Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Oh, look!

Tom Delay has been indicted...

Michael Brown melts down and blames the Katrina response on everyone from the president to local faith-based organizations...

The Rita response was sadly lacking, too...

The National Enquirer says W fell off the wagon...(who cares if it's true--it's gotta be embarrassing)

A google for "impeach Bush" brings up over 2 million hits...

Sane and normal people are unhappy about the push to put religious mythology into our science classrooms...(go ahead, ask me how I really feel about "Intelligent Design"...)

Just by glancing at the headlines for the last couple of days, I'd almost think the whole BushCo house of cards is teetering.

But I've always been an optimist.

After the War Between the States...

An influx of northerners sought to exploit the condition of the South to make a bunch of money.
The carpetbaggers had little real interest in helping repair the nation after the civil war--mostly they wanted to buy up property and manipulate the political disarray for their personal benefit.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cool people

You know how it is. Sometimes, in the course of an otherwise utterly horrible day, you happen across some stranger who does something so unexpectedly kind and thoughtful that you're caught flat-footed with surprise...

You go away from the encounter feeling much better about humanity in general, and your own lot in life, specifically.

That's how I felt about the girl at the Motel 6 in California in the middle of the night. I'd stopped maybe 20 other places--they were all either full, or wouldn't take my dog. Moreover, it was getting late: a.m....two...The night clerks were getting ruder and ruder, as the night wore on.

By two-thirty, feeling desperately tired, wanting a shower and a stiff drink and to get the hell out of my vehicle and into a bed, I stopped at the last of five motels off of the interstate exit--a Motel 6. Normally, I probably wouldn't even have considered it. I like wifi in my room. I like a bar and restaurant on-premises.

But it was two-thirty in the morning, I'd been driving nearly 20 hours, and their jaunty radio-slogan was running through my head, "We'll leave the light on for ya!" So I swung the truck and horse trailer into the parking lot, on my way back to the freeway to push on--however unwillingly--to the next town.

The kid at the night desk window looked up from her book and gave me a sunny grin when I showed up. I'm sure I didn't look happy OR approachable under the sodium-vapor lights of the parking lot. I said, without preamble, "PLEASE tell me you have a room."

She did. A clean, spartan little room. Bless 'em. And she was NICE about it, too.

Re-reading "The Dead Zone"

Does anyone remember what on earth the lightning rod salesman has to do with anything else in the whole friggin' book? His name is Andrew Dohay, we meet him on page 83 (Signet, 1980) in a bar called Cathy's, where the proprietor declines to buy any lightning rods. He climbs in his car and apparently departs the story on page 86. The scene is written from the seller of lightning rods' point of view.

I'm now on page 316. About a hundred pages ago, I started to wonder what ever happened to the guy. I'm right on the verge of having to stop reading and backtrack to see if I missed anything.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Some bright autumn morning, you might decide to lace on your hiking boots and walk. You might cross the horse pasture behind the house, your trail stretching through the wet grasses of the pasture behind you, arrowing back the way you came. Perhaps you pause, turn and look over your shoulder at the place where you dwell, pale sun slanting off the windows, the last of the frost glinting from the shaded part of the lawn, protected by the single cottonwood profiled against the sky.

You can push your hands deep in fleece pockets against the cold of the fall morning, and think warm thoughts about the smell of bacon in your kitchen, but walk on. Climb through the barb-wire fence on the edge of the pasture and walk down the hill. There are wagon ruts still carved into the earth, here--grassed over, now, but your feet find the track and follow, unerringly.

At the bottom of the long hill, the old road hidden beneath the grass veers sharply right, away from the rim of the coulee. You can leave the path, though, and go and stand on the edge looking down. Perhaps deer are still feeding in the canyon bottom, lulled by the cool sunlight. Knowing that winter is surely coming.

At the top of the coulee the good earth falls away beneath your feet. The prairie ends in sandstone cliffs where the coyotes and buffalo dance forever, etched into the stones by hands long since gone back into the sod beneath the long brown grasses and wild roses covered in brilliant red hips.

And it abides. Even when you turn back, cheeks flushed, to go home to your coffee and the day--it abides.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

War is very ugly

Images from Iraq. Only if you haven't eaten recently.

At last...

The truth comes out. The destruction of the Gulf Coast is all Ellen Degeneres' fault. I found it via the very fabulous Shakespeare's Sister, who found it on the way-too-cool TBogg.

Pat Robertson said:
“This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards,” Robertson explained to his approximately one million viewers. “America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

The first time, apparently, was 9-11.
Pat Robertson is a fucking idiot.

Behold the all-encompassing power of our lesbian sexuality. Tremble, weak-kneed and wanting, before us queers! BWahHahhAaahahahaaaaa!!!!

(Okay--the article is really satire. It's a fake. Robertson didn't actually say that stuff. The scary part is that it's completely believable that he would. *sigh*)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Another September 11

This is how my mother feels about the day JFK was killed. She was in Dallas that day.
She's said that the country seemed to change, after that. Things went inexplicably sour.

From a historical standpoint, I know that the pendulum swings back and forth, and September 11, 2001 was not really the beginning of this country's slide into the new dark age of neo-conservatism, anti-intellectualism, and get-whatcha-can and fuck the poor...but I think the events of that day hastened the slide.

And shame on us, for allowing it.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I was going to say...

I was going to write more about Katrina. More about the grief and anger and outrage and disgust I've been immersed in for the last two weeks.

Perhaps talk about Michael Brown being recalled to Washington, to prepare for Ophelia, now swirling around out in the Atlantic.

Or yet another villain, Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge saying, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Or, certainly more inspirational than Baker or Brown, 6 year old hero Deamonte Love.

It just seemed terribly self-indulgent, though, considering what the victims of the storm are going through. Besides, other bloggers are saying it all, and saying it better.

Meanwhile, the perfidy goes on. From the NY Times: "
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 - A three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled unanimously on Friday that President Bush had the authority to detain as an enemy combatant an American citizen who fought United States forces on foreign soil."

We can't afford to get too exhausted. We can't stop watching what happens. Because this administration has lots more people to kill, and the deaths of a few thousand of our poorer, more marginalized citizens mean precisely nothing to them. That's becoming more clear, every day.

Perhaps in another few days, I'll be able to think and say something intelligent about something else. Biodiesel and alternative energy sources. Or hope for an almost-forgotten endangered species. Or how the Red Cross first-aid class went. Something besides the smirking villainy residing in the White House.

I remember being a kid, and reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln. I was filled with profound admiration (and a blossoming but then-unrecognized love of history) and read every book about presidents that I could find in the little school library.

I understand very well that this administration's actions and attitudes will be fascinating, from a historical perspective. From a safe distance.

Sort of like Idi Amin.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Timeline of events Leading up to Katrina.
by Evan Derkacz -

Katrina Disaster timeline

Reports of the media being blocked - via Talk Left

Personal accounts from Inside the Astrodome - via BoingBoing

MSNBC Video - video editorial by Keith Olbermann

I'll say more about this link round up later, I'm sure. I had to take a step back for a couple of days. The grief and rage were on the verge of overwhelming me. Also, I had to do some work on the deck before the winter rain starts.

Because that's what we do, before the seasons change, right? We prepare. We reinforce. We replace that which is crumbling.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It goes on...

This is from today.
“One of the Worst Abandonments of Americans on American Soil Ever”
Crooks and Liars has the video.
Part of the transcript follows:
"The president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans, Aaron Broussard, just issued an emotional appeal on NBC’s Meet the Press. By the end, he was completely broken down, sobbing uncontrollably:
RUSSERT: You just heard the director of homeland security’s explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?
BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.

Broussard then discussed the difficulties local authorities had with FEMA, including one case where they actually posted armed guards to keep FEMA from cutting their communications lines (*MacNote--but don't miss the way that Russert tries to shift the blame onto Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco):
'Three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA, we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. When we got there with our trucks, FEMA says don’t give you the fuel. Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…

Finally, Broussard told the tragic personal story of a colleague, and broke down:

I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us...'"

We are surely damned, if we continue to attempt to rationalize or countenance this behavior on the part of our elected officials.

NOLA View Weblog


Celine Dion - you've got to watch the video.
Anita Roach -"Roach stood out as a beacon of beauty and strength against a backdrop of death and despair."
"Roach never stopped singing, never stopped smiling, never stopped comforting a crowd of some of the last of Hurricane Katrina’s victims to receive even a shred of assistance. She sang from her belly with a voice that could be heard down the block, drowning out cries for help and the rumble of National Guard trucks. One by one, family, friends complete strangers joined her, clapping and singing as she led them as she had choir director at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Bridge City..

"When this world
Is tossing me
Like a ship on the raging sea
Thou who rulest the winds and water
Stand by me, stand by me"

Bystander says song prevented possible rioting Song for broken souls Roach had arrived at the Convention Center to find a chaotic scene, where the only food or water or booze came from looters and people desperate to survive."

Marisol chef/owner Pete Vasquez -

"Chef Pete is still in New Orleans. Marisol is undamaged. Please help us to help others.

We can feed the hungry with your help.

Massive clean-up and rescue efforts are finally underway and all of those rescuers and remaining displaced New Orleanians are very hungry.

Chef Pete is co-ordinating with one of our specialty produce suppliers, who is now in exile in Texas. The two of them believe that they will be able to round up enough supplies to feed many people for many days & weeks, but only with your help."

(excerpted from an email sent to Chuck Taggart, posted on his blog Looka. You'll have to scroll down, I can't find the permalink.)

Jabbar Gibson - "Jabbar Gibson's first time behind the wheel of a school bus was spent transporting dozens of people from New Orleans to the Reliant Astrodome."

Ernest Washington - "While Thomas was figuring his family's fate that first night, little Ernest bolted to the rooftop.

He had fashioned a white flag on a piece of stick, and began waving. "That is one courageous boy," Thomas said.

A helicopter passed them by. A National Guard unit passed them by."

Derrick Trahan - "the world's maddest unofficial paramedic"
"The medic, Mr. Traham, said nine people have died in the centre named after Dutch Morial. They're kept in what everyone calls "the fridge." They were taken there, not by any authorities, not by police, but by the people who watched them die and wither away, and who now can hardly bear to remember that for a few days here, these strangers were family."

Lt General Russel Honore
- General Honore is quoted as saying,
"By-and-large, these are families that are just waiting to get out of here. They are frustrated; I would be, too. I get frustrated at the cash register counter when the paper runs out."

[From the CNN article linked]
Hundreds of National Guard and active duty troops are carrying weapons in the city. But the way they carried those guns was a concern to the general.

He ordered all he encountered to point their weapons down, said CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, who was with the general. Honore repeatedly went up to military vehicles, National Guardsmen standing sentry and even to New Orleans police officers, telling them to please point their weapons down and reminding them that they were not in Iraq.

I'll add to this as I find stories. Feel free to point to the stories YOU'VE heard, too.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chief Justice dead

Chief Justice William Rehnquist died this evening.

"We are you."

Anne Rice's NY Times statement, here.

Among other things, she says:

I know that New Orleans will win its fight in the end. I was born in the city and lived there for many years. It shaped who and what I am. Never have I experienced a place where people knew more about love, about family, about loyalty and about getting along than the people of New Orleans. It is perhaps their very gentleness that gives them their endurance.

They will rebuild as they have after storms of the past; and they will stay in New Orleans because it is where they have always lived, where their mothers and their fathers lived, where their churches were built by their ancestors, where their family graves carry names that go back 200 years. They will stay in New Orleans where they can enjoy a sweetness of family life that other communities lost long ago.

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

I don't have any links for this

My housemate (she's a dialysis and critical care nurse) just informed me that a doctor has managed to procure a New Orleans area Wa* Mart. He's setting it up to help the most medically compromised, out of that facility.

He only has five staffing volunteers so far, but she signed up to go. She goes on the hero list, too.

This is what it's going to take. We are going to have to do this ourselves.

I weep for New Orleans

Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light point out this story, at Respectful of Otters.

Why The Aid Wasn't There

The Red Cross has been ordered not to enter New Orleans with relief.
Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?
  • Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

  • The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
"Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city." See, and here you thought that tens of thousands of people spent the last few days trapped in the Superdome or the Convention Center without food, water, medical care, electric power, or basic sanitation, in constant fear of violence, surrounded by the unburied corpses of their fellow victims, because they couldn't evacuate. But all this time, they've been there by choice. If they had a Red Cross station distributing fresh water and sandwiches, they'd choose to stay in their fetid, corpse-riddled, life-threatening, lawless swamp of a city indefinitely. You know what those people are like, always sitting around waiting for a handout. Humanitarian aid just encourages them.

Yes, clearly, it's far better to evacuate Katrina's victims than to leave them in place in New Orleans. But when you can't get them all out right away - and they haven't even been able to finish evacuating the hospitals, much less the lower-priority evacuees - you need to provide aid in place. Immediately, not five days later. To willfully withhold basic life support from tens of thousands of desperate people because you think it will discourage evacuation is - actually, I have no words strong enough for what it is. Unconscionable. Morally depraved. A crime against humanity. Nothing seems strong enough.

How about "murder"?

One of the commenters at Making Light pointed out this report of people TRYING to evacuate...but being turned back.

So, what do we call it when thousands of people are trapped in a box, and we don't let them out, and we don't give them any food or water...?

*update: Feds refuse aid from Chicago, too. Reported from Talk Left.
**new update: Daily Kos has some frightening things to say about what begins to look less like incompetence, and more like systematic obstructionism.


Remember all those reports of widespread violence? Remember how it just wasn't safe to try and rescue or take relief into the city?

From Canada's The Globe and Mail:
"Everywhere Fred and I went yesterday, people came running up to us. They knew, by Fred's cameras, we were press. They knew we couldn't help. But they were so grateful that their story might be told (and, I believe, to see a couple of white people who were not afraid of them because of their skin colour) that they embraced us like friends.

Most of them were brought here, or told to come here, from the safe high ground of local highways where many of them spent days waiting for buses and help, after they were rescued from roofs and attics.

Nothing happens. Nothing changes. And yet as each new rumour arises of an army of buses on its way, they line up, orderly-like, their old people and babies up front and wait."

"Let Them Eat Cake..."

"Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." --George W. Bush, quoted in the Washington Post.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Rolling up our sleeves

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said last night:

...we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq, lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers -- lickety-quick -- to take care of New York and other places. Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of the oil is coming through... a place that is so unique, when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up... you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands people that have died, and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know I'm not one of those drug addicts, I am thinking very clearly. And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem. But somebody needs to get their ass on a plane, and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now."

The transcript is here--(from Friday, September 2.)

You can listen to the interview here, or if you have trouble with that link, the CNN link is here.

It is obvious at this point that our federal government is fucking useless, worthless, incompetent, and callous-to-the-point of criminality.

The Rude Pundit has this to say about the situation: "But the Bush adminstration has broken the basic social contract in New Orleans, the one that goes all the way back to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, the one that says we adhere to laws because you agree to protect us, and thus the city and its citizens have returned to the state of nature, which is to survive, motherfuckers, just survive."

He's absolutely, succinctly correct.

That observation isn't going to help a single human being, though. Moreover, it's no surprise.The help that has arrived in the Gulf Coast region is too fucking little, too fucking late, and god bless the men and women on the ground, there, doing the best they can with little support and apparently no effective command structure.

That means Americans are going to have to help each other as best we can, and deal with the massive, tragic, and internationally embarrassing failings of the Bush Administration later.

Right now, our own desperately need help.

The American Red Cross donation site

The American Red Cross volunteer match site

Network for Good: resources for non-profit organizations

USA Freedom Corps--volunteer network

Northwest Medical Teams, international

Very likely, local organizations in your own community are also mounting relief efforts. Please get involved. If you can't give money, or space in your house, give an hour or two of your time.


Another "I'm okay" registry some of these sites really need to combine their efforts. There are just too many to keep track of, of perform effectively.

Katrina Information map--this is an interactive and ongoing project.

Just a few disorganized thoughts.

The more I find out about just how very many people are affected by the hurricane disaster, the more I deeply believe that this moment in history will define us for a very long time to come--the same way the War Between the States defined generations of Americans, continuing all the way to the present.

This moment--more than 9/11 or Iraq, more than the Clinton impeachment, more than any thing that's happened since Vietnam--will determine more than we realize about what this country becomes in the future.

Now. What the fuck do we do about it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Listen up!

From Chuck Taggart's blog, Looka
"Listen to "Down Home" with me tonight.

I have to go into KCSN tonight and do a radio show that consists primarily of New Orleans music. [snip]

I'll have some New Orleans friends with me, and that'll be a comfort. And it'll be additionally comforting to know that some of my friends out there are listening too. Tune in at 7pm Pacific Time, locally at 88.5 FM or via the webcast at We'll let Kermit do the talking, all about "what is New Orleans"; we'll listen to Jack Fine and his Palmetto Bug Stompers; we'll listen to Louis singing about knowing what it means to miss New Orleans. Let's do it together."

So if y'all are somewhere you can listen to a webcast tonight--the party's at