Saturday, September 03, 2005

Justice Rehnquist Has Died

Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies

May he rest in peace. Cancer is an awful thing.

Justice Rehnquist, the original legal oxymoron. Now we have Clarence Thomas who makes him look like a conservative piker.

Fox, CNN, Headline News, & MSNBC have all suspended their coverage of Lake George where more than 10,000 American citizens lie dead to report on this breaking news. Is there any truth to the rumor that Karl Rove did him in to get pictures of the disaster in New Orleans off the TV screens?

My heart sinks for my country. Bush gets to appoint another Supreme Court justice.

1:25 a.m. update: Steve Gilliard says, "Well, at least he wasn't eaten by alligators."

He didn't die in New Orleans.

As Always, the President's First Priority Was Saving Himself; It Was The Poor Who Were Left Behind to Drown

Frank Rich:

Falluja Floods the Superdome

AS the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck. We can all enumerate the many differences between a natural catastrophe and a terrorist attack. But character doesn't change: it is immutable, and it is destiny.

As always, the president's first priority, the one that sped him from Crawford toward California, was saving himself: he had to combat the flood of record-low poll numbers that was as uncontrollable as the surging of Lake Pontchartrain. It was time, therefore, for another disingenuous pep talk, in which he would exploit the cataclysm that defined his first term, 9/11, even at the price of failing to recognize the emerging fiasco likely to engulf Term 2.

After dispatching Katrina with a few sentences of sanctimonious boilerplate ("our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens"), he turned to his more important task. The war in Iraq is World War II. George W. Bush is F.D.R. And anyone who refuses to stay his course is soft on terrorism and guilty of a pre-9/11 "mind-set of isolation and retreat." Yet even as Mr. Bush promised "victory" (a word used nine times in this speech on Tuesday), he was standing at the totemic scene of his failure. It was along this same San Diego coastline that he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln more than two years ago. For this return engagement, The Washington Post reported, the president's stage managers made sure he was positioned so that another hulking aircraft carrier nearby would stay off-camera, lest anyone be reminded of that premature end of "major combat operations."

This administration would like us to forget a lot, starting with the simple fact that next Sunday is the fourth anniversary of the day we were attacked by Al Qaeda, not Iraq. Even before Katrina took command of the news, Sept. 11, 2005, was destined to be a half-forgotten occasion, distorted and sullied by a grotesquely inappropriate Pentagon-sponsored country music jamboree on the Mall. But hard as it is to reflect upon so much sorrow at once, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the real history surrounding 9/11; it is the Rosetta stone for what is happening now. If we are to pull ourselves out of the disasters of Katrina and Iraq alike, we must live in the real world, not the fantasyland of the administration's faith-based propaganda. Everything connects.

Though history is supposed to occur first as tragedy, then as farce, even at this early stage we can see that tragedy is being repeated once more as tragedy. From the president's administration's inattention to threats before 9/11 to his disappearing act on the day itself to the reckless blundering in the ill-planned war of choice that was 9/11's bastard offspring, Katrina is déjà vu with a vengeance.


A visibly exasperated Shepard Smith [of Fox/Faux News], covering the story on the ground in Louisiana, went further still, tossing hand grenades of harsh reality into Bill O'Reilly's usually spin-shellacked "No Spin Zone." Among other hard facts, Mr. Smith noted "that the haves of this city, the movers and shakers of this city, evacuated the city either immediately before or immediately after the storm." What he didn't have to say, since it was visible to the entire world, was that it was the poor who were left behind to drown.

Qualifying for the FIFA World Cup is sweet. Doing it against your archrival is nirvana.

USA slam Mexico to reach Germany

Steve Ralston & Damarcus Beasley with the goals, MOTM was GOOOOOOOOOOOCH. Oguchi Onyewu owned Jared Borgetti, the alltime leading scorer for Mexico. The first Mexican to play in the English Premier League got schooled by our 23-year-old superstar in the making.

On to Germany!

11:00 p.m. update, I saw this on

Borgetti got Onyewued.

It's About the Incompetence

Brownie the Crony
[From the Boston Herald] The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.

The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

Here's the guy who should still have the job. At least the governor of Louisiana has had the good sense to bring him in:

Blanco Appoints Witt

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has appointed former FEMA Director James Lee Witt as a special adviser to help her manage the recovery and restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Witt was FEMA director under former President Clinton, serving in that position from 1993-2001.

"My Hero Is a Bus Thief"

My hero is a bus thief

When I heard President Bush on Thursday morning call for "zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this," it gave me shivers.

