People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Archive for January, 2006

Just three percent of Bush’s attention is focused on Gulf Coast recovery

Posted by schroeder915 on January 31, 2006

What’s behind that nervous little thing he does with his jaw — that back and forth lower jaw twitch?

What explains that smug look — not the look of a disciplined intellect, but the look of a guy who knows he’s getting through another day without doing his own homework by reading prose written by someone else.

Yawn … blah blah blah. It’s what — 30 minutes into the State of the Union speech, and still no talk about the Gulf Coast?

I was appalled and offended by Bush’s word-for-word recitation of a sergeant killed in Iraq. How dare he — a man who was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard while “defending” the United States from Mexico at a time when other men his age were dying in Vietnam.

How dare he — a man who broke his obligation to defend the Constitution by cherry-picking unreliable WMD intelligence and embellishing the facts to order Americans to their deaths in Iraq. Bush is responsible for the maiming of 16,549 American soldiers, and the deaths of 2,241 of them.

How dare he:

Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. … It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.”

Bush never faced death himself — but he couldn’t have been more impatient to sacrifice the lives of others.

About 5,369 words were spoken in Bush’s speech, of which 161 words were spent on Hurricane Katrina recovery — less than three percent of what he had to say involved the concerns of hundreds of thousands of victims who continue to suffer from the worst disaster in American history.

Who’s advising this guy?

Bush’s remarks about Hurricane Katrina recovery were a stale refrain of philosophical platitudes devoid of any specific plan or commitment of resources.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency — and stays at it until they’re back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We’re removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We’re providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.

Were I Mary Landrieu or Governor Blanco — both seated in the audience — I think I might have blown my lid right there.

The mantra of $85 billion? Most of that went to no-bid cleanup contractors who are taking the profits, while pennies on the dollar get to the sub-sub-sub-contractors hiring illegal immigrants instead of getting locals to do the work for living wages. The actual new allocation for rebuilding endeavors was $29 billion, most of which is just to keep the federal flood insurance program solvent, and only $6.2 billion of which has been proposed by the Bush administration to help 20,000 homeowners whose homes weren’t in designated flood zones, and who didn’t have flood insurance, while the actual number is more like 77,340 homes in that category. Bush has proposed nothing to help rehabilitate over 200,000 homes damaged by flood waters.

Where’s the plan George? Bush can’t get away with shooting down the Baker plan last week — Louisiana’s best plan on the table — and then criticizing Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself offering an alternative.

What about Category 5 storm protection?

What about coastal restoration?

What about a confession that the federal government should assume the responsibility of helping hundreds of thousands of people rebuild the hundreds of thousands of homes that were destroyed by levees that were improperly designed by the federal government?

What a pathetic abdication of responsibility!

What would a fly on the wall have heard if it were near Mary Landrieu when she deliberately worked her way over to Bush after his speech, shaking his hand and patting him on the back? When she finished speaking, Bush gave her the conciliatory face of death — the look that says, “that’s interesting, but pardon me while I talk to this other person.”

Finally, how did the terms “wood chips,” “stalks,” and “switch grass” get into a State of the Union address? It sounds like the product of a speechwriter’s bet made in a bar room dare.

What should Louisianians do now? In a week in which Women of the Storm is lobbying Congress and the White House to visit New Orleans, their message doesn’t seem to have reached the White House.

I was talking to a colleague — the_velvet_rut — recently who noticed snipers posted on top of the Army Corps of Engineers building at the levee rally a couple of weeks ago. To me, the image of snipers engaging a peaceful demonstration of people waving signs, socializing, and barbecuing out on the levee is symbolic of everything the Bush administration represents — imperiling the safety and civic rights of Americans while pursuing a deadly agenda that benefits a few of his cronies.

Instead of vindicating the murdered victims of 9-11 with a strategy for success by strengthening relationships with true allies, George W. Bush continues to terrorize people around the world, unnecessarily violating the privacy of Americans instead of using the entirely adequate tools presently at our disposal (recall that a number of the 9-11 attackers were discovered without the Patriot Act or violating citizens’ rights to privacy — we were failed by an ineffectual, crony-ridden Bush administration).

