September 30, 2005
I think we should all make the link between this, 3 Charged in Killing Of Fla. Businessman
Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was killed on a Fort Lauderdale street on Feb. 6, 2001. Two of the three men charged had been hired as consultants by Adam Kidan, one of Abramoff's partners in the SunCruz Casinos venture. [emphasis added]and this, Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated,
The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.Murder takes place just after Bush takes office. Prosecutor later blocked by Bush administration from investigating Abramoff's activites. Question - was this a reason the Bush administration was trying to keep the prosecutor from looking too deeply into Abramoff?
They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders. [emphasis added]
Reuters has told the US government that American forces' conduct towards journalists in Iraq is "spiralling out of control" and preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public.I wonder how much of this has to do with Armed Forces Radio piping the Rush Limbaugh show in to the troops every day? If you listen to Rush you know that he spouts a daily diatribe about how the mainstream media is engaged in a treasonous conspiracy to undermine the country's efforts in Iraq, even going so far as to say that they want our troops to be killed because it makes Republicans look bad, etc. Someone stationed in Iraq and listening to enough of that...
The detention and accidental shootings of journalists is limiting how journalists can operate, wrote David Schlesinger, the Reuters global managing editor, in a letter to Senator John Warner, head of the armed services committee.
The Reuters news service chief referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by US forces in Iraq".
September 29, 2005
This statement was just released by Senator Harry Reid's office:
REID, DEMOCRATS DEMAND END TO CULTURE OF CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION
Call for Corruption Czar to Oversee Reconstruction Because America Can Do Better
Washington, D.C. -- The following is a statement by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid:
“As I’ve said before, the biggest abuse of power is having the ability to help the American people, but choosing not to instead. Now, even in the wake of Katrina, that’s the choice Republicans continue to make.”
“No help for victims. No help on gas prices. And no end in sight to a string of ethical scandals."
“Fortunately, the American people don’t have to live with that choice. America can do better, and together we will.
“The American people deserve more than “business as usual” in Washington. It’s time to reform the way things are done, and we can start with the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.
“Billions of dollars will be spent on that project. Already we’re hearing stories of millions for cruise ships and mismanagement of funds.
“America can do better. Democrats in the House and Senate have called for a corruption czar to oversee the effort, and today I ask the President and the Republicans to join us in supporting this position.
“We need someone to make sure the money goes to rebuilding businesses, homes and lives, not to lining the pockets of well-connected contractors. A czar will know where every penny goes, and watch for anyone who takes shortcuts or overcharges.
“We support a czar because we’re committed to reforming the culture of cronyism and corruption President Bush and Republicans have created in Washington. They think since they have all the power, they only have to use it to help their friends….by cutting taxes for special interests…by giving more breaks to Big Oil…and by keeping open the revolving door between government jobs, their top supporters and industry lobbyists.
“Democrats believe in something very different. We believe that together America can do better, and that in the wake of Katrina and the rash of Republican scandals, it’s time to unite and move forward in a new direction.
“Democrats want to return to a time when “what you know,” not “who you know,” qualified you to run a government agency, and we have legislation to slow the revolving-door that’s been the source of so much Republican abuse.
“Unlike Republicans, Democrats see the solution to rising gas prices as energy independence by 2020, not more tax breaks for the energy industry.
“And Democrats know that now – in the wake of the worst natural disaster in our history - it is not time to cut Medicaid and cut education so we can spend more on tax breaks for special interests and multi-millionaires.
“We can do better.
“Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that Katrina struck on the 29th day of August. Now, it’s the 29th day of September and this Republican-controlled Congress has yet to send a comprehensive relief package to the president’s desk.
“Last Spring, Republicans in the House and Senate moved mountains in the middle-of-the-night to intervene in one Florida family’s tragedy. But today, when thousands of displaced families are sleeping on cots, Republicans are sitting on their hands.
“A stronger America begins at home. Weeks ago, Democrats introduced the “Katrina Relief Plan” which would give families housing, health care, education and financial relief. Even though Republicans refuse to act, we won’t stop fighting to get these families the urgent relief they need.
“Together, America can do better.”
[UPDATE2: Polling on Impeachment
Does the public favor an investigation into grounds for impeachment of President Bush? We have no way of knowing, because the pollsters aren't asking. The After Downing Street coalition has begun collecting donations to hire mainstream professional pollsters to ask the questions that need to be asked. It doesn't take much money, but can have a tremendous impact. Learn more and contribute here:
[UPDATE, 1 a.m.: The email/campaign mentioned below is obsolete, being replaced by a much larger scale campaign. Check out Raw Story on Friday, the 30th (tomorrow/today) for details. This per Luke Ryland. -Thomas]
Got this email in my box today... here's the scoop: Zogby did a poll in June on whether Bush should be impeached if he mislead the nation about the reasons for going to war in Iraq. 42% of the public said "yes". At that point, Zogby indicated that he would do a follow up survey... but he hasn't done one since, and last week he said he wouldn't (interview with RAW STORY), unless someone paid him to (claims he wants to avoid losing his "neutrality").
Here's what the email says (excerpt):
If the Pro-impeachment camp can't raise the money for this, we're not much of an anti-bush movement are we? THIS would make a difference! Surely we anti-bush activists can raise $5000 or even $10000. There is no minimun donation amount, but I think most people would consider $5 affordable and reasonable. If not, whatever you can afford is fine. Shoot, if we get 5000 people to donate $2 each, or 10,000 people to donate $1, we're on our way. I already have 3 pledges of $100 and one for $50, so we've got $350 in the kitty and are off to a good start. If for any reason this effort fails and this doesn't work out, all the money donated will be returned, less the 2.9% +$0.30 cent fee that PayPal takes for business and premier accounts.
If this sounds like a concept, you can donate here (full text of email reproduced "below the fold"... click on "more").
Here's the source material:
Raw Story - Zogby responds to calls for new impeachment poll
Luke Reyland is pissed, says that Zogby is in Rove's pocket.
Full contents of original email (slightly edited):
Last week, John Zogby was interviewed and asked about doing a poll on impeaching bush (article below). He said he would not ask any questions on impeaching bush on his own initiative, that he would only do it if he is hired to do it. I called Zogby and he confirmed that he will do poll questions on Impeaching Bush and related matters if he is paid to do it.
I don't see anybody else coming forward, so it looks like it's up to us. If we don't raise the impeachment question in a poll and introduce it to the public, nobody else is going to do it. And we desperately need this kind of information out there, to get the impeachment movement rolling, to start the conversation, and to reach people who aren't involved now, maybe out of intimidation and fear, and who need some support and encouragement to stand up and speak out. Once there is one poll and it is in the public domain, more polls and more discussion will follow.
I've opened a PayPal Business account under the name Zogby Impeachment Poll. There can be several people "on" a Business account with different levels of access which I why I chose this one, so there will be checks and balances and no one will think anyone (me) is playing around with the funds. We also need a business account to accept credit cards and debit cards. (The Premier Account has the same fees, but only one person can have access.)
If the Pro-impeachment camp can't raise the money for this, we're not much of an anti-bush movement are we? THIS would make a difference! Surely we anti-bush activists can raise $5000 or even $10000. There is no minimun donation amount, but I think most people would consider $5 affordable and reasonable. If not, whatever you can afford is fine. Shoot, if we get 5000 people to donate $2 each, or10,000 people to donate $1, we're on our way. I already have 3 pledges of $100 and one for $50, so we've got $350 in the kitty and are off to a good start. If for any reason this effort fails and this doesn't work out, all the money donated will be returned, less the 2.9% +$0.30 cent fee that PayPal takes for business and premier accounts.
Please join in and contribute whatever you can, no matter how little. Every dollar counts and every dollar will help.
Here are the details of how it will work.
We could either have our own poll, if we had a lot of questions, or we could be included in what they call the "bi-monthly omnibus" with only one question or a few. We would be provided with the poll results and all the demographic breakdowns: age, religion, sex. red state/blue state, etc.
The cost is $2000 for the first question, $1000 for every additional question. (There is a discrepancy on the cost of the first question, it may only be $1000.)
We also need to have people submit the questions they would like asked. You need to take some time with this and try to phrase the questions the way poll questions are worded, so there is no implications or slanting. I have a Zogby poll, provided by Luke/Lukery who started this whole issue going that I have uploaded to the files section of Aggressive Progressives so those members can check it out. I will send the poll to any owner who wants it for the file section of their group.
I'd also like to get a website up, one that looks decent, one page is all that is necessary. I'll buy the domain name and pay for the hosting. Is there anyone out there who does web pages and would like to volunteer? (Maybe I can do it myself, but I haven't done a web page in 3 years, so I'm rusty and not up to the latest technology and I'd like it to look somewhat professional.)
I'd ideally like to raise at least $10,000 to ask an array of questions, on impeaching bush and cheney, opening a new investigation on 911, the plame case, criminal charges for Katrina, etc.
Remember the STF Rule: When Republicans accuse... Then read Blogs for Bush: Do the Democrats Want a Civil War? and the supportive comments the post intended to evoke. (Also note that anyone disagreeing is banned from the site.)
Update - To illustrate the mindset - from some of the comments:
"The Democrats, a party that has mutated into a totally unrecognizable form of its past self want one thing . . . Power. That alone is not unusual but in their case they are willing to achieve power through deceit, deception, and even forceful revolution. Take a close look at the people leading the antiwar protests; they are constituents of the Democrats. It's time to stop fooling ourselves; this mutant form of a once proud political party is a danger to the Republic and what it stands for."
"we must find out as much dirt as we can on the this sorry prosectuor."
"Donks are the ones who upgraded the judicial fight to filibusters for any nominee whose views they didn't like - not Republicans."
"Civil war? Interesting view, since the democrats are against the 2nd ammendment. Then logically they are not armed as we are. Are they trying to go to a rifle fight with a pen? The reality is that they are armed as well, I know several democrats that hunt. They aren't armed as well as most Faithfull hunters though. The democrats that I know who hunt do it in those ranches for the trophy, you know where the game doesn't have a fair chance. But if they are itching for a civil war then so be their demise. I personally think they are after a racial war myself."
"You know the thought of civil war is scary and yet I sometimes find myself wishing for it. Theres no doubt in my mind who would win and as it doesnt seem that the LLL is capable of rational thought...it may be inevitable. The cost would be terrible but the Carthaginian's didnt like it when the Roman's kicked their butts either. We all are victims of our time in history...you either rise to the occasion or get buried. LLL's generally are cowards and I guess I'm tired of all the BS...if enevitable lets get it over with. It's wabbit season....heh heh heh heh heh."
"Civil war? Sounds good to me."
September 28, 2005
Senatoe Democratic Leader Harry Reid has a new blog, Give 'Em Hell Harry.
I participated in a conference call with Senator Reid yesterday and will write about it as soon as I can.
I'm breaking away from my "day job" to bring you the news that U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted for conspiracy and is leaving his leadership post (but not the Congress).
DeLay Is Indicted in Texas Campaign Finance Probe,
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that likely will force him to step down as House majority leader.Who is next? Abramoff is already indicted. Will it be Grover Norquist? Ralph Reed? Karl Rove? That's the group that controls the "conservative movement."
"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader," Representative Tom DeLay said.
DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.
September 26, 2005
From a list I'm on:
"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do
it, but God did." -- Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.), as quoted in The Wall
"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in
Texas. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were
underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is
working very well for them." -- Barbara Bush, as quoted by the American
Public Media's "Marketplace" program.
"Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" -- GOP Majority
Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas), while visiting child refugees from New
Orleans at the Houston Astrodome.
