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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Sunday, 4 September 2005

Topic: Announcements


This week's issue of Just Above Sunset - Volume 3, Number 36, for the week of Sunday, September 4, 2005 - is now online and contains, in magazine format, extended versions of what first appeared here, along with much new material.

This week's issue may be the Labor Day issue, or the back-to-school issue, or the hurricane issue, or the Paris and London issue - your choice.

In current events there is a great deal on the hurricane and what it has shown about us, and about those who lead us, along with two item on the ongoing Iraq war - one on the controversial new strategy for winning, and one on war reporting.

This week's "features," so to speak, cover the shift as the new year begins in September - Mike in London explaining what changes there, and Ric in Paris what changes, or doesn't, there. There was no column from Ric, "Our Man in Paris," last week, but this week there are three, two of them with photos of the end of summer in Paris. And for the heck of it, there's a short note on Las Vegas and an exclusive photo of the famous writer, Ray Bradbury, who just turned eighty-five.

More Paris? The week's shots from "Our Eye on Paris," Don Smith, show the Paris some of us remember all too well. David Hockney inspires the local photography, and there's a special botanical shot. The pages on Richard Meier's Getty Center, along with architectural notes, will probably be posted Monday - there are forty of them and building the multiple pages and text are taking a bit more time than anticipated. As some of you know, the Getty Center is that big billion-dollar museum complex that opened a few years ago, high above Sunset. Richard Meier is the architect, and this is sort of Le Corbusier meets Frank Lloyd Wright meets Mies van der Rohe in a monumentally Stalinist thing. Stay tuned for that, or more precisely, log on in a day or two.

Of course Bob Patterson is back, with a column that demands some interaction, and with an unusual roundup of back-to-school book recommendations.

Oh yes, the quotes for the week are tangentially related to events in New Orleans.

Direct links to specific pages -

Current Events ________________

The President's Rentrée: When it rains, it pours…
News from Lake George: Things Fall Apart
What's With These People? Readers on the administration's response to the storm and flood…
Disconnects Noted: And Now They Are Open for Discussion
Iraq: The Blindingly Obvious Strategy of the Day - The Oil Patch
War Status: Who Do You Trust?

Features ________________

Our Man in London: Notes from Westminster
Our Man in Paris: In the News in France as Summer Ends
Our Man in Paris (2): Last Word of August from Paris - Unauthorized Water!
A Photo-Note from Our Man in Paris
Las Vegas: Assessing the Pre-Ridiculous
Book Note: Ray Bradbury

Bob Patterson ________________

WLJ Weekly: from the desk of the World's Laziest Journalist - Between A Rock and a Hard Place
Book Wrangler: Study Hard, Make Us Proud, Get A Solid Script

Guest Photography ________________

Our Eye on Paris: Traditional Paris

Local Photography ________________

Hockney: The Sun-Drenched Color Palette He Devised in Los Angeles
A Rose
Richard Meier's Getty Center (coming soon)

Quotes for the week of September 4, 2005 - Tangentially Related to Events In New Orleans

The rose:

Posted by Alan at 16:18 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 4 September 2005 16:19 PDT home

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Disconnects Noted: And Now They Are Open for Discussion

• The American Red Cross was and still is banned from entering New Orleans - a collection of the reasoning involved - bit of "too dangerous" and a lot of "helping these people on site would make them less likely to want to leave" - statements from officials. The deaths that resulted from this decision are not discussed.

• From the weekend wrap-up on the Washington Post, a snippet on FEMA here:
As reports continued of famished and dehydrated people isolated across the Gulf Coast, angry questions were pressed about why the military has not been dropping food packets for them - as was done in Afghanistan, Bosnia and in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami.

Bill Wattenburg, a consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and one of the designers of the earlier food drop programs, said that he has lobbied the administration and the military to immediately begin something similar. He said he was told that the military was prepared to begin, but that it was awaiting a request from FEMA.
Never happened. Elsewhere in these pages on the head of FEMA, Michael Brown, who, prior to joining FEMA was as an assistant city manager, Laura Rosen being angry:
My lord, the guy heading FEMA has no qualifications. What was he doing before getting pulled into FEMA by the Bush administration in 2003? He was an estate planning lawyer in Colorado and of counsel for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department. And yes, it is the same Michael D. Brown.
Her item has internal links to the facts, and now this additional information - the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department asked Brown to resign, or be fired, and earlier in the year there were calls for him to resign as head of FEMA, because FEMA seems to have inappropriately distributed thirty million dollars in disaster relief funds to people in the Miami area even though they were not affected by Hurricane Frances, which made landfall more than one hundred miles away - the link has more detail. He takes care of his friends. Also see this from the New Orleans Times-Picayune September 2nd - current issues with breaking agreements.

• From the Associated Press, Saturday, September 3, this:
WASHINGTON - Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck - a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
File that under Management 101 of course.

• Under "class and race" issues file this, also from the Associated Press, Saturday, September 3 -
At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line - much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, near the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome. The Hyatt was severely damaged by the storm. Every pane of glass on the riverside wall was blown out.
• Noted in the Los Angeles Times, Saturday, September 3 - Met by Despair, Not Violence - byline Scott Gold, subhead "As they begin to patrol the chaotic city, troops are surprised by what they don't find." They were told to expect urban combat to take back the streets, they entered the city "locked and loaded" in full armor, but no enemy - just desperate and dying civilians who wanted help.

