Saturday, September 10, 2005

Howard Dean on Ed Schultz, 9/08

Howard Dean was on the Ed Schultz radio show on Thursday, September 8. Under audio highlights, I was able to listen to that interview today. You might want to check out some of the other interviews that are available through that page, such as interviews with Joe Wilson, Cindy Sheehan, and Paul Hackett. During the interview with Howard Dean (transcribed below) there are references to what Ed is doing himself to help the evacuees. Check out his home page for the details about that.

Ed: Let's go right off the top today to Howard Dean, the governor, and also the head of the DNC. Mr. Dean, always a pleasure.

Howard: Ed--thanks! Listen, thank you for what you're doing. I have to say, the story about Brittany enrolling in North Dakota State was a lot more exciting than politicians fighting among each other, and I think that's fantastic. Although I come from Vermont which is almost as cold as North Dakota in the winter, and I can't wait for those folks from Mississippi to figure out what it's like in January.

Ed: Howard, they did ask about the weather, I have to tell you! (laughs)

Howard: Just tell them after the first winter it gets better. They're going to like the small town atmosphere.

Ed: Absolutely, absolutely--

Howard: Mind you, North Dakota State's got a fantastic hockey team I regretfully say as one of your victims at the University of Vermont.

Ed: (laughs) Well, I told them hockey is a great sport. I couldn't fib about the weather, though. It gets a little chilly.

Well, there's a lot going on surrounding this horrible disaster. And first of all, being the former governor of Vermont, and now head of the DNC, I want to ask you about FEMA. And I know that you don't have hurricanes up in Vermont when you were governor or anything like that. But what can you tell us, and what's your take on this organization and their response or lack of, as this whole thing has unfolded?

Howard: Well, I'm going to say this as a former governor not as a Democrat, because it's the truth. I presided over nine emergency declarations. We're a mountainous state as you know, and we're cold, but when it rains a lot, the rain all funnels down in these narrow valleys, and we get big floods. And, I had nine flood emergencies when I was governor. The only time FEMA's ever been worth anything was when James Lee Whitt ran it, under Bill Clinton. FEMA was not so great under George Bush's father, and of course this guy is totally incompetent. And his deputies are incompetent. One of them is the former advance guy for the campaign, another is a former press guy. This guy is a former horse association executive director. This is ridiculous--he got his job because he was somebody's roommate in college. This is not the way to run anything. It doesn't surpise me much.

But FEMA matters a lot. Clinton *got it*. Clinton understood that the most important intergovernmental agency in the country is FEMA, because, when you need their help, you *really* need their help, and you need their help immediately. And when James Lee Whitt was running FEMA--who I'm happy to say was hired by Governor Blanco to try to straighten this mess out--they really knew what they were doing. They were just like having a precision team coming into your state, they set up places, they got people straightened out in terms of their housing and immediate help. They could tell you exactly who could be reimbursed and who couldn't and how it could be done. It was a great organization. It would be great if we could put that back together again.

Ed: Governor, when can we start asking some tough questions. I mean, the conservatives are over there saying, "Well, they're playing the blame game--they're trying to do the finger pointing" and all this kind of stuff. The fact is that this isn't going to be the last disaster. And by the way, we still have more hurricanes that are probably going to come up in the next several months. So I guess my feeling is that there's no time like the present. But the point being here is, do you think getting rid of Mike Brown right now would make it better tomorrow?

Howard: I do think it would. I do think that getting rid of the leadership in FEMA--there's a couple things that have to be done. First of all, we have to keep the focus on the victims, and not on the bureaucratic bungling that's going on in this Republican administration. And immediatlely we've got to do things like--people like you. I mean, what you did, and your web site--I mean it's not just you, there are people all over the country that are doing things. Well, here's what I think the federal response should be. First of all, we need to recognize that these people need health insurance and most of them have lost theirs, if they had it in the first place. So we've gotta get them health insurance.

Secondly, we need to make sure they can rebuild when the time comes. And that means we've got to suspend this ridiculous bankruptcy bill that was passed a little less than a year ago. That starts on October 17th. None of these folks is going to get a fresh start if that bankruptcy bill is not suspended for a year or so.

Thirdly, we need--look, the first response of the Republican leadership in the senate was to take up the estate tax cut, which benefits 3000 American families--the wealthiest families in America. If there's $750 billion in loose change floating around in the budget, that needs to be spent on reinvesting in America. Nobody's invested in urban America in a long time--nobody's invested in *rural* America for a long time--

Ed: You've got that right.

Howard: --it's the suburbs that get everything, because that's who puts the Republicans in power. That's not smart and it's not good for America. And now we see what happens when you pursue that kind of a policy.

But I do think we want to take just a moment to thank the people all over the country for putting folks up, bringing them into their own districts--I think we ought to pay $2500 to every single school district on a per child basis. This is rolling--if you have 25,000 new students enrolled in your district and you're in Houston, you know, you can't expect the Houston taxpayers to pick up the tab for that. They need some help from the federal government.

Ed: That's a great point, because there are a lot of communities that are strapped financially right now because of No Child Left Behind, and they want to do the human and compassionate thing and bring these people into their communities, but the federal help could really come along if a check came with it. And I think that's really--that's a great idea!

Howard: We need to do that, because local communities--in the state of Texas, they're bearing the brunt. I think they've got a couple of hundred thousand evacuees, and those people are going to need to be in Texas for a while. And we need to help Texas with that financially. And of course every state--virtually every state in the country is taking people, but it's particularly concentrated in Texas--and Arkansas and Tennessee, and they need some help as well.

Then I think we need to look around and start firing people and I'll be honest with you--it's my job description to say the first person who ought to be fired is the person who made these hiring decisions, and that's the president. But we'll get around to that in 2008.

Ed: Well, let me ask you about that. In the midterms, do you think this hurricane will be an issue.

Howard: I think competence in general in the government is going to be an issue. I think they were in trouble to begin with--

Ed: Because I think Americans think that the government failed them. That's the feeling that I get--I was down at Gulfport, Mississippi. On Labor Day we were down there, and I can tell you there's a lot of unhappy people.

Howard: Well, our government did fail us, and we're not used to having our government fail us in this massive a strategy. They've failed us before. They got us into Iraq without telling us the truth. The economy has been great if you're in the top 20% of Americans, but most middle class saw their income decrease by about $1700 in the last five years. This is not an administration that's very good at anything they do, and we've just got to step up to the plate and do better. And I must just say, that it's not enough just to put the Democrats back in power. I don't want the same old Democratic party that sat around on its butt and thought that if it was like the Republicans it might win an election once in a while. We've got to have real change in this country.

Ed: Mm-hmm. No question about it. Governor, great to have you on the program.

Howard: Hey, thanks Ed.

Ed: Appreciate your time--we'll visit again. Howard Dean with us, head of the DNC and former governor of Vermont. Glad to have him on the program. Great guy, and, I tell you, he's telling it like it is, and there's no time like the present. Because there *will be* more disasters. What about the next one? Is the next one going to be handled like this? You know? And all of a sudden, Americans, what are we supposed to be isolated from political talk surrounding this disaster? I mean, are we so naive all of a sudden that we can't question authority or we can't question what people were supposed to do? Every conservative in this country is trying to blame everything they possibly can on Louisiana people! It's all their fault! We had on the program yesterday, Larry Johnson was documenting for us that, again and again, they knew this hurricane was coming, the disaster was called for two days before it hit, but the light bulb just didn't go on. It didn't go on with Cheney until today! He's *finally* down there, at the request of the president.

Katrina: 'Fun'

Greg Greene posted at 5:12 p.m.
Katrina: 'Fun'

Now tell me the truth, boys: is this kind of fun?

— House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex),
speaking to three young hurricane survivors at the AstroDome
DomeBlog, Sept. 9, 2005

Click for more.

Paul Allen's Other Yacht

This morning's entry on Blog for America is Paul Allen's Other Yacht by Paul Loeb. I recognize Paul's name from several excellent articles by him that I have read--especially The Impossible Will Take a Little While: Hope in a Time of Fear, which was written right after the insanely disappointing 2004 election.