Instead of helping hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their homes, especially here in New Orleans, George W. Bush continues to allow hundreds of thousands of them to languish as refugees.

The same colleague and I were talking about how the city of New Orleans is possibly a tinderbox ready to explode. With Mardi Gras right around the corner, that could be the flash point to spark the explosion.

We should commandeer Mardi Gras floats and drive them to Washington in protest, blocking traffic while throwing beads and rotten photographic memories, and heaving soggy furniture and moldy sheetrock on the White House grounds and on the steps of Congress.

Without a doubt, George W. Bush retains the Katrina boneless chicken award, and remains the worst president ever!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Just three percent of Bush’s attention is focused on Gulf Coast recovery

Posted by schroeder915 on January 31, 2006

What’s behind that nervous little thing he does with his jaw — that back and forth lower jaw twitch?

What explains that smug look — not the look of a disciplined intellect, but the look of a guy who knows he’s getting through another day without doing his own homework by reading prose written by someone else.

Yawn … blah blah blah. It’s what — 30 minutes into the State of the Union speech, and still no talk about the Gulf Coast?

I was appalled and offended by Bush’s word-for-word recitation of a sergeant killed in Iraq. How dare he — a man who was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard while “defending” the United States from Mexico at a time when other men his age were dying in Vietnam.

How dare he — a man who broke his obligation to defend the Constitution by cherry-picking unreliable WMD intelligence and embellishing the facts to order Americans to their deaths in Iraq. Bush is responsible for the maiming of 16,549 American soldiers, and the deaths of 2,241 of them.

How dare he:

Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. … It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.”

Bush never faced death himself — but he couldn’t have been more impatient to sacrifice the lives of others.

About 5,369 words were spoken in Bush’s speech, of which 161 words were spent on Hurricane Katrina recovery — less than three percent of what he had to say involved the concerns of hundreds of thousands of victims who continue to suffer from the worst disaster in American history.

Who’s advising this guy?

Bush’s remarks about Hurricane Katrina recovery were a stale refrain of philosophical platitudes devoid of any specific plan or commitment of resources.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency — and stays at it until they’re back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We’re removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We’re providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.

Were I Mary Landrieu or Governor Blanco — both seated in the audience — I think I might have blown my lid right there.

The mantra of $85 billion? Most of that went to no-bid cleanup contractors who are taking the profits, while pennies on the dollar get to the sub-sub-sub-contractors hiring illegal immigrants instead of getting locals to do the work for living wages. The actual new allocation for rebuilding endeavors was $29 billion, most of which is just to keep the federal flood insurance program solvent, and only $6.2 billion of which has been proposed by the Bush administration to help 20,000 homeowners whose homes weren’t in designated flood zones, and who didn’t have flood insurance, while the actual number is more like 77,340 homes in that category. Bush has proposed nothing to help rehabilitate over 200,000 homes damaged by flood waters.

Where’s the plan George? Bush can’t get away with shooting down the Baker plan last week — Louisiana’s best plan on the table — and then criticizing Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself offering an alternative.

What about Category 5 storm protection?

What about coastal restoration?

What about a confession that the federal government should assume the responsibility of helping hundreds of thousands of people rebuild the hundreds of thousands of homes that were destroyed by levees that were improperly designed by the federal government?

What a pathetic abdication of responsibility!

What would a fly on the wall have heard if it were near Mary Landrieu when she deliberately worked her way over to Bush after his speech, shaking his hand and patting him on the back? When she finished speaking, Bush gave her the conciliatory face of death — the look that says, “that’s interesting, but pardon me while I talk to this other person.”

Finally, how did the terms “wood chips,” “stalks,” and “switch grass” get into a State of the Union address? It sounds like the product of a speechwriter’s bet made in a bar room dare.

What should Louisianians do now? In a week in which Women of the Storm is lobbying Congress and the White House to visit New Orleans, their message doesn’t seem to have reached the White House.

I was talking to a colleague — the_velvet_rut — recently who noticed snipers posted on top of the Army Corps of Engineers building at the levee rally a couple of weeks ago. To me, the image of snipers engaging a peaceful demonstration of people waving signs, socializing, and barbecuing out on the levee is symbolic of everything the Bush administration represents — imperiling the safety and civic rights of Americans while pursuing a deadly agenda that benefits a few of his cronies.

Instead of vindicating the murdered victims of 9-11 with a strategy for success by strengthening relationships with true allies, George W. Bush continues to terrorize people around the world, unnecessarily violating the privacy of Americans instead of using the entirely adequate tools presently at our disposal (recall that a number of the 9-11 attackers were discovered without the Patriot Act or violating citizens’ rights to privacy — we were failed by an ineffectual, crony-ridden Bush administration).

Instead of helping hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their homes, especially here in New Orleans, George W. Bush continues to allow hundreds of thousands of them to languish as refugees.

The same colleague and I were talking about how the city of New Orleans is possibly a tinderbox ready to explode. With Mardi Gras right around the corner, that could be the flash point to spark the explosion.

We should commandeer Mardi Gras floats and drive them to Washington in protest, blocking traffic while throwing beads and rotten photographic memories, and heaving soggy furniture and moldy sheetrock on the White House grounds and on the steps of Congress.

Without a doubt, George W. Bush retains the Katrina boneless chicken award, and remains the worst president ever!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

MITCH THROWS HIS HAT IN THE RING FOR MAYOR!!!

Posted by schroeder915 on January 30, 2006

Where do I sign up? The Times-Picayune story is here.

We’ve all been promoting his candidacy — now we have to do what it takes not just make sure he wins, but to make sure he wins on a platform we all agree is the right one to rebuild all of New Orleans.

I’ve never lived in New Orleans when an honest, competent mayor was running the city — that’s three mayors I’m talking about, and no, I don’t think Nagin is competent. I think he’s mediocre at best — a nice guy I’d enjoy hanging around with eating crawfish and drinking Abita Restoration Ales with — but he’s not the mayor for me.

Oh, so Ron Forman might not run because he likes his sweet little half-mil-a-year job and it’s so low stress? Considering his ridiculous salary and his capital improvements which require destroying precious rainforest habitats for many of the animals housed in the Audobon Zoo, I guess you could say Ron’s politically green, but we’re not talking about the same kind of green James Audobon would be talking about.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Looking for WTUL’s Community Gumbo?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 28, 2006

Features that aired on WTUL’s Community Gumbo can be found here.

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Looking for WTUL’s Community Gumbo?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 28, 2006

Features that aired on WTUL’s Community Gumbo can be found here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Moron

Posted by schroeder915 on January 28, 2006

Dan Balz wrote in The Washington Post:

The coming year in many ways represents another national campaign for the president, aimed at preserving the gains his party has made in the past five years, as well as rehabilitating a reputation that has come under brutal assault from the opposition in recent months.

Brutal assault? From the Democrats?

What reputation to rehabilitate? Don’t we all know him to be a moron and a compulsive liar?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Redefining Republicanisms

Posted by schroeder915 on January 27, 2006

ownership society n. A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth [Michael Albert, Piscataway, NJ].

Lots more in The Nation’s Dictionary of Republicanisms.

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Faith-based diamond-mining subsidies

Posted by schroeder915 on January 27, 2006

Even if you’re one of those nuts who thinks it’s okay for public money to subsidize (and endorse) religious charities, who in their right mind would allow Pat Robertson (or any other filthy, groveling televangelist) to receive tax dollars … oh, I see, that freak Bush gave the nod:

With the Bush Administration’s approval, Robertson’s $66 million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has been prominently featured on FEMA’s list of charitable groups accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA’s list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for Robertson. “How in the heck did that happen?” Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing’s inclusion on FEMA’s list. “That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars.” …

Far from the media’s gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing’s planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire’s then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

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What’s your plan George?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 27, 2006

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita created one of the biggest crises in American history, and how does President Bush lead? By engaging in sincere and meaningful dialog out of sight of the cameras? No. Instead, he fires salvos at devastated Louisianians in press conferences.

Louisiana’s response to Bush’s press conference deserves just as much publicity (my emphasis):

“Louisiana has a well-designed bipartisan plan for reconstruction that the White House doesn’t want to accept and very publicly rejected just Tuesday,” Blanco said in a statement. “It would enable Louisiana homeowners to avoid foreclosure and will prevent widespread suffering and financial ruin by Louisiana homeowners who simply put their faith in the integrity of levees built by the U.S. government.

“Administration officials do not understand the suffering of the people of Louisiana,” Blanco said.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is pushing the Baker bill in the Senate, added: “The people of Louisiana have a plan. What we need is a willing, creative and enthusiastic partner in the federal government. What we need is for the president to be our No. 1 champion, not our No. 1 obstacle.”

Blanco said the administration’s opposition to Baker’s bill was like being “kicked in the teeth,” but she said she was even more disappointed by Bush’s comment that Louisiana does not have a plan to address its housing needs. …

“If they don’t like this plan, then they need to tell us which plan they do like,” she said. …

“I’ve worked hard not to have a chill in the air between me and the president,” Blanco said. “But I think now we have to call it like we see it.”

It isn’t just Democrats criticizing President Bush’s childish behavior. Here’s Louisiana Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal:

Jindal said, the federal government should take on the housing crisis in New Orleans, because it was the failure of federally built levees that caused many houses to flood. He regretted that the White House — which has proposed bailing out homeowners who had no insurance because they live outside the flood plain — this week torpedoed the broader program of government buyouts proposed by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge.

“I was disappointed in the decision about the Baker bill, but where I especially disagree with the administration is in the plan to focus on those houses outside of flood zones. That might work in Mississippi, but the problem in Louisiana is that you have tens of thousands who say, ‘My house was not flooded because of rain, but because the levees did not work the way they were designed to work. My house flooded because MR-GO was a hurricane highway,'” he said.

Let’s remember that when President Bush criticizes Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself participating in the planning discussion to enable a solution, he’s in very familiar territory. Just recently, retired Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinevich, a Vietnam veteran and respected advisor to three defense secretaries concluded that President Bush has pushed the U.S. military to its limit in Iraq, and is now in an unwinnable situation, due principally to the lack of a strategic plan for success in that country:

“Without a clear strategy in Iraq it is difficult to draft clear metrics for gauging progress. This may be why some senior political and military leaders have made overly optimistic or even contradictory declarations regarding the war’s progress.”

What Hurricane Katrina did was to shine a spotlight on the complete negligence and incompetence of the Bush administration. What we witnessed — and are still suffering from — was the dismantling of the bureaucracy of governance, or career professionals who know what they’re doing. Those professionals were replaced by Bush cronies and Pioneer fundraisers, yes men who would do the bidding of the administration, whether ignoring concerns by officials in the Clinton administration about Al Qaeda striking the United States, or cherry-picking intelligence to engage our country in an unjustifiable war, or gutting the emergency preparedness infrastructure and handing it off to private corporations in no-bid contracts.

What we American citizens got in return was a bastardization of our democracy, more dead Americans, and a short-sighted decision-making apparatus that could only see its way to the next opportunity to rip off the American taxpayer.

That’s why President Bush doesn’t have a plan to rebuild New Orleans. It’s the same reason he doesn’t have a plan for success in Iraq.

Compare the similarities between Iraq and New Orleans in this Tom Dispatch post:

It’s now notorious that the State Department did copious planning for a post-invasion, occupied Iraq, all of which was ignored by the Pentagon and Bush administration neocons when the country was taken. In New Orleans, it’s already practically notorious that endless planning, disaster war-gaming, and the like were done for how to deal with a future “Atlantis scenario,” none of which was attended to as Katrina bore down on the southeastern coast.

Louisiana doesn’t have a plan? Ask any New Orleanian on the street what the plan is. We have a plan.

Does President Bush have the courage?

Pot calling the kettle black I’d say.

1/28/2006 update: The Washington Post has an article in today’s paper on Bush’s abandonment of New Orleans.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

What’s your plan George?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 27, 2006

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita created one of the biggest crises in American history, and how does President Bush lead? By engaging in sincere and meaningful dialog out of sight of the cameras? No. Instead, he fires salvos at devastated Louisianians in press conferences.

Louisiana’s response to Bush’s press conference deserves just as much publicity (my emphasis):

“Louisiana has a well-designed bipartisan plan for reconstruction that the White House doesn’t want to accept and very publicly rejected just Tuesday,” Blanco said in a statement. “It would enable Louisiana homeowners to avoid foreclosure and will prevent widespread suffering and financial ruin by Louisiana homeowners who simply put their faith in the integrity of levees built by the U.S. government.

“Administration officials do not understand the suffering of the people of Louisiana,” Blanco said.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is pushing the Baker bill in the Senate, added: “The people of Louisiana have a plan. What we need is a willing, creative and enthusiastic partner in the federal government. What we need is for the president to be our No. 1 champion, not our No. 1 obstacle.”

Blanco said the administration’s opposition to Baker’s bill was like being “kicked in the teeth,” but she said she was even more disappointed by Bush’s comment that Louisiana does not have a plan to address its housing needs. …

“If they don’t like this plan, then they need to tell us which plan they do like,” she said. …

“I’ve worked hard not to have a chill in the air between me and the president,” Blanco said. “But I think now we have to call it like we see it.”

It isn’t just Democrats criticizing President Bush’s childish behavior. Here’s Louisiana Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal:

Jindal said, the federal government should take on the housing crisis in New Orleans, because it was the failure of federally built levees that caused many houses to flood. He regretted that the White House — which has proposed bailing out homeowners who had no insurance because they live outside the flood plain — this week torpedoed the broader program of government buyouts proposed by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge.

“I was disappointed in the decision about the Baker bill, but where I especially disagree with the administration is in the plan to focus on those houses outside of flood zones. That might work in Mississippi, but the problem in Louisiana is that you have tens of thousands who say, ‘My house was not flooded because of rain, but because the levees did not work the way they were designed to work. My house flooded because MR-GO was a hurricane highway,'” he said.

Let’s remember that when President Bush criticizes Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself participating in the planning discussion to enable a solution, he’s in very familiar territory. Just recently, retired Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinevich, a Vietnam veteran and respected advisor to three defense secretaries concluded that President Bush has pushed the U.S. military to its limit in Iraq, and is now in an unwinnable situation, due principally to the lack of a strategic plan for success in that country:

“Without a clear strategy in Iraq it is difficult to draft clear metrics for gauging progress. This may be why some senior political and military leaders have made overly optimistic or even contradictory declarations regarding the war’s progress.”

What Hurricane Katrina did was to shine a spotlight on the complete negligence and incompetence of the Bush administration. What we witnessed — and are still suffering from — was the dismantling of the bureaucracy of governance, or career professionals who know what they’re doing. Those professionals were replaced by Bush cronies and Pioneer fundraisers, yes men who would do the bidding of the administration, whether ignoring concerns by officials in the Clinton administration about Al Qaeda striking the United States, or cherry-picking intelligence to engage our country in an unjustifiable war, or gutting the emergency preparedness infrastructure and handing it off to private corporations in no-bid contracts.

What we American citizens got in return was a bastardization of our democracy, more dead Americans, and a short-sighted decision-making apparatus that could only see its way to the next opportunity to rip off the American taxpayer.

That’s why President Bush doesn’t have a plan to rebuild New Orleans. It’s the same reason he doesn’t have a plan for success in Iraq.

Compare the similarities between Iraq and New Orleans in this Tom Dispatch post:

It’s now notorious that the State Department did copious planning for a post-invasion, occupied Iraq, all of which was ignored by the Pentagon and Bush administration neocons when the country was taken. In New Orleans, it’s already practically notorious that endless planning, disaster war-gaming, and the like were done for how to deal with a future “Atlantis scenario,” none of which was attended to as Katrina bore down on the southeastern coast.

Louisiana doesn’t have a plan? Ask any New Orleanian on the street what the plan is. We have a plan.

Does President Bush have the courage?

Pot calling the kettle black I’d say.

1/28/2006 update: The Washington Post has an article in today’s paper on Bush’s abandonment of New Orleans.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »