Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Contacting Your Elected Officials

I call and write my elected officials on a regular basis. It is my opportunity to let my opinions be known. My representatives have told me they appreciate calls and letters, because it lets them know the positions of their constituents.

Recently (OK, yesterday), I decided to go off on a member of the United States House of Representatives from the Second District of Ohio and the Junior Senator from the State of New York.

Rep. Jean Schmidt is the congresswoman who stood on the floor of the House and called Rep. Jack Murtha a coward. I wrote about Murtha recently.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sent me an email letter criticizing the current Administration's position on the War in Iraq. I was offended by her missive because she has supported and continues to support the phoney war on terrorism and the Bush War in Iraq. She has voted with the Neo-Cons on every important vote and has done nothing for her constituency.

I decided to share these letters with you and I hope they make you chuckle as much as I chuckled while writing them!

This to Rep. Schmidt:
Re: Bravo!

Dear Representative Schmidt:

It is encouraging to know that there are women in America willing to stand behind the President and take the lead in defending the greatness of America, our military, our war against terrorism, and our sincere desire to spread democracy throughout the developing world.

It is truly impressive that you would speak from the floor of the House and tell the truth about Jack Murtha: anyone who served his country in the military for 37 years and then has the audacity to speak-out against our President's War in Iraq must indeed be a coward.

It takes guts for you to hold fast to the party line and deliver strong words against the cowardice of America-hating liberals like Murtha and the other Democrats trying to destroy our God-given mission to make America safe for free-enterprise and profit, irrespective of its impact on our liberty.

Liberty is for liberals. If more women were true patriots like you, we wouldn't need to protect our liberties so rigidly. Liberty is for thinking people, and God knows that no true patriot is a free-thinker or would use their skills as a sentient being to draw any conclusion that conflicts with the movement now taking such dramatic hold of America.

America needs more women like Jean Schmidt. Women who will stand up and call a veteran a coward. A woman who will toe the party-line. A woman who uses her brain for self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. You are a true American woman in the mold God intend all women to be.

Thank you for your spine. It is doing a grand job holding-up your head!

Best regards,
(Dick Mac)

This to Sen. Clinton:
November 29, 2005

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Senate
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Clinton:

I have been a supporter of you and your husband for many years.

Your continued support for the immoral war in Iraq proves to me that you are unfit for any service to America that includes protecting our safety.

Your short-sightedness makes it painfully clear that you are in no position to criticize the current American President. You are cut from the same cloth and your further involvement in our government will be a detriment to every American of every political stripe.

Unlike you, I do not expect the President to take responsibility for his decisions. I also think that if you were in that office, you would take the same self-serving, self-aggrandizing position that the current American president has taken.

You talk about your alleged "outrage" with the Administration. Oddly, I only hear that you do not support withdrawal of the troops at this time. I am more outraged at your positions than the Administration's position. You are supposed to be a forward-thinking liberal. You could not be further from that. You are barely a Democrat! You are an embarrassment to thinking people everywhere!

The bullet-points you proffer in this correspondence is so much pablam that you can't actually believe that New York Democrats believe this!

And this: "Criticism of this Administration's policies should not in any way be confused with softness against terrorists, inadequate support for democracy or lack of patriotism." Softness against terrorists? Islamic terrorism is supported by Saudi Arabia, its royal family, and many wealthy Saudis with whom you and your husband do private business! You have no intention of going after the terrorists at any level. You are happy to make millions through these sheiks and you will break bread with people like the Bushes and the Kissingers and the Saudi royal family and spoon feed lies about your position on terrorism to your constituents.

On top of that, you have done NOTHING for the non-corporate citizens of New York since becoming the junior senator. NOTHING!

Your refusal to use your spine for something besides holding up your head is deeply disheartening to me.

Being a patriot, a liberal and a Democrat, I could never in good conscience support you for election to any public office in the United States.

Please retire to the board of directors of some military contractor or corporate farming concern, where you can reach your true goals more quickly. Just stop destroying what is left of our once-great nation!

(Dick Mac)
Boy, oh boy, it was fun to write those letters! Sure, they may not make much sense; but, it's fun to rip into rich people!

Contact your elected officials. Give them a piece of your mind! (Most of us have plenty to spare!)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Dictionary of Republicanisms" at The Nation

The Nation magazine is one of our country's last voices of independent journalistic thought. If you are not a subscriber, please consider signing-up for home delivery. Subscribe to The Nation.

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes:
Over the past few decades, the radical right has engaged in a well-funded, self-conscious program of Orwellian doublespeak, transforming the American political discourse to suit its ends. Think tanks like the Cato Institute routinely market phrases for their political resonance, like "personal" vs. "private" accounts. Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, lexicographer and MSNBC pundit who combines Madison Avenue techniques with K Street connections, sends out regular missives informing Republican operatives and politicians on how to spin conservative policy proposals. (He was on The Daily Show demonstrating his talents, defining "manipulation" as "explanation and education.") Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that "weapons of mass destruction" was agreed upon as the reason to go to war with Iraq because it was the most salable rationale. And we all know how that turned out. . . .
The Nation is building a new dictionary, and this is currently my favorite entry:
democracy n. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted.
Read more at The Nation.

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Subscribe to The Nation

Monday, November 28, 2005

"George, where did it all go wrong?"

When I was introduced to soccer in the late 1960s, there were only two names a Boston kid from the projects needed to know: Pele and George Best.

Pele was God's gift to professional athleticism and George Best was . . .

. . . The Fifth Beatle, The Joe Namath of Soccer, a fashion designer, a jet-setter. he was an international icon of all that was fun!

Best was remarkably successful at a very young age, and he lived his life not to the fullest, but over-the-top. And so he has died young. Fifty-nine years old.

While I was living in London, Best was arrested for spousal abuse, sex with a minor, and checked-in to a rehab clinic. I lived in London only for a year! I don't know how often these things had happened previously, but I got the impression it was not the first time.

Dead at fifty-nine. Sad.

He didn't die from some tragic disease. He died from a curable disease. He didn't die in some tragic accident, he died at his own hand.

Georgie Best drank himself to death. He went from being the greatest footballer in England, having won all that he could win, to being a sad, bloated, violent, sickly, abusive bastard.