Here is a bit of today's entry on Blog for America:

In the wake of the New Orleans disaster, I thought of an article I read about Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's other yacht. The 300-foot Tatoosh carries a 30-person crew, two helicopters, a swimming pool, a spa, a private movie theater, six other surface boats (including a separate 54-foot racing yacht and two Hobie catamarans) and a submarine. Reading about the Tatoosh and a third yacht just slightly smaller made me wonder about Allen's yacht of choice. Did it have two swimming pools? Four helicopters? Twelve other on-board boats? And what was Allen doing with two yachts, when he could only ride on one at a time?

Read the rest here.

Various quick comments before I head out--check out Demetrius' shadow blog version of the Cheers theme in the comments here, Howard Dean's interview with Wolf Blitzer here, and continued discussions about "the race card" here and here.

UPDATE: Since we've got a grand total of zero comments here, I'm going to go ahead and add to this entry rather than starting a new one. I thought people might like to check out this Kos diary with more details about President Al Gore's rescue efforts:

AP reports it: Gore airlifted 270 patients and residents Saturday/Sunday

Al Gore helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president's son.

Usher publicly distances himself from Kanye West's remarks

"I wasn't mad at Kanye's statement - that's his opinion - but it's obviously not the opportunity or the time to poke fun or appoint blame.

"This is an opportunity where we all need to come together - musicians, actors, politicians - and help the (American) Gulf region."

The kid's got a future in politics, don't you think?

Some links that may be useful...the first comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Resources to Help Cope with Natural and Other Disasters

And the second is the American Psychological Association's page about Natural Disasters.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Deck of race cards?

Comment by Paul Rosenberg:

Okay, Let's Play! Look, why not take this stupid meme, and shove it down their throats?

I'm thinking something like this:

I'm serious, folks. Let's put our heads together and come up with a full pack.

Howard Dean on The Situation Room

First, a message courtesy of Phil from Iowa, whose son is attending college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has volunteered to help get donations of personal items to the Katrina evacuees in his area.

send small packages of personal items to

Box 20065
Baton Rogue,70893

label the outside to help with sorting at the distribution center on campus

Please use the US Postal Service as they are coming on campus each day with less than full straight truck and this will direct aid right into a neighborhood where it is needed.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons have flooded Baton Rogue.

Once I find out what sort of personal items we're talking about, I will update. Also, if you have any questions about details, I'm sure my answer is "I don't know", but I can pass the questions along to Phil. Now for Howard Dean's interview with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room...
Wolf Blitzer: Many Democrats have been quick to pounce on the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, with some suggesting relief might have come more quickly if so many victims had not been Black and poor. Democratic party Chairman Howard Dean jumped into that debate earlier this week, urging Americans to face what he called some ugly truth. I spoke with the former Vermont governer just a short while ago.

Let's get to some comments you made Wednesday night. I'm gonna play a sound bite--an excerpt--of what you said and then get your explanation. Listen to this:

Howard (Tape): Survivors are being evacuated, and as order is restored and the water recedes and we sort through the rubble, we must also begin to come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not.

Howard: I meant the same thing that Colin Powell did when he talked about this issue. I like to try to look for some good in every horrible tragedy. This give us an opportunity to look at an issue that's been swept under the rug for the last 20 or 30 years since the civil rights movement And that is that if you are poor, if you are Black, and if you are old, you disproportionately suffered in this disaster. And that means that we need to have a national discussion, which a lot of people have been talking about but nobody's really led us on.

Wolf: Asks if Howard believes there were racist or racial overtones in the response of the federal government to this disaster.

Howard: No, I don't think so. What I do think, however, is that the way our society has worked in the last 20 years--well, actually a lot longer than that--but in the last 20 years when nobody's been talking about it, is in fact that those below the top 20% in America, White, Black, and Brown, have been significantly disadvantaged. The average income in this country went down $1700 since George Bush has been president, for everybody under the top 20%. There is something the matter with a country that doesn't want to talk about what's good for 80% of the people and focusses on what's great for 20% of the people.

Wolf: Some critics of the president, Kanye West the rap artist for example, have accused him of being a racist. I want you to listen to what the First Lady, Laura Bush said last night. Listen to this:

Tape: I think all those remarks were disgusting to be perfectly frank, because of course President Bush cares about everyone in our country and I know that. I mean, I am the person who lives with him. I know what he's like and I know what he thinks and I know how he cares about people." (American Urban Radio Network)

Wolf: Do you agree with the First Lady?

Howard: No. I do not think that this president cares about everybody in America. I'm sure the president's a nice man on a personal level. His policies have been devastating to middle class and poor people in this country--White, Black, and Brown. The people who were affected in this disaster, the people who were holed up in the Astrodome--look at the kinds of things that have been said about them. Look at what the Republican representative from Louisiana said this morning in the Wall Street Journal, that finally God has cleaned up the public housing in New Orleans.

It's not enough to be a nice guy. I'm not disputing the fact that the president's a nice man, and is maybe even compassionate in his personal life. The truth is that Americans have suffered deeply under this presidency--80% of Americans--and that Black people, Hispanic people, poor people, and old people have suffered disproportionately.

Wolf says Howard Dean can't blame the president for what some Republican congressman says.

Howard: I think there's an indifference in the Republican party towards people who aren't at the very top of the income level. Their whole tax policy has shown that--how about this: Bill Frist, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, his first thing he wanted to do when he got back after Hurricane Katrina struck, is extend the estate tax exemption. Seven hundred and fifty billion dollars. I think it's time for moral decision making in America. Let's ask the American people, if the Republicans believe there's $750 billion of extra change lying around, do you want that to go to 3000 families who are going to benefit from additional reduction in the estate tax, or shall we invest that in rebuilding, not just New Orleans, not just Mississippi. But school systems in Chicago, jobs for North Dakota and South Dakota. The life of middle class people has suffered enormously in the last five years because there were wrong moral decisions made .

Wolf says Howard has made a very serious charge against the president, that he doesn't care about everyone in this country.

Howard: I believe that's true, 'cause look at his policies. It doesn't matter what they say, it matters what they do. Americans have suffered under this presidency. Eighty percent of them--their income has gone down, on average, $1700.
I don't think the president personally did a horrible job. The president didn't seem to be informed. I think he had incompetent people working for him. You know, Michael Brown has become a national joke. Apparently according to Time Magazine this morning, he's falsified his credentials to get the job--the president still won't fire him. What is it about this president, who has people like Karl Rove, who gave away the identity of CIA agent in a time of war, who has people like Michael Brown working for him, that he won't fire them. These people ought not be working for anybody, never mind the government of the United States of America.

Wolf: Asks how much responsibility the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and the Democratic mayor of New Orleans should have for what happened to those poor people.

Howard: Wolf, as you know, I was governor for almost 12 years. I think we had seven or nine emergencies during that time--states of emergency--under three presidents. And I can tell you that what you need when there's an emergency is the National Guard. The National Guard was in Iraq.

Wolf interjects that a third of them, from Louisiana, approximately, was in Iraq.

Howard: And the equipment was in Iraq.

Wolf: at least a thousand school buses in New Orleans--why were none of them mobilized?

Howard: You're holding the mayor to a different standard than you're holding FEMA--this is Republican spin machine stuff.

Wolf says there are plenty of screw-ups to go around, both the Republican administration and the elected Democrats.

Howard: Everybody screwed up in terms of getting the prepositioning stuff. *Nobody* did that--not the federal government, not the state government, not the local government. The job of FEMA is to come in after the fact immediately. When you have the head of FEMA talking on national television saying they had no idear people were in the convention center after it had been broadcast on your station 24 hours earlier, that is a problem. When you have people in the emergency management business saying that people are getting two hot meals a day in the Superdome, that is a big problem, because those were *lies*

Wolf: Again, starts harping on other screwups in the days leading up to the hurricane and flooding and hindsight is 20/20 yadda, yadda, yadda

Howard: What I'm saying is that everyone could have done a better job ahead of time including the last 3 or 4 presidents who didn't put money into the levees. After the fact however, it was very clear what everybody's job was, and there was one group of people who didn't do their job.

Wolf: Let's talk a little bit about a comment you made

Quote: In the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, we have a clear moral responsibility to do a better job of ensuring social and economic justice for every American, and there is still far too much that we don't know about John Roberts' records and beliefs on these critical issues.

