Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


"When pushed on the nature of DeLay’s friendship with the president, Bush’s aides like to say they aren’t close. Instead they stress how effective DeLay has been as part of Team Bush. Those terms were repeated Wednesday as the White House responded to DeLay’s indictment. “Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people,” said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan."
--"Not So Bosom Buddies", Newsweek 9/28/05

Jack Lint: "Sam, we've always been close, haven't we?"
Sam Lowry: "Yes."
Jack Lint: "Well, until this all blows over... stay away from me."
--Brazil (1985)


In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.

Scorsese/Dylan: an open thread (why not?) to discuss the remarkable, troubling, thought-provoking, 200 minute documentary.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Orwell #9

"Today there are only eighty people in the United Kingdom with net incomes of over six thousand pounds a year." (Mr. Quintin Hogg, M.P., in his pamphlet The Times We Live In.)

There are also about eighty ways in the English and American languages of expressing incredulity -- for example, garn, come off it, you bet, sez you, oh yeah, not half, I don't think, less of it or and the pudding! But I think and then you wake up is the exactly suitable answer to a remark like the one quoted above.

"As I Please," 55, Tribune, 19 January 1945 (In The Complete Works of George Orwell, ed. Peter Davison, vol. 17, p. 23).

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

And that will be England gone,
The shadows, the meadows, the lanes
The guildhalls, the carved choirs.
There'll be books; it will linger on
In galleries; but all that remains
For us will be concrete and tyres.

Most things are never meant.
This won't be, most likely: but greeds
And garbage are too thick-strewn
To be swept up now, or invent
Excuses that make them all needs.
I just think it will happen, soon.

From "Going, Going"
Philip Larkin

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


"Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said that Judge Roberts's refusal to answer many questions had rendered the hearings absurd. Mr. Schumer suggested that Judge Roberts would not even name his favorite movies. Judge Roberts named two: 'Doctor Zhivago' and 'North by Northwest.'"
--"Roberts Parries Queries on Death and Roe v. Wade," NYT 9/15/05

[Thornhill is wearing sunglasses to hide his identity]
Ticket Seller: Something wrong with your eyes?
Roger Thornhill: Yes, they're sensitive to questions.
--North by Northwest (1959)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

-- John Paul Stevens, Dissent, "Bush v. Gore"

Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.

-- William Rehnquist, "Bush v. Gore"

The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.

-- Antonin Scalia, Concurring Opinion on Petition For Stay, "Bush v. Gore"

Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. . . . Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire. . . . If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.

-- John Roberts, Opening Statement, Confirmation Hearings

a perilous escapade

I shall not soon forget that moment when I, Joseph Darby, Esq., known in parts of this great city simply by my last name...Darby of London...decided to publish a small broadside for the common consumption out of a printing shop owned by the father of my late wife, my father-in-law, Mr. Hodges.

Little is known of this journal, for it dissappeared almost as quickly as it was born...printed on a single page, and oftentimes with the remaining ink from what had been the profits of the previous day's run at Mr. Hodges' shop....such are the limits of the not-so-independent publisher.

But fame was not to be caught in my frail net. And what little observations I had to make upon the stories of the day were always overshadowed by the importance I assigned to subjects that were not so bold, so noticed, nor bourne on the tongues of lords of court. Simply put, I was a press man hard-pressed to push, and pushed to my own peril to pay attention to the popular. And so my little broadside seemed to shrivel for want of readership.

One morning, a sheaf of the penultimate issue in the crook of my arm, I set off to the public square to hawk it there...and despite my lack of balance, general unease in the midst of the throng, and my soft voice, not well-suited to barking, crying or even indulging that last resort of the marketplace hack...the confident hiss of the whispered entreaty which proposes to sell by revealing a secret to vulnerable ears....I waded into the thick of the crowd, broadside held high.

Whatever strategy I had been intending to employ, however, was put to vain end when a young beggar immediately bowled me over and made off with the entire days run. I am sure he sold many more copies of my efforts than I might ever have, and justly so. How often is that the fate of the quick, the easy and the ephemeral in this world!

Such was the last issue of the Daily Darb. Abandoning it, I dedicated myself to the writing of weightier and longer-lasting fare. I must say, Mr. Hodges was quite relieved...seeing me returning to print shop empty handed so soon after I had left, he prodded my firmly upon the shoulder..."Why sell for pennies what others will pay for in pounds?"

