Friday, September 30

What he said.

My replies to Tom DeLay's whining about "the politics of personal destruction" really don't go any further than a hoary old maxim about made beds and lying in them, but if you want something more substantial than that, go here to read what Daily Kos's Hunter has to say on the subject. A sampling:

Welcome to the world of the politics of personal destruction, you tubthumping, chin-jutting, Bush humping gits. Welcome to the nasty and partisan world that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a legion of insignificant lowest-rung toadies like yourselves nurtured into fruition daily with eager, grubby hands, and now look upon with dull-faced faux horror.

I know you hate me, and anyone else who dares disturb the thin strands of alternate reality in which George W. Bush is an intellectual giant, Saddam really was responsible for 9/11, the economy is getting better by the minute, and we capture the most very important members of al Qaeda on a weekly basis.

But here's some advice. You'd better start hating me more. This is the world you forged and, unfortunately for you, I'm beginning to take a fancy for it. Welcome to the politics of your own party, finally sprouting from the ground on which you planted the seeds and shat upon them.

Step back from the edge? You poor boy, asleep in the back of the car the whole trip, finally waking up and wondering where you're at.

Swift boats. Aluminum tubes. Niger uranium. "Mushroom clouds". Whitewater.

Vince Fucking Foster.

You can't even see the edge from here. You left it behind a hundred miles back.


A bit over the top? Perhaps. But I gotta say, anyone who now whines for decency on behalf of Tom DeLay after advancing the slander that Bill Clinton called out a hit on Vince Foster deserves, at the very least, to be bitch-slapped and have a cup of hot coffee thrown in their face. And by "coffee," of course, I mean "battery acid."

Welcome to the world you helped create, Tommy. Sucks, don't it?

Thursday, September 29

In defense of, uh, pink locker rooms.

OK, I don't want to come across as someone who's using this blog solely to pump up college football programs and tweak the noses of the academics who for whatever reason oppose or resent them, but when I read this story about how the Iowa Hawkeyes paint their visitors' locker room a nice rosy effeminate shade of pink, my first instinct was to laugh a good hearty "Ooooh, burn!" laugh, rather than get offended; and my second instinct was to roll my eyes over how some people have all of a sudden decided to make a big deal out of it:

Several professors and students joined the call Tuesday for the athletic department to do away with the pink showers, carpeting and lockers, a decades-long Hawkeye football tradition.

Critics say the use of pink demeans women, perpetuates offensive stereotypes about women and homosexuality, and puts the university in the uncomfortable position of tacitly supporting those messages.

"I want the locker room gone," law school professor Jill Gaulding told a university committee studying the athletic department's compliance with NCAA standards, including gender equity.


Not to sound like a male chauvinist ass here, but . . . who the hell died and made you the athletic department's official interior decorator, law school professor Jill Gaulding? Number one, I bet you could interview every single person currently being tried or incarcerated in the state of Iowa for domestic abuse or anti-gay hate crimes and not one of them would point to Iowa's freaking visitors' locker room as the inspiration begind their "offensive stereotypes" about women and/or homosexuals. Number two, I wonder just how many of these crimes Jill Gaulding could've helped prevent or at least call attention to had she not been wasting her time and energy getting all worked up over a pink locker room.

Look, nobody's more in favor of equality for women and homosexuals than I am. But there's equality for women and homosexuals, and then there's . . . a pink locker room. And maybe Iowa is trying to subliminally whisper to their football opponents, "Tee-hee, you guys are a bunch of girls," but . . . so what? If we're going to ban pink locker rooms because they perpetuate stereotypes of women and gays, then we're also going to have to ban shows like "Sex and the City" that portray men alternately as clueless horndogs, weaklings, or clods, and the next time my significant other (which, God willing, I will be lucky enough to one day have) gets pissed off at me for not taking out the trash or something because I'm busy watching the game and rolls her eyes and mutters, "Men," I'm going to get to turn around and say, "Stop stereotyping me!!11!!!1!"

Plus, isn't Jill Gaulding perpetuating a stereotype that's just as damaging -- that all women like pink? I don't think my sister particularly likes pink. My friend Melissa, who played rugby in college (and who is also straight, and hot), doesn't especially like pink either as far as I know. How is Jill Gaulding doing women a service by taking it upon herself to unilaterally declare that the color pink is a cause behind which all women everywhere must rally? If some other law professor somewhere decides that mauve is getting a bum rap, are all women going to have to defend that too?

What I'd really like is for someone at Iowa to say, "Jeez, we were just trying to call attention to breast-cancer research, but thanks for making us feel like jerks about it, asshole." But that might be seen as a little over-the-top, I guess.

Rock, paper, scissors . . . and by scissors I mean special space-age titanium-alloy rock-proof scissors!

Reading this story about some idiot state legislator (OK, yes, an idiot Alabama state legislator, no, no, you're welcome), I was not surprised at all about his idea that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for the wickedness of the people living on the Gulf Coast, because Lord knows he's not the first one to advance that particular theory. But what did catch my eye was his convoluted explanations for how all these innocent and, in some cases, good God-fearin' people got whacked right along with the boozin', gamblin', fornicatin', sinful libertines:

State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, wrote in a weekly column for news outlets: "New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness. It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God."

Erwin, a former conservative talk-radio host and now a media consultant, wrote the column after a tour of hurricane-wrecked Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., and Bayou La Batre on the Alabama coast.

"Warnings year after year by godly evangelists and preachers went unheeded. So why were we surprised when finally the hand of judgment fell?" Erwin wrote. "Sadly, innocents suffered along with the guilty. Sin always brings suffering to good people as well as the bad."

The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was flooded by Katrina. Erwin said the Baptists knew they had put themselves on the front lines ministering in a sinful place that could be targeted.


That's right: The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary got flooded, but that was, uh, just more evidence of their bravery that they'd put themselves on the front line like that! They knew God might smite N.O. with a hurricane, but they stayed anyway to try and convert the dirty heathen hurricane-inciters!

Or this:

He said he didn't think the hard-hit residents of the low-income lower 9th Ward in New Orleans were singled out for especially harsh punishment but were merely in the way, as were the shrimpers in Bayou La Batre.


Erwin's pals in Bayou La Batre and the Ninth Ward must love him now, knowing that he believes in a God to whom they're basically collateral damage in His quest to mete out corporal punishment to the Gulf Coast's blackjack players and slot addicts.

