Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fastest probe in the west

Army Probes Porno for Corpse Photos:
The Army is investigating complaints that soldiers posted photographs of Iraqi corpses on an Internet site in exchange for access to pornographic images on the site.
Associated Press 7:35 PM 27 September 2005

U.S. Army ends probe on porn site photos of Iraq corpses:
The U.S. Army after a brief inquiry has failed to determine whether U.S. soldiers provided grisly photos of people killed in the Iraq war to a porn Web site in exchange for free access to it, officials said on Wednesday.
28 Sep 2005 19:59:07 GMT

The gory details.


WASHINGTON -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post. DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee. "I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said.

The pornography of war

"US soldiers trade grisly photos of dead and mutilated Iraqis for access to amateur porn. The press is strangely silent.

"If you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for permission to post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.

"At Wilson's Web site, you can see an Arab man's face sliced off and placed in a bowl filled with blood. Another man's head, his face crusted with dried blood and powder burns, lies on a bed of gravel. A man in a leather coat who apparently tried to run a military checkpoint lies slumped in the driver's seat of a car, his head obliterated by gunfire, the flaps of skin from his neck blooming open like rose petals. Six men in beige fatigues, identified as US Marines, laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.

"The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by soldiers who posted them, laugh and gloat over the bodies. The person who posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails wrote, 'What every Iraqi should look like.' The photograph of a corpse whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, bears the caption 'bad day for this dude.' One person posted three photographs of corpses lying in the street and titled his collection 'DIE HAJI DIE.' "
-- Chris Thompson, East Bay Express. Full article here.

Now, I don't believe that this sort of behavior represents the majority gestalt of our military. But it certainly represents the same coinage of the culture that allowed Abu Ghraib and other such atrocities to flourish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

An open letter to Families United for the Troops and other supporters of the Iraq war

On Saturday September 24, 2005, I and perhaps 199,999 or more other people passed by a small coterie of supporters of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq as we peacefully demonstrated in the streets of our nation’s capital. The hostility that you feel for us was palpable. You called us “traitors, cowards, communists, smelly hippies,” among other epithets. I looked around and saw among my fellow marchers people from the American mainstream, war veterans from several conflicts (some on crutches), retired senior citizens, mothers and fathers with children. I did not see hate. Only when I turned my eyes back to the sidelines, did I feel the emanations of that most blinding of emotions.

First, let me say that to any of you who have lost loved ones in the battlefield of Iraq, I share your loss. Though I may not be able to feel the depth of sorrow that only you can harbor, our common humanity grieves for the end of youth in its blossoming, as well as for the loss of men and women in their prime who likely never thought that their service in the National Guard Reserve would bring them to the killing fields of the Middle East. However, I also grieve for the lost lives of thousands of Iraqi innocents whose deaths go untabulated in the newspapers of America’s heartland, but whose loved ones mourn them as deeply as you do yours. But unlike you, I see a greater tragedy in both their loss and yours: the tragedy of ignoble cause, misguided objectives, and the unseemliness of lies. I see the usurpation of the ideals that you believe empower this conflict. I see the machinations of power, power corrupted by a grave ideology that bears little fealty to the teachings of Christ while painting itself in the colors of faith, power fueled by greed and delusion.

In the wake of 9/11, the United States was the recipient of an outpouring of empathy unparalleled in our recent history. Nations across the globe decried this base and barbaric act of murder. A candlelit vigil of support was held in Iran, of all places, one of the triumverate of George W. Bush's "axis of evil." We had the world community behind us as our forces toppled the Talaban and sought Osama bin Laden in Afganistan. For the first time in his short political career, the prodigal son of the Bush dynasty evinced a degree of leadership. Little did we know, this was a mere distraction. A myth began to be spun, even as our search for bin-Laden
unravelled, a myth about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, a myth, despite the revelation of its falseness, to which so many of you of still cling, even in the face of its repudiation by its fork-tongued architects. You will never hear your favorite spin jockeys on right wing radio and Fox News tell you the truth: Saddam Hussein was supported militarily by the US and Germany and the UK (among others) up until 1988. Donald Rumsfeld even met Saddam giving him US intelligence to help fight and kill Iranians (see photo on left).

The President of the United States and the
Neoconservative ideologues that surround him knew the truth. But they also knew that so many of you could be duped. Duped by the naive belief that our country's government is not capable of ignominy, or that anything that our country does can be excused purely because it is our country, that somehow, in some mysterious way, we are on always on a path of righteousness and can never stray.

"After 218 inspections of 141 sites over three months by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei charged that the U.S. had used faked and erroneous evidence to support the claims that Iraq was importing enriched uranium and other material for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. So why, considering all this good news, is the White House afraid to allow the inspections to continue? Is Bush worried that the weapons may not exist and that his real goal, stated blatantly in his last press conference, of taking over Iraq might be undermined? How else to explain the president's indifference to the fact that the evidence of weapons locations supplied by his own intelligence agencies has not checked out on the ground?

