Wednesday, September 28, 2005
There are no more stories, not like we used to hear.
No beginnings, middles, ends. There is always
A chair made of sticks from the forest out back
And someone telling us to not sit
for fear of it cracking under our weight;
a father who whistles nothing in particular
as he mows the lawn; a teenager rooftop and naked
crystallizing his hope into one long scream;
always a child pointing a finger into the dark
Saying “scary, scary”. August, 5, 1994—
Light. Airy. Apathetic
Might be a better word. The cow dung had been sifted
For fertilizer. Significant in only it was another day
Of sifting shit and nothing of true significance had happened.
A man who loaded his S10 up with said fertilizer recounted
How his son had died of cancer. Reheating macaroni
The day he found out, he watched
The digital numbers on his microwave
Pass into nothing
And he said it was the first time he was ever
truly aware of every moment.
He lost his appetite quickly like a single note
Pressing into an empty room, a syllable
Of hollowness in his midsection. Fear
Is not disease, nor darkness, nor the cracking of sticks
When a voice trumpets the air jolting a man
From his chair; fear sieves stories into oblivion,
Into a place where they cannot rise up, clog the nostrils,
Clump in the lungs, satisfy the slightest need
For music. Fear is lack of meaning.
Back in the 50’s Miles played something new; it still is.
He’d ask her at dinner, over hummus and water, some
Fresh green peppers, onion and cucumbers in vinaigrette
A song in the background as tender as a bottle of fine wine.
She’d be wearing a sundress, simple as a smile and
Loose as wind, open-toed sandals, and a hint
Of nervousness. He’d wait until she blushed. The words
Would taste like springtime. Who would’ve thought
She’d say thank you, fold her napkin, kiss his cheek
Say, Sorry, I prefer a man who eats red meat.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
If I wanted to give my money to a religious organizations, I would have (and did). I have written on it (look below, I'm too disgusted to link right now) and others are chiming in including Americablog, Kos, and others. Go look.
Homework: what is the definition of theocracy? what are the basic tenets of facism?
Don't go off with the typical bullshit deflection,"Are you calling Bush a facist?" and totally disregard the assignment. Go look, then come back and argue if you want.
Monday, September 26, 2005
What an idiot.
It worked, so I wonder how many of these we'll have to deal with? Don't have that essay finished? Bomb threat. Had a keg party and the midterm slipped your NatiLight mind. Bomb threat.
You go, you slacker terrorists.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
So last night my wife and I are flipping through the news channels and are listening to the reports: "Rita is merely a catagory 2 right now, but should be 3 by...."
and we looked at one another and said, "he sounds depressed about it only being a 2". Then with every subsequent report we witnessed the breathless recounting of possible 3, maybe 4, and then the final climactic furry of a 5.
Today a colleague asked if I watched CNN this morning. I hadn't, but she was disgusted by the "hopefullness" (her words) in the reporter's voice ad Rita passed the Keys and could grow in strength.
I guess the Hate America crowd will say Texas deserved it, it is, after all, home to Bush and Delay.
When the peacenick hippies pull a Matthew Shepard on a conservative, then we can talk about discrimination, until then -- SHUT UP. Cripes, it's almost as bad as winey Christians saying they are discrimnated against in the USA. Almost.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Then the Browns win on the road at Green Bay
Now what's next? Congress actually listen to the people? I wouldn't bet my lunch money on it.
Here's two points Chicago makes:
-Dems need to do even more than they already are to take advantage of the ÂNew MediaÂ numbers. That is, they should redouble ancomplexityfy their on-line outreach and fundraising efforts. The net is still really cheap, and it influences the young far more than traditional media. Youth are the future, and remain a tremendous pool of untapped activists and voters. IIRC, they have the lowest voter turnout, but this doesnÂt have to be the case. Plus, I hear programmers and game designers work cheap these days- let them make some sites, games and other on-line interactive toys to get more young people involved. Hell, the Army is doing it.
I'm not sure what kind of games could work here since most progressive and progressive causes are against violence per se and those are the ones that are doing quite well, though it would be hilarious to see rush, pac man, limbaugh going after oxycotin or get a team of liberal freedom fighters and do a navy seals against the crazy neocon agenda of armegeddon.
