Saturday, September 10, 2005

Open Thread

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your thread; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Open Thread

All the world 's a thread, and all the men and women merely players.


Praise jeebus my belief in karma grows stronger by the day.

Open Thread

The thread 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king!

Piling on Mike Brown

Kevin's right, piling on Mike Brown will get old. But, let's not stop piling on the man who hired him and nor, frankly, the senator who didn't even try to do his job when he presided over his confirmation.

Christian Coalition of America -- Front Group for Islam?

Oh wow. As pointed out here, the Christian Coalition insignia contains a...


Islamic State of South Carolina

Who knew?


Yglesias thinks my previous question about national greatness being for other people boiled down to an accusation of hypocrisy. There was an element of that, I suppose but it certainly wasn't the central point of the question. It isn't simply a matter of "why ask others to sacrifice for your notion of greatness when you aren't willing to yourself." Whether or not David Brooks joins the military or the peace corps, or did previously (no on both accounts) should not necessarily impact his ability to imagine that the country would be better if more people did so. What I was referring to was more along the lines of what Yglesias has in the post linked. This "national greatness" stuff is largely about appealing to a few peoples' aesthetic desires, and its an aesthetic desire largely borne out of inability to participate in anything which personally gives you that sense of greatness. It's imagining that if only your favorite football team wins, you'll feel good. You will, probably, for a day or two but that's about it. You'd get a lot more satisfcation out of joining the local flag football league and winning your own championship.

I don't think David Brooks need to join the peace corps before he tells me I should, but I think maybe if David Brooks would just go and join the goddamn peace corps himself (peace corps here being symbol of any number of things he might participate in) he might get something out of it which will make him less concerned with the rest of the country conforming to some aesthetic.

Holden Gets a Pony

Newsweek says 38% approval.

Open Thread

Small threads make base men proud.

Nola Reconstruction

It's going to be boring, monotonous, dreary work, mostly leading to a bunch of boring, monotonous stories that no one cares much about. It's going to involve maps and city council meetings and minutes and documents and building permits and construction contracts and titles. But, it will, if done right, also involve people.

Please, press, both local and national, do your job following the saga of the reconstruction of New Orleans. There are going to be land grabs and corruption and bribery and efforts by the NO elite to keep the poor from returning.

Please, follow the story. You'll be the only watchdog for this.


NPR takes a lot of beating from here, usually, but these timesline reports that they established are stunning. They're really too long to provide much of a useful excerpt, but they should be read through by everyone.

Part 1.

Part 2.

brief bit from part 2:

ZWERDLING: Now it's Wednesday afternoon. Local officials like Walter Maestri say they haven't seen the food or water or medical supplies that state and federal officials promised.

Mr. MAESTRI: You know, we're hearing all kinds of excuses. We're hearing all kinds of rationales that `We don't step in until the locals ask.' Well, you know, the asking was going on.

SULLIVAN: While Maestri is waiting for supplies, FEMA contractors like Dan Wessel are trying to send them. Wessel owns Cool Express of Wisconsin, one of the main companies under contract by FEMA to bring ice and water to the area. First, he says, his fleet waits two days for FEMA to give the go-ahead. Then, he says, FEMA sends the deliveries to the wrong place.

Mr. DAN WESSEL (Owner, Cool Express): Our first trucks got staged in Montgomery, Alabama. The second trucks, second wave, got staged in Dallas, Texas.

SULLIVAN: When they are finally redirected to Louisiana and other areas that actually need supplies, there is no one around to greet the trucks or distribute the ice and water.

Mr. WESSEL: We are told to go to a certain location. We get there. There's nobody there. We don't know what to do. So it was my driver fending for himself. But pretty well what they did is they opened up the doors and let people take the water and ice.

ZWERDLING: By Thursday, there seems to be a total disconnect between what's going on on the ground and what officials in Washington say is happening on the ground. That morning, Mayor Nagin goes on local radio.

(Soundbite of local radio broadcast)

Mayor NAGIN: I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country, and get that (censored) moving to New Orleans.

ZWERDLING: Meanwhile, top officials in the Bush administration are painting a different picture. In fact, the secretary of Homeland Security sounds like he doesn't know what's been going on at the convention center in New Orleans for the past two days. Here's Michael Chertoff on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

(Soundbite of previous broadcast)

Secretary MICHAEL CHERTOFF (Department of Homeland Security): I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water.

Who's Your FEMA Flunky?

Reader g writes in with a fun game. Who's your FEMA flunky? If, like g, you're from Seattle then your regional FEMA person is qualified to be a FEMA flunky because he was::

-- county campaign co-chair for Bush in 2000.

-- degree from diploma mill.

Luckily for me, my FEMA flunky, who of course is only an "acting" regional director due to her obvious actual qualifications, is no flunky at all and appears to be a very qualified and career FEMA employee. One of the few.

Find your FEMA flunky here!

Making them Squeal

My guess is that Amtrak's massive increase of commuter fares is designed to make a relatively well-off segment of their ridership squeal loudly. If not, well, I guess they're just not that interested in the commuter fares.

WASHINGTON - Amtrak fares for monthly passes on the Northeast Corridor will increase as much as 59 percent effective Sept. 20, and tickets for other service will go up as much as 7.5 percent, the railroad announced yesterday.

Rising energy costs and other expenses were cited as the reasons for the fare increases.

The national railroad also confirmed that it would end service at the Cornwells Heights station in lower Bucks County at the end of October.

Amtrak officials said that most fare increases would average between 5 percent and 7 percent, but that costs for commuters who pay steeply discounted rates for multiple trips or monthly passes would rise much more.

For commuters from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station to New York, the price of a monthly pass would rise from $633 to $1,008, a 59 percent increase. The $53 one-way fare to New York, by contrast, would go up about $4, Amtrak said.

Conservative Time Inversion

And Clinton was responsible for Ruby Ridge!

Keeping them Busy

The latest thing occupying the right wing bloggers is the funniest thing I've ever seen. Whatever keeps them enraged and distracted is fine by me...



Quote of the Day

"... I went to Florida a few days after President Bush did to observe the damage from Hurricane Andrew. I had dealt with a lot of natural disasters as governor, including floods, droughts, and tornadoes, but I had never seen anything like this. I was surprised to hear complaints from both local officials and residents about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handling the aftermath of the hurricane. Traditionally, the job of FEMA director was given to a political supporter of the President who wanted some plum position but who had no experience with emergencies. I made a mental note to avoid that mistake if I won. Voters don't chose a President based on how he'll handle disasters, but if they're faced with one themselves, it quickly becomes the most important issue in their lives." Bill Clinton, My Life (p. 428)

(thanks to reader s)

Open Thread

These threads are razors to my wounded heart.

Open Thread

To mourn a thread that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Open Thread

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless thread!

Friday, September 09, 2005

More Love from the Right

Fine, fine, people, every one.


Will Bunch caught this earlier, and Media Matters has the full transcript of the smooth silky sounds of Glenn Beck.

Open Thread

A thread! a thread! my kingdom for a thread!


Rod Dreher, the crunchy Cornerite, actually gets it:

It would be very wrong, I believe, to let the ignominious Michael Brown be the scapegoat for FEMA's sins. Check out this front-pager from the WaPo. Turns out that a raft of FEMA's top leaders have little or no emergency management experience, but are instead politically well connected to the GOP and the White House. This is a scandal, a real scandal. How is it possible that four years after 9/11, the president treats a federal agency vital to homeland security as a patronage prize? The main reason I've been a Bush supporter all along is I trusted him (note past tense) on national security -- which, in the age of mass terrorism, means homeland security too. Call me naive, but it's a real blow to learn that political hacks have been running FEMA, of all agencies of the federal government! What if al-Qaeda had blown the New Orleans levees? How much worse would the crony-led FEMA's response have been? Would conservatives stand for any of this for one second if a Democrat were president? If this is what Republican government means, God help the poor GOP Congressmen up for re-election in 2006.

Much of the necessary response to Katrina would've been similar to that for any type of disaster, include many much-discussed acts of terrorism. I'm all for going to kill the bad guys after a terrorist act, but I'd also like to, you know, not let people die in the streets if its preventable.

(thanks to hermes)


Still a wanker.

Friday Cat Blogging

Open Thread

What's in a name? That which we call a thread by any other name would smell as sweet.


From Paula Zahn's show last night:

Here in the tiny town of St. Gabriel, nearly 70 miles from New Orleans, FEMA has turned a massive, 125,000-square-foot warehouse into a morgue to process and identify the bodies. Medical examiners have now started round-the-clock operations to X-ray, photograph, fingerprint and take DNA samples from the victims.

Mayor George Grace says the dead could exceed even the town's own population of 6,000. GEORGE GRACE, MAYOR OF ST. GABRIEL, LOUISIANA: This is our contribution to the overall tragedy. And this is the only role that we were chosen to play, and we intend to play that role.

AMANPOUR: Most residents we found, like Evelyn Stiller (ph) and her family, say it's the least they can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it was my family member, I wouldn't want them sitting on the interstate waiting for somebody to come collect them.

AMANPOUR: But in this poor town, average annual income $9,000, a few people do fear property values and even their health could be affected. But the blunt reaction of Theresa Roy, who owns a small grocery store, startled us, with her apparent preference for a morgue, rather than a shelter.

THERESA ROY, RESIDENT OF ST. GABRIEL: I'd rather have them here dead than alive. And at least they're not robbing you and you have to worry about feeding them.

AMANPOUR: Still, Theresa does have sympathy.

ROY: They have to go somewhere. These are people's families. They have to -- they still have to have dignity.


Before the official announcement that Vice Admiral Allen was taking over Katrina duties from Brown, he'd already been scheduled as a guest on Fox News Sunday.

Fake Dog Tags

Participants in the American Freedom March, or whatever it's called, receive a pair of fake dog tags.

I shit you not. here.

Bye Brownie

ABC says he's about out.

Let's hope he's replaced by someone competent who doesn't think he's #1 priority is spit-shining Bush's shoes.

...nope, he's not out. Still in charge, just gets to sit at his desk in Washington doing nothing.

They Get Letters

Little Ricky Santorum gets a letter:


The National Weather Service Employees Union issued the following statement today in response to Rick Santorum's misguided comments about the performance of the National Weather Service concerning Hurricane Katrina.

"The bottom line is that we did our job well and everyone knows it. By falsely claiming that we got it wrong, Rick Santorum is continuing his misguided crusade against the National Weather Service. It’s unfortunate that Senator Santorum would try to use this tragedy to push his own agenda. Senator Santorum's comments are aimed at jumpstarting his bizarre stalled legislation to undermine the mission of the National Weather Service, legislation that has failed to garner the support of even one of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate.” said Paul Greaves, President of NWSEO.
The early warnings about Hurricane Katrina issued by the National Weather Service have been praised for their accuracy by news organizations such as NBC News, The New York Times and even internationally by The London Times.

"The fact is that we issued several warnings about the oncoming storm. Sadly, many of those warnings fell on deaf ears.

"We urge Senator Santorum to retract his remarks about the National Weather Service. Senator Santorum would be providing a better service to the nation if he focused his efforts on helping the victims of this hurricane, instead of lashing out against the hardworking men and women of the National Weather Service who prove their worth each day." said Mr. Greaves.

America's Worst Person

Quite possibly it's Gretna, LA police chief Athur Lawson.


With thousands likely dead and a massive aid and reconstruction project requiring competent leadership, what is the priority of the Bush administration? Making sure Bush doesn't look bad. I think this event has shown the limits of their "words speak louder than actions" approach to everything, and it's a shame. At almost any step of the way - up to and even INCLUDING now - had they decided that actions might actually be important Bush would still have a chance to ride this one to heroism - and, incidentally, helped the victims. That isn't to say PR wouldn't play a part of that, but it's PR which requires a bit more than the "message: I care" approach his father pioneered.

WASHINGTON - There's an intense damage-control debate at the White House over whether President Bush should name a Katrina relief czar, and the idea's backers are pushing former mayor Rudy Giuliani as a dream candidate.
But some top Bush aides think a brand-name disaster boss like Giuliani, dubbed "America's Mayor" for his leadership after 9/11, or former secretary of state Colin Powell would remind Americans of the administration's sluggish initial response to the hurricane.

"You don't want someone overshadowing the President," said an official in the "ride it out" camp. "That leaves him looking weak."

Living as they do in Washington I suppose one shouldn't be surprised that the Washington Post editorial board is incapable of seeing that everything isn't just about politics. Even real live politicians, and certainly plenty of other people tangentially involved in the business of politics, occasionally may be motivated by more than political opportunism which the Post seems to ascribe to all of the president's critics. As has been clear all along, only public outcry was motivating the Bush administration to do anything. Only harsh press coverage, where Brownie and Chertoff seemed to be getting all of their information from (if days late), seemed to make them aware of the realities on the ground. And, finally, only public criticism by politicians seemed to really inspire them to act.

It's the Bush administration that's entirely about politics, not all of their critics. This is Fred Hiatt's World, not ours.

Some of the administration's political opponents are reacting to the administration's fumbling with barely disguised glee, hoping it will hobble the administration's policy plans and hurt the GOP in the 2006 elections and beyond. But all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, ought to hope that the administration will right itself sufficiently to oversee an effective recovery. And that's not just for the sake of Katrina's survivors. For the president to be rendered a lame duck more than three years before he leaves office would not serve the country well, at home or abroad.

