Friday, September 30, 2005

Worth a thousand words

The Abu Gharib photos.

First off, I have to say that a defense of "If you release all these photos they could harm our image!" isn't the best defense in the world to make. Kinda makes it difficult to argue the photos are innocent. We did absolutely nothing wrong, but don't let anyone see these pictures, it could hurt our image. Huh? Couldn't any criminal make this claim? "Don't put my name on a list of convicted child abusers - it could hurt my image." We wouldn't buy THAT argument - why should we buy this one? Judge Hellerstein said it best: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."

When the news of these photos - the ones that the Bush Admin tried to suppress - came out, I e-mailed a discussion group and said, "If there are true, we've lost the war." These are the bad ones, the ones that even Rush Limbaugh can't explain away as "blowing off some steam" (which did make me wonder exactly where Rushie pledged). These are the ones that can't be defended at all - rape, murder, and the raping of young kids done on camera, if what Seymour Hersh claimed is true. We know the pictures and videotape contained acts of rape and murder - Congressmen who saw the tapes said so. I can only hope the claim of kids being raped are wrong. All of these acts are unforgivable - but raping kids deserves a special level in Hell. (As a side note, compare how hard the Bush Admin. fought to keep these tapes and pictures out of the public eye to the energy placed into investigating Captain Ian Fishback's abuse reports.)

There's still an appeals process, and knowing the Bush penchant for keeping bad facts out, I wouldn't be surprised if they try to classify these things as a last attempt to keep them out of the public eye. I, for one, would love to see that all the original reports were wrong - but the more they try and hide them, the more I don't think that will happen.

Piss off a Lock Brain!

Read a banned book.

I'm ashamed to admit that Banned Books Week is almost over by the time I realize it's happening. Color me behind the news. However, to celebrate it, go to this list of challenged books (read "Books that didn't say what I wanted them to say" there) and buy one, or check it out of the local library, and read it. See how many people say anything about it to you, if any, given our increasingly post-literate society. (When I hear that the average amount of books an American buys is around two a month or so, I wince, thinking that I buy 10-15 a how many people aren't buying any at all on average?) Note those people, and now you know who you can have fun with. For example, I almost sent a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to the people I know who are actively trying to ban it here. I wanted to see how fast a minister would come out to their house for some kind of spiritual cleansing. I didn't send the books in the end...but I really came close.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"THEY deserve it!"

The shorter version of Hank Erwin's theory about the devastation of Katrina. As noted in the article, he's in good fruitcake company, at the table with al-Qaeda, Louis Farrakhan and Pat Robertson. (Sensing a theme there?) I personally think the lowlight of his ideas are the lines:

"He said he didn't think the hard-hit residents of the low-income lower 9th Ward were singled out for especially harsh punishment but were merely in the way, as were the shrimpers in the struggling fishing town of Bayou La Batre on the Alabama coast."

Just "in the way"? Hey, parents, really sorry you lost kids. Hey, spouses, damn shame about your love being killed. Hey, everyone who lost someone, I feel for you. But YOU WERE IN THE WAY.

I guess if Mr. Hank "God's will" Erwin gets hit by a drunk driver, he will demand that person be set free. After all, it's the same deal - he would have been "in the way". Or if his house is destroyed by some natural disaster - maybe all his hot air causing a fire - it was "in the way" of God's will. Heck, I bet "Hairshirt" Hank won't even file for insurance then.

He also vomits: "America has been moving away from God," Erwin said. "We all need to embrace godliness and church-going and good, godly living, and we can get divine protection for that point." 'cause you know every single person killed by Katrina wasn't embracing godliness and church-going and good, godly living. Mr. Erwin said so. Or were they, and they were just in the way?

There are cases of open mouth, insert foot. There are cases of open mouth, swallow foot. And then there are these cases - open mouth, remove brain.

Lord, protect me from your so-called followers.

Scopes 2

(What the heck, I'll follow the current meme here.)

As some of you may know, there's a case in Dover, PA, concerning Intelligent Design. At first, the School Board wanted to force the teachers to teach this theory that's neither scientific nor intelligent instead of evolution. After the science teachers refused (and were called "atheists" for it, but remember, this isn't about religion) the Board settled on having them read a statement about Intelligent Design to the class instead, saying evolution is "not a fact" and has "inexplicable gaps", maybe hoping this would sneak by.

It didn't. The school board is now being sued to stop this anti-science position. The ACLU is part of this case, and for all the bad things I think they do, they are moving up in my opinion here.

Now, the defendants swear this isn't about religion, oh no, it's about offering alternatives. Yet, as mentioned, people against the IDiocy were called atheists. Also, for a while, the board was pushing a 50-50 split between evolution and creationism outright, I guess using Monday and Tuesday for creationism, Thursday and Friday for evolution, and on Wednesday a discussion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They tried to get the pro-ID book "Of Pandas and People" as the new textbook, and when that didn't fly, they held off ordering another science textbook because it was "laced with Darwinism". All this can be read here.

(And the defendants are claiming they have been misquoted but all the tapes that could verify this have been erased. Possibly by some (un)Intelligent Designer?)

Perhaps one of the lamest arguments the IDiocy people have come up with is the claim of "free speech." Brendan Nyhan demolishes this fallacy, and we have to if wonder that people who feel THIS is a good argument to make here should have ANY say in education at all. I think I'll demand that my school board start teaching the flat-earth theory as a part of freedom of speech.

Chris Mooney has been covering this trial, and has linked to a good new blog covering this and other cases as well. Balloon Juice has been commenting on it as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Acts of Nature, Ptui!

From Balloon Juice, we find that the Republicans have decided that little things like a category 4 hurricane, a city being devastated, being forced to go to a another city and live on the charity of others and the like just ain't enough reason to allow some wiggle room in the Credit Company Beneficiary Act, otherwise known as Bankruptcy "Reform".

But House Republicans, who fought off a proposed amendment that would have made bankruptcy filings easier for victims of natural disasters, said there was no reason to carve out a broad exemption just because of the storm.
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, rejected the notion of reopening the legislation, saying it already included provisions that would ensure that people left "down and out" by the storm would still be able to shed most of their debts. Lawmakers who lost the long fight over the law, he said, "ought to get over it," according to The Associated Press.

