Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baton Rouge: Now I remember why we left

Well, the comments on my "Dear Baton Rouge" post have been, uhhhhh . . . enlightening.

For instance, now I remember exactly why Mrs. Favog and I left, and were glad to do so. And also why -- even though I sometimes get wistful over home -- we'll be moving back over the dead body of my Omaha-born wife.

I can't blame her. I really, really can't. Like folks often say, Baton Rouge is one of those places it's really interesting to be from. . . .

AS I SAID, the comments on that previous post over the past couple of days have been interesting. And they've pretty much convinced me that, once again, my old man inadvertently told the truth one fine day, via one of his typical dyspeptic rantings.

Indeed, when it comes to my hometown, "Dey ain't no hope!" Or so it would seem by the rednecks and wannabe Ku Kluxers who crawled out of the swamps and into the Revolution 21 combox.

Here are excerpts from every single comment, except for a couple of deleted ones from a guy who was getting obsessive and, finally, obscene:

From Colleen:

And now I want to see Omaha. My own home state of NJ had Asbury Park infamously in ruins for a decade or two there, but it is on the rise again. I'm
not sure what caused the turnaround but I did hear mention of the real estate trend of "follow the gays." I believe this is also known as "follow the artists," and if you can follow some gay artists to where they're settling, that place should really be booming soon.

From GO:

You nailed that one...Omaha does it with multimillioniare philanthropists, and you're mad because Baton Rouge can't do it?

What you're really mad about is that Baton Rouge doesn't have lots of millionaires...

From GO:

The school systems of Ascension, Livingston, and the private school system in Baton Rouge are THRIVING and getting GREAT MARKS on standardized testing and achievements...The reason? Nobody, not a millionaire, not a middle class state employee, not a married college student with school aged children, wants to send their kids to a system that has been run for FOUR DECADES by the NAACP and a ridiculously senile old judge, acting as a puppet at the behest of the prosecution in a desegregation case...

Seriously...a judge that takes 40 years to decide a case? FORTY YEARS? In the balance was our community's school system...

Do you HONESTLY think anyone with half a brain wants their kids in a system like that? Being run like that? Under that sort've weight?

Oh, wait a minute...NONE OF YOU REALIZED THAT, did you?


The community got its school system taken away, and then they realized it might not ever get given back to them...At what point-DURING A FORTY YEAR DESEG CASE-does the community just give up? The judge & the plaintiffs never wanted to give it back...So why dump money and resources, nevermind time and volunteering the resources many had available, to a system that was being run not by the community, but an organization and a judge who were both proven to have smashed it to bits...

The community isn't to blame for our school system...Catholic, Redemptorist, PBS, CPS, Livingston, & Ascension's collective systems and growth are almost DIRECTLY
attributable to the NAACP, and that idiotic old bat of a Judge Parker, and their completely inept bungling and gumming up of the works of that system...

From GO:

What we're talking about is how the community lost control, and a motivated (politically? ethnically?) community group held it hostage with quite possibly the dumbest man to ever wear a robe and call himself a judge in history...For 40 years, guv-u-nuh...

That wasn't the COMMUNITY holding it hostage...That wasn't WHITE PEOPLE holding it hostage...That was a judge and a community group.

There is no wrangling, no tangent you can spin off on while raging once again about a machine you want to blame someone else for building...

Own it. The truth shall set you free...

From GO:

So the community is supposed to subject itself to the machinations and the posturing during the case...

For 40 years?

That's what a "progressive" community does in your eyes?


What's hilarious is that you IGNORE the fact that the community lost control of its school system. It was no longer their own.

Would you pay a child support for children that aren't your own? Would you pay someone else's car note without being able to drive it?

Of course not...Yet you are excoriating the same community for not passing taxes to fix a system they had absolutely no control over...

No taxation without representation, m'friend...You talked about not escaping, I showed you how the community did exactly that.

From Anonymous:

Two numbers, Omaha 80% white, BR 46% white. No need to post any more statistics.

From jamarco:

You have proved his point. Deseg. and busing really worked? right? Just like mom used to say, "you can't bring your friends up, they will only bring you down". Same goes with the schools in BR. Mamma was right. Now all the public schools in BR are in the same shape. And guess what, the money is still there, in BR. Have you been to Perkins Rowe or the Towne Center? When is the last time you drove down highland road, went into the back gate of the country club of Louisiana by giving the guard a Bigmac? or waited for a table at Louisiana Lagniappe for better than hour, or Better yet have you driven down Airline to Ascension Parish?

If you want to look at some real good numbers look at Ascension Parish. It compares very well to your Omaha.

From Anonymous:

It's not about white flight. It's about a large black population, that is uneducated,
unmotivated, and that will continue to vote for democratic politicians who perpetuate the problem for their own benefit.

From Anonymous:

When a city has over 100,000 blacks who are granted majority black districts and elect judges like Don Johnson, and Senators like Cleo Fields, and councilmen like Bones Addison, you are screwed. Just move the hell out as soon as you can, and find somewhere like Omaha or some other western or midwestern state with demographics that don't look like ours, and you'll never regret it.

From jamarco:

you keep losing your own argument. If you live in a place with a broken toilet, and no mater how much money you throw at it just can't be fixed. Most sain people have two options replace the broken toilet (private schools) or move to another place with working toilets (ascension-livingston). Why would you want anybody to live in a place with a broken toilet, I don't. When you look at the racial makeup of omaha, how did the busing work, you took a very small number of black students and bused them to white schools right? and probably closed the black schools, that plan did not work here, we
bused blacks to white schools and whites to black schools. I lived it!

From jamarco:

i didn't want to point this out not being a racist and all, but of the ten places taht Kiplinger ranked as best places to live not one has a majority black population.

From Lee High Rebel:

Dear Flavor Flavog,

No federal judge destroyed the Baton Rouge School System. The black "students" single handedly destroyed the Baton Rouge School System. You see they destroyed the physical property, buildings, grounds etc. of the schools that they attended. No one wanted to teach there or go to school there so those schools suffered. Then there was desegregation, and as there nature requires, the black "students" then physically demolished the new schools that they attended. This in turn demolished the spirit of learning in the system and anyone who actually wanted their kids to get more than just a free lunch had to send their kids to a private school or leave the parish. That's how the Baton Rouge school system was destroyed.

