Friday, December 16, 2005

Protect the Country?!?

Shrub's lame little excuse for getting caught breaking the law:

"After 9/11, I told the American people I would do everything in my power to protect the country, within the law, and that's exactly how I conduct my presidency," Bush said in an interview with PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," which was scheduled to air Friday evening.

Protecting the Country:

Enough said.

From No Katrina, here's a report that really is inspiring--a detailed look at the literally superhuman effort undertaken by the Charity Hospital staff in NOLA as they dealt with the storm--and five days waiting to be evacuated.

When Christopher Shays and the rest of Congress get all snippy about sending money to "corrupt Louisiana," they're likewise extending their middle finger to these and other extraordinary individuals--remember that.

And consider as well that they're more than willing to send shovelfulls of cash to Iraqis like Ahmad Chalabi, so it's pretty obvious corruption isn't really an issue with them. Which leaves a mix and match of racism, regionalism (hatred of the South), etc., as their motive.

Congress' shameful finger wagging and inaction pales even more in comparison with the folks noted in the story above.
"Ethnic Clensing in New Orleans"

The title refers to the slogan on a t-shirt recently seen worn by Cyril Neville--his thoughts on not moving back to New Orleans can also be found here.

Sadly, I'm guessing that plenty of other former NOLA residents might have similar feelings, be they musicians or not. Those feelings will grow even stronger as each day passes without clear, focused action--the kind of action you won't see from Team Bush.

Overseas, they lost Iraq--and at home, they're doing their best to kill an American city.

Eugene Robinson asks as to the whereabouts of a certain village idiot:

Where's Bush? Not in New Orleans.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been guilty of hyperbole in the past, with his exaggerated reports of mayhem and death in the days after Hurricane Katrina made its tragic landfall. But his plea to Congress this week that his city "is being allowed to die as we speak" may have been an understatement. Three months after President Bush stood in Jackson Square and vowed that "this great city will rise again," New Orleans instead appears to be circling the drain.

The president promised that "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives." It was a great sound bite and a great photo op, but where the hell is he now?

Robinson, you might recall, was one of the first national pundits to note the difference between September's rhetoric and (at the time) November's reality--which now has stretched into December (minus yesterday's, um, well, I guess crumbs are better than talking to the hand).

But token gestures will do little beyond prolong the suffering:

The Congressional Black Caucus has introduced a comprehensive bill designed to attend to the needs of evacuees from the entire Gulf Coast and give them the resources they need to go home, but the Bush administration and the congressional leadership have preferred a scattershot, largely ineffective approach.

"I really get the feeling sometimes that our government would like for these people to remain scattered around the nation and not come back and rebuild," said Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), chairman of the caucus. "Trying to do it in a piecemeal way is just going to prolong the agony for the people."

It may or may not be wise to rebuild New Orleans on a grand scale -- we may be talking about a much smaller city. But if it's going to be rebuilt on any scale, there has to be some assurance that the next big hurricane won't flood the city again. That means you need upgraded levees, flood walls, pumps -- a whole system of hydraulic protection. The additional $1.5 billion that the White House pledged to spend on the levees yesterday is a start, but just a start. To go any further, you have to know what areas to protect.

Does it make sense to rebuild the devastated Lower Ninth Ward? Even if it is rebuilt, are the people who lived there before the flood really going to come back?

All the issues involved in reconstruction are so interlocked that nothing much is moving, and the longer the city sits empty and ruined, the less likely its renaissance becomes. Who but the president can break the logjam?

It's the responsibility of local officials to design the new New Orleans, but only the federal government is big enough to guarantee the money and provide the determination to make any plan a reality. What institution but the federal government can restore the wetlands south and east of the city into a buffer that will absorb much of the impact of the next hurricane? What institution but the federal government can break through all the jurisdictional barriers and push this halting process forward?

Bush ended his Sept. 15 speech in Jackson Square by pledging that "the streetcars will once again rumble down St. Charles and the passionate soul of a great city will return." Half of that prediction may soon come true -- they're talking about resuming token service on one of the streetcar lines. But the soul of New Orleans is its people, and that soul is being lost forever. Where is the president now?

The conclusion is rhetorical, but to answer Robinson's question anyway, I think we know what the pResident is up to--indeed, on Wednesday, he made it clear: the storm was a horrible inconvenience to him (poor boy) he's going to ignore it to the extent he's able to.
Gaggle or Babble

I'll link, you decide.
Speaks Volumes

I'm sure everyone reading this has already seen any of a number of reports about Shrub authorizing domestic spying sans warrants--an order apparently so disgusting even Arlen Specter wants to hold hearings into the matter. Coming on top of another report about intelligence--in this case, how much more Team Shrub sees (and ignores) vis-a-vis Congress, it reveals quite a bit about the cabal of folks sometimes referred to as "our elected leaders."

A couple of days ago I caught some of the MacNeil Lehrer Hour, or whatever they're calling it these days, and saw an interview featuring Russ Feingold and Jeff Sessions. The issue in question was the renewal of Patriot Act provisions (I see Feingold's filibuster survived an initial cloture vote). I was struck by the degree to which Sessions, more or less unchallenged, showed his contempt for the general public--and the level to which he assumed the guilt thereof.

