Friday, September 30, 2005

You will be assilimated...

Someday soon they will have to admit there's a full blown civil war going on in Iraq. The big brass are pushing the party line of increased violence over the constitution but ominously add the document wasn't exactly what we had hoped for. Apparently it falls so far short of expectations they're now predicting troop cuts will not be possible in the foreseeable future.
"In a world where evil is still very real, democratic principles must be backed with power in all its forms," Rice said. "Any champion of democracy who promotes principle without power can make no real difference in the lives of oppressed people."

Yeah, tell it to Ghandi. I think what she really meant to say was, "We have no principles so we're going to use all our firepower to oppress these people into compliance with our plan."

...resistance is futile.
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Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

Say goodbye to biodiversity. The House GOPers have succeeding in decimating the Endangered Species Act in a what passes for a relatively close vote these days in Congress.
The bill would require the government to compensate property owners if measures to protect species thwart development plans. It would also give political appointees the power to make some scientific determinations and stop "critical habitat" designations, which limit development.
In other words, crony capitalists will no longer have to give up obscene profits from overdevelopment projects in order to protect our natural resources. Rather ironic that the party that trumpets personal responsibility when it comes to entitlement programs doesn't think its big funders should have to take any for their bad choices.
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Tottering Iraqi security forces losing ground

Man, if we have to wait for the Iraqis to stand up, before we stand down, it's going to be a long wait. Our great, great grandchildren might see it as this rate.

Top US generals are revising their less than rosy estimates in July of three battalions of Iraqi security forces being ready to rock and roll for themselves, down to a possibly more realistic assessment that only one battalion is capable of doing its job. One suspects that could even be purely optimistic, but even if it's true, a battalion is about 1,000 soldiers. We have about 150,000 troops there. So if it takes two years to train one battalion -- well -- you do the math.

One wonders why the other two battalions are no longer ready for action but one thing is clear. As long as we're there doing all the heavy lifting, they have no incentive to fend for themselves.
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Is DeLay done?

Even his own party faithful can't agree. Some say his reign has ended, some say you can't write off The Hammer until the last nail is pounded into his coffin by the Justice system.

Me, I think the party's over for The Exterminator. He's become too emblematic of the culture of corruption, now becoming increasing apparent to a public finally awakening from its almost comatose ennui, since the GOP's grand plan is finally hitting them in the pocketbook. By the time the rising homeowner, health insurance and winter heating bills are paid off, the GOP will be lucky to get elected as dog catchers in 06.

Of course that's assuming our opposition party Dems manage to remember the meaning of the word and actually start opposing bad policy instead of pretending it's good policy that has simply been mismanaged.
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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Making his own reality

You have to love this. Bush warns us to expect a lot of violence in Iraq in the next 75 days. As opposed to what - the last two years? Or did he just finally start reading the news?

It's frightening how out of touch he is with reality. He just keeps repeating the propaganda as if he really believes that if he repeats it enough times, it will actually come true.
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Judy's back in town

So what does it all mean? Judy's been sprung and the NYT already tattled that her source was Scooter. Like we didn't already figure that out months ago? She sat three months in jail for this? Anyway, didn't he already release her before she went into the slammer?

I note the careful wording of her statement, stressing the receipt of a voluntary and uncoerced release, as if to imply she was doing something noble, but it all feels contrived to me. It makes me nervous. Maybe I've just been burned so many times I'm afraid to get my hopes up but it smells like a fix.

It's almost too easy you know. Frist and DeLay going down in the same week, Abramhoff already all but gone, and now Judy is going to break open the Traitorgate? It smacks of Rovian shock and awe. If Rove gets off clean, I'm going to be really pissed.

On the other hand, if I'm just being paranoid and Rove gets swept up with the rest of the rats, this could really be the end of the unholy Trinity of Rove, Bush and Cheney and their regime of terror. The horror story would be over and we could all live happily ever after. Wouldn't that be great?

Update: Digby has some thoughts that ease my fears.
She has no idea what he knows. She would be an idiot to lie.

One other thing to keep in mind. For those of us who are looking for him to broaden the scope of this investigation and look into a larger set of issues surrounding the Iraq lies, if Fitzgerald hands down indictments it is only a first step. Indictments tend to focus the mind, I would think. Perhaps some people will have more to say when they are faced with serious legal trouble.

And it would certainly explain the dismal political performance of the white house lately if high level advisors have been too busy negotiating plea bargains for themselves to keep a close eye on Junior.
The Heretik has the headline of the day and also voices my greatest fear.
Is Libby falling on his sword, so the investigation stops with him?
I've been predicting that from the beginning. It strikes me as the only way out for the unholy three.
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Dems need more mo'

BuzzFlash has one of the best editorials I've seen on what's ailing the Democratic party. It takes us back to 60s and the civil rights movement, making an eye-opening stop in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Not much has changed there in the last 40 years.

Read it all but here's my favorite quotes.
For Democrats, it was a tense, but proud period. They had the law, the Constitution, and righteousness on their side. The hymn, "We Shall Overcome," became the rallying song for a generation that was motivated by the notion that America's greatness resided in the legal and equal rights it bestowed on all its citizens, not just the self-appointed few.

Maybe the Democrats are like the Jews who wandered for 40 years in the desert with Moses before arriving at the Promised Land. Maybe, someday, the Democratic leadership will re-find their passion and their conviction.

Democracy is the greatest experiment in government, a gift to all who are privileged to be Americans, and it faces a dire threat.

If this does not provoke passion, what will?
Really. How long do they think the progressives will wait for them to find some?
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Drier dumped for homosexuality

Funny. I blogged this today and Steve Clemmons blogged this on the theory that Drier was replaced at the last minute because his homosexuality is too well known. Steve makes the better point.
Dreier was blocked because he has a long-term, loving relationship with someone of the same sex. This has been documented on many fronts and is widely known by members of Dreier's own caucus. If the reality of this blocked Dreier's ascension, then the news has a duty not to keep this matter hidden.

I'm pleased by Tom DeLay's fall from grace. But I'm irritated by the main stream media's complicity in hiding the bigotry that runs unchecked through a significant quarter of the Republican party.
I'm irritated too but I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to do something about it.

[via Atrios]
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Shading ethics at RedState

Michael Krempasky of, "hobbyist" blogger turned corporate shill for WalMart, replies to my commentary on this post. He snidely offers as proof of his full disclosure, the "about page" of his own blog. Who knew he even had one of his own? His notoriety comes from RedState.

To be fair, I did a more thorough check of RedState this morning and found nothing to indicate he disclosed his new "day job" to his readers there. This is a group blog and in order to even find out who he is, you have to click around and check the Directors button. Here's what it says about him.
Mike Krempasky is from Pennsylvania, and would almost accept a Kerry presidency in return for a couple Steelers Super Bowl victories.

He's worked in grassroots politics in a number of roles, from leading a national pro-life organization and training conservative activists all across the country, to raising money for Republican candidates and conservative causes.

He doesn't like the French.
So in order to find his disclosure, you have to know he has his own blog, find the bloody thing since the only mention seems to be under the profile you get if you click on his name, on his posts at RedState. Then you have to find the about button, which isn't even a button, just a word tucked under the header, or you can scroll all the way down and find it tucked into the footer. So do you know anyone who goes through all that trouble every time they read a post? Me neither.

If you do make it through all that work, he does indeed disclose that he's taken a job with the mega-PR firm Edelman. He doesn't even mention WalMart by name but he gives them a plug in the disclosure for their "tremendous" response to Katrina.

Not to denigrate their help but come on. WalMart is multi-billion dollar company that donated $17 million worth of water to the effort. It's the equivalent of somebody like me giving a couple of bucks to the Red Cross and I would bet money they're paying Edelman more than 17 mil for the contract. The donation cost them less than a national ad buy.

Meanwhile, Krempasky allows that he is likely to be shilling for other mega-corps whom he will not be able to disclose, but the public shouldn't be worried because his cohorts at RedState, (whose stated mission is to help Republicans take over the world) will know who they are and will watchdog his posts accordingly. Yeah, you're a real upfront, full disclosure hero Mike.

