Friday, August 31, 2007

Another "dirty fucking hippie"

Former Reagan aide: 'Brownshirt' Bush among top 'mass murderers of all time'
"The war criminal is in the living room, and no official notice is taken of the fact," Roberts writes. "Lacking US troops with which to invade Iran, the Bush administration has decided to bomb Iran 'back into the stone age.'"

Pretty rough language coming from a Reagan Republican. It's just that it's too late. The dead are already dead. And so is America's good reputation in the world.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Third motorcade crash, second death.

Why is this happening? And what is the Secret Service doing about it?
Officer in Bush's motorcade dies in crash

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Yeah, you right.

Douglas Brinkley writes:

If we want New Orleans to die, we should say so
Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine.

That way, Rove can have his wish, a Republican governor and two republican senators.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Flynt still after Vitter

NY Daily News
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has been layin' low since he admitted last month that he'd been a client of "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey. But now the randy Republican has turned up someplace where he's a lot less likely to find hookers: Iraq. The News' James Gordon Meek reports that he was in the city of Taji this week "eating what looks like mystery meat in the chow hall of a U.S. camp for 1st Cavalry Division troopers." Meanwhile, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, the man who pressured Vitter to admit to paying for sex, tells us his investigative journo Dan Moldea has "nailed down evidence that Vitter had sex [with prostitutes] on more than one occasion." Vitter has denied Flynt's claims that some of his New Orleans constituents serviced him.

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The sound of one shoe dropping.

OK, another great Louisiana headline

No, we don't need to reform health care,

We just need to quit having babies. - U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world, report says
American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found.

Only Latvia, with six deaths per 1,000 live births, has a higher death rate for newborns than the United States, which is tied near the bottom of industrialized nations with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with five deaths per 1,000 births.

"The United States has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, but its newborn rate is higher than any of those countries," said the annual State of the World's Mothers report.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Two more books I want to read

From a review by Peter Lewis in the San Francisco Chronicle

'Attic,' 'Down' chronicle the disaster in New Orleans after Katrina

A passage about Chris Rose's 1 Dead in Attic
As the days pile up, along with the bodies and the refuse and the ineptitudes of the various governmental agencies, Rose's rambles coax the background to the foreground: all the race and class issues the storm throws into relief; the institutionalization of corruption; the profound neglect for the city's health care and educational systems and its infrastructure, including the levees; the willful ignorance of the mayor's office. His dire humor - "We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large, and, frankly, we're suspicious of others who don't" - gives way to anger: "[K]ids are pretty much the last consideration in just about every public policy decision around here." Then the anger gives way to the twilight of despair. He paints a sense of bleakness worthy of William Styron and turns to the psychopharmacopeia to find his own dry ground.

And This about Billy Sothern's Reflections from a Drowned City
"So here we are, sinking into the water around us, drowning in our own waste, poverty, incompetence, and the greed of those who came before us ...," Sothern quotes writer-commentator Andrei Codrescu, who lives in New Orleans by way of Romania, as saying. "We already know who is going to pay for all this. The poor. They always do. The whole country's garbage flows down the Mississippi to them."

And Sothern explains why I was so angry, and why I started to blog:
"[T]he dominant narrative focused on the lawlessness of the victims," he writes. "[B]laming people and mocking them for their own vulnerability is vastly more discouraging than naked and, sadly, expected racism."

Can there be any doubt that Nagin is a. crazy, and b. a closet republican?

This is an absolute MUST read.

Ex-Nagin aide pens tell-all Katrina book -
Later, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, a federal recovery official named by Bush, and Nagin have a public tiff about when New Orleanians should be allowed back into town. Nagin tells Forman that Blanco and Allen "are in this together."

Elsewhere in the book, the mayor indulges conspiracy theories. He becomes convinced, for instance, that Jefferson Parish officials closed a drainage canal in Hoey's Basin "to protect Jefferson Parish at the expense of New Orleans."

Nagin sends pictures to Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes," who never responded, according to Forman.

