Saturday, September 17, 2005

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Wankers of the Day

As usual, the New York Times.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.


GOP to the rescue.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Sadly, Impossible

Yglesias is certainly correct that a big gas price hike, with revenues being thrown into smart mass transit projects, is a great idea. It's also the best way to get chucked out of office. A gas tax hike would've been a great idea when gas cost a buck a gallon, taxes included, a buck fifty, two bucks, two fifty, and whatever it currently costs in your area. But, it was a politically impossible thing to do when it was "only" a buck and it's certainly a politically impossible thing to do now that the price of gas is really hurting people.

I would like to believe that at some point there would be a larger political constituency for mass transit, and there probably is a greater one than we are often led to believe, but nonetheless land use patterns in much of the country have made it quite difficult for any proposed transit systems to really improve the lot of most existing homeowners/commuters. Expanding rail systems into existing suburban areas reall only makes a lot of sense if its accompanied by some land use changes in those areas (there at least needs to be higher density development around the stations themselves). But, between the rigidity of zoning laws, basic Nimbyism, your standard suburban fear of property value decline, and the competition between development and the parking that those who need to drive to the stations demand, all make the necessary changes highly unlikely in most areas.

Ideally, transit improvements would be made in those areas which already have sufficient density. Los Angeles is one of the best candidates, as its basic layout grew up around the old streetcar system and still is quite a dense city relative to most of the rest of the sun belt car cities.

Gas & Transit

According to the WaPo, mass transit ridership has jumped quite a bit in a lot of areas presumably due to increased gas prices. Assuming the causal relationship is genuine, it's actually a much bigger jump than I'd expect. The fact is for most people mass transit is really not a reasonable substitute for an automobile commute, even focusing on places which actually have transit systems.

The real question is whether high gas prices will create more public demand for better transit:

In Dallas, an increase in ridership in the past month on DART has resulted in "incredibly creative parking at some outlying stations," and the service received a growing number of complaints from motorists demanding to know why the system doesn't serve their destinations, according to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.

While a train fan myself, I'm actually quite stunned at the ridership figures in Minnesota:

August light rail ridership hit a new record: an estimated 838,500 people boarded the Hiawatha line trains.

The numbers: 691,000 were weekday rides. The number is up sharply from a year ago when August 2004 ridership was recorded at 476,800 - before the south end of the line opened to Bloomington until December. This August, five south end stations accounted for about 35 percent of total rides, Metro Transit reports.


Still screwing up everything.

At some point it has to be deliberate. No one is this incompetent.

Benefit of the Doubt

Really, what Digby says. Are we so afflicted by battered spouse syndrome that 5 years later anyone is still ready to give this administration the benefit of the doubt over anything? Everything this admininstration touches turns to shit. $200 billion for the Gulf is going to be put in the hands of Karl Rove and a team of 22 year old Heritage foundation flunkies so they can proceed to hand it all over to powerful interests with no strings attached.

As always, happy to be proven wrong. It hasn't happened yet.

Who's in Charge

Club for Growth guy says:

That sore spot was rubbed raw earlier this week when Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, suggested that the Republican Congress had already trimmed much of the fat from the federal budget, making it difficult to find ways to offset hurricane spending.

Mr. Coburn called such a claim ludicrous and other Republicans took exception as well.

"There has never been a time where there is more total spending and more wasteful spending in Washington than we have today," said Pat Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and the head of the conservative Club for Growth. "There is ample opportunity to find the offsets we need so that this does not have to be a fiscal disaster as well as a natural disaster."

Still, after years of total Republican rule during which the president has failed to veto a single bill and House Democrats have been completely stripped of any ability to do anything, nothing will stop the Republicans for being portrayed as the party of fiscal restraint.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.


But Bill, what about marrying your falafel?

Blogging Mostly Returning to Normal

Been on the road since Tuesday - first Iowa then NYC. No times for cats, but otherwise blogging should be returning to normal...

