Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I really won't have time to post much for awhile

...but since Houston has suddenly turned into the confluence of the two events focusing the nation's attention, I thought I'd better tell you what I'll be up to:

-- I'll be attending the first stop of the Bring Them Home Now Tour Thursday evening, with Cindy Sheehan and the veterans and their families, so I'll have some thoughts on that combined with my still-unposted Camp Casey report; and...

-- I'll be volunteering to assist the Katrina refugees at the Astrodome this weekend.

So if you don't see anything posted here until next Monday, you'll know why.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Some suffer, some don't

"The city of New Orleans is devastated."

"We probably have 80 percent of our city under water; with some sections of our city, the water is as deep as 20 feet...

Both airports are under water. The twin spans are destroyed. The yacht club is burned and destroyed."

-- New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, from an interview with WWL late last night

Mayor Nagin said that it is possible that the highrise bridge in east New Orleans could be unstable. "All of Slidell, and most of Metairie is under water". Nagin also stated that "there was no clear path in and out of New Orleans," and that I-10 is under water.

CNN also quoted a spokesperson from the hospital associated with Tulane University in downtown, who said that they were moving all of the patients from the hospital due to water standing six feet deep in the first floor and rising at the rate of one inch every five minutes. She said white water was pouring down Canal Street (which would be from the breach in the levee at the 17th St. canal at Lake Ponchartrain).

Nagin: "An oil tanker has run aground and oil is leaking from it. Hundreds of 9th Ward residents have been rescued from the roofs of their homes. Undoubtedly hundreds of people throughout the city will have lost their lives."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Duty calls

so my post on Camp Casey will have to wait. In the meantime you can read Lyn's account here.

Besides, the residents of New Orleans are on my mind this morning. Booman had previously dug this out from 2004:

The worst-case scenario here - a direct strike by a full-strength Hurricane Ivan - could submerge much of this historic city treetop-deep in a stew of sewage, industrial chemicals and fire ants, and the inundation could last for weeks, experts say.

* * *

New Orleans would be under about 20 feet of water, higher than the roofs of many of the city's homes. Besides collecting standard household and business garbage and chemicals, the flood would flow through chemical plants in the area, "so there's the potential of pretty severe contamination," van Heerden said.

Severe flooding in bayous also forces out wildlife, including poisonous snakes and stinging fire ants, which sometimes gather in floating balls carried by currents.

Much of the city would be under water for weeks. And even after the river and Lake Pontchartrain receded, the levees could trap water above sea level, meaning the Army Corps of Engineers would have to cut the levees to let the water out.

And this from a recent NWS warning (they're yelling, so I would take them seriously):





PastorDan put this up also at Booman Tribune -- and there's more at the link -- in order to keep the Big Easyians foremost in our thoughts...

In honor of the City of Saints, an Invocation of the Saints:

  • Bridegroom of poverty, our brother Francis, follower of Jesus and friend of creation:
    Stand here beside us.

  • John XXIII, Pope and friend of the poor, who longed for the unity of all people:
    Stand here beside us.

  • Peacemakers in the world, Dag Hammarskjold and Desmond Tutu, called children of God:
    Stand here beside us.

  • Mask of the Christ, Gautama the Buddha, and Mother Teresa,
    Stand here beside us.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Up even earlier than usual order to leave for Crawford and Camp Casey in about an hour.

Words and pictures about today will appear here tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

What is Tom DeLay doing now?

He's posing with Elvis at a nursing home -- err, campaigning in his district.

Go read this absolutely hilarious post at In the Pink Texas.

Their snark, and that of their commenters, is the best ever of late.

Update (8/28) : Charles Kuffner has a more polite take.

Last night's Daily Show interview

with Christopher Hitchens is now available for your viewing at Crooks and Liars.

You've heard it about it, you've read about it, now you can see it for yourself.

Prairie Weather links to the Texas Observer's in-depth expose' of the tangled web of connections binding the GOP together -- that's a must-click, by the way -- and adds this:

This is a big article about a big mess and these are only the opening paragraphs.

Bottom line: a real investigation, which McCain and the Indian Affairs Committee is supposed to hold, would pull down too many "key" figures in the Republican Party and (worse?) cut off big funding sources.

Now are we motivated to change the color of the Senate and House in 2006?

Well, if we are, we shouldn't count on any help from the SCLM; Editor and Publisher points to the Los Angeles Times piece that shows how the editors of TIME magazine sat on the Plame-Rove-Matthew Cooper disclosures because they did not want to influence the 2004 election:

The article details conversations involving Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby, Matt Cooper and Robert Novak. But near its conclusion it raises an emerging issue, promoted by Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair, among others: If Time magazine had gone public about Rove's conversations with Cooper, it might have had some impact on the Bush - Kerry race for the White House last year.

Not until this summer did Cooper ask Rove for a waiver to talk to the grand jury, and ultimately the public, about their conversation. The L.A. Times article today notes that he did not do this before “because his lawyer advised against it.” But the reporters add that in addition, “Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.”

The story concludes: "The result was that Cooper's testimony was delayed nearly a year, well after Bush's reelection."

