Saturday, September 3, 2005

Fire Music v. 2.02

The playlist from the September 02, 2005 show:
  1. "For Fela", African Children, Lester Bowie (1978, Horo)
  2. "Jam for the Babas", Ka-Real, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (2000, Silkheart)
  3. "Idyongwana/Feelings", Music for Xaba, Johnny Dyani (1972, Sonet)
  4. "Ismac/Celestial", Kalaparusha, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre (1975, Trio)
  5. "Backdrop for Urban Revolution", Marzette and Company, Marzette Watts (1971, ESP-Disk - recorded 1966)
  6. "Summun, Bukmun, Umyun", Summun, Bukmun, Umyun, Pharoah Sanders (1970, Impulse!)
This was the secondt set of the new academic year for me. After plugging a few events on campus and reminding my listeners about donating to the Red Cross, I treated the listeners to a set of roughly 20 minute jams. Started out with a track from an out-of-print Lester Bowie album that I happen to dig. This particular tune features Bowie accompanied by someone on synths along with a standard 1970s free jazz combo, which makes for some interesting and quite funky sounds. That got followed up by a more recent cut from the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, to mellow things out a bit. If I can find an excuse to throw in some music by Johnny Dyani, I will - in this case a blend of traditional South African music and early 1970s free jazz workouts. That got followed by a mid-1970s live recording of Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, fronting an avant-jazz unit that managed to sound quite cosmic. The final cuts by Marzette Watts ("Backdrop for Urban Revolution") and Pharoah Sanders (his tune translates to "Deaf, Dumb, and Blind") I included as a form of social commentary. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure what I had in mind. We'll be putting a few more logs on the fire next week.

Fire music - for the body, mind, and soul.

Keep the hope alive! Peace.

While the right-wingers spin, the truth shall set us all free

One recent right-wing tactic that I saw employed in the occasional comment here was to blame theHurricane Katrina disaster outcome on the local level. Well, lookee what we got here: the Louisiana governor had sent a request to the feds for disaster relief on the 28th of August. People are dying because of the gross neglect and incompetence of this White House and Congress. Disgusting.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Caught in another lie

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

- President Bush, September 1, 2005

It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however--the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level--more than eight feet below in places--so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't--yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City.

- National Geographic, October, 2004

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Blogging around

This morning's round-up is devoted to coverage of the aftermath of Katrina. There is some really excellent blogging right now, painting an extensive picture of the scope of the disaster.

TruthTalkzIRAQ has some news and eyewitness account round-ups here, here, here, and here. In his first post he poses an interesting query:
heard estimates that it would cost something like 16 billion USD to initiate a credible coastal restoration program, as it involves redesigning the whole levee system and river routings throughout Southeast Louisiana. One could rightfully ask whether it's worth so much funding, which would obviously have to be federal-backed due to its scale. It's even more than Boston's "Big Dig", which I think cost just over 10 billion USD when all was said and done (and it leaks!). We've all sat around the past decade and watched Boston suck down all those tax dollars without so much as a peep of complaint. However, it's our turn now America -- quoting the slogan that REALLY built this country, namely "where's mine"? While we're at it, let's compare the figure to another amount -- it costs 4 billion USD every week to keep US troops in Iraq. So, which would you prefer? A month more in Iraq? Or saving New Orleans? For me, the choice is easy -- which would you prefer?

Steve Gilliard posts about anger rising in Lousiana and Mississippi; the failure of leadership at the White House; while conditions deteriorate asks, "where's Bush?"; regarding the growing chaos opines that New Orleans needs the regular Army; has the lowdown on the price of poverty, which is well above the national average in New Orleans; and catches wingnuts Jonah Goldberg and Jack Chambless with their intellectual pants down.

Americablog is also doing yeoman's work: "they had no plan"; an NYT editorial that actually lambastes Bu$hCo for its lack of leadership; Jeff. Parish President says Guard response "took too long"; CNN report blog stating that the government was overwhelmed.

Crooks and Liars asks how long it will take for some nut claim Hurricane Katrina was "God's punishment." Turns out it didn't take long at all! Ann Coulter disses New Yorkers, which receives at least one irate response.

Juan Cole posts on New Orleans as a casualty of Bu$hco's choice to invade and occupy Iraq. Policy choices indeed have consequences.

