"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
There are profound differences, very profound with this government, this administration since Mr. Bush came into power. We have been subjected -- Venezuela has been subjected to permanent aggression against us and against me personally. There has been no respect for the sovereignty of Venezuelans, for the chief of state (inaudible) Venezuela.
Now, this administration has truly broken with all protocols of democracy and respect for people. The coup d'etat against Venezuela was manufactured in Washington. My death was ordered. And it was ordered recently. Reverend Pat Robertson, who is very close to the president, asked for me to be physically eliminated, for me to be killed. And so perhaps Christ recommends that when we get a slap in our cheek, we turn the other cheek. We have both cheeks red and blue because we've turned the cheek so many times. But we never (inaudible) because we do love the people of the United States. We want to be brothers and sisters of the people of the United States, independently of their government.
You know where right now my medical team is? In the presidential plane, 200 kilometers from here. The government of the United States, in violation of the laws of the United States and conventions, prevented my doctors from coming to New York. Where is the chief of staff of my military detachment and my chief of security? On the plane. They've been locked into the plane, two days. They can't come out of the plane.
Those are the signals we're receiving. Yesterday they issued a report saying that Venezuela does not cooperate in the fight against drugs. Absolutely false. We have broken records this year in confiscation of cocaine in the fight against drug trafficking. Those are the false aggressions, the false signals we've been receiving.
The U.S. administration has to reject -- should have rejected the term of terrorist that Robertson used. The U.S. administration seriously sinned with respect to international and national laws, because the call to murder a chief of state is, in accordance with international law, terrorism. So this gentleman, Robertson, should be under arrest by the government of the United States -- silence.
Consequently, harboring a terrorist, but not only Robertson -- there have been television channels in Miami, various people, including some Venezuelan terrorists who participated in the coup d'etat and who lived here in the United States freely -- went to request my death, and the government of this country does absolutely nothing.
So they are harboring terrorism, independently of whether or not Robertson (inaudible) of a personality. But that is not the main issue. The main issue is that on television, in front of millions of people, he justified my assassination. And later, he said, no, it was not assassination. It was kidnapping. But that's also terrorism.
I'm telling you that I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, we have documentation: how many bombers to overfly Venezuela on the day of the invasion, how many trans-Atlantic carriers, how many aircraft carriers need to be sent to (inaudible) even during (inaudible).
Recently, an aircraft carrier went to Curacao (inaudible) the fact that the soldiers were on leave. That's a lie. They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers. All on documentation. The plan is called Balboa, where Venezuela is indicated as an objective.
And in the face of that scenario, I said that if that actually happens, the United States should just forget the million and a half barrels of oil. Because everyday since I've been in power for seven years, we haven't missed it even one single day -- just one day, when we were overthrown. We were overthrown by that coup -- oil sabotage -- which was supported by Washington...
Pay attention. In these days of Katrina, today or tomorrow, a Venezuelan ship with 300,000 barrels of gasoline should be arriving. It's the first of four or five additional ships that we have sent to help to palliate the (inaudible) and put the breaks on the (inaudible). That's what we're doing. (inaudible) You hit me on one cheek, and I'll try to respond by helping you. I don't care. We're not doing this for the administration. We're doing it for the people of the United States. So that's how I respond.
We have no plans to alter in any way the supply of oil to the United States. Furthermore, I would say that Venezuela has the chief, most important oil reserves in the world. Do you know how much oil is left in the United States reserve? Barely 20 billion barrels, with 20 million barrels a day being consumed. Venezuela has 300 billion barrels for the reserve. We have the second-most important reserve of gas in this continent of the United States or in the world.
We love the people of the United States, and our desire is to have a world of brothers in peace. God grant that that be the case.
While I cannot corroborate the credibility of his claims, at this point, I would trust just about anyone over the Bush Administration.
The Second Half of the Age of Oil now dawns, and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital. It heralds the collapse of the present Financial System, and related political structures, speaking of a Second Great Depression.
But there are survival strategies. Governments may be persuaded to sign the Depletion Protocol whereby imports are cut to match world depletion rate, such that world prices fall into reasonable relationship with cost, and profiteering from shortage avoided; the current monumental waste of energy may be reduced; renewable energies from wave, tide, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal sources may be brought in; and the nuclear option re-evaluated.
