the first convoy of national guardsmen went into New Orleans approached the convention centre they were ordered to "lock and load".

But when they arrived they were confronted not by armed mobs but a nurse wearing a T-shirt that read "I love New Orleans".

"She ran down a broken escalator, then held her hands in the air when she saw the guns," wrote the LA Times.

"We have sick kids up here!" she shouted.

"We have dehydrated kids! One kid with sickle cell!"

Bill Weinberg offers a good summation of "Urban Combat" in NOLA.

The Biggest WH Slush Fund Ever

And why shouldn't some good come out of the NOLA disaster for the Bush Administration's buddies? They'd better get while the gettin's good, because their joy ride at our expense is almost over.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Shameless Senior WH Officials Lying to Deflect Blame

Josh Marshall has been following the story that first the Washington Post printed a claim from some anonymous White House official that part of the delay in getting help to Louisiana was Gov. Blanco's fault for not declaring a state of emergency, calling her "uncertain and sluggish." Newsweek printed the same claim a week later, unsourced. The fact is, she declared a state of emergency August 26.

The same claim that Gov. Blanco was twiddling her thumbs and not acting to two different publications a week apart. It's becoming a bit clichéd, but the NY Times confirmed that the White House damage control is being run by...wait for it...Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett. Shameless liars.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

NOLA Disaster a Sign of the Times

Douglas Rushkoff -- author of many books, essays, and articles -- writes on his weblog
What those who are afraid of civil society breaking down don't realize is that civil society has already broken down! This is not a civil society we live in, but a profiteering, every-man-for-himself, oligarchy.
It is in the midst of a crisis that you learn the most about someone or something. During the blackout of a couple of years ago, all of us New Yorkers learned which merchants were really parts of the community, and which ones simply shuttered their doors in the face of human need.

We're learning a lot about our government, and ourselves, this week. Those black faces seem just a little bit closer to home when they're in Louisiana than when they're in Darfur. Should they? Maybe not. But they should remind us of just how real the inequity and opportunity divide in this country really are, and how readily so many of us are to blame those being flooded and starved for our crimes against them.

The comments contain further good information.

I found the post through Terry Heaton's Pomo Blog, in which Terry says
When everyday people survey the landscape that is our modern culture, they see walled gardens, locked gates and institutionalized silos of protected knowledge. There is a gut-level knowing that something just isn't right, and the ease with which people used to simply accept that which was given them is disappearing. Every time one of our vaunted institutions fails (as we're watching this week), blind trust slips further away.

Both worth a read.

Update: This is a recurring theme recently, and it's truly awful that NOLA is the living (and dying) example of the breakdown of our secure and orderly society. We've allowed our government to allow NOLA to happen. From Riggsveda at Corrente
When government abdicates the very skeleton of its duties to private interests, are we surprised to find that even the most crucial, life-or-death things only get done if they balance positively against somebody's cost-benefit analysis? These are the people who brayed proudly how they were going to get rid of their own functions, then set about proving it time and again in Interior, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Housing. And now we are surprised that they sat on their hands while thousands died? This is their ideology in action. This is who and what they are. This is George Bush's gift to you.

We have a complex society, a first-world country, one of the most technologically advanced. It's not a nation of gentleman farmers and rugged pioneers anymore. Complex, fast-moving societies (perhaps to our chagrin) require regulation, oversight, and bureaucracy.

News Organizations Are a Branch of Government

Your tax dollars, hard at work, sitting on their butts watching television
As the video rolled, Hemmer and Schneider made their way down a crowded hallway. They passed a room Schneider identified as FEMA's headquarters and then they entered a large room filled with approximately 150 people. Banks of computers were everywhere. One wall was covered with a huge (6' x 25'?) video screen divided into giant squares (24" x 24"?), each showing a separate moving image. Schneider said, "all the state agencies" were in that room,"coordinating recovery efforts."
Continuing, Hemmer wondered, "During the course of the aftermath, how much information did you take into the office by watching television?" Schneider said, "Quite a bit, because your organization and other national organizations who were down range and able to transmit right after the storm, provided us with almost the very first situational reports as to what was going on. Although it was limited to where you were, it kinda helped gain what we were up against." (Emphasis added.)
In July, 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), held a five-day exercise in the very building Hemmer toured. The disaster preparedness exercise centered around a fake hurricane named "Pam," that brought, "sustained winds of 120 mph, up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. More than one million residents evacuated and Hurricane Pam destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings." At the time, FEMA said it held the exercise to, "help officials develop joint response plans for a catastrophic hurricane in Louisiana." Yet one week ago, with a storm stronger than "Pam" approaching, the only plan the homeland security people had for getting their "first situational reports," was to watch cable news? Incredible.