Best regularly told the story of how a room service waiter found him in bed with a stunning Miss Universe with thousands of pounds (dollars) in bills scattered around the room.

"George, where did it all go wrong?" the man reportedly remarked.

Thank you, Georgie, for all the entertainment! May you rest in peace.

Media pay tribute to George Best
By Ken Ferris

LONDON (Reuters) - British newspapers paid tribute to former Manchester United great George Best on Saturday as they offered their last respects to a footballing genius.

The Sun newspaper ran a front page headline saying: 'Biggest Funeral Since Di" as they claimed half a million people would line the streets of his home city of Belfast next Friday.

"The outpouring of grief will be the biggest since more than a million people lined the streets of London in 1997 for (the funeral of Princess) Diana," said the tabloid.

He will be buried alongside the grave of his mother Ann.

Most papers focused on his amazing skills on the pitch with The Guardian front page showing a picture of a dapper Best in 1966 and the headline "Life's game, as played by George Best."

"The way Best played football was certainly the stuff that dreams are made of... Tales of his deeds on the football pitch will endure as long as the game is played in these islands."

Best died on Friday in a London hospital of multiple organ failure aged 59 after a lifetime of heavy drinking.

The Daily Express devoted the whole of its back page to a picture framed in black of the long-haired Irishman with the simple dedication: "George Best 1946-2005."

Inside, under the headline "Simply the Best," the paper wrote: "We shall never see his like again, for he had everything. Bestie was as near the perfect player as football ever saw. He wasn't a bad bloke either."

On Saturday, there will be a minute's silence at English league matches as a mark of respect for the Northern Ireland winger and a book of condolence opened at Old Trafford.

Celtic fans will follow the continental tradition by applauding Best for 60 seconds before their match.


"Remember him today at 3pm" read the back page of the Daily Mirror over a picture of Best walking away in his distinctive red Manchester United shirt adorned with the famous number 7.

The tabloid paper quotes England captain and former United midfielder David Beckham saying: "As a Manchester United fan I always saw George Best as a football legend and it was a proud moment for me when I wore the same No7 shirt as him.

"He's one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game and a great person as well."

The Daily Telegraph obituary said: "George Best... was the outstanding British footballer of any generation; the mercurial... forward possessed a genius that bears comparison only with the trio of modern masters, Pele, Johann Cruyff and Diego Maradona."

To that list might be added Portugal's Eusebio, who was on the losing side against Best in the 1968 European Cup final. The Benfica forward said: "George Best was the best player in the world, not just England, and a good friend of mine."

The Times obituary remembered the, "Footballing genius who swapped the beautiful game for the playboy life," while the Daily Mail pleaded: "Do Not Mourn, Celebrate Him."

"To watch George Best play football was to fall in love with the game. This was his legacy: Beyond price," it added.

The Independent's front page headline read: "He Made Football Beautiful," while the paper's leading article summed up his colorful life on and off the pitch:

"...with his extravagance, his indulgence, his addictions, his gambling, his womanizing and his booze, George Best was an Icarus for our times."

Soccer great George Best dies at 59
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - George Best, the dazzling soccer icon of the 1960s and 70s who reveled in a hard-drinking playboy lifestyle, died Friday after decades of alcohol abuse, hospital officials said. He was 59.

The former Manchester United and Northern Ireland star, who had a liver transplant three years ago because of heavy drinking, had been hospitalized since Oct. 1 because of a reaction to the medication he took to control his alcoholism.

"After a long and very valiant fight, Mr George Best died this afternoon in the intensive care unit at Cromwell Hospital," the hospital in London's west said in a statement.

Best's son, Calum, thanked his father's medical team, particularly Prof. Roger Williams and Dr Akeel Alisa.

"Not only have I lost my dad, but we've all lost a wonderful man," Calum Best said. "I'd just like to take the time to thank Professor Williams and Dr Akeel and everybody here at the Cromwell Hospital for doing everything they could do and to all the well-wishers and the fans ... the letters and the flowers and the e-mails, it all means so much to us."

Best's agent, Phil Hughes, said Best would be buried next to his mother, Ann, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Dec. 2.

Manchester United teammate Denis Law, who was at Best's bedside all night, said it was a blessing that Best's suffering came to an end.

"It's an extremely sad day for the Best family," Law said. "It was just a matter of time really. It was not if, it was when that things wouldn't go right.

"In the long run, after knowing him for a long time, it's the best thing that could have happened because he would have been slightly like a vegetable and he wouldn't have liked that. It's awful to say it sometimes but it was a blessing."

Law led the tributes to his former teammate while Prime Minister Tony Blair described him as "probably the most naturally gifted footballer of his generation" and England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said "his ability was an inspiration to everyone who loves football."

Best, who humiliated defenders but frustrated coaches during his wayward career, had been readmitted to intensive care last Friday with a lung infection. He was put on life support Saturday, and his condition deteriorated sharply.

A Manchester United fan lays flowers as a tribute to George Best outside Old Trafford on November 25, 2005 in Manchester, England. (Alex Livesey/Staff / Getty Images)

Best scored 180 goals in 465 appearances over 12 years for Manchester United and helped the Red Devils win the 1968 European Cup. He also played in the North American Soccer League, scoring 54 goals in 139 games for the Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes.

United announced it would open a book of condolence at Old Trafford, and the Premier League said there would be a minute's silence before each game over the weekend. Manchester United plays at West Ham on Sunday and players will wear black armbands.

Best was told never to drink again after his liver transplant in July 2002, but he went back to his old ways and was regularly seen at pubs and bars.

"Unfortunately there is no solution to alcohol, you can't make it go away," Best wrote in a recent update to his second autobiography "Blessed." "Drink is the only opponent I've been unable to beat."

Best, who was born on May 22, 1946, was only 17 when he began baffling defenders with his dribbling skills and thrilling fans by scoring spectacular goals for Manchester United.

Slightly built but with amazing balance and devastating speed, Best would run at defenders and leave them tackling thin air. Sometimes he would humiliate them further by going back to beat them again.

If Best had been born in England, rather than Belfast, he would have been an even bigger star.

He was the standout player for his home country and made 37 international appearances. But Northern Ireland had few other players capable of making an impact in the World Cup or European Championship, and Best never made an appearance in either competition.