You're making a connection between Katrina and the confirmation hearings of John Roberts which begin on Monday and I'm not exactly sure what you're point is.

Howard: My point is that John Roberts has a record. John Roberts appears to be a wonderful, decent family person, but again, we get back to the question of whether you really care and whether you really have compassion. It's not enough to say you care--it's what you've done. John Roberts entire career has been about taking away every protection for young girls and women who want to participate in sports, for African Americans and Hispanics who want the same right to vote as everyone else, for women who believe they should determine what kind of healthcare they have instead of having politicians do it. His entire legal career appears to be about making sure those folks don't have the same rights everybody else does. That's probably not the right thing to do, two weeks after a disaster, where certain members of society clearly did not have the same protections that everybody else did because of their circumstances. Americans are fair people and they want a sense of justice. I know Judge Roberts loves the law--I'm not sure he loves the American people.

Wolf: So should the Senate reject his confirmation?

Howard: Based on what I know now, absolutely yes.

"The race card" and other nonsense accusations

Crossposted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and MyDD.

Holy talking, points, Batman, do I ever hate that expression! Ask any real questions about racial disparity, most recently in one's chances of getting out of the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast region alive, and you are accused of "playing the race card". The phrase is supposed to function as a complete conversation ender. One is apparently supposed to stop dead in one's tracks upon hearing those words, and not utter another word on the subject. "Oh, no! I've been accused of 'playing the race card'. I'd better stop right now before Rush Limbaugh gets on the air and starts saying mean things about me!" Like "playing the blame game". What is it with these people insisting on using such "playful" language to address something that is so deadly serious. At least the press is beginning to call talking points for what they are.

McClellan: We can engage in this blame-gaming going on and I think that's what you're getting —

Q: No, no. That's a talking point, Scott. […]

Q: Is he confident…that he can secure the American people in the event of a major terrorist attack?

McClellan: We are securing the American people by staying on the offensive abroad and working to spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

Q: That's a talking point. That's a talking point.

Tell it, Q, whoever you are. And everyone else watching this should take note. You are not obligated to play by the rules of this Karl Rove-created game of pretend. Trying to dismiss calls for accountability, and the demand for an independent investigation of the Bush administration's failure to protect Americans in the event of a catastrophe which, by Bush's own admission, is bigger than 9/11, by using the words "blame game" is absolutely contemptible. It should be challenged, forcefully, whenever someone attempts it.

The same goes for people who accuse you of "playing the race card" when you make honest observations like Howard Dean did the other day at the National Baptist Convention. That expression is so maddening, I've been at a loss in figuring out how to respond to it. I asked Oscar, and he suggested:
Nonetheless, when someone pulls the race card card simply ask them if America is totally free of racism. Ask them if racism has to be overt, i.e. hurling the n-word at someone, in order for it to be racism. Ask them if a fundamental disconnect with people who are not like themselves can lead them to think of those others as something less than themselves. And then ask them if White Supremacy is limited to rednecks in sheets. If they answer any of those questions incorrectly then point them to the proper resources and tell them to go get a clue - in a kinder, gentler tone, of course. :-)

I guess the tricky part is that, even people who don't have an obvious *political* agenda, still have a real emotional and identity investment in thinking of America in a certain way. We'd like to think of the United States as the land of opportunity, where it doesn't matter who your parents are--any kid can grow up to be president. It's not too comfy to think that real racism and racial disparity still exist...especially if that involves recognizing it in yourself.

Most people in America know that racism is bad and that behaving in an overtly racist manner is frowned upon. So now we see more "symbolic racism", which is not nearly as easy to call when you see it:
As a social phenomenon, racism is multifaceted and its manifestations are constantly changing. It can vary in its expression from institutionalized racism to symbolic racism. Historically, institutionalized racism was maintained by legal barriers that barred children of color from access to certain institutions. Now, society overall increasingly supports the principle of ethnic or racial equality, but often a set of moral abstractions and attitudinal predispositions are still maintained concerning how children of color ought to behave and what they deserve. Thus, symbolic racism persists—that is, the unspoken, covert, differential treatment of members of minority groups by members of the mainstream culture.16 Such symbolic racism is likely to take the form of providing fewer resources to institutions serving children of color and children of immigrants, and subjecting them to patronizing attitudes. These subtle manifestations of racism can permeate the daily interactions between these outsider children and those of the dominant culture.

The problem, of course, with "subtle manifestations", is that they are not obvious to every observer. They can easily be attributed to other causes, and those with the discernment necessary to see that *those* causes are related to race, can be dismissed as paranoid, conspiracy theorists, "too sensitive"--take your pick.

The visual images in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have been hard to deny, though. They are anything but subtle...

So many photographs from the devastation of New Orleans show the same faces: Desperate. Grief-stricken. Black.

Those words come from an article in Atlanta Daily World, Black U.S. Lawmakers Angry About Federal Response To Hurricane. The same article addresses the more subtle way that race may affect reporting on the hurricane aftermath. Rep. Diane Watson and others address the significance of our choice of words:
Watson and others also took issue with the word ``refugee'' being used to describe hurricane victims.

"Refugee' calls up to mind people that come from different lands and have to be taken care of. These are American citizens," Watson said.

Added Rep. Elijah Cummings: "They are not refugees. I hate that word."

Afri-Netizen expounds on the significance of using the word "refugee"...
It appears that only my more mature readers have understood that my beef with "refugee" is that it deflects from these largely poor and Black victims' American-ness by focusing on their Otherness, a common device in a race-obsessed society where non-whites -- and Blackfolk in particular -- are demeaned and devalued not just physically, emotionally, culturally and economically -- but linguistically.

C'mon, folks. Don't lecture me about the Webster's definition of the term refugee. Don't insult the intelligence of millions us (of all backgrounds) who can read between the lines here and try to dismiss us as crackpot conspiracy-theorists or what-not simply because you're uncomfortable when someone "injects" race into what you would like to think transcends race or is what I've heard alluded to (amidst unicorns and leprechauns) as "color-blindness".

In other words, don't relegate yourself to becoming a refugee from reality -- a reality in which we acknowledge the racial megalomania that has deluged our country since its birth and the concomittant impact its had on what and how we think, say and do -- consciously or not.

Words mean something. And they often mean much more than their precise dictionary definition. They "suggest" or "evoke" certain imagery and feelings. Like the way apologists for the Bush administration refer to "the blame game" and "playing the race card"--they are being intentionally dismissive when they use those words, and we can't allow them to get away with it. We are not "playing", but talking, asking questions, investigating, and (I hope) eventually taking action. And we're quite serious about this.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

That depends on who you are.

1) In his infinite wisdom, which we are not supposed to question, the Potemkin President has suspended the prevailing wage rule in areas that are most in need of good jobs:

President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

This did not go unchallenged by two of organized labor's biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

[The Davis-Bacon law requires federal contractors to pay workers at least the prevailing wages in the area where the work is conducted. It applies to federally funded construction projects such as highways and bridges.]

This Kos diary has a link to the prevailing wage scale by job description and by county/parish in Louisiana. Nothing like jerking around people who are looking for jobs to try and get back on their feet after losing everything in the hurricane. I bet Bush's corporate contributors are giving a hearty cheer.

2) Rep. Richard Baker finds his Christian side: "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. (Source: The Stakeholder)

Susanhu at Booman Tribune has the low-down on Rep. Baker's interst in public housing.

3) 11 Republicans voted against the $51 billion package ( H. R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Oliver Willis reports. One was Tom Tancredo (R-CO). One of Tancredo's constitutents observed, "Seems he thought the government of New Orleans was just too corrupt to be trusted with money, so he’d prefer to have somebody else dole it out like an allowance to a third-grader. " May-be.

4) The RWNM has found a silver lining; there's a new e-mail making the rounds which says New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco refused President Bush's pleas to declare an emergency in Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina struck. The message is supposedly based on "a post from a fellow over in Merritt Is, FL, a reporter who's been researching what went on before the storm hit." Fortunately, is on top of this and the other Hurricane Katrina urban legends that have arisen.

