Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Doctor my eyes

My eye is exploding. It's been bothering me for a while. The last 2 Docs I was assigned by Kaiser both told me to use an over-the-counter product, that it was no big deal.

This weekend, spent in San Diego, it really started to flare up. I used buckets full of the over-the-counter product (OK, it's Bausch & Lomb Opcon-A, which I just discovered is sourced generically by several companies). But today, my eye is still really bothering me, and if it isn't better tomorrow, I'll go see the doc.

Which brings me to this from Canada:
More than 14 million Canadians a year visit hospital emergency rooms. Tales of interminable waits for care are legion.

But, now, for the first time, the Canadian Institute for Health Information has published actual data on ER waiting times and, on the surface at least, the waits don't seem too bad.

The research, for 2003-2004, the latest available, shows that half of emergency room patients are treated by a doctor in less than one hour.

"The median wait time is 51 minutes," said Jennifer Zelmer, vice-president of research and analysis at CIHI, a non-profit organization.

One in 10 patients waited less than 10 minutes for medical care while another one in 10 languished for three hours or more before being seen by an emergency room physician.

There's other data there that persuades the reader that the system isn't perfect. And neither is Kaiser Permanente's. But there is one really essential difference: I PAY DIRECTLY FOR HEALTH CARE!!

Since I am self-employed, I pay for our own health insurance. We have a deal through the Musician's Union for a group Kaiser rate. It costs us $780 per month. For that I expect a limo, a foot massage, a glass of champagne, and some camembert. Instead I will wait longer than our northern brothers, and get fairly good treatment.

Makes sense to me.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

does anybody really care?

RJ Eskow at skippy wonders about dumb song lyrics:
this question came up as i was in an airport waiting to fly coast to coast ( i'm on the road, which is the reason i haven't posted lately) - because they were playing the old song by chicago called "does anybody really know what time it is?"

you remember: "a man came up and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, and I said/does anybody really know what time it is?" the use of violence is a highly personal decision, involving both ethical and moral choices based on a spiritual ethos. for me, however, it would be justified if i asked somebody for the time and got this answer.

but you'll have to search your consciences and ask yourselves: does anybody really know when it's time to take a swing at that guy from "chicago"?

I saw CTA, as they were first known, at a tiny club in Buena Park, CA, in '68, on their first pass trough SoCal. Totally original, what a sound!

But I remember turning to my friend and saying, "They have a great sound, but nobody can sing!" Late guitarist Terry Kath, a member of the George Reeves Gun Club, had his faux whiteboy growl (think Stevie Winwood in Spencer Davis Group) but Bob Lamm and Peter etCetera impressed me not. Obviously I was wrong, as the vast record buying public is always right, no?

But the late '60s and all the '70s were a blur of stupid lyrics. Chicago had plenty of their own:

Color my world with hope of loving you

Nice idea, god-awful lyric.

Waiting for the break of day
Searching for something to say


Children play in the park, they don't know
I'm alone in the dark, even though
Time and time again I see your face smiling inside


But they weren't the only practitioners of crappy writing. In fact, it afflicted many of that time's musicians. As rock'n'roll developed, flourished, and made its way in the world, conventions were being overturned and rules broken on a daily basis. Being in the music biz, I have experienced this, and largely reveled in it. Freedom to express one's self in heretofore new and undiscovered ways was thrilling.

As can be expected, however, a lot of chaff went flying with the wheat. Some great words were penned, some real poo was written. Here's some more:

Looking Glass:
The sailors say "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea"
(dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Smokin', smokin'
We're cookin' tonight, just keep on tokin'
Smokin', smokin'I feel alright, mamma i'm not jokin', yeah.

Fleetwood Mac:
Tusk! tusk! tusk! tusk!
Tusk! tusk! tusk! tusk!

REO Speedwagon:
As soon as you are able
Woman i am willing
To make the break that we
Are on the brink of

Well, i'm hot blooded, check it and see
I got a fever of a hundred and three

Air Supply:
But i'm never gonna make it without you,
Do you really want to see me crawl?
And i'm never gonna make it like you do,
Making love out of nothing at all.

Now don't get me wrong, rock lyrics don't all have to be the musical equivalent of Shakespeare, they can be trite, even silly, and still be wonderful. I mean, c'mon. Freddie Mercury sang "Radio Ga Ga" and it was high art.

Some other inane gems:

She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean
She was the best damn woman I had ever seen
She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies
Knockin' me out with those American thighs
Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air
She told me to come but I was already there

Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good lord will take you away

Thin Lizzy:
That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favorite song
The nights are getting warmer, it won't be long
It won't be long till summer comes
Now that the boys are here again

Now comes the fun part. Guess the source of these lyrics:
I could not take it oh so seriously really
When you called and said you'd seen a UFO
But then it dawned on me the message in writing
Spelt out a meeting never dreamed of before

Fashionable country gentlemen had some cultivated wild gardens,
In which they innocently planted the giant hogweed throughout the land.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
Soon they escaped, spreading their seed,
Preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race.

There coming over Charaton Bridge
Look do you see the man who is poor but rich.
What do you wish; and where do you go;
Who are you; where are you from:
will you tell me your name?
Rest awhile; call me your friend.
Please stay with me I'd like to help.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Merciful heavens! One of the stars on of the bloggersphere (Pam made that word up) is celebrating an anniversary. Let us bow down and worship even unto him, for he is pretty damn funny, and always right on.

Tbogg says here:

A quick check with our crack archivists has confirmed what I suspected: today is the three year anniversary of TBogg the blog (not to be confused with TBogg!: The Musical which is a lot like Stomp, but without the homoerotic overtones. Okay, maybe a few homoerotic overtones...but only in act two in the scene that takes place in the kitchen).

. . .

