Monthly Archives: July 2008

Column: Haha, McCain


It’s too bad we have all this serious real-life stuff going on, because McCain’s jokes are really something. Did you hear the one about why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father. Hah! Nothing like a sitting U.S. senator picking on an awkward teenager to score some chuckles.

Wait, though, he’s got another one, this one sung to the tune of a Beach Boys song: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran. …” Isn’t that hilarious? Maybe we could play that over loudspeakers at the Republican National Convention next month. Maybe we could use it as a theme song to actually, you know, bomb Iran, and kill some American soldiers, because that’s what bombing other countries gets us, more often than not. Let’s all have a giggle at how funny war can be.

These are serious times. The campaign rhetoric this summer has been almost entirely a repeat of that in 2004: Democrats want us all to die at the hands of our Islamofascist (no, really) overlords and would surrender the country to Osama bin Laden at the drop of an envelope of anthrax, while Republicans want to smoke ’em out, hang ’em high, get ’em dead or alive. It’s about that coherent. The argument was utterly dishonest the first time around; now it’s just tiresome.


Flood Maps Rescinded for DC

TheWashington Post reports here on FEMA’s decision to rescind new flood maps which would have “drastically expanded the 100-year flood zone for downtown” DC thus “sparing the need for stricter insurance requirements and tougher building codes for private and government buildings.” DC had filed a suit against FEMA calling the new flood maps “arbitrary and capricious.” The District has agreed to spend $2.5 million on a flood control plan specifically to “strengthen its levee system at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.”

This story points out, once again for those that missed it after Katrina, the complicated issue of flood protection in the US. And you would miss it indeed if one only listened to the wingnuts spouting the nonsense that the only problem is people living below sea level—Jeez just Move out of New Orleans. Are we to move out of DC or the many towns and cities along the Mississippi River which support critical commerce? Then there is worse with the odious simpleminded drivel fromRush Limbaugh that black people do not know how to deal with floods as white people do. There’s the problem–as though in effect telling the white bread basket of America that they can break out in a neener neener and racist cheer of “We’re better than You Are” will solve their insurance problems or make their towns and cities safer next time.

Meanwhile the realities of the complicated issue are hitting home for many thousands.50 communities in WI had opted out of the Federal Flood Insurance Program. One was Lake Delton. Angry residents theredidn’t even know of this, only having learned of it after an“Army Corp of Engineers embankment failed” thus draining their lake and taking thier their million dollar shoreline homes with it into the WI River. Lake Delton officials“had pulled out of FEMA’s flood-plain coverage” back in 2001 because they said “the agency’s elevation maps were grossly inaccurate.” Who knows those officials may have been correct given as WaPo points out in the above cited article that FEMA has a review program of “90,000 flood maps across the country.” But regardless what would have been the cost to be in compliance then? Or even in the future? How are cities much less small towns to find the funding to meet the standards?  Are each to resort to suing the federal government as DC did to ensure a more favorable and less costly deal? Also keep in mind that“since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside.”

Of course that just begins to outline the problems with flood protection. Needed reform of the National Flood Insurance Program has sat on the table and stymied Congress for some years. AsInsurance Journal had pointed out last year, “Congress has shown little enthusiasm for taking the unpopular steps
that experts say are necessary to fix the nation’s main flood insurance
program.” They are now wrestling with it as the“National Flood Insurance Program expires this year and must be reauthorized by Congress.” The House and Senate passed bills but they differ andmust still be reconciled. The Senate bill which doesn’t include the House bill’s wind protection provisionallows the following and tell me there won’t be more than a few unhappy constituents:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the government group that
runs the NFIP, to raise its rates up to 15% each year (up from 10%),
(ii) requires more at-risk homeowners (i.e., those protected by dams or
levees) to buy insurance, (iii) gradually ends subsidies for vacation
homes or properties that experience repeated losses, and (iv) requires
FEMA to adjust its rates according to risk as shown by flood insurance
rate maps.