Best starred in United's 5-1 win at Benfica's Stadium of Light in 1966, scoring twice in the first 12 minutes, and became known as "El Beatle." He was voted European Player of the Year after the club's Champions Cup triumph over the same Portuguese club at Wembley in 1968.

George Best of Manchester United in action against Fulham at Craven Cottage in London on August 8, 1971. (Staff / Getty Images)

Best retired when he was 27 in 1972 to concentrate on his business ventures, which included night clubs and clothing boutiques, only to come out of retirement three years later, considerably overweight.

Best slimmed down and went to the United States, where he played for the Los Angeles Aztecs. After agreeing to join Fulham in 1976, he walked out on the division two club. FIFA imposed a worldwide ban on Best because he had broken his contract, ruling out a move to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

After the FIFA ban was lifted, Best returned to the United States and had a successful spell with the San Jose Earthquakes. He then moved to Scottish club Hibernian but was fired when he failed to show up for two games because of late night drinking binges.

In 1984, he served two months in jail for drunken driving. In 2004, he was banned from driving for 20 months after another conviction.

In March 2000, Best collapsed from serious liver damage. He was hospitalized with pneumonia in February 2001 and, two months later, had anti-alcohol pellets implanted in his stomach.

Best had a reputation as a wayward drinker and womanizer who couldn't be relied on to keep appointments either as a player, TV soccer analyst or after-dinner speaker.

His colorful private life was frequently splashed in the British press, and he seemed to enjoy the attention.

Best regularly told the story of how a room service waiter found him in bed with a stunning Miss Universe with thousands of pounds (dollars) in bills scattered around the room.

"George, where did it all go wrong?" the man reportedly remarked.

Best was linked to some of the world's most beautiful women. He dated Miss Worlds Marjorie Wallace and Mary Stavin, actresses Annette Andre and Sinead Cusack and singer Lindsay de Paul.

"They say I slept with seven Miss Worlds," he once said. "I didn't. It was only four. I didn't turn up for the other three."

But Best ran into trouble with the taxman, the law and also fellow drunks.

With his career as a player over, one of his lowest points came in January 1983 when Best was hit over the head with a beer glass in a London pub hours after he had appeared at the Bankruptcy Court for failing to pay back taxes.

Just before Christmas the following year, Best was jailed for three months for drunk driving, assaulting a policeman and jumping bail.

In 1990, Best appeared wildly drunk on a live TV show, uttering expletives and embarrassing the host. But, with his second wife, Alex Pursey, standing by him, he contained his drinking enough to make regular appearances on Sky TV's Saturday afternoon soccer program.

But Best's drinking caught up with him again when he was taken seriously ill and rushed to a hospital in west London. Chronic liver damage was diagnosed, and doctors told him that even one more glass of wine could kill him.

In the hospital for a month, Best promised his wife he wouldn't drink again. It was one more promise he couldn't keep.

In April 2004, Alex Best was granted a divorce after nine years of marriage on grounds of her husband's adultery. Calum was born from Best's four-year marriage to his first wife, Angie.

"I don't think that I ruined what you call talent at all," Best told Italian magazine L'Espresso. "I played for 12 years with Manchester United and I won everything. I couldn't haven't done much more.

"Maybe I could have played football at a certain level for a longer period, but I left for the United States, I stayed there for eight years and had a lot of fun there too. I did everything that I felt like doing. You know, my friend, mine was really a great life."

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Things To Learn From The Movies

1. If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick's Day parade - at any time of the year.

2. All beds have special L-shaped top sheets that reach up to armpit level on a woman but only waist level on the man lying beside her.

3. All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.

4. Once applied, lipstick will never rub off - even while scuba diving.

5. The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.

6. Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

7. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

8. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

9. When paying for a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a note - just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

10. If you lose a hand, it will cause the stump of your arm to grow by 15cm.

11. Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.

12. Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

13. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football stadium.

14. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

15. All single women have a cat.

16. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

17. One man shooting at 20 men has a better chance of killing them all than 20 men firing at one.

18. Creepy music coming from a graveyard should always be closely investigated.

19. Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings - especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.

20. It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involved martial arts - your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessor.

21. During a very emotional confrontation, instead of facing the person you are speaking to, it is customary to stand behind them and talk to their back.

22. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your room will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.

23. Dogs always know who's bad and will naturally bark at them.

24. When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

25. Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their arch-enemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gases, lasers and man eating sharks that will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.

26. Having a job of any kind will make all fathers forget their son's eighth birthday.

27. Many musical instruments - especially wind instruments and accordions - can be played without moving the fingers.

28. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

29. It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

30. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

31. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Thanks to Steve for sending this along.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

On Gratitude

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
- Buddha

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.
- Satchel Paige

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
- Marcel Proust

All found at Wisdom Quotes.

Reprinted without permission.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dick Cheney's Evil Knows No Limits

The November 18, 2005 entry of John Nichols' "The Online Beat" blog at The Nation discusses the reprehensible behavior of Dick Cheney and his henchmen attacking the heroism, patriotism and honor of Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha.

Since their own are turning on them, the White House is pulling no punches in smearing the reputation of everyone who speaks-out against them.

These guys make Richard Nixon look like a patriotic defender of civil liberties and constitutional values.

Now, I am no fan of Rep. Murtha, or any other hawk who supports war just for the sake of supporting war. Whether it's an ass like George Bush or an ass like Hillary Clinton, I think those who are continuing to defend the ill-concieved, idiotic and murderous war in Iraq should be removed from office immediately.

That said, it is a sin that the president's men would smear the reputation of a decorated war hero who is speaking-out against bad policy.
Cheney Picks a Fight With a Marine

When Dick Cheney, a Wyoming congressman who had never served in the military and who had failed during his political career to gain much respect from those who wore the uniform he had worked so hard to avoid putting on during the Vietnam War, was selected in 1989 by former President George Herbert Walker Bush to serve as Secretary of Defense, he had a credibility problem. Lacking in the experience and the connections required to effectively take charge of the Pentagon in turbulent times, he turned to a House colleague, Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha, a decorated combat veteran whose hawkish stances on military matters had made him a favorite of the armed services. "I'm going to need a lot of help," Cheney told Murtha. "I don't know a blankety-blank thing about defense."