See, this is one of the things that always cracks me up about the loony Christian right. Remember how, as a kid, you'd play rock-paper-scissors with your friends, and there was always at least one smartass who'd break the rules by laying down "nuclear weapon!" that nobody could beat? And when you told him he couldn't do that, on the next go-round he'd put down rock and you'd put down paper, and he'd be all, "Ah, but this is a special burning rock that burns up your paper, so I win"? Guys like Erwin are like that. They always have some convenient explanation for how X is an example of God's wrath toward groups Y and Z, and if it harmed groups A and B in the process, well, that was just because He likes groups A and B and wanted to give them the chance to rise above the carnage and misery to become true Godly heroes. Remember when Hurricane Rita skipped across the Florida Keys, and some right-wing nuts proposed that this was God's punishment for Key West being a place where gay people like to party? It didn't hurt the Keys all that bad, but then it picked up steam as it made its way into the Gulf, and that meant it was headed back to punish New Orleans again and "finish what Katrina started." But then it punched supposedly God-fearin' Texas right in the mouth, and that meant . . . well, that God actually loves east Texas very much, because He allowed most of them to get out before the hurricane hit, or something. (I don't know how that busload of dead senior citizens fits into all this, but ask Sen. Erwin, I'm sure he has an explanation.)

I just think it's really interesting that the nuts on the far right are going the God's-wrath route at all, because look at what's happened: Two really awful hurricanes (plus one semi-awful one if you count Dennis earlier this year) whose most severe damage has been confined almost exclusively to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama ? the reddest of red states, states with more Christian evangelicals than just about any other in the country. Meanwhile, Disneyworld? The place Pat Robertson said was a sitting duck for hurricanes (and all sorts of other natural disasters) because they dared to let gay folks in? Barely a scratch.

I'm just a mere mortal, no better or more moral than anyone else, so I'm not gonna try and get into a real deep interpretation of God's motives here. All I'm saying is that if He really is using hurricanes as his weapon of choice for smiting the wicked, He needs to work on His aim.

Friday, September 23

In defense of football factories.

I was doing my usual devouring of sports Web sites yesterday, trying to get all the dope on this weekend's games and gauging what the experts think my Bulldogs are going to accomplish against those other Bulldogs (from Mississippi State) on Saturday, and I came across something that made me think a little (yeah, my head's still hurting. I need to stop doing that). In his discussion of how coaches Dave Wannstedt (at Pittsburgh) and Bill Callahan (at Nebraska) are really struggling as they try to get their players to adapt to new offensive systems, while Urban Meyer (at Florida) and Charlie Weis (at Notre Dame) don't seem to be having nearly as many problems, Mark Beech said this:

Tell me, why haven't I heard the "not getting the system" excuse at Notre Dame? New coach Charlie Weis made a name for himself in the NFL as an offensive genius, after all. Why haven't I heard it from Florida, where coach Urban Meyer has taught his complex spread option offense to a bunch of kids who weren't even recruited to play it? If you believe Meyer, he isn't even all that happy with the way his team is running the thing -- yet the Gators still beat an excellent Tennessee team Saturday night.

We haven't heard "not getting the system" from either of those schools, for the simple reason that Weis and Meyer haven't just installed a system. They have taught it. [My emphasis -- Ed.] The trouble I see for Pitt and Nebraska is I don't think either program is in the hands of men capable of much more than stewardship. There's little in the head-coaching pedigrees of Wannstedt and Callahan, who both have won championships at the collegiate and professional levels as assistants, to suggest they are the kind of head coaches who make teams better.


I don't think that college football coaches -- or really anyone associated with athletics at the college level, for that matter -- get enough credit for the extent to which teaching plays a role in their job responsibilities. Nor do I think football players get enough credit for what they learn on the field of play. I know I'm probably going to get hammered by the non-football-fan Philistines out there, not to mention plenty of Georgia Tech fans who think this is just my way of trying to excuse away stuff like the Jan Kemp affair, but here goes: Is it possible that playing football is a no-less-legitimate reason for someone to go to college than earning a degree in something else?

While they're on the practice field, in the film room or just going over the playbook in their dorms, football players are working just as hard to soak up knowledge and experience as the students in certain other more academic pursuits. Their coaches are trying to teach them something and (supposedly) mold them into better, more mature people, just like their professors. And no doubt a lot of them are hoping that they'll be able to turn their college success into a career -- just like the kids at journalism school, business school, law school, whatever.

"But all they're doing is focusing on football and ignoring other stuff." Well, I got news for you: Once you decide to major in something, depending on what it is, you may be spending a whole lot of time focusing on that field and not a whole lot on anything else. In my orientation at Georgia, when I took the placement exams for math and English and whatever else, I did well enough on the math test that I was able to forego all of the lower-level math courses. In fact, since I intended to major in a field (journalism) that didn't involve a whole lot of complicated math, I was told I didn't have to take any math courses at all for the entire four years. As for science, all I had to do was sleepwalk my way through a two-semester lab/lecture sequence and that was it. Conversely, I dare say that had I declared pre-med, nobody would've been watching me like a hawk to make sure I boned up on lots of English-literature and poli sci.

Look, I know that a lot of colleges and universities, to varying degrees, love to throw around a lot of highfalutin talk about making young people into well-rounded scholars and exploring the world of blah blah blah. But let's be honest with ourselves: For most people these days, college is first and foremost a way to choose a field you want to go into and position yourself for a productive career in it. If that field can be journalism, theatre, or law, why can't it also be football?

Because the chances of even an above-average college ball player moving on to fame and fortune in the NFL is so small? Well, look, I don't think anyone's graduating from business school immediately expecting to be picked as the senior VP of IBM, either. But I got news for you: A rewarding, high-paying career isn't a sure thing in any field. I know plenty of people who went to J-school and couldn't find decent jobs coming out of college, plenty more who got burned out and decided to move to other fields, and still others who said to hell with a career entirely and became homemakers (or, alternatively, decided to buy a van and follow Phish all over the country). I don't see these people getting hit with all sorts of accusations about how "Thanks to you, my degree means nothing" because of the choices they made.

And as for the accusation that a guy who goes to college just to play football is suffering under a college experience that has no application in the "real world" . . . well, you might also want to start giving that lecture to the philosophy, art, and medieval-poetry majors, too. Unless an in-depth knowledge of Nietzsche's "Übermensch" concept is absolutely vital to pouring lattes at Starbucks.

I went to college to learn how to become a better journalist (and go to lots of parties); some football players go to college to learn how to become better football players (and also go to lots of parties). And all you're doing is splitting some very fine hairs if you try to prove that one endeavor is somehow morally superior to another. Really, a football star and a philosophy student aren't nearly as far apart as they think they are -- it's just that a lot more people want to watch the football player take his exams.

Which reminds me, the Georgia players have a big exam coming up on Nov. 12 in a class called "Defeating the Auburn Tigers: Concepts and Strategies" (AUBN1008 in your course catalog), and I haven't missed it since 1997. It's always a doozy. So anyway, if anyone can get me (and possibly three of my friends) into the lecture hall, holla at a brother and let me know. Thanks.

Friday Random Ten, More Cowbell Edition.

1. Master Cylinder, "Jung at Heart"
2. Harry McClintock, "Big Rock Candy Mountain"
3. Folk Implosion, "Natural One"
4. The Chemical Brothers, "Marvo Ging"
5. The Strokes, "Soma"
6. 3rd Bass, "Ace in the Hole"
7. Röyksopp, "Remind Me"
8. Massive Attack, "Daydreaming"
9. Pearl Jam, "Jeremy"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)"

Now it's your turn in the comments. I got a fever, baby.

Thursday, September 22

Knowing me, I would've been the idiot in 23A watching the screen and going, "Man, those poor bastards are so screwed."


Whoooooaaaa! Next time take the parking brake off, chief! Posted by Picasa

Somewhere Jerry Bruckheimer is slapping his forehead in anguish, wondering why he never thought to make a movie about a crippled airliner that can't land safely so it has to circle the airport for hours and hours, and in the meantime the media starts covering the story and the passengers in the cabin get to watch the news coverage of their own impending doom. Only in Bruckheimer's version, the passengers somehow figure out that it's an act of sabotage, the saboteur is a Muslim terrorist who's riding on that very plane, they try to overpower him, both pilots get shot in the struggle, and the controls have to be taken over by unemployed housepainter and former Gulf War fighter jock Nicolas Cage and [insert up-and-coming hot blonde actress you've never heard of here], who land the plane in a shower of sparks and burning jet fuel. On the 405.

Not to be minimizing the passengers' plight here, because had I been on that plane myself I probably would've been somewhere between panic-attack-havingly and pants-poopingly scared, but while the danger faced by the passengers was certainly present, I don't know it was necessarily lethal. Sure, everyone involved was preparing for the worst-case scenario because that's their job, but probably the worst thing that had a reasonable chance of actually happening was that the front landing gear snaps in half upon hitting the runway, the nose of the plane hits the ground, the plane skids into the grass and you've got one royally messed-up Airbus A320, but everyone still makes it out alive.

Be that as it may, though, I've got to give props to Airbus for building one sturdy-ass airplane. Figure that thing was probably going 120-160 miles an hour when it touched down, and though the front tires were surely shredded into mini-Twizzler-sized pieces, the landing gear stayed rock-solid and locked into position. Kinda makes you wish your car was built like that.

Tuesday, September 20

It's not that they won't give 'till it hurts -- they won't even give 'till it itches a little.

I was appalled to read this story about the response Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) gave to a suggestion that he give up some of the massive Alaska-centered budget pork to help out with the cost of cleaning up and rebuilding the Gulf Coast . . .

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised the charitable pork idea on the Senate floor last week, although he stopped short of endorsing it.

So, how about it, Mr. Chairman?

"They can kiss my ear!" Young boomed when Sam Bishop, Washington correspondent for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, asked him about the many pleas to redirect the bridge money.

"That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Young went on, noting that Louisiana did quite well in his highway bill.

And, the congressman said, he helped the seafood industry donate more than $500,000 for hurricane victims. (That was at the "Seafood Invitational," a charity golf tournament Sept. 9 in Roslyn, Wash., Bishop reported Friday.)

"I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," he said, "and that's it!"


. . . and yet not really surprised: After all, Tom DeLay thinks they have done such a marvelously heroic job of cutting the budget that there's no more to cut, which apparently means we're doomed to $400-billion budget deficits until we can somehow find a way to get a Democrat back in the White House. It is absolutely imperative that the people of Gravina, Alaska (pop. 50), have a $223 million bridge to Ketchikan. Just because we've got a new barren wasteland in southeastern Louisiana is no excuse to ignore the other barren wastelands that need tending to!

So anyway, it looks as though cutting even the silliest, most blatantly overpriced bits of pork out of the budget is more or less an impossibility at this point. So let me ask y'all this: Would it really be a sin for someone to suggest that the most recent Bush tax cut be suspended at least until New Orleans can be set back on its feet again?

I know I'm going to be pilloried as a tax-and-spend liberal for even suggesting this, but as I've said before, tax-and-spend liberal still sounds way better than a don't-tax-but-spend-anyway conservative, which even Bush's most ardent supporters are beginning to admit that he is. We've had our largest city, a global financial center, punched in the mouth by a massive terrorist attack; we're (allegedly) trying to occupy and rebuild not one but two countries overseas; and now we've got an entire region of the U.S. underwater. All of these crises, and not so much as one suggestion, from either the Democrats or the Republicans on Capitol Hill, that the current tax cuts just aren't feasible. When is somebody going to grow some balls and say straight out that we can't continue this way, and that taxes are going to have to go back up sooner or later? When somebody does, are the anti-tax conservatives just going to burn them at the stake?

If any of you libertarians or libertarian-wannabe-but-still-voted-for-Bush people can convince me that nothing's wrong, the red ink is somehow going to be stanched, and my children and grandchildren aren't going to end up paying for the Freddy Krugeresque tax-slashing we've witnessed for the past five years, make your case, give me a good reason to calm down, and I'll sleep at night happy in the knowledge that, fiscally, things aren't actually as bad as they look right now. But I just don't think anyone can do it.

Oh, and by the way: "They can kiss my ear"? Rep. Young, you're not only one greedy son of a bitch, but you're a Price Club economy-sized dork.

There's really no comment I can make that would make this any sweeter, so I guess it's time to sing . . .





Hail . . . to the Red-skins

Hail . . . vic-to-ry
Braves . . . on the war-path
Fight! . . . for old D.C.
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 18

Ummm . . . I'll just stick with a Touareg, thanks.

OK, this new Hummer commercial, the one that was playing all through the NFL games today, the one where the giant mutant lizard and the giant robot meet while they're destroying some city, and they fall in love, and they have a baby, and the baby is a Hummer H3? I get (sort of) the message there, which is that while the Hummer H3 is big and tough like a giant robot, it's also big and tough like a giant mutant lizard. I guess.

And yet, every time I see it, that message is overpowered by a different one I don't think the manufacturers intended, which is "Hummer H3: The car that came out of Godzilla's vagina."

Tell me I'm wrong, people. Tell me I'm wrong!

Friday, September 16

Friday Random Ten, Cool Ranch 'n' Bacon Edition.

1. Patton Oswalt, "Liquor Ads"
2. The Fugees, "The Beast"
3. Looper, "Mondo '77"
4. Public Enemy, "Fight the Power"
5. OutKast, "The Way You Move"
6. The Chemical Brothers, "Hey Boy Hey Girl"
7. Underworld, "Little Speaker"
8. Genesis, "Invisible Touch"
9. Nina Simone, "My Baby Just Cares For Me"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "Break 4 Love" (Friburn & Urik mix)

This brings to mind a conversation I was having with some friends about which songs were playing when we lost our respective virginities. So here's a little additional game for you, readers -- which of the above ten was playing when Yours Truly finally surrendered his innocence? (Here's a hint -- as hard as it may be to fathom, it wasn't the Pet Shop Boys song. I mean, come on, that one didn't come out until I was 23, for Christ's sake.) If you care to hazard a guess in the comments, feel free, and as always, throw your own ten in there if you're so inclined.

Thursday, September 15

An open letter to John Doe Spears-Federline.

Dear baby boy,

On behalf of all humanity, I'm sorry. Really, really sorry.

No child has a say in the parents to whom they're born. It's a crapshoot, really. When the sperm cell that created you was rocketing its little flagellated self into Britney Spears's uterus, presumably marveling at how much stretch-out room he was enjoying on the journey, he didn't stop to think of the fate to which he was dooming an innocent life by penetrating that egg. His job was to make it to the Fallopian tubes, get his fertilization on, and that was it. It's the circle of life, but that doesn't make this any less fair. And for that, I apologize.

If any of us could've changed this, we would have. We may not know you, may never meet you and find out what kind of person you really are, but none of us would have chosen for your father to be someone who skips his other children's birthdays to go dance backup in a music video. None of us would have chosen for your mother to be someone who thinks low-rise jeans, a baby tee, a trucker hat and no bra constitutes acceptable "business casual" attire.

Even the cruelest souls among us would never have chosen to doom you to this fate, Baby John Doe Spears-Federline. And we're going to help you. There's only so much we can do, but we're going to help you.

When your mother drops you off at daycare in three-sizes-too-large jeans, a size-XXXXS wife-beater and a sideways knockoff-Burberry baseball cap, we're going to discreetly straighten your hat and find you a jacket and a belt. (And, most likely, some shoes.) When your dad leaves you with no life lessons other than "If there's grass on the field" and which Vegas concierges will keep quiet when you stumble in at 4 a.m. with a couple hookers, we will do our best to give you the math, science, and English-literature education of which you have been deprived. And when your parents inevitably go through their messy divorce and leave each other for younger (and, as hard as it may be to fathom, trashier) lovers, we will be the ones to sit and listen to you in therapy. As much as it takes, Baby John Doe, because there but for the grace of God go all of us.

It may not take a village, Baby John Doe, but it certainly takes more than two room-temperature-IQ Beverly Hillbillies. So we'll be there for you. When they drop you, we will pick you up. When they leave you with only Red Bull and Hot Pockets, we will give you food. And when you write your tell-all book . . . well, we won't buy it, but we'll at least ghost-write it for you.

It's the least we can do for you, Baby John Doe Spears-Federline. The damage has already been done, but it need not go any further, not if we have anything to say about it. We may not be able to stop them from naming you something like Adonis Lafayette Spears-Federline, but we'll at least try to remember to call you "Donnie."

That is our promise. Godspeed you, sir. And good luck.

Sincerely,

Hurricane Katrina and the marketplace of ideas.

Seems like whenever I'm criticizing the latest cockamamie Bush scheme -- Social Security privatization, say -- and a conservative commenter has found himself backed into a corner and unable to defend it, they typically ask indignantly, "Oh, so what's the Democrats' big plan, then?!?" This is kind of like if you were to go to the doctor complaining of migraine headaches, and after he checks you out he says, "Well, unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to have to amputate your leg." And when you very firmly tell him you don't think that's going to solve the problem, the doctor gets all huffy and says, "Oh, I suppose you have a better plan, Mr. Hotshot?"

But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation that it wrought, the Democrats saw a chance for them to do one of the things that, historically, they've done best: Employ the power of government to respond to a crisis and lessen the suffering for those most adversely affected by it. (See also the New Deal, World War II, the Civil Rights Act, etc.) While FEMA was still Keystone Kopping around New Orleans under the non-leadership of patronage poster child Mike Brown, the Democrats were proposing a comprehensive package of legislation designed to ease the hurricane victims' transition back into normal lives and help lay the groundwork for them to rebuild. That package's marquee bills would ease recently instituted bankruptcy penalties and offer tax refunds for those who lost property and jobs because of the disaster.

So there you have it: an actual plan to use government to make things better. Good show! And what did the Bush administration offer in response?

Well, apparently they want to suspend laws banning educational segregation for homeless children, because apparently all those refugee kids flowing out of Louisiana and Mississippi are going to be a distraction. They also want to suspend laws that set minimum pay wages for construction workers and service providers in the affected areas. What they don't want to do is expand Medicaid for hurricane victims, ease the bankruptcy bill in any way (link via Daily Kos), or have any kind of bipartisan investigation into federal, state, or local response to the disaster. (They are still working their little rear ends off to eliminate the estate tax, so . . . if your wealthy aunt from New Orleans died in the hurricane and left her flooded, torn-apart, rat- and corpse-ridden mansion to you in her will, you may not have to pay any taxes on it. Load off your mind, isn't it?)

So, to recap: Democrats -- easing tax and bankruptcy burdens on hurricane victims; working to find proper schooling and jobs for the displaced; demanding accountability for failures at all levels to prepare for and respond to the crisis. Republicans -- no bankruptcy protection, no changes to schooling restrictions, and pay cuts for those who will be trying to rebuild. (Oh, and the estate tax thing.)

Apparently this is what they mean when they talk about the "marketplace of ideas." So which one are you buying -- and which side are you going to trust to look out for you when the crap hits the fan?

Cross-posted at the ADP Blog.

Monday, September 12

This post not brought to you by the letter C.

Well, I congratulate thee, my fellow Democrats -- we have won. Bush is being held primarily responsible for the hurricane-response fiasco, and Mike Brown has resigned in disgrace. Bush's own people are publicly admitting he's screwed up the Iraq war. His approval ratings are in the pooper. And the best part is, the conservatives know they're toast -- they know they can't defend Bush on any of this crap.

How do I know this? Because with nothing substantive to defend Bush on, or to hit the Democrats with, they've been reduced to complaing about the most ridiculous, asinine, grade-school, embarrassing crap any of us could have ever imagined -- they're saying the proposed design for the Flight 93 memorial looks too much like an Islamic crescent.

No joke. This is all they have left to get their panties in a wad about. And before some offended conservative sniffs that these complaints are just the rantings of a few isolated wingnuts, let the record show that Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Little Green Racists, Blogs for Bush, and Power Line have all leapt willingly on board this high-speed shinkansen bullet train of buffoonery.

Not surprisingly, Pandagon has the best and most succinct response to this stupefying right-wing lameness:

Oh my god...THE "C" IS A CRESCENT! ABOLISH THEM ALL FROM THE LANGUAGE!

From now on, we live in "Amerika", and we eat "sereal", namely "Tsheerios", for breakfast. We drive "kars" and the top-rated show on television is "SeeSI". Also, Bush supporters will now be kalled "fukheads".


Me, I just can't believe that I picked today of all days to grab breakfast on the run and buy a croissant at the Starbucks on 11th. I am outraged and ashamed that I have been unwillingly carrying this tool of radical Islamofascism around in my stomach all day, and I will not rest until it has been purged, one way or another.

Not to make a gross exaggeration or anything, but football is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever.

So we're sitting there at this guy Rob's house in Athens, watching the Georgia-South Carolina game, and with Georgia up 7-0 in the second quarter, the Cocks intercept a tipped D.J. Shockley pass and run it back for a touchdown. There are TVs in two different rooms of the house, Georgia fans watching one, South Carolina fans watching the other, and of course all the USC people rush into our room and start talking smack. And I'm like, "OK, when your offense can put any points on the board, you be sure to let me know." And this other guy is like, "Whatever, dude, what's the score?" Like we were already tied or something. So I look over at the TV, where they're lining up for the extra point, and I'm like, "It's 7-6." All the South Carolina people are like "Yeah, whatever."

And then the USC kicker . . . shanks the extra point.

Oh, the derision that rained down upon them. And now we know two things: 1) I have the power to bend the laws of physics to my own personal whim, and 2) if Georgia needs a botched extra point and a missed 2-point conversion to beat South Carolina, we're probably not as good as everyone's been saying. Still, we beat Spurrier.

Other highlights from the weekend:

· UAB beat Troy 27-7 on the strength of another good day from Darrell Hackney and another unusually good performance from the defense. Now, it's true Troy hasn't had an offense in years, but four interceptions is still nothing to sneeze at.

· Alabama's Tyrone Prothro made one of the most amazing catches I've ever seen in their 30-21 win over Southern Miss, amazing enough to make people forget that Alabama was down 21-10 to USM in the first place. Seriously, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you gotsta watch a clip of the catch here.

· My Washington Redskins beat the Chicago Bears 9-7. Wow, it sounds like it must've been . . . well, the most boring game ever, but a win is a win, and I'm confident we'll get into the end zone next week.

· And most importantly, my fantasy football team, the Sloppy Seconds, posted the highest second-highest Week 1 point total in the Big Ass Football League (pending tonight's action between Atlanta and Philly) thanks to two big fat TD receptions from Keenan McCardell and a 9-of-11, 218-yard, 2-TD performance from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom Josh ragged me incessantly for having taken in the second round of our fantasy draft. Meanwhile, Josh's first-round draft pick, Donovan "Dude, Where's My Receivers" McNabb? Didn't even start him this week. Some terrific roster strategy there, chief.

Ah, the first weekend of both college and NFL football action. It's like Christmas, only with more beer and you don't have to buy stuff for other people. Which makes it actually better than Christmas, in a way.

Corrected to account for Josh's team just barely squeaking past me after the Monday-night results were factored in; he wasn't going to leave me alone until I made the correction. He's got this major need for approval and validation, see -- I think it's got something to do with him not getting enough attention as a kid -- and with his first-round draft pick potentially missing next week due to injury, I felt like this was the least I could do. No, no -- you don't have to thank me.

Their hearts are as big as their . . . well, you know.

It was the Weekend of 1,000 Charity Car Washes -- during the course of my weekend travels, I came across no fewer than five car washes purporting to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The fifth of those I spotted Sunday afternoon while driving down Valley Avenue here in Birmingham: Out in front of Sammy's, probably the B-hizzy's best-known "gentlemen's club," the dancers were washing cars and motorcycles, with the proceeds going to some hurricane-relief fund, of course. I didn't really get a good look at exactly which one, of course, because the girl holding the sign was kind of jumping up and down, and . . . and I . . .

Whoops, sorry about that. Kind of lost my train of thought for a second. Anyway, props to the girls at Sammy's. Kind of made me wish I had 1) fewer time-sensitive obligations Sunday afternoon, and 2) a dirtier car.

Friday, September 9

Friday Random Ten, Ah, Spurrier, We Meet Again, But Now The Advantage Is Mine Edition.

You may not hear a whole lot from me over the next few days because I'm headed out on a tour of medical facilities in rural central Alabama for most of the day today, and then tomorrow it's off to Athens, the greatest city in the history of human civilization (no, not that Athens, dumbass! Athens, Georgia!) to (hopefully) watch the Bulldogs beat up on South Cackalacky. I'm not especially concerned with the exact number of points we score, or how many we hold the Gamecocks to; I just want to 1) win, and 2) see Steve Spurrier cry.

But whatever happens, here's the Friday Random Ten:

1. Asie Payton, "I Love You"
2. Lemon Jelly, "The Staunton Lick"
3. Happy Mondays, "Step On"
4. Passengers, "Your Blue Room"
5. Phil Collins, "Easy Lover"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" (Beatmasters extended mix)
7. Groove Armada, "Serve Chilled"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "You Know Where You Went Wrong"
9. The Romantics, "What I Like About You"
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Police Helicopter"

Now it's your turn, commenters, so have at it . . .

Thursday, September 8

There's never a Keystone Kop around when you need one.

Here's an interesting question from -- wait for it! -- a conservative blogger:

Why must the federal government get involved in the Schiavo case, while abdicating resposibility for those stranded in New Orleans?


Like JohnMcG, I don't buy the idea that the disconnect is because Schiavo was white and (most of) the hurricane victims were black, nor the idea that the government prefers the "mindless" to the "poor," but, well, you've got to admit that today's so-called conservatives have some unbelievably bizarre priorities if they think one incapacitated woman in Florida is worth flexing the muscles of the entire federal government, but when it comes to helping one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas from maybe the country's worst natural disaster since the San Francisco earthquake, they're like, "Yo, that's a state and local responsibility, man." (And allow me to propose that "foul weather federalists" immediately become part of our national political lexicon.)

Look, I'm not going to sit here like some brain-dead DU robot declaring that everything in Louisiana is Bush's fault and the state and local people are 100-percent pure-as-the-driven-snow blameless. I have a lot of questions in particular about what precisely the N.O. mayor was doing in the days and hours leading up to the storm, and when I see that picture of the hundreds of city school buses sitting unused in a parking lot full of stagnant water, it makes my heart break to think of all that could've been done. But let's make one thing very clear here: The primary responsibility to act quickly in preparing and providing relief rests with the federal government, not those at the state or local levels. That's the way it works not because shifty-eyed New Orleans civic officials say so, or because big-government liberals say so, but because Bush's own "National Response Plan" says so. Furthermore, when people like Tom DeLay shrug their shoulders and sniff that the emergency-response plan is supposed to work from the bottom up" -- with state and local authorities bearing primary responsibility, and then being responsible for going to the federal government for help if they don't think they can prepare in time with their own resources -- he is apparently ignoring the fact that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco did ask for that help, days before the hurricane made landfall, by requesting that Bush declare a federal state of emergency in her state. Of course, that hasn't stopped the Bushies from attempting yet another Rovian through-the-rabbit-hole turnabout and saying it was actually Bush who begged -- begged! -- Blanco to ask for federal help, not the other way around -- apparently unaware that even if their fakakta story does check out, it opens up a whole new cornucopia of questions as to why, if Bush was so concerned about the impending catastrophe, FEMA's relief efforts were still so slipshod.

Again, it goes back to what I said in my earlier post: Bush and his people just don't seem all that concerned with the actual work of running a country and making sure that its needs are met. He's spent more time over the last three years taking better care of Iraq than he has America, and (again due to his lack of concern with how things actually get done) he hasn't even been able to get that right.

Look, I don't expect you conservatives to suddenly get a big FDR light bulb over your heads, smack your foreheads and say, "Oh! You're right! I've been wrong all this time, and will now become a Democrat!" But isn't it about time that someone on the right put left-right, red-blue considerations aside just long enough to ask whether Bush is even competent at his job? If Bush isn't even bright enough to get a handle on what "didn't go right," what on earth is he still doing in the most important office in the country?

Kristol explains it all.

I don't know if I'd beat the crap out of Bill Kristol for uttering this truly staggering bit of nonsense, as Pandagon seems to think is a possibility, but at the very least he'd be in for a wedgie he'd never forget, plus an Indian burn or two:

William Kristol, the conservative publisher of The Weekly Standard, said of Mr. Bush: "I do think people think he could have showed stronger leadership." But Mr. Kristol expressed doubt that the hurricane would have much lasting effect on the president's personal and political fortunes, because "people are capable of saying, 'The president kind of screwed this one up, but I still basically agree with him.'"

Mr. Kristol added, "I think the Clinton administration would have done a better job in handling Hurricane Katrina, but I'm also glad Bush is president and not a Democrat."


Shorter (well, not really shorter) Bill Kristol: OK, Bush is kind of incompetent and didn't really do a good job at all with the hurricane and everything, but . . . Democrats still suck! Nyaaahh!

This does beg the question, though -- what does Bill Kristol, diehard conservative who is to the smug shit-eating grin what Miles Davis was to the trumpet, think Bush is good at? He clearly doesn't think Bush did a good job handling the hurricane-relief efforts. He evidently isn't too stoked about how Bush's team is managing the war, either, judging by his belief that Bush "drove us into a ditch" with respect to Iraq. Budget and spending issues? Nope, Kristol hasn't been too keen on how Bush handles those either, as evidenced by the criticisms his Weekly Standard magazine has made of Bush's rampant spending. As far as anyone can tell from the above quote, Kristol's admiration for Bush revolves around one aspect and one aspect only: He's not a Democrat.

What's so bad about Democrats, anyway? Let's compare Kristol's hero Bush to his Democratic predecessor on the three above criteria. On the subject of hurricane relief, Kristol came right out and admitted that Clinton would've done a better job, so there's one W for Clinton right there. Fiscal management, well that one's really simple: Clinton balanced the budget and gave us big-ass surpluses to boot, while Bush acts like he deserves a ticker-tape parade when the '05 budget deficit turns out to be only $420 billion. Score another one for Clinton. As for war-waging, well, Clinton oversaw the liberation of Kosovo without losing a single American soldier, and the former Yugoslavia is now a more-or-less functional democracy where only 3,300 U.S. troops remain; Bush, meanwhile, "drove us into a ditch" in Iraq. Looks like Clinton wins that one, too, for a final score of 3-0.

But in Bill Kristol's world, George W. Bush waxes Clinton's ass in the critical "Is He A Republican?" category, which is worth four points. (He's probably also got a category for "Blowjobs Received From Interns," but Bush has already won and we know Kristol would never try to run up the score like that.)

Look, Clinton had his faults ? nobody is prepared to concede that quicker than I am ? but since I'm conceding that, it's time for the Republicans to concede something else: Dude got stuff done. Balancing the budget? There you go. A hundred thousand new cops on the streets? Bam. Kick-ass economy, successful military intervention in the Balkans, reforming welfare? Check, check, and check. Not all of his ideas were perfect (or perfectly executed), and certainly his private life contains some indiscretions that nobody, Democratic or Republican, is proud of. But when it came to the business of running the country, making policy decisions, making sure that governmental actions worked for the betterment of the American people. Billy boy kicked ass. Make fun of his "I feel your pain" mantra all you want, but the simple fact is he did care about how well the American people did and what government could do to have an impact on that, and it shows in his legacy.

Meanwhile, even a Bush Kool-Aid drinker as august as Bill Kristol admits that Bush "is a strong president . . . but he has never really focused on the importance of good execution." Wha . . . ? That's like saying "Drew Weatherford is an awesome quarterback, he just sucks at passing." Look, every president has grand ideas and ambitions; that's pretty much how you get elected president in the first place. How you execute those ideas, though, is what separates the historical greats from the washouts, and whether he knows it or not, Kristol has just stumbled upon something that we nasty liberals have suspected for some time now: Bush just can't be bothered with the execution.

But he's a Republican, not a Democrat, ergo he is awesome, Q.E.D., period, end of sentence.

I mean, really, that's pretty much what Kristol is saying, isn't it? Am I missing something here?

Wednesday, September 7

Come back, Trev! Treeeev!

I know the conventional wisdom on ESPN's Trev Alberts is that he's the guy everyone's supposed to think doesn't know squat -- it's kind of become his shtick over the last few college football seasons, even -- but I like the guy, which is why I was so disappointed to find he'd been let go by ESPN and will no longer be hanging with Rece Davis and Mark May on "College Football Scoreboard." Sure, lots of people disagreed with him on lots of stuff, but (and this is my homer instinct taking hold here, I admit) he could at least be bothered to step up and give praise to my Bulldogs when they did something noteworthy -- which is more than you can say for May, who can be counted on to criticize, minimize, or blow off anything Georgia does on the field. If Georgia had gone to the Orange Bowl last year, beaten USC by five touchdowns, and capped off the rout with David Greene leaping up into the stands to save the life of an elderly woman choking to death on a hot dog, May would've shaken his head and nitpicked Greene's Heimlich technique.

Well, at least my fellow former C-Towner Rece Davis will be there to keep May's ass in check. And Trev, if you're bored without anything to do on Saturday, come down to Athens and hang out with me and some of my peeps for the South Carolina game. I can't promise you we'll be able to find tickets, but if we end up going to the Georgia Theatre to watch the game on the big screen, beers are on me.

Trev's fate, however, is still preferable to that of former ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten, who was found dead in his house last week. Karsten was the preternaturally blond, suspendered third member of the prime-time broadcasting team that also included Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried, of whom I have many fond memories calling Georgia night games back when I was in school there (the '98 upset of LSU immediately springs to mind), plus some not-so-fond memories when Georgia would cough one up to some team whose ass they should've smeared all over the field, but we won't go into that right now. I was also surprised to find that Karsten was about to go off to jail for tax evasion -- am I the only one who's just now finding out about that? -- but at any rate, he and his suspenders will be missed.

Tuesday, September 6

"Hi, hello, yes, welcome to Texas . . . just please try not to, you know, get your poor-people smell all over everything."

I may not have ever thought George Bush Sr. was a terrific president, but I do think he's a nice guy -- I really admire the work he's done with Clinton on disaster relief for the southeast Asian tsunami and now Hurricane Katrina. He's certainly too nice to be saddled with this disgusting shrew of a wife:

NEW YORK -- Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace" program.

Then she added: "What I?m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."


Yeah, those "underprivileged" people had homes and livelihoods, and now they get to eat free MREs and sleep on the 50-yard-line of the Astrodome. This is working out frickin' great.

And as Atrios points out, there's an additional, subtler outrage to the quote -- ol' Barb thinks it's "sort of scary" that all these people want to stay in Texas. Why? Because they're all poor? Or because they're all raping, pillaging black looters?

Really, it never ceases to amaze me how liberals are the ones saddled with the "elitist" label when conservatives have attitudes like this. First you had the very heads of FEMA and Homeland Security blaming the hurricane victims for not getting the hell out soon enough, as if not having a car or the ability to otherwise get around is just a freakish deformity in modern America, and now you've got Barbara Bush marveling at how, despite having their lives blown apart by an act of God, these hurricane refugees are actually makin' out like bandits. And then you've got these fine Americans (who scrambled out from under a rock overturned by Corrente) whose outright hatred for, to say nothing of complete lack of understanding of, people who live in their own country simply defies belief. (I especially like the guy who says "it seems to be almost exclusively black people who are doing the looting" and "I just feel sorry for any white people left in that city," and then says he may be one of thse "closet racists." Dude, if you're a closet racist, then Richard Simmons is a closet homo. Just saying.)

Contrast these folks to these members of Philadelphia's homeless community, who -- despite being lazy, drunks who are perfectly capable of contributing to society but just refuse to do so, to hear the conservatives tell it -- are reaching into their tattered pockets and giving of what little they have left to help Katrina's victims. Who's really the drag on society here?

Sunday, September 4

Hey, maybe Maurice Clarett can be "He Don't Want Nothing To Do With Me."

This is funny -- maybe not ranch tooth funny, necessarily, but funny just the same, if you're easily amused like me:

One of the most famous nicknames in sports history is undergoing a change. Hate is dead. Carolina Panthers running back Rod "He Hate Me" Smart will announce a new nickname during a promotional appearance at an Alltel store in Pineville today. The former XFL star who gained recognition by having his unique nickname stitched on the back of his Las Vegas Outlaws jersey, will now become "He Love Me."

"I came to Carolina and got my love," said Smart. "I've have earned some great opportunities in my career and become associated with a lot of great people who respect who I am and what I do."

Smart will be presented with a He Love Me jersey, sign autographs and meet customers.


Awwww. I'm not ashamed to say I watched that first XFL game (it's football, for crying out loud, quit judging me) in which Smart debuted his crazy-ass nickname, and it was awesome. I'm sorry to see "He Hate Me" consigned to the history books, or the footnotes of those books, or maybe the footnotes of those footnotes, but I'm glad Smart is feeling the love.

(Link via Thighs Wide Shut.)

Well, it's nice to know they're doing something.

While surfing the Web this lovely a.m. basking in the glow of America's awe at how utterly and completely the Georgia Bulldogs dismantled the #18 team in the country, I came upon this news story:

GOP Lawmakers Call for Invasion of Atlantic Ocean

WASHINGTON -- As the nation tries to recover from the shock and heartbreak of Hurricane Katrina's deadly attack on the Gulf Coast, several Republicans on Capitol Hill are calling for the U.S. to go on the offensive against the powerful storms.

In an interview Saturday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) suggested that he would support an invasion of the Atlantic Ocean, where Katrina started and which Coburn condemned as "a breeding ground for violent storms that hate America."

"Look, it's time we stopped being politically correct and faced the facts," Coburn told a reporter for the Washington Post. "Where did Hurricane Ivan come from last year? The Atlantic Ocean. Where did Hurricane Dennis come from? The Atlantic Ocean. Where did Katrina come from? The Atlantic Ocean. It's high time we took some sort of military action against the Atlantic so that we don't have to face this kind of disaster again."

Later, Coburn backtracked on his comment, saying, "I never called for military action against the Atlantic Ocean. My comments were misinterpreted."

Standing firm in his support for an Atlantic invasion, however, was Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who said, "We need to start fighting hurricanes over there so that we don't have to fight them over here."

DeLay also expressed optimism that a liberated, hurricane-free Atlantic would "serve as a beacon of calmness and clear weather to other oceans" such as the Pacific and Indian, who would then take the initiatives to force out their own deadly storms.

The growing calls for military action face opposition, however, from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are concerned that an Atlantic invasion would draw vital resources from the U.S. presence in Iraq, though sources within the Bush administration said that the money to pay for the invasion could be diverted out of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to dispel fears that such an invasion could be a long and deadly struggle for American sailors.

"The marine wildlife and peace-loving weather systems of the Atlantic have suffered from these hurricanes just as much as we have," Cheney said. "We're confident that they will see our troops not as occupiers but as liberators and welcome them with open arms, or fins, or flippers, or whatever. With their support we figure we can put down the hurricanes and get our troops out of there in two, three weeks tops."


And this one:

Bush to Propose Sweeping Anti-Hurricane Legislation

WASHINGTON -- Stung by vocal criticisms of a slow and inadequate federal response to Hurricane Katrina last week, the Bush administration will introduce one of the biggest packages of anti-hurricane legislation in the nation's history, sources revealed Saturday.

Collectively dubbed the USA PATSIES Act, for Providing Appropriate Tools to Stop the Incursion of Extreme Storms, the new laws will reinforce the U.S. border patrol and customs agencies to keep hurricanes out of the country, and step up the federal government's ability to acquire information on hurricanes and keep track of their movements.

"Our thinking is that the best offense is a good defense," said a high-ranking administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We are confident that through these measures, we will be able to keep hurricanes like Katrina from entering our country and terrorizing our citizens."

The measures, though, are almost certain to face an uphill battle in Congress, where questions over the feasibility and constitutionality of the USA PATSIES Act were raised almost as soon as news of the proposal surfaced.

Coming in for particular scrutiny were provisions that would allow the federal government to bypass search warrants and other due-process laws in placing wiretaps on hurricanes' phone calls. The act would also give federal agents the ability to monitor purchases, financial transactions, and even library checkouts by hurricanes inside the United States.

The most vocal opposition to the act seems to be building in Miami and Tulsa, Okla., where students at the cities' respective universities are expressing fear that they could be lumped in with the targeted storms.

"We already have a bad enough reputation for all the stuff we did while Dennis Erickson was the coach in the 1980s," said Miami Hurricanes defensive end Javon Nanton. "How am I going to be able to show my face in public when everyone knows my phone is being tapped and my library books are being monitored?"

Spokesmen for the American Hurricane Anti-Defamation League stated their intention to issue a statement Monday but would not otherwise comment.

Elected officials and civic leaders from the Gulf Coast region decried the proposals, calling them "a pathetic attempt to divert attention from the deplorable inaction and mismanagement on the part of the government's relief efforts," but administration sources said these criticisms were misguided.

"Now is not the time to be looking into the past and learning from mistakes," one said. "It is time to be looking forward and figuring out new ways to keep hurricanes away from America and stop them from threatening our way of life."

Saturday, September 3

And the best part is, it's not the least bit colored by personal bias or anything like that.

Sorry for the paucity of blog-posting these days -- mere days after my computer ceased functioning entirely last week, it sat down and decided, "Hmmm, I should take it easy this time, how 'bout I just punt the Internet connection." And poof! -- no Web connection, no blogging, no e-mail, no sweet sweet Internet porn ability to communicate and share ideas with you, my wonderful readers.

Clearly, though, it is back now. Though I'm sure as shootin' not going to be doing much blogging today, 'cause football, bitches!

That doesn't mean I'm going to leave you completely high and dry, though. If you want to read something truly awesome -- more awesome than anything that's ever been posted on this raggedy-ass blog, anyway -- mosey on over to my homey DAve's blog and check out his exhaustively researched, totally objective prediction of how the Georgia Bulldogs' season is going to play out, right down to who's going to be the MVP of each game. (And if you think I'm not going to start referring to Georgia tight end Leonard Pope as Leonard Pope Maleficent Benedictus the VIIth from now on, then I guess you don't know me all that well.)

Well, gotta go. UAB just kicked off against Tennessee. It's like Christmas morning in September.

Thursday, September 1

Fear and loathing -- and hope -- in the new American Third World.

Today I was treated to a little bit of the worst of what America has to offer, and quite a bit of the best.

The worst started early. While desperate people dodged rapists and watched people die right in front of their eyes, wanting only some food or water to give to their families, people from the everyday hatemongers at FreeRepublic all the way up to the directors of freaking FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security blamed them for their own misery. Some said it was the victims' own fault that they didn't get out of New Orleans in time, while others just said they should get up and start walking -- the 2005 version of "let them eat cake" -- if they didn't like being surrounded by corpses, waste-filled standing water, and wandering bands of rapists. Just get up and go! How hard could it be? Isn't Baton Rouge only, like, 60 miles away? (Then, of course, there's this crap which I won't even dignify with a response.)

How can people be this elitist, this callous? How can anyone look at the agony and horror being suffered by the thousands of people at the convention center in downtown New Orleans, shrug their shoulders and say these people deserved their fate for the simple sin of being homebound or not owning a car? There are plenty of lazy people in this world, I know, plenty of people -- on both sides of the political divide -- who just expect the good things in life to be dropped into their laps, but we're not talking about fancy cars or houses here. We're talking about food. Clean water. Medicine. Apparently some people in this country believe that anyone who's too old to get around, anyone who depends on public transportation, anyone who doesn't have the money to buy and maintain a car of their own, is just going to have to go without these thins and get used to being stuck in the wasteland that is now New Orleans.

And I know I'm going to be accused of politicizing the tragedy here, but too late, because they've already politicized it to hell and back -- all the folks doing this Marie Antoinetting were right-wingers. They're the ones who claim to love this country to a degree that nobody like me could ever understand, yet I don't know if I've ever seen such lack of caring -- hell, outright hatred -- for one's fellow man. It all made me so angry this morning that I was close to putting my fist through the wall. Only I didn't, because I couldn't decide whether to do that or just cry.

Fortunately, distraction came in the form of a trip to Costco on my lunch hour. At work we got a notice that refugees from Louisiana and Mississippi had been brought to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center downtown, which the Red Cross had set up as a shelter, and that they needed whatever supplies people could donate -- toiletries especially, such as soap and toothpaste and toothbrushes, but also pillows, clothes, stuff for kids to play with, anything we could spare. We decided to bring in whatever stuff we could this morning and take it down to the BJCC, but we also supplemented that with a pool of cash donations from people in our office, which we used to buy a bunch of bulk purchases down at Costco -- soap, shampoo, disposable razors, even maxipads. (Yes, ladies, I bought maxipads in bulk at Costco. And I was not ashamed.)

It felt good to bring that stuff down to the BJCC, which wasn't as wall-to-wall packed as I had expected but was filling quickly. But it felt even better to see how many other cars were there, lined up on Eighth Avenue, hazard flashers blinking, with people hurriedly yanking big bags of stuff out of their trunks and running it inside. And it felt best of all to get the word from one of my co-workers at around 3 p.m. that the City Action Partnership had announced they had more than enough donations and didn't need anymore, and if people wanted to make any other contributions they should make them in cash to the Red Cross.

I was proud that Birmingham, my city, had done that. In just a few short hours we'd amassed all the stuff the refugees at the BJCC needed and then some. Granted, there are still thousands of people who weren't lucky enough to be carried off to Birmingham, but I'm confident that the people of Birmingham and the surrounding area are donating just as generously to their cause as they donated to the people seeking shelter at the convention center. And it gave me home to see all kinds of people -- white, black, wealthy, not-so-wealthy, Democrats, Republicans, old, young, everyone -- lined up at the BJCC to give what they could.

It gave me hope for really the first time all day. There are some people in this country who are all too willing to write off the NOLA victims in one big group as people who deserve whatever they're getting because they were too stupid, lazy, or poor to avoid it, but the people of Birmingham, my city, did not. There are people who have chosen to use this tragedy as an opportunity to let their innermost hatreds and basest instincts run rampant, and there are people who saw this overwhelming need for what it was, and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by them in my city, in my state.

If you haven't fired off a cash donation of some kind to the Red Cross yet, please do it now. Whether this blog makes you laugh, makes you angry, just go do it. Heck, if you've got extra space in your house there's even a site you can go to to offer it up to those whose best hope at this point is a plot of turf at the Astrodome.

We know there are people in this country whose best response to a disaster like this is, "Too bad. Life is hard. Nothing we can do now." Please don't be one of them.