Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why They Hate Us

A brutally truthful slideshow answering the questioin of "why they hate us" with photographs culled from history books and the news.

The answer is, frankly, "so would you."

Jack Shoots Back - New web ad speaks out against Presidential Wiretapping.

Via Turn Tahoe Blue:

Here is the latest web-exclusive ad by Nevada's voice to Washington, Jack Carter. Sven comments:

American values are essentially Nevada values and nothing is more important to many Nevadans than liberty and freedom.
Now, I've lived in Nevada ten years ago and it is kind of strange to see that it is a Democrat who has to say "I don't want any President deciding on his own to wiretap me and my family". Back then any good Republican would have been appalled at any President doing such a thing, especially those in Nevada. Back then no Republican would have expected a President of his own party to infringe on the liberty and freedom of the American people like this President has done.

As I've mentioned, I support Jack Carter, and while I do think he'd make a damn fine Nevada senator, because he's got the chops to be a damn fine WORKING Senator. He is, bluntly, everything Ensign isn't and can't imagine being. Carter is wisely, and I think genuinely placing himself as a reasonable centrist who pays attention to the concerns of the little guy, while having the background to whip out a graphing calculator and run the numbers. The fact that he's neck and neck with Ensign without spending anywhere near the same money points out his effectiveness in person.

CLEARLY, we need people in Washington who can figure out what the financial impact of some whizbang gizmatron or tax reform might be - clearly something no neocon can do. (Reality-checking ain't a big part of their faith...)

So even if you aren't a Nevada Voter, throwing him a few bucks is a wise investment in the future of the nation. Even if you happen to be a Republican; he's a fiscal conservative and a civil libertarian, which is a very respectable sort of old-fashioned sort of Republicanism.

If you are a "vote for the man, not the party" sort; it's truly a no-brainier; even if Carter were not such a good candidate, Sen Exxon is such an appalling waste of space that the decision is obvious. Fortunately, this is not a choice between the lesser of two evils. Carter has the stuff to be a brilliant senator, and I frankly hope his ambitions stop right there.

You can donate to the Carter campaign here, Via Act Blue

The Corrupt Bastards Club (Alaska Chapter)

LieparDestin reports from Alaska about an unholy alliance between an oil and gas company and several Alaska legislators - with direct ties to Sen Ted "Tubes" Stevens.

Sen. Stevens himself has been the subject of a federal visitation.

*Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the longstanding relationship between the oil-field service company Veco and leading lawmakers.

*The Offices of Senate President Ben Stevens (son of Ted 'Tubes' Stevens) and Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery where searched, as well as Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, the chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas. And Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, and Sen. Donny Olson of Nome. Kott, a former House speaker, and Weyhrauch are Republicans. Olson is the only Democrat in the group.

*In disclosures he was required to file as a legislator, Stevens said he was paid $243,000 over the last five years as a "consultant" to Veco. Whenever he was asked to describe what he did for the money, Stevens refused to answer. The company also refused to say.

*Warrants were executed in Girdwood, where Ted Stevens has a home and offices.

*Agents left Stevens' Capitol office Thursday evening with 12 boxes of documents labeled "Evidence" and loaded them into a vehicle waiting them outside.

*In 1985 just a few years after the company had emerged from bankruptcy and boosted its political involvement, Veco was fined more than $72,000 for a scheme that funneled secret donations to a select slate of candidates through an employee payroll deduction plan

*One of VECO President Pete Leathard's sons, Scott, is on the Ted Steven's Staff.


A specific item named in the search for seizure: "Any physical garments (including hats) bearing any of the following logos or phrases: `CBC,' `Corrupt Bastards Club,' `Corrupt Bastards Caucus,' `VECO.'"

LieparDestin notes: "The Corrupt Bastards Club started as a barroom joke last spring among Alaska legislators whose names were linked to large campaign contributions from oil field services company VECO Corp. Hilarious right? This is STRANGELY SIMILAR to Cunningham and Wilkes joking about being in 'The Poway Mafia'. But thats not the only similarity between the scandals, as you've probably noticed."

My little sidelight to this is the observation that the FBI is actually going after these people, no doubt over the objections of the White House, where Oil and Gas lubricates everything. Is this evidence of a rank-and-file revolt at the FBI? If so, the President's hopes of creating a proper totalitarian state are definitely under threat.
Hm. Does this qualify as an "October Surprise?"