Don't get me wrong, I got nothing against the guy personally, everyone has right to grind their own political axe or shill for GOP crony capitalists if they want to, but let's not pretend this "disclosure" is an honest attempt to inform the RedState readers of his potential conflict of interest. It simply isn't.
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GOP punts with Blunt

I was going to blog about the 11th hour replacement of heir apparent David Drier in favor of Roy Blunt to replace the disgraced Tom DeLay, but Kevin Hayden beat me to it and took the words right out of my mouth.

Kevin is right of course. "It's the cronyism stupid" and it speaks volumes about the disgraceful state of our political system that incestuous ties to K Street are a plus when one is reaching for GOP power. As to Drier's having been shot down for being too moderate, one has to wonder if the buzz about his covert sexual orientation, that almost immediately started to circulate on the internet, wasn't the real reason.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nothing intelligent about Intelligent Design

I'm joining the Greek chorus on this post. Bill Quick plucks the money quote on ID from Roger Simon today.
To be clear. I have no objection to crèches at the mall, the Ten Commandments in court rooms, "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, etc., etc. Although I support separation of church and state, I'm happy to respect everyone's beliefs and I'm not particularly scared of this country turning into a theocracy. But the science classroom is for science. Students in Dover, Pennsylvania and other rural areas are just as entitled to a real education as those in Los Angeles and New York. In fact the country needs them to have it, especially in science and math. And in the case of public education, it is not in our interest to waste precious taxpayer dollars teaching mythology in biology.
Amen. That pretty much articulates my thoughts except I may be a little more worried about theocracy than Roger is.
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Save the vote

A brilliant idea to solve election fraud. Big Dave from the comment section.
The solution is simple. WE need a law or Constitutional amendment that says the following: “Every person aged 18 or over not currently in jail on a felony conviction shall automatically be registered to vote as an non party independent unless such person independently changes his or her party affiliation.”

b. Each voter shall be informed by a government mailing no more than 60 but no less than 30 days before each yearly general election of his or her voting place.

c. All voting shall be done by paper ballot or machines with a paper trail. It shall be a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison to use a non paper trail electronic voting screen.

d. It will be a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to deliberately disseminate inaccurate information about the eligibility requirements or location of a person’s voting place.

e. Congress shall have the power to take all necessary steps to properly enforce each subsection.
I think it could work.
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Crooks and losers

DeLay goes down. Will Frist be next to go?

How Bush and the GOP stole the 04 election or why we need paper ballots.

Why Kerry shouldn't even think about running again.

Somehow it feels so wholly appropriate that the GOP controlled Senate apparently has to hold a hearing to discuss the role of science in environmental policy making, (shouldn't that be a given?), and then invited a science fiction author to speak on the subject.

Once a liar, always a liar. Heckuva Job Brownie commits perjury at hearing.

Defrauding the public with no bid contracts.
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About DeLay's successor

Michelle Malkin leaps in with this.
Left-wingers have already launched a disgusting and cowardly smear attack on Dreier.
Sorry Shelley but hypocrisy is -- um, how did Rove put it -- fair game, especially for the heir apparent to a leadership post in the party.
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You say it's birthday

Head over to the essential Talk Left and say Happy Birthday to Jeralyn. It's her birthday - not the blog's.
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"Citizen journalist" turns corporate shill

You have to be a subscriber to read this story so I'm just reprinting the blurb from PR Watch.
PR giant Edelman has hired blogger Michael Krempasky "for his ability to connect with conservative audiences," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "Krempasky, on his site, refers to the Edelman gig as his 'day job' versus his blogging hobby.

His first mission is to play up Wal-Mart Stores' contribution to Hurricane Katrina. The world's largest retailer, which had over $282 billion in sales last year, has donated a total of $17 million for hurricane relief and is opening up "mini Wal-Marts" in effected areas to distribute food, diapers, clothing, water and other items to those in need.

According to Edelman, Krempasky's hire demonstrates the firm's "leading role in trying to harness the power of the blogosphere for its clients."
I don't see any big disclaimers on his site. So much for the ethics of the right-wingnut Blogtopians.
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War and peace

This stuff drives me crazy. The war bloggers have come up with this new logo and new smear meme for the left. Pro-victory my lily white butt. They're not pro-victory, they're anti-peace. The logo would make more sense if they used a plane flying over a flag-draped coffin, not that most of this crowd would ever take a chance on coming home in one. War is good, but it's for other people to risk their lives in. But what's a little collateral damage as long as they can claim to be tough and not have to admit they're wrong?

For the life of me I can't understand why Don Surber is on this bandwagon. He's a smart guy and I really like his work and I'm not just saying that because he's the only conservative with the balls to blogroll me. [Which I appreciate btw. Thanks Don. I'll make a Libbytarian out of you yet.]

Nonetheless, I couldn't let this post pass unremarked. I'm in a little debate in the comments section there.

Don's fed up with the "anti-American antiwar movement." Why is it these folks call the exercise of our constitutional right to dissent anti-American? Wouldn't that title be more appropriate for bloggers who seek to silence their fellow citizens, in what they keep telling us is still a "free" country, just because we disagree with them?

And I'm really sick of the anti-peace crowd painting the hundreds of thousands of pro-peace marchers as fringe lunatics because ANSWER had a hand in organizing the march. We don't blame them for Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, or call every conservative a dumb dittohead just because they share some goals, so I think it's time they stopped blaming us for anti-war radicals.

Really it shows the weakness of their position when they can only refute ours by zeroing in on people and personalities rather than policy. Their myopia is astounding. They tear into the speeches made at the pro-peace rally for garbled messaging but fail to note that the 400 or so that attended the pro-Bush, anti-peace rally overwhelming spent their time bashing Cindy Sheehan instead of speechifying on why the war is so damn good for us. Could it be they have nothing positive to offer?

And you have to wonder how 400 lost souls with nothing of substance to say can claim to be the silent majority. Or maybe they can. The silence of their imaginary supporters is deafening.
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Tom DeLay indicted in Texas

Oh happy day!! There is a God. Just announced on FoxNews. DeLay had just been indicted for campaign fraud. No links yet.

Update: The news is hitting the internet newswire. First in is from ABC News.
WASHINGTON Sep 28, 2005 — A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that likely will force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

GOP congressional officials said the plan was for DeLay to temporarily relinquish his leadership post and Speaker Dennis Hastert will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties.
I'm listening to the talking heads on Fox as I post this. They're already spinning it as a partisan move by prosector Ronnie Earl. However, as someone notes, Earl been prosecuting elected leaders for years (only in Texas could that be a full-time job)and has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans.

The WaPo weighs in and gives us this quote.
The White House, meanwhile, called DeLay a "good ally," and said President Bush still considered DeLay a friend and effective leader in Congress.
No surprise there. Bush leaves no loyal liars behind - ever.

Update: Talk Left has much more.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Every picture tells a story

Here's a friendly face you might recognize from Sunday's pro-Bush anti-peace rally along with a great punch line.
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Laura Bush to the rescue

More news on Laura Bush's impending appearance on the "reality show" Extreme Makeover.
Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.

...the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.
I don't know what scares me more about this. That the White House called the show and asked to be booked on it, or that the show won't air until sometime in November. That suggests to me that they expect the reconstruction to still be floundering over a month from now and they'll need the PR for Bush's approval ratings.
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Let he who holds the blame, hurl stones

In today's bizarre chapter of the "Heck of a Job" Brownie Story," he testily testified before the GOP dominated "inquistion" into their own incompetence, otherwise known as the House Select Hurricane Katrina Committee hearings.

He laid the blame on Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco and said he was sorry he didn't hold more press briefings. I'm sure that would have been a great comfort to the abandoned victims of Katrina while they were waiting for him to notice they needed water.

As might be expected, he endured quite a grilling from LA Rep. William Jefferson, one of the few Dems that participated in the questioning, but he's not finding this an easy crowd on either side of the fence.
Under questioning from Congressman Chris Shays, R-Conn., Mr. Brown just expressed his outrage that he is being "berated" for "not being Rudolph Giuliani."
Meanwhile, The Democratic Daily discovers the cable news have taken a bit of macabre dig at Brown. They are showing the hearings using a split screen.
In one box (typically the smaller of the two) are the members of Congress and Mr. Brown… and in the other, a kind of “greatest hits” reel of the worst of the damage and the human depravity in New Orleans early on in the crisis.
Might make it worth suffering through the TV infotainment shows for a while to see that.
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All probes lead to Rove

Josh Marshall has a link to a story in tomorrow's NYT that lends some credibility to my theory that Abramoff is being offered up as a sacrificial lamb by Rove.

