Friday, September 30, 2005

Pups Over Politics

So my girlfriend, my dog and I were at the local coffee shop (Common Ground) and as I was paying I noticed a sandy-haired middle aged man standing next to me. He had on a blue blazer, tan pants, glasses, and a bow-tie. He asked the girl behind the counter "What are these lovely pillow shaped pasteries?" and I pinned him as George F. Will, or at least a dead ringer for him. Many people consider this man to be a conservative political hack who's books about baseball are OK. I haven't read any of his baseball books.

We sat down to drink our coffe and eat our bagels. He sat at a table close to the exit. As we left we passed him and I was going to mutter something about "right wing schills" when my dog jumped up and put her front paws in his lap. He immediately started to rub her face and scratch her chest and started to coo: "OoooOoo. Who's da widdle puppy? I wuv puppies and your a good puppy aren't you?" He continued in this schmoopy vein for a few seconds more and then complimented me on my pretty dog. I could only laugh, say "thanks", and get out the door as fast as I good manage without seeming like I was making a hasty exit. How do you start a political argument with someone who has just been schmoopy to your dog? It's just heartless and rude.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Raising of Arms

Retardo does what we won't - read and critique the Galloway-Hitchens debate. The man has far more patience than me.

Update: In case you think you'd be wasting your time clicking the link, you'll miss great stuff like this if you don't:

Some of us were cautious enough to know that the trade was the United States's health for the promise -- surely to be broken -- of Iraq. That's exactly what we got. Hitchens, who had a great talent, contributed to this loss and refuses all responsibility for it. Fuck him and the elephant he climbed up on. Let them both choke on straw.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Discovering Devolution: Blogging Scopes II

Panda's Thumb is blogging the Dover case, with many links and resources. I had actual work to do today so I haven't had time to review them. However, among the links they offer are blogs covering the case, one from the ACLU and another from the Discovery Institute.

As an aside, over the last few weeks I've been reading some blogs from the ID camp, most notably William Dembski's Uncommon Descent. I've also trudged through two of Dembski's most recent papers which purport to provide the mathematical foundations of the design argument. I'll have more to say on that later (IMNFNKY - this is not like other times when I've said I'll post something and then forgotten about it). However, one thing bears mention. This debate is basically futile - it can't really be called a debate - for one simple reason. The two sides have fundamentally different assumptions about what constitutes good science.

I'll try to keep the explanation of this dichotomy simple. The evolution side - on which I am firmly planted - believes you start with a question, and answer it via well defined procedures of inference from examination of available physical evidence. The ID side believes you start with a question and a desired conclusion and devise schemes which interpret the available evidence to suit that conclusion. In this case the question is "how did complex organisms come to be", and the ID side already knows the answer - "not evolution." The ID side has been forthcoming on this, but the evolution side has generally attempted to argue as if this dichotomy doesn't exist. The real debate lies in these conflicting views of science, not in the technical details, because you can't debate the details without agreeing on the fundamentals.

My personal reaction to the ID way of doing things is complete horror. As I've written several times before, there is no scientific utility in their approach, but there are cultural and political ramifications which are far too gruesome to contemplate.

They tried to give me a golden parachute, but I was scared to jump out of the plane

This from Facing South. In a way, you've got to admire these guys. They think their money and privelage will keep them from being held accountable for anything, and so far, they're right.

Peanut Gallery

Did you ever think President Bush could sound like President Carter?

With fears mounting that high energy costs will crimp economic growth, President Bush called on Americans yesterday to conserve gasoline by driving less. He also issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation.

"We can all pitch in," Mr. Bush said. "People just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption," he added, and that if Americans are able to avoid going "on a trip that's not essential, that would be helpful."

Monday, September 26, 2005

All Us Protest Kids Pt. 3

After we re-joined the march we circled up to 14th street. All the cross streets were blocked by cops. We walked down doing one last chant, which was a call and response. One guy behind us yelled "How do we support the troops?" We answered with "Bring them home!". We kept this up for a few blocks when we reached a sort of dead spot. One woman, who was sitting on the sidewalk with a megaphone, intoned "Bush lied, thousands died" over and over. It bounced around the street where we stood, and it was really spooky. We hustled on past and came upon the counter demonstration, where a bunch of other marchers had converged.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
We weren't allowed onto the sidewalk where they stood, and they were behind metal blockades preventing them from coming into the street. Of course we had to stop and look. Bob went up to try to debate one of them but they just shouted "commie! hippie!" at him. I stood next to Bob and tried to talk too, but there was some guy standing next to me shouting "Nazis! Nazis!" at the Freepers, who were more interested in responding to him - so much so that I figured he must have been a plant. I tried to get close enough so I could say something, and a cop told me to step off the curb or he would kick my ass. Not relishing a blow on the head, I walked off to find Jay1. As I left I heard one of the Freepers shout "So you're calling me stupid?" and I heard Bob yell "No! I'm calling you ignorant!"

