Friday, September 30, 2005


This is spreading around the blogosphere like wildfire. It's well worth the time to give it a read. Pass it on...

Cries from the Lake of Fire

Where is the Money Going?

We know the connection between Halliburton and all of its subsidiaries to Republicans and those connections have ensured that Dick Cheney's former employer is getting a large share of the dollars spent in hurricane relief efforts. But who at Carnival Cruise Lines is a major contributor? What else could explain the latest twist to the deal to rent two of Carnival's ships to house refugees in New Orleans (which are mostly empty, by the way)?

Two senators on Thursday asked federal officials to explain their decision to sign a $236 million deal with Carnival Cruise Lines for Hurricane Katrina housing, saying Greece was ready to provide two ships for free.
And it's not just big ticket items like ships and shipping (see previous post) that FEMA is overpaying for. Even for something so simple as the now-ubiquitous blue tarps that cover so many damaged roofs in the South FEMA has managed to overpay.

The blue sheeting - a godsend to residents whose homes are threatened by rain - is rapidly becoming the largest roofing project in the nation's history.

It isn't coming cheap.

Knight Ridder has found that a lack of oversight, generous contracting deals and poor planning mean that government agencies are shelling out as much as 10 times what the temporary fix would normally cost.

The government is paying contractors an average of $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof - even though it's also giving them endless supplies of blue sheeting for free.
Oback Barama (D. IL) is doing yeoman's work along with Tom Coburn (R. OK) to get Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff to explain what's going on and to control spending in the relief efforts. So far, their efforts are to no avail.

I have no problem with spending the money it will take to help our fellow citizens in their time of need. I'd just like to know that we're getting the most for our money and that it's not going to line the pockets of the already wealthy and well-connected. It seems I'm hoping against hope.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

FEMA Fiscal Responsibility

No bid contracts, little accountability. Yep, FEMA is spending our money responsibly.

In response to reports that FEMA may be paying up to $4-$6 per mile and taking equipment out of the available carrier base, IARW [International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses] conducted a quick survey of members to see just how serious and widespread the problem might be.

One member, who contacted all his major carriers to inquire about the FEMA issue, found that over half of them were called by FEMA and asked to commit resources. As of five days ago, none of that equipment had been diverted to the FEMA program. He reported, however, that brokers with whom he regularly works are having difficulty, as their carrier base, the owner-operators, were accepting FEMA offers.

An East Coast member reported hearing the pay is $4/mile, plus hefty layover pay. They have been finding it difficult to hire owner-operators on a regular basis, especially in the past few weeks, and especially in Florida and the mid-Atlantic. He thinks carriers may have been pulling ice to the hurricane areas and in some cases paid to layover until the ice could be distributed.

After Katrina and just prior to Rita, another member reported that carriers were already at a premium in both the Southeast and Midwest. This member said that over 100 trucks had been sitting at an Air Force base outside of Montgomery, AL waiting for directions. It was said that they were being paid $600 a day to sit and wait.

Another member who is feeling the hurricane impact agrees that FEMA and others are paying considerably more in freight rates to secure trucks, particularly in the South. This member heard that FEMA may be paying up to $1,500 per load, when a normal rate would be $600. He is seeing truck shortages throughout the industry and is unsure when the carrier base will return to normal.

At Least He Has Body Armor

A recent story detailed how some of the bullet-proof vests sold to the Presidential detail, including those for the President and First Lady, were potentially defective. That also means that some of those used by the Secret Service detail were defective. Not a good thing. But at least they had them.

Unlike - still - our soldiers in Iraq.

Oh, you thought that problem had been solved? Please.

DeLay Shoots the Messenger, But...

Who will be the first rat to bail on this sinking ship?

At an earlier point, Bush could have provided political cover for scandals that touched one or another Republican elected official. But with his approval ratings in the low 40s, there is little to prop up the party's image when congressional leaders are under investigation. Already there have been signs that Bush's influence with members of his own party was beginning to wane as House Republicans look to 2006. Without DeLay in power, the prospects of further splintering increase, adding to perceptions of a party in growing disarray.
Can you say schadenfreude?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Death Porn

The liberal blogosphere is abuzz over a story that it seems the main-stream media are ignoring: soldiers in the Mid-East theater of operations are trading photos of themselves with dead Iraqis or pieces thereof for access to an amateur porn site (no link from me). The military has given some rather wishy-washy answers about whether or not this is legal. Two blogs that I read frequently have some excellent posts: Blonde Sense and AmericaBlog. Lots of others are writing about it as well.

