Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Announcing the Barbara Bush Humanitarian of the Week award

Atrios has his "wanker of the day," Andrew Sullivan has a variety of awards named after people - why shouldn't Rogue Planet have its own little award?

The very first Barbara Bush Humanitarian of the Week award goes to Gabrielle Hamilton, owner and chef of a Manhattan restaurant called Prune. This is the article that earned Ms. Hamilton the award.

I hardly ever read the New York Times Sunday magazine, so it's a happy coincidence for award-winner Hamilton that I happened to have a copy of this past weekend's edition. Ms. Hamilton wrote an article called "Line of Sight," about her seeking to hire a line cook for her restaurant a couple of years ago. I had just finished reading the New Yorker's food issue (yeah, I'm a couple of weeks behind on my New Yorker reading) and had been fascinated by an article about short order egg cooks in Las Vegas, so I happily started to read Ms. Hamilton's article about her search for a line cook.

Hamilton placed an ad, received a promising resume, called the guy who sent it, and liked him. So she set up an interview.

Then this brought me up short:

The first thing I noticed when he arrived was that he was blind. His eyes wandered around in their sockets like tropical fish in the aquarium of a cheap hotel lobby.

That second line is remarkably mean, but what really struck me about it was its sheer awfulness and weirdness. It would be great in a parody of a pulp fiction short story, but was wildly out of place in this context. And what dreadful writing. I think what makes the badness of it "pop," as they say in the food world, are the two adjectives: "tropical" and "cheap." Tropical fish, mind you - not freshwater ones. That must be an important detail. And "cheap." The man's eyes didn't wander like fish in an aquarium in the Plaza, they wandered like fish in the aquarium of a cheap hotel lobby. I wondered why Hamilton specified "cheap." And "hotel lobby," for that matter. Why not an aquarium in a pet shop window? I've never seen an aquarium in a hotel lobby. Maybe it's a New York thing. Or, specifically, a cheap-New-York-hotel thing. Or maybe, many New York hotel lobbies feature aquariums but the fish in the cheap hotel lobbies wander in a different way than the ones in upscale hotels and Hamilton is acquainted with these different wandering patterns. And the man's eyes wandered like the cheap hotel lobby fish, not the upscale hotel lobby ones.

Or maybe Hamilton just threw the "cheap" in there because she thought it looked good.

I actually paused in my reading and dwelled for a few moments on that horrible sentence. Then I shook it off and moved on.

That was the only truly Leonard Pinthgarnel-worthy sentence in that article, but it didn't get better. In fact, but it got worse in other ways. During the interview with this poor guy, Hamilton observes that he's extremely nearsighted, though she doesn't use the word "nearsighted" - perhaps it's too prosaic for her. She gives him a menu from her restaurant and

He held it up to his face as if to breathe in its written contents, to discover by inhaling what it said in plain print.

Of course you and I know he was just holding up to his face so he could see the writing on it, but Hamilton's apparently never been around anyone with vision problems before.

Despite his apparent visual impairment, the prospective line cook does have restaurant experience and he knows restaurant lingo. Hamilton has serious misgivings about his ability to cope in a busy kitchen full of sharp knives, vats of scalding grease, and so forth, but for some reason, she decides to give him a trial run at her restaurant. She's not clear on why she decides to do this, although she talks cutely about how "I thought I was making some despicable assumptions about the 'sight impaired' and needed to get my politics up to date."

So the next day, the poor guy shows up for his trial run, called a "trail" in the restaurant trade for reasons Hamilton doesn't bother to explain. It's a disaster, according to her. In all the ways you would expect (I would have said "foreseen," but the article is strewn with godawful sight puns and cracks about the man's visual impairment). The guy seasons the counter instead of the meat and empties a basket of hot fries onto the floor. So Hamilton pulls him off the line.

I asked him, kindly, to step back to the wall and just watch a bit, explaining that the pace was about to pick up and I wanted to keep the line moving. This is - even when you have all your wits - the most humiliating part of a trail: when the chef takes you off of the line in the middle of your task.

"Even when you have all your wits?" The guy's visually impaired, not mentally impaired. Of course, I shudder to imagine the cruel article Ms. Hamilton would write if someone with Down Syndrome ever applied for a dishwashing job at her place.

Hamilton goes on:

To this point, I had somehow been willing to participate in whatever strange exercise this guy was putting himself through.

"Willing to participate?" That seems to be understating her role, given that she offered him the trial run, knowing he could barely see.

I was suspending disbelief, as we are all asked to do every time we go to a play or a movie. I know that this isn't real, but I agree to believe that it is for these two hours without intermission.

