EZSmirkzz Sept 15-23, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Smoking in The Boys Room Again?

Attytood: They have learned nothing

Eschaton

Eschaton

Yeah and what do you do with cash when everything is boarded up, and everyone that works in these businesses is gone?

What a Mess!

I was going to wait awhile before I commented on the evacuation of the Texas coast until the after action analysis could be done by the FEMA and other competent authorities, but having heard Tom Delay and Sheila Jackson Lee pontificate on the wonders of the effort I just have to speak out.

The evacuation was not well planned out, unless the notion of succes is getting your citizens out of the local county before they are abandoned to the caprices of nature and man.

Millions of people were under mandatory evacuation orders unnecessarily, because of the knee jerk reaction to Katrina and New Orleans. It is one thing for the common citizens to over react to events, and quite another for the leadership to do so. There was absolutely no long term view taken to the plight of the people when they had cleared the county line. There is no gas, food, or lodging for millions of people, and presumably that is no ones problem at the top.

A lot went right, but to much went wrong. I go between livid and understanding, because the fact of the matter is WE pay these people to take the long view, to plan ahead, to consider the contingencies of moving a million people out of one urban area. You can’t just send them all to Austin.

This is a failure, not on the scale of New Orleans, which was an under reaction, while this appears to be an over reaction. You cannot stampede the people and expect to find anything else but people and dust.

I really am trying to empathize with the county leaders, but there are counties a hundred miles from any wind without food, gas or lodging, because everyone that does these jobs is sitting on the parking lots formally known as the Interstate Highway system.

WHY OH WHY CAN’T WE HAVE A BETTER GOVERNMENT?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita Rita Rita

Well another day another holler, and it looks like a lot of shooting like hell and hollering is starting along the coast of Texas.

It is kind of amazing when you look at the logistics of moving six or seven million people off the coast into a basically rural interior. There are already reports of hotels and motels booked solid as far west as Kerrvile, which is more than a tank of gas away from the coast. All these people will be basically rendered into hunter gathering types, Hunting for gas, food, and lodging which just doesn’t exist in the quantities that are needed.

The local weather folks are doing a pretty good job of laying out the storm surge flooding areas, although for some reason they keep the graphics locked into Houston/Victoria and surrounding counties, knowing I would think, that the viewing area is larger than that. Maybe they can adjust that. Matagorda County is the predicted landfall county, yet the graphics from Houston end at Fort Bend, and the graphics from Victoria end at Jackson County, so the strike zone is basically not coming into play. Anyway the storm surge is expected to be anywhere from ten to eighteen feet, which would put all the coast under water.

You can empathize with New Orleans and the southern parishes a lot more when you contemplate the amount of destruction and displacement that is going to occur. As I have noted the rural areas are already getting short shrifted in the deal, which is profit driven, and will get it in the aftermath as well.

It does help highlight one of the major reasons that rural people dislike the cities so much however, as the tyranny of the majority comes into stark relief in these situations. Cities just suck up so many resources that it becomes a self sustaining flow away from the rural counties. There isn’t very much impact until the flow of people leaves the city in a disaster and heads out into the rural hinterlands where there is rarely enough for the indigenous population to begin with. There is a lot more willingness to help other individuals in the country which is not overwhelmed by the numbers pouring back out into the boonies, however. City folk may have lost their souls, but the rural folks haven’t lost it completely, although the disease that is urbanization is also present in many of the people . There is a lot to be said for Jefferson’s agrarian society in times like these.

It us easier now to resent the people around you now as well. Kids and their frigging pets. Usually the dogs and cats are just a given pain in the rear, you know the saw, yeah yeah, I’ll feed them and clean up after them yada yada, which finally winds up being the parents obligations as the kids are off to do this or that. Now the storm approaches and what do you do with the animals? Ninety percent of your options are cut off, and of course killing the creatures for convenience is out of the question, so what, you live in a state park with the dogs and cats while the kids and wife head for a safe, pet free haven? Sheesh. One thing that helps is having a sense of humor, otherwise we would become Darwinian monkeys. I doubt cousin Bilaboa laughs in the best of times.

Well it’s back to the salt mine. still some things to lock down and windows to board up, for what it’s worth. If everything goes under water it’s a moot point, but hope burns eternal in the hearts of man.