You may remember Sensenbrenner as the man who took his l'il gavel and sulked away during a Patriot Act hearing.

Those who try to beat the Oct. 17 deadline in hopes of filing under the less-onerous current law may find it impossible to do so, because residence rules generally require that individuals seek protection against creditors in their hometowns. (Assuming people in New Orleans can find their lawyers and records, they can file for bankruptcy protection in their bankruptcy court, which has reopened and is sharing space with another court in Baton Rouge.)

Moreover, most people displaced by the storm will probably not know for months if they even need to file for bankruptcy. By that time, the tougher new law will be in force.


The law has stiffer requirements as well for what records must be produced by the debtor. But hurricane victims will have a hard time doing that. "Thousands and thousands of people no longer have checkbooks, insurance papers, car titles (or cars), birth certificates, Social Security cards or wallets," a group of Louisiana lawyers said in a letter two weeks ago to the state's Congressional delegation.

Eh, get over it!

But here's the probable real reasons they don't want to allow this exemption:

Professor LoPucki said he thought the majority of lawmakers were averse to enacting blanket bankruptcy relief for hurricane victims because that might raise questions about why victims of other uncontrollable events - like accidents, major illnesses or mass layoffs - should not get a break, too.
"If you admit that the bill is bad for Katrina victims," he said, "then there's really no reason it isn't bad for the others, too. They're all in some kind of problem. For most of them, it's largely their fault. But for a lot of them, it isn't their fault."

Makes sense to me.

Brown down? Rebound!

I don't know why my jaw dropped when I heard that "heckuva" Brownie is still on the payroll at FEMA for consulting. I mean, I feel foolish for even being surprised. This is an administration that continually rewards errors and screwups (see reasons for invading Iraq, cost of Iraq war, plans for post-war Iraq, FEMA, fake news broadcasts, budgets...) and only slams down on people who dare to find fault with them(O'Neill, Shinseki). In their eyes, everything is forgivable except being correct about them being wrong.

And maybe it's possible the Bush people have pulled the ultimate fast one. Imagine:

"heckuva" Brownie: "I feel that FEMA did excellent with their pre-positioning."
Intelligent people: "Jumping Jiminy on a crutch, we better fix the pre-positioning plan!"
"heckuva" Brownie: "I am concerned about communications."
Intelligent people: "Get the people on the communications to help out with the pre-positioning, it must be okay."

It's the reverse oracle - what he predicts is always wrong!

And, um, why exactly do we trust "heckuva" Brownie to say where FEMA went wrong? According to him, it didn't. This would seem to be a very short-term consulting job. "What went wrong?" "Nothing!" "Okay, that's lunch!" Of course, this is following Bush's promise to investigate himself what went wrong on Katrina relief efforts, so we can say this for "heckuva" Brownie - He can follow a leader.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hey, FBI? I got one for you!

Alberto Gonzales has decided to spend the FBI's time and resources on hunting Not child porn. Porn involving consenting, informed adults. (But conservatives believe in individual rights, dammit - or was that the pre-Bush era?)

Already, one group has been hit by Operation Legal Poontang (nsfw). I'm sure many will follow.

So, FBI? I got one for you. From AmericaBlog, we get this charming place. I can hardly wait for these people to get shut down. And maybe we should check out some of the people submitting posts as well? Surely this is some violation of some military code somewhere? (Andrew Sullivan also mentioned this.)

You know, stuff like these sickos makes it a Hell of a lot easier to believe all the abuse stories are true - even before little things like, oh. evidence is considered.

Only 13? What was the cutoff?

From, we get this list of the thirteen most corrupt Congressmen:

Bill Frist
Roy Blunt
Conrad Burns
Bob Ney
Tom Feeney
Richard W. Pombo
Maxine Waters
Rick Santorum
Randy "Duke" Cunnigham
William J. Jefferson
Charles H. Taylor
Marilyn Musgrave
Rick Renzi

I know you're thinking "How did they stop at thirteen?" Me too. You may notice some people mentioned in here at times - Santorum and "Duke". And of course, they've got "Blind Trust" Frist in there as well.

If you live in a state with one of these fine, upstanding people representing you, why not write them a letter telling them how proud you are of their tireless work?

More Katrina

As you may know by now, Aaron Broussard's tearful story of an old woman who died due to FEMA's ineptitude has been debunked. He originally said:

Mr. Broussard: Sir, they were told, like me, every single day, “The cavalry is coming.” On the federal level, “The cavalry is coming. The cavalry’s coming. The cavalry’s coming.” The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard Nursing Home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” And he said, “Yeah, Mama. Somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday.” “Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday.” “Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday.” “Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.” And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

The owners of the nursing home are now known to have failed to evacuate when Katrina was coming, and are under arrest for negligent homicide, and the original story was wrong almost all the way around:

When told of the sequence of phone calls that Broussard described, Rodrigue said `No, no, that's not true. ...I contacted the nursing home two days before the storm [on Saturday, Aug. 27th] and again on [Sunday] the 28th. ...At the same time I talked to the nursing home I had also talked to the emergency encourage that nursing home to evacuate...' Rodrigue says he never made any calls after Monday, the day he figures his mother died... Officials believe the residents of St. Rita's died on Monday, the 29th, not on Friday, Sept. 2, as Broussard has suggested."

The Moderate Voice and Crooks and Liars, among others, take issue with how Russert handled this, for various reasons. TMV seems to feel that Russert went after the source, not the story, and by implication tried to make the Federal response all that much better. C&L seems to take issue with how Russert handled it, calling it "callous". (These are all my takes from their posts, of course.) I didn't see the interview and won't on my computer - I'm still on dial-up and watching videos is just slightly slower than waiting for Bush to take responsibillity for any errors he makes. However, if the story was wrong, it should have been corrected. It was a damning and personal instance on supposed FEMA errors and deserves to be checked out and honestly told. I can't say for how it was done or for what ulterior reasons, but the underlying truth must come out.

