Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging With Photoshop

Holiday edition.

Ever wonder what "wildlife experts" do at this time of year?
Shorter Duncan Hunter
From 2Millionth Web Log

Torture is cool.
Wingnut Holiday Feel-Good
From 2Millionth Web Log

Because, you see, greed gruel really IS good:

LONDON (Reuters) – Oliver Twist wouldn't have needed any more gruel in real life, scientists said Thursday.

The picture painted by Charles Dickens of starvation rations in an 1830s workhouse north of London is wide of mark, according to an analysis of menus and other historical evidence.

Dickens' eponymous hero famously asked for more of the "thin gruel" doled out three times daily in the grim institution for the poor where he grew up.

In fact, contemporary recipes suggest such workhouse gruel was substantial, with each pint containing 1.25 ounces of best oatmeal, and servings supplemented by wholesome coarse bread.

Historical data also shows large quantities of beef and mutton were delivered to workhouses, pediatric dietician Sue Thornton of Northampton General Hospital in central England and colleagues wrote in the British Medical Journal.

Such a diet, comprising three pints of gruel a day, would sustain growth in a nine-year-old child like Oliver, unless he was exceptionally active.

"Given the limited number of food staples used, the workhouse diet was certainly dreary, but it was adequate," they concluded.

See--everything was just fine until those damned unions came along, what with their eight-hour workdays, living wages, health-care, vacations, and whatnot.
Update From a Post Below

Here's the video that accompanies The Nation's cover story I mentioned yesterday. It's just over eight minutes long, and well worth viewing.

The Nation also has another pretty shocking article about murder, official malfeasance, and a cover up in the aftermath of the storm and flood. The City That Care Forgot is sadly appropriate.

At a time when another hate monger receives official sanction from, of all people, Barack Obama, it might be a good idea to take notice of how embedded this emotion is...because ingoring it sure as hell isn't going to do much of anything.

And--I doubt seriously that this sort of ugliness is confined to Algiers Point--or to the Deep South, etc., etc. Hell, Rick Warren's anti-gay rants are notable more for their being virtually identical to previous generations rants about Blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, Creoles, name your non-WASP ethnic group, than anything else. I also doubt seriously that attitudes towards said ethnicities have REALLY changed for the generations that cling to them (though, hopefully and thankfully, it seems that successive generations tend towards less hostility.) That said, again, our fate--or the fate of New Orleans--is EVERYONE'S fate...and given the economic meltdown, the day of reckoning might be closer than most people think.

We'll see.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper...
From 2Millionth Web Log

And probably a correction. Media Matters notes the upcoming end of the failed Bill Kristol/NY Times experiment.

This is long and pretty goddamned depressing, but well worth reading. From The Nation:

Immediately after the storm, the media portrayed African-Americans as looters and thugs--Mayor Ray Nagin, for example, told Oprah Winfrey that "hundreds of gang members" were marauding through the Superdome. Now it's clear that some of the most serious crimes committed during that time were the work of gun-toting white males.

So far, their crimes have gone unpunished. No one was ever arrested for shooting Herrington, Alexander and Collins--in fact, there was never an investigation. I found this story repeated over and over during my days in New Orleans. As a reporter who has spent more than a decade covering crime, I was startled to meet so many people with so much detailed information about potentially serious offenses, none of whom had ever been interviewed by police detectives.

[Lance] Hill, who runs Tulane's Southern Institute for Education and Research and closely follows the city's racial dynamics, isn't surprised the Algiers Point gunmen have eluded arrest. Because of the widespread notion that blacks engaged in looting and thuggery as the disaster unfolded, Hill believes, many white New Orleanians approved of the vigilante activity that occurred in places like Algiers Point. "By and large, I think the white mentality is that these people are exempt--that even if they committed these crimes, they're really exempt from any kind of legal repercussion," Hill tells me. "It's sad to say, but I think that if any of these cases went to trial, and none of them have, I can't see a white person being convicted of any kind of crime against an African-American during that period."