Yes it’s complicated and there are difficult and costly choices to be made and I haven’t even discussed the state of our infrastructure. In Wisconsin alone, “during the recent flooding, five dams have failed, 18 have significant
damage and 25 are awaiting further inspection because they remain under
water. Hundreds of dams are still awaiting repairs from August’s floods.” Compound that with damage in other states and think of the cost. And asSenator Landrieu pointed out the other day we have spent less and less over the years on infrastructure:


So once again Oh the Water raises the problems we face. Serious problems in need of serious solutions for ALL of us. And it will be interesting to see what if anything occurs. As U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville who has fought for insurance reforms post Katrina said recently:

“I’ll find it very interesting to see, when I get back to Washington
this week, how many people in the Midwest are going to start paying
attention to what we’ve tried to bring forward” and how many will have
a better understanding of and empathy for what Louisiana and other
coastal states have been trying to achieve, Melancon said.

If only we will see we are all in this together. The so called “whining and moaning” from New Orleans of which Rush spoke is neither. It was instead a warning from those on the Gulf Coast. Rather than ignoring and/or chastising them we should finally recognize that they have had a larger message…


…to be heeded and finally dealt with before even more is lost.


There’s something else going on here besides stupidity, opportunism, nonsense and waste. I know, I know, it’s a lot to cram in, but bear with me. They are actually trying to work something here and it’s kind of interesting to me, in the way that the digestive processes of the dung beetle are interesting to me.

Think about the basic, unifying principle of Republicans in government. It’s that government sucks. It’s that we are paying them to do something that they hate and don’t want to do all that well. It’s that we’re supposed to be angry and disappointed with government, mad at it all the time, appalled by its shortcomings, and if we are, then we need to elect more of them so that they can fuck government’s shit up on our behalf.They’re not the problem, government is, it’sthe system. We need to burn it all down.

All their other demonizations flow from this basic point. Sure, liberals are the enemy, but only because they want to take your money and use it … for government. Gays and Mexicans are the enemy, too, but only because liberals want to take your money and use it for government to give them “special” rights, like your job and a marriage license with your wife’s name on it. Islamofascists are the enemy, too, mostly because they allow easy demonization of liberals, who we hate anyway for the aforementioned reasons.

So along comes a candidate who, like John Kerry and John Edwards before him, says government is about fixing shit and making your life less sucktastic, and the system isn’t the problem, it’s the screwups running it, and remember back before you thought everything had to suck in order to be cool? Wasn’t it nice to actually want to do stuff instead of sitting around bitching about how nothing works and involvement is stupid? We can do that again. We can not suck, and go to the moon, and take care of your grandparents, and manage to do it all whilesmiling. Good Lord, is it any wonder crowds of people follow that around?

Naturally we can’t have the argument that Republicans are in fact okay at government. It’s patently absurd, and it undermines the basic tactic they have for staying in power, which is to make the very act of voting repulsive, naive and dumb, defensible only to save you from the utter destruction of a gay welfare marriage. We can’t have the argument that this is about how you govern, because they lose that argument, every time. So we have to have the argument that any praise of government, any chance at doing stuff that works, isfascism.

It’s desperate and pathetic, but it’s not an attempt to defend McCain or even tear down Obama. It’s an attempt to continue the same fight we’ve been having, approximately, since the 1930s: We think government sucks, and if you agree, elect us to run it!


God DAMN, That’s Stupid

This shit isn’t that hard to figure out.

Tupac H. Christ. Even by WSJ op-ed standards, this is one stupid fucking article.

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,”
currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level
a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been
shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war.

That’s because you’re a fucking idiot with only three functioning neurons. 

Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for
confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W,
Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal
with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries
when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral
equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make
the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The
former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must
be hounded to the gates of Hell.

George W. Bush is Batman? Really? And these people say that we on the left have a hero-worship problem with Obama?

Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense
— values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of
fighting for the right — only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired
films like “300,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Narnia,” “Spiderman 3” and now
“The Dark Knight”?