Mykeru's Freak Exhibit
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
When I couldn't find Jay1 I went over to see Mykeru, who was dressed in full carnival barkers duds and was screaming at the top of his lungs "Come see the Wingnuts! Real Live Right Wingnuts here!" Hillarious. Then I went into the middle of the street to snap more pictures. Some idiot from the march torched a flag to cheers from his compatriots. Another guy started yelling "Sign up!" at the Freepers, and when a woman responded by showing her dog tags and yelling back "I already did!", the guy yelled "Go back! Hey, this is really cathartic!" The guy eventally walked off yelling "Zig Heil!" A really stupid display. I found out later he had gone to school with Jay1.

Support The Mission
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Durring all of this, a guy with his face painted like a flag was yelling into a megaphone. The one non-garbled thing I heard him say was "You know what? One of us is going to send a picture of all this to a Freeper in Iraq and it's going to make him smile so big!" That didn't make much sense to me, but neither did any of their banners. I didn't need them to tell me A.N.S.W.E.R. is related to the W.W.P - us lefties already know that and are pretty ticked off about it. Besides, who cares? I wasn't there as a communist, I was there as a concerned citizen. I felt good though, because earlier that morning I had promised my girlfriend I wouldn't get into any sort of altercation with these people - not even if they called me a hippie. They had, in a general sense, and I stayed cool.

I finally found Jay1 on the other side of the street. He told me he had hid his sign and managed to get behind the barricades, where he posed as being sympathetic to their cause. He spoke with an older guy who said "I don't know why I keep comin' to these things. They always yell the same stuff and we always yell the same stuff back. It's just loud and boring." Jay1 asked him what he thought of the marchers. "They're ok. They're doing what they think is right, but they're misinformed." When Jay1 asked him how the marchers got their information, he replied "from their leaders, A.N.S.W.E.R." Jay1 thanked the guy and headed back to the march. When he re-entered the street a cop had told him "if you are part of this event and you come back over here, you're going to get beat."

To The Rescue
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Jay1 and I stood where we were until we saw that a battalion of mounted cops were coming up the street, while cop cars drove through the group of marchers gathered in front of the Freepers. The Freepers cheered and the one on the megaphone said "Let's have a round of applause for the policemen. Excuse me, policemen and policewomen." Freepers? Being PC? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? No. I think the Freepers joy may have been somewhat misplaced, however. It was clear the streets were being cleared to allow traffic to come through, not because anyone had any particular beef with the marchers.

Cop Cars Breaking It Up
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
We were chased up the street by the mounteds until we reached the edge of the Mall, and that was pretty much that. We had lost Bob, but found out later he had made it home ok.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

We did go to the stage to see if we could catch Wayne Kramer, but we couldn't find out if he'd already gone on or if he was going to play, and if so, when. Instead we listened to a few speakers and the hip-hop with instruments group The Coup. Evidently we missed the worst offenders from the A.N.S.W.E.R. camp and heard a few members of United For Peace and Justice give general anti-war sentiments that were as inoffensive as they were uninspiring. I didn't like the attempt to flatter us into being "part of the movement". Some of the speeches from those who had lost family were really touching, but only one speaker really "rocked it"; a member of the Washington Wizards, gave a speech explaining how he'd like to pile all the major right wingers into busses with no air conditioning and drive them to live in the hood.

All in all I'd say the march was pretty positive. I think the people like Gilliard and Wolcott who saw it on television and were angry are correct when they say the lack of message discipline where it really matters is a terrible blow to the effectiveness of the movement. Right now it's more a conglomeration of many little special interest groups, and that is a problem. I'm not sure the best way to correct this. However, I do know that as a direct participant it seemed like we are attracting more and more mainstream folks to the cause, and that's a good thing. I'll end with one more photo which, to me, shows why I was there.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
This is a photo from outside Camp Casey. It's pictures of all the service people who have died in Iraq. I don't want to see any more faces added.

All Us Protest Kids Pt. 2

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
When we arrived on the ellipse and began milling, we came upon the DC installation of Camp Casey. There was a tent set up and inside it you could get information and buy protest-wares. I skipped that, but I didn't skip the site surrounding the tent. Here were the white crosses and boots laid out as memorials to those who've fallen. I have to confess it got to me a little.

Hand Decorated T's
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

The Mighty Mighty Union
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
We walked around a little more, introduced ourselves to some people who liked Jay1's and Bob's signs, and finally made our way to the march propper. As we entered the march I noticed a pair of girls with interesting but sad hand decorated t-shirts (see photos). Also at the very start of the march there was a gathering of the Transportation Workers Union of New York City. They did some chanting which exemplified the confusion and lack of message discipline others, including Wolcott, have noted. They began strong with the "Everywhere we go...people wanna know...", but when they got to "What do we want?" call and response, they stumbled. They first time they responded with "Peace!" After they repeated it a second time, someone in their ranks shouted "no guys, it's 'Troops Home!'", and they quickly corrected themselves. We passed on by with a little chuckling, the correct chant echoing behind us.

Once in the march, we found ourselves surrounded by a ragtag bunch of proffesional activists chanting irritating tautologies like "The people united will never be divided!". "Yes," I thought, "and 'My shoes on my feet there mean my feet aren't bare!' is just as useful". To our right was a group of what I can only describe as "Cuban Trotskyites For A Free Palestine" chanting "Viva Viva Palastinia!" Bob turned to me and said "See, this is why we're so eff'ed." To our left was a group of what I described in my notes as "stupid narcissistic hippie chicks" who shouted at one point "Take a look at yourselves! You're beatuiful!" Right then a middle-aged looking guy in tshirt, shorts and a baseball cap said to me "What the hell is wrong with these people? I just want to stop the war." I said I agreed and suggested to Jay1 and Bob we get away from them as soon as possible.