Arbitron ratings did a report ealier this summer that said 1 in 10 have a significant amount of control of their listening habits through ipods, internet radio, and satellite radio. I would imagine that that number will increase to at least 4 in 10 within a few years. Just as no one could comprehend everyone "needing" a personal computer, no one will be able to fully understand the new market and how fast it will change the landscape of media.
I truly believe the only hope of media as a strong 4th estate agent is through technology. There are no more Woodward and Bernstien's. Hersh is a dying breed. As Chicago pointed out, the media is one big corporate circle-jerk with too many assets in all areas of government and private life to do any real reporting.
The right has also criticized it so well, that the media is doomed; thus, Chicago's second idea is integral:
-IÂm open to the idea that thereÂs value in using the traditional media still, but the last five years have shown that 99% of that media is hopelessly pro-corporate, and thus usually heavily in favor of repeating only the Rethuglican agenda. There are two solutions: convince everyone to stop watching TV news and opinion programs altogether, or buy a couple of major papers and TV stations, and start broadcasting a properly Democratic message. I recognize that either of these steps requires enormous effort and tons of cash. Smarter people than I could plan out a Âground upÂ approach of how to do the latter, but the point is that the Republicans have already done it. Whining about how difficult this would be isnÂt going to help anything. Surely, there are a few liberal millionaires and Hollywood producers left in this country? ThereÂs even a business angle: the dearth of liberal traditional media has created a vacuum, one big enough to fill advertisersÂ coffers in short order. Bring back liberal media, and viewers will follow.
Many are clamoring for this and it would be a huge success. Look at the numbers just for "lefty" communities. Millions of hits a day. Air America is growing, though their ratings are not as good as people had hoped (though I would argue this is due to the way they bundle the programing as a package, all-or-nothing instead of the way conservative radio does it by personality) and taking over what used to be hard core Rush markets.
Donahue, before he was yanked by MSNBC was their largest draw. Fox news success comes from their unique news perspective. No corporate news organization has the cajones or will to take an idealogically different perspective, so the need and desire is there. The difficulty would be to do something new and original and not merely do the opposite of Fox. Franken should not have a show. Stewart, on the other hand, might do quite well. Get a roundtable of Helen Thomas, Sy Hersh, Tony Shadid and Steve Fainaru, and Dan Murphy -- I'd watch that, but I'm a geek so....
Some friends of John Piper -- cause you know there is just not enough hate in this world.
Q Well, what does the President have to say to members of his own party, other conservatives, activists, pundits, who criticize him for wanting to have it all? He wants to have guns and butter, he wants to fund Iraq, he wants to have tax cuts, and now he wants to put together the largest reconstruction effort the world has ever seen.
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the characterization, because the President the other day clearly stated that we've got to make sure that we work with state and local officials to have a well-planned rebuilding effort. This is one of the -- this is going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts ever.
Q But how can we afford it?
MR. McCLELLAN: And we are going to -- well, first of all --
Q How can we afford it?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- first of all, we are going to meet the needs of the people in the region. The President was adamant about that. We are going to do what it takes. We have an obligation, as a nation, to help the people in the region rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities. We also have an obligation to move forward on -- in a well thought out way with those state and local officials. It will be driven by the local vision, but we're there to support them. And the President made clear that the infrastructure is going to be costly. But the federal government is going to be there to pick up a large portion of those costs.
And that's why it's important that we move forward to make sure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely in the region, and we have --
Q But --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- hang on, hang on -- we have inspector generals' teams in the region that will work to make sure that that happens. And as we move forward to address the needs in the region, we also need to look at our budget and where there's unnecessary spending happening, we need to make cuts. The President has made that very clear.
Q Where? Where?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are savings that we proposed in our budget, like I said, that Congress has yet to act on. That's a starting point. Other members are talking about various ideas. We are --
Q You're not coming up with any ideas. Congressman Mike Pense suggested delaying the prescription drug implementation to '07, that would save $40 billion, and Josh Bolten wouldn't even entertain it. I mean, isn't part of the problem is that it's kind of a sham to tell the American people that your federal government will do it all, but yet again, we won't ask for any sacrifice --
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with your characterization, because this President --
Q Well, where are the cuts?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- from day one has worked to cut non-security discretionary spending. And he's also worked to address other priorities, like entitlements, which drive a lot of costs, as well, and to implement important reforms. We reformed Medicare and put in some cost controls to start that process of addressing some of those issues.
