Saturday, March 25, 2006

God Is Watching Us

Here's a music video of my visit to the 9th Ward...
Music: Nanci Griffith
9th Ward: God is Watching Us

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Big Announcement

OK last week I hinted at more news to come. Well here it is. Some folks who are regular commenters at another blog have decided to try to raise funds to send me to New Orleans! A website is now up and running that explains what is happening and how to contribute if you so desire. It is also an opportunity to get involved in the news you want.
So I hope you go vist the site HERE.

UPDATE: Grand News! In less than 24 hours we have met our fundraising goal!!!!
Thanks to everyone. I will be blogging from New Orleans Feb. 27-March7

Friday, February 03, 2006

We're Hanging At First Draft

We're hanging out at First Draft.

I'm not abandoning this blog but my energy will be going into First Draft.
Teddy and I hope you will come visit.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Change Is Good

Remember in the movie Apollo 13 how the astronauts felt when they finally abandoned the LEM that had saved their lives? I'm feeling a bit like that now.

I have been offered the opportunity to join the great blog First Draft and I have accepted. I will reach many more people than I do here in my cozy little lem. But I know I have some wonderful people who visit here regularly and I do hope you will follow me over to First Draft. I hope you will bring your comments because I truly love reading what you think. Now I know registering at First Draft can sometimes be difficult...something to do with ferrets and chinchillas. If you have any trouble email me and I'll move heaven and earth to get you settled in.

I won't jetison my little (lem) blog just yet. In fact I hope to have another big announcement in the next day or 2. But starting tomorrow I will be at First Draft. Well in fact I put up a small post there tonight on the SOTU.

So I hope to see you there. And thank you for the wonderful journey we've had here.

Female Soldiers Died to Avoid Rape

Pam's House Blend has a disturbing post on females soldiers in Iraq who died of dehydration and the reason why will piss you off.

May she rest in peace

"She'll be remembered as a strong woman whose grace and dignity held up the image of her husband as a man of peace, of racial justice, of fairness," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. King and then served as its president for 20 years. "I don't know that she was a civil rights leader in the truest sense, but she became a civil rights figure and a civil rights icon because of what she came to represent."
I would agree with Rev. Lowrey on the first point and disagree on the latter.

I met Coretta Scott King once when as a young teen I spent parts of a summer doing civil rights work in a small Missisippi town. (story here) There was a voter registration drive going on at the time and Mrs. King and Ralph Abernathy came to town to speak at a small but packed church.

What I remember is a women of strength and Grace. I can not remember a thing she said but I remember her presence and the importance of her being there to the people who respected and admired her. She was definitely a leader of civil rights to those in that church. She was an inspiration to carry on what could still be dangerous work even then. I am grateful I had the opportunity to be inspired by her presence.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Landrieu to Run For Mayor

The Times Picayune reports that Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu will soon announce he is running for mayor of New Orleans.

Say bye bye to Ray Nagin

NOLA Society Women Hit DC

(Women of the Storm with blue umbrellas to symbolize blue tarped roofs of NOLA)

140 of NOLA's prominent women lobbied members of Congress today to come to NOLA and see it for themselves. They call themselves Women of the Storm and offered members an all expensepaid trip to NOLA. They believe if more would see it for themselves they would realize the need for more federal support. So far only 55 representatives and 30 senators or 16% of Congress has visited NOLA. Some of the prominent women included:

Verna Landrieu, the 73-year-old matriarch of one of Louisiana's political dynasties
Olivia Manning, wife quarterback Archie Manning and mother ofPeyton & Eli
Anne Milling, 65, an eminent community activist

The Times Picayune reports this .....
While images of poor, black residents stranded at the Superdome have lingered, many middle- and upper-class neighborhoods also were flooded but received far less attention. The women, who represent a Who's Who of New Orleans society, offer a starkly different image of Katrina's victims. Along with their designer bags and strings of pearls, they carried bright blue umbrellas, symbolizing the tarps covering their pockmarked roofs.
I don't care Who they are at least they're organizing and doing something.

A Ban I Can Get Behind

From WaPo.....
At least five Midwestern states are considering legislation to ban protests at funerals in response to demonstrations by the Rev. Fred Phelps and members of his Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, who have been protesting at funerals of Iraq war casualties because they say the deaths are God's punishment for U.S. tolerance toward gays.

Though the soldiers were not gay, the protesters say the deaths, as well as Hurricane Katrina, recent mining disasters and other tragedies are God's signs of displeasure. They also protested at the memorial service for the 12 West Virginia miners who died in the Sago Mine.

Here's a Candidate for Worst Person in the World

Leonard J. Samia is "one of Boston's largest and most notorious landlords." His Samia partnership owns Louisburg Square Apartments in New Orleans. After Katrina hit many of the apartments remained intact and unharmed. So evacuees who had not yet returned home thought they had dodged that proverbial bullet. But Samia launched an aggressive 3 month campaign to remove all the tenants from the 200 apartment complex in order to lease the apartments for higher rents to contractors and such......
In interviews with the Globe, former tenants, their lawyers, neighborhood residents, housing advocates, and community activists said it was a concerted, relentless eviction effort. In those interviews, stories emerged of attempts by the complex's managers to oust tenants despite a statewide eviction moratorium; of demolition crews gutting the apartments of tenants who had not yet returned after fleeing the hurricane; of units emptied of personal possessions by contractors, and of contractors and building employees who then cherry-picked valuables such as VCRs and televisions from trash heaps; of contractors now living in the same apartments that tenants were told were uninhabitable; of license plates removed from tenants' cars in the complex parking lot and then towed as abandoned vehicles; of access to mailboxes blocked by the demolition and locked laundry facilities; and of garbage and construction debris piled near doorways, attracting flies and vermin that created intolerable living conditions.
Samia has been unavailable for comment so the Globe went to his home.....
Samia did not return several calls for comment and was not available at his Brighton office last week. A woman who answered the door at Samia's house -- a six-bedroom mansion perched on a one-acre wooded lot with a gated driveway, high stone fence, security cameras, and a statue of a large camel in Lexington's wealthy, historic Meriam Hill neighborhood -- said ''no comment" and slammed the door.
Read the rest though be forewarned it will piss you off because Samia is the Worst Person in the World. I wonder if Keith has seen this story?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Documents Show Further FEMA Failures

Documents released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee show that FEMA refused aid from The Interior Dept which offered FEMA:
300 dump trucks and other vehicles,
300 boats,
11 aircraft
400 law enforcement officers to help search and rescue efforts.

An internal email shows that FEMA called off its search and rescue operations just 3 days after Katrina struck.

This makes me wonder what horrors the Bush administration is hiding in the documents it refuses to release to Congress.

Bush Won't Meet with Blanco....Again

From WWLTV....
Blanco is scheduled to attend President Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday and testify before a Senate committee on Thursday.
Bottcher (Blanco's press secretary) says Blanco asked to speak with Bush about housing assistance for hurricane victims but has not heard back from the White House on whether that discussion will occur.
Bush refused to meet with Blanco when she was in Washington in December.

Seems a "uniter not a divider" would meet the governor.
I bet Haley Barbour would get a meeting.

If it happened to them it could happen to any of us....

The Times Picayune has a great editorial entitled "Don't Leave Us to Foreclosure" on the need for the Baker bill. If you're not familiar with it this editorial will get you informed. They also take Bush and his "reconstruction czar" Powell to task and blow holes in their reasoning to block the Baker bill. Finally they make the argument as to why the rest of America should perk up and take heed. I love the Times Picayune. They are what a paper should be. Here's part but read the rest too......