From jamarco:

nope, i will be around for awhile, will attempt to leave a bit of wisdom EVERY day, even after you stop posting them. I may even attempt to leave comments on some of your other topics also. And by the way us "rednecks" from the great state of looseiana are coming if LSU can pull it out! I have in the past spent lots of money in your town...and i guess you can tell that I had several black english teachers in highschool and at least one at LSU, so my grammer and command of the English language leaves you wanting...

From KingHueyDeweyLouie:

You must have been a kid when you moved, or else you never lived in Baton Rouge, maybe your wife did, I don't know. A lot of people don't know these things are in baton rouge even people that still live in Baton rouge don‘t. But there are some very small businesses along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, they are easy to miss, like I said a lot of people don't know they are there, as a matter of fact when one blew up several
years ago people thought is was an earthquake...big plants and I don't mean alocasias or colocasias I mean, petrochemical plants! Just sit back and take in some clean Nebraska air (if you can stand the smell of corn, although I understand that a lot of corn is now grown in cotton and sugarcane fields around baton rouge) and imagine the amount of money that is generated by the millage taxes that these buggers pay to the city-parish. By the way I don‘t think the $75,000 homestead exemption applies. So there is a lot of tax money in baton rouge. As a side note, Jamarco calls it as he sees it, you shouldn’t resort to name calling and making fun, he types fast and he slept through most of his English classes, I know, I wrote most of his papers. And by the way, he is not a redneck, he hasn’t been on a tractor in years and he doesn’t cut his own grass, some guy named Pedro does (now he really is a redneck).

From Lee High Rebel:

The truth isn't hatefulness or kindness, it's just the truth. I watched the truth unfold
from 7th grade through 12th grade. Now I make my money in the construction industry rebuilding and repairing the damage that is done to the schools by the "students", and I'm good at it. I wouldn't be where I am today without those little demolition experts, God bless them.

WHAT'S INTERESTING (and troubling) is that racial scapegoating erupted from something as simple as my making a point about how Omaha, a city with many similarities to Baton Rouge, really has made remarkable progress in the time I've lived here -- such progress that it's being noticed nationally, and is appearing in lists of "best cities."

Really, how do rants about the injustice of school desegregation logically arise from my noting that in many respects, Baton Rouge -- my hometown -- still struggles, and that the difference lies in the realm of "civic culture"?

I opined that Omaha has an extremely strong one, and Baton Rouge . . . not so much. Likewise, I noted the rundown condition of my alma mater, Baton Rouge Magnet High, and the existence of large tracts of crumbling and blighted property -- the old Bellemont Motor Hotel, for instance.

Many things I might be, but naive isn't one of them. I fully expected
that lots of Baton Rougeans would be angry that I'd "dissed" their city. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if lots of Baton Rougeans gave me the Scott McClellan treatment, calling me a disloyal little rat who hauled butt, then dumped on my hometown in front of damn Yankees and everybody.

Of course, if you're gonna crack on me for leaving Louisiana, and if you're going to be fair about it, you're going to spend the rest of your life ripping me and a few hundred thousand other folks a new one. And you -- to your dismay -- will find the list is an ever-growing one.

all this I would have expected.

What slightly surprised me, but oughtn't have, was that after the first positive comment, not only did things go negative and nasty, but that the unifying theme was that Baton Rouge's problem is as plain as black . . . but not white. That Baton Rouge would be just fine if it weren't for federal judges, the NAACP and a city-swamping Negro menace that has destroyed the schools and God knows what else.

Really. That's the gist of people's complaints . . . that I'm some sort of Yankeefied turncoat who just refuses to see that Baton Rouge sucks because it's no longer white enough. The bile lies pooled above, for you and all the world to read.

Now, the question remains regarding how representative these comments might be. After all, this is the Internet. Throw a news story or a blog post out there on the Information Superhighway, and it's going to attract combox nutwagons like a windshield attracts love bugs.

But still. You also can count on a fair number of reasoned, and reasonable, respondents along the road. Everywhere but here . . . when the conversation turns to what's wrong with Baton Rouge (where I used to live), what's right with Omaha (where I now live), and what the former might be able to learn from the latter.

The law of averages tells me this is a fluke. Having been born and raised in Louisiana tells me I shouldn't be surprised. And William Faulkner tells me that, in the South, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

SO SHOULD I BE surprised that, two decades since I last lived there, my hometown -- at heart -- is still a churlish little backwater, riven between black and white, unable to work and play well with others but (as always) hiding behind a delusional "Laissez les bon temps rouler" façade?

ght I really be shocked, shocked that the reality of Baton Rouge might, to a large extent, hinge on a critical mass of bitter little George Wallace wannabes who -- though rendered incapable by the feds of literally standing in the schoolhouse door and proclaiming "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!" -- still find it within their means to segregate themselves in white-flight schools and in comparatively white communities . . . to hell with the commonweal?

To tell you the truth, that's as good an explanation as any for a state where Medicaid, social services and education (both higher and elementary-secondary) are always the first things the budget ax whacks. It's as good an explanation as any for a school system going from something like 67 percent white to 83 percent black in 28 years.

And that looks like a likely culprit for why not only did voters not approve any school-bond issues for three decades, but also for why no one cared enough to hold "the bad, awful school board" accountable for its actions . . . or inaction . . . or outright abdication of its responsibilities. Or whatever.

While I'm thinking of it, do murders in the 'hood -- unless they're especially grisly or sensational -- still end up reported as briefs inside The Advocate's Metro section, while slain white folks more than likely end up on a section front? Just asking.

Mayor-President Kip Holden likes to refer to Baton Rouge as "America's Next Great City." Really? What I see in my comments box, the abject dump I saw when I visited my alma mater and the plethora of rundown and abandoned properties any traveler will see surely suggest that the good mayor might suffer from "America's Next Great Disconnect From Reality."

ONCE AGAIN, as Abandoned Baton Rouge blogger Colleen Kane -- a New Jersey transplant -- so reasonably asked at the end of one of her posts on the ruins of The Bellemont motel, "Baton Rouge, kindly explain thyself."

I don't pretend to know how Baton Rouge would explain itself. All I know is how I would explain it, as someone who was born, raised and educated there. And as someone who worked there, then moved away from there.

But I do know how a lot of folks in these parts see my home state . . . and my hometown.

They see it as an exotic, bizarre and fascinating place they wouldn't mind visiting. But no way in hell would they want to live there.

Sadly, I can't say that I blame them. Because, when it comes right down to it, neither would I.

