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Friday, September 16, 2005

WaPo is Distanced From Reality, Not Crap Reporting

There is no pile of vomit so large that it does justice to Carol Leonnig's latest WaPo's tribute to St. Judith of the High Chutzspa. If you listen carefully you can hear the plaintive strains of Threnody For the Victims of Patrick Fitzgerald lilting in the background:
Locked in the Alexandria Detention Center for the past 11 weeks, New York Times reporter Judith Miller is cut off from the world. She has no Internet access and precious little opportunity to view CNN. Her phone calls are limited, friends say. Her daily newspaper arrives a day late.
Yeah, and her two best friends are a gal named Pudge and a Hefty bag full of pruno. Wait while I break out the world's smallest violin. The article goes on to describe her "elite" visitors, a "who's who of friends, supporters and Washington and New York luminaries":
John R. Bolton, President Bush's new ambassador to the United Nations, former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw and former senator Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.). Gonzalo Marroquin, president of the Inter-American Press Society and director of the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre has been by.
That's it? That's your "luminaries?" Wow, her struggle for First Amendment freedom really isn't bringing out the big guns, is it? Some deranged streetcorner drunk with a sandwich board and a shower cap screaming about John 3:16 and fluoridated water could draw bigger names than that.

As David E. says, call me when Harold Pinter arrives.

Elder statesman Tom Brokaw takes a breather from pushing that pile of Greatest Generation bullshit around on the national plate long enough to weigh in:
"Judy Miller is the most innocent person in this case," Brokaw said in an interview yesterday. "I really thought that was outrageous that she was jailed and we needed as journalists to draw a line in the sand in a strong but thoughtful way."
Grandpa Brokaw is obviously sitting in the cheap seats, so let's run it for him once again on the jumbo screen. According to ACLU board member Professor Geoffrey Stone:
In the Plame case, we have a relatively unusual circumstance where the source is essentially using the press in an effort to commit a federal version of a reporter-source privilege in my view or my judgment would cover the particulars of this situation.
We won't waste any more time on Gramps 'til he's had his nap and takes his Geritol.

Back to the realm of the patently absurd:
Miller did some reporting on Wilson's claims that the government had twisted intelligence on Iraq's attempt to obtain weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war, but never wrote a story.
Wow, do you know that for a fact Carol? Because if you do, please give your sources. Enquiring minds, you know. So far NYT editor Bill Keller has steadfastly refused to say whether Miller was actually working on a story for the Times at all. Which has really raised the hackles of the entire Times staff, who at this point do not know why they must suffer professional humiliation of biblical proportions in defense of the cheap and shoddy rumor mongering Judith Miller passed off as journalism and have really never been told why.

All pretence of credibility flung to the four winds, we proceed apace:
Authorities at the Alexandria Detention Center say it is not unheard-of for some prisoners to receive a visit every day from a spouse or mother. What distinguishes Miller, detention officials concede privately, is the volume and celebrity of the people who have come to talk to her through the plexiglass partition of the tiny visitor center.
No, what distinguishes Miller is that her husband is out rubbing his face in the tits of some stripper (or on some Mediterranean cruise with JK Rowling bosomy dirty book writer Shirley Lord, I can never remember which) while she's in the slammer eating canned corn and huffing spray paint with the ladies of Cell Block C.
Bolton's visit raised some eyebrows in Washington.
No shit?
A vocal defender of administration claims in 2003 that Iraq was seeking weapons of mass destruction....
...i.e., one of the people who spoon fed Judy the lies she spread all over the front page of the NYT like a thick layer of dog shit...
....he could have had access to a State Department memo, parts of which were classified, that detailed Wilson's trip to Niger to determine whether Iraq was seeking uranium there and identified his wife as a covert CIA operative...
...which means Bolton could in all likelihood be Miller's "source" and the target of Fitzgerald's investigation since he has never been questioned by the grand jury, and might have been there desperately trying to cover his ass. Come on, Carol, you useless tool. Say it. Indulge the obvious.
Bolton declined through a spokesman to discuss his visit to Miller or his reasons for going. "This has nothing to do with his job here," the spokesman said. "He doesn't want to talk about it." his lawyer was heard screaming wildly in the background, "for the love of God, John, shut up..."
Times officials have been mainstays on the visitor list, including chairman of the New York Times company Arthur Sulzberger Jr., columnist William Safire, Editor Bill Keller and Managing Editor Jill Abramson...
...hoping against hope that when Miller's "journalistic principles" evaporate faster than a hot bottle of vodka she doesn't take the other political operatives from the Times down with her.