Rep. Baker's plan would make it possible for homeowners to avoid foreclosure, get at least 60 percent of their equity back and have resources to use toward a new home. This is not a government giveaway. The government bonds used for the buyouts would be repaid by the sale of property to developers, who would have to put the land back into use. It is a practical, targeted solution to an immense problem.

There seems to be some sentiment that South Louisiana has gotten enough government help and that people here should have expected flooding. That ignores a crucial fact: the federal government's Army Corps of Engineers told us that our levees would keep us dry.

Families who settled inside the flood plain knew to expect occasional street flooding during a rainstorm. But they had no expectation that canal floodwalls would buckle and fill their homes with 8 or 10 feet of water for weeks on end.

If 180,000 families in greater New Orleans are left with worthless homes and no way to get rid of them, everyone else in this country who lives in a vulnerable spot should be worried. And that means that most of them should be worried.

More than half of Americans live along the 19,924 miles of coastline in this country. How many millions more live in river valleys, on fault lines or in Tornado Alley?

Yes, there are risks in living near water. But New Orleanians believed that those risks had been minimized. We should not be written off simply for choosing to make this place our home.

Who's Running the Show?

The NYT has a good article on a "White House that was plagued by the fog of war" in responding to Katrina. It raises grave concerns on how capable this administration is to protect us. However since the White House is withholding documents and not allowing aides to testify it is difficult to assess the problem and blame.

There is also a question of whether the White House should be making disaster decisions....

But Mr. Duffy, echoing a point made by Mr. Rapuano, said: "The White House should not be making combat decisions in Iraq. The same is true for a domestic emergency response."
Mr. Rapuano is the deputy assistant to the president for homeland security who according to the NYT was "the senior official in charge of managing storm events at the White House when the hurricane struck."

What are Mr. Rapuano's qualifications for managing a natural disaster? Here is his work history....
  • was previously the senior policy advisor for national security to the Energy Secretary handling a wide range of programs and issues related to nonproliferation, intelligence, counterintelligence, homeland defense and special access programs
  • served as director of the international affairs and nonproliferation department at Southern Research Institute
  • worked supporting the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the development of national security policies related to weapons of mass destruction
  • served as special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, as a foreign affairs specialist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense,
  • counterproliferation program manager for DynCorp
  • served on active duty as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps
I'm not sure if he's just a WMD policy wonk or a CIA spook but I would agree with Mr. Rapuano's assessment that the White House shouldn't make natural disaster decisions if a guy with his qualifications is to be in charge.

The NYT also revealed this tidbit........Mr Rapuano "acknowledged that he left the White House about 10 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, the night the storm hit."

Like many others I know I was up past 2 in the morning on the 29th glued to CNN coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But I'm just a concerned citizen. Just saying.........

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bush the Obstructor

Friday Bush criticized Louisiana officials for not having a recovery plan. Of course Mayor Nagin had to come out today and state that that there is indeed a plan.

It is ridiculous that any Louisiana official has to jump through these hoops to prove they are indeed working on recovery. More important it is incredibly disingenuous of Bush to point fingers at anyone.

It is Bush that has held up the Baker bill.
It is Bush that has cheated NOLA out of Cat 5 levee protection.
It is Bush's FEMA that hasn't produced the flood maps yet.

All of the above are critical corner stones of the recovery process.

The Baker bill is necessary for homeowners to decide if they will rebuild or cut their losses and move on.

Bush has only promised funding that will in effect bring Cat 3 levee protection. Without Cat 5 hurricane protection businesses and homeowners will be reluctant to rebuild if they are to be washed out again perhaps next year or the year after.

Finally FEMA is in charge of producing federal flood maps that will "provide critical information for residents trying to decide whether -- or how high -- to rebuild their damaged homes" and "could drive new building codes and standards that try to minimize future flood damage." But they are not done yet.

If presented with this I suppose Bush would say.... heh I'm a constructor, not an obstructor.
Perhaps I shouldn't give him any ideas.

For the Record...

I got an email from someone who thought that I lived in New Orleans. So for the record I do not. I live in Wisconsin. I know I have never said that I live in NOLA and people who have read my blog for a while would know I live in WI as I have written about that. It never occured to me before but I can see that someone new to this blog may think otherwise as I have written so much on NOLA and with some passion.

As I was writing this I got another email asking why I write on NOLA. Sometimes I am not completely sure myself but I just can not believe this is happening in America, at least not the America I once knew. And what has happened and continues to happen pisses me off and breaks my heart all at one time. We can not abandon our fellow human beings. Simply put...It is Wrong. At one point I had thought of not writing about NOLA anymore but then a story pulled me back in. So I decided to put that post up again as it explains best. So here it is.......

From scout prime November 30, 2005.......

It Pulls Me In
I have never meant for this to be a blog about NOLA and Hurricane Katrina but I have done quite a few posts on that. And just when I think it will be my last there is another story that pulls me back in to it again. There has been just such complete devastation and such horror that it is beyond compelling. It reaches my humanity to the core and I feel such empathy for victims and survivors. I wonder what would I have done in their place? How would I cope in the aftermath?

The story of St. Rita's Nursing Home touches all of that. In the initial aftermath of the storm it was believed that the owners had abandoned the residents. Now it is found that this is not true. Though they must face consequences for not evacuating we learn that the owners and staff were present among others and fought to save lives as a wall of water came crashing down on them. Here is how some experienced that.....

Alonzo recalls the floodwaters flowing from the direction of the lake, a few miles north of St. Rita's.

Trishka Stevens, Jodi Hanson's grandmother, says that when the water burst into the building, it cascaded through air-conditioning vents "like Niagara Falls." Stevens, 75, who has not walked in five years, was in her bed in Room 407 as water rose around her.

"It was up to my chin," she says.

In the pandemonium that followed, nurses and aides waded and then swam through the halls, unhooking the straps that held the wheelchair-bound upright and pushing them onto mattresses. They then shoved the mattresses outside so the evacuees could be taken to higher ground by boat.

Alonzo, 55, says he put his 52-year-old brother onto a mattress, then grabbed Carlos' roommate, Harold Kurz. Alonzo recounts the frantic effort by nurses and others to save as many as possible:

"You can't get out a door, so they're kicking out windows to float the residents out on mattresses to put them on the roof. In every room, people were hollering. They were screaming like somebody was murdering them (and) ... for God to help them. It was a horror scene."

Stevens was saved by Steve Snyder, 29, an offshore oil rig worker who had motored past St. Rita's in a boat while fleeing his own flooded house nearby. By then, Snyder says, rescuers at St. Rita's were chopping holes in the roof to pull out residents who were floating just below the ceiling.

Snyder says he and his brother-in-law swam from room to room, searching for survivors. They gave up, he says, when "we just didn't hear no more screaming, no more people calling for help."

I doubt one gets those screams out of their mind perhaps ever. That's trauma. Alonzo faced another......

Alonzo returned to St. Rita's a month after Katrina to get belongings from his ruined car. He calls the place haunted, and says he will never go back.

"Can you imagine being in your wheelchair ... and that water came up over your head? I guess that's why people are so mad."

He tears up, and then says quietly he wasn't strong enough to hold onto both his brother and Kurz. "You can't swim with two people. I had to let Harold go. I still think about that when I fall asleep."

Maybe I can't let go because people like Alonzo had to.

Baker: Bush Offers NOLA "Death Blow"

Louisiana Republican Richard Baker of the Baker Bill said this of Bush's approach to NOLA..."There is a price to pay for blind neglect. The current plan would be a death blow to the state's economy." So Baker has vowed to continue to fight for legislation to bail out homeowners and educate Bush and the nation on the necessity of it.