Today's revelations are merely the flip side of that coin: the federal government--at least the elected part--assumes a degree of guilt among those who elected it! Witness Trent "Flip-Flopping on 'Tort Reform' Lott":

Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said he only glanced Times article. "If I were really concerned, I would have read it," he said.

Lott said some of his colleagues were overreacting to the potential for civil-liberties violations through this reported NSA program and the 2001 Patriot Act, which gives the FBI power to track terrorist suspects. The Patriot Act is up for renewal.

"I don't agree with the libertarians," Lott said. "I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that."

Aside: a statement like that makes ANY Lott comment re: Iraq and elections worthy of nothing but immediate dismissal. He so obviously doesn't get it.

Scott McClellan and Condoleezza Rice came to Shrubusto's defense, but between the two of them, they've got less credibility than a dustball under the couch. Both are confirmed liars.

The gang in Washington, never particularly good at hiding their true feelings towards the public, now reveals pretty much what any reasonable observer already knows: they view themselves as somehow better than the general public--a general public good for precious few things, like say, fodder for their wars, consumers of products manufactured by companies in which they hold stock, and perhaps providing the odd service or two--otherwise, they're mere numbers to be despised...and perhaps feared, hence the executive order.

Countdown has been out in the forefront on the domestic spying story. Their reports show that the folks being spied on AREN'T potential terrorists, but Americans exercising their constitutional rights of speech and assembly. Perhaps that's whats so frightening to this administration, given the zeal with which they tore up the Constitution post 9/11.

Then again, maybe we should be grateful, eh? (sarcasm alert). At least they're merely spying on us...feriners get rendered...but, like McClellan and Rice insist, they're acting "within the law."

Lord knows how they'd react if things were REALLY bad--like in Iraq, where their handiwork has produced a genuine boondoggle.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Little Bird Canadian Goose Told Me...

Sorry for not linking to this earlier: the latest Suspect Device cartoon...also, those who wish can pick up the latest copy of Forbes Magazine--or get shown the latest copy by a friend--featuring Mr. Peters's New Orleans Sketchbook. Unfortunately, it's not online. But it makes for great reading.
Update: Apologies--it's Fortune, not Forbes, where Peters's work appears. But it's not online there either.
Just Wondering

Would Christopher Shit Shays (R-CO) have addressed Rudolph Guiliani or George Pataki like this?

"You are aggressively making an excuse when no excuse should be given. [the evacuation of the South Tower] should have been mandatory. It should have happened sooner. And I think that the fact that you don't recognize that is more troubling to me than I can express."

After all, it should've been obvious to anyone that the WTC South Tower was as much a target as the North Tower, which had already been hit...right? And wouldn't an evacuation order come from a city or state official?

Um, the above is sarcasm for the irony-challenged: of course a question like that wouldn't be asked...and indeed, it wasn't. Because a question like that reeks of crass attitude and behavior. But it didn't stop Shit, um, I mean Shays, from basically accusing Blanco and Nagin of negligent homicide.

The article doesn't mention this, but while channel flipping last night I also came across more of Shit's grandstanding--this time it was the non-issue involving the picture of the buses...which has been beaten...and beaten...and beaten with a stick, switch, electrical cord, you name it.

Let's be clear about this: Shit is grandstanding, as opposed to making anything approaching a valid point. In hindsight, should a mandatory evacuation have been called, say two days in advance? Of course. Hell, in hindsight, they should've called the evacuation a week or more in advance, now that we know what the storm wrought. However, Shit's bloviating tells us much more about his limited attention span than anything: indeed, early warnings were issued to some officials almost as soon as the storm crossed into the Gulf. But I still recall that Friday (August 26th)before the storm hit, PUBLIC forecasts called for landfall in Florida--as late as Saturday evening, there was still a question as to whether the storm would hit Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama.

Chris Shit apparently also forgets Hurricane Ivan, forecast to slam into the Gret Stet a year ago: Mobile suffered its wrath instead. And I guess Shit thinks residents and businesses are so flush with cash that they're able to drop everything anytime a storm is even in the vicinity of a particular area.

Oh--and I don't recall Shit so much as batting an eye when money was dumped by the ton into Florida during the 2004 Hurricane Season, which just happened coincide with the 2004 Election Season. Just as I don't recall him berating Con-Ed when Team Bush bailed that company out to the tune of $250 million dollars. Why didn't he make caustic references to their reputation for swindling and greed?

You know, I normally don't wish ill of anyone--but I wouldn't shed even a crocodile tear for the likes of Shit--or anyone like him--if their own house was destroyed by a fierce storm (maybe a nor'easter hitting the Nutmeg State). It'd be all the better if he lost his power, too, i.e., let him freeze in the dark.

Crass bastard.
"What would you call someone who wants to hand over control of Iraq to a group of terrorists that first made its reputation by blowing up a couple of American embassies? I'd call him President Bush."

So writes Paul Mulshine, reporting on the Iraqi election for the New Jersey Star Ledger. William Rivers Pitt explains:

The Shia will walk away from Friday with the lion's share of control over the Iraqi government. The two most powerful Shia political parties, the ones that will come out of this with the big wins, are the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is known by the initials SCIRI. Both were founded and funded by Iran in the 1980s. Both have a history of spectacular violence against the United States and other nations. "These guys are murderers," says former CIA agent Bob Baer, who dealt with Dawa during the 1980s. "They were the core element that blew up our embassy in Beirut in 1983."...