They Write Letters

The General writes yet another letter.

The Stupids

I find it comforting when other countries who we like to think of as generally being more sane than our current government do in fact reveal themselves to be completely batty.

I suppose the silver lining is that Tucker Carlson may find himself under arrest next time he visits the U.K.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.


Here are the lovely thoughts of a UNC college student:

want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.

I don’t care if they’re being inconvenienced. I don’t care if it seems as though their rights are being violated.

I care about my life. I care about the lives of my family and friends.

And I care about the lives of the Arabs and Arab Americans I’m privileged to know and study with.

They’re some of the brightest, kindest people I’ve ever met.

Tragically, they’re also members of an ethnicity that is responsible for almost every act of terror committed against the West in the recent past.

It goes on. And, yes, she's clearly making no distinction between Arabs and Arab-americans. And, yes, another conservative martyr has been born:

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A student journalist accused of misleading those she interviewed for an inflammatory column about racial profiling of Arabs has been fired, the editor said.

Columnist Jillian Bandes told three campus sources — two Arab students and a professor who teaches a course on Arabic — she was writing an article about Arab-American relations, Daily Tar Heel opinion editor Chris Coletta wrote in an article published Thursday.

Instead, Bandes' column, published in the paper Tuesday, argued that racial profiling of Arabs was essential to national security. The column began with the line, "I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport."


This pretty much sums up "national greatness."

Behind the Curtain

More reporting like this, please. Brian Williams:

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Wanker of the Day

Jay Severin:

OCCASIONAL LISTENERS to ''Extreme Games" on WTKK are accustomed to host Jay Severin admiring himself in the mirror of his own imagination, a glass so vast and glittering as to rival the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

But last Friday, the talkmaster positively outdid himself in setting new laurels upon his brow:

He awarded himself a Pulitzer Prize.


That struck several listeners as unlikely. Once I'd heard the claim, I asked the Pulitzer folks to check it out. ''We looked at the records and there is no record of him winning a Pulitzer Prize," says Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers. Nor is there a Pulitzer for excellence in online journalism.


Now to the matter of online awards. From 2000 to 2002, Columbia University was the cosponsor for the Online Journalism Awards, awards in no way related to the Pulitzers. According to Tom Regan, executive director of the Online News Association, there is only one annual Online Journalism Award that goes to an individual. It's for commentary. Severin hasn't won that, he said.

It is true that in 2000, the first year for which those awards were given, won an Online Journalism Award for general excellence ''in collaboration," and Severin was writing columns for the site at the time. But that award ''is for the site as a whole," says Regan.

Severin, however, said that he had been told by Joan Connell, then executive producer for opinions at the site, that the prize he alluded to was for a small group of writers that included him. Connell, who is now with The Nation, says she's not even sure what award Severin has in mind. Asked about Severin's account, she says: ''I don't recall that. The awards we did win tended to be for sitewide excellence and not for the opinion sections."

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Open Thread

Small threads make base men proud.

More Like This, Please

Massachusetts is starting to almost live up to its liberal reputation. Bite me, Mitt.

BOSTON — The state Legislature voted Thursday to override Gov. Mitt Romney´s veto of a measure that will expand access to emergency contraception.

The measure, which the Republican governor vetoed in July, will require hospital emergency room doctors to offer the medication to rape victims. It also will make the medication available without a prescription.

The Senate voted unanimously 37-0 to override the veto. In the House, the vote was 139-16 to override.

BoBo's World

It's not racist until you actually commit genocide edition.


Hey, where'd the freedom walk web site go...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Clean Sheets


"Yard Apes"


Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.


The Social Security theft is dead for the moment, but it is astonishing that the Democrats seem to have forgotten that they can still beat the Republicans over the head with the issue.

The Latte Defense

Just when I think our rulers can't get any more ridiculous.

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.