My interest in this subject has a very different tack than these other bloggers. As an ex-soldier, I have some insight into at least part of what's going on here.

It's a well known phenomenon in military history that governments, societies and military leaders take great pains to dehumanize their enemies. This is a necessary psychological step prior to and during wars; citizen-soldiers have to be given a reason to overcome their ingrained aversion to killing fellow humans. Without this important step armies could not function during wartime. With the rise of what some term the "professional army," taken from volunteers as opposed to draftees, and the expansion of our "national interests" to far corners of the globe for extended periods we see the rise of a perpetual dehumanization of the enemy-of-the-day. It's not too hard to imagine this animus extending to everyone "not us," to all non-Americans. Everyone outside our borders has become "them."

What we're seeing in events like Abu Graib, the developing story on more abuses by the 82nd Airborne Division and this story are all a result of the dehumanization of our current foes.

Are any of these things "right," whatever that means? No. I don't think anyone would claim that they are (except a few extreme-right-wingnuts). But perhaps instead of "is it right?" we should be asking another question. It's not an easy question to ask and it's even harder to answer - in fact, no answer will be completely satisfactory to anyone. And perhaps that ambiguity itself has a lesson to teach us about the things we do as humans, as a society. The answer could help illuminate our path forward in the post-Cold War era.

So what is that question?

Are we willing to accept the results of the necessary dehumanization of our "enemies" in order to effect our national policies?
I'll be very interested to read your responses.

Is Your Shoe Ringing?

Don Adams
Maxwell Smart
Tennessee Tuxedo
Inspector Gadget

I can't beleive Don Adams is gone. I grew up watching him in the first two roles and I watched him (well, listened to his voice) in the last role with my daughter as she grew up.

Monday, September 26, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bids!

This took much less time than I thought to come out...

More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to clean up after Hurricane Katrina were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, the New York Times reported Monday.
There are some very familiar names in the list of contractors cited; I'm sure you can name most of them without even reading the article.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Navy Assisted CIA in "Rendition" Operations

This is very disturbing:

A branch of the Navy secretly contracted for a 33-plane fleet that included two Gulfstream jets reportedly used to fly terror suspects to countries known to practice torture, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
It was one of these planes that was used to fly suspects from Italy to Egypt; a case in which Italy has issued arrest warrants for several suspected CIA agents. Can you imagine the uproar if some country were to kidnapp US residents and send them to Syria for "interrogation?"

Friday, September 23, 2005

Iraq Disintegrating

Even Bush's closest allies are moving off the reservation on Iraq:

Iraq is heading towards disintegration, raising fears of a wider regional conflict, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned on Thursday.
And then there's this:

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says the Bush administration did not heed some Saudi warnings on occupying Iraq and that he doesn't believe a new constitution and elections will solve the emerging nation's problems.


I took today off; it's a beautiful, early fall day, we have company coming this afternoon and I just couldn't stand the thought of sitting in my office all day today. I could live like this...

We're watching the appraoch of Rita on The Weather Channel and CNN, hoping that friends we have in Houston, who couldn't get out due to the traffic, are going to be safe. Seems that as prepared as Texas thought it was, the exodus didn't go nearly as well as they thought it would. Anyone know why it took them so long to make all lanes on the evacuation routes one-way?

Enjoy the end of your week and have a great weekend. I'll try to get another post or two up for the weekend, but no promises.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Brilliant Bit of Flying

This had to have been one of the most intense things I've ever watched on TV (since 9/11). It also has to be one of the most incredible bits of flying I've ever witnessed in all my years of flying.

What Have They Really Learned? Part II

After all these years of BushCo. you'd think I'd learn. You'd think more of us would have learned the answer to that question. But no. It took a trip over to Paperwight's Fair Shot to get the answer to my question.

What have they really learned? Nothing; they don't want to learn anything.