It seems like people who want to believe the Federal gov't is the only one at fault shrug aside this correction, saying 'there were other instances of FEMA errors' and the like. Which is true - but it doesn't make this story true by association. On the other hand, people who feel the Federal gov't are not to blame at all seem to take this story as proof that all claims of FEMA/Homeland Security mismanagement are false. Again, not true. By the same token, reports that the violence in the Superdome was drastically exaggerated has had some people crowing the Federal government didn't do a bad job after all, instead of saying that that's one area where they had misjudged Louisana - since before this news all the violence was Louisana's fault, not the Fed's (and if there was no violence...?) and the people who blame the Feds for everything again shrug their shoulders.

These two stories need to be truthfully told. (The media has to shoulder much blame here. Not biased, just bad.) But the debunking of one or two stories does not invalidate the many others by proxy. There are still several things all sides must be held accountable for.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lighter Stuff

I need a change of pace, so let's talk about some books and authors.

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. I picked up Soul Music in a Winn-Dixie across the street from me, read it, and started getting all his other books. (I have a weird thing - when I find a favorite author, I can tell you where I got the book and what it was. Stephen King = Pet Sematary, from a local grocery store. Harlan Ellison = Stalking the Nightmare, a local used book store. Peter Straub = Floating Dragon, local bookstore, on special sale. Kurt Vonnegut = Player Piano, another local used bookstore. Hey, I've already admitted I'm strange.) Terry Pratchett has a whole world, the Discworld, where almost all his stories take place, and it's funny, witty and often with some deep thoughts behind the story as well. Read Men At Arms, Hogfather, Reaper Man, Wyrd Sisters, Soul Music, Witches Abroad, The Truth, Going Postal, The Fifth Elephant, Feet of Clay...any of these will get you hooked on this series, and it will be an addiction well worth feeding.

Another one of my favorite authors is James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, from, as the movie came out.) Now, he's rough, no doubt about it, and his stories can be hard to follow, but it's well worth it. He writes in a style like Hemingway gone hard-core 50's gangster. Try reading American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand.

How about some lighter stuff, i.e. David Eddings? (Pawn of Prophecy, from my grandmother) This is not what you call deep stuff - he writes in five book series mostly, and you can pretty much tell where it's going from the first book down, but he writes well, and his characters are well drawn out. I read this when I don't really want to tackle anything hard; something to while away some time when I'm ready to go to sleep.

Robert McCammon (Boy's Life, from a bookstore to read on the plane to Europe for a summer semester) was a surprise. I had thought he was a knockoff Stephen King, and I was wrong. Boy's Life is one of my favorite books of all time, and I recommend almost all of his books, with the warning that the early ones show a writer in learning. He's admitted that basically he learned as he published, so while Night Boat is kinda schlocky, Mine and Swan Song and Stinger are exponentially better. Give him a go.

There's some suggestions to weigh down your bookcases.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Once Flooded, Twice Shy

Well, Nagin bowed to reality and to the Feds and called off Operation Water Slide, otherwise called "Laissez le paddleboats roulez!" And it only took the chance of Rita doing a Katrina sequel to make him.

And here we thought some people never learned.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Special Visitor to White House


Reality: "They weren't accepting my calls"

From Satire News Service

Today, Reality corporalized in the White House at a meeting between President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Head Michael Chertoff. In the middle of the meeting, where everyone was congratulating themselves on the success of the Katrina efforts, Iraq, the budget and many other items, there was a pop in the air and Reality itself appeared in the form of an accountant who could bench press a Buick.

"I had to do something," Reality told us later. "I had been trying to reach them for some time, and they weren't accepting my calls, my letters, my e-mails, my passed notes, and even the skywriting was ignored. It was this or a Strip-o-gram."

Reality immediately assailed them all for their refusal to hear bad news. "President Bush, you have been telling lies about the budget balancing itself as you refuse to cut spending or raise taxes. When the only time you draw a line in the sand about the budget's cost and then ignore it, you are NOT, sir, being a good economic manager of the United States! And what the Hell was "Mission Accomplished" and "No one thought the levees would break."? I mean, seriously, what the Hell was that? I won't even comment about "Bring them on!"

Reality turned to Cheney. "The insurgency is in its last throes? How can you say stuff like that without your nose growing? Have you read the reports? Or did you just guess?"

Rumsfeld had been trying to sneak out when reality grabbed him by the collar and dragged him back. "Okay, it's real simple," he said, making two charts appear from thin air. "TROOPS NEEDED IN IRAQ. Note this high line. TROOPS ASSIGNED TO IRAQ. Note this low line. Get the picture? Would you like to look at the chart labeled IRAQI FORCES READY TO SERVE? Or ARMOR NEEDED? Would you? I got a lot more, how much time you got?"

He then turned to Chertoff, sighed, and made a private appointment for later. "It'll take too long," he claimed. "Just take my word for it, you need a lot of checking from me."

A shaken Bush later stated, "Was THAT reality? I don't recall ever seeing him all these years I was in the White House!"

Do You Like Risk?

So New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin is calling for people to come back to New Orleans and get it running again. If this were an ad in a paper, it would probably read "Orphans preferred."

I mean, in addition to the probably toxic sludge coating a lot of New Orleans still, and the snarled traffic, and the devastated parishes around New Orleans that will cause some problems one way or another, and everything else going on down there, we're still not done with hurricane season yet. Rita's about to hit Florida, and that's just how Katrina started. Imagine if New Orleans gets hit AGAIN. And the Army Corps of Engineers have stated the levees are still very weak.

All in all, it seems it would be wiser to do something safer for a while. Say, take a job feeding tigers in a zoo while being covered in raw meat. Or walking down the slums of a city wearing a billboard that reads "I'VE GOT $5000 DOLLARS OF UNTRACEABLE MONEY ON ME AND NO ONE KNOWS WHERE I AM!"

You know, something like that.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Brown 2!

Bush catches all kinds of justified Hell for nominating an unqualified person to head FEMA. (And the Congressmen who vetted him and voted him in should also be nailed to the wall.) Showing his fast learning and his speed in understanding where he went wrong, he places Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction efforts in New Orleans.