Thanks for explaining the concept of suspension of disbelief to us. However, it doesn't seem exactly apropos here. How about, "I have serious reservations about your ability to function in my busy restaurant kitchen but I can't be bothered to check your references, so why don't I invite you to cook for me anyway and then pretend that I'm just a passive observer in what can only be your conceptual art project."

Having pulled him off the line, Hamilton proceeds to vent her hostility on her prospective employee:

But something about the realization of the danger he was flirting with in service of his project, whatever his project was, suddenly made me furious. I took over the station and started slamming food onto the plates, narrating my actions to him in barely suppressed snide tones. "This," I practically hissed, "is the pickup on the prawns. Three in a stack, napped with anchovy butter. Wanna write that down?"

I exhausted myself with passive-aggressive vitriol. "On the rack of lamb, you want an internal temp of 125. Just read the thermometer, O.K?"

What a king-hell bee-yotch! I thought, reading this. Finally, Hamilton's sous chef, perhaps accustomed to her bizarre acting-out, takes pity on the guy and removes him to the "cold station," away from her "passive-aggressive vitriol."


The guy spent the rest of his trail with his back up against the wall in all the stations, eyes rolling around in his head, pretending to apprehend how each station worked. I spent the remainder of his trail wrestling meat and unattractive feelings triggered by this insane predicament in which we had found ourselves.

"Eyes rolling around in his head." Nice touch. Literary license is one thing, but Hamilton's talking about a real person, someone who never did a god-damned thing to her. At this point in my reading, I'm starting to think that Hamilton is some kind of clinical sociopath. The "predicament in which we had found ourselves" is telling; Hamilton never acknowledges how her own acts and omissions contributed to this unfortunate predicament.

The next day, Hamilton calls the guy and tells him she was "looking for someone with a little more power, a bit more of a heavy hitter," but she would keep him mind if "a position more aligned with his skills became available."

Final sentence:

This, remarkably, he seemed to see coming.

Just like we saw that final sight pun coming.

Overall a truly nasty piece of work. Outstanding. I'd encourage my readers in the NYC area to go by Ms. Hamilton's restaurant, Prune, and pelt the exterior with eggs, but it's probably illegal to solicit the egging of real property in Manhattan. So I won't encourage that. Instead, just go by there and congratulate Ms. Hamilton on being the first Barbara Bush Humanitarian of the Week.

Update: More from the blog at the American Foundation for the Blind (thanks to Adrianna in comments); and also here.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Another flip flop: "Special evil" now not so special, hmm?

Bush then (September, 2003):

There's a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable. The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life -- an underground of brutality and lonely fear. Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.

This problem has appeared in my own country, and we are working to stop it. The PROTECT Act, which I signed into law this year, makes it a crime for any person to enter the United States, or for any citizen to travel abroad, for the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The Department of Justice is actively investigating sex tour operators and patrons, who can face up to 30 years in prison. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States is using sanctions against governments to discourage human trafficking.


President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

In June, the State Department listed 14 countries as failing to adequately address trafficking problems, subjecting them all to possible sanctions if they did not crack down.

Of those 14, Bush concluded that Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates had made enough improvements to avoid any cut in
U.S. aid or, in the case of countries that get no American financial assistance, the barring of their officials from cultural and educational events, said Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman.


In addition to Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Kuwait — another U.S. ally in the Middle East — were given a complete pass on any sanctions, Jordan said. Despite periodic differences, oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United States have a tight alliance built on economic and military cooperation.

That left Myanmar, Cuba and North Korea as the only nations in the list of 14 barred completely from receiving certain kinds of foreign aid. The act does not include cutting off trade assistance or humanitarian aid, Jordan said. The White House statement offered no explanation of why countries were regarded differently. Jordan also could not provide one.

Flip flop

The Bush administration on energy and fuel conservation:

Dick Cheney, 1999:

“The American way of life is non-negotiable.”

Ari Fleischer, 5/7/01:

Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country.

Bush today:

"We can all pitch in by being better conservers."

OK, I suppose it's unfair to call this a "flip flop." What it actually is, is Bush showing his patented bold leadership by: 1) Spending years doing nothing to seriously encourage conservation as part of a systematic plan to address a highly foreseeable, imminent problem; 2) Sneering at attempts by others to address the problem; and 3) When a crisis strikes, belatedly scrambling about, impotently trying to look like he's handling it.

(cross-posted at Distance Blog)

From the "that's mighty white of you" department

A Ms. M.C. writes a letter to The State newspaper, telling of her noble color-blind charitable efforts:

I am so tired of hearing the cry of “racism.” If you watch the news about
Hurricane Katrina, you will see that it is mostly white people lifting old black
people from their flooded homes, and white people are providing the meals,
medical care, etc. (I know that there are some blacks helping too, but it is
obvious that the majority are white.)