Nice job, Carol. You managed to miss almost every single relevant point in a needlessly long story notable only for its humorous freedom from facts. No doubt Unka Karl has a nice, big fat something waiting for you.


Cue the Wingnuts, or Smells Like Teen Spirit

Kids in our sexually permissive environment are having more oral sex according to a new study -- among teens 15 to 19, 55% of males and 54% of females say they have engaged in this particular activity. It's the permissive liberalism that pervades our culture, no doubt. Time for more prayer in schools. Oh and Bill Clinton can go to hell.

There, that's my good deed for the day, deep thinkers like Malkin and Cap'n Ed can just link to me and go back to freelance bigotry.

For those who like to read more than the first paragraph before forming their opinions, a little further down in the article, they offer a different and quite plausible alternative explanation for their findings:
Brindis cautioned that some of the apparent increases may simply represent an increased comfort level in discussing sexual behavior rather than an increase in activity.

Some may now "be disclosing information that had probably occurred for decades," she said.

Economist M.V. Lee Badgett, a visiting scholar at UCLA and research director of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, echoed that sentiment. "The world has changed in 10 years," she said.

Badgett noted that the 1990 census showed 150,000 households of same-sex couples in the nation, but 600,000 were reported in 2000. In both cases, she said, the differences "are much more likely to be due to a willingness to report than to an increase in numbers."
And before they all raise their glasses in a salute to "abstinence only:"
The emphasis over the last five years on promoting abstinence from sex has led to widespread neglect of discussions about the safety of various sexual practices, Wagoner said.

"One of the most shocking statistics now is that the incidence of teen gonorrhea in the United States is 70 times that in the Netherlands and France," he said. "We are paying a big price for shutting down discussion."
Yes, this is going to come as a shock to the Power Tools, but teenagers have been engaging in oral sex for a long time, they are just less likely to lie about it now. Since shame is a big part of the right-wing social agenda, any decrease is likely to send the knuckle draggers into DefCon 3.

But I am sure the dashing trio and their "hey, what about me" world view will no doubt be furious about the narrow scope of the survey anyway. Sorry, guys. No category for those who fellate themselves.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Congress to Patrick J. Fitzgerald: Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Seems I'm not the only one looking for Patrick J. Fitzgerald to expand his grand jury investigation. Today forty members of Congress, led by Maurice Hinchley (D-NY) are urging Fitzgerald to look into the fraudulent claims that BushCo. made regarding Iraq's nuclear capabilities in its justification for war:
President Bush made two uranium claims, one in his State of the Union Address to Congress and another in a report that he submitted to Congress concerning Iraq, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made three other uranium claims.   We request that you investigate whether such claims violated two criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C., Sec. 1001 and 18 U.S.C., Sec. 371, that prohibit making false and fraudulent statements to Congress and obstructing the functions of Congress.


Additionally, the Downing Street memos should be part of the investigation as to whether one of the several ways in which the Administration deliberately "fixed" the facts and intelligence on uranium included its switch of the language in the State of the Union Address to justify the war.  These documents provide valuable insight into the mindset of the Administration the summer preceding the Iraq invasion.

(my emphasis)
As I noted yesterday, if anyone contacts Fitzgerald and request that he present to the grand jury a recommendation that they investigate something that happened in the Washington D.C. judicial district, he must do so. It is then up to the grand jury to decide what they want to do.

It may very well be that Fitzgerald is already out in front of this. In August of 2003, the WaPo first wrote about the existence of the secret White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which was formed in August 2002 as "a task force assigned to 'educate the public' about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it."

According to the WaPo:
The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Among the regular participants were Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser; communications strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; and policy advisers led by Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, along with I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.
In March of 2004, the White House acknowledged that Fitzgerald had subpoenaed documents including WHIG's notes, emails and attendance records. Since Rove's "strategic communications" task force within WHIG helped write Bush's speeches (including, presumably, the January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech containing the 16 words about Iraq's purported nuclear capabilities), and both Rove and Libby helped craft George Tenet's mea culpa about the Niger uranium snafu, it is within the realm of possibility to suppose that Fitzgerald is already pursuing this line of inquiry.

