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Posted September 30, 2005
And no Kanye West in sight (Friday roundup)

Who watched the live "Will & Grace" last night? They worked in two jokes against the Resmuglicans, both got huge laughs:

Grace: I'm just going to close my eyes and do what I want- hey, I'm George Bush!

Malcolm (Alec Baldwin): I have to shred some documents... I can't tell you whose documents, but it has to be done without delay.

"Like the Jetsons" is the simile most overused by feature writers, Luddites and other professional condescendors to describe new technology concepts. Just check out the depletion of this valuable literary resource. Robot vacuum cleaners? A new cellphone? An oven that's also a freezer? Personal Automated Transport? That's so far-out wacky, it's like The Jetsons! Nevermind that the 'impossibly futuristic' items in question actually exist.
       Here's the new Rule: if it's not a Flying Car, a moving sidewalk or the Space Needle, it's not like the Jetsons. Corrollary: if something can be made from components that exist, it is possible.
       One exception to the main Rule is allowed: Bushisms. Nuclear power pants, for instance, would be like the Jetsons.

"Sprawling New Yorker stuff." NPR had a great piece this morning, in which Susan Orlean dissected the popularity of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" as a fan singalong at Fenway Park. Now if only Orlean can figure out why a song about guys meeting other guys at the YMCA is a fixture at every red-blooded NFL game.


Mr_Blog is brought to you today by Sound Transit.

"My daily commute was making a mess of my life. I was yelling at my family. People at the office would run the other way when they saw me. I voted for Stan Lippman for Monorail Board. Thank goodness I started taking Sound Transit's Sounder commuter train! Just sit back and relax, and before I know it, I'm home! I'm so glad we moved to the train station!"

Sound Transit. Ride the wave!


Speaking of singing, Judith Miller is out of the joint. Reports are that she's fingering Scooter. This is so lame; the WaPost says Libby "assured her in a telephone call last week that a waiver he gave prosecutors authorizing them to question reporters about their conversations with him was not coerced." But her doubts about coercion date to August—why couldn't she and Scooter have had their little chat back then? Obviously, someone in the White House needed a couple of months to do something. Who was the Someone? A quick timeline:

• July 7: State Dept. memo IDing Plame circulates on Air Force One; Libby and Rove were not on the trip
• July 8: Libby told Miller about Plame
• July 8: Rove tells Novak
• July 11: Rove tells Matt Cooper
• July 12: An "administration official" tells Walter Pincus, who wrote that he smelled damage control

Hey, another unnamed Someone. Was it the same Someone who called Libby and Rove from the plane? Pincus still isn't naming his source. It's not Karl, because he's already come forward publicly, and Pincus has already disclosed he spoke to Libby. Ari Fleischer? No, press secretaries are mouthpieces. My money is on the most shadowy in-the-background figure in the Plame affair: Cheney himself.
       The conventional wisdom emerging in this morning's news is that Libby is going to take the fall for someone, and who better to take the fall for than his own boss, the Dick?
       The AP reports today ("Reporter Miller testifies about CIA leak"), "Attorney Joseph Tate said ...Libby didn't know Plame's name until seeing it in Novak's column." Which we knew a couple months ago was a lie because Novak published after Scooter talked to Judy, and so is still a lie in absence of a time machine. Is Libby hoping to plead incompetent defense counsel?
       The beauty of Cheney being Leaker Zero is that he didn't have to be on the Africa trip to read the State memo: it was Cheney's interest in Niger that led to Joseph Wilson's trip in the first place. You would think he would then be copied on everything to do with the issue. Which makes the question "Who Read the Memo on Air Force One" another misdirection. Cheney reads it, he tells Scooter, and you know the rest.
       That's my theory, and it makes more sense than Intelligent Design.

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Posted September 29, 2005
See me; feel me; indict me

It's time for The Slam Book.® At the Mr_Blog bureau in Sequim, WA, here is Tim Snide:

Hail, Citizens, it's a busy day in the republic.

Tom DeLay is blaming his criminal conspiracy indictment on prosecutor Ronnie Earle, whom everyone's favorite invertebrate killer labels a "partisan fanatic." Well where're the props for the actual Grand Jurors? They deserve recognition for their hard work too. C'mon Tommy, give credit where it's due.

DeLay is scheduled to report to authorities in Austin for mugshots and fingerprinting. Can you print a cloven hoof?

The Senate just voted 78-22 to confirm John G. Roberts Jr. as the 17th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. John Roberts; the first Justice who, when taking the oath to protect and defend the Constitution, will add: "I endorse protecting and defending. I also endorse the hypothetical idea of the Constitution. But specifically protecting and defending the Constitution? There's a good chance such cases will come before the Court, so..." Washington's senators cancelled out each other's votes, with Maria Cantwell (D) voting No and Patty Murray (Liebercrat in training) voting to put an unknown quantity on the high court until 2035 or so.

The Slam Book® feels badly about holding Murray personally responsible for her vote. After all, she once ranked #4 on Progressive's list of dumbest members of Congress.

A caller to the Mike Malloy Show (9/27, Air America) said he wrote Sen. Murray about impeaching Bush. In her reply, Murray wrote that simply disagreeing with a President is not grounds for impeachment. Murray is right, it isn't. Any more than willful stupidity is grounds for recalling a sitting U.S. Senator.

Rev. Moon, the Jerry Lee Lewis of religion, is in Seattle. Speaking to a conference at Bell Harbor, the Unificator--who married a 17 year old when he was 40--called for a highway to span the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia. Fundraising for the project will commence next month in airports all over North America.

In his remarks, Moon also proposed a new, spiritual organization modeled on the United Nations. With him as Secretary General for Life, one is sure.

Qualifying rounds got underway for the Grand Challenge race, a Pentagon DARPA agency contest to speed development of military robot vehicles. Katie Holmes is heavily favored in the 150 mile race, to be held Oct. 8 in Nevada.

Japanese scientists have photographed a giant squid off the island of Chichijima, about 600 miles southeast of Tokyo. A rope was used to pull the 26-foot long sea creature up to the side of the research ship, where it "shook hands" with researcher Tsunemi Kubodera. The scientific community hailed the feat, the first photographs of a giant squid in the wild. The expedition was sponsored by Mama Theokides's Old-Fashioned Greek-Style Calimari Inc. and Geiko.

That's the news, that's The Slam Book.® So long September.

