Saturday, September 10, 2005

No, not abandoning

This is more like rats plundering a sinking ship...
Two articles of note today:

According to a new poll, the President's approval rating has fallen below 40% for the first time in his administration.

The second is a report that already companies with close ties to Bush have been receiving reconstruction contracts for the gulf coast.

Friday, September 09, 2005

In Memoriam

The Fourth and Fifth Ammendments to the Constitution
B. 4 March 1789
D. 9 September 2005

Fourth Ammendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Ammendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

- The Bill of Rights

According to a decision released today, the federal government may arrest and hold indefinitely, without charge or trial, a US citizen on US soil. Beyond being a clear violation of the constitutional protections regarding search and siezure and due process, it also represents a grave abrogation of the principles of separation of powers. It is sad that the reactionary conservatism of Judges like Roberts and Justice Thomas extends only as far as the Second Ammendment, otherwise their usual concern for the framers' intent would have cases like this overturned immediately.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Katrina - Another firsthand account

So I found a great firsthand account from two katrina refugees about how terribly the situation is being handled on the ground. I'll reserve my comments for later when I have something constructive to say.

Let them eat cake?

So, the French make yet another surprise visit to the blog today in the form of the already over-saturated Barbara Bush quote regarding the excellent relief job her big boy is doing. This particular excerpt is from the nation, but you can it and find it elsewhere.

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush told American Public Media's "Marketplace" program... . Full Article

I'd love to think of something witty and incisive to say, but there's really not much that you can do with material like that. However, I do have enough WASP in my heritage that if they start breaking out the guillotines, I'll be heading for the Canadian border. It was the best of times....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Revolutionary Thoughts

I first started thumbing through a few of my old textbooks for some of the original Liberal passages regarding life, liberty, and property, specifically with the thought of applying them to the latest news of the day. It seemed more than a little ironic that the leaders of this country had forgotten the basic tenets of western democracy, something along the lines of "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...." At any rate, I was half way through Locke's Second Treatise when I ran across passage that seemed slightly relevant at first, and then significantly more so as I continued to read. Rather than paraphrase, I'll let Locke sing it for you himself.

222. The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property; and the end while they choose and authorise a legislative is that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the society, to limit the power and moderate the dominion of every part and member of the society. For since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making: whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of a new legislative (such as they shall think fit), provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.

Here's where it gets interesting

What I have said here concerning the legislative in general holds true also concerning the supreme executor, who having a double trust put in him, both to have a part in the legislative and the supreme execution of the law, acts against both, when he goes about to set up his own arbitrary will as the law of the society. He acts also contrary to his trust when he employs the force, treasure, and offices of the society to corrupt the representatives and gain them to his purposes, when he openly pre-engages the electors, and prescribes, to their choice, such whom he has, by solicitation, threats, promises, or otherwise, won to his designs, and employs them to bring in such who have promised beforehand what to vote and what to enact. Thus to regulate candidates and electors, and new model the ways of election, what is it but to cut up the government by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public security? For the people having reserved to themselves the choice of their representatives as the fence to their properties, could do it for no other end but that they might always be freely chosen, and so chosen, freely act and advise as the necessity of the commonwealth and the public good should, upon examination and mature debate, be judged to require. This, those who give their votes before they hear the debate, and have weighed the reasons on all sides, are not capable of doing. To prepare such an assembly as this, and endeavour to set up the declared abettors of his own will, for the true representatives of the people, and the law-makers of the society, is certainly as great a breach of trust, and as perfect a declaration of a design to subvert the government, as is possible to be met with. To which, if one shall add rewards and punishments visibly employed to the same end, and all the arts of perverted law made use of to take off and destroy all that stand in the way of such a design, and will not comply and consent to betray the liberties of their country, it will be past doubt what is doing. What power they ought to have in the society who thus employ it contrary to the trust that along with it in its first institution, is easy to determine; and one cannot but see that he who has once attempted any such thing as this cannot any longer be trusted.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Enough with the Finger Pointing

Ok. We get it. Somebody messed up. As soon as the steady stream of looting was replaced by the far less controversial imagery of Presidential photo-ops, the news coverage has shifted to the next big question: figuring out who's to blame. If things continue along their current path, the fallout from Katrina will have far less to do with oil prices and domestic refugees, and far more to do with the aftermath of the battle of the pointed fingers.

