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Showing posts from September 4, 2005

spitting up what they feed us

"Seattle, Wash.: Why do the Bush advisors shield him from the reality all the rest of of see and manipulate his public encounters? "Robert G. Kaiser: Well, do we know for sure that they do this? I share your suspicion that they do, but we also know that Bush DOES read the newspapers, despite saying he doesn't, and I bet he watches some TV too." Washington Post associate editor Robert G. Kaiser , September 8, "live" discussion “The president, long reluctant to fire subordinates, came to a belated recognition that his administration was in trouble for the way it had dealt with the disaster, many of his supporters say. One moment of realization occurred on Thursday of last week when an aide carried a news agency report from New Orleans into the Oval Office for him to see. The report was about the evacuees at the convention center, some dying and some already dead. Mr. Bush had been briefed that morning by his homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, w

marx and pavlov

The Bush culture has made it pretty clear that Marxist class analysis must be supplemented with Pavlovian psychology. The governing class in this country salivates to the bell that opens the NYSE every morning – and that is their only physiological/moral response to any public event, the cue that creates their entire world. The world of the dog in the cage is intentionally narrowed by the scientist. The world of the rich has also been narrowed, by self-choice, during the last twenty five or so years. Reagan’s tax cuts for the wealthy, in retrospect, signaled not just a change in a particular phase of American history (the return of a particular set of oligarchs), but looks, now, like a monument to the end of the civic sense among the oligarchs tout court. Among the governing class, the civic sense, with its complications of ritual, its sacrifices, its seriousness, its orientation to an imagined social collective, has been pretty much taken down, like an old and drafty building. In its

That debbil GOP

Scratchings linked to our post about Lieberman the other day. I was interested to read one of his commentators accuse me of being a Republican. I have been accused of many things, but this is a new one for me. Yet, in one way, it is a very just accusation. Lately, from my point of view (that of an extinct beast, much like the mastodon), I have been trying to sort out the relationship between the sense that this decade has seen the great American failure and the sense that the two party system here is broken. That sorting out begins with the premise that the parties are secondary to the real political life of the Republic. This premise is a hypothesis – I’m not going to defend it as the ultimate truth of the matter, but I think there’s a strong case to be made for constructing an analysis from it. That analysis would trespass on the current verities of political analysis on my side, the liberal side. Given my premise, the question I want to put is: why did liberalism become so att

I had an Edward till a Michael Brown killed him

Tell o'er your woes again by viewing mine: I had an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him; I had a Harry, till a Richard kill'd him: Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him; Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard killed him; -- Richard III In a previous post, the Counted and the Uncounted, LI wrote: "One expects that the clearance of the Convention Center, since it is administered by thieves and murderers, will probably encompass hiding a number of corpses. This is evidence, after all, and you want to burn or bury evidence. So LI hopes that all those who knew the victims – the parents, or children, or friends – will not give up when the victims turn up in the “missing” list – will point the finger and make as much noise as possible." This morning, in the LA Times, we read this: "FEMA Wants No Photos of Dead From Reuters NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. agency leading Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts said Tuesday that it does not want the news media to photo

tales from FEMA

I don’t know if I’ve told this story in some post. But here goes… I once worked, temporarily, for FEMA. I was in Santa Fe, trying to write a novel. I needed a job, so I went to a temp agency and was sent out on various jobs. The instructions I’d get from the temp agency sometimes merely consisted of an address. One morning I set out for one of those addresses. The previous night I’d been at a party, and indulged in a little doobie. I still felt a bit of the pleasant bloodborne vertiginousness of the joint in my system as I found myself driving into the parking lot of what looked like a police station. Vertigo turned immediately into paranoia. I went into a building that seemed occupied by cops, and went down several flights of stairs until I found the office I was to report to. It was FEMA. The place was crawling with ex military. My boss was recently retired from a fat gig with NORAD, about which he liked to reminisce at lunch time with the other ex Norad boys – the times they w

pissing while

“Many people use their social activities to mark time rather than the other way around. In parts of Madagascar, questions about how long something takes might receive an answer like "the time of a rice cooking" (about half an hour) or "the frying of a locust" (a quick moment). Similarly, natives of the Cross River in Nigeria have been quoted as saying "the man died in less than the time in which maize is not yet completely roasted" (less than fifteen minutes). Closer to home, not too many years ago the New English Dictionary included a listing for the term "pissing while"—not a particularly exact measurement, perhaps, but one with a certain cross-cultural translatability.” – Robert Levine. It is no news that the President was not born the twin of industriousness. But blaming Bush’s indolence doesn’t really get us too far in understanding the culture that allowed New Orleans to drown, and the cornered class to either fight or starve; nor does it
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Another account

Read this account of the escape from New Orleans , and the escape from the government’s idea of a refugee center (hint: they seem to have gotten their plans for it from Buchenwald)for the escapees from New Orleans, by Michael Homan. Let’s not let these histories go down the drain. Even if nothing changes, even if the monsters still rule us and the thugs in the press still ritually praise them and the whole mill grinds inevitably forward, making bonemeal of our bones, we can still preserve a record of how things really were in the U.S.A., circa 2005: Here’s an excerpt: “But then in the end I left. I learned that my father-in-law was flying to Jackson Saturday, and Friday those guys in the airboat showed up. I was very worried because I had heard that they were not letting people evacuate with their animals. But these guys said that had changed, and so I put my computer and a few papers in my backpack, loaded the dogs, let the birds go, and put Oot the sugar glider with food and water

no comment

“I am glad the President has nominated someone already familiar with FEMA's mission to become Deputy Director. Mr. Brown is currently General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of the agency, a position he has held since February of 2001. Before joining the Bush Administration, I note from his resume, he served as executive director of the Independent Electrical Contractors in Denver. In the early 1980s, Mr. Brown served as staff director of the Oklahoma Senate's Finance Committee, while serving on the Edmund, Oklahoma, City Council. He ran for Congress in the sixth district, and, in what I think is particularly useful experience, early in his career, was assistant city manager in Edmond, with responsibility for police, fire and emergency services.” -- Senator Joe Lieberman (D), HEARING before the COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS UNITED STATES SENATE,ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS ON THE NOMINATION OF MICHAEL D. BROWN TO BE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAG

Being and the Wack

History is the superstition of intellectuals. They are always trawling among the time’s Rorschach blots for analogies, and for the determinants among the innumerable skirmishes of the night's ignorant armies, and for our particular future in the past, which contains all futures except one: the one where before and after are abolished. That future annihilates itself. LI is as superstition as any of them. We do cling to the “then.” The then is where logic ( the possibilities encoded in the if/then) crosses temporality (the then that sequences the narrative). We do believe that we can create modest structures around the then, and imagine that history is coordinate with event, and that events are real. The then is my repository for what Santayana called animal faith. And so I am led down the path that led up to this week, and will lead from this week. Before we endorse any ideology whatsoever, we want to have a lucid sense of the then. We have been thinking about this because we h

the counted and the uncounted

One expects that the clearance of the Convention Center, since it is administered by thieves and murderers, will probably encompass hiding a number of corpses. This is evidence, after all, and you want to burn or bury evidence. So LI hopes that all those who knew the victims – the parents, or children, or friends – will not give up when the victims turn up in the “missing” list – will point the finger and make as much noise as possible. That the murderers Chertoff and Brown are directing efforts in NOLA means that men who have the motive for covering up their crimes are directing efforts in NOLA. There is a new chapter in the black book of the African-American massacres, and it will be curious to see how the media ignores it, and how it is swept under the rug all the way around. John Barry’s article in the NYT (I wrote about Barry in an earlier post) includes this graf: “The scope of the 1927 devastation also resembled today's. No one knows the death toll. The official governme

perhaps not

Ann Rice’s op ed in the NYT was an exercise in perfectly controlled anger and despair – which is not something we can reproduce at LI, where we are at the mercy of the portals of the senses and those rumors of the heart that we can’t quell with antacids. “But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs. Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.” I don’t know about the “Sin City” part – the worst people in the world, who are the great honchos of American politics and media, advocated shooti

in the front of the line

“At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses rolled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line - much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the stinking Superdome since last Sunday. "How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage. The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, next to the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome. The Hyatt was severely damaged by the storm. Every pane of glass on the riverside wall was blown out.” -- WWL Hugo at Theophile Gautier’s Grave --- Robert Lowell “… and the great age with all its light departs. The oaks cut for the pyre of Hercules, what a harsh roar they make in