"To distract us from this essential truth, the president has shamefully frightened the American people, first with his baseless attempt to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and then with unproven claims that Iraq's government and weapons pose an immediate danger to Americans. The real story is that U.N. inspectors are reporting substantial progress in terms of Iraqi cooperation and the destruction of weapons in Iraq."

-- Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, 11 March 2003

And by reciting the mantra of "9/11", with all the attendent outrage and fear that those numbers inspire, these architects of deception succeeded.

Until now. Revulsion for the policies of this administration brought over 100,000 souls to the nations capital last weekend, while your coterie of true believers could only marshall a few hundred. It is apparent to me why so many of you loathe Cindy Sheehan with such vitriole, why she is such a target for your attacks. She represents your worst fears, the nagging voice in the corner of your mind that whispers that you have spurned the truth in exchange for the empty assurances of a false dream unending, that asks you why
, among all the sons and daughters of America who pay the price of war in Fallujah, Basra and Baghdad, none are the children of this administration and its allies in Congress?

George W. Bush and his Neoconservative administration continue to tell us that we are pursuing a "noble cause" to export American democracy and respect for human rights to Iraq. I would like to challenge you to reconcile this belief, which I assume that you share, with these facts:

  • There is the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and from being exiled, but since the Patriot Act, a person can be arbitrary held without charges.
  • The U.S. has failed miserably to ratify United Nations Declarations to guarantee human rights in more than half the cases.
  • It took 21 years to even ratify the Genocide Convention (the Soviets ratified the Convention in 1954) and then the U.S. did it with so many attachments to the original convention so as to make it worthless. We can accuse other of Genocide but can never be judged ourselves.
  • The United States and Somalia are the ONLY countries in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • The United States is the only industrialized nation that has REFUSED to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW.
  • The United States has NOT ratified the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
  • AND for those declarations the United States does ratify, it attaches conditions which undermine their effectiveness.
  • The U.S. has REFUSED to ratify the International Criminal Court.
  • George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • The U.S. walked out of the World Conference Against Racism.
  • And the United States, by order of its commander-in-chief George W. Bush launched a virtually unilateral attack on Iraq for which it DID NOT HAVE APPROVAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL.

The UN and everyone else on this planet are afraid of the power of the world's only real super-power. Only Germany, France, and Russia made any real noise of objection and were punished by being denied lucrative contracts (read "booty") in occupied Iraq.

Would those of you who still parlay the terms "noble cause" to this conflict still stand as strong if they were substituted with the words "oil and money?"

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
--Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg trials

I am indebted to Hank Roth's web page Right Wing Ideologues for some of my information.

The invisible tsunami

More video links of the human tide in DC on 9/24 from

A Massive Convergence For Peace in the Nation's Capitol
A Film by Chris Hume
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Anti-War March in Washington, DC
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Monday, September 26, 2005

Foggy Bottom II

More photos of true patriots in DC on Saturday. You know, the ones that want their country back.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What the media says didn't happen

Courtesy of the Brad Blog, the voice of democracy is heard in DC. Watch the video that you won't "see at 11."

And photos of DC and other "non-events" around the world.

But I am sure glad we got hours and hours of Anderson Cooper in his waders on CNN.

Foggy Bottom

Don't believe the media spin about "around 100,000", there were 300,000 peaceful protestors marching through downtown DC yesterday in one of the most inspirational events of which I have ever proudly been a part. Over a quarter of a million strong, we marched demanding an end to the lies and crimes of the Bush administration. Young and old, black, white, brown, yellow and red, we overwhelmed even the most optimistic estimates of United for Peace and Justice. High points: the Lakota nation giving Cindy Sheehan a star quilt to honor her heroism, hearing Joan Baez and Steve Earle serenade us, and the greatest moment of all: turning around at one point on 15th Street and seeing a sea of bodies in the street that seemed to go on forever.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's somewhere between one and a trillion (we think)

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

-- Ann Scott Tyson,Washington Post Full article

GAO report here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The eloquence of experience

Video of antiwar statements from U.S. soldiers who have served in the Iraq.

If you can still support this war after viewing these, then you have surrendered completely to the state of delusion that the Bush administration inhabits 24/7.

Who's been blind?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

Full story here.

Might we conclude, then, that the definition of a blind trust has to do with the public's belief in the integrity of Republican billionaire senators? Don't hold your breath waiting for an independent counsel on this one.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Conservative blog taxonomy

When I stumble onto some of these right wing blogs, and I feel the temperature rising, I just head over here to put it all in perspective. Thanks, Mithras.