"The other coalition partners aren't much better," continued Mulshine. "The sanest group on the Shi'a side is the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. A 1984 Washington Post story portrayed the group, known by its initials SCIRI, as 'a kind of parent organization for four operational terrorist groups.' SCIRI was founded in Iran a couple of years earlier by the Ayatollah Khomeini with the goal of taking control of Iraq. Now, they're about to do so, courtesy of George W. Bush."

A walk through history serves to remind those afflicted with short attention spans of who exactly is about to take control of Iraq.

A story from US News and World Report dated December 26, 1983, titled "The New Face of Mideast Terrorism" describes the bombing of the American embassy in Kuwait: "The terrorist who detonated the truckload of explosives at the US Embassy in Kuwait was identified as a 25-year-old Iraqi belonging to an outlawed Moslem unit, the Iranian Dawa Group."

A story from the Associated Press dated February 11, 1984, titled "Trial of Bomb Blast Defendants Opens" describes the trial of 21 people charged with bombing American and French embassies: "Of the other defendants, 17 are Iraqis; two, Lebanese, three, Kuwaitis and two are stateless. Most of them said they belonged to Al-Dawa (Islamic Call) Party, an Iraqi movement of Shiite Moslem fanatics who are pro-Iranian."

A story from the Associated Press dated December 27, 1986, titled "Five Groups Claim Responsibility, Iraq Accuses Iran" describes the attempted hijacking of an Iraqi jetliner that resulted in the deaths of over 60 people: "The hijackers acted in cooperation with the Dawa party of pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiites."

Pitt goes on to cite a former prof of mine, Mark Gasiorowski, who testified before the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks. Gasiorowski noted Iranian support for SCIRI as part of an overall pattern of assistance for any number of organizations that aren't exactly friendly to the United States. And I'm not exactly expecting SCIRI to proffer flowers, candy and kisses once the votes are tallied.

In fact, it scarcely matters who "wins," except for the embarrassment factor--Team Bush might as well be wearing a giant "Kick Me" sign. But the elections themselves don't change squat--they're the rough equivalent of changing the tire when you've got a blown engine. Power, as Juan Cole notes, isn't conferred solely via plebiscite:

The Iraqi "government" is a failed state. Virtually no order it gives has any likelihood of being implemented. It has no army to speak of and cannot control the country. Its parliamentarians are attacked and sometimes killed with impunity. Its oil pipelines are routinely bombed, depriving it of desperately needed income. It faces a powerful guerrilla movement that is wholly uninterested in the results of elections and just wants to overthrow the new order. Elections are unlikely to change any of this.

Whether or not Shrubusto realizes this is doesn't matter either--his handlers may be evil and vicious, but they've got some functioning brain cells. So they're crowing--but also hinting the violence will continue, and desperately seeking some sort of traction for a "blame the libruls" strategy when the shit REALLY starts flying.

Now we've got to hope the Democrats won't play along with this...which is by no means a sure thing.
Hypocrisy and Stupidity--Thy Name is Shrub

Continuing with Operation Stop the Hemorrhaging, the dauphin visited the friendly confines (for him) of Faux News for a chat with courtesan (in the truest sense of the term) Brit Hume...expect another day of steadily falling temperatures in all circles of Hell as I link and even cite some passages...

For those who, despite best intentions, have so much physical and mental revulsion at even the thought of hitting their site, here's a Reuters summary.

Shrubleroy, perhaps forgetting he likewise complimented Brownie with the same phrase, claimed Rummy was doing "a heckuva job" (Faux dropped the vernacular and chose to transliterate into standard English). Dropping his no comment pledge re: ongoing investigations, Rove got an official--if temporary--reprieve: no political cranium on a stick...yet. And apparently the "no comment" about ongoing investigations bullshit policy doesn't apply when the matter ISN'T the outing of a CIA agent or if the case is going to trial: Innocence was proclaimed for Bugs DeLay...and the Abramoff investigation was magically transferred into a pox on both political parties.

But Duke Cunningham was officially pushed off the upper deck--I guess even Shrubusto can't spin a guilty plea.

Big Time got an endorsement of sorts, but I doubt we'll be seeing much of him as more and more speculation makes Dick a central figure in the Plame scandal, the intelligence scandal, the Katrina scandal, the Halliburton scandal, Operation Enduring Clusterfuck, i.e., Son of Gulf War, Enron, etc. etc. Dick'll be spending all kinds of time in his secure, undisclosed duck blind somewhere near Patterson.

Oh--speaking of Hurricane Katrina--it merited exactly a single sentence from Shrub. Oh, excuse me, two sentences...and only in context of how inconvenient it all was, taking the focus off Iraq:

Well, I think — first of all, I was ready to make the case for Iraq coming out of the summer because I'm fully aware that in a time of war, particularly when the enemy has got the capacity to confuse the American people and to frighten the American people through their brutality that I need to remind people about that stakes and the strategy to achieve victory on a regular basis. And the problem was that that strategy was derailed by Katrina. During Katrina, it made it very difficult to talk about anything other than Katrina.

No wonder he can't be bothered: the storm CUT SHORT HIS VACATION AND DISTRACTED HIS IRAQ-THOUGHT. Damn that Gulf Coast...