That worked out well for everyone, didn't it?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Billmon is yelling anybody listening?

Some stories are so obvious that I fool myself into thinking the facts will speak for themselves. I forget that we don't live in that kind of world any more (if we ever did) and that amensia is no longer just a chronic condition for the corporate media but also a willful one.

So, to drive the point of my last post home a little harder, let me summarize:

The White House propaganda maestros used an Iraqi women's rights activist as a living prop at Shrub's state of the union address earlier this year, whipping wingnut war hawks and media dingdongs alike into a frenzy of teary-eyed patriotism. They also arranged for her to stand immediately in front of the mother of a Marine killed in action in Iraq -- setting the scene for a "spontaneous" hug that reduced a national television audience to quivering lumps of sentimental jello and left Joe Klein spitting phlegm-coated bile at the Democratic Party.

Now, that very same activist is telling the world the Americans just sold her, and her Iraqi sisters, down the river to a bunch of medieval mullahs with Made-in-Tehran labels on the insides of their turbans.

Will her betrayal simply be pushed down the media memory hole with yesterday's garbage? Are we really that far gone?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Camp Casey Day 6

brainshrub has another report:

As usual, I am writing from the back of the tent at "Camp Casey II" on a borrowed laptop via wi-fi connection. I don't know if I'll ever want to blog indoors again. Something about being outside while surfing the internet makes blogging seem like a miracle.

I have just been handed a half-melted ice cream sandwich; I'm typing with one hand and munching cold vanilla bliss with the other. Ice cream at the end of a hot, Texas day is the most glorious food in the world.


People who have been here awhile will mark the number of days they have been here on their nametags. It's the closest thing to rank that anyone has around here.

Ann Wright, the closest thing to a "leader" here, can be seen walking around with her head still wet from a shower, helping to do dishes and giving administrative advice to the Peace House.


I've sweat so hard today that there are wide salt-marks on my shirt. Most of the day has been spent the day running around as an assistant to Rebecca Mac Neice.

Rebecca is a joy to work with. She is the only professional videographer here who has camped out full-time and developed a good relationship with both sides of the Iraqi War. The raw footage is so damn good, I'll be amazed if she doesn't win awards for it.


I'm a bit surprised about how few liberal media organizations are represented here. Considering how much they are praising the activities of Cindy Sheehan, you'd think they'd bankroll a few reporters to write from here. DemocracyNow left days ago, AAR is nowhere to be seen and the only person still broadcasting live with any regularity is Brad's radio show.

My regular site has gotten so many hits, that people are staring to sent me emails thanking me for blogging and helping give the Peace Movement a vehicle. IMHO bloggers are getting too much credit for covering the event. The only hard-core bloggers I've meet here so far are myself, TruthOut and BradBlog. There are rumors that Markos Moulitsas from the Daily Kos is here, but I haven't seen him.

The real force behind the media coverage are the common citizens here who are writing letters, urging friends to contact their congresspeople, and taking telephone calls from media organizations too lazy to send a reporter to do it in person.

Case in point: The only major publication I've meet in the six days I've been here is Eric Pfeiffer, a columnist for the National Review. Let me repeat what I just wrote just in case you think I'm kidding: A columnist for The National Review.

What this means is that resistance to the Iraq war is not being driven by progressive media or by bloggers. It's organic and much more mainstream than anyone cares to admit.

There is no attempt to coordinate the message by IVAW, Gold Star Mothers for Peace, MoveOn, Not In Our Name or Code Pink. It's all being done organically by common citizens. Bloggers and indie-media bloggers are spreading the information fast, but we aren't driving it.

More, including comments, here.

I'll be heading that way to spend a day this weekend.

Two of ours come out swinging

As the situation in Iraq deteriorates almost as quickly as the price of gas rises and the President's poll numbers fall, two of the Texas Democratic candidates yesterday broadsided their GOP incumbent opponents for their respective failings.

David Van Os writes under the headline "Yearning to Breathe Free"(emphasis mine):

An August 22 story in the Austin American-Statesman describes the plight of immigrant workers who perform some of the most laborious jobs in our economy yet have difficulty obtaining the pay they have earned for their work. (“The power of shame pays off; public vigil helps migrants claim money owed to them,” Austin American-Statesman, Asher Price, 8-22-05; link above req. reg.)

Under state law the Texas Attorney General has the power to come down hard against unscrupulous employers who exploit low-wage immigrant workers by refusing to pay such workers for work they have performed. Suits by the Attorney General to obtain injunctions and to assess the stiff monetary penalties provided by Texas payday laws would quickly get the attention of employers who unlawfully refuse to pay their workers and would deter other employers from similar conduct.

The immortal words on our Statue of Liberty proclaim, “Give me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” We are mostly a nation of immigrants who came and whose ancestors came to this land fleeing injustice and seeking the breath of liberty. The exceptions, such as those who are descended from victims of the African slave trade and those whose ancestors were incorporated into the nation under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, nevertheless often take lead positions in our nation’s pursuit of freedom and justice for all. No human being can “breathe free” if unable to purchase the necessities of life as a result of laboring without just compensation. The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution is uncompromising in its permanent prohibition of involuntary servitude as a fundamental value of the American social covenant.

