Friday, September 30, 2005

Judy, Judy, Judy

Judith Miller says her source, Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby...

I'm sorry. I just have to stop for a minute and say that this whole "nickname" administration makes me want to vomit. "Scooter." "Turd Blossom." "Pootie-Poot." "Brownie." It's just so fratboy. So silver spoon. So self-important. So "Wow, it looked really bad from the air. It must be twice as bad on the ground."

...has just released her from her pledge of confidentiality. Only Libby's attorney says they did it over a year ago.


Yeah. But is seems as though Judy had to be really really really sure he really really meant it.

Or else she's gotten a taste for some prison pootie.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But the sunsets are fabulous

"Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks."

Raymond Chandler

This just in: God is a sumbitch

I've been reading The End of Faith, which, although the scholarship wears a little thin at times, is a really amazing book for the ideas that it puts forth. One of those ideas is that those people most successful at living in advanced, diverse societies are those who, while they may call themselves Christian or Muslim or whatever, do not really live according to strict tenets of their faith. That is, they don't really believe that people of other faiths should be killed, that people who curse their parents should be killed, that people who work on Sunday should be killed, that people who take the lord's name is vain should be killed, that slavery is a-ok, etc.

Amazingly enough, although almost all Christians have eschewed the above rules and many others as "not meant literally," or "outdated," they do still hang onto that one little rule about men fucking men.


But I digress.

So, our story so far: religion makes it really hard to get along in this world.

True Ancestor has linked to an article on a British research study that has concluded:
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.

Of course, you can argue the metrics, the sampling, the conclusions of studies like this until the cows come home. (At which point, by the way, you will be stoned to death for cross-breeding your cows.)

But to me it's common sense.

Which kind of neighbor would you want, the atheist who treasures this life, because it is all we have?

Or the kind who believes life is a veil of tears, and our reward is in heaven?

Me, I prefer someone who doesn't think I'm going to hell.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One nation, under water

First, W referred to our struggle against Islamic terrorists as a “crusade.”

Now Karen Hughes, our PR in the mideast, shows her profound lack of understanding of the Islam-US relations, and in doing so plays into the hands of extremists.

While addressing a group of Egyptian dignitaries, Hughes asserted that "Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives,"

When asked by an Egyptian opposition leader why Bush mentions God in his speeches so much, Hughes asked him "whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites 'one nation under God.'”

Of course, our Constitution says nothing of the sort. She is confusing the CONSTITUTION, the document our government is based upon, with the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, a ditty written by a speechwriter for President Harrison, who, engaged in a little PR campaign of his own, sought to counter a similar pledge written by a NYC official for their public schools. The NYC official’s pledge contains the line “We give our Heads - and our Hearts -to God and our Country,” whereas the original Pledge of Allegiance proclaimed by Harrison did NOT mention god. The author of Harrison’s pledge was a Freemason and a supporter of the strict separation between church and state. The phrase “under God” was inserted in 1954, back when the godless communists were going to invade our country and overrun us with godforsaken godless no-goddity.



Anyhoo…Sidney Blumenthal effectively elucidates why Karen and the rest of the god people should shut the fuck up already:

With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," and recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."

Pape's research debunks the view that suicide terrorism is the natural byproduct of Islamic fundamentalism or some "Islamo-fascist" ideological strain independent of certain highly specific circumstances. "Of the key conditions that lead to suicide terrorism in particular, there must be, first, the presence of foreign combat forces on the territory that the terrorists prize. The second condition is a religious difference between the combat forces and the local community. The religious difference matters in that it enables terrorist leaders to paint foreign forces as being driven by religious goals. If you read Osama's speeches, they begin with descriptions of the U.S. occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, driven by our religious goals, and that it is our religious purpose that must confronted. That argument is incredibly powerful not only to religious Muslims but secular Muslims. Everything Hughes says makes their case."…

…Hughes' trip "would be a folly," Pape says, "were it not so dangerous."

The Hammer: not a nickname given to those of subtle wit or refined discourse

I love Tom Delay's defense of his own sorry ass yesterday:

Firstly, he describes the craven nature of the Austin, Texas District Attorney, Ronnie Earl:

"He has gone out of his way to give several media interviews in his office - the only days he actually comes to the office, I'm told."

Oh, snap! Oh no you didn't!

With all due respect, Mr. Former Speaker, you do NOT want to make Ronnie put on his heels and come on down there and kick your ass. I heard Ronnie Earl was a real badass lawman. Sort of a real-life Walker Texas Ranger, only without all that pussy karate shit.

Delay went on to emphsize that he was all innocent and stuff.
"I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House. I have done nothing unlawful, unethical or, I might add, unprecedented."

If you've seen the tape of his remarks, you know that last word in the above sentence was given particular stress.

I love it. He's drowning in his own snarky, greedy, ambitious bile, and he still - STILL - reaches out of the cesspool to make yet one more of his trademark not-so-veiled threats.

So, who set the precedent, Tommy?

Cause I'm just dying to know.

Go on, rock my world, Tommy.

I can take it.

No, not those 2 words.

Roberts confirmed as Chief Justice. Vote was 78-22

How many times have we heard it from the congressional Republicans, that Bush should be given the benefit of the doubt in regards to who he nominates for positions that require Senate confirmation?

