My computer's down (the roof leaked and dripped water into it, which is odd because it's not raining or snowing, and hasn't in a while), so until it's repaired or replaced I'll be mostly offline, just checking in from time to time -- an enforced mini-vacation from surfing and blogging.
Now, I understand and appreciate Senate tradition, and the importance of respectful dialogue in the halls where political opponents come together to govern a diverse nation.
But, dear Senate Dems, have you noticed that your "friends" across the aisle don't give a flying fuck about working with you? Have you noticed they don't give a flying fuck about governing? Or about the public good? Have you noticed they are fucking currupt as shit?
The failure on the part of the Democrats to adjust their values to their new environment has put them on the losing side of battles they really should have won, even though they are in the minority, because they've clung to their old ways, when new and drastically different ones would be more appropriate.
Part of the problem is that Senate Democrats haven't been defeated sufficiently enough to be provoked into changing their strategy. (More on that general point later.)
Michael Berube takes a walk down memory lane, all the way back to November of 2000, just before that unforgettable election. Come with Michael as he remembers this, from the New York Times:
Mr. Nader said he did not think there would be much difference between the justices Mr. Gore would choose and those Mr. Bush would appoint. After all, Democrats had helped confirm Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hadn’t they? Besides, “You can’t really predict how Supreme Court justices will behave.”
And he called the possibility that a court packed with Republican appointees could overturn Roe v. Wade a “scare tactic.” On Sunday, Mr. Nader said in a television interview that even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, the issue “would just revert to the states.” Just?
Ah, Ralph Nader! I remember it well, how he told us there was no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, and the way he explained that his candidacy wouldn't help Bush ... Good times, good times.
It would be nice, sometimes, to believe in the Devil and a Hell of fire and brimstone, just so I could imagine people like Ralph Nader suffering there for eternity plus 15 minutes (to make sure he's crisp around the edges).
Extreme flooding in the region, both Bowman and Hill flatly insist, is not a matter of if but when. What needs protecting? Some of New York City is not just low-lying; it's underground. Bowman's Web site offers this inventory:
Infrastructure at risk includes subway entrances that are close to sea level, tunnels and their air and vent shafts, subway track and signal systems, bridge access roads, small bridges, airports, port freight-handling facilities, water pollution control plants and their tide-gate regulators, combined sewer outfalls, landfills, solid-waste transfer stations, pipelines, power plants, and buildings in areas with high property values and dense population.
This last item would include lower Manhattan's fabled real estate and Jersey City and Hoboken, in New Jersey.
In December 1992 a powerful nor'easter delivered a sobering preview that
shorted out the entire New York City subway system, stranding people on trains and in stations (salt water conducts electricity, causing shorting, and it's corrosive);
shut down the PATH transportation link between New York City and New Jersey;
forced LaGuardia Airport to close;
submerged part of the FDR Drive in Manhattan under four feet of water and flooded other roadways;
raised sea level at the southern tip of Manhattan by about eight-and-a-half feet;
flooded Battery Park Tunnel with six feet of water.
A more severe storm surge would have far-reaching effects if Manhattan's low-lying financial district were badly flooded.
In the early hours of March 6, 2006, a fire broke out at a warehouse complex near San Antonio International Airport, causing extensive damage to the offices of The Holocaust History Project (THHP), an organization that has been, for the last ten years, in the forefront of confronting Holocaust denial online, in addition to providing educational materials to students throughout the world. Arson investigators now have confirmed that the fire was intentionally set and are continuing their investigation.
It was just the latest in a series of attacks with the apparent intent to silence THHP. For the past 18 months, the THHP website has been under an unprecedented Distributed Denial of Service attack. This cyber attack began on September 11, 2004, and is being carried out by a specially modified version of the MyDoom computer worm, programmed to target the THHP web server.
(And I freely admit, since my pass-through traffic is negligible, and most of my loyal half-dozen readers probably already knew about Muckraker, that I put up this post just to be able to use that weak "TPM-pire" joke.