Thus far the most likely culprits include:
- The weather, by which we mean both the failure to predict the future, as well as general trends of global warming (which, I suppose, implicates Republicans by proxy);

- Racism, a reliable standby of southern political debate;
(in an interesting corrolary, the liberal media are apparently to blame for southern racism, so we can put them in the "guilty" column as well;)

- The federal government, under which we include key people (President Bush, Michael Chertoff, Michael Brown) as well as the institutions they head (the military, DHS, FEMA), along with the Congress, for good measure;

- Past leaders, notably Mr. Clinton, but you can really go all the way back to the French (and shouldn't Thomas Jefferson, with all of his engineering know-how, have insisted on an inspection before buying the city?)

- The state and local governments of Louisiana and New Orleans respectively and, in specific, their apparent refusal to ask for help;

- Creole pride, for making the locals too stubborn to evacuate;

- Bourbon Street, for making the locals too drunk to evacuate;

- The French, again, for making Bourbon Street in the first place and, thereby, calling down the wrath of a vengeful god;
(corrolary culprit: gay people, for living on Bourbon Street and attracting said vengeful deity's ire);

- A vengeful god (for making the French) or for any number of reasons;

- The looters, for not simply taking what they need to survive and, instead opting for guns, televisions, sneakers, and beer;

- The looters, again, for making the situation too unsafe for the government to rescue the non-looters;

- The insurgency, in Baghdad this time, for keeping our National Guard bogged down overseas;

- Hoarders and price gougers, for keeping gas prices high;

and last but most certainly not least

- 9/11, for distracting national attention from natural disasters, and being an indirect cause of more than half of the above culprits.

It goes without saying that, at a time of national tragedy, no one wants to be seen as making political hay from the suffering of innocent victims. That said, it also goes without saying that everyone knows the best way to gain a political advantage is through exploiting the suffering of others by blaming it on your opponents. The Democrats (outside Louisiana) seem to be largely content to sit back and let the local politicians and the nation's editorial pages do their dirty work for them, yet it strikes me that this is the perfect opportunity to finger one last (and as far as I can tell, unnamed) culprit: the massive poverty and systemic alienation of the inner city poor which either caused them to ignore official evacuation orders or which left them with insufficient resourses to escape.

I'm not suggesting that we blame the current administration for the problems of national poverty, but rather that we blame the poverty itself and, using the example of the devastation of Katrina (both the storm and the aftermath) set out to improve the conditions of the poorest Americans. There are countless arguments to be made, on both sides of the debate, over a nanny state, socialism, welfare, and limiting the role of government, but surely we can agree that were these people better educated and more employed, not only would they have had the means to evacuate before the storm, but those that remained behind would not have been subject to the level of desperation that breeds violence.

Val Kilmer tagging caper returns

It's been a while since anyone had mentioned the VKTC , but I thought I'd bring it up. In my last foray into the beautiful metropolis that is Toronto ( with another author of this blog) I noticed that there're still a lot of val kilmer tags around. So for those of you who missed the boat, or have just forgotten here's a rundown of the caper . Personally I'm all for it, espescially the band members' pseudonyms (all characters from val kilmer movies), now I just need to get a hold of one of their albums to see if they're any good.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Blog-o-scape sullied once more

I wholeheartedy accepted my invitation here to spread my opinions like so much spongy, sweet, and distinctly evil marshmallow fluff over the peanut butter sandwich that is this blog. I plan on bringing the aftertaste that you enjoy but feel wrong about liking.

I thought for my first post here I'd jump in on the whole Katrina discourse. Why wasn't the country better prepared for this? I mean New Orleans is below sea level, and hurricanes hit the gulf coast. Shouldn't there have been more of a plan and a faster way to recover, espescially given our dependancy on the oil refineries there? But amidst all the tragedy ( all kidding and ranting aside this is really awful) and confusion, all I can think about is this guy who used to stand on bourbon st with a big sign asking everyone to repent while he yelled that god's wrath would come if we didn't clean up our acts... I wonder if he belives he was right.

Opening Post

Well, like that guy from the Onion a few weeks ago, I finally decided to enter the blogosphere (which I still feel silly saying, even in my head). Virtually every ex-Brighton type with whom I've spoken over the past few years has waxed nostalgic (if only briefly) for the particular brand of intellectual repartee we had there. As such, it seems altogether fitting and proper that we take advantage of the blogosph--no... the opportunities afforded by the digital age to once again rant, rave, bicker, spout off, and possibly even agree on the most important subjects of the day.

I don't have contact info for everyone (nor do I even have a mental list of who the aforementioned "everyone" might be), so please help me find people who ought to be here, and perhaps a few others as well. The blogosphere won't know what hit it.

(Ed Note: Now that it's out of my system, I hope never to use that word again.)