Wanker of the Day

Little Ricky Santorum declaring that the National Weather Service's warnings were "not sufficient." Maybe he was too distracted by extracurricular canine related program activities to notice this one:








Bush Style:

Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.

The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.

One restricted group will be the media, whose members will not be allowed to walk along the march route. Reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall.


Hey, we found some more.

Three Texas truck drivers under contract with the federal government to bring in storm relief supplies for Plaquemines Parish have been arrested for allegedly looting toys, dolls, women’s lingerie and other merchandise from a Belle Chasse Family Dollar store, authorities said.

Booked late Wednesday night with one count each of looting were Gerald W. Thomas, 47, of Tyler, Texas; Thomas Sherman, 39, also of Tyler; and Lasharon Lemons, 36, of Dallas, said Major John Marie with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office.


And some people worry about profanity:

Two shaky House incumbents, Democrat Melancon and Republican Boustany, hope response to hurricane rallies voters behind them. House Republican campaign chief Reynolds touts chance to market conservative social-policy solutions; Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Baker explains later he didn't intend flippancy but has long wanted to improve low-income housing.

Holden Gets a Pony


Almost two-thirds, 65 percent, say the country is headed in the wrong direction — up from 59 percent last month. President Bush's job approval was at 39 percent, the lowest point since AP-Ipsos began measuring public approval of Bush in December 2003.

Open Thread

Hopefully we are not threading over a cliff.

Open Thread

No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread. --Robert Burton


Second to Bush, Joe Lieberman is the man most responsible for Michael Brown.

FEMA's Brown

Assistant TO the manager.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Open Thread

I am the very model of a modern major threadbot.

Judy Judy Judy

Still going.

Disaster in the Making

Maybe if there had been more time spent on this story instead of certain events in Aruba there would have been pressure on the Bush administration to put competent people in charge. But, that would require a mainstream press which was capable of seeing stories through anything but the lens of partisan politics.

Follow up story here.

Do It Yourself Disaster Relief

Fafblog discovers FEMA's new emergency procedures for us all.

Unctuous and Asinine?

No, Sam, I believe the press corps is in fact an enormous, mendacious, disembodied anus (midi link).

National Greatness

My question is - why is "national greatness" something for other people? People who yearn for greater purpose in their own lives should stop thinking that they'll fill the little empty hole inside themselves by trying to impose purpose onto others.

FEMA Curbing Debit Cards

Now saying the rest will get checks, if they provide an address. Even Blitzer got why that might be a wee bit of a problem. I suppose it'll be a big boon to the local usurious check cashing places.

Cafferty II

Somewhere along the way FEMA became a dumping ground for the president's political cronies with little experience in disaster relief. The agency's first director was Joe Albaugh. He was president Bush's 2000 campaign chairman. Albaugh brought in the current failure Michael Brown. His previous work was with Arabian horses. The number two guy, Brown's top deputy at FEMA, is a fellow named Patrick Rhode. He worked for the 2000 election campaign. The number 3 guy at FEMA is Brooks Altshuler. He used to work in the White House. His job was planning presidential trips. FEMA's long term recovery director is a guy named Scott Morris. He produced television and radio commercials for the Bush campaign. The federal agency charged with handling national emergencies is staffed at the very top by a bunch of political hacks with virtually no experience that qualifies them to respond to something like Katrina. But I digress.


Where are the qualifications of these people? None of these guys is qualified based on the stuff I'm reading, to head up an emergency management agency. One of these guys worked with Arabian horses, The rest are all off the campaign trial. Planned presidential trips. Produced TV commercials. Don't you need somebody at the top running the organization who has some semblance of an idea of what the hell is required when there's an emergency?


Blitzer & Cafferty discussing the Cheney incident from earlier:

Cafferty: The vice-president said that was the first time he heard it. Didn't he utter the same phrase to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate?

Blitzer: Yes.

Cafferty: So it wasn't the first time he heard it.

Blitzer [carrying water]: The first time he heard it in the context of this trip.

Cafferty: You know what, I bet it's not the last.

Pelosi/Phillips Transcript



Alex Tabarrok does present a good idea for meeting housing needs - despite the tight market for homes, the rental market in most markets is pretty soft and it would be simple to administer housing vouchers to Katrina victims.

Knowing who is in charge and who runs Congress it's hard for me to spend much time thinking about "good ideas" as such things never actually make it into a piece of legislation. But, who knows, maybe this time...

Holden Gets a Pony

Pew poll at 40% (pdf).

67% say could have done more for relief efforts.

Mara Liasson on the Press

Stunning. Well, it is Liasson.


To Kyra Phillips just now:

Kyra, if you want to make a case for the White House you should go on their payroll.

Compassionate Kyra

It appears that both the Red cross and FEMA will be handing out, eventually, $2000 debit cards to victims. How does compassionate Kyra Phillips respond?

So, a couple of questions for you. Real quickly about the cards - so you're not, obviously, allowed to get both. It's either one or the other, right?

Because when you've lost everything you have and are homeless, $4000 is an obscene amount of money.

Wonder how much her shoes cost.

Always Keeping Their Eyes on the Ball

Because of Katrina, we need to privatize social security.


Some lovely fellow on CNN just repeated Cheney's words to Senator Leahy back to him during Cheney's little press conference. "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney." here.

Personality Cult

Yglesias is right that there's a post-9/11 unwillingness to blame Bush for anything, but it isn't just the right wing media.

So Soon

Already there's talk of rebuilding N.O. in such a way as to exclude those most affected by the hurricane.

The impact of the hurricane diaspora on the country will be interesting.


Just now. "Mr. Bill was better informed than Mr. Bush."

No Jews Need Apply

Saint Rudy endorses candidate who think that only born-again Christians should be in political office.

Needless to say, born-again believers also excludes Catholics.

But, hey, Saint Rudy can do no wrong.


I'm so glad Haley Barbour is happy with how things are going in his state. He obviously has set the bar really high for acceptable living conditions for his citizens.

From the AP:

And consider Bay High School in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was an unofficial shelter turned cesspool, the sight of which Gary Turner, Trudy Roberts and Felix Ruiz said should be considered a crime.

The three strangers became a rescue team of sorts when they fled to the high school themselves and found people in their 70s, 80s and 90s wallowing in their own waste on the auditorium floors. They had been brought to the school and aban doned, most unable to move without help.

"Rats wouldn't even go in there," said Turner, of Bay St. Louis.

FEMA - Just an Arm of the Bush PR Machine

It's hideous.