We forced our way up the crowd, which was difficult because it was so thick with people, but everyone seemed willing to let you through if you were going faster. We ended up next to yet more irritating anarchist kids with signs that read "Down with crappy signs!", "Liberalism is concensus in drag(sorry but it's true)!" and "Quit your corporate jobs you yuppie sell-outs!". While I can sort of dig that a little more, they really did wreak, so we pressed on further. Finally we ended up in a group of what seemed like more normal people. We were still surrounded by inane chanting which suddenly died down. We walked on in silence for a little while and then a little old lady next to me said "Hey, what do you say we do 'one two three four we don't want your fucking war'?" I said "yeah, that is awesome!", so she and I, along with Jay1 and Bob started. A few more people joined in but then it died down when we couldn't get more than the 11 or 12 of us doing it. Bob turned to me and said "I bet if they knew a little old lady had started that more people would have done it."

We marched on, waving our signs, occaisionally joining a sensible chant, other times staying silent and just watching, till we reached the White House. There we joined in a chant of "Shame on you! Shame on you!" which mutated into "Hey hey ho ho George Bush has got to go!" when we all realized our legs were tired and we needed water. We crossed the street into the park and watched the march for a while. Unfortunately we were seated right next to one of the biggest drum circles I have ever seen. Jay1 said "yeah man, dig it!" I was less positive and said "I wish they'd just shut up, but I guess it's cool they're not trying to levitate the place." However, the mounted cops riding through the park seemed to like it, and set their horses dancing(IMNFNKY).

We watched the march from the park for a while and saw plenty of great signs as well as some totally stupid stuff. The "Free Mumia" people and a group of people in matching red Che' tshirts were the worst offenders. The most effecting display, for my money, was long line of flagged draped coffins. Bob turned to me and said "well Rumsfeld won't let us see'em, so I guess this is it."

After the coffins passed, we re-joined the march...
Stay tuned for our run-in with the Freepers.

All Us Protest Kids Pt. 1

It was against my better judgment to attend the peace march. Although the only protests I've been to were on the west coast, I feared this one would be similar; tons of idiots and hippies ruining my day with their lack of focus, concentration on pet causes, and moronic chanting. Also, I am not at all down with A.N.S.W.E.R., the organizers of the march, and I don't really want to be associated with them. See Cooper for why (short version: I am not and have never been a member of the Workers World Party). Despite my reservations, I have come to the conclusion that I disagree with my man Clark and think it's time we bring the troops home. I figured if my participation in a march - however silly I might feel about it - can make that happen sooner, then I am duty-bound to participate (it was also a plus that I had heard Wayne Kramer was going to play). So I did. I went with Jay1 (not his real name, but if you know me then here is the algorithm to discover his identity: remove the last letter of my name and start rockin') and his friend Bob (not his real name either).

At around 9:30AM Jay1 and I drove down to Columbia to meet up with Bob. At Bob's house we met his wife and children, both of whom have been trained to dislike our current president. When Bob's daughter asked him what we were doing today, he replied, "We're going to try to stop the bad man honey. Do you know who the bad man is?" She responded with, "Geroge W. Bush! George W. Bush is the bad man!" I thought Bob was doing a great job inadvertently raising a future Republican. We then set about making our signs, writing our slogans on large peices of poster paper. Jay1 went with "U.S. Got Neo-Conned", Bob used "The Chimp Is A War Pimp", while I opted for "What is the course? BRING THEM HOME NOW". Signs constructed, we drove off to the College Park Metro Station.

College Park Metro platform
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

Crowded Metro car
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
The Metro Station was incredibly crowded, as was the Metro itself. We had to wait for 3 trains jam packed full of people - many of whom appeared to be protesters - to pass before we got one that was empty enough for us to board. While we waited we spoke with a skinny guy who looked to be about 35. He claimed to be a Russian expat on his way to the museums and made a poignant observation. "You know, in Russia they never brought their kids to the protests." Reminded me that it's a little surreal to insist we live in a completely facist state.

Squares on Parade
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.

Thronging squares
Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
The Metro ride was uneventful. We arrived at the Smithsonian stop on the Capitol Mall around 1:00pm. When we exited the station we saw two helpful signs; one pointed the direction to the Book Fair - also happening that day - and the other to the march. I thought this was mighty nice of the city until I realized it was probably done by the Book Fair people in an attempt to prevent the fair from being over run with confused marchers. We walked up the mall to the ellipse, the starting point of the march. There we joined the throng of people milling around waiting for the march to start. I was suprised at the sheer number of what I'd consider "squares" as opposed to "freaks".

More later...

Michelle Malkin Is A Posing Idiot

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
This is a large group of rather normal looking people outside the Whitehouse on Saturday, 09-24-2005. The march that I attended consisted mostly of people like this.

Update: Also this.