The Texas Legislature meant what it said when it enacted laws against non-payment of wages with stern penalties assessable through suit by the Attorney General. While the current Republican Attorney General politically grandstands over a Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol Grounds, he ignores the biblical injunction that "You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers.” The Republican Attorney General should move quickly on this issue, but he will not do so because it would interfere with the immigrant-bashing philosophy of his radical political base. It is a terrible shame that enforcement of the laws of Texas on behalf of the working poor will have to wait until I am sworn in as Attorney General in January 2007; but when that time comes, enforcement will arrive swiftly and aggressively on behalf of not only immigrants but all Texas workers, regardless of background or status, who are victimized by such unjust and unscrupulous labor practices.

And then Barbara Radnofsky smacks down KBH with this:

Recent news reports showed that Senator Hutchison has abandoned the issues on which she based her announcement to seek re-election, choosing to focus on three issues our campaign identified: veterans? affairs, education, and health care. She has crawfished on a variety of issues our campaign raised.

* She has flip-flopped on veterans affairs after a series of speeches and press releases from our campaign, and has finally called for a VA Hospital south of San Antonio, after months of my campaigning for such a facility.

* She has flip-flopped after her abandonment of her Constitutional obligation of Advise and Consent, and is now calling for Senate vetting of Supreme Court appointees, after her prompt rubberstamping of the President's nomination and her immediate call on her colleagues to ensure the nomination.

* She wrongly claims to be supportive of health care when in fact she voted against the bipartisan Bingaman-Smith amendment that restored Medicaid funding cut from Texas. After the last eleven years of rubberstamping and failed leadership, Texas now leads the nation in percentage of uninsured children and adults. She now parrots our campaigns call for insurance reform. We call on her to echo our call for prompt pay and preventive care.

* She wrongly claims to support education, while on her watch Texas has achieved the lowest high school graduation rate in the U.S. We call on her to echo our recommendations for mediation and full funding for grants for higher education.

* She has proudly touted her role in passage of the transportation bill. We call on her to concede that the transportation formulas in the bill that she rubberstamped have harmed Texans, sending our hard-earned Texas dollars out of state so that we can build needless construction projects in Alaska.

It sure will be nice to have real leaders in Austin and Washington for a change, won't it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

We ALL need two

Conservatives going buckwild

Pat Robertson thinks it's time for the United States to assassinate the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

He went on at length about it:

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Keith Olbermann caught Rush Limbaugh denying and trying to cover up only his most recent smearjob -- the one he performed last week on Cindy Sheehan. It would be funny if it weren't so wretched:

On his daily radio soap opera, on August 15, Limbaugh said “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents, there's nothing about it that's real…” The complete transcript of the 860 words that surround those quotes can be found at the bottom of this entry.

Yet, apparently there was something so unpopular, so subversive, and so crazy about those remarks that he has found it necessary to deny he said them - even when there are recordings and transcripts of them - and to brand those who’ve claimed he said them as crackpots and distorters. More over, that amazing temple to himself, his website, has been scrubbed clean of all evidence of these particular remarks, and to ‘prove’ his claim that he never made the remarks in question on August 15, he has misdirected visitors to that site to transcripts and recordings of remarks he made on August 12.

Limbaugh is terrified. And he has reason to be.

And even our local right-wing freaks are jumping on the crazy train. From Tom DeLay's suburban outpost in Sugar Land, here's Safety for Dummies (hat tip to BOR):

The Governor (of Texas, Rick Perry) will be in Houston on Monday (August 22) at 2:30 for a Press Conference on Education Issues. We need to build a good crowd for the event. Please join us and invite 5-10 people to come along.

Let’s try not to blast this around but attempt to build a friendly crowd. We want to avoid Strayhorn people.

As Marcus noted:

On an issue as big as education, I would have hoped the governor would have asked his friends to bring more than 5 to 10 people to hear what he has to say. Safety for Dummies stresses the point that the email says they "need" a friendly crowd. It is a good thing then that they are avoiding the "Strayhorn people". I hear them people hate education... or, wait, is it the fact that they hate the way Perry has failed the state's education system?

I may just make "Conservatives Gone Wild" a regular feature of this online magazine.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Three views of Camp Casey

One from the damned liberal media:

However, Cindy Sheehan's gone but the camp up here is even bigger. More and more people are coming from around the country. They now have this enormous setup, Camp Casey. Used to be a couple pup tents, now it's this enormous--we call it the Cirque du Soleil tent with eight spikes, catered meals, a Cindy shuttle, a peace shuttle that takes people up and down the mountain. Right now it's PETA, hippies, Naderites. The question is, if it becomes the Little League dads, Pop Warner moms, then the White House has a big problem.

