Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Think FEMA's doing well after Rita? Think again

County Judge Carl Griffith said today he has become so frustrated with the federal relief effort that he has instructed all local officials to use police force if they have to to take supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If you have enough policemen to take it from them, take it," Griffith said.


And of course, the highly reported refueling failure on the main highways out of Houston.

Just so you're also aware, and I won't show it because it is just too damn disturbing, a photo is circulating on the Internet(s) of a man who apparently tried to escape over his fence during Katrina. He is still there, hanging by his waist over said fence, as of September 20.

But you know, the ink is dry on all the high-dollar reconstruction contracts.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Poet Sharon Olds' letter to Laura Bush

Poet Sharon Olds was invited to speak at the National Book Festival in Washington, which takes place September 24. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their works.

Here is the response she sent to the White House, in part. It's as eloquent as any poem:

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rest in Peace, Edgar Hollingsworth

The tragedy of New Orleans continues to unfold, and with it, ceaseless outrage:

Edgar Hollingsworth, an Army veteran of the Korean War, died Saturday at a New Orleans area hospital, Air Force Capt. Brenda Hendrickson of the California National Guard told The Associated Press by phone from Louisiana. He had been found four days earlier buried under a pile of rubble.

Hollingsworth is scheduled to be buried at 2 p.m. Tuesday with military honors at the Port Hudson National Cemetery, 10 miles north of Baton Rouge.

At the request of his wife, Lillian, military personnel and other authorities who helped rescue him will serve as pallbearers, along with his son, Wesley, the California National Guard said in a statement.
-- Associated Press

So, who was Edgar Hollingsworth? A New Orleans resident removed from his home 17 days after Hurricane Katrina hit. Unspeakable tragedy, but what can you do, right?


Edgar Hollingsworth, in his early 70's, was found by a National Guard member who BROKE THE RULES OF FEMA AND REFUSED TO SIMPLY KNOCK ON DOORS LOOKING FOR SURVIVORS.

Instead, he did what common sense dictates; he broke down the door and looked inside. There he found Mr. Hollingsworth, clinging to life:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had issued orders to rescue workers not to enter Katrina-ravaged homes unless they heard the cries of survivors. However, a National Guard team disobeyed orders after seeing Hollingsworth's foot protruding from the rubble of a home.

The guard team bashed open the door and found Hollingsworth unconscious and emaciated. Rescue workers immediately gave him saline solution through an IV and rushed him to a local hospital.

How many Edgar Hollingsworths are scattered throughout the homes in New Orleans? In Biloxi? In Mobile?

How many more people has FEMA's disasterous, incompetent and downright stupid policies killed since the media has been forced to stand-down, despite a federal court order allowing them to witness search and recovery missions?

Of course, you have the option of not caring.

Go to www.freerepublic.com and read their comments on survivors. Should help you sleep better at night, processing death in the most myopic and stereotypic terms, denigrating them in any one of the following tried and true ways, quoted from Free Republic's "caring" citizens:

Gee, what part of MANDITORY(sic) EVACUATION didn't you understand?"

"If they were capable of self-government, they wouldn't have been poor in the first place."

11 posted on 09/07/2005 10:21:53 PM PDT by Hong Kong Expat

"Because those elderly people raised thugs and condoned the thug-culture and would still rather condone it than promote individual responsibility."

9 posted on 09/03/2005 4:24:31 PM PDT by Naspino (Not creative enough to have a tagline.)

"NOLA your dead now lie down STFU and put a stake thru your whoring slaving trading heart.

VOO DOO ain't going to save you now."

138 posted on 09/03/2005 5:10:48 PM PDT by dts32041

If that's not enough, visit the website where you can find hundreds, perhaps thousands, just as distasteful and heinous. Unlike the bad smell in New Orleans, the stench that emanates from that Internet pond of scum will never erode.

These people represent Bush's political base. Scary, but true.

And they can overlook inconvenient deaths like that of Mr. Hollingsworth by simply referring to anyone who died as 'welfare cases' and through the implication that these people were somehow not worthy of living.

Ironically, they are the very same people who scream endlessly about "supporting our troops." Clearly, said support is an abstract concept, given that many of our elderly veterans were amongst those trapped in New Orleans, including Mr. Hollingsworth.

But I will make no such abstract claim. Instead, I will ask, and if that doesn't work, beg: support our human beings.

Support people like Edgar Hollingsworth over rich, uncaring, fundamentally crooked Washington power brokers who use our tax money for their own pet projects and treat the Treasury as a place to be looted, come Hell or highwater.

May you rest in peace, Edgar Hollingsworth - you and every other human being who died needlessly in the wake of the storm.

You are a testament to our eternal shame, a shame that cannot be ameliorated by pretending we are somehow more than you, or will receive better treatment when placed in your shoes.

