aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Reporting from NOLA
Romenesko on the New York Observer has this:
People in New Orleans complained that the thing they needed most was for someone to come in with a bullhorn and tell everyone what was going on. “In 10 days of devastation following the hurricane, the Times-Picayune was as close as they would get,” writes Gabriel Sherman. Advance.net exec Steven Newhouse tells him: “For me, at a time when it’s fashionable to badmouth journalists, [the coverage of Katrina] shows the amazing dedication and craft of the people at the Times-Picayune and many other newspapers. I don’t want to comment on the government [but] to say that a lot of people didn’t realize what was happening, they were just not watching the stories being put out.”
Los Angeles Times reporter Scott Gold says there was no conscious effort to transmit anything but the news out of New Orleans. “I saw no need to dress it up or approach it with any point of view, or to make it sound any more dire or tragic than it was. This is what it was.” NYT reporter Shaila Dewan says: “Theproblem was there was such a disconnect with what we were seeing and what we were hearing from local officials. You always have tension when youre a reporter about how much weight to give an officials viewpoint. In this case, it was exacerbated by the disconnect. You could walk out and count five dead bodies, and the officials were saying there were 60 dead bodies in the county, and you said, ‘No way, I just saw five dead bodies myself.’”
Schwarzenegger’s bizarre position explained
Schwarzenegger’s position here would seem quite bizarre, turning Republican orthodoxy on its head. Why would such a fundamental public policy decision be the role of the courts rather than those elected to make public policy?
Presumably, he’s simply arguing that the law is unconstitutional because of Proposition 22. This measure passed overwhelmingly in 2000, adding “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” to the books. Technically, it did not ban gay marriage because it was already banned: “Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman.” Prop 22 was aimed at ensuring that homosexual marriages performed in other states would not be recognized.
However, both these provisions are merely part of the Family Code rather than the state Constitution. As Vikram Amar notes, this is a rather subtle distinction in this case because state referendums can not be overturned by the legislature. Indeed, the process for passing a Proposition that amends the constitution and one that doesn’t is virtually identical. Still, if a simple statute would be held to violate the Equal Protection clause, it’s doubtful that a statewide referendum would.
Of course, Prop 22 could be put on the ballot again in the form of a constitutional amendment which, if passed, would by definition be perfectly constitutional.
Could this process lead to an an outcome like in MA, where (I expect) the citizenry had time to acclimate and see the benign result so that by the time it’s back on the ballot it will be defeated?
Felony charges quietly dropped for Kutztown 13
Now that’s more like it:
The case against the “Kutztown 13” - a group of Pennsylvania high school students charged with felonies for tinkering with their school-issued laptop computers - seems to be ending mostly with a whimper.
In meetings with students over the last several days, the Berks County juvenile probation office has quietly offered the students a deal in which all charges would be dropped in exchange for 15 hours of community service, a letter of apology, a class on personal responsibility and a few months of probation.
I’m glad for the outcome, but still believe laws like Pennsylvania’s are too broad and thus ripe for abuse.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
CA legislature passes gay marriage bill
The California Legislature on Tuesday became the first legislative body in the country to allow same-sex marriages, as gay-rights advocates overcame two earlier defeats in the Assembly.
The 41-35 vote sends the bill to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The bill’s supporters compared the legislation to earlier civil rights campaigns, including efforts to eradicate slavery and give women the right to vote.
“Do what we know is in our hearts,” said the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno. “Make sure all California families will have the same protection under the law.”
Leno’s bill had failed in the Assembly by four votes in June, but he was confident he could get it through on a second try after the Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill last week.
Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, called bans on gay marriage “the last frontier of bigotry and discrimination, and it’s time we put an end to it.”
Last week, in a story noting that Arnold’s office said leave it to the judges, assembly action looked unlikely. I bet he signs it.