They knew

In exclusive stunning admissions to The BRAD BLOG some 11 months after the 2004 Presidential Election, a "Diebold Insider" is now finally speaking out for the first time about the alarming security flaws within Diebold, Inc's electronic voting systems, software and machinery. The source is acknowledging that the company's "upper management" -- as well as "top government officials" -- were keenly aware of the "undocumented backdoor" in Diebold's main "GEM Central Tabulator" software well prior to the 2004 election. A branch of the Federal Government even posted a security warning on the Internet.

Yes, yes, yes. Just more moonbat paranoia, right?

More walking the talk's Chris Hume at the DOD sponsored 9/11 Freedom Walk. To me, the most chillling thing was watching people state with ironclad conviction that Iraq was directly linked to 9/11. And the most inspirational? One brave, dissenting mother of a Marine.

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Rats on the sinking ship?

"You run down the list of things we thought we could accomplish and you have to wonder what we thought we were thinking," says a Bush Administration member who joined on in 2001. "You get the impression that we're more than listless. We're sunk."

There's more at the door (from the American Spectator, well-known rightie rag).

The shadow knows...

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

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

On The Anti-War Movement: "Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally..."

On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: "We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything..."

On Iraq: "There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East..."

-- from the Huffington Post

There's a story about this detestable, porcine, doughboy that illuminates the machinations of his febrile mind. Supposedly, when he was a little boy he was beaten up by a little girl who happened to be a Democrat. True? False? Apochryphal or not, it fits.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Evangelical Christian blues

According to evangelical Christian author Ronald J. Sider's book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience:

  • Conservative Protestants are more likely to divorce than the national average.
  • Conservative Christian men are as likely as non-Christians to view pornography.
  • Evangelical teens are "only a little less" sexually promiscuous than non-evangelicals.
  • Those who make abstinence pledges are, on average, as likely as non-pledgers to contract sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Wives in traditional marriages "where the husband was dominant" are three times more likely to be beaten than wives in egalitarian marriages.
This of course dovetails with the parcel of delusions we Americans maintain about ourselves and the status of our nation as "number one" in myriad ways, but especially those right wing rallying points about moral values.

Recovery, Texas style

Teach your children well

For Substance Abuse and Antisocial Behavior

Noelle Bush (left), John Ellis Bush (right)

I don't mean to be (too) churlish, but maybe Florida Gov. Jeb Bush needs to attend to things closer to the hearth before he starts vociferously defending the rights of those certifiably braindead and living in a persistently vegetative state.

And I'm not talking about his big brother.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Values that make America worth fighting for

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has grown from a troubled youth, busted for heroin possession, into a brilliant advocate and activist for the environment. Here is the text of a recent speech at the Sierra Summit in San Francisco where Kennedy accepted the William O. Douglas Award on behalf of the Waterkeeper Alliance that he heads.

Here is a link to RFK, Jr.'s article "Crimes Against Nature."

The comparisons with another scion of a dynastical family in the USA are unavoidable. One of the two grew up, while the other just grew older.

The air that I breathe...

  • Three-fourths of Americans consider the environment a "high" priority.
  • 84 percent of American voters considered environmental issues to be important in the Presidential election.
  • Colorado State University pollsters found that 96 percent of voters consider candidates' commitment to national parks when voting.
  • Four out of five Americans consider themselves to be environmentalist or sympathetic to environmentalists.


  • President Bush appointed as head of the Forest Service a timber industry lobbyist, Mark Rey, probably the most rapacious in history.
  • He put in charge of public lands a mining industry lobbyist, Steven Griles, who believes that public lands are unconstitutional.
  • He put in charge of the air division of the EPA, Jeffrey Holmstead, a utility lobbyist who has represented nothing but the worst air polluters in America.
  • As head of Superfund, a woman whose last job was teaching corporate polluters how to evade Superfund. The second in command of EPA is a Monsanto lobbyist.

Is that what you voted for? Is this your president? Do you still believe that the Bush administration has your best interests at heart?

The sordid past of the right wing media

Sinclair Broadcasting makes "fair and balanced" Fox look downright centrist by comparison. From Rolling Stones's great profile of this ultra-right wing broadcasting empire:

"...(Sinclair CEO David) Smith had some experience in the media when he took over the company from his father -- but it wasn't the kind of work most conservatives would appreciate. In the 1970s, he was a partner in a business called Cine Processors, which made bootleg copies of porn films in the basement of a building owned by another of his father's companies, the Commercial Radio Institute. "We had the film-processing lab in operation for, like, a year," recalls David Williams, Smith's partner at Cine. "The first film we copied was Deep Throat, which had just opened in New York and was not available anywhere else." According to Williams, Cine got involved with the mob and was busted by the police. "How David got control of the family company after that, I don't know," he says. "He was just a big egotist. He wanted attention."

Now, what's that about moral values?

