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September 30, 2005
GAO Rules White House Engaged in Propaganda

The bad news for the Bush administration and the GOP generally just keeps on coming. The question will soon be who in that party is not guilty of something illegal?

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.

New York Times

A Few Good Tunes

Something tells me the National Guard's recruiting troubles may soon be over.

For a limited time only, if you sign up to be contacted by a Army National Guard recruiter and to have them harass you for the rest of your prime killing years, you can get 3 free iTunes downloads!!!


national guard itunes

The National Guard looks like so much fun! Rockin' out, chatting on your celly in sassy casual wear with other upstanding white kids.. what's not to love?

You have to check a box next to this statement to get your free tunes: "Yes, I understand that the Army National Guard will send me information about great new Army National Guard benefits! I also understand that I will be contacted by a recruiter, and that's OK with me!"

Great new benefits?! Better than free tunes, dude? Sign me up!

September 29, 2005
George's Free Fall

I could play with this, or just sit and watch it, for hours.

Okay maybe 5 minutes.

falling dubya

Don't forget to grab him with his mouse when he gets stuck, or whenever you want.

September 28, 2005
DeLay Indicted!

Holy shit! Is it Christmas?

delay indicted

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that likely will force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

GOP congressional officials said the plan was for DeLay to temporarily relinquish his leadership post and Speaker Dennis Hastert will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties.

New York Times

First George Bush asks people to stop driving so much (what was THAT about?) and now this. My goodness.

September 24, 2005
Rita Hits, Bush Assesses Damage

Another killer storm slams into the Gulf Coast, but this time, George Bush is all over it.

Notice the headlines from CNN.com. Bush is not only completely involved and proactive this time, he's actually the one making the announcements about what happened.

bush rita

Really pathetic. Of course, it's good that the government is responding to this one as it should, and that all the assets were pre-positioned and they're actually assessing the damage right after it happens.

But the headlines putting Bush's name into every announcement are a pathetic ploy to save his battered image. And knowing the level of critical thinking around here, it'll probably work.

September 23, 2005
O'Reilly vs. Donahue

By popular (okay, singular) demand, I'm bumping Monday's post down with this entertaining video of Bill O'Reilly having a meltdown while interviewing Phil Donahue.

Lots of pointing and yelling. "Don't you denigrate his service!"

O'Reilly is truly a prince among assholes.

donahue oreilly

See the video at Crooks and Liars.

Or, if you're a nerd and want to be bandwidth-nice, here's a bittorrent.

September 19, 2005
What Conservatism Looks Like Now

Yes, Fareed Zakaria, yes.

Congressional spending is now completely out of control. The federal coffers are being looted for congressional patronage, and it is being done openly and without any guilt. The highway bill of 1982 had 10 "earmarked" projects--the code word for pork. The 2005 one has 6,371. The bill, written by the House transportation committee, is called the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or TEA-LU (in honor of chairman Don Young's wife, Lu). This use of public office for private whims would seem more appropriate in Saudi Arabia than America. Perhaps next year's bill will include a necklace for Mrs. Young.

The U.S. Congress is a national embarrasment, except that no one is embarrassed. There are a few men of conscience left, like John McCain, but McCain's pleas against pork seem to have absolutely no effect. They are beginning to have the feel of a quaint hobby, like collecting exotic stamps.

Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest. So we shovel out billions on "Homeland Security" to stave off nonexistent threats to Wisconsin, Wyoming and Montana while New York and Los Angeles remain unprotected. We mismanage crises with a crazy-quilt patchwork of federal, local and state authorities--and sing paeans to federalism to explain our incompetence. We denounce sensible leadership and pragmatism because they mean compromise and loss of ideological purity. Better to be right than to get Iraq right.

Leaders Who Won't Choose - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

As Barack Obama said yesterday, "we need some adult supervision on the budget." The Republicans are out of control. They're selling us all out, and our children, and our children's children. As long as the administration and its friends stay rich and happy.

Congress refuses to not make permanent even one of their tax cuts. Dropping the repeal of the estate tax would alone nearly pay for the Katrina reconstruction. But no, not an option.

So-called conservatives who support these policies had better come up with another name for themselves. You're not a conservative if you support this administration. Not even close.

