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Finding Truth in a Whirlwind

  There's a must-read in The Post today by Robert Pierre and Ann Gerhart, looking at all the unfounded rumors of murder, rape, gunfire on helicopters and whatnot that emerged during the chaos of Katrina (as someone really smart said back on Sept. 4, "in times of crisis, people turn on minorities. It will be interesting to see if some of the early news reports about gangs of armed thugs, about people shooting on rescue helicopters, hold up. Rumors are thick in a whirlwind"). The leading promulgators of some of the worst rumors were the mayor and police chief of New Orleans. It's a cautionary note for journalists, who rely heavily on public officials when a big story is breaking. Anyone with a title, a badge or a stripe on the shoulder is regarded as necessarily more credible than someone else. We publish and broadcast alarming assertions based entirely on the word of someone who is providing no direct evidence. In the world of science this is called the Argument from Authority. It's a great way to get something wrong.

   Another journalistic move is the political analysis that borders on telepathy. We often have to explain why a political official has done something, even though the political official won't explain his or her motives. We sense underlying motives that require excavation through a kind of mind-reading. More importantly, we are not permitted, under the basic rules of competitive journalism, to go with a story that says, "We have no idea what in tarnation these ding-dongs are up to." Thus, for example, we have a news analysis from yesterday's Times: "There is still much to learn about Harriet E. Miers, but in naming her to the Supreme Court, President Bush revealed something about himself: that he has no appetite, at a time when he and his party are besieged by problems, for an all-out ideological fight....  Mr. Bush shied away from a direct confrontation with liberals and in effect asked his base on the right to trust him on this one...." But for all we know, Bush is going around the White House wishing he could get into a major showdown with Democrats in Congress and put the swagger back in his Administration. It seems just as likely that Bush picked Miers because she's a loyalist and he knows first-hand that she's a born-again Christian. But that's also a guess. I'm no mind-reader. Though my ability to be always right about everything is starting to feel supernatural.

   [Early Afternoon Update from the Java House Bureau: Just read the George Will column, which is a marvel, his outrage inspiring an efflorescence of volubility (EOV) that never stumbles into loquaciousness or the related evil known as prolixity.

   Here's a key paragraph: "It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends."

   You have to love Will: No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier, and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic. The column is perhaps slightly undermined by the strange axe-grinding digression about the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill.]

   [prolix: "unduly prolonged or drawn out : too long"

   voluble: "characterized by ready or rapid speech"

    efflorescence: "the action or process of developing and unfolding as if coming into flower."

    loquacious: "jabbering up a storm"] [See online dictionary of Mrs. Merriam Webster]

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 4, 2005; 10:07 PM ET
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Next: Maureen Dowd Samizdat


George Will is very interesting on the Supreme choice today. I suspect that in this bunch of Supremes, Justice Miers will be just be a backup singer who comes in on the chorus with Thomas behind Scalia.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't you appoint someone who thinks you're the most brilliant man she ever met? I would suggest that she needs to get out more.

Posted by: mostBrilliant | October 5, 2005 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I tell my wife that I am always right about everything, but she says I'm wrong.

Posted by: LB | October 5, 2005 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm suprised that you would use the line about people turning on minorities when it was the chief of police and mayor that were the lead rumor mongers. I suppose that you mean that we bad majority types were too quick to believe them.

Posted by: LB | October 5, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

LB, you put me in mind of the time that Gerald and Betty Ford were asked who was smarter. Pres. Ford quickly deferred to his wife, saying that Betty was the smarter one in their marriage. She came back by saying, "No, Gerry, you are obviously smarter than me. You married me, whereas I married you."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Don't I recall, listening to WTOP the morning of 9/11, repeated reports of a bomb going off at the State Department? Which everyone else picked up?

Communication was bad that day too- gridlock downtown, and minimal cell service. But I remember hearing that repeatedly and never remember hearing a retraction.

Posted by: Les | October 5, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what the really smart person was trying to say in a polite way is that the stinky masses tend to gravitate towards the lowlands whereas the favored few tend to occupy the high ground, or perhaps not. It's all so difficult for Moi Moi to decipher.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 10:25 AM | Report abuse

It is true that the civil servants of Getna stopped buses leaving New Orleans as the evacuation was taking place. They feel that it would be wrong to let all those thieves and looters and murderers and rapists into their "fair city."

There are lines that must be drawn to preserve civility.

Would it be appropriate for Bethesda or Arlington to block the roads from DC if we were to experience an emergency in the nation's capital?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I do think people were too quick to believe the worst. Yes. I do think that. Call me crazy!!!!

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 10:33 AM | Report abuse

On 9/11 there were also reports of a bomb at the Capitol and a fire at the old USA Today building in Rosslyn. The difference with Katrina is that the misinformation grew over time, rather than subsided.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The boodle killer strikes again.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Achenbach, where was Gerry Rivers on 9/11?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Bush's goal is to stack the Supreme Court in such a way as to overturn Roe v. Wade. A loose cannon he does not trust can't be relied on. An evangelical personal friend with little constitutional experience can. He wants RvW overturned and will appoint anyone he needs to to do it.

Many pundits resign themselves to a "so what, then it reverts to the states." stance. Not if the overturning decision "creates" a right to life at the moment of conception. By defining life at conception, the SCOTUS would shift the entire playing field. An abortion could only occur as the taking of a life "under due process." Abortions would then be a legal battle instead of a medical decison. The court decision would then require a law or amendment to overturn, which would never happen. Please mark and date this prediction so I can say I told you so.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 5, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse

At least the media didn't pick up the story about Katrina being a giant fetus sent by God to punish those sinful, abortion-loving Louisianans.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse

We've all known for quite some that you are crazy. I guess with the visuals of the lootling and mayham, it wasn't too much of a stretch to believe the other stuff.

Posted by: LB | October 5, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse

By the way, I am not required necessarily to promote Post stories and deride Times stories. It just works out that way, sometimes. I am sure the Times writer who wrote the news analysis is a great journalist and great human being.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Joel - You're not a boodle killer and yes people were too quick to believe the worst. I guess it's human nature to pander to stereotypes. I was once profiled by the alumni magazine in college and when I read the article I could barely recognize that it was me being written about. I was portrayed as this poor struggling Nigerian who barely made it out of the country alive and was oh so fortunate to make it to the United States. I told the woman I didn't think this was an accurate representation of our interview and she said too bad, that's what I got out of it. I was so upset and told her that if that was what she was going to publish I would rather she didn't publish anything at all. I guess my true story was not interesting enough. Needless to say the article wasn't published.

Posted by: omodudu | October 5, 2005 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Well, didn't anyone else's baloney-detector (can I say that word in polite company? "baloney"??) go off when CNN kept reporting that people were firing guns at helicopters trying to rescue them?

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse

On 9/11 I recall hearing about an explosion at State. I also recall hearing that it wasn't true about an hour later. I was impressed with the speed of the updated news.

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 10:48 AM | Report abuse


I guess your story falls into the "the story almost wrote itself" category. Sorry to hear the story (of the story).

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
More importantly, we are not permitted, under the basic rules of competitive journalism, to go with a story that says, "We have no idea what in tarnation these ding-dongs are up to."

Unless you say just that. The "Who's on First?" story about Rita evacuees coming to San Antonio--how many, who'll assume management, lack of communication among officials--that nabbed front-page headlines over the weekend has now been relegated, as of today's paper, to page B3. San Antonio officials still don't have a clue about how many evacuees are coming, when they'll arrive, and to what company FEMA will provide the contract for their care, despite the fact FEMA is putting up 200 trailers a day in Louisiana.

But what our Mayor Phil Hardberger learned since the start of the week is that the city newcomers will be Katrina evacuees currently housed in 254 shelters in 22 Texas counties and their resettlement is part of a plan to consolidate shelters and give relief to local governments and volunteeer workers.