Although forty members of Congress, lead by John Conyers, got shot down yesterday in their attempt to launch a Plame investigation of their own, Fitzgerald sent a decidedly unequivocal letter to them today saying that such a move would interfere with his investigation.

I personally don't think Conyers expected it to go anywhere, he just wanted all the Republicans on record as being against an investigation so it can be waved in their faces when the shit hits the fan. He said as much on his blog today (I actually think it would have been his worst nightmare come true if it had passed). But I'm happy nonetheless to see that Fitzgerald is on guard against the possibility of the Rethuglicans in Congress granting immunity to his key targets a la Oliver North in Iran Contra. He obviously doesn't want to get punked like Lawrence Walsh.

For those who would like to see a good profile of our man Fitz, there is a PBS online news hour segment on him here, including a portrait of the prosecutor as a young rugby player. And for the die hard fans, you can watch him testify before the 9/11 commission both here and here (testimony starts 1 hr. 36 min. into the segment -- it's long).

Things are heating up, boys and girls. This ought to be good.

(hat tip to Quicksilver)


Tax & Spend Democrats Blow Billions of Your Tax Dollars, or Here, Have a Little More Kool-Aid

The drug-addled kleptocrats who run this country are at it again. Matt provides us with the above chart, which shows that during the Clinton administration increases in government spending were mostly flat. I think we can safely put the "tax and spend Democrat" meme to bed with a glass of warm milk.

Now, according to the WaPot, those with their itchy hands on the taxpayer MasterCard are getting ready to pump more money into whitewashing the priceless Bush image (in the guise of rebuilding New Orleans) that will cost more in the next year than the pricetag for the entire Iraq war to date.

Think about that for a minute.

Then think about the fact that the political operative in charge of Operation Save the Idiot will be Karl Rove, who will now be able to secure for himself an awful lot of political insulation by acting as doorman to an orgy of graft, corruption and blind greed that will make Paul Bremer and the CPA look like pikers in comparison.

I told my friend Mike last night that despite the fact that people were still dying of thirst and starvation in the Convention Center, Halliburton got its first no-bid contract to rebuild New Orleans on Thursday after the storm hit. It only took Bush six more days to suspend the prevailing wage law, which says government contractors must pay a "prevailing wage" to those they employ, insuring that Halliburton would be able to reap windfall profits on the backs of those who have to trudge through the shit and the dead bodies to clean up the wreckage of Preznit Never Responsible -- which they can now legally do for less than $9 an hour.

I don't think Mike believed me. I think he felt, like many people do, that if something that ugly was happening he would've heard about it. From somewhere. Anywhere.

Meanwhile, this is nowhere to be found on the front page of Newsweek, who are all adither with Britney's new baby and can't spare the space. For those who feel their lives will be rendered bereft of meaning without the news flash: it's a boy.

We now return you to our regular reality-based programming.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Little Something Extra For Everyone With This Week's Paycheck

My friend Scott is a therapist specializing in trauma who volunteered to go work for the Red Cross in the aftermath of Katrina. He's been forwarding me the emails from one of his friends displaced by the storm in New Orleans, and I found this part interesting:
Ecologically, I don't even want to think. The smell was just overpowering, Imagine low tide-chemicals-death-garbage-and just general decay. Thank god we brought protective gear. The water is a black ooze that just screams danger-luckily we never really had to get in it. On our boots in the office but that's about it. Scarier is the dried dust-it looks like ash-very fine and stuck to everything. Grass dead whereever the water sat for awhile-We had chemical/toxic dust rated masks. Helped keep out the smell and the idea of dust.  I could write for days and not really express the experience and pictures don't come close. you have to be there and experience all 5 senses at once, and just know you have to leave fast!!!


Somebody should be asking the military powers that be why these soldiers aren't wearing masks/protective gear of some sort.
Well the anti-science GOP has sneered at the dangers of uranium munitions in Iraq, I don't imagine they'll be fazed much by exposing soldiers to a little toxic bilge water.