We have opened our homes and wallets to help these people. Much of the
money the government gives comes out of our pockets in the form of

There is grumbling among some of the people who are helping about how
little their efforts are appreciated. All they get in return is the label

I have already made one trip to the area and given out hundreds of dollars
worth of food, baby food, diapers and first-aid supplies, all to black people.
Race did not come to mind.

Of course it didn't! Gosh-darn, lady, that sure is white of you, helping all those black people without taking note of their race!


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Headed out of town for a couple days

When I return, the REAL blogging will commence. Just you wait . . .

It depends on what the meaning of "blind" is

More on Sen. Frist's slightly nearsighted trust.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Sorry, Canada

I see America's new ambassador to Canada, South Carolina's own David Wilkins, is already winning friends and influencing people:

Regrets? Over the torture of one measly Canadian? No sir. Not the United
States of America.

David Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, was eye-poppingly cavalier when asked about the Maher Arar affair. Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, was deported by the United States to Syria, his birthplace, where he was held for 10 months in a cell three feet wide, six feet long and seven feet high.

He is now back, and the Canadian government has been holding a lacerating public inquiry into its role, however limited, in his nightmare. The U.S. government has refused (under Mr. Wilkins's predecessor, Paul Cellucci) to participate in the inquiry.

As described by Canadian Press reporter Jim Brown, Mr. Wilkins "seemed
puzzled" when asked if his government had regrets about the Arar affair.

"You talking about regrets by the United States? The United States made
that decision [to deport Arar] based on the facts it had, in the best interests
of the people of the United States, and we stand behind it."

He said that the United States has to make "tough decisions," that the war
on terror means "you don't get second chances," that there would probably be
more deportations and that Canadians who hold dual citizenship should consider
themselves forewarned they could find themselves in Mr. Arar's shoes some

I see Mr. Wilkins has his Bushspeak down. Wilkins can talk that talk: "We made the decision based on the facts we had." "Tough decisions. " "Stand behind it." Yes, that's how tough and firm and resolved America is these days - by God, when we make a decision to send a citizen of a friendly country to an unfriendly country to be tortured, we stand behind that decision!

Anyway. I'm sincerely sorry, Canadians, but I also look at it this way - your loss is South Carolina's gain.

Bob Somerby tips his hand

We've long been a big fan of The Daily Howler. But lately, the Howler has lost some of its appeal for us. We think our disillusionment started in earnest when Bob Somerby was repeatedly, willfully clueless about Rafael Palmeiro's positive drug test. Although his point was never entirely clear to us, it SEEMED that he was irate with the media for not giving due weight to the possibility that the test was wrong. Or something. Like I said, it was hard to tell what exactly was pissing him off. He seemed to think it was inconceivable that an athlete would take a banned substance when the athlete knew he was subject to testing. "For the record, we still haven't seen a single scribe note the obvious problem with the Palmeiro story—the fact that you'd never takea heavy-duty roid in a year when you knew you'd be tested." Well, maybe you wouldn't, Bob, but some athletes would. If Somerby paid any attention to other large, well-publicized sporting events - like, say, the Olympics - he would know that it's not that uncommon for athletes to test positive for steroids in athletic competition EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEY WILL BE TESTED. Yes - as hard as it is for Somerby to believe, some athletes take big risks to win big competition. Including taking steroids even though they might get caught. Anyway. Somerby bitched sporadically about the coverage of Palmeiro for a few days, then abandoned it. His seeming cluelessness on the subject disturbed me, since practically his entire blogging career consists of lambasting pundits and politicians for being clueless.

Now he's onto something else (without losing sight of his main theme, which is how the media screwed Al Gore). Since Katrina, Somerby has been angry - bitterly angry - that liberals aren't ganging up to bash Ray Nagin. Indeed, Somerby goes beyond that, claiming that among "good liberals," Nagin can do no wrong. Unfortunately, he has declined to provide his non-Lexis-Nexis subscribing readers with any specifics, so that we're left wondering how the hell he knows this. Did a memo go out? How come we didn't get it? Today I - that is, we - emitted low, mordant chuckles when we read this bit from today's Howler:

But we’ve been amused to see Dems and libs rush to endorse [Nagin's]
Katrina performance despite his Bush-endorsing past—and to see the Times fall
all over itself with praise of his “celebrity.”

OK. First of all, we don't know which "Dems and libs" are rushing to "endorse" Nagin's performance because Somerby doesn't name them (he's right about the Times piece, though, it was lame). Second of all, what exactly is his point? Should Dems and libs rush to criticize Nagin's performance simply BECAUSE of Nagin's Bush-endorsing past? For that matter, what exactly is wrong with Nagin's performance? Well, readers, you won't know from reading The Daily Howler, because Somerby never tells you. In fact, Somerby doesn't even know! He says so!