-- Mike Allen, on Face the Nation yesterday

There were several shuttles carrying people between the camps and the house. The line moved quickly, and people were practically competing for the chance to give up their seats for anyone they thought might need it more. We boarded a van and headed out. A hundred or so bikers were parked at some businesses, and we were told they were there in "support of the troops," though from another viewpoint from ours. The van proceeded to Camp Casey 1, the original. Thinking that it was moving day anyway, we stayed on board and went on to Camp Casey 2. I caught a glimpse of Dylan Garcia, in a floppy hat and glasses as the van rolled by. Cars were parked along the street as far as we could see. Cindy's original tent was there, and probably 50 more along the roadside. The crosses that had been run down lined the road perpendicular to the rest of the camp, starting at Cindy's tent. Driving past those crosses for the first time is a moment I'll always remember. About 6 or 8 counter protesters sat across the triangle.

-- Lisa, my friend who was there this past weekend (dial-up warning: pic-heavy)

We were there about 20 minutes when Stan Merriman (Chair Emeritus of the PPC) and Jim Rine (San Jacinto Democratic Veterans Brigade) and Charisse Hines appeared. They brought the flags of the Texas fallen that were originally assembled for Memorial Day by Jim's group, along with the flags representing the unit that lost their lives with Casey Sheehan. After a while, the folks that set up Arlington West brought 800 of the crosses for Camp 2. Several Houstonians pitched in to set up the flags around the new Arlington West. In no time, the crosses and flags were positioned into an amazing memorial. We were almost finished placing the flags when there was a flutter of excitement. There was Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistle blower who is running for Representative from Minnesota and Becky Lourey, a Minnesota state senator who lost her own son in Iraq filming a documentary.

-- My friend Lyn, who was also at Camp Casey this past weekend (pic-heavy)

Sounds like Bush is in trouble, Mr. Allen.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A foamy-mouthed rant

from the editor of this cycling enthusiasts' magazine:

A few irate letter-writers have suggested that we keep politics out of cycling here at, and we can see their points, once they've removed their Bush-Cheney 2004 caps. After all, the liars, cheaters and dopers infesting politics might teach cycling's liars, cheaters and dopers a few new tricks, and God knows it's already tough enough to tell who's on the up and up these days, no matter how much blood gets drawn or spilled.

Still, if the daily papers are going to cover the Recreationist-in-Chief's mountain-bike rides as though they were actually news, it's only right that cycling publications occasionally take note of his political shenanigans. Fair is fair.

And besides, if you snip the politics out of the much-ballyhooed weekend mountain-bike outing involving Bush and Lance Armstrong, you have no story at all, beyond two public figures scratching each others' backs, which is only notable if both are naked except for a little chocolate sauce.

Armstrong may be retired from racing, but he's still on the clock as an anti-cancer spokesman, and it's important to have the ear of the president on such matters, assuming he can keep it out of the dirt long enough to hear what Lance has to say on the topic.

Dubya is not retired, though he often acts like it. Especially this weekend, when he will spend a little time on our dime basking in the reflected glow of a Texan who is still popular with many Americans who are still alive. You can't buy publicity like that, though the White House has certainly tried. Hell, if I were Dubya, I would captain for stoker Barney Frank on a pink tandem, during a Gay Pride Ride, in prime time during sweeps week, if I thought it would draw the nation's eyeballs away from my misadventure in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan's slightly less stylish sojourn in the buzzworm-infested ditches outside my Crawford getaway.

So let's not kid ourselves here. This isn't about one good-ol' boy inviting another to drop by the ranch for a friendly ride. This isn't a case of two guys who may disagree on political issues burying their differences in the name of velo-sport. This is a photo op', what we in the news business call "a grip-and-grin," and it has as much to do with bicycling as the war in Iraq does with bringing an end to global terrorism. Armstrong is using Dubya for his cancer crusade, and Dubya is using Lance to make himself look like less of a heartless prick. End of story.

There's more after "end of story" and it's a spicy as a habanero ...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Rumsfeld's Ray Gun

A non-lethal -- but potentially harmful -- crowd control weapon that heats human skin is bound for Iraq, and possibly to a police department near you.

A tough-talking Texan named Edward Hammond has to be a key element of any accurate study of the spooky history of what the military calls the "Active Denial System."

The head of The Sunshine Project, a Texas-based group opposing biological weapons, Hammond shows his disdain for military excesses through swear words and federal disclosure suits that seek to lift a window on military science projects. Two times now, he says, Marine Corp staff handling his Freedom of Information Act claims have mailed him the wrong envelope, mistakenly sending him materials meant for another military office, envelopes that contained classified information.

One of those times, he says, was in May when he received 112 pages of files on the Active Denial System, or ADS, a crowd control weapon built by Raytheon Corporation and slated for military deployment in Iraq in 2006. The documents included descriptions of tests conducted on volunteer subjects at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Hammond, who had requested the documents, noticed something odd. "I saw some of the documents that were marked classified should have been redacted," he said in a telephone interview.

The Active Denial System is a Pentagon-funded, $51 million crowd control device that rides atop a Humvee, looks like a TV dish, and shoots energy waves 1/64 of an inch deep into human skin. It dispenses brief but intolerable bursts of pain, sending bad guys fleeing but supposedly leaving no lasting damage. (During a Pentagon press briefing in 2001, this reporter felt a zap from an ADS prototype on his fingertip and can attest to the brief but fleeting sensation that a hot light bulb was pressing against the skin). ADS works outside the range of small arms fire.