Looking at the facts of this odd story about how Jack the Golf Tripper dodged the bullet in 2002, one might infer he enjoyed a protected status then. The investigation of the lobbyist's activities in Guam was immediately quashed.
...days after federal prosecutor Frederick A. Black notified the Justice Department's Public Integrity section of his inquiry into Abramoff, he was demoted. And his new bosses barred him from pursuing any other public corruption cases.
The trail leads back to John Ashcroft and Josh connects the dots all the way to Karl Rove.

Maybe it's all just a curious coincidence but Karl has long history of taking down political opponents. How much easier could it be to take down a former ally?
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Republicans whisper sweet nothings on spending

Republican leaders confronted with an angry conservative base that no longer identifies with the new spendthrift GOP are going to do what they do best - launch a PR campaign. They're going to make the rounds of the right-wing friendly "news" shows to explain what they might do if only those (minority party) Dems would stop obstructing their grand vision and forcing them to throw money at politically sensitive districts. The money quote on this already goes to Tom DeLay from a recent op-ed he penned.
"It is clear that the recent political discussion focusing on the government's spending priorities and overall economic platform in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita has introduced a valuable forum to promote the triumph of our ideas and solutions for government over the crumbling and outdated policies of the Democrat-controlled Congresses of past decades," he wrote.
Right. I guess that would be the triumphant war without end, the solution of deficit spending, an economy that rests on a house of cards with China holding the deck and the crumbling Dem policies that lifted thousands of Americans out of poverty and left Bush with a surplus in the national treasury to squander.

Not to worry though. It will just be the usual empty rhetoric. The GOPers aren't actually going to do anything about policy. Your favorite pork barrel project is as safe as the day it was earmarked.
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Economic threat is the ultimate IED

The Mid America Progressive checks into comments and points us to this excellent op-ed by economist Paul Craig Roberts. He sees the winners and losers of our Middle East policy.
The Iraqi war has three beneficiaries: (1) al Qaeda, (2) Iran and (3) US war industries and Bush-Cheney cronies who receive no-bid contracts.
AQ gets prestige, Iran gains allies and the crony capitialists line their coffers with our tax dollars. The GOP loses touch with its base, the Dems lose their relevance and the US loses it's standing as a superpower. But that's not the worst of it. Roberts sees the real danger to US security and it's not in Iraq.
The budget deficit is being financed by foreigners, primarily Asians who now hold enough US government debt to exercise power over US interest rates and the value of the dollar whenever they decide to use the power that Bush has placed in their hands.

The trade deficit is being financed by turning over the ownership of US assets and future income streams to foreigners, making Americans forever poorer from the loss of accumulated wealth.
For the time being, it fits China's plan of taking over our economic capabilities to continue to support our dollar, but once they have fulfilled their interests, they will no longer do so and we may never recover from the results. As Roberts says,
When the dollar goes, it will affect costs, profits, interest rates and living standards in dramatic ways. Costs and interest rates will soar, and profits, living standards, equity values, bond prices and real estate will plummet.

Global labor arbitrage is rapidly dismantling the ladders of upward mobility and thereby endangering American political stability. This threat is far greater than any Osama bin Laden can mount.
As Roberts notes, we need an intelligent government to address these dangers before it's too late. Unfortunately we don't have one. Thanks to electronic voting machines and unverified voting, what we got was a bunch of thugs and ideologues.

I hear Bill Maher has been calling for a nationwide recall vote. I think he may be right but this time let's insist on a paper ballot.
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Monday, September 26, 2005

Bush base cracks at its core

PM Carpenter finds words of hope from of all people, Robert Novak?
Novak had attended an Aspen, Colorado political forum staged annually by Republican financial angel Theodore J. Forstmann of the prominent New York buyout firm, Forstmann Little & Co. Gathered were more than 200 “mostly prestigious” types, and guess what? “For two full days,” reported Novak, “George W. Bush was bashed.

...Even the sole beneficiaries of Bush’s plutocratic quagmire are sinking into the realization that although wealth may not trickle down, incompetence does - and that is no way to run a railroad. Ultimately the entire social infrastructure will crash and derail even their own, self-satisfied agenda.
Bush bashed by his people, the haves and the have mores. This can only be a good sign.
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Assorted bytes

Time magazine takes a long hard look at how Bush's crony appointments are pushing the White House agenda and endangering our national security.

How many bullets does it take to kill one Iraqi "insurgent?" Apparently, 250,000.

More photos of Saturday's peace march. Interviews and photos of the marchers from

Jason Miller describes his experience at the peace march and also outlines the framework for a Velvet Revolution whereby "we the people" can take back our government.

The GOP dominated Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up the Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005 this week - a transparent attempt to eviscerate the role of the federal courts in ensuring equal justice.

Wasn't the fed response to Rita supposed to be better? FEMA still withholding relief supplies - in Texas.

Meanwhile, they're draining your tax dollars onGulf state reconstruction contracts.

And this just in from the White House: First lady Laura Bush will be participating in the filming of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" tomorrow morning in Biloxi, Miss.
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Welcome to the US police state

Even in its response to Hurricane Rita, you can already see the government taking on a new level of authority over private citizens' freedom of movement. I can't remember any other natural disaster where Americans were prevented from freely checking their own property, yet the edicts for forced evacuations and refused entry into affected areas are suddenly flowing like water over the levees of New Orleans.

Now Bush wants Congress to authorize the unleashing of his jackbooted storm troopers at a moment's notice.
Bush said Congress would have to consider under what circumstance the Department of Defense should become the lead agency in coordinating and responding to a disaster.

"Clearly, in the case of a terrorist attack, that would be the case. But is there a natural disaster ... of a certain size that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort? That's going to be a very important consideration for Congress to think about," Bush said.

McClellan said Bush's goal was to make sure "there's a very clear line of authority" in the event of another major catastrophe, whether it is another storm like Katrina or an avian flu outbreak.
A word to our legislators. Just say no.
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Down and dirty politics

I almost forgot when I posted this, that Jack Abramoff's dirty handprints are all over the president's nominee for US Deputy AG - Timothy Flanigan. Talking Points Memo reminds us and Josh Marshall deciphers the real deal behind Abramoff's sleaze machine.
On paper, Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist. And he made a great deal of money for himself. But if you think of Jack Abramoff as just a crooked lobbyist most of the facts coming out about what he did don't make a great deal of sense. He was a key player in a very big political machine and he was managing a slush fund.

Look at the pattern.

Notice how all Abramoff's clients seemed to get 'bilked' out of large sums of money that ended up going to other conservative foundations, consulting firms, Ralph Reed, lobby shops, Grover Norquist, astroturf organizers, politicians, etc.? All of them part of Washington's Republican infrastructure?
Bush of course has expressed the greatest of confidence in Flanigan and will continue to uphold his rogue's gallery of crony appointments right up until they slam the jailhouse doors on them.
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300,000 marchers in front of the White House a mirage?

I see the right wing noise machine is in overdrive attempting to belittle Saturday's peace march in DC. They're saying no one showed up to the march and and worked hard to find the most unflattering photos possible.

Before you take them at their word you might want to check out the coverage at AfterDowningStreet. They have links to loads of photos from several sources. I think the Brad Blog best captured the size of the crowd and he also has video, but all the other sites are worth looking at as well. The photos on these sites were taken by regular people who were there to chronicle the event, rather than the rabid partisans who were only there to find ways to discredit constitutionally allowed dissent.
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Mitt mashes Mass in Michigan

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has clearly seen the writing on the wall. His election was an aberation and his re-election chances are zippo. This could explain his lame comedy routines as he goes out to float his trial balloon for a presidential nomination in 08, courting Republicans with a wannabe Rodney Dangerfield impersonation.