New Orleans Catastrophe Preventable

It's a truism that we can't prevent hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena from happening. We can, however as a society, prepare for them. Failure to adequately prepare can make things far worse for those who survive these events. That leads us to the situation facing the victims of Hurricane Katrina. At one point a category five storm, Katrina was a still-formidable category three storm by the time it made landfall; and contrary to the dire predictions, New Orleans was spared the worst of the hurricane's winds and storm surges. Although no one in their right mind would have expected the scene in New Orleans to be cool and the gang in Katrina's aftermath, the specter of a city decimated was one that wouldn't come to pass...or so it seemed at first. It was only after the storm hit that some levees fail, and the nightmare scenario that many had feared became reality after all. By the way that reminds me, if you haven't donated to the American Red Cross yet, what are you waiting for? But I digress. Could the catastrophic damage that has now occurred in New Orleans have been prevented? As it turns out, a local newspaper (Times-Picayune) had been sending out warning signals about the lack of preparedness for a major hurricane for quite some time. Will Bunch of Editor & Publisher explains:
Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level, the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake.

[...]

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune Web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming. ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."

The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004 that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough to start any new jobs.

There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:

"That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said."

The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006. But now it's too late.

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House. ... In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, "the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be."

Emphasis added.

So there you have it. The White House and the Congressional leadership were asleep at the wheel. Little things like shoring up levees or anything even remotely resembling improving the infrastructure of a very vulnerable and highly populated coastal area simply paled in comparison to fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq. We'll all be living with the consequences of those unwise choices made by this White House and this Congress. Undoubtedly the folks in New Orleans deserved better.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Preznit Picks and Grins While the Gulf Coast Drowns


Top picture found here, bottom picture found here.

Apparently SCOTUS nominee Roberts is a careful writer

This caught my attention:

Anne Kornblut, on her usual Bush apologist beat, raves about Roberts the precise writer:

"Judge Roberts always viewed it as a point of pride that we really strived to make everything in our briefs perfect," Mr. Leitch said. "Not that we always achieved it. But he was a stickler for everything, from spacing errors to the formation of quotation marks to grammar, and to the actual construction of arguments. So it was definitely an intense process.". . . David Garrow, a professor at Emory Law School in Atlanta, said: "It has been a consistently striking feature again and again - in even the very sort of informal memos that it's hard to imagine he ever thought someone would be reading 20 years later - that there is this very demanding precision, but it's not just grammatical. He is also extremely precise and demanding in his word usage."

Very commendable. So we can fairly assume that Roberts knew EXACTLY what he was writing on these occasions:

In a 1981 memo that Roberts wrote as special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, Roberts referred dismissively to the "so-called `right to privacy'" that formed the basis of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. And an article that Roberts apparently drafted for the attorney general derided the Court's earlier Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that privacy is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution.
[...]

And this one:

A fastidious editor of other people's copy as well as his own, Roberts began with the words "Until about the time of the Civil War." Then, the Indiana native scratched out the words "Civil War" and replaced them with "War Between the States.". . . Sam McSeveney, a history professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University who specialized in the Civil War, said that Roberts's choice of words was significant. "Many people who are sympathetic to the Confederate position are more comfortable with the idea of a 'War Between the States,' " McSeveney explained. "People opposed to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s would undoubtedly be more comfortable with the words he chose."

Undoubtedly. And a careful writer like Roberts made his choice for a reason. I think we can guess what it was.

Emphasis added in red typeface. I'm sure Bu$hCo made its choice of Roberts for a reason, too. Care to guess?

Blogging around

A whirlwind tour through blogtopia:

Steve Gilliard goes after Andrew Sullivan for his continued insistence that the eugenicist diatribe titled The Bell Curve has any truth value. Atrios also has a few words of his own to dish up. It's a sad (but entirely predictable) commentary that over a decade after the book in question was published, it still looked upon in right-wing circles as legit. The usual rule still applies: anyone trying to sell you on the idea that a theory that claims that a small schlong is evidence of genius is at least two bricks shy of a load.

Speaking of right-wing idiocy, a blogger posts a message of "love" from the God Hates Fags "congregation." These are the same fools who protest at military funerals because in their twisted view God is pissed off because America isn't discriminating against gays nearly enough. Wingnuttery: the gift that regrettably keeps on giving.

King of Zembla has the lowdown on war porn. More proof that war does indeed dehumanize anyone involved in it.

Bill at TOTEOTA reminds us that there are some folks affected by the recent Hurricane Katrina who could really use your help, and links to the American Red Cross. Making a donation is the right thing to do.

Signs of the Times



The first pic is a cartoon from the NYT. The second pic is by a photographer named Jim Goldstein, and was posted on a blog called Mixing Time and Lights. We see the ever changing excuses for Bu$hCo's Iraq War Debacle, leading to the inexorable (as Frank Rich puts it) retreat. The second picture expresses a sentiment shared by many, I suspect, both in the US and around the globe.