After a decade-long development cycle, the ADS is field ready but not free of controversy. Military leaders, as noted in a recent USA Today article, say it will save lives by helping U.S. troops avoid bombs and bullets in urban zones where insurgents mix with civilians. Temporary pain beats bullets and bombs, but Edward Hammond's files have rekindled scientific questions about how the classified system works, what it does to the body and how it will be used in the streets of Basra or Baghdad or, one day, Boston.

As key scientific questions go unanswered, a version of the Active Denial System is being developed by the Justice Department for use by U.S. police departments. The National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, has issued a half-million dollar grant to Raytheon Corporation for a "Solid-State Active Denial System Demonstration Program," according to the NIJ website. Alan Fischer, a Raytheon spokesperson, said the company is "working on a number of active denial projects, with various ranges. ADS may some day be miniaturized down to a hand-held device that could be carried in a purse or pocket and used for personal protection instead of something like Mace. The potential for this technology is huge."

The DOJ isn't the only one excited. The Department of Energy is experimenting with ADS as a security device that would "deny access" to nuclear facilities.

For most Americans, zapping Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad with a potentially unsafe weapon is one thing; cooking political protestors in Boston or Biloxi will surely be another. Against this backdrop, observers say, Hammond's files become particularly important. "Right now the press really isn't on this," says Hammond. "But that will change when the first videos are released showing this thing being used on people."

More here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

MsQotW and more

When I was in Ohio last week, I met up with a handful of evilDUers, and we talked about Paul Hackett and "Mean Jean" Schmidt and Coingate and their (now-indicted) governor's 13% approval rating and a few other things.

But the most interesting thing -- really! Out of all of that Midwestern Republican madness! -- was the rumor (already vehemently denied) that Congresswoman-elect Schmidt's first order of business was going to be the Blogger's Reform Act of 2006, which would hold blog publishers criminally liable for the truth and accuracy of that which they post.

I can't wait to see the denizens of's reaction to this news.

Americans are Dumb ( I have to check it every day since I found it):

  1. Rush Limbaugh says that humans can't be responsible for holes in the ozone layer (from Media Matters)

  2. They seem afraid to create the .xxx suffix lest someone put porn on the internet (from Wired)

  3. Some SUV drivers think they can clear their conscience for $274 (from Slate)

And the Moneyshot Quote of the Week comes from another local right-wing hyena:

"I love these (gasoline) prices. The higher, the better," said Frank Gafke, of Galveston, a senior service leader for Halliburton on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Gafke said Halliburton's profits - and his savings account - had increased markedly since fuel prices began rising. He predicted that prices soon will reach $3 per gallon for automobile drivers, as well as for recreational boaters.

And, he said, relief at the pump probably won't come anytime soon.

Well, who ought to know better than Frank?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A lot for me to catch up on

I'm going to be keeping my P, for starters.

Some goon ran over the wooden crosses alongside the road in Crawford. He was arrested when they found one of them stuck in his truck tire.

A cousin of the Keystone beer fan who was "getting ready for dove season" earlier in the week offered an acre of his ranch to relocate Camp Casey. So it will be moved out of the ditches beside the road to a spot closer to Bush's dirt farm. Now that's poetic justice.

Chris Bell's launch was widely covered by various blogging compadres while I was gone.

When I was in Austin last week about this time, I asked someone who would know about Walter Umphrey's contribution to Carole Keeton StrayWhore'n, and he said that it was payback to Rick Perry for the legislation limiting lawyer's fees in tort litigation (presumably tobacco and asbestos and implant surgery, since that's where Walt made his millions) .

I think that's pretty funny.

I'm really the last to know: the Democrats now have two candidates for Lieutenant Governor.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cindy's Victory

W.R. Pitt writes:

“This thing, the wheels are coming off it.”- Gen. Barry McCaffrey, after returning from an inspection of Iraq, 08/12/2005

They are sunburned and storm-lashed. They sleep in tents that sit along the muddy earth of drainage ditches by the side of the road. They have been heckled by ‘counter-demonstrators’ who chanted “We don’t care!” during a rendition of ‘God Bless America.’ They have been attacked by fire ants and hassled by local health inspectors. On Thursday morning, at about 5:30am, they were blasted awake by a fourteen-car convoy of Secret Service SUVs which roared through the camp at high speed while leaning on their horns the whole time.

They have been jolted with fear when a local resident fired his weapon into the air several times to make them go away. When the shooter, a Larry Mattlage, was asked why he was firing his gun, he said, “We're going to start doing our war and it's going to be underneath the law. Whatever it takes.” It is safe to say, therefore, that their lives have been threatened.

The thing is, they’ve already won.

Cindy Sheehan and her ever-growing band of supporters intend to stay in those ditches outside Bush’s Crawford “ranch” until he comes out to talk or until August 31st, whichever comes first. They have been there for more than a week now, garnering more and more attention from the national and international press. Yes, they are tired. Yes, they are uncomfortable. Yes, they have already won.