Segueing into more playing-the-victim, dauphin now claims it's "unfair" to criticize his insistance upon invading Iraq in March 2003 (ah, how easy it is to forget the foot stamping, the temper tantrums, and the promises of quick success from wingnuttia, which they now claim never happened)...and the interview concluded with--this Peckerwood James Buchanan having the gall to compare Abraham Lincoln. No lie.

Methinks the Bubble-Shrub is more than a tad delusional.

Unfortunately, his delusion is matched hallucination for hallucination by the media. Hell, at this point, the otherwise apropos remark "will somebody please give this guy a blowjob so we can impeach him" probably wouldn't work: it'd just draw envious sighs from Brit Hume and all the other media whores and presstitutes out plying their trade.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Despite headlines proclaiming the startling fact that Shrubleroy is actually taking responsibility for, um, something, today's latest speechifying was more of the same: verbal sominex for the sleep deprived.

Instead of doing something useful--like say, following the advice of, of all people, Novakula, the child pasha played the same broken record of a speech notable for not being noteworthy at all. Maybe the public will finally realize that, behind the smirk, there's a great...big...empty. Nothing else.
"Pretty Soon, You're Talking Real Money"

Oyster sums it up:

Saving South Louisiana would be a rounding error in the context of this far-flung project of nation-building Iraq. When it's over, Bush's misadventure will be the most expensive war in American history (save WWII). These are your "fiscal conservatives", America. These are the people who say the budget is "too tight" for Louisiana's needs. These are the people who love it when your blood boils seeing a black man steal a TV in a flooded city, while you remain silent as a trillion tax dollars are dumped into a fractious sandtrap destined for civil war.

He's referring to this article (with a hat tip to Pus Boy) confirming the Pentagon will be asking for an extra $100 billion dollars--on top of a $50 billion dollar appropriation already on the table, on top of previous appropriations totally roughly $300 billion dollars...and these figures don't include the yearly Pentagon operating budget of around $425 billion dollars per year (which, factoring for inflation, has been pretty consistent since the mid 1970's)--for an operation that stands a snowball's chance in Mesopotamian hell of succeeding.

Wingnuts can wax starry-eyed about "democratic miracles" or get all cross-eyed as much as they want, but it won't make a damn bit of difference: they're pissing away the national treasury on a boondoggle that exposes their down-to-the-bone ignorance...not to mention their down-to-the-bone hysteria and paranoia.

I doubt seriously your average 'nut could identify more than three international terrorists by name, much less come up with an effective means by which to counter terrorism itself. Their present "strategery" consists of inciting an insurgency in one of the few Arab/Middle Eastern countries largely devoid of terrorism/terrorists, using the US Military as bait, with copious side dishes of sadism and torture. As a bonus, they're working very hard on establishing an Islamic theocracy while crowing about an election that means...nothing.

And, as an added bonus, these same folks can't so much as deliver food and ice to the Gulf Coast following a storm FORECAST to arrive. Talk about incompetence. But we're supposed to trust these folks with billions more for Operation Bury Our Heads in the Sand? Geez.
Methinks the Cat Killer Doth Protest Too Much

Thanks again to Carpetbagger Report.

Bill "kill-the-kitten" Frist and his syncophants are getting awfully testy. Maybe it's just me, but this sort of behavior is usually results from having something to hide:

Tired of questions about their boss’s stock dealings, aides to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) angrily confronted an Associated Press reporter in the Senate chamber and in a nearby hallway yesterday after a question-and-answer session on the floor.

Frist’s top aide, Eric Ueland, took exception to Jonathan M. Katz’s line of questioning during the “dugout,” loudly chastising Katz as reporters filed out of the Senate chamber and into the hallway...

The testy exchange demonstrates sensitivity among Frist’s aides to both the legal and political questions posed by the timing of the majority leader’s divestiture of HCA holdings just before a sharp drop in the company’s share price. Frist is widely expected to seek the presidency in 2008, but the story could jeopardize his political viability...

During the “dugout” yesterday, Katz asked Frist whether comments he made to Fox News this weekend that he did not know how much stock he held comport with requirements that he be informed when assets are bought or sold.

Frist initially deflected Katz’s question. After an interceding question on another topic, Charles Babington of The Washington Post followed-up on Katz’s query.

Frist indicated that he does not read everything that comes across his desk.

A third question, from yet another reporter, led Frist to declare all HCA inquiries off limits.

When the session closed a few minutes later, Ueland and Frist Communications Director Bob Stevenson blasted Katz for continuing to ask their boss about his stock sale.

You know, it'd go a LOT smoother if Bill-kill just came out and told the truth--the whole truth. Of course, there'd be a price to pay--I doubt the public is ready for a really creepy looking cat killer and securities fraudster being elected president...even IF Shrub, another noted securities fraudster, small animal killer--and genuinely creepy person--holds the office at present.
Playing Politics

Juan Cole gets it right in citing this CSM article about the upcoming Iraqi "election:"

As with the Jan. 30 elections, the Dec. 15 elections are not being held in accordance with international standards of fairness, and cannot be. Proper elections would require that security be provided to voters and candidates. But there is no security. Several candidates have already been assassinated or attacked, and most of the 7000 or so cannot come out in public or they would be killed, too. In many parts of the center-north, voters will have no guarantee of coming home alive. The only way the vote will happen at all is that the US military has forbidden all vehicular traffic, so everyone has to walk for the next few days. This tactic prevents carbombings from disrupting the elections, but it is a desperate measure and not a sign of an election that could be certified as free and fair.