I only wish this was a line from Letterman or Leno. But nope, this is our President at work here - no man too unqualified to be in charge, no offense too great to be fired for except disloyalty.

He's making a whole new layer of political Lysenkos to match his scientific ones - people who may not have any idea about the field they're in, but they fit what qualities Bush feels are important, namely a.)being a Republican and b.)being loyal.

This isn't good at all. But par for the course.

Witch Hunt?

Hearing about the Catholic Church's attempt to root out homosexuality in the priesthood makes me glad I decided to step away from the church a while back.

It seems like the powers-that-beautify are blaming homosexuals for the recent child abuse scandals, and therefore want to drive them out. Bastards like Bernard Law who facilitated and aided the abuse are fine and dandy for some odd reason, but for God's sake, don't be gay. Even if you never act on it, you'll be driven out.

Ignoring the obvious question of exactly HOW they will determine someone's sexual orientation ("Are you gay?" "No." "Are you SURE?") there's a deeper issue here, it seems. At least, it seems that way to me, and I state right off I am no expert.

But here's what I see happening: It appears the Catholic Church feels that homosexuality is part of what you are - close to a religious idea of genetic coding. They don't say, "If you are homosexual, stop doing it." They say, "If you are homosexual, you are not qualified to be a priest." They don't offer you a choice to stop it; they seem to say you ARE it. And being it, you can't be a priest.

So why is that disturbing to me? Because it seems to say, "We know that being gay is what you are - it's like having moles, or black hair. And because of that, regardless of whether or not you act on it, you are disallowed from being a priest. There's no chance of you changing what you are, and we don't like what you are."

Substitute the word "black" in there for gay, or "nearsighted" (which at least follows a Mosiac law anyway), or "lisping". It's very unfair for a Church to decide that uncontrollable factors that don't harm anyone are means for defrockment, to say the least. Let alone the fact that these factors may not even be acted on. Are heterosexual priests caught in affairs defrocked? At least one wasn't - he was allowed/encouraged to resign. Which isn't the same as being defrocked - when you get defrocked, you lose all priestly privileges and functions. Resigning doesn't involve the revoking of his functions.

But if you're a homosexual it doesn't matter - you're out. Being gay in and of itself is enough to get you removed from the priesthood, whereas abusing kids and having heterosexual affairs aren't in some cases. Is this fair at all to anyone? If a business decided to fire a man for being gay and not acting on it, but allowed someone who abused to kids to stay confident would you feel in patronizing it? (For that matter, when someone does this I would argue they may be bettter off away from the priesthood as well.)

Andrew Sullivan has some other thoughts about this as well. He's done a good job on pointing out the disparities the Church is pushing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Balancing Acts

I've been railing on FEMA and heckuva Brownie for some time, and I don't think I'm wrong. I saw several screw ups being made that are unconscionable for an agency supposed to be on the front line of natural disasters and terrorist attacks - the firefighters flap, the red tape holding up supplies, the dithering, the loss of communications (!!! - after the 9/11 attacks, this should have been one of the first things fixed, dammit!), the bungling of the rescue efforts in many places (the underuse of the Bataan, for example)...and these weren't just immediately after the levees broke. They have lasted up to the present day. I do think FEMA screwed up big time and Brown should have been fired, not allowed to resign.

However, in the interest of fairness, Protein Wisdom has been posting some defenses of FEMA, and at least in one case they may have a point - FEMA seemed to do a good job coordinating the National Guard people who came down to LA. (This is no way excuses their many other failings.) You can check them out for some defenses.

Also, the infamous pictures of school buses being used to slap Nagin around may have been in error. Media Matters has the story, and it seems like this talking point may fall away like "the Bataan never being called to duty" did.

Ding-Dong, Brownie's Gone!

The National Leader Ineptness warning system has lowered to fuschia, after "heckuva" Brownie resigned from FEMA. I notice he did it before Ophelia made landfall...

However, you should be ready for an upgrade any moment now. Brownie hands off FEMA to a man just as unqualified - Patrick Rhodes did stint at the SBA and Commerce Dept. (UPDATE - I am in error. David Paulison, a fire offical, has been selected to head FEMA. Conisider the next paragraphs to now be a last shot at heckuva Brownie.)

President: "So, you have no experience in this field, you've never trained in this field, you've never even volunteered to roll bandages at the Red Cross...why should you be leading FEMA?"

"I'm your number one fan, sir!"

"Congrats, son, you're in."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brown, meet Peter!


Mike Brown called "the one I can't understand"

by Satire News Service

In a surprising announcement coming just after Mike Brown's removal from New Orleans recovery effort, Laurence J. Peter has admitted that his "Peter Principle" has flaws in it and should be removed from all future books.

"It seemed to work," said Mr. Peter. "Every person I'd seen had risen to some level of success and competence, and then was systematically promoted to a level where they couldn't handle it. But then I read about Mike Brown and traced his work history, and..." He shook his head. "I just don't know. My theory obviously has problems."

The pushers of an alternative theory, "Intelligent Job Structure", were not as ecstatic as one would think when their major competitor has admitted errors. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the major leaders in "The Bureaucracy Institute", had this to say.

"Well, while we are happy to finally hear that heathen Mr. Peter admit his principle is wrong, we at the Bureaucracy Institute are having trouble fitting Mike Brown in our theories as well. I mean, our whole theory is that some CEO of the universe placed these people in a cohesive, intelligently designed structure - which is obvious when you look at the world, isn't it? But then you get Mike Brown...suddenly you have to wonder about the intelligent part of it. This IS on deep background, right?"

Mike Brown, who has not been relieved of his job at FEMA, was removed from the hurricane recovery effort in New Orleans after many missteps and criticisms. His position was not helped after reporters found several parts of his resume were padded. Not daunted by the investigation, his new resume had the following extra lines added on line:

"2002-present. Leader of FEMA and the free world. Was mentioned in several papers and newscasts for his role in the Katrina relief efforts, being called "...a leader...we can' without", "...a man whose actions...were incredible...", and "The...leader of a...Federal agency that...was great."