Anyone have some suggestions for the renaming of conservatives? "Hypocritical Assheads" springs to mind, but that applies to too many other people too. Something more elegant...

Blame the Hippies!

Senator James "Spawn of the Devil" Inhofe (R - OK), has a new idea about why the levees in New Orleans may have failed. Because of those damned environmentalists!

A Senate committee is investigating charges that environmental groups' lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played a role in the flooding of New Orleans, documents show.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wants the information for a series of Hurricane Katrina hearings.

The Justice Department asked U.S. attorney's offices Wednesday for information on cases environmental groups brought against the corps regarding the New Orleans levees. The Clarion-Ledger obtained that internal e-mail and another saying the request was being made on the committee's behalf and asking for a response by closing time Friday.


The Senate committee is headed by James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., who is proposing legislation to give the Environmental Protection Agency the power to suspend any environmental law in responding to Hurricane Katrina. That proposal comes at the same time EPA officials in New Orleans are finding oil spills and high amounts of sewage-related bacteria and lead.

The Clarion-Ledger

This all started when John Berlau of the "Competitive Enterprise Institute" (lovely name, that.) wrote an article in the National Review suggesting that the dirty hippies were to blame.

The article chastised the Sierra Club, American Rivers and other environmental groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

But the walls that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain on the other side of the city.

The Clarion-Ledger

This simple logic —that the water that flooded New Orleans was from the lake, not the river— is apparently lost on Berlau. From his article:

The lawsuit was settled in 1997 with the Corps agreeing to hold off on some work while doing an additional two-year environmental impact study. Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain.

National Review Online

Difficult to ascertain? Really? It's difficult to ascertain whether a delay in raising levees on the Mississippi River caused the levees on Lake Pontchartrain to fail? I'm no hydro-engineer, but that seems pretty easy to ascertain to me.

No, "difficult to ascertain" is just code for "the truth would destroy my thesis" and ruin my chance to go on TV and accuse environmental groups of murder.

Berlau, appearing Thursday night on MSNBC, asked if "blood was on the hands" of environmentalists in the New Orleans flood.

When host Tucker Carlson noted it was the lake, not the Mississippi River, that flooded the city, Berlau replied, "The main point is there was a campaign in the '90s against many, pretty much all levees and dams. The mantra was let the natural rivers flow."

The Clarion-Ledger

Yeah, see, it doesn't matter that the lawsuits he's describing had absolutely nothing to do with the flooding of New Orleans, it's the mantra of these groups— it's their attitude— that somehow undermined the dikes and inundated the city. They might not have done anything in this case, but they did similar stuff elsewhere that might have caused something like this, had they done it here. It didn't cause anything similar anywhere else either, but you know, it could have, if such a thing had happened.

See how it's all their fault?

Strangely, Mr. Berlau didn't mention the fact that the White House has cut $400 million from the Army Corps of Engineers funding requests for flood control in the New Orleans area.

That can't be related.

No, it's got to be the hippies. Always getting in the way of Competitive Enterprise.

September 15, 2005
When You Gotta Go..

Apparently, this is a real photo of a note George W. wrote to Condi Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting.

bush potty break note

"Sure, Mr. President. Take the hall pass, and don't dawdle. I'm timing you."

His note seems awfully wussy and wishy-washy for such a "decisive" man. "I think I may need a bathroom break?"? That's not even a question. "Is this possible?"

Jesus, man, you're the President. Just stand on your desk and whiz on the french ambassador.

(via Marshall)

September 14, 2005
How Bush Blew It

Responsibility taking aside, Newsweek has a good piece detailing the president's failure in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

Like so many major tragedies, this was a "failure of imagination." That phrase was, I think, first used to describe the Apollo I disaster, where 3 astronauts suffered a fiery death on the launch pad during a routine test, nearly dooming the entire moon landing program. They couldn't open the hatch from the inside—nobody thought they would ever have to. And they died.

When you look back on these kinds of failures, it always seems so obvious. How could someone make a spacecraft hatch that couldn't be opened from the inside? Well, it was designed to operate in space, and they just didn't imagine the situation.