Update II: Evidently LGF and Malkin among others are claiming that the ol' liberal media is inflating the number of people who attended. Please see Sadly, No!. If you need any more proof of the empty headed willingness of LGF and Malkin to propogandize themselves despite evidence that contradicts them, you are probably either Charles Johnson or Michelle Malkin.

Framing This

This wording totally pisses me off. I was at the march on saturday (post pending on that) and it was in support of the troops, especially the notion that maybe they ought to be allowed to stay alive. Sunday's march was just anti-anti-war, which is a different thing altogether.

Friday, September 23, 2005

That's Just a Gas: Friday Random Ten

Put your player on shuffle and post the first ten that come up.

  1. Rolling Stones - Amanda Jones

  2. AMM - Generetive Theme II

  3. Levitation - Hangnail

  4. Minutemen - Only Minority

  5. Treat Her Right - Standing By Your Window

  6. Miles Davis - Dear Old Stockholm

  7. Link Wray - Heartbreak Hotel

  8. Royal Trux - Solid Gold Tooth

  9. The Fall - Room To Live

  10. Lungfish - Mated
    This song has my favorite.Lungfish.line.ever: "When our children resort to lies and Baltimore begins to will not avert your eyes!"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Separation of Concerns

In this post at OxBlog I noticed an infuriating rhetorical twitch that's all too common in our political discourse. It's so common on the right wing that it wouldn't be noteworthy except that it's coming from a blog which purports to be "moderate". The twitch is this: Take someone's statement of fact, pretend it's a moral statement, and become huffy, outraged, and cry "appeaser" or somesuch. David Adesnik engages in it by quoting from an article with an admittedly inflamatory title and thesis. But he still gets it wrong:

Last week, Dr. Mohamedou published an op-ed in the Boston Globe entitled "Time to Talk to Al Qaeda?" (Hat tip: Power Line) Here is a typical passage from the column:

Sept. 11 was not an unprovoked, gratuitous act. It was a military operation researched and planned since at least 1996 and conducted by a trained commando in the context of a war that had twice been declared officially and publicly.

There you have it folks. An expert on the payroll of the world's greatest university telling us that hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers really isn't all that bad as long as you tell everyone in advance what you're going to do. But don't forget, this rule only applies to "trained commando". If you're an amateur terrorist, forget about it!

ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Mohamedou was making a statment of fact, not a moral judgment. Nowhere in the article does he make any explicit (or implicit) claims that blowing up buildings is a good thing. I expect this sort of phony attribution from Powerline and LGF and Limbaugh, because without the phony outrage they have nothing to say. But Rhodes Scholars really ought to know better. What's most depressing about this twitch is it makes actual debates about actual policy nearly impossible. If "talking to Al Queda" is an illegitimate or intolerable course of action, there ought to be ways to say so without making stuff up or falsely claiming that your opponent is being "relativist".

For what it's worth, I totally disagree with the conclusions that Mohamedou draws from his analysis. Adesnik could probably take the article apart on strictly the quality of the arguments, but he doesn't bother, which is a shame.

Heavy Posting Meme

Via Malkin(s) Watch:
1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Having been in the computer industry for 12 years, I've ssen enough future to know that the real uses of technology, and the real revolutions, are gradual.

It bums me out that our 23rd post is also one I think is kinda dull, and that its fifth sentence contains a typo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Intelligent Design Debate is Over

Paul Rudnick wins.

"'But are those ice caps?' inquired Thor. 'Is this a coherent vision, or a highball?'"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Have you ever ...

Felt like this?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Our Victory

After hearing this story this morning I was reminded (not for the first time in the last 5 years) of the following passage:

"What is that gun firing for?" said Boxer.

"To celebrate our victory!" cried Squealer.

"What victory?" said Boxer. His knees were bleeding, he had lost a shoe and split his hoof, and a dozen pellets had lodged themselves in his hind leg.

"What victory, comrade? Have we not driven the enemy off our soil-the sacred soil of Animal Farm? "

"But they have destroyed the windmill. And we had worked on it for two years!"

"What matter? We will build another windmill. We will build six windmills if we feel like it. You do not appreciate, comrade, the mighty thing that we have done. The enemy was in occupation of this very ground that we stand upon. And now-thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon-we have won every inch of it back again!"

"Then we have won back what we had before," said Boxer.

"That is our victory," said Squealer.

Context? People like this insist that, like everything, the problem is Clinton's fault, and Bush's tough talk in 2001 was exactly what was needed to fix it. Yet now a policy that, in the general, looks a heck of a lot like the old "appeasment" is in place, and all of this will no doubt be attributed to our own Dear Leader's wisdom and fortitude, or something.

Update: Yglesias smells similar rotting fish.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Can we enlist this guy in the GWOT?

They Just Keep Coming

Via Shakespeare's Sister: ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? There's a joke about a major leaker cleaning up the mess from a major leak in there, but I haven't had enough coffee to find it.

Spleen on a Meme: Friday Random Ten, Happy Birthday RUFNKM Edition

The drill is upon us. Put your player/device on shuffle, post the first ten items that come up.