Shit, don't we owe these people just a little bit better than that?


Can Fitzgerald's Inquiry Extend to Include Katrina?

You don't even have to be a confirmed bed-wetting lefty serial skeptic to raise an eyebrow at the thought of Preznit Supreme Buck Passer conducting his own investigation into the Katrina response. Now that Senate Republicans have taken turns pissing all over Hillary Clinton's attempt to establish an independent, bipartisan panel to inquire into the matter, it looks like the fox who has appointed himself Lord Mayor of the Henhouse will skirt any sort of criminal accountability.

But maybe not.

An article over at TPM Cafe points us to this federal law regarding grand juries:
(a) It shall be the duty of each such grand jury impaneled within any judicial district to inquire into offenses against the criminal laws of the United States alleged to have been committed within that district. Such alleged offenses may be brought to the attention of the grand jury by the court or by any attorney appearing on behalf of the United States for the presentation of evidence. Any such attorney receiving information concerning such an alleged offense from any other person shall, if requested by such other person, inform the grand jury of such alleged offense, the identity of such other person, and such attorney’s action or recommendation.
At the moment there is at least one special grand jury sitting in Washington D.C. -- and it happens to be the one overseen by Patrick J. Fitzgerald in his investigation of the Valerie Plame leak. And according to the article, if anyone writes to Fitzgerald and asks him to bring a matter to the attention of the special grand jury -- say, the fact that Michael Brown lied on his resume, or during his confirmation hearings -- the law says Fitzgerald must do so.

Matt Cooper says the grand jury is composed largely of African American women who have no problem directing their own questions or taking the reigns in the inquiry. And I'm betting by this point they have probably heard a bellyful about BushCo.'s lies, deceit, smears and dissembling.

Would they think it was within their purview to look into like this? Who knows. But I really can't think of anything I'd like more than to have Patrick Fitzgerald expand his investigation and independently look into the homicidal incompetence that lead to so many unnecessary deaths.


Why, Some of My Best Friends Are Women

Per Roxanne, we hear that Jessica from Feministing is live blogging the Roberts confirmation hearings. Jessica's doing an excellent job, despite the fact that Roberts is wobbling around like some 21st century creeple people:
Sen. Feinstein's questions ran the gamut from women’s rights, choice issues, environmental concerns and the separation of Church and State.

I was glad to see that she called Roberts out on his past they-were-a-joke-I-swear comments on women, though it seemed she could have given him a bit of a harder time on them. (Though she did tell him for someone who talked about modesty and humility, these statements were anything but.)

Roberts just responded with a predictable I have a wife, sister and daughter statement. That’s great and I’m sure he wants the best for them, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t come out with some pretty sexist remarks in the past.

Of course when questioned on privacy, Roe and Casey, Roberts dodged. Again. Relying on stare decisis just won’t cut it, Johnny!
Why doesn't he try the endlessly repeated "I've already addressed that" meme? Works pretty well for Scott McClellan. And it's not like anyone on the Judiciary Committee is David Gregory.

Anyway, stop by and visit Jessica, drop some comments, give her some support. She's performing a real public service.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

All Those Wanted Little Negroes

At first I thought this was Josh Marshall's idea of a joke. But no, this is from the First Lady's speech before the Heritage Foundation this morning:
Here at home, the No Child Left Behind Act has put a new emphasis on high standards and on eliminating the achievement gap between white students and minority students. We also want to make sure that children develop a strong character and learn important life lessons. To do that, children need caring adults in their lives. The comedian Eddie Cantor used to say in all seriousness that every time he saw the 10 Most Wanted list, he thought, maybe if we'd made them feel more wanted earlier, they wouldn't be wanted now.
She's fucking kidding me, right?

Does he First Lady not know who Eddie Cantor was? Or does she actually think it's appropriate to invoke a comedian famous for appearing in blackface when talking about minority students, and then crack wise about their erstwhile future as criminals?

The white house speech writers must be breaking into her pill cabinet again and setting her up for a goof just to keep themselves amused.