Geez, you've got to do something to amuse yourself when you're stuck out here in Siberia with the other Slithering Reptiles.)
As long as I've got this post anyway, here's a story that's linked on the TPMuck site, from Fort Myers, Florida:
Lee County's Democratic headquarters had its second break-in in almost as many years this week.
Thieves ignored computer equipment and other valuables, and took the party's financial records and voter data, said Lyndia Bradley, Lee County's Democratic chairwoman.
"This was a very targeted, purposeful break-in," she said Wednesday. "They were obviously interested in certain things, not things you sell on the street for money."
Computers were vandalized, but there was no sign of forced entry.
The office is located on Park Meadow Drive in south Fort Myers.
Bradley said the office is not staffed daily this time of year, and she and others were last in the office March 1.
The theft was discovered Monday.
The party's headquarters had a similar break-in shortly before the 2004 elections when the office was in a different location near the intersection of Fowler Street and Colonial Boulevard.
Thieves vandalized the office and stole records and computers in that incident.
And just before the November 2004 presidential election, vans used to carry voters to register to vote, and cast early ballots had their tires slashed outside Kerry-Edwards headquarters in Royal Palm Square in Fort Myers.
The vans carried pro-Democrat signs and bumper stickers.
Democratic campaign worker Annie Estlund remembered that incident because she volunteered in that office.
"There's just been so much of this kind of thing," she said, recalling the office break-ins. "It's hard to think politics has come to this."
On Daily Kos, SusanG spelunks to the roots of the Bush Administration and accurately reports back what's going on down there:
Everything in this administration comes down to three political positioning maneuvers (and note that #2 and #3 really are subsets merely designed to serve #1):
1. Corporations should operate absolutely unfettered in order to line the pockets of the oligarchical elite (See: empire building, environmental and safety deregulation, using the armed forces to pry open new markets/ resources/cheap labor, tax cuts, union busting, privatization of anything and everything, etc.)
2. Pandering to the Religious Right (in order to get the votes to further #1).
3. Escape any and all responsibility for the obscenely awful consequences of #1 upon the 90% of Americans who fund the stupidity - and pay the personal price in their daily lives - for these policies.
Because their focus is so sharp and their object so single-minded (and simple-minded as well, considering the long-term ramifications of the damages they're causing to their own clients), nobody's safe and almost nothing is sacred. Anything that gets in their way, or is simply perceived to get in their way, is toast, regardless of the consequences.
The only thing I'd add is a #4 -- to protect and preserve the political position and historical legacy of George W. Bush. The problem is Georgie can't be re-elected, so (I ask again) what, exactly, are they preparing for, what the purpose of all this positioning (aside from providing one-stop service for their clientele)? Is it Jed, or is it something more sinister?
Almost two months ago, in the middle of January, I mentioned in a number of posts (here, here, and here), rather casually, in passing, that I thought the right-wing tide had crested and was due to head back out. The timing was a little odd, since it was just before the Alito vote, and I was pretty sure Alito was going to be confirmed (in spite of my support for a filibuster), but that's the way I felt nevertheless. I meant to follow up with something a little clearer and more in-depth about why I had that gut feeling, but I never did.
Well, I still feel that way, despite Alito, and despite Ciro Rodriguez losing. I think the signs are all around us that the right has left its golden moment and is due to be surpassed. There's hardly anything that's currently happening that bodes well for them:
Iraq is, as we all knew it would be, given the ideological predisposition of the neo-cons not to properly perpare for the post-invasion period, entirely a shambles, and there's little possibility now of anything happening except an American pull-out. How and when and who will replace us are still to be determined, but, reading the tea-leaves (which is what this exercise is all about) the pull-out seems inevitable.
