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  • September 30, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 5

    [Posted by ]

    I can't believe Wisconsin is 4-0. Of course, the so-called "crappy" Big Ten has four other undefeated teams (Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State & Minnesota) so Wisconsin isn't that special...yet.

    Last week I only missed one game, so the pressure is on.

    Michigan at #11 Michigan State: At this point I think Michigan State is the 2nd best team in the conference (behind only Ohio State). However, sometimes even the good teams lose. I expect Michigan to come out pissed for losing last week. Will that be enough? I hope so. The pick: Michigan.

    Indiana at #17 Wisconsin: Yes, my Badgers are undefeated, but even I don't think they're world beaters. I think this is a trap game. Wisconsin will be coming down off of a great high after beating Michigan and they may not be mentally prepared to face an Indiana team that's probably a little better than they realize. This week, I just have to have faith in the coaching staff. The pick: Wisconsin because in Barry I trust.

    #1 USC at #14 Arizona State: I want to pick Arizona State. I caught part of their game against LSU and was really impressed by their QB, Sam Keller. I think he'll light up the scoreboard against USC. On the other hand, ASU's own defense gave it up at the end of that LSU game. They can't let up like that and expect to beat USC. The pick: reluctantly, USC.

    #5 Florida at #15 Alabama: Isn't it about time that someone ends the Florida/Tennessee/LSU domination of the SEC? I think so. This will be a tight game, but the home field will make the difference. The pick: Alabama.

    #13 Notre Dame at #22 Purdue: I'm still trying to figure out how Purdue lost to Minnesota. Heh, Purdue's still trying to figure it out too. Notre Dame, on the other hand, is probably still trying to figure out how in the world they're ranked #13. Hint, it's name recognition. I picture a game where both teams try desperately to give it away. Who will fail (and by fail, I mean win)? The pick: Purdue.

    Posted by at 06:37 AM | Comments (9)


    September 29, 2005

    Survivor Guatemala: Brianna Voted Off

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight on Survivor, the Nakum (Team Bobby Jon) tribe continued to kick ass. Despite a truly obnoxious howler monkey making its home around camp, Nakum trounced Yaxha (Team Steph) in both the reward and immunity challenge.

    That's fine by me, as Yaxha is all touchy-feely and Nakum is funny and tough. Nakum is also brave, as they tried to beat the extreme heat of Guatemala by taking dips in the croc-infested waters. At this rate I don't know when Nakum will go to Tribal Council, but it looks like when they do Margaret might be a target. Sure, she saved their butts at the start, but now the strong men of the tribe resent her for being too bossy. I'd like to see a Survivor where a woman can win as the strong leader of a tribe, like Tom did last year. I won't hold my breath.

    In one of the most entertaining immunity challenges ever, teams played a Mayan ball game that was pretty much just a variation on three-on-three basketball. The Yaxha men did a good job against Nakum and scored a couple of baskets, but the Nakum women ruled, particularly after Yaxha's Amy sprained an ankle.

    Brianna, in particular, was useless. She basically stood away from the ball and made sure to not get involved in the action. She was so the girl who stands in right field at a baseball game and prays that no one hits the ball her way. While you might be able to hide on a baseball diamond, it's awful hard to do so on Survivor. At the end, both Lydia and Brianna incurred the wrath of Stephenie when they didn't know how to run a pick. Personally, I think Steph was being a bit unreasonable. That's not exactly common knowledge.

    For the rest of this recap, please visit our reality TV site

    Posted by at 08:13 PM | Comments (1)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    Last week the "yays" had it once again as you, our readers, determined that yes, indeed, rectangular shaped crackers are superior to their rounded cousins.

    This week, we step away from the kitchen and ask another intriguing question.

    Posted by at 08:35 AM | Comments (8)


    September 27, 2005

    Amazing Race 8 Recap: Black Family Philiminated

    [Posted by ]

    I had pretty low expectations from the Amazing Race: Family Edition, but, I have to say, I really enjoyed the premier episode. The teams seemed awfully confused to be driving to Pennsylvania. One team even questioned if the clue meant "Pennsylvania, the state?". As if there's another Pennsylvania out there somewhere.

    The highlight of the episode was, of course, the guest appearance by Season One stars Kevin & Drew as NYC hot dog stand vendors. I was shocked that only one family seemed to recognize them. You'd think they'd be bigger fans. In any case, I was happy to see the lovable frats. Wouldn't it be fun if this season's families encountered more of our favorite teams along the way? The could see Team Cha Cha Cha in Miami, the Boston boys, Lena & Kristy in Utah and even Blake & Paige in the heart of Texas.

    As for the tasks: I loved the trek across the Delaware and the flag was a nice, patriotic touch. The detour was clever. What seemed like the easier option was actually far, far, far more demanding.

    After the teams treked through New York City and Pennsylvania's Amish country, the aptly named Black family was Philiminated. They seemed like nice enough people, although the younger kid seemed a little shady and more than a tad bitter throughout the leg. So, here's a fond farewell to 3/4 of the Black team and a "smell ya later" to the other quarter.

    Since this first episode is all about meeting the new teams, here's my take on the remaining nine:

    For the rest of this recap, please visit our reality TV site

    Posted by at 10:24 PM | Comments (3)


    The Orleans Levee Board

    [Posted by Laura]

    The website of the Orleans Levee District, also known as the Orleans Levee Board, is unenlightening in most respects, but it does contain the mission statement:

    The Orleans Levee District is dedicated to protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Orleans Parish by constructing, operating and maintaining the Mississippi River and Hurricane Protection Flood Control Systems and to providing safe and secure facilities for aviation, marine and recreational activities.
    I downloaded all of their board, Finance, and Planning, Engineering and Construction Committee meeting minutes, and after reading hundreds of intensely boring pages I have been able to ascertain that, mission statement notwithstanding, the Levee Board’s primary function is to continue doing whatever they want. The Levee Board owns property including marinas, an airport, and commercial property. They even have their own police force. The most interesting thing about all these minutes is the almost total lack of discussion of the levee system and how to protect the city in the event of a hurricane or catastrophic flooding.

    One revealing quote from the Finance committee in January:

    “a listing of 46 major maintenance and capital improvement projects that the staff have identified. This list totals $27.125 million and cannot be funded because of financial constraints. Of the $27.1 million requested, the budget funds only funding 9 projects for a total $800,000, as established by the priority of the staff. Commissioner Cynthia Willard-Lewis asked of the remaining unfunded projects, “does the lack of funding and the lack of implementation on any of those projects jeopardize the public safety or our ability to execute levee protection?” Ms. Herbert answered “no”. and added that these projects relate to and are funded by the General Operating Budget and anything that would relate to flood protection would come out of the SLIP Fund, the Special Levee Improvement Fund.”
    My question is, if levee improvement is a side project for the Orleans Levee board, to the point that it is not a part of the General Operating Budget, who exactly is focusing on the levees? In New Orleans, for something as important as the levees, shouldn’t there be an organization whose primary function is to maintain, study, and improve the levees? The levee board may have started life with that goal, but they have strayed pretty far from it when it’s no longer even part of the General Operating Budget.

    The levee board’s assets include millions of dollars worth of real estate, including an airport and marinas, along with valuable commercial rental properties. They spend what it takes to keep those things going. If their primary goal were to actually fix and upgrade the levees instead of to continue to exist as a bureaucracy, our levees would have been in much better condition in August, 2005. Since they do not fix or upgrade the levees without outside funding in any event (see March and July details, below the fold), what is the purpose of continuing the Orleans Levee Board in its present state? If someone needs to manage the airport, marinas, and other real estate holdings, let them do it. But take the levees and the protection of New Orleans out of their jurisdiction and give it to an organization that will devote itself full time to that goal.

    Here is what the Levee Board has been doing in 2005, in the time that might otherwise have been spent attending to the first 32 words of their mission statement.

    January, 2005 –
    • Ongoing discussion of bus stops on Hayne Boulevard.
    • Discussion of the only ongoing project in Orleans Parish, the Hammond Highway Bridge over the 17th St. Canal.
    • Renting space to a pharmacist – Commissioner Green was oddly concerned with “what is occurring in New Orleans East with a few places that call themselves pharmacies. … a few places that opened as pharmacies and now have turned into dispensaries for pain killer medication’s, etc. On a day to day basis, it will be up to staff and Mr. Pappalardo to make sure that sort of thing does not happen here.”
    February, 2005 –
    • More on those critical Hayne Blvd. bus stops.
    • Extensive discussion of the OLD investment portfolio.
    • One section of the minutes in their entirety:
    Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Plan.
    Mr. Spencer reported that there are still no additional funds designated from the
    USACE for 2005 hurricane projects. Recently, there was an article in the Times
    Picayune concerning the Hammond Highway Bridge over the 17th Street Canal being behind schedule. This project is now scheduled for completion in April 2005. Mr. Spencer added that there are still no funds available to reconstruct the Robert E. Lee Bridge over the London Avenue Canal.
    There was no further discussion on the above item.
    • A very amusing discussion of the OLD website situation, bemoaning the fact that “whenever you do a search for “Orleans Levee Board”, you never find the Orleans Levee Board, and you find all the articles that people had written and things that don’t concern us or public relations wise that is not always complimentary.” Imagine that!
    • A long discussion on residential and commercial development of the eastern shore of the Lake (the East Beach Project).
    March, 2005 –
    • Background on the critical situation with the Hayne Blvd. bus stops reveals it has been ongoing for 13 years! Shocking, simply shocking.
    • The Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Plan was actually discussed. “Mr. Spencer reported that currently the President’s budget for 2006 has only $3 million for LPVHPP which covers 4 parishes. This budget is enough to keep only the existing projects going, but not to start any remaining projects. He stated that the OLD had sent another letter (copy attached) to the legislators, including Congressman Vitter and Senator Landrieu, in regards to the USACE saying that they have a capability of spending another $17 million for major work on LPVHPP projects. A response to the letter was received from Mayor Nagin’s office asking what can they do to make this happen. We told him that a letter from his office to the legislators would be helpful, as well a telephone call.

    ”President Huey said this Board had voted to provide $1 million to the USACE on the Mirabeau Avenue Bridge project because money had been exhausted for the contracts. The USACE used this money as part of our cost share. We are at the short end of completing the parallel flood protection and it would be terrible shame for this project not to be completed, especially if we get hit with a storm. Mr. Spencer introduced Mr. Al Naomi, project manager for the USACE to address any questions the Committee may have concerning projects. Mr. Naomi reported that we do have a critical funding need. There are four major projects in Orleans Parish; protecting Pump Station 3 on Broad Street, protecting Pump Station # 7 at the Orleans Avenue Canal, the Robert E. Lee Bridge, over London Avenue Canal and a major levee enlargement in East New Orleans. This levee is approximately 3 feet below grade. All of these projects are vital in protecting the city. Should one of the pump stations fail because of storm surge, it would be very critical. Each pump station costs approximately $10 million to protect, the levee enlargement project cost is $5 million. The plans are complete for Pump Station #3 and the city has the plans finished for the Robert E. Lee Bridge ($2 million project).”