Don't Talk About the War

As Yglesias suggests, there really is absolutely no way that Iraq as an issue will be off the table for the 2008 elections. This Dem fantasy of just waiting for the day that it just goes away is going to continue to hurt them.

That said, I certainly understand that it's tricky politics. But it isn't going away.


The Note takes a momentary break from its non-stop Bush fluffing, and feels the need to beg for mercy:

(Note to Rush Limbaugh: out of professional courtesy, before you attack us (wrongly) for being liberally biased or anti-Bush, we would ask you to do three things: [1] consider each item one-by-one and ask yourself if you really think what we wrote is wrong; [2] ask the White House if they disagree with any of this — except that Pelosi item; [3] call us to discuss it. Then: trash us.)

Shorter Joe Biden

If only a bunch of stuff that won't happen would happen, Iraq would be a lot of fun.

The Press

Josh Marshall writes:

Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.

You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming.

For this, however, the press will have no excuses. Will they do their job?

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

The Crazy Guy At The Bar

Certainly not actually crazy. Honor, fighting for country, paying the price so freedom is free. On leave. From where? Hawaii, is the first response. From 14 months in Iraq is the real one. There with brother, friends, his second day being legally allowed to drink. Honor, love of country, willing to die. Honor. Fighting. 25 kills, officially. Captured. Tortured. Friend cruises by. Have a beer, tag some pussy. Not tears, but almost tears. Says, in fact, almost in tears. No one understands. Brothers. Fight for country. Honor. No one understands. Fighting for country. 25 kills. Women. Children. Children carrying ammunition. No one understands. Fighting for country. A bit drunk. A lot drunk. On leave, just one week. Where is brother, friends? Women. Children. Freedom isn't free. 21 just yesterday. Was once religious, no longer believe. God wouldn't allow such pain. The war is against religion, must stop it to defend the country. Almost in tears. Knee blown out. Chest. Scar. Fighting for brothers. Fighting with brothers. No one understands. honor. repeat. honor. Fighting for country. Captured. Razor. No air support when needed. Politics. Will fight for country. Children. Killed. Honor. Freedom. Fighting for country. No one understands. 14 months. Honor. Brothers. Dude, have a beer. Tag some pussy. Children. Backpacks. Ammunition. Fought for country, for freedom. Will end up in hell.

how many like him?

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!


Gay marriage constitutional amendment defeated in Mass.

Potty Break

I had no idea this was part of job of the Secretary of State.

...since the hamster which powers First Draft's server seems to have died, here we go:

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war. REUTERS/Rick Wilking Email Photo Print Photo's the full original at Reuters.



Separate But Equal

You've got to be kidding me.


Something is sure wrong with the culture of white people.



Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Two Governors

We now know that Blanco did everything she needed to and more to get federal government help (which commander codpiece could've and should've provided even without prompting). And, we also now know that Bush was very concerned about the plight of Haley "Possibly the Worst Man in America" Barbour, and not so concerned about Louisiana. At some point deliberate negligence is indistinguishable from malice.

She says that two days after Katrina, desperate for help, she couldn't get through to Bush and didn't get a callback; hours later, she tried again, and they talked.


Barbour hasn't had to wait hours to talk to Bush. In fact, Barbour said in an interview with USA TODAY, the president called him three to four times in the wake of Katrina. "I never called him. He always called me," he said.

Why oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press?


WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief Justice nominee John Roberts said Wednesday that Congress has the right to counter Supreme Court rulings including a divisive decision giving cities broad power to seize and raze people's homes for private development.

``This body and legislative bodies in the states are protectors of the people's rights,'' Roberts said on the third day of his confirmation hearings to be the nation's 17th chief justice.

Republicans and many Democrats reacted angrily earlier this year when a sharply divided Supreme Court said cities can take and bulldoze people's homes in favor of shopping malls or other private development to generate tax revenue. The decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as favoring rich corporations, and Republican lawmakers have criticized it as infringing on states' rights.