We heard it about Rice.
We heard it about Gonzalez.
We heard it about Bolton.

I got 2 words to say to that bullshit:

Michael Brown

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I knew this day would come

A woman in NY was ticketed for being childless:

The Rivington Playground is a lovely place for parents to take their young children. It is even protected by a rule that prevents adults from sitting there without a child - and apparently they mean it.

Sandra Catena, Dance Instructor: "I'm sorry, I didn't see
the sign."

Ask Sandra Catena, a dance instructor from Jersey City who walked into the park on Saturday while she was waiting for an arts festival to begin, when she was approached by two police officers.

Sandra Catena, Dance Instructor: "They said it's against the law, you have to be accompanied by a child to sit in a kitty (sic) park and they were giving me a summons. I said 'you're kidding right?' and he said 'no.'"

And so the officers, obviously well-trained at sensing a dangerous situation when they encounter one, did the only thing sensible. While they were writing this dance instructor a summons, they called for back-up.

Already guarded by two officers, one of whom had his hand on his gun, according to Catena, two more police officers soon arrived and stood nearby with their hands on their guns in case there was trouble - from the dance instructor.

Sandra Catena, Dance Instructor: "The other two officers that just puled up their car got out, spoke with the other cop and then they walked toward me - they both had their hands on their guns too."

But there was no trouble. They wrote the summons and now the dance instructor has to face the bar of justice for her ... crime.

Sandra Catena, Dance Instructor: "I have to go to court on November 16th and I was told that if I did not go to court a warrant would be issued for my arrest if the judge does not dismiss this I can get 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine."

See? This is why I always carry embriotic stem cells in my purse.

Wait for it

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got called out of class by the Dean of Women, Mrs. Spencer. I followed her to her office in confused silence for several minutes, until finally I ventured, “Is this about that scholarship?”

“No, it’s not about ‘that scholarship,’” she said in a tone that was tough to pin down. Was she mocking me, I wondered? I’m an honor student. I couldn’t be in trouble, could I?

Turns out I was. When we arrived at her office, there was my high school nemesis, or one of them, anyway, sitting at the dean’s desk, looking smug.

Her name was Dina. She was white trash and mean. I was semi-white trash, too, but I didn’t run with her crowd. I tended more toward the cheerleader-hating suicidal-poem-writing element. Those girls were rough, and they delighted in victimizing nerdy girls like me. I’d had my locker spray-painted and broken into numerous times & my prized denim jacket stolen mere days after one of them had admired it out loud within my earshot. I’d had my skirt lifted so many times I stopped wearing them. I was generally pushed and jostled by them in the restroom, in lunch lines, and I won’t even go into what happened during dodgeball, except to say that I think they had some kind of pool going about who could knock my glasses off my face the most times.

Later, my severe geekiness was mitigated when my brother became very cool among the druggie crowd. He was the Matthew McConnaghey of Marion High School, and because so many of the mean girls wanted to get with him, they stopped their outright attacks on me.

But that was later.

Dina sat in front of me in American History, except she spent a lot time swiveled around in her chair, staring at me, making rude comments about my clothes, and trying to peek off my test answers. I hated her pretty bad, and so when a couple of friends urged me to take revenge on her by taping a sign to her back (yes, that old chestnut), I will admit that it didn’t take much convincing.

Dina had walked into class that day with a rather remarkable hairdo, the kind of hairdo that girls in the 70s still got from their mom’s hairdresser for special occasions. It was upswept and teased, with a large teased bun in the back and spiral spit curls on the sides. It was quite a sight. So I wrote out a sign that said, simply enough, “Look at my hair!” and taped it to her back.

I know, I’m a genius, right?

So there I sat in the Dean’s office, called on the carpet for the kind of prank that should have been laughed off, or avenged, maybe, but certainly not given to the authorities to arbitrate.

So here’s how it went down:

Mrs. Spencer: Victoria, you’re lucky I am involved. Dina expressed to me that otherwise she would have instigated a fight with you.

Me: She wouldn’t fight me.

Dina: I could kick your butt!

Me: No you wouldn’t.

Mrs. Spencer: And how would you stop her, Victoria?

Me: I can run a lot faster than she can.

I think this statement stopped them both in their tracks. Clearly, the Dean was not used to dealing with girls who took pride in their ability to run from fights.

Mrs. Spencer: I would like you to apologize to her, Victoria.

I thought about this for a long time. Dina and Mrs. Spencer waited silently for me to speak.

Me: I’m sorry you got upset about what happened.

Mrs. Spencer: Hm. I’m afraid that’s not good enough, Victoria.

Me: Well, that’s too bad. That’s all you’re getting.

It was the classic un-apology. KIND OF LIKE THE APOLOGY OFFERED BY FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR MIKE BROWN in front of the Congressional committee yesterday. When asked if he had any regrets about his performance, he offered "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together. I just couldn't pull it off,"

He also admitted, with great humility, that his “biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.”

Want more from him? Too bad. That’s all you’re getting.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Agent 86'd

Am I the first to make that joke? Huh? Am I?