What did Nagin and/or Blanco do that was right or wrong? At this point, we
simply can’t tell you.

Why can't he tell you? WE can! Yes, dear readers, if you want to read an actual specific criticism of Nagin's performance, you must come here, to the incomparable Rogue Planet, and read our superbly pointed criticism that I - I mean we- would have made whether or not Nagin had endorsed Bush in the past. 'Cause we're fair and balanced.

Somerby, on the other hand, has no idea what Nagin did wrong, yet he's outraged that Democrats aren't sufficiently critical of Nagin. Why is Somerby outraged by this? Because Nagin endorsed Bush in 2000.

Can't you just hear Somerby laughing? "Hey, rubes," he seems to say! Yes, readers, this is how dumb and debased your Internet discourse has become in 2005.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Speaking of Brad Warthen

Shorter Mr. W: "Americans are too simple-minded to make informed decisions about war."

Any day now, Mr. Warthen is going to come out and advocate for a tasteful and decent monarch to take control of the United States . . .

How to pay for Iraq AND Katrina reconstruction.

It's easy.

BushDeLay won't do it, though. I guess we can run deficits into infinity. Or else someone else's kids - Brad Warthen's, maybe, or the Sun News editors' - will have to figure something out.

C'mon, Republicans

Aren't you just a little bit pissed off at the rampant culture of corruption and cronyism *that is flourishing in D.C. while the GOP controls the Congress and the White House?

And if you're not pissed off, aren't you kinda embarrassed? Especially if you thought Whitewater was some kind of big fucking deal?

*See also just about every post by Josh Marshall for the last, oh, year and a half or so

Operation Cut Taxes for Rich Corporations, Lower Wages for Poor Workers

So that's going to be Bush's response to the devastation wrought by Katrina (combined with the mind-boggling incompetence of Bush's own FEMA appointees). Sadly, gullible editorial page editors all over the country have been (once again) duped - Bush's crappy Jackson Square speech has them falling over themselves to praise his bold vision. Suckers. Once again Bush is pissing on their legs - hell, in their MOUTHS - and telling them it's raining. And they're buying it. Truly, words speak louder than actions for our media.

Few editorial page editors are easier to fool than the suckers at The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, who bought Bush's line of bullcrap:

These were heartening words, as was the president's recommendation of a
Republican-style proposal for confronting poverty: ensuring that returning black
residents own, not rent, their homes and ensuring that minority-owned businesses
come into existence. The president also made clear that black Gulf Coast residents should benefit from his broad economic proposals for reviving the region ravaged earlier this month by Hurricane Katrina - a tax-free opportunity zone, worker-recovery accounts of up to $5,000 for job training and education, and urban homesteading, under which residents get free land for construction of their own homes.

What we have here is a timely marriage of Bush's "ownership society" with hard-nosed, well-focused action for eradicating such remaining deep-seated elements of racial discrimination as discriminatory housing and rotten inner-city schooling. Indeed, the only thing wrong with Bush's vision is that it's limited, for now, to the Gulf Coast region.

Suckers. I for one would like to know how Bush plans to ensure that below-poverty-level N.O. residents are going to own, not rent, and how Bush intends to ensure that "minority-owned businesses come into existence" (especially since, in addition to signing an executive order suspending the requirement that federal contractors - such as Halliburton - pay the prevailing wage in the Gulf Coast, Bush has actually weakened protections for minority-owned businesses) But The Sun News editors can't be bothered with such pesky details.

The Sun News editors aren't totally clueless - right after their editorial swooning over Bush's bold vision, they put a smaller editorial, one that says, in essence, "Don't expect US to pay for any of this shit." No sir. The Sun News doesn't want any funds to be diverted from its pet Interstate project, one that will primarily benefit TSN's corporate land developer masters, from being built so that it funnel tens of thousands more yankees onto our already over-burdened roads so that they can frolic along our overbuilt coast.

Anyway. It is by now clear that the primary beneficiaries of Katrina and the federal funds being doled out will be the usual suspects: Bush and Cheney's cronies and big GOP donors. So while I sympathize with Barbara Bernier's sentiments expressed in this excellent column, all I can think is, Honey, that train's already left the station.

Yesterday I read somewhere (I think was on CNN's website, but I can't find the link now to save my damn life, despite my Googling) that a Florida development group is buying up land in New Orleans, with an eye towards building French Quarter style . . . high rises. It's enough to make you want to weep. Or puke.

I'm starting to think

Mother Nature or God or Ba'al or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whoever is chasing after someone in particular. Whoever that person is, he or she should step forward and offer him or herself up to MN or G or B or FSM or whoever.

Hey, at least you're not paying for this.

