Gray Flannel Dwarf

9/29/2005

On the Record

Tom DeLay, yesterday:

My defense in this case will not be technical or legalistic: it will be categorical and absolute.

We’ll hold you to that, Tom. No technicalities, no legalistic BS.

Also: Partisan, my ass. A five year-old could look at Earle’s record and know that this isn’t a partisan attack, you partisan hack.


cswiii @ 8:36 am

9/27/2005

Farm League

I played kickball Sunday.

This, in and of itself is no big news, as most people know. Prior to this year, I played three or four seasons up in various Northern Virginia WAKA divisions. This is, however, the first year they’ve gotten a (small) league going in The Triangle.

It shows, too.

I didn’t make the first game, and while I accept partial blame, I received no email from the team captain. Now, I don’t expect anyone to send out as many emails as I did when I captained a team, but an introductory mail would be nice.

Also, no one knows how to bunt.

The worst part is the reffing, though — there are no “full time” refs, at least not yet, so instead of supplementing the ref staff with players from neutral teams, it’s all neutral teams… and remember, these are all ‘rookies’.

That would explain why the ref standing on the foul side of first base called me out on my slide into second. To think I wasted a good and remarkably joelogonesque raspberry to get called out.

And the more I look at Joe’s leg there (umm), the more I realise how similar my injury is, right down to the bandage on the knee.

Overall, however, it was pretty fun. We lost 4-1, despite shutting the other team down 1-2-3 in at least two innings. I played 3B, and though showed a little rust (had one go through my legs…), it was a pretty good time. Too bad I didn’t feel like I could hit the bar, what with my travel schedules calling for early Sunday nights.


Tags: — cswiii @ 10:05 am

9/22/2005

A Moderate Shift(s).

For the longest time, there was an addressed, but unstamped, envelope sitting on my kitchen counter. About three weeks ago, it finally got dropped in the mail, and after years of avowed “independence” with regards to political parties, I am, as of last week or so, officially a Democrat.

Maybe to some this has been a long expected move — or perhaps a surprise that it wasn’t already done. But it took a lot of soul searching to do it. I had a knee-jerk reaction after the election and though about doing it then, but realised that would be a dumb reaction. I actually filled out the form and thought about mailing it in after Independence Day — with the symbolism of ‘rejecting my independent status’ vivid in my mind — but waited. When O’Connor announced her resignation, I had the thoughts again, but held back.

I don’t want to say that an act of God like Katrina and the blunders that followed which made me do it, and I am not sure they did, but shortly thereafter, I just felt like it was the right time.

Now, I have to be honest. Such a decision doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t ever vote for Republicans. I still consider myself middle of the road. Nor was this decision a reaction to GWB — at least not directly. It stems from the fact that the GOP itself has shifted so far to the right that “middle of the road” has shifted too. To be somewhere “middle of the road” between the left and today’s GOP is much further to the right than it used to be.

Today’s “middle” might be Repubs Voinovich, Chafee or the Dem Lieberman. Neocon bastions within the GOP already lambast John McCain and anyone from the GOP who might sympathise with the “Gang of Fourteen”. Meanwhile, even Pat Buchanan, whom some once considered more radical — and may still — is calling for Bush’s impeachment. This is a pretty good indication that there has been quite a shift in the GOP paradigm.

The new neocon-run GOP has totally backed away from its traditional virtues of small government, fiscal responsibility, individual privacy and benign foreign policy, despite the last of these being particularly espoused in Bush’s first inaugural speech. Years ago, my biggest fears about the GOP were “guns, tobacco, and the religious right”… and really it’s quite frightening to think that only one of those particularly scares me anymore.

The “old middle” now exists within the realms of the “left”… but it is the ever-fragmented left which needs to unify and welcome those disillusioned and politically abandoned persons. This is why I finally made the move to join the Democratic party. It was not (solely) a reaction to this President, nor necessarily his blunders over the past 4 1/2 years. It is a reaction against the overall political shift within the GOP which threatens not just left and right, but the nation as a whole.

I never joined a political party in the past, because I was quite dissatisfied with both. Now, however, I felt that if I really want to help thwart what I find to be a potentially destabilising force within American politics, I had to chose sides.

I’m a little nervous, but it feels good to be blue.


cswiii @ 11:31 am

9/20/2005

Female Body Investigators

From the WaPo: “Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against “manufacturers and purveyors” of pornography — not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.


Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography. The bureau decided to create a dedicated squad only in the Washington Field Office. “All other field offices may investigate obscenity cases pursuant to this initiative if resources are available,” the directive from headquarters said. “Field offices should not, however, divert resources from higher priority matters, such as public corruption.”

Public corruption, officially, is fourth on the FBI’s priority list, after protecting the United States from terrorist attack, foreign espionage and cyber-based attacks. Just below those priorities are civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime and “significant violent crime.” The guidance from headquarters does not mention where pornography fits in.

Yes, obviously we need to heed the warnings readily broadcast during Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction: If they are large enough, tits and asses will ravage our national resources!

So should there be another terrorist act, has the FBI been given an out? “Sorry, we were stretched to the breaking point, having placed numerous critical resources on a complicated sting operation involving Jenna Jameson, a can of Redi-Wip and a crate full of Chiquita bananas.”


cswiii @ 11:50 am

9/19/2005

Goofy

Tell me I didn’t hear GHWB, while sitting in on the MNF broadcast booth, reference his age-old phrase “thousand points of light”.

So silly.


cswiii @ 8:00 pm

9/17/2005

Mash-Up

Okay, let me be the first to say it. I don’t know if this was a local thing or whether it’s national, but the version of Green Day’s “When September Ends” that I heard on the radio in Detroit yesterday, the one mixed with all the hurricane Katrina sound bites, is terrible.

They did this years ago with Styx’s “Show Me the Way”, using Gulf War soundbites. Later on, they did it again with Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” and “Jerry Maguire

Now, the first one was alright, and it was kind of neat hearing an older song brought back in that way. The Jerry Maguire one was pretty bad, in all honesty — but at least it was related to the movie, i.e., it was on the soundtrack.

This “When September Ends/Katrina” mash-up, however, is a different story. I am wondering if it was done with the permission of the band — although I don’t think they’d care too much — because the album, and that song in particular, has a very certain focus and message; I wonder if they’d be disappointed in the notion that this might dilute it.

Artistically, though, the thing sucks, too. At least the first two mentioned tastefully chose sound bites and placed them at key points in the song. The recent one takes a chest full of sound clips and places them willy-nilly throughout the song, at every point where there’s a pause in the lyrics.

It’s pure cacaphony… with the emphasis on “caca”.

To whomever put this together — it was a nice idea, okay? However, it’s been done at least twice before, and they were done in a far more tasteful manner.


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 9:29 am

9/14/2005

Terra Era

E.J. Dionne’s column, “End of The Bush Era” does a decent job in illustrating just how far out of touch Bush is with most of the United States. Yes, people have interests that span the political spectrum, but the battles Bush has sought and fought haven’t, for the most part, been those issues which concern many Americans as much. Likewise, when issues come along that do concern the lot of us, he’s appeared as indecisive and ineffectual.

If Bush had understood that his central task was to forge national unity, as he seemed to shortly after Sept. 11, the country would never have become so polarized. Instead, Bush put patriotism to the service of narrowly ideological policies and an extreme partisanship. He pushed for more tax cuts for his wealthiest supporters and shamelessly used relatively modest details in the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security as partisan cudgels in the 2002 elections.

He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration’s strong suits.

And so the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had by then penetrated the country’s consciousness. Yesterday’s resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.

The source of Bush’s political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush’s calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans.

Meanwhile, I was flipping through the channels last night, and saw none other than Bill O’Reilly questioning just what this White House was doing. Referencing (I think) border security, Iraq, gas prices and now Katrina, he mentioned that Bush had done a pretty piss-poor job with all of these. He had Gingrich on, who mentioned that Bush had a chance to turn his legacy around if he handled things right with Katrina, to which O’Reilly responded something to the effect of, “Well, I think you’re a whole lot more optimistic than me.” Now, this isn’t to say that O’Reilly is turning into a raging blue nut, but it more evidence of the erosion of Bush support within his own ranks as seen in polls.

I don’t understand how anyone these days would continue to prop Bush up. Well, honestly I can’t figure out why anyone would’ve for the past few years anyway — but to keep doing it? Is there one thread of decency or progress that has come out of this current administration? Is there anything that this adminstration has undertaken, under good pretenses or not, that has succeeded at anything other than expanding the trenches (and pockets) of a great cronyism? Certainly not, and anyone who can still bring themselves to defend the administration and/or its actions is delusional.


cswiii @ 12:32 pm

9/11/2005

Top News: Bush not found

So I decided to take a look at the GOP website today to see if they’d ever decided to put anything else up meaningful re: Katrina. They hadn’t. However, what I saw was amusing.

I went to the GOP page and saw this:

On the GOP webpage, there is currently a “broken image” for their “Top News” tab.

Well, I thought that was interesting. I decided to see what was missing, so I right-clicked on the image location to view it.

It returns a 404 – File Not Found. Well, the image link in question is supposed to go to a picture of Bush:

http://www.gop.com/images/0909bush.jpg

On behalf of everyone I’d like to thank the GOP for admitting to, and illustrating a point that we’ve all been very realizant of in the Katrina aftermath. Bush isn’t there.

A fly-by and a photo-op don’t constitute compassion, Mr. President.


cswiii @ 9:53 am

9/9/2005

Oh, yuck.

From the London Times (UK) Online: “Business elite hopes for a future without the poor

COULD the new New Orleans be a place of low poverty, low crime, good schools and minimal racial tension? Some affluent exiles, all white, hope so. In a private meeting in Dallas yesterday they urged the mayor, Ray Nagin, to embrace a controversial vision that could transform the city from a Democratic stronghold into a Republican one.


Most of the 100,000 residents who lived on or near the poverty line, have been removed. Thousands have found jobs and homes elsewhere. Some will never return, and this historic shift is being built into projections for the future.“About half the dispersed population is likely never to come back,” Mary Comerio of the University of California at Berkeley said. “It will change the character of New Orleans.”

From the Hartford Courant: “Fashionable Uptown Neighborhoods Hanging On

The power elite of New Orleans – whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. – insist the remade city won’t simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Reiss said, with better services and fewer poor people. “Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way,” he said. “I’m not just speaking for myself here. The way we’ve been living is not going to happen again, or we’re out.”

Can you imagine New Orleans without its vast diversity?

Goodbye blues clubs, goodbye jazzmasters; au revoir to R&B, creole and zydeco. They’d all be replaced by the amalgamated din of thudding techno beat, Papa Roach and Barry Manilow.

The dingy, dusky music bars replaced with strip malls and Applebees. You might hear the occasional, distant strains of New Orleans music, only to realize it’s been bastardised to fit the elevator muzak for stacks of condos.

Ugh.


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 12:20 pm

I should be a meteorologist.

I looked at CNN.com this morning, only to see this article:
Retreating Ophelia could still loop back to land

A few days ago, I said the same thing – that this storm looked like it was just stalling there and I kinda wondered out loud if it was going to loop around like Gordon did in 1994.

Strangely enough, I also suspected Very Bad Things about Katrina too, before it made landfall the first time in Florida. I saw those bands of 90 degree water along the gulf coast, and just somehow knew we were in for a bad situation — assuming Katrina were to survive its trek across FL, which of course it did.


cswiii @ 9:09 am

9/6/2005

Chiefly Speaking…

… I can’t help but wonder if Scalia is a little bit miffed.

I know that, historically speaking, prior experience as an associate justice doesn’t necessarily indicate any more likelihood that one becomes CJ… that is, historically, there have been several Chief Justices with no prior Supreme Court experience.

I just keep wondering if this bruised Scalia’s ego at all. Maybe, maybe not.

Meanwhile, here’s a meme to play with. Look at all those pictures of boyish Roberts, whose true opinions on things are arguably unknown, and try… just try to shake this notion:

“John Roberts: Chief Boyardee”


cswiii @ 3:04 pm

9/1/2005

The reality-detached community

From Reuters: Bush warns against looting, gas price gouging.

The article contains this fine gem of a quote that was, apparently, reiterated in an interview with Diane Sawyer:

He defended the federal government’s response so far to the growing crisis amid urgent pleas for help from stranded victims. He said the breach of the levees that led to the submerging of much of New Orleans had not been anticipated.

Breach of the levees not anticipated? Is this guy on back on the white stuff again? This has been known for years (search for “standring”), and they have been trying to build things up to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Of course, the fact that money initially earmarked to aid this project was diverted to fund the “war on terrah” didn’t help things any.

FEMA wasn’t alone in cutting hurricane spending in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Federal flood control spending for southeastern Louisiana has been chopped from $69 million in 2001 to $36.5 million in 2005, according to budget documents. Federal hurricane protection for the Lake Pontchartrain vicinity in the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget dropped from $14.25 million in 2002 to $5.7 million this year. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu requested $27 million this year.

Both the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper and a local business magazine reported that the effects of the budget cuts at the Army Corps of Engineers were severe.

In 2004, the Corps essentially stopped major work on the now-breached levee system that had protected New Orleans from flooding. It was the first such stoppage in 37 years, the Times-Picayune reported.

I thought the GOP was the party of ‘fiscal responsibility’. Right. One basic fact of fiscal responsibility is that you don’t spend on things you can’t afford to fund. The very fact that money was taken away from natural disaster prevention and recovery efforts, the fact that the federal government scrimped and pinched off enough from programmes like these, to fund some irrational war in the middle east is unforgivable. Going to war in the middle east was bad enough. Going to war on “borrowed money” like this is a disgusting notion.


cswiii @ 10:04 am