And this interesting story from New Pravda comes courtesy of Needlenose:

Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.

Shrub continued his speechifyin road show today, and apparently managed to stop grinding his teeth long enough to play the P.R. game with NBC--but anyone who thinks his Hurricane Katrina of a foreign policy can somehow be salvaged with--yawn--another meaningless election is the proverbial sucker--or just plain stupid.

They can hold elections in Iraq every week, and it won't make a damn bit of difference...well, except that it would piss folks off even more, given the necessity of stopping all traffic and enforcing even more strict curfews to counter insurgent violence (I wonder how THIS country would react to such strictures). No, this charade is merely for domestic consumption, and at least on one level it's working: CNN, in the link above, is trumpeting "improved" ratings for Shrub, which is sort of like asserting that a pile of shit doesn't really stink all that much.

Or, as Carpetbagger Report notes (another hat tip to Needlenose), the dauphin might be the beneficiary of "special" considerations ("special," as in "short bus special"):

To borrow a White House phrase, Bush may very well be benefiting from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

It seems to me that the country has lowered its standards to the extent that the absence of horrible news is enough to give Bush a few extra points in the polls. For many voters, the fact that no Bush administration officials have been arrested in the past few weeks may be a sign that ethics at the White House have improved. The war hasn't gotten noticeably worse. The president hasn't badly flubbed a response to a massive natural disaster lately.

When inescapable headlines are reminding the nation that Bush's presidency is an embarrassing mess, Bush's approval ratings naturally go into a freefall. But maybe a couple of weeks with no obvious new crises is enough to help turn things around for the president. At least a little.

Oh, there'll be lots of bloviating about the "success" of elections--but NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING will change--except the casualty count.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rinse, Repeat

Patrick Cockburn has a couple of articles up at Counterpunch that are worth a look--The Beginning of the End focuses on the disintegrating Iraqi nation while 1000 Days of Getting It Wrong looks at the Bush contribution to this mess--the latter noting the dauphin's penchant for stepping in shit at every opportunity.

Despite the much hyped "plan" distributed in .pdf form , it's pretty apparent there is no plan--as evidenced by Shrubleroy's quote below that I took from WIIIAI: "I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome." For all the bloviating about "plans," and, much more important for them, the simultaneous sliming--with lies--of anyone taking a reality based approach to the situation, it's clear they don't have a clue. Their "plan" is little more than a circular argument: we'll win because we say we'll win...while their own acknowledgement of reality is reflected in the distinct lack of participation on the part of their eligible-for-military-service syncophants and children.

There IS no plan for victory--none. If there WAS a plan, they'd be shouting it from the mountaintops. The only "plan" is to hang on as long as they can, and hope the public doesn't object too loudly about the body count.

Which, come to think of it, is like their "plan" for the Gulf Coast.
Special Report

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this: an online exhibit of color photography from the late depression/early WWII era, including a few pics from the Gret Stet. This beautiful series of pictures is courtesy of the Library of Congress, a truly superb government institution.

Caption: Marion Post Wolcott
A crossroads store, bar, "juke joint," and gas station in the cotton plantation area
Melrose, Louisiana, June 1940
Reproduction from color slide

Back to our normal material in just a bit...
From Neglect to Active Destruction

Ashley Morris is forced to bring out the heaviest verbal artillery again as word comes down that the feds are giving the finger to Entergy.

You know, I don't normally have many kind words for power companies, particularly those fighting the bad fight for privatization (one of the dumbest phenomenons of the past two to three decades has been truly a blind faith in market-based solutions for everything. There's a term for people who believe such things: idiots). But this paragraph speaks volumes:

New York's power utility, ConEdison Co. of New York...received $250 million in federal aid after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Like Entergy New Orleans, the New York utility is a subsidiary of a much larger utility holding company, Consolidated Edison Inc., which was not required to foot the recovery bill for its subsidiary.

When it suits them, Team Bush and their Congressional cronies are more than willing to spend like there's no tomorrow. So, one is forced to conclude that there must be a reason for their insistance on NOT wanting to restore NOLA. In fact, things are so bad displaced residents resorted to buying an ad in Roll Call. And the administration's response to the electric utility might has well have been a bathtub full of water and a small appliance (guess you'd need a generator, too).

So, why DOES this government insist on killing the city? I'll let you draw your own conclusions. However, given that this is Team Bush ultimately running the show, we can be sure of several things, one being that they'll ALWAYS opt for short term political gain over long term national interests. In other words, they'll probably ignore--at their peril--the essential need for a city like New Orleans to be where it is, as this article from Blake points out (and, of course, a shout out to Oyster for linking to it).

And damn, it'd be nice if, like Morris suggests, they were forced to freeze in the dark.
See for Yourself

From Scout Prime, here's a link to most of the documents Governor Blanco released to Congress and the press re: the Gret Stet's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Team Bush to release their documents.
Bubble Boy of the People

Update: Damn, I'm off my A-game today by a mile. WIIIAI reminded me of another "WTF?" moment last night: Asked why American troops were not welcomed in Iraq as liberators: "I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome." of rocks.

