Bob's Links and Rants

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Globaloney man moonlights as genocide man

Flat-earther Tom Friedman thinks the time is approaching when the US should just up and help 3/4 of Iraqis massacre the other 1/4--some six million people:
Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won’t, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. We must not throw more good American lives after good American lives for people who hate others more than they love their own children.
--via The Poorman.

Of course, there are precedents. Prescott Bush was funding the Nazis while the US was arming the Soviet Union back in WWII. We armed BOTH SIDES of the bloody Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's, helping to kill hundreds of thousands of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. We encouraged Iraq to invade Kuwait, and then bombed the crap out of it for doing so, and then immediately encouraged the Shiites to rise up and kill their Sunni oppressors, and then abandoned them to their deaths when they did so. (Watch Three Kings if you haven't done so--great movie.) So now the Bangaloron thinks the time is approaching when we should abandon the insane enterprise for which he was such a vocal cheerleader--but not before making sure that we leave millions dead in our wake.

Old joke du jour

Jonathan Schwarz says he used to tell this joke:
The Soviet Union collapsed because they only had one communist party. They'd still be around if they'd been smart enough to have two communist parties that were exactly alike on every issue except abortion.

New Orleans--much more than Mardi Gras

While most of the hurricane coverage has been about FEMA screwups, the plight of the refugees, and the effects on gasoline prices, the WSWS points out that the storms are having a huge impact on American agriculture. Food is one of the few things, along with jobs, that this country still exports in large quantities. Some 65% of US grain exports typically leave the country through New Orleans, but much of the port infrastructure, for both river and ocean-going traffic has been damaged, and most of the people needed to operate it are no longer in New Orleans. In addition, food production has been directly affected, with millions of chickens and tens of thousands heads of cattle killed by the storms, sugar, rice, dairy and other farms wiped out, and most of the shrimping and fishing fleets decimated. The inability to export this year's harvest will go right back up the Mississippi to the grain fields of the Midwest, leaving farmers with yields they can't sell.

There's other scary things to read about in the article, which is well-written like most WSWS articles. They even left off their typical last paragraph about the only solution being for the workers of the world to unite for this article!

Dozens dead; Liar released

Car bombs in Balad, Iraq killed at least 60 people and wounded at least 70 others on Thursday, while another bomb killed five American soldiers in Ramadi.

Meanwhile, NY Times propagandist Judith Miller, whose lies contributed greatly to public support for starting the bloody war in Iraq, was released from jail for agreeing to testify to a grand jury. She claims she received a release to talk from her source, who claims he gave her the release months ago.

Let's hope her testimony puts the whole Bush administration in jail for a long time. Let's also hope she perjures herself or in some other way ends up back in jail for a long time. She has lots of blood on her hands.

Low rates, quagmire to quagmire!

From Doonesbury.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

When the bubbles burst

An interesting discussion is going on over at The Oil Drum about whether Americans will be willing or able to respond to rising energy prices. Will high prices result in "demand destruction," causing people to trade in their SUV's and exurban houses for a less wasteful lifestyle? A couple of commenters suggest that even if the consumer mentality can be overcome, there may still be some huge obstacles in their way:
[Marko] If [millions of Americans] have blown their credit, and they still owe $20,000 on that SUV, nobody is going to give them a car loan to buy a replacement. Likewise, if they and millions of others are having trouble making payments on their $800,000 mortgage for a McMansion that is now worth $350,000, no one is going to issue them a mortgage for a smaller house closer to their job. In fact, they might have trouble finding a landlord who will rent to them with that kind of credit record.
[SW] I hope we are beginning to see some reality come back into the discussion regarding the impact of high gas prices. All those who have been marveling at how unaffected the consumer has been really needs to consider the fact that so many small transactions are now done by credit. This acts like a capacitor. When these expenses are inelastic, the only change that is felt for long periods of time is a gradual increase in the balance on the credit card. Not so bad when that can be periodically wiped out by refinancing the house. If and when that source of free money dries up the whole ponzi scheme crashes down.
When the levee breaks, it's a gonna be bad.

They're back!

The fires in Southern California, that is:

I'm guessing that a lot of the firefighters in the California National Guard are still in Iraq.

From Chris Britt.

The hypocritical oaf

Frist, tell no truth:

From Dan Wasserman.

From Don Wright.

That's why she's a senator

In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently. On Thursday, [Gen. George] Casey said only one battalion is ready.

"It doesn't feel like progress," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
-- AP

Torture Nation

Read Jeanne d'Arc's post on the latest evidence that torturing of prisoners by the US military is widespread, systematic, and condoned from on high--until you get caught or blow the whistle.

Energy savings in perspective

I'm proud of and happy with the solar shingles powering my house. They work well, providing me with about 6 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per day, enough for my needs on most days. But the system was quite expensive (over $20,000), and I installed it only after taking a lot of conservation measures--compact fluorescent light bulbs, power strips on always-on phantom loads, and so on. Still, the savings from both the conservation efforts and the solar shingles pale in comparison to the immense energy savings available from driving less.

One gallon of gasoline contains 36.6 kwh of energy, while a gallon of diesel fuel contains 40.7 kwh. (source) So, if you eliminate one twenty-mile car trip, you are probably saving more energy than I save in a day with all of my conservation efforts and expensive solar-power system!

This fine article (via Cyndy), points out the fundamental energy problems with our car culture, problems that won't be solved even by hybrids or biodiesel or hydrogen. Excerpt:
Consider the energy required to move a 130-pound human body by foot as compared to moving that same body the same distance seated behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound SUV. The average human can hit about 5 miles-per-hour in a brisk walk while the typical car averages 40 mph (city and freeway). While it is true that you can move eight times faster inside a two-ton vehicle, accomplishing this feat requires burning around 1,900 times as much energy (and that’s not factoring in friction, which increases with speed). This should tell you something about the fundamental insanity of depending on gas-fueled cars in an oil-starved future.

And, it’s not just the oil. Even if powered by biodiesel, hydrogen or sunbeams, the private automobile is still part of an unsustainable urban system that requires massive networks of streets, freeways, and parking structures to serve congested cities and far-flung suburbs. Driving a Prius hybrid simply makes it easier for people to live farther from the rest of their lives (while seducing them into thinking that they are “doing something for the environment”). We don’t want to face this truth because it implies too much change. Autoworkers want to keep their jobs and Sierra Clubers want to be free to drive 40 miles to experience nature whenever they feel like it.
It has been encouraging to see a lot more riders on the bus in the past month. A lot of it is UM students who have returned from summer break, but there are way more of them on the bus than there were in the spring. I can't always get my favorite seat anymore, but I'm encouraged that my bus route is going to survive (it used to be the least-used route in the AATA system).

My solar-power system is a luxury. The biggest and easiest personal/household energy savings are cheap or free, and most will even save you money.

Dem bashing is in

A good thing, too! Arianna Huffington's article yesterday, about John Kerry's recent use of Bushie talking points to argue that progress is being made in Iraq, is one of many I've seen recently (not counting the ones I've written myself). I don't think the Democrats can win in '06 or '08 with Kerry-Clinton policies of supporting the wars. But even if they do, we'll have lost, because they'll carry on with the same stupid and criminal policies (possibly better managed). Take a stand, oppose the wars, oppose "globalization," oppose John Friggin' Roberts, for Chrissakes!

To really fix this country, BOTH corporate parties need to go. If that's not going to happen, we at least need the opposition party to oppose.

The Hammer gets nailed

The WSWS explains the DeLay tactics, which basically involved using the Repug National Committee to launder illegal corporate donations to candidates for state legislature. Once these Repug seats in Austin were bought, they were used to jerrymander Texas congressional districts, which turned a 21-11 Democratic majority into a 17-15 Repug majority.

UM Solar Car finishes third

The University of Michigan's Momentum solar car finished third in the race across Australia behind the Dutch Nuna 3 team and the Australian Aurora team.

Getting colder

Let's take a look at those natural gas prices again:

The $13.907 is yesterday's close. The price as of 9:51 today is $14.37--a new record high. Gasoline futures are back up to $2.35 a gallon, meaning you'll see $3 at the pump again real soon, if you haven't already. Crude prices aren't rising as dramatically, probably because the loss of refining capacity due to Katrina and Rita has left some oil with no place to go. Still, $66.84 would have been a record high less than two months ago.

High gasoline prices are being blamed for a record high rate of late payments on credit cards, and this is before the winter heating crunch:
Heating a typical home with natural gas in colder parts of the country is now expected to cost $1,568 this winter, up 64 percent from $957 last year, according to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, which coordinates energy relief for lower-income families.

The news is not much better for homes using heating oil. This winter's heating bill could rise by nearly a third, to $1,666, from $1,263 last winter, the group said. Its forecasts are based on estimates made after Hurricane Katrina but before Rita.
(Some links via Politics in the Zeros)

Iraq Veterans Against the War speak out

This article has some strong quotes from Iraq vets who were at last Saturday's march in Washington. Sample:
One uniformed young man with a southern accent said he'd been a military driver trucking supplies from Kuwait to many destinations in Iraq.

"We went in there for weapons of mass destruction. There are no weapons of mass destruction - I think that's perfectly clear. So we have no reason to be there. Plain and simple."

In addition to the Iraq Veterans Against the War, a number of active-duty troops attended Saturday's demonstration in uniform, and told the press of their opposition to the war in Iraq.

A tough-looking regular Army sergeant in camouflage fatigues preferred not to give his name because he was still in the service, but said he was just back from eight months in Baghdad.

"I don't know what we're fighting for over there. It's not a good cause. They don't appreciate us when we're there. They look at us as enemies, not as friends. So it's kind of hard when you're trying to help the enemies, and not the friends."

He shook his head with a sad smile.

Chad Soloman, the Ohio national guardsman in IVAW, probably spoke for many of the Iraq veterans at the demonstration:

"It's a war based on greed and selfishness and ignorance and incompetence, and I just see no reason why we should be continuing it. So we're here to show that not all veterans are supportive of the war, that some of us feel it's wrong, and that we need to take a stand against it."
I suggest we work towards an America where, if one of these vets decides to run for office 20 or 30 years from now, his or her participation in the march will be a point in their favor, while having participated in Operation Iraqi Destruction will be a point against. As long as warmaking is glorified and peacemaking is ridiculed, we're screwed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Abiotic Oil

I was reading a post by Jonathan at the Past Peak blog about the apparent nearness of peak oil. He got a pretty negative comment from an anonymous contributor who suggested that Jonathan's forecasts of peak oil's imminence were clouded by his apparent desire that it be true (something I'm guilty of, too, I'm sure). Anyway, I thought it was pretty harsh, so I rushed to Jonathan's defense. This led to an exchange of comments between anonymous which may not have stopped yet. Along the way, I learned of the concept of "abiotic oil," the idea that oil isn't a fossil fuel at all but results from inorganic reactions at high temperature and pressure deep below the earth's surface. Apparently there has been lots of research into this in Russia for over 50 years. Anonymous referred me to a couple of articles on the topic, one of which extrapolated the idea that oil is produced abiotically into the idea that it is therefore much more abundant than we think, and that it is even a "renewable" resource. This extrapolation is presented with very little evidence (one oil field in the Gulf of Mexico that seems to refill itself), and used to suggest therefore that peak oil isn't real--it's just a hoax being pulled by the oil companies and countries to drive prices higher.

Anyway, there's a lot more detail, including links to the articles I mentioned above and a lot more ranting by yours truly, over at Past Peak--if you're interested (or not).

DeLay Indicted!

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas grand jury, according to Travis County clerk's office.
That's a flash headline at the CNN web site. I imagine more will be coming shortly.

[Update] Here's the NY Times article.

Good Peak Oil Site

I just came across The Oil Drum: A Community Discussion about Peak Oil. Much more current than most of the peak oil sites I've seen--if something happened yesterday, it's there.

Record damage to oil rigs

From the Financial Times:
Hurricane Rita has caused more damage to oil rigs than any other storm in history and will force companies to delay drilling for oil in the US and as far away as the Middle East, initial damage assessments show.
“Based on what we have right now, it appears that drilling contractors and rig owners took a big hit from Rita,” said Tom Marsh of ODS-Petrodata. “The path Katrina took was through the mature areas of the US Gulf where there are mainly oil [production] platforms. Rita came to the west where there is a lot of [exploratory] rig activity.”

Ken Sill of Credit Suisse First Boston said: “Early reports indicate numerous rigs are missing, destroyed or have suffered serious damage and several companies have yet to report. Rita may set an all-time record.”