Yesterday, our local paper hit us readers over the head twice--in a front-page story and in an op-ed--about how, on paper, the largest evacuation from Hurricane Rita was a success, while on the ground it was a nightmare.

In the glare of the aftermath, state and local officials were caught totally unprepared: they underestimated the number of people who would flee, they struggled to deal with crippling gas shortages (also, National Guard trucks dispatched to provide fuel to stranded roadside motorists didn't have nozzles fitted for cars), and had no plan to turn the highways out of Houston into one-way escape routes, a disaster management plan for contra-flow lanes that worked well for New Orleans and Corpus Christi.

The 100 people killed by Rita were killed before the hurricane ever made landfall. In Harris County, 35 people died as a result of the storm, but closer examination reveals that 13 evacuees and seven returnees died or became sick in vehicles, including six with body temperatures between 102 and 112 degress.

The above story is even more poignant when it's someone you know. We live a little more than a mile from San Antonio's newest--but not its largest--Barnes and Noble. My head-and-shoulders-favorite bookseller is Rachel, whose large family evacuated from a city south of Houston to her home here. The traffic jam was horrendous, and the family had decided to bring their six cats and four dogs. Afraid that they would run out of gas, they opened thir windows and shut off the air conditioning as traffic inched forward. A cat and dog died enroute.

As far as Harriet Miers, the American Constitution Society is compiling a great deal of information on Miers, some of which I have not seen in the Post. This website has a long list of contributing blogs/blogs to which you can easily link. I suggest the Balkan and Volokh Conspiracy blogs for those interested in Miers.

Interesting, too, how Dowd exapanded the idea of Miers/Hughes/Rice as office wives into an op-ed in today's NYT. Ditto, with the idea of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans as a Disney backdrop to Bush's nationwide post-hurricane address--an idea also expressed in the Boodle.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | October 5, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Today's lovely introduction by the Kaboodle Master begs Moi Moi's irrelevant question of the day, which is: Hey, don't you have to die first before you can be born again? This question invokes frightening images of Zombie like creatures wandering the streets of Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill, which in turn provokes a somber reflection by Moi Moi that Halloween and New Orleans just ain't the same no more, no more, no more, no more.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 10:52 AM | Report abuse

A giant fetus, huh? I hadn't heard that one.

I stand by my previous statement that the government in LA is worthless (just like the NOLA commentator said a couple of weeks ago). I'm not surprised that these rumors proved false, especially the ones started by the public officials.

Posted by: Sara | October 5, 2005 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Okay, that was a blanket statement. I apologize. I'm sure that LA has some good gov't officials. But the big head honchos can't seem to function very well.

Posted by: Sara | October 5, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Would it be appropriate for Bethesda or Arlington to block the roads from DC if we were to experience an emergency in the nation's capital?"

How about if Bethesda and Arlington were also experiencing their own emergencies, and had food or water or housing for their own people, much less the thousands trying to enter?

The Katrina statistic that grabbed me was that the devastated area was about equal to the size of the UK. Anyone trying to get out on foot would have had a long way to find 'out'.

But shame on the mayor and chief of police for being part of the rumormongering.

Posted by: Les | October 5, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I could believe the part about shots being fired at a helicopter, Joel. That only takes one ding-dong with a gun.

Editing note: At the end of the first graph you have "wasy" instead of "way."

And Joel, as to picking on the Times, there is a Web site where copy editors gather and post comments about the news. (The general discussion is moderated by Phillip Blanchard of the Post, by the way.) The Times gets picked on a great deal there for how its stories are written and edited, or not edited, as the case may be.

Posted by: Bayou Self | October 5, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

O 'boodlekiller, see "wasy" in the last sentence of this Kit's first paragraph. Tom fan's out of town, we need to buckle down and carry the load for her.

Observation I: Politicians and journalists aren't any better at playing "telephone" than anyone else.

Old Observation II: Bad news sells better than good news in the Short Attention Span Theater.
And nothing sells (or gets picked up by other news outlets) more spectacularly than spectacularly lurid bad news (cue Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry").

Ms. Miers is going to be exactly what we think she is, because our views of her are already more or less fixed, and any information that doesn't fall into our personal contexts are likely to be ignored. I'm always right except where someone (and I am someone as well) points out that I'm wrong and I believe it.

Gadzooks, I sound cynical today.


Posted by: bc | October 5, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"the largest evacuation from Hurricane Rita was a success"

the largest evacuation in Texas history as a result of Huuricane Rita...

Posted by: Loomis | October 5, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Hey Les,

No, Les, Other than floatin' out on tubes on the Potomac, to get out of DC by car or bus, you pretty much have to take the roads passing through the Burbs.

Whether or not there are problems in Bethesda or Arlington already, we have to go through those towns to evacuate people.

I really don't know what to say other than "enclave"

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"A great wasy"


Posted by: LP | October 5, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

A comical graphic in the NYT was meant for you. It ran this weekend. It has arrows pointing to and from all the officials involved in Katrina--both state, federal, the press, Bill Maher. Some of those arrows have a quotation superimposed. Hope you can find it.

Posted by: Loomis | October 5, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

What I thought when I heard about shooting at choppers was people with looted booze and guns having a good ol time. It didn't have to be rational what they were doing, I mean come on.

Posted by: LB | October 5, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Linda, I'll look it up.

Posted by: Sara | October 5, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Tube people?

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 11:12 AM | Report abuse

one of the differences between the dc scenario and NO is the the 9th district was perhaps the most crime ridden area of NO - whereas areas of VA and MD have equal crime rates to DC... couldn't the dc evacuees go towards baltimore or annapolis? there's no bridge on that side...

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I think it was Dave Barry who commented that after Andrew, outsiders in the zone of destruction were spooked by all the gunfire. Of course, it was just the normal stuff.

In Tokyo, as you pointed out, people blamed the 1923 earthquake on Korean immigrants.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2005 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I can see residents of Alexandria standing on the overpasses making sure no undesirables fleeing SE DC got off I-95 on there way out of town. Of course I am having trouble envisioning the scenario where SE DC has to flee thru Alexandria since Alex. is way more prone to flooding and closer to DC in case of NBC attack.

Posted by: yellojkt | October 5, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Tom Fan would have spotted that typo in 60 SECONDS, it took you folks more than an hour. Hang on, I'll fix...what a pain...sigh...It's hard being me.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Fetus attacking New Orleans:

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 11:30 AM | Report abuse

i was also was very relieved to find out that the stories were rumours! i couldn't believe that people could become such animals in such a dire situation... it made me lose my faith in humanity - in the basic goodness of ppl! but someone posted in the boodle a link to a story that said it wasn't true about a week ago (?) and i was greatly relieved! my faith in humanity was restored! hurahhhhh!!!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Miers Briefed Bush on Bin Laden PDB, But Papers Handle Photo From That Day Quite Differently

By E&P Staff

Published: October 04, 2005 10:45 AM ET

NEW YORK On its front page Tuesday, The New York Times published a photo of new U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers going over a briefing paper with President George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch "in August 2001," the caption reads.

USA Today and the Boston Globe carried the photo labeled simply "2001," but many other newspapers ran the picture in print or on the Web with a more precise date: Aug. 6, 2001.

Does that date sound familiar? Indeed, that was the date, a little over a month before 9/11, that President Bush was briefed on the now-famous "PDB" that declared that Osama Bin Laden was "determined" to attack the U.S. homeland, perhaps with hijacked planes. But does that mean that Miers had anything to do with that briefing?

As it turns out, yes, according to Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. An article by Richard A. Serrano and Scott Gold observes that early in the Bush presidency "Miers assumed such an insider role that in 2001 it was she who handed Bush the crucial 'presidential daily briefing' hinting at terrorist plots against America just a month before the Sept. 11 attacks."

So the Aug. 6 photo may show this historic moment, though quite possibly not. In any case, some newspapers failed to include the exact date with the widely used Miers photo today. A New York Times spokesman told E&P: "The wording of the caption occurred in the course of routine editing and has no broader significance."

The photo that ran in so many papers and on their Web sites originally came from the White House but was moved by the Associated Press, clearly marked as an "Aug. 6, 2001" file photo. It shows Miers with a document or documents in her right hand, as her left hand points to something in another paper balanced on the president's right leg. Two others in the background are Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and Steve Biegun of the national security staff.

The PDB was headed "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," and notes, among other things, FBI information indicating "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks."

Posted by: Loomis | October 5, 2005 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I did notice the typo when I first looked at the Kit at around 10:35.

Sadly, it took me about 25 minutes to compose my comment, while fielding priority phone calls and answering emails... you know, working.


Posted by: bc | October 5, 2005 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It all depends on what you mean by the word "qualified"


From the Washington Post:

"I know her heart. She knows exactly the kind of judge I'm looking for," Bush said at a morning news conference, noting that she had helped conduct the search that led to the appointment of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. She will be "exactly" what he is looking for, Bush said several times.

Asked by a reporter if she was "the most qualified" person he could find in the country, he said, "Yes, otherwise I would not have" named her.

You see, the word "qualified" means something different than you think it does. "Qualified" means that the nominee meets President Bush's requirements for a Justice, i.e., that she is the sort of person that Bush himself would choose. Almost by definition, then, Miers is eminently "qualified," and we know this because Bush in fact did choose her.

By the same irrefutable logic we can conclude that the Bush tax cuts will "pay for themselves," the deficit is "under control," the Administration's response to Katrina was a "success," and the war in Iraq was "justified" because of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction."

Posted by: Loomis | October 5, 2005 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Tom Fan would never make such a lame excuse.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This just in. Hundreds of tube people are reported as having washed up on the shores of Mount Vernon today in what is being described by some as a FEMA evacuation drill gone awry. This is Coyote Prowler reporting from the Doom and Gloom Room at CNN, thanking all of you, very much.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I normally like to leave typos to Tom, because I know it makes his day. But I saw it had been awhile, so somebody had to step up. If pesky typos aren't dealt with, the hurricanes will have won.

Posted by: Bayou Self | October 5, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, LindaLoo, for the insights and the stuff about the Times photo. I guess it was only a matter of time before 9/11 worked its way into the Miers story. I have to admit I'm still obsessed with the Tim Noah notion that she was his "work wife." Someone else wrote yesterday that, next to Laura, she was closer to Bush than anyone in the White House.

I am going to disappear now before my presence becomes intolerably suffocating.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Wait just a durned minute there Kaboodle Cowboy; you ain't goin' nowhere till's you explain the implications of work wife polygamy on Presidental appointments. Hey, did Moi Moi word that correctly?

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 11:52 AM | Report abuse

bayou - tom fan is a "she" and she's away from us traveling or some such nonsense till next week - hasn't she ever heard of a laptop? sheesh!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 12:00 PM | Report abuse

You're right Joel (ahem), but Tom fan's not here today.

Enjoy today's special: excuse du jour flambe'.


Posted by: bc | October 5, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Seein' as how this is an official Washington Post blog and all, Moi Moi reckons that word choosiness be of special import round these here parts of the internetting.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Stay tuned for today's Blue Bayou Plate Special: Coyote Prowler Reports, "Aborted on the Bayou", the heartwarming and heroic tale of Muckraker Lynch, a born again evacuation tube baby who bootstapped her way out of the bloggy Louisiana swamps all the way up to a Presidential appointment as the Supreme Commander of Gulf Coast Gaurdian Angels. No where else on the internetting will you experience the feeling of being so touched. Nowhere but right here.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

we like having you here in the boodle. Don't disappear on us. I'm beginning to think you just enjoy us encouraging you to play with us by these "boodle killer", "intolerably suffocating" comments

Posted by: omodudu | October 5, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Alexander Hamilton's [Hamilton shot by fellow Hooker descendant Aaron Burr] Federalist paper was a main point of discussion during the first half-hour of Diane Rehm's NPR program yesterday morning (before NPR cut away to the president's Rose Garden press conference).

Federalist No. 76 states:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. . . . He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

Barnett, like conservative other voices, argues that the Miers appointment reeks of the type of cronyism that Hamilton warned against. "Apart from nominating his brother or former business partner, it is hard to see how the president could have selected someone who fit Hamilton's description any more closely." Barnet warns that:

Cronyism is bad not only because it leads to less qualified judges, but also because we want a judiciary with independence from the executive branch. A longtime friend of the president who has served as his close personal and political adviser and confidante, no matter how fine a lawyer, can hardly be expected to be sufficiently independent--especially during the remaining term of her former boss.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | October 5, 2005 12:36 PM | Report abuse

work wife has only one meaning, and it's not savory. we now must grimly plumb the depths of Harriet's sexual proclivities and activities. I trust the Senate will put its best investigators and interrogators on this one. collect DNA, ya know, all the right stuff.

she doesn't even drive an American car!

Posted by: gargantua | October 5, 2005 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Moi Moi is muy muy annoying!

PS Anyone else think Ms. Miers might be batting for the other team say no more say no more?

Posted by: Who Who | October 5, 2005 12:44 PM | Report abuse

maybe so, who who--but we will defend her right to annoy you, within limits. why not take this outside the blog?

Posted by: dc goombah | October 5, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I am not a crook.

Posted by: delay | October 5, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

moi moi,

were we go in life depends totally on the availability of free flowing water.

--- Conrad Tube

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse


I sometimes believe that Joel's blogging is just a sign of problems elsewhere that he just can't bring himself to face.

Maybe it is a book that is just refusing to write itself.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I raise my voice [voice-raising emoticon] in support of moi moi. I'm in the mood for surreal levity right now, and moi moi's the man for the job. Keep up the good work!

Thank you for your kind attention.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I like Moi Moi's posts. But the excessive use of the third person confuses me. jw is getting upset!

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 1:07 PM | Report abuse

jw, you could slip into the royal we.... no?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | October 5, 2005 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I sent this to Gene W because I thought it was hilarious and was tied to the topic of his chat yesterday:

Check out the "How Do I Cure..." section.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the gunshots-heard-while-helicopters-were-trying-to-land incident. My Balderdash Meter (similar to the Baloney Meter, but older and analog) didn't go off until a couple of days later when I noticed that it wasn't on the Today Show. If the story was true, you could bet Katie Couric would be all over it.

But recall also, a story that NO police shot and killed a number of people who were shooting at relief workers (or something). In that context, the shooting-at-helocopters story wasn't so weird.

Sara, I'm with you on the NO officials, particularl Mayor Panic. I'm not so sure the governor didn't do all she could do to get help to her state, though she seemed clueless on how to secure assistance from FEMA.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Some days it feels like I am tubing down a river of tears. The singer, songwriter, artist, Joni Mitchell said that laughing and crying are the same release. Maybe then it is our tears of joy and our tears of sorrow that merge together to form the ever changing flow of the river that is the Achenblog. Now can I go back to talking in the third person? This first person blogging thing feels way too personal for the likes of Moi Moi. Besides, I am even more annoying in the first person than I am in the third person. If I knew how to type in the second or forth person I would try it, just for the fun of it.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 1:38 PM | Report abuse


I just keep remembering the shot I saw of the governor walking with President Bush. She noticed there were cameras around and whipped out powder and lipstick and reapplied it all. People were laying on the sidewalk around her and in my opinion it looked like all she cared about was her photo op. And she did seem clueless when it came to FEMA, didn't she? Isn't that something they're briefed on when they become governor?

Posted by: Sara | October 5, 2005 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Well, didn't anyone else's baloney-detector (can I say that word in polite company? "baloney"??) go off when CNN kept reporting that people were firing guns at helicopters trying to rescue them?"

Alas, boss, my baloney detector didn't go off at that because I know for a fact that people shoot at aircraft all the time. The pilot of one of the blimps you see over football games once told me people shoot at (and hit) blimps all the time--it's not uncommon for a blimp to return from a game and find half a dozen bullet holes. (Can't prove it and have not a shred of evidence on it, but suspect and generally believe the shooters were probably good ol' red-blooded all-American white guys of the redneck variety, the point being that I don't think race has anything to do with stupid people doing stupid, irrational things.)

I think if you put a couple of thousand or more people of any race, class, etc., in a high-stress, long-term situation like happened in NOLA, you're going to have all sorts of crazy behavior, of which rumor-mongering is probably the lesser of the bad possibilities. Doesn't anyone (OK, those over, say, 40) remember the classic Twilight Zone episode, "The Monster Are Coming on Maple Street"? A bunch of upper middle-class white people went bonkers, and wound up committing murder.

Hey folks, Rod Sterling taught us a couple decades ago that people (of any and all races, backgrounds, classes, etc.) are nuts. Weren't any of you paying attention back then? (And thank you yet again, Sensei Sterling.)

In NOLA, they just happened to be mostly black. When the San Andreas fault goes (any day now), you're going to see hundreds of thousands of mostly middle-class white (and, I suppose, a healthy percentage of Asian-American) wine-drinking liberals in Marin County and SF and Tanqueray-drinking Conservatives in Orange County behave pretty much the same way. YMMV, but not by much.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 5, 2005 1:47 PM | Report abuse

...can we get back to looking for Harriet's sex life, please?

Posted by: DesperateHouseWife | October 5, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

In totally unrelated news, I just read this (I took out some parts):

Scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918, the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.

The public health risk of resurrecting the virus is minimal, U.S. health officials said. People around the world developed immunity to the deadly 1918 virus after the pandemic, and a certain degree of immunity is believed to persist today.

About 10 vials of virus were created, each containing about 10 million infectious virus particles, Tumpey said in an interview with The Associated Press. More may be created, he said, to accommodate researchers' future needs.

The Spanish flu of 1918 was a terrible pandemic. In a few months, it killed more people than any other illness in recorded world history -- an estimated 20 million to 50 million worldwide, including roughly 550,000 in the United States.

JOEL: Tell me you're on this.

Posted by: Adam | October 5, 2005 1:58 PM | Report abuse

oh, and jw... *ahem* i wonder who it was the won the first game of the post season? was it, oh, i don't know... the YANKEES? who's chocking now smartie pants!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 2:03 PM | Report abuse

DARN! scc - choking!

i am scum...

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Ya see, mo, that's why they play ALL the games. Last time I checked, it's best of 5.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Every time I hear the name Harriet it conjures up the image of Mike Myer's comic spoofing of wacky coffee house beat poets in the movie, So, I Married an Ax Murderer. Oh my dogs, I just realized that Harriet and Mike both have the same sounding last name. I am afraid I must recuse myself from all further discussions of the real world Harriet Miers because of these unfortunate and prejudicial circumstances. Sorry.

Posted by: Moi Moi | October 5, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Rod Sterling was a genius, ahead of his time, and could see into the future! I see his themes used in so many movies. Sensei Sterling, indeed!

Posted by: jlessl | October 5, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse

true true jw - but who won the american league east? the yankees or the red sox? why, the yankees did! so had you the guts to honor our bet you would be wearing a yankees hat at the porching hour! *smirk*

am i being too snarky? can a yankee fan ever be TOO snarky?

and moi moi i think you are on to something there! consipiracy theory alert!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I added something to the kit. About George Will. Battery dying here at the Java House, and I guess I should go sit at my stupid desk.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Serling, it's Rod Serling.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 5, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

They won the division by a technicality. The Red Sox had the exact same record over 162 games. The tie-break system is flawed. The fact that the Yankees beat the Red Sox more times than the Red Sox beat the Yankees should not make a difference in a game where statistics trump all. It makes about as much sense as saying time spend it first place during the season should be the tie-break. In my mind, the Red Sox and the Yankees tied for the division, because that's what the records show.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Phew, mo, I am glad you see all the invisible intertwined threads and connnected dots too. I was starting to think that Oh I Am, Oh I Am, wasn't quite in Oh I Am's right mind. But, thank dogs, you see it too! Life imitating art, same sounding last names, a dying laptop battery at the Java House, it can't all just be a coincidence.

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 5, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, WP's Anne Applebaum is way ahead of us in analyzing the rumor-mongering. Mayor Panic gets a shellacking.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Yes, Serling. And I knew that, too.

I am scum, unworthy of the Sensei. I shall now ritually amputate my fat fingers.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 5, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

My bad too! I've always been unworthy. I'm skulking back to work now.

Posted by: jlessl | October 5, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due."

I read the Will column in an actual newspaper on my lunch break, and that paragraph was mangled as follows:

"Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential deference to which senatorial discretion is due."

This stopped me in my reading tracks, and I read it over and over, trying to make it make sense. I finally realized that it was just a matter of switching two of the multisyllabic words and then it would make sense. But here on Achenblog, maybe there is a copy editor who can explain HOW that can happen. Is someone re-typing Will's column to put it in the paper? This is not the kind of error that the writer would make. And it is correct in the Post online version.

Posted by: Abby | October 5, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

As far as Harriet's sex life goes, it's my understanding that she's been pretty quiet since Ozzie died.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

technicality smecticality! they WON! so *pthhhhhhhht*! (i love picking on jw!)

no such thing as a coinkidink moi moi - at least according to James Redfield...

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Oh I Am, Oh I Am just channel smurfed over to C-SPAN 3; Oh I Am, Oh I Am, had no idea that Ireland had a government. Amazing.

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 5, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

God, I love the Post! I don't know which story today is more (usually unintentionally) hilarious. Joel, they are putting you and Weingarten out of business. To wit:

"Marion Barry the Focus of Federal Tax Probe" (what a shocker)

"Skimpy Display, Ample Gripes
Some customers think the mannequins at new Tysons Corner Victoria's Secret are showing too much plastic in overly suggestive poses." (Wonderfully weird story.)

"Testaverde Named Jets' Starter"

"Clue to Miers's Priorities May Lie in Her Faith
Friends say she is personally opposed to abortion but would not let her views govern her legal decisions."

"New Rules for War on Terrorism "

"Bush Calls for Independent Fed Chairman"

I'm tellin' ya, I'm laughing so hard tears are rolling down my cheeks. This is better than The Onion. I gotta sit lay down for a while. It just gets better and better.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 5, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ozzie and Harriet! Ha! MTV meets Court TV. Whoever links this nomination to Sea Hunt gets the Moi Moi wacky blogger of the day award.

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 5, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse

jw - i just got around to reading about god smotting (sp?) NO with a fetus and i lol'd at the entry:

*Anne Rice has helped keep the Goth thing alive, providing the children of easily alarmed fundies a simple and effective way to shock the crap out of their parents for a couple of decades now.

c'mon, you thought of me when you read that didn't you... it's ok... you can admit it! *smiley emoticon*

i'll save the rest of my sox bashing for the porching hour... more fun irl!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse

As far as abortions go, it really won't matter if Roe v Wade is repealed. Women will do what they did before Roe v Wade became the law. Womens of means hired doctors to perform abortions quietly and without fanfare. Poor women went to quacks and untrained people that used whatever tool was handy, and usually bled to death. Prevention seems to be the best alternative here.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 5, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I actually had to e-mail George Will for writing an column I finally agreed with (except for the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold act).

The helicopter shooting story had made me think it could be some vietnam vets with PTSD... Stress + helicopters really tend to trigger that kind of flashback. I didn't think it could be more than 1-2 incidents, exaggerated.
Hooch 'n' shoot wasn't a possibility that had occurred to me. (I'm so naive).