The survivors, whose numbers may not greatly exceed those of the pre-oil age, may find silver linings as they rediscover rural living, regionalism, diversity and local markets, coming to live in better harmony with themselves, each other, and the environment in which Nature has ordained them to live. But the transition will be a time of great tension, including international tension as consumers vie for access to dwindling supplies, and as city life becomes unsustainable.
The shorter version: The end of civilization as we know it, within our lifetimes. More information can be found here...
An easy way for him to show his good faith would be to appoint, say, a prominent Democrat of strong reputation (I assume one can be found) to oversee this endeavor and to name an ombudsman of impeccable credentials. Who might fill these slots? A few days ago, I suggested that if an independent commission is established to review what went wrong in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (which includes many destroyed towns in Mississippi not routinely mentioned on the news), then James Lee Witt, FEMA's chief in the Clinton years, ought to be named head of that inquiry. Witt may be out of the running for that slot, for he has been advising Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (who would be a subject of any such examination). And it's unclear if such an entity will ever be born; Bush has not endorsed an independent and nonpartisan probe, and congressional Republicans have opposed the calls for this sort of probe (opting instead for an inquiry to be controlled by congressional Republicans). But imagine if Bush asked Witt to be the reconstruction czar. (Do we have to use that term? Anyone have a better suggestion?) That would be way outside-the box. What would all the Clinton-haters say?
Bush could even go further. He could ask Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who has pursued allegations of Halliburton wrongdoing, to be the uber-ombudsman. Am I on drugs? Yes, I am: Sudafed. And it is late. But if Bush wants to signal that the revival of New Orleans and the other cities is not going to be business-as-usual, he could do so with a few bold and daring choices along these lines. If Witt doesn't want the headaches, how about Al Gore? A move of this sort would depoliticize the project--which, as a citizen (as opposed to a politically-minded journalist) I wouldn't mind seeing. Yes, if Bush is sincere, it won't be too hard for him to prove it. All he really needs is the desire.
Great advice Mr. Corn, but you and I both know he doesn't have it in him... Or should I say Rove doesn't have it.
The president, as he fondly recalled the other day, used to get well lit in New Orleans. Not any more. On Thursday night, Mr. Bush wanted to appear casually in charge as he waged his own Battle of New Orleans in Jackson Square. Instead, he looked as if he'd been dropped off by his folks in front of a eerie, blue-hued castle at Disney World. (Must be Sleeping Beauty's Castle, given the somnambulant pace of W.'s response to Katrina.)
All Andrew Jackson's horses, and all the Boy King's men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. His gladiatorial walk across the darkened greensward, past a St. Louis Cathedral bathed in moon glow from White House klieg lights, just seemed to intensify the sense of an isolated, out-of-touch president clinging to hollow symbols as his disastrous disaster agency continues to flail.
In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background?
Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.
Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.
Baton Rouge, which has received a huge influx of evacuees, did not get such a center until this Thursday. Evacuees and local officials also complain that FEMA's request for them to register on line or via phone is unrealistic, given that as of Wednesday 310,000 households in Louisiana were still without telephone service and 283,231 were still awaiting power, or nearly 30 percent of the state's households. And the phone lines are almost always jammed anyway. As such, those with cars drive miles to operating help centers in other counties, where the lines are sprawling. Confusion is rampant.
Three weeks later... Why is FEMA still not up to task? This is not about political ideologies or bureaucratic policy, but pure and simple competency. I am beginning to wonder if our government officials are capable of running a fucking lemonade stand. Seriously, three weeks?
Based off Dubya's decision to appoint someone, who's most relevant experience was officiating for the International Arabian Horse Association, to the Chief of FEMA; this should come as no surprise...
Symbolic of the importance the Bush Administration places on women's health, a male veterinarian has been appointed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Lester Crawford as acting director of the Office of Women's Health. Norris E. Alderson, PhD, has spent the majority of his career at the FDA holding various positions in the Center for Veterinary Medicine. The Office for Women's Health, which ensures that the FDA remains gender sensitive and monitors the progress of women's health initiatives, was most recently headed by Dr. Susan Wood. Wood resigned late last month in protest over the FDA's refusal to grant over-the-counter status to emergency contraception.
The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said. John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.
President Bush on Friday ruled out raising taxes to pay the massive costs of Gulf Coast reconstruction, saying other government spending must be cut to pay for a recovery effort expected to swell the national debt by $200 billion or more. [...] Congress already has approved $62 billion for the disaster, but that is expected to run out next month and require another budget-busting installment. The federal deficit was projected at $333 billion for the current year before the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast more than two weeks ago. Some fiscal conservatives are expressing alarm at the prospect of such massive federal outlays without cutting other spending. "It is inexcusable for the White House and Congress to not even make the effort to find at least some offsets to this new spending," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Bush, who declined to try to put a price tag on the costs, expressed no worry.
