Friday, December 30, 2005

Top 10 Wastes of Air Time for 2005

Being the year's end my thoughts have turned to the many stories which at best should have consumed mere minutes perhaps hours and at worst should have been relegated to being local news stories if even that. Upon learning that almost a quarter of Americans still believe Saddam was linked to 9/11 and that same number believe the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis I believe this is not just a cute year end round up but points to opportunities lost for informing the populace of basic facts. I wonder how things might be different if it were not for these collosal time wasting stories.........

#9 Iraqi Elections

Which election? Take your pick..... its all the same feel good purple finger cheerleading that doesn't make much difference to what happens on the ground in Iraq a few days later. Of course the first election was the best for the cheerleaders. You always remember your first time. For Geraldo it was AMAZING....."They are casting their ballot for the first time. It was so inspiring. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my entire life....It is the most amazing sight.....I'll tell you folks, it is an amazing, amazing feeling."
Got it. I'll be amazed when we have paper tracking of ballots in the good 'ol US of A.

#8 Stuck Landing Gear

OK it was a good story the first time. But since that ratings grabber we have watched fuel burning planes circle the cabloid friendly skies live for hours on end. Like an old jock trying to re-live his glory days the 3 cabloid networks chase each of these planes in distress hoping the 4th time will be as good (ratings Ka ching) as the first. It won't unless one crashes in a ball of that what they're hoping for?

#7 Pope Dies

Yes it is history but Smoke Cams, TV doctors, priests, bishops, live all nighters, Chris Matthews Catholic extrordinaire and live wall-to-wall-coverage for days on end? Or was it weeks? I literally tuned out and turned it off. Pooped on pope I missed a week of TV news.

#6. Hurricanes except Katrina

From Dennis to Wilma to Rita we saw way too many news folks lashed to the masts, live 24 hours a day. MSNBC's Al Roker took the top prize with his flop. I get the feeling this is like adolescents who try to see how much they can drink in a night without killing themselves. Are hurricanes the cabloid Death Wish?
But props to the cabloids for Katrina coverage. More please? It ain't over.

#5 War on Christmas

Never has more war fraud been created of whole cloth than since DeNiro bombed Albania. O'Reilly may have led the sleigh but all the cabloids jumped on for the ride of shame.

#4 Run Away Bride

Another TV News Lost Weekend for me. Turned.It.Off.
Of course O'Reilly had it figured out from the start..."It's got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job... She just wouldn't bolt and not tell anybody."
That's the kind of stuff that gets you to the top of the Pyramid.

And from Sally Quinn Sugary Medicine Woman ....."I think the appeal of it, if you look what is in the news this week or last week, Social Security, the filibuster and the horrible bombings in Iraq, what do you want to know about? I want to think about the runaway bride, because it means it's either not going to be boring or it's not going to be depressing."

Network entertainment has gone to reality TV and news programs have ditched reality for fantasy land. We're all Sally in Wonderland now.

#3 Missing White Woman....Original Aruba version

Sequels just never do well so its best to go with 7 months of the original. At one point Fox News' Van Sustern boasted that Fox News had 20 people on the ground in Aruba. From 6/26-6/30 the word Aruba was uttered 1100 times on the 3 cabloid networks. Fox won that pissing match with 685.
To quote Mr. Gump..."Stupid is as stupid does.....That's all I have to say about that. "

#2 Terri Schiavo

I have saved 2 close biological relatives from making terrible life choices with just 2 words..."Terri Schiavo"......and this admonishment...."we could all end up on CNN, you can't risk doing that to your family!"
This was a family matter run amok by the Christian Right that eventually brought us Senate video diagnosis, late night debate and the only instance of Bush ditching vacation and jumping to action. And TV egged it on all the way. But when a dead woman's life is at stake......

#1 Michael Jackson

Ahh. The King of Crap. Even CNN prez Jonathon Klein regrets it. He told Newsweek "he's taking steps so that CNN doesn't have to go wacko for Jacko, or someone like him, again.....He marveled at opportunities lost: "We could have done 60 stories during that time."

NO SHIT and Give me a break.
If Whacko Jacko dangled a Baby in Bahrain tomorrow Klein would be chasing Fox to the Persian Gulf faster than you can say Bye Bye Aaron Brown.

So that's it folks....Oh wait, that's only 9 you say.
Yes it is because I want to give you the opportunity to put one on the list.
I'm sure I missed something.

Or what story listed above drove you crazy this year?
Or in what order would you place them?

Rumsfeld's Tokyo Torture

You may remember General Pace's disagreement with Rummy last month at a press conference about US soldiers obligation if they saw Iraqi soldiers abusing detainees . Well yesterday Pace attempted to clear it up....
When General Pace was asked again on Thursday by reporters in Bahrain about the exchange, he said for the first time that he and Mr. Rumsfeld had not really disagreed at all. General Pace said he was talking about the obligations of American soldiers in a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan; Mr. Rumsfeld, he said, was talking about the obligations of Americans in a nonhostile setting like, say, Tokyo.(emphasis mine)
Torture in Tokyo???

Thursday, December 29, 2005

From Survival of New Orleans Blog.....
How long does it take to raise a new flag after Hurricane Katrina? The answer is obviously more than three months for at least one building as pictured above. Obviously some individuals are too busy to put up a new flag or just don’t have the resources to purchase and put up a new flag. Any guesses why this flag has not been replaced? The flag is attached to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building. Here are a few more pictures from today

US Teen Goes To Iraq By Himself

Oy......Just go read it

Sorry I had the wrong link...thank you Kenosha Kid

Number of Gitmo Hunger Strikers Doubles

The BBC reports there are now a total of 84 detainees are on hunger stikes with 46 having joined in the strike on December 25. They are being fed with nasal tubes which one BBC correspondent claims amounts to force feeding.
One hunger striker is Jumah Dossari. He has attempted suicide 9 times since March 2003. You can read about him here.

This is Why They're Stingy with Antibiotics

There is a mysterious intestinal bug that is spreading rapidly which can be fatal and is believed to be a consequence of our use of antibiotics and heartburn drugs. This isn't a run of the mill bug. The symptoms include very painful stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, fatigue and nausea. Mortality rates have been as high as 6.9% in Canada.

But scientists do have a few clues. The dangerous strain has mutated to become resistant to a class of frequently used antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. That means anyone taking those antibiotics for other reasons would be particularly prone to contract C. diff .

"Because this strain is resistant, it can take advantage of that situation and establish itself in the gut," Gerding said.