Sorry 'bout the lack of blogging lately. I've been really uninspired. Also, I'm kind of ticked at Blogger. Also, the days are growing shorter and I'm trying to squeeze in as much beach time as I can.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

All together now: Aaaawwww

I hope y'all don't mind if I just C&P this entire article - as a public service, to cheer y'all up:

Once influential Christian Coalition struggles to raise

Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The once influential Christian Coalition has struggled to raise money and pay its bills, but the group's executive director says it will survive.

Once a voice for traditional family values, the group has moved its headquarters to Charleston where national executive director Roberta Combs spends most of her time. The group had as many as 25 paid full-time staffers at its headquarters in Washington in its heyday in 1994 but now has 10 full-time staff there.

"The coalition as we knew it doesn't exist," says Lois Eargle, former chairwoman of the Horry County Christian Coalition.

Earlier this summer, Pitney Bowes sued the coalition and said the group owed $13,649 in unpaid postage. The issue was settled out of court, says Pitney Bowes attorney Robert Bernstein of Charleston.

While the group agreed to make monthly payments to erase the debt, the issue is a sign of ongoing struggles.

Combs wouldn't say the coalition is in trouble but acknowledged money has been hard to raise since the group's founder, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, stepped down as coalition president in February 2002 and turned control over to Combs.

"It hurt fund-raising," she said. "There's never enough money."

The 16-year-old organization has been in decline since 1997 when executive director Ralph Reed, one of its most effective leaders, left to form a political consulting firm in Atlanta.

"He was a great media figure, able to convey his particular message," says Corwin Smidt, professor of political science at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts school in
Michigan. "But he was also a very bright young man and was able to articulate
and make arguments effectively on behalf of the coalition."

During Reed's tenure, the coalition began distributing millions of voter guides containing candidates' records issues such as abortion and gay rights.

In 1994 alone, the group mailed 30 million postcards opposing President Clinton's sweeping health care proposal and made more than 20,000 phone calls to urge support for a balanced budget amendment. Those issues helped Republicans win control of Congress that year.

The group has faced other lawsuits. Black staffers filed a $39 million racial discrimination suit against the coalition, claiming they were forced to use a separate entrance at its headquarters. The suit was settled with an out-of-court payment of some $300,000 to the employees.

The coalition is looking for a media spokesman - someone of Reed's caliber to put the
organization back on the map.

"We have not had a media spokesman for a good while now," says Drew McKissick, a Columbia-based political consultant and coalition activist. "You've got to show the flag these days. It makes a big difference in people's perception. We need to boost our profile so folks know we exist."

Eargle thinks that's a waste of time. "I don't see anyone stepping up to the plate that could revitalize the coalition," she said.

In many ways, the coalition has been replaced by organization's like James Dobson's Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in Washington, says University of Toledo professor John Green.

Both of those groups were singled out when "Christian conservatives" were credited with pushing President Bush over the top in his 2004 re-election bid.

"The Christian Coalition did a wonderful job at its time," Eargle says. "It did a good job in getting grass-roots people involved. Maybe it has served its time."

More from The State's political columnist, Lee Bandy: http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/12676171.htm


Saturday, September 17, 2005

See what happens when he tries to dress himself

Pissed-off Patricia of Blondesense puts her finger on something that was bugging me about Bush's appearance Thursday night:

. . . all I could do was watch what appeared to be the president’s
head animated and photoshopped onto a blue shirted upper torso.

Yeah! There was definitely a weird look to him. I thought maybe it was because he seemed to keep his head retracted into his shoulders the whole time. Sometimes when he's speaking he'll thrust his head forward, putting me in mind of a snapping turtle. Anyway, I couldn't help but notice, as I was probably meant to, that his top button was unbuttoned. Unfortunately this only drew attention to his wrinkled-y neck, which so distracted me that I didn't even notice that his shirt was misbuttoned.

How'd that happen? Was it calculated? Or was it because they let Bush button his own shirt?

BUSH: I wanna wear the pilot costume! Kin I wear the pilot suit?

KAREN HUGHES: No, George. Tonight you're going to wear this nice blue shirt.

BUSH: Flight suit! Flight suit! Flight suit!

HUGHES: Not tonight, George. This is a working man costume. This shirt will show the American people that you're not afraid of hard work. You're a hard working man.

BUSH: Me work hard!

HUGHES: Yes you do. Now let's put on this shirt. See how nice and blue it is? I rolled up the sleeves for you . . . George, you've got the buttons wrong. Let me button it for you.


HUGHES: But George . . .

BUSH: NNNNOOOOOOOOO! ME button! [swats her hands away]

HUGHES: FINE. Button it yourself, Mr. Big Man.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Kyra Guckert-Phillips

Yes, this is a few days late. I just didn't want this pic by the handsome and talented MD to go to waste.

One of Kyra's greatest hits.