But seriously, Don Adams was a funny guy, and his character on Get Smart influenced a whole generation of tv doofuses.

He died today of a lung infection at that most revered of celeb bucket-kicking joints, Cedars Sinai Hospital in LA.

Man, Agent 86 and Gilligan in the same month. That's harsh.

Who's next? Ruth Buzzi?

The "liberal media," explained

If you've followed the arc of Katrina coverage, and wondered how the media voices of outrage were silenced, you should read this LA Weekly column by Nikki Finke:

If big media look like they’re propping up W’s presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers — in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors.

At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, parent company of CBS, has admitted what everyone already knows is true: that, while he personally may be a Democrat, “It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.”

Ho down!

I can't be the only one who misses Media Whores Online. Who were they, and where did they go?

But there's a new site for those of us who tend to view the press as...well...I guess cocksuckers is too strong a

Let's just call them Presstitutes.

Here's a sample:

Create The News Then Comment On It

"[Karen] Hughes, recently confirmed as undersecretary of state, has attracted enormous attention in her new role..." Enormous attention from whom?

This is one of the most pervasive forms of Pre$$titution: create news then comment on it as though it were established fact. An example we use in our FAQ
is the Swift Boat slime machine that denigrated an American war hero's service. After weeks of 24/7 coverage, the very same outlets that gave vile men like John O'Neill a platform to trash John Kerry, wondered out loud - and with a straight face - how the Swift Boat scum got so much traction.

Look out! Flipper's got a gun!

Weaponized dolphins, freed from their pen by Hurricane Katrina, might be stalking you:

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest.

Make levees, not war

Sign made by a protester at the DC peace rally this weekend.

Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine

Ladies & germs, it doesn't get much better than this.

A Dover Area, PA school board member explains why "intelligent design" should be taught as an alternative scientific theory in schools:
"Nearly 2,000 years ago, someone died on a cross for us," said board member William Buckingham, who urged his colleagues to include intelligent design in ninth-grade science classes. "Shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?"

Friday, September 23, 2005

To paraphrase Jon Stewart, you'd expect a compulsive liar to be more articulate

Bush tries to justify the war:

The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission. For the security of the American people, that's not going to happen on my watch. We'll do our duty. We'll defeat our enemies in Iraq and other fronts in the war on terror. We'll lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Since our country was attacked on the morning of September the 11th, 2001, we have known that the war on terror would require tremendous sacrifice and commitment. Across the world, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking on dangerous and difficult work. Some have given their lives in battle; they did so in a cause that is just and necessary for the security of this country. We're grateful for their service. We pray for their families they left behind. We'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission and winning the war on terror.

He has no shame.

"Our worst fears came true"

Water is flowing over the patched levee and into New Orleans' 9th ward.

Officiousness descending into desperation and recrimination

NPR has obtained copies of the tapes of inter-agency conference calls made prior to Katrina.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hell freezes over, yo.

Ice T is producing the next David Hasselhoff album.

Why she's a poet

Poet Sharon Olds refuses Laura Bush's invitation to read from her works at the National Book Festival this year. Following is an excerpt from her declination letter to the First Lady:

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

To America, to New Orleans, to all of it. I love you, baby.


We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I am taking a few days off between jobs, and have decided to take a few days off from blogging as well.

Seriously. I am turning off the media and going out to work in my garden for a few days.

If I'm not back before the Dems roll over on Roberts, know that in my heart I am with you all, my dear gentle readers.

five days in this motherfuckin' attic

Do yourself a favor and listen to the Legendary K.O. remix called George Bush Don't Like Black People.

(via Wonkette)

Oh please oh please oh please

Dionne at WaPo:

The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them -- and the country.

Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square.

We dare not go on like this.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Review of Bar Marmont

I had, hands down, my worst LA dining experience ever at Bar Marmont Saturday night.

I'm not sure of the affiliation with Chateau Marmont, where we stayed that night, which was wonderful. If you live in LA or ever visit, you must stay there at least once.

But Bar Marmont was a fucking nightmare.

Okay, so there's 9 of us, and we are seated and get drinks and the service is swift and everything's groovy. Then we get half of our food, and we're told the other half is on its way.

Ten minutes later, we're told again that it is on its way.

And then again.

And then again.

Meanwhile, we see tables around us getting their food, no problem. We see items that are the same as some of the food we are missing delivered to other tables.

We speak to the manager, who also assures us the food is on its way.

Everyone else finishes their food and half of us still do not have ours. It has been 30 minutes since they told us it was "on the way."

I worked in food service for 12 years, and I'm thinking that at this point, every effort in the kitchen should probably be focused on us, and our food. In fact, this should have happened 20 minutes ago, when the situation entered the customer service critical zone.

It was then that the waitress came to our table and admitted to us that the kitchen HAD NOT YET BEGUN to make our food, and did we still want it?


They offered no explanation for why they had strung us along in this manner, but offered to buy our "second round" of drinks.

Four drinks. That's what they were offering us.

Now, as I said, I've worked in food service a long time, and I can tell you quite objectively that this offer is completely inadequate. We suggested same to the manager, but he was quite stubborn and refused to do anything else for us.

To add insult to injury, our bill arrived with the food we never received still on it.