Even though I thought the Mass Dem machine deserved their comeuppance for having manipulated the primaries to put the worst choice, their crony candidate Shannon O'Brien up against him; not having had to endure Romney's vainglorious administration is one of the few reasons I'm glad I left the Commonwealth when I did.
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Greenspan says budget deficit out of control

This is not good.
WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told France's Finance Minister Thierry Breton the United States has "lost control" of its budget deficit, the French minister said on Saturday.

..."The United States has lost control of their budget at a time when racking up deficits has been authorized without any control (from Congress)," Breton said. "We were both disappointed that the management of debt is not a political priority today," he added.
The G7 agree the rising imbalances in international trade and investment accounts are related to the US budget deficit and that action needs to be taken to ease these imbalances. The White House offers lip service to halving the deficit by 2009 but so far has offered no concrete plan to do so. One suspects more tax cuts for the rich and frenzied patronage spending on Gulf coast reconctruction will not do it, even if they acheive their heart's desire and completely eliminate all "entitlement programs."

One wonders if Greenspan's upcoming departure as Chair of the Federal Reserve has anything to do with the White House's refusal to take the deficit seriously. Or is he being forced out for bearing bad news to our Peerless Misleader? It's not exactly a secret that Bush doesn't brook any dissent in his ranks, even when it's fact-based - actually especially when it's fact-based.
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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Abramoff investigation set to hook more GOP

I'm wondering why all of sudden the Fed's are getting so effective in the Abramoff ethics investigation. I'm smelling some serious fishing going on here. First they get the small fry like David Safavian and now MSNBC floats Ohio Rep. Robert Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee as a potential haul in the net. They even mentioned Tom "The Exterminator" DeLay himself, if not as a suspect, at least in context with the players.

Meanwhile Rove is conspiciously missing from the news stream. As I recall he was pretty cozy in that league of rogues. Not to mention we're pushing on to Fitzgerald's deadline, so why no news on the Plame investigation? I'm sensing a connection between the two and I'm wondering how many bridges Karl is willing to burn to keep the smokescreen going.

No honor among these thieves. They train for power by pulling dirty tricks on each other.
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Proud of our soldiers, ashamed of the war

I kept the TV on for most of the day yesterday, switching from station to station and never saw one second of coverage of yesterday's peace march in DC. However, a search on Google News this morning turns up 791 stories from around the world. The WaPo estimates 300,000 marched in yesterday's event including first time demonstrator Steven Olsen, 57, whose son, "an Army Reserve sergeant was sent to Iraq after enrolling in medical school," and whose sign inspired the title of this post.

Thousands more peace marchers were delayed by mysterious Amtrak shutdowns and didn't arrive in time to join. And while much has been made about the event's organizers and their motives, only the hardest core Bush apologists could deny that the crowd represented a real cross-section of main stream America.

Meanwhile a handful of war supporters harangued the marching masses and there is pro-war demonstration slated for this afternoon that hopes to garner a thousand or so attendees. Tellingly, I saw better write-ups of the tiny pro-Bush group than I saw of the hundreds of thousands of dissenters, but no amount of spin can make the alleged Bush mandate anything more than a mockery at this point.

Clearly, the Bush apologists' endlessly echoed smears and the MSM's failure to acknowledge the event failed to marginalize the message. Americans want accountability, we want responsible leaders with a transparent government and most of all we want peace and we want it now.
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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Peace marchers delayed by Amtrak outage

Talk Left put me onto this updated story at the WaPo on the peace march today.

Thousands of anti-war protesters en route to D.C. from major Northeast cities were delayed for hours due to an Amtrak power failure.
In a hitch for some coming to the protest, 13 Amtrak trains running between New York and Washington were delayed for up to three hours Saturday morning for repair of overhead electrical lines. Protest organizers said that held up thousands coming to the rally.
Organizers delayed the start of the march, originally planned to begin at 12:30 p.m., to wait for protesters arriving on the Amtrak trains. There were other reports of Metro delays in northern Virginia on the Blue and Yellow lines.
Sure is a hell of a coincidence.
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Mad blogs and Englishwomen

Avedon has the links today. First is Lorraine's open letter to the party power brokers, Dear Dems. Avedon is right in thinking every single progressive Dem should be printing this out and sending it to their legislators. She also reminded me to check Mad Kane who has posted some short podcast interviews with bloggers you'll recognize. I finally figured out how to access these myself and was able at last to listen to Mad's dulcet tones.

In another post, Avedon links to Digby for an an explanation on how welfare became a code word for lazy black folks. Avedon adds her own thoughts, well worth reading in full, but here's the money quote.
Digby is right that we need to remember how much of a role racism has played in keeping all of us from having the same sensible programs that other countries have long ago learned are necessary to a stable and prosperous society. And we need not to forget that. But we also need to remind people that taking care of our people isn't about taking care of 'just' blacks - it's about taking care of blacks too, because it's about everyone.
How true. I've been posting on the subject of poverty myself at the Detroit News and also on the repeal of the estate tax a/k/a welfare for the rich. Surprising hate mail on those. How do people get fooled into believing the repeal is some kind of boon for the middle class?
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Christian "values"

This is not only irritating but also stupid.

ONTARIO, Calif. -- A 14-year-old student was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter.

..."Your family does not meet the policies of admission," Superintendent Leonard Stob wrote to Tina Clark, the girl's biological mother.

Stob wrote that school policy requires that at least one parent may not engage in practices "immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian life-style, such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship," the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
So does that mean if a father is a convicted pedophile, it's okay for his kid to attend this school as long the mother goes to church to pray for his redemption?

I wonder if this school gets any public funding? Not that it would matter to an administration that just legalized religious discrimination in hiring for Head Start centers.
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US troops trade gore for porn

This is a story you won't see in the MSM.
For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.
The soldiers send in their photos with cruel and gloating captions and in return get to see "amateur porn footage and photographs bearing titles such as 'wife working cock' and 'ass fucking my wife on the stairs,'" for free.

Wilson's website,, earlier enjoyed much media attention for posting pictures of nude US female soldiers. So far nobody in the US press outside of the East Bay Express has picked up on this aspect of his site.

The White House has not responded to requests for comment. Maybe they should have called Al Gonzales. I hear he's declared a war on consensual adult porn.
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When pro-war proponents attack fellow Americans

Well you know the "send other people's children to die in a misbegotten war" crowd are getting nervous when Glenn Reynolds momentarily breaks out of his usual monosyllabic grunts of approval to other's irrational rants in order to pen a whole paragraph of his own words in an attempt to discredit the majority of Americans who dissapprove of the handling of the Iraq occupation.
SPINNING THE PROTESTS: I recommend that readers google the names of people mentioned in the press accounts of this weekend's antiwar protests. I looked up Brian Becker, who's mentioned in this Washington Post story by Petula Dvorak. To be fair, Dvorak at least mentions the ANSWER connection, but a quick Google search of Becker's name finds that he's been praising the "Iraqi resistance" and denigrating U.S. troops since the beginning. It would appear that he's not so much "antiwar" as just on the other side.
One could probably google the pro-war protestors and find worse instances of some of its members acting against the best interests of our country, but using such case specific information as a broad brush to paint the intentions and beliefs of a majority of Americans is just deceitful. Pure PNAC propaganda tactics.

Glenn and the rest of the sneering White House apologists might do well to read Dan Froomkin at the WaPo today who asks, how can you marginalize a majority? As Dan notes, "fewer than one in three Americans support Bush's handling of the war." Word to the wise; unless you're Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly, chances are some of those folks are your readers.

But please, keep denigrating their concerns and their constitutional right to dissent. Maybe they'll become your former readers and start reading me instead.
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News bytes

I have to agree, the NYT putting their columnists behind a paywall is a stupid idea that will diminish their on-line influence.

The Saudi government says the constitutional elections in Iraq won't do a blessed thing to prevent the budding civil war in Iraq from erupting into a major conflageration. Not that Bush will listen to them anymore than he did prior to the invasion, nor did he heed their urgent warnings about our misguided policy decisions ever since.

The WaPo has the story on Bush's missing swagger that ran off the minute his approval ratings tanked into the toilet. Scrappleface has the Amber Alert. There's an ugly rumor the Dems may have kidnapped it.

