Saturday, November 24, 2007

Out of Control

UPDATE: I want to point out that I discuss this particular video because it is the one that is being widely circulated and debated at the moment. It is NOT the worst example of excessive force, nor does the suspect exhibit model behavior, but it is a good example of what I believe is the misuse of what I believe is still a dangerous weapon. Also it should be noted that I perhaps identify most closely to the suspect as a white, 30-something with a young family...

This video has been all over the internet, so you may have seen it already. It's ten minutes long, but worth watching to really understand exactly what a fucking fear-based, authoritarian country we have become. If for some reason you can't watch it or want to cut to the (non-)chase, I put a transcript of the key moments in the comments. Check it out:


Holy. Shit. Pulled over for (possibly) speeding and you end up getting 50,000 volts, cracking your head on the highway, and under arrest—all in front of your hysterical pregnant wife and child—because you questioned the cop.

There's an excellent thread on this incident at John Cole's place, and a reader named Kirk does a really valiant job trying to explain the cop's POV and possible motives/fears (here, here, and here). He makes some really good points, but it all boils down to a confused, if somewhat belligerent, motorist getting assaulted for no good reason by a taser-happy asshole cop who loses control of a situation he handles poorly from the outset.

I want to point out that I have limited experience with this type of situation, I think I've gotten two traffic tickets in my life, and they were both a long-ass time ago. The circumstances were pretty cut and dry, and I was completely deferential to the officer in each case. I would expect to behave the same way if it were to occur again. As such, I don't particularly relate to the way this motorist behaves in terms of challenging the cop, but he IS within his rights. Personally? I would take my ticket and fight it in court (or pay it), but things get confusing here in a hurry, thanks to the cop (hopefully, you've watched the video or read the transcript)...

So the cop issues a ticket, but is unclear exactly what the infraction is, and simply demands the driver sign it. After reading various accounts, it seems that in Utah, you are expected to sign a ticket as a promise to either appear in court or plead guilty and pay the fine. But this motorist has never gotten a ticket, and has no reason to know that—and neither would I. I would not want to sign it either! Hopefully I could better communicate my confusion and get an explanation from the cop, but with this douchebag, that might not have happened for me either.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, "In the event that a motorist refuses to sign a trooper has two options. One is to write "refuses to sign" on the citation, which is then given to the driver. The second is to arrest the driver."

Once the driver refuses to sign, this cop clearly never considers the first, and more appropriate option, and takes the refusal to sign as immediate grounds for arrest—but never informs the motorist of any of this, and casually asks him to "hop out of the car." The driver thinks they are going to look at the speed limit sign, and the next thing he knows there is a screaming cop with a taser in his face, and within seconds, he's been shot without warning.

That's all it takes. Failure to comprehend what's going on and you are "resisting" and subject to a horrific bodily assault. You are not threat to yourself, the officer or the public. No attempt to flee. Nothing except perhaps failure to completely submit without question for an minor traffic infraction you believe you are innocent of. To a cop that has given no indication by his behavior or words that the situation has escalated to a level requiring arrest, never mind extreme force.

Commenters elsewhere have pointed out that the motorist is “reaching for a weapon/pocket”. That’s bullshit. He appears to be putting his wallet back in his pocket, and if that ever went through the cop’s mind, I’m pretty sure we would have seen/heard evidence of it on the tape. Either at the moment, or after the fact when the suspect asks what caused the tasing, and especially when he describes the incident to the other cop—”I thought he was going for a weapon…”

Officer Asshole decided he was going to show this guy who was boss, and arrest him. For speeding.

He either has no hesitation about using excessive force or he simply mishandles the situation so poorly that he panics and fucks up. Either way, he is wrong, and doesn't deserve to be carrying waepons and dealing with civilians. Put that dick behind a desk or better yet, fire his ass.

--

But this is part of a bigger problem. First, tasers are fucking dangerous. No, they are not deadly weapons in the same sense as a handgun, but as three separate taser-related deaths last weekend indicate, they should not be used without justification. But they clearly are—in some cases even more outrageously that the Utah speeding case:

• Here's one where an intoxicated, but hardly dangerous, Ohio woman is tased repeatedly by a cop that has a good hundred pounds on her, simply because, it appears, he doesn't feel like bending over to restrain her.

• A bicyclist tells his story of a confrontation where he ended up getting tased for trying to ride home from the airport.

• But the most blantant abuse of force appears in this video of a student in the library at UCLA. If you can get past the horrendous cell phone cinematography, this one is disturbing for what it reveals about the police and their techniques.



--

We are now in a era when people can be detained, wiretapped, surveilled, questioned, or whatever for no reason whatsoever and expected to comply without protest. No warrants issued, no charges need to be filed, no habeas corpus, the government is assuming powers they should not have, and at the same time introducing new torturous techniques to enforce compliance.

At a time when governement and police actions most deserve to be questioned and scrutinized, that will be met with hostility, excessive force and pain. Great combination.

Andrew's right. President Rudy should fucking scare the shit out of you. I suspect many of the people who think they have "nothing to fear" aren't too different than Jared Massey—they are just driving down the highway with their family, minding their own business...

UPDATE: CNN interview with the motorist, and a UHP representative.

It's hard to tell in the video but according to this story Massey is tased a second time for not rolling over fast enough.

It's probably also worth noting that Utah is one of the states that has yet to outlaw ticket quotas.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Breaking: Sullivan Endorses Hillary

Well, only when faced with a Hillary v. Rudy election...Still, i can hardly think of a blogger who hates Hillary as much as Andrew Sullivan, so this is saying something:
Between Fear and Loathing
Lying awake the other early morning, I found the twin images of Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton coming into my mind. [...] I loathe Clinton; I fear Giuliani. Which emotion surges most? Clinton could still pull it out as my least favorite, but right now, my fear of Giuliani is outweighing my loathing of Clinton...

All the things I admired about Giuliani as mayor loom as liabilities as president. The security state is understandably more pervasive and powerful than before. But the newly empowered executive branch - with powers to seize anyone anywhere without charges and torture them if necessary - makes a man with the instincts and temperament of Giuliani a real danger in the White House. [...] Maybe not immediately - but in the wake of another terror attack, I don't think anyone can feel comfortable with what he might do to the Constitution and American liberty... it's my gut sense of the kind of man Giuliani is and the kind of world he would confront as president. We can't risk him under those circumstances. So it's back to dealing with a candidate who, however loathesome, is not quite as dangerous.

I can't think of a single major Democrat that would make me switch and vote for the other side*. That tells you how putrid a prospective President Rudy makes—he's driving the sensible Republicans to the GOP's anti-Christ.

*And, no, that's not because i am a blind partisan, but because I have a fucking brain in my head and see what's happening. I could vote for a guy like Chuck Hagel over a hypothetically bad Dem nominee (ie: Sharpton)—but only in a vacuum. It's besides the point because Hagel's more likely to get the nomination as a Democrat than in today's GOP.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving


“Thanksgiving—Conversation” by the incomparable Chris Ware. The full series here.

Holiday Linkage:

Rickey’s Tips for Having a Keen Time This Thanksgiving "Most importantly, don’t get weird with the stuffing. Cornbread stuffing is stretching things far enough. If you venture into the realm of potato latke stuffing or oyster stuffing, then you, friend, are a jackass. You know what kind of stuffing Rickey likes? Normal fucking stuffing. The kind that comes in a plastic bag and says “Pepperidge” on it."

Digby reminds us of what happened on Nov 22 a long time ago... Something tells me that if this happened today, we'd be under martial law by sundown.

Via BoingBoing, get creative when peeling your potatoes today...

Monday, November 19, 2007

John McCain: Toughguy Moron

John McCain is trying hard to muscle-up as the toughest GOP candidate...
"It's my intention, if we win this nomination, to reject Secret Service," he said during one of his many conversations with reporters on his Straight Talk Express this weekend. "Why do I need it?"