PM UpDate

Well the local weather guys have really taken things up a notch. I’m impressed. The storm is huge. Apology extended to Dr. Steve Lyons and Greg Forbes for the earlier snafu.

FWIW it appears that Jim Cantori is in Seadrift, hmm. I was only kidding about the Operation Yeller Elephant stuff there. I haven’t got time for that sort of stuff right now.

Thanks to family and friends for all the offers of a place to crash. We’ll be leaving the Coast tomorrow morning after the last two windows are boarded up. Hopefully the parking lots will be cleared and the Highways will reappear. Houston is a traffic Jam, so we ain’t going that way for sure.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rita the Pita

So far everyone seems to be taking the storm in stride, if you can call slightly deranged as in stride.

Gas lines are still forming, but depending on who you buy gas from, so that one station will have three cars waiting to get under the apron at one place, and across the street there isn’t anyone pumping gas, which is strictly customer preferences showing, as the price on all three grades is the same at both places, in our competitive capitalistic society, that is. Heh. This morning it was reversed, so maybe beer is cheaper at the other one, and it’s the invisible buzz at work.

Traffic was lighter at school pickup, but there was a lot more selfish driving and cutting in and out for advantage. It is a strange situation in any respect as the pickup zone is a two way street except during the school hours when it becomes one way, which is accessed from a four lane state highway. Today both lanes clogged up with pickups for one school effectively cutting off pickup for the school just down the road while both lanes were used by the first school parents in a display of darwinianism.

This is all really a little unusual since there has been no evacuation order issued yet, since no one really knows where the storm is going to hit. Anxiety is already at work.

Interestingly at lunch the local big three TV station weather people were a lot more emphatic in their warnings of dire consequences than the Weather Channel’s Dr. Steve Forbes, who has the benefit of not being responsible to the local population if he is wrong, even though his sister is in Corpus Christi. We really won’t know a lot about the landfall location until tomorrow. So far the Matagorda Bay is still the bullseye, which is all you can get from the weather peps, even though the bay is like sixty miles across. Not big enough that you feel save no matter where it hits, but there is a lot of latitude in saying it is going to hit the bay.

Hurricanes are weird disasters because you have time to anticipate everything that will go wrong and contemplate losing everything you can’t load up into the car. It’s almost like moving, except you pack stuff up for the stacking on high places in the house, and really narrow down what you can’t live without. Back in the old days I could have loaded up my tools, the weed, and the dog and been gone in a heart beat. Now it is load up the tools the important papers, pictures, computers, kids, dogs, cats, books, fish, etc. etc. No wonder young people are so resilient, they don’t bog themselves down with all these other things. Wheezers spend a lot of time loading cars and trucks and then boarding up the house, while the kids are in school discussing the evacuation.

It is to be noted that the monthly large trash pick up that a lot of towns have bought into is kinda useless if it occurs two weeks before the storm. So far I’ve seen two couches and a refrigerator waiting to be picked up by truck or wind, whichever comes first. I wonder how well plywood hold up to refrigerators flying at 100+ mile an hour.

So far I’ve seen two patrol cars this month, both of them this morning, so I guess they are riding around looking to see if anyone else in town watches TV and has heard of the storm. Police OODA I guess. Anyway I should have all the yard stuff tied down by tomorrow at lunch and depending on the landfall predictions start boarding up the windows.

Since the wife works in the ER at the Hospital I suppose we will have to see what they have in mind to do for the storm as well, since it is located in the cat 3 evacuation area. This always puts us in a bind, since the patients come first, and being first responders they are the last out first back in. Oh well I guess the chain saw can clear roads of trees going out just as well as coming back in. No wonder old peps quit the herb, there is too much to remember to do anyway.

Having been bombarded with a dozen questions from the kid about the evacuation plans, all is well as his head is in the refrigerator, and normalacy is just a meal away.

Perhaps finally, it is a tough time to be a Christian since you really can’t pray that the storm go trash out the neighbors town and county and still hold to any of the teachings of Christ so ones options are limited there. Other than that, one more thing going on and things would be just about right. If you happen to see an operation yellow elephant sign on the Weather Channel with Jim Santori or whoever it ain’t me, it is my evil twin skippy.