Poor Byron

Byron says:

Some of the president’s critics complained about the poll. People didn’t put all the blame on Bush? Surely something was wrong.
For example, Media Matters for America, the “progressive” watchdog group, wrote a critique headlined, “Media touted questionable Washington Post/ABC poll to say public opinion of Bush’s hurricane response is mixed.”

Media Matters said the Post polled too few people and the survey was taken during a holiday weekend, when it could not reach a representative sample of Americans.

But then came another poll, this one from Gallup, with a bigger sample size, that was taken, at least in part, during this business week.

CBS News poll says: 38% Approve, 58% disapprove of Bush's handling of Katrina.

Admittedly, I find it hard to read all the way through a York column, as I tend to be hypnotized by the hair...the hair...


New poll. 38% Approve, 58% disapprove of Bush's handling of Katrina.

There could be pictures of Bush with a goat, and 38% would approve, as long as it wasn't a gay goat.

Holden Gets a Pony


"Overall, how would you rate President Bush's performance on the job?"

Excellent/Good: 40%
Fair/Poor: 59%

Meanwhile in Iraq

Some news you might have missed.

Open Thread

Words from the thread on which we string our experiences. --Aldous Huxley

Open Thread

No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread. --Robert Burton

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Hey, we found some.

Socially Liberal Republicans

Arnold proves that like the rest of the variations of the mythical moderate Republican, they only exist as a media fantasy.

Pro-choice and pro-gay Republican governors never actually do anything but pay lip service to the idea in order to obtain fawning profiles in the media in the states (New York, Mass, PA, NJ, California) where such beasts go over well. When it comes to actual policy, they're just as bad as the rest of the haters.

What Country Do We Live In II?


In the wake of what the Wall Street Journal projected may be the most expensive natural disaster in American history, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives limited floor consideration of the $52 billion Katrina relief bill proposed by President Bush and voted to reject any Democratic efforts to amend the bill to include a wider array of relief measures, RAW STORY has learned.

Democrats said no one had even seen a copy of the legislation.

Voting along party lines, Republicans denied a measure that would have allowed for two hours of discussion and opened up the measure to be amended.

The Republican leadership pushed through a Suspension Rule in the House Rules Committee that blocked any members from offering amendments to the bill. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the Committee, led opposition to the rule.

The bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, is expected to pass on the House floor tomorrow.

Democrats implored Republicans to allow amendments, which would enable consideration of measures such as which areas and to which agencies relief dollars were most needed and how to restructure FEMA so that it would be more effective.

What Country Do We Live In?

If the press cries about this as loudly as they did about Judith Miller, I'll start taking the latter issue more seriously. Josh Marshall:

Perhaps there could be guidelines about photographs which in any way clearly identified the deceased. No one wants to get first confirmation of the death of a loved by seeing their bodies on the nightly news. But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what really happened. And the right of FEMA or the federal government at all on American soil to issue such a ban seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties: the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. It's not a war zone. It's recovery from a natural disaster.

Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city.

Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene last week is coming in in force now and taking as one of its key missions cutting public information about what's happening in the city.

This is a domestic, natural disaster. Absent specific cases where members of the press would interfere or get in the way of some particular clean up operation or perhaps demolition work there is simply no reason why credentialed members of the press should not be able to cover everything that is happening in that city.

Think about it.

Open Thread

Four score and seven threads ago.


New document found, a memo from the Undersecretary of War regarding internment, which contained this note:

These people are not 'internees' -- they are under no suspicion for the most part and were moved largely because we felt we could not control our own white citizens in California.

(via Malkinwatch)


January 20, 21:

America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.

Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments. And we find that children and community are the commitments that set us free.

Our public interest depends on private character, on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.

Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone.

I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well.

In all these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.

CREW Files FOIA Request


Washington, DC – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of State, asking for records and communications regarding the federal government’s preparedness and response to hurricane Katrina.

“For government leaders who have claimed to be focused on planning for and responding to emergency situations, the stories coming out of the disaster zones are heart-wrenching and appalling,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. “The American people should know what led our government to bungle both the preparation and the response to Katrina.”

CREW has requested information regarding what the agencies knew and when they knew it, including:

what portion of the $3.1 billion appropriated to DHS for emergency preparedness and response was spent to prepare for a potential hurricane on the Gulf Coast of the United States and for potential flooding in New Orleans;

what communications DHS and FEMA had with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the problems with and weakness of the levees surrounding New Orleans, the possibility of the levees being breached and the consequences of such breaches and whether the Corps had recommended any repairs or other construction to strengthen the levees;

what communications DHS and FEMA had with local officials regarding the need for transportation to evacuate citizens of New Orleans, both before and after the hurricane; and what communications DHS and FEMA received from the affected areas regarding the need for food and water.

More at the link.

Which Asshole Conservative Response Did You Have?

Kudos, of course, to all non-asshole conservatives who had none of these.

Fake Commission

Republicans - the I didn't do it party.


Made up bullshit - it's the new "fact."

Media Banned from Entering NOLA

According to Bob Brigham. email Bob says the organization is crappy so they managed to get in.

"Oblivious, In Denial, Dangerous"

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?'''

''Oblivious, in denial, dangerous,'' she added.

Open Thread

How much thread would a threadbot bot if a threadbot could bot thread.

Don't Forget to Give

Still deciding on final choices for the Eschacon money, but don't hesitate to give to the Red Cross or elsewhere. The couple of people I know in Louisiana (not in NO) said the Red Cross was on the scene pretty much right away to help with evacuees, so they're apparently on the job. But, send money where you're most comfortable sending it, recognizing that this is a long term disaster and different organizations are going to be more important at different stages.

"Blame Game"

Lovely phrase has been inserted into the mouth of every conservative. Apparently they believe no one should ever be held accountable for their mistakes.

Strange lot, conservatives.

Katrina Timeline


I Write a Letter

I write to Mary Hudak:

Dear Ms. Hudak,

I read with interest your response to firefighters who had taken off their FEMA T-shirts in protest for having their much-needed skills wasted on a presidential photo op. While not a first responder myself, I myself would like to make sure that I, too, am wearing the correct t-shirt so that my commitment to "the citizens of this country" is not called into question when I volunteer to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Is there a single t-shirt that all Americans should be wearing, or does it vary depending on the situation? Does it change daily? Most importantly, is there some place I can obtain these t-shirts to ensure that my patriotism is not called into question?



Words Speak Louder Than Actions

It's been the theme of the Bush administration all along. When your disaster relief agency is stacked with people whose former experience was doing campaign and PR work for Bush, it's no surprise that they define "disaster" as "stuff that makes George Bush look bad" and "disaster response" as "pictures of the preznit looking like he's doing stuff."