To add literal insult to injury, the manager made a sarcastic comment to us as we left, thanking us for being so "nice."

So fuck those fuckers. I hope this review gets on the Google first page.

Just to clarify the president's position: he does NOT hate black people who look like preachers


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.

Brownie, we hardly knew ye.

He's gone.

Have a margarita for me, you pathetic piece of shit.

Don't hate the blame game player, hate the blame game player game.

Oh, well, okay then.

NEW ORLEANS — President Bush denied Monday there was any racial component to people being left behind after Hurricane Katrina, despite suggestions from some critics that the response would have been quicker if so many of the victims hadn't been poor and black.

"The storm didn't discriminate and neither will the recovery effort," Bush said. "The rescue efforts were comprehensive. The recovery will be comprehensive."

Bush made the remarks to reporters at the end of a tour that took him through several flooded New Orleans neighborhoods.

Occasionally, Bush had to duck to avoid low-hanging electrical wires and branches.

Oh, for a low-hanging electrical wire with some electricity in it!

It was Bush's first exposure to the on-the-ground leadership of his new hurricane relief chief. The federal response to the disaster has been roundly criticized as sluggish and inept.

Bush said Congress should consider whether the federal government should have more authority to step into disaster areas without a request from the states. "All of us want to learn lessons," he said.

See, see how he’s still trying to blame the Governor of LA? He’s intimating that she did not request aid in time, WHICH IS A LIE. But no acknowledgement of that from the reporter. No mention how BushCo was all, “we hate the blame game” in public, and meanwhile they are secretly briefing reporters “on background” about how it’s really the fault of state and local officials.

No mention of all the “background” lies from BushCo printed in the papers, without verification, about the slowness of the governor’s response. Hinting that she didn't turn in the proper form, or didn't get it fucking notarized or some shit like that. It's all fucking lies, but it gets printed like it's the truth.

And then the president tried to "clarify" his "lie" about nobody anticipating a levee breach:

He said he was referring to that "sense of relaxation in a critical moment" when many people initially thought the storm had not inflicted heavy damage on the city.
What the fuck is that motherfucker talking about? And who the hell was he talking to that was relaxed? They were reporting that was water coming over the levee before Katrina made landfall, you stupid, tragic, frat-boy asshole.

At least FEMA director Mike "I heart my Arabian Horse" Brown is out of the picture, having been relieved of this particular duty (but not fired) and replaced by Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen. Brown couldn't exit the scene without a least one more demostration of his complete lack of empathy and self-awareness, though:
“I’m going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife and, maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night’s sleep. And then I’m going to go right back to FEMA and continue to do all I can to help these victims,”

Yeah, that's right. Right after the margarita. And the sleep and the mexican food and stuff. Then, the very next thing, I'm going to help the victims.

What a douche.

And my favorite moment so far, when an ER doctor on live television told Cheney to go fuck himself. He said it a couple of times. On live tv.

Needless to say, I was in heaven.

Cheney told the doctor he found his "lack of faith disturbing" and then lifted him off the ground by the throat by making a little pinching gesture with his fingers.

Oh, and then there's Kanye.

Oh, Kanye. You had me at "George Bush hates black people."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Media Finally Gets it Right


Escape from New Orleans

A couple of paramedics trapped in New Orleans tell a story that sounds like it should take place in Rwanda, for fuck's sake. Or some sci-fi movie with Kurt Russell. Not a civilized democracy in the 21st century.

Oh wait, we're not living in a civilized democracy. We're living in BushCo, so it's all too terrifying and fucked up and true.

It's long, I know, but fucking read it, folks.

I checked out the story, and it appears to be legit. You can click through the links starting at Truthout to the original posting.

Thanks to Jen for the tip.

Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

By Parmedics Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky

EMSNetwork News
Tuesday 06 September 2005

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans.

The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our
alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. 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.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.

Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

Bradshaw and Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradshaw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790.

One thing I'll say for BushCo, he can always be depended upon to do the sleasiest fucking thing possible.

Bush yesterday suspended minimum wage rules for federal contractors that will be working to rebuild what Katrina destroyed.

So here you have a devastated region, with millions out of work, and the federal contractors do not have to pay even mimimum wage to the people they hire?

Let's imagine, with that many people trying to get a limited number of jobs, what the rush to the bottom wage will look like. People in that circumstance are gonna take anything they can get, and those fuckers know that.

It's not like government contracts don't benefit contractors. These are the most lucrative gigs you can get, if you are a Halliburton, say, or a subsidiary of, oh, Halliburton.

God, I hate them. What won't they do? Seriously, is there any craven self-serving act they won't commit?

If you can think of one, please reply. We'll start a list.

A short list.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not so hard for this Guardsman to believe

I am proud to post this, my brother's thoughts on the duties, the training, and the life of a National Guardsman:
People shooting at the rescuers? Yeah this has been a known aspect of the human condition at least back to when I was trained. I was in the National Guard in the late 70’s and early 80’s and part of our mission as told to us in training would be to protect the firemen during the act of putting out the fire.. No we didn’t get a fire engine and surround it for practice; we were simply told to be prepared for this mission.

