Trying To Maintain Rationality

Thursday, September 29, 2005

In Case Any Of My Thousands Of Readers Didn't Already Understand The Effects Of Texas' 2002 Congressional Redistricting...

Okay, okay -- there's more like ten of you. =(

But I love the ten of you as if you were my own!


A December 8, 2003, New Yorker Magazine article by Jeffrey Toobin (reprinted here on describes, essentially, how a sneaky fucker like Tom DeLay an elected official can drive an effort to redraw a state's congressional district maps... with the intended effect of marginalizing opposing votes, which in turn helps ensure that the "redistricting party" maintains legislative seats.

If you find the four page article hard to follow (which you won't, my 10 smartypantsed pals) the set of 4 popup maps -- in the right-hand column -- truly drives home the idea behind clever redistricting.

Judith Miller Just Released

Apparently Judith Miller was released from jail this afternoon... just after a visit* telephone call from Scooter Libby. Hmm!


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Just Heard A Retard On The Radio Assert That Tom DeLay Wasn't Named In Today's Indictment

Uh. This one's for you, sugartits:


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Society Worse Off With Theism

From one of today's articles:

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

No way!

First Lady... To Appear On... Reality TV Show... At Mississippi Shelter... For Hurricane Victims...

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." ...


... jesus h motherfucking christ

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yeah, This Oughta Go Over Well In The Muslim World

The U.S. military has discharged so many bullets in both Iraq and Afghanistan that -- get this; one can't make this shit up -- it's about to import ammo from Israel.

Americans killing Arabs with Jewish bullets. Great P.R. move.

What's next? Will the President call this a "Crusade" or... something even more... uh...

*wait* n/m

Superdome Violence Was Ridiculously Overstated

Soooooo... you chuck ~30,000 destitute people into a ratty old football dome and...nothing really happens.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.

State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been murdered inside the stadium.


The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

Huh. The way Fox News told it, "The Negroes" were rioting 24-7.

What a silly network!

Mo' Money Mo' Money Mo' Money

Throwing money at Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seems to have been an almost-hilarious waste of resources worked so far, right?

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Iraqis Demand A US Withdrawl"

The latest issue of The Nation has a great article (penned by David Enders) regarding the truth of the United States' Coalition Of The Willing's occupation of Iraq... and how the majority of Iraqis truly feel.


In fact, with the notable exception of the Kurdish population, support for the American military among Iraqis is virtually nonexistent two and a half years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government. Before January's elections, polls taken by Sadoun Dulaimi (now the country's defense minister) indicated that 85 percent of Iraqis wanted a US withdrawal "as soon as possible." On a recent trip to the country, this journalist found that dissatisfaction with the occupation has, if anything, grown.

There are a litany of reasons for this, from the postinvasion looting that occurred as US soldiers sat idle, to the abuses in Abu Ghraib prison, to the flattening of Falluja and the ongoing operations along the Euphrates River in the western part of Iraq, which inflict widespread destruction and casualties among the local population while failing to remove resistance fighters. Added to this is the frustrating lack of improvement in basic services like water and electricity and the fact that wherever US troops patrol, insurgent attacks and civilian loss of life are sure to follow...

Wow! Exactly like the MSM and this administration always tell it! ::rolleyes:: Hey Mister Bush: if 51% is a mandate then what the fuck is 85% and growing?

BTW - Looks like it's a subcription-only article. Why don't you have a subscription, already? Huh?!


Seriously. What's your problem? =P

"Good Night, And Good Luck"

"Good Night, And Good Luck" was Edward R. Murrow's radio and television broadcast signoff. Now it's also the title of a feature film (official website here) which reenacts a showdown between the news media and former Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy.

From the site:
'Good Night, And Good Luck.' takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950's America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff - headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom - defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist 'witch-hunts'. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental.

You can see that a talented ensemble cast was assembled for this film. Interestingly, McCarthy's onscreen 'performance' is not performed by any actor -- rather it's comprised solely of historical footage of himself.

Given today's sociopolitical evironment of fear and its potential/actual effect on media I can only note that this is a very timely film, indeed. I'm going to see this one the day it comes out. Hopefully it's in a nearby theater -- it's scheduled for limited release on Friday, October 7th.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Republicans Care For Air Force Veterans

Just kidding.