• Also noted in the Los Angeles Times, Saturday, September 3 - Reporters Confront Leaders on Government's Response (Scott Collins) "... many reporters shed their stance of neutrality and joined numerous commentators in criticizing local, state and federal officials for their seemingly slow reaction to the calamity."

On Thursday's "Nightline," ABC News' Ted Koppel assailed Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown for his inability to offer an accurate count of refugees at the New Orleans Convention Center: "Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting about it for more than just today."

On CNN, reporter Soledad O'Brien also lit into Brown: "How is it possible that we're getting better intel than you're getting? ... Why no massive airdrop of food and water? In Banda Aceh, in Indonesia, they got food dropped two days after the tsunami struck."

"No one, no one in government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching calamitous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime," said CNN commentator Jack Cafferty. The cable network reported being flooded with e-mails praising Cafferty's diatribe.

Also on CNN, Anderson Cooper had a bristling exchange Thursday evening with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who was thanking leaders and praising the emergency aid bill Congress was about to pass.

"Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi," Cooper said. "And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated?. It kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats."

On MSNBC, host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough called the situation in the Gulf Coast region "nothing short of a national disgrace."

Commentators who have proved friendly to Republicans criticized some of the relief efforts, if not the Bush administration directly.

Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News Channel's highly rated "The O'Reilly Factor," told viewers Thursday: "The country expects the government to control law breaking in the hurricane zone, to provide food and shelter, and to prevent any person or company from exploiting this desperate situation."

News executives defended the tenor of the coverage, saying that reporters witnessing the devastation were best qualified to press government officials about reports that did not correlate to what they were seeing, they said.
That seemed to be happening, and over at Fox News on Friday night this:
I've never seen anything as harrowing as Fox News' Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith on Hannity and Colmes. While Aaron Brown on CNN said we have "turned the corner", it's clearly not the truth. There are thousands of people trapped in what Geraldo called "this Hell on earth" at the convention center. No one has been bused out. Shepard was on I-10 and just devastating in his description of the "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of people being denied exit and still without food, water, medicine or water.

When a network like Fox can't prevent its reporters from speaking the truth, you have to know the situation is so much worse than we've been told. Geraldo was crying, Shep Smith looked like he wanted to drive a knife thorough Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes. How frustrating for them to watch reality get trumped by spinned photos of supply-laden ships arriving. The reality is that 12 hours after those ships arrived, nothing has changed for those in lock-down at the convention center or exiled on a highway.
Saw it too, and the video is here - the Fox News pro-administration machine breaking down for a moment.

Back to the Times media notes:
Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president of CBS News, said she could not remember another disaster in which there was such a disconnect between what the government said and what reporters saw.

"It is part of our job to question them and to say, 'How can you say that, when we see something else with our own eyes?' " McGinnis said.

... The turning point in the Katrina coverage came Thursday, when authorities stopped evacuating refugees from the squalid Superdome in New Orleans because of reports of shots fired at rescuers, Rosenstiel [Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington] said. Journalists found it difficult to accept official explanations of why the extensive relief promised by the government had not reached refugees.

"The [Bush] administration threw the head of FEMA out there to the lion's den" to answer reporters' questions, Rosenstiel said.

Indeed, Koppel's grilling of FEMA's Brown proved pivotal to many viewers, who burned up blogs and online discussion with analyses of the exchange.

"Thank God Koppel is there to ask the common sense questions," a poster wrote at Americablog. "Kudos to Koppel for standing up to the White House spin," wrote Matthew Gross on his blog Deride and Conquer.

By midday Friday, the tone of the coverage seemed to be shifting. As troops began delivering food and water and President Bush toured the Gulf Coast region, CNN blared the headline "Help at Last" on its website.

But also offered transcripts documenting differences in the official version and the "in-the-trenches version" of events, under the headline: "The big disconnect on New Orleans."
That CNN item is here, and it's in simple bullet points.

The Times also notes the conservative commentators have accused the media of using the disaster as an opportunity to attack Bush, quoting Rush Limbaugh.

As for CNN and Anderson Cooper, who appeared on Bill Mehar's Real Time show on HBO Friday night - and resisted laughing it up as much as Maher tried to loosen things - he seems just angry. Here is the exchange that happened Thursday, Cooper and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.
Cooper introduced Landrieu and immediately asked, "Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?" Landrieu told him "there will be plenty of time to discuss those issues," and proceeded to begin thanking various government officials for their disaster relief support.

Finally, Cooper interrupted her:

Senator, I'm sorry... for the last four days, I have been seeing dead bodies here in the streets of Mississippi and to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other - I have to tell you, there are people here who are very upset and angry, and when they hear politicians thanking one another, it just, you know, it cuts them the wrong way right now, because there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman has been laying in the street for 48 hours, and there is not enough facilities to get her up. Do you understand that anger?

LANDRIEU: I have the anger inside of me. Most of the homes in my family have been destroyed. I understand that, and I know all the details, and the President...

COOPER: Well, who are you angry at?

LANDRIEU: I'm not angry at anyone. It is so important for everyone in this nation to pull together, for all military assets to be brought to bear in this situation. I have every confidence this country is great and strong as we can be do to that, and that effort is under way. That effort is under way.

COOPER: Well, I mean, there are a lot of people here who are kind of ashamed of what is happening in this country right now, what is - ashamed of what is happening in your state. And that's not to blame the people that are there, it is a terrible situation, but you know, who - no one seems to be taking responsibility. I know you say there's a time and a place for kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. There are people that want answers, and people want someone to stand up and say: we should have done more.
Not the usual behavior of out press? You could say that.

Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta had some things to say. Rick's involvement in the founding of CNN can be found in CNN: The Inside Story, a book from 1990 (Little, More) by Hank Whittemore - see the index under Rick Brown -
If you've watched CNN this week, all the on-air CNNers seem to be in high dudgeon - not only the Anderson Cooper case you mention here, nor the normally curmudgeonly (read, "old conservative fart") Jack Cafferty that you mention elsewhere, but also Jeanne Meserve breaking down during a debriefing from Aaron Brown the other night, Soledad O'Brien coming on strong while interviewing someone (whose identity I forget) the other day, and this morning, Miles O'Brien grilling Louisiana's governor on how many troops she requested, and when.

I can't help but think Jonathan Klein, who is on record in favor of personalizing CNN's news coverage, sees this going on, and probably approves. For all I know, he's actually urging them to do it.

I saw Anderson open his show last night with that interview - introducing it by expressing his "outrage," and then seemingly fighting back tears afterward as he moved on to the next piece. I was surprised Landrieu didn't just say, "Miles, I've got too much work to do to sit around and take crap from you," then take off her microphone and walk away. Instead, at the end, she kept thanking him for the work he was doing.

At first, I was annoyed with Cooper's lack of professionalism. Although I've always liked his stuff, I've also felt that he hasn't really racked up enough real journalistic experience to understand this principle of objectivity. For example, I asked myself, shouldn't he - and maybe the rest of us - be at least as dismayed that over a thousand pilgrims died during that panic in Iraq earlier in the week? In fact, from now on, should I fault him every time he does NOT become emotionally involved in a story close to MY heart?

But then, I got over it. First of all, these on-scene reporters are suffering from lack of sleep as they struggle to get from one scene to another, only to constantly confront personal tragedies that they can do little to alleviate - suffering, in fact, from psychological trauma similar to that experienced by the rescue workers, nurses, and other public servants in the area.

But also, maybe one of the problems with disaster coverage in general is that it tends to equalize all these hurricanes into one big amorphous blob of distressed survivors, strolling through piles of broken lumber, vowing to build again. Maybe this one, which is probably closer to San Francisco's 1906 earthquake or the Chicago Fire than to Hurricane Andrew, demands reporters who will shake us by the shoulders and get us to forget everything else we've ever seen, and also to force our government to pay better attention to this than it seems to be doing.

Not that this necessarily will work, of course. Here in Atlanta, even with refugees streaming in who will probably end up as permanent residents for years to come, the major concern of the locals seems to be whether we will run out of gas in our cars during the upcoming holiday weekend, or whether we'll be paying more than $3 a gallon from here on out.
Maybe so, or maybe all these accumulating "disconnects" - now the media openly reports them - will mean some changes for the better in the nation.

The "disconnects" are there. Now they are open for discussion to the general public, not just fodder for bull sessions among the policy wonks.

Posted by Alan at 10:05 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005 10:22 PDT home

Friday, 2 September 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

What's With These People? Readers on the administration's response to the storm and flood…

I asked my email group if anyone have an answer to the question at the end of this item from Kevin Drum in the Washington Monthly. This was what Drum posted late on September 1 -
CLUELESS... Could the people in charge of managing the catastrophe in New Orleans possibly be more clueless?

George W. Bush, President of the United States, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." [Drum links to this.]

Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, following widespread eyewitness reports of refugees living like animals at the Convention Center: "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don't have food and water." [Drum links to this.]

Mike Brown, Director of FEMA, referring to people who were stuck in New Orleans largely because they were too poor to afford the means to leave: "...those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..." [Drum links to this.]

Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, providing needed reassurance to the newly homeless: "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level... It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." [Drum links to this.]

This is beyond belief. What's with these people?
So the question posed is just that - "What's with these people?"

From Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis:
PARIS, Friday, September 2, 2005 - Last night, Thursday, I took a quick look for the names of Cafe Metropole Club members who gave hometown locations in the area that was devastated by the hurricane. One has a photo gallery in a mall in Waveland, Mississippi. He is a serious photographer and has serious prints for sale, and had customers all over North America and beyond. According to the reports so far I have to wonder whether he's still there, and if Waveland is still there. There are maybe another dozen club members with hometowns around the Mississippi delta. Will they ever be in Paris again?

The people I've talked to so far don't seem to get it. A whole major city, New Orleans, has been wiped out.

Unknown numbers of people have been killed and the ones left alive don't have any homes to return to. Whole towns have been wrecked, destroyed. All the infrastructure is gone. No water, no sewers, no electricity, no roads, no gas, no pipelines, no hospitals, no bridges. It's a war zone.

There isn't any question that simple repairs will put the place back to like it was. New Orleans has to be completely rebuilt, from the ground up. But first the 'ground' has to be created. No God is going to shift a finger to do this; there isn't going to be any snap creation.

It means that there is going to have to be a major imagination found and put to work. The imagination has to conclude that the whole thing has to be entirely rebuilt. Trying to 'fix up' the mess won't work; it isn't the time for spot bandages. Besides, rebuilding is cheaper in the short term, and will have long-term benefits. Has 'historic' New Orleans been destroyed? Rebuild a replica. It'll be faster and cheaper.

'Cheaper' is important because the overall cost will be stupendous, colossal. Whole cities, whole towns need to be replaced. Hundreds of thousands of residents need to be re-housed, as quickly as possible. It's going to require the equivalent determination and organization of a sneak attack war effort. All hands needed.

