Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay is DiStressed

Go out of town to attend an incredible weekend of events (neither Randy nor myself were amongst those protestors arrested on Monday during a White House sit-in, though had I not been in a meeting with Maxine Waters and a fantastic fellow activist and had Randy not had prior commitments which meant he couldn't stay, we might have very well seen the inside of a jail cell) and political news decides it needs to keep on churning.

And oh, how it does churn. Not only is Michael Brown dancing as fast as he can before Congress (while he still remains on the FEMA payroll), but that darling of the Republicans, the effervescent Tom DeLay, has been indicted in a campaign finance probe. And it looks like the kindly Doctor Frist (whose medical license should be revoked due to such beliefs as the HIV virus can be transmitted via tears or kissing and Terry Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state due to watching a video tape) is feeling the heat as well in relation to questionable stock sales.

I'm still trying to catch up on the Hurricane Rita news - stay tuned.

Update - 9/28/05 - 4:07pm: If you're in the mood for a good laugh, check out the New York Times transcript of DeLay's response to the indictment. Much like the man himself, his words are completely out of step with reality, as Ronnie Earle has mostly prosecuted Democrats in the past.

Poor lil' picked-on DeLay. The man just can't catch a break.

(Tip o' the hat to Ray in Austin for the DeLay transcript link.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Road to D.C.

Carol Elaine and I are both heading out to Washington, DC to enthusiastically take part in the anti-war rally and march this weekend. Probably no access to a computer while there, but I plan to keep a journal and will post when I return next week.

I'm a little too young to have taken part in the anti-Vietnam War marches, particularly the largest one in D.C. in 1969. Or to have really understood the Vietnam situation at the time, for that matter. But when I first heard about the anti-Iraq War march, I said to myself that I had to go. So I'm going. Honestly, I'm not necessarily of the opinion (just yet) that declaring victory and leaving is the best thing to do. But I have no doubt that we were lied into this war and that invading as we did was a serious blunder. And that anything that I can do to demonstrate opposition, legally and peaceably, to our -- as I hold my nose -- leader, I'm gonna do.

This could be history in the making -- I certainly hope so -- especially since in the last few months we've seen a significant drop in support for the war and for the rest of the disingenuous and dangerous Bush agenda.

Peace to everyone.

Old-time Baseball

OK, what professional baseball player held the record for 47 years for most home runs hit in a single season?

Maris? No. Ruth? No. Frank "Home Run" Baker? No, no, no.....

Joe Bauman, who hit 72 homers in 1954 playing for the Roswell Rockets of the Longhorn Baseball League. His record stood until Barry Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bauman died of pneumonia, a complication from an August 11th fall during a ceremony to rename the old Fair Park (in Roswell, NM) as Joe Bauman Stadium.

BTW, Bauman never played in the major leagues.

Where Is Michael Brown, Now That the President Needs Him Most?

Image Hosted by

Seems to me that the storm track for Hurricane Rita (red dotted line in Gulf) is pointed right at Crawford, TX (red star).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In an apparently related story, FEMA today announced that it had awarded a $3.3 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton for future reconstruction work in Crawford, TX. With a resident population in Crawford of 705, that comes out to $4.68 million per resident, a per capita cost comparable to that of the Alaska "bridges to nowhere."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Hurricane Horror

Hurricane Rita is threatening to sweep over the Texas coast. Currently the level is a horrific Category 5, but is expected to weaken to a Category 3 or 4 by landfall, currently projected to be on Saturday. Category 3 and 4 hurricanes are still capable of major destruction.

This time around, authorities have supplies in position, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Let's hope that they're actually prepared this time.

While I am am keeping all the people in Texas in my thoughts and hearts regardless (as are all the folks here at SoCal Progressives), my thoughts are especially going out to those in Houston, as it is probable that Rita may hit that city, where the largest concentration of Katrina survivors have been staying. No one should have to go through such terror twice in one lifetime, let alone in one month.

Please help out if you can, as I'm sure it'll be needed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Unfortunately the victims of Hurricane Katrina are the ones to pay, because FEMA is afraid of lawsuits: CNN Video - Interview with Dr. Mark Perlmutter, in which he was turned away from helping sick and dying patients because he wasn't "FEMA-certified".

(Tip o' the hat to Crooks and Liars for the video.)

There are far too many stories like this getting out. This is unforgivable.

Latest US War

Apparently the US has won the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, because the FBI is now turning its attention to the War on Porn:
"Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as 'one of the top priorities' of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of 'the Director.' That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III."


"Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. 'All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available,' the directive from headquarters said. 'Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption.' "
Oh, for fuck's sake...

Congress Looking Into Iraq Exit Strategy

As reported by Tom Hayden, next week "Congress is expected to increase its gradual exploration of how to get out" of Iraq:
"Some of us set out in July to accomplish objectives: to achieve the first Congressional hearings on an exit strategy from Iraq, to instigate "people's diplomacy" with Iraqis, and to build momentum through a people's petition campaign, all before the large anti-war demonstrations planned for Sept. 24-26 in Washington DC.

We have succeeded. This is a report on the progress so far, and next steps.

Congressional debate finally has turned to an exit strategy from Iraq after an interminable period of dominance by proponents of war and occupation, as a result of the Sept. 15 hearing on withdrawal chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Twenty-nine members of Congress attended the four-hour forum, including one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina."
It's about damn time.

British Rations: Not Good Enough for Katrina Survivors

Yesterday UK's The Daily Mirror reported that British rations donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort might go up in smoke:
"Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption. And unless the bureaucratic mess is cleared up soon it could be sent for incineration.