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wiretap suit supoenas to be served on Bush, Others.

There's been rumblings about this for a couple of weeks. Now it's live. AP and Raw Story report:

Lawyers Seeking White House Records:

"NEW YORK — A pair of public interest lawyers said Tuesday they plan to subpoena the White House for any documents showing whether the Bush administration approved a secret program to examine the phone records of millions of Americans.

New Jersey attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran represent more than two dozen people who have sued Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., claiming the telecommunications companies violated privacy laws by turning over phone records to the National Security Agency."

Raw Story has the actual subpoena. and some additional details.

Two attorneys--one a former Green Party nominee for Senate--earlier told RAW STORY that the subpoenaes, which may be read below, have already been dispatched, and should be arriving at the White House in the coming days. Aside from their accounts, RAW STORY cannot yet verify that the documents were actually sent.

However, authorities in New Jersey have confirmed that activist attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, who say they represent hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against Verizon, have both been licensed to practice law in the state since 1986. Both are also widely known to be attached to the case.

The subpoenaes, directed to President George Bush, the White House Office of Legal Counsel, the Department of Justice, and the Chief Legal Counsel for Verizon, seek a variety of information regarding "any ongoing or continuing, policy, contract, transaction, continuing transfer of data or records or other similar or analogous arrangement or understanding" betwen the US government and Verizon, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, BellSouth, Cellco, Sprint and Sprint Nextel.

Please note, these supoenas are aimed directly at information related to actual crimes. As this story breaks, pay especial attention to White House distraction and spin.

You should also keep your ear to the ground for preparation for extra-constitutional actions such as martial law and the postponement of the elections, as a means of forestalling impeachment proceedings and possible criminal actions against members of the Administration.

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Rare Ringtailed Tubthumper reported in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ross Anderson speaks at massive rally on the occasion of a visit by President Bush, Secretary Rice, and Secretary Rumsfeld to Salt Lake City. | Text of Mayor Anderson's speech:

"Address by Mayor Ross C. 'Rocky' Anderson
Washington Square
Salt Lake City, Utah
August 30, 2006"

In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and, I might remind everyone, a Republican, who said:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right."
President Roosevelt continued: "Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President,"—listen up Utah Republicans and James Evans, and all the good Republicans listening today—"or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing"—President Roosevelt didn't stop there—"but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Those were the words of Teddy Roosevelt, a great president who knew the true meaning of patriotism.

We are here today as truth-tellers.

And we are here to demand: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"

We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth, that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.

We have been getting just about everything but the truth on matters of life and death, on matters upon which our nation's reputation hinges, on matters that directly relate to our nation's most fundamental values, and on matters relating to the survival of our planet.

In the process, our nation has engaged in a tragic, unnecessary war, based upon categorically false justifications. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed — and many more have been seriously maimed, brain damaged, or rendered mentally ill. Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our unjustified, illegal invasion and occupation of a Muslim nation.

What incredible ineptitude and callousness for our President to talk about a Crusade while lying to us to make a case for the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country!"

Now THAT's the spirit of Western Politics! That's the stuff of a John Ford walk down main street.

I doubt anyone has spoken to Shrub like that since... well, since the last time his mother did.

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Race Baiting reveals Race-Based Career.

George Allen, scraping the Bottom of the Gene Pool

Beyond Macaca: The Photograph That Haunts George Allen

Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.
Photo credit: Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the CCC, at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.

According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.

So, when George Allan used the term "Macaca" to single out S.R. Sidarth as a "Macaca" or monkey, Allan was speaking directly to his base. "Welcome to Virginia and the Real World." It's surprising that he didn't have his thumb tucked in his waistband with three fingers extended to make a K. That's Klan gang sign, by the by.

Oh, here's the Conservative Citizen's Council's "Statement of Principles," which we can now assume George embraces.

We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

Take another look at those products of multi-generational inbreeding above. Can you imagine a better illustration of the price of a shallow gene pool?

But make no mistake; Allen has a long history of pandering to these people, whether or not he actually is a racist himself. Why? It's politics at it's cheapest; so long as makes sure black ambitions are frustrated and he opposes symbolic recognitions of non-white contributions, he doesn't need to make positive promises to his constituancy. They woun't be pestering him about minimum wage issues, or tax relief or better schools - just so long as black folk want those things, they are against them on principle.

