Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

In other news, Roger Simon is an optimist.
Written by: Beck

The UN has crippled any attempts at reforming itself. Unsurprisingly, I am unsurprised. What does surprise me a bit is that Roger Simon--who at times has been one of the only bloggers still covering the Oil-for-Food scandal--is announcing the death knell of the United Nations as a consequence. Much as I would delight were he right, I'm disinclined to trust his optimism. The money 'graph:
Over the next few days, speeches will be made by world leaders, advances proclaimed and journalistic appraisals written, but what we are watching are the death throes of an organization. Even after the revelation that the United Nations had presided over the greatest financial scam in world history, the Iraq Oil-for-Food programme, the organization was not able to make the most paltry effort at reforming itself. No one - certainly not the United States - is going to give it serious funding from now on. The UN is now a ghost ship, heading up the East River. Wave good-bye. It's gone.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The State is Not Your Friend
Written by: Beck

New Orleans has ordered mandatory evacuation of the few people choosing to remain within the city--to be forcibly removed if necessary. I find it sickeningly ironic that there now is a plan to get citizens out of New Orleans... after the hurricane has moved well off into the past tense.

Naturally, preparatory to the forcible removal of people from their property, all weapons, including legally registered weapons, are to be confiscated. And no, I don't think this is some sort of sinister conspiracy or portent of things to come. I just think it's stupid policy which egregiously violates the rights of a free and proud people (often known as "Americans").

Some choice excerpts:
Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.

But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property
[showing farcical this little charade really is --ed]. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.


[Superintendent of police P. Edwin] Compass said he could not disclose when New Orleans residents might be forced to leave en masse, but other police officers and law enforcement officials said the city planned to start as early as tonight.

The city's Police Department and federal law enforcement officers from agencies like the United States Marshals Service will lead the evacuation, Mr. Compass said. Officers will search houses in both dry and flooded neighborhoods, and no one will be allowed to stay, he said.

Many of the residents still in the city said they did not understand why the city remained intent on forcing them out.

"I know the risks," said Renee de Pontchieux, as she sat on a stool outside Kajun's Pub in the working-class Bywater neighborhood east of downtown. "We used to think we lived in America - now we're not so sure. Why should we allow this government to chase us out and allow people from outside to rebuild our homes? We want to rebuild our homes."


Among the authorities, though, some confusion lingered about how a widespread evacuation by force would work, and how much support it would get at the federal and state level. Mayor C. Ray Nagin told the police and the military on Tuesday to remove all residents for their own safety, and on Wednesday, the police superintendent, Mr. Compass, said state laws give the mayor the authority to declare martial law and order the evacuations.

"There's a martial law declaration in place that gives us legal authority for mandatory evacuations," Mr. Compass said. "We'll use the minimum amount of force necessary."

But because the New Orleans Police Department has only about 1,000 working officers, the city is largely in the hands of National Guard troops and active-duty soldiers.

State officials said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco could tell the Guard to carry out the forced removals, but they stopped short of a commitment to do so. In Washington, Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge, deputy commander of the United States Northern Command, said regular troops "would not be used" in any forced evacuation.

The state disaster law does not supersede either the state or federal Constitutions, said Kenneth M. Murchison, a law professor at Louisiana State University. But even so, Mr. Nagin's decision could be a smart strategy that does not violate fundamental rights, Professor Murchison said.
That last statement really boggles, doesn't it? How did this guy ever attain a Ph. D. if he's capable of declaring a person can be denied both liberty and property without violating fundamental rights? What rights are more fundamental than life, liberty, and property?

And $50 says this same professor believes that "free access to quality health care" is a fundamental right.

The state is not your friend.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In which, having spent 20 years of my life in Houston, I make a statement on its behalf
Written by: Beck

On behalf of the City of Houston, I'd like to cordially invite the New York Times to go fuck itself.

Laurence Simon has more. And more.

On Katrina politicization
Written by: Beck

Have a look at this, and also read this.