Blarchives: The Slam Book®

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Posted September 28, 2005
Dear Leader
by Kim Jong Il

Monday

Dear Leader,
A few years ago I had to leave a job where I got to work with animals. I was doing a great job, but I got blamed for things that went wrong. They even sued me! Just to show you who was to blame, they went out of business and I landed on my feet. Friends found me a great new job, this time working to help people in difficult circumstances.
       But last month we had a problem at work, and now people are trying to blame me again, even though it's not my fault this time either. I was doing a heckuva job, my boss even said so. But tomorrow I have to talk to a congressional committee about what went wrong. What should I do?
Signed, Don't It Make Brown Blue

Dear Brown,
Hard-working sons of the motherland have nothing to fear. The advantage of one-party totalitarian regimes like ours is that the benevolent Party, the glorious State and industrious People are one and the same. Your Party speaks for the People they protect, so when you speak to one you speak to both.Tell them that you did your Patriotic duty--you did the job you were assigned, in exactly the way the Party wanted you to do it. You know how to do what you do, and you do a pretty darn good job of it! You will still have critics, but the state-controlled media will Officially Denounce them as traitorous dogs. So relax and enjoy tomorrow.

Dear Leader,
My clumsy, micro-brain husband is drinking again, and as a result he's becoming an even greater failure than before. Now I have to go out and run interference for him in the popular media, to make sure people think he cares and is one of them. Sure, Mr. Born With a Silver Coke Spoon Up His Nose is a man of the people. It seems like an impossible job, and I'm out of ideas. Help!
Signed, First Among Ladies

Dear First Lady,
Two words: reality TV. I've become a huge fan of your reality TV shows, ever since John Bolton made such a mess of the technology embargo that I was finally able to smuggle in a Tivo. Talk about your opiate of the masses! Big Brother, Amazing Race, Fear Factor, Real World, Girls Next Door, and of course Trump. I watch all of them. So get yourself on one of these shows, and soon the proletariat will see you and your demigod husband unrehearsed, unstaged, unedited and completely real.

Confidential to Bugsy in Texas: Remember, always pay cash.

Blarchives: Dear Leader

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Posted September 27, 2005
"Quagmire is the new black, sweetie" Link This

News item: Bush confidante Karen Hughes embarks on a listening tour of the Middle East.

As the new "public diplomacy guru," Hughes is basically a PR flack for Misadministration policy. I suggest this makes her the Edina Monsoon of Dubya's foreign policy.


Karen Hughes's message to Arab world: "Fresh herbs, fresh herbs! Jamie Oliver-it up a bit!"

In other fake news, the Dubya Misadministration startled Beltway insiders with the appointment of a horse to head FEMA. "Brownie screwed up the showhorse association," said a K Street confidante, "so maybe they're going the Poetic Justice route."

How many more Mike Browns are out there?
"Radioactive" Brown rehired to "download his experience"
Animal husband unappointed as Women's Health Chief

Mayor Greg Nickels today announced an exciting plan to spend an unexpected $55 million extra in the city treasury. Yesterday Nickels said he intended to use the windfall to fund additional police and firefighters, new sidewalks and paving, a homeless hygiene center, and a small business tax cut.
       All great things, some of which he originally promised four years ago. But the Bush recession led to tight budgets for Seattle. So the mayor had to make the tough choices: do we treat people as more important than cars by building sidewalks, or do we help Paul Allen build his dreamy 21st century enclave in South Lake Union? Full funding for first responders, or a hometown discount for the site of the new Gates Foundation HQ? Build goodwill by working with neighborhoods, or waste time in Machiavellian power games with the Council?
       You know, we should have an election every year. Just imagine how motivated and responsive Nickels would be if he were constantly campaigning, an election always just around the corner.

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Posted September 26, 2005
Tunnel of un-love Link This

In what may be the most unintentionally funny move to date for Seattle's late and overbudget light rail project, the downtown bus tunnel, aka the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (completed 1990), closed last Friday. The facility is to be modified for use by electric streetcars as well as buses. This means installing rails and putting in new overhead wiring. Sound Transit hopes to reopen the tunnel in two years.
Downtown Seattle reroute plan

There are three sources of humor. First, the modifications require putting about 20 bus routes back on already congested surface streets, which also affects nearly 50 other routes. Authorities hope to ease jam-ups with a new re-route plan (right) detouring traffic during rush hours. (Day One: "I don't know where I am")

I can't wait to see what this does to downtown retail, if it's anything like what's happening to business in Rainier Valley it won't be pretty. But killing icky old stores and putting in shiny new ones is what "transit oriented development" is for.

Second, the new overhead wires will only be for Sound Transit's light rail streetcars. What will the buses use in 2007, when they start sharing the tunnel with trains? Silly goose, all the tunnel buses will be expensive new diesel hybrids, switchable to all-electric mode in the tunnel. So what if the unproven hybrids get worse mileage than the old diesels, we gotta have the trains, those'll solve all our traffic problems.

Third, before they install rails they'll have to rip out the rails that are already there.

Metro installed paved railroad tracks into the bus tunnel in the case that light rail would ever be built. However, the tracks currently visible are completely useless. It turns out that the electrical insulation around the tracks is too weak; a big no-no in electric railroading. Source

How odd. Behemoth transit contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff designed the tunnel. One would think they could insulate rails in their sleep.

If you ask me the the old rails were simply a tease to drum up support for a streetcar system: We're serious about trains! Don't those rails look sexy and World Class? Be like Paris and London! Vote YES for our $900 million $1 $2 $2.2 $2.9 billion rail plan!

What's more, in some locations the rails appeared to have simply been embedded in the pavement—lacking the necessary slot next to each rail to allow for wheel flanges (Minneapolis: slot. Seattle: sometimes, sometimes not). An Official Excuse found in an AP story supports suspicions the rails were installed for cosmetic purposes:

The bus tunnel, built in the 1980s, was designed to allow for rail operations. There already are tracks in the tunnel, but they're 15 years old and don't accommodate the level-boarding trains that Sound Transit plans to use. Heraldnet (Everett Herald) 9/23/2005

So which is it—insulation or boarding height? Even if it's the latter, don't ALL trains have floor heights that are different from those of buses? Back in 1990, Metro must have known either the railbeds would have to be made lower, or the sidewalks (platforms) made higher.

Fake rails are so fitting for a choo-choo project based on fake cost estimates and fake performance studies.

Update (10/13): Metro Council is the scapegoat on the insulation problem
Public Interest Transportation Forum
Citizens for Effective Transportation Alternatives
Alternative: Get There Fast

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For September 25, 2005
Giorni e Notti of Molly Dodd Link This
"Agata e la Tempesta." Dir: Silvio Soldini. Cast: Licia Maglietta, Giuseppe Battiston, Emilio Solfrizzi, Claudio Santamaria, Giselda Volodi, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Monica Nappo, Marina Massironi. 118 minutes. U.S. availability: FilmMovement.com

"Agata e la Tempesta" (Agatha & The Storm) reunites the core cast from Soldini's "Bread & Tulips," the arthouse hit from 2000.