    I included that entire section because it is the most time all year spent discussing the primary reason they exist.

    April, 2005 –
    • The PEC briefly discussed the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Plan. “Mr. Spencer reported that unfortunately, the Federal Government still has only $2.7 million set aside for projects to cover four parishes for FY 2006. There are approximately $25 million worth of projects that still need to be done with their designs on the shelf. Mr. Al Naomi, Project Manager for the USACE was unable to attend today’s meeting, but Mr. Marvin Moreheiser is present to address any questions the Committee may have. Chairman Saizan said we all know that the USACE’s budget has been drastically affected. He asked are there any questions from the Committee for Mr. Moreheiser to address, and there were none. There was no further discussion on the above item.”
    • They did spend some of that SLIP money on a study to use the city’s water system to provide fire protection at a pump house.
    May, 2005 –
    • Amidst extensive discussion of commercial real estate issues, they did find time to discuss the Emergency Operations Procedure Manual and the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Plan. They are required by the state to update the EOP annually – in this case revisions consisted of updating points of contacts. As for the LPVHPP, since there was no new funding, they did nothing. The Hurricane Levee Inspection with the USACE and LADOTD was scheduled for May 27th.
    June, 2005 –
    • Important issues discussed included spending over a million dollars of levee improvement money on a commercial lakefront property, in spite of the fact that the previous month they complained have having no funds for LPVHPP.
    July, 2005 –
    • LPVHPP report: the flood proofing of the Hammond Hwy Bridge has been completed on the Orleans Parish side. Upon newspaper reports that federal funding might be increased to 7.5 million, “We are very hopeful that we can get more than $2.9. The $7.5 million won’t do a whole lot, but it may allow us to do more design work and a few more contracts... The R. E. Lee Bridge design over the London Avenue Canal has been completed, but there are no funds to award the project. The project cost approximately $4.5 million. Pumping Station Nos. 3 and 7 needs to be done at $10 million to $12 million each. A major levee in New Orleans East is at least 3 ft. deficient in places, and is in need of repair. In conclusion, Mr. Naomi said there is a major backlog of work pending funding.”

    And as always, a lot more discussion of marinas, airports and other commercial property matters than anything related to the first 32 words of the mission statement.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 07:21 PM | Comments (4)


    Amazing Destinations

    [Posted by ]

    I was reading some websites about the glorious Wisconsin football victory over Michigan when I came across some stunning pictures from a trip one Badger fan took around Phuket, Thailand. Take a look:

    This is from the doorway of a beach bungalow. It just looks like heaven to me, so I've been spending some time fantasy trip planning. Thailand is surprisingly cheap, especially now since so many resorts are hurting after the tsunami.

    With Phuket on my mind and a new edition of The Amazing Race starting tonight, it seems like the perfect time to run through a list of my dream destinations. Maybe someday I'll get to one or two of them.

    10. Switzerland: In 5th grade, I had to choose a country and write a report about it. We had the entire year to do it, so there was plenty of time to send away for information. I chose Switzerland and ever since then I've always thought of it as some kind of fairyland full of mountains, castles, yodelers and cheese. As you can see from the pictures, it's beautiful and it'd be almost like visiting three countries in one!

    9. New York City: It seems ridiculous that I've never been to the Big Apple. I don't have an overwhelming desire to go to New York, but everyone that goes there raves about how exciting the city is and how much fun it is to just walk around and people watch. I love to people watch and I suspect that nowhere in the world is quite like New York City for that particular activity.

    8. London: I've always been interested in British history and I'd love to explore place like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, not to mention stepping back into Tudor/Stuart times and seeing a show at The Globe. Plus, I've heard that London's food is vastly underestimated and that the shopping is fantastic. This wouldn't be an adventurous vacation. It's more of an historical destination.

    7. Normandy: Speaking of historical destinations, it'd be impossible for me to keep the beaches of Normandy off of my list. I've read so much about D-Day and I'd like to go there to pay my respects to the brave people that fought there for no other purpose than for freedom. That sounds unbelievably cheesy. You know, sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes the truth's cheesy.

    6. Hawaii: Like any good lover of lava, Hawaii is on my list. I think I'd like Hawaii for all the obvious, touristy reasons: jumping into waterfall-fed lagoons, lounging on beaches and biking down mountains at sunrise. I'm sure there's some cool "hidden" Hawaii, but I think this is one of those places where I'd be happiest being on the beaten path. As an aside, I'm so sad that the Badgers will be there in November without me.

    5. Santorini: How achingly beautiful is this? The blue sky and sea combined with the brilliant white buildings. In many ways, Santorini is too posh for me, but even us folks in the "lower" classes can enjoy the sunshine on a terrace with an adult beverage.

    4. Perth and Fremantle, Australia: Remember when Australia won the America's Cup? They defended the Cup in the rough waters off of Freemantle. Set on the Indian Ocean, Perth is said to be one of the most isolated cities on Earth. And actually, it's pretty much exactly across the world from Wisconsin. Everyone who wants to go to Australia seems to go to Sydney, I'd rather do something different and go to Perth.

    3. Oregon: I've always been drawn to the wet and wild Oregon coast. I want to bundle up against the wind and the waves and stroll shores like the one in this picture. But that's not all the state has to offer. There are forests, mountains, wineries, windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge and much more.

    2. Istanbul: Until I fell for Phuket, Istanbul was my number one dream destination. I'd want to visit the Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and even ancient Troy (I know it's not in Istanbul, but it's close enough). Plus, I'm crazy about Turkish food and all the Turks I've ever met have been beyond friendly.

    1. Phuket: Ah, Phuket. Just look at that picture and then imagine yourself escaping a cold Wisconsin winter to relax on that beach.

    So those are my top ten. What are your dream destinations? And, don't forget to check out the premiere of the Amazing Race tonight. We'll be doing recaps againt this year. Hopefully I'll be able to keep all the families straight in this first episode. If not, you all can mock me about it later.

    Posted by at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)


    September 26, 2005

    Take Back The Middle

    [Posted by ]

    All the world's a liberal, or at least it seems that way. For a country supposedly divided right down the middle, the Left sure does seem to be front and center in the news lately. From the oh-so-principled liberal Senators attempting to save us from the poor- and woman-hating John Roberts to the 100,000 plus moonbats marching in DC, the silent majority is awfully, uh, silent these days.

    Fewer and fewer people approve of the President's performance. Of course, it's not all about Iraq or even about any inadequate federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina. More than a few conservatives, myself included, are fed up with the new breed of spend and spend Republicans, as epitomized by George W. Bush.

    But every time I flirt with throwing my support behind a can't-win Independent or even making a protest vote to punish the party, the Left does something to pull me back into the fold. This weekend it was the every-cause-under-the-sun socialist America-hatingathon in DC. I look at those people and I know I can never stand on the same side of the aisle as them. In fact, I'll vote Republican just to spite them.

    But why should my choice be between socially conservative/fiscally liberal Republicans and a bunch of crackpots? I call on rational Democrats to condemn them. Seriously. Where are the Dems saying that they don't support those who claim that 9/11 was an inside job? Or that capitalism is the root of all evil? Or even those who would deny Israel's right to exist? Do principled Democrats really want to share the tent with those folks? I hope they don't anymore than I want to be associated with the likes of freaks like Fred Phelps and blood and guts Pro-lifers.

    I originally started this post intending to bitch about the knee-jerk demonization of Republicans I routinely find even at non-political websites like Television Without Pity. I found this post about a contestant, James (not our James of course ;-), in a forum about Big Brother:

    Ugh. I know, but I choose to block that from my mind. How could someone so snarky and fun be such a .... Republican?

    Seriously. I try to selectively block out that retarded, annoying, and ignorant picture he has of G.W. on his MySpace profile -- the very MySpace profile that got him picked to be on the show. His profile does bug me in general though, Republican weirdness aside.

    It ticked me off that people make comments like that in a non-political arena and just assume that everyone is like them and agrees with their political viewpoint. All the world's a liberal. But then, honestly, I realized I'd probably have the same reaction to someone who was all gung-ho about Howard Dean. Mind you, I wouldn't be so rude as to post about it on some TV forum, but I'd think it.

    And that's the problem. For every rude liberal who thinks all Republican are evil there's a conservative who thinks all Democrats are like Cindy Sheehan or Ward Churchill.

    I feel like debates in America are taking place on the absolute fringes now (Is Bush Hitler? Is Hillary, indeed, the Devil?). We're so busy mocking and getting into shouting matches with the wingnuts and the moonbats respectively that we're forgetting that the vast middle of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, want a country where they can raise a family in peace, make an honest wage and mind their own business. Wouldn't our time be better spent figuring out how to best make that happen?

    Campus women want to "take back the night". 9/11 families want to "take back the Memorial". Maybe the rational Democrats and Republicans need to band together and rally to take back the middle.

    Update: Eric the Viking Pundit has a great post on kind of the same subject:

    Here’s NY Times columnist David Brooks on “Meet the Press”:

    You look across the party and you see some Democrats who really are working on policy ideas. I think of John Edwards, Steny Hoyer, one of the House leaders who had a foreign policy document come out this week. But most Democrats seem to be acting as if the main problem with the country is that the country doesn't hate George Bush enough. And if we only shout louder, they'll hate him more like tourists in Paris who think they'll understand us if we scream a little louder. And to me, it's led to the brain death of the Democratic Party. I don't know where the party stands on Iraq. I don't know where it stands on entitlement spending. On issue after issue, I really don't know where that party stands.

    Posted by at 08:26 PM | Comments (10)


    A picture is worth a thousand words

    [Posted by james]

    Or maybe just three.

    "Stuck on Stupid"

    Posted by jkhat at 11:24 AM | Comments (3)


    September 24, 2005

    When You Say Wisconsin, You've Said It All

    [Posted by ]

    I'm sweaty, wet, tired and my feet hurt. But none of that matters because the Badgers beat Michigan tonight. Wooooo!!

    The atmosphere at Camp Randall wasn't as crazy as it was for the Ohio State game two years ago. I think fans were sure we'd win that game, but no one believed we could really beat Michigan. It's not that Michigan is so great this year so much as the fact that Wisconsin always seems to find a way to lose to them.

    But not tonight. Tonight Bucky was hanging tough and the crowd, while not crazy, was a real factor in the game. For once, Wisconsin won an important, intense game. Tonight Michigan was the team making mental errors. No one expected much from this Badger team, but maybe they should start to.