He says that his bill is not as costly as Bush has made it out to be. Here's how the plan would work....
Baker's bill, which enjoys broad bipartisan support among Louisiana politicians and planners, would create a public corporation financed by the sale of federal bonds. A board appointed by the president would use the proceeds to offer buyouts to the owners of flood-damaged homes for at least 60 percent of the equity based on pre-Katrina value. It also would pay off the mortgages, heading off a possible wave of foreclosures.

Unlike the block grant approach, Baker said the corporation would attempt to recoup some of the money -- and fuel the economic recovery of the region -- by selling tracts of land to developers who would rebuild communities according to local plans.

The Mortgage Bankers Association who supports the bill out of "fear that widespread homeowner bankruptcies in metropolitan New Orleans will cost them dearly" says this....

"Some people will simply never be able to repay those loans if the property is worth nothing," Kurt Photenhauer, a lobbyist for the mortgage bankers, said. "Any proposal, including Congressman Baker's, which proposes a method of restoring value gives lenders and borrowers something to work with."
Keep in mind Baker has been a loyal Bush ally voting with the administration 91% of the time. However now he finds himself allied more with LA Democrats. Yesterday he complained Bush "misconstrued" his bill as a drain on federal treasury when in fact 50% would be "repaid when land, whose value would presumably increase, is resold to developers."

Also keep in mind what I wrote yesterday that without the Baker bill those developers will make a killing on cheap land.

It should be asked everyday. Who is Bush working for........ The people of NOLA or his Cronies in NOLA?

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has agreed to a Feb. 15 hearing on the legislation.

Do something for the people of NOLA and Call your Rep and tell them to support the Baker bill.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canizaro & Bollinger:
Bush Boys in NOLA

"Bush Boys"...Donald Bollinger & Joe Canizaro

I am almost surprised at the Bush administration's transparent support in helping big business rebuild NOLA. Amongst residents and LA officials there has been widespread support for the Baker Bill which has been viewed as absolutely essential to rebuilding NOLA. However Bush has never supported it and informed Baker earlier this week that the White House will not support it now or in the future.

Bush's pointman in rebuilding NOLA, Donald Powell states why.......
The bill would add a federal bureaucracy and set up what would be a government real estate agency, "which we don't think is a good business," said Mr. Powell, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
It's no coincidence that 2 of New Orleans biggest businessmen on the Bring Back New Orleans commission are not concerned about passing the Baker Bill. Real estate developer Joe Canizaro was in fact foretelling for it's demise 2 weeks ago...

However, Canizaro also said that even without the Baker bill, he thinks enough federal money will be available -- in the form of Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and other sources -- to make homeowners whole. The panel estimates it will cost $12 billion to buy out every home that received at least 2 feet of water, but Canizaro said he expects only half of the flooded homes will be bought out in the end.
And Donald Bollinger is quoted in today's NYT saying this......
"Everybody wants to think that if the Baker bill fails we have no other solution," he said. "I don't agree with that at all. I know we need a tool similar to that."
It's laughable that Bush is worried about adding federal bureaucracy when he had no problem in doing just that with the Medicare Part D plan. What is important here is what is "good for business." Adding clumsy bureaucracy is OK if Big Business structures it and profits from it. If not, then another "tool similar" will be found.

It must be asked just what "tool" exactly are the Bush Boys, Canizaro and Bollinger, and fellow big businessmen on the Bring Back New Orleans commission looking for? Clearly it's not the Baker bill.

A little history first. There were 3 NOLA rebuilding committees formed initially: the Mayor's, the City Council's and the Governor's. But it was the Mayor's Bring New Orleans Back (BNOB) commission that prevailed when Bush met with and supported them....
Donald T. Bollinger Jr., a commission member and a local shipbuilder, said, "Him (Bush) coming in and having dinner with this group and meeting with our group helped sanction us and differentiates us from other groups."
That's not all that differentiated them. Canizaro who has been the leading force in the BNOB commission contributed over 1 million dollars to Republicans since 1997. Bollinger, who owns the 3rd largest shipbuilding company in the country, contributed over $130,000. Canizaro was one of 22 wealthy business leaders whom President Bush invited to lunch in 2001 to discuss his tax cut for the wealthy. Is it all that surprising that Bush"sanctioned" them to be the rebuilders of NOLA?

And there is evidence they are dominating the BNOB commission. The NYT reported in October that there were "sharp divisions"and several areas of "trouble" within the BNOB one of which was some commissioners stating they were the "B team" that was being excluded from meetings. Meetings which Canizaro did attend. Two commissioners stated this at the time.....
"No one goes over with us what they discuss at those lunch meetings," said Oliver M. Thomas Jr., one of the commission's 17 members and president of the City Council. "It would be nice if they did."

Added W. Anthony Patton, a small-business owner on the commission, "Let's just say I haven't been invited to any lunches, either."

So just what is being planned by the Bush Boys in these secret meetings? There may be some clues. Powell said that the $6.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds will go to help 20,000 homeowners. Yet there are over 200,000 homeowners whose homes have been destroyed. What will happen to the other 185,000? I doubt they will see any CDBG money as "Mr. Powell has all but put state officials on notice that close watch will be kept on the Community Development Block Grant money." And Mr. Bollinger concurred saying, "I think we have to demonstrate to Congress and the president that we are going to handle our C.D.B.G. grants responsibly."

Now think about that a minute. In effect they are saying they will do everything possible to make sure only those 20,000 homeowners receive a federal government buyout and none of the other 185,000. So what fate awaits the rest? Without government money it appears they face either......

1) free market forces determining what they will receive

or worse

2) Eminent Domain......"commissioners say, not every neighborhood will be sustainable and there will be a need to use eminent domain to seize some property"

So if you severely limit the number of people to receive a buyout you leave a large number of homes (ie Land) available to be bought up cheap or taken. With that much land on the market at once and sellers needing to sell, it most likely will be very cheap.

Just kill the Baker Bill, be so called 'good stewards' of CDBG funds and viola.

It's a Bush Boy's dream come the land cheap, develop it and then the Big Payoff.

You know it may be more accurate to say Bush is THEIR Boy after all.

One thing is for sure .......the people of NOLA? They got no Boy at all.

UPDATE: Read Baker's & bankers Reaction on how Bush's plan will render land worthless and be a "death blow" to Louisianna.
Of course as I've stated above developers will profit handsomely

Political Activism in NOLA

What happens when people lose everything and the powers that be ignore their plight? Some organize.......
They are called "Women of the Storm," and if all goes according to plan, a charter flight will land Monday in the nation's capital with this group of Jews and Christians, wealthy and poor, young and old, famous and not-so-famous -- women of African, European, Vietnamese and Hispanic ancestry. They will disembark with primary and secondary missions.

The Women of the Storm will separate into pairs, and each pair will formally invite four members of Congress to visit the Katrina-ravaged area.

"What we will be presenting to the elected leadership of this country is the face of New Orleanians, the face of the people of south Louisiana who have lost so much," said Milling, who organized fund-raising efforts for the initiative, including $70,000 for the charter flight.

The pairs also will advocate increasing the share of revenue Louisiana receives from drilling off the state's coast, enhanced levee protection, coastal restoration and legislation proposed by Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge, that would use federal money to buy flood-damaged homes in Louisiana and pay off homeowners' mortgages.

NOLA needs some Jersey Girls so to speak. Let's hope Women of the Storm will be successful.