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.
Even if Bush were to fire embattled and suddenly invisible FEMA Director Michael Brown over his handling of Hurricane Katrina, the bureaucrat immediately below him is no disaster professional, either.

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.

Rhode's biography posted on FEMA's Web site doesn't indicate he has any real experience in emergency response.

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.

Actions have consequences. Time the people in charge, including our noble 4th estate, figure that out.

They Write Letters

David Brock writes to the Washington Post.

Photo Op Commandos

The General writes a letter to Jonah Goldberg.


The fascist at FEMA:

On Monday, the Tribune says, some firefighters began to take off their FEMA-issued T-shirts in protest. A FEMA spokesman responded by questioning the firefighters' willingness to help in a time of need. "I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak told the Tribune.

So, if you object to having yourself be flown across the country so you can be a human prop for the president instead of actually using your skills to help the citizens of this country then you need to revisit your commitment to "the citizens of this country."


Hide the Dead

Nothing that could make Dear Leader look bad must ever be shown.

Potemkin President

This is hideous.

...Billmon too.

Open Thread

Too many threads spoil the soup.

Open Thread

Better thread than dead.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Open Thread

Because threads have feelings too.

Operation Photo Op

Holy crap. It's worse than even I could've imagined. Just go read Josh.


Open Thread

How much thread would a threadbot bot if a threadbot could bot thread.

Immediate Withdrawal

I have no doubt that Wesley Clark is right when he suggests that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq could be a military catastrophe. But, I think there's a little disconnect about the meaning of "immediate withdrawal." Most people throwing around the phrase don't really think it means "turn tail and RUN RUN RUN AS FAST YOU CAN" out of Iraq. What they mean is we should set a timetable for getting out of Iraq as soon as we reasonably can. Certainly the meaning of the phrase "as soon as we reasonably can" is subject to debate, but I don't really think "getting out as fast as we can even if it means we incur massive casualties on the way out" is what anyone really has in mind.

Dumb as Rocks

They'll try to slime anyone, no matter what the facts are.

Redstate, what a funny place, where even the new improved "with extra wingnuttery added" Tacitus just got purged.


Just on CNN:

Why are we talking about the "blame game" - there are thousands of people dead because government officials failed to do what they're supposed to be doing. That's criminal behavior. I mean, that's no game. There are poeple dead in the city of New Orelans and up and down the gulf coast because people charged with seeing to their welfare failed to do that. I don't understand this relecutance to say, Mr. Brown, you failed in your assignment. You're out of here. Go away. Go back to Colorado and go back to working for the Arabian Horse Association that we got you from.

Shorter Right Wing Reaction to Katrina

From the Editors.

Link removed because I'm killing his server. Go find it yourself.

General Myers: My Only Source of Information is Nonexistent Newspapers


Santorum Wants to Fine Hurricane Victims


The Buck Stops Where?

Number #1 FEMA guy - unqualified. Number #2 FEMA guy - unqualified. Number #3 FEMA guy - unqualified. The guy who apppointed them? Unqualified.


I'm not sure what Bob Somerby thinks he's discovered here. It's well known that Bush I's response to Andrew was only slightly less awful than his son's response to Katrina, that in both cases they tried to push the blame on to state/local officials. I think it's a straw man to raise the question of whether FEMA's response was bad by historical standards, as I'm not sure who has been making that claim. FEMA's, and the administration's response, has just been terrible by any standards. Any comparisons to the past aren't really that interesting, unless they involve actual unsurmountable issues of logistics rather than presidential dithering. A reminder from 2004, when Bush II actually did do his job:

n 1992, the anger in Miami could be seen in a spray-painted sign that greeted the president: "Help us President Bush. Want reelection? Send more help+
materials. We need them. Thank you!"

The president was not solely at fault for the post-Andrew difficulties. Then-Gov. Lawton Chiles shared some of the blame. The Democratic governor did not formally request federal assistance until three days after Andrew hit. He later said he incorrectly assumed that FEMA's response would be sufficient to trigger help from all federal agencies.

The federal response to Andrew was poorly planned and chaotic. FEMA had spent years preparing for a Cold War nuclear apocalypse, but it seemed unprepared for Mother Nature.

"WE NEED HELP," a front-page Miami Herald headline screamed four days after Andrew hit.

The effort was tangled up in red tape. Some FEMA officials wanted to move truckloads of supplies to Florida ahead of time so it would be closer to victims. But FEMA's lawyers said the agency could not move supplies until after an official disaster declaration. Similar problems hobbled the federal removal of storm debris and delayed federal troops from being deployed to Dade County, snarling the ability of states to help each other.

Of course, the important difference this time is that whatever fault Chiles had due to his failure to declare an emergency doesn't apply here - the emergency was declared both by Blanco and Bush before the damn thing even hit.

Hey Byron

Perhaps you should spend some time discusssing whether the belief that African-Americans have less "native judgment" than other Americans is the belief of a "sick racist motherfucker" or just a garden variety "sick motherfucker."


Tuesday, Wednesday, what's the difference.


For quite some time we've been hearing that gas prices aren't so high in historical terms. It's always been a rather silly point, as a huge and fast increase in a nontrivial part of the necessary expenditures of most people is painful no matter how high the level is in historical terms.

But, now, we're basically at historically high gas prices. What's next?

You Can't Make This Stuff Up


Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why _ in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.

Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can.

"Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people," the president said after a meeting at the White House with his Cabinet on storm recovery efforts.

Not Just Welfare

All the laughing at the poor is really funny, especially, you know, the possible 10,000+ dead ones. I'm sure Katrina is bringing out the best in many - donations, volunteering, etc... - but it's shown the political Right to be the heartless racist fucks we always knew they were.

Giggling monsters aside, it isn't just welfare checks that people get early in the month. A large number of social security recipients (anyone who began receiving them before May, 1997) get their payments on the 3rd of the month, though the rest are staggered throughout. And, yes, SSI - welfare for the elderly - payments go out the first.

But, more to the point, as Josh points out, how the fuck could these people leave without their checks? Not everyone has an AmEx platinum card like Imus and his buddies.

Sick sick motherfuckers.

Post edited because people are saying it wasn't Imus giggling - I was responding to the word "Chortling" in Josh's post, which referred to a conservative coworker of his correspondent, and not actually Imus.

Local Help

From Attytood:

THE HOMELESS men of St. John's Hospice don't have much. But they are gathering their pennies - literally - to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"They've already filled up two jars with coins, dollar bills, whatever they have," said Matthew Gambino, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services runs the Race Street shelter, which houses about 40 men and feeds hundreds more each day.

The shelter's food service manager, Anthony Willoughby, helped come up with the idea, Gambino said, after the men said they desperately wanted to help in any way they could.

