Ink & Paper

Saturday, September 10, 2005



Sigh.

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:20 AM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Thursday, September 08, 2005



AlterNet

A stunning poll from CNN and USA Today released last week asked voters: "If you could talk with President George W. Bush for 15 minutes about the situation in Iraq, what would you, personally, advise him to do?" Far and away, the answer was: Out now. Forty-one percent picked: "Pull the troops out and come home. End it." Others picked more subtle variations on the same theme: "Come up with and execute a well-thought-out exit strategy" (6 percent); "Join in and work with the United Nations" (3 percent); and "Admit to past mistakes. Apologize" (3 percent), making a total of 53 percent opposed to Bush's stubborn, stick-it-out policy. Only 18 percent picked "Finish what we started," with scattered support for other stay-the-course options.

John Warner, R.-Va., one of the Senate's old bulls is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and no neoconservative. As first order of business, Warned has announced plans to drag Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto the carpet for hearings on the mess in Iraq. Significantly, Warner warned that public opinion on Iraq is approaching the "tipping point," after which support for the war in Iraq would no longer be sustainable. "The level of concern is, I think, gradually rising," he told The New York Times. "I don't see that the Congress is going to suddenly pull back like in the days of Vietnam. It is the desire of the Congress to continue to work with and support the administration. But there is always a tipping point."

With the last shreds of Bush's credibility as president blown away by Katrina, expect momentum against the president to grow with each further U.S. casualty in Iraq and with piece of bad news about the faltering political process there.

It is, of course, still remarkable that so many Democratic politicians have yet to jump on the get-out-of-Iraq bandwagon that the public is driving down the highway. As former Sen. Gary Hart has noted, it is a sad commentary on the utter lack of conviction and sheer moral cowardice that has seized much of the Democratic Party.

My guess is that the Democrats are afraid to call for getting out of Iraq in case Iraq should magically stabilize or turn the corner sometime later this year or in 2006. Putting aside the fact that leaving Iraq is the right thing to do, it is far more likely that Iraq will get worse, moving closer to outright civil war, than it will get better.

There are a multitude of points this article beings forth. And it isn't like I need to sleep or anything.

First, I would hardly call this a "stunning" result. A donkey could have predicted the swing against bush regarding Iraq following the response to Katrina. This poll means nothing, as it is more of an indication of the frustration and knee-jerk reaction people have after having seen the bumbling "rescue" that the federal government implemented in the hurricane's aftermath. If you Ford breaks down and the day after you are asked to fill out a Ford survey, how are you going to respond? Exactly. Thus, be wary of when polls are conducted.

And even if Katrina never were to have hit, I think that public opinion would had indicated that the slim majority of Americans would have rather seen their troops coming home sooner rather than later, as the anti-war effort had surged in the months and weeks up to the impact of Katrina. Katrina merely increased the numbers of questioning Americans. Again, a near slam dunk poll, as bush & co. were already losing ground in the popularity contest.

Secondly, the idea of a
tipping point is long overdue and delayed more because of a lack of balls on Congress' part than by any lack of congressional understanding of the costs of the Iraq war. Having seen the aftermath of Katrina, and more specifically the lack of action at the federal level, could allow the backroom whispers of congressional discontent to finally band together to become a shout, a call to action. A tipping point may be coming, but I wonder if it silently had happened a while ago and was just biding its time.

Thirdly, lost in the din of the Katrina media orgy, is the fact that Iraq is about to slip into a bloody civil war. Remember that before Katrina, bush was talking a lot (between vacation naps) about the emerging draft constitution in Iraq, a piece of paper that was supposedly going to make everyone play nice. Uh, well
Juan Cole lays out the facts, as he always does.

A source in the Iraqi parliament said that further negotiations on the issue of the identity of Iraq (as an Arab state) had proved inconclusive, and that the draft would be printed and voted on as is. The Sunni Arabs had wanted an acknowledgment that Iraq is an Arab country, but the draft constitution says only that it forms part of the Muslim world and that its Arabs form part of the Arab world.

