Thursday, September 29, 2005

Defining the government

Nothing tells you what our legislature is like so much as these two adjacent headlines today:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The blame game

Wow. So it's not enough for Bush to blame Clinton for whatever has gone wrong in the years that Bush has had complete control of the federal government. Now he has to reach back to blame presidents before that, over 30 years?! Well... all I can say is it's a good thing that at least his father was completely flawless, or we might not have a country at this point.

A better way to space

Michael Malone is a corporate reporter, with some of the attendant Wall Street philosophy baggage. But he makes some great points about how we could do a much better job than NASA's next Moon plan. Highlights:

  • Entrepreneurship [...] Better that $104 billion be treated as venture capital money, spurring new ideas and ferocious competition among smart start-ups in the private sector, rather than guarantee GS-12 jobs in Houston.
  • Liberty and Equality [...] If we are going to send a group to the moon and leave them there for a few months, then they should vote in both terrestrial and lunar (and eventually Martian) elections — thus setting the precedent for all time, as the British did at Roanoke and Jamestown, and the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony.
  • Risk - The biggest mistake NASA made in its first half-century was to make space exploration look increasingly benign and the organization itself appear mistake-free.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

9/11 and the Sport of God

At more than 5500 words, it'll take you a while to read. But you should see what Bill Moyers has to say about the decline of America as a haven of conscience.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


My kids had way too much fun this evening with this pair of Hallmark characters.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Planning for death in N.O.

Your government hates you and is trying to cover that up. Now, some are trying to say perhaps this is all a collosal mistake, and after all "The function of bureaucracy is to disguise the origin and nature of a mistake." Jon Carroll is great, and the rest of that column is great; but the destruction of New Orleans is not a mistake; it's intentional:

A person who has no drinkable water will die in three days. The survivors of Hurricane Katrina have been stranded twice that long—and still Brown doesn’t think it’s time to send in aid! With the authorities now threatening to evacuate the city, the only “natural time” he can possibly be waiting for is the point where no one who needed help is still alive in New Orleans. Brown has been actively prohibiting aid to the city. Under his direction, FEMA has repeatedly and unambiguously prevented aid of all kinds from getting into the city. [...]

If you are still truly desperate to keep Bush and his staff from being convicted on "with malice aforethought" circumstances, consider this line making the rounds, a combination of Clarke's Law and an old proverb:

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Which is expanded on here:

It is not necessary to claim that the President of e.g. the USA is setting out to kill a maximum number of African Americans out of deliberate spite. It is sufficient to point out that if you take a job involving life and death, and go on doing it when you are clearly incompetent, then you are morally responsible anyway. There is a duty not to be crap at what you do.

There are thousands of reports (don't believe me? start with this, this, this, this, this, and this) telling how the Bush administration is preventing disaster relief. Prosecutors all over the country have plenty of language for this kind of behavior; the most generous of those is "willful negligence", but "murder" is much more appropriate.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bring your Vaseline

A very fun statement on the price of auto fuel. (requires Flash Player)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quick political disaster notes

Think Progress has an excellent timeline of Hurricane Katrina events.

In the recent completely-evil bankruptcy bill, the Republican Congress explicitly and consciously decided to make things harder, not easier, for those who live through a natural disaster.

Pandagon has kindly categorized the various right-wing reactions to the death and suffering along the Gulf.

The Republican hobgoblin

The California Legislature has passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. That's terrific, but it's just a small and symbolic step, because Governor Schwarzenegger is sure to veto it.

California courts are currently hearing appeals on the question of whether it's constitutional to limit marriage to mixed-sex couples. And here's the kicker: in a day and age when every other Republican on the planet is ranting about courts making decisions, Schwarzenegger doesn't want elected representatives weighing in on this! His press secretary said, "The governor believes the courts are the correct venue for this decision to be made."

He doesn't want mayors to make this move; he doesn't want people elected to the Assembly and Senate to take action on this. I don't remember Arnold being so opposed to democratic processes when it involved his chance to move into the governor's office!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The real world

If you haven't been over to Orcinus lately, you must stop by and read his account of kayaking with orcas and dolphins.

Deferring to my betters

I'm going to stop venting about the Republican government's incompetence with Katrina, because TBogg has it all covered. He has the details and the summary analysis:

Lest we forget those other Americans that are dying on George Bush's watch, we are currently at 1887 dead in Operation Inigo Montoya.

Let's see: over three thousand dead on 9/11 plus 1887 dead in Iraq plus possibly 10,000+ dead on the Gulf Coast that adds up to....

Too damn many.

...and only three more years to go.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The first rule of the social fabric

We can only hope that most Americans see Katrina the way that David Brooks does: "The first rule of the social fabric - that in times of crisis you protect the vulnerable - was trampled. Leaving the poor in New Orleans was the moral equivalent of leaving the injured on the battlefield."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Stirling Newberry for president

On the topic of New Orleans, Newberry has posted the must-read item of the summer: The speech that will never be given.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Oily character

Quite right that Bush would be more in the way in New Orleans than any help; quite right that he's so inept in unscripted events that he would harm his prospects by rushing off there or to D.C. Sitting on his hiney after the fact might have been a good idea. That doesn't mean that he didn't make any mistakes.

The key mistakes here (and Bush errors are legion) are Bush taking more vacation time than any president since Coolidge and being more of a stubborn jackass than any since LBJ. Eventually, a majority of Americans will stop forgiving him for these things, and Katrina simply accelerates that date by shining a hot spotlight on both (the latter in the fact that he actually had more to say about looting than about the sorrow).

Look, he's a loser who happened to have enough money to buy a win. Fine; settled. It's the repeated demonstration of this fact that is annoying the hell out of me. Did he really have to open his trap and say, "I don't think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees"?

Finally: when I saw Oil Storm on the FX channel a few weeks ago, I thought, damn straight—that's the path we're headed down. Folks, we just reached the first landmark on that path.