You are our grandfather, our father, our "troops" --- and having given more to your country than you received, you deserved so much better than you got.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Overheard and underreported

Stuff that mightn't have made your personal radar until now, but definitely keepers:

""Between 2001 and 2004, 4.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty while the upper 2% of the the country’s richest became 55% wealthier. So, say what you will about Bush’s policies. They’re working." (12.7 percent of America lives in poverty now, btw)

"The good news is, closed circuit videos in and around New Orleans have allowed us to identify the looters: Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil."

"Senator Rick Santorum thinks there should be tougher penalties on people who decide to ride Hurricanes out. I guess he means worse than drowning."


From national treasure Kurt Vonnegut, who happens to be nearly as old as my dad. In fact, they'd be twins if dad had graduated high school and wrote down some of his more snarky thoughts:

Kurt Vonnegut's List


* Give us this day our daily bread.

Oh sure.

* Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Nobody better trespass against me. I'll tell you that.

* Blessed are the meek.

* Blessed are the merciful.

You mean we can't use torture?

* Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jane Fonda?

* Love your enemies


* Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

The hell I can't! Look at the Reverand Pat Robertson. And He is as happy as a pig in s**t.

Just a little levity for a nasty grey day. I got my first dirty look today, brought about by this:

All profits from this and other stickers go to Katrina victims.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Congratulations Jon Stewart and TDS - Two Emmys!

"I just can't thank you enough for telling me about The Daily Show," my cousin Linda said a few weeks ago at a family graduation.

She'd written the same thing last year when I first suggested she watch, but I mistakenly thought it was only her way of being polite.

Not so.

"I watch it three times a day, now that I'm retired. And I love Lewis Black," she whispered conspiratorially.

Older and very professional, at first glance she didn't seem a good fit for The Daily Show's brand of ribald, biting humor. I was wrong. Like so many of us, she really did get hooked on Jon Stewart's nightly offering of "satire" --- a show that has more truth-telling and honesty than any network or cable news dare offer in the age of Corporate Media.

It's no longer the best little show than could, and did, every day.

Again last night, Jon Stewart and TDS won two Emmys -- best variety, comedy and best writing. While they richly deserve accolades (my teenager thinks they should get all available comedy awards and just skip nominating anyone else), it's a shame they're considered a 'variety or comedy series.'

What they are is the most refreshing, take no prisoners truth tellers on television.

So, Linda, you're welcome. Sometimes it seems that laughter is all we have left, and nobody does it better than the sexy, astute, intelligent Mr. Stewart. For anyone who hasn't caught this Comedy Central gem -- if that's possible -- I apologize if you get hooked solid.

It's just that good.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I'm not working....but then again, neither is our country

While taking a break and reading a forum, someone just asked me what I would do if I were George Bush, adding that this latest White House PR blitz is exactly what would happen in any other administration. Perhaps, but I would hope not. Another person told me that "this will fall off our radar."

Again perhaps, but I would hope not.

So, what would I be doing if I were George Bush? It took awhile to put into words what my thoughts are on the subject. And weirdly enough, it made me really, really sad.

Overcome with guilt and shame, I would likely bite the bullet. Literally.

To have sat idly by when I had the power to affect and expedite relief to people dehydrating and dying on the streets is not how I was raised. Hopefully, that applies to many of us.

But what will we have given of ourselves, of our souls, if we allow PR and prettied-up speeches to placate? If we simply shudder once or twice, believe it won't happen again, pretend that our government simply "made a mistake" and forget?

For anyone with the slightest introspection and decent morals, forgetting what happened following the New Orleans flood means giving up a chunk of our own humanity.

Of course, for George Bush, that won't be an issue, but for regular Americans, it should be.

His words last night were as hollow as those he spoke that Wednesday as New Orleans drowned about help being "on the way." His plummeting poll numbers are the only thing that moves him with any urgency. He is not a leader, nor a decent human being.

And I refuse to allow some craptastic Cecil B. DeMille backdrop and a bunch of his meaningless promises make me forget reality:

When we needed him, he was nowhere to be found.

Now he's asking us to choose between honoring the souls of people whose only failure was being poor, infirm and helpless and supporting him.

I made my choice those first few days of September. He can go to Hell where he belongs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Kiss your butt goodbye...thanks Republican Congress members

Don't forget this betrayal, ever. There will be no independent commission on what went so horridly wrong after Katrina. Apparently, it simply doesn't matter to our Republican-led Congress. I have, in the past, supported George Voinovich. Voted for him every time I could. NEVER AGAIN. Our Congress doesn't care what went wrong in NOLA, or about trying to fix things to see that people don't needlessly die after the next disaster or terror attack.

In case you don't remember, these are the same people who commissioned an independent investigation into STEROIDS IN BASEBALL.

In fact, after seeing that all Republicans voted NO, and all Democrats voted yes on an independent investigation into the Katrina failure, I will never vote for another Republican again, including Voinovich.

Senate kills bid for Katrina commission
9/14/2005, 2:36 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.