Sometimes it seems as if everyone in the Republican party (and their maiden aunt as well) is being investigated or charged or indicted or sentenced. It's not true, of course, but it does seem that way. Suddenly, the GOP is not invincible and shielded from following normal conventions of ethical behavior, and that, for them, is a very bad thing, because their normal everyday way of doing business requires that they have the freedom to operate outside the bounds of the law, ethics and morality. Without that margin to work in, they're dead.
But lets's go back even before that, to the election of 2004, which I think was the harbinger of the doom of the Republicans, the beginning of the end. Despite the fact that Bush won, despite the success of the Republican GOTV effort to bring record numbers of people to the polls, despite the significant media differential which worked in the favor of the right-wing candidate, despite Bush being an incumbent in the White House who was a self-declared "War President", the victory was razor thin. I've kept the note I wrote at the time up on my sidebar, because I thought it was significant then, and it continues to be significant now:
Bush's winning margin was the VERY SMALLEST for any incumbent full-term President since 1892. Over 60 MILLION PEOPLE, 49.25% of those participating, voted AGAINST George W. Bush -- more people than have EVER voted against ANY Presidential candidate in American history.
There's no way to spin that fact as the best possible outcome for the Republicans -- it was, instead, the very worst possible good outcome for them.
There are growing indications, not widespread yet, but glimmers here and there, that reporters (those members of it who are not right-wingers or fellow-travellers themselves) are beginning to catch on to the fact that the right uses them, by playing the "balance this" game. Knowing that outmoded journalistic convention requires one viewpoint to be "balanced" by presenting an opposition viewpoint, the right has succesfully moved the "center" of the conversation further and further to the right by moving their positions farther and farther away from otherwise accepted social conventions. This results in "he said/she said" articles in which these right-wing views are legitimatized by being paired with conventional views (usually centrist and not liberal ones, which also helps move the acceptable range of opinions out tot he right). Add water, shake, repeat. It may be the case that some reporters are tired of this, and are starting to re-state factual truths without regard to also reporting right-wing bullshit.
On firedoglake Pachacutec takes a look at the situation from the other direction: if the tide is turning, why aren't we gaining?, and comes up with more points:
The most recent great wave of innovation in American politcs was the conservative "revolution," often traced to Goldwater and moving through Reagan to the present day. That movement has reached its apogee and is now moving past its peak. Evidence for a turning of the tide is all around us.
What evidence? Well, for the first time in the post-Viet Nam era, to the best of my knowledge, more Americans trust Democrats on national security than trust Republicans. That's seriously revolutionary.
The institutional strengths of the conservative establishment mask how strong we are. That's because the creation of conventional wisdom still lies in their hands, as they control the media. They worked hard, starting in the 1980's, to gain that control. Now they have it. But already, it's slipping. We are cracking it up, along with Jon Stewart and other cultural forces.
The conservaitive revolution took a long time to build. The funding came from the corporate side of the coalition, but the grassroots passion came from the fundamentalists, who decided to move out of their own social circles to run for small, local offices, and move stealth-like into the mainstream. That also really took off in the 1980's.
As a progressive movement, we are about where their side was in the late 1970's, before Reagan became president. And yet, the pace of our progress in the last two years has put their early progress to shame, probably because our ability to use the Internet to dissemminate information and to communicate alters the pace of social change generally.
As a progressive movement, on the issues, we already have the Early Majority on our side, but we have to close the sale in the midterms and consolidate it in the '08 presidential campaign. The media will follow our progress, and not see it or give it credit in advance. That's because the media is in the hands of pro-establishment forces.
To maintain strong majority governance, we don't need to win over any more than a solid, sustainable 5% of the Skeptical Guardians. Sometimes we will have more than that, sometimes less, but if we can keep a solid average above 50%, obviously, we dominate. Forget the Confirmed Traditionalists, the flat earthers. We'll never win them and we don't need them.
Even once we win more Democratic seats in '06, we still need to push the party to stand for progressive ideals. The fundamentalists actually kept pushing the Republican party for 20 years before becoming the party establishment, or at least its co-establishment. It won't take us as long, I think, but it will take at least two more election cycles, I figure.