Experts said the resistant germ's proliferation offers the latest reason why people should use antibiotics only when necessary, to reduce both their risk for C. diff and the chances that other microbes will mutate into more dangerous forms.

I Got NSA Cookies!

If you visited the NSA website recently you may have received some Cookies.
Shakespeare's Sister has more on the story.....
Looks like the NSA has been caught with their hands in the cookie jar--the electronic sort. Now, most sites use cookies to remember info and it comes in handy, oftentimes. However, the NSA has these things called "rules" that they're supposed to follow when it comes to cookies on computers and privacy. Surprise, surprise--they didn't. Of course, it was "an accident".
Evidently they stopped the practice once they were caught this week.

But not soon enough for me.

I went to the NSA website after the story broke. So today I decided to check my cookies (eeew that sounds kind of dirty) And lo and behold the NSA cookies were indeed on my Computer.
They are called CFID, CFGLOBALS and CFTOKEN......

(Click image to enlarge and get better read)

Ahh excuse me readers we have special guests.....

"Romper, bomper, stomper, boo.
Tell me, tell me, tell me do.
Magic mirror, tell me today.
Did all my friends have fun at play?"

I see Porter and Dick and George and all you boys and girls out there at the NSA!!!

ACLU Calls for Special Counsel

The ACLU ran the following advertisement in the December 29, 2005 edition of The New York Times:

Go to ACLU website to sign petition

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fatal "Choice" to Stay

The Times Picayune has an article on the "choice" to stay in NOLA and not evacuate in advance of Hurricane Katrina.

With the issues raised in the article and being a good Scout (see sidebar) I'll place myself in the shoes of a NOLA resident pre-Katrina given my circumstances.

I have a crappy car, no credit cards, scant savings and a cat I love.....
I would have asked will my crummy car make it very far up the road?
(a question I routinely ask anyway for any trip over 10 miles )
If it breaks down then what do I do? Abandon it and walk with my belongings and a cat carrier?
Would anyone offer me and my howling cat a ride? Would I want a ride from anyone who'd offer?
If the car doesn't break down how will I pay for a hotel, gas and food with no credit card and little savings?
What will I do with Teddy my cat? Will I be allowed to keep her in the hotel I can't pay for?

It doesn't look good for me. I'd like to think I'd have overcome my circumstances and got out. But I'm afraid it looks like all would have combined to have made me "chose" to stay and possibly have ended up a statistic.
How about you?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Help the Katrina Missing:
Please Sign This Petition

It appears though FEMA info for missing Katrina children is now being shared with those working to find them, the same is not true for missing and displaced adults. This is a comment from a reader.....

Please remember that the children are not the only missing people who need their caregivers. Many of the missing are very elderly, disabled, or ill. I'm a volunteer helping families search for the missing. We volunteers have started a petition to Congress asking that FEMA be required to share their information.

This is a portion of that petition....
Nursing homes and hospitals in New Orleans still have not located all
their patients.The state of Louisiana cannot find 51 foster children
and their foster parents.An untold number of families are desperately
searching for elderly and ill relatives who are unable to speak for
themselves.Families still search for loved ones who lie among the
hundreds of dead at St. Gabriel morgue, whose names FEMA will not release.

FEMA says in its mission statement that one of its major roles is to
"minimize suffering and disruption caused by disasters."It promises
that, "FEMA will provide timely and appropriate disaster assistance to
hasten the recovery of individuals and communities."Sharing
information is a crucial part of the recovery assistance FEMA must now
provide.The lack of information is causing untold suffering.

FEMA promises that its data collection and Information Technology system
"will serve as the Nation's portal for emergency management information
before, during, and after disaster strikes... FEMA will provide a
single entry point through which users can access a broad spectrum of
relevant emergency management information.

Please click here to sign the petition
And click to see those who have signed in order to read the comments.

Good News: Missing Katrina Kids Info Now Being Shared

Yesterday I posted on how FEMA had not been sharing information on missing Katrina Children with the Center for Missing and Expolited Children. The FBI finally stepped in by requesting that info. It was unclear from WWLTV's story if that info was being made available to the Center for Missing Children.
I just spoke with The Center for Missing and Exploited Children and they report the FEMA information is now available to them.
They said it is already helping them to clear names from their list that stood at 485 last week to 465 now.

Racism & Classism Now Keep NOLA Residents Out

The Times Picayune is reporting what no one wants to hear or have said. Race and Class tensions survived Katrina and are alive and well in NOLA. FEMA has 17777 trailers for temporary housing ready to be delivered to NOLA but no one wants them in their back yard and so the trailers and displaced residents are on hold. Mayor Nagin has had to back off from a list of trailer sites he released last week due to "howls of outrage" from many residents and City Council members. The Time Picayune says this...
Local foes of the trailers express concerns about crime, lower property values and the need for children to have recreational space. But the supercharged nature of the discussion hints at its unsavory, largely unacknowledged underpinnings: racial and class divisions. (emphasis mine)
The property values canard has long been America's way of dressing up racism in nice clothes. However the Times Picayune to their credit reports....

But time and again, the deepest anxieties animating the fight against trailer parks are attached to stereotypes about the people who most urgently need the temporary housing.

A resident near the Marrero trailer park, who did not want to be named because of fear of retaliation, said of New Orleans: "You used to have murders on the news every night. Nobody would want to live next to that."

At a contentious meeting about the site in November, one woman blurted from the audience, "How do we know these people are not from the projects of Orleans?" And several residents urged that trailer sites in Jefferson be used solely for Jefferson residents.

For once FEMA is ready to deliver but the local's racism and classism are holding them up. One resident who is more enlightened said "It absolutely gives us the wrong image after people have given to us so generously," and worries the nation and Congress will become disgusted. Well yes...I'm disgusted.

New Orleans became the bellwether city for American racism in late August. The nation watched in disgust as tens of thousands of black faces were unable to get out and now we watch as they can't get back in. While the rest of America can still keep its dirty little secrets under wraps NOLA is facing our national nightmare head on. This is an opportunity. Yet as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, Bush and Congress will do nothing and I'm reminded of words spoken 42 years ago when another president was finally forced to deal with racism...

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is -- whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.......Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality---John F Kennedy

Yeah we've come a long way baby

Monday, December 26, 2005

485 Children Still Missing 4 Months After Katrina

WWLTV reports that 485 Children are still missing post Katrina and once again FEMA is at the center of the problem. FEMA has refused to release information to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Louisiana Clearing House for Missing Children. FEMA is running its own missing person's hotline but "Walter Fahr, manager of the Louisiana Clearing House for Missing Children, said FEMA has names, addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of evacuees that could help connect parents with children." He went on to to say "the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has had more expertise than FEMA in finding missing children." FEMA says this.....

the agency could only release personal information to law enforcement such as the FBI. FEMA’s Nicol Andrews said the FBI made its first request for a broad amount of data on December 5 and that information was released three days later. There was a request for more information that was given to the FBI Thursday. Andrews said there has been no delay, adding that finding children has been a key priority for FEMA.