Calling government condemnation of private property for wealthy developers a trend “not widely recognized until the Supreme Court decision in June,” the WaPo today reports on a condemnation in Missouri turned around in the uproar over Kelo:
The city council here, known as the Board of Aldermen, decided last year to level the 65-acre subdivision so that Novus Cos., a local developer, could build an upscale shopping mall to be called Main Street at Sunset. Of the 254 homeowners, 229 have agreed to sell their property to Novus. The owner of a shopping mall two miles away has financed the efforts of the holdout owners to block condemnation of their properties.
In July, the alderman authorized condemnation proceedings against the remaining owners—including David and Lorraine Wright, a black couple who had planned to spend the rest of their lives in Sunset Manor and thus declined to sell their home.
“We thought at first, you know, we didn’t have a prayer,” David Wright said. “How can you fight City Hall? And then the Supreme Court ruled against people like us.
“But the reaction to that decision has been so strong. The project is kind of stopped. So now we are thinking maybe we can stay here.”
Novus, the developer, said it is searching for new financing. Meanwhile, the project is on hold—a painful development for the 229 homeowners who had agreed to sell their houses and move.
Time to put looting issue to bed
The photographer who took the other controversial shot, Dave Martin of the Associated Press, said he saw the person in his photograph and others loot an abandoned grocery store, AP representatives told Salon.
But in this context, what is looting anyway:
First, there are those obtaining items like food, drink and clothing that are critical to their survival. These are not looters at all. They are human beings with functioning survival instincts. Second, there are the people walking out of stores like Wal-Mart with televisions and other non-essential goods. They are opportunists and looters, but given the devastation in New Orleans, they’re not even worth a second thought. Third, there are the people who are roaming the streets with guns and terrorizing and robbing other needy citizens. These are criminals, and they should be met with force.
It’s time to put the looting issue to bed. New Orleans is a disaster area, and people who were taking food and water before the government showed up with relief were perfectly justified. If the slums of New Orleans had been filled with white people, they would have done the exact same thing.
One cost of privatized busses
Nathan Newman notes that though “Conservatives such as those at FreeRepublic have repeatedly shown” a picture of flooded school busses “as proof that it’s local officials who are to blame for the New Orleans debacle” the problem is:
[T]hese buses were owned not by the city but by Laidlaw, a company emblematic of the dysfunctional public transit system that is the decades long product of conservative policies. Laidlaw is the parent company of Greyhound bus lines and is one of the main benefiaries of school bus privatization across the country, managing them for school systems across the country.
Conservatives have long promoted the privatization of government services: Laidlaw is exhibit A of this privatization across the country, transporting 2.3 million students daily. That Laidlaw failed to coordinate with relief efforts is hardly a surprise, since its history is one of corporate incompetence and indifference to the public interest.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Today it’s hot, Hot, HOT:
FOR a new visitor to ride a bicycle down Commercial Street on a summer evening here is to get a one-two punch of beach town tourism and colorful bohemia that can’t be found anywhere else… Friendly, flamboyant, overwhelmingly gay: Provincetown is still all these things and first impressions are not wrong. But stay for a bit and you’ll find a less happy picture. A real estate boom has spread unease, pitting wealthy newcomers and developers against the townies, artists and free spirits who give the enclave its bohemian character and who now fear it is being gentrified out of existence.
“It’s a microcosm of a broader shift, of the slow seepage of gay culture into mainstream culture,” said Andrew Sullivan, the gay writer, who bought a small apartment here years ago when real estate was more affordable. “It’s the bourgeoisification of the gay world.”
Mr. Sullivan has seen the wharf where he lives go from a seedy sex-and-drugs party spot to a spiffy condominium peopled almost entirely by straight and gay couples. Marriage has intensified the transformation, he said. With nearly a sixth of all gay weddings performed in Massachusetts taking place here, Provincetown, he said, is reinventing itself as a utopia for upper-middle-class gay couples.
I can’t agree. I’m with filmmaker John Waters (a renter!) on this one:
Mr. Waters, who has himself gone from underground filmmaker to household name, said the changes here have happened all over America. “We live in a much less bohemian time,” Mr. Waters said. “Outsider is such a tired word. There’s no great youth movement happening; there are no hippies today, no punk rockers. The world has changed. Some gay people are straighter than my parents.”