Shocked Shocked ........

I don't understand the shock that Hamas won a majority of seats in the election. What did they expect? For years Hamas has provided essential services to Palestinians. As Bush has vowed to re-shape the Mid East with democracy I've always thought be careful what you ask for.

Bush Doesn't Want Any Debate

The LA Times has this today on the feds domestic spy program............
A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday the administration had opposed changing the law in 2002 in part because it did not want to publicly debate the issue.

"There was a conscious choice not to have a public discussion about it. It could have exposed the program. This was a military defense intelligence program," said the spokesman, who asked not be named because of the sensitivity surrounding the still-classified presidential order on wiretapping.

They don't want no stinking debate. Bush can claim what he is doing is legal but he is a Liar.

Think Progress has more on this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

America is Dying for Bush's Sins

Wolcott wrote New Orleans Died for Bush's Sins. Today I believe America is dying for his sins.....
The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.
Then there is this next paragraph.......
The White House this week also formally notified Representative Richard H. Baker, Republican of Louisiana, that it would not support his legislation creating a federally financed reconstruction program for the state that would bail out homeowners and mortgage lenders. Many Louisiana officials consider the bill crucial to recovery, but administration officials said the state would have to use community development money appropriated by Congress.
Though I expected the Baker Bill to be killed I am still very disappointed. However I am alarmed by Bush invoking executive privilege. Just as Bush sacrificed New Orleans to pursue his mad war on Iraq he is sacrificing this country in his mad pursuit of executive power. As we focus on the context of each new scandal in hope that exposure will limit Bush, the neo-con vision of the powerful executive becomes a reality before our eyes. Hopes of limiting the executive are dashed by the power of the executive as if we are caught in a cruel political tautology.

We are losing this country to a stonewalling, corrupt, law breaking, constitution shredding, dictatorial manchild. No president has pushed the limits of executive power as this one. George Bush is dangerous. In Bush we have a reckless, immature, irresponsible individual owned by a radical ideology. When he said, " if this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator" it was not hyperbole. He meant it. He was not elected to the office, he acquired it. Since that time his conduct regarding war and national security has been extralegal. The transparency inherent to democracy that would expose him is obscured through brute manipulation of Congress, the judiciary, the press and of course his stonewalling of all.....
On the creation of the 9/11 Commission
On testifying before the 9/11 commission
On the August 6th PDB
On investigating the CIA leak
On dismissing staff involved in the CIA leak
On the commission on pre-war intelligence
On torture
On rendidtion
On global warming
On Cheney's energy task force
On wiretapping citizens
And now on the federal response to Katrina.

Executive privilege has its place but it is not intended to cover a multitude of sins. It is not cover for illegal acts or a means to dodge accountability for mistakes made. We face 3 more years of this and I fear how much worse it will become under George Bush. I fear not of terrorists destroying our country from without, but of the immature, irresponsible power hungry executive destroying us from within. If the other branches of government and the American people continue in their acquiescence, American ideals, as we once knew them, will be as dead as the New Orleans we once knew. And both will have died for Bush's sins.

Gonzales at Georgetown

Students turned their backs to Gonzales as he spoke.

Student banner.....way to go Georgetown

Yesterday AG Gonzales spoke at Georgetown and defended warrantless wiretaps with this......
"You may have heard about the provision of FISA that allows the president to conduct warrantless surveillance for 15 days following a declaration of war. That provision shows that Congress knew that warrantless surveillance would be essential in wartime."
This makes me want to bang my head against a wall.
Allowing 15 days before obtaining a warrant does not mean warrantless.
How stupid do they think we are?
Never mind....don't answer. Just point me to a wall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

To the AP: Please Do A Fact Check

The AP has a story entitled "Nagin Chides Media Over Coverage" in which the following appears.......
Estimates are that more than 1,200 died in Louisiana and Mississippi in a devastating 2005 hurricane season that left almost 1 million people displaced ......
First look at the "estimate" of the death toll. It wouldn't take much to find that the official death toll for MS and LA is 1311. A few google searches would get the death tolls of each state, then Add. Is it really that hard to be precise and count all the dead?

Worse however is the number of displaced people is OFF by......almost 1 million!

At present there are 2 Million people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA of course had the number wrong until a few weeks ago but they did own up to the mistake and released it to the press. Now that figure is for both Katrina and Rita. But 28 days after Rita struck FEMA was working to find temporary housing for 30,000 people displaced by Rita in Texas. Let's say that FEMA was way off on that number too in October and so make it 60,000. Also subtract 35,000 for those presently displaced in Alabama which brings it to 100,000 of the total are outside LA and MS. Then the number displaced in Louisiana & Mississippi is still 1.9 Million.

OK it took me about an hour to track down that last part but is it really asking too much of a newswire reporter to do the same. I would certainly hope people see there is a big difference between 1 million and 1.9 million yet I continue
to see the 1 million figure due in large part to the AP from which many papers subscribe.

Numbers mean something.
They determine how we view and attach meaning to the problem in our collective conscience.
And they definitely have meaning when Washington responds to the problem by disbursing aid.

Look I really appreciate the AP but it is time the 1 million figure disappears.
I sent an email to the AP. If you would like to do the same the address is

Katrina Death Toll Rises Again

The Katrina death toll for Louisiana has risen again.
1103 bodies have been recovered. 23 of those have been determined not to be storm related. The official death toll for LA due to Katrina now stands at 1080

Death Toll in other states:

Katrina Total is now at 1329

The number of missing in Louisiana decreased from 3200 to.........2865

Bush Continues to Block Baker Bill

U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge tried last year to get legislation passed that would use treasury bonds to buy back damaged homes at 60% of equity and then parcels would be packaged and redeveloped. These are home that were without flood insurance outside the flood zone. LA officials and residents believe the Baker Bill is essential for the rebuilding of NOLA. Yet the White House would not support the bill and blocked its passage. Bush continues to oppose the legislation. Bush wants LA to use Community Development Block Grants to aid homeowners instead of passing the Baker Bill.

The White House points out that Mississippi has said it will use CDBG money it received for aiding homeowners and Bush wants Louisiana to do the same. Problem is Louisiana only received $6.2 billion in CDBG yet faces a problem more than twice the size of Mississippi which none the less received $5.3 billion in CDBG funding. There are 35,000 damaged homes without flood insurance outside the flood zone in MS. But LA has 77,000 such homes and another 140,000 in the floodplain. LA Gov Blanco states they need a large part of the $6.2 billion to replace infrastructure "including hospital repairs, university support, sewer and water service and electricity."

Clearly Louisiana is being shortchanged. LA leaders say they need either the Baker Bill or $9 billion more in CDBG funding to equal the payments MS will be able to make to homeowners.

Pressure should be brought to bear on the White House to pass the Baker Bill.
Help the people of LA and Call or email W at the White House to tell him to end his oppososition to the Baker Bill. And also call your reps.

To call the White House......202-456-1111
To Email White

NOLA Election

It is expected that Gov. Blanco will set April 22 as the date for NOLA elections. Local political analysts say no one knows what to expect of the election.......

“This is going to be an incredibly unusual election,” Renwick said. “We don't even know who the voters are. We don't know who's going to vote. We don't know which race is in the majority. We don't know who's going to run. What we know is not much of anything.”

Both Lee and Renwick agreed that even with potential heavy hitters such as Peggy Wilson, Oliver Thomas, Mitch Landrieu, Rob Couhig and George Fowler in the mix, no one candidate would necessarily be a shoe-in. They said the big question on election night would be how many displaced residents decide to vote by absentee.

