September 4th, 2005

GRRR...

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to now be feeling an insane urge to flip out and maim someone - anyone - right about now. I cannot believe that there are people right now who are STILL defending the current Administration's actions and responses in the past week, it is completely unfathomable. What in the goddamned hell? FUCK YOU, BEN STEIN. No, on second thought, MOTHERFUCK YOU. I hope your 'Clear Eyes' bottle has Drano in it, you lecherous chunk of diseased horse asshole. No one is blaming Bush for a natural disaster, he's being blamed and held accountable for his response as an unnatural disaster. NO MRE's or bottled waters were ordered to the potential shelters beforehand, and they KNEW not only that this was coming but what it would do to NOLA, so it's not just Bush that is getting slammed - get your head out of your ass. Hurricane Katrina did more than destroy cities and lives, it destroyed the protective canopy that has shielded our governmental incompetence for FAR too long. Who gives a shit if you bleed FEMA funds dry for a bullshit war when the person you put in charge of disaster relief at the federal level has NO EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER, but was forced to resign from his last job because he didn't have a fucking clue what he was doing there either? Then adding insult to injury, the head of the Department of Homeland Security goes and denies that anyone in government knew how bad a situation like this could have been. Um, WHAT? It's only been common knowledge for years what would happen, are you fucking kidding me? What idiot appoints these people? Oh, wait... Ineptitude rules!

Storm exposed disarray at the top
Despite experience of 9/11, federal disaster system remains fatally flawed (Hello, understatement)
WASHINGTON - The killer hurricane and flood that devastated the Gulf Coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.

Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.

Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.
Perhaps if we instead had referred to it initially as "Al Qaeda Katrina" or "Terrorista Katrina", things would have been different. Okay, got it - if the Bush twins were in NOLA recording their contribution to a GOP Girls Gone Wild video, things would have been different. Perhaps if the Superdome were a giant toilet filled with rich white girls, or NOLA were flooded with OIL instead of stagnant water and cadavers. Perhaps if Charity Hospital were housing a persistent vegetative and threatning to pull her feeding tube unless aid arrived, or were performing late term abortions. Perhaps if Mary Cheney were planning to attend Southern Decadence in leather chaps and nipple clamps... No, wait, scratch that one. But what was the extent of personalized compassion that Bush offered in his initial on-camera response? Poor Trent Lott, he lost his house...

Yet Another Gulf War
Up Against It: Buffeted by Iraq, gas prices and the fury over his response to Katrina, Bush faces a new storm of his own.
Bush, who loves to manage Iraq with metrics and outputs, spent two days reeling off statistics about trucks en route to the Gulf before expressing his frustration at the lack of progress. "I am satisfied with the response," he said of the government's emergency operations. "I'm not satisfied with all the results."

The political storm may only worsen for the White House. For most of this year Bush's advisers have blamed the president's sliding poll numbers not on the war in Iraq but on high gas prices at home. Those prices spiked after Katrina, topping $3 a gallon in many neighborhoods, as the national average rose to $2.68—a 44 percent hike since last year. And there are signs that Bush's political capital is getting soggy. Former GOP House speaker Newt Gingrich sharply questioned the last four years of emergency planning. John Breaux, the former Democratic Louisiana senator and close Bush ally, rejected the president's claim that nobody anticipated the failure of the city's levees, saying he talked to Bush about it last year.

Bush partisans went on the offensive. Grover Norquist, the conservative activist with close ties to Karl Rove, blamed the chaos on "looting in a Democratic city run by a Democratic mayor and a Democratic governor." Still, nobody accused Bush of an overly rapid response. It took two days for Bush to fly over the disaster zone in Air Force One, and four days for him to touch down. In contrast, 41 toured Florida hours after Hurricane Andrew passed through in 1992; two days later he returned, while the rain was still torrential. (Bush 43's aides claimed that an earlier visit would have distracted local officials.) President Bush is at least lucky that his re-election is behind him; what lies ahead is far harder to forecast.
Fuck you too, Grover Norquist, your partisan dismissal as a means of legitimizing human suffering and anarchy is being watched by the entire goddamned world. I really should be thanking you for the extra coffin nail you're just given every Liberal who cannot wait to see you eat crow.