President Jalal Talabani and the head of the Kurdistan Confederacy, Massoud Barzani held a meeting on Sunday and rejected more explicitly than ever before any amendment of the constitution that would touch upon its provisions for federalism.

The Sunni minority doesn't want federalism, as they fear becoming the 'have-not' (read: oil) section of Iraq, sandwiched between the oil rich northern Kurd province and the oil-and-shipping rich south, dominated by the majority Shia. And after having seen the minority Sunnis in power for so long under Hussein, the other two groups aren't in a mood to give much ground when it comes to compromise. Hence, the sticking point on federalism, which thus further fuels the Sunni-led insurgency, thus paving the way for a full on civil war in Iraq.

Yep, I don't have a lot of faith in that little piece of draft constitution paper, and I think bush knows that all the sales and marketing in the world isn't going to help erase the emerging civil war, the rising body count, and lack of National Guard troops on the homefront.

Finally, I want to address the point the article made about the Democrats inability to clue into the groundswell of anti-war/dissatisfaction with the bush administration- feeling that is rippling throughout the US now. We saw, in the election of 2004, more arguing about Kerry's Vietnam record than we saw arguing about bush's Medicare plans. This, to me anyway, is the prime example of the near total lack of enigmatic and organized leadership that exists in the Democratic party.

Listen up Democrats. You have lost (arguably) two elections in a row. You have been relegated to the fat kid on the sidelines who whines to get into the game until he runs out of breath. It cannot get any worse for you.

Clue in. Get a goddamn newspaper and read it. Don't be such a wet noodle when it comes to standing up and hammering the Republicans. Can you really afford to play nice anymore? I mean, it hasn't done shit for you lately, so I think its time for a new approach. Get on the bandwagon before you get left in the dust. Hit the Republicans now and don't stop until 2008. This isn't a game of goddamn tiddilywinks.

I am reading rumours of a Hillary Clinton-
Barack Obama Democratic ticket for the 2008 election. Maybe, maybe not. Frankly, I think that Obama might be the golden boy the Dems need, but he may need more time to be considered a true contender. And Hillary, well, she is going to get painted all sorts of nasty colors by the Republican smear machine. So the Democrats can either lose another one and be relegated (again) to whining babies, or they can finally take advantage of all the opportunities the Republicans keep handing them and stir it up like a true opposition party.

All of this seems to be coalescing into one big run up for the 2008 election. All these little "tipping points" are coming together to form one huge tipping point, a point that will truly decide whether or not this weakened superpower can shrug off the grasps of right wing ideology or whether it is doomed for another one or more terms of neoconservative lies and misconceptions. The only question remains is which way the point will tip. And I'm not sure anyone truly knows.


Yet.

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Apple introduces the new iPod nano, 1GB goes for $200 Cdn and holds 500 songs, 2GB goes for $250 and holds 1000 songs.