Back from the Vet

Well Teddy and I just got back from visiting the vet.
Teddy is Very Pissed with me.
She is quite a challenge at the vet. They gave her some laughing gas to do the exam.....she's not laughing though. At any rate she gained 5 oz. She is not out of the woods yet but they seemed more hopeful for her. She will have to stay on the meds forever but so what. So I'm feeling better.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Feds Warned Before Katrina of Devestation to Come

Documents that were released today show that the Homeland Security Dept (and therefore FEMA) was warned one day before Katrina struck that levees would likely be breached and massive flooding of NOLA would result......
An Aug. 28 report by the department's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center concluded that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane would cause severe damage in the city, including power outages and a direct economic hit of up to $10 billion for the first week.

"Overall, the impacts described herein are conservative," stated the report, which was sent to Homeland Security's office for infrastructure protection.

"Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching, leaving the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months," said the report, which was released by a Senate panel examining the government's breakdown in responding to Katrina.

The documents are the latest indication that the federal government knew beforehand of the catastrophic damage that a storm of Katrina's magnitude could cause.
Levee Failure
The Times Picayune also has a good article on the levees failure. It's worth reading but basically it says the levees that protected from Mississippi River flooding held while the hurricane levees did not. Why? After the 1927 great Mississip[pi River flood a decision was made to build levees to withstand the worst ever flooding. But in 1965 Congress decided to build hurricane levees to withstand only a fast moving Cat 3 hurricane.........
"After the 1927 flood, the nation made a commitment never to let that happen again, so the design criteria (the corps) had was for the worst that could ever happen -- something that might not occur again for 400 to 450 years," said Al Naomi, a senior project manager at the New Orleans office. "In some (areas) the (river) levee was overbuilt, but that was done because the design criteria we were given was to build for the maximum possible flood.

"That wasn't the case with the hurricane protection project here."

The 1965 congressional authorization for the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project was based on what the corps described in its 1962 planning document as the "standard project hurricane," which would have maximum sustained winds of 100 mph in a radius of 30 nautical miles, and a storm surge of 11.2 feet on the south shore of the lake. That translates approximately into a fast-moving Category 3 storm. The report said the probability of that occurring is once every 200 years.

And the powers that be still have not learned. What Bush has authorized is Cat 3 protection. It's 1965 all over again.
Here's futher explanation.....

Russert's Shameful Performance

Many in the blogosphere have questioned why did Timmeh ask Barak Obama about Harry Belafonte yesterday. But it gets worse. Arianna Huffington questions why Carville & Matalin were on yesterday? Was it to promote Timmeh's son new job?

And what made it all even more special is the relationship of Carville's radio co-host to Meet the Press's host -- a relationship not even revealed in the following exchange:

RUSSERT: James Carville, before you go I understand that politics may be part of your past, that you're going to go on XM Satellite Radio and do sports?

CARVILLE: Well, Mr. Russert, I can't talk about that too much, but I think there's going to be a story in tomorrow's paper. Tomorrow night I'll be on the Jay Leno show on NBC, and we'll be talking about some exciting new developments and maybe a new twist on an old career.

RUSSERT: With anyone I know?

CARVILLE: Maybe you would be familiar with someone I'll be teaming up in this, but let's just say it's going to offer a generational look at sports and the coaches of sports and things like that, and we'll be joining Bob Dylan.

Hmm, whoever could it be? Notice the playful banter? "With anyone I know?" "I can't talk about that too much..."

Fortunately, a faithful Russert Watch insider sent me an advance copy of the press release about the talk show and Carville's mystery partner. Here is the release's headline:


Ah, mystery solved!

I was watching yesterday and it was obvious there was an inside joke going on but I never would have guessed Timmeh was plugging his son. I'm really sick and tired of Washington DC being a playground for all the insiders to enrich themselves and their families as the rest of us stand by with our faces pressed up against the one way mirror in wait for real solutions to very serious problems.

NOLA ER's Overwhelmed

NYT reports that as more residents return NOLA emergency rooms are being overwhelmed. Many doctors have not returned so people go to hospitals for care but.....
The emergency rooms of this bedraggled region are facing their own emergency. As thousands of residents have begun returning in the weeks since New Year's, there are far more sick people than there are doctors, nurses, beds and equipment to take care of them.
The slow repopulation of the city picked up speed after the holidays as more schools reopened and, in the words of one emergency room doctor, the sicker people began to return. But only seven of what had been 15 adult acute-care facilities in the city and three surrounding parishes are open, and only one-third of the acute-care beds.

Five NOLA hospitals are closed as the buildings are severely damaged. "Some hospitals have opened neighborhood clinics or parking-lot tents for walk-in care, but some may never reopen, or may take up to a year to find the money to rebuild." Touro Infirmary is the only full service hospital at present in New Orleans proper so many people are sent to suburban hospitals. There were 5,063 available beds pre Katrina for the NOLA area. Now there are about 1,750 beds. The military had set up hospital facilities after Katrina but they are now gone.

At present ambulances can be tied up for hours delivering a patient. Ambulance calls have usually tripled during Mardi Gras from 120 a day to 360. Doctors are so worried about the upcoming Mardi Gras that they have formed a planning committee.

The city's rebuilding commission said in a report this week that if 65 percent of the region's prestorm population returns by July 1 - as many experts have predicted - the city will need to triple the number of hospital beds available, which would require hiring 2,550 medical staff members in less than six months and an "extraordinary expense" in housing them and paying them enough to return
After Care
Long term care such as rehab, hospice, nursing home and psychiatric facilities are non existent at present so there is really no place to discharge patients. What ER facilities there are report being overwhelmed with psychiatric patients.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Question for the White House Press Corps

Last week Scottie McClellan said he wasn't commenting on Abramoff's meetings at the White House unless the press had something specific...
Q Would you qualify it as senior staff that he met with here?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm just saying staff-level meetings is the way I would describe it. And if you have anything specific, I'll be glad to take a look into it.

Q Well, we're counting on you for the specifics --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if there's any reason for me to check into it, please bring it to my attention.

Well here's a specific and I hope someone puts it to Scottie tomorrow.....

Scott, yesterday Time magazine reported on a specific meeting between Abramoff and Karl Rove saying that Abramoff, quote "was also admitted to the White House complex for meetings with several staff members, including one with presidential senior adviser Karl Rove," unquote. Would you please look into this specific meeting between Rove and Abramoff and report back to us?

They Wait

Mimus Pauly of A Mockingbird's Medley has a good Katrina post. Go check it out.
I wonder just how many people are waiting ??

Time: We've Seen the Photos of Abramoff and Bush

Time is reporting today that they have seen 5 photos of Bush with Jack Abramoff and another of Abramoff's kids with Bush and Hastert.....
The President's memory may soon be unhappily refreshed. TIME has seen five photographs of Abramoff and the President that suggest a level of contact between them that Bush's aides have downplayed. While TIME's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them
In one shot that TIME saw, Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians, which owned a casino in southern Texas. Garza, who is wearing jeans and a bolo tie in the picture, told TIME that Bush greeted him as "Jefe," or "chief" in Spanish. Another photo shows Bush shaking hands with Abramoff in front of a window and a blue drape. The shot bears Bush's signature, perhaps made by a machine. Three other photos are of Bush, Abramoff and, in each view, one of the lobbyist's sons (three of his five children are boys). A sixth picture shows several Abramoff children with Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is now pushing to tighten lobbying laws after declining to do so last year when the scandal was in its early stages.