Unlike this guy, I didn't coin the term 'blogosphere", but I can lay claim to creating the following:

•The Virgin Ben
•Jenna and NotJenna
•The 101st Fighting Keyboarders
•America's Worst Mother™

...which will be my Canticle For Leibowitz when Internet historians under President Dancin' Jack Roberts survey The Great Blogging Paradigm and try to understand why the people of the era never noticed what a wanker Hugh Hewitt was.

Funny, I almost bought a used copy of Canticle for Leibowitz a few weeks ago in a book store in Ventura.

All I can add is this:
Well done, my friend
You've done it again
You've gone and broken another (right-wing) heart
Yeah, you've torn it apart

You've done it before
Hope to do it some more
You've got it down to a fine art

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

leave at your own chosen speed

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
Oh, and more, much more than this
I did it my way

From Japan's Daily Yomiuri we learn that members of the Coalition of the Stupid are having serious second thoughts:

Britain and Australia are considering withdrawing their troops from southern Iraqi city of Samawah, where Ground Self-Defense Force troops are stationed for reconstruction work. The government has been contacted by the countries on the matter, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

The two countries are believed to be considering troop withdrawal sometime next summer. The timing of their withdrawal is seen likely to affect the government's decision on how long the SDF mission in Samawah will be extended.

"Britain and Australia informed us a month or two ago that they were considering the withdrawal of troops from Samawah. But they did not elaborate on the timing of the withdrawal," the official said.

Tony Blair can spin, GWBush can shuck 'n' jive, but folks on both sides of both major oceans are pretty tired of being fed crap.

Now, if only the MSM can keep pace with public opinion. We'll see.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I get up, I get down

On this special day, her birthday, we quietly remember her.

I keep her picture above my desk, in the hall, and in my mind.

She was simple and clear, yet ever an enigma, with a complexity that sometimes was hidden.

She had depths unimagineable, yet lived on the surface, always right there to be in the moment with you, offering support, and always, love.

She was a soft rock, a warm and loving presence surrounding a firm and unshakeable core.

She lived her life quietly, never asking for applause, yet smiling when applause was offered.

She left us gracefully, never complaining, never demanding.

Often I feel I let her down, that I didn't give her what she needed toward the end. Yet, she never asked for more, she just looked at each of us with that same beautiful gaze, as if she knew something we didn't.

In so many ways, she was smarter, stronger, and more fully alive than the rest of us.

I love her, and miss her everyday.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror

Readers of Der Spiegel (The Mirror) weigh in on Katrina, and the US response. There are conservatives in Germany, like the USA, but the letters Spiegel decided to print are pretty clear in their meaning.

Here are some of the letters

American society needs to ask itself why a natural catastrophe led to the breakdown of all civil order in a relatively short amount of time, and allowed a city to drown in chaos and anarchy. Asia, on the other hand, showed none of this aggression and brutality after the tsunami, but was marked, on the contrary, by a massive sense of cooperation.

Kay-Uwe Goldbach, Germany


It's the Big Easy's own fault that so many of its citizens are trying to stay behind with their homes. They're not really so pitiable. Most of them decided quite consciously to stay. There were enough cars, even if New Orleans has fewer than other cities. And if hotels weren't affordable, there must have been plenty of relatives and friends. Why did the people ignore the public warnings? "The Big Easy" also likes to take it easy, since the government will provide. This care-for-me mentality has been fatal.

Alan Benson, Germany

Blame the victims like a true right-winger.

A salutary effect of the destruction by this and perhaps other hurricanes might be that the priggish voodoo-magician of the American Way of Life named Bush -- and his short-haul Creationists -- suffer a decisive setback. For this adminstration wants to distract American people (and in the end all of us) from the most urgent problems. This is because they want to use their money for something else: to build an enormous halo for themselves.

Christoph Müller-Luckwald, Germany

Say Hallelujah.

The lessons of the hurricane disaster have an important message for us in Germany in the days running up to the September 18 elections: We need to pay close attention to each candidate's ideas for reforming our social- and health-care systems. As a result of Katrina the United States has finally lost its status as a role model.

Günther Rohm, Germany


Thanks to its relaxed atmosphere, New Orleans had no time to plan ahead. People have never learned to help themselves, so now others have to help -- and right away. Somehow it makes me think of the fable of the ant and the cricket.

Johannes Taphorn, Germany

Actually, Johnny, I think the operative atmosphere was "poor".

The catastrophe in New Orleans may have something to do with America's unusually religious nature. "God bless America" -- a phrase used even by the President -- expresses an unshakable faith in God which makes human striving beside the point. The indifference to those unfortunates who couldn't save themselves under their own power might be explained by the maxim, "God helps those who help themselves." New Orleans presents an image of the United States, on the whole, that is unworthy of a cultivated nation.

Helmut Woitas, Germany

Amen, brother.

Bush is able to flesh out plans to destroy life in the minutest detail. But he is incapable of quickly and efficiently providing his own people with what is most necessary to stay alive. Maybe this is because military action has a greater effect on patriotism, pathos and above all profit, than does provision for the poorer members of our society. Environmental protection is also a way of protecting the homeland.

F.L. Winkelhoch, Germany


You write that the catastrophe has nothing to do with global warming. This statement is untenable from scientific point of view and politically speaking is fatal. Experts still have no way of answering the question of whether there is a connection between global warming and the frequency and strength of hurricanes. But there are certainly arguments which support the theory that a warmer planet will experience more natural disasters. And politically your argument is fatal because it allows people to believe that they should not feel threatened by the changing global climate.

Dr. Axel Schmitz, Germany


The German media claims that only the wealthy were able to leave the city. This is true, but only because of the failure of New Orleans's liberal black government. Why, for example, weren't all the school buses and trains used to evacuate the people? Now, in an attempt to distract attention from its own incompetence, the local government is trying to blame the federal administration.

Claus Franzkowiak, USA

Again. blame the victims. Although, to be fair, why weren't the buses used?

What emergency aid have heads of international companies, the global organizations and the major share-holders given to the victims of the hurricane catastrophe? After all it is their decisions on investment, production, climate protection and location which affect the fate of ordinary people.

Dr. Erich Schäfer, Austria

Phony Donald Trump quote: "I gave at the office."

Is it cynical to draw the conclusion that just a fraction of the thousands of billions of dollars used for weapons and war would have been enough to prevent the disaster? Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama are hardly on the same level as Florida.

Franz Tobiasch, Germany


We need to give up this city. Since it can only exist with the help of giant pumps and massive waste of energy, it has no future.

Veit Hennemann, Germany

Wrong, bucko. Ever been to Amsterdam? It's just up north a ways. They've got the dike/levee thing worked out pretty well.

The thing is, we haven't looked like world leaders for some time, and this really clinches it. Germans, and other citizens of the world, are going to look elsewhere for leadership, guidance, and, frankly, spending. With our economy tied so directly with China's, Europe is buying the same stuff from the same Asian manufacturers. And with our military so clearly adrift in Iraq, we no longer pose a threat, or represent a saviour, to the rest of the world.

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but the days of American hegemony may be over.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Here goes

Well, here goes.

I begin my first blog with great trepidation. Wondering what I might add to the bloggersphere already rich with articulate and knowledgeable voices and not wanting to disappoint my articulate and knowledgeable husband. Finally I decided perhaps what I lack in articulation I can make up for with passion. And so humbly I begin.

This evening as I listened to W. speak, I thought for the first time he sounded as if he actually had blood running in those veins! That notorious smirk was absent and he sounded as if he felt pain for the victims of this horrendous disaster. Then I returned to reality. This is the same man that suspended the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 on Thursday, September 8th. The average hourly wage in Louisiana of 9 bucks an hour would not apply. He handed out no bid contracts to Haliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, and Shaw. Yep, the fab four will rake in obscene profits on the backs of the victims of Katrina. Since Louisiana has no minimum hourly wage, perhaps they will be payed the whopping national minimum wage of $5.15 per hour.

Instead of W.'s good ol boys running the reconstruction, why not appoint Jonathan Reckford the C.E.O. of Habitat for Humanity or Paul Leonard, their Managing Director? Why not let Louisiana contruction companies have the contracts and have a combination of paid Louisiana citizens and unpaid volunteers?

If I'm gonna cut ol W. an iota of slack he needs to give a little sumpin. I'd like to see him...

  • #1 Appoint an independent commission to investigate government's handling of Katrina, not the laughable one the Speaker of the House is going to appoint.
  • #2 Return F.E.M.A. to its own agency. In addition to replacing "Brownie", replace other executives who were political appointments with former experienced F.E.M.A. employees pushed out by W.'s regime.
  • #3 Rescind the 70% tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans. Over three years that will just about pay for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.
  • #4 Appoint someone such as Paul K .Leonard to oversee the rebuilding. We need someone like him who has a business background, management skills on a large scale, and integrity as well.
As minority leader Senator Harry Reid said today, "the desperate are still waiting."

Help, I need somebody


Main Entry: can·cer
Pronunciation: 'kan(t)-s&r
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin (genitive Cancri), literally, crab; akin to Greek karkinos crab, cancer
1 capitalized a : a northern zodiacal constellation between Gemini and Leo b (1) : the 4th sign of the zodiac in astrology -- see ZODIAC table (2) : one born under the sign of Cancer
2 [Latin, crab, cancer] a : a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis b : an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors
3 : something evil or malignant that spreads destructively cancer of hidden resentment -- Irish Digest>
4 a : an enlarged tumorlike plant growth (as that of crown gall) b : a plant disease marked by such growths
- can·cer·ous /'kan(t)s-r&s, 'kan(t)-s&-/ adjective
- can·cer·ous·ly adverb

Here's some cheery news
from OncoLink, at the U. of Pennsylvania:
The lifetime risk of any particular woman getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 although the lifetime risk of dying from breast cancer is much lower at 1 in 28.

Twice in one week I'm posting about cancer. Last time was Bush v. Chemo, this time it's better news, sort of.

From Pam's cousin:

My dear friends and family:

I would like to share with all of you a very special and powerful event in which I will participate. October 21, 22, and 23 in Phoenix, AZ. It's called the Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60-mile walk over 3 days to raise money for breast cancer. The net proceeds will support the combined efforts of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) Breast Cancer Fund in their mission to fund access to care and find a cure for breast cancer.

I will walk with thousands over those three days, each with their own reason for joining in the challenge. I have my own reason; my friend has breast cancer. I'm going to walk because I've watched her lose weight, lose hair, lose strength and some days, lose hope. I'm going to walk because her students at Cal State Northridge will not have the fortune of her knowledge and guidance when they return to class this fall. I'm going to walk because of the many hours her friends, family and young daughter surround her with laughter and encouragement and the painful effort it takes her to stay awake long enough to remember what it was like to be well. I'm going to walk because she has shown me what brave is. I'm going to walk for Jennifer.

Each walking participant must raise $2,100, but I am hoping to contribute much more. Won't you please help me help Jen and the millions of others who are fighting and surviving breast cancer? I hvae enclosed a donation form and addressed stamped envelope. You may also donate on-line at www.The3Day.org by searching under my name. Whatever you choose to give, your donation is fully tax deductible and greatly appreciated!

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this letter. I do hope that you will support me in this challenging and incredibly important adventure. Please contact me if you have any questions.'

My gratitude,

Kathy Matthews.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sweet home Alabama

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
’Tis summer, the darkies are gay,

Food conglomerate Tyson Foods has been sued by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of workers at Tyson Food's Ashland, Alabama chicken processing plant for maintaining a Whites Only break room and rest room.