  1. The Melodians - Swing and Dine

  2. Th' Faith Healers - Sparklingly Chime

  3. Derrick Harriott - Borne To Love You

  4. Minutemen - Retreat

  5. Wire - Men 2nd

  6. Autechre - Vletrmx21

  7. Quickspace - Quasi-pfaff

  8. Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus - Fleurette Africaine

  9. Derek Bailey - Pie[Amatossis Mix]

  10. Miles Davis - All of You

What, no House of Love this week? Oh wait. Here they are at number 11. IMNFNKY.

Also, I just noticed it's RUFKNM's birthday! We turned a year old yesterday and I missed it because deadline preasure has picked up again. So, along with your random ten, post the event that most made you want to ask, "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?". You can't use Shrubya's re-election because that's too easy. Bonus points if asking the question prevented an aneurysm.

Big DUH Update: Forgot to post my favorite RUFNKM moment. I think my biggest so far has actually been the discovery that our foreign policy was being driven by people who think the study of ancient texts gives them all the insight their jobs require.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Everyone to the Steps of the Capital, purple dye on our thumbs, so we can engage in more empty symbolic gestures!


Probably noted by everyone who gets it, but this is my favorite ever comment spam.

Update: Also, I apologize in advance to our 10 regular commentors, but I've had to enable the "word entry" validation for commenting. I know it's a pain, but it's a small price to pay, I think.

Update II: While we're at it, I modified the Indie 500 blogroll to only contain blogs which updated recently (code stolen that from Windy City Lefty) so we should load a little faster now as well.

Is That Thunder?

No, it's a rumble caused by the rupture of a pair of enormous gas pipes. There is no possible way for me to agree with this guy who says it "doesn't get any better than this"; it's more like a resigned "as good as it gets", which is pretty bad. The thought of a debate between two loud but empty British men - both of whom have, shall we say, dubious moral calculi in regards to regimes which murder their own people (remember, Clinton executing one man is a moral horror, Bush murdering hundreds is brushed aside with a rhetorical tap on the wrist and a wink, and Saddam is a man of courage and indefatigability) - suggests not glorious theatre and sport. It's more an evening of what my girlfriend likes to call "interminable ball-swinging". Neither of these ball swingers has much of anything to contribute to the actual debate so I think my answer to this request is "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?"

Monday, September 12, 2005

The distraction of our free press

Larry King just asked the Dalai Lama to explain how a supposedly benevolent god could let a hurricane destroy New Orleans (Kill people, etc).

Let’s see:

Are you effin' kidding me?
Get over it. Nobody questioning god is going to look for answers on the Larry King show. Right?
I hope I’m right.

I’d like to see Larry King asking people questions that would provide the “educated public” with insight into why Americans are letting “hurricane Katrina” destroy New Orleans.
In other words I would like Larry King, as a member of the free press, to do the job the constitution demands of him.

Ask Laura Bush why she thought the hurricane was called Corrinna.
Ask Dick Cheney which “John” the person who told him to go fuck himself must have been friends with.
Ask Kanye West why he thinks George Bush doesn’t like black people.

I’d like him to ask the chief of police of Gretna, LA why his officers were shooting in the air at people trying to escape from New Orleans into his town?

The story I heard on “This American Life” was: 200 people, mostly black, tried to cross a bridge into Gretna and the Gretna police halted their approach and threatened them from coming any further with gunshots and police dogs.

A fireman (one of the 200, I think a white man) stepped forward presenting his badge, placed it on the ground and put his hands above his head. “May I approach?” he had to yell.

He was allowed to approach and told that the group could not cross the bridge and would be fired upon if they tried!

It was dark, raining and windy. These people’s homes were gone to them, they were no longer safe. They were being attacked by the world itself and it was as bad as any nightmare.
Then it gets worse. They could have escaped but weren’t allowed.
Drown or get shot.
Get electrocuted or get shot.
Get killed or get shot.

Why were these people turned away? Why were they forced back into the nightmare?

There is only one reason:

The town, a well-to-do town, didn’t want hordes of poor, mostly black, people running rampant through their streets, looting their stores and breaking into their homes.
Heck, they didn’t want any unfortunate people (white or black) even sleeping on their sidewalks.
(I can’t write “rich or poor” because it’s not applicable. If you weren’t poor you got out of New Orleans fine.)


Larry King posed the same unproductive “Where’s the benevolent god who let’s people die” question to a not-famous, young, white, Christian minister with a southern accent.”

Well, preacher said, sometimes I think there are just natural disasters and we have to remember that God is with us and loves us.


But Larry, why not ask the good minister if it was Christian how the town of Gretna acted toward their fellow man during the natural disaster?

Why not find out how many people in Gretna consider themselves Christians?

Why not ask the preacher if he thinks Barbara Bush is right and things are going well for the underprivileged as they are forced from everything that makes them feel safe into the arms of nighttime storms, shooting policemen, and general chaos?

America let this happen to New Orleans.
We are overpopulated and we’re converting “raw land” to “useable property” at an alarming rate.
God created raw land in the Gulf of Mexico to absorb the punch of Category 5 hurricanes.

If we had left it the way god had it we would have been fine.

Larry King should have asked the Dalai Lama how god feels about clear cutting forests, draining swamps, digging for oil, and building Wal-marts with lots of SUV parking.

The First Four Years

I'm a day late with this because in general I don't blog on weekends. There's too much real life to conduct outside the cubefarm that is my office. Be that as it may the anniversary of our nation's big awakening didn't pass without notice in the local branch of RUFNKM either.