Time also says that Abramoff met with Karl Rove one time. What will Scottie say about this?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Keep W's Hands Off Social Security

This is what Bush's cronyism gets us and it's sickening. You should read the whole article.
On the seventh day of the new Medicare drug benefit, Stephen Starnes began hearing voices again, ominous voices, and he started to beg for the medications he had been taking for 10 years. But his pharmacy could not get approval from his Medicare drug plan, so Mr. Starnes was admitted to a hospital here for treatment of paranoid schizophrenia

Mix-ups in the first weeks of the Medicare drug benefit have vexed many beneficiaries and pharmacists. Dr. Steven S. Sharfstein, president of the American Psychiatric Association, said the transition from Medicaid to Medicare had had a particularly severe impact on low-income patients with serious, persistent mental illnesses.

"Relapse, rehospitalization and disruption of essential treatment are some of the consequences," Dr. Sharfstein said.

24 states have had to take emergency actions to deal with George's mess. In the meantime the mentally ill can't get medications. Many can't afford their medications now even if they can get them......

For the first time, residents of Dayspring Village found this month that they were being charged co-payments for their drugs, typically $3 for each prescription. The residents take an average of eight or nine drugs, so the co-payments can take a large share of their cash allowance, which is $54 a month.

Even after the insurer agreed to relax "prior authorization" requirements for a month, it was charging high co-payments for some drugs - $52 apiece for Abilify, an anti-psychotic medicine, and Depakote.

When one of these folks goes off because they could not get their meds and hurts someone I hope it is remembered who is to blame. George W. Bush. His "reform" was nothing but a handout to insurance companies and Big Pharma and here are the consequences.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Consistent Info" on Missing Persons Leads to Search of 400 NOLA Homes for Bodies

(NOLA Lower 9th Ward---1/6/2006)

I began writing about the need to search NOLA homes for bodies on October 4, the day after the official search was called off. I knew there had to be bodies in the rubble, dozens of bodies, perhaps even hundreds. Some areas had never even been searched as of October 3rd.

Now with 3200 people still listed as missing, Louisiana authorities are calling for the search of 400 homes "because authorities have consistent information about people missing from those locations."

400 Homes!

That means there is a good possibility that the death toll could rise dramatically. We are nearing 5 months since the hurricane struck and there are still 400 families out there who have no answer! This is an atrocity...
It's also possible some of those listed as missing were washed into the gulf or Lake Pontchartrain following the Aug. 29 storm. Others might be in the rubble of homes washed off their foundations or pancaked in place, though Cataldie has declined to speculate how many of the missing might have been killed.
This horror could have been avoided had the search continued in October. As difficult as it may have been, every effort should have been made to recover our citizens
Shame on us.

UPDATE: Here is a CNN story on one woman still searching for her mother. It includes an interview with Dr. Louis Cataldie, LA state's medical examiner, who requested the search......a good guy.
Click here to View Video

(Direct link, 2 minutes)

More Housing Discrimination Against Katrina Victims

Can we just admit we're a racist nation? In a previous post I wrote about housing discrimination by online charities providing housing to Katrina victims. Now the feds are starting an ad campaign to remind tenants and landlords that housing discrimination against Katrina victims is illegal. Why you ask? Because landlords are discriminating against African American Katrina victims.....
HUD officials said the office has received 87 allegations of housing discrimination from evacuees since the hurricane, 14 in Houston. A spokesman for HUD said they do not discuss the details of complaints.

Last month the National Fair Housing Alliance accused five apartment complexes in Texas, Florida and Alabama of discriminating against black hurricane evacuees.

The complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development were made following a test survey by the group, in which white callers posing as hurricane victims were treated more favorably than black would-be applicants in 66 percent of telephone inquiries.

Rental agents informed black callers no apartments were available moments after telling white callers they had space. White callers were quoted lower rents than black callers.

Cue one of those ads for the wingnuts who proclaim Katrina wasn't any harder on blacks than whites.

Damn it. Get. It. Together.

From WaPo...
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) apologized to 33 Republican senators yesterday for a hard-hitting news release that accused them of ethical and legislative lapses, in an awkward about-face that tripped up Democrats' effort to keep the GOP majority on the defensive over alleged corruption.

"I am writing to apologize for the tone of this document and the decision to single out individual senators for criticism in it," Reid said of the 27-page statement sent by his communications office Tuesday.
Spokesman Jim Manley said Reid did not see the document before it was e-mailed to hundreds of journalists and others
As partisan attacks go, the statement was hardly the most scathing seen on Capitol Hill lately.

Sheesh Dems have the biggest scandal in American history withering in their laps. Get it together please! First get your attack together. Second--Attack. Last --Keep on attacking!

24 Hours of the Spectacular Ignorance of Tweety

On Hardball tonight Tweety compared Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden. Yesterday Tweety and Imus did some Bareback Mountain gay bashing. And last night as I watched Hardball he questioned how Laura Bush knows God wants NOLA rebuilt......
MATTHEWS:........She said, “God wants New Orleans to be rebuilt.” How does she know? Why are people talking for a deity? We can argue whether there is a God, but then to be hearing voices. This is the Joan of Arc stuff.
MATTHEWS: She said God wants us to rebuild New Orleans.

ROGERS: Well, maybe he does.

MATTHEWS: Well, sure. Maybe he hasn't give it any thought, I'm not sure. I just don't know, but I wouldn't presume.

ROGERS: I don't want to pick on Mrs. Bush. I don't know what she said. I give her the benefit of the doubt.

MATTHEWS: Well, I just told you what she said. But you can hide behind ignorance.

ROGERS: Ignorance is bliss.

MATTHEWS: I know. I've heard that before.

I thought geez I got to hear what Laura said! But the only thing I've been able to find is what the AP reported......

Asked about the comment, Mrs. Bush joked that she didn't really think she could speak for God. Then she added that she believes Nagin wants New Orleans to be rebuilt.

"He wants people who lived in New Orleans to come back," Mrs. Bush said. "I do, too, and I know the president does, too. You know it's going to take a long time."

Now I don't know where Tweety got his quote but according to AP Laura Bush refused to speak for God THEN said NAGIN wants NOLA rebuilt. I've not been able to find anything that supports what Tweety said. If anyone can point me to something, OK. Otherwise Tweety is just wrong.......Again. Ignorance is bliss indeed.

Bush and Abramoff?

UPDATE: Think Progress decided it is NOT Abramoff.

Think Progress seems to have it.........

I've been going through White House pics (my eyes were bleeding last nite) but have found nothing. But I knew eventually someone would.

This is the MLK Speech from NOLA the Country Should Have Heard

Here is an excerpt of the speech by Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and New Orleanian Wynton Marsalis on MLK Day.....

If you realize the unfortunate consequences of inaction, hopefully you will understand even more the importance of holding both your elders and your peers accountable when it comes to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Stay up on the facts.

What, other than injustice, could be the reason that the displaced citizens of New Orleans cannot be accommodated by the richest nation in the world? You, along with the entire world, saw the bureaucratic fumbling and lack of concern inflicted on those very same citizens at the Superdome and the Convention Center. Who is being held accountable now?

The rebuilding of New Orleans is an important point in the history of the United States. Don't wish for someone else to do later what you can do now. When you perceive a problem, put together a group of friends and be loud in your dissent. When you notice inconsistencies between what is said by government officials and what is done, exercise your individual and collective power to take steps to remove them. Our form of democracy allows you to do that. Remember, the best way to be is to do.

What are you going to do?

Good Question.....