A good man

Via Blondesense, here' s the blog of a Georgia physician who's been volunteering in New Orleans.

The Katrina effect

Hurricane watches are not uncommon this time of year on the Carolina coast. But this is the first time I remember the local schools closing for a puny tropical storm that's sitting off the coast and is unlikely to a) get much stronger or b) directly hit the South Carolina coast. The schools in coastal Horry and Georgetown Counties are closed tomorrow, as are the courthouses, the county offices, and the local colleges. Seems a little ridiculous at this point.

Now is the time to play the blame game!

With regret, I point the dreaded finger of blame at New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, for waiting until a Category 4 hurricane was bearing down on his city to address a legal issue that should have been addressed way the hell before hurricane season:

A computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center late Saturday confirmed
that. It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's
flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the
Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New
Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City. High water
flowing from Lake Pontchartrain through St. Charles Parish also would flood over
levees into Kenner, according to the model.

Also flooded would be much of the north shore below Interstate 12,
including Slidell, Madisonville, Mandeville and Lacombe, according to the model.

And the model doesn't take into account the 5- to 10-foot waves that would
be on top of the surge, which could top levees all along the south shore of the

On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Hurricane Center placed the storm 360 miles
southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with winds of 115 mph. The
forecast projected the storm sweeping directly over the city.

The Hurricane Center posted a hurricane warning from Morgan City to the
Alabmama-Florida line.

President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, authorizing
federal emergency management officials to release federal aid and coordinate
disaster relief efforts.

By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles,
Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or
mandatory evacuations.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary

Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into
whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been
hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for
closing hotels and other businesses.

Unbelievable, and inexcusable, not to have "looked into" that earlier, and to be so worried about being sued by hotels for loss of business that you would risk the loss of many lives by failing to issue a mandatory evacuation order.

For that matter, why didn't the Governor didn't order a mandatory evacuation? In South Carolina, such orders come from the governor's office. Maybe it's different in Louisiana.

Someone else needs to have his or her eye poked out with the finger of blame: The fucking bureaucrat(s) who decided that the Red Cross should not be allowed to enter New Orleans to deliver desperately needed aid after the hurricane because this might encourage people not to evacuate.

From the FAQ's on the Red Cross's website:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

*Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local
authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot
enter New Orleans against their orders.

*The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to
request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following
the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage
others to come into the city.

Damn it, Blogger!

I am NOT in the mood for any of your SHIT right now. Quit screwing with my blog.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Al FAEMA chief relieved of Katrina duties

As you probably already know. On a human level, I feel sorry for Brown. I can't help it. But then I keep remembering seeing him on TV, spinning and BS'ing, days after the storm hit while thousands remained stranded without water or medical help. People died while Brown and Chertoff were on TV blathering away.

So it's fitting that Mr. Brown, at a minimum, be relieved of his Katrina duties. But he's really just a symbol. The one who emasculated the agency, who used it to dole out high-paying jobs as rewards to their unqalified campaign donors . . . he's the one who ultimately needs to be held responsible.

(Horsey cartoon via Desi at Great Scat)


Friday, September 09, 2005

South Carolina Republican Party: "Hey, brother, can you spare 75 bucks?"

The South Carolina GOP is planning a barbecue to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hahaha, just kidding, of course. The SCGOP is doing no such thing.

It is, however, fixing to use the grounds of the South Carolina Governor's Mansion to raise money for itself.

A $75-per-person Republican Party event next month on the grounds of the
Governor's Mansion has Democrats criticizing Gov. Mark Sanford for allowing the
grounds to be used in the same manner that created a firestorm for former Gov.
David Beasley in 1997.

Last month, the GOP announced the Victory 2006 Election Kickoff Beach Music
and BBQ Reception, telling the party faithful they would get invitations in the
mail and that Sanford would be on hand for the event.

How unseemly. But hey - for only $75.00, you can mingle with our rich, lean, aristocratic governor. Shake his hand. Give him a big ol' bear hug. Slap him on the back. He loves to mingle with the common man. Don't forget to wear your Club Gitmo T-Shirt. Actually, this oughta be good. I'm tempted to pony up the $75.00 myself, just so I can go up there and take pictures of all the confederate battle flag T-shirts and caps that are gonna be adorning the party faithful as they dine on pork barbecue on the Mansion lawn.

Naturally the state's lone Democrat is critical:

State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin says Sanford is breaking with the
standard [former Democratic governor] Hodges set after [former Republican
governor] Beasley left office. Sanford has "reverted back to the good ol'
boy cash and carry politics of yesterday" and "has no problem with
auctioning off the Governor's Mansion to highest political bidder," Erwin

Governor Sanford says it depends on what the meaning of "solicit cash money" is:

Sanford says there's nothing wrong with having a political fundraising event on
the mansion grounds as long as cash does not change hands there. Sanford says he
was critical of the Beasley's use of the facilities in 1997 and he has upheld
the principal of keeping political money from changing hands at the Governor's

Governor Sanford thinks the Mansion belongs to the people!