Hurricane Katrina struck at the core of Bush's presidency by undermining the central assertion of his reelection campaign, that he was a strong and decisive leader who could keep the country safe in a crisis. Never again will the White House be able to point to his often-praised performance after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, without skeptics recalling the fumbling and slow-off-the-mark response of his administration after the hurricane and the flooding in New Orleans.
So here is the White House's Katrina Plan in a nutshell: block any independent examination of its failings, put the Einstein of damage control in charge of reconstructing New Orleans, keep the dead bodies out of sight, try to get away with general platitudes and palliatives, offer watered-down acceptances of "responsibility" while trying to pin everything you can on local yokels and fall guys like Brownie, and let Bush's corporate cronies get fat on hefty no-bid reconstruction contracts.
It's a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax.
The violence of Hurricane Katrina and his faltering response to it have left to Mr. Bush the task not just of physically rebuilding a swath of the United States, but also of addressing issues like poverty and racial inequality that were exposed in such raw form by the storm. The challenge would be immense for any president, but is especially so for Mr. Bush. He is scrambling to assure a shaken, angry nation not only that is he up to the task but also that he understands how much it disturbed Americans to see their fellow citizens suffering and their government responding so ineffectually.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took President Bush to task in front of a global summit for waging war in Iraq without U.N. consent and won rousing applause for his critique. The leftist leader told a U.N. summit on Thursday that fighting the war without U.N. authorization showed Washington did not respect the world body. He recommended moving U.N. headquarters to a country that has more regard for the organization. "There were never weapons of mass destruction but Iraq was bombed, and over U.N. objections, [it was] occupied and continues being occupied," Chavez said. Bush alleged that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction but none have been found, shattering one of his main arguments for going to war. "That's why we propose to this assembly that the United Nations leave this country, which is not respectful of the very resolutions of this assembly," Chavez said.
World leaders at the summit had been asked to speak for five minutes but Chavez ran long and when the presiding diplomat passed him a note saying his time was up, he threw it on the floor. He said if Bush could speak for 20 minutes, so could he. When he finally stopped, he got what observers said was the loudest applause of the summit.
Lawyers close to the Plame investigation say there are signs that the 20-month-long inquiry could be wrapped up within weeks. The outcome could have major political implications for Bush, whose current approval ratings are the lowest of his presidency.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has prosecuted mobsters, terrorists and even journalists. He has investigated and charged state and city officials in this notoriously crooked state with pit bull tenacity. And always, he has methodically, inexorably pursued his investigations to target the man at the top of the organizational pyramid. [...] His investigation is continuing and senior White House staffers, including top presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been implicated in the leak, which may have contravened federal law that prohibits the identification of a CIA agent. People who have watched Mr. Fitzgerald operate in Chicago, and before that as assistant U.S. Attorney in New York City, are not surprised by his zeal in pursuing the journalists. But don't expect him to stop there. That's how he operates: Apply maximum pressure to reluctant witnesses in order to build an air-tight case against the most senior member of a criminal conspiracy. [...] "You get the sense that there are absolutely no sacred cows with him. He aims straight for the top."
Sounds like trouble for those in high places... And soon.
A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday. The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to name the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. Weldon declined to name the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as "2.5 terabytes" — as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added. [...] Two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, have come forward to support Weldon's claims.
On Tuesday, August 30, a federal district judge in Toledo set a trial date for the National Voting Rights Institute's Ohio Recount lawsuit against Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State. Additionally indictments were handed down against two Cuyahoga County elections officials for their roles in the bungled election audit. The timing was coincidental; the two actions are not related although they both stem from charges that the recount was conducted in violation of state and federal laws.
Chief Judge of the US District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, James G. Carr set the trial date for August 22, 2006. The original lawsuit, case 3:04-CV-7724, was initiated by Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and his Libertarian counterpart, Michael Badnarik.