You can trace the origins of the Algiers Point militia to the misfortune of Vinnie Pervel. A 52-year-old building contractor and real estate entrepreneur with a graying buzz cut and mustache, Pervel says he lost his Ford van in a carjacking the day after Katrina made landfall, when an African-American man attacked him with a hammer. "The kid whacked me," recalls Pervel, who is white. "Hit me on the side of the head." Vowing to prevent further robberies, Pervel and his neighbors began amassing an arsenal. "For a day and a half we were running around getting guns," he says. "We got about forty."

Things quickly got ugly. Pervel remembers aiming a shotgun at a random African-American man walking by his home--even though he knew the man had no connection to the theft of his vehicle. "I don't want you passing by my house!" Pervel says he shouted out.

Pervel tells me he feared goons would kill his mother, who is in her 70s. "We thought we would be dead," he says. "We thought we were doomed." And so Pervel and his comrades set about fortifying the area. One resident gave me video footage of the leafy barricades the men constructed to keep away outsiders. Others told me they created a low-tech alarm system, tying aluminum cans and glass bottles together and stringing them across the roads at ankle height. The bottles and cans would rattle noisily if somebody bumped into them, alerting the militia.

Pervel and his armed neighbors point to the very real chaos that was engulfing the city and claim they had no other choice than to act as they did. They paint themselves as righteous defenders of property, a paramilitary formation protecting their neighborhood from opportunistic thieves. "I'm not a racist," Pervel insists. "I'm a classist. I want to live around people who want the same things as me."

Nathan Roper, another vigilante, says he was unhappy that outsiders were disturbing his corner of New Orleans and that he was annoyed by the National Guard's decision to use the Algiers Point ferry landing as an evacuation zone. "I'm telling you, it was forty, fifty people at a time getting off these boats," says Roper, who is in his 50s and works for ServiceMaster, a house-cleaning company. The storm victims were "hoodlums from the Lower Ninth Ward and that part of the city," he says. "I'm not a prejudiced individual, but you just know the outlaws who are up to no good. You can see it in their eyes."

The militia, according to Roper, was armed with "handguns, rifles [and] shotguns"; he personally carried "a .38 in my waistband" and a "little Uzi." "There was a few people who got shot around here," Roper, a slim man with a weathered face, tells me. "I know of at least three people who got shot. I know one was dead 'cause he was on the side of the road."

During the summer of 2005 Herrington was working as an armored-car driver for the Brink's company and living in a rented duplex about a mile from Algiers Point. Katrina thrashed the place, blowing out windows, pitching a hefty pine tree limb through the roof and dumping rain on Herrington's possessions. On the day of the shooting, Herrington, Alexander and Collins were all trying to escape the stricken city, and set out together on foot for the Algiers Point ferry terminal in the hopes of getting on an evacuation bus.

Those hopes were dashed by a barrage of shotgun pellets. After two shots erupted, Collins and Alexander took off running and ducked into a shed behind a house to hide from the gunmen, Alexander tells me. The armed men, he says, discovered them in the shed and jammed pistols in their faces, yelling, "We got you niggers! We got you niggers!" He continues, "They said they was gonna tie us up, put us in the back of the truck and burn us. They was gonna make us suffer.... I thought I was gonna die. I thought I was gonna leave earth."

Apparently thinking they'd caught some looters, the gunmen interrogated and verbally threatened Collins and Alexander for ten to fifteen minutes, Alexander says, before one of the armed men issued an ultimatum: if Alexander and Collins left Algiers Point and told their friends not to set foot in the area, they'd be allowed to live.

Meanwhile, Herrington was staring at death. "I was bleeding pretty bad from my neck area," he recalls. When two white men drove by in a black pickup truck, he begged them for help. "I said, Help me, help me--I'm shot," Herrington recalls. The response, he tells me, was immediate and hostile. One of the men told Herrington, "Get away from this truck, nigger. We're not gonna help you. We're liable to kill you ourselves." My God, thought Herrington, what's going on out here?