But then again, as bad jokes go, it is really hard to top NCLB. In Los Angeles, less than half the African-American and Latino children who start 9th grade will actually graduate. According to the Civil Rights Project at Harvard:
Current educational policies, such as high stakes tests for students and test-driven accountability for schools, appear to create unintended incentives for school officials to push out low achieving students.
"Current educational policies." That would be NCLB, which is forcing schools to ease students out of the system who can't pass the standardized tests, or risk losing what funding they have. Thus the most marginal students, the ones who already have learning disabilities or emotional disfunction, the ones who come from the most abusive homes and suffer the most privation, are eased out onto the streets where they won't get in the way of the First Lady's blackface vision for the country.

According to a study by the Civil Rights project, the way that BushCo. accounts for drop out rates masks the true nightmare NCLB is inflicting on the country.

Oh and let's bang that "compassionate conservatism" drum again while we're at it, shall we? Nationwide, just 32% of all students with disabilities graduate each year.

Things looking pretty rosy to you yet, Laura?

We thought so. Have another benzo. Carry on.


I'd Like to Thank All the Little People -- If Only I Could See 'Em

Photographers rarely are allowed into the forward cabin of Air Force One, but consigliere Karl Rove and other aides summoned them so they could snap pictures of the Boss gazing out the window as the plane flew over the devastation. Republican strategists privately call the resulting image—Bush as tourist, seemingly powerless as he peered down at the chaos—perhaps among the most damaging of his presidency.
Yeah, Unka Karl is off his game. Maybe it's the kidney stones, maybe it's the pending indictments. If he was as brilliantly Machiavellian as everyone says he is, I'd accuse him of setting up Fearless Leader to keep himself out of the headlines and off of Patrick J. Fitzgerald's radar, but I don't happen to be a member of the "Rove is a genius" set. I just think he has a particularly effective craven gift for appealing to the most base and negative instincts of the most base and negative people, and extracting power therefrom.

Trouble is, you also start collecting enemies when that's your MO, and your only hope is that your power keeps accruing such that the ever-accumulating mass of ill-wishers can never overtake you. People who say "Rove will never suffer" are betting his power will always be on the ascent and he will never stand at the mercy of the people he victimized, a la Ronald Reagan.

(Although as a side note, my friend Terrenceo thinks that there is some cosmic justice in the man who turned the mentally ill out onto the street so his rich buddies could pile up a few more shekels ending his life with his brain turning to jello and the party he birthed cutting off any hope from stem cells.)

We don't know the exact numbers of people within his own party that Rove has terrorized, threatened, bullied, blackmailed and smeared. Not all of them will be such acquiescent bitches as John McCain. They won't say anything while he's strong, but let him show the least little weakness and they will begin to come out of the woodwork. With little acts of betrayal that never make it into the headlines, but are deadly and damaging nonetheless.

Mark my words, Unka Karl will die from a thousand paper cuts. A thousand people who could come to his rescue -- but won't.

And he knows it.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Duct Tape Dave to the Rescue

Drownie we hardly knew ye.

He's gone. Handed in his resignation today. Nobody thought to tell Preznit Endless Summer, though.

Somebody needs to teach him how to use Google News.

Q Can you tell us, have you accepted the resignation of Michael Brown, or have you heard about it?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't -- no, I have not talked to Michael Brown -- or Mike Chertoff; that's who I'd talk to. As you know, I've been working. And when I get on Air Force One, I will call back to Washington. But I've been on the move.

Q Our understanding is he has resigned, he's made a statement. Would that be appropriate --

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to Mike Chertoff yet, and that's what I intend to do when I get on the plane. You know, I -- you probably -- maybe you know something I don't know, but as you know, we've been working, and I haven't had a chance to get on the phone.
Doin' the Presidentin' thing, you know. Couldn't take the time. Gotta git his pitcher made. Take him a nap.

So how exactly did he name Drownie's replacement, David Paulison, today?

Maybe Cheney was busy doin' the Presidentin' agin.

And where, exactly, have we seen Paulison before? Why, he's the father of the modern Duct Tape movement. Remember this pearl of wisdom from 2003, which caused the run on Home Depots everywhere?
In his advisory, Paulison recommended that households have on hand three days worth of water and food; an emergency supply kit for both home and automobile; radios with extra batteries; and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors.
Curiously I feel no better.

