Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Legal Oxymoron, And I Mean MORON, Justice Rehnquist

1. He hated everyone who wasn't a rich white man. From Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe:

'The unvarnished truth about Rehnquist'

This was a chief justice of the Supreme Court who dissented in last year's 5-4 ruling in favor of a paraplegic who sued the state of Tennessee for courtroom access. The man dragged himself up 24 stairs for a traffic violation hearing because the court had no elevator. When he did not show up for a second appearance, saying he was humiliated by crawling up the stairs, he was arrested.

Rehnquist was not impressed by the man's plight. "A violation of due process occurs only when a person is actually denied the constitutional right to access a given judicial proceeding," Rehnquist wrote. Translated, it is not enough that a man could not walk up the stairs. There must be evidence that Bull Connor was at the door to beat him back down.

2. He was a junkie. From Slate:

Chief Justice Rehnquist's Drug Habit
The man in full.

And for the nine years between 1972 and the end of 1981, William Rehnquist consumed great quantities of the potent sedative-hypnotic Placidyl. So great was Rehnquist's Placidyl habit, dependency, or addiction—depending on how you regard long-term drug use—that by the last quarter of 1981 he began slurring his speech in public, became tongue-tied while pronouncing long words, and sometimes had trouble finishing his thoughts.

3. He harassed black and Hispanic voters at polling places in Arizona. From Justice Watch:

Harassed minority voters in Arizona.
Several witnesses have stated under oath that Justice Rehnquist harassed minority voters during the early 1960's. Justice Rehnquist denies he harassed minority voters. James Brosnahan, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Phoenix from 1961 to 1963, said in a statement delivered to Congress that on election day in 1962, he and several assistant U.S. attorneys were assigned the task of receiving complaints alleging illegal interference with the voting process. The group received several complaints from precincts in South Phoenix. The precincts were predominately black and Hispanic. The complaints involved Justice Rehnquist. Broshnahan visited one of the precincts. When he arrived he saw Justice Rehnquist. There were reports that poll watchers had to physically push Rehnquist out of polling places to stop him from interfering with the voting rights of the minority citizens.

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

Sober Overview from Knight Ridder

From Knight Ridder:

Failure At Every Turn

the concluding graf:
When the time comes for the postmortems, and it will, one big question will be one that Nagin posed during hurricane week: "How many people died as a result of us not having the resources to get them water, to get them pulled out of harm's way quick enough to get them evacuated out of this city?"

"Team Hate America"

From the Booman Tribune:

Defeat the Katrina 11

Can you even imagine voting against a Katrina relief bill after watching YOUR federal government cl*sterf*ck up the entire operation?

These fools did:

These eleven congressmen, Republican conservatives all, just voted against the $51 billion package (H.R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Horrible human beings, all.

Rep. Joe Barton - TX

Jeff Flake - AZ

Virginia Foxx - NC

Scott Garrett - NJ

John Hostettler - IN

Steve King - IA

Butch Otter - ID

Ron Paul - TX

James Sensenbrenner - WI

Tom Tancredo - CO

Lynn Westmoreland - GA

Kos of dailykos calls them "Team Hate America"

"We lost thousands of lives that could have been saved"

The New York Times analysis of the response to the Katrina hurricane gets it right, I think:

Disarray Marked the Path From Hurricane to Anarchy

...[A]n initial examination of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath demonstrates the extent to which the federal government failed to fulfill the pledge it made after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to face domestic threats as a unified, seamless force....

Oliver Thomas, the New Orleans City Council president, expressed a view shared by many in city and state government: that a national disaster requires a national response. "Everybody's trying to look at it like the City of New Orleans messed up," Mr. Thomas said in an interview. "But you mean to tell me that in the richest nation in the world, people really expected a little town with less than 500,000 people to handle a disaster like this? That's ludicrous to even think that."....

[T]he chief federal failure was not anticipating that the city and state would be so compromised.....

70 percent of the New Orleans area's 53 nursing homes were not evacuated before the hurricane struck Monday morning....

Before the last people were evacuated [from the Convention Center] that Saturday, several bodies were dumped near a door, and two or three babies died of dehydration....24 people died either inside or just outside the convention center.....

FEMA's deference was frustrating. Rather than initiate relief efforts - buses, food, troops, diesel fuel, rescue boats - the agency waited for specific requests from state and local officials. "When you go to war you don't have time to ask for each round of ammunition that you need," complained Colonel Ebbert, the city's emergency operations director.....

"We lost thousands of lives that could have been saved," [Wayne County, Michigan] Sheriff [Warren C.] Evans, said.

"It was being poor that doomed them, not the color of their skin."

From the Binghamton Press, via Common Dreams, the incomparable Dave Rossie:

File Today's Feelings for Future Use

However guilty Cheney and Bush may be of negligence and indifference to human suffering, branding them as racist because most of the New Orleanians trapped in the Super Dome and Convention Center were African-American is a bum rap. Seventy percent of the residents of New Orleans are black. And poor. It was being poor that doomed them, not the color of their skin.

To an administration dedicated to making America's wealthiest even wealthier, the nation's poor have grown in number as they've become increasingly invisible. But they're hard to ignore when they're floating in the streets of New Orleans.

New Orleans is under military control today, and not a moment too soon. And not for the first time or the worst time. That would have been in the spring of 1862, when Union troops under Ben Butler, a Democratic politician from Massachusetts turned Union general, occupied the city. Then as now looting became a problem, but then it was Butler's troops who were doing the looting. Butler himself earned the nickname "Spoons" for his deftness in acquiring silverware from houses in the city, and his brother, not to be outdone, made a small fortune selling confiscated cotton.

After the war, Butler became a radical Republican.

The more things change...

You Might Want to Check Out Your Local FEMA Chief

Atrios reports on a new game: Who's Your FEMA Flunky?

Find Your FEMA Flunky Here!

Here's what the Seattle Times found when they looked at the FEMA chief of the Northwest Region:

Local FEMA chief had little disaster experience

John Pennington, the official in charge of federal disaster response in the Northwest, was a four-term Republican state representative who ran a mom-and-pop coffee company in Cowlitz County when then-Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn helped him get his federal post.

Before he was appointed regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Pennington got a degree from a correspondence school that government investigators later described as a "diploma mill."

Pennington, 38, says he worked for his degree and he is qualified for the FEMA job.

FEMA and the qualifications of its managers have come under fire in recent days as the government's response to Hurricane Katrina has been heavily criticized. Yesterday, FEMA Director Michael Brown was removed as commander of hurricane-relief efforts in Louisiana and ordered back to Washington, D.C.

If you have an "acting" regional director, you're in luck -- the Bush Administration hasn't had a chance to appoint a hack from the Bush-Cheney campaign to that office yet.

Following Katrina

How to follow the disaster aftermath from afar:

The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Baton Rouge CBS

Houston Chronicle Domeblog

Knight Ridder: Hurricane Katrina

Sun Herald (South Mississippi)

Survival of New Orleans blog

Survivor Stories III

Survivor stories: New Orleans journo and former CP staffer Katy Reckdahl on the view from Touro Infirmary

Cri du coeur
A volunteer psychologist's account of evacuee conditions in Dallas

New Orleans Evacuees Unknowingly Land in Utah

New Orleans Residents Unknowingly Land in Utah, Part II

Big Easy trip still haunts group
School chums head to city for fun but instead recount tale of fear and escape

Two more Katrina survivors arrive home

Coatesville grad returns as hurricane evacuee

Surviving Katrina

Hurricane anger fades as Aussies return home

Voices From the Storm, as Reported by Ethnic Media

Hurricane Katrina: An evacuee's tale

‘Like angels from heaven’
Charleston couple housed Katrina evacuees overnight

Muncie native recalls Katrina horrors

New Orleans couple starts fresh in Burnsville

Not Exactly Abraham Lincoln

From driftglass:

Actual Death Tax... of today, the Global Something-or-other on Whateverthefuck we are Fighting has now lasted longer than the entire American Civil War....

