A good thing. Middle East strife makes you want to run down the highway between the cars yelling “Don’t fall asleep!!!” – even as the pod people do their work in back rooms everywhere.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR KATRINA……
Put that little pink candle on that notoriously “chocolate” cake, and blow it out with a category 3 (not 5) exhale—it’s one year since Hurricane Katrina whacked and soaked New Orleans.
Wait – I tell a lie, as the Brits say—it’s one year since the wind and waves. But it’s one year less a couple of days since the water actually entered the city. [Remember the revealing photo essay by a young Nicaraguan resident named Alvaro R. Morales Villa? here It showed that the areas which eventually flooded were in fact wet, but navigable by cars and pedestrians, for 48 hours after the storm hit.]
At Jewish World Review Rich Lowry channels Eliot glumly while assessing the wet muck in the corners of the Bush second term, for which New Orleans is the municipal metaphor. Read it and weep.
Then New Orleans native and pillar of southern Catholic broadcasting, Raymond Arroyo of EWTN, chimes in with an equally dismal assessment of the situation on the all-too-spongy ground.
Important Katrina factoid: there were 350,000 cars abandoned in New Orleans and ruined by the flood. That means 350,000 people had transportation out of town, for themselves and family or friends, and they CHOSE NOT TO TAKE IT. Nobody abandoned them—they just abandoned any semblance of human common sense.
Damn that George Bush!—how did he get to them and convince them to do that?
And damn that American Military-Industrial complex that made it possible for the United States Coast Guard to rescue tens of thousands of people, one and two at a time, starting on Day One of the storm. (check out Jordan’s TOTALLY AWESOME COAST GUARD KATRINA VIDEO HERE-- and more info here)
And who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Coast Guard, the only government agency that did everything right on August 29, 2005 (despite its unfortunate placement as part of the hapless Department o’ Homeland Security)?: George W. Bush. Damn that bastard.
Car footnote: since New Orleans mayor Ray “Schoolbus” Nagin forgot to mandate that all the car owners evacuate the city before it was too late, he could at least have put some cash in the city’s coffers by selling the wrecked cars to “the largest auto crusher east of the Rockies”, K&L Auto Crushers of Tyler, Texas, which “offered to pay the City of New Orleans $100.00 per vehicle, 'as is, where is'… They agreed to bring in 5 to 10 portable crushers, work 6 days per week and complete the job in 15 weeks.”
But Ray said NO--“Mother PLEASE! I’d rather do it MYSELF!!!” (Honk if you’re old enough to remember that commercial.) So New Orleans lost both the chance to get the car debris cleared away quickly by a private company, and the millions of dollars in revenue that company would have paid for the scrap. The city took on the expense itself, a project which is expected to cost New Orleans $23,000,000. (Full story at Snopes.com)
In April of 2006 Nagin was re-elected Mayor, winning a run-off election with 52% of 114,000 votes. Apparently waste, incompetence, and criminal negligence don’t count for much with New Orleans voters when they’re spending other Americans’ money.
It’s too bad that the federal government’s response to Katrina continues to be less than stellar, because that’s a legitimate news story-- one that gives the media a chance to neglect the bigger story of Louisianna politicians’ heinous stupidity and corruption, not to mention the "Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not" story of how many Americans are prepared to swallow the most idiotic and hateful conspiracy theories about the causes of the disaster-- including niche film director Spike Lee's manifestly dishonest HBO "documentary"-- Free Republic's money quote regarding Lee's pompously titled When the Levees Broke: a Requiem in Four Acts:
Perhaps most sad is that in four hours Lee has nothing positive to say about America and Americans. No mention is made of the $700 million from private citizens and churches that were committed in the first few days of the tragedy. No mention is made of the thousands of homes across the nation that welcomed evacuees. No mention is made of the tens of thousands who have successfully rebuilt their lives.For a coupla government-handout bucks they could buy a magazine, or hit an internet café, and read the truth, as exhaustively reported by Popular Mechanics here. It just saves SO much time and B.S.
Spike Lee clearly has little affection for the country that gives him free expression and has made him wealthy. He has produced a self-indulgent, deceitful and exploitive film about a tragedy. His message will give poor blacks more reasons to feel powerless, to feel lost, to feel that others bear responsibility for their lives, to hate, and to stay poor.
Amazing Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not footnote:
Rumor has it that Hurricane Katrina also hit other parts of Louisianna, as well as Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida-- and that there may actually have been some damage done there. Wow! Talk about coincidence! Do I smell a story here?
PENNSYLVANIA POLITICS: DUMP MURTHA DEPT.
Pennsylvania Congressman, champion backroom pork-bareller, slanderer and armament-scammer of the U.S. military, honorary nancy-boy to leftist hate-screeching chickwaffe Code Pink, and Abscam unindicted co-conspirator John Murtha [spit*spit] will be running this fall against not only his own resumé of shame but also against hot-looking County Comissioner Diana Irey. She had this to say about her conversations with wounded Iraq War veterans at Washington’s Walter Reed Hospital (where Murtha’s Code Pink girlfriends have harassed vets’ families with mock coffins and attack signs from the street outside):
…the stories go on and on, about how encouraging the troops were to me in my effort. One of them – he was a speaking to a number of soldiers around him, when I was thanking him – “Ma’am, you don’t need to thank us. You just go beat him for us.” That is a motivation that will be on my mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until I defeat Mr. Murtha on election day.The Congressman claims to have a frightening acquaintance with Karl Rove’s private anatomy, having accused him of “sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big fat backside” while sending troops to Iraq, or some such non-sensequitur. (Excellent round-up of Murtha's mental ganglions here.) Last time I checked, Rove’s portfolio didn’t include troop deployment decisions. Whatever.
