Friday, September 30, 2005

How Dumb is Tom DeLay?

by Shakespeare's Sister

First he makes the outrageous claim that he wasn’t given a chance to speak before the grand jury, an assertion so robustly stupid that his own lawyer had to refute it. And now all his bloviating about how this is a partisan attack by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle has prompted the grand jury foreman to consent to an interview with the local news and explain that he doesn’t appreciate being accused of collusion with the DA to unfairly indict DeLay.

Just keep yapping, you egotistical shit. Each word that falls from your lying maw removes another inch of soil from that grave you seem so intent on digging yourself.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

A must-read dual series on black homo-bigot pastors

by Pam

This week there was a slamming series of blog entries by Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick outing homophobic black ministers in a five-part series. Keith launched the series on Monday with:
We're tired of the hypocrisy and divisive "Christian" rhetoric that too many black pastors are spreading, and we're tired of these same ministers selling out their pulpits to the highest bidder.

From New York to Los Angeles, black LGBT people have been the backbone of the black church. Through this network, we've discovered that many homophobic black pastors lead secret lives outside the church. We're not naming any names, yet, but if you know something to help us confirm the information from our sources, we'd like to know.
They have put so much into the series that you must go to their blogs to read the whole thing. I'm just putting a tasty sampling of you'll find there.

So far this week, Jasmyne has taken on some of the most homophobic pastors imaginable, and we all know that many are on the faith-based take. Here's who she's served up on the platter...

* Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Baptist Missionary in Atlanta, Georgia. Memorable quote: "Woman is the soul of man. She is his flesh consciousness. In essence, God made Eve to help Adam replenish the earth. Woman has the canal…everything else is an exit. God had to separate Adam and Eve where they connected so he could tell them to reconnect in covenant to duplicate Him. In Christ, God puts his seed in us. Any other way is a spiritual abortion. Cloning, Homosexuality and Lesbianism are spiritual abortions. Homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man."

* Bishop Noel Jones of Los Angeles (brother of Grace Jones). Fun fact from Jasmyne: Last November, Bishop Noel Jones traveled to Jamaica to tell the Jamaican people not to bow to pressure from American gay rights activists to change their anti-gay laws. Divorced for about 10 years, Bishop Jones is living out his Christianity as a single man. Something to think about -- Jones is known to socialize with self-proclaimed ex-gay Donnie McClurkin (R).

* Bishop Paul Morton of the Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans. Memorable quote: "You don't try to put 2 plugs or 2 sockets together. I want some folk to get deliverance. You ain't got no socket rubbing up against another socket talkin' 'bout 'come on light my fire!' It ain't gon light! We need to break the curse 'cause even some of these older women are attacking some of these younger women and placing them in this lifestyle. That's why you can't even walk right when you doin' that stuff. You hurtin' 'cause it ain't natural."

* Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in College Park, Georgia. Memorable quote: "When you begin to legislate policies and you take it past its designed intent and boundaries, you're going to end up in perversion." Fun fact from Jasmyne: Rev. Dollar preaches a ministry of prosperity, and he was one of a a handful of black ministers who joined with controversial conservative Lou Sheldon to declare their support for President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative.

Keith's got high-profile homo-haters up this week at his pad as well. Here's a sampling of the bigots in the pulpit on his site.

* T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House & T.D. Jakes Ministries. He's Bush's best bud, showing up to provide some color (or is that cover) when he met with Katrina survivors. He supported FMA. Memorable quote: "To date, I have not seen scriptural authority that allows me to stand on behalf of God and say I now pronounce you husband and husband, and wife and wife. This is an issue the government is undecided about. The Bible is not." Fun fact from Keith: Jakes has also adopted another part of the presidential philosophy: his lifestyle. Jakes and his congregation refer to his wife Serita as "the first lady," and they live in a $1.7 million mansion on Dallas's scenic White Rock Lake next to a building once owned by oil magnate H.L. Hunt.

* Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church in D.C.: Blenders know this man all too well for his homo-baiting from the pulpit. It's hard to pick just one quote, so here's two. Memorable quotes: "When you get down to this thing, women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural."

"Any time somebody got to slap some grease on your behind, and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that. You got blood vessels and membranes in your behind. And if you put something unnatural in there, it breaks them all up. No wonder your behind is bleeding."

* Gregory Daniels of Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Fun fact from Keith and memorable quote: A self-identified Republican and supporter of President George W. Bush, Daniels made headlines in February 2004 when he told the New York Times, "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them." Yes, that's a black minister who said that.

* Bishop Charles Blake West Angeles Church of God In Christ, and second in command of the national body of Church of God In Christ (C.O.G.I.C.). Memorable quote: "the homosexual practices of same-sex couples are in violation of religious and social norms and are aberrant and deviant behavior. We believe that these unions are sinful and in direct violation of the law of God in that they are a deviation from the natural use and purpose of the body."

* Donnie McClurkin, 46-year-old unmarried gospel singer and preacher at Perfecting Faith Church in New York. Fun facts: A Bush supporter, McClurkin performed for the President at the Republican National Convention last year. "There is a moral aspect that was overwhelmingly a part of Bush's appeal," said McClurkin, who also appeared in Michigan with Bush during the campaign.

Shortly after, he's quoted on the Christian Broadcasting Network's (Pat Robertson’s organization) Web site saying: "I'm not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children."

So now gays are trying to kill children. That’s completely absurd and there’s no proof to validate that statement.

I think the following portion by Keith and Jasmyne really sums up this list of hypocrite losers in the pulpit.
Listen to what Donnie McClurkin himself says about his sexuality. "There was a big 20-year gap of sexual ambiguity where after the rape my desires were toward men, and I had to fight those things because I knew that it wasn't what we were taught in church was right. And the older I got, the more that became a problem, because those were the first two sexual relationships that I had. Eight years old and 13 years old. So that's what I was molded into. And I fought that. When I tell you from eight to 28, that was my fight -- in the church. And you were in an environment where there were hidden, you know, vultures I call them, that are hidden behind frocks and behind collars and behind -- you know, reverends and the deacons, and it becomes a preying ground, a place where the prey is hunted, and that was what it was like."

McClurkin basically describes a world in which homosexuality is common in the church community. Something we have been trying to tell you from day one in our campaign. The Black church is the most homophobic and homotolerant.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

ABC hops in bed with Focus on the Family for 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'

by Pam

I have to agree with Jeremy of Good As You when he says "this of course means that the 'extremely made over' home will no longer allow for back door entry."

You have to read a bit between the lines of the sanitized FOF press release to see what else the family gets along with a new home. I'm sure the house will be well-stocked with right-wing propaganda.
Focus on the Family is participating in this week’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition event in Peyton, Colorado. Both the show’s producers and sponsor Keller Homes invited Focus to contribute after learning the unique background of the episode’s beneficiary, a local family of eight.

Focus will provide a complete family library of video, audio, and print classics for this homeschooling family. The library includes literary classics, the Adventures in Odyssey radio series, audio dramas from the award-winning Radio Theatre series, marriage and parenting resources [As we all know, Dobson thinks gay marriage is a threat to the earth itself], subscriptions to the top Focus magazines, and a variety of other resources specifically tailored to the ages and interests of the family members.

On the FOF web site, we learn what the most impressive part of the program will be - glad handing with Daddy Dobson himself...
In addition to its participation in the October 2 episode, Focus hosted the Barrett family yesterday at its Colorado Springs campus for a special visit. The highlight of the day was a meeting with Focus founder and chairman Dr. James Dobson. The Peyton, Colorado family of eight also enjoyed a VIP tour of the Focus on the Family campus, lunch with the staff, a visit with Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly, a trip to the broadcasting studios for a behind-the-scenes look at the popular Adventures in Odyssey children’s radio program, and interviews with the Brio and Breakaway teen magazine staffs.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.


by The Heretik


THE JAIL DOOR OPENED and “principled” Judith Miller will soon open her mouth about the principals. [story] The question remains why now and not earlier about who and when and where and how. A “reporter” would say there is a story here, but Miller should not be mistaken for a reporter. What amendments she made to her conscience were made long ago. Whether she goes from taking the First Amendment to a delicate dance around the Fifth, we will soon know. But watch the myth of the martyr reporter burn now with what's at stake. Oy.


FLIP CITY [Firedog Lake] According to NBC news, Judy will testify tomorrow. I think the whole "Libby gave her a release" story is just so much bs, a fig leaf for her to hide behind, and I doubt whatever "deal" she cut at this point allows her to do much more than keep her ass out of jail. And if her testimony didn't incriminate anyone, she would have given it long ago -- any examination of her behavior to date show her to be a complete stranger to commonly held notions of "principle."

People keep asking me "how high up is this going to go?" And my answer is, as high as Fitzgerald can get anyone to talk. I can only guess, but the thing to keep in mind about this crowd is if you are counting on copious amounts of character to keep someone from ratting out the whole bunch, it's going to be flip city.

WALKING AND TALKING [Just One Minute] Let me claim an "I told you so" point here - I had argued (point 3) that blaming Libby for the inability to work out a waiver deal may have been a bit unfair - negotiating these waivers can't be easy, and the specter of a witness conspiracy charge hangs over them.

Now, how broad will Ms. Miller's testimony be?

THE HERETIK SUSPECTS why this has all taken so long. Judith Miller most likely plays a variety of roles in this sad saga. What happens when "reporters" believe themselves players in the halls of power is that the public ends up getting played. Judith Miller has a rather ignominious history as a conduit of "information" the veracity of which recently has been dubious at best. The joke that this woman stood for any journalistic principals in covering "the news" in the past is only now exceeded by the hilarity of righteously covering her vulnerable butt.

The truth in this matter was going to come out sooner or later. In this case it is later, because delay is always the last tactic of the losing side. Who exactly is revealed on that losing side we will now find out.

ON A FREE WAIVER AND THE NATURE OF COERCION [Digby] JUDITH ESCARIOT Murray Waas reports on why Miller's testimony is important to Fitzgerald . . . .Just in case Judy didn't know what Libby would like her to say to the Grand Jury, the Washington Post helpfully printed it up for her . . . Miller is a made man. Why would Fitzgerald think she would tell the truth when it's clear that Libby wants her to testify on his behalf?

Because somebody else has already spilled the beans. How else did Judy come to Fitzgerald's attention in the first place? . . . . Who knows how many people could have testified before the grand jury about Miller and Libby? . . . .

Via Anonymous Liberal I see that there is some dispute emerging about this waiver business.

WHY ALL THIS FLAG WAVING ABOUT A WAIVER ANYWAY? [Arianna Huffington/Eponymous Post] It’s time for Judy Miller and Arthur Sulzberger to change their talking points.

The claim that Miller “has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver” is laughable… and, indeed, has already been laughed at by 1) my increasingly frustrated sources within the Times 2) a chorus of voices in the blogosphere (see here, here, and here) and 3) (and much more significantly) Joseph Tate, Scooter Libby’s lawyer, who told the Washington Post yesterday that he informed Miller’s attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby’s waiver “was voluntary and that Miller was free to testify”.

So it defies credulity for Miller, Sulzberger, and Bill Keller to keep insisting that Libby’s earlier waiver was coerced when Libby says that it wasn’t

THE HERETIK FINDS it impressive that in a moment of her own coercion, Judith Miller held out for a waiver from Scooter Libby that was not coerced by condition of employment. A more "personal" waiver was required by the "reporter." This reminds The Heretik again how mixed up the personal and professional are in Washington. Miller and her lawyers nobly have agreed to squeal about one source, presumably Libby, but not about others. Too bad on that. What else could she tell? And what more could Fitzgerald be investigating?

THE "BIG SCOOP?" SO BELIEVES [Liberal Avenger] So we now have Libby's version of the story (most likely provided to the Post by his own attorney), and it appears to clear Miller of any wrongdoing. She apparently didn't tell Libby anything about Plame; she was merely the recipient of the leak.

Personally, I feel vindicated. I noted on numerous occasions (e.g. here, here, here) that the 'Judy Miller did it' theory didn't make sense. If Libby had learned about Plame from Miller, why wouldn't a "source close to Libby" have leaked that information a long time ago? The lack of finger-pointing by the administration spoke volumes.

THE HERETIK SEES the twists in this sordid tale finally twisting back upon themselves. Libby's talking to Milller has been known for some time and those facts and times of her conversations with Fitzgerald were explicitly covered in Miller's original subpoena. What The Heretik finds both new and old is that the info Liberal Avenger finds so sweet and vindicating for Miller is provided by yet another anonymous source. Anonymous sources are at the rotten heart of this story.

WHETHER LIBBY OR MILLER ROTS IN JAIL depends on how this story plays out. Is the anonymous source or Libby offering instruction to Miller on her testimony, as Digby might suggest? Is Libby himself this new anonymous source? Wouldn't that be sweet (and sour at the same time)? Is Libby falling on his sword, so the investigation stops with him? Will some Tom Hagan type Godfather figure visit the lost Libby in jail and tell him to do the right thing and his family will be protected?

AND WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE FAMOUS types including Bolton who visited Miller in her time of trouble now lessened (or not)? The alternate scenario still exists that Miller is a source of info on Plame. If not as the original source of this infection on the body politic, then as a spreader of the disease. One reason Libby and others have not um fingered Miller as a source or challenged her as a principled princess is that she knows where all the bodies are buried. Judith Miller probably helped bury half of them. And she made dead bodies walk like they were alive. (See Chalabi).

WILL THIS STORY NOW WIND around again to its beginning? A battle for principle or principals. What other amendments to her conscience will Judith Miller make? Which one will she toss out today? First or Fifth? And just who will sigh most loudly with relief?

ALSO RECOMMENDED [Needlenose] [Maha]

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

DeLay indicted in Texas fundraising probe; denies guilt

by John Howard

DeLay indicted in Texas fundraising probe; denies guilt

Looking in my crystal ball I have seen the downfall of the Republican party, or at least the end of their dominance of our government. This quote from Tom DeLay about his indictment is what made it all clear to me:
one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history

So it won't be the war in Iraq, or the economy, or the miserable hurricane response, or any of a million other things they've screwed up. No, what will bring them down is arguing over whose indictment is the weakest, most baseless and the biggest partisan move. Once either Frist or Rove get indicted, this infighting should pick up considerably, then when all three are under indictment, it will spiral out of control. And you never know who else may be indicted in the meantime.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Special Analysis:
Judith Miller Gets Sprung from the Big House

by Dark Wraith is reporting that Judith Miller has agreed to testify before the grand jury considering evidence of criminal acts in the outing of former intelligence operative Valerie Plame. Miller claims the reason she has had the change of heart is that her source has released her from her promise of confidentiality.

It was supposed quite some time back that every Administration official of any note, include Libby, had signed a release. CNN quotes The New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller as saying that Miller had previously received a waiver from her source that was "only... generic," and Keller said that Miller"...believed she had ample reason to doubt it had been freely given."

Has Judith Miller agreed to testify because she was about to be indicted on felony conspiracy charges? Although that might never be known for sure, it is not beyond the realm of the likely that Fitzgerald was about to submit to the grand jury the vote for indictment of Miller on at least one count of criminal conspiracy. He would have conveyed this to her attorney, who would then have advised her that she needed to sing. The grand jury term expires within a matter of days, which means Miller, whose civil contempt citation would have ended at the expiry of the grand jury's term, had only a modest few days more to ride out at the federal pen. Under the circumstances, then, Ms. Miller's sudden change of position on testifying is striking in its timing.

Adding to the suspicions that what is happening now is not the process of justice moving apace, Miller has allegedly had a parade of visitors recently, not the least of whom was the new, recess-appointed UN Ambassador John Bolton, which goes to the prospect noted previously in the series, "The Valerie Plame Scandal," that Bolton is somehow involved through his former underling David Wurmser, now a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Cheney.

Beyond speculation about a journalist's motives for surrendering to federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's demands are the implications on what has become of that U.S. attorney's case: it could be that Mr. Fitzgerald, nearing the end of the term of the grand jury and not wanting to empanel a new one to start all over again, is coming up bupkis. If Miller is corroborating testimony by Robert Novak or someone else, she provides the second of two witness needed under rules for indictments of Rove and Libby. But that's about it; and even there, Fitsgerald is stretching in the 11th hour if he had to threaten criminal conspiracy to shake a squeal out of Judith "Mouthpiece for War" Miller. With the grand jury that has been considering evidence in the case of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame nearing its termination, claims of impending, sweeping indictments look more and more like false hopes than reasoned assessments.

All of that being noted, though, Fitzgerald has spent an unknown amount of money over a period of almost two years, allowing trails to go cold, amateurs to tromp all over evidence, and the machinery of the courts under Bush Administration appointees at the Justice Department to wipe out what remained of journalistic source confidentiality.

The cumulative result of this long-running saga strikes the objective observer as pointing to a relatively good performance by some very sordid interests now controlling the stage in Washington.

The Dark Wraith would applaud them if he were a bit more generous.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums and has been revised as of September 30, 2005, at 5:25 p.m. EDT.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another casualty of the Bush economy

by Pam

One of my bloggrrrls is getting an unwelcome visit from the beast known as the Bush economy. Melissa of the Koufax-nominated Shakespeare's Sister and co-moderator here at B3 was laid off from her job today.
Last night, Mr. Shakes and I got a notice that our property tax had been increased 100% on our matchbox of a house, and effectively immediately, our monthly payments would be increased by 20%. Then this morning, I got laid off. Wish we didn’t have to, feel terrible, no money and all that.

So, I’m pretty desperate at the moment, and although I hate to do this, I’m asking for donations. If you like Shakespeare’s Sister and if you can afford to, I’d appreciate it if you could help out, because now this is the only job I’ve got.
She has links to Amazon Pay and Paypal on her site in the left sidebar if you're a fan and want to show some love for the incredible blogging that she has done and will continue to do.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

How many more Mike Browns are out there?

by John Howard - How many more Mike Browns are out there? - Sep 26, 2005

I'd say a lot. Good that people are actually starting to realize that now.
A benign cronyism is more or less presumed, with old friends and big donors getting comfortable positions and impressive titles, and with few real consequences for the nation.

I'd say that's true, but the thing is, you should be looking amongst friends and supporters for someone who is also actually qualified for the job you're giving them. And in this administration, not only does that not seem to happen, it's almost as if Bush actually looks for the most uniquely unqualified for a particular position, like it's a big joke to him.
The Brown debacle has raised pointed questions about whether political connections, not qualifications, have helped an unusually high number of Bush appointees land vitally important jobs in the Federal Government.

Questions? Raised? Now? Forgive me if I don't understand that. Since, I think those questions have already been raised, answered, and so completely accepted as fact that no one even pays any attention to them anymore.
The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife.

Yeah, except those people were probably also qualified. We're talking about someone who may have been President had he not been killed, and someone who may yet be President, and both were elected to the Senate. I'm guessing Michael Brown never gets anywhere near anything like that.

Maybe if people had paid as much attention to Bush's stupid ass appointments before a bunch of people drowned, things could have gone better in New Orleans. And maybe if they paid any attention before that, things could have gone better for the country in general.

Cross Posted at Upon Further Review...

Turkish women rip Karen Hughes a new one on her 'listening tour'

by Pam

Chimpy's Undersecretary of State Karen "Mommy" Hughes was scorched by a group of Turkish women when they blasted her boss and his Iraq policy, which has not done a hell of a lot for women.
"This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero," said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women's Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

Hughes, a longtime confidant of President Bush tasked with burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences -- many of whom received U.S. funding or consisted of former exchange students -- during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

In this case the U.S. Embassy asked Kader, an umbrella group that supports woman candidates, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receive U.S. funds and the guests apparently had little desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, the capital, focused on the Iraq war.

"War makes the rights of women completely erased and poverty comes after war -- and women pay the price," said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women's rights activist. Vargun denounced the arrest of Cindy Sheehan, the activist mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, in front of the White House Monday at an antiwar protest.

Hughes, looking increasingly pained, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for President Bush, but necessary to protect America.

Bill Bennett's guide to crime reduction

by Pam

" could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."
I sh*t you not. This occurred on the September 28 broadcast of high-stakes gambler and moralist Bill Bennett's Morning in America. (Media Matters):
Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

Bennett's remark was apparently inspired by the claim that legalized abortion has reduced crime rates, which was posited in the book Freakonomics (William Morrow, May 2005) by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. But Levitt and Dubner argued that aborted fetuses would have been more likely to grow up poor and in single-parent or teenage-parent households and therefore more likely to commit crimes; they did not put forth Bennett's race-based argument.
The audio clip is here. Perhaps that is Bill's solution for dealing with those pesky homos that keep growing up and wanting to destroy marriage..

Hat tip, Atrios.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My Letter to Wannabe John Kerry

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Tonight I got yet another smarmy email from "" asking me for MORE money. I had moved his (weekly) emails to my junk file but didn't want to permanently unsubscribe in case I might miss something important. Well, tonight I realized that:

John. Kerry. Never. Has. Said. Anything. Important.

...and he never will.

To that end - when I "unsubscribed" and they asked "why??" - I replied as follows (please excuse the less-than-optimal grammar; I was pissed):

Mr. Kerry you have let down an entire population of Americans. You have back and forth movements for/against war every month. I know you have NO idea what it is like for a "regular" Democrat and that whomever wins in office, you are fine. For heaven's sake will you just CHOOSE what you stand for - however you have lost my vote.

If I were you I would read Huffington's post/story about your most recent war support comments...if I were you I would cringe with embarrassment and perhaps re-think or maybe consider for the first time what I was supposed to stand for in 2004.

You let down a lot of people - particularly the ones who took to heart the email money-requesting campaign prior to the 2004 election which specifically stated that you "needed money to help pay for the recount" which you PROMISED you would do.

Did you?

No - you kept those funds - some people gave you an entire weeks' salary for your "recount" fund - and you socked the money away in an interest-bearing account for your "next" run.

In my mind you stole from the people - you lied in your email.

Please stop sending your baseless emails.

Your words were lost on me when you 1. Lied in your recount fund request and 2. When your most recent war comments told us to look on the "bright side."

Please go enjoy your life and stop distracting real Democrats from working with us to enjoy ours.



Miami Beach, FL


by Shakespeare's Sister

Skeevy McShiteatinggrin Roy Blunt of Missouri has been chosen to replace Dickhead DeLay as “temporary” House Majority Leader. Today, Blunt, who has participated in past golf tournaments with DeLay to raise money for the DeLay Foundation for Kids, was quoted as saying, "It's not easy to fill the gap left by our leader, Tom DeLay, who's done a tremendous job, but all of our team is going to come together like we haven't ever come together before.” CREW recently named good ol’ boy Roy as one of the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress. Way to go, GOP. Stellar choice, as always.

[UPDATE: Waveflux has more on the fast friendship between Blunt and DeLay. Btw, am I the only one who's noticed the coincidence that "blunt and delay" also seems to be the Bush administration's primary political strategy? Blunt us with a constant barrage of insanity and incompetence and then delay any investigations or accountability. Odd that.]

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

A big gay day in the House

by Pam

Who knew there would be a homo spin to the Tom ("The indictment is a sham") DeLay story?

[UPDATE: CNN reports that Dreier is now relegated to "helper bee" shuffling the Repug legislation on the House floor; Congressman Roy Blunt is in. Sounds like Davey just got a taste of anti-gay discrimination - up close and personal...]

It was thought that Denny Hastert would recommend big old outed self-loathing homo Rep. David Dreier of California temporarily replace DeLay as Majority Leader, but alas, he was passed over for some reason. Maybe it had to do with some of this information about the California representative...

According to Raw Story, Dreier has repeatedly voted against gay rights measures, and at least three MediaNews Group newspapers are said to have instructed its reporters not to ask questions about the congressman's sexuality or how it relates to public policy.

This bigot voted for the original DOMA in 1996 and a measure that banned gays from adopting in D.C. It's no surprise then that Dreier has a 92 percent favorability rating from the Christian Coalition.

Mike over at blogACTIVE reminds us that:
David Dreier was a recipient of a blogACTIVE Roy Cohn Award for being a gay man who worked against gay people. Now, in his newly visible role, provided the House elects him, David Dreier will be in a position to finally put the Federal Marriage Amendment, which he opposed, to bed.

No reaction from radical right groups yet on Hastert's pick -- we're assuming that he didn't check in with the Family Research Council's ok on this.

Here's a look at the original Roy Cohn Award given to Rep. Dreier by blogACTIVE last year.
This last bit from Mike kills me:
If Delay is "The Hammer," perhaps David could be called "The Pounder." Hmmm, on second thought, maybe "The Poundee," is a better call here -- not that there's ANYTHING wrong with that.
To continue to add to the pile-on, John at AmericaBlog flashes back to the 2004 GOP Convention when Dreier refused to answer a direct question from Mike Signorile about whether Dreier was heterosexual. Ha ha ha ha. John:
I wonder how the religious right is feeling just about now? They can kiss their anti-gay constitutional amendment goodbye, and much more. If the religious right doesn't think we can pressure Dreier to stop their anti-gay crap, then they really haven't been reading up on their gay agenda. :-)

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Sad day. I hope he's cleared, but don't know the facts."

"....aren't they jumping the guy a little bit on DeLay who's already said there is nothing to these allegations....."

The Smoking Gun

"Well I've always said, "if" is the biggest word in the dictionary. We'll just have to wait and see..."

"Yep. It was political but it doesn't matter. DeLay's out of action."

""Oh goody, another "honest" politician leading us. These people never learn. /sarcasm still on." Don't you know a Republican politician can't be a crook? ;) We'll see how it goes but personally I see this as poetic justice for Delay's recent statement that all the fat has been cut from the budget, etc. One of the most politically stupid and insulting statements I've seen in a while. On the other hand, maybe this shows he's got an insanity defense..."

"IMHO it's pure vendetta because Tom DeLay has been so effective! A blind man could have seen this coming. A totally political attack by a crooked RAT, and the MSM will love it. DeLay will be totally cleared, but the MSM will barely mention that part."

"So the bastards can take down any legitimate congressional leader just by hitting them with bs charges? Sounds like a load of horse**** to me.

"As much as this seems to smell, it may be a good thing in the long run. Hopefully the MSM will run with it for a long time and along with Katrina it will keep the spotlight off the next supreme court nomination - which is REALLY where the liberal power lies. I would love the irony of a frivilous lawsuit helping to create a conservative court."

"Another DNC funded witch hunt."

"To be brutally honest with you, I don't give a rat's rear hind quarters what party you are in or for, but if you break the law, and jail is warranted, then you go to jail. No one is ABOVE THE LAW. No matter HOW IMPORTANT they may think they are, or how big their britches are, guilty, go to jail! That simple. And I don't care what party they are in."

"As a former Texan (please Texans help me out here), I know that Ronnie Earle, the dim DA in liberal Travis County - been there for 18-20 years I believe - has traditionally used his office to file spurious charges against pub pols - mostly they end up amounting to nothing. Just fishing, trying to make trouble etc. As the DA of the county that contains the state capital, Earle has way too much power and he abuses it."

"In this case, we probably shouldn't take any chances, so let's just string him up and then we'll wait and see if he really did it...."

"And the same old Freepers will run for the hills! LOL, they complain and lecture the GOP?"

"...let the chips fall where they may and we'll learn the truth. I suspect this is going to be a Raymond "Can You Tell Me Where to Pick Up My Reputation" Donovan witch hunt by a RAT prosecutor...I've always wondered how RATs escape the political process?"

"Appears the TX Chicken RATS been waiting for this since 2001 when they ran for cover because they didn't want a quorum in the state legislature to plan redistricting, and they blamed their problems on DeLay then."

"Payback is painful. DeLay almost singlehandedly locked in the Republican majority in Congess by his redistricting effort in Texas. This is sour grapes for the Dems. More chicken-sh*tted stuff rather competing on the issues. DeLay is a strongwilled, go for the jugular Republican not a weak-kneed appologetic Republican. That makes him a target. Drier is a better face for the Republicans anyway. He'll win more votes."

"Why don't you wait until the trial before you throw him to the wolves. It's incredibly easy to get a Grand Jury indictment. Look at Earle's success (none) in these partisan witch hunts and then tell me you believe DeLay will be convicted. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts he'll be acquitted. Meantime the MSM will have a field day with this."

"I'm more confident since he stepped down. e doesn't appear to be hiding, and he isn't putting himself before the par"

"Oh yes, David Drier is a great conservative... Sheesh, do I need to say ((sarcasm))??"

"r face for the Republicans anyway. He'll win more votes."

"Think so? Wait until the Dims really start throwing out the rumors about Dreier being gay, and everyone here and in the MSM who is braying in triumph over DeLay's indictment starts hounding Dreier and calling him a "queer"."

"Democrats and liberals love gay men. Just ask Barnie Frank."

"Republicans can be so stupid. Why make Drier the leader? Why not some anoymonous likeable tax cutting Republican Congressman without a spot on his record? Its like we continually want bad publicity."

"Check out and for the answer. They both say David and his COS partner have been bad little boys."

"Apart from the fact that he's rumored to be gay and has lived with his Chief of Staff for a number of years..."

"Have you lived under a rock for the past ten years? Dreier has had PLENTY of face time on talking head shows and was the Chair of GOPAC for quite a while. From what I understand, he is the typicaly California Republican . . . pretty conservative fiscally, more of a moderate on social issues."

"DREIER? Oh God, there goes any last vestige of backbone the House GOP might have had. Expect amnesty for illegal aliens and worse out of this buffoon."

"Is seom part of the gay lingo?"

"Seeing how the only people who seem to hate Dreier are the Buchanan/Tancredo crowd, he must be a good choice."

"Care to elaborate on that accusation? You , like many others at FR who supposedly support FRee speech, use hate like dysentery victims use toilet paper."

"David "Send Us More Illegal Aliens" Dreier. Great choice.


by Ms. Julien in Miami

And on the MSM, no less...not hidden in some progressive blog.

*yuk yuk

Can I just tell you that this makes complete sense to me?

by Ms. Julien in Miami

I read this article yesterday and finally feel some scientific validation for what I have been suspecting since my mid-teens.

You all pretty much know my feelings about religion - particularly as is being forced down our throats right now:

Let's put the fables of the Bible, or whatever your particular "holy" story book is, back in Sunday School (or whatever day is your holy day).

Please folks, don't allow the wing-nuts to dumb down our next generation any more than has already been done by NCLB. The rest of the world is already laughing at us - we have to import our scientists now as it is - let's don't bring religious fables into equality with knowledge that stands up to the scientific method...if we continue to allow this to happen, we are only going further down the yellow brick road.

China, with all of its brilliant minds, scientifically trained, and now holding a HUGE United States debt, looms in our future...

If they take over, whatcha gonna do...PRAY?
Our country is becoming a world laughing stock, with our archaic views of evolution, women's rights, same-sex rights, and sex education. Our country is overwhelmingly full of self-claimed "believers" in a "higher power". Bunk, I say - it is just an excuse not to take full responsibility for oneself. 'Bean weighed in with an interesting take on "God" in an email the other day - perhaps he will share it in the comments.

However, please take a look at this study: (I have added the highlighting in the text):

The Times

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social performance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills...

The article goes on, but I summarize it here:

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

It gets even better:

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist...compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Hear, hear!!!!!

Can we please stop hiding behind a book now, and terrorizing our children with guilt, fire, brimstone, and a self-loathing for being interested in sex???

Can we please stop calling body parts "nasty" and "dirty"??

Can we please stop this slippery slope between fable and government??

Ms. Julien

Crossposted on Julien's List

British Doctors Report Rise in Incidence of Man-Breasts

by Dark Wraith

From BBC News comes word by reputable British doctors that a marked increase is being seen in men seeking treatment for gynaecomastia, which is the development of female breasts on men.

Gynaecomastia patient marked for reduction surgeryThis is not the same as the better-known he-stuff sported by heavy-set and sedentary men who have excessive upper torso body fat deposits resulting from obesity or near-obesity. Men afflicted by gynaecomastia literally develop the glandular tissue characteristic of females. Corrective surgery involves sucking out the fat that has developed (a procedure popularly known as "liposuction"), as well as cutting out the female glands that have pathologically taken root. In essence, the procedure is a highly restrictive form of cosmetic mastectomy, although prophylactic considerations, as noted below, may be included in the decision to carry out the breast-reduction surgery.

Doctors speculate that the increasing incidence of this strange condition is associated with several factors. In particular, the article cites the widespread agricultural practice of injecting cattle with estrogen, whose meat may then become a vector by which it enters the food chain, ultimately infusing humans with a sustained and unneeded, non-therapeutic regimen of the hormone. Also, the appearance of anomalous female reproductive tissues in lake and river fish might indicate that contraceptives disposed in toilets are entering the water that is eventually consumed by people.

Another possibility, one not mentioned in the BBC News article, is that certain chemical compounds called "pseudo-estrogens," found in packaging, shampoos, and agriculture run-off, are entering biological organisms through multiple vectors ranging from plastic food containers to drinking water.

Related to this, perhaps tangentially, is the link that has been preliminarily established between a class of hormone-like substances known as phthalates and genital abnormalities in young males, as summarized in the online Science in the News Weekly, Vol. 3, No. 22 (June 1, 2005) of the American Scientist Online. A small study, which must be followed up by more comprehensive work, has found that male young who have an abnormally short distance between the penis and the anus were born of mothers having increased systemic levels of phthalates. The ultimate consequences of these morphological anomalies, which also include incomplete descent of the testicles and a cluster of other oddities, are still not well understood, but the pathology is apparently quite noticeable. Only by tracking these young as they grow, and especially as they go through puberty, will anything be known about the material consequences on everything from development to fertility to susceptibility to certain types of injuries, infections, and neoplasms.

Whatever ultimately proves to be the causal agent, the rising incidence of this embarrassing problem in men shows no signs of abating. At some point, it will surely be recognized as a health crisis meriting a more rigorous examination by health professionals, especially because more men developing "man-boobs" will lead to a higher incidence of male breast cancer, which is now extremely rare. The fight against breast cancer in women merits the support and attention of everyone as progress is slowly being made, but a newly emergent class of victims of the disease would certainly be a setback to the work of finding a cure.

The Dark Wraith has provided this post as a public health service advisory.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jeff Gannon attends pro-war rally

by Pam

Go to PageOneNews for an exclusive pic by Joe Tresh of Jeff Gannon at the pro-war rally. He's holding a sign that says "Let Our Troops Finish Their Mission." Barf.

There are also photos from the Cindy Sheehan arrest. How incredible that Jeffy Lube keeps resurfacing.

Read about JimmyJeff "coming out" as bisexual in my post, "Perhaps the most ridiculous column ever."

Interesting survey: American Catholics and party politics

by Pam

This is from the National Catholic Reporter. The information is particularly surprising to me, but it's still fascinating to see it broken down like this. I wonder how the Democrats and Republicans will digest this information and target this group in campaigns.

Actually, the person who should be taking a hard look at this is Ratzi and his Vatican hit squad. He's not on the same page as American Catholics at all, and the numbers detect real potential for a backlash as he attempts to rein in the flock.
American Catholics played an important if not decisive role in the 2004 national elections. Abortion, same sex marriage and stem cell research were all important issues on the minds of voters, and all indications are that they will continue to be. These issues have become part of a culture war in which two opposing views of the good society have increasingly spread across secular and religious lines. The lines are clearly drawn within the U.S. Congress, where conservative Protestants and Catholics form the core of the Republican Party while progressive Catholics, Jews and African-Americans form the core of the Democratic Party.

For American Catholics, the roots of this growing polarization, and with it a questioning of moral authority of the Vatican, are multifold. They are found in the rising level of formal education of Catholics, in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in the decision of Pope Paul VI to reject the recommendation of his Birth Control Commission to change the church’s teaching on birth control, in the failure of U.S. bishops to support the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s effort to open a national dialogue on “the consistent ethic of life,” in the efforts of Pope John Paul II to refocus the church’s moral authority back to the Vatican, and most recently in the sex abuse scandal.