The problem with being a guardsman in these instances is the unresolved conflicts that arise from training and situation. We were trained as soldiers, don’t shoot
civilians… you are soldiers, don’t shoot civilians… and so on went the training. If we are not to shoot while we have been trained as members of the Army that that is our primary tool in obtaining our goals, then what are our other tools to use in such a situation? Enter the MP’s, trained in how to posses a weapon and yet how to be civil. 100% of MP units are Guard and Reserve units I am told. Course they were what was missing in theater in the early days of Iraq and why there is a shortage of MP units in the states today.

I remember the relief in conflict at not being armed myself as I went into a crowd control situation, my weapon had a trigger and it was the soldier holding the weapon. I was not trained in restraint I was trained to follow clear orders and to respond to aggression. At times when the orders would be less than clear, a daily occurrence, and aggression prevalent, the animal condition within us guardsmen may prevail. (I am speaking from the late 70’s when the memory of Kent State was still very fresh) When trained, it takes but a nudge to set off a series of mechanical actions seen later as pulling the trigger. Add to this the dehumanizing techniques that effect both sides, the donning of gas masks (putting on “the bug” as you looked like a giant insect) and the display of strength when entering the field. (stomping and weapons held high) Judgment was further reduced from within the bug, only training would prevail, you carry a weapon because it has a trigger. Yeah, not so hard to believe that someone would take a shot at the rescuers.

The raw deal for Guard and Reserves: Yeah, we served and serve. Yes you can count on us to do our best. The deal though was that in exchange for signing up for the whole 6 years was that the federal government was to use us wisely and at absolute need, and the state government could use us at any time the situation demanded more resource then was normally on hand. We were your first line of defense in natural disasters, and yes the first line of defense in aggression. We were told that we would probably end up as fodder in a true theater, but that we could buy the 6-9 months needed to further mobilize the regular services. When we signed up for 6 years, being used in place of the regular services wasn’t part of the deal, we were the Guard, the home force you could count on to get your backs and yes fight from the front as needed.

I am proud to see my brothers and sisters serving in the south and overseas. I am told that my old unit, the 103rd Medical Battalion out of Lancaster PA has been in theater in the Gulf since the first days. This was told to me by a Guardsman returning that I met in Atlanta airport, he was a bit distracted or dazed and was definitely preoccupied with something as he told me , so I don’t know how accurate the information is. I told my wife that if this is true that my extended family was there. She didn’t understand… her reply was that I didn’t even know those people.

Yes I do.

The truth about FEMA

Sidney Blumenthal's excellent analysis of the swift decline of the agency that Clinton made work.

...Bush met with congressional leaders of both parties, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged Bush to fire [FEMA Director Michael] Brown. "Why would I do that?" the president replied. "Because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week," she explained. To which he answered, "What didn't go right?"...

...After its creation in 1979, FEMA became "a political dumping ground," according to a former FEMA advisory board member. Its ineffective performance after Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992 exposed the agency's shortcomings. Then Sen. Fritz Hollings of South Carolina called it "the sorriest bunch of bureaucratic jackasses." President Clinton appointed James Lee Witt as the new director, the first one ever to have had experience in the field. Witt reinvented the agency, setting high professional standards and efficiently dealing with disasters.

FEMA's success as a showcase federal agency made it an inviting target for the incoming Bush team. Allbaugh, Bush's former campaign manager, became the new director, and he immediately began to dismantle the professional staff, privatize many functions and degrade its operations. In his testimony before the Senate, Allbaugh attacked the agency he headed as an example of unresponsive bureaucracy: "Many are concerned that Federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective State and local risk management. Expectations of when the Federal Government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level. We must restore the predominant role of State and local response to most disasters."

After Sept. 11, 2001, FEMA was subsumed into the new Department of Homeland Security and lost its Cabinet rank. The staff was cut by more than 10 percent, and the budget has been cut every year since and most of its disaster relief efforts disbanded. "Three out of every four dollars the agency provides in local preparedness and first-responder grants go to terrorism-related activities, even though a recent Government Accountability Office report quotes local officials as saying what they really need is money to prepare for natural disasters and accidents," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Vetonator 2: Rise of the Machine Politics

The Governator will indeed veto the gay marriage bill passed Tuesday in CA, citing a proposition passed 5 years ago, Prop. 22, which states "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Believe it or not, a lot has changed in 5 years. Gay marriage is now legal in Canada & Spain, and was made legal through court order in Massachusetts. And polls show that a similar prop might fare very differently today.

But Schwarzennutter is low in the polls and sinking, and the only people still standing behind him are the hard core Republican-at-any-cost people, and those people -- guess what?

They don't like queers.

Yeah, it's shocking, I know, but they actually really don't like the gays, and they don't want them to be able to live their lives in peace, you know, like not getting beat up or fired for being gay, being able to marry the person they love, and take care of them legally in a way that is comparable to what an actual legal spouse would have. Those people don't want the gays to have that.

No one has really figured out why yet.

I mean, I know that they feel threatened by the gays, but c'mon, first of all WHY, and secondly, so the fuck what? I feel threatened by all the breathtakingly fabulous people in LA who are 10 gazillion times better looking than me, thinner, and MUCH better dressed, but I'm not advocating, as much as would enjoy it, that they receive lesser legal rights than I have.

