Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay's acsent to diety Delayed

DeLay named 'Big House' Majority Leader

By John Breneman

A Texas grand jury today charged Rep. Tom DeLay with political dirty tricks and campaign finance chicanery.

Leading House Democrats responded by issuing the following brief statement: "Ha, ha."

DeLay, who is pretending to be innocent, faces a potential two-year prison sentence, though some Democrats have called for him to be hanged.

When informed of his indictment, DeLay reportedly headbutted a sheriff's deputy and carjacked a White Bronco before surrendering to TV bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman.

DeLay, an outspoken Texas conservative known for his colorful Ten Commandments underwear and devious money-laundering schemes, is accused of playing God with state and national politics.

In an unrelated development, DeLay announced he plans to relinquish his post as House majority leader, citing a desire to "spend more quality time with my defense attorneys."

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Will "Hot Tub" Tom Demand a House Rule Change?

As expected for a long time, "Hot Tub" Tom DeLay has been indicted for conspiracy. Back in the 90's the Republicans, in their righteousness, put rules into effect restricting tainted Reps from holding leadership postions. Then, DeLay forced the hypocrites to change the rules when the Texas folk seemed to be getting closer to nailing the bastard.

Rumor had it, however, that he was off-the-hook so the Righteous Right came out of the closet again and re-instated the old rules.

Well, he's indicted!!!!??!??!? What's it going to be now, Repugs? Are you going to change the rules again? .... or maybe you'll just delay them.


Hey, Tom! Paybacks are a bitch, huh?

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

How Many More Must Die In Bush's War?

Our Speech at a Sept. 24th Peace Rally:

"I'm proud to have one son that chooses to serve in the US Military. I am equally proud to have another son that has refused to be a part of George W. Bush's War.

Just a few short years ago, my youngest son, his mother, and I and thousands of others that agreed that this was the wrong war at the wrong time were labeled as anti-American.... as "un-Patriotic". We were told that we didn't support our troops.

But now, it appears that some 68% to 70% of our fellow citizens have become anti-American or un-Patriotic if those Patriots and Zealots that condemned us 2 and 3 years ago are to be believed. It seems that we are no longer the outsiders, but rather that America has caught up with us.

Sadly, almost 2000 American soldiers and thousands of others have already died.

How many more must die for Bush's War?

In the late 90's, George W. Bush lamented his father’s squandering of the political capital gained after George the 41st Gulf War.

He said, “If I have a chance to invade…. if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it.”

Well George the 43rd certainly got his chance to invade! Granted he had to lie and manipulate people and information to get his war, but he got it. It was one of the very few successes in George W. Bush’s incredibly tainted resume. But, he wanted a war, and lo and behold, George W. Bush has his war!

He didn’t waste his opportunity to invade, but he has wasted the lives of over 1950 Americans, and thousands of Iraqi citizens.

How many more must die for Bush’s War?

My youngest son, fronts a rock band. He wrote a song called No Pride.

The chorus says,

There’s no pride in victory
When death is all that’s won
Killing in the name of nothing
Won’t save anyone

He wrote:

Before we go and massacre people in another country
Fix the problems here first, like AIDS and poverty.
Body bags can fill up fast and coffins are quickly made.
100,000 soldiers or a mother and a child? How many more will it take?

We are faced with monumental issues in America today. We are faced with monumental issues around the world. And yet, this administration, with the aid and comfort of both National parties spends more per day on this unnecessary and ill thought-out war than it spends annually fighting many horrible diseases that kill many more Americans than have died in this War.

Bush's War has cost America over 200 Billion Dollars.

The money spent on Bush's war would have funded all AIDS research world-wide for almost 20 years.

The money spent on Bush's war could have funded a four-year college education for 9.5 Million American boys and girls.

The money spent on Bush's war could have provided basic immunizations to every child in the world and had money left over to fully fund all hunger programs worldwide.

I'm proud of my son that chooses to serve in the US Military. He's a good man... a good husband... a good father. We can be proud of all the men and women that are serving. We can laud the sacrifices that have been made by following the orders of their Commander-in-Chief, because that is what we expect the military to do. But, it is with a heavy heart and a father's anxiety that I ask again,

How many more must die for Bush’s War?

There’s no pride in victory
When death is all that’s won
Killing in the name of nothing
Won’t save anyone

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Glad to hear from you, Hill.....