The Republican Party appears to be run by ideological nitwits bent on using any excuse possible to push their agenda of eliminating federal programs and services that serve anyone other than rich people and business (or function as political pork). The vast majority of Americans support programs like Medicare, federal assistance for college, the CDC, AIDS prevention, etc. etc. These twits need to be send packing, they need to be shown up for the fringe nutcakes they are - every last one of them, just about. Note the "war" language, too - these guys clearly don't get it. The era of a "war on government" (hell, a "war" on anything, at this point) is over. The American people want effective government that serves the interest of the broad mass of the people.
The Republican proposal, titled "Operation Offset," was authored by the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 influential members of Congress, including powerful committee chairs and members of the Republican leadership.
Here are just some of the most egregious cuts:
* $225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
* $200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
* $25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
* $6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
* $7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
* $5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
* $3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
* $8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
* $2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
* $2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
* $417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
* $4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program
The Democrats need to pound the (bleep!) out of the Republicans with this, in 2006 and 2008.
Again, I see TV commercials, so many of them that viewers can recite them by heart, inescapable...
Images of Katrina disaster victims, white and black, in New Orleans and Mississippi - esp. folks on the highway overpass. Images of Houston evacues, stalled on the highway. Portentous music, like that on CSI.
"In the face of national disaster, what was the Republican Party's response? Budget cuts."
Flash a picture of the collapsed N.O. leevee.
"Over 100 Republican leaders in Congress proposed cutting or completely eliminating funding for Medicare, student loans for college, the Center for Disease Control, even drug use prevention programs for schools."
Hmm... not sure how exactly to put it over, but you get the idea...
An e-mail I received:
Donald Rumsfeld is giving the President his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"
His staff sits in stunned silence--shocked at this uncharacteristic display of emotion--nervously watching as the President sits slumped in his chair with his head in his hands.
Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"
Everything at Presstitutes is good today.
Josh Marshall neatlysums up what my own research has been pointing to.
The Republican machine built by DeLay, Norquist, Abramoff, et al. and pulled into high gear after 2001, is a pay-for-play political machine. This is just another part of the operation, like the diktat for trade associations to hire only Republicans. Big political machines need their soldiers taken care of -- jobs on K Street which also discipline the trade associations under Hill leadership. Just so, they need big sums of money to move around off the books. How does Rove keep the millions moving to Norquist? To Reed? To all the other operatives whose names you don't know about?The Republican Party has become an extortion racket. If you pay in you get lots back - from the taxpayers. If you don't they crush you. Government and policy and things like that are not part of the equation. Ideology is only a cover for looting the treasury. It's a cirrupt corporate takeover play, nothing more.
As expected, the rumors about massive violence in flooded New Orleans were highly exaggerated at best, and completely false at worst.
It doesn't make any difference, though. The people who want to believe those stories will believe them forever, and as long as people believe the stories, everyone who needs an excuse has one readymade.
Sure -- some of those stories came from Democrats, and some of those Democrats were black. There's enough blame to go around. My guess is that in the end Blanco, Nagin, and Bush will all get together and cover for one another, and the whole episode will be forgotten.
Bush's "war" in Iraq has produced a "new" nation-state that is, in every way, less safe and less secure for women and religious minorities.
The Mandeans, non-Christian followers, believe it or not, of St. John the Baptist are facing physical and cultural annihilation as a result of the chaos and empowerment of Islamic radicals precipitated by Duyba's dubious invasion.
The next time you're on a right-wing blog - especially one with religious conservatives on it, ask those folks if they're happy with the idea that George Bush's invasion has produced an Islamic state where it is not safe to be a Christian.
If the Christian right, at the grassroots, woke up and realized that George Bush and the Republican Party are facilitating the extermination of Christianity in Iraq (a 2000 year tradition) and the takeover of the country, without even a shot being fired, by Islamic conservatives who favor the imposition of Islamic law on everyone, it could be the death knell of the Republican Party... the Christian Right might very well stay home, or defect in mass to an isolationist party (like the Constitution Party).
The Democrats should pound the bleep out of the Republicans with this, day and night, in 2006. TV Commercials, day and night, with pictures of sobbing Christians "the Islamic fundamentalist radicals broke into our house and killed my father and brother, life was bad under Hussein, but now it is much worse under Bush", frightened women "I can't walk on the street, even during the day, even accompanied by my husband, without fearing for my safety - and God forbid that I expose my hair and let them know I'm not a Muslim", the after math of bombings "The radicals, they come, they terrorize everyone... they just melt away when the American and Iraqi soldiers sweep through the town, and a day later, they are back, and worse than ever." Excerpts from the Iraqi constitution, from press articles, statements by Muslim clericals, "Iraq is an Islamic nation." Quotes from Iranian diplomats and Iraqi politicians about the close relationship between the two countries.
September 23, 2005
A reminder of Bush's "not drinking" as recently as 1992. (He says he quit in 86.)
The House voted Thursday to let Head Start centers consider religion when hiring workers, overshadowing its moves to strengthen the preschool program's academics and finances.No Jews need apply.
The Republican-led House approved a bill that lets churches and other faith-based preschool centers hire only people who share their religion, yet still receive federal tax dollars.
Percentage of New Orleans residents living below the poverty level in 2003: 20.8The rest is at the link.
Rank of New Orleans among the American cities with the highest rate of poverty: 17
Ratio of African-American households in New Orleans that did not have access to a car in 2000: 1 to 3
Percentage of evacuees in Houston shelters who had not heard about the evacuation order before the hurricane hit: 25
WASHINGTON -- The government wants to stop forcing companies to report small releases of toxic pollutants and allow them to submit reports on their pollution less frequently.Just like what we have learned about FEMA, the EPA is probably staffed entirely with Republican Party campaign hacks who are pocketing money from companies seeking breaks.
Saying it wants to ease its regulatory burden on companies, the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday proposed adopting a ''short form" that would excuse companies from disclosing spills and other releases of toxic substances if:
They say they release fewer than 5,000 pounds of a specific chemical. The current limit is 500 pounds.
[. . .] EPA said it also plans to ask Congress for permission to require the accounting every other year instead of annually. [emphasis added]
Do any of the readers have children or care about your own health? Then you HAVE TO get involved in getting these people out of office!!
FEMA had contracted out the job of arranging transportation for the evacuation of New Orleans to a Republican Party-connected outfit. That company completely flubbed the job. So they get new, huge contracts following Katrina.
Through Atrios, Chicago Tribune | Offer of buses fell between the cracks. From the story:
...eventually learned that the job of extracting tens of thousands of residents from flooded New Orleans wasn't being handled by FEMA at all.So it's not just that The Party purged FEMA of competent professionals and replaced them with Party hacks; they turned the agency's money over to the Party as well as the jobs.
Instead the agency had farmed the work out to a trucking logistics firm, Landstar Express America, which in turn hired a limousine company, which in turn engaged a travel management company.
[. . .]In a regulatory filing last week, Landstar Express said it has received government orders worth at least $125 million for Katrina-related work. It's not known how much of that total pertains to the bus evacuation.
Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.
[. . .] Whatever happens likely will be good for Landstar's bottom line. Landstar's regulatory filing also said that because of Hurricane Katrina, the maximum annual value of its government contract for disaster relief services has been increased to $400 million.
Here's the question: How much of our government has been turned over to Republican Party cronies? How much of our taxpayer money is being fed into this circle of corruption/camaign contributions?
September 22, 2005
... is breaking out at Left I on the News
Among the functions included in TiVo's latest software upgrade is the ability to allow broadcasters to erase material recorded by TiVo's 3.6 million users after a certain date. That ability was demonstrated recently when some TiVo customers complained on TiVo community sites that episodes of "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill" they recorded were "red-flagged" for deletion by the copyright holder.Tivo has to decide who to serve -- their customers or the entertainment industry. If they can get the entertainment industry to pay them enough to compensate for losing all their customers, great. Otherwise...
[. . .] skeptics among TiVo users questioned why TiVo would own such a technology unless the company planned to one day use it.
[. . .] "TiVo would be of limited utility in the future if the studios were allowed to do this with regular broadcast content," Haughey said. "This is like cell-phone jammers. What if you couldn't talk on your cell phone? If customers can't do something with their TiVo that they could in the past, they will stop using it."
For one reason or another, Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and Bill Frist are all in serious trouble with prosecutors. Together with Bush's Iraq / Katrina troubles, this could mark the end of the Bush administration's rearward progress.
So maybe the checks and balances are working. But (as in Watergate and Iran-Contra) the legal system is being called in now to compensate for the failures of the electoral system.
Thank God for the separation of powers! But if this works, it will be a triumph of constitutionalism, not of democracy. When Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II were each elected twice, democracy failed.
Some background on the lobbying scheme, in Welcome to the Machine.
And, as you follow this, remember that it even involves a murder. (Remember how the Republicans liked to accuse Clinton of murder? and here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,here, here, here, etc.)
The coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award goes to Oliver Willis.
September 21, 2005
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.True? We report, you decide.
Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.
Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.
His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
[. . .] A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him — but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months.
This might be a false alarm. There are some signs that human-to-human bird flu might be breaking out in Indonesia. I hope Katrina woke the Bush administration up. They should be turning back all flights from Indonesia, and working to get Indonesia to close its airports and other ports of exit and entry.
Places to get info:
September 20, 2005
I was curious which Senate Democrats might have supported the nomination of newly-indicted Abramoff/Norquist co-conspirator David Safavarian to be Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy. (See Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe.) A Thomas inquiry shows the following:
NOMINATION: PN1238-108 DATE RECEIVED: January 22, 2004There you have it, confirmed by voice vote on my birthday, 2004. No fingerprints.
David Safavian, of Michigan, to be Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, vice Angela Styles.
REFERRED TO: Senate Governmental Affairs
REPORTED BY: Senate Governmental Affairs
Committee Action: April 29, 2004 - Committees on Governmental Affairs. Hearings held. Hearings printed: S.Hrg. 108-549.
Floor Action: January 22, 2004 - Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Committee Action: June 02, 2004 - Committee on Governmental Affairs. Ordered to be reported favorably.
Floor Action: June 02, 2004 - Reported by Senator Collins, Committee on Governmental Affairs, without printed report.
Floor Action: June 02, 2004 - Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 699. Subject to nominee's commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.
Floor Action: November 21, 2004 - Confirmed by the Senate by Voice Vote.
ORGANIZATION: Executive Office of the President
CONTROL NUMBER: 108PN0123800
But there was one (temporary) hero. In Senate confirms federal procurement chief,
But following a Senate Governmental Affairs committee confirmation hearing in late April and the panel's approval of Safavian in June, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va, placed a hold on the nomination, delaying a full Senate vote.Except for this:
Byrd lifted that hold later in the summer after meeting with Safavian.
This piece shows the news programs scuttling back to Republican orthodoxy after their brief episode of honest Katrina reporting. It also lists the Republican owners of the major broadcast media, of whom Fox's Rupert Murdoch is only the most vivid.
Media political coverage is guided neither by the principles of honest journalism nor by audience demand. It's mostly governed by the owners' and advertisers' desire for deregulation and low taxes. News departments have been trimmed down in order to make them more profitable, and they do pander to the lowest common denominator in order to get bigger audiences, but controlling the political debate is also a major goal.
As I've said many times before, a new national media, across the board, is our only hope. The national media we have now are playing for the other team.