We win by erosion and consistency. Thats' why I chose the graphic I chose. But I think we can cover the ground the conservative revolution covered in thirty years in much less time: more like ten years.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a popular book caled The Tipping Point. That was all about moving a product in the market from the Early Adopters to the Early MAjority, and he said that's the hardest part. And it is. But get this: we've already past that point. The electoral results will follow. Katrina was a tipping point. So is the Dubai Ports deal. The collapse of the American effort in Iraq, now apparent to a majority of Americans, is a tipping point.
Finally, to sustain our gains, we have to tell America a new story about what America is and what we need. Government is not the enemy. Public service with accountability serves the public interest. "Together, We Can Do Better" is not a bad branding statement, overall. The narrative, which underlies all the stories Americans tell themselves, is up for grabs now. We have to fill that void with our story. And we will.
It has to be emphasized that just because the tide has turned (if it has turned) doesn't mean that right isn't still dangerous, or that it doesn't maintain power. The continuing presence of Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas on the Supreme Court fairly much guarantees that one avenue for social reform that was once available to us is now closed off for the foreseeable future. That makes it even more vitally important for us to take back both the Presidency and at least one house of the Congress (preferably the House, although the Senate might be easier to accomplish). If we just regain the White House alone, there's still an awful lot that can be done to stop the degradation of our society, through the power of the executive branch and the bully pulpit of the presidency.
I think the tide has turned, I think the power of the right is already waning, and I think we're on the way back. It's going to take a while (just as it took a while for the right to recover from the total defeat that was the Goldwater election), and we'll be held back by entrenched forces within the Democratic party (about which I'll have more to say in another post I've been meaning to get to for several weeks), but we're heading back.
This is incomprehensible -- setting fire to churches is a joke that got out of hand?
BIRMINGHAM, Ala -- Three college students were arrested Wednesday in a string of nine rural Alabama church arsons last month that allegedly were set first as "a joke" and later as a diversion, federal agents said.
Benjamin Nathan Moseley and Russell Lee Debusk Jr., both 19-year-old students at Birmingham-Southern College, appeared in federal court Wednesday and were ordered held on church arson charges pending a hearing Friday.
Matthew Lee Cloyd, 20-year-old junior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was arrested later Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis said. Davis said he learned of Cloyd's arrest from the FBI. Calls to the FBI about Cloyd's arrest were not immediately returned. Cloyd previously attended Birmingham-Southern.
"While all three are entitled to have their day in court, we are very hopeful that this is the end to the fear that has been rampant in West Alabama," Davis said.
The arrests came in a probe of arsons at five Baptist churches in Bibb County south of Birmingham on Feb. 3 and four Baptist churches in west Alabama on Feb. 7. The federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency had made the arsons its top priority, with scores of federal agents joining state and local officers.
Moseley admitted to the arsons after his arrest Wednesday, according to an ATF affidavit presented at the initial court appearance.
The affidavit said Moseley told agents that he, Cloyd and Debusk went to Bibb County in Cloyd's Toyota sport utility vehicle on Feb. 2 and set fire to five churches. A witness quoted Cloyd as saying Moseley did it "as a joke and it got out of hand," according to the affidavit.
Moseley also told agents the four fires in west Alabama were set "as a diversion to throw investigators off," an attempt that "obviously did not work," the affidavit said.
The three students arrested Wednesday are white and all either attend or previously were enrolled at Birmingham-Southern, a Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college.
Five of the churches were destroyed and four were damaged, including one in which congregants, alerted during the night that churches were afire, arrived just as the apparent arsonists were leaving. That fire, quickly put out, had been set in the sanctuary near the altar -- a pattern in the other church arsons in Bibb County and west Alabama.
Jim Parker, pastor of Ashby Baptist Church at Brierfield, a Bibb County church destroyed in the Feb. 3 arson, said the congregation has been apprehensive about whether the arsonists had some "political or religious agenda."