Update: Mark Kleiman:
I asked a friend who understands this Administration much better than I do why on earth they decided to fire Michael Brown in two stages, thus giving the story two news cycles.

His answer was dazzlingly simple: Karl Rove, who was always the brains of the operation, is so worried about whether he's about to be indicted that he's not at the top of his game. "Is there any way a Karl Rove not facing prison time would have had the President fly over the disaster area and look down at it? I don't think so."
See Skippy? I'm not the only one.


Because There's No Place So Low We Won't Go to Shill For Jeebus

As Governor Rick Perry two-steps around the State of Texas showing residents how much Republicans care about victims of Hurricane Katrina, he has been urging Texans to contribute through three groups: The Red Cross, Salvation Army and the OneStar Foundation.

The third group happens to be an organization that supports "faith-based initiatives" and was founded by Perry himself, who earlier this year in a Forth Worth Church was pleased as punch to sign a law making it a crime punishable by death (yes, death, capital punishment, death, say it again death) for a doctor to perform an abortion on a teenage girl without the consent of her parents, or in any way not conform to the letter of the extremely restrictive State of Texas abortion laws.

The same Rick Perry who said gay soldiers who served in Iraq should come back to some place other than Texas.

The same Rick Perry who has spoken repeatedly at private events in Texas where a minister reasoned that God sent Hurricane Katrina to purify the nation of gays.

According to the Dallas Morning News:
Mr. Perry created OneStar as a nonprofit charitable organization in January 2004 to coordinate faith-based initiatives and promote volunteerism. Its chief executive is Susan Weddington, who left the state Republican Party chairmanship to run the organization.
"Coordinate faith-based initiatives." Well that's a pretty partisan objective wouldn't you say? Should probably be subject to separation of church and state and all. Right?

Wrong. We're talking about Texas:
Through legislation, the governor placed his divisions of faith-based initiatives, adult mentoring and the AmeriCorps volunteer program in the OneStar Foundation. It operates with federal grant money.
One-Star's web site says that the foundation was "birthed from the heart and vision of Governor Rick Perry."

Well nobody ought to work themselves into a froth contesting that one.

So as you watch the dead bodies being fished out of the drink in New Orleans, know that there are people already out there willing to manipulate your compassion (and your pocketbook) to finance the Christian invasion of your bedroom and your doctor's office.

The Republic of Gilead is most certainly at hand.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Shoot the Messenger (and Grab Me a Beer)

Seems nobody wanted to be the first to tell Preznit See-No-Evil the truth about Katrina. According to Newsweek:
Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.
There are many reasons why people in power live in denial and create dream worlds for themselves. But the personality characteristics George Bush is evincing are typical of people with untreated alcoholism, or as we in the club call it, being a "dry drunk."

In the parlance of alcoholism, a "dry drunk" is someone who "white knuckles" it, or stops drinking on their own but does not get any kind of treatment or participate in any type of program that will repair the damage from those "wild days in N'Owleans." It has all the wisdom of treating yourself for cancer. Going "cold turkey" may work well for people who are simply heavy partiers and are not actually alcoholics or drug addicts, and there are many such people.

But for many reasons, I don't happen to think George Bush is one of them.

Dry drunks are choking on rage, usually barely able to constrain it, and given to flashes of incredible temper -- as George Bush reputedly is. One of those reasons may be purely physical, in that people who abuse drugs and alcohol for long periods of time usually thrash their livers, which Chinese medicine believes to be the seat of anger.

But the other, more pervasive problem is a tendency to take things extremely personally and always interpret negative news as a personal attack. Alcoholics and drug addicts seem to stop growing emotionally when they begin heavy substance abuse. Instead of living through tough emotional situations and growing as a result of them, addicts go "around" them, afraid of their own feelings, attempting to manipulate and control them with chemicals. Although the intellect may continue to grow, the emotions do not.

Thus, conventional wisdom has it that when someone gets sober, they are dealing with the emotional maturity of someone the age they were when they started drinking and using, which in Texas in the 50s probably happened no later than Bush's teenage years. But emotional growth only commences when the alcoholic begins to take responsibility for his or her actions and seeks treatment, and there is no indication George Bush has ever done either.