Sure, I have my memories. On that day I was still living in SF. At 8:45AM Pacific time, my then roommate ran into the bedroom I shared with my then girlfriend and yelled "Oh my god! Wake up! We're under attack! The World Trade Center has been destroyed! I need help working the TV to get CNN on..." (We had a very complicated setup involving Direct TV and it was a pain...) We rolled out of bed mildly annoyed, thinking he was effin' kidding us. He wasn't. As I messed with the remotes to get CNN on, he told us how his girlfriend, in New York at the time, called him, sobbing, in a panic. She had seen at least one tower catch fire. Once we got CNN on, we heard about the Pentagon. My first thoughts were about my brother and my father.

My brother lived in DC, my father was in Fort Meade. I tried calling both of them, but couldn't get through to either of their cell phones - the lines were full. I was in a panic too. I spent 45 minutes alternating speed dialing them until I finally got through to my father. He said he was fine but couldn't get in touch with my brother either. An hour later I did get through to my brother. He said he had driven to downtown DC for a meeting, seen a huge amount of smoke, decided that whatever it was was going to cause way to much traffic, so he parked his car and took a walk. When he found out what the smoke was, he decided he needed a scotch and had somehow got one. Other than being emotionally shaken he was ok. He wasn't able to get through to my father or mother and he asked me to get in touch with them to tell them, which I did. I remember being jealous that he could have a scotch and I couldn't, because I was going to have to go to work.

The rest of the day is something of a blur. My girlfriend, roommate and I watched CNN in shock for a while. At some point I met up with my carpool to work, and we rode mostly in silence that was interupted only once - by a phone call from another co-worker of ours who's friend had escaped the south tower just before it collapsed. Being at work was bizarre - no one quite knew how to take any of it and most of us just watched CNN and tried to get to grips with the enormity of it all. At some point our CEO sent out a really weird email that was an attempt at a combination of empathy and "get back to work, sissies!". He said something to the effect that if we didn't ship our games on time, the terrorist win. I have always credited him on his prescience if not his ability to run a successful software development organization.

The following sunday I went to church for the first time in 5 years. Unsuprising for a Unitarian service we performed, among other rituals, an Islamic prayer for peace. What was suprising was hearing coded calls for war, along with a littl fire and brimstone, coming from a Unitarian minister: "We should pray for peace, and we should pray for tolerance, but we should also not forget the bravery of the fire fighters and honor that bravery with our demands that those who did this meet with God's swift and undeniable Justice!" "If this is what Unitarians in San Francisco are preaching," I thought, "I don't even want to know what Pat Robertson is saying." Later I did find out what he said. Why he and Falwell aren't trash collectors as a result of those statments is still a source of confusion for me.

That day I also started sorting through the political ramifications of the event and, even before Hitchens, I made my private break with the "far left". "No more Chomsky and Vidal", I said to myself, "if it's the subtle tyranny of global markets or the abject tyranny of worldwide fanatical Islam, I'll take markets. And if the US needs to maintain some sort of military hegemony, well, that is a price worth paying in the short term." Seeing the knee-jerk peace protests made me more sure of my decision. Contrasting the farce of the 2000 election with the very serious events of 9/11, it seemed to me that what we needed then was a serious politics that, while critical of our foreign policy, needed to take a full accounting of how we could behave in the world. I looked forward to a discussion of how best to ensure civil liberties at home while protectinng our country from this threat. None of my usual guideposts seemed relevent; they simply operated on auto-pilot.

Instead, we got even more of a farce. In an event that to this day I maintain was completely staged, Bush - demonstrating his talent for empty symbolism - stood on the rubble of the towers and promised vengence. The usual suspects on cable news offered either empty platitudes or witless war-mongering. Sides were being drawn up, and it was all insanity. Crazed vengence and even crazier internal security measures were the order of the day.

It's become a grotesque cliche' that 9/11 changed everything. This is true, but not in the way people think. 9/11 made the hot-heads hotter, the gasbags gassier, and the country a worse place to live. People who would serve the country better as janitors took center stage in our debates. Instead of becoming more serious, we have become more reactionary. Unthinking jingoism and an acceptable racism have become the norm. Certain people think that half the country ought to be imprisioned or sent away. In short, things no red blooded American ought to stand for have become the expected.

But on another level, 9/11 didn't change a damn thing. Everything done in the name of 9/11 was on the table before 9/11. The administration has no interest in the needs of the populace - they just want us pliant so they can implement more and more measures designed to enrich a select few. The only change since 9/11 is our willingness to be more pliant. We've allowed ourselves to become prisoners of a new Animal Farm, where we celebrate "freedom" by marching in heavily regulated events. Instead of demanding competence from our leaders, we demand that those who point out that incompetence be shut up. We demand defference to a leader who, time and again, has shown he doesn't deserve anything but scorn - not for being "stupid", but for doing a crappy job.

This is all old news four years later. Luckily I'm an optimist, and I think the American people know when we've been had. Some of us just take a little longer to get there than others.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four years later

Manhattan is just to the right of the rest of America.

Not politically, but geographically.