"They know what it's like, going without," said Donna Farrell, director of the archdiocese's Office for Communications.

One Last Eschacon Thing

In a very quick impromptu moment, a hat was passed and pulled in about $400 for hurricane victims which I need to direct somewhere. Though there's no reasonable way to make this a fully democratic decision, I welcome suggestions in comments and perhaps we can come to some consensus.

Government Propaganda

More payola. There are days when I can't decide if they want us to live in the 3rd world or the Soviet Union. Perhaps they're aiming for the "best" of both!


Now that just about everyone has made it home, I'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone who made the effort to come to Eschacon. I never really imagined that such a nice community would spring up around this blog, and it's certainly nice to see that it has. It was great meeting everyone, though admittedly my capacity for matching names, handles, and faces got a bit full after awhile (the various pix floating around help to remind me of course).

Special thanks, of course, to those who did the organizing or helped in any way with it(That I'm aware of). NYMary, Vicki, Watertiger, Thersites, Ntodd, Eli... Great job, and everything went smoothly as far as I could tell. I spent the weekend reminding people that I had nothing to do with the organizing - not because I wanted to run from responsibility, but because the credit should go to the people to truly do deserve the credit.

Thanks for the bloggers who participated on the blogger panel - Spin Dentist, Susie, Bob Fertik, NTodd, and Thersites for his excellent moderation.

Thanks to the shrill one for his surprise visit.

And, thanks to those who joined us for the afternoon panel:

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Patrick Murphy, candidate for Congress from Pennsylvania's 8th district.

Chuck Pennacchio, candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.

Alan Sandals, candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.

Mark Cohen, PA Representative for District 202.

Jesse Berney from the DNC.

Ally Wade from the DCCC.

Thanks to anyone I've forgotten to thank...

And, for those of you from around the country who want another party in a new location - start organizing!


The looting has just begun.

Open Thread

He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. -- Billy Shakes

Open Thread

Because threads have feelings too.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Uh, Is This Normally How They Do Things in Texas?

Dome announcements:

If you are looking for family members whose names end in A to L, please come to the West Entrance during odd hours. If you are looking for family members whose names end in M to Z, please come to the West Entrance during the even hours.

(thanks to reader maria)

Audio/Video Fun

Beautiful mind MP3 here. Froomkin noticed, E&P actually softened the quote. The full quote is:

What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overhwlemed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle)--this is working very well for them.

Olbermann rant available here.

Olbermann transcript here. Copied for posterity, as MSNBC links tend to be flaky:

SECAUCUS — Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.

Ah, the Corner...

You know things are crazy when K.Lo jpod is smarter than the Derb...

Her Beautiful Mind

Barbara Bush:

NEW YORK 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."


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 wants to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed with the hospitality.

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


How the underclass sees things:

Rescue 'ticket'

I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a "ticket." Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue.

Open Thread

Too many threads spoil the soup.

Senate Democrats Relief Plan

Katrina Relief Plan for Senate Action This Week

Although the Congress last week appropriated $10.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Defense Department, it is clear much more will be needed given the enormity of this disaster. While government authorities and others assess the scope of the problem and decide how much additional funding will be needed to address specific problems, there are a number of legislative items the Senate can and should promptly approve that can help Katrina’s victims. After the Senate has completed action on this emergency legislation, we hope the Senate will quickly provide significant new funding, and consider other substantive proposals that could help address short- and medium-term needs. These proposals must be followed by a much broader, long-term effort to rebuild and rehabilitate the Gulf Coast region and substantially improve efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to future disasters.

The following are just some examples of proposals that Senate Democrats believe deserve immediate Senate action this week:

Ensuring health care for all displaced victims

* Immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims.
* No need to prove residency or assets
* No copayments
* No penalties for failing to sign up for Medicare Part B in time.

To ensure access to medical care, we should ensure immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims. Paperwork requirements should be streamlined and asset requirements waived to ensure that victims, many of whom have no legal documents in their possession, can enroll in the program with little red tape. Residency requirements for participation should not apply to these victims to allow them to obtain health care services around the country. In addition, copayments should be waived for these people as they struggle to meet other needs as well. The Federal government should bear the full cost of these changes, and ensure that no affected state suffers a reduction in Federal Medicaid funding (their “match rate”) for other populations. This proposal is based on a similar successful initiative after the September 11 disaster.

We also should provide compensation to health care providers who provide a disproportionate share of the care for these victims.

Displaced victims should not be penalized for late enrollment in Medicare Part B because they have become newly-eligible or have lost coverage from another plan during this time. Similarly, everyone from the affected states should have an additional year to enroll in the new Medicare drug benefit and its low income subsidies. The automatic transition of dual eligible beneficiaries from Medicaid to Medicare drug coverage should be delayed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with the Federal government bearing the full cost of those people continuing Medicaid drug coverage.

Getting victims housing

* Emergency housing vouchers for displaced victims
* Expedited application procedures with no red tape.
* No tenant contributions until they find work.
* Tax incentives for private families to take in victims.
* Identify federal facilities that can house victims.
* Relief for homeowners facing threat of foreclosure

FEMA has said that up to 1 million people may need housing assistance.  The Senate therefore should immediately authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create and distribute temporary emergency housing vouchers to victims, without many of the restrictions that apply under the existing Section 8 low-income voucher program.  For example, victims should not have to document their income levels, and tenant contributions should be waived until they find work.  HUD also should be authorized to increase existing limits on allowable rents given the likelihood that rents in Gulf Coast areas will increase substantially for the foreseeable future.  HUD needs to take over primary responsibility for distributing vouchers since many of the region’s local housing authorities are not functioning at full capacity, if at all. 

Given the scarcity of rental housing, we will need to rely on private individuals and families to provide free room and board to victims. To encourage this, we should immediately approve a tax subsidy for those who provide such assistance to Katrina’s victims.

To help identify locations to house victims, the Administration should be required, within 10 days, to release an inventory of federal civilian and defense facilities that can be used to provide emergency housing, or as locations for the construction or deployment of temporary housing units.

We should increase aid to owners of damaged homes by waiving current law caps on home repair assistance (now $5200) and home replacement assistance (now $10,200). In addition, we should waive a requirement that individuals leave their home to qualify for home repair assistance, a rule that threatens to exacerbate an already massive demand for shelter in the region.

We should reestablish the Temporary Mortgage and Rental Program, which has been used in the past, including after the September 11 disaster, to provide assistance to homeowners and renters facing financial hardship. This could be important for many victims who otherwise could lose their homes through foreclosure.