This isn't about countering Supreme Court rulings. This is American Government 101. Decisions like Kelo either limit or don't limit congressional power in certain areas. In the case of Kelo, no new limits were placed on the power of government but nothing prevents governments from either just not using all of the powers available to them or passing statutory limits on the use of the eminent domain power.

This is not news, this is just evidence that Roberts has a rudimentary understanding of how things work in this country, which I'd sort of assumed.

Fresh Hell


BAGHDAD A series of bombings and assassinations here on Wednesday killed more than 150 people, and injured hundreds more.

Militants loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian linked to Al Qaeda, said in an Internet statement Wednesday that they had carried out the wave of suicide bombings to avenge an offensive by U.S. and Iraqi government troops in the northern rebel town of Tal Afar, Agence France-Presse reported.

Another car bomber blew himself up in northern Baghdad, killing 11 people who had lined up to get gas canisters refilled. Gunmen also dragged 17 people from their homes and killed them in Taji, a northern suburb.


Well, this is pretty damn interesting. The Republicans have, for my entire existence, run on a platform of cutting spending and taxes, and then never actually cuttting the spending. Now DeLay says their work is done - no spending cuts needed. Of course, we've reached the perfect amount of spending and we're running a huge deficit, then that means, uh, what Tom?

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.
"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

And, it must be pointed out, that federal expenditures as a percentage of GDP were higher in 2002,2003, and 2004 than they were in 1997,1998, and 1999.

36 Hours


Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm.
Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.
But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.
On the day that Chertoff wrote the memo, Bush was in San Diego presiding over a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Morning Moonbats

Haven't really seen the news in 24 hours. What fresh hell awaits us?

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"I can relate to that"

Just what is Lindsey Graham saying?

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

On the Road

Plenty of bloggy goodness to be found at the many fine links to your left.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.


Deep thoughts from Tony Blankley, channelling Michelle Malkin:

A total of 25,655 noncitizens living in the United States were interned or deported during the war years because of their ethnicity or nationality, rather than their words or conduct. They included 11,229 Japanese, 10,905 Germans, 3,278 Italians, 52 Hungarians, 25 Romanians, five Bulgarians and 161 other foreign nationals.
The Supreme Court later held, in Johnson v. Eisentrager (1950), that "executive power over enemy aliens, undelayed and unhampered by litigation, has been deemed, throughout our history, essential to wartime security." The high court added: "The resident enemy alien is constitutionally subject to summary arrest, internment and deportation whenever a 'declared war' exists." So the power to intern or deport comes into effect only when war has been declared.
Today, we are under attack not by a nation, but by groups of militant individuals who claim Islam as their faith. Yet for the first time in human history, the destructive power of terrorists can be as great as that of a traditional nation-state that has declared war. We need a mechanism to deal with this change.
During World War II, the country was faced with the prospect of large numbers of people -- again identifiable by ethnicity, not conduct -- who were real or potential enemies.
The logic of the Supreme Court's opinion is applicable to the situation we face today. The court held that people ethnically connected to the war-makers are more likely to support them than are others -- and our country at war has a right to protect itself from this presumed higher risk of danger.

The court would draw lines and preserve the essence of our freedoms. But the justices were practical men.
They understood that the broadest enforcement of every last theoretical right and privilege might well be purchased at the price of losing our most basic right: the right to effectively defend ourselves.

Who's "ourselves," Tony?

Wanker of the Day

Cliff May.

Open Thread

There 's daggers in men's threads.

Open Thread

Cry "Thread," and let slip the dogs of war.

Monday, September 12, 2005


As members of the media rarely get much praise from this site (even when they deserve it), let's take a moment to praise the Times-Picayune and other local media outlets for somehow managing to keep it together over the last couple of weeks.


If anyone's in the neighborhood of Grinnell, IA, pop in and say hello tomorrow night. 8pm, Grinnell College.