September 19, 2005
I endorse what Chris says in MyDD :: Complicity Doesn't "Keep Your Powder Dry",
If Democrats are unhappy with, but vote for, a stealth nominee with a miniscule record of actual rulings, who refused to answer any questions during his hearings, and who claims that everything he wrote and did in the past reflected the views of his clients and bosses rather than his own views, then how are they ever going to oppose these characteristics in any nominee in the future? If Democrats vote for Roberts, they will make it clear that they sanction the Bush administration to propose someone for O'Conner's seat who also doesn't have to have an actual record, and who also doesn't have to answer questions.If Roberts wasn't a "conservative movement" insider Bush would not have nominated him. His work with the Federalist Society should be seen the same way working with the KKK would be seen, for many of the same reasons. Iran/Contra prosecutor Walsh, on the Federalist Society:
"It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party," Walsh wrote. [For details, see Walsh's Firewall.]
Washington Democrats, how can you still not understand what the "conservative movement" is about? This is NOT normal times; these are NOT normal Republicans; this is NOT "politics as usual." Al Gore voted to confirm Scalia to the Supreme Court. Think about that. Think about Scalia's role in appointing Bush to the Presidency. It could be YOU next.
Following is an e-mail that is circulating. This came from a friend who got it from a friend who works at a major defense contractor.
This is how they do it. Read between the lines. This is a series of propaganda points reinforcing a long-term strategic narrative ("government is bad") disguised as humor. This stuff works.
Subject: humor - responsesI suspect this originated in a Washington-based "conservative movement" think tank because of references to the initials of agencies, knowing what NOAA does, insider joke about the FDA drug approval process, throwing in a reference to the evils of gun registration... Also note the dig at the CIA - you didn't used to see something like that.
How various governmental entities might have responded to hurricane Katrina...
US Postal Service - Takes two weeks to deliver supplies to New Orleans; 10% of the supplies are lost. Nevertheless, demands that no private firm be allowed to deliver supplies. Recipients must wait in line for hours at a few inconvenient offices to receive their supplies. A few postal workers fire guns at recipients. Asks for a postage increase.
NASA - Evacuates New Orleans for two years while they study the problem. Eventually, rebuilds the levees exactly as before, but installs a network of television cameras to watch the levees. As soon as the city is repopulated, the levees leak again. Asks for more money.
FDA - Same as NASA, except 10 years, no television cameras, and when the levees leak, sues the levee manufacturer and demands that all cities with levees be closed.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) - Requires all evacuees to pass through a metal detector and remove their shoes for inspection. Evacuees without shoes, not covered by regulations, are required to stay in the city. Maintains a secret "no-evacuate" list. Asks for more money.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) - Surrounds New Orleans with snipers and shoots anyone attempting to escape. Eventually requests military support to bomb the city with napalm. Afterwards finds some unregistered firearms in the rubble; officially exonerated for its actions. Asks for more money.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - lobby to create "Cindy Lou", the Catrina National Disaster Loan Unit (CNDLU), specializing in zero-down-payment, below-prime loans to homes likely to be destroyed in five years or less. In ten years, amasses a portfolio of $500 billion in loans. Insists it doesn't need a bailout.
Child Protective Services (CPS) - removes all the children of New Orleans from their parents, on the grounds that their parents are unable to provide a safe and clean home. Relocates the children to foster homes in Baghdad. Asks for payment for each child relocated.
CIA - Sends covert operatives to 20 other American cities to report on the water level. Concludes that there is no flood risk. Asks that its budget be secretly increased.
Congress - Holds six months of hearings to investigate the problem, finally placing blame on some low-level staff workers at the NOAA. Passes new legislation banning hurricanes from entering the continental U.S. Votes itself a pay raise.
Supreme Court - Concludes that hurricanes are an Act of God, and by a 5-4 vote, bans them from federal property and public schools. The dissenting opinion holds that it should be up to the states to decide if they want hurricanes in their schools.
FEMA - See Postal Service.
Is this a sign of what's coming? Bush's Katrina response proves that government is bad...?
Peter Daou at Salon has a great post up about the strategy the netroots should take visavis the Republicans, the Democratic Party and the media. I heartily concur.
In his comments I threw in a couple of my own (and Dave's) ideas: the need for a media infrastructure comparable to the conservative media infrastructure, and the need for new national media of all kinds. (Air America is only a small start).
I also linked to my recent "net tabloid" post. I'm not personally able to follow any of this up right now, but I though I'd throw the idea out there again.
September 17, 2005
To jump-start the recovery, the president said the federal government will create a "Gulf Opportunity Zone," encompassing the region damaged by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Within the zone, small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, will get tax relief and be guaranteed loans, and companies that create jobs will be eligible for tax incentives.Now hold on a minute. He's going to encourage employers all around the country to fire their employees and move to the Gulf Coast where they won't have to pay taxes and can pay peanuts? And I want to support that because ... ?
September 16, 2005
Read about it over at Crooks and Liars. Includes Time Warner (CNN's owner) aligning itself with the Tom DeLay machine by iring DeLay's Chief of Staff.
The brazenness of the Republican PR machine is almost impossible to describe.
After years passing out pork and presiding over the highest deficits in American history, for example, Tom Delay has just declared victory in the budget wars -- claiming that the Republicans have finally cut out all the fat.
So now Karl Rove will be free to throw as much money at the Gulf Coast as he wants to, in order to advance the Republican campign operation he's headed for so long.
FEMA, of course, was managed entirely by campaign operatives, which accounts for its enormous success with Hurricane Katrina. ("Brownie" was a campaign operative, but there were many others; for two examples, look here and here.)
DHS and FEMA have operated primarily as PR organizations from the very beginning of the Bush Administration. Katrina was a little glitch in the operation, so the biggest PR expert of them all, Karl Rove, was sent in as fixer.
And it might work. If it does, that means that there's no reality outside PR, so that democracy has been neutralized. The voters are willing to put up with anything whatsover, and are no longer a factor in the political equation.
Finger-pointing might be all we can do. The actual villains (ideologues, grafters, religious fanatics, and mercenaries) are primarily to blame, of course, but the two groups I'll never be able to forgive are the "moderate Republicans and rational conservatives" who voted for Bush twice, and the media people who have been enabling the Bush-Rove lies -- and that's almost all of them, starting with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Donald Graham.
World leaders at the summit had been asked to speak for five minutes but Chavez ran long and when the presiding diplomat passed him a note saying his time was up, he threw it on the floor. He said if Bush could speak for 20 minutes, so could he.
When he finally stopped, he got what observers said was the loudest applause of the summit.
Part of the narrative about Democrats is that they overspend taxpayer money. So let's take a look. Here is a chart of federal spending increases under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. Clinton budget years are in yellow. (Remember that Republicans complained that the 1993 budget was retroactive.) Also, note Clinton spending before and after Republicans took control of the Congress.
(Click for larger image)
Data obtained from the spreadsheet SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS, AND SURPLUSES OR DEFICITS(−) ... IN CONSTANT (FY 2000) DOLLARS available at Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2005.
(This post inspired in reaction to comments at this Political Animal post.)
Bilmon has a devastating critique of the structural failulre and incompetence of why the entire line of reactionary conservatism from Nixon to Bush is a policy failure at the most fundamental level.
But the Reagan administration also wasn't the first GOP team to try to bring the federal beast to heel. While I was on the "govvie" beat, I came across a book called The Plot that Failed: Nixon and the Administrative Presidency, which recounted Tricky Dick's efforts to neuter his cabinet and gain direct control over the bureaucracy. This struggle took various forms -- including the creation of OMB, upstaging cabinet secretaries (like Kissinger's end runs around the State of State Bill Rodgers), inserting Nixon loyalists in key subcabinet postitions, and impounding appropriated funds (to show the agencies they couldn't cut their own deals with Congress.)
Here's a blast from the past that is a real kicker:
DiIulio's letter to Ron Suskind, which became the basis for a revealing piece in Esquire magazine, is worth rereading now:In eight months, I heard many, many staff discussions, but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical, non-stop, 20-hour-a-day White House staff. Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but, on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking -- discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue.
. . . This gave rise to what you might call Mayberry Machiavellis -- staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible. These folks have their predecessors in previous administrations (left and right, Democrat and Republican), but, in the Bush administration, they were particularly unfettered.
A convoy of volunteers put together by KPFK and The Vietnam Vets For Peace is leaving today for New Orleans and I'm going with them. Here are the details on The Caravan Of Hope.
The Caravan of Hope will leave on September 16 to deliver vital necessities of life to communities and organizations working on the ground in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
KPFK is collaborating with Veterans For Peace - Orange County Chapter, Remedy – Long Beach, Christ Unity Center – LA, South West Voter Registration, SOS "Save Our Selves" and others to organize this relief effort
Veterans For Peace in cooperation with the Anaheim Union School District and 40,000 students are collecting needed food and essentials for the displaced families and individuals. KPFK’s GM Eva Georgia will also take part in the caravan to New Orleans and help with the distribution of aid.
We will be driving straight through and arriving sometime late Saturday. I will be posting as time, events and internet connections permit. Stay tuned to Seeing the Forest for regular updates.
September 15, 2005
The president's popularity dipped into the low 40s, and they passed the energy bill anyway -- what more proof do you need that the president's poll numbers hardly matter, if you control the instutions? Before Katrina, they were on the verge of permanent repeal of the estate tax plus another tax cut in reconciliation, even with Bush's numbers in the toilet!WHat is the Progressive long-term strategic plan to take the country back?
That's why I didn't fully accept Garance's argument last week that they aren't really PR geniuses because of the poll numbers -- they don't need the poll numbers until they need the poll numbers, and when they need them, they figure they can find a way to push them up a bit and/or push the relevant Democrats down.
Hat tip to Tim Grieve at Salon Did The Wrong Guy Resign? (view 30 second ad for day pass)
Michael Brown stepped down as the director of FEMA Monday, but a new report from Knight Ridder walks responsibility for the Katrina debacle a little bit higher up the chain of command. While Brown has taken much of the blame for the federal government's slow response in New Orleans, Knight Ridder says that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff failed to give Brown the authority he needed to mobilize a massive federal response to Katrina until 36 hours after the storm struck land.
Who had the authority in the meantime? Michael Chertoff.
Chertoff had the authority and responsibility to declare Katrina an *incident of national significance.*
An updated timeline from Think Progress has a request from the Louisiana National Guard on Sunday, the 28th for 700 buses.
On Monday, Chertoff was still discussing immigration with Bush.
While Gov. Blanco was requesting assistance to evacuate the Superdome, Chertoff was putting together a task force.
Anne Applebaum is the Washington Post's version of Nicholas Kristoff -- she counts as a liberal because she's not a movement conservative, but she's the kind of token liberal who feels obligated to balance every liberal piece with a contrarian anti-liberal piece.
She outdid herself just now. To her, the message of the New Orleans disaster is that the private sector outperforms the public sector.
In other words, Grover Norquist's boy is President now, and Grover Norquist's boy fucked up royally. And this proves that Norquist was right all along -- government is just no damn good.
Many of us have suspected all along that the Bush administration is deliberately sabotaging the government they were elected to run, but Applebaum is the first non-wacko writer to swallow the bait hook, line, and sinker.
It's the same old message -- big government liberalism is dead. But Louisiana Democrats are not big government liberals either. They're low-tax, low-service conservatives, totally controlled by oil and other special interests and famous for their corruption.
Note that Applebaum was only talking about immediate disaster relief, where bake sales and private charity supplemented the weak government efforts. One doubts that bake sales will raise enough to rebuild New Orleans, but the anti-government ideologues Applebaum is pandering to have already suggested that New Orleans shouldn't be rebuilt at all.