Although I am going to fantasize for a minute about Nicole Kidman being fired from her next movie for exceeding the state skin luminosity guidelines.


But back to the people who hate the gays. Oh yes. They're fond of quoting some passage from the Bible blah blah blah, which is what they do ALL THE TIME when they want something their way. This is actually a pretty effective tactic, because the Bible has some crazy-ass shit in it, and you can basically justify anything by pulling some fucked-up shit out of that book.

BTW, the Koran? Same deal. And we all saw how the shit goes down when you start justifying something that's clearly fucking wrongity-wrong-wrong by claiming that your god wants it that way.

But enough of my crazy ranting. Obviously, I hate God and America and need to go back where I came from, which my research shows would be Scotland/Ireland, circa 1730.

And Schwarzenfluffer needs to stop playing politics and do what he told us he would do, which is think and act independently, and according to his own beliefs.

Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

But tell me again why it's the mayor's fault?

Really, really excellent article in Salon on the endemic problems in the new FEMA. You can sign up for a free day pass if you're not a subscriber.

Days before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the city of Chicago drew up a list of resources it was willing to make available for relief efforts in areas that might be hit by the storm. Chicago told the Federal Emergency Management Agency that in the event of disaster, it could spare more than 100 Chicago police officers, 36 Fire Department personnel, eight emergency medical experts, more than 130 staff from Chicago's Department of Public Health, 140 staff from the Department of Streets & Sanitation, dozens of trucks and two boats. These teams, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told federal officials, could work in affected areas independently, bringing their own food, water and other supplies with them. But FEMA apparently wasn't interested. Despite the host of resources Chicago offered, and despite the televised lack of resources in New Orleans, as of late last week, FEMA had requested only one thing from Chicago -- a single tanker truck. "I was shocked," Daley said at a news conference on Friday. "We are ready to provide considerably more help than they have requested. We are just waiting for a call."

Daley wasn't the only generous donor to be rebuffed. Throughout last week, various local and state governments, corporations and nonprofit organizations across the nation attempted to help in the relief effort, only to be snubbed by federal officials -- officials who were themselves providing precious little aid to those in need. Citing security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security barred the American Red Cross from entering New Orleans with food. Five hundred Floridian airboaters were ready to rescue people stranded in inundated homes, but FEMA turned them down. Twenty sheriff's deputies from Loudoun County, Va., suffered a similar fate. And Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, La., said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that FEMA declined to let him accept three tanker trucks of water donated by Wal-Mart, as well as 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel stored in a Coast Guard vessel docked in his district.

Investigation checklist: #1 Come up with cool name. Ask Karl if "Freedom Force" is taken. #2 Challenge other investigation to foosball tournament

So by now you all know that Bush is going to be investigating himself.

Yes, he's promised to lead an inquiry into his own administration's response to Katrina.

He might want to take at look at this.

From Salon's War Room:

From all across the nation, local fire departments have sent firefighters -- many of them trained in emergency medicine and search-and-rescue techniques -- to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested the help.

But when the firefighters arrived in Atlanta, loaded down with the firefighting gear FEMA told them to bring, they were sent to a hotel to wait. Some of them have been waiting for three or four days now. Some have been assigned to sit through an eight-hour class on topics that included sexual harassment. And some have been dispatched to the disaster area to work as human props behind George W. Bush as he toured the destruction.

We've said this before lately, and we'll say it again: We're not making this up.

Gay Marriage: so last year!

The California State Assembly passed a gay marriage bill yesterday, but don't get all excited because the governator has indicated he'll veto it. The bill would change the states legal language from a "civil contract between a man and a woman," to "between two persons."


No Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Forty-one of the Assembly's 47 Democrats voted yes; four Democrats voted "no," and two abstained.

In addition to [Simon] Salinas [D-Salinas], Assembly members Tom Umberg of Anaheim and Gloria Negrete-McLeod of Chino provided key votes. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), who had missed the floor vote in June, also helped the bill prevail.

Assemblyman Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood) — one of the lawmakers who abstained in June, when Leno's bill fell four votes short — withheld his vote again Tuesday. Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R-Cathedral City) abstained after having voted "no" in June. Assemblyman Joe Baca Jr. (D-Rialto) also abstained Tuesday.

Inglewood just don't wanna vote with Comptom? Hardly surprising.

Oh, and check out the asshole quote of the day from one of the "nay" votes:
"The institution of marriage transcends political fads," said Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Murrieta).

In my opinion, hetero marriage is WAY too exhalted in this country. Expecially for people like me, who are no damn good at it. It's very intimidating, the way they build it all up, like it's some kind of sacred institution. I think it's just a way to keep people together after they get bored of fucking each other, which I'm not even sure is a good idea.

Is gay marriage a fad? Sure. Inter-racial marriage was also a big fad in the day.

Yes! Just like the hula hoop.

It's true.

But will her heart still go on?

Celine is upset, yo. And girl, she will NOT stop representing for the victims of Katrina, so don't even ask.

Oh, Celine. Celine, Celine. Stop workin' the diva hand, put your checkbook down and sing us a song.