Wanna take odds whether or not, if Abraham Lincoln had been President these last sorry and sad four years, Osama Bin Laden’s head would long ago have be on a pike in the Rose Garden?

Conversely, if George McClellan had had a brain-damaged wastrel brother, and that clown had been commander-in-chief, perhaps we would have responded to Fort Sumter by invading Peru. And perhaps four years into the war Jeff Davis would be sitting comfortably in a mansion in Florida, sending mocking letters to White House, while freshly-radicalized Peruvians streamed across the border to fight and die for him under the Stars and Bars.

What Does Mike Brown Have To Do To Get Fired?

Fema chief Mike Brown has been relieved of command in New Orleans, but he has been sent back to Washington DC to continue to "lead" FEMA.

If he had tangentially criticized Karl Rove, now that is something he could have been fired for:

Texas Fires Lawyer After Story on Rove
Talking to Post Reporter Called Violation

When Post reporter Lori Montgomery telephoned the press office of the Texas secretary of state, the press officer was on vacation, and Montgomery was transferred to Reyes. The attorney, who spoke in two separate telephone calls, told Montgomery that it was potential voter fraud in Texas to register in a place where you don't actually live, and she was quoted as saying Rove's cottages don't "sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation."

Reyes said yesterday that she was not aware that she was talking to a reporter, that she was not aware the discussion was about Rove, and that she had explained in the interviews that an individual's intent to return to Texas is a primary factor in qualifying for residency.

She told truth. That is the law. She didn't even know she was being asked about Rove -- the Washington Post confirms later in the story that she wasn't told the questions were about Rove -- yet she has been fired for giving an accurate description of the law regarding voter registration.

Kill thousands: Keep your job. Give accurate information that makes Karl Rove look bad: Out on your keester.

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

President Photo Op: I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees

Except when the predecessor of FEMA studied this very scenario, in 1968.
From the New York Times:

A Predicted Flood

Published: September 10, 2005
To the Editor:

In 1968 I was the lead consultant on a study of federal disaster response for the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the predecessor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. One aspect of the study was estimating the effects of a superdisaster on the existing emergency response system.

The model we used was hurricane-caused flooding in New Orleans associated with failures of the Lake Pontchartrain levees. The real world is playing out our predictions with tragic consequences.

Roger H. Marz
Bath, Mich., Sept. 4, 2005

President Al Gore

Here's what Al Gore, PRIVATE CITIZEN, unfortunately, managed to do while President Eternal Vacation dithered. Imagine if Al had had the power of the federal of government at his disposal. As the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election, not the voters, that's the legacy of Sandra Day O'Connor: She gave us the Smirking Chimp and thousands of dead on the Gulf Coast.

From AP:

Gore helps airlift New Orleans victims

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Al Gore helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president's son.

Gore criticized the Bush administration's slow response to Katrina in a speech Friday in San Francisco, but refused to be interviewed about the mercy missions he financed and flew last Saturday and Sunday.

However, Dr. Anderson Spickard, who is Gore's personal physician and accompanied him on the flights, said: "Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Forget the "Blame Game". What's the Game Plan?

After reading this post Phrase matching on Democratic Veteran I got to thinking, how can we reframe the debate in the corporate media?

I want the TV talking heads to stop regurgitating the Bushco spin line that to criticize the federal response is to engage in a "blame game".

How about "What's the game plan?"

As in, do we have the right players on the field?
Are our tactics correct?
Is this a winning strategy?

If Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff were athletes they'd be on a one-way train to Palookaville.

Of course, our GM is the worst of all. I don't even know who to compare Bush to. Ferdinand Marcos (they've both got shoe-shopping wives, Imelda and Condoleeza)? Captain Queeg rolling around his ball bearings and muttering "problem solvers, solving problems..."?

Anyone got any ideas on reframing the debate? Leave a comment.

Once Again: Is This My Country?

From the Denver Post, the story of one of the "shelters" run by FEMA.

Evacuees' stories are moving, but fence isn't

If I didn't know better, I'd have thought I was peering through the fence at a concentration camp.

The signs on the buildings say "Community College of Aurora," though for now they're serving as an impromptu Camp Katrina. About 160 hurricane survivors are being housed in the dorms, surrounded by fences, roadblocks, security guards and enough armed police officers to invade Grenada.

There's a credentials unit to process every visitor, an intake unit to provide identification tags and a bag of clothes to every evacuee, several Salvation Army food stations, portable toilets, shuttle buses, a green army-tent chapel with church services three times a day and a communications team to keep reporters as far away from actual news as possible.

It probably was easier for a reporter to get inside Gitmo on Tuesday than to penetrate the force field around Lowry.

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished, a Flash file (audio/video) created by Cookie Jill at skippy.

I found the link at Democratic Veteran: SHOCK Wave

Skippy On a Roll Last Night

Read Skippy:

i suppose this is the fault of the environmental movement or something...

take the third-world test today!

Survivor Stories II

Larry Mitzel of Saskatoon and his friend, Jill Johnson of La Ronge, Canada: Holiday in hell: Sask. pair recount ordeal in New Orleans

Larry Bradshaw and Lorri Beth Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans: EMS & Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

hans Buder from Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; Sonny Byrd from Rock Hill, S.C.; and David Hankla from Washington, D.C.: 3 Duke students tell of 'disgraceful' scene

Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, England: Briton slams US rescue 'shambles'

We looted to live

BBC Video clip

Vancouver's Urban Search and Rescue Crew: Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue

Evan Wolf, military reservist, Carville, Louisiana: Escape From New Orleans

Wardell Quezergue, "the Creole Beethoven": Living Legend Now In Fort Worth Tells Story Of Survival

Charles Covington, New Orleans, LA: Hurricane survivor shares his story (registration required; use for username/password)

Wellington Saunders, police officer, Freeport, Bahamas: I escaped watery grave

Constable Saunders, who is stationed in Freeport, was even stopped from evacuating New Orleans by United States law enforcement officers just 12 hours before Katrina hit.
"It was Sunday afternoon when I started to evacuate. I drove in my car to I-10 towards to Baton Rouge," said ConstablConstable Saunders who was sent by the Royal Bahamas Police Force to study in New Orleans and had just four months to go before taking his final exams.
"The traffic was bumper to bumper so the state troopers and the police enforcement officers stopped everybody and we had to turn around to go back to New Orleans," added Constable Saunders, who was in The Bahamian sprint team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Lori Wilson, New Orleans, LA: Storm survivor here in Auburn
New Orleans resident escaped with little more than two dogs

Britons return to tell of anarchy in Superdome

Katrina Survivor Reunited With Daughter In Seaside
Leonard Pierce Trapped For Days In New Orleans

Survivor recounts a harrowing tale

Stephen Rea, Belfast, Ireland: I'm so lucky to have survived

New Orleans 'is gone,' says Canadian survivor

Framingham, Mass.: Vacation getaway

Mother of New Orleans’ last unclaimed baby finally found

Welcome to Lynnwood
A couple live up to their promise and bring their relatives home

New Orleans man, daughters arrive in Peoria for fresh start

Now in Sturtevant, Katrina survivors tell a harrowing tale

Indiana student:
Riding out the storm: Part 1
Riding out the storm: Part 2
Riding out the storm: Part 3

He's So Unqualified, Bush Must Be Thinking About Putting Brownie on the Supreme Court

From Time magazine:

How Reliable Is Brown's Resume?
A TIME investigation reveals discrepancies in the FEMA chief's official biographies

From dailykos:

FEMA's Brown padded resume: hardly a lawyer, either

Although much of this article dwells on Brown's status as a lawyer and whether or not his law school was accredited by some organization that I never heard of, the AALS, I think his law school was accredited by the American Bar Association. So he's a lawyer, just a bad one. Which seems to be what he has been his whole life -- a lazy useless SOB. So of course that's who President Eternal Vacation chose to run the country's largest disaster response agency. Brownie, you're doin a great job!