Open Thread

Thread more than thou showest, thread less than thou knowest, thread less than thou owest.

Shorter Andrew Sullivan

I still don't understand anything about genetics, but I sure do love anything which lets me continue to claim that black people are stupid.

Mr. Righteous



Blitzer and Malveaux got prematurely excited about the prospect of dear leader's fortune being reversed.

President Snippy

None of this is actually news of course. We're just seeing one narrative that everyone knew was bullshit possibly (don't get too excited) being replaced by another one closer to the truth.

Is Bush the commanding, decisive, jovial president you've been hearing about for years in so much of the mainstream press?

Maybe not so much.

Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test.

Much of what passes for "balanced journalism" is simply the recycling of conventional wisdom, which in itself is a product of a massive propaganda campaign. It's clear that much of what passes for CW is, in fact, bullshit and that most of the people involved in peddling it know that it is.

No Pony for Holden

But, no pony for Bush either:

President Bush's public standing has hit record lows amid broad support for an independent investigation of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and calls for postponing congressional action on $70 billion in proposed tax cuts to help pay for storm recovery, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

President Bush's overall job approval rating now stands at 42 percent, the lowest of his presidency and down three points since Hurricane Katrina savaged the Gulf Coast two weeks ago. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Bush's performance, a double-digit increase since January.

Bush's handling of Iraq and terrorism also have never been lower, according to the poll. Thirty-eight percent approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq and half the county now approve of the way Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism.

A clear majority--54 percent -- now disapprove of the way Bush is handling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Even some members of Bush's own party appear to have lost faith in their leader: The president's overall approval rating among Republicans has declined from 91 percent in January to 78 percent in the latest poll. Overall, barely half the country now characterize Bush as a "strong leader" -- down 12 points since May of last year. And the percent who say he can be "trusted in a crisis" likewise has fallen from 60 percent to 49 percent now.

Senatoring is Hard

Unable to follow the complicated legalese at the confirmation hearing, Senator Coburn keeps himself busy doing the crossword.

Bye Brownie

CNN: Brownie resigning as FEMA director.

argh, which rock did Ashcroft crawl out from under.

Good Work

WSJ (subscription):

But now it is known that major levee breaks occurred much earlier than that, starting in the morning of Monday, Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Even as the storm veered off and many observers felt a sense of relief, the Industrial Canal levee in eastern New Orleans was giving way, and a rush of water swiftly submerged much of the Lower Ninth Ward and areas nearby, trapping thousands of people on rooftops and in attics. The 17th Street Canal levee also was breached early Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now believes, resulting in a slower-rising flood over a larger area.

Yet it wasn't until Tuesday that most people across the country, apparently including Mr. Chertoff, realized that any levees at all had been breached. Did media outlets get it wrong, as Mr. Chertoff claimed? Some did, some didn't.

A look at news reports of the events of Aug. 29 paints a picture of confusion, miscommunication and conflicting information among some government officials and news media. Several major news outlets, including Viacom Inc.'s CBS network and National Public Radio reported the breaking of the Industrial Canal and flooding on Monday, although not all of the reports acknowledged the extent of the devastation. The Wall Street Journal reported the Industrial Canal breach but no others.

The New Orleans office of the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 8:14 a.m. Monday, saying "a levee breach occurred along the industrial canal at Tennessee Street. 3 to 8 feet of water is expected due to the breach." The media largely ignored it. The NWS's source of information was ham-radio transmissions by the Orleans Levee Board, a city-state agency. The 8:14 warning was the last one the local office issued before its communications were cut off. The statement was repeated only once more, at 10:52 a.m., by the National Weather Service office in Mobile, Ala.

Yet some government officials certainly appeared aware of a breach and said so on network television. At 7:33 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, Gov. Kathleen B. Blanco said on NBC, "I believe the water has breached the levee system, and is -- is coming in."