No problem. Just another neo-hypocrite.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Put your money where your mouth is

Alonova allows you shop with a conscience. Companies are rated based on the values that you consider paramount. Buy through them, and 20% of the revenue goes to non-profits that you choose. Interesting concept.

The air of disaster

Government Coverup of Dangerous Toxins in New Orleans

Hugh Kauffman, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency who specializes in emergency response, told Air America Morning Sedition hosts Marc Maron and Mark Riley that a government cover-up is taking place right now, as we speak, to hide information about the dangerous toxins in the flood waters of the Gulf Coast region. Kauffman, a 35-year EPA veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, says that the Bush administration is preventing the EPA from releasing information that oil and chemical companies are mandated by law to provide. Kauffman says the Bush administration’s cover-up is endangering residents and relief workers throughout the Gulf Coast region, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxins, some of which have been proven to cause cancer and birth defects. Kauffman, who was the chief investigator for the 9/11 clean up, also said that the Bush administration engaged in the same practice after 9/11—covering up the truth about the dangers in the air and water and lying to the public in the weeks after the disaster. Kauffman said that over 75% of the heroes who responded to 9/11 have gotten sick and in some cases have died because of exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, and that he fears a similar fate will befall relief workers and residents in the Gulf Coast now.

From Listen to the broadcast here.

Of course, the right will accuse us of fear and rumor-mongering, doom-saying, and dredge up some pseudo-science to prove us wrong. They are, afterall, the weavers of reality. Well, somebody keeps spilling sludge on the tapestry, true believers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Soul Freedom

Bill Moyers, a progressive of deep religious faith, in a talk at Union Theological Seminary, reflects on the dangers of a theocracy in America.

"At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do. My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others.

"Christian realism requires us to see the world as it is, without illusions, and then take it on. Christian realism also requires love. But not a sentimental, dreamy love. Reinhold Niebuhr, who taught at Union Theological Seminary and wrestled constantly with applying Christian ethics to political life, put it this way: 'When we talk about love we have to become mature or we will become sentimental. Basically love means ... being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and now by the pressures of history, toward the universe of humankind.'

"... we have to take that love where the action is. Or the world will remain a theatre of war between fundamentalists."

Full essay here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Brown approved over $31 million to buy votes in Florida

We all heard about the millions of fraudulent FEMA payouts to residents of Miami, Florida after the 2004 hurricane season. But the press, for the most part, was curiously silent about a possible motive.

There's some better than circumstantial evidence that ex-FEMA Chief Brown paid out millions in false claims to help Bush win Florida votes in the 2004 election.

So, still wondering how a resume-doctoring, political hack with zero experience managed to head the government's disaster relief and recovery agency?

Start here, with Jason Leopold's summation, then go here to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's original piece of investigative journalism (from last March).

Then you decide.

Think about it. Has the American public's gargantuan cynicism about the effectiveness of our government bureaucracy made it easier than sin to use its service components as political tools?

But if we are that easily bought and sold, then we deserve the quality of the merchandise.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bill Maher's Advice

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished."

Read the whole shtick here.

Walking the talk

Michael Cortese AKA Reverend Mykeru takes a "Freedom Walk" in the Capitol.

"Wherein your humble minister infiltrates the heart of thickness looking for recruits. Funny thing is, for a supposed commemoration of 9/11 it sort of got forgotten in the faux troops supporting. Go figure..."

Watch the video.

Reject, reject, reject

Bill Whittle represents a non-apologist vox populi for the legions of non-fundamentalist, college-educated, middle-class, white, consumerist, SUV-drivers out there who may or may not have served their country in the military (but probably didn't), who may or may not go to church (but probably don't), who once upon a time considered themselves middle-of-the-road (or maybe even liberal), but who have allowed irrational fear to take over their politics since 9/11. I don't know which is scarier, fundamentalist Christians who yearn for a theocracy while waiting for the rapture (those folks are almost cartoonish), or the platoon of panderists like Whittle that have created an idealism of "red state" enlightened conservatism that purports to be without racial, ethnic, or sexual prejudice but who too easily demonize progressives as cowards, America haters, or Islamist sympathizers. To pundits like Whittle, America is involved in a new holy war. I just can't figure out how much of what makes America great these people are willing to sacrifice in order to win it, or, for that matter, what they think Iraq had to with it.
It took five Google screens' worth of wingnut salivation over Mr. Whittle's profound erudition before I found this. What a relief.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Business as usual

A Halliburton Co. subsidiary that has come under fire for its reconstruction work in Iraq has begun tapping a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities that were battered by Hurricane Katrina.
-- Associated Press Article

Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
-- Reuters Article

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Physician who told Cheney to go f*ck himself lost his home in Katrina, detained, cuffed by Cheney's M-16-carrying Goons

Dr. Ben Marble is the young emergency room physician who told Dick Cheney to "go f**k yourself" on Sept. 8.

"As Marble explains, he was driving to his destroyed house Sept. 8 in Gulfport, Ms., when military police refused to allow him to cross a barricade that was about 200 feet from his home. They forced him to drive an extra 20 minutes and spend even more on gasoline. 'Thanks to Dubya Gump and Mr. Cheney, gas is really expensive and extremely hard to get anywhere Katrina has destroyed,' Marble wrote. 'So needless to say, I was extremely aggravated that they wouldn't let me pass.'"
-- Jackson Thoreau,

Watch the video here:

Friday, September 09, 2005

But mostly dangerous

During a conversation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the White House, President Bush allegedly demonstrated that he was, in Pelosi's words, "oblivious" to the federal government's failures in responding to the threat and subsequent destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

PELOSI: When I said to the president that he should fire Michael Brown, he said, "Why would I do that?" I said, "Because of all that went wrong, with all that didn't go right last week." And he said, "What didn't go right?" Oblivious, in denial, dangerous.

To my mind, what she was really being told is "You, Minority Leader, just don't matter, because we hold all the cards." If this administration is in denial about anything, it is that the cracks in their perverse vision of America have begun to appear. It was more than a levee along the Mississippi that gave way last week.

Eight big lies about Katrina

Big Media has given ample space for administration officials and conservatives to spread falsehoods about relief efforts.
-- Raphael Schweber-Koren and Jeremy Schulman, Media Matters for America, Article

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Canadians beat U.S. Army to New Orleans suburb

A Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb to help save trapped residents five days before the U.S. military, a Louisiana state senator said on Wednesday.

FEMA Packed With Presidents Pals

The three top jobs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bush went to political cronies with no apparent experience coping with catastrophes.
-- Kenneth R. Bazinet, NY Daily News
Alternate Link

"Go *uck Yourself, Mr. Cheney!"

Cheap thrill, I know, but there is something wonderfully cathartic seeing the Dick being hoisted by his own petard. And the heckler was so polite...

The Bigotry of Low Expectations

"As Katrina wiped out New Orleans' communications infrastructure, panicky rumors of violence in evacuation centers quickly filled the airwaves. The only problem--few of the reports were true. "
-- Matt Welch, Reason Full article


MT-Blacklist is a movable type plugin to eradicate comment and trackback spam on blogs. It always struck me as interesting how most right ring bloggers almost never have anything but congratulatory comments piled up below their posts, while progressive blogs typically appear to be largely freewheeling (except, perhaps, eliminating the profane). Now I know. It's the right's definition of a free society in action.

What's happened to America's middle class?

"Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's, America was a place in which few people were extremely wealthy, many blue collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security. That middle class society no longer exists. Working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years in average income. And economic security is a thing of the past: all it takes is a little bit of bad luck in employment or health to plunge a family into poverty. But the wealthy have done very well indeed. Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have favored the weathy at the expense of working families, from tax cuts to bankruptcy 'reform.' The reason for concern is that a society in which most people can be considered middle class is a better society -- and more likely to be a functioning democracy -- than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty. Reversing the rise in inequality and economic security won't be easy, but let's try to do something about the politics of greed."

-- Paul Krugman, 6/10/2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Global warming

"Ecosystems in North America are absorbing carbon dioxide at a rate that is greater than expected, according to findings by a team of scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study, which its authors said was subject to confirmation, may mean that land-based carbon-absorbing zones could play a greater role than expected in managing greenhouse warming of the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one of several gases implicated in greenhouse warming."

"Despite the fact that land sinks help remove carbon from the atmosphere, the U.S. continues to emit more carbon than it removes. In 1990, for example, the country released 1.337 billion tons from fossil fuel emissions, making it a net source of between two-thirds and 1 billion tons of carbon per year.
However, America's forests won't soak up the greenhouse gases forever. The sink will begin to diminish and eventually disappear as the forests reach maturity. Even if the country could slow fossil fuel consumption and maintain current levels of carbon dioxide emissions, says Pacala, the U.S. net contribution to atmospheric accumulation would continue to rise as the benefit of the sink goes away."

Ordeal of a Whistleblower

"With the recent demotion of the woman who dared speak out, the list of lies about Halliburton's no-bid Iraq reconstruction contracts grows even longer. "
-- Evelyn Pringle, AlterNet Full article

Our gremlin

In case you haven't noticed (if any of you are noticing this blog at all), Muttering Jam has its own resident gremlin in the personage of one Jason Coleman who has provided frequent commentary to MJ's posts from up on high atop Mt. Olympus. He's an interesting guy, but I have stopped engaging Mr. Coleman directly because, as you must have noticed by now, everyone left of center is 1) wrong, 2) deluded, 3) programmed and 4) a ... SOCIALIST!!! while everyone right of center is (of course) none of these things, but mostly has a monopoly on truth.

So, in the pursuit of truth, which we at MJ find to be a slippery slope indeed, we invite you to attempt to identify Mr. Coleman from among the following mugshots:
Who says we never have any fun around here?

The answer (IMHO)

I think the answer to the question that I posed in my last post is fairly simple. FEMA, like Social Security, like the EPA, represents those aspects of the government that the Bushies most desperately want to either privatize or eliminate, because in their narrow view of representative government, these agencies are tainted by the foul odor of SOCIALISM, their definition of which is anything that suggests entitlement to the middle class on down in our society, or, in any shape of form, provides regulatory function over corporate excess.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Which end is which?

Michael Brown, the man responsible for directing federal relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, sharpened his emergency management skills as the "Judges and Stewards Commissioner" for the International Arabian Horses Association... a position from which he was forced to resign in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray.


And how is this possible, good reader, that a man without any palpable, relevant experience in disaster relief should come to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency?

FEMA's crime spree

From Andy and Nancy Johnson via Mark Crispin Miller's News from Underground:

"I realize your right-wing friends (and mine) will absorb the coming Rove spin and try to lay blame of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin ...

"The delay in rescue was POLITICAL, it's clear. Everything Bush does is PARTISAN -- from "town-hall" meetings where he excludes anyone from attending not Republican, to national disasters. You see, it doesn't matter how many lives are lost in a war based on lies or a category 5 hurricane where rescue was delayed several days in a deliberate effort to smear state and local officials of the opposing party. It only matters, in Karl Rove's way of thinking, that the Republican Party remains on track to one-party rule."

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
and this last, positively Orwellian (from FEMA's own website)

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond" .

The true face of compassionate conservatism

"Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston. What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this [slight chuckle] is working very well for them."
--First Mother Barbara Bush, speaking about Katrina refugees on American Public Media's "Marketplace"program, 9-5-05

Open Letter to the President from the New Orleans, Times Picayune

"We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism."


Monday, September 05, 2005

Ben Stein: Blowhard

Television non-personality Ben Stein (self-described "writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu" - gee, Ben, did we REALLY need to know where you live) has published a grandiloquent defense of George W. Bush entitled "Get Off His Back" in the American Spectator. The gist of the piece, as you might imagine, is that it is fatuous to pin any blame whatsoever on the Bush administration or the war in Iraq for the failures of expedient response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In actuality, a lot of what Stein says is perfectly reasonable. Of course, he has to take a shot at both Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton (easy targets), but we'll let that go. I mean who, in their right mind would argue with this:

"1) The hurricane that hit New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama was an astonishing tragedy. The suffering and loss of life and peace of mind of the residents of those areas is acutely horrifying.

"2) George Bush did not cause the hurricane. Hurricanes have been happening for eons. George Bush did not create them or unleash this one.

"3) George Bush did not make this one worse than others. There have been far worse hurricanes than this before George Bush was born."

Stein then squarely places the blame for the human tragedy of New Orleans post Katrina on the "stupendous incompetence by the New Orleans city authorities and the malevolence of the criminals of the city." He provides absolutely no support for the first part of this statement.

And then the spin really gets going: "It is in no way at all George Bush's fault that about 20 percent of New Orleans neglected to follow the plan. It is not his fault that many persons in New Orleans were too confused to realize how dangerous the hurricane would be. They were certainly warned. It's not George Bush's fault that there were sick people and old people and people without cars in New Orleans. " Now, as we well might imagine, Mr. Stein no doubt subscribes to the concept of the "ownership" society of "personal responsibility." Clearly, all of those poor folks in the Superdome should have started walking north. I mean, they probably decided to stay just for the looting opportunities, right?

It gets better: "There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful..." I hope that Mr. Stein doesn't add "scientist" to his list of accomplishments, because the majority of scientists - even the 1 or 2 who live in "Beverly Hills and Malibu" would disagree.

Mr Stein finishes the update to his original piece with this statement: "Where did the idea come from that salvation comes from hatred and criticism and mockery instead of love and co-operation?"

Except, I guess, in Iraq.

Separated at birth?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Soul of a Man

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what do I see when I look into the eyes of the president? Pyschiatrist Justin Frank, writing in Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, says the President has a ""lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions ... [and] pumping his fist gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad." Even worse, Dr. Frank concludes, the President's years of heavy drinking ""may have affected his brain function - and his decision to quit drinking without the help of a 12-step program [puts] him at far higher risk of relapse." The President suffers from "character pathology," including "grandiosity" and "megalomania" -- viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable.

And then there's the mendacity beyond the meanness. This is more than the "unfeeling president" described by E. L. Doctorow. This is a man unfit to lead, a man incapable of leadership, a cipher for the shadow personalities with which he surrounds himself. He is the dark side of the American Dream incarnate.

"My friend was shot and killed for his car"

EYEWITNESS: By Toxy Morris, a surgeon in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

"The conditions are extremely bad here. There are murders, looting and vandalism. Every tree in sight is down and there’s no electricity or water.

"We have had three killings in our neighborhood. One of the people killed was a friend of mine, an Anglican priest. He was shot down for his car and its contents. He leaves behind a wife and six children. It’s a very sad situation. I have also heard that a lady was shot to death for a bag of ice. Can you believe that? Over a bag of ice!

"These three murders haven’t been reported in the media here – I think they are trying to avoid ill feeling and panic. But we have a serious crisis on our hands."

Alternate link here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wake of the flood

"Remember that the next time you hear Bush talk about noble causes, national priorities and responsibility. This has been an administration of death, disaster, fear and woe. The whole pack of them should be run out of Washington on a rail. Better yet, they should be air-dropped into the center of New Orleans and made to see and smell and touch and taste the newest disaster they have helped to create."
-- William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

What the hell, it's mostly poor people anyway...

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
-- President George W. Bush, August 31, 2005

Uh, come again? To wit:

"No one can say they didn't see it coming
"In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war."
--Sidney Blumenthal, 09/01/05 "Der Spiegel
" Article

"Washing Away

"It's a matter of when, not if. Eventually a major hurricane will hit New Orleans head on, instead of being just a close call. It's happened before and it'll happen again."
(originally published before Katrina)

Postscript: On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
(Ummm, more like Herbert Hoover, I think)

The Interdictor: Survival in New Orleans

According to one blogger hunkered down in the hurricane-ravaged city, the rule of law has collapsed and anyone on the streets is in danger of being robbed or killed.

Got outrage?

So, wonder what the members of our exceutive branch were doing while the corpses float down Bourbon Street?

VP Cheney is on vacation Wyoming.

Secretary of State Rice was in NYC last night, catching "Spamalot," then spending a grand on ... shoes. When a woman starting screaming at her "How dare you shop while people are dying," said woman was forceably removed from the store.

And in case you missed it, Karl Rove lookalike Dennis Hastert, august speaker of the House, wonders whether we should "waste" tax dollars rebuilding New Orleans. I've been accused of taking those comments out-of-context, but I don't see where.

And in New Orleans, the babies cry, and die. God help us.

A day in the life of the New American Century

Bush is the real threat
The Middle East faces a crisis that could dwarf even the dangers arising from the war in Iraq.
By Tony Benn
Now that the US president has announced that he has not ruled out an attack on Iran, if it does not abandon its nuclear programme, the Middle East faces a crisis that could dwarf even the dangers arising from the war in Iraq.

Lies Of Omission
By Dom Stasi
In journalism, ignoring a story is tantamount to lying. A lie of omission is no less a lie. Truth is a commodity too long abused if not abandoned altogether in the mainstream American press, especially so in its treatment of the human catastrophe that is the Bush presidency.


816 killed in Baghdad bridge stampede :
The stampede occurred after the Kadhimiya mosque -- the burial place of Shiite imam Mussa Kazim who died 12 centuries ago -- came under mortar fire, leaving at least seven dead and 37 wounded.

More than 600 killed in Iraq stampede:
Hundreds of people have died after a stampede triggered by rumours of a bomber among a massive Iraqi Shia crowd attending a religious ceremony at a shrine in Baghdad.

Poisoning Kills 25 Iraqi at Shiite shrine:
Officials said 25 people died of poisoning after eating or drinking products that had been deliberately contaminated .

Seven Killed In Further Violence:
A driver was killed by U.S troops when he failed to obey instructions and refused to stop in the town of Baiji. A U.S soldier was killed when he was struck by a roadside bomb in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad

TV reporter dies in Iraq covering rally:
An Iraqi television journalist who was killed covering a demonstration east of Baghdad became the 67th journalist to die in the Iraq war, a media advocacy group said Tuesday.

Two US soldiers killed in Iraq:
Two US soldiers were killed in Iraq and three others wounded in two separate attacks, the US military said Wednesday.

U.S. Soldier killed by roadside bomb in Iraq :
U.S. Army Maj. Gregory Fester, 41, who has three children in the Forest Hills Public Schools, died Tuesday while on foot patrol, said his wife, Julie Fester.

US forces in Iraq suffered more combat deaths in August than any month this year:
The total number of U.S. military deaths in August, including those deemed non-hostile, was at least 83, according to figures available Wednesday.

Iraq war costs more per month than Vietnam:
The U.S. war in Iraq now costs more per month than the average monthly cost of military operations in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, according to a report issued on Wednesday.

