Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist dead 

"WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg." - see: Associated Press


When reality floods the Bubble - a new question bobs in the deluge 

"...when we act, we create our own reality," - "And while you're studying that reality, we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." ~ White House "senior adviser" explaining Bu$hCo modi operandi to Ron Suskind.

Meanwhile; lifelike talking "news" appliance Neal Cavuto creates his own FoxNoise saleable reality despite disturbing evidence to the contrary - via archy

Elsewhere: via CNN, "The big disconnect on New Orleans The official version; then there's the in-the-trenches version"

And it looks like Cindy Sheehan might not be the only one with a question for His Serene Hang Looseness Prince Pompus Acephalous:
"Why is it that the most powerful country on the face of the Earth takes so long to help so many sick and so many elderly people?" he asked.

"Why? That's all I want to ask President Bush." - BBC

Uh oh... another skeery question for the Dear Poser. That should send the White House squirearchy scurrying for the panic rooms.


The Clothes Are Off, Motherfucker 

Damn, this is good. You'll need a cigarette for after.

Help the Anntichrist help Louisiana 

Direct aid ~ Via Bob Geiger at Yellow Dog Blog:
Our sisters at BlondeSense are takin' it to the streets and delivering goods straight to people in Louisiana... And I don't mean sending money -- Joanna (Anntichrist S Coulter) of BlondeSense blog has been shopping for supplies and delivering them to shelters in Baton Rouge which are severely running out of supplies. She also plans to get to New Orleans by Monday to work with Habitat for Humanity and deliver more supplies personally to various shelters. [more details, read full post HERE]

Go see Joannie in Looziani (Anntichrist S Coulter) at BlondeSense
New Orleans, as I've said, will always be my home, no matter where I lay my head. St. Bernard Projects, the 8th Ward, the 9th Ward, Irish Channel, Broadmoor... I've lived in all of those neighborhoods and more,...


We We Only Kidding, Folks 

tantalus1-3124 Dangle an apple in front of a starving man, and then snatch it away:
"Buses taking Hurricane Katrina victims far from the squalor of the Superdome stopped rolling early Saturday. As many as 5,000 people remained in the stadium and could be there until Sunday, according to the Texas Air National Guard..."We were rolling," Capt. Jean Clark said. "If the buses had kept coming, we would have this whole place cleaned out already or pretty close to it."
In the meantime, medical staff has been evacuated out of the Superdome, and the place looks like a landfill hit by a tornado. People are saying they have to find boxes to go in when they need to relieve themselves. No one knew why the buses stopped coming, but if the following tidbit is any clue, we can guess, rightly or wrongly, what might be going on:
"At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line — much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.
"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.
The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, near the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome."
In the meantime, fires are raging along the waterfront amidst a city flooded with toxic and flammable substances, and the hydrants are dry. The people still trapped there are being imprisoned by the authorities, who couldn't be bothered to communicate meaningfully with them up till now, except to make sure they knew they couldn't leave town by walking out.

Maybe he didn't care enough to shore up the levees in NOLA, but Bush certainly pays attention when it's time to stick a finger in the dike and stem a flood of negative opinion. Bush has held fewer press conferences than any other president, and yet:
"Hoping to turn the tide of opinion in his favor, Bush spoke four times publicly on Friday."
That would be because in his prideful, control-freak way, he has been rejecting or deflecting aid offers left and right, and when the whole world heard him say (4 days after the hurricane hit):
"I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it. You know we would love help, but we're going to take care of our own business as well, and there's no doubt in my mind we'll succeed."
they heard him say, "Thanks but no thanks"---something on a par with his "Bring 'em on!" routine. So it's hard work, you know, putting out all those PR fires (evidently harder than putting out fires in NOLA). Gotta get up there, face the music, shuck and jive and look pained and hope somebody buys the routine.

To which the mayor most eloquently responded:
"I don’t want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can’t even count.
"Don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They’re not here. It’s too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let’s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."
But make sure the rich and the white get first dibs.

Piratization of Emergency Management 

Stuck at home by the gas prices over a long weekend? Want to do a little Citizen Journamalising?

Go here: Lenin's Tomb.

No, I am not suggesting a quick vacation to Moscow. This site, evidently run by a Brit, has got a spectacular catch on something I haven't seen anywhere else (other than the Atrios comment thread where alert citizen Pooleside provided this link.)

It seems that a Baton Rouge company called IEM Inc. got a half-million dollar FEMA contract to devise and run the emergency services plan for a catastrophic hurricane striking New Orleans. I think it is may not be entirely premature to to say this idea may have had some shortcomings.

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of discovery! Lenin's Tomb has the links to the press releases. From there google your little hearts out. Track the names of management and find their ties to the Bush/Cheney '00 and '04 campaigns, because as we've clearly seen that's how the regime judges one's qualifications for contracts like this.

And since a half a mil seems just a tad inadequate for even a plan for a response to a disaster on this scale, see what other siphons they may have had dipped in the gummint money pool. Tentacles everywhere, me hearties...

(Yeah, I'm gonna be working on this too, but I have other projects running concurrently and can't give it full time for awhile. And this needs speed before all the links suddenly go all 404 on us.)

The Sad State of the Righty Blogosphere 

It's interesting...I can remember a time when these folks actually talked with people in the left blogosphere -- not block their readers. Believe it or not, I used to occasionally have contact with Jane Galt and Clayton Cramer.

But when their pet war turned out to be a disaster based on lies they had peddled, they stopped talking to us at all. I noticed all my conservative readers vanished from my other blog in the summer of 2003 as Iraq slid into chaos and it became obvious that liberals were right about everything regarding the war.

And things haven't gotten better for them since then. Now their president is on schedule to be less popular than Herbert Hoover and the verdict of history is going to be harsh. The big question raised by historians in the future is going to be "How did this turkey get a second term?"

I suspect watching their president completely bungle and screw up a disaster to the tune of letting thousands die is just more than they can handle. It's the last indignity for them. So look for them to come up with the lamest weirdest arguments ("the poor people in New Orleans had cars!") to try and exonerate their president and clear their own guilty consciences.

But they know the truth -- even if they won't admit it.

Are You Happy Now? 

Thanks to Kos community member highacidity, via eRobin:


Friday, September 02, 2005

Do These People Live On My Planet? 

From the weblog of the objectivistly-named Jane Galt, here is the worst of American reaction to the New Orleans disaster in a nutshell. Below find samplings of statements that reveal a seemingly bottomless capacity for churlish, selfish, callous, racist cruelty by self-congratulatory blog barnacles who coolly watch the NOLA tragedy play out from the comforts of their dry, food-filled, proudly right-wing homes. I believe many of them may fancy themselves a tad intellectual, and hard-nosedly so. The poverty of their arguments demonstrates otherwise. And as none of them lay claim to any sort of humanitarian compassion, you won't be surprised to find it absent here. Hold on to your lunch:


“…it is more tragic when someone dies because they have nowhere to go, than when only their own bullheaded stupidity is to blame.”

As Clayton Cramer points out: the average poor American owns a car.

Poverty likely prevented some people in New Orleans from evacuating, but the majority of people still there CHOSE to be there.

In the US, the vast majority of people who are poor are poor because they CHOOSE to be poor. I recall a Cato or Heritage paper showing that something like 75% of all people living below the poverty line would be lifted above it if they just worked 40 hours a week on average.”

“What I can't understand is why they couldn't be bothered to take the bus or just walk over to the Superdome, where there was an organized attempt to help them out. They had 48 hours to gather up what they could carry and move to a shelter.

And how could anyone in New Orleans fail to grasp the problem so completely that they didn't even bother to stockpile a couple day's worth of drinking water? I couldn't believe it when I saw victim after victim going by on TV saying, "we haven't had anything to drink since the storm hit".