And the Republican comment was not a slam. Here's the actual voting record on the issue -- All Republicans voted NO, with the exception of Louisiana's Vitter. All Democrats voted Yes.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 1st Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On the Motion (Motion To Suspend Paragraph 4, Rule XVI RE: Clinton Amdt. NO. 1660 )
Vote Number: 229 Vote Date: September 14, 2005, 01:06 PM
Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Motion Rejected
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 1660 to H.R. 2862 (Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 )

Statement of Purpose: To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region of the United States especially in the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future.
Vote Counts: YEAs 44
NAYs 54
Not Voting 2

Grouped By Vote Position

YEAs ---44
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Clinton (D-NY)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dayton (D-MN)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---54

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Burr (R-NC)
Chafee (R-RI)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thune (R-SD)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

Not Voting - 2
Corzine (D-NJ)
Vitter (R-LA)

Yesterday, Rep. John Conyers posted the results of the non-partisan Congressional report on whether or legal issues surrounding Katrina:

"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."

In addition to finding that "...it would appear that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. (p.11)" The report found that:

# All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

# The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "[e]xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";

# The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to [applicable Federal statute]" and "Governor Blanco's August 27, 2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that `the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

For the full report:


From the mouths of babes

En route to school this morning, my sixth-grader was singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and suddenly sang:

Land where the people died,
Where they just sat and fried,
And the President tried to hide...

This isn't right.

I wouldn't have even heard her if her sister hadn't spun around in the front seat and done a double take. At least they both have good bs detectors. Hopefully no matter what kind of mess this country becomes after I'm gone, that kind of radar will help them survive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Honesty check: what came first, the tears or the spin?

Perhaps the hardest part of everything in New Orleans, for all Americans but most certainly for those directly affected, is explaining to our children what they witnessed.

Built without a spin cycle, born without cynicism or even the most rudimentary of political moorings, children simply see and instinctively comprehend (and share) pain.

They're luckier for it, in many ways - but pain takes a greater toll on those who cannot fabricate, rationalize and willfully ignore what doesn't "sit well" with their political views.

It's patentedly absurd to equate legitimate horror and criticism with partisanship.

Before all of us knew what the words Republican or Democrat meant, we knew the meaning of "human suffering."

From early childhood, humans recognize pain and suffering in themselves and others.

Since they were small, without prompting or expectation, my kids have always offered a hug and wiped away my tears when needed. Just as I have and will always do for them.

They did not say, "Mommy, are you really hurt, or are you just using partisan posturing?"

So, what came first - genuine pain and anger borne of horror, or political sniping? If you really need to ask, we're in far worse shape than even I realized.

For years, many so-called liberals have been sneered at as "bleeding hearts." Perhaps that's apt, to some degree. In my case it certainly applies. The name's worn proudly, for that matter. So why should it shock anyone to see how sad and angry this has made many of us, regardless of political bent?

It's precisely because people care that many, including me, are angry and horrified.

The right-wing spin machine counts on translating pain and horror into partisanship. Don't let them. This goes way deeper than R or D, left or right. It's our collective humanity at stake. Are we really willing to even consider spinmeisters trying to tell us that the federal government is "not responsible" for protecting the general welfare of its people? That "beaurocracy" is more responsible than human beings? That somehow it's okay for our fellow citizens to die because they "foolishly" stayed behind? Or worse, that you're a traitor for being upset and angry over needless death?

To even have to ask these questions is staggering.

Children don't need to consider such things; watching my own kids as events unfolded in New Orleans, I heard them say, "Why are there people dying, mom?" Where is the government?" Hell, even Shepard Smith of Fox News asked the very same question, rightly so, and he's an adult.

It's instinctual to want to help when witnessing others' suffering, and thank God for that. Even dogs try to comfort their owners.

What's being asked of us now is to be less than a child, less than a dog.

To rationalize away the unneccessary pain of our fellow citizens, to apportion accountability not to federal government officials that swore to protect us, but to victims themselves. As if they brought on our collective shame and misery by being miserable. As if they are inconvenient, or somehow lesser than we.

My kids don't buy it. They're neither Democrats nor Republicans and they simply don't buy it. Neither should anyone else who considers his or herself a human being.

For now, a few words worthy of consideration:

They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!' ~Ruby in Cold Mountain

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. ~Mother Theresa

With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?

Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake. ~Michael Moore

Monday, September 12, 2005

When the Federal Government is ruled by Pharisees

An old story -- updated with apologies to the atheists and agnostics. Also, a hat tip to DKOS, where someone else first posted this:

Once upon a time, in a hemisphere not so far away, the wind blew and blew and blew. When it reached land, the wind caused great havoc and flooding. The people ran to their attics and their astrodomes, knowing that FEMA would set into motion the mechanism for rescue. But FEMA said, "Trust in God for God will provide."