He managed to stumble back to a neighbor's house, collapsing on the front porch. The neighbors, an African-American couple, wrapped him in a sheet and sped him to the nearest hospital, the West Jefferson Medical Center, where, medical records show, he was X-rayed at 3:30 pm. According to the records, a doctor who reviewed the X-rays found "metallic buckshot" scattered throughout his chest, arms, back and abdomen, as well as "at least seven [pellets] in the right neck." Within minutes, Herrington was wheeled into an operating room for emergency surgery.
"Orderly Bankrupcy" Has a Certain Ring To It...

If you ask me, it sounds like "controlled train wreck," and it's a sadly appropriate but additional metaphor we can apply to this administration as it lurches towards the finish.

From 2Millionth Web Log
A Couple of Loafers
From 2Millionth Web Log

Over at First Draft, I wonder what will be the ultimate symbol of Shrub's legacy--the shoes? Or something else?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

George Tenet, Medal of Freedom Recipient
From 2Millionth Web Log

Setting quite the example...
More "Legacy Building"
From 2Millionth Web Log

The administration that selcted John Bolton to be UN Ambassador now claims fealty to the organization "perhaps more than any other administration."

You know, that's sort of like claiming credit for "reconstructing" the Baghdad Police Academy, which, come to think of it, they also claimed credit for.
Self-Serving, Sanctimonious Prick
From 2Millionth Web Log

That would be Frank "I-Believe-They-Did-Have-To-Die" Gaffney, who evidently thinks himself the Pasha of Televised Punditry.
Gee, Go Figure
From 2Millionth Web Log

Team Bush fucked up the mortgage assistance program.

Actually, you know what it really sounds like? The Road Home Program. Good morning America, how are you--and our fate IS your fate yet again:

The three-year program was supposed to help 400,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure. But it has attracted only 312 applications since its October launch because it is too expensive and onerous for lenders and borrowers alike, Preston said in an interview.

But, you know, if you think about it, this administration is anything BUT The Three Stooges when it comes to heaping dollars by the billions into THEIR troughs. That's what genuinely infuriating about the whole sordid mess. Bush's incompetence and venality is SELECTIVE. Connected fat cats get four star service. Everyone else has to take a number and listen to a lame excuse--usually one invoking bureaucratic arcana.

Residents of New Orleans are all too familar with that--and now the rest of the country's going to get the same.

Except for the well-connected, who wouldn't stand for that for a second.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hard Work
From 2Millionth Web Log

From First Draft:

"There's an interesting lesson about Katrina and the limitations of government assistance to respond to big natural disasters," [Mark] Langdale said. "They are acts of God, and they are tough. It's definitely a story line I would not shy away from addressing somehow in the museum."

Yeah, that cake ain't gonna eat itself, you know.
To the Power of Zero
From 2Millionth Web Log

Bernanke slashes benchmark rates to essentially zero, Shrub claims he destroyed the free market in order to save it...oh, and if you'd like to read a lengthy but fascinating take on the meltdown, click here.

If the worst thing that happens to president Nitwit is a shoe or two aimed at his cranium, well...he's pretty lucky indeed.
The Memoir Thing
From 2Millionth Web Log

He's going to pull out his crayon and scribble something one of these days...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dick ♥ Guantanamo
From 2Millionth Web Log

And that tells you a lot about Dick Cheney.
Go Figure

Countries that don't worship SUVs and drive thru lanes tend to have lower rates of obesity.

They also sometimes get neat things like high speed trains, which, at 186 miles per hour, would make an express run between Baton Rouge and New Orleans about 30 minutes...and even with 15 minute stops in, say, Gonzales and/or LaPlace, would cover the distance far more quickly than a private car.


Karl Rove.
It's Gotta be the Shoes

Link. And yeah, I'm a little late getting to this story, but still.