Murtha, a retired Marine colonel who earned a chest full of medals during the Vietnam fight and who has often broken with fellow Democrats to back U.S. military interventions abroad -- most notably in Latin America, where Murtha often supported former President Ronald Reagan's controversial policies regarding El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s -- gave that assistance. . . . Read more at The Nation

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Is the Neo-Con Position on Illegal Workers?

When I have conversations with neo-cons (you know, right-wing selfish people whose parents were Democrats) they say they are against illegal immigration and illegal workers. They are CEO-huggers who think that profit is the same as patriotism. I hear them support armed militia to shoot illegals at border crossings. I hear them brag about supporting organizations like oil companies and Wal-Mart; and policies like drilling in the Arctic wilderness and eliminating job protection and benefits for American workers. They say these things will make America a better place.

It takes less than half a brain to know they know nothing of what they speak and are just parroting Reaganites whose lies continue to destroy America!

Over the past two years, Wal-Mart has been busted for employing over 265 illegal workers. Yup! Wal-Mart, the poster-child for the free-market is employing a vulgar number of the same illegals they profess to be opposed to employing!

So Mister and Miss Neo-Con, what IS your position on hiring illegal workers? Are you against illegal workers or not? Is it OK for YOUR side to use illegal workers, but not the OTHER side? If you are against the employment of illegal workers, are you willing to put your money where your mouth is and begin a neo-con boycott of Wal-Mart?

If you neo-cons are really serious about making America a better place and having the courage of your own convictions, then start a Wal-Mart boycott. Stand-up for America, capitalism, and patriotism and force Wal-Mart out of business!

Of course you won't do it, because everyone knows that neo-cons have no interest in anything but themselves. They want to hide behind patriotism and the free-market; but when it becomes inconvenient to stand-up for their convictions, they just sling the mud and call people names.

Spineless neo-cons are beyond dull, and in God's world there is no greater sin than dullness!
100 Arrested at Wal-Mart Construction Site
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer
Fri Nov 18, 4:42 PM ET

Federal immigration agents detained more than 100 workers at a construction site for a new Wal-Mart distribution center, authorities said.

The workers, who Wal-Mart said were employed by a subcontractor and not by the retailing giant, were detained Thursday on suspected immigration violations, said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Marc Raimondi. They were being taken to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers for processing, he said.

More than 50 federal immigration agents, joined by the U.S. Labor Department, Social Security Administration and state police, raided the construction site near Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires said the company would cooperate fully with federal authorities.

"We have written contracts with these subcontractors requiring that they follow all applicable local, state and federal employment laws," he said in a statement.

At least 120 illegal immigrants, most of them from Mexico, were detained, Schuylkill County Sheriff Frank McAndrew said. He said he began investigating the site and contacted federal officials after getting complaints from local tradespeople.

"You've got a situation here where illegal immigrants are coming into Schuylkill County and taking (local union workers') jobs for eight bucks an hour. They are working for poverty wages, and creating unemployment because our skilled tradesmen are out of work," McAndrew said.

In 2003, a raid of 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states led to the arrests of 245 illegal workers. An affidavit claimed a pair of senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants. The retailer agreed to pay $11 million in March to settle the case but denied senior executives knew of the hirings.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush Tries To Open A Door

Click to enlarge
U.S. President George W. Bush reacts as he tries to open a locked door as he leaves a news conference in Beijing November 20, 2005. Washington and Beijing will cooperate towards making the yuan's exchange rate more responsive to market forces of supply and demand, visiting U.S. President George W. Bush said on Sunday. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Thousand Hand Bodhisattva Dance

The site refers to itself as a site for "Funny Pics, Hot Chicks, and Cool Flicks." Not great marketing. Not very appealling to me. Now and then, however, they publish something remarkable. This Thousand Hand Bodhisattva Dance is performed by 21 deaf girls and boys from the China Disabled Peoples Performing Art Troupe.

Thousand Hand Bodhisattva Dance


Thanks to Jordan for sending this along

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Youngest Mayor In America Is Still Attending High School!

Raw Power! An 18-year-old Mayor is a fantastic idea! Let an inexperienced, but bright and hopefully sensible youngster bring new ideas to America!

18-year-old holds on to two-vote lead in Hillsdale mayoral race
November 10, 2005, 12:05 PM

HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) -- An 18-year-old high school student running for mayor held on to a two-vote lead Thursday following an official count by the county Board of Canvassers.

County Clerk Thomas C. Mohr said Michael Sessions had 670 votes to Mayor Doug Ingles' 668.

Earlier unofficial figures had shown Sessions with a 64-vote lead over the 51-year-old incumbent.

Several votes for Sessions, a write-in candidate, were disqualified because they were cast for candidates not registered to run or for candidates running for other races, the Hillsdale Daily News reported.

Mohr said the two-vote lead will stand unless the count is challenged. It would make Sessions the youngest mayor in the history of Hillsdale, which has a population of 8,200.

Ingles has until 5 p.m. EST Wednesday to ask for a recount.

Sessions used $700 from a summer job to fund his race, putting up signs throughout the city and campaigning door-to-door.

Copyright © 2005 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Reprinted without permission

Also see: BIG CHANGE IN A SMALL TOWN: Still in high school, teen is Hillsdale's new mayor

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hearing Confession

Father O'Malley, the new priest, is nervous about hearing confessions, so he asks an older priest to listen-in during his first few experiences.

The new priest hears a few confessions, and the older priest asks him to step out of the confessional for a few suggestions.

The old priest suggests, "Try crossing you arms over your chest, and rubbing your chin with one hand."

The new priest tries this.

The old priest suggests, "Try saying, 'I see, yes, go on, I understand, and how did you feel about that?'"

The new priest says those things.

The old priest says, "Now, don't you think that's a little better than slapping your knee and saying 'No shit! What happened next?'"

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies"

Originally published by Harpers in October, 2003, it has been reprinted this month online. The article is a collection of direct quotes from members of the Bush administration regarding the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

Revision Thing
A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2005. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity. Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2003. By Sam Smith.

Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.

It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.

The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was, absolutely. His regime had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox. Our conservative estimate was that Iraq then had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. That was enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. We had sources that told us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator told the world he did not have. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the orders were given. There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.

Iraq possessed ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles--far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations. We also discovered through intelligence that Iraq had a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We were concerned that Iraq was exploring ways of using UAVs for missions targeting the United States.