I'd mentioned Norman Solomon's recent column at CounterPunch earlier (his quote of Dorgan was priceless, of course), so I'll merely reiterated that it is well-worth taking a look at. What I do wish to point out are some other writers who are presenting variations on a theme. Let's take a quick peek at Colbert King's "Rallying the Troops and Avoiding Reality":
In an Aug. 12 Page One story that included interviews with U.S. officials involved in Iraq policy, The Post's Peter Baker wrote: "Administration officials have all but given up any hope of militarily defeating the insurgents with U.S. forces, instead aiming only to train and equip enough Iraqi security forces to take over the fight themselves." Bush, the piece said, is only trying to buy time until the Iraqi political process moves along and Iraqi troops get up to speed.
Two days later, The Post's Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer reported an even gloomier assessment based on interviews with senior administration officials and analysts who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it," they reported. Said a U.S. official: "We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us."
In other words, while Bush is out rallying the troops and reassuring their families that their sacrifices won't be in vain, administration officials in Washington are quietly playing down expectations of what can really be achieved in Iraq.
Far from the cheering crowds, this is the word in the Nation's Capital: Forget all that prewar talk about a secular, modern and united Iraq emerging after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Get ready instead for some form of Islamic republic in Iraq that gives special status to clerics and majority ethnic groups, and less deference to women's rights. A new Iraq free of violence and divisions? Oops, never mind.

[...]

Okay, the Bush folks also promised us weapons of mass destruction, and greetings with rice and rose water, and Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction, and a model new democracy in the Middle East, none of which has happened.
But this is different.
President Bush is out selling a vision of victory in Iraq while U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad are resigned to settling for less. George Bush can't make good on his original promise, and they know it. They also know that more Americans are going to die in Iraq for what may end up as a theocracy-tinged spoils system.
When those carrying the burden of this war realize what they have sacrificed and died for, the worst days of George W. Bush will have just begun.

Among the most unhappy will likely be the many Americans who have bought into the whole "Islam is evil" line. Sacrificing life and limb for the establishment of an Islamic republic is not what they had in mind. Of course the differences between an Islamic theocracy and the sort of Christian theocracy that our right-wingers so rabidly want to establish here at home are merely superficial - though good luck telling that bunch about it.

Along these lines we find Frank Rich at the NYT ("The Vietnamization of Bush's Vacation":
It isn't just Mr. Bush who is in a tight corner now. Ms. Sheehan's protest was the catalyst for a new national argument about the war that managed to expose both the intellectual bankruptcy of its remaining supporters on the right and the utter bankruptcy of the Democrats who had rubber-stamped this misadventure in the first place.
When the war's die-hard cheerleaders attacked the Middle East policy of a mother from Vacaville, Calif., instead of defending the president's policy in Iraq, it was definitive proof that there is little cogent defense left to be made. When the Democrats offered no alternative to either Mr. Bush's policy or Ms. Sheehan's plea for an immediate withdrawal, it was proof that they have no standing in the debate.

[...]

Among Washington's Democrats, the only one with a clue seems to be Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin senator who this month proposed setting a "target date" (as opposed to a deadline) for getting out.

[...]

But don't expect any of Mr. Feingold's peers to join him or Mr. Hagel in fashioning an exit strategy that might work. If there's a moment that could stand for the Democrats' irrelevance it came on July 14, the day Americans woke up to learn of the suicide bomber in Baghdad who killed as many as 27 people, nearly all of them children gathered around American troops. In Washington that day, the presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a press conference vowing to protect American children from the fantasy violence of video games.
The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America's ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda.
As another politician from the Vietnam era, Gary Hart, observed last week, the Democrats are too cowardly to admit they made a mistake three years ago, when fear of midterm elections drove them to surrender to the administration's rushed and manipulative Iraq-war sales pitch. So now they are compounding the original error as the same hucksters frantically try to repackage the old damaged goods.

[...]