From dailykos:

Brown's emergency management experience came when he was 20 and still working on his BA

How many 47 year olds do you know that have a resume that includes jobs they held while working on their undergraduate degree?

A 12/03/2001 White House press release nominating Michael D. Brown as Deputy Director of FEMA states:

...from 1975 to 1978, Brown worked for the City of Edmond, Oklahoma, overseeing the emergency services divisions.


(1) How many "emergency services divisions" do you suppose your average city of approximately 25,000 in Oklahoma ordinarily maintains?
(2) What credentials did Brown have for his Edmond 'oversight' job in addition to his high school diploma? Was it a full time position? What percentage of the position was devoted to emergency services?
(3) Just how desperate was the White House in looking for justification for Brown's nomination to include this college job in their official press release?


More biographical data may be found at Findlaw. Additional research on Brown's background may yield some additional interesting details. For example, Findlaw includes the following entry for Brown:

Chairman, Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Edmond, OK, 1980 - Present

The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority web site states:
The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority was established by the Oklahoma Legislature on June 2, 1981. Why? What forces caused the creation of this joint action agency? What did the participants expect the Authority to accomplish that was beyond their reach as individual cities? OMPA was formed to provide an adequate, economical, and reliable source of electric power for cities who owned their municipal electric system on the date of "The Act."

Was it 1980 or 1981? And what qualifies an individual who is just finishing law school to be the best candidate to be selected as Chairman of this new organization?

From TPM Cafe:

42 Minutes of Shame

Brown was confirmed by the Senate after a 42 minute hearing.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Anatomy of Disaster

From Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly:

Katrina Timelines

"Bush: One of the Worst Disasters to Hit the US"

Sometimes even TV gets it right.

From dailykos:

The Best Picture Ever

Bring Out Your Dead

From What Happened:

This link takes you to a site that collects photographs of the Katrina Disaster dead. Don't click on it unless you have a strong stomach.

Yesterday Reuters reported that FEMA "refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas, saying they would take up valuable space need in the recovery effort and asked them not to take pictures of the dead." FEMA Accused of Censorship

Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable.

"The notion that, when there's very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."

"A blue spray-painted sign: 'ABOUT TIME BUSH'"

From CNN:

Victims feel forgotten in southeastern Louisiana
'St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines was ground zero'

About 20 people have been staying there these days. On a boarded-up window out front is a blue spray-painted sign: "ABOUT TIME BUSH!"

"The governor and the president let thousands of people die and they let them die on their roofs and they let them die in the water," said Davis, 45. "We got left. They didn't care."

UK Watches Us From Across the Pond

The UK press is more likely to stay with the true story than our corporate media:

The Telegraph:

Nearly 100 Britons are still missing

The Times:

Katrina Tales: day 11
Canadians arrive days before US Army

Hurricane Katrina
In a country with three main layers of government and multiple sub-divisions within those layers, confusion is inevitable when all must work together without an agreed script. To minimise that confusion, responsibility for responding to disasters is supposed to start with those closest to them. In this case, they were among the victims. The entire echelon of first responders in New Orleans, including firefighters, police and local National Guard units, were driven from their own homes and often to despair. Two police officers committed suicide. The city government moved to Baton Rouge.

The Guardian:

'They lied to us to get us to move'

The Independent:

Cost to US economy could be ten times greater than 9/11

BBC: Hurricane Katrina: In Depth

"The original Federal Disaster Declaration... does not include New Orleans"

From Why Now:

FEMA's Initial Screw-Up

The original Federal Disaster Declaration issued on August 27th included every parish in Louisiana except those likely to be struck. It does not include New Orleans or the surrounding area.

A second Disaster Declaration that included New Orleans was not issued until August 29th.

Yes, it's true, the most f*cked up of all f*cked up bureaucracies, the cesspool of former Bush-Cheney staffers appointed by the Master of Disaster George W. Bush., the agency that assigns firefighters to publicize a phone number, these fools couldn't even figure out that when a massive storm is headed from the ocean to the land, that the land closest to the ocean will get it, and get it the worst.

Cl*sterf*ck beyond cl*sterf*ck.

"Hidden Horrors of Mississippi"

From A Night Light (via skippy the bush kangaroo)

the hidden horrors of mississippi

the hidden horrors of mississippi

hiding the devastation to score political points ...

We keep hearing from the Republican excuse makers that the problems in New Orleans are the fault of its Mayor, and of Louisiana's Governor. So how are things in their state, the one with a former GOP party chairman as Governor and two greasy insiders as Senators? Hint: not so great. But the Republican strategy of suppressing information has been more successful there in restricting information from getting to the public.

The information we do have paints the picture of a state out of touch with the situation on the ground, vulnerable elderly left alone in their own feces to be robbed and terrified, and a toxic waste situation so badly neglected that entire areas have become "haz-mat" zones. People there are suffering, too, but their misfortune is being downplayed for political reasons. A media fascinated with the photogenic misery of New Orleans has unwittingly played into their hands.


Consider Bay High School in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was an unofficial shelter turned cesspool, the sight of which ... should be considered a crime..,..people in their 70s, 80s and 90s wallowing in their own waste on the auditorium floors. They had been brought to the school and abandoned, most unable to move without help.

"Rats wouldn't even go in there," said Turner, of Bay St. Louis.

25,000 Body Bags

From CNN:

Teams removing 30 bodies found in nursing home

Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals, told The Associated Press that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has 25,000 body bags in the state.

And we know that FEMA has undersupplied this disaster in every other form of supply.

I Wish I Had Written This

By Alan Bisbort in the Hartford Advocate

Kill Your TV
No wonder we are so collectively stupid

....TV is evil. It is pernicious, vile, creepy, stupid, annoying, abusive, divisive, dangerous, devious, and dumb, dumb, oh so proudly dumb....

For example, on the night of the hurricane, rather than focus on the unfolding human tragedy -- and this will be as devastating, in sheer human toll, as any natural disaster in American history -- the freaks on cable news were concentrating on "looters" (read: black people getting supplies to feed families because our president, the most unpopular in modern times, is on permanent vacation, has sent the National Guard needed to monitor and manage this catastrophe off to die in an illegal war in Iraq, and he is "getting on with my life"). These correspondents were posed so that their perfect hair was mussed by the wind, to demonstrate how they were putting their lives in danger, and they were talking about, oh .... uh ... how this "wasn't a direct hit" and "it wasn't as bad as it could have been." Are you shitting me? This was hell on earth, as devastating as that tsunami all the Republican politicians wanted to use as a backdrop for compassionate conservative photo opps.

The Aristocrats, George W. Bush Edition

A Joke

Alligators in New Orleans

From skippy the bush kangaroo:

i think we know the outcome to this "investigation"

Click on the link to see the horrifying picture of an alligator, mouth red with blood, sitting on the floor inside a building littered with debris (and presumably corpses).

Here's the link to the original article which is in German except for the headline:

EXTRA: Hurrikan "Katrina"
New Orleans
"Get the fuck out of here"

Steve Gilliard called this four days ago:

Thank you President Bush and FEMA Director Brown

"Incompetence is bad enough; not taking responsibility for it is shameful. Blaming it on others is a national disgrace."

From today's Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune:

Editorial: Accountability/Little to be seen on Katrina

If the human misery that followed Hurricane Katrina has been shocking and painful, the federal government's shifting explanations for its needless severity have been utterly shameful.