NO DELAY! Can you imagine not knowing where your child was for 4 Months??? Or a child without their parents for 4 long months???

These are extraordinary circumstances under which FEMA certainly could have sought an exception from lawmakers to expedite the process of reuniting families. Obviously they can not do the job of finding these children. FEMA should step aside and turn over pertinent information to the experts. They have been turning over information to the FBI but it is unclear if that information has or will in the future go to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Finally how could this story have gone unreported until now?

Click to view WWLTV story

UPDATE: December 27..... I just spoke with The Center for Missing and Exploited Children and they report the FEMA information is now available to them and with that info they are making progress in clearing names from their list.

UPDATE: Commenters here and elsewhere have raised the issue of race as a factor in the delay for finding these children. You can download the database of missing Katrina/Rita children from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

There are now 465 missing children.
Missing Children by State:

432 are from the New Orleans area and 16 from MS so 96% if not more are certainly Katrina victims

Missing Children by RACE:

American Indian.....2

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bloggers: Please Come to Iraq

WaPo reports the military admits to becoming "increasingly aggressive" in its attempts to control information on the Iraq war. To that end the military has embedded bloggers and is distributing news releases to military bloggers. One example......
Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called "The Fourth Rail" ( ), to come cover the war from the front lines.
After military officials in Baghdad said Roggio could not be issued media credentials unless he was affiliated with an organization, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization in Washington, offered him an affiliation, according to an entry on Roggio's blog.

Along with paying to plant stories this is another example of the military's attempt to subvert the press. As a Marine public affairs officer is quoted as saying, with a blogger, they don't have to "worry about some editor back in the States altering what he wrote before it got published." I wonder how the Pentagon would react if the Washington Post were to go around part of the military command structure such as public affairs or a better analogy yet, CentCom, as its not to be trusted. I don't think that would fly yet the military has no qualms in doing such.

Embedding of journalists in itself can be problematic to say nothing of embedding bloggers. A case can be made that some embedded journalist's objectivity was challenged during the Iraq war. (If you doubt that watch this quick video montage as a reminder) I'm sure more than a few journalists look back on that period with some embarrassment and wish a good editor had stepped in to say take it down a notch. Embeds also get a limited scope of the war and security is such in Iraq that even if not embedded, journalists have very limited freedom of movement in Iraq. But embedding bloggers is even more problematic. Roggio for example clearly came to his assignment with an agenda which fit perfectly with the military's agenda.

I'll cut to the chase. Blogging isn't journalism. I am not a journalist. Though I have many problems with journalism today in America I certainly do not advocate substituting the function of the press with blogging and certainly not propaganda blogging brought to you by the military and the American Enterprise Institute. Now that the War on Christmas is over I hope the media will report as vigorously, on a real war ongoing in America, as they did on that phony war and that is the War on the Press.

UPDATE: From the US theater of the War on the Press....
Last week we learned Bush met with editors of the NYT to kill a story. Today Howard Kurtz reports that The Washington Post was also summoned to the White House over Dana Priest's story on the secret CIA prisons. The Post's editor would not confirm ....

But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the sessions off the record. The White House had no comment.

I said I'm not a journalist but if I were this would be a story on the front page of my paper.

UPDATE: Editor & Publisher has a good story on embedded reporters.....SPECIAL REPORT: Original 'Embeds,' Three Years On, Discuss Iraq War Coverage, Then and Now

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Christmas Video

Here is my Christmas 'video' but first let me just say....
I hate this war. I think of what could be, what should be, for so many if we were at Peace.
So many who would just be living their lives.
So this Christmas I hope you'll remember what a gift that is in this time of War.....and the people who will not receive it this year.........

Click card above or CLICK HERE to view Video
(Direct link, No download, 6 minutes)

Once there you may have to click on line saying "Click here to skip the sponsor and watch the movie"

UPDATE: Go watch this video from Talk Left....Clinton and Liel Sing for Peace

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bush Obstruction of Homeland Security

Yesterday Bush made it clear that Democrats were to blame for obstruction of the Patriot Act and that action placed American lives in danger.
The Senate Democratic Leader recently boasted about killing the Patriot Act. This obstruction is inexcusable. The senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers.
Therefore obstructing Homeland Security was inexusable. With that in mind it is stunning to read the first of a series of articles by the Washington Post on the undermining of The Department of Homeland Security much of which could have been stopped had the Bush administration shown leadership and had not itself obstructed the department's efforts. It is a long article but well worth the read.

Bush never wanted this department. As much as Bush complains of playing politics with homeland security WaPo reports Bush only moved to create it because Republicans "did not want to cede the homeland security issue to the Democrats." Once in place the department was hindered by bureaucratic turf wars but did not receive help from the White House in cutting through the mess. In fact the White House often blocked homeland security organization efforts as Hill Republicans and WH staff feared the development of an "ineffectual behemoth." It thus became a self fullfilling prophecy as the department could not count on "political support" from the White House.......

One stark example was the White House's blockade of a Ridge-supported plan to secure large chemical plants. After Sept. 11, Whitman had worked with Ridge on a modest effort to require high-risk plants -- especially the 123 factories where a toxic release could endanger at least 1 million people -- to enhance security. But industry groups warned Bush political adviser Karl Rove that giving new regulatory power to the Environmental Protection Agency would be a disaster.

"We have a similar set of concerns," Rove wrote to the president of BP Amoco Chemical Co.

In an interagency meeting shortly before DHS's birth, White House budget official Philip J. Perry, who also happens to be Cheney's son-in-law, declared the Ridge-Whitman plan dead.

"Tom and I would just throw our hands up in frustration over that issue," Whitman recalled.

WaPo gives numerous examples of White House obstruction of Ridge's efforts and as one of Ridge's top advisors put it..."The White House did not support us. That occurred repeatedly. It was as if the White House created us and then set out to marginalize us."

It is rich to hear the Bush administration rail at supposed Democrat obstruction and throw out "playing politics" with security given he undertook the largest reorganization of government for political reasons and then torpedoed that very project for other political considerations. Republicans pre-emptively placed blame on Democrats for any future terrorists attacks for debating parts of the Patriot Act. Let's talk proportion and justification. The Democrats obstruct the Patriot Act until parts that threaten civil liberties be dropped or amended. Republicans obstruct the entire Department of Homeland Security for political power. Given that who are you going to blame????