One British aid worker last night called the move "sickening senselessness" and said furious colleagues were "spitting blood".

The food, which cost British taxpayers millions, is sitting idle in a huge warehouse after the Food and Drug Agency recalled it when it had already left to be distributed.

Scores of lorries headed back to a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, to dump it at an FDA incineration plant.
Rations good enough for the soldiers of our chief ally in the Iraq war are deemed unsafe for starving Katrina survivors?

Something's not adding up here...

Young Stomps Foot: That's MY Bridge Pork Money

Proving once again today's Republicans are rife with compassionate conservatism, Don Young (R-AK) - when asked if perhaps the $460+ million that were allotted to Alaska in the new transportation act might not be better spent helping with the rebuilding of those areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina - effectively stomped his foot and threw a little hissy fit:
"They can kiss my ear!" Young boomed when Sam Bishop, Washington correspondent for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, asked him about the many pleas to redirect the bridge money.

"That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Young went on, noting that Louisiana did quite well in his highway bill.

And, the congressman said, he helped the seafood industry donate more than $500,000 for hurricane victims. (That was at the "Seafood Invitational," a charity golf tournament Sept. 9 in Roslyn, Wash., Bishop reported Friday.)

"I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," he said, "and that's it!"
So here's the question: since Bush has stated that, not only will taxes not be raised to fund the potentially $200 billion recovery effort, but he has no problem with the US deficit spiraling even further out of control while preserving tax cuts for the wealthy, well, where the fuck is that money supposed to come from? Is it more important to build useless bridges than it is to help three states achieve a semblance of normalcy?

In Bush's America, it is. That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. And the most callous.

The New Orleans Disaster Oral History & Memory Project

Alive in Truth is an all-volunteer, grassroots effort to record oral and written history about the lives of displaced New Orleanians, in their own words.

Check it out....

It Can Be Lonely At The Bottom Too

In the wake of the inept FEMA response to Katrina, Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly ponders which federal agency will be next to exhibit a meltdown, and votes for Treasury:
THE NEXT FEMA.... One of the reasons FEMA failed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is that it had suffered from four years of the Bush administration's signature commitment to cronyism combined with its signature contempt for serious policy development. Needless to say, though, this attitude toward governance affects everything the administration touches, not just FEMA. So where are we likely to see the next serious federal meltdown?

The Treasury Department seems like a good guess, especially because its decline is so obvious that it has united both liberals and conservatives in consternation.

Full article...
Then again, Washington Prowler, in the conservative The American Spectator, suggests that a meltdown may be underway across the whole administration:
Publicly, the White House will tell you that it intends to push ahead with two of its big legislative issues throughout the fall: making permanent the first term tax cuts and Social Security reform.

Even privately, with the political and policy debacle that the White House created with its Clintonian response to Hurricane Katrina, policy and political types at 1600 Pennsylvania insist what's left of an agenda is still viable.

But at this stage of the game, barring some imaginative political moves that bear some resemblance to the Bush Administration circa 2002, Republicans on Capitol Hill and even some longtime Bush team members in various Cabinet level departments say this Administration is done for.
Too pessimistic? Maybe not. Rumors are flying through various departments of longtime senior Bush loyalists looking to jump, but with few opportunities in the private sector to make the jump look like anything more than desperation. Almost daily, complaints from Cabinet level Departments come in to the White House about lack of communication coordination on even basic policy matters.

Full article...

NYPD Unplugs Cindy Sheehan

The Village Voice (New York City) reports:
Cindy Sheehan may be the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement. But that didn't stop members of the New York Police Department from marching into the crowd of about 150 people gathered in Union Square Monday to hear her speak and yanking away the microphone.

The NYPD pulled the plug just as Sheehan was calling on the audience not to lose heart in the fight to end the war in Iraq.

Full article...

Video at Crooks and Liars

...But North Carolina Has Reiterated Its Pledge Not To Build Nuclear Weapons

The Los Angeles Times reports:
Less than 24 hours after diplomats announced a break-
through pact to eliminate nuclear arms in North Korea, the isolated communist state threw cold water on the deal today, saying it would not abandon its weapons program until the United States gave it a light-water nuclear reactor.

North Korea's demand could be a deal breaker. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator at the six-nation nuclear talks, made it clear at the opening of negotiations in Beijing last week that the idea of providing North Korea with a reactor before disarmament would be a "nonstarter."

Full article...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Second Weekly Pentagon-athon

The Pentagon-athon was satire. But this drive is real, although some would call it satire as well. USAID: Iraq Partnership was launched earlier this month by the Bush Administration to raise charitable contributions for the government's attempt to rebuild Iraq. The Chicago Tribune reports:

...amid pleas for aid after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration has launched an unusual effort to raise charitable contributions for another cause: the government's attempt to rebuild Iraq.

Although more than $30 billion in taxpayer funds have been appropriated for Iraqi reconstruction, the administration earlier this month launched an Internet-based fundraising effort that it says is aimed at giving Americans "a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq."

Contributors have no way of knowing who's getting the money or precisely where it's headed, because the government says it must keep the details secret for security reasons.
The campaign is raising eyebrows in the international development and not-for-profit communities, where there are questions about its timing - given needs at home - and whether it will set the government in competition with international not-for-profits.

On a more basic level, experts wonder whether Americans will make charitable donations to a government foreign aid program, and whether the contentious environment surrounding Iraq will make a tough pitch even tougher.