The disastrous response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina, though, was different. They did imagine this, that's the problem. There were reports written, warning issued. People knew this was possible, even likely. The failure of imagination here comes in the scope of the tragedy. Some guy behind a desk 4 years ago may have said that this could happen, but nobody really imagined what it would actually be like. It's possibly beyond the scope of our imagination, despite the fact that these things have happened before and will happen again. If we lived consciously with the idea that these kinds of things were always around the corner, we wouldn't survive. We have to pretend.

That 'we', however, only refers to individuals, to regular people, living their lives. Government is not an individual, it's a collective; or it's supposed to be. Government should be able to hold these things in its mind, because we can't. It should be able to imagine and plan for the worst, because we can't by ourselves. It takes collective imagination to say, "this might never happen, but if it does and we're not prepared, the consequences are too horrible to consider" and to be prepared. It takes collective imagination to see a storm coming and set supplies and relief at the ready before they are needed. The collective imagination of the American public did this. We all sat staring at our TVs, wondering why nobody was doing anything, why nobody had done anything. But our government, our official collective, failed. It was too wrapped up in itself, and forgot that it represents not itself, but the rest of us.

The real relief from this storm has come from the people, not from the government. We have done more and given more than they ever could. We see ourselves in the victims, our leaders don't. Our leader, singular, specifically, does not. He has never struggled for anything nor been threatened in any real way. He doesn't watch the news, he doesn't see what his country is. He doesn't want to know, and then it's too late. Thousands die.

It's time to clean house. It's time to get back to the real thing. Government by the people, for the people, is really in danger of perishing from this earth, or at least from this country. Too dramatic? Maybe. They thought the reports of what would happen when the levees broke were too dramatic too.

September 13, 2005
Bush.. gasp! .. Takes Responsibility

Well there's something you don't see.... ever.

Remember the date! For possibly the first time in his life, George W. Bush has uttered the words, "I take responsibility," also simultaneously setting a personal precedent for even acknowledging that anything has gone wrong in the first place.

Our little president is growing up! Why, by the time he leaves office, he may have developed the moral compass of a teenager.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday said he takes responsibility for the federal government's failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.


September 12, 2005
Government Drops Cenorship Effort

Is it just me, or is the mere existence of this story profoundly disturbing?

Rather than fight a lawsuit by CNN, the federal government abandoned its effort Saturday to prevent the media from reporting on the recovery of the dead in New Orleans.

Joint Task Force Katrina "has no plans to bar, impede or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts," said Col. Christian E. deGraff, representing the task force.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order Friday against a "zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security director.

In explaining the ban, Ebbert said, "we don't think that's proper" to let members of the media view the bodies.


Weird, I don't remember the "unless it seems improper" clause in the first amendment.

Anyway, it's good that this didn't work, but scary that it was even considered.

September 10, 2005
Google Katrina Maps

Google, in their seemingly infinite slickness, has added recent satellite imagery of New Orleans to Google Maps and Google Earth.

If you live(d) in New Orleans, you could probably find your house and see how it faired.





Brownie Sort of Not Really Fired

And there you go..

Mr. Brown, who was removed from his Gulf Coast duties on Friday, though not from his post as FEMA's chief, is the first casualty of the political furor generated by the government's faltering response to the hurricane. With Democrats and Republicans caustically criticizing the performance of his agency, and with the White House under increasing attack for populating FEMA's top ranks with politically connected officials who lack disaster relief experience, Mr. Brown had become a symbol of President Bush's own hesitant response.

New York Times

The rest of the article is pretty interesting, detailing how bush received a report on Thursday of last week explaining the desperate situation at the New Orleans Convention Center, after having received no such news from his leaders on the ground.

The news account was the first that the president and his top advisers had heard not only of the conditions at the convention center but even that there were people there at all.


"The frustration throughout the week was getting good, reliable information," said the aide, who demanded anonymity so as not to be identified in disclosing inner workings of the White House. "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult."

See, now that seems weird. Because every time I turned on a TV, I saw direct evidence of what was happening in New Orleans. It might not have been an "official" source, but when a camera points at people dying in the streets, and reporters are increasingly frantic about the conditions they're seeing right in front of their faces, I'd say that should probably be "reliable" enough to get your ass moving.

Bush, of course, one day later, publicly commended Brown for doing a "heck of a job" and I think he should have to answer for that. The initial response was late, and then even when they found out that the situation was being hopelessly bungled, it still took A WEEK to discipline the person possibly most responsible. A week in which hundreds probably died. Why the delay? If Bush knew on Thursday, why did he praise Brown on Friday and leave him in position, not to mention have his people defend him, for another week?