Today, the New York Times published a short Spalding Gray essay in which he remarks, "I...came to Manhattan, that island off the coast of America..."

Sometimes I forget this. It's an island off the coast of America, like Bermuda or, if we can stretch it a bit, Hawaii.

I realized late this morning that today is September 11. I realized this as I walked under the clear, cool, sunny blue sky that exists no longer as the stage upon which summer takes its bow, but as the portentous, ironic lede that precedes every printed reflection of the defining tragedy of our cascading empire.

As I walked down 116th Street in East Harlem to a diner for breakfast, I did not see any American flags. Back in Hampden, my atavistically patriotic neighborhood in Baltimore, the only place you won't see a flag is the inside of your eyelids. There is not one place you can stand where a breeze is not accompanied by the fluttering of a flag. Hampden supports our troops. Manhattan grieves.

Manhattan is not just an island. It is an island of a million islands, islands surrounded not by water but by iPod earbuds, pipe dreams, and honking horns. It is the longest ladder in the world, with Donald Trump stretching for the top rung and thousands of immigrants knocking each other off the bottom rung. It is an island of striving, ambitious individuals who have managed, if only because they are stacked on top of one another like Legos, to preserve the unquantifiable web of social ties that make a place truly civilized.

Before coming here, I thought, "I'll never be a New Yorker." I'm just passing through, you know? The "real New York" is not here anymore, people say every couple of years, the way college seniors and recent graduates complain that younger students don't know how to have fun anymore. Plus, arriving here 4 years after 9/11, I feel like I'm stepping on the toes of ghosts.

But New York demands your attention like a puppy--a Great Dane puppy. I'm losing touch with my true home, and my home away from home is now under several feet of toxic sludge. I am still a Baltimoron, but this "third-rate Babylon" feels more and more like home everyday.

Warning: Contains Flattery of David Brooks

David Brooks is on a roll. Today, he presents the official New Orleans evacuation plan, which in theory is perfect, but was bungled by all levels of government.

For the brutal fact is, government tends toward bureaucracy, which means elaborate paper flow but ineffective action. Liberals who think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America's faith in big government.

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area," said Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish. "And bureaucracy needs to stand trial before Congress." Well, who's complicit in that crime? Certainly he doesn't exempt himself?

I don't know why bureaucracy isn't taught in every high school social studies class. You can't teach democracy without teaching bureaucracy. Max Weber should be part of the core curriculum in any social studies class. But I'm not surprised he's not; best to keep the proles docile, because we know what's best, right?

"Every bureaucracy seeks to increase the superiority of the professionally informed by keeping their knowledge and intentions secret. Bureaucratic administration always tends to be an administration of 'secret sessions': in so far as it can, it hides its knowledge and action from criticism." - Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 1922

Friday, September 09, 2005

Cronyism, Incompetence, Are We Suprised?

This story from Time is making the rounds. I wish I could muster an "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?" about it, but I can't. It is entirely unsuprising that Bush, in the interest of political cronyism, gave a high priority job to an unqualified and incompetent resume padder. This is exactly what happens when people who have no interest in a functioning government get into power. It is their habit, as with most politicians, to reward their allies with patronage jobs. What makes the Bush Administration such gross offenders is their willingness to hand out jobs that matter.

What is somewhat depressing is that we're finding out about it now, rather than, say, when he was nominated for the effin' position. Couldn't the blog triumphalists, like say, oh, Sullivan or Malkin - two conservatives who are now calling for the firing of Brown - use their superior wits and internet-granted powers to ferret out and publish this information before disaster struck?

Solid Public Citizens

When NPR announced today that a hurricane relief bill for survivors of Katrina had passed 97-0 in the Senate and 410-11 in the house, I wondered to myself, "Who are those eleven people -the only eleven people in the WHOLE GOVERNMENT - who would vote against relief for people dying of the biggest natural disaster we've seen in ages? They must Hate America. "

Lucky for me there's a thing called the Congressional Record to answer the question. Those eleven are:

Joe Barton (R-TX)
Jeff Flake (R-Z)
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Scott Garrett (R -NJ)
John Hostettler (R -IN)
Steve King (R-IA)
C.L."Butch" Otter (R - ID)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
F. James Sensenbrenner (R - WI)
Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
Lynn Westmorland (R-GA)

What were they thinking? I don't know. Drop 'em a line and report back here.

My New Favorite Meme: Friday Random Ten

Just like last week. Put your device/player on shuffle, post the first 10 that come up.

  1. Mission of Burma - Dead Pool

  2. House of Love - Destroy The Heart

  3. This Heat - The Fall of Saigon

  4. The Dead C - Baseheart

  5. Link Wray - Ace of Spades

  6. Poster Children - If You See Kay

  7. Desmond Dekker and the Aces - Bongo Gal

  8. Hockey Night - This Peaceful Year

  9. Don Caballero - Slice Where You Live

  10. Black Flag - Revenge

My player (winamp) clearly loves the Hosue of Love - second week in a row they were number 2. Weird.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

They're Coming to Make You Go Gay Hey Hey

Or, "Let's just stab that stupid talking point in the throat, shall we?" It's excellent news that the California Legislature has decided CA should enter the realm of the human. But the talking point against it is already out of the closet, as you can hear here. Yes, the old "destroy the sanctity of marriage" canard is with us once again. To which I respond: If your marriage is so weak that it cannot withstand people outside of your relationship getting married then you had no business being married in the first place. As a corollary, if your god is not enough to guarantee the sanctity of your marriage, that is not the state's - or anyone else's - problem.