He adds: "The day that the Secret Service can assure me that if we're driving in the motorcade and there's a guy in a rooftop with a rifle, that they can stop that guy, then I'll say fine. But the day they tell me, 'well, we can't guarantee it,' then fine, I'll take my chances."

McCain rejected Secret Service protection in 2000, after winning the New Hampshire primary. But he wants to go further, rejecting the massive security apparatus should he become president.

"It's the inconvenience," McCain said. "It's the inconvenience it causes people. It's a waste of the taxpayers money. It's just everything I don't like."

[...] He recalled a time during Bill Clinton's presidency, when Clinton and his wife, the first lady, both had events in New York City, each traveling with large security caravans. "The island of Manhattan was gridlocked," he recalled.

[...] "you don't need 50 cars and SUV's full of people driving along, stopping traffic."

Jesus. What's next with these fucking idiots? "I'm gonna wear me some six-shooters, and Allah help Osama if he crosses my path while I'm out fightin' crime."

Nice how he works that little partisan "those Clinton Pussies" barb in there, huh? Like Bush just rides his mountain bike around town when he comes to NYC...

I lived in New York during Presidential visits, and yeah, it was a pain—for about twenty minutes while the motorcade flew up the FDR. Better to have, as McCain waxes, "a car with tinted glass, and maybe one secret service guy with you" caught in a traffic jam?

Sorry, but you have a bit of a responsibility to the country to try and stay alive.

Oh, and Senator? Would you care to explain how this fits in with your "four helicopter gunships and a battalion of troops" escort in that "safe" Baghdad marketplace...

[h/t: 'Bagger]

Friday, November 16, 2007

'Bout Fucking Time

Carpetbagger:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has decided to keep the chamber in session over the Thanksgiving break to block President Bush from making any unsavory recess appointments while Senators are out of town.

Good. Reid should do this for the rest of Bush's misbegotten term. Too bad the Dems didn't tell Bush to pound sand instead of confriming Mukasey, and then done this.

This Old Big House


The University of Michigan is adding a big load of bullshit along with its luxury boxes to Michigan Stadium (aka "The Big House").

After tomorrow's loss to Ohio State, the 107,000-seat stadium will undergo extensive renovations including the addition of 85 luxury suites which (as this picture shows) are basically like two big office buildings along the sideline sides of the stadium.

So, what's the problem? Well, it seems the University has been skating by with "only 88 seats for the disabled, far short of the more than 1,000 that advocates say are required." That's pretty bad. For the record, the stadium is primarily bleacher seating and involves long-ass climbs down into the "bowl" to reach seats, and all services are around the perimeter outside. I could see how that sucks for a guy in a wheelchair.

The University is already battling lawsuits from disabled groups over this, but now the federal Dept of Education is threatening to withold funding for the University if this project doesn't remedy the situation. Good.

U-M makes the bullshit claim that "the original stadium bowl is being repaired, not renovated, and is not subject to A.D.A. rules set in 1990." That's crap. The University's own website on the $226 million project says as much.

That's the same kind of bullshit loophole crap utilities and refineries, etc. use to avoid pollution controls, etc and that shit pisses me off. But this is even worse—this is a state university. An educational intitution. A non-profit (in theory). Step the fuck up, U-M, and do what's right. Add the handicap seats or toilets or whatever and quit being greedy revenue-chasing assholes.

[main image from The Onion]

Miscellany

THE ILLUSION OF INEVITIBILITY
When somebody tells you Hillary has the nomination all sewn up, tell them to shut the hell up. And then direct them to this:
CBS News poll from Dec. 17, 2003, polling nationally:
Dean 23%
Clark 10%
Lieberman 10%
Gephardt 6%
Sharpton 5%
Kerry 4%
Edwards 2%
Moseley-Braun 1%

That said, from what I saw of last night's debate, Hillary (with CNN's help) mopped the floor with her rivals.


MLB (NELSON) AWARDS
Since this is the week MLB announces the player awards such as Rookie of the Year, MVP, etc, I thought I'd announce my Baseball Nelson Awards. The first "Ha Ha!" goes to the recently-indicted Barry Bonds. Good luck adding to your HR record if you now have to hit the ball over razor wire... And the "Agent of the Year Award" goes to Scott Boras who cost his be-lipsticked douchebag client thirty million dollars and himself a commission. Actually, maybe ARod came out ahead on that deal...