From the press release:
A lawsuit filed today alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc. is responsible for maintaining a segregated bathroom and break room, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, in its Ashland, Alabama chicken processing plant. Twelve African-American employees filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, alleging that a “Whites Only” sign and a padlock denied them access to a bathroom in the Ashland plant. The complaint states that numerous white employees had keys to the bathroom that were not provided to African-American workers.

The African-American employees’ complaint also alleges that, after they complained about the segregated bathroom, the plant manager told them that the bathroom had been locked because they were “dirty” and announced the closing of the break room. According to the complaint, the same white employees who had keys to the “Whites Only” bathroom formed their own, private break room, using Tyson materials to construct the furniture. Initially, a locked door segregated the private break room. To the present day, locked cabinets and a locked refrigerator maintain a private break room.

Remarkable in this day and age (yeah, right), the blatant racism that continues to find a home in America.

Lest we think that the Lawyer's Committee is some radical group, here's some of their background:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was created at the request of President John F. Kennedy in the summer of 1963 following a meeting of 244 lawyers in the East Room of the White House. President Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy spoke at the conference and urged the lawyers to use their training and influence to move the struggle for the protection of civil rights from the streets to the courts. The 244 lawyers who attended were from throughout the United States and included, leaders of state bars and the ABA, and 50 African American lawyers. President Kennedy had held similar meetings with representatives of business, education, and the clergy, but the decision to call a meeting with the lawyers and the timing of the meeting was born of a sense of urgency about the absence of the organized bar in the civil rights movement.

Of course boycotts are mostly meaningless, although in the case of the Grocery Worker's Strike here in Los Angeles last year, the resulting loss of business clearly hurt Ralph's, Von's, & Albertson's. Pam and I haven't gone into any of these stores since, and shop at a small local chain of 5 stores called Hows Markets, which supported a union contract and hired displaced workers from the mega-chains.

Tomorrow I'll talk to them, and see if they might consider not buying food from Tyson. Just a week or so ago, Pam asked them to get Light Limeade & Light Lemonade and sure enough, the very next week they showed up on the shelves. So it appears these folks are open to reason and suggestion.

It may not make any long term difference, but I urge all readers and bloggers to boycott any Tyson Products. Think about buying something produced under these conditions.


Monday, September 12, 2005

I set out on the sloop John B.

On Monday the Senate Judiciary Commitee considers Mr. Roberts. Well, Henry Fonda he ain't, nor is he Ensign Pulver.

Here's some discussion of his predecessor, Rehnquist:

Miami Herald
In the most important legal issue of the modern era, racial equality, Rehnquist was consistently on the wrong side. As a law clerk to Justice Robert Jackson while the court considered Brown vs. Board of Education, Rehnquist counseled against overturning the ''separate but equal'' doctrine of Plessy vs. Ferguson and fumed about his colleagues' ``pathological search for discrimination.''

Rehnquist's views as a justice were of a piece. Over 33 years, he compiled a virtually unbroken record of trying to narrow the scope of laws protecting the civil and voting rights of minorities, including watering down the enforcement of Brown -- the landmark decision he opposed at its inception.

In other key areas, Rehnquist's jurisprudence was deeply flawed. In a flagship achievement, Rehnquist led the court to curtail citizens' ability to sue states and their officers for violations of federal or state laws. But his approach suffers from the same fundamental problem he once identified in Roe vs. Wade: Whatever the doctrine's merits, it has little if any grounding in the Constitution, its purported source. Rehnquist also spearheaded the court's drive to remove judicial checks on the death penalty even as DNA evidence provided irrefutable proof that the whole system of capital punishment was rife with error.

Psychotic Right Wing Tech Central Station:
You could see it in his opinions, especially after he became Chief. Rehnquist opinions have a certain casualness about both reasoning and citation -- he was famous for misdescribing past cases to make them say what he wanted. He was also well-known by law clerks for cutting out most of the reasoning in their opinion drafts. The classic Rehnquist opinion would state the facts (sparely), state the issue, and state the result, with as little explanation as possible. With one exception: Rehnquist was an artist at laying the groundwork for some future legal development he wanted but for which he didn't yet have the votes. When reasoning was just reasoning, Rehnquist didn't much care about it. When the choice of legal arguments offered a shot at some future bottom line, he cared a lot. Reasons were mere tools. Results were the point of the exercise.

And he believed in seizing opportunities. I clerked for Lewis Powell during his next-to-last year on the Court. That year, Rehnquist was assigned the majority opinion in what looked like a not-very-important criminal case. His law clerk wrote an opinion draft; Rehnquist pared it down a little, then circulated it. Quickly, six of the other eight Justices -- including William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, the Court's leading liberals -- joined. Rehnquist was appalled: if he was getting more than five votes, that meant he had left money on the table, that he could have pushed the law farther in his preferred direction without losing his majority.

Above all, he was the bottom-line Justice. Faced with a choice between theoretical consistency and a favorable outcome, he would pick the outcome every time. No judge's decisions fit any theory perfectly, but Rehnquist was clearly at one end of the spectrum in this regard. Lawyers call it "result oriented," and it's usually a pejorative. Rehnquist might have considered it a compliment. He seemed to think that law should be result-oriented: the Brennans of the world had their preferred results and he had his; the two sides should duke it out. Theoretical consistency, in his view, was overvalued. Rehnquist understood that the law is filled with compromise and conflicting principles, that without those inconsistencies the machinery can't run. And he believed in making the machinery run -- even the most liberal Justices rejoiced at how smoothly the Court functioned after he took over the Chief's chair from Warren Burger. Just as meetings in George Bush's White House begin when they're supposed to and end when they're supposed to.

As Atrios says, heh-indeedy.

National Catholic Reporter:
Even liberal readers may wonder whether the chapters are too one-sided. There are no voices that are conservative or even moderate. The unrelenting thesis is that the Rehnquist court has come out on the wrong side of issues like affirmative action, women’s rights, the power of Congress to impose obligations on the states and the rights of those accused of crime.

