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»  February 28, 2009

Politics  

Ahoy From 'The Beaver State' (Now 150 Years Old): Via scout prime at First Draft, Attaturk, and Gawker, John McCain tweets that the #5 pork item in the stimulus bill is "$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi".

Huh. He said "beaver."

Funny that he should bring that up, considering the GOP's great efforts in creating Our Nation's Greatest Urban Wetland (aka New Orleans). Because, y'know, one of the things beavers (and their cousin the nutria) do is dig holes. They dig holes in things like earthen levees which can weaken the levees in flood conditions. Then, of course, they do build dams (PDF):

Beaver populations have increased in recent years due to a poor fur market and the fact that they have few natural predators. Beaver management in the Southeast consists mainly of controlling beaver densities. In Mississippi, beaver damage is estimated at $3 to $5 million annually. Beaver population monitoring and management is the foundation for all other operations on the Delta National Forest. Without it, unacceptable economic and ecological losses occur.

...

In 1994, over 14,000 acres (or nearly one-fourth) of the Delta National Forest were under beaver-impounded water. This happened during a time of year when natural floods do not occur. Trees flooded during the growing season suffered a loss of growth. Even species adapted to periodic high water can die if their root systems remain under water for one or more growing seasons. Timber growth loss was estimated at over 5 million board feet annually. Over 4,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forest died due to the inundation. Uncontrolled beaver populations plagued the forest to the point that flooding spread onto adjacent private lands. Campers had to contend with muddy conditions in campsites, on trails and forest roads.

Beaver management began on the Delta National Forest in 1995 when the beaver population was at a higher than normal level. Management includes removing dams, clearing culverts, constructing and maintaining beaver exclusion devices, and trapping and killing beavers.

Republicans probably wouldn't have a problem with "beaver management" if they were shooting beavers from planes.

 


»  February 18, 2009

Director  

End of The End:

You have been removed from the DIRECT-L list.

 


»  February 13, 2009

What the...?  

The Good News: Good news from the Fujin on Tuesday:

Soon you will receive pleasant news.
Hopefully that news wasn't in the fortune cookie I unthinkingly put whole in my mouth yesterday. It didn't feel like there was a fortune in there...

 


»  February 9, 2009

Politics  

Look Sharpe: I watched Street Fight last night, a documentary about the 2002 Newark, New Jersey mayoral race between four-term incumbent Sharpe James and 32-year-old city councilman Cory Booker, and there was a point at which the story reminded me of Portland's current mayoral kerfuffle.

A month or two before the election, police raided Sights — a Newark strip club — found a 16-year-old girl working there, charged the owner with running a brothel, and picked up Booker's chief of staff standing in the line to enter the club. Although he wasn't actually arrested, Jermaine James (no relation to the mayor), and his association to Booker were the highlighted items in the press release on the raid from the Newark Police Department.

Mayor James went on the high moral offensive, embellishing the actual events and attacking Booker:

In a speech to mark the beginning of his re-election campaign two weeks ago, Mr. James veered from his prepared text to obliquely criticize Mr. Booker for not taking action against the aide who was in line at the club. "If any member of my staff frequents a place of prostitution and narcotics that's illegal in the city of Newark, where 14-year-olds are doing live sex acts, they don't even have to touch them; I'm still going to fire them," he said indignantly with the governor and a coterie of elected officials at his side.
As a side note, that governor was named Jim McGreevey.

Then, two weeks after James's fusillade, the owner of the club and four other current and former employees disclosed that Mayor James himself had spent an hour in the club a couple of years earlier.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Wilson, the owner, said the mayor had visited the club in May or June of 2000, the same night his son, John James, was there. The mayor, however, arrived with a man Mr. Wilson said appeared to be a bodyguard. "The first time he came, he didn't hide it," said Mr. Wilson. "He came in, shook hands with staff and members who recognized him." Mr. Wilson recalled that when he told Mr. James that his son had been there earlier, the mayor laughed and said, 'Oh, he likes these places.'"

The mayor, Mr. Wilson and others say, returned a few weeks later, but left after learning that Mr. Wilson was not working that evening.

Martin Mathis, 34, the club's former security chief, said the mayor sat and drank a soda as several women approached. "He was definitely looking at the women that were there," said Mr. Mathis, who now works as a medical technician in East Orange. "The girls were coming over; they were just talking to him, touching him, although I don't think it was in a sexual manner."

The manager, David E. L. Melvin, 31, of Jersey City, said other patrons seemed honored by his presence. "He was just there like a regular meet-and-greet situation," he said.

After that revelation, the mayor refused to deny that he had ever visited Sights, nor did he offer to step down after having raked Booker over the coals for not firing his chief of staff (the city's business administrator determined that the other James had done nothing to violate rules of conduct).

