Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bill Bennett Dreams Of Genocide

Former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, September 28, 2005:
I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.
Let's look at Bennett's thought process:
Hey, genocide would work!

... Uh, but that would be so, so wrong.

... but still, it would be a solution, if you were so inclined.
Thanks to Empire Burlesque and Media Matters.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pat Tillman

From an extraordinary article on the former NFL star who was killed by US troops in Afghanistan (and the cover-up of how he died):
Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author. ...

[A] friend of Pat's even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan -— a meeting prevented by his death. [Tillman's mother] said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, "Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war." ...

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

Tillman subscribed to the Economist magazine, and a fellow soldier said Tillman created a makeshift base library of classic novels so his platoon mates would have literature to read in their down time. ...
An anti-Bush fan of Chomsky who believed the Iraq war was "so fucking illegal"?

I wonder what the mouthbreathers would say about Tillman if they knew that. ... Of course, they've probably forgot all about him by now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pathetic

New York Times:
... Bush was supposed to land here [San Antonio] on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate.

It was too sunny.

Just minutes before Mr. Bush was scheduled to leave the White House, his aides in Washington scrubbed the stop in San Antonio. ... Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

9/11 Coverup Continues

Why would the Pentagon refuse to allow
a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks?
Also (my emphasis):
Two military officers - an active-duty Navy captain and a reservist Army lieutenant colonel - have said publicly in recent weeks that they were involved with Able Danger and that the program's analysts identified Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian-born ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, by name as a potential terrorist by early 2000.

They said they attempted to share the information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the summer of 2000, more than a year before the terrorist attacks, but were blocked by Defense Department lawyers. F.B.I. officials, who answer to the jurisdiction of Senator Specter's committee, have confirmed that Defense Department abruptly canceled meetings in 2000 between the bureau's Washington field office and representatives of the Able Danger team.

The Pentagon has said that it has interviewed three other people who were involved with Able Danger and who said that they, too, recalled the identification of Mr. Atta as a terrorist suspect. But Defense Department investigators said they could find no documentary evidence to back up the assertion; they acknowledged that much of the information might have been routinely destroyed.
topdog04 (at Kos) has more, with a lot of background:
First the Pentagon had never heard of Able Danger, then it was "merely" a planning effort that ran it's course in early 2001, now it is so top secret and vital to national security - more than four years after 9/11 - that no one can testify about it to Congress. ...

[Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, said it was] "Not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum?" The Pentagon HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE ON IT two weeks ago. The only thing not possible is for the truth to get out about the mistakes of this administration and their culpability in 9/11.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Damn The Blind Eyes

We have long had reason to suspect imperial instigation to Iraq's sectarian violence, but here, as clearly as we've ever seen it, is the provocateur state revealed: two British "undercover soldiers" in Arab dress, caught firing upon police from a car laden with explosives. And the British government all but admitting its culpability by breaking them out of prison. ...

I wonder what will be made of this story by those who think escalating bloodshed in Iraq is a measure of the failure of US policy, and not its success ...
Rigorous Intuition

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Incompetence And Intent

John Doe II has compiled a jaw-droppingly exhaustive list of mainstream media stories showing how FEMA, Homeland Security and other federal agencies bungled the Katrina rescue and relief effort.

It's one of the more mind-boggling collection of articles I've seen on the internets. What follows is a short sample:
"Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared."

"Government disaster officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. They simply didn't execute it when Hurricane Katrina struck."

Another list of sources on that action plan -- and how it has been fine-tuned -- is here.

The Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. ... Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans City Business.

"Dr. Ross Judice, chief medical officer for a large ambulance company, recounted how on Tuesday, unable to find out when helicopters would land to pick up critically ill patients at the Superdome, he walked outside and discovered that two helicopters, donated by an oil services company, had been waiting in the parking lot."

"Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck."

A navy "ship rode out Katrina in the Gulf and was available with amphibious vehicles, hospital beds, and sailors who could come ashore to help. Waiting for orders that have yet to arrive."

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.

"Shortly before they were set to leave for Hurricane Katrina-battered states, a group of about 100 law enforcement officers from across Nevada was told to stay put by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA officials put the contingent on hold on Sunday afternoon for between one and three days ..."

"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush's visit to New Orleans, officials said."

Mary Landrieu, the Democratic US senator from Louisiana: "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."

"A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck."

Airboaters stand ready to go help hurricane victims but have not been allowed to do so.

"When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away ... Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said."

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.

A group of firefighter from Houston, some with special expertise in oil rig repairs, and plenty of post-hurricane clean-up experience were stopped by FEMA from entering New Orleans and not allowed to go anywhere else, either.

Canadian plane and search and rescue teams stopped by Dept. of Homeland Security.

Various aid from Russia, Canada, Cuba, Sweden, Germany, and more than 20 European countries was all refused.
Looking at the wealth of evidence -- and the mindset of the people in charge -- these actions have to be deliberate.

Might As Well Jump

MSNBC's Brian Williams:
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bad News

Evan Thomas, Newsweek:
It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private ...

The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington.

The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed. ...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years

There are so many questions.