(from Melanie at News Hounds)

A Plethora of Stupidity

Is it just me, or are there more stupid statements being made now in previous weeks? Captain Salty catches Neil Cavuto displaying some sort of blame-deflection
What we now have is the law of unintended consequences taking place, where FEMA (search) has come into New Orleans, a place
where, ecologically, it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River (search) from flooding into New
Orleans, like it naturally should.

See, it's all dumb New Orleans' fault for defying nature. Bush just wants the Mississippi river to run free, like God intended, and not waste taxpayer money to prop up an entire city that shouldn't even exist.

The Captain calls BS.
After all, the Founding Fathers never intended federal money to be used to erect giant hydroelectic cash registers and above-ground, open air water storage tanks (reservoirs). They also never intended that Bureau of Reclamation -- created by a law that is fundamentally socialism at work -- would throttle most of the rivers of the American West for the benefit of a handful of farmers, who are growing crops in the middle of the desert.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Meet FEMA Head Michael Brown

Josh Marshall posts the goods.
So let me see if I understand this. Brown's a Republican from the southwest. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress when he was thirty-three. Then he bounced from job to job, finally getting into the sports business in mid-life, before getting canned. And then he used connections to land himself a high-powered position in the federal government for which he had no apparent experience at all.

How could such a fellow possibly be in the Bush administration?

We Get the Government We Deserve

Read P.Z. Myers.

Donate for Direct Action

If you're like Bill O'Reilly, and you think charitable organizations shouldn't keep any money for their own operating costs, then give to someone who is there, on the ground doing the work. Bob Geiger of Yellow Dog Blog is making a plea on behalf of Anntichrist Coulter of BlondeSense (who also comments spicily at the Generals' place) who is in Louisiana physically delivering aid.

Click the link for donation information.
Once again, that link is

(via Steve Gilliard)

Rant So Good

Eat your heart out, Dennis Miller. You only wish you could belt out an obscure reference rant like this anymore.
America's largest port is gone, maybe forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.

How did your wartime President react? Like Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded in 1944, with corrupt indifference.

Bush, the man your fever dreams built into the next Winston Churchill when he is really the live action Chauncey Gardiner, has failed to everyone, in plain sight, without question. Rick Perry is trying to save his ass, but it ain't working. NOLA looks like ANGOLA and that ain't flying.

Say 9/11 changed everything now, motherfuckers. Ooops, 9/11, 9/11. 9/11. Doesn't work anymore? Gee, maybe the sea of alligator MRE's once known as the citizens of New Orleans has something to do with that.

Dregs of Humanity Have Opinions, Too

Corrente posts some wretched comments from uncaring monsters about poor people stuck in disaster zones.

The Blog has Finally Arrived!

The much anticipated (by me, anyway, since I wanted to make fun of it) Tom Tancredo Blog has finally gone up. You can even submit your own blog posts for approval. Commenting welcomed, no membership necessary.

"Looting" vs "Finding"

Snopes is trying to be generous in understanding why two photos of people with food were described differently. The difference, as explained by the photographers, was that the white people were not seen entering or exiting a store to obtain the goods, while the black person was.
The photographer who took the Getty/AFP picture, Chris Graythen...
"we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow."

That was why he
"believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word."

The definitions I could find for "looting" involved taking things illegally or robbing or burglarizing during or after a catastrophe, which was my understanding before I looked it up.

If the people had found clothing, money, jewelry, or electronics floating out of a store or bank, that would still be looting. That's because it is illegal to take things when you know who they belong to, or have a way to find out. Finders Keepers is not a defense to theft, and the people in both photos were looting.

However, I would argue that, in the case of food or items necessary to survival in the wake of a catastrophe, there is a moral exception, as long as things aren't being taken from other people who are trying to survive. Jabbon Gibson stole an abandoned bus to save people; the people in the wire photos stole food from abandoned grocery stores to survive. They may eventually need to make restitution somehow, but they should not be treated as criminals. As a reflection of that moral difference (between stealing for survival and stealing for enrichment) both photos should have been described using terms other than "looting."

Jabbor Gibson is a Hero

Pam of Pam's House Blend is right that the young man who took an abandoned bus, loaded it with people, and drove them seven hours to Houston is a hero, especially given the highly inadequate relief efforts.

Update: Doesn't the fact that the Astrodome wasn't going to accept Jabbor Gibson's self-evacuated refugees because they weren't part of the "authorized" evacuation belie the assertion that the poor of NOLA were responsible for their own evacuation before the storm? Who was organizing and "authorizing" the evacuations to the Astrodome before Katrina arrived?

New Orleans, 1991

Yep, that's a mint julep

It Worked the First Time

Why does this sound familiar?
President George W. Bush said the other day that no one expected the levees to break.

Oh yeah
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," said national security adviser Condoleeza Rice on May 16, 2002.

(See the Mahablog for the things the Bush Administration has done to compound the trouble in New Orleans because they lacked the vital foreknowledge that disasters can be planned for and mitigated.)

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