I was treated last night to the specter of Shrub insisting he wasn't a racist during a conversation with Brian Williams...which reminds me of another presidential denial from around thirty years ago.

The dauphin was doing his best to "act preznitial" and/or respond to the Bubble Boy Newsweek story--his specific denial of racism was in response to a question about Hurricane Katrina...

To be honest, I don't think Shrub is all that more racist than those with whom he surrounds himself--his blanket, indignant denial (even if he doesn't have the first clue as to what "indignant" means) is pretty typical of his type (if I remember right, a common complaint of black GOP'ers is that they're often confused with 'the hired help' during events like national conventions, etc.). However, this sort of response underscores a major problem with this administration: they've denied the extent of the Mesopotamian fuck-up, they ignored Hurricane Katrina as it approached the Gulf Coast, then went into more or less permanent denial as to the damage (despite promises made--promises that are now of course seen as essentially worthless), they deny their obvious attempt to smear a Joe Wilson by outing his wife as a CIA agent--for an administration that bills itself as devoted to "personal responsibility," they do a bang up job of deny...or smear, depending on the occasion.

And the Williams interview with Shrub was/is no different: Bush, in addition to denying he was a racist, denied his being isolated--even as he CONTINUES to engage in his little mealy-mouthed defense of the indefensible response to the storm, "To the extent that the federal government blah blah blah"--the rote nature of the script makes it all the more apparent that he couldn't give a shit about the Gulf Coast, with the possible exception of Trent Lott's house (where he's no doubt looking forward to a tall mint julep once he leaves the White House). It's painfully obvious that in addition to not giving a shit, he barely is aware of the destruction--the same goes, by the way, for Iraq. Yesterday, in another attempt to mingle, the dauphin deigned to take a few questions following his latest non-major address. His casual estimate of the death and destruction is even more evidence he lacks even the first clue.

The issue of this administration has gone beyond mere partisan politics. The man is dangerously inept and incompetent, and being term-limited has decreased any capacity he might have had, even as he, somewhat pathetically, now bothers to consider his legacy.

It's a little too late for that: history will judge Bush as being remarkable consistent throughout his life--unable to point to a single instance of success at ANYTHING. Unfortunately, this time around, there simply aren't any rich friends available to bail him out.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Potemkin Lite

And with less gravitas--Frank Rich has more:

Mr. Bush's "Plan for Victory" speech was, of course, the usual unadulterated nonsense. Its overarching theme - "We will never accept anything less than complete victory" - was being contradicted even as he spoke by rampant reports of Pentagon plans for stepped-up troop withdrawals between next week's Iraqi elections and the more important (for endangered Republicans) American Election Day of 2006. The specifics were phony, too: Once again inflating the readiness of Iraqi troops, Mr. Bush claimed that the recent assault on Tal Afar "was primarily led by Iraqi security forces" - a fairy tale immediately unmasked by Michael Ware, a Time reporter embedded in that battle's front lines, as "completely wrong." No less an authority than the office of Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, promptly released a 59-page report documenting his own military's inadequate leadership, equipment and training.

Note, by the way, today's NY Times article pointing out the dauphin himself is lowering expectations in Iraq, probably to about the level Herr Kissinger went public with a year or so ago: basically, Saddam, just minus Saddam himself. Can't say I didn't see that from light-years away...of course, given the level of ineptitude with Team Bush, that "goal" is hanging by a thread--it's far more likely we'll see Iraq the Theocracy, thanks to their handiwork...

Anyway, Rich, after taking some time to note another nutjob program from the team, that is, throwing literally obscene amounts of money at organizations like The Lincoln Group for not particularly good propaganda (not to mention the fact that sweetheart deals like this make a mockery of the notion of self-reliance: is that the BEST these clowns can do? Suck up public money like a vacuum cleaner?)--anyway, Rich, as others are beginning to note too, contrasts the global with the local--as I've said previously, if this government can't clean up the Gulf Coast, which has the advantage of being IN the United States and, believe it or not, is decidedly less violent than Iraq--if the government can't clean up our region, how in hell can anyone believe ANY of their bloviating about what they promise to accomplish overseas?

The more we learn about such sleaze in the propaganda war, the more we see it's failing for the same reason as the real war: incompetence. Much as the disastrous Bremer regime botched the occupation of Iraq with bad decisions made by its array of administration cronies and relatives (among them Ari Fleischer's brother), so the White House doesn't exactly get the biggest bang for the bucks it shells out to cronies for fake news.

Until he was unmasked as an administration shill, Armstrong Williams was less known for journalism than for striking a deal to dismiss a messy sexual-harassment suit against him in 1999. When an Army commander had troops sign 500 identical good-news form letters to local newspapers throughout America in 2003, the fraud was so transparent it was almost instantly debunked. The fictional scenarios concocted for Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman also unraveled quickly, as did last weekend's Pentagon account of 10 marines killed outside Falluja on a "routine foot patrol." As the NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski told Don Imus last week, he received calls within hours from the fallen's loved ones about how the marines had been slaughtered after being recklessly sent to an unprotected site for a promotion ceremony.

Though the White House doesn't know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice's daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president's latest Iraq speeches - most recently about the "success" stories of Najaf and Mosul - still don't stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.

The jig is up--not a bad slogan for 2006.
Loon in Chief

Shrubelroy reveals his inner starry-eyedness:

President Bush suggested Friday that history will vindicate his decision to invade Iraq, saying he believed that a half century from now, it will be regarded as important a transition for the world as the democratization of Japan was after World War II.