Herman Schwartz, the editor of this collection of valuable essays, is a highly regarded liberal professor at American University Law School in Washington. He arranged for a version of these papers to be published in a special issue of The Nation magazine.

The most prominent decision in this collection is the 5-4 ruling of the Supreme Court in December 2000 that gave the presidency to George W. Bush over Al Gore. Jurists and others will be pondering for generations to come whether that ruling comports with the generally conservative leanings of the Rehnquist court. The authors in this anthology seem to think that it does. For them it is another example of judicial activism -- in open contradiction to the battle cry of Republicans over the last 30 years that judicial activism is wrong.

Well, there's so much more, but now we face the question: Is Rehnquist/Roberts the enemy, or is it O'Conner, whose replacement is yet to be named.

Partisan politics du jour.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Jesus is just all right, oh yeah

Last week we took a walk through Christian fundie church land, to see how they were dealing with Hurricane Katrina & relief.

Let's take that same walk and see if things have changed.

Calvary Chapel

In response to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Calvary Chapel’s are extending aid to the persons and communities directly affected by this tragedy.

Contributions can be sent to:


1) Assisting the Calvary Chapel pastors and churches by providing financial resources and by bringing teams to work alongside the Calvary Chapels: Calvary Chapel Stone Mountain www.calvarychapelstonemountain.com

2) Sending, warehousing, and distribution of supplies into the Gulf Coast area: Contact: U-Turn for Christ www.calvarychapel.com/romoland or Safe Harbor Ministries www.safeharbor.us

3) If you have evacuees that have relocated in your area that plan to be there more than two weeks, we suggest that the Calvary Chapel closest to the relocation areas serve the people as best they can.

4) Serving in the impacted areas as Police, Fire, and Rescue Chaplain, medical personnel, or a crisis counselor: Contact: Safe Harbor Ministries www.safeharbor.us or Horizon International www.horizonsd.org

5) If you are an individual without a team, and want to serve as a servant in the area contact Safe Harbor Ministries. They are organizing teams for a wide variety of purposes.

6) If you are a licensed building contractor and would be available to do charity construction please contact Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships at ccof@calvarychapel.com. We will make a data base of persons and skills for future reference.

Well, that's some improvement, although I'm pretty sure that prayer will be appreciated as help only after, you know, water, food, etc. Still, not bad.

The Vinyard

Assistance for Vineyard churches affected by Katrina

We are getting a lot of calls and emails about what the National office is going to do in response to the situation along the Gulf Coast.

IOW, same damn thing. Somehow I missed the headline last week, so here it is again:

Assistance for Vineyard churches affected by Katrina

Nice. We'll help the churches.

The Church On The Way

We're reaching out! We’ve all been moved by the destruction and personal loss suffered by victims of Hurricane Katrina. As people who are called by God to represent Him on earth, we’re compelled to respond in the Name of Jesus so we've begun a Rescue & Resource Operation. Your response has been great! Already hundreds of people have volunteered and multiplied thousands of dollars have been given. Breakthrough is happening and yet we’ve just begun. Right now we are transporting food, personal items, and more through our authorized FEMA source and local and Gulf States Warehouse. We are also in the process of purchasing hundreds of cots, lining up temporary housing, and setting in motion a job network for relocated victims.

RECUE & RESOURCE OPERATION BRIEFING MEETING • Sunday, September 11 @ 4–5:30 p.m. • The King's Family-Life Center Gynmasium, West Campus

We're mobilizing! You've responded marvellously to the request for volunteers, saying "Yes, we'll go" and "Yes, we'll help!" Now it's time to mobilize the troops. We won't take up much of your time. We'll even have refresments for you! We're asking everyone who has signed up or would still like to do so, to gather for this briefing. We're going to answer questions, talk strategy, plan, and build teeams. Right now we're set to send teams tot Robeline, Shreveport, and West new Orleans, Louisiana; Gurdon, Arkansas; as well as locally to our Pico Rivera Warehouse. We'll be sending out teams weekly for the next several weeks. Thank you in advance for responding and we'll see you in the Gym.

If you are interested in participating in our Rescue & Resource Operation and can't make this meeting or you want to donate bulk supplies, please contact our Rescue & Resource Office at:

Well, spell checkers are pretty useful, but still, pretty good. Actual work being done.

Crystal Cathedral

Same stuff.

Wait, there's more:

The Crystal Cathedral in collaboration with film composer John Debney request your presence at the U.S. Premiere of the PASSION OF THE CHRIST SYMPHONY.

Film composer John Debney has adapted the Passion Of the Christ into a concert choral symphony-requiem based on the themes he wrote for the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ (Academy Award nominated score). This symphony was premiered in Rome with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Choir in July of 2005.

A special collection will be taken. The orchestra, choir and all other participants are donating their time so that all proceeds will go directly to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

100% - of the donations will be given to the American Red Cross.

Katrina Care Hurricane Relief Collection

at the Crystal Cathedral this
Sunday September 11, 2005

Please bring the following items:

* New packaged underwear
* New socks
* Diapers
* New toiletries
* Canned meats
* New blankets

A truck will be located beside the Crystal Cathedral to transport your donated items to persons in great need.

Interesting. Read the last sentence again:

A truck will be located beside the Crystal Cathedral to transport your donated items to persons in great need.

Weird. That could mean anyone. Am I just being paranoid, or is it just a case of florid writing?

First Evangelical Free Church

Same stuff, nothing new.

The Tidings (Official Catholic news organ for the Diocese of Los Angeles)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has established a National Hurricane Relief Fund to assist those who have been devastated in the Southern part of the United States, particularly along the Gulf Coast. The funds will be administered through Catholic Charities USA, and parishioners will be given the opportunity to donate to relief efforts this Sunday at Masses.

"You may remember that at the time of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which so devastated our own Archdiocese, Catholics of the United States contributed over $7 million to assist us," said Cardinal Roger Mahony.

As part of the bishops' effort, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has established a Hurricane Relief Fund. Parishioners can send donations to their local parishes, which will then send a single check designated for "Hurricane Relief" to: National Collection for Hurricane Relief, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 3424 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010.

Or individuals can make a direct contribution to Catholic Charities at 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund, Catholic Charities USA, PO Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313-9788.

Some improvement. Not surprisingly, the first news below the banner is:

Making legislative history, on Sept. 6 the California Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Golden State lawmakers (state senators had earlier approved the measure) became the first in the United States to sanction gay marriages without a court order.

Mormon Church


Last week, these folks seemed to not care. Let's see what they're saying now.

Saddleback Church

Nichts. Nada.

The Vatican

Not so much.

So that's our trip through churchland. Still not sure what it means, except somebody once wrote this:

Matthew 25:35-46

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Friday, September 09, 2005

oh Stormy, bring back that sunny day

Shorter Geraldo on O'Reilly:

Natalee Holloway and her parents are victims of Hurricane Katrina

because they are no longer on the front page.


they will keep on speaking her name

I remember driving my sister to chemotherapy, with my mom. We still held out hope that the chemo would slow the growth of the cancer that eventually took Kristin from us. Chemo, while ultimately not effective, was part of our ritual, it gave some order and purpose to the days that otherwise might have been full of despair.

Now we see this from Raw Story:

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 30 -- The Naval Medical Center in San Diego's Balboa Park was shut down to accommodate a visit by President George W. Bush Aug. 30, RAW STORY has learned, forcing patients to cancel chemotherapy treatments and hundreds of scheduled patient visits.

"The pharmacy is closed. The emergency room is closed. Even chemotherapy patients will not be allowed on base," the daughter of one patient told RAW STORY shortly before the President's arrival. "My mother is a patient...She was contacted and told that her appointment had been canceled and would be rescheduled later. All civilian personnel and patients will not be allowed on base."

Hundreds of patient visits were cancelled as a result, she said. Patients and staff at the Naval Medical Center voiced concern over the shut-down of non-critical patient care services for a photo op that never even materialized. None were willing to go on record by name for fear of retaliation, such as loss of jobs or revocation of healthcare privileges.

One hospital volunteer expressed shock and disappointment at the apparent disregard for patient welfare.

I can't find words for the awfulness of this.

If this mendacious prick knew about this and allowed it to happen for his own aggrandizment, then he is evil.

If support staff knew about this and allowed it to happen for their party's public relations stunt, then they are evil.

If hospital management knew about this and allowed it to happen for whatever reason, then they are evil.

I truly wish any and all who agreed to these arrangements remember their actions when they drive their sister/brother/wife/husband/son/daughter to chemotherapy.


But it gets even wierder. From the same Raw Story piece:

But when Bush and his entourage arrived at the medical facility, those plans changed. One local news station reported that the President never left his motorcade, departing for the airport 15 minutes after arriving. The station aired footage of Bush laboring to ascend steps up to Air Force One, aided by his wife, Laura. A newscaster commented on the President's wavering gait and noted that it was unusual for him not to pause to shake hands with well-wishers at the airport. The broadcast led to local speculation that the President may have encountered a medical problem.

KNSD Channel 10 later retracted the story, reporting that Bush in fact entered the medical center and visited briefly with injured patients, but would not allow camera crews to accompany him. A call to the medical center's public relations office was not returned.

"We were providing the pool photography," KNSD TV assignment editor Gonzalo Rojas told RAW STORY. "We were originally told that we were going to be allowed to go in with him, but we were not. No one was. He was only in there a short time."

The President cut short his announced hour-and-a-half visit, departing an estimated 15 minutes after arriving at the medical facility. No reason for the abrupt departure was provided to the media, leading to speculation that the President was returning to Texas or Washington D.C. to address with the hurricane crisis.

Hundreds of protesters lined Park Boulevard outside the hospital entrance.

Earlier that morning, peace activists also gathered outside North Island Naval Air Station, where Bush spoke to an invitation-only group of World War II veterans. Backstage after the appearance, the President strummed a guitar, smiled and laughed, but did not comment on the unfolding catastrophic disaster in New Orleans.

Bush likely heard the distant drumbeats of anti-war protesters outside, though his motorcade entered through a side gate to avoid passing by the crowd.

On Monday night, an estimated 600 to 2,000 peace activists held a candlelight vigil outside the Hotel Del Coronado, the historic luxury resort where the President was staying. Activists lined a nearby beach and sang anti-war songs. A performance of Taps to commemorate fallen U.S. troops was interrupted by shouts and curses from a group of approximately 50 pro-war Bush supporters.

After civilian patients and volunteers were sent home in preparation for the PresidentÂ’s visit, "remaining military personnel were told to show up looking very spiffy, to appear in the auditorium and to remember that they will be on film," one hospital insider told RAW STORY. "In other words, 'If you want a career, and not to be sent to Iraq, cheer like hell.'"

Why no media was allowed inside the hospital to film the President--and why plans for the carefully orchestrated photo op were abandoned at the last moment--remain unknown.

God damn him.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'm in the phone booth, it's the one across the hall

My lovely sister-in-law Jody had a brilliant idea, and I'm passing it on here:

Sez Jody:

I have an idea for helping Hurricane victims, but I'm not exactly sure where to start. Matt and I have 3 or 4 old cell phones hanging around, and those people can't seem to find other members of their family... wait... step by step here's the idea.

Collect used cell phones here in California.

Get cell phone companies to activate them.

Distribute to people at the Astrodome and any other refugee shelters in the area, making sure to put a name to a phone number.

Distribute lists to the shelters, so people can start finding each other.

This is the theory any way. I think it is a fairly sound plan. The problem comes in how to implement it. Do I collect phones first, then approach cell phone companies or the otherway around. If I collect phones first and then appear at MEGATELCO's front door, it's easier to manipulate their response. But it's a big chance to take.

So, readers and fellow bloggers: Any ideas on how to organize it? Anyone have any Telco connections?

Don't leave me hanging on the telephone

I danced last night 'til a quarter to three.

Arizona Sen. John Kyl blames the victims.

Update: Sen. Santorum hates the victims.

FEMA hates the victims.

GWBush hates the victims.

As the Assoc. Press tells us, these are the victims:

Katrina's Ground Zero victims unlike rest of America, Census analysis shows

People living in the path of Hurricane Katrina's worst devastation were twice as likely as most Americans to be poor and without a car -- factors that may help explain why so many failed to evacuate as the storm approached.

An Associated Press analysis of Census data shows that the residents in the three dozen hardest-hit neighborhoods in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama also were disproportionately minority and had incomes $10,000 below the national average.

"Let them know we're not bums. We have houses. Our houses were destroyed. We have jobs. It's not our fault that we didn't have cars to leave," Shatonia Thomas, 27, said as she walked near New Orleans' convention center five days after the storm, still trapped in the destruction with her children, ages 6 and 9.

Money and transportation -- two keys to surviving a natural disaster -- were inaccessible for many who got left behind in the Gulf region's worst squalor.

"It's a different equation for poor people," explained Dan Carter, a University of South Carolina historian. "There's a certain ease of transportation and funds that the middle class in this country takes for granted."

Catina Miller, a 32-year-old grocery deli worker who lived in the Ninth Ward, a poverty-stricken New Orleans enclave created in the 1870s by immigrants who were too poor to find higher ground, said she certainly would have liked to have left the city before the hurricane hit.

"But where can you go if you don't have a car?" she asked. "Not everyone can just pick up and take off."

Jack Harrald, director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University in Washington, said emergency planners have known for years that the poverty and lack of transportation in New Orleans would be a significant problem, but the government spent more time and money preparing itself -- rather than communities -- for disaster.

"All issues were known," said Harrald, whose institute had been scheduling a series of emergency planning community meetings through a partnership with the University of New Orleans. "But it was still a work in progress. ... There's enough blame to go around for everybody."

The AP analysis showed:

--Median household income in the most devastated neighborhood was $32,000, or $10,000 less than the national average.

--Two in 10 households in the disaster area had no car, compared with 1 in 10 in nationwide.

--Nearly 25 percent of those living in the hardest-hit areas were below the poverty line, about double the national average. About 4.5 percent in the disaster area received public assistance; nationwide, the number was about 3.5 percent.

--About 60 percent of the 700,000 people in the three dozen neighborhoods were minority. Nationwide, about 1 in 3 Americans is a racial minority.

--One in 200 American households doesn't have adequate plumbing. One in 100 households in the most affected areas didn't have decent plumbing, which, according to the Census, includes running hot and cold water, a shower or bath and an indoor toilet.

--Nationwide, about 7 percent of households with children are headed by a single mother. In the three dozen neighborhoods, 12 percent were single-mother households.

"It's the same people who don't have the wherewithal to get out of Dodge," explained National Guard Lt. Col. Connie McNabb, who was running a medical unit at the besieged convention center in New Orleans.

The disparities were even more glaring in large, urban areas. One of the worst-hit neighborhoods in the heart of New Orleans, for example, had a median household income of less than $7,500. Nearly three of every four residents fell below the poverty line, and barely 1 in 3 people had a car.

"I didn't have much in there," said Deanna Harris, a 57-year-old unemployed New Orleans resident, "but it was mine.

"Now, this is what I've got," she said, patting a plastic bag.

The Ground Zero victims of Mississippi have much the same story.

In one Pascagoula neighborhood, where 30 percent of residents are minorities, more than 20 percent live in poverty.

In Alabama, where Katrina wasn't as severe, one of the hardest hit areas was a downtown Mobile neighborhood, where the median household income is barely $25,000 and 1 of every 4 residents lives below the poverty line.

"There's not a lot of interest in this issue, except when there's something dramatic," said Carter, the South Carolina historian. "By and large, the poor are simply out of sight, out of mind."

Monday, September 05, 2005

And you never ask questions when God's on your side

To GWBush, who waited days to do anything about Katrina:

To the bastards who kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans:

To the Right-Wing bastards who say stuff like this: “…it is more tragic when someone dies because they have nowhere to go, than when only their own bullheaded stupidity is to blame.”

To born again Right Wing bastards who say, in the name of their cruel religion, stuff like this:

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

To rascist bastards who say thing like this

New Orleans was ripe for collapse. Its dangerous geography, combined with a dangerous culture, made it susceptible to an unfolding catastrophe. Currents of chaos and lawlessness were running through the city long before this week, and they were bound to come to the surface under the pressure of natural disaster and explode in a scene of looting and mayhem.

Like riotous Los Angeles since the 1960s, New Orleans has been a wasteland of politically correct dysfunction for decades -- public schools so obviously decimated vouchers were proposed this year (and torpedoed by the left), barbaric gangster rap culture no one will confront lest they offend liberal pieties, multiculturalist frauds who empower no one but themselves, and cops neutered by the NAACP and ACLU.

To the rest of the bastards out there who bloviate on Hurricane Katrina and wave the banner of personal responsibility, religion, racism, and especially those who claim to be Christian, here's something to think about:

Matthew 25:35-46

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

All the chapel bells were ringing, in the little valley town

Responding to Joseph at Martini Republic's urging to wax religious again on Saturday, I came up with the idea to see what major religious bodies were doing/saying regarding Katrina.

Taking a look first at the Right Wing fundamentalist churches, here's what I found.

Those with a link on the front page:

Calvary Chapel

In response to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is extending aid to the communities directly affected by this tragedy.

A team is currently on the way to address the immediate and future needs of the communities in the area.

If you feel led to contribute to this relief endeavor please send your contributions to:(100% of your contribution will go directly to the relief.)

If your church would like to contribute or send a team to the gulf coast to minister through the local Calvary Chapels please send your contact information to Calvary Chapel Stone Mountain at:

Orange County based, very conservative mega organization, arguably at the fore of the Jesus Freak movement here in Southern California in the late '60s to early '70s. In the interest of full disclosure, my primary client (they had a recording studio) from about '88-'92


The Vinyard

We are getting a lot of calls and emails about what the National office is going to do in response to the situation along the Gulf Coast.

We do not have the resources at the National office to coordinate a response. I encourage local churches to form partnerships with other churches and the churches in the disaster area to respond to the needs in a concerted and effective way.

We have set up a fund for helping with relief. These funds will be distributed as it becomes evident where they will be most wisely used.

Please send checks to The Vineyard USA, P.O. Box 2089, Stafford, TX 77497 and note on the check "Katrina" fund.

Vineyard is a rival to Calvary Chapel, esp. in Orange County, also another former client of mine.

The Church On The Way

We have all been moved by the destruction and personal loss suffered by those in the gulf states of our Nation—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida—through Hurricane Katrina. The televised images are horrific and for every image there are countless numbers of individual people whose lives have been completely changed. Those who once had jobs and homes, neighborhoods and families have suffered tremendous loss in what is being called one of the worst natural disasters in United States history. Mayor A.J. Holloway of Biloxi, Mississippi called it, “our tsunami,” and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the scene is overwhelming.

There's more.

Based here in LA, they attract a fair amount of conservative industry folks.

Crystal Cathedral

Save them, Father, from dark fears
despite the devastation all around them.
You are the guard and guide
of all who place their trust in You.
So now may they rest
in Your abundant love and be strong.
Give them believing minds and trusting hearts.
Your peace shall be their strength,
and into Your hand of love
may they place their hands,
and face the future unafraid.


The page also contains links for donations. CC is pretty conservative, and seriously anti-union when they hire players for their Christmas extravaganza (camels, etc.). They also are slightly prosperity oriented, although not as bad as the infamous Reverend Ike.

First Evangelical Free Church

EFCA Compassion Ministries is responding to the needs indicated by our EFCA churches in the region hit by Hurricane Katrina. To get the latest information on our response, please click here.

Urban Impact Ministries, an EFCA mission in New Orleans, evacuated before the storm. To read about their ministry and their needs, click here.

To donate to the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief fund using our secure server, click here. You can also call our donor services team at (800) 745-2202 or mail in a donation. To mail in your donation, please make checks out to EFCA and send them to:

Another big conservative church based in Orange County.

The Tidings (Official Catholic news organ for the Diocese of Los Angeles)

Catholic Charities was just one of several national organizations gearing up to provide assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans Aug. 29 and left dozens dead in its wake.

Mormon Church

The Church is responding to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Information is available on how you can help. For official Church news, see News from the Church and the Newsroom.

Now for some that really can't be bothered:

Saddleback Church

Seriously big mega church on south Orange County. Pastor is Rick Warren. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, is a long time best seller.

I've done audio technical work for them, nice folks, but a huge technically based organization. Better audio and video equipment than many TV networks.

The Vatican

Hey Joey Ratz: Thanks.

Not sure what any of this means, it was just interesting seeing what spin some of these outfits put on the whole relief issue.

While I have no trouble acknowledging that many of these churches have lovely people in their memberships, I am pretty cynical about management, especially the ones about whom I have insider knowledge.

Hopefully I'm wrong.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in

As the New Orleans weather and political disaster continues to unfold, many of us will try to help, in various ways. Many in the blogosphere are organizing to this end.

Some of us are once and future musicians, so this from BitchPhD tells of a way to help we previously didn't know about:

And finally, an additional source for donations that is especially dear to jazz-loving me: the Preservation Hall Hurricane Relief Fund, which will donate 100% of the money raised to New Orleans musicians. Most working musicians, as you know, live a pretty hand-to-mouth existence. Preservation Hall will even give you a free t-shirt if you can donate $150 or more.

While that may initially seem a little back burner to some, consider that many of the Preservation Hall guys are elderly, and clearly don't get paid a ton, so I suspect some, perhaps many, are at the SuperDome or convention center attempting to merely stay alive. And while the money will likely do no immediate good, if it helps during their rebuilding process, that's fine.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

True confession time: I'm a West Wing junky. After watching every re-run for the 20th time, I turn to Pam and say "Best show on TV." For many reasons I (emotionally) feel this to be true. I love Martin Sheen as President Bartlet, and while I think the writing isn't quite what it used to be, under Aaron Sorkin it sparkled.

I just watched for the zillionth time "In Excelcis Deo" from the first season. Primary plot line is Toby Zeigler gets involved with the death of a homeless Korean War vet, and arranges a formal military funeral for him.

I'm a life-long pacifist. I frankly hate everything about military life and culture except this: The military exists to defend our country. This truly is covered by the hoary maxim: It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Having said this, the end of this episode moves me greatly. Toby, Ms. Landingham, the vet's brother and the Marine color guard are most of the attendees. Watching the Marines carefully and precisely fold the flag after the 21 gun salute is terribly emotional. The precision and care in the process, and the way they actually caress the flag while folding it, seems to be an act of real connection with the moment. I can easily imagine them caring, and mourning, for a fallen brother, no matter that he fought in a different battle.

If GWBush felt one bit of human connection with the soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq, he would go to a funeral. He would fold the flag, and present it to the next of kin. He would wince at the violent noise of the 21 gun salute. And he would actually try to bring the rest of the soldiers home.

Instead he plays guitar while New Orleans drowns, and says "stay the course."