I know he wanted to send a tough message to thugs stealing guns, drugs and flat-panel televisions, holding up hospitals, shooting at helicopters.

But doesn't he realize he would be heard by the moral equivalent of school administrators?

These are people who suspend girls for bringing Midol in their purses or butter knives in their lunchboxes.

What would they do to a kid who steals a bus?

When he arrived at the Astrodome about 10 p.m. Wednesday, 20-year-old Jabbar Gibson modestly confessed that he had commandeered a school bus in New Orleans, then picked up about 70 passengers before heading out for the 13-hour trek to Houston.

Stealing a bus is a felony.

It's also an act of heroism.

There's something about the obliteration of a city and all its survival systems of social support and discipline that messes with moral norms.

"The Red Cross is Locked Out So They Can't Document the Atrocities"

Why the Red Cross is Locked Out and the People are Locked In

Crooks and Liars video of Geraldo Rivera and Shep Smith at the Convention Center reveals a big part of Team BushCo's disaster management strategy: lock down the cities so the hideous element isn't allowed to threaten the suburbs with invasion. And the Red Cross is locked out so they can't document the atrocities. They have a habit of doing that.

Of course, why didn't I think of that? Just like after Fallujah, the U.S. refused to let the International Red Cross in.


MSM Picks Up Red Cross Story

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food

As the National Guard delivered food to the New Orleans convention center yesterday, American Red Cross officials said that federal emergency management authorities would not allow them to do the same.

Other relief agencies say the area is so damaged and dangerous that they doubted they could conduct mass feeding there now.

"The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

"Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day [asking for access]. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders."

Calls to the Department of Homeland Security and its subagency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were not returned yesterday. (Northeast Ohio): Few answers for thirsty, hungry in New Orleans

The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations that typically are the first to respond to disaster sites with food and water have been kept out of the city.

“Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities,” said Gregg Tubbs, a spokesman for the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross can’t get in there. We can’t enter New Orleans against their orders.”

By LARRY WHEELER, Gannett News Service

(Contributing: GNS reporter Raju Chebium, in Metarie, La., and Dan Turner, The (Shreveport, La.) Times, in Baton Rouge, La.)

KCBI-TV (Idaho): Doctor says Red Cross should have been there

September 3, 2005 12:56 PM

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS "Where is the Red Cross?"

A doctor at the airport in New Orleans posed that question today to an Associated Press reporter. The doctor, one of the first to set up a triage center at the airport, says he wishes the Red Cross had been there, since the organization has the expertise to set up that kind of facility. He said he hasn't seen any Red Cross presence there.

And the picture that emerges is a bleak one. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon who visted the airport today, says the hallways and floors are "filled," and that people are dying because the resources aren't there to treat them.

Donations pour in to aid groups for Katrina relief

By ADAM GELLER, The Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Sep. 3, 2005

But aid groups said their efforts were limited in important ways.

“We are not in New Orleans,” the Red Cross’ Dodge said. The federal Department of “Homeland Security has basically told us they don’t want us, our Red Cross folks, in New Orleans because our presence would keep people from evacuating.”

A spokesman for the federal agency said Friday that there is not an absolute policy barring relief groups from the entire city, but that its own efforts were taking precedence there.

“There may well be situations where it merits the Red Cross holding back while our personnel go in first,” said the spokesman, Russ Knocke. “But our priority is meeting the immediate life-saving and life-sustaining needs of those who’ve gone through a nightmare.”

Other groups also reported that they were not being allowed into the city. MAP International said it was working to send medical supplies to a New Orleans hospital, but that the shipment was being held up by a difficulty in getting the credentials needed for drivers to get through roadblocks set up by the National Guard.

Second Harvest said it had secured a warehouse between New Orleans and Baton Rogue, because its workers can’t get to their facility in New Orleans. But setting up operations was being complicated by shifting demands. “At this point we don’t know how many people are in need and where they are. Evacuees arrive at different places everyday,” Daly said.

Homeland Security SNAFU

Last night on ABC news they interviewed one of the truck drivers who was delivering a truck full of water to New Orleans. He said he loaded up in Texas on MONDAY and Homeland Security held him up from delivering until Friday.

Isaiah 41:17-18

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

George W. Bush has forsaken New Orleans

Clusterfuck 3.0

Even Fox is Outraged

Horror Show

Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera were livid about the situation in NOLA as they appeared on H&C. When Hannity tried his usual spin job and said "let's get this in perspective," Smith chopped him off at the knees and started yelling at him saying, "This is perspective!" It was shocking.