Iran is willing to provide other Islamic nations with nuclear technology, Iran's hard-line president said Thursday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the comments after meeting Turkey's prime minister on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. Ahmadinejad repeated promises that Iran will not pursue nuclear weapons, IRNA reported. Then he added: "Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know-how to the Islamic countries due to their need." Iran has said it is determined to pursue its nuclear program to process uranium and produce energy, despite European attempts to limit it. The United States accuses Tehran of secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Many news outlets have adopted a critical tone unmatched by previous coverage of the Bush administration. But you might read the editorials of virtually every daily newspaper in the United States and not find a single paper calling for the impeachment or resignation of the deadly Bush-Cheney duo, whether for deceptions about Iraq or failures to protect lives from Hurricane Katrina. By avoiding even the hint that President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be ousted from office, major news outlets are circumscribing public discourse and limiting the prospective remedies. Meanwhile, we hear about low-level resignations, official investigations and proposals for blue-ribbon commissions. What happened to thousands of people in the path of the hurricane was the horrific result of criminal negligence that came from the top of the US government. Is it too outlandish to suggest that the news media begin to discuss what kind of punishment would truly fit the crime?
Talks on halting North Korea's nuclear weapons drive are stalled due to "major disagreements" between the North and the United States, delegates said. "There wasn't any progress today. ... We are in a bit of a standoff at the moment," US envoy Christopher Hill told reporters Thursday after a day of meetings with his North Korean counterpart and other chief delegates. Hill said there were "major disagreements" between the US and North Korea, echoing the assessments of host country China and Japan. The dispute centres on the North's demand that the international community help it build light water reactors to generate electricity in exchange for ending its nuclear weapons program. The United States and Japan have refused, with the US saying that the cost and timeframe is impractical and that the Stalinist state cannot be trusted to confine a reactor to civilian use.
Rarely is the question asked: How did we get here?
As health insurance costs continue to spiral upward, fewer companies are offering health benefits to their employees, according to a national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. About 60 percent of companies nationwide offer health benefits to employees, compared to 69 percent in 2000, the survey found. Most of the companies that eliminated health benefits have fewer than 200 employees.
"It is low-wage workers who are being hurt the most by the steady drip, drip, drip of coverage draining out of the employer-based health insurance system," said Drew E. Altman, president of the foundation, a nonprofit that provides information and analysis of healthcare issues but does not take sides in policy debates. "Every year, health insurance becomes less affordable to working people."
The annual health insurance premium for a family of four is $10,880, the survey found, which is more than the yearly pay, before taxes, of a full-time worker earning the minimum wage.
No one is "running the government." Bushco is so busy figuring out how to make money off the government, how to sell off America piece by piece, how to privatize the next service, milk the next program, that he pays zero attention, and could give a shit less, to who really runs a program like FEMA and how effective they are. As long as oil prices go up, Halliburton gets the cleanup contract and Bechtel gets the rebuilding contract, it works for him. Hell, incompetence in government makes him more money in the cleanup and the fallout from the disasters created by his "government."
Bush's con is: "America, I'll keep you safe, just let me have all your money, all your natural resources, all your freedoms and rights, all your programs and services, and, of course, all your able-bodied young people, so I can grow my oil/energy/weapons/defense contract/and anything else I can think of to privatize government." This isn't simply cronyism and incompetence. This is blatant exploitation. It is extortion and profiteering off the misery and death of others. It is corruption, abuse and malfeasance of the worst kind. It is vulgar, obscene, and yes, you so-called "moral Christian" righties, it is godless. Face it, you idiots who voted for Bush, you have been conned by the neo-cons on a grand scale never before seen. Too bad you sucked the rest of us down the toilet with you.
The Massachusetts Legislature rejected a proposed change to the state constitution Wednesday aimed at banning gay marriage, a striking reversal that preserves the state's status as the only place in the nation where same-sex couples can wed. A year after Massachusetts politicians appeared destined to undo a court order that has allowed thousands of same-sex couples to marry since May 17, 2004, the Legislature voted 157-39 against the proposed constitutional amendment.
The House voted 223-199 in favor of an amendment by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., that expands current hate crime law to include some crimes involving sexual orientation, gender and disability. Under current law, the federal government assists local and state authorities prosecuting limited types of crimes based on the victim’s race, religion or ethnic background.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina. The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel -- which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus -- failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.
Hey George, now that you're "taking responsibility", shouldn't you give your loyalist the go-ahead on the commission?
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast. That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt. [...] "We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down," Compton said. Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.
[Governor Blanco] says that two days after Katrina, desperate for help, she couldn't get through to Bush and didn't get a callback; hours later, she tried again, and they talked.