The message did not reach the Red Cross because they mobilised their volunteers to collect food and water for those who were trapped by the flood waters. But FEMA turned them back, saying, "Trust in God for God will provide."

The message did not reach the neighbours of the surrounding areas because they mobilised their 500-boat flotilla to deliver aid. But FEMA said, "Go home. You aren't needed. We've put our trust in God for God will provide."

The message did not reach even the corporations because Wal-Mart mobilised to send supply trucks filled with basic necessities. But FEMA said, "God will provide."

The message did not reach Amtrak because they offered to help evacuate those trapped by the flood waters. But FEMA said, "We know God will provide."

The message did not reach Chicago because that city, one among many others, was prepared to send hundreds of personnel, including firefighters and police, and dozens of vehicles to assist on the storm-battered Gulf Coast. But FEMA said, "One tanker truck only. We're trusting in God to send the rest."

The message did not reach the firefighters from around the US because, trained as they were to handle disasters, they descended on the disaster area to offer what help they could. But FEMA said, "We need you in Atlanta to do paperwork. We're trusting in God to help with the rest."


The message did not reach the morticians who tired of seeing the dead lying bloated on the ground or in a wheelchair covered in a blanket tried to get to New Orleans. But FEMA said, "Thanks but no thanks. We're trusting in God."

And those people who were in their attics and in their astrodomes cried out in hunger and thirst and despair, "Where is this God you tell us will rescue us?" And Condoleeza Rice answered, ""The Lord is going to come on time. If we just wait."

And with that, there was a roar from the heavens:


Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Orleans - please hold

As information continues to unfold, this will be updated. Please refer back. This morning on NPR Ira Glass stated that upon the President's declaration of a State of Emergency on August 27, the federal government had all the authorization they needed to proceed, according to nearly every expert questioned on NPR over the previous two weeks.

According to "The Moderate Voice" website, a moderate Republican site, the Feds had 72 hours to bring supplies and relief. That would have meant Tuesday, August 30th p.m. or Wednesday August 31 a.m.

I do not absolve any state or local official of their responsibility for this horrific event. All responsible parties need to go, regardless of party affiliation.


Friday, August 26


GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]

Saturday, August 27



***GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” [Office of the Governor]

FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House]

Sunday, August 28



MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]

9:30 AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES FIRST EVER MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS: “We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event.” [Times-Picayune]

4PM CDT – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service]

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’” [Times-Picayune; St. Petersburg Times]

LATE PM – REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune]


Monday, August 29


8AM CDT – MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]


10:30AM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]

LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]

4PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

Tuesday, August 30


MIDDAY – CHERTOFF FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” [Meet the Press, 9/4/05]

PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: “Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.” [WWL-TV]

MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]

U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]



Wednesday, August 31

TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: “A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. ‘We pee on the floor. We are like animals,’ said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming.”" [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]

PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [New York Times, 8/31/05]

JEFFERSON PARISH EMERGENCY DIRECTOR SAYS FOOD AND WATER SUPPLY GONE: “Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed.” [WWL-TV]

80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]

3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: “With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one’s priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions.” [Times-Picayune]

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR ENTIRE GULF COAST: “After a natural disaster, short and long-term medical problems can occur. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and mosquito-borne illnesses tend to break out under these conditions.” [WCBS-TV]

4PM CDT — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: “Nothing about the president’s demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.” [New York Times]

7PM CDT – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]

8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]

Thursday, September 1

7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]

STILL NO COMMAND AND CONTROL ESTABLISHED: Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Homeland Security Director: “This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.” [Fox News]

2PM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES “DESPERATE SOS” TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: “This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don’t anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies.” [Guardian, 9/2/05]

2PM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN CLAIMS NOT TO HAVE HEARD OF REPORTS OF VIOLENCE: “I’ve had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I’ve had no reports of that.” [CNN]

NEW ORLEANS “DESCEND[S] INTO ANARCHY”: “Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. ‘This is a desperate SOS,’ the mayor said.” [AP]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]

MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY LEARNS OF EVACUEES IN CONVENTION CENTER: “We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.” [CNN]

Friday, September 2

ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]

9:35AM CDT — BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” [White House, 9/2/05]

10 AM CDT — PRESIDENT BUSH STAGES PHOTO-OP “BRIEFING”: Coast Guard helicopters and crew diverted to act as backdrop for President Bush’s photo-op.

BUSH VISIT GROUNDS FOOD AID: “Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.” [Times-Picayune]

LEVEE REPAIR WORK ORCHESTRATED FOR PRESIDENT’S VISIT: Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9/3: “Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.” [Sen. Mary Landrieu]

BUSH USES 50 FIREFIGHTERS AS PROPS IN DISASTER AREA PHOTO-OP: A group of 1,000 firefighters convened in Atlanta to volunteer with the Katrina relief efforts. Of those, “a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew’s first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.” [Salt Lake Tribune; Reuters]

12PM CDT — BUSH “SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE”: “I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results.” [AP]

Saturday, September 3

SENIOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL LIES TO WASHINGTON POST, CLAIMS GOV. BLANCO NEVER DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY: The Post reported in their Sunday edition “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” They were forced to issue a correction hours later. [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

9AM CDT — BUSH BLAMES STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS: “[T]he magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need.” [White House, 9/3/05]

All rights and reservations belong to Think Progress. For hotlinks to specific news stories mentioned:


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Yes, Virginia. It is political.