It's time for the truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

DeLay to Children Left Homeless By Katrina: "Isn't This Kind Of Fun?"

He also compared it to being on camping trip and told the young boys they were becoming famous all over the world.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Culture Of Life

Republican Representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge:
We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What's Going On?

The level of denial and delusion is off the charts.
[Nancy Pelosi] related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire [FEMA Director] 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?'"
AP

Or is it? ... Some argue that this is all part of the Junta's plan.

More On Katrina Non-Response

FEMA Turned Away Aid, Rescue Crews, Cut Emergency Communication Lines: Witnesses
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several witnesses have alleged that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) turned away volunteers who were ready to help New Orleans residents people trapped in their flooded homes. Other witnesses have said that FEMA turned away offers of aid, prevented water and fuel from reaching people on the ground, and cut emergency communications lines. ...

According to the Loudon [Virginia] Times-Mirror, "Sheriff Steve Simpson and his staff spent 12 hours trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Center to act. They didn't, and the 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians–all volunteers–turned around and came back to Loudon."

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, "up to 500 airboat pilots" volunteered to help rescue flood victims [and] "are physically sick, watching the New Orleans coverage and knowing that the resources to help these poor people is sitting right in our driveways." ...

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said that "we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, 'Come get the fuel right away.' When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. 'FEMA says don't give you the fuel.'"
Pentagon: USS Bataan Waited Days For Orders to Help Out
Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, revealed on the BBC that NorthCom was prepared to send in search and rescue helicopters from the USS Bataan almost immediately after the hurricane hit. He said, "We had things ready. The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so." That authorization didn't happen for days even though the ship was docked just outside New Orleans. On board the ship had doctors, hospital beds, food and the ability to make up to 100,000 gallons of water a day. ...

The Cuban government has also announced that the U.S. State Department rebuffed its offer of aid. Last Tuesday Cuba offered to send 1100 doctors to assist in the crisis. Cuba said the doctors could have been on the ground by last Wednesday.
Media groups say FEMA censors search for bodies
When US officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday. ... "It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors' group that defends free expression.

Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable. "The notion that, when there's very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."
Has the Bush Administration banned all media from New Orleans? It sounds like no new media are being allowed in, and any media that leaves cannot return. ... What do they want to hide?

The incompetence by the Administration is so widespread, many people feel that it cannot be a coincidence (much like so many levels of US defense all failed at exactly the same time (and so completely) on September 11, 2001).

It is something I'd like to read a lot more about -- as well as the FEMA relocation camps -- but having been away from this story and its many threads for a week, I feel like I'll never catch up.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Those Lucky Duckies In New Orleans

Ever wonder where George W. Bush gets his "compassion"?

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

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace" program. ... In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I've talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I'm hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."
This is the same woman, who, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq (March 18, 2003), went on ABC's "Good Morning America" and said:
Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
I find it hard to fathom the pure hatred I have for these people.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: An Open Letter To George W. Bush

Dear Mr. President:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's unbelievable.

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

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

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

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

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.
Thanks to E&P.

High Water

High water risin', six inches 'bove my head
Coffins droppin' in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin' into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm going to do
"Don't reach out for me," she said
"Can't you see I'm drownin' too?"
It's rough out there
High water everywhere
There are probably a zillion and ten blog posts attempting to convey the horror of what is going on in the southern US and the absolute disregard for human life exhibited by the Junta.

Since I was preoccupied by The Move From New York for the past week, I was out of the loop. Most of the sites linked at the right will have something, if you want to check them out. I'll mention two:

G, the Library Bitch, outlines Mission: Incompetence:
Mission #1: Transfer funds out of domestic protection budgets and into military operations, thus creating conditions for a near-certain catastrophic situation.

Mission #2: Once the catastrophe has occurred, engage in a staged photo-op to look good in the face of fallout from Mission #1.

Mission #3: In the ensuing fallout, pass any and all suspicion and blame for causing the catastrophe onto other, more intangible entities.

Mission #4: Shit your pants.
Rigorous Instuition has several posts worth reading:
New Orleans: Year Zero
Army Times: Troops Begin Combat
Ring Them Bells
Because They Can
Catastrophic Success

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Them

While waiting at the checkout at Loblaws this morning, I run over to grab a copy of the Toronto Star. Not knowing exactly what day it is, I grab a copy of Saturday's paper and hand it to the woman behind the register.

Her (holding paper out and reading the huge headline): "What Took You?" What does that mean? It sounds like something is missing.

Me: Probably "What took you so long?" ... Considering all the other horror stories from down there. [Including Bush's refusal of aid from Canada.]

Her: Right! Of course. That's it. ... You'd think so much more could be done, but maybe we don't know all of the logistics.

Me: Well, it's not like they didn't know the storm was coming.

Her (shaking head): We think of them as such a powerful country, but ...

Me (surprised, then very consciously avoiding pronouns): It wasn't a big concern. It's just a lot of misplaced priorities.

Walking out, I'm amazed at her use of that one word. Them. Not us. Not we. Them.

The United States is now one of those other countries that exist outside the place I live. Powerful and important, of course, but definitely Not Us.