25 Questions

Author Mike Davis and New Orleans architect Anthony Fontenot have 25 questions about New Orleans and Katrina. A sampling:
14. Was the failure to adequately stock food, water, potable toilets, cots, and medicine at the Louisiana Superdome a deliberate decision -- as many believe -- to force poorer residents to leave the city?

17. Why didn't the Navy or Coast Guard immediately airdrop life preservers and rubber rafts in flooded districts? Why wasn't such life-saving equipment stocked in schools and hospitals?
Xymphora is intrigued by question 2:
2. Who owned the huge barge that was catapulted through the wall of the Industrial Canal, killing hundreds in the Lower Ninth Ward -- the most deadly hit-and-run accident in U.S. history?
Xymphora suggests:
The reason this story isn't getting more play is that the politically-connected corporation that negligently failed to secure its barge would be facing a multi-billion dollar liability claim. You can add that claim to the fact that the storm surge wasn't high enough to go over the floodwalls, meaning that they failed due to negligent construction, presumably due to cost-cutting by corrupt subcontractors employed by the Army Corps of Engineers (for some Army boondoggles, see here). This story is just starting. Watch for Bush to try to sneak in some kind of liability limitation to protect the guilty.

From Pat Bagley. I saw the video clip of W mentioning conservation--it really WAS difficult for him to get it out.

Dumb ideas in Vegas should stay in Vegas

From Jim Day, of the Las Vegas Review Journal.

I'll confess that I agree somewhat with this viewpoint, which seems to be a fairly common one. Some government insurance programs and bailouts do encourage people and businesses to continue to build in risky areas--flood plains, hurricane zones, the firey-mudslidey hills of Southern California, and so on. Government also has repeatedly bailed out corporations, or at least their reckless leaders, time and again for absurdly risky behavior--Lockheed, Chrysler, the airlines, the S & L's, insurance companies, etc. Where the line should be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable risk in each case is certainly debatable, as is the extent to which government should step in to help individuals or corporations.

In this case, however, what is really absurd is for someone from Las Vegas to be pointing a finger. Without taking massive amounts of water from the Colorado River, parching millions of downstream acres in Arizona, California and Mexico, and buying almost 60% of its electricity from outside sources (and the 40% generated locally comes from coal, oil and natural gas), Sin City wouldn't exist at all--and probably won't in 30 years. The Gulf Coast may be occasionally wiped out by hurricanes, but it also has abundant arable land, fresh water, and has a survivable (if a bit warm) climate year round (except for those hurricanes). Las Vegas has none of that--without massive influxes of outside energy and water (and the billions the government spent on Hoover Dam) it almost completely unlivable. That it is one of America's fastest-growing cities is totally absurd--far more than is rebuilding a house in New Orleans or Biloxi.

Here in Michigan we've got water, good farmland, and excellent transportation networks, including the Great Lakes. We've also got cold winters and the occasional tornado. There are some risks involved wherever you live, and they should probably be taken into account to some degree in public policy. But for someone in Las Friggin' Vegas to suggest that people are stupid to build homes in the Gulf Coast region--well, something about glass houses and throwing stones, I'd say.

Ted Rall captured this concept pretty well a few weeks ago:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Locals swamp evacuee job fair

From the Detroit News:
A job fair for victims of Hurricane Katrina was overwhelmed Monday by victims of an economic storm, as unemployed Metro Detroiters searched for work of their own.

The job fair at the main Detroit Public Library was billed as a means for Michigan companies to help evacuees now temporarily living in Metro Detroit. But as hundreds of Detroit residents lined up in the library hallway Monday morning, the event instead became a symbol of the help needed by the city's own residents.

More than 80 percent of the nearly 400 people filling out applications at the Katrina job fair were from Metro Detroit.

"There are a lot of people who need jobs," said Bianca Dave, 23, of Detroit, as she filled out four job applications. "They (Katrina victims) need jobs. But I need a job. Bad."
I recently finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. She investigates the nightmare world of white-collar job searching--job fairs, coaches, boot camps, faith-based networking (notworking), books and web sites. Job seekers are continually encouraged to blame their job-finding problems on themselves and only themselves, rather than the corporations or the politicians or the idiot globalization pundits (yes, I mean you, Tom Friedman) who think that a system of borrowing foreign money to import foreign stuff made by low-wage foreign workers to be sold at cut-rate prices by a cut-rate sales force is just the only way to run an economy in the 21st century.

It's the Repug dream world--what few unions are left are now scabbing each other, knowing that relentless, unending unemployment is the only alternative. Ehrenreich suggests, more or less, that white-collar job seekers stop blaming themselves and organize to change this insane "system."

Any Excuse in a Storm

Digby has a long post summarizing various reports which show that the reports of serious violence--murders, rapes and beatings--in the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center in the week following Katrina were almost entirely fictional. People died because relief did not arrive--kept away in large part because of these lies.

Things that make you go hmmmm....

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”
Pat was Pat Tillman, the football player who gave up his lucrative job as an Arizona Cardinal safety to fight in the "war on terror." He was briefly a hero for the wingnuts, having supposedly braved al Qaeda and Taliban and, oh probably Iraqi and Nazi and Japanese and Commie and Redcoat and Klingon fire while charging fearlessly up a hill in Afghanistan. Except it turned out that he was killed by friendly fire:
The soldier next to him testified: “I could hear the pain in his voice as he called out, ‘Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat f—ing Tillman, dammit.” He said this over and over until he stopped,” having been hit by three bullets in the forehead, killing him.
The Army covered up the friendly-fire part of his death while Rummy and aWol and the other wingnuts played him up as a hero. Like their earlier attempts to make a heroine out of Jessica Lynch, the lies eventually got exposed. At least some of them--Digby suggests that Tillman may have been fragged, possibly because of his anti-Bush stance.

Did you know that Tillman's favorite author was, wait for it--Noam Chomsky?

(The quotes and most of the background in this post come from The Cunning Realist.)

A cold winter

Up 150% in the past year. Half of all homes in America heat with natural gas, including mine. I'm looking into adding solar air heating panels to my house, and maybe getting a higher-efficiency furnace as well.

Drug Syndicate

Jonathan Schwartz at A Tiny Revolution asks: "Which U.S. president's family fortune came from opium?"

Another reader said it was Calvin Coolidge, to which Jonathan replied that he had another president in mind.

After a little googling, I begin to wonder if the question should be "Which US president's family fortune DIDN'T come from opium?" But if I can believe the blather here, the correct answer would be FDR, through his grandfather Warren Delano Jr. There also seem to be ties to the Bushies through HW's China and CIA connections, but Jonathan did say "president's" and not "presidents'."

The lead comment on that site suggests that John Kerry's great-great-grandfather James Murray Forbes made a fortune in the opium trade. Another comment mentions that FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Kerry and the Bushes are ALL related to each other.

And then there's this from a history of Skull and Bones:
In 1823, Samuel Russell established Russell and Company for the purpose of acquiring opium in Turkey and smuggling it to China. Russell and Company merged with the Perkins (Boston) syndicate in 1830 and became the primary American opium smuggler. Many of the great American and European fortunes were built on the "China" (opium) trade.

One of Russell and Company's Chief of Operations in Canton was Warren Delano, Jr., grandfather of Franklin Roosevelt. Other Russell partners included John Cleve Green (who financed Princeton), Abiel Low (who financed construction of Columbia), Joseph Coolidge and the Perkins, Sturgis and Forbes families. (Coolidge's son organized the United Fruit company, and his grandson, Archibald C. Coolidge, was a co-founder of the Council on Foreign Relations.)
It would appear that many or most of our presidents and other leading politicians are part of the same crime family which made fortunes in opium, wars, and opium wars.

Those opium wars include the ongoing quagmire in Afghanistan, where the removal of the Taliban has made poppy growing profitable again.

From Doonesbury.

From Tom Toles.

Monday, September 26, 2005

News on the solar front

I've updated my solar blog, if you're interested. I've also updated it if you're not interested.

George Monbiot on Peak Oil

WIIIAI forwarded this article to me: It's better to cry wolf now than to wait until the oil has run out. Excerpt:
Oil analysts and environmentalists have warned of disappearing reserves ever since drilling began, and they have always been proved wrong. According to people such as the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg, this is because the industry is self-regulating. "High real prices deter consumption and encourage the development of other sources of oil and non-oil energy supplies," he says. "Since searching costs money, new searches will not be initiated too far in advance of production. Consequently, new oilfields will be continuously added as demand rises ... we will stop using oil when other energy technologies provide superior benefits."

It is beginning to look as if he is wrong on all counts. As the Economist magazine pointed out on September 10, "demand for petrol is pretty inelastic in the short term", because people still have to go to work, however much it costs. According to the analyst it cites, "it would take a doubling of petrol prices to reduce American petrol consumption by just 5%".

Lomborg's idea that companies can just go out and find new oil when demand rises suggests that he believes geology is as malleable as statistics. One day - or so we should hope - a superior technology will certainly emerge, but cheap alternatives to liquid fuels are currently decades away. Yes, the pessimists have been crying wolf for almost a century. But better that, perhaps, than crying "sheep" when the wolves appear.

I'll bet the Brits know

Jerri sent me this joke:
Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.
He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the
president sits, head in hands.

Finally, President Bush looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

86 dies at 82

My childhood is dying off rapidly. First Gilligan, now Maxwell Smart.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s television spoof of James Bond movies, "Get Smart," has died. He was 82.
Actually, he was 86.

He will be sorely missed.

Ummm...would you believe "fondly remembered?"

How about "buried in an unmarked grave in Compton?"

Sorry about that, Chief!

Pall bearers will be 22, 37, 45, 71, 76, and of course 99.

The Bully Pulpit

Maybe I'm reading the cause and effect wrong here, but it seems as though before aWol started talking about conservation a couple of hours ago, both oil and gasoline prices were falling and the stock market was rising. Since then, oil and gas prices have gone up and stocks have gone down. I wonder which explanation is more likely:
  • Traders doubt that anyone listens to W anymore, so they don't expect any conservation to result--hence, higher prices.
  • Traders figure that if W is calling for conservation, the situation must be desperate.

Inadequate Body Armor

For aWol himself! Irony of ironies, I guess. The now unfortunately-named Second Chance Armor of Central Lake, Michigan (near Charlevoix) has been selling bullet-"proof" vests which have apparently been deteriorating rapidly, possibly contributing to the death of a California police officer. During the two years when Second Chance knew they had a problem but failed to tell anyone, they sold $53,000 worth of body armor to the Secret Service for use by aWol, Laura, and others.

While the wealth never seems to trickle down very far, sometimes the blatant incompetence and criminality of 21st-century America trickles up to the top (where it is clearly right at home). To quote Nelson Muntz: "HA HA!"

Yeah--"Dressed as police"

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents dressed as Iraq police shot and killed six teachers Monday, while violence claimed at least 10 other lives, including three U.S. soldiers, authorities in Iraq said.
Of course there aren't any insurgents actually in the Iraqi police force. Nor are there British troops among the insurgents, or American imperialists hiding amongst the American liberators. If you believe all that, there's a bridge in Alaska I'd like to sell you.

Jimmy Carter Bush?

Wonders never cease! A few weeks ago, aWol actually took a tiny measure of responsibility for his administration's massive Cheney-up of the response to Katrina. And now I see this headline on the NY Times web site:
Bush Urges Conservation as Retail Gas Prices Rise
"We can all pitch in by being better conservers," Mr. Bush said after being briefed on the situation at the Energy Department. "People just need to recognize that these storms have caused disruptions." In addition to urging consumers to cut back, he said federal employees should use carpool and public transport and not take non-essential trips.
Public transport? Oooo...the base isn't going to like that! The Red Sox won the World Series last year, and now W is admitting mistakes and calling for conservation. The end must be near.

[Update] This paragraph from WIIIAI fits in pretty well here:
It’s a measure of how mainstream opposition to the war in Iraq now is that pro-war politicians are unable to impugn the motives of its opponents. Yesterday Bush said something about advocates of pull-out being well-intentioned but mistaken. Compare this with the taunts hurled at opponents of the war in Vietnam and you can see the difference. Bush and his claque are not able to call war opponents traitors, to suggest that they love America or leave it or even to suggest that they don’t support “our troops.” Bush used the same rhetoric about the terrorists only being able to win if America’s will is sapped, but at the same time in the same press conference had to acknowledge the legitimacy of the anti-war position. Rhetorically, he’s lost the argument, or at least ceded a lot of ground.

Winners and Losers

The latest from Paul Craig Roberts:
The Iraqi war has three beneficiaries: (1) al Qaeda, (2) Iran and (3) US war industries and Bush-Cheney cronies who receive no-bid contracts.