[Governor] Barbour hasn't had to wait hours to talk to Bush. In fact, Barbour said in an interview with USA Today, the president called him three to four times in the wake of Katrina. "I never called him. He always called me," he said.
More than a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital in rapid succession Wednesday, killing at least 160 people and wounding 570 in a series of attacks that began with a suicide car bombing that targeted laborers assembled to find work for the day. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility. [...] The death toll at hands of insurgents in the capital Wednesday far exceeds the carnage inflicted in any one day since the war began.
Nearly 4,000 students from every state and the District of Columbia have written Bush to express their hopes and concerns about the country. Their notes have been assembled in what organizers are calling the longest letter in the world. It will be unspooled across a half-mile of the National Mall on Thursday. [...] Gretchen Mohr has never earned a paycheck, but she knows enough to get worked up about what teachers make. So she wrote to President Bush. "We couldn't live without them," she wrote. Teachers are "paid like dirt. It's disgraceful." Strong words from a 10-year-old, but this one had done some homework. "I saw an article, and it had numbers on how much money each job makes," said the fifth-grader at Alan Shepard Elementary in Long Grove, Iowa. "A tattoo artist made more than a teacher! I just think he should raise their pay a little."
After a 1980 Supreme Court decision, Mobile v. Bolden, dramatically weakened certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the administration's effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action. The Supreme Court had decided, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation of the statute, that plaintiffs claiming certain violations of the Voting Rights Act, such as minority vote dilution.
First, as Acting Solicitor General, Roberts was the government's lead counsel before the Supreme Court in Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, a case brought by citizens seeking to enforce environmental protections in response to the government's decision to open 4,500 acres of public land to mining activity.
The Freedom of Choice
In two cases, Roberts took positions hostile to women's reproductive rights. He was a co-author of the government's brief in Rust v. Sullivan, the case in which the Supreme Court upheld newly revised Title X regulations that prohibited U.S. family planning programs receiving federal aid from giving any abortion-related counseling or other services.
Roberts co-authored two briefs on the government's behalf arguing for court supervision to be lifted in school desegregation cases. In a 1990 case, the amicus brief co-authored by Roberts in his capacity as Deputy Solicitor General sought to weaken the standard and limit the timeline for court-enforced desegregation decrees in the nation's schools.
The Separation of Church and State
Roberts co-authored two briefs arguing for an expanded role for religion in public schools. In one case, he co-authored a government amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Court, in which he argued that public high schools should be allowed to conduct religious ceremonies as part of a graduation program, a position rejected by the Supreme Court.
Louisiana's attorney general filed criminal charges against the husband and wife who own St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish, where the decomposing bodies of residents were found after Hurricane Katrina swept through the state. [...] "Thirty-four people drowned in a nursing home when it should have been evacuated," Foti said. "They didn't follow the standard of care of what a reasonable person would follow."
Pursuant to a September 7 request by Representative John Conyers to review the law and legal accountability relating to Federal action in response to Hurricane Katrina, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report today about whether the Governor of Louisiana took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government. The report unequivocally concludes that she did.
Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:
"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."
In addition to finding that "...it would appear that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. (p.11)" 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."
While some politicians opt for a quick photo-op, others are working quietly behind the scenes to protect the longterm interest of those who have lost everything...
In addition, the devastating personal and economic loss caused by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana will take its toll on consumers forcing many individuals in these affected regions to file for bankruptcy irrespective of more stringent laws. It is also possible that Congress could amend the new bankruptcy law granting individuals either a temporary exemption from the effective date or postpone the date of implementation. On Sept. 1, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, pledged to introduce legislation to provide flexibility for victims of natural disasters in bankruptcy proceedings.
In the survey, African-Americans by 74%-16% have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP. By more than 3-to-1, they say Bush doesn't care about black people. By more than 2-to-1, whites say he does. The poll of 1,005 adults has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. Additional African-Americans were interviewed to provide a more statistically reliable comparison; the survey of 262 blacks has a margin of error of +/-7 percentage points. The sample of 848 whites has a +/-4 point error margin.
1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." – President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina
2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." – Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005
3) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (laughter) — President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005
4) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." – FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005
5) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." – President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005
6) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" – House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston
7) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming media coverage for his failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005
8) "What didn't go right?'" – President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort
9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving." – Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005
10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." – CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005
11) "If one person criticizes [the local authorities’ relief efforts] or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs, and I…I might likely have to punch him, literally." – Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), "This Week with George Stephanopoulous," Sept. 4, 2005
12) "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." – Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal
13) "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." – Vice President Dick Cheney, Sept. 10, 2005
14) "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level.... It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." – House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005
15) "I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." – President Bush, on the tarmac at the New Orleans airport, Sept. 2, 2005
16) "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005
17) "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." – MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005
18) "We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." – FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."