The marketing campaign will crescendo in two weeks, on the anniversary of 9/11, when a Defense Department "Freedom Walk" will trek from the site of the Pentagon attack through Arlington National Cemetery to a country music concert on the Mall. There the false linkage of Iraq to 9/11 will be hammered in once more, this time with a beat: Clint Black will sing "I Raq and Roll," a ditty whose lyrics focus on Saddam, not the Islamic radicals who actually attacked America. Lest any propaganda opportunity be missed, Arlington's gravestones are being branded with the Pentagon's slogans for military campaigns, like Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Associated Press reported last week - a historic first. If only the administration had thought of doing the same on the fallen's coffins, it might have allowed photographs.
Even though their own poll numbers are in a race to the bottom with the president's, don't expect the Democrats to make a peep. Republicans, their minds increasingly focused on November 2006, may well blink first. In yet another echo of Vietnam, it's millions of voters beyond the capital who will force the timetable for our inexorable exit from Iraq.
Personally, although I accept that Feingold has a clue, which is a rare commodity among the Dems, his proposal of a distant target date for exiting Iraq is merely a baby step, and a wishy-washy one at that. Solomon rightly chastizes Frank Rich for thinking, as so many MSM commentators do, that there is somewhere "in between" Bu$hCo's idiotic policy of "staying the course" and Sheehan's call for an immediate withdrawal. Rich makes the assumption that somehow "we" can "fix" Iraq - a task that to me reeks of the old "white man's burden." Nor am I interested in "taking on" other sovereign nations in the name of preserving hegemony - especially at a time when our country is itself facing serious economic and political problems brought on by this government's most recent hegemonic ventures. What Rich does get right is that there is a supposed opposition party that has no clue as to how to act as an opposition, and it is (hopefully) the grassroots that are going to ultimately have to lead this country out of Iraq - likely dragging the politicians kicking and screaming in the process.

Rahul Mahajan has some ideas for just how to lead the US out of the Iraq quagmire:
Some criteria by which an exit plan should be judged:

What is its target audience? Bush and his coterie should not be the targets. They will withdraw further and further into their bunker as all forces turn against them, refusing to back down from their goals even as they flail wildly in a tactical sense. Nixon didn't give up on winning the Vietnam War until April 30, 1975; Bush makes Nixon look reasonable. The targets are dissident elements of the elite, in particular cowardly progressive Democrats, national security analysts who see that the occupation is imperiling U.S. interests but still think withdrawal might be worse, and non-right-wing media opinionmakers and journalists who to date have believed themselves to be far cleverer than the antiwar movement.

Second, what is it trying to salvage? Dreams of American imperial hegemony in the Middle East are not worth salvaging. Prospects for liberal democracy in Iraq have been seriously vitiated by the conduct of the occupation -- if and when it comes, it will be as a result of long hard struggle by Iraqis and not some clever exit plan. Even salvaging American face is not a goal the antiwar movement need get behind. In my earlier ruminations, I identified one legitimate goal – somehow arranging things so that U.S. withdrawal does not hand a huge victory to Zarqawi and global jihadi forces. Second, salvaging at least the possibility of stable oil production and export is something the world, and all Iraqis, can agree is worthwhile.
Indeed that may be one of the more sensible things I've read regarding withdrawing US troops from Iraqi soil. Changing the Bushies' minds is a lost cause, of course. They're living in their own "Green Zone" in Crawford, as Dahr Jamail aptly notes. Instead, it's way past time to take on the folks like Frank Rich and Sen. Feingold, who at least appear to have somewhat of a clue, and provide some not-so-gentle nudges to take it to the next level. Mahajan's ideas for what can be salvaged are ones that need serious consideration - how salvagable either of those legitimate goals would be at this late stage in the game is of course anyone's guess. We'll soon find out.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stupid quote of the day

"If we withdrew tomorrow, there would be a bloodbath in Iraq. We can't do that."
(Sen. Byron Dorgan, Dem - ND)


And that differs from what is currently happening in Iraq how? I didn't think so.

Quote courtesy of Norman Solomon's editorial, Triangulation for War, which of course you should read.

I'm almost speechless: Hurricane Katrina

Steve Gilliard posts a NOAA bulletin, and tries to put the magnitude of the storm in perspective. Among other things, he has this to say:
A couple of months ago, Rick Santorum wanted to bar the National Weather Service from sharing some of it's data with the public.

Let's see: talking points for tommorrow.

1) Will Bush give up his vacation as a major American city is wiped off the map? We hope that this isn't the case, but if it is, will Bush finally act like a leader or hide again.

2) Why is the Lousiana National Guard as well as their first responders in the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force reserve not home to help save their city?

3) Why did the Bush administration repeatedly cut funding for the Corps of Engineers district since 2001, despite being warned that this was one of the most likely disaster to hit the US, after a terrorist attack in New York.

Jen noted that most of the poor will be jammed into the Superdome, which will is expected to lose power. So people will be jammed into a hot, crowded building. One can only hope that it can withstand the storm.

Some other words from this WAPO article:
The real nightmare has always been the prospect of a Wagnerian hurricane like Katrina coming ashore so that its strongest winds push the Gulf of Mexico into the eastern-facing entrance to Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city's northern edge. The lake is both unusually shallow -- rarely more than 20 feet deep -- and unusually large -- more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island. A 20-foot storm surge arriving in concert with both high tide and 20-inch rains could overwhelm the city's more vulnerable lakeside levees and then flow downhill all the way to the French Quarter. Many of the city's massive drainage pumps are located closer to the lake. Were they to be flooded out, the city would not only be helplessly inundated while the hurricane is overhead -- it would remain so for weeks if not months.