Everyone else is a loser.
When Asia pulls the plug on the dollar, the US government will find that monetary and fiscal policy are powerless to offset the consequences.

Compared to US budget and trade deficits, terrorists are a minor concern. The greatest danger that the US faces is the dollar's loss of reserve currency role. This would be an impoverishing event, one from which the US would not recover.

An intelligent government sincerely concerned with homeland security would find a way to halt the global labor arbitrage that is stripping the American economy of high value-added jobs and manufacturing capability, thereby causing the US trade deficit to explode. The loss of tax base that results when US companies outsource jobs and relocate production abroad makes it ever more difficult to balance a budget strained by war, natural disasters, and demographic impact on Social Security and Medicare.

Global labor arbitrage is rapidly dismantling the ladders of upward mobility and thereby endangering American political stability. This threat is far greater than any Osama bin Laden can mount.

Quote du Jour

From the Village Voice:
[S]ome 250 military family members...marched on Saturday. Many said they had no patience for President Bush’s claim that to pull out now would mean their loved ones died in vain. “Twenty thousand more people could die and it wouldn’t give my son’s life any more meaning,” said Diane Santoriello of Pittsburgh, whose son, First Lt. Neil Santoriello, was killed by when a bomb exploded under his tank while patrolling in Iraq. “I think the situation is out of control and we’re making things worse.”


Stop the War Democrats

You can read my headline either way--as supporting "Stop the War" Democrats like Kucinich, McKinney, Lee and others, or as a call to stop the "War Democrats" like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry and way too many others who have not only voted for and supported the criminal war in Iraq, but all too frequently call for sending even more troops into the quagmire. Everyone who marched in protest on Saturday, and the now clear majority of Americans who support them, need to make it clear to the Democratic Party that this approach is unacceptable and unforgiveable. Any Democrat who voted for the war in 2002 needs to be run out of office in his or her next primary. Make sure the voters have a choice between a warmonger Repug and a peacenik Democrat. Heck, this way the Dems might even win!

From Justin Raimando:
Through a combination of cajoling, threats, and nasty primary challenges, critics of our interventionist foreign policy in both parties can put pressure on Congress to stop funding and start questioning this rotten war.
New Yorkers--it starts with you. Get your best anti-war politician to challenge Hillary in the primary next year, and support the heck out of him or her. Hillary is NOT on our side, and needs to be tossed on the trashheap of history. This war only happened, and has only dragged on as long as it has, because of Democratic apologists for it. No more Kerrys or Hillarys--Peace Democrats or No Democrats! (And boy, didn't that Supreme Court argument for Kerry work well, huh? Now we'll have an endless quagmire AND a star chamber.)

Second place so far

Tracking the World Solar Challenge in Australia appears to be harder than following the North American Solar Challenge in July. However, according to the Michigan team's blog, their entry Momentum is in second place after the first day of racing.

From Doonesbury.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bush Quagmires Continue to Kill

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Kickoff is at 6

The Michigan football team is playing at Wisconsin today, starting at 6 pm, but most eyes around here will of course be on the World Solar Challenge in Australia, which starts at the same time. You can track the race at the WSC website, or here at Bob's Links and Rants!

Must Scream TV

I tried to watch some CNN last night and this morning to see what Rita might be doing to the Gulf Coast. While the wind-swept correspondents ducking debris is clearly cheesy sensationalism, I kind of enjoy it. What I can't stand are the idiot anchors back in Atlanta--Soledad O'Brien, Paula Zahn, Larry King, and others (I actually find Aaron Brown to be somewhat tolerable). The worst part is their interminable questions--here's a composite based on what I saw a hundred times:
Soledad: We go now to Sean Baker in Galveston (picture of Sean with his CNN raincoat fluttering in the wind). Sean what's going on in Galveston? We've seen projections for days that Galveston may take the brunt of the storm, but now it appears as though it might be spared, might not get the full brunt, of the storm as we had all feared. There certainly must be some sense of relief there in Galveston, even though we all know this is far from over. So tell us, Sean, what's going on in Galveston?

Sean: That's right, Soledad. As you can see, the wind and rain are pretty strong here in downtown Galveston, but not as...

Soledad: Sean...let me interrupt for a moment. We all know that Galveston was devastated by a hurricane in 1900, the worst natural disaster in US history, and we've all been hoping and indeed praying that it doesn't face that kind of devastation again, even though many experts have been predicting it this week, with a huge storm surge topping that sea wall. So, Sean, tell us more about what's going on there--I know it has already been a long night for you.

Sean: Yes it has, Soledad. We have reports of a fire in the downtown area...

Soledad: Hold that thought, Sean, the mayor of Beaumont is speaking to the media, and we're going to go there right after this break. This is CNN.
And while Soledad and Paula bring new meaning to the words "creepy" and "rude," Larry King adds several dictionary entries to the word "oblivious." If the eighth pilot he had interviewed hadn't been watching the Jet Blue landing Wednesday night while talking to Larry, Larry would have missed the landing entirely. CNN's coverage, while featuring the stunning live video, was almost completely content-free otherwise. They kept showing live shots of the plane in the air, without any context--where is the camera, which way is it pointed, how far is the plane from LAX, what is its altitude? This is also a major problem with CNN's hurricane coverage. They're constantly showing video of wind, rain, flooding, devastation, etc., and almost never indicate where or when the video was taken. Even the idiot anchors don't seem to know whether the video is live or just a replay from earlier. With all the tools they have at their disposal, CNN could provide both tons of information and compelling entertainment, but they generally fail to do either.

Beatings in Iraq routine

Three former members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division have said that soldiers in that division routinely beat Iraqi prisoners, both supposedly to gather intel and for sport:
In one incident, the Human Rights Watch report states, an off-duty cook broke a detainee's leg with a metal baseball bat. Detainees were also stacked, fully clothed, in human pyramids and forced to hold five-gallon water jugs with arms outstretched or do jumping jacks until they passed out, the report says. "We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, and pull them down, kick dirt on them," one sergeant told Human Rights Watch researchers during one of four interviews in July and August. "This happened every day."

The sergeant continued: "Some days we would just get bored, so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did it for amusement."
It is time to bring the troops home and prosecute all of those many "bad apples" guilty of torture and other war crimes, starting at the top: Bush, Rumsfeld and Meyers. Today is the day to hit the streets and let our criminal government know that their time is up. I'll be in the march here in Ann Arbor, and know several people who got on the buses last night to go to DC.

Friday, September 23, 2005

From Gary Varvel.

From Brian Adcock.

From Doonesbury.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

World Solar Challenge

Fresh off their victory in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge, the University of Michigan's solar car team is ready to take on the world in Australia, starting this Sunday. The 2005 World Solar Challenge starts September 25 in Darwin, Australia, traversing the island continent from north to south, reaching Adelaide on October 2.

Those of you who read my blog back in July know you can expect way too many updates as the race progresses. I talked to a member of the team, unfortunately left behind in Ann Arbor, who told me that the real race is for second place. One of the Dutch teams (I think) apparently has some very high-efficiency (and expensive) solar panels giving it about 700 watts more power than the UM car or any other car in the race.

Meanwhile, the university is involved in another solar competition. The Michigan Solar House, aka MiSo, is about to be hauled down to Washington, DC for a competition on the Mall in October. The house features all sorts of active and passive solar elements to provide electricity, heating and cooling, and hot water. MiSo will be one of 18 entries on display from October 7-11 and 13-16 in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. The Decathlon winner will be announced October 14.

Go Blue! Go Blue!

Sign Ideas

Going to one of the big peace marches this weekend? Here are some ideas for signs:
  • Bush is to Earth like Katrina is to Louisiana
  • We're fighting them there so we can't protect ouselves here
  • Bush's levees are about to break
  • George Bush: The LIE of the hurricane
  • We're all in the Superdome now
  • Katrina-Rita in '08! (better than what we've got now)

and the message we really need to get across:
  • No Pro-war Democrats in '06 or '08!

Cindy, not Hillary, in 2008

From the Village Voice, via Left I:
Sheehan isn’t stopping her critique with Bush. On the contrary, she has begun to set her sights on Congress and the Democratic Party as well. When she spoke in Brooklyn on the night before, she took note of the fact that Senator Hillary Clinton voted to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq and– like most Senate Democrats–has done little to bring the troops home. Clinton, in fact, has filed legislation calling for more troops.

In an interview after her speech, Sheehan told the Voice she was “so frustrated” by leading Democrats like Clinton “who should be leaders on this issue, but are not.” Already, she has set up a future meeting with New York’s junior senator this weekend. And she plans to sit down with the state’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, too. “It’s time for them to step up and be the opposition party,” she said. “This war is not going to end unless the Democrats are on board with us.”
I hope Sheehan is wrong, because I don't see the corporate Dumbocrats getting on board any time soon. John Kerry, with an actual anti-war record to his credit, could have gotten on board last year and been president today. But his higher loyalty, as with Hillary and with aWol, was to his corporate paymasters.

The future here--today!

From CNN:
On Highway 290, a major road between Houston and Austin, people were pushing their cars and minivans to save gas -- and were moving just as fast as the vehicles that were driving. Others were stopped on the side of the highway after breaking down or running out of gas.
If that's not a preview of coming attractions, I don't know what is.

I'm baaack!!

My cable modem quit working yesterday, so I had to go to Comcast this morning and get another one. Still catching up on what I missed. In the meantime, Rick sends me some quality speculation for your consideration:
The recent incident in Basra, where two british commandos were arrested by Iraqi authorities, and were later remanded to british authorities under some violent coercion..

The commandos were arrested while wearing plain iraqi clothing, that is, they were masquerading as Iraqi citizens. Isn't that a violation of the 'rules of war, in that all legal combatants are to remain in their uniforms?

The commandos were in posession of explosive devices and timers at the time they were arrested. Just what were they intending to blow up?

...Masquerading as Iraqis, about to set a timer-controlled bomb. I wonder how many of the IEDs that are being attributed to 'insurgents' are really being set by forces whos real interest is in keeping the conflict going???

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Something for everyone

We here at Bob's Links and Rants (and by "we" I mean "I") aim to please. So here's a hodgepodge of selections to suit nearly every taste.

For the optimist, from Home Power magazine:
According to the EPA, a total switch to energy-efficient lighting in the US would keep 202 million tons of carbon dioxide, and 600,000 tons of nitrogen oxides out of the atmosphere. Some experts suggest such a switch would reduce the US yearly energy bill by at least $30 billion.

If all US households replaced one incandescent bulb with one CF bulb, one nuclear power plant could be shut down. If US homes replaced all of their 500 million incandescent bulbs with CF ones, the US instantly would have untold energy wealth and surplus--no more shortages or brownouts.
For the pessimist, the ever-reliable James Howard Kunstler:
Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005-6, we're going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become.
In this remarkable three weeks since New Orleans was shredded, no Democrat has stepped into the vacuum of leadership, either, with a different vision of what we might do now, and who we might become. This is the kind of medium that political maniacs spawn in. Something is out there right now, feeding on the astonishment and grievance of a whipsawed middle class, and it will have a lot more nourishment in the months ahead.

There are two things that the newspapers and TV Cable News outfits are not covering very well. One is that the Port of New Orleans is not functioning, with poor prospects for a quick recovery, and with it will go much of the Midwestern grain harvest. Another thing that has fallen off the radar screen is the damage done to the oil and gas infrastructure around the Gulf Coast, especially the onshore facilities for storing and transporting stuff, and for marshaling the crews and equipment to fix stuff. The US is going to run short of its customary supplies for a long time. The idea that these things will not affect an economy of ceaseless mobility is not realistic.
Meanwhile, does anybody remember a place called Iraq? A bomb that killed thirty people was reported on page 12 of the Sunday New York Times. That's how important Iraq has become. But, I guess, a nation can hardly pay attention to a bullet in the foot when it has a sucking chest wound.
For you gibberish fans, here's W himself:
And that can-do spirit is -- these county commissioners -- we call them county commissioners -- county supervisors and mayors who are dealing with unbelievable trauma, and, you know, they're right there on a front line of trying to comfort people who hurt. And, yet, amidst all that agony and pain they're going through was this comforting spirit. The can-do spirit is, you know, seeing progress being made. And inside this tent there's a can-do spirit of taking a horrible situation and making this part of the world better. And so I'm impressed.
And for blue-state gibberish fans, here's John Kerry:
[Ex-FEMA director Mike Brown] is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive."
For those who like to do the math, there's Paul Craig Roberts:
According to the September 1 Manufacturing & Technology News, the Government Accounting Office has reported that over the course of the cakewalk war, the US military’s use of small caliber ammunition has risen to 1.8 billion rounds. Think about that number. If there are 20,000 insurgents, it means US troops have fired 90,000 rounds at each insurgent.