In its Aug. 29 online edition, the New Orleans Times-Picayune first reported a breach in the 17th Street Canal levee at 2 p.m., citing City Hall officials. No other major news outlets picked up that report. The newspaper's Web site also reported massive flooding near the Industrial Canal, writing that city officials "fielded at least 100 calls from people in distress in the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans." At about 2:30, it reported that the Industrial Canal had been breached, citing a National Weather Service report.

But in the hours immediately following the storm, some news organizations seemed to play down the damage in New Orleans. Introducing "World News Tonight" on Aug. 29, anchor Charles Gibson said: "In New Orleans, entire neighborhoods are underwater, but the levees held. The nightmare scenario of an entire city underwater did not happen." A spokeswoman for ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., had no comment.

Officials with the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers said last week that one canal breach came to the attention of corps personnel early Monday, Aug. 29 and another by midday. But the "fog of war" and "massive logistical problems with communications in the hours after the storm hit" created some confusion, said John Rickey, a spokesman for the corps.

No major newspaper printed a headline that literally said New Orleans "dodged a bullet," as Mr. Chertoff claimed. But some did say the city had escaped a direct hit -- which was true, but misleading -- while others focused on the levees along the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, it was the levees along canals extending south from Lake Pontchartrain that gave way.

"But the city managed to avoid the worst of the worst," read a front-page Washington Post article on Tuesday. "The Mississippi River did not breach New Orleans's famed levees to any serious degree, at least in part because Katrina veered 15 miles eastward of its predicted track just before landfall."

Leonard Downie Jr., the Washington Post's executive editor, says the paper's reporting was hampered by communications problems caused by the hurricane. "Unfortunately, where our communication was good was where it wasn't flooding," he says. "All the media were hampered by the fact that people on the ground didn't know what happened."


In the 5 p.m. news report on News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, anchor Shepard Smith informed viewers of "late word" that the levees had held. But a few minutes later, in the same program, a public-health expert told the channel the exact opposite: "Well, the National Weather Service are reporting that one of the levees was breached. ... People have been forced out onto the roofs of their homes."


Many reporters, working on foot, isolated in higher, drier sections and focused on the survival of the city's tourist districts, were unaware of the unfolding disaster in poor neighborhoods of New Orleans. It wasn't until Monday evening that a private helicopter company, Helinet Helicopter Services of Los Angeles, began feeding the first aerial images of New Orleans to Fox News, ABC, NBC, CNN and CBS. By early Tuesday morning, most major media had become aware of the awful extent of the destruction.

Maybe all they read in Washington is the Washington Post? Would explain a lot.

WaPo Follies

Armando writes:

he point is simple --- this was horrendously bad journalism. The fact that Blanco DID declare a state of emergency was central to the story. The fact she DID declare a state of emergency completely undermined the story. The fact is that the Washington Post's journalism on this story is every bit as bad or worse than the journalism much berated by you Howie in Rathergate.

Though the stakes were not as high politically as is in Rathergate -- the journalism was worse. At the least, CBS had documents they were looking at, though they were not properly verified, IMO. At the least, CBS gave the White House a chance to respond.

Here, the Washington Post had nothing but the word of a BushCo official - the false word. And they ran with the story anyway. And they did not give Blanco a chance to respond. If Dan Rather had to go, who has to go at the Washington Post?

One last thing - you want to do a followup story on this WaPo? I got one for you -- how is it that a high BushCo official did NOT know that Blanco had declared a state of emergency. Is that not scandalous in and of itself? Do you think THAT merits a story? Or is it too embarrassing for you now?

The joys of carte blanche anonymous sourcing. We're protected from knowing about the dishonesty and ignorance of our public officials. oh joy!

More Accountability

The way for the press to require accountability isn't simply by writing angry editorials, it's about continuing to do its job in reporting the news.

One such bit of news is the fact that Bush continues to be either deceptive or clueless about what happened. Pointing that out might be a good start.