Still, he said, he finds it encouraging that the unapologetically flamboyant Provincetown is not giving up easily. The fact that Miss Ellie is still belting out “My Way” in front of Town Hall is enough, he said. “To me,” Mr. Waters said, “it’s still the P-town I like. You still see families come here to have their pictures taken with drag queens and to stare at gay people. I find that hilarious.”
Families frolicking with gay people and having their pictures taken with drag queens? I find that wonderful.
Blaming the locals
Besides being a despicably cynical ploy, it fails on its face. Kash at Angry Bear:
Think about it for a moment. The rescue effort now involves tens of thousands of military personnel, and even with that massive influx of manpower the process is still taking days. How many police officers did New Orleans have? A total of just 1500. Similarly, moving the estimated 100,000 people in New Orleans who did not have a car would have required at least 2,000 buses. Yet the city of New Orleans possessed just a few hundred. Obviously there were more buses in outlying communities, but of course those communities also had their own people to move, so that doesn’t help much.
Mention of the outlying communities reminds me that the federal response failed all across the gulf. Mississippi’s hurting bad too. Is the administration pointing fingers at Haley Barbour? Guess not:
‘The federal government has been fabulous,’ the former head of the Republican National Committee said on CBS` ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘They`ve worked and worked and worked.’
He said, however, there have been delays in getting supplies out to hurricane survivors.
‘Distribution is not as good as we want it to be, not as fast as we want it to be,’ he said.
Praise for “delays” and “not as fast as we want it to be.” He’s W’s kind of guy.
I didn’t mention it when Brit Hume blamed local officials yesterday on Fox News Sunday. But I noticed.
Now Josh Marshall’s been noticing that first the Washington Post then Newsweek got spun by a “senior Bush official” saying that Louisiana Gov. Blanco was late in declaring a state of emergency and thus slowed the federal response:
Only this claim seemed to be belied by a copious public record, not least of which was the actual declaration of a state of emergency dated August 26th, 2005, available on the state of Louisiana website.
Josh asks, “Who’s Newsweek’s source?” Atrios says:
For shame, Washington Post. For shame, Newsweek. There’s little reason to trust anything which appears in their pages anymore, especially those “facts” atrributed to “administration officials.” They’re allowed to lie, and keep lying.
Kos says the PR offensive isn’t working. And has the numbers to prove it:
Bush’s trip to the disaster area helped stem the collapse of his numbers for a day, but ultimately, people have realized the president’s utter lack of leadership and effectiveness on the issue.
LATER: The Carpetbagger Report, Rove steps in.
And from Bull Moose:
Clearly, Director Rove is at the helm of the Federal Emergency Image Management Agency (FEIMA). He will not dither like Chertoff and Brown. He will not accept bureaucratic excuses. And he will roll over anyone in his way to rescue his boss from political peril,
Sunday, September 04, 2005
We’re watching online
Katrina’s caused a record number of visitors to watch online video at CNN’s Web site. It’s a short record; CNN only started offering free video on June 20.
They say they’ll be showing video produced by you and me too:
Besides posting its own video clips, CNN.com sometimes makes available amateur video from viewers, who are increasingly sending in their own clips, said Mitch Gelman, the site’s executive producer.
“People have more digital cameras and DVD recorders, so we’re getting more digital media from our audience,” he said.
We’ve not been well governed
Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:
[my transcription] When you have an instance of poor execution, which I think we had this week, [administration officials] are unhappy about it. Not just because it’s bad PR for the president but because their responsibility is to govern the country, and as Hamilton said in Federalist 70 a government ill executed is a bad government. And I think that we’ve not been well governed for the last week.
Kristol has also recognized the president’s failings in Iraq:
The war isn’t going well, and the president has troubles in Iraq, and I think he should do a better job of executing the policy, which I happen to support.