For more than 2½ centuries, that precise scenario has never quite happened, though hurricanes rake the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf Coast regularly and sideswipe the Big Easy more often than not. One reason it hasn't is that the city was long protected by scores of miles of surrounding saltwater marshes capable of sponging up even massive storm surges like a swampy dishrag.

But for the last half of the 20th century and into the present day, those wetlands have been disappearing -- hundreds of acres of them every year -- starved by levees from the Mississippi River overflows that once fed them with silt from Minnesota and Iowa and Missouri, and eroded by canals dug for oil exploration and suburban subdivisions. To compare a 1930 aerial portrait of Louisiana with a contemporary satellite picture is to realize with stunning force how hundreds of miles of the state's beautiful if mosquito-laden southern wetlands now resemble moth-eaten lace.

With a far smaller marshland buffer zone to suck up Katrina's ferocious storm surge, New Orleans is very definitely in harm's way. Never mind the roof-ripping winds. Water fed New Orleans with commerce most of her life. If she dies today, it will be water -- born of Katrina's catastrophic power -- that's the death of her.
Indeed. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are in the path of this storm.

A gathering storm: How prepared are the Democrats?

I've already noted that I am skeptical. Some words from another blogger:

Under normal circumstances, there may be ways to mitigate or avoid some of these problems, but this is where the political element gives the storm strength. The lawmakers presently in charge do not react to real problems with real solutions. It has been their history, a history that has led us to this point, to ignore a problem's solution. They, rather, embrace a problem as an opportunity for political gain. Therefore, none of the foundation for real solutions has been laid to counteract these hurricane force economic winds that are about to hit.

I'm no economist or political scientist, but I know that I'm seeing clouds forming on the horizon, and am not at all happy about how we, as a nation, have prepared.

I know I have painted a gloomy picture, but it's one that, I feel, reflects the world America will face very soon. This is going to lead to massive political unrest in this country. The natives will be looking to throw the bums out as quickly as they can.

This is seemingly good news for the Democrats, who can point to the fact that all this has happened on the Republican's watch, but they should avoid the temptation to gloat. You see the Republican agenda couldn't have gotten as far along as it has without Democratic help.

There was and remains wide spread support among Democrats in congress for the war. If the party's leaders refuse to review their position on this issue, events will quickly overtake them and they will find it difficult to gain traction. A desperate population doesn't have the patience to split hairs and parse sentences. You were either for it or against it.

In terms of energy policy, many Democrats were among those who lined up at the troth earlier this summer to pass the pork slop filled energy bill, thereby missing an opportunity to address the public's real concerns about gas prices and alternative fuel sources.

The bankruptcy bill passed with support from Democrats. 16 Democratic senators voted for the bill. For many, that is going to be unforgivable.

In short, for an opposition party to survive the impending political and economic storm it must oppose the majority...in all ways. It won't be enough to pick and choose their issues and appease here and there. In order to be effective in the raging storm, the Democrats need to review and overhaul their role in the process that created the storm, or risk being swept overboard by the tidal wave of backlash that is certain to come.


My short take on that last paragraph: don't count on it. Regular Americans who have good reason to believe that they are sinking do not have the patience for "nuanced arguments" for appeasement, or what the meaning of "is" is. I seriously doubt that enough of the party brass grasps that reality. Some individual politicians within the Democrat party do get it, and I'll gladly give them props as long as they continue as they are doing (Conyers comes to mind). Fears of being called "obstructionist" don't cut it. Look it it this way, if you see a likely train wreck and you have the potential to obstruct that wreck, then do it by any means necessary.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Blogging around

Billmon has the lowdown on some exemplary news reporting in Iraq.

Juan Cole presents the perspective of a moderate Iraqi-American reader.

Steve Gilliard is miffed at wingnut stupidity.

In noting that the constitutional negotiations between the Sunni and other factions in Iraq have failed, Booman wonders if this is a turning point as significant as the Tet offensive.

Dr. Menlo discovers a website called I Hate Pat Robertson.

Via Operation Yellow Elephant, we find that College Republicans berate efforts to recruit them into the Army as insensitive. And here I thought sensitivity was a leftist thang.

JABBS captures more of Jon Stewart's brilliance, by using Bush's own words against him.

Jesus' General is cleaning up Santorum.

Larry of Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time serves up some vintage Einstein.

Steve Soto has some words on Supreme Court nominee Roberts and the Ghost of Iran-Contra.