I think I have Apple envy. Not that I'm in the market for a new computer, but down the road....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:02 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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It is a lonely road from New Orleans to nowhere.
Got some good Katrina from the loyal and informed Mr. T.
Mind-Numbingly Dumb Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath....
-"I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." –President George W. Bush.
-"Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." –MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
-"We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."
-"I actually think the security is pretty darn good. There's some really bad people out there that are causing some problems, and it seems to me that every time a bad person wants to scream or cause a problem, there's somebody there with a camera to stick it in their face." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, CNN interview.
-"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, arguing that the victims bear some responsibility, CNN interview.
-"Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded:
"I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?"
-"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina.
-"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi.
-"I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005
-"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.” –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005
-"You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." —CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005.
And a timeline, from Mr. T.
Friday, Aug. 26: Gov. Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency in Louisiana and requests troop assistance.
Saturday, Aug. 27: Gov. Blanco asks for federal state of emergency. A federal emergency is declared giving federal officials the authority to get involved.
Sunday, Aug. 28: Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. President Bush warned of Levee failure by National Hurricane Center. National Weather Service predicts area will be "uninhabitable" after Hurricane arrives. First reports of water toppling over the levee appear in local paper.
Monday, Aug. 29: Levee breaches and New Orleans begins to fill with water, Bush travels to Arizona and California to discuss Medicare. FEMA chief finally responds to federal emergency, dispatching employees but giving them two days to arrive on site.
Tuesday, Aug. 30: Mass looting reported, security shortage cited in New Orleans. Pentagon says that local authorities have adequate National Guard units to handle hurricane needs despite governor's earlier request. Bush returns to Crawford for final day of vacation. TV coverage is around-the-clock Hurricane news.
Wednesday, Aug. 31: Tens of thousands trapped in New Orleans including at Convention Center and Superdome in "medieval" conditions. President Bush finally returns to Washington to establish a task force to coordinate federal response. Local authorities run out of food and water supplies.
Thursday, Sept. 1: New Orleans descends into anarchy. New Orleans Mayor issues a "Desperate SOS" to federal government. Bush claims nobody predicted the breach of the levees despite multiple warnings and his earlier briefing.
Friday, Sept. 2: Karl Rove begins Bush administration campaign to blame state and local officialsdespite their repeated requests for help. Bush stages a photo-opdiverting Coast Guard helicopters and crew to act as backdrop for cameras. Levee repair work orchestrated for president's visit and White House press corps.
Saturday, Sept. 3: Bush blames state and local officials. Senior administration official (possibly Rove) caught in a lie claiming Gov. Blanco had not declared a state of emergency or asked for help.
Monday, Sept. 5: New Orleans officials begin to collect their dead.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 4:42 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005



In the vein of The Superficial...

Yahoo News

Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton will host Fox's "Skating With Celebrities," which will pair six personalities with six professional figure skaters.

"No doubt there will be plenty of falls, bruises and scary moments," Mike Darnell, Fox's executive vice president of alternative programming, said in a statement Tuesday.

"This competition will require our celebrity skaters to not only demonstrate rhythm, but also athleticism, grace and balance ... on ice, and before a team of unforgiving judges with both Olympic and world championship experience," Darnell said.

Dave Coulier, Bruce Jenner, Todd Bridges, Kristy Swanson, Deborah Gibson and Jillian Barberie with be paired with skating stars including Nancy Kerrigan, Tai Babilonia and Kurt Browning for the six-episode competition.

Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill will be among the judges.

Fox didn't announce when the show will premiere.

There is very little in this world that could be as painful as being forced to watch this show. Perhaps if I was kicked in the nuts by David Beckham while his wife, Posh Spice, sang Celion Dion duet covers with William Shatner all the while having Carrot Top tell me jokes while the cast from American Idol beats me with baseball bats covered in acid, vinegar, Kelly Clarkson, and nails. Perhaps that would be slightly more painful.

No, on second thought, it would be just fine in comparison.

The only redeeming quality of this show will be when some hapless contestant who has decided to waste their 15 minutes of fame, is tossed through the air only to land:

a) on their face
b) on their neck
c) on the plexiglass, which then shatters into their spleen
d) skate first into Nancy Kerrigan's knee, causing her to fall to the ice and scream "Why me? Why? Why?"

e) at the feet of Tie Domi, who proceeds to then beat them senseless with a limp and lifeless Martha Stewart.
f) skate first into the neck of the Fox executive who dreamt up this shit.

Reality TV is a dead and dying format. The only way I will ever watch any reality TV is when they start hunting humans, which is something we ought to see debut for the 2012 TV season.

You were laughing, but now you have stopped, as you realize perhaps I'm psychic. Oh, I am. I predict this blog will end.....now.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:13 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

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Yahoo News

The floodwaters that caused so much misery and death in New Orleans were being pumped back into Lake Pontchartrain and authorities braced for what the receding deluge would reveal. "It's going to wake the nation up again," Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday.

Still, he warned that what awaits authorities below the toxic muck would be gruesome. "It's going to be awful and it's going to wake the nation up again," Nagin said.


The mayor has said it wouldn't be "unreasonable" if the city's death toll reach 10,000.

Last night, as I was listening to my bedtime BBC news story on CKUA, I heard Nagin say this, and it kinda bounced around in my head for most of Wednesday.