In the end, they've done the absolute least that they should do. Brown has been called back to Washington, he hasn't been fired. They're still saying they need him in Washington for other potential disasters, as if this was just a routine shuffling, and had nothing to do with his performance in this crisis.

The management of the mismanagement is being mismanaged. Getting Brown out of the way so people who have a clue can help the victims is a start, but it's not enough. This does not begin and end with Brown.

September 9, 2005
After the Flood

This American Life has a special episode on Hurricane Katrina this weekend.

Where you can listen in your area.

In the first five minutes, Ira Glass quickly debunks the idea (peddled by the Secretary of Homeland Security, among many others) that the federal government had no authority to act and preposition assets until called to do so by state and local authorities. By declaring a state of emergency in Louisiana, president Bush had given the federal government all the authority it wanted. Moreover, there are new powers under something called the "National Response Plan" where the Secretary of Homeland Security can deploy federal assets even without ANY declaration of emergency by anyone, local, state, or federal.

The rest of the show is dedicated to giving voice to people who actually lived through this nightmare.

Absolutely required listening.

FEMA's Brown More Incompetent Than Previously Thought

We all know that FEMA director Michael Brown's previous job, from which he was dismissed, was as an official on the association of arabian horse fucking, or something like that.

But we've been told that he had some emergency management experience. His biography on FEMA's website, for example, says, "His background in state and local government also includes serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight..."

Well, turns out that's a load of arabian horseshit.

However, a city spokeswoman told the magazine Brown had actually worked as "an assistant to the city manager."

"The assistant is more like an intern," Claudia Deakins told the magazine. "Department heads did not report to him." Time posted the article on its Web site late on Thursday.


So he was not an "assistant city manager," he was am "assistant to the city manager." It might seem like a subtle difference, and it is, but an important one. An assistant city manager is a manager. An assistant to the city manager is an assistant.

And he's not alone in being a completely unqualified douche..

The Washington Post reported on Friday that five of eight top FEMA officials had come to their jobs with virtually no experience in handling disasters. The agency's top three leaders, including Brown, had ties to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign or the White House advance operation.


Now we just sit back and wait for him to get the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Picture of the Day

Bush makes up for having to cut his vacation short..

bush on vacation

September 8, 2005
"Go Fuck Yourself, Mr. Cheney"


Dick Cheney in Mississippi prattling on about something or other on live television, when a passerby yells a phrase the vice president is all too familiar with.

Click image to watch.


Clip Show

Keith Olbermann put together a nice clip reel of who said what when. A nice thing to refer to as they all now proceed to lie their fucking asses off about it.

Click the image to watch the video (6.5MB Quicktime).


The Politics of Relief

Today's Progress Report from the Centers for American Progress is pretty stunning.

Since I know how people feel about clicking links and reading stuff, I'll excerpt a big chunk here. All you have to do is let your eyes continue downward...

Today, Congress will consider a $52 billion supplemental spending bill for the victims of Hurricane Katrina -- money that is desperately needed to help rebuild cities and lives. That hasn't stopped some from playing politics with the money. The Boston Globe reports that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) are angling to "give Mississippi first dibs in the post-Hurricane Katrina grab for federal disaster funds." They may be successful because the three form a political triumvirate that "packs more political muscle than the storm-ravaged states of Louisiana and Alabama." Now is the time to put politics aside and get the money where it's needed most.

The House of Representatives, at the urging of the conservative leadership, voted "to limit floor consideration of the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina to just forty minutes." The rule governing consideration of the bill will "prevent any amendments from being offered." According to Rep. Louis Slaughter (D-NY), prior to precluding the possibility of amendments, "no one had yet to even see a copy of the legislation.." Slaughter said, "It is this very lack of accountability in government which ensured that our disaster response would be a bigger disaster than the hurricane itself. Yet here they go again, completely unfazed in their determination to eliminate debate, consideration and accountability from the Congress and the Federal government."