Q You're conveniently not addressing members of the President's own party that say that --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we're --
Q -- this guy spends like a Democrat, and they're -- that he's trying to create the New Deal again. I mean, what about criticism from your own party, that it's, hey, big spender, when are you -- how are you going to do the math?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look at our budgets, David. You seem to conveniently ignore the facts. Our budgets have --
Q I looked at the budgets. I'm looking at the deficit. I'm just wondering what you're going to do about it.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- have put forward significant savings on a number of programs. Congress has yet to act on those. We encourage Congress to move forward and act on those. There's tens of billions of dollars of savings in some of those proposals, and that's a good starting point. But we're going to work with Congress to offset the cost by focusing on unnecessary spending.
Now, there are important priorities that we must meet. The number one obligation this President has is the safety and security of the American people. And we are going to meet that priority. We are going to continue to move forward on winning the war on terrorism to prevent something like what happened on September 11th from ever happening again, and we're going to move forward on addressing the needs of the people in the region to make sure that they --
Q And no sacrifice --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- get back up on their feet and that they rebuild their lives and rebuild the communities. But the President made it clear that we also have got to find cuts elsewhere in the budget where that spending is not essential....
Q Scott, we all understand that the President has proposed cuts in his budget -- it's his budget and he has a desire to work with Congress. But the budget pre-dated Katrina. Given that his leadership has come under question because of the hurricane, why does he not articulate a vision for the future, beyond endless deficits? What are the cuts going to be?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, we've talked about this over that last couple of weeks, Ed, maybe you've missed some of those discussions, because we have briefed you all on it. Obviously, you have significant costs that are going to be borne by the federal government in the relief and rebuilding efforts related to Katrina, but we have an obligation to help meet the needs of the people. The private sector and individuals are also showing the generosity of America and providing significant support to the people who have lost all of what they had or much of what they had in the region, as well. And we've -- I'm sorry, what?
Q That's not what I'm asking.....
Toledo Blade Sept 17th, 2005
"Medicare Premiums to rise by 13% next year"
Toldeo Blade Sept 17th, 2005
"Columbia Gas asks Ohio to approve record rate. Charges would be 45% higher than last year."
Toledo Blade Sept 16th, 2005
"In 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker was 431-to-1, up from 301-to-1 in 2003, according to "Executive Excess," an annual report released Tuesday by the liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies.
That's not the highest ever. In 2001, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1. Still, it's quite a leap year over year, and it ranks on the high end historically. In 1990, for instance, CEOs made about 107 times more than the average worker, while in 1982, the average CEO made only 42 times more.
The cumulative pay of the top 10 highest paid CEOs in the past 15 years totaled $11.7 billion."
CNN Money, Aug 30th 2005
"Just days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the U.S. Census Bureau published its annual report on income in America. The poverty rate increased in 2004 for the fourth year in a row, and 37 million Americans (12.7% of the population) were living in poverty -- 4 million more than in 2001, despite three years of economic recovery. Sadly, more than 15 million of these impoverished Americans, many of them children, lived in households headed by full-time workers."
Business Week Sept, 16 2005
"In his State of the Union address, the President announced his intention to propose to make permanent a range of tax cuts that are scheduled to expire by the end of 2010. Last year’s budget featured a similar proposal. Since then a new round of tax cuts has become law — including the reduction in the tax rates on dividends and capital gains — which increases the cost of making the tax cuts permanent. The cost has risen to a very high level — approximately $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years, including the costs of the higher interest payments that would have to be paid on the national debt.
This large cost will add substantially to the budget deficits the nation faces. A number of analyses by respected institutions and leading economists — including studies by the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and economists at Brookings — find that the increased deficits the tax cuts will create will reduce national saving and may weaken the economy over the long run as a result. These studies do not support Administration claims that the tax cuts will significantly increase long-term economic and job growth. Making the tax cuts permanent would be of greatest benefit to one group — very-high-income households.
Estimates based on data from the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center show that if the tax cuts are made permanent — including estate tax repeal — the top one percent of households will gain an average of $58,200 a year (in 2004 dollars) when the tax cuts are fully in effect, reflecting a 7.3 percent change in their after-tax income. By contrast, people in the middle of the income spectrum would secure a 2.5 percent change in their after-tax income, with average tax cuts of $655 — a little more than one-ninetieth of what those in the top one percent would receive.