When I heard about thousands riding out the storm in the Superdome, I said that's my idea of hell-- and I hadn't been thinking of roof leaking, no electricity, and overstaying due to intractable flooding, just that sports stadiums are NOT designed to be emergency shelters, period.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 5, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

All that extra panic wasn't just limited to NOLA. Here in the Red Stick (Baton Rouge) on the Thursday after Katrina the city nearly went on lockdown due to rumors of violence, car jackings, riots, killings outside of Wal-Mart and the downtown area evacuated and shut down. While the truth is still a bit hazy, there was no truth behind these rumors beyond the courts downtown closing shop for a few days until the LA government could get a better handle on the mess from Katrina. I do agree with Sara that the government officials down here are a little less than useless at times. It used to be that government officials in Louisiana were extremely corrupt but competent at their jobs. Now the corruption is less rampant (allegedly) but the officials are highly incompetent. I wonder if there's a bell curve somewhere illustrating this effect.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Mo, I think the word you want is "smiting".

Posted by: Bob S. | October 5, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe a pie chart.

Posted by: OIM | October 5, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I can make a mean cherry pie...

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I laughed at most of those same things myself this AM.

But not the Victoria's Secret @ Tyson's thing. That's dead serious.


Posted by: bc | October 5, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The g/f and I went to Tyson's on Sunday, and we've been waiting for this story. It was--surprising. Very suggestively sapphic. I can understand why parents with kids would be a little upset, because these mannequins were pretty naughty. Where do you get mannequins that are posed like that, anyway?

Needless to say, I told the g/f she would have to cash in the gift certificate she got for her birthday, and right quick!

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I think the hubbub over the VS storefront is hilarious, too. This is the way VS has marketed itself for years - why get all up-at-arms about it now? And if you don't want your kids to see it, don't take them there. And if they do inadvertently see something? One would hope that the "children" have been raised well enough that a 30-second glimpse at some suggestively posed PLASTIC MANNEQUINS is not going to ruin them. It's called parenting, folks.

Posted by: pls | October 5, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

No way. This was above and beyond anything I've ever seen at a VS before. It was all black with red neon and the mannequins and the lace and stockings and...phew.

Remember that movie Mannequin, with the mannequin that came to life at night? I ask only for information.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Methinks I'm going to have to check out VS at Tyson's this weekend.

Posted by: pls | October 5, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

...and I don't have kids, but I'm thinking that parents shouldn't have to answer questions like, "Why is that one girl climbing on top of that other girl? And why don't they have any clothes?" Plastic mannequin or not.

That's what cable's for.

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

the truth about the "mannequins" is that they were live poseurs and the WP reporter must have been on drugs to miss that. they move and do human things at some level of excitement.

Posted by: vulvix | October 5, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I happened to be visiting my conservative family the weekend Katrina hit and as soon as my brother started going on about the helicopters being shot at, my BS meter went right off. He has that effect on me, no matter what the topic. These are people who get their "news" from Rush Limbaugh and who think that stocking up on weapons, gold bullion (?!) and sheet metal is a rational way to prepare for disaster in a post-9/11 world.

Me, I've got a canned ham* and a whole lot of wine, so if you're stopping in Arlington when evacuating DC, bring food and I'll let you hang out at my house.

*It's at least 13 years old. Might sustain me, might kill me!

Posted by: Pixel | October 5, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

pls--I'm no prude, and it was startling. Well worth the trip to get out there before it's changed.

"Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window." --A Christmas Story

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 3:50 PM | Report abuse


"That's what cable's for." Hah!

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 3:59 PM | Report abuse

quick, call Tom fann. she will positively love the VS display

Posted by: creamer | October 5, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, bc, it is and it isn't serious. I thought there were a couple of absurdities, starting with the fact that it is quite common and usual to see completely nude mannequins in stores all the time--bins of them waiting to be assembled, assembled in windows waiting for the dressers to come dress them, etc., just like it is common to see nude statues of Greeks and nymphys and satyrs, and nobody (except perhaps our former attorney general) batting an eye. It's only when you put stuff on the nude mannequins do they become "obscene" (if that's one's view of it). When they are starkers, they're fine.

Then of course the whole absurdity about what VS is selling--as though all those shoppers had no IDEA what VS was all about and are suddenly shocked to discover there's gambling goin on in the back room of Rick's casino.

And to me the final absurdity of a mannequin showing "too much plastic." And of course it isn't the mannequin that's the "problem," it's the clothes. And nobody's talking about the clothes--it's like they don't exist.

And I loved the line about the woman who was going to disallow her child from going to the mall. I wish! Good luck, there, mom.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 5, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"There's no sush thing as bad press"

That is all.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and speaking of BS detectors, I'm starting to question the outraged woman who complained about the "Little Shop of Whores!" In my experience, people likely to be offended like that don't have much of a sense of humor--yet that's a pretty sophisticated pun, in my book.

I'm just saying...hmmm.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 5, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

maybe vs will offer a discount to anyone who can prove they contribute to this blog.

do we think that Miers would like to shop there?

Posted by: girlieman | October 5, 2005 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I meant SUCH! Good grief.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 4:24 PM | Report abuse

thought you wuz trying to say: sushi, but the context was somewhat confusing

Posted by: gargantua | October 5, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I meant: confucian

Posted by: gargantua | October 5, 2005 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I haven't had any time for the boodle today, so someone may have already noted Dan Froomkin's slight of the Achenblog. His column is a list of things for his faithful readers to do while he is away, which includes links to various articles AND blogs. The Achenblog is not mentioned.

I would like to think that the disclusion is a sign of Dan's worry that he will lose his readers to the Kaboodle. But before tearing up the 8x10 of him that sits upon my desk, I just want to make sure that JA hasn't been stealing his lunch out of the fridge.

Posted by: TA | October 5, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

should he care?

Posted by: golconda | October 5, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Let me check it out. Maybe I can temporarily change the name of my blog to White House Briefing. Whatever it takes. It's a war. We're all desperate. Alternatively, I could think of something interesting or amusing to say, and EARN some readership, but that sounds exhausting.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse


Looks like it's too late to Free Katie:

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse


In fairness to Froomkin, the blogs he lists are political or media blogs. (I'll attribute his inclusion of Wonkette to lust.) This little corner of the blogosphere is more of a general purpose blog.

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

ayieeeeeee!! Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expecting a baby.

Now we must be exposed to even more Tomkat discussions. I guess a) he's not gay and b) they weren't faking the relationship c) his relationship with Rob Thomas is over (kidding!).

My head hurts.

Posted by: AJ | October 5, 2005 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I guess I know when I've been dissed! In the very first post of the blog today I advised reading the Will column at 9:46am. About five hours later JA inserts a reference to Will in the Kit LIKE MAYBE HE HAD NOT EVEN READ MY POST. Or perhaps he read it and immediately forgot it because he has the attention span of Paris Hilton's chihuahua. Most likely he blogged and went back to sleep under the desk. More coffee early in the day, Achenboy!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Houston 3, Atlanta 1, after 3 innings.

Posted by: Bayou Self | October 5, 2005 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I know that JA brazenly steals ideas from us Boodlers. That's what we are, an idea farm. The Boss can show up at any time and pick the juiciest (sometimes just ripe) notions, observations, and clever thoughts and claim them as his own. Hey, it's his blog. He calls the tune. We dance. Now, get back to work. The Boss is watching.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey, if we're going to harp on Joel for his typos, why not as him to fix that "importantly" in the second paragraph.

Posted by: TBG | October 5, 2005 5:16 PM | Report abuse

oi vey! a tomkat baby! so taking anti-depression meds for post partum is against his religion but having a child out of wedlock isn't???? let's see what he says about post partum if katie gets it!

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 5:19 PM | Report abuse

this master-slave view of the blog by some of its regulars (see Cowtown post above) is really a downer. it could make me puke. why demean yourselves over and over? stand up, you're Americans. you're free.

Posted by: gargantua | October 5, 2005 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Tom & Kate are having a baby. I will now attempt to see if I can care any less. Here goes.

Ummm. Ahhh. Gehh. Umph! Umph! Aagh!

Can't do it. Sorry.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 5:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "...why not ASK him..."

Posted by: TBG | October 5, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Another typo? Man. Maybe I should also go back into that thing and give kurosawaguy a nod. Or just retract everything. Spike it all. FYI, I just talked for a long time with Hal the Schemer, who thinks I should be funnier and just better all around. Implicit was the threat that he will take away the blog and make it his own. So I'm under pressure. It's gametime.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 5, 2005 5:30 PM | Report abuse

cowtown - clearly you aren't tryin hard enuff! come on! these are celebs! every aspect of their lifes live under the microscope of those of us that actual work for a living!

actually, the only reason why i care is cuz tom is such a putz that he doesn't deserve her! not that i know her or anything...

ah, ok... i'll stop now... i gotta worry about the yankees! a bunch of millionaire ball players that don't even know i exist! *sigh*... i am scum...

Posted by: mo | October 5, 2005 5:31 PM | Report abuse


Oh, don't misunderstand. We're Achendisciples. We know the rules. We create ideas with the hope that the Boss will borrow them. If we're lucky, he'll mention our name in The Kit (which is similar to receiving a blessing from the Pope).

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Boss, Hal the Schemer will get no truck from the Boodlers. We don't take well to ursurpers, interlopers, or pretenders to the throne. Though, we might follow jw if you, like, moved to Denmark or something.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 5:40 PM | Report abuse


Poor Katie...where's a good deprogrammer when you need him?

Posted by: jw | October 5, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Spawn of Cruise. Oh I hope they name it something freakishly weird like most celebs. That is really my only interest in this. And seeing if the irony card will come into play if in 20 years the child winds up in need of some sort of mind altering drug to battle something akin to an Oedipus complex. I should quit writing in sentence fragments.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 5:52 PM | Report abuse

They should name the kid Hubbard. Wait, I forgot. I don't care.

Posted by: CowTown | October 5, 2005 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Has the boodle died? I suppose I *could* post another panda link...

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

No, please, no pandas! Actually I was just ruminating on what would be the new Cruise kid's name: perhaps (with a nod to CowTown) Hubbard Nya-Nya-Nicole My-Dad-is Straight Cruise.

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | October 5, 2005 6:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC: My-Dad-Is-Straight

Posted by: Sn.Sq. | October 5, 2005 6:31 PM | Report abuse

A new species of human named today! You thought it was only homo sapien sapien, but now add to the list homo sapien WhiteHousestaffiensis! Call Chuck Darwin!
(Headline?: Bush Lassoed by Staff)

Also, it looks like a weak president captured by his staff. Maybe this is too cynical, but I fear, utterly lovely in every conceivable respect though she may be, Ms. Miers may have sensed that when W was at his most embattled was the perfect time to cash in her big chip with the guy. And with threats from the Dems on one side, and your staff using that to help themselves on the other, what are you supposed to do? And don't imagine there was a soul in the WH saying, uh, maybe we should pick someone who is, like, really qualified? I don't know if there is a species in which the babies eat the parents, some spiders maybe, but if so, they should be called creepycrawly Whitehousestaffiensis. This has that look to me. It also looks very much like a deal with the Senate Democrats, a pick off their list of acceptable candidates, which makes one wonder why Bush and Rove thought that was necessary, unless they think things are going really badly, which maybe they are. Miers and Rove probably get along famously. How very nice for them.

Posted by: Linda Loomis | October 5, 2005 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Re: Tomkat offspring. It all depends on whose name they use. If hers, then it's Sherlock for a boy and Better if a girl, Broken would be the unisex second choice. If they go with his name, then the boy will be Control (or maybe spelled with a K for that continental touch), and a girl will be Sea, Princess, or Carnival.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for them, Nic Cage has already taken the strangest baby name for his new tot.

Kal-el Coppola Cage, I kid you not!

Posted by: TulsaFan | October 5, 2005 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I don't know of any spiders that eat their parents, but many of the females eat the males. Lots of spiders only live one season, and the males of those species usually are much smaller than the females and exist only for reproduction. They have no mouth and no digestive system. They search for a mate, do the dirty, and are eaten (it's their contribution to the family welfare) or move on to search for the next female.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 5, 2005 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Coppola?? Is Cage trying to suck up to get (a) more movie roles, or (b) discounts on wine from the vineyards?

Posted by: Snarky Squirrel | October 5, 2005 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Then there's poor, poor Pilot Inspektor, which I still think is awful. kurosawaguy, I think you should submit your list of names to the tomkat baby fan site.

I meant that in jest but the realized there probably is already a tomkat baby fan website out there and I've suddenly become extremely depressed. Guess it's time for the drugs.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 7:09 PM | Report abuse

That is a very interesting blog you linked to Achenblog. I had not considered that point of view before. Lots to think about with this Miers nomination...
Speaking of young eating their parents I know there is some animal that does that. I *think* it is octopi (disclaimer here: I could be way off). I think the mother octopus starves to death guarding her egg clutch and when the baby octopi hatch they feed on their mother's remains. It could be another sea creature but I think its octopi.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 5, 2005 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Nic Cage is a Copolla, really truly. Though he might be an ok actor, generally I think the talent skipped his generation.

Posted by: dr | October 5, 2005 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I just read the entire George Will column. Wow, is George steamed. Can you imagine if every true conservative takes a good look back over the past five years with unveiled eyes? Better lock up all the OxyCotin and issue a red state emergency warning for a highly probable epidemic of severe migraines.

Did somebody say canned ham and wine? Mmmmmm. I feel another evacuation drill coming on.

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 5, 2005 7:23 PM | Report abuse

dr is right. Cage's real last name is Coppola. His uncle is Francis Ford Coppola. He chose the name Cage when he started out acting to make his own reputation.

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Correct about Cage being a Coppola...

I thought Mr. Mapother had "motility/shooting blanks" issues...guess we all got fooled...
But after waiting for a biological child of his own for so long, you just have to say "Congrats!"

Glad you found the link to UCLA law professor Volokh's blog interesting. I first mentioned that blog and the American Constitution Society blog yesterday. There is a link in the Balkin blog ( to a computer graphic sequence of Bush as a rag doll, supplied by Brian Tamanaha. Cute/dumb? You decide...

Thanks, pgm and kurosawaguy, for the info about critters that feed on immediate family/mates. Can't help but think of the old Debra Winger movie, "Black Widow."

Posted by: Loomis | October 5, 2005 7:55 PM | Report abuse


I had never heard that about octopuses. I checked Wikipedia and found the following that suggests that reproduction is fatal (like salmon) but that the spawn do not feed on the mother:

--From Wikipedia

When octopuses reproduce, they use a specialized arm called a hectocotylus to insert spermatophores (packets of sperm) into the female's mantle cavity. The hectocotylus is usually the third right arm. In some species, the female octopus can keep the sperm alive inside her for weeks until her eggs are mature. After they have been fertilized, the female lays roughly 200,000 eggs (this figure dramatically varies between species). The female hangs these eggs in strings from the ceiling of her lair. After the eggs hatch, the young larval octopuses must spend a period of time drifting in clouds of plankton, where they feed on copepods, larval crabs and larval seastars until they are ready to sink down to the bottom of the ocean, where the cycle repeats itself (in some deeper dwelling species, the young don't go through this period). This is a dangerous time for the larval octopuses, however, as they become part of the plankton cloud and are therefore preyed upon by the many other plankton eaters.

Octopuses have a relatively short life span, and some species live for as little as six months. Larger species, such as the North Pacific Giant Octopus, may live for up to five years if they do not reproduce. However, reproduction is a cause of death: males can only live for a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch, for they spend nearly all their time caring for their eggs during the roughly one month period it takes the eggs to hatch, and do not eat during this period.

--End Wikipedia

I recall reading a Stephen Jay Gould column about offspring feeding on the mother, but I believe that was in the insect world.

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Australian spider, Diaea ergandros, according to this article:

To quote a kaboodle phrase, "EEUUWWW!"

Posted by: Abby | October 5, 2005 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Bones. Nothing but bleached and scattered bones. Anyway, I think it is interesting that Joel has highlighted two related but distinct phenomena that occur with alarming frequency in the press. The Miers case is what happens when you have too little information and the press is forced to riff on it. The conventional wisdom that emerges, I assert, is as unpredictable as a pachinko machine in an earthquake. The New Orleans case is what happens when you have too much information and the press is forced to filter the many rumors by selecting the ones that either subconsciously or consciously validate their own biases. This process is an innate part of being human. Without it we would all suffer from cognitive brain freeze. Of course even the filtered news we get from the press may be too much for some. This is where pundits named Rush and Michael come in to explain it all for us. Which is a shame. Unless the pundit is named Joel. Then it's cool.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 5, 2005 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Aaahh, but, RD, we wouldn't have it any other way! This ain't my callow youth, when a couple of newspapers, a few radio and TV stations, and a newsweekly magazine or two were the only outlets for news. There's so much space to be filled, and we consumers scream holy heck if they aren't full of SOMETHING about the events du jour. To heck with reliable info & sober reflection!

Posted by: Bob S. | October 5, 2005 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Everyboy at our loading dock was talked into betting on Judge Chertoff. Now I find that wagering of any kind is barred in this state. What kind of country is this? Can Miss Miers help us?

Posted by: Efraín González Sánchez | October 5, 2005 9:01 PM | Report abuse


Yeah, it was something like that. But I recall it being even more grotesque and also simpler. I think the offspring actually ate through the mother in order to be born. The insect world is really, really weird.

Thanks for that link, though. I hadn't read that before. And it is very definitely "EEEUUUWWWW!"

Posted by: pj | October 5, 2005 9:05 PM | Report abuse

TulsaFan, you do know the Kal-el reference, don't you?

Next question, since Nick already changed his legal last name to Cage, might he change his first name to Jor-el? Or simply Marlon?

Bizzarro world, yes indeedy.


Posted by: bc | October 5, 2005 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I am one of those people Joel mentioned who do not post until they are ready to burst - but - do you all thank your lucky stars or whatever gods there are, every day,-- for the Internet? I was reading the Australian spider link and thinking how long it would have taken, 50 years ago, to get to the library, park, walk inside, find the article (probably would have had to get help from the librarian,) copy salient points in long hand, (no Xerox,) and drag your sorry self home. Then you would, if you wished to tell others about the spider, have to type up your information on a manual typewriter using carbon paper and multiple sheets of paper, which meant NO MISTAKES, and then type each individual envelope and find the stamps and mail the envelopes. In two or three days, others would get your information.

The good thing was that the stamps cost just 3 cents each.

Posted by: ach | October 5, 2005 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmmm, licking envelopes and three cent stamps sounds yummy. I tried licking my laptop's LCD, keyboard and touchpad but it didn't taste very yummy. My laptop tastes kind of like a plastic free range chicken. I think I will write my Representative and complain. I

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 5, 2005 10:56 PM | Report abuse

After reading about Chief Justice Roberts' comments re Oregon's doctor assisted suicide law I'm convinced he will vote to overturn it.

From what I've seen of Bush in the five years he's been in office it's clear to me that he puts loyalty to him and his so-called "philosophy" first and foremost.

What better way for a good, loyal judge to repay his loyalty than to spit in the face of states' rights and side with His Highness, G. W. Bush. What an easy job it must be to be a Bush-appointed judge!

The mostly Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court partisan, activist justices have the easiest jobs in the world. Joining Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia in rubber stamping whatever G. W. Bush and the Republican-controled U.S. Congress demand, Chief Justice John Roberts is playing out his charade before he issues his stinging rebuke in striking down Oregon's doctor assisted Death With Dignity law. It will be a sharp reminder to all other states who dare to question or defy the power of Bush's executive edicts.

As we know, LOYALTY to Bush is all that matters, not the law or the U.S. Constitution. The Republican lackeys ensconced on the court for life have consistently made up the law on the fly, legislating law from the bench by opposing States' rights and individual freedoms at every opportunity.

Now, we hear Roberts, feigning serious questioning during the doctor assisted suicide law, pretending to ask intelligent questions while he, just like those who selected Bush as president via their 5-4 judicial fiat in December 2000, already had his mind made up--most likely well before he was confirmed.

If Bush is against it, Roberts, Thomas and Scalia and probably Kennedy, are against it. All slam dunk votes for Bush.

Soon, Harriet Miers, the fawning, obedient Bush lapdog nonpareil, will join the Bush Star Chamber court in their quest to achieve what the Communist Party could not -- the total overthrow of our United States Constitution and the evisceration of individual liberties and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights.

This decision will not only uphold the supremacy of federal power over the states, but it will further the stranglehold and supremacy of Bush's authority over all American citizens.

As Bush told one reporter who had the audacity to ask Bush whether our country would be going to war with Iraq in March 2003, Bush answered "I'm the one who gets to make the call, not you."

Being a rubber stamp judge on the Star Chamber court of the totalitarian G. W. Bush dictatorship is the easiest job in the world.

When Alexander de Tocqueville warned against the tyranny of the majority his prescient words sadly have become true in a once-free and democratic America.

Well, gosh, maybe sometime I'll say what I really think.

Posted by: Richard | October 5, 2005 11:13 PM | Report abuse

PS, I watched Commander-In-Chief, episode 2 last night. Both my wife and I thought it was a real yawner. What will that evil Templeton do next and will I keep coming back for more? Erp!

Posted by: Richard | October 5, 2005 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Richard, Richard, Richard... I wholeheartedly believe that the Prez is a rather non-intellectual (NOT to be confused with stupid! Too many smart people whose opinion I respect have said in print & A/V media that they've spent time with the man, and he ain't dumb) guy with what appears to be a somewhat simplistic view of the world and a disturbing lack of any apparent tendency toward introspection, but...

It probably isn't as awful as you think. With the exception of a few technicians (Gingrich, Rove & DeLay come to mind, I reckon there are a few more) who seem to care only about the nuts & bolts of acquiring & maintaining power at the expense of giving a hoot about what government actually accomplishes... [Bob takes a pause to inhale for the rest of this looong, parenthetically interrupted sentence]... most of the folks in elective offices really DO want to do well for the country as a whole, and aren't quite the terrifying jihadists that pundits and activists at the extremes wish to paint them to be.

To imagine that Supreme Court justices maintain much personal loyalty to the president who appointed them for very long at all is just unsupportable, as best I can tell. If a majority of the recent appointees have sided with the current administration's preferred position on a majority of cases (something I'll concede sounds likely, though I haven't done the research), I'd submit that it's got little to do with personal loyalty to the POTUS.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 6, 2005 12:55 AM | Report abuse

I missed CIC again.

It is fascinating to me how the right wingers are so disappointed in Miers. Her appointment reminds me of HW's appointment of Thomas. Difficult for the Dems to oppose because of gender/race. No record to speak of. Certainly not intellectual hot shots (at least, not on the level of Roberts). Seems like the Supremes are all capable of bone-headed decisions from time to time, though.

Poor Sandra Day O'Connor. I hope she gets to go home soon.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 6, 2005 1:15 AM | Report abuse

I like the Rally Monkey (sorry, mo).

Posted by: Caged Rabbit | October 6, 2005 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Heck, since I have the forum to myself, and it's probable that almost nobody will read this anyway, I'll throw out a few more thoughts:

Not that it's particularly relevant, but I personally am in favor of access to physician-assisted suicide. The circumstances in which a person would want to make use of that option are (by definition, I guess) unendurable, and I'm definitely inclined to leave the individual decisions to people close to the situation.

That said, let's not pretend that interfering with this is a simple case of "Big Brother" poking his nose where it doesn't belong. This specific issue has been a problem in philosophy /ethics /medicine /law as long as these disciplines have existed. One doesn't have to be a rigid prescriptionist to be uncomfortable with the concept of knowing that, once that option is legally available, many disturbing situations will arise. Was the patient competently treated for depression?