Don't worry, they're quick reads.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Watch while I fact-check CNN's ass
Written by: Beck

From an online article titled Attention now turning to the dead:
That state's governor, Rick Perry, has asked other states to open their doors to the storm evacuees, who are stretching the emergency resources of the Longhorn State.
Longhorn state? Well, the University of Texas mascot is the longhorn, but calling Texas the longhorn state is not generally advised outside of Austin. But you were close. Eight letters, starts with an 'L'. Two words though, so I guess you weren't that close.

So just remember folks, don't mess with Texas, the Lone Star State.

And there you were thinking I was going to rant about the hurricane some more.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sinking to the occasion
Written by: Beck

Do you remember the reaction of the country after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? I do. I can remember Al Gore stepping in front of a camera and announcing that the nation needed to rally together, that it wasn't a time for politics. The whole country came together; moreover, we knew who was to blame: the people who had flown airplanes into buildings.

Later there would be time for mumbling about root causes, pointing of fingers, and debating whether the attacks could have been prevented. Questions were to be asked of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Bush administration, the Clinton administration... scholars would even argue that mishandled Middle East foreign policy as far back as the Carter administration & earlier were all contributory. Ultimately, though, no one (at least no one worth listening to) forgot that ultimate blame rested with the terrorists themselves.

If parents do a poor job of raising their child and that child later grows into a murderer, the parents are certainly guilty of a degree of contributory negligence, but the moral responsibility ultimately rests on the shoulders of the person who pulled the trigger.

As such, I am astonished, dismayed, and disgusted by the reaction to the disaster following hurricane Katrina. Much like after September 11, there will be time to analyze what could have been done differently, to ask whether the magnitude of the disaster could have been lessened, and yes, to lay some blame. But right now, isn't it time for the country once again to be pulling together? Shouldn't we be focused on helping those desperately in need of help? What's more, shouldn't we try to remember that ultimately, this tragedy was caused by a hurricane? A force of nature. An act of God. So I ask you, what the fuck is wrong with people who feel the overwhelming need to score political points at a time like this?!?

Was the Bush administration supposed to turn the hurricane from its path? Should we have expected them to defy the laws of space and time, causing a massive relief effort to materialize instantly, delivering shelter, warm beds, sanitation, food, water, and other necessities to tens of thousands of people cut off on an island where all the outlying infrastructure has been destroyed?

What the fuck is wrong with people who can look at hundreds--perhaps thousands--of dead, tens of thousands of the newly homeless, hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and the first thing they can think to contribute is vile, bitter spewing about politics?

I've always held something of a feeling of disgust for the many institutions that constitute and support modern government. Be they bureaucrats, politicians, lobbyists, or any other of the vast array of individuals and institutions that exist only because of the Government, they always fill me with feelings of mistrust. I've never understood why someone would want to work for the government, and I've never trusted people who strive to attain elected office. Gone are the days when people viewed public service as an obligation incumbent upon responsible citizens. Gone are the days of people like Anson Jones (the last president of the Republic of Texas) who refused to campaign for the presidency, arguing that such behavior was inappropriate for someone who sought to serve rather than be served.

Then there are those--like, for instance, myself--who spend a great deal of their time talking about politics. Arguing. Discussing. Debating. And considering the state of modern-day politics, to endorse any particular side, to support a party or a position, one must necessarily enter into an unholy union with the very people who typically deserve little more than our collective contempt. We lower ourselves to their levels when we try to justify their actions... actions which most often ultimately can be boiled down to varying forms of state sponsored theft and/or state sponsored slavery.

But never have I been as disgusted with the level of political discourse as I have been in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I'll provide you with one example, though there have been hundreds in the past few days which would amply illustrate my point.

Borrowed from Protein Wisdom: in April 2005, the New York Times editorial board observed:
Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America’s rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects — this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences… [...]

This is a bad piece of legislation
While last Thursday's New York Times offers this:
While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?
The coverage of this disaster has been packed with so many double standards, cheap shots, irrelevancies, fabrications, outright misstatements, misrepresentations, and other raw drek that I can hardly stomach it anymore.

Has the whole world gone mad?

No need to answer that, I already know.

In which I ask a rhetorical question prompted by the complete lack of reason in the coverage of and reaction to various current events
Written by: Beck

Have you all lost your fucking minds?

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