Which, indeed, gave me a great deal to think about.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


when the levee breaks
the water is rising
out of my depth

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Three Deaths"




Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

"You may be sure that there are men and women already on their road, who have their business to do with YOU, and who will do it. Of a certainty they will do it. They may be coming hundreds, thousands, of miles over the sea there; they may be close at hand now; they may be coming, for anything you know or anything you can do to prevent it, from the vilest sweepings of this very town."

-- Dickens, Little Dorrit


"We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and those who died in the great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color." --

-- Rep. Elijah Cummings, Sept 2, 2005


"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died yesterday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington."

-- Associated Press, "Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies," Sep. 04, 2005


SUMMARY: San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez , March 21, 1973: A class action on behalf of certain Texas school children was instituted against state school authorities in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality, under the Equal Protection clause, of using property tax in each district to supplement educational funds. The three-judge District Court held that the Texas school financing system was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause because it discriminated on the basis of wealth and was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause. On direct appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed the holding.


"It was a monumental case, billed as promising massive educational upgrading for poor children everywhere. Marshall, White, Brennan and Douglas felt that the property taxes had to be reallocated, to even out the expenditures in different areas. Otherwise, there would never be a way to ensure equal educational opportunities, a right they felt was guaranteed by the Constitution. The other side argued that the Constitution did not require any such allocation."

-- Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court, p. 306


"In retrospect, there were clear signs that the Supreme Court would not look too favorably on the lower court rulings on school finance coming out of Texas and California. Although the Warren Court's aura of judicial activism still glowed, the Court was under increasing political pressure to scale back its agenda. Importantly, President Nixon had appointed three politically moderate or conservative judges in the early 1970s: Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justices William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. . . . With the Rodriguez case, the plaintiffs hoped that the important position of public education within American political and economic life would lead the Court to declare education a fundamental right, thereby forcing the Court to examine much more carefully any wealth-based discrimination in the provision of public education. Certainly, the Court's position in Brown v. Board of Education supported the view that education was, implicitly at least, of central importance to governance and citizenship. After all, Chief Justice Earl Warren had written for a unanimous Court that "education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments," adding, a few lines later, that educational opportunity, "where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms."11 But what had been "the most important function of state and local governments" under the Warren Court in 1954 became somewhat less important under the Burger Court in 1973. This transformation of education's centrality--combined with a reluctance to view wealth as a suspect classification--led the Supreme Court to deny, by a narrow 5-4 margin, the claims of Demetrio Rodriguez and his fellow plaintiffs."

-- Douglas Reed, On Equal Terms: The Constitutional Politics of Educational Opportunity


"With desegregation orders losing favor in the courts, education reformers turned to the other main source of inequality in education, which desegregation advocates had thus far largely missed -- unequal financing across school districts. Because a school's resources are tied to its local tax base, children in wealthy suburbs enjoy quality teachers, smaller classes and up-to-date science labs, while students in poor areas make do with far less. In 1973, in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court had put an end to these cases in federal court, ruling 5 to 4 that school finance was a local matter. Now advocates for poor children were meeting with some success bringing state constitutional claims. Courts from Connecticut to Kentucky to, a few months ago, New York issued orders that school financing in their states be made fairer. But in many more states, courts rejected these claims. Under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who wrote a memorandum as a Supreme Court law clerk arguing for reaffirming Plessy, progress on desegregation has not only stopped but reversed. In a series of decisions in the 1990's, sometimes called the ''resegregation cases,'' the court made it far easier for school districts to skirt desegregation orders already in place. A pair of cases in the early 1990's lowered the obstacles for school systems once held to be segregated to achieve ''unitary status,'' meaning they had legally desegregated and could start becoming segregated again. In the majority's view, desegregation was no longer a state for America to aspire for and work toward, but a punishment imposed on districts that had once done wrong, to be lifted as soon as possible."

-- Adam Cohen, "The Supreme Struggle," The New York Times, January 18, 2004


AUSTIN - The state of Texas has agreed to take in an additional 25,000 Louisiana refugees from Hurricane Katrina and plans to house them in San Antonio, Gov. Rick Perry's office said today. Louisiana requested that Texas provide shelter for the evacuees, and Perry has spoken with the mayor and county judge in San Antonio to begin making the plans, said Perry's spokesman, Robert Black. "We don't know where, we don't know a timetable yet,'' Black said. More details were expected later today.