19) "Louisiana is a city that is largely under water." – Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, news conference, Sept. 3, 2005
20) "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." – First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005
21) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." – President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005
22) "FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." - FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005
23) "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." - GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005
24) "A young [black] man walks through chest deep floodwater after looting a grocery store in New Orleans..." ... "Two [white] residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans..." – captions at Yahoo News, Aug. 30, 2005
25) "Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." – Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded:
"I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?"
There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise. We've got a lot of work ahead of us obviously.
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. Brown, under fire for FEMA's performance in the Gulf Coast, said he feared he had become a distraction.
But what's more interesting is George's response to the press regarding the resignation...
The president ducked questions about Brown's resignation. "Maybe you know something I don't know. I've been working," the president said to reporters on an inspection tour of damage in Gulfport, Miss. Bush said he planned to talk with Brown's boss, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, from Air Force One on the flight back to Washington.
Did he really not know Brownie had resigned before he was questioned by the press? Before Cheney's sudden return, and the relieving of duty that soon followed, I would have suspected he was just avoiding a necessary response, but now I'm not quite so sure.
The Democrats have to come out fighting for the national security of America. Forget about an investigation. The facts are in, Bush was in Neverland and the Governor of Louisiana couldn't even reach a high official in the White House as New Orleans started to become unglued.
We are long past the value of another commission to whitewash another Bush catastrophic failure that threatens the very safety of the United States of America.
It's time for the Democrats to rise up and stop doing business as usual on the Hill. This is not a time for the hesitant and cautious politicians who consult their high-paid pollsters and image makers before making a move.
It's time to come out fighting and battle back against the spin, the message points, the slander, the treason, the lies, the incompetence, and the complete lack of accountability that is the hallmark of this ill-fated regime.
Bush gets away with his Potemkin presidency because a good percentage of the American population doesn't know the truth. The Democrats have to stop censoring their comments about Bush. To paraphrase Harry Truman, "Just tell the truth, and they'll think it's hell."
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. Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp, has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel’s CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. [...] On Friday, Kellogg Brown & Root received $29.8 million in Pentagon contracts to begin rebuilding Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi. Norcross said the work was covered under a contract that the company negotiated before Allbaugh was hired. Shaw said on Thursday it has received a $100 million emergency FEMA contract for housing management and construction. Shaw also clinched a $100 million order on Friday from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Now that the heavy lifting has subsided, it's Kerry's turn for a photo-op...
Senator John Kerry is heading from Massachusetts to Louisiana with a planeload of supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims. Kerry left Logan Airport today on a U-P-S cargo plane full of supplies donated by state businesses. They include five-thousand bottles of baby formula from Children's Hospital, five-thousand pairs of sneakers from New Balance and cleaning supplies from the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee would not directly criticize the Bush administration for its relief efforts, but said he has warned about underfunding at the Homeland Security Department. He also said it's "not rocket science" to suggest that the country should prepare for future hurricanes by pre-positioning supplies so that they can be quickly moved into an area after a storm.
John, good points, but where have you been for the last 2 weeks?
Thus has George Bush become the Archbishop of Washington even as his aura as lord protector slides into the putrid black lagoon, bobbing with cadavers and slick with oil, that has swallowed New Orleans. No doubt the born-again president is himself sincere about invoking the Almighty. But you can hear the muttered advice in the White House: Mr President, we were in trouble after 9/11; the unfortunate episode of the schoolroom, My Little Goat and all that. But do what you did then; set yourself once more at the centre of the nation; go to the epicentre of the horror and embrace its heroes; make yourself the country's patriotic invigorator and all may yet be well.