* * *

Saddam Hussein was determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. We knew he'd been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believed he had, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. The British government learned that Saddam Hussein had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources told us that he had attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear-weapons production. When the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied-finally denied access, a report came out of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I didn't know what more evidence we needed.

Facing clear evidence of peril, we could not wait for the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. The Iraqi dictator could not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Inspections would not work. We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. The burden was on those people who thought he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they were.

We waged a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we fought it, and we prevailed. We fought them and imposed our will on them and we captured or, if necessary, killed them until we had imposed law and order. The Iraqi people were well on their way to freedom. The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad were breathtaking. Watching them, one could not help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

It was entirely possible that in Iraq you had the most pro-American population that could be found anywhere in the Arab world. If you were looking for a historical analogy, it was probably closer to post-liberation France. We had the overwhelming support of the Iraqi people. Once we won, we got great support from everywhere.

The people of Iraq knew that every effort was made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule. And plans were in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies. The U.S. devoted unprecedented attention to humanitarian relief and the prevention of excessive damage to infrastructure and to unnecessary casualties.

The United States approached its postwar work with a two-part resolve: a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave. The United States had no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belonged to the Iraqi people. We have never been a colonial power. We do not leave behind occupying armies. We leave behind constitutions and parliaments. We don't take our force and go around the world and try to take other people's real estate or other people's resources, their oil. We never have and we never will.

The United States was not interested in the oil in that region. We were intent on ensuring that Iraq's oil resources remained under national Iraqi control, with the proceeds made available to support Iraqis in all parts of the country. The oil fields belonged to the people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, all of Iraq. We estimated that the potential income to the Iraqi people as a result of their oil could be somewhere in the $20 [billion] to $30 billion a year [range], and obviously, that would be money that would be used for their well-being. In other words, all of Iraq's oil belonged to all the people of Iraq.

* * *

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. And we found more weapons as time went on. I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country. But for those who said we hadn't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they were wrong, we found them. We knew where they were.

We changed the regime of Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people. We didn't want to occupy Iraq. War is a terrible thing. We've tried every other means to achieve objectives without a war because we understood what the price of a war can be and what it is. We sought peace. We strove for peace. Nobody, but nobody, was more reluctant to go to war than President Bush.

It is not right to assume that any current problems in Iraq can be attributed to poor planning. The number of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region dropped as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq. There is a lot of revisionist history now going on, but one thing is certain--he is no longer a threat to the free world, and the people of Iraq are free. There's no doubt in my mind when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

* * *

About the Author
Sam Smith is the author of four books, the latest of which is Why Bother?: Getting a Life in a Locked Down Land. He is the editor of The Progressive Review.

This is Revision Thing, a feature, originally from October 2003, published Monday, November 7, 2005. It is part of Features, which is part of

Reprinted without permission.

This article was recommended at ATTYTOOD

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Visit Scott Bateman

Who is Scott Bateman? Well, according to his FAQ:
I live in Portland, Oregon, where it's probably raining even as we speak.
My editorial cartoons are syndicated to nearly 400 newspapers by King Features. My work has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Dallas Morning News, the San Francisco Examiner, El Pais (Spain's largest daily newspaper), Liberal Opinion Week, Z Magazine and many, many others. I also drew cartoons on Oregon politics for the Eugene, OR Register Guard from 1992 through 1999.
My Flash animations have been featured at,'s Animation Express, and, among others. My webfilm Pierre's Guide To Love was turned into a TV ad for; it aired throughout Europe on MTV Europe (no, really!). My animation The Hair Thing was used as 'virtual art' in MTV's Real World: New Orleans house. My animation work is also featured at Ana Voog's Anacam site.
He looks like this:

even when I am sober.

He makes excellent little animated movies that you have probably seen, and this year he embarked on the Bateman365 project where he publishes a new animation every day at his website. It's even better to go to the archive and watch them in chronological order.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

The Quotable Randi

Randi Rhodes is always worth a listen. Her passion, intelligence, and candor are refreshing. God, she makes me hot!

My current favorite quotes:

"Since when does Jesus side with rich, greedy warmongers?"

"They stole the Jesus! They take away faith and make their version of God a fact."

Tune-in to AirAmerica radio to hear Randi:

On the web,
or on your local radio station.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

The United States' Draconian Approach to Drug Interdiction is a Huge Success

Who are the victims of the drug trade? Is it the addicts? The families of addicts? Crime victims? Law enforcement agencies? Taxpayers? Or is it poverty-stricken children in the countries that provide our recreational substances? Is it all of these? Do you think the homeless children in Medellin, Columbia would choose the life they've gotten in the capital of the cocaine industry? Who knows?

Irrespective of all that messy stuff, some fashion models provided entertainment to the loaded street children of Medellin.
Is this enlarged?
A model parades in front of street children, some of whom are sniffing glue, in the drug-infested 'Barrio Triste' (Sad Neighborhood) in downtown Medellin in Colombia November 7, 2005. The event was organised to entertain the children by a member of a local charity that helps children in Barrio Triste by providing food, clothes and cleaning facilities. REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera Tue Nov 8,11:59 AM ET - Reprinted without permission.

Original link

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Enjoy The Leak!

I am tired of hearing about leaks. Political leaks. Media leaks. The leaking of names. The leaking of levees. Especially the leaking of my roof and windows.

Let's talk real leaks!

Click to enlarge (if only it were so simple)!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Surprise! The US Military Does Not Torture Prisoners!

This is not torture
It was a relief to read that the United States does not torture prisoners. I had been embarrassed by photos depicting abuse of prisoners in Iraq, and news stories of soldiers being convicted of abusing prisoners. It is nice to know that my military was not torturing these men.

The President has announced in Panama that the US military does not participate in torture. Whew! What a relief!

This is not torture

It is also a relief that the president is so certain that the US military does not participate in torture that his vice-president is campaigning to have the CIA exempted from any laws the American people might pass regarding torture. Whew! Here I thought we were going to take a strong moral position as a nation; I was mistaken. No such laws will be passed unless those assigned to provide torture services, but aren't providing torture services, will be exempt from any law of the land that proscribes torture services, even though they do not provide torture services anyhow.