Two instances of poor execution, at home and abroad. We’re not being well governed.
Dear Mr. President
An open letter from the Times-Picayune today:
We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, “What is not working, we’re going to make it right.”
Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.
Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.
How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.
Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.
Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.
Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a “Today” show story Friday morning.
Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.
We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.
...Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.
In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, “We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day.”
Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.
Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, “You’re doing a heck of a job.”
When this thing started and it was clear that the city was going to be flooded, I thought, “at least the death toll isn’t that high.” Now we know the death and human suffering are unimaginably horrific.
A lingering image from the World Trade Center attack is people forced to make the horrific decision to jump to their death. Now, a week after the storm, we learn they’re jumping to their death in New Orleans, from balconies and a freeway overpass.
The overpass from Lee Cowan on CBS News 60 Minutes II Friday, where he also said that in the aftermath of the Tsunami the people knew the world was there, while in New Orleans “everyone feels like the world’s forgotten” and that “there are a lot of people that are really trying their level best to help the people that are here but the response so far just does not seem to match the scope of the disaster.”
I too am numbed by the daily television images of death and destruction from around the world, but today I ache and I am helpless and I am angry to see my fellow Americans who last week lived in a modern American city but who now day after day are crying into cameras desperate for help that has yet to arrive.
I am totally taken aback by the news of Justice Rehnquist’s death. in the spring I wrote a long post on Rehnquist headlined Racism, Rehnquist & gay marriage. I reread it this morning and decided to repost it today, in its entirety...
Jeffrey Rosen has a terrific profile of William Rehnquist (Rehnquist the Great? Even liberals may come to regard William Rehnquist as one of the most successful chief justices of the century) in the April Atlantic, unfortunately available by subscription only. Rehnquist was appointed to the court at the moment of my political awakening, newly liberated by the automobile and the anti-war movement (in Harrisburg, PA with the Berrigan brothers) at the age of 16 in 1971. When Rehnquist warned, in 1969, of “the danger posed by the new barbarians” I myself was but a budding barbarian.
Later Bob Woodward’s flattering portrait in The Brethren softened me somewhat so that by the time he was named Chief Justice, I was more forgiving. But still, there was this:
During his clerkship, which began in 1952, Rehnquist wrote two highly controversial memos to [Supreme Court Justice Robert] Jackson that would provoke firestorms during his own confirmation hearings, in 1971 and 1986. In the memos Rehnquist seemed to urge Jackson to dissent in two historic civil-rights cases: Brown v. Board of Education, which would strike down school segregation, and Terry v. Adams, which would block efforts to exclude blacks from the pre-primary selection of Texas Democrats. Rehnquist claimed during the hearings that he was expressing these views at Jackson’s request-an assertion disputed by Jackson’s secretary. Several legal scholars believe that Rehnquist probably lied in denying that the views were his.
I’m inclined to believe he lied. I’ve mellowed enough now that I don’t even hold it against him. Those who held views that from our vantage point today are unacceptable, even “barbaric”, are not the problem. It’s those who even today hold those views that I find frightening. That’s not Rehnquist:
Rehnquist ultimately embraced the Warren Court’s Brown decision, and after he joined the Court he made no attempt to dismantle the civil-rights revolution, as political opponents feared he would. His change of position reflected not only his reverence for the Court as an institution but also his sense that once a majority has spoken, the decision has a legal force that must be obeyed.
A reasonable person could wonder, after reading Rosen’s piece, would today’s crop of conservative justices have the same respect for the law and reverence for the institution?
Democrats and Republicans
Kevin Drum, Friday, on Ideology and Reality:
Conservatives fundamentally believe in a limited role for the federal government. They believe in downsizing, privatizing, and placing greater reliance on state and local government to provide essential services. It’s easy - too easy - to blame George Bush in hindsight for specific things like cutting the Corps of Engineers budget for the New Orleans district, but the reason this criticism is legitimate is because this wasn’t merely a specific incident. As even some conservatives tacitly admit, it was a direct result of George Bush’s governing ideology.
