Friday, September 30, 2005



Apparently George W. Bush's idea of diplomacy is to take a woman who has nothing in common with the unconvinced and name her undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. (Which seems more or less like a euphemism for "propaganda," but then, this nation needs some world-friendly PR, so I'll not complain about that too much.)

Karen Hughes -- you may remember her as the GOP version of Janet Reno, only nastier and with less of a sense of humor -- has apparently been touring the Muslim world to make them like us, God bless it.

Of course, that's exactly the problem. When she tells Muslims that George W. Bush is a man of God, what are the odds that her audience doesn't think of the Crusades? When she barges in without bothering to learn some of the language or customs of the people whom she's trying to sway to the American way of thought, is she really doing Americans a favor?

I contend she is not.

I'm sure there are others out there, but back in my college days, I remember taking an international business class from one Dr. Grub, who, above all, burned in our little business student brains that the best way to conduct business overseas is to understand the people with whom you're trying to do business.

Why should politics be any different?

The answer, sadly, is that to George W. Bush and his cadre of C students, politics is all about Christianity.

Fred Kaplan's Slate article on Hughes.

Steven R. Weisman article on the Hughes trip from the New York Times.

Friday, September 23, 2005



In all I had seen about Hurricane Katrina, I had not seen this video by Aaron Brown for CNN. I ran across it today, as I was following links about today's levee break, which is flooding the Ninth Ward of New Orleans all over again.

I'm just at a loss over the scope of the disaster this hurricane season. As Rita aims again toward Louisiana (though Texas will bear its brunt, the water is bound to cause problems in Louisiana, and I heard tornado warnings this morning), it becomes clear that the era of being your college roommate's buddy s not enough of a recommendation for getting a job.

Sadly, many won't see it that way.

Thursday, September 22, 2005



In the 1978 classic film Animal House, as Flounder's brother's car is being pimped out by his fellow Delta delinquents, Flounder fears his brother's reaction to the wholesale carnage being visited upon the vehicle. Otter, as only a frat brother can, reassures Flounder thusly:

"You fucked up. You trusted us."

I was reminded of this great moment in how friends can be uncaring as I read the story from the Baton Rouge Advocate about the Louisiana school buses never used to ferry people out of the destruction following Katrina. I have heard complaints -- including from my cousin, who lives in nearby Metairie -- that the locals proved their incompetence by not having those buses out and ready.

Now, it turns out, FEMA directed them not to use those buses.

This changes the tone of the debate for me. Up until this moment, I was happy to assume that the local governments were incompetent. I have been to Louisiana, and not everybody I've met seems like he'd be likely to get a middle management job at a New York advertising agency.

And perhaps they were. Governor Kathleen Blanco, assured by FEMA that 500 buses were on the way -- air-conditioned buses, unlike the ones already on the ground in the New Orleans area -- believed that they were, and chose to trust the federal government. She has forgotten, of course, that the foxes control the hen house -- the little government people are running the federal government, and they don't believe much in what it is they're heading. (Perhaps this explains why Joe Horse Boy was in charge of disaster response.)

So, Blanco, a Democrat, and theoretically a believer that one good thing government can do is pool resources and solve problems, trusted the government. The result was disaster and death.

It's kind of like when you were a kid and your parents asked you to do something that you didn't want to do. If they asked you to clean the bathroom, but you instead dropped bleach all over the good towels, suddenly you were no longer asked to clean the bathroom. So perhaps the plan was to avoid having to respond to all those annoying emergencies and help all those people who probably hadn't donated to the proper election committees.

Somehow, I don't think that Gov. Blanco -- or any Democrat (or, for that matter, any Republican) -- will make this same mistake twice.

Friday, September 16, 2005



ATTENTION: Link below is for ADULTS ONLY!

So, while looking for something else, and following some links, I stumbled across this. Just goes to show that some people will go to any lengths to do some good in the world.


But... he raised $378.

Monday, September 12, 2005



The New York Times, which I'm sure is read every day in the Crescent City, published this wrap-up of the task ahead. (Registration required; aw, go ahead.)

Salon published this story about a Playboy Club bunny's time in New Orleans in the 1970s. You'll have to watch an ad. Deal with it. Forward courtesy of Harry Broertjes.

The story of the Mississippi physician who was handcuffed by the military simply for expressing an opinion to Vice-President Dick Cheney, using words Cheney himself has uttered.

Saturday, September 10, 2005



I've been out scanning and linking and have decided that it's interesting to read blogs from a specific ethnic point of view and try very hard not to have knee-jerk reactions to them.

Try it yourself. Here are some to consider:

Angry Asian Man

Just to be different...

Thursday, September 08, 2005



In tracking down information on the Internet, I followed the link at Cyphering to the Keith Olbermann timeline of what (and more important, when) the Federal government knew about the likelihood of levee damage. It's here.

From there, I found Crooks and Liars, which offered this link to Boing Boing with some interesting questions about the rosier news today, part of which says that things aren't quite as sunny at the Astrodome as this morning's Today show indicated, and part of which quotes New Orleans suburban residents as saying that the 17th Street Canal was purposely destroyed by someone -- blame is put on Lousiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco or the Army Corps of Engineers -- in order to save the more expensive real estate in New Orleans. I'd take it with tons of salt, considering the common belief outside the west that Jews knew that the World Trade Towers were going to be attacked.

All I know is that it's an insane mess. Still haven't heard from my cousin Jack and godson-in-law Jon, who were going to drive from Destin, FL to Metairie, LA to see what was left of their homes...

Friday, September 02, 2005



My cats made a mess of the litter box. I had to take a hedge clipper to the wisteria and arbor vitae that have grown practically wild in my yard. I had to take a plunger to the toilet. The car door didn't latch the first time. Quality Paperback Book Club hasn't acknowledged my payment. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer left another stupid typo in an article.

And then I read more about what's happening in the Gulf states, and you realize that everybody there would be happy to have to deal with the crap that pissed me off today.

Worse, I keep thinking about people with whom I'm acquainted and hoping they're okay. Even if they're people to whom I haven't spoken in years.

Over at The Blue Chair, Jim Chadwick points out that, despite our amazing civilization, we live on a knife's-edge between extreme modernity and Third World status. How right Jim is. What would you do if your house disappeared in a flood? If there was no electricity for the ATM? If there was no gas for the car? If there were no roads to truck food into your city, no fresh water to drink, and sewage and corpses drifting in your street?

Oh, and, by the way, to those of you in the world who are enjoying this, let us point out that when Banda Aceh nearly disappeared from the face of the planet, nobody here was happy to see those people perishing or struggling. If your world view, your politics, or your religion lets you be happy with the pain and suffering and destruction of others... well, it's the one time I hope that there really is an afterlife anything like the one I was taught about when I was a kid.

I'm going to write a check to the Salvation Army today. I trust you'll write one to someone today, too.


Situation grows more desperate.

"It's like we're in Afghanistan," said Lisa Washington of Algiers, who came to the Dome with a large group from the Lafitte housing development. "People are getting raped. People are getting killed. People are getting diseases. We're fighting for our lives right now." From the New Orleans Times-Picayune weblog, published by reporters who can't get to the newspaper's building.

Missing persons board.