Circularity and Self-Plug

My first batch of reviews for the Mobtown Shank e-zine are up at their blog.

Now THAT's Less Bull!

Today the Moose says something I totally agree with. Actually, I would go further, and I did. Yesterday morning I got a few laughs at the dog park when, in the heat of conversation about NOLA, I blurted out "You know I am so sick and tired of everyone treating this President like he's a retarded child. We're all supposed to be so happy and proud he didn't accidently order a nuclear strike on NOLA. I swear, it's like he's the Most Special President or something. I guess it's good he has at least two other previous Presidents to help him."

Update: And then Laura Rozen says something like it too.

This Is CCCP

We keep saying this administration is more like the old Soviet than anything American. BoP agrees, pointing us to this, where we learn that Tom Delay is more concerned with his and Shrubya's image than with fixing the governments policy on handling disasters. Then there's this via Brad DeLong, where we hear yet again about the firefighters being used as a prop for a photo-op(also noted in comments by JDNOF below). It can only be a matter of time before we see pictures of Cheney swimming in a river somewhere.

These are not the actions of people interested in governing a republic. These are the actions of people desperate to hold on to power, and who know the best way to do it is to attempt to manage perception. If you supported these people in the name of freedom or safety you have been conned on both counts.

Update: Mark Schmitt offers a solemn hope I think many of us share.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Don't Play Politics

In the calculus of the RUFNKM universe, politics is preferable to bloodshed, but competent people doing their jobs is preferable to both. Then there are the things that make you ask "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?"

Friday, September 02, 2005

Infected by Meme: Friday Random Ten

Put your device/player on shuffle, log the first ten that come up:

  1. Sleeprs - Zenith/Theory

  2. House of Love - Plastic

  3. Blow Monkeys - Ressurection Love

  4. Rolling Stones - Get Off of My Cloud

  5. Wire - From The Nursery

  6. Telescopes - Suicide

  7. Harmonia - Watussi

  8. Killing Joke - Exit

  9. Laikia - Let Me Sleep

  10. Petula Clark - My Love

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Demand Action

As perSKBubba via Digby it seems pretty clear it would be a good thing to call your congressperson and demand some action on the part of the Feds in NO. I'm normally very cynical about this sort of thing, but if it has a chance of making a difference, then the 5 minutes it'll take is a good 5 minutes.

For convinience for our neighbors, here's Cardin's info:
Benjamin L. Cardin
Maryland-3rd, Democrat
Phone: (202) 225-4016

What's The Matter With Louisiana?

This post at Democracy Arsenal has me shaking my fist. No, it's not a "Blame W for the disaster" post. It's a bit more subtle than that. It points out the total failure of the extreme-tax-cuts/"let the market handle it" ideology when it comes to disasters of this scale. To make a sick pun, in this case a rising tide didn't lift any boats; it drowned an entire region. Situations like this are exactly what a "big government" is for.

Update: Today is another day when The Moose needs to start grazing in the field of reality. Instead of asking for, you know, some competent crisis managment, he bemoans the lack of a "Giuliani-type figure". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? He's saying, in essence, that instead of capable people managing the crisis, what we really need is good symbolic TV presence. Yeah, that'll help. To be fair, later in the post he does make at least a little effort at some policy proposals. But basically his suggestion is something that a competent congress should be doing all the effin' time.

Fair and Balanced Update: There are also other lefty blogs making some sort of "failure of leadership" point, and those are just as lame. We have a failure of policy. Leadership is effin' secondary.


The War on Stupidity

Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. A baby dies of herpes in New York because an Orthodox rabbi refuses to abandon the 5,000-year-old practice of sucking the blood out of a baby’s penis after circumcision, a practice which inevitably communicates herpes from the sucker to the suckee. And extremist Muslims are still plotting murderous attacks within our own borders.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

The director of the FDA's office of women's health quits over the politicization of the morning-after pill. Pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions based on religion.

Don't even get me started on "intelligent design."

And that's just religion.

It's also time for a renewed focus on race and class. Even David Brooks can see what's really going on in New Orleans. Some hot-headed racists, as evidenced by their stomach-turning tirades on the Times-Picayune discussion boards, can't. Are there people down there freeloading, acting like animals? Yes. Are there people in Hampden doing the same thing? Yes.

Here's where the racists bring out statistics. "Look," they say, holding up a statistic about welfare or crime, "it's more prevalent among blacks." But what is the hypothesis that requires that kind of statistic? That blacks are naturally inferior? You'll have to do better than one measly statistic.

Oh, you have an entire book, you say? Sorry, that won't do.

Time to launch an assault that I and my cabal at the Project for a New American Mentality have been planning since 1997: a War on Stupidity, (aka, The Global Struggle Against Unrepentant Philistinism). We won't need a war on drugs, terrorism, or any other inanimate objects or abstract nouns once we win this one.


Someone get me a coffee.

Update: Weldon Berger is discussing this, too. Link via Eschaton.