You conservative dickwads are really grasping at straws, aren’t you? Look, fucknugget: black-and-white morality is a fantasy. Thus, it can only exist in fantastical stories. When you try to put things in real-world terms, shit gets fuzzy really fast.  

And did you actually see any of these fucking movies? Batman and Spider-Man are constantly agonizing over the morality of their situations. To call these “conservative” movies is just ridiculous. But, then again, ridiculousness is a hallmark of the American right-wing. Also, take a look at this sentence:

Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for
confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand.

Again, did you see the same movie I did? Everybody in Gotham City fucking LOVES Batman. There are a bunch of copycat Bat-people running around trying to do the same thing. And George W. Bush isn’t vilified for confronting terrorists. It’s more likely that he’s vilified for failing to capture Osama bin Laden, running around shitting his pants during the worst terrorist attack on American soil, fucking up two wars, destroying the economy, dicking around while a whole city drowned, alienating the rest of the world, and generally being the Worst President Ever. 

If Bush actually did something to confront terrorists, I’d be the first one to cheer for him. But that would have required doing the right thing in Afghanistan, and not embarking on the bizarre and wasteful invasion of Iraq. Which, you know, made the whole terrorist problem much, much worse. 

Does this douchebag really believe the shit he’s spewing? 

Fuck this. It’s Friday, and it’s damn near shot-thirty. All you peeps have a good evening.

Sweet SweetBarack’s Baadasssss Song

Can you dig it?

You know, I’m a big fan of the guy, but c’mon.
This is just gushy.  And the dude doesn’t look like he can curl 70 pounds in each hand.

Also, I’d like to lay claim to the title of this post as being an Internet first. And we here at First Draft now own that. If you’d like to use it, you owe us. Big.

Obama Is Winning, Which Means Bad News For Obama

No, really, even the liberal New Republic says so:

Reporters are grumbling more and more that the campaign is acting like the Prom Queen. They gripe that it is “arrogant” and “control[ling],” and the campaign’s own belief that Obama is poised to make history isn’t endearing, either. The press certainly helped Obama get so far so fast; the question is, how far can he get if his campaign alienates them?

Fuck me blind, I thought it would take at least until Obama was actually elected for all the shit that was okay for Bush to become magically out of bounds. Looks like TNR is getting a jump on things.

Via Romenesko.


Weekend Question Post

Who is your hero/heroine?


A Quick Thank You

To everybody who came out to Mad River Grille last night to the reading. It was a little like my wedding; I kept saying “Oh hiiiiiiiiiii, thank you for coming, so good to see you, what are you up to OMG SO AND SO’S LEAVING I NEED TO GO TELL HIM SOMETHING” and then I looked up and it was four hours later, everyone was gone, I was a little drunk and feeling very guilty for not talking to anybody enough. Actually, it was a lot like my wedding. But seriously, the turnout was awesome, and your support — for me and thisbig story about a little newspaper — is just one of the things about the Internets that knocks me back every time.

Mr. A was too busy gladhanding to be the papparazzo this time, but I am toldthe handsome and talented Spork who came all the way into town will have pictures eventually. Just a rumor. Based on the GIANT CAMERA he was carrying around.

I continue to heart NY muchly. We’re getting LA scheduled for this fall, so once I have a place and time all you West Coast peeps will know it. Because if there’s anything better than an evening with the Internet, I don’t know what it is.


Rising Tide III


The Rising Tide III conference will be held August 22-24 in New Orleans. John Barry, the author of Rising Tide, will be the keynote speaker.

For more information and to register

WI Governor asks FEMA for more help

GovernorDoyle met with FEMA head David Paulison yesterday:

He says he asked Paulison to have
FEMA reimburse local governments up to 90% of their costs for repairing
damage to public facilities. FEMA already has agreed to reimburse local
governments up to 75% of those expenses.

The governor also asked Paulison to skip inspecting 89 homes still underwater and declare them eligible for buyout.