Thus, just as the Catholic church’s moral authority has been weakened by its teaching on birth control, its teachings on abortion and same-sex marriage have drawn attention away from its teachings in support of issues such as poor families without health insurance. Increasingly, knowing a person is Catholic does not predict her or his attitudes on these issues.
Here are some of the demographics on party affiliation:

* 41 percent of Catholics are Democrats
* 37 percent are Republicans
* 22 percent Independents

* Catholic women that are Democrats: 57 percent
* Catholic women registered as Republicans: 51 percent
* Catholic women who call themselves Independents: 54 percent

* Republicans are slightly more likely to be married, but also divorced
* Democrats more likely to have never married.
* Republicans have more members with college and graduate and professional degrees
* Democrats have more who had a high school education or less.

There is a distinct generational difference that is meaningful, with more drift away from hardline thinking:
Post-Vatican II Catholics were significantly more Republican than Democratic. However, when we break down the post-Vatican II generation into Gen X, all those born between 1961 and 1978, and the new Millennials, the youngest group of Catholics born between 1979 and 1987, we find a striking difference:

Generation X: Republicans, 49 percent; Democrats, 34 percent; Independents, 17 percent.
Millennials: Republicans, 29 percent; Democrats, 58 percent; Independents, 13 percent
Here are the findings on church teachings.

And here's a little info that is going to make Pope Ratzi's head explode. Only 29% of the flock think celibate male clergy is important, and:

Plus, the laity wants to decide where the money goes. If Ratzi doesn't watch out, the cash flow is going to dry up.

What does it all mean? Who knows. I'd love to see data on the black faith community like this.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Parents protest Georgia school closures

by John Howard - Parents protest Georgia school closures - Sep 27, 2005

Hmmm, if closing for two days helps so much, imagine the impact if we just get rid of schools altogether, and not just in Georgia, but all across the country. We could all drive Hummers and bathe in gasoline. And as an added benefit, we wouldn't have to teach evolution to our kids, or really, any of that suspect stuff they call 'science'. They also wouldn't have to learn any of that tolerance crap, which is obviously designed to turn them gay, anyway.

"The first thing he decided to do was close schools," [Democratic state party Chairman Bobby] Kahn said. "That shows something about his views on education and his priorities."

Exactly. And sure, they might have had to close schools anyway because of shortages, if they didn't have the fuel. But the Governor's decision takes something that might have been necessary in a worst case scenario and turns it into something definite, and does it seemingly without looking for many alternatives. Did any other states do this? Why not? Why was Georgia the only one not prepared? Seems like a failure of leadership. Of course, here in Bizarro World, failures are cause for celebration:
In Washington, President Bush praised Perdue for his decision, saying the Republican governor "showed some leadership" in "anticipating a problem."

Yeah, congratulations. Everybody wins. Oh, except the kids. Oh, and their parents.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Brown blames state and local officials for Katrina response

by John Howard - Brown blames state and local officials for Katrina response - Sep 27, 2005

"I've overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," Brown said.

Ah, yes, of course you know what you're doing. That's why you quit.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

by TheGreenKnight

So the anti-war protest in DC was a smashing success, with over 100,000 attendees countered by a measly 400 pro-war protesters. So, what does big Democratic blogger Steve Gilliard call it?

A failure. Why? Because of the presence of groups like ANSWER, the Socialist Workers, and other lefty types with their Che Guevara t-shirts and anti-WTO signs.
I just want to see a protest where there is only one topic, Iraq, the only speakers are talking about Iraq and all the signs are about Iraq. That anyone who mentions some nonsense like the "Popular Front" is shoved off the stage with a flying tackle. Talk about Iraq. But leave the other causes at home. I don't really care about what a Israeli refusenik has to say if the topic isn't Iraq.
And so on.

The Green Knight has said before that message discipline is important, and that the giant-puppet-ANSWER crowd is a problem. They're still playing the counter-culture game, which is now as old-fashioned as the jitterbug. So in general terms the Green Knight sees Gilliard's point. But as a commenter called "Where were the Democrats?" in Gilliard's thread points out,
I'm sure if Howard Dean or John Edwards had agreed to speak that would have been the big story of the day, not Answer or the Socialist Workers Party.
And later, the same commenter said,
True, when Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton showed up to denounce the war, everybody perked up right away. There was a real contrast with the leftist sectarians. Then when John Edwards came and gave his two Americas speach and connected it with the war, wow, standing ovation. But that was nothing compared to the applause that John Kerry got when he showed up and said "I opposed the Vietnam War as a young man, and I oppose this one now".

Oh wait.....
Because, of course, none of that happened.

This is the problem exactly. Just as the GOP, in its continual angry whining about victimization, refuses to admit that it is in fact the governing party, so the Democrats, with their complacent bland spinelessness, refuse to admit that they are the opposition party. If the country's big, official opposition party won't do its job and, you know, oppose, then what you're left with are relatively disorganized people that would otherwise be considered fringe, doing what they can with what they've got.

The Green Knight can think of no other democracy where the opposition party would miss an enormous rally related to the biggest political issue facing the country, at a time when the governing party is tanking in the polls.

Gilliard and some of his other commenters argue that the Dems were right to stay away because of the presence of these groups, which would have done the party irreparable damage. Again, he's got a point. Perhaps the Democrats might have lost control of the White House or the House of Representatives or the Senate or most statehouses or ... oh. Wait a minute....

Anyway, think about the implications for a moment. Many of us have been infuriated by the way that the Democratic Party has been intimidated by the Republicans over the last several years; but apparently, the Democrats are also intimidated by the tiny Socialist Workers Party. And the Greens. And ANSWER. And Mexicanos Sin Fronteras. And spoken-word artists from New York City. They couldn't possibly go anywhere near these dangerous types for fear of commie cooties.

For crying out loud, is there anyone the Democrats aren't afraid of?

The anti-war mainstream is at a critical moment right now. It could really use the help of one of the big parties in Washington. But if the Democrats won't be a part of the anti-war mainstream, then they have no right to complain about what the anti-war mainstream becomes. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, guys.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

It’s Not Penance Unless You’re Sorry, Though

by Shakespeare's Sister

This is just outrageous. After utterly failing to do its job in the aftermath of Katrina, necessitating private organizations and citizens to help those in crisis, FEMA has announced it will “use taxpayer money to reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have opened their doors to provide shelter, food and supplies to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” Notice that any nonreligious organizations who may have helped (which includes groups having provided much-needed emergency medical care) are shit outta luck, not to mention, say, a small restaurateur who fed and sheltered people on his own dime. And while I feel for small churches who took in survivors and have, as a result, experienced huge electric and water bills, the federal government ought to be negotiating with the utility companies to waive the bills, for anyone who provided refuge, sustenance, and/or medical care for survivors, rather than handing out money to churches. But I guess that wouldn’t really serve to further ingratiate President Überpatriot Christian Cowboy to his faith-based devotees.

"I believe it's appropriate for the federal government to assist the faith community because of the scale and scope of the effort and how long it's lasting," said Joe Becker, senior vice president for preparedness and response with the Red Cross.

Civil liberties groups called the decision a violation of the traditional boundary between church and state, accusing FEMA of trying to restore its battered reputation by playing to religious conservatives.

"What really frosts me about all this is, here is an administration that didn't do its job and now is trying to dig itself out by making right-wing groups happy," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State…

For churches, synagogues and mosques that have taken in hurricane survivors, FEMA's decision presents a quandary. Some said they were eager to get the money and had begun tallying their costs, from electric bills to worn carpets. Others said they probably would not apply for the funds, fearing donations

"Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer," said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "We would never ask the government to pay for it."


Becker said he and his staff at the Red Cross also urged FEMA to allow reimbursement of religious groups. Ordinarily, Becker said, churches provide shelter for the first days after a disaster, then the Red Cross takes over. But in a storm season that has stretched every Red Cross shelter to the breaking point, church buildings must for the first time house evacuees indefinitely.

Even so, Lynn, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said that federal reimbursement is inappropriate.

"The good news is that this work is being done now, but I don't think a lot of people realize that a lot of these organizations are actively working to obtain federal funds. That's a strange definition of charity," he said.

Lynn added that he accepts the need for the government to coordinate with religious groups in a major disaster, but not to "pay for their good works."

"We've never complained about using a religious organization as a distribution point for food or clothing or anything else," Lynn said. But "direct cash reimbursements would be unprecedented."
Even the plonking Salvation Army is lobbying for reimbursement.

Even more than the annoyance that my tax dollars are going to churches, or the annoyance that solutions which would not blur the line separating church and state are ignored for the political positioning of a deservedly unpopular president, is my blind fury at the fact that this is further evidence that privatization does not work. Over and over we hear from conservatives how liberals want to turn the entire country into a nanny-state and make government responsible for things that private individuals, charities, and corporations could (and should) do. Over and over we hear the underfunding of social programs to pay for the tax breaks which favor the wealthy, the tax breaks for corporations, and the increasingly frustrating tax exemption for churches, synagogues, mosques, and religious organizations, justified by the conservative mantra that private individuals, charities, and corporations will step up, given the money to do so, and fill the role liberals would have the government play. Well it isn’t bloody happening! Conservatism doesn’t fucking work. End of story.

How I look forward to the day when I can again pay my fair share of taxes to a government that uses it to keep buying civilization, rather than trying to destroy it.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Countdown Begins

by JJ

The signatures have been turned in and will now be scrutinized "Spokane mayor recall organizers turn in signature petitions"

The signature counting began today according to Spokane County Auditor Vicki Dalton, and it will take about two weeks. The recall group now headed by Rita Amunrund will begin running television and other ad campaigns with the intention of having a special election between November 29th and December 6th. ([snark] Merry Christmas Mayor)

Of course the turning in of the signatures was immediately followed by a lawsuit to stop the petition submitted by former city council man Steve Eugster "Former Spokane councilman files suit against recall"

Former Spokane city councilmember Steve Eugster filed a lawsuit calling the recall signatures illegal.

"You can't gather signatures until after decision by Washington State Supreme Court,” Eugster said, adding that even though the state’s high court handed down a decision hours after hearing the recall last month it's illegal to collect signatures until the court releases its full written decision.

Too bad for Eugster, all 12 Superior Court Justices have recused themselves from hearing his suit.

*crossposted at Choice Of The People Blogspot*

Special Analysis Follow-up:
Senator Frist in Media Klieg Lights

by Dark Wraith

In the article, "Questions Surround Frist Blind Trust Stock Sale," published here at the Big Brass Blog, details were provided concerning the disposition by a blind trust for the Senate Majority Leader of all stock holdings in a public corporation that had previously been controlled by the Senator's family. From that article comes the gist of the issue that has been a cause of concern.
Questions arise in the case of the WH Frist 2000 Qualified Blind Trust with respect to the liquidation of HCA common stock from the trust portfolio because the order to dispose of the stock was issued by Mr. Frist on June 13, and the execution was completed before the company issued a warning about up-coming, disappointing earnings: the trustee could have waited as long as six months, at his discretion, but chose instead to execute the directive in a timely manner, commencing the liquidation eight days subsequent to HCA common stock reaching a high of $58.22 on June 22.
Although the Senator has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, CNN is reporting that both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York are now actively looking into the sale, possibly indicating that parallel civil and criminal investigations are under way. Although this aspect of the looming difficulties facing the Senator has been reported previously by, among other media outlets, the Washington Post, CNN is now quoting Senator Frist from a January 2003 television interview in which he was asked, because of his known family ties to the company, if a prudent investor should sell HCA stock. CNN quotes Senator Frist as saying, "So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock."

This was almost exactly two-and-a-half years before Mr. Frist, on June 13, 2005, ordered the administrator of the WH Frist 2000 Qualified Blind Trust to sell all HCA stock in the portfolio of the blind trust, an order that was executed shortly before the company issued an adverse earnings report that sent the stock price down by more than 15 percent.

According to the Seattle Times, Senator Frist was recently named by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress, which included such other notable Republicans as House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and outspoken GOP Senator Rick Santorum, as well as California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters.

The Dark Wraith has provided this update for citizens concerned not only about ethics in Washington, but also about compliance with the rule of law by the nation's leaders.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Sick military Iraqi death porn

by Pam

John at AmericaBlog has up what has to be some of the sickest sideline action of this immoral war -- alleged soldiers trading photos of dead Iraqis and Afghanis for fun and games. Is this part of some sick military culture that is condoned by Rummy and Co? After all, it's floating out there for all to see on the web -- someone at the Pentagon has to know about this. If they don't, they do now, so John's archived the filth at in case it "disappears."

The soldiers on this site are offering up the death porn in exchange for hardcore porn. Here's just one photo John has up:

It's a burned Iraqi body. Here we have an update on the Abu Ghraib "doing a Lynndie" theme -- the title of it is called "Cooked Iraqi." Uncensored version.

Particularly disgusting is the treatment of a dead woman.
The page titled "Nice puss / bad foot" is devoted to the photo of a nude woman laying down on a table, her foot has been blown off by a land mine, blood, muscle, skin and bone are dangling in its place, and her naked crotch is clearly visible in the photo (thus the reference to "puss").
It's mind-blowing that they are so stupid as to share this heinous crap on the internet - have they learned nothing from Abu Ghraib? I don't doubt this kind of sickness occurs and we just don't find out about it. Witness the stories about soldiers cutting off ears as trophies in Vietnam. It's the underbelly of war - how does one cope with the stress of seeing human beings blown to bits each day? What will the parents of these guys think when some family friend sends them a few linkees to this disgusting site. How is Jr. going to explain this one away? Sick.

Now it's simply broadcast to anyone with a keyboard and an internet connection.

Someone is going to need to confirm or deny the authenticity of these sites -- the Pentagon better think fast.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.


by TheGreenKnight

A number of right-wingers are still claiming that Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard made up or embellished the tale of his friend's mother's death in order to score political points.

The Green Knight, like Mr. Broussard's detractors, has no idea what was going on in Mr. Broussard's mind, or what it must have been like to be in the middle of the worst natural disaster in American history. He, like Mr. Broussard's detractors, was many miles away, in safety and relative comfort. The Green Knight, like Mr. Broussard's detractors, had never heard of Aaron Broussard before his appearance on Meet the Press.

What's surprising to the Green Knight is how Mr. Broussard's detractors nonetheless seem so positive that Mr. Broussard misspoke intentionally, and are furthermore absolutely convinced that they know why. They know, somehow, what is in the mind of a man they've never met or heard of before. To them the explanation is simple: it's all obviously about politics; the notion that some obscure local leader, in the middle of a disaster, who hasn't slept for several days, might just get something wrong for another reason simply does not register as a possibility. They have no way of knowing what was going on in Mr. Broussard's mind; but the default interpretation they fall back on is "slimy Democrat politics."

Sure, that's one possibility. But there are plenty of others. It's just that the right-wing spin machine rejects all the others out of hand.


The Green Knight doesn't know what's going on in the minds of Mr. Broussard's detractors either. He can't say for sure what their motives are. But would it be rude to suggest a few possibilities?

Would it be out of bounds to suggest that the reason these right-wingers immediately suspected Mr. Broussard of exploiting an old woman's death for political gain is that it's the sort of thing they'd do themselves?

Would it be crass to wonder if, hearing that a local official said something strange, they saw nothing more than a chance to defend their darling in the White House by means of misdirection?

Would it be beyond the pale to suggest that they don't actually give a crap about the old woman who died, any more than they did about Terri Schiavo whom none of them had ever met or heard of either?

Would it be unacceptably biased to note that, even faced with the worst natural disaster ever, the only emotion they still seem capable of is politically-motivated scorn mixed with self-righteous outrage?

The Green Knight has no idea. Maybe all of this is wrong. In fact, it probably is wrong. The right-wing bloggers are no doubt all, all honorable men and women in reality. The Green Knight has probably just unloaded a pack of unfair stereotypes on them. No doubt about that, nope, not a bit.

But that's what you get when you start trying to read people's minds, isn't it? Instead of reaching the truth, you just end up recycling the same tired old narratives, the same worn-out assumptions. Instead of honestly saying, "Who knows?" you have to have a familiar, air-tight crime story complete with method, means, and motive by the time the next news cycle runs around. Instead of someone you've never heard of, you have to present a well-known character type playing a well-known role. And instead of seeing and speaking of what's actually knowable, you see and hear only the old broken-down talking points, sent for yet another sputtering trip across the airwaves and around the blogosphere.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Urban Legend

by TheGreenKnight

Anarchy at the New Orleans Superdome! Rape! Murder! Bodies stacked up like cordwood! Black people out of control!

Or, there's reality:
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," [Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas] Beron recalled the [FEMA ]doctor saying.

The real total? Six, Beron said. Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide.
Why did those false stories circulate? Probably several reasons: rumor tends to grow as it's passed from person to person, and in a fearful and confusing situation people imagine the worst. But keep in mind that all urban legends serve some kind of social function. In this case, the rumors of mass brutality served, I'd guess, to prop up several current American myths, including the myth of the dangerous black man, the myth of the nation in decline, and the myth of the vicarious victim.

By "vicarious victim," I mean those who managed to feel personally brutalized while sitting in their living rooms, hundreds of miles away, watching events unfold on television. Having no actual part in the catastrophe, some people apparently decided to feel morally involved by casting judgement on the disappointing behavior of those who were caught in it. And if they had to just make stuff up about them, fine.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.


by Ms. Julien in Miami

This just in (hat tip to Julien's List guest contributor Mario):

President Bush…perjury and corruption charges looming?
Published on 25 September 2005 | Source: Greg Szymanski

Special Analysis Follow-up:
Blackwater USA and a Controversial Former Pentagon IG

by Dark Wraith

Readers here may recall that in the recent article, Let Slip the Mercenaries to Our Shores, presented here on the Big Brass Blog, a point of passing mention was made about a former Pentagon Inspector General, a gentleman named Joseph E. Schmitz:

Blackwater USA contracts with the United States government to provide security forces that primarily protect personnel and shipments moving across regions where conflict is anticipated or on-going. Generally speaking, its personnel have military backgrounds, and the company is but one of many thousands that offer employment to former employees of the Pentagon, creating what has come to be derisively known as a "revolving door" relationship between the military public sector and private sector companies seeking government contracts. Illustrative of this is the recent resignation of Defense Department Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz under a barrage of accusations that he had actively blocked two investigations of criminal activity by senior Bush Administration officials: Mr. Schmitz has taken a position with the parent company of Blackwater USA, the private defense contractor that has now secured security work in New Orleans.
Confirming and extending the overall controversy surrounding Blackwater USA in general, and its appointment of Mr. Schmitz in particular, the LA Times is reporting that Mr. Schmitz " now the target of a congressional inquiry and a review by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, the oversight body responsible for investigating inspectors general, according to the documents and interviews."

For those readers who would care for some further insight that definitely qualifies as side meat but is nonetheless about as juicy as it gets comes the following passage from that LA Times article:
Schmitz comes from a family that is no stranger to controversy. His father was the ultraconservative Orange County congressman John G. Schmitz, who once ran for president but whose political career ended after he admitted having an affair with a German immigrant suspected of child abuse. Schmitz's sister is Mary Kay Letourneau, the Washington state teacher who served more than seven years in prison after a 1997 conviction for rape after having sex with a sixth-grade pupil with whom she had two children. After Letourneau's release from prison, she and the former pupil, now an adult, married each other.

No word has yet come from Blackwater field personnel regarding reaction to the character and quality of new additions to leadership of the paramilitary organization.

The Dark Wraith has herewith delivered follow-up information and context for concerned citizens to consider.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Can we please cut the CRAP...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...of (Un)Intelligent Design, already??

New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory
Pa. Trial Will Ask Whether 'Alternatives' Can Pass as Science

Let's put the fables of the Bible, or whatever your particular "holy" story book is, back in Sunday School (or whatever day is your holy day).

Please folks, don't allow the wing-nuts to dumb down our next generation any more than has already been done by NCLB. The rest of the world is already laughing at us - we have to import our scientists now as it is - let's don't bring religious fables into equality with knowledge that stands up to the scientific method...if we continue to allow this to happen, we are only going further down the yellow brick road.

China, with all of its brilliant minds, scientifically trained, and now holding a HUGE United States debt, looms in our future...

If they take over, whatcha gonna do...PRAY?

Iraqi Women Watch Their Rights Continue to Slip Away...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Every time I think of that f*cker in the WH blubbering "Freedom is on the March" I want to hurl. Pam of Pam's House Blend brings continued coverage on what is happening to women in Iraq under the new "progressive" (as termed by dumbas*es in the Bush admin) constitution:

Iraqi women say freedoms are slipping away

Julien's List posted about thit, on Aug 21:

So, after all the lives lost in Iraq, the US just threw women's rights down the toilet

Pam has also posted this previous coverage on Aug 22:

The Iraq mess and the rights of women

Whether you are a man or a woman, are you not human???? How can anyone sit back in their soccer mom minvan or beamer and NOT CARE a flying f*ck about what is going on - and that we are responsible for it??

Dubya is peeing his pants like the spoiled child he is over his poll numbers (his minions cannot hide them from him now) - so he just wants to get SOME semblance of a constitution - ANY constitution - so he can howl "Meeshon A-complisht" again. I guess once he makes sure that women have no rights at all in Iraq, he can focus on his domestic policy - decreasing to the lowest degree all rights for women in the US.

Ms. Julien

Moderate Repubs promise no 'free pass' on next SCOTUS nominee

by Pam

The NYT has a story today on Republicans that plan to take a hard line on the next SCOTUS pick, to ferret out any nominee that is too far left or right. Clearly the current political climate has humbled some of these boobs on the fringe and emboldened the few moderates that have been sitting at the back of the GOP bus.
..both socially conservative and more liberal Republican senators say they may vote against confirmation of the next nominee if the pick leans too far to the left or the right on prominent issues like abortion rights.

Any Republican defection could provide cover for Democrats who want to oppose confirmation, protecting them politically in Republican-leaning states. Democrats have vowed to dig in for a tough fight over the nominee to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor because she was a pivotal swing vote on the court.

"It is going to be different," said Senator Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island, who is socially liberal and has said he will vote to confirm Judge Roberts. Mr. Chafee said he would apply a more skeptical standard to the next nominee because of the balance of the court and might even oppose a jurist similar to Judge Roberts. "I will be looking very carefully" at the next nominee's views on privacy rights, "separation of church and state," and the scope of federal power, he said.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, a Republican who supports abortion rights and has said she will vote to confirm Judge Roberts, took a similar view. She previously voted to confirm some of Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees who met stiff liberal opposition, like Judge Priscilla R. Owen and Judge Janice Rogers Brown, two people said to be on Mr. Bush's shortlist. But Ms. Snowe said she might not support either one for the Supreme Court.

"This is certainly a different level of evaluation," Ms. Snowe said, "especially because of the balance of power on the court."
This news, of course, has set off shrieking in Freeperland. They would love to bite their rotting fangs into Chafee and Snowe. Some even want to sidle up next to Holy Joe Lieberman for support of a conservative nominee.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

Add together Snowe, Chafee, Collins, and Specter, and we're down to 51 votes. Note that Snowe is telegraphing that the RINO caucus will vote "no" for Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown. She's also decided that a "different standard" applies for the Supreme Court, and hence opened the door for a Democratic filibuster of any nominee approved under the "Gang of 14" deal.

But Brown has already been approved by this Congress. Difficult to say that now she's no good. Snowe be damned. 06 is coming up.

The gray hag never misses an opportunity to drive a wedge between Republicans. Show the world how divided we are....

The President needs to nominate a conservative .... and make it known that with each nominee struck down, the next nominee will even be more conservative!!! Tell them that the first one will be the most moderate... Start with Owen, then go to Rogers Brown, then Luttig. We won this damn election!!!

Sounds to me they are trying to dictate. That is just what the Democrats are trying to do. The President ran on the idea of choosing conservatives and he should stick to it. We have to much judicial activism and now we have legislators trying to circumvent to process and choose for the President.

That's true but Snowe knows what she is doing when she speaks to the NY Times. I think that she's making a real threat, and she may have just enough RINO pals to keep an anti-Roe judge off the Court.

As far as I am concerned, Snowe, Collins, Chafee, and Specter are all definite "no" votes against a solid conservative nominee. So it comes down to John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Warner, George Voinovich, and Mike DeWine. Snowe needs 2 of those 5.

Basically, the Supreme Court Justice will have to pass the "Voinovich Tear Duct Test." [He cried while opposing the nomination of the ambassador to the United Nations (John Bolton) ]

The NY Slimes lies. This story is an assumption disguised as a fact. Once again, the NY Slimes will try to set an agenda. Expect a FAKE POLL to back up their FAKE STORY within the week.

The bigger problem is that we might need 50 votes to invoke the "nucular" option to stop a filibuster. If Republican Senators like Snowe and Chafee aren't willing to confirm a nominee, then I don't see how we get past a filibuster. I just don't think there are 50 Republican Senators willing to do that over a nominee with total 'Rat opposition AND some Republican defectors.

The Republican Party in Maine IS NOT and WILL NEVER BE Conservative. We are virtually a one-party State- that's reality in Maine.

A question we should be asking ourselves for 2006: would our party be in a stronger position WITH 53 votes and WITHOUT Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee, or is it better to have 55 votes and have to listen to this nonsense?

The President ran on the idea of choosing conservatives. Naw he ran on the idea of sticking a stake in the Heart of Reagan's party. Looks like he might make it. If he has the little demons lined up as well as it sounds.

We can even lose one of the worms from Ohio and have the VP break a tie. The President MUST give us the most conservative person he can find. If this works out right we will have at least one of the nelsons voting with us. If it's Ben we win big. We'll beat him anyway and wooden head will be gone because of his vote. This will be close but it need not be a worry. We hold the aces here. All we have to do is act like we do.

Reagan, the great conservative, put O'Conner and Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Two points: 1. Don't forget McPain. 2. Specter had to sell his nuclear option soul to Frist to get the Judiciary chairmanship. I cannot believe that he would go against the majority if this comes to a vote. This assumption was the basis I used for arguing in favor of giving Specter the job - even though we all know the guy is a lefty at heart. We need his vote on the nuclear option.

We don't even know who the nominee is yet. This NY Times article is constructed for the sole purpose of dividing Republicans. If they want to exert pressure on Chaffee and Snowe and their ilk then we must counter with equal pressure on Red State Democrat Senators like Pryor of Arkansas and the Nelsons. We can do it. We have our right-leaning groups that can persuade conservative democrats. We conservativers need to be untied and make sure we let our senators know how we feel. And when the nominee is named, it wouldn't hurt to send some letters to Lieberman and some other Democrats with a quarter of a brain.

Don't forget John Warner. He's retiring in 2008 and will do whatever he feels like. Maybe he can call his ex-girlfriend Barbara Walters over at ABC News for some advice.

I want to tell you that if the RINOS draw a line in the sand on this one, they will lose in a big way. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is a life vs. death issue and a Constitution issue. The wrath of conservatives will hit on all side if Snowe, Chafee, Collins and Specter decide this. They will not know what hit them.

Olympia Snowe is the most popular politician in Maine and according to a recent poll has the highest approval rating of ANY Republican Senator. Losing Jeffords was no loss as his voting record was solidly Left. Snowe and Collins and Chafee and Specter and other Moderates do vote with our Party about half the time, and they allow us to run the Committees. Run them all out, and we'd have maybe 40-45 Senators. Snowe isn't going anywhere.

If you want to reduce her influence, elect more Senators in Red States. Expecting Conservatives in the Northeast is unreasonable and political suicide. Why can't we get Republican Senators in ND, for example?

Vermont - Leahy and Jeffords.
New York - Chuckie and Shrillary
Mass - Mr. Ed and Ted.
Conn - Lieberman and Dodd.

Maine looks pretty good in comparison. Hell, I might even trade DeWine and Voinovich to Maine to get those gals here. At least we'd never see Olympia cry like a little bitch on the Senate floor.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

White supremacists pulled over, bomb found

by Pam

As a reader of my blog, Janean, asked as she pointed me to this article, "What do you think would have happened if these guys had a little color in their skin?" Hmmm. Anyone venture to guess they would have been whisked away for a little Homeland Security hospitality?
Las Vegas police arrested two "admitted white supremacists" during a traffic stop Friday after discovering an explosive device in their vehicle, police said.

Police stopped a 2002 Chevy Blazer at the intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and Marion Drive about 5 p.m. because the vehicle had expired plates. The Blazer's occupants, David Jones, 34, and Darrell Cooper, 22, behaved suspiciously and were asked to exit the vehicle, police said.

The men consented to a police search of the Blazer, which turned up the device, police said. The bomb squad transported it to a remote area where it was "rendered safe," police said.

Jones and Cooper, whom authorities described as "admitted white supremacists," were arrested for possession of an explosive device. Jones, the vehicle's driver, was also charged with transportation of an explosive device and manufacture of an explosive device.

Man Without a Home

by Shakespeare's Sister

If you’re a regular watcher of The Daily Show or Real Time with Bill Maher, you’ve had the fortune of seeing my fellow Hoosier Kurt Vonnegut talking about the current state of the country. He’s been on a book tour, promoting his newest, A Man Without a Country.

The title probably resonates with lots of disenfranchised liberals at the moment, as we all feel the America we want (and believe in) slipping away from us. At home, we don’t recognize our country anymore, this warring beast where contempt for justice and reason slithers through the populace like a virus; abroad, we watch as the separation between the American government and the American people which has always been graciously granted us slowly erodes, and our friends outside our borders wonder how far into the darkness of imperialism, anti-science and fundamental religiosity, and xenophobia we will sink, and whether we can ever recover. We turn our eyes to foreign shores, and see gay marriage and adoptions legalized in many European countries, universal healthcare for every citizen of every other industrialized country, cutting edge stem cell research being done in developing nations, and we feel our country being lost somewhere behind.

This notion of feeling as though perhaps I’d fit in better somewhere else, perhaps I’m not an American anymore because America doesn’t want someone like me, is perhaps my greatest grudge against our current president. It’s shameful that good and patriotic Americans are maligned, branded with treason, simply for having a different view of what America’s future could be. And so I reject the attempts to make me feel unwelcome in my own country, where the rich tradition of liberalism has seen us through our darkest days of slavery, restricting the right to vote to certain people, the Gilded Age of the robber barons, separate but equal, back alley abortions, and other various mistreatments of Americans who were made to feel this wasn’t their country, either.

Yesterday, I saw the following from Kevin Drum:

SKIN NOT FITTING SO WELL THESE DAYS?....George Bush demonstrates his keen sense of leadership:

Bush was all set to fly to the storm area in Texas, where he planned to observe emergency personnel in action at a San Antonio supply depot. But that plan was scrubbed when the emergency operations group was moved closer to the coast.

Instead, Bush wound up going directly to Colorado, where the Defense Department's Northern Command — responsible for domestic troop deployments — is monitoring storm developments.

....Some obvious options for Bush were ruled out. He wouldn't stay in Washington, where demonstrators were massing for a huge protest against the Iraq war. He probably would avoid his ranch near Crawford, Texas, where he was criticized for spending the first few days of Katrina instead of visiting the disaster scene. He would want to show attention to the storm, but not get so close that he could become a distraction to rescue officials.

Poor guy. He's got no place to call home.....

And you know what I thought? Good.

After five years of making those who disagree with him feel as though they aren’t welcome in their own country, after five years of letting his hacks and media operatives denounce his dissenters as traitors, after five years of screaming into the dark about issues that half the country cares about but he feels he does not have to represent or address, good that he has nowhere to go. Perhaps he’ll experience for an awkward day or two what it feels like to be a man who doesn’t feel secure in his surroundings anymore, a man who wonders what happened to the life he used to enjoy. And let us keep up the pressure, camping outside his ranch and the White House, reminding him that we are Americans and we have a voice that matters, too, for the rest of his administration. Let this man who endeavored to turn the opposition in men and women without a country be a man without a home for the remainder of his days as our dubious leader.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Get Your Peace On

by Shakespeare's Sister

Some info on the bit of commotion in DC this weekend, as 500,000 (C-SPAN estimate, via Truthout) pro-peace and/or anti-war protestors (or, approximately 37 nutzoid radicals, if you read most mainstream media coverage) converged to send a message to the Photo Op in Chief.

There’s plenty of coverage around the blogosphere. A couple of recommendations: BradBlog has some more great video and pictures (the above is one of his), Neddie Jingo recounts his experience, and AfterDowningStreet and Progressive Democrats of America have comprehensive coverage.

(Crossposted at Ezra's place and Shakespeare's Sister.)

Where are the Dems?

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Can someone please tell me?

Can we fire all the dems, NOW, please, and start fresh with a nice new party?

Get the LGBTs with their large expendible incomes, and more of the MAJORITY of the people who now oppose this war our Preznut had to lie about to get us into...

AND GET A PARTY THAT WILL GET US OUT OF THE QUAGMIRE WE ARE IN (Liberals and Conservatives are both swilling down the drain, but at least the Liberals realize it...)

THIS is what Democracy looks like...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Thanks to Brad Blog - he has the video footage of the over 150K good citizens who have taken time to travel to DC, and let the idiot in the WH and his entire crony-based, corrupt, PNAC-infested administration know:


Friday, September 23, 2005

So What Are the Dems Up To?

by Shakespeare's Sister

Inspired by the hot discussion going on over a post at Shakes called Bye, Blue?, here’s what the Dems are working on for the 2006 mid-terms, for your consideration:

Senate Democrats have come up with five issue areas that candidates will focus on in the 2006 races, “but are still sorting out who will spearhead each issue and what the overarching message theme will be,” according to Roll Call.

The issues: National security, energy independence, economic strength, retirement security and health care.

“Five different Senators and their chiefs of staff will be designated to lead each effort in what Democratic leaders hope will be a successful repeat of the campaign against President Bush’s plans to overhaul Social Security, an effort led by” Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and his chief of staff.
I like health care as an issue. The reason I like it is because it’s firmly a progressive issue. Even though Bush passed his idiotic, corporate-welfare Medicaid reform bill, I sincerely doubt there’s anyone with two brain cells still knocking around between their ears who believes it was illustrative of a GOP determination to solve the health care crisis in America.

The other four are issues for which it’s necessary that the Democrats have a solid plan and a cohesive, easily-communicated message. But they’re not inspiring, are they? And that’s because they’re Republican issues. The Dems need to provide an alternative agenda on national security, energy independence, economic strength, and retirement security, but when the nebulous terms are reduced into what they really mean—the Iraq War, oil prices, taxes, and social security—it’s readily apparent that this is a reactionary platform. They’re still letting the GOP control the discussion.

Instead of making those the focus, their positions on those issues should be woven into a comprehensive platform, the centerpiece of which is instead five plainly stated progressive issues: nationalized health care, aggressively addressing endemic poverty, engaging global environmental alliances, voting reform, and reforming school funding (as in, schools no longer primarily funded by property taxes, which creates the disparities we see between rich and poor communities).

Or whatever. Those were just the first five off the top of my head. You could substitute broadening workers’ rights and/or family leave, a 21st century civil rights act, securing a Constitutionally protected right to choice, a compulsory national service plan (in which kids out of high school serve for 2 years in the military, the Peace Corps, a domestic emergency response core, whatever)…I mean, it could be anything. Just something new and exciting—something that will make people pay attention and change the discussion. Something that forces the Republicans to come up with an alternative plan for a bloody change. The Left needs to be vital, and there is vitality in new ideas.

Come on, Dems. Give us something about which to be enthusiastic. Finally coming up with your own message on the GOP’s issues ain’t gonna do it.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Katrina Conference Calls

by Shakespeare's Sister

This is pretty amazing. Leading up to Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, local, state, and federal officials held a series of conference calls to discuss emergency plans, evacuations, supplies, coordination, etc. The emergency manager for Jefferson Parish, Walter Maestri, recorded the calls and has given them to NPR.

