Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Looks Like I Spoke Too Soon

The water levels are rising in New Orleans after at least two levees broke after the hurricane. There doesn't seem to be anything that can stop the rising tide.

We may be seeing something unprecedented: the death of a major American city.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I Say, Is This the Train for Twatt?

Rude Britain is a book which lists 100 of the U.K.'s most vaguely obscene sounding place names, and quite a few where there's no vagueness about it. From Brown Willy in Cornwall to Cockermouth Green in Newcastle, from East Breast in Inverclyde to Shitterton in Dorset, Rude Britain is just one more reason why I hope that there'll always be an England.

Actually I'm kind of jealous. All we have in North Carolina are towns like Climax and Bun Level.

(Oh, in case you were wondering, Twatt is in Orkney).

Good News, Bad News

The Good News: New Orleans wasn't destroyed.
The Bad News: Mississippi and Alabama were hit hard. Your prayers and good wishes are still urgently needed for those folks. And, I'd reckon, probably the aforementioned blood donations as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

If You Believe in Prayer

Or even if you don't, then pray or at least send some positive mental energy for New Orleans and its people. The Big Easy is in the path of its worst nightmare: a Category 5 hurricane that's predicted to hit at high tide tomorrow with a storm surge of 25 feet or more. Almost the entire city is below sea/river level, protected by a series of levees and pumps that weren't in any way designed to handle a surge that big.

I have a bad feeling about this.

UPDATE: Some f0lks have suggested a more tangible way to help: give blood. There are likely to be injuries, and I understand stockpiles are low.

Letters, Oh, I Get Letters

Letter in Today's Paper: "Many people think The Pilot's position on many current events is from the liberal viewpoint. Why, just open it up and you'll read all about the latest Bush bashing from Dusty Rhoades. There is no similar space made available to rebuke this flippant man, is there? I'd very much like that job."


Thank You, Pat Robertson

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Boy, folks, I've got to tell you, I really owe Pat Robertson.

He's almost gotten to be a more reliable source of column material than my old friends at PETA. When the well's running dry on column topics, ol' Pat comes through with some Looney Tunes pronouncement that was supposedly granted him by no less than the Creator himself.

This time, God's told Pat that we need to kill Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

No, I'm not joking. Recently on his show "The 700 Club," Robertson spake unto us, saying: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a warÉ without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator."

Man, I thought I was mad at gas prices. Robertson apparently went to the pump and came completely unglued.

This being South America, it should be noted that Chavez is the duly elected president. He's been elected twice, in fact, the second time by a bigger margin than Bush in his second term. Even Dubbya has grudgingly admitted that "This man was elected by the people."

It's not just Chavez' "huge pool of oil" that's caused Pat's fancy to lightly turn to thoughts of homicide. According to him (or maybe to God, it's hard to tell with Robertson), "[Chavez] has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

Wow. Communist infiltration AND Muslim extremism? At the same time? It must be difficult keeping those guys from all being in the same room, what with the Muslims still being really cheesed off at the commies for that Russian invasion of Afghanistan and all. Not to mention the fact that his country is 98 percent Roman Catholic.

Of course, this isn't the first bloodthirsty fatwah our very own American Ayatollah has come out with. Back in 2003, Robertson caused a flap when he said of the U.S. State Department, "You've got to say to yourself, 'If I could only get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom' [the nickname for the Department's headquarters]."

In many places throughout the world, when you claim to have the ear of God and start raving that some world leader needs to be killed or that you'd like to detonate a nuclear device inside a government building, men with white coats come and cart you off to a nice room with rubber walls. But Robertson's a rich televangelist. He has his own TV network. He's a former Republican presidential candidate. I mean, is this a great country or what?

Here's my question:

Conservatives and their flunkies in the media are always demanding that so-called liberals "distance themselves" from the more wild-eyed pronouncements of people like Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Moore. Even the usually even-handed newsman Peter Jennings (may he rest in peace) chastised Democratic candidate Wesley Clark for not denouncing Moore when Moore called President Bush a "deserter."

So why aren't there calls for President Bush or Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to denounce this kind of rabid wingnuttery? When are we going to see someone stand up in a presidential press conference and say: "Mr. President, Pat Robertson, a prominent conservative who influences thousands of conservative Christians, has stated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. Do you agree? Is assassination of elected world leaders who might withhold their oil the policy of this administration?"

Or even, "Mr. President, Pat Robertson has wished he could smuggle a nuclear device into our own State Department and set it off. Do you agree?"

Obviously, I'm not holding my breath for the so-called "liberal media" to drop its double standard. They'll gleefully hang the so-called "hate speech" of left-wing nuts like Colorado professor Ward Churchill around the necks of Democrats. But they seem oddly reluctant to do the same with Republican supporters for whom the answer to the question "What Would Jesus Do?" includes nuclear terrorism and political assassination.

I'm also not holding my breath until Dubbya or Frist use their own free speech rights to speak out. They're terrified of alienating their fanatical and dedicated evangelical "base" even as that base gets farther and farther out in their rhetoric. But when they call for the murder of officials that even our president admits were "elected by the people," does that base really speak for you?