Okay, I'm suitably restrained. Angry, upset, but subdued in comparison to last week, and the week before.

Yet there exists something bubbling under the surface, something churning that's not only coming from what's overheard in DC but in smaller quarters. On right-wing talk radio, they prove it. Amongst friends (unfortunately, even some of my own) there's even a bit of underlying racism, though far less insidious and obvious than what's coming from inside the Beltway.

"Everyone's politicizing it," says a friend of mine.

That's because it is political.

Much of what happened, and what we witnessed happen in the aftermath of the storm is a direct result of our political choices in this country. It's our values, our beliefs, our chosen direction writ large that exacerbated and underscores both the hurricane and its aftermath.

I submit to you, as distasteful as the remarks have become, despite the fact they leave me feeling as though someone slapped me or called my mother a prostitute, the aftermath of Katrina was not about race or class.

But it is about politics.

That's right, Kanye. Not about race or class. After all, to Bush and his inner sanctum, we're all lower class and disposable. There's nothing disequal about it.

What it's done has spark the question of race and class, and in the process, expose a great deal of our own deep-rooted biases, sometimes consciously and sometimes not. The actual event, however, wasn't about class and race.

Unfortunately, there exists the belief, according to polls, that it was about that to many blacks. I'd bet most elderly and poor feel similarly afraid and singled-out for neglect at the hands of those whose job it is to save and protect them. That perspective is what we need to worry about and fix; otherwise, we run the risk of becoming more fragmented and angry as a populace.

What then, if not race and class concerns, is the primary lesson to be found in the aftermath of Katrina? Setting aside all obvious grave security concerns for a moment, I believe this:

The white-hot laser of Katrina's aftermath centers around the meaning of strength as a nation, and the direction in which we should be heading.

Is a country strong because it can wage somewhat successful wars on other, smaller countries? Is success measured by carnage, smart bombs, exporting "democracy?" If so, at what price? Does smaller government really translate to more effective government, and, if so, why is the current government bloated beyond belief?

These are the fundamental foundations of what passes for Republicanism these days, and the post-Katrina horror highlights what it costs to be a 'guns or butter' society. Not without irony, we're learning that personal responsibility only goes so far - and that many in power who claim to believe in it do not extend the refrain to themselves when they totally fail.

On the opposite side of matters, is a country's strength measured by strong education, infrastructure, and the majority of citizens having the financial means to remove themselves from impending danger? By how it treats the least of its citizens, rather than the wealthiest? Is all butter, no guns a better way to ensuring America's success both now and in the future? Does the creation of a society with the largest demographic being middle class actually make for a stronger country, overall?

Take a look at the tax code and prosperity under FDR and later Eisenhower and then get back to me on that last one.

Though in the 'terror age,' I suppose the question assumes more validity than it once did.

To my eyes, it's far less clear than it once was - but Katrina's aftermath again suggests that to focus on the fomer while completely disregarding the latter cripples rather than strengthens.

We're shortchanging ourselves with a focus predominantly on military strength to the deteriment of all else.

Part of the failure in New Orleans last week has everything in the world to do with reduced capacity in city first responders and state resources.

In a chorus heard around the country, firefighters and police have long bemoaned a lack of equipment and manpower in larger urban areas. Nobody listened.

States are cut to the bone, financially, impacting everything from roadworks projects to basic education. To compensate, they're forced to put the burden on citizens. We, in turn, complain about filling the state coffers and wonder why "nothing gets done." Nobody gets it.

Forgive the poor metaphor, but government is much like the human body and the Federal Government is obviously akin to the head and brain (except not so much anymore, clearly). One cannot live without it being connected to the rest. If the head and brain focus on duties other than caring for what goes into the rest of the body, or what happens to anything below the neck, the result is obvious neglect.

When our government -- remember, ours -- spends more time and resources on a war than they do on their own country, states and then cities and then people cease to function properly. In that order.

Trickle down government at work.

What we've got now is a lack of connection, witnessed in myriad ways. Four days of inaction when people are dying on American television.


A direct, massive government PR campaign moving faster than federal relief efforts.


A former first lady saying that victims are "better off" in a shelter than they were before losing their homes and often family members.


A President that still has not figured out "what went wrong" if anything, in New Orleans.


A First Lady who calls the hurricane "Corrina" rather than "Katrina" - twice.


A Vice President who, when told to "Go BLEEP himself" on live television due to victims feeling left behind by their so-called leaders, somehow connects the words of Dr. Ben A. Marble with John Kerry -- last year's news.