Here is some Yahoo!:

Bush Declares: 'We Do Not Torture'
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 10 minutes ago

President Bush on Monday defended U.S. interrogation practices and called the treatment of terrorism suspects lawful. "We do not torture," Bush declared in response to reports of secret CIA prisons overseas.

Bush supported an effort spearheaded by Vice President Dick Cheney to block or modify a proposed Senate-passed ban on torture.

"We're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible, more possible, to do our job," Bush said. "There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet we will aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law."

Cheney is seeking to persuade Congress to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency from the proposed torture ban if one is passed by both chambers.

Bush spoke at a news conference with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a challenge to the administration's military tribunals for foreign terror suspects.

In a case entailing a major test of the government's wartime powers, justices will decide whether Osama bin Laden's former driver can be tried for war crimes before military officers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, U.S. military forces have held hundreds of suspects at known installations outside the United States, including at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced that five additional terror suspects at Guantanamo will face military trials on various charges including attacking civilians and murder. That brought to nine out of about 500 detainees at the facility who have been charged with criminal offenses.

Bush was asked about reports that the CIA was separately maintaining secret prisons in eastern Europe and Asia to interrogate al-Qaida suspects — and demands by the International Red Cross for access to them.

Without confirming or denying the existence of such prisons, Bush said, "Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people."

He pointedly noted that Congress shares that responsibility with the administration.

"We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do ... to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture," Bush said.

The European Union is investigating reports of the CIA prisons. The story was first reported by The Washington Post.

In Washington, Senate Democrats pressed for the creation of an independent commission to investigate detainee abuse. They hope to attach the proposal to a defense bill the Senate is considering this week.

"We need a 9/11-type commission to restore credibility to this nation," said Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., called the commission unnecessary. "Responsibility and accountability have been assessed," Warner said, echoing Pentagon arguments that it had already done a dozen major investigations into prisoner-abuse allegations.

But Levin said there are areas that have not been reviewed, such as the CIA's interrogation of prisoners, the exporting of prisoners to countries that engage in torture, and the role contractors play in interrogations.

Separately, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said Bush's comments in Panama, combined with Cheney's efforts to exempt the CIA from the torture ban, "only demonstrate that the White House learned nothing from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."

"This administration has consistently sought legal justifications for harsh techniques," Kennedy said.

The United States drew worldwide condemnation after photographs circulated showing guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad mistreating and humiliating prisoners.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Burt Who?

I have never thought of Burt Bacharach as having opinions about anything besides love and broken hearts. I am impressed by his most recent project and look forward to hearing the results.

Penning lyrics for 1st time, Bacharach gets topical
By Jim Bessman
Sun Nov 6,11:34 PM ET

Bacharach and ... Bacharach?

It's true. The celebrated composer, whose surname is usually paired with Hal David's, has -- for the first time in six decades of writing love songs -- penned his own lyrics.

And Burt Bacharach has a lot to say on his new Columbia album, "At This Time," which came out November 1.

"The reason I came up with the album title is because at this time in my life, I basically think we're all screwed!" says the usually soft-spoken composer. The lyrics reflect his grave concerns with the state of the world -- lead track "Please Explain" invokes his classic "What the World Needs Now Is Love" -- and especially the United States.

"It taps into so many areas," he says, singling out "people who aren't being truthful." In "Who Are These People?," they are clearly those people in power. "This is coming from a guy who's written love songs all his life!" he adds. "I've never rocked the boat, never been political. But there's no other way: I had to speak my heart with my music and words, too."

For assistance, Bacharach turned to lyricist Tonio K., with whom he wrote eight songs for the new project.

He did not call on the "brilliant" David, with whom he has written such pop standards as "The Look of Love," because, in part, "I (did not) know where he stood on some of the issues."

In addition to shaking up the lyrical content, he also rethought the musical elements. "I was working with structures that weren't like a normal song," says Bacharach, whose hits have always hewn to sophisticated pop-song formats. The new tunes are quite to the contrary, with "no vocal starting at the top and going to the end."

The album's closing track, "Always Taking Aim," even employs what Bacharach characterizes as "a Greek chorus ... It just turned out to be a different kind of form: instrumental with vocal interjections of key things that were important for me to say."

Also affecting Bacharach's atypical song structures was Dr. Dre, who supplied drum loops for several tracks. Other collaborators include Chris Botti, Rufus Wainwright and Elvis Costello (with whom Bacharach partnered for the 1998 album "Painted From Memory").

"Dre gave me these loops, and as confining and challenging as they are, the sound is extraordinary, and they're a great foundation to work over," Bacharach says.

But he emphasizes that "At This Time" is not "angry music ... I don't know how else to go than to make music that's melodic and beautiful."

"There's always an underlying hope" on the new material, he concludes. "Even at the end, love is always there, 'always taking aim."'


Reprinted without permission.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Now I Know I Can Hold It!

It is unpleasant to be in a public place and realize that I can't hold it until I get home. It's even more disconcerting when I realize that my inability to hold it requires me to sit down.

I am not much of germ-a-phobe. I have an immune system that successfully keeps me alive. Still, when shopping or traveling or attending a public event, I would rather not have to use the public facilities. I would rather hold it.

I've never thought much about why. I probably inherited the attitude from a parent.

Then this article arrived in my Inbox:
Glued to toilet, man sues Home Depot

DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Home Depot was sued by a shopper from a Colorado store who claims he got stuck to a restroom toilet seat because a prankster had smeared it with glue.

Bob Dougherty, 57, accused employees of ignoring his cries for help for about 15 minutes because they thought he was kidding.

"They left me there, going through all that stress," Dougherty told The Daily Camera, of Boulder. "They just let me rot."

The lawsuit, filed Friday, said Dougherty was recovering from heart bypass surgery and thought he was having a heart attack when he got stuck at the store in Louisville, Colorado, on the day before Halloween 2003.

A store employee who heard him calling for help informed the head clerk by radio, but the head clerk "believed it to be a hoax," the lawsuit said.

Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher said she could not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit said store officials called for an ambulance after about 15 minutes.

Paramedics unbolted the toilet seat, and Dougherty, "frightened and humiliated," passed out as they wheeled him out of the store, court papers said. The toilet seat separated from his skin, leaving abrasions.