WANTED: CELLMATE
Remember the Florida State Rep. that was arrested for soliciting a male cop for sex in a park bathroom? You know, back when that sort of thing was all the rage among GOP officeholders (ie: summertime)...and he came up with the best/worst excuse ever*—claiming that since the cop was a "stocky, black guy" he became so frightened he thought he better offer the guy $20 and a blowjob? Well, the still-in-office Rep. Allen had his day in court and was convicted. How "frightened"/aroused would Allen be if they put Barry Bonds in his cell with him? [h/t: The Legal Satyricon]

UPDATE—Bonus humiliation for Allen: "Because of the nature of the crime, prosecutors said, Allen would have to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The results, they said, would be made public." That seems a bit excessive. Hilarious, but excessive.

*Do yourself a favor and click that link.


OUCH.
Canada doesn't fuck around with their Public Service annnouncements. Check out these workplace safety PSAs. [Warning: Some are extremely graphic.] Restaurant and Construction, Retail, Warehouse.

The "C" Stands for "Crappy"

Would it be too much fucking trouble for CNN to have the debate available online? What, is it 1994 or something?

All they have are the moronically-selected "gotcha" moments. Fucking CSPAN can handle this shit—if you can't put the thing online, you shouldn't be used as a venue to host it.

Oh, and Wolf Blitzer's a fucking douche.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nicely Played, Sir.

Perfect, and fairly entertaining, encapsulation of the Writer's Strike.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Approved for Presidential Consumption

[via Smitty] I ran the old blog through a "Reading Comprehension Analyzer." Hell, Smitty's beer and home-brewing blog achieved "Post-Grad College Level" so I expected at least "Undergraduate"...

Not so much...

cash advance

Goes nicely with the NC-17 rating, I suppose.

No More Polls or Platitudes. Tell. Me. Why.

Barney...Barney...Barney...Saying it doesn't make it so:
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank Endorses Clinton

[Here's the quid...] The Clinton Campaign announced the endorsement of Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and named him as an Economic Advisor to the Campaign.

[...and here's the pro quo...] "I have from the beginning of this campaign believed that Hillary Clinton was the candidate best qualified to serve as President,” Rep. Frank said. “I am convinced that once elected, the qualities she will bring to the job - commitment, intellect, and political skills - will make her an extremely effective [blah...blah...blah] is capable of appealing to the majority of our fellow citizens, and I believe that she is both politically and substantively the candidate best qualified to be our nominee.

Seriously? I am still waiting for somebody to actually explain why this is true. What is it exactly that makes her "most qualified" either "substantively" OR "politically."

If you want substance, a record and experience, Dodd (or even Biden) blow her away. And "politically?" She won based solely on name and reputation in a hand-picked carpetbagger race in a deep blue state. Though it is not entirely (or even mostly) her fault, she is easily the most polarizing political figure outside of George W Bush, and in my estimation actually stands the greatest chance of actually LOSING the election, and costing us dearly down-ticket as well either way.

Somebody please tell me why she is the person we should nominate. I mean somebody besides Hillary herself, a Republican or the retarded oddsmakers in the media.

[h/t: Sullivan]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dick of the Week: John McCain

From the Carpetbagger:
Obviously, presidential candidates aren’t responsible for comments made by their supporters. Candidates are, however, responsible for showing a little class. It’s apparently something that John McCain has forgotten.

At a campaign event in South Carolina, a McCain backer stood up to ask the senator, “How do we beat the bitch?”

In response, McCain said, “We have our differences with our Democratic rivals, but I believe in treating people with respect. It’s why I don’t refer to women as ‘bitches,’ even when I disagree with them. I’m sure all of us believe we can debate the serious issues of the day without name-calling and degrading language.”

No, no, I’m just kidding. He actually responded, “That’s an excellent question.”