“But what if there really IS a correlation between race and a tendency to amoral, selfish, violent behavior? Wouldn't it be suicidal to ignore it just because it is unpleasant that life might actually be ordered that way?

I just feel sorry for any white people left in that city. I saw video of some white tourists walking aimlessly, dragging their suitcases behind them, looking for help. They said they hadn't seen any police. What a nightmare...white people abandoned in a lawless city full of black people with no police in sight, and no firearms to protect themselves. You can talk all you want about how awful it is to be a racist, but they are the ones who are finding out firsthand the brutal realities of race in this country.”

“Compassion for the victims of this disaster is all well and good but sooner or latter we are going to need to address the moral hazard we create by federalizing disaster relief.”

I see no moral, pragmatic, or constitutional argument to justify 99.9% of the social programs created in the 20th century, and I would repeal them with a snap of my fingers if I could.”

“It seems to me that the poor should have had the EASIEST time leaving. They don't need to pay for an extended leave from their home, they could have just packed a few belongings and walked away to start over somewhere else. What did they have to lose?

When the wealthy evacuate, they leave behind nice houses, expensive cars, possibly pets that they treat as members of the family, valuable jewelry, family heirlooms, etc. This makes it emotionally difficult for wealthy people to leave. But by definition, the poor do not have this burden: they either rent their homes, or they are in public housing; their cars are practically junk anyway; and they don't have any valuable possessions. This is what it means to be poor. These people could just pick up their few belongings, buy a one-way bus ticket to any city and be poor there. Supposing they even had jobs in NO, it's not like minimum wage jobs are hard to come by.”

If you've managed to keep your gorge down up to this point, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din. Notice how frequently they couch immoral concepts in language using the word "moral"? Their master's voice. And of course, that cozy "This is what it means to be poor", coming from someone who probably never went hungry a day in his life. I don't know where these people live, but it's not in my America.

Originally posted at IMCT.


And where are those evangelical churches through all this horror in Louisiana? Where are all those bastards who are so eager to jump on their white horses for all the little 8-celled eggs and the Terri Schiavos? What do they think about REAL human suffering? Has anyone heard anything from them, other than that this was God's retribution for the sins of the city? Anything of comfort, of substance, in a public forum?

And where's that damned fabulous new Pope everyone was creaming their jeans over? What, he can't jump on a plane and make an appearance, shame the president into some action, comfort the people of one of the most Catholic cities in the world, grease the wheels of the relief system a little and say a blessing or two? What the hell is the point of having him around?

UPDATE: Now this is exactly what I'm talking about (via Atrios)---
"Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.
The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says.
Believers, he says, are God's "authorized representatives on the face of the Earth" and should say they "don't want unrighteous men in office," for example. In addition, he says Christians should not hesitate to voice their opinions about such things as abortion, prayer, and homosexual marriage. "We don't want a Supreme Court that is going to say it's all right to kill little boys and girls, ... it's all right to take prayer out of schools, and it's all right to legalize sodomy, opening the door for same-sex marriage and all of that.”"
"don't want unrighteous men in office"? Hahahahahahahah!!! I'm in hell.

Elections Have Consequences 

As I discovered yesterday in one of my classes, a number of folks in this country don't realize that the Hurricane Katrina disaster is WORSE than 9/11. There likely was much more property damage (by a longshot) than on 9/11 and, unfortunately, I suspect this disaster very well may have cost more lives than the number who perished on 9/11.

The worst part of it is that this disaster was genuinely preventable. If the administration had simply followed the blueprint of levee improvements proposed by the Corps of Engineers, the disaster might not have happened or at least wouldn't have been as bad. If they had followed James Lee Witt's FEMA disaster plan for a hurricane strike on New Orleans, the government would've at least been able to bring aid to the people there much more quickly. But, no, W and the boys were just too damned busy turning Witt's commendable disaster response agency into a Gilded-Age-style governmental patronage backwater.

Heck, if W and the boys had just gotten off their asses and started sending aid toward New Orleans even before the hurricane went through, many of the losses could've been prevented. Of course, W didn't have time for all of this since he was on vacation for the last five weeks. I mean, you gotta have priorities, right?

The big elephant in the room that the folks in the White House simply don't want to talk about is the fact that the Iraq War has made the loss of life in New Orleans much worse. The fact that personnel and equipment that could've been moved into position much more quickly is now in Iraq has made many realize that W's war of choice may very well have cost as many lives in New Orleans this week as it has soldiers in Iraq in the last two years. (I wonder, should we start adding those deaths to the Iraq War death toll?)

And this, folks, is perhaps the most damning thing. This is the best George W. Bush's government can do to protect you right now. This is apparently the very best they can do. This is a helluva way to take care of "homeland security," huh? The guard units that are supposed to help us all in these situations are thousands of miles away and the agency that is supposed to be in charge of such matters is politicized to the point of incompetence. What happens if there is another disaster in the next few weeks or months? What the heck will happen then? Anything? I shudder at the thought.

I can tell that people in the usually subservient media are beginning to get fed up, whether it's Jack Cafferty or Anderson Cooper or even Rush's girlfriend, Daryn Kagan, who criticized the president's photo op this morning on the air. There are even people now beginning to ask why there were all those helicopters sitting behind Bush in the photo op this morning in Alabama. These folks wonder why those helicopters aren't being used to help pluck people off roofs in New Orleans instead of serving as props for yet another useless damned presidential photo op.

If there is any justice in this world, W will take a helluva hit politically. W has now presided over two major disasters in his presidency, both of which were to some degree preventable (although this one much more so than 9/11). In both cases, he and his administration dropped the ball and thousands died as a result.

And please, please, please, for the love of God stop effing saying things like "voting doesn't matter" or "my vote doesn't count" or believing that elections don't have circumstances because the last four plus years have shown that they most certainly do.

Don't you think we have enough carnage now to definitively prove that to be the case?

UPDATE Jack Cafferty apparently agrees:
Cafferty: Wolf, the war in Iraq is part of the problem in New Orleans. The Boston Globe reporting today that National Guard units across the country have about half their usual equipment. Everything from helicopters, trucks, humvees, weapons available to them. All the rest of the stuff has been sent off to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 78000 National Guard troops who are now deployed in those overseas war zones. Even the hardest hit states have 40% of their National Guard troops in Irraq right now. What happens if there's a terrorist attack tomorrow or a massive eearthquake in southern California? How would the nation respond? It's a frightening thought. The question is this - if we're to stay the course in Iraq should we bring the national guard troops home and institute a draft?
(Link via Atrios)


At least these lovely individuals didn't get linked, like Pat "Jesus Says Take 'im Out" Robertson's "Operation Blessings" did, on the White House donations website:

(via WaPo's Brian Krebs)
Suspicious Web pages supposedly raising money for Gulf Coast relief efforts keep springing up about as fast as authorities can shut them down. The latest are www.hurricanekatrinapics.com, www.hurricanekatrinarelief.com and www.katrinadamage.com, all of which ask for Paypal donations but do not make any claims that the money collected will benefit any relief organizations.

All three sites are registered to a company in New Orleans called Ideas Inc., which according to a LexisNexis search is owned by a guy named Bruce C. Henry. The latest records yielded by the search indicate its charter was revoked by the Louisiana secretary of state several years ago. I am told the handlers over at the SANS Internet Storm Center are working to get this site and several others like it shuttered. I am happy to report that all of the sites we mentioned in yesterday's post have been closed down.
It takes a village to stomp a weasel. Stomp liberally on anyplace you see linking to these folks.

This May Explain It 

If you'd like a clue as to why the NOLA castaways would take pot shots at the cops, read Salon's description of the difference between their situations.

Via Hullabaloo.

Paging alert reader Shystee 

I have a question for you.

Fluff me, Lizzie! 