"I'm absolutely convinced that some day, 50 or 60 years from now, an American president will be speaking to an audience saying, 'Thank goodness a generation of Americans rose to the challenge and helped people be liberated from tyranny,' " Mr. Bush said. " 'Democracy spread and the world is more peaceful for it.' "

He spoke at a fund-raiser here expected to raise about a million dollars for Representative Mark Kennedy, a Republican running for the Senate in a state Mr. Bush has lost in two successive elections.

In a luncheon speech to a ballroom full of Mr. Kennedy's supporters, Mr. Bush repeated many of the arguments he has made in the past two weeks about the importance of winning the battle for Iraq.

"We have got a strategy for victory and we'll see that strategy through," he said, drawing on lines from recent policy speeches. "We will defeat the terrorists in Iraq. We will not let Al Qaeda take a stronghold - get a stronghold in Iraq. We'll help this country develop a democracy, which will send a powerful signal to people in Damascus and Tehran."

During last year's campaign, Mr. Bush often spoke of his friendship with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, remarking that a bitter enemy that Mr. Bush's father fought against in World War II has become a close friend and ally. He expanded on the theme during his recent trip in Asia, with Mr. Koizumi at his side, and used it again today to argue that history would prove him right in deciding to invade Iraq.

"Something happened between the time that my dad and your relatives signed up in World War II and I'm talking peace with Koizumi," he said. "And what happened was, Japan became a democracy."

Many outside experts and even some of Mr. Bush's own aides question his reliance on the comparison, noting that Japan was a unified state before World War II, but that Iraq has always been divided along religious and regional lines.

"It may sound too simple, but this is a comparison the president believes in deeply," one of his senior aides said when Mr. Bush was in Asia, declining to be quoted by name in discussing the president's thinking. "It's the argument he knows his presidency will be judged by."

Just...plain...nuts. There's NO comparison between Japan--or Germany--at the conclusion of World War II and Mesopotamia. None. Meanwhile, on the ground, reality in Iraq has become even more hellish than during the bad old days of Saddam Hussein.

Shrub's comments reflect either an astounding degree of dingbat or mask god knows what considering the more cynical interpretations for invasion likewise are being shredded in an evolving chaos...a chaos that most certainly DOESN'T portend ANY sort of democratic emergence at any time.

If the dauphin truly believes his air-headed rhetoric, he should be retired for the good of the nation. If he doesn't he should be impeached--both for lying, and for the level of stupidity in his lies.

What a nutjob.
Can't Put it any Plainer

My sister received this in an email and asked me to post it--it's an open letter written by a NOLA resident and it nicely encapsulates the feelings of any number of folks who either call the city home--or know folks who do. I'm posting this as I received it, i.e., the lack of capital letters, in my opinion, underscores the urgency as does the style itself:

a slightly different message from what you normally hear from new orleans:

we need your help.
you, as americans, can speak up for us americans down here in louisiana. we need action before congress finishes up and heads back for the holidays and the rest of the country forgets us.

we're screaming down here for the federal government, who built the levees that "protect" new orleans, to step forward and ensure that this won't happen again. we've screamed and screamed and now it's your turn to scream. if america can't stand by all of its citizens in time of domestic crisis, then just what kind of country do we live in?

why is it important? until the feds step in and say, "we're going to make all of america, including louisiana, safe," our city and state are doomed.

the "come back" will be minimal and many thousands of people will choose to live
somewhere else, somewhere safer. and businesses will slowly make their way out the
door and all that will be left is an oddball tourist town with a port and good food.

and new orleans and louisiana deserve better than that.

so write an email to your congressman or congresswoman.
call your senator, state representative, governor.
do it today.

and tell them that new orleans and louisiana are worth saving.

a commitment from our government to rebuild the levees is all we're asking for. we're working hard to right the ship down here but we can't do it alone. we need help from all of you, all of america.

because last i checked, louisiana is still part of the "united" states of america.

thanks for speaking for up for us.
please pass this note on to all who you think can help.
Calm Before the Storm, Neglect After

YRHT, PGR, and World Class New Orleans all pointed to this NY Times editorial, so I'm passing it along for the benefit of those few who haven't yet added them to your reading list:

We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.

The opinion piece takes a few swipes at "state and local officials," but places blame squarely where it belongs: on the FEDERAL government. The levee system failed because of inadequate design and outright criminal non-execution of the design--and that, folks, was ultimately a federal program. Today, the recovery and rebuilding effort is floundering because, at the federal level, there's ZERO effort at restoring the most basic infrastructure, i.e., the levees and floodwalls. Without adequate protection from floods and storms, there's simply no way for people to move back.

Last week I pointed to Billmon's archives because he managed to succinctly and creatively point out the contrast between natural disaster in a swing state during an election year (eliciting a lightning-fast federal response) versus a natural disaster in a mainly "red" state during an off year (where the only real effort from Washington has been a non-stop barrage of victim blaming). In combing through the archives, I also came across this prescient passage from Whiskey Bar (and, for the record, count me as one who hopes Billmon will resume writing before too long):

There's no point in parsing every point in Shrub's big speech [in Jackson Square] last night -- not when we've learned, through bitter experience, that there's rarely a connection between the real world and the text on his teleprompter...