They actually hate you. Why do you armed service guys/gals support these clowns when all they do is screw you from every direction?...

I'm pretending for a moment that more than 10 people actually read this blog -- just indulge me, eh?

Anyhow. According to the Air Force Times:
A group of House Republicans have proposed a plan to offset the costs of relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina that includes trimming military quality-of-life programs, including health care.
Possible sources of funding cuts to free up money for Katrina relief include reduced health benefits, consolidation of the three military exchange systems and the closure of the military’s stateside school system...

Frankly, if *I* were in the military and was "welcomed home" by this crap?...


Ya know.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Speaking Of Thieves...

From Reuters, just a few hours ago:
Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, former top Tyco International Ltd. executives who were found guilty of stealing more than $150 million from the company, were each sentenced on Monday to 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus also ordered the men to pay restitution to the company of around $134 million combined. Kozlowski was also fined $70 million and Swartz was fined $35 million by the state...

Um. I'm sorry, but doesn't that mean they pocketed a minimum of $16 million dollars between them, for stealing? =|

[shaking head]

What a joke. *sigh*

The good news, though?

They were taken to a downtown Manhattan detention center known as "the Tombs" before their expected transfer in a few days to Riker's Island, a New York City jail facility where their fellow inmates will include violent offenders like rapists and murderers.

Let the salad tossing begin.

We *Are* Exporting American Democracy!

Iraq's Finance Minister Ali Allawi told the British newspaper The Independent that at least $1 Billion, and possibly up to $2 Billion, is missing from their treasury due to... [*ta-daaaaa*]... massive corruption.

Corruption, both in the bidding for and the awarding of contracts, and in the administration of public offices, is one of the most frequent accusations made by Iraqis against their government and foreign firms operating in the country.

Some of the worst allegations of impropriety concern the purchasing of military equipment by the defense ministry under the previous government, including more than $230 million spent on 28-year-old second-hand Polish helicopters.

Damn -- these guys got their learn on, real fast.

Our administration has done a swell job teaching those folks how to bilk, cheat, plunder, defraud, fleece, bleed, chisel, defraud, gyp, hustle, rook, shortchange, skin, squeeze, swindle, victimize, extort, wring, gouge, overcharge, soak, exploit, milk, deceive, dupe, fool, gull, trick, betray, double-cross, and... of course... steal.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh Yeah -- And If You Hadn't Heard By Now, It Appears That Chertoff Was In Charge Of FEMA Operations Before Handing Off Duties To Michael Brown

According to this Knight Ridder column:

WASHINGTON - The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.

Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.


Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland security is assigned to do without further presidential orders. The goal of the National Response Plan is to provide a streamlined framework for swiftly delivering federal assistance when a disaster - caused by terrorists or Mother Nature - is too big for local officials to handle.


The Chertoff memo indicates that the response to Katrina wasn't left to disaster professionals, but was run out of the White House, said George Haddow, a former deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton administration and the co-author of an emergency management textbook.

"It shows that the president is running the disaster, the White House is running it as opposed to Brown or Chertoff," Haddow said. Brown "is a convenient fall guy. He's not the problem really. The problem is a system that was marginalized."

A former FEMA director under President Reagan expressed shock by the inaction that Chertoff's memo suggested. It showed that Chertoff "does not have a full appreciation for what the country is faced with - nor does anyone who waits that long," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was FEMA director from 1985-1989.


As I noted back a few posts, Brown just seemed a little too conveniently inexperienced and could've always served nicely as a scapegoat. He may have just recieved a reprieve with the publication of this new info.

Gorgeous Space Images, Fine Story, At "From The Swamp"

So it's a fairly conservative blog; you don't have to even look at the other posts, if it bothers you.

Just go look, mon. Look and soak in the fascinating beauty of outer space.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

... Just Finished Listening To The Hitchens/Galloway Debate

I really liked it, surprisingly enough. Too much personal attacking for my liking, but some of it was pretty funny.

I offer you no analysis -- I can only say that it further exemplified the huge, huge difference of opinion between those that continue to support the war and those that never have. I doubt anyone on 'the fence' was swung one way or the other, tonight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nothing To See Here.

Just another car bombing in Baghdad. At least 80 dead. No biggie, right?

Senator Graham Questioning Roberts

I'm listening to the live C-Span feed of Senator Lindsey Graham (R - S. Carolina)... and he's telling SCOTUS Chief Justice nominee John Roberts how other attorneys say how nice he is, how he's such a nice father... and asking him things like how he feels about stuff he might have seen/heard about himself in the media.

=\ ... =/


jesus h christ

Monday, September 12, 2005

Roberts Confirmation Hearings Replay On C-Span; The Notion Of Judicial Activism

A few (R) senators spoke words that always make me think of corporate "personhood" and the illegitimate hijacking of the 14th Amendment...

  • Chuck Grassley, (R) - Iowa, went on and on about judicial restraint, judges being interpreters of law versus being makers of law, and judges not putting their personal beliefs above the Constitution.
  • Jeff Sessions, (R) - Alabama, noted his belief that [I'm paraphrasing here] "activism is when a judge interjects his personal views"... and of the "arrogant nature of the concept of results-driven activism..."

In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company [118 US 394 (1886)], a clerk's note, describing the decision, states that:

"MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE said: The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does."

Theodore: "Gee, Wally... isn't that exactly the judicial activism these two old guys on tv are talking about?"

Wallace: "Yeah, Beav. We should give them the business."

Corporate "personhood" was created out of the proverbial whole cloth. It's illegitimate.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Support The Troops Or Just Slobbering For War?

Looks like some person (or group) decided to knock over a display of wooden "tombstones" which represent dead American soldiers (from both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts) -- the display had been erected on the University of Toledo campus, in honor of the fallen, by a peace group.

I wonder how long it's gonna take before our armed service personnel realize that the chickenhawks honestly don't give a shit about them, other than as cannon fodder?

Less Go Shewt Us Sum Dawgs, Lester


I'm gonna be honest with myself here. Yeah, stray dogs can be a problem -- you don't know wtf kind of pack mentality they've got goin' on and they can be mean fuckers if they're starving and/or feeling threatened.

But.. other than the two yippers in the middle of the video, these ones looked mostly like garden-variety abandoned pets. Nice doggies, in otherwords.

Some of them were being shot by the local authorities. [shaking head]

Since I'm the EconAtheist I'll quote a famous economist (instead of Mohandas Ghandi):

"The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?"
--Jeremy Bentham

Friday, September 09, 2005

Presidential Authority, The Posse Comitatus Act, And The Katrina Response

Too tired to go in depth right now -- just note sections 4 and 5 re: limitations to Posse Comitatus, effects on presidential authority, and crises management.

[first link essentially duplicated on bottom half of second link, but w/o the distracting hyperlinks]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Get This: "Brownie" Graduated From (What Was Then) A NON-AALS Accredited Law School

According to this blip from an exposé from The New Republic (cross-posted at The News Blog):

To understand the Mike Brown saga, one has to know something about the intricacies of the legal profession, beginning with the status of the law school he attended. Brown's biography on FEMA's website reports that he's a graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. This is not, to put it charitably, a well-known institution. For example, I've been a law professor for the past 15 years and have never heard of it. Of more relevance is the fact that, until 2003, the school was not even a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)--the organization that, along with the American Bar Association, accredits the nation's law schools. Most prospective law students won't even consider applying to a non-AALS law school unless they have no other option, because many employers have a policy of not considering graduates of non-AALS institutions. So it's fair to say that Brown embarked on his prospective legal career from the bottom of the profession's hierarchy.


What, then, are we to make of the claim in Brown's FEMA biography that, prior to joining the Agency, he had spent most of his professional career practicing law in Colorado? Normally, an attorney practicing law in a state for ten years would have left a record of his experience in public documents. But just about the only evidence of Brown's Colorado legal career is the Web page he submitted to, an Internet site for people seeking legal representation. There, he lists himself as a member of the "International Arabian Horse Association Legal Dept." and claims to be competent to practice law across a dizzying spectrum of specialties--estate planning, family law, employment law for both plaintiffs and defendants, real-estate law, sports law, labor law, and legislative practice. With all this expertise, it's all the more striking that one can't find any other evidence of Brown's legal career in Colorado.

You gotta read the whole article... if it weren't for the fact that (1) no one could've predicted hurricane Katrina, and (2) the obvious cronyism involved in his having been appointed to be FEMA chief... it's like he was set up to be the "idiot fall-guy" from the start.