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Fun with Dick

Froomkin has this on reporter's flying on Dick's plane

"Working passengers began lining up their laptops to share the power from a couple of working outlets - particularly the reporters who urgently needed to prepare their articles to transmit during a quick refueling stop in England.

"But when Cheney said his iPod needed to be recharged, it took precedence above all else and dominated one precious outlet for several hours. The vice president's press staff intervened so a reporter could use the outlet for 15 minutes to charge a dead laptop, but then the digital music device was plugged back in."

Katrina News

The National Hurricane Center now says Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane when it hit landfall. It was thought to have been a Category 4 hurricane.
Not good news for NOLA as the new levees will be built to Category 3 protection.
Another body was found in the Lower 9th Ward. The decomposed body of an elderly woman was found in her home Tuesday.
St Bernard Parish sets March 31 deadline for residents to decide if they will have their home bulldozed. It's estimated that 17,000 of the 35,000 homes in the parish are not worth saving. Residents have a choice but if it is not made by the deadline the parish will decide for them
The Senate approved $29 billion in Katrina relief tonight. The bill needs to go back to the House for approval as the Senate version varies from the original House one.

Wingnuts: Well Clinton Did It....

The wingnuts may be orgasmic with their nana nana nana BUT Clinton did not sign a secret order to search Americans. Fom Think Progress.....

What Clinton actually signed:

Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.

That section requires the Attorney General to certify is the search will not involve “the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person.” That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States.

And as for the Gorelick redherring I just heard put forth on CNN by Victoria Toensing and many in the blogosphere read Think Progress again.....

In 1994, the FISA did not cover physical searches. She [Gorelick]was explaining what the President’s authority was in the absence of any congressional statute. She wasn’t arguing that the President had the authority to ignore FISA.

In 1995, with President Clinton’s signature, FISA was amended to include physical searches. That law prohibited warrantless domestic physical searches. No one in the Clinton administration, including Gorelick, ever argued that the administration could ignore the law, before or after it was amended.

I have not heard nor seen one argument supporting Bush that holds up once put under the scutiny of a fact check.

UPDATE: Atrios was watching Toensing too and puts the train back on the track...

"For the record I don't think a warrantless search was a desirable thing for Clinton to do, but as Toensing of course knows at that time there was no specific statute covering such things. It led to the expansion of FISA to cover physical searches, and the Clinton administration never aruged that they were not bound by the requirements of the expanded FISA authority. They just argued that since there was a statutory gap the executive had the right. Once that gap was closed, [Think Progress link] they followed the law.

That is the fundamental issue here - not what the president should and shouldn't be allowed to do with respect to searches, warrantless or not, but whether or not the Bush administration believes they have the right to explicitly break the law. They said they can, they have been, and will continue to do so. That's the issue."

There is a civil liberties issue, and we can have that debate too, but this is about President Bush willfully and intentionally committing multiple felonies.


Tent cities are rising up in Mississippi to house Katrina victims.....
The tent city here is one of three set up in recent weeks along the Mississippi coast, making room for families now that the emergency shelters have closed and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working through a backlog of some 5,000 families still on waiting lists for government-supplied travel trailers or mobile homes.
There are 3 tent cities with 300 residents and more people are moving in daily. Residents are for the most part grateful. The tents can be heated and have wood floors but it is still some hard living...
When the wind blows in from the Gulf or it rains, there can be no mistaking that despite any effort at niceties, the accommodations are rudimentary.

"It is a bit like a tomb," said Dave Frisby, 55, a handyman whose home and tools were washed away by Hurricane Katrina. "It can be depressing."


Boredom is perhaps the biggest problem in the tent cities. There are no electrical outlets in the tents in Long Beach, meaning no television and no way to charge cellphones.

"You can't communicate with the world," said Kenneth Gray, 55, who was a construction worker in Gulfport before Hurricane Katrina. "It is just so isolated."

You would think we could do better than a modern day Hooverville.

Fox Scabs

From mediabistro......Fox News is using double decker buses to bus New Yorkers......
This morning, on the second day of the MTA strike in NYC, Fox News deployed two double decker "FOX & Friends" buses to help New Yorkers get uptown.

"They are bringing in commuters to midtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge," an e-mailer said this morning. "Hot coffee is being served as well." The bus made some stops along the way up 6th Ave. and eventually reached FNC HQ.
Of course Fox News head Roger Ailes doesn't care, he's got his....a new $25 million contract
News Corp the global media company, has signed a new five-year, $25m contract with Roger Ailes, the head of its television group. The contract also calls for an annual bonus of at least $1m, and includes a grant of 330,000 restricted stock units, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Turley: Bush Broke Law,
Impeachable Offense

Johnathon Turley of George Washington University Law School was interviewed on Nightline.
Turley discusses the resignation, of U.S. District Judge James Robertson of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, "in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources."
Turley also states Bush broke the law and it is an impeachable offense.

If you didn't see this you really should watch.

CLICK here to view video (Direct link, No download, 3 minutes)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Let's Play 6 Degrees of NSA Separation

NSA collects phone numbers and where it leads....who knows????

NSA picks up phone call from

Al Qaeda #2 Ayman al Zawahri to...

Al Qaeda #3 Al Libbi

who calls the head of Al Qaeda Iraq...

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

al-Zarqawi then attempts to call his #2
but dials wrong number and instead

gets Sampson an Iraqi driver who is running late....

to pick up his American fare so he calls ....

the visiting Sean Penn to say he'll be there soon......

So while Sean waits he calls "Mystic River" co star ...........

OK Ok..... you got a better one?

Seriously though.....I've heard the trolls saying if you're an innocent upstanding American what do you have to fear? Well we don't know how far they are casting their net and who is getting caught up in it. You don't think the phone number of an innocent American could end up in their database? Think again. Senator Kennedy was on the no fly list. Innocents were in Gitmo and released. They may not be out to get you but they could get you anyway. So be realistically paranoid.

Censure Bush

Congressman John Conyers has introduced three new pieces of legislation aimed at censuring President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and at creating a fact-finding committee that could be a first step toward impeachment.

For more info go to........Censure Bush

Prez Lies

President's Remarks at Ask President Bush Event
Mid-States Aluminum Corporation
Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
July 14, 2004

THE PRESIDENT: Let me -- that's a great question. A couple of things that are very important for you to understand about the Patriot Act. First of all, any action that takes place by law enforcement requires a court order. In other words, the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.