"I want to find out the motivation of these young men. Young folks get some crazy ideas," he said.
He said he had spoken to federal agents and understood the suspects were promising students from good families.
"We really are concerned about them as people," he said. "I would just like to know what they were thinking."
(The original version of this story described two of them as "theater students" but "theater" was later dropped, and a subsequent story describes them as "aspiring actors known around campus as pranksters.")
Update:Ed Brayton catches a leader of the religious right attempting to exploit the church fires.
Looking at the calendar, I see that it's March of 2006, meaning that we're pretty firmly established in the 21st Century C.E., and, if memory serves, we're living in one of the richest countries in the world, which means that they're no goddamned justification for any of this. There is just no reason in this day and age and place that we shouldn't have near-instantaneous reporting of election results. That a particular county, crucial to one candidate winning in a tight election, should have problems with its "systems" (nudge nudge, wink wink) is totally unacceptable, and if Ciro Rodriguez can find a legal hook to hang a lawsuit on, I'm with him.
I didn't give much money to the Rodriguez campaign, in absolute terms, but I gave enough so that paying the bills here at unfutz galactic headquarters was a little dicey for a while, but if Rodriguez needs more for legal expenses, I'm there.
Damn, we should have sent in Jimmy Carter and observers from the Carter Center.
I'm not a big fan of the move to impeach Bush, not because I don't think he's broken the law sufficiently to justify an impeachment (he has), but because in the current circumstances it's going to go nowhere. Not only that, but the blowback could be severe: people generally didn't support the Clinton impeachment, and attempting to impeach Bush is going to be perceived as simply politics.
Now, if we manage to take back Congress in 2006 (not extremely likely) or even just one of the houses (more of a possibility), perhaps we should reconsider, but until then...
To dwell on impeachment now would be to drain energy from the election efforts that need to succeed if impeachment is ever truly to be on the agenda. To insist on support for impeachment as a litmus test for Democratic candidates would be to impede those efforts altogether.
I wanted to express my condolences to the family of Dana Reeve, who died today at 44 from lung cancer.
Some years ago, after she was married to Christopher Reeve, but before his accident, she and I worked together on a show, and I found her to be a very nice, intelligent, down-to-earth woman, a delight to work with. Everything I've seen since about her dedication to taking care of her husband when he was unable to do anything for himself accords with my perception of her personality.
I never had the opportunity to work with her again, but I remember her as a class act.
Hmmm.... What does it mean that a "plagiarism prevention" website, Turn It In, is in my referral logs? Some possibilities:
Students throughout the country are blatantly stealing my deathless prose for their reports, garnering grades much higher than they normally receive, and thus bringing my site to the attention of the authorities;
Someone has discovered that many of my posts are lifted word-for-word from the weblog of former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock;
The folks at Conde Nast and NYREV have belatedly discovered that 97.83% of the material on unfutz is lifted wholesale from The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and that, in fact, "Ed Fitzgerald" is actually nothing more than a mildly complex artificial intelligence program designed edit together those excerpts with enough "new" material (created from bits and pieces of liberal and progressive propaganda collected together through the years by the programmer, Victor Hedwick) to fool copyright lawyers into not ceasing-and-desisting on a daily basis.
Seriously, the Turn It In website, by a company called iParadigms, LLC, appears to be dedicated to preventing plagiarism [PDF] from the Internet by high school and college students. (I guess the honor system isn't sufficient any more.)
Turnitin’s unique plagiarism prevention system makes it easy to determine if students are writing original work. For every paper submitted to Turnitin, we generate two versions of a unique, customized Originality Report. ... Each report details the results of our comprehensive Internet, commercial database, and submitted student paper database searches in a concise and unambiguous format.
Our system is the most widely used, user-friendly, and technologically sophisticated plagiarism prevention tool available. It confirms instances of suspected plagiarism, and more importantly, acts as a powerful deterrent to stop cheating before it starts.