Click the video link in the bottom right toolbar.
Thanks to Bil for the tip.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Or, why not let them die and decrease the surplus population?

Former First Lady Barbara Bush after touring the Astrodome:

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

First of all -- underprivileged??? What the fuck year is this? They were fucking poor, Babs, okay? Fucking poor.

Secondly, I think she should suggest sending all of them to prison. Because really, shouldn't they just be grateful for 3 squares and a roof over their head?

Fuck Rehnquist

Gilligan is dead.

I remember for years hearing the stories that the tv show Gilligan's Island is based on the idea of the seven deadly sins. And when the show's creator, Sherwood Schwartz, came to Chicago to see a stage version of the show, he was asked by a member of the audience in an Q&A session if that rumor was true. "Sure it's true," he said. But who knows? It seems unlikely that the seven stranded castaways were high concept, but you know, stranger things have happened in the television biz.

Let's put this to rest, shall we?

Gilligan = Gluttony (Remember the show where he ate too many bananas? Or the one where he ate too many pies? Or the one where he ate too many coconuts?)

Skipper = Wrath (Weapon of choice? His hat.)

T. Howell 3 = Greed (Who else packs several suitcases full of money for 3 hour cruise?)

Lovey = Sloth (What did she ever do but lay in that damn lounge chair with the parasol and the fruity drink?)

Ginger = Lust (Okay, she was lusted AFTER, mostly, but I saw what she was wearing, and she was asking for it.)

Mary Ann = Envy (Mary Ann is a character Schwartz would later perfect in Jan Brady, whose nemesis, Marcia, is always more desirable than her.)

The Professor = Pride (Always so confident that the coconut radio would alert the authorities to their whereabouts.)

And those are the moderates!

Columbia Christians for Life defines the term "pro-life":

As we noted last week, the anti-abortion group Columbia Christians for Life claimed that Katrina is God's punishment for America's tolerance of abortion rights. The proof? The group says a satellite image of Katrina as the hurricane struck land in Louisiana looks just like the ultrasound image of a 6-week-old fetus.

The group is out with a new message now, and it's claiming victory. New Orleans had five operating abortion clinics before Katrina, the group says. Now it has none. "As sad as it is to see the heart-aching loss of life and the suffering of people in New Orleans, " the Columbia Christians say in their latest e-mail message, "we can only give praise to God for sparing the lives of the innocent unborn who have been murdered by the tens of thousands in New Orleans and the rest of the state of Louisiana, year-after-year-after-year, despite prophetic warnings from men of God."

The group continues: "God is not mocked. We reap what we sow ... The city of New Orleans has sown innocent bloodshed and violence in the womb for years and years and has now reaped bloodshed and violence on her streets. May the people in the city of New Orleans be broken by God's Holy Law, receive, by God's grace, his gift of faith ... and receive his great salvation through Christ alone, repenting of their sins, and receiving Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah) as their Lord and Savior. Hallelu-Yah ! Then, may New Orleans be delivered from her many sins!"

On the other hand, if you take my parking space, I will kill you

Okay, my response was not as organized as True Ancestor's, but I have been thinking recently about my preparedness, disaster-wise.

Spooney said to me over the weekend that we should have a gun, in case...well, you know. We live in LA, after all, and any number of things could happen that might put our little domicile in jeopardy. And if push comes to shove, and some New Orleans style shit goes down, he wondered if having a gun to protect ourselves might be the prudent thing to do.

My response was the same one I always give to the "should I have a gun?" question: If you have a gun, you'd best be prepared to use it.

And I'm not just talking about being able to hit a target. After all, I am a registered marksman with a .22. -- It's a long story.

But being prepared to use a gun is a paradigm shift. Being prepared to use a gun means that you are prepared to make that life or death evaluation of a situation, shoot to maim or kill another human, and then live with that decision for the rest of your life.

That's not me, folks. I've spent four years trying to decide what color to paint my bathroom, because I dread the possibility of having to live with a bad decision. A bad decision about the color of a wall. So that's not me, doling out justice with a nickel plated revolver with a nice mother of pearl handle. That's not me, deciding my life is worth more than someone else's. It may be the worst kind of namby-pamby leftist pablum, but I can't do it. I can't. That's not me.

Gentlemen, start your spin!

Ouch, even the Republicans are attacking BushCo! Not kidding. Go to the places where conservatives speak to each other, and you will hear - listen for it! - voices of dissent.

Bush has had to call for his own commission now, to investigate the poor response to Katrina. You know the only reason he has done this is to stop the hemmorraging of support for his administration from members of his own party:

''Government at all levels failed,'' Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at the Capitol. She announced that the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee would hold hearings, adding, ''It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years, and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days.''

Stung by criticism, Bush called congressional leaders to the White House for a meeting, their first since the hurricane spread death and destruction on a fearsome scope along the Gulf Coast and left much of New Orleans under several feet of floodwaters.

So now we got a congressional commission on Katrina, and a presidential commission.

Ah, dueling blamefests, with the Dems going for BushCo and its hapless cronies, like FEMA head and former Arabian Horse Expert Michael Brown AKA "Brownie", and the Repubs striking at Dem N.O. mayor and loose cannon Ray Nagin.