Not to keep slamming on unaccredited law schools... but these are the kinds of law schools that send you brochures a few weeks after you register with the Law School Data Assembly Services (the LSDAS puts together all your info for the schools) and get your transcripts all taken care of... um... so... that's *before* you even take the damn LSAT; they only know your grade point average (and whatever other background info you plugged into LSDAS at that point). And if you get a good score to go with that nice GPA?... oh man... they'll virtually bombard you with literature and sometimes *full* scholarship offers.

If I haven't made my point clear... let me just say that at the time Mr. Brown was there, Oklahoma City University School of Law was probably of the "Royal Suckage-ness."

Bush Finally Does Something Regarding Katrina

Unfortunately it's another corporate handout.

Bush lifts wage rules for KatrinaPresident signs executive order allowing contractors to pay below prevailing wage in affected areas.

September 8, 2005:
9:42 PM EDT
(Reuters) - President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Bush's action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew rebukes from two of organized labor's biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.


Oh. So now it's a fucking emergency, 'eh chief? You fucking idiot.

If you look up the '31 Act on the internet you'll find alot of conservative barkers calling it [I'm paraphrasing here] "a Jim Crow Era act" that "kept non-unionized blacks/minorities from being able to compete for federal contracts"... and of course other bullshit like it being a barrier to our (façade of a) free market system. Anyone ever notice how these conservative fuckfaces never talk about concentrated bargaining power unless it's labor/unionization?

I challenge any poster to show a single *real* instance of a competitive free market, as economically-defined, by the way.

All I have to say is that the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act *may* have been *originally* drafted and passed for the purpose of excluding minorities, but *now* it protects workers from being hosed by the bargaining imbalance inherent to nearly every employment situation. To override it now, with a bullshit "OH NOES IT'S TEH KATRINA EMERGENCEE AMERIKA I AM BUSH I SIGN ORDER" rationale...?... that's a fucking ruse. Pure gouging.

Get your fucking tails in order, Senate and House Democrats. Call this one out for what it is.

I Can't Even Think Anymore

I haven't been able to post anything for a few days because my brain won't slow down for long enough to allow me to think of anything cogent, let alone type it out.

Fortunately, someone else managed to get it in writing; it's from an outsider's perspective, but I think it expresses a nutshell-version of what I'd love to say to everyone that isn't demanding change right now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Roberts Nominated For 17th Chief Justice

Not much of a surprise; Rehnquist's death opened up the possibility and the Chief Justice position is more often than not filled by someone w/o any SCOTUS experience.

One thing that I had forgotten about is the fact that "The Constitution stipulates that the Chief Justice shall preside when the Senate tries an impeachment of the President of the United States" [Article I, Section 3, Clause 6].

Hmmm... Mister Bush is looking ahead, is he not? According to this American Bar Association document, "The Presiding Officer makes initial rulings on motions and objections, but these judgments may be reviewed by the Senate and reversed by a simple majority."

*Scenario 1*

Let's pretend for a moment that it's late 2006, the House votes through articles of impeachment and it goes to the Senate -- which will likely still have at least 51 (R)s -- for trial. Barring an (R) actually deviating from his/her party line, any initial ruling on motions and objections will stand -- these are GWB's pals, underlings, and sycophants we're talking about here. I can hardly imagine all the objections to evidence and potential testimony; I can easily imagine Roberts sustaining objections up the wazoo.

*Scenario 2*

Maybe the Bush camp wants this Roberts thing to drag out and sees an incredibly lengthy set of Roberts confirmation hearings as nothing more than a win-win scenario; if he's eventually approved, they win... if he's not approved, think of this:

Let's still take everything from Scenario 1 above, but this time think of a case where no Chief Justice sits, i.e. Roberts' nomination is either (1) still being held up in the Senate, or that (2) Roberts not confirmed, no other potential SCOTUS justice nominated/confirmed by this time, and no Associate Justice raised to Chief Justice.

Who presides over a presidential impeachment in this case? The Vice President.

That's right: Dick Cheney.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Proactive Federal Response to Catastrophic Events?...

Larry Johnson chimes in on why this administration deserves more than simply blame for the Katrina debacle:

The National Response Plan was accepted and implemented by Bush Administration in December 2004. According to the PREFACE, President Bush, "directed the development of a new National Response Plan (NRP) to align Federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management. . . .The end result is vastly improved coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal organizations to help save lives and protect America's communities by increasing the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of incident management."