The cost to middle- and low-income households from making the tax cuts permanent — from the higher costs they may pay for various services if increasingly large budget cuts are instituted to help pay for the tax cuts, as well as from the higher interest rates and other possible adverse economic effects of the enlarged deficits — is likely to outweigh the modest tax cuts that many of these households would receive.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Jan 2004
The official said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.
Ok, standard terrorsit sort of stuff. Assholes. The next paragraph is a stunner:
The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.
British troops launched the rescue about three hours after Iraqi authorities informed British commanders the men were being held at the police department's major crime unit, the official said.
Now the BBC says these two troops were working undercover, but the police "gave" them to Shia militia and that was unacceptable.
Aren't we "friends" of the Shia? When did the Shia, who have been holding back a full-scale civil war through a great deal of self control, become an enemy that posed such a threat to coalition forces?
Was this black Ops? What would coalition forces gain by running missions like this? How about the Iraqi leader who is essentially saying these two guys are terrorists? I think the military will bring much to bear on this journalist to find out who that source was -- they will either need to "shut him up" or make him retract the inflamatory comments. Though, it would probably be no good either way because as the BBC reports, damage has been done.
The BBC's Paul Wood said none of Basra's 20,000 police officers had helped the UK troops "partly because of reticence by their commanders, partly because, I am afraid, they have been infiltrated by these militants".
He added: "Now we are in the situation where presumably revenge will be sought by relatives of the dead Iraqis - and our allies in the police, I think there has been a complete breakdown of trust and it's going to be very difficult for British troops to call on them."
Mr Reid said: "We remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security."
But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "It is hard to see how relations between the British military and the civilian Iraqi authorities in Basra will ever be the same again.
"This is bound to be seen as a humiliation by many Iraqis - something the insurgents will use to their advantage."
Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram called on ministers to explain who would decide when to leave Iraq and on what basis.
And in other news that barely gets a line:
On Tuesday a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Mosul killed a US diplomatic security guard and three US private contractors, according to American officials.
The US military also announced that four of its soldiers attached to the Marines were killed in two roadside bombings in the western city of Ramadi on Monday.
Bring them on indeed.
UPDATE: 12:30 -- looks like Cole has a timeline and some possible answers to the questions I posted above.
Friday, September 16, 2005
That media that we thought had found a spine during the week after Katrina, well, it turns out they had just found a vertebrae and I didn't want to watch them slide back to their, oh-so-comfortable jelly-like postures.
But my wife, my wonderful and compassionate wife, said we need to listen. We need to keep an open mind and hear what he has to say. So I did. And it was a decent speech overall -- but....
First, I thought it was crass to bring in generators and light up Jackson Square (the cathedral specifically -- the whole set and performance seeped with faux piousness). I thought of his other great props he's used including this one, and this one. Have we devolved so much that we as a people would be giving him a standing ovation for the wonderful set decorations? I guess so.
Even my wife said she would have preferred a simple, straight forward message by the guy. No flash, no glitz. He gave his speech on the bodies of Americans in many respects, bodies he was accountable for.
A few things: 1) how the hell are we gonna pay for this? Aren't we in Iraq? Is he still going to push the estate tax relief package through AND "pay" for this massive reconstruction? I'm all for spending, I'm a liberal what do you expect, but this is unbelievable.
2) Who is going to make sure that all that money doesn't go down the rabbit hole? What kind of checks and balances is he going to have in place so that we don't have another Iraq reconstruction where billions, yes billions, go missing? Halliburton already has a no-bid 500 million dollar contract. How many other friends of the republicans will skin this fat cat dry? And if they do, who will hold them accountable?
3) What the hell is the president mentioning "Weapons of mass destruction" for? Is he insane? Why would you want anyone making a connection with that debacle?
4) Theocracy is on the march. I think it's wonderful that religious organizations have opened their hearts and places of worship to assist people, but the government should not be paying them at all. I donated a ton of money, and volunteer, will the government reimburse me? Did I do it because I knew they would? Religious institutions pick up that mantle because that is what Jesus asked them to do. Here is a previous post on why the government getting in bed with religion is a bad idea, especially for religions.