A month after the storm, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan claimed Nagin told him the levees had been blown up, citing "a 25-foot crater" under the breach the mayor had supposedly seen.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yes, but . . . aims for 100-year shield

But where's our $2.6 billion going to come from?

New Orleans CityBusiness:

Blanco to Powell: Levee deal lacks big detail

Maybe they take Visa.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Looks like Bush is determined to destroy both Iran and the US.

Prelude to an Attack on Iran - TIME
And what do we do if just the opposite happens — a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it's not even a consideration. "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran."

I'm guessing this unnamed administration is . . .

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A ray of sunshine.

This may not be the "foodiest" moment on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, but it's one of the funniest.

Kos thinks the Dem attack onJindal is OK. Updated.

Finally looked at the adon Jindal's religious views, which is somewhat less obnoxious than I thought it would be. Kos makes an interesting point -- that the magazine that published the articles in the first place is preventing most people from reading them to find out exactly what Jindal said. If the state Dems are twisting his words, it would be a good idea for Jindal to release the articles so people can see for themselves just what his religious ideas are.

Daily Kos: LA-Gov: Jindal (R) accused of being anti-Protestant
That fundamentalist Catholic publication is doing everything they can to protect Jindal by removing copies of it from the web (almost nobody will pay for those articles). So Jindal can deny he wrote those things, while making it hard for people to verify for themselves.
This post, on Daily Kos, does what the Dems should have done on their website. It takes Jindal's article seriously, and at face value. Jindal is arguing the orthodox Catholic line, and he does indeed assert the supremacy of the Catholic church over all other Christian denominations. Yes, it is anti-protestant. And I suppose that his supporters among the evangelicals should know about it.

Find the original article"How Catholicism Is Different - THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ISN'T JUST ANOTHER "DENOMINATION" here. (Kos has most, if not all of the article in his point-by-point summary.)

Kos quotes Jindal and provides a brief, if accurate summary:

"Christ founded the Church and vested her with unique authority. The apostles, the very men who wrote much of the New Testament, were the Church's first bishops, and they appointed successors. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church traces its lineage directly to the apostles, and, thus, the Church claims to be the one Jesus founded."
"Summary: Jesus was a Catholic, not a protestant."

Even scarier.


Where would we be without people like Digby to let us see the slimy creatures under the rock.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

I wish I could say this was a parody. Read the whole thing. Then check out the link to the board of directors of this nuthouse.

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Vitter slammed by"The Conservative Voice."

Rudy is the main target, but Vitty gets slammed in passing at the end.

Personal Character DOES Count, Rudy G by Michael Gaynor
“Political freedom is not – and cannot be – based upon the relativistic idea that all conceptions of the human person’s good have the same value and truth,” the Doctrinal Note warned.

The Doctrinal Note rejected moral relativism and related the essential basis of democracy in the clearest terms: “If Christians must ‘recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs,’ they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.”

Rudy's "private life" disqualifies him as a nominee of the pro-life, pro-family values party (and perhaps Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana finally will realize it).

"The Doctrinal Note" is someting issued by the Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It's full title is "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life." After slogging through Jindal's theological underbrush this morning, I wonder what our good Catholic Representative is thinking about his mentor, David Vitter.

UPDATE: The article turns up here, too.

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We might have expected this,

But Jindal is a House Republican, running for Governor, and he voted against the program. How can he explain or justify this. More shame.

The Shreveport Times

The Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides free or low-cost health care for more than 6 million children, will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.

But its future is clouded by disagreements between the House of Representatives and Senate about how best to reauthorize the program. And the White House has objected to the cost of the bills.

The program, known as LaCHIP, covers about 110,000 children in Louisiana.

Every Republican member of the Louisiana House delegation voted against reauthorizing the program. Only Reps. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, voted for it.

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I wish someone would say something this nice about Blagueur

James Wolcott describing the blog Antiwar
". . . a lonely fort in a journalistic boneyard of lost ideals where David Broder and Tom Friedman walk by night, looking for golf balls gone astray."

Scratches head . . . mumbles incoherently

Would the results have been the same for a Democrat? I guess. I remember EWE.

The Crypt's Blog -
Sixty-six percent of voters either strongly or somewhat approved of Vitter's job performance in a survey conducted Aug. 3-9 by Southern Media & Opinion Research Inc., a Baton Rouge firm. Twenty-two percent said they disapproved and 11 percent did not have an opinion.

Louisiana's reputation for tolerance is safe.

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The DailyKingfish defends paying attention to Jindal's religious writings.

I think it's worth knowing that Jindal once participated in an exorcism. But I don't think it should be the subject of campaign ads, because I think that it will turn off as many voters as it will convince.

Daily Kingfish
Faith may be personal, but it is intellectually dishonest for anyone to suggest that the voters of Louisiana do not have the right to read and question a published essay written by Mr. Jindal, a candidate for governor. The Jindal campaign’s hard-line approach against those who question this essay is also troubling. They have attempted to suggest that Mr. Jindal’s published essay about an exorcism is inherently off-limits because it concerns his “personal faith.” Yet, on the campaign trail, Mr. Jindal frequently speaks about his personal faith, and he would certainly admit that his faith guides his legislative decisions. One must assume, therefore, that Mr. Jindal believes his faith can only be discussed when it is politically expedient. Otherwise, questions about his faith are off-limits, even if they concern his own published work.

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I'm not sure I like this tactic

Apparently the state Democratic party has begun attacking Jindal for articles he wrote praising Catholicism and downgrading protestants. It's an interesting article, but it makes me queasy. I just don't like religion used in any way in politica campaigns. I hope the state Dems rethink their tactics.

The Rothenberg Political Report: Louisiana Governor: Backlash Anyone?

In one of the hardest hitting – Republicans will undoubtedly say “dirtiest” – television ads aired in history, the Louisiana Democratic Party is accusing Rep. Bobby Jindal of being anti-Protestant.

A taste of what this is all about is on this site.

What do you think?
UPDATE: I've had a chance to read the articles in the links. They reveal a pretty orthodox version of Catholicism, with its emphasis on salvation, reason, and history. In addition, Jindal urges Catholics to proselytize and convert others. I disagree with his theology, and anyone who wants to vote based on those criteria is welcome to do so.

I was not planning to vote for him to begin with, since he seems to represent a fairly ruthless segment of Louisiana's big business community which would rather spend money on highway construction than on education. His reference to the unfortunate trend to "political correctness" in universities tells me that he may be a policy wonk, but sloganeering like that says that he doesn't think for himself. As an academic, I can attest that no such animal as "political correctness" exists in Louisiana's universities.

But I still don't think that it is good policy or politics to make religion a part of political campaigning.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Pretty much what you'd expect.

Well, at least this places the blame where it belongs.

New Orleans home starts lagging
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Federal bureaucracy is a significant reason for New Orleans lagging behind many similar-sized cities in building new houses, it was reported.

Since Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, New Orleans has bulldozed an estimated 9,000 homes and approved construction for fewer than 1,400 new houses, USA Today reported Monday.

In the last two months, New Orleans approved permits for 269 new homes, trailing similar-sized cities such as Wichita, Kan., Sacramento and Lincoln, Neb., USA Today reported.

“We continue to take steps forward in the midst of incredible (federal) bureaucracy," said Ceeon Quiett, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin, who has said the city is committed to rebuilding every home Katrina destroyed.

The state’s Road Home program, funded mostly by the federal government, is set to run out of rebuilding money by mid-December unless Congress approves a $3 billion bailout. At last count, 183,000 New Orleans area residents had applied for rebuilding aid.

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No progress. An old story.

ACLU: New Orleans jail 'unsafe, inhumane' --

The ACLU report is sharply critical of the Orleans Parish sheriff's office, accusing it of failing to seek expert guidance in developing a proper emergency preparedness plan for the jail, which wasn't evacuated until it flooded in the aftermath of Katrina in 2005.

The jail, the ACLU asserts, "appears doomed to repeat the mistakes made during Katrina. In the meantime, thousands of prisoners remain in the jail, where they are housed in unsanitary, unsafe and inhumane conditions."

The ACLU calls on the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Corrections to investigate the jail system's "inadequate medical and mental health care." It also recommends that the department's civil rights division look into the jail's "unsanitary conditions" and violence caused by poor staffing.

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More of No progress.

This seems to be national news. Like the jail problems.

KGBT 4 - TV Harlingen, TX: Homeless ranks swelling in New Orleans
The homeless advocacy group UNITY of New Orleans says from January 2005 to January 2007 the number grew from about 6,300 to around 12,000. During this period only 60% of the general population returned.

Shelters say they are turning away hundreds each night, their beds reduced citywide from 832 to 232.

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Good news on the pumps

It's not often that a project like this exceeds expectations. So congratulations to the Core, this time.

Corps says pumps ready to go |
Original plans called for the pump to move 7,600 cfs, or cubic feet per second, of water. However, officials said the 43 pumps can move close to 9,000 cfs.

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Shame --

This would not be happening if the feds and the state had figured out a way to get that Road Home program to operate efficiently. And don't forget ICFI, either.

The Daily Advertiser
More Gulf Coast residents are thinking seriously about suicide or showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as the recovery from Hurricane Katrina inches on, a new survey finds.

The survey is a follow-up to one done six months after the hurricane, which found that few people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — about 3 percent — were thinking about suicide.

Click for details!
That figure has now doubled in the three-state area and is up to 8 percent in the New Orleans area, according to Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, lead researcher for the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group.

It may be six months before results are in publishable form, said Kessler, whose team interviewed 1,000 people last year and was able to track down 800 of them for this year’s interviews.

But he said some preliminary results are striking. One is that about 21 percent of the 800 people interviewed showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, up from 16 percent a year earlier.

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Bridge over troubled waters

Sorry. I couldn't resist

About the new causeway over Ponchartrain. New twin spans will be higher, wider, stronger
The new twin spans — when completed in 2009 and 2011 — will be higher, wider, stronger and more expensive, but the Federal Highway Administration is picking up the entire $803 million price tag. That bill includes more than $30 million in storm repairs to the current spans, which will be demolished when they are no longer needed.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

A 16th Century French Thinker Explains how We got Into this Mess.

Update: this post disappeared from the front page too quickly, so I put it back up for a while

Thanks to the web I have discovered a great political thinker unknown to me till now. He wrote what follows in about 1552.

On the American people:
It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born. There is, however, no heir so spendthrift or indifferent that he does not sometimes scan the account books of his father in order to see if he is enjoying all the privileges of his legacy or whether, perchance, his rights and those of his predecessor have not been encroached upon. Nevertheless it is clear enough that the powerful influence of custom is in no respect more compelling than in this, namely, habituation to subjection.

We have truly squandered our inheritance. The "Greatest Generation" would have been revolted at Bush's Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, and we let it pass without a murmur.

On the Republican party:

. . . whenever a ruler makes himself a dictator, all the wicked dregs of the nation---I do not mean the pack of petty thieves and earless ruffians19 who, in a republic, are unimportant in evil or good---but all those who are corrupted by burning ambition or extraordinary avarice, these gather around him and support him in order to have a share in the booty and to constitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant.

A dictator always attracts petty crooks like Senator Stevens and Representative Cunningham.

On why Bush lives in a Bubble:
But the favorites of a tyrant can never feel entirely secure, and the less so because he has learned from them that he is all powerful and unlimited by any law or obligation. Thus it becomes his wont to consider his own will as reason enough, and to be master of all with never a compeer. Therefore it seems a pity that with so many examples at hand, with the danger always present, no one is anxious to act the wise man at the expense of the others, and that among so many persons fawning upon their ruler there is not a single one who has the wisdom and the boldness to say to him what, according to the fable, the fox said to the lion who feigned illness: "I should be glad to enter your lair to pay my respects; but I see many tracks of beasts that have gone toward you, yet not a single trace of any who have come back."

Nowadays, they write tell-all books after they leave the cabinet, but no one listens.

On what it must be like to be Abu Gonzales:
Good God, what suffering, what martyrdom all this involves! To be occupied night and day in planning to please one person, and yet to fear him more than anyone else in the world; to be always on the watch, ears open, wondering whence the blow will come; to search out conspiracy, to be on guard against snares, to scan the faces of companions for signs of treachery, to smile at everybody and be mortally afraid of all, to be sure of nobody, either as an open enemy or as a reliable friend; showing always a gay countenance despite an apprehensive heart, unable to be joyous yet not daring to be sad!

Poor Gonzales, you almost have to feel sorry for him.

On parents of the troops:

. . . you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows---to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance. . .

In memoriam, Pat Tillman. And 3356 other men and women who will not come home again.

On the solution:
From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?

I wish it were so simple.

One last word to Etienne de la Boettie:
Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good!

Etienne de la Boetie,The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Less than half will return

A survey indicates that most Katrina evacuees will not return to Louisiana. Many have job, or have put down roots, or simply find it too expensive to move back. It's sad, but the road home turned out to be the I-10 to Houston. Newq Orleans needs visionary leadership or it will become a forgotten, quaint curiosity. And it's not just the tax base that suffers; there's a human cost too:

The LSU survey of more than 300 displaced Louisiana residents living in 10 FEMA trailer parks, including three in Baton Rouge and four in Lafayette, found that nearly three-quarters of the residents were employed before the storms but only a third have jobs today. The survey also revealed a “significant level of depressive symptoms’’ among the trailer park residents,
LSU sociologist Joachim Singelmann said.

“That is something you don’t find in the general population,’’ he said.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's about time.

Time Magazine finally concedes that the flood caused by Katrina is the fault of the Corpse of Engineers -- then scolds "Americans" for not understanding that sooner. Humph!


The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city's man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.

Time, as usual, eventually catches up with the truth, two years late.

Update: typos corrected.

Friday, August 03, 2007

In one way this is good news. | AP News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI violated the Constitution when agents raided U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's office last year and viewed legislative documents, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The court ordered the Justice Department to return any privileged documents it seized from the Louisiana Democrat's office on Capitol Hill. The court did not order the return of all the documents seized in the raid.

Jefferson argued that the raid trampled on congressional independence. The Justice Department said that declaring the search unconstitutional would essentially prohibit the FBI from ever looking at a lawmaker's documents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, nonetheless, sided with Jefferson on the constitutional issue.

'The review of the U.S. Rep.'s paper files when the search was executed exposed legislative material to the Executive,' and violated the Constitution, the court wrote. 'The U.S. Rep. is entitled to the return of documents that the court determines to be privileged.'"

This protects the constitution, but it's not good news that Jefferson may escape punishment.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Them that's got, shall get.

Gov't Defends Katrina Contracts - The Huffington Post:
"Overall, about 7.4 percent of Katrina contracts so far have gone to small businesses in Louisiana, down from 12.5 percent in April, according to the committee.

'At this point, I would expect less lip service and more action,' Velazquez said. 'The testimony does not focus on specific and measurable ways to include these local small businesses in the rebuilding effort.'"

Same as it ever was. Lots of lip service, 7.4 percent action.

Blagueur goes all tabloid

Will this woman change her dogs' too-cute names because Ted Turner has a new girlfriend? Enquiring minds want to know.

Hell, it's late.

I'll never forget Jane Fonda on "The Colbert Report." Why, Ted? Why?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

David Hume: Prophet of the MSM

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and
the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to
those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall
find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most desp otic and military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.

David Hume, "Of the First Principles of Government," in Essays, Literary, Moral and Political.