You have to see it to believe it...


I love the follow-up, “John, she’s talking about my ex-wife!”

ROTFLMAO! That might even be construed as spousal abuse! Hysterical!

First of all, I was initially shocked that the question came from a woman, though I suppose she felt "innoculated." But seriously, is that the kind of comment people feel comfortable making in a high-powered meeting with a Presidential candidate? Who fucking does that? And the room reacts with uproarious laughter?

In any normal room a comment like that goes over like a lead balloon. With most people being, like, "what did she just say?"

But not McCain. After has to composing himself from laughing, he then treats it as a perfectly valid, no, an "Excellent" question...in front of a camera no less.

He's lucky the next question wasn't about Obama.

Somehow I don’t think the next Rasmussen poll will have you up three points, Senator. Stay classy!

"...we're going to Heaven! Yeaararh!!!

Yes, this is actually a news story, and this is actually the headline:
Dean says Jews can go to heaven
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean came out for inclusive team prayers in public schools while speaking Sunday to a gathering of thousands of Jewish leaders, according to a leading Jewish news agency.

In another statement likely to stir debate among the evangelical Christians his party is urgently trying to court, Dean also asserted “there are no bars to heaven for anybody,”

The remarks in Nashville, Tenn., come at a time when Democratic candidates in general – and the DNC in particular – have been increasing outreach to voters for whom faith and values is a decisive issue.

[...] Dean’s comments followed an address by the University of Tennessee's head basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, who told the crowd that as a Jewish student in public schools, he always felt uncomfortable when he was playing sports and his team's pre-game prayers would end with an invocation to Jesus.

"This country is not a theocracy," Dean said, "There are fundamental differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party believes that everybody in this room ought to be comfortable being an American Jew, not just an American; that there are no bars to heaven for anybody; that we are not a one-religion nation; and that no child or member of a football team ought to be able to cringe at the last line of a prayer before going onto the field."

Personally, I think it would be more fun (and accurate) if Howard said "there is no heaven, you suckers."

The right-wing fundie crowd is aghast at these comments, "that's up to God, not Howard Dean and the Liberals.." etc. I'm also pretty sure it's not up to you, either. The fact that a guy who married a Jewish woman and has Jewish children might want to believe they can go to Heaven too is a threat to these freaks?

Sorry, God Squaders, if Heaven is only for judgemental, white, hyper-religious assholes, I'll pass. And I'm pretty sure Howard's not courting your vote either.

Random Kickassery: Dolphins


Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s meal
Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone.

That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life.

[h/t: withleather]

Monday, November 12, 2007

Basement Blogging

So, do any of you fine readers ever wonder about the Fortress of Fury? Does Mr Furious blog poolside with a Corona at arms length? Maybe from a deer blind as he polishes his bolt-action?...Underground bunker?...Well, wonder no longer...

Here is your long-awaited (or not) look into the cockpit where I pilot the Starship Furious...


"Crap Factor Six, Mr Chekov!"

Why am I sharing this abomination? Because this is my self-initiated intervention—"You're a fucking slob, Mr Furious. I know you're busy as hell, and this isn't all your fault, but look at that fucking disaster." Mrs. F packed up all the Halloween decor, but I can't even get the bins over to the storage closet. Something has to give...


[L to R, top] 1. The bottom of the steps—where we shove everything from upstairs when we need to quickly get things out of the way. Supposedly a "temporary staging area," and those things will be put away when we have time. That time never arrives. 2. Another view of my desk. Shudder. 3. Believe it or not, that treadmill does get used. The pilates machine too. Just not by me... [bottom] 4. The home "theater." How relaxing... 5. You thought you had a hard time finding the remotes... 6. Clothes unloaded from the dryer onto the concrete floor still count as "clean."

So I am posting these for some motivation, and, assuming I'm ever done, for affirmation. Of course, as I took these photos this afternoon, I had grand plans of cranking out some serious cleaning while Baby F napped and Kid F was at a birthday party...Might even have some football on in the background...As soon as I snapped 'em, Baby F woke up, distraction ensued and ten hours later the room is exactly the same.