That assessment is not part of some political, postdisaster "blame game," but an insistence that accountability for preparing for and responding to a major U.S. disaster be placed squarely where it belongs: the federal government and its emergency-response program, FEMA.

The Bush administration's attempts to shift accountability elsewhere -- first to the victims stuck in New Orleans for not leaving, later to Louisiana officials and "bureaucrats" -- are an appalling use of political tactics in the highly inappropriate realm of human suffering and pain, of lives saved and lives lost.

That realm requires that officials accept responsibility, express true and deep understanding of the dislocation and misery being experienced, and redouble efforts to make up for a sickeningly bungled start.


Exactly what went wrong, in both the planning and the response, must be assessed in short order. The ability of the United States to prepare for and respond to disaster -- whatever the origin -- is vital to its security. No less, it is critical to America's ability to honor its shared values, which include attending to the poor, the sick, the vulnerable -- the very people who suffered most from the government's incompetence last week. Yet the White House delays the reckoning while pointing fingers at others.

Incompetence is bad enough; not taking responsibility for it is shameful. Blaming it on others is a national disgrace.

"You're Doin' a Heck of a Job, Brownie"

After I read the first story in the Boston Globe, I found all the rest by googling "fema frustrated". Note that most of these are official, state or local governmental entities that are being kept out of the disaster area by FEMA.

Massachusetts: SEARCH AND RESCUE
Beverly-based team returns, reluctantly

BEVERLY -- Tired, but frustrated after what some described as a too-brief deployment, members of a federal disaster response team based in Beverly returned yesterday from Mississippi, where they had spent three days searching the ravaged city of Waveland for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Gerry Giunta, the team's second in command and a Salem fire captain, said that after about 36 hours of preparation and driving, it took the team just three days to finish its mission. Then they were promptly sent home, he said.

''There's a lot of frustration, but it's out of our hands," Giunta said. ''It's frustrating for us as responders . . . I think there was a lot more to do."

Kentucky: FEMA red tape frustrates local paramedics

Oldham County EMS workers mobilized in three hours, then waited four days to get to Louisiana. One member says if there is any criticism about emergency response, it should be aimed at FEMA.

Wisconsin: Volunteers frustrated by issues with trip
Group says relief efforts unorganized

Florida: Local Air Boaters Frustrated That They Couldn’t Help In Louisiana

Pennsylvania, Michigan, California: Eager to Help, Frustrated Firefighters Wait for Orders

California: The Morning Read: Searchers ready – and waiting

They saved a parakeet....They have become the caged birds of Hurricane Katrina. They didn't save any humans Tuesday. They didn't find any bodies. They didn't search. They weren't allowed to help anyone in any way. Except for the parakeet.

The forced inactivity of Task Force 5 is maddening to the 80 members of this crew. On Wednesday, they were deployed to the edge of two ravaged neighborhoods but were not given the tools or the order they needed to conduct a search.

West Virginia: Fed-caused ‘bottleneck’ delays refugees’ arrival

The governor of Texas has asked other states to take Hurricane Katrina refugees. Camp Dawson in Preston County has plenty of room, and West Virginia Air National Guard transport planes are in Houston, ready to go.

But between early Sunday and Monday evening, no refugees were allowed to board.

Why? Federal officials took over the Texas evacuation Sunday night, and then the flow of refugees stopped, said Lara Ramsburg, spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin.

Michigan: Frustrated West Michigan truckers dealing with unorganized Katrina relief efforts

Federal Emergency Management Agency contacted Great Lakes Customs Brokerage, who in turn contracted Terveer Trucking of Fremont. Terveer immediately sent two drivers to Mississippi with 40,000 pounds of much-needed ice. They arrived three days ago, but the ice is still in the back of the trailer and not in the hands of those who need it...."They've been down there since Saturday. And they're still loaded with ice," said Peter Terveer.

Kentucky: Louisville firefighters save lives in New Orleans
The rescue team says it was frustrated by a lack of command, communications, and directions but say they made their own mission.....Members sometimes commandeered abandoned boats in New Orleans for their rescue mission. The team said in the last few days of their work a FEMA squad followed them around because they had been so successful in reaching residents.

Maine: Bangor team awaits word to mobilize: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 -

BANGOR - Out on the tarmac at Bangor International Airport on Tuesday, Richard Bowie was busy organizing a mission to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As director of the Bangor-based Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, or DEEMI, Bowie was clearly in his element - bustling around the supply trailers, taking inventory of water, food, clothing, medical needs, safety gear and camping equipment for 15 frustrated volunteers who are champing at the bit to get down to the Gulf Coast and help....."FEMA's not communicating with MEMA, and MEMA's not communicating with the people in the field," Bowie said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its Maine counterpart. "We're pretty much all ready to go. We thought we'd be leaving yesterday, then this morning or this afternoon, but we haven't heard anything yet. We're just waiting for the green light from MEMA."

Utah: Some Help Not Making it to Gulf Coast

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office owns one of the best boats in the country for shallow water rescue. The brand new craft was ready to go to Louisiana four days ago......The community pitched in emergency supplies to deliver. Last week the National Sheriff's Association put out a request for boats like this on behalf of the state of Louisiana. But the boat cannot go unless it has FEMA authorization or a specific request from a state in the disaster area, a request to our state for help. Authorization stalled in the complexity of managing this disaster.

10:30 a.m. update: From Taken together, Katrina headlines yield a disturbing picture of refused aid.

Letter to the New York Times

I just sent this letter to the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Why are you letting the Bush Administration spin their disgraceful and criminal response to Hurricane Katrina by letting them lie anonymously?

Just today, in an article about Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff -- a man Americans watch repeatedly lie about conditions in New Orleans while we watched death caused by FEMA's negligence in the pictures on our television screens -- you print this:

For instance, one administration official who was at the briefing said it was Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, not Mr. Chertoff, who told House members that television images of sparse relief efforts for evacuees sheltered at the Superdome offered "a small soda-straw view of what was going on."

This is an not exactly an important detail, yet you allow the Administration to spin a Cabinet member's callous comment. I believe this violates your own policy on anonymous sources, which states: "Anonymity should not be invoked for a trivial comment." Why was this "source" offered the shield of anonymity? If you couldn't use the source's name, you shouldn't print the spin.

Sincerely, [truth]

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Fema Fool Sat On His Hands"

I couldn't say it any better than the New York Post:


September 7, 2005 -- The head of FEMA waited a mind-boggling five hours after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf before even contacting his boss about sending personnel to the area — then suggested workers be allowed two days to get to the ravaged region, shocking internal documents reveal.

One stunning Aug. 29 memo — sent from embattled Federal Emergency Management chief Michael Brown to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — called killer Katrina a "near-catastrophic event," but otherwise lacked any other urgent language underlining the potential magnitude of the disaster.

Nursing Home Residents Left to Drown

In Nursing Home, a Fight Lost to Rising Waters

CHALMETTE, La., Sept. 6 - They nailed a table against one window, ran a heavy electric wheelchair with a table on top against another and pushed a couch against a door. These failed defenses are still in St. Rita's nursing home, as are at least 14 swollen, unrecognizable bodies.

St. Bernard Parish officials say that 32 of the home's roughly 60 residents died on Aug. 29, more than a week ago.

It is a measure of the enormity of the disaster that has struck southern Louisiana that no one has removed many of the bodies, and local officials say there are no immediate plans to do so. The flood victims still lie where they died - draped over a wheelchair, wrapped in a shower curtain, lying on a floor in several inches of muck.

The home, about 20 miles southeast of downtown New Orleans, is still surrounded by three feet of murky water. Eight vehicles are parked in front, covered in debris and mud.

Indeed, officials suspect that there may be hundreds of similar, though smaller scenes of death that will become apparent only after the water recedes and they are able to search every house in the region.

32 people died in this one nursing home alone. There are 76 nursing homes in New Orleans alone. Surely others were located in the storm's path in Mississippi and Alabama.