5) Bush advisor Karen Hughes has a new job as under-secretary for good manners to improve America's image abroad. She's in charge of making sure everyone knows which silverware to use, sits with their ankles crossed, holds their pinkies out when drinking tea, and other important things to remind the rest of the world that we're not imperialistic warmongers. (Yes, she really does have this job and no, I have no idea what the correct title is.) Her first act today was to declare that looters in Louisiana are hurting America's image.

[UPDATE] Her real title is the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, where her job is to improve America's global image. As one Kossack observed, "The George W. Bush theft prevention program. PR it to death and it will go away. "

Is there a silver lining for Democrats? How about "Bush approval rate hits 39%"? (AP/Ipsos)

[UPDATE] Here's a silver lining for Dean Democrats: Today at 4:15 p.m. ET, Howard will appear on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Make sure you tune in! I will be en route to pick up the boys from daycare. Can someone put together a summary of what Howard says? Thanks!

Remember, IOKIYAR.


Looks like we may have a fall guy over the hurricane. And the winner (wiener?) is....FEMA Head Michael Brown! Time Magazine has written up an investigation of Brownie's credentials and found them seriously lacking. Will our hero be rescued yet again by his old college roomie, Joe Allbaugh? Will the Potemkin President demonstrate yet again that the party trumps everything and not fire him?

And please check out this photo over at Eschaton. If you like "The Office" (BBC version) you'll appreciate it.

The Fly Trap, which is the blog of The Gadflyer, asks an interesting question:

Is Mayor Ray Nagin a Democrat or a Republican?

Before his election, Nagin was a member of the Republican Party and had little political experience; he was a vice president and general manager at Cox Communications, a cable communications company and subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Nagin did give donations periodically to candidates, namely President George W. Bush and former Republican U.S. Representative Billy Tauzin in 1999 and 2000, as well as to Democratic U.S. Senators John Breaux and J. Bennett Johnston earlier in the decade.


Days before filing for the New Orleans Mayoral race in February 2002, Nagin switched his party registration to the Democratic Party....

Shortly after taking office, Nagin launched an anti-corruption campaign within city government, which included crackdowns on the city's Taxicab Bureau and Utilities Department. Nagin also made a controversial endorsement of current Republican U.S. Representative Bobby Jindal in the 2003 Louisiana Gubernatorial Runoff over current Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, and only reluctantly endorsed U.S. Senator John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential race.

Verrry interesting.

Here's a guy who left a $400,000 job to run for Mayor of New Orleans, which pays about 1/4th of that. He switches parties but continues to support Republicans and gave to B-C in 2000. As the story asks, Are the Republicans sure they want to go after this guy?

Scott Shields over at MyDD reminds us that it's not just New Orleans that's been affected and when Biloxi and Gulfport were hit by Katrina, DHS and FEMA were AWOL too. "Media attention is mostly trained on New Orleans so that's where the administration's efforts are focused. For Bush, the response to Katrina is less about saving lives than saving face. But don't take my word for it. Lynne Lofton of Gulfport, Mississippi was quite critical of the recent trip by VP Cheney and AG Gonzales to her hometown."

Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, David Sirota says that the GOP has unveiled its slogan for the 2006 election cycle. It's crisp, clear, and tells us everything we already knew about today's GOP, David says.

Josh Marshall at has a link to the grueling 42 minute confirmation hearing then-chairman Joe Lieberman put Michael Brown through when he was appointed Deputy Director of FEMA in 2002.

And some additional news you might not have heard: Maura Keaney, Democracy for Virginia founder and Executive Director, has moved to Connecticut to take a job closer to her family. I know many of us first met Maura during the Dean for America days and got to know her through the blog. She was a great contributor and did a lot to get DfVA off the ground. She will be missed but I hope we hear from her soon!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Flash: FEMA Employees Union blames Bush

I just dropped by to see what was going on and wanted to update some of the news here.

Well, the orgy of blame continues with the FEMA Employees Union saying "It wasn't us." Specifically, it's Leo Bosner, president of the FEMA Headquarters Employees Union, who is doing the talking. Bosner's been with FEMA since the very beginning 26 years ago. He says the agency has been systematically dismantled since it became part of the massive Department of Homeland Security.

One of the big differences I see," said Bosner, "besides taking away our staff and our budget and our training, is that Homeland Security now, in my view, slows down the process."

The union warned Congress in a detailed letter about FEMA's decline a year ago. State emergency managers also warned Capitol Hill and Homeland Security just weeks ago that DHS was too focused on one thing -- terrorism. "

From AMERICABlog by way of DailyKos:

Embattled FEMA head Mike Brown insists he is well-qualified to lead the nation's disaster response agency - though he spent his time before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency probing whether a breeder was performing liposuction on a horse's rear end.

Some days the snark just writes itself, doesn't it?

From the "fox guarding the henhouse" files, Josh Marshall over at reports that "$50 billion of those recovery and reconstruction funds passed by Congress today are going to"--wait for it--"FEMA. FEMA is going to administer those funds. That is just friggin' crazy."

Says Marshall: "Even if FEMA were still a model government agency, as it was by most accounts in the 1990s, this would still be a really, really bad decision. As the title says, FEMA is an emergency management agency, not a reconstruction agency. It doesn't have the organizational structure or competence to run the economy of a significant chunk of the United States for the foreseeable future, which is what this amounts to. "

His conclusion: "This is a fiscal disaster waiting to happen, a truly terrible idea."

I know Howard has no control over the DCCC or the DSCC but he really needs to give Chuck Schumer a call and tell him to cut it out. Check out this New York Newsday headline, courtesy of

Democrats' anti-Bush petition also seeks political contributions

WASHINGTON -- A new Democratic effort to whip up indignation about the Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina also tried to raise money for Democratic candidates. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued an appeal Thursday urging people to sign an online petition to fire the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency over his handling of the Katrina response. After an inquiry from the Associated Press, the DSCC quickly pulled down the page and said they would donate to charity any money raised by the anti-FEMA petition. When recipients clicked on a link to the petition, the top center of the screen _ above the call to "Fire the FEMA director" _ had asked for a donation to the DSCC.

And Fafblog! has some good advice for us all so we won't have to wait for FEMA to swing into action when Hurricane Ophelia makes land. (Thanks to Atrios for the Fafblog! link)

Thursday News Roundup

Tara posted the Thursday News Roundup at Blog for America at 5:17 p.m., and it includes these headlines:
DeLay PAC Indicted
Dean on Katrina Aftermath
25,000 Body Bags Arrive

Click here to read.

Demetrius is still working on the roof, so I went to the Bring Them Home Now Tour potluck with our daughter but didn't stay for the speakers. One of the people at our table was a man named Vince who was with the tour. Cindy was not there tonight--there are three different tour routes and she is trying to make some of the stops with each of them. Vince, who I think said was with Veterans for Peace had been down at Camp Casey, originally planning to stay there for a week, but he and others kept extending their time. Then when this tour started, he decided to join it. He said, "I can't think of anything more important I could be doing right now." He's from West Virginia, and was inspired to go to Camp Casey when he saw the way Cindy was being attacked, and he felt it was important to go and support her.

I brought a handful of cards with me, with my name, email address, the addresses of my blogs, and passed them out so that if anyone who did stay for the speakers wants to write up a report, they can send it to me and I can post it.

After we ate, I took my daughter to find a restroom, and while we were out of the room, the people sitting at our table spread the word that it was her birthday. So she was surprised to have the whole room sing "Happy Birthday" to her when we came back.

I came home to find a link to this Flash animation in my mail, courtesy of someone from our local interfaith peace group:
Four candles

Dean: 'We need to make moral choices'

The DNC blog has excerpts of Howard Dean's speech to the Baptist National Convention in Miami on Wednesday, September 7:

Dean: 'We need to make moral choices'

This is a critical moment in our nation's history and we have a shared responsibility to move our country forward and learn from the mistakes made and be truthful with ourselves about how and why this happened and what we must do going forward to rebuild America.

Because we will ultimately be judged by how we react in times of trouble and how we care for the least among us.

I want to talk to you not as the Chairman of the Democratic Party, but as an American. Last week, we witnessed tremendous acts of courage and heroism, of people coming together, opening their hearts to one another trying to reach out and help one another. That was America at its best.