To me that's the crux of the Adams story. Sanctimonious, bald-faced lying and deceit. A willingness to not only lie in the face of facts that any number of people know to be true, but to do so by wrapping oneself in a sheep's clothing of purity and innocence. Some of the interviewees in Street Fight exclaim their disbelief that the mayor would be so stupid as to make a case out of Booker's aide's detention at the strip club, but then again, James went on to win the election with 53% of the vote.

James didn't run for mayor in 2006 (Booker took 72% of the vote). He was sentenced to 27 months in prison in July 2008 after being convicted on five counts of fraud by a federal jury, for selling city property at bargain prices to a former girlfriend who sold them for a 1200% profit.

 


»  February 6, 2009

What the...?  

You're Asking Me:

You're asking me, "What's it leading to?
Will we live a long life, will it treat us fair?"
No point asking me because I haven't got a clue.

You're asking me, "Will it be alright?"
If you're asking me, don't take my advice.
And don't make me responsible for you living your life.

I could say there will be laughter, you will never cry.
I could just as easily go tell a lie, couldn't I? Yeah,
What would come after, that would be unwise.
If that's what you really want
Then get a life, get a life, get a life.

You're asking me, "Will it be alright?"
Because I've been around, I have the insight.
And I was there the first time so I must know what it's like.
If you're asking me, don't take my advice.

—Ray Davies, "You're Asking Me," Workingman's Café

 


»  February 4, 2009

Politics  

Long Time Coming: It's not my normal time of the year to run this, but if middle-of-the-road Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill are taking up limits to executive pay to institutions taking taxpayer bailout dollars (something socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed months ago), then who knows when they're be dusting off this gem from Huey Long's autobiography Every Man a King:

CHAPTER XXXVI

THE MADDENED FORTUNE HOLDERS AND THEIR
INFURIATED PUBLIC PRESS!

The increasing fury with which I have been and am to be, assailed by reason of the fight and growth of support for limiting the size of fortunes can only be explained by the madness which human nature attaches to the holders of accumulated wealth.

What I have proposed is:—

THE LONG PLAN

1. A capital levy tax on the property owned by any one person of 1% of all over $1,000,000 [dp: $14,275,000 in 2005 dollars]; 2% of all over $2,000,000 [$28,550,000] etc., until, when it reaches fortunes of over $100,000,000 [$1,427,500,000], the government takes all above that figure; which means a limit on the size of any one man's forturn to something like $50,000,000 [$713,750,000]—the balance to go to the government to spread out in its work among all the people.

2. An inheritance tax which does not allow one man to make more than $5,000,000 [$71,375,000] in a lifetime without working for it, all over that amount to go to the government to be spread among the people for its work.

3. An income tax which does not allow any one man to make more than $1,000,000 [$14,275,000] in one year, exclusive of taxes, the balance to go to the United States for general work among the people.

The forgoing program means all taxes paid by the fortune holders at the top and none by the people at the bottom; the spreading of wealth among all the people and the breaking up of a system of Lords and Slaves in our economic life. It allows the millionaires to have, however, more than they can use for any luxury they can enjoy on earth. But, with such limits, all else can survive.

That the public press should regard my plan and effort as a calamity and me as a menace is no more than should be expected, gauged in the light of past events. According to Ridpath, the eminent historian:

"The ruling classes always possess the means of information and the processes by which it is distributed. The newspaper of modern times belongs to the upper man. The under man has no voice; or if, having a voice, his cry is lost like a shout in the desert. Capital, in the places of power, seizes upon the organs of public utterance, and howls the humble down the wind. Lying and misrepresentation are the natural weapons of those who maintain an existing vice and gather the usufruct of crime."

—Ridpath's History of the World, Page 410.

In 1932, the vote for my resolution showed possibly a half dozen other Senators back of it. It grew in the last Congress to nearly twenty Senators. Such growth through one other year will mean the success of a venture, the completion of everything I have undertaken,—the time when I can and will retire from the stress and fury of public life, maybe as my forties begin,—a contemplation so serene as to appear impossible.

That day will reflect credit on the States whose Senators took the early lead to spread the wealth of the land among all the people.

Then no tear dimmed eyes of a small child will be lifted into the saddened face of a father or mother unable to give it the necessities required by its soul and body for life; then the powerful will be rebuked in the sight of man for holding what they cannot consume, but which is craved to sustain humanity; the food of the land will feed, the raiment clothe, and the houses shelter all the people; the powerful will be elated by the well being of all, rather than through their greed.

Then those of us who have pursued that phantom of Jefferson, Jackson, Webster, Theodore Roosevelt and Bryan may hear wafted from their lips in Valhalla:

EVERY MAN A KING