Very few have been hit. We don’t know how many. To avoid the analogy with Vietnam, until last week the US military studiously avoided body counts. If 2,000 insurgents have been killed, each death required 900,000 rounds of ammunition.
And for those of you who think James Howard Kunstler is really an optimist, there's this from the Independent:
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.
"Born again Krispy Kremers." That's funny. Mmmm...donuts...

Do I hear $5 a gallon?

From the NY Times:
Rita has the ability to severely disrupt oil production and refining that has still not completely recovered from the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina three weeks ago. The devastation could conceivably be even more severe than the previous hurricane because the Texas coast is more densely packed with refineries and other onshore plants than Louisiana was, analysts said.

"A direct hit by a level 4 or 5 hurricane on the Houston ship channel, that would be devastating," said Bob Linden, a managing consultant at PA Consulting, noting that the area is thick with refineries and other critical energy operations.

Free Market Always--Except for Gas Prices

From the NY Times:
The governors of eight states sent a letter on Tuesday to President Bush and Congress calling for an investigation into profits made by oil companies after Hurricane Katrina and asking for legislation that would require the companies to refund to customers any profits deemed excess.
Our own governor, Jennifer Granholm, made a name for herself as the state attorney general by making a fuss about gasoline price "gougers." She is one of the eight signers of the letter, as is Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Richardson, you may recall, was Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration. During his tenure, the mergers of Exxon with Mobil and BP with Amoco were formally approved, and the merger of Chevron with Texaco was proposed. Whatever power the oil companies actually have to "gouge" consumers is due in large part to these mergers, which only went forward because the Clintonistas, including Richardson, refused to enforce anti-trust laws.

This anti-gouging posturing by the governors is every bit as opportunistic--probably more so--than the high prices at the pump. These governors continue to allow corporations like Wal-Mart and Northwest to gouge workers with low wages, and permit Cargill, Conagra and ADM to gouge farmers with low prices, and stand idly by while just about every corporate scumbag outsources every job except his or her own, all the while praising the virtues of "free trade" and "free markets." But when it comes to gasoline, a commodity which this country absolutely has to use much less of, these governors turn into bloody communists. If any one of them had a spine, he or she would propose raising gas taxes so high that gasoline sales and their associated profits would drop substantially. But that's not how our political system works. These governors were bought and paid for by all those other corporations whose bottom lines are suffering due to high gas prices. Seeing that these corporations pay their workers enough money to afford those prices is not the answer for these governors--grandstanding on "gouging" is.

Note: I don't mean to just blame these Democratic governors. Even the Bushies are at least giving lip service to the gouging game. There's a Gas Price Watch Hotline form on the Department of Energy web site. I'm sure it all ends up in the same unread cyber-trash heap that my e-mails to aWol about all of his crimes do. But it does point out one more time what total hypocrites these free-marketeers are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quick Update

Just some of the things I've missed lately:
  • A top Bushie official resigned last week, and was arrested yesterday in conjunction with the Jack Abramoff scandal, which I think is related to the Tom DeLay scandal, which is in turn related to pretty much every other scandal. But this recently arrested Bushie, David H. Safavian, is someone I've never heard of. On the other hand...
  • If this guy is to be believed, grand jury indictments of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, John Ashcroft, Scooter Libby, Condoleezza Rice and others have been prepared, but are currently being held back by courthouse intrigue in Chicago. You may have heard of some of those crooks.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a rousing speech to the UN on Friday, denouncing aWol for his war in Iraq and his handling of Katrina.
  • British soldiers and Iraqi police are apparently at war with each other in Basra.
  • US military deaths in Iraq now stand at 1904, at least officially. That works out to, let's see, 1904/0=infinity: the ratio of military deaths to weapons of mass destruction found. The lie about WMD's seems to have been the only WMD there was. Add in the embassy officials and contractors/mercenaries killed, and the ratio is still infinity.
  • Oil futures are back over $67 a barrel, and gasoline futures are back over $2 a gallon.
  • One Democrat is actually taking a stand against Judge John Oral Pat Roberts(on).

Trip called off

I wimped out on my plans to go to the Gulf region and help with hurricane relief. The confused situation, the approach of Rita, and my shaky knees and back convinced me that it would not be a good idea for me to go. I did meet with Keith, a nice guy who lives about a mile from me. He is heading south this evening, travelling with Ann, a woman from Oberlin, Ohio. I gave them some money and offered my logistical support from here at blogger central. Hopefully they'll find a place where they can really help some people. I'll try to follow their progress here on the blog if and when I hear from them.

Post-Katrina thinking

Niece of a big-time administration aparachik and apologist? Check!
Married to the Secretary's Chief of Staff? Check!
Worked for Ken Starr? Check!
Same name as a minor character on "Desperate Housewives?" Check!
Relevant qualifications and experience to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency? None!

So of course Julie Myers, niece of General Richard Myers, wife of Jerkoff's Chief of Staff, and former attorney on the staff of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, has been appointed by the Bushies for the job.

It's all so ridiculous. But these paragraphs demonstrate just how on-the-ball the Democrats have been about all this:
I. Michael Greenberger, a former Clinton administration official who heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland, said the Myers appointment represents "pre-Katrina thinking, where political relationships were a very large factor."

"Post-Katrina, we now see that people need to be eminently qualified," Greenberger said.
Good lord, man! You didn't see that before?

From Paul Conrad.

From Etta Hulme.

From Steve Sack.

Monday, September 19, 2005

From Ted Rall.

Finally, someone explains what is going on

Cheney, Bush and Rove are moles in the Republican Party, determined to discredit it forever! Unfortunately, the Repug faithful seem to be immune to every screwup. Tom Tomorrow has the details (ad viewing required).

Sunday, September 18, 2005

What to do?

I'm taking this week off from work, hoping to do some volunteer work to help hurricane victims. My first idea was to volunteer with the Red Cross, but I've read so many bad things about their operation lately that I decided not to. My next plan was to help out at Camp Casey--Covington, the relief effort set up by Veterans for Peace and promoted by Michael Moore in Covington, Louisiana. But now they're saying not to come with supplies or to volunteer until further notice. I read other stories about desperate needs in the Gulf region. My car needs some minor repairs, but should be ready by Tuesday. Any suggestions as to where I should go? E-mail me: bob AT aapeace DOT org.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

From Matt Davies.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The fourth reich

Yet again, former Reaganite Paul Craig Roberts tells it like it is:
Dead and wounded Americans are too high a price to pay for a war based on deception. This alone is reason to end the war, if necessary by impeaching Bush and Cheney and arresting the neoconservatives for treason. Naked aggression is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard, and neoconservatives have brought this shame to America.

There is an even greater cost of the war--the legal system that protects liberty, a human achievement for which countless numbers of people gave their lives over the centuries. The Bush administration used September 11 to whip up fear and hysteria and to employ these weapons against American liberty. The Orwellian named Patriot Act has destroyed habeas corpus. The executive branch has gained the unaccountable power to detain American citizens on mere suspicion or accusation, without evidence, and to hold Americans indefinitely without a trial.

Foolishly, many Americans believe this power can only be used against terrorists. Americans don't realize that the government can declare anyone to be a terrorist suspect. As no evidence is required, it is entirely up to the government to decide who is a terrorist. Thus, the power is unaccountable. Unaccountable power is the source of tyranny.
The United States is starting to acquire the image of Nazi Germany. Knowledgeable people should have no trouble drawing up their own list of elements common to both the Bush and Hitler regimes: the use of extraordinary lies to justify military aggression; reliance on coercion and threats in place of diplomacy; total belief in the virtue and righteousness of one's cause; the equating of factual objections or "reality-based" analysis to treason; the redirection of patriotism from country to leader; the belief that defeat resides in debate and a weakening of will; refuge in delusion and denial when promised results don't materialize.

Roberts' rules of order

WIIIAI nails it:
What makes the sight of John Roberts refusing over and over to answer any substantive question is that it reeks of a sense of entitlement. In his mind the default position in this process is that he be confirmed, that is, that unless they can find something seriously wrong with him, they must confirm him, rather than that he must convince them that he is worthy of this job. I think the default position should be rejection, and if he isn’t willing to provide enough information that senators can see how he’d perform in the job, rejection is what it should be.

Quote du jour

[It] is seemingly inaccessible to considerations of reality in its basic reactions. For it, the vast fund of objective fact about human society is not, as with us, the measure against which outlook is constantly being tested and re-formed, but a grab bag from which individual items are selected arbitrarily and tendenciously to bolster an outlook already preconceived.
While the description fits the Bushies to a T, even by their own admission ("We create our own reality"), it is actually what George Kennan said about the Soviet Union back in 1946.

Thanks Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution for tying those two together.


Thursday, September 15, 2005


From Knight-Ridder:
"In an attempt to lay the legal groundwork for asking the United States to withdraw its troops, an Iraqi National Assembly committee released a report Tuesday that said the presence of the American military prevents Iraq from becoming fully sovereign.

"The 18-member National Sovereignty Committee, made up of legislators chosen in national elections in January, said the only way Iraq could achieve sovereignty was for multinational forces to leave. The report called for setting a timetable for the troops to go home and referred to them as 'occupation forces,' a first.

"The report also asks the United Nations to issue a resolution declaring Iraq a sovereign country and the government to repeal an order enacted by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority that gives foreign nationals here immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

"It also called for the government to have control over its intelligence operations, palaces and prisons. American forces so far have refused to grant Iraqis access to many intelligence operations, to allow them to occupy several palaces that Saddam built and to let them operate several prisons.

"Many National Assembly members and average Iraqis have said it's impossible to feel sovereign when troops are running through their streets and foreigners direct the actions of the Defense and Interior ministries."

From Ingrid Rice.

Joke du jour

Q: What is George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.
-- from an e-mail.

From Jack Ohman.

From Bob Gorrell.

From Cam Cardow.

from Boondocks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Iraq photos

Democrats against democracy

I strongly support runoff elections, whether instant or not. Our current system of awarding an office to the candidate with the most votes, even if that is much less than 50% of the total, is inherently undemocratic, and totally unnecessary. Whether it is Bill Clinton in 1992 or Al Gore in 2000, simply giving an office to somebody with less than 50% of the vote robs voters of the chance to truly express their preferences. Most succumb to the awful pressure to conform from the two-party system, like I did in 2004, while a few risk the ire of millions by voting for someone they actually like, as I did in 2000. Not only are the principled few who vote their consciences denied decent governance, they aren't even allowed a chance to express a preference between the two corporate evils.

Some places, like Indonesia, Afghanistan, and even Louisiana have runoff voting, while others, like San Francisco, have instant runoff voting. And New York City's Democratic primary for mayor calls for a runoff vote if the leader fails to get 40% in the initial ballot (why not 50%?). Still, the second place finisher in yesterday's primary, Anthony Weiner, is conceding the election to Fernando Ferrer, even though Ferrer only got 39.95% of the vote. The NY Times says that it is unclear whether a runoff is still required. I'd suggest that if Weiner holds any pretensions that "Democratic" still means "democratic," he darn well had better participate in the runoff. Over 30% of the Democrats who voted yesterday didn't vote for either Ferrer or Weiner, and Weiner is telling them rather explicitly that he doesn't care what they think. If that's the case, he shouldn't have been running in the first place. He has no business conceding the race now.

Disasters serve their purposes

I have to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis.
-- Candidate George W. Bush, in his first debate with Al Gore in 2000 (via Arianna Huffington). So, of course, as soon as aWol is appointed president, what does he do but replace Witt with his campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, whose only disaster training came, well, in being aWol's campaign manager. Of course, Allbaugh appointed his college roommate Mike Brown, of Arabian horse fame, to be his assistant.

Arianna's post documents some of the many ways that the Repugs are trying to cash in on the disaster that they have made so much worse, including suspending the Davis-Bacon Act requiring federal contractors to pay decent wages, easing environmental requirements, and of course privatizing everything--including FEMA. Arianna adds:
In truth, the piecemeal privatization of FEMA started soon after Bush took office -- and is one of the reasons it has stumbled so badly in Louisiana and Mississippi. Ezra Klein offers chapter and verse on this and on the chutzpah of the GOP attempt to use the Katrina fiasco to privatize FEMA: “The car broke because Bush slashed the tires and now his allies are trying to convince us that the real problem lies with the whole ‘car’ concept.”
Actually, the real problem lies with the whole "Bush" concept.

Thinking of heading south...