Getting victims to family members and friends

Many of Katrina’s victims have little or no access to transportation. Although FEMA has legal authority to address this, the agency seems overwhelmed and has proven unable on its own to meet the compelling needs of countless numbers of stranded victims. We therefore need to make this a White House priority and direct the President to lead a broad effort to quickly ensure that displaced victims can get to family, friends and others who can provide them with room and board.

Getting students into school

Many of Katrina’s victims are children who need to enroll in a new school. To encourage schools to accept these victims, and alleviate some of the resulting burdens, we should provide funding to school districts that accept displaced children. This funding could be used to hire additional teachers, teachers’ aides, or counselors, or to provide temporary expansions of classrooms. A similar program should be provided for institutions of higher education that admit displaced students.

Bringing victims’ families together and placing them with other families

The government should establish a toll free “800” number and web site through which victims could access a national victim database and information about available assistance. Displaced individuals could register and provide contact information, so that separated family members and friends could find each other. The database also would allow volunteers to sign up if they are willing to provide free shelter to victims.

Getting victims cash to meet other basic needs

To ensure that victims can get cash for their basic needs, we should strengthen and expand the Disaster Unemployment Insurance Program and automatically extend any expiring UI benefits that victims are receiving. We also should give the President authority to increase the $26,200 statutory cap on cash assistance through the Individuals and Households Program, and should waive the 25 percent matching requirement for States in the Gulf region. In addition, victims should be allowed to withdraw funds from individual retirement accounts (IRA’s) penalty-free, with extra contributions permitted later.

Providing financial relief to victims and National Guard

Katrina’s victims, and National Guard involved in disaster operations, should not be obligated to make payments to the Federal government in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. There should be a short term moratorium on obligations such as:

Student loans
Individual and corporate income taxes
Small business loans

In addition, disaster victims filing for bankruptcy should be treated differently under the bankruptcy code in recognition of their particular hardship.

Ensuring victims have access to food

We should ensure that the many victims of Katrina who are struggling to obtain food have access to food stamps through a streamlined application process. States should be provided relief from the additional costs associated with administering the food stamp program for victims.

Restoring order

We should provide law enforcement funding where needed to help protect innocent citizens from crime and to ensure that there are places in which to imprison dangerous criminals. In addition, we should authorize federal courts to convene outside of their ordinary location in the event of an emergency, such as the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. 

Helping victims get jobs

Private employers should be given an incentive to hire displaced victims by temporarily qualifying them for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which can reduce an employer’s tax liability by up to $2400 per qualified new worker. In addition, the Federal government should establish a temporary preference for hiring displaced victims who are qualified for jobs.

Moreover, many displaced workers now lack the documents they need to secure employment under Federal law, such as passports and birth certificates. This law should be relaxed temporarily so that victims can legally obtain work without such documents, so long as they can provide a valid Social Security number.

Supporting the National Guard

We should ensure that Guard units serving in the Gulf Coast effort be considered to have been mobilized under Title 32 (they are currently mobilized through the states). This would qualify them for federal benefits and ensure that their service counts as active duty for the purposes of retirement, health care, and other benefits. It also would make them eligible for the Family Separation Allowance if separated from their families for more than 30 days, and could provide relief from creditors and foreclosures.

Requiring accountability

We should require the President to submit regular reports to the Congress on the status of recovery efforts, the number of victims who remain without decent housing, jobs, etc., and any additional resources or action needed to address the crisis.

Brian Williams

Good blogging.

When You Get Right Down To It

There's literally nothing that a conservative can say, especially John Tierney's good buddy, which can marginalize them.

Dodged a Bullet


Wanker of the Day

Charles Boustany.

Woah II

Same Newsweek reporter:

The ugliest moment I think I witnessed was a white river taxi service operator who goes up and down the Mississippi river saying some very harsh and really inhuman things about some of his fellow black residents of New Orleans. When he went into St. Bernard parish, down river from New Orleans, to rescue refugees and bring them back out of the flooding to dry land. Every single refugee that I saw him bringing out of St. Bernard parish was white. Bar none. That's his perogative as a private businessman who operates a river taxi ervice without any government subsidy whatsoever but I think his language and the racial discrimination he practiced in rescuing people are very revealing.


Something rarely heard in our media. Newsweek reporter, just now on MSNBC:

President Bush, for yet another time, once again showed a lack of instant immediate leadership. Just as we saw him flitting around the country during those initial eleven hours after the attacks on the Twin Towers, we saw him once again at his ranch in Crawford.


He just doesn't seem to have ability to think very fast on his feet.

Speaking of Vacations

It's bad enough that the preznit leaves Washington for 5 weeks, but now we know that when Katrina hit there apparently wasn't enough of any stature still in charge. When the president is away shouldn't someone be manning the phones, just in case?

Red Tape

I find this new line, that "state red tape" prevented poor George Bush from taking action as obscene as the rest of the bullshit from the last few days. Aside from the fact that it's entirely bullshit, a real leader would've made sure things got done.

All of this is a procedural sideshow - Bush was on vacation while things were going to hell. FEMA was getting its information from 2 day old news broadcasts while refusing to let any help into New Orleans.

People were dying and these people didn't do a damn thing, and once they realized it all they did was step up the political operation.

Pathetic and sad, as are their supporters.


I don't own a car, so I rarely have this experience, but last night I topped off the tank of a borrowed car. Quite an experience paying $20 for just under 6 gallons of gas.


I can never decide who qualifies as the worst member of the Beltway cocktail circuit - David Broder or Cokie Roberts - but Cokie is sure working overtime to achieve the honor:


(Off Camera) And for 48 hours those in charge in the Federal government didn't even know about it.


(Off Camera) Well, I'm not sure who knew about it. Because, you know, nobody had heard about anything but the Superdome up until that point and I'm not sure who knew that people were at the convention center. It's on the river so there was no, there was no directive to go there because it's on the river and nobody knew what the river was going to do.


(Off Camera) Well, except we were getting reports ...


Well, Ray Nagin knew, because he stayed in the city. And he talked, he was on the radio and he said that there were people who were in the convention center who were desperate.


(Off Camera) Not, not until that day. Not until that day. I mean, that's part of what's happened but you know, the other thing that, you know, George talked about the big one and there's been a lot of talk in the last few days, about is the city going to rebuild and, you know, is it, is it worth putting money in the levees because it's only going to happen again and all of that.

Times-Picayune, which should've been where DHS and FEMA were looking for information:

At 91 years old, Booker Harris ended his days propped on a lawn chair, covered by a yellow quilt and abandoned, dead, in front of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Mr. Harris died in the back of a Ryder panel truck Wednesday afternoon, as he and his 93-year-old wife, Allie, were evacuated from eastern New Orleans. The truck's driver deposited Allie and her husband's body on the Convention Center Boulevard neutral ground.

And there it remained.

