Sunday, September 25, 2005

yay Boston Globe

The Globe's Rick Klein does it again, in a bravely honest Sunday front pager: "Rebuilding plan paving way for conservative goals". The article doesn't expose any new information, I don't think, but it compiles a number of cases of the white house and congress implementing longstanding conservative policy goals in the post-Katrina weeks, using disaster as their cover.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

those wacky senators

Senators snapping shots of eachother with their camera phones???

What wackos.

I thought the senate was supposed to be all formal and old-fashioned.


The plan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

defending Judy to the point of silliness

The NYT editorial page reached a new low in its defense of Judith Miller on Monday, drawing an equivalency between her jailing and the jailing by China of Zhao Yan, also an employee of the Times, presumably as retribution for the Times pre-empting Jiang Zemin's retirement announcement.

The editorial admits that "there are differences, of course." Indeed.

As best we know, Judith Miller was witness to a federal crime (exposing the identiy of a secret agent), committed by someone at the top ranks of government. Zhao Yan is in no such situation.

At least this editorial didn't bother with all the language abound defending the rights of journalists who speak to whistleblowers, as previous ones have. Someone remind me when the last time was that Judith Miller based a story on a whistleblower? Or that Karl Rove was a seret whistleblower in the Bush administration?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

calling UFPJ

OMG, I just called UFPJ to ask a few questions about the busses for next weekend, and guess who answered the phone? Una!

small world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Weekend politics and the fallout

Over the weekend, the weekly news magazines and the top dailies published rather damning accounts of the inside story of the Bush administration's failed response to Katrina. Dan Froomkin's White House Memo from Monday gives a summary of the big stories.

Froomkin also looks at a bigger point: these articles reveal a White House that is incompetent, with Bush himself hardly a decisive leader. But the articles don't just say that Bush was incompetent for this particular disaster -- they present quotes from administration insiders suggesting that this is the norm. Yet usually we don't read about that.

Froomkin: "But for whatever reason, critical observations and insights that for so long have been zealously guarded by mainstream journalists, and only doled out in teaspoons if at all, now seem to be flooding into the public sphere."

He may be jumping a bit to make the assumption that the jouralists are the ones suddenly being more open -- and that it's not just white house staffers suddenly being more open. But presumably he's basing that analysis on his own reporting and knowledge.

Yes, it's reasonable to believe that frusturated staffers are probably being more talkative to the press right now, about Katrina. But it wouldn't make sense that they would suddenly also be criticizing Bush's past performance. At least some of this stuff had to be things that were coming to the press over the past years, yet journalists didn't print them until it suddenly became politically okay to criticize the president.

It will be interesting to see where Tuesday's declaration by Bush that he takes responsibility for the Katrina response will lead. He wouldn't have done it if he didn't have to. They must've thought the situation politically was looking pretty bad. Will this actually help?

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Refugees" or "Evacuees"?

How should we describe those who fled or were forced from their homes in the Gulf? Refugees? Evacuees? Victims?

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn provides an interesting discussion of the definitions of these words and their possible implications. After initially concluding that 'refugees' is best, he changes his mind in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

U.S. News rankings

This is a week or two old, but... U.S. News has released its annual college rankings and on the liberal arts list Wesleyan has dropped to 12th. This was after last year when it went up from 11th to being tied for 9th/10th.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Times-Picayune's "open letter"

The Times-Picayune, Louisiana's largest newspaper, has had quite the week, what with having to evacuate its New Orleans headquarters on Tuesday, but continuing to publish extensive reporting on the web, and by Friday publishing in print, too. On Sunday, they published a damning editorial about the federal response, entitled "An open letter to the President".

Friday, September 02, 2005


Where to begin?

This is now the largest displacement of Americans since the Civil War. The vast majority of homeowners in coastal counties of Mississippi and Alabama do not have insurance covering flood damage.

In New York, there seems to be a great disconnect. Yes, the hurricane is all there is on TV and the front page. The cashiers at Duane Reade ask if you want to give a donation. And Wednesday night was windy.

Yet still it feels so far away. People don't talk about it that much, judging by everything I've seen and experienced in the last few days. Yes, when it affects us, it will matter. Gas prices are going up even further, but even with that, all of us without cars can rest content with Fung Wah or Jet Blue having to pick up the difference, at least for now.

Maybe the disconnect comes from a feeling that if there's nothing we can do, then there's no use in stressing about it. Is there something we can do? I feel more confused than ever about giving money. Isn't it -- or shouldn't it be -- the federal government's responsibility? (and if that meant, theoretically, raising taxes, that's fine).

The TV news was heavy on the feeling of desperation. And with comparisons to the tsunami, a feeling that something like the current situation is just not supposed to happen in a developed country.

But who to blame when it is, after all, a "natural disaster"? There's plenty in the news already (both mainstream and liberal, and even conservative) about FEMA funding having been cut and about failure to fund the levees protecting New Orleans. These are certainly important issues, and there are obviously some people who deserve blame.

In the bigger picture, though, we can't forget the issue of global warming. As Ross Gelbspan wrote in an op-ed in Tuesday's Globe, extreme weather events such as Katrina have become more frequent and more extreme thanks to global warming. We know this. We don't know enough yet to be able to say to what extent climate change is a factor in events like Katrina, but we know it is a factor.

So given this, shouldn't Global Capital be saving it's own ass, and preventing global warming, so that there aren't even more extreme weather events, which, say, destroy factories and raise oil prices? (Or so goes Dave's argument). Maybe yes, maybe no. To what extent is Global Capital actually suffering from an event like the hurricane? That's a hard question.

On a final note, some interesting reviews of the political situation can be found in Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing, from Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mixed Cuisine

Tonight's dinner -- clockwise, from foreground: brown rice, green pepper stuffed with a mixture of rice, cheddar, tomato sauce, and bread crumbs (Artis), pan-roasted chicken in butter and white whine with rosemary and mushrooms (me), and bok choy sauteed in garlic and oil (Artis).