White House shifts blame for Katrina response
Administration, embattled FEMA chief point to state, local officials
...The administration had sought control over National Guard units, normally under control of the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request, noting that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. State authorities suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who is an adviser and does not have the authority to speak publicly.

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort...
Is it just me, or does the White House look like a giant litter box overflowing with cats desperately trying to cover shit up?

Qatar offers $100m to relief fund
The oil-rich nation of Qatar has offered the United States $100 million to assist in the humanitarian crisis triggered by Hurricane Katrina.

The state-run Qatar News Agency said Saturday that Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, decided to contribute that amount for relief "and humanitarian supplies for the victims of this disaster."

The U.S. government has received offers of support from dozens of nations across the globe.

As of Friday, the White House had not accepted any offers, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the State Department was "working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security to match up what is available with what is needed."
Other offers of aid and assistance have come in from countries around the world -- including from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, the four countries hardest-hit by the December 26 Asian tsunami.

The State Department said offers of help had been received from more than 50 countries, including: Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
Pensive

FUCKING READ IT, STOP TURNING AWAY AND LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING, GODDAMNIT!

Why the poor stayed in New Orleans
Living paycheck to paycheck made staging a quick evacuation impossible
To those who wonder why so many stayed behind when push came to water's mighty shove here, those who were trapped have a simple explanation: Their nickels and dimes and dollar bills simply didn't add up to stage a quick evacuation mission.

"Me and my wife, we were living paycheck to paycheck, like most everybody else in New Orleans," Eric Dunbar, 54, said Saturday.
So here it is, a news story on something I've been waiting to blog about. Let me begin by stating that I am going to rip the fucking throat out of the next 100 people who blame the refugees in the Gulf coast for being poor, but not before anally raping them with a giant silver spoon.

Unless you grew up in poverty, unless you've spent time in poverty stricken areas, unless you've lived on a pack of crackers for two days and have nothing but water to drink on a regular basis, unless you've lived for years without air conditioning or heat or in a lot of cases even luxuries like hot water, unless you've been homeless or damned near close to it with nowhere to go and no one who gave a shit about you, DO NOT make the mistake of speaking to me about poor and disenfranchised people. Unless you grew up in a violent environment where murder, gunfire, and gangs were a commonplace fact of life, where all you had was your family and the mere idea of being separated was incomprehensible, unless you know what it is like being shit on because you didn't have the advantages of clean clothes and blind acceptance in society, don't think you have ANY FUCKING CLUE what poor people go through. As a matter of fact, you have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER to even criticize unless you've spent time in the poorer areas of your own community talking to people or volunteered time at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Your "We're all equal"'s, "Everyone has the same opportunities"'s, mean less than shit.

For years (until I had a family of my own to take care of, back when it was just me) I used to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas day at a local shelter - taking people in, setting up cots for them to sleep on and talking them to sleep, playing with kids, cooking and serving them breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sitting with them while they ate. The first time I sat at a folding table to see if everyone was enjoying their dinner, two of the four people offered me some of their food - as gratitude for my efforts and my accomplishments in treating them like human beings. They share what they have when they can, because sharing means survival. And I am NOT a special man for the choices I have made to help people, that does not make me special at all - it makes me a decent man, maybe - but certainly not special. I used the restaurant I once managed as a drop off place for food, clothing, monetary, and other donations. They were kept in a portable storage building donated by a local company that only cost me a phone call explaining my intentions. I got these donations for the same shelter I volunteered my time at, and in one holiday season alone I filled that shed 18 times. One person, motivated enough and concerned enough to take action and make a difference where it is needed can and will accomplish more than you could imagine. And what it does for your self esteem when you're unselfish is priceless.

So what kind of person are you, the kind that wants to let things be someone else's problem and responsibility and bitch about it without trying to affect change, or are you decent? I'm asking - no, I'm challenging you here. Just who are YOU?

Hello, reality.