Tropical storm could boost local gas prices

This is the Headline of The Victoria Advocate, while the Houston Chronicle is carrying this; Emergency centers go on high alert as Rita approaches.

I thought since I am living in the current bullseye of expected landfall of Rita it would be worth blogging up a pre blow by blow insight into how people are reacting to the approaching storm, until we finally make a decision to split ourselves.

I am sort of anticipating the darwinian monkee response of the local population which is mostly Southern Baptist and Catholic, being somewhat pessimistic of the accurate knowledge of the truth having sunk into peoples heads, and hearts. I also expect I will see great acts of kindness from some people that one would never have expected it from as well.

One of the advantages of hanging out in small, and I mean small, towns is you get to know just about everybody, so that you know who is crazy, borderline crazy, wierd, on drugs, fooling around on their mates, etc. etc. It really is a microcosm of any city I think, you just know the people as individuals instead of the broad brush of generalities that TV and the media portray people as. In other words, a random sample of an equal number of people from the city would produce about the same percentage of social and moral behaviors as one experiences in the boondocks. I think the anonymity of city makes people a little bolder, but at the core gut level, I think they are about the same.

Anyway I will update the topic as time goes by.

Interestingly Victoria, which is about thirty miles inland is already running out of plywood and generators as the upper middle class discovers the necessity of these items which they probably will never use except to keep their computer and fridges running. Moms and pops are also sold out already, so apparently Katrina has made the water bugs nervous. I am amazed at how often people buy plywood for storms, and when the next storm blow in they buy more plywood having used the previous plywood for other things. Hopefully no one freaks out to bad.

We have a new mandatory evacuation law in Texas this year so it will be interesting to see how that all works out, since these are pretty hard headed folks that have lived on the coast for years and years. After Katrina I doubt there is a lot of faith in the government and Governor in Austin to actually do anything but screw up a bad situation and make it worse. We’ll see.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Coming of the King

Psa 45 To the Chief Musician, Concerning the Lilies. For the sons of Korah. A Poem; a Song of the Beloved.

My heart is overflowing with a good matter. I am speaking of my works to the King; my tongue is the pen of a rapid writer. You are the fairest of the sons of man; grace has poured into Your lips; on this account God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, Mighty One; with Your glory and Your majesty. And ride prosperously in Your majesty, on the matter of truth and meekness and right, and Your right hand shall teach You fearful things.

Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; peoples fall under You. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; on account of this God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your fellows.

All Your garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of ivory palaces; by strings of a harp they make You glad. King’s daughters are among Your precious ones; the queen stands at Your right hand in gold of Ophir.

Listen, O daughter, and look, and incline your ear, and forget your people and your father’s house. And the King will desire your beauty, for He is your Lord, and you shall bow down before Him. And the daughter of Tyre will stroke Your face with a gift, the rich among the peoples.

The king’s daughter is all glorious within, her clothing braided gold. She shall be led to the King in embroidered work; her companions, the virgins, shall be brought to You after her. They shall be led with gladness and rejoicing; they shall go in to the King’s palace.

Your sons shall be in the place of your fathers; You will make them for rulers in all the earth. I will make remembered Your name in every generation and generation; on this account people shall thank You forever and ever.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Why We Can’t Have a Decent Press

Read it and weep.

By September 12, even the White House admitted that FEMA had been its own disaster area by pushing out its Arabian-horseman-turned-jackass head, Michael Brown. (Bush finally admitted on Tuesday that the buck was going to stop with him whether he liked it or not. “To the extent the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility,” he said.) That same day, CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, announced the hiring of DeLay’s chief of staff as a top Washington lobbyist. This news, and its timing, prompted Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy to tell the L.A. Weekly: “Time Warner aligning itself with the right-wing DeLay machine should send shudders [down] CNN and HBO. Clearly, TW wants DeLay insurance so it won’t have to face cable-ownership safeguards, à la carte rules and broadband non-discrimination policies.”

via Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

US Constitution, the Criminal Subversion, and Why the American Government is Illegitimate

Four Amendments & a Funeral
A month inside the house of horrors that is Congress
By MATT TAIBBI
=====================
Diebold

GEMS Central Tabulator 1.17.7, 1.18

A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account, which could a local or remote authenticated malicious user modify votes.