5) I give Dear Leader some props for acknowledging the racial and class divide. His policies still exacerbate those issues and I just find it hard to believe that a man who will waive the minimum wage for construction jobs (and a lot more deregulation that will be a boon for businesses but not sure it will actually help the people there) for the area wants to help poor people not be so poor. Sounds more like the same old.
More later, I need some coffee.
Update: 10:45 -- anybody else get the feeling that it was a most-excellent info-mercial?
I was speaking to a woman in the office who was commenting on the locals not being able to rebuild because they didn't have the funds, nor would not be hired to do the rebuilding. She said it was on CNN this morning talking to a St. Bernard Parish Sheriff. Anybody else see this?
I'll be updated the webpage this weekend -- taking out some dead links, adding some links I go to often. Come back and check it out.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Um, excuse me. I know we're talking about what to do about these here countries we got here with noooclur bombs and all, but, um, I have to drop a little bomb of my own, if you get my drift there. Hello? Is that ok?
President George W. Bush writing an all-too-human note during a UN meeting.
Bush is shown writing: "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Yahoo! Alerts Yahoo! News -
Tuesday, September 13, 2005, 8:56 AM PDT
WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush said Tuesday that he takes "full responsibility" for what went wrong with the government response to Hurricane Katrina.
Looks like others are on this as well. CNN screenshot -- oh man! What tic-tocs do we have here?
Many students have told me that they have not discussed the hurricane at all or "very briefly" in their classes. This is shocking to me, especially with all the academia talk about the "teachable moment" that has relevance and meaning to students. For something to happen to our nation that the president called "worse than 9/11", I would think the response by the university would be appropriate to it.
9/11 and 9/12 the university came to a standstill and every class discussed the event. Now, barely a mention in the classrooms. Of course, the student newspaper is still covering the bars downtown and the shows on campus, though there was (finally!) a below-the-fold front page article on ribbon sales to help the victims in today's paper.
In the meantime I couldn't stand waiting. I organized a fundraising opportunity just with my classes and we were able to raise $400.00. When I went to Lowes, where they are matching the funds, I met a cashier whose daughter was in New Orleans singing at one of the casinos there. We talked for sometime and finally she asked," did you see that 8 year old boy who looked directly in the camera and said 'this is ridiculous'? I told her I had. She said, "Out of the mouths of babes" and let the matter drop. If a person has an empathic bone in their body, they know, just as that boy knew, the response was ridiculous. Here, here, here, and here are some vids that may put all of this in perspective.
Now on to this other, what, perspective? Sad really. My dad forwarded me this article by a guy named John Piper, some southern Baptist, who basically pens the idea that "we" deserved the disaster. here are some of the main claims within the piece:
Whatever judgment has fallen, it is we who deserve itÂall of us. And whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we nor they deserve....
God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of ChristÂs suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve KatrinaÂall of us....
I do wonder what he would say if it were his grandchild floating face-down in shit infested waters whose bloated body was being picked at by rats, but that's just me.
He reminds me of this guy who said:
"I believe the devastating hurricane that hit the United States occurred because people in Iraq or Afghanistan -- maybe a mother who had lost her son or a son whose parents were killed or a woman who was raped -- were praying for God and God accepted their prayers."
We deserved it, because we turned from God and started an unnecessary war. Or how about Scarborough:
After September 11, 2001, "God bless America" was on everyone's lips. But what, exactly, are we asking God to bless - a nation moving a breakneck speed toward homosexual marriage, a nation awash in pornography, a nation in which our children are indoctrinated in perversion in the public schools, a nation in which most public displays of The Ten Commandments are considered offensive to the Constitution, a nation in which the elite does all in its considerable power to efface our Biblical heritage?
Others say it was due to gays. It's ridiculous on its face and I won't waste time writing a refutation.
All these so-called religious nutcases will be judged by their own harsh God. The Taliban, the evangelicals, all those who say "love Jesus" but preach hate and fear are false prophets in the truest sense. John Piper exclaims: "But God commits no crimes when he brings famine, flood, and pestilence on the earth."
I don't know what so-called God Mr. Piper believes in, but that is not my God. My God doesn't bring those things, but He does bring love and compassion and the ability to reach out and assist those who need it. He can keep his God. I want nothing to do with him.
Friday, September 09, 2005
A federal appeals court Friday sided with the Bush administration and reversed a judge's order that the government charge or free "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the president has the authority to detain a U.S. citizen closely associated with al Qaida.