Full article...

Pledge of Allegiance: Now Unconstitutional!

On September 14th a U.S. district court determined that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. Wrote Judge Lawrence Karlton:
"The court concludes that it is bound by the Ninth Circuit's previous determination that the school district's policy with regard to the pledge is an unconstitutional violation of the children's right to be free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Can't disagree with that at all.

This humble contributor believes in G-d and considers herself a spiritual sort, but she is also a firm supporter of the separation of church and state and believes that public schools - which are funded by taxpayers' money - should not promote anything religious. Spirituality - or lack thereof - are a matter for the family, not the schoolroom.

Just think of this: how would those insisting that "under G-d" stay in the Pledge (which is, in reality, a loyalty oath to a piece of cloth, fer Crimeney's sake) feel if someone forced their children to say, "under Allah," or "under Yaweh"? I'm thinking not too happy.

Put yourself in the shoes of others, that's all that's being suggested.

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

A letter to the L.A. Times cuts right to the punch:
Talking the pledge
After reading the Sept. 16 letters to the editor, I wonder if, instead of deleting "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, it might be time to remove "indivisible" instead.

Studio City

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Newer Colossus

This is one of those gems that we should re-read often to help us keep our humanity. I've had a copy of it tacked to the bulletin board near my desk for years.

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The New Colossus was written as a contribution to an art portfolio, the aim of which was to raise money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. A plaque with the text of this poem was mounted in 1903 on the inner wall of the pedestal.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Are We Paying Attention In Los Angeles, Part 2

First The Daily News, now The Los Angeles Times weighs in with its analysis of how unprepared we are.
Southland Not Ready for Disaster

A major quake or act of terrorism could displace hundreds of thousands, officials say. Relief agencies concede they would be stretched thin.

By Sharon Bernstein, Times Staff Writer

Despite millions of dollars spent in crisis management drills and dozens of plans to deal with earthquakes and other calamities, Southern California emergency preparedness agencies have done little to plan for mass displacement and destruction across a broad swath of the region on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, according to interviews with state and local authorities.

Because the region is so huge and most damage from earthquakes and fires typically is relatively localized, most of the region's planning is based on the assumption that damage will be confined to one or two areas, several officials said.

Detailed plans to deal with a massive emergency — one that displaces more than 300,000 people — have not been developed since the end of the Cold War...

Full article....

First Annual Pentagon-athon!


$500 billion just doesn't go as far as it used to. Anybody who has to balance a family budget or meet a weekly payroll knows this. Well, we at The Pentagon are subject to these same terrorist economic forces, even in the best of times.

Now your Federal Government has committed perhaps $200 billion to help rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf states, and care for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. (Don't get me wrong. Is it a worthy cause? Yes it is! Worthy, worthy, worthy.... Do I mean that? Absolutely! I really mean that. Really.)

And that makes us at The Pentagon --- YOUR PENTAGON, YOUR MILITARY, YOUR PROTECTION --- have to squeeze ever harder to make ends meet. Is it hard work. You bet! Hard, hard, hard. And we're really sweating. But frankly, it's not going too well.

So that's why I'm humbly asking you to reach into your patriotic heart and reach into your patriotic wallet and go that extra yard to keep you, your family, and your country safe. Please send a check today for $1,000, $100, $25.... or whatever you can afford.

I'm personally doing my patriotic duty and sending in a check right now for $100. How about you, my patriotic friend? Your country thanks you in advance.

And when this crisis passes, we'll all be able to breathe easier and go back to our regular all-American lives of playing guitar, eating cake, shopping for shoes and buying beachfront estates.

Send your check today to:
c/o Halliburton
5 Houston Center
Houston, TX 77020

9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11
9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11
9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11

Camp Casey, Crawford TX

Most eyes have been focused on Louisiana, the gulf states and Katrina victims evacuated to all parts of the country. Others focused on Iraq or the Roberts nomination hearings.

On Thursday, some cowardly, despicable thieves stole the Camp Casey Memorial in Crawford. What patriots these Texas yahoos be. (It's hard not to stereotype.) I'm proud to be on the other side.

Cindy Sheehan is on the road now and will be in Washington, DC for the massive anti-war march on September 24th.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Wish I Had a Camera With Me

What a fascinating sight: a man pushing a Hummer (6400 pounds) on Ventura Blvd in Studio City during the evening rush hour.

Out of gas (32 gallon tank)? Out of money ($96/tank @ $3/gallon)? $0.214/mile for gasoline alone (@ a generous 14 miles/gallon)

A Hummer in summer....... Bummer.

Constitution Day

Under a section of a 2005 Congressional spending bill, any school that gets federal dollars must hold an educational program about the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day, Sept. 17.

Hard to believe that learning about our Constitution, both in an historical context and also in how it guides our lives today, was not already a significant subject in every American child's education. Just another sad tale....

New York? Check. New Orleans? Check. San Francisco? Ummm....

FEMA managers concluded at an August, 2001 training session, that Americans should beware above all others:
  • a terrorist attack on New York City,
  • a hurricane in New Orleans, and
  • an earthquake near San Francisco.
Four years later, it's two down, one to go.

The New Republic continues:
San Franciscans were probably the least surprised of anyone to show up on FEMA's list. Their city has always been a disaster-prone place. Just east of the city lies a patchwork of improvised levees, guarding the country's highest urban flood risk, the San Joaquin River delta. Almost every summer, the winds spread wildfires across hillsides baked dry by long, sunny days. Tectonic faults run the length of California, holding the Bay Area, from the office parks of Silicon Valley to the ranches and mansions of Marin, between seismic parentheses.