Stupid and self-defeating? Of course. They are racists; that's part of the package.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm dragging her out of my woodpile and claiming my heritage.

I'm bumping this back up to the top for today.

Today; an entire YEAR after Katrina, I'm too outraged to speak without spitting. Sorry about your monitor.

Today, Greg Palast told me that it's possible, even probable that this disaster was planned to happen as it did, and that George Herbert Walker Bush is counting on my being "white" and New Orleans being "black" to make me indifferent.

Today, I listened to Democracy Now and learned that the common experience of black surviors dealing with FEMA and other relief groups was to be treated like rotting garbage.

Today, I learned that it took weeks and months to pick up corpses, when people - citizens and taxpayers - were begging and pleading. I learned that undamaged public housing is still closed, to prevent residents from returning to help rebuild New Orleans.


How do you like them family values, folks?

Do you want your grandchildren to think you were OK with this? That you were DOWN with the ethnic cleansing of the Gulf Coast?

Are you proud of how your tax dollars are being spent in your name, on this new, NeoConservative, big-box Theocratic Southern Strategy?


Are you PROUD of your representatives? Are you HAPPY with what they have accomplished in a year to deal with this issue? Or maybe, just maybe you might be a TEENSY bit concerned about what might happen to you if you don't happen to live in an upperclass, gated community with private police that votes solid Republican.

There were a lot of poor white folks that got flushed into Lake Ponchetrain to give them some plausible deniability. THAT is why, if you got out, you got out on your own, and if you survived, it was because of your own efforts. They were betting that the law of averages and demographics would take care of their "problem", if they just took care of not helping everyone equally.

Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That's right. It's missing. Maybe it got wet and sank in the flood. Whatever: no one can find it.

That's real bad. Here's the key thing about a successful emergency evacuation plan: you have to have copies of it. Lots of copies -- in fire houses and in hospitals and in the hands of every first responder. Secret evacuation plans don't work.

I know, I worked on the hurricane evacuation plan for Long Island New York, an elaborate multi-volume dossier.

Specifically, I'm talking about the plan that was written, or supposed to have been written two years ago by a company called, "Innovative Emergency Management."

Weird thing about IEM, their founder Madhu Beriwal, had no known experience in hurricane evacuations. She did, however, have a lot of experience in donating to Republicans.

Now, who's doing the disaster planning for YOUR town, YOUR neighborhood? Are your neighbors the sort of folk that would be welcome at a George Bush rally? Because if they are not, you can forget about getting any help from this government.

Ethnic cleansing is the ONLY cleansing our patriotic self-appointed Patriarchs, our "Bible Believing" lords and masters have accomplished. The people are gone but the corpses and debris remain.

Illustration accompanying the story Judge Roy Moore Suspended Over Commandments Monument in the August 27, 2003 edition of "The Birminghamster" (Alabama's Great Equalizer). Found via flickr & Creative Commons

I think it's time to grab Judge Roy's granite statue of the Ten Commandments and ram it up their electoral college.

Think I'm taking this awful personal, for a white man? Fucking AFFIRMATIVE I am!

My skin may be very, very pale, but like most plain folk in this nation, "there's a nigger in the woodpile."

My great, great grand-aunt was an octoroon. "A High Yaller;" she could "pass" and mostly she did until Mother was unwise enough to mention the Macaque in the Family Tree. It was far too late, as I'd apparently already been conceived. I also apparently survived a near-miscarriage, that may or may not be related to spousal abuse that occurred after my father learned that bit of genealogical trivia.
You wouldn't think that would make any difference to me, or anyone, as I'm so white that I nearly flourece. But it did make a difference, and I take this as personally as if it were my city, as if these were sins aimed directly at me and mine.

I do take it personally because, well, they are. I have actually been the target of racism. You know what my father said to me one day?

"I'd have never married your mother if I'd known she was a nigger."

He wasn't even drunk at the time!

Did it occur to him that if she was a nigger in his eyes, I must be one too? Frankly, I don’t think he cared what a ten year-old nigger thought. I will tell you, folks; a great deal of my childhood the way he treated me and continued to treat me until I could put a stop to it came clear that day!

Oh, the tales of B'rer Rabbit spoke to me directly, and I had cause to put every trick in them to use, just to make it to my majority. Don’t nobody ever bad-mouth Uncle Tom to me, he taught me how to survive!