FEMA was downsized and partially privatized because modern Republican leaders think that’s the right thing to do with federal agencies. Budgets were limited for levee construction and first responder training because Republicans have other priorities. The federal government was slow to respond to Katrina because conservatives believe states should take the lead in looking out for their own needs. George Bush talks endlessly to the cameras about the private sector helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast because that’s the kind thing conservatives believe in.
Liberals, by contrast, believe in a robust role for the federal government. We believe in sharing risk nationwide for local disasters. We believe that only the federal government is big enough to coordinate relief on the scale needed by an event like Katrina, and that strong, well managed agencies like FEMA should take the lead role in making this happen.
Andrew Sullivan says he’s wrong:
Real conservatives believe that the state should do a few things that no one else can do - defense, decent public education, police, law and order among the most obvious - and leave the rest to individuals. Funding FEMA and having a superb civil defense are very much part of conservatism’s real core.
Sorry Andrew, I side with Kevin:
Rarefied arguments about “real” conservatism aside, the brand of conservatism actually on offer today clearly doesn’t value things like disaster relief and doesn’t care much about competent management of anything else either. On that much, at least, Andrew and I appear to agree.
I’m hoping the problem is somewhere else because I realize that I do not have my blogroll backed up but for the moment both my blogroll and the Raging RINOs blogroll are down.
I’m trying to figure out why, and if I get them back I will immediately back them up!
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Gay media today (reconsidered)
The other day the Times looked at the new gay cable networks:
The most striking difference between Logo and other networks is what the gay channel doesn’t have: straight men humorously acting out their subliminal fear of homosexuality. Those kinds of jokes are rampant elsewhere: whether it’s a “Saturday Night Live” skit, the guys needling each other on “Entourage” or a sendup of homophobic hysteria on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” young men on television now make the same kinds of gay jokes that abound in “Wedding Crashers” and “The 40-Year-old Virgin” ("Know-how-I-know-you’re-gay?")
When Logo launched I reminisced about my work on an early gay television series and said that I no longer wanted gay programming to be “ghettoized” on its own cable network.
But the Times puts the network in the context of “a growing conservative movement to roll back gay rights” noting that “theirs is a serious movement; there are all kinds of differences and intolerances around the country, but most are not bolstered by Senate legislation and passages from the Bible.”
The conclusion was more positive than I’d expected:
On the broadcast networks, gay characters are just renting space in a real estate market that is crowded and subject to radical change. Logo and Here! reflect more than just the ever-narrowing niche marketing of cable television; they provide a starter home for gays and lesbians who want some sense of ownership in a fickle media world.
Who knows, maybe I was wrong. Maybe the Religious Right has given us a reason for a gay cable network.
Emergency Broadcasting for the 21st century
Among the tragic breakdowns we’re seeing in New Orleans, communications is worth noticing. Recently I wondered is it even worth having an Emergency Broadcast System? Now more than evey I believe that what we’ve got is not worth it. I wish we would just chuck it and spend the money where we need it.
The commercial media do an excellent job of getting the word out both before and after a disaster. The Emergency Broadcast System played no role in 9/11 and my guess is little or no role in the evacuation of New Orleans.
The place to spend money, the Emergency Broadcast System we desperately need, is on communications technologies and equipment to enable emergency personnel to communicate during the crisis.
These issues come to mind thanks to a couple of posts at The Commoner’s Rights. There Brad is upset at the reliance on cellular technologies and the move towards 800 MHz service by municipal governments:
Cellular service is completely unsuited for use by our government agencies. Cellular service is designed to provide limited range communications services that rely totally upon the presence of a centralized authority in order to function - yet cities and counties all over the country have dropped support of their own communications infrastructure citing cost: it’s cheaper to pay for a cellphone contract for the police than to put on the city payroll the technicians and support management needed to maintain reliable, but redundant, communications channels - communications channels that, unlike cellular service, have range of many, many miles (especially when backed up by hilltop repeaters, police and fire services can communicate over distances of tens of miles) and, just as importantly, provide service that degrades gracefully; a poor, noisy and distorted analog radio link is still better than no link at all, which any cellphone user knows is exactly what you get when these purely digital radio communications devices encounter weak signals or strong intereference.