It is amazing in a sick way to think that a mere week and a half after Katrina smashed into the southern US that perhaps people not directly affected by the tragedy have begun to 'doze off' during the news coverage of the hurricane relief effort.

I know the world is finally gearing up to deal with this enormous set of issues, but in our skewed little culture of instant gratification and drive through banking, this original news of the hurricane has already begun to drift off the front pages of newspapers. It is sad to think that we need another "hit", in this case the body count, in order to refocus people on the issues at hand.

But maybe I shouldn't be surprised. After all, we are a forgetful society, one that is willing to give our leaders, be they Canadian or American, chance after chance to stay in power, merely through our collective ability to forget the lies and misconceptions that we have swallowed over the past years.

This is a pretty well educated population though, so why the forgetfulness, the apathy? Is it because most of us are so busy running around trying to make ends meet while at the same time trying to keep up with the Jones' that we just don't have time to think about what our governments are truly doing? Is it because we have become so desensitized to the whole 'death on your TV screen' news entertainment programming that one catastrophe is merely a minor hit in our continuous search for the ultimate high? Why do we need to be re-awakened? Are we truly that shallow?

Or is Nagin wrong? To a certain extent, yes, he is wrong, as we are seeing massive donations and massive efforts getting under way in order to lessen the suffering, be it of human evacuees or of the
pets they were forced to leave behind. Some people are getting involved and that is proof to me that these volunteers do not need to be awakened again by a death toll.

But there are a lot of people in America. Almost 300 million. I wonder what the percentage is of those people who have merely changed the channel, more focused on the upcoming (and meaningless) NFL season or their favorite reality TV show. If there are people like this, and I am sure that there are, then is there any point to "re-awakening" them with a number of dead? Or is it just going to be another stat they largely ignore and eventually forget? Is long-term, genuine empathy dead?

I honestly can't think of any other analogy except that of a drug addict who, after coming down off a high, needs to find another fix. And if that fix cannot be provided by the addicts regular dealer or source, the addict will quickly turn to other means that will satisfy their need to chase the dragon. Is America a nation of catastrophe-addicted drug addicts?

Finally, Amnesty International released an interesting statement today. Read it
here. And don't doze off, you're smarter than that.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:22 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005



Yes. Yes, this will help immensely....
(via Tony Pierce)

Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
Federal officials are unapologetic.

"I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."

The firefighter, who has encouraged his superiors back home not to send any more volunteers for now, declined to give his name because FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters.

"There are all of these guys with all of this training and we're sending them out to hand out a phone number," an Oregon firefighter said. "They [the hurricane victims] are screaming for help and this day [of FEMA training] was a waste."

Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

I got nothing to say.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:02 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

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BBC

US President George W Bush says he will lead an investigation into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled.

"I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong," he said in reply to criticism that the authorities were too slow to respond.

How the different levels of government had reacted to Katrina would be examined, Mr Bush said, but he refused to "play the blame game" and said he wanted to focus on the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the storm.

Mr Bush's promise of an investigation falls well short of demands being made by his opponents for a full, independent inquiry, the BBC's Jonathan Beale reports from Washington.

America's top soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, has denied the military was slow to respond.

"Not only was there no delay, I think we... were pushing support before we were formally asked for it," he said.

Yesterday I put up a link to an article detailing how the bush administration was rolling out a political 'damage control' plan as criticism mounted about their response to the disaster in New Orleans. For those of you who didn't read it, and I know there are a few, the gist of it was that the blame would be shifted to local and state authorities as much as possible, a tactic that has worked remarkably well for bush & co.

And now bush is stating that he doesn't want to play the 'blame game', which is kinda like the Cookie Monster not wanting to eat cookies. In fact, bush's tactics extend yet again to the Karl Rove, tried-and-true method of "future talk."

Newsday

Bush continued to use the forward-looking turns of phrase that marked other speeches last week. "This is one of these disasters that will test our soul and test our spirit, but we're going to show the world once again that not only can we survive, but we will be stronger and better for it," Bush said.