3 Chords & the Truth: Thinking about home


Years I had been from home,
And now, before the door
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

Stare vacant into mine
And ask my business there.
My business, - just a life I left,
Was such still dwelling there?

I fumbled at my nerve,
I scanned the windows near;
The silence like an ocean rolled,
And broke against my ear.

I laughed a wooden laugh
That I could fear a door,
Who danger and the dead had faced,
But never quaked before.

I fitted to the latch
My hand, with trembling care,
Lest back the awful door should spring,
And leave me standing there.

I moved my fingers off
As cautiously as glass,
And held my ears, and like a thief
Fled gasping from the house.

Emily Dickinson

WE'RE THINKING about home this week on 3 Chords & the Truth, the music half of the Revolution 21 media empire.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, May 30, 2008

You're illustrating my point, Baton Rouge

My readers in Red Stick write, and one illustrates my point so well that I just cain't hep mahsef but to pull that sucker out of the combox and make a post out of it.

REALLY, perhaps there's something in what belches out of the Exxon refinery and chemical plant that acts on neurological function or something:

GO said...

What's hilarious is that the readership of this blog are-once again-putting on display an absolutely dazzling lack of perspective, and ONCE AGAIN bemoaning problems, without wondering about either A.) Solutions, or B.) The context within which these problems sprung up.

The school systems of Ascension, Livingston, and the private school system in Baton Rouge are THRIVING and getting GREAT MARKS on standardized testing and achievements...The reason? Nobody, not a millionaire, not a middle class state employee, not a married college student with school aged children, wants to send their kids to a system that has been run for FOUR DECADES by the NAACP and a ridiculously senile old judge, acting as a puppet at the behest of the prosecution in a desegregation case...

Seriously...a judge that takes 40 years to decide a case? FORTY YEARS? In the balance was our community's school system...

Do you HONESTLY think anyone with half a brain wants their kids in a system like that? Being run like that? Under that sort've weight?

Oh, wait a minute...NONE OF YOU REALIZED THAT, did you?

Otherwise, I'm sure such a germane and illuminating point would've been brought up by people who seem to be most adept at COMPLAINING ABOUT a problem...

We had issues that created a completely different context to complain about this problem...

The minions of the NAACP & a completely inept judge kept the school system under a consent decree for FORTY FREAKING YEARS...You think that might have people at the Capital and folks in the community turning a deaf ear or blind eye to its plight?

Who wants to try to help a system that's basically imprisoned by folks who purport to be after the best interest and the better angels of our nature, but clearly did far more harm than good...

I mean, its REALLY REALLY REALLY easy for all of you to sit here and complain about the state the system's in, but who wants to send their kid into it? None of you did, none of you would, most of you will try your best...

Without context or an actual grasp of WHY the system came to be where it did, how in the world can any of you with a straight face talk about how sad a situation its in...

The community got its school system taken away, and then they realized it might not ever get given back to them...At what point-DURING A FORTY YEAR DESEG CASE-does the community just give up? The judge & the plaintiffs never wanted to give it back...So why dump money and resources, nevermind time and volunteering the resources many had available, to a system that was being run not by the community, but an organization and a judge who were both proven to have smashed it to bits...

The community isn't to blame for our school system...Catholic, Redemptorist, PBS, CPS, Livingston, & Ascension's collective systems and growth are almost DIRECTLY attributable to the NAACP, and that idiotic old bat of a Judge Parker, and their completely inept bungling and gumming up of the works of that system...

YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT, CAP. It's all the nigras' and da gummint's fault.

And you think it's acceptable that people ought to pay multiple thousands of dollars to "escape" the educational suck? To pay for separate but unequal school systems? I've got news for you.

You. Can. Not. Escape. It.

Every day and every way, you can't escape it, and Baton Rouge can't escape it, and Louisiana can't escape it.

The story is in an illiterate-ass workforce that Corporate America won't touch with a 10-foot bullfrog gig. The story is in a sky-high crime rate.

The story is in high insurance rates, and in spending more, more and ever more for prisons and cops.

The story is in jobs across the trade- and service sectors being filled by people who are manifestly unqualified to do what they're doing -- and it shows in the lousy service you encounter day by day.

But -- Hey! -- the white-flight schools are doing well.

And Louisiana is emptying out.

You know what, I went to legally segregated schools in Baton Rouge until fourth grade, when the court ordered the "neighborhood schools" plan as a deseg remedy. And I'm here to tell you that the East Baton Rouge Parish public schools were just as full of violent little dumbasses when the only black faces you saw were those of the janitors and the lunchroom ladies.

And the two black kids at Red Oaks Elementary caught hell from everybody. Most especially from the teachers.

Likewise, you seem to assume that Baton Rouge was the only city to ever endure a decades-long deseg case. You need to get out more.

Lots of cities did, including Omaha.

The difference is that it took a dysfunctional backwater like Baton Rouge to f*** deseg up that badly.

Congratulations. You're now New Orleans. Without the Quarter, or the streetcars, or the brass bands, or the second lines through the neighborhoods.

You must be so proud.

Thanks for writing. You illustrate my point so very well.

I'm so glad we had this time together. . . .

Harvey Korman (1927-2008)
Requiescent in pace.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Baton Rouge: I've been trying to tell you

If you're in my hometown, Baton Rouge, and if you haven't already gotten all pissed off and stopped reading this humble web log. . . .

I told you so.

I TOLD YOU that if you want some clues about how one goes about fixing Baton Rouge, come to Omaha. Similar size metro area . . . college town . . . transportation hub . . . had a downtown that was sucking air two decades ago.

And now,
look at this best-cities ranking in Kiplinger magazine:
Don't pigeonhole Omaha as insurance, Warren Buffett and mail-order steaks. This one-time Great Plains pioneer town has a stereotype-busting cultural scene. Walk through north downtown and discover the indie-rock club Slowdown next to Film Streams, a cinema art house. In Old Market, red-brick roads run past open-air restaurants, galleries and chic boutiques.

Funky, yes, but the city's success is defined by its midwestern values. People preach and practice a strong work ethic and modest lifestyle. They also believe in giving back to the community, and that includes the chief executives of the five Fortune 500 companies headquartered here.