I've seen the face of evil. I have lived with it; I know the stench. Today my nostrils are full of it.

It is the face of stupidity, of xenophobia, of ignorance. Racism is the foul idea that some trivial different makes it ok to hate, to lie, to steal, to deal unjustly; to betray every principle of decency, every authentic Christian value and think you have a moral right to immunity for the consequences of your personal evil and the evil you condone.

That is really how racists think - if I may use the term loosely. They believe everyone who looks like them THINKS like them, no matter what those say or beliefs they claim, they cannot understand the possibility that anything matters more than race. They think that nobody will ever call them to account for an injustice dealt a person they think less than themselves.

And having lived with a racist, I'll tell you - they can find some reason to think the less of anyone they care to, anyone at all that they might otherwise have some moral duty toward.

They they would rather spend five hundred bucks to keep someone down than to give five to help that person up. They would rather piss in their own well than give a thirsty man a drink; I know, I have seen it. I have lived with it - and I lived with it as a literal slave, beaten literally if I objected.

From this day forward I will count myself with the part of my heritage that I have no reason to be ashamed of. I will not be complacent about what happens to "My people," even if every "true white amurikun patriot" calls me a nigger. Insults from people that willfully evil are to me like the very praise of heaven. If I'm to be pigeonholed by the tiny minded, I'd rather be in the same box as Dr. King.

Bob King is my chosen handle. It's no accident. Dr. King has been my hero since I heard "I have a dream" come through the speakers of that old tube radio in my bedroom.

I don't want to use my legal last name, for I share it with Lord Lucan, and I believe at least one current or former chaplain of the Orange Order. It's not exactly a name to conjure with, in my mind. "Better a King than a fool."

My father thought he was better than Martin Luther King because MLK was black. For myself, I think Martin Luther King, the majority of the human race; most primates and even some bacteria contribute more to humanity as a whole than a racist of any stripe.

To believe that the color of one's skin counts for more than the "content of one's character" is to prove you have none, know that you don't and hate, fear and envy everyone who does. No number of guns, inbred losers in sheets, no bribe nor threat, no appeal to authority or biblical "proof" can convince me to have truck with such evil.

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Did I read this right? Islam, the liberalism of the future?

Back to the future: the cartoons, liberalism, and global Islam Faisal Devji - openDemocracy:

"Back to the future: the cartoons, liberalism, and global Islam
Faisal Devji
13 - 4 - 2006
Muslim protests over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed mark the arrival of a force challenging liberal democracy from the future: a global Islam that is inventing new forms of ethical and political practice for a global arena. Faisal Devji, author of 'Landscapes of the Jihad', maps the trajectory of this ultra-modern phenomenon."
This is a great, if long think-piece, and raises a number of intricately interrelated points that make it difficult to lift a quote.

I liked it, it made me think. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree, but it made me think, and I really, really like that.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shakespeare's Sister - Katrina Blogswarm Roundup.

Shakespeare's Sister: Blogswarm Round-up:

Royally Kranked / I’m Not One to Blog, But… / Night Bird’s Fountain / Amberglow at MetaFilter / Fluxview / Changing Places / Grumpy Old Man / Morning Martini / What Do I Know? / A Blog Around the Clock / After the Bridge / Swampytad / Rusty Idols / The Science Pundit / Harp and Sword / Mike the Mad Biologist / Momusfire / The Crazy Bird / The Psychotic Patriot (and here) / Truth, Justice & Peace / Stephenson Strategies / Konagod / Paul Krugman (provided by C&L) / BlondeSense / Driftglass / Gideon Starorzewski / The Talent Show / Mike’s Neighborhood / Pen-Elayne on the Web / Mockingbird’s Medley / Bark Bark Woof Woof / Progressive Purls / Booman Tribune / TalkLeft / The Intersection / Stranger Fruit / Poor Impulse Control / Quaker Agitator (and here) / Blue Gal / Talking Points Memo / Hughes for America / Brilliant at Breakfast / Aetiology / Legal Fiction / 300 Dollar Wonder / Drifting Through the Grift / Property of a Lady / HuffPo / Corpus Callosum / The Unknown Candidate / The Tattered Coat / 1115 / The Last Duchess / Facing South / True Blue Liberal / Demagogue / The Daily Background / Think Progress / Thoughts from an Empty Head / Afarensis / Life and Times of NotSoccer Mom / Thoughts from Kansas / Blanton’s and Ashton’s / State of the Day / Article of Faith / The Rude Pundit / The Katrinacrat Blog / The Democratic Daily / A DC Birding Blog / Zen Comix / Liberal Catnip / Firedoglake / First Draft / Left I on the News / The Left Coaster / The Garlic / Puffs and White China Dogs / Linkmeister / Bitty’s Back Porch / Thinking Meat / Lab Cat / Notes Toward Something / The Aristocrats / Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge / The Evil Petting Zoo / This Space for Rent / Pushing Rope / And This Too Shall Pass… / 2 Political Junkies / Balls and Walnuts / Attempts / Globalclashes / Terra Sigillata / Club Lefty / Off the Broiler / The Left End of the Dial / Dynamics of Cats / Man Eegee / Kevin Wolf / Pam’s House Blend / The Brad Blog / The Moderate Voice / The Reaction / TBogg / Blah3 / AlterNet Video Blog / Mahablog / Liberal Oasis / The Carpetbagger Report / Nihilix

Only those with cars allowed to leave...

t r u t h o u t - Paramedics: Police Prevent People from Leaving New Orleans

If you have managed to avoid reading firsthand accounts until now - read this one now. Then tell me this wasn't the result of policy and pre-planning.

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

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

Gretna: New synonym for shame.

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Katrina - Disaster Planned, or Planning Disaster?

I usually check my email often enough, but seems I still miss things. Nonetheless, check this out.

I was going to edit this down, because there's something a little amateurish about simply reposting a press release, but frankly, the whole thing makes me too upset to start thinking about what to cut out, so I won't. Nice thing about press releases - no problems with "fair comment" copyright issues! Besides, let's not pretend I'm an actual reporter. I'm a commentator and analyist. When I calm down some, and a few more facts come to light, I'll get around to saying something about this myself.

Speaking in that capacity, good investigative journalists are worth supporting. And there's a fact here that I suppose I should point out, unrelated to the story itself.

Did you note how this information is being routed around the mainstream media? A scoop like this - just might swing some demographics to LinkTV. And Greg himself is becoming the go-to guy for leaking something so loudly and pre-emptively that retribution becomes pointless, and possibly even the focus of another investigation.

Greg Palast is becoming the new Morely Safer; the old, "Hello, we're from 60 Minutes and we'd like to ask you a few questions" effect. You know, when you could almost literally see the victim piss their pants on air.

So here's your free market in information at work. There is clearly still a good rep and a good living to be made comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.


A Greg Palast special investigation for Democracy Now!

Monday, August 28. From New Orleans.

DON'T blame the Lady. Katrina killed no one in this town. In fact, Katrina missed the city completely, going wide to the east.

It wasn't the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.

Here's the story you haven't been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it.

Van Heerden isn't the typical whistleblower I usually deal with. This is no minor player. He's the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. He's the top banana in the field -- no one knew more about how to save New Orleans from a hurricane's devastation. And no one was a bigger target of an official and corporate campaign to bury the information.

Here's what happened. Right after Katrina swamped the city, I called Washington to get a copy of the evacuation plan.

Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That's right. It's missing. Maybe it got wet and sank in the flood. Whatever: no one can find it.

That's real bad. Here's the key thing about a successful emergency evacuation plan: you have to have copies of it. Lots of copies -- in fire houses and in hospitals and in the hands of every first responder. Secret evacuation plans don't work.

I know, I worked on the hurricane evacuation plan for Long Island New York, an elaborate multi-volume dossier.

Specifically, I'm talking about the plan that was written, or supposed to have been written two years ago by a company called, "Innovative Emergency Management."

Weird thing about IEM, their founder Madhu Beriwal, had no known experience in hurricane evacuations. She did, however, have a lot of experience in donating to Republicans.

IEM and FEMA did begin a draft of a plan. The plan was that, when a hurricane hit, everyone in the Crescent City would simply get the hell out in their cars. Apparently, the IEM/FEMA crew didn't know that 127,000 people in the city didn't have cars. But Dr. van Heerden knew that. It was his calculation. LSU knew where these no-car people were -- they mapped it -- and how to get them out.

Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn't touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden's position. This official now works for IEM.

So I asked him what happened as a result of making no plans for those without wheels, a lot of them elderly and most of them poor.

"Fifteen-hundred of them drowned. That's the bottom line." The professor, who'd been talking to me in technicalities, changed to a somber tone. "They're still finding corpses."

Van Heerden is supposed to keep his mouth shut. He won't. The deaths weigh on him. "I wasn't going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down."

Van Heerden had other disturbing news. The Hurricane Center's computer models showed the federal government had built the levees around the city a foot-and-a-half too short.

After Katrina, the Hurricane Center analyzed the flooding and found that, had the levees had just that extra 18 inches, they would have been "overtopped" for only an hour and a half, not four hours. In that case, the levees would have held, and the city would have been saved.

He had taken the warning about the levees all the way to George Bush's doorstep. "I myself briefed senior officials including somebody from the White House." The response: the university's trustees threatened his job.

While in Baton Rouge, I dropped in on the headquarters of IEM, the evacuation contractors. The assistant to the CEO insisted they had "a lot of experience with evacuation" -- but couldn't name a single city they'd planned for when they got the Big Easy contract. And still, they couldn't produce the plan.

An IEM press release in June 2004 boasted legendary expert James Lee Witt as a member of their team. That was impressive. It was also a lie. In fact, Witt had nothing to do with it. When I asked IEM point blank if Witt's name was used as a fraudulent hook to get the contract, their spokeswoman said, weirdly, "We'll get back to you on that."

Back at LSU, van Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all. While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more than a thousand people, would drown.

Van Heerden said, "FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o'clock that the levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew ...I was at the State Emergency Operations Center." Because the hurricane had missed the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped, assuming the city had survived.

It's been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city's former residents, remain in temporary refuges. "The City That Care Forgot" -- that's their official slogan -- lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, "The City That Bush Forgot."

Should they come home? Rebuild? Is it safe? Team Bush assures them there's nothing to worry about: FEMA won't respond to van Heerden's revelations. However, the Bush Administration has hired a consulting firm to fix the failed evacuation plan. The contractor? A Baton Rouge company named "Innovative Emergency Management." IEM.

Watch this special investigative report about Katrina on Democracy Now! this morning or hear it on your local Pacifica or NPR station. You can also download it at

And catch the one-hour special report, "Who Drowned New Orleans?" on LinkTV, with Greg Palast in New Orleans plus an exclusive interview with Amy Goodman. (Get it on Direct TV channel 375 and Dish TV channel 9410. Or check your cable listing at

And for more on IEM and Katrina, read Greg Palast's new NYT bestseller, "
Armed Madhouse" (Penguin 2006).

A Jacquie Soohen BigNoise Films Production, produced by Matt Pascarella.

And very, very, special thanks to our Associate Producers on this particular story -- without their generosity and financial support this report would not have been possible.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

The consequences of a binary ethos.



Fr William Johnston SJ is based at Sophia University in Tokyo.

"For this uncompromising attitude which is basically religious – common to traditional Judaism, Christianity and Islam – extends to the whole of Western thinking; and it played its part in the annihilation of Hiroshima. Think of the Second World War. The stance of the Allied powers could be summed up as: "We want unconditional surrender. We are good and our enemies are evil. We will have no truck with evil. We will have no negotiation, no dialogue, no talking, no mercy." The result was the carpet bombing of the German cities and the terrible destruction of Japan. Men, women, children and animals died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even the mosquitoes were wiped out. In the fire bombing of Tokyo 100,000 people, almost all civilians, died.

No one in any official position apologised for Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and it would be idle to deny the existence of the same uncompromising mentality today. "No negotiation with terrorists" is the slogan. "We are good: terrorists are evil. Anyone who harbours a terrorist or shows any understanding will pay the price. Shoot to kill! Show no mercy!" And (horror of horrors!) this attitude often has the blessing of religious authorities.

Now the frightening thing is that the Islamic fundamentalists who destroyed the Twin Towers have the same way of thinking. They, too, believe they are pitted against evil. They want to destroy the corrupt Western civilisation. They want no negotiation and they will consider no dialogue. They will show no mercy. They will die rather than compromise. It is no secret that they are working might and main to get weapons of mass destruction. For them the attacks in New York and Washington were only the first step.

And so we are faced with a very terrible confrontation. Is there any answer?

I find it difficult to see an answer for the immediate future; but for the distant future there is surely an answer.

The answer, the only answer, is dialogue and friendship between the religions, a dialogue in which the religions will challenge one another, lead one another to conversion of heart and help one another get away from fanatical fundamentalism. Through these means we will all find our authentic roots in love and compassion. Bernard Lonergan rightly says that all true religion is based on love; and he maintains that religious conversion is conversion to love. "


Originally uploaded by eduardo.delabarra.

An example of the sheer, inhuman depravity of those of Un-American decent!

That was sarcasm.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Timeline of Moral Failure

Maureen Farrell: Tired of Being Lied to? Modern History You Can't Afford to Ignore

If the Administration were really serious about Homeland Security, what would they do?

The Gun Toting Liberal » Blog Archive » Border (in)security: Iranian terrorists infiltrating United States by strolling across porous Mexico-U.S. border:
"It is simply SHAMEFUL that our Government cares so little about it’s people that it harrasses them at the airports, wiretaps their private phone calls, data mines their Internets surfing, spies on them to make certain they aren’t “terr’ists”, and monitors their phone records while turning a blinded eye to our borders. Hell, it’s not even just “shameful”, it’s frigging TREASONOUS!"

Yeah, well, we kinda knew that already. Because everything they have been doing is idiotic from a national security standpoint, but makes real good sense if you want to set up a totalitarian state with a subclass of imported wage-slaves.

More on this later, methinks.

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Whiskey Bar: Goodbye Columbus

Whiskey Bar: Goodbye Columbus

I just read this. If you haven't, you are missing some great writing.

Pat Buchanan and I agree on very few things, but he wrote something many years ago that I can endorse wholeheartedly: "America was a great country before she was a rich country." In many ways a greater country, I would probably add -- not because she was poor (if you've seen real poverty, Third World poverty, you know there's nothing to admire about it) but because she stood a little less apart from the rest of humanity, and had to rely a little more heavily on the promises inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, rather than power of her aircraft carriers, to impress the world.

What I saw in Jimmy John's hot dog stand was the ghost of an America I used to know -- a land of little guys looking for a place to build something. Of strong unions and good-paying jobs that didn't require a PhD. Of black and white televisions where you could watch the cheesiest ads imaginable. Of corner drug stores and transistor radios and long evenings spent sitting on the front porch, talking to the neighbors.

This is starting to sound like a middle-aged nostalgia festival, and I guess it is, at least in part. But it's not that I've forgotten about the ugly side of Jimmy John's world -- the racism and the homophobia, the anti-communist paranoia and atomic nightmares, the nervous social conformity, suffocating gender stereotypes and boring white bread culture of pre-'60s America. There aren't any black or brown faces on the walls of Jimmy John's hot dog stand, and no trace of exposure to other cultures or lifestyles save those of small-town America. It isn't a world I would want to live in.

But the America on Jimmy John's walls, while far from perfect, at least believed in the possibility of its own improvement. It accepted -- if only out of lingering memories of the Great Depression -- the need for a certain degree of social justice. It distrusted wealth and corporate power and believed, perhaps too much, in the ability of government to help the little guy. It actually thought democracy could work.

It's hard to go beyond "ditto" with this, but I will try.

When you think about it, that hot-dog stand represents something we all miss and seek desperately; a sense of community and of belonging.

When we don't make the effort to create community, to reach out to our neighbors, to remind each other that while we may have our differences, we would nonetheless be the poorer for having no-one to argue with over a beer.

The flip-side of community is xenophobia, a concentration on and fear of difference - usually obvious and superficial differences, with the worst aspects of our own subconscious night terrors projected upon the stranger, who equals danger.

Republicans like to focus on the family as the basic unit of our nation. I don't entirely disagree, but unless that family is a working part of a relevant community, it's just a spare part looking for a place to be.

To the extent you insist on building exclusionary communities - no blacks, no gays, no poor people, no liberals, no Jews, no Muslims, no "weird people," you end up with a community that is so determinedly irrelevant to the culture as a whole that simple communication becomes impossible, because the same language carries entirely different meanings.

Positive community - based on the understanding that you invest effort in to making the community better and helping those in need when you can - avoids that problem. It diminishes the danger of difference by creating bonds. For strangers are dangerous, especially hungry strangers who are insulted by exclusion. Suddenly their xenophobia kicks in - and where YOU see danger, THEY see opportunity - and a fat white man, a well-padded wallet and a natural opportunity to express one's Inner Robin Hood.