Here's the liberal part of what she said:
"I'm not calling for the abolition of FEMA, and I certainly think there's a role for government in disaster and evacuation planning."I'm glad she cleared that up.
UPDATE: Bush's actual response to Katrina, managed by Karl Rove, will probably end up being the biggest porkbarrel handout in human history. This time Anne certainly zigged where she should have zagged -- her attempt to suck up to the Republicans made the mistake of assuming that the Republicans are not complete opportunists, but have core political principles of some kind.
September 14, 2005
Talk about kicking 'em while they're down... The administration's mind-numbing obliviousness in responding to Katrina extends all the way down to its web developers and their managers. Turns out you can't even apply for FEMA aid online unless running Internet Explorer 6 under Windows.
[. . .] This is right in step with the copyright office's recent move to limit applicants' choice of browsers.
The headlines frame it in the Right's preferred language: Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional and Judge rules Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and Federal judge declares Pledge unconstitutional and Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional.
The right-wing blogs are in a frenzy:
This action reveals that his ultimate goal is not to “protect” freedom of religion, but to purge religion from America.Update - California Conservative notes in the comments: "As for the quote you reference, it's taken out of context. Our statement was made in regards to the fact that Mr. Newdow did not just sue to get rid of the pledge, but also tried to "purge" any oath or prayer from the Presidential Inauguration."
Part-Time Pundit gives the judge's phone number.
Patriots for Bush: Liberal Activist Judge Bans Patriotism
In order to be constitutional, the phrase “under God” must be able to refer to the deity of Hindus, Wiccans, Buddhists, pagans, or any other religion. Since we can’t claim, as Paul did on Mars Hill, that the “unknown god” we are referring to is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, should Christian’s fight to preserve the “Divinity” of our country’s civil religion?MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: One step closer to the abolition of America
Only in San Francisco will a judge spread his hate for American values imposing his own will on the rest of the country.La Shawn Barber:
The government school system is hopelessly lost. Focus on making sacrifices to homeschool your children and teach them biblical values, how to be decent people and good citizens. Let the deviants wallow in the muck they created.The Political Teen:
The deal here isn’t just the small amount of atheists in America, but the fact that they have to punish everyone for something they don’t believe in.
Just to be clear, this is about whether the government can force kids to say the pledge in schools as it is currently amended with the "under God" wording, not about whether people in general are allowed to recite it.
This is about big government forcing people to think a certain way, vs. liberty and freedom from governmentally imposed behaviour. If the so-called "conservatives" were actually conservative, and actually meant the things they say, they would applaud this decision. Instead they want to increase government power and use it to impose a particular belief system on the rest of us.
Tape? What's he got against TAPE?
Update - Oh. Never mind.
More than two dozen expiring tax cuts are competing for inclusion in the $70 billion package, including extension of the dividend tax break that was created in 2003. Other tax cuts include a research credit worth $5 billion annually for companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co. and a temporary measure limiting the reach of the alternative minimum tax.
September 13, 2005
Accolo, the hot job placement firm that produced the takeoff of the Paris Hilton hambuger ad is at it again. They have posted a real application form for a Supreme Court Justice on their job site with some great questions the American people want to ask. Any one can apply, but they will foward filled out applications from judges, lawyers and law professors to the President and the Judiciary Committee for consideration. John Younger, President of Acollo is doing this as a public service...he feels that one of the most important jobs in the American government should be democratically open to anyone, and is using his placement agency as the peoples' employment agency.
Title: United States Supreme Court Justice - Apply your Serenity, Courage and Wisdom
Job Id: SUPR-CRTJT
Strength of character, historical perspective, rhetorical flair, and a willingness to stand on principle come naturally to you. Your keen intellect, deep understanding of the most complex legal issues, communication skills, demonstrated ability to make informed decisions and writing acumen will serve you well in this high profile position. Step up to the opportunity of a lifetime as you mold the fundamental legal principles of the United States during a time of great volatility.
The United States Federal Government offers competitive salary and benefits. In addition to completing this application, the selection process includes being nominated by the President and receiving Senate confirmation.
You read legal doctrines for fun and shine in legal and political careers. Your endless barbeque debates about civil rights, race relations, criminal procedure, freedom of speech and press, and church-state relations regularly make you the center of attention. While this job has no formal requirements, previous top-performers have been natural-born citizens with significant judicial experience. In the last 200 years, all selected candidates have been lawyers. Most were current or previous members of Congress, governors, members of the Cabinet, attorneys, law professors or judges in the United States court system. Impress your friends, influence your neighbors and apply your in-depth legal experience as a United States Supreme Court Justice. See the appliction below and then click on their site for some very insightful and amusing questions.
Accolo is supporting the effort to fill this job as part of our civic duty in an unofficial capacity. Americans value choice and opportunity, so this is your chance to be considered even if you are not currently part of the President's inner circle. Serious candidates will be forwarded to President Bush and select members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In 1997 Grand Forks N.D. was virtually destroyed by a flood. The federal response was much superior to that in New Orleans. Two differences (take your pick): Bill Clinton was president instead of Bush, and Grand Forks is very, very white.
The Grand Forks flood is the nearest recent analogue to the New Orleans flood, and it's a mark of the institutionalized stupidity of the US media that this comparison didn't pop up everywhere on the first day.
The claim that the weak federal response to the hurricane was primarily the result of criminal violence is gathering speed. This link points out that the factual basis for this claim is still very weak. Stay tuned.
Usually, in cases of this kind, the lie isn't exposed until the issue has been effectively decided and is now "yesterday's news". The WMD in Iraq were just one example among many. (UPDATE: One particular category of rumor, about violence by evacuees, is fully debunked here.)
While David Jamison, the new FEMA leader, is not quite the useless hack that "Brownie" was, his main claim to fame so far is the idea that people should protect themselves from bioterrorism with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
The CNN story names DHS's Chretoff, Gov. Blanco, and Mayor Nagin. George W. Bush looks good when he is quoted "taking responsibility" for the federal government response, but the story makes no mention of the possibility that Bush might really be substantially to blame.
(The below is an edited version of a comment I made on Brad DeLong.)
What I've repeatedly seen during the long debate about journalism is that journalists think of their failures and crimes as a kind of professionalism which laymen are unable to understand.
Every profession commits its members to resisting client demands when they are in violation of established professional standards. In some cases this means avoiding fraudulent legal practice and voodoo medicine, and in other cases it means a self-interested professional solidarity against the outside world. But elite experts always have a feeling of "us vs. them".
Outsiders believe that "he-said / she-said" impartiality (and stovepiping insider lies) are intolerable corruptions, whereas journalistic insiders believe that these are noble professional standards. They are proud of what they do. To themselves they're no different than academic economists resisting popular opinion and instead insisting on "thinking like an economist".
The reward structure of the profession supports them in their belief. Excessively accurate reporters get fired (Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry being only two of the most distinguished examples) whereas someone like Judith Miller is given full autonomy and blind support in whatever she does.
The people responsible for hiring and promotion are management. The Rev. Moon, Richard Scaife, Rupert Murdoch, Jack Welch, Donald Graham, Arthur Sulzberger, together with a number of nearly-anonymous figures of that type, control the information the American people get, and actively enable the likes of George W. Bush. It's stupid to blame individual reporters and editorialists.
Liberals think that Sulzberger and Graham don't belong on that list, but liberals are wrong. They're like peasants who believe that the Czar is better than his ministers. Sulzberger and Graham have gone over to the dark side.
Liberals can't admit this because they'd have to admit that Chomsky and Nader were right all along, and that the Democrats destroyed themselves by refusing to listen.
September 12, 2005
By sheer coincidence, I ran across a t-shirt I bought at Earth Day in 1990 (or thereabouts) just the other day. It is turquoise, with a the question "Where was George?" (in this case, Bush Sr.) blazoned across the fron in red and white stripes. At this point, sixteen years later, I have no idea what self-evident event the original creator was referencing, but when I saw it, the question seemed rather prescient. Here's a posting to an email list I'm on (Dave Farber's Interesting People) that provides an answer (email addresses deleted):
From: Rich Kulawiec
Date: September 12, 2005 8:11:26 AM EDT
To: David Farber
Subject: Katrina event timelines
(for IP, if you wish)
Thanks to BoingBoing ( http://boingboing.net/ ) I've found these
two instructive resources:
Think Progress - KATRINA TIMELINE
The Angry Panda Wiki | Topics / Hurricane Katrina Timeline
After working through them, I've come up with an answer to
"where were our leaders while this was going on?":
Aug 27: Bush on vacation in TX.
Aug 27: Cheney on vacation in WY.
Aug 28: Bush on vacation in TX.
Aug 28: Cheney on vacation in WY.
Aug 29: Bush to AZ to give speech. Back to TX.
Aug 29: Cheney on vacation in WY.
Aug 30: Bush to CA to give speech. Back to TX.
Aug 30: Cheney on vacation in WY.
Aug 31: Rice in NYC at "Spamalot" musical.
Aug 31: Bush to DC.
Aug 31: Cheney on vacation in WY.
Sep 1: Rice in NYC, plays tennis, shops for shoes in Manhattan.
Sep 1: Cheney to DC.
According to the DOE, existing stocks of gasoline are already below the normal range for this time of year. See the following graph: ... Drawing down gasoline stocks too far carries the risk of prolonging the period of record gas prices. Importing refined products reduces the supply elsewhere, especially in Europe. According to the Daily Record, UK's Gordon Brown warned yesterday that 'Hurricane Katrina could sweep Europe into recession'.Go to the original for graphs and links.
[. . .] Where does this leave the US? It is critical that the four 'out of commission' refineries return to operation as soon as possible. But even more important, the US needs to reduce demand for gasoline consistently, by 5% or more, until the refineries are back in operation. Perhaps the record high prices will suffice, but I believe this is a situation that calls for leadership - something sorely lacking in the US - and a call for conservation on the part of all Americans for the next few weeks or months (and why not years?).
The leadership vacuum didn't stop at FEMA, and the resuting damage gets worse.
There is a drive in New Orleans to demand proper treatment from FEMA, and temporary housing for people.
A message (video clip) from Ernst Johnson of the New Orleans NAACP.
September 11, 2005
September 10, 2005
From Nathan Newman at The House of Labor over at TPM Café, It’s Politics Now
With tens of billions now flowing from the government towards Bush's business cronies for supposed reconstruction of the Gulf Coast-- stripped of any requirement to pay people decent wages -- progressives have to stop treating all this as humanitarian relief and recognize it's now about political control of the money.
The Bush administration sure recognizes that.
And the only people who will have the moral power to fight the corporate looting of reconstruction money are going to be well-established organizations on the ground, able to mobilize poor families there as well.
Newman recommends that a good place to start is ACORN, nationally based in New Orleans, which is mobilizing poor families to demand fair treatment and decent wages in the aftermath.
Southern Empowerment Project. (links to a range of worthy local groups)
I just finished watching as much hurricane coverage as I could stand. A lot of it is down to the cute kids and pets level by now, but CNN just put out a full hour which seems to consist entirely of state, local, and federal officials explaining that a totally unforeseen "breakdown of social order" was the big problem in New Orleans.
As several people have said in the last few days, Katrina has mostly been dealt with either as a PR problem for the various jurisdictions, or else as a law and order problem to be dealt with by police methods. After a flurry of pretty good journalism during the heat of the action, a look at Google News seems to show that the progression to the business-as-usual regurgitation of the Bush Administration cover story (lawless elements, plus ineffectual state and local government) seems well under way.