Consider the 175,000-square-foot Holland Performing Arts Center. Built with private funding from corporate executives, philanthropists and civic leaders, this $100-million facility is a symbol of 21st-century urban modernism. A 2,000-seat, state-of-the-art concert hall -- with chiseled acoustic panels -- is the place to experience the classics, performed by the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.
LIKE I SAID . . . I tried to tell y'all so. But to summarize why Omaha thrives -- bustles even, with excellent schools, a thriving arts scene and strong business community -- it all comes down to having the kind of strong civic culture that Baton Rouge lacks. That right there is why Gov. Bobby Jindal can't save Louisiana . . . even if he appeared to be of a mind to do it.

Bobby Jindal can't build a functioning civic culture. Baton Rougeans . . . Louisianians can. But only if they're willing to change.

The difference? Well, you don't see much of this in Omaha:

Or this, found on the Abandoned Baton Rouge blog:

THE LAST PICTURE is what's left of a room at the abandoned eyesore that used to be the upscale Bellemont Motor Hotel. At the end of her second post on the ruins of the Bellemont, Abandoned Baton Rouge blogmistress Colleen Kane made a quite reasonable request of my hometown:
Baton Rouge, kindly explain thyself.

Headed this way . . . duck!

Reason No. 1 in the ongoing saga of Why I Hate Spring in the Midwest. And it's all headed this way . . . about three hours away.

From The Associated Press:

The Buffalo County emergency manager has issued an alert saying several tornadoes have touched down in Kearney.

The county is asking all residents to remain at home Thursday evening. Travel is discouraged because of storm damage in parts of the city.

The National Weather Service forecast severe weather, including strong thunderstorms and possible tornadoes, for much of the state.

The naked truth about Michelle

Here's the naked truth. And, no, I'm not talking about the new Starbucks cups.

The naked truth is that it's often useful to change the subject when, like right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin, you're backing an administration guilty of war crimes -- both in pursuit of its "War on Terror" and in its prosecution of an illegal war in Iraq.

LIKE WHEN you start bleating about Rachael Ray's allegedly Jew-hating scarf in a now-canceled Dunkin' Donuts commercial.

But wait.
Didn't Malkin appear in a web ad promoting a conservative T-shirt company selling stuff like this?
And this?
Not to mention this?

NOW WHO'S supporting terrorism? Rachael Ray and her Ay-rab lookin' scarf or Michelle Malkin, endorser of unambiguously fascist T-shirts?

All I know is that given a choice between Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, those craven appeasers of the waterboard right, I'll get my java jive on with the nekkid mermaid.

Good morning, class. Good morning, Mrs. Hitler

I've got an idea. Let's all get together and vote on whether a sadistic Florida kindergarten teacher gets charged with child abuse.

Let's all vote on whether the witch gets kicked out of the classroom forever . . . and thrown into jail for good measure. Let's all vote on that, shall we?

LET'S VOTE on whether Wendy Portillo ever is allowed to set foot in a classroom again after ordering her class of 5- and 6-year-olds to tell a special-needs child what they "hated about him" and then orchestrating a 14-2 vote to banish Alex Barton from the class.

While we're exercising some democracy here, let's vote on how long the Romper Room Nazi gets thrown into an 8-by-10 cell. Me, I'm voting for at least 18 months.

And if you know what's good for you, you'll vote for that, too. Because we go by Portillo's Rules of Order in this here kangaroo court.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The 1,000th post

On the phone Tuesday afternoon with Mama, back in Baton Rouge, as she gives me the funhouse-mirror version of my Louisiana kinfolks' financial affairs:

Mama: Did you get dat govuhmunt check?

Me: You mean the stimulus check?

Mama: Yeah. How much y'all get?

Me: Twelve hundred dollars.

Mama: Y'all get dat much?

Me: Well, we're a married couple, and married couples get $1,200.

Mama: (Unnamed cousin) didn't get nothin', cause she didn't pay no tax. She's a notary public, and dey don't pay no tax.

Me: What?

Mama: Yeah, dat what (unnamed cousin) say. She's a notary public, and dey don't have to pay no tax, so she didn't get nothin' back.

Me: That's the first time I ever heard of anything like that in my life. If that's the case, the entire country's gonna be notary publics.

Mama: Well, I don't know.
Nighty night. I'm headed off to become a notary after grabbing a few hours' shut eye.

There may not be justice in this world. . . .

But those sons of bitches in the Bush Administration will get some in the next.

BECAUSE OF THIS (among other things), as reported by The Associated Press:

The anguish of Hurricane Katrina should have ended for Gina Bouffanie and her daughter when they left their FEMA trailer. But with each hospital visit and each labored breath her child takes, the young mother fears it has just begun.

"It's just the sickness. I can't get rid of it. It just keeps coming back," said Bouffanie, 27, who was pregnant with her now 15-month-old daughter, Lexi, while living in the trailer. "I'm just like, `Oh God, I wish like this would stop.' If I had known it would get her sick, I wouldn't have stayed in the trailer for so long."

The girl, diagnosed with severe asthma, must inhale medicine from a breathing device.

Doctors cannot conclusively link her asthma to the trailer. But they fear she is among tens of thousands of youngsters who may face lifelong health problems because the temporary housing supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency contained formaldehyde fumes up to five times the safe level.

The chemical, used in interior glue, was detected in many of the 143,000 trailers sent to the Gulf Coast in 2006. But a push to get residents out of them, spearheaded by FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not begin until this past February.

Members of Congress and CDC insiders say the agencies' delay in recognizing the danger is being compounded by studies that will be virtually useless and the lack of a plan to treat children as they grow.

"It's tragic that when people most need the protection, they are actually going from one disaster to a health disaster that might be considered worse," said Christopher De Rosa, assistant director for toxicology and risk assessment at the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC. "Given the longer-term implications of exposure that went on for a significant period of time, people should be followed through time for possible effects."

Formaldehyde is classified as a probable carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is no way to measure formaldelhyde in the bloodstream. Respiratory problems are an early sign of exposure.

Young children are at particular risk. Thousands who lived in trailers will be in the prime of life in the 10 to 15 years doctors believe it takes cancer to develop.

FEMA and CDC reports so far have drawn criticism.

A CDC study released May 8 examined records of 144 Mississippi children, some of whom lived in trailers and others who did not. But the study was confined to children who had at least one doctor's visit for respiratory illness before Katrina. It was largely inconclusive, finding children who went to doctors before the August 2005 storm were still visiting them two years after.

A bigger, five-year CDC study will include up to 5,000 children in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and CDC officials said it should begin next year. But members of Congress point to the decade or longer it could take for cancer to develop and say a five-year look is inadequate.