Where were the evacuations? Where were the rescuers? Where was the federal government? These people tried to save themselves. Why didn't we save them?

This disaster is America's shame.

Lethal Photo Ops

From raw story:

San Diego hospital closed to accommodate Bush visit; No chemo

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 30 -- The Naval Medical Center in San Diego's Balboa Park was shut down to accommodate a visit by President George W. Bush Aug. 30, RAW STORY has learned, forcing patients to cancel chemotherapy treatments and hundreds of scheduled patient visits.
"The pharmacy is closed. The emergency room is closed. Even chemotherapy patients will not be allowed on base," the daughter of one patient told RAW STORY shortly before the President's arrival. "My mother is a patient...She was contacted and told that her appointment had been canceled and would be rescheduled later…All civilian personnel and patients will not be allowed on base."

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

[The scheduled photo-op was never held, for unexplained reasons.]


When a haircut given to President Clinton aboard Air Force One inadvertently delayed air traffic and inconvenienced travelers, the media was quick to criticize the President. No such outcry has occurred over George W. Bush’s aborted photo op, or the interference it caused in medical care for seriously ill patients.

After civilian patients and volunteers were sent home in preparation for the President’s visit, "remaining military personnel were told to show up looking very spiffy, to appear in the auditorium and to remember that they will be on film," one hospital insider told RAW STORY. "In other words, 'If you want a career, and not to be sent to Iraq, cheer like hell.'"

Why no media was allowed inside the hospital to film the President--and why plans for the carefully orchestrated photo op were abandoned at the last moment--remain unknown.

"Impeach Bush Before More People Die"

From Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (go to the original post for links):

impeach bush before more people die

those aren't my words, although i have certainly thought them. these are the words of the former assistant secretary of the treasury under reagan, paul craig roberts.

and he's got some more words.

the raison d'etre of the bush administration is war in the middle east in order to protect america from terrorism and to insure america's oil supply. on both counts the bush administration has failed catastrophically.

bush's single-minded focus on the "war against terrorism" has compounded a natural disaster and turned it into the greatest calamity in american history. the us has lost its largest and most strategic port, thousands of lives, and 80% of one of america's most historic cities is under water.

if terrorists had achieved this result, it would rank as the greatest terrorist success in history.

oh, yeah...he's got some more, too....

...every expert and newspapers as distant as texas saw the new orleans catastrophe coming. but president bush and his insane government preferred war in iraq to protecting americans at home.

...the bush administration is damned by its gross incompetence. bush has squandered the lives and health of thousands of people. he has run through hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars. he has lost america's reputation and its allies. with barbaric torture and destruction of our civil liberty, he has stripped america of its inherent goodness and morality. and now bush has lost america's largest port and 25 percent of its oil
supply. why? because bush started a gratuitous war egged on by a claque of crazy
neoconservatives who have sacrificed america's interests to their insane agenda. - paul craig roberts at counterpunch

Anatomy of Many Thousand Murders

From Think Progress:


Howard Dean, a Real Leader

I received the following email from Howard Dean last night (I'm on the national Democratic Party email list, as I am a congenital Democrat. I'm also on the Republican Party email list, just so I can see how the re-thugs address their constituencies.) The Democrats are cancelling all fundraising events, cancelling their fall meeting, released DNC staff to participate in relief operations, and urging people to open their home to flood victims.

As reported here earlier, the Republicans intend to respond to the disaster by eliminating the estate tax and cutting Medicaid.

By giving us the "Dean Scream" (as well as "Swift Boating", and other atrocities) the media also gave us the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Can you imagine Howard Dean staying on vacation during a Category 5 hurricane? I can't even imagine Howard Dean on vacation, to be honest. He's a bulldog, and I say that with great admiration.

The Deaniacs were right. Send Bush back to Crawford. Impeach the incompetent b@st@rd.

Dear [truth],

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you mobilized to make sure that the Red Cross had the financial resources it needed to respond swiftly. The response was literally overwhelming -- so many donations poured in that their web site struggled to process them.

Since then Americans have seen another kind of disaster unfold. The irresponsible lack of attention by our federal government has led directly to the devastation of communities and the loss of American lives.

The federal response over these crucial first days has been totally unacceptable. There will be a time for a full accounting of the preventable part of this disaster, and those responsible will be held accountable. It will be soon.

But there are lives to save right now and our focus must be steady. People need help right now. And you can be a direct participant in the relief efforts by providing housing for a victim of the disaster.

The vast number of evacuees has triggered a cascading crisis -- the first group of evacuation centers in the Gulf States has been overwhelmed, and the surrounding states have seen their capacity exceeded as well.

Hundreds of thousands of survivors are being transported in small groups to cities and towns across the country. A coalition of groups has put together a web site to collect offers of housing and provide a place for victims to search for help. You can offer shelter -- whether for a few days or a few weeks -- by signing up here:

To support your volunteer housing operation the following steps have been taken:

We are briefing Democratic elected officials on the program and asking that they treat this as the front-line network of volunteers who are ready and waiting to provide shelter in their jurisdiction.
We have asked outside organizations to direct their members to to volunteer; those organizations with representatives on the ground have been asked to help victims connect with the housing bank.
We have directed the staff at Democratic Headquarters in Washington to use local volunteers signed up on as they work with DC emergency response officials to assist hundreds of survivors being transported to the DC Armory, which is located nearby.
In addition to mobilizing our infrastructure to support the housing drive, we have also taken the following steps in the last week:

All DNC fundraising events have been cancelled until further notice and donations are being directed to relief organizations.
The DNC Fall Meeting that had been scheduled to take place this week has been postponed.
All staff have been given leave to participate in relief operations (many are completing Red Cross training this week and will deploy shortly).
The Democratic leadership in Congress has proposed a comprehensive policy package to ensure that victims receive health care, financial assistance and educational and employment opportunities during the crisis (go to for more).
But more than anything our organization has done, the thousands of acts of compassion by ordinary citizens and a renewed sense of common purpose will be the legacy of this effort.

Our American community will emerge stronger from this crisis.

Thank you for doing what you can.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- A number of organizations on the ground still need financial support. You can learn about them here:

Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Click here to unsubscribe from this mailing list.

DNC, 430 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington DC 20003

Harold Myerson: "The 'Stuff Happens' Presidency"

The 'Stuff Happens' Presidency

Even if we'll never win the national-greatness sweepstakes for solidarity, though, we've long been the model of the world in matters infrastructural, in roads, bridges and dams and the like. But the America in which Eisenhower the Good decreed the construction of the interstate highway system now seems a far-off land in which even conservatives believed in public expenditures for the public good. The radical-capitalist conservatives of the past quarter-century not only haven't supported the public expenditures, they don't even believe there is such a thing as the public good. Let the Dutch build their dikes through some socialistic scheme of taxing and spending; that isn't the American way. Here, the business of government is to let the private sector create wealth -- even if that wealth doesn't circulate where it's most needed. So George W. Bush threw trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, and what did they do with it? Did the Walton family up in Bentonville raise the levees in New Orleans? Did the Bass family over in Texas write a tax-deductible check to the Mennonites for the billions of dollars they would need to rescue the elderly from inundated nursing homes?


The Republicans profess belief in trickle-down, but what they've given us is the Flood.

Courageous Journalism is a Fairy Tale

From Democratic Veteran

Once Upon a Time

The Government did not tell the media what to report, or not report, sometimes they really, really wanted to but there was this little thing called the First Amendment, in a quaint document called the 'Bill of Rights'. In modern times, the Media is all about Access, and the government is all about Granting Access. Access has all kind of perks, like big salaries for those who have it, and lots of face-time on camera to make you a "star" and best of all, a Nickname from America's Worst President Ever, because Nicknames make you feel like you have "Insider Access".