I can't wait.

Unless you count FEMA, the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers

Last week, Bush said "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Does the above quote remind any one of another BushCo attempt at ass-covering?

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people ... would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." (Condoleezza Rice, May 16, 2002)

Like you need another reason to hate them

NPR had a story this morning about businesses located in N.O. and the compensation they are offering local employees:

3001 Inc. (small satellite mapping company) - pay all employees through end of October at least
Harrah's Casino - pay for 90 days for all 7500 employees plus pick up health care costs
Northrup Grumman (shipbuilding) - did an immediate direct deposit for all employees for 2 weeks.
McDonald's - paying all area employees for 2 weeks.
Wal-Mart - 3 stinkin' days.

When asked about their relatively, um, modest compensation effort, a Wal-Mart spokesperson responded that they are helping employees in different ways, like trying to find them work at store locations that are still operating.

Yeah, you lazy-ass hurricane victims, fuck looking for grandma! Get the fuck back to work and worry about where you're going to live after your shift ends, ya freeloader.

Oh, and have a nice day, y'all.

Friday, September 02, 2005

N.O. Mayor: "Get off your asses and do something."

If you are looking for news of someone in New Orleans, the NOLA Times-Picayune online forums are being used by people posting news of the missing, the stranded and the endangered.

But don't read them if you don't want your fucking heart broken.

Our leaders in action

From Daily Kos:
Just in case you missed the amazing performance of the Republican leadership yesterday...
President George W. Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." Well, no one except the entire world and even Mr. Bill.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went shoe shopping on Fifth Avenue, but not before she played tennis and yukked it up at Spamalot.
The Viceroy in charge of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff said "We're much better prepared than we've ever been." I'm not sure if that was before or after he reminded us that September is National Preparedness Month, so be sure to stock up on duct tape.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown leapt into action, mustering all the emergency disaster management skills he learned as a lawyer for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department (from which he was fired). His money quote: "Paula, the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today."
The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert said, eh, maybe we should just forget all about rebuilding New Orleans. Because it might cost money and stuff.
The Pentagon, headed by Donald Rumsfeld, reassured America that, yes, the Country music hoedown with Clint Black on September 11th is still on, pard'ner! And maybe we'll even break the record for the longest line dance.
The head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, sent out an email stressing that now---for God's sake, people---NOW is the time when we must repeal that which is causing our country to go down the tubes: the estate tax.
And Vice President Dick Cheney was still on vacation.
Lookie lookie, Planet Earth, at the leadership of the
United States of America. What amazing feats will they dazzle us with today??

Why people hate him. Why I love him.

Just read it:

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you
for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them --BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Michael Moore

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Do you enjoy the convenience of oral contraceptives?

Well, get used to not enjoying them. The religious right has taken the position that birth control pills are equatable with abortion, since they may prevent the implanting of a fertilized egg in the uterus.

And it looks like they've got some friends in the FDA, as the agency have just succumbed to political pressure and delayed the approval of the "morning after" pill as an over-the-counter medicine.

This pill is not the same as RU 486, the so-called "abortion pill." This pill is basically a large dose of oral contraceptives. LA Times:

WASHINGTON — The head of the Food and Drug Administration's women's health office resigned Wednesday in a widening protest over delays in deciding whether the "morning after" contraceptive could be sold without a prescription.

Susan F. Wood, a biologist who has served in two administrations and in a number of jobs on Capitol Hill over 15 years, took the unusual step of announcing her resignation in an e-mail to friends and colleagues that was distributed to the media by a policy group that supports reproductive choice.

"I can no longer serve … when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," wrote Wood, 46, who had been at the agency for about five years and had held the title of assistant commissioner.

Haven't I talked about this before? The god people are really afraid of fucking.

I think it's our duty, therefore, to scare the bejesus out of them whenever we can.

You can scare them in your car, or in a nightclub bathroom, or on an airplaine one mile in the air. Heck, scare them in the privacy of your own home if you have to.

September 1 is Blog for Relief Day

I guess I'm not the only who throws shit at the tv whenever someone talks about the "stubborn" residents of New Orleans who did not evacuate. Take a look at the pictures from the Superdome. Those people aren't "stubborn," or "obstinate," they're fucking poor, is what. Those are the fucking poor people of New Orleans. And how the fuck are you supposed to evacuate the city without a car or money? Seriously. Why isn't anyone on the tv talking about THAT?

Boing Boing via Wonkette:
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number -- 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out.

Go to Boing Boing and read the email attributed to a NOLA rescue worker.

And then check out the list of online charities at Truth Laid Bear. There's something there for any giving philosophy. Donate some bucks.

Lake George

Wonkette has a tipster at the EPA, who tells the inside story about funds diverted from the New Orleans levee system to Iraq. Apparently, the huge body of water now covering the city has been dubbed Lake George:

We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.

The [New Orleans] paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has hadmassive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush -- they do great work when they're funded. This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions.

25,000 people abandoned without food, water, power, or toilets at the Superdome. Meanwhile, every story on Fox News is about the looters

From AP via Yahoo news:

Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door — a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.
Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation.
Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.
At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry, desperate people who were tired of waiting broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.
"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."