"Freedom's on the march."

Too bad nobody will let her in.

Racism and Victim Incarceration post-Katrina
by Curtis Mohammad with Community Labor United

Here we are watching this thing happen, hearing the reporters talk about ambulances picking up people from the mostly predominantly white and upper middle class hospital at Tulane University, picking people up to evacuate them, and going right past the Charity Hospital where most of the Blacks were. And we had these reports of nurses using pumps by hand to keep people alive and stashing the dead in the staircase, and yet they were going uptown to empty out the predominantly white and middle class hospitals.

The Mayor at one point goes into the Superdome and goes into the Convention Center, and says, “Just go walk. Don’t wait for help. Just get on the highway and walk out of here.” That actually happened. And they stopped them. They set up checkpoints and would not let the people leave the city for fear they were going to loot the dry towns, white towns, Kenner, Metairie up the road. And they started locking these shelters at night so people could not sneak away. And no help was still coming.

Read more.

What's that smell?

Former FEMA Chief Is at Work on Gulf Coast
Lobbyist Allbaugh Gives Clients Help

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 8, 2005; A27

During his two years as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during President Bush’s first term, Joe M. Allbaugh traveled to Louisiana for a series of disasters, from tropical storms Allison and Isidore to Hurricane Lili.

Yesterday, Allbaugh, now head of his own Washington lobbying and consulting firm, was in Baton Rouge, La., helping his clients get business from perhaps the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history.

Allbaugh said he was there “just trying to lend my shoulder to the wheel, trying to coordinate some private-sector support that the government always asks for.” In the case of one client, UltraStrip Systems Inc., a Florida company, Allbaugh said he persuaded “them down here” to present the case for a water filtration system.

Read more.

Brownie's record

Brown, More Unqualified Than You Thought

Astoundingly, FEMA Director Michael Brown is even more unqualified for his job than previously believed. The reason: he’s been lying on his resume. A 2001 White House press release states that “from 1975 to 1978, Brown worked for the City of Edmond, Oklahoma, overseeing the emergency services divisions.” Brown’s official government biography says he served “as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight.” Time Magazine contacted Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond and got the real story. Deakins revealed that Brown “was an ‘assistant to the city manager’ from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. ‘The assistant is more like an intern,’ she told TIME. ‘Department heads did not report to him.'” It’s just one of several fabrications Brown has made about his professional experience.

Read more.

Resignation won't quite do it


The new Time article seems to strongly suggest that Michael Brown’s official bio/profile contains false and deliberately misleading information.

Depending upon the specific fact pattern, there are several violations of federal law which may have occurred. If Brown offered false information in the required submissions for his current position, he may well have violated Title 18, Section 1001 which deals with false statements. Federal forms typically state that they are signed under penalty of perjury.

Simply firing Mr. Brown would not be appropriate under the circumstances. He should be prosecuted and then offered an opportunity to save his incompetent hide by testifying as to who coached him and conspired with him through the hiring process.

There are people serving lengthy terms in federal prison for far less.


William Rehnquist's un-American activities

Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist
Mon Sep 5, 1:16 AM ET

My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not puffery or silence, especially about powerful governmental figures. And obituaries are a first draft of history. So here’s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won’t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Rehnquist bragged about being first in his class at Stanford Law School. Today Stanford is a great law school with a diverse student body, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it discriminated against Jews and other minorities, both in the admission of students and in the selection of faculty. Justice Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of Stanford’s history: “When my father was at Stanford, he could not join any of the social organizations because he was Jewish, and those organizations, at that time, did not accept Jews.” Rehnquist not only benefited in his class ranking from this discrimination; he was also part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be an associate justice in 1971, I learned from several sources who had known him as a student that he had outraged Jewish classmates by goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory that housed the school’s few Jewish students. He also was infamous for telling racist and anti-Semitic jokes.

Read more.

"That's what governors do."

Not presidents, apparently.

From the Presidental Debate on Oct 3, 2000.

MODERATOR: New question. We’ve been talking about a lot of specific issues. It’s often said that in the final analysis about 90% of being the President of the United States is dealing with the unexpected, not with issues that came up in the campaign. Vice President Gore, can you point to a decision, an action you have taken, that illustrates your ability to handle the unexpected, the crisis under fire?

GORE: When the action in Kosovo was dragging on and we were searching for a solution to the problem, our country had defeated the adversary on the battlefield without a single American life being lost in combat. But the dictator Milosevic was hanging on. I invited the former prime minister of Russia to my house and took a risk in asking him to get personally involved, along with the head of Finland, to go to Belgrade and to take a set of proposals from the United States that would constitute basically a surrender by Serbia. But it was a calculated risk that paid off. Now, I could probably give you some other examples of decisions over the last 24 years. I have been in public service for 24 years, Jim. And throughout all that time the people I have fought for have been the middle-class families, and I have been willing to stand up to powerful interests like the big insurance companies, the drug companies, the HMOs, the oil companies. They have good people and they play constructive roles sometimes, but sometimes they get too much power. I cast my lot with the people even when it means that you have to stand up to some powerful interests who are trying to turn the — the policies and the laws to their advantage. You can see it in this campaign. The big drug companies support Governor Bush’s prescription drug proposal. They oppose mine because they don’t want to get Medicare involved because they’re afraid that Medicare will negotiate lower prices for seniors who currently pay the highest prices of all.

MODERATOR: Governor Bush?

BUSH: I’ve been standing up to big business, big Hollywood, big trial lawyers. Was — the question about emergencies, wasn’t it?

MODERATOR: It was about — okay.

BUSH: You know, as governor, one of the things you have to deal with is catastrophe. I can remember the fires that swept Parker County, Texas. I remember the floods that swept our state. I remember going down to Del Rio, Texas. I have to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis. But that’s the time when you’re tested not only — it’s the time to test your mettle, a time to test your heart when you see people whose lives have been turned upside down. It broke my heart to go to the flood scene in Del Rio where a fellow and his family got completely uprooted. The only thing I knew was to got aid as quickly as possible with state and federal help, and to put my arms around the man and his family and cry with them. That’s what governors do. They are often on the front line of catastrophic situations.

Pentagon scores Bush's failure to use USS Bataan

Pentagon: USS Bataan Waited Days For Orders to Help Out

Criticism of the federal government’s response is also coming from some unlikely sources including the Pentagon. Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, revealed on the BBC that NorthCom was prepared to send in search and rescue helicopters from the USS Bataan almost immediately after the hurricane hit. He said, “We had things ready. The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so.” That authorization didn’t happen for days even though the ship was docked just outside New Orleans. On board the ship had doctors, hospital beds, food and the ability to make up to 100,000 gallons of water a day.

Read more

"What didn't go right?"

At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush’s choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had “absolutely no credentials.”

She related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown.

“He said ‘Why would I do that?'” Pelosi said.

“‘I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn’t go right last week.’ And he said ‘What didn’t go right?'”

“Oblivious, in denial, dangerous,” she added.

Bush gang…

Forwarded by Carolyn Kay, MakeThemAccountable.com

The House has canceled the planned hearings on the Katrina response. This comes bare hours after the damning Brown Memo — which showed that Brown waited until the day AFTER Katrina had passed to his ass in gear — was released.

Also: Here’s georgia10’s diary, over at www.dailykos.com, explaining how FEMA — and Bush — are the ones responsible for the disaster in NO.
The Gist:

* There exists a National Response Plan that all governmental bodies, from local to Federal, are supposed to follow.

* The plan specificially states that once the situation is dire enough (such as when the President declares a State of Emergency), FEMA is allowed — actually, EXPECTED — to be proactive and to jump into the situation without waiting to be invited in by the local authorities.

* The plan also states that FEMA is expected to work with anyone — government or non-government — that offers to help out. (In other words, no turning back the Red Cross trucks!)

So whenever you hear Bush or his surrogates say that “bureaucracy” or the locals are to blame, know that they are LYING. If Mike Brown or George W. Bush cared about knowing how to do their jobs, they would have been proactive in their handling of Katrina — meaning that C-130s and Army trucks loaded with sandbags would have been sent to the areas in Katrina’s path the second Bush declared a State of Emergency for those areas.

Please, cut and save this and send to every reporter you see discussing this. Look up and write down their e-mails, or even call them up.

Don’t let Bush and his people get away with the blame game.


You tell 'em, baby!

From Bill Shein:

The Issue of “Blame”

I’d like to respond to the many emails I’ve received that (a) suggest my recent column and blog postings are an effort to score “political points”; (b) that we must “support our president” in this time of crisis; (c) that everything is the fault of the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisiana; (d) that the massive death toll of poor and black people in New Orleans is a result of the “failed welfare state” (actually, I’ll let the absurdity of that argument crush it without my help); (e) that this is no time for satire critical of the government; (f) etc.

First, the irony of knee-jerk Bush apologists demanding the mayor and governor be excoriated NOW — while they work on the ground on relief efforts — while the president and his slow and incompetent response be “supported” is quite phenomenal. The notion that the president should be immune from comment and criticism is a byproduct of the years-long effort, as the horror and tragedy of the Iraq War continues, to challenge the “patriotism” (a topic for another time) of many Americans while shutting down debate.

If you want to defend the actions of your favorite politicians, fine. Go ahead. Anyone who’s read my work, including years of satirical commentary on President Clinton, knows that for me, this is not about politics or partisanship or parties. I don’t care if the president is George W. Bush or Bill Clinton or Howdy Freaking Doody (Is he available? Hmmm). I make no apologies for my progressive — quite progressive — point of view on many issues, one that runs contrary on many issues to the opinions of both mainstream Democrats and Republicans. And I don’t pull punches because of the party affiliation of a public official.

When a massive, multi-state catastrophe unfolds, I want my federal government to bring all its resources and (cough, cough!) expertise to bear as rapidly as possible. If you read the governor’s letter to the president ON AUGUST 27 calling for federal help, which includes reference to the state of emergency declared ON AUGUST 26, you’ll see language that makes plain that response to the hurricane would be beyond the capabilities and resources of state and local government. (And puts to rest this oft-repeated lie — which was spun out of the White House on Satur! day night — that local officials failed to cross some t’s and dot some i’s, and that led to the slow response of the feds.)

Again, that’s the whole point of the federal government. If states, or cities, or each of us could do everything on our own, we wouldn’t need it. In this case, we did, in a big way. And the federal government, led by this president and his sub-standard appointees, failed us. Not a Republican president or Republican appointees, but rather, simply the President of the United States of America and the United States government.

If the mayor and governor and other local officials made mistakes, which they surely did, by all means we will take them to task and demand accountability. But to suggest the same is not required for presidential leadership in a national disaster makes a mockery of democracy and reveals the raw, ugly partisanship of the “support the president no matter what” crowd for all to see.

Like so many other Americans, I simply can’t wrap my mind or heart around the level of human suffering. I can’t walk down my road without imagining where a 20-foot waterline would fall on the homes of my friends and neighbors. I feel strange filling a glass with clean water from my tap. I get instantly sad while walking my dogs and remembering all of the people and children forced to leave their pets behind (in one emotionally crushing story reported by AP and CNN.com, a police officer pulled a dog away from a child who was being evacuated. The child wailed, screaming the dog’s name over and over! until he vomited). I feel helpless and am powerfully aware of the inadequacy of words.

As I have for years, I’m glad to receive emails and do my best to respond thoughtfully to them all. I want to read and hear other opinions. But I make no apologies for my anger and outrage, and you can be damn sure I will continue to express it.