The opening images waste no time in getting the viewer into the story:

Closeup on the arms, torso and feet of a woman dancing;
Bright colors;
A city in sunshine

The sequence says mature, confident, sensual, exciting. Agata (Maglietta) is a woman who from all appearances has "it" all—but still lacks... something. She can't quite put her finger on it. That uncertainty is a thread of anxiety that runs throughout the story.

The story takes place in and around the fresh, rarely-filmed location of Genoa. The name of that city's most famous citizen, Christopher Columbus, is invoked in the script as an expression of surprise (although strangely translated in the subtitles as "Christmas crackers!").

Battiston, Solfrizzi, Maglietta

Agata owns a bookstore that takes the personal touch with its patrons. So much so that Agata is the focus of the puppy-like attentions of 20-something Nico (Santamaria), whom Agata's assistant Maria Libera (Volodi) nicknames Werther. Their first scene together, in which she quizzes him to see if he really reads 4 books a week, is a wonder of nuanced flirtation.

Dining later with her brother Gustavo (Solfrizzi), Agata gets shocking news. Gustavo, a successful architect, believes he may have been adopted. A stranger, a garishly dressed clothing salesman named Romeo (Battiston, the bumbling detective in "Bread"), has appeared claiming to be Gustavo's half-brother. Romeo is too true to his name, loving too much with too many. He is glib, charming and irresponsible, a lovable rogue. This is a bad time for Gustavo: he seems bored with his work, and his boredom with his celebrity-psychologist wife Ines (Massironi) is brought to the forefront by sudden attentions from a client, a comely Danish politician (Jorgensen, "Italian for Beginners"). Shaken, Gustavo drops out of his life and goes to stay with Romeo.

What follows is really three movies: a December-May romantic comedy, a comedy-drama about long lost siblings, and a drama-comedy about a dissolute playboy. In some ways it is one movie to many, but I can't decide which one should have been dropped.

Each mini-movie has much to recommend: (1) Maglietta sizzles in her scenes with Santamaria. Magical realism appears in Agata's inconvenient (and sometimes disastrous) paranormal abilities: under emotional stress, she can extinguish light bulbs and put appliances on the fritz. Her visit to a Chinese chakra balancer is priceless. Agata's memories of being a little girl are goofily fanciful—a woman her age would have been a child in the 1960s, but the flashbacks have her parents in garb of the "A Room With a View" era. (2) Maglietta, Solfrizzi and Battiston have excellent chemistry as the new instant-family. (3) Battiston's scenes with Nappo (as Romeo's wheelchair-bound wife Daria) are touching, especially combined with his acting in "Agata"'s lone scene of psychological introspection, a humanizing non-confession confession in which he admits an inability to rationalize his infidelities.

Despite all Maglietta's charms (in fact her décollatage should be listed separately in the credits), "Agata & The Storm" suffers from a number of flaws.

:: Confusing structure in the first fourth, in which Romeo's first meeting with Gustavo—really a flashback—is hard to distinguish from the contemporaneous storyline.

:: Dropped and underdeveloped plot points: Agata's unseen daughter is mentioned early-on only as a means of hinting at Agata's backstory, and Maria Libera's unseen father is a promising source of laughs that never materializes. And Massironi is underused, and probably miscast—the wacky neighbor Grazia in "Bread," she would have been ideal as Maria Libera (not to take anything away from Volodi, an Italian Marcia Wallace).

:: A switch involving Nico and mistaken identity is just not believable.

:: The ending, which snatches hope from the jaws of tragedy, is too pat and smacks of Hollywoodization.

Rating: Maglietta's presence alone is worth a star: 3.5 out of 5

Who out there uses Haloscan? I'm considering installing it on Mr_Blog. Drop me a line and me know what you like and dislike about it.

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Posted September 22, 2005
Taking care of bidness Link This

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the character 'KPVI meteorologist Scott Stevens' to KPVI meteorologist Scott Stevens is purely coincidental. Scott who?
     May we remind you to turn off all cellphones, pagers and watch alarms. The taking of pictures and use of recording devices is prohibited.
     Tonight the role of 'Smooth Antoine Robidoux' is being played by Vince Vaughn.

Are we on? This is Mr_Blog in our New York studios, with a special report—Hurricane Rita: Big Blow II. Live on the beach in Galveston is Disastrous Correspondent Tim Snide.

Tim Snide: Disaster Correspondent.

Isn't that what I said?

TS: Wolf, the big story is the arrival in Texas of the White House's Hurricane Rita czar, sent to take charge of what is being billed as a unified federal, state and local response. And in fact he is himself a Katrina evacuee from New Orleans. With me is that official, newly appointed FEMA procurer-

Smooth Antoine Robidoux: FEMA Procurement Regional Director. Smooth Antoine Robidoux, how y'all doing?

TS: Smooth Antoine Robidoux. How did you come to the attention of the Bush Administration?

SAR: Senator Trent Lott, who has been a friend to my family for years, he has been so good to ma grand-mère. Sen. Lott was visiting me at my place of bidness when Katrina, she hit New Orleans. The first floor was under water. The Senator, me and all my female employees all had to swim to safety. I personally saved the Senator from a crocodile. Anyway, when we got to dry land, he said he would find some way to thank me. Yesterday he called me with this opportunity, that he was having the President appoint me, and I was so thankful to him. I hooked him up with a building contractor I know.

TS: Much has been made about revelations of unqualified Republican and administration cronies and contributors serving in critical positions in FEMA. Can you tell us about your qualifications?

SAR: Certainement. I am a bidness man. I get people what they need, I'm the best, ask anyone. And what is FEMA, but getting people what they need to be ready for trouble, and to recover afterward. It's about food, water, blankets, and other... merchandise... they might need.

TS: So you're saying-

SAR: Goods and services, mon ami, emergency supplies are just goods and services.

TS: And that makes you the perfect man for the job?

SAR: Exactement! Goods-and-services is Smooth Antoine's middle name, ask anyone!

TS: So that's the scene here in Galveston, where the people are preparing for-

SAR: So you need anything? Where you staying?

TS: Uh, the Hyatt.

SAR: Nice place. If you need anything, I'll get it for you. What's your pleasure? Evian? Army rations? Booze? DVD players? Rolexes? A little late night companionship? Here's my private number. And take one of these.

TS: What is it?

SAR: It's a government credit card, the Feds are giving them out. $250,000 limit, bébé! Safavian gave me a bunch of them. You take one.

TS: But if I use it to buy things from YOU, doesn't the money also go to...

SAR: You catch on fast mon ami, you should be an investigative reporter!

TS: As I was saying. The center of Hurricane Rita is about to hit, and hopefully authorities are prepared, this time. On the beach at Galveston, I'm Tim Snide reporting for Mr_Blog. Let's now go to KPVI meteorologist Scott Stevens at the Accu-Cast Desk. Can you hear me Scott? Look, I can't talk now, but can I give you a list-

Scott Stevens: Thanks Tim, stay safe. Let's put up the latest Accu-Cast Dopplers of the Texas coast and see what Rita is up to. Rita is now Category 5. As you can see from this pattern of suspicious contrails, electromagnetic waves are very strong at the upper altitudes, meaning that the secret world government has had its weather control weapon in the region and running for at least 72 hours. The EM activity seems to be emanating from the area of Gulf Breeze, Florida, which was where we had that so-called UFO activity in the 20th century. Temperatures today in the region: Houston 99 high/76 low, Galveston 96 high/80 low, Port Arthur 99 high/76 low. Precious metals: gold $467/oz., silver $7.36/oz. Chance of black helicopters 30% today, 50% tonight, 95% tomorrow.

Blarchives: The Slam Book®
Smooth Antoine Robidoux: State of the Union76


Overheard at Pathfinder Elementary:

7 year old: I'm going to be George W. Bush for Halloween. He's scary.

By now it's all over the blogosphere about the British 'rescue' of two of its soldiers from a Basra jail—and how it turns out the two had been accused of firing on local police while disguised as Arabs, from a civilian car loaded with explosives (Story).

But last month questions were raised about what an elite UK military unit has been doing with hundreds of thousands of pounds in unaccounted-for cash. The Basra incident provides what is probably only the beginning of an answer.

SAS faces inquiry into missing funds
The [Special Air Service] is facing an internal inquiry into allegations that hundreds of thousands of pounds have been misappropriated during some of its covert operations in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
...
     Sources said that military investigators queried some of the invoices. There are suggestions that they may have been inflated and the extra cash channelled elsewhere.
     The SAS is thought to account for 10% of the Ministry of Defence's £31 billion annual budget.
...
     "The guys are pretty pissed off. They feel they should be treated like heroes but they are now being looked at if they claim for a Mars bar." Source

One doubts the investigators really think the £31 billion went to candy bars.

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Posted September 21, 2005
If we can hold on through the night Link This

An idea to which I've long subscribed is the one that holds government that governs best is one that stays close to the people it represents. You can see what happens when there is distance between the governors and the governed: the faraway state capitol, the elected official always traveling on "official business," the appointee who hides behind phalanxes of underlings. You know how familiarity breeds contempt? Well in government, separation leads to business as usual.

When you don't know what government is doing, you're less likely to get pissed off at it. And in the Seattle area we have a history of setting up public agencies that are, in the end, unaccountable. But not because we set out to make them unaccountable. It arises from our faith in experts. Want a job done right? Give it to the experts. Which is what we did when voters set up Metro in the late Fifties: the lake is polluted—the experts will create a sewage treatment system (1958); the experts will build us a domed stadium (1968); transit is horrible—the experts will create an efficient transit agency (1972).

And it worked! But only for a while. Because in the Seventies political economists began publishing research on how bureaucracies implement programs, and what they found was that bureaucracies are magnified reflections of the human nature of their staffs. Initially zealous and focused, the work eventually becomes routine. The organization gets comfortable, it looks to make its job easier with rules that control the way the public requests services. Later, the primary objective becomes protection of power, jurisdiction and budgets. Eventually the bureaucrats, now experts in the field, work to co-exist with whatever part of the private sector they are supposed to be regulating—even hopping back and forth between jobs in government and industry. We see this all the time.

Metro could basically do whatever it wanted with minimal oversight, because it was insulated from direct public oversight by virtue of its federated executive council, which was composed of elected officials from around the region. Some areas received more representation than others. So in 1990 a federal court stepped in and said this structure violated "one person-one vote" (thank you ACLU!).

The County absorbed Metro, and all was well. So what did we do? We the People set up Sound Transit—insulated from direct public oversight by virtue of a federated executive council, but with proportional representation. We charged ST with setting up a regional rail system, and it dutifully sped through the bureaucracy life cycle, arriving at protection of power, jurisdiction and budgets in just a few years. This is the agency that promised 21-miles of light rail in a corridor instead of region-wide; the agency that cut that back to 14 miles; the agency that said it would cost $900 million, then $1 billion, then $2 billion, then $2.2 billion and now, maybe, $2.9 billion. And pushed the completion date back to 2009. And claims it is on time and on budget. But despite a vocal minority, the polls indicate we still want light rail (that it appears as though a majority doesn't want to pay for it is a whole 'nother issue).

Contrast the ST experience with the Seattle Monorail Project. Grassroots-originated, expert-resisted and voter-approved every step of the way, SMP started with enormous goodwill and proceeded to squander it. The public has given it more and more grief with every outrageous promise, with every budget "reprojection," after every excuse and rosy funding scenario. But unlike ST, SMP is not weathering the storm. The reason—the voters elect some of the SMP Board, giving the public direct oversight. Last week, smelling the wind, Mayor Caudillo Puerco cancelled SMP's street use permits, and yesterday the voters told SMP to start updating its résume. The morning-after results:

:: SMP Pos. 8: Incumbent Cindi "some of my best friends are Jews" Laws received 31% to openly skeptical Beth Goldberg's 47%
:: SMP Pos. 9: Jim Nobles, who ran on the promise to shut down the project, got 40.5% to incumbent Cleve "the monorail reduces congestion" Stockmeyer's 34.5%.
:: Monorail patrono Dick Falkenbury was stiffed at 24.5%.

Two trains, two agencies, two governance structures. One accountable, one not. Let's close with some thoughts by the Weekly's Knute Berger:

Since the 1980s, U.S. cities have virtually reinvented and rewired local governance through the creation of an endless array of so-called "special-purpose" authorities...
     Another term for them is "designer" governments. They have a limited purpose—or start out that way—but also limited accountability. They tend to be governed by weak boards of people representing constituencies with vested interests in the work of these entities. They often focus on specialized projects and are run by professional staffs who work hard to fend off know-nothing meddlers (once known as citizens). The lawyers and lobbyists who design them often find ways to circumvent the daylight of disclosure or oversight. These public and semi-public entities are often born of an alliance between government and big business, and they seek to do their jobs without the inconvenience of broader accountability. In other words, it's fox-enter-hen-house time. Source

Sound familiar?

Thus we end up with entities like the Port of Seattle, with an enormous budget and vast taxing authority—yet few in the city understand what it does, where the money goes, and who it benefits... Occasionally, the voters elect reformers to the Port—and to the School Board—but they are soon like bugs caught on flypaper. Without staff to assist, without a budget, without real resources, their reform agendas stall. Eventually, the Patty Hearst syndrome kicks in and the reformers morph into enablers. We pay them next to nothing to oversee people with more expertise and big salaries. In short, the public is represented by amateurs while designer governments have all the time, money, and pros on their side.
     The result is that these boards often don't do their jobs. The monorail board is a particularly egregious example of a designer government run by boosters whose oversight has been lacking, its performance negligent. ...the SMP responded to State Auditor Brian Sonntag's critical report of the agency last week by announcing they'd been given a "clean" bill of health, despite the audit's discovery of inaccurate board minutes, violations of state open-government laws, illegal consulting contracts, and an absurd financial structure.
     Current state law does not allow more comprehensive audits of designer governments, but Sonntag says Initiative 900, the performance-audit initiative on the November ballot, would change that. Passing I-900 would give citizens and public officials a means to find out what's really going on. Perhaps it would enable citizens to put a stop to runaway projects.

Remember though: I-900 is the latest spawn of Tim Eyman, the second-sleaziest man in Washington.

The Stranger's Dan Savage voted for Christal Wood too.

Some decaf with your just desserts? King County Councilman/Reverend Steve Hammond (R-9) appears to be riding the splintery wooden rail out of office. You'll recall that Pastor Hammond was so moved by the victims of Hurricane Katrina, he introduced legislation to make prevention of looting a higher priority than rescue operations.

Erratum: I've had to wipe older listings in the RSS feed, something to do with my aggregator not liking xml written in Wordpad. Sorry.

King County primary results
Yesterday: Busted! Bush official arrested for corruption, linked to Norquist, Abramoff, Ralph Reed

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Posted September 20, 2005
Reconstruction II

George W. Bush's personally-drawn plan to rebuild New Orleans:

New Orleans.
A city barely alive.
My fellow 'mericans, we can rebuild it, we have the technocracy.
We can make the world's first biotic city.
Better than it was before.
Stronger.
Faster.
The Six Million Dollar Plan (because that's all we have left after Iraq, tax cuts, and helpin out Halliburton)

City of New Orlantis

Landview
↑ Levees↑ Levys
Lakemiddle
Goldbergs↑

Gentile-y
Levi's↑
Lake

Poncharello
Rue d'McClanahanJacques Cousteau


Floating
French
Hindquarter
Double Bourbon St.↓Hearty Burgundy StJacques Clouseau
Casinos


Vincent Gardenia DistrictTerry Garrtown

Also today: current events from Filmstrip International.

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Posted September 16, 2005
Mayor states the obvious

Mayor Greg Nickels withdraws support for Seattle Monorail Project, calls for project revote. What he said:

  • Withdrawing the City's support
  • Plan is too risky. Finance plan not prudent. Unrealistic. Compromised design & functionality.
  • Cancelling transitway agreement.
  • Wants advisory measure on ballot- should project continue now that risks are known?
  • calls on SMP to come up with ballot measure or City will do it for them
  • Wants alternatives if no monorail
  • 'Regional decisionmaking gridlock'. Current process no longer works. Calls for new cooperative approach to plan, fund, build transportation projects
  • 2 Cents: Mayor Horizontal risks nothing, as he is in no danger of losing reëlection.

    Whiz-O Quality Assortment Link This

    Reuters
    "...empty, still partly under water, and waiting for life and hope to return"

    Celebrate Constitution Day today! Exercise your rights! Speak freely! Assemble peaceably! Petition! Arm bears! Learn about Article II, especially Section 4, the part about impeachment.

    Lying Scum Guide: Vote Sept. 20! Digging into my mailbag, I find campaign mailings to be the majority of the junk mail. I urge you to read last week's Stranger piece about how there doesn't seem to be any candidates who in their literature aren't clearly lying through their teeth. Herein I'll just make a few critical observations on a few local wardheelers:

    :: City Council candidate Paige Miller looks more like a candidate for Waterfront Trolley Driver. She says she'll bring her record on the trolley and airport light rail to the issues of the monorail and Northgate LRT—which must mean she'll make the most expensive and least thought-out proposals. So yeah—eminently qualified.

    :: The cover photo of City Council candidate Dwight Pelz's brochure shows him in an I Care opportunity with a scientifically selected rainbow crosssection of the community. As a legislator he did a great job representing the most diverse and Democratic district in the state. And now he's working against that district, backing the LRT project that is subjecting small, minority owned businesses to enormous hardships (1, 2). Oh, and he thinks the LRT is underbudget.

    :: Cleve Stockmeyer, running for reëlection to the Monorail board, writes that he "opposed budgets with excessive salaries." Yeah, he opposed them; he just didn't call attention to them is all. He also links the monorail and reducing congestion, which is the moral equivalent of linking Iraq to 9/11—the two things ain't connected.

    Finally, some advice to Mayor Horizontal: being unable to say No to having your picture taken doesn't make you photogenic, any more than posing in front of something means you can take credit for it. Get back to us when you start treating people as more important than cars—i.e., when all neighborhoods have sidewalks (remember those 2001 promises?) and the nonarterial speed limit is 15 mph.

    Christal Wood for Mayor

    Overheard at Paper Zone:

    20-something woman on cellphone: Oh, I'm going to a birthday party. I've known her about ten years, but I wouldn't call her a friend. It's so funny you'd think that.

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    Posted September 14, 2005
    I love the 9th Circuit Link This

    The madcap band of merry jurists has again stuck its finger in the eye of the fundamentalists, with Judge Lawrence Karlton holding that a required recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.

    Now I take my national symbols seriously: I don't have the flag printed on my clothes or have one flying all hours in all weather, and you can take away my Constitution when you pry it from my cold dead hand during a PATRIOT Act search of my home.

    I decry today's cheap pseudopatriotism that reduces it to a magnetized trinket you can buy at the Walgreen and slap on your car, an audience participation warm-up at a sporting event, or a slogan to be chanted at people who happen to hold a different opinion.

    But I can't say I pick the Pledge as one of my liberal nits. Being forced to say the Pledge as a child didn't keep me from becoming a godless Democrat as an adult. Contrary to right wing belief, uttering the name of god doesn't cause my tongue to burn. In fact, I prefer "America The Beautiful" over the "Star Spangled Banner," even though the former mentions the almighty and the latter does not. "America The Beautiful" is just a better song.

    Anyway, there really aren't many situations today where adults have to recite the Pledge, unless you attend a lot of televised GOP events. But if you do encounter such a situation, and you really don't want to say "god," try substituting Mr_Blog's friendly, liberal transposition instead: "One nation under Dog."

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    Judge Roberts Gets Grilled (excerpts)
    Link This

    Recreation Room
    The Roberts Residence

    Josephine 'Josie' Roberts, age 5: Would the family come to order? Quiet please. Welcome, daddy.

    Judge John G. Roberts: Good morning, Josie.

    Josie: Daddy, do you have an opening statement?

    Judge Roberts: I do. I was greatly honored when your mommy nominated me to preside over the family during her annual 1-week visit to see Grandma Kathleen and Grandpa John. I have been preparing for this responsibility for my entire life, and I feel I am ready to do my best in interpreting mommy's wishes as they pertain to you, your sister, and our beautiful home.

    Josie: Thank you daddy. Let's begin the questions with the gentleman from the smaller children's bedroom.

    Jack Roberts, age 4: I thank my senior sibling. Daddy, mommy's opinions in the area of bedtimes are well established. However, just before you drove her to the station she stated that in the future she would consider delaying bedtimes by one hour, in instances where bedtime conflicts with the TV program "Crocodile Hunter." What are your thoughts with regard to this subject, and to the possibility of deciding the matter this week?

    Judge Roberts: As I have said since the day mommy nominated me, it would not be proper for me to comment on issues that might come before me to be decided, and bedtimes are certainly one of them.



    Jack: I want to refer you to last month's decision in MacDonalds v. Subway. In that decision you found an exception to mommy's policies on nutrition. I have here a DVD of the doumentary "Super Size Me," which I'd like to introduce as an exhibit. Now the question is, the hypothetical question, daddy, is: if I were to request ice cream for dinner, doesn't McDonalds create a precedent?

    Judge Roberts: That's a question that seems very likely to come up this week. While I support ice cream, and in my personal view there is not-

    Jack: Stare decisis, daddy. You took us to McDonalds, you let me have two apple pies.

    Josie: Let him finish.

    Judge Roberts: You've not accurately represented my position on McDonalds. Without saying how I would decide that question, while I did take you to McDonalds, the decision was not upheld later, as it was overruled by mommy. Under vertical stare decisis I would be bound to follow that ruling. So that's a settled matter.



    Jack: Recently, a sitter made a decision which relied on a foreign precedent. She gave us dinner, which included okra. I objected, and she said, and I quote, "eat your okra, you're a growing boy. There are children starving in Africa who wish they had okra to eat." Now I ask you, how could such a foreign precedent be relevant to our family rules? It's not like mailing our okra to African children, which at the time I suggested, is an option.

    Judge Roberts: Without indicating how I would settle that case, and it is very likely similar questions could arise again, let me say that my personal views on okra are not dissimilar to your own. Even though I think she got it wrong, that type of foreign precedent is not a controlling factor in the decision, which is that you should eat your dinner.



    Josie: Daddy, do you find a right of privacy in mommy's rules?

    Judge Roberts: Certainly. The right to privacy is found in mommy's Quiet Time, when you may sit in your room undisturbed and play, or read. It is also found in mommy buying you your Hello Kitty diary, which has a locking flap.

    Josie: Does that right extend to an individual buying something at Toys R Us? For instance, if Grandma Kathleen wanted to take me to purchase a Bratz doll, with my own money, doesn't my right to privacy proscribe parental interference?

    Judge Roberts: That's a specific case I might be called upon to decide. But I can say mommy thinks it is in the family's interest not to waste money.

    Josie: But you already have given opinions on similar matters. I have a copy of an email you wrote to Grandma Rosemary, may I read it to you? You wrote: "A puppy is not a waste of money, a boy should have a dog. If Jack wants to get a puppy, and use his own allowance, that should be OK."

    Judge Roberts: Without commenting on particular hypotheticals of particular cases, I would remind you that your money is given to you by mommy and daddy. Therefore it is subject to conditions by mommy and daddy.

    Josie: But those were your words.

    Jack: If you're trying to leverage a kitten, I want to question daddy about Gameboy privileges.

    Josie: You've had your time

    Jack: You're a smelly fart.

    Judge Roberts: That's a bad word, Jack.

    Josie: Out of order, Jack, you've had your allotted time. Tomorrow in the second round you'll have 20 minutes.

    Judge Roberts: That decision- uh, decisions such as those, were not decided on privacy. My role was not to state my personal views, but to represent mommy's positions. Whether funds did or did not come from an allowance was not the issue in such cases.

    Josie: So they weren't necessarily your views then, but they certainly aren't your views now?

    Judge Roberts: I think that's fair, yes. Mommy's rules are my rules. Mommy, in fact, in Maternalist #78 cautioned against daddy substituting his own belief for her intent.

    Josie: What if Grandma bought the doll for me?

    Judge Roberts: If mommy doesn't think you should have it, that could be a question of separation of powers.

    Josie: But that's part of a grandparent's role in our society! You're stripping her of that jurisdiction!

    Judge Roberts: Again, that's a matter I will very likely be asked to decide...

    Bush: "I take responsibility" on Katrina response.

    Everyone seems to be ignoring the history: Bush has never admitted personal error. Even when his subordinates screw up, he ignores it or promotes them. To him, "taking/admitting responsibility" means "I'm George W. Bush, President of the United States," emphasis on the arrogance (Source, 8/10/05). Whether he admits actual error is to be decided by the upcoming investigation, in which he will investigate himself. Somehow, I doubt he'll be playing the blame game.

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    Posted September 13, 2005
    Defending Dad Link This

    "After all, he tried to kill my dad" was one of Dubya's justifications for focusing on Saddam. Now it seems as if even that personal, gut-level motivation for Dubya's attitude toward Iraq has no basis in reality.

    Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker in 1993 of the flaws in the Clinton administration's conclusions, used to justify the June 1993 cruise missile strike against Baghdad. Hersh wrote of that investigation:

    Precisely what did happen in Kuwait during George Bush's ceremonial visit remains in dispute, with senior officials in the White House, the Justice Department, and the F.B.I. acknowledging that the assassination plot had something of an Abbott-and-Costello quality. "You could say these guys were really not that well trained"
    ...
    there is no evidence that any of the alleged assassins took any overt steps to deploy any bombs.
    ...
    C.I.A. analysts, in attempting to explain the origins of the alleged assassination plot, theorized that the Kuwaiti government "may have then decided to claim this [smuggling] operation was directed against Bush."

    One American counterintelligence official, on being asked about the abject performance of the alleged assassination team, conceded, "I don't think their heart was in what they were doing..." Source

    Now the Wayne Madsen Report (9/12) follows with additional information, adding to the FBI's suspicions of a Kuwaiti put-up job:

    The U.S. ambassador to Kuwait during 1993 was Edward W. (Skip) Gnehm, an ardent Bush supporter who was appointed by Bush in August 1990...

    FBI agents sent to Kuwait to investigate the car bomb assassination threat against Bush believed the entire operation was bogus. They believed the Kuwaiti government rounded up a few Iraqi whiskey smugglers, planted Iraqi ordnance left in Kuwait by Iraqi forces as "evidence," and staged the entire assassination plot in order to ingratiate themselves to Bush and put pressure on the Clinton administration to retaliate against Iraq. The FBI team... sent their reports back to FBI headquarters by secure fax rather than official State Department communications channels [that] would have assuredly come to the attention of [DCI] Woolsey and Bush's allies at Langley. The faxes consisted of 30 to 50 pages per night. A Kuwaiti judge later dismissed the assassination charges against Iraq due to lack of evidence.

    ...Gnehm, eager to please Bush and Clinton, called Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah... at his home during the wee hours of the morning to request permission for the U.S. cruise missiles to overfly Kuwaiti airspace on their way into Iraq... Gnehm, a fluent Arabic speaker, is reported by embassy staff to have been too close for comfort to the Kuwaiti government.

    Iraq as an American projection (2002)

    If you try to stir up a separatist movement in another country, that's an act of war, right? Wayne Madsen reports today that's exactly what Bush is doing in our name in Iran's Khuzetstan province:

    Bush administration seeks to break off oil-rich Arab province from Iran
    The Bush administration continues to back the Khuzestan separatist movement in the oil-rich southwestern province the majority Arab population calls Ahwaz... the Sh'ia Arab separatist movement involves direct support by U.S. intelligence operatives... support from the parallel intelligence operation established in the Pentagon under intelligence undersecretary Stephen Cambone and Undersecretary for Policy and Plans Eric Edelman (the successor to Douglas Feith...)

    ...an Arabic speaking Iranian-American from Khuzestan who works for the Department of Defense has been assigned to the Pentagon's Office of Northern Gulf Affairs [which] replaced the infamous Office of Special Plans that crafted the phony intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq.

    ...new International Public Diplomacy Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, is actively supporting clandestine radio broadcasts to Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan. These broadcasts are conducted by the Voice of the Ahwaz Revolution and are transmitted from Basra, Iraq. The clandestine radio broadcasts complement the very public Radio Farda (broadcasts to Iran in Farsi) and Radio Sawa (broadcasts in Arabic throughout the Arab world).

    Iran reports separatists committing terrorist acts

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    Posted September 9, 2005
    In event of disaster, save the stuff Link This

    KPTK AM1090 (Seattle Air America) carried an item about King County Councilman Steve Hammond (R-9). Hammond is so shocked at the desperate circumstances of Katrina survivors that, according to 1090, he wants future county disaster policy to place prevention of looting as the top priority, even above rescue operations. Hammond is senior pastor at Cornerstone Bible Church.

    Links when the search engines pick them up.

    Looting Hammond's highest priority (KLFY, Lafayette LA)
    Also today: Bush moves to suspend fair-wage law for contractors

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    Posted September 8, 2005
    Update: bill would delay bankruptcy changes Link This

    This is how government is supposed to work. Barely a day after news broke about how hurricane victims are likely to get wiped out a second time by the bankruptcy non-reform reform law (yesterday), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) steps up.

    Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, has filed legislation which if passed in the Republican-controlled House would aid Hurricane Katrina victims by imposing a two-year delay on new bankruptcy rules that are scheduled to become law in October. Source

    NOT dead. The news networks are reporting that Dick Cheney is on the ground in Mississippi, on a tour of hurricane damage. But a GoogleNews of "dick cheney" hurricane turns up no photographic evidence as yet, so stay tuned.

    Where's Dick Cheney?
    Halliburton stock at 8-year high after Katrina

    FEMA Political Hack News. Updated 9/9/2005 | 1106 Link This
    I was just going to add this to yesterday's links, but it's just too good. We all know by now that the #1 and #2 people at FEMA had no previous emergency management experience. But what about the #3 official?

    We know his name is Brooks Altshuler. Almost zero (1, 2) is on the Web about this important official.

    The "Plum Book," the listing of all federal positions that can be filled by noncompetitive (political) appointment, lists Altshuler as "Director of Policy" on p. 89. And what did he do to earn this 'plum' position? Well, he was as a $51,250-a-year White House advance man where, according to the Chicago Tribune, he worked with #2. After that (2002 to 2003) Altshuler is listed as working in "TD"—Trade Data?—at the International Trade Administration. So no emergency management experience, unless you count the trade deficit.

    He only graduated law school in 2000.

    Giving $500 to Bush and the RNC in 2004 sure didn't hurt either. Of course, that's more like Altshuler's Thank You to Dubya.

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    Posted September 7, 2005
    But no shortage of moral bankruptcy Link This

    Last night I was watching CNN and thinking, "wow, at least people who got wiped out by Katrina and the floods will be able to declare bankrup- oh crap, THAT'S RIGHT." And this morning brings this from the Washington Post:

    The new bankruptcy law that goes into effect Oct. 17... will make it harder and more expensive for people to completely wipe out their debts, and consumer groups that oppose the law say it couldn't come at a worse time for Katrina victims. ...many will be unable to provide the paperwork -- tax statements, pay stubs and six months of income and expense data -- required by the new law. Nor will they have the time to attend mandatory credit-counseling courses.
    ...
    Wayne A. Abernathy, an executive director of the American Bankers Association... said he was confident that judges would be lenient. "I can't imagine judges demanding paperwork if it's washed away."
    ...
    Katrina's victims "will be the first guinea pigs through the bankruptcy system," said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor and critic of the new law. "...it costs time and money to litigate those questions. Survivors of a disaster have neither." Source

    Video from volunteer rescue team: [Current.tv ]

    More counts for the indictment of Bush, Chertoff, Brown, IEM, et al:

    Timeline of White House Blame Game
    Leisurely, image-conscious FEMA deployment
    FEMA goes to wrong Charleston
    Offers of Aid Immediate, but U.S. Approval Delayed for Days
    FEMA slow to accept corporate help
    Bush starved state budgets
    Bush crippled FEMA
    First responder volunteers turned away
    FEMA blocks 500-boat aid fleet
    FEMA snubs Chicago's help
    First responders told not to respond without FEMA OK
    Embarrassing response
    Germans: Fake relief work moved with Bush
    Charmaine Neville's horror story 1, 2 - Transcript
    Canadian search & rescue beat U.S. to New Orleans

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    Posted September 6, 2005
    Bush shoring up position, not levees Link This

    The excellent Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) is following a story that might lead to the root cause of the feeble federal response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As usual with the misadministration, it points to privatization of vital public services, rewarding cronies with government contracts, and attempted smears.

    September 4, 2005 -- WMR contacted by spokesperson for James Lee Witt. Yesterday, WMR reported that according to a June 3, 2004 press release from Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), Inc. it received a FEMA contract to develop a "Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan for New Orleans & Southeast Louisiana." The IEM press release stated that among its team partners was James Lee Witt Associates. Witt was FEMA director under President Clinton and he restored that agency's disaster recovery effectiveness after President George H.W. Bush's ineffective response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. According to Witt's spokesperson, James Lee Witt Associates continues to be fraudulently listed on IEM's web site as a team partner for the over $500,000 FEMA contract work. The IEM press release that contains the erroneous information has been disappearing and reappearing, another sign of something suspicious with IEM.

    IEM, which is an 8-A minority-owned firm, apparently used Witt's name as a "buy in" ploy to lock in the FEMA contract. What is fishier is that the IEM press release was reportedly sent out before the FEMA contract was actually awarded. After IEM began the work on the FEMA contract, it never once used Witt's company and did not pay it one cent. Informed sources claim that IEM, owned by a big donor to the GOP, is notorious for not completing work after contracts are awarded. The Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan for New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana was no exception. Mr. Witt is now acting as a pro bono disaster recovery adviser for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Witt's spokesperson was frank is stating, "you don't really think the Bush administration would have given a contract to someone who worked for Bill Clinton?" That is very true. The issue with the incomplete FEMA hurricane preparedness plan is in IEM's and its actual partners' court. James Lee Witt, likely America's most effective FEMA Director, had nothing to do with the IEM work and he now needs all the support the nation and state of Louisiana can muster as he prepares to confront America's worst natural disaster in its history.

    IEM hides involvement in La. disaster planning... It's back
    Blanco appoints Witt to head La. recovery
    W tries to blame Gov. Blanco

    By way of follow-up on the bizarre The World Doesn't Care bombast by KIRO 710's Dori Monson, peruse these items:

    From the Great White North: "Thanks, But No Thanks!" U.S. Rejects International Aid Offers
    DailyKos: Canadian rescue team sent home

    And from the long weekend:

    CNN: Katrina could drive water over levees
    "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees"
    National Hurricane Center: Bush & Brown were briefed
    FEMA rated N.O. hurricane strike a dire national threat
    Levee repairs "a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity"
    Dubya visit shuts down relief efforts
    Laura Bush shuts down com center for 8 hours
    Bar Bush: evacuees "were underprivileged anyway"
    Louisiana officials on Meet The Press
    Report: NW Airlines relief plane delayed so FEMA flight could be first on the ground (9/01 4:30pm)

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    Posted September 3, 2005
    State of the Union 76 Link This

    "Don't buy gas if you don't need it" -George W. Bush, 9/1/2005

    Four months later

    Mr. Speaker, Vice President Frist, members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

    Four months ago I gave you all the following advice on rising gasoline prices: don't buy gas if you don't need it. And the American people have proved themselves up to the challenge. I am pleased to report that since then, the amount of gas sold has not exceeded the available supply. (Wait for applause)

    The price of gasoline has stabilized at $5 a gallon, and I have received assurances from oil producing nations that we will never pay more than $88 for a barrel of petroleum. In short, the state of our union is strong. (Wait for applause)

    Many have contributed to the effort, and I now want to recognize some of these American heros.

    Mr. Ardeep Satinder Singh (Gesture to gallery) is recovering from burns suffered in the loss of his Sunoco station. When shooting broke out between people waiting in the afternoon gas queues, ricochet sparks set fire to the pumps. Mr. Singh valiantly rescued three SUVs and two boxes of kittens from his service bay. (Wait for applause)

    Mrs. Emma May Toland. This brave 72 year-old grandmother to 17 grandchildren commandeered an aluminum fishing boat from a local dealership. She arc-welded a 50-caliber machine gun to it, and patrolled her neighborhood to protect it from looters. (Wait for applause)

    Smooth Antoine Robidoux. This New Orleans entrepeneur was trapped on the second floor of his business with 27 scantily clad female employees and their business clients. Mr. Robidoux personally helped these survivors, which included U.S. Senator Trent Lott, swim over two miles to reach safety. Unfortunately all of Mr. Robidoux's business records were lost. (Wait for applause)

    We thank them all and many more for their courage and service. (Expect sustained applause)

    But much hard work remains. We cannot forget the tragedy of September 11, and those terrorists we continue to struggle with in Iraq. Major resources will continue to be required. Therefore I ask all Americans to do their part in making sure those resources are available. There is much you can do to help.

    First, don't spend money if you don't need to. Send your extra money to the U.S. Treasury.

    Second, don't exercise your civil rights if you don't need to. Save them for later use.

    Third, don't watch or read the news if you don't need to. TVs and radios use energy, and newspapers take paper urgently needed for the struggle against terror. (Wait for applause)

    Finally, today I am issuing an executive order that will prohibit the use of firearms within 50 feet of a gasoline pump. (Expect sustained applause, allow Singh to acknowledge)

    We are recovering. But there is still a long road ahead, and there will be many metaphors along the way. We can only pray for the strength to get the job done, or that Jesus returns before we run out of oil. Thank you, and God bless America.

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    Posted September 2, 2005
    My Two Dads Link This

    In just a few dozen hours, a hurricane has done what five years of liberal activism only partially succeeded at: put the full scrutiny of the American People and Media on the White House.

    It's a test. Of leadership. The Bush Administration is failing, and the public's response is justifiable wrath. Because Dubya doesn't have the command skills to govern in a competent way, who does he turn to for leadership on the relief efforts? The guy whose life seems dedicated to proving himself to daddy runs to his father figures: George H.W. Bush and step-dad Bill Clinton.

    In the past, Bush Jr. seemed immune from criticism. The tamestream media largely gave him a pass when it came to bad news. But now news organizations are making up for lost time, the criticism is not trickling out: it's a torrent.

    :: Bush's cuts to FEMA, the USACE, and southeastern flood control (detailed in Salon) are not just widely reported--the cuts are being linked explicitly to the shifting of money and personnel to Iraq, and money to tax cuts.

    :: Since last night, these facts are being juxtaposed with Bush's lame excuse, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

    :: New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's desperate cry for help for his city is leading national newscasts.

    :: Ted Koppel roasted FEMA's Michael Brown (.mov) for the clueless federal planning and impotent response. Even news kitten Paula Zahn got in on the action (.wmv).

    :: The story of Condi's evening on Broadway and shoe-buying spree is all over the blogosphere. Too bad Ferragamo doesn't make hip-waders.

    All the administration can do is blame the victims: the same Brown said the thousands of victims "chose not to leave", and the necon media, such as Limbaugh, is aping the talking point.

    In fact, the federal response is so bad that I fully expect a revelation that early in the week, when the time came for Bush to take an executive decision, he was stuck for several hours on a particularly difficult passage in the goat book.

    But you know what? I'm not angry at Bush about this. I'm tired of being angry at Bush, I've been angry for five years. The country at large is angry now, and I'm going to cooly observe a presidential administration's slide to political oblivion.

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