Stay tuned -- maybe I'm wrong. Bush's poll numbers are low right now, but only time will tell us whether people really have turned on Bush, or whether what we see is just a fluctuation.
"We are close -- terrifyingly so -- to an explicit ruling that the AUMF repeals all Constitutional restraints in the face of a declaration by the executive that a person is contemplating an act of terror."
"As I like to say, these days Americans make a living by selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from China." -- Paul Krugman (NY Times, login may be required)
We absolutely must insist that every former resident of New Orleans be entitled to return, and be given the housing and financial and employment support to do so. ... and that all residents of New Orleans have a seat at the table when discussing the reconstruction of the city, and that the structures of reconstruction require consensus, inclusivity, and the consent of the governed. If that means we have to pay poor people to participate in the process, that we have to pay professional outreach workers to bring them into the process and get them to turn out to meetings, etc. etc. then this must be done. We cannot let New Orleans be reconstructed by an elite (of any color), the reconstruction must be driven from the grassroots.
I'm away at a trade show in Indianapolis, but found a Starbucks for a few minutes online.
Bush immediately took advantage of the Katrina tragedy to boost the Republican Party corporate agenda. Two days ago: Bush allows contractors to pay lower wages
G.O.P. Sees Opportunities Arising From Storm,
Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools, paying churches to help with temporary housing and scaling back business regulation.
[. . .] "...FEMA says they can't reimburse faith-based organizations," Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said... Mr. DeLay ... added that Congress should also allow students displaced by the hurricane to use vouchers to pay for tuition at private schools. Conservatives have championed school vouchers for decades.
[. . .] Republican lawmakers and administration officials are contemplating tax cuts intended to draw companies and workers back to New Orleans, regulatory changes to speed the expansion of oil refineries and scores of smaller changes to improve the recovery.
September 8, 2005
Saturday, September 10th will see the grand opening of my brother’s coffeeshop, the Bipartisan Café, at 7901 S.E. Stark Street, Portland, Oregon (503.253.1051). It’s located in a not-yet-yuppified working-class neighborhood (Montavilla) which is more or less adjacent to two of the hippest places in the universe (NE Mississippi Avenue / SE Division Street).
Laura Gibson plays at 6 pm, my son’s band Amelia plays at 7 pm.
The Bipartisan Café is child-friendly and is open seven days a week, featuring Stumptown coffee, soup, sandwiches, and homemade pie. Peter hopes that it will become a neighborhood gathering place with a non-Republican slant. (Peter and I mostly agree politically, but he does not have my harsh nature).
If you’re in Portland, stop on by.
(From the Department of Shameless Kin Promotion)
AMERICAblog tracked down the source of the "New Orleans dodges bullet" headline that so many Republican leaders -- even General Myers -- have referred to as the reason they thought they didn't need to send help to New Orleans.
WorldNetDaily is a well-funded, far, far right website dedicated to spewing extremist propaganda. It ranks with NewsMax and Free Republic. This is Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, John Birch Society stuff.
If this is what they are reading, Rep. Pelosi used the right word to describe the Bush administration: "Dangerous."
Bush's defenders aren't really praising his performance, but trying to divert people's attention by shifting the blame. Their two main ploys are to blame the local authorities and to blame the victims, who are portrayed as looting barbarians who try to shoot the first-responders. (The second ploy is especially prevalent under the radar -- in unofficial venues like Free Republic, for example, where gross racism runs rampant).
Time will tell how serious the violence in New Orleans really was. My feeling is that, if it had really been as bad as they're saying it was, they'd be saying that it was ten times as bad as that. But by the time we know what really happened, it will all be "old news". (The VRWC Wurlitzer has its talking points lined up in a row. Right now there should be no "blame game", because we have to deal with the problem itself. A month from now it will be time to move on to other things. For Republicans, the time for accountability is never.)
When the storm hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (one of the nastiest of Republicans) got the "looters" meme going immediately, making no exception for people looting food or water.
"I've urged the highway patrol and national guard to treat looters ruthlessly," Barbour said, "The rules of engagement will be as ruthless as the law allows." Link
As far as I know, there had been no actual looting at the time he made his statement. If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and for Barbour, apparently, everything is ultimately a police problem.
And I imagine that he knew that the time would come to assign blame, and that a little preemptive blame-the-victim would help out in the long run.
"The Democrats" do speak out. The media doesn't necessarily report what they say. People get an impression that "the Democrats" are silent... Some of what is found on the front page of the Democratic Party website (go there to click the links):
- * TIMELINE: What Happened When With Katrina
* GOP RESPONSE: The Blame the Victims Chorus
* KATRINA: Bush Will Report to Bush on Investigation of Bush Administration
* SENATE: Another Republican Smears the Victims
- * KATRINA: President Bush's Responsibility
* KATRINA: Senate Democrats' Relief Plan
* KATRINA RESPONSE: Dean on the Bush Adminstration's Political Strategy
* HELP THE RED CROSS: Contribute to Relief Efforts
* PARTY AFFAIRS: DNC Fall Meeting Postponed; Staff Given Leave to Participate in Volunteer Relief Efforts
* IRAQ: There was a Plan to Win WWII; Why Not Iraq?
* LOUISIANA: Landrieu Blasts Bush for Photo-Ops and Lack of Help
* ARIZONA: Kyl Smears the Victims
* LOUISIANA: Emergency Numbers and Other Important Information
* MISSISSIPPI: State Emergency Managment Agency Resources
* ALABAMA: Utility and Safety Contact Information
* YOUNG PEOPLE: Democrats from Texas and Nevada Organizing Aid
* WOMEN: Celebrating Women's Equality Day
* YOUNG PEOPLE: On the Road with Young Democrats
* VETERANS: Bush Has Abandoned National Guard and Reserve
* WOMEN: We Need the Truth on Robert's Partisan Agenda
40 Total Minutes of Consideration, No Amendments Allowed, No Accountability Sought, Home for the Weekend...Your Republican Congress
Washington, DC - Tonight, after five weeks vacation, in the wake of what is quickly becoming the worst natural disaster in American history, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives made the decision to limit floor consideration of the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina to just forty minutes.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, led Democratic opposition to a Rules Committee vote this evening that makes the $52 Billion Supplemental Appropriation bill, a Suspension Rule that will prevent any amendments from being offered and allow for a grand total of 40 minutes of consideration. The bill, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, is expected to pass on the House floor tomorrow.
Republicans on a party line voted to deny Rep. Slaughter's amendment that would have allowed for a modest 2 hours of discussion and opened up the measure to be amended.
Democrats on the Rules Committee and in attendance at the hearing passionately implored the Republicans to allow amendments, which would enable consideration of critical and urgent 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. Members also noted that no one had yet to even see a copy of the legislation.
"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," said Rep. Slaughter. She continued, "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."
"If the Republican Majority cannot feel the anger all over America at the Federal response to this disaster, they must be completely tone deaf to the reality so many people are now facing. No food, water, homes or jobs. The lives of loved ones lost," Said Rep. Slaughter. "They want answers and they want their Congressional Representatives working hard. But the best this leadership can give their voice is forty minutes. What are they afraid of hearing?" she concluded.
In case the media doesn't report... here is another Democrat speaking out, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (who yesterday called Bush "dangerous.":
Democrats working to ensure security
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
September 7, 2005
Four years ago, our nation suffered the worst attack in our history. What happened Sept. 11 was not simply an attack against America; it was an assault on our democracy. In the immediate aftermath, we saw Americans overcome grief and devastation to demonstrate that the values that unite us are greater and more enduring than anything that divides us.
It is in this same spirit of unity and accord that Congress came together last week to pass the much-needed supplemental spending bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina, sending a clear and unmistakable bipartisan signal that we would do everything in our power to recover and rebuild after this horrendous natural disaster.
In the coming weeks, we have an opportunity to continue in that spirit, and to do more to make America safer. Sept. 11 is hallowed ground, and the actions of Congress must be guided by that recognition, with a real commitment to a safer homeland. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
In the past four years, we have learned a great deal about our own vulnerabilities, and we have seen the vulnerabilities of others exposed around the world, most recently in the horrific subway attacks in London. Yet many of the gaps in our security remain unaddressed. Unfortunately, Republicans in Washington continue to ignore the vulnerabilities in our own country while refusing to allocate the resources to make us safer.
House Democrats have made clear our homeland-security principles, which include protecting our police officers and firefighters by guaranteeing that they have the tools they need in the case of a terrorist attack, eliminating gaps at our borders and securing rail and mass transit.
True security also demands energy independence; anything less compromises our freedom. Before the August recess, the Republican-led Congress passed an energy bill full of billions of dollars of giveaways to profit-rich oil companies at the expense of the interests of average Americans, a bill that does nothing to lower skyrocketing gas prices and next to nothing to move us toward greater energy autonomy. Democrats offered and will continue to fight for a different vision: an energy policy for the future that will reduce gas prices, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce pollution.
Security also means standing up for the security of our men and women in harm’s way. Our troops must have the equipment they need to do their jobs effectively and safely. It means war must always be the last option, not the first; that we never send our troops into battle without the most careful consideration, as our national security is directly tied to the level of respect we command on the global stage. It means telling the American people the truth about what is happening in Iraq and having a realistic strategy for success.
Instead of listening to the American people, congressional Republicans have persisted in their abuse of power by shutting down ethics enforcement and stifling House debate. They continue to threaten to undermine Social Security, which has stood for the dignity and independence of millions, with a debt-creating privatization plan. And they have failed to address the economic anxiety that is felt by middle-class Americans. In the process, they proved that they are woefully out of step and out of touch with American values and interests.
Democrats stand united for the American values of hope and opportunity, a strong and secure middle class. That’s why we are working to meet the needs of Americans in retirement: preserving Social Security and protecting the pension benefits that working families have been promised.
Democrats want to offer Americans expanded opportunities for financial security and have introduced AmeriSave, an initiative to provide America’s working families with the tools they need to achieve retirement security without burdening future generations with national debt. This fall, we will work to expand and improve existing retirement accounts.
To expand prosperity, Congress must work to create jobs nationwide. Leadership demands that we make a sustained investment in the education, innovative technology and small businesses of today that will lead to the jobs of tomorrow, and Democrats are prepared to do it. With this commitment, the potential of American minds and the strength of American hands will overcome challenge after challenge, just as they always have.
Democrats return to Congress ready for more discourse and less discord, for progress and prosperity. It is these values of hope and optimism that Americans expect and deserve from their national leaders.
Pelosi is the House minority leader. [emphasis added]
Because you rarely see democrats speaking out in the media - it doesn't mean they aren't speaking out. It just means you don't see it in the media:
Reid Floor Statement on Katrina Commission
Remarks as prepared:
Mr. President, there are many things we don’t yet know about the government’s response to Katrina, but two things are clear to us all: the federal government’s response was unacceptable and the victims and all Americans deserve to know why.
Following 9/11, preparedness for national emergencies was supposed to be a priority for this government. Americans were made to believe the government was doing everything it could to prepare for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other national crises. Katrina makes it clear this government has failed. We must find out why immediately to make sure the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina never happens again. When we faced a similar situation after September 11, Democrats and Republicans came together and established an independent, blue-ribbon Commission. Republicans now apparently want a different approach. Yesterday, the Republicans unveiled their proposal to investigate the events of last week. They called it a "bipartisan commission." Although I have no details on this proposal, what little I do know raises serious concerns about whether their proposal will provide Americans the answers they deserve. One, it’s not bi-partisan. An investigation of the Republican Administration by a Republican-controlled Congress is like having a pitcher call his own balls and strikes. Second, it does not provide a role for committees. We have a committee structure in place to investigate matters like this. After 9/11, these committees played a key role in investigating events. We have excellent chairmen and ranking members in the Senate, and they should be permitted to exercise their responsibilities. Finally, we have seen what happens when this administration – or any administration - investigates itself. The American people will not get the real answers they deserve. These are serious concerns about the Republican approach. Americans deserve answers independent of politics. That’s why Democrats and Republicans preferred an independent commission for investigating 9/11, and we should be following that model now. [emphasis added]
September 7, 2005
One for $631,775, awarded last October to the Cuban American National Council, which the report says had yet to produce anything.This was only disclosed after a scandal brought some of the only oversight of how the government has spent money since Bush took office. They audited only the smallest fraction of Bush's spending of our tax dollars. (Remember the missing $8 billion in Iraq?)
The question is, what else is going on? The Republican Party refuses to allow any public accounting of how our money is being spent. How much of it is flowing into Party political operations? How much of it is flowing directly into the pockets of friends and family?
"Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water. (Via Bitch Phd; here's another story of the same events)
"Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene last week is coming in in force now and taking as one of its key missions cutting public information about what's happening in the city.
"The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.
At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look."
It’s a testament to modern tech that you can actually see a talking point take off in real time.Go to Oliver's blog to see what he's talking about.
It is so important to listen to right-wing radio, in order to understand what the Republicans are putting out there - both the hosts and the callers. (The callers to get a sense of what they are "hearing" as well as because some are professionals posing as regular people. "I used to be a Democrat, but...") I had some time to listen today. The Right is consolidating its base and rallying them around Bush. It will work.
"Welfare" appeared to be the operative word today.
The New Orleans "welfare riff-raff" have "hit the jackpot" and are going to get new houses and cars and "we" will all have to pay for "their" windfall. Now "they" are going to be bringing their "crime" to decent cities.
New Orleans was the biggest "welfare city" dependent on government handouts. Most of kids are from welfare mothers. We all saw pictures of "able-bodied" young men refusing to help save people, and instead looting.
"These people" are all so dependent on big government that they won't even get in a boat when their houses are flooding.
"Government bureaucracy" was the cause of the delays in getting help to people, and this all shows why we need to make people less "dependent" on government and more self-reliant.
And, of course, much of the problem was that Bush "had to beg" the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans to let the Federal government help, and they refused because they wanted to hang on to their power. But the good governors of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida wanted to help their people and asked Bush for help before the storm. This was repeated endlessly. (Here is an online example from today, which is pretty close to what was repeated over and over on the air. It is a lie, but that doesn't matter if it is repeated enough.)
An example of similar stuff online here,
And just who was it that stepped forward to demand the victims compensation fund? None other than the NAACP. Yup, NAACP president Bruce Gordon is saying that a compensation fund for the Katrina victims should be the first order of congress. By the way, the NAACP didn't call for a victim's compensation fund after any of the four hurricanes that devastated Florida year. Draw your own conclusions.Update -- I forgot to add that TWO callers (on on Limbaugh, one on a local RW station) complained that the government is giving money to "these people" and they are "already on public assistance" and they will "just spend it on crack."
Update - Jesse sums it up.
"We don't have any substantiated rapes," New Orleans Police superintendent Edwin Compass said yesterday, according to the Guardian.
[. . .] Relief efforts ground to a halt last week after reports circulated of looters shooting at helicopters, yet none of the hundreds of articles I read on the subject contained a single first-hand confirmation from a pilot or eyewitness. The suspension-triggering attack—on a military Chinook attempting to evacuate refugees from the Superdome—was contested by Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown, who told ABC News, "We're controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on." What's more, when asked about the attacks, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff replied: "I haven't actually received a confirmed report of someone firing on a helicopter."
While 42% of respondents characterized Bush's response to the disaster as bad or terrible, 35% said it was good or great. Federal agencies got exactly the same marks.
... Again, the views were strongly based on partisan leanings, with Republicans giving the president good grades on this issue by a 69% to 10% margin, while Democrats' views were precisely the opposite. But independents gave Bush a thumbs down by 47% to 29%.
Asked who was MOST responsible for the post-hurricane problems, 13% picked Bush, 18% said federal agencies, 25% selected state/local officials and 38% said no one was to blame.
Asked if top officials in federal agencies responsible for emergencies should be fired, 29% said yes, and 63% no. [emphasis added]
Flying over Biloxi and Gulfport and other areas of Mississippi, they could see rescue personnel on the ground, Lieutenant Udkow said, but he noticed that there were few rescue units around the flooded city of New Orleans, on the ground or in the air. "It was shocking," he said.House cancels hearings on Katrina response
[. . .] Lieutenant Udkow said that he saw few other rescue helicopters in New Orleans that day. The toughest part, he said, was seeing so many people imploring him to pick them up and having to leave some.
"I would be looking at a family of two on one roof and maybe a family of six on another roof, and I would have to make a decision who to rescue," he said. "It wasn't easy."
[. . .] The order to halt civilian relief efforts angered some helicopter crews. Lieutenant Udkow, who associates say was especially vocal about voicing his disagreement to superiors, was taken out of the squadron's flying rotation temporarily and assigned to oversee a temporary kennel established at Pensacola to hold pets of service members evacuated from the hurricane-damaged areas, two members of the unit said.
[. . .] In protest, some members of the unit have stopped wearing a search and rescue patch on their sleeves that reads, "So Others May Live."
Incompetence, corruption, cronyism, classism, racism and refusal to accept responsibility are all just symptoms of moral failure. Bush is a moral failure as a President, as a man and as a human being.
Contemporary American conservatism is a political ideology built on a foundation of racism and contempt. The callous disregard of the Republican Party for the general welfare of America, and their malice towards poor black Americans, epitomizes everything that is wrong with conservatism and the Republican Party. The same moral failure that led to Abu Ghraib led to the negligent homicide of tens of thousands of Americans following Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is the canary in the coal mine. The next community or the next family conservatism kills could be yours.
Update courtesy of Lis Riba from the comments, Riba Rambles: Musings of a Mental Magpie. Thanks Lis.
I was channeling George Lakoff, who expresses my outrage more profoundly and effectively than I can. The Post Katrina Era
Katrina's tragic consequences were not just due to incompetence, natural disaster, or Bush policies (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy.
It is impossible for me, as it is for most Americans, to watch the horror and suffering from Hurricane Katrina and not feel physically sore, pained, bereft, empty, heartbroken. And angry.
Lakoff is right about America being at a tipping point, if the Democratic Party can communicate the intense outrage that is roiling America.
The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics. This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.
Our national disgrace is a direct consequnce of a callous conservative ideology:
A lack of empathy and responsibility accounts for Bush's indifference and the government's delay in response, as well as the failure to plan for the security of the most vulnerable: the poor, the infirm, the aged, the children.
The deep truth:
This was not just incompetence (though there was plenty of it), not just a natural disaster (though nature played its part), not just Bush (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy -- a deadly failure. That is the deep truth behind this human tragedy, humanly caused.
It is a truth that needs to be told, starting now -- over and over. There can be no delay. The Bush administration is busy framing it in its own way: bad things just happen, it's no one's fault; the federal government did the best it could -- the problem was at the state and local level; we'll rebuild and everything will be okay; the people being shipped out will have better lives elsewhere, and jobs in Wal-Mart!
The right wing slime machine is winning the blame game and the frame game.
Unless the real truth is told starting now, the American people will accept it for lack of an alternative. The Democratic response so far is playing right into Bush's framing. By delaying a response for fear it will be called "partisan," the Democratic leadership is allowing Bush to frame the tragedy. And once it is framed, it is hard to reframe! It is time to start now.
We need to shout it out over and over and over again. There is one villain in this national disgrace. His name is George W. Bush.
September 6, 2005
In case you haven't seen this: Gone with the Water
As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party. [...] As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it. [...] Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued.
[The story I hear from inside is that they had a caucus from which several members came back quite hoarse, after the vote was delayed several times during the day. -Thomas]
Via KQED (and a few stops in between, and slightly edited):
Governor Schwarzenegger will now have to weigh in on perhaps the biggest social debate in the nation, as the California Legislature becomes the first body of its kind in the nation to approve a measure allowing same-sex couples (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) to legally marry. AB 849 was Assemblymember Mark Leno's (D-SF) second attempt this year, and this time he lined up the requisite 41 votes in the Assembly. The vote came just after 7:00pm, long after many reporters had filed their stories for the day. Key to the passage were "aye" votes from six Democrats who last time either voted no, or did not vote.
Click that ad in the right column, "Liberal Blogs for Hurricane Relief."
Even if you can only give $10, please help out. If you can give $1000, please do. Think about the people who have lost everything - they're going to need your help!
[This is a personal account of one group's onerous evacuation odyssey, Homeric in it's extent. Maybe we oughta stand outside the White House and chant "Shame! Shame! Shame!" -Thomas]
"Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost."
If there is any question in your mind as to the authenticity of the article, here's a link to the original posting, on EMSNetwork.
P.S. I see that Cheney's shopping for a $2.9 million dollar mansion in Maryland, near Rummy.
09.05.2005 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party members intensified their efforts to help in the relief effort for victims of hurricane Katrina, and also called for the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be fired.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (not yet on the web)
Monday, September 5, 2005
Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina
"Planning": War, Racism, Coastal Mismanagement Exacerbate
As the devastation in New Orleans from hurricane
Katrina grows more and more deadly, disgraceful,
and surreal—we find ourselves in a state of
'shock and awe' at the appalling carelessness to
the rescue effort, the racist neglect of New
Orleans' most vulnerable people, and the
devastating mismanagement of our regional
ecosystem which hastened and exacerbated the
Greens are committed to rebuilding Louisiana
sustainably and equitably!
THE REAL COSTS OF WAR
Fully one-third of the Louisiana National Guard,
whose mission is to assist in rescue and relief
operations during peacetime, have instead been
sent to Iraq to fight for George Bush's war,
based on lies and deception. This includes many
troops who were trained specifically for
high-water rescue operations. Yet four days
after the hurricane hit, there's no National
Guard in sight. Tens of thousands of New
Orleanians—most poor and African-American—have
been without food, water and medicines for almost
a week while the president cobbles together a
hodgepodge of disaster relief teams from
under-staffed and under-funded local authorities.
Here's what stranded New Orleanians are saying
about the rescue efforts:
"It's unbelievable but its for real. That man
[Bush] can spend all that money and send all
those troops to Iraq but he can't do nothing for
us right here!"
"You mean to tell me they couldn't just drop some
water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from
all those helicopters?" (responding to the
reasoning that no relief could be delivered
because of the high waters)
Damage estimates for New Orleans and the Gulf
South are already reaching the tens of billions.
The Republican-Democrat consensus on
appropriating hundreds of billions of dollars to
fight the illegal and immoral war in Iraq have
taken funds which could have been rightly used to
address domestic needs such as health care,
education, and local projects such as improving
levee and drainage systems in New Orleans and
other American cities.
As Greens living in a city whose destruction has
been exacerbated by the outrageous negligence and
outright madness of the Bush Administration and
it's pliant Democratic "opposition," we reiterate
our demand that all US troops are brought home
now, that the costly war budget be transformed
into a prosperous peacetime budget, and that the
Bush Administration apologize in full for its
role in intensifying this absolute catastrophe.