"This is not Home Depot's fault," Dougherty said. "But I am blaming them for letting me hang in there and just ignoring me."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Now I know I can hold it!

Thanks to Chris for sending this along!

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

What Will Happen to the Gulf Coast?

Nobody knows, of course. Halliburton will get most of the money for reconstruction, and their track-record is not encouraging.

One journalist seems to think a restoration of dysfunction is the only path. Given the current administration's track record, he is probably correct.

This journalist uses the phrase "which is 93% black" while condemning New Orleans' public school system and this exposes the insidiousness of our culture's racism and fear when faced with 'black' cities.

If 'black' cities received state and federal aid, including corporate susidies, at the same rate as cities we think of as 'American' cities, I think America would look very different.

This article appeared in in September, shortly after Hurrican Katrina devestated the Gulf Coast. What follows the article is a letter in response to the hate spewed forth by by Jack Shafer.

All items printed without permission.

Don't Refloat
The case against rebuilding the sunken city of New Orleans.
By Jack Shafer
Posted at Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005, at 3:19 PM ET

What's to rebuild?

Nobody can deny New Orleans' cultural primacy or its historical importance. But before we refloat the sunken city, before we think of spending billions of dollars rebuilding levees that may not hold back the next storm, before we contemplate reconstructing the thousands of homes now disintegrating in the toxic tang of the flood, let's investigate what sort of place Katrina destroyed.

The city's romance is not the reality for most who live there. It's a poor place, with about 27 percent of the population of 484,000 living under the poverty line, and it's a black place, where 67 percent are African-American. In 65 percent of families living in poverty, no husband is present. When you overlap this New York Times map, which illustrates how the hurricane's floodwaters inundated 80 percent of the city, with this demographic map from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which shows where the black population lives, and this one that shows where the poverty cases live, it's transparent whom Katrina hit the hardest.

New Orleans' public schools, which are 93 percent black, have failed their citizens. The state of Louisiana rates 47 percent of New Orleans schools as "Academically Unacceptable" and another 26 percent are under "Academic Warning." About 25 percent of adults have no high-school diploma.

The police inspire so little trust that witnesses often refuse to testify in court. University researchers enlisted the police in an experiment last year, having them fire 700 blank gun rounds in a New Orleans neighborhood one afternoon. Nobody picked up the phone to report the shootings. Little wonder the city's homicide rate stands at 10 times the national average.

This city counts 188,000 occupied dwellings, with about half occupied by renters and half by owners. The housing stock is much older than the national average, with 43 percent built in 1949 or earlier (compared with 22 percent for the United States) and only 11 percent of them built since 1980 (compared with 35 for the United States). As we've observed, many of the flooded homes are modest to Spartan to ramshackle and will have to be demolished if toxic mold or fire don't take them first.

New Orleans puts the "D" into dysfunctional. Only a sadist would insist on resurrecting this concentration of poverty, crime, and deplorable schools. Yet that's what New Orleans' cheerleaders—both natives and beignet-eating tourists—are advocating. They predict that once they drain the water and scrub the city clean, they'll restore New Orleans to its former "glory."

Only one politician, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, dared question the wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans as it was, where it was. On Wednesday, Aug. 31, while meeting with the editorial board of the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., he cited the geographical insanity of rebuilding New Orleans. "That doesn't make sense to me. … And it's a question that certainly we should ask."

"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," Hastert added.

For his candor and wisdom, Hastert was shouted down. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and others interpreted his remarks as evidence of the Republican appetite for destruction when it comes to disaster victims. But if you read the entire interview—reproduced here courtesy of the Daily Herald—you might conclude that Hastert was speaking heresy, but he wasn't saying anything ugly or even Swiftian. Klaus Jacob seconded Hastert yesterday (Sept. 6) in a Washington Post op-ed. A geophysicist by training, he noted that Katrina wasn't even a worst-case scenario. Had the storm passed a little west of New Orleans rather than a little east, the "city would have flooded faster, and the loss of life would have been greater."

Nobody disputes the geographical and oceanographic odds against New Orleans: that the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect breeding ground for hurricanes; that re-engineering the Mississippi River to control flooding has made New Orleans more vulnerable by denying it the deposits of sediment it needs to keep its head above water; that the aggressive extraction of oil and gas from the area has undermined the stability of its land.

"New Orleans naturally wants to be a lake," St. Louis University professor of earth and atmospheric sciences Timothy Kusky told Time this week. "A city should never have been built there in the first place," he said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Why was it? Settlers built the original city on a curve of high flood land that the Mississippi River had deposited over eons, hence the nickname "Crescent City." But starting in the late 1800s and continuing into the early 20th century, developers began clearing and draining swamps behind the crescent, even dumping landfill into Lake Pontchartrain to extend the city.

To chart the aggressive reclamation, compare this map from 1798 with this one from 1908. Many of New Orleans' lower-lying neighborhoods, such as Navarre, the Lower Ninth Ward, Lake Terrace, and Pontchartrain Park, were rescued from the low-lying muck. The Lower Ninth Ward, clobbered by Katrina, started out as a cypress swamp, and by 1950 it was only half developed, according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Even such "high" land as City Park suffered from flooding before the engineers intervened. By the historical standards of the 400-year-old city, many of the heavily flooded neighborhoods are fresh off the boat.

The call to rebuild New Orleans' levee system may be mooted if its evacuated residents decide not to return. The federal government, which runs the flood-insurance business, sold only 85,000 residential and commercial policies—this in a city of 188,000 occupied dwellings. Coverage is limited to $250,000 for building property and $100,000 for personal property. Because the insured can use the money elsewhere, there is no guarantee they'll choose to rebuild in New Orleans, which will remain extra-vulnerable until the levees are rebuilt.

Few uninsured landlords and poor home owners have the wherewithal to rebuild—or the desire. And how many of the city's well-off and wealthy workers—the folks who provide the city's tax base—will return? Will the doctors, lawyers, accountants, and professors have jobs to return to? According to the Wall Street Journal, many businesses are expected to relocate completely. Unless the federal government adopts New Orleans as its ward and pays all its bills for the next 20 years—an unlikely to absurd proposition—the place won't be rebuilt.