Disconnect. And it goes on and on and on.

We're shortchanging our safety and security by dumping all our resources into war. It's indeniable. If half the money and resources we spend went back into critical infrastructure, education and the citizens of our own country, much of what we saw on the news last week would not have happened as it did.

Regrettably, the money and lives spent in Iraq are not going to help us respond to a terrorist attack. But enough first responders, state resources and a populace with decent employment and the ability to evacuate, even after an emergency, will go far to alleviate the aftermath of disaster.

Our responses, both their expediency and what's expressed by us collectively after a disaster, are the face of America. It's both frightening and painful to see what has become of us, except for the regular people who have jumped-in to give everything they can in relief and support. Why we cannot be that giving, empathetic and kind in times of non-crisis is something I do not understand. Don't want to, either. It's much easier and less costly to adequately prepare for disaster than it is to clean-up afterwards.

But to do it, we've got to ask ourselves the question: What America do we really want -- the war waging, militarily strong country, or the country with policies that are tuned-in to the needs of a nation, one that is strong at home, first?

Until we realize the true meaning of strength, we'll continue to trickle down as a nation.

(By the way, I've talked with Ben "Go Fuck Yourself, Mr. Cheney" Marble via email. Should anyone wish to help him out after having lost everything in Mobile, AL and just having a new baby, drop me a line and I'll get your email address to him.

And send a little love to Al Gore, who arranged for 271 residents of Charity hospital to be evacuated last Wednesday. He proved that real compassion and leadership are more than lip-service.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The day E.L. Doctorow became Nostradamus

Pelosi, speaking at a news conference, said Brown had "absolutely no credentials" when Bush picked him to run FEMA.

She related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.

"He said, 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.'

"And he said 'What didn't go right?"

"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added

GUESTWORDS: By E.L. Doctorow

The Unfeeling President

September 9, 2004

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the quality of air in coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over he world most of the time.

But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally, the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail. How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

The novelist E.L. Doctorow has a house in Sag Harbor.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Watch the ball...


So, friends, are you paying attention? Do you see the massive disinformation campaign underway? Is it good to see the current administration actually can work fast, when it doesn't involve helping people who are dying?

Are you as sickened as I am, or are there no untapped reserves of revulsion left for this debacle we call our leadership? With every new spin ball they lob at the public, they're trying to get a walk. Don't give it to them.


Because this isn't about whether or not evacuation proceedings went smoothly. In the short focus, it seems that way, but really? It's not. When there's an earthquake, tornado or, God Forbid, another terrorist attack, there will be no time for evacuation -- only rescue and relief efforts headed by FEMA. Yes, that's right. You and your loved ones will be dying in the streets if we don't fix these problems.

Ball number one:

"Do not play the blame game."

In the neverending display of callous mendacity since Hurricane Katrina, this statement takes the prize.

Needless death is not a "game." This is not blame. It's called accountability. Every president before this one understood that when you sit in the big seat, you own the failures as well as the successes. Goes with the territory. You cannot simply take credit for what went right (Rudy Guiliani's response to 9/11 being one of them) and absolve yourself of accountability for what went wrong. None of us is allowed to do that in our jobs; you're not, either.There must be a reckoning.

Alarm and horror at what happened are issues relative to humanity. It's about trust. It's about caring. It's about protecting ourselves. It's about veracity.

The only thing it's not about is politics. But they're going to try and use that charge as a shield. Venal.

Ball Number Two:
"State and local government's preparation was inadequate."

Two things, here:

One, perhaps it was. Of course, that's weird coming from the administration now, given that both FEMA's Michael Brown and President Bush spoke glowingly of Mayor Nagin's evacuation in the immediate aftermath. But assume for a minute that the state and local guys didn't do a good enough job. It's inherent in any natural disaster - which is why Homeland Security came up with the National Response Plan (NRP) in 2004.

The NRP, signed by President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Porter Goss, dictates the following:

(NRP, 7)

At such point a disaster or emergency is declared, according to the NRP, the federal government can and has a duty to supercede protocol when it means preservation of life and assets:


"Federal departments and agencies are EXPECTED to provide:

* initial and/or ongoing response, when warranted, under their own authority and funding;

* alert, notification, pre-positioning and timely delivery of resources;

* proactive support for catastrophic or potentially catastrophic incidents using protocols for expedited delivery of resources. (NRP, 6)

Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources."

Also, troop deployment issues are covered:


"The Secretary of Defense authorizes Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) for domestic incidents as directed by the President or when consistent with military readiness operations and appropriate under the circumstances and the law.

And NRP covers the issue of immediate action:


Imminently serious conditions resulting from any civil emergency may require immediate action to save lives, prevent human suffering, or to mitigate property damage."