Senate website

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States

"The nomination of Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States is a matter of tremendous consequence for future generations of Americans.
It requires thoughtful inquiry and debate, and I commend my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee for their dedication to making sure that all questions were presented and that those outside of the Senate had the opportunity to make their voices heard. After serious and careful consideration of the Committee proceedings and Judge Roberts’s writings, I believe I must vote against his confirmation. I do not believe that the Judge has presented his views with enough clarity and specificity for me to in good conscience cast a vote on his behalf.

The Constitution commands that the Senate provide meaningful advice and consent to the President on judicial nominations, and I have an obligation to my constituents to make sure that I cast my vote for Chief Justice of the United States for someone I am convinced will be steadfast in protecting fundamental women’s rights, civil rights, privacy rights, and who will respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches. After the Judiciary Hearings, I believe the record on these matters has been left unclear. That uncertainly means as a matter of conscience, I cannot vote to confirm despite Judge Roberts’s long history of public service.

In one memo, for example, Judge Roberts argued that Congress has the power to deny the Supreme Court the right to hear appeals from lower courts of constitutional claims involving flag burning, abortion, and other matters. He wrote that the United States would be far better off with fifty different interpretations on the right to choose than with what he called the “judicial excesses embodied in Roe v. Wade.” The idea that the Supreme Court could be denied the right to rule on constitutional claims had been so long decided that even the most conservative of Judge Roberts’s Justice Department colleagues strongly disagreed with him.

When questioned about his legal memoranda, Judge Roberts claimed they did not necessarily reflect his views and that he was merely making the best possible case for his clients or responding to a superior’s request that he make a particular argument. But he did not clearly disavow the strong and clear views he expressed, but only shrouded them in further mystery. Was he just being an advocate for a client or was he using his position to advocate for positions he believed in? The record is unclear.

It is hard to believe he has no opinion on so many critical issues after years as a Justice Department and White House lawyer, appellate advocate and judge. His supporters remind us that Chief Justice Rehnquist supported the constitutionality of legal segregation before his elevation to the high court, but never sought to bring it back while serving the court system as its Chief Justice. But I would also remind them of Justice Thomas’s assertion in his confirmation hearing that he had never even discussed Roe v. Wade, much less formed an opinion on it. Shortly after he ascended to the Court, Justice Thomas made it clear that he wanted to repeal Roe.

Adding to testimony that clouded more than clarified is that we in the Senate have been denied the full record of Judge Roberts’s writings despite our repeated requests. Combined, these two events have left a question mark on what Judge Roberts’s views are and how he might rule on critical questions of the day. It is telling that President Bush has said the Justices he most admires are the two most conservative justices, Justices Thomas and Scalia. It is not unreasonable to believe that the President has picked someone in Judge Roberts whom he believes holds a similarly conservative philosophy, and that voting as a bloc they could further limit the power of the Congress, expand the purview of the Executive, and overturn key rulings like Roe v. Wade.

Since I expect Judge Roberts to be confirmed, I hope that my concerns are unfounded and that he will be the kind of judge he said he would be during his confirmation hearing. If so, I will be the first to acknowledge it. However, because I think he is far more likely to vote the views he expressed in his legal writings, I cannot give my consent to his confirmation and will, therefore, vote against his confirmation. My desire to maintain the already fragile Supreme Court majority for civil rights, voting rights and women’s rights outweigh the respect I have for Judge Roberts’s intellect, character, and legal skills."

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nothing matters to Bob Novak!

In his own article, Bashing Bush in Aspen lamenting the negative talk about Dubya at an Aspen shindig, Robert Novak writes: "All discussions are off the record," admonished the conference's printed schedule.

Then he proceeds to write quite a bit about the conference.

Hey, once you've outted a CIA Operative, you can do anything!

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Ok, are the real Christians getting embarrassed, yet?

Reliable news from a Christian Source!

The highlights:

Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

"New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says.

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Republican with balls? Go, Bloomberg!

