Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm A Born Loser...But You Should Still Listen to Me

According to this poll, which matches you with the presidential candidate closest to your ideology, my guy is...[DRUMROLLLLLLLL]...

Dennis Kucinich!

Dennis frickin' Kucinich? what the --?

Sadly, it reflects my abysmal performance in the voting booth in this last election. Only one of the candidates I voted for made it into the runoff. The others all lost. (I'm not including the Lt. Gov.'s race in these stats; that'd be like including flood insurance claim payouts in the federal figure of hurricane aid sent down here).

Just goes to show, this country continues to be screwed up because people can't make sensible choices like I can! Seriously though, there's not a chance in Hades I'll be endorsing Kucin --
-- wait a sec.

Maybe "not a chance in Hades" was a bit over the top.

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday mockingly questioned President George W. Bush's mental health for saying Iran's nuclear ambitions might trigger World War III.

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich, a quirky, long-shot candidate in the race for his party's presidential nomination in the November, 2008 election. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."

Kucinich spoke to the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer ahead of a Democratic debate in Philadelphia.

Bush told a news conference two weeks ago: "I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interes4ed in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

Kucinich, a member of the U.S. Congress from Ohio, has tried in the past to convince his colleagues to impeach both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, to no avail.

He told The Inquirer he did not believe his remarks about Bush's mental stability were irresponsible.

"You cannot be a president of the United States who's wanton in his expression of violence," Kucinich said. "There's a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

California-Louisiana Contrasts: More "Hot Air" from the Right

On the appropriately named conservative blog Hot Air, they are doing an excellent job following the Bush administration's lead of blowing smoke up our asses in times of crisis. However, they get much props for admitting the Right's long-known (but only recently to them, I think) technique of responding to obvious fact with "hot air" (Blog Founder: "We fight hot air with Hot Air." [Notice how their brilliant use of capitalization establishes once and for all that their Hot Air supersedes all other hot air. Plus, I'm pretty sure God said so in the Bible somewheres.)

Unfortunately, I don't think Californians need more hot air right now, and I know that those of us sweating to rebuild the Gulf Coast without much help from conservatives at the federal level don't need more of it.

It makes me ill to even give attention to their efforts to -- yet again -- politicize the destruction and death of fellow human beings. Nevertheless, I feel it my patriotic duty to point out -- yet again -- that the feds fucked up. Funny how the party of personal responsibility can't seem to own up to its own responsibilities. Louisiana's state and local officials could have supplied every survivor with handheld electric fans, frozen daiquiris and daily meals from Antoine's whilst they, our fellow Americans, waited for Lords Bush and Chertoff to decide whether the levees had been breached or merely overtopped before sending help (FYI: It makes no fucking difference!!!). REGARDLESS OF THE (IN)COMPETENCY OF BLANCO, NAGIN, JUNIOR RODRIGUEZ, WALTER MAESTRI, and even AARON "WOLFMAN" BROUSSARD, the simple fact remains that THE FEDS DROPPED THE BALL, THEN DRAGGED THEIR FEET PICKING IT UP WHEN IT CAME TO FULFILLING THE ROLE THEY HAD SET FORTH FOR THEMSELVES in the aftermath of Katrina... (that bitch, I might add).

It so happens that I am finishing a disturbingly eye-opening book called Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security (by Christopher Cooper & Robert Block)*, which highlights that Louisiana officials "excelled" in the areas of the FEMA-coordinated emergency plan that had been completed pre-Katrina. My friends at Hot Breath or whatever marvel at the wonder of a state enormously larger than Louisiana evacuating 250,000 people...over the course of a few days. Contrary to popular misbelief, you don't always get DAYS of warning that a hurricane will strike. About 1.2 million people left Greater New Orleans in less than 40 hours (less than 2 days in non-fuzzy math terms), without a fraction of the problems Texas had with evacuations only weeks later before Rita struck, AND there are really only 3 or 4 routes off this island commonly known as New Orleans.
*recently purchased copy at local Barnes&Noble for $5.98*

It took FEMA 5 days to get a communications truck to N.O. from Baton Rouge when the roads were clear heading into New Orleans, and 2 days to transport ice that was sitting only 40 miles away to Biloxi. The governors of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama literally picked up the feds' slack and orchestrated their own disaster plans, not because us po' Suh-thunahs cain't do fo' us-selves, but because the feds said for years had told them "Oh, don't worry about that. FEMA will do that," etc., etc.

There are tons more reasons you can't compare Katrina with the CA wildfires, as nicely laid out in Sunday's T-P feature, par exemple:

Katrina's scale of devastation and its impact on humanity, however, was far greater. The number of homes destroyed or still threatened in California is about 10 percent of the roughly 200,000 left uninhabitable by Katrina and the often overlooked Hurricane Rita, which struck three weeks later.

In New Orleans alone, 140 of 180 square miles flooded, -- rendering uninhabitable a residential zone seven times the size of Manhattan. Across the region, its winds and rains wreaked havoc to a 90,000-square-mile swath of the Gulf Coast, an area twice the size of the entire state of New York.

Katrina forced the evacuation of 1.2 million people -- 500,000 remained displaced after four months. Almost 2,000 people died in Katrina.

The death toll from the fires stood at seven as of Saturday.

But hey, facts schmacts -- the folks at Hot Ass Breath got some GREAT talking points out there, and what's more important and American than that?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Times-Picayune Silent on Shady Contributions to Jindal Campaign

Why hasn't the Times-Picayune run a story, not even a "back-a-page" or below-the-fold story, about the $50,000 in campaign contributions Bobby Jindal received last Monday from several people (on the same day) tied to a Colorado company applying to open a landfill in a Louisiana town that the Department of Environmental Quality has already deemed unsuitable?

I only found out via a Saturday evening press release from the John Georges for Governor campaign. Politics of course, but his source was the Baton Rouge Advocate , which broke the story this weekend. I wonder if -- no!!!! -- the Times-Picayune would never sit on this story just because they endorsed Jindal!! How could you even suggest a thing?! For shame! is strange that he would not comment, considering he even comments on not showing up at debates to share with us his comments. Jindal can't even answer a yes-or-no question in less than 65.84 words.
Jindal refused comment on the story. His spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said Jindal never discussed any landfill project when he spoke with the donors.

Jindal and the Colorado group discussed only how outside states can help Louisiana small businesses attract investors, Sellers said.

[umm...via campaign contributions in the final days of campaigning? i.e., too late to file on pre-election reports?]

Even though one of the contributors hung up the phone when asked if he had any connection to the Colorado company, I'm sure there are perfectly legitimate explanations.

Because Bobby "Ethics Reform, I Cannot Tell A Lie" Jindal said he's honest, and politicians are very honest and trustworthy people. And he love him some Jesus too!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Hallmark Card for Katrina Survivors?

I don't think Hallmark has a Katrina card, but if they did, it might say something like this. I didn't come up with it, but I'd like to pass it on to all those around here who feel they are barely hangin' on. From me, to you:

I'll bet you've had about enough
of people telling you how strong you are
and how great you are doing
during this awful, difficult
period in your life.

Maybe you'd rather hear someone say
how much this sucks, how outrageous
and unfair it is.
Maybe you'd rather hear someone tell you that you don't have to be strong
all the time.
Or that it's definitely okay
to curse fate and throw a tantrum or two.
So here I am to tell you
all that stuff and more,
to let you know where I stand,
which is right in your corner.
There's no right way or wrong way
at a time like this.
However you work through this thing
is immaterial to me.

All I care about is that
you ask for what you need,
lean on those who love you,
and try to trust me when I say
that you'll come out the other side.

~ Jeannie Hund

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jill on S-CHIP Veto (and Getting Your Priorities Straight!)

President Chimpy actually vetoed health insurance for children. FOR CHILDREN Y'ALL! Thirty-five billion dollars is apparently too much to spend on making sure working- & middle-class kids stay healthy. A trillion or so in tax cuts for the wealthy is apparently not. Neither is a few hundred billion to CONTRACT out this war and Katrina clean-up to cronies in his inner circle.

If you didn't make noise over the tax cuts which decimated the Treasury, if you didn't pitch a fit when the 3 states hardest hit by Katrina & Rita received only 16% of the billions Congress allocated for recovery, then maybe it's time you call folks like Sen. Vitter, who says he will not vote to override this veto and remind them we put them there to actually be of HELP! (I think "Vitty Cent" done really lost his damn mind as of late.)

My first ever guest blogger, Jill, is not pleased; and she is back to have a word with some of you (you know who you are):

It's on, people! PLEASE MAKE YOURSELVES HEARD ON THIS ISSUE! There are tools all over the web for you to write letters and send emails to your congressmen and women; there will be rallies held all over the country tomorrow as well. Also, now is as good a time as any to check your voter registration -- if you're not registered, get registered; if you need to update, do it.

At the risk of calling folks out, I'll go ahead and make it plain -- I got about a hundred emails from people about that ignorant Don Imus some months ago. I got a ton about the "Read a *&^%^ Book" video. Some folks even sent messages expressing outrage at PepsiCo for taking "in God we trust" off of their marketing materials or some similar foolishness. If y'all have time and energy to engage that madness -- you've certainly got time and energy enough to stand up for the health and wellness of our poor and near poor children. Let your reps know in no uncertain terms that this is a priority issue, and their vote gets yours. Let's go!

All the best,

What the Hell Is Wrong with Senator Vitter?

I'm very displeased with Sen. David Vitter this morning, and not just because as one who is NOT a morning person, I'm normally displeased with everyone anyway at this hour (yes, even Mother Teresa). So you can imagine my ire as I read this, my first email of the day.

It seems Sen. Vitter is making excuses for not supporting our recovery. All the rest of our Congressional delegation, from both parties, have voted or will voted for the Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2007, which among other things, allocates money to close the gap in the Road Home program. It's a fucking no-brainer. Even Bobby Jindal who is afraid to do or say ANYTHING that could cost him the election voted for it. Frickin' Jindal actually risked being seen in public where he could be asked why we should elect him governor {GASP!}to show up and vote for this thing!!

I don't know what kind of political save-face game Vitter is playing, or whether Giuliani or Bush or the Elephant Party is twisting his arm for some reason, but I'd like to remind him that he really doesn't have many "Oops, sorry y'all" credits left in his Constituent Trust Fund.

Look, we all get stressed out and let personal problems affect our work sometimes. So, I propose that anyone reading this take just a moment and contact the Senator [oh look, a sample letter!] to remind him what the hell he is supposed to be doing [i.e., covering OUR asses and not just his or one of the Wendy's], and reassure him this legislation will not help those dreaded whorehouses rebuild. Show the guy you understand his pain, and help him make the right decision on this one.

Contact Info:
Senator David Vitter
Phone: 202.224.4623
Address: 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Jill on S-CHIP Reauthorization

This is a historic day for the N.O. - It's Just Me blog. For the first time, I present a guest blogger! I received an email from a dear college friend of yore, Jill of the Bay Area (i.e., San Francisco for the non-caffeinated folks & those educated in the Gret Stet of Loo-ziana) regarding President Bush's vow to veto a bill passed with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress to provide health insurance for uninsured children. I couldn't have written it more eloquently myself, and she has kindly allowed me to share her sentiments (her words in this reddish brown'range hue).

Fratto said Bush might be amenable to increasing the funding level above his suggested $5 billion over five years if the expansion of eligibility was limited. Fratto said, "This should not be an issue where you decide what the funding is, and then (set) the policy," adding, "We should decide what the policy is and let the funding land where it lands." However, Fratto said that once a government program subsidizes children in families with annual incomes above 300% of the federal poverty level, "you are talking about people who are solidly within the middle class of America, and you are extending another unfunded entitlement to the middle class" (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 9/28).

Okay, the reauthorization and expansion is good news. The vote tallies below put a veto override vote barely within reach in the Senate and slightly out of reach in the House, if my math is correct. Promising attainability; however, it is REALLY disheartening that there should be any scramble for veto override votes, or support of any kind for this measure!

What's really got my blood boiling is the highlighted text, though. The words "unfunded entitlement to the middle class" make me want to shake somebody! Even if the allegation that this compromise measure would provide some unintended support for "middle class" families by extending coverage to families earning 300% above the federal poverty level, SO WHAT?! First, consider that the 2007 federal poverty guideline for the "American Dream" family (2 parents, 2.5 kids) is right around $24,000. That's right a family of FIVE is not considered poor within the federal guidelines until there income rock bottoms to $24,130. ( Three-hundred percent of $24,000 is $72,000 for a FIVE-PERSON HOUSEHOLD! That family needs some help!

Next, consider that one of the leading causes of bankruptcies in the United States is non-covered medical expenses. Finally, consider that the bankrutpcy code amendments that took effect in 2005 make it more difficult to fully discharge debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. One of the considerations used to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 discharge is a "means" test, whereby if a family's income is above the median income level for their particular state (based on family size / # earners, I believe), then guess what? That family might not be able to fully discharge their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy! Sure, sure, other provisions apply, and I'm no bankruptcy lawyer, but dangit, common sense says that that puts full discharge out of reach for a greater number of "middle class" families -- particularly if earnings of 300% over the federal poverty level puts you "solidly within the middle class."

"Unfunded entitlement to the middle class," indeed! The only spot-on word in that phrase is "entitlement." We are entitled to have kids that are healthy without worrying about whether we're going to have to sell our blood, organs, houses, etc. in order to pay for care that ensures their health.

Grrrrr.... I'll stop seething and get back to work so that I won't be staring down that poverty level income figure in my personal economy, but it's gonna be a while before I stop cursing in my head about this one!

You probably got my message a couple of days ago (blank subject line -- sorry -- typing fast): CONTACT YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES AND MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD ON THIS!

Be well (evidently you can't afford not to),