(thanks to reader janeboatler)

3200 Still Listed as Missing after Katrina

I do think many of these people are alive but were reported as missing and later never reported as found. I'm also sure that some of these people are dead. Officials have said unknown numbers were certainly washed out to sea. But just how many suffered this fate? I hope in publicizing this LA authorites will be able to get an accurate accounting.

More than 3,200 people remain listed as missing nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

Nearly 11,500 people have been reported missing to the Find Family National Call Center, a center run by federal and state workers, the agency said Wednesday. All but about 3,200 have been located.

Some of those reported missing likely have already been found by family members but remain on the list because the center hasn't been notified.

Officials were asking people who have reported someone missing but have since found them to notify the Find Family Center.

In Louisiana, the state Department of Health and Hospitals has set up a web site to help reunite families at

Coming Home

Just go read this at Steve Gilliard.

Falling Down

Trent Lott had this reaction to ethics reforms on lobbyist buying meals.....
"Now we're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 20 bucks," said Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. "Where are you going, to McDonald's?"
Why the hell not. It's how the rest of live.

I think it would be good for Trent to have to deal with Rick.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Brownie's A Heck of a Flip-Flopper

Now Drownie Brownie says it was his fault.....
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. - Former FEMA Director Michael Brown on Wednesday accepted a greater share of the blame for the government's failures after Hurricane Katrina, saying he fell short in conveying the magnitude of the disaster and calling for help.

"I should have asked for the military sooner. I should have demanded the military sooner," Brown told a gathering of meteorologists at a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada.

"It was beyond the capacity of the state and local governments, and it was beyond the capacity of FEMA," said Brown, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Brown's remarks Wednesday stood in contrast to his testimony at a congressional hearing in September, when he blamed most of the government's failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin — both Democrats.
OK so what's his angle now?
A. Drownie needs some attention
B. Drownie has a guilt ridden conscience he must unburden
C. Drownie is concerned about the future welfare of his fellow man.
D. Drownie realized he needs to demonstrate he does indeed have a grasp on reality if he is to attract clients to his consulting biz.

I'll go with D of course.

I Didn't Know

Honestly I didn't know she was still alive......
LOS ANGELES - The reclusive Harper Lee - the Greta Garbo of novelists who's been running away from fame ever since her only published book, "To Kill a Mockingbird," appeared 45 years ago - is venturing back into the public eye to support the movie "Capote."

At Vanity Fair's star-studded Golden Globes party Sunday night at the newly renovated Sunset Tower Hotel - and by "newly," I mean the renovations were completed three hours before the party started - I heard that the 79-year-old Lee just faxed a blurb to the film-makers.

"You told the truth about Truman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is a work of art unto itself," wrote Lee, the late Truman Capote's best friend from Alabama, who's portrayed in the movie by Catherine Keener as she helps the flamboyant author research "In Cold Blood."

Thanks to Eli

Mrs. George Bush?

Look at the photo, then the caption.

What's a Corrupt Pol To Do?

If Montana Sen. Conrad Burns thought returning the money would make it all go away well he hit a snag....they won't accept. (via Wampum)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council has rejected a $111,000 donation from the campaign of Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, with some saying the money is tainted because it originally came from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients.

James Steele Jr., also chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Tuesday evening that the council voted not to accept the donation, which was made up of contributions from Abramoff, his associates and his tribal clients.

Julia doney, president of the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council, a member of the tribal leaders council, said that some of the tribes are ``tired of being used'' and do not want to appear as if they are helping Burns with his political troubles.

Just a Reminder

(via TPM: above believed to be Ralston, Reed & Abramoff far right)

As Scottie stonewalls on Abramoff's meetings at the White House it seems just a little reminder is in order that Susan Ralston was Jack Abramoff's executive assistant before she became Karl Rove's executive assistant in 2001.

(Susan Ralston & Prez)

Former Young Republican Paying Snitches

As we fight wars to spread democracy just exactly where is freedom on the march.....

A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one-sided or off-topic" in advocating political ideologies.

The year-old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left-wing or liberal causes.

The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors' lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The Bruin Alumni Assn. is headed by Andrew Jones, a 24-year-old who graduated in June 2003 and was chairman of UCLA's Bruin Republicans student group.

Nagin Ditches CNN Again

This is funny. Anderson Cooper keeps trying to get Nagin on his show and thought he had him last night but Nagin cancelled due to an Emergency To Deal With. So CNN persued him and found him dining at a Bourbon Street restarant with the members of the Bring New Orleans Back commission. In fairness I'm sure he was dealing.....
It was here on the program that we expected to speak with Mayor Nagin, even though getting the mayor to come on the program is only a little easier than herding cats. When we -- when he last appeared on 360, which was about four months ago, shortly before Hurricane Rita, he promised he would be back.

Since then, we have put in dozens of requests for interviews. He's always declined them. Twice, he has agreed to appear, then canceled shortly before airtime, as he did tonight.

This morning, he agreed to appear. And, then, around 6:00 p.m., he confirmed he would appear. Then, shortly after, his office told us the mayor had an emergency to deal with. They said he would not be showing up.

Now, they didn't say what the emergency was. And we're not here to judge a person's emergencies. But, last we checked, the mayor was eating dinner at a restaurant called Bourbon House on the corner of Bourbon Street.

And Sean Callebs is actually standing outside the restaurant right now.

Sean, is the mayor still inside having dinner?

CALLEBS: Well, as best we can tell, Anderson, he is, indeed.

I can you how this evening played out. After we got the call that the mayor was going to cancel the interview, we had a crew out here. Somebody went upstairs to the second floor in a private dining area. They saw the mayor greeting members of the Commission to Bring Back New Orleans.

Now, we had people out here the entire time. There are still a number of city vehicles out here. We went up a short while ago to check once again to see if Mayor Nagin was upstairs on the second floor. This time, those doors were shut, and the mayor's press officer is standing out in front -- Anderson.

Kurtz Gets Defensive of His Swiftboating Article

Howie Kurtz took umbrage today of the "left side of the commentariat" questioning his using the conservative CSN as the source of his article on Murtha. Kurtz appears to say swiftboating is ok because "politcs ain't beanbag" and the media will see through and expose false attacks. He claims after all the media did so with the John Kerry Swiftboaters saying this---" even though the media poked significant holes in their account."

They did? Now that's news.

Perhaps Howie can explain how that story persisted for months if the media had supposedly exposed it to be 'holey' or how the term "Swiftboating" ever came into our lexicon if that affair had been promptly laid to rest by the diligent members of the 'pressitariat'.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Big Guns in Politics

I just found this from Stars & Stripes to be interesting. Strange politics....

Recently, the unit began to curtail its use of so-called “terrain denial” fire as part of an agreement with local tribal leaders and sheiks. Terrain denial fire targets areas that insurgents have used to launch attacks or hide weapons. Insurgents may or may not be in the area when the rounds land, but it discourages them from returning, officers said.

Firing into populated areas can be done only under specific criteria, and Miller said that in the unit’s seven months in Ramadi, he has not heard of one civilian death or injury caused by U.S. artillery here. However, locals are very tired of having the shells land on or near their property, and use of terrain denial fire has become an important bargaining chip in dealing with local tribal leaders.

Commanders agreed to taper off the fire if local sheiks promised to use their influence to discourage insurgent mortar attacks. Whether the terrain denial missions stop entirely depends on what happens next on the part of the sheiks and insurgents.