Otherwise, they are just consumed with a storm of emotions they have neither the life training to process nor the tools to develop such, and on top of it all they can no longer medicate themselves into passivity. They will attempt to control "reality" in much the same way they attempted to control their feelings, with an urge to dominate and manipulate in order to shut out the ugly noise of life.

In other words, at this critical juncture in history, we're probably dealing with a really fucked-up fourteen year-old in the White House.


Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, 1924-2005

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the singer and guitarist who built a 50-year career playing blues, country, jazz and Cajun music, died Saturday in his hometown of Orange, Texas, where he had gone to escape Hurricane Katrina. He was 81.

Brown, who had been battling lung cancer and heart disease, was in ill health for the past year, said Rick Cady, his booking agent.

Cady said the musician was with his family at his brother's house when he died. Brown's home in Slidell, La., a bedroom community of New Orleans, was destroyed by Katrina, Cady said.

"He was completely devastated," Cady said. "I'm sure he was heartbroken, both literally and figuratively. He evacuated successfully before the hurricane hit, but I'm sure it weighed heavily on his soul."

Although his career first took off in the 1940s with blues hits "Okie Dokie Stomp" and "Ain't That Dandy," Brown bristled when he was labeled a bluesman.

In the second half of his career, he became known as a musical jack-of-all-trades who played a half-dozen instruments and culled from jazz, country, Texas blues, and the zydeco and Cajun music of his native Louisiana.

By the end of his career, Brown had more than 30 recordings and won a Grammy award in 1982.

"I'm so unorthodox, a lot of people can't handle it," Brown said in a 2001 interview.
I think the dogs and I are going to take some time tonight to think of Gatemouth and the New Orleans that will never be again by listening to his music.


Can You Think About it Yet? Really?

Billmon's taking a break. I don't blame him. After reading the story of a rescue worker who came across the body of a man who desperately tried to stick a pipe up through a grate to keep from drowning to no avail in his last moments of life, the human tragedy of the problem just overwhelmed Billmon and he had to take some time out to grieve.

I'm not there yet. I'm still frightened, for myself and my dogs. As someone who splits her time between Two Areas Most Likely To -- Los Angeles and the Oregon coast -- all I can think about is, what if it were me? Anyone taking comfort in the fact that there was 48 hour notice and that middle class people with cars could get themselves out are living in a fool's paradise. Earthquakes don't give much advance notice, nor generally do bombs, and in any case the emergency management system has shown itself to be nothing if not totally FUBAR this week.

As Pudentilla said so well at Skippy this week: "we recommend you review your personal emergency kit. Check battery supplies, etc. because, what awol has spent the last week demonstrating, is that when osama punks him again, we are all on our own."

I'm sure my pleas to people this week to help the animals were motivated by a sense of self-preservation. It was nearly two weeks after the storm hit before they finally began to evacuate people who would not leave their pets behind (which would most certainly be me), and then only because people began hounding media outlets and FEMA with demands that they do something (and thanks to everyone who participated, BTW.)

I'm left no more comforted by RJ Eskow's investigation into who, exactly, is in charge of FEMA in Los Angeles, a city that -- if you had to wager on the likelihood of some sort of disaster hitting in the nearby future, be it man-made or natural -- would probably come out #1 on anyone's list.

There is no head of FEMA for the region that includes Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. And there hasn't been one for a year.

There is an "acting" director named Karen Armes:
armes is a career government employee, not a crony, but until 2000 her entire career seems to have spent in budgeting and accounting (with, as jill points out, an undergrad degree in recreation.) her appearance on la's ken and john show (listen here) is a classic case of government apologism, defending fema's catastrophic behavior in new orleans and refusing to promise action during a california earthquake in less than 72 hours. Her interviewers ain't buyin' it, as you can hear.
Feeling better yet?

For right now, I can't think about the old people drowning in the nursing home, people with Alzheimers or people in hospital beds abandoned by their caregivers who saw the water rush in and knew they were doomed. I mean I think about it, I think about it a lot -- but for now I am still one who has to hold them at emotional distance. I can't stop screaming and yelling and being part of the general din hollering for change, because -- well, right now, I just can't.

But we wish Billmon all the best, and hope his vacation gives him and others like him who have already allowed that pain inside the opportunity to heal.