So now when stories need to be told, the government says "tell this, but don't tell that" and those with Insider Access dutifully and gravely nod their heads and say "OK, we won't because we want to keep our multi-million dollar salaries, and our fame and most of all, our Nicknames at events where we get to see the Naked Emporer in person."

The U.S. agency leading Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts said Tuesday that it does not want the news media to photograph the dead as they are recovered....

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Once upon a time, before Insider Access and big salaries and Nicknames, that was called Prior Restraint. Or perhaps that was just a Fairy Tale.

posted by Jo Fish on 09.07.05 at 09:17 AM

Operation Photo Op, George W. Bush Edition, 4.0

Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA

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

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

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.


But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Bush's use of firemen: props : This post contains the photographs with the firemen who thought they would be deployed as emergency workers used as human background for President Photo Op.

The Potemkin President, Part II

So what's next? Will they round up some doctors and have them tag along with Shrub while he visits patients at an emergency field hospital? (Ideally, a tidy tent full of young, attractive African American patients -- nothing bloody or threatening.) Surely that can be arranged.

Or how about a town meeting with the engineers plugging the levee breaks? They could explain what they're doing and show Shrub their plans, and he could nod his head and pretend like he understands what they're talking about. That shouldn't take more than a half a day out of their schedule. And what's another half day when most of those people have been trapped in their attics for a week already?

But of course, cops and soldiers always make the best stage props. So why not pull them all off the streets for a speech, or better yet -- a turkey dinner? The president could serve!

One thing that really makes me angry watching this disaster coverage is how many times people talk about Bush's "leadership" during 9/11. What a joke. Everything Bush did on 9/11 and afterwards was a giant photo op, and the press ate it up & pushed it as though it were the truth.

Remember? George Bush never actually did anything. He read "The Pet Goat" to children. He hopped on his plane and flew around the country for hours, landing in Louisiana and Nebraska. He spoke briefly in Florida that morning, from Barksdale Air Force Base that afternoon, and at 8:30 that night. All those speeches were written by others, and he is reading them. It wasn't very inspiring, and his absence from the long day of rescue, collapsing buildings and death was in great contrast to the reassuring presence of Rudy Giuliani. I don't particularly like Giuliani, but I felt like he was president that day. He was reassuring, he captured the tragedy when he said the number of dead would be more than we could bear, and most importantly he was there. He didn't run and hide like George W. Bush.

Bush and his loyal aides began to go to the press with stories of the inspiring words Bush had spoken to them while he was on the run. There were no objective witnesses to these stories; they were all from Bush's political aides and allies. Here's how CBS News unquestionly reported their recollections:
Aboard Air Force One, Mr. Bush had a job for press secretary Fleischer.

“The president asked me to make sure that I took down everything that was said. I think he wanted to make certain that a record existed,” says Fleischer

Fleischer’s notes capture Mr. Bush’s language, plain and unguarded. To the vice president, he said: “We’re at war, Dick, we’re going to find out who did this and kick their ass.” Another time, Mr. Bush said, “We’re not going to have any slap-on-the-wrist crap this time.”

The President adds, “I can remember telling the Secretary of Defense, I said, ‘We’re going to find out who did this and then Mr. Secretary, you and Dick Myers, who we just named as chairman of the joint chiefs, are going to go get them.’”....

Mr. Bush had a question for CIA Director George Tenet. "George Tenet was just asked, 'Who do you think did this to us,'" recalls Rice. "He said, 'Sir, I believe its al Qaeda. We’re doing the assessment but it looks like, it feels like, it smells like al Qaeda.'”....

“At one point, he said he didn’t want any tinhorn terrorist keeping him out of Washington,” Fleischer says....

“He decided that the primary tone he wanted to strike that night was reassurance,” remembers Hughes. “We had to show resolve, we had to reassure people, we had to let them know that we would be OK.”

Just off the Oval Office, Mr. Bush added the words that would become known as the Bush Doctrine - no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. The staff wanted to add a declaration of war but Mr. Bush didn’t think the American people wanted to hear it that night.

He prepared to say it from the same desk where Franklin Roosevelt first heard the news of Pearl Harbor. Now Bush was commander in chief, and 80 million Americans were watching.

“Today our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts,” he said from the Oval Office that night.

The Oval Office speech came at the end of the bloodiest day in American history since the Civil War.

Mostly it was all photo op. The bullhorn moment, pure photo op:

In the afternoon, word spread that President Bush was about to visit the site. Beckwith couldn't see much, so he climbed on top of an excavated firetruck to get a better view. A balding guy in a suit joined him - Beckwith thought it was a Secret Service agent - and asked if the truck was sturdy. The stranger told him that a VIP wanted to stand there.

The stranger was Bush's senior political aide, Karl Rove, and the VIP was Bush. Moments later, Bush joined Beckwith, threw his arm around him and raised a bullhorn to deliver some of the most memorable words of his presidency: "Well, I can hear you. The whole world can hear you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon."

The pitch at Yankee Stadium which the Republican convention made so much of? Throwing a pitch is probably the only thing this dim-witted exercise freak could be counted on to do competently by himself, without stage management and someone putting words in his mouth.

Yet the press presented all this to us as real, as true. It wasn't true. It was a huge political photo op. Bush & Karl Rove got away with it then, and they think they're going to get away with it now. I feel betrayed by the corporate media. They were complicit in allowing this incompetent boob to stay in office. Will they have the courage to report that everything he is doing right now is political, for show, a photo op? Based on recent history, I am deeply pessimistic.

Survivor Stories

Unfortunately, this post will the first in a series.

Lethal chaos: Professor describes scene at New Orleans hospital: Civil Rights attorney Bill Quigley

Storm Survivors Told To 'Expose Themselves': Ged Scott, Liverpool, England

Hurricane Katrina-Our Experiences
Larry Bradshaw, Lorrie Beth Slonsky

Subject: a survivor's story: Katrina in New Orleans: My cousin Denise

3 Duke students tell of 'disgraceful' scene

Joanna's story (audio file)

Katrina Survivor Alleges Police Brutality: Jonathan Garner

Survivor Success Story: Melissa Ragan

Local Superdome Survivor: Lia Mittelstadt, Randolph, Wisconsin (with video link)

Lia Mittelstadt, A step "into hell"

Survivor recounts disaster’s onslaught: Janice Jamison, Muskogee, Oklahoma

Storm survivor determined to start life anew: Anya Maddox

Breck family fearing for the unknown: Carol Roshto-Smith, Breckinridge, CO

Survivor can’t escape memories: Bobby Main

Ex-county man rides out Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans: Jimmy Shields

Timely decisions meant difference between life, death: Henry Duvelle, Christine Stach, Jean and Matthew Meissner

South Floridians Share Survivor Stories As Cleanup Continues: Miriam Mapl, Mark Poole, Katara Tillman

Survivor struggles to get help for dead family: Geno Veva

'It was terrifying,' Biloxi survivor says: Joy Schovest

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Expect Up to 40,000 Bodies"

From Talking Points Memo

Not certain what to make of this -- but it's an interview with a local mortuary director in the Shelbyville (Tenn.) Times-Gazette. The mortician, Dan Buckner, is part of DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team), which is a volunteer wing of the Department of Homeland Security called in to set up morgues and process bodies in major domestic disasters. And he's been deployed to Gulfport, Miss. Bucker tells the paper that "DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies." And he goes on to say that that number does not "include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from ... mausoleums."

(ed.note: A note of thanks, if that's the word, to TPM Reader EO for the sobering tip.)

Here's the original interview TPM links to: Funeral director deploys to hurricane region

A co-owner of Shelbyville-based Gowen-Smith Chapel has been deployed to Gulfport, Miss., to help with recovery since Hurricane Katrina, and his business partner here has described the grim task there.

"DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies," Dan Buckner said, quoting officials with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a volunteer arm of Homeland Security.


"My personal opinion is they will be recovering bodies for 30 ... to 120 days," Buckner said.

Lou Dobbs Peddles BushCo BS

Just watched Kitty Pigeon (is that her real name) trot out the Bush talking points on Lou Dobbs' CNN show. That is, it's the fault of the local and state authorities for not completely evacuating the city of New Orleans.

I am left with these questions:

(1) What percentage of the citizens of Mississippi and Alabama in the storm's way evacuated? Why aren't Haley Barbour (R) and Bob Riley (R) included in the scouraging of local officials? Because they are Republican? Because we don't have their death tolls yet? Because their portion of the levee system didn't breach?

(2) Who cares what the local officials did in evaluating the performance of FEMA? FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security. We are evaluating the performance of the agency which would have to clean up after a terrorist attack made without warning. If FEMA was in charge of the evacuation of the Twin Towers on 9/11, all those people evacuated by the FDNY and NYPD would have died. FEMA couldn't get water and food to people they were standing right next to for 5 days. How could they have evacuated a building in less than 2 hours?

Besides which, this was a national emergency. FEMA has TAKEN primary responsibility for all such incidents. The buck stops on George W. Bush's desk. He should be impeached for causing the deaths of so many innocent Americans through his criminal negligence.

Brace for a Staggering Death Toll

New Orleans Braces for Staggering Death Toll

Officials are preparing for thousands of dead

By Der Spiegel (Germany)

09/05/05 -- -- Over the weekend, New Orleans's rescue operation turned into a recovery mission to find the city's dead. There are still no firm estimates for the exact death toll -- but most agree it will be out of the ballpark, at least for a natural disaster in an industrial nation. United States Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt is expecting that 1,000 to 2,000 body bags will be filled. But the city's deeply stressed out mayor, Ray Nagin, who infamously called on President George W. Bush to "fix this goddamned crisis," offered up a staggering figure in interviews.

Here's his equation: The city has close to 500,000 residents and if you conservatively assume that 5 percent remained in New Orleans after the flooding, the numbers could go through the roof. "So you probably have another 50-60,000 out there," he said. "You do the math, man, what do you think? Five percent is unreasonable? Ten percent? Twenty percent? It's going to be a big number." Louisiana's Republican Senator, David Vitter said he believes the figure will exceed 10,000.

"Here Lies Vera. God Help Us."

From The Independent (UK)

The city where the dead are left lying on the streets

In a makeshift grave on the streets of New Orleans lies the body of Vera Smith. She was an ordinary woman who, like thousands of her neighbours, died because she was poor. Abandoned to her fate as the waters rose around her, Vera's tragedy symbolises the great divide in America today


"Here Lies Vera. God Help Us."


As the floodwaters are pumped out of New Orleans' streets, rescue workers are bracing themselves for further grisly discoveries and a death toll that will eventually reach tens of thousands.

Wait Until He Finds Out He Was On Vacation

from Talkings Points Memo: Bush to lead investigation into his own failure ...

from truth: I can see the interview next year with Diane Sawyer, Diane leaning forward, lips parted, vaseline on the camera lens, breathlessly asking, "What do you say to the American people, what went wrong, Mr. President?"

And he'll lean forward and give her that faux-earnest empty-headed grin, and say "Diane, nobody knew enough to call me and tell me a hurricane was comin! Nobody knew me taking a month of vacation would affect the government response to a catastrophe! Nobody knew I was on vacation!

"And then when I came back on Wednesday, cuttin my vacation back by two days I might add, heh heh, lot to ask of a sitting president, president needs balance in his life to lead effectively, well when I come back folks expected I would take charge! And that's not what this President does, Diane! I sit back and let the good folks I appointed do their jobs! My job is to get the right people in the right places and let 'em do their jobs. So my good friends Brownie and Mikey C were handling this crisis, and they were doin' a wonderful job. Great job. We had all kinds of aid lined up to go in to New Orleans at that point.

"So I took all that aid with me on Friday when I went to the Gulf Coast. Regular convoy, you saw the pictures on TV, right? I mean, this was only 5 days after the hurricane! Only 4 days after the levee filled New Orleans with water! It was hard work getting all those supplies together, hard work! Brownie and Mikey did an excellent job, excellent job.

"And you know the result of the investigation I headed, you know I announced the investigation only 8 days after the hurricane! 8 days! It was a bipartisan investigation I might add, got those good ol' boys Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, good ol'boys both, helped me put John Roberts on the Supreme Court, good men, both of them, well, they said that nothing better could have been done! We got those good folks supplies as soon as humanly possible. Only thing they could find wrong was all those folks in my administration who didn't know I was on vacation. Those good folks shoulda been informed.

"So we're gonna fix that. Next time I go on vacation, I'm gonna send out a memo to all my cabinet secretaries, you know, so something like this never happens again. Because that's what this administration is about, responding to the needs of the people.

"Hey, it's time for 4 hour mountain bike ride, wanna come along Diane! It'll be fun."

College Kids Save Lives While FEMA Dithers

From the invaluable Americablog (Note to self, gotta figure out how to put up a blogroll again)

3 Duke students travel to New Orleans, rescue people, come back while feds say they couldn't help anybody

But hey, in all fairness, George Bush was on vacation.

A trio of Duke University sophomores say they drove to New Orleans late last week, posed as journalists to slip inside the hurricane-soaked city twice, and evacuated seven people who weren't receiving help from authorities.

The group, led by South Carolina native Sonny Byrd, say they also managed to drive all the way to the New Orleans Convention Center, where they encountered scenes early Saturday evening that they say were disgraceful.

"We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai," said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla....

At 2 p.m., the trio decided to head for New Orleans, Buder said. After looking around, they swiped an Associated Press identification and one of the TV station's crew shirts, and found a Kinko's where they could make copies of the ID.

They were stopped again by authorities at the edge of New Orleans, but this time were able to make it through.

"We waved the press pass, and they looked at each other, the two guards, and waved us on in," Buder said....

"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."

It Depends on What the Definition of "Immediately" Is

Bush is holding a photo op with the Cabinet in the White House right now, talking about the things that he's going to do immediately.

The "Hurricane Katrina" logo on the screen underneath his picture reads 8 days, 4 hours.


Some More Good Posts on Katrina

Too much out there for individual posts:

Harpers Magazine Weekly Review
Posted on Tuesday, September 6, 2005. By Paul Ford.

"Fifty-five countries offered aid to the United States....The United States was performing a "needs assessment" to decide whose help to accept."

Financial Times: Tragic costs of Bush’s Iraq obsession
By Michael Lind

San Francisco hopes FEMA prediction was only 2/3 correct, because "In early 2001, shortly after President George W. Bush was inaugurated and before 9/11, the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned of the three most devastating disasters that could strike the US: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane flooding New Orleans and a San Francisco earthquake. The Bush administration was focused on its priority: Iraq."

Would-be rescuers cool their heels
Chaos in New Orleans delays California team eager to enter fray(registration required; use to get username & password)

"The 83 members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Search and Rescue team from Orange County, Calif., have been told to stay downtown at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion.
Since Friday, FEMA rescuers have been stuck in Dallas, waiting for the call to head to New Orleans. Since Friday, they have been sitting tight at the luxury hotel with members of five other teams of specialists from California, Nevada and Washington state – about 500 people all diverted to Dallas on the way to the Gulf Coast."

We're Still Only Talking To Each Other
If you don't read blogs, and most people in the country don't, you probably don't know anything reported on this site. A commenter suggests creating an uber-blog newspaper to get the word out. Good idea.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake More Competently Managed

From Alternet

Government's lightning-quick disaster response!

100 years ago, after the San Francisco earthquake:

The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM.