Nagin’s a Tool

I don't rant often but I'm going to today. I'm pissed off. Maybe it's because we lost a major American city and people have moved on as though the neighbors rickety garage blew over in a windstorm. Or maybe it's that we never even bothered to search for the bodies. Or maybe it's because we have 2 million people displaced but no one, not even FEMA, knew it. Or maybe it's because people are living in tents cause the only way to get a damned FEMA trailer is to chain yourself to one. Or maybe it's because Bush's crony buddies are about to make a killer land grab that will make the Louisiana Purchase look like a dimebag drug deal. Whatever it is I've had it. It's time to get serious about helping our fellow Americans before we lose our last shred of moral decency. So today as people are taking a sharp look at Ray Nagin, here's my take.

Nagin came out of the White Republican Big Business Tent for one day to have his Come to Chocolate moment and got his teeth kicked in. I say good.

It’s time to face reality about Nagin. He is Democrat in name only. We owe him nothing. Throwing a verbal chocolate bone to the people one day of the year doesn’t erase being a tool for Republicans and Big Business the other 364.

I had my Nagin awakening when the levee funding deal went down. The people of NOLA needed Cat 5 levees. The Democrats were lobbying hard for it. But they are expensive and Bush couldn’t part with any of his war bucks or tax cuts for the wealthy for that. But polls show Americans want NOLA rebuilt and 71% say cut Iraq spending or delay/cancel tax cuts to do it. What was the boy king to do?

Get a Tool. And he found one in Nagin. Bush brought Nagin to the White House. Now keep in mind this is at the exact same time that Blanco was refused an appointment with no explanation and LA Dems were lobbying furiously in DC for Cat 5 funding. That was all to end, when Bush announced his funding for levee rebuilding with a smiling, grateful Nagin in tow for all America to see. Impression to be left for Americans? Must be a good thing.

It’s not. What Bush gave was Cat 3 levees. And what were Dems to do as a fellow Dem slurped up the crappy deal. Well they smiled and went along. Bush knew what he was doing. He found a nice wedge tool in Nagin or should I say axe to cut the legs out from under the Democrats. Well it’s time Democrats face reality regarding Nagin and cut him loose….actively and completely. He opened the door and he certainly made his own bed. Tuck him in and say goodnight. Do it now before he gives away the absolutely necessary Baker Bill, which Bush doesn't support either. Or as sure as FEMA will fuck up tomorrow Bush will pull out his tool once again. Make that a multi-tool. Nagin is flexible.

Monday, January 16, 2006

'Bring New Orleans Back' Commissioner's Campaign Contributions:
94% Went to Republicans

"The mission of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission is to work with the mayor to create a master plan by the end of the year that rebuilds New Orleans culturally, socially, economically, and uniquely for every citizen." They recently unveiled their plan which is controversial and has been met with criticism as has the role of commissioner Joseph Canizaro. Joseph Canizaro is a real estate developer who has made large contributions to Bush. (See previous post here)
I was curious not only of Canizaro's campaign contributions but the BNOBC as a whole as they hold great power in NOLA at present. First some background on the composition of the Commmission.

There are 17 members of the Bring New Orleans Back Commission (BNOBC). As race has been an issue in NOLA half of the members are black and half are white with one Hispanic. For bios of each member go here. In brief there are 2 attorneys, 1 community activist, an archbishop, a 9th Ward minister, a jazz musician, one Councilmember, the President of Tulane University and 9 major businessmen.

Researching the Federal Elections Commission data base I found the following based on the compilation of the many individual contributions from 1997-2005 :

Total Campaign Contributions of the Bring New Orleans Back Commissioners:

8 contributors:
3 African Americans contributed $12,400 or less than 1% of the total. A minimum of 80% of that 1% went to Democrats.*

5 Caucasions gave $1,265,864 or 99% of the total. A minimum of 95% of that went to Republicans.**

Total of All Contributions............................$1,278,264
Total Percentage of all contributions
that went to Republicans.................................94%

Details are Below:

I found no campaign contributions listed for the following.....
Kim Boyls.................Attorney
Cesar R. Burgos.......Attorney
Barbara Major.........Community Activist
Archbishop Alfred Clifton Hughes
Fred Luter...............9th Ward Minister
Wynton Marsalis
Oliver Thomas.........Councilmember
Scott S. Cowen.........President Tulane
Anthony Patton.......African American businessman
That leaves 8 of the businessmen all of whom made campaign contributions.

3 of the 8 businessmen are African American. They gave $10,000 to Democrats with one donating $2400 to a PAC that supported Democrats and Republicans. Below are the details.....

African American businessman, Alden McDonald gave $9000 to Democrats including the following:
William Jefferson............$7500 from 1997-2004
John Neely Kennedy......$1000
Marjorie McKeithen.........$500

African American businessman, Daniel Packer gave the following to Democrats:
Mary Landrieu........$250 contribution and -$250 (an apparent disbursement)
* $2400 to ENPAC which gave to Democrats and Republicans.To err on the side of caution however I counted them as Democrat donations even though most of the money went to Republicans.

African American businessman, David White gave $1000 to Democrat Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.

Total campaign contributions for the 3:
To Dems:........................$10,000
To Rep: .......................0-$2400 depending on amount of PAC contribution went to Republicans, though again $2400 was counted as a Dem contribution in the totals.
The remaining 5 business men are all white and gave predominately to Republicans.
** The exception would be some Louisiana Democrats and PAC donations that in some cases supported just a few Democrats. To err on the side of caution however I counted them as Democrat donations even though most of the money went to Republicans.

1. Joseph Canizaro and wife...............
Soft Money: All to Republicans..........................$868,264
Joint fundraising: All to Republicans...................$39,000
Contributions to PACs........................................$141,500
.....$11,500 to Dems. and $9500 to a PACs that gave to a few Dems
Total of $1,048,764 with 98% going to Republicans.

2.Donald Bollinger Jr. and wife..........
Soft Money to RNC Rep Natl State Elec Comm.......$33,950
Contributions to Political Committees.................$118,500
..... $9,485 went to Dem PACs and $12000 went to PACs that gave predominantly to Rep but some Dems
Joint Fundraising Committees................................$4250
Of this $1000 went to Dem. Max Cleland
Total of $156,700 with 86% going exclusively to Republicans

3. Gary Solomon..........
To Republicans...........................................$25,000
To Louisiana Dem. Mary Landrieu.................$1500
To Joint fundraising Committees:
Landrieu .........................................................$500
Loiusiana Senate 02 which had
some contributions to Dems.........................$5000
Dem Senate Campaign Committee..................$4500
Total of $36,500 with 68% going to Republicans

4. James Reiss Jr..........
To Republicans......................................................$8300
To Louisiana Dem. William Jefferson......................$6600
To Louisiana Dem. John Neely Kennedy ................$2500
Total of $17,400 with 48% going to Republicans

5. Mel LeGarde and wife.......
To George Bush........................................................$4000
To RNC.......................................................................$500
To Charmaine Caccioppi Dem (Louisiana House).......$1000
PAC which supported primarily Rep .........................$1000
Total of $6500 with 69% going exclusively to Republicans

Again the Summary:
Total Campaign Contributions of the Bring New Orleans Back Commissioners:
8 contributors
Percentage to Republicans.............................94%

NOLA residents are very concerned about passage of the Baker Bill that would provide funds to pay residents for their flood-ravaged property and the issue of gaining Cat 5 hurricane levee protection. They believe both are essential to rebuilding NOLA. However George Bush has refused to commit support to either. And it is no secret the sway that business leaders and members of the commission have on Bush or he on them. Canizaro has even downplayed the necessity of the Baker bill. Given all of that and the above information I think it is right to question if the BNOBC will represent the best interests of the people of NOLA...... or George Bush and big business.