A federal judge in South Carolina had ruled in March that the government cannot hold Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant," a designation President Bush gave him in 2002.
The government views Padilla as a militant who planned attacks on the United States, including with a "dirty bomb" radiological device.
The next is about a parade coming soon to DC. Some snips:
Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.
The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense....
What's unusual for an event on the Mall is the combination of fences, required preregistration and the threat of arrest....
Some military supporters have welcomed the event as a way to counter the antiwar movement and back the troops abroad. Antiwar groups say they are convinced that the event was orchestrated to boost the war effort and link the war to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and to undercut an antiwar protest planned for Sept. 24.
One restricted group will be the media, whose members will not be allowed to walk along the march route. Reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall....
Barber said the government now asks for a full name, age group, T-shirt size and e-mail address (each registered walker will get a T-shirt). Walkers have until 4:30 p.m. today to register, which must be done online ( http://www.asyfreedomwalk.com/ ).
Thursday, September 08, 2005
-Important to read, but difficult to comprehend-
Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences
By Parmedics Larry Bradsahw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky
EMS Network News
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the
Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets
remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through
the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water,
plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in
the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food,
water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside
Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty
The much-promised federal, state and local aid never
materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters.
There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small
window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in
an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they
spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the
We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and
arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV
coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there
were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent
white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.
We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero"
images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling
to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but
what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane
relief effort: the working class of New Orleans.
The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry
the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept
the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick
extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little
electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking
lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many
hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious
patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in
elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing"
boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood
waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to
ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who
scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for
hundreds of those stranded.
Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard
from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the
only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under
On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels
in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference
attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for
safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact
with family and friends outside of New Orleans.
We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources
including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to
the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible
because none of us had seen them.
We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and
came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the
City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were
subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours
for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing
the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority
boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited
late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The
buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to
the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.
By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation
was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased,
street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels
turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the
"officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for
more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally
encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be
allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had
descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards
further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention
Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the
police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked,
"If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our
alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no
they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start
of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law
We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal
Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no
they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred.
We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to
camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to
the media and would constitute a highly visible
embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay.
Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order,
the police commander came across the street to address our group. He
told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain
Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police
had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered
and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the
commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong
information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us.
The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear
to you that the buses are there."
We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge
with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention
center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and
asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news.
Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our
numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now
joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and
others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the
freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour
down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line
across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak,
they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd
fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and
dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of
the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with
the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs
informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to
us to get us to move.
We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway,
especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They
responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and
there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words
for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi
River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.
Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter
from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the
end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain
Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and
Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we
would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could
wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.
All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make
the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only
to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told
no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New
Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating
the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further
into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by
vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans,
semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with
people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.
Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water
delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A
mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets
of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp
in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and
water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized
a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar
poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated
a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure
for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even
organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts
of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).
This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of
Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it
meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took
to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these
basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other,
working together and constructing a community.
If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and
water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and
the ugliness would not have set in.
Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing
families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our
encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.
From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the
media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every
relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City.
Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all
those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded
they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking
feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to
Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City)
was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped
out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming,
"Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the
wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we
retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.
Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the
law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or
congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of
"victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our
"we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would
force us into small atomized groups.
In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we
scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the
dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway
on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but
equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs
with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.
The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made
contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually
airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped
off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National
Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response
of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of
their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were
unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.
We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had
begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in
a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while
George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After
being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San
There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief
effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large
field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the
buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us
were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who
managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings
in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different
Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been
confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal
detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women,
children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be
"medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any
This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm,
heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one
airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers
on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.
Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and
There was more suffering than need be.
Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.
It includes tick-tacs like:
GOP leaders are firing back after attacks on President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says the attacks "go over the line."
Damn, man, they aren't even getting out of the parking lot to even get close to the fucking line yet.
And House Speaker Dennis Hastert says there's a huge recovery job ahead, and politicians can -- in his words -- "either join in" or "stand aside and criticize."