The facilities should be "available to anyone in South Carolina that wants to
use" them, such as the Salvation Army or Boy Scouts, Sanford said.

Fine. How 'bout the State Democratic Party using the grounds for a Dem. fundraiser? As long as no cash changes hands . . . Because that would be illeeegal:

Accepting money at the GOP event would break a 1991 state law aimed at
keeping politicians from taking campaign cash at the Statehouse or Governor's
Mansion, said Herb Hayden, the director of the S.C. State Ethics Commission.

"They can have the fundraiser, but they can't accept contributions on site.
But they can accept contributions by mail," Hayden said.

Don't worry, law and order fans - the South Carolina Republican Party will adhere to the letter of the law!

"We will not accept any money on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion,"
said Scott Malyerck, the state GOP's executive director.

He would not rule out taking cash on the sidewalks surrounding the

So help me Bejus, I'm not making that last line up. Go read for yourself. (scroll down to 3d story)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Generic television interview with generic Republican official or politician

REPORTER: "Sir, do you feel that FEMA could have been better prepared for a storm of this magnitude in that FEMA did not even have any people on the ground until after the storm hit, despite the ample advance warning?"

GENERIC GOP OFFICIAL: "[Katie/Ted/Paula], now is not the time to be pointing the finger of blame at the mayor of New Orleans for not providing a fleet of busses to ship tens of thousands of people to points outside the storm zone. Now is the time to be helping those people who need help, rescuing people, and we're working very hard at that. "

REPORTER: "Sir, how can you sit there and tell me that FEMA just today learned that thousands of people are stranded at the convention center when we've been reporting on it for DAYS? Good Lord, sir, Harry Connick has been down there. . . "

GGOP: "[Paula/Katie/Anderson], it's not time to play the blame game, to discuss whether it was appropriate for the governor, the governor lady, to be getting a pedicure and a bikini wax while the storm hit. Right now we've got to work to do, we've got people to feed and we're feeding them, or in some instances deeming them fed . . . '

REPORTER [interrupting]: "Sir, what are you talking about? No food has been delivered to the convention center! No food, no water! Those people are thirsty, they're hungry!"

GGOP: "[Ted/Kyra/Matt], we delivered 4984 meals today to the Superdome. The people there, they have been deemed fed."

REPORTER: "Sir, how do you account for the lack of communication between FEMA officials and local authorities, who were on TV begging and weeping and pleading for help?"

GGOP: "[Katie/Brian/Paula], now is not the time to be playing the blame game, to be wondering if it was appropriate for Mayor Nagin to be engaging in homosexual orgies while his people drowned. There will be time for that later, others will do the analysis, but right now we've got assets on the ground and we're focussed on doing our job and helping people."

REPORTER: "Sir, can you tell me that you're qualified for this job? Because you've gotten fired from your last two jobs. In fact as I look at your resume it seems to me that your only qualification is that you're a friend of a friend of the president and a campaign donor."

GGOP: "[Ted/Anderson/Charlie], we just are not interested in doing any blaming right now, in pointing the finger of blame at the governor of Louisiana who was personally performing late term abortions when this storm hit. Later we can discuss these issues, whether Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco violated any laws or how many laws they violated, but right now we're just feeding the people, saving the people, doing our job."

REPORTER: "Sir, a number of Democrats have been harping shrilly about FEMA's allegedly tardy [makes quote marks with fingers] response to this when clearly everything was Nagin's fault and Blanco's. Just today, Nancy Pelosi claimed that mutilated bodies were found in the Superdome! Given that, sir, how do you . . . how do you plan to work with these Democrats who seem to be totally divorced from reality?"

GGOP: "It's not easy, Jeff. Say . . . what are you doing later?"

REPORTER: "Sir, do you feel that the federal government's response to this disaster should be investigated?"


REPORTER: "Sir, what are you going to do to ensure that we are adequately prepared for the next disaster or God forbid, the next terrorist attack?"

TOM DELAY: "It was the Democrats' fault! The Democrats! Those two Democrats, that black guy and that broad! It was their fault! All theirs! They did it! Look at them, not us!"

Come on, Mr. President, isn't it a little late for you to start pretending that you care?

President Photo-Op calls for national day of bullshit.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Because you deserve a laugh

Okay, now this shit is funny. Grace of Scriptoids found this comment in response to a David Horowitz post at "Moonbat Central:"

"I’m telling you. The Republicans better stop playing by their usual Marquis of Queensberry rules and take the gloves off before this thing spins completely out of control."

And here I was beginning to think right wingers had no sense of humor . . .


Fail me.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Do the terrorists know about this?

A key part of the White House's emergency blame-shifting procedure seems to be justifying FEMA and the administration's slow, inept response to Katrina by claiming (falsely) that Governor Blanco failed to declare a state of emergency.

Leaving aside the brazen mendacity of the White House spin (Blanco DID declare an emergency) - does this mean that if terrorists had attacked the oil refineries, the administration would be sitting with its thumbs up its ass waiting for the governor to declare a state of emergency?


Has anyone seen this blogger? The lovely Desi has gone missing. Desi, I hope you're OK - please drop me an email or a leave a comment or something if you can.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

White House officially activates emergency blame-shifting procedures

See here.

And here.

And here.

New post up

at Distance Blog, re the "fruits of limited government" (a post title which I stole from Publius at Legal Fiction)

Mother of God, New Orleans is well and truly screwed now

They sent RUMSFELD.

The mighty Anntichrist

S. Coulter of Blondesense is collecting supplies to deliver to survivors in Louisiana (Annti lives there):

So, Jake & I (not Jake here, but "my" Jake, yes, THAT one) have been Super Shoppers Of The Damned. We hit Dollar Tree, Winn-Dixie, and Ace Hardware thus far, to gather toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, maxi-pads, first-aid supplies, bottled water, socks, slippers, baby bottles, etc., for all of the people who are stuck in shelters/campers/roadside shacks/etc. up here and into Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Thus far, we are splitting the proceeds between Baton Rouge (via the State Police) shelters and the shelters here and into Mississippi.

I didn't want to ask people for money for my half-assed, taking-a-wild-hair missions of mercy, but these people need help, and the Red Cross is not getting to all of these shelters to provide it. Nor the Salvation Army.

So my GMC pickup is going to have to pick up the slack.

If anybody else wants to chip in, I'll keep making supply runs as long as the money holds out and my boyfriend holds up. E-mail me at joannaagain@hotmail.com, and we'll get the info together.

THIS IS NOT A SCAM. I AM NOT A NIGERIAN OR MEXICAN WITH FORTY MILLION TO TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT. I AM NOT KEEPING THE CHANGE, EITHER. And I WILL provide receipts for goods purchased and digital pictures of the loot to anyone who donates, as proof of our work.

But I am on a fixed income, and am doing everything that I can with what I & Jake have. If y'all can help, good on ya. If you'd rather give to organized efforts, good on y'all too. JUST PLEASE, PLEASE DO SOMETHING.

New Orleans will always be my home, no matter where I wind-up in this life. This shit is killing me. If I sit home, I'll probably have THE aneurism, or put my head in the electric oven. I gotta do SOMETHING. Because like Ray Nagin said, NOBODY ELSE IS GONNA DO IT FOR US.

I am collecting money from my friends and relatives to wire to Joanna in Louisiana. If you don't want to wire money, I have a pay pal account and I will wire any contributions to Joanna today, tomorrow and Monday. Send Joanna an email: joannaagain(at)hotmail.com for wiring instructions or me for more information about using Pay Pal. misslizzy(at)optonline.net
Joanna will get supplies to the displaced fast! Also Salvation Army is severely out of supplies. Help them too, if you wish.

If you can, help her out.

More about Annti's efforts here and here.

You can relax; the grownups are in charge

"The revival of government by grown-ups continues." - George F. Will, 2/4/01

Action man

Guitar man

Cake boy


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Just try to imagine

what Bush and Rice and some of our pious Senators would be saying if this happened in, say, Syria:

As reports continued of famished and dehydrated people isolated across the Gulf Coast, angry questions were pressed about why the military has not been dropping food packets for them -- as was done in Afghanistan, Bosnia and in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami.

Bill Wattenburg, a consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and one of the designers of the earlier food drop programs, said that he has lobbied the administration and the military to immediately begin something similar. He said he was told that the military was prepared to begin, but that it was awaiting a request from FEMA.

"We know very well how to do this, and it's just incomprehensible that we're not," Wattenburg said.

"Assad is LETTING HIS OWN PEOPLE DIE! He's an evil man, a bad man . . "

(Via Atrios )


Thursday, September 01, 2005


Our friend Anntichrist of Blondesense, recommends these local charites (Annti used to live in New Orleans; she's still in Louisiana, safe and sound, thank goodness):

Second Harvester Food Banks: 1-800-344-8070

Baton Rouge Red Cross: 225-291-4533

American Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or 1-866-HELP-NOW



FEED THE CHILDREN: 1-800-525-7575

Annti gives Feed the Children especially high marks.

I cannot comprehend this

Why are we letting Americans starve and slowly die in front of our very eyes? Right in front of CNN's cameras?



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