I've had the TV on all morning but haven't seen anything about the peace rally scheduled for DC today. The WaPo notes several events are occurring simultaneously but although the rally is expected to draw far more than the organizer's estimate of 100,000 people, local police are not anticipating any problems because of the march.
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Friday, September 23, 2005

Frist in a fix

Will Frist be the next Martha Stewart?

The SEC seems to think he might be implicated in a little insider trading on a stock he never should have owned in the first place, while he was sitting on committees legislating on matters that affected the industry. His counsel couches it as having heeded at long last the appearance of impropriety as his reason for divesting of the stock, but the timing is altogether too cozy.
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Bush takes it straight

Doug Thompson at Capitol Hill Blue weighs in the Enquirer's account of Bush's drinking problem. Not unexpectedly, he concurs with the tabloid's assessment. Having known and loved a fair number of alcoholics in my lifetime, I think he shows all the classic signs of having fallen off the wagon myself.

I mean look at that photo of him strumming guitar while New Orleans was underwater and tens of thousands of people were suffering in severe heat without food or water. It looks like he's making some joke with a musician across the stage. Tell me he doesn't look high?

Anyway, quote of the day goes to Doug's closing line.
It’s scary enough to have a nutcase in the White House. It’s even scarier to think that nutcase may be drunk.
Not to mention stoked out on antidepressants.
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Pentagon clueless on accounting

Almost missed this story. The WaPo reports,

The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday.

The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion to fight terrorism from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks through May 2005, with the annual sum ballooning from $11 billion in fiscal 2002 to a projected $71 billion in fiscal 2005. But the GAO investigation found many inaccuracies totaling billions of dollars.
So much for accountability. Any wonder this has been the most secretive White House in history?

[hat tip to Sabin]
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So you want to be a blogger

I'm often asked about blogging. What it is or how to do it. I usually just pass on the posts other, more knowledgeable people have done that helped me get started.

Here's a new resource for those who want to try, that covers some new territory for those who want or need to blog anonymously. I haven't read it myself but the TOC is really interesting so I'm keeping it in my reference archives for future reference.

The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents.
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The O'Reilly Flounder

Bless those Fox News Hounds for coming up with the transcript of yesterday's O'Reilly Factor where Phil Donohue freeze dries Billy Boy with his acerbic wit.

Crooks and Liars has the video.
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Frisking Fisk

U.S. immigration officials refused Tuesday to allow Robert Fisk, longtime Middle East correspondent for the London newspaper, The Independent, to board a plane from Toronto to Denver. Fisk was on his way to Santa Fe for a sold-out appearance in the Lannan Foundation’s readings-and-conversations series Wednesday night.

According to Christie Mazuera Davis, a Lannan program officer, Fisk was told that his papers were not in order.
Actually, not so unbelievable with this White House but how absolutely brazen and ridiculously petty. It's so clearly an attempt to punish him for his work that's so critical of the administration and it's ill-fated Iraq policy.
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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Give peace a chance

There's big doings for the peace movement in DC this weekend. There's a big march, a concert and a bunch of actions from civil disobedience to congressional lobbying. I unfortunately can't be there because my family needs me here but I think if I was free this weekend, I would have gone. It would have been my first march since 1969 when I walked through Hartford CT in the first moritorium against Vietnam.

I remember it like yesterday. It was the first time I had ever been to the North End, which at that time was the poor section of town. The march was long,covering a couple of miles and thousands of us took to the streets with our black armbands, finally converging for a day long peace festival in Bushnell Park. I was young then and if there were many middle aged people, I didn't notice it at the time but the sense of common cause, the solidarity among strangers has never left me.

Thus I've been wondering about the "new peace movement" that was finally given a focus with Cindy Sheehan's Camp Casey in Crawford this summer. I've been watching the coverage and thinking it's the same folks who inspired a legion of musicians to write songs of peace then, that are at the forefront of the movement now. A piece in today's WaPo leads me to believe I'm right. The half dressed hippie chicks and longhaired boys in tattered jeans have mostly given way to gray haired grannies and families with children but they're the same people who marched with me then and the generation born of us when we traded in our tie-dyes for business suits.

We thought we had changed the world for good and it wasn't just the war in Vietnam. We fought for women's rights, civil rights and other social justice issues and we did make a difference. Who thought we would have to do it all over again 35 years later? Yet here we are fighting for the very same things. It makes me sad and angry but there's an air of expectancy around this event that gives me hope. Those that can be, will be there this time and I'm sure I'm not the only one regretfully attending in spirit only.

I'm a big believer in the power of synergy. We did it once, we know how it's done and we can do it again.
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Privatizing National Security

One can certainly understand why owners of luxury properties would hire private security to protect their investments. However, that doesn't explain why Blackwater has been hired to guard FEMA reconstruction projects. The Nation offers a clue.
Unlike ISI or BATS, Blackwater is operating under a federal contract to provide 164 armed guards for FEMA reconstruction projects in Louisiana. That contract was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security firms. "We believe we've got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety," he said. Before the contract was announced, the Blackwater men told me, they were already on contract with DHS, and that they were sleeping in camps organized by the federal agency.

One might ask, given the enormous presence in New Orleans of National Guard, US Army, US Border Patrol, local police from around the country, and practically every other government agency with badges, why private security companies are needed, particularly to guard federal projects. "It strikes me ... that that may not be the best use of money," said Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Blackwater's success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater's CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush's victory in 2000. This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum's re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004.
What does it say about our national security if we don't have enough military manpower left in the US to guard federal properties? Or is this just another neo-con ploy to enrich the private fortunes of crony capitalists at the expense of the public safety?
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On the rocks?

I know you won't find this on your own. I wouldn't have either but it's making the email rounds so for what it's worth I'm passing it on. According to the National Enquirer, Bush is boozing again.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Putting off the draft

From the Army Times.

Army recruiters now have a wider pool to find future soldiers in. The Army is reaching out to a slice of America’s youth long ineligible to serve: non-high school graduates who don’t have a General Equivalency Diploma.

Recruiters can now go after that demographic through the “Army Educations Plus” option, the Army announced Tuesday.
Those poor recruiters need all the help they can get.
Smith said last week that senior Army leadership has acknowledged that the active duty Army, Reserve and Guard will each miss their respective annual goals for fiscal 2005, which ends this month.
You have to wonder how they will be able to occupy Iraq for the next three years without a draft. Can Blackwater and the rest of the companies that supply mercenaries, (or they like to call them, contractors) fill the shortfall for that long?

And more importantly can we afford to pay them? If China or Japan for instance decided to pull out of foreign debt, we're screwed.
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Quick bytes

You know the religious right are taking over the political landscape when when CNN names a full-time faith and values correspondent. This is why the fringe fundies have more power than they should. Twenty years ago their noisy bigotry would have dismissed as lunatic ravings. Now they cover every blessed idiot pronouncement they make as if it were important news rather than insane gibberish.

Another ill effect of media consolidation - the caste system. This is why you get 24/7 coverage of pap like the Holloway investigation for weeks after it's news and next nothing on the Plame investigation. If the holy grail of profits over public service hadn't become the norm in this enviroment, perhaps the MSM would have picked up on the Times-Picayune coverage of the levee problems and the whole NOLA disaster could have been at least mitigated, if not avoided.

Speaking of the MSM, the essential Molly Ivins proposes a Media Accountability Day. She suggests it runs in conjunction with the annual release of the 10 Most Censored Stories of the Year, which she kindly lists for those who may have missed them. I would note in passing that I blogged at some length on at least 6 of these stories myself, but I don't count since I'm just a blogger - not a journalist, as those who can't refute my arguments in a debate like to remind me.

The world's most powerful address is not 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, it's K Street inside the Beltway. The Hill tells us that there's a new business model cropping up among the lobbyists who find their profits are not obscene enough yet. Some firms have been already doing this for years but it now has an official label.
The name is now the “Transactional Risk Assessment Specialty.” It is billed as a “rapid-response team” of lobbyists, lawyers and former government officials who will jointly help clients understand and smooth any obstacles that may arise inside the Beltway.
They must have been inspired by Karen Hughes newly formed Department of Propaganda. They have rapid response PR teams as well to convinvce foreign countries that having their citizens murdered and their infrastructures destroyed is really a good thing.