With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center -- and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them -- collecting a body was no one's priority. It was just another casualty in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

A steady stream of often angry or despondent people, many from flooded Central City, trickled first toward Lee Circle and then to the convention center, hoping to be saved from increasingly desperate straits. Food, water and options had dwindled across Uptown and Central City, where looters seemed to rage almost at will, clearing out boutique clothing shops and drug stores alike. Hospitals would no longer accept emergencies, as staffers prepared to evacuate with patients.

On Scarborough, Wednesday night:

HOFLAND: We are hearing some really frightening stories tonight down at the convention center, where everyone has been told, go down there. You can get some medical treatment. We will be able to get you out of town. So, we have seen people walking for miles, carrying their suitcases, carrying everything that they have left, desperate to get someplace, and also to try to let their family members know across the country that they are still alive.

Fox News, Wednesday evening:

GOLDBLATT: Hi Shepard. The sun is about to set in New Orleans, and everywhere I look in this central business district, I can see people walking the street aimlessly. Many heading to the convention center because they have heard the rumor that buses will take them somewhere. Many of these people started their day at the Superdome. They don't want to be transported to the Houston Astrodome. They say that that was just a miserable experience spending the last couple of days in the Superdome.

CNN, Wednesday afternoon (this guy's an NO cop):

WININGER: I think the biggest danger we have right now is disease, you know, in the water. The water's full of gas and diesel. It's like it's probably going to be like a hazardous waste dump, I guess, you know? BLITZER: Are people getting out? Can they get out? Because I understand it's not that easy to get out of New Orleans.

WININGER: No. There's places you can get through, especially -- we just pushed a whole bunch of people from Canal and Bourbon there to the river, where they can get to the convention center, trying to get them up there.

CNN, Lou Dobbs show, Wednesday:

BLAKE: They are trying to evacuate. We saw some buses that were empty. We didn't see any that were full. There were two points for evacuating. I believe my colleague, Chris Lawrence, is down at the convention center, where they're also attempting to evacuate people.

Not Sure It Could've Been Worse

Roger Ailes reminds us that the man running this show was almost Bernie Kerik.


What athenae says.

Post/Newsweek Watch

So, Rove and Bartlett running the political pushback operation. Post/Newsweek get lied to and don't bother to tell who is lying.

This little example really informs us about the Bush rules of journalism - members of the administration can lie without consequence to the press.

Perhaps if a few of these reporters would spend a few days on New Orleans duty they'd understand the depths of depravity of the invididuals who are lying to them, and remember those little bits of journalistic ethics which tell them you shouldn't grant anonymity to people who are feeding you full of shit, especially when they're feeding you shit for the sole purpose of attacking others.

Soulless fucks.


Prominent wingnut blames hurricane on gays, Israel, and man-on-horse sex.

Numerous prominent conservatives and politicians are about to attend his conference.

Will anyone in the press even bother to ask if they endorse these views?

Bush to Nominate Roberts for Chief Justice

Well, I suppose it will be nice having an openly gay man for chief justice.

Still, seems like a pretty important job for someone who'd only been a judge for a couple of years.

Then again, look at the qualifications of everyone else Bush appoints.

Open Thread

To infinity thread and beyond!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Moment of Truth

First the Post, and now Newsweek. Will our press come clean on which sources in the administration are lying to the press as a part of an orchestrated CYA operation - priority one, apparently, as people continue to die - or, will they continue to value access over truth.

There are two stories here. One is the competing narrative of who is actually to blame for what has gone wrong. That can be established by a careful analysis of the actual facts. The second is the competing lies in pursuit of the first.

I remember when nothing offended the press more than lying about sex. Apparently such lies are much less important than lying about who is responsibile for the miserable failure we're now witnessing.

For shame, Washington Post. For shame, Newsweek. There's little reason to trust anything which appears in their pages anymore, especially those "facts" atrributed to "administration officials." They're allowed to lie, and keep lying.


Post Water Carriers

The Post runs a correction which fails to point out that they were, you know, lied to by a source. A source which, presumably, will make more stuff up in the future, stuff which is less easily checked, and which will be foisted on an unaware reading public.

Sources lie, you burn them. At least, that's what we all learned during our panel on blogger ethics this past weekend.

Lies and the Lying Liars II

DHS earlier bragged that they were prepping for the catastrophe that they later claimed they couldn't have prepped for.

Lies and the Lying Liars


NEW YORK Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, told the Times-Picayune Sunday afternoon that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi--and were advised of the storm’s potential deadly effects.

"Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings," the paper reported. "He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.

"We were briefing them way before landfall," Mayfield said. "It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped."

Chertoff told reporters Saturday that government officials had not expected the damaging combination of a powerful hurricane levee breaches that flooded New Orleans.

Open Thread

Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it. --Horace Mann

Local Help

Cheap, easy, and fun. A reader writes in:

I'm a regular reader of your blog and a frequent visitor to Philly. I saw a production in the Fringe festival yesterday by a company called Egopo Productions--- they are from New Orleans and everyone involved in the show is now homeless and virtually destitute.

I wonder if you could perhaps post a notice on your blog urging any Philadelphia readers to support this company by going to their show. It's a great little production of an interesting play: Maids X 2 is two different versions of Genet's The Maids, back to back. They offer a 45 minute intermission with a dinner break: jambalaya, no less, with New Orleans beer.

It's a small thing, to be sure, but if any of your readers are lovers of the arts, this is one way that they can help some flood victims who are struggling to go and do their art in the face of what has to be absolute heartbreak. I think these folks are still in shock, but the show is going on all the same at International House in Philadelphia through Sept. 17. Showtime 7 p.m. So please, if you can, invite your readers to think about taking in this show. It's a great little piece and a bargain at $15 (includes the beer). Check for more information.


Just when I think the New York Times can't get any worse:

The new vacancy is likely to mobilize lobbying groups around heated political and social issues, like abortion, and may prompt Democrats to urge the president not to pick a far-right conservative for the court. But given Mr. Bush's history of acting boldly when he is under pressure, as he is now with the war and Gulf Coast disaster, the Democrats will not be surprised if Mr. Bush picks someone not to their liking.

(thanks to reader b)

When The Levee Broke

36 hours before Chertoff realized.

Broussard Video

Watch here.

Open Thread

Quick! To the threadmobile!

Open Thread

Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it. --Horace Mann


Jefferson Parish President. On Timmeh:

Sir, they were told like me. Every single day. The cavalry is coming. On the federal level. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves and were almost a week out.

Three quick examples. We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. Fema turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. 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 way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, fema comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards said no one is getting near these lines.


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. And she drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For god's sakes, just shut up and send us somebody.

Open Letter to the President

From the Times-Picayune:

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.

(via E&P)