On the way into work, I heard excerpts from some of the calls, which confirm that the problems were on every level of government. Perhaps the most amazing thing, however, was listening to what I think was the last call before the storm hit, during which Jeff Smith, the deputy director of Louisiana's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (whose role is to coordinate between the Military Department in New Orleans, the Governor's Office, the Legislature, our Congressional staff, State officials, Parish and City officials, Parish Emergency Directors, individual citizens and FEMA), tells them to request everything they need on some computer program designed for that purpose, and they’ll get it. The next call doesn’t happen until Sept. 9, and when Maestri asks where the FEMA generator packs they were promised are, Smith tells him “that’s a good question,” and when Maestri then angrily complains about how FEMA ballyhooed during planning exercises that they would be ready in a moment’s notice but “now that we’re on our knees” they’re nowhere to be found, Smith assures him “there will be time for that kind of rhetoric later.” It’s really unbelievable. NPR’s got all the calls available (or will have soon).

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

This hurricane theory takes the cake

by Pam

Former KPVI-TV weatherman Scott Stevens is a freakshow.

We've heard that homo decadence in NOLA was responsible for Katrina (the jury's still out on what the Right will say is the cause of Rita), or a change in the climate due to global warming, or maybe a cyclical weather pattern, but out in Pocatello, Idaho, a former weatherman knows the real reason --

Hurricane Katrina was caused by the Japanese mafia using a Russian electromagnetic generator.

So not kidding. (
Scott Stevens' last appearance on KPVI-TV was Thursday.

His departure comes after station officials learned a link labeled "Make a Donation" on Stevens' Web site,, where he expounds on his theory, opened a payment form connected to Stevens' KPVI e-mail address.

Stevens believes a little-known oversight in physical laws makes it possible to create and control storms using a Cold War-era weapon allegedly made by the Russians in 1976. The nine-year KPVI weatherman said he's received 120,000 hits on his Web site in two days, now gets about 100 e-mails a day and has 15 radio bookings in the next five days. [Do you think he might have some Freeper fans?]

"I needed more time to do everything that's been put in front of me," said Stevens, 39. "I have not been able to dedicate the 40 hours a week to this place."

Earlier this week, scientists told the Idaho Falls Post Register the theory was bogus. "It's laughable to think it (Hurricane Katrina) could have been manmade," said Rob Young, a hurricane expert at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Wingnut Lou Sheldon unhinged by 'Stealth Homosexual Hate Crimes Bill'

by Pam

How can anyone take this lunatic seriously?

Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition is a whack job who's a little slow on the uptake. He missed the news about the House passing a hate crimes act in a bipartisan vote last week, and he's hopping mad.

The homo agenda, it seems, slipped one in on him. Muuwahahahahahahaha...his hysteria is over the f*cking top!
While the nation’s attention was focused on the Judge John Roberts confirmation hearing and on aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina, pro-homosexual forces in the U.S. House of Representatives snuck through a pro-homosexual hate crimes bill by attaching it to legislation designed to protect children from sexual predators.

Democratic Congressman John Conyers (MI) attached as an amendment, the homosexual hate crimes bill known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the Children’s Safety Act (H.R. 3132) last Wednesday. See how your Congressman voted: GovTrack: H.R. 3132: Children's Safety Act of 2005 Pro-family groups had no prior notice that this was happening.

... the hate crimes law will add “sexual orientation,” “gender,” and “gender identity” to federally protected categories. “Gender identity” is code for transgenders (individuals who think they are the opposite sex, cross-dressers, or drag queens.) If passed, this legislation will provide federal protection for homosexual behavior, placing anal intercourse on a par with race or religion. It will also be used to normalize drag queens, cross-dressers, transsexuals, and she/males (individuals who choose to remain female from the waist up and male from the waist down with the help of hormones).

...This Kennedy-inspired bill is a threat to free speech, freedom of religion, and association. Homosexuality is a behavior, not a fixed identity. It is similar to smoking or drug use, not an immutable characteristic like race or ethnicity. There are no “former” Hispanics or Caucasians, but there are ex-homosexuals. The existence of ex-homosexuals is clear evidence that homosexuality is behavior-based, not an unchangeable characteristic. It should not receive special minority rights protections in federal law.

The persecution of pastors, therapists, and others will be inevitable if the Kennedy hate crimes legislation is passed.
There we go with the "persecution of Christians" meme again. The Freepi are frustrated that it's in a bill that they like.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Talk about a poison pill. If it doesn't pass they can claim that "Republicans are soft on sexual predators.""

"They just keep getting what they want."

"Too bad they wont prosecute the homosexuals, since they must hate themselves to be that way in the first place."

"Hit their pocketbook and they'll take notice. What this country calls "leadership" is no more than a sick group of pansies. I truly hope every Represenative who voted for it gets anal intercoursed for their vote."

"Now this is downright nasty."

"Time to communicate with those who have some influence with the clowns in DC. I want to know how many Republicans voted for this knowingly. It must be taken off the final bill or President Bush has to veto it, or it's all over but the shouting."

"It's not stealth if we all know about it."

"Do we all know about it?"

"And, who is responsible for the failure of any advanced noticed on this? The party that controls the House?"

"Freep the GOP Reps who voted "aye" on special rights for gays"

"In regards to our last debate about the murdered transvestite: Looks like your soluton of punching the guy in the nose will now become a federal crime. Now these perverts will basically get a free pass to trick drunken men into sodomy."

"Giant waste of time writing and calling senators. Didn't they pass this in the previous senate and house never took it up? If it has passed the house, it will sail through this senate. We can sit home in '06 and put the ones who voted for this out of a job, but there won't be anybody to vote for to replace them. Don't think they don't know it.
And here are some Freeper reactions to the original news, "U.S. House backs hate crime measure protecting gays."
"I had better get this off my chest now. Against nature, queer, fag, abomination!"

"If I state that I believe homosexuality to be abnormal and an abomination can I be jailed for hate speech? If I say a two parent heterosexual marriage is superior for raising children can I be jailed?"

"When do they start jailing my pastors for reading from the Bible?"

"Homosexuality is a fetish, not a lifestyle."

"ChiMark you are a homophobe and I support you! Here in MA gays have rights over and above the MAJORITY, what happened to MAJORITY RULES? MA is already okaying sodomy, gay marriage is legal here."

"I don't think Bush will sign anything like that."

"I didn't think a Pubbie-led House would pass it either."


So posting the above picture could soon be a federal "hate crime"?
Oh, give me a break..."

"This is BAD, BAD, BAD. Very, very bad. I am disgusted. The House has stood up to this vileness for some time even though the good ol' boys in the Senate kept shoving it at them. Now the principle-less so-called Republicans have surrendered without a shot being fired. I am steamed, angered, sickened, repulsed, and we need to email, write, call President Bush. He has to veto this. Has to."

"Yea. I can't believe I'm reading this story. Guess they had to one up the Judge that threw God out of the pledge today."

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

More faith-based BS: School Readiness Act allows gays to be fired

by Pam

This is more of the AmTaliban agenda rolling through, opening the door to all kinds of discriminatory nonsense by employers. An Ohio winger tacked on the provision, which is backed by the White House. (
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed an extension of the Head Start early childhood program but an amendment added at the last minute could put the jobs of LGBT education workers at risk.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, aims at improving teacher quality in preschool programs. About 900,000 preschoolers from low income families currently take part Head Start. The extension passed Thursday seeks to increase that to more than 1 million.

The School Readiness Act, which is backed by the White House, passed 231-184 with most Democrats and a handful of Republicans voting against it after an amendment was added that would allow taxpayer funded faith-based organizations to discriminate in employment.

The amendment put forward by Rep. John Boehner (R Ohio) will allow faith-based Head Start providers to hire exclusively on the basis of adherence to a particular religion. The provision could allow an employer to use "religion" as a proxy to fire a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Head Start teacher. The amendment also threatens to override local and state nondiscrimination laws that protect workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The White House backed the amendment to the bill, saying it would protect religious groups from having to "forfeit their religious hiring autonomy."

During debate, Rep. Maxine Waters (D Cal) called the amendment divisive. "A faith-based initiative has no place in Head Start. Don't start the resegregation of America."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Special Analysis:
Questions Surround Frist Blind Trust Stock Sale

by Dark Wraith

From the Washington Post comes the story of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) ordering the manager of the WH Frist 2000 Qualified Blind Trust to unload all of his, his wife's, and his kids' stock in HCA, Inc., otherwise known as Hospital Corporation of America, (NYSE:HCA) shortly before the company issued an earnings report that sent the price of its stock down by 15 percent. Were Mr. Frist to have been privy to insider information, he would have been obligated not to act on that information as a matter of law under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, among other statutory proscriptions against using non-public information in trading of the securities of a public corporation.

Because the HCA stock was held in a blind trust, Mr. Frist would not in principle know exactly what the value nor amount of his holdings of the particular stock were. He has disclosed in public filings that the total worth of his trust holdings is between $7 million and $35 million, and there are indications that the trust was allocated some amount of stock valued at less than $15,000 in hospital companies, but that does not indicate per-share prices of the securities at the time of assignment, nor does it indicate stock of HCA that was included in the original transaction nor stock that was acquired by the trust subsequently.

Mr. Frist may order dispositions from the blind trust, but he may not direct the timings of those dispositions. In practical terms, however, even though the time and nature of the liquidation would be entirely at the discretion of the trustee in most circumstances, he or she would likely understand whether or not there was an urgency to the matter. In general, without the cooperation of a trustee affirming that he or she was pressured to sell stock at a specific time, it would be virtually impossible in many cases to prove that the trustee had responded to a timing directive from a beneficiary.

Questions arise in the case of the WH Frist 2000 Qualified Blind Trust with respect to the liquidation of HCA common stock from the trust portfolio because the order to dispose of the stock was issued by Mr. Frist on June 13, and the execution was completed before the company issued a warning about up-coming, disappointing earnings: the trustee could have waited as long as six months, at his discretion, but chose instead to execute the directive in a timely manner, commencing the liquidation eight days subsequent to HCA common stock reaching a high of $58.22 on June 22. The Washington Post article says that Frist's shares were sold on July 1, and those of his wife and kids were sold on July 8. On July 1, HCA common stock closed at $56.42; on July 8, HCA common stock closed at $54.50.

As of the market close on the day prior to publication of this article, HCA had generally continued to lose ground, dropping $1.35 on September 21, alone, to $47.41 per share, having never fully recovered from the investor sell-off resulting from that July earnings report. The accumulating loss avoided by the Frist blind trust portfolio could be substantial: considering that the sales were executed in the range of $56.42 to $54.50, a rough estimate of the weighted average sell price for his and his family's holdings might be approximately $55.50 per share. with the price now at about $47.50, the avoided losses currently amount to approximately $8.00 per share. If the level of holdings was, say, ten thousand shares (and there is no indication whatsoever that this is the actual figure), Mr. Frist's sell directive saved the trust portfolio from a loss of $80,000.

The concerns about possible insider information having been passed to Sen. Frist center at least to some extent on his family's ties to HCA, Inc. According to The Village Voice, Mr. Frist's father and brother were once officers of HCA. In fact, AP News via reports HCA as the Frist "family's hospital company."

As a side note, the Hospital Company of America is no stranger to scandal: in 2002, HCA reached a $1.7 billion agreement to settle charges of overbilling of the government.

But whether or not the officers and directors of HCA continue to communicate with Frist family members is unclear, although the prior and possibly continuing relationship between Mr. Frist's family and the corporation could be argued to establish specific securities law guidelines on manner, level, timings, and special disclosures of sales of securities owned by Mr. Frist. Specifically, Section 16 of the Securities Exchange Act mandates reports be filed on Forms 3, 4, and/or 5 pursuant to sales of stock by insiders of a public corporation. Other sections of federal securities laws may be relevant, as well, in such transactions. In any event, the determination of whether or not any specific deviation from regulatory requirements was involved in the matter of the HCA stock liquidation by the Frist blind trust would be a matter for securities regulators to determine. As a point of modest comparison, the illicit gains from insider trading that resulted in Martha Stewart serving a prison term were approximately $60,000, although the significance of her punishment resulted largely from charges that she had attempted to conceal aspects of the trade that was alleged to have been executed on insider information.

The case with Mr. Frist and HCA common stock is notably different in a number of ways, perhaps most important among them being the direct connection between members of Frist's family and the corporation that was obligated to keep an earnings report under wraps until all shareholders and prospective investors could know its contents at the same time.

Whether or not Mr. Frist was privy to and used insider information prior to its public promulgation is unknown; but it is clear that those who remained shareholders of the corporation subsequent to the disposition of HCA stock by the WH Frist 2000 Qualified Blind Trust suffered losses that Mr. Frist, his wife, and his children did not.

The Dark Wraith leaves it to the readers of this article to decide the level of outrage appropriate to attach to this incident.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

R.I.P. Molly Yard

by JJ

Well I have gone and done it... Started my own blog!

RIP Molly Yard


SHEEPLE! Wake the F*CK Up! This man is NO "family values" President!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Bush Waives Saudi Trafficking Sanctions

(09-21) 18:40 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

Rest of the story IS HERE. It is just astounding, and it is wrong. And who are the victims?

As many as 800,000 people are bought and sold across national borders annually or lured to other countries with false promises of work or other benefits, according to the State Department. Most are women and children.


by John Howard

National Enquirer: "BUSH'S BOOZE CRISIS"

So, I've seen a lot about this story today, and it's interesting. But, as terrible as it would seem to have a drunk in the White House, it doesn't really worry me all that much. Maybe I'm giving Bush too much credit, but I just don't think he has it in him to be any less competent than he's already been, whether drunk or sober. Maybe if he could be hungover and sleep through pushing some of his ridiculous agenda, or nominating some more ridiculously unqualified people to important positions, then this might actually be a good thing. Sure, it makes America look bad, but that ship sailed in November of 200, and again in 2004, let's just try to get through the next 3 1/2 years with as little damage as possible, and if that means our leader is on a bender, I'm ok with it.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Damned Democrats

by The Heretik


DAMN PATRICK LEAHY FOR VOTING FOR JOHN ROBERTS to be Chief Justice of the United States of America. [story] And damn him for announcing it early to give other Dems cover to do so as well. Some Democrats won't need any cover and might as well walk across the aisle. Right now I am close to having a Dick Cheney Go Fuck Yourself Moment.

SOME DEMOCRATS WILL SAY be reasonable. This is not the time to look extreme. The center cannot hold if it has no substance. Will the next Court nominee get a similar rubber stamp?

A FRIEND INFORMED ME the new Diogenes is looking for a decent Republican. Good luck, Josh Marshall. Currently I am looking for a Democrat. Not the democrat with balls everyone seems to be searching for. I would settle for one with a pulse. Oy


(Crossposted at The Heretik)

George Bush's "Greatest" Accomplishments

by STP

I enjoy presidential history. Over the years, I'd say I have read quite a bit on about twenty-five presidents, and at least something on all of them. I often wonder how history will treat George Bush, and I cannot help but feeling privileged at being able to live through this great man's tenure.

(Silence permeates the air as Scott the Poet looks at his audience sitting with raised eyebrows, open mouths and shaking heads.)

Ok, the feeling that comes to mind is more embarrassment, shame and disgust at having to endure the reign of George Bush, but it's almost the same thing, no?

Anyway, in thinking of what George Bush has accomplished to date, or is on the verge of having put to his name before he leaves us and returns to Crawford to clear brush, get drunk and read "My Pet Goat" sequels, here's a list of things that only a man of George Bush's character, ability and leadership could have accomplished:

1. Not since the Civil War has the nation been this divided. At that time it was necessary to rid the country of the evils of slavery. Now, in large measure, our division is the result of a return to the ideas of separation, isolation, class discrimination, and intolerance by the far right of this country that swept the nation in the years that led to the Civil War. George Bush has been a driving force in this movement.

2. Mission accomplished. Yep, victory was achieved in Iraq, the war that never should have been. Our great war of lies and deception was a stunning success ... oops! Ok, so Iraq is slipping into civil war, the Constitution is a mess that will splinter the country further, the insurgency is growing, terrorism has been brought to a country where it did not previously exist, and puppets have been put into power despite the Iraqi people holding them in low regard.

3. 9/11 brought a complete revamping of our ability to handle a crisis. Oops again! Hurricane Katrina revealed that over the past four years, the federal government is no closer to dealing with a catastrophe then it was before. Funding cuts to FEMA, hirings of completely unqualified, political hacks in key positions and a total disinterest by the leadership of the nation have left the U.S. ill-prepared to avert or react to a crisis situation.

4. Our economy is humming along - if you are stinking rich, of course, but at least someone's singing a happy tune. The rich got major tax cuts, business is getting deals that exceed their wildest dreams and the environment is being plundered. So what if the poor have been abandoned, children are being "left behind," the middle class have been bitch slapped, our natural resources have a "For Sale" sign up, and our national debt has reached new and never-ending heights of irresponsibility. As long as the rich are happy, right?

5. Seizing the moment after the tragedy of 9/11, President Bush was able to call on the sympathies of the world to fight terrorism and unite the world to the cause. Um, well, the world WAS with us. Then Bush lied about Iraq, arrogantly disregarded almost all of our allies and fought a war that had no merit. So we are now hated throughout most of the world, the threat of terrorism has grown and a quagmire is in full bloom in Iraq, at least we've been able to ...

6. ... stop Iran and North Korea in their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Well, North Korea is as belligerent as ever and Iran is not only moving full speed ahead, but is now letting everyone know that their nuclear know-how is for sale. At least, we told them they are members of the axis of evil. That must count for something.

7. It is no easy task to make corruption and lack of ethics the signature mark of an administration. George Bush has accomplished this task on levels that would make Richard Nixon beam with pride. He has allowed companies like Halliburton to run rampant in their business dealings and no-bid, overpriced contract awards. He has promoted and rewarded those who have displayed total incompetence, lack of integrity and disregard for international laws of humanity. The names Rumsfeld, Bremer, Gonzales, Chertoff, Brown, Rice, Negroponte, and Bolton come immediately to mind. The Iraq war and the Downing Street Memos reveal overwhelming evidence of the president's disinterest in the truth and his willingness to violate the Constitution in order to provoke and promote a conflict that should have led to impeachment and conviction for high crimes and misdemeanors.

8. Perhaps in the only example of his ability to do something on behalf of the downtrodden, Bush proved to idiots the world over that "Even they can rise to positions of great power." After all, if a drunken, business failure, with no qualifications to hold office, a disengagement of thought to the world around him, and an inability to see beyond his stubborn set of warped principles can be president, there is no telling what other idiots can do if they put their (little) minds to it.

9. President Bush has made former President Reagan look engaged. Don't dismiss this one. It is not an easy task to make Reagan appear to have been interested in what was going on around him by comparison, but Bush does this with grace and ease. Unless it is his next scheduled vacation or a chance to score some dope, one can't find a more disengaged individual. Well done, Mr. President.

10. Almost 30 months remain in the Bush presidency. Let's leave this one blank for now as there is still ample time for more displays of Bush "leadership and accomplishment" in a form that only an oaf of the scope of our head chimp could be proud of.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

You may have to remove the 'dry' from dry drunk

by Pam

Bruise from the "pretzel choke incident."
"The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him - but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months. The war in Iraq, the loss of American lives, has deeply affected him. He takes every soldier's life personally. It has left him emotionally drained. The result is he's taking drinks here and there, likely in private, to cope.And now with the worst domestic crisis in his administration over Katrina, you pray his drinking doesn't go out of control."
-- unnamed Washington source about the Chimperor falling off the wagon
Oh boy. Blender Cat pointed me to this National Enquirer piece on the Chimp being back on the sauce. Normally, of course, people dismiss the Enquirer because they pay sources, but more often than not, its reporting on high-profile people turns out to be true, particularly regarding politicians (Clinton/Lewinsky, Gary Hart/Donna Rice) and celebrities (Whitney Houston and cocaine) -- and just about anyone that's been outed. It's just that the MSM won't touch the stories because they cannot get anyone to go on the record or get independent verification. What do you think -- BS or the real deal?
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal. Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.

U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan share a toast at a luncheon at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, September 14, 2005.

Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.

...Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time, Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on Dubya, the sources add.

"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: "Stop George!"

...Bush is under the worst pressure of his two terms in office and his popularity is near an all-time low. The handling of the Katrina crisis and troop losses in Iraq have fueled public discontent and pushed Bush back to drink.

...Another source said: "I'm only surprised to hear that he hadn't taken a shot sooner. Before Katrina, he was at his wit's end. I've known him for years. He's been a good ol' Texas boy forever. George had a drinking problem for years that most professionals would say needed therapy. He doesn't believe in it [therapy], he never got it. He drank his way through his youth, through college and well into his thirties. Everyone's drinking around him."

Another source said: "A family member told me they fear George is 'falling apart.' The First Lady has been assigned the job of gatekeeper."

Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush On The Couch: Inside The Mind Of The President, told The National Enquirer: "I do think that Bush is drinking again. Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great.

"I think it's a concern that Bush disappears during times of stress. He spends so much time on his ranch. It's very frightening."
See this earlier Blend post about Justin Frank's book, which I've read. If even a fraction of what he says is on the mark, we'll be lucky to survive the next few years before the psycho is finally out of power.

Gawker and Wonkette also give some time to this one.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Visual on the numbers - money spent on Iraq

by Ms. Julien in Miami



Case in point: Can anyone answer THIS QUESTION??

The caption says it all

by Pam

Via Just piling on after Ms. Julien's post.

Lynndie England 'did it for love'

by Pam

Pathetic. Her boyfriend, the sadist bastard Graner, is doing 10 years in prison -- and get this -- he's since married another woman that was Graner to ten years in prison earlier this year, and get this -- since his incarceration he has married another woman who pleaded guilty in the scandal.

I just don't want to hear any more about "depraved" gay folks being ruled by their "impulses" from the bible beaters.
Isolated amid the chaos and often bizarre life inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Lynndie England posed in now notorious abuse photographs because she loved and trusted the scandal ringleader, her lawyer said at the start of her court-martial.

England, 22, who was pictured holding a leash to a naked Iraqi prisoner, was lured into posing for the photographs that caused worldwide outrage by Charles Graner, the father of her baby, said military attorney Capt. Jonathan Crisp.

"What mattered to her was her relationship to Corp. Graner," said Crisp, who added that Graner was her superior officer, was 14 years older than England and had worked as a prison guard.

"She thinks: 'I love him, he loves me, he's not going to do something to hurt me,'" Crisp said in opening arguments.

The Army reservist faces a maximum penalty of 11 years in jail if convicted on all seven counts on charges of conspiracy, maltreatment of subordinates and indecent acts.
See earlier post on my blog, Lynndie England pleads guilty, and surprise - top brass get away

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

PA wingnuts: ban Gay-Straight Alliance or face God's wrath

by Pam

This happened in Little Ricky Santorum's state. An unhinged AmTaliban couple mouthed off bible versus and promising disaster would befall their little slice of heaven if the school board continues to allow Gay-Straight Alliances.

They get bonus points using Katrina to bolster their case and for reading propaganda from the American Family Association about "ex-gay" ministries. (Lebanon Daily News):
A local couple addressed the Cornwall-Lebanon school board last night with a demand for the abolition of the high school’s Gay/Straight Alliance, asserting that Hurricane Katrina was retribution for homosexual behavior.

...Carl and Abigail Jarboe claim the alliance encourages homosexuality. “We shouldn’t tell them (students) it’s acceptable behavior. It’s not acceptable behavior,” Abigail Jarboe said.

In their most shocking claim — one that drew dumbfounded stares from the board — Abigail Jarboe suggested that Hurricane Katrina may have been God’s way of punishing New Orleans in advance for a large, homosexual event that was scheduled to held shortly after the storm hit the Louisiana city.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” she said.

The Jarboes, who say their opposition to “sodomites” comes from their strong Christian faith, gave the board several examples of people who have left the homosexual lifestyle in an attempt to prove that being gay is a conscious choice people make.

While the board listened patiently and politely, Carl Jarboe handed out an article from the American Family Association Journal that told the story of a young girl who claimed she stopped being a lesbian after becoming a Christian. The story said that part of the reason the girl became homosexual in the first place was her involvement in an organization that supported homosexual and transsexual youth. “These clubs promote this behavior,” Carl Jarboe said.

Abigail Jarboe continued where her husband left off, citing three individuals she said she has known who have make a choice to stop being gay. She also said the school promotes homosexual activity — which she called an “abomination” — by allowing the Gay/Straight Alliance to exist.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Corporations and straight folks support workplace equality for lesbians and gays

by Pam

Findings from fourth annual the latest national Out & Equal Workplace Summit survey are going to be presented in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, and the news is good -- if you're not a right-wing asshat. This should make some Freeper heads explode. (Harris Interactive/Witeck-Combs Communications):
* 76% of heterosexual adults strongly agree that employees should be measured by their job performance, not their sexual orientation

* More than half (55%) of heterosexual adults feel that regardless of sexual orientation, all employees are entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses.

The survey also shows that in the last three years, heterosexuals and LGBT adults increasingly consider diversity to be an important factor when deciding which company to work for.

* Nearly seven out of 10 (69%) heterosexuals consider it extremely or very important that a company offer equal health insurance benefits for all employees, compared to 57 percent in 2002.

* Fifty-seven (57%) of heterosexuals consider it extremely or very important that a company have a written non-discrimination policy that includes race, ethnicity, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability, compared to only 43 percent in 2002.

* Almost nine out of 10 (88%) LGBT adults consider it extremely or very important that a company have a written non-discrimination policy that includes race, ethnicity, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation and disability, compared to 66 percent in 2002.

* More than eight out of 10 (81%) LGBT adults consider it extremely or very important that a company offers equal health insurance benefits for all employees, compared to 71 percent in 2002.

“Regardless of how Americans feel about LGBT issues, majorities still support fair treatment for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender peers in the workplace,” said Selisse Berry, executive director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “Employers are demonstrating leadership in providing parity for LGBT people, helping all employees understand the value of diversity in the workforce.”

In addition, the survey also found that LGBT adults are more comfortable with “being out” at the workplace today as compared to 2002 when the same survey questions were asked for the first time.

* Sixty-nine percent (69%) now report that they are comfortable – including those saying “extremely comfortable” (31%), “very comfortable” (13%) and “comfortable” (25%) – discussing their “after work” social life, including details about who they share time with, such as spouses, dates, friends or partners in their current or most recent job, compared to 53 percent overall – including those who said “extremely comfortable” (11%), “very comfortable” (24%) and “comfortable” (18%) – who said this in 2002.
The online survey involved 2,242 U.S. adults, six percent self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).


Also released is the Human Right Campaign 2005 Corporate Equality Index, which "rates Fortune 500 and other major companies on a scale from zero to 100 percent on seven key indicators of fair treatment for GLBT employees. Indicators include policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as equal health care benefits." Some of these findings:
* A record 101 companies score 100 percent, which is attributed to a sharp increase in gender identity non-discrimination policies. In 2002, only 13 companies earned a perfect rating.

* Today, 5.6 million people work at the 101 companies that score 100 percent. In 2002, approximately 690,000 people were employed by the 13 companies that scored 100 percent.

* Eighty-one percent of scored companies offer health benefits to the domestic partners of employees, up from 70 percent in 2002.
100 percent ratings: companies that fully support workplace equality for LGBT employees
-- Prudential Financial
-- IBM
-- defense giant Raytheon (a first for its industry)
-- BP and Chevron (the first oil companies to hit this mark)
-- Dow Chemical -- also the first in its industry to do so
-- Citigroup
-- J.P. Morgan Chase
-- Met Life, which touts its 100 rating in a press release

Black hat corporations -- shown to be actively working against equality include:
* Emerson Electric with a 29 percent score
* Entergy with 36 percent
* Exxon Mobil with 14 percent
* Perot Systems with a 14 percent score.

In electronics retail:
-- Best Buy offers full protections to GLBT employees
-- Circuit City holds a 43 percent score
-- Radio Shack scores only a 29 percent rating.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Check Out What the FBI Thinks....

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...about the infamous PORN SEARCH:

(Hat tip Tierion Chief - reader over at AmericaBLOG)

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

A few of the printable samples:

"Things I Don't Want On My Resume, Volume Four."

"I already gave at home."

"Honestly, most of the guys would have to recuse themselves."
"Based on a review of past successful cases," the memo said, the best odds of conviction come with pornography that "includes bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." No word on the universe of other kinks that helps make porn a multibillion-dollar industry.
Entire story is HERE.

Quoting Holly: *snort

Quoting 'Bean: Feh!

Cross-posted over at Julien's List

The Amazing Fristini

by Shakespeare's Sister

You know, I just get more and more awestruck by the impressive and mysterious powers of Bill Frist. First, he apparently managed to conjure a medical license for himself out of thin air, since he obviously didn’t attend medical school. Then, he did what others thought impossible—diagnosed a serious and complicated medical condition just by looking at someone on a videotape! (Sure, he was wrong, but let’s not quibble with inscrutability of magic.) Frist's latest trick may, however, be his most impressive. Granted, he is a hideous, useless, Republican hack, but I challenge even the most hardcore Lefty moonbats to not be impressed by his powers of prognostication. Only a great magician of Frist’s stature could have portended a 15% drop in the stock value of his own family's hospital corporation, and only (dare I say?) a great prophet would have known to sell not only every last one of his own shares, but his wife’s and children’s, too, two weeks before that price drop. Now that is some amazing shit.

If any of you clever legal types are worried that the Amazing Fristini might face insider trading charges, don’t you worry your pretty little heads. Bush installed a crony to head the SEC, too (after Congress unanimously approved his nomination), so our magic man is safe. Frist will never get fucked by Cox. That ain’t the way the Republicans swing, baby.

(Hat tip AMERICAblog.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Confucius Say...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...he who try to play both side of fence end up falling on crotch.

ByArianna Huffington, via Common Dreams:

Bill Clinton's Muddled Attempt to Own the Middle

Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has tried out a variety of positions: Elder Statesman, Prolix Memoirist, King of the Public Speakers, Hospital Bed Campaign Advisor, First Husband-in-Waiting, Disaster Fundraiser, Global Visionary.

But judging from his latest TV appearances, he seems to have landed on a brand new incarnation: Equivocator-in-Chief.

Forget all the nonsense you might have heard about the former president taking on the current one (Drudge linked to a story calling it "a withering attack" and right-wing blogs followed suit) -- in truth, he consistently played both sides of the fence.

On a variety of key issues -- especially Iraq and Katrina -- instead of offering clarity and leadership, he offered a steady stream of have-it-both-ways, “on the hand… and on the other” reasoning.

Let’s start with the Katrina relief effort. After spending the early days of the catastrophe providing cover for Bush (including making the ludicrous claims that the flooding of New Orleans could not have been foreseen, and that we could not make any judgments on the response without being there), he belatedly decided to cast a discerning eye on the administration’s woeful handling of the disaster. “You can’t have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up,” he told George Stephanopoulos. True, but not exactly “withering”.

And he took a page out of the GOP playbook by spreading the blame around, pointing the finger for the lack of an effective evacuation plan squarely where it belongs: uh, everywhere. “Maybe the mayor, maybe the governor,” he said when asked who was responsible. And maybe the dog catcher too.

Of course, this is the same guy who 13 days earlier had adopted the administration’s talking points and counseled against playing the blame game, saying “I don’t think we should do it now”.

This too-little-too-late criticism smacks of the worst kind of bandwagon hopping -- and a transparent attempt to placate Democratic anger at his shilling for Bush. Not exactly leadership in action.

The Equivocator-in-Chief was equally all over the map when it came to Iraq...........

.................the rest is HERE.

Ouch! Kinda reminds ya of "Don't ask, don't tell", doesn't it? Another wishy-washy reasoning that has certainly comprimised our military.

Crossposted on Julien's List.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Breaking: Benedict to approve gay seminarian ban

by Pam

"If this is true, it's a disaster. I know many celibate gay priests who feel they could not live with any integrity in a church that treats gay men like this. And I know many gay seminarians who have been living celibate lives with ease, who would simply leave."
-- a gay priest, who asked not to be named, in a Newsday article
What a f*cking criminal enterprise. He's the head of a church that conspired to hide the mass molestation of children. This man is going to be responsible for the destruction of his own church.

His document will state that all gay men have a personality disorder which disqualifies them from serving. This is complete bullsh*t. And what will the "test" be to rule out the homos?

I hope that Ratzi's happy when 1) all the good gay priests get out, 2) all the heterosexual pedophiles keep on destroying the lives of children, 3) there aren't enough men willing to serve in the priesthood because of this unfair, ignorant witch hunt; and 4) American Catholics shut their wallets.

From Catholic World News, which Newsday reports, is "an independent news service with links to the pope's American publisher." (
Pope Benedict XVI has given his approval to a new Vatican policy document indicating that men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained as Catholic priests.

The new document-- which was prepared by the Congregation for Catholic Education, in response to a request made by the late Pope John Paul II in 1994-- will be published soon. It will take the form of an "Instruction," signed by the prefect and secretary of the Congregation: Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Michael Miller.

So Father Mychal Judge, the hero priest who died in the ruins of the World Trade Center ministering sacraments to fallen NYFD, was unfit to have been a priest in the eyes of Benedict?

The text, which was approved by Pope Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their condition suggests a serious personality disorder which detracts from their ability to serve as ministers.

Priests who have already been ordained, if they suffer from homosexual impulses, are strongly urged to renew their dedication to chastity, and a manner of life appropriate to the priesthood.
And from the Newsday piece:
"I believe it would have a strong impact, but I'm afraid it would be negative," said the Rev. Donald Cozzens, a former seminary rector who wrote a book several years ago describing how the priesthood "is, or is becoming, a gay profession."

"The number of seminarians is already dramatically down from 40 years ago," Cozzens said. "This may make the situation even more dire than it already is. And I'm also concerned that it might drive out men who might be destined to give very fine service to the church."

Also critical is how the directive is enforced, a process likely to vary from seminary to seminary.

"How one goes about making these determinations will be key," said John-Peter Pham, a papal scholar at James Madison University. "In some places, I could see witch hunts and anonymous accusations. In others, I'm sure it will simply be observed in the breach, much like the ban on contraceptives."
In other, related news, our government seeks protection for Ratzi from prosecution for covering up molestations. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston covered up abuse with his help during the mid-1990s...
The United States government has told a Texas court that Benedict should be given immunity from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian, court documents show.

Assistant attorney general Peter Keisler said in Monday's filing that, as pope, Benedict enjoys immunity as the head of a state - the Vatican. He said allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be "incompatible with the United States' foreign policy interests".
And while we're on the morality tip, how about this Vatican action:
War crimes chief accuses Vatican.

Pope Ratz photo illustration by "evilgenius" Doug at Reality Stick.

Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, has said she believes Gen Ante Gotovina is hiding in a monastery in Croatia.

Ms del Ponte's spokeswoman told the BBC News website that the Vatican had refused to help in the search for him, despite being in a position to do so...Ms del Ponte wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in July this year in an effort to secure the Vatican's co-operation, her spokeswoman told the BBC News website.

The Pope has yet to reply to the prosecutor's request for a meeting, the spokeswoman said. Ms del Ponte earlier told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph she believed Gen Gotovina was "hiding in a Franciscan monastery and so the Catholic Church is protecting him".

"I have taken this up with the Vatican and the Vatican totally refuses to co-operate with us," she said.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Bush Administration Strategy

by John Howard

As grossly incompetent as our current administration is, they seem to be really good at getting away with that incompetence. And the last few weeks, I've realized how it is they do that. It's actually really simple, but complex in its simplicity. It seems that the strategy, or strategery, if you will, is to do so many things so badly that it's impossible to focus on just one.