But not too cheap. The greatest danger is emergency housing; dumping people into tents or tin houses and forgetting them because they are black and poor. The area is going to be hit by new hurricanes someday. It has to be rebuilt so it can withstand the elements. And residents, no matter how poor, have a right to decent housing.

It will be an immense job. It has to be accepted that what was there is gone. Wiped out. 'Fix-it' isn't going to bring it back. Don't waste time quibbling about it. Take a blank sheet and start over right now.

The biggest reconstruction job in the history of the United States will make a lot of people rich, and the country will become a lot richer for making the effort. Except for the dead there could be benefits for everybody.

So long as there is the imagination to DO IT. Mobilize now.

And when it's finished, try to remember that there are places in Africa in states just as sorry. Places devastated by nature.
From Emma in Belgium (yes, she used to be Paris, and yes, she's Australian) -
Sadly watching the awfulness of the Katrina situation from a deluxe presidential aircraft will not mean a thing to Bush and his bunch of fellow assholes.

This is yet again a blindingly obvious example of the total ineptness, isolated "head-in-the-sand" (or is it water?) position vis-a-vis the common man and the overall ignorance of the present American government towards the American populace at large.

And yet... Will this finish Bush and his henchmen? Well there certainly won't be any resignations from the so-called CEO and his bunch or prize pet prats.

Naturally the swarms of inane right-wing religious nutters of the so-called finest country in the world which perceives itself as being the best country globally to set an example in all manner of things (Emergency Rescue Operations being an excellent example - no wonder Iraq is a shit-hole these days) will prevail and win the day in supporting Bush and his team.

Oh and another thing. Surely those terrified, hungry, and thirsty folk (majority being black - what happened to equality, human rights, respect for ones' fellow man - indeed the Good Samaritan is surely a tale which Bush is at this very moment doing his best to emulate) scrambling around in the depths of hopelessness in New Orleans could at least be offered a bed at the White House n'est-ce pas>?

It would make a pleasant change to see the White House full of real people.

Finally, one last thought. Maybe America really now needs its own revolution a la francaise across the whole country to shake everyone up and lead the country to a far closer picture of its own ideals.
Well, maybe the revolution start today, in New Orleans, with Bush being run out of town by the angry mobs - those mobs singing La Marseillaise (they do use a form of French down that way) -

Allons ! Enfants de la Patrie !
Le jour de gloire est arriv? !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'?tendard sanglant est lev? !

Aux armes, citoyens !

But that seems unlikely.

Emma replies - "Surely enough Americans will take to the streets now and demand that Bush be pushed?"

Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta: "Reminds me of a dream I had the other night; it was all about flying pigs."

Then Rick adds this:
I realize that sounded pretty curt. Sorry.

What I meant was that I doubt all those people who voted for Bush are now angry at him about anything at all, and surely not enough to get off their overstuffed Barco-loungers to take to the cul-de-sacs. Even as he was winning that reelection, after all, polls showed most people disagreed with his positions on almost everything.

Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of people in this country who would like to see George Bush humbled, but when they peer into his face in hopes of spotting actual contrition about something, they always come up empty. Much of his strength, I think, can be traced to the fact that he was born without a single humble gene in his whole genome, and I doubt he will ever grow a new one before the day he dies.
Perhaps so.

Actually in the news Friday there was some evidence for Rick's contention.

Jeffrey Dubner here quotes the president saying this (linking to the actual White House transcript):
The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house - he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)
Dubner: "I never thought anybody could respond to a tragedy with something more inappropriate and out of touch than Michael Dukakis' rejoinder to the hypothetical rape and murder of his wife, but there you have it."

Then Dubner points to Ezra Klein's readers providing hypothetical historical counterparts:
All of the citizens of New York will have a glorious new Starbucks. Did I mention I love my cappuccino?

The good news - and this is hard for some to see after the Hindenburg - is that the blimps of tomorrow will be even more spectacular. They will be twice as big and travel twice as far and be filled with methane. I'm looking forward to producing some of that methane myself.

The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Chicago, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Mrs. O'Leary's barn - she's lost her entire barn - there's going to be a fantastic barn. And I'm looking forward to setting the lantern down by her cow. (Laughter.)
Rick is not alone, it seems, and Rick has more comment:
BUSH: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Obviously he never heard of "Hurricane Pam"? Actually, this hypothetical Category-3 storm that directly hits New Orleans, a "tabletop" study that was still being worked on when Katrina roared through, didn't "breach" the levees, but effectively did the same by pushing water OVER them, thusly flooding the city, killing an untold number and stranding folks on top of houses. This levee scenario has been on the minds of everyone who seriously looked at this issue over the years.

Regarding Chertoff: I heard this on All Things Considered! It was amazing!

[ROBERT] SIEGEL: We are hearing from our reporter, and he's on another line right now, thousands of people at the Convention Center in New Orleans with no food. Zero.

CHERTOFF: I am telling you we are getting food and water to areas where people are staging. And, uh, you know, the one thing about an episode like this is, if you talk to someone and you get a rumor, where you get someone's anecdotal version of something, I think it's dangerous to extrapolate it all over the place. [In this case only, bold emphasis mine -- Rick]


SIEGEL: But Mr. Secretary, when you say that, uh, we shouldn't listen to rumors, these are things coming from reporters who have not only cover many many other hurricanes, but who have covered wars and refugee camps. These are rumors? They're seeing thousands of people there.

CHERTOFF: I would be... I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don't have food and water. I can tell you that specifically the Superdome, which was designated staging area for a large number of evacuees, does have food and water and that we have teams putting food and water out at other designated staging areas.