Barbara Bush will be denounced as being insensitive and condescending for saying yesterday that many of the evacuees she met in the Astrodome would prefer to stay in Texas. But she probably got it right. The destruction wrought by Katrina may turn out to be "creative destruction," to crib from Joseph Schumpeter, for many of New Orleans' displaced and dispossessed. Unless the government works mightily to reverse migration, a positive side-effect of the uprooting of thousands of lives will to be to deconcentrate one of the worst pockets of ghetto poverty in the United States.

Page One of today's New York Times illustrates better than I can how the economic calculations of individuals battered by Katrina may contribute to the city's ultimate doom:

In her 19 years, all spent living in downtown New Orleans, Chavon Allen had never ventured farther than her bus fare would allow, and that was one trip last year to Baton Rouge. But now that she has seen Houston, she is planning to stay.

"This is a whole new beginning, a whole new start. I mean, why pass up a good opportunity, to go back to something that you know has problems?" asked Ms. Allen, who had been earning $5.15 an hour serving chicken in a Popeyes restaurant.

New Orleans won't disappear overnight, of course. The French Quarter, the Garden District, West Riverside, Black Pearl, and other elevated parts of the city will survive until the ultimate storm takes them out—and maybe even thrive as tourist destinations and places to live the good life. But it would be a mistake to raise the American Atlantis. It's gone.

And the response from Wayne A. Jones:
Dear Mr. Shafer,

This is in response to the following article:

I am a native of New Orleans, born, raised, and educated all the way through law school. Most of my family is from there or from the surrounding parishes. We've been there since the 1760s. My wife's family is from there. Three of my children were born there.

I know the city, in all its glory and splendor, and all of its apathy and squalor. I attended numerous public schools there, from the very best (Franklin and McMain) to some of the worst (Gregory Jr. High, Kennedy High). I love that place like no other, yet hate the way it has so often been neglected and mistreated by its own residents.

Like many young professionals, I left New Orleans to find better pay, better schools, better housing, lower crime. I left the city to itsproblems.

I say all of this in preface, so that you will know that I have some basis for my opinion regarding your article. I don't condemn you for writing it.

Unlike many of my NOLA brethren, I recognize the hard facts of the place, and do not blame others for pointing them out. You have every right to say these things about my city, my homeland.

But I ask you to consider this: why is it that a city that is so beloved by the World, for our culture, our food, our music, our joie de vivre, is so easy to abandon once you've had to look at how things really are? Surely you've visited before. Enjoyed a fine meal at Commander's Palace or Antoine's, perhaps. Maybe gone to Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras. Marveled at how a single place can at the same time be so European, so Caribbean, and so American. You've taken the good, skimmed the cream. Benefited from our largesse of spirit in inviting you there time and again. But I'm willing to bet you never had to look beyond the surface details that we emphasize for you outsiders. Never wondered why the hotels and restaurants can be so cheap compared to other tourist destinations (hint: because nobody doing the grunt work in NOLA's hospitality business makes any money at it).

Never thought about why so many people are willing to shuffle for your amusement, doing little dances, playing instruments in the street.

We are your Jamaica, your Cozumel, your Bermuda, right here in America. We are every tourist's playground, where you go to forget your cares. We are where you go when you need things to be easy for a while. We feed you, amuse you, love you, give you the comfort of a warm bed at night and strong coffee in the morning.

Well, now things aren't easy. Things aren't pleasant.

There's no shucking and jiving now, because the shuckers and jivers are dead or dying, or displaced. We can't give you the illusion and the pretty show you want now. All we can show you is our need, our desperation. We have been laid waste, torn asunder. And what is your response to this? Evacuate the residents, sure. Give them some water and an MRE. Let them have food stamps.

But abandon their homes. Let the city lie fallow. Turn the shotgun shacks into nothing more than another series of raised crypts. Don't waste the time, the money, or the effort in reclaiming what was theirs. They shouldn't have been there in the first place. No sane person would have built a city there. They're corrupt. The schools are disastrous. Crime is high. WHO NEEDS THEM ANYWAY?

You do.

You always have.

You've needed us when escape from your mundane world was the only thingthat would keep you sane and healthy. When you needed to be transported to some otherworldly place where time is slow, meals are savored, music is breath, is life. We have been your spiritual succor for so long, longer than most of the country has existed. Without us, there is no America.

The Mississippi river made this country great. We are the Mississippi. Our music, jazz and blues, is the very cornerstone of all that is original in American music. Our cuisine has fed your presidents, your senators, your captains of industry. We are the salt that has given this country flavor. We are the mistress that America cannot admit out loud that it loves.

You need us. To be America, the real America, you need us. To have the culture that you have, we have to have been there from the start.

But now, now that things are hard, you tell yourself it wasn't worth it. It was a fool's venture. A crazed dream in the middle of a godforsaken swamp. You want to return to your gray flannel life, your insurance tables, your accountant's rationality. You want to be calm, and measured, and dispassionate. Naturally, in doing so, you want to leave our city to rot. We are not of your world, do not share your way of doing things.

The very thing you have always loved, our separateness, is now the thing which leads you to cast us aside.

You have every right to feel as you do, to say what you have said. But we are listening. We who carry the legacy of our dead and dying city are watching. We will remember, not just our homeland and the people and places we have lost, but your words, and your deeds.

Did San Francisco deserve to be rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 1908? Did Chicago deserve rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire? Did Iowa deserve assistance after the 1993 floods, even though they always knew they were on a 500 year flood plain? Was Atlanta worth saving after Sherman's march? None of these places has given you what we have given you. None of them were forsaken in their hour of need. We have loved you from the start. And now you leave us to die in a flood that you swear was our own fault. This is the hour of our despair. But it is also the hour of your shame. May it follow you to the end of your days.

Wayne A. Jones

Thanks to Cheryl for sending this along.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005 says: "Stop Alito!"

I received this yesterday. Please consider taking action:

With his administration growing weaker by the day, President Bush caved to pressure from the radical fringe of the Republican Party and nominated Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Alito is a notoriously right-wing judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He has consistently ruled to strip basic protections from workers, women, minorities and the disabled in favor of unchecked power for corporations and special interests.

Bush's ploy to woo the far-right could reshape the High Court for decades to come—but we don't have to let that happen. Today we're joining the campaign to stop him by aiming to collect 350,000 signatures in 48 hours. Can you help us get there?
For more information, see our action alert.

Please click this link to sign the petition.

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