I hope this posts as I've been having technical difficulities this week. It happens a lot around here. The broadband goes out regularly and Blogger has had some quirky problems publishing in the last couple of days.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The War President

I suppose by now you've heard that the White House has added a new war to their roster. They have now declared a War on Consensual Adult Porn in addtion to the Global War on Terror, the War on Some Drugs, the War on Privacy, the War on Dissent, the War on Taxation of the Rich, the War on Entitlement Programs and the War on Accountability to name a few.

Talk about shock and awe. What's next I wonder? Jail terms for failure to attend church on Sundays?
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Quote of the Day

When the state steps in to supersede competition among contractors, and workers are left to compete to offer their services for as little pay as possible, we're entering the realm of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

-- Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Read the whole thing for the gory details on just who is getting the benefit of no-bid contracts and the wage rule suspension. [Hint: all big GOP donors].

[hat tip to KathyS]
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Fuck yeah!

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon nails the right wing echosphere with a Defense of Cursing. Just read it all and make sure you click all the links for the deeper context.

I'd do posts like this myself but I find myself mellowing out so much as I approach my "golden years" that I just can't work up to the same level of vehemence anymore. I do a lot more incredulous head-shaking in disbelief than outraged fist banging when it comes to the over-educated, underexperienced, pseudo-polite pundits these days. I save my bile for the perps inside the Beltway who are committing the crimes, rather than wasting my limited time and energy on their excusers.

I'm glad someone does it though. Thank God for the young. I hope they never outgrow that passion.
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Top White House official arrested

The GOP value-based facade is shattering. Today's WaPo reports David H. Safavian, "[t]he Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday," for "lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government."

Safavian, who "set purchasing policy for the entire government," was overseeing spending of Katrina relief funds as late as last week. He may be the first of many GOP faithful who will go down as result of Abramoff's current unrelated indictment in Florida.
Abramoff's allegedly improper dealings with Indian tribes -- which netted him and an associate at least $82 million in fees -- prompted the federal probe. But investigators have found that his documents and e-mails contain a trove of information about his aggressive efforts to seek favors for clients from members of Congress and senior bureaucrats.
One would guess that anyone who dealt with Abramoff will be meeting with their legal counsel soon. No telling where this investigation could go, but it could be big. We live in hope.

Update: Atrios has more along with the links. Some interesting triangulation going on here.
As he was on the job through last week he must've had a hand in setting the Katrina procurement procedures, including allowing people to go ahead and charge up to $250,000 at a time on their credit cards. He's also, well, another hack with no experience in his field.

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

Their latest job? Heading up the sham Katrina investigation...
And they say it's the corrupt Dems running Louisiana that can't be trusted?
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Monday, September 19, 2005

Bill Clinton speaks

Must read of the day is this interview with Bill Clinton on ABC News' "This Week." This could be the singularly most honest assessment of the Bush presidency that I've seen to date by an entrenched politician. One wonders what got into old Bill considering how cozy he's been with Daddy Bush lately, what with all this fundraising going on for disaster victims, but I'm not complaining God.

Please give me more talk like this.
"Tax cuts are always popular," Clinton said. "But about half of these tax cuts since 2001 have gone to people in my income group, the top 1 percent. I've gotten four tax cuts.

"Now, what Americans need to understand is that that means every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," Clinton added. "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense. I think it's wrong."
He wimped out on Iraq, dancing around the policy failures to say we have to hope it will work out - no kidding - and if it was working at all I'd be the first one, if not to support it, at least to accept it. But hey he's still a politician and his wife is up for re-election so I suppose we couldn't expect better on that score. Nonetheless, he offers this ray of hope at the end.
The country in 2008, and I think in 2006, will be in a desperate mood to come together and move forward. I think they're going to reject ideological solutions that are not fact-based, and I think they're going to want a government that works.

I only hope he's right.
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The revolving door

No bureaucrat left behind in this administration.
"Former education secretary Rod Paige and his former top aides at the Education Department have organized a consulting group to offer paid advice on policies they helped create and later enforced, including the No Child Left Behind Act."
They're calling it consulting rather than lobbying but the effect is the same. It seems to me we need to revamp the rules on profiting from government service. Perhaps if we extended the time frame to forbid any related work for ten years instead of only one, we might get some candidates that actually care about governing, instead of looking at serving in public office as a mere stepping stone to political profiteering.
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On the offensive

Beth Quinn is offended. You know what, so am I. Beth speaks for me. I'm tired of being polite. Read the whole thing but here's the punch line.
Most of all, I'm offended by those Americans who still insist that this sociopath is a swell guy, a terrific leader, a fine thinker. What is wrong with you people?!
Go ahead and call me partisan for agreeing with this. Call me a Bush basher. To paraphrase Frank Rich , when you're done dissing the messenger, after all we've seen in the last five years, you still can't refute the message.
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Roll out the pork barrel project

Glenn Reynolds had a brilliantly non-partisan idea yesterday for a blog swarm on the transportation bill. By this morning, Truth Laid Bear had set up a page to track it. The deal is for local bloggers to identify pork in their own districts, blog it and contact their Beltway legislators with a challenge to divert the funding to the Gulf States recovery efforts.

I'm newly arrived in North Carolina so I'm not terribly informed on local politics but unnecessary funding is kind of the same all over. My own district does not seem to be the only offender here, and the eastern half of the state overall could bear some scrutiny. First and foremost, there's this $6,336,000 Downtown Redevelopment Project in Rocky Mount. I'm all for restoring vitality to downtowns, but I have to ask, why is this city of about 56,000 residents receiving this money from a federal transportation bill?

The same question could asked for this project, $1,500,000 Development of 2 miles of road parallel to I- 95 located approximately between the I-95/ NC- 125 interchange and I- 95AJS- 158 interchange NC. The reasoning is that the road needs to be improved in order to attract industry for one community. How does that benefit the interstate highway system?

Finally there's a remarkable number of bike trail projects. Now I'm all for bike trails and from what I've observed, the residents of this state could use more exercise, but let's be practical. This is not Holland. Few people commute by bike. These trails are largely for leisure class entertainment and in these fiscally troubled times, all these projects could go.

* Completion of the American Tobacco Trail in Durham and Chatham Counties: $1.6 million

* Acquisition of rail corridors for bicycle and pedestrian trials (Durham): $3.6 million

* Pedestrian bike paths development (Cary): $1.6 million

* Endor Iron Furnace Greenway enhancements from Deep River to Sanford: $800,000

* Neuse River Trail construction (Johnston County): $1.6 million

* Greenways expansion and improvement project (Greenville): $1.6 million

* Rails to Trails Project (Elizabeth City): $512,000

In the greater scheme that's not a lot of money but hey, every $20 million could help.

Sources: Statement of Congressman Butterfield.
Cary politics forum.
Taxpayers for Common Sense.
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

The real disaster is FEMA itself

The Florida Sun Sentinel publishes a follow up to a previous series on FEMA waste, corruption and mismanagement. This is one for the archives folks and while you're at it, you may want to bookmark's preliminary analysis and timeline of Katrina as well.
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Chasing the dead to kill the "death tax"

The GOP agenda has never been clearer than in this article. They are thousands of poor people still living on the streets after Katrina and uncounted dead hidden in the debris and what are our GOP "leaders" doing? Combing the ruins looking for one dead rich guy who can be used as a poster boy for the repeal of the estate tax.

The last graf says it all.
It's been hard. Only a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax—in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it. And for Hill backers of repeal, that's only part of the problem. Last year, the tax brought in $24.8 billion to the federal government. With Katrina's cost soaring, estate tax opponents need to find a way to make up the potential lost income. For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."
Hey buddy, could you pick my dead gramma's body if you happen to step on her while you're looking?
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Rove Off the Record

This little powwow must have been a laugh a minute.

Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on.

On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...

On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...
You have to wonder how this guy manages to look at himself in the mirror to shave.