SIEGEL: And our reporter said two thousand people at the Convention Center, without anything.

CHERTOFF: I understand and I can't argue with you about what your reporter tells you...
But yes, this story was tagged out with mention that Chertoff's spokeswoman later called to say he had since become aware of this Convention Center situation, and they were now working on it.

Regarding FEMA Director Mike Brown's comments, I did hear him mention somewhere (CNN? NPR?) something like "...those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..." But they way I heard it was "...those who chose not to leave the city, and those that couldn't..." When the interviewer called him on it, he sort of backed away from the first part.

Regarding Dennis Hastert: "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level... It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed."

Had this particular brand of forward-thinking existed when New York mostly burned down during the Revolutionary War, as did Washington during the War of 1812, and Atlanta in the Civil War, and Chicago in the 1870s, or about San Francisco when it fell down in 1906, we'd never be able to see those cities alive and doing so well today.

The most articulate answer to Hastert's pessimistic "bulldozer solution" I've heard so far comes from New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, that city's official cultural ambassador, on NPR's Morning Edition today ( At the moment, he's a refugee in Baton Rouge. It should be noted that he was apparently not speaking specifically to what Hastert said, although he might just as well have been:

"I mean, we have to rebuild, we have to move forward; cities must be resilient if we're going to show the resilience of our country ... we don't have that option as Americans to look at ANY part of our country in a sense of abandonment ... but this country has endured many things, and the world has also, and, you know, this is another major catastrophe that we are going to have to deal with, and we'll have to endure."

What's with these people?

All I can believe is that conservative politicians, by and large, get somewhat nervous whenever a local catastrophe occurs that calls for help from the community at large. I always imagine that, within their brains, there's this little prancing elf, tap-dancing on the precipice, resisting with all its might the temptation to let forth with another inappropriate lecture on the virtues of "individual responsibility".

"No, now is not the time," they seem to be cautioning themselves, "at least not so soon before the upcoming election."
From Bob Patterson, known to readers here as the World's Laziest Journalist:
I just read one comment where she said the politicians are congratulating each other for a job well done.

As I was reading that, I had the TV on and two governors and the POTUS were congratulating each other on a job being well done.

Who am I supposed to believe - some lady that lives in another country or the President of the United States who was elected by the largest number of votes ever?

What's with this story about the New Orleans police quitting?

When will the troops with the "shoot to kill" orders arrive and restore order?
Bob is referring to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco warning rioters and looters in New Orleans that National Guard troops are under her orders to "shoot and kill" to end the violence in the city. (CNN here and a spoof here: "Louisiana National Guardsmen were told they must first ask looters to see a receipt for any merchandise they might be floating down the street before shooting them. Training for Guardsmen would be provided by Wal-Mart greeters. 'If no receipt can be produced, they are to take ten steps backwards, and open fire.' Asked if this wouldn't give most looters a chance to swim away, Bush went on to the next question.) Police quitting? See this from the Associated Press wire: "New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out, cops turned in their badges and the governor declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear."

Bob asks who is he supposed to believe. He knows the answer. He likes being a scattershot provocateur. He drifted from the original question.

Actually there is an answer to the original question. What's with these people?

It's in their approach to what government is supposed to do, even if it were more competent and informed than it seems to be this week.

Grover Norquist is clear - "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Clear enough. That blunt statement is not new. You will find that comment and more here, in The Nation, April 26, 2001. That was discussed in these pages here a year ago, but in regard to the debate about killing the Social Security program. Guess what? New Orleans is the bathtub. (Illustrated here.)

See Kevin Drum again - Ideology and Real Life -
Conservatives fundamentally believe in a limited role for the federal government. They believe in downsizing, privatizing, and placing greater reliance on state and local government to provide essential services. It's easy - too easy - to blame George Bush in hindsight for specific things like cutting the Corps of Engineers budget for the New Orleans district, but the reason this criticism is legitimate is because this wasn't merely a specific incident. As even some conservatives tacitly admit, it was a direct result of George Bush's governing ideology.

... Liberals, by contrast, believe in a robust role for the federal government. We believe in sharing risk nationwide for local disasters. We believe that only the federal government is big enough to coordinate relief on the scale needed by an event like Katrina, and that strong, well-managed agencies like FEMA should take the lead role in making this happen.

Both of these governing philosophies are defensible, but too often they seem like nothing more than opposing sides in an intellectual game. Katrina demonstrates otherwise. It's what happens when a drowning city runs smack into a conservative movement that believes in drowning the federal government in a bathtub.
He does note that some conservatives, like Andrew Sullivan disagree:
Real conservatives believe that the state should do a few things that no one else can do - defense, decent public education, police, law and order among the most obvious - and leave the rest to individuals. Funding FEMA and having a superb civil defense are very much part of conservatism's real core.
But there is the evidence to argue against that. As noted elsewhere, FEMA was reduced to one part of a larger department, Homeland Security, and lost its cabinet access, and then had its budget cut again and again. Is the Norquist governing ideology somehow not "real" conservatism?

That is quibbling about labels. Since the Reagan days of "government is evil" and "less is best" and all that, the country has moved steadily in that direction - buying into that governing ideology which posits, in its purist form, that we lose our personal freedom when we act as a community, that "individual responsibility" is the core virtue in a free society, and helping others causes great harm to them, by allowing those who are helped assume they are owed something and destroying their initiative. Who wants a nation of lazy, whining victims, telling you that you owe them something?