Or go to a fundraiser
When was the President informed, warned by the National Hurricane Center or other agencies, that Katrina was a hurricane that could overtop the levees in New Orleans?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I appreciate you wanting to get into some of the factual tick-tock questions and things of that nature. I think we were keeping you updated throughout that time period, and if you remember, there were a number of people that, Monday, felt that the initial storm, which was the hurricane hitting the coast and then hitting the New Orleans area and Mississippi and Alabama and parts of Florida, that at that point, that New Orleans may be -- well, the flooding had not come at that point. And many people were talking about how --
Q You're the federal government -- if you want to get into tick-tock, the Army Corps of Engineers knew Monday morning that the 17th Street flood wall along that canal had given way. My question is different, it's about getting prepared for that.
MR. McCLELLAN: A lot of the media reports coming out.... A lot of the media reports that were coming out Monday, Monday night, Tuesday morning were expressing that it had missed the massive flooding that some had projected in a worst-case scenario.
Q The President of the United States was getting his information about this major disaster from the media?
Factual tick-tock? What does that mean exactly? Anybody?
And Scotty boy, c'mon, it's the news, I hope they want the factual tick-tock instead of the garbage you've been feeding them for the last 3 years.
Oh wait, there's more:
Q Scott, you talk about looking ahead, and on that point, why should the American people have confidence? If another disaster strikes and they hear you from that podium say that the federal authorities, FEMA is working closely with state and local officials to address all the concerns on the ground, why should the American people have confidence in that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let's, first of all, hope that nothing like this ever happens again in our lifetime.
There you have it -- let's hope. Amen, Scotty boy, amen.
11:21 P.M. - (AP): A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman says the agency has hired a contractor to help remove bodies in New Orleans.
The decision was made with the expectation that there may be large numbers of corpses. But the spokesman says other than "guesswork," nobody has any numbers about the number of deaths.
I have passed cynicism and have gone straight to politics as usual: Haliburton anyone?
It's sad that I even think that political bodies are going to make out during this horrible time, but we do have precedance and I wouldn't put it past our sorry state of an administration.
It wasn't the moving images (one out of hundreds) that brought us back. Nor was it the insightful and passionate posts by the folks at Americablog, dailykos, or c&l. It wasn't the sounds of a nation slipping quietly into that good night. It wasn't the arrogance or incompetence or even the disgusting lack of common sense or compassion. It wasn't the desperate pleas or the raw emotion. Shit, it wasn't even the lies.
It was a dream.
I don't mean like "I have a dream" dream. I mean a sleep-deprived, coffee induced, watching MSM coverage 48 hours straight, fitful surreal dream where if I were on drugs, I would be able to go "whoa" and that would be the end of it. But I wasn't. And it didn't. It stuck with me all day, like the bitter taste of chewing aspirin.
I met a man lounging outside a building and he was holding a simple can of beans. He held it up for me to view and said, "I'm not buying these beans from that corporation anymore. This is a protest. This is a boycott."
Yeah, ok, I replied.
"But, the thing is I love these beans and really want to eat them, ya know? I heard there might be a recipe out there on the net that can get the taste of these beans without me having to buy them from that damn corporation."
Yeah, ok, I replied. You know this is a dream, cause in real life I would have kicked him in the nuts by now. Instead he makes to his feet and we stalk upstairs to the computer. In front of the computer is a mound of black ash. The closer we get, I realize it is not just a mound, it's a pile of bones, flesh, a twisted semblance of a person. And then I see it. It's a person who had burned himself alive in protest of something. The Buddhist setting himself on fire.
I'm coming back to this forum to add my voice again because I don't know what else to do.
That's not quite true. I am volunteering at the red cross, fundraising, and planning a Habitat for Humanity trip. But.... let me back up.
I am coming back because brain treppanning is not an option.
I was speaking with someone today who said writing is crap. No one reads anymore. There is so much noise, so much bullshit, so much static and propaganda that people just tune it out and it's time to get in people's faces again. It's time to make things personal and voice these things so people can't ignore them.
I am in Ohio and work at a state university. For the past 8 days the headlines have gushed "hypnotist coming to campus" and highlighted in depth stories about the "cigarette tax". Today the first story on Katrina was in the opinion pages. The opinion pages! The worst natural disaster to ever hit the country and this university paper implicitly says that the most important story for students include a guy who fuckin' gets other 18 year olds to act like chickens on stage? It's disgusting.