But that's not all we saw. We saw people desperately trying to survive in conditions we could not imagine in an American city.

As survivors are evacuated, order is restored, the water slowly begins to recede, and we sort through the rubble, we must also begin to come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not.

And the question that emerged: how can this happen in America?

The truth is, what we saw on the television in New Orleans exists here in Miami, and in every part of our country, every day. Because people are poor throughout our country. They are old. They are young. They are black, white, and brown. They are not refugees. They are our fellow Americans.

The truth is that we have ignored the poor for far too long. And until it washed right up on our front doorsteps, we might have continued to ignore the reality that poverty has too many of our fellow Americans in its grip, and we have a shared moral responsibility not to ignore it anymore.

Click here for more.

We need answers: Sign the petition

Posted by Jim Dean at 3:18 p.m.

We need answers: Sign the petition

Americans want the truth. We cannot allow for the Republican leadership to investigate itself. And we cannot allow Congress to be distracted from the main task at hand—aiding the victims of this disaster and providing extensive recovery relief.

We need to find out what went wrong—and we need to find out the truth. But the only way to successfully achieve this is through an Independent Commission. Join me today:

Click here for the rest

From Democalypse blog:
Five New Indictments in DeLay Investigation

Kos diary by jaywillie: The Best Picture Ever

HELP! Urgent! FEMA says decision imminent for animal rescue by the gnostic

Right now the pets aren't being rescued by FEMA or the other regular rescue workers, only pet rescue groups... they are slowly starving to death!!!

I just got off the phone with FEMA in Washington and was told that a decision is upcoming in regards to evacuating pets with the holdouts.

Also as part of that decision will be whether FEMA orders rescue workers to rescue pets when they can.

Please PLEASE provide whatever polite urging that you can with this decision:

The Honorable Michael Brown
Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response
500 C St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20472
202-646-3930 (fax)

They say they will post their decision on their web-site.

If you're a Kos member and animal lover, please recommend this diary.

Finally, over at my blog, Sacred Space: Reflections from the religious left, I have posted an excerpt from Cindy Sheehan's most recent Kos diary: Peacemakers.

Dean speaks about Katrina, race

Thanks to floridagal and her diary at Booman Tribune, I can share with you some of what Howard Dean had to say at the National Baptist Convention today in Miami.

"Dean, in remarks interrupted several times by applause, charged that Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration have not done enough to combat poverty. The pictures of primarily black storm evacuees huddled at the dank Superdome and stranded on rooftops, Dean charged, showed "the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not."

"The question, 40 and 50 years after Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, is: `How could this still be happening in America?' " Dean said, later adding: "We have not swept poverty away in this nation. We have simply swept it under the rug."

floridagal included additional excerpts from the article in the Kansas City Star, including the comment that Howard Dean refused to take questions from reporters, saying that he was speaking today "not as chairman of the Democratic party, but as an American."

Yet he repeatedly sought to lay claim to the so-called "morals" issue that some pollsters suggested cost Democrats the presidency in 2000. Moral issues, the new Democratic chief said, should apply to poverty and universal health insurance - not abortion and gay marriage - two issues with which some conservative black clergy side with the GOP.

"The moral choices in America are not about hot-button social issues that get everybody mad," Dean said. "Moral choices are about making sure that folks don't drown at a nursing home before they can get evacuated."

Read the rest of floridagal's diary here, and recommend it if you're a Booman Tribune member.

Congress Opts for GOP Led Inquiry

Well swell. Just swell.

Washington Post: Separately, Republican leaders moved to try to contain the political fallout from Katrina, forming a joint House-Senate review committee of senior lawmakers who will investigate the government's preparation and initial response to the catastrophe. Democrats called again for an independent probe similar to the investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Where are the Jersey Girls when you need them? They were the catalyst behind the independent 9-11 probe. We need some Louisiana survivors to stand up and push for an independent probe.

New CBS Poll: 58% Disapprove of Bush's Handling of Katrina Crisis

Last week, in the two days immediately after Katrina made landfall, a majority of Americans said they approved of Bush's response, although more than a third were not sure. Now, only 38% approve.

(Courtesy of Armando at Kos)

Paging Emily Litella: The Boston Globe reports that Barbara Bush was making ''a personal observation" when she said poor people at a relocation center in Houston were faring better than before Hurricane Katrina struck.

Al Franken just reported that Congressmen Conyers & Nadler are introducing a bill this afternoon that would exempt victims of Hurricane Katrina from the bankruptcy reform bill requirements. He's urging people to call their congressmen to vote for it. I agree but I think it's just a bandaid--the whole bill should be repealed.

Who is Bob Williams and why is he saying all those things about Hurricane Katrina?

Happy B-day to Renee's daughter!

Katrina: 'Character'

This post went up last night, but I wasn't able to post it until now.

Katrina: 'Character' by Greg Greene. It's a quote from Frank Rich, and it's so short that I really can't excerpt it or I'd be posting the whole thing. So, to see what Frank Rich had to say about Bush and character, click.

And since the new thread went up at BFA just now, I'll go ahead and add that link to this post: The Lowest Bar by Larry Dudley, DFA-Link organizer in Glen Falls, NY.

Now that George W. Bush has nominated John Roberts for Chief Justice, let's take a look at the comparative qualifications of previous Chief Justices over the last century (click)

There is rain in the forecast today, and Demetrius has to get back up on the roof and finish it, or at least get it finished *enough* before that happens. We were both too tired to go out and get groceries last night, so I need to do a quick run to the store before he goes back up there. And it's our daughter's 10th birthday, so I need to pick up some things for her too. But before I go, I wanted to pass along something shadowdonna in evanston posted in the comments last night:

Anyway, for all you animal lovers out there, I contributed to the American Humane Association's disaster relief fund. There are actively working to rescue the pets separated from their families during the recent hurricane. They even have Snowball, the dog who was separated from his young owner who was forced to leave him behind. They are actively trying to find the little boy.

You can find their site here.

Do check out last night's comments if you haven't already--there was a nice little blog family reunion. Also, in the comments of *this* post, you can find a double dose of Oscar's cartoon roundup, since he didn't post any yesterday. (Given that I'm about to go shopping for my daughter's birthday *on* her birthday, I can't rag on him too hard for that!)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday News Roundup

Need to make this quick, but I see an influx of the critters that live in the basements of bridges over at Blog for America. So here's a new thread for anyone who wants it:

Wednesday News Roundup

$60 Billion More for Post-Hurricane Relief
Small Changes...
Same-Sex Marriage Approved in CA

Read the post here.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

The lunchtime post at Blog for America comes from both Tom Hughes and Monisha Sujan, and the latter says that she is "excited to be joining the DFA staff in Burlington, albeit under circumstances beyond my imagination."

You can find the post here: Every cloud has a silver lining.

We, as a community, have both the heart and hands, along with generous pockets, to launch DFA's hurricane relief effort, full of empathy. I also know we also have enormous creativity and that we can channel this creativity to do enormous good. Thus, I ask everyone to brainstorm ideas to help the hurricane affected regions and people.

Please submit your relief ideas to:

You can also check out the Veterans for Peace Hurricane Relief Page. They are in need of money, trained volunteers, and specific items, which will change from time to time. Click.

Notes From Inside New Orleans

This morning's post on Blog for America is a guest entry, Notes From Inside New Orleans written by Jordan Flaherty

In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway, thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would come through, it would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in one of the barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no information given about where the bus was going. Once inside (we were told) evacuees would be told where the bus was taking them—Baton Rouge, Houston, Arkansas, Dallas, or other locations.

Click here
for the rest.

In one of my posts last night, I linked to Terri in Tokyo's Kos diary, Low-income/People of Color-led/Grassroots Katrina Relief and encouraged any Kos members here to recommend it. This morning, I see that she has crossposted the diary at MyDD, so if you're a member, please click and recommend.