[video links -- I don't have the bandwidth, click on the link above to view]

Geraldo who I'm no fan of was crying, holding a little child up to demonstrate the extremely inhumane conditions these people are forced to live under. Forced is the right word because they are locked in the dome by our government and can't leave. Troops are guarding the bridge.

This goes beyond political lines and it's as sad a situation as I've seen. Let's see all the happy politicians slap themselves on their backs after viewing this segment.

Homeland Security Keeping Red Cross Out of New Orleans

I just sent this as an email letter to the editor or news tip to about 10 newspapers:

Homeland Security is keeping NGOs out of New Orleans

If you go to the Red Cross website, they are saying that they are being kept OUT of New Orleans by the state Homeland Security Department, and that this is because if the Red Cross is there, people won't evacuate.

So, with no plan to evacuate tens of thousands of people, while starving & dehydrating them, in the Convention Center, in the Superdome, on I-10, under overpasses, in fields, Homeland Security has been keeping help out of New Orleans. People are dying of thirst, heat exhaustion, lack of medical care, and the Red Cross can't go in.

This is even posted on the Red Cross website. Here's the link:,1096,0_682_4524,00. [...]

The Red Cross is getting the lion's share of charitable gifts, and they are being kept out of New Orleans by the insane bureaucrats of Homeland Security.

This is the worst, most incompetent relief effort in the history of the world. Hundreds if not thousands have perished unnecessarily. Shame, shame.

United States of Shame

United States of Shame

Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.

When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

Who are we if we can't take care of our own?

Operation Photo Op Shuts Down Helicopter Relief Flights


Thousands of people stranded in two swamped parishes south of New Orleans are just as desperate for supplies as those trapped in the city but can’t get the attention of federal disaster relief officials, their congressman said Friday.

And to make matters worse, says Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., he was unable to deliver that message to President Bush during his visit to New Orleans because the president’s security detail couldn’t clear him to board Air Force One.

After waiting 90 minutes Friday while a U.S. marshal using a satellite phone repeatedly tried, and failed, to contact Bush’s plane – located just 300 yards away at New Orleans’ Armstrong airport – a disgusted Melancon left.


And for the entire time Bush was in the state, the congressman said, a ban on helicopter flights further stalled the delivery of food and supplies.

Do you think Bush will attend the funerals of the people he's killed with his murderous negligence? Nope, me neither.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Operation Photo-Op -- Laura Bush Edition

Evacuees at Cajundome wait for first lady, and for lunch

Couldn't have those refugees eating before the camermen got there.

As the first lady toured the Red Cross shelter at the Cajundome this morning, a line of evacuees waiting to eat their lunch trickled out the door of the Dome.

First lady Laura Bush arrived about midday to tour the shelter and meet evacuees.

By 12:50 p.m., the trays of food were still covered and hungry evacuees stood in line, holding empty plates. Rice, beans and jambalaya were on the menu. About that time, volunteers began rolling the carts of food into position to serve.

New Orleans is Burning and the Department of Homeland Security Won't Let the Forest Service Send Planes to Put Out The Fires

Forest Service offers planes to help fight fires

The Forest Service has offered fixed plane aircraft used to fight forest fires to help extinguish blazes in New Orleans, according to two congressional sources. But the sources said the planes, which can pour large amounts of water on fires, remained grounded in Missouri Friday because the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t authorized their use.

The department is overseeing federal hurricane relief and rescue operations.

"We’ve been asking them to request that the planes be used, but nothing has happened,” said one of the two congressional sources, both of whom asked to remain anonymous. The planes were offered by the Forest Service because of news reports that firefighters in New Orleans lacked adequate water pressure to fight a number of fires in the city.

There was no immediate comment from the Forest Service, which is part of the Agriculture Department, or the Department of Homeland Security.

Clusterfuck 2.0

National Guard BARS Red Cross from New Orleans

This is horrifying. The NGO that is receiving the lion's share of charitable contributions -- over 195 million as of today -- is BARRED from entering New Orleans. This is criminal. This is Nazi war crimes criminal. People have died, starvation, dehydration, heat exhaustion, because of this clusterfuck, brought to you by the worst President in the history of the United States of America, George W. Bush.

So if you've given money to the Red Cross, that money is not going to New Orleans. People are thirsty. People are starving. People are dying for lack of medicine, medical treatment, heat exhaustion. That's the story now. New Orleans is being wiped off the map by the Bush Administration.

Kos diary telling this story: Red Cross NEVER allowed into New Orleans.