THE SWIFT BOATING OF GOV. BLANCO: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) wrote a letter urging Speaker Dennis Hastert to "refrain from directly appropriating any funds from the public treasury to either the state of Louisiana or the city of New Orleans." Tancredo said the money should be withheld as punishment for the "mind-boggling incompetence" of Louisiana Gov.  Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in the "response to this disaster." Tancredo did not mention that on August 27, President Bush directed "the Department of Homeland Security [and] Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency."

Progress Report

There's also a good bit about the contrast between the Bush administration's response to the hurricanes that struck Florida last year (coincidentally, there was an presidential election going on at the time, and OH!, the governor is his brother) and their response to Katrina. Worth a read.

Stewart Knows Best

Once again, nobody really says it better than Jon Stewart. If you haven't been watching the Daily Show this week, do it.

jon stewart

Watch the Daily Show's first segment on the hurricane (they were on hiatus the week of the storm) here.

When you're done watching that, watch yesterday's opening segment, Meet the Fuckers.

Brilliant stuff. My favorite part is when they show clip after clip of Republicans saying this is not the time to think about who is to blame for the disaster, followed by clip after clip of the same people blaming the state and local governments.

If you're complaining that people should not be "playing the blame game," chances are, YOU'RE TO BLAME.

September 7, 2005
The Onion Does The Hurricane

Often biting satire is the most effective means to highlight the awful truth.

Refugees Moved From Sewage-Contaminated Superdome To Hellhole Of Houston

HOUSTON—Evacuees from the overheated, filth-encrusted wreckage of the New Orleans Superdome were bussed to the humid, 110-degree August heat and polluted air of Houston last week, in a move that many are resisting. "Please, God, not Houston. Anyplace but Houston," said one woman, taking shelter under an overpass. "The food there is awful, and the weather is miserable. And the traffic—it's like some engineer was making a sick joke." Authorities apologized for transporting survivors to a city "barely better in any respect," but said the blistering-hot, oil-soaked Texas city was in fact slightly better, and that casualties due to gunfire would be no worse.

White Foragers Report Threat Of Black Looters

NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.

Bush Urges Victims To Gnaw On Bootstraps For Sustenance

WASHINGTON, DC—In an emergency White House address Sunday, President Bush urged all people dying from several days without food and water in New Orleans to "tap into the American entrepreneurial spirit" and gnaw on their own bootstraps for sustenance. "Government handouts are not the answer," Bush said. "I believe in smaller government, which is why I have drastically cut welfare and levee upkeep. I encourage you poor folks to fill yourself up on your own bootstraps. Buckle down, and tear at them like a starving animal." Responding to reports that many Katrina survivors have lost everything in the disaster, Bush said, "Only when you work hard and chew desperately on your own footwear can you live the American dream."

The Onion

Astrodome Pictures

A friend of mine is in Houston at the Astrodome and has sent along unbelievable images.





September 6, 2005
Bush to Investigate Hisself

Bush vows to get to the bottom of his own administration's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.

I wonder if he'll find that he's done anything wrong? The suspense is killing me.

Also, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard B. Myers reported from cloud coo-coo land that "there was no delay" in sending National Guard troops to assist in the region.

I guess it just takes four days to get to New Orleans from their bases in the same state.

California Legislature Passes Gay Marriage Bill

Yay. Some good news for a change.

Now it's up to the Governator. What will he do?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Legislature on Tuesday became the first legislative body in the country to approve same-sex marriages, as gay-rights advocates overcame two earlier defeats in the Assembly.The 41-35 vote sends the bill to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had no comment on the bill when it cleared the Senate last week. His office did not immediately respond late Tuesday to a call seeking comment.


Geraldo to Feds: Let The People Go

Pretty amazing video from FOX News of all places, from last Friday.

Watch as Sean Hannity desperately tries to make things seem better, while his correspondents are showing him what real desperation looks like.

(click image to watch video - quicktime format)


The World Watches

The BBC has a rundown of the world press' reaction to our response to Katrina.

Potemkin Photo Op

A nice little recap of the amazing convoy of lies that was Bush's visit to the Gulf Coast on Friday.

The Potemkin Photo Op.

What an unbelievable embarrassment. While the staged backdrops erected for the domestic audience are being torn down, foreign news agencies watch in disbelief, and report what they see back home.

Desperately needed supplies languish on trucks while all helicopter traffic is grounded while the president is in the area. His life is far more important than anyone else's, even when his life is in no danger.

Bush supporters? Are you out there? Any responses? What the fuck?

The Big Lie

By now we've all heard about how the disastrous (lack of) response to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina was all the fault of the local authorities, certainly NOT the federal government. The benevolent federal government was sitting by with all the help anyone could ever need if only they would just ask for it. They really, really, wanted to help, but jeez, their hands were just tied!


From the White House website, dated August 27, 2005..

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

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

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

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

whitehouse.gov - Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

Emphasis mine.

Show Us What You've Got
The US authorities were also castigated by British bus driver Ged Scott, from Wallasey, Merseyside, who was on holiday in the New Orleans area.

He stayed in the Ramada Hotel during and after the devastation with his wife, Sandra, and seven-year-old son Ronan. At one stage, Mr Scott, 36, had to wade through filthy water to barricade the hotel doors against looters.

He told the Liverpool Daily Post: "I couldn't describe how bad the authorities were. Just little things like taking photographs of us, as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own little snapshot albums.

"At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying 'Can you help us?' and the policemen said 'Show us what you've got' and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts. When the girls refused, they said 'Fine' and motored off down the road in their boat."


Remembering what city they were in, the proper response would have been, "Show us the beads!"

Of course, this isn't funny, but neither should it be taken to be representative. It's an isolated anecdote, reported by a single person. It should in no way diminish the absolutely heroic work that thousands of emergency workers and volunteers are doing down there. Despite unbelievable organizational and institutional failures, they're still working, doing whatever they can.

Beaurocracy Has Committed Murder

Heart-wrenching video of an emotional emergency management official on Meet the Press this past Sunday.

Russert does his best to shift all blame to the local and state level, since that's the script these days.

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People"

This has been around for a while, but I finally saw the clip.

During the "Concert for Hurrican Relief" last week, rapper Kanye West had some choice, unscripted words.

Click the image below to watch the video.

kanye west

Poor Mike Meyers doesn't know what to do, so he just sticks to the script.

State of Emergency

It's been reported, and I even heard this over breakfast the other day, that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco had failed to declare a state of emergency in her state until Wednesday of last week. This delay is invariably used to excuse the federal government's slow response. Another version of the "we would have helped if anyone had asked" canard.

Turns out, not only is it ridiculous in its conclusions, it's false and a lie from the start. And guess where the lie originated? You got it.. an unidentified "senior Bush official."

It turns out she did declare a state of emergency, on August 26th. Still, major news outlets are now reporting that she didn't.

The squirming (out) begins in earnest.

Josh Marshall has more.

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

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this evening on American Public Media's "Marketplace" program.
She was part of a group in Houston today at the Astrodome that included her husband and former President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,the current president, to head fundraising efforts for the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were also present.

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

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

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

Editor & Publisher

September 3, 2005
Congratulations Jeanhee & Luke!

And happy birthday, baby formerly known as Huck! Can't wait to meet you.


More photos...

September 2, 2005
Changing Tide

And just like that, the media climate shifts as the relief finally arrives. It's not surprising that the stories are now all about the nearly week-late relief effort, and it's great to see these poor people finally getting something even close to the help they need.

But I don't think anyone is going to forget the past four days and the shock of seeing such a thing happen to an American city while our leadership appeared to not have any idea what to do. I know I won't.

Images of the president hugging flood victims today, well those I can't wait to forget.

bush hugs

Bush also had some important words of condolence to one victim of this tragedy in particular..

"The good news," said the president, "is that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's gong to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Huffington Report

Holy crap.

By the way, here's audio of Mayor Ray Nagin's radio interview I mentioned. Worth a listen.


The Houston Chronicle has reprinted an article from 2001 that's a bit, how do you say, chilling.

New Orleans is sinking.

And its main buffer from a hurricane, the protective Mississippi River delta, is quickly eroding away, leaving the historic city perilously close to disaster.

So vulnerable, in fact, that earlier this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country.

The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco, and, almost prophetically, a terrorist attack on New York City.

The New Orleans hurricane scenario may be the deadliest of all.

In the face of an approaching storm, scientists say, the city's less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston.

Economically, the toll would be shattering.

Southern Louisiana produces one-third of the country's seafood, one-fifth of its oil and one-quarter of its natural gas. The city's tourism, lifeblood of the French Quarter, would cease to exist. The Big Easy might never recover.