"Monitoring the health of a few thousand children over the course of a few years is a step in the right direction, but we need commitment," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Thompson has introduced legislation to force FEMA and CDC to provide health exams for trailer residents who believe formaldehyde made them ill. The bill is similar to $108 million legislation for workers who labored at the World Trade Center site.

Arch Carson, professor of occupational medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, said preliminary exams alone for trailer residents could cost more than the trade center bill. But he said class-action lawsuits over the formaldehyde - at least one has been filed - could be even more expensive, costing many billions of dollars.

"It would be best for the government to get its act together now," Carson said.

More than 22,000 FEMA trailers and mobile homes are still being used in Mississippi and Louisiana.
I DON'T HAVE words for this. Not anymore.

Except that this represents the why behind my jihad against Louisiana's endemic half-assedness, insouciance and incompetence. Because Louisiana is on her own.

And God bless the child that's got his -- or her -- own. Billie Holiday said.

Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said, and it still is news
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don't ever make the grade
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Money, you've got lots of friends
Crowding round the door
When you're gone, spending ends
They don't come no more
Rich relations give
Crust of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don't take too much
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
He just worry bout nothin'
Cause he's got his own

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Praise Jesus for old ex-Marxist lefties

OK, and this, too. This is cool, as is Pete Seeger in general.

You know what I say?

I SAY thank God for old activist ex-Marxist folkies . . . legendary lefties who have done more to conserve what is good, noble and beautiful in our culture than all King George's "conservatives" and all King George's "values voters."

That's what I say.

Stumbling upon just before bedtime

It's fun to stumble upon really cool things when you're looking for something else. Like this old 1940s film starring Pete Seeger, with appearances by Woody Guthrie, along with bluesmen Sonny Terry and Brownee McGhee.

And written by Alan Lomax.

The problem with music today is we tend to remove it from cultural and historical context. The problem with that is we lose more and more sight of not only where we've been, but also of who we are.

Watch this, and start to get grounded a little.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

3 Chords & the Truth: Free associatin'

Free association.

If this week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth has a theme, free association would be it. As in, I start out one place, build a set around that place, but then I think of something else.

That something else would be the second set.

BUT THEN, you know, that second set ends up on a song that reminds me of something else. Third set.

And then that leads elsewhere, and I'm once again off to the races. For that matter, so are you -- being that you're along for the wild ride.

Free association. Relationships. Tangents.

That's what you're in for on this week's 3 Chords & the Truth . . . an electric, eclectic audio service of Revolution 21.

Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Opportunity knocks . . . in Omaha

Dear Barack Obama,

You don't know me, but I'm a registered Democrat here in Omaha (by God) Neb. I also have a little Internet music program, 3 Chords & the Truth, and this blog, all under the Revolution 21 umbrella.

Maybe you've seen the blog or listened to the show. Then again, maybe not. But that's not important now.

WHAT'S IMPORTANT is this article in
The New York Sun:

In the 2000 presidential race, Florida made the difference. In 2004, it was Ohio. This year could it all come down to just a single city, Omaha, Neb., and its suburbs?

That's a scenario being spun out by an amateur political prognosticator from New York, Sheldon Adler, who has a strong record of identifying the ultimate battlegrounds in national elections.

"It's possible. I don't think that's crazy," Mr. Adler said of the prospect that Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha and its environs, could become a tiebreaker in the November vote.

The possibility of such a decisive role for the Midwestern city exists because Nebraska allocates electoral votes by congressional district rather than on a statewide, winner-take-all basis. Maine is the only other state to use a district-by-district system.

Mr. Adler's Omaha scenario involves the likely Democratic nominee, Senator Obama of Illinois, taking every state Senator Kerry of Massachusetts won in 2004 with the exception of New Hampshire. Under this carefully chosen sequence of events, the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator McCain of Arizona, hangs on to all of President Bush's winning states from 2004, except for Iowa, Colorado and either New Mexico or Nevada. The result: a 269-269 tie, with 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

"It really may come down to, in that theoretical case, that one electoral vote," Mr. Adler said. With Maine expected to go entirely for the Democrats, the potential boon for Mr. Obama and the danger for the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator McCain, is that Omaha might turn blue.
WELL, SENATOR, it's looking not only like Nebraska might make a difference in November's election, but that the whole shootin' match might come down to who wins Omaha. And, as you well know, we Democrats are somewhat outnumbered here.

You're gonna need every single one of us at the polls . . . and a gaggle of liberal-leaning Republicans (like Mrs. Favog) and independents.

Now, I'm not originally from Omaha. I'm here because my wife is. But it's OK here, you know? Nice folks, happenin' city. Good times.

I know. You're asking, "So what if this clown isn't a native Omahan?" Actually, Barry -- You don't mind if I call you Barry, right? -- that's entirely the point.

Like I said, you just might need my vote. And my unfortunately Republican better half's vote. It's gonna be damn close. You becoming president -- or not -- well could hinge on my vote. Or on my (as I said) unfortunately Republican wife's.

Here's the deal, Cap. I'm from Louisiana, born and raised. That's the point, cher. Now, what can you do for me to ensure my vote -- and the missus' -- come November?

I AM NOT a greedy man, but I am going to be needin' a little lagniappe -- a little sumpin' sumpin' -- to be handing you this here election. Now, remember that I also can, by giving you my vote, banish those damn Republican SOBs to the nether regions of electoral politics for a generation or so.

And I would, in all likelihood, also be delivering my unfortunately Republican wife's vote to the "D" column, too. That's not nothing. Call it two for the price of one.
Mrs. Favog, I might add, is a strong-willed woman -- try to pull that typical crap on her that you do those sniveling soccer moms and she'll not only rip you a new one, she'll feed you your innards and make you like 'em.

So, how we gonna do some bidness here, Barry?

I tell you what -- and this is agin' my natural instincts and cultural proclivities, y'unnerstand -- I'll make you a sweetheart deal. Don't want a damn dollar for my vote . . . or for the better half's.

Don't want a car, neither. Nope, not a boat . . . or a new house . . . or one of those nice condos downtown.

What I want won't cost you or your campaign a dime. And it might make your conscience feel better than it has in ages. Interested?

AIIGHT, these are the brass tacks. What you can do for me to win my vote is cut out all this pro-choice, kill-the-babies, f***-the-family social-barbarian garbage.

When you use the power of government to encourage abortion . . . to enable and legitimize abortion, you're responsible for killing off our future. When you use the bludgeon of the courts -- and public policy -- to twist marriage and family relations into configurations they never were meant to endure, you are dealing a body blow not only to societal stability but also to the underpinnings of society itself.

When you persist in advocating crap like that insisted upon by your party's libertine-barbarian overseers, you'd just as well appoint Pol Pot as your Health and Human Services secretary and Genghis Khan as your head of Homeland Security. Why? Because if you're going to lay waste to an entire society, you'd just as well be as expedient about it as possible.

See, Barry, I'm the last New Deal Democrat standing. I'm for the little guy. That includes helpless babies in the womb, as well as beleaguered mamas and daddies trying to weather the cultural storms of our age and give their already-born children half a damn chance to live in a civil society.

What I'm looking for is a president who will advocate solutions to "crisis pregnancy" where nobody has to die in order for women to win. What I want in a president is somebody who realizes that freedom doesn't necessarily mean "Do whatever the hell you want, and damn the consequences."

I want a Democrat in the Oval Office who realizes that not only is our democracy a fragile thing, but also our entire civilized order. I want somebody smart enough to realize that you don't go futzing around with fragile things, relying on dumb luck to fend off catastrophe.

NOW, IT'S TRUE . . . I ain't gonna vote for that McCain fella. But that doesn't mean I'll vote for you.

And wouldn't it be a hell of a thing if you lost the White House by a vote or two? Right here in Omaha, Neb.

You gonna play ball wit me, podna? I'll give you till Nov. 3 to make up your mind.

HAT TIP: Leavenworth Street

Bobby Jindal slinks back home . . .

. . . after foolin' around with John McCain. And Louisiana is not amused.

I'm tellin' you, there's nothing in the world that hasn't been in a classic country song.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I didn't know God made honky tonk gub'nas

Hank Thompson used to sing some classic cheatin' songs about the likes of Bobby Jindal.

AND IT LOOKS LIKE Louisiana done got itself stuck with a honky-tonk angel because -- as Jerry Lee's cousin Mickey Gilley could have told voters last year -- the candidates all look prettier at closin' time. And it's been last call for the Gret Stet for some time now.

So now, after folks thought they'd found themselves a sweet young thing who was going to make them feel alive again . . . who was going to cure what ailed 'em . . . who was going to be their sunshine, their only sunshine . . . who'd make them happy when skies were gray. . . . Well, it's starting to look like a down-on-its-luck state gave its heart away only to get a rust-standard ethics law and an earful of sweet nothing before Gov. Honky Tonk Angel went social-climbing after a rich old man.

The New York Times, that private dick of the public record,
is talking out of school and naming names:

Senator John McCain is planning to meet this weekend with at least three potential Republican running mates at a gathering at his ranch in Arizona, suggesting that he is stepping up his search for a vice president now that the Democratic contest appears basically decided, according to Republicans familiar with Mr. McCain’s plans.

Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a one-time rival for the Republican nomination, have all accepted invitations to visit with Mr. McCain at his ranch in Sedona, these Republicans said.

After a week of campaigning, Mr. McCain is heading home on Friday for three days without a public schedule. His campaign described this as a social weekend that would include a number of couples, and — as has been its policy it declined to discuss any aspect of the vice presidential search.

“We don’t talk about the V.P. selection process,” said Steve Schmidt a senior adviser.

In addition to Mr. Crist, Mr. Jindal and Mr. Romney, Mr. McCain’s guest list includes some of top his political counselors, among them Charlie Black, a senior strategist, and Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, his frequent traveling companion and probably his closest colleague in the Senate.

If the gathering does not involve actual interviews, as some of Mr. McCain’s associates said Wednesday, it will provide Mr. McCain with a chance to know some potential running mates in a social context. Mr. McCain is known as a social and gregarious candidate and senator, and his associates said personal chemistry would be a key consideration in his choice.

The gathering is taking place on a weekend when Mr. McCain is releasing his health care records, itself a high-profile event that could — by design or not — draw attention away from the event at the Arizona ranch.

The identities of the potential running mates who have been invited to Sedona is not a surprise: Mr. Romney, Mr. Crist and Mr. Jindal have been on most lists of potential running mates, and they have made no secret of their interest. And even the perception that they are under consideration could be more a matter of appearance than reality: the mere impression that Mr. McCain is considering Mr. Crist of Florida, for example, could by itself help him in a critical state where Mr. McCain campaigned Wednesday

Still, Mr. Cain’s gathering comes as Senator Barack Obama appears to have all but nailed down the Democratic nomination in his competition with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and its timing suggests an acceleration in reaching a decision that several Republicans said could prove critical to Mr. McCain’s success in a tough political environment for their party. Mr. McCain, arguably more than most presidential candidates, has a lot riding on choosing a running mate who could make up for any weaknesses in his own résumé and give him a boost in his public standing.

Mr. McCain himself has said his choice of a running mate would draw particular scrutiny from voters, given his age; he is now 71 year old, or “as old as dirt,” as he likes to joke, while quickly adding that he is in good health.

More than that, with Mr. Obama’s selection now almost assured, Mr. McCain is contemplating a contest involving an energized electorate that has put a focus on race and gender.


Mr. Jindal, who was born in Baton Rouge, La., to a family that had just arrived there from the Punjab area of India, took office as Louisiana’s governor in January after serving three years in the House of Representatives. Mr. Jindal, who was born a Hindu but became a Roman Catholic as a teenager, campaigned for governor as a social conservative, opposing human embryonic stem cell research and abortion in any form and favoring teaching “intelligent design” in schools as an alternative to evolution.

But Mr. Jindal also has a reputation as a policy wonk, like the Clintons, with a specialty in health care issues. After graduating in 1991 from Brown University, where he majored in biology and public policy, and attending Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Mr. Jindal worked for the management consulting firm McKinsey and Company and was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He later served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and in the Bush administration as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for planning and evaluation.

ME, IF I WERE LOUISIANA, I'd be thinking that I'd been played. That I'd been suckered into taking home a purty little thing who looked and talked like an angel, but who -- after I'd lived with her for a spell -- turned out to be just another common little tramp.

And, unfortunately for me, that realization would have come after the little floozy had spent all my money, drank all my liquor, given me a social disease and then went runnin' off after Mr. Moneybags. Or somebody who might could set her up in a much nicer place than what I could.

What is it that Bobby Jindal has been telling newly minted high-school and college graduates all across the state? That "there's no place like home" and that "you can dream big right here in Louisiana"?

I'LL TELL YOU TRUE, podna. The gub'na ain't going to Sen. McCain's Arizona hacienda to make the case for more federal aid down on the bayou. He's going down there to audition for a new job only a few months after you hired him to fix what ails Louisiana.

Jindal indeed might think "there's no place like home," but I'll garon-damn-tee you that he thinks there's a place better than home. That would be Washington, D.C.

After all, the shotgun shack by the tracks might be quaint and all . . . and, of course, it's plenty good for the likes of you rustics. But the Golden Boy obviously thinks he can do better. Surely you will understand, Louisiana.

Surely you can see why your sweetheart just had to leave you. Leave you in that smoky old honky tonk, sittin' there cryin' in your beer.

SITTIN' THERE. Sittin' there just a poor as you ever were. Just as ignorant as always. Just as sick, and just as tired. And you can't even hold down a good economy.

You thought you had found yourself a honky-tonk angel -- a purty little thing -- at closin' time. You thought she'd write you a new chapter . . . a happy ending to your hard-luck story.

And all she's itchin' to write you is just another damn Dear John letter.

Hell, Hank Thompson could have told you that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trashing the boss is an Idiot's Delight

I'm so happy I didn't make that pledge to one of my favorite radio stations.

Saturday evening, I'm out in the yard, slingblade and shovel in hand, turning a weedy plot into a big vegetable garden. Sitting a few feet away, on an old railroad tie, is a radio, tuned to my little AM transmitter that's pumping the Internet feed of WFUV -- the voice of Fordham University, "The Jesuit University of New York" -- into this weedy little expanse of Flyover Country.

I LIKE WFUV. It, over the years, has become the resting place of some of New York's most legendary FM jocks from the days when FM mattered to a music-loving world. Jocks who dictated how a nation listened to music at legendary stations like WNEW. Jocks like Dennis Elsas and Pete Fornatale, who were later cast off as Corporate America set about killing radio.

Even today, Elsas and Fornatale do some of the smartest music programming on the airwaves . . . or what's left of the airwaves, alas. Saturday, it was Fornatale's wonderful Mixed Bag Radio that kept me company as I turned the earth, by hand, like Nebraskans of old.

And as my back got in touch with every one of my 47 years.

Soon enough, 7 o'clock rolled around -- time for "New York's last freeform DJ," Vin Scelsa, with Idiot's Delight. Little did I know.

The following is verbatim from the archived program:

So we're in Studio V [Scelsa's home studio -- R21], and here at the beginning of the show tonight, I want to acknowledge and celebrate an important judicial decision that was handed down by the state supreme court in California this week -- it's about time. We've got another state now joining Massachusetts, having its highest court say that gay people just have -- have just as much right to marry as anybody else.

Gay people have equal rights in this country! Or at least in the state of California, and the state of Massachusetts. Yes!

We celebrate this -- it's the last bastion of . . . of old thinking that exists still in this country. You know, you read about like, uh, the history of interracial marriage in this country. There was a woman who died recently who, back in the 1950s, was forced to leave her home -- she and her husband. It was a black woman and a white man who grew up in a very interracial, mixed community in the state of Virginia, I believe it was.

And this was back in the 1950s. They got married and were forced to leave their state and told they couldn't come back, and we look at that and we go, "Man, that's absurd,' you know? It seems like the Dark Ages, not the 1950s, but in that sense, the '50s were the Dark Ages. And we still are in the Dark Ages when it comes to gay people and gay rights, and . . . and civil unions don't cut it.

Civil unions is a compromise. Civil unions is appeasement, and we know how we all feel about appeasement.

Until gay men and women have equal rights in this country, there is a big, black cloud hanging over us all.

So, here at the beginning of the show today, we salute California with a little set of traveling music.

[Set of music about California, ending with Judy Garland singing "San Francisco," live at Carnegie Hall, 1961.]

I forgot about that little speech at the end. You can smoke or drink or get married, here in San Francisco or in California. No matter who you are, no matter what you are -- race, religion, gender no longer matter in San Francisco. And this opening set tonight is a celebration of that state supreme court decision that came down in California this week legalizing gay marriage.

Finally, equal rights. Let's hope it sticks.

The governor, Schwarzenegger, says that he will, umm, he will not support any move to battle this decision.

It's the writing on the wall, friends. It's the handwriting on the wall -- it's gonna happen, it's happening slowly . . . it's happening too slowly, but the same thing was true with, with umm, uhh, you know, the civil rights movement back in the '50s and '60's, it happened too slowly. The women's movement happened too slowly, but gradually changes are made, changes are made because the world is changing, people are changing.

Kids, and young generations now, just take it for granted that people love whoever they love. And, and if they want to make a commitment to the person they love, then they should be allowed to make a commitment just like anybody else. It's . . . it's taken for granted by young people. They're . . . they're much hipper and smarter and world, uhh . . . world wise than, uh, so many of their elders.

[Promos, station ID, comes back to list selections in the previous set, then in the middle of the back announce. . . .]

Do you think that most people who are against the idea of same-sex marriage, of gay marriage, have . . . just have never met a gay person? Is . . . is that it? Is that what it comes down to? That they've never met a gay person, that all they know about gay men and women is, uhh, you know the . . . the sort of stereotypes that they see on the TV and the movies?

And . . and in real life they've never . . . a lot of white people have never met a person of color. That's hard to believe here in New York, you know, 'cause we're such a . . . a multicultural city -- and in this whole area of the country. But when you go to other parts of the country, and you can, you know, go for a couple of days and never see anybody who doesn't look white. And that has a lot to do with, with fostering prejudices, you know?

If you . . . if you, if you only have your imagination and the fears that have been instilled -- you've got to be taught. South Pacific is back on the Broadway stage over at Lincoln Center, with that great song . . . 'You've got to be taught to hate and fear, it's got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you've got to be carefully taught.' And then if nothing ever comes along to, to, to shake those things that you were taught . . . to shake them up and make you think differently -- well, then you're not going to think differently.

Oh, don't get me started on this subject. I think I already am started on this subject. I feel adamant. And angry. Because I do know people who are in this situation, people who are discriminated against simply because they love somebody who a certain part of society says is unnatural, and illegal in the sense that, you know, you're not gonna get locked up or arrested or whatever, but you're not gonna have the same rights as the rest of us.