If that is so, then this is what you get. Sullivan sees a middle ground. Some things require a sense of community, and other things do not.

What's with these people? They see no middle ground, and only act when they are shamed into acting. And still they resent it.

Posted by Alan at 16:08 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005 16:21 PDT home

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Topic: Couldn't be so...

News from Lake George: Things Fall Apart

Noted on the morning of the first day of September - how August ended.

It wasn't all "Hurricane News." There was a brief flurry of minor discussion of the war and foreign policy as Francis Fukuyama, one of the original neoconservatives - the fellow who suggested "the end of history" and all that - published an op-ed piece in the New York Times saying the Bush administration had made a mess of everything. Of course, as noted the month before the last election, he said he wouldn't vote for Bush - "I just think that if you're responsible for this kind of a big policy failure, you ought to be held accountable for it." (See this quoting him in "The Neoconservative Moment," his twelve-page contribution to the Iraq debate, published in the Summer 2004 issue of The National Interest, a really conservative foreign–policy journal.)

What he said in the Times -
The Bush administration could instead have chosen to create a true alliance of democracies to fight the illiberal currents coming out of the Middle East. It could also have tightened economic sanctions and secured the return of arms inspectors to Iraq without going to war. It could have made a go at a new international regime to battle proliferation. All of these paths would have been in keeping with American foreign policy traditions. But Mr. Bush and his administration freely chose to do otherwise.
That's a lot of "could haves." None of it was done. Over at American Future you get this:
Fukuyama ... errs by assuming that the U.S. had power to create a "true alliance of democracies" and that tightening economic sanctions and securing the return of arms inspectors to Iraq would have removed the necessity for war. Any "true" alliance of democracies would have to include France. In light of the French fixation on establishing a multipolar international system to constrain American "hyperpower," it's highly doubtful that such an effort would have met with success. As for economic sanctions, it's now well known that the other members of the UN Security Council (except for Great Britain) were already ignoring existing sanctions and advocating their elimination. Finally, an agreement on a new international regime to battle proliferation would have required considerable time to negotiate, and it's highly problematic that Saddam would have abided by it.
Does it matter? People are dying in New Orleans, thousands it seems. And Sterling Newberry here says it doesn't matter - Iraq will disintegrate, "followed by the elevation of a strong man who promises to pump oil so long as no questions are asked," and that will have to do.

The immediate problem is the end of New Orleans. September 1, from the New York Times - Officials Struggle to Reverse a Growing Sense of Anarchy - "National Guard troops by the thousands moved into this storm-ravaged city today as state and local officials struggled to reverse a growing sense of anarchy sparked by reports of armed looters, bodies floating untouched in stagnant floodwaters, and food and water supplies dwindling for thousands of trapped and desperate residents." See also Reuters: New Orleans makes 'desperate SOS' relief plea and all the rest. Just watch the news.

And now New Orleans seems to have turned into "Lake George" - that seems to be what some folks down there are calling it. As least that seems to be the case if this email from an EPA guy is correct: "We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault."

How can this be George Bush's fault?

Well, here's a summary from Editor and Publisher, reading the New Orleans Times-Picayune so you don't have to. Try this:
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."
At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Fair? Andrew Sullivan here: "Yes, some would even blame Bush and the war for a hurricane. But blaming Bush and the war for the poor state of New Orleans' levees is a legitimate argument. And it could be a crushing one."

A crushing argument? Maybe.

Is the administration in trouble? He came back and gave a speech to the nation.

That was summarized in the New York Times in their lead editorial: "George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast ..."

Ah, the Times should be discounted? What about this letter in the highly conservative National Review?
... Doesn't he realize that more people may have died from this storm than died on September 11? I don't expect him to say he's gonna get Katrina "dead or alive" for what she's done to America. But for crying out loud, can he put off the laundry list of all the things his wonderful bureaucracy has done so far until the end of the speech and begin by addressing the pain we all feel as this tragedy is unfolding in slow-motion on live TV? We're talking death on a massive scale, and within 2 minutes he's thanking Texas for housing refugees (way to perpetuate that "I'm all about Texas" stereotype).

And don't get me started about how the first image of Bush coming back to Washington as thousands have died in a tragedy was him walking down the stairs of Air Force One with Barney tucked under his arm…

I love President Bush, but that was a pathetic performance and I agree with what Byron wrote about his vacation. And I'm with you: Bring in the troops. Lead! Don't tell me that the federal government will be working "with" state and local governments...
And the highly conservative, pro-Bush Union-Leader up in "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire is forced to print this, on the speech Bush gave the day before, out here in California, saying the man was a day late:
As the extent of Hurricane Katrina's devastation became clearer on Tuesday - millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews cant reach some regions - President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before. Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.

The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty.
Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly say the man is oddly detached from reality -
While New Orleans was undergoing a slow motion catastrophe on Monday and Tuesday, Bush was mugging for the cameras, cutting a cake for John McCain, playing the guitar for Mark Wills, delivering an address about V-J day, and continuing with his vacation. Then, on Wednesday, when he finally got around to saying something, it turned out to be a flat, defensive, laundry list of a speech.

These are not the actions of a president in touch with the country - especially a president who usually excels at reacting to tragedies like this. When you put this together with his increasingly robotic speeches about progress in Iraq, his tone-deaf reaction to Cindy Sheehan's vigil, and the continuing meltdown in public support for the war, I think that for the first time in his presidency Bush has found himself in a corner he doesn't know how to get out of. And it's showing.
Of course, he's not alone. See the many links here where we learn Condoleezza Rice, our Secretary of State, spent the last day of August in Manhattan – playing tennis with Monica Seles, buying thousands of dollars worth of snazzy shoes at Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, then attending an evening performance of Spamalot for some good laughs. Reports are that at Ferragamo one of the other shoppers screamed at her - "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" Our Secretary of State had security physically remove the woman.