...the Bush people and the modern Republican Party just don't give a tinker's damn about actually governing. It's not that they're too dumb or that every single one of them is incapable of competence (though there are clearly a lot of complete stumblebums with a lot of power in the party), it's that competence is entirely irrelevant to their practices, either with regard to policy or personnel. They're operating with a completely different set of priorities.
Make sure to go read the rest. It was an eye-opener for me.

What Have They Really Learned?

With another major hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast, every level of government from the smallest town to the Federal level is in a flurry of activity. Nobody wants to be the one responsible for a second Katrina-style response.

But the preemptive declarations of states of emergency, the pre-staging of response teams and supplies, the readying of airplanes and busses for the evacuees; all of that is easy with the images of New Orleans and Gulfport still fresh, still raw. And for FEMA and the rest of BushCo. it's easy given the administration's tanking poll numbers.

The real question is when next year's first "monster storm" threatens, or when a category 4 or 5 storm rages into the Gulf in 2007 how will everyone react? What have they really learned and what - for now - is just the tendency to react, even to over react, after the last debacle? The first hints of an answer to that question at the federal level is not encouraging with the appointment of Karl Rove to lead the rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast.

It would not be overstating the case to say there's an ill wind blowing...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Iraq is Making a Difference in the Middle East

Oh is it ever!

"I'm explaining to my fighters every day the lessons I learned and my experience in Iraq," he tells a NEWSWEEK correspondent. "I want to copy in Afghanistan the tactics and spirit of the glorious Iraqi resistance."

Mohammed Daud, commander of the biggest Taliban force in Ghazni province, roughly 100 miles southwest of Kabul

Forsooth Fareed!

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria lays it out in stark terms - and gets it exactly right:

For all its virtues, the private sector cannot accomplish all this. Wal-Mart and Federal Express cannot devise a national energy policy for the United States. For that and for much else, we need government. We already pay for it. Can somebody help us get our money's worth?
The column is well worth reading - and passing on.

Going Home to New Orleans

The conflict - so far pretty low key - between New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Vice Admiral Thad Allen bears watching. It's too soon to say if there are reasons other than those advanced by Allen for people not to return to the city. All indications are that for now, there really aren't the basic services needed to support those who would return.

However, we saw the disregard for the ability of the elderly and poor to evacuate, and there have already been calls for the poor neighborhoods of the area to be returned to wetlands and swamp. And of course there have been various politicians who've questioned whether to even spend the money to rebuild the city at all.

Some of the important questions are:

1. How will those displaced by the storm return to New Orleans?

Will FEMA again run convoys of busses to reverse the diaspora? Who will want to return and who will not?
2. What will they return to?

Mini-cities of mobile homes and pre-fab buildings are supposed to spring up all around the Gulf Coast. Will the displaced want to move into these homes or will they demand to return to their old neighborhoods? What services will be available and what will they have to do without - and for how long?
3. What will the EPA have to say on the safety of the areas hardest hit?

How well will these areas be cleaned and what systems will be put in place to monitor the continuing clean up and long-term health effects of residents who return?
4. What areas will be subject to eminent domain?

Refinery capacity is badly needed in the country and other industrial areas have long needed room to expand along the Gulf Coast. Will government, at all levels, be able to resist allowing such expansion at the expense of poorer neighborhoods? Should they resist?
5. How quickly and how diligently will FEMA and other agencies work to get people out of the "FEMAvilles" they'll be moved to?

Will these people be conveniently "forgotten" in their new ghettos, with no means to return home? If so, how long will the sharks wait before moving into their old neighborhoods claiming that they've been abandoned?
I'm sure I've missed plenty of other questions to be asked but I think these are enough to get some people to pay attention. We shouldn't let the flurry of Rove's PR blitz blind us to what's really going on.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush on Cost of Recovery: "I Can Sh*t $20 Bills!"

I'm not sure what else he had in mind...

“We got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes,” Bush said, noting Americans were already paying “a tax in essence” because of higher gasoline prices. “And we don’t need to be taking more money out of their pocket.
In the original quote I'm pretty sure that he said that he didn't want to increase the taxes that "working Americans" pay. It was all I could do to not throw something and yell at the computer. "You don't have to raise taxes on the working stiffs! Raise them on the rich! Raise them on corporations!"

But no, Shrubby-boy says that the rest of the federal budget will have to absorb these costs with further cuts. And I could swear I heard Grover Norquist laughing in the background over the sound of water running into a bathtub.

Potemkin on the Mississippi - Redux

If you thought that my invocation of a facade villiage in yesterday's post on Bush's choice of a location for his speech last night was a stretch, consider this:

The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Disasters 'R Us

The problems that allowed 9/11 to happen have not been fixed.

Bin Laden is still on the loose.

Afghanistan is falling back into a Taliban theocracy.

Iraq has spun violently out of control.

The slowness of FEMA's response to Hurrican Katrina killed more people than the storm itself.

Now, just because Shrubby-boy gave another of his written-in-crayon speeches to an empty square, we're supposed to believe that he can organize the biggest reconstruction effort since the end of the Civil War? And we're supposed to be happy that the soon-to-be indicted traitor Karl Rove can be trusted with an open-ended $200-plus billion reconstruction fund?


Thursday, September 15, 2005

New Orleans: Potemkin City

If you have the stomach to watch Shrubby-boy's speech tonight - which I don't - remember this: according an anonymous White House source, there will be no live audience in Jackson Square where he'll be yapping. And the press won't be allowed out of their news trucks. The square, long a forum for all manor of truly public speech will be as empty as Bush's head.

Remember: Karl Rove has been put in charge of the BushCo. post-Katrina operation. Not someone with experience in recovery from a catastrophe of historical proportions. Much like "Drownie" Brownie, Bush has once again placed cronyism and the good of the party above the good of the American people.

Remember: the recovery effort will be as fake as the speech.


What Bush Should Say Tonight

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has sent out a press release ahead of Shrubby-boy's attempt at recapturing that bullhorn moment of long ago. Reid says what Bush really ought to say but that you know he won't. John at AmericaBlog has the entire text. Go check it out.

It's the strongest thing I've heard from a Democrat in a long time.

Drownie Learned His Lesson

Michael Brown seems to have learned one lesson very well from his stint at BushCo.'s FEMA:

The former FEMA director who became a lightning rod for the sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina put the blame on state officials in an interview with the New York Times newspaper.
The lesson? The buck stops everywhere but here.

Empty Streets

New Orleans continues to be mostly a ghost town while the press, Congress and the public slowly come to grips with the fact that BushCo. was responsible for the deaths of thousands by a myriad of acts of commission and omission. As usual, so far only one relatively low-ranking individual has taken the fall for this catastrophe - Michael "Drownie" Brown.

Tuesday, Shrubby-boy declared (despite all evidence to the contrary) that he could do more than one thing at a time. And so it seems he was telling the truth.

He's also responsible for this continuing debacle:

Two suicide car bombers struck within a minute of each other just a half mile apart in south Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least seven policemen and raising the day's bombing death toll in the capital to at least 31, police said.

Earlier Thursday, a suicide car bombing killed 16 policemen and five civilians in the same neighborhood, signaling a new round of violence one day after residents suffered through Baghdad's bloodiest day of the war.

At least 160 were killed and 570 wounded Wednesday in more than a dozen bombings, for which the terror group Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility. Many of the victims were day laborers lured by a suicide attacker posing as an employer. There was no immediate claim for the Thursday bombings.
The results of this entirely one-man-made disaster? Another empty city:

The U.S. military and Iraqi police drove through Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, where the bombings were concentrated Thursday, warning residents to stay indoors because of a report that five more car bombers were ready to attack, police Capt. Ali Abdul Hamza said. Streets in the southern neighborhood were empty.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina vs Khanun

Have you heard about the Category 4 typhoon that hit one of the most populous areas of China's southeast coast? Nearly as powerful as Katrina and the strongest storm to come ashore in China this year, Khanun leveled huge swathes of the coastline before heading inland to dump massive amounts of rain on the interior.

The destruction of property is massive. But the Chinese government managed to evacuate nearly one million people and only 14 are confirmed dead (although it's still too soon to know the final tally).

Perhaps in tomorrow's meeting with Hu Jintao, Bush could ask what the Chinese government did right.

Just a thought.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Blame Game

In case anyone wants to know which way to point their fingers, I've provided a convenient, all-in-one-place target. Only one finger required - I'll leave the choice of which finger up to you:

Bush, Brown and Chertoff ponder their fate...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Memories of The Big Easy

All of my memories of New Orleans are good ones. Seeing the city now is painful; sad. Like watching the final, awful days of a close friend. If, as it seems likely to be, the old New Orleans is gone I'd rather remember her as she was. I'd rather remember the good times.

I traveled all around the South on business for several years and I was always glad when I could schedule a trip to New Orleans. Despite growing up in Florida and doing a fair bit of traveling as a child and young adult I had never made my way there until around 1993. I'd read the history of the place, seen pictures and knew the names of the famous streets and areas of the city. I'd heard the jazz and the blues. But as I found out on my first visit, I didn't know New Orleans; it's not a place you can learn about from a distance. You have to experience it, you have to breathe it in.

There is no heat like the damp, sweltering heat of the delta in July. It weighs down the air so that it's hard to breath, it slows everything down as though the atmosphere were more water than air. Even early in the morning when the city and all of its revellers are mostly still asleep, the heat can be oppressive. But somehow, even in that heat, the smell of hot coffee and deep fried beignets always drew me to the green and white awnings of Cafe du Monde. With my tie loosened and my coat left in the car, I'd make my way down towards the river, rolling up my sleeves as I walked, for the coffee, dark as bayou mud and earthy with the taste of roasted chicory and the donuts, hot out of the oil, piled on a too small plate and dusted with powdered sugar. As I sat down with my treasures and unfolded my paper - the now famous, but then unknown, Times-Picayune - New Orleans would slowly come to life around me.

It may seem cliche, but it's true that there is always music in New Orleans. No matter how early I managed to sit down by the black, wrought iron railing surrounding the Cafe du Monde, I never managed to beat the first street musician. Usually it was some old, weather-beaten guy with a saxophone softly blowing the blues like the breeze off the Mississippi. But sometimes it was a young kid with a couple of old plastic painters buckets and a pair of drumsticks beating out a more modern tattoo. Other times it was a guitar or a trumpet. Sometimes they were near enough to watch the first beads of sweat trickle down their faces and sometimes I could only catch the faint strains of a song just out of reach like the memory of a dream from the night before.

I have been down Bourbon Street and through its bars and restaurants many times. I've been to some of the famous places and to some nobody's ever heard of. I never got the chance to be there for Mardi Gras and now I wonder if there will ever be another Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I've drunk Hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's and now I wonder if they'll ever serve another one. I've eaten several kinds of etouffee but the kind made with crawfish - mud bugs to the locals - will always be my favorite. I've watched the freighters moving slowly up the river channel while standing at the bottom of a levee, my mind boggling at the sight of giant ships seeming to fly overhead.

These memories are all part of my New Orleans. But my favorite memories, the ones I always tell to anyone who asks whether I've been there, are all about starting my day in that little bit of shade under a green and white awning between the Mississippi and Jackson Square. I remember best the Big Easy waking up with me as I drank my coffee and watched her people starting another day in their wonderful city.


I hope that when the city is dry again but before they start the rebuilding they let one of the old funeral bands march down the center of the French Quarter, moving in their slow, stilted gait. And I hope they blow one of the old, sad songs... once more for old New Orleans.

Thomas Friedman: Asshole

This will make you sick.

This is the sentence that really got me:

Hell hath no fury like journalists with a compelling TV story where they get to be the heroes and the government the fools.
Yeah, Friedman, that's the whole story, right there. Journalists are the culprits.

Fuck you.

BushCo. Not Just Incompetent; Evil

When news broke that the FEMA debit cards promised to all dislocated families were to only be given to those who wound up in Houston - and then only to those at the Astrodome - I assumed it was just the bungled work of the gang of incompetents I outlined in the previous post. The continued delay delivering them seemed to be just part of the whole, cruel situation.

I may have been mistaken.

Steve Bates, over at the Yellow Doggerel Democrat, thinks there may be a more malign reason for the delay. He notes that the numbers of refugees in the covered sites are quickly falling as they find other places to stay:

Somebody's gotta do it, so I'll connect the dots: FEMA is slow-walking delivery of the debit cards to reduce the number of displaced families that actually get them. It's the latest instance in a long tradition by the Bush administration of making a big public splash about providing money approved by Congress for use in a catastrophe, but never actually delivering it. Think of New York City after 9/11/2001... much of the promised federal money was never spent. Think of the FEMA money authorized for relief from several hurricanes in Florida over the last few years... many people approved to receive it never got it. And right here in Houston, think of Tropical Storm Allison, back in 2001. FEMA promised to reimburse the city for many of its expenditures that legally should have been covered by the agency. According to a segment by Wayne Dolcefino on the ABC 13 evening news earlier this week, most of that money has still not been reimbursed, 4-1/2 years later; FEMA is allegedly still investigating whether the city's claim is legitimate.
If you think you've seen the worst from this band of incompetent, thieving bastards, you're probably wrong.

What Went Wrong?

While there is surely plenty of blame to go around for the disaster after the disaster of Katrina, even our SCLM is getting the clue that the buck really ought to stop at a certain desk in the Oval Office. The story teaser under the image below on MSNBC this morning was "Agency's top leaders have ties to Bush White House; critics say ability to respond to emergencies weakened."

The story that went with the picture is pretty damning.

Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.
Is it any wonder then that much of the initial - and continuing - response has been photo ops for the empty flight suit and his missing-in-action side kick?

FEMA's response has only been the most visible and talked about mistake of BushCo. since the hurricane, but you can bet that the administration will try to sack "Brownie" and foist that off on all of us as the solution to the problem. We can't let them get away with that. There's a reason why inexperienced political hacks are in such important jobs, there's a reason why the National Guard troops needed in Louisiana and Mississippi were unavailable to help, there's a reason why there's no money in the Federal budget to pay for this disaster: and that reason is sitting in the White House.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


In January, my father-in-law died after an extended fight with liver cancer. When my wife and I returned from his funeral in Canada, there was seemingly an entire grocery store on our front porch. Our friends, knowing what we'd been through over the holidays, had called to make sure they knew when we were coming home and made sure that there was nearly a month's worth of groceries and prepared foods waiting for us when we arrived.

It was one of the most humbling things that has ever happened to either of us. To know that friends would care so much, would think of nearly everything we could need, would do so much of us... To this day I can't think about what they did without choking up.

In the same vein, I've been humbled by the response of the world community to the disaster on our Gulf Coast. You won't hear much about it on the news - you have to go to the blogs and the "unofficial" media to learn about who's given what - but the response has been similarly humbling. One in particular that I remember hearing about was from Bangladesh. Typically we only hear about Bangladesh when the latest typhoon sweeps seemingly half its population away in the storm surge. In this instance, they pledged to send food aid and over a million dollars; an amount probably equal to a fair percentage of their GDP.

It's such a shame that the media chooses to ignore this response; it makes the rest of the world seem so far away rather than the integral part of our neighborhood that it really is. Even worse is the federal red tape delaying the deployment of this aid...

Offers of foreign aid worth tens of millions of dollars -- including a Swedish water purification system, a German cellular telephone network and two Canadian rescue ships -- have been delayed for days awaiting review by backlogged federal agencies, according to European diplomats and information collected by the State Department.
Since Hurricane Katrina, more than 90 countries and international organizations offered to assist in recovery efforts, but nearly all endeavors remained mired Tuesday in bureaucratic entanglements, in most cases at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
So when you hear some mouth breather on the networks or talk radio asking where the aid from the rest of the world is, you'll know.

Republicans Have Pillaged, Now Comes the Raping

We've seen, in the slow, uncoordinated and sometimes ineffectual response to Katrina, the results of the Republican pillaging of our federal government: tax cuts to the richest, huge and uncontrolled spending on the illegal Iraq war and nearly lethal cuts to social programs for the poorest among us. These have left the government nearly, but not quite small enough to "drown in a bathtub."

Now comes the final raping of America.

While Democrats and a few moderate Republicans try to figure out how to help those who've been devastated by Katrina and her aftermath, those furthest to the Right are using this catastrophe as an excuse to flay the last bit of flesh from the federal government so that it can finally be drowned.

If you think I'm kidding, here's what Republicans are saying in response to Hillary Clinton's musings on perhaps needing to raise some peoples' taxes to pay for all of this:

So how will Congress pay for the new spending needs due to Katrina? Part of Clinton’s answer was to raise taxes. “We should be prepared to ask for sacrifice particularly from the richest people in America,” she argued.

But DeLay rejected any such notion. “The worst thing we could do in response to a recovery like this is to attack the economy,” he told reporters. “The worst thing we could do… is a windfall profits tax on the oil corporations, so that they won’t have the money to reinvest in developing more oil and more gas. The worst thing we could do is to increase taxes on the economy, an economy that now has to be a major part of the recovery.”

Some congressional Republicans indicated the hurricane recovery may point to an “era of smaller government” — requiring a suspension of regulations that slow down re-building of highways and more urgently needed gasoline refineries.
Even in wake of this appalling natural disaster, this band of thugs - no better than the looters in the darkest hours of New Orleans' misery - they can only think of how to benefit themselves and their largest contributors. All at the expense of the poorest and most miserable of American citizens. Instead of a helping hand, Republicans - again - are telling all of us to bend over.

They disgust me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Outrage Fatigue?

With work and the fast pace of the news I can't even begin to keep up with all the incompetence and lies of BushCo. in the aftermath of Katrina. Every news story I read about the bungled response from all levels of government, but most especially from the federal level raises my blood pressure. The way the press is largely letting Bush and his cronies off the hook threatens to make my head explode.

Invaluable in keeping me up-to-date and pointing me to some of the good reporting out there, to other blogs and resources is John Aravosis and friends over at AmericaBlog. I can't recommend their blog enough.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Speaking Truth

I've been amazed at the number of times I've heard reporters asking some hard questions and not accepting the pat answers of those in power. It's not as often as it really should be, and some - most notably Michael Chertoff - have gotten away with the most blatant of lies. But perhaps the press is finding its voice; finding their collective cojones. Perhaps.

But more than even the press, I've been impressed with Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans. I don't know much else that the man has done prior to the disaster that's destroyed his city, but I know that he has been singularly disinclined to take any bullshit answers from other politicians when it comes to the rescue/relief efforts. From local and state officials all the way up to our so-called president, he's held no punches.

When Pelley suggests that bureaucracy might be the cause of the confusion, Nagin replies bluntly, "Bull-crap. When people are dying, bureaucracy should be thrown out of the water."

Asked if he thought people died because of the delays, Nagin says, "There is no doubt about it. I watched a guy jump from the Superdome yesterday, just couldn't take it anymore. We have two police officers that have committed suicide. They couldn't take it anymore. This is, this is hell. And to have this happen in the United States of America in the state of Louisiana, and to not have immediate, immediate response regardless of the laws, is tragic."
Nagin is someone to keep an eye on.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Impeach Bush Now!

I was going to write that Bush must fire Michael Chertoff for his incompetence and the constant stream of bald-faced lies he's been spouting on national TV for days.

But the whole crew must be held accountable.

Read the details of how BushCo. is making this disaster much worse than it ever had to be at AmericaBlog. But beware, your blood pressure will skyrocket...

Impeachment proceedings need to start now.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I'm off to give blood this afternoon. After I look through my checkbook hopefully I'll have something in there to give as well.

Give. Give 'till it hurts:

Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Quagmire Part 2?

Seems that BushCo. just doesn't know how to respond to situations that require a military response. They didn't send enough troops or equipment to do the job they started in Iraq; now they've done the same thing in New Orleans. Had Shrubby boy cut short his vacation by just a couple of more days, he could have had emergency responders and more National Guard standing buy to help out the Gulf Coast. Instead he went to a couple of fund raisers and kept trying to sell his dead-in-the-water Social Security reform.

Now the streets of the Big Easy are nearly as dangerous as those in Baghdad - minus the suicide bombers - for now.

Last night the evacuation of the refugees from the Super Dome was suspended because some of the roving gangs of armed thugs who've been looting the city decided it would be fun to take pot-shots at the Chinook helicopters taking them out and to carjack the busses they were riding in. It's only today that armored National Guardsmen are making their way into the city. An inexcusable delay.

But we couldn't have Bush's vacation shortened by too much, now could we?

Post Script: In situations like this, police and National Guardsmen should only be required to issue one verbal warning to looters, carjackers and other armed, lawless thugs. Then they should be able to shoot them in the street like the animals they are.