The actual quotes read as follows:

"Mike Brown is a leader who doesn't lead and a man we can't see doing any action we could live without."

"In the aftermath of Katrina, we have to single out a man whose actions, or lack of them, were incredible in their failure to relieve or help anyone."

"The incompetent Mike Brown, leader of a gutted and failed Federal agency that once was great, has smeared the name of FEMA forever."

When contacted about the seeming misquoting, a spokeswoman said Mr. Brown preferred not to talk to the press but wanted to go about preparing to help the rest of the nation. She also said, "We are tired of playing the blame game here. No one is to blame except for everyone but Mike Brown, FEMA, and anyone in the Bush Administration. It's very simple."

Not Good Enough

Breaking news says "heckuva" Brownie has been removed from overseeing the relief efforts in New Orleans. However, he's still the head of FEEBLE. So now, New Orleans may be spared his unusual mis-style of helping and saving, but the whole nation is still at risk from this resume enhancing, lie telling, bungling ol' boy network appointee.

Feel safer? I'm happy that New Orleans may actually get on track with relief efforts now...why not extend that privilege to the rest of us?

Fire Mike Brown.

As If We Needed Another Reason

In addition to his stunning ineptness already, we now learn that ol' "heckuva" Brownie lied on his resume, which presumably the Bush people used to hire him. Unless it was purely and simply based on the recommendation from his college buddy Joseph Allbaugh, the last head of FEMA. You know, the good ol' boy network should always trump things like experience and truthfulness.

"Heckuva" Brownie claimed he an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight in Edmund, Oklahoma. Except, well, gee, he was an "assistant TO the city manager", which translates as an intern. Word placement is really important, don't you think?

"Heckuva" Brownie also stated he was an "Outstanding Political Science Professor" at Central State University. Charles Johnson, the News Bureau Director at what is now the University of Central Oklahoma says, basically, "Huh?" No record exists of him being a professor - he MAY have been adjunct instructor.

I'm starting to understand how Guckert/Gannon managed to fool the fact checkers at the White House. I'm starting to understand that Baron Munchausen could get a job at the White House with these fact checkers.

There's even more. "Heckuva" Brownie states he's director of Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond, and has been from 1983 to the present. But, and I bet you can see this one coming, no one remembers him being on said board, which by the way was dissolved a couple of years ago. How he can still be on a board that's dissolved is better left for another day.

I think falsifying a resume is grounds for dismissal, isn't it? Let me put it simply:


Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Masters Bade Me Speak

The five masters of my fate have asked me to post a few sites where you can donate to the ongoing pet rescue funds. Please consider it.

Now THIS Is Impressive

Wow. And here I thought that FEEBLE took the cake for dumb things this week.

Read this little piece of mental tripe (from Media Matters) and see if you can note a small, tiny, little-bitty error in thinking.

He makes the statement that "By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who really need it." Um, no. Take his example, but make it two families, one who managed to escape with some money and one who didn't. (For extra fun, have both families middle class) BOTH families now have a child dying of thirst.

Why is it the family that managed to escape with money "needs" the money more than the family that didn't? Answer: They need the water equally. The family that CAN pay does not need the water more, it is able to pay more. There is a vast difference in these two statements. Unless Mr. Stossel equals ability to pay with which case welfare should start at one million and up.

Here's another asinine comment: "Let the market work, suppliers come -- and competition brings prices as low as the challenges of the disaster allow. Goods that were in short supply become available, even to the poor." Except for one small, tiny, little-bitty problem again - the goods are not in short supply due to a long-term problem; they are in short supply in a short-term crisis. Or does Mr. Stossel really feel that in the time it takes for "competition" to come to a hurricane ravaged area, set up, and retail water, it will still be that high? (I will allow his argument about roofers, builders and tree removers does match better here - but roofing and water rank differently on the scale of dying babies he advanced at the beginning. In addition, these are services, not goods. Also, as stated, that will be a long term shortage, not a spot one.)

Mr. Stossel, always ready to defend price gougers...but I bet he negotiated like Hell the last time he bought a car.

With the shirt or against the shirt

Remember one of FEMA's high points in their low success rate was when they called for firefighters to be used in the all-critical duty of FEMA flacks and background for photo ops? Surprising no one who has a brain and integrity (in other words, everyone but FEEBLE) some of the firefighters got annoyed and refused to wear the T-shirts (probably emblazoned with "I OFFERED TO HELP WITH HURRICANE KATRINA AND ALL THEY LET ME DO WAS WEAR THIS T-SHIRT"). In response:

"I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak. "

Yes, because if you won't shill for FEEBLE (Federal Employees Energetically Bungling Life-saving Efforts) you must be against the citizens of the U.S.! Hell, I bet those blasted firefighters aren't for Iraq or tax cuts!

If this is true...

...well, it makes the Bush Admin. look even more stupid. Let me emphasize this right off: I don't KNOW it's true. And it's more than likely there is an explanation somewhere about this. But, if what I read here is true (which I got from Crooks and Liars) I can think of no greater proof than the President of the United States completely botched something so basic and simple that you honestly have to wonder about his competence.

Here's the scoop: the Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance paper for Louisiana mentions every parish...except the ones on the coast. You know, the ones that we going to get hit? There is no mention of Orleans, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, St. Bernard or any coastland parishes that I can see.

Adding to the mystery, coastland counties in Mississippi were mentioned in their Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance paper, and also coastland counties in Alabama are mentioned in their Fed. Em. Ass. paper. I searched for "New Orleans" mentions between 8/20 and 9/5, and didn't see any - but the Fed. Emer. Ass. paper wasn't pulled up either, so I don't know.

Does anyone have any idea why the coastal parishes would have been left off this paper?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Judicial Passive Activism?

What, a NON-New Orleans post? Can it be?

