Monday, October 31, 2005

Wilma Blues 

Still no power, and no power company workers in the neighborhood, either.

A local pizza parlor is open for take-out, and so we had a neighborhood pizza party yesterday. Had to call about three hours in advance and the choice was cheese or pepperoni.

The supposed purpose was to watch the Dolphins game, but the conversation centered around creative ways to enhance the power of generators and repair roofs. The weather reports predict rain tonight or tomorrow, so we should get a good idea of just how bad our roofs were damaged.

More stories about people taking off to the west coast (of Florida) for generators and chain saws. Home Depot has the latter in stock here, but only the professional lumberjack model. Also in short supply -- gas containers. Apparently they're hard to find as far away as the Tampa Bay area.

There was no consensus on whether or not Halloween would (or should) happen tonight, although Moms seemed to be against it and Dads thought the kids should give it a shot.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Post Wilma Posting 

Bark Bark Woof Woof reports that things are "getting back to normal for a lot of us."

Not here in northeast Broward County.

Although there are some gas stations getting back to business (with generators) and a very few traffic signals operating, for the majority of residences there will still be a lengthy wait until electricity is restored. In my neighborhood there are still power poles down (on the ground) and a number leaning at a 45 degree angle.

Article in the Sun-Sentinel says Florida Power & Light has been neglecting routine inspections of its poles -- especially in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Also, the Sun-Sentinel reports that it could be a year before some roofing materials are readily available . . . at any price.

Finally, GO GATORS. I'll be watching on a 2 inch battery-powered television.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Phones are back but power still out. A tremendous amount of destruction -- fortunately few casualties.

We lost a lot of foliage and had two cars damaged by falling limbs. Neighbor's boat ended up in their pool (before a tree fell in on top of screened enclosure).

Big concern is availabilty of gas -- for generators and vehicles. Power will take quite a while to be restored as many poles are down. It was reported that every traffic light in Broward County was knocked out by Wilma.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Oh, Bother! 

Michael Froomkin is not a happy camper:

There's a Late Byzantine feel to America these days: corrupt leaders stealing what they can, infrastructure crumbling, people dying in the (flooded) street, distant losing wars far away, governmental torture, waste, fraud, internecine disputes among the leadership.

I'm aware that one of the biggest reasons we're in such a pickle is that we have serious problems with our electoral system. It's not just that money talks much louder than it should; nor is it simply that most of the major electronic media outlets are owned by radical right-wingers. Several are transparently managed in a politically biased manner which relies on a combination of lies, distraction and suppression of inconvenient people and facts. Combine all that with the terrible voting system and, perhaps worst of all, serious systematic gerrymandering and you get the Congress we have: a body in which the large majority of members are elected for life, or nearly so, at least so long as they truckle properly to the sources of re-election cash.
To make matters worse, the person who represents the Congressional district in which Froomkin lives is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Digital Diplomacy 

Cuba is using the internet to make its case against the United State's embargo on trade and travel to the island nation. The website,Cuba vs Bloqueu, is almost entirely in Spanish, but you don't have to know the language to get the point.

(via South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Name of the Game 

The Sun-Sentinel's Michael Mayo points out that cronyism isn't just a problem in Washington and Tallahassee. It's alive and well in South Florida, too.


One of the rites of passage in college is sitting down at 11:00 PM to write the ten-page paper due at 9:00 AM the next morning. Resourceful students can pull it off, but the results are often disappointing.

Such appears to be the case with an editorial in the Independent Florida Alligator on Florida's new "shoot in self-defense" law. The editorial writer seems to have had an idea to start with, but once he or she began writing that idea careened around like Mr. Toad on a jaunt through the countryside.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Trust Means Never Having to Verify 

The Sun-Sentinel's Stephen Goldstein notes a forthcoming book on Governor Bush's efforts at privatization. Written by Sue Tennant, a former state human resources manager worked over 31 years for the State, it's title is The Fleecing of Florida, Privatization in the Shadows of the Sunshine State.

One of the common theme of Florida's privitization travails is Governor Bush's unwillingness to impose standards to determine whether or not the State is getting its money's worth from these initiatives. Goldstein observes that "Jeb makes kids take the FCAT so that teachers and schools can be held responsible for academic progress. But he gives private companies your tax dollars without asking for proof that we're getting what we pay for."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Trust Who? 

One of the participants on the past Sunday's Meet the Press was Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land staunchly defended the President's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Asked why, he responded:
Because I trust the president and this president is not those previous presidents. George W. Bush, if he's anything, is a man of his word. And if there's any issue that he's earned the trust of conservatives on, it's this issue. He has held steadfast and put up stellar nominees in the face of unprecedented opposition from the Daschle-led clack in the Senate and never backed down, never blinked, never flinched. He picked a person he's known for 15 years, and I believe he picked her because he knows her that well and he knows that she will vote the way he would want her to vote.
Dr. Land seems to have forgotten the Biblical admonition, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." (Psalms 146.3).

I find it a little creepy for a major religious organization to so closely tie itself to an individual rather than a particular issue. If a church believes that abortion or gay marriage is a sin, then argue for that cause, but to become the spokesperson for a political leader is, well, just a bit too "worldly."

UPDATE: Eric Muller finds Dr. Land's ass-kissing "nauseating."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Arguing with Bush 

Juan Cole examines President Bush's recent speech on the war on terrorism and, not suprisingly, finds it misguided propaganda, at best.

"The Price He Pays for Being" 

Leonard Pitts is one of America's best columnists.

William Bennett is one of America's biggest gasbags.

Pitts in today's Miami Herald:
My youngest son was arrested last year.

Police came to my house looking for an armed robbery suspect, five-feet eight-inches tall with long hair. They took my son, six-foot-three with short braids. They made my daughter, 14, fresh from the shower and dressed for bed, lie face down in wet grass and handcuffed her. They took my grandson, 8, from the bed where he slept and made him sit on the sidewalk beside her.

My son, should it need saying, hadn't done a damn thing. In fact, I was talking to him long distance -- I was in New Orleans -- at the time of the alleged crime. Still, he spent almost two weeks in jail. The prosecutor asked for a high bail, citing the danger my son supposedly posed.

A few weeks later, the prosecutor declined to press charges, finally admitting there was no evidence. The alleged perpetrator of the alleged crime, a young man who was staying with us, did go on trial. There was no robbery, he said. The alleged victim had picked a fight with him, lost and concocted a tale. A surveillance video backed him up. The jury returned an acquittal in a matter of hours.

But the damage was done. The police took a picture of my son the night he was arrested. He is on his knees, hands cuffed behind him, eyes fathomless and dead. I cannot see that picture without feeling a part of me die.

So I take personally what William Bennett said. For those who missed it, Bennett, former education secretary and self-appointed arbiter of all things moral, said last week on his radio program that if you wanted to reduce crime, "you could . . . abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

The comment has been widely denounced. Bennett says critics are quoting him out of context, leaving out his denunciation of the idea and the fact he was criticizing a thesis that holds that making abortion readily available to low-income women in the '70s led the U.S. crime rate to drop in the '90s.

Fine. I get all that. But see, my anger doesn't stem from any mistaken belief that Bennett wants to practice eugenics on black mothers. No, what bothers me is his easy, almost causal conflation of race and crime. Not class and crime, not culture and crime, but race and crime. As if black, solely and of itself, equals felony.

It's a conflation that comes too readily to too many. The results of which can be read in studies such as the one the Justice Department co-sponsored in 2000 that found black offenders receive substantially harsher treatment at every step along the way than white ones with similar records.

They can also be read in that picture of my son, eyes lifeless and dull with the realization of How Things Are.

I once asked a black police officer who was uninvolved in the case how his colleagues could have arrested a six-foot-three man while searching for a five-foot-eight suspect. They were looking for a black man, he said. Any black man would do.

So how do I explain that to my son? Should I tell him to content himself with the fact that to some people, all black men look alike, all look like criminals?

Actually I don't have to explain it at all. A few months back, my son was stopped by police and cited for driving with an obstructed windshield. The "obstruction" was one of those air fresheners shaped like a Christmas tree.

So my son gets it now. Treatment he once found surprising he now recognizes as the price he pays for being. He understands what the world expects of him.

I've watched that awful knowledge take root in three sons now. In a few years, I will watch it take root in my grandson, who is in the fifth grade.

The conflation of black and crime may be easy for William Bennett, but it never gets any easier for me.
And with smug scolds like Bennett, it doesn't get any easier for our nation.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hall of Shame 

Here are the nine Senators who voted against the McCain Amendment "that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held:"
Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)

I disagree with most of Sen. McCain's positions, but can hardly argue with this statement by him: "We are not simply any other country. We stand for something more in the world -- a moral mission, one of freedom and democracy and human rights at home and abroad."

Can you?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Half a Loaf? 

Governor Bush has reversed himself (flip-flopped?) and now supports oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf, off Florida's shores.

The Gov says he is bowing to political reality and trying to get the best deal for Florida, but his actions undercut the efforts of virtually every other member of the Florida Congressional delegation to protect Florida's beaches.

Does the hit his brother is taking over rising gas prices and the heightening public perception of the President being asleep at the switch influence Governor Bush's change of heart? What's a brother for?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

One Florida . . . If You Can Afford It 

The Bush brothers are not overly concerned when the facts don't support their initiatives, so we shouldn't be surprised that Governor Bush continues to tout his One Florida program despite the lowest percentage of black freshmen in the State University System since 1999. In large part this is due to the increasing price of higher education (one of the Republicans' stealth taxes)which is making it harder for those from the lower economic brackets to access our four-year universities.

The Palm Beach Post calls on the governor to follow University of Florida's President Machen's lead and provide the resources needed to make a university education a realistic prospect for all eligible Floridians.

Monday, October 03, 2005

So That's the Problem 

According to ever insightful Truth or Death, President Bush's problem is that "he's been far to busy pandering to liberals . . ."

TorD laments that "True Conservatives" have not found a fuhrer leader to rally around.

America for Sale 

The National Coalition for History reports that California Republican Congressman Richard Pombo has proposed selling off a number of National Parks and Historic Sites.
Among his ideas that purportedly are designed to save the government $2.4 billion is a proposal to sell no fewer than 15 national parks, including a number of historical sites: the Eugene O’Neill National Historical Site in Danville, California; the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania; the Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Arizona; the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, Washington D.C.; and the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Maryland, as well as a number of smaller, less visited natural areas most of which are located in Alaska, including the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve; the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve; and the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. If all the parks were sold off as Pombo wants, the total land holdings of the NPS would be reduced by 23 percent thus saving the government billions over a period of years.

In addition to the park closures, Pombo also seeks to require that the NPS raise $20 million through commercial sponsorships and by granting naming rights for certain national parks facilities. His plan would permit commercial advertisements on national park vehicles and advertising would be mandated to appear in official park service maps and guidebooks; billboards would be placed on in-park buses, trams, and vans.
While at least one of Pombo's Republican colleagues has stated this is not a serious proposal, Pombo hasn't disavowed it.

Support Work Rage 

Does anyone doubt that the Florida Legislature will roll over (once again) for the NRA and pass legislation barring companies from prohibiting firearms on their property?

Always willing to have his leash pulled by the NRA's Marion Hammer, State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) filed the bill.

Hard to Please 

Conservatives don't seem too happy with President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

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