Finally, the NRP gives the President a fiduciary duty during said times of crisis:


"The President leads the Nation in responding efficiently and ensuring the necessary resources are applied quickly and effectively to all Incidents of National Significance."
(NRP, 15)

Legally, this clears everything up. But legality is not the primary issue, at this point. That brings us to the second reason we cannot be lulled into allowing only state and local government to bear primary responsibility for this horror.

The second reason is the most important to all of us:

In the event of a terror attack in any state, there's a good possibility that state and local government will be unable to adequately marshall the necessary resources to completely handle the problem. Like a snake eating its tail, that's what brings us back to the Federal Government, the President and FEMA.

The FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT organization has a job. For those who need a hint, look at its name. And it exists for the reasons outlined above.

We will NOT be safe, anywhere in this country, if we do not hold this organization and these people responsible for fixing whatever went so horribly, devastatingly, nightmarishly wrong in New Orleans. Period.

Ball number three

"It is the fault of those citizens for not evacuating."

This one pains me the most. Just thinking about it being currently floated by the administration as a viable reason for people to essentially not give a damn makes me literally spontaneously weep. What exactly do we not get about poverty, or the elderly or mentally and physically handicapped people being unable to evacuate?

Think about it. I would never, ever leave my parents, kids or pets to die, simply because I am "able-bodied" and could get the heck outta Dodge before a tornado hits. I'm betting you wouldn't either. If they could not or would not evacuate, I would be forced to stay with them and attend to their needs. This does not excuse FEMA or the state or local government from attempting to rescue me. Again, what purpose does FEMA serve if not to handle emergency and disaster, including saving lives, as their National Response Plan indicates.

In the average large urban area, there are upwards of 80,000 people or more who, for many reasons, cannot or will not evacuate. This also includes many who stay behind to help rescue others. Trying to demonize them for political expediency should automatically earn someone an eternity in Hell. If said demonizers purport to be Christians while blaming victims, two eternities.

And, again, evacuations, those that stayed behind and their reasons, and garbage about "blame games" do not matter.

They are the various political footballs tossed around by a government that refuses to allow us to believe what our horrified eyes have shown us for over a week on television. It's not that they cannot allow it because they did everything they could, but because they didn't do anything until it was too late for many.

If we, as regular, good-hearted human beings, allow this administration to muddy the waters in order to escape what is their legitimate responsibility, we can expect worse the next time around. And we will not have the luxury of time to consider evacuation.

Also, we will have killed 200 years of precedent, from the time our Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution stating government's job is to promote the general welfare and provide for a common defense.

Neither of these were done after Hurricane Katrina.

If we allow for no accountability of our paid, public servants, why don't we just replace the Federal Government with Fed-Ex? After all, at least they know when something absolutely has to be delivered overnight.

9/11; 8/29

Feel safer?

Monday, September 05, 2005

And like lightning, they moved

Oh, what so many Americans wouldn't have given to use that phrase last Tuesday. "Like lightning, the government zoomed into action...." "With unprecedented speed, the Bush administration secured the safety of America's citizens..."

Sadly, we could not. Today, it's with damning, not praise, I type these words:

"And like lightning, they moved."

Karl Rove and his team, that is.

Horrified, the jumped into fast gear.

Alarmed not by the sights and sounds of a drowning New Orleans or her starving poor, seizing and dying under the burning lights of CNN cameras, nor by the sound of a mayor's voice spinning precariously close to the edge of sanity.

'Twas the poll numbers, the Republican Congress members' phone calls that reflected back at this administration what they could not see with their own eyes nor feel with their own hearts - cataclysmic, unforgivable failure resulting in death.

It took outside interference to make them care - and when they did care, the timing proves it was only about helping their sinking approval ratings, not a city sinking into despair.

If only they were as good at anything - anything - else as they are at screwing up and then spinning it into everyone else's fault.

Silly warm blooded human that I am, it never even crossed my mind that the Bush administration would try to weasel and outright lie their way out of something so awful, so decimating. Surely the guilt and shame would eat at them. Guess again.

Click here to see the spin:


Lest we all forget, and rest assured, the media will try to help us along - Bush was on vacation.

He did not return from his vacation until Wednesday. Monday evening the waters began to rise. Tuesday, Bush was eating cake with John McCain and posing with a 'geetar' for photo-ops. And the waters were nearing 20 feet by then. All of us could see what they could not or would not. Wednesday came the namby-pamby promises press conference. But by Wednesday afternoon, most Americans saw a city in the throes of death. Why didn't he? Or did he just not care. Was it a day of rest after a long, arduous vacation?

And since I've been writing and crying, yelling at the tv, crying and writing, you, my kids, pets and half the neighborhood already know where I'm at. But MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who did not know, is apparently mentally visiting the same place today:

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Open letter to Bush from New Orleans Times-Picayune

A view of the New Orleans disaster from those who saw it firsthand, the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper staff members. Apparently, the lies continued to flow from Bush's and FEMA officials mouths:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

No place like home

Like Dorothy, whose journey began through a tryst with Mother Nature, I've concluded after Hurricane Katrina there really is no place like home.

Not only did the devastation take away the literal homes of perhaps a million citizens, it took away for many unspoken beliefs about our larger home, America.

That's the place where we were told by teachers growing up that as long as we paid our taxes, were good citizens and did as we were supposed to, the Federal Government would do likewise.

We tell the truth; they tell the truth.

We cheerfully accept our responsibilities, they accept theirs.

But we're not in Kansas anymore. Not after the longest week in history.

We're in Oz, where the little man - or in this case, men - behind the curtain cannot help us in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster.

Where we watch babies and old people literally dying in droves on the street, but people who support anything done by that little, little man are now finding it easy to blame people who had next to nothing a week ago, but haven't had anything for a week - including food.

Where public relations supercede the rescue, evacuation and feeding of perhaps tens of thousands of American citizens and it's more important for our elected representatives to have photo ops than food drives.

Where Michael Brown, a man with no experience in disaster management, heads up FEMA and hails their efforts as being excellent -- and a third day goes by of people relieving themselves in clothing covered in toxins, with nothing to eat, unsure if the babies in their arms will live or die.

Where, too late for many and perhaps more still, someone finally steps-up and immediately springs into action. On Saturday. Six days later than they should have.

And where, finally, nobody can explain whose fault it is. Or take accountability. Or even, for God's sake, forget all that and DO SOMETHING. Turns out it's right on the Homeland Security website that they own primary responsibility.
But nobody's talking. About their only real skills? CYA.

At http://americablog.blogspot.com you can see a copy of Homeland Security's website, that states:

"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Deparment of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation."

Luckily it's been cached - since 2003:


I'm tired. Really, really tired. Demoralized by what I've seen this week, certain that yet another corner we've turned down is as dark as any in history and my tiny little flashlight won't help.

There's no place like home. Not anymore.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stop lying to the American public, Mr. President!

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

- President Bush, September 1, 2005

"It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however--the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level--more than eight feet below in places--so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't--yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City."

- National Geographic, October, 2004

And what we're witnessing today? A continued national disgrace.

From sorrow to rage in 24 hours: there must be a reckoning

While Katrina was unavoidable, the horrific situation in New Orleans was NOT.

One was a natural disaster, but the other was unnatural - caused by our greed, poor choices and the continued eroding of America by a government that just doesn't get it.

Or worse, just doesn't give a damn.

Since 2002, according to nearly a DOZEN articles written by New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune, despite growing awareness that a storm of the magnitude of Katrina could compromise the levees, Homeland Security funding earmarked for levee strengthening was diverted to the Iraq War.

Roll that sentence around in your head for a minute. Give it the serious thought it deserves. Then imagine a dry, happy New Orleans, still buoyed by Katrina's marked lack of destruction.

Because that is likely what we'd be seeing, had our ELECTED officials acted correctly.

But, dear reader, don't take my word for it. Read this, by Editor and Publisher, one of the oldest and most respected publications in America:


For the lazy, some excerpts:

"When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars."

So, let's get this straight:

Our government, constantly yammering away about how they keep America secure, saw the potential of an entire city underwater -- a modern day Atlantis, if you will -- and took away the funding necessary to avoid catastrophe?

Jesus Christ.

When is enough really enough?

When will we, as taxpaying citizens of this country, demand responsible, protective, proactive government? So much lip-service, so little action. Dark days, dark years, and
an even darker administration that really doesn't care about anything.

When are these charlatans we call our leaders going to be railroaded out of Washington, DC?

It's really getting to the point where it is us or them. And by their actions, we already KNOW which side they're on. And wannabe patriots better not start screaming from the rafters "not to politicize" this disaster.

By s very nature, the failed promise of our country's decision makers to protect us, it can't help but be a political issue. It's fundamental basic safety and life.

Doesn't get more political than that.

In related news, the only solace can be found here in the Rolling Stones' new cd lyrics. How damned fitting:

Sweet Neo Con

You call yourself a Christian
I think that you're a hypocrite
You say that you're a patriot
I think that you're a crock of shit

Unless I'm out of gasoline
I drink it every day
But it's getting very pricey
And who is going to pay?

How come you're so wrong?
My sweet neo con

It's liberty for all
`Cause democracy's our style
Unless you are against us
Then it's prison without trial

But one thing that is certain
Life is good at Halliburton
If you're really so astute
You should invest in Brown and Root

How come you're so wrong?
My sweet neocon
If you turn out right
I'll eat my hat tonight

Life's getting very scary
Yes, I'm frightened out my wits
There's bombers in my bedroom
Yeah, it's giving me the shits

We must (____) more bases
To protect us from our foes
Who needs these foolish friendships
We're going it alone

How come you're so wrong?
My sweet neocon
Where's the money gone?
In the Pentagon

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