Balloon Juice brings us this cheery little story:

A pregnant teenager went to the grand and imposing county courthouse here early in the summer, saying she wanted an abortion. The circuit court judge refused to hear the case, and he announced that he would recuse himself from any others like it.
“Taking the life of an innocent human being is contrary to the moral order,” the judge, John R. McCarroll of Shelby County Circuit Court, wrote in June. “I could not in good conscience make a finding that would allow the minor to proceed with the abortion.”

This sound familiar? Yep, it's the Moronus Operandi of the pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control pills and emergency abortion prescriptions because it's against their moral standards. Apparently, their moral standards are just fine with shoving their beliefs onto others who don't hold it.

Isn't this almost the same as the judicial activism conservatives scream about? In activism, a judge supposedly ignores a law he doesn't like to make his own. Here, a judge ignores a law he doesn't like and punts it aside. It's passive activism - I won't do it even though I'm supposed to as per my job description, my duties, and (if an elected judge) as per the wishes of the people who put me in office. But who cares about that? I'm paramount here.

This strikes me as a singularly stupid thing to do. Let's say the judge gets sued to be forced to hear a case like this and is ordered to - with only four of nine judges hearing these kinds of cases there could very well be a bottleneck someday. Now, any decision he makes against the teenager's wishes can be easily overthrown by pointing out that this judge once refused to hear a case due to his beliefs. Bingo. Decision reversed, abortion granted, judge doesn't do a damn thing but delay the process...and what if his delay places the teenager past the six month mark? Shouldn't be he be considered legally liable for the abortion then, when a fetus is generally considered to be viable as in Roe v. Wade?

How about if the case is a murder one involving a death penalty? Or a slander one where the judge is passionate about free speech? Or a divorce one where the judge holds marriage is eternal? You can see several cases where some sanctimonious judge could bow out, claiming their morals won't allow them to hear some case.

I don't accept it. It's YOUR morals, judges and pharmacists. It's neither the law of the land nor the morals of the person before you. If you're so against these acts and products that you feel cannot be associated with them, get out of your chosen industry and go into one that won't place you near them. Say preaching - since that's what you're already doing, you got a head start.

How long do you have?

At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had ''absolutely no credentials.''
She related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown.
''He said 'Why would I do that?''' Pelosi said.
'''I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'''

Wow. We are either taking isolation to an extreme not seen since Bubble Boys, or outright denial not seen since "Mission Accomplished". Either way, guys, this man - this man who sees nothing that went wrong on New Orleans at all - is in charge. And will be overseeing efforts to find out what didn't go wrong.

Here's a place to start:

WASHINGTON - The three top jobs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bush went to political cronies with no apparent experience coping with catastrophes, the Daily News has learned.


While Brown ran horse shows in his last private-sector job, FEMA's No. 2 man, deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and White House. He also did short stints at the Commerce Department and Small Business Administration.


In addition, the agency's former third-ranking official, deputy chief of staff Scott Morris, was a PR expert who worked for Maverick Media, the Texas outfit that produced TV and radio spots for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In June, Morris moved to Florida to become FEMA's long-term recovery director.

All three of these unqualified, inexperienced men were appointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by Bush in 2002. I guess all the ambassadorships had been filled already.

Incredible. These were the BEST men, in Bush's opinion, to run FEMA.

I am speechless here.

On a Lighter Note

I was watching CNN this morning, and the weatherman was talking about tropical storm Ophelia. He felt compelled to spell it, and commented what an odd name it was, and strange. In short, he seemed to have no idea about it.

It's only a little play called Hamlet, dude. Not like it's famous or anything.

Brown needs to go

I join with all the others calling for Mike Brown to be fired. The man hired to be in charge of an agency who will be the final backstop in case of natural disaster and terrorist attack has shown himself to be, and I'm going to be nice here, far over his head.

No one could have been perfect in the New Orleans disaster. Let's take that as a given. However, Mike Brown didn't come close. From outright lies (the people in the Convention Center and Superdome getting two hot meals a day from FEMA), to incomprehensible errors (waiting two days to call for help and making that call a low key one), to bungled planning (not being prepared for an event apparently everyone in the United States knew about except the agency who would be tasked with helping to recover from the event!), to halfhearted and crippled rescue efforts when they finally did get going on (having firefighters be FEMA reps instead of going to New Orleans to help), the man has pretty much ran the table on errors and screw ups.

To keep him in office would not only be a blow to national confidence, it would be a classic sign that Bush doesn't care about competency, but loyalty. I'd much rather have someone who could do the job rather than someone who is loyal, and in FEMA the ability has to trump the loyalty. We deserve someone in there who can do a "heckuva job." Let's go and find him, before the next disaster hits.

Hey-Ho, Let's GO!

I took a day off from blogging to try and calm down. I was furious about Katrina and FEMA's "response" that I was ready to go nuts and just start printing anything and everything bad about it I could find, because I was willing to believe that it was ALL correct. So I took a day, let some dust settle, and saw what came up later.

There are new developments - some of them a little better for FEMA, Homeland Security, and Bush. But most just continue showing the feckless, incompetent group of thumb-fingered Keystone Korps we've come to see the last week.

Let's start with one of the more stunning ones: From The Moderate Voice's great aggregation of FEMA's misstep two-step, we see this allocation of all-important assets:

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta. Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

Yes, we may have people dying in New Orleans and a firefighting group working to exhaustion in a natural disaster, but PLEASE people, important stuff first:

"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."

However, this fits the most important cry from FEMA during the worst natural disaster of our time, if not in our history:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top U.S. disaster official waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers, internal documents show.
Part of the mission, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press, was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

'cause, you know, God forbid anyone in the Bush Administration should look negative during this crisis. Then again, maybe we should admire the willingness of the Homeland Security people to take on this Atlas-like task:

Acknowledging that such a move would take two days, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29.
Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

"See, this is the fault of the media and the Democrats. They made such a BIG DEAL when we jumped the gun over WMDs in Iraq and we just KNEW if Katrina turned out to be a nothing of a category 4 or 5 hurricane they'd be all over us again. So we waited to make sure it was a good and proper emergency before we did anything."

Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as "this near catastrophic event" but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities."

"You know, when you're not too busy or anything like that. It's only near catastrophic event, after all."

The same day Brown wrote Chertoff, Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments. Brown said it was vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts.

"I mean, who coordinates things better than we do? Come on! 'sides, should things go wrong even with our wonderful and fast response, now we got someone to blame - see, THEY didn't ask for help! I mean, yes, they were ASKING for help, but they didn't fill out the right forms. How can FEMA and Homeland Security be expected to help without proper forms?"

Meanwhile, the airline industry said the government's request for help evacuating storm victims didn't come until late Thursday afternoon. The president of the Air Transport Association, James May, said the Homeland Security Department called then to ask whether the group could participate in an airlift for refugees

"Thursday's plenty fast! I mean, only New Orleans, Louisiana, and anyone watching TV knew what kind of cataclysm this were we supposed to know anything?"

Forget spinning straw into gold, this is spinning sh*t into a twenty-course banquet. The opening course will be explaining how "Brownie" was qualified for head of FEMA after, as The Moderate Voice links to:

The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows. And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.

What a perfect candidate to be in charge in case of natural disaster or terrorist attack - a person who oversaw horse shows. For now, it's the end product of all those horses being shoveled out as the President frantically attempts to keep his perfect record of never being wrong for anything.

What better way to keep that record intact then by overseeing the probe into FEEBLE - oops, FEMA - himself?

Stung by criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush yesterday promised to investigate his own administration's emergency management, then readied a request for tens of billions of dollars for relief and cleanup

Well, don't we all feel just peachy that Bush will get to the bottom of it? Maybe after all his investigating, Brown will find himself sporting a Medal of Honor, decorated with tiny little gravestones of all the people who died while FEEBLE dithered. Call it the Medal of Honor with the ClusterF*ck Wreath.

Okay, I did promise a few things that made FEMA look better, so let's go to them now. Balloon Juice has a good roundup of some rumors that were not true. The first deals with the levees and Bush cuts, which I also dealt with earlier, so I'll skip that one. Here's the others:

AndrewÂ’s latest gaffe involves the same rush tojudgmentt- a combination of knowing the facts before they are presented, a simple misunderstanding of how certain agencies and departments function, and a gut instinct that President Bush has just done something wrong. Andrew, yesterday:
"The military was prepared to help before Katrina hit, according to NorthComÂ’s Lt Commander. All they needed was a presidential go-ahead. They didnÂ’t get one."
A pretty damning charge- there were assets in place, waiting to rescue people and provide aid, and the President just dithered and did nothing.
Except it is completely false. This allegation comes from a wishful reading of a briefing by Northcom official Lt. Commander Paul Kelly, in which he stated the following:

...I won't post all of it, but there's a rather complete debunking of this one. However, a caveat - it is true that orders were given, but I have seen reports that the USS Bataan is being woefully underused - for example, it hasn't yet been giving out fresh water. So there's still some bad news mixed with the debunking here.

The next one could be more of the same:

Why on earth would FEMA reject a shipment of water to a site ravaged by Hurricane, in desperate need of relief? The answer, it seems, is that they didnÂ’t:
Sharon Weber of Wal-Mart called back. She said that last week, FEMA diverted those water trucks to “another location, which [FEMA] felt was in greater need than where they were headed.” Weber emphasized that Wal-Mart would not override any FEMA decisions made in emergency situations. So Broussard, who claimed that Wal-Mart’s aoutrighturtight rejected, was wrong. Based on Wal-Mart’s information, their trucks were taken where FEMA thought they were needed most. It would appear that the same story occurred with the Coast Guard fuel issue. Broussard said that FEMA wouldn’t release the fuel to Jefferson Parish – but surely that fuel went somewhere else it was needed. Thanks to Wal-Mart’s Sharon Weber for tracking down this information.

I may allow this is moving pieces to where they are better needed, but I'm gonna need a bit more proof, given many of the confirmed errors. However, the first story did have some subtexts missing, and John Cole has done a good job mentioning them.

The final one could be a HUGE one:

There were numerous reports of violence, rape, and murder taking place, and the responsible press has finally decided to investigate these stories and verify what actually transpired. Unfortunately, this sort of undertaking is left to the foreign press, as the American press is busy emoting elsewhere (or, in GeraldoÂ’s case, providing CPR to pets stranded by the flood):
But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal.
New Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child, or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention centre.
New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass said last night: “We don’t have any substantiated rapes. We will investigate if the individuals come forward.”
And while many claim they happened, no witnesses, survivors or survivorsÂ’ relatives have come forward.

This could be immense, given these cases being used as proof of total breakdown of a supposedly safe place.

So there you go. A couple of stories that make FEMA look a little better, and a lot that makes them look as bad if not worse. I report (from others), you decide.

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Murdered by Bureaucracy"

I saw this term on the WWL blog, from Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard. I can think of no better way to describe many of the dead.

FEMA and Homeland now say they didn't come in, more or less, because the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans didn't ask them to. Which of course is not exactly true - both had been calling for help since Monday. (And the governor had already declared a state of emergency, contrary to the lies told by someone in the Bush Admin.) But what the hell - gotta save the image.

So remember everyone out there - if anything catastrophic happens to your state, march immediately down to your state capitol through walls of fire, raging rivers where streets used to be, armed warfare, white sheets of powdered anthrax, whatever, and volunteer to make sure every "i" is dotted, every "t" is crossed, every signature done in triplicate with red ink first green ink second and rainbow ink third and form XjQ760/5767A is correctly in order with the rest of the papers...

...or Homeland Security and FEMA will tell you to fuck off.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

March of the Blind




Let's be frank - when the final analysis of the New Orleans cataclysm is rendered, no one will look good. The city of New Orleans won't, Louisiana won't, and the federal government won't. Every one of them has to shoulder the blame.

However, some people who point all these out - Power Line and Captain's Quarter's, for example - usually say that Bush and co. did a wonderful job picking up after the city and state's mistakes. They state that FEMA and Homeland Security were wonderful. Power Line even argues that FEMA head Mike Brown shouldn't be fired.

There's a word for this - blindness.

Read this post, containing quotes from the inept one himself, and wonder how this man doesn't deserve to be fired, if not prosecuted. It shows a man who either lies like a rug because he was unprepared for a New Orleans disaster, or a man who honestly didn't prepare for a New Orleans disaster. Which one do you believe? And why does this man still have a job?

Then there's this page here, from CNN, showing a vast disconnect between what these wonderful agencies SAID was happening vs. what was actually happening.

FEMA and Homeland Security were basically made to handle things the state couldn't in emergency situations. I would say this one qualifies. It's fair to argue that state and local incompetence made it worse, and that's true. However, when the ball was thrown/dropped into FEMA and Homeland Security's hands, they also fumbled. Badly. And they are the ones that were tasked to handle emergencies like this.

Feel confident? Don't all answer at once.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Speaking of people using Katrina



Let's see, which appropriation of Katrina is the ugliest?

The people who say it's due to global warming?

The people who say it's due to abortion?

The people who say it's due to the sinfulness of New Orleans?

In the global warming claims (the general view of science is that global warming was not specifically related to Katrina, by the way) it's an amorphous "mankind's" fault. In the latter two, New Orleans had all this death and devastation coming since they're sinners.

At least the global warming people don't say Louisiana deserved it. The other two claims do. Seems like a broader 'the lady deserved to be raped' claim, and just as intelligent and mature.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged." Do any of these Christian groups happen to recall this phrase?

Donate Now!



The links above are broken into two segments now - the first is for the Red Cross, the second to Instapundit's list of charities. I do this now (and will continue to do so) since I saw this report today:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.
The Red Cross shares the nation’s anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.
The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.
The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.
As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.

(hat tip Talk Left)

I don't know why Red Cross isn't being allowed in yet; it may be for good reasons or just another screwup somewhere. However, if you want to donate to another group instead of the Red Cross, follow the second link to do so.

But wherever you want to donate, do it now.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let's See, What Else Can We Do To Look Bad?



Has the Republican Party suddenly been infected with "political Lemmingitis" - the urge to throw oneself off a long cliff?

Eschaton links us to this little sign of stupidity: FEMA's page of lists to charitable groups has the Red Cross as #1.

#3 (#2 at the time of this article) is Operation Blessing - Pat Robertson's group.

I dunno, guys, it's looking more and more like the entire government just don't know how to handle this. (/understatement)

Anyway, why don't you donate to one of these groups? For the curious, Operation Blessing is in that list as well...far down.

More thoughts on New Orleans



Bush is not to blame for the levees breaking. This may shock some people. The levees have been the Achilles heel of New Orleans for possibly as long as it has been in existence, and people knew that. When I was down there in college - over ten years ago - people knew that the levees were only built to withstand about a category three hurricane and after that who knew what would happen. And even if Bush had fully - overfully - funded all requests for levee maintenance and strengthening, it wouldn't have been enough, but too little too late. This was a instance that was going to happen - the question was when.

HOWEVER, Bush and co. are lying in two instances. When McClellan (?) said "We didn't know the levees would break," he made it sound like no one had thought of this idea. Bullcrap. TV reports warned of it as Katrina was coming up, newspapers mentioned it, the "Atlantis scenario" now come to pass was brought up. This was foreseeable and feared, and for them to act like it was something no one could have thought of is obscene and simply untrue.

Equally obscene, but par for the course, is the claim from McClellan that "Flood control has been a priority of this administration from day one." Horse crap. From The Carpetbagger Report, we see the SELA budget - the organization in Louisiana tasked with levees - was cut, in some cases drastically. In 2004, they got 20% of what they asked for. This is MOST DEFINITELY NOT "a priority." It is a lie. Hindsight is 20-20, of course, and had they known this would happen they would have funded it (although too little too late, and many people are to blame here, from New Orleans and Louisiana governments to American Congresses and Presidents back to...Hell, pick someone, almost). BUT - to go back and make it sound like they were ALWAYS on the ball here and this happened in spite of their best efforts and support and funding...well, it's a flat out lie. I don't mind errors like these - I do mind when people try and rewrite history to erase their part in the errors.

Now, where Bush and co. DO hold responsibility has been the piss-poor relief and rescue effort. I do not think they could have snapped their fingers and made it all better. I don't think there was a miracle they failed to do. But I'm not even seeing any hint of competence here, much less a miracle! The situation in New Orleans is anarchy, and FEMA and Homeland Security have been simply awful - unless, of course, you listen to their spokesmen, who feel they done the best they could. Folks, if THIS is the best they can do, we don't need terrorists. We can just let them continue their debacles. It's been almost four years since 9/11. It looks like FEMA/Homeland Security haven't progressed past the day after it. Bush set up this organization, championed it. He better get in there and fix it, because I think a lot of people are wondering exactly what they've been doing.

The responses of Republican officials makes them seem like the worst caricatures some people have made them out to be. If a die-hard Democrat had made a list of "Worst things they could do to make them look bad", the Republicans would have been following it like a checklist. You have Bush waiting until the last day of his vacation to cut it short (compare this to how he reacted during Terri Schaivo) and then mugging with a guitar, and when he finally DID get around to addressing the disaster he sounds like a sixth-grader at a play. You have Hastert asking if we should even rebuild New Orleans; which is a justifiable question FOR AFTER THE RESCUE AND RELIEF, not in the...well, I would say middle, but how far have they gone, really? Ken Mehlman, during what will be the worst natural disaster to hit the United States in his lifetime, decides the major priority of the Republican Party should be...repeal of the estate tax. (from the Moderate Voice) That was an e-mail sent out on 9/1. AN E-MAIL! Something that could be canceled! There was no mention of the Katrina disaster at all. Talk about being out of touch. These are the kinds of missteps that would call for a loss of confidence vote in England.

However, again, Bush is not reason the levees failed. Frankly, New Orleans and Louisiana bear much of the blame for that. You can certainly blame him for the pathetic efforts from FEMA and Homeland Security, and how he and his administration has reacted.

But while you do that, give some money to help out. So far, the government is doing a lousy job. Step in and do better.