Community forestalls that. One does not prey upon one's own.

Now, this is by no means an argument for socialism - in many ways, socialism transfers wealth without creating any more bonds of community.

Nor is this an argument for "faith based community." I'm a humanist first - and so was Jesus. "Faith Based" has become a code-phrase for who will not be helped, or in the slightly more liberal "faith based" operations, what conditions will be imposed in return for help.

Mean-spiritedness in the midst of plenty, coupled by an automatic assumption that "broke" equals "useless" is a ticket to... well, right where we are now.

MY ethos states that there is no such thing as a valueless human being. It's the duty of a community to make a place for them, so that the community benefits as a whole.

And to get back to Billmons excellent post sparked by the history of one man and his hot-dog stand, that is exactly what Jimmy-John did. He valued every employee he'd ever had, every customer, and he passed that ethos on.

I don't really care what his religion or his politics were, and it just doesn't matter, because actions and results speak far louder than words.

This is how you make a difference. Not by great plans, grand alliances and sweeping changes. The drama only happens when the ground is prepared. And sometimes all it takes to prepare that ground is a hot-dog and a smile of welcome.

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Anne, your 15 Minutes are up.

Media Matters - Your World guest host Brenda Buttner invited Coulter to discuss her "great job" of bashing Dems; later on Fox, Coulter bristled over more challenging questions

And we mean "challenging" in the Faux News sense.

From the August 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

POWERS: Let's talk about let's talk to Osama bin Laden. How about let's kill Osama bin Laden? How about let's find Osama bin Laden? You're talking about how, you know, Democrats don't want to do things on terrorism, which I actually will, in a second, go ahead and list the things they want to do, but how about the fact we invaded Iraq, when, you know, over in Afghanistan, everything was falling apart? And the fact that we let Osama bin Laden get away, and the president said he doesn't even think about him, he doesn't even care about him.

MICHAEL BROWN (Democratic strategist): What happened to "mission accomplished"?

POWERS: What about that?

COULTER: I look forward to hearing that list.

POWERS: OK. You will in a second.

COULTER: But as for catching Osama, it's irrelevant. Things are going swimmingly in Afghanistan.

POWERS: Oh, no, they're not.

COULTER: I mean, he's like a fading movie star now.

BROWN: "Swimmingly"?

POWERS: Things in Afghanistan are going horribly. But this is interesting: Osama bin Laden is "irrelevant."

COULTER: Who do you think was -- who kidnapped?

POWERS: The person who was the mastermind behind the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States is completely irrelevant. Is that what you're saying?

COULTER: Right. He was handed to Bill Clinton twice --

POWERS: Oh, it's Bill Clinton's fault.

COULTER: -- and Bill Clinton said no.

POWERS: Yeah, because I think --

COULTER: No, it's irrelevant.

POWERS: -- that actually George Bush was president in 2001.

COULTER: OK. Wait. I know you're trying to imitate [co-host] Alan Colmes, but, at some point, he does let me answer.

POWERS: Yeah. OK. Let's go -- Michael, why don't we talk about the things that the --

BROWN: Yeah.

COULTER: OK. Well, good night! It was nice being here.

POWERS: -- Democrats actually are doing about the fact that all of the --

COULTER: [Co-host] Sean [Hannity]?

POWERS: -- Democrats -- the Republicans have voted against all the things the --

COULTER: I think I can leave.

POWERS: -- Democrats have brought up, like increasing funding for border security, increasing funding for port security --

COULTER: Chris? I think I can leave now.

POWERS: -- increasing funding for airline security.

COULTER: No, seriously.

POWERS: I mean, isn't that true, Michael?

BROWN: Real -- real homeland security starts --

COULTER: I mean, we're done.

Granted, I've no idea how I would recover from finding myself with my metaphorical skirt over my ears like that, but a lady should know how to avoid such situations in the first place.

You should never assume that in a debate that your opponent will let a known falsehood slip by, because catching an opponent in an outright lie is the Golden Fleece of debate, because that is a win - a single, provable lie in support of an argument discredits the entire argument.

Now, in real life, things are not quite so cut and dried, but I guarendamntee you that stomping off in a huff is not the best way to handle it.

I expect that now Coulter will be seen more frequently on TV - because such ambushes make for GREAT television. Hell, even Fox couldn't resist the lure.

Expect to hear her on All Things Considered any day now...

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