Friday, September 30, 2005

Why Cindy Sheehan needs to shut up (or at least get on point)

It was when she was speaking at the Operation Ceasefire event last weekend not about how her son died for a war that was based on lies but rather about how the Iraqi constitution needed to protect the rights of women that I began to think we might be losing some oomph here.

And then when the speaker from Alliance to End the Israeli Occupation spoke, I seriously thought we had gone off the tracks.

And today I found myself actually agreeing with a column by Charles Krauthammer, who normally I find to be a pompous asshole.

Bad Choice for an Antiwar Voice

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, September 30, 2005; Page A19

A large number of Americans feel deep and understandable unease about the war in Iraq and want nothing more than to pull out. But the antiwar movement is singularly disserved by its leadership, such as it is. Its de facto leader is Cindy Sheehan...

[...]

The antiwar movement has found itself ill served by endowing absolute moral authority on a political radical who demanded that American troops leave not just Iraq but "occupied New Orleans." Who blames Israel for her son's death. Who complained that the news media went "100 percent rita" -- "a little wind and a little rain" -- rather than covering other things in the world, meaning her.

Most tellingly, Sheehan demands withdrawal not just from Iraq but also from Afghanistan, a war that is not only just by every possible measure but also remarkably successful.


Okay, it's absurd to call the Afghanistan War "remarkably successful" but it was at least a worthwhile war, one that most of the reasonable left supported, and one that probably demands more resources to finish the job, not pullout.

You don't build a mass movement on that. Nor on antiwar rallies like the one last weekend in Washington, organized and run by a front group for the Workers World Party. The WWP is descended from Cold War Stalinists who found other communists insufficiently rigorous for refusing to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Thus a rally ostensibly against war is run by a group that supported the Soviet invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, the massacre in Tiananmen Square, and a litany of the very worst mass murderers of our time, including Slobodan Milosevic, Hussein and Kim Jong Il. You don't seize the moral high ground in America with fellow travelers such as these.

Can we get the fuck rid of ANSWER too while we're at it? Though I tend to agree with most of their stuff, they're a terrible figurehead for the anti-war movement, considering 99% of the anti-war public probably has major disagreements with ANSWER's positions on non-Iraq issues.

34,750

According to Eugene Robinson's column today, that's how many registered lobbyists there are in DC. That number has doubled since 2000. As he puts it, "That's a lot of mouths at the trough."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bill "the Gambler" Bennett tips on improving race relations

It is always good see that members in the republican camp are really reaching out to the African-American community with comments like these. I guess the total shunning of blacks during the shoddy relief effort during Katrina wasn't enough. If you would like to respond to Mr. Bennett's comments feel free to contact the "Christian-formatted" Salem ( I assume named after the witch trials) Radio Network at 972 831 1920 or 972 402 8800. Charles Mefferd is the operations manager there.

From the September 28 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill "the gambler" Bennett's Morning in America:

CALLER: I noticed the national media, you know, they talk a lot about the loss of revenue, or the inability of the government to fund Social Security, and I was curious, and I've read articles in recent months here, that the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade, the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years, could fund Social Security as we know it today. And the media just doesn't -- never touches this at all.

BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?

CALLER: Assuming that they are. Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

BENNETT: Maybe, maybe, but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think as -- abortion disproportionately occur among single women? No.

CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --

CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

if you're gonna beat Tom DeLay you gotta be able to throw a punch

but I guess Lampson's campaign is content to issue meandering statements and wait for DeLay to go down on his own.

Statement from Lampson Campaign Manager on DeLay Indictment
09/28/2005

Houston, TX -- The Nick Lampson for Congress campaign released the following statement today regarding the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise stated: "This is not simply a political matter. A grand jury of his fellow Texans indicted Tom DeLay on this very serious charge. The trial of Tom DeLay will show what the former Majority Leader has been doing instead of working for his district back home. Whether he is convicted or not, it will become clear to the voters of this district that he has not been working for them."

Malaise continued: "Nick Lampson will continue campaigning as he has been doing. He will introduce himself to the voters of Southeast Texas and try to earn their vote. Congressman Lampson thinks it is not enough to be the anti-DeLay. He is working hard to show the voters of this district that he has a positive agenda with a record to be proud of and he is a positive alternative to Congressman DeLay."


It seems you should either go one of two ways: 1) Pop him: "This confirms what we've known all along: Hot Tub Tom, Jack Abramoff and their lobbyist cronies are a bunch of crooks. He should step down so we can have a campaign on the issues without his criminal distractions," or 2) Be snide: "Despite his history of ethical violations and clear flouting of the law, Tom DeLay deserves a chance to try to clear his name before a jury of his peers like anyone else indicted for a felony crime."

That's off the cuff, but come one, this is the biggest race in the country. Can't the Dems do better?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Leader of the Gays... uh, er, I mean majority leader

Well it isn't even the end of the day yet and my how the political pendulum swings. How interesting that you replace one INDICTED majority leader with a GAY republican , "not that there is anything wrong with that". Well maybe the republican part. I know "gay republican" has to be an oxymoron.

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice

CNN:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas grand jury, according to Travis County clerk's office.

Blast From the Past: Part II

While doing research for another topic, I came across this choice quote from then Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. He is explaining the rationale for the US Navy to stop wargames on the island of Viequez and move them somewhere else.

From the San Antonio Express-News on June 28, 2001:

"It's not in our interests to remain in a place we are not wanted," Wolfowitz said, adding that efforts by the Navy to stay at Vieques would prompt more "protests and unrest."

More hurricane profiteering

Disgusting (but maybe not too late for you to get on the gravy train).

Lobbies Line Up For Relief Riches
Groups Portray Projects as Storm Aid

Washington Post
September 28, 2005

With Congress dangling as much as $200 billion in hurricane-related aid, lobbyists for oil companies, airlines, manufacturers and others are clamoring to get their share.

[...]

The troubled airline industry has been particularly active on the hurricane front. Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. are trying to include relief from their pension obligations in hurricane legislation this year. The firms have been pressing for the change since the spring, before the hurricane season, but are telling lawmakers that the fuel price hikes in the wake of Katrina have made the aid more necessary.

[...]

Insurers have been using Katrina as an argument for approving their long-held top priority, an extension of the Terrorism Reinsurance Act (TRIA), which provides for the government to pay a portion of the damage caused by a foreign terrorist attack over certain thresholds. To illustrate the tie between the hurricane and the legislative effort, Carl M. Parks, senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, has coined the term "KA-TRIA."

[...]

A lot of lobbyists' pleas dressed in hurricane clothing are for things that Congress has rejected for years. John M. Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, has called for the opening of oil and gas drilling on the ocean's Outer Continental Shelf as a way to increase the availability of energy. Why now? Because Katrina is a reminder of how fragile the country's energy infrastructure is, he said.


You too can invent your own hurricane excuse. Just fill in the blanks. "Hurricane Katrina is an example of _______________, so we must _______________."

Hurricane Katrina is an example of how fragile life is, so we must live every moment to the fullest by legalizing drugs and prostitution. Or maybe Hurricane Katrina is an example of the wrath of an angry God, so we must appease Him with federally-subsidized Old Testament-style lamb sacrifices. Or, Hurricane Katrina is an example of how people without cars can't evacuate natural disasters, so we must lower safety standards to reduce auto prices, and give new tax subsidies to Detroit. Hurricane Katrina is an example of how fragile the country's voodoo economy is, so we need special tax breaks for voodoo practioners. Eye of newt half off!

DeLay Going Down?

Let's hope so:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's leadership post is on the line today as a Travis County grand jury is expected to consider indicting DeLay on conspiracy charges, several lawyers familiar with the investigation said.

The charges would stem from DeLay's role in using corporate money in the 2002 elections. State law generally bans corporate money from campaign activities.

"I wouldn't have expected this a year ago," one Austin criminal defense lawyer said. "It's quite a turnaround if it happens."

Those same lawyers, though, expect the grand jury to take no action against Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond or state Reps. Dianne Delisi and Beverly Woolley for their roles in the election.

The lawyers requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the grand jury's discussions.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and jurors took no action Tuesday. Even as DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land, continued to insist that he did nothing wrong, his defense team has been bracing for the worst.

An indictment would not force DeLay to resign as a member of Congress, but the GOP's rules would demand that he resign his post as majority leader.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ouch

'Graph of the day:
"People are a lot more likely to read about a food fight than his position on taxes," said Jason Stanford, Bell's press guy. "This could go down on my record as one of the dumbest things to do in politics, but it should make for a good column." Yeah, if you don't mind being painted as a stooge.
The entire Kelso article is worth a read.

Red carpet for the pigs at the trough

It's not bad enough that they gave a no-bid contract to Halliburton for Katrina rebuilding, it's not bad enough that they're using Katrina (and now Rita) as an excuse to give immunity from lawsuits to construction companies, nursing homes, airlines, and hospitals, it's not bad enough that they had the gall to hire Mike Brown back as a private consultant (to tell FEMA how it screwed up no less!), it's not bad enough they're using this as an excuse to go after Medicaid and PBS ... now they're actually holding a seminar in a Senate Office Building, hosted by a US Senator, to advise private contractors how to get their spot at the trough, complete with coffee and donuts.

Deep Pockets, Small Government and the Man in the Middle

By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, September 27, 2005; Page A04

As fiscal hawks surrendered, would-be government contractors were meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building to figure out how to get a share of the money. A "Katrina Reconstruction Summit," hosted by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and sponsored by Halliburton, among others, brought some 200 lobbyists, corporate representatives and government staffers to a room overlooking the Capitol for a five-hour conference that included time for a "networking break" and advice on "opportunities for private sector involvement."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) sent his budget director, Bill Hoagland, who cautioned that federal Katrina spending might not exceed $100 billion. But John Clerici, from a law firm that helped sponsor the event, told the group that spending would "probably be larger" than $200 billion. "It's going to be spent in a fast and furious way," Clerici said.

Sipping coffee from china cups and munching on doughnuts, the corporate crowd heard Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, predict: "I think we'll see Mardi Gras in New Orleans to some extent this year."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ah, America

Friday, September 23, 2005

Smear Machine Up and Running

Not scared of their nukes (too many "readers" finding out their 10 years away from any nuke capability)? How about the fact that it sounds like Iraq? Nothing?

Crap. We already used the baby-incubator story....er, how about this?

They're drug addicts!! Those lousy ornery Iranians are hooked on Afghan smack!

Best we go in there and "freedomize" those young Iranian victims of the new US-Afghan heroin cartel.

Sum is Greater Than the Parts?

San Francisco culture jammers tack collage of assholes (literally) on top of "Lord of War" movie billboard to create Bush image made of said collage of assholes.

Good stuff. Protest is alive.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Must See TV!"

Now this is what I like to call "Must See T.V."! I think this whole show could be spun off into its own series of episodes addressing which B or C list celebrity has fake breasts or not. It is definately an issue that has been stumping our nation's brightest minds for years now.

You could invite such "celebrities" like Brittany Spears ( that could be the "White Trash" episode), Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, Tara Reid, Kevin James( King of Queens), and I'm sure I'm leaving out a ton of potential guests. I would like to thank Miss Banks for having the bravery to being a television pioneer and answering this important question that perplexes all Americans. Like a deranged stalker Miss Banks says this "rumor" has, "followed me forever". Let us hope she can sleep with some ease now that she has faced the music so to speak.

On a final note why am I not surprised one bit that Anna Nicole Smith made an appearance during this very same episode?

The hour-long show was, as Banks declared, "all about breasts!" It also featured lessons on proper fitting and an appearance from a slimmed-down Anna Nicole Smith.

We are all Iraqis now

From today's Post:

Today, somewhere in the DC metropolitan area, the military is conducting a highly classified Granite Shadow "demonstration." Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control. All of the military planning incorporates the technical capabilities of the intelligence agencies and non-military organizations such as the national laboratories of the Department of Energy.

And finally, CONPLAN 0400 directs regional combatant commanders to customize counter-proliferation plans for each of their own areas of operations. When that "area of operations" is the United States, things become particularly sensitive. The sensitivities, according to military sources, include deployment of "special mission units" (the so-called Delta Force, SEAL teams, Rangers, and other special units of Joint Special Operations Command) in Washington, DC and other domestic hot spots.

Yeah, ask the Branch Davidians about their "sensitivity" to having Delta Force goons burn down their church. I'm sure only good things will come of having an unrestrained military putting down US "insurgencies" (see labor organizing, peace protestors, ACLU rallies, civil rights parades).

God Bless Katrina

For giving the GOP environmental and media cover for the Big Daddy of all budget cuts.

"Operation Offset" is the blueprint to bankrupt federal programs while wrapping its sordid ends in action-oriented GO-GO-GO! language.

How else to 86 the National Endowment for the Arts (take that Robert Mapplethorpe!), foreign aid, and (who says the GOP lacks a sense of irony)...money for first responders?!

Click here for the full Republican Study Committee report actually entitled "Operation Offset."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Delusional, largely toothless and at times hilarious

I would love to take a road trip with these guys:

Mental patients survive on instincts
Troubled souls stick together on an extraordinary odyssey out of New Orleans

By Joseph B. Verrengia, Associated Press

HOUSTON — They're out there.

The shooters, the choppers, the looters, the lines, the foul water and the bodies. Especially the bodies.

"But we're in here," says Victor Fruge.

Others — hundreds of thousands of them — had also escaped from New Orleans. But few could match the extraordinary, even miraculous odyssey of Fruge and his comrades — 16 mentally ill men and recovering addicts, cast out of their group home, Abstract House, by the storm.

[...]

They are not inmates. While they might be delusional, largely toothless and at times hilarious, they are not really rebellious. Wearing scraps of donated clothing, the men range in age from 30 to 70. Several are quiet — Leonard, for one, didn't speak for 12 days after the storm.

For these men who are schizophrenic, bipolar, severely depressed, obsessive-compulsive and shell-shocked from war — often simultaneously — Hurricane Katrina and its agonizing aftermath have forced them to function as a family, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

"We look out for each other," says Raymond Jean Pierre, who everybody agrees is the oldest.

"We stick together," says Patrick Pitchford, whose tattoos crawl down both arms like psychedelic shirt sleeves. "If one person had to go to the bathroom, we all go'd to the bathroom."

"We haven't killed each other," says Ray Brown.

[...]


Abstract's director, Barrie Byrnes, explains she was following instructions from city officials. She describes Abstract House as "a big, dysfunctional family that is more fun than a barrel of monkeys."

[...]

When they finally were loaded on a bus, Richard rocked faster in his seat. James started getting paranoid. Bruce, who has lived at the Abstract for 20 years, was hearing voices.

Ray: "That's nothing. He also thinks he's a pregnant woman."

Mike: "And that he has wires coming out his mouth. I just reach over and make like I'm pluckin' them."

Some of my favorite bars sue over Austin smoking ban

Warehouse Saloon & Billiards, 219 West, Elysium, Lovejoy's Tap Room and Brewery, Beerland, the Horseshoe Lounge and Ego's filed suit Friday against the City of Austin, saying the smoking ban passed in May violates state law by including penalties that are too high.

If only I were there to "contribute to the legal defense fund."

Kinksteriffic

Kinky unleashes his first ad on the internet and it's damn hilarious -- and on-message. Very King of the Hill-ish too.

Only in China...

I'm glad the Chinese are the only ones who have to deal with a flawed political system and an over-reaching executive that seeks to convict on little to no evidence.

Remember America... as bad as it sucks here with the stripping of the 6th Amendment and secret military tribunals, at least we're not CHINA! Yeah, they have f*cking jobs at least.

From the New York Times:

Justice in China is swift but not sure. Criminal investigations nearly always end in guilty pleas. Prosecutors almost never lose cases brought to trial. But recent disclosures of wrongful convictions like Mr. Qin's have exposed deep flaws in a judicial system that often answers more to political leaders than the law. . . The courts rarely if ever rule in favor of political protesters. Even in business cases, political influence often proves decisive.

Must-See TV

I knew the television in The Netherlands was good, but THIS GOOD?

The Shoot Up & Swallow show's main hostess will interview guests about drug use and abuse, while Wesselink and another presenter will carry out in-the-field experiments with sex and drugs. Wesselink, 26, plans to smoke a heroin pill, said Ingrid Timmer, a spokeswoman for the show's producer BNN. ``It's not our intention to create an outcry. We just want to talk about subjects that are part of young people's lives,'' Timmer said. In other segments of the show, Wesselink plans to go on a drinking binge in a series of pubs. He also plans to take the hallucinogenic drug LSD - on his couch under the supervision of his mother.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Why are we going to the Moon, again???

I know these postings of mine are well past the point of redundancy, but AGAIN why are we spending money on a goal that we have already accomplished 40 years ago no less? Hmmm I wonder what $104 billion could be better used for? Maybe, just maybe, providing the basic necessities that a soldier needs when going to war? Oh yeah, how about paying for the rebuilding of New Orleans? Isn't the estimated price tag for that effort $200 billion? How does NASA's director keep a straight face when he says,

"It is very Apollo-like, but bigger. Think of Apollo on steroids."
I am sorry if steroids are bad for people and congress is holding hearings every other day about them, is it appropriate that a director for a taxpayer funded government organization promote it by suggesting that a future, VERY unecessary trip to the moon is like an earlier mission, but much bigger? If ain't good for professional athletes, it surely can't be good for inflated budgets like NASA's.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Two Iraqs

"We want an Iraq governed by the rule of law." -- Tony Blair, 2004

Well, how to explain this then? From Reuters:

British forces used tanks to smash down the walls of a prison in the southern city of Basra and freed two undercover British soldiers seized earlier by Iraqi forces, an Interior Ministry official said on Monday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said half a dozen tanks had broken down the walls of the jail and troops had then stormed in to free the two British soldiers. The governor of Basra confirmed that the jail had been broken into. The Interior Ministry official said dozens of Iraqi prisoners being held at the jail had escaped at the same time.

It's Official: We're at War with Eurasia

There is no Iraqi insurgency. We repeat, there is no Iraqi insurgency. We are fighting Osama bin Laden. We are fighting Zarqawi. We are fighting al Qaeda.
There is no Iraqi insurgency.


The Washington Post has essentially declared the entire Iraqi insurgency as an al Qaeda operation. In a frighteningly Orwellian article in today's Post, reporter Ellen Knickmeyer interchanges the terms "al Qaeda fighters" with "insurgents" as if they are one in the same.

Forget having the White House try to link Iraq and 9/11, the Post is doing it for them. Please send the Post a letter questioning this miscarriage of "journalism."

This whole article is f*cked up:

Using enemy body counts as a benchmark, the U.S. military claimed gains against Abu Musab Zarqawi's foreign-led fighters last week even as they mounted their deadliest attacks on Iraq's capital. But by many standards, including increasingly high death tolls in insurgent strikes, Zarqawi's group, al Qaeda in Iraq, could claim to be the side that's gaining after 2 1/2 years of war.

The statement appeared hours after al Qaeda rocket and mortar strikes on U.S. military installations in Ramadi killed one Marine. The same morning, scores of al Qaeda fighters streamed into the streets of Ramadi, taking up positions with new automatic weapons.

Witnesses said one group of insurgents proudly displayed a new rocket launcher that put U.S. armored vehicles in the glowing red beam of its targeting laser.

We're Dying

Google Ads has posted three buttons on our site for inflatable moonwalk rentals and we have one ad for a senior citizens blog.

Damn our hit-counting Google Overlords!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dick Cheney: not much of a singer

Tough week for Dubaya

First he has to travel back to N.O/Gulf Coast region. Then see his poll #'s nose dive, now this... Tee Hee!

Friday, September 16, 2005

The NFL, Destiny's Child, and organic dog food irrelevant?

While I generally prefer to write my own stuff rather than just re-post the work of others, this is too good to pass up.

Mark Morford, SFGate.com (the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle) columnist, went to Burning Man '05 to blog from the Playa (and hell yes I'm jealous; I mean, why isn't someone paying me to blog from the world's biggest party??). Unfortunately, BM this year coincided with Hurricane Katrina, and while the revelers reveled, the news of the flooding, the devastation, the death, and the pitiful federal response mounted.

Readers of Morford's blog responded via e-mail. Morford explains:

And these e-mails, with more than a little bitter condescension or holier-than-thou snicker, asked me this: "How the hell could you be out there dancing and reveling and drinking badly mixed margaritas and eating camp-stove-cooked gourmet food and imbibing all those unholy joys when the worst natural disaster in recent U.S. history just hammered Louisiana like a Republican hammers welfare?"

This is what they argued. Doesn't it make Burning Man seem completely trite and superfluous and overindulgent? Don't you feel more than a little, you know, silly, trying to write about your childish little otherworldly sexed-up art-rave survivalist-camping thing with even the slightest hint of seriousness in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy and loss of life and the fact that we have a grossly inept president who sits around the ranch smoking stogies with his oil cronies and chuckling while the corpses of thousands of poor mostly black Americans bobble around Louisiana and Mississippi?

And of course my reply is, well, hell yes, of course Burning Man is utterly gratuitous, and excessive, and more than a little ridiculous, especially in the wake of Katrina -- just as, say, NFL football has become suddenly pointless, and also the auto industry, and celebrity, and organic dog food and ornithology and Destiny's Child or the fact that the ultraviolent cheese of "Transporter II" took in $20 mil over this past tragedy-thick weekend, enough to repair at least a few schools and roadways in Biloxi. You have a point?

These are, after all, the weird swipes of the universe, the jarring simultaneous juxtapositions we cannot control, a wild sybaritic celebration contrasted with an epic heartbreaking disaster and you cannot, as a BM participant, escape the painful and weirdly fascinating irony of it all. We all feel small and heartbroken.

But here's the thing: While the circumstances and the remoteness of the event meant most Burning Man participants had little or no idea of the extent of Katrina's wrath, as soon as news did begin to trickle in, the call went out and Burners immediately rallied and funds were immediately raised across the camp, and word has it that the money gathered reached into the tens of thousands within two or three days, with zero PR or advertising or formal pleas from Angelina Jolie or the Red Cross and sans any blank-eyed stares from our useless president.

Hell, on one level, everything becomes moot and hollow in the wake of epic death tolls and a massive karmic shock. Everything seems trite and pointless and more than a little insulting to your deeper consciousness. Sept. 11 was the death of irony and humor and pop culture for a good six months. Horrific events like Katrina inject a temporary numbness into all sense of play. Death and inexpressible loss trump all cultural protests. Same as it ever was.

But there's another angle, too. Let us argue the obvious but necessary flip-side notion that, in the wake of any national disaster or mounting death toll, it is exactly those things that celebrate life that we turn to because they offer salve and balm and resurrection of spirit.


Well said. As we head off to enjoy yet another weekend of merriment and mirth, let us not forget that it is important to celebrate life and friendships. Let us also proudly proclaim that we need neither tax breaks nor MTV to convince us to care about our fellow man.

Ha Ha

I hope it hurts:
Never mind those planned congressional hearings on the hows and whys of government incompetence in the attempt to cope with Hurricane Katrina.

There were not only logistical and bureaucratic troubles but, astonishingly for the Bush White House, political snafus. Maybe there's a simple explanation: Karl Rove's kidney stones.

Washington insiders have been buzzing that President Bush's guru-in-chief - often called "Bush's Brain" - has been suffering from the painful urinary-tract malady for the past couple of weeks, causing him to miss some key Katrina strategy sessions.

I'm told that the 54-year-old deputy White House chief of staff - who apparently was feeling well enough yesterday to travel outside the nation's capital - visited the hospital, possibly twice, to relieve his agony since Labor Day.

White House officials declined to speak on the record about Rove's kidney stones, due to the extreme delicacy of discussions about internal organs of top presidential advisers.

But the National Institutes of Health define a kidney stone as "a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. ... Usually, the first symptom of a kidney stone is extreme pain, which occurs when a stone acutely blocks the flow of urine. ... Sometimes nausea and vomiting occur. Later, pain may spread to the groin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Now That's Funny

From the NY Daily News, via Wonkette.
That was funnyman Damon Wayans in Orlando the other day going nuclear on President Bush - and twins Jenna and Barbara - over the war in Iraq and the possible reinstatement of a military draft. "I'll send my sons if he sends his daughters," Wayans told the crowd, including Daily News contributor Jawn Murray, at Tom Joyner's Family Reunion in Disneyworld. "Put those two drunk bitches on a plane and let them go fight. At least I know my sons would be getting some on the way." By way of White House reaction, First Lady Laura Bush's press secretary, Susan Whitson, gasped yesterday and told me: "I wouldn't dignify that with a response."
Whitson did, however, ask for the Wayans son's phone numbers. When ask why she might be interested in such information, Whitson replied, "Let's just say that the President isn't the only Bush that likes screwing black people."

Don't Mess With Rove's Homestead Tax Deduction

Wow, it is amazing how one can be fired just for speaking to a member of the media. Hell it wasn't even against "press policy". To me it sounds like Rove had adopted the "residency" model as his Dubaya's daddy.

From the WaPo:


Reyes said yesterday that she was summoned to a superior's office Tuesday and told that the office was upset about the Post article. "I didn't even know an article had been written," she said. Reyes said she explained what had happened and later was called back to the supervisor's office and told she was fired. "I was in complete shock," she said. "I said, 'Well, why?' They said I violated the press policy."

While she didn't know she was talking to a reporter, Reyes said, the press policy doesn't bar her from speaking with the media.

"The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she said. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. . . . Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."

Ouch

Dowd comes in blazing.

How many places will be in shambles by the time the Bush crew leaves office?

Given that the Bush team has dealt with both gulf crises, Iraq and Katrina, with the same deadly mixture of arrogance and incompetence, and a refusal to face reality, it's frightening to think how it will handle the most demanding act of government domestic investment since the New Deal.

Even though we know W. likes to be in his bubble with his feather pillow, the stories this week are breathtaking about the lengths the White House staff had to go to in order to capture Incurious George's attention.

Newsweek reported that the reality of Katrina did not sink in for the president until days after the levees broke, turning New Orleans into a watery grave. It took a virtual intervention of his top aides to make W. watch the news about the worst natural disaster in a century. Dan Bartlett made a DVD of newscasts on the hurricane to show the president on Friday morning as he flew down to the Gulf Coast.

The aides were scared to tell the isolated president that he should cut short his vacation by a couple of days, Newsweek said, because he can be "cold and snappish in private." Mike Allen wrote in Time about one "youngish aide" who was so terrified about telling Mr. Bush he was wrong about something during the first term, he "had dry heaves" afterward.

The president had to be truly zoned out not to jump at the word "hurricane," given that he has always used his father's term as a reverse playbook and his father almost lost Florida in 1992 because of his slow-footed response to Hurricane Andrew. And W.'s chief of staff, Andy Card, was the White House transportation secretary the senior President Bush sent to the rescue after FEMA bungled that one.

W. has said he prefers to get his information straight up from aides, rather than filtered through newspapers or newscasts. But he surrounds himself with weak sisters who don't have the nerve to break bad news to him, or ideologues with agendas that require warping reality or chuckleheaded cronies like Brownie.

The president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn moment. It's too late.


A national disgrace

This is a compelling piece. What is really disturbing is the military's reaction to journalists trying to report on these people who have died and have YET to be collected and identified.

Where are the Funerals?

It was two weeks ago tonight that the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina really sank in. It was already clear that hundreds, maybe thousands, had perished, washed away in storm surges or rising floodwaters from a ruptured levee. This is how we began the story that we wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News 14 days ago:


So much death.

And not a single funeral.

It's been 14 days now. Where are the funerals?

New Orleans is famous for its funerals, you know. Jazz funerals -- an untidy gumbo of grief and joy, pouring out through the streets of a timeworn city, punctuated by the music of the living. We've never been to one, but here's a description of the recent funeral for a prominent jazz musician. Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen:

A line of tubas, a man with a red tuba, all the celebrants filled with sorrow, but also exalting Tuba Fats with signs and pictures, in fine suits and fancy dresses, hot colors and cool hairdos. They were alternately somber or cheered as the mood of the music changed: slow dirge, medium hymn, fast march. Probably 2,500 made their way with the horse drawn casket to the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street — a rare honor due to Tuba's daily play on Jackson Square — where tourists gawked and clamored. A somber stop at St. Louis Cathedral, where a priest blessed the bier while those who knew Tuba Fats cried out his goodness. Starting up and out of the Quarter the several blocks long throng sang "Down By the Riverside" with the line "Ain't gonna study war no more" resonating about life here and abroad.

Now, New Orleans has been overrun by death, and yet there are no funerals. And if our government has its way, they could be weeks away. They are taking their time in collecting and tallying the dead, and shipping the bodies to that remote place, far from home. When journalists get too close to the reality of death, they are driven back:

The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sri Lanka vs Louisiana

A damning comparison in the international press pointed out to us by a reader:

From World Opinion Roundup in WP

When asked to compare governmental responses to Katrina and the South Asia tsunami, Daniel Lak, a BBC correspondent who covered both, wrote “In Sri Lanka, with 60-70 per cent of the coastline devastated, the government was powerless to meet everyone’s needs. But the international community stepped in to eventually get a decent relief effort going. Including psychological counseling for those who had lost loved ones. In America, I saw none of this for days. Instead I saw bureaucratic boondoggling, government rescue workers who rarely missed a meal or a coffee break, political leaders who’d rather point fingers of blame than roll up their sleeves and help out. I saw an impressive private and voluntary sector effort thwarted by government. I saw the poor, the black, the old, the obese, the sick neglected by the middle class and the rich who fled to higher ground and lived off their credit cards. Those without cars or amex platinum were left to fend for themselves. Many of them died from sheer neglect.

"If there’s a ray of hope," he wrote, "it’s in the growing disgust among many Americans with the state of their Union. There are now nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance, a third of US children living in poverty, more people losing jobs every year. Race and class are becoming issues again. One can only hope this wonderful place, this nation of so many great achievements alongside a few shameful episodes, will again set an example for all of us, instead of being the land we all loathe far too readily. If Katrina has a legacy, let it be this.”

It's definitely Senator Watson now

Oh thank heavens!

Ah, now I can rest easy! How nice that the rich and privileged of New Orleans are more concerned about their mansions and their many assortment of toys that they have collected over the years. God forbid they be concerned about their fellow New Orleanians.

From The Guardian:

"...God watches out for the rich people, I guess."

Conversations with a Sierra Leonean cabbie

Taking a cab hungover to work the other day, the cab driver and I are listening to some call-in talk radio show when some all-too-typical idiot calls in to essentially say "The people in New Orleans it's their own damn fault for not leaving when they were told to."

The cab driver, who I soon learned was from Sierra Leone, laughed, turned down the radio, and told me his own story about being told to evacuate.

Apparently the Sierra Leone Army, which he was later to serve in, used to come into his town and tell the residents they had three days to evacuate because the West Army was coming in and their town would soon be a battleground. "How do you evacuate when you have no money and no place to go?" he asked.

Once, he recalls, the Army evacuated a major city of 65,000 people for 3 months to fight.

This guy was fascinating, telling me war stories about planes landing full of guns and leaving full of diamonds, generals and warlords being paid in diamonds, Sierra Leonean prostitutes hired by the army to have sex with enemy warlords and kill them afterwards in their sleep.

"We didn’t start any wars," he told me. "The wars have always come to us." He says the "credo" in the Sierra Leone military is that a general cannot use his men to save his life. He must "smell the war." Literally be at the front.

Oddly, given what perceptions of brutality I had, is the main thing he had to say about the guys he knew in the army were how funny they were. "Those guys are hard core, but funny. Really funny." And then he just cracked up to himself presumably remembering some joke.

He said he was going back in the Spring to make a documentary about the untold stories of Sierra Leoneans fighting for the British, that the British conscripted Sierra Leone warriors to fight in WWII and in the bush in India. That there was a famous Sierra Leone fighter pilot who shot down German planes.

He says it’s much calmer (not sure about this ) and a gorgeous country (this I believe). Hope he gets to make his film. Of course I can't remember the guy's name now. But if a documentary happens to come out about the untold story of Sierra Leone fighters in the British military, I'm gonna assume it's the same.

The moral to the story: if I hadn't had so much to drink the night before, and I'd taken the bus, I never would have had such an interesting conversation. So drink up!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Brown OUT!

AP: Mike Brown says he has resigned as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Details soon

The triple checker jump

The WP coverage of the "Freedom" Walk is hilarious.

On the Freedom Walk, Many Bridges to Cross

"We're here because something horrific happened" -- 9/11 -- "and now we have family and friends who are over there and supporting our country and fighting for us to be free," Brown said.

That's the triple checker jump: From Sept. 11, by way of Iraq, to Freedom.


[...]

Sometimes people caution against linking everything to everything, but such advice often goes unheeded. Not discussed much yesterday were President Bush's acknowledgments that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Sept. 11.

Understatement of the year.

And never mind that Pentagon spokesmen have insisted that the Freedom Walk was not a pro-war stroll. It was about the troops, said the spokesmen, not the war.

Most of the walkers strayed way off those messages. They made the connections. Survivors of the Pentagon attack walked with relatives of soldiers in Iraq. Legless veterans of Iraq sat in the front
row at the post-walk Clint Black concert, beside family members of those who died in the Pentagon or aboard American Airlines Flight 77 on 9/11.

The walkers echoed Bush on other occasions when he linked Sept. 11 to Iraq in a greater drama of a war on terror.


[...]

"I've always believed the people who died on September 11 were the first casualties of this war," Ronald Griffin -- whose son Kyle died in a truck accident between Mosul and Tikrit two years ago -- said Friday as he was preparing to drive down from New Jersey for the walk. "The war in Iraq, the war on terror, the war in Afghanistan. The war is not just in Iraq. The war is everywhere."

I would have a hard time accepting the 9/11-Iraq link was bullshit too if my son had died for it.

The walkers also said their support for the troops was inextricably linked to support for the war.

"What I've never really understood is how someone could say they support the troops but they don't support the war. . . . Because the troops want to win the war," said Debra Burlingame, who walked in memory of her brother Charles F. Burlingame III -- pilot of the hijacked plane that struck the Pentagon -- and to say thank you to the troops wherever they serve.


What does winning even mean? How do we win? I'd love to see an open-ended survey of the troops to see what they think "winning the war" means, and if they give a shit or if they'd rather just declare victory and get the fuck out.

Here's another piece:


At 9/11 Walks, Remembrances Stream Forth
Thousands in D.C. and Va. Honor Victims, U.S. Troops


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld joined the walk and was treated like a rock star, hounded by passersby who begged his Secret Service detail to snap their photos with him.

"I wish I remembered my permanent marker so he could sign my T-shirt," one woman lamented after shaking Rumsfeld's hand. Patricia Rivera, 26, an Air Force enlistee, gasped and said: "Oh, my. What an honor! What an honor!" after having her photo taken with Rumsfeld.

[...]

One protester, Rik Silverman, 27, of Arlington said he was holding a sign that said, "Shame on You" when a marcher leaned over the railing and punched him in the stomach. A U.S. Park Police officer wrote a report but no arrests were made.

Although the Pentagon required walkers to preregister for the event, officials did not provide a crowd estimate.


You don't need to know that! Mind your business!


Kevin Pannell, who stood on his prosthetic legs, said the Sept. 11 attacks still take their toll on the nation.

"I lost my legs in Baghdad, and 9/11 was the initiative," said Pannell, 27, of Woodbridge.


Huh?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Oh, by the way...

A three-judge panel with a Supreme Court candidate just overturned the Sixth Amendment.

Power to The People: New Orleans and the Right of Return

This is the best editorial on the Katrina situation I've read so far.

Naomi Klein says that with the poor people gone, the speculators are coming in, just like in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. A strong, organized coalition is needed to guarantee the right of return for the people of New Orleans.

Here are some excerpts (please read this one):

It's a radical concept: the $10.5bn released by Congress and the $500m raised by private charities doesn't actually belong to the relief agencies or the government - it belongs to the victims. The agencies entrusted with the money should be accountable to them. Put another way, the people Barbara Bush tactfully described as "underprivileged anyway" just got very rich.

Except relief and reconstruction never seem to work like that.

. . .

There are already signs that New Orleans evacuees could face a similarly brutal second storm. Jimmy Reiss, chairman of the New Orleans Business Council, told Newsweek that he has been brainstorming about how "to use this catastrophe as a once-in-an-eon opportunity to change the dynamic". The council's wish list is well-known: low wages, low taxes, more luxury condos and hotels.

. . .

Before the flood, this highly profitable vision was already displacing thousands of poor African-Americans: while their music and culture was for sale in an increasingly corporatised French Quarter (where only 4.3% of residents are black), their housing developments were being torn down.

. . .

Here's a better idea: New Orleans could be reconstructed by and for the very people most victimised by the flood. Schools and hospitals that were falling apart before could finally have adequate resources; the rebuilding could create thousands of local jobs and provide massive skills training in decent paying industries

. . .

The most pressing question is where evacuees will live over the next few months. A dangerous consensus is building that they should collect a little charity, apply for a job at the Houston Wal-Mart and move on. Muhammad and CLU, however, are calling for the right to return: they know that if evacuees are going to have houses and schools to come back to, many will need to return to their home states and fight for them.

. . .

Because there is only one thing that can compensate the victims of this most human of natural disasters, and that is what has been denied them throughout: power. It will be a long and difficult battle, but New Orleans's evacuees should draw strength from the knowledge that they are no longer poor people; they are rich people who have been temporarily locked out of their bank accounts.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"LIVESTRONG, but only after my photo op"

I think this story is just the cherry atop of the evil sundae that Bush calls his response to Hurricane Katrina. Now I know for a man of his intellectual stature he has alot to worry about like attending little league baseball games, catching up on his reading ( A Boy and His Goat), and DO NOT forget his daily 2-hour breaks. I am sure he was so traumatized by the devistation from the hurricane that the fact that he was pedalling around less than TWO weeks ago on his ranch with the poster boy of cancer survivors that he simply forgot or the irony flew over his head like a Navy S-3B Viking jet during a blatant political p.r. stunt.


From The Raw Story:

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 30 -- The Naval Medical Center in San Diego's Balboa Park was shut down to accommodate a visit by President George W. Bush Aug. 30, RAW STORY has learned, forcing patients to cancel chemotherapy treatments and hundreds of scheduled patient visits.

"The pharmacy is closed. The emergency room is closed. Even chemotherapy patients will not be allowed on base," the daughter of one patient told RAW STORY shortly before the President's arrival. "My mother is a patient...She was contacted and told that her appointment had been canceled and would be rescheduled later…All civilian personnel and patients will not be allowed on base."

Hundreds of patient visits were cancelled as a result, she said. Patients and staff at the Naval Medical Center voiced concern over the shut-down of non-critical patient care services for a photo op that never even materialized. None were willing to go on record by name for fear of retaliation, such as loss of jobs or revocation of healthcare privileges.

Is it possible to despise DeLay more?

"Freedom" is on the march!

Going to the Pentagon's "Freedom" Walk?

You must register online to participate. You will march behind a fence to prevent non-registered people from participating. Media cannot participate but can watch from viewing areas. And you're not allowed to bring signs.

As DCist put it, "The Pentagon's top brass seems to have stepped in a steaming pile of irony."

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"

I would love to use that line in a tv spot, played over and over as the video is overhead shots of New Orleans flooded, and people floating on coolers.

Maybe you alternate it with Joe Allbaugh's assertion that "the President couldn't have chosen a better man to help...prepare and protect the nation," said when Bush first nominated Brown on Allbaugh's departure to go war profiteer.

Here's the Onion's take on the Brown mess:

Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME. "Department heads did not report to him." Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."


Ha ha, no that's actually Time magazine.

Mike "We Just Learned About That" Brown Recalled To DC

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!



Duhhh..............what me worry?!

Bitch-Slap!

If only Harry Reid had the balls Nancy Pelosi does.

In a freakish "interview" on CNN yesterday, Kyra Phillips (who is desperately trying to help fill the vacuum created with Judy Miller's absence) went beserker on Pelosi and tried to blame her and Congress (ha!) for the non-existent response to Katrina.

The hood is off, Phillips is a White House plant. In fact, CNN just ran a series of stories where Phillips was granted "exclusive access" into the bowels of our national security apparatus somewhere inside a mountain in Colorado. Presumably, that's where her brainwashing took place. She's always either flying with secret recon missions in the Mid-East or doing some other kind of clandestine reporting. I'm not even sure that CNN is her primary job.

This is a must watch. Key line, "If you want to make the case for the White House, you should get on their payroll."

Bada-BING!



Feel free to send our newest propagandist an email telling her what you think.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

FEMA's street team

Nice to see that FEMA is using perfectly able-bodied firefighters for its streetwalking team. I realize after this fuck up FEMA needs all the help they can get with "community relations", but this is ridiculous.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.


I especially like how in the article the FEMA spokesperson even questions their (firefighters) "commitment" to the country after they questioned why they were there. Which makes sense because why else would fire personnel travel miles across the nation to come VOLUNTEER? Like their boss (W) even FEMA is subscribing to the White House's "blame game"

Federal officials are unapologetic. "I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.

The firefighters - or at least the fire chiefs who assigned them to come to Atlanta - knew what the assignment would be, Hudak said.

"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments."

Conservative criticism of Dumb Fuck Bush

Even conservatives believe the whole response to Katrina was a royal fuck up. Then again I keep forgetting that G.W. doesn't read newspapers. He relies on getting his "news" from "objective sources" within his administration.

From The New Hampshire Union Leader (known for its staunch conservatism):

But the Bush administration’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina was such a debacle that the blame-fixing has started early.

At the top of the blame list is, of course, President Bush. His laggardly, confused and inadequate response will have political repercussions that will outlast his presidency.

"Go Fuck Yourself Mr. Cheney"

Protester caught on-camera on CNN giving Dick the ol' Patrick Leahy treatment. With sound.

This is what happens when you venture outside the Green Zone.

More indictments for TRMPAC, TAB

Breaking news in the Statesman (yes, that Statesman).

Must have slipped past Bolton...

You don't need to tell the people of the Gulf coast about this.

The UN slams the "Two Americas":

Parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, according to a shocking United Nations report on global inequality. Claims that the New Orleans floods have laid bare a growing racial and economic divide in the US have, until now, been rejected by the American political establishment as emotional rhetoric. But yesterday's UN report provides statistical proof that for many - well beyond those affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the great American Dream is an ongoing nightmare. The annual Human Development Report normally concerns itself with the Third World, but the 2005 edition scrutinises inequalities in health provision inside the US as part of a survey of how inequality worldwide is retarding the eradication of poverty. It reveals that the infant mortality rate has been rising in the US for the past five years - and is now the same as Malaysia. America's black children are twice as likely as whites to die before their first birthday.

The House That Cronyism Built

The FEMA mess doesn't stop with that dipshit deer-in-headlights-looking horse jockey Mike Brown. From the New York Daily News:

While Brown ran horse shows in his last private-sector job, FEMA's No. 2 man, deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and White House. He also did short stints at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration. Rhode's biography posted on FEMA's Web site doesn't indicate he has any real experience in emergency response. In addition, the agency's former third-ranking official, deputy chief of staff Scott Morris, was a PR expert who worked for Maverick Media, the Texas outfit that produced TV and radio spots for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In June, Morris moved to Florida to become FEMA's long-term recovery director.

When will it stop???

Man when will the backlash begin for these evil, greedy, and soulless motherfuckers? I know this is a cliche, but this really is deja vu. Didn't they try this same stunt during the passage of the PATRIOT Act? I am sure their version of the bill is laden full of no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton. I hate these people.


The Republican leadership pushed through a Suspension Rule in the House Rules Committee that blocked any members from offering amendments to the bill. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the Committee, led opposition to the rule.

The bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, is expected to pass on the House floor tomorrow.
Democrats implored Republicans to allow amendments, which would enable consideration of measures such as which areas and to which agencies relief dollars were most needed and how to restructure FEMA so that it would be more effective.

"We've been on vacation for five weeks. Now, in our first week back, the Republican Leadership would rather duck and run than discuss what's happened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina," Slaughter told RAW STORY in a statement. "Life in the Gulf Coast is no vacation. The Federal Government failed the American people in its initial response to this horrible disaster and by their actions; the Republican Leadership is once again showing that their priorities are out of sync with the needs of so many hard working families."
"It is this very lack of accountability in government which ensured that our disaster response would be a bigger disaster than the hurricane itself. Yet here they go again, completely unfazed in their determination to eliminate debate, consideration and accountability from the Congress and the Federal government.


No one has even seen a copy of the bill."

Correction of the day

Those fuckers.
Because of incorrect information from a company spokesman, a Sept. 6 Business article about Wal-Mart's hurricane relief efforts misstated the number of trucks filled with donated merchandise the chain sent to the Gulf Coast. It was about 100, not 1,500.

Texas Voters Catching On?

Nice poll:
39 percent of Texans approve of Perry's job performance and 45 percent disapprove.
Now if only we could find a real Dem candidate to run for Guv...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Go along now, nothing to see here"

So are these guys following the Operation Iraqi Freedom handbook to a tee? First don't send enough military into the stricken areas, now this. These guys being so religious they sure are some evil bastards.

an idea

Friends,

I know most, if not all of yall have contributed to the victims of this terrible disaster in Louisiana and along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. Like you my heart goes out to these people and I can't even imagine what it might feel like to lose all of your earthly possessions. I get mad when I only lose my phone. I can't really explain why this tragedy has effected me more than previous tragedies, but I can only say it is for the better.

Since I am not made of money and having already donated bedding and a small amount to the Red Cross I still feel a need contribute in my own personal way. I have only been to New Orleans once in my life many years ago.

With that experience plus having read stories about the city I have come to the conclusion that like Austin, the people of New Orleans have an enormous appreciation for music of all kinds. Most of you who know me well enough know that I too subscribe to that affinity for music.

So I had an idea. I figured since I have now upgraded my personal listening device from CD walkmen to IPOD I really have no need for my portable CD player anymore. So last night I decided to ride down to the Convention Center and donate that player plus a $20 new one to the first person I met, along with 4 or 5 burned cd's from my personal music library.

While locking my bike up the first person to approach me was a man named Rodney, he propositioned me into allowing him to "borrow" my bike so he get around, of course he was joking. After asking him if he enjoyed music I decided to offer him my care package. I have to admit I think he was genuinely touched by the offer and maybe even a little surprised. After giving me a hug Rodney and I went our separate ways. I know the items I gave him aren't on the necessity list, but it is what I could give. So I ask all of you if yall have an old, but working CD player or are even willing to sacrifice $20 to buy a new one(I bought mine from Wal-Greens) and maybe a set of AA batteries we could all contribute to their stay in Austin to be a little more enjoyable and maybe allow them, if only for moment, forget about the terrible events they have experienced these last few weeks. I know I will never forget the smile Rodney had on his face afterwards.

Feel free to contact me and I would be more than willing to pick up or meet somewhere if you would like to assist in this endeavor. If you are out of town and would like to participate feel free to call me and we can make arraingments in retrieving your items. Thank you all.

Sincerely,
James Chapman
512 658 9910

Barrientos bows out. Enter Captain Kirk

From the QR:

Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin) will announce at an 11:30 press conference this morning that he has decided not to seek re-election. Instead, he plans to look at some private sector opportunities and enjoy his grandchildren. However, Senator Barrientos did imply he might have a few additional observations at his press conference. Stay tuned. This creates the third open seat in the Senate. Todd Staples (R-Palestine) is running for Agriculture Commissioner and Jon Lindsay (R-Houston) is retiring.

Press conference in less than an hour (12:30 EST)...

Baffling!

Ok, so let me see if I am grasping this logic correctly. Tenet oversaw the governmental agency that is responsible for knowing about potential dangers to the U.S. and try to prevent them. He failed miserably to react to those dangers on Sept 11th, 2001. Result of his inaction a little over a 2,ooo peolpe died. He is awarded a Medal of Freedom. Condi Rice, she is the go between for the National Security Agency, the biggest spy agency dwarfing Tenet's CIA, and the White House. She even receives a memo stating "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States" less than a month before the attacks. No action was taken on her part, same results as Tenet's. She is then promoted to Secretary State.

Now when Naval pilots are acting in a humane manner and going AGAINST orders and rescuing survivors of Katrina what are they given you ask? A medal? A slap on the back and words of encouragement? Nah, that would be would be too logical in this government.

Friedman has a great piece

Osama and KatrinaBy THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: September 7, 2005

These are people so much better at inflicting pain than feeling it, so much better at taking things apart than putting them together, so much better at defending "intelligent design" as a theology than practicing it as a policy.

For instance, it's unavoidably obvious that we need a real policy of energy conservation. But President Bush can barely choke out the word "conservation." And can you imagine Mr. Cheney, who has already denounced conservation as a "personal virtue" irrelevant to national policy, now leading such a campaign or confronting oil companies for price gouging?

And then there are the president's standard lines: "It's not the government's money; it's your money," and, "One of the last things that we need to do to this economy is to take money out of your pocket and fuel government." Maybe Mr. Bush will now also tell us: "It's not the government's hurricane - it's your hurricane."


OK, Tom, now you can go back to rambling about transforming the Middle East.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Marvelle's old boss is livid about the Katrina response

This is awesome!


Political fallout from Katrina has just begun
9/5/2005 3:22 PM
By: Harvey Kronberg


The images of New Orleans are still fresh. Most of us are overwhelmed with a sense of rage and shame. Our government's failure renews feelings that haven't been part of the national conversation since the days of Jimmy Carter.

Carter's administration was defined by helplessness in the face of rising gas prices, America held hostage in the Middle East and a tanking economy.

President Bush now finds himself in almost the same position. Thirty years ago, Carter told the nation to turn down the thermostat and wear sweaters. President Bush said fill up your car only when you really need to.

The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks transformed a floundering presidency, delivered a decisive majority in the Senate and a successful presidential campaign theme.

Much of that has been washed away along with thousands of lives in New Orleans. We are haunted by pictures of our poorest and most frail Americans simply abandoned by government until television shamed our national leadership into action.

For the lack of less than $100 million to fix the infrastructure, the nation must now commit more than $100 billion to rebuild.

No one argues that a questionable war in a Gulf state half a world away sucked resources that were desperately needed last week by the Gulf states at home. Homeland security is a joke, now little more than an expensive campaign slogan.

For the first time in a generation, television has reacquainted America with the desperately poor inside our own borders. No small irony that last week the Census Bureau reported that in the last five years 1 million more or our countrymen have slipped into poverty. It also reported that for all but the top 20 percent, economic conditions have worsened.

And ironically, next month the new bankruptcy law takes effect, ending an American tradition of starting over in the face of insurmountable debt created by external events. Wage earners and small business people who maxed out their credit cards to escape deal with the aftermath of Katrina are about to discover that thanks to Congress and the President, bankruptcy is just another word for lingering indentured servitude to credit card companies.

I submit to you that the storm has just begin.

Political commentator Harvey Kronberg shares his thoughts on politics in Texas each Monday during On the Agenda. Kronberg is the writer, editor, publisher of the Quorum Report, Texas' oldest political newsletter.

A Popular Policy

Shoot to Kill is all the rage:

Israeli military prosecutors have opened criminal investigations following allegations by soldiers that they carried out illegal shoot-to-kill orders against unarmed Palestinians.


The 17 separate investigations were prompted by the testimony of dozens of troops collected by Breaking the Silence, a pressure group of former Israeli soldiers committed to exposing human rights abuses by the military in suppressing the Palestinian intifada. The investigations cover a range of allegations, including misuse of weapons and other misuses of power.


Some of the soldiers, who also spoke to the Guardian, say they acted on standing orders in some parts of the Palestinian territories to open fire on people regardless of whether they were armed or not, or posed any physical threat.
The soldiers say that in some situations they were ordered to shoot anyone who appeared on a roof or a balcony, anyone who appeared to be kneeling to the ground or anyone who appeared on the street at a designated time. Among those killed by soldiers acting on the orders were young children.

It's pretty clear you've given up the "hearts and minds" strategy of occupation when you order your troops to unarmed children and people in mid-prayer. No word on whether a similar policy will be approved for New Orleans as right now Governor Blanco and President Bush only want to kill people stealing food for their families.

Monday, September 05, 2005

2008 GOP convention city, that's right... New Orleans

Not that republican insensitivity or utter lack of decency has ever surprised me, but jeeze, they really don't have any shame, or soul for that matter after I read this. I mean they havent even recovered al the dead yet or hell, even the living for that matter. What better time to start planning a party. Then again this is the same National Review who proclaimed this on their editorial pages this May.

What's wrong with this picture?

It's nice to see that our oil rich pals are actually giving back. But where's that other "oil rich nation" (Saudi Arabia) that as far as I know has yet to pony up a dime for this recent disaster? I guess it would take away from their terrorist funding.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Comforting?

How funny that they (administration)will encourage folks to donate to an organization whose founder suggests assassinating democratically elected world leaders, but won't accept donations from countries who are willing to join the relief fundraising effort.

FEMA Referring Donors to Pat Robertson's Organization. The federal government, FEMA, is actually referring people who want to donate cash to help disaster victims to Mr. "Let's Assassinate Venezuela's President" Pat Robertson's organization, "Operation Blessing." Many thanks to Dalia Stokes of River Oaks Area Democratic Women for pointing this out. Here's the FEMA link for those who'd like to see it to believe it:

http://www.fema.gov/press/2005/katrinadonations.shtm

Hurricane Katrina essay

This guy was quoted in David Gonzalez's NY Times piece today.


Friends:

As I feared the first day the levees broke in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina will turn out to be the worst environmental catastrophe in modern American history, far dwarfing Hurricane's Andrew and Camilla and equalling, if not surpassing, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 in its destructive impact. The flooding, and physical destruction of a historic American city, coupled with the complete destruction of homes, stores, businesses, roads and bridges along 80 miles of Mississippi coastline presents a humanitarian challenge of unprecendented proportions, with consequences that will be felt for years by those who lost loved ones, homes, businesses, jobs, and any sense of comfort or security.

But this catastrophe also reveals, far more than September 11, how deeply divided our nation is and how far our social fabric has been strained, not only by the war in Iraq, but by policies which have widened the gap between rich and poor and left many poor people in American feeling marginalized and alienated

When the full tally of the dead from this storm and its aftermath, which includes those who will die from disease contracted due to heat, starvation and contaminated water as well as the storm itself, we will see what tv photos of rescue operations are revealing-that the greatest loss of life, and the greatest suffering, was occuring among Louisiana and Mississippi's black poor. Look who we see wading through the the floodwaters in New Orleans streets, look who we see lining up to get into the Superdome, look who we see being taken off rooves. And look who we see being arrested for "looting" Unlike September 11, which revealed a city united in pain, and grief, and determination to rebuild; this crisis reveals communities which are profoundly divided by race and class , and in which the black poor in particular, bear levels of hardship which far exceed those of any other group.

Not since the great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 have the economic and racial isolation of the black poor been revealed in such stark relief by an environmental catastrophe. What the images Americans on the evening news reveal about who is dying, who is trapped, who is without food, who is drinking contaminated water and yes, who is looting, should give all of us pause. Is this what the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement fought to achieve, a society where many black people are as trapped and isolated by their poverty as they were by segregation laws

One other thought comes to mind. If the American armed forces, including the national guard and army corps of engingeers, were not bogged down in a needless, unprovoked war in Iraq, would the response to this catastrophe have been quicker?. Would the levee repair have taken place more quickly and effectively, more food and medicine delivered, more troops sent to preserve order?. When all is said and done, many Americans will question whether the response to this catastrophe was hampered by the strain the Iraq war has exerted on our military's rapid response ability in the United States.

I make these observations not in any way to detract by the heroism of tens of thousands of rescue personnel and ordinary people who have saved, and continue to save lives through their actions. Every one of us needs to give them, and the people of the affected states, or complete support, economically, politically, spiritually, and by any act of personal generosity that can ease someone's suffering.

But we also cannot shrink from what this tragegy reveals about us as a nation at this stage in history. If September 11 showed the power of a nation united in response to a devastating attack; Hurricane Katrina reveals the fault lines of a region, and a nation, rent by profound social divisions

Dr Mark Naison August 31, 2005
Professor of African-American Studies at Fordham University

"Playing politics" eh?

Oh, how I love that term! Especially when it comes from the president's lips, whose family's is the epitome of D.C. politcs . By "playing politcs" does he mean slashing $71.2 million from the US Army Corp of Engineers, New Orleans District 2006 budget? Additionally, cancelling a study to determine ways to protect the area from a Category 5 hurricane.

Now some supporters of Bush will rationalize this budgetary move in whatever way they feel comfortable with and even retort with a statement like, "It's 2005...those cuts haven't even been made yet". Well to stomp that argument to pieces maybe they should refer to this article

"...Among emergency specialists, 'mitigation' -- the measures taken in advance to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters -- is a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs. But since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created by the Clinton administration, has been canceled outright. Federal funding of post-disaster mitigation efforts designed to protect people and property from the next disaster has been cut in half. Communities across the country must now compete for pre-disaster mitigation dollars."

If all that doesn't tickle your fancy how about a dose of privatization to top off all that this "compassionate conservativism" crowd is responsible for in this tragedy that didn't have to be.

"Before FEMA was condensed into Homeland Security it responded much more quickly," says Walter Maestri, director of Jefferson Parish's Office of Emergency Management. Maestri has worked with FEMA for eight years. "Truthfully, you had access to the individuals who were the decision-makers. The FEMA administrator had Cabinet status. Now, you have another layer of bureaucracy. FEMA is headed by an assistant secretary who now has to compete with other assistant secretaries of Homeland Security for available funds. And elevating houses is not as sexy as providing gas masks."

Maestri is still awaiting word from FEMA officials as to why Louisiana, despite being called the "floodplain of the nation" in a 2002 FEMA report, received no disaster mitigation grant money from FEMA in 2003 ("Homeland Insecurity," Sept. 28). Maestri says the rejection left emergency officials around the state "flabbergasted."

Maybe when Bush hoped that "people wouldn't play politics during this period of time" he included everyone, but himself and his administration. How else could one explain for declining aid from other nations?

"While seemingly reluctant to accept foreign offers for help, saying that the US could "take care of it", US President George W Bush readily called on his father, George Bush Snr, and former president Bill Clinton to drive private fundraising initiatives. From longstanding allies such as Australia, Britain and Canada, to tempestuous Venezuela and impoverished Honduras, the offers have been flooding in.