I'm going to have to ponder this a little, but my initial reaction is that it seems a little like overkill. I'm suspicious of the self-serving statistics that the company provides to support its case -- "80% of college-bound students admit to cheating on schoolwork, yet 95% of them never get caught" (more here) -- and wonder if the "plagiarism plague", isn't a bit overstated, yet another aspect of the cultural over-reaction which brought us such inanities as school "Zero Tolerance" policies where students are expelled for minor, inconsequential or inadvertant infractions.
I surely hope that no one ever analyzes unfutz for its "Originality" quotient. Even looking past the long excerpts from articles that sometimes stretch "fair use" to the limit (perhaps -- any lawyers out there like to comment?), you've got the ideas lifted wholesale from other weblogs, and those that I've adopted wholesle over the years and have no memory of where they came from. I like to credit all my sources whenever I can, typical, I think , of blogging's "transparency", but there's a lot I just don't remember where I originally came across it, and precious little I can point to on unfutz that's, ultimately, completely original with me. That's just part of being integrated into my culture, in spite of the painful ways in which my culture has disappointed me.
An October 2004 essay by Raymond S. Kraft titled "Death of Liberalism" (but apparently subsequently retitled "Why We Are In Iraq") is still circulating via e-mail. A friend asked for help in responding to it, and this is what I wrote (with minor edits):
Kraft is not wrong about the aims of the radical Islamists. They do, indeed, wish to recreate the long-gone glories of Islam, and that means subjugating the West and replacing our system of humanistic individual rights with a system of laws based on the Qur'an. If they were to succeed, Kraft is correct that little or nothing would be left of what we recognize as our basic rights and liberties. (At its peak, Islamic civilization was quite tolerant and fairly liberal in comparison to Western civilization at the time, but if the jihadists were to win their battle, that's not the type of society they would set up.)
Where Kraft is entirely wrong is in seeing the war in Iraq as part of the fight to hold off the radical Islamists. It isn't, and it never was. Saddam Hussein was a secular dictator who occasionally used Islamic tropes and means to better control the people of Iraq, and he had the normal amount of relations with the Islamic countries around him, just as any ruler of a country looking out for his own interests would, but he was never a radical Islamist, and never a hater of the West. Sure, he played the West off against the USSR, as did many other countries during the Cold War, but he eventually turned against Moscow and developed a strong relationship with the U.S., which saw him as one of the pillars of stability in the Middle East. (The Persian Gulf War changed that, of course.)
What's more, Saddam never had strong relationships with Islamist terrorists -- that was, and continues to be, true of Iran -- and he kept the ultra-Islamists in his own country out of power and under his thumb. Saddam's dictatorship was a horror and a terrible place to live in, but not because Saddam was promoting an Islamist agenda -- he was out for himself, his family, and his tribe, in that order, and would never put any other agenda above that. Radical Islamists couldn't and didn't operate with impunity in Iraq, because Saddam did not allow it.
No, the only thing which allowed jihadists to operate at will in Iraq was the American invasion of the country, the toppling of Saddam, and, more than anything else, the criminal lack of planning and foresight on the part of the Bush Administration in moving from the invasion to the occupation. Once Saddam was overthrown, which took very little effort (as expected) our concern should have been to immediately maintain and sustain security within the country, not only for the good of our troops, but for the good of the Iraqi people, and to allow a new society to be built. It's an open question if it was actually possible to unite Iraqis into a complete and viable country, but it's dead certain that the only possible way for any such plan to succeed was to immediately establish security within the country. We clearly didn't do that, and didn't even show much interest in doing it. As a result, the insurgency was able to establish itself, and to garner growing support within the country -- and the insurgency begat the civil war, and that's where we are now.