Today's Messages From Blog Free America

The furry llama backed Up to the Nativity Scene Ass.

Prickly pests sing confident durges to the Little enemies

The chair rests in the field of black strings with ginger orange.

"Martial Law"

TPM Cafe has this on late night 'legislating'......
The House's adoption, on a party-line vote, of so-called "martial law," suspending, among other items, the normal requirement that Members have at least 24 hours to read major legislation before they vote on it, was authoritarian even by House GOP standards.
This is "martial law"...
This extraordinary procedure is known as a “martial law” rule because it suspends the normal procedures and safeguards and allows the House Leadership to operate in a more authoritarian fashion. It enables the Leadership to seek to ram a bill or conference report through before the Members have the opportunity to fully understand what they are voting on.

Go read the martial law link.
The Republicans have become our new dictatorial overlords and I don't welcome them.

(Thanks to reader robinhood)

Bush: Hold the Presses

(via Atrios and Attytood)

Newsweek is reporting "on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the [NSA] story.The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president’s desperation."

Newsweek is tough on Bush stating he tried to kill the story "because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker."

As for the NYT I don't even know what to say anymore......
Wow at least they didn't cave in...... again?

UPDATE: Well now I know what to think of the NYT.... motherf#%@*$#s!

(Via Atrios) ...The LA Times reports the NYT knew of the secret NSA spying on Americans BEFORE the election last year and only printed the story last week "when it became apparent a book by one of its reporters was about to break the news."

Blah Blah Blah Iraq Election Blah Blah Blah

What Digby says.....
Can someone please tell the Republicans that even if the NY Times had printed the NSA story next month instead of last week that there would not have been a great swelling of Bush love over the Iraqi elections last week?

The reason the story didn't capture the public's imagination is not because the other one stepped on it; it's because we've heard it all before. The public has lost count of how many of these "milestone elections" have taken place. Each time, we are supposed to have a big group hug and congratulate ourselves for our great generosity. And then each time shit starts blowing up again in Iraq almost immediately.
For the rest.....

Frisk 'Em

From Froomkin. This is funny....

"Afghan security forces insisted on searching all the bags carried by members of Cheney's staff and the press who were left outside.

"Secret Service agents objected, saying they had already been checked. A White House advance staffer already on site came out and angrily demanded that the Afghans admit military aides carrying the briefcase that contains the U.S. government's nuclear weapon codes.

" 'I'm telling you to open the gates now,' the White House staffer said. 'These are the vice president's military aides.'

"The Afghans allowed Cheney's military aides through but insisted on doing complete body searches of the rest of his traveling party."


Bush had a bump in the Post-ABC poll he went from 39% approval last month to 47%.
That gain though was from conservatives that he had lost previously. "Among Democrats, independents and moderates Bush's support remained unchanged or increased only modestly."
Looks like a Base Bounce to me.

But Bush showed a modest gain in the CNN/USA today/Gallup poll .... up from 37% last month to a rating of 41%....But it's actually down from 42% a few weeks ago.

Monday, December 19, 2005

FBI Spying on Citizen Groups

The NYT reports "counterterrorism agents at the FBI have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations" on an array of citizen groups.
A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I. indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration. A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I. indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration.

The the F.B.I. "has used employees, interns and other confidential informants" within groups to obtain information. The following groups were mentioned in heavily redacted documents obtained through FOIA lawsuits by the ACLU:
  • Greenpeace as to whether it was connected to Earth Liberation Front or Animal Liberation Front.
  • Catholic Workers... a group working on poverty issues that FBI said had a "semi-communistic ideology"
  • PETA's protest against llama fir
  • Vegan Community Indianapolis group
  • people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (from WaPo)
  • The ACLU (from WaPo)
  • peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University (from WaPo)
  • groups planning demonstrations at last year's conventions (from WaPo)
So now we know of FBI, NSA and the Pentagon all spying on US citizens. It is so Nixonian. I never thought I would see the return of such actions by our government.
I do not disagree with surveillance of terrorists when done within the law however my fear has been the government would over reach to spy on dissidents or activists unrelated to terrorism and it appears I was right to have been fearful. How far has Bush gone? This is very disturbing.

Malkin Is Wrong

Last week I wrote that Malkin was misleading in claiming African Americans were not the majority of Katrina dead. This week I realize she was Wrong.
The LA Times has done some analysis of Katrina dead. The focus was on class. They conclude Katrina deaths cut across class because "of the 528 bodies recovered from identifiable addresses in city neighborhoods, 230 came from areas that had household incomes above the citywide median of $27,133. The poorer areas accounted for 298 bodies."

Unlike Malkin or Newsmax the LA Times is at least upfront in saying "the information used in The Times analysis was incomplete, due to difficulties in gathering data in the days after Katrina struck and to bureaucratic problems that followed." The state official in charge of identifying Katrina's victims, Dr. Louis Cataldie told the Times that "the data you have leaves a lot to be desired. I don't know if it'll ever be 100%." The Times also reports a few bodies are being found each week and "officials say other victims may have been swept into the Gulf of Mexico, never to be found."

This was my major objection last week to Malkin's claim that the majority of Katrina dead were not African American. We don't have a full picture and more important probably never will. Given that, it is dangerous to make proclamations as Malkin did to make political points. But something that I suspected however could not ascertain is made clear by another part of the LA Times' analysis which regards race....
New Orleans was the site of most of Katrina's fatalities; the state reported that 76% of storm deaths statewide occurred in the city. Of the 380 bodies from New Orleans that have been formally identified, a moderately disproportionate number are white. New Orleans' population was 28% white, yet 33% of the identified victims in the city are white and 67% black.(emphasis mine)

From these statistics we see Malkin's post entitled: "Who Died in New Orleans?" isn't just dishonest as I said last week. Malkin is dead WRONG. Malkin and Newsmax used the total number of dead for the entire state of Louisiana and then applied it to New Orleans. They then said that the majority of dead were not black because New Orleans is 67% African American but only 48% of the victims were African American. That 48% is for the entire state. But as the LA Times reports, in New Orleans 67% of the victims were black. Not only were African Americans the majority of New Orleans dead they made up 2/3 of the victims. But Malkin and Newsmax jumped to their false conclusion because they were lazy, sloppy and frankly didn't know what they were talking about. But it fit their political agenda.