[via Huff Post]
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Take a look

I'm overdue on welcoming a new friend to the bloggerhood. The Bostonian Exile is a great new blog by an old friend who blogs on law, politics and occassionally football. I rarely agree with him, but I like the way he thinks. Click on over and say hey.

Meanwhile, he checks into comments on this post, to leave a little inside information on the gentrification of Punta Gorda in Florida.
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I love it when they think I'm a man

Avman at Jeff Blanco disses my post and suggests that the food crisis is over for the Katrina survivors. I suggest he take his laptop to those little villages in Mississippi where they're still sleeping in houses that are only half destroyed and see if he can find a hotspot. If that doesn't work perhaps he could spend his time charting how long it takes to get through to the mythical FEMA hotline on his cell phone.

Where do these smug well-fed righties get off making such ridiculous unresearched pronouncements? This kid is no doubt from the school of - if it's not on Fox News it didn't really happen.
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Stupid legislation of the week

The holier-than-thou crowd just doesn't know when to quit. Mark Kernes at AVN [warning explicit ads on page], reports on Rep. Mike Pence's attempt to destroy the adult video industry and also force all depictions of sexual activity - real or simulated - to be marketed under the XXX label. This would theoretically make Debby does Dallas illegal and put the Blue Lagoon for instance into the category of porn.

I can't think of anything more dunderheaded to pursue at this time of crisis in our country in the first place and in the second, at a time when our national coffers are being emptied at about a billion dollars a minute by other lamebrained policies pushed by the GOP, can we really afford to destroy a multibillion dollar industry? It's not like the porn fans won't be able to get their videos from say, Holland.
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Hey Dems, you have the right and the duty to say no

E.J. Dionne has a kickbutt op-ed in today's WaPo on why the Dems should find some backbone and just vote no on Roberts. A few choice morsels:
How senators vote on Roberts -- and in particular how Democrats and moderate Republicans vote -- depends on where they believe the burden of proof lies. The accepted Washington view is that deference should be paid to a manifestly qualified presidential nominee.

But the doubts about Roberts have nothing to do with his good heart. The issue is the power about to be put in his hands and into the hands of President Bush's next appointee -- power both will enjoy for life. The Senate and the public have a right to far more assurance about how Roberts would use that power than they have been given in these hearings. The Senate is under no obligation to give the president or Roberts the benefit of the doubt.

If senators simply vote "yes" on Roberts, they will be conceding to the executive branch huge power to control what information the public gets and doesn't get about nominees to life positions. The administration has stubbornly refused to release a share of Roberts's writings as deputy solicitor general. This is a dare to the Senate, and the administration is assuming it will wimp out. A "yes" on Roberts would be a craven abdication of power to the executive branch.

Roberts is smart for sure and even, as Dionne notes, slick. But smooth answers and broad evasions do not serve the public interest. Our kids and our grandkids will have to live with this choice. It won't do the Dems any good in 06 or later, if they don't stop kowtowing to the GOP message machine now.
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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Quote of the Day

What those who are afraid of civil society breaking down don't realize is that civil society has already broken down! This is not a civil society we live in, but a profiteering, every-man-for-himself, oligarchy. The democratic process is broken if not rigged; the largest-ever redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich occurred over the last six years under the guise of economic stimulus; fear and disinformation were used to put the poorest of Americans onto a battlefield under false pretenses; those who seek to engage the current administration in meaningful dialogue are terminated.

---Douglas Rushkoff
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Fascism will not arrive overnight

One state closer to a police state. President Bush's push to give the military a bigger role in responding to major disasters like Hurricane Katrina could lead to a loosening of legal limits on the use of federal troops on U.S. soil.

Like that wasn't on their minds since the neo-cons came into office.

Update: Democracy Now has more on the militarization of NOLA.
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Maybe she wants Karen Hughes job....

Whoa. Donna Brazile, Gore's former campaign manager, has apparently overdosed on the Kool-Aid. In an op-ed in today's WaPo she praises Bush for "speaking from the heart" at his stage managed photo-op in New Orleans on Thursday.

This line particularly bugs me and it's a meme I've been seeing over and over again in the MSM today.
Now the crisis of survival is over. But the task of rebuilding remains, and the president made it clear that every single one of us has a role to play.
Excuse me, but there are thousands of people in tiny litte towns and parishes that CNN and Fox didn't get to, where the people still have no power, no shelter, no food and no communications. They have yet to see a federal relief worker.

The crisis of survival is far from over for them.
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News for Newark

This is scary.
The FBI and New Jersey officials have started a hushed but intensive search for three missing lab mice reportedly infected with deadly strains of plague. The mice were discovered missing from separate cages at a bioterrorism research facility in Newark more than two weeks ago, but the incident was only confirmed Wednesday by the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.
Scientists say with modern antibiotics, plague can be treated if quickly diagnosed, but how are people going to know they should be diagnosed, if nobody tells them the little infected rodents are running around?

Shouldn't this be bigger news?
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Why I love Hugo Chavez

He's the only world leader who has the balls to stand up and call Bush a crook and liar to his face.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took President Bush to task in front of a global summit for waging war in Iraq without U.N. consent and won rousing applause for his critique. The leftist leader told a U.N. summit on Thursday that fighting the war without U.N. authorization showed Washington did not respect the world body. He recommended moving U.N. headquarters to a country that has more regard for the organization.
Apparently I'm not the only one that respects honesty.
World leaders at the summit had been asked to speak for five minutes but Chavez ran long and when the presiding diplomat passed him a note saying his time was up, he threw it on the floor. He said if Bush could speak for 20 minutes, so could he. When he finally stopped, he got what observers said was the loudest applause of the summit.

Which is no doubt why the White House hates Chavez and the UN.
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Welcome to Bushamerica

Things don't look good for the FEMA Katrina survivors - at least not the poor ones. You remember when the hurricanes in Florida destroyed a few communities about a year ago. The misuse of government relief funds made a brief splash in the news when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were passed out to well-off folks who hadn't even suffered any damage in the storms.

What you didn't hear about were all the working poor who were wiped out and relocated to a "FEMA trailer camp" a few miles out of Punta Gorda, one of the harder hit towns. Well they're still there and the town doesn't seem to be interested in taking them back. The WaPo reports,
"You almost hate to say this because of the difficulties so many people have had, but Charley tore down some buildings that needed to come down and cleared areas for much higher kinds of uses," said City Manager Howard Kunik.

An old, damaged Holiday Inn on the town's waterfront, for instance, has been demolished and will be replaced with an $80 million condominium-hotel complex, and other upscale projects are moving forward....

... the city made clear that it plans to tear down a public housing complex on the waterfront to make way for much higher-income people.

"That land was just too valuable to have poor people on it," said community leader Isaac Thomas. He said that the local government is trying to help him and other black leaders save some of the modest but historic homes in the African-American East End, but that "it's a really uphill fight."
Meanwhile, the FEMA camp is due to be shut down in February and thousands of its residents still have nowhere to go. I wonder where they think they're going to get the service workers to staff all these new fancy up-scale properties if they force the poor out the area.

And we're going to let these politicians administer another $200 billion of our tax dollars to "rebuild NOLA?"
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Friday, September 16, 2005

Treasongate creaks open a little wider

Good old Maurice Hinchey. He's been a good friend to drug policy reform and now he's leading a pack of 41 Members of Congress to ask the Plame investigation be expanded to include the information contained in the Downing Street Minutes on the false uranium claims made by Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Poor Fitzgerald is really in the hot seat. I hear he's under a lot of pressure by the GOP powers that be and also read that he was asking the other resolutions, (recently quashed by the GOP in committee) on the DSM be forestalled because they would interfere with his investigation. The two issues are so obviously related. I hope this doesn't mean he's cracking.
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Talk Talk

Think Progress has the GOP talking points on Katrina.

American Progress Report has the progressive talking points.

Me, I just say what I think.
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I love it when he talks like this

You know the White House is in trouble when Don Surber, a guy who regularly agrees with Michele Malkin and Chief What's-his-name, say this.
$200 billion to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? Holy pig! Give every one of those 1 million displaced people $100,000 to move and save $100 billion. Pouring that kind of money into the corrupt governments of New Orleans and Louisiana is itself a disaster. Suddenly President Bush is looking very small.
I wish he would do it more often.
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Of Course They Knew

Explosive post on Diebold at Bradblog. Proof at last that the election was stolen. It's like I've been saying all along. If we don't insist on a paper ballot now, we'll be screwed at the midterms and in 08 too.