An auspicious beginning...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Manly-Meme


Toast has initiated a shaving meme, and being several days removed from the news and blogging I figure this is a good way to get my arm loose...Here goes:

At what age did you start shaving? I have no idea...I can remember growing the retarded high school "mustache" at about 16 or 17, and that probably involved shaving the rest of my face to delude myself that there was hair left on my lip, but I didn't really "need" to shave until I was in college.

How often do you shave? Usually twice a week. Based on a combination of laziness, lack of time in the morning and the beard allowing me to push the stubble look further at work.

Last time you shaved? Thursday. (Today is Sunday)

What's the longest you can go without shaving? Five days. Beyond that and itching becomes unbearable, and I start to feel self-consciously sloppy about going to work...

What kind of razor do you use? Gilette Sensor Excel. Best. Razor. Ever. Getting difficult to find. I think they are trying to upgrade people to the ridiculous battery-powered razors. Whatever the fuck those things are.

How often do you change blades? Every few weeks or so. If I let the beard go too long I don't fuck around—that job calls for a fresh blade. Otherwise, I base it on resistance.

Ever use an electric razor? Yeah. They suck. Granted it was long time ago, and probably not a great one, but I thought it was slower, did a worse job and was more uncomfortable. I used to watch my roommate use one and he'd look like he had poison ivy on his neck it would be so irritated and I just couldn't understand him...

Ever use a straight razor? No. I'm curious about the whole old-fashioned hot towel prep, brushed-on creme, and shaved by an old barber in a chair with a razor, but I would never do it.

Do you own/use a facial hair trimmer? Not specifically. I have a clipper I use for my hair, and that is used to fix the length of the goatee. All shaping and edging is done with the razor when shaving.

Do you own/use a nose hair trimmer? No. But I would probably use one if I had one. I currently use the scissors that came with my clipper, or just rip them out...which hurts like a mother and triggers a sneezing fit.

What shaving substance do you apply? Edge® Sensitive Skin Gel. I don't think my face is particularly sensitive, I just don't want any scent at this stage.

And what balm, if any, do you use afterwards? Used to use Nivea® for Men. Recently switched to the greatest post-shave product ever—the previously Mr Furious-endorsed Every Man Jack®.

What do you shave? Face only.

With the grain or against? Never against.

Ever shave your genital hair? Not normally, but I had to "prep" myself for my vascectomy. Nerve-wracking, but mishap-free, but the re-grow was an itchy nightmare.

Place you hate shaving the most? Immediately below my mouth, and then the chin. Hence the goatee.

Ever use chemical hair removal treatments? Nope. Is there a man who has? Even Mrs. F never tried. But she is undergoing some laser-hair removal that sounds like it might be effective for "enhanced interrogation."

Best part of shaving? I'm pretty ambivilent about it. I probably prefer the look of a couple days growth.

Worst part of shaving? A nick. Doesn't happen often, but when it does, I'm NOT a fan.

Worst shave you've ever had? No particular shave jumps out, but anytime I'm stuck using a sub-par razor, it sucks.

This picture is illustrative of how I look most days...a couple days since my last shave. The beard is trimmed slightly shorter than its normal Youkilisian glory as I had job interviews on Friday.


Since most of my readers overlap with Toast, the only person left to tag with this is America's Hirsute Hero—Rickey.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dick of the Week: Jerry Bowyer

Is it too early to commit on Dick of the Week? Perhaps, unless somebody else comes to pry it from Jerry Bowyer's fat, stupid, lying conservative hands...

The California Fires: Where were the Looters?
by Jerry Bowyer | Posted: 11/01/2007
Did you see any looters on television last week? Neither did I. When New Orleans was flooded two years ago, there were looters all over my TV screen...

What about the rapists? There were rapists at the refugee camp formerly known as the Superdome, but did you see any reports about rapists at Qualcomm Stadium last week? I didn’t. Did the mayor of San Diego cuss and then lash out at George Bush on your TV screen last week? Did Governor Schwarzenegger cry for the cameras? Did he pass the buck?

