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Saturday, September 03, 2005

FEMA head fired because he couldn't run horse shows...

So, of course, Bush puts him in charge of the nation's emergency management agency:

(from The Boston Herald:)

The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.

The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

The agency, run by Brown since 2003, is now at the center of a growing fury over the handling of the New Orleans disaster.

“I look at FEMA and I shake my head,” said a furious Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday, calling the response “an embarrassment.”

President Bush, after touring the Big Easy, said he was “not satisfied” with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

And U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.

Brown- formerly an estates and family lawyer- this week has has made several shocking public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

“We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,” explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner's office. “This was his full-time job... for 11 years,” she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

“He was asked to resign,” Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.

Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president's re-election campaign.

The White House last night defended Brown's appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to “more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,” including last year's record-setting hurricane season.

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Quotes of the Day

from Bill Maher:

Finally, convoys of troops and aid started to arrive along the Gulf Coast, five days after the hurricane. Kind of makes you miss those innocent days when Bush only sat on his ass for seven minutes.

Only took him four days to make a plan. Unfortunately, it is a faith-based plan that involves getting two of every animal onto a big boat.

He could have started planning on Saturday when the radar showed that a hurricane was going to hit the city, but Bush thinks that the jury is still out on weather forecasting.

There's one big difference between George Bush and Marie Antoinette. When Marie Antoinette said, "let them eat cake," they had cake!

His quote was that New Orleans is more devasted than New York on 9/11. Then he grabbed a bullhorn and vowed we would get Mother Nature dead or alive.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Koppel nails FEMA to the wall

From Thursday's Nightline. Way to go, Ted.

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Clueless

Watch the clip on the CNN web site:

So a tearful woman tells Bush, there specifically for a photo op to show what a sympathetic guy he is, that her home has been destroyed and her son needs clothes.

So what does the leader of the richest, most powerful nation on Earth tell her?

"There's a Salvation Army Center that I want you to... we'll tell you where it is. They'll help you."

And later in the clip, it turns out the Salvation Army center to which he's referring was destroyed by the storm. All that's there is a truck dispensing food and water. No clothes. And no federal presence, aside from a clueless moron trying to make himself look like someone who remotely gives a shit.

Now that I know what kind of support I can expect from the federal government during a major crisis, I'm going to drag out my box of Y2K emergency supplies, restock it, and label it my "Bush Box."

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Dumber than a chunk of Play-Doh

Gee, if Mr. Bill knew what was going to happen, why didn't Mr. Bush? Note the copyright date at the end of the video.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Speechless

I am so filled with blinding fury that it's impossible for me to write.

When Bill Fucking O'Reilly on Fox News is screaming for the administration to do something, you know you're dealing with incompetence on a scale so monumental that it staggers the imagination. For God's sake, Venezuela is offering to send us help. Venezuela! Even after one of our ultra-insane right wing loonies suggested assassinating their president!

What's particularly chilling: just think of all those mean, nasty "eeee-vil" terrorists watching CNN International, and suddenly realizing that the guy in charge is, indeed, all hat and no cattle. That despite the billions spent for Homeland Security, we have babies and grandmas dying in squalor on international television because after four days, our leaders can't seem to figure out how to deliver food and water to the Superdome.

Terrorist attacks? Why bother? Three more years of the Bush administration, and the United States will collapse on its own.

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Thanks, Anderson

CNN's Anderson Cooper cuts to the chase. Too bad he'll never get a chance to confront Bush, who prefers having softballs lobbed at him by lightweights like Diane Sawyer.

COOPER: Joining me from Baton Rouge is Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Senator, appreciate you joining us tonight. Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Anderson, there will be plenty of time to discuss all of those issues, about why, and how, and what, and if. But, Anderson, as you understand, and all of the producers and directors of CNN, and the news networks, this situation is very serious and it's going to demand all of our full attention through the hours, through the nights, through the days.

Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Alabama to our help and rescue.

We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts.

Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard- maybe you all have announced it- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating.

COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap- you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here?

LANDRIEU: Anderson, I have the anger inside of me. Most of the homes in my family have been destroyed. Our homes have been destroyed. I understand what you're saying, and I know all of those details. And the president of the United States knows those details.

COOPER: Well, who are you angry at?

LANDRIEU: I'm not angry at anyone. I'm just expressing that it is so important for everyone in this nation to pull together, for all military assets and all assets to be brought to bare in this situation.

And I have every confidence that this country is as great and as strong as we can be do to that. And that effort is under way.

COOPER: Well, I mean, there are a lot of people here who are kind of ashamed of what is happening in this country right now, what is -- ashamed of what is happening in your state, certainly.

And that's not to blame the people who are there. It's a desperate situation. But I guess, you know, who can- I mean, no one seems to be taking responsibility.

I mean, I know you say there's a time and a place for, kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. I mean, there are people who want answers, and there are people who want someone to stand up and say, "You know what? We should have done more. Are all the assets being brought to bare?"

LANDRIEU: Anderson, Anderson...

COOPER: I mean, today, for the first time, I'm seeing National Guard troops in this town.

LANDRIEU: Anderson, I know. And I know where you are. And I know what you're seeing. Believe me, we know it. And we understand, and there will be a time to talk about all of that. Trust me.

I know what the people are suffering. The governor knows. The president knows. The military officials know. And they're trying to do the very best they can to stabilize the situation.

Senator Vitter, our congressional delegation, all of us understand what is happening. We are doing our very, very best to get the situation under control.

But I want to thank the president. He will be here tomorrow, we think. And the military is sending assets as we speak.

So, please, I understand. You might say I'm a politician, but I grew up in New Orleans. My father was the mayor of that city. I've represented that city my whole life, and it's just not New Orleans. It's St. Bernard, and St. Tammany, and Plaquemines Parish that have been completely underwater.

Our levee system has failed. We need a lot of help. And the Congress has been wonderful to help us, and we need more help.

Nobody's perfect, Anderson. Everybody has to stand up here. And I know you understand. So thank you so much for everything you're doing.

COOPER: Well, I appreciate you joining us on the program tonight. I can only imagine how busy you are. Thank you very much, Senator Landrieu.

LANDRIEU: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you so much. Thank you.

COOPER: And good luck to you and all the people working to solve this problem. Because, at this point, it is very hard to try to figure our how this problem is going to get solved.

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The Dennis Farina School of Programming

This is just delightful.

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Wrathful God destroyed a wicked city

Yeah, the poor, the elderly, the infants and the infirm tolerated the wickedness in New Orleans and must suffer. Mississippi, Alabama and Florida? Just collateral damage. And folks, these are red states.

"Christian fundamentalism is the doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe-spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life."
Andrew Lias

http://www.repentamerica.com/pr_hurricanekatrina.html

Press Release
ACT OF GOD DESTROYS NEW ORLEANS
DAYS BEFORE “SOUTHERN DECADENCE” 8/31/05

PHILADELPHIA- Just days before “Southern Decadence” an annual homosexual celebration attracting tens of thousands of people to the French Quarters section of New Orleans, an act of God destroys the city.

“Southern Decadence” has a history of filling the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars. Last year, a local pastor sent video footage of sex acts being performed in front of police to the mayor, city council, and the media. City officials simply ignored the footage and continued to welcome and praise the weeklong celebration as being an “exciting event.” However, Hurricane Katrina has put an end to the annual celebration of sin.

On the official “Southern Decadence” website (www.SouthernDecadence.com), it states that the annual event brought in “125,000 revelers” to New Orleans last year, increasing by thousands each year, and up from “over 50,000 revelers” in 1997. This year's 34th annual “Southern Decadence” was set for Wednesday, August 31, 2005 through Monday, September 5, 2005, but due to massive flooding and the damage left by the hurricane, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has ordered everyone to evacuate the city.

The past three mayors of New Orleans, including Sidney Barthelomew, Marc H. Morial, and C. Ray Nagin, issued official proclamations welcoming visitors to “Southern Decadence.” Additionally, New Orleans City Council made other proclamations recognizing the annual homosexual celebration.

“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence', New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same,” he continued.

New Orleans is also known for its Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts. This annual event sparked the creation of the “Girls Gone Wild” video series.

“Let us pray for those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long,” Marcavage said. “May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God,” Marcavage concluded.

“[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The best place for New Orleans information...

... is the New Orleans Times-Picayune website. Bookmark it. Now.

Although the newspaper can't produce any print editions, it's regularly updating its breaking news page with important information. They generally have stuff hours before it shows up on the AP wire or on cable/broadcast news.

These folks are undoubtedly going to end up with a Pulitzer for their herculean efforts in covering the disaster.

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Quote of the day

Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.
-Fulton J. Sheen, Archbishop

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New Orleans Children's Hospital under siege

from http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/

Tuesday, 11:45 p.m.

Late Tuesday, Gov. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher described a disturbing scene unfolding in uptown New Orleans, where looters were trying to break into Children's Hospital.

Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility.

The director has sought help from the police, but, due to rising flood waters, police have not been able to respond.

Bottcher said Blanco has been told of the situation and has informed the National Guard. However, Bottcher said, the National Guard has also been unable to respond.

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Money for New Orleans levees went to Iraq, Bush tax cut

(from Editor & Publisher:)

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The [Army] Corps [of Engineers] never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane and flood-control dollars.

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

“The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement,” he said. “The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them.”

The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004 that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million- was not enough to start any new jobs. In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Headline of the week

Fetuses Discovered,
Some Outraged

(from kdka.com)

Who knew fetuses could be so touchy?

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Sure, it's all fun and games...

...until a terrier falls down an open manhole, clogs a sewer line, and floods 18 houses.

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Bumper Sticker of the Week

Who would Jesus Assassinate?

Available at http://www.commentwear.com.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Apocalypse Wow

Wow. I've never seen a forecast like this:

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
413 PM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA... ...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

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Katrina

What will happen, eventually, when you build a major city on the Gulf Coast that's below sea level and has no natural drainage? It isn't pretty.

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Sometimes it's best just to go with the flow...

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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