Let's take the last six months or so for example. First, we had The Downing Street Memo, which was obviously pretty bad for Bush, and really gave some independent evidence to something most of us knew all along, which is that he wanted to invade Iraq from the beginning, and didn't care what he had to do to accomplish it. Well, just when that story really starts to take off, it gets derailed by the Plame investigation and Karl Rove. Now obviously these two stories are directly related and really shouldn't be separate at all, but it's still hard for people to concentrate on so much at once. So, just when it looks like Rove is fucked, and Bush McClellan is getting hammered every day about the inconsistencies with the administration's position on the leak, Bush does what incompetent people do when they have a problem, he runs away. And not just for a few days, but for over a month. Of course, the press can't be bothered to continue to pursue the story, since it's hot in Texas and all, and anyway Bush invited them to a barbeque. Anyway, while he's on vacation hiding from his other problems, here comes Cindy Sheehan figuratively knocking on his door. And instead of going out to talk to her, and making the problem go away quickly, he refuses to see her, and therefore creates a big story. Sure, it makes him look bad, but he has his disciples smearing her name to take a little heat off and meanwhile, no one is even thinking about Karl Rove anymore. So, just when this whole mess is really getting some traction, and bringing some much needed focus to the clusterfuck in Iraq, along comes Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans. Now, Bush doesn't control the weather, but he knows how to answer the door when oppurtunity knocks. Obviously, anyone who gave a shit would immeadiately cancel any other plans (including vacationing, playing guitar, and eating cake) and get back to Washington to handle this. However, if he does that, the story may go away too quickly for everyone to forget about Sheehan or Rove (he's already pretty effectively wiped the Downing Street Memo off the board), so he has to drag this one out, to give everyone some new lowlight to focus on. And he really hits the ball out of the park with this one. It's a good thing he had previously put incompetent people in charge of things like this, otherwise they may have been able to handle it properly even without him. So, that's good planning on his part. And of course, he still has his disciples deflecting blame just enough so he can ride this out until another oppurtunity for him to display his gross incompetence comes along, then everyone will move on to that one, and eventually Cindy Sheehan, Valerie Plame, Karl Rove, and even Katrina will be forgotten, at least as they relate to George Bush and any accountability for him personally.

Now, I hope he's wrong, and just maybe with the hurricane he may have overplayed his hand. But all in all, this incompetence thing has worked well for him in the past. Unfortunately, it's the rest of us that have to pay the price for it.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Uh Oh - Here Come the Porn Police

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Consenting adults beware (oooohh, Bubba's gonna be pee-issed...). I know we have a raging deficit and a never-ending war in Iraq. I know we face a MAJOR rebuilding effort in the Gulf Region. We have another major storm raging in South Florida and the Keys. Millions of people do not have health insurance (or have to pay thousands a year for it). Our country is facing embarrassment at the exposure of our underbelly - the massive amount of poor who are ignored by the Feds.

But what is our FBI now going to put its MAJOR focus on? Yep - porn.

Hat tip AmericaBlog:

Porn is a top priority for the Bush Department of Justice.
by Joe in DC - 9/20/2005 09:47:00 AM

The Bush Administration is obsessed with sex. Now, the FBI is building a porn squad:
The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Hey, it's not like they have anything else to do. And, this isn't about child porn or anything that's illegal. They are talking about "the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults."

So all you Red State guys need to know: The Bush team wants your porn.
Glad our priorities are straight, folks. I guess with the sinking poll numbers, Bush has to pander to one of his last major support groups - the wacko fundies who, actually, quite like porn also.

Crossposted on Julien's List


by Shakespeare's Sister

Even though Bush’s catastrophically unqualified FEMA chief, Mr. Arabian Horseman, had to resign in disgrace after the nation saw his deadly incompetence revealed for exactly what it was, Bush evidently remains determined to staff his entire administration with hacks. The WaPo reports that the most pertinent qualifications his nominee to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency seems to have are being the niece and daughter-in-law of two other administration hacks.
After working as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y., for two years, [Julie Myers] held a variety of jobs over the past four years at the White House and at the departments of Commerce, Justice and Treasury, though none involved managing a large bureaucracy. Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.

Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.

Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday.
And guess what? She’s probably going to be appointed, because Liebertwat’s the ranking Dem on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and he thought Brownie had “particularly useful experience” and was “glad” he had been nominated.

With Dems like these, who needs Republicans?

(Thanks for the tip, Ace.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Uh Oh

by Shakespeare's Sister

The administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which handles procurement policy for the White House's Office of Management and Budget, has been arrested on a three-count indictment. David Hossein Safavian has been charged with making false statements to a GSA ethics officer and the GSA-OIG, along with obstruction of a GSA-OIG investigation. Josh at Talking Points Memo has the scoop.

UPDATE: Atrios has some more fun facts...
[Safavian is] also, well, another hack with no experience in his field.

Mr. Safavian's wife? Oh, that's Jennifer Safavian. Her job? Chief counsel on oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee.

Their latest job? Heading up the sham Katrina investigation...

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Bush the Unpopular and His Idiot Core

by Shakespeare's Sister

Political Wire:
A new Survey USA tracking poll suggests a "can't win" dynamic is unfolding for President Bush as he struggles to deal with the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"The number of Americans who now approve of the President's response to Hurricane Katrina is down: 40% today compared to 42% before he announced the Gulf Opportunity Zone" in a speech last week. "The number of Americans who disapprove of the President's response to Katrina is up: 56% today compared to 52% before the speech."

Key point: "The more cash President Bush throws on the fire, as compensation for what some see as an inadequate initial response, the more it antagonizes his core supporters."
Which just further reinforces my belief that the key attribute shared by Bush’s core supporters, be they anti-taxers, social conservatives, blood-lusting warmongers, or some ugly combination thereof, is a complete lack of understanding about what government is meant to do. And not just America’s government, or even just democratic governments, but all governments, each of which has a responsibility to protect and provide for its people. Every government defines those goals differently and meets them with varying degrees of success, and even within a nation’s population, we see different interpretations; in the US, conservatives tend to construe “protect” with heavy defense and individual property rights overtones, whereas liberals tend to lean toward allied relationships/diplomacy and social safety net considerations. Nevertheless, when an entire metropolis is lost, the government’s responsibility to protect and provide must kick into action.

People on either side should be able to agree that the Gulf Coast can’t just be left the way it is, and that it’s going to cost money that we have to spend. Many liberals feel that money should have been spent on preventative measures rather than chopped out of a budget to help pay for tax cuts, but either way, NOLA needed and needs help, so it was a pay then or pay later (or pay a little more then, a little less later) scenario. Bush’s core supporters, of course, seem to want a don’t pay then, don’t pay later, don’t pay ever, and keep giving us tax cuts kind of program, which is patently absurd. Just how absurd? If we left such decisions up to them, the trapped victims they’re so fond of blaming for not evacuating would have been joined by the rest of the population of New Orleans, since it’s pretty hard to leave if there are no roads. And hey—those evacuees wouldn’t have had so many problems if they’d only gotten a better education, although that would have been pretty hard for everyone if there were no schools. Etc.

Of course The-Government-Never-Gave-Me-Shit Brigade doesn’t understand government, and gets mad at President Sideshow for giving money toward the Gulf Coast’s reconstruction. Only someone who doesn’t understand the first thing about government could claim that they’ve never benefited from its obligation to protect and provide, or could suggest that no one else should.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

PowerLine Smackdown

by Shakespeare's Sister

Jesse rules. Although I can’t decide if it’s more for titling his post taking down the PowerLine spunkstains “Stupid Shits,” so blunt and accurate, yet humorous, or for the introduction to the post:
PowerLine may be the dumbest sacks in the history of dumb sackdom. It's not just that they're dumb sacks, it's that they're dumb sacks the threads of whose existence are drawn from high-dumbass worms found in rare and near-impassable mountains, spun by monks of shitheadery trained by years of watching nothing but Power Rangers reruns and old episodes of Hannity and Colmes. It is a rare and rich brand of stupidity that must be both scorned and admired, lest it fall into the annals of history, its true face unrecognized.
Sheer brilliance. And his conclusion is just as spot-on. A definite must-read.

(Tangentially, Paul the Spud offers a great post on Clinton's taking on Bush, too.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Posse Comitatus: going down in a blaze of glory?

by Pam

On my drive home from work on Friday, NPR was broadcasting a piece on the effort by the Bush administration to revisit the Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents the military from being deployed in a law enforcement capacity domestically.

It was enacted after the Civil War to prevent federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states, but it has been an issue that fires up the militia/survivalist/fringe Right crowd, who have pointed to various incidents (Ruby Ridge, Branch Davidians) as a sign that the government is bloodthirsty in its contempt of the Act.

Bush's speech on Thursday started raising hackles on the Right when he said the military is "the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice." In this case, a repeal of this Act would give the already criminal, incompetent, meglomaniacal Bush Administration even more power to f*ck the country up under the guise of "caring" for the sheeple. Sounds familiar?

Karl Rove, after all, revealed in an off-the-record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend that the Katrina mistakes were simply a problem of the feds not being able to override the local government.

I wonder how much support there will be in Congress for this. After all, they rolled over and played dead for The Patriot Act, all because of fear, ignorance and laziness. (AP):

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is reviewing a wide range of possible changes in the way the military could be used in domestic emergencies, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday. He said these included possible changes in the relationship between federal and state military authorities.

...Di Rita said Rumsfeld has not made recommendations to Bush, but among the issues he is examining is the viability of the Posse Comitatus Act. Di Rita called it one of the "very archaic laws" from a different era in U.S. history that limits the Pentagon's flexibility in responding to 21st century domestic crises.

Another such law, Di Rita said, is the Civil War-era Insurrection Act, which Bush could have invoked to waive the law enforcement restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act. That would have enabled him to use either National Guard soldiers or active-duty troops - or both - to quell the looting and other lawlessness that broke out in New Orleans.

The Insurrection Act lets the president call troops into federal action inside the United States whenever "unlawful obstructions, combinations or assemblages - or rebellion against the authority of the United States - make it impracticable to enforce the laws" in any state.

The political problem in Katrina was that Bush would have had to impose federal command over the wishes of two governors - Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi - who made it clear they wanted to retain state control.
I was wondering what the Freepi were thinking of this little move by their demi-god in the White House. They are not happy -- some are turning on one another.

Actual Freeper Quotes

"The failures at the state level should not be solved at the federal level. Alabama and Mississippi handle Katrina well, it was the Louisiana State government that failed. Regardless, I don't want to see the National Guard in a foreign country, and the US military in our streets."

"Calm down...they're just continuing to lay the foundation for the Police State 1984 style. Don't worry. I'm here from the government and I'm here to help."

"Slippery sloap... alert!"

"I knew this bullchit was coming...thanks to an absolute incompetence of the lousyana dembos"

"I strongly suspect the Pentagon's lawyers will seek to limit any changes to the Posse Comitatus themselves. We in the military don't WANT to be the police. We don't train to be police officers and don't want to. To put soldiers who don't train for policing in policing roles is as dangerous a situation for the soldiers as it is for the civilians. If we'd wanted to be police officers, we'd have joined the police."

"The Possee Comitatus Act should be left the way it is... the only thing that needs to be changed are the people in charge of the cities and state of Louisiana."

"If they want to patrol the borders, I'm all for it, but you just can't trust the gubmint."

"The Dims will raise a great cry against this in an attempt to style themselves defenders of liberty."

"The only solution to anything seems to be more power to the government. Someone is enjoying this crap!"

"They told 70 y/o Patricia Konie,"We are here to help you" before they tackled her, disarmed her, and drug her out of her stocked house to a 2.5x6 foot cot."

"If I were still in the military and I saw another soldier confiscating a gun from a civilian, I would shoot the soldier, shoot to kill. I don't think I'm the only one. Perhaps it would even be legal to do that."

"And not to worry: the Republicans won't let this happen . . . heh-heh."

"If the law is amended to allow the military to perform law enforcement it will be a bad day for the nation. One of these day the republicans will loose to the democrats and I fear the use of the military and the patriot act powers by people who will use them to go after conservative groups.The lack of exposure of how the Clintons went after the right using then existing powers is leading to this. No one is afraid of a Hillary presidency with her having the powers of the Patriot Act II. Its my nightmare."

"At least he understands what happened in NO. The Constitution was shredded and pissed on by every governmental agency imaginable."

The Dims will raise a great cry against this in an attempt to style themselves defenders of liberty.

"Well at least somebody will. I don't care what letter they have by their name. Anyone supporting this possible action by the administration can't be considered conservative by any sense of the word"

"Is it just me, or is every single thing all the lawmakers are proposing lately -- particularly Bush -- NORMALLY immediately followed by the phrase 'in direct confrontation with the explicit wishes of the founding fathers'????"

"This act needs to be strengthened, not weakened. When the military turns to domestic law enforcement we're on a short road to a police state."

"Well, if this sterling patriot advocates shooting US troops carrying out a legal order (yes, disarmament can be a legal order in a declared disaster zone).....I'm sure he'd be welcome over at Aryan Nation."

"Is it just me, or is every single thing all the freepers are proposing lately -- NORMALLY immediately followed by the phrase 'in direct confrontation with the explicit wishes of the founding fathers'???? The Bush administration and this site are losing it."

"On the other hand, the enemy has already infiltrated the nation, with our open borders and non-enforced immigration laws. What the hell do we have to lose either way?"

"I predict that a great many FR posters will support the idea."

"You remember when this site was dedicated to the support of the Constitution? It is now a haven of Bill O'Reilly goose stepping morons."
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Christian Coalition fading fast

by Pam

Well-lacquered current Christian Coalition head Roberta Combs is trying to pick up the pieces.

That's the title of the article in South Carolina's paper, The State. And it's a pitiful tale of how far the once-mighty organization has fallen since Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed flew the coop.
Rocked by financial debt, lawsuits and the loss of experienced political leaders, the Christian Coalition has become a pale imitation of its once-powerful self.

Some say the group — now based in Charleston and headed by a South Carolinian — is on life support, having been eclipsed by higher-profile, better-funded groups such as Focus on the Family. “The coalition as we knew it doesn’t exist,” says Lois Eargle, former chairwoman of the Horry County Christian Coalition.

The 16-year-old organization once was a political juggernaut. But it has been in steady decline since it lost one of its most effective national leaders, executive director Ralph Reed. Reed left in 1997 to form his own political consulting firm in Atlanta. “He was a great media figure, able to convey his particular message,” says Corwin Smidt, professor of political science at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts school in Michigan. “But he was also a very bright young man and was able to articulate and make arguments effectively on behalf of the coalition.

“Today, the coalition doesn’t have anyone of that caliber. Once Reed left, the organization never recovered.”
As the piece says, much of the religious right power base has flocked to James Dobson's rancid organization as the Christian Coalition has had to fight off lawsuits, further depleting the coffers.

One interesting suit that it settled out of court was a discrimination suit by CC black staffers in 1999. They filed a $39 million racial discrimination suit against the Christian Coalition, alleging the administration forced them to use a separate entrance at its headquarters. The CC paid out $300,000 to the employees. How Christian of them.

After Reed saw this organization flagging, he bolted, and Roberta Combs took over as national executive director. She had previously headed the coalition’s South Carolina chapter, and the HQ relocated to the state. Robertson stepped down as coalition president in February 2002, again Combs took over.
“It hurt fund-raising,” she says of Robertson’s departure. “There’s never enough money.”

The coalition is looking for a media spokesman — someone of Reed’s caliber — to be a talking head on the television news shows and to put the organization back on the map.

“We have not had a media spokesman for a good while now,” says Drew McKissick, a Columbia-based political consultant and coalition activist. “You’ve got to show the flag these days. It makes a big difference in people’s perception. We need to boost our profile so folks know we exist.”
Interestingly, SC is also the home of the Christian Exodus movement, Its' mission, according to its Centerfield] No joke. I thought Chris Matthews said it best when he said that this is a speech we would expect from Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt, not George W. Bush.

THE HERETIK WOULD MORE BELIEVE the rhetoric if it were matched by right action, if words set flight in air did not crash to the ground with a later, less noted thunderous thud. Bush promised twenty billion to New York City. Where did all that money go?

NO McKRAP FROM THE MASTER [Krugman/ NY Times] But George W. Bush isn't F.D.R. Indeed, in crucial respects he's the anti-F.D.R.
President Bush subscribes to a political philosophy that opposes government activism - that's why he has tried to downsize and privatize programs wherever he can. (He still hopes to privatize Social Security, F.D.R.'s biggest legacy.) So even his policy failures don't bother his strongest supporters: many conservatives view the inept response to Katrina as a vindication of their lack of faith in government, rather than as a reason to reconsider their faith in Mr. Bush.

AND THE HERETIK REPEATS Bush is asking people to look to the rosy future and forget the weeds that have already grown in his wicked garden. What is good in this country has been choked out. What resources we should treasure have gone to grow poisonous plants that will only bear more ill fruit soon.

[The Moderate Voice/Michael Stickings] Personally, I didn't think much of it. I don't doubt his compassion, and he may have said the right things ("there is no way to imagine
America without New Orleans"), but I can't get past his obvious incompetence and the utter lack of leadership he showed after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. . . . David Kusnet, former Clinton speechwriter, liked Bush's speech. As a speech, not necessarily for the content (though he liked much of that, too): "Never before has a president spoken so well and acted so ineptly. Perhaps the rhetoric will win Bush a second chance." I just don't think he spoke that well, though the rhetoric may indeed give him "a second chance".

[Early Warning/William Arkin] Amidst all of President Bush's proposals last night was one decree that the Commander-in-Chief can implement without Congressional or public intervention: "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

THE HERETIK NOTICED how Bush slipped in a military role in disasters which Arkin correctly views as unwarranted. Um, didn't Bush get behind the cash cow of the Department Homeland Security for just such disasters? And where would Bush get the soldiers for such an army when we are already overstretched and how would he pay for it?

[Howard Kurtz/WaPo] Well, the choreography was pretty impressive.

OY, THE HERETIK ALSO SEES Kurtz took note of this, which he cites here.

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

Presidenting is Hard Work

by Shakespeare's Sister

So Bush gave his awesome speech last night, and looked super relaxed and confident doing it, too—not a hint of panicked desperation that he’s on the fast track to becoming the most loathed president in American history.

I can’t decide what my favorite line was, but here are a couple of favorites:
I have asked for, and the Congress has provided, more than 60 billion dollars. This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented crisis, which demonstrates the compassion and resolve of our nation.
Call me jaded, but I think Congress signing off on $60 billion is less indicative of compassion or resolve, and more of the enormous scale of the fucking disaster.
To meet this goal, I will listen to good ideas from Congress, state and local officials, and the private sector.
Here’s a good idea from the private sector: RESIGN! And take your gaggle of useless cronies with you.
As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well.
Seriously—I know that he isn’t literally trying to suggest he learned about the poverty in New Orleans for the first time when he saw it on television, but since a whole hell of a lot of people think that’s probably pretty damn close to the truth, his speechwriters should have reworked that one. Unless they’re sick of him steering the country straight down the turd tunnel, too, and figure maybe they ought to let him tell he truth about his detached ignorance for a change, heh.

At the end of the speech, the president lugged his tired ass back up the steps of Air Force One and returned to Washington.

President Flopsweat

I’m not altogether sure he feels that speech went as well as he’d hoped.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Katrina evacuees called 'yard apes' by college official

by Pam

And I thought 'yard ape' referred to the President strolling across the grass last night to give that lead balloon speech on live TV.

The woman serving as associate vice president for student services at Greenville (SC) Technical College "resigned" after multiple brain malfunctions in her job there. She's "numb" and "shocked" that calling children evacuated from the worst natural disaster in our country's history as "yard apes" -- in two separate briefings last week -- might be a teensy bit beyond the pale. (
"I'm just numb and in a state of shock," Holcombe told The Associated Press. When asked if she meant the comment as a racial slur, she said: "Heavens, no." [Yes, I call all little darkies yard apes - doesn't everyone?]

A message left for school president Tom Barton was not immediately returned Wednesday. Barton said Tuesday that Holcombe had apologized in a separate meeting. He said the comments were reported to him by staff members who attended the meeting last Thursday. "We're going to rectify the situation and make it very much known that we won't ever tolerate that kind of situation - ever," Barton said.

Barton said Holcombe, associate vice president for student services, made the comment at a briefing to inform college employees of their roles as Greenville Tech bused hurricane refugees from the Palmetto Expo Center for registration. "It's even hard for me to repeat because I can't imagine anybody that would make such an asinine statement," Barton said.

"It was stated that 'We will take these yellow buses and go pick up these yard apes.' My God, how bad can bad get?"

..."It's not like she just came to work," he said. "She's been here and she knows our philosophy and she knows the institution. I just can't imagine why she did it."

Holcombe said Wednesday she did not want to discuss the incident because she didn't want "to add fuel to the fire," but she said she looks forward to the day her side of the story can be told.
And what might that side of the story look like? This, my friends, is an example of someone that belongs with the knuckle-draggers in the White Power movement. May I direct her to the Stormfront message board, where she can mingle with this breed of apes...

Actual Stormfront Ape Quotes

"A local church here in our small town in Arkansas has decided to take in 198 of the refugee blacks from New Orleans. Now let me start off by saying there is not one single black in this town, and now they are bringing in 198 of these raping, murdering, thieving, blacks. What the he** can we do? Damn, i just starting buying our house here, and have only made 5 payments so far. I need advice please....."

"Where the heck is the local Klan when ya need em ?!!"

"Believe it or not, we called the local Klan about 2 weeks ago, and they actually admitted that they don't do anything anymore, because they are broke...."

"If everyone in your town feels the same way. Just act like they aren't there. Act like they're invisible. Everybody. Do it long enough and the nature of the attention starved negro will come out in such ways to deserve arrest, but none will be able to blame Whitey."

"Yea man, I know how you feel. The little town that I live in which is in Utah is 98% white at least, and now we have these blacks being moved here . Im not saying all of them, but the majority of them are low life druggie criminals who live off of welfare. I would also like to know what to do."

and more...

"There can be no confusion as to what to do concerning these negro beasts, these savage rapists who defile our young with inhuman brutality, put them up against the wall and put a bullet in their head. If they were to even touch my daughter they would be decapitated and hung by the feet off the corner streetlight for all to see, we cannot give any quarter to these predators, violent savage beasts, thrust upon us, dispose of them like the trash they are."

"White Community: Helping the Forgotten Victims of Katrina"

and more...

"In order to keep everybody here well informed and prepared on where all the negros be headed and endin'up as a result of bussing them around the country, I think it would be a good idea to have a thread listing just where they are being stupid mayors and their ilk. I imagine it to be more widespread than we are being told and I don't trust the local media outlets to be very eager to let us know about it, lest it result in racial discord. As far as I know there aren't any here yet in NE PA."

"So far none here in north Indiana, coons don't like the cold. I'm buying some guns to prepare myself for them, I'm sure some will make it up here."

"115 due to land in Tucson this morning! Time to print out my listing of the dangers these negroes will face in this area of the Sonoran Desert and infiltrate the leaflets in their Welcome Wagon handouts."

"Unless these niggers get krystaaal and fried chicken, they will start rioting and raping whites. If they do get their demands, they will still rape and kill, just not riot as much."

The real humanity: Edgar Hollingsworth, 74, is lifted onto an ambulance gurney in front of his home in New Orleans, found unconscious and emaciated 16 days after Katrina. (photo: Bruce Chambers)

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has an excellent, eloquent piece up on Alternet, "The Shame of Blaming the Victims" that you should definitely check out.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Bullhorn Part Two

by The Heretik


Bush Dead In The Political Water will speak on high ground in front of Saint Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter of New Orleans tonight. The often damaged cathedral will serve as a symbol of what New Orleans has been and what it might be. That Bush will speak live in front of no live citizens of New Orleans or anyone else is symbol of something else.

Handpicked Audiences For Speeches were the previous rule, so no adverse reaction would be heard. What does it say when the president speaks before no one? His isolation could not be more complete. Bush on dry land who had dry eyes when a city drowned will talk only to air.


(Crossposted at The Heretik)

A Town Called GOPE

by Shakespeare's Sister

At least, that’s what they might as well rename New Orleans, since it’s apparently going to little more than a Grand Old Party Experiment. The Wall Street Journal (subscription only; no link available—Sept. 15 edition, page B1) reports:

Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.

Some new measures are already taking shape. In the past week, the Bush administration has suspended some union-friendly rules that require federal contractors pay prevailing wages, moved to ease tariffs on Canadian lumber, and allowed more foreign sugar imports to calm rising sugar prices. Just yesterday, it waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region.
Waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region?! So, basically, Halliburton (you know, just as a random example, ahem) gets a no-bid reconstruction contract, doesn’t have to pay a prevailing wage, and can hire whomever they bloody well please without being constrained by affirmative-action requirements. Mm-hmm. All the rightwingers who howl about illegal immigration from Mexico are intractably stupid if they don’t see that this is exactly the kind of shit designed to allow corporate friends of the administration to exploit cheap labor.

Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would offer sweeping protection against lawsuits to any person or organization that helps Katrina victims without compensation.
The list of good ideas for the Grand Old Party Experiment just goes on and on and on, doesn’t it?

"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."
I don’t even know what the hell “a federal city” is even supposed to mean, although it certainly appears to mean “a city where federal labor laws are actually enforced, thereby prohibiting corporate exploitation from running rampant.” What I do know for certain is that Mike Pence is a knob-end, just like every other Republican Representative from the State of Indiana.

Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."

Members of the group met in a closed session Tuesday night at the conservative Heritage Foundation headquarters here to map strategy. Edwin Meese, the former Reagan administration attorney general, has been actively involved.
Edwin fucking Meese?! Is there a single stinking criminal from the Reagan administration that hasn’t found his way back into favor and aristocratic privilege under the reign of President Sideshow? Fucking hell. Meese ought to be in a motherloving dungeon, but of course Daddy Bush pardoned him (and all the other Iran-Contra scoundrels) right before he ended his pathetic single-term, do-nothing, limp-dicked presidency. (Oh, except for that little Persian adventure, of course.) Edwin Meese—pfft! These people are unbloodybelievable.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R., Kan.) said that the plans under development "are all part of a philosophy of lowering costs for doing business." He said southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama offer a "microcosm" where new ideas can be applied to speed the rebuilding.
Kind of like how costs were lower for businesses back when they didn’t have to deal with pesky shit like child labor laws, minimum wage requirements, worker safety regulations, offering healthcare, and all that other junk for which liberals keep fighting, damn them. If only we could go back to the glory days of the Gilded Age, then deserving men like Tiahrt wouldn’t have to hustle for penny-ante kickbacks in Congress, but could get filthy flippin’ rich on the backs of the poor and desperate, just like capitalism always intended.

Here’s the best part in the whole article:

In response, Democrats are pressing for other proposals that suit their ideology. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois has suggested creating a national emergency airlift program so that U.S. airlines can help evacuate Americans from areas before a natural disaster strike. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu unveiled a plan that would, among other things, preserve victims' Medicaid health coverage, provide $2,500 education grants to displaced students and give victims a 180-day extension on outstanding loan payments.
“Proposals that suit their ideology” has to be the nastiest way of saying, “proposals that help rather than exploit (current and future) victims.” Yeah, technically it’s correct that these proposals suit a liberal ideology of having a social conscience and providing a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, but to present the Democratic proposals as if they’re somehow equally as avaricious as the GOP’s agenda for the disaster region is incredibly disingenuous. Anyway, good on the Dems for trying to do right by the survivors of Katrina.

FYI, in a separate article (Sept. 14 edition, page B1), the WSJ reports that U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is expected to ask Congress soon for authority to waive the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law banning educational segregation of homeless children, so that evacuees can be educated right in their shelters, rather than integrated into public schooling in the areas to which they were relocated. No shame. No shame at all. Brazen vultures.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Lowering Poverty in Louisiana

by Shakespeare's Sister

Shaker Wally, Shameless Inflamer of Blog-Related Narcissism, pointed me in the direction of David Rees' latest Get Your War On strips (must-reads, but be prepared for the ensuing laughweep, with which I imagine we’ve all become well familiar, especially lately), and noted that the fifth one down seems to raise an interesting point.
The question is; do the pictures we've seen of dead bodies floating in flooded New Orleans streets actually prove that Bush's tax cuts for his rich buddies work to end poverty? Follow me here.

- Action: Bush cuts taxes for the rich by $ (insert obscene amount here). Result: No slack in the budget to pay for strictly optional wars.

- Action: Money pulled from other "lower priority" sources (like NO levee improvements) to pay for (insert inane "Noble Cause" here). Result: Levees compromised, overtopped, broken; water 10 to 20 feet deep in NO streets.

- Action: Impoverished NO residents faced with ugly reality of their socio-economic condition, to wit; unable to flee rising waters. Result: Hundreds fail the ultimate acid test of "Keepin' our heads above water" (insert "Good Times" theme song here, only played much slower and in a minor key).

But here's the kicker; corpses have no economic status. Thus, as a direct result of Bush's tax policy, hundreds of (late) New Orleans residents are no longer living in poverty. The fact that they're no longer living, period, is just the cherry on top, if you're a Bush supporter.

So, is this simply a chain of teeth-grindingly avoidable circumstances, or are we actually looking at long-awaited, deeply-suppressed evidence of Dear Leader's true genius? To steal a phrase from one of my favorite bloggers, I just threw up a little in my mouth. (At least it got rid of the taste left by using "Bush" and "genius" in the same sentence...) Don't you think the wingnuts would just brown themselves with excitement if someone explained this to them, speaking veeeeeeery slowly and using only three- and four-letter words? Can't you just hear them crowing in triumph, "Oh yeah, retarded like a FOX!"
All sassypantsity aside, Shaker Wally, Shameless Inflamer of Blog-Related Narcissism, is onto something akin to the change in political demographics that has been discussed, as a largely Democratic population has been displaced and its associated bloc influence diluted as its carved segments are relocated around the country. If, as is (quite wisely, no doubt) expected, New Orleans is rebuilt in a way that fails to accommodate many or most of the poorest of its displaced residents, stealing the opportunity of return and forcing them to remain scattered, a lower poverty level for the area is inevitable.

It will, of course, be reflective of the tragic loss of life, as the poor are disproportionately represented in the casualty counts (even inaccurate as they are likely to be), and the heartbreaking circumstance many survivors will face of being financially unable to return to the place they called home. But nonetheless, the lower regional poverty numbers will be quite real, and I fear that such statistics, lacking the appropriate context, will be pointed to as proof of a truly and thoroughly undeserved success after rebuilding is complete.

It’s something to keep in mind lest the asinine comments of monstrous excuses for humanity like Richard Baker or Babs Bush end up being regarded as astutely prescient, instead of the dour representations of typical rightwing hooey that they are.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Bush Lays Down The Law At The United Nations

by The Heretik


Related Story [here]

The Heretik

Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence

by STP

From Raw Story comes this report about the Vatican's push to weed out that ever-dangerous band of rabble-rousing gays from their ranks. Nothing like preaching love, tolerance, inclusion, and understanding. Vatican supporters can have their nutty on me, but the fact is that this is why I view the Vatican as being irrelevant and divorced from God in their doctrines. I mean no disrespect to any religion that is purely about love and godliness, but the Vatican is not a place where I find these things to be in abundance. I look at the Vatican and I see boundless wealth while its followers often languish in despair and hunger. I see preachings of separation and discrimination. I see intolerance. I see a demeaning of anyone who does not fit into its very small box of acceptability.

Now, on a less serious note, my sources tell me that the Vatican will be looking for the following to weed out those evil homosexuals from their ranks:

1. A preponderance of pink shirts in priests' wardrobes. Read this for more;
2. Priests singing Streisand tunes while showering;
3. Hair gell products;
4. Increased abilities to order the best wines on the menu;
5. A sudden urge to have small dogs as pets;
6. Advice given to married couples centered on destroying those marriages. After all, that's what gays do;
7. Extra time spent by the priests in the weight room attempting to buff up;
8. An understanding of abstract art;
9. A clean and neat looking bedroom. Think Seinfeld;
10. Dancing, dancing and more dancing!

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Picture of the day - Presidential potty break

by Pam

This is not a joke. Actual note caught by Reuters photographer.

[UPDATE: The Freepi see conspiracies...]

The caption: "U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want, persecution and war. REUTERS/Rick Wilking"

I'm still thinking about how Condi was going to assist him on that front.

Feel free to add your own "very special caption."


I'm sorry, but I had to see if the Freepers were going to react to this. I was not disappointed.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Well it's a wonder he needed a bathroom break. With all of the bullshiite going on in the UN, it's enough to make anyone puke."

"Those Reuters reporters never use toilets. They just pack it in~!"

"Not only a poor editorial choice, but the photo is deceptive on top of that. Perfect MSM B.S. storm"

"Explains why they're always full of it."

"That memo will surface out of Durbin's pocket tomorrow in the Roberts hearing."

"Seriously though why does rueter think this is news worthy?"

"Low-life media. Was it REALLY necessary to publish that, or was it published simply to make Bush look weak or dumb? Is that picture ANYWHERE near approaching something newsworthy? No, of course not, but we know the MSM's agenda. Pathetic."

"The President pees like the rest of us...I'm SHOCKED."

"In the past, this kind of thing would be considered bad form. But it's Bush, so decency is out the window."

"I would have relived myself on the carpet as the smell would have been covered by the background stench."

"I'm curious who they let in there with cameras that can zoom that close."

"Is this like that secret prompting device he wore during the 2004 debates?"

"For all we could be "code" to Condi for wanting to signal something to her like 'they're full of ..." and that's their code cause he couldn't write what he really wanted to share with her."

"IF THIS IS BUSH-- could he be writing a reply to someone who was asking HIM for a break?"

"1) Why is this "news?", 2) Should I feel concerned that a photographer can get a photo of what the President is writing to his Sec of State? Did we doge a bullet, in that it could have been something sensitive?"

"That picture and note is a phoney. He would have never written that many words. He would have just said; "Gotta Pee" or "Gotta Poop""

"Pardon me while I whip this out"


by Shakespeare's Sister

Do you hear that whooshing noise? It’s the sound of ten million pro-war, Bush-voting NASCAR dads simultaneously creaming in their pants over the Ultra AP, “a concept combat vehicle that combines new blast-deflection technology with the safety features of a [Ford F-350] truck and NASCAR engineering.” Yup, NASCAR and the war machine are hooking up, and although that particular marriage of interests, when experienced in the form of one of my good ol’ boy, confederate flag-flying neighbors, makes my skin crawl, it actually looks to be a promising combination in terms of developing a vehicle that will better protect the troops. I just hope a non-combat version of this thing doesn’t go on the market. I don’t think my blood pressure can handle dealing with Hummers and Ultra APs on the country roads around here.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

The Wrong Fall Guy?

by Shakespeare's Sister

Looks as though Chertoff might have sacrificed Brownie to save his own ass—and perhaps President Sideshow’s ass as well. Emphasis mine; not blockquoted due to length.


The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.

Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm.

As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina's early morning Aug. 29 landfall, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives.

But Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.

But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.


That same day, Aug. 31, the Department of Defense, whose troops and equipment are crucial in such large disasters, activated its Task Force Katrina. But active-duty troops didn't begin to arrive in large numbers along the Gulf Coast until Saturday.

White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt the need to appoint a separate task force.

Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland security is assigned to do without further presidential orders.


The Chertoff memo indicates that the response to Katrina wasn't left to disaster professionals, but was run out of the White House, said George Haddow, a former deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton administration and the co-author of an emergency management textbook.

"It shows that the president is running the disaster, the White House is running it as opposed to Brown or Chertoff," Haddow said. Brown "is a convenient fall guy. He's not the problem really. The problem is a system that was marginalized."


Right to the top, this goes. Right to the very tippy top.