And the university itself was just as bad. For days I emailed my boss, the faculty list proc., the faculty senate, the provost's office, begging for information on how we as a community were going to respond. I offered my help in planning or implementation, and the only response I got for 7 days (7 GD DAYS) was "we might have a table at our campus picnic, hold tight". WTF? I started a collection on my own. On the 8th day I received an email with some "plans" that had been developed. That was it. Nothing for me to do. Hold tight. Sit on your hands. The bureaucracy was alive and well and would handle things.
Then my 7 year old daughter, who was born in Baton Rouge, asked what she could do; we urged her to explore a way to help in her school (Catholic, by the way) or with friends. She found an old pretzel jar and had the idea of collecting donations at school. She included six dollars of her own. Their response? Thanks but no thanks. She was told her class couldn't collect money for the Katrina victims because it would be too hard for the teacher to count the funds and the school and church wants their people to react "in their own way". They told her "we'll write cards and letters to the victims". Mydaughterr, to her credit, said "they need food and water" and they told her, "oh no, they have food and water now."
Who can I hit over the head with newspaper headlines? How dare they lie to her? How dare they lie to her. And to add insult to injury, they handed her $6 donation back to her. She could only understand this as a rejection of her help.
What's up with these fucking people? I don't get it.
So now I'm drinking red-eyes and watching the news and reading the blogs and going crazy wondering why the hell isn't every-fucking-person and organization in this country talking about and doing something; discussing and analyzing what is going on in my beloved country; examining what the fuck is not going on down south and why? I want to see Emerill fucking making crepes and drinking Community Coffee and telling his big-butt frapicino drinking viewers that shit is going on down there and lay it out for them. I want to see the schools talking about it, businesses and organizations sending out updates and ways to get involved, leaders of all types urging their people to get wake up and look at the utter devastation.
Chef has been reborn -- I'm now Rum and I plan on burning a little on the way down.
But first the question must be asked: Can we get back to big brother, man? Shit, can we please get back to playing Halo? Please?
Where the hell are the matches?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
FEMA: better known as Fix Everything My Ass!
Thanks for all the help guys, I was really getting tired of those firefighters grabbing my ass and callin' me 'honey' all the time... I'm glad our government is busy addressing the important issues...I'd like to give 'em a pat on the back, but I don't know if that's still PC...
MR. McCLELLAN: The President's most important responsibility is the safety and security of the American people. He talks about that often.
Well, if talk couldn't stop the hurricane, maybe we should drop a bomb on it?
You get the feeling that Michael Brown over at FEMA has already moved his stuff out of his office? Think he has his resume out there already?
this is more from yesterday's presser at the White House --
Q Well, the President has said that this government can do many things at once: It can fight the war on terror, it can do operations in Iraq, and aid and comfort people in Louisiana. Can it not also find time to begin to hold people accountable? It sounds, Scott, as if the line that you're giving us -- which is, you don't want to answer questions about accountability because there's too much busy work going on --
MR. McCLELLAN: Wrong. No, wrong.
Q -- is a way of ducking accountability.
MR. McCLELLAN: You don't want to take away from the efforts that are going on right now. And if you start getting into that now, you're pulling people out that are helping with the ongoing response, Terry. Not at all. The President made it very clear, I'm going to lead this effort and we're going to make sure we find out what the facts were and what went wrong and what went right. But you don't want to divert resources away from an ongoing response to a major catastrophe. And this is a major catastrophe that we -- and we must remain focused on saving lives and sustaining lives and planning for the long-term. And that's what we're doing.
Q And there are people in Louisiana and Mississippi who are doing that job very well. Your job is to answer the questions.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I have.
Q By saying you won't answer.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, by saying that there's a time to look at those issues, but now is not the time, Terry.
Huh? Remember the controversy about the flag-draped coffins coming home from Iraq and how someone leaked a picture and the government freaked out. "Huh? No one died. No. No coffins here." Well, well, well.
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. government agency leading the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from the flooded New Orleans area.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, heavily criticized for its slow response to the devastation caused by the hurricane, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims.
What is it about "MY FREEEEKIN HOUSE IS GONE AND WE'RE HAVING TO EAT THE DAMN DOG" don't these people get??
|Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA |
As the ever-pretty Anderson Cooper said the other night--if now isn't a good time to find out what when wrong, just let me get out my day planner and you can tell me when. We'll set up a meeting.
Man, if only we could stop hurricanes by dropping bombs on them.
Take a listen -- My Fellow Americans