    I already can't wait until next Saturday.

    Posted by at 11:40 PM | Comments (2)


    September 23, 2005

    Levee Breach in New Orleans

    [Posted by Laura]

    The Industrial Canal levee was first overtopped by the storm surge from Hurricane Rita, and now has been breached again. (Picture of the breach below the fold.) The Industrial Canal connects Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. New Orleans was 90% drained. Utilities restoration, clean up and rebuilding were proceeding rapidly. This is a real setback. Amazingly, even after all that people experienced and saw with Hurricane Katrina flooding in this part of town, people are refusing to evacuate.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 11:22 AM | Comments (10)


    College Football Picks-Week 4

    [Posted by ]

    If you're a part of our football pool, be sure to get your picks in. If you're not, well come on, whatcha waiting for?

    Now on to the picks, this week with a Big Ten flair:

    Boston College at Clemson: Boston College was beyond disappointing in their loss to Florida State last week, while Clemson took Miami (FL) to overtime before losing. Clemson has shown a lot of heart and I think they're a better team than Boston College. My only worry is that after their loss they'll lose heart. For now I'm going to keep the faith. The pick: Clemson.

    #11 Purdue at Minnesota: If this game was in Lafayette, I'd go for the Boilermakers. But, the Metrodome is a horrible, hellish place to play. And that's for the home team! On the road, it's the dome of doom. I think Minnesota will run wild on Purdue. The pick: Minnesota and another Big Ten unbeaten goes down.

    #21 Iowa at #8 Ohio State: I think Ohio State is probably the best team in the league and that Iowa is probably overrated. While this will be billed as the matchup of the day in the conference, I don't think this one will be even close. The pick: Ohio State.

    #15 Georgia Tech at #4 Virginia Tech: I have a speaking suspicion that Virginia Tech is going to smelling Roses at the end of the season. I'm not saying they're going to win the National Championship Game, but I think they're going to be there. If so, they can't lose today. The pick: Virginia Tech.

    #1 USC at #24 Oregon: Oregon strikes me as a very good team, but USC is a great team. This will a tough rough test, but when hasn't this team passed a test? They always do. And they will again. The pick: USC.

    #14 Michigan at Wisconsin: Wisconsin and Michigan don't have a rivalry because they always beat us. Always. This is the one game I most want the Badgers to win. If we win tomorrow, the rest of the season is gravy. So, will we win? Michigan's defense is suspect and Wisconsin is far more balanced than most people realize. On the flip side, our pass defense is nothing to write home about either. I think it'll be a shootout and that one key defensive stop late in the game will make the difference. The pick: Wisconsin. If I'm right, they'll be a whole heck of a lot of drunk, happy people in Wisconsin this weekend!

    Posted by at 07:34 AM | Comments (3)


    September 22, 2005

    Hurricane Katrina Spending: What Would Reagan Say?

    [Posted by ]

    With Hurricane Katrina reconstruction costs estimated at upwards of $200 billion, some House Republicans are launching "Operation Offset", a proposal to cut $500 billion in other government spending to pay for the Hurricane Katrina efforts.

    While some have mocked such efforts as "moronic", I think it's exactly what we should be thinking about doing. Instead of using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to expand government (and therefore, government spending) we should use it as an excuse to cut pork. To save something for a rainy day, pardon the pun.

    My friend Ed asked me what I thought Ronald Reagan would say about Operation Offset. I came up with a couple of appropriate quotes, but Ed had his own idea of the Gipper's take on the whole situation and how he'd explain it to the American people:

    Reagan always put things in simple terms that every family could understand. He'd say something like "When your family has an unexpected expense, like when Johnny decides he wants to go to college, or when Suzy needs surgery, you dont run up your credit card debt - that will get you into more trouble in the long run. What you do is, is you cut back. You scrimp, and you save. You dont take that trip to Disney, not that year. That's what we have to do now -- we have to make cuts. Our politicians want to fix this, but they also want to take that trip to Disneyland. They cant have it both ways..."

    I think that's perfect. There's a reason Reagan was the Great Communicator. The brilliance of Reagan, and of Ed's take on Reagan, (and this is something the Dems don't get) is not in his style, but in the substance of what he says. Reagan made government accountable to a standard of simple common sense. Unfortunately, that's still a most revolutionary idea.

    Posted by at 10:24 PM | Comments (10)


    Survivor Episode 2 Recap, Morgan voted off

    [Posted by james]

    As the previews promised, Blake continues to be deathly sick as Margaret continues to share her vast depth of nursing knowledge. "Something is not right."

    Nakum meets Yaxha and Jeff for the first reward challenge, which is the typical obstacle course. Reward is fishing gear, including worms. I wonder if there will be a big Kimmi Kappenberg type blowout if someone wants to eat them? Heh. Gary is pretty slow for an ex-NFL player. Let me guess, he was pocket QB? I take back what I said about this being a "typical" course - this challenge is looooong. I went out to dinner, washed the car and returned to find that Nakum came out on top.

    At Nakum, Brandon's up at "the butt crack of dawn" as he continues to make America uncomfortable with his not-so-charming hillbilly ways.

    Yaxha, on the other hand, has discovered an anthill and has started digging in, both literally and figuratively. Stephanie seems to be the only thinking one in the bunch who smartly opines

    For the rest of the recap, visit our partner:

    Posted by jkhat at 08:27 PM | Comments (9)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    Arrrrgh, mateys, another Yay Day or Nay Day is upon us. Last week, we learned that landlubbers best be ware - pirates are a big YAY!" This week, we pose a more vexing question...

    Posted by at 12:03 AM | Comments (4)


    September 21, 2005

    Pro-Lifers on the Madison Traffic Report

    [Posted by ]

    Even though Madison isn't some big city, we still get traffic reports on the radio during the morning and evening commutes.

    Normally the news from the road is that the Beltline is crowded and it's going to take you some time to get through campus. Occasionally there's an accident on the Interstate and, if things are really exciting, there's a truck overturned somewhere spilling some kind of vegetable, grain or dairy product on the street.

    Today, I heard something completely new. People with small children in their cars were warned to stay away from a particular downtown intersection because pro-life demonstrators were holding up gory signs that might scare the kids.

    I saw what I'm assuming are the same demonstrators a few weeks ago at a busy intersection near my office. I was appalled by the signs. No one needs to see that, and certainly little kids don't. No matter what your political beliefs, there's no need to traumatize people to try to get your point across.

    I'm hoping that this particular station will get so many grateful calls from motorists who were able to avoid the protest that they'll start to provide this type of information more often. In the future, maybe I'll be able to avoid the next "No Blood for Oil" march or a PETA protest or even the inevitable Hillary for President rally.

    Posted by at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)


    Good News from Metro New Orleans Pt. 2

    [Posted by Laura]

    Recovery from Hurricane Katrina is proceeding at a faster pace than anyone but the people who live here predicted. About 75% of Jefferson Parish, adjacent to Orleans on the west side, has all utilities. Postal service has resumed for a large part of the metro area. Schools are reopening. Garbage collection has resumed. Businesses including grocery stores, pharmacies, and home improvement stores have been reopened. As Jefferson comes back, it is easier to get people and supplies in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes which were much harder hit.

    New Orleans is 80-85% drained, far ahead of schedule. 19% of Orleans has power, and the boil order for water has been lifted. Major roads including I-10 and the Causeway are open again.

    St. Bernard and Orleans parishes were reopening but this has been put on hold due to Hurricane Rita. Work continues, however, so when the parishes are opened, they will be better prepared for the residents return.

    The best news is that all of the federal funds earmarked for Louisiana are being watched closely - to the point that local talk radio is fielding complaints from parish presidents who say they will have to lay off police officers and other essential staff if they don't get money today. The governor's office is blaming the Feds, who reply that our reputation is so bad, and there are so many cases of money given for one thing spent on another, including levee improvement money being spent on patronage projects, that they have to check everything before they can release funds. That is excellent news both for LA residents and for all US taxpayers who are tired of the corruption and waste around here. And for the politicians who are struggling now to get things done - your reputation is your own. You earned it by either participating, condoning, or not actively fighting the corruption and waste. If that's a problem for you now, GOOD.

    I thought this was amusing. One of the first businesses to reopen - the XXX video store. I'm tempted to go see if they are actually getting any business. I can't help but wonder who's got the time and energy for that stuff, but I still thought it was funny when I saw the sign, along with all the "essential service" businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores, and roofers.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)


    B.B. King on Kanye West's Anti-Bush remarks

    [Posted by james]

    In an interview to run in next week's US News and World Report, Blues Legend B.B. King is asked whether he agreed with Kanye West that George Bush doesn't care about black people. King responded:

    "I think President Bush does care about the American people. If you have 15 children as I do, some of them are favorites. I have one son in prison; now, he's not my favorite, because he didn't listen. But I still love him. So I think it's the same about President Bush. There might be people he favors more than others, but I think he cares about all. I hope I made myself clear."

    About as clear as Coca-Cola.
    See the Kanye West video here.

    Posted by jkhat at 11:53 AM | Comments (9)


    September 20, 2005

    Big Brother 6: And The Winner Is...

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight Maggie won Big Brother 6. It's hard to put her up there with such past champions as the great and evil Dr. Will, isn't it? Here's how the votes broke down:

    Beau: Ivette
    April: Maggie
    James: Ivette
    JBlow: Maggie
    Janelle: Ivette
    Rachel: Maggie

    As I predicted, it all came down to Howie and he, like his partner Rachel, went for Maggie. So basically, Ivette lost $450,000 (the difference between first and second) by being a complete and utter bitch to Rachel in her goodbye video. Don't get me wrong, I hate Ms. Smuggie Maggie, but I do take some satisfaction in the fact that Ivette lost because she couldn't keep her trap shut for 30 seconds. At least Ivette is young, and hopefuly she'll learn from this adventure. Her girlfriend, Tush, seems cool and maybe she can help her get on the right path.

    As for Maggie. It's too late. She's like a cult leader, but without the charisma. What makes me most physically ill about her victory is knowing that she'll probably somehow share some of the cash with the hateful Eric. I barely watched the first few weeks of the show, but that was enough to make me despise Mr. Cappy. Blech.

    The most interesting parts of the show tonight dealt with the jury and early evictions.

    For the rest of the recap, visit our new reality TV site,

    Posted by at 09:20 PM | Comments (1)


    September 19, 2005


    [Posted by John Tant]

    Emboldened by this post from Michelle Malkin, I thought I'd do a little digging and see what fat could be cut from my state of Virginia.

    Ho boy.

    In 2005, Virginia received $250,000 for an "Art Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke for planning and construction of a new museum." Hm. I'm thinking Roanoke can pay for their own bloody museum.