By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.


by April 20 (two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago had reached San Francisco [from San Diego], where it evacuated 20,000 refugees. (DailyKos)

I'm with the Times-Picayune. Fire Brown, fire Chertoff ("Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater"), fire all these incompetent murderers.

John Lewis Proposes a New Marshall Plan to Rebuild New Orleans

'This Is a National Disgrace'
Opinion: A civil-rights leader mourns an African-American population left behind.

It's so strange that when we have something like this happening, the president gets two ex-presidents—his father and Bill Clinton—to raise money. What they propose to do is good, and I appreciate all the work the private sector and the faith-based community are doing. But when we get ready to go to war, we don't go around soliciting resources with a bucket or an offering plate. We have the courage to come before Congress and debate the issue, authorize money. That's what we need to do here. By next year we'll have spent $400 billion to $500 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq. That money could be used to help rebuild the lives of people. If we fail to act as a nation, I don't think history will be kind to us.

We've got to do more than the $10 billion that Congress appropriated. We need a massive Marshall-type plan to rebuild New Orleans. But in rebuilding we should see this as an opportunity to rebuild urban America. New Orleans could be a model. There must be a commitment of billions and billions of dollars—maybe $50 billion to $100 billion. I think even in other urban centers, there are people who are just barely existing. We sing the song "Hope is on the way," but it's taking a long time before hope arrives. It becomes very discouraging where you see people dying—children, the elderly, the sick—the lack of food and water. I've cried a lot of tears the past few days as I watched television—to see somebody lying dead outside the convention center. I went to Somalia in 1992 and I saw little babies dying before my eyes. This reminded me of Somalia. But this is America. We're not a Third World country. This is an embarrassment. It's a shame. It's a national disgrace.

Lewis is the U.S. congressman from the Fifth District of Georgia.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Note from truth: Hope this post comes out. Blogger is hopping all over the place. I've gotten 3 different templates in the past 10 minutes while trying to create a new post. None of them allow me to use the toolbar, that's why the excerpted text is not indented.

Gotta learn HTML.

Operation Photo Op, Donald Rumsfield Edition, 1.0

From Reuters:

WRAPUP 7-New Orleans police kill looters in shoot-out

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured a medical facility at New Orleans' international airport. He spoke and shook hands with military and rescue officials but walked right by a dozen refugees lying on stretchers just feet away from him, most of them extremely sick or handicapped.

The Receding Water Will Spread This Toxic Filth Around the Gulf and Eventually the World

from skippy the bush kangaroo (yes, he posts in all lower case letters, like e.e. cummings). To click on the links contained within the article, click on the article title. Skippy is raising money from blogtopia (yes! skippy coined that phrase!) and so far has raised over $10,000. does get worse seems that a toxic landfill site on which housing was built in central new orleans is now under floodwaters with the potential to pollute and contaminate portions of the gulf coast. despite the overwhelming international coverage of hurricane katrina's lethal attack on southern u.s. states, it is the current issue of solid waste & recycling magazine that unearthed an environmental hazard that has the potential of being an underwater love canal.

cnn and fox news have now been alerted.

something called the agriculture street landfill (asl) is located on a 95-acre site in central new orleans.

it is registered as a "superfund site" (whatever that is) on the federal government's national priorities list of highly contaminated sites requiring cleanup and containment. but nothing has been done.

...according to the editor of hazardous waste magazine, the asl site -- now under water -- will almost inevitably leach toxic effluent into the floodwaters, with the potential of inflicting unpredictable damage on the coast, and those that live there -- a possible environmental catastrophe. - toronto star

houses and buildings that were constructed in later years directly atop parts of the landfill. residents report unusual cancers and health problems and have lobbied for years to be relocated away from the old contaminated site, which contains not only municipal garbage, but buried industrial wastes such as what would be produced by service stations and dry cleaners, manufacturers or burning. the site was routinely sprayed with ddt in the 1940s and 50s and, in 1962, 300,000 cubic yards of excess fill were removed from asl because of ongoing subsurface fires. (the site was nicknamed "dante's inferno" because of the fires.)

the asl can be thought of a sort of love canal for new orleans -– and now it sits under water. - solid waste & recyling

a political problem was lurking behind the scientific numbers. nobody in the city or federal government wanted to take responsibility for the problem. the epa was overseeing the pollution problem, but the neighborhood was built on land the city had owned and polluted. It had been financed under a department of housing and urban development program. -

Lame Excuses

from the Los Angeles Times yesterday:

Bush's Hurricane Response a Disaster

Nearly five years ago, the Bush administration rode into office bearing its cynicism about government high, like a banner. ">Nearly five years ago, the Bush administration rode into office bearing its cynicism about government high, like a banner.

It promoted a massive tax cut as a way of "starving the beast" of federal government. President Bush traveled the country telling us that we were overdependent on the government for help with healthcare and retirement. To those wondering what resources might see them into old age, he advised: "a conservative mix of stocks and bonds."

New Orleans is, or should be, the graveyard of the conservative ideology that government is useless. An American city is reduced to Third World desperation as people who own nothing scrounge for necessities in a sea of waste and federal officials offer lame excuses about how their disaster plans would have worked fine had there not been, you know, a disaster. The president, at the head of a global power that can't get its own troops or supplies off their bases to reach the needful, whines, "The private sector needs to do its part."

How FUBAR is FEMA? Let me count the ways

from dailykos, via the florida blues blog. Hit the link to the original post to link to the stories (in bold, below) referenced.


David of Daily Kos says to take a look at this list of stories he's rounded up about FEMA:

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans

David says: We know FEMA's budget and operations have been gutted. We know FEMA's currently run by a washed-up hack attorney who couldn't even get a job at Jacoby & Myers. But this is beyond outrageous. I am sure there are plenty more stories like this; I collected these in just ten minutes on Google News and DKos. Looking at this list, it would be hard to blame you if you thought FEMA actively wanted rescue and relief operations to fail.

Of course, that's not the case - but these ranks failures transcend even the corrupt indifference we've grown sadly accustomed to over the past five years. If there's any hope for the recovery efforts, it'll come from guys like Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré and Clinton-era FEMA director James Lee Witt, not criminal incompetents like Michael D. "Brownie" Brown.


FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck

FEMA turns away generators (See entry from 3:32 P.M. by Ben Morris, Slidell mayor)

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

Trent Lott Jumps Off Bush's Sinking Ship

Cut the red tape, Lott says
Criticizes FEMA for holding up 20,000 trailers 'sitting in Atlanta'

POPLARVILLE, Mississippi (CNN) -- Sen. Trent Lott berated both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and his own state's emergency management, MEMA, for being mired in red tape at a time of urgent need given the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

Lott said he has been trying to get FEMA to send 20,000 trailers "sitting in Atlanta" to the Mississippi coast, and he urged President Bush during a meeting Monday to intervene. He said FEMA has refused to ship the trailers until contracts are secured.

"FEMA and MEMA need to be saying, 'Yes' to Mississippi's needs, not, 'No.," the former majority leader said in a written statement.

"Mississippians are homeless, hungry and hurting."

Guess George W. Bush won't enjoy sitting on Trent Lott's rebuilt front porch quite so much.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Three Stooges review a five-day-old weather map for the benefit of cameras

You've got to click on the link to see the picture, because I'm a technical luddite and still don't know how to post pictures. It's one of the pictures taken during Operation Photo Op 1.0 (Friday), via, via uggabugga:

More Useless Props for Guitarzan

The Three Stooges review a five-day-old weather map for the benefit of cameras. I guess Katrina was prettier then. Note African-American shoehorned into the picture, tail rotor of helicopter and all the bright, shiny colors.

Suppose anyone was lamenting what they should've been doing five days earlier when Katrina was still out over the Gulf of Mexico?

I'm thinking not.