--Associated Press, Sept. 1, 2005, "San Antonio to take in 25,000 more from Louisiana"

Two Evacuations

Tim Russert's interview with Chertoff, already on-line, is exemplary for showing how questions about the horrific govt failure during the post-flooding catastrophe lead inevitably back to the first evacuation.

Unfortunately, it took a while for Russert to get to this first evacuation, so Chertoff's shocking comments didn't receive full scrutiny. But please use this post for any thoughts about these comments -- or any news sources that continue to push this. (In this light, the Washington Post gives us the crucial article to date about how Bush/Chertoff/Brown are trying to "shift blame" to local authorities. The Chertoff interview repeats these absurd talking points, but also shows what a weak reed they lie on). Here is the crucial exchange:

CHERTOFF: The fact of the matter is, there's only really one way to deal with that issue, and that is to get people out first. Once that bowl breaks and that soup bowl fills with water, it is unquestionably the case, as we saw vividly demonstrated, that it's going to be almost impossible to get people out. So there is really only one way to deal with it, and that is to evacuate people in advance. Michael Brown got on TV in Saturday and he said to people in New Orleans, "Take this seriously. There is a storm coming." On Friday there was discussion about the fact that even though this storm could fall anywhere along the Gulf, people had to be carefully monitoring it. We were watching it on Saturday and Sunday. The president was on a videoconference on Sunday telling us we've got to do everything possible to be prepared. But you know, Tim, at the end of the day, this is the ground truth: The only way to avoid a catastrophic problem in that soup bowl is to have people leave before the hurricane hits. Those who got out are fine. Those who stayed in faced one of the most horrible experiences in their life.

RUSSERT: But that's the point. Those who got out were people with SUVs and automobiles and air fares who could get out. Those who could not get out were the poor who rely on public buses to get out. Your Web site says that your department assumes primary responsibility for a national disaster. If you knew a hurricane 3 storm was coming, why weren't buses, trains, planes, cruise ships, trucks provided on Friday, Saturday, Sunday to evacuate people before the storm?

CHERTOFF: Tim, the way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials. The federal government comes in and supports those officials. That's why Mike Brown got on TV on Saturday and he told people to start to get out of there. Now, ultimately the resources that will get people who don't have cars and don't have the ability to remove themselves has to rest with the kinds of assets a city has--the city's buses, the city's transportation.

Mike Brown went on TV. George Bush had a videoconference. And, most remarkably, the statement, as dogma, that the evacuation of a city can be supported only by the "assets a city has".

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Put out the light, and then put out the light

Never Forget: There have been two evacuations of New Orleans.

On Saturday August 27, with no federal help, the city of New Orleans decided to evacuate itself. The president was in Crawford, on vacation.

On Sunday August 28, with no federal help, the city of New Orleans attempted to evacuate itself. Bush stayed on vacation.

Regardless of anything that happened after Monday night, the US neglect during the "first" evacuation is stunningly crinimal. Bush's horribly mindless vacation is criminal. An entire city needed to empty itself. Four years after 9/11, the government did nothing.

From Yahoo News, on August 28: "As many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave, and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport. The city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome. Nagin also dispatched police and firefighters to rouse people out with sirens and bullhorns, and even gave them the authority to commandeer vehicles to aid in the evacuation."

From the NY Times: "The response will be dissected for years. But on Thursday, disaster experts and frustrated officials said a crucial shortcoming may have been the failure to predict that the levees keeping Lake Pontchartrain out of the city would be breached, not just overflow. They also said that evacuation measures were inadequate, leaving far too many city residents behind to suffer severe hardships and, in some cases, join marauding gangs."

Again, from the Times: "Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now 'very, very tenuous' city. Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been 'carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days,' he said that 'the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security.'

Two evacuations. Two murderous failures.



"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." -- Grover Norquist, NPR 5/25/01


"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

-- Bush. Today.

So when Janie looked out of her door she saw the drifting mists gathered in the west -- that cloud field of the sky -- to arm them with thunders and march forth against the world. Louder and higher and lower and wider the sound and motion spread, mounting, sinking, darking.

It woke up old Okechobee and the monster began to roll in his bed. Began to roll and complain like a peevish world on a grumble. The folks in the quarters and the people in the big houses further around the shore heard the big lake and wondered. The people felt uncomfortable but safe because there were the seawalls to chain the senseless monster in his bed. The folks let the people do the thinking. If the castles thought themselves secure, the cabins needn't worry. Their decision was already made, as always. Chink up your cracks, shiver in your wet beds and wait on the mercy of the Lord.

-- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937

Man (1938)

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