[Via Avedon]
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Worth a thousand words

Via Avedon, I'm not a big fan of Steve Bell's work either - I find it too stark - but this one so strikes to the heart of the NOLA disaster that I recommend you take a look.
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When you gotta go....

Well, this is one for the archives. The Reuters photog had no idea what he had, or he would have taken a lot more shots.

Condi, can I go to the bathroom?
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Thursday, September 15, 2005

One nation, under God

I've been staying out of the latest brouhaha over the Pledge of Allegiance, mainly because I have other things on my mind and really have nothing new to add to the discussion.

However reader KS, (who has been with me for so long, I feel like she's a friend even though I don't know her real name), left this comment at DetNews to another blogger's post on the subject that was so brilliant, I want to pass it on.
I don't find the reference to God in the pledge offensive because I am a Christian, but I do find it odd that people are only fighting about words that have religious conotations. What about the other words in the Pledge:

One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Our country is more divided than I can ever remember, and liberty and justice seem to be commodities that the highest bidder can buy. Shouldn't we as Americans be more concerned about those words? Liberty and justice - they're not just for people who believe in God.
Amen. I often wonder why KS doesn't have her own blog.
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Ivins on the money

Molly Ivins rocks. Just read it but here's the money quotes.
And what you get when you put people in charge of government who don't believe in government and who are not interested in running it well is ... what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.

I was listening Molly. It didn't happen because I didn't try hard enough to stop it.
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Chief Justice Roberts?

I haven't blogged the hearings because they're a bad joke and I'm just disgusted with the do-nothing Dems. The best they can come up with is a mass mailing from Howard Dean asking us to write letters to the editor? Oh and he'll write one too. This should have happened the day after he was nominated, not mid-hearing.

It can't hurt to do this, but really, shouldn't they already be saying this on the Senate floor instead of making stupid self-serving speeches? They could be asking tougher questions. But no, our spineless excuse for an opposition party is waiting to see whether the electorate is interested enough to fight the nomination for them.

The reasons he shouldn't be confirmed are clear. At this point, it looks to me like he's going to sail through anyway. God help us all.
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In a Huff about blogs

They scoffed when she started up the Huff Post. They said she'd never dislodge Drudge. Maybe she didn't displace him, but she sure gave him a big nudge. Now there's a nice little interview with Arianna Huffington at Wired on her thoughts about blogging. The money quote.
As for improving the quality of journalism, we must (find) ways to give mainstream journalism what it most desperately needs: a spine transplant.
Indeed. In all the breathless wonder lately about how the MSM finally started reporting facts instead of White House talking points during Katrina, I was thinking if it wasn't for all the bloggers reporting eyewitness accounts, the story might have played out much differently.
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Rupert Murdoch's only loyalty is to money

In case you were hoping the shifting political climate would take down Fox News along with George Bush, don't hold your breath. As the WaPo points out, it ain't gonna happen as long as Murdoch would be willing to stab his own mother in the back in order to keep his ratings.

Fox NewsHounds will have a job to do for a long time yet I'm afraid.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Spinning the death toll in NOLA

There's a lot of rueful head hanging going around the media today about how they were fooled into overstating the death count in NOLA by over-emotional politicians. I think this is the more likely reason. FEMA has ordered searchers not to break into homes to look for bodies (or survivors). If no one responds to a knock on the door and they don't see a body through the window, they're supposed to move on.

If a California National Guardsmen hadn't followed his conscience instead of that inhumane federal government directive, Edgar Hollingsworth would be dead.

How many more survivors still barely clinging to life might be lost this way, and how many bodies will be missed? One wonders if they're planning to just bulldoze the houses that are allegedly empty. And why aren't they removing the bodies as they go? It couldn't be more inefficient as a recovery method but it sure would facilitate a cover-up of the body count.
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GOP blocks Dem inquiries on fixed intelligence

No surprises here. The Wapo reports the GOP killed in committee, "several 'resolutions of inquiry' to compel President Bush and members of his Cabinet to release all information relating to communications with British officials before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the Valerie Plame case."

This move effectively keeps the resolutions from coming to House floor for full debate. If they weren't hiding criminally negligent deception on their leader's "fixed intelligence," don't you think they would be demanding a complete investigation themselves?

It's time to push for paper ballots to make sure these democracy squelching extremists don't manage to electronically fix another election and return to office.
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Starving the government into submersion

Well Brownie took the fall but Reuters reports on a memo indicating it was Chertoff that delayed the federal response to Katrina - most possibly to give Bush time to get back to the White House after a final overnight vacation rest stop in Crawford. Unsurprisingly, at least to those who follow the follies of the war on some drugs, a key factor in the delay was a task force.
"As you know, the President has established the `White House Task Force on Hurricane Katrina Response.' He will meet with us tomorrow to launch this effort. The Department of Homeland Security, along with other Departments, will be part of the task force and will assist the Administration with its response to Hurricane Katrina," Chertoff said in the memo to the secretaries of defense, health and human services and other key federal agencies.
This clearly contributed to the 36 hour delay that created the hell on earth the surviviors endured. However, a spokesman for DHS disputes this clear cause and effect.
"There was a tremendous sense of urgency," Knocke said. "We were mobilizing the greatest response to a disaster in the nation's history."
If this is an example of how they act with urgency, God help us when an unexpected emergency occurs.
A former FEMA director under President Reagan expressed shock by the inaction that Chertoff's memo suggested. It showed that Chertoff "does not have a full appreciation for what the country is faced with - nor does anyone who waits that long," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was FEMA director from 1985-1989.
Meanwhile for the critics who accuse accountability bloggers of mere Bus-bashing, there's this.
The Chertoff memo indicates that the response to Katrina wasn't left to disaster professionals, but was run out of the White House, said George Haddow, a former deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton administration and the co-author of an emergency management textbook.

"It shows that the president is running the disaster, the White House is running it as opposed to Brown or Chertoff," Haddow said. Brown "is a convenient fall guy. He's not the problem really. The problem is a system that was marginalized."
I would add deliberately marginalized by an administration more concerned with corporate plunder and cronyism than public safety. They didn't quite fulfill Grover Norquist's dream of shrinking the government small enough to drown in a bathtub, but it was emasciated enough to have succumbed to a city-sized lake.
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This is not what democracy looks like

I'm still catching up after my hospital hiatus so I've been blogging about the recovery efforts this morning at the DetNews. Now I find today's WaPo reporting another reason for the delay in recovering the dead was due to bickering over who was going to pay the private contractor, FEMA or the state of Louisiana.

In the meantime, some of the 68,000 troops and 21 ships will be leaving the area in weeks rather than months. I assume this number doesn't include the thousands of FEMA workers, private groups who have pitched in and out-of-state law enforcement and emergency personnel who have also volunteered in the area. With all these people, it took almost ten days to rescue about 8000 residents in NOLA, many reported removed at gunpoint, and to keep control of what couldn't be more than a couple of hundred looters that might have remained in the city?

They couldn't spare a unit to recover the bodies as they went along, instead of just marking the buildings? The inefficiency is breathtaking and it all centers around awarding fat contracts to private companies favored by the administration. Is this America or Baghdad? How sick is it to turn human tragedy into another feeding frenzy at the pork barrel trough?

As for the living survivors of NOLA, (via Grumpy Old Man who has his own take on the preznit), Andrew W. Griffin brings us news I hadn't seen on the plight of the displaced. Blogging from Louisiana, he has more tales of evacuees being locked into virtual concentration camps while being denied free movement and has other posts at his Spelunking Through the Chaos that note 1000 evacuees have been sent to an army base in Puerto Rico and the Mexican Army is operating on American soil with the full consent of our government, confiscating legally owned weapons from US citizens.

Will we have to wait until the tanks are rolling down every street in America before the kool-ade drinkers snap out of their stupor and realize they're supporting a wanna-be dictator and his budding police state? It simply boggles the mind.
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