Veterans for Peace has set up a Katrina relief effort, known as Camp Casey-Covington, in Covington, Louisiana, across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans. They are distributing food and other supplies to victims in the region, and they need help. People from all over have been bringing supplies in, and volunteers are sorting and delivering them.

I've been thinking of going down myself, taking supplies and/or other volunteers with me. Anyone out there interested? If you can't go, but are on my way, perhaps you could prepare some "family packs" for delivery. The VFP Hurricane Relief Message Board has lots of information about people offering rides, giving rides, and preparing supplies.

If I go, I'll probably leave this weekend or early next week, and stay a few days. Let me know if you'd like to ride along or provide some family packs! (bob at aapeace dot org)

Bushies continue to reject Cuban doctors

Cuba has offered to send 1600 doctors, some field hospitals, and 83 tons of medical supplies to help victims of Katrina, but the Bushies prefer to let people die rather than accept help from Castro. Many of these doctors have worked natural disasters, from last winter's tsunami to numerous hurricanes in Cuba and other Carribean islands.

My dream

Yesterday, I told you what my nightmare was. Today, Eli at Left I supplies the dream:

The Stalingrad Effect

Werther compares the continued support of Bush's base with the support Hitler continued to receive even after the most monumental military failure in history:
Certainly, after 9/11, Iraq, and now Katrina, die-hard supporters of the incumbent administration have an enormous sunk cost of emotional investment. Their minds, if we are to describe the dead matter in their crania in such terms, plainly operate along the lines of a Winnebago shaman or Congolese witch doctor rather than as a child of Renaissance and Enlightenment.

We herewith christen this pathology the Stalingrad Effect: the tendency of disastrous events and failed policies to bind faithful followers to their leaders.

This syndrome exacerbates whatever toxic effects result from the calamitous policies in the first place. As cogitation slides ineluctably from the empirical to the magical (read, "faith based"), so the policies become ever more irrational in a downward spiral.

All else is mere detail, or should we say, public relations. Just as Goebbels was summoned to rationalize Stalingrad, so is Karen Hughes recalled to carry the crushing hod of explaining to the heathen why the occupation of Iraq at more than $5 billion per month is a Good Thing.

From Steve Sack.

From Doonesbury.

Meanwhile, the carnage continues

At Least 100 Are Killed as Bombs Explode Across Iraqi Capital
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari escaped injury by hiding out in Dearborn, about 25 miles from here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ted Rall on charities

The opinions expressed below are not necessarily those of the blogger, who has already made several donations to the Red Cross, but Ted Rall's point of view is always interesting and usually on target:
There's only one reason flood victims aren't getting help from the government: because the government refuses to help them. The Red Cross and its cohorts are letting lazy, incompetent and corrupt politicians off the hook, and so are their donors.

It's ridiculous, but people evidently need to be reminded that the United States is not only the world's wealthiest nation but the wealthiest society that has existed anywhere, ever. The U.S. government can easily pick up the tab for people inconvenienced by bad weather--if helping them is a priority. That goes double for Katrina, a disaster caused by the government's conscious decision to eliminate the $50 million pittance needed to improve New Orleans' levees.

For our leaders the optional war against Iraq is such a priority, which the
Congressional Budget Office expects to cost $600 billion by 2010. That's four or five Katrinas right there. (That's also where the levee money went.) Because rich people are always a political priority, their taxes have been slashed by $4 trillion over a decade--the equivalent of 32 Katrinas. So worried are our public servants about the tax burden placed on the rich that they're looking out for rich dead people. This is why they've gutted the estate tax that, at a cost of $75 billion annually, will run half a Katrina a year. Trickle-down economists beginning with Milton Friedman shout "starve the beast," but while the social programs are put on a diet, the mean and powerful pig out more than ever.

Disaster relief is too important to be left to private fundraisers, with their self-sustaining fundraising expenses, administrative overhead (nine percent for the Red Cross) and their parochial, often religious, agendas. It's also way too expensive. In the final analysis, after the floodwaters have receded and the poor neighborhoods of New Orleans have been razed under eminent domain, major charities will be lucky if they've managed to raise one percent of the total cost of Katrina.
Granted, in terms of popularity of likelihood of success, trying to make a case against giving money to charities compares to lobbying against puppies. The impulse to donate, after all, is rooted in our best human traits. As we watched New Orleanians die of thirst, disease and anarchic violence in the face of Bush Administration disinterest and local government incompetence, millions of us did the only thing we thought we could to do to help: cut a check or click a PayPal button. Tragically, that generosity feeds into the mindset of the sinister ideologues who argue that government shouldn't help people--the very mindset that caused the levee break that turned Katrina into a holocaust and led to official unresponsiveness. And it is already setting the stage for the next avoidable disaster.

It's time to "starve the beast": private charities used by the government to justify the abdication of its duties to its citizens.

My nightmare

Some evening I'll be watching the Daily Show, and when it's over the batteries in my remote will be dead, and I won't be able to get out of my chair, and I'll be stuck watching a half hour of that idiot Adam Corolla. That is my nightmare.

Hurricane Profiteering

The usual suspects--Halliburton, Bechtel, and other Bush-connected crime organizations--are being rounded up to make billions from Katrina. Our government's sole purpose, it would seem, is to make these fat cats even fatter. While it probably has a snowball's chance in New Orleans of making any difference, you might want to sign onto this lame petition being sent to Gestapo Direktor Jerkoff.

I'm more convinced than ever that only a massive economic collapse offers any hope of saving this country. For better or worse, that probably isn't far off.

From Rob Rogers.

Plenty of blame to go around

From Steve Kelley.
Last night I saw the little clip from Meet the Press on the Daily Show, showing Tim Russert asking Nagin about the hundreds of school buses that remained in New Orleans to get flooded:
RUSSERT: And we've all see this photograph of these submerged school buses. Why did you not declare, order, a mandatory evacuation on Friday, when the president declared an emergency, and have utilized those buses to get people out?

MAYOR NAGIN: You know, Tim, that's one of the things that will be debated.
Nagin goes on:
There has never been a catastrophe in the history of New Orleans like this. There has never been any Category 5 storm of this magnitude that has hit New Orleans directly. We did the things that we thought were best based upon the information that we had. Sure, here was lots of buses out there. But guess what? You can't find drivers that would stay behind with a Category 5 hurricane, you know, pending down on New Orleans. We barely got enough drivers to move people on Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, to move them to the Superdome. We barely had enough drivers for that. So sure, we had the assets, but the drivers just weren't available.
The whole interview reeks of lame excuses like that. Russert had plenty of ammunition, and Nagin's responses were all lame. I'll bet we'll find out that plenty of bus drivers were available, but they weren't asked--or offered double time wages. Five hundred buses could have evacuated nearly 25,000 people in a single trip, and possibly come back for more. They could have ridden out the storm far away, and then headed back in loaded with food and water. Maybe FEMA would have blocked them, although that would have made the current PR disaster for the administration seem mild in comparison.

The Bushies didn't come close to doing a good job of protecting the people of this country, but neither did Nagin do a good job of protecting the people of his city. Play the blame game--they're all to blame.

From Tom Toles.

Brown out!

After costing the country billions of dollars for failing to do the job he was appointed to do, FEMA Director Mike Brown will now save the country a few hundred thousand a year by resigning from that job.
Mr. Brown, 50, said he had felt no pressure to resign. He said he made his decision on Sunday with his family after a long conversation on Saturday night with Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff.
Yeah. No pressure. Just a long talk with someone who desparately wants you to take a long walk on a short pier, and probably is holding your family hostage until you agree.

Speaking of incompetents costing us billions--why doesn't Andy Card have a nice long chat with Rummy, Condi, and aWol himself? Apparently the idiot-in-chief didn't know that Brown had resigned.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Privatizing, one disaster at a time

Jonathan at Past Peak relates a May, 2005 article by Naomi Klein, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, to what is apparently happening now in the wake of Katrina. The privatizing idiotlogues running the world see every disaster, including many that they create themselves, as an opportunity to remake the world in the image of crony capitalism. From Indonesia to Nicaragua, Haiti to Afghanistan, East Timor to Iraq and now New Orleans, they've been doing just that. From Klein's article:
[I]f the reconstruction industry is stunningly inept at rebuilding, that may be because rebuilding is not its primary purpose. According to Guttal, "It's not reconstruction at all--it's about reshaping everything." If anything, the stories of corruption and incompetence serve to mask this deeper scandal: the rise of a predatory form of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation and fear created by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering. And on this front, the reconstruction industry works so quickly and efficiently that the privatizations and land grabs are usually locked in before the local population knows what hit them. Kumara, in another e-mail, warns that Sri Lanka is now facing "a second tsunami of corporate globalization and militarization," potentially even more devastating than the first. "We see this as a plan of action amidst the tsunami crisis to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with military assistance from the US Marines."
Over the weekend it occurred to me a couple of times to write a post about how the recent atrocious Kelo ruling in the Supreme Court has opened wide the door for the widespread privatizing of New Orleans and the rest of the affected region. Others have now beaten me to it, including Paul Craig Roberts, who says:
In the September 8 Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper ("Old Line Families Plot the Future") quotes members of the power elite, who admit they are mapping out a new city that will not restore the old order: "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," says James Reiss. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again."

The Journal's report brings to light that the "teeming (black) underclass," which guarantees Democratic control of New Orleans, is one part of the old order that is not slated for renewal. In other words, federal failure in New Orleans plus Kelo equals ethnic cleansing of a large historic American city.
And, with the recent Padilla decision, anyone who stands in the way can now be arrested and held forever as a terrorist enemy combatant. What a messed-up country.

Cheery thought du jour

More people may die in Chicago as a result of high heating costs this winter than were killed by Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
-- James Howard Kunstler

Just a reminder

The official version of the collapse of the WTC towers on 9/11/01 was prepared by FEMA.

That photo of the south tower goes a long way to exposing the official story as a fraud. The official explanation says that the structure was weakened by the impact of the plane and the subsequent fire, leading to progressive collapse of the structure. The toppling of the top of the building shown here seems possibly consistent with the first two--the initial impact of the plane took out many columns on one side of the building, and the fire further weakened the adjacent columns which had picked up the load. Eventually, the top falls over like a tree being chopped down--in the direction of the weakness. From this, the possibility of progressive collapse seems remotely possible--the toppled section remains partially attached and pulls more of the building down along with it. But this isn't at all what happened. The official explanation says that the upper floors came crashing down onto the lower floors, separating them from the exterior columns and causing a chain reaction as the ever-greater weight hits each lower floor in succession. But the initial toppling of the upper floors shown here makes this pretty much impossible, especially in the remarkably uniform manner in which the lower floors collapsed.

It should be noted that the south tower, shown above, was the second tower hit on 9/11. The fires in the south tower were visibly smaller than those in the north tower, yet the south tower collapsed only 47 minutes after being hit, compared to 104 minutes for the north tower. The collapse of the WTC towers is much more consistent with being a controlled demolition than it is with the "official" explanation.

Wild conspiracy theory? Let me repeat what I said at the start: The official explanation of the buildings' collapse came from FEMA, which at the time was led by aWol's 2000 campaign manager (Mike Brown was Allbaugh's assistant, and I'm sure Brownie was doing a heckuva job back then, too).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The disaster president

That's from Stop George at Daily Kos, who also has a great quote from Bill Maher:
"...You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. On your watch we've lost almost all of our allies, the budget surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the city of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. Yes, God does speak to you. And he's saying: "Take a hint."

Four Sore Years

September 11, 2001 was certainly a tragedy for the 3000 or so people who died and their families and friends. But it was a much larger tragedy because millions of Americans gave their unthinking loyalty to the idiot criminal pResident who had been appointed nine months earlier. Aided and abetted by the corporate criminals of both parties in Congress and the whores in the media, aWol did everything possible to avoid finding out what had really happened or who was really to blame (which he probably knew), instead using the tragedy of 9/11 to launch the pre-planned tragedy known as the "war on terror." Even worse, perhaps, was that these millions of Americans continued to support this idiot, oblivious to his incompetence, crimes, and obvious mistakes. They even VOTED to re-select this moron who was clearly flushing this country down the toilet. Only now, when the toilet backed up in a major US city, are some of these Bush-lovers starting to notice that the moron-in-chief might not be the strong, forceful leader they've been pretending he was.

I can't really take much pleasure that Bush's approval ratings are now at their lowest ever. All I can do is ponder the insanity that 39% of Americans STILL approve of this moron. WAKE UP!

On this fourth anniversary of 9/11, I do see one positive: There seems to be hardly any patriotic stupidfest related to 9/11 going on today, outside of the very ironically named America Supports You Freedom Walk.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

From Mr. Fish.

From Matt Davies.

From Clay Bennett.

From Mark Cohen.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brown and out

From the NY Times:
Michael D. Brown, the embattled head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was relieved of his duties today of overseeing recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

The secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, described Mr. Brown's reassignment to FEMA headquarters here as a logical step in keeping with Mr. Brown's overall duties as FEMA director. Mr. Chertoff, speaking in Baton Rouge, La., said in a televised news briefing that the hurricane-recovery mission would now be led by Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, the third-ranking officer in the Coast Guard.

"Michael Brown has done everything he possibly could," Mr. Chertoff said, accompanied by Admiral Allen and Mr. Brown. "I appreciate his work, as does everybody here."
You're next, Jerkoff. As for you, Brown--screw you and the Arabian horse you rode in on.

Honestly, I've based my utter hatred for Brown and Jerkoff entirely on reading their statements. When I actually saw video of these clowns on the Daily Show a couple of days ago, the hatred intensified. Brown--a total loser in way over his head, like the pResident. Jerkoff--combines the pleasant personality of Dick Cheney with the loving sensitivity of Barbara Bush.

Detention Camp Oklahoma

Yesterday I linked to stories about the refugee camp in Utah; today I find this story about a camp being set up in Oklahoma. A woman and her family try to bring some necessities to the camp, which is in the middle of nowhere. Here's an excerpt:
We then started lugging in our food products. The foods I had purchased were mainly snacks, but my mother - God bless her soul - had gone all out with fresh vegetables, fruits, canned goods, breakfast cereals, rice, and pancake fixings. That's when we got the next message: They will not be able to use the kitchen.

Excuse me? I asked incredulously.

FEMA will not allow any of the kitchen facilities in any of the cabins to be used by the occupants due to fire hazards. FEMA will deliver meals to the cabins. The refugees will be given two meals per day by FEMA. They will not be able to cook. In fact, the "host" goes on to explain, some churches had already enquired about whether they could come in on weekends and fix meals for the people staying in their cabin. FEMA won't allow it because there could be a situation where one cabin gets steaks and another gets hot dogs - and...

it could cause a riot.

It gets worse.

He then precedes to tell us that some churches had already enquired into whether they could send a van or bus on Sundays to pick up any occupants of their cabins who might be interested in attending church. FEMA will not allow this. The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and "a sum of money" and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months.

My son looks at me and mumbles "Welcome to Krakow."
And a photo of a cellblock dormitory:

A few hundred refugees have been brought to Fort Custer, near Battle Creek (where my father was stationed when he met my mother). However, indications are that Michigan won't be getting many more refugees, since they understandably don't want to be so far from home.

Court repeals Bill of Rights

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."
-- CNN

CNN helpfully refers to Jose Padilla, locked up for over three years without charges or rights, as the "dirty bomber." Because Ashcroft and Bush said he was, until they found no evidence of that and said instead that he was going to blow up apartment buildings--which they have no proof of either. And while of course they'll never let us know, I'd be willing to bet that Padilla is no more closely associated with al Qaeda than is, say, George Herbert Walker Bush, who was for years a business partner of Osama's father in the Carlyle Group.

If they can lock Padilla up indefinitely, they can lock you up too. I believe it's called "totalitarianism."

Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzales, and I assume Judge Luttig as well, took oaths to uphold the Constitution. Instead, it is their clear intent to destroy it. THEY are the true enemy combatants.

The very model of a modern FEMA handle-er

I am the very model of a modern FEMA handle-er
Corrupt as any character you’ll find in Raymond Chandle-er
Accomplished very little since I shot past Mummy’s labia
Just bummed around until I found some horsies from Arabia
From Joseph Cannon. Read the rest!

I can't bring myself to read it...

Headline of Globaloney Tom Friedman's latest idiotribe: U.S. is Iraq's Levee. Wrong, moron. The U.S. is Iraq's Katrina. (To beat a dead horse to death, Saddam was Iraq's Betsy, Bush I was Iraq's Camille, and Clinton was Iraq's Andrew. Blair is Iraq's global warming, making all the other storms worse.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I've already used my quote du jour, but...

We have a president who is apparently ill-informed, lackadaisical and narrow-minded, surrounded by oil baron cronies, religious fundamentalist crazies and right-wing extremists and ideologues. He has appointed officials who give incompetence new meaning, who replace the positive role of government with expensive baloney.

They rode into office in a highly contested election, spouting a message of bipartisanship but determined to undermine the federal government in every way but defense (and, after 9/11, one presumed, homeland security). One with Grover Norquist, they were determined to shrink Washington until it was "small enough to drown in a bathtub." Katrina has stripped the veil from this mean-spirited strategy, exposing the greed, mindlessness and sheer profiteering behind it.

It is time to hold them accountable - this ugly, troglodyte crowd of Capital Beltway insiders, rich lawyers, ideologues, incompetents and their strap-hangers should be tarred, feathered and ridden gracefully and mindfully out of Washington and returned to their caves, clubs in hand.
-- Gordon Adams


The incredible bulk

Louisiana: 51,840 sq mi
Mississippi: 48,430 sq mi
Alabama: 52,419 sq mi
Entire United States: 3,794,083 sq mi
Europe: 3,998,000 sq mi
Katrina's devastation ... covers what Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska described as twice the size as Europe.
That's from a NY Times article today. The Times doesn't bother to correct the Senator. The article is about the $51.8 billion aid bill that aWol is trying to shove through Congress. To see exactly how clueless the Times really is, read this paragraph:
The bulk of the money would go into a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund that is offering debit cards of $2,000 per household to families evacuated from homes in Louisiana and Mississippi. FEMA anticipates handing out 320,000 cards, at a cost of $640 million, to help displaced residents buy clothing, pay for transportation and other "emergency supplies they need," Director Michael Brown said.
Let me say first off that this is about the only thing the feds have done or proposed so far that I approve of--giving money directly to the people in need (although shouldn't it be per person rather than per household?). But $640 million is 1.2 percent of $51.8 billion. Calling that the "bulk" of the money is like saying that Ralph Nader got the "bulk" of the votes in the 2000 election. If we considered "bulk" to mean that at least half of the money went into these debit cards, every one of those 320,000 households would be getting over $80,000 each. THAT might actually enable them to rebuild their lives, rather than just keep from starving for the next month or two.

The real bulk of the money will almost certainly be directed by the Bush cronies at FEMA into the hands of the usual suspects--Halliburton, Bechtel, and other cogs in the Repug looting machine. They'll get paid for demolishing people's houses, and then get paid again for building (some of) them crappy new ones. It worked (for them) in Iraq; it will work in New Orleans. If you have any faith left in our system, you might want to call Congress and tell them not to approve any funding which funnels the money through FEMA--at least until Brown and the rest of the political appointees are sacked. Past Peak has more on the $51 billion boondoggle (and here). And while you're at it, maybe a little e-mail to the NY Times asking them why their reporters don't bother to check facts, now that it's easier than ever?

And isn't it amazing that you could give, say, every resident of Cincinnati or Buffalo $2000 a month for less than it is costing us to destroy Iraq?

In case you've been distracted...

Iraq is still an ongoing disaster. Juan Cole calls for Rummy's resignation. At least the Louisiana National Guard will finally come home (which may not be there anymore).

Haven't they suffered enough?

Rescuing people is not the priority

"We all want to be the guys who rescue people," Commander Holdener said. "But they were told we have other missions we have to do right now and that is not the priority."
That's from a NY Times article about two Navy helicopter pilots who rescued some 110 people from rooftops and other endangered locations in New Orleans the day after Katrina, only to be reprimanded by their "superiors" for having done so. One was assigned to kennel duty.

Detention Camp Utah

Armed guards, barbed wire, 20 miles from town, no way to get there. They weren't told where they were going. It's how we treated the mostly innocent people at Guantanamo, and it's how we're treating the refugees from New Orleans.

Quote du jour

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area," Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, said on CBS's "Early Show." "So I'm asking Congress, please investigate this now. Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."
-- WaPo


From Don Wright.

Blaming Bush

Slate has an entire section of cartoons about blaming Bush. Some samples:

From Brian Adcock.

From Matt Bors.

Protecting those least at risk

Following up on my post from yesterday, take a look at the map Bob Harris drew:

After I saw the list of parishes yesterday, my first thought was to check and see how they voted in 2004. But the few parishes which went for Kerry were scattered around the state, in both protected and non-protected areas. Harris checked out a bunch of other criteria: "The map doesn't correlate in any way I can find with demographics, income, voting patterns, campaign contributions, or the like."

Nope. Apparently the only criterion for being eligible for federal disaster relief in Louisiana was that you were unlikely to need it. Well, the Bushies give large amounts of anti-terror funds to Wyoming, don't they? Pretty good evidence that W is indeed the antichrist--always helping those least in need.

[Update] Chris Floyd, who first noticed that the state of emergency declaration seemed to put the feds in charge, but missed the strange details about the parishes, updates and clarifies.
Bush himself was touting his Aug. 27 declaration the very next day, at a press appearance at his fake ranch in Crawford, saying, "Yesterday, I signed a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana, and this morning I signed a disaster declaration for the state of Mississippi. These declarations will allow federal agencies to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials. We will do everything in our power to help the people in the communities affected by this storm."

By Wednesday, Aug. 31, the White House was clearly saying that the federal government was in charge of the disaster response: "The President Has Given The Department Of Homeland Security (DHS) Authority To Coordinate The Response. The President announced that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will chair the interagency task force while Michael Brown, DHS Undersecretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, is serving as the Administration's lead on the ground."

In case you tuned in late, the issue here, at least to start with, is the Bushies' (and their limbaughtomized minions') attempts to blame all of the failures of the New Olreans relief "efforts" on Mayor Nagin or Governor Blanco, or basically anyone but themselves.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More than just incompetence

As I said yesterday, the scariest part of the New Orleans debacle is the possibility that the Bushies aren't clueless. For a hint to what they might actually be up to, check out Xymphora. Xymphora suggests:
Bush used the starving people of New Orleans as hostages to blackmail the Governor into turning the city over to his troops so he could:
  1. hand out all the reconstruction contracts to friends of the Bush Crime Family such as Halliburton; and

  2. use his soldiers to control the exit and return of the inhabitants of New Orleans, to ensure that 'undesirables' - blacks and poor white race traitors who like living in a predominantly black culture - never come back so he can rebuild the city as an amusement park for white tourists.
Are they that evil? Of course. Are they clever enough to pull it off? Probably not. Are Americans smart enough to figure it out? Almost certainly not.

Escape from New Orleans

Two paramedics who had been attending an EMS conference in New Orleans tell their story of survival in Lake George. Lied to by cops, threatened and robbed by sheriffs, totally ignored by FEMA. Their conclusion:
Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.

Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

US drowning in Lake George

That's from Bob Harris, who also has a tidy summary of many of the countless screwups/crimes/idiocies committed by aWol and his gang of thieves with respect to Katrina.

While others rush out, they rush in--to pass out fliers

FEMA put out a call for trained firefighters from around the country to help with Katrina relief, and about 1000 responded. They're being paid by their local governments. And what is FEMA doing with them? Having them pass out fliers.

Actually, one group was lucky enough to serve as extras in a pResidential photo op:


From Tom Tomorrow, we learn that when aWol declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, on August 27, two days before Katrina hit. The declaration authorizes DHS (Gestapo) and FEMA (Keystone Cops) to coordinate disaster relief efforts--in those parishes least likely to need it! New Orleans and the coastal parishes were left out, while those in the largely unthreatened (and eventually unscathed) northwest of the state were included.

The followup declaration, after Katrina hit, does provide for Federal funding to be made available to the actually affected counties--through local government in some parishes, directly to individuals in others. It doesn't mention responsibility for coordinating relief efforts.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

It's scary to think that the Bushies are so clueless...

But it's scarier to consider the possibility that they aren't.

Explaining the pitiful response to Katrina

Why the Bushies were slow to react:
  1. 2005 is not an election year, and Louisiana is not a swing state.
  2. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco is not George Bush's brother, or sister, for that matter.
Read Billmon's two posts comparing FEMA's response to Florida's hurricanes last year with its response to Katrina.

Bush is an SOB--literally

"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." -- Barbara "Beautiful Mind" Bush, talking about her visit with Katrina refugees in the Houston Astrodome.

Right. I lost my $50,000 shotgun house, and ended up in this $100 million stadium! Lucky me!

I guess we know where aWol got compassion from--nobody.

Quote du jour

The destruction of New Orleans is the responsibility of the most incompetent government in American history and perhaps in all history. Americans are rapidly learning that they were deceived by the superpower hubris. The powerful US military cannot successfully occupy Baghdad or control the road to the airport--and this against an insurgency based in only 20% of the Iraqi population. Bush's pointless war has left Washington so pressed for money that the federal government abandoned New Orleans to catastrophe.
-- Paul Craig Roberts


From Chris Britt.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Online poll

CNN asks "Do you agree with former President Clinton that government "failed" the people in the aftermath of Katrina?" Currently 80% yes, 20% no.


If you haven't seen the video of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard from yesterday's Meet the Press, you should see it now. FEMA wasn't just slow and incompetent in providing relief--they actually blocked relief. Broussard is right--the idiots at the top of this totem pole--Brown, Chertoff and Bush--need to resign or be fired RIGHT NOW, because this isn't over, and they have proven themselves to be incompetent at best, criminal at worst.

USA Libre

Truthout's Marjorie Cohn compares the Bushies total Cheney-up in the response to Katrina with Cuba's response to category five Ivan last year:
Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died.

What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go."

"Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes. Contrast this with George W. Bush's reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bush was playing golf. He waited three days to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster site. In a scathing editorial on Thursday, the New York Times said, "nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

"Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable" in Cuba, Valdes said. "Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin."

They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff," Valdes observed.
Category five hits Cuba, destroys 20,000 houses, nobody dies. Category four hits US, maybe 10,000 die. No wonder the Bushies hate Castro--he makes them look bad (of course, that's awfully easy).


After hurricane Ivan just missed nailing New Orleans last year, Mike Davis (author of Ecology of Fear) wrote this:
The evacuation of New Orleans in the face of Hurricane Ivan looked sinisterly like Strom Thurmond's version of the Rapture. Affluent white people fled the Big Easy in their SUVs, while the old and car-less -- mainly Black -- were left behind in their below-sea-level shotgun shacks and aging tenements to face the watery wrath.

New Orleans had spent decades preparing for inevitable submersion by the storm surge of a class-five hurricane. Civil defense officials conceded they had ten thousand body bags on hand to deal with the worst-case scenario. But no one seemed to have bothered to devise a plan to evacuate the city's poorest or most infirm residents. The day before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, New Orlean's daily, the Times-Picayune, ran an alarming story about the "large group…mostly concentrated in poorer neighborhoods" who wanted to evacuate but couldn't.
Over the last generation, City Hall and its entourage of powerful developers have relentlessly attempted to push the poorest segment of the population -- blamed for the city's high crime rates -- across the Mississippi river. Historic Black public-housing projects have been razed to make room for upper-income townhouses and a Wal-Mart. In other housing projects, residents are routinely evicted for offenses as trivial as their children's curfew violations. The ultimate goal seems to be a tourist theme-park New Orleans -- one big Garden District -- with chronic poverty hidden away in bayous, trailer parks and prisons outside the city limits.
Jonathan at Past Peak points out that several officials are already claiming that New Orleans is "completely destroyed," and I saw on NBC tonight that they intend to forcibly remove anyone trying to stay in his or her house. Jonathan comments:
Yes, it sounds too evil to be true, but we appear to be looking at a deliberate program of ethnic cleansing. Wait and watch. A lot of people with ties to the administration are going to make a ton of money on the contracts to clear and rebuild a Disney-fied version of what was one of the world's great cities.
And while it's not in New Orleans, Halliburton already has its first Katrina contract.

Insensitivity Bowl?

Right now, Florida State is playing Miami on ABC. That's right--it's the Seminoles against the Hurricanes.

From Slowpoke.


On Saturday US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao announced that the government would spend a paltry $60 million to provide a mere 10,000 temporary jobs for workers who have been forced to evacuate the area. There were 600,000 non-farm jobs in the New Orleans metropolitan area, almost all of which have disappeared. The US is currently spending upwards of $200 million a day on the war in Iraq.

Some quality Bush-bashing on Katrina

Paul Krugman:
The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.
Bob Herbert:
Neither the death of the chief justice nor the frantic efforts of panicked White House political advisers can conceal the magnitude of the president's failure of leadership last week. The catastrophe in New Orleans billowed up like the howling winds of hell and was carried live and in color on television screens across the U.S. and around the world.

The Big Easy had turned into the Big Hurt, and the colossal failure of George W. Bush to intervene powerfully and immediately to rescue tens of thousands of American citizens who were suffering horribly and dying in agony was there for all the world to see.
Michael Moore:
Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

No more green premium!

I went to Wacker Oil in Manchester yesterday to fill up my VW with B99 biodiesel. The price was $2.79 a gallon--the cheapest fuel they had there! (I think ordinary diesel was $2.81, regular gasoline was $3.09.) The guy at Wacker said they expected the price of biodiesel to go down, because the Detroit facility making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil is supposed to be in operation soon. See my report on the biodiesel bus tour for more about the Detroit biodiesel plant.

Last year, I paid a "green premium" of about $1 a gallon for using biodiesel. Now, with rising oil prices and a modest tax incentive for biodiesel blenders, I actually get a "green discount!"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

From Pat Bagley.

From Matt Wuerker.

From Joe Heller.

From Ted Rall.

Jerkoff--"I'm friggin' clueless"

CNN finally does the kind of reporting it should have been doing for the past five years--Bushies lie, and they point it out. In this article they quote Gestapo Chief Chertoff doing his best Condiliar imitation, saying that no one could have imagined what Katrina might do to New Orleans. But, unlike the lies the Bushies told about Iraq's alleged WMD's, CNN takes every lie Jerkoff tells and slams him with quotes from the Corps of Engineers, local media, professors, and other officials which directly contradict everything the slimeball is saying.

Based on Jerkoff's statements, one would have to assume that the Department of Homeland Security is unaware of the following possibilities:
  • A major earthquake hitting California causing many casualties and disruption of services.
  • Large forest fires threatening western cities.
  • Terrorist attacks on subways.
  • The failure of control systems at a nuclear power plant leading to a meltdown or significant release of radioactive materials.
  • Accidental or intentional explosions at major chemical facilities causing the release of deadly toxins.
  • Terrorist attacks on the numerous military stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in this country.
  • Airplanes crashing into buildings.
Here are my new slogans for the two government agencies which have been exposed this week:
  • FEMA: Excuses, not relief.
  • Department of Homeland Security: Color codes, not protection.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Guest Blogger--Dennis Kucinich

Okay, Dennis doesn't really know he's my guest blogger. He gave a great speech today and I'm copying it here:
WASHINGTON - September 2 - Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) gave the following speech today on the House floor during a special session to provide relief money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina:

“This amount of money is only a fraction of what is needed and everyone here knows it. Let it go forward quickly with heart-felt thanks to those who are helping to save lives with necessary food, water, shelter, medical care and security. Congress must also demand accountability with the appropriations. Because until there are basic changes in the direction of this government, this tragedy will multiply to apocalyptic proportions.

“The Administration yesterday said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees. Did the Administration not see or care about the 2001 FEMA warning about the risk of a devastating hurricane hitting the people of New Orleans? Did it not know or care that civil and army engineers were warning for years about the consequences of failure to strengthen the flood control system? Was it aware or did it care that the very same Administration which decries the plight of the people today, cut from the budget tens of millions needed for Gulf-area flood control projects?

“Countless lives have been lost throughout the South with a cost of hundreds of billions in ruined homes, businesses, and the destruction of an entire physical and social infrastructure.

“The President said an hour ago that the Gulf Coast looks like it has been obliterated by a weapon. It has. Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction.

“Our indifferent government is in a crisis of legitimacy. If it continues to ignore its basic responsibility for the health and welfare of the American people, will there ever be enough money to clean up after their indifference?

“As our government continues to squander human and monetary resources of this country on the war, people are beginning to ask, “Isn’t it time we began to take care of our own people here at home? Isn’t it time we rescued our own citizens? Isn’t it time we fed our own people? Isn’t it time we sheltered our own people? Isn’t it time we provided physical and economic security for our own people?” And isn’t it time we stopped the oil companies from profiting from this tragedy?

“We have plenty of work to do here at home. It is time for America to come home and take care of its own people who are drowning in the streets, suffocating in attics, dying from exposure to the elements, oppressed by poverty and illness, wracked with despair and hunger and thirst.

“The time is NOW to bring back to the United States the 78,000 National Guard troops currently deployed overseas into the Gulf Coast region.

“The time is NOW to bring back to the US the equipment which will be needed for search and rescue, for clean up and reclamation.

“The time is NOW for federal resources, including closed Army bases, to be used for temporary shelter for those who have been displaced by the hurricane.

“The time is NOW to plan massive public works, with jobs going to the people of the Gulf Coast states, to build new levees, new roads, bridges, libraries, schools, colleges and universities and to rebuild all public institutions, including hospitals. Medicare ought to be extended to everyone, so every person can get the physical and mental health care they might need as a result of the disaster.

“The time is NOW for the federal government to take seriously the research of scientists who have warned for years about the dangers of changes in the global climate, and to prepare other regions of the country for other possible weather disasters until we change our disastrous energy policies.

“The time is NOW for changes in our energy policy, to end the domination of oil and fossil fuel and to invest heavily in alternative energy, including wind and solar, geothermal and biofuels.

“As bad as this catastrophe will prove to be, it is in fact only a warning. Our government must change its direction, it must become involved in making America a better place to live, a place where all may survive and thrive. It must get off the path of war and seek the path of peace, peace with the natural environment, peace with other nations, peace with a just economic system.”
Here's a guy who knows what the problems are and how to fix them. He ran for president but we were told that he was "unelectable," and forced to choose between two candidates who were unacceptable. There were lots of misguided priorities and mistakes by the federal government which made this disaster far worse than it had to be. But the one priority at the core of the problem, the one which diverted the most money, personnel and equipment which could have helped the people in New Orleans and the Gulf region, was the criminal, totally unnecessary war in Iraq. George Bush insisted on it. John Kerry and John Edwards supported him and enabled him to go ahead with the war. Dennis Kucinich opposed the war consistently. He knew Bush was lying, and said so.

Having opposed the war in Iraq should be the sine qua non litmus test for 2008 presidential candidates. Anyone who voted for that war has demonstrated clearly that he or she is unfit to lead. NO Hillary. NO Biden. No Kerry. No Edwards.

Kucinich. Lee. Feingold. Rowley. Sheehan. We need to start the buzz for good candidates that can overwhelm the big-money scumbags the Republicrats keep vomiting up.

Lake George

Via Wonkette, an e-mail from an anonymous EPA employee:
We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.

The NO paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has had massive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush — they do great work when they're funded. This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions.

Magnificent job

I've quickly developed an intense disliking for Gestapo Direktor Jerkoff. From CNN:
Terry Ebbert, New Orleans' homeland security chief, told WWL-TV that he thinks FEMA's response to the disaster has been an "embarrassment." Walter Maestri, the emergency management director in suburban Jefferson Parish, said FEMA and other federal agencies are not delivering help nearly as fast as it is needed.

Yet, back in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CNN Thursday that he believes he thinks FEMA and other federal agencies have done a "magnificent job" under difficult circumstances to deal with the unprecedented disaster, citing their "courage" and "ingenuity."

Insisting that aid is coming as fast as possible, Chertoff said, "You can't fly helicopters in a hurricane. You can't drive trucks in a hurricane."
You know what, Jerkoff? There hasn't been a hurricane in New Orleans since Monday morning. And there wasn't one last week either, although you knew it was coming.

In World War II, the US military supplied the Chinese nationalists fighting the Japanese by "flying the hump" of the Himalayas. Convoys of Liberty ships sailed through the Arctic Ocean around the north end of Norway, dodging German U-boats and bombers, to deliver weapons, ammunition and other supplies to the Red Army. Five years later, the Air Force undertook the massive Berlin airlift to break the Soviet siege of that city. Now, we've got tens of thousands of people trapped in one of our own cities, and all you can offer them is lame excuses?

If this is a "magnificent job," I shudder to think about what Jerkoff might consider to be "adequate."

Quote du jour

In the figure of the president, George W. Bush, the incompetence, stupidity, and sheer inhumanity that characterize so much of America’s money-mad corporate elite find their quintessentially repulsive expression.
-- World Socialist Web Site


A Siege of Incompetence

From the WSWS:
The desperation of those seeking to get out of the city was evident. According to one report, after failing to get on a Houston-bound bus, a woman handed her two-month-old child over to a stranger on the vehicle, asking her to save her baby.

When the going gets tough...

The tough go shopping. While the poor folks of New Orleans, mostly African-American, are suffering and dying in the streets, the most prominent African-American in the Bush administration took the opportunity to go to New York for a Broadway show and shoe shopping.

Meanwhile, her boss did his best Condi "I'm totally clueless" imitation yesterday, telling Good Morning America "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post blasts that stupid lie out of the water (so to speak).

Just for starters, how about Sunday's New Orleans Times-Picayune , which described a computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center. "It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City."

Or Monday's New York Times , in which New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is quoted as saying that "Hurricane Katrina could bring 15 inches of rain and a storm surge of 20 feet or higher that would 'most likely topple' the network of levees and canals that normally protect the bowl-shaped city from flooding.

And as Andrew C. Revkin and Christopher Drew write in today's New York Times: "The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years."

Forrest Gump put it best: Stupid is as stupid does. And aWol and Condiliar make Forrest look like an absolute genius.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Zero tolerance

From the White House press briefing:
Q Scott, do you cited the President's zero tolerance for insurance fraud, looting, price gouging. Does he make any allowance for people who have yet to receive aid who are taking things like water or food or shoes to walk among the debris?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you heard from the President earlier today about his zero tolerance. We understand the need for food and water and supplies of that nature. That's why we have a massive effort underway to continue getting food and water and ice to those who are in need. There are ways for them to get that help. Looting is not the way for them to do it.
As with the previous post below, Scottie the disassembler (sic intended) refuses to get the question. No matter how "massive" the effort is (not massive enough, clearly), there ARE thousands of people without water or food or shoes, and without any way to get them except for looting. But for aWol and Scottie, it's "Let them eat cake lead."

Jerkoff Responds

Gestapo Director Michael Chertoff "answered" questions on the White House web site. I submitted one, which unfortunately I didn't think to save. But it was pretty much along the lines of the question asked here:
Susan, from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina writes:
The country knew that Katrina was going to make landfall again. There was time to prepare, to get people out who had no means of their own to leave the targeted area. Why didn't the government act at that time and mobilize buses, trains and planes then? Why didn't we as a country do anything POSSIBLE to decrease the number of people left in harm's way?

Michael Chertoff
Federal, state and local governments took extraordinary steps to warn citizens and prepare local communities prior to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. Advance response and recovery equipment was pre-staged and ready for deployment to immediately respond to state and local requests for help. Prior to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall earlier this week, FEMA Director Mike Brown arrived to coordinate advance support and work with state and local officials to advise citizens and prepare local communities.

FEMA mobilized resources, pre-positioned equipment, and staged personnel and supplies prior to the impact of the storm to ensure needed assistance and supplies would be quickly available to respond to requests for aid. Emergency supplies including water, ice, MREs (meals-ready-to-eat), tarps and plastic sheeting were pre-staged throughout the Gulf Coast region to ensure immediate deployment to damaged areas. At the end of the day, even though we pre-positioned a massive amount of resources, we have still struggled to deploy these resources due to the incredibly difficult operating environment posed by the hurricane and the massive flooding.

This remains one of the largest search and rescue operations in United States history. The U.S. Coast Guard pre-positioned helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft prior to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall to support response activities. Since then, the U.S. Coast Guard has rescued nearly 3,000 individuals.

We recognize the need to move fast and we are working tirelessly to get to those in need.
Notice how Jerkoff in no way answers Susan's question. She asked why the Gestapo and other agencies didn't assist people in getting out of New Orleans before the storm. Jerkoff had no answer, so like all sleazebag politicians he answered the question he wished Susan had asked. The truth seems appallingly obvious--none of the authorities, especially the Bushies, cared about the fate of the poor people of New Orleans. They knew the big one would come, they knew there were tens of thousands of people without cars, and they provided them with no way out (and still haven't, really).

Watch this MSNBC video

Here. Unfortunately, it only seems to work from Internet Explorer (that's the "MS" in "MSNBC"), but it's well worth watching. It looks like NBC's Tony Zumbado is the best and maybe only spokesperson the poor, sick, starving people of New Orleans have right now.

Blaming the victim

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff:
The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."
Jerkoff apparently doesn't realize that being poor means that you don't have a lot of choices. You can't fill up the SUV you don't own with the $2.60 a gallon (last Sunday's price) gasoline you can't afford to drive to a no-vacancy motel you still couldn't afford. You might have been able to afford a $10 bus ticket to somewhere, back when the roads were still above water, if someone in the government, at Homeland Security say, had seen fit to arrange for buses (and been callous enough to charge for them). But you weren't given that choice then--it was drown in your home or the Superdome. It appears that both options had plenty of takers.

Digby points out that getting out wasn't even an option for many who could afford to:
For Christ's sake the tourists couldn't get out either. All the rental cars were booked and the airport was closed. Lucky for them, most of them were staying in high rise hotels and they rode out the storm. And now they have someplace to go --- home. The locals who didn't have cars aren't quite so lucky, are they?
The performance of the Bush administration before, during and after Katrina has been atrocious. Lots of people are dying because of this. And the Bushies are blaming the victims. Facing South suggests calling your congresscritters and tell them to light a fire under the nincompoops at the White House. Blame the people in charge, not their victims.
Dry New Orleans:


Wet New Orleans:


Gulfport before Katrina:

Gulfport after Katrina:

American Refugees

Better get used to it. And don't forget that last November the American military created scenes like this in Fallujah on purpose.

Welcome to Texas

Armed Texas game wardens surround a group of individuals who stole a mail truck to escape the flooded areas of New Orleans East August 31, 2005. The people were freed but forced to continue on foot.

Remember the good ol' days of $3 a gallon gas?

Gas station in Stockbridge, Georgia on Wednesday.

Domeland Security

What a nightmare: the NY Times story about the hell-on-earth that the New Orleans Superdome has been the last few days.
They had flocked to the arena seeking sanctuary from the winds and waters of Hurricane Katrina. But understaffed, undersupplied and without air-conditioning or even much lighting, the domed stadium quickly became a sweltering and surreal vault, a place of overflowing toilets and no showers. Food and water, blankets and sheets, were in short supply. And the dome's reluctant residents exchanged horror stories, including reports, which could not be confirmed by the authorities, of a suicide and of rapes.
"It's worse than a prison," said Mr. Childs, who knew something about the subject, having spent three months in the Orleans Parish Prison on a drunken-driving charge. "In prison you have a place to urinate, a place for other bathroom needs. Here you get no water, no toilets, no lights. You get all that in prison."

Comments on Katrina

Excerpts from recent columns:
Why can't the US government focus on America's needs and leave other countries alone? Why are American troops in Iraq instead of protecting our own borders from a mass invasion by illegal immigrants? Why are American helicopters blowing up Iraqi homes instead of saving American homes in New Orleans?

How can the Bush administration be so incompetent as to expose Americans at home to dire risks by exhausting American resources in foolish foreign adventures? What kind of "homeland security" is this?

All Bush has achieved by invading Iraq is to kill and wound thousands of people while destroying America's reputation. The only beneficiaries are oil companies capitalizing on a good excuse to jack up the price of gasoline and Osama bin Laden's recruitment.

What we have is a Republican war for oil company profits while New Orleans sinks beneath the waters.
-- Paul Craig Roberts

The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level.
Bush said there was no money for this kind of folderol anymore. The federal budget had been busted by his tax cuts and his war. And this was a deliberate policy: as Bush's mentor Grover Norquist famously put it, the whole Bushist ethos was to starve the federal government of funds, shrinking it down so "we can drown it in the bathtub." As it turned out, the bathtub wasn't quite big enough -- so they drowned it in the streets of New Orleans instead.

But as culpable, criminal and loathsome as the Bush Administration is, it is only the apotheosis of an overarching trend in American society that has been gathering force for decades: the destruction of the idea of a common good, a public sector whose benefits and responsibilities are shared by all, and directed by the consent of the governed. For more than 30 years, the corporate Right has waged a relentless and highly focused campaign against the common good, seeking to atomize individuals into isolated "consumer units" whose political energies ­ kept deliberately underinformed by the ubiquitous corporate media ­ can be diverted into emotionalized "hot button" issues (gay marriage, school prayer, intelligent design, flag burning, welfare queens, drugs, porn, abortion, teen sex, commie subversion, terrorist threats, etc., etc.) that never threaten Big Money's bottom line.
-- Chris Floyd

The destruction of New Orleans-a catastrophe far worse than anything Osama Bin Laden could hope to wreak, considering the number of deaths, the closing down of a major U.S. port city for months, the destruction of an urban environment that will take years to repair, and the devastating disruption of one-fourth of the nation's oil production, which is likely to initiate a national recession-gives final proof of the stupidity and criminality of the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq and of the bankruptcy of the Democratic so-called oppositon.
How stupid is it that we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on programs that are supposedly designed to deter or interdict terrorists-a nearly hopeless endeavor given the ease with which terrorists can just figure out new ways around each new program.

The most a terrorist attack can hope to do is bring down a few buildings and kill a few hundred people, while natural disasters can do tens of billions in damage, wreck a national economy, displace hundreds of thousands, and kill thousands. And unlike with terrorism, there are things that can actually be done to guard against or mitigate natural disasters.

Not, however, if all the government's resources are being diverted to war.

It is high time that the American public recognize that even if they don't have a relative at risk in Iraq, even if they don't personally feel the impact of that war in any obvious way, the whole nation is being put at risk by Bush's Iraq folly.
-- Dave Lindorff.

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.
-- NY Times editorial.

Who gives a hoot if they loot?

The WSWS has a good article about the media-fueled insane reaction by authorities to the "problem" of looting in New Orleans.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered nearly the entire active police force in the flood-ravaged city to abandon rescue operations Wednesday night and focus on efforts to halt looting. The decision came in response to mounting pressure from sensationalized media coverage which is increasingly placing emphasis on the property damage done by looters, suggesting that it has become nearly as significant a social problem as the virtual destruction of the city by Hurricane Katrina.
Nagin apparently had a decent understanding of the situation before he started getting pressure from the fascist media:
It is noteworthy that only 12 hours before he ordered the police mobilization, Mayor Nagin brusquely rejected a question about looting from Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s Today program, telling him the media was grossly exaggerating the significance of a relative handful of people taking television sets and other electronic goods. The bulk of the “theft,” he pointed out, was desperate people taking food, bottled water and clothing to meet their immediate needs.

In a subsequent press interview, Nagin said, “It’s really difficult because my opinion of the looting is it started with people running out of food, and you can’t really argue with that too much. Then it escalated to this kind of mass chaos where people are taking electronic stuff and all that.”
While I'm sure there are a few people dumb enough to steal TV's and stereos when they don't have any dry place to put them and won't have any electricity for months (and certainly won't be allowed to take that stuff with them when they are evacuated), there can't be that many, and they'll certainly stop soon. But people taking badly needed food, water and medicine while authorities outside New Orleans are trying to figure out how to get food, water and medicine INTO New Orleans? Let 'em "loot!" Much of the stuff will go bad or be ruined by the flood anyway--and why not just promise to reimburse "looted" stores rather than spending the money on shipping in food from elsewhere and cops to stop the "looting?"

[Update] From CNN:
President Bush, in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," said that their should be "zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this."
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that she was "just furious" about the lawlessness.

"We'll do what it takes to bring law and order to our region," she said.
"Zero tolerance." Exactly the level of sympathy and understanding I'd expect from Nero Zero, a man who loots globally for no good reason.

Blame Bush!

Joseph Cannon gives a lecture to red staters complaining about those of us who point out the obvious about the relationship between aWol and Katrina:
Bush caused this disaster by ignoring global warming. He caused it by listening to quack pseudoscientists instead of real scientists.

Bush caused this disaster by un-funding SELA, a program designed to keep levees at proper strength in New Orleans. A simple fact of history: New Orleans -- the one major city in the south with culture and style -- was obliterated by Bush's refusal to fund hurricane and flood protection measures. Unforgivable!

Bush caused this disaster by squashing FEMA. Money was diverted from that agency to Iraq, leaving our emergency services impotent.

Bush caused this disaster by transferring the National Guard to Iraq, where they serve only one purpose: THEFT. Instead of protecting American citizens, our troops now protect Haliburton and other companies, who are carrying out their evil plan to buy up everything worth buying in that country. The money is being siphoned out of Iraq and into the pockets of Cheney, Bush and their greedy cronies.

Bush caused this easily-forecast disaster by not having troops on hand to evacuate citizens.

Bush caused this catastrophe by fiddling -- or GIT-tarring -- while New Orleans drowned.

That's the message you need to hear, you barbaric, Jesus-addled, Limbaugh-tomized red-state hicks.

[Update] Xymphora has a good list of reasons why this is Bush's fault.

From Bill Schorr.

From Matt Davies.

From Clay Bennett.

From Don Wright.

From Doonesbury.