No workaround or patch available at time of publishing.

We are not aware of any exploits for this vulnerability.

GEMS Central Tabulator Vote Database Vote Modification

BlackBoxVoting.org, August 31, 2004
=====================

EXCLUSIVE! * A DIEBOLD INSIDER SPEAKS!
DIEB-THROAT : ‘Diebold System One of Greatest Threats Democracy Has Ever Known’
Identifies U.S. Homeland Security ‘Cyber Alert’ Prior to ’04 Election Warning Votes Can be ‘Modified Remotely’ via ‘Undocumented Backdoor’ in Central Tabulator Software!

In exclusive stunning admissions to The BRAD BLOG some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a “Diebold Insider” is now finally speaking out for the first time about the…

In exclusive stunning admissions to The BRAD BLOG some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a “Diebold Insider” is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc’s electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company’s “upper management” — as well as “top government officials” — were keenly aware of the “undocumented backdoor” in Diebold’s main “GEM Central Tabulator” software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.

Pointing to a little-noticed “Cyber Security Alert” issued by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the source inside Diebold — who “for the time being” is requesting anonymity due to a continuing sensitive relationship with the company — is charging that Diebold’s technicians, including at least one of its lead programmers, knew about the security flaw and that the company instructed them to keep quiet about it.

“Diebold threatened violators with immediate dismissal,” the insider, who we’ll call DIEB-THROAT, explained recently to The BRAD BLOG via email. “In 2005, after one newly hired member of Diebold’s technical staff pointed out the security flaw, he was criticized and isolated.”

In phone interviews, DIEB-THROAT confirmed that the matters were well known within the company, but that a “culture of fear” had been developed to assure that employees, including technicians, vendors and programmers kept those issues to themselves.

via bloggingoutloud

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sabbath Nation

I have heard your wisdom sprawled like whores legs
across the ears of common sense covering every topic
with the moaning of ignorant bliss, uncaring but for its’ own
satisfaction in drinking its’ own saliva, slaking endless thirsts
abandoned in arroyos until a flash flood awakens sweeping sand
into torrents of rushing madness in a hurry to nowhere.

I have seen you as water and mud slanting across death
nonchalant without smell or feeling, despairing drama
does not find you close at hand, but from afar you have seen it all
without looking,becoming the vision, seared into the rump brand
you mark your passing without notice of the infliction reflecting
from your own eyes in the chalky streams of the mind.

Speak softly of things well unknown, the discovery comes too late,
we surmount a distant mountain, a closer view of empty valleys
where we no longer go lest it should change us into what we are
not, human beings. Do not be reminded of what you could be
what you once were you will no longer be because you were never
there anyway except in the glare of your living room TV.

Government by Star Chamber

The English speaking world has not seen such power since the 16th and 17th centuries when the Court of Star Chamber became a political weapon used against the king’s opponents and to circumvent Parliament. The Star Chamber dispensed with juries, permitted hearsay evidence, and became so reviled that “Star Chamber” became a byword for injustice. The Long Parliament abolished the Star Chamber in 1641. In obedience to the Bush regime, the US Congress resurrected it with the Patriot Act. Can anything be more Orwellian than identifying patriotism with the abolition of habeas corpus?

As Professor Claes Ryn made clear in his book, America the Virtuous, the neoconservatives are neoJacobins. There is nothing conservative about them. They are committed to the use of coercion to impose their agenda. Their attitude is merciless toward anyone in their way, whether fellow citizen or foreigner. “You are with us or against us.” For those on the receiving end, the Nazi and Jacobin mentalities come to the same thing.

Daily Nightly: A trick of the light? –

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

Dog and Pony show again. sheesh.

via TPM which if you haven’t bookmarked by now, you should.

Katrina: The Politics of Incompetence and Decline

I. Wallerstein, 169,

via Tracerfire. Worth the time to read it. Thanks James.

Greater Federal Authority and a Broader Role for the Armed Forces

So to learn the lesson and get back on track, to run the recovery, President Bush picks Karl Rove.

That’s great.