'They Just Left Us Here to Die'
At the New Orleans convention center, thousands waited days cut off from relief.
The convention center was a disaster area, with excrement smeared on the floor of the La Louisiane Ballroom and people sprawled on dirty mattresses amid the stench of urine, sweat and rotting garbage. Outside, the street was clogged with trash and evacuees trudging with their meager possessions toward long lines waiting to board buses parked several blocks away.

Like those crammed into and around the Superdome, the convention center dwellers described living in misery among gunshots, looting and filth. They also spoke angrily of being abandoned by emergency authorities — cut off until Friday, they said, from food, water and medicine.

"The only thing the authorities have given us is a bunch of false hope," said Debra Ann Spencer-LeBeau, 49. She said she had survived Tuesday through Friday on scavenged scraps of food inside the cavernous hall. "They just left us here to die."

In a darkened storage area behind the convention halls, two corpses lay under sheets. On the street outside, the corpse of a young man was covered by a black curtain, with a trail of dried blood leading to the curb.

A team of emergency medical technicians, rolling a gurney, rushed down the street but barely looked at the corpse. They were headed to pick up evacuees too old or sick to walk.

See also New Orleans Begins to Deal With Its Dead
THIS is reality. We're all mourning the death of loved ones and of cities and of homes, but when is the reality going to collectively sink in that what happened in Angola and Ethiopia is happening here on American soil? Does a hurricane have to decimate Jeb Bush country to get some asses moving? Does it have to detroy YOUR city, YOUR home, YOUR family to get you to care enough to take action and help, or at the very least demand accountability from those that should before you?

Sometimes others just nail it for you.

...

NOLA Cops Shoot, Kill Aid Workers
NEW ORLEANS - Police shot eight people carrying guns on a New Orleans bridge Sunday, killing five or six, a deputy chief said. A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said the victims were contractors on their way to repair a canal. The contractors were walking across a bridge on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to fix the 17th Street Canal, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Corps.

Earlier Sunday, New Orleans Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said police shot at eight people, killing five or six.
CNN refutes this, saying "AP: Army Corps of Engineers says its contractors were not killed by police, but gunmen who fired at them were killed. More soon."

The World Is Watching...

EDIT to this post:
New Orleans police kill looters in shoot-out

Allow me to highlight a couple of complete contradictions within this piece:

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected the claim on a tour of Mobile, Alabama. "Nobody, especially the president, would have left people unattended on the basis of race."

But it looked different from the disaster zone. "


Then scroll down just a few paragraphs, you'll find this illuminating bit of information:

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured a medical facility at New Orleans' international airport. He spoke and shook hands with military and rescue officials but walked right by a dozen refugees lying on stretchers just feet away from him, most of them extremely sick or handicapped."

WHO is this administration fooling, besides Aunt Tom here? Speaking of...

Rice defends Bush’s Katrina response
Secretary of state arrives in Alabama for visit both healing, homecoming
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended President Bush on Sunday against charges that the government’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina showed racial insensitivity.
Is it just me, or is it highly inappropriate to be saving face when people are still being saved from rooftops in New Orleans?

THIS gave me wood:

Editorial blasts federal response
The Times-Picayune of New Orleans printed this editorial in its Sunday edition, criticizing the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina and calling on every FEMA official to be fired:
An open letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Republicans Have No Shame, Example 9,403,294,586

From the NRO Editorial:

The wind had barely stopped blowing before Katrina and the storm's aftermath had become the latest front in the nation's political/cultural war. Bush critics are already undermining their own cause with overreaching, as they denounce the president as a racist for his alleged unconcern about the suffering of so many black people in New Orleans. But an administration whose FEMA director knew less about on-the-ground conditions in the stricken city this week than the average TV viewer has a real vulnerability.

It will only address that vulnerability with a performance in coming days and weeks that is more in keeping with the GOP's image as the "daddy party," the party of competence, the party that can be trusted in times of crisis. That is the main thing. But symbolism will matter too. No single step would go further to dramatize the GOP's commitment to rebuilding New Orleans than announcing now that the party's 2008 convention will be held in the recovering city. Such a move would signal the party's confidence in the Big Easy's renewal, and put it at the forefront of what should be similar commitments from private actors to do their part to help New Orleans come back. Collapse )

You've GOT to be fucking kidding me...