The peasants can be so bothersome?

Perhaps the administration image people who handle PR took the month off. Rice might have put off her shopping trip to Manhattan. And who would approve the release of this photo, or this one? Let them eat cake?

But the president claims he's not to blame. Thursday, September 1, on "Good Morning America" - an actual live interview with Diane Sawyer - "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." He is not to blame. No one is to blame. Remember the 9/11 hearings when Condoleezza Rice carefully explained that "no one could have imagined" folks using airplanes as weapons? Sure it was in the reports, bur "no one could have imagined" it. She was not to blame. No one is to blame.

Consider Mike Parker, former Republican congressman from Mississippi who briefly served as head of the Army Corps of Engineers from late 2001 to early 2002 - before he was fired for criticizing administration budget cuts.

From the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger of March 7, 2002 -
The assistant secretary of the Army, Mississippi's former U.S. Rep. Mike Parker, was forced out Wednesday after he criticized the Bush administration's proposed spending cuts on Army Corps of Engineers' water projects, members of Congress said.

"Apparently he was asked to resign," said U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the House Appropriations Committee's energy and water development subcommittee that oversees the corps' budget.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also said Parker was dismissed.

Parker's nomination to head the corps drew heavy criticism last year from environmental groups pushing to downsize the agency, calling its flood control projects too costly and destructive.

Parker earned the ire of administration officials when he questioned Bush's planned budget cuts for the corps, including two controversial Mississippi projects.

"I think he was fired for being too honest and not loyal enough to the president," said lobbyist Colin Bell, who represents communities with corps-funded projects.

Bell said Parker resigned about noon after being given about 30 minutes to choose between resigning or being fired.
Josh Marshall found that and says, "Pretty much the Bush administration in a nutshell."


But FEMA is there to save us. Maybe.

Kevin Drum reminds us than in 1995 Dan Franklin wrote a piece in the about FEMA, and its reputation for poor planning and bureaucratic incompetence in the 80s and early 90s:
FEMA was, in the words of former advisory board member and defense analyst Lawrence Korb, a "political dumping ground," a backwater reserved for political contributors or friends with no experience in emergency management.

... Because FEMA had 10 times the proportion of political appointees of most other government agencies, the poorly chosen Bush [Sr.] appointees had a profound effect on the performance of the agency. Sam Jones, the mayor of Franklin, Louisiana, says he was shocked to find that the damage assessors sent to his town a week after Hurricane Andrew had no disaster experience whatsoever. "They were political appointees, members of county Republican parties hired on an as-needed basis. ... They were terribly inexperienced."
No kidding. In 1986 or 1987 I found myself chatting with the second in command at FEMA - a high-school dropout with a GED who had worked as a psychiatric nurse for a time. How did she get that job? She was the wife of one of the Assistant Secretaries of Defense in the Reagan administration (and my step mother-in-law at the time). Curious.

Drum points out Bush has appointed, to head FEMA, in succession, his 2000 campaign manager and an
Oklahoma lawyer whose only emergency management experience prior to joining FEMA was as an assistant city manager. Laura Rosen puts it this way:
My lord, the guy heading FEMA has no qualifications. What was he doing before getting pulled into FEMA by the Bush administration in 2003? He was an estate planning lawyer in Colorado and of counsel for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department. And yes, it is the same Michael D. Brown.
And so it goes. Yep, not much emergency management experience, but I'm sure he means well. And he's going to have a fresh ten billion dollars to manage.

Let's see - anarchy in New Orleans, corpses rotting in the streets, hundred of thousands of refugees to manage - we'll see how he does.

The president didn't get much of a vacation, what with that pesky Sheehan woman, and now this hurricane. When asked why he wouldn't meet the Sheehan woman, he famously said he understood her loss, but he just "needs to get on with his life." And now this hurricane, of all things.

And to add to his woes there's the race issue. Most of those stuck in the bedlam of "Lake George" are not white folks. And, expect for the stranded tourists, they're all poor. All over the right-side commentary sites there's a whiff of "they only have themselves to blame." Everyone was told to get out, but there are more and more news items pointing out that they just couldn't, because they're poor. They didn't have the means.

Jack Shafer, on the last day of August, pointed out even the press has some difficulty with this -
To be sure, some reporters sidled up to the race and class issue. I heard them ask the storm's New Orleans victims why they hadn't left town when the evacuation call came. Many said they were broke - "I live from paycheck to paycheck," explained one woman. Others said they didn't own a car with which to escape and that they hadn't understood the importance of evacuation.

But I don't recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn't risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he'd have no way to replace them. No insurance, no stable, large extended family that could lend him cash to get back on his feet, no middle-class job to return to after the storm.

... Race remains largely untouchable for TV because broadcasters sense that they can't make an error without destroying careers. That's a true pity. If the subject were a little less taboo, one of last night's anchors could have asked a reporter, "Can you explain to our viewers, who by now have surely noticed, why 99 percent of the New Orleans evacuees we're seeing are African-American? I suppose our viewers have noticed, too, that the provocative looting footage we're airing and re-airing seems to depict mostly African-Americans."
Jack Cafferty on CNN's "The Situation Room" the next day calls the "the elephant in the room" -
The thing that's most glaring in all of this is that the conditions continue to deteriorate for people who are victims and the efforts to do something about it don't seem to be anywhere in sight.