I was wondering where the Red Cross was in all this. They were never mentioned. It was like they didn't exist. And, after yesterday's drama at the convention center, the Brown and Chertoff lies, the Red Cross was still MIA. Then, earlier today, I saw a note that the Red Cross was not allowed to enter NO. Hmm, that's doesn't make sense. This simmered for a couple hours.

So I called the Red Cross and asked them if its true....

And, to my surprise, the nice lady answering the phone said it was true and they told/asked/ordered not to enter NO. She then went right into her spiel about all the other work the Red Cross was doing across the region. I said that's nice, but I still didn't understand why they weren't in NO. To my amazement, she patiently explained it to me. I even called back to verify what she said. This time she asked if I was media, I said no, just a concerned and confused contributor.

So here goes: Homeland Security (her term, not mine) told the Red Cross DO NOT enter New Orleans and says this still now. And why, you may ask? Not Security. Not worker safety. Not lack of access. It was because people would be drawn to the Red Cross food and they wouldn't want to go to be evacuated. So I asked: "The people starving and dying at the convention center yesterday couldn't get Red Cross food and water because they would be drawn to the food at the convention center, where they were, and not want to be evacuated from the convention center where no evacuations were going on or planned and all the while they are dying". (Actually, it was a couple questions.) She went back into her spiel about all of the other good work they were doing. When I asked again, she said yes, that was true. She seem relieved to admit it.

In closing, I asked if she asked this question before since she was very familiar with the answer she gave. She said yes. And I promised another donation. Which they will get after this post.

So, the question for Bushies, why was the Red Cross banned from NO when they knew people were starving? Could it be they were saving the convention center rescue until Bush's visit today? It certainly seems like it. Doesn't it?

Red Cross National Affairs number (202-303-5551)

Official statement from the Red Cross:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.

The Red Cross shares the nation’s anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.

The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.

The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.

As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.

In Massachusetts We'd Call This Yankee Ingenuity

A friend on a lawyer listserve sent me this story. This kid is definitely getting a pro bono lawyer. He found an abandoned bus in New Orleans, packed it with survivors, and drove it to the Astrodome. The reaction of the officials? They're going to charge him with theft. Unbelievable.

This kid is a hero. They should give him a medal. He evacuated 100 people faster than FEMA.

The link is to the video from the television story, followed by the transcript.

Taking refuge in the AstrodomeThursday, September 01, 2005 Updated: 07:55 PM

HOUSTON -- NEWSCHANNEL 5 crews were in Houston as some desperate refugees arrive in a stolen bus.

HOUSTON -- Thousands of refugees of Hurricane Katrina were transported to the Astrodome in Houston this week. In an extreme act of looting, one group actually stole a bus to escape ravaged areas in Louisiana.

About 100 people packed into the stolen bus. They were the first to enter the Houston Astrodome, but they weren't exactly welcomed.

The big yellow school bus wasn't expected or approved to pass through the stadium's gates. Randy Nathan, who was on the bus, said they were desperate to get out of town.

"If it werent for him right there," he said, "we'd still be in New Orleans underwater. He got the bus for us."

Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.

"I just took the bus and drove all the way hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus."

The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.

"It's better than being in New Orleans," said fellow passenger Albert McClaud, "we want to be somewhere where we're safe."

During a long and impatient delay, children popped their heads out of bus windows and mothers clutched their babies.

One 8-day-old infant spent the first days of his life surrounded by chaos. He's one of the many who are homeless and hungry.

Authorities eventually allowed the renegade passengers inside the dome.

But the 18-year-old who ensured their safety could find himself in a world of trouble for stealing the school bus.

"I dont care if I get blamed for it ," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people."

Sixty legally chartered buses were expected to arrive in Houston throughout the night. Thousands of people will be calling the Astrodome "home," at least for now.


Republicans National Disaster Plan: Repeal the Estate Tax and Cut Medicaid

Because we need fewer resources in times of national crisis.

My dad, the original congenital Democrat, was fond of this quote:

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

Because Republicans do and say things like this:

Priorities Posted by Matthew Yglesias Sept. 2, 2005

Yes it's despicable that faced with utter disaster George W. Bush's first impulse was to stay on vacation. But compare that to Pete Domenici who worries that with all this death and destruction it'll be hard to eliminate health care for poor people:

"This is a serious matter that calls into question all sorts of things," said Steve Bell, chief of staff to Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of a subcommittee that will handle much of the relief funding. "Do you think we're going to be able to pass substantial Medicaid cuts and Social Security reform in the middle of this? You can't put that much on the plate."