In a related intelligence failure, aerial reconnaissance photos have only turned up this clearly inadequate data on the size of Murtha’s own backside-- although both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense have recently, um, weighed in with reliable estimates of their own on the ass question. Or were they talking about some other anatomical feature? But I digress.
There’s lots of significant movement on the Murtha-Irey contest, with several citizens’ organizations being formed to garner support for Irey, much of it from outside the state (from as far away as Iraq, interestingly—from men and women in uniform). The founder of one such organization described her motivation thus:
I'm a parent of a deployed Iraqi Freedom Soldier, and nothing would give me greater joy than to have Murtha's "big fat backside" handed to him in November. That's why I started Murtha Must Go!!(It appears that there is some classified intel about Murtha’s ass dimensions after all, to which the rest of us are not privy. COVER-UP !!!!!!!! )
Sidelight: There’s some dirt going around about Diana Irey’s husband’s business affairs, since he was involved in a contract to do Iraq reconstruction with a guy (referred to as “an arms dealer,” though the larger background on him shows this to be a part-slice of the truth), who was murdered in Iraq when he had the poor taste to point out to the Iraqi Defense Ministry that they were being ripped off.
Murtha has made another one of his “suggestions” (i.e., accusations without evidence) that his opponent is running against him so as to “benefit from the war.” I suppose this would make some sense, provided that taking over Jack Murtha’s office in Congress means that you can also take over his defense contractor connections, including his ability to funnel over $20,000,000 worth of business to defense companies represented by his lobbyist brother, Kit Murtha. I believe this episode constitutes an oversized old pot calling a perky little kettle black. Re: the murkiness of Murtha, this month’s American Spectator nails it.
That’s not to say that Robert Irey might not have his murky side too—I have no idea. The accusations are less an example of Murtha’s own corruption than of his infernal stupidity—he couldn’t possibly be in a less tenable position when attacking anybody for benefiting from war.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNIMPORTANT
Passed through Dallas this weekend and drove out into the environs, but there were no sightings of fugitive TV stars, thereabouts being where the cast of Fox TV’s PRISON BREAK re-assembled in June to shoot season 2. Lucky Wentworth Miller, as Michael Scofield, gets to wear civilian clothes, most of the time covering up the areas where we expect to see the famous all-over tattoo of the Fox River Penitentiary blueprint— thereby sparing himself the five-hour body-paint job necessary when he has to wear a t-shirt.
Everybody on the show acts like this tattoo is some kind of wonder of the world, which I suppose it once would have been, even among inmates. Those of us of baby-boom age remember being brought up to see tattoos as a mark of the ignorant underclass and perhaps criminal element of society—certainly people with short attention-spans and too much time on their hands, not to mention a kind of childish narcissism, shallowness, and self-dissatisfaction. (The prevalence of tattoos among the military was considered to fall pretty much under the “too much time on their hands” category, as well as being visible signs of their world travels and the easy access in distant foreign lands to what was thrillingly taboo back home.)
Somewhere along the way tattoos, like most other fashion trends born on society’s margins (like the white lipstick my father identified with prostitutes which was mass-marketed by Yardley to the Carnaby Street crowd), got mainstreamed.
David Brooks at the New York Times, [subscribers only] takes a good crack at this phenomenon, though with an equanimity I can’t quite share:
Today, fashion trends may originate on Death Row, but it takes about a week and a half for baggy jeans, tramp styles and tattoos to migrate from Death Row to Wal-Mart.Well, hell, there goes my plan for a barbed wire bracelet... Actually, my instincts have been somewhat the opposite of those Brooks describes. I have consciously declined to get that fashionable second piercing in one ear-lobe that I was hankering for, because I felt like this would be going over to the dark side and risking being identified with the self-loathing sadist freakazoids who pierce themselves all over just to keep the public contemplating the joys of pain.
What you get is a culture of trompe l’oeil degeneracy… A cadre of fashion-forward types thought they were doing something to separate themselves from the vanilla middle classes but are now discovering that the signs etched into their skins are absolutely mainstream. They are… learning there is nothing more conformist than displays of individuality, nothing more risk-free than rebellion, nothing more conservative than youth culture.
But let’s face it—in a world full of tattooed kids, with so many piercings up their ears they look like an old brass-tacked leather sofa, who would notice a second sparkle in my lobe?
Bottom line (complete with lines on your bottom…):
I’ve seen a hundred people in Toronto who make Scofield’s Prison Break tattoo look boring. (One of them was a Catholic seminarian, with Our Lady of Guadalupe and Michael the Archangel, among other things, all over him, in colour. He dropped out in the end—quelle surprise.) If the Scofield tattoo didn’t have Wentworth Miller’s head on top of it, nobody would notice it.