The final thing I noticed was what I didn't notice -- any mention of the destructive environmental policies that are causing South Lousiana to slide into the Gulf of Mexico (or the Gulf of Mexico to slide over South Lousiana).

Amid Shrub's "bold" talk about rebuilding the levees (note that he said the rebuilt system would be "stronger than it's ever been," not "strong enough to survive a direct hit by another Category 4 hurricane") I heard no explanation of how these improvements will protect New Orleans if the city ends up as a polder island in the middle of a shallow lagoon. I'm not sure even the Dutch would be able to stormproof it then.

(Of course, Bush also didn't mention the risk that all that heroic work and all those federal dollars will eventually be washed away by a rapid rise in sea levels caused by global climate change. But then I was expecting a speech, not a miracle.)

Will the speech help the disaster recovery? (Bush's, I mean.) Perhaps -- depending on whether or not the Rovians have correctly read the public mood as supporting a massive federal spending binge to get New Orleans, and the Republican Party, back on their feet.

But even if they're right on that score, they should mind the old Chinese adage about being careful what you wish for. If they convince people that Bush finally has Katrina under control, they may divert their attention to more permanent disasters--like Iraq.

Well, I don't know if they've convinced people that Bush has things under control re: Katrina...I think it's more like they ran out the clock on the collective attention span of the American public. As other things get the media treatment--like all this nonsense about "Christmas" versus "holidays," it seems as if the citizenry has pretty much forgotten about the massive mess along the Gulf Coast and the distinct lack of initiative at the federal level to do a goddamned thing--except, perhaps, cut rich people's taxes even further...which the Times opinion piece mention of--along with the $300 billion dollars being burned in Central Asia.

Category 5 levee protection for New Orleans would cost $32 billion dollars. No, that's not cheap. But you'd actually get a return on this investment--a return that benefits the entire nation.

Why doesn't the media look into THAT?

Wolcott gets it right:

Today one of the themes was the shooting of the passenger at the Miami airport, which most people would regard as a human tragedy, but to the fun-lovin' guys on "Bulls & Bears" a dead body is a buying opportunity. One guest recommended airlines stocks--American Airlines in particular, I think--because American travelers would now feel safer knowing that security forces leap into action with such lethal authority. Although his stock pick was ridiculed (razzing each other's picks is part of the chortling entertainment here--my wife says the guests snap and bark like dogs fighting over a choice cut of meat), everyone agreed that killing the passenger was a show of strength that would boost Americans' confidence in Homeland Security. It meant the system was working, and that the sky marshals were up to the task. It was asserted as fact that the poor guy claimed to have a bomb--the truth of the situation is considerably hazier--and scant attention was paid to his bipolar condition, or the reactions of his fellow passengers to his killing. This is how bad it's gotten in Bush America: gunning down a mentally ill passenger is now a thumbs-up sign of virility and vigilance.

On Neil Cavuto's "Cavuto on Business," the passenger's death was also touted as a big thumb's up for Homeland Security, with the odious Stewart Varney (can't we send him back from wherever he and his approval-courting accent came?) claiming Americans were "reassured" by the dispatch with which this passenger was put down with deadly force. Perhaps the sky marshals should have shot the man's wife too, so that Varney's imaginary Americans could be doubly reassured.

Killing the mentally ill: that's Fox News's idea of a "feel-good."

Then followed "Forbes on Fox," hosted by David "The Assman" Asman, which exploited the Miami incident as a springboard to propose that victims and victims' survivors of Homeland Security excesses be denied the right to sue. Because otherwise trial lawyers are going to infest the scene and clog the courts with their frivolous lawsuits seeking restitution. One Forbes editor who was against the lawsuit ban nevertheless lambasted trial lawyers as "terrorists against the economy." The words "terrorist" and "terrorism" mean nothing spouting out of a Republican mouth now, they're used so promiscuously.

I made only a passing reference to this story last week (noting that Bush's latest non-major address about Operation Enduring Clusterfuck was likely to lose top billing in the day's headlines) more information came out, it's become pretty apparent this was indeed a tragedy, and not a case of defeating terrorism. Which, by the way, is probably why the story dropped so quickly from the headlines.

Of course, wingnuts will continue crowing--as long as it's not anyone they know, 'nuts have no problems with dead bodies, be they tourists, US soldiers, Iraqi civilians, etc.--if they're not directly affected, it's just a tv show.
Compassionate Conservativisim Strikes Again

Looks like a bunch of folks noticed this, but saw it first at YatPundit:

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

"When someone dies in combat, they need to give them due respect they deserve for (the) sacrifice they made," said John Holley.

John and Stacey Holley, who were both in the Army, made some calls, and with the help of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Matthew was greeted with honor and respect.

"Our familiarity with military protocol and things of that sort allowed us to kind of put our foot down -- we're not sure other parents have that same knowledge," said Stacey Holley.

The Holleys now want to make sure every fallen hero gets the proper welcome.

The bodies of dead service members arrive at Dover Air Force Base.

From that point, they are sent to their families on commercial airliners.

Reporters from 10News called the Defense Department for an explanation. A representative said she did not know why this is happening.

At least Senator Boxer understands basic common decency--Team Bush sure doesn't. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if, like in the movie Missing, the family is presented with an invoice...