Poor baby. Bill Frist assures us later in the same article that estate tax repeal is still on the agenda. After all, it's not like anyone's foreseeing the need for spending on foreign wars or domestic disaster relief or anything like that in the near future.

Despite Katrina, Frist Will Call Vote on Estate Tax Repeal

Senate Finance Committee members were informed this morning that Sen. Bill Frist will move forward with a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax next week, likely on Tuesday, ThinkProgress has learned.

One stands in awe of Sen. Frist’s timing. Permanently repealing the estate tax would be a major blow to the nation’s charities. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has “found that the estate tax encourages wealthy individuals to donate considerably more to charity, since estate tax liability is reduced through donations made both during life and at death.” If there were no estate tax in 2000, for example, “charitable donations would have been between $13 billion to $25 billion lower than they actually were.”

As they did after 9/11 and during the lead-up to the Iraq war, conservatives have placed tax cuts for the most wealthy and well-off over the spirit of shared national sacrifice. What a stark contrast to the outpouring of generosity being shown by the American people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Lou Dobbs: Why Not Blame the (Black) New Orleans Mayor & Politicians?

I'm watching him on CNN, and he actually asked that question. Why aren't people blaming the black mayor of New Orleans? The black politicians?

Maybe because their houses are gone? Their resources were destroyed in the storm?

Did Lou blame the mayor of Homestead, Florida after Hurricane Andrew? For not taking care of it themselves?


7:39 p.m. update: Now Anderson Cooper is going on and on about this foolish question, what about the black mayor of New Orleans, he asks Jesse Jackson. Isn't he responsible. More responsible than the massive federal government? FEMA who kept other responders out of New Orleans?

Bet he never asked whether George W. Bush was responsible for 9/11 on 9/16. He never asked that question, did he? Did anyone.

Double moron. The MSM reverts to their prostrate form.

Why Didn't the Camera Show the Shoes?

Condoleeza Rice just gave a State Department briefing. No one asked her about her shoe shopping while Americans died.

Picture of Condi hitting a Monty Python Broadway show this past Wednesday while people were dying in New Orleans

Federal Government Lies on TV

What was said vs. What was happening
The big disconnect on New Orleans
The official version; then there's the in-the-trenches version

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Diverging views of a crumbling New Orleans emerged Thursday. The sanitized view came from federal officials at news conferences and television appearances. But the official line was contradicted by grittier, more desperate views from the shelters and the streets.

These conflicting views came within hours, sometimes minutes of each of each other, as reflected in CNN's transcripts. The speakers include Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, evacuee Raymond Cooper, CNN correspondents and others.

Just one example:

Hospital evacuations

[FEMA Director] Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations.

I just wish CNN would call these bald-faced lies and bald-faced liars, because that's all they are.

Bush Pledges to Rebuild Trent Lott's House

President Bush Hits the Scene, Giving Hope to... Uh, Trent Lott

"The good news," said the president, "is that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's gong to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Yes, he actually said that. Way to look on the bright side, Mr. President. "Fantastic!"

Of course, Trent Lott owns another house.

Bloggers are calling Bush's tour today "Operation Photo-Op".

Technical Issue

I have turned off comments because I have gotten several "Anonymous" posters trying to lead my readers to sites unknown. I must have gotten picked up by some syndication service.

I'll try to straighten this out next week.

Thousands Dead, More Dying Every Minute, Where Are The Networks?

A dailykos diary that hits home:

Where are the networks?

The tragedy in the southern gulf looks like it might be the greatest disaster in US history. The cable news has been 24/7 since before the storm. But where are NBC, CBS and ABC?

Is Dr. Phil really more important that tens of thousands of lives? Remember that the big 3 are the only "over the air" networks which is especially important in areas without power. Last night they showed football for god sakes.

After 9/11 it was a week of non-stop coverage.

Apocalypse Now

World stunned as US struggles with Katrina

But many have also been shocked by the images of disorder beamed around the world -- looters roaming the debris-strewn streets and thousands of people gathered in New Orleans waiting for the authorities to provide food, water and other aid.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

The pictures of the catastrophe -- which has killed hundreds and possibly thousands -- have evoked memories of crises in the world's poorest nations such as last year's tsunami in Asia, which left more than 230,000 people dead or missing.

But some view the response to those disasters more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

Send Bush to the Superdome & Make it Five

Housing court judges have a punishment of last resort for landlords whose properties are filthy and unliveable: sentence them to stay there until it's cleaned up.

Bush should be sent to the Superdome until New Orleans is cleaned up.