Another way to have more accountability is to investigate the rampant cronyism in FEMA and elsewhere. Now that maybe we've had another lesson in why having decent people in charge actually matters, instead of just people who you might want to have a beer with, it's time to look hard at the people in important positions in all the government agencies.

In addition, it's time to start looking into where we're spending all that money. Steve Clemons suggests there may be a lot of fraud in FEMA contracting. Follow the money...

New Media and its Evangelists

Oh Jeebus help us.


Garance wonders what it means for Bush to be held "accountable" for the events in Katrina. If I make noises to that I effect, I mean that the collective news media has to display the kind of outrage and hard-hitting continuous coverage they normally reserve for blow jobs and missing white women and presidential criticism by the Dixie Chicks.

Certainly one hopes that voters come to their senses in '06, though that will in part require the Democrats doing something they weren't even willing to do in '04 and make the election a national referendum on the last few years of Republican rule. But, to me the desire for "accountability" is, for the moment, about accountability by the 4th estate who, by Brian Williams own admission, have for the last 4 years not provided much of that

By dint of the fact that our country was hit we’ve offered a preponderance of the benefit of the doubt over the past couple of years.


Howie addresses the WaPo's role in carrying water for the Bush administration by allowing an administration official to falsely claim that Blanco waited too long to declare a state of emergency. I thought this line was fascinating:

Spencer Hsu, the article's co-author, says he "tried to make clear that the source came from the administration, and that he was blaming the locals, which I believe our story made clear and broke ground in explaining by uncovering the National Guard dispute."

Should the paper identify the source who provided bad information? "We don't blow sources, period, especially if we don't have reason to believe the source in this case actually lied deliberately," Hsu says.

Perhaps Hsu didn't mean to say that, but taking his statement at face value he's saying that even if he knew for certain that an administration official had lied to him, he still wouldn't burn the source.

The only possible punishment for lying to the press is that they tell the public that, indeed, you lied to them. Hsu says this is off the table. So, our press feels that it's ok to let public officials lie to the public, under the cover of anonymity, with complete and total impunity provided by the information launderers at the Washington Post.

Something's Missing

Jack Kelly writes:

But the conventional wisdom is the opposite of the truth.

Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

"The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

Leaving aside the fact that Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and not 2002, and without fact-checking the basic assertions about federal response times, let's deal with this by playing a game of Jeopardy.

Answer: What Hurricanes Andrew, Hugo, Iniki, Francine, and Jeanne all have in common.


The Roundtable

Crooks and Liars has a clip of the loathsome George Will from This Weak. More on him later, perhaps, when the full transcript shows up. But, let's consider the composition of the Roundtable on that show.

Newt Gingrich - conservative.
George Will - conservative.
Fareed Zakaria - conservative.

Now, it's true that Zakaria happens to be intelligent and sane, and I wouldn't describe him as a partisan Republican, but our media should stop putting "conservatives who aren't obviously insane" as stand-ins for liberals.

Power Tools

Ellipses... the last refuge of a wanker.

That's Time magazine's blog of the year, in case you didn't know.

Freedom, Bush Style

Amazing what you can get arrested for these days.

Katrina Leads a Blogger To Reevaluate Priorities

Yeah, what Josh asks. I read this Washington Post article last night and had the same question - how does something like this become "news"?

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.


What digby says.

Fresh thread



Michael Brown, a man with a sociopathic lack of empathy.

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Dead or Alive


Now, as the last major battle of the war in Afghanistan began, hidden from view inside the caves were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 well-trained, well-armed men. A mile below, at the base of the caves, some three dozen U.S. Special Forces troops fanned out. They were the only ground forces that senior American military leaders had committed to the Tora Bora campaign.

Freedom Walk

Catch the coverage on Cspan.

Imagine, if 4 years ago I had told you that 4 yours hence we'd be celebrating the events of that day with a Clint Black concert...

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Open Thread

The course of a true threading never did run smooth.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!