Yes, my life is complete. The "Bush fiddles while New Orleans drowns" meme actually propagated into one of Girl Reporter Lizzie Bumiller's fluff pieces.


Great Headlines of our time: Garbo speaks! 

AP's headline over Jennifer Loven's story: Bush Acknowledges Problems With Federal Disaster Relief Effort!

Except that's not what happened. Loven's quotes are taken from this transsript. Generously billed by AP as a "press conference," the actual context is "remarks to the press," i.e. the sort of one-way, no-questions photo-op on the way to the helicopter that Bush loves so much.

[BUSH] A lot of people working hard to help those who've been affected. And I want to thank the people for their efforts. The results are not acceptable.

Funny, I don't hear Bush acknowleding any responsibility....

I'm heading down there right now. I'm looking forward to talking to the people on the ground.

What, you mean this can't be handled from Hellmouth Crawford, TX ?
Does Bush not trust his own chain of command, or—say it isn't so—could this trip be just an extended photo op?

Yeah, it's my guess that Rove has decided that Bush needs to stand on top of a second pile of rubble. Watch for the photo of someone handing him a hard hat with a flag on it.

I want to assure the people of the affected areas and this country that we'll deploy the assets necessary to get the situation under control, to get the help to the people who've been affected, and that we're beginning long-term planning to help those who have been displaced, as well as long-term planning to help rebuild the communities that have been affected.

"Rebuild the communities..." Say, I bet that "Blame New Orleans" meme (back) is going to die like a switch got thrown...

But "long-term planning", eh? Funny how I don't hear anything about money...

And funny, I still don't hear Bush taking any responsibility...

I'm looking forward to my trip down there and looking forward to thanking those on the ground and looking forward to assure people that we'll get on top of this situation and we're going to help people who need help.

Gosh, I hate to point this out, but the time to get "on top of this situation" was before the disaster happened. Too little, too late. As usual.

Any sign of Bush taking responsibility here? Didn't think so.

Thank you. That's it.

Yeah, "that's it" alright. Bush doesn't want to take questions. I wonder why?

NOTE Anyone see this on TV? I wonder what Bush's body language was like. In the text itself, the langauge is wierdly corporate; it's as if Bush is quoting from half-remembered MBA papers; "deploy assets," "long term planning," "affected areas,"
"the situation" ... A very flat affect.

Property Over People, or Shoot First, Make It Up Later 

NOLA grave So Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, has unleashed the troops with orders to "shoot to kill". Does this sound like an American leader addressing a problem affecting Americans?
""These troops are battle-tested. They have M-16s and are locked and loaded," (the governor) said on Thursday night of one group of 300 National Guard troops being deployed here after recent duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will."
Before going one sentence further, remember that, along with the very real violence being carried out by opportunists and criminals, there are also many people involved in the "looting" who have been abandoned to their own devices for all intents and purposes, and who are simply trying to survive.

The last time U.S. troops opened fire on their own citizens was May 4, 1970 at Kent State in Ohio. 28 Guardsmen fired about 65 rounds into the crowd of unarmed kids, killing 4, wounding 9, and putting one, Dean Kahler, in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Though widely condemned in liberal circles, this incident was not only excused, but heartily celebrated by Americans across the country, who wrote an incredible array of poison pen letters to local papers praising the actions of the Guard.

Now we have a situation of nearly incomprehensible proportion, where criminals and madmen roam New Orleans' hellish streets, preying on the weak and desperate and traumatized, and reportedly shooting at rescue workers and authorities. (How much of the bungled and indefensible rescue effort has been truly hindered by them, and how much they are being used to smoke-screen the incompetence of those efforts, may never be known. And let's leave aside for another day the question of how much of a problem the shootings would have been in a country that didn't push deadly weapon ownership like a bad drug and make guns available on practically every corner.) But those who have been driven to "loot" by the failures of emergency measures they expected to depend on, those who have gone days without food or water, can all too easily become lumped in with the criminals, especially by strangers who wade into the midst of the situation with every expectation of being attacked. When faced with this scenario, can we expect the troops to be able to make the distinction? I don't know; I'm asking.

The parallels to Iraq are becoming almost mythical. A civilian populace in despair, trying to survive under appalling conditions, is being driven to manage its existence at the most primitive of levels. The behaviors they display, arising naturally out of those conditions, appear savage and uncivilized to their liberators, and this alienation makes it easier to keep a wall up against empathy. When you stop being able to empathize with a group it's a short step to demonizing them, or in this case, lumping the good in with the bad. As in Iraq, every civilian becomes a potential enemy, a combatant, and fair game.

If the kids at Kent State could be demonized sufficiently to, not just exonerate, but celebrate their killers' actions, how much easier will it be to do so to the hurricane victims of New Orleans, who are already being tarred with blame for not leaving, for living where they did, and for just being there, period? Michael "Not Responsible" Brown of FEMA says they should have just gotten out. The humanitarians over at NRO's The Corner have pitched the rum idea to eliminate federal flood insurance subsidies because people just need to take responsiblity for their actions. Never mind that it would leave NOLA's poor, who live by the water because in that crazy town it's the only affordable real estate, utterly homeless and bereft of everything they ever had.

Leaving aside the lessons we've failed to learn in Iraq on how to handle civilian populations under disasterous conditions, how will it play in Peoria if and when our own streets begin to resemble Baghdad's? When a nation's military is turned on its own people, we know it has descended into tyranny. But how long will Americans be content to excuse even this?

Originally posted at IMCT.

No One Could Have Anticipated The President Would Be An Imbecile 

NOLA fire From the front page of the NYTimes comes this picture of New Orleans' latest hell:
"The explosion was in a chemical storage facility near the Mississippi River, Lt. Michael Francis of the Harbor Police was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. A series of smaller blasts followed and then acrid, black smoke hundreds of feet high. The vibrations were felt all the way downtown. "
I wondered when this part of it would start. Check out Chris Mooney's prescient description of the events now playing out, written 4 months ago:
"In the event of a slow-moving Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane (with winds up to or exceeding 155 miles per hour), it's possible that only those crow's nests would remain above the water level. Such a storm, plowing over the lake, could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans, which only protect against a hybrid Category 2 or Category 3 storm (with winds up to about 110 miles per hour and a storm surge up to 12 feet). Soon the geographical "bowl" of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops -- terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris...

A direct hit from a powerful hurricane on New Orleans could furnish perhaps the largest natural catastrophe ever experienced on U.S. soil. Some estimates suggest that well over 25,000 non-evacuees could die. Many more would be stranded, and successful evacuees would have nowhere to return to. Damages could run as high as $100 billion. In the wake of such a tragedy, some may even question the wisdom of trying to rebuild the city at all. And to hear hurricane experts like Louisiana State University's Ivor van Heerden tell it, it's only a matter of time before the "big one" hits.

Currently, pretty much every long-term trend cuts against the safety of New Orleans. Levees are subsiding; coastal wetlands (which can slow storm surges) are continually disappearing; and sea levels are rising. And then there's global warming -- a warmer world with warmer ocean temperatures should theoretically experience worse hurricanes. Most importantly, the Atlantic Ocean appears to have entered an active hurricane cycle, with the potential to fling storms at the Gulf Coast for years to come. This puts New Orleans on the vanguard among U.S. coastal cities (including New York) that will have to think hard about their growing vulnerabilities in the coming years. The process of deciding how to save an entire coastal metropolis has begun, but the discussion has largely been confined to experts, and not nearly broad or ambitious enough yet."
Chris was on the BBC this morning, talking about New Orleans. But this isn't the time for laying blame, is it? Not the time to play politics. Not the time to wag fingers. Thank God for the clear vision of James Wolcott.

The Skippy Challenge 

No, this is not a post about peanut butter.

skippy, my absolutely favorite bush kangaroo, responded so smartly to my recent post bemoaning George W.'s incredible statement that "No one anticipated the breaching of the levees," that I thought it needed wider currency.
look, nobody could know that they'd use airplanes as missiles either.

and who could predict that a permanent tax cut for the upper 1% would result in the biggest deficit in history?

and nobody ever foresaw iraq falling into civil war once saddam was taken out.

really, what do you expect? leadership?

by the way, cnn is already on the case of (is the guy's name forchetti?) the guy who said in 2001 that this would happen without more fortification of the levees.
If anyone has any info on who this guy is, please let us know in comments; googling that name didn't give me the answer.

Okay, so here's "the skippy challenge" issued to liberal/left bloggers and commenters to meet skippy's personal $100 contribution to the Red Cross in the name of all we hold dear as Americans, especially our bonds to one another. Unlike Hugh Hewitt, skippy will acknowledge you by name in his blog, and as the challenge has progressed, skippy has made clear that sliding scale contributions are acceptable for those with lesser incomes to no incomes. To find out more, click here, and then scroll up; lots of great stuff by skippy and his crew to look at and read.

A great concept and the graphic to express is to be found at Agitprop; this is one you won't want to miss; the link is courtesy of The Heretik, who has all manner of current stuff you should check out.

Mustang Bobby, blogging at "Bark, Bark, Woof,Woof," has a wonderful post analyzing Bush's first speech upon returning to Washington.

We need to remember speeches like this one, and those other of his sayings not part of one those prepared speeches that feature soaring, if empty rhetoric. Come to think of it, this administration has accumulated an astonishing number of pithy, quotable idiocies, most of which have turned out to be lies, and even when not, unhelpful and foolish. If anyone is up for starting a list, well, that's what comment threads are for.

Welcome to fabulous Larryland! 

Subject: Prof. Larry Schweikart, University of Dayton. For more on pedagogue Schweikart's latest adventures in discourse see Lambert's post below titled Katrina: Republicans to cities—Go die!.

Professor Larry is apparently quite the piper when it comes to tootling about the Freeperkorp forums like some kind of merry minstrel of free market tough love. See, it's like this: Don Larry frequently holds forth in Freeper creeperville as one "LS" ("Since Feb 4, 1998") and you can read his latest timely ventilations here: LS/Larry Schweikart

Entries include such momentous (and educational) twinkles of smirking repartee as the following exchange - (emphasis below is mine) - with Larry responding to a comment made by someone called "GnuHere"; who observes:
To: LS
Painful as it is, I tuned into the Today show for a few minutes - Carl Quintanilla (sp?) used the phrase "I have to be careful here" (presumably about how he reported the looting and lawlessness, especially not mentioning anyone's race) at least 3 times when reporting from NO about the looting, and he looked very scared.

24 posted on 09/01/2005 7:31:31 AM PDT by GnuHere
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Because, ya know, mention of "anyone's race" was certainly not evident in any of the recent reporting on unfolding events in New Orleans. Cheery Professor Schweikart (aka: LS) responds:
To: GnuHere
Bwa-hahahah. I can just see this guy: "Katie, the ni . . . . ,er, make that the LOOTERS are everywhere."

29 posted on 09/01/2005 8:01:05 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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"the ni . . . . ,er", I don't git it... oh! wait!... Bwa-hahahaha Larry! LOL!!! ... you are like sooooo crafty! Such a cheeky - and politically incorrect - wag! And oh my so very clever. Why I'll bet you're just a regular safety deposit box full of yucks aren't ya? A real cut-up farceur. A regular main attraction at all the snooty-best financially dressed U of D cocktail affairs. I betchya are.

Jeezis...where do they incubate and hatch these pretentious overstuffed elitist right-wing assholes anyway? Don't answer that. Anyway... here's another recent master Larryism (on public safety. Namely flood prevention):
Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen?
Posted by LS to goldstategop
On News/Activism 08/31/2005 9:10:51 AM PDT · 36 of 148

True: but it's not OUR job to do the "prevention." It's the job of the idiots who live there. I live in a tornado zone, so we will not buy a house without a basement. That would be stupid. I don't expect the feds to subsidize my basement purchase.

Well, yes, of course... I don't suppose someone in, say Vermont, should have to "do" Larry's private basement. Or even subsidize the particulars of prince Larry's various smarter personal "prevention" needs neither. But, as we all must take note, the imaginary public subsidization of lord Larry's personal basement facility somewhere in the vicinity of Dayton Ohio, is, in this case, of course, according to Larry, the equivalent of protecting an entire city of several hundred thousand human beings from the flood waters of the Mississippi Delta. Yes. It all makes sense.

See, it's like this, if all those old people and stupid little children born and raised in the soupy swamps of Nahlins' would come to their senses and purchase their own twenty four foot flood levees - or basements in a tornado hot zone (like, for instance, right next door to Larry) - then the dark stormy clouds roiling above each and every misfortunate soul today would simply disperse like a puff of oily blue smoke carried aloft in a new born breeze and the great mysterious invisible hand would poke a blessed finger down from the free market firmament and touch us all golden. And all the puppies and kitties would sudenly find themselves wearing brand new rhinestone collars too! Yes siree bub. At least as far as Larry and his merry band of laissez faire mystics are concerned. In fact, I'll bet that if the University of Dayton (the "private institution" from which Mr. Larry draws his comfotable gains) didn't accept all that pesky federal funding why Larry boy could probably afford to dig himself two or three or four basements.

Maybe even sell one of em' to one of those poor people from New Orleans who at this very moment might be in the market for a nice dry cellar! Or two! And heck, maybe Larry would even have some big crisp piles of snappy tax free Ben Franklins left over to launch his own private NOAA-style weather satellite into orbit and construct his very own personal privatized tornado early warning siren system right up there on the peak of his own very private flat-tax rooftop. Just as Mr. Larry, master and prophet of his own fabulous Larryland, would want it. Afterall, all a man needs is a solid basement and a cushy job at a major private university within easy driving distance and a good early warning tornado system over his fuzzy wuzzy head and, well, a few other little things, and there ya have it!

Hail, I'll bet the fabulous flat-tax-lander professor could even construct hisself an entire multilinked underground basement realm complete with an underground interstate transportation subway system and telecommunications grid and his own private internets. Even a personal mint for printing real Larry dollars!. All just for Mr Larry and his chosen basement saavy tribe mind you.

And should the occasional rogue tornado happen to scrape one of Dayton's lowly local public elementary schools from the surface of the earth, well, ho-hum. If the miserable tax looting bastards who depend upon such godless fascist arrangements are nice to lord Larry and his privateer heroes maybe the sovereign Larry and his kindred buds will be right there too - emerging on the spot - chipping in like good neighborly self interested sorts to help build a brand new schoolhouse brick by homemade brick with their own bare knuckles and personal gas fired homemade brick kilns. And other up from the bootstrap resource resovoirs of fabulous go-getter design.

Need a little flood "prevention" along the Ohio River? No problemo!...build your own levee! Complete financing available with real Larryland dollars of course! Oh. Yeah. Sure. For surely Mr. Larry's dreams of a shining Larryland on the Stillwater just south of interstate 70 would all come to fruitation if it weren't for all that taxpayer subsidized boodle being squirreled off and lavished on those silly "ni....,er", make that... LOOTERS" in some slough in Louisiana. Jeepers Larry, life is so unfair isn't it? Boo-hoo what's a freewheelin' pennypinch gasconade from Dayton to do!

In any case, keep pragmatic professor Larry Schweikart in mind next Spring when some cyclonic F-4 monster comes roaring down on Larryland. Just south of interstate 70. In the "With God, all things are possible state". Bwa-hahahaha!

More about Professor "LS" Larry including photo (cached "Yorktown University" page)


Katrina: Republicans to cities—Go die! 

[I started this post yesterday, and, as will sometimes happen when dealing with wingers, the ginormous vacuity and self-assuredness of the argumentation, and the sheer virulence of the memes, boggled even my Enlightenment super-powers of evidence and reasoning. Yet in only 24 hours, the Republican Noise Machine has catapulted the "Blame New Orleans" meme all the way from the lunatic fringe (meet Professor Larry, uber-Patriot, below) to House Speaker Denny Hastert (and you always thought Hastert wasn't one of the thugs).]

So, let's watch the Republican Noise Machine in action, shall we? Katrina's got nothing on them when it comes to blowing hot air, eh? Starting yesterday:

Here's a beauty from Editor and Publisher. Of Will Bunch's research on how Bush paid for the war in Iraq by defunding flood control in New Orleans, thereby causing the breach of the 17th Street levee:

You've Got to be Kidding

This is truly an assinine [sic] column. The idea that I should be taxed to pay for the development of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans because I choose to live in a "hurricane-free" state like Ohio is absurd. It's even more absurd to think that because we spend money that is legitimate by constitutional standards -- for national defense against terrorists in Iraq -- we "don't have enough" for levee projects. I didn't see the residents of New Orleans kicking in privately for massive levee construction. How about this? You live in a hurricane zone, "you takes your chances"? Your "tax" for living in a temperate climate with a view of the ocean may well be that you get a hurricane every so often, just as it is California's burden to deal with earthquakes, mudslides, and fires because they want to live in near-perfect weather year round.

Stop blaming Bush and get a clue.

Prof. Larry Schweikart
University of Dayton
(via E&P)

So who is Professor Larry ? Here he is in full cry, flogging his new book:

That’s why I think the modern so-called “left” in fact greatly resembles the Nazis: they are anti-religious (unless it is their state, secular religion of “man” or Gaia); they are anti-Semitic; they hate freedom; and they are ruthless in their speech and behavior codes.

So ruthless they don't control any branch of the Federal Government....

Well, obviously Professor Larry has drunk deep of the Kool-Aid. Attempting to engage him using Enlightenment tools would be quixotic. But let's saddle up and ride. And we'll make it easy for him by leaving the cheap shots aside.

Leave aside the fact that New Orleans has existed for longer than the United States has, let alone Ohio. Leave aside the fact that New Orleans is a major port city, handles massive grain shipments, and has oil and gas refineries galone—and that the people who work for those businesses have to live where the jobs are. Leave aside that lots of working people just can't sell the house, pack up, and leave—especially if they'd be leaving family behind. And leave aside the fact that the break in the levee at 17th Street would not have happened if Bush hadn't cut the funding for maintaining it. Or if the Republicans had spent some of the $200 billion they spent on highway pork on projects that would, you know, save lives. (Black, poor, sick, and old lives, to be sure, so presumably insufficiently blessed by God—but heck, aren't they citizens too?)

And leave aside the fact that Bush is creaming off oil royalties (back) that Louisiana itself could have used for the flood control Bush is denying them.

And let's leave aside the fact that the magic of the market hasn't sorted out a full professor who can't spell "asinine" correctly. Shoot, I thought all the freepi learned to spell that word at their mothers' knee. I mean, they'd need to, right?

Here's the fact that Professor "Spell Me 'Assinine'" Larry is missing. It's a fact that's wa-a-a-y over in Europe, so I can see how the good Professor would be ignorant of it, but still, here it is:

The Netherlands.

A remarkable aspect of the Netherlands is the flatness of the country. About half of its surface area is less than 1 m above sea level, and large parts of [the Netherlands] are actually below sea level (see map showing these areas). An extensive range of dikes and dunes protect these areas from flooding. Numerous massive pumping stations keep the ground water level in check.

Gosh, sound familiar? Of course, the Netherlands needs to maintain those dikes and pumping stations, they actually have to spend money, but it's a civil engineering project, and if the Netherlands can do it in Europe, so can this great country in Louisiana.

And why should we? Leave aside the French Quarter, jazz, the food, the fact that the people of New Orleans are American citizens who want and need our help—unlike, to pick a random example, many of the citizens of Baghdad.

Do it because it's profitable. The Netherlands has a $481.1 billion (2004 est.) economy. Just like New Orleans has always been profitable.

Surely even a winger hack like Professor Larry can understand that? Apparently not. But if Professor Larry weren't so busy tossing sandbags into the widening breach in Bush's credibility, he might have had time to do a little thinking. Maybe, who knows, some research. We should be so lucky.

By noon today, the fact-free yet extremely virulent "Blame New Orleans" meme had spread all the way from the fringe to the corridors of power, and House Speaker Denny Hastert weighed in:

WASHINGTON House Speaker Dennis Hastert says it makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild New Orleans, which is seven feet under sea level.
(via KIFY)

Right. Except the Netherlands is below sea level and has a $480 billion economy. Pop goes another Republican meme!

And then this zinger:

"[HASTERT] It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed."
(via AP)

All class, these Republicans. All heart. [sniff] 'S beautiful...

But we need to be very clear about what Professor Larry, Hastert, and the rest of the wingers pushing this meme are really saying here.

To do that, let's perform a simple mental substitution and replace this "natural disaster" with another kind of disaster.

When you hear "flood" think "loose nuke," and ask yourselves what the Republicans would say if a loose nuke in a shipping container took out Philly, instead of a flood taking out New Orleans?

1. Would the Republicans blame Philly for not protecting itself against a loose nuke? [In a heartbeat]

2. Would the Republicans blame the citizens of Philly [or New York, or Boston, or Seattle, or San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or even Houston] for living in an area that was vulnerable to nuclear attack by terrorists? [Bien sur!]

3. Would the Republicans be willing to spend "their" tax dollars to clean up and rebuild Philly after a nuclear attack, or would they prefer to "bulldoze" it? [Don't be silly! They already stiffed New York out of billions of 9/11 money!]

So, if you live near a port city in a blue state, or know, or love someone who does, Bush and the Republicans are telling you, too, "Go die," just as they have already told the citizens of New Orleans (back)

And remember:

4. The Republicans are the ones who made us vulnerable. Just as the Republicans paved the way to disaster in New Orleans, so the Republicans are paving the way for disaster with loose nukes. The Republicans haven't protected the ports at all, and Bush's war of choice in Iraq is a training ground for urban warfare, and has made terrorism worse.. The Republicans really have painted a target on our backs—while they stand clucking outside the line of fire and congratulating each other on their courage (as usual).

And what New Orleans shows is that after they put us in danger, the Republicans will do nothing, nothing to protect us.

Why would they? We're not the base. We should go die.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina: Bush budget to New Orleans: "Drop Dead!" 

And they did, they did.

After some obligatory balancing, AP's Ron Fournier points out the obvious:

Just last year, the Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress finally approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request.

Yet the lawmakers and Bush agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-laden highway bill that included more than 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers. Congress spent money on dust control for Arkansas roads, a warehouse on the Erie Canal and a $231 million bridge to a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

How could Washington spend $231 million on a bridge to nowhere — and not find $42 million for hurricane and flood projects in New Orleans? It's a matter of power and politics.
(via AP)

Ah, priorities, priorities....

Cash dollars, cash dollars....

Can't trust the Republicans with your money, can you?

And every Republican with blood on one hand because of Iraq now has blood on both hands because of that highway bill—with $286.4 billion they probably could have raised the entire city of New Orleans above sea level...

Stealthy John Roberts: Iran-Contra is the elephant in the room 

Pat Holt of the Christian Science Monitor actually says this out loud:

The question of controlling information has arisen again in connection with the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee reasonably want to know what Judge Roberts did and what views he expressed during his service in the Reagan administration. While Bush professes full cooperation with the Senate Judiciary Committee, including its Democratic members, he has been careful about which documents from these periods of Roberts' career are made available. A great many documents have been supplied, but some have been withheld. Many of those that have been supplied have large sections blacked out. The Bush executive order says these redactions should be made on the basis of national security considerations, but in the end they come down to subjective judgments by the incumbent president or his White House staff.

In the name of protecting national security,
President Bush has arrogated to himself and to all his successors (unless one of them should be sufficiently public-spirited to change it) the power to control which presidential papers going back to George Washington can be made public. One must ask: Why would Bush be moved to do this?

A cynical, but possibly true, explanation is to protect Reagan and his vice president - the current president's father - from disclosure of the full truth about the Iran-contra scandal, which possibly contained grounds for another impeachment.
(via Christian Science Monitor)

Never forget that Roberts was a political appointee in the Solicitor General's office; a "made man," as Atrios says. If there were any legal opinions that Reagan and his bucket of warm spit, Bush the First, wanted, and then wanted to disavow, Roberts would have been the go-to guy. Say, on whether Reagan, or Bush I, could be impeached over Iran-Contra; and what evidence to bury so they couldn't be.

Remember that odd insistence, at the very beginning of the Roberts nomination fight, on a non-sensical claim of attorney client privilege (back) between Roberts and the President? Hmmm.....

Katrina looting: "Hey, freedom's untidy!" 

Alert reader Julia connects the dots.

Katrina: Where's Dick Cheney? 

Good question, alert reader Karlsfini.

The answer is: Taking care of business (as usual)!

Cheney's raising money:

Vice President Dick Cheney will host a major fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent in September as the Missouri Republican gears up for a challenge from Democratic state Auditor Claire McCaskill.
(via Columbia Tribune)

And Cheney's putting plan B into action, since that Iraq thing hasn't worked out so well—preparing to tell Canada they'd better give us their oil before we just take it:

The White House confirmed Tuesday afternoon that American Vice-President Dick Cheney is coming to visit Fort McMurray’s oilsands on Sept. 9.
“The vice-president’s visit to Fort McMurray’s oilsands facilities will be a component of the trip, which will provide the opportunity to discuss energy security and available resources,” White House spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride, told Today Tuesday.
(via Fort McMurray Today)

Oddly, though, "Cheney" and "Katrina" don't appear in any searches I've done.

Could it be Bush is handling this one all by Himself?

That would explain a lot, wouldn't it....

Katrina: Guard to stay in Iraq 

No surprise there:

There will be no large-scale shifting of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with disaster relief in Louisiana and Mississippi, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Thursday.

Most Americans identify the National Guard with providing emergency services during natural disasters. But over the past three years, numerous Guard units have been sent to Iraq to fight alongside regular forces.

A brigade of roughly 5,000 soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard watched the disaster unfold on television, as they finished their nearly yearlong deployment on Camp Liberty, west of Baghdad.

(via Globe and Mail)

Where does that buck stop again? Part III 

See Scott run! Run, run, run! See Scott dodge! Dodge, dodge, dodge:

Jessica, go ahead.

Q Scott, since the briefing started, I've gotten a number of emails from people saying that correspondents who've been in Baghdad and New Orleans say Baghdad feels safer to operate in; people saying that it's absolute chaos in the streets; message boards on the Internet are going crazy. They're frustrated that you're deflecting this to FEMA. Is the White House properly, adequately concerned? And can you tell us --

MR. McCLELLAN: Deflecting what to FEMA?

Q You're deflecting all specifics to the FEMA briefing.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not. I've given you some updates, but they are the ones who are in charge of operational aspects on the ground. And the Department of Homeland Security is in charge of the operational aspects from Washington, D.C. And they're pulling together officials that will have the most updated information to you. So your characterization is just wrong, Jessica. Jessica, go ahead.
(via White House transcript)

Oooh, that's a good one.

Talk to the poeple who are "in charge of the operational aspects on the ground."

Translation: We don't know what the fuck's going on.

Katrina: Bush to the poor: "Go die!" 

You're poor, maybe sick,maybe old, have no car, can't buy gas, can't get on the Greyhound, let alone a train or a plane.

How, exactly, are you going to evacuate New Orleans if Bush isn't there to help you with some kind of disaster plan?

The answer is, you're not going to be able to leave. So you're going to stay put, and maybe die. Says a New Orleans police officer:

[The ones who could not leave] were poor folks mostly; most are blacks. It's not through any fault of their own [they could not leave]."
(via Independent)

And if you survive, and you're thirsty and starving, what are you going to do? You could wait for Bush to get it together, but after three or four days... You're going to do what you must:

The residents admitted they had been taking items from any stores they could find, but they insisted they were only taking essentials - food, water and nappies for their children. "The police have let us take the necessities," said Hazel Hollins, 54, a hotel worker.

One emergency official agreed that many so-called "looters" were only taking essentials. Speaking on a local radio station, Tad Troxler, the director of emergency planning for the western suburb of St Charles' parish, said there were "reports from law enforcement of people looting ... stealing beer trucks. But when you hear the stories from these families and they tell you they have just had to get a vehicle to get out of New Orleans, it seems different."

Bush put you in this spot when he cut the funding for the levees, sent the Guard to Iraq, and packed FEMA with political hacks who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

And now Bush does nothing, so you do what you must to feed yourself and maybe save your family.

So what does Bush do? He threatens to shoot you.

Who gives a shit? Bush already tried to kill you once...

Where Does That Buck Stop Again? Part II 


P.S. Impeach.

Katrina: Bush to a sympathetic world: "Fuck off!" 

Every time.

Every time.

Every time you think the man can't reach a new low, He defies expectations:

Still, Bush told ABC-TV: "I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it."
(via AP)

The guy just reeks of class, doesn't he?

NOTE Of course, given how Bush has trashed our currency, we might all be better off they didn't give us dollars. Eh?

Where Does That Buck Stop Again? 

Read this. Read it all. Then tell me he shouldn't be impeached.

The Helpless And The Helping 

And I don't mean all those desperate people waiting for help in New Orleans.

I mean our President. I suppose one could substitute "clueless" for "helpless," but in the end they pretty much come to the same thing.

I didn't think I'd be writing this kind of post. For myself, I'm corny enough to feel that you only got one President, and when he's leading the nation in the context of a national tragedy, you give him the benefit of the doubt.

So, although I thought it was perfectly all right to bring up issues that attach themselves to a category 5 hurricane hitting a major city and causing the failure of the levees that are supposed to keep it from becoming uninhabitable, issues like the cutting of funds previously earmarked for defending against that possiblity; my impulse was to refrain from language that puts the fault for this particlar happening directly on the shoulders of the President; we can't be sure if the full funds had been appropriated, "Katrina" wouldn't have triumphed.

And the matter of the levees and whether they have turned out to be the right answer for New Orleans is a question in itself.

Then, this morning, listening to NPR, I heard a voice that could only have been George W. Bush's say something to the effect that "nobody could have anticipated the breaching of the levees." Nobody could have anticipated the breaching of the levees? Truth to tell, he might have only said "nobody anticipated the breaching of the levees," but that's just as bad.

It will be poetic justice if either version becomes the final mantra of this Bush administration. "No one anticipated the breaching of the levees."

How disconnected from reality does a President have to be to be able to make either statement? People have been anticipating the flooding of New Orleans for years now, and the role of hurricanes in several possible scenarios of destruction have become almost rampant since that hurricane named "Andrew" hit Florida.

Are we really dealing here with a President who thinks that shutting his eyes, putting his thumbs in his ears and stamping his feet will make unpleasant facts go away. Is that the true meaning of "staying the course?"

Not that anyone on the right would deign to actually look at an actual episode of NOW with Bill Moyers, but in September of 2002, NOW did a two part series examining the issue of New Orleans and hurricanes.
The Mississippi River delta is disappearing. One of America's most vibrant and productive ecological regions is slipping into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate. Every year, a chunk of land nearly as big as Manhattan crumbles and washes away. As it erodes, it not only threatens one of the country's most abundant fisheries and a vital home for wildlife, but it imperils the nation's energy supply. And, as the coast of Louisiana continues to slip away, tens of thousands of lives are at risk from devastating hurricanes. The crisis in the delta could reach catastrophic levels in the next few decades, with far-reaching environmental, human, and economic consequences.

NOW presents the story of the disappearing delta in two parts: "Losing Ground," uncovers how one of the biggest civil engineering projects in U.S. history — the leveeing of the Mississippi River — has brought Louisiana and the nation to the brink of what could be the most costly environmental disaster in history.

"The City in a Bowl," NOW with Bill Moyers returns to the Mississippi River delta to examine another ominous effect of this crisis — the risk that a massive hurricane could drown New Orleans gets worse every single year.
My memory of this was jogged by reader Hobson in comments.

Here's a short selection from the transcript of "Losing Ground."
ZWERDLING: The US Army took over the job in the late 1800s and every time they thought they'd conquered nature, the Mississippi River proved them wrong. So the Army's Corps of Engineers built more walls, and they built them higher. It's been one of the biggest engineering projects in history. Today, the Army manages more than two thousand miles of levees, and they've finally won the war — they've stopped the flooding in Louisiana.

OLIVER HOUCK: And so the project was, from an engineering point of view, brilliant, brilliant. From an environmental standpoint, it was a disaster. And it was a disaster because all of that bed load, all of that material that had built south Louisiana for thousands of years, now was thrown away like a waste product into the deep Gulf. And Louisiana was poised like a patient in a hospital. It was put on a starvation diet. It wasn't killed it was just made weak and susceptible to attack. And in about the 1930's the attack came.

ZWERDLING: That 'attack' was the oil and gas boom. All the big companies flocked here. They ripped up the wetlands to get to the energy underneath.


ZWERDLING: Back then, hardly anybody realized the consequences and the whole country got the benefits. The companies sold us energy, the Army kept homes in Louisiana dry. But Reed says now we know the price: the wetlands are sinking into the Gulf.
And the link to New Orleans and its levees? From the transcript of "City In A Bowl:"
DANIEL ZWERDLING: The American Red Cross lists the worst natural disasters that might strike America. They worry about earthquakes in California, and tropical storms in Florida. But they say the biggest catastrophe could be a hurricane hitting New Orleans.

People have known for centuries that they picked a risky spot to build this city. In fact, some of the first French settlers wanted to abandon it.

The biggest river on the continent snakes around it. Most of the land here is below sea level. And every time people tried to expand the city, the Mississippi promptly flooded it.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: Why did people stay here? I'm, it became obvious very, very quickly after the French came that this was a really lousy place to live.

OLIVER HOUCK: They made a lot of money. They made a lot of money because they were the transfer point for all the shipping that came out of the belly of the country and went to France and went to South America and went to England and all of the ships coming in, you had to pass by New Orleans.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: So they launched what's become one of the biggest construction projects in history. To protect their investments. As of today, the us arm has built 2000 miles of levees to stop the Mississippi from flooding. And until recently, scientists thought that these walls of soil and concrete and steel had made New Orleans safe. They never dreamed that the levees would come back to haunt them.

OLIVER HOUCK: So the irony of history and the evolution of the problem has been that we've been like one of those old citadels in an adventure story, defended ourselves against the enemy that we knew, which was the river. But to the rear and to the flank was this other threat that we're only beginning now to appreciate, and it may be too late to prevent.
Both transcripts and the background information NOW always includes about subjects it tackles are well worth reading.

MJS of MortalJive has a surprising and fascinating analysis of what makes our President...woof.


MoveOn is launching a web-based emergency national housing drive to connect empty beds with people who need shelter while reclamation of disaster struck areas goes forward. Naturally, the most useful offers must come from people who live relatively near the disaster areas. A reasonable driving distance is being defined as 300 miles.

MoveOn is setting up a website, hurricanehousing.org

From an email signed by Noah Weiner:
But no matter where you live, your housing could still make a world of difference to a person or family in need, so please offer what you can.

The process is simple:

You can sign up to become a host by posting a description of whatever housing you have available, along with contact information. You can change or remove your offer at any time.

Hurricane victims, local and national relief organizations, friends and relatives can search the site for housing. We'll do everything we can to get your offers where they are needed most. Many shelters actually already have Internet access, but folks without 'net access can still make use of the site through case workers and family members.

Hurricane victims or relief agencies will contact hosts and together decide if it's a good match and make the necessary travel arrangements. The host's address is not released until a particular match is agreed on.

If hosting doesn't work for you, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help with the enormous tasks of rescue and recovery. You can give online at:


As progressives, we share a core belief that we are all in this together, and today is an important chance to put that idea to work. There are thousands of families who have just lost everything and need a place to stay dry. Let's do what we can to help.


Thanks for being there when it matters most.

That pretty much seems to say it all.

Hoping for Blueberry Hill 

While Condi searches for her new Ferragamos...

(via LA Times)

Fats Domino was missing today, days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, said his longtime agent, Al Embry.

Embry told The Associated Press that he hadn't been able to contact Domino since talking to him Sunday evening by phone... The 77-year-old R&B legend, whose real name is Antoine Domino, told Embry that he planned to stay at his New Orleans house with his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter.

Hopelessly out of touch 

What does surprise us: 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!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
(via Gawker)
I'm not sure if the word "insensitive" quite covers it, huh folks?

From Inside The Abyss 

What could be going through the mind of the shooter?

“The evacuation of stranded hurricane victims from New Orleans' Superdome stadium has been disrupted after shots were fired at a rescue helicopter.
A spokesman for the Louisiana ambulance service told the BBC the crowd had grown unruly and he was concerned for the safety of his staff.”
Maybe it’s this:
“During the storm, more than 9,000 people took shelter at the Superdome, but the numbers have swelled to 20,000 and conditions there have sharply deteriorated.
The heat, humidity and sanitary conditions are reported to be unbearable, and people are crowding onto the stadium's concourse to avoid the stench…

The tens of thousands of people who are still in New Orleans are desperate to leave, the BBC's Alistair Leithead reports from the Louisiana city.
There is no electricity, and people who have lost everything are struggling to find food and clean water.”
Shooting the very people coming to your aid seems utterly insane, as has much of the behavior of the victims since Katrina began the devastation of New Orleans. The apparently savage and self-destructive behavior exhibited by the looters puzzled many at first, but though reports of opportunists stealing everything from cars and guns to prescription drugs may make us recoil, not everyone engaged in stealing or other acts are bad.

Many of the looters are just people bereft of even the most essential things---food, clean water, baby diapers, life-saving medications---who have gone days without them---and who saw a chance to stay alive and took it.

With his usual empathic compassion, Bush whips out the Stern Daddy persona that his sycophants seem to find so comforting:

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law," Bush said, 'Whether it's looting or price-gouging or insurance fraud."
Trapped in the city, waiting for days on rooftops or forced back inside flooded buildings without lights or air conditioning by an unenforceable curfew, surrounded by death, sewage, stench and chaos, many of them must be driven half-mad with grief and fear. Who knows how many people have been attacked, raped, even murdered, by the marauding bands of vultures that have been roaming the streets, and how do you tell who is coming to help you and who might hurt you after awhile? Traumatized, left for days by a broken system that can’t adequately respond thanks to the financial and logistical crippling George Bush has given it, and unsure when they will be rescued, if ever, they have taken the same actions most of us would have if we were stuck in the same situation. And who’s to say that the mind doesn’t begin to cloud after all this, that after days of paranoia and trauma, you don’t become a little unhinged and just need to strike out at someone, anyone? Personally, I wouldn't hesitate a moment to break into a pharmacy for the meds my child needed, or into a store for food, water, or shoes that weren't soaked into muck.

Not much seems to have been written about this so far, but look for a goodly amount in the near future, as more people are brought out and the stories they tell become common knowledge. We won’t have just a massive reconstruction task ahead of us; we will have the repair and reconstruction of thousands of human beings, as well.

How To Be A Small Ray Of Hope 

So many tragedies swirl around us that it becomes incomprehensible, impossible to hold it all in the front of the mind. While the trauma and hell of Katrina's aftermath plays out down south, it's easy to forget the 953 who just died in a meaningless stampede on a bridge in Iraq; or the 1 year anniversary being marked in Russia of the cruel murders of the schoolchildren in Beslan.

If you are looking for a way to break through the sense of helplessness that so often comes with overwhelmingly bad news, the Red Cross is looking for volunteers for any numbers of positions, including those in Disaster Services, and in hurricane relief. Their websites must be being hit pretty hard now, because they are slow, so be patient.

The word has come down for state employees in PA, at least: you can go, if you want. From a recently released memo that came to my attention today:
"The Red Cross is currently offering a four hour training course in disaster relief by which participants will be certified as disaster relief volunteers for the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The Red Cross is requiring a commitment from these participants to perform the disaster relief work for three weeks. (E)mployees who are certified by the Red Cross as a result of this training may be released if operationally feasible and may use civil leave for the disaster relief work."
I'm still chasing down further info, but by navigating the Red Cross website I put together this much, at least. Go here. Click on "Emergency & Safety" in the drop-down window on the upper left. Put in your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel (if you want to help down south, you will eventually be able to volunteer for national disasters once you have located a local agency that will train you). A list will come up, from which you can choose.

More on this if I learn more.

The Death President 

(NOTE: Some of what follows you will have read elsewhere, including in the posts at this site. That's on purpose. These are things that need repeated again and again, until they begin to penetrate the thick force field of pride and defensiveness that has so far kept Americans from admitting that they elected a thumb-sucking moral imbecile, and from cutting their losses. This needs to be said over and over, it needs to be on every weblog and in every news organ. Again and again. And again.)

ages-woman-death As the horrors of New Orleans begin to mount, one thing seems clear:

George Bush has their blood on his hands.

And before you dismiss this as just another liberal hatefest speech, consider the following, from the February 7, 2005 issue of New Orleans CityBusiness:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified millions of dollars in flood and hurricane protection projects in the New Orleans district.
Chances are, though, most projects will not be funded in the president's 2006 fiscal year budget to be released today.
In general, funding for construction has been on a downward trend for the past several years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the New Orleans Corps' programs management branch.
In 2001, the New Orleans district spent $147 million on construction projects. When fiscal year 2005 wraps up Sept. 30, the Corps expects to have spent $82 million, a 44.2 percent reduction from 2001 expenditures.
Demma said NOC expects its construction budget to be slashed again this year, which means local construction companies won't receive work from the Corps and residents won't see any new hurricane protection projects...

Unfunded projects include widening drainage canals, flood- proofing bridges and building pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The Corps also wants to build levees in unprotected areas on the West Bank.
Demma does not expect the Corps to award many more projects before fiscal year 2005 ends...

The most urgent work being delayed by funding shortfalls involves levee construction on the West Bank.
The West Bank doesn't have the first level of protection completed. So, that's the really critical one, Demma said."
Now scroll 6 months ahead, to these words from the mayor of NOLA:
""We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said in calling for an all-out evacuation of the city's remaining residents. Asked how many died, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
From yesterday's Kansas City Star:
"“We’ve lost our city,” said Marc Morial, a former New Orleans mayor who is president of the National Urban League. “I fear it’s potentially like Pompeii.”"
Could the damage and deaths have been prevented, or at least seriously curtailed? Yes, and not only by better preparation; a larger force of rescue operations might have made a difference, had they existed. From yesterday's Washington Post:
"National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops -- most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001."
coatlicueMississippi has over 4000 troops in Iraq, or 40% of its Guard force. Louisiana has 3000 over there. Many of the exhausted troops that are here and available have just finished their rotations over there.

Will Bunch did an excellent job of pulling the sources and quotes together to draw a picture of a President and Congress more interested in sending money to a bogus war than "protecting the homeland":
"At least nine articles in the
Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars...

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to this Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness:

The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.
The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed."
Bunch noted that:
"One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer was a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach."
Bush's absurd funding of Homeland Security projects has been criticized before (sending the same amount of money to the barren plains of Wyoming as to the target-rich states of New Jersey and New York, failing to require protective measures for chemical and nulcear facilities), but his castration of the very agency created to deal with emergencies like the New Orleans disaster is less noticed. In a recent Washington Post column, Eric Holderman, director of Washington state's King County Office of Emergency Management, outlined the birth and history of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, its absorption into the newly-created Homeland Security department, and then blasted Bush for "destroying" it:
"This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.
FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture. That's because the focus of the national effort remains terrorism, even if the Department of Homeland Security still talks about "all-hazards preparedness." Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves, making do with the "homeland security" mission. Our "all-hazards" approaches have been decimated by the administration's preoccupation with terrorism."
Note that just last night on ABC, Elizabeth Vargas, reporting from NOLA, wondered why FEMA and many other government interventions talked up so much by spokesmen were "nowhere to be seen". It would be inaccurate to paint the agency as doing nothing; that's not true. What with much of the money and manpower that would have gone to averting this disaster misallocated or simply no longer there, FEMA is doing the best it can. And it has sent out the call for people to send cash contibutions to organizations like the Red Cross, Second Harvest, and an array of church groups. But maybe if Bush hadn't come up with the bright idea to divest it of it's true purpose and instead put it in charge of the concentration camps, it would have been able to take action sooner and in a more meaningful way.

Now it and every other remnant of Bush's ragtag domestic emergency contingent, is scrambling to put fingers in a dike that's already long since busted wide open.

If you want to know who their killer is, George, look in the mirror.

UPDATE: The NYTimes gets it:
"While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?
It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal."
Change that to none.

UPDATE 2: NPR News just played Bush's fatuous "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" speech, and followed up immediately with a "but the Times-Picayune had reported for years..." one-two punch that tore a big hole in that lie. The word is spreading.

Crossposted at IMCT.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina: Water rising at one foot an hour 

NASA animation here; technical background.

NOTE Thanks to alert reader Nick.

Katrina: Questions for Inerrant Boy 

The Amazin' Froomkin makes a great start:

Among the questions being asked around Washington and the blogosphere this morning:

* If the reason Bush returned to Washington is that he is more effective here, then why didn't he come back two days ago?

* If the White House considers the return from vacation largely symbolic, then what is the symbolism of his long vacation during a war?

* Could Bush and the federal government have done more to prepare for hurricane recovery? Unlike the Asian tsunami, this hurricane was forecast days ahead of time.

* Did any of his previous budget decisions allow the hurricane to cause more damage than it might have otherwise?

* Are National Guard troops and equipment required to restore order in this country many thousands of miles away. [Interesting ".". This isn't a question, is it?]

* Will he and his administration meet this disaster quickly and effective with the appropriate civilian and military resources and manpower?

* Will the White House provide the bold leadership and vision that the nation requires?
(via WaPo)

Dunno about the last question, though. The last thing we want from President Shit Magnet, at this point, is "bold leadership" into another quagmire.

2000 Words 

This is from YubaNews. Read the captions and take a couple of minutes to just compare. And then keep in mind it was taken yesterday.

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