One last important point regarding race, class and Katrina. I don't believe the death rate is the best means to judge the impact of the hurricane response as regards either variable. That more poor or black didn't die bears no relation to the fact that they were left behind in NOLA in greater numbers and they were the one who disproportionately suffered from the poor response. This is what Americans found so disgusting.....seeing fellow Americans left behind to fend for themselves. They didn't die from the hurricane but their lives were endangered due to neglect.

One variable that may end up to be deserving of attention in terms of future planning for disaster response is age. The LA Times reports that 70% of NOLA dead were over 60 years old. From statewide stats I found 64% of Katrina dead were over 60 and 39% over 75. The elderly are less mobile. They may be physically unable or even less willing to heed evacuations. Once the hurricane struck and they found themselves in dire situations they were certainly the most physically unable to save themselves as they were the weakest. Age may end up being the one variable that is predictive of likelihood to have died in Katrina.

But can we wait until all the statistics are in? Unfortunately even then we won't 'know if it will ever be 100%.'

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Pentagon's Growing Reach

It really is amazing what is being leaked to the press. If the "spooks" are uncomfortable with what is happening then you should certainly be so.

The Pentagon's newest counterterrorism agency, charged with protecting military facilities and personnel wherever they are, is carrying out intelligence collection, analysis and operations within the United States and abroad, according to a Pentagon fact sheet on the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, provided to The Washington Post.

A former senior Pentagon intelligence official, familiar with CIFA, said yesterday, "They started with force protection from terrorists, but when you go down that road, you soon are into everything . . . where terrorists get their money, who they see, who they deal with."

He added, noting that there had been no congressional oversight of CIFA, that the Defense Department is "too big, too rich an organization and should not be left unfettered. They rush in where there is a vacuum."

A former senior counterterrorism official, also familiar with CIFA, said, "What you are seeing is the militarization of counterterrorism."

Rice Invokes 9/11 Commission as Justification for Spying

Condi Rice has a way of saying things without really saying them and she did just that this morning on Meet the Press when she used the 9/11 commssion as the basis for the Bush authorizing spying on US citizens.
SEC'Y RICE: Tim, first much all, the president has authorized ­– and it's important to talk about what he's actually authorized. He's authorized the National Security Agency to collect information about the activities of a limited number of people with ties to Al-Qaeda so that there is not a seam between the territory of the United States and the territory abroad. One of the most compelling outcomes of the 9-11 Commission was that a seam had developed. Our intelligence agencies looked out, our law enforcement agencies looked in, and people--terrorists could exploit the seam between them. So the president is determined that he will have the ability to make certain that that seam is not there, that the communications between people, a limited number of people with Al-Qaeda links here and conversations with terrorist activities outside will be understood so that we can detect and thereby prevent terrorist attacks. (emphasis mine)
Notice how she throws in the 9/11 Commission findings then says so the President did what he did. She doesn't truly state one caused the other but does conflate the 2.
Of course she can't directly say the President was simply acting on recommendations of the 9/11 Commission because Bush authorized domestic spying long BEFORE the 9/11 Commission ever issued its report.
But it sounds good on first blush.I love how the Bush administration will use the Commission they fought every step of the way when it is convenient and they are in trouble.

And here is what the 9/11 Commission said relating to this issue...
Recommendation:The burden of proof for retaining a particular governmental power should be on the executive, to explain (a) that the power actually materially enhances security and (b) that there is adequate supervision of the executive's use of the powers to ensure protection of civil liberties. If the power is granted, there must be adequate guidelines and oversight to properly confine its use.

Recommendation: At this time of increased and consolidated government authority, there should be a board within the executive branch to oversee adherence to the guidelines we recommend and the commitment the government makes to defend our civil liberties.

We must find ways of reconciling security with liberty, since the success of one helps protect the other. The choice between security and liberty is a false choice, as nothing is more likely to endanger America's liberties than the success of a terrorist attack at home. Our history has shown us that insecurity threatens liberty. Yet, if our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are struggling to defend.

Sounds like power concentrated only in the executive to administer a program of secret, illegal spying is exactly what they were cautioning against.

Bush's Law

What Athenae at First Draft says....

So no innocent people were spied on.

That's okay, then.

God, what were we all so upset about?

Had I known, you see, all along that it's okay to harm the guilty, I'd have done a lot more to make the world a better place. Run down some drug dealers with my car. Bought a gun off that guy who offered to sell me one in college and shot the asshole ex-neighbor who used to beat up his kid. Murder's against the law, of course, but I'd only kill the ones who meant to cause others trouble.

For the rest

Malkin Again

No not on Katrina though.
Malkin did a post on Dec 6 about a wounded soldier at Walter Reed getting a disturbing Christmas greeting card. She called it a "moonbat deathwish." Moonbat is Michelle speak for Liberals, the left. So she assumed some liberal did this nasty deed.

Problem is today she writes about the fellow who admits to sending the card. Turns out according to Michelle he is a "white supremicist sicko." That surely is no Moonbat so where's the apology to all us good Moonbats Michelle?

(You really don't need to click through and give Malkin any hits to get this story)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Katrina Death Toll

Death toll for NOLA on Nov. 28 was 1086

Latest report released December 16:
NOLA .................1095
Katrina Total......1321

Latest demographics on race hold at 48% African American, 41% Caucasion for all identified dead. There are 23 dead that are classified as NOT storm related.
For storm related deaths: 50% African American, 46% Caucasion
However race is unknown for 51 bodies and 197 bodies are yet to be identified.

64% of all identified dead were 61 years or older. 39% were over 75 y/o

Friday, December 16, 2005

Levee 'Largesse'

The announcement that Bush was doubling funds to rebuild NOLA levees made great healines but experts caution that in Bush's plan there is not much new or better.
Joseph Suhayda, a coastal scientist and retired Louisiana State University professor stated..
"the federal government simply saying they would finally do what they had committed to doing in 1965," when the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project was authorized by Congress. "In that regard, they aren't restoring to Category 3 levels, they're finally getting there, just 45 years late."

Suhayda also said the Bush announcement could take steam from the drive to provide Category 5 protection for New Orleans, a commitment he said is vital to the city's future.

"We've already seen some businesses say they can't come back, or won't come, unless they have that level of protection," he said. "It may be a case of, 'If you don't build it they won't come.'

"I think we're looking at having a city of 350,000 with Category 3 protection, as opposed to a vibrant, growing city of 1.5 million again with Category 5.

Ivor van Heerden, director of the LSU Hurricane Center said

Katrina proved the system being rebuilt will not keep the city safe from a Category 3 storm because surge heights were the equivalent of those produced by a Category 1 storm by the time they reached some parts of town where levees failed or were topped.
Simulations run by the LSU Hurricane Center showed a true Category 3 storm passing west of the city would flood the entire West Bank and downtown New Orleans with the current protection system in place

While Nagin appeared with Bush and praised his largesse, Blanco couldn't even get a meeting with Bush during her trip to Washington. She "was told that the president's schedule would not permit a visit" and the White House would not comment as to why. "Blanco and other Louisiana politicians have been lobbying Congress for support for a larger levee and gate system that would protect the city from Category 5 hurricanes." But I think it's clear who the White House wanted to deal with...... Nagin.

I may be wrong but it appears to me that Bush used Nagin to cut the legs out from under those LA politicians seeking more and leaving Blanco and the others with the only move of joining in praise of Bush. What else could they do? Stand against the Mayor and fellow Democrat? Turn their nose up at "double" the funds for levees? Even though the "extra" money Bush promised comes from "$62 billion already appropriated by Congress but not yet spent for aid after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita" imagine how it would have been spun had they said not good enough. If right I'm also left with many questions regarding Nagin.

What is clear is that NOLA is truly the orphan child that must take what little is left after Iraq spending and tax cuts. Bush's largesse is nothing more than a shell game of inadequate promises that will not save NOLA and though it may have gotten him some good headlines, No American's guilt ought to be assuaged by it.
And watch out for Cat 3's next year.

Rest In Peace: Antoine's Ambassador

I think almost everyone has at least heard of the legendary Antoine's in New Orleans. The New Orleans institution lost its maitre d' Clifton Lachney to Katrina.......

Lachney did a short stint in the restaurant's kitchen, and another as a waiter's apprentice. "But he found his home at the door," Guste said. "And he loved it."

Managing the social stage that is dinner at Antoine's, a New Orleans institution since 1840, required the touch of a showman, and Lachney was a natural.

"It all started when he was a teenager," said Scott, "when he bought his first guitar, which was a 1953 Martin."

The Hank Williams fan became an accomplished singer and guitarist. As a young man, music stoked his ambitions. Lachney, Scott said, was invited to become a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours. "He had to turn it down because my mom got pregnant," Scott said. "He used to DJ a radio show up in Alexandria when he was younger."

The maitre d' never left his music behind.

"It was not uncommon to see Clif around Jackson Square or some other popular part of the Quarter, playing his music with his hat out," Guste said.

"He'd play at Antoine's for customers who'd request it," Scott said.

Lachney, who in the past couple of years lost his wife and two of his five children, lived in a house near Lakefront Airport with his son Jeffrey, who, Scott said, "was never diagnosed or anything, but we feel he had a little Down syndrome. He didn't learn to walk until he was 10. He never got a really good education, but he was a smart kid."

Clifton, who didn't drive, and Jeffrey rode out Katrina at their home. Scott's plans to drive to New Orleans were scuttled twice, first when Katrina passed near his Florida home, and again after the Crescent City flooded.

Scott last spoke with his father at 1 p.m. Aug. 29, when his dad reported two feet of water outside the house.

"He was still not wanting to go anywhere," Scott said. "He wasn't worried about it."

The markings spray-painted on the Lachney house after the storm indicated there was nobody inside. After weeks of calling, Scott said, he finally persuaded a rescue team to recheck.

Clifton Lachney, 71, and Jeffrey Lachney, 28, were both found dead.
When Antoine's, which was badly damaged by Katrina, reopens in the next couple of weeks, one of its 15 dining rooms will be named for Clifton Lachney, Antoine's Maitre d'.

Koufax Awards Nominations Open

Nominations are now open for the 2005 Koufax Awards. The Koufax Awards are named for Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all time. They are intended to honor the best blogs and bloggers of the left.There are 15 categories. Such as Best Blog, Best Post, Best Series, Most Humorous Post, Best New Blog, Most Deserving of Wider Recognition and on and on.

There are alot of great blogs out there.
But for some shameless self promotion'd be nice to get nominations for best new blog or for best series for the Katrina stories (hint, hint)
You can make nominations. Click here to check it out and nominate your favorites in their comment section.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In Case You Didn't Know

From the Times-Picayune.....
The good news is that more lights are turning on in New Orleans, especially in neighborhoods flooded by Hurricane Katrina. The bad news is most of the city’s telephone lines are still dead and will remain that way until January or February.

Questions for the New York Times

The NYT reports that President Bush secretly signed a presidential order in 2002 that "authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States." Much of this is warrentless especially if it involves international communications. But even though warrants are necessary for domestic only communications the standard of proof for gaining a warrent is much lower than usually required by law. 1754 warrants for spying on US citizens in the US were approved in 2004.

It's an important revelation and I urge you to read it for the details but this detail stood out.
The Times reports that it knew this information last year but did not report it.....
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
My question to the NYT is did you know of this before or after the election? If they knew this prior to the election I see a problem. Was this covered up so the terrorists wouldn't know or the voters? The article even reports that "N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president."

Even if it was after the election why is the NYT holding onto this. Security reasons? I see nothing that has changed in terms of security (bin laden and Al Qaeda are still operating) that would deem it ok to print now as opposed to last year. Regardless does anyone really think that terrorist don't know they are being surveilled?
The NYT needs to answer some questions here.

Update: WaPo reports that NYT held onto story for over a year. They quote the NYT which I don't believe the Times said that but....
And that the Prez's actions appear to break the law...

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies at George Washington University, said the secret order may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity.

The law governing clandestine surveillance in the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, prohibits conducting electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.


I heard this exchange on last's night Hardball...
MATTHEWS: No one has criticized the work of Patrick Fitzgerald? Often times you would find Richard Nixon going after like him (ph), because he fired him—Archibald Cox because he thought he was an overzealous liberal going after him back there in Watergate. No one seems to criticize Patrick Fitzgerald as being an overzealous. Nobody is calling him Ken Starr, nobody is trashing him in the media, have you noticed?.

DIONNE: The president doesn't leak. You can't get anything out of that office.

MATTHEWS: No. But nobody's been criticizing...


O'BEIRNE: Well, in fairness, Chris—in fairness, that has not been the M.O. of this administration...

MATTHEWS: Not to trash its enemies? ( Matthews let out his laugh)

O'BEIRNE: It has not...

MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

O'BEIRNE: I think that's terribly unfair. I mean, it was the way the Clinton administration, obviously, responded to—reacted to...

MATTHEWS: Do you think Valerie Wilson believes that they haven't—do you think Joe Wilson hasn't been trashed?

O'BEIRNE: Joe? Are we going to go back to the motives—are we going to go back to the motive, the supposed motive, the alleged motive for this? They could have and didn't. They didn't respond to this, because...