    Fairfax County received $400,000 "for the drinking water infrastructure improvements associated with the Electric Reliability Project." Let 'em buy bottled water like the rest of us. And we'll throw in the ~3.5 MILLION dollars going to similar programs across the state. Hey, you want water infrastructure improvements in your city? How about YOU PAY FOR THEM?!?

    The Boys and Girls club of Alexandria received $97,000 "for renovation and expansion of its facility." I'm sorry, I thought they were a private charity-type organization. Why are they getting federal dollars?

    The town of Appomattox is getting $150,000 for "facilities construction of an African-American cultural and heritage museum at the Carver-Price building." Great. Where's the Italian-American cultural and heritage museum in Appomattox? What, there isn't one? Then screw you, Appomattox.

    More from Fairfax. $200,000 for "City of Fairfax for the City of Fairfax Downtown Redevelopment Project." Putting aside the fact that these types of projects usually revolve around perks for the people managing the project, why are the Feds even putting money toward a redevelopment project for Fairfax? Let the city pay for it.

    And this is from a very cursory review from my database search. There is a lot more, ranging from work done on many of Virginia roads (hey, isn't that why we have VDOT?!?) to various anti-gang initiatives (I have an idea...give every homeowner in NoVA an M-1 Garand rifle with 100 rounds of ammo, then turn them loose in a Take-My-City-Back night) to, and I'm not kidding here, $450k for a dental clinic for Martinsville Virginia.

    The next time some moronic politician says I'm not paying my fair share, I'm going to ask him exactly what's fair about paying for crap like this.

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    Posted by John Tant at 01:12 PM | Comments (20)


    September 18, 2005

    The Emmy Awards-Hour One

    [Posted by ]

    For ongoing Emmy coverage, be sure to visit our TV site, Zebrality.

    Ellen DeGeneres hosts the show tonight. I can't spell her last name well, so I'm going to refer to her as "Ellen".

    The show kicks off with John Travolta recounting how he fell in love with the woman who played his mother on "The Boy in the Bubble". That's sweet. I had heard about that and it made me like Travolta despite all of his Scientology nonsense.

    Various stars talk about their "Emmy moment". Billy Crystal lightens the self important mood by showing how he uses his Emmy as a hood ornament. Heh.

    The Black-Eyed Peas & Earth, Wind & Fire play "Dancing in September" with some TV-worthy lyrics. It's awfully cheesy and goes on for far, far, far too long. When it's finally over we get Ellen. She's dressed in smart all-black suit and, I have to say, she has really cute hair.

    Rather than yellow wristbands or red ribbons the new symbol of charitable choice among the Hollywood set is a magnolia for Hurricane Katrina victims. Did you know that Ellen also hosted the Emmys after 9/11? God, she's like George HW Bush and Bill Clinton...always there just a step after disaster strikes.

    The Desperate Housewives kick off the evening. All five are in fabulous evening gowns. Nicolette Sheridan looks like she was rode hard and put away wet. Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross look far and away the best. Anyway, the gals are here to present the award for best supporting actor in a comedy. I'm rooting for Jeffrey Tambor. But, the winner, for the umpteeth time is Brad Garrett for Everybody Loves Raymond. I don't know if everybody loves Raymond, but I know that my Mom sure does. Heh. Garrett gets off the biggest laugh of the night by thanking "Britney and our baby".

    A timeout to discuss "Emmy Idol": During tonight's broadcast, TV stars will team up with some singers to perform classic TV songs. For example, William Shatner is going to sing the "Star Trek" theme with some famous opera star. Fans can then go vote on CBS' website for the winner. I'm not going to miss Shatner. I'm no fool.

    One thing I like about this show so far is that it's not taking itself too seriously. It's just an awards show. Fools. Next award: supporting actor in a drama series. I'm rooting for William Shatner just because I love Denny Crane. And yes! Shatner does it.

    Donald Trump and Megan Mullally from Will & Grace kick off Emmy Idol with a rendition of Green Acres. I'm not kidding. Trump is wearing overalls! And a straw hat! And he's carrying a pitchfork! And he can't sing! It's awesomely bad. Wow. I'm not sure that can be topped.

    Next award is for outstanding performance in a music or variety show. ABW: Anyone but Whoopi. And the winner is...Hugh Jackman. Mmm, he's a handsome devil, isn't he?

    Now, the biggest award of the reality series. Of course, the stupid Blue Man Group is presenting it. I hate these freaks. If the Amazing Race doesn't win again I sure hope that Project Runway does. Yay! The Amazing Race wins for the 3rd time in a row!!! Hey, it's Phil! Hi Phil. See you in a couple of weeks.

    Speaking of handsome devils, Zach Braff from Scrubs hits the stage. He's with the dude from House to present the award from best supporting actress in a drama series. Oh god, I certainly hope Tyne Daly doesn't win. Blythe Danner wins. Isn't she Gwenyth Paltrow's mom? It'd be a nice dig at her daughter if she too, like Braff, would attempt to speak in a British accent. Nope, instead she uses her time on the stage to call for our troops to leave Iraq. Shut up. No one cares what you think about foreign policy.

    With that, I'll begin the tally of award winners and/or presenters who play politics on the stage. So far it's just Danner.

    Jason Lee (and, btw, My Name is Earl looks great) and Debra Messing present the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie. I haven't seen any of these. Paul Newman wins. I bet they just nominated him so he'd show up. But, the jokes on them since he didn't show up anyway.

    Ugh. It's time for CBS to pimp their new shows so we must endure Jennifer Love Hewitt. The woman women love to hate is here to present the award for best supporting actress in a movie or miniseries. Once again, haven't seen these. The winner is Jane Alexander. Apparently she specializes in playing Roosevelts. Who knew?

    More pimping...Doogie Howser and some other woman introduce the next Emmy Idol contestant: Kristen Bell who will sing "Fame". She reminds me way too much of Debbie Gibson.

    Chris O'Donnell (hey, where's your brother Charlie) and some chick in the OC announce a bunch of award given out earlier. If they're not important enough to be on the regular show, they're not important enough for me to recap. The award winners, whoever they were, "get" to give out an award for directing a musical or variety show. God, does anyone actually care about this? If you do, you'll be glad to know that the winner is the guy who directed NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.

    For writing in the same category, the winner is the team from the Daily Show. Good for them. Maybe I'll be able to add to my political tally. Nope. Jon Stewart showed some admirable restraint.

    Remember, check out Zebrality for continuing coverage of the rest of the show.

    Technorati Tag:

    Posted by at 07:58 PM | Comments (2)


    Stop telling me to donate to Hurricane Katrina Victims

    [Posted by james]

    To celebrities, singers, athletes, ex-presidents, billboards, companies, charities, people standing by the entrance to the metro, et al:


    I am so incredibly sick of hearing people tell me to donate that it's starting to make me physically ill.

    I don't even think I can watch football this week, because since the NFL has dubbed it Hurricane Weekend I can't watch 3 minutes of a game without hearing someone tell me that I should give money, more money, to the Red Cross.

    I have a tip for you New Orleans residents: the rest of the country is sick of hearing about you. We've already seen the TV images of the destruction of your city, and we've already opened our hearts, our homes, and our wallets. We've also seen the looting, the shooting, the blame game, the political opportunism, the sensationalism, and the idiocy of so many New Orleans residents. The wire photos of people refusing to leave, even though their living rooms are under water. The interviews with the people demanding "when is someone going to come and help me?! Who is going to help me?" (Hint: Call your insurance company. Don't have flood insurance? Tough. You live below sea level, retard.)

    We see now that your city has been suffering from financial mismanagement for years, that your city leaders were indicted for misusing federal funding BEFORE the hurricane even happened, that Jefferson County Presdident Aaron Broussard was lying when he made his gripping emotional appeal on Meet the Press, and that people are using their "Relief" debit cards to buy flat screen TV's.

    Where are the 10,000 dead bodies that we were told were coming? First hand accounts called N.O. a "war zone," with dead bodies "floating everywhere." Your own mayor came on national television and said that the city needed thousands of body bags. For what? To carry away the cash that was pouring in?

    I already donated money to the "effort," as did many Americans. We all did so as it was happening, as it was being sensationalized on television. I, for one, am really starting to regret that I did.

    If you give a beggar $20 once, he'll never leave you alone again. Every time he sees you, he'll have his hand out, asking for more.

    But least you can get away from a obnoxious and pushy beggar by going into your house. You can go home, turn on the tube, and watch some football.

    With this, no one has that luxury.

    Posted by jkhat at 12:06 PM | Comments (3)


    September 17, 2005

    Mud Ducks, Murder & Chai Soua Vang

    [Posted by ]

    Like many people across the country, I've been following the Chai Vang murder case. Vang was convicted today of killing 6 hunters in northern Wisconsin last year. Vang trespassed on their property, was confronted about it and ended up killing them (most of the hunters were unarmed and shot in the back).

    Vang's (who is Hmong) defense was that the hunters made racist comments to him and he felt threatened and therefore the murders were in self defense. To prove this, Vang's lawyers tried to claim that the term "mud duck" was a racist phrase meaning someone who wasn't white. One of the victims who lived through the attack claims that this is simply a phrase used to refer to people from Minnesota.

    Major media outlets reported this as if it was an actual question. Larry Oakes, from the reliably liberal Minneapolis Star Tribune even writes:

    the prosecution’s own witnesses will say Vang, a Hmong American, was called a “tree rat,” a “mud duck” and other, obscene names.

    "Mud duck" is an obscene name? Really? Since when? As a Wisconsinite, I know damn well that a mud duck simply refers to those folks unfortunate enough to live in Minnesota. Just as I know that a FIB is nothing more than a native of Illinois.

    In the media's defense, "mud duck" isn't used nearly as often as "FIB". And, it's not even used in all of Wisconsin. James, for example, an eastern Wisconsinite, had never heard of it before. I'm from central Wisconsin, however, and I grew up with the term.

    But it does aggravate me that the media reports on the case mention the debate on the meaning of the phrase but don't cite any evidence that "mud duck" is, indeed, simply a term for 'Sotans. Maybe reporters are simply too lazy to do a few Google searches. If they did, they'd quickly discover that Wisconsinites, Iowans and North Dakotans have referred to their neighbors as "mud ducks" for years. Heck, even Minnesotans are in on it. Witness the Twin City baseball powerhouse, Al's Mud Ducks.

    I think the national media was determined to make this case about racism in the heartland and the tragedy that, as Vang's mom said, "could have been prevented if we could only learn to respect one another." Unfortunately, not all the facts in this case support that conclusion. But, as we've learned over the past few years, why let the facts stand in the way of a good story?

    Posted by at 12:33 AM | Comments (1)


    September 16, 2005

    Big Brother 6 Recap-The Final HOH Competition

    [Posted by ]

    I hoped it wouldn't happen. I wished it wouldn't happen. But, it happened. Our fair Janelle was evicted from the Big Brother house tonight. Ivette won the final Head of Household competition and chose to take the evil Maggie with her to the final two.

    Janelle will not win $500,000, but I suspect she'll earn far more than that as with her beauty and demonstrated popularity she's going to receive a LOT of offers in the coming weeks. I hope that she and Michael make it as a couple and I hope that she and Kaysar go on The Amazing Race next season and kick ass.

    As for the show, I don't know if I even want to watch it anymore. I guess I want Ivette to win. Ironically enough, however, if she does it's going to be on the votes of people not in her alliance. I see the votes breaking down like this:

    April: definitely for Maggie
    Jennifer: definitely for Maggie
    Beau: definitely for Ivette
    Janelle: definitely for Ivette

    So, it comes down to Rachel, Howie & James. I think James will lean to Ivette while Rachel (soley due to Ivette's nasty exit comments) will lean to Maggie. So, it'll come down to Howie. I think Howie will vote for Maggie to win, but at least Ivette has a possibility to win now. I dislike her, but her treatment of Janelle this week (at least to her face) means that she now has a chance to win.

    To be honest though, I'd rather watch a reunion show with all the houseguests than watch either of these two bitches win half a million dollars.

    Speaking of bitches, I have to mention my favorite moment of the show: Sarah holding up a pink "Bye Bye Bitches" t-shirt. Ah Sarah, apparently we hardly knew ye. James better treat her right.

    Read more about Big Brother at our new reality TV site, Zebrality.

    Posted by at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)


    College Football Picks-Week 3

    [Posted by ]

    If you haven't already done so, be sure to join our football pool. We just started last week, so it's not too late. Come on, it'll be fun!

    Last week, thanks to the Big Ten's glamour teams, I was just 4 for 6. Hopefully I can improve upon that this week.

    Oregon St. at #11 Louisville: I was going to go with Louisville because they're at home, but reading more about the game gives me pause. Louisville has a crappy pass defense, and that could be lethal against a Pac 10 team. Oregon State beat Boise State already this year. Can they continue to beat up on the BCS busters? I think so. The pick: Oregon State.

    Michigan State at #10 Notre Dame: This is another game where the home field advantage could tip the scales. But here's what I'm thinking: the "big" Big Ten teams were overrated which may mean that the "lesser" teams are, in fact, a bit underrated. Michigan State has racked up 592 yard per game this year. And Notre Dame, despite their victories, has allowed over 220 passing yards. This could be a field day for Drew Stanton. The pick: Michigan State.

    #13 Miami (FL) at #20 Clemson: I'm on the Clemson bandwagon with both feet. For a team supposedly lacking in heart, they've come to life with some stirring comeback victories already this year. And, I've got to love Charlie Whitehurst. Miami didn't impress me much in their loss to Florida State. Could it be a down year for the Sunshine state? The pick: Clemson.

    #21 Oklahoma at UCLA: Why is Oklahoma still ranked? Sure, they have Adrian Peterson, but they literally cannot pass. Even the Badgers were never so one dimensional. I don't think this one should even count as an upset. The pick: UCLA.

    #23 Fresno State at Oregon: Fresno State has beaten a Division 1-AA team. Big whoop. Now they go against those wacky Ducks. I have to say, as much as you might think I'd root for the underdog I do tend to go for the big conference schools. Small conference schools and independents don't understand how tough it is in a big conference. Even the crummy teams get up for conference games. Anyway, the pick: Oregon.

    Wisconsin at North Carolina: North Carolina had one of the nation's worst defenses last year. Wisconsin has one of the nation's best offenses so far this year. This game could be another blowout. Weather (i.e. Hurricane Ophelia) might turn out to be the great equalizer. We know now that Brian Calhoun is a great back, but is he a mudder? Was his mother a mudder? Will it even matter. I don't think so. The pick: Wisconsin.

    #8 Florida State at #17 Boston College: Florida State looked like crap in their win vs. Miami. I don't know much about Boston College but I think that their crowd is going to be up up up for a long-anticipated home game against the Seminoles. I think that that kind of emotion will play a big part in the game. My pick: Boston College.

    #5 Tennessee at #6 Florida: Florida killed a cupcake last week, while Tennessee barely beat one the week before. I think the Florida's sharpness, and the fact that they're playing at home, tip the scales in their favor. The pick: Florida. At least on of the big Florida three wins. Yay them.

    Posted by at 07:39 AM | Comments (3)


    September 15, 2005

    Survivor Guatemala Week 1 Recap

    [Posted by james]

    Probst kicks off the season by telling us that we're in Guatemala, surrounded by Mayan Ruins, Crocodiles, Jaguars, and Poisonous snakes (oh my!) We're told that 18 strangers and walking to their new camp where a "Big Surprise" awaits them - by now the news is filled with reports that the "surprise" is that 2 former castaways will be joining the cast two "incredibly popular" stars - my guess is that it's gonna be Colby and Stephanie. We'll see.

    ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. blah blah blah. duh duh dunt!

    The survivors start out in the middle of some ancient ruins, and Probst says "you're going to live in these ruins just like the Mayans did." OK - first of all, they weren't "ruins" when the Mayans lived there. And second of all, doesn't that strike you as a TERRIBLE idea?

    Nakum (nah-koom), wearing yellow
    Yaxha (ya-shaa), wearing blue

    Here comes the big surprise: the two secret players are Bobby Jon and Stephanie. Heck, why didn't I keep of that? Duh. OK, as you may remember, those two were the last surviving two from the season where one tribe was completely decimated by the other.

    Bobby Jon joins Nakum
    Stephanie joins Yaxha

    Probst says this place is dangerous as hell, crocs live in every body of water. The teams enter into a long trek contest to see which team gets the "better" camp.

    The Yaxha team heads out and spends some time trying to learn to pronounce their tribe name. They do the usual wandering around with the compass and being lost. Ex-NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom is member of Yaxha, and he confides in us that he isn't going to tell anyone that he played in the NFL for 9 years. My guess is that he gets away with it.

    Dark falls on Guatamala and Yaxha looks to be taking a break.

    Read the rest of this Recap at ZEBRALITY

    Posted by jkhat at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)


    Survivor Guatamala Episode 1 Recap - Voted Off

    [Posted by james]

    Probst kicks off the season by telling us that we're in Guatamala, surrounded by Mayan Ruins, Crocodiles, Jaguars, and Poisonous snakes (oh my!) We're told that 18 strangers and walking to their new camp where a "Big Surprise" awaits them - by now the news is filled with reports that the "surprise" is that 2 former castaways will be joining the cast two "incredibly popular" stars - my guess is that it's gonna be Colby and Stephanie. We'll see.

    ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. ay, ya, ya, ya ya, ya ya ya yooooo.. blah blah blah. duh duh dunt!

    The survivors start out in the middle of some ancient ruins, and Probst says "you're going to live in these ruins just like the Mayans did." OK - first of all, they weren't "ruins" when the Mayans lived there. And second of all, doesn't that strike you as a TERRIBLE idea?

    Nakum (nah-koom), wearing yellow
    Yaxha (ya-shaa), wearing blue

    Here comes the big surprise: the two secret players are Bobby Jon and Stephanie. Heck, why didn't I keep of that? Duh. OK, as you may remember, those two were the last surviving two from the season where one tribe was completely decimated by the other.

    Bobby Jon joins Nakum
    Stephanie joins Yaxha

    Probst says this place is dangerous as hell, crocs live in every body of water. The teams enter into a long trek contest to see which team gets the "better" camp.

    The Yaxha team heads out and spends some time trying to learn to pronounce their tribe name. They do the usual wandering around with the compass and being lost. Ex-NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom is member of Yaxha, and he confides in us that he isn't going to tell anyone that he played in the NFL for 9 years. My guess is that he gets away with it.

    Dark falls on Guatamala and Yaxha looks to be taking a break.

    Read the rest of this Recap at ZEBRALITY

    Posted by jkhat at 08:16 PM | Comments (3)


    A Liberal Government in Action

    [Posted by ]

    Madison, Wisconsin is well for many things, but among college students, it may be best known for its Halloween parties. Sports Illustrated even listed as one of the "100 Things You Gotta Do Before You Graduate". Every year, students, townies and visitors from other colleges converge on State Street to check out the creative costumes, drink and, unfortunately, riot. The last few years, bar time was like a green light for idiots to start smashing things and setting stuff on fire.

    Naturally, Madison's Mayor Dave and the Police Dept. aren't too happy with this development. Mayor Dave even toyed with instituting martial law on Halloween weekend (not that I think he could even legally do that), The latest solution is to require downtown bars to close early for Halloween. This is a terrible idea and shows an absolute lack of creative policy-making ability on the part of Madison's so-called "progressive" government.

    All closing bars early will do is make a riot, if it happens, happen earlier in the evening. Riots happen when large numbers of people spill onto the streets at the same time. By making bars close early, the city simply increases the size of the crowd and gives them longer to do damage before they pass out. If the city did the opposite, and allowed bars to stay open later, then they might actually have something. People would trickle out, rather than pour out. Some people would leave at 1. Some would leave at 2. Some hard core folks would stay in and drink until 4.

    Why not try some creative solutions? College kids are going to drink on Halloween. It's a fact. You can't solve that "problem". But you can be creative in trying to minimize it.

    I'm surprised at the way Madison liberals are handling this problem. It makes no sense considering how they tackle other issues. For example, Madison liberals take it as a fact that illegal immigrants will come into America. Instead of trying to stop that, they want to help them integrate themselves into the community by giving them low interest home loans. Liberals are among the most vocal proponents of the legalization of recreational drugs. You can't stop people from doing drugs, so you might as well clear up the court system, right?

    So, why not take that same approach with Halloween? You can't really stop students from partying on Halloween, so why not just take a more laissez-faire apprach rather than taking an approach that bar owners, downtown businesses and students will all find antagonist (and, may even be seen as egging them on to riot)?

    The only answer I can come up with is that Madison liberals have a very specific vision of the city. They don't want to be known as a beer-guzzling college town. They want to be a sophisticated, coastal oasis in the vast wasteland of flyover country. Students have no place in this vision. I really feel sorry for them. They are what make Madison special and too often the city treats them like an inconvenience. Then, they wonder why we have a brain drain. In the end, Madison is hardly a shining example of progressive politics, is it?

    Posted by at 01:01 PM | Comments (7)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    We've got a new feature. It's "Yay Day or Nay Day". Each Thursday (or until we get sick of it) we're going to ask a simple "yay" or "nay" question. Vote in the poll below and fee free to elaborate on your answer in the comments.

    Today's question is partially inspired by the upcoming Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's simple enough. Today's question is: Are pirates cool?

    So, what do you think? Is today a "Yay Day" or a "Nay Day"?

    Posted by at 12:18 AM | Comments (6)


    September 14, 2005

    Charities are for suckers: Ted Rall showcases his ignorance

    [Posted by james]

    A piece entitled "Charities are for suckers," penned by Ted Rall is running over at Yahoo. It's worth a read, because I think it accurately showcases the biggest problem with our government today - namely, the ignorant fools like Ted Rall that have a fundamental lack of knowledge about the founding and history of our nation.

    Rall starts out:

    Hurricane Katrina has prompted Americans to donate more than $700 million to charity, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So many suckers, so little foresight.

    Government has been shirking its basic responsibilities since the '80s, when Ronald Reagan sold us his belief that the sick, poor and unlucky should no longer count on "big government" to help them, but should rather live and die at the whim of contributors to private charities.

    The man talks about "big government" as if it was something intended by the founders, happily flourishing for 200 years only to be destroyed just 30 years ago by Ronald Reagan. Give me a break. Anyone who's bothered to read a book about the history of our nation not assigned by their Civics teacher knows that "big government" was specifically not intended. Not to say that a government can't be designed with that aim in mind -many governments have been, just not ours. Perhaps Rall meant to cite to Cuba, China, to the now defunct U.S.S.R., or to one of the many, many, many other governments intended to operate as he describes. He has the power of sheer numbers on his side - Rall need look only to the ash heap of history for thousands of examples.

    Why should New Orleans' dispossessed have to live in private shelters? We live in the United States, not Mali.

    It's exactly because we live in the United States, Mr. Rall. I suppose one could make the same argument about anything, "Why should citizens have to buy their own cars? We live in the United States, not Mali."

    It's ridiculous, but people evidently need to be reminded that the United States is not only the world's wealthiest nation but the wealthiest society that has existed anywhere, ever.

    And others need to be reminded just how the United States attained that status.

    The U.S. government can easily pick up the tab for people inconvenienced by bad weather--if helping them is a priority ... Cutting a check to the Red Cross isn't just a vote for irresponsible government. It's a drop in the bucket compared to what you'll end up paying for Katrina in increased taxes.

    This aptly demonstrates the ignorance of so many like Rall - he doesn't want individuals to have to pay for the disaster recovery efforts - instead, he wants the government to pay for it. Where does Mr. Rall think that the government gets its money?

    I'm reminded of Congressman Crockett's famous Not Yours To Give speech, delivered on the floor when the House was debating appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer.

    "Mr. Speaker--I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, ...

    We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased.

    "Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

    He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

    To hear Rall's version of history, you'd think that the above quoted speech was given by the evil Ronald Reagan in 1983, not by Representative Crockett over 150 years ago.

    If you were to ask Ted Rall, he'd probably have no idea that the famed and storied, universally revered and widely heralded Davey Crocket was a Congressman.

    Posted by jkhat at 06:10 PM | Comments (8)


    The Face of Entitlement, part XXXVI

    [Posted by John Tant]

    This was going to be a daily link, but I think this kind of thing needs a little more visibility:

    To wit, Congressman William Jefferson, whose district includes New Orleans, used National Guard troops to check on his house and pick up some of his belongings.

    Military sources tells ABC News that Jefferson, an eight-term Democratic congressman, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. A 5-ton military truck and a half dozen military police were dispatched.

    Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News that during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street, in the affluent uptown neighborhood in his congressional district. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request.

    Jefferson's side of the story?

    Jefferson defended the expedition, saying he set out to see how residents were coping at the Superdome and in his neighborhood. He also insisted that he did not ask the National Guard to transport him.

    "I did not seek the use of military assets to help me get around my city," Jefferson told ABC News. "There was shooting going on. There was sniping going on. They thought I should be escorted by some military guards, both to the convention center, the Superdome and uptown."

    Wait. "He" did not seek the use of military assets? Then who asked for the 5-ton truck and the MPs? What, we're supposed to believe he just mosied up to the city limits, was recognized, and said "here, take some men and a truck?"

    Pull the other one.

    And that still doesn't explain/excuse what happened next:

    The water reached to the third step of Jefferson's house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson's front lawn so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.

    Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.

    We're then told the truck got stuck, and the MPs distress-signaled a helicopter to get Jefferson out, but he refused. They spent 45 minutes there before leaving. The NG then had to send ANOTHER 5-ton truck to rescue the first truck.

    All resources that could have been used to rescue people.

    I'm wondering if we'll see pictures of Jefferson carrying his laptop out of his house with the same ubiquity that Kos posted that picture of Bush playing a guitar.....

    Posted by John Tant at 08:58 AM | Comments (3)


    September 12, 2005

    An American Liberal in NASCAR Land

    [Posted by ]

    Eric, the Viking Pundit links to a LA Times article about a liberal venturing out in search of the ever-elusive "NASCAR dad".

    The writer, Jack Burditt says:

    Some of my real liberal friends talk about NASCAR as the personification of evil. I take a more inquisitive approach to politics. That's why last weekend I headed to Fontana, which I recently discovered is in California, to attend NASCAR's Sony HD 500.

    At first, Burditt finds a couple of guys who don't speak English and some scantily-clad ladies. Hmmm, I think, is this going to be an article about how NASCAR is far more diverse than just a bunch of good 'ole boys (never meaning no harm)? Well, not exactly.

    With the help of the aforementioned scantily-clad ladies, Burditt hooks up with some "real" NASCAR dads. Lo and behold, he finds that, after Hurricane Katrina, they don't like Bush either!:

    Another NASCAR dad, wearing an "I Fear No Beer" T-shirt, told me he enjoys the new respect for NASCAR fans. He said they used to be regarded as Confederate flag-waving yahoos who only went for the crashes. In fact, I think that used to be NASCAR's motto. Anyway, I found out he was a big Bush supporter but that he too was sorely disappointed with the president's hurricane response. Two men don't make a Gallup poll, but I found this interesting.

    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the point here is that NASCAR fans are Confederate flag-waving yahoos, but that even Confederate flag-waving yahoos hate Bush now, sample of two be damned.

    I hate to be a naysayer, but are you telling me that at a NASCAR race, this reporter couldn't find a single person who approved of the President's performance? No one there said anything about the piss poor job of New Orleans' Democrat-led government? No one maybe mentioned something about how the idiots that decided to "ride this one out" should probably get a bill for their rescue? Not a single Confederate flag-waving yahoo bitched about their taxes going to bail people out who made the conscious decision to live in an area particularly susceptible to hurricanes? I listen to a lot of people, and I've certainly heard those sentiments expressed and if this reporter didn't it was only because he had his ears covered.

    I've seen this approach before. Back before the election, the LA Times sent a reporter out to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Then, the reporter couldn't find a single western Wisconsinite who supported our efforts in Iraq.

    Writing about media bias gets old pretty quick. But, I don't think this is quite media bias. It's something else entirely. In stories like this the author finds these people from different, traditionally conservative cultures (hunters, NASCAR fans) and tries to humanize them for his urban, liberal audience. What I find so incredibly offensive is the way they try to do this. These writers try to humanize conservatives by taking away their conservative views. They can only relate to conservative NASCAR dads if those dads express displeasure with the President. A Wisconsin hunter is only not scary and worth quoting if he echoes the author's view on the war in Iraq.

    As a conservative, I know full well that whenever you express a liberal or libertarian view, they'll be at least three lefties telling you that you're not really a conservative and that you should give the Democratic Party a spin. It's like it's so drilled into these peoples' heads that conservatives are evil that if they find themselves having any sort of political or personal agreement with a conservative they need to conclude that that person can't possibly be a conservative. And so NASCAR dads are neutered and Wisconsin stereotypes are sanitized.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I have friends and family all across the political spectrum (well, except commies, I don't know no stinkin' commies). We don't relate to each other just about politics. There's more to life than politics (gasp!). But, at the same time, I don't pretend that my liberal friends are really conservatives in disguise. To deny them their beliefs seems like the ultimate lack of respect. And, if nothing else, this LA Times article is just another piece of evidence of how some in the liberal elite have nothing but contempt for the conservative masses.

    Posted by at 08:08 PM | Comments (27)


    9/11 Tribute in Madison Gets it Right

    [Posted by ]

    I meant to go take a picture of this cool 9/11 tribute from the Mendota Beacon on UW-Madison's Bascom Hill yesterday, but the Ironman traffic made traveling downtown nearly impossible. So, even though it's not original photography, it's still pretty nice:

    There's a flag for each victim of the attacks. It's a much more fitting memorial then either the International Freedom Center or the Crescent of Embrace.

    After seeing the excellent Flight 93 documentary, The Flight That Fought Back on the Discovery Channel last night, I'm even more upset about the horrible crescent-shaped memorial to those brave men and women. I don't buy that it's just a coincidence that the memorial incorporates the Islamic symbol. Especially when the center of said crescent just happens to point towards Mecca.

    I find it very hard to believe that either than International Freedom Center or this Crescent will ever actually get built. Americans, outside of looney lefties, are not ones to flog themselves.

    Posted by at 07:20 AM | Comments (7)


    September 09, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 2

    [Posted by ]

    If you haven't done so already, head on over to Yahoo! and join our college football pick 'em contest. You'll need:

    Group ID: 22503
    Password: dummo

    Be sure to get your picks in today!

    Last week I went 5 for 6. Damn Notre Dame screwed me up. Blasted Touchdown Jesus.

    Although I'm mainly familiar with the Big Ten (plus one), I'm trying to pick some games in other conferences. I know almost nothing about them, but I'll do my best. Here we go:

    South Carolina at #9 Georgia: You gotta like the Gamecocks, although the addition of Steve Spurrier as coach makes me question that. One thing I don't question is how good Georgia is. They kicked the crap out of the Badgers in their bowl game last year. I think they'll do the same to the other USC. The pick: Georgia.

    #5 LSU at #15 Arizona State: A couple of thoughts here. First, ASU is good, but they're Pac 10 good, if you know what I mean (wink wink). Second, I think that LSU, despite the chaos of Katrina, has a big chance here. When something like that happens, a team will usually come out and play with a lot of emotion. A subpar team can probably keep that performance up for a half at most. But a good team should be able to do it for the whole game. I think LSU will be excited and relieved to finally hit the field. The pick: LSU

    #25 Clemson at Maryland: In his youth, former Packers quarterback David Whitehurst caught my older sister's eye. She thought he was one handsome devil. And now his son Charlie leads Clemson into the fray. I don't know if Charlie is as handsome as his father, but he's probably a better QB. Clemson has been something of an underachiever the last few years, but I feel like last week's win is the start of good things for them. The pick: Clemson.

    #20 Notre Dame at #3 Michigan: Last year I wrote:

    I don't know exactly how to react to Notre Dame's upset of Michigan. As another Big Ten school fan, I've learned to hate both teams with a passion.

    It got me to thinking, a game between Notre Dame and Michigan is the Middle East equivalent of a war between the United States and Israel. The rest of the Middle East would have no idea who to root for.

    I still don't know who to root for. Normally, you always root for the Big Ten, but this is Michigan. Of course, it's one thing to root and another thing to pick. Notre Dame surprised me last week, but this week they're the ones who will be surprised. I think that some of the highly ranked Big Ten teams are a bit overrated this year, but Michigan is still way better than Notre Dame, especially in the big house. The pick: Michigan.

    #2 Texas at #4 Ohio State: in the marquee matchup of the weekend, I'm torn. On one hand, in my limited viewing last year I noticed that no one in the Big 12 can tackle. But, Texas did beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State is making a huge deal about how this game is in the Horseshoe, but as a Wisconsin fan, I've seen just so-so Badger teams go in there and beat the crap out of the Buckeyes. But maybe they'll take Texas more seriously. My very tentative pick: Ohio State.

    Temple at Wisconsin: I don't think the Badgers will take this game too lightly since their defense was so bad last week. I think they're going to hit the field feeling like they've got something to prove. The pick: Wisconsin will win and win big.

    Posted by at 07:23 AM | Comments (12)


    September 08, 2005

    Hollywood ain't all bad

    [Posted by james]

    Seen in US NEWS this week:

    "I voted for Bush. ... I don't tell a lot of people because I live in a city where somebody who voted for Bush us really an outcast."

    --Dennis Hopper, the actor, a Republican since Reagan's election

    Posted by jkhat at 10:00 PM | Comments (4)


    Katrina Donations

    [Posted by ]

    So, I was just looking at the Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend blog donation leaderboard and I noticed that, apparently, Dummocrats readers have donated over $2 billion dollars.

    While I'd love to take credit for such generosity, clearly some jackass just put in a bogus donation or two. I'm pointing the finger at some of our most recent trolls.

    I'm really embarrassed and I hope no one thinks that we had anything to do with this. It annoys me to no end that people try to mess up things as good as bloggers' efforts to help Hurricane victims.

    Sometimes people just suck.

    Update: I emailed NZ Bear and the bogus contribution is already gone. But, the good news is that the effort has legitimately netted over $1.3 million for hurricane relief. I can't help but think how cool it would be if we really did have readers who were so philanthropy inclined.

    Posted by at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)


    College Football Contest

    [Posted by ]

    I'm going to continue to post some select college football picks each week, but I thought other people might want to play along too. Like we did with the NCAA basketball tournament, I've created a Yahoo! group for college football picks. Each week, you pick the winners of 17 games. At the end of the season, we'll send the winner something good. Of course, I could very well kick all of your butts, in which case I'll send myself something good ;-)

    So, if you'd like to play, just go here and join our group. You'll need:

    Group ID: 22503
    Password: dummo

    The league starts with Saturday's games, so hurry up and don't miss out!

    Update: It's not too late to join the pool. We just started in Week 2 and, let's face it, some of us will make enough bad picks that you'll be right back in the game! Join anytime. If we get enough people involved, we'll probably do something for winners on a weekly basis, so even if you get involved later in the season you can still have fun.

    Posted by at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)


    The Thrifty Food Plan

    [Posted by John Tant]

    Ace has a good post reminding us that when Tom Ridge suggested every household have an emergency stash of food, water, and necessities he was ridiculed mercilessly for it. Ace then points out:

    BTW, I grow weary of hearing about how the "poor can't afford to stockpile food." There are some truly with not a cent to their name, but most poor can buy, for example, rice, beans, tuna, and bottled water.


    Most people, no matter how poor, have some crap in their closets they've never bothered to eat but can in a pinch. Olives, crackers, Uncle Ben's rice, hell, even some chopped clams for that chowder you never actually made... they're all sitting up there, gathering dust, but able to be eaten if you can't eat anything else.

    And he's right. In fact, a few years ago food critic Jeffrey Steingarten did a piece about low-cost eating. From that I learned that the USDA has something called the Thrifty Food Plan which suggests food options and prices them out per week and per month.

    And as for what you eat under this plan, well the USDA has a recipe book loaded with suggestions. On page 14-15 of the cookbook you see a sample menu under the thrifty food plan (based on the one found in their periodical, Family Economics and Nutrition Review, volume 13 No. 1). I think it may even rise above the level of Gitmo cuisine. And best of all? The sample menu given, which is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack for a full week for a family of four, will run about $101.30 under the thrifty food plan (slightly more if the two kids are older).

    For a full week of food.

    And if you want to get non-perishable stuff like beans and rice, you can shave that down even more. After all, this is for an emergency, right? Bottom line, the ability to have a week's worth of food stockpiled is something that's available to most every person in America.

    Posted by John Tant at 08:32 AM | Comments (6)


    September 07, 2005

    A belated thank you

    [Posted by John Tant]

    Today in Northern Virginia the temperature is in the low eighties, a slight breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.

    My hearty thanks to the Bush Administration's policies for making this day possible.

    Posted by John Tant at 12:24 PM | Comments (6)


    Katrina: Pointing A Finger at the Media

    [Posted by ]

    Since so many in the media have seen fit to point the finger of blame for Katrina at President Bush, I think it's about time for some finger pointing in their direction. I'll leave which specific digit I'm using to your imagination.

    I was watching CBS tonight and before Big Brother aired there was a special episode of (I believe) 48 Hours. I wasn't really watching it, only listening to it, but that was still enough to set my bias meter off. The message of most of the stories was that there was simply no federal help to be found for the people of New Orleans. Note the specific emphasis on federal help. During the time I listened I heard no mention of the fact that New Orleans also has state and local government. Funny, isn't it? It's almost like the reporter wanted one specific person to blame for the misery of thousands. I wonder why that is?

    Not content with ignoring whatever responsibility the State of Louisiana and City of New Orleans might have towards its own taxpayers, the report also ignored the real and actual contributions of the federal government. For example, I heard no mention of the numerous rescues undertaken by crews from the USS Bataan or of the fact that the President personally called the Governor of Louisiana on Sunday the 28th to urge her to order a mandatory evacuation of the area. That's one hell of a reach down the ladder. But, apparently, that doesn't fit into the story of the idiotic, disorganized and distant President that some members of our press want to paint. If it doesn't fit, you mustn't report it, I guess.

    As with most things, however, there's some good with the bad. I saw Cokie Roberts on David Letterman tonight and she was pretty even handed. Letterman lobbed a nice softball to her, but she refused to place the blame solely on either the Bush Administration or the state and local governments. Of course, she did have some harsh words for FEMA (you've gotta point those fingers somewhere).

    Her thought was that FEMA was more effective before its inclusion into the Department of Homeland Security. She may have a point. We created this vast new organization and structure in order to improve coordination between departments. But is that the right way to do it? If you want to improve coordination, couldn't you just improve your processes, rather than adding two or three layers of bureaucracy? The fact that everyone reports to the same boss in no way insures that one hand knows what the other one is doing. At least it hasn't in my experience.

    I really don't know how good of a point Roberts made, but at least it was some constructive criticism. By examining it we may actually learn something to help us improve our responses to future disasters. Unfortunately, so many other members of the media seem obsessed with reporting "Bush hates blacks" kind of criticisms that offer nothing but another angle on how to "take down" the man the Left has targeted since January of 2001.

    It almost makes me physically ill that some people see Katrina not as a storm strong enough to have possibly killed thousands, but as a storm strong enough to kill a Presidency.

    Posted by at 01:01 AM | Comments (18)


    September 06, 2005

    Sean Penn accuses Bush of 'criminal negligence'

    [Posted by james]

    Says Penn:

    "There are people that are dying right now and I mean babies and old people and everybody in between - they're dying. There are people dying and (the US government are) not putting the boats in the water, I think that's criminal negligence. I don't think anybody ever anticipated the criminal negligence of the Bush administration in this situation."

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Penn traveled to New Orleans with his entourage and personal photographer, where he attracted the attention of national media as he mounted a failed rescue operation. Penn's latest finger-pointing accusation comes as he is coming under fire for staging rescue operations simply for publicity purposes. According to one account:

    With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

    Never missing an opportunity to get himself on camera, Penn has also given several interviews with cable news outlets.

    Posted by jkhat at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)


    September 05, 2005

    Good News from Metro New Orleans

    [Posted by Laura]

    In the spirit of Chrenkoff's postings on Iraq and Afghanistan, and in defiance of the media's over-reporting and exaggerating of the bad news - as if it is not bad enough on its own - here is some good news coming out of the New Orleans metro area:

    Mayor Nagin updates timeframe for cleanup - now reduced to 2 weeks for the water and an additional 2-4 weeks for cleanup.

    The French Quarter community is bouncing back - New Orleans still has some civilized residents left.

    Because New Orleans has endured enough tragedy for one year, the Saints will inflict themselves on play in San Antonio.

    More food and ice distribution centers have opened up in Jefferson Parish, immediately adjacent to Orleans.

    Evacuees without prescription coverage are being given free medication.

    In St. Bernard Parish, the pumping stations are running and the water is continuing to recede. Sheriff Stevens says there has been no looting in the parish.

    New Orleans gets 57,000 troops, order is restored to most of the city.

    The Army will begin to breach levees in order to drain Chalmette.

    No link, but compiled from personal reports and various message boards that have been created because of the hurricane - Electricity is available in quite a few areas of Jefferson Parish, which in spite of predictions did not suffer the level of flooding that residents were told to expect. Because Jefferson is being restored so rapidly, more help will be available to Orleans as the flood waters recede. Outlying parishes to the west have little or no damage and few outages.

    The essential character of New Orleans residents has not changed. Fun and food are still basic priorities. "I hear the fishing is good at the intersection of Napoleon Ave and S.Claiborne Ave. Plenty of Redfish and specks. Here's the latest tide info. High tide 7 am, low 9 pm. Range 1 ft."

    I hope to be home next week or the week after and reporting on this in person.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)


    A 15 Year Old's Take On The Media and Hurricane Katrina

    [Posted by Laura]

    My daughter and I were watching a reporter in Baton Rouge - Stephanie Something-or-other - on WWL report on how long the power is expected to be out in New Orleans. This Stephanie said that she had discussed it with the experts, with the people responsible for getting the power back on, and they told her that they expected to have it on in 6-8 weeks for most of the metro area. Stephanie then proceeded to say that she just did not see how that was possible given what she has been told by other people reporting on this problem. She spent at least twice as long explaining that the experts were wrong, in her opinion - and even said, I'm no engineer, but I just don't see how this is possible. She offered no evidence whatsoever. Only a vague reference to her chats with other reporters and bystanders.

    I asked my 15 year old daughter who is not a regular news watcher if she thought anything was wrong with the report. (We homeschool moms have to try to make a teachable moment out of everything. It's obnoxious, I know.) My daughter replied that she couldn't figure out why the reporter thinks she's smarter than the engineers and experts, and wondered why the reporter was trying to make things seem even worse than they already are.

    It's a good question. I still have friends missing. I know quite a few people who have lost everything they owned. A friend's husband fought the battle of the Convention Center and told her that he shot more people in that fracas than in Iraq and Bosnia combined. (What does that say about Iraq, I wonder... somebody page Chrenkoff.) I've read the reports about the looting and mayhem. I've been told that it will be a very long time before I can go home, although I'm not sure I believe that. Will the media ever be satiated with bad news? If this tragedy isn't enough to pacify their hunger, I'm afraid to speculate what would.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:29 AM | Comments (3)


    Bipartisan Stupidity on Hurricane Katrina

    [Posted by ]

    While the Left may think a horrible hurricane is their time to shine with a new round of anti-Bush rhetoric, they are, sadly, not alone. Those on the Right can be just as bad.

    I like to listen to AM radio when I drive any distance. This afternoon I was flipping channels when I came across a replay of a Charlie Sykes show from sometime earlier this week. Now, normally I like Sykes. We even link to him. Today, however, he was irritating me. One of his short hurricane-related rants made fun of Planned Parenthood for offering free birth control to Katrina refugees. Sykes acted like this was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard of. But what else should Planned Parenthood do? They're in the business of providing reproductive services to women. To help refugees they're doing what they're good at. Makes sense to me.

    To my mind, Sykes and others used this bit of news as an opportunity to attack an organization he doesn't like (and for no good reason at all). It's just like the Left using the hurricane to attack Bush, global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels.

    Some of us are just political animals. We live and breathe politics. But, there are times when thinking politics first makes us nothing more than, well, animals. I think this is one of those times.

    Posted by at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)


    September 04, 2005

    Could Kerik have saved the day?

    [Posted by james]

    On his FOX news show, Geraldo Rivera made an interesting assertion: If Bernard Kerik had been confimed as Homeland Security chief, this Hurricane Katrina relief effort would have been handled a lot differently. "Bernie," said Geraldo, to the man who withdrew his name from contention after questions about the immigration status of his nanny arose, "I was on the roof with you in Baghdad. This, Bernie, is Baghdad all over again."

    I don't know what Kerik was doing in Baghdad with Geraldo, but I do know that he was responsible for coordinating what was the largest disaster recovery effort ever mounted in the United States. Well, up until a week ago, that is. That alone was enough to get my attention - if anyone would know what he is talking about, it's surely Bernie Kerik.

    Kerik shared with the audience what he saw as the biggest stumbling blocks in the early relief effort - lack of a central information sharing point, lack of leadership, lack of control. He explained that the biggest problem was the lack of coordination between three different levels of government - local, state and federal. He didn't blame anyone, nor did he assert that he could have done a better job - he just acknowledged exactly what one would have to know before tackling a problem of this magnitude - that it would be hard, unlike anything that's ever been done before. Uncharted Territory.

    His opinions were interesting to hear, and were delivered without an ounce of arrogance, smugness or "I told you so" attitude. Kerik freely admitted that it is much easier to look back in retrospect and say what should have been done that it is to actually do the right thing at the time.

    After hearing the interview, I couldn't help but think that Geraldo was right. Despite his personal problems and his alleged questionable background, I'm sure of one thing: if Bernie Kerik was in charge on August 29th, things would have been done a lot differently. If Bernie Kerik was in charge, a lot more lives would have been saved.

    Posted by jkhat at 10:32 PM | Comments (2)


    Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard Slams FEMA, federal response (video)

    [Posted by james]

    Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard appeared on Meet the Press today where he slammed FEMA's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some of the criticisms he leveled:

    -- "It's not just Katrina that caused all of these deaths in New Orleans here - bureaucracy has commited murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy needs to stand trial before Congress, now."

    -- "Walmart delivered 3 trucks of water, FEMA turned them back, said we didn't need them."

    -- "We had 1000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel, the Coast Guard said "come and get the fuel." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, 'FEMA said don't give you the fuel.'"

    -- "FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communications lines [without notice]. The Sherriff ... came back in and re-connected them, and posted armed guards on the lines."

    Broussard stated his opinion that FEMA needs to be an independent agency, and that whoever is currently "at the top of the totem pole" needs to be fired.

    At one point, host Tim Russert asked, "Shouldn't the Mayor and Governor bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful & organized in evacuating the area?" Broussard, however, effectively dodged the question by focusing his response on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    Zebrality has the video

    Posted by jkhat at 06:05 PM | Comments (2)


    September 03, 2005

    Big Brother Recap - Week 10 - Saturday's Show

    [Posted by ]

    CBS has blocked out the live feeds since Thursday, so the result of tonight's episode was a mystery to us all. Here's what went down:

    We knew Howie nominated Ivette and Beau for eviction. But who would win the veto? I almost didn't find out because Holly (from Season 5) was the Veto Competition host and after about 2 seconds of her obnoxious voice and persona, I was tempted to change the channel. But, I gutted it out to see that Maggie won.

    With Maggie's victory, she was assured another week in the house, but the veto was a mixed blessing. Obviously Beau & Ivette wanted her to use it on them, but if she did, April would be put up. No matter what Maggie did, she was in danger of losing allies. In fact, Maggie hemmed and hawed so much that she almost succeeded in turning April against her. Sometimes you just have to make a quick decision and stick with it.

    Visit Zebrality for the rest of the recap.

    Posted by at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)


    September 02, 2005

    Actor Kanye West Ruins NBC Relief Show, declares 'George Bush doesn't care about black people'

    [Posted by james]

    Via Zebrality:

    During a nationally televised Hurricane Katrina relief show, actor Kayne West showed the world what he was made of as he went on a tirade against George W. Bush.

    "George Bush doesn't care about black people," West said. "They're saying black families are looting and white families are just looking for food...they're giving the (Army) permission to shoot us"

    NBC attempted to cut off the out-of-line remarks by cutting to a shot of actor Chris Tucker, but by then, the damage had already been done.

    Zebrality has the video.

    Technorai Tag:

    Posted by jkhat at 09:07 PM | Comments (26)


    College Football Picks-Week 1

    [Posted by ]

    And now for something completely football starts again this weekend. In fact, some teams played their first game last night. But frankly, I don't believe in that. Call me a backwards traditionalist if you must, but I think that college football should be played on Saturdays. Period. I also believe that the Rose Bowl should never be played on any day other than January 1st. "National Championship Game" be damned.

    Last year, I flirted with making some weekly college football picks. I'm no Lee Corso, but I'll do my best again this season. These are some of the big games on tap for the extended weekend:

    Miami at Florida State: Miami has won something like the last six meetings between these two teams and they're favored to win again. However, my feeling is that we've seen enough of Hurricanes this week and that the Florida State Seminoles (yes, Seminoles) will win. The pick: Florida State.

    Boise State at Georgia: The fact that this game is in Athens is about the only thing I think anyone needs to know. Boise State is a lion in Idaho and turns into a kitten anywhere else. Meow. The pick: Georgia.

    Wyoming at Florida: Wyoming is one of the sexy non-BCS conference picks this year. Like I said before, I'm a traditionalist and I think the big conferences are big for a reason (they're good). I think Florida's new coach will start off the season on the right foot. The pick: Florida.

    Miami (OH) at Ohio State: The MAC conference gets a lot of hype, but actually they haven't done that well against major conferences. Sure, they'll beat some of the lower rung teams in the Big Ten or Big 12, but this is one of the big boys. At home. I say they've got no chance. The pick: The Ohio State University.

    Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: Both teams have new coaches: Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Dave Wannstedt at Pitt. As a Big Ten school fan, I find it impossible to root for Notre Dame. And, on a non-emotional level, I just don't think they're nearly as good as Pittsburgh, especially on the road. The pick: Pittsburgh.

    Bowling Green at Wisconsin: Ah, my beloved Badgers open up the newly renovated Camp Randall against MAC powerhouse Bowling Green. The Badgers are favored, but I think the oddsmakers are crazy. You know what I said about the MAC above? Well, I don't think that applies here. I think Bowling Green is an exceptional team and that, unfortunately, my Badgers are a lower rung Big Ten team this year. That said, I still can't actually pick against them, even though my brain tells me too. The pick: Wisconsin.

    Posted by at 07:53 AM | Comments (5)


    September 01, 2005

    Houston Radio Station running Request-a-Thon to aid Katrina victims

    [Posted by james]


    Houston, TX based radio station KTBZ 94.5 "The Buzz" is running a Request-a-Thon to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

    Songs can be purchased from the Clear Channel-owned station by calling 713-212-KTBZ. Prices range from $30-$200, depending on whether the requested track is on the radio station's regular playlist. In addition to playing the requested song, the radio station will also read the donor's name on-air.

    Requests have been received from as far away as the former Soviet Union, and some donors have paid up to $1,000 to have their requests played.

    Listeners can tune in and listen online at

    Posted by jkhat at 01:42 PM | Comments (1)


    Hurricane Relief Blog Day

    [Posted by ]

    Update: View the Blog Leaderboard at TTLB. If you made a contribution today, you can also log it there. So far Hurricane Relief Blog Day has resulted in $163,000 for hurricane victims.

    We are participating in the Hurricane Relief Blog Day. Instapundit has tons of links to other participating blogs.

    Each blog chooses a preferred charity, although of course, I would urge you to donate to whatever organization you're most comfortable with. For Dummocrats, I chose Brett Favre Fourward Foundation:

    One hundred percent of all donations go straight to the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation. Deanna Favre, the president of the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, will disperse the funds and items to the appropriate organizations aiding hurricane victims in Mississippi.

    I chose Brett's foundation because as a Wisconsinite and a Packer fan I'm eternally grateful to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for bringing someone like Brett Favre to us. Seriously. The 1996 Super Bowl brought so much happiness to the state that the absolute least we can do is give something back to these folks in their hour of need. Since that Super Bowl, there's been a weird connection between Wisconsinites and Kiln, Mississippi. More than one Packer fans has made a pilgrimage to The Broke Spoke in town. So, in a way, Kiln is an unofficial sister city.

    So, please consider giving. Or, if you're in Madison, you can even drop off items that will be flown to the area on Sunday. Specifically, they're looking for:

    • Chainsaws
    • Hand saws
    • Work gloves
    • Work boots
    • Tarps
    • Rope, Chains
    • First Aid kits
    • Anti-Bacterial hand wash

    Technorati tags:

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)


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