But it would be wrong to dismiss FEMA's prediction as just the latest warning for a region that gets plenty of them. As furious recriminations pour out of New Orleans, it is too easy to imagine the Bay Area facing a similar fate. California's well-tested first responders may be better prepared than their Louisiana colleagues. But California developers are racing to build up similarly high-risk land; cash-strapped city and state officials are making similar gambles that they can put off investing in preventive engineering for more immediate, or more popular, concerns; and, in the event of a catastrophe, the region's poor will bear a similarly disproportionate share of the pain, just as in New Orleans.
Despite cycles of interest in disaster-planning and, at times, great progress, San Francisco will be unprepared if an earthquake makes FEMA's forecasting record three-for-three anytime soon.

Full article..

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"America Supports You Freedom Walk"... Now Website-free!!

The Freedom Walk website is already gone. I guess it never existed..... shades of "1984". (Speaking of, I forget.... are we at war now with Eastasia or Eurasia?)

Are We Paying Attention In Los Angeles

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's destruction in the gulf states, The Los Angeles Daily News asks of us Angelenos a simple question: "Are We Ready?", and answers simply "No."
When the long-feared Big One finally hits Southern California, it will come with the element of surprise of the 9-11 attacks compounded by the fury of nature - like that unleashed by Hurricane Katrina.

Experts warn Los Angeles will be hard-pressed to deal with the calamity - likely an earthquake at least magnitude 7.0 - despite the millions of dollars spent each year to train and equip emergency workers who have demonstrated their skill in numerous disasters, from quakes to floods to firestorms.

"Most people don't realize how bad off we are," said Terry O'Sullivan, a homeland security analyst at the University of Southern California.

Officials have developed no large-scale plan for evacuating the city of 3.8 million residents.

The Los Angeles River is lined with concrete to prevent localized flooding, but the dams that control runoff from the Sierra were built before World War II. Outmoded natural gas pipelines underlie the region. The city is dotted with old, seismically unsafe buildings. And an already overtaxed public health care system would be hard-pressed to handle the casualties in a major disaster.
"Events at this magnitude would overwhelm all first responders," he said. "We don't have enough personnel to handle the number of responses and issues we'd be dealing with. What we can be confident about is that resources would be called in from as far as needed to provide assistance."

But those resources could take several days to reach all in need. And experts say that the real onus is on the public to be prepared. No matter what the scenario, it's likely many will be stranded without aid for days. Everyone should have a disaster kit with the essentials for survival for three days, officials said.

"If you're prepared for an earthquake, you have food, water, radio, flashlight, first-aid kit and maybe some first-aid training. It might be 72 hours before assistance comes."
"The overriding question is, what will we learn from Katrina?" Lamoureux asked rhetorically. Just as they did with 9-11, he said, "emergency managers everywhere are going to step back and look at what worked for them, what didn't work for them, and see where we change the way we need to operate. It's too early right now to make that judgment."

Full article....

Consider ourselves warned.... once again.

It's The (Lack Of) Curiosity, Stupid

From Maureen Dowd "A Fatal Incuriosity", in the NY Times:

How many places will be in shambles by the time the Bush crew leaves office?

Given that the Bush team has dealt with both gulf crises, Iraq and Katrina, with the same deadly mixture of arrogance and incompetence, and a refusal to face reality, it's frightening to think how it will handle the most demanding act of government domestic investment since the New Deal.

Even though we know W. likes to be in his bubble with his feather pillow, the stories this week are breathtaking about the lengths the White House staff had to go to in order to capture Incurious George's attention.

Newsweek reported that the reality of Katrina did not sink in for the president until days after the levees broke, turning New Orleans into a watery grave. It took a virtual intervention of his top aides to make W. watch the news about the worst natural disaster in a century.

Complete column....
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Curiosity, a generation later
(for those who remember that far back)

I Am Curious (Yellow) ...... I Am Not Curious (Red)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

That Was W Then, This Is Now

Just came across this video again, which surfaced in 2004, of Bush from a 1994 gubernatorial debate with then Texas governor Ann Richards.

Is this the same person? In the 1994 debate Bush showed absolute coherence, as opposed to the slow-talking, often incoherent public speaker that we've come to know. Have we been observing a well-orchestrated public act these last few years, or have years of hard living and then cold turkey (or perhaps continued secret hard living) finally caught up with Bush... and getting worse every day? D'ya think that maybe the future of our country is at stake?

Time magazine tells us:
A related factor, aides and outside allies concede, is what many of them see as the President's increasing isolation. Bush's bubble has grown more hermetic in the second term, they say, with fewer people willing or able to bring him bad news--or tell him when he's wrong. Bush has never been adroit about this. A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. "The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me," the aide recalled about a session during the first term. "Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, 'All right. I understand. Good job.' He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom."

Full story...
Let's take another look at "Bush On the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President" (2004), in which psychoanalyst Dr. Justin Frank uses the president’s public pronouncements and behavior, along with biographical data, to craft a comprehensive psychological profile of the president.

From an article by Dr. Frank, introducing his analysis:

If one of my patients frequently said one thing and did another, I would want to know why. If I found that he often used words that hid their true meaning, and affected a persona that obscured the nature of his actions, I would grow more concerned. If he presented an inflexible worldview characterized by an oversimplified distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, allies and enemies, I would question his ability to grasp reality. And if his actions revealed an unacknowledged – even sadistic – indifference to human suffering, wrapped in pious claims of compassion, I would worry about the safety of the people whose lives he touched.

For the last three years, I have observed with increasing alarm the inconsistencies and denials of such an individual. But he is not one of my patients. He is our President.

Full article...

From Wikipedia. (Does this describe anybody that you know?):
Dry drunk is a slang term used by members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other substance abuse counselors to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking (i.e. dry), but whose thinking is still negatively affected by the thought patterns of addiction, so that they are not considered truly sober. Thus a distinction is made between being dry and being sober. The behavior patterns of dry drunks are characterized by rigidity of thinking and going to extremes of characterization of people and situations as e.g. good and evil. Subtle distinctions are difficult for the dry drunk to understand.
But still I have to ask "Who stole the strawberries?"

Bush Accepts Responsibility - Mind Boggles

Yesterday Bush accepted partial responsibility for the slow response to Hurrince Katrina. Since Bush has never accepted responsibility for anything negative during his five years in office, this would have to count as a truly historic moment.

Granted, the chances are pretty damned good that he's only doing it to up his approval numbers, as he and his handlers realize his political career is in critical condition. But it's a start.

Now let's see if he takes responsibility for how he and his cronies were culpable for the worst of the New Orleans devastation, not to mention having messed up the entire country in general due to corruption, bald-faced lying and incompetence, with the end product Bush voluntarily leaving office in disgrace and taking Cheney et al. with him.

I know, it ain't gonna happen. What can I say, I'm a cock-eyed optimist...

Well, Do Ya, Punk?*

* Clint Eastwood, as Detective Harry Callahan in "Dirty Harry" (1971)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lest We Forget

Since Hurricane Katrina pushed Iraq off the front page on August 29th, 19 American soldiers and 3 British soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq.

Total casualities in Iraq
Total $$$ cost

Thank You, Your Honor. Does That Mean I Can Keep the Watch?

An old joke, rejiggered for 2005:

California Man Awakens From Coma After 19 Years

Ernest Kockenlocker, 52, of Visalia, California, came out of a coma today for the first time following a car accident in 1986. Upon awakening, Mr. Kockenlocker asked his attendant "How is President Reagan?"

"I'm so sorry, but President Reagan has passed away." replied Augie Henshler, the attendant.

"Oh my God," exclaimed Kockenlocker, "You mean Bush is president?!?!"

New Orleans: Toxic Waters Cover-Up?

As reported by The Independent on Sunday (UK):

Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade ... and the Bush administration is covering up the danger.

In an exclusive interview, Hugh Kaufman, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health.

The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analysed.

Full story...
Mr. Kaufman also previously accused the EPA of another coverup in not adequately testing and reporting about air quality at the World Trade Center site after 9-11.

Now, in Louisiana, we see another potential environmental and people disaster that we won't know the consequences of for many years. Based on this administration's history of assaulting the environment* and people who get in its way, I have no doubt that a cover-up is underway.

* Rolling Stone, "A Polluter's Feast", 9/8/2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

My President Visited New Orleans And All I Got Was a Lousy T-shirt


George W and friends and family are dropped into the middle of a flooded city with no money and no food and no credit cards and no vehicle and no identification and no outside communications and no change of shoes or finely-tailored suits.

Nobody knows who they are.... and nobody cares!


Watch the fun this fall, Wednesday nights on CBS.

New FEMA Head Appointee - Actual Relevant Background?!

Now that Brownie has flown the coop a new FEMA head has been named by the White House.

In a twist that no one following the current White House administration could have forseen, R. David Paulison - head of FEMA's emergency preparedness force - has experience relevant to both his previous and current positions.

While this is no doubt a result of the "Cover Your Ass" doctrine adopted by the Bush administration since they first stole into office, it is still a pleasant surprise.

Crossing fingers that Paulison doesn't turn into a neo-con toadie, like everyone else ever appointed by this White House...

No, you can't have it either way

On last week's A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast from the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson Kansas, Garrison Keillor opined:
I used to believe in intelligent design myself, until I had a child of my own.
The events of this last couple of weeks and the government's response to the hurricane seem to disprove both intelligent design and evolution.

Man Is a Pattern Seeking Animal

Monday's news:
(Thanks go to Randie for noticing.)

    Insurance Companies Denying Payments to Katrina Victims

    Their reasoning? Damage to homes were caused by flooding, not the hurricane, and the victims had only hurricane insurance.

    This is unconscionable. Anyone who has paid any attention to current events knows that there would have been no flooding had there not been a hurricane. Yes, much of the flooding which occurred in New Orleans would not have happened had it not been for the criminality of Bush and his cronies in tax cuts and slow disaster response, but that doesn't negate the fact that the primary cause of the destruction on the Gulf was due to Hurricane Katrina.

    Proof that, for insurance companies, it's all about the ducats.

    Power Outage

    A large section of Los Angeles and adjacent cities are currently experiencing a power outage. I never lost power, but the power went out about an hour ago from one block over for many miles to the east, north and south.

    I obviously can't monitor all the local TV stations at once, but I've been scanning the "breaking news" reports. Despite reporting over and over that the power companies don't know what caused the outage, and that many people are stuck in elevators, to this point not one local station has reported that just yesterday Al Qaeda delivered a general threat that targeted Los Angeles by name.

    Not that I necessarily believe that this was terrorism related, but what gives? Are these news outlets trying to contain a potential panic over this "coincidence"? More likely it probably just proves that these so-called news people don't even pay attention to and absorb what they report from one day to the next. Blah, blah, blah.

    Brown Resigns - Three Weeks Too Late

    FEMA head Michael Brown resigns, saying his resignation is, "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president." Nothing about whether it's in the best interest of the country, which it clearly is.

    What would have been even better for the country in general - and the Gulf Coast in particular - would have been Brown never applying for, and accepting, a position for which he was clearly unqualified (free registration required).

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Heck of a Job, Brownie - Except, Not So Much

    The man whom Bush told on Friday, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," is relieved of his duties overseeing response to Hurricane Katrina by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

    Apparently he's not being fired or demoted, but according to the MSNBC article, there is speculation that this could be the first step toward his leaving FEMA altogether.

    Too bad Brown and Chertoff didn't realize how woefully unqualified Brown was before the twin disasters of Hurricane Katrina and Relief Extreme Mismanagement killed thousands of people.

    Saddam Announces That He Will Take Over His Own Prosecution

    After all, who but Saddam knows more about what was going on in Iraq during his rule? If it's good enough for Bush.....

    N.Y. Times: Democratic Leaders Reject G.O.P. Storm Inquiry Plan

    "America Supports You Freedom Walk"... Now Freedom-free!!

    The restrictions that the Pentagon has placed on participation in this Sunday's so-called "freedom walk" makes it sound more like a "perp walk".

    What a joke. They just don't get it. Oh wait. They do get it, and they want to keep it... especially from the rest of us. From The Washington Post:
    Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.

    The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

    The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave...

    Don't you feel safer and freer now?

    "Perp Walk" original post

    If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United states does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us. -- Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg

    America’s Battered Wife Syndrome

    12th Harmonic, an Australian blog accuses us of exhibiting Battered Wife Syndome, in this open letter to America. In my admittedly non-legal and non-medical, but fiercely American mind, it sounds pretty dead on to me.

    Dear America

    As a friend of the family I can’t sit back and watch you do this to yourself without saying something. Consider this a long distance intervention.

    Your man is no good. He treats you like crap, lies to you, abuses you, bullies you, exploits you, takes your money. As a friend I want to tell you that you deserve better. You deserve a person that treats you with respect, cares about your welfare, and your children’s welfare, but that’s not George and it never will be.

    Do you tell yourself that he’ll stop, or that it won’t get worse? He won’t ever stop, every insult, injury and death he has caused are a line that once crossed will never be uncrossed. Forget the dream. You will never have the American dream with George. You have to forget about what might have been, what George might have been, and realise that at the end of the day you are what you do, and look at George’s track record.


    Another Foot Lands In Santorum's Mouth

    From Capitol Buzz:

    Santorum Blames National Weather Service For Katrina

    Rick Santorum justified Keith Olbermann's decision to name him the worst person of all time this morning by renewing his stupid effort to destroy the National Weather Service.

    In an interview with a local PA radio station, Santorum says that the National Weather Service failed to predict the storm's fury and that its warnings were "not sufficient."

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Compassionate Conservatism...

    Or conserving compassion?

    Oliver Willis and Daily Kos report that there were actual Nay votes for the $51 billion package (H.R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Oddly enough, every representative that voted against the package just happens to be Republican:
    Rep. Joe Barton - TX
    Jeff Flake - AZ
    Virginia Foxx - NC
    Scott Garrett - NJ
    John Hostettler - IN
    Steve King - IA
    Butch Otter - ID
    Ron Paul - TX
    James Sensenbrenner - WI
    Tom Tancredo - CO
    Lynn Westmoreland - GA
    I would be very interested to find out their justifications. Chances are damned good I won't believe them, but I'd still be interested.

    Smart Folks, Them Irish

    From the "Yep, That's About the Size of It" Department (thanks to Daily Kos):

    From Sky News Ireland - Image Hosted by

    Makes me proud of what little Irish blood I do have running through my veins.

    9/11 Commission Heads: "System-wide Failures [...] Should Have Been Fixed"

    "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America's response to Hurricane Katrina was hamstrung by well-known system-wide problems that could have been fixed but went unattended and wound up costing lives, the two men who led an inquiry into the September 11, 2001, attacks said."
    Further proof that the Department of Homeland Security, while outrageously expensive, serves no purpose and may have even contributed to the devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    But hey! At least we got all those pretty colors on the Homeland Security Advisory System. That's worth billions of tax-payers dollars.

    POTUS-LOTUS Blossom

    Bush Orders FEMA To Protect Upsidedownland

    Weird is becoming the norm, but this one is really weird. Bob Harris tries to figure it all out.

    What Me Worry? Heck No, I Don't Even Know Enough To Worry!

    Our president evidently thinks that FEMA and its head Michael Brown's emergency response in New Orleans has been picture perfect.

    From a Washington Post article highlighting House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's news conference:

    Pelosi, speaking at a news conference, said Brown had "absolutely no credentials" when Bush picked him to run FEMA.

    She related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.

    "He said, 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

    "I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'"

    "Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.

    Video of the news conference at Crooks and Liars. (Also check out Keith Olbermann's timeline video, available on the same page.)

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    From One Mother To Another

    One of my mom's favorite expressions: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." The following from Daily Kos:
    The Beautiful Mind Strikes Again
    by DavidNYC
    Mon Sep 5th, 2005 at 17:09:32 PDT

    Barbara Bush - the woman whom no less an authority than Dick Nixon said "knows how to hate," the woman who didn't want to trouble her "beautiful mind" with thoughts of "body bags and deaths" - has now offered us yet another gem. After visting refugees staying at the Houston Astrodome, she had this to say:

    "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckled slightly)--this is working very well for them."

    What a cold, callous, wretched ghoul of a person. I just don't even know what else to say.

    (Hat tip to Editor and Publisher.)

    This picture was delivered to my inbox this afternoon. (Unknown original source so far, but I'm looking.)

    Barbara Bush In Her Marie Antoinette Costume

    (Ed. Note: Photoshopped from original painting
    "Queen Marie Antoinette" (1786) by Elisabeth Vig

    Maybe Our National Bird Is the Ostrich

    Reuters reports that FEMA doesn't want the news media to take photographs of New Orleans dead.

    Hardly surprising, considering the Bush administration prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Keeping heads planted firmly in sand seems to be our current government's speciality.

    This is an incredibly talented and flexible administration. Who else could bury their heads in the sand while living in hermetically sealed bubbles? I didn't know that was even possible.

    In accordance with FEMA's wishes, I will not publish the offending pictures. Wait a minute. I'm not a member of the news media. And I will not let people forget:

    New Orleans Canal - Image Hosting at
    Alcede Jackson - Image Hosted by
    Vera - Image Hosted by

    Hey, lets just blame Canada (warning - graphic image from CBC):

    Image Hosted by

    Bush's Priorities: Askew, As Usual - Part Deux

    As discovered by Media Matters, though the media widely reported Bush's September 2 visit to New Orleans to survey damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, what it conveniently negelected to mention was that "helicopter flights were banned for the duration of Bush's stay, stalling relief efforts and preventing sick and injured survivors from being airlifted to treatment centers."

    Man, that asshole dickhead guy will endanger anyone for a photo op.

    Bush Dictionary: Firefighters = Human Props

    According to Daily Kos and the Salt Lake Tribune, on Sunday approximately 1,000 firefighters from around the country were flown out to Atlanta to attend a FEMA training session, many of them believing they would then be deployed to the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the resulting floods. Instead they discovered that, after the training, they would be utilized in the most craven way possible: as community-relations officers for FEMA, to be shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a 800 FEMA phone number.

    Even worse, the Salt Lake City Tribune disclosed:
    Image Hosted by

    But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
    Is this FEMA's idea of a responsible use of highly trained emergency workers? Maybe New York would have been better served in the aftermath of 9/11 if FEMA had sent local and visiting firefighters around the city passing out fliers, instead of trying to save lives and unearth the dead. Or to mass around a man who seems to think that every disaster visited upon America is nothing more than a photo op.

    The words "disgust" and "fury" don't begin to define what your erstwhile contributor is feeling right now.

    President Gore

    Compare an act of quiet heroism by a mensch with Bush's cynical photo op.

    From the Knoxville News Sentinel, Saturday 9/4:
    About 140 people - mostly elderly and infirm - arrived Saturday at McGhee Tyson Airport on a chartered mercy flight from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, welcomed to East Tennessee by a bright sun and a host of medical professionals straining at the reins to help their fellow human beings without regard to whether they were on the clock.

    The displaced hurricane victims came to Tennessee on a hastily arranged flight, accompanied by doctors and carrying whatever they had in boxes, bags or, in one case, an old suitcase tied up with rope.

    Former Vice President Al Gore arranged the flight and was on board, but he declined to take credit for the airlift, fearing it would be "politicized."
    Gore chose not to speak to the assembled media, but he was seen in a black T-shirt and jeans moving rapidly from one side of the plane to the other assisting with the off-loading operation.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Call In The Next 7 Minutes And We'll Eliminate One Of Your Three Easy Payments


    Our fearless leader, President Bush, shows his presidential leadership in observing the hurricane disaster area aboard Air Force One. "It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." (No artificial photo op here, no sirree! We only do those on the ground.)

    Order your commemorative signed photo today. Surely to be a collectors' item! Individually signed by the highest quality signature machine. Looks real!

    8 by 10 photo only, $25. Expertly framed in a lovely simulated wood or brushed aluminum frame for only $69.95!

    Credit cards and PayPal happily accepted online at (Sorry, no checks accepted. Not that we don't trust you little people, but business is business.)

    Change Of Pace

    A friend sent me this link to Mike Stanfill's wonderful Flash animation of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" (to the tune of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Major General's Song".) Even if you don't know Tom Lehrer and don't have an appreciation for, ahemmm, chemistry, I think you'll find it incredibly amusing. (Macromedia Flash required. It's free.)

    Tom Lehrer at Wikipedia.
    There is an urban legend that Lehrer gave up political satire when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. He did say that the awarding of the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete, but has denied that he stopped doing satire as a form of protest, and pointed out that he had stopped doing satire several years earlier.
    Another Tom Lehrer site, with song lyrics to all his classics, such as "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", "I Wanna Go Back to Dixie", "The Masochism Tango", "So Long Mom, I'm Off To Drop the Bomb" and "The Vatican Rag".

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    OK, change back.... Heard today on Randi Rhodes:

    F ailure to
    E ffectively
    M anage
    A nything

    NEWS FLASH: Michael Brown is still in charge of FEMA.

    "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." (Arabian) Horseshit! Yet another reason to impeach Bush, for dereliction of duty in maintaining an incompetent political hack in a critical position during a crisis. (Note that Brown's official biography at the FEMA web site conveniently omits the apparently inconvenient fact that he worked at the International Arabian Horse Association for 10 YEARS, until 2001, when he resigned under pressure.)

    Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, Brown's chief deputies are no better qualified.