San Diego had a major fire just four years ago. Did they wallow in their victimhood and demand more government funding? Did they play the race card, claiming that George Bush just doesn’t like Mexicans?

Where to begin? Let's first look at just the geographic and type-of-catastrophe differences: San Diego is a huge spawling region with dozens of lanes of interstate highway going in and out in all directions, plus local and secondary roads, and few natural obstacles.

New Orleans is an old city built in a bowl at the end of a peninsula surounded by water with very few ways out.

Hurricanes are massive catastrophic forces that hit all at once and disrupt/destroy hundreds of square miles simultaneously with a combination of deadly wind, rain and flooding.

Wildfires, by definition, start in uninhabited areas, spread locally and more slowly, and can be more easily avoided. Evacuations can be handled on an individual neighborhood level, rather than an entire metropolitan area at once.

Katrina is widely recognized as the worst disaster in U.S. History. This years wildfires, while tragic, are a frequent occurance in an area familiar with dealing with them. The fires in 2003 were worse. Mr. Genius continues...
The answer to all these questions is ‘no’. Here’s why: culture matters. San Diego is an entrepreneurial city. It’s a technology savvy, business-friendly region with unusually high rates of self-employment. Few of its citizens are unemployed; few receive welfare. Not many of its employed residents work for government. San Diego has seen its share of troubles. Like Pittsburgh had been a steel town and Detroit had been a car town, San Diego had been built on the defense industry. But when the Berlin wall came down and the defense budgets dried up, it shifted towards the next big thing – biotechnology. These changes have come from the bottom-up; from the marketplace.

San Diego sure has pretty beaches, and palm trees, and more laptops per capita, I'm sure—but Jerry's grand socio-ecomomic assertions are total bullshit...

Unemployment rates:
San Diego—4.6% (January 2005)
New Orleans—5.0% (December 2004)

Largest Employers:
San Diego—Government (18%)
New Orleans—Government (17%)

Oh, and any of the rest of you recall "defense budgets drying up"? I didn't think so. Anything else, Jerry?
I wonder if a reverse 911 evacuation call like the one that went out to a million San Diegans would have even worked in New Orleans.

Um, no. Because everyone in New Orleans was told to leave at once, too late, and with no way to do so. Plus, they had to flee the entire region. In San Diego, things went a bit differently:
Residents were subjected to a mix of mandatory and voluntary evacuations, depending on their location in the projected path of the fire. Voluntary evacuation areas were typically further from the fire's path, while mandatory evacuation areas faced a more imminent threat...

Many residents were notified of evacuations via a computerized Reverse 911 phone call system. Law enforcement officers also notified residents by driving through evacuation areas.

The 513,000 people notified by Reverse 911 is not actually "a million" and the system only existed a month before the fires... Oh, and all of that helpful stuff done in San Diego? It was the government, and it was implemented in large part in response to what went wrong in New Orleans.

And the Superdome versus Qualcomm comparison? Hmmm. Did the people in San Diego wade through sewage and corpse-ridden water to get to a ill-equipped, ill-supplied refugee camp where they were left trapped, in some cases forced at gunpoint, without food, water, electricity or sanitary conditions? While a hurricane ripped the roof off?

Or did San Diegans calmly drive in their cars, park in a parking lot and check into an overstaffed, well-prepared camping ground with 70 degree weather?

He concludes with one of the wierdest amalgams of red herring and straw man meets hypothetical I've ever read [emphasis mine]...
I’m already bracing myself for the hate mail. “YOU’RE BLAMING THE VICTIMS!” they will blare. But I’m not blaming them, I’m trying to help them. Poverty stinks to begin with, but it’s even worse when a hurricane or an earthquake attacks. If I told you that today you were going to be hit with a natural disaster, but that you got the pick the city where your family would be when it hit, would you pick a rich one or a poor one? Would you pick one with honest and efficient road construction agencies or patronage ridden ones? Would you pick a town where almost everyone had Blackberries and cell-phones or where almost no one did? Would you pick a town were most people were business owners or where most of them were on welfare?