Steve Soto notes:
It is interesting that hours before Knight Ridder goes with a story that places the blame not on local officials but the Bush Administration, Bush sorta fessed up for the federal government's failings, almost as if the White House knew this was coming. It is also interesting that the day after former FEMA chief Michael Brown fell on his sword, the memo showing that Chertoff for some reason delayed and failed to act timely makes its way into Knight Ridder's hands. Obviously Brown has some friends who are going to set the record straight.
Hmm. Interesting indeed.

(Hat tip to The Left Coaster.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

MA: amendment defeated in landslide

by Pam

Crowds erupted into cheers at the defeat. Marriage equality forces needed 101 votes to defeat the amendment, but they garnered a 56-vote margin of victory. (
A joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposed amendment that would ban same-sex marriage while allowing civil unions, but another anti-gay amendment looms on the horizon.

Today's vote was the second of a two part process to get the proposal onto the ballot in 2006. With less than two hours of debate lawmakers voted 157-39 against the measure.

Last March when it passed the first phase, it did so by only a handful of votes and after heated debate. Many Democrats opposed the measure and many Republicans who object to gay marriage voted against it because it would permit civil unions.

But as more and more same-sex couples married in Massachusetts support for the measure dwindled.

"Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry," said state Sen. Brian Lees, an East Longmeadow Republican who had been a co-sponsor of the amendment. "This amendment which was an appropriate measure or compromise a year ago, is no longer, I feel, a compromise today."
BayWindows has minute-by-minute description of events as they unfolded.

Pledge ruled unconstitutional

by John Howard - National News: Pledge ruled unconstitutional

This is interesting. While I don't really have any problem with the Pledge (I said it for years and I turned out ok), when the words "Under God" are in there, it seems to me it's pretty hard to argue that it's not unconstitutional.

I don't really understand what the point of a pledge of allegiance is supposed to be, anyway. It always seemed a little strange to me that a country so obsessed with freedom would want to force little kids to participate in something that I can't really describe as anything other than blatant indoctrination. Having said that, though, like I said before, I don't really have any big problems with it.

I do think it's kind of silly that this is the kind of shit people spend their time worrying about. On either side.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Latest 'news' from the Rotting CryptkeeperTM

by Pam

Haven't checked out Fred Phelps and his hate machine lately. He's losing his subtle touch, as you can see. Here's his take on John Roberts for the Supreme Court...

The next little feature he turns his attention to is Chimpy's little Day of Prayer...

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Shooting His Mouth Off

by The Heretik


And Shooting Himself In The Ass Hearing Bush shoot off his mouth about disasters makes you realize he is one shot away from shooting himself in the butt and totally bleeding out politically. Unscripted George Bush is a disaster about to happen. George Bush most likely will speak from a script again as much as possible.

Why Nobody Points Out more often what Bush says is less than coherent begs the question of how much leeway can be given to a man who learned little about levees. Anybody with any knowledge of hurricanes knows that once the eye of the storm passes, rain still falls. Waters still rise. Floods often come later to wash away what people hope to hold dear. Whether Bush pays dearly for his lack of comprehension of harsh facts and Bush is washed away in a raging flood of political high waters remains to be seen.

George Bush Seemed to Take Responsibility Yesterday But if you look at what he said, he really is saying he couldn’t control the beast that is the Federal government. Watch what Bush does here taking a question after meeting with Talabani of Iraq.

QUESTION: Mr. President, given what happened with Katrina, shouldn't Americans be concerned if their government isn't prepared to respond to another disaster or even a terrorist attack?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. [White House]

All The Headlines Will Shout Bush Taking Responsibility, but note the language. To the extent is a very limited apology, much more for a faceless government than for a president who thinks he has now faced down his critics. Bush here sets the Federal Government up for taking control of disasters before they happen so the Feds can control reconstruction contracts later.

What Does Bush Actually Announces Here? Welcome to the Jungle? Survival of the Fittest Cronies. Ah, the Bungle in the Jungle awaits. Contracts count more than people.

Seems So Long Ago The Levees Were Overtopped, but just like yesterday. George Bush overtops himself daily. Nobody in New Orleans will have a sense of relaxation for a long time.

QUESTION: Did they misinform you when you said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees?

THE PRESIDENT: No, what I was referring to is this. When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, whew. There was a sense of relaxation, and that's what I was referring to. And I, myself, thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people, probably over the airways, say, the bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to. [White House]

The Myth of “Strong Leadership” Is Crumbling and Bush’s “solid” support is washing into the raging flood. Polling number sink further below the surface of supreme confidence the political hacks publicly show.

Is Bush the commanding, decisive, jovial president you've been hearing about for years in so much of the mainstream press?
Maybe not so much.
Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. [Froomkin/Washington Post]

A High Ground Bunker Mentality Reveals Itself More and More. Everyday you hear another frank assessment from “a senior aide” who tells us more than he realizes.

"He's not a screamer," a senior aide said of the president. But Mr. Bush, angry, directed the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to find out what was going on.
"The frustration throughout the week was getting good, reliable information," said the aide, who demanded anonymity so as not to be identified in disclosing inner workings of the White House. "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult." [Bumiller/NY Times]

Getting The Truth On The Ground would be easy for somebody who is too lazy to even tell somebody else to turn on the television. If you want to know why the White House can’t get the “truth on the ground,” perhaps it is because they believe they stand on some higher, safer more holy ground than everyone else.

Don’t Forget All the Stagecraft
or whatever dark craft it is that has controlled how Bush has previously been seen in “public.” All those “town hall” meetings were mockumentaries that well hid a mind that may not be quite right. Expect full cavity searches and mind probes the next time Cheney goes out. Bush did not meet the less than white in less than white New Orleans. Why?

One prominent African-American supporter of Mr. Bush who is close to Karl Rove, the White House political chief, said the president did not go into the heart of New Orleans and meet with black victims on his first trip there, last Friday, because he knew that White House officials were "scared to death" of the reaction. [Bumiller/NY Times]

Shooting Off His Mouth Is Something George Bush Will Need to Avoid if he is to survive politically. When he goes out in public, he can expect more potshots from people he treats like subjects. He can also expect more sniping from loyal “senior aides.” Bubble Boy is back in the bunker making scripted “official” statements, but you can expect a single prick to pop his balloon again soon. What he may not realize is that prick is himself.



Bush On Monday [White House]

And I know there's been a lot of second-guessing. I can assure you I'm not interested in that. What I'm interested in is solving problems. And there will be time to take a step back and to take a sober look at what went right and what didn't go right.

So um, is Bush admitting it has been a less than um sober look so far?


DOES CRIME PAY? [King of Zembla] We know what you're wondering: does the Brown debacle signal an end to the naked cronyism and patronage that have so far been the hallmarks of the Bush administration? Not hardly, bubba, as Tim Grieve of Salon's War Room explains:

The White House would like us all to think of Hurricane Katrina as another
9/11 -- a time for Americans to come together and rally around our
beleaguered commander in chief -- but it seems to be treating the
disaster more like another Iraq. There's the cavalier attitude, the disconnect between the words in Washington and the reality on the ground, the rejection of the warnings of experts, and, of course, Halliburton.

WHAT ABOUT KARL? [FireDogLake] Unka Karl is off his game. Maybe it's the kidney stones, maybe it's the pending indictments. If he was as brilliantly Machiavellian as everyone says he is, I'd accuse him of setting up Fearless Leader to keep himself out of the headlines and
off of Patrick J. Fitzgerald's radar, but I don't happen to be a member of the "Rove is a genius" set. I just think he has a particularly effective craven gift for appealing to the most base and negative instincts of the most base and negative people, and extracting power therefrom.

NEW ORAQ? [Tom Dispatch] In the decade before September 11th, 2001, "globalization," a word now largely missing-in-action, was on everyone's lips and we constantly heard about what a small, small world this really was. In the aftermath of Katrina, that global smallness has grown positively claustrophobic and particularly predatory. Iraq and New Orleans now seem to be
morphing into a single entity, New Oraq, to be devoured by the same limited set of corporations, let loose and overseen by the same small set of Bush administration officials. In George Bush's new world ofglobalization, first comes the destruction and only then does one sit
down at the planetary table to sup.

[David Enders/Mother Jones] At times it is hard to ignore the comparisons between Baghdad (where Iwas less than a month ago and have spent more of the last two years)and New Orleans: The anarchy, the looting, some of it purely for survival, some of it purely opportunistic. We watched a flatbed truck drive by, a man on the back with an M-16 looking up on the roofs for snipers, as is common in Iraq. Private security contractors were stationed outside the Royal St. Charles Hotel; when asked if things were getting pretty wild around the area, one of them replied, "Nope.
It's pretty Green Zone here."

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

The destruction we've wrought

by STP

I am not saying that Saddam Hussein was not an evil ruler who oppressed, massacred and tortured his own people. He was all of those things and much more. However, there are countless despots throughout the world that these descriptions could be applied to. The Bush Administration did not invade Iraq because Hussein was an evil that needed to be removed to save the people of Iraq. The Iraq war happened because of a dereliction of duty by the executive branch of our government and an underlying greed and craving for power by those who control the White House.

There were clearly no WMDs in Iraq and proof of any ties to terrorism in Iraq appear to be equally flimsy. Yet reading the news, the results of the foolishness of the Bush Administration in invading a country for no justifiable reasons are played out repeatedly. The U.S. brought terrorism to a country that had none previously. It threw that same country into a brimming civil war, shut down its electricity and water supplies and left a population in a constant state of suffering and anguish that, on the whole, exceeds what it had even known under Hussein.

We focus in the U.S. on the number of our soldiers that have died in this pointless war, and rightly so. The crimes of these deaths are enormous in measure. However, we downplay the thousands upon thousands of deaths of innocent, yes innocent, Iraqi civilians. Sure, there are dead insurgents and terrorists, too, but the insurgency exists because of us and the terrorists are in Iraq because of us. The large numbers of dead Iraqis who are tragic victims of our stupidity, arrogance, poor planning, lies, misguided actions, and lack of principle are vast and truly the saddest part of the failed Bush Administration policies in Iraq.

Actually, I take that back. The saddest part of the Iraq war is, given the number of dead Iraqis, we only see them as faceless numbers and we grief less for them because we see them as less.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Connect-the-Dots Musing

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Hello Big Brass Crew - please welcome Marla R. Stevens, who is now writing on Julien's List.

You will enjoy her writing.

Ms. Julien

The Roberts hearings today brought my thoughts back to Justice Sunday II,
where many speakers claimed a sort of Chicken Little spiritual-cultural domino

Little wonder they fight like every little thing is connected -- it is --
both in their theology and, on a different level -- in actual reality. After
all, if we're human, even distantly human, then they are wrong and our rights
will follow one to the next, as they should, one underpinning the next, yet,
unlike their structure, each also standing on its own merits

At times like these it helps me to remember that only people who have
ultimately lost behave the ways they do -- that every escalation of their fight
acknowledges something they've never had to speak to before, which is proof that
we've won even if we have to keep fighting to put that into practice -- that the
depth of a wave's trough is really only a measure of its height.

Katrina body counting duties given to firm tied to Bush family

by Pam

And to think, the Administration's biggest worry was the photography of the bodies of victims. However, it's A-OK for a firm with a history of dumping and desecrating bodies to take on this job. Good call, Blanco; how hard did Chimpy twist your arm?

And to top that off, it's a company with a history of illegally dumping and desecrating corpses. How about them apples? Good god, and what's worse, LA Gov. Blanco signed a contract with these creeps. (Raw Story):
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired Kenyon International to set up a mobile morgue for handling bodies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, RAW STORY has learned.

Kenyon is a subsidiary of Service Corporation International (SCI), a scandal-ridden Texas-based company operated by a friend of the Bush family. Recently, SCI subsidiaries have been implicated in illegally discarding and desecrating corpses.

...The Menorah Gardens cemetery chain, owned by SCI, desecrated vaults, removed hundreds of bodies from two cemeteries in Florida and dumped the gruesome remains in woods frequented by wild hogs, investigators discovered in 2001. In one case, a backhoe was used to crack open a vault, remove corpses and make room for more dead bodies.

SCI paid $100 million to settle a lawsuit filed by outraged family members of the deceased.
The Austin Chronicle has a story on the SCI ties to Bush during his days as governor of Texas, when the company was under fire for what was known as "Funeralgate." It's ugly, and sadly, familiar territory of the Chimp going to bat for the corporate thugs.
On April 15, 1998, funeral magnate Robert Waltrip talked with Gov. George W. Bush in the Texas Capitol. That much is not in dispute. However, the content of their discussion is the subject of considerable dispute. And the actions taken by the governor's staff members, a half-dozen legislators, and Texas Attorney General John Cornyn after that April 15 meeting are part of what may be the biggest influence-buying scandal in recent memory.

The politicos and the funeral company are at the heart of a whistleblower lawsuit filed March 23 against the state, funeral home giant Service Corporation International (SCI), and Waltrip, the company's chairman and CEO. The suit alleges that Bush and other politicos worked to thwart an investigation by the Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC) into improperly licensed embalmers working out of SCI funeral homes in Dallas.

Caption from the Austin Chronicle cartoon at the time: "Led by Governor Bush, the Funeralgate cast includes Sen. John Whitmire, SCI CEO Robert Waltrip (in hat), Bush aide Joe Allbaugh, Rep. Kyle Janek, Sen. Kenneth Armbrister, and Attorney General John Cornyn." (illustration by Doug Potter)

What began as a citizen's complaint against SCI in January 1998 has since grown into a scandal revolving around campaign contributions, and the influence they may buy. All of the politicos who intervened on SCI's behalf received major contributions from SCI's political action committee, or PAC. Did that money convince them to help SCI -- the world's largest death care company -- and to punish the agency that investigated SCI? Whether that was the reason or not, the state officials took positions that may hurt consumers. SCI's prices are routinely among the highest in the funeral business. One consumer advocate, Lamar Hankins, the president of the Funeral & Memorial Societies of America, says the company routinely engages in "price gouging." But campaign cash, not consumers, is at the heart of this scandal. And the scandal promises to grow as the lawsuit -- filed by former TFSC director Eliza May -- works through the discovery process. The suit alleges that May was fired because she "repeatedly and in good faith reported violations of the law and conduct that she reasonably believed to constitute violations of the law."

As May's suit goes forward, Bush and the other politicos who helped SCI are scrambling for cover. May's lawyers want to depose Bush. But the governor missed a requested July 1 deposition date because he was busy campaigning for the presidency in California. Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat who appears to have gone out of his way to help SCI in its battle with the TFSC, is ducking May's deposition request by claiming legislative privilege, a law that protects legislators from revealing communications they have had with citizens.
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Anderson Cooper outed...

by Pam

Mike Rogers at BlogActive points to a New York Magazine article that pretty much confirms the scuttlebutt that our man Anderson is "family." He doesn't deny it.
Obviously, the other downside to his growing fame is that it serves to ratchet up the interest in his personal life, something he has been very careful to keep out of the press. There has been a lot of chatter on the Internet about the fact that Cooper may or may not be gay, and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto has taken pleasure in quoting the gay magazine Metrosource, which has referred to Cooper as "the openly gay news anchor." It has been assumed in certain circles in New York partly because he lives what looks to some to be a gay social life. He's often seen at parties with Barry Diller, and he's friends with the lead singer from the outre gay rock band the Scissor Sisters. And then there was the tempest in a teapot regarding a slightly heated interview last fall with Jerry Falwell about gay marriage. Some Cooper-obsessed bloggers insist that the anchor outed himself on the air, taking the gay side of the debate and saying, "We pay taxes." They claim CNN originally posted a transcript with the "we" and then later changed it to "You pay taxes." Cooper has maintained all along that he said "you."

When I bring up the sexuality issue with Cooper, he says, "You know, I understand why people might be interested. But I just don't talk about my personal life. It's a decision I made a long time ago, before I ever even knew anyone would be interested in my personal life. The whole thing about being a reporter is that you're supposed to be an observer and to be able to adapt with any group you"re in, and I don't want to do anything that threatens that."
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

This is cool - go Miami Shaq!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Shaq Blocks Gay Bashing
by The Associated Press

(Miami Beach, Florida) Shaquille O'Neal has been credited with an assist away from the basketball court, following a suspect who allegedly assaulted a gay couple and alerting police.

The 7-foot-1 Miami Heat center, who is in the process of becoming a Miami Beach reserve police officer, was driving on South Beach about 3 a.m. Sunday.

That's when he saw the man, riding as a passenger in a silver Honda, yell anti-gay slurs at the couple, said Bobby Hernandez, spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department.

He then got out of the car and threw a bottle, hitting one of the pedestrians, who was not seriously hurt.

The suspect got back in the car and it sped off, but O'Neal followed.

"He flagged down the Miami Beach officer on duty there, and the officer was able to apprehend the subject," Hernandez said.

Michael Gonzalez, 18, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. A phone number for Gonzalez could not be located and it was not known if he has an attorney. The Honda's driver was not charged.

O'Neal, who hopes to be a police chief or county sheriff one day, was already being fitted for his Miami Beach police uniform before the incident.

"For this incident I don't want to be credited as an individual who does police work," O'Neal said in a statement. "I want to be credited as a Miami Beach police officer."

Well, gee, ya think???

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Nonpartisan congressional research report finds Louisiana governor took necessary steps

John Byrne

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report Tuesday afternoon asserting that Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government, RAW STORY has learned.

The report, which comes after a request by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to review the law and legal accountability relating to Federal action in response to Hurricane Katrina, unequivocally concludes that she did.

"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability," Conyers said in a statement. "The Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."

The report found that:

· All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

· The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "[e]xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";

· The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to [applicable Federal statute]" and "Governor Blanco's August 27,2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that 'the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

The full report will be available soon on the House Democrats' Judiciary website.

Bush 'takes responsibility,' Freepers are listless

by Pam

They are licking their festering wounds in Freeperland. The man that could never make a mistake, let alone admit to one finally says he f*cked up with the Katrina aftermath. Some want the blame laid elsewhere, others are glad and want to leave it all behind. Like we're going to let up on the bastard? No chance.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"too little waaaay too late! You accepted responsibility for a disaster that was not the Feds fault! The pooch has been screwed!"

"He is a true leader who accepted any failure for the federal government no matter how little it is, and it is very little compared to the real screw up of state and local government. The majority of people already know this fact and only the extremely rabid Bush haters are blaming him for the hurricane problems. PS: You do not have to watch President Bush address to the nation next Thursday which I think it is a great PR move. You can watch wrestling which I think fit you mentality."

"Ordinarily I wouldn't want this to happen, but knowing how the MSM hates him and holw disrespectful they're likely to be in their accusations I think that W. will come away from this press conference vindicated and appreciated by the American people. Most folks are smart enough to know that this current round of Bush bashing is just more of the same from rabid 'Rats and a complicit MSM."

"You've got an incompetent Louisiana governor and N'awlins mayor and W claims he screwed up??? Well, nothing like giving the 'Rats someone to blame! "Hey, Bush admits it!" "It's Bush's fault!" gezzzzzzzzzzzzzz..."

"Pres. Bush should simply get up and read from Mark Steyn's column that appeared yesterday."

"Here is what I don't want.I don't want some maudlin drivel about rebuilding that God forsaken sewer. That place is beyond repair and you can't do it without bankrupting the nation. I want no tax increase at all.NONE. If you choose to live below sea level--You suffer the consequences--not me."

"Jeebus, did he move down there or something?"

"This is 2 weeks too late. On top of his stunningly stupid admission of "responsibility" for the blunders, the President has sunk himself in all of this. I know he only accepted responsibility for the federal side of things, but that is not how the mainstream media, the common idiot, or the Democrat Party will see it. The President's handling of this whole thing from a communication aspect has been horrendous."

"I think I know how this will play out. Bush accepts responsibility for the federal government' "slow response". The MSM headlines "Bush Admits Mistake". The same federal government rebuilds New Orleans in record time, there are far fewer deaths than predicted, Mardis Gras is held as scheduled and the MSM headlines read: "Bush's Mistake Corrected in Record Time.""

"The same federal government rebuilds New Orleans in record time"

"rebuild on what? ROFLMAO they don't print enough Ben Franklins for me to move in there! And it would be criminal to allow anyone to attempt to build in that mess! why hell even if you were to construct a whole new levee system, it wouldn't take but one terrorist and one explosive device and you'd have the whole mess all over again and again and again! Enough already, they should have moved the city after the 1927 flood for pete's sake!"


"I do not like this move because now the Libs will be yelling for Impeachment based off of this. The Republicans in congress will probably implode since they have no back bone, and act as if they are in the minority. I just do not see what Bush did wrong. I see plenty of what the Governor and Mayor did wrong. I just do not like this move."

"Saw a bumper sticker today produced by an anti-Bush outfit-- Incompetence Kills.

That's the strategy--all-out attack blaming everything on Bush. They have to do it that way to prevent blame from being placed where it belongs, at the feet of Blanco and Nagin."

"Yup---I can see the Dems tshirts now...a picture of Bush saying 'I admit it---it's my fault all those people died".Just great....."

"This action by President Bush, taking responsibility for the departments he controls, is exactly what one should expect of a top executive and honorable person. It makes Blanco and Nagin look sooooooo tiny. Those two are at risk of being squashed like bugs in comparison."

"I agree that this was smart...but also honest. When a person runs for the highest office in the Federal Government, they also are "responsible" for what happens within that Government. Admitting responsibility is easy for this honest man, because he knows that he IS responsible. This is not the same as "at fault". Also, I believe this absolutely rips the rug out from under most of the bashers."

"Seems a guy named Michael Brown just said that and he is ... wait a minute! Where is he?"

"Bush has jumped the shark..."

"Well, maybe he jumped it before but this was a blunder too. MSM, dems, and Louisiana officials have struggled ardently to keep this a totally federal blunder. That in the context where FEMA's PR before and after the cane portrayed themselves as supermen of sorts. Now the refrain "Bush's Fault" has been legitimized from his own mouth. Another Rove idea? He could have said "It's my responsibility to correct the errors and fire people..." He didn't.

"I am just waiting for the MSM to call for impeachment. You know its coming..."
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

One of the best takes on the racism we experienced in "Katrina" to date:

by Ms. Julien in Miami

I don't want this comment to be missed. It is by fellow Julien's List blogger Marla P. Stevens, in response to this post. Please read the post, and then see this:

Ah, but the treatment of NOLA was different than that of hard-hit areas in Mississippi. True, both have suffered greatly from FEMA/ShrubCo ineptitude but:

Private aid was not prevented from coming in to Mississippi.

The press was not subjected to repeated attempts to keep them out of affected areas in Mississippi.

People attempting to leave affected areas for help in Mississippi were not prevented from leaving by a phalanx line of warning shot-firing, gun-pointing-at-people's-heads swaggering, racist epithet hurling, caricature of pre-civil-rights Southern sheriffs who subsequently stole what little food and water the attempted.

People weren't held in putrid facilities sans the basic necessities of life at the mercy of violent criminals and prevented from leaving by officials pointing guns at them in Mississippi.

There was no forced diaspora in Mississippi. In New Orleans, care was not taken to keep families, much less neighborhoods intact. People were actively denied information about to where they were being transported, much less given choice about where they were sent. Disregard for maintaining even the togetherness of parents and small children or the elderly in their care was rampant to the point of giving officials the appearance of being slave traders.

There were no calls from officialdom to summarily execute all looters, no questions asked, including those taking mere sustenance, health, and sanitation related goods to save lives in Mississippi.

The racism is so ingrained, so institutionalized, so much a part of white America's collective psyche that we're incapable of its awareness without going through a very painful individual process of self-awareness that most of us don't see the need to do precisely because of our own racism.

It is a solipsism of unacknowledged shame that, sadly, not even something as blatant as the NOLA/Katrina horror seems able to penetrate.

Do your part. Seek out quality antiracism programs. Attend and support them until you bleed and achieve enough awareness that you begin to beg for more lest you have not fully plumbed the depths of your soul.

Once again, he has a penis and is straight, so he is capable of being a father...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...NOT. Not this time, and not now:

Davie Father Charged After 9-Month-Old Drowns In Bathtub


DAVIE, Fla. - A Davie father is facing manslaughter charges after his 9-month-old son drowned while left unattended in a bathtub, officials said. The Broward State Attorney's Office filed aggravated manslaughter charges against 24-year-old Roberto Fortin on Tuesday.

Images: Baby Drowns In Bathtub

Fortin's son died in March after he put his son in the bathtub and turned the water on, but didn't close the drain.

Fortin told Davie police he walked out of the bathroom, lay down on the bed and fell asleep. When he woke up, Fortin said he found his baby underwater. He then called the police and began CPR.

Police documents state that Fortin denied intentionally harming his child. The child's mother, Ann Dominguez, told police that the drain plug closed easily.

Investigators concluded that the father's actions resulted in the death of the 9-month-old child.

Dark Aria: Myths and Legends of George Bush

by The Heretik


We Have Heard the Dark Aria for So Long. The song remains the same, we know the song, we have known the song is wrong. Still we sit in our seats. Listen again now to the lies. The wrong notes hang in the air, sung by a fat man Karl Rove about when the governor of Louisiana declared an emergency that would bring the Feds in, as though they should not have been ready from the start. But worse notes from more seductive songs hang still reverbing in the air. With the picture of Bush first flying over Louisiana and then flying away, it is time some of those sad false notes were heard again in a more true way.

George Bush’s Presidency Didn’t Begin at his swearing in January 20. 2001. After his challenged election, forever young Bush’s unchallenged ascendancy began on September 11, 2001. The myth of a hero, of a legend on a pile of rubble, began with the story of a goat and a very long pause. The goat and the book in a boy president’s hands are symbols of a man who cannot read what is on the page.

The President Then Took To The Air to lead us on September Eleventh, except he didn’t. Bush took off and landed in Air Force One several times. He took his time getting to Washington. A great lie was told that day, its wrong notes still are sung, and they hurt the ears.

Sing, O Muses, Of The Peril To The President. Taking off and landing and getting nowhere close to the true action is a terrible metaphor for the reality of this Presidency and one that needed to be shot down immediately. So we heard the scared boy and Air Force One were actually a target of the September Eleventh killers, although it seems all the killers’ other targets were on the ground in symbolic buildings. The absurdity struck me the day the Air Force One target story song first floated false in the air.

Karl Rove Most Likely Sang That Wrong Song, as he has sung so many others. Air Force One was not a target that day. It is unlikely any enemy hijackers were on that plane, but other hijackers surely were. With that lie of a threat to the president, some large liars hijacked this nation. The image of a coward on a plane hop scotching in a command jet was replaced by a brave president who climbed up the backs of heroes to the top of a pile of rubble. Just what heroism is required to visit a wasteland when your foes are dead in fire escapes me.

Bush Has Allowed the True Enemy of September Eleventh to escape. He may not escape being held to task for that in the new light of Louisiana and the mess in Missisippi. The image of Bush looking down and flying away burns in the eyes of survivors. Another sad aria hangs in the air. Whether we will stay in our seats and listen to more lies is up to us.

[Media Matters] The fact that Bush doesn't admit mistakes has been reported by the media for years. For instance, in the September 11 edition of The New York Times, David Sanger reported, "Mr. Bush, his aides acknowledge, is loath to fire members of his administration or to take public actions that are tantamount to an admission of a major mistake." Brooks himself has previously noted the Bush administration's unwillingness to admit to mistakes. But what Brooks's September 11 account adds is that Bush is being intentionally dishonest -- in Brooks's words, "totally tactical and totally insincere" -- in resisting such public admissions and in blaming others when failures are too obvious to deny.

[Richard Cranium/All Spin Zone] This detached president is all about giving good face, and little else. In several national publications today, McFlightsuit has been characterized as “detached” and “ambivalent” to the disaster down south. Here's why - here's the problem - he has no boogeyman to assign blame to or declare war on. (Which, on 9/11/05 brings to mind the question, where's Osama?)
George Bush is in cruise control right now. He has absolutely no connnection to the grief and suffering experienced over the past 14 days by rich and poor alike in the Gulf Coast region. And I think it's just now striking him (and perhaps the GOP leadership in general) that it's not just the poor and disenfranchised (who he never had anyway). The well-to-do and middle class in the region saw the emperor laid barer than a newborn baby's ass.

[Lance Mannion] But, please.
"His doggedness is often admirable?"
When he doggedly pursues a course of failure and death in Iraq?
When he doggedly refuses to read memos that might tell him that terrorists planning on using hijacked airliners for kamikazee attacks on tall buildings like the World Trade Center are in the country and hard at work on their mission?
When he doggedly ignores Karl Rove's smear campaigns against political opponents?
When he doggedly persists in cutting taxes for his rich friends and relations and financial backers while the Federal budget implodes and deficits balloon and then, to protect those tax cuts, doggedly supports cutting benefits and programs for the middle class and the poor?
When he doggedly enjoys his vacation while a bereaved mother of a fallen soldier bakes in the Texas sun outside his toy ranch or when he doggedly attempts to finish it out while a Category 5 hurricane bears down on the Gulf Coast?
But suppose that like a stopped clock that's right twice a day Bush's doggedness is every now and then a good thing.
A temperamental tic is not a virtue.

UPDATE FROM MANNION: Josh Marshall reported that the Washington Post and Newsweek swallowed this whopper hook, line, and sinker from somebody in the Bush Administration determined that the blame game finishes with local officials taking all of the heat, that Louisiana Governor Blanco hadn't yet declared a State of Emergency days after Katrina hit when in fact she had declared one on August 26, the Friday before.

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bill Maher Rules...With his "Rules"

by Ms. Julien in Miami

The NEW RULES just, rule!

You can read the whole thing with the above link, but let's just share the best part here:

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."

Thanks to Julien's List readers Juanita and Jeannie for sending this....

Remind me again why gays cannot adopt?

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Please - someone tell me why I, a FL resident, live in the ONLY state in the Union where I cannot even adopt a child by myself, and why most (if not all) states would not allow an educated, loving, nurturing same sex couple to adopt one of the hundreds of thousands of children longing for a home.

Of course - this Ohio couple had NO problem adopting and/or fostering these kids. After all, one penis, one vagina = matter what.

Eleven Children Found Caged in Ohio Home

Sep 12, 9:46 PM (ET)

CLARKSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio (AP) - Sheriff's deputies found 11 children locked in cages rigged with alarms Monday in a north Ohio home.

The children, ages 1 to 14, were in cages in the walls of the home in Clarksfield Township, about 50 miles west of Cleveland. They had no blankets or pillows, according to the Huron County Sheriff's Office.

The children were taken to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. No information on their conditions was available late Monday.

Sharon and Mike Gravelle are adoptive or foster parents for all 11 children, officials said.

The Gravelles do not have a listed telephone number.

Few additional details were available late Monday. Prosecutors were reviewing the case, but no charges had yet been filed.

FEMA director Brown resigns

by John Howard

FEMA director Brown resigns

Finally, one of the idiots in this administration does something right. Let this be a lesson to Rumsfeld, Rice, Rove, Chertoff, Bush, aw fuck, the whole lot of them. When you are a miserable failure at your job, you let someone else try it. Not that I expect this to make anything better, after all, his successor will also be a Bush appointee, which is pretty much a guarantee of incompetence.

I also like the way Bush twists things around, like here:
A reporter asked Bush about criticism that a racial component was behind the government's slow response to the people left without help after Katrina hit.

"The storm didn't discriminate, and neither will the recovery effort," Bush said. "When those Coast Guard choppers -- many of whom were first on the scene -- were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin, they wanted to save lives.

Well, dickhead, no one said that the rescuers were discriminating or that the people that actually showed up to help were discriminating, they were talking about the overall response and the delay in the response disproportionately affecting blacks. Which is pretty hard to argue with when you see any video from around the convention center and Superdome in the days after the storm. Of course, leave it to you to equate criticism of the administration with criticism of the individuals actually doing the work. And why wouldn't you, it's worked very well for you with the war in Iraq.


Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Rove to Chimp: round up the faith-based 'brothers'

by Pam

As the upcoming, ridiculous smokescreen event, A National Day of PrayerTM approaches, the NYT runs a hilarious story on desperate attempt to get the recuitment of evangelical black voters back on track, "Gulf Coast Isn't the Only Thing Left in Tatters; Bush's Status With Blacks Takes Hit."

The flailing course-correction effort has Turdblossom working to corral as many of the bought-off pastors and get them out in front of the cameras as possible. At the top of Rove's list is millionaire preacher T.D. Jakes, who will be leading the Day of PrayerTM.
...behind the scenes in the West Wing, there has been anxiety and scrambling - after an initial misunderstanding, some of the president's advocates say, of the racial dimension to the crisis.

One of Mr. Bush's prominent African-American supporters called the White House to say he was aghast at the images from the president's first trip to the region, on Sept. 2, when Mr. Bush stood next to Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama, both white Republicans, and praised them for a job well done. Mr. Bush did not go into the heart of New Orleans to meet with black victims.

"I said, 'Grab some black people who look like they might be preachers,' " said the supporter, who asked not to be named because he did not want to be identified as criticizing the White House. Three days later, on Mr. Bush's next trip to the region, the president appeared in Baton Rouge at the side of T. D. Jakes, the conservative African-American television evangelist and the founder of a 30,000-member megachurch in southwest Dallas.

Bishop Jakes, a multimillionaire and best-selling author, is to deliver the sermon this Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, his office said, where Mr. Bush will mark a national day of prayer for Hurricane Katrina's victims. The bishop's style of preaching is black Pentecostal - he roars and rumbles in performances that got him on the cover of Time magazine as "America's best preacher" in 2001. More important to Mr. Rove, he has become a vital partner in the White House effort to court the black vote.
The story continues to nakedly tie the faith-based cash flow party to the Bush newfound public love of the darkies in the storm zone, as Bush made sure some face time to his shuffling minions as damage control. He had plenty of takers ready to belly up to the bar for the Chimp.
Last week, the White House continued its political recovery effort among African-Americans through its network of conservative black preachers like Bishop Jakes. Many of them have received millions of dollars for their churches through Mr. Bush's initiative to support religious-based social services - a factor, Republicans say, in Mr. Bush's small increase in support among black voters, from 9 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2004.

On Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room, Mr. Bush met with black preachers and leaders of national charities, and sat next to Bishop Roy L. H. Winbush, a black religious leader from Louisiana [and, along with Jakes, a strong supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment]. On Thursday, two senior White House officials, Claude Allen and James Towey, held a conference call with black religious leaders to ask what needed to be done. Mr. Towey is the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and Mr. Allen, who is African-American, is the president's domestic policy adviser.

One Bush supporter, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, the president of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, a coalition that represents primarily black churches, said last week that something positive might come out of the crisis. "This is a moral and intellectual opportunity for the Bush administration to clearly articulate a policy agenda for the black poor," Mr. Rivers said in an interview.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

'Brownie' gets the boot, er, 'resigns'

by Pam

"I think it's in the best interest of the agency and the best interest of the president to do that and get the media focused on the good things that are going on, instead of me."
He feared he "would be a distraction" to FEMA's relief effort. Don't let the door hit you on the way can have all the margaritas you want now. (AP):
Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president," three days after losing his onsite command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

"The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there," Brown told The Associated Press.
I wonder if Darth's boot print is on his ass?

No Sharia Law in Canada

by TheGreenKnight

The Toronto Star reports that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has decided against allowing sharia family-law tribunals in Ontario, and will also eliminate other religiously-based tribunals. He said,
"I've come to the conclusion that the debate has gone on long enough. There will be no sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians...Ontarians will always have the right to seek advice from anyone in matters of family law, including religious advice. But no longer will religious arbitration be deciding matters of family law."
It's the right decision. Separation of religion and state is essential for the health both of religion and of the state, and Premier McGuinty has made a good decision. He also has avoided singling out Islam in his decision, which would have been unfair discrimination. The Green Knight is not overall a huge fan of Mr. McGuinty, but in this case he approves unhesitatingly.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Katrina and Hobbes

by TheGreenKnight

Before he made a dope of himself on This Week by suggesting that the real lesson of Hurricane Katrina was that black people shouldn't have so much sex, George Will had an interesting take in Newsweek:

In 1651, in "Leviathan," Hobbes said that in "the state of nature," meaning in the absence of a civil society sustained by government, mankind's natural sociability, if any, is so tenuous that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Thoughtful conservatives—meaning those whose conservatism arises from reflections deeper than an aversion to high marginal tax rates—are conservative because they understand how thin and perishable is the crust of civilization, and hence how always near society's surface are the molten passions that must be checked by force when they cannot be tamed by socialization.

Well, you don't need to be a conservative to understand all of that. What struck me reading this passage, in fact, is just how far from conservative the Bush administration and its supporters really are. These are the people who, after all, are always trying to weaken government, and whose policies seem to assume that people in "the state of nature" will simply be naturally virtuous, all by themselves.

You can see that philosophy in the invasion of Iraq, for example. The administration, it seems, honestly did not expect chaos to erupt with the removal of Saddam's regime. The idea behind the invasion was, remove the tyrant and people will be free. The idea was, people left to their own devices are naturally free.

But freedom is not natural. It requires, as Hobbes (and Will) say, a set of structures in order to function. It requires a minimal set of agreed-upon rules and mutual understandings. It does not always require force, per se, but it does require a certain amount of predictability.

For example, when you walk down the sidewalk of a busy street, you have cars, buses, and trucks whipping by you at top speed merely feet away. But because you all know where the sidewalk ends and the street begins, that doesn't really bother you. It's not that accidents can't happen, but because people on the whole follow the traffic rules, you can walk down the sidewalk trusting that you won't be run over. But suppose you were standing out in a field somewhere and you saw a truck approaching you. Suppose it were to pass mere feet away from you. You'd run for your life, even if the truck came no closer to you than it would if you were on a sidewalk and it were on a street. Why? Because in the situation in the field, there are no traffic rules (This example is taken from Heath and Potter's book, The Rebel Sell). It's not that you have "molten passions under the surface" -- that's actually Freud, not Hobbes -- it's just that you can't have confidence where there are no rules and no predictability.

Similarly, if the people in New Orleans had been able to have confidence in FEMA, for example, the city would surely not have descended into chaos the way that it did. As it is, most people still seem to have behaved with remarkable restraint given the circumstances. But if there was a breakdown in the social order, it was because those structures that are supposed to preserve that order, give it some shape and predictability, broke down and failed first. The Bill O'Reilly/Bush/neocon/Thatcherite look only after yourself philosophy was fully on display -- both in the lack of assistance and in its chaotic results. It's not "molten passions" or hidden barbarism that caused people to lose control -- again, that's Freud, not Hobbes -- it's just the fact that they were in an out-of-control situation.

Will concludes his Newsweek essay by saying,
Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security.
The interesting thing here is that Will has, predictably, sorted out these two lessons into "liberal" and "conservative" camps, as if the two lessons were opposed to each other. But they aren't opposed to each other at all: the first lesson is about the importance of the public sector, i.e. the government, while the second is about the importance of the government, i.e., of the public sector. Again, you have to ask yourself, who in the USA is actually opposed to the public sector? Who is actually opposed to the notion that the government has an important role to play in people's lives? Who is actually pushing the idea that if you just got rid of the public sector -- the entity whose job it is to give order and predictability to our infrastructure -- everything would be great?

Those who, currently and incorrectly, call themselves conservatives, that's who. But the result of their ideology was on display in the chaos of New Orleans following the hurricane. Hobbes was right, but not because people are brutes. He was right because people need structure, the kind that only government can provide in a crisis. If you want to see the logical end of anti-government, late Republican ideology, look no farther than New Orleans after the hurricane.

Cross-posted to The Green Knight.

Too Much of a Good Thing

by The Heretik


Freedom Walk Marches Over Freedom Battle of Abu Ghraib War Hero Donald Rumsfeld rocked Washington at a September Eleventh Freedom Walk where protesters were arrested. A little freedom is too much for some.

The NY Times Reports: Earlier in the day, several protesters appeared to run into trouble with the large police presence at the Pentagon and along the route. One man who registered for the walk was detained by a Pentagon police officer after he slipped a black hood over his head and produced a sign that read, "Freedom?"
The man was removed from the Pentagon registration area, handcuffed and taken away in a police car. It was not clear whether he was charged or simply detained and the police did not respond to messages requesting more information. [more]

TheWashington Post Says: On the Pentagon walk, helicopters flew overhead and dozens of police officers carrying many plastic handcuffs, ready to make arrests, smiled to walkers along the route. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld joined the walk and was treated like a rock star, hounded by passersby who begged his Secret Service detail to snap their photos with him.[more]

The Heretik Notes: Yesterday also marked the fourth anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s freedom. No parades for that.

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

Google is even cooler - variation on a theme

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Remember this exercise?

Well, this time:

1. Go to Google
2. Type in "failure"
3. Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky"
4. The truth is revealed...



by Ms. Julien in Miami

This from Marty (AmericanOnLine), a co-blogger at Julien's List. Can't say it any better than this:


He is clearly a man with little sense for governing, leading, administrating, or having a creative idea.

He is a humiliation and embarrassment to all Americans.

I am convinced that if he were not on vacation his conduct would have been much worse. Why?

In the White House he would have been preoccupied with many other issues. At least in Crawford, he managed to ruin everything he has while fully focused. Imagine what a mess if he were not fully focused?

Conservatives have always touted Bush's leadership, resolve and tenacity. They have always been wrong about him. They deluded themselves and their flock and lied about all that was obvious to those not hooked to his dollars.

He came to this office by way of his father and the Democrats' weakness. Not by virtue of his aptitude or capacity.

He is a loser. A failure. A selfish little man, whose use of drugs and drink have had forever scarred clear thinking, if he was ever capable of that.

And to what end?

Each and every important matter that he was charged with he has failed at:



Defense of the Nation at home.

Uniting America.

Bringing compassion to America.


Ethics in government.

Appointments based up qualification.


Health Insurance.

And all that we require as critical to our nation's health, welfare and safety.

It's hard to believe that god will bless America with such anti-Christians in charge.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

True, "Amurkan" Sportsmen

by Ms. Julien in Miami

President Bush, who inturrupted his vacation to check out the flooding in New Orleans, found time for a little relaxation during his tour of the city:

NOLA doctors: 'We had to put down our patients'

by Pam

"Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."
--emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen on patients euthanized in NOLA during the chaos
I think we know in our hearts that given the conditions we knew about during the darkest hours of the aftermath of Katrina, with hospitals without power, AC and clean water, that for the sickest patients it was misery. There was gunfire and lawlessness outside the hospital.

For the doctors with a conscience you know it had to come down to this. These men and women cannot be punished for doing what they had to do when it was unclear whether anyone one was coming to help them, the gravely ill, and the dying. (Daily Mail):
Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

In an extraordinary interview with The Mail on Sunday, one New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.

Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials. ...Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana, and The Mail on Sunday is protecting the identities of the medical staff concerned to prevent them being made scapegoats for the events of last week. Their families believe their confessions are an indictment of the appalling failure of American authorities to help those in desperate need after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, claiming thousands of lives and making 500,000 homeless.

..."I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul." The doctor, who finally fled her hospital late last week in fear of being murdered by the armed looters, said: "This was not murder, this was compassion. They would have been dead within hours, if not days. We did not put people down. What we did was give comfort to the end.

"I had cancer patients who were in agony. In some cases the drugs may have speeded up the death process. "We divided patients into three categories: those who were traumatised but medically fit enough to survive, those who needed urgent care, and the dying.

"People would find it impossible to understand the situation. I had to make life-or-death decisions in a split second.

"It came down to giving people the basic human right to die with dignity.
The Freepi are trying to say this is a hoax, though some of their own say this story was reported on the air on FoxNews as well.

Another paper covering this is the Daily Telegraph. American McQueen is married to a Brit, which might additionally explain why this story is not getting MSM attention, aside from the queasy, ethical issues/Schiavo factor. Guess they just cannot handle the truth...

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

A black homo-bigot pastor spews, and Rick Perry does nothing

by Pam

Texas Governor Rick Perry opened his state to Katrina victims. Presumably some of them were gay. I guess it's A-OK with him that one of Bush's homo-bigoted black pastors, Rev. Dwight McKissic, of Arlington's Cornerstone Baptist Church, got up and unleashed one of those "blame gays for Katrina" diatribes at public events Perry attended, tying the fate of the whole Gulf region to "decadent" New Orleans and the homos:

"They have devil worship. They advertise 'Sin City' tours. They celebrate Southern decadence. Girls go wild in New Orleans. Sometimes God does not speak through natural phenomena. This may have nothing to do with God being offended by homosexuality. But possibly it does."
Rick didn't object. As I posted earlier this week, most of the homo-bigot pastors have been MIA on Katrina, including McKissic. I'm glad to see he's stirred up the hornet's nest with some in-character commentary that exposes this faith-based pig at the taxpayer trough for who he is -- what a compassionate conservative. (Austin American-Statesman):
Gov. Rick Perry spoke at two private events this week where a Texas minister wondered if God sent Hurricane Katrina to purify the nation of sins, including homosexuality. The GOP leader didn't object at the gatherings in San Antonio and Houston on Thursday.

Gubernatorial spokesman Robert Black, contacted Friday, said: "The governor does not agree with that. But far be it for the governor to try to divine the will of the Almighty. Americans of all faiths need to come together at this point in time to help the victims of this tragedy," he said. Black said Perry speaks at hundreds of events annually and "sure doesn't do public critiques of what every speaker says." [Come on, McKissic's remarks are outrageous; there is no excuse not to respond to such hateful sh*t -- unless you agree with it.]

The Rev. Dwight McKissic, organizing pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, said he asked only if God sent the hurricane "to purify our nation."

Perry and McKissic addressed the Texas Restoration Project, which seeks to register 300,000 voters. [Do you think they hope to add the new settlers to the GOP rolls?]

...One of the attendees, the Rev. Don Wilkey of Onalaska, on Lake Livingston in East Texas, said the comments offended him, especially at a Christian gathering. The Rev. Laurence White of Houston, the project's chairman, said McKissic did not reflect the project's position. McKissic said his remarks didn't attack evacuees. His church has committed $200,000 to help victims pay a month's rent, he said.
It's not as if Rick Perry needs to hide his views on gays and lesbians and the marriage amendment that will be on the ballot in his state this year...

I love running this picture and quote. Remember Perry's godawful bullsh*t back in June? Fastidious Rick would like to ship all the gay folks out of the Lone Star State.

Also see:
* "Homo-hating TX Gov Rick Perry spams for marriage amendment votes"
* The Real Sins of Gov. Perry

Hat tip AmericaBlog

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

One Ugly Rack...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Seeing these posts about DUMBYA and JEBBIE, I just had to post this pic, found amongst the cartoons on the Dark Wraith Forums Message Board.

FEMA's 10 Regional Directors' Bios

by Ms. Julien in Miami

From Julien's List guest contributor, Judy:

Are you feeling safer now? NOT...
EMA's 10 Regional Directors' Bios

The Federal Emergency Management Agency divides the country into ten regions and each has a regional director setting policy and programs, in the event of a disaster.

As you can see from their bios, which I've excerpted below, some may have disaster relief experience, but quite a few appear to have very little expertise for this crucial public safety field.

Based on their FEMA bios, I'd say the worst of the lot are Region 1's Horak, who's experience in retailing and p.r. consulting; Region 3's Arcuri, who's bio lists no qualifications, just a resume detailing her rise through the FEMA ranks; Region 8's Maurstad, who's created programs honoring teenage leaders for their courage; and the most unqualified may be Region 10's Pennington, who authored more than 30 laws when he serves in the WA legislature.

Check out today's Seattle Times article on Pennington and his piss-pour resume for disaster expertise.

Given the recent abysmal record of FEMA, I'm not willing to say any of the agency's regional directors are qualified and ready to meet the challenges of disasters and relief efforts, for the simple reason we know how FEMA's head, idiot Michael Brown, padded his resume and experience.

Check out the Bio's of all 10 FEMA Regional Directors at this post:

Dialogue on Hopelessness

by Dark Wraith

After publishing the article "Let Slip the Mercenaries to Our Shores," concerning the deployment of soldiers of fortune in New Orleans, one of the regular commenters at The Dark Wraith Forums expressed well a theme that has become increasingly evident to me. Wild Clover wrote the following:

The worst thing about my vacation was my essentially 5 days without news. Now that I'm seeing/hearing it again, I'm so sporking depressed and hopeless feeling. The gradual accumulation of outrages and things "not right" is dealt with, the pressure mounting a bit at a time. The first day at the camp ground, I moved my neck and it cracked for the first time in months with neither drugs nor massage. I have to wonder what this chinese water torture of stress we are all under is doing at the subliminal level to our citizens.

But to go from almost no current news to tales of the hurricane, government as usual under Busco, and rising gas is horrendous. I have a feeling that if more folks could take the time to step away from reality for a week and then plunge back, the number of folks saying our country is heading the wrong way would double.

Wild Clover, in her straight and earnest way, expresses the thoughts of many.

In the early days and perhaps even years of the Bush Administration, much of what the progressive community felt was anticipation of difficult times ahead: the liberal and open society was threatened as it had been in the time of Ronald Reagan; but as in that earlier era, it would pass, and the consequences would come to be blunted by cooler, less ideological Republicans working with increasingly effective Democratic opponents of the harshest of Reagan's nonsense. Mr. Reagan left office without so much a legacy as a legend upon which his conservative supporters could look back wistfully and through which the media could create a less-than-honest window back to the 1980s.

The Bush Administration is different. The neo-conservative propellent that animates it with the twin demons of spite for liberalism and hubris in political action was not diminished by the elections of 2004. Far too many people still swaggered in unison with Mr. Bush's foolish world view, and the mendacity of his people seemed to be diminished not one iota.

Mr. Bush will appoint two Supreme Court justices, thereby altering for the next several generations the quality and character of the nation's jurisprudence. The Congressional Republicans will make permanent provisions and expansions of the Patriot Act. The world will be torn from one conflict to another, sponsored by the United States in its role as arbiter of which nations become failed states by its standard of inability to effectively defend their borders from invading American troops. Catastrophic failures of leadership to protect citizens from death and destruction, as happened on the occasions of both Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of September 11, 2005, will be opportunities to further distinguish the surviving citizens from those of a free country.

This is the new world of the 21st Century.

I wrote this response to Wild Clover:
The word "hopelessness" was used by Shakespeare's Sister in a post the other day.

It is a crushing sentiment at the end of a long battle, when no possibility of victory remains. I cannot tell you that hopelessness is the feeling right before victory, nor can I tell you that hopelessness is some irrational sense that should be abandoned because it is somehow "defeatist" or "unproductive."

I wish I could say those things to you and to all who are looking into the abyss; but I cannot.

Here's what I can tell you: we are not lost.

But by "we," I do not mean "We the People" of a nation that never quite understood its destiny, that never quite fulfilled its promise, that never quite knew that its words about freedom really meant something more than the grim drivel of empires that had come before.

By "we," I instead mean "We the people" of a world that can still go forward against tyrannies, against the monsters of the abyss, against the womb from which our dreams of liberty issued forth, bloody, screaming for life, hungering for hope.

We the people can look down the barrel of that abyss and still yet win; but it will not be a victory of the abyss standing down and bursting into light, but of our own spirit standing up and bursting from the shadow of this hated and loathesome time.

Speak your peace; but also rage in your anger. Live life as a free person that when you die, you will die as a warrior marching home from the greatest of all battles.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Friends in High Places

by The Heretik


Having Friends In High Places helps in getting Katrina rebuilding contracts. Whether George Bush is still as high as he used to be and thinks the public will stand for this remains to been seen. The profits for cronies obviously will be obscene. Welcome to the porn of power. You suck? You’re hired!

Average Joes Need Not Apply Contracts will be given out to well connected, below average Joe performers.[story]

Recommended Reading
[CNN] At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Krugman Sees Iraq Part Two [NYTimes] All that's missing from the Katrina story is an expensive reconstruction effort, with lucrative deals for politically connected companies, that fails to deliver essential services. But give it time - they're working on that, too.
Why did the administration make the same mistakes twice? Because it paid no political price the first time.

Is This White House Untouchable? This White House thinks it's untouchable. As TChris pointed out earlier today, Bush's poll numbers continue to drop. Sooner or later, the American public is going to say "enough." [more at TalkLeft]

It's Not Gonna Happen The city of New Orleans is not going to be rebuilt . . . All the brave rhetoric about the indomitable human spirit
notwithstanding, we may want to consider some realities. As much as it
causes heartache to those of us who love New Orleans -- the whole
place, not just the one of myth and memory -- cities are not forever.
Look at Babylon, Carthage, Pompeii. [Joel Garreau/Washington Post]

Cynicism Inc Really, this Katrina thing promises to work out well for the Bush Team. Congress promises to shovel billions of dollars to federal agencies staffed with Bush cronies. And they can be counted on to pass most of these dollars along to other Bush cronies in the private sector. [Maha]

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

September 11th

by John Howard

With all the times it has been hammered into us in the past four years that we have to remember it, along with all the terrible things that have been justified using it as an excuse, it's almost difficult to separate the tragedy that occured from all those things and remember it for what it really was. However, with all the suffering and pointless death wehave seen in the last couple of weeks following the hurricane, it does seem to bring it back into its proper perspective. And I hope with the hurricane, we can try to learn from the mistakes that were made following September 11th and not repeat them, and maybe take another look at all the things that we have done since then in the name of security and truly evaluate whether they have made us more secure. The most important thing I think we should remember is that even if we can all agree that something horrible happened, it doesn't mean we have to shut up and accept any response that invokes the tragedy as its justification in the name of unity. We were all united after September 11th, and look where that has gotten us. We are at war with the wrong country, with no end in sight, and if the hurricane has shown us anything, it's that we're not any safer at home because of, and we might actually be worse off.

Anyway, I'm not really good at finding words to commemorate events or anything like that, but since this is the first anniversary of September 11th that I have had an outlet for my thoughts, I didn't want to let it pass without something to mark it. And as we use today to remember the people who died needlessly on that day, let's also make sure we don't use it as an excuse for more needless death in the future.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Another great thought from "The Truth"

by Ms. Julien in Miami

The GOP reads directly from the NAZI'S playbook. Take this for example:

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endagering the country. It works the same in every country"

Herman Goering
Hitler's Reichsmarschall at the Nuremberg Trials.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Jeb Bush Doesn't Care About Black People (Either)

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Falling black college enrollment in Florida puts heat on Gov. Bush's policy

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 10 —
New figures show fewer black students are attending Florida universities, providing ammunition for critics of Gov. Jeb Bush's 5-year-old policy that excludes race in admissions decisions.

Go figure - both of Barbara's boys are of the story is HERE.

Google is cool - do this for a laugh...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Go to Google, and type in the word:


Then look at the first link.


Dr. Marble

by Shakespeare's Sister

Ben Marble is an emergency room physician, an organizer of breast cancer fundraisers, an alt-rocker, and an artist. He also lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, like lots of other people. But there’s something that makes him special.

He’s the man who told Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.
Marble, who was wearing an old Mr. T "I Pity Da Fool" t-shirt since he was sifting through the wreckage, asked a couple of police officers if he and a friend could walk down to Cheney. They told him Cheney was "looking forward” to talking to “the locals.”

"So we grabbed my Canon digital rebel and my Sony videocamera and started walking down the street," Marble wrote. "And then right in front of the destroyed tennis court I used to play on Dick Cheney was giving a pep rally, talking to the press. The Secret Service guys patted us down and waved the wands over us, and then let us pass."

As he stood about 10 feet away from Cheney and his friend and some camera operators from CNN and other media filmed the scene, Marble suddenly yelled, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney! Go fuck yourself, you asshole!"
You can read the rest of his account, including his experience being briefly detained, here. He’s also got a couple of snaps here, as part of his website,

Thank you, Dr. Marble, for saying what we’d all loved to have said given the opportunity, you cheeky little hero.

(Hat tip to Shaker Deborah. Thanks, D!)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Special Analysis Report:
Let Slip the Mercenaries to Our Shores

by Dark Wraith

Blackwater USA, a company based in North Carolina that provides private security forces to the Pentagon for on-going operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, has deployed no fewer than 50 and perhaps as many as 150 of its security personnel to the Gulf Coast region. A company online periodical dated September 5, 2005, details services that will be provided by the private contractor: airlift, security, humanitarian support, and logistics and transportation. These four areas are consistent with the company's listed mission services provided in war zones. The "security services" aspect is most directly indicative that the Blackwater personnel will be armed. Reports have already been published of Blackwater security personnel who "openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles."

The use of mercenaries by the United States is by no means an invention of the Bush Administration. In modern times, the Johnson Administration, as part of its "More Flags" initiative, hired soldiers of fortune from Korea, The Phillipines, and Thailand to supplement U.S. troops in the Vietnam theatre of combat. More recently, the Reagan Administration blurred the line between war by proxy using indigenous personnel and war by mercenary involvement in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s: while many, if not most, of the guerilla fighters were from Afghan tribes, the "base"—in Arabic, "al Qa'ida"—used by the Pentagon at the time included jihadists from Pakistan and other countries whose involvement, although in part inspired by religious considerations, was certainly funded in its military role by the United States. More importantly, it was during the Reagan years that private contractors, often but not always CIA front companies, became heavily involved in the transport of war materiel and support equipment to rebels in Central America. This was in addition to the far more direct military support, through training provided in Honduras under the direction of John Negroponte, of some of the most brutal attack squads destined for operations in Communist-controlled Nicaragua that the region had ever experienced.

Mercenaries as a vital, if ancillary, component of a total force matrix has a long history, indeed. The importance of such private contractors has varied from war to war, and there is considerable dispute about their criticality in the Pentagon's current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been suggested that one important role they play is not in their limited combat configuration, but rather in the lack of transparency in their operations, and most importantly, in their casualty rates. Recognizing that deaths of military personnel in wars can have political consequences on the home front, transferring at least part of the death rate to private resources that do not have to disclose such information relieves the Pentagon of some of the backlash that would otherwise result from American personnel being killed, particularly as a war becomes less popular domestically and opposition to the war zeroes in on such matters as the number of service men and women dying and being severely wounded.

All of that having been noted, even if it can be reasonably argued that mercenary forces are important in the war resources inventory, their use by the United States federal government on domestic soil is, if not entirely unique, certainly without well-known precedent in the modern era (although private security firms have supplemented local and state law enforcement efforts from time to time). That these soldiers of fortune are, themselves, United States citizens blunts what would otherwise be a loud outcry; but their presence in the Gulf Coast region, in at least some role acting as patrols in the evacuated areas of New Orleans, has raised eyebrows and caused consternation.

Blackwater USA contracts with the United States government to provide security forces that primarily protect personnel and shipments moving across regions where conflict is anticipated or on-going. Generally speaking, its personnel have military backgrounds, and the company is but one of many thousands that offer employment to former employees of the Pentagon, creating what has come to be derisively known as a "revolving door" relationship between the military public sector and private sector companies seeking government contracts. Illustrative of this is the recent resignation of Defense Department Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz under a barrage of accusations that he had actively blocked two investigations of criminal activity by senior Bush Administration officials: Mr. Schmitz has taken a position with the parent company of Blackwater USA, the private defense contractor that has now secured security work in New Orleans.

The complexity of backchannel relationships between the government that needs private goods and services and the companies that offer them has many aspects, some of which will never be fully known or understood by those not directly involved. In the case of mercenaries now patrolling the nearly abandoned streets of New Orleans, this matter is moot in light of the broader issue of the overall militarization of the Gulf Coast region, which has now become a base of military operations, complete even with warships on the Mississippi, for the entire region. Considered in the large scheme of what has become a common, accepted, and vital part of warcraft under the Bush Administration, the deployment of mercenaries on a new battlefront that is within the borders of the United States of America, itself, is not at all shocking: it is war as usual.

The only difference is that, now, war has come home to America.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums and has been updated as of 8:30 p.m. EDT on September 10, 2005, with new information regarding private security force levels provided by Ron Brynaert.

Schwarzenegger Plugs Own Political Levee

by thatcoloredfella

In the continuing shadow of what is more important for the nation at this moment, those who may be angered over California Governor Schwarzenegger’s expected veto of the legislatively passed bill allowing same sex marriage in the state should put this politically calculated move also in its properly pragmatic perspective.

For a strongly backed, party candidate that epitomized the very definition of a RINO (Republican In Name Only), the professed socially Libertarian ‘Govenator’ now cowering to the socially Conservative that makes up most of what’s left of his shrinking base, smacks of political desperation - with just a hint of delicious irony.

Politically savvy gay/lesbian Californians could give Schwarzenegger a pass here, if they recognize this veto comes with the strongly, hinted assumption that the state’s Supreme Court will eventually overrule the passed Proposition 22 citing it also violates Constitutional equal protection guarantees, as nearly every major court decision previously. However, they should not also assume that this is the opening salvo of the ‘Culture War’ that will be the linchpin of his expected re-election bid.

He may be in trouble, but he’s not Frist Foolish or DeLay Dim-Witted.

(Cross-posted at That Colored Fellas weblog)

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Friend Joe

by Shakespeare's Sister

Tonight, I sat down to write a kind of “Boy, what a shitty week, but keep fighting the good fight!” kind of post. And I couldn’t do it. I just felt overwhelmed with hopelessness. So I sat for a moment, choking back tears, unable to look ahead, instead seeing only what lay behind, this awful week, so much suffering, so much pain. So I replied to an email from my friend Joe. Joe replied, “IM?” And so we two ghosts, who know each other only through words and pictures—nothing tangible, but things that linger and connect nonetheless—met, as it were, and I poured out my despair.

“Quote Faulkner,” Joe told me.

He was writing a post, and I figured he was looking for a specific quote. I gave him what I had. “‘A man’s moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.’”

“Ooh, that is a good one,” said Joe.

Not the one he needed, I guessed. “How about, ‘Man will not merely endure; he will prevail’?” I suggested.

“The most quoted,” Joe noted. “Not even in book; Nobel Prize speech.”

“‘Others have done it before me. I can, too’?” I went on. “‘Given the choice between grief and nothing, I’ll choose grief’?”

“Good,” said Joe. “You are just full of them.”

Joe wasn’t in need of Faulkner for his post. I was in need of Faulkner to regain the fight in me again.

“Is this just a trick to get my blood pumping again?” I asked. “Sneaky.”

“Yeah, well you know,” said Joe.

“I do,” I told him.

“I have been found out,” he said.

Soon, I was laughing again, the knot in my throat dissipating, cured of the sense of futility which hung on me. “You are coming out it,” Joe said.

And indeed I was.

I once described Joe to a mutual friend as a guardian angel, a little glowing bit of goodness in the dark, hovering just out of reach, as ghosts and angels do. Our friend agreed it was an apt description. Tonight Joe reminded me, as does he always, why I regard him so. Such generosity and kindness, and such reserves of strength, that on a night when my will was shaken, he gave me some of his, whatever he could spare. I will do the same for him when the time comes, because in one way or another, we are all guardians of one other, and the precious purpose we have all taken up, to protect what we think is right and good. The road is long, and impossible to travel without faltering, without losing our stride now and again. Companions on the journey are all that can keep us going.

“Whatever feeling I have can be yours for the night,” Joe told me. “You can borrow on it. Sometime I may need yours. Why does that matter? It matters because there is something in you, something in this country that can be beaten down, but cannot be defeated.”

You know, I don’t believe in angels, but I do believe in Joe.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Miami Beach Moves To Require Contractors Provide Gay Benefits

by Ms. Julien in Miami

(Miami Beach, Florida) Miami Beach commissioners have given preliminary approval to an ordinance that would require most companies doing business with the city to provide benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees.

Similar requirements are in place in San Francisco, New York and a dozen other cities, but if the Miami Beach ordinance wins final approval it would be the first municipality in Florida with such a plan.

Although there are some exemptions, the ordinance requires that any business that competes for a city contract must provide domestic partner health insurance, family medical leave and other benefits. Broward county has an ordinance suggesting companies offer benefits but does not require them to do so.

Only couples who are registered domestic partners of employees would be included in the mandate.

But, if companies balk at the requirement they would be excluded from city work.

Last July Miami Beach commissioners approved an ordinance amending the human rights law to ban discrimination against transgendered people and then voted to establish a domestic partnership registry that gives unmarried couples most of the rights the city gives to married couples.

The benefits ordinance will receive a final vote on October 19.

The Truth

by Ms. Julien in Miami

I saw a wonderful letter by a commenter on AmericaBlog who goes by the handle "Truth". Unfortunately, the link to "Truth's" homepage is not correct, so I could not contact him or her. But I feel this is a letter that should be heard 'round the blogosphere:


Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld should be impeached and then arrested.

ATTENTION CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS. We know you know in your heart that what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have done far exceeds the moral AND legal test for impeachment. So…. why won't you stand up and say so? Why won't you and your fellow Dems stand up and say what we all know to be true?

You have a duty to the American people, yourself and humanity to GO TO THE MAT on this and to do it now. Shut down the governments business if that's what you have to do to move this forward and pound it into the American mind. Use whatever guerilla parliamentary procedure is available to you. Say and do nothing else until the GOP agrees to investigate what any sane and just mind considers horrific crimes. No legislation, no issue, nothing you can personally gain or lose is more important than this. Nothing is more important than cutting this cancer from our government. Our safety, perhaps even our very survival depends on it.

Mountains of evidence show that these people are war criminals and traitors. You must stop them before they take us to war again, before they sell out our national security again. They have no right to do what they are doing. It is your right and your duty to stop them. Only you and your fellow elected congressional Democrats can get this done. This is why the people elected you.

Stand shoulder to shoulder, stand tall. Say what you believe, say it loud, say it all the time: they have committed impeachable offences. And I promise you, in the end, not only will you know you've done the right thing, but politically you'll come out on top. The American people will come to know traitors and criminals in their midst if you show them often enough what they look like. And in the end they will be grateful.

Senator Rockefeller, if you let Pat Roberts go back on his word to investigate the administrations use of intelligence history will never forgive you. History will hunt you down and punish you to the very same degree as those who have committed these despicable acts. Where are you? What could be more important than ensuring our leaders don’t twist intelligence to make fraudulent cases for war? As a member of the United States Senate you have the power to make sure this goes forward. You will have to put it on the line to be sure, but this is the right thing to do. Senator, we beg you, live up to your name. Stand tall in important ways.

Congressman Rangel, that was a very nice press release regarding all the killing in Iraq and when will stop. Thank you for your words. Since you penned them 60 more young, impressionable (presumably disadvantaged) Americans have died in Iraq. Words are no longer enough. Our country needs action.

Congressman Waxman, thank you for all your letters to the administration and the GOP leadership. You have shown you know right from wrong. But you have done little else. They are not listening. They don’t care. They have nothing but contempt not only for you, but for much of what America is supposed to be about. Your letters have proven to be entirely inadequate.

And Congressman Conyers... along with Congressman Waxman you have said, written, and requested much from and about this administration. You have said a lot of words that needed to be said.

But now it is clear we need different words now. We need words like IMPEACHEMENT and ARREST. Words like TREASON and HIGH CRIMES. We the American people need to hear words like SOLD OUT THE SECURITY OF OUR COUNTRY, OF OUR CHILDREN AND OUR LOVED ONES in order to try and COVER UP THEIR FRAUDLENT CASE FOR WAR. And we need to hear it from you and all your fellow congressional Democrats EVERY DAY.

These are simple concepts. And once you push these words and ideas into the American mind the game will be over. Congressional Republicans will then truly fear for their own jobs. And with good reason. YOU WILL COME OUT ON TOP POLITICALLY. In fact, you have the chance to crush the Republican Party. With this war and the way in which we were driven to it you have the great weight of the truth, the God awful truth. Bring it out and you will crush the conservative movement.

You all owe your constituents a course of action that is effective. At this point it is clear the intransigence of this administration and the GOP leadership knows no bounds. And thus it is clear that NOTHING you will do will have any effect at all, short of standing with your fellow Democrats and doing whatever possible to shut-it-all-down until open, good faith, adequately funded and staffed congressional investigations are underway and these ideas are front and center in our media culture. America deserves nothing less. America as we know it depends on your actions in the next weeks and months. You can do it. God speed…

Please, fellow bloggers, share this - and please make sure someone left with a heart in the Democratic castles of D.C. and those in the MSM who have not yet drunk the Kool-Aid see it also...

Ms. Julien

Activists plan 9/11 Katrina protest

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Bring it on, I say:

Activists are organizing plans for Katrina survivors to march in Washington D.C. on and plan to stage an act of civil disobedience by building an encampment on the Washington D.C. mall on Sept. 11, RAW STORY has learned. The encampment would serve as a center for Katrina activism.

Two websites have been established to support the cause: and In the past day, unique hits on have risen from 239 to 3,562, organizers said.

The term "Bushville" was inspired by encampments of homeless people dubbed "Hoovervilles" that sprang up following the Great Depression.

Rest of the article HERE.

We are already seeing some semblance of "Bushvilles" are we not?

Lost Your Home? Go to Prison!

by TheGreenKnight

Valhall just got back from a camp set up for the survivors of Katrina.

At first, it sounds pretty nice although isolated:
Falls Creek is like a small town that is closed down about 9 months out of the year. It is made up of cabins that range from small and humble to large and grandiose, according to how much money the church who owns the cabin has. Each cabin has full kitchen facilities, bathrooms and usually have two large bunkrooms - one for women and one for men. The occupancy of the cabins varies according to the church. This past week the Southern Baptist association of Oklahoma offered the facility as a place to house refugees from the Katrina disaster. Each church owning a cabin was then called to find out if they would make their cabin available. Churches across the state agreed.
Sounds all right, yes? Cabins, kitchens, working bathrooms, a little community. Could be a lot worse.

But as Valhall recounts her journey in words and photos, it becomes increasingly clear what life is actually going to be like for the people who've been sent there:
They will not be able to use the kitchen.

Excuse me? I asked incredulously.

FEMA will not allow any of the kitchen facilities in any of the cabins to be used by the occupants due to fire hazards. FEMA will deliver meals to the cabins. The refugees will be given two meals per day by FEMA. They will not be able to cook. In fact, the "host" goes on to explain, some churches had already enquired about whether they could come in on weekends and fix meals for the people staying in their cabin. FEMA won't allow it because there could be a situation where one cabin gets steaks and another gets hot dogs - and...

it could cause a riot.
No, wait, it gets worse:
The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and "a sum of money" and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months....

My mother then asked if the churches would be allowed to come to their cabin and conduct services if the occupants wanted to attend. The response was "No ma'am. You don't understand. Your church no longer owns this building. This building is now owned by FEMA and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol."
Read the whole thing. The homeless of New Orleans are now prisoners.

Remember during the Clinton era, when a number of right-wing conspiracy theorists were saying that FEMA was really the evil secret government that would dump us all into prison camps? Remember how reasonable people thought they were all nuts?

Looks like they may have been on to something. FEMA can't save people's lives, but damn, it sure can incarcerate them.

Hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister.

Cross-posted to The Green Knight.

No Flips, Only Flops

by The Heretik


FEMA Main Man Michael Brown Recalled to Washington [story] Look for White House spin to start soon. Oh, it has already begun.

[Homeland Security Secretary] Chertoff explained the recall of Brown and his replacement by Allen as dictated by a move to "the next phase of operations" in the hurricane relief effort. He said the FEMA director needs to be in Washington to carry out broader responsibilities, including potentially managing "other kinds of disasters" and dealing with additional hurricanes. He suggested that the change would also meet the need for a "seamless interaction with military forces" in the relief effort.
"Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge," Chertoff said. The FEMA director "has got a lot of other responsibilities," he said, adding, "We cannot afford to let our guard down. I want to make sure FEMA continues to be run the way it needs to be." [more]

SHORT STORY NOT SO SWEET FROM THE HERETIK: Mike Brown was bad at his job so we are moving him to new jobs where he can do worse.