Allawi's Party Accuses the Governmental Forces of Attacking the Former Prime Minister's Guards :
"The elements of the Iraqi National Guard that conducted the attack are among battalion 302." The statement condemned "such attacks that are supported by the current Iraqi government."

Reuters cameraman to be held in Abu Ghraib:
A cameraman for Reuters in Iraq has been ordered by a secret tribunal to be held without charge in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison until his case is reviewed within six months, a US military spokesman said today.

Iraq Law on Late Constitution Changes :
Iraq's interim law says the version of the proposed constitution signed off on by Iraq's parliament on Sunday cannot be amended. Yet the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Tuesday he believes there still may be further changes made to the draft constitution in order to try to win Sunni Arab approval.

US Offered USD 75 Million to Iraqi Sunnis for Signature under Constitution:

Robert Scheer: Iraq's Fig-Leaf Constitution:
Who lost Iraq? Someday, as a fragmented Iraq spirals further into religious madness, terrorism and civil war, there will be a bipartisan inquiry into this blundering intrusion into another people's history.


Bush: U.S. Must Protect Iraq Oil From Terror:
President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields that he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

The Day Casey Died:
An interview with Cindy Sheehan, a Journalist and a Wounded Soldier Who Remember the Battle of Sadr City

Iraq war tests resolve of a patriotic U.S. soldier:
"If Bush feels it's such a noble cause, maybe he should talk to his own daughters about making a commitment," said Connolly's mother, Deborah.

David Corn: George Bush's Original Sin:
No matter what Bush says before a hand-picked audience, he cannot escape the original sin.

Full Iraq Withdrawal Urged in Denmark :
47.9 per cent of respondents support withdrawing all of Denmark's troops from Iraq immediately, while 38.6 per cent disagree.


Let's Call It 'the War On Non-CIA Endorsed Terror' :
Fighting terrorism should not be a pretext to advance a country's political agenda. The cultivation of fear for the purposes of exploiting a fixated and phobic mindset is a dangerous game.

N.Y. Judge Hesitant on Abu Ghraib Photos :
``How can I ignore the expert opinion of General Myers, who is concerned with the safety of his troops?'' the judge asked. ``I can't substitute my opinion for the opinion of General Myers.''

Assassination fears grip Beirut leaders:
Fear of assassination has gripped the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon, many of whose leading figures have gone abroad ahead of a UN
report on the killing of former premier Rafiq al-Hariri.


Iran: Tehran Claims Breakthrough In Nuclear Processing: -
Iran continues to press ahead with its controversial efforts to master technologies that could one day give it the domestic ability to produce nuclear fuel.


Call for anti-terror law ban on US evangelist :
Story in full A GOVERNMENT minister has fuelled the row over Britain's proposed new anti-terror laws by calling for Pat Robertson, the controversial American evangelist, to be banned from the UK.

"Journalism" and the Neocon Pulpit:
Venezuela: a Launch Pad for Muslim Extremism?

U.S. softens weapons charge against Cuba:
The State Department report apparently marks the first time that the U.S. government has publicly softened its earlier charge, which has been controversial from the outset.

U.S. Selling the Most Weapons to Developing Nations:
The United States is the largest supplier of weapons to developing nations, delivering more than $9.6 billion in arms to Near East and Asian countries last year.

A crippling blow to U.S. oil industry:
Most of the oil and gas production from the Gulf of Mexico remained shut off Tuesday. The region accounts for nearly a third of domestic oil production and a fifth of its natural gas output.

Oil refineries still shut down:
Eight Gulf of Mexico refineries remain shut and one is operating at a reduced rate while damage from Hurricane Katrina continues to be assessed by oil and gas companies.

Katrina blamed for soaring gas prices in Canada:
Motorists pulling up to the pumps today may be wishing they filled up yesterday, after prices jumped overnight by as much as 20 cents a litre.

Katrina Should be A Lesson To US on Global Warming:
Seems like everything is President Bush's fault. One day after Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast, German commentators are laying into the US for its stubborn attitude to global warming and Kyoto.,1518,372179,00.html

Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists :
Some of America's leading scientists have accused Republican politicians of intimidating climate-change experts by placing them under unprecedented scrutiny.,9865,1559028,00.html


Bush accused of Aids damage to Africa:
A senior United Nations official has accused President George Bush of "doing damage to Africa" by cutting funding for condoms, a move which may jeopardise the successful fight against HIV/Aids in Uganda.,3858,5273375-106925,00.html

Poll: Most of us can't get ahead :
More than half of Americans surveyed say their family income is falling behind the cost of living, and another third say they are just keeping up with higher living costs, a poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO says.

More Americans lack cover for ill-health:
The number of Americans without health insurance in 2004 climbed for the fourth consecutive year to a record high of 45.8m and the poverty rate also increased, according to official figures yesterday.

Thanks to Information Clearing House.