Do we really all need the paint by numbers version of this picture.

Then there’s the president’s great line from the speech: “It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.”

No, it’s not. Actually, every actual fact that’s surfaced in the last two weeks points to just the opposite conclusion. There was no lack of federal authority to handle the situation. There was faulty organization, poor coordination and incompetence.

Show me the instance where the federal government was prevented from doing anything that needed to be done because it lacked the requisite authority.

This is like what we were talking about a few days ago. This is how repressive governments operate — mixing inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

You don’t repair disorganized or incompetent government by granting it more power. You fix it by making it more organized and more competent. If conservatism can’t grasp that point, what is it good for?

I hate to use so much of Josh’s post, but I think he sees the ingredients, all to clearly, of W’s pudding. Henry Lui may be wrong.

The Proof is in The Eating of the Pudding

The Prattle of New Orleans

There’s no point in parsing every point in Shrub’s big speech last night — not when we’ve learned, through bitter experience, that there’s rarely a connection between the real world and the text on his teleprompter.
[…]
In the end, there were only three points about the speech that seemed significant to me — two of them being things Bush said, and one being something he didn’t talk about at all.

The first was Bush’s admission that race is an issue, both in the disaster and the recovery:

As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.

Would I have liked to heard more — such as an acknowledgment that most folks who failed to evacuate stayed behind because they were too poor or too scared to leave, not because they “lacked native judgement”? Yes. Do I think Bush was sincere about confronting poverty with “bold” action? No. Saying that “we” have a duty doesn’t say much. “We” could be anybody or everybody. When Bush says clearly the federal government has an obligation to fight poverty — or at least to make sure that others have the tools to fight it — then I’ll believe him. Maybe.

Epiphany for a president

On Thursday night, the president of the United States, the strongest nation in the world, spoke with the forceful leadership worthy of the awesome power of his office. For the first time in his presidency, George W Bush told the American people and the world that the American spirit of courage, community, equity and unbound optimism is alive and well, and he intends to galvanize that spirit towards a noble national purpose of reconstruction. “I as president am responsible for the problem, and for the solution,” he said.

We’ll see.

We’re on the Highway to Hell

Katrina oil spills may be among worst on record

The oil pollution in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could be among the worst recorded in North America, officials trying to coordinate the clean-up say. The US coastguard, which is responsible for the marine environment, said yesterday more than 6.5 million gallons of crude oil had been spilt in at least seven major incidents. The previous worst spill in US waters was the 11m gallons in Alaskan waters from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

Global warming ‘past the point of no return

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Madison’s and Washington’s Silence:

Madison, like George Washington, was conspicuously silent about the specific details of his religious beliefs. Both men did however profess a belief in a Divine Providence. The question then is what are we to make of the silence of Washington and Madison?

As I have noted before, there is positive evidence that Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin were all deistic-unitarians, that is they followed a “natural” religion that profoundly broke with traditional Christian doctrines like the Trinity, eternal damnation, inerrancy of scripture, miracles and prophesies written in the Bible that seemed to contradict the laws of science and nature, etc.

How historians view the Christian nation concept?? Read it, it’s worth the time.

Katrina, A Final Word

There has been, and will continue to be a lot of press on New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina, very little of it on the corruption of the people as a whole. That is what Katrina exposed too, the corruption that is America, and the American people.

All the hoohaw about being a Christian nation, and a republic of the people, by the people and for the people has been flushed down the toilet, and what’s left of America is the facade, and all the money in DC will not wash away the rot that has eaten out the soul of the nation.

Until the people of the United States decide that they will no longer tolerate the level of corruption that was exposed, not only in that fetid city, not only in the State of Louisiana, not just the Federal government, but in all three divisions, and acknowledge that their city, State and Federal representatives are just as corrupted as the next then nothing will change, and the nation will lurch from one disaster to the next, until the people are as bankrupted as their leadership.

It isn’t political party that defines it anymore either, it is an inherent flaw in the American people, the invisible hand of greed that drives the lives of so many of us, and that is the disease eating away like leprosy on the body politic. The love of money is the root of all evil, and America has had its’ evil exposed. The cure is collapse, and the prognosis is death. Don’t weep for New Orleans, weep for yourselves.

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