Too bad nobody told the poor, car-less inhabitants of New Orleans they could have chosen to be in a fantastic city where they'd have flying cars and two-way wrist-tvs instead of trapped in a fucking swamp.

Whose blaming the victims? Not Jerry.

What's Missing?


That's the current state of the Furious Mantle. You know what's missing? I mean besides photos of the second child? That's right—Weblog Awards.

Mrs F continues to hang tough in the middle of the "Best New Blog" pack, and I've called in just about every favor I can to drum up votes (ie: shamelessly shilled for votes in comment threads). Wherever she finishes, it's pretty damn cool that she made the cut as a Top 10 New Blog, period.

That said, we still want a top half finish, so go vote!

Here are my picks for some other categories:

BEST BLOG Malkin led this one for a while, but now everyone is getting their ass kicked by PostSecret which is a site I'd never heard of before. Apparently it's the "biggest ad-free site" on the web. People write down a secret on a postcard and mail it in. The site is updated weekly. Sorry. That's crap. Probably should have been in "Arts & Letters" or something. I've been voting for Andrew Sullivan, and Huffington Post has pulled ahead of Malkin for the silver.

BEST INDIVIDUAL BLOG None of these are blogs I frequent, hell I've only even heard of a few of them. Throwing Lindsay Beyerstein a bone here.

FUNNIEST BLOG: Not familiar with any of these,and not blown away with what I've seen.

BEST COMIC STRIP: Voted for xkcd. It's the stick figures strip you've probably seen. I don't know if it's the ""best" or not, but I've actually heard of it, and it's a block against "Day By Day".

BEST ONLINE COMMUNITY: Little Green Assholes is dominating this one. Go vote for Kos.

BEST LIBERAL BLOG Hullabaloo. Digby is one of the best writers online. Period.

BEST CONSERVATIVE BLOG Also known as "Tastiest Dogshit." I'm actually boycotting this category since Balloon juice was inexplicably yanked from it—which would have been a tremendous upset. The excreable Malkin is currently leading.

BEST POLITICAL COVERAGE Talking Points Memo and Carpetbagger Report should be battling this one out. Neither are finalists, and I don't know any of these. Pass.

BEST CELEBRITY BLOG Wil Wheaton is running away with this one, even though he is clearly the farthest removed from fame... He deserves it.

The rest are like voting for school boards and judges...Hit Kissing Suzy Kolber for Sports, and scroll waaaay down-ballot for Balloon Juice for Top 250, and The Carpetbagger Report for 251-500.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Fucking Clue for the Democrats...

The reason Congress' approval numbers are spiraling down the bowl, is NOT because you are "weak on terror" or "don't support thr troops" it's because you refuse to fucking stand up to the Administration and the GOP and refuse to do anything of substance to slow down the slow and steady destruction of Constitutional Democracy.

The confirmation of an Attorney General who thinks torture is fine and dandy, and the President is above the law is just the latest in a long list of failures. It's not even what I would call a "disappointment", because it was inevitable.

I actually wish we never regained the Congress. At least the Republicans knew they were rubber-stamp, and didn't pretend otherwise.

You guys are a fucking joke.

There is much more to write on this, but I'm not sure I have the energy. Nor is there any point.

--

Recovering Republican and would-be Conservative John Cole joined the Democratic Party this week. Sorry I won't be there to welcome you, John. I am leaving. I will stay long enough to vote for Chris "The Only Guy Who Remembers the Constitution" Dodd in MI's primary and then I am out.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"I'd Like to Thank the Academy..."

I was listed as a 2007 Weblog Awards Finalist this morning.

"Woo Hoo!"

But, there's a problem. I was listed under "Best New Blogger" and I've been blogging for years.

So, I 'fessed up and pointed out that there's been a mistake—either I'm in the wrong category (nominated as "Individual") or they meant Mrs. Furious (who was nominated in the "New" category)..

Yup. it was a typo. Mrs. Furious is the finalist. I'm out...

But, I'm like the Bill to her Hillary, so go vote for her when the time comes!