Rest here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Moneyshot Quote of the Week

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

The comments came prior to a bike ride on the ranch with journalists and aides.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Good morning, Cincinnati

Here's a picture that looks exactly like what I can see out the window.

(Since that's Mr. Monroe's copyrighted photograph, I will take it down shortly.)

We've finished our business in the Queen City, but remain ensconced in the Netherland Plaza downtown, enjoying all the amenities of concierge level service. I think they (not the Hilton, the other people, the ones whose name I haven't mentioned) really want to hire Mrs. Diddie, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, the precipice continues to crumble from underneath Tom DeLay's feet. I wonder which of his cronies is going to flip first. Probably won't be Jack A., but it's bound to be someone, and shortly I'm guessing. I would still prefer that the Imperial Sugarland Bugman not be forced to resign -- or frog-marched from the Capitol -- until about October of 2006 at the earliest.

The standoff continues in Crawford without incident and without concession from either side. Yes, it is petulant and immature and childish, but Bush won't be swayed; he is steadfast in refusing to acknowledge dissent. Everyone knows real men don't ask for directions.

I'm sorry we missed going to Crawford to show support, as well as to Austin for Chris Bell's kickoff, so we'll just have to make up for it some other way.

I'll try to get back here this weekend with deeper thoughts on other matters. But it is the end of summer, after all...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sheehan developments

(Last post from the desktop for a week; laptop appears to be OK, so perhaps the usual semi-regular posting schedule will be in effect. Maybe.)

t r u t h o u t has some liveblogging from Will Pitt on the scene at Camp Casey in Crawford (their servers must be the only ones that can handle the traffic). Rummy and Condi are coming in today, which will undoutedly amp up the tension. Here's the Moneyshot Quote:

Who will get arrested first, Cindy or Osama?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A little travel ahead but not much posting

Arrived just now after spending the day in Austin. Haven't checked any e-mail accounts today as the laptop drank about a half bottle of water. I may not even try to turn it on until I get to Cincy on Thursday evening, just to give it a chance to dehydrate.

Light blogging may get even lighter if it doesn't work right on my trip.

A little bird told me while I was in the state capital today that John Sharp is 'definitely ' in.

More later, but I can't say when ...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bush's vacation

... the one they don't want the media referring to as a vacation, is being interrupted by Cindy Sheehan, who is still upset over her's son's death in Iraq:

"If he doesn't come out and talk to me in Crawford, I'll follow him to D.C.," she said. "I'll camp on his lawn in D.C. until he has the courtesy and the integrity and the compassion to talk to somebody whose life he has ruined."

There's been lots of mainstream reporting of her arrival in Crawford, her conversation with some of Bush's stable boys, and a live interview on CNN yesterday in which she accused the president of treating their previous meeting at the White House as if it were a 'party', a declaration that seemed to shock Wolf Blitzer. Even George Allen, Virginia's Republican senator, said Bush ought to meet with her.

Hundreds of people, spurred by her effort, are heading to Crawford from all over the country to join her protest even as I write this.

Things are going to get a lot hotter in Central Texas this week, and I am NOT talking about the weather.

Marguerite has more on the fundraiser Bush attended at a neighboring ranch last Friday.

Update: Sheehan has apparently been warned that she will be arrested on Thursday.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings reportedly near death

Mediabistro (from last night):

11:50pm: NewsBlues has posted a one-line item: "ABC alerts affiliates to prepare for death of Peter Jennings."TVNewser heard this several hours ago, but hesitated to post it. An ABC spokesperson denied that affiliates were being informed that Jennings' condition had worsened.

Update: 11:55pm: "May God bless Peter and give him and his family strength during these very tough times," a TVSpyer says.

My brother once bumped into Jennings at a New York gym several years ago and indicated that Jennings was profoundly indifferent about meeting his public. I think it's safe for me to say that of the Big Three Anchormen of his time, Jennings was my least favorite, but not for any good reason. He just seemed a bit more smug about his work than did Brokaw or Rather (though Rather grew quickly into the role in later years). I don't mean to speak ill of the almost-dead; it's JMO. Jennings was an extremely capable newsman and related the news -- and his own opinions -- with frankness and without rancor. He may have been the best journalist among the three men.

But I speak in this case in favor of something that I actually despise, and that is personality-driven newscasts. See FOX News, naturally, for the worst examples of this. CNN has desperately tried to follow suit, and made matters much worse by attempting to create personalities where none exist. It's possible that the two vacant chairs at CBS and shortly ABC will be filled by more than one person (and hopefully someone without testicles, but that's a post I'll save for later).

More so than the passing of the torch at the other two Alphabets, this transition will be more difficult for ABC simply because it didn't come as a result of someone's retirement. Disney is considerably more attuned to promoting their brands than either Viacom or GE, so I would look for World News Tonight to morph into something akin to ESPN's SportsCenter.

I'm not sure this is a good thing.

Then again, I'm not sure the networks give enough of a damn about news anyway.

Update (8/8) : R.I.P.