And, given New Orleans' precarious perch, some academics wonder if it should be rebuilt at all.

Houston Chronicle

And there you have it.

Of course, all of this is in hindsight. While I am as disgusted as anyone that funding was diverted from the worthy goal of protecting one of our oldest and most interesting cities to the goal of destroying one of the world's oldest cities halfway around the world and giving rich people some of their tax money back, it probably still wouldn't have been enough. Sometimes disasters will happen, no matter what we do to prepare. We can't prevent everything we can anticipate, but it seems reasonable to put some priority on the top three. Of course, when you spend billions on something that might happen one day, people will complain that you're not spending it on current, actual problems.

What's really shameful is not that this wasn't prevented, but that it was handled so insanely badly in the days after. It was clear to me on Monday that this was an unmitigated disaster, but the government didn't seem to come to that realization until today, 4 days later. We may not be able to prevent these kinds of disasters every time, but we can be prepared for the aftermath. Seems to me like that's what our government should have been doing since 9/11, preparing for the next time. Wasn't that the whole point of Homeland Security and all that crap? They didn't really think they were going to be able to prevent all future catastrophes, did they?

Maybe they did. Their capacity to make me readjust my understanding of the limits of human ineptitude and selfishness truly knows no bounds.

And for you defensive partisans out there, by 'they' I generally mean almost all politicians, blue or red, but the group we have in charge right now are surely the gold standard for assheadedness.

Looting vs. Finding

As the person who originally posted this juxtaposition on Flickr notes, it's going to far to attribute racism to any one person or group of people based on this, but it's certainly interesting in how a simple word choice can frame the response to situations like this. And worth considering how different groups are likely to be portrayed as they struggle to survive.

looting vs. finding

My take is that it is telling, but nothing we don't already know. The same actions taken by groups with or without power are routinely judged differently. But basically, if you're taking food to feed your family, you're not a looter, you're a survivor. If you're taking a stereo and/or you're heavily armed and shooting at rescue workers, you're a looter, and worse.

There's a raging debate going on on Flickr concerning this photo.

Cooper Bitch Slaps Senator

Anderson Cooper, one of the better things on CNN, which is admittedly not saying a whole lot, has been in New Orleans since this thing began and has had just about enough. Last night he said to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana what everybody around the country has been screaming at their televisions all along

COOPER: Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?

LANDRIEU: Anderson, there will be plenty of time to discuss all of those issues, about why, and how, and what, and if. … Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. … I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts.

Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard — maybe you all have announced it — but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating.

COOPER: … I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap — you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now. Because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats, because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here?


New Orleans Mayor to Feds: "Get off your asses"

ray nagin

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been fairly amazing in this crisis, coming off as completely honest and non-political, telling it like he sees it, and demanding that the rest of the government do the same.

This transcript of an interview he did with a local radio station is amazing. He's pulling no punches at all. Now watch as — wonder of wonders! — people rally to the side of the politician who TELLS THE TRUTH.

The interviewer mentions that some are saying that the federal government didn't come in right away because they weren't specifically requested to do so, as if they were all ready to help, but the proper paperwork hadn't been filed yet.

Nagin responds..

NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?

You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?

And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.

NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.

Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.

And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.

WWL: What can we do here?

NAGIN: Keep talking about it.

WWL: We'll do that. What else can we do?

NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

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.

Bush yesterday described the response thus far as "not acceptable." He's got that right. Of course what he didn't do was acknowledge that this unacceptable response is largely due to his complete inaction for the first 3 or 4 days of this catastrophe. He did nothing until it was far too late.

September 1, 2005
Then and Now

new orleans

New Orleans as seen from a satellite. Left: March 9. Right, August 31.


The news from New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast is simply unbelievable.

The president has pledged "vast assistance" but where is it? These people need help NOW, not tomorrow, not sometime next week. How is it that the wealthiest, most powerful and resource rich country in the world can't deal with this?

People are dying in the streets, looters are stealing everything and anything with impunity, and it seems like all we hear is people talking about what a disaster it is, but nothing about what the hell they're going to do about it.

And Bush, well, this may just be the most shameful and despicable moment of his already epically disastrous presidency.