(Crossposted at The Heretik)


by Shakespeare's Sister

So, the now-demoted (but not fired, heck no) Brownie’s résumé was a pack of lies.
Now, an investigation by TIME has found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio, including a description of Brown released by the White House at the time of his nomination in 2001 to the job as deputy chief of FEMA. (Brown became Director of FEMA, succeeding Allbaugh, in 2003.)

Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME.
Oh, and there’s more.

If the administration couldn’t be bothered to vet this guy thoroughly enough to discover blatant lies on his résumé, how secure are we supposed to feel about anything done by The Security President?

I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman.—President Bush, Oct. 8, 2003

Really? Then resign.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

'Brownie' taken off storm duty

by Pam

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- and dead man walking. (Allen Fredrickson/Reuters). Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen will be taking the reins from the pathetic, lying, bogus "Brownie."

And now Kool-Aid Scottie's "blame game" is realized by the masters in the dawghouse...I'm sure that even a partial fall on the sword will come at a price (Medal of Freedom?).
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being relieved of his duties in managing the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts, The Associated Press has learned.

Brown is being sent back to Washington from Baton Rouge, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal government's response to the disaster, according to two federal officials who declined to be identified before the announcement.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Brown has been under fire because of the administration's slow response to the magnitude of the hurricane. On Thursday, questions were raised about whether he padded his resume to highlight his previous emergency management background.

Less than an hour before Brown's removal came to light, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Brown had not resigned and the president had not asked for his resignation.

McClellan did not directly answer a question about whether the president had full confidence in Brown.
This NYT story makes it pretty clear that it was the light sabre of Darth Cheney that took out "Brownie." You know the Chimp couldn't do it.

There were recent signs that Brown's status was about to change. When Vice President Dick Cheney received a briefing in New Orleans on Thursday on recovery efforts by FEMA and other governmental agencies, it was Allen -- not Brown -- who led the briefing.

And even though Brown was present at least during part of Cheney's visit, he was not seen publicly with the vice president.
I love this quote from the freshly demoted Brown:
Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."
I smell a medal, payoff, or lucrative consulting gig around the corner.


Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Sigh. A drop of blood in the water. The sharks are inbound en masse."

"I will be pissed if Brown is forced to leave. The stupid LA mayor and brainless LA gov need the boot though. Brown did a great job with all the other recent disasters...he served under Allbaugh, didn't he? Where the heck is that experience in the media reports? GWB: Keep Brown as FEMA head. Don't allow the stupid demodimwits to deflect the blame OR rearrange your administration appointments which they keep wanting to do."

"My opinion? Good riddance. He wasn't qualified."

"FEMA is a multitasking agency and there are other disasters to plan for."

"Pray for the USCG Admiral. He will be the next target."

"I'm thinking sacrificial lamb. I'm not totally convinced this was warranted, but it's no surprise."

"I think Michael Brown is an attorney. He'll probably go back to the private sector. He'll write a book in about three years imo. Everybody writes "their story" at some point."

"One down. Two to go: Mike Brown, Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin"

"Yes, but with these 'Rats, all it will take is one tiny thing in his past before he's the next target. Hope he never dunked little Janie's pigtail into the inkwell."

"I don't know about his staying. The discrepancies on his resume may be the kiss of death. It give the administration a pretext to get rid of him since he has become a lightining rod for what went wrong in the relief efforts."

"Attention media lurkers.....celebrate your great victory you got your Bush Admin scalp....but did this HELP one person in Houston or MS.... or NOLA."

"With another hurricane poised to strike the coast of FL/GA/SC, should the head of FEMA be in Washington, or mired in a swamp in Louisiana?"

"He's being replaced by Military??? There must be more to this story"

"On the one hand this is a smart move for Bush to show he's in a take-charge, serious mood on recovery...however in some ways this is like turning and running from an angry dog. The Left and the press are going to be all over Brown in the coming weeks to devour what's left of him."

"That's a darned shame. Nothing but scapegoating."

"Memo to Brown ... don't let the door hit you on the ...."

"He lied on his resume. We cannot discount that fact. He is a liability and must be removed. Harsh and correct."

"Bush will give him a medal and retire him."

"A more appropriate title might be 'FEMA Chief Relieved to Unload his Hurricane Duties'. A huge job few would want. Bush looking to put the best person in place to lead the efforts going foward."

"Thanks! I thought maybe I'd heard the Fox report wrong! This guy will be good, but that won't stop Bush-haters from going after his career, too--whatever it takes to make the President look bad, y'know. He'll need our prayers."

"Brown was fine during Florida's 4 hurricanes because Jeb bush had evacuation 3 days before hand, was visable everywhere, asked for outside guard help, didn't block red cross and fema supplies like Blanco. The responsibility lies with the governor with state rights. Why is no one talking about the ruthless efficiency of Jeb Bush vs Blanco's incompetence. Fema is not a first responder. Blanco blocked firefighters from DHS. The governor in the U.S has veto power in her state. The state rat machine in Baton Rouge is incompetent. You could have George Washington as head of Fema with Blanco and Nagin and no difference would be made."

"I click several local and cable news and each looked gleeful as they began the announcement and then their faces changed as they read on and realized he hadn't been fired at all."

"Well, GWB has closed rank before with the attempts made to can Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Rove, etc., and I hope he will do it again now. Close rank, Mr. President. You can still deal with Brown but on your OWN terms and not those of the rabid demodimwits and their puppet media players."

"The President has cast off his "dead wood" as his symbolic sacrifice of good faith to act in a non-partison fashion. I would hope that the President will now expect the same from the Democrats. Maybe this is the "shot across the bow"."

"He had to go. He was an embarrassment on camera and generally out of his depth."

"He lied about being on a board of directors that never existed. He lied about being an assistant manager. He lied about being fired from his horse show duties. Plus other problems. Look I realize that MSM and lefties have overly focussed on FEMA, but in the lone case of this individual, he really is a bum steer. Get rid of him. Then on to Nagin and Blank-o."

"I say replace him w/ Colon (sic) Powell."
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Louisiana congressman: 'God cleaned up NOLA public housing'

by Pam

Representative Richard H. Baker (Repug-LA 6th) has the real solution to fighting social ills - let them wash away by God's hand.

The Louisiana Repug solution to poverty - let the poor get blown out/drowned out of the projects. From the WSJ Washington Wire, via Raw Story:
Two shaky [Louisiana] 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.

Little Ricky needs to shut his pie hole

by Pam

Stupid sh*t keeps coming out of it. Santorum's latest gaffe by the f*ckwad on the Katrina debacle: blame the National Weather Service for not giving a detailed enough prediction of what Katrina might do to the Gulf area. (WITF FM, hat tip Atrios):
U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is suggesting that early mistakes in predicting the path of Hurricane Katrina may be a symptom of lost focus at the National Weather Service. Santorum, who introduced legislation earlier this year to curb the output of government weather forecasters, says tracking life-threatening weather must be central to what the agency is doing.

Asked about Katrina by WITF, Santorum described weather service warnings for Florida, where the storm first made landfall, as “not sufficient." Santorum’s bill instructs the government to abandon weather prediction and data reporting efforts that duplicate private-sector activity. He came under fire when it was revealed that the head of State College-based AccuWeather, which would benefit, has given his campaigns thousands of dollars.
Hmmm. Is this report ambiguous to you?


Thousands dead, 1 million evacuated. Katrina? No, a simulation run last year. Yep. No cover for FEMA on this one. A reader of my blog points to this SFGate article that shows government officials can't blame the devastation on the fact that "they had no idea." They had a damn precise idea, but under the company that did the simulation for FEMA, the report it produced can only be released by "Brownie's" folks.
They faced a nightmare scenario. A flooded city, 1 million evacuees, 60,000 dead -- all the work of Hurricane Pam.

The storm was not real. Staged with the help of a San Francisco company, Pam was a simulation designed to force government agencies to examine -- and possibly rethink -- their disaster plans.

The exercise, conducted with the help of URS Corp., projected storm water surging over levees and pouring into New Orleans, forming a contaminated pool 10 to 20 feet deep. More than 500,000 buildings were destroyed in the scenario, coastal gasoline refineries were shut, and boats and helicopters were needed to rescue thousands of stranded citizens.

In short, Pam looked a lot like Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina, with winds of 160 mph (255 km/h) on August 29.

"It's eerie how close it is," said Madhu Beriwal, founder and president of Innovative Emergency Management Inc., based in Baton Rouge. The company led a team of three firms, including URS, that created the simulation, working under contract for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA has come under blistering criticism for its slow response to Katrina. Beriwal said she isn't sure whether Pam shaped the way FEMA and state and local agencies responded to the real-life catastrophe. Those who participated in last year's exercise have copies of the recommendations it produced.

"So people are looking at it," she said. "I don't know how much of it was used."

FEMA representatives did not return phone calls for this story.
Notice how a lot of these phone calls about basic questions go unreturned? Hmmm....

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

Vampire Sighted in Broad Daylight

by The Heretik


But Stunned Villagers Fail to Take Advantage of the Duke of the Undead’s weakened condition to drive a stake in Count Dickula’s heart. Stakes previously promised by FEMA were nowhere to be found. “Now is not the time for blame-gaming,” declared castle garbage man Scott McClelland. “We need to find more victims.”

A Neutral Chenylvanian Citizen’s Group immediately appeared on FUX News. “Look, there is only one Count Dickula and oh so many critics. What these critics fail to credit Dickula with is the work he does on population control. He is also the reason we have all these blood drives you hear about.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Vampires (PERV) will be buying air time on the major networks to balance the bias against bloodsuckers.

Rumors That a Lone Villager Shouted, “Go screw yourself, Count Dickula," were discounted with the release of the official Castle transcript which clearly says, “Go love yourself, Count Dickula. (laughter). Go love yourself (applause.)”

Count Dickula Himself Was Unavailable for Comment. A loyal aide indicated Dickula may well be buried again in the security of Wyoming dirt in his undisclosed location. Aides did, however, warn protesters to be wary. Dickula has sucked before and will not be afraid to suck again.

(Crossposted at The Heretik)

Leaders Lacking Disaster Experience

by John Howard

Leaders Lacking Disaster Experience

I admit until the aftermath of Katrina, I didn't really know much of anything about Bush's dismantling of FEMA, or his appointment of unqualified people to head it. But anyone who has followed anything this administration has done shouldn't be suprised. Anytime there is a position for which Bush needs to appoint someone, it seems that he actively seeks out the people most uniquley unqualified for the particular position. It also seems that he gives out appointments as rewards for support or loyalty. And I don't see anything terribly wrong with appointing people that are close to you and you are more familiar with, but that should only be after you've determined that they are qualified in the first place. Even when he finds someone who does seem qualified, like Colin Powell, he seems to morph them into something else, where loyalty to the administration trumps the duties of the job they hold.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that we shouldn't really be surprised that there was someone incompetent in charge of FEMA. We should be surprised that this is really the first time that one of Bush's appointees is taking a lot of criticism for displaying the incompetence which has become a trademark of this administration. Hopefully, now people may start to notice it in other places as well.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

No loss for words

by Pam

Picture feature up at Stern, "EXTRA: Hurrikan "Katrina", with an English headline:
New Orleans

"Get the fuck out of here"

Ein Alligator in der Kirche: Die "Swamp Critters" sind eine zusätzliche Gefahr

Thursday, September 08, 2005


by Pam

Milvertha Hendricks, 84, center waits in the rain with other flood victims outside the convention center in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Quotes from the AP story, "Katrina, Aftermath Galvanize Black America" :
"The face, the cover has been pulled off the invisible poor."
-- Rev. Ronald E. Braxton of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

"You'd have to go back to slavery, or the burning of black towns, to find a comparable event that has affected black people this way."
-- Darnell M. Hunt, sociologist and head of the African American studies department at UCLA

"Something about this is making people remember their own personal injustices. You don't look at Rodney King and say, 'I remember when I got beat up.' But people remember being neglected, unimportant, overlooked, thought of as 'less than.' That's a very common experience for black people."
-- author damali ayo, author of "How to Rent a Negro" and the kick-ass web site that takes on a whole new meaning now,
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Ken-bot still chasing black votes

by Pam

"Our outreach to the African-American community is based on shared priorities like closing the health gap and the wealth gap and the education gap. It's not based on politics, it's based on policies, and those policy needs remain."
-- RNC head Ken Mehlman, dismissing speculation that post-Katrina bungling by the administration will have an impact on recruiting blacks to vote GOP
That's some strong Kool-Aid, let me tell you. Add to that the smoking of something quite strong if the Repugs think the Bush catastrophe after Katrina won't hurt the efforts to squeeze out some black votes.

They spent most of 2004 working the gay bogeyman to shave off some black evangelicals, but this debacle is really going to test their PR machine. The Ken-bot's working this damage control as hard as he can. (Reuters):
Public anger over the slow government response to Hurricane Katrina could deal a long-term blow to the Republican Party's aggressive effort to woo black voters, already the most loyal Democratic bloc.

The high-profile Republican effort to win black support became much tougher, analysts said, after days of images of poor and largely black crowds pleading in vain for help in a devastated New Orleans. The resulting outcry included pointed questions about the role of race and class in the government's response.

"There is so much anger out there, I think it is going to be very difficult for Republicans to break through to African Americans," said Ron Walters, director of the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland.

"This is extremely damaging -- it's a powerful, emotional, family-oriented issue that goes right to the heart of people," he said. "Mistakes like this have a shelf life. This is going to be with us for a long, long time."

A poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center found a huge racial divide in perceptions of the disaster, with 66 percent of blacks saying the response would have been quicker if the storm victims had been white, while 77 percent of whites disagreed.

David Bositis, an analyst of black politics at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said the storm's aftermath would feed existing doubts about Republicans among many blacks. "The problem for Republicans in terms of getting more black support is that African Americans don't trust the Republican Party," he said. "You can look at what happened with Katrina as a further betrayal of trust."

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican Party, launched the effort to build black support after Bush increased his share of the African-American vote in 2004 from 9 percent -- the worst Republican showing since Barry Goldwater in 1964 -- to 11 percent.

Republicans stepped up the recruitment of black candidates for congressional and statewide offices and Mehlman, who took over as party chairman in January after managing Bush's re-election, met repeatedly with black groups. Mehlman rejected any suggestion Katrina would hurt the appeal of Republicans in the black community and said it did not require a change in Republican strategy.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Have I Ever Mentioned That I Hate Denny Hastert?

by Shakespeare's Sister

I think I may have, once or twice. Having been an Illinoisan for a decade, I’m well familiar with his despicable antics and his habit of parading his ugly mug out to say outrageously asinine and insensitive things in the midst of crises, but I never quite get used to it. Here’s yet another example of why that fat pot of shit is at the top of my list of loathsome politicos.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, asked about rebuilding New Orleans, volunteered: "It doesn't make sense to me." He elaborated: "I think federal insurance and everything that goes along with it ... we ought to take a second look at that." Thus Hastert upheld rugged individualism over a modern federal union. Just a month earlier, as it happened, Hastert had put out a press release crowing about his ability to win federal disaster relief for drought-stricken farmers in his Illinois district. While he was too preoccupied attending a campaign fundraiser for a Republican colleague to travel to Washington to vote for the $10.5 billion emergency appropriation to deal with Katrina's aftereffects, he did finally return to the capital to push for even more drought aid from the Department of Agriculture. Hastert's philosophy is not undermined by his stupendous hypocrisy, for hypocrisy is at the center of the Republican idea. Hastert simply has the shamelessness of his convictions.
Ugh. What a puke-inducer. He’s so manifestly revolting, it’s hard to believe that the Land of Lincoln could produce this tyrannosaurus of turpitude.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

No Chemo For You

by Shakespeare's Sister

Oh the blessed irony. Last Tuesday, the 30th—you know, the day all the papers looked like this—President Bush was in San Diego at the Naval Medical Center, with the intention of the visit to thank medics who aided tsunami victims in Southeast Asia. Well, not only was he busily ignoring the needs of the people in New Orleans; his little photo op in San Diego was also preventing patients there from receiving the medical care they need.
The Naval Medical Center in San Diego's Balboa Park was shut down to accommodate a visit by President George W. Bush Aug. 30, RAW STORY has learned, forcing patients to cancel chemotherapy treatments and hundreds of scheduled patient visits.


"I think it's disgusting. People who are getting chemotherapy or radiation are on a very set schedule. They are not supposed to miss a session or put it off by even a day, because it's based on the life cycle of a cancer cell," the volunteer said, adding that some patients had waited weeks for appointments. "Some had to postpone for quite a while, because the radiation and chemo rooms were full on other days," she added. "They closed everything down just so he [Bush] could have his photo op in the lobby with the corpsmen."
Totally, unremittingly repulsive, these people. They’re like sharks who need to keep swimming to survive, prowling the depths for one photo op after the next.

In the end, he didn’t even get his photo op. His visit was cut short, and though the conventional wisdom was that he ran off to pretend to care about the hurricane, this story notes that he was seen
laboring to ascend steps up to Air Force One, aided by his wife, Laura. A newscaster commented on the President's wavering gait and noted that it was unusual for him not to pause to shake hands with well-wishers at the airport. The broadcast led to local speculation that the President may have encountered a medical problem.
Perhaps a medical problem known as “falling off the wagon,” considering within days he was back to jocularly noting he used to go to New Orleans to get fucked up back in the good ol’ days.

Of course, if he is really sick, that would be sad for him—although I bet no one searching for a photo op would interrupt his much-needed treatment.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

What Bush doesn't want to count, and definitely doesn't want you to see

by Pam

This is from Stern (Rick Bowmer/AP). If the U.S. media goes to sleep under pressure from FEMA, the only real reporting that will hit the airwaves and the 'Net is going to come from foreign sources willing to show the horror.

Bush needs this hanging in his office -- at the White House and out at the ranch in Crawford.

While we're at it, his mother could use a few as well.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Where are Bush's black homo-bigot pastors?

by Pam

There is a must-read column by Jasmyne Cannick at PageOneQ. She hits the bullseye when it comes to the black homo-bigoted pastors at the taxpayer trough. Have you seen any of these jokers on TV or spouting off in the papers in the wake of the President's moral free-fall? I haven't, and neither has Jasmyne. Cue the chirping crickets...
President Bush and his Black supporters pulled out all stops to woo Black Christian evangelical voters to the GOP tent in 2004. Having found common ground on issues of morality, President Bush used the issue of gay marriage and abortion to catapult his standing in the Black Christian community and garner votes for his re-election.

A Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll in 2004, found that Blacks opposed gay marriage at a higher number than the overall population. Many Blacks also detested Kerry's supposed support of abortion. In polls, Kerry got 20 percent less support from Black conservative evangelicals than Democratic presidential contender Al Gore received in 2000.

In 2004, more than 10 percent of Blacks voted for Bush, and in Ohio, it was 20 percent.

However, in the aftermath of Katrina, the honeymoon could be over for Black evangelicals and President Bush as he is perceived as having abandoned the same Blacks that helped put him back into office.

Bush's unwillingness to save the lives of poor Blacks in New Orleans has been laid out in Black and white, literally for the world to see. Bush has had a major moral calamity that he and Rove won't be able to cover up so quickly.

...The issue of race and class has been re-visited in a most distasteful way for African Americans, with a blatant reminder that America doesn't care for its poorest citizens.

Realizing that a national disaster could happen anywhere at any time, Blacks are reflecting on their own situations and the federal government. Again, this can and should have a devastating effect on Bush's newfound common ground with Black evangelicals.

Finally, there are two questions for Bush and Black evangelicals.

Will the devout Black pastors that trekked dutifully to the White House the past few years seeking faith based money and the president's support continue to blindly follow a man that the overwhelming majority of Black Americans feel abandoned them in their greatest moment of need? And will Bush be able to look these Black pastors in the eye again and say with a straight face, I did everything I could to help you in your greatest moment of need? After all, that's the Christian thing to do.

Those Black evangelicals that are still tempted to look the other way should remember that when the GOP comes knocking again.
Jasmine's blog is here.

I don't expect to hear too much from these fools, since they have made complete asses out of themselves, drinking the Kool-Aid that Ken Mehlman poured out as they were shuffled into the White House for photo ops and back-slapping with the Prez, as they passed the checks around. Is it feeling good yet to be best buds with the Chimperor?

I'll run some of Bush's newfound friends once again...

MIA on the Bush Catastrophe

Bishop Harry Jackson of the Hope Christian Church in Lanham, MD has gotten into political bed with Ken Mehlman and the GOP with his Black Contract With America (and received $824,000 in the runup to the 2004 election).
What Jackson's doing: On Sept 6 (yesterday), he appeared with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and a bunch of wingnuts in a gathering in DC for something called the Coalition for Fair Hearings on John Roberts.

Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee's Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ buys into Bush's faith-based initiatives and "values."
What Daniels is doing: He's doing relief work through his church, and not commenting on Bush's failures.

Homophobe Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, TX is on board with the Bush American Taliban agenda.
What McKissic is doing: MIA. Can't find any public comments.

Philadelphia's Rev. Herb Lusk, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church has had his coffers filled with a cool million to run faith-based initiatives by the Administration.
What Lusk is doing: MIA. Not even anything about relief efforts on his church's site.

Keith Butler, is pastor of the 21,000-member Word of Faith International Christian Center, says God is urging him to take on Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow to bring "biblical and pro-family values" to government.
What Butler is doing: MIA. In all recent news reports, including this one on Sept. 5, he doesn't discuss the hurricane or the aftermath -- he's focused on raising money to run for the Senate.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

"The Religious Right has Already Lost "

by Ms. Julien in Miami

'Bean posted on Julien's List a frustrated take on Attorney General Tom Reilly (D - or should we say "DINO") allowing a vote to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts. Understandably, this blow was a low one, and most likely instigated because the man has more power in his sights - a run for governor...

Fellow friend in the blogosphere, and Julien's List regular Oddjob posted a comment in the related thread that just shone out to me as a beacon of hope - and hopefully TRUTH - in the middle of the seemingly endless attacks on one's right to love, and to commit, to a life partner. He kindly allowed me to post it. I hope you find it as uplifting as I do:

Prejudice can transcend age & time, but the polling I've seen repeatedly indicates that the younger the American is the more likely he or she is to not think homosexuals are so different from everyone else as to not deserve equal treatment before the law. There is a pretty significant divide on this between those born around 1970 or later versus those who were born before.

This split in attitude is robust since it repeatedly appears in a variety of polling on homosexual rights.

The religious wrong has already lost.

Beatifully written, and very inspiring, Oddjob...thanks!

Governor will reject gay marriage legislation

by John Howard

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced yesterday that he will veto a historic same-sex marriage bill passed by the Legislature, contending that the measure is unconstitutional.

I'm not exaclty an expert in California government, but I always thought it was the job of the judicial branch to determine the constitutionality of laws. Anyway, I guess this makes him an activist executive, and should really piss off all those conservatives who have been telling us for so long how tired they are of activist judges legislating from the bench, and how it should be the job of the legislature to make the laws. So, I guess we'll see a lot of them denouncing his veto. Especially the churches. They will need to include a conversation about this in Justice Sunday III.

Or not.

Cross-Posted at Upon Further Review...

Death by Bureaucracy

by TheGreenKnight

In his unforgettable interview on Meet the Press, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said the following:
It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now....FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives.
The fact is, FEMA used to be able to do that before it was folded into the labyrinthine Department of Homeland Security. The more you read about the DHS and the new, unimproved FEMA, and their response to Katrina, the more they sound like Douglas Adams's Vogons:
Not actually evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers ... without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.
Bush apologists are stating that the state and local levels screwed up. Maybe they did. But that's why we have more than one level of government. The real question is, when state and local goverments fail in an emergency -- which is always one possibility -- what's the federal government's appropriate response when lives are on the line? Sit on its hands and say, "Oh, well, that's up to the mayor and the governor"? Surely not. And in fact, the DHS's own documents say otherwise:
The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.

Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.

Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.

Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources.
The response capabilities and resources of the local jurisdiction (to include mutual aid from surrounding jurisdictions and the State) may be insufficient and quickly overwhelmed....

A detailed and credible common operating picture may not be achievable for 24 to 48 hours (or longer) after the incident. As a result, response activities must begin without the benefit of a detailed or complete situation and critical needs assessment.
Not to mention,
In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.
(The good people at Media Matters did much of the DHS research. All emphases are mine.)

It comes down to this: conservatives have traditionally believed in keeping a tight rein on the size of government bureaucracy. But the Department of Homeland Security is the biggest, most complex, most expensive government bureaucracy ever created. In its first major test, it failed even to live up to its own defined mission and standards. And it's not just a matter of the incompetence of Michael Brown and its other top officials; its lower-level FEMA people don't seem to have been able to coordinate anything either, even though they used to be able to. When something screws up this badly, yes, it's a failure of leadership; but it's also a broken system.

It's no surprise that many (though not all) conservatives are defending their guy in the White House. What's got the Green Knight shaking his head is the almost complete lack of recognition of the elephant in the room: the big, bloated, drunk elephant called the Department of Homeland Security. It's the kind of thing conservatives used to loathe: a big government bureaucracy that accomplishes the opposite of what it's supposed to do.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Don't you dare

by Charlie

Both houses of the California legislature has passed a gay marriage bill today. Good news, right? No judicial activism here, just good ol' elected lawmakers makin' laws! What could possibly go wrong?
The legislation could be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has expressed an acceptance of gay marriages but said it's an issue that should be decided by voters or the courts.

"He will uphold whatever the court decides," spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Tuesday after the state Assembly approved the same-sex marriage measure, 41-35. -- Associated Press, via Yahoo! News

Uh, wha...? Oh wait, I see. If gay marriage is legalized through court decisions, that's judicial activism, but if elected officials pass the laws, the problem is rogue legislators. Yes, it's all so clear to me now. The strategy is this:

  1. Find a potential hurdle

  2. Rationalize until it can be used as a barrier

I weep for our nation to think that people can and will be taken in by this. When legislators make laws, the issue has been decided by voters. This is what it MEANS to be in a representative democracy. If you're going to veto one law because "the issue should be decided by voters," then you have to veto EVERY law for the same reason. If he vetos this law, Schwarzenegger will be rejecting a fundamental principle of our system of government.

And don't even try to tell me that the problem is that 60% of the California voters don't support the law. Need I remind you that Bush the Younger held office without the popular vote? I didn't hear much screaming about it then, so let's not conveniently grow a conscience now, okay? I can just hear it. It has nothing to do with the gay, and everything to do with the process. Right. You're not fooling anybody. I'll tell you what. If the voters don't like the way their representatives are voting, they can do what we all do: Elect someone else.

Don't you dare veto that bill, Arnold. Not for that reason. Not while trying to look like a supporter of GLBT rights at the same time. Don't you dare.

Update: It looks like he is going to do it.

Update 2: I've learned a few things. First, the California state constitution says that voter referendums cannot be overridden by the legislature. Second, you may recall that in 2000, Proposition 22 was passed 61% to 38%. It states that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

So I don't like it, but it looks like Arnold is right on this one. This is an unconstitutional measure that will have to be decided by the people or by the courts.

Cross posted at Shades of Grey

Leave it to the Heritage Foundation to define "common decency"

by Nancy in NYC

Thank goodness that with all these libruls spouting off about the First amendment and freedom of the press, we can count on good citizens like Mark Tapscott. In a story from yesterday's Editor and Publisher, Tapscott defends FEMA's decision not to allow any photos of the tens of thousands of corpses now being retrieved from NOLA.

"Let's not make a common decency issue into a censorship issue," Tapscott told Reuters. "Nobody wants to wake up in the morning and see their dead uncle on the front page. That's just common decency."

(My wife asks: "Does this mean we can stop looking at pictures of Rehnquist's coffin being endlessly shlepped from one place to another?")

But seriously, folks, who would know more about common decency than Tapscott, a former editor at the Washington Times newspaper who now deals with media issues at the Heritage Foundation?

As Wayne Madsen reminds us, The Washington Times is owned by the self-declared "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, who believes he is the Messiah. The paper, which has a dearth of advertising revenue, has lost more than $1 billion dollars since its inception; still it has survived, with the help of wealthy, anonymous South Korean and Japanese backers, to become the leading mouthpiece for the policies of successive Republican administrations in the DC area.

It was, for example a leading supporter of the Nicaraguan contras and a chief apologist for the perpetrators of the arms-for-hostages scandal. Violating one of the main canons of journalism -- that newspapers should not become part of or create their own stories -- the Washington Times established the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to the contras circumventing the Boland Amendment that prohibited Federal money for the rightist guerrillas.

Now that's decency.

As for the Heritage Foundation, as a report by Media Transparency notes:

It was founded in 1973 by the anti-labor, racist, homophobic brewery magnate Joseph Coors together with prominent right-wing activist Paul Weyrich and wealthy right-wingers Richard Scaife and Edward Noble. In addition to promoting trickle-down economics--including Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans--and massive cutbacks in social programs, THF heavily promoted the Star Wars Defense Strategy, the gargantuan feeding trough for the military-industrial complex that even the Pentagon admitted was militarily useless.

Note to THF: Can that multi-billion national missile defense system you touted as the end-all and be-all of Homeland Security double as a drainage pump?


by Charlie

We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned. -- Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, Our Experiences

To anyone who is still willing to say that we did as well as we could have; to everyone still unwilling to take the blame all the way to the president: Stop it, all of you. Your credibility is gone.

Thanks to Bitch, Ph.D. for the link. Cross posted at Shades of Grey.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I Guess I've Made it to the Big Time

by John Howard

So, in case you don't already know (and if you don't, you're really missing out), I normally author the Hottest Blog on the Internets.* I'm not sure what I really have to offer to the impressive list of contributors here at the Big Brass Blog, but I was invited, and it's not like I'm going to turn that down.

So anyway, if I ever get around to posting anything worthwhile, I'll try to remember to post it over here as well. However, I'm notoriously lazy, so I'm not sure how this will work out.

Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the invitation.

* Based on my own research.**

** non-scientific

The Sleeping Media

by Shakespeare's Sister

Eric Boehlert has a good piece in Salon today asking why it took thousands (tens of thousands?) of dead civilians for the media to wake up and start doing its job again. It’s a really good question, and amidst the congratulatory back-patting we’ve been giving to the media for doing a good job on this one, we really need to bear in mind that if they had done a halfway decent job asking the tough questions about the Iraq War, the outing of Valerie Plame (before the election), and lots of other issues, there very well might not be those thousands of dead civilians in the first place.

Note to Dems: If you ever manage to get your act together and, in what would at this point be nothing less than miraculous, regain control of Congress, I highly suggest you look into reinstating that little thing called the Fairness Doctrine, that Bush’s political granddaddy Reagan did away with back when he was laying the groundwork for the disastrous state in which we currently find ourselves.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

The Bush Presidency: everything is a PR blowjob

by Pam

Josh at Talking Points Memo found a story that reveals what has to be one of the sickest PR blowjobs of this presidency, given the nation is in the middle of a human and environmental disaster and a self-inflicted morass of war in Iraq.

How can this Administration explain taking 1,000 ready-to-go firefighters, all search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified people prepared to save lives, and sitting them down for "community relations" training. As they were lectured on sexual harassment awareness, how to hand out fliers and other social work efforts, New Orleans was being drowned under tons of water and descending into chaos.

Your president, your tax dollars, paying for a Spin Cycle Melodrama on the Gulf. (Reuters)

Even worse, the first assignment of these fire fighters was to serve as props during Bush's field trips to the disaster zone. Yes. Props for the Puppet-ass presidency. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Firefighters endure a day of FEMA training, which included a course on sexual harassment. Some firefighters say their skills are being wasted. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.

Federal officials are unapologetic.

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

Firefighters line up Monday in Atlanta to give their names to FEMA personnel drawing up deployment lists. Many will be assigned to hand out fliers. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune)

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

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

...While FEMA's community-relations job may be an important one - displaced hurricane victims need basic services and a variety of resources - it may be a job best suited for someone else, say firefighters assembled at the Sheraton.

"It's a misallocation of resources. Completely," said the Texas firefighter. "It's just an under-utilization of very talented people," said South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote, who sent a team of firefighters to Atlanta.

..Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
So many people need to be fired for this. Actually, the whole lot of them. How can we sweep out these executive cockroaches and leeches now before the terrorists act, given we've exposed the complete ineptitude of our government and its officials?

Yes, the FEMA jackass "Brownie" has to go -- and you can see that he's rising to the top of the list as the Admin scapegoat, should they be forced to place the blame on someone. That doesn't wash; it didn't take just one incompetent boob to kill so many.

Remember, it was a PR event from the start:

The top U.S. disaster official waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers, internal documents show.

Part of the mission, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press, was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims. Acknowledging that such a move would take two days, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29.

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

Welcome to the Bushville Era...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Most of us will not personally remember the "Hoovervilles" of the Depression Era, but for those who have had history (pre "no child left behind" curricula), the comparison between them and these new "forced separation camps" (necessary due to the incompetence of the president and the administration) is eerie. An even more frightening comparison can be made - between these new camps and the Nazi concentration camps (in the beginning, weren't the Jews taken to such camps "for their own good"?).

Please read below, but basically, evacuees are being put behind fences on college campuses, with limited access to media. Evacuees are being put on planes and not being told where they are going - i.e. Salt Lake City, or - very extreme - Puerto Rico. I wonder if husbands and wives are not allowed to sleep together, if the people are divided up "men and women"...

This is from a great journalist blog, Spelunking Through the Chaos:

Welcome to the Rockies, now get behind the fence!

I was afraid of this. As the great diasporas of New Orleans continues with evacuees not being told where they're going until the bus/plane cranks up or until they land/arrive, the police state tactics of some of the 'welcoming' communities are actually just housing people at remote locations, behind fences - like prisons, really. Look at the photo of the two women - Verne Stovall and Jacquelyn Augustine - at the right. According to a report in the Denver Post today, headlined "Evacuees stories moving, but fence isn't," written by Post columnist Diane Carman, really shocked me with her opening paragraphs:

If I didn't know better, I'd have thought I was peering through the fence at a concentration camp.
The signs on the buildings say "Community College of Aurora," though for now they're serving as an impromptu Camp Katrina. About 160 hurricane survivors are being housed in the dorms, surrounded by fences, roadblocks, security guards and enough armed police officers to invade Grenada.
There's a credentials unit to process every visitor, an intake unit to provide identification tags and a bag of clothes to every evacuee, several Salvation Army food stations, portable toilets, shuttle buses, a green army-tent chapel with church services three times a day and a communications team to keep reporters as far away from actual news as possible.
It probably was easier for a reporter to get inside Gitmo on Tuesday than to penetrate the force field around Lowry.

I mean if you read the story, the evacuees are very thankful for being safe and in a new place. Still, do we want to treat fellow Americans like this? And why so far away in Colorado? One woman says she's never even been outside of New Orleans and that's a pretty common thing among New Orleans' poorer residents.

I saw a report yesterday where evacuees were put on a plane and not told they were heading for Salt Lake City, Utah until they began taxi-ing down the runway. And then there is that report I have noted in recent days of the 1,000 evacuees flown to Roosevelt Roads naval base on Puerto Rico's eastern tip. What of them? I've still seen no reports, but I confirmed it with a Puerto Rican friend of mine. This is too surreal. As for forcing Americans into a fenced-in camp? I don't like it. Not one bit.

