• Incompetence 2.0

    By Pepper The terror in NOLA has taken incompetence to a new level. First, the response to the disaster is pathetically slow, and, second, the levees and pumps weren't strong enough to withstand a hurricane in the first place. Incompetence is the weak backbone of this story. If the levees hadn't burst, the damage would be significant, but not catastrophic. What went wrong? TPM Cafe has some answers, but there's a grand old tradition of shabby engineering in America. In a passage I've had highlighted for years, Paul Fussell writes, The American achievement [in engineering] - I know it's bad taste to mention this - is the Challenger, brought to you by faulty manufacture, inept and dishonest quality control, and lying and evasion for the sake of big bucks.
  • Anti-Government Governance

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Robert Farely points out the fundamental contradiction in Republican governance: The Republicans have managed a nifty trick over the last twenty-five years. They have worked ceaselessly to make government less effective, while at the same time deriving political benefit from inadequate government. It is a nifty trick, but it's starting to run out of steam. Even in the 2000 election, the GOP had started to tone down it's anti-government rhetoric; essentially, he promised the public the same government as the Clinton Era, only smaller and with a bigger tax cut . Yes, in the debates, he railed against the specter of big government medicine, but not with the vitriol of Reagan in the late 1980s. By 2004, Bush had stopped using the word "bureaucrat" and started talking about all the "hard work" of the government employees in Iraq. That said, this is a point Democrats ought to make more forcefully: there's no...
  • No More Northerners

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf Nobody sees the 1976 presidential election as a great moment in American history, and maybe that's why it hasn't gotten much pundit love. But the map is something to behold -- Jimmy Carter won every Southern state except for Virginia, and it wouldn't be until 1992 and Bill Clinton that Democrats would win a sizable number of Southern states again. Importantly, Carter managed this immediately after all the events usually regarded as devastating to Democratic fortunes in the South -- the Civil Rights movement, the countercultural 1960s, the peacenikdom of 1972. A look at the preceding elections makes this even more impressive -- in 1964 , Goldwater's only pocket of strength outside his Arizona home is the Deep South. 1968 has Wallace's independent candidacy shutting the Democrats out of the South. When Nixon wipes the floor with McGovern in 1972 , he wins by a 47% margin in Alabama and by 38% in Arkansas. Carter carries those states by 13% and 30%.
  • You're Funnier Than He Is

    The thread below, collecting historical analogues to Bush's wildly inappropriate remarks today, has gotten some hilarious stuff. I'll be promoting the best ones through the day, so keep participating down there. For now, here are four. First, remember: this is what Bush said: The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.) Haha! Okay, so I asked you guys to put Bush in another time and place and see what happened. Lots of good ones in the thread , here are a few: Joseph: The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Chicago, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Mrs. O'Leary's barn -- she's lost her entire barn -- there's going to be a fantastic barn...
  • Is This Impeachable?

    Via Jeff Dubner , what the FUCK is wrong with our President? The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.) Dubner compares it to Dukakis's bloodless abdication of vengeance against the hypothetical guy who raped and murdered his wife. But it's worse than that. It's like Churchill comforting bombed out Britons with the prospect of all the fine curry joints that'll soon open where their homes used to stand. So you know what? If he can take this lightly, we can play a little game. Using Bush's above quote as inspiration and stylistic template, jump in the time machine and put Bush on the podium after other great disasters and calamities. What does he think about the plague? The sacking of the Temple? The burning of Rome...
  • Ideological Casualties

    Over at the blog of my soon-to-be employer , they've got a great discussion of the ideological ramifications of Katrina, both for big government liberalism and small government conservatism. Bush, of course, has been this strange mixture of government growth and administrative incompetence, almost as if he's running a kamikaze mission to prove the Republican case against government. But conservatives, generally, are all for the private market and individual charity. If Bush really was so uncomfortable with government involvement, he could still do a bang-up job relying on his church/industry connections to create a parallel and powerful rescue effort. The government could take care of the basics, but the private and theological spheres could provide much of the material, cash, and space. In doing, Bush would help discredit Big Government and legitimize the conservative philosophy. He hasn't. And that he's hasn't demonstrates his basic absence of a driving ideology. He's neither able...
  • I'll Be Back (As Soon As Things Blow Over)

    This is the most spectacular dodge I've ever seen. The California State Senate passed a gay marriage bill yesterday. It may or may not pass the Assembly, but no matter, Arnold probably won't sign it. Why? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman said he preferred to let judges sort out the legality of gay marriage This is a job for an unelected, unaccountable, judiciary! Glad to know our action hero governor has the courage to really swim against the tide on this. Turns out protecting John Connor is way easier than rejecting your own party's bigotry.
  • A Small Man

    I have to say, none of this really makes sense to me. America is not a country that lacks for cars; why isn't the Superdome totally evacuated? America is not a country that lacks for copters -- why does CNN keep spotting stranded families waving sheets for help? For that matter, why don't we just conscript CNN's copters to help them? We are not a country that lacks for food, so why aren't trucks barreling in with rations? We are not a country that lacks for homes, why isn't Bush going on TV and, with the Astrodome full, asking private citizens to open their doors? For that matter, why doesn't Bush just fire back up the network of evangelical churches he used to win the election? They could sleep thousands in their pews and call on their congregations to provide hundreds of thousands of beds -- and they would. Why isn't Bush coming on TV and asking Americans to send blankets, to send canned foods, to donate to a relief effort, anything? Why isn't he leading, why isn't America...
  • At Least Someone Did

    Matt pens the post I've been trying, and failing, to articulate for three days now. Just go read it.
  • Donate

    C'mon folks -- the blogosphere gave more than this to Paul Hackett...and great as he is and important as his race was, it all just pales in comparison. If you can just give a dollar, give just a dollar . It'll be appreciated, I swear it. But don't donate from here. John Rogers is matching donations over at his site, which means your one dollar becomes two, your two dollars four, and so on. Go there and give . And if you're not yet convinced, read this and then go there and give. I'm putting in another $50 -- surely you can match a stingy college student, right?