Texas blogs and bloggers

A summary of what's happening elsewhere online in Deep-In-The-Hearta:

-- the ownership change at Burnt Orange Report has not just made this long-time political blog better, but completely reinvigorated it. They have the most extensive interview I've seen online with Barbara Radnofsky.

-- at Corked Bats, Pragmaddict has some excerpts from Chris Bell's speech from the YDA convention in San Francisco, which include the following:

"Let's raise teacher pay, get out of the way, and let them teach."

"Tests don't make you smarter, just like rulers don't make you taller."

"Jesus didn't need a poll-tested focus group to kick the money-changers out of the temple, and David didn't need third-party surrogates to take down Goliath."

"How can we call ourselves progressive if we fail to offer progress?"

-- and there are two new team members at HouDem; Bucky Rea, who has a pretty good blog himself, and Hale Stewart, who has been writing at Kos on economic and public policy matters for awhile.

And all of these people take it offline too, which is to say that they attend candidate functions and DFA Meetups and organize precincts and a lot more. So we're not just banging on keyboards but banging on doors.

Together with the events conceived and sponsored by the two most prominent bloggers in my neck of the woods, I feel pretty encouraged during this hot, slow time in the political season about the prospects for an infusion of purple into the Lone Star.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

"Verily I sell unto you"

Is God becoming a business partner on Main Street, or are some savvy entrepreneurs just making hay on the pretense?

... There are now Christian real estate agencies, cellular and long-distance services, financial planners, computer repair guys, furniture stores, bed-and breakfast associations, diets, yoga and karate instructors, and goat breeders. These companies -- in contrast to religious bookstores, for example -- do earthly things in, they say, a Christian way.

Unlike Curves, Domino's or Coors, for example, which have been criticized for tithing their earnings to archconservative causes -- and unlike the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain, closed on Sundays because of its founder's religious beliefs -- these Christian companies link their work directly and overtly to their missions. ("Christian," in these cases, is generally taken to mean "born again," in which the business owner has a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" that guarantees eternal life, and the responsibility to offer others the same opportunity.) The mission statement of Houston-based auto-repair franchiser Christian Brothers Automotive ("Christian" as in Christian, not a surname), for instance, reads: "To glorify God by providing ethical and excellent automotive repair service for our customers, according to Colossians 3:17, 'And whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.'"

* * *

"I got saved at an Amway meeting, so the marketplace is where I invite Christ into my life," says Chuck Ripka, 46, co-founder of Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minn. ("We invited Jesus to be the CEO of our bank," he says, attributing the bank's "supernatural" growth -- from $5.5 million in start-up capital to $103 million in 27 months -- to divine intervention.) While the bank's name may sound generic (and the company Web site is "God"-free), the Ten Commandments banner in the foyer, the "God Bless You" sign at the tellers station, and the painting in the CEO's office of two businessmen shaking hands with Jesus, might tip customers off. "God has allowed us to be who we are: We're Christians and we're bankers, and we're allowed to mix the two. To me, it's seamless. We're a bank first, but in the midst of it all, when customers express their own needs, I am able to pray along with them," says Ripka, who customarily asks God's blessing for reporters at the end of interviews. ...

"When someone asks, 'Who's your long-distance carrier?' it's a way for me to have a foot in the door to share the message of Christ," says Chandler, who also works as a sales agent for Blessed Hope Communications. Ripka of Riverview Community Bank says he has had 105 people "invite Christ into their lives" on bank premises. (He also claims over 70 faith healings.)

I will read and respond to, with much greater than the usual interest, your comments.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back to Ohio (and then Tennessee)

Paul Hackett nearly pulled it off yesterday.

No, he didn't get elected to Congress. But he did collect 48.2 % of the vote in a southwestern Ohio district in which the previous four Democratic congressional candidates had garnered half that amount. The GOP spent five hundred thousand bucks and dialed every single Republican household in the district with George Bush's pre-recorded pleading to hold onto a district that has been safe for them for the past ten years.

Texas bloggers raised $2100 for the Hackett campaign. Thanks to everyone who dug deep.

On the other side of the Buckeye State, twenty reservists from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Corps, have been killed in the last two days. The emotions in the Cleveland suburb of Brook Park are raw from the news.

Next week I'll be in Cincinnatti for some business and some vacation, and hopefully we'll get to meet some Ohioans whom we've only known previously online. We'll chat and chew over the news above, probably talk about the Coingate scandal enveloping the Republican state leaders, and I'll try to glean some insight about what these things may mean for the possibility of Ohio going blue in 2006 (and 08), and if any of that wisdom can be migrated to Texas.

Before I head north, I'll be in Austin for the steering committee meeting of the Van Os for Attorney General campaign (check out the newly designed website). I'll blog about that next week from Cincy, along with our visit to the Underground Railroad Museum, the Harriet Beecher Stowe home, and the Reds-Giants baseball game we'll get to see from one of the suites at Great American Ballpark.

But this weekend you need to tune in to Justice Sunday II, starring our very own Tom DeLay. Bill Frist was uninvited, despite the event being held in his home state of Tennessee, apparently because he dared to learn that stem cell research is actually good science. Some details about the other speakers can be found here and here.