Ah semantics, a beautifully twisted hobby that politicians love to partake in. Throw in a few Americana references like "be stronger and better" and soon the masses could be eating out of your hand.

By loading up on "future talk" bush is attempting to show that his administration does have (and always had, apparently) a plan for dealing with the aftermath of Katrina. Except that bush and his cohorts usually have no long range plans to speak of. See "Gulf War II, Post-Baghdad" for example 1A.

And now bush himself is heading up the investigation of what went wrong during the response to Katrina.

WHAM!!

What the deuce?!!? What the hell was that sound?

Oh that? That was just the sound of objectivity being thrown out the window.

Give me a break. The 9/11 Commission was supposedly independent and the final report had so many blackouts in it one could be mistaken for thinking it was a frat boy at the beer gardens. Don't tell me that an 'independent' investigation headed by the guy who was
playing guitar while people were drowning is going to be fair and balanced. What a joke.

And one final tidbit that I think speaks volumes about how the bush family relates to the average American who has been flushed out with nothing but the clothes on their backs. From Barbara "Momma" bush....

Almost everyone I've talked to says we're going to move to Houston. ... What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this is working very well for them.

You think I'm joking? Listen to the audio
here and shake your head at the absurdity of this world and the people who lead it. I mean, right on Barb, these people lived in shacks anyway, so this drafty sports stadium with its lineups for bathrooms and military cots must be like fucking heaven for them. You know, because they are "underprivileged" and all, they probably didn't lose much as they probably didn't have much to lose in the first place.

I hear ya Barb, when people got nothing to begin with it just makes it a hell of a lot easier to start over again. I'm sure that is what all the evacuees are thinking as they remember their dog or cat that they had to leave behind, their dead parents or kids, their lost jobs and homes, their lost photo albums and friends. Cause poor people, in this situation anyway, have it easy. Just think of what it would be like for
someone with money and power to have to start all over again. Oh the humanity!

GW bush: "The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Bitch. Dammit.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:48 PM ~~ 4 bonsai trees

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Monday, September 05, 2005



Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.

The rest of this important article is here.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 4:53 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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They never saw this coming.

CNN (ugh) reports

Defending the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued Saturday that government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.

Chertoff, fielding questions from reporters, said government officials did not expect both a powerful hurricane and a breach of levees that would flood the city of New Orleans.

Brown suggested FEMA -- part of the Department of Homeland Security -- was carrying out a prepared plan, rather than having to suddenly create a new one.

From
Wikipedia

FEMA coordinates the work of federal, state, and local agencies in responding to floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. FEMA provides financial assistance to individuals and governments to rebuild homes, businesses, and public facilities; trains firefighters and emergency medical professionals; and funds emergency planning throughout the United States and its territories.

FEMA is under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, and while FEMA has been around since 1979, I suspect that people are going to start asking some questions after watching the federal and state governments bumbling response to Katrina.

The
Department of Homeland Security was created primarily from a conglomeration of existing federal agencies in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The budget for the Dept. of Homeland Security for 2004 was a staggering $36.5 billion US.

Now, as other bloggers have pointed out, this hurricane was seen to be heading straight towards New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for at least 4 days before it hit. It glanced off of Florida,
killing 12 people there, before heading back out into the Gulf of Mexico to gain some more strength off of the blisteringly hot Gulf waters. It took the weekend to get up to a category 5 storm and barely weakened to a Category 4 storm before it slammed into the southern US on Monday morning.

Boring hey? You've heard most of this junk, in bits and pieces, since the beginning of last week. It is old news. Everyone with a TV pretty much knew that this hurricane was packing a wallop and was going to do some serious damage.

Well, almost everyone.

$36.5 billion dollars. All for a department that is, in part, designed to prevent (if possible) and respond to harmful attacks or situations that could damage the USA.

If I spent $36.5 billion dollars on something I would expect that it would work fairly well. The fact that this storm was public news for a few days before it actually hit, and yet the response has been akin to a donkey wetting its pants, indicates that perhaps all the bluster, tough-talk, and color-coded security warnings are nothing more than a glossy jacket on a pretty shitty novel.