The Sparkplug Foundation (which supports projects primarily in three areas of focus: music, education and grassroots organizing) has a Katrina Relief page, which lists where to donate to organizations who are:

* Organizing at the grassroots level in New Orleans, Biloxi, Houston and other affected areas
* Providing immediate disaster relief to poor people and people of color
* Directed by, or accountable to, poor people and people of color
* Fostering the democratic inclusion of poor people and people of color in the
rebuilding process

Barbara Bush: It's Good Enough for the Poor

This story is originally from The Nation but appears in Yahoo news. It is my understanding that if you have a Yahoo account, you can help a story get to the front page by using the "rate this story" function, but also by emailing the story. You can always email the story to yourself if you don't want to clog someone else's email.

From Democratic Underground, We know what you did this summer by Nancy Greggs

In this past week of tragedy, anguish and death, Bush & Co. couldn't care less about the people who were living in hell. Well, that's no surprise to most of us. Been there, seen that. Just like they don't care about the soldiers they've sent to die in Iraq, or the innocent civilians there who have had their country turned upside down to the point of civil war. Just like they don't care about the millions of Americans they've forced into poverty, the people who have lost their jobs due to their policies.

So tell us something we didn't already know.

But this week, there was a more than obvious difference to their indifference. In a definite departure from the norm, they didn't even bother to fake it.

Click here for the rest.

CNN's Katrina Timeline Um, the title seems pretty self-explanatory. Just click.

Finally, I see that Corinne already beat me to the punch in posting about Bush's use of firefighters as props. It is just *so* typical of the photo-op president, and so appalling. I don't really have anything of substance to add as far as commentary, so I'll just leave you with this:

Morning News Potpourri

Sorry I couldn't come up with a better title. This one was at least better than Insert Title Here.

First up this morning is from the Boston Globe, which I wrote up as a Kos diary:

Miss. GOP muscle may get 1st shot at funding

WASHINGTON -- A triumvirate of Republican power brokers may give Mississippi first dibs in the post-Hurricane Katrina grab for federal disaster funds even though the US government focused its initial response on New Orleans.

The state's senior senator, Thad Cochran, is the new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the panel charged with determining how much and where the recovery money will be spent.

The California legislature hands Ah-Nuld a hot potato by becoming the first state in the nation to approve same-sex marriage. The Governator may veto the bill to let the courts sort it out. Guess he forgot the party line about letting legislatures, and not the courts, legislate.

And in Massachusetts, The two top lieutenants of state Senate President Robert E. Travaglini yesterday said they will vote against their boss's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and establish civil unions when the Legislature takes up the issue next week.

(Some trivia about me: Bobby Travaglini is my first cousin once removed. His mother and my grandmother were sisters. )

Josh Marshall at has a story about firefighters being used as props for the Preznit. He's right: You can't make this stuff up. I have a friend over in the UK and about a month ago, we had a back and forth over whose leader was worse. This morning, I IM-d him and said, well it's official. Our leader is worse.

Some first person accounts of the aftermath of Katrina are starting to surface. Here's one from Kos that will make you cry.

And to end this morning on a happier note, take a look at The moment Howard Dean became president. I still get goosebumps when I see "Dean" and "president" in the same sentence.

The Daily Show returns

I just about mourn when The Daily Show is on hiatus, so it was great to see it back with a new episode tonight. Before going to bed, I thought I should share this image, which someone at Americablog screen-captured from tonight's show...

Okay--*now* good night. I mean it...

Anybody want a peanut?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday Evening

This is a Kos diary by Terri, aka terrintokyo4dfa

Low-income/People of Color-led/Grassroots Katrina Relief

If you're a Daily Kos member, please recommend. Here's a comment Terri made after the diary:

I was hoping to rally the Kossacks to help, and, with that in mind, I'll keep posting this for the next few days, until maybe a frontpager takes it's very frustrating, as people are talking about the need for help for the poor and people of color on so many other threads, but here are direct ways to help...
Come on, people--this is Terri in Tokyo. She's come all the way from Japan, *twice* for DeanFest. This Terri in Tokyo:

So go ahead--recommend it already. Okay, maybe you're not a Kos can still crosspost her link on *another* blog or Dean Yahoo group, can't you?

A couple new posts have gone up at Blog for America:

Let's come together and get to work by Jim Dean...includes a link to DFA Link, which I have also added to the right side of the page here.

Tuesday News Roundup by Tara Liloia
Includes Dean's Take on Bush's Disaster, Rehnquist's Coffin Lies in Court, and The Disaster After the Disaster

Before I sign off for the night, I'd like to thank uinen, who just reintroduced herself in the comments as Catreona, for accepting my invitation to help with the care and feeding of this blog. The "comment spam" is a real PITA, but I've turned off word verification, so I definitely appreciate the additional help in zapping those nasty little fake comments.

Finally, links to the two radio spots I transcribed today. I'm not likely to do that sort of thing often, but since I went to the trouble, I'm bloody well going to repost these links. ;-)

Howard Dean on Randi Rhodes--partial transcript
Transcript of "Houston, we may have a problem"--the segment on The Marketplace on which Barbara Bush commented that "so many of the people in the arenas here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is--this is working very well for them."

Good night, everyone.

Howard Dean on Randi Rhodes

Thanks Corinne for alerting me to this interview. I didn't catch the beginning of it, but I'm going to transcribe the part I did get. I've *really* been wanting to hear from Howard Dean these days. I hunted down the press release with his comments about Bill Frist's timing and priorities with regard to pushing for a vote on ending the estate tax today (Frist did cancel that vote) but if I hadn't gone looking for it I certainly would have missed that statement from Howard.

Howard: The guy that got the job who's running FEMA was the former director's roommate.

Randi mentions the Bush administration bringing back cronyism into the vernacular

Howard: That's the way the Bush administration works. It's incompetence from the top to the bottom, and they just can't get out of their own way. And it's not just this, it's Iraq, it's the economy, it's everything else. So, I think Americans have to take things into their own hands. We can't rely on the Federal government as long as we've got these guys running the place. And what we've got to do is we've got to support the Red Cross, we've got to thank the corporations--I've had my big battles with Walmart, but I think what they did was terrific, which was send water.

Thank God somebody had the brains to know that if you have thirsty people and babies dying of dehydration, they probably ought to have water! And if Walmart recognized that, then I say hats off to Walmart.

So, a lot of people are pulling together. Look, America is not a bad country because our leadership is bad. America is a good country with good people in it and we just need better leaders.

Randi says she agrees, but what do we do, how do we change it? (rant deleted because I'm lazy)...What the hell newspaper is Michael Chertoff reading?

Howard: This is actually the most blatant the lying has ever been. For Michael Brown, the head of FEMA to sit and talk to a television person and tell him that they were getting two warm meals a day in the Superdome was just astonishing.

Randi notes that "He didn't even know that they were at the convention center!"

Howard: They don't watch CNN, I guess--

Randi Interrupts and says we should get them a TV and let them watch it in a prison cell.

Howard: I say let's just ignore them and lets do good things for the people that were hurt

Randi lists all of the ways that people who have been trying to help have been trying to do good things but have been thwarted by Bush's bureaucrats. Notes that from FEMA's own web site it says "First responders urged not to respond". "Why? Because they wanted it to be a Democrat governor and a Democrat mayor who looked bad, and all these people could just die. ... This was revenge for Ms. Blanco. This was revenge for having a red state in the hands of a blue governor and a red state city in the hands of a blue mayor. This is unacceptable--this is too much politics for anybody's blood."

Howard say "goodness" or something I couldn't quite catch and Randi continues with "I'm serious. And where do they send these people? They send them to Houston which by the way is going to have a big boom now. A big boom in business!

Howard: Well, you know Houston's run by a Democratic governor too.

Randi: Who, Rick Perry?

Howard: No--I'm sorry--a Democratic *mayor*. I'm sorry--Bill White is the mayor of Houston. Well, look, I'm not quite as much of a conspiracy theorist, but I do think--

(Randi interrupts with more awful FEMA stories--"I think FEMA stands for Failure to Effectively Manage Anything now!")

Howard: Well, isn't that kind of the story of the Bush administration?

Randi: Well, it is. So what are we going to do? When are we going to get around to impeachment? How many do we have who will sign up for an impeachment inquiry now?

Howard: I don't think you have any Republicans who are willing to do anything like that.

Randi: I think you've got five that want to look into Downing Street. Why not just include this too?

Howard: Well, here's what I think. First of all I think right now we need to find out the extent of the Bush administration's incompetence and failure, who lied. The people who lied should be fired, although we know the president doesn't have the backbone to do that because Karl Rove has been working on the taxpayers' salary for quite some time *after* he revealed the identity of a CIA agent in a time of war. So we know the president didn't keep any of his word about that.

But I do think that these people who lied on television ought to be fired. Secondly, all we can do is work to politically replace the people who are doing this to our country.

Randi says she wants to put the president and vice president in a situation where we swear them in and they are connected to a lie detector. Dean laughs. Randi says, no seriously, the last time we had a big flood in New Orleans, in 1969, when we didn't have the kind of response capability we do now, what did we lose--500 people? Now we've lost at least 10,000 people.

Howard: To be honest I think we have to focus differently. I think we can beat up on Bush as this hopeless, hapless person. But people need to start understanding that this government isn't interested in the American people. That we have to do for ourselves. I think we have to focus on the positive. There are some really good things going on--none of them have anything to do with the federal government--but I think a lot of good things...

Randi: That is so sad--I mean, I've been crying all weekend and I just don't know what to do--

Howard: Look, it's an international embarrassment, it's a national embarrassment, but if you build your administration based on things that aren't true, eventually it catches up with you. We've got the war, we've got this disaster, we've got the economy-- Before this happened to us, it was announced that the average income for most working people--about 80% of them--went down about $1700 in the years this president has been in office. So this is not an administration that's going to do much for most Americans. But from a political point of view it's my job to get rid of Republicans, and we will, but the truth is, this is a real urgent situation for a lot of people in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama, and I think we ought to focus on the positive things that one American can do for another, and leave the federal government out of it. Just try to get them out of our way so we can actually accomplish something.

We have for example 18 kids from the DNC who are going to go down Thursday after some training to help out. Now if every company in America did that, that would really make a difference in people's lives.

Randi: Howard, I gotta tell you something. (Goes into all the people who tried to help and none of it was allowed to be done. The President of Jefferson Parish said FEMA came in and cut off all of his communication lines. They are being proactive about this--

Howard: Is that true?

Randi:--which is murder. We have to stop this now. There are so many people who want to do so many things. Cindy Sheehan's group is in Covington, Kentucky collecting Enfamil, and they are not letting them in either. So unless we actually embarrass these Republicans, who now have to realize there's no coattails for the president--from the president--they will not go back to office in 2006 unless they actually start making some noise and start to sound like we do. And one of the things they can do is not confirm Mr. Roberts, because if the president has this kind of "clarity" in decision making, and he picked this guy Roberts, right there, that should disqualify him.

Howard: I don't think he should be confirmed, but for other reasons.

Randi: Well, that's good enough for me. He picked him, therefore we don't want him. And he *promotes* him during this weekend! He didn't even get the job yet and he's promoted to Chief Justice. What is that?

Howard: I don't know--I don't run the place. I tried--

Randi: I know you did. I wish you did. I really wish you did--I think there would be 9,999 people alive.

Howard: Well, I tell you one thing, we would have had help on the way long ago.

Randi: I know. Well, anything I can do, you let me know.

Howard: Thanks for having me on.

Randi: My pleasure.

Lunchtime reading

Note to MSM: That stiffness you feel in your back is called a spine. Try some Ben Gay until you get used to it.

Terry O'Neal at the Washington Post joins the chorus asking difficult questions, like "Why, throughout most of last week, was the most eloquent ambassador, and the only recognizable white face in New Orleans, the great and noted statesman . . . Harry Connick Jr.?"

AP: Bush to lead investigation into his own failure (cue laugh track)

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.

(Courtesy of

The New Yorker editorial in which the Bush of Elections Past is resurrected to show how miserably Bush has "failed in every respect."

"During the Presidential debates in 2000, George W. Bush informed his opponent, Al Gore, that natural catastrophes are “a time to test your mettle.” Bush had seen his father falter after a hurricane in South Florida. But now he has done far worse. Over five days last week, from the onset of the hurricane on the Gulf Coast on Monday morning to his belated visit to the region on Friday, Bush’s mettle was tested—and he failed in almost every respect."

(Courtesy of TheRawStory)

Even Pierce Brosnan took a shot at Bush. (Personally, I prefer Sean Connery but that's just me.)

In other news, the Senate will begin hearings on John Roberts next Monday.

If you're just settling down to lunch, bon appetit.

Dealing with "comment spam"

Before I forget, this morning's post by Tara Liloia over at Blog for America is entitled Patient Dumping, and it went up at 10:06 a.m.

Last night I had actually shut down my computer, but (silly me) I peeked at this blog on my phone and discovered *three* pieces of comment spam. That was going to bug me when I was trying to go to sleep, so I decided to just start the dang thing back up and delete the comments. And, having gone to that trouble, changed the settings so that only registered users (people with a Blogger account) could post. I knew that wouldn't stop all of the junk posts (some of the spammers have Blogger accounts) but the other option was to turn on "word verification". I was concerned about accessibility issues with that option, but as of this morning I have temporarily turned that on to see how it works for people. I have also changed the settings so that people without Blogger accounts can still post here, because, as puddle noted:

Rats, Renee. I do understand, but this way, without being able to blog as "other," there's no easy way to put clicky links in. Although having seen what a blog spammer can do to a comment thread, it sure is up to you. ♥s

We'll have to see how the word verification works out. So far, the few people who have said anything are saying they don't mind it, but if there are any people who can't read the word they need to type for verification, then I'd be excluding people, and I don't want to do that. If necessary, I will go back to just deleting the comment spam, but in that case I really will need more people helping with that.

In one of my posts last night, I wrote of this blog:

Well, whatever the reason for creating it, it's *here* now, and I'm glad. Having played midwife in bringing this baby blog into the world, I'm looking forward to watching it grow up. I also look forward to being *one* of the people who helps raise it, but I hope to be one of a number of caregivers who offer a variety of perspectives.

For some people, helping care for this blog may mean posting entries on the main page, as Oscar and Corinne have. For others, like Demetrius, who is busy enough these days that I wouldn't dream of asking him to take on the task of writing posts, it just means zapping the nasty comment spam when I can't get to it.

A couple more comments before I get to other work I need to be doing. First, if you're looking for Oscar's cartoon roundup, it can be found here at 9:14 a.m.

Secondly, I think we need a better, more creative name for this blog. I don't like that when you un-abbreviate it, the name is "Shadow Blog for America Blog". But mostly, I think we are creative, clever people who could do better.

Keeping the buck firmly where it belongs

And the pile-on continues.

In the wee small hours of this morning, a Kossack who is also a meteorologist says that he knows FEMA ignored official warnings.

It should be said over and over again, the resulting devastation in New Orleans was absolutely not some sort of unforeseen surprise. When I hear Bush or any of his political appointees in FEMA and Homeland Security (all of whom are in full "CYA mode") talk about not anticipating the level of devestation in New Orleans, I become infuriated!!! It was well known -- well before landfall -- by local emergency managers, scientists, and anyone with common sense what devestation awaited those locations in Katrina's path, NOLA specifically. Of course, in this Administration, science means about as much as last week's losing lottery ticket -- used chewing gum wrapper.

Keith Olberman delivered quite a smackdown on last night's Countdown.

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.

King George visited Louisiana again yesterday. My analogy in this case is when one of the kids keeps opening the refrigerator, as if they expect something new to show up every time they open it. But it's the same stuff that was in there the last time you looked. The water isn't going to magically disappear each time you visit, George.

Thanks, Renee, for the update on Barbara Bush's still-undisturbed beautiful mind. I'm just waiting for her to say "Let them eat cake." (Just remember, this is the same party that portrayed John Kerry as an aristocratic elitist who is out of touch with regular people.)

ThinkProgress reports that Bill Frist will postpone the estate tax vote. Nice of him to finally get around to it although I don't think he should get credit for doing something he never should have done in the first place. He's also postponed the Roberts confirmation hearings.

Barbara Bush's remarks, in context (transcript)

I readily admit that I am not a fan of America's Queen Mother, she of the "beautiful mind" that can't be bothered with hearing about body bags and other consequences of her son's policies. But as much as it irks me when right wing media hacks and the trolls who love them endlessly quote Howard Dean out of context, after I listened to the report on The Marketplace, I felt it was important to share the context in which Babs said it is "kind of scary" that they all want to stay in Texas. In a report entitled, Houston, we may have a problem, it is clear that she is not the only one who feels that way...
It has taken a week--a very long week--but some hurricane refugees may finally be feeling better. Evacuees at Houston's Astrodome got reassuring hugs from former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton this September the 5th. Perhaps more importantly, the two ex-presidents launched a nationwide fundraising campaign for hurricane relief. The money will help survivors get back to their lives. Officials in Texas are hoping to convince many to make a new start elsewhere. The Marketplace's Bob Moon reports, most of the 15,000 taking shelter in the Astrodome are asking, "Why mess with a good thing like Texas?"

Reporter: Houston, we *may* have a problem.

Babs: Almost everyone I've talked to says "We're going to move to Houston."

Reporter: Former First Lady Barbara Bush took note of the mood in the small city that's formed inside Houston's Astrodome. She says many simply want to stay put.

Babs: What I'm hearing, which is kind of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arenas here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is--this is working very well for them.

Reporter: Former President Bill Clinton heard the same sentiments from many of those he spoke to today

Clinton: A lot of people want to go home to New Orleans, a lot of people want to stay here in Houston or live somewhere else. But, you know, they're beginning to think about the rest of their lives now, so I feel pretty good about what I saw today, even with all the anger and all the terrible stories, there's a sense of hope.

Reporter: The question is, can the country's fourth most populous city absorb perhaps hundreds of thousands of new residents overnight.

Greeting the evacuees along with Clinton today, Illinois Senator Barack Obama suggested the government will have to try to spread the burden.

Obama: We're going to have to tackle aggressively, both in Washington and various states and cities that are willing to accomodate folks. So, for example, I've been lucky that Mayor Daley of Chicago and Governor Blagojevich of Illinois and others were interested in taking thousands of people who might be interested in moving to Illinois.

Reporter: But that may be easier said than done. Sherry Williams (sp?) says she's not interested in going to a faroff place like Illinois.

Williams: We don't know anybody out there. We're trying to stay someplace where we know people. I have some friends that live out here. And what I'm trying to do with my family is get a three-bedroom apartment where we can all just stay here. For now.

Reporter: Have you had any luck?

Williams: Not yet

Reporter: Williams told me she's heard New Orleans may not be inhabitable for at least three months. But another evacuee, Michael DuPont saw his house completely under water before he left and says he knows it will be a lot longer, maybe three or four *years*. And he too intends to find a job and live here.

DuPont: I would rather stay somewhere down south--I'm from down here. And Houston is right next to my home state. I still have family in all parts of the state and I would rather be in this area, you know...

Reporter: So this feels a little closer to home, then?

DuPont: Right, it feels like home and they're making us feel like we're at home.

Reporter: DuPont says most of the people he's spoken to in the Astrodome feel the same way.

DuPont: Well, generally, the few that I've talked with, they're ready to make Houston home. They're ready to just blend into the population and get jobs and become citizens of Houston, Texas.

Reporter: Houston officials are obviously concerned, but they haven't had much time to do any long term planning. Mayor Bill White said last week he wants the people being sheltered here to be sent to, as he put it, "every apartment and hotel in the country". And an aide to the mayor said over the weekend that while Houston welcomes its neighbors, it does have its limits.
So, the "which is a little scary" remark, while it sounded bad on its own, was in fact indicative of a very real concern that is echoed by many. Of course, I do still think the "let them eat cake" attitude Babs clearly demonstrated when she said, "this is working out very well for them" is pretty appalling. It's yet another reminder that she and her whole family live in a "world apart", largely unfamiliar with and untouched by the struggles many of us face every day. That disconnect can be seen in her son every day. No matter how many times he uses the word "folks", it is painfully clear that he has led a sheltered life--sheltered from many of the struggles the rest of us face, and sheltered from experiencing the consequences of his own actions. He's not your drinking buddy.

It can get a little scary here in the shadows

JayDean gave me a heads-up in a previous thread that the individual who did more than anyone else I can think of to make this blog necessary is back at Blog for America after being absent for several days. Robert Oler. Yes, he tries my nerves. Yes, I sometimes lose my temper in response to him, and I hate when that happens, because I *know* he gloats about that, and I don't like giving him the satisfaction.

But on the other hand, I have to admit that, at least indirectly, he has served as an inspiration. Granted, sometimes he just inspires me to say "Bite me", but other times he really has inspired me to get off the blog and put a lot of thought into a post that I might not have written otherwise. And this blog--I probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble of creating it if he hadn't gotten on my last nerve.

Well, whatever the reason for creating it, it's *here* now, and I'm glad. Having played midwife in bringing this baby blog into the world, I'm looking forward to watching it grow up. I also look forward to being *one* of the people who helps raise it, but I hope to be one of a number of caregivers who offer a variety of perspectives. Because I really *do* think that the survival of this planet depends on our ability to learn to interact respectfully with each other, even when we disagree--to learn to coexist amicably on spaceship Earth.

Things won't get better if we all only hang out with people who agree with us. We need to step out of our comfort zones and have real dialog. The way I see it, there are only a few things we need to agree on to have such dialog...

-How we treat people always matters.

-Everything we do or say can have a ripple effect--for good or for bad. We need to maximize the good whenever possible, and minimize the bad.

-We, as humans, really can do better, but we need an approach that is different from "business as usual".

-Name-calling and mind-reading people who disagree with us is not helpful. Not just "not nice", but it only adds to the problem. We (I) need to spend more time trying to genuinely understand people, rather than labeling them or settling for interpretations of their worldviews that make us (me) feel superior but it harder to communicate productively with people who are (at the moment) "on the other side".

What's the scary part? Admitting we don't have all the answers, for one thing. Uncertainty is pretty unsettling. Feels so much more safe and reassuring when things are black and white, and you're sure that you're on the good side of the force. It's scary to admit we don't know everything, to "lose face", to explore the possibility that bad things are not only the responsibility of "evildoers" who we could easily pick out of a crowd. Accepting the very real possibility that the things we do, or don't do, play a role in creating some of the bad things we see in the world around us.

Acknowledging race issues, and talking about them, can be pretty scary too...which is why we often avoid those issues. This week, people have actually started talking about race and racism more openly. It's not easy, but it's necessary, and it's about time.

Race and Katrina: Starting a Discussion

the race card

Monday, September 05, 2005

Homelessness, Hunger "working out well" for Evacuees

Tara posted at 10:27 p.m. Homelessness, Hunger "working out well" for Evacuees. The post addresses the (sadly not surprising) appalling words by Barbara Bush that I posted in the previous entry here. Since then, I have found out from Atrios that what Barbara said was even worse than what most of us have read. The beginning of her statment was apparently:

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. "

Lovely woman.

And here's the transcript of Keith Olbermann's smackdown of the Bush administration:
The "city" of Louisiana

The Katrina Blame Game

At 6:16 p.m., Tara Liloia posted The Katrina Blame Game

Even before every stranded survivor has been rescued from the toxic waters surrounding their New Orleans homes, the tricky political dance of placing blame has already begun.

Click here for the rest.

Some links of interest

Blogging the evacuees at the Reliant Astrodome and George R. Brown Convention Center

The Interdictor "This journal has become the Survival of New Orleans blog. In less perilous times it was simply a blog for me to talk smack and chat with friends. Now this journal exists to share firsthand experience of the disaster and its aftermath with anyone interested."

If you go to the Air America Radio web site these days, you are first directed to a page about Katrina, and have to click a special link to go to the usual main page.

From Raw Story: Senate Democrats issue relief plan for Katrina

Barbara Bush--yikes!
The Beautiful Mind Strikes Again

Barbara Bush - the woman whom no less an authority than Dick Nixon said "knows how to hate," the woman who didn't want to trouble her "beautiful mind" with thoughts of "body bags and deaths" - has now offered us yet another gem. After visting refugees staying at the Houston Astrodome, she had this to say:

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

And now for something completely silly:

Not sure how many people are familiar with The Llama Song. Now there's a takeoff on it--the Dalai Lama Song.

And here's a Flash animation from Atom Films called "I can't afford my gasoline"