    Dean: Telling It Like It Is - Again

    Not exactly known for pulling punches, DNC chairman Howard Dean takes Bush and Rove to task for so quickly starting the White House spin cycle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
    "Based on today’s reports, it seems clear that President Bush’s visit today is just another callous political move crafted by Karl Rove. It’s just appalling to see how quickly President Bush and Karl Rove have mobilized a political strategy in their own defense, but simply failed to mobilize a swift response to either keep the people in the Gulf Coast region safe in the first place or aid the victims in the aftermath of the storm."

    Big Heroes Come in Little Packages

    Time for a little good news: one is never too young to be a hero. Bless you, young Deamonte.

    Let's hope that theNational Center for Missing & Exploited Children will help to reunite many more lost children with their families.

    Conyers: Actually on Top of Things

    On Thursday Representative John Conyers, Jr. wrote to FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras asking the FTC to study price gouging in the gasoline market. More importantly for the surviving victims of Katrina (more accurately, the surviving victims of the Bush Administration mismanagement of Katrina, will introduce legislation this week to amend the recently passed Bankruptcy Code so that, "the most onerous provisions of the new law, scheduled to take effect October 17, do not inflict damage on the millions of victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families."

    Way to go, Representative Conyers. And I mean that sincerely.

    Bush: He's on Top of Things

    Bush has declared that he will investigate the federal relief effort for Hurricane Katrina:
    "Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.

    "What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," Bush said. "We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm."

    But Bush said now is not the time to point fingers and he did not respond to calls for a commission to investigate the response.

    "One of the things people want us to do here is play the blame game," he said. "We got to solve problems. There will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong."
    If ever there were a case of the fox investigating the henhouse...

    The Spinnin' Is Beginnin'

    The NY Times "White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage" reports:
    Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

    It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.

    The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.

    If the administration had some competence and ethics, then containing political damage would not be an issue. But politics trumps all these days, so doing the "right thing" is seemingly always and solely seen through the political prism. When left to his own, the dunce just doesn't seem to know what to do.

    American Progress nicely summarizes a response. "Administration Tries to Shift Blame for Its Own Incompetence" and goes into more detail in today's Progress Report newsletter.

    And if you haven't seen Keith Olbermann's Monday night editorial on MSNBC, then you must watch this: Video at Crooks and Liars, transcript at MSNBC:
    The "city" of Louisiana (Keith Olbermann)

    Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

    Well there's your problem right there.

    If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

    Olbermann has always been there, but is the mainstream press coming around too? Perhaps, and we can hope. And keep the press's feet to the fire too.


    From the Cold War film drama "Fail-Safe", 1964:

    Due to human and technological failures, a U.S. bomber has just dropped a nuclear bomb on Moscow. The American president, played by Henry Fonda, is on the phone with the Soviet Chairman:

    "What do we say to the dead, Mr. Chairman? Accidents will happen?"

    Let's make sure that there's accountability this time. When will we learn that without accountability, nothing will change. There have been far too many unconscionable failures at all levels: local, state and national.

    But many more heroes have emerged. Let's never forget about them either.

    Cheney?... Cheney?... No, Can't Say That I Recognize The Name

    Oh where, oh where has my vice president gone?
    Oh where, oh where can he be?
    With his compassion cut short and vacation way long
    Oh where, oh where can he be?

    One thing we do know: Reuters reports that he's canceled a trip planned for this week "to Canada's main energy producing region because of Hurricane Katrina, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said on Sunday. The association was one of the organizers of the trip, which was designed to give Cheney an insight into Alberta's vast oil sands region...."

    Blood for oil sand, anyone?

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Supreme Court

    Two openings, eh? I have two suggestions that could go a long way towards curing what ails us in this country.

    Lenny and his brother Louie

    Garrison Keillor: "Why I Still Love Radio"

    I came across this delightful little article by Garrison Keillor "Confessions of a Listener: Why I still love radio" in the current issue of Utne Magazine, reprinted from the May 23, 2005 issue of The Nation. (You probably know The Nation, but check out Utne if you're not familiar with it.)

    While I'm not sure I fully agree with his quick assessment of right-wing vs. left-wing radio, I think there's more than just a crumb of truth in it. And I would suggest, as I find myself doing more and more, that we distinguish between what passes for (mainstream) Republican these days versus a generation ago or more.

    The reason you find an army of right-wingers ratcheting on the radio and so few liberals is simple: Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave listening to people who think like them. Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society; tuning in to hear an echo is not our idea of a good time. I go to church on Sunday morning to be among the like-minded, and we all say the Nicene Creed together and assume nobody has his fingers crossed, but when it comes to radio, I prefer oddity and crankiness. I don't need someone to tell me that George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man--that's pretty clear on the face of it. What I want is to be surprised and delighted and moved.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Let Them Eat Rice

    So, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on vacation this week too. Do her official functions require that she cut it short and scurry back to Washington in the face of a national disaster? Perhaps, perhaps not. After all, her boss didn't quite feel any urgency either, so we understand her reluctance to forego a well-deserved spree in New York City. (Comedians know that "timing is everything", but cabinet secretaries are apparently able to waive the class that covers that topic.)

    Some New Yorkers disagreed.

    First, Condi attended the Wednesday night performance of "Spamalot" on Broadway, and was booed by some audience members when the lights came up after the show. OK, I'm still willing to cut her a little slack here, and I'm not saying that because I like or admire her. I don't.

    But how does one excuse this incident from the following day, as reported by Gawker:

    Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza [sic] Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes... A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.