Yes there are still homes underwater andFEMA will not inspect them until the water recedes and that could take months …

“I’ve put up with this for a month.
Nobody’s done anything,” said one homeowner.  “This water’s going to
be here in January. These homes will never be open,” said Gene


After the 1993 floods which also hit the Prairie View community, the water didn’t recede until November. “This flood is 500 times worse,” said Dischler. 

FEMA’s top officer in WI “admitted FEMA has never dealt with this situation before.”

Pedestrian hit by Novak is elderly, homeless


The pedestrian who was struck by syndicated political columnist and
television pundit Robert D. Novak remained in the hospital today but
was sitting up in bed and conversing with a relative and social

After the traffic incident yesterday, police misspelled the
pedestrian’s name and gave the wrong birth year for him. He is
86-year-old Don Clifford Liljenquist, who has no fixed address. Most
recently he has been living at the Emery School Shelter on Lincoln Road
NE. He declined through a family member to be interviewed.

Why the NOAH scandal matters

Activist and NOLA blogger Karen Gadbois has a post up today related to a growing scandal in New Orleans. Now you may be thinking, ohanother Katrina scandal, but I ask you …Please Go read what Karen has to say andLook at the photos of Miss Dolores and you will see why this matters.

Now that you are back I’m going to ask a bit more. Below is a brief description of what this scandal involves but I really hope you will follow and read the links to the important work being done by these NOLA bloggers.

Last month irrregularities were first found by Gadbois in a program called theNew Orleans Affordable Homeownership or NOAH. Blogger E at We Could Be Famous blog also began to look into this with a series of posts. (Link – scroll to bottom for first) Both bloggers have had numerous important posts on this and this weekWWL took up the story. Jeffrey at Library Chronicles offersthis primer on what is involved and has occurred:

Yesterday afternoon, the Mayor escalated the controversy over the New
Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corporation (NOAH) by taking the
extraordinary step of holdinga press conference
to angrily refute the content of the previous evening’s WWLTV report
which alleged that NOAH may have misused federal community development
block grant funds.

Theagency’s mission is to gut and clean up blighted or flood damaged property belonging to senior and low-income residents. In the report, Lee Zurik takes a look
at a list of homes NOAH had been charged with remediating. Zurik’s
findings are similar to Karen Gadbois’ which reveal homes on the list
that are owned byshadowy LLCs, or byabsentee landlords, or byother city agencies, in other words, various entities other than “seniors and low income residents”. Some of the properties on NOAH’s the listwere not touched. Others appear not to exist at all.

The irregularities first came to light when Karen noticedthis house on the city’s Imminent Health Threat Demolition list.
A brand new sign advertised the fact that it had been gutted by NOAH…
just in time to be demolished with a different pool of federal funds
provided by FEMA. And so folks started asking questions. E over at We
Could Be Famousimmediately asked
1) Who are the contractors involved in doing the remediation work? and
2) Can we call them? The results were mixed…

There is much more and I hope you’ll read the rest because though this may be a city run program it is using federal funds and thus involves all of us. Nagin may not want attention brought to this fearing it will hurt the city’s recovery, which may well be one outcome, but what recovery is there in contractors apparently being paid and work not being done? What recovery was there for Miss Dolores? And how many others? If the Mayor didn’t want our attention he should have paid more attention to his program. It is as Gadbois says–No Transparency, No Recovery. Nagin needs to stop complaining and offer that transparency…Now.

Friday Ferretblogging: Props to T

Our neighbor who watched the beasties while we were away. I don’t think they missed us much:




A Week of NOLA over at the Rude Place!


Also, anytime my spam filter wants to stop shunting everything straight into “bulk,” that’d be awesome.


Morning Links

The new
minimum is less than the inflation-adjusted 1997 level of $7.02, and
far below the inflation-adjusted level of $10.06 from 40 years ago,
according to a Labor Department inflation calculator.

full-time worker who earned the $2.90-an-hour minimum wage in 1979
earned enough to pull a family of three out of poverty. That same
family would fall nearly $4,000 below the poverty threshold today
because the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation.