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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Right on top of things...

Laura Bush continually refers to Hurricane Katrina as Hurricane Corrina. No one bothers to correct her. And she's the bright one in that family.

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Spinning God

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
-Congressman Richard Baker, (R) Baton Rouge
Wall Street Journal, 9/9/2005

"We have been trying for decades to clean up New Orleans public housing to provide decent housing for residents, and now it looks like God is finally making us do it."
-Rep. Baker, correcting what he calls the Journal's mis-quote.

It took God six days to create the world; he rested on the seventh. It took Bush six days to send food and water to New Orleans; but he stayed on vacation the first two.

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Limbaugh calls Nagin, "nayger"

Referring to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin as "Mayor Nayger" was an "accident," of course. Chuckle, chuckle. Probably just the illicit Oxycontin talking.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ. What is wrong with this country?

When I first read this, my immediate response was that it was just a Rove-ite trolling the Democratic boards, trying to get a rise out of them. Then I started reading.

What is wrong with this country? This isn't the United States of America of my youth. These aren't the ideals of the Roosevelt Democrats who raised me.

Trust me, no one despises the policies and actions of the current administration more than I do. If given the chance, I, too, would yell "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney!"

But to not offer aid to someone in distress? Just because they have a W bumper sticker on their car?

What has happened to us? The mother of the President of the United States thinks people displaced by Katrina are actually lucky, since those nice, snug cots in the AstroDome are far better than their prior existence? The idiot Democrats who think it's ok to pass stranded motorists if they're Bush supporters?

To paraphrase an Onion headline: United States continues its slow descent into madness.

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I'd argue about the "Breaking News" part...

...but otherwise, this is about the most accurate thing I've seen on television in the past week.

(From a hundred thousand bloggers can't be wrong)

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Santorum: What color is the sky in his world?

I guess "HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS" wasn't a sufficiently dire warning for this dipshit.

Union criticizes Santorum remarks about Katrina forecast

SEAN D. HAMILL

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - The National Weather Service Employees union on Friday said U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum should retract statements this week questioning whether the weather service had given sufficient warning of Hurricane Katrina's path and fury.

"There's nobody else in the country saying the weather service didn't do a stellar job," said Dan Sobien, a meteorologist in Tampa, Fla., and vice president of the union.

Union president Paul Greaves accused the third-ranking Senate Republican of trying to further his goal of limiting the weather service's role in favor of private companies, such as Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather.

"We know Sen. Santorum is looking out for the interests of his constituents in Pennsylvania," said Greaves, a meteorologist in Albany, NY, "and one of those constituents is AccuWeather."

During an interview Thursday with WITF Public Radio in Harrisburg, Santorum, R-Pa., said, in part, that "the weather service gave no warning, or not sufficient warning in my opinion, as to the effects when it came on land in Florida as a Category One hurricane."

"Predictions were that it wasn't going to go out to the gulf and affect the western gulf coast, it was going to sort of head up to Florida or go right off the coast of Florida."

"I'm not going to suggest when it comes to Katrina that there were any major errors," he went on to say in the same interview. "I don't know. This is something that I think needs to be investigated."

Following the union's criticism, Santorum released a statement Friday saying that "I hope as we go forward to review the various aspects related to Hurricane Katrina that we also look at whether the forecasts and warnings provided the necessary information to preserve lives and property."

But a fellow Republican senator, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, praised the weather service's performance, calling it in a statement Friday "one of the most accurate hurricane predictions we have ever seen." Spokesman Wesley Denton said DeMint was unaware of Santorum's comments or the union's response.

DeMint cited the same documents referred to by Greaves and Sobien indicating that 2 1/2 days before Katrina hit New Orleans, the agency had accurately predicted it would hit there. "These early and accurate forecasts saved countless lives along the Gulf Coast," DeMint said.

Earlier this year, Santorum introduced legislation that would limit what information the weather service, a federal agency, could provide to the public. He said the agency should focus on "severe weather forecasts and warnings designed for the protection of life and property," and leave the day-to-day predictions to private companies like AccuWeather, a point he made in Thursday's interview.

On Tuesday, Democrat Bob Casey Jr., who is widely expected to challenge Santorum next year, criticized the senator's comment that people who didn't heed future evacuation warnings may need to be penalized if they had the ability to leave an area.

On Friday, Santorum said in an interview that he didn't know exactly what kind of penalties could be put in place.

"We have to somehow or another give local authorities some teeth for evacuation purposes," he said. "I know people who choose to stay behind can put themselves and the general public at risk."

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US Senate takes urgent action on... Sudafed abuse.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sales of over-the-counter cold remedies used to make methamphetamine would be restricted under a bill that passed the Senate on Friday.

The measure, approved by unanimous consent, would require stores to sell Sudafed, Nyquil and other medicines only from behind the pharmacy counter.

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Brownie, you did a heckuva job...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, The Associated Press has learned.

Brown is being sent back to Washington from Baton Rouge, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal government's response to the disaster, according to two federal officials who declined to be identified before the announcement.

Brown will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad w. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Brown has been under fire because of the administration's slow response to the magnitude of the hurricane. On Thursday, questions were raised about whether he padded his resume to highlight his previous emergency management background.

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Google does it again

Go to Google and enter "failure". In case they "fix" it, go here.

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Funny how some red tape can be cut...

Bush also issued an executive order on Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of the hurricane to pay below the prevailing wage, drawing rebukes from two congressional Democrats who said stricken families need good wages to rebuild their lives.

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That "Blame Game" video...

... can be found here.

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NO Transit Chief: fled town, proposes ethnic cleansing

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."
-James Reiss

James Reiss, [is a] descendent of an old-line Uptown family. He fled Hurricane Katrina just before the storm and returned soon afterward by private helicopter. Mr. Reiss became wealthy as a supplier of electronic systems to shipbuilders, and he serves in Mayor Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority. When New Orleans descended into a spiral of looting and anarchy, Mr. Reiss helicoptered in an Israeli security company to guard his Audubon Place house and those of his neighbors.

(Wall Street Journal, 9/8/2005)

Chairman of the Regional Transit Authority? REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY?? So while public transportation sat idle, Reiss scurried out of town like a rat? And now that the town is all cleaned out, let's make it a nice gated community? This just gets better all the time. This was buried in a previous post here. Read the whole article.

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God really hates it when the cable people cover missing white girls while Bush is on vacation.

Think about it-- 2001: Bush is on vacation, the cable people are all over Chandra Levy 24/7, and then blammo, 9/11.

2005: Bush is on vacation, the cable people are all over Natalee Holloway 24/7, and then blammo, Hurricane Katrina.

Obviously, there's some unfathomable confluence of celestial mechanics involved here. Or God is really tired of shallow cable news coverage and our sociopathic President's annual recreation of his ROTC experience.

Strike two, people. Better start watching the signs.

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KGB Report: Now 35% Evil!

This site is certified 35% EVIL by the Gematriculator

I blame it on all the Bush references. Actually, the percentage varies depending upon the content of the web site. Click on the link to determine the current percentage of eeevilocity.

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Brownie, you have a heck of a phony resume...

This is starting to assume Watergate-type proportions. Only this time around, the key phrase will be: "Follow the dummy(ies)..."

Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005
How Reliable Is Brown's Resume?
A TIME investigation reveals discrepancies in the FEMA chief's official biographies
By DAREN FONDA AND RITA HEALY

When President Bush nominated Michael Brown to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2003, Brown's boss at the time, Joe Allbaugh, declared, "the President couldn't have chosen a better man to help...prepare and protect the nation." But how well was he prepared for the job? Since Hurricane Katrina, the FEMA director has come under heavy criticism for his performance and scrutiny of his background. Now, an investigation by TIME has found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio, including a description of Brown released by the White House at the time of his nomination in 2001 to the job as deputy chief of FEMA. (Brown became Director of FEMA, succeeding Allbaugh, in 2003.)

Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, 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." Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."

In response, Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA's office of public affairs, insists that while Brown began as an intern, he became an "assistant city manager" with a distinguished record of service. "According to Mike Brown," she says, "a large portion [of the points raised by TIME] is very inaccurate."

Brown's lack of experience in emergency management isn't the only apparent bit of padding on his resume, which raises questions about how rigorously the White House vetted him before putting him in charge of FEMA. Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com- which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or their offices- he lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University). "He may have been an adjunct instructor," says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of "professor." Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown "was not on the faculty." As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it." Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an "Outstanding Political Science Senior," as is stated on his online profile.

Speaking for Brown, Andrews says that Brown has never claimed to be a political science professor, in spite of what his profile in FindLaw indicates. "He was named the outstanding political science senior at Central State, and was an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City School of Law."

Under the heading of "Professional Associations and Memberships" on FindLaw, Brown states that from 1983 to the present he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But an administrator with the Home, told TIME that Brown is "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." She says there was a board of directors until a couple of years ago, but she couldn't find anyone who recalled him being on it. According to FEMA's Andrews, Brown said "he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home." However, a veteran employee at the center since 1981 says Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."

The FindLaw profile for Brown was amended on Thursday to remove a reference to his tenure at the International Arabian Horse Association, which has become a contested point.

Brown's FindLaw profile lists a wide range of areas of legal practice, from estate planning to family law to sports. However, one former colleague does not remember Brown's work as sterling. Stephen Jones, a prominent Oklahoma lawyer who was lead defense attorney on the Timothy McVeigh case, was Brown's boss for two-and-a-half years in the early '80s. "He did mainly transactional work, not litigation," says Jones. "There was a feeling that he was not serious and somewhat shallow." Jones says when his law firm split, Brown was one of two staffers who was let go.

With reporting by Jeremy Caplan, Carolina A. Miranda/New York; Nathan Thornburgh/Baton Rouge; Levi Clark/Edmond; Massimo Calabresi and Mark Thompson/Washington

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh, yeah. And solar flares.

So, I chilled out with the dog for a while, and came across this little nugget while checking my e-mail.

So I decided to spend the evening reading, and discovered the only book I brought back with me from Chicago was this.

Screw it. I'm going to bed.

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Floods? Check. Fires? Check. Famine: on its way

At least according to this.

You know, I'm going to turn off the tv and the computer and go sit in the backyard with the dog and watch the butterflies. Before something happens to them, too.

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Hey! We found Cheney!

And we gave him a piece of our mind. Heh heh.

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Not everyone is suffering in the Big Easy

The mostly African-American neighborhoods of New Orleans are largely underwater, and the people who lived there have scattered across the country. But in many of the predominantly white and more affluent areas, streets are dry and passable. Gracious homes are mostly intact and powered by generators. Yesterday, officials reiterated that all residents must leave New Orleans, but it's still unclear how far they will go to enforce the order.

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July 24, 2005:

City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own.

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More on FEMA and politics, or, it helps to be a red state in an election year...

As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on President Bush and suggested that his re-election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show.

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Keeping politics out of FEMA

TRB FROM WASHINGTON
Uniform Standard
by Peter Beinart
Post date 10.20.04 | Issue date 10.25.04

On July 4, Jeff and Nicole Rank went to hear George W. Bush speak in Charleston, West Virginia. Tickets in hand, they found seats ten or 15 rows from the stage. There they sat, quietly, wearing t-shirts that read love america, hate bush and regime change starts at home. Forty-five minutes before the president took the podium, event staffers approached the couple and said, "You need to either take those shirts off or leave." According to The San Antonio Express-News, Jeff Rank replied, "People around us have Bush-Cheney t-shirts, pro-Bush t-shirts. Why can't we express our views?" The staffers left, but a few minutes later, two police officers arrived and told the couple to "cover up, take them [the t-shirts] off or leave completely." The Ranks refused, at which point they were handcuffed, expelled from the event, and briefly thrown in prison. With the Ranks safely off the premises, Bush addressed the crowd, declaring that "on the Fourth of July, we confirm our love of freedom, the freedom for people to speak their minds, the freedom for people to worship as they so choose. Free thought and free expression, that's what we believe." Two days later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Nicole Rank's employer, told her that, as a result of the incident, she was being dismissed from her assignment in West Virginia...

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Good Lord... Novak blasts FEMA

And this is from Robert Novak of Valerie Plame fame, (or, as the Daily Show's Jon Stewart refers to him, "The Douchebag of Liberty:")

Chertoff's miserable performance on the air [last Sunday on "Meet the Press"] reflected a fiasco at all levels of government. "There'll be plenty of time," Chertoff told Russert, to "do the after-action analysis." That bloodless dismissal made the human tragedy and physical mayhem on the Gulf Coast seem like a bureaucratic mistake. What Chertoff "got down" was the White House mantra, repeated endlessly, that the "after-action analysis" should not interfere with current recovery operations. It was similar to saying the Pearl Harbor attack should not have been investigated and nobody disciplined for failures until World War II was won... Political deafness mixed with lawyerly evasion was shown on "Meet the Press" when Chertoff claimed the breaking of the New Orleans levees "really caught everybody by surprise." Russert cited repeated forecasts of this disaster by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but Chertoff insisted he did not say what he had just said.

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Right on top of things

Even on Tuesday, as still-rising waters covered most of New Orleans, FEMA official Bill Lokey reassured residents in a Baton Rouge briefing. "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl," Lokey said. "That's just not happening."

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Quotes of the Day

"When people do not want to play 'The Blame Game'... they're to blame."
-Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

"What's the difference between FEMA and Social Security? You might actually get some help from Social Security."
-Jay Leno

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Reality Check

If we're going to play the "blame game," let's get our chronology correct. And here.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More FEMA acronyms

Our friend in the CIA, The Covert Comic, has checked in with some FEMA acronyms he and his fellow spooks have developed.

CC notes, and justifiably so, that the following applies to FEMA executive management only. "I actually know some FEMA people working at, or very near, ground level. They do one hell of a great job," CC notes.

So, Brownie, here are some suggestions:

Finding Employment for Millionaire Americans

Foreign Expertise and Money Accepted

Faith-based Environmentalist Ministries of America

and, of course,

Finally, EVERYBODY'S Mad at this Asshole!

It's reassuring to know the CIA is right on top of things.

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Guess Brownie is no longer doing a "heck of a job"...

The Blame Game: Please phrase your answers in the form of a simplistic talking point that has nothing to do with the question:

Q Scott, does the President retain confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, see, this is where some people want to look at the blame game issue, and finger-point. We're focused on solving problems, and we're doing everything we can --

Q What about the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're doing everything we can in support --

Q We know all that.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

Q Does he retain complete confidence --

MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to continue. We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region. And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game or finger-pointing that you're trying to get me to engage.

Q Okay, but that's not at all what I was asking.

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is. It's exactly what you're trying to play.

Q You have your same point you want to make about the blame game, which you've said enough now. I'm asking you a direct question, which you're dodging.

MR. McCLELLAN: No --

Q Does the President retain complete confidence in his Director of FEMA and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered the question.

Q Is the answer "yes" on both?

MR. McCLELLAN: And what you're doing is trying to engage in a game of finger-pointing.

Q There's a lot of criticism. I'm just wondering if he still has confidence.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and blame-gaming. What we're trying to do is solve problems, David. And that's where we're going to keep our focus.

Q So you're not -- you won't answer that question directly?

MR. McCLELLAN: I did. I just did.

Q No, you didn't. Yes or no? Does he have complete confidence or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, if you want to continue to engage in finger-pointing and blame-gaming, that's fine --

Q Scott, that's ridiculous. I'm not engaging in any of that.

MR. McCLELLAN: It's not ridiculous.

Q Don't try to accuse me of that. I'm asking you a direct question and you should answer it. Does he retain complete confidence in his FEMA Director and Secretary of Homeland Security, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said -- that's exactly what you're engaging in.

Q I'm not engaging in anything. I'm asking you a question about what the President's views are --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely -- absolutely --

Q -- under pretty substantial criticism of members of his administration. Okay? And you know that, and everybody watching knows that, as well.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, everybody watching this knows, David, that you're trying to engage in a blame game.

Q I'm trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.

Q I am trying to engage?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

---

It's official: the Press Secretary of the President of the United States is actually "Rain Man".

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Move along, nothing to see here...

U.S. agency blocks photos of New Orleans dead
07 Sep 2005 00:56:29 GMT
Source: Reuters

NEW ORLEANS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. government agency leading the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from the flooded New Orleans area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, heavily criticized for its slow response to the devastation caused by the hurricane, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims.

An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats and that "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect."

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.

The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.

The White House is under fire for its handling of the relief effort, which many officials have charged was slow and bureacratic, contributing to the death and mayhem in New Orleans after the storm struck on Aug. 29. (Additional reporting by Deborah Charles)

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Perhaps this will refresh your memory

When the spin starts about nobody anticipating the potential for the disaster in New Orleans, point people here.

Note the time, Sunday afternoon. And note the comments by the forecaster:

...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.

WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

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Props for Bush

See the firemen in this picture? They were flown from Atlanta to Louisiana. Their first mission: serve as color for Bush's photo op.

The whole story is here.

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Disaster update

For those of you keeping track (from The Daily Show):

The Daily Show's Katrina coverage is here.

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I see a pattern here...

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/katrina.charleston/index.html

Right city, wrong state
FEMA accused of flying evacuees to wrong Charleston

Tuesday, September 6, 2005; Posted: 11:29 p.m. EDT (03:29 GMT)

(CNN) -- Add geography to the growing list of FEMA fumbles.

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.

It was not known whether arrangements have been made to care for the evacuees or transport them to the correct destination.

A call seeking comment from FEMA was not immediately returned.

"We called in all the available resources," said Dr. John Simkovich, director of public health for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

"They responded within 30 minutes, which is phenomenal, to meet the needs of the citizens coming in from Louisiana," he said.

Simkovich said that the agency had described some of the evacuees as needing "some minor treatment ... possibly some major treatment."

"Unfortunately, the plane did not come in," Simkovich said. "There was a mistake in the system, coming out through FEMA, that we did not receive the aircraft this afternoon. It went to Charleston, West Virginia."

A line of buses and ambulances idled behind him at Charleston International Airport as he described what happened.

"This is a 'no event' for today," Simkovich said.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Quote of the Day

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.
-Abigail Adams

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The "Blame Game"

An American city destroyed, ten thousand dead, and it's a "game?"

It's not a game. One-third of our National Guard is in Iraq. There's a tropical storm forming off Florida as I write this, and there are still seven weeks left in the hurricane season.

And then, of course, remember this?

Now is the time to find out what went wrong, who's responsible, and to correct the problem; or at least remove from positions of responsibility those whose incompetence threaten our national security.

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I'm Speechless

Senator Rick Santorum, (R) Pennsylvania:

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

http://media.vmsnews.com/MonitoringReports/090605/549440/H000361890/

Yeah, asshole. The consequences to not leaving are death. Especially if you're old and poor and naive enough to expect the government to help you.

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Missing Veep Found...

Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Cheney buys a house while New Orleans drowns.

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Americans don't sleep in tents. They die in attics.

[LSU] did a simulated computer model, table top exercise called Hurricane Pam in which they predicted this almost to the letter and he called FEMA and said, on Saturday or Sunday, you have to have tent cities set up outside of New Orleans outside the state. You're going to have hundreds of thousands evacuees you have to be able to absorb them or they're going to die in the streets and FEMA said to them, "Americans don't sleep in tents."
-Tim Russert on Imus in the Morning (click to hear interview)

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Survival of the Richest

(Bob Schieffer's commentary from CBS' Face the Nation)

Finally, a personal thought. We have come through what may have been one of the worst weeks in America's history, a week in which government at every level failed the people it was created to serve. There is no purpose for government except to improve the lives of its citizens.

Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality.

As the floodwaters rose, local officials in New Orleans ordered the city evacuated. They might as well have told their citizens to fly to the moon. How do you evacuate when you don't have a car? No hint of intelligent design in any of this. This was just survival of the richest.

By midweek a parade of Washington officials rushed before the cameras to urge patience. What good is patience to a mother who can't find food and water for a dehydrated child?

Washington was coming out of an August vacation stupor and seemed unable to refocus on business or even think straight. Why else would Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert question aloud whether New Orleans should even be rebuilt? And when he was unable to get to Washington in time to vote on emergency aid funds, Hastert had an excuse only Washington could understand: He had to attend a fund-raiser back home.

Since 9/11, Washington has spent years and untold billions reorganizing the government to deal with crises brought on by possible terrorist attacks. If this is the result, we had better start over.

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Them poor folk sure are lucky...

"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 [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."
-Barbara Bush

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Just curious...

Has anyone seen the Vice President of the United States lately?

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Let's get senseless

Journalists used to be taught the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

These are five direct, specific questions that should be answered in the first paragraph of any news story, whether print or broadcast.

Apparently, that requires too much effort, especially on cable and broadcast television news. Anchors eschew the apparently passe 5Ws for the now-ubiquitous "sense of".

Instead of, "how many people are affected by the disaster," we get "Can you give us a sense of the number affected by the disaster."

Hey Skippy, I don't want a sense of the number. Just give me the freaking number, ok?

"A sense of" is sloppy. "A sense of" is bad journalism. It asks the reporter for impressions, not facts.

In a variation of the old Bob Newhart Show "Hi Bob" drinking contest, chug a beer every time some TV hairdo uses the phrase "a sense of." You'll be unconscious in under an hour. Which, given the state of broadcast news, is probably a Good Thing.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

"For God's sake, shut up and send us somebody!"

This will rip your heart out.

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Thought of the day:

What if God's a woman? Not only am I going to hell, I'll never know why!
-Adam Ferrara

I read the above to the missus, who responded:
"All you need to know is that you deserved it."

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It's a good thing...

...it's National Preparedness Month.

Karma can be a bitch.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

A short history of FEMA

Art Botterell explains it all:

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida, and the images and soundbites from the streets of Homestead were not unlike what we're seeing now (minus the standing water, of course.) It was during the Andrew aftermath that Miami-Dade county's emergency director, Kate Hale, famously asked of FEMA "Where's the cavalry?"

Then, as now, FEMA's explanation was that its only responsibility was to provide support to the state when requested. While technically accurate under a strict interpretation of the Stafford Act (FEMA's authorizing legislation, authored by future DHS Director Tom Ridge), that excuse was widely dismissed as inadequate. (Even back in 1989, after Hurricane Hugo, Senator Hollings of South Carolina had characterized FEMA as "the sorriest bunch of bureaucratic jackasses I have ever encountered.")

For years thereafter, Andrew became FEMA's in-house codeword for a reactive and bureaucratic approach that met the letter of the law, but not public needs or expectations. And over the next five years FEMA became, quite genuinely, an agency reborn. (I won't ramble about the good old days of the James Lee Witt period, but if anyone needs a reminder see )

Alas, FEMA's success was, to some extent, its undoing. Once spotlit by the Clinton administration as a sterling example of what government was good for, conservative proponents of the "starve the beast" school of tax-cut-forced government downsizing couldn't help but find an effective FEMA rhetorically inconvenient.

And then came 9/11. FEMA was subsumed into a law-enforcement dominated Department of Homeland Security and many of the "old timers" were eased (or sometimes shoved) aside. The new focus was on feeding a traumatized public's craving for assurance that they'd never be hurt again. The message was war on terrorism, and natural disasters just weren't a priority. (California, in particular, was welcome to drop into the Pacific at its earliest convenience.)

In fact, the idea that bad things might sometimes happen to God's chosen people, seemingly at God's own hand, was worse than not-a-priority... it was "off message," which in the tightly message-disciplined Bush Administration was the most deadly of sins.

Also, there was the money. Take away the tax cuts, and the war spending, and there was still enough Homeland Security money on the table for some sharp elbows to be thrown in its pursuit.

"Boots and suits" (and also new walkie-talkies, command vans and biohazard detection gear) for the largely conservative base of local police and firefighters ate up the bulk of the first round of Homeland Security grants, and the major defense contractors retooled their PowerPoint decks to capture a lot of the rest of such money as actually was spent. (There's a big difference on Capitol Hill between money that gets "authorized" and money that actually gets "appropriated." And another at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue between appropriations and actual expenditures.)

And so we've returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when domestic resilience was an afterthought to geopolitical power and the military-industrial-police complex. Except that in our current era of hyper-capitalism most of the slack resources we used to count on to get us through tough stretches have been squeezed out of the system (think "just in time inventory," "outsourcing" and "vanishing middle class.")

Still, America is God's own beacon of truth, beauty and freedom to the world, so I guess if anyone's suffering, it must be their own fault somehow...

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Quote of the day

Do not waste your time on social questions. What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.
George Bernard Shaw

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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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I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


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