Wednesday, May 31, 2006


pennsylvania senator rick santorum doesn't live in pennsylvania

man, this is classic. i swear i didn't make it up. (with additional background info from a philadelphia inquirer reporter):
Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore ... his home is in Virginia with his wife and children ... the house [in Penn Hills] was vacant, with no curtains or furniture...
yet another of the many reasons to wash away all traces of santorum from the deep dark bowels of dc...

Monday, May 29, 2006


nine months later .... they're still finding bodies in new orleans !!!

how fucked up is that? from ashley morris' blog:
They're still finding bodies. How unfuckingbelievable is that? They're still finding bodies.

We are not Americans. America has totally, completely and summarily abandoned us. This kind of shit has never happened before. Never. And it happened on Bush's watch; that fuckmook is fucking responsible for putting a dipshit in charge of FEMA, and for making it a subsidiary of the ironically named department of homeland security. His administration is responsible for making us beg for the levees which THEY OWN AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR to be repaired. And he goes on vacation.

Nobody in Washington fucking cares.

We are on our own.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


a superhero for siberia

a beautiful day at the shore, but the water was still way too cold for swimming. however, judging by all the kids in the water, i guess comfort must be a subjective kind of thing ... in fact, just see for yourself, as our society's newest role model reveals his secret identity to the world this weekend:
I was standing at the edge of history two weeks ago, ready to plunge into the frozen waters of a lake beneath Nigards Glacier in Norway in a bid to set a new world record for the longest swim in ice water. A long white tongue of ice stretched down a narrow valley and stopped abruptly in front of the half-frozen lake. It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth.

My team had spent two days cutting a 700-meter-long channel across the lake, just wide enough to get a support boat to a small, turquoise piece of water at the foot of the glacier. I was wearing only a Speedo, a swimming cap and goggles in accordance with English Channel Swimming Association rules.

[damn those british and all their pesky rules...]

And this time, there were no polar bears, leopard seals, crocodiles or great white sharks to worry about. Nevertheless, I was afraid.

[cue dramatic music here]

Hypothermia could just as easily have destroyed my chances of success. A cardiac surgeon and English Channel swimmer once warned me that it was impossible to swim for any length of time in water that is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. "A normal person will be disabled within seconds," he said, "and dead within two or three minutes."

But my view is that nothing is impossible.

[cue patriotic music here]

On my side was the fact that whenever I see cold water, my body instinctively raises its core temperature from 98 degrees to 101 degrees. That may sound insignificant, but in thermo-regulation terms, it is critical. Before I get into icy water, my body is a furnace. It has confounded scientists and earned me the nickname ...

[drumroll, please]

...the Ice Bear...
with that, a super-hero is born ... faster than a penguin ... with a heart colder than dick cheney... able to swim through ice-cubes in a single stroke ... it's a fish, it's a walrus, it's ... the ice bear!

Friday, May 26, 2006


we need more ellen degenereses !

ellen degeneres has been hanging out back in her old hometown of new orleans. not only did she have a brief cameo at tulane's graduation (along with the "grumpy old ex-presidents" tour), she's been featuring stories on new orleans' horrendously slow pace of recovery. the videos on the site are great. watch them.

now we need to get oprah to go down, too...


good news from sudan?

we can only hope... maybe the united nations will help stabilize things somewhat.
NAIROBI, 26 May (IRIN) - A joint United Nations-African Union assessment team will head to Sudan's troubled Darfur region to determine how to strengthen the current AU mission in Sudan (AMIS) and to lay the groundwork for a possible transition to a UN peacekeeping force, a UN diplomat said.

"We agreed that in the coming days the United Nations and the African Union will send a joint assessment mission to Sudan," [UN Special Envoy] Brahimi told reporters in Sudan's capital, Khartoum. "It will then proceed to Darfur to assess the additional needs of AMIS, which must be immediately strengthened, since it will have the initial responsibility of facilitating the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.
... despite the peace deliberations, "all parties continued to engage in totally unacceptable levels of violence and despicable attacks against civilians in breach of humanitarian law and earlier ceasefire commitments."
Raiders from Sudan have killed more than 100 villagers in Chad, Human Rights Watch reported Thursday, and the group expressed concern that the violence in Darfur was spreading...
od yavo shalom aleinu, v'al kulam.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


how oreo cookies can save america..

flash animation via ben cohen, formerly of ben and jerrys. click here.

yum. and they're kosher, too.

Monday, May 22, 2006


louisiana politics: why did nagin win?

man, trying to wade into and figure out new orleans politics gets so damn complicated!

this is where i'm at right now... [and a heads-up that this post is a little long]

so first there was ray nagin, an african-american cable tv executive, who was elected 4 years ago after marc morial, another african-american mayor, was term-limited. marc's father, dutch morial, had previously been mayor. both morials had been accused of corruption. conservative whites especially didn't like them. but the city hadn't had a white mayor since moon landreiu.

now when moon was mayor, he was instrumental in reducing segregation, and including african-americans in city government. many whites didn't like that. and still don't. they refer to moon's tenure as the beginning of the "decline of new orleans" which sounds like code to me:
I submit that the anti-Mitch sentiment stems largely from residual white resentment at Moon's desegregation of city government. It speaks directly to the identity issue for white New Orleanians who, to this day, believe their New Orleans began to crumble the day "those people" took over. Some whites will vote against Mitch because of their racially-based suspicion of the "Landrieu clan". Others will vote for Nagin because they know he will tend to favor developers in the fight over who ultimately is allowed to return. In other words, a significant portion of the white vote will go to the black candidate specifically out of racial animosity towards the black population. Meanwhile Nagin will continue to enjoy an overwhelming share of the black vote. The reason: Black racial anxiety.
ok, back to nagin. when he 1st ran for mayor, he was supported by the white establishment. the black vote was split. his administration is considered to be scandal free, but beyond that i'm not sure. this article from the times picayune, indicates that nagin has just as many connections to corrupt politicians as anyone else in louisiana. in any case, after katrina, with nagin's blaming of bush and chocolate city speech, the white conservatives didn't like him as much. or they liked him even more, because he was there as the piñata for them all to blame. in any case the conservatives hated mitch landreiu.

after the primary left them with the choice of either nagin or landreiu, nagin became preferable once again - the lesser of two evils. because he was a republican in democratic clothing, he was "one of the good ones", or because they thought it would be better for the next governors race to have nagin in office as opposed to mitch:
The "Oyster-Adrastos" theory is that many Louisiana Repubs want to help re-elect Nagin so that they can use him, in Oyster's memorable phrase, as a useful idiot for the GOP to pound on in next year's statewide election. Nagin defeating Mitch would also have the side benefit of damaging Landrieu as a statewide candidate for either re-election or the governorship. The GOP thinks that the combination of Nagin and Gov. Blanco is its ticket to taking control of state government next year.
interesting. and this theory also may explain why republican mayoral candidate rob couhig endorsed nagin after the primary:
Anyway, Couhig was told that if he was a good boy and endorsed Nagin for Mayor that a strong effort, including oodles of money, would be made to clear the Repub field so that Couhig would succeed [Republican rep. Bobby Jindall] in Congress. This makes perfect sense: Couhig ran for the seat when it came open after Bob Livingston left Congress because he couldn't keep his pants zipped up. It's also a safe Republican seat.
that goes for other big republican donors, too.

at the same time, nagin has seemed to make up with bush, enough at least to give him a shout out in his acceptance speech last night. is it as simple as kissing the hand that controls the federal purse strings, their bonding over being "misunderstood" by the media and other "similarities"?

or, maybe it's all just as simple as harry shearer so clearly puts it:
Mitch Landrieu, the challenger to once and future incumbent Ray Nagin, ran like a Democrat.

If there was ever a time to put the courtesy aside, this was it. Landrieu's approach reminded me, sitting here in D.C. for the weekend, of nothing so much as Kerry's in 2004: assuming that voters will fill in the blanks, not daring to express the anger that animated his base lest he offend those at the margins.
ouch. that hurt. he goes on:
If you don't give the voters a passionately lucid reason why the incumbent needs to be unseated, you can't blame them for pausing at the switch. Race will undoutedly get the blame, but Landrieu might well have looked at one of Nagin's other primary opponents, white conservative Rob Couhig, for a primer on how to frame a passionately lucid attack on the incumbent. BTW, Couhig endorsed Nagin in the runoff.
wow, my brain's tired. it's time for bed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


what color is your chocolate?

maybe new orleans is just like a giant-sized bag of m&ms: brown, yellow, red, green, blue, orange, and just a little bit of green (must be the mold...). sometimes things can be nutty, but that just adds to its flavor. you gotta remember that there's nestle's white chocolate, the same as there's hershey's extra dark. tasty chocolate comes in all varieties.

see, now wouldn't you like to be a chocolate city, too?

mazel tov, ray nagin, you won, here's looking at you. but now it's time to re-build some levees. right now. let's get to it... hold your new buddy bush's feet to the fire.


who knew?

apparently microsoft likes people having access to cheap gas. how about that? just click and enter your zip code.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


organic vs. local; the eco-kosher smackdown

turns out, it's all good. while i was hoping for a definitive answer from this feel-good article -- by the end of the article, i do actually feel good about myself and my consumer food shopping choices:
So what's my advice? Think about what you're buying. If you want local food, buy local. If you want organic, buy organic. The point is to make a conscious choice, because as we insert our values into the market, businesses respond and things change. There's power in what we do collectively, so is there any reason to limit it unnecessarily?
just as long as you don't buy your organic produce from walmart. chas v' chalila, that you should think of such a thing. pu pu pu!


wwktfd - what would kermit the frog drive?

what do you think, should kermit be selling suvs? even if ford's hybrid sales have gone up 50%, and they're better than other suvs that people buy, i still think it's a little creepy. some things should be sacred. see for yourself:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


president al gore

via, click below for al gore's snl skit, with the alternate presidential reality, that opened the show on saturday. very bittersweet - funny and sad at the same time.

so what does this mean for 2008?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


voting machine problems in pennsylvania

this doesn't bode well for november...
In Philadelphia, Deputy City Commissioner Edward Schulgen said more than 100 of the city's approximately 3,500 machines were not working when voting began.

"We've been busting our chops from the first opening of the polls," Schulgen said.

He also said the problems were likely due to human error. Either poll workers started the machines wrong in the morning or mechanics tightened screws inside the machines too tightly.

At least one machine was still functioning in most divisions, he said, but about 20 polling places were without machines for a portion of the day. Voters were given provisional ballots.

Bernard Bibbs, judge of elections in Germantown, was monitoring elections at St. Francis of Assisi when both of the polling place's machines sputtered out. He said they were down from about 7 to 11 a.m.

"Some people went home without voting," he said. "It was kind of shocking."

This article from the inquirer mostly talks about philadelphia county, which is not one of the 16 counties who began to use new diebold machines today. philadelphia uses older "push button" machines (danaher 1242), which also seem to have a lousy record from what I can tell. anyone here know if they have a verified paper trail?

these types of incompetence-related problems, combined with whatever diebold-related hijinks may occur in november, make me very nervous.... very nervous indeed.

although, with new blood in harrisburg...

State Sen. Robert Jubelirer, (R., Blair), the state's longest-serving president pro tempore, conceded defeat to Blair County Commissioner John Eichelberger, who led in a three-way primary.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, (R., Lebanon) who helped pass the legislative pay raise that spurred an anti-incumbency movement, conceded his loss shortly before 10 p.m. He was defeated by Mike Folmer
there may be hope for the long-stalled paper-ballot bill:
There has been voter-verified paper ballot legislation pending in the General Assembly for months (HB 2000, SB 977) and it's blocked in committee somewhere, dooming Pennsylvanians to vote on unverifiable, unsecure machines.

Friday, May 12, 2006


el-al: "america is incompetent, we'd rather do it ourselves"

Michael Boyd, a former airline security official, said, "The Israelis know darn well that our bomb detecting equipment doesn't work and that the people in charge of airport security don't know what they're doing."
via the new york times . it seems that el-al, the national airline of israel, doesn't trust the bomb scanning wherewithall of the transportation security administration. they'd rather do things themselves.

makes me want to jump in a plane right now. nice to see those tax dollars truly at at work.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


update on new orleans landfill

it's been given a 72 hour reprieve:
Mayor Ray Nagin agreed Wednesday to close a controversial construction and demolition landfill in eastern New Orleans for 72 business hours to give environmental and community groups a chance to test the debris that has been dumped there and determine whether it poses hazards to nearby residents as well as to the adjacent Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

More importantly, in the view of landfill opponents, Nagin promised to close the site if testing shows "harm" to nearby communities and to push the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - which is supervising the removal of Hurricane Katrina debris - to allow nighttime hauling of construction detritus to previously existing landfills outside the city.

"The shutdown will automatically end (after 72 hours), but we're not going to let (the landfill) go forward if we sense that there are any concerns from experts as far as it being harmful to the community," Nagin said. "If reports show that this material is toxic, we will shut it down."
this is a good first step. background info is on my earlier post at dailykos.

there's also a good video story up on the nytimes website.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


al gore for president?

i don't know... but i've been hearing some buzz. he's got a new documentary out on global warming, and people are talking and blogging.

what do you think, gore-feingold, gore-obama, gore-clinton? we need someone in 2008 who won't be afraid to "go to the mattresses" against the bushes...
if you’ll be my bodyguard
i can be your long lost pal
i can call you betty
and betty when you call me
you can call me al

Monday, May 08, 2006


from bad to worse in darfur

this is what happens when 100,000 people run out of food...
KALMA CAMP, Sudan, May 8 -- An African Union official was hacked to death in this vast, squalid camp today after his post, manned by an unarmed team of eight civilian police officers, was overrun and looted by a mob of angry demonstrators.

The discontent bubbled in a concoction of frustrations. Conditions had gotten worse in the past month, and this month, residents will get half as much food because the World Food Program, short of money, was forced to cut aid.
let me make myself clear, that i'm not defending this horrendous, brutal, unprovoked attack on an african union translator. but if something doesn't happen, this is barely the beginning of what we're going to see.
Conditions have deteriorated in Kalma, one of the oldest and largest camps, since the Norwegian Refugee Council, an aid group, was evicted by Sudanese authorities. Government officials claim that the organization was allowing the rebels and criminals to flourish in the camp, but crime has increased since the agency left, people here said.

"We have no food, no safety," said Halima Muhammed Abakar, who has lived here for three desperate years. "Yesterday, four women were raped when they went to get firewood. We are so afraid."

"Since we arrived we don't have any access to food, to water, to any health service," said Sheikh Ahmed Khalil Muhammed, who fled to this camp with 160 families from a village nearby in March. They arrived two days before the Norwegian group was kicked out, and since then they have been living outdoors.

"No one has come to check on us," Mr. Muhammed told Mr. Egeland. "We have become desperate."

If conditions do not improve soon, Mr. Egeland said, "Kalma is a powder keg."
so, what can we do?

1. contact your members of congress, urge full funding of sudanese peace-keepers in the supplemental spending bill, and to speed up the conference committee on the darfur peace and accountability act. info on these bills are on AJWS's website.

2. call the white house comment line, 202-456-6111, and urge bush to continue his efforts in promoting a un darfur mission. the u.s. doesn't plan to send its own soldiers and has asked the governments of china, india, pakistan, egypt and algeria to contribute troops to such a peacekeeping force. bush is sending condi to talk to the un tomorrow


anyone with ideas, please comment below, or at the cross-post at kos.


new orleans is a mess ... and which landfill should it go to?

this just sucks - apparently the current solution for moldy debris from new orleans is to put it in a big un-lined landfill, in the middle of a vietnamese-american neighborhood and the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country. from the ny times:
Block after block, neighborhood after neighborhood, tens of thousands of hurricane-ravaged houses here rot in the sun, still waiting to be gutted or bulldozed. Now officials have decided where several million tons of their remains will be dumped: in man-made pits at the swampy eastern edge of town, out by the coffee-roasting plant and the space-shuttle factory and the big wildlife refuge.

But more than a thousand Vietnamese-American families live less than two miles from the edge of the new landfill. And they are far from pleased at having the moldering remains of a national disaster plunked down nearby, alongside the canal that flooded their neighborhood when Hurricane Katrina surged through last year.
the story continues in my diary over at daily kos.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


"gone fishing" ... a metaphor for a presidency

i swear this is from reuters and not from the onion ...

bush: “i would say the best moment of all [my presidency] was when i caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake”

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

Bush said the worst moment was September 11 when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

"In such a situation it takes a while before one understands what is happening," Bush said. "I would say that this was the hardest moment, once I had the real picture before my eyes."

Because Bild could not immediately furnish English quotes, Bush's comments were translated from the German. The paper said the White House planned to release an authorised English version of the interview on Monday

Saturday, May 06, 2006


the lost art of wasting time

    putting everything off

    the objectives for the day lean against sagging fences now
    the shovels and hoes are covered in dew
    parking tickets from places barely remembered go
    unpaid another day
    tax forms from years i'm not sure i ever lived
    slip a day closer to being forgotten
    along with letters stamped but never mailed
    their thoughts obsolete - their news old
    lone socks and quarters are hiding out in the dust
    under the bed like the strays that won't go in

    here are the windows i once thought of as dirty
    but that was an old list of things not done
    their dirtiness is relative now
    to the other urgent tasks left undone
    and therefore, not very dirty any more

    may we always have mountains of things that have to be fixed
    acres of the unfinished
    let us hear as long as we can
    the kitchen faucet that drips all day
    with its one inscrutable syllable,
    and let us have joyous screen doors
    with a rip in the corner like this,
    an amusement ride the flies dive through
    while the moon glowers down
    and the stacks of things not done
    grow beautifully deep

    by david tucker, managing editor of the new jersey star ledger, whose new book, late for work was featured on fresh air on May 2.

it's the perfect shabbat afternoon poem...


bush is killing hurricane recovery unit of americorps

cross-posted at dkos.

just in from the times-picayune, Bush and pals are thinking of disbanding part of americorps: the national civilian community corps (nccc):
NCCC members, trained in first aid and team building, were among the first federal relief groups sent to the Gulf Coast, arriving within a day of Katrina's impact, officials said. Numbering as many as 300 at a time in Louisiana, and working in teams of about 10 members, they have tackled a litany of tasks in the New Orleans area, including house gutting, house building, delivering food, setting up a warehouse for donated household items and coordinating other volunteers. The NCCC, with workers ranging in age from 18 to 24, has provided more than 500,000 hours of service to post-Katrina recovery projects, officials said.

AmeriCorps officials don't see a conflict between eliminating the NCCC, which began in 1992, and the president's call for more volunteers during a visit to New Orleans last week. "If you're interested in helping the victims of Katrina, if you want to help them get back on their feet, then come on down to New Orleans," Bush said in the Lower 9th Ward.

Ben Brubaker, a former AmeriCorps volunteer in Georgia who now runs a relief kitchen in St. Bernard Parish with the help of NCCC teams, said the program brings good leadership to myriad volunteer efforts. Other AmeriCorps volunteers sent in from around the country aren't as flexible as the NCCC members, and can't stay as long, because they remain tied to service missions elsewhere, he said.

NCCC members, who call themselves "long-term volunteers," receive lodging, transportation and small daily stipends as they look forward to AmeriCorps' standard scholarship of $4,725 at the end of 10 months of service. They typically spend weeks at a time on any one assignment in the storm region.
the article says that bush (and potentially the bush-appointed americorps lackeys) are complaining about the high cost of this program:
...the notion, now under debate in Washington, D.C., that the disaster-response program responsible for the gutting team, the National Civilian Community Corps, should be disbanded. President Bush is advancing the idea in his proposed budget for next year, following criticism by the Office of Management and Budget of the program's $27,859 per-participant cost.
fine, when looking at that number out of context, it may seem high, but $27,859 seems like the annual figure, including food, living expenses, tools/supplies, and the scholarship/tuition stipend. if so, it suddenly doesn't sound like very much money after all.

how much does each soldier in iraq cost us? compared to hiring contracters to do the work (a la haliburton) this is pennies to their dollar. fine, maybe there is a more cost effective way to provide relief, but c'mon, does anyone here really trust this administration to come up with that?

the bigger picture here is "what the hell is our plan? remember everyone that hurricane season begins june 1 !!". 3 1/2 weeks until another potential hurricane katrina somewhere in florida or the gulf coast. are we ready?

for the short term until we design a better overall system, we need to rely on the parts of the government that actually work, and that have a solid track record of getting stuff done. the nccc is a good program, with idealistic young adults, who have the time and inclination to want to help. they should be nurtured, not fired.

and does anyone need reminders of all the work that still needs to be done in new orleans -- who wants to head south and gut a home? i've got a tyvek suit with your name on it...

Friday, May 05, 2006


urge the media to cover darfur

one of the biggest hurdles to solving the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur is to inform the american public what's going on.

nbc has started to cover it, with the today show sending ann curry, as well as a sudan plot-line on er (wasn't that a good episode last night!) the next step is to get the rest of the msm to jump onto the bandwagon.

click here on ajws's website to send a quick email to the producers at abc, cbs, cnn and fox news, urging them to follow nbc's lead and inform the american public about the ongoing dire situation.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


another take on the evacuation plan

or rather, fema's rebuilding guidelines:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


the common sense award of the week

goes to new orleans mayor ray nagin - who says that in the likely event of a future hurricane, new orleans will evacuate its citizens by bus and train:
The new emergency preparedness plan, a work in progress, will not include the opening of the Superdome as a refuge of last resort.

Instead, the city, state and federal government will participate in an effort to move an estimated 10,000 residents without transportation to state shelters outside the area by bus or Amtrak train. The train will be reserved for “special needs” residents with medical conditions and the elderly.
i wonder how many hours of meetings it took to come up with this plan? i guess it must have taken a lot of time to design the big fancy flow charts:

they have multiple colors and everything!