So this weekend it was predictable that the president would shamelessly invoke the spirit of 9/11 to cover his shamefully exposed rear end - "resolve of nation ... defend freedom ... rebuild wounded city ... care for our neighbours". But comparisons with 9/11 - the fourth anniversary of which was marked in New York yesterday - will only serve now to reinforce the differences between what the two calamities said about America, and especially about those entrusted with its government. The carnage of 9/11 generated an intense surge of patriotic solidarity, even with America's Babylon, a city scandalously and notoriously indifferent to Heartland values. This was because the mass murders had been committed by people who defined foreignness: theocratic nihilists who equated pluralist democracy with depravity. A hard-ass city supposedly abandoned to the most brutal forms of aggressive individualism (a fiction it liked to cultivate) showed instead the face of American mutualism as volunteers poured into the smouldering toxic crater. Blood and food donations piled up and a mayor disregarded his personal safety to be where he had to be, in the thick of the inferno; his daily press conferences astoundingly bullshit-free, unafraid of bearing bad news; treating his fellow-citizens, mirabile dictu, like grown-ups.
These tactics are beyond outrageous. No state, no locality can take the lead in dealing with an emergency like Katrina. That's why FEMA was created. That is why Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 26, when Katrina was a Category 2 hurricane. It is why the Gulf Coast states requested help from the Pentagon that same day.
It is why the next day, as Katrina was upgraded to Category 3, Blanco asked President Bush to declare a federal state of emergency in Louisiana. It was declared. Thus FEMA had full authority and responsibility from the White House "to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."
Over the following week the world watched as an even more powerful Katrina hit on Monday and victims pitifully waited for help without adequate (or often any) food, health care or water. Meager boats rescued a few as doctors pleaded for aid, as newscasters struggled to share the story -- and as ships, trucks and outside aid waited, and waited, for approval to help, frequently thwarted, incredibly, by FEMA.
Exactly what went wrong, in both the planning and the response, must be assessed in short order. The ability of the United States to prepare for and respond to disaster -- whatever the origin -- is vital to its security. No less, it is critical to America's ability to honor its shared values, which include attending to the poor, the sick, the vulnerable -- the very people who suffered most from the government's incompetence last week. Yet the White House delays the reckoning while pointing fingers at others.
Incompetence is bad enough; not taking responsibility for it is shameful. Blaming it on others is a national disgrace.
Aboard the USNS Comfort, most of this hospital ship's crew bunked down Thursday night thinking they were headed for New Orleans. They didn't know that Trent Lott had other thoughts. As the ship approached the mouth of the Mississippi River, it was turned around. Yesterday afternoon, the crew docked at Pascagoula, in the Republican senator's home state of Mississippi, waiting to receive victims of Hurricane Katrina. The former Senate majority leader had pressed leaders of the relief effort late Thursday night to have the ship go to his state, saying three naval vessels were already in New Orleans and able to meet its medical needs now that so many people had been evacuated. [...] The Comfort is one of two fully equipped acute-care hospital ships in the fleet of the Navy's Military Sealift Command. It has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms and is currently staffed by virtually all medical specialties, assembled from nine Navy medical centers and the volunteer relief organization Project HOPE.
Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
Worst president ever... Oblivious. In denial. Dangerous.
Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said. The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there. Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said. "The police kept saying, 'We don't want another Superdome,' and 'This isn't New Orleans,'" said Larry Bradshaw, a San Francisco paramedic who was among those fleeing. Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna, La., Police Department, confirmed that his officers, along with those from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection Police, sealed the bridge.
I must reiterate the last line: This report was confirmed by the Gretna, Louisiana Chief of Police. This not just a sad day for Louisiana and America, but Humanity. What have we become?
In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Norquist got his wish. Democracy - and at least several thousand people, most of them Democrats, black, and poor - drowned last week in the basin of New Orleans. Our nation failed in its response, because for most of the past 25 years conservatives who don't believe in governance have run our government. As incompetent as George W. Bush has been in his response to the disaster in New Orleans, he wasn't the one who began the process that inevitably led to that disaster spiraling out of control. That would be Ronald Reagan. It was Reagan who began the deliberate and intentional destruction of the United States of America when he famously cracked (and then incessantly repeated): "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
The Bush administration officials are in full blame-shifting mode: First, they announced repeatedly they don't want to "play the blame game." Then, they start blaming everybody else. According to The New York Times, Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, have launched a campaign to blame local and state officials. The "woefully inadequate response," said "sources close to the White House," was the fault of "bureaucratic obstacles from state and local officials."
"They're feeding the public a line of bull and they're spinning, and people are dying down here," Mayor Ray Nagin said, talking about the feds. "It's politics, man, and they are playing games. ... They're out there spinning for the cameras. ... I don't want to see anybody do any more goddamned press conferences. ... Excuse my French, everybody in America, but I am pissed. ... Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here! They're not here! It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamned crisis in the history of this country. People are dying."The mayor was in tears.