That's absurd! Absolutely absurd! (chuckles)

There's no logical reason for it except that people have been taught this, and they never learn anything different. Arrggh!

But in California this week, there was a victory! And . . . and, and every man and woman in America should celebrate it, not just . . . not just people who are gay. Not just people who are in same-sex relationships, but every man and woman. Because until . . . you know, it's the old cliche: Until we're all free, then, none of us is free. Until we all have the same rights in this country, then none of us has those rights. It's as simple as that.

[Returns to announcing songs in the previous set.]

WELL, IT'S GOOD TO KNOW exactly how big an idiot am I. Exactly what a mean oppressor am I. How narrow-minded am I, as a resident of one of those bucolic hellholes lying outside New York City, where I probably haven't seen a Negro forev . . . never mind, there goes one now.

Likewise, I guess I need to inform a gay friend of mine that he must not be after all, being that I have known him for 20 years and still oppose same-sex marriage -- an opposition that, according to Scelsa, must be rooted in my complete ignorance of homosexuals.

Yea, verily I stand before thee as a hater, for I have been carefully taught. By the Catholic Church.

Well, slap mah mouf and call me Nellie Forbush.

Of course, Vin Scelsa is entitled to his opinion, no matter how ungrounded in natural law or human anthropology. On the other hand, Mr. Scelsa last weekend took a nice little chunk of his program to trash part of the mission statement, as it were, of his employer. You know, the Jesuits. A wholly owned subsidiary of the Catholic Church -- that bigoted bunch of haters who carefully taught the likes of lil' ol' me to hate the poofters, don't you know?

WHICH, TO BE SURE, isn't even true. Nowhere does the Church say to hate anyone. Nowhere does the Church say that same-sex attraction is even sinful.

What the Church does say is that marriage -- defined as the union of a man and a woman for many millennia now -- is "a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring." Same-sex unions not only never have met the "marriage" litmus test but, according to how marriage has been defined throughout all of human history, never can meet that standard.

What the Church also says is that sex outside of marriage is sinful, not to mention societally disruptive. Therefore, while homosexuality is a condition that is neither virtuous nor sinful, it is a disordered condition in regards to how intimate relationships were biologically and sociologically designed to operate. And, therefore, homosexual acts are sinful -- there is no way for them to occur in a morally licit context.

IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see how far gone the Jesuits are -- whether they've gone from mere doctrinal squishiness to out-and-out self-hatred with anti-Church proclivities. Really, are the Jebbies so far gone that they'll tolerate letting their employee use their facilities to trash a fundamental teaching of their Church, and then insinuate they're a bunch of mind-poisoning bigots?

I can't speak for the Jesuits, but let me ask you this: Would you let it slide if you invited someone into your home (or into your employ), only to have the wretched little troll take your money, eat your food, insult your religion and your moral values after having hijacked your PA system?

Me, I think you'd probably sock the sumbitch in the schnoz and throw his ass into the street. That's what I think.

But I guess I could be wrong " . . . because the world is changing, people are changing."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bushies taking their cues from Fox?

It's a Bill O'Reilly world at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where the White House is upset over how NBC -- the waterboard right's fourth point along the "Axis of Evil" -- edited an interview with President Bush.

In a letter to the head of NBC News as rich with irony as it was lacking in self-awareness, a Bush aide complained the network edited Bush's answers to correspondent Richard Engel's questions with the intent to deceive. Says the administration that "edited" intelligence with the intent to suck the American people into an unjust and foolhardy war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The story's in The Hill:
The White House on Monday sent a scathing letter to NBC News, accusing the news network of “deceptively” editing an interview with President Bush on the issue of appeasement and Iran.

At issue were remarks Bush made in front of Israel's parliament earlier this week.

Specifically, White House counselor Ed Gillespie laments that the network edited the interview in a way that “is clearly intended to give viewers the impression that [Bush] agreed with [correspondent Richard Engel's] characterization of his remarks when he explicitly challenged it.

“This deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured storyline is utterly misleading and irresponsible and I hereby request in the interest of fairness and accuracy that the network air the President’s responses to both initial questions in full on the two programs that used the excerpts,” said Gillespie in the letter to NBC News President Steve Capus.

BRIAN WILLIAMS NOTED the letter on tonight's NBC Nightly News, adding that the entire unedited interview was available on the program's website. And above. The edited version is here -- and, no, the president didn't need someone in an NBC editing booth to make him look like a delusional moron.

Finally, it's interesting that Bush likened his opponents to advocates of the "beehive theory" -- that you leave the beehive alone in hopes that the bees stay inside.

Q The war on terrorism has been the centerpiece of your presidency. Many people say that it has not made the world safer, that it has created more radicals, that there are more people in this part of the world who want to attack the United States.

THE PRESIDENT: That theory says by confronting the people that killed us, therefore there's going to be more -- therefore we shouldn't confront them?

Q Or confronting -- creating more people who want to kill us, one could also say.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you can say that, but the truth of the matter is there's fewer al Qaeda leaders, the people are on the run; they're having more trouble recruiting in the Middle East; Saudi Arabia, our partner, has gone after al Qaeda; people now see al Qaeda for what it is, which is a group of extremists and radicals who preach nothing but hate. And no, I just -- it's just the beehive theory -- we should have just let the beehive sit there and hope the bees don't come out of the hive?

My attitude is the United States must stay on the offense against al Qaeda -- two ways. One from --

Q Smash the bees --

THE PRESIDENT: -- two ways --

Q -- in the hive and let them spread?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me for a minute, Richard. Two ways. One, find them and bring them to justice -- what we're doing. And two, offer freedom as an alternative for their vision. And somehow to suggest the bees would stay in the hive is naïve -- they didn't stay in the hive when they came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

UHHHHHHH . . . the killer bees, as it were, swarmed in Afghanistan and are now hiding in our supposed ally, Pakistan. A great many of those bees were bred by our other supposed ally, Saudi Arabia. And, no, a sane person does not go around smashing beehives to keep the bees from going on a rampage. You smoke the buggers out.

George Bush thought he was smashing a beehive in Iraq, and he thought that actually would work. Thing is, Iraq turned out not to be a beehive at all, and there was no al Qaida presence in Iraq -- at least before we invaded.

What Iraq turned out to be was a hornet's nest. Or Pandora's Box -- take your pick.