Meanwhile, Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing asks:
If you work for a wireless company, an internet service provider, or another tech company—please consider how your resources might help the countless Americans now displaced and suffering.
She points to these notes from a conference call hosted by the FCC Friday about urgently coordinating resources and personnel from internet/wireless service providers to get communications networks up and running again and has this update on the Bellsouth network status.
Sacrifice IS necessary
I’m hundreds of messages behind in email. And have barely had time for reading and blogging. So today in an email a friend sent Thursday I was pointed to that day’s NYTimes editorial noting that “George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life” on Wednesday.
I don’t doubt that the speech was bad. What I have heard has not been inspiring. But what galls me more is this comment from the Times on sacrifice:
Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president’s demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.
Sacrifices may be necessary??? Good God!!! Can’t we—any of us—call on people to give something up in a time of need for the betterment of our fellow citizens?
It’s bad enough that the politicians can’t imagine an electorate that might respond to a call to sacrifice, but even the media in commenting on it can’t bring itself to say the obvious: WE MUST SACRIFICE in times of strife. If we do we’ll all be better for it.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Arnold on gay marriage: Leave it to the judges
Bucking the trend, in California the legislature acted:
The California Senate voted Thursday to allow homosexuals to marry, becoming the first legislative body in the United States to embrace the idea and setting off a scramble for three votes needed for passage in the Assembly.
Almost completely along party lines, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would allow marriage between two people rather than only between a man and a woman.
Assembly action is unlikely. And there’s this gem from the governor’s office:
Signaling a likely veto if it does pass, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s spokeswoman said he preferred to let judges sort out the legality of gay marriage; such a case is moving toward the state Supreme Court… Margita Thompson, said that although the governor supports domestic partnerships, he does not agree with legislatively allowing gay marriages.
Via Kevin Drum who comments:
That’s something you don’t hear every day: the legislature should avoid legislating and instead let the judiciary legislate for them. Politics doesn’t get much more gutless than that.
Photographer comments on his “whites found groceries” caption
My gut reaction to the Romenesko headline, Photographer believes couple did “find” groceries, was skeptical. But Chris Graythen’s sportsshooter.com post is compelling and persuasive. I am quoting it in its entirety:
->> Jeasus, I don’t belive how much crap I’m getting from this. First of all, I hope you excuse me, but I’m completely at the end of my rope. You have no Idea how stressful this whole disaster is, espically since I have not seen my wife in 5 days, and my parents and grand parents HAVE LOST THIER HOMES. As of right now, we have almost NOTHING.
Please stop emailing me on this one.
I wrote the caption about the two people who ‘found’ the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not ‘looted’ them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn’t have taken in, because I wouldn’t eat anything that’s been in that water. But I’m not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.)
I’m not trying to be politically correct. I’m don’t care if you are white or black. I spent 4 hours on a boat in my parent’s neighborhood shooting, and rescuing people, both black and white, dog and cat. I am a journalist, and a human being - and I see all as such. If you don’t belive me, you can look on Getty today and see the images I shot of real looting today, and you will see white and black people, and they were DEFINATELY looting. And I put that in the caption.
Please, please don’t argue symantics over this one. This is EXTREMELY serious, and I can’t even begin to convey to those not here what it is like. Please, please, be more concerned on how this affects all of us (watch gas prices) and please, please help out if you can.
This is my home, I will hopefully always be here. I know that my friends in this business across the gulf south are going through the exact same thing - and I am with them, and will do whatever I can to help. But please, please don’t email me any more about this caption issue.
And please, don’t yell at me about spelling and grammar. Im eating my first real meal (a sandwich) right now in 3 days.
When this calms down, I will be more than willing to answer any questions, just ask.