MATTHEWS: I think the way the president played hardball with their critics of the and everyone else that have had their basic motives questioned, we can go further. They have been very tough with their critics.

O'BEIRNE: Will you agree they responded very differently than the Clinton White House to a prosecutor?

MATTHEWS: You're right. That's true. To a prosecutor. I'll hold you to that. They've been very respectful to Patrick Fitzgerald in the way that Clinton was never respectful to Ken Starr, ever.

How on earth can O'Beirne hold the idea that this White House doesn't go after its critics? oy
I wonder what Wilson, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Scott Ritter or John Murtha would say about that. Can ya think of others?
And the difference in the 2 White House's reactions couldn't possibly be due to the difference in how the 2 prosecutors have conducted themselves now could it???

Waiting for Word

I took Teddy to the vet yesterday. They took blood and I'm waiting to hear results. May be thyroid or could be cancer. So feeling a bit sad today.
Send good vibes Teddy's way if you will.

Ford Comes Around

You probably saw it but Ford Motor Co is not banning gay advertising.
John at AMERICAblog has the details and the letter from Ford.
Good for Ford.

Rest in Peace

Former Senator William Proxmire of WI died yesterday.
Growing up I had such great representatives and Proxmire was definitely a great one.
It's sad to see them passing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To the Mattresses

If NBC is going to do more fluff pieces with Bush they better start traveling with some mattresses. Brian Williams shared this yesterday on Hardball.....

WILLIAMS: That‘s right. You know where we were, in Center City, Philadelphia. We pull up, you can hear the protesters yelling shame, shame.

Something I haven‘t said before is, to dampen the noise outside the hotel because of the floor we were on, we had mattresses that our production crew had put up against the windows and curtains on the other side, because we had to conduct this interview.

He hasn't said it before huh. Perhaps he could have mentioned the elephant surrounding the room to Bush at the time. Or even have asked about NBC's investigative story on the Pentagon spying on anti war activists that aired on the next evening's newscast. From watching the "in depth" piece it's obvious Lisa Meyers didn't slap it together in 24 hours and doubtful was done unbeknownst to Managing Editor Brian Williams.

Blessed Be the Makers of "Tax Cuts"

Religious activists will hold a protest against cutting programs for the poor at the Capitol today. They will stay until they are arrested. But it is liberal, left religious activists concerned for the poor. The Christian Right will be a no show......
Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family say it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage and seating judges who will back their position against those practices.
James Dobson praised "pro family tax cuts" in dealing with poverty while others believe that religious groups are better suited to administer poverty programs than the government by citing the failure of FEMA in respone to hurricane Katrina.

Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal Sojourners said conservative religious leaders
"have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees," he said. "They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this is the worst insult, unbiblical."
The right is certainly not going to mess up their agenda or lose their piece of the pie for a few poor people.

UPDATE: They came....

They were arrested.....

More Torture of Christmas

From CBS News
Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets.....Krupnik told the New York Post it was a statement about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.

"Christmas has religious origins," he said. "It's in the Bible. Santa is not in the Bible. He's not a religious symbol."

You know I got a Christmas card just today from Joel and Mildred......

We're Sixth!

The US is tied with Myanmar in 6th place among countries jailing journalists. We have 5 journalists behind jails. None are American or in US jails.....
The United States is holding four Iraqi journalists in detention centers in Iraq and one Sudanese, a cameraman who works for Al Jazeera, at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. None of the five have been charged with a specific crime.
If those Iraqi journos stop taking our payola and really get on our nerves maybe we'll move up the list next year.....
  1. China.............32 journalists
  2. Cuba..............24
  3. Eritrea..........15
  4. Ethiopia........13
  5. Uzbekistan.....6
Alas Judy Miller doesn't count as she was not in jail at time the survey was taken. Maybe next year Judy? Oh that's right you don't have a job.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bush Hearts the Coast Guard

(photo from September 2 photo op)
Brian Williams interviewed Prez Bush aboard Air Force One. He asked a question on whether racism played a role in what happened in response to Katrina. Bush replied "Do not call me a racist." He went on to say that Katrina hit MS hard and people need to remember that. Then he said this...

"I remember saying that ah when I thanked those chopper pilot drivers from the Coast Guard who performed brilliantly, they didn't lower those booms to pick up people saying what color skin do you have. They said a fellow American is in jeopardy and I'm going to rescue that person."

This isn't the first time that Bush has invoked the imagery of the Coast Guard. He used them for a photo op on Friday September 2 (BTW the "chopper drivers" were diverted from rescue missions for this) He also cited them almost at the top of his Jackson Square speech. He pulls out the Coast Guard often and for good reason. There is a general belief that the only agency that responded with success in the Katrina tragedy was the Coast Guard. "Basically, the Coast Guard was one of the only success stories coming out of Katrina," said Alane Kochems, a national security policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation.

So of course Bush wants to plant that success in the people's minds rather than all the miserable failures we watched play out on tv. However Bush had NO role in that success. In fact the success of the Coast Guard is attributed to the fact that they are quite autonomous and as CBS News reported "That is why the Coast Guard succeeded. Unlike many other federal agencies, the Coast Guard was able to cut through bureaucratic red tape with a simple philosophy: Act first and get permission later."

Time magazine explained it further...
In fact, the Coast Guard has no primary mission--and it may be its eclectic history that explains its success in dealing with Katrina.
But perhaps the most important distinction of the Coast Guard is that it trusts itself.
That kind of decentralization is essential if a large organization is to move quickly, as any good CEO knows. But the rest of the government has been moving in the opposite direction, centralizing dozens of agencies into the giant DHS bureaucracy.

On the Gulf Coast, this autonomy and flexibility mattered well before Katrina hit. On Aug. 27, the day before the mayor of New Orleans ordered a mandatory evacuation, the Coast Guard began moving its personnel out of the region. Officers left helicopters and boats in a ring around the area so that they could move in behind the storm, no matter which direction it took. "We have extraordinary autonomy to move assets," explained Allen during a flyover of the Mississippi Gulf Coast region a few weeks after Katrina. "I don't think any other agency has the ability to do that."

The only ones who have a right to take credit for the success of the Coast Guard is the Coast Guard which acted on its own initiative. Yet I am sure Bush will continue to conflate the Federal (ie Bush) response with the Coast Guard's in the way he does with 9/11 and Saddam. When you hear it in the future just remember it for what it is....Bullshit. And I most certainly know the Coast Guard isn't racist but I don't believe Bush can stand on them to claim he's not.