A City's Open Wounds
A walk through New Orleans is an assault on the senses: distressing sights and smells, an odd quiet in a water-choked urban wasteland.

In two days at the Superdome, I saw four white people among the estimated 23,000 there.

Where's Dick Cheney?

Just wondering. Americablog is wondering, too: Is Cheney ill?

We know Condi has been called back to Washington from New York City, where she was booed at the Broadway show Spamalot, and yelled at by a sane American while shoe shopping during a national catastrophe.

Bush is on TV now, biting his lip, listening to the thanks of the Republican governors of Alabama & Mississippi. "Making progress every day", Haley Barbour just said. Channelling his inner George W. Bush, I guess. Now Barbour is talking about people who didn't leave. Check, second GOP talking point.

They all look high school kids on the stage giving a report.

This is pathetic. They should have used Air Force One to drop water & food.

Staggeringly Ineffectual

Department of Homeland Screw-Up
What is the Bush administration doing?

The Bush administration has been staggeringly ineffectual in its response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in New Orleans. Its failures are painful evidence of how far we have to go in developing the capability to respond rapidly to a mass-casualty disaster.


How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow.


Located only three hours from New Orleans is Fort Polk, home of the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry unit with about 3,000 soldiers. Also at Fort Polk is the Joint Readiness Training Center, which prepares military units to respond rapidly to crises abroad. The 4th Brigade has been training for duty in Afghanistan. Why was it also not ready to take on a local disaster scenario in hurricane season? Or at the least, once the National Hurricane Center predicted that the eye of Katrina would come close to New Orleans, couldn't DHS have deployed the military to help shore up the levees?

And in the event of a WMD attack, when there would likely be no warning at all, what is DHS's contingency plan for moving into position the army or the marines to restore order and sustain life? In the wake of Katrina and the breached levee, the answer seems to be not much of one. In the wake of 9/11, that is worse than incomprehensible. It is unforgivable.

"What I'm seeing on TV now is a third-world country with a government unwilling or incompetent to fulfill its tasks."

Flood Relief: How it should be done

FEMA Director Mike Brown: "An unmitigated, total fucking disaster"

FEMA Dir. Mike Brown fired from prior job at Horse Assoc.

"An unmitigated, total fucking disaster." That's not a quote from Mike Brown, but rather, a quote describing him. And most disturbingly, it's not even a reference to his dismal performance as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This blunt critique was emailed to me from a regular reader who was apparently attracted to by her passion for politics and her love of Arabian horses.

I think I've told you that I'm into Arab horses. Well, for 3 years Michael Brown was hired and then fired by our IAHA, the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He was an unmitigated, total fucking disaster. I was shocked as hell when captain clueless put him in charge of FEMA a couple of years ago.


Yes, that's right... the man responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, sharpened his emergency management skills as the "Judges and Stewards Commissioner" for the International Arabian Horses Association... a position from which he was forced to resign in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray.

And how did Mike Brown get his job?

Much was made at the time and since about the fact that James Lee Witt was the first head of FEMA who had a professional background in emergency and disaster management.

No one seems to dispute the fact that prior to 1993, the agency was a dumping ground for patronage hires. (The change was also furthered by a devastating 1992 GAO report.)

President Bush replaced Witt with Joe Allbaugh, whose main qualification was that he was one of the president's main political fixers from Texas.

When Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003 to cash in on the Iraqi contracts bonanza, he was replaced by Michael Brown. Allbaugh originally brought Brown to FEMA as General Counsel. His qualification was that they were college buddies.

When Allbaugh bailed, he apparently gave the top job to Brown.

Bush Administration Destroyed FEMA

Why is FEMA not responding to Katrina? Kevin Drum tells us:


His conclusion:

So: A crony with no relevant experience was installed as head of FEMA. Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to be one of the top three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately downsized as part of the Bush administration's conservative agenda to reduce the role of government. After DHS [Department of Homeland Security] was created, FEMA's preparation and planning functions were taken away.

Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why New Orleans is Different Than Iraq

Because the dead and dying are Americans. Because it's happening on American soil. Because the news media is there.

I hate the MSM, but I've got to give them credit. Their wall-to-wall coverage is going to change a lot of people's opinions of George W. Bush. He can't give his talking points speeches ("Everything is beautiful, in its own way") and be believed while we are seeing live video feeds of the truth. American citizens are dying because his administration is utterly incompetent. Four days after the hurricane struck, and still no water, no food, no shelter, no major government presence in New Orleans.

There are no pictures of Bush's clusterfuck* in Iraq. He could get away with his lies there. This one's going to stick, and sink him.

*Cheese sandwich is out the window. Fuck's sake, this is a disaster.

Lake George

"Lake George" is what folks are calling New Orleans filled with water.

A Tragedy By Any Other Name

Bush Spent Levee Money in Iraq

Budget cuts delayed New Orleans flood control work

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

The former head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that handles the infrastructure of the nation's waterways, said the damage in New Orleans probably would have been much less extensive had flood-control efforts been fully funded over the years.

"Levees would have been higher, levees would have been bigger, there would have been other pumps put in," said Mike Parker, a former Mississippi congressman who headed the engineering agency from 2001 to 2002.

GWB: The Blind Man

No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.


The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."

"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.

A Dearth of Answers

George W. Bush, interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America today:
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

The Federal Government Mobilizes

Biloxi Newspaper Rips Relief Effort, Begs for Help

Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?

On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.

Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!

When asked why these young men were not being used to help in the recovery effort, our reporters were told that it would be pointless to send military personnel down to the beach to pick up debris.

Litter is the least of our problems. We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster.

Hurricane Updates You'll Never Hear

Someone emailed this to me, without attribution.

Subject: Hurricane updates the general public won't hear
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 17:07:40 +0000

While it happened, President Bush decided to ... continue his vacation, stopping by the Pueblo El Mirage RV and Golf Resort in El Mirage, California, to hawk his Medicare drug benefit plan. On Sunday, President Bush said, "I want to thank all the folks at the federal level and the state level and the local level who have taken this storm seriously." He's not one of them. Below, the Progress Report presents "How Not to Prepare for a Massive Hurricane," by President Bush, congressional conservatives, and their corporate special interest allies.

SLASH SPENDING ON HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS IN NEW ORLEANS: Two months ago, President Bush took an ax to budget funds that would have helped New Orleans prepare for such a disaster. The New Orleans branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suffered a "record $71.2 million" reduction in federal funding, a 44.2 percent reduction from its 2001 levels. Reports at the time said that thanks to the cuts, "major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. ... Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now." (Too bad Louisiana isn't a swing state. In the aftermath of Hurricane Frances -- and the run-up to the 2004 election -- the Bush administration awarded $31 million in disaster relief to Florida residents who didn't even experience hurricane damage.)

DESTROY NATURAL HURRICANE PROTECTIONS: The Gulf Coast wetlands form a "natural buffer that helps protect New Orleans from storms," slowing hurricanes down as they approach from sea. When he came into office, President Bush pledged to uphold the "no net loss" wetland policy his father initiated. He didn't keep his word. Bush rolled back tough wetland policies set by the Clinton administration, ordering federal agencies "to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands and an untold number of waterways nationwide." Last year, four environmental groups issued a joint report showing that administration policies had allowed "developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands." The result? New Orleans may be in even greater danger: "Studies show that if the wetlands keep vanishing over the next few decades, then you won't need a giant storm to devastate New Orleans -- a much weaker, more common kind of hurricane could destroy the city too."

GUT THE AGENCY TASKED WITH DEVELOPING HURRICANE RESPONSES: Forward-thinking federal plans with titles like "Issues and Options in Flood Hazards Management," "Floods: A National Policy Concern," and "A Framework for Flood Hazards Management" would be particularly valuable in a time of increasingly intense hurricanes. Unfortunately, the agency that used to produce them -- the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) -- was gutted by Gingrich conservatives several years ago. As Chris Mooney (who presciently warned of the need to bulk up hurricane defenses in New Orleans last May) noted yesterday, "If we ever return to science-based policymaking based on professionalism and expertise, rather than ideology, an office like OTA would be very useful in studying how best to save a city like New Orleans -- and how Congress might consider appropriating money to achieve this end."

SEND OUR FIRST RESPONDERS TO FIGHT A WAR OF CHOICE: National Guard and Reserve soldiers are typically on the front lines responding to disasters like Katrina -- that is, if they're not fighting in Iraq. Roughly 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is currently deployed in Iraq, where guardsmen and women make up about four of every 10 soldiers. Additionally, "Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators" used by the Louisiana Guard are also tied up abroad. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," Louisiana National Guard Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider told reporters earlier this month. "Recruitment is down dramatically, mostly because prospective recruits are worried about deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan or another country," the AP reported recently. "I used to be able to get about eight people a month," said National Guard 1st Sgt. Derick Young, a New Orleans recruiter. "Now, I'm lucky if I can get one."