Wait. Let me fix the NRP's preface.

"The end result is vastly improved coordination among Federal, State, local, and tribal organizations to help save affluent lives and protect America's affluent communities by increasing the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of incident management for affluent people."

There we go. That way it looks more like they're preaching what they practice.

It's all about integrity, my friends.

FEMA In Florida '04 Vs. FEMA In NOLA '05

Billmon notes how FEMA's response to last year's Florida hurricane disaster seems a bit... different... than the response to Katrina.

So You Think The Local And State Authorities Were To Blame?...

According to this White House document:

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA was in charge as of almost 10 days ago. STFU and stop trying to shift emergency/recovery effort blame to the local/state authorities. FEMA was in charge.

Just in case you're dumb, let me reiterate that FEMA was in charge.

Still not sure who's to blame? Once again: FEMA was in charge.

Did I mention that FEMA was in charge?

The politicization (is that a real word?) of this tragedy is not that people are pointing fingers at this admininstration. No.

Rather it's that this administration refuses to take responsibility for its failed policy and in fact started all the claptrap by pointing its crooked index finger at everything but itself. THAT'S politicizing.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist Dies At Age 80 obit here.

John Hindrocker Wuvs Bush

Normally I avoid so much as taking a peek at Powerline blog... primarily because I don't agree with their political stance but also because they don't allow for comments (i.e. they can profess w/o having to defend). Also, I don't care for the dogmatic types like John Hindrocker; the guy's a lawyer -- someone that's formally trained in the art/science of seeing both sides of an issue/argument -- yet he seems pathologically unable to pry himself from his unadulterated support of George W. Bush and this administration.

But I had to take a look today, just to see wtf some of our friends on the least reasonable side of the political fence were saying about the aftermath of Katrina. Um, regarding Bush's handling of New Orleans, says Hindrocker:

So what prompted the order that prevented Hurricane Katrina from being a natural disaster of unprecedented magnitude?

The mayor called the order unprecedented and said anyone who could leave the city should.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

The City of New Orleans and its residents owe the President a profound debt of gratitude.

Owe the President a debt of gratitude? WTF is John wheeling around in his drip-bag?

If you peek at this press release, dated Saturday, 8/27/2005, Mayor Nagin not only called for NOLA citizens to "do everything to prepare for a regular hurricane, but treat this one differently because it is headed our way" but also "recommended that residents of Algiers, the Lower Ninth Ward and low-lying areas begin evacuating now." [bold, emphasis added]

Putting all snarking aside for a moment... my beef with is that Hindrocker attempts to make it appear that the Mayor had no thoughts of evacuation before "master planner" Bush came and saved the day. I think the articles/links display otherwise and show that Ray Nagin had already prudently called for the most vulnerable areas to clear out.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Interview With New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

I just listened to one of the most painful things I can ever recall. This is a must hear.

After some time of describing the way the Katrina emergency lack of efforts had been going down, NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin -- who absolutely (and correctly, and righteously) went off on both this administration and the Louisiana state administration -- and the interviewer* literally broke down and neither said a word.

The silence, as they say, was deafening.

But it conveyed more than words could ever say.

*UPDATE: The interviewer was (is) Garland Robinette.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Estate Tax Myths; It's Not A "Death Tax"

First off, please either (1) donate to the American Red Cross or some other charity of your choice, or better yet (2) try to get down to the Gulf Coast and help out, if you can.

While I've been spending the past few days soaking in the devastation in New Orleans and the abysmal (and late) emergency response, a recent mass email from RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman caught my eye:

For the last four years, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have championed a pro-growth agenda that has brought tax relief to millions of Americans. Historic legislation in 2001 and 2003 put America on the track to economic growth, and today our economic outlook is bright. There is more work to do, however, to ensure that tax-paying Americans can keep more of their own hard-earned income.

When they return from their August recess, Senators will consider a key issue: elimination of the death tax. The death tax is an unfair double taxation of income, which hurts America's small businesses and farms and threatens job growth. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are working hard to oppose our efforts to eliminate this unfair tax.

Will you help bring tax relief to more hard-working Americans? Call Senator Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-3841 today and ask them to eliminate the death tax. Our party's opportunity agenda means allowing families to keep more of the money they earn. The historic tax relief in the President's first term was only the beginning. Americans deserve a tax code that is simple and fair. The Senate needs to do its part by making tax relief permanent and burying the death tax forever.

Call Call Senator Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-3841 today and ask them to vote to eliminate the death tax! Make your voice heard on this important issue. Call Senator Dianne Feinstein. Express your support for tax relief and economic opportunity. Elimination of the death tax would be a victory for fairness and job creation. Working together, we can help eliminate the burden of the death tax once and for all.

Thank you,
Ken Mehlman,
RNC Chairman

Erm. Never you mind for a moment the fact that he doesn't even address one of the 2 or 3 worst (and probably the most expensive) natural disasters in our nation's history... I guess that just about sums up your committee's priorities, you miserable jackass.

Anyhow. Let's take a peek at the realities of the ESTATE tax (info taken from's Estate Tax Facts page).

  • Myth: The estate tax is a “death tax.”
    Fact: The estate tax is not a tax on death. It’s a tax on the transfer of large amounts of money. Ninety-eight percent of Americans who die pass their estate on to their heirs completely tax-free — in fact, they get a valuable tax break on capital gains. Zero estate tax is charged on assets left to a spouse or to charity.

  • Myth: The estate tax must be repealed because it forces family businesses to close.
    Fact: This issue has been wildly exaggerated. Only 3 of every 10,000 people who die leave a taxable estate in which a family business forms the majority of the estate. A recent Federal Reserve study found that the average small business is worth $702,566, well below the level at which estate taxes kick in. Virtually all small family businesses can be protected by simply raising estate tax exemption levels.

  • Myth: The estate tax must be repealed because it forces family farms to sell.
    Fact: As with family businesses, this issue has been distorted. On April 8, 2001, the New York Times reported that the pro-repeal American Farm Bureau Federation could not cite a single case of a family farm lost due to the estate tax. Furthermore, only 3 of every 10,000 people who die leave a taxable estate in which a farm forms the majority of the estate. Like businesses, family farms can be protected by raising exemption levels.

  • Myth: The estate tax is “double taxation.”
    Fact: The phrase “double taxation” is a rhetorical device meant to confuse the issue. The fact is, much of what is taxed in an estate has not been previously taxed. The bulk of the largest estates, which consist of unrealized capital gains, would never have been taxed were it not for the estate tax.

  • Myth: The estate tax raises little revenue, so repealing it will have no effect.
    Fact: Permanent repeal of the estate tax will cost nearly $1 trillion over the next two decades. This will deprive the Treasury of resources that could be used to address pressing needs such as safeguarding Social Security and Medicare, improving education, or extending health insurance coverage.

  • Myth: The estate tax “confiscates” over half the value of all estates.
    Fact: For 98% of Americans, the estate tax takes away nothing. For the other 2%, the average effective tax rate is 19%.

  • Myth: The estate tax discourages work and inhibits capital formation.
    Fact: There is no hard evidence that U.S. capital accumulation has been held back by the estate tax. There is evidence, however, that large inheritances do reduce work effort and saving among recipients.

  • Myth: The wealthiest Americans use tax shelters to completely avoid paying estate taxes.
    Fact: Most estate tax revenue comes from the top 0.14% of Americans – the few thousand people each year with estates larger than $5 million. In 2001, an even smaller and wealthier group, the 1,337 people with estates greater than $10 million, paid over a third of all estate taxes collected that year – for an average tax of $6 million per estate.

  • Myth: The estate tax doesn’t raise enough revenue to cover the cost of collecting it.
    Fact: This staple of talk-radio shows is based on an imprecise guess made by a researcher back in 1987, and is flat out wrong. It was based on faulty assumptions, and is easy to disprove. While the estate tax raised over $20 billion in 2003, the budget for the entire Internal Revenue Service amounted to only $9.8 billion in that year.

  • Myth: The estate tax is unfair.
    Fact: Unfair compared to what? Should revenue come from a tax on wages? Should it come from sales tax? Or should it also come from the estates of multi-millionaires? The estate tax is eminently fair. It is collected from those most able to pay, and it encourages the recycling of wealth through the non-profit sector. It limits the size of family dynasties that would otherwise distort our democracy and shrink economic opportunity for succeeding generations.
If you're dumb and can't figure out how the above relates to Mehlman's email's points, please leave a comment expressing your stupidity. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.