INEQUITIES IN RACE AND CLASS
One of the most striking images from the ongoing
hurricane disaster is the ubiquitous poverty of
the mostly-black victims, which underscore the
existing race and class inequalities in our
city—a microcosm of the national inequalities
that confront people of color and the working
Disaster planning officials know that 112,000
people in New Orleans have no access to a car—the
only way to get out of the city. And a
staggering 61% of single-mom families in New
Orleans are living in poverty.
The working-class Plaquemines and St. Bernard
parishes—home to factory workers, commercial
fishermen and shrimpers—were also hit very hard,
particularly St. Bernard. The awesome reality of
the hurricane is that it starkly sharpened the
existing class and race inequalities.
Greens have been working to address these
disparities in New Orleans, and we reiterate our
calls for social justice: raise the poverty-level
'minimum' wage to a living wage; restore all
funding to the Charity Hospital system; investing
in education—not incarceration—for our young
As New Orleanians committed to systematic change
in our economic and political systems for social
justice and environmental sustainability, we are
both angered by the culmination of a century of
irresponsible planning, yet heartened by the
resilience and determination of our brothers and
sisters who are battling through the challenges
of this disaster with the same dignity and
resolve that they have battled the ongoing
challenges of the daily lives under a system
which has been designed to disregard them.
COASTAL DESTRUCTION AND GLOBAL WARMING
If you had asked anyone in Louisiana just two
weeks ago what was the biggest environmental
crisis—nearly every person would have said
"costal erosion." Losing our coastal areas—at a
rate of a football fields every 20 minutes—has
destroyed not only a rich source of wildlife but
also crippled our natural defenses against storms
and flooding. In fact, until the canals and
levees were built, the coastline was actually
growing—strengthening our regions defenses
against storms and hurricane.
The truth is that the environmental planning in
our region has systematically wiped out our
precious and protective coastal wetlands which,
if not weakened to their current state, could
have provided defense against the deadly storm
surges which broke the levees and caused the most
damage. Shortsighted and politically-connected
oil and gas companies wrecked coastal areas with
impunity with an elaborate and destructive system
of canals to facilitate the extraction of
Our system of irresponsibly-built canals and
levees—as well as the laissez-faire complicity in
allowing oil and gas industry to build
destructive canals through the wetlands— act as
giant straws, sucking saltwater from the Gulf
inland and destroying the freshwater wetland
In addition to the mismanaged regional ecosystem,
global environmental issues such as rising ocean
levels from global warming are adding fuel to the
fire. In fact, since FEMA was founded in 1979,
New Orleans has been consistently at the top of
the list of most disaster-prone areas in the
country. And in 1995, the International Panel on
Climate Change of the United Nations identified
New Orleans as the most vulnerable North American
city to global climate change, because sea-level
rise and elevating temperatures of the Gulf of
Mexico intensify the frequency and power of
As Greens committed to environmental
sustainability and proper management of our
regional ecosystems for the benefit of
recreation, human habitat, and natural disaster
protection, we reiterate our call to reduce
emissions which are causing global warming, as
well as for a sustainable system of drainage and
storm prevention in Southeast Louisiana.
For information about the Green Party of
Louisiana, visit http://www.LaGreens.org
Green Party of the United States
Green Party web page with information on aid for
victims of the hurricane
Web page with information on relief efforts, set
up by New Orleans Greens Andrea Garland and
Jeffrey Holmes http://www.getyouracton.com/
Discussion list set up by Green Party member Bart
Everson from New Orleans, for exchange of
information (advice, requests for help and offers
of direct material, other assistance)
President Bush is launching a "probe" into what went wrong with the hurricane assistance.
Who will oversee the probe? Bush.
Who will the probe say is at fault? Not Bush. Duh.
At Hughes for America, Congratulations, Grover, see photos of "compassionate conservatism."
I'm spending some time deleting the trackback spam that has built up since my computer died...
Most of them are for poker these days. But I just wanted to ask, what the hell is "Live Nude Video Poker?"
Brian Ellner is a candidate for Manhattan Borough President in New York City. Fox News refuses to run his ad, saying it is disrespectful to President Bush. Go to his website and take a look at his ad, (and his blog) and tell me if you think it is disrespectful.
UPDATE: William Rivers Pitts says it better than I ever could: Washing Away the Conservative Movement.
UPDATE2: Paul Krugman also says it well: Killed by Contempt "But the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good."
You might think that New Orleans represents the ultimate failure of right-wing ideology, but you'd be wrong - in fact, it is a propaganda triumph of the utmost proportions, and it is already too late for us on the progressive left to stop (and in fact, in many ways, we've inadvertently contributed to it, in our wrath over the failure of the Federal government under the Bush Administration to respond effectively).
Why? Simple: the ideological end-game of the ultra-right is to destroy, by any means necessary, the public's faith and confidence in the effectiveness of government, in it's ability to execute effectively, to accomplish anything of significance, to provide aid and comfort to the affilicted.
By any of these measures, New Orleans has accomplished that - and even more so, has provided a giant stage for propaganda set pieces demonstrating the effectiveness of private sector relief agencies and individual initiative in contrast to slow moving, incompetent, bureaucratic government.
I've noticed that every time Bush does one of his photo ops, he's directing people, not to a government run facility/relief service/agency (school, national guard station, etc.) but to the "Salvation Army" (a "faith-based" private sector relief agency)?
Where have Americans been asked to send donations by FEMA? Private sector relief agencies. Who have you seen on T.V. asking for help? Private sector relief agencies. Is there ANY vehicle through which each of us, as individual citizens, can contribute to helping our GOVERNMENT address the needs of the people of New Orleans? No. Has anyone even noticed this... or does it seem so utterly natural and appropriate to send your donations to the Red Cross and other private sector relief agencies that you don't even stop to question why this is the sole vehicle for personal charity?
Has the President asked for any new resources (i.e. temporary tax increases) to help finance the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? No. (in fact, the Republicans have put a tax cut for the super-rich up for a vote instead)
After watching the catastrophe in New Orleans, do you have less confidence in the ability of our government to respond to crisis? Do you trust that any help will arrive from the government in a timely fashion if there is a large scale disaster in your area?
UPDATE: Plain and simple - this is the outcome the conservatives wanted. Even now, they are writing editorials saying that the real source of the problem is federal flood control programs and that the real solution is privatization.
(This post is a response to Dave's post below, "We're still only talking to each other".)
Blogs are basically an elite form of communication. It makes possible almost instant dissemination of information, but only reaches people who are motivated enough to make some effort. Blogs don't help much with the Democrats' biggest problem -- the passive voters who pick up the ambient opinion from radio and TV. Blogs also don't reach active citizens who, for whatever reason, are not internet-savvy.
I'm proposing a printable blog tabloid which would aggregate news and opinion daily and post it in printable form. That way, individuals could print off copies and distribute them to friends and acquaintances or leave them in public places.
In order to work, this tabloid would have to be attractively and professionally formatted, with punchy stories, quick summaries, nice graphics, and a bit of humor. Hopefully there is a widely-used software available which would make it possible for tens of thousands of people to print off nice-looking copies. This would effectively be a free national hard-copy tabloid printed off at thousands of locations.
The tabloid would also be readable online, of course, but the selling point would be its printability. The net is tremendously powerful as a tool for gathering and quickly disseminating information, but it does not reach everyone.
In order for this to work a lot of people would have to be involved -- at the editorial end, but above all at the tech and finance ends. Hopefully someone will pick up the ball and run with it.
September 5, 2005
Waking up to nightmares at The Sideshow.
I won't have my computer back until Friday, but every now and then I get both time and access to another computer...
Yesterday I was enjoying chai and conversation at Lulu Carpenter's in Santa Cruz when a well-informed (but not regular blog-reading) friend said she had heard that the people still in New Orleans had refused to get on buses that were provided for them before the hurricane struck. My friend said that she heard this from a friend. She watches the news and reads the papers daily - much more since the hurricane struck. She said that she had not heard this from any formal news source, but this snippet of "information" stuck in her head.
You and I are blog-readers. I wonder how many of us understand that our blog-reading means that our access to information makes us very different from most people? We are not only well-informed, but we are getting information that is only available to people who work hard to step past the Right's propaganda machine. You and I know that buses were NOT provided to help people evacuate New Orleans but most of the rest of the country thinks they were.
So many of us believe that if only the "facts" got out there to the public, things would be different. But you and I operate on -- and seek out -- facts and details, and most people do not. Most people are too busy or are otherwise not able (or interested) to learn the details of what is going on in the larger world around them. And they aren't going to change. Understanding and accepting this is the gateway to understanding why most people have the political opinions and preferences that they have. And it is the first step toward understanding how to reach them and how to start to change their thinking.
Most people get their information through channels that are very different from those that most blog-readers use. They hear snippets of pseudo-facts through word-of-mouth, from music-radio DJs, from glimpses of headlines, e-mail jokes, co-workers, etc. and only some of what they hear "sticks." The process of discovering what "sticks" is fascinating. (George Lakoff's work is just one small example of this process.) Rather than get into that, I just want to say that the Right's machine (and corporate marketing departments) have spent decades and hundreds of millions trying to understand this process. They understand it a lot better than we do, and they use it. Modern marketing methods are very effective.
Bloggers and Air America and MoveOn, etc. are working to get around the "right-wing noise machine" and make accurate information available, and this is a very important beginning. But we are still mostly only talking to each other. At least now we are finally starting to talk with a common and consistent voice. But we have a lot to learn about reaching out to the broader, general public-at-large.
I think the first step is to understand that we are still largely talking to each other. But the next step is to learn how the hairdresser in Topeka gets and retains her "news," and to start talking to her in ways she will hear and remember.
The Heretik's cartoon captures the essence of Bush's failure. The Potemkin Countryand he has a delightful roundup of smackdowns to go with it.
Bilmon builds on the same them with The Potemkin President
Today's featured rant is from Jeffrey Feldman at Frameshop, The Stranger:
But there is also a question of how the President delivered his messages to the nation in the face of this tragedy, and how the mere act of watching that delivery impacted the way Americans felt about him as a leader.
Despite endless reports and images that tortured the minds of Americans, President Bush’s delivery--his behavior in general--never registered any of the dramatic emotion that fell like a dark cloud on the country. He was and continues to be emotionally empty in the face of the tragic events.
Emotionally empty. That sums up the Bush administration and the man.
As the failure of the relief effort unfolded, Americans witnessed a startling contrast between a citizenry, press corp, and local leadership who spoke with more and more emotion with each passing moment, and a President, White House and Cabinet that grew more and more stoic.
After a short while, the President’s failure to deliver food and water became linked in the minds of Americans to the absence of emotions in his behavior. And once those two issues were connected, America had effectively lost faith in its leader.
I'm as baffled by the 35-40% of Americans who still support Bush as I am by Bush himself. Are there that many Americans who are as emotionally disconnected from the fate of their fellow Americans as Bush is himself?
We began to see a man who was unmoved by the desperate cries for help of his people. He became a stranger to us.I never did understand all the polls about which candidate you would like to have a beer with. I wouldn't sit next to Bush in a bar let alone drink with the man.
And even though Americans were not saying it, they were all thinking the same thing: this person who shows no emotion in the face of such a tragedy--this man who stays above it all--this is our leader? How can this be?
The hurricane and flood revealed that our President seemed to lack the bond of basic human kindness towards other Americans. Or if he did not lack that human kindness, he certainly lacked the ability to demonstrate it to the nation in times of great need.
Bush's voice, his tired platitudes and his facial quirks turn my stomach. How can a country that worships success and accomplishment have a leader who has failed at everything he ever touched? How can any American ignore the staggering incompetence of the Bush administration?
Now, whenever the President speaks, he flicks his lower jaw from side to side as if readjusting a mouth piece.
Cold and distant, new facial ticks--ultimately Americans are sympathetic to individual responses in times of great emotion.
Jeffrey nails it. Even more than Bush's stark incompetence and failure, what stands out is the callous emotional emptiness of the man behind the policies. George Bush is a Potemkin person with a Potemkin heart and a Potemkin soul.
Hat tip to Paul Rosenberg at MyDD. In a Newsweek op-ed, This Is a National Disgrace, civil rights hero John Lewis, Lewis, Congressmember from the Fifth District of Georgia recalls his own experience, our history, and the glaring contrast between how we go to war vs. how we care for our own cities. We need a Marshal Plan, not just for New Orleans, Lewis writes, but for urban America as a whole, with New Orleans as a model:
I was headed to New Orleans as a Freedom Rider in May of 1961. It would've been my first visit, but we were arrested in Jackson, Miss., and never made it. In happier times, though, I have been able to visit New Orleans over the years. It's one of my favorite cities, one of the great Southern cities.... It's very painful for me to watch and read about what is happening. I have a sense of righteous indignation. I think all Americans should rise up and speak out. It's not like 9/11 that just happened. We saw this in the making....
September 4, 2005
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean released the following statement in response to reports that Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will push for a vote on Repealing the Estate Tax when the Senate returns on Tuesday:"Countless thousands of our fellow Americans throughout the Gulf Coast region continue to suffer in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. While some have begun the painful task of rebuilding their lives and coping with the unfathomable loss, so many still await help. And the cost of this disaster in human and material terms remains unknown.
"It's simply irresponsible for Senator Frist and Ken Mehlman to even think about spending our tax dollars on breaks for millionaires at a time when our top priority must be to ensure we have the resources needed to address the long and short term costs associated with rescue, recovery, and rebuilding in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Not to mention the vital lesson we learned this week about the deadly cost of diverting funds at the expense of the safety of the American people. These costs also come at a time when our nation faces a massive deficit, and mounting costs in the ongoing war in Iraq.
"There is also a question of values, priorities and choices. Tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have literally lost everything; we have a responsibility to put their needs first. Senator Frist should join Democrats in Congress who understand that our priority as a nation must be to focus our energy and resources on determining how we help the victims begin to rebuild their lives and addressing the long term issues we face as a nation in the aftermath of Katrina.
"Perhaps seeing the images on television was not enough this time for Senator Frist and having now had the chance to actually look some of the victims in the eye, he'll be able to better diagnose the situation, get his priorities straight and recognize that the victims of this crisis, and providing the resources to keep our people safe in the future, must be our highest priorities."
Southern Star has the story at MyDD. Al Gore chartered a plane and flew 200 New Orleans citizens with chronic medical conditions to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Let's hope the Democratic leadership also rises to the challenge next week.
Bush could either nominate Roberts to be Chief Justice or elevate Scalia to Chief Justice concurrently with Roberts' nomination. The Court would not be a justice short for the two to three month period that vetting, nominating and confirming another Supreme Court nominee would take.
The suggestion would be difficult for Bush to refuse and would discredit the inevitable claim that Democrats must rush through the second nomination, because the court is still one justice short of a full bench.
[Update: 9/05] Supreme Court Picture Gets Complex:
It would be easy for the president to switch gears on the Roberts nomination. He could withdraw his nomination to be an associate justice and resubmit his nomination to be chief justice, lawyers and judiciary committee staffers said Sunday.
"The president can do that without almost any uncertainty because he knows how the Roberts nomination [for associate justice] has been received," said Brad Berenson, a Washington lawyer who worked for the Bush White House. "Barring something unforeseen, he would be easily confirmed for chief justice."
Berenson added: "This is the only scenario in which the court could begin the term with a full complement of justices, since Justice O'Connor pledged to stay on until her successor is confirmed."
There are voices far more eloquent than mine. I'm going to use this spot to highlight some of the best of the web. I will elevate recommendations from the comments. I'm looking for citizen action items and eloquent expressions of protest, belief or call to action.
This Is Still America by Stirling Newberry.
National Day of Emergency Action - This Wednesday.
Support the people of New Orleans. L.A. Rally at Wilshire and Veteran
I just heard this on MSNBC. I couldn't find anything on a google search yet, but it sounds like a terrific idea. The precedent of establishing a disaster relief fund was established by the federal Victim Compensation Fund.
President Bush has said Hurricane Katrina is a worse disaster than 9/11. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was not a perfect program by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good initial attempt that could be improved on.
Keep your eyes on the NAACP homepage for an update. While you're there, if you still haven't squeezed out the last dime you can afford, call 1-866-996-2227 and pitch in a few dollars to the NAACP Relief Fund.
The NAACP has also teamed up with Move On.org Civic Action to identify 17,000 beds for hurricane victims in Louisiana and Alabama.
September 3, 2005
Shit happens. It can happen where YOU live.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We're due for a major earthquake. Los Angeles is also due for a major quake. (I was in downtown Santa Cruz when the 1989 earthquake struck.)
Maybe you live where tornadoes can strike. Maybe a massive forest fire can engulf your town. Maybe the avian flu, currently killing half of those infected will mutate into a form that can pass from person to person like a cold. Maybe terrorists will blow up a nuclear or chemical plant upwind from your city.
At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line — much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday. ... The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.THIS is the conservative vision for government. THIS is "personal responsibility." If you have money you are moved to the front of the line. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you don't even get food or water.
The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, near the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome.
THIS is the message of the "conservative" response to Katrina: you are on your own.
YOUR city or state is next. You're next. Think about what kind of government you want to have in place when shit happens. Do you want one in which we take care of each other, or one where we are all on our own?
(Cross-posted as a Kos diary.)
Republican racists visit annatopia.
The Republican Party is racist to the core. It's time to start calling them on it. Hastert and Trent Lott are just the tip of the ice berg.
In Syracuse, N.Y., former president Bill Clinton was discussing New Orleans's dilemma when someone described the speaker's comments. Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, Clinton said, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."
September 2, 2005
Cake eating at annatopia.
Bush's failure to provide adequate funding and planning to FEMA is just a symptom of his overall failure in the war against terrorism.
Bush's failure of judgment on the necessity to take prudent and cost effective steps to prevent this disaster was an open secret one full year ago. Bush's failure with FEMA is merely a symptom of his failure to provide for domestic security against terrorism.
We should be spending equal or greater amounts of money on securing our ports, hardening our chemical factories and protecting the nuclear waste at every nuclear facility in America. Bush Has Failed At Domestic Nuclear Security
I wrote a review of an article by James Fallows in The Atlantic Monthly Success Without Victory that covers Bush's failure to provide for domestic security, but also prudent and pragmatic steps that America should be taking.
That's the real threat to our national security. Does Al Qaida have sleeper cells in America? If they do there is absolutely nothing to stop them from setting another 9/11 type attack in motion.
Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript:
Cafferty transcript, CNN, 9/1/05:
“The thing that’s most glaring in all this is that the conditions continue to deteriorate for the people who are victims in this, and the efforts to do something about it don’t seem to be anywhere in sight. I want to read you something, Wolf. This is a quote from an editorial:
‘A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource. The cool, confident intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.’
Now that’s not from some liberal rag; that is an editorial from one of the most conservative newspapers in the country, New Hampshire’s Union Leader.
I believe I just heard Stephanie Miller refer to a Jack Cafferty rant comparing the slow response of Bush and the Republican Congress to Hurricane Katrina with their rapid response to Teri Schiavo. Congress returned on a Sunday and Bush immediately cut his vacation short.
Too bad New Orleans doesn't have any cute, sympathetic white girls in distress.
September 1, 2005
I am struck by how similar the Bush disaster planning was to the post-invasion planning for Iraq. Remember the riots and looting that followed the "liberation" of Baghdad?
I was just saying to my wife, when people started arriving at the Superdome ... or maybe even the day AFTER the hurricane ... or even the NEXT day, it might have occurred to SOMEONE in our government that 50,000 people WERE GOING TO NEED FOOD AND WATER! And what about the rest of the people in New Orleans and in Mississippi and Alabama and everywhere else that was struck?
What can I say? It is overwhelming, watching what is happening to New Orleans and the area struck by the hurricane, and the lack of government response.
Remember when hurricane Andrew struck Florida soon after President Clinton was elected, and how the government responded? THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE! THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT DOES! And, sadly, this is what happens when government does not.
In America government is supposed to be us. Of the people, by the people and for the people. In Republican Party America you are on your own, while the treasury is looted for the benefit of the CEOs, and the National Guard is sent off to wars. When the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq stands for a month outside Bush's vacation "ranch" asking WHY her son was sent to Iraq she is ignored, just as the people in New Orleans are ignored when they ask for food and water and necessary medicines.
I have added a new category for blog posts at Seeing the Forest: democracy and community. Until now the history, funding, organization and tactics of the Right-wing "conservative movement" has been my primary "serious" subject. Democracy and community will be my new primary subject.
Hurricane Katrina has devastated thousands of lives. Today, we're announcing a coordinated effort by the liberal/progressive blogosphere to help the victims of the devastation. Together, we're going to raise $1 million for the American Red Cross - and prove that the liberal blogosphere can help our fellow citizens in need. Make a donation for hurricane relief.
As President Clinton once said, "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America."
The most prominent lefty blogs in the nation, represented by the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, are leading the way by running donated ads and asking readers to join us in making a difference. Combined, these blogs will display their ads over 12 million times each week over the course of the campaign.
Of course, we invite all progressive bloggers to participate in our community-wide campaign - both BlogAds subscribers and non-subscribers. Get the HTML to post the ads on your own blog or website.
This effort is a combined effort of four organizations:
* The Liberal Blog Advertising Network who are donating their ad space.
* MandateMedia.com - producing the creative and organizing the campaign.
* BlogAds.com - donating their advertising infrastructure to deploy the ads.
* DropCash.com - providing the mechanism for tracking our progress.
All of the proceeds will be sent to the Red Cross. Donations are being tracked by Drop Cash. Transactions are secured through Paypal. You can be certain that your contribution will be secure, for a good cause, and people will know it came from the liberal blogosphere.
Thank you. Together, we can do this.
I have a dead laptop -- again. The motherboard that was replaced on warranty in June is dead again. BUT HP DOES NOT WARRANT REPAIRS! They got me past the warranty expiration by replacing one defective motherboard with another defective motherboard.
HP is in the business of selling warranties, not computers that work! Avoid them. Do not buy Compaq or HP computers!
Update - With much effort and time on the phone I was able to convince HP to fix the computer, since it was their motherboard replacement that was defective.
Hat tip to Kevin Drum, FEMA Then And Now:
Kevin links to a story on Bush's mismanagement of FEMA that ran in the Independent Weekly last September: Disaster In The Making
Kevin Drum's summary:
There's much, much more in this deeply reported story. Read the whole thing to get a sickening sense of the disastrous effect that the Bush administration's glorification of conservative ideology over managerial competence has had on FEMA's workforce, its morale, and its ability to get things done.
An excerpt to whet your appetite for more:
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.
....[In 2001], President Bush appointed a close aide, Joe Allbaugh, to be the agency's new director....The White House quickly launched a government-wide effort to privatize public services, including key elements of disaster management. Bush's first budget director, Mitch Daniels, spelled out the philosophy in remarks at an April 2001 conference: "The general idea — that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided — seems self-evident to me," he said.
In a May 15, 2001, appearance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Allbaugh signaled that the new, stripped-down approach would be applied at FEMA as well. "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management," he said.
"Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."