Kraft's paen to liberal values, as well as the Bush Administration's supposed avowed aim of bringing democracy to Iraq, would be somewhat more believable if they supported those values here in the U.S. as well, but the actions of the Bush Administration indicate that they don't fundamentally believe in, or even really understand in their hearts, our Constitution or the foundational concepts of the United States. They are basically hard-nosed authoritarians who would tell us what to do whether we want to do it or not, which is hardly a democratic viewpoint. In their opinions, it's our job to jump to attention and obey blindly and without question whatever order they deign to give us, and just forget about whether those orders are lawful or justified.
But, as I said, Kraft is right that the radical Islamists are out to get us. That's why it's such a shame that when the Administration had the opportunity to do something positive to hurt them and to further our cause, in Afghanistan, they failed so completely to follow through on their initial actions. Oh, they took down the Taliban, of course, but they were so anxious to move on to Iraq that they failed to capture Osama bin Laden, and they abandoned the country to once again be a power vacuum in which radical Islamists can thrive. The "national government" we established basically controls Kabul only, and the rest of the country is in the same shape (or worse) as it was when the Russians left and the Taliban eventually took over. Our failure there makes it probable that Afghanistan will once again become a serious problem, and an open base of operation for the jihadists.
We are in a period of conflict with forces that are implacably opposed to us, but that force isn't Islam itself, it's a particular type of Islamic belief, and the way to fight it isn't with a "Global War on Terrorism", unless "war" is understood to be a metaphorical usage. You can't fight "terrorism", you can only work, in myriad ways, some military, but most of them diplomatic and economic and cultural, to get rid of the conditions which allow people who use terror to thrive. We've done essentially nothing to do that, wasting the 4 1/2 years since the attacks of 9/11 on military half-measures where full measures were needed, and a pre-emptive attack against a threat that was never imminent. Otherwise, we have done next to nothing except assign Karen Hughes to speak baby talk to Moslems and insult their intelligence and their culture.
Since 9/11, and even before, Bush and his advisors have shown us again and again that they don't know how run a government, don't know how to get concrete results at anything except stealing elections and spinning the media, don't have any feel for what policies will and will not do what needs to be done, and, worst of all, don't have smallest amount of feeling for the humanity of others, especially those who oppose them. Mr. Kraft continues in that tradition, despite his protestations of belief in values that liberals do indeed hold dear, and work hard to maintain and extend.
Thanks to a boost from Bartcop, which linked to our "They Do It Again" post, we passed the 150,000 visit mark today, making the entire staff here at unfutz, from the lowliest intern in his ink-stained smock to the CEO high up in her palatial tower office overlooking the majestic yet intimate city of dreams, the proudest smallfry in the deep blue sea.
Elizabeth Kolbert's important recent article, "Watermark: Can southern Louisiana be saved?" in The New Yorker is unfortunately not available online, and since it appeared in an issue about two weeks old, it's not going to be easy to find, but if you can seek it out, it's well worth the effort. This is the first thing I've read since Katrina that made me think that rebuilding New Orleans may not be such a good idea. I'm still not totally swayed, but I do now have serious doubts.
I'm going to put some excerpts from the article here. Bear in mind that I'm typing it in, so all typos are mine, and are not the responsibility of the legendary copy editors at the magazine. Also, any illustrations, maps, links and footnotes have been added by me.
Five thousand years ago, much of southern Louisiana did not exist. A hundred years from now, it is unclear how much of it will remain. The region, it is often observed, is losing land at the rate of a football field every thirty-eight minutes. Alternatively, it is said, the area is shrinking by a large desktop's worth of ground every second, or a tennis court's worth every thirteen seconds, or twenty-five square miles a year. Between 1930 and 2000, some 1.2 million million acres, an area roughly the size of Delaware, disappeared. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita stripped away an estimated seventy-five thousand acres -- a loss as big as Manhattan and Brooklyn combined. The U.S. Geological Survey has published a map illustrating the process. Areas that have already vanished appear in red, and areas that are expected to vanish by 2050 in yellow. On the map, the southern coast looks as if it were on fire. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, "The rate at which Louisiana's land is converting to water is probably the fastest in the world."