As Bloomberg News puts it, the agency's "upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management." By now everyone knows FEMA's current head went from overseeing horse shows to overseeing the nation's response to disaster, with no obvious qualifications other than the fact that he was Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate. 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. Can the administration escape accountability again? Some of the tactics it has used to obscure its failure in Iraq won't be available this time. The reality of the catastrophe was right there on our TV's, although FEMA is now trying to prevent the media from showing pictures of the dead. And people who ask hard questions can't be accused of undermining the troops.
But the other factors that allowed the administration to evade responsibility for the mess in Iraq are still in place. The media will be tempted to revert to he-said-she-said stories rather than damning factual accounts. The effort to shift blame to state and local officials is under way. Smear campaigns against critics will start soon, if they haven't already. And raw political power will be used to block any independent investigation. Will this be enough to let the administration get away with another failure? Let's hope not: if the administration isn't held accountable for what just happened, it will keep repeating its mistakes. Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff will receive presidential medals, and the next disaster will be even worse.
Hurricane Katrina claimed her first political casualty Friday. Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, the federal disaster readiness and response agency, was sidelined from the largest disaster relief project in the nation’s history. Brown was recalled to Washington by his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. But a new Newsweek Poll suggests the post-Katrina political storm may just be rising. And her ultimate casualty could be President George W. Bush. In Katrina’s wake, the president’s popularity and job-approval ratings have dropped across the board. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of the way Bush is doing his job overall, a record-low for this president in the Newsweek poll. [... And Congress too:] Reflecting the tarnished view of the administration, only 38 percent of registered voters say they would vote for a Republican for Congress if the Congressional elections were held today, while 50 say they would vote for a Democrat.
This has only just begun. The impact of hundreds of thousands of displaced people, who need jobs and homes and whose children need schooling, will slowly but surely begin to be felt. The psychological scars from the experience will begin to tell upon them. "We are more vulnerable now than before 9/11 because faith in the system is gone," reported Anne Gervasi from New Orleans. "No system can sustain itself as a viable entity when the citizenry are the walking wounded. Victims implode a system from within and expose its decay. This is the beginning of the end unless we can get a drastic change of philosophy and restore the government to a system 'by the people for the people.' Right now nobody down here believes we have that." What have the dead taught the living? Responsible and effective government matters. At this moment, we have neither. We are, simply put, on our own.
On the eve of the anniversary of September 11, 2001, it seems more and more, however, that August 29 is the anti-9/11. The al-Qaeda attack gave Bush the opportunity to demonstrate his "leadership" as well as a mandate (at least in the eyes of Americans) to launch a global crusade against terrorism by way of "preventative wars." The country united as never before against Bin Laden, out of a "patriotic" reflex. It supported - without any hand-wringing - not only Bush's ultraconservative foreign affairs policies, but also his economic, social, and moral policies.
Katrina has had the precisely opposite effect. The hurricane has shown the President to be incapable of "leadership" and an impotent Federal government unable to fulfill its functions of protecting citizens and anticipating crises. It has revived the country's social and racial fractures and divided it, in spite of the surge of solidarity towards the million refugees. Bush's policies are blamed, if only for the cost of the catastrophe - estimated as high as 200 billion dollars (ten times September 11's cost) - and the slowdown in economic growth. That makes it more difficult to continue reducing taxes and intervening abroad. In the United States, the political debate is suddenly refocusing on domestic problems, perhaps for a long time.
Four years after 9/11, those limits are less narrow than they were. But mass media and politicians still facilitate the destructive policies of the Bush administration. From Baghdad to New Orleans to cities and towns that will never make headlines in the national press, the dominant corporate priorities have made a killing. Those priorities hold sway not only for the Iraq war but also for the entire "war on terrorism." While military spending zooms upward, a downward slide continues for education, health care, housing, environmental protection, emergency preparedness and a wide array of other essentials. Across the United States, communities are suffering grim consequences. "Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war," Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967. The same statement is profoundly true in 2005.
A Louisiana state senator has praised a Canadian search and rescue team. Senator Walter Boasso said a Vancouver-based team reached St. Bernard parish five days before the U.S. army got there. "Fabulous, fabulous guys," Boasso said. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people... We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere."
So how is that the Canadian Mounties could respond, from British Columbia no less, quicker than our federal government? I'm stumped. All I have to say is: Our people need to get with there people, and figure this one out.