Bloomberg opposes Roberts' nomination
Sep 16 2:36 PM US/Eastern

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday opposed John Roberts' nomination to be U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, making him the first noted Republican to break with the Bush administration over who should lead America's top court.
Bloomberg, a former Democrat seeking re-election in a heavily Democratic city, said Roberts had failed to show a commitment to upholding the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision establishing a right to abortion.
"I am unconvinced that Judge Roberts accepts the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling as settled law," Bloomberg said.
Roberts' answers to questions in Senate confirmation hearings "did not indicate a commitment to protect a woman's right to choose," he said. "For that reason I oppose the nomination of Judge Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."
While Bloomberg's statement is unusual from a Republican, the mayor has no standing over whether Roberts will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as chief justice.
Bloomberg, who became a billionaire by building the media company named after him, is ahead in polls in the New York mayoral race ahead of November's election here.
Like many Republicans in New York, Bloomberg has long been a liberal on social issues and has been unafraid to publicly break with President George W. Bush.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tim Wise's Open Letter

This is an open letter to the man sitting behind me at La Paz today, in Nashville, at lunchtime, with the Brooks Brothers shirt:

You don't know me. But I know you.

I watched you as you held hands with your tablemates at the restaurant where we both ate this afternoon. I listened as you prayed, and thanked God for the food you were about to eat, and for your own safety, several hundred miles away from the unfolding catastrophe in New Orleans.

You blessed your chimichanga in the name of Jesus Christ, and then proceeded to spend the better part of your meal – and mine, since I was too near your table to avoid hearing every word – morally scolding the people of that devastated city, heaping scorn on them for not heeding the warnings to leave before disaster struck. Then you attacked them – all of them, without distinction it seemed – for the behavior of a relative handful: those who have looted items like guns, or big screen TVs.

I heard you ask, amid the din of your colleagues "Amens," why it was that instead of pitching in to help their fellow Americans, the people of New Orleans instead – again, all of them in your mind – choose to steal and shoot at relief helicopters.

I watched you wipe salsa from the corners of your mouth, as you nodded agreement to the statement of one of your friends, sitting to your right, her hair neatly coiffed, her makeup flawless, her jewelry sparkling. When you asked, rhetorically, why it was that people were so much more decent amid the tragedy of 9-11, as compared to the aftermath of Katrina, she had offered her response, but only after apologizing for what she admitted was going to sound harsh.

"Well," Buffy explained. "It's probably because in New Orleans, it seems to be mostly poor people, and you know, they just don't have the same regard."

She then added that police should shoot the looters, and should have done so from the beginning, so as to send a message to the rest that theft would not be tolerated. You, who had just thanked Jesus for your chips and guacamole, said you agreed. They should be shot. Praise the Lord.

Your God is one with whom I am not familiar.

Two thoughts.

First, it is a very fortunate thing for you, and likely for me, that my two young children were with me as I sat there, choking back fish tacos and my own seething rage, listening to you pontificate about shit you know nothing about.

Have you ever even been to New Orleans?

And no, by that I don't mean the New Orleans of your company's sales conference. I don't mean Emeril's New Orleans, or the New Orleans of Uptown Mardi Gras parties.

I mean the New Orleans that is buried as if it were Atlantis, in places like the lower 9th ward: 98 percent black, 40 percent poor, where bodies are floating down the street, flowing with the water as it seeks its own level. Have you met the people from that New Orleans? The New Orleans that is dying as I write this, and as you order another sweet tea?

I didn't think so.

Your God – the one to whom you prayed today, and likely do before every meal, because this gesture proves what a good Christian you are – is one with whom I am not familiar.

Your God is one who you sincerely believe gives a flying fuck about your lunch. Your God is one who you seem to believe watches over you and blesses you, and brings good tidings your way, while simultaneously letting thousands of people watch their homes be destroyed, and perhaps ten thousand or more die, many of them in the streets for lack of water or food.

Did you ever stop to think just what a rancid asshole such a God would have to be, such that he would take care of the likes of you, while letting babies die in their mother's arms, and old people in wheelchairs, at the foot of Canal Street?

Your God is one with whom I am not familiar.

But no, it isn't God who's the asshole here, Skip (or Brad, or Braxton, or whatever your name is).

God doesn't feed you, and it isn't God that kept me from turning around and beating your lily white privileged ass today either.

God has nothing to do with it.

God doesn't care who wins the Super Bowl.

God doesn't help anyone win an Academy Award.

God didn't get you your last raise, or your SUV.

And if God is even half as tired as I am of having to listen to self-righteous bastards like you blame the victims of this nightmare for their fate, then you had best eat slowly from this point forward.

Why didn't they evacuate like they were told?

Are you serious?

There were 100,000 people in that city without cars. Folks who are too poor to own their own vehicle, and who rely on public transportation every day. I know this might shock you. They don't have a Hummer2, or whatever gas-guzzling piece of crap you either already own or probably are saving up for.

And no, they didn't just choose not to own a car because the buses are so gosh-darned efficient and great, as Rush Limbaugh implied, and as you likely heard, since you're the kind of person who hangs on the every word of such bloviating hacks as these.

Why did they loot?

Are you serious?

People are dying, in the streets, on live television. Fathers and mothers are watching their baby's eyes bulge in their skulls from dehydration, and you are begrudging them some Goddamned candy bars, diapers and water?

If anything the poor of New Orleans have exercised restraint.

Maybe you didn't know it, but the people of that city with whom you likely identify – the wealthy white folks of Uptown – were barely touched by this storm. Yeah, I guess God was watching over them: protecting them, and rewarding them for their faith and superior morality. If the folks downtown who are waiting desperately for their government to send help – a government whose resources have been stretched thin by a war that I'm sure you support, because you love freedom and democracy – were half as crazed as you think, they'd have marched down St. Charles Avenue and burned every mansion in sight. That they didn’t suggests a decency and compassion for their fellow man and woman that sadly people like you lack.

Can you even imagine what you would do in their place?

Can you imagine what would happen if it were well-off white folks stranded without buses to get them out, without nourishment, without hope?

Putting aside the absurdity of the imagery--after all, such folks always have the means to seek safety, or the money to rebuild, or the political significance to ensure a much speedier response for their concerns – can you just imagine?

Can you imagine what would happen if the pampered, overfed corporate class, which complains about taxes taking a third of their bloated incomes, had to sit in the hot sun for four, going on five days? Without a Margarita or hotel swimming pool to comfort them I mean?

Oh, and please, I know. I'm stereotyping you. Imagine that. I've assumed, based only on your words, what kind of person you are, even though I suppose I could be wrong. How does that feel Biff? Hurt your feelings? So sorry. But hey, at least my stereotypes of you aren't deadly. They won't effect your life one bit, unlike the ones you carry around with you and display within earshot of people like me, supposing that no one could possibly disagree.

But I'm not wrong, am I Chip? I know you. I see people like you all the time, in airports, in business suits, on their lunch breaks. People who will take advantage of any opportunity to ratify and reify their pre-existing prejudices towards the poor, towards black folks. You see the same three video loops of the same dozen or so looters on Fox News and you conclude that poor black people are crazy, immoral, criminal.

You, or others quite a bit like you, are the ones posting messages on chat room boards, calling looters sub-human "vermin," "scum," or "cockroaches." I heard you use the word "animals" three times today: you and that woman across from you – what was her name? Skyler?

What was it you said as you scooped the last bite of black beans and rice into your eager mouth? Like zoo animals? Yes, I think that was it.

Well Chuck, it's a free country, and so you certainly have the right I suppose to continue lecturing the poor, in between checking your Blackberry and dropping the kids off at soccer practice. If you want to believe that the poor of New Orleans are immoral and greedy, and unworthy of support at a time like this – or somehow more in need of your scolding than whatever donation you might make to a relief fund – so be it.

But let's leave God out of it, shall we? All of it.

Your God is one with whom I am not familiar, and I'd prefer to keep it that way.

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (2005: Soft Skull Press). He lived in New Orleans from 1986-1996. He can be reached at

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bush League!

Top FEMA Jobs: No Experience Required
Director Brown wasn't the agency's only senior official appointed under Bush with little or no background in dealing with natural disasters.

By Ken Silverstein, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In the days since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown has come under withering attack, with critics charging that his lack of prior experience in dealing with natural disasters contributed to his agency's poor performance.

But Brown is just one of at least five senior FEMA officials appointed under President Bush
whose backgrounds showed few qualifications in disaster relief.

As the administration struggles to counter negative national perceptions about its response, Vice President Dick Cheney defended the administration's FEMA appointees in remarks to reporters Thursday.

"You've got to have people at the top who respond to and are selected by presidents, and you pick the best people you can to do the jobs that need to be done," Cheney said while touring the stricken Gulf Coast. "We've also got some great career professionals, an absolute and vital part of the operation — couldn't do it without them."

But Democrats in Congress have attacked Brown and other top FEMA appointees.

"FEMA is an important agency and needs to be run by professionals, not political cronies," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), the ranking minority member of the Committee on Government Reform.

More than a year before the hurricane hit New Orleans, the head of a labor union representing FEMA workers sent a letter to members of Congress charging that "emergency managers at FEMA have been supplanted on the job by politically connected contractors and by novice employees with little background or knowledge" of disaster management.

"As … professionalism diminishes, FEMA is gradually losing its ability to function and to help disaster victims," the letter said.

People appointed to run domestic government agencies frequently have political connections. But for many top positions, some relevant background is required as well.

Paul Light, a professor of organizational studies at New York University who has testified before Congress on FEMA's role in the Department of Homeland Security, said that for years, FEMA was a dumping ground for the politically connected.

But during the Clinton years, Light said, FEMA Director James Lee Witt "built a serious hierarchy around expertise. Somewhere along the line, FEMA has returned to being a destination of last resort for political appointees."

Brown, a career attorney who was active in Republican Party politics, was hired to be FEMA's general counsel by Joe Allbaugh, an old friend and the agency's first director under Bush. Before FEMA, Brown had worked for nearly a decade at the International Arabian Horse Assn. His responsibilities included supervising horse show judges.

Allbaugh — a longtime aide to Bush who had managed his 2000 campaign — resigned as FEMA director in 2003 and opened a consulting firm that helped companies win contracts in Iraq. Brown, who had risen to become Allbaugh's top deputy, took charge.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), a strong critic of Brown's even before Katrina, wants him removed.

"When you're dealing with responding to a natural disaster, it's hard to do your job when you have no experience or background," said Lale Mamaux, Wexler's spokeswoman.

Brown is not the only official who came to the agency with scant disaster management background. His acting deputy director, Patrick James Rhode, began his professional career as an "anchor/reporter with network-affiliated television stations in Alabama and Arkansas," according to his resume on FEMA's website.

Rhode later did public relations work for several state agencies in Texas before becoming deputy director of national advance operations for Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Before moving to FEMA in 2003, Rhode served as a special assistant to the president and White House liaison with the Commerce Department. He donated $2,000 to Bush's 2004 campaign.

Daniel Craig, director of FEMA's Recovery Division since October 2003, "is responsible for planning and executing the federal government's recovery efforts following major disasters," according to the FEMA website.

Before coming to FEMA — he became a regional director based in Boston in 2001 — he worked for the Eastern Regional Office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he "was responsible for Chamber-related legislative, political, and media initiatives in New England and the Atlantic coast," the website says. Craig previously worked as a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn., and before that as a campaign advisor, political fundraiser and research analyst.

Both Allbaugh and Brown were Oklahoma natives involved in that state's Republican politics. FEMA's acting deputy chief of staff, Brooks Altshuler, also hails from Oklahoma. And like Rhode, Altshuler was an advance man for Bush.

Altshuler was a minor donor to the GOP in 2004, giving $250 to the Bush campaign and another $250 to the Republican National Committee. His father, Geoffrey, has donated $750 to Rep. Ernest J. Istook (R-Okla.) and in 2002 hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe at his home, according to campaign records and Inhofe's website.

Scott R. Morris, who held Altshuler's job until May and now is a FEMA official in Florida, had been a GOP activist as far back as the 1996 presidential campaign of former Sen. Bob Dole, when he handled grass-roots activities and media strategies.

He later served as "a media strategist for the George W. Bush for President primary campaign and the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign," according to his resume. Morris donated $2,250 to Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.

Morris' private sector career includes a stint as "marketing director for the world's leading provider of e-business applications software in California," his resume states.

Natalie Rule, a FEMA spokeswoman, said Brown had received "on-the-job training" in dealing with more than 200 presidentially declared disasters since coming to the agency. Brown gained important background as assistant city manager for Edmond, Okla., and as chairman of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, where he handled issues such as contingency planning and police negotiations, Rule said.

Rule said other top FEMA appointees whose qualifications have been challenged also brought skills to the table. For example, both Rhode and Altshuler had logistics backgrounds from their work on Bush's advance team.

In June 2004, Local 4060 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents FEMA workers, wrote to members of Congress to warn about alleged cronyism at the agency. The letter said the practice initially "took place mainly at the senior levels of FEMA, but it has now entered into the mid-level and working-level" of FEMA.

"The ability of FEMA to manage emergencies and disasters is being seriously eroded," the letter said.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Cheney has trouble remembering Patrick Leahy's name.

Someone (Ben Marble) has the balls to tell the Bush Administration what most of us are thinking....

You know how to say this. Don't you, Dick?

An update.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

This would never happen at a Horse Show! Mike Brown's FEMA exposes itself again.

Right city, wrong state
FEMA accused of flying evacuees to wrong Charleston

(CNN) -- Add geography to the growing list of FEMA fumbles.

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.
It was not known whether arrangements have been made to care for the evacuees or transport them to the correct destination.

A call seeking comment from FEMA was not immediately returned.

"We called in all the available resources," said Dr. John Simkovich, director of public health for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

"They responded within 30 minutes, which is phenomenal, to meet the needs of the citizens coming in from Louisiana," he said.

Simkovich said that the agency had described some of the evacuees as needing "some minor treatment ... possibly some major treatment."

"Unfortunately, the plane did not come in," Simkovich said. "There was a mistake in the system, coming out through FEMA, that we did not receive the aircraft this afternoon. It went to Charleston, West Virginia."

A line of buses and ambulances idled behind him at Charleston International Airport as he described what happened.

"This is a 'no event' for today," Simkovich said.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Now we know where George the 43rd gets it....Yeah, we're sure they were all tickled, Babs.

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

By E&P Staff

Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM

NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this
evening on American Public Media's "Marketplace"

She was part of a group in Houston today at the
Astrodome that included her husband and former
President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for
the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack
Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

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The City of Louisiana

If you missed Keith Olbermann's commentary, The City of Louisiana, live on Monday, it's worth a look now.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Rove and the Wrong Wing are blaming the locals, but who really took charge?

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana
August 27, 2005

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.


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Are Democrats and Progressives ready to stand up and start making a difference? or will they roll over and start acting like Republicans again?

The Bursting Point

By David Brooks of The New York Times

As Ross Douthat observed on his blog The American Scene, Katrina was the anti-9/11.

On Sept. 11, Rudy Giuliani took control. The government response was quick and decisive. The rich and poor suffered alike. Americans had been hit, but felt united and strong. Public confidence in institutions surged.

Last week in New Orleans, by contrast, nobody took control. Authority was diffuse and action was ineffective. The rich escaped while the poor were abandoned. Leaders spun while looters rampaged. Partisans squabbled while the nation was ashamed.

The first rule of the social fabric - that in times of crisis you protect the vulnerable - was trampled. Leaving the poor in New Orleans was the moral equivalent of leaving the injured on the battlefield. No wonder confidence in civic institutions is plummeting.

And the key fact to understanding why this is such a huge cultural moment is this: Last week's national humiliation comes at the end of a string of confidence-shaking institutional failures that have cumulatively changed the nation's psyche.

Over the past few years, we have seen intelligence failures in the inability to prevent Sept. 11 and find W.M.D.'s in Iraq. We have seen incompetent postwar planning. We have seen the collapse of Enron and corruption scandals on Wall Street. We have seen scandals at our leading magazines and newspapers, steroids in baseball, the horror of Abu Ghraib.

Public confidence has been shaken too by the steady rain of suicide bombings, the grisly horror of Beslan and the world's inability to do anything about rising oil prices.

Each institutional failure and sign of helplessness is another blow to national morale. The sour mood builds on itself, the outraged and defensive reaction to one event serving as the emotional groundwork for the next.

The scrapbook of history accords but a few pages to each decade, and it is already clear that the pages devoted to this one will be grisly. There will be pictures of bodies falling from the twin towers, beheaded kidnapping victims in Iraq and corpses still floating in the waterways of New Orleans five days after the disaster that caused them.

It's already clear this will be known as the grueling decade, the Hobbesian decade. Americans have had to acknowledge dark realities that it is not in our nature to readily acknowledge: the thin veneer of civilization, the elemental violence in human nature, the lurking ferocity of the environment, the limitations on what we can plan and know, the cumbersome reactions of bureaucracies, the uncertain progress good makes over evil.

As a result, it is beginning to feel a bit like the 1970's, another decade in which people lost faith in their institutions and lost a sense of confidence about the future.

"Rats on the West Side, bedbugs uptown/What a mess! This town's in tatters/I've been shattered," Mick Jagger sang in 1978.

Midge Decter woke up the morning after the night of looting during the New York blackout of 1977 feeling as if she had "been given a sudden glimpse into the foundations of one's house and seen, with horror, that it was utterly infested and rotting away."

Americans in 2005 are not quite in that bad a shape, since the fundamental realities of everyday life are good. The economy and the moral culture are strong. But there is a loss of confidence in institutions. In case after case there has been a failure of administration, of sheer competence. Hence, polls show a widespread feeling the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Katrina means that the political culture, already sour and bloody-minded in many quarters, will shift. There will be a reaction. There will be more impatience for something new. There is going to be some sort of big bang as people respond to the cumulative blows of bad events and try to fundamentally change the way things are.

Reaganite conservatism was the response to the pessimism and feebleness of the 1970's. Maybe this time there will be a progressive resurgence. Maybe we are entering an age of hardheaded law and order. (Rudy Giuliani, an unlikely G.O.P. nominee a few months ago, could now win in a walk.) Maybe there will be call for McCainist patriotism and nonpartisan independence. All we can be sure of is that the political culture is about to undergo some big change.

We're not really at a tipping point as much as a bursting point. People are mad as hell, unwilling to take it anymore.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

"They would move heaven and earth to save the life of one White Woman in Florida ..."

Hats off to mcolley, The Progressive Programmer. He nailed it with this post.

Go Sharpton!

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Friday, September 02, 2005

A New Hero!

Jabbor Gibson.

Man! Oh, man! This kid has some cajones. Don't you wish we had a President with a set?

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Repug quotes you're not going to believe!

"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."

Trent's happy.

FEMA director Michael Brown just added this little line to his interview on CNN right now, refering to who FEMA is trying to hel in New Orleans:
" help those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..."

OK, we know the truth: Dubya was using Trent as an example of all houses on the Gulf Coast, but it was still stupid.

But, Brown?!?!? "chose not to evacuate"? "chose not to leave the city"?!?!?!?!

He might as well have said, "We know you had no money, no transportation, no place to go, and no efforts were were made by the city, state, or federal government to get you out, but it was YOUR CHOICE!


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Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Great Rant

Mike Dean's Rant
Sept. 1, 2005

Have you seen the gas prices? Can you believe it! It’s an outrage! An absolute outrage!!

I feel better with that off my chest. It feels good to grandstand a little now and then; exercise my right to free-speech and all, just before getting in line to give someone $45 for another tank of gasoline. Because, sadly, I’m just like you. And you’re a punk. That’s right, I called you a punk. What are you going to do about it? Nothing? That’s what I thought. That’s what you do best.

The primary issue is not why they are so high- that would only be another pointless, knee-jerk, Us vs. Them political wrangling competition. The issue is how do we adjust? Or, better yet, how do we force change? No, not political change. That still leaves us in the same boat we are already in- dependant on the decisions of someone else to make our lives comfortable, all dictated by, and doled out, at their pace.

Campaigns are boot camp for professional liars, elections are rigged, leaders are scoundrels. I submit that anyone anxiously waiting for the next election, when we can get the right guy in office to fix our domestic problems, is delusional, naive, or both. Making our voices heard through the election process is becoming more of a joke all the time. Besides, that has your voice being heard every couple years, at the most. Would you like to be heard on a consistent basis? Would you like to be heard, counted and reckoned with every day? I can tell you what that will take. The solution is fairly easy. But you're not going to like it, so you're not going to do it. But, what the heck, I'll tell you anyway! Ready? Too bad.


That's right-- change. Not the government, not your job, not your surroundings. Change you. That's where it all starts. I told you you wouldn't like it. And if you're tuning out right about now, trust me, I'm hardly surprised. Punk.

The quickest, most efficient, long-term solution for facing this price gouging with a smile and fully extended finger is to become exempt from it. Or, at the least, much less effected by it. And that, my friends, is not in fighting for lower prices, it is in negating the necessity for your present volume of consumption of that product in your life. Your victory over the gas pump is not some far off political transformation. It is in present-day personal transformation. It is in your feet, your bike, your friends and public transportation; all of which transforms your wallet. And that is what they'll hear- or, not hear, as the case may be. The sound of the till sitting idle is the only thing that will end this madness.

You are a consumer and that is your most powerful voice. You can be heard every single day by simply keeping your money in your pocket. Eventually, when you've kept enough of it, someone will ask you, "Hey, what's it gonna take to get some of those bills back in circulation?" At which point you issue your demands, whatever they may be.

You could start with, "Well, I want affordable fuel and I won't use any until the price comes down."

But you don't have to stop there. You might also throw in,

"I also want alternatives to fossil fuel. I want electric cars, cars that run on corn byproducts, solar cars, and I want some cars equipped with the engines that get 150 MPG. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You've had the plans for the engine propping up the short leg on your desk for 30 years. And those cars better look good, ride good and perform great!. None of those ugly designs I see- I want a stylish car with adequate horsepower, a fast top speed and all the trimmings. We both know you can do that. You just choose not to because you have never had to. After all, why work so hard when what you've got is already turning in such tremendous profits, right! Well, those days are over, so you should probably work through lunch to get an early start or it's going to be a stark Christmas in your house."

Sounds good, huh? Believe it or not, you have that power already, but it's useless unless you exercise it. But that's always the hard part. Getting the membership to the club is easy; dragging your lazy butt out of bed to go to the club is another matter.

At the present, I couldn't care less about the luxury tax on yachts. You know why? Because I don't own one. The tax doesn't apply. The thought never crosses my mind. Well, except for now, because I thought it made a decent analogy. But, aside from right now, never. And don't miss the point to get off on some rant about me being self-centered, because every single one of us is more concerned with the matters that hit home in our own lives than we are with the problems that don't. Oh sure, they're important and we'd love to solve them, but first things first. The yacht crowd
doesn't come before my grocery bill. Your concern is prioritized, same as mine.

Now, for the people who don't drive, or hardly ever drive, the gas prices are a non-issue in their personal lives. They don't care because they don’t affect them. And therein lies your victory. The moment you become less dependent on gasoline, you win, and before long your voice gets louder.

In a consumer-driven economy, change can happen quickly, unless of course the consumers are as lazy, spoiled and apathetic as the marketing teams think they are. And they are. Because for too many years we have allowed the marketing teams to tell us how we should be living. Now, too few people ever think for themselves. They only buy from the hippest stores after seeing the flashiest ads. In a word: lemmings. In two words: lazy lemmings.

Change is going to require effort. It's going to provide inconvenience. It's going to be a pain in the ass! And if this problem is bigger than you are, it's going to bring you defeat on a silver platter, muss your hair, call you names and give you a wedgie.

And please don’t pretend some stupid e-mail inspired daylong “gas-out” is going to do a bit of good. (“You mean you went a whole day without gas! My God, man, how did you survive?!”) When in reality, everybody either filled up the day before or the day after and the books all balanced the same at the end of the month for the oil company.

Do you really think the Boston Tea Party would have worked if they have left the tea intact and promised to buy twice as much tomorrow? No! They destroyed it. That tea was never consumed- a total loss for the company. Thrown out with a healthy, "And stay out!" Now that’s a consumer-driven economy at work.

If you want the prices to drop you have to be willing to do without the product. Not just today or tomorrow, but for as long as it takes. You can change society by first changing yourself. But it takes effort. You can’t do it by whining or lobbying. You have to make the change where it will be felt the hardest- in their wallet. That requires you to start walking when practical, biking when practical, carpooling when practical, and changing your idea of what is “practical.” Until you do, you will always be at the mercy of those you loathe.

You will finally be immune to high gas prices when you, A) no longer use gas, or, B) use significantly less gas. And when that happens on a national level, change will come in spades and the marketing teams will be knocking down your doors asking you how you’d like to live.

Will you do it? Nah, we both know better than that. You’ll wait for someone else to make the first move. You’ll figure there’s no way to change things on a national level. Heck, even a local level is going to cut into your TV and potato chips time. It’s all just too inconvenient. It’s not going to happen.

Oh sure, you could if you wanted, and you’ll derive some fleeting satisfaction at the power you almost have; some illusionary sense of strength when you see the sword you can’t quite lift, as you imagine the order it would command if only you could be bothered to try.

Yeah, you could do a lot of things. But you won’t. You’ll just sit around on your wedgie and complain.

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"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

By Sidney Blumenthal

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

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 New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

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.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.

On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."

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