World Press Review of Katrina and its Aftermath

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Telling, insightful analyses from around the globe (Pravda was the most succint and completely spot-on)...from World Press Review:

“A Brutal Reminder”

LONDON — The Guardian (Liberal), Sept. 3: “Such is the scale of this disaster that Mr. Bush would probably have been criticized however he had responded. … Still, there is a widespread perception that the sheer scale of the problems reflects a shuffling of resources — to pay for tax cuts and the Iraq adventure — that has left the US far too vulnerable. It is all a brutal reminder that government policies, sometimes followed only in the small print of rows over obscure budget allocations, can have real — and deadly — consequences for real people. The words “homeland security” now have a terribly hollow ring in the anarchic south: 35% of Louisiana’s National Guard is serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. And recruiting is down because people fear being sent to Iraq. The priority given to law and order seems a troubling inverse reflection of what happened after the fall of Baghdad. Is it really more important to use deadly force against looters than to deliver humanitarian aid effectively?”

What Was Revealed

LONDON — The Times (Conservative), Sept. 3: “The truth is that the New Orleans disaster is far worse than 9/11, and dwarfs anything seen in the West in modern times save for the Etna eruption and the San Francisco earthquake. In that sense it only tells us how vulnerable we are. Well, not all of us equally. When disasters or fires or bombings happen, you discover just who was traveling on your trains, who was crammed into your hostels or who was living in the low-lying areas. It isn’t the failure to act in New Orleans that is the story here, it’s the sheer, uninsured, uncared for, self-disenfranchised scale of the poverty that lies revealed. It looks like a scene from the Third World because that’s the truth. It’s a quiet disaster that’s been going on for years — a pudding-basin-full-of-poverty situation.”
— David Aaronovitch

Loss of an American Dream

MELBOURNE — The Age (Centrist), Sept. 3: “How could it happen? Six days after hurricane Katrina swept in from the Gulf of Mexico, America is waking up to a reality as frightening in its force as the storm and flooding themselves. It is that America has been humiliated by its inability to prevent, or then deal effectively with, a natural disaster in its own backyard; and, worse and more important in the long term, that the world’s richest nation has been exposed, in a most brutal way, as a society still divided by race and possessing an underclass. … Of course, the infrastructure can be repaired, dam walls renewed and new homes and businesses constructed; and the French Quarter, which attracts millions each year from around the world, can be restored. What may prove more difficult for Bush and his successors — for this will surely be a project of many years’ duration — is the rebuilding of trust and credibility in the nation’s leaders and administrators and the healing of wounds so savagely and swiftly inflicted by hurricane Katrina.

Political Ramifications

TEL AVIV — Yediot Aharonot (Centrist), Sept. 3: “In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Americans felt a deep sense of national pride over their solidarity and restraint, efficient response to the disaster. Now, they feel horror and anger. … The Katrina aftershock hurt the conscience of every American and deeply dented America’s self-image as a dedicated, united nation able to offer quick response in difficult situations. … The political ramifications of the failure in America may be similar to what happened here following that war. The ruins of New Orleans may give rise to a popular protest movement that would gradually amass power and influence, paralyzing the Bush Administration and leading to a stinging Republican defeat in the upcoming (partial) elections for Congress.”
— Sever Plocker

“Grim Lesson”

TORONTO — Toronto Star (Liberal), Sept. 3: “A just anger is rising across America at the official incompetence that Katrina has exposed. A vacationing Bush made a tardy post-disaster appearance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to speedily organize an effective command and control system. And the National Guard was deployed after Katrina hit, far too late. By then 100,000 people had flouted evacuation orders and were in peril. Even then, troops, helicopters, buses and trucks were slow arriving. And the Army Corps of Engineers had no effective contingency plan to repair broken levees. Katrina is proving as much a man-made disaster, as a natural one.”

“A Society in Collapse”

EDMONTON — Edmonton Journal (Conservative), Sept. 3: “We have seen a society in collapse. Many people with cars got out of town before Katrina hit. Many others, particularly the poor, old and disabled, could not or did not flee the hurricane. They were left to cope in a flooded city with no clean water, no food, no working toilets, no air conditioning, no medical care, no transportation, and no reassurance that help was on the way. Recriminations have already begun, and so they should. There has been gigantic failure here … The weakness of the levees was known, the danger of hurricanes was known, but plans to improve the levees and to deal with a major flood were clearly inadequate. … At the same time, the picture of thousands of desperate people, many of them poor and black, left to fend for themselves in an anarchic city speaks volumes about a society dangerously polarized between the privileged classes and a marginalized underclass.”

A Gesture of Sympathy

AUCKLAND — The New Zealand Herald (Conservative), Sept. 3: “Day by day this week the world has watched a mounting horror in the United States. … No part of the world is entirely immune from the effects of a disaster on this scale. The damage to oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be felt in the petrol prices, and the cost of damage to insurers will be passed into premiums the world over. If the disaster had struck a different part of the world, appeals for aid would have been made. America is expected to look after its own, which it will. But it might appreciate some gesture of sympathy. Even the most powerful turn out to be frail in the face of nature.”

“He Turns His Back on Them”

MOSCOW — Pravda (Liberal), Sept. 2: “The best he [President Bush] can do is a brief flyover of the region and a belated visit, hurriedly put together only because of the protests. … After siphoning off 200 billion USD of their hard-earned cash to finance his illegal act of butchery overseas, he turns his back on them, leaves them to wallow in the sewage, to lie rotting in the streets and to starve to death. … It appears the man is as inept at governing his own country as he is at conducting foreign policy.”
— Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Recap from Mario

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Julien's List contributor Mario has kindly done us a recap (links are all over the "Internets" and in major papers) before he goes out of town for a few days:

Just to get things the last 4 years Republicans have stood by while their party has:

Placed an illegitimate person in the Oval Office.

Pushed though ill-conceived tax cuts that benefited mostly the top 2% of the population.

Increased the size of government by 25% while at the same time gutting major public programs and ignoring the nation’s infrastructure.

Produced a record debt.

Held Secret and illegal energy meetings with top oil exc. To determine national energy strategy.

Failed to heed numerous warnings about an upcoming attack on our nation.

”Outed” a CIA agent and her covert operation that took over a decade to set up.

Based cabinet appointments on party connections and family loyalty instead of qualifications.

Ignored critical evidence showing Iraq had no WMD.

Choosing instead to lie to the American people and the world in order to start a costly, bloody and needless war...that in the end created an Islamic State.

Then sending under-armored soldiers into this War.

Used a family tragedy to pander to its religiously confused base.

Fired or demoted dozens of whistleblowers.

Ignored scientific reports that did not fit their view of an issue.

Continues to maintain a friendly relation with the Royal Saudi family. ..some of the most ruthless dictators on the planet.

Issued several hard to get White House press passes to a Republican operative who happened to be a gay prostitute.

Has for the first time in American history forced citizens to sign loyalty oaths in order to attend a tax payer funded public event with the Pres1dent.

Given several tax cuts to oil companies even though those companies are reaping record profits by charging record high prices.

Ignored several warnings about probable doom in the Gulf region and then failed to act in a timely manner to prevent further death.

Instituted the policy of imprisoning people indefinitely without a trial or the right to a lawyer.

State sponsored torture.

Did I miss any? It’s a shock and awe of scandals.

Just one of these would have crippled most administrations. And it should have crippled this one....had it not been for its sheepish supporters and supplicant media.

All you need to know........The LA Governor asked the Federal Gov’t for help on Aug 28........ It took DAYS for that help to arrive.

I’m going out of town for a few will be getting a break from my E Rants for a while.

But to be fair and balanced here is a list of the accomplishment(s) of the Bush administration:


It’s been 786 days.....5 hours and 32 minutes since a CIA agent was “outed”.......number of Republicans calling for an investigation? ZERO

We know for a fact, I know for a fact that no one in the Administration lied about weapons of mass destruction." — Donald Rumsfeld on Fox News Radio, 6/21/05


"We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." — Donald Rumsfeld on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 3/30/03

The Right Wing Explained, Part 2

by TheGreenKnight

A few months back, I wrote a post explaining the depraved-to-saved narrative that underlies much of the religious right. More recently, John at Blogenlust has been compiling notes towards a Grand Unified Theory of Wingnuttia. But this week's events and the right-wing response to them has forced me to rethink a few things, and to make a stab at what the key assumption underlying right-wing thinking may be.

As far as I can tell, the one key assumption that underlies everything on the extreme right is this:

Power and responsibility are inversely proportional to each other.

At Blogenlust's guide, Matt expresses this as The Bernie Goldberg Postulate: "In a discussion among wingnuts, the probability that someone will be blamed for any given situation is inversely proportionate to the power they hold." It appears in the guide as one postulate among many; I submit, however, that this week's events show it to be the central idea of the extreme right, the rock that they cling to when all else fails.

Thus, the more powerful a person is (let's say the President), the less responsibility he holds and is expected to exercise. The less powerful a person is (let's say a poor person who has just lost everything), the more responsibility he holds and is expected to exercise (and if making that case requires you to just make shit up about the failures of the poor, go right ahead).

A few examples: if you're a right-winger, you can't expect the federal government, with its massive resources, to have and perfectly execute a plan to save people; but you must expect the local government, with its far more limited resources, to do so. You can't expect FEMA to execute a smooth, coordinated plan for rescue operations; but you must expect poor, stranded, starving people to execute a smooth, coordinated evacuation strategy. You can't expect President Bush to take any responsibility for his bureaucracy's ineptitude and failure; but you must expect President Broussard (Hey! Isn't that a French name?) of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to take full responsibility for any failures in his tiny neck of the woods.

Conversely, any attempt to take responsibility weakens your power, while any attempt at avoiding responsibility strengthens it. Thus, Bush's breezy "What? Me worry?" flyby and his administration's "Let 'em eat cake" approach are ways of maintaining power and authority; any suggestions that Bush might, you know, actually take charge of the situation by at the very least firing the criminally negligent Michael Brown from FEMA would be an admission of failure and a weakening of his power. Thus, it is crucial for the right wing to force local and state authorities to take full responsibility for everything; rather than increasing their power, it is a way of destroying it.

Of course, this is not a new way of thinking. It has always been the creed of every bloated elite, every lazy aristocracy, every corrupt hierarchy. And there have always been syncophants, courtiers to power, useful middle-class idiots who are willing to adopt the creed in hopes of currying favor with the pampered ruling class. That pattern has been going on for centuries. It's the pattern that sparked every revolution including the American one. We should not be surprised, as America gets older, that it should grow a domestic crop of lazy aristocrats and their courtiers. It's pretty much the way of things. But it's always a disaster to have them in charge of anything.

What the best way is to deal with the pampered American aristocracy I am not sure; but it is imperative that they and their courtiers should be removed from positions of power, the sooner the better. We've seen the results of their laziness in New Orleans, and it's devastating: mass murder by neglect.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Kool AId Konfessions of Scott McClellan

by The Heretik


“When the president says focus, he really means foc you. Foc New Orleans. Foc everybody.”

“We Did Nothing, but we still think we’re something,” confessed White House Press Secretary Propaganda Chief McClellan. “You must believe anything we tell you. Because we told you, kids. Now drink this. Thank you.”


WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT (laughter) MAY VARY (applause) [here]

MORE (means less) TO FOLLOW


[NIGHTLIGHT/RJ ESKOW] [SKIPPY] PRESIDENT TO INVESTIGATE SELF Bush swore to conduct an aggressive investigation. "The question," said the President, "Is 'What did I know and when did I know it?"



(Crossposted at The Heretik)

The rantings of a Freeper mind

by Pam

As you regulars know, I surf by the swampy, fetid dwellings of Freeperland from time to time, to let you know what the fringe element is thinking. They usually only manage to post feeble, barely readable sentences when they opine. Every so often there are vanity posts, when a Freeper manages to put together a few paragraphs of entertaining drivel.

I had to share this one with you. Actually, it's only a snippet, because this is a full blown ego rant that is just plain hysterical. Almost equally amusing are all the "high fives" the fellow Freepers give this idiot. I'm not posting them here. They are just too vapid.

It's an open letter to Liberals. Big thoughts, not-so-big words. But hey, they have to work so hard.

This is just amazing. He could be the next Sean Hannity, though I think he should find a better handle than Pukin Dog (though it fits this delusional dumb*ss quite well). How many brewskies did it take to type this one out?

Actual Freeper "Essay"™

Open letter to Liberals: Bring it on, you bastards; we are going to beat you anyway.

Posted on 09/06/2005 11:09:34 AM PDT by Pukin Dog

Oh yeah, baby.

You’ve got us now, don’t you?

You’ve got our President by the short hairs, and you are mad as hell, not gonna take it anymore and all that crap, right? I mean, its open season on us, and you are going to make us pay. Finally, all your efforts to bring down this president are about to bear fruit, and you can just taste it. Oh, you are so close, so close to realizing what you have been dreaming about since November 2000.

Can you feel me quivering?

Read this carefully, my Liberal friends. If you have to, put down the pipes so you can get closer to the screen, let the smoke clear for a moment and then read up. I want you to remember this, while you are out there protesting, organizing, and raising money, slinging invectives and all the other stuff you do so well. I want this on your mind, as you march through the streets, or on buses filled with your kind headed for Washington D.C. I want to make sure that as you do what you do, that you don’t forget what I am about to tell you.

Are you ready? Here it comes:


Come the elections in 2006 and 2008, we are going to beat you like you stole- oops, I mean, looted something. We are going to hand you your asses in a bucket. The quiet masses of free-thinking, church-going, masses are going to send you back to your Liberal enclaves to cry in your soy-milk over more and more defeats. Your agenda is going to be defeated, your anger is going to go unheard, and your actions are going to be noted, cataloged and used against you to insure that you rat-bastards never get back into power.

The simple truth is that America will never again let the whiners, losers, beggars and thieves control the direction the country. The Internet has given Americans long memories. We can look up what you did when you were in charge, we can watch you 24/7 as you work to bring down the greatest nation in the history of the world. We know where you are, who you are, what you do, and what you say in your non-stop America-bashing ways. You are not going to win anymore, and there is nothing you can do about it.

The sniveling goes on for a while...and then I hit this hilarious passage:
Americans don’t picture a Michael Kinsley or Paul Krugman yanking 9Gs in an F-16 to line up a snapshot on an Iraqi Mig-29, but they have no problem picturing that in some young, brave America-loving CONSERVATIVE man. I mean, feel my pain if you want to, but that aint gonna create 4.9% unemployment as far as I’m concerned. You get me?

...Keep on slandering our President. Keep on slandering your country. Keep on believing that you need to take more from us, to take care of those whom you refuse to ask anything of. You could ask them not to steal, not to loot. You could ask them to work hard, love their children enough to say no to them, and to make sure that they make education a priority in their homes. But you wont, we know that. We know that you will continue to tell them that their problems are the result of our greed and lust for power.

One thing we know is that when we pray to God to protect us from our enemies, that he hears us. What you may not know, is that more and more often, when we are saying those prayers, we are talking about you.

God has never failed America, and that is why, despite your best efforts, you will lose.

Special Analysis:
Yahoo! Accused of Providing China with Information to Jail Reporter

by Dark Wraith

Shi Tao was sentenced in April by a Chinese court to ten years in prison, ostensibly for sending state secrets in an e-mail message. The e-mail message in fact contained his notes on a government document that set forth restrictions on Chinese media. The France-based group Reporters without Borders alleges in a September 6, 2005, article that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sunnyvale, California, based Yahoo! Inc. (NasdaqNM:YHOO) "...provided the Chinese investigating organs with detailed information that apparently enabled them to link Shi’s personal e-mail account ( and the specific message containing information treated as a 'state secret' to the IP address of his computer."

Yahoo! and other companies, including Microsoft, providing e-mail, search engine, and browser support add-ons have been accused in recent months of seeking access to the enormous Chinese market by acquiescing to censorship and other content restriction requirements of the Chinese government, which has recently become more aggressive in curtailing use of and access to the Internet and in censoring television and other broadcast media content that challenge state-mandated cultural values.

Yahoo! recently paid US$1 billion to acquire a 40% stake in, which is China's largest online commerce company.

Pravda reports that Yahoo! has declined to comment on the allegations by Reporters without Borders because it has yet to fully review the report by the advocacy group.

Should those allegations against Yahoo! prove accurate, three recommendations are in order:

  • ◊  A Congressional hearing should be held to investigate the delivery by U.S.-based companies to foreign governments of personal and proprietary information collected from individuals, particularly as such information might be delivered to and used by nations on human rights watch lists compiled by the State Department and other officially recognized, international bodies.
  • ◊  A bill should be submitted to Congress seeking to amend the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to include language criminalizing the delivery by U.S. companies of information to any other country when such conveyance is carried out with the intent to advance an overall plan or scheme to achieve commercial advantage in the markets of that country.
  • ◊  A cessation of usage of services offered by Yahoo! should be instituted by reporters and their media outlets until such time as can be established an independently verifiable regime for protection of the privacy of all individuals, groups, companies, and other entities for whom Yahoo! holds proprietary, personal, or otherwise private information.

    To be indifferent to the complicity of an American company in the imprisonment of a reporter of any country is to allow further challenges to and erosion of individual rights to privacy and freedom of the press worldwide. Ultimately, every journalist in the world is endangered by the actions of corporations that are willing to surrender the rights of individuals for profitable opportunities.

    For bloggers to ignore this emerging threat is to stand willing to be victims one day of similar actions, which might occur not in a socially repressive, free-market country like China, but in a far closer but equally socially repressive, free-market country.

    The Dark Wraith has spoken.

    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

  • Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Let's Sum Up

    by TheGreenKnight

    The right-wing narrative to explain away the awful events of this last week is beginning to take shape. Here are the key elements of it, so far as I can gather from newscasts, blogs, and various right-wing talking heads:

    1. The real victims here are the President and his Administration, because they're being (gasp!) criticized. The people stranded in New Orleans are not victims. They have no one to blame but themselves.

    2. Nobody
    could have seen the emergency coming. Nevertheless, those people in New Orleans should have seen the emergency coming.

    3. The federal government does not have the magical power to save everybody. Nevertheless, state and local governments do have that magical power.

    [Update: Here, in fact, is the talking-point e-mail that is making the rounds.]
    Look, here's the thing. As Lance Mannion says, there's no question that the mayor and the governor did not do enough. And as Maha puts it, there are indeed some people who refuse to be helped even in the face of disaster. Those are just facts.

    But none of that means that FEMA didn't blow it. It doesn't change the fact that the top three guys at FEMA, all appointed by Bush, are completely unqualified to head up an emergency management agency. And it doesn't change the fact that this was a national disaster, requiring a national response, that the President is the national leader, and that he failed to provide adequate leadership. Nor does it change the fact that, as Keith Olbermann so eloquently put it:
    [N]ationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe....

    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....

    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'?
    When you gain power on a promise to make safety and security your top priority, and then your own agency responsible for safety completely blows it, there's no point being all surprised and offended when people demand to know what the Hell happened.

    The big talking point coming out of the White House now is "the blame game." Don't play "the blame game." Look, this is not a blasted game. Thousands of people are dead, an entire city is destroyed, a regional population was reduced to third-world disaster conditions, and a whole region of the country has been devastated. This is serious.

    Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

    No One Cared

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    When Katrina hit, where was the administration?

    Bush: On Vacation
    Cheney: On Vacation
    Condi: On Vacation
    Rummy: At a ballgame.


    At least the press continues to do its job for a change, prompting the administration to replace the Official Investigatitron 3000 with the Blame Gamitron X-9.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

    No t*tty show, no rescue for you

    by Pam

    Sandra, Ged and Ronan Scott of Liverpool, England, experienced horrors in New Orleans after Katrina (courtesy Liverpool Daily Post).

    A reader of my blog, Paul, passed this one on, in disbelief after his most excellent, and over-the-top "news" from yesterday on the Blend. He noted "Jesus, Pam. My fake news pales in comparison to the real thing. Check this out. Young women told to flash their tits if they want to get rescued. They refused and rescuers motored off without them."

    Human beings can be so vile to one another. What kind of animals are these people?
    A group of female hurricane Katrina survivors were told to show their breasts if they wanted to be rescued, a British holidaymaker has revealed. Ged Scott watched as American rescuers turned their boat around and sped off when the women refused.

    The account was just another example of the horror stories emerging from the hurricane disaster zone.

    Mr Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was with his wife and seven-year-old daughter in the Ramada Hotel when the flood waters started rising.

    "At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying 'Can you help us?' and the policemen said 'Show us what you've got' and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts," he told the Liverpool Evening Echo.

    "When the girls refused, they said 'Fine' and motored off down the road in their boat."

    At one point he had to wade through filthy water to barricade the hotel doors against looters. He said the experience made him want to vomit.

    ..."I could not have a lower opinion of the authorities, from the police officers on the street right up to George Bush," he said. "I couldn't describe how bad the authorities were. Just little things like taking photographs of us, as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own little snapshot albums"

    He added: "The American people saved us. I wish I could say the same for the American authorities." Mike Brocken, of Chester, said he feared his wife Christine and 18-year-old daughter Stephanie would be raped when they went into the Louisiana Superdome.
    For those of you that think this has to be a hoax, here's the Liverpool Daily Post article and BBC News pages.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

    R.I.P. Gilligan!

    by JJ

    Bob Denver dies at age 70.

    I was raised watching Gilligans Island reruns over and over and over and never got tired of seeing them. RIP Gilligan!

    Having a Heart

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Via AMERICAblog, I found this story about three Duke University students who drove down to New Orleans last week to help and managed to evacuate seven people who weren’t receiving help from authorities.
    The group, led by South Carolina native Sonny Byrd, say they also managed to drive all the way to the New Orleans Convention Center, where they encountered scenes early Saturday evening that they say were disgraceful.

    "We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai," said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla.
    Guess it wasn’t really as hard to get down there and help out as some spinmeisters would have us believe, huh?

    Also, in case you hadn’t heard, Al Gore was involved helping people, too. Perhaps the reason you didn’t hear about it was because he wasn’t granting interviews. I imagine it was because he realized you can’t be helping people and talking about how much you’re doing to help people at the same time.

    And this morning, I saw news footage of Bill Clinton and Daddy Bush meeting with evacuees who had been relocated to the Astrodome; a newscaster was speaking over it, so it was soundless images, but here’s what I saw: Daddy Bush and Babs were surrounded by kids, who they were hugging and kissing on the tops of their heads; Bill Clinton was surrounded by adults in a circle, and one of the women was speaking to him. He was listening intently to what she was saying, his brow knitted, just letting her talk. He wasn’t nodding, or looking around, or anything—just focused intently right in on her as she talked to him, listening, hearing her.

    I assume it’s pretty well established by now that I am no Clinton fan, for many reasons, but one thing about him that I will always defend is his genuine concern for and interest in people, which is simply impossible to fake. That man was hearing what that woman had to say, and I can only imagine how much it meant to have a former president actually give a shit about what she was going through as opposed to being used for a disingenuous photo op.

    Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter is working with Habitat for Humanity (as he has for 20 some years) to put “Operation Home Delivery” into action as soon as conditions allow, in order to provide housing and assistance for victims of Katrina.

    So what’s my point, and is it really as controversial as it seems to be? You’re goddamned right it is. Our former Democratic presidents (and one VP who would have been our president in a reasonable world) give a shit about helping people, and are willing to get their hands dirty to do it. Our former Republican president and current president give a shit about helping themselves to good publicity, and are willing to use devastated people to do it. Watching the leaders of their respective parties over the past few days, I’ve been absolutely shocked to see how glaring the disparities truly are, and I’m not about to pretend it’s any different.

    In one party, cream rises to the top; in the other, shit floats to the surface.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

    "I would never have ever imagined that I could ever write that about my own Government and it would actually be true..."

    by Ms. Julien in Miami

    Rob in Baltimore from AmericaBlog has truly said what should be said...truly an amazing summary of the hundreds of conversations I have had over the last week, and what it seems many have had.

    Will the people wake up and LISTEN??

    Royal Legal News

    by The Heretik


    The French Report The Legal Heirs Of Marie Antoinette Are Suing George Bush for besmirching her relative good reputation. They request lots of looting loot in compensation. These reports are not true. But they could be. When informed that the people had no bread, Marie Antoinette infamously said, “Let them eat cake.” And then she lost her head.

    For People Who Make Less Bread, who now have nothing to eat, George Antoinette Bush sends a message loud and clear. They must eat something else, less sweet and more pungent than any bakery cake. We must all now eat what Bush serves up.

    We Are Witness To Ancient Tragedy Made Now Again New In this Age of Unenlightenment, victims are told to take responsibility for others’ mistakes not their own. Victims are asked to be patient in their hunger. Wait a moment more please, then die. And do it off camera, sils vous plaites, while Bush plays at being king without care. Or is it queen?

    We Are All So Royally Screwed In This Age Of Unenlightenment I blame the parents specifically the mother. When you get down to it, George Bush is truly a fortunate son of a five star bitch. Tearful, sobby W is the son of George H.W. Bush, but SOB Bush is the spawn of spiteful BARBARA, the white witch. Warm welcome now for the cold tale of George W. Bush, Oedipus Putz, now also known as Antoinette.

    Marie Antoinette Might Tell Bush The Secret
    To avoid losing your head, first don’t lose your heart. Sir, we are such stuff as bad dreams are made on. The fault, dear brute, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. So might say Marie, were her head still here with breath. Reports that we will hear complaint to Bush by Antoinette’s heirs are still untrue, but other complaints and a new republic await Bush tomorrow.

    Has Their Ever Been a leader more out of touch with the led?

    The Heretik

    A short list of aid that FEMA refused or held up

    by Charlie

    I keep reading various reports of aid offered to New Orleans that has been held up or refused all together. I finally decided to keep a list. I'll update this as I learn about more. If you know of anything I'm missing, leave it in the comments.

    The last six are thanks to Shakespeare's Sister. I don't remember where I picked up the rest of the links.

    Cross posted at Shades of Grey

    Great Job, W....

    by Ms. Julien in Miami

    U.N. chief: Iraq new epicenter for terrorism

    Current conditions worse than Afghanistan under Taliban, Annan says

    LONDON - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that Iraq has become an even greater “center for terrorist activities” than Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    Annan, speaking to British Broadcasting Corp., said many young Muslims are angry, and their anger has been exacerbated by what is happening in Iraq.

    “They feel victimized in their own society; they feel victimized in the West. And they feel there’s profiling against them,” he said. “And the Iraqi situation has not helped matters.”

    Rest of the article is HERE.

    Monday, September 05, 2005


    by Shakespeare's Sister

    President Bush has just given a stirring address on the Katrina disaster*:

    “I appreciate your questions, and I understand the devastationalism. The response was unacceptable, but Brownie did a heckuva job. It’s hard work, and we’re making progress. Heh heh. Now is not the time to point fingers. We’ve got to stay the course and project strength. Let me finish. We won’t negotiate with Mother Nature, and I hear she might be sending more hurricanes our way—bring ’em on. We must not forget 9/11. We're in for a long struggle, and I think Louisianianesians understand that…and so do Americans. Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream. American families are a hardworking people, and they’re working hard to rebuild the rubbles. They understand that the benefits of helping somebody is beneficial. And one of the things we've got to make sure that we do is anything. We’re making progress. Heh heh. We're making the right decisions to bring the solution to an end. There were big decisions to be made, and I did the right decisions, so that soon, the victims of hurricane Kertroona will be able to buy stuff again, which is good, because I believe part of a hopeful society is one in which somebody owns something. That’s liberty. That’s freedom. Let me finish. You’ve got to understand that even though some people say the brown-skinned people of New Orleans don’t want food and water and liberty and freedom, they do, and you’ve got to understand that I am going to do the right decisions to make sure the hard work gets done to give them a tax cut. And if not them, then other people who aren’t so brown and wet. God bless America. Now watch this drive.”

    * No he hasn't. I'm just a bitch.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

    Katrina exposes gay couples' second-class status

    by Pam

    As Bill Clinton pals around with the Bushes and signs on to participate in the fundraising/relief effort, maybe Bill needs to take a look back at what he did in his Administration. He passed the Federal Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996, and that has now crippled gay and lesbian couples in their attempts to get their lives together after the storm.

    And as far as the Chimperor goes, well we all know the sh*tstorm of craven political homobigotry that he, Karl and Kenny Mehlman stirred up in the last election, resulting in a rash of those state marriage amendments that just compound the horror for gay and lesbian victims of Katrina in the affected states.

    Looking at the Katrina Fund's FAQ, I don't see any information about whether money raised will be available to gay families, but given the money will be disbursed by the governors of three states that discriminate, I wouldn't hold my breath.

    We pay taxes, we are helping to pay for the recovery, but as gay and lesbian Americans, our relationships are officially denied and discriminated against in our darkest hour by our government. Facts from
    Recovering from the devastation of hurricane Katrina may be particularly difficult for same-sex couples who are not recognized in any of the three states directly hit by the storm or in those states where refugees have fled.

    * The Federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents FEMA from providing any relief in the form of family benefits to same-sex couples. The laws also will directly impact gay and lesbian families where one partner has died as a result of the hurricane.

    * Federal DOMA bars Social Security survivor benefits. State benefits would also be denied.

    * Louisiana has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and prevents the state from recognizing any legal status for common-law relationships, domestic partnerships or civil unions.

    * Mississippi and Alabama both have defense of marriage acts which also deny rights to gay and lesbian couples.

    * Should the family home be in the name of the deceased partner the survivor would have no rights.

    * Any insurance payouts could go to the estate of the deceased and if there is no will would go to the closest blood relative.

    * In cases where one partner is hospitalized the other partner would not be guaranteed visitation rights or any say in medical care.

    * If the deceased partner were the birth or adoptive parent of the couple's children those children could be removed from the care of the other parent and placed in foster care.

    * Surviving same-sex partners even could be denied any say in funeral or burial decisions.

    * Even in those cases where couples had legal documents such as living wills, powers of attorney or other agreements that could be valid in the states in which they were prepared and notarized there is no guarantee they would be honored in states where survivors were relocated.
    The National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a nationwide organization which works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans youth, is coordinating an effort in the wake of hurricane Katrina, to establish a fund to assist LGBT youth and families. The national fund, will help provide direct services -- especially in areas where refugees are heading -- to many LGBT youth and their families that will be displaced as a result of the tragedy.

    Groups in the coalition include the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Mautner Project: The National Lesbian Health Organization, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) , and Pride at Work.

    You can donate here.


    Many gay and lesbian couples, even those that can afford to take the legal steps to get what security they can in this bigoted nation, put off doing it for all the same reasons everyone else does -- time, not wanting to face mortality issues, etc. It's time to stop and do what you can to prevent the state and feds from screwing you over.

    Resources from Lambda Legal:

    Marriage advisories and warnings

    * Thinking of Getting Married in Canada?
    Joint Advisory From Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, and Freedom to Marry - June 2003

    * Decisions, Decisions...
    Deciding Whether To Get Married In Canada or Massachusetts

    * We Got Married in Canada, What’s Next?
    An Action Guide for Newlyweds

    Advanced Planning (Wills and Life Planning Documents)

    *What Are You Waiting For?
    Write a will!

    Lambda Legal's Help Desk: Here you can find phone numbers to call about discrimination, and your rights.
    Lambda's Legal Help Desk staff respond directly to members of our communit(ies) who are seeking legal information and assistance with discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status. To the extent that our resources and priorities allow, Lambda Legal takes on legal representation of callers whose situations present impact litigation issues; for many others, Lambda Legal provides leads to other organizations and practical information that might help them address their problems. We also provide a list of suggested questions to ask a prospective attorney.
    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.

    Adventures of an American Caesar

    by The Heretik


    See, I’m a hurricane president. I don’t have to explain myself to anybody. These good folks know about sacrifice. I was there in the devastational until five o’clock the Friday before a three day weekend, by the way. People can criticize me if they want. That is the American way. Nobody has been executed. Not yet. Laura is a great First Lady. We’re lucky to have her.

    The Heretik

    The Two Americas

    by Ms. Julien in Miami

    And which "America" is the more backward, more un-enlightened, more ignorant...?? Forgive the long post, readers, but it is important to make sure that everyone see this. Thanks to Julien's List reader Jack L. for this:

    By Marjorie Cohn
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    Saturday 03 September 2005

    Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died.

    What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go."

    "Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes. Contrast this with George W. Bush's reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bush was playing golf. He waited three days to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster site. In a scathing editorial on Thursday, the New York Times said, "nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

    "Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable" in Cuba, Valdes said. "Shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin."

    They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators, "so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal their stuff," Valdes observed.

    After Hurricane Ivan, the United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction cited Cuba as a model for hurricane preparation. ISDR director Salvano Briceno said, "The Cuban way could easily be applied to other countries with similar economic conditions and even in countries with greater resources that do not manage to protect their population as well as Cuba does."

    Our federal and local governments had more than ample warning that hurricanes, which are growing in intensity thanks to global warming, could destroy New Orleans. Yet, instead of heeding those warnings, Bush set about to prevent states from controlling global warming, weaken FEMA, and cut the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for levee construction in New Orleans by $71.2 million, a 44 percent reduction.

    Bush sent nearly half our National Guard troops and high-water Humvees to fight in an unnecessary war in Iraq. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Paris in New Orleans, noted a year ago, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

    An Editor and Publisher article Wednesday said the Army Corps of Engineers "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain," which caused a slowdown of work on flood control and sinking levees.

    "This storm was much greater than protection we were authorized to provide," said Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager in the New Orleans district of the corps.

    Unlike in Cuba, where homeland security means keeping the country secure from deadly natural disasters as well as foreign invasions, Bush has failed to keep our people safe. "On a fundamental level," Paul Krugman wrote in yesterday's New York Times, "our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on prevention measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice."

    During the 2004 election campaign, vice presidential candidate John Edwards spoke of "the two Americas." It seems unfathomable how people can shoot at rescue workers. Yet, after the beating of Rodney King aired on televisions across the country, poor, desperate, hungry people in Watts took over their neighborhoods, burning and looting. Their anger, which had seethed below the surface for so long, erupted. That's what's happening now in New Orleans. And we, mostly white, people of privilege, rarely catch a glimpse of this other America.

    "I think a lot of it has to do with race and class," said Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. "The people affected were largely poor people. Poor, black people."

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reached a breaking point Thursday night. "You mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources we need? Come on, man!"

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had boasted earlier in the day that FEMA and other federal agencies have done a "magnificent job" under the circumstances.

    But, said, Nagin, "They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying. Get off your asses and let's do something!"

    When asked about the looting, the mayor said that except for a few "knuckleheads," it is the result of desperate people trying to find food and water to survive.

    Nagin blamed the outbreak of violence and crime on drug addicts who have been cut off from their drug supplies, wandering the city, "looking to take the edge off their jones."

    When Hurricane Ivan hit Cuba, no curfew was imposed; yet, no looting or violence took place. Everyone was in the same boat.

    Fidel Castro, who has compared his government's preparations for Hurricane Ivan to the island's long-standing preparations for an invasion by the United States, said, "We've been preparing for this for 45 years."

    On Thursday, Cuba's National Assembly sent a message of solidarity to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It says the Cuban people have followed closely the news of the hurricane damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and the news has caused pain and sadness. The message notes that the hardest hit are African-Americans, Latino workers, and the poor, who still wait to be rescued and taken to secure places, and who have suffered the most fatalities and homelessness. The message concludes by saying that the entire world must feel this tragedy as its own.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Special Analysis:
    The Area Denial Option: From Fallujah to New Orleans

    by Dark Wraith

    On a recent, beastly hot morning at Edwards Air Force Base, as reported by Wired News, military and law enforcement officials were shown the latest in acoustical technology designed to hail, communicate to, and warn crowds of people.

    The companies that were demonstrating their devices were American Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:ATCO) and HPV Technologies LLC. American Technology has donated four of its Long Range Acoustical Devices (LRADs) to the military for use in the on-going hurricane relief emergency operations in Louisiana.

    American Technology Corp. and HPV Technologies LLC dominate the market for sonic devices that can communicate commands as far away as a mile with a sound clarity that is amazing. If this were their exclusive or even primary function, there would be little controversy. That is not the case, however: these devices, in their most important role, are non-lethal weapons for crowd control a