Abortion presents many of the same problems, and it's just weird to pretend that this is an area where only an individual female and her doctor need be concerned. (Once again, it's not relevant to the societal issues at hand, but I personally am in favor of essentially unlimited access to abortion.) I know that there is a sizeable number of people who consider all abortions (and all mechanically-aided birth control, for that matter) to be murder, but these are not, in fact, the folks who are making public policy, despite some hysterical statements from the sorts of people who regularly make hysterical statements. What DOES tend to be an issue for a lot of people, and causes them to wish for some sort of regulation, is the relatively small number of cases at the extremes. Should a thirteen (or whatever age) year-old girl be able to undergo the procedure without her parents ever knowing? Does a biological foetus-father have absolutely no right to be aware that there was a potential child?

Anyway, I'm sure that you get my point. The subjects, especially in the more extreme cases, cause people real discomfort, and, "Government should just back off!" doesn't begin to address the issues.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 6, 2005 1:56 AM | Report abuse

...this white house has been moving the
federal courts towards the conservative
side of viewpoint since 2001...much law
is settled in these lower courts.........
i would have liked to see bush nominate
someone with judicial pedigree,a record of
decisions made,with intellect and sense of
direction that could be defended..........]
...instead we get a mid range nominee who
may have upright moral character and legal
background but provides no bench record or
body of opinion on decisions made..........
...but as seems to be so often the case in
this white house its all about expediency
and taking the easier way.................
..the war on iraq was easy to get into and
played out well for those who feel america
always needs to spend more and more on the
military....afterall the idea of a peace
dividend of the early 1990's was not what
these people wanted to hear.....this war
on terrorism is so undefined....and really
is comparable to saying we are at war on
blitzkrieg or needs to be
viewed as being a war of ideas and thinking
how to unwind a religous based misreading
of a great world religion and followup on
the underlying political aftermath of too
much western meddling and native middle
eastern corruption or political failure...
genuine presentation of alternative views
and strenght of patience will be needed...
......the bush2 whitehouse has chosen to go
the route of trying to kill enough people
to collapse the forces it is fighting.....
....but as with the palestinian/israeli
conflict you can never kill enough at one
time to stop how people think or feel......
....tonight the president will once again
attempt to convince america that he has
chosen the right way and we need to follow
him.....sadly where he is going with what
is surely a growing instability problem in
iraq may lead nowhere other than round and
round for all americans......when have you
killed enough people to change minds or
feelings?..100 more?1000?10,000? how many?

Posted by: an american in siam.... | October 6, 2005 3:03 AM | Report abuse

Although I often enough have little to say, and I always try to say it in as little space as possible, nevertheless I have to pass on a bit of Molly Ivins this morning-

I have said for years about people in public life, "I don't write about sex, drugs or rock 'n' roll." If I had my druthers, I wouldn't write about the religion of those in public life, either, as I consider it a most private matter. Separation of church and state is in the Constitution because this country was founded by people who had experienced both religious persecution and state-supported religions. I think John F. Kennedy's 1960 statement to the Baptist ministers should stand as a model of how public servants should handle the relation between religious belief and public service.

Nevertheless, we are now beset by people who insist on dragging religion into governance -- and who themselves believe they are beset by people determined to "drive God from the public square."

This division has been in part created by and certainly aggravated by those seeking political advantage. It is a recipe for an incredibly damaging and serious split in this country, and I believe we all need to think long and carefully before doing anything to make it worse.

As an 1803 quote attributed to James Madison goes: "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 6, 2005 9:12 AM | Report abuse

reading tea leaves now
finding truth in a whirlwind
nomination doomed

Posted by: omnigood | October 6, 2005 9:22 AM | Report abuse

writing haiku is easy when Joel supplies the first two lines.

Posted by: omnigood | October 6, 2005 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Thanks JA.

Posted by: omnigood | October 6, 2005 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Richard pretty much said it all, and with very impressive skill and style, I must say. All I have left to contribute at this point is:
Oim Oim was here!

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 6, 2005 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I just remembered one more thing I need to add. There are a few hundred million Americans out there somewhere but there were only about 165 posts on this blog over the past 24 hours, so some of you people are not pulling your share of the load. I expect more from you people than I am getting so far. Don't let me down. Post one for the Quipper! Now go on, get out of here.

Posted by: Oim Oim | October 6, 2005 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Yuk, yuk! Moi Moi, I've added more in this string than all others previously combined! I'm definitely going to leave it to the others for a while.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 6, 2005 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I contributed! I should get a button or a sticker that says it like when I "vote." I apologize for my nasty habit of sleeping.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | October 6, 2005 10:23 AM | Report abuse

hey, caged rabbit - what's a Rally Monkey?

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Re the George Will comments: When you wrote that no one is "gutsier," was that not a typo?

I'm assuming you meant to say "gustier."

Posted by: David Rubien | October 6, 2005 11:15 AM | Report abuse

DUH! yeah, i like the rally monkey too... he's kinda cute... i'm ambivilent about the angles tho... yeah *sigh* the bombers lost last nite... they dun me wrong!

Posted by: mo | October 6, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Bob S. you wrote "To imagine that Supreme Court justices maintain much personal loyalty to the president who appointed them for very long at all is just unsupportable, as best I can tell."

I can appreciate that sentiment and your wisdom but for the fact that your faith in the system, and especially of the highest court in the land, have become anachronisms in the Year of Our Emperor, G. W. Bush.

G. W. Bush has changed the "philosophy" of the court for at least the next twenty years and possibly beyond. That philosophy, from what I've seen over nearly five years has been grounded in the exploitation of God, religion, the American flag, homophobic gay-bashing, patriotism, and the 9/11 tragedy, all which have been propagandized to Bush's advantage.

In order to sew up the solid Bible Belt South, all Bush has to do is invoke his favorite philosopher, Jesus, and then watch the fanatic Right Wing religionists who make up a solid 20% of his core voter base flock to his side.

Any Democrat, and I mean ANY Democrat, thinking about running for president in 2008 should be prepared to cede 180 to 200 electoral vote handicap to ANY Republican opponent in the Bible Belt South.

If the "moral values" presentation was exploited so well in the presidential race there is no reason to expect that in the final analysis Republicans won't rally to Bush's religious litmus test during the Harriet Miers Senate confirmation hearings. The Jesus invocation will determine the fate of Harriet Miers.

There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that given the same Republican-controlled U.S. Congress a Democrat in the White House would have been impeached and out of office years ago, quite probably in jail, for committing the high crimes and misdemeanors that the Bush administration has wreaked upon our country and the world.

The breadth of the rampant corruption in the Bush administration and his gutless, tolerance-for-none Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is absolutely breathtaking!

Your abiding faith in the judicial system is a distinguishing quality to be admired, but one which applied to a kinder, more ecumenical world. But this is now, a world that has become identified with a dogmatic, atavistic head of state whose power over our government and consequences for the citizens of America will be felt for generations.

Here is an excerpt of a review written by Hieromonk Seraphim on Alexander Solzhenitsyn's classic book, Gulag Archipelago, which is worth pondering:

"No civilized man in the West can afford not to read at least part of this great work on life in the 20th century. It has already achieved, in fact, a certain fame in the free world. But how many can dare to look for long at the stark and bitter reality it describes? The free and easy life of the West is more conducive to sleep than to awareness... until the time comes when we too must face something like Gulag. Solzhenitsyn has told us in advance."

Posted by: Richard | October 6, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Sounds about right to me! Mr. Bush does what he wants (i.e. invades a nation against without justification--like Hitler in '38)... We listened to his argument on suspected weapons of mass destruction and found NONE! Big news hawks like National Geographic wrote on the situation and, to me, it hurt the varacity of therir reporting--going to political sources is not good enough for such a major source as "reference material". I always face stories from the media with skepticism! Polls and surveys of Bush's popularity did not come from the working class people, that's for sure!

Posted by: auster | October 10, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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