Imagine the response to a nuclear bomb going off in a major US centre. I shudder to think what the quality of care would be if a truly unanticipated attack or catastrophe where to occur. The fact is that the Dept. of Homeland Security is kinda like parking your Mercedes in Compton and putting
the club on the steering wheel. To come back and find only the steering wheel remaining and then to have the gall to act surprised only shows how truly ignorant and ineffectual you truly are.

So I predict a few acidic questions will be thrown at the government once the water recedes and we acknowledge the death toll, which some have argued will be significantly higher due in large part to the inability of powers that be to get food and water to the trapped victims. And rightly so questions should be asked, the American public has been far to lenient with this Teflon administration.

The current effort by the Bush Administration to blame the victims in Louisiana and Mississippi is bad enough, but they are in big trouble once Americans take the time to understand that they the Administration ignored it's own plan for dealing with a threat like Katrina. Why did they fail to implement the plan until it was too late to save lives along the Gulf Coast? (
No Quarter)

And
Bob Schieffer, of the politically-charged Face the Nation TV show put it well...

Finally, a personal thought. We have come through what may have been one of the worst weeks in America's history, a week in which government at every level failed the people it was created to serve. There is no purpose for government except to improve the lives of its citizens. Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality.

And maybe, just maybe, the mainstream media is starting to wake up and do their job of critiquing the government, instead of being the cheerleaders they have been since 9/11.

In politics you must always keep running with the pack. The moment that you falter and they sense that you are injured, the rest will turn on you like wolves.
R. A. Butler British (Indian-born) politician (1902 - 1982)

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:31 AM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Sunday, September 04, 2005




Labor Day is an important day. Not because of football, a day off of work, or stat pay. No, Labor Day is an important day because Labor Day happens to fall on Dog Monday's birthday.

Now I don't really know how old Monday is. When I got her in Kuwait, the vet estimated her to be about 1 year old and since it was the beginning of September, I decided that Labor Day, even though it has a different calendar day every year, would officially become Monday's birthday.

Thus, my beloved Dog Monday, the happy-go-lucky cat-hater turns 2 years old this Labor Day. This of course makes her 14 in dog years, so she has all the typical "I listen when I choose to" attitude you would expect from someone with a learner's permit. But nonetheless, she is by and large a good dog, remarkably good natured and always looking for just one more pat.

A lucky dog too. Having been left outside of one of the few veterinarian hospitals in Kuwait, right near a busy highway in 40 degree heat, she patiently waited until they opened for the day, whereupon she was taken in. There she waited for an uncertain future, surrounded by noise and smell, until a lonely Canadian picked her out and eventually brought her to Canada, somehow managing to get through all the bureaucracy and red tape that accompanies international pet travel.

And soon, a yard all to her own, a mere 10 minute walk from a huge off leash park, where all sorts of dogs pee and play. And perhaps maybe a dog friend to play with down the road, we'll see.

So Happy Birthday, Dog Monday. We all love ya. Good dog!



A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:21 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out

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Okay, it looks like people are jumping on the blogging bus, as two of my good friends have started up their own blogs. I suggest (read: order) you visit their sites, leave some comments, and revisit them on a regular basis.

Al's blog. Lord only knows where this blog will go, but I'm betting on a few spelling mistakes and angry rants about 18-year-olds along the way. Visit it!

Jan's blog. Straight outta the heart of Denton, Texas, this blog promises to be a nice little set of Canadian insights into the, um, uniqueness of Texas. Example one is that apparently, if you ask the electrician hooking up your power, Canada is part of the USA. I wish I was making this up.

And please click on the link on the post below, the Matt Good & Tony Pierce podcast about Hurricane Katrina. A must listen, you will end up smarter. (About 50 minutes or so)

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 4:49 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out

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For a good analysis of Kayne West's comments, the leadership of the USA in this time of chaos, and a general overall good conversation about the effects of Katrina on New Orleans, you should listen to this podcast of a phone conversation between Matthew Good and Tony Pierce.

Brilliant.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 4:37 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out

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