One of the great things about the internets is how much information is available to anyone with a computer and online access. In that spirit, I'd like to spotlight a centralized source of information on fags. It's God Hates Fags,a project of the Reverand Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.
Thanks to this helpful site, it's easy to find out about the Fag Media, Fags in the Schools, Fag Companies, and Fag Churches (including such way-out-there sects and cults as the Episcopal Church USA, the Lutheran Missouri Synod, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Presbyterians). You can learn that Matthew Shephard has been in Hell for 2702 days, and that God hates Sweden. Information is available on how godless, pandering, demagogic legislators are trying to stop Rev. Phelps and his acolytes from bringing their message of hatrd and bigotry to the funeral services of fag-ass American soldiers, and how we should all get together in prayer to give thanks to God for Hurricane Katrina.
Fred Phelps' site is so out there, so over the top, so uncompromising in its seemingly infinite capacity for hatred, that some may be tempted to think that godless Atheists and liberal religionists might have set it up to have a convenient whipping boy nearby as an object lesson for their wretched sermons of tolerance and love for humanity. Rest assured, though, that Fred and his church are real, and totally dedicated to their mission to spread hatred and bigotry far and wide.
Unfortunately, the membership of the church is small, and, since marriage outside of the faith is forbidden, a certain amount of necessary inbreeding has begun. Inbreeding has been known to lead to congential idiocy, but I'm not aware of any studies of inbreeding which look into what happen when the subject population is already rampant with forced idiocy.
Some liberal fag-lovers of a psychological inclination might think of Fred Phelps as a small, sick, pathetic, intolerant, bigoted, twisted man of limited intellectual means, who secretly hopes to be made the bitch-slave of some virile and commanding homosexual warrior, but that sells short his boundless capacity for creative hatred. After all, one of the church's latest projects is God Hates America. Hating Sweden (or even Canada) is obviously small potatoes, compared to hating a quarter of a billion people at one time -- especially when those people are, in fact, your fellow citizens! That's bold, no-quarter-given, big-time hatred, just the kind of hatred that a no-nonsense God of fire and brimstone gets off on, and no amount of "monitoring" by wussy fag-friendly groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League, or protests from pansy liberal bloggers is going to stop the Rev. Fred from fulfilling his mission.
The US telecom industry continues to consolidate--AT&T today announced a $67 billion buyout of BellSouth. Just months ago SBC bought AT&T for $16B and adopted its name. Executives believe the move will save over $2B annually.
The combined company will have complete ownership of Cingular Wireless, the largest mobile carrier in the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, insiders said that Cingular was the driving force behind the deal:
It was the steep growth of Cingular -- joint owned by BellSouth and the former SBC -- that helped push the two firms together, say telecom bankers familiar with the space. As the importance of the wireless business grew, they say, it became inevitable that SBC (which adopted the AT&T name just months ago) would consolidate its position in the South. Put together, the SBC territory would extend from California to Florida, north to Illinois and south to Texas.
AT&T will have a major presence across the country in broadband, long distance, local phone service and wireless. It will dwarf Verizon in size.
It's good to see that our regulatory agencies are doing their jobs so diligently. If I remember correctly, the breakup in 1982 of AT&T and the Bell System of telephone operating companies (most of them, except for Cincinatti Bell and Southern New England Telephone, owned by AT&T) was supposed be help consumers by increasing competition. Since then, though, the industry keeps consolidating, and the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs or "Baby Bells") created by the breakup have sucked in most of the non-AT&T competition as well, so that once the AT&T acquisition of Bell South goes through, there will only be three left:
When we coolly examine the opinions of men, we are surprised to find, that even in those opinion, which they regard as the most essential, nothing is more uncommon than common sense; or, in other words, nothing is more uncommon, than a degree of judgment sufficient to discover the most simple truths, or reject the most striking absurdities, and to be shocked with palpable contradictions.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.