HELP FUEL GLOBAL WARMING: Severe weather occurrences like hurricanes and heat waves already take hundreds of lives and cause millions in damages each year. As the Progress Report has noted, data increasingly suggest that human-induced global warming is making these phenomena more dangerous and extreme than ever. "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service," science author Ross Gelbspan writes. "Its real name is global warming." AP reported recently on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis that shows that "major storms spinning in both the Atlantic and the Pacific ... have increased in duration and intensity by about 50 percent" since the 1970s, trends that are "closely linked to increases in the average temperatures of the ocean surface and also correspond to increases in global average atmospheric temperatures during the same period." Yet just last week, as Katrina was gathering steam and looming over the Gulf, the Bush administration released new CAFE standards that actually encourage automakers to produce bigger, less fuel efficient vehicles, while preventing states from taking strong, progressive action to reverse global warming.

Cheese Sandwich George Bush

The news says George Bush will "tour" the devastation of Hurricane Katrina tomorrow.

Maybe he'll spit on those poor people from Air Force One, so they can get some water from his pathetic administration and their disgracefully poor disaster effort.

No water, no food, no shelter, no sanitation, no information. Those poor people have been abandoned by their government. Shame, shame.

Hurricane Global Warming

I hope the author doesn't mind, because I'm posting this article (published in August 30th) in its entirety:

Katrina's Real Name

The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.

When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming.

When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the driver was global warming.

When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming.

In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in 30 years, the explanation was global warming.

When a lethal heat wave in Arizona kept temperatures above 110 degrees and killed more than 20 people in one week, the culprit was global warming.

And when the Indian city of Bombay (Mumbai) received 37 inches of rain in one day -- killing 1,000 people and disrupting the lives of 20 million others -- the villain was global warming.

As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.

Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying.

Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.

The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial enterprises in history.

In 1995, public utility hearings in Minnesota found that the coal industry had paid more than $1 million to four scientists who were public dissenters on global warming. And ExxonMobil has spent more than $13 million since 1998 on an anti-global warming public relations and lobbying campaign.

In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected president -- and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.

As the pace of climate change accelerates, many researchers fear we have already entered a period of irreversible runaway climate change.

Against this background, the ignorance of the American public about global warming stands out as an indictment of the US media.

When the US press has bothered to cover the subject of global warming, it has focused almost exclusively on its political and diplomatic aspects and not on what the warming is doing to our agriculture, water supplies, plant and animal life, public health, and weather.

For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.

Today, with the science having become even more robust -- and the impacts as visible as the megastorm that covered much of the Gulf of Mexico -- the press bears a share of the guilt for our self-induced destruction with the oil and coal industries.

As a Bostonian, I am afraid that the coming winter will -- like last winter -- be unusually short and devastatingly severe. At the beginning of 2005, a deadly ice storm knocked out power to thousands of people in New England and dropped a record-setting 42.2 inches of snow on Boston.

The conventional name of the month was January. Its real name is global warming.

Ross Gelbspan is author of ''The Heat Is On" and ''Boiling Point."

© 2005 Boston Globe

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Watch Out Big Daddy

Somebody warn that decadent den of iniquity, Hilton Head: The Christians are coming, the Christians are coming!

Strategizing a Christian coup d'etat: A group of believers wants to establish Scriptures-based government one city and county at a time.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It began, as many road trips do, with a stop at Wal-Mart to buy a portable DVD player.

But Mario DiMartino was planning more than a weekend getaway. He, his wife and three children were embarking on a pilgrimage to South Carolina.

"I want to migrate and claim the gold of the Lord," said the 38-year-old oil company executive from Pennsylvania. "I want to replicate the statutes and the mores and the scriptures that the God of the Old Testament espoused to the world."

DiMartino, who drove here recently to look for a new home, is a member of Christian Exodus, a movement of politically active believers who hope to establish a government based upon Christian principles.

At a time when evangelicals are exerting influence on the national political stage — having helped secure President Bush's reelection — Christian Exodus believes that people of faith have failed to assert their moral agenda: Abortion is legal. School prayer is banned. There are limits on public displays of the Ten Commandments. Gays and lesbians can marry in Massachusetts.

Christian Exodus activists plan to take control of sheriff's offices, city councils and school boards. Eventually, they say, they will control South Carolina. They will pass godly legislation, defying Supreme Court rulings on the separation of church and state.

"We're going to force a constitutional crisis," said Cory Burnell, 29, an investment advisor who founded the group in November 2003.

"If necessary," he said, "we will secede from the union."