Thank you all -
Salon has a good story with more on the “looting” or “finding” question.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I thought the Times was supposed to start charging for the opinion pages today. Turns out, I remembered wrong. What I read said only “September,” not “September 1.”
I’ve been contemplating for months what I’ll do if they do start charging. Kevin Drum’s reaction was to stop quoting op-eds and columns. He started again (and I can’t place the link) after hardly anyone noticed.
Me, I very well may pay. I am a paid subscriber to numerous magazines and I was even one of those few who paid for Slate the moment it debuted. But what I wish they’d do is choose the Salon model:
Salon offers an ad-free environment for subscribers willing to shell out $35 a year, as well as a Site Pass that requires visitors who are allergic to paying for online content to sit through an advertisement before accessing the site.
Although I tune out most online advertisement, and, like 98 percent of the web population, refuse to shell out for content, I realize somebody has to pay my salary—and those of reporters, editors, sales staff, webmasters, etc. That’s why I’m intrigued by the success of Salon’s Site Pass. Even someone as jaded as I am might be willing to take out a minute of my day to watch an ad if it means I can read stories I can’t find anywhere else.
I’ve seen some bloggers complain about the ads, but I love them. The other day there was an ad for HBO’s Rome that was so good I started a blog post about it. I regularly enjoy the Absolut ads, and the ads for socially responsible left leaning organizations I support.
Their advertising is obviously effective: I can’t recall a single ad I’ve seen on any other site anywhere ever. That from a guy who once worked in online advertising!
I’m also very difficult for advertisers to reach. I have TiVo so I’m among those who successfully avoid TV commercials. At 51 they’re not much interested in me anyway, but Salon’s is a model I’d like to see replicated.
Defunding public schools in the south
Doug Thompson realized the value of capturing history 46 years ago as a 10-year-old schoolboy in Farmville, Virginia, when the community, caught up in a fight over integration, closed the public schools and opened an all-white private school.
A variation on that theme happened here, too, and all across the south. Here they didn’t close the public schools, but they opened the all white private school. And now, just like in inner-city schools, hardly any fine upstanding middle class person would put their child in the public schools.
And anecdotally we know that those same people who started the whites only schools got themselves elected to the public school’s board and systematically defunded the public schools.
The decline of the public schools--and the concomitant rise of private schools and home schooling--will cost this country dearly. It astounds me that we don’t recognize that the rise of this nation’s power, standard of living and standing in the world is a direct result of our public education.
Andrew Zolli, in that ITConversation I listened to the other day, spoke of the rise of the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These are “second world nations in the traditional schema” that he calls “fast followers.”
The BRICs are setting up all kinds of alliances with each other over intellectual property, mutual defense, trade and energy; these nations will rise in global importance so much so that by mid century ours is expected to be the number two economy on the globe.
I have little doubt we will lose our standing in the world. Defunding our public education system is where I will point the finger of blame.
Bush Out of Control?
Doug said yesterday that he thought Bush’s facade was only that, and that he believed the president was an angry lout.
I was dismissive.
It seems to me that every president falls prey to rumors that they shout obscenities at staff, fight with their wife or have some other personal failing that would appall the righteous public if only they knew.
I know that if I were a public figure the press would have a field day with my personal failings, which I prefer to characterize as my humanity, and so I’m grateful not to be.
Just the other day I commented to a friend that I believe we’re living through a promiscuous period when it comes to public disclosure of private information; a period that I don’t believe will last.
So now, with those qualifiers and much as I hate to join the fray, I’m going to quote this from Capitol Hill Blue, which was in my email. It came from Doug’s mother:
Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.
They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”
In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.
It gets worse, and I have no doubt that it contains a kernel of truth, but what’s really significant and telling to me is that it came from Doug’s mother, a moderately conservative non-political person who normally sends cutesy cartoons and barely bawdy jokes.
Our president may or may not be a depressed and angry man. But he’s definitely losing control - of his approval rating. It remains at a record low.