Update: At, Trevor wonders if the believers on the Right are concerned that DeLay grants special favors to Saipan, where officials forced "pregnant garment have abortions to keep their jobs". And the real imponderable is how a man nicknamed 'The Hammer' became a hero to the people who worship Jesus, who was nailed to a cross ...

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Taos-ification of Marfa

For anyone who has spent time in West Texas -- and it's always capitalized as if it is its own country, because it is -- the region leaves a singular impression, no matter where you've been; Big Bend, Terlingua, Fort Davis and Balmorhea, and certainly Marfa and the Lights. Rustic, remote, desolate, its sprawling sparseness -- "wide open spaces", as the cowboys (and girls) sing -- always seemed, to me, to be at the very end of the Earth.

Or so I thought. Salon notifies us it's being taken over by the Californians:

A classic Western showdown has come to the hottest little town in the country. Set amid the cedar-shaded, yucca-dotted lands of West Texas, surrounded by grasslands as wide as the Serengeti, Marfa may be the last un-Starbucked place in America. In the past few years, a covey of A-list artists, corporate players and real estate speculators have descended on the tiny town (pop. 2,121). Enchanted by its spare beauty -- think "The Last Picture Show" with a Christian Liagre makeover -- they're also drawn by elite cultural institutions like the Chinati Foundation, dedicated to hip installation art, and the Lannan Foundation, a prestigious literary organization.

Trailing in the trendsetters' wake has been the national media. Marfa's press clips glow like newly lit luminaria. Publications such as Vanity Fair, Elle and ArtForum venerate Marfa's Victorian ranch houses and Texas Territorial adobes, the burgeoning art scene and its rich patrons. The movie "Giant" was filmed in Marfa 50 years ago, when its stars James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson could be seen kicking around town. These days, the scene makers include Dan Rather, Frances McDormand, Dwight Yoakam and Tommy Lee Jones. A National Public Radio station is coming. The real estate madness already has. Four years ago, Marfa adobes were selling for $40,000. They're now $200,000 and no doubt a good deal higher after the recent New York Times story, "The Great Marfa Land Boom."

It's a familiar pattern. Western havens like Aspen, Colo., Taos, N.M., and Missoula, Mont., were Marfas once, playgrounds for coast-hugging hipsters who could slip into jeans and the rustic camaraderie of the outback. But those towns are full up now, victims of their popularity. Now the sagebrush Medici come to Texas, piloting the corporate Gulfstream into tiny Marfa Municipal airport and bellying up to the jes-folks atmosphere of Joe's Bar, where the Bud Light costs $1.75. The town remains an aesthete's dream, devoid of Olive Gardens, Best Buys and any sign of the suburban middle class. Rather, Marfa is the honest texture of adobe and fine art set against a big sky. It's the simplicity of line and the haunting emptiness of the land.


Today, on Marfa's main street, tony art galleries and wine shops are driving away traditional cafes and shops, whose local owners can't afford the new sky-high rents. Everywhere you go the townsfolk, independent Texans to the core, lament the changes to their community. The term "ChiNazi" is used locally to describe anyone from out of town who arrives with artistic ambitions and a superior attitude. Observes one local cattle rancher, who asked to remain anonymous: "We're filling up with triple A's -- artists, assholes and attorneys."

Rest at the link.

Regarding the Bolton appointment

Will Pitt explains why we just have to eat it:

Democratic reaction to (Bolton's recess appointment) was vehement. “John Bolton is a person who, in his personal relationship with government employees, has been abominable, mean, unreasonable and bizarre,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Senator Chris Dodd, echoing Reid, said, “He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility. This would be the first U.N. ambassador since 1948 we've ever sent there under a recess appointment. That's not what you want to send up, a person that doesn't have the confidence of the Congress.”

That and a dollar won’t get you a Grande Whatever at the local Starbucks. It sure won’t stop Bush from sending this cretin to represent us in that world body in a day when international cooperation is not only important, but vital to the safety and survival of our republic.

But hey, why should we expect any different? Karl Rove and Lewis Libby betrayed our national security by outing a CIA agent who was keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. They did this to keep the lid on the lies and disinformation being spread about the threat posed by Iraq. A good portion of those lies were put forth by John Bolton. Unless history decides to do an about face, Rove and Libby will walk away from their crimes once Fitzgerald is put out to pasture, and Bolton will slip into the UN building by way of the back door.

It is what it is, and there is probably no stopping it. Perhaps, though, there is an object lesson in this. The American people are about to get yet another IMAX-sized example of what happens in government when the powerful do not suffer accountability. Perhaps the American people will remember this when they go to the polls in the 2006 midterms. Until then, however, we will continue to choke on it.

Uh, yeah. He's right.

The real question is: are we (that's 'we' meaning you and I) going to keep eating it, or are we going to start fighting back?

Update: Via Prairie Weather, the American Prospect explains why Bolton is essentially neutered anyway. And Pete suggests some alternate Boltons that would've worked out better.