... The questions that we ask in The Situation Room every day are posted on the website two or three hours before we go on the air and people who read the website often begin to respond to the questions before the show actually starts. The question for this hour is whether the government is doing a good job in handling the situation.

I gotta tell you something, we got five or six hundred letters before the show actually went on the air, and no one - no one - is saying the government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamitous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.

We're going to talk about something else before the show's over, too. And that's the big elephant in the room. The race and economic class of most of the victims, which the media hasn't discussed much at all, but we will a bit later.
And later he read an email from a viewer saying he'd be tied up in tax audits for the rest of his life - Rove and his crew don't mess around.

The president's cold quasi-leadership? These are unimportant folks. They're not important. Could be racism, but it could just be they're too poor to matter to his constituency.

As for what real leadership might mean, read this from Wesley Clark.

The president's polling numbers sank again Thursday night to a new low - now forty-one percent approve of his work.

What else as August bled into September?

Note this in the New York Times:
The director of the Food and Drug Administration's office of women's health resigned yesterday to protest the agency's decision last week to further delay approving over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill.

"I feel very strongly that this shouldn't be about abortion politics," the director, Dr. Susan F. Wood, who is an assistant F.D.A. commissioner, said in a telephone interview. "This is a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and thereby prevent abortion. This should be something that we should all agree on."

In an e-mail message to staff members, Dr. Wood wrote that she could no longer serve at the agency "when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled."
The letter?
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I regret to tell you that I am leaving the FDA, and will no longer be serving as the Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the FDA Office of Women's Health. The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health. I have spent the last 15 years working to ensure that science informs good health policy decisions. I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective today.

I will greatly miss working with such an outstanding group of scientists, clinicians and support staff. FDA's staff is of the highest caliber and it has been a privilege to work with you all. I hope to have future opportunities to work with you in a different capacity." [source]
Enough is enough. And even the American Medical Association says the administration just get its facts, and the science, all wrong, and this on another matter.

Some vacation for the president, no?

And lurking in the background, this:
Number of articles touting the "Bush Boom" on 44
Change in median income 2001-2004: -$673
Change in the number of Americans in poverty: +4.1 million
Change in the number of Americans without health insurance: +4.6 million
The wheels really are coming off.

Posted by Alan at 19:05 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005 19:14 PDT home

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Topic: Photos

Last Word of August from Paris: Unauthorized Water!

Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, says New Orleans and the hurricane is big news there too, and that he has received what he assumes to be the first letter of many, an angry American asking "why the French aren't rushing to help folks in Louisiana like America rushes in to help folks in.…"

Well, they sold us Louisiana and may fear we'll want our money back? Defective goods? Or they severely disapprove of what passes for French from Houma to New Orleans, that Cajun stuff even worse than the French spoken in Quebec? They are so picky about their language. And I drove those long flat miles from Houma to New Orleans a few years back one Sunday morning, listening to the Zydeco music on the radio, and to whatever language that was they were speaking. It wasn't French, even if it started out as French.

Of course the French also might remember that when Parisians were dying from a record-breaking heat wave one summer not too long ago, we were making fun of them with items like this editorial in the Washington Post from Thursday, August 14, 2003 -
To listen to the fuss Europeans are making about their weather, anyone would think that it was actually hot over there. In Paris, shops have experienced a run on electric fans. In Sweden, a male bus driver showed up for work in a skirt after his company informed him that he was not allowed to wear shorts. In Amsterdam, zookeepers are giving iced fruit to their chimpanzees to cool them off.

Okay, so maybe it's a bit warmer than usual. Temperatures across the continent have shot up into the 90s and once or twice have topped 100 degrees in London and Paris. But is this really hot - hot enough to close businesses, hot enough to cancel trains (the tracks might buckle), hot enough to wax nostalgic for the summer rain to which some Europeans, notably residents of the British Isles, are more accustomed?

Last time we checked, the weather here in Washington was in the upper 80s, which is average to low for this time of year. Temperatures in Houston and Dallas in the past couple of days have topped 100, as they usually do in summer. Yet somehow, no one's talking about extraordinary measures being taken by Texans or Washingtonians. On the contrary, President Bush, who qualifies as both, by some measures, is currently mocking the press corps by pretending to enjoy jogging in the Texas heat. Not all Europeans may want to go this far - but maybe they will now at least stop turning up their noses at those American summer inventions they've long loved to mock: The office window that doesn't open, the air conditioner that produces sub-arctic temperatures and the tall glass of water, served in a restaurant, filled to the brim with ice.
When the sick and elderly are dying, that was pretty nasty. But they are, after all, the French.

And now? As you see in the press, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent messages of sympathy to President Bush. Ric says aid will follow. Will Bush refuse it because they thought our get-Saddam-before-he-kills-us-all war was a really stupid idea? Who knows?

But as August closes, note this from Ric:
When it's hot in town and there's no nearby beach - Paris-Plage closed too soon! - clever Parisians simply ignore signs (made of marble) saying they will get blown to smithereens by the 'cannons' and jump right in. Unauthorized water! Not suitable for swimming. Keep out. Foutez nous le paix! Bliss at 32 degrees - and more to come.

Ultra rare. September tomorrow.
The sign (made of marble) saying you will get blown to smithereens by the 'cannons' if you...

Civil Disobedience:

Posted by Alan at 17:28 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:36 PDT home

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