Saturday, March 31, 2007

Won't You Please Come Home?

Well, I don't want to be a small voice of gloom while Scout Prime, Athenae, and I'm sure a number of wonderful people from around the country see the beauty and horror of New Orleans.

To be honest, I couldn't make it down for all sorts of reasons anyway...but now I've got a very big reason to stay here in BR. The picture above is my cat Earl...and I sincerely hope "is" is still the operative term. He went missing last night.

While not unprecedented, this is HIGHLY in he hasn't done this in about four years unusual, and not since we moved a year and a half ago unusual. I'm over at my office working on a lost cat poster.

Wish me luck. I sure hope my little pardner isn't gone forever.

UPDATE: I'm still holding out hope, but it's not looking good. I've searched, put up flyers, took out an ad in the paper...we'll see. But I don't think I really have a choice--hope for the best, expect the worst. Damn. Goodbye, sweet one. For six years you probably brought more joy to my life than anything. You will be SORELY missed.

Update Again
: Some slight hope: after a couple of reports from people saying they saw a cat fitting his description, I likewise caught a glimpse: well if he ain't Earl, he could be his doppelganger. Unfortunately--or maybe fortunately, from his perspective--he's in complete survival mode. I got within 40 feet or so, and then he bolted...and he acts as if he doesn't recognize me. Ouch.

Well, two things here: ONE, damn I'm hoping it's him. Talk about defying the odds. Two, geez, now I have NO idea how to entice him...I dunno, maybe some food will do the trick...but it's gonna have to be, um, McDonalds, because if it's really him, he taken to a spot near one--he's probably been living off their garbage.

Lastly--even though it's close by, he's in a very rough neighborhood. Ouch again. There's a major four-lane artery between there and here, which might explain why he's been gone so long. How/why he crossed is anyone's guess.

A VERY nice woman told me she saw him when I explained why I was around...however, several young men stared wordlessly, with expressions ranging from contempt to downright hatred. I don't like saying this, but maybe they don't like me because of the wimp factor--I'm looking for my cat...or maybe it's because I'm caucasian. I mean...then again, at least they didn't speak contemptuously...or do anything worse.

I'm going to rest a tiny bit easier this evening. Tomorrow, I'll deal with the contempt/hatred, and try again. Here's hoping I get lucky and it's really him...and that he comes home. Or, if nothing else, that it's him...and he's more or less ok.

Sorry to get so personal, by the way...but I really DO like this cat...he's not just one of the family. For me, right now, he either IS--or was--the family.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday F.Y.I.

Sort of another busy day here at work--happens sometimes...anyway, had a chance to browse the internets before cutting out of here, and came across this Pravda article about the McIlhenny Company, which makes Tabasco out at Avery Island...which is, oh, about ten miles or so from where I grew up.

The "island" is the raised ground off in the distance. No, that's not the view from my house, but it's damn close to being the view from where I worked one of my very first paying jobs: loading hay bales onto flatbed carts as a teenager. If I remember right, I made almost a hundred bucks, woo-hoo, and experienced any number of genuine hayrides.

Anyway, the article notes that the Tabasco plant came awfully close to being put out of Hurricane Rita, which caused unprecedented flooding. Fortunately, the water stopped rising about four inches below the factory floor.

As a kid, I remember seeing the old plant--a beautiful, white-washed stucco structure, and in my mind I can still taste and smell the eye-watering, almost-strong-enough-to-pass-out aroma in one of the aging rooms. Yow.

Avery Island is also home to Jungle Gardens/Bird City, a small nature trail that has local and exotic flora and fauna. Near the end of the trail is a small lagoon: in season, you can see alligators. Or, if you prefer, this is available for viewing year-round:

The Buddha statue and glass case/small pagoda, surrounded by live oaks with spanish moss.

Unfortunately, pictures really don't capture the genuinely stunning beauty...and of course, miss completely the sounds, textures, smells, the overall atmosphere, and so on. There's a certain, well, I don't know...

Oh, and then you've got things like salt, oil, agriculture, fishing, etc. A beautiful region that's also a working region.

This is what Gulf Coast naysayers are all too willing to chunk out with the garbage. Damn.
Using the Google

I think Jeffrey and Da Po' Boy might be onto something...and for whatever reason, I'm in just the sort of mood today to think that the only reason they haven't declared "Mission Accomplished" along the US Gulf Coast is because they don't even want to bother themselves with it.

Oh, and like Da Po' Boy, I also noticed Athenae's posts and reactions upon seeing the now year-and-a-half old devastation/destruction, and the determination of Gulf Coast citizens to preservere--and indeed, resurrect--despite not just government neglect, but government contempt. Oyster mentioned this the other day, too: the scope of damage and destruction must be seen to be believed--just looking at an image on television isn't enough.

And, you know, what's even more startling is that this country is BY FAR the richest nation ever to exist. In comparison, King Midas was a goddamned piker. The reconstruction and restoration of New Orleans--one of America's great cities--would by no means even approach a belt-tightening exercise. Hell, over time, it's an ivestment that would pay for itself and then some.

Unlike Iraq, for example.
KKKarl Rove's Master Plan

So, it looks like the means by which to create a so-called "permanent Republican majority" involved a mix and match of neglect and good old-fashioned voter intimidation. Kind of a Southern Strategy on steroids.

MC Rove? Nah...more like Grand Master Wizard Karl...

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Ack--busy day at work, and I've gotta do some things at home. Back tomorrow.
It'd Take an Electron Microscope to Locate Their Moral Compass

Well, work takes priority, and it certainly did today...but things are finally quieting down...

Anway, just to follow up on my post below: not only do I not doubt for a second that ANY sort of genuine performance review of Team Bush would find them all UNIQUELY UNSUITED AND UNQUALIFIED for the various offices they you get the feeling that they'd whine themselves a vineyard if even so much as threatened with one?

I mean, shit, look at Shrub's petulance at the mere suggestion that neither he nor his staff are above the law re: testifying before Congress. You'd think they'd all been told that they had to run uphill in a blizzard barefoot over burning coals carrying 50 pound sacks of coal on their back...and afterwards, each personally donate $1,000 dollars to the United Negro College Fund, as opposed being sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Oh--and the press, which once upon a time acted in the public interest, watchdogging over government to ensure at least a passing respect for ethical behavior, now plays a different role. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Gregory. Maybe I should've included you in the picture above (and, you know what? Gregory is one of the "best" reporters in DC).

Shifting gears for a know, I thought the press' sheer hypocrisy a decade ago, hrummphing like doddering, blue-nosed prudes about oral sex, might have eventually shamed them into something at least approaching a respect for the real priorities of their profession. But no: they really are little more than dancing monkeys/window dressing for, well, the worst...administration...if not ever, certainly of the 21st Century. They deserve each other.

But does the country deserve either?
Support the Troops, GOP Style

David Iglesias, on one of his numerous taxpayer-funded junkets.

I was unaware that Iglesias was also a Naval Reserve JAG Officer (and evidently the inspiration for Tom Cruise's role in A Few Good Men, but I won't hold that against him)...anyway, Hullabaloo pretty much speaks for me. No, I'm not going to shed too many tears for David Iglesias or any of the other fired attorneys--it's not like they're innocent babes in the woods. They chose to be members of the GOP, which, as we now clearly see, embraces the philosophy of "we'll eat our own if it's politically convenient...even if only for short term, nominal gain."

And hey, the fired attorneys went along with the program, at least until THEIR characters were assassinated, and until they realized that if they didn't retaliate quickly and forcefully, that they'd forever have a big old ugly black mark on their resume: FIRED.

And "US Attorney" isn't exactly something you leave off your vitae.

So...Team Bush has been spinning like crazy since TPM managed to put this on the map. Good. Let 'em sweat. But one thing I find so ironic about this latest example of touche merde on the part of Team Bush is that not in a million years could ANY senior player in the administration survive the kind of performance review they're claiming--or not claiming, depending on the day/hour/minute--anyway, that they're claiming singled out the Gonzo-8 for early termination. Not one of them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Hoops, More Paperwork

Blake Bailey recounts his latest experiences. I'll bet lots of other New Orleanians can relate.

The lack of a national priority in reconstructing not just New Orleans, but the entire Gulf Coast, is appalling. It's as if a generation that's grown up drinking soda from two-liter bottles or plastic Big Gulp cups can't think of anything else.

A disposable country.
A Whole New Meaning for "Demolition Derby"

Pretty much everything you may have ever wanted to know about car/truck bombs, plus probably plenty of things you didn't want to know, are in these two articles. Like, for instance, that the first historically recorded "car" bomb was actually a cart-bomb, as in horse,, boom. (set off in New York City, 1920)

Once you're done, this sobering article points out how car-bombs seemed to have already stymied Shrub's so-called "Surge." Then, of course, there's the car-bomb's first cousin, the IED.

Nice going, Team Bush: while you were busily prancing about and preparing your pathetic victory dance, HUNDREDS OF TONS of unguarded, conventional weapons/explosives were being hauled away by the "defeated" Iraqis--explosives that presently kill and maim our soldiers. Way to support the troops.
Doan: "I 'Honestly' Don't Remember if the Sky is Blue, Congressman"

Ms. Doan likewise had trouble recalling if the grass was green, but when asked if the Pope was Catholic, conceded that it would be reasonable to assume "he's a religious man."*

*Something very similar to this once captioned a Tom Tomorrow cartoon, so credit where credit is due.
Insurance Industry Looks for Some "New, Fresh Ideas"

But decides instead on a more traditional approach.

H/T Library Chronicles.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"The Maverick" Channels His Inner Michael Jackson

The Straight Talk Express makes an extended diversion to Neverland.
Graham: "Torture? Not a Problem"

I guess this morning's post by The Editors (thanks to somebody who calls himself Atrios for the link) really IS on the mark, re: Lindsay Graham's furrowed brow. It's merely an attempt to establish distance from what's increasingly being seen as the political equivalent of exceptionally-smelly-and-rancid-shit-on-a-stick...or, as the much missed Molly Ivins might say, the dead chicken wired hard and fast to the dog's other words, one George W. Bush, who's about one election cycle away from becoming the Democratic "human victory cigar."

But I digress...anyway, on strictly philosophical terms, no pun intended, Senator Graham is just fine with some of the more disgusting, not to mention counterproductive, aspects of Team Shrub policy.

Take a look.
The Flip Side of "Bring The Troops Home"... "gamble them away on a losing bet."

At least it is at this point, which is why it's good to see that, for now, the Senate has retained the timetable for withdrawal in the most recent appropriation.

Meanwhile, Iraq continues its very Bush-like crash and burn trajectory.

Not to be flippant, but these days, when I hear the Shruberor bark-not-so-eloquent on the subject of Mesopotamia, I can't decide if I'm listening to...a particularly stupid driver insisting he's not lost, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, or an equally stupid gambler who refuses to recognize his declared limit and wants to throw away...well, enough of the flippancy: wants to throw away more US soldiers' lives...and probably doesn't give a fart, much less a shit, about dead Iraqis, nor does he give a damn about the money spent (a lot of which is being funneled into the grubby fingers and hands of his political partners-in-crime, which is not a pun).

We'll see where this all goes (my hunch is not-nearly-far-enough) but AT LAST someone is finally telling this spoiled scion/frat boy that enough is enough, hand over the car keys, time to call it a day.

It's the entire country, though, that's in store for an epic sized hangover, and it's not going to be pretty.
Team Bush: Just as Dumb in Nightvision

The so-called "Daddy" administration just got around to putting the clampdown on ITT for exporting propietary night vision technology to places like China--where, contrary to claims by the company, it can probably be reverse engineered, then sold to whoever the hell has the money. Nice.

Saying that American soldiers are "the principal victims of ITT's crimes," U.S. Attorney John Brownlee said he has structured the $100 million penalty so that half of the money is spent by ITT to develop a next-generation night vision system and "ensure that our soldiers have the best night vision equipment in the world."

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it...this is slightly off-topic, but: I guess most dog and cat owners are aware of the Menu Foods recall (thankfully my cat was NOT affected). Anyway, think about it--they can't even keep an eye out on freaking PET Food...
You Know, if I was Tom DeLay

I think I'd skip the Hitler references. Just sayin'.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Wingnut "Logic"

An aide to Abu says she'll invoke the 5th Amendment...because she has nothing to hide...

Gonzales himself said, "smoke--what smoke?" when asked about what was enveloping him above, and later insisted that the presence of smoke "in no way" indicated the possibility of fire.

More like the fog of war, I guess.
Private Sector "Efficiency"

I can't say I'm all that surprised--health care insurers take the premium money, then force the ailing/infirm to jump through hoops before disbursing any of their "profits." Then they deny claims, because, after all, you're healthy enough to jump through you can't be that sick, right? Scum sucking bastards.

Topping it all off, when their despicable practices are brought to light, the excuse is always "mistakes," either by "underqualified" or "overzealous" employees. Never any admission of guilt, even as their actions no doubt have caused needless suffering and death. And, c'mon: those "underqualified" or "overzealous" employees are likely to find their way to the top of the slag-heap, as long as they're not culled by the little game of reverse lotto.

And all for a little money, as Marge Gunderson might say.

I've posted before about this: I'm STILL on the hook for unpaid medical bills, thanks to my then-job's asshole insurance company--they denied a claim I made--and, ok, to my detriment, when I got the letter, I didn't bother to check it...I thought they were accepting the claim. So, I tossed it in the round file.

I'm guessing that because I didn't do some hoop jumping of my own on that one they retroactively issued a denial of EVERY claim I'd made for a period of about two years. Two years when I'd decided to, oh, take advantage of my medical benefits. Nothing outrageous: just more or less regular visits to the doctor--actually, a nurse-practitioner, who was just as good or better than any doctor I've ever gone to--for check-ups, and some follow up appointments for specific symptoms.

All of the sudden, I was liable for full payment...and this was after I'd moved back to Louisiana, had LONG since changed jobs, had thrown away paperwork...sheez.

By the way, the bills aren't going to break my bank...but it's the principle of the thing: no way am I going to play their ridiculous game. I used my medical insurance responsibly, and in good faith. THEY played around with the concept, trying to force me to essentially take on a second job as watchdog/inspector general. No, the hell with 'em.

Fortunately, this HASN'T put me in the credit doghouse...but that's probably because the amounts aren't all that large. For those folks who DO end up in dire situations, well, that's just another example of how "freedom" is defined in a very peculiar manner by the wingnuts: a one-way street. They get the money--we get the stick.

Makes me wonder how they can sleep at night--particularly those who call themselves "Christian."
Quote of the (Satur)Day

Alexander Cockburn:

But today, amid Iraq's dreadful death throes, where are the parlor warriors? Have those Iraqi exiles reconsidered their illusions, that all it would take was a brisk invasion and a new constitution, to put Iraq to rights? Have any of them, from Makiya through Hitchens to Berman and Berube had dark nights, asking themselves just how much responsibility they have for the heaps of dead in Iraq, for a plundered nation, for the American soldiers who died or were crippled in Iraq at their urging ? Sometimes I dream of them, -- Friedman, Hitchens, Berman -- like characters in a Beckett